Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday, Just 08 (pt. 1 of two parts)

Fairness or evenness is a virtue. Through history – from around the middle Ages at least – observe a great love of chivalry and fairness. If I look at a newspaper from 1809 – I have this – it’s a copy – what I see is concern at a boarding house with separating out the “gentlemen” from the apparent commoners. There is this ad in there, for a boarding house and it is “gentlemen” they are asking for.
In the first chapters of his book on what he thinks is America’s or the U. S.’s “radicalness” in changing over from one socil theme to another, Gordon S. Wood tells of it. With the Revolutionary events of the late 18th cent., America/US apparently went through some kind of a shift. If everything is all about competition and self-interest why did olden-time people prefer those that were “gentle?” The concern in around the 1760’s, says Wood, was always with enquiring as to determine whether an individual had “virtue,” or was truly Upper-Class. I’m using 18th century capitalism there in that sentence! This according to Wood was just before his “radicals” broke with England and established a more egalitarian system but I do not think the concern with who had the Upper-Class quality just dissolved so quickly. You cannot draw a straight line from such ubiquitous cultural pre-occupations as that to the present, and say the present is more, or less, fair and even-handed. Instead, the inherent value of fairness appears to be the same throughout. Fairness is a useful thing to have. It is useful during the ascent of capitalism – so much so that I think it is alright actually, to say that capitalism is based in fairness.
     It implies evenhandedness, and the word itself flourished in some pretty brutal times. Especially women were praised by the just and good, as being “fair.” All of this fairness and goodness becomes much less popular in our age, and now we hardly even know what the word means exactly. Does that mean we are less fair than those of say the 14th century?
     Businessmen are not fair today – no, they are brutal competitors interested in return on equity whatever that means.
     But how exactly are we to attempt to live in a world without the concept of fairness? When you dismiss the concept of the “fair,” what do you exactly dismiss it in favor of? Brute force? Strangulation your bag?

Is fairness basic to capitalism, and, if so, in what way? [t.b.c.]

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