4 years ago: The workers in the vineyard

Feb. 24, 2009, on this blog: The workers in the vineyard

These are warped, stunted, soulless creatures who lie awake at night worrying that somehow, somewhere, some poor person might be catching a break that they didn’t 100-percent deserve. Some poor family might be getting extra food stamps. Some poor mother might be using WIC to get the good cheese.

  • Sgaile-Beairt

    …good christian businessman muzzles the oxen that treadeth out his grain at ‘Bread of Life”….

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/16/panera-bakers-union_n_2688639.html

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Every time I see examples of this kind of crabs in a bucket syndrome I have to wonder how relatively non-poor people can be so spitefully petty about what poor people get.

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

     My guess is they think affluence should be directly correlative with income. That is they think no one with less income than them should ever be able to afford better stuff than them. (Not even when it’s a motability car specially adapted and paid for by the UK Gov and which even billionaires can get if they meet the criteria y.y). They’re sulking because they can’t afford thing x so why won’t the government buy it for them as well. People make me facepalm sometimes.

  • mud man

    Personally, I think the workers who stood around all day at the Home Depot parking lot waiting for something useful to do deserve two denarii, because they were faithful to the end. The ones with a steady job (and probably lunch laid on, or at least good water) should be doubly grateful.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    I think that there is a degree of, “If I’d known I could have…”

    For example whenever the topic of credit card debt forgiveness comes up my mother isn’t exactly in favor (nor exactly opposed) but kind of sort of angry/frustrated because she’s made sure to stay out of credit card debt and, assuming credit card debt relief were to come to pass,  our standard of living could have been so much better and our financial situation so much less precarious if she’d instead gotten into credit card debt.

    If the workers who showed up first had known that they could get the same wages showing up later in the day maybe they could have worked another job, or relaxed a bit, or spent some time with their kids, or whatever.  But they didn’t know, and so they spent all day working in the vineyard.

    Also the last being paid first is just kind of weird.  Sorry Jesus, but it is.  Pay the first ones first and then they can go away and be happy at getting what they were promised, the next ones next and they can go away and be happy at getting as much as the first ones, and so on.

    But the point is, if you’re working at the vineyard and you’re not amoung the last to show up, in hindsight it feels like you should have waited.

    -

    Which is not to say that I disagree with helping those who need help.  I’m on foodstamps and am trying to get more aid.  (If I can get my medication and other medical care paid for maybe in the future I can work and pay taxes and all that stuff.)

    Without the foodstamps I would either go hungry or the working members of my family would be financially fucked because it would fall to them to stop me from starving.

    The rich and even non-rich but well off should not envy the poor.  But when the poor envy the poor I understand.

    And I also understand the fear of people gaming the system because I know people who are.  So I know it does happen.  I will not turn them in because I love them and in this case love trumps law.  Love even trumps doing the right thing because the resources they get would be better used on people who did need it.

    (And then I’m left with the question, “Yes they’re gaming the system, but could they survive without doing that?”  The ability to trick the system into giving you aid you don’t really qualify for does not necessarily imply the ability to support yourself.  Because if they couldn’t support themselves then I don’t really care what lies their aid is based on, I want them getting aid.  I’d also like it if one of them would stop being on (illegal non-health-related) drugs and the other would stop being a fundamentalist.  But that’s secondary to their survival.)

    But at the end of the day it comes to this: People need help.  We as a society are morally obligated to help them.  If in that process we also help people who don’t really need the help… so fucking what?  I’d rather have a plethora of people on food stamps in spite of not needing them than one person go hungry because they couldn’t get food stamps and did need them*.

    People envy the free ride others supposedly get.  If they envy the free ride so much why don’t they try it for themselves?  Surely if it’s so fucking easy to get undeserved help and these people are so much better than the people getting the undeserved help, they are themselves capable of getting the undeserved help that’ll stick them on the free ride.  Right?

    So why not go and try it for themselves?

    -

    I get feeling like you’ve lost out on an opportunity when you made sure that you could afford your mortgage and then you hear about mortgage relief for those who didn’t.  But ultimately a lot of people were screwed over and they need help.  Furthermore helping them helps all of us because the real job creators are the consumers.  If consumers don’t consume the jobs dry up.  If consumers can’t consume because they’re worried about losing their home, not having enough money to feed their family, or whatever else, the jobs dry up.

    If we want the economy fixed, which will help all of us, we need to help the actual job creators.  That means the poor and middle class.  Two groups that are getting closer and closer as time goes on.

    My family looks middle class, but if you look at our finances I’m not sure we’re still there.  Surely that’s better than being poor both financially and in terms of living conditions and outward appearance, but it does raise the question of whether either of my parents will ever be able to retire, whether my house will be taken from me, whether my sister will ever be able to have stability, and so forth.

    -

    * One last thing.  I know, giant wall of text, but one last thing.

    Were I setting things up, this is how I would do it.  I’ve never made any secret of how I’d change the tax code, so no need to get into that, but this is what I would do with respect to aid given to people:

    Everyone gets a government allowance.  This much for food, this much for housing, this much for… whatever.  Everyone from the richest to the most poor.  It cuts out the whole envious argument entirely, as well as the “You take away the incentive to work because then they’ll lose the benefits.”

    You still have the benefits no matter how much you make.  Bill Gates gets foodstamps.

    What this does is provide a solid floor.  Everyone can be sure of food, shelter, medical care, education, and so forth.  Even if you never earn a cent you can be sure of getting these things.  But you’ve still got an incentive to work because you probably don’t want to be on the floor.  Maybe you want more/better food than the payment from the government allows you to buy.  Maybe you want more toys.  Maybe you just like money for money’s sake.  Maybe you want satellite TV or whatever.  Or maybe, and this is in fact true of a lot of people, you just want to work for the sake of working.  Because it makes you feel useful.

    But what it does is it takes away at least some reason for the envy (“Why are you envious of X getting Y without working for it?  You get Y without working for it too,”) and it takes away the idea that these are things that only affect the poor.  If you increase foodstamp benefits then everyone gets a bigger check every month.  (Actually it goes onto a card, that looks a fair amount like a credit card.)  If you increase X then you increase it for everyone.

    Now, in some cases, the mortgage crisis as one example but natural disasters apply as well and I’m sure other things do too, across the board aid just makes no sense.  But at least when it comes to the basics (food, shelter, medical care, education) I don’t see why we shouldn’t be giving it to everyone.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     I don’t think there actually is an adequate solution as long as you are proceeding from a system built on the underlying assumption that there needs to be a correlation between the amount a person contributes to the growth of the economic system and whether or not society deigns to allow that person to continue having food, shelter, health care and the other stuff necessary to living either (a) as a human being or (b) at all.

  • smrnda

    A lot of people getting government aid work. Low wage workers, who have to bust their assess to please middle and upper middle class and upper class customers and who get paid low wages for it, then require government aid to be able to survive. The very people who rely on their labor resent the idea that their tax money is going to keep the workers who are exploited in their interest alive. 

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    I don’t see why we shouldn’t be giving it to everyone.

    I dunno.

    If I have an aid budget that is adequate to provide a “floor” to the poorest 5% of the population, and I instead spend that budget on providing a floor to 100% of the population, it seems the floor has to be quite a bit lower. I’m not crazy about that idea.

    Of course, if I assume I’m not constrained by a budget, that concern doesn’t apply, but I don’t see why I ought to assume that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    What do you mean when you say ‘floor’?

  • arcseconds

     I think the answer is relatively straightforward.

    We’re pack animals, and society is a dominance hierarchy. One of the main ways we have to tell where everyone is in the pack is how much stuff we have.

    Betas instinctively offer appeasement behaviour to the alphas, and dominance behaviour to omegas who challenge the hierarchy.

    Poor people gaining stuff is such a challenge.

    compare also DuBois’s argument about the wages of whiteness — even poor white people could expect deferential behaviour from blacks.  It’s pretty hard to deny the similarity of form and function of deferential behaviour in humans and appeasement behaviour in non-human animals, so there’s an obvious connection there, and the outrage at blacks getting various kinds of treatment previously reserved for whites is not dissimilar (and sometimes identical with) the outrage at poor people getting ‘undeserved’ welfare, so we’ve got a strong connection to the case before us, too.

    of course, there’s a lot more going on with humans (and even with non-human animals, for that matter).  Plenty of people aren’t interested in participating in the dominance hierarchy. 

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

     Of course, if I assume I’m not constrained by a budget, that concern doesn’t apply, but I don’t see why I ought to assume that.

    One will always be constrained by a budget, but it doesn’t have to be the budget we have now.  The tax code is seriously fucked up, and reforms in that area can do a lot to expand the available budget*.  There’s also the issues of how scale can effect negotiating power.  If you’re providing healthcare to everyone then you’ve switched to single payer which is one of the best ways to keep healthcare costs down.

    (It also makes it in the government’s best interest to have medicines be developed by universities and such who will give them to manufacturers for free which basically amounts to instant generics, so investment in that area -grants to universities- can get costs down.)

    If I were able to make massive reforms to the way we do things (which would be necessary for what I’ve described), the tax code would be part of it (also looking at where the cost overruns are and what can be done to stop them.)

    -

    *Also, the IRS is underfunded.  This is seriously absurd.  At the moment it is so underfunded that every 1 dollar we put into it we get ten dollars back.  Obviously that return would diminish as the IRS got closer to being properly funded, but right now it’s basically free money waiting to be had.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     People envy the free ride others supposedly get.  If they envy the free
    ride so much why don’t they try it for themselves?  Surely if it’s so
    fucking easy to get undeserved help and these people are so much better
    than the people getting the undeserved help, they are themselves capable
    of getting the undeserved help that’ll stick them on the free ride.
     Right?

    Conservatives do and think a lot of silly things, but I’ve always found Poor-Envy to be one of the most laughable.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     I mean to refer to whatever it is Chris was referring to when they talked about providing a floor. Admittedly, I’m not exactly clear on what that is, but it seems to include “food, shelter, medical care, education, and so forth.”

    Why do you ask?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (nods) Sure, if the budget is sufficiently unconstrained that expanding the community we’re providing that “floor” to to include, say, people like me doesn’t take anything of value away to people who actually need it, then my concern doesn’t apply.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I don’t know that I can words it, but there isn’t any ‘only for the poorest five percent’ when talking about providing basic necessities. There’s people who have enough and people who don’t, and definition of ‘basic necessities’ may vary (or may have to vary depending on available resources’, but the government is obligated to make sure everyone has access to those resources. Somehow. That might be ensuring everyone has a living-wage job, or properly funding food stamps and cash aid, or a guaranteed minimum income, or whatever, but once it’s established that the government has that obligation, the government has that obligation. To ALL the people who live under its protection.

  • Kevin Alexander

    I want to replace capitalism with mannaism. In a mannaist economy the federal bank would issue every citizen a bank card and deposit x dollars each week into their account. Then entrepreneurs would hustle to get the money by providing goods and services. Then the bank would tax the businesses to fund the scheme and the fiscal circuit is complete.
    It’s based on my economic theory that money is blood. If it doesn’t circulate to every cell then the body must die.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    What I’m saying is that, for example, I would much rather the government take the money that it could spend paying for food for me, since I can afford to buy my own food without much difficulty, and instead spend it on paying for food for someone who can’t actually afford food.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I thought it quite self-explanatory. Look up the concept of the Guaranteed Annual Income.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Also, a note about universal benefits. Canadian health insurance is popular precisely because it applies to everyone. Sure, the rich folks can go jet off to Jamica or Bermuda and have their private extra-gold instant MRI or whatever, but that’s their $$ to waste. But they still get health insurance cards and they can still see a doctor or go to a hospital like anyone else would.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If you can afford your own food, then clearly the governmental obligation that you be fed is being fulfilled. What’s the problem?

  • arcseconds

     A universal living wage is actually a reasonably popular suggestion in some circles.

    You can see there that it’s been argued that this would actually have a less overall cost than current means-tested benefits.  It’s certainly a very simple rule to apply, which means very low overheads, and for people who already pay more tax than they’d receive  it basically works out as a tax credit — in those cases it’s a not terribly radical reform to the tax system.

    One of the things that I like about it is that it removes the perverse incentives that exist around the margins of traditional unemployment benefits.  Getting a part-time minimum wage job on top of an unemployment benefit often means that you effectively get paid $2/hr or less once you’ve had your benefit reduced.  Sometimes it actually costs you!

    I think I could even be convinced that with such a wage in place that there’s no need for the minimum wage.  If you’re continued survival in a modest state is guaranteed, you don’t have a starvation gun pointed at your head, so whether or not it’s worth it to you to work for $2/hr turns into more like something I could accept as a rational economic decision and a fair basis for negotiation.

    (Immigrant workers probably do rather put paid to that notion, though)

  • Chuck Finley

    Where did you study evolutionary psychology and who did you study it under?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    I’m not too enthused about evo-psych m’self, but anyone who accepts the theory of evolution and accepts that we share common traits with other mammals would be a fool to disregard that there are similar instincts at work in group-social non-human mammals, since we’re also a group-social species, particularly among children.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    If I am not receiving food because I can afford my own food, no problem.

    Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

    It isn’t clear to me that what you’re saying is the same as what Chris was saying, to which I was responding, but perhaps I misunderstood Chris.

  • Lori

     

    If you can afford your own food, then clearly the governmental
    obligation that you be fed is being fulfilled. What’s the problem?   

    Chris’ suggestion involved the government making payments in some form to everyone, regardless of actual need. Dave pointed out that if you’re making payments to everyone the payments will, of necessity, be smaller than if you are  only making payments to the subset of the population who actually needs them. Dave would rather that larger payments go to the truly needy, than smaller payments go to everyone. He would specifically rather than his share go to people who are actually in need, instead of to him because he can afford to buy food without the payments.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Okay, all is clear now–though I see no reason why Dave could not accept the payment and then turn around and hand it to someone in greater need or to a private charitable organization.

  • Lori

    I suppose it would depend in part on how the payments were given out. There’s also the issue of Dave possibly not knowing & not wanting to have to know exactly who needs the money the most. If the government is looking at that and dealing with it then Dave doesn’t have to. He can give his charitable donations to causes that he may know more about.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     (nods) There’s no reason I couldn’t do that in that situation, agreed, and it would be a fine thing for me to do. As long as they get what they need without having to depend on my charity, it’s all good.

  • mud man

    Here http://crookedtimber.org/2012/08/05/universal-basic-income-how-much-would-it-cost/ is John Quiggen the economics of a “floor” such as Dave talks about. Lots of useful stuff in comments also. I say again, I think the real point is that people would rather work as long as we can think of our work as useful, which is an area of modern life that needs improvement. Of course one person’s art project is somebody else’s cultural decadence, so we’re back to tolerance again. “See the lilies of the field … “

  • arcseconds

     I don’t understand what you’re getting at with your question?

    For a start, my little sketch would, I think, properly count as comparative psychology, not evolutionary psychology.     You don’t need a theory of evolution to look at similarities between humans and animals — people have been doing that for thousands of years.

    For it to be evolutionary psychology, there would, I think,  have to be an argument as to how this behaviour is adaptive, or stems from pyschological traits that were adaptive, or at least look into the evolutionary history of the traits. 

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Conservatives do and think a lot of silly things, but I’ve always found Poor-Envy to be one of the most laughable.

    This makes me think of a line from Soon (which is on my brain today since someone mentioned it yesterday):

    In Atheistopia (our term for the atheist-run world Jerry Jenkins created, which he seems to think is quite horrible but actually sounds awesome in many ways)…

    It had been years since [Paul, the "hero"] had encountered [a homeless person], what with modern anti-delusional medications, strict no-loitering laws, and aid programs more profitable than panhandling.

    It’s that last bit, “more profitable than panhandling,” that always gets me.  Because that’s why people panhandle, right?  For profit.  Because it’s a “free ride.”  Because it’s so much more fun to sit on a dirty street in the cold and wind and hold out your hand than it is to Get a Job, You Lazy Bum.  That is seriously the way some people think.

  • smrnda

     On food though, given that the US government subsidizes agriculture to a great degree, it’s probably unlikely that very many people don’t end up, in some sense, with some part of their food costs being subsidized by the government.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    The main problem with evo-psych is people come up with the most amazingly stupid rationales for bad behavior (usually in males, in which case it’s dickbag behavior), by trying to cast a ‘scientific’ veneer of respectability over said actions.

    Just to give you a notion, there are people who use evo-psych to claim that rape is some kind of survival promoting reproductive mechanism

    Uh yeah

    I DO NOT COMPREHEND THIS.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino
  • EllieMurasaki

    That is truly distressing.

  • arcseconds

    Even if it is cultural decadence, there’s ever so many much worse things you could be being paid to do.

    We could think of this as paying people off! They get to live lives of idle cultural decadence, and in return they don’t consume much in the way of resources, don’t exploit anyone,  and don’t try to trick the rest of us into buying crap or voting for dubious political causes.

  • David Starner

     At the same time, you’re cutting out a lot of bureaucracy, and in the process providing a lot better service to those 5%, by not forcing them to keep up with the bureaucracy and making it a lot harder to harass them about what they do with their food money.

  • arcseconds

     I’m not a fan of evolutionary psychology as it’s currently practiced, either (or at least, as it was a decade ago, when I did have some exposure to it.  Maybe they’ve cleaned their act up since then. )

    It seems to be an excercise in armchair reasoning where handwaving plausibility (according to their presumptions, at least) replaces proof, and cultural notions get reified as natural behaviour.   I saw an argument given by a philosopher of science who demolished an evolutionary psychology paper using cladistics once.  You have to be suspicious of a field that pretends to be a specialisation of an existing discipline which doesn’t even bother to use one of the major tools of the discipline.

    (I did rather enjoy Ramachandran’s article  “Why Gentleman Prefer Blondes”, though. )

    However, again, I’m a bit puzzled as to why you are telling me this.  Does it have some relevance to my sketch involving pack behaviour?   As I said I don’t think it’s evolutionary psychology, but even if it was, carping about evolutionary psychology in general is kind of guilt by association.

    If it’s just a general rant about evolutionary psychology, then I totally understand — I’ve indulged in such things myself :-].

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Eh, I just wasn’t sure if you knew the bad rap evo-psych gets which is why Chuck Finley was tweaking you over it.

    You may also notice my defence of comparative patterns of behavior.

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    @arcseconds:disqus 

    If I’m following you correctly you’re comparing human behavior to, say, how a wolf pack behaves in captivity.  It’s the last two words of the previous sentence that interest me, as possibly indicated by them being italicized.

    Any particular reason for choosing that comparison?

  • AnonymousSam

    Then again, as you pointed out repeatedly, Atheistopia really is a bloody awesome place — and Jenkins seems to continually imply just how horrifying it is that they’ve done things like cure cancer and make cars that travel at over 100 miles an hour safely and without a drop of gasoline. Those monsters!

  • arcseconds

     Ah, so that’s what he’s doing :]

    Yes, I noticed that (thanks!), which was another reason I was confused. 

    Anyway, I’m glad to hear evolutionary psychology has a dim reputation, even though it has meant I’ve been caught up in some kind of mistaken bad company objection.   I kind of had a vague  impression that lots of people liked it and the criticisms weren’t all that well-known — too many discussions with scienterrific fanboys and seeing those awful ‘did you know’ psychology bits in newspapers, I guess.

  • AnonymousSam

    I deeply wish we lived in a nation where survival wasn’t dependent on luck and ingenuity and people not being exploitive and tribal. My brain is engineered to write, but I’ve never completed something that seemed worthy of being published (the latest story, I hope, will be an exception — it currently stands at 20K words for those who are following my progress). Although I have a college degree, the only jobs I’ve ever had paid less than minimum wage (a lot less) and further wrecked my health. I’m praying that I can complete this in a reasonable amount of time and that it takes off, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s a pipe dream, but the only one I’ve got.

    It’s sad to think that there are a lot of people who’d see my death as no big thing because I’m clearly just a parasite trying to mooch off the welfare teat (nevermind that I don’t qualify for it). I feel like I’ve given it a real try. I still apply to jobs. Why should my life or death be dependent on whether people feel I deserve a chance, when all I want to do is write something that I hope will inspire others, or at least entertain them?

  • http://www.facebook.com/WingedWyrm Charles Scott

    A normal rule of destopian societies, at least these days, is to couch them in terms that would make them all tempting.  Then, reveal that the core is something so horrible as to make it all meaningless or turn all the good things into bad things.

    In Brave New World, there is peace, the people are all well fed, through medication nobody grows old (but they are still mortal and do reach an end of their lives, but they don’t get wrinkles or suffer the normal ailments), the economy works and nobody truly suffers.

    On the other hand, nobody is allowed any depth of intellectual or emotional life.  Everybody belongs to everybody else, so one has an obligation to spread one’s sexuality around.  Nobody is allowed the quiet, alone moments to think, contemplate, or even something so simple as be content in life.

    So, I can see how Atheistopia would be awful despite the lack of poverty, cancer cures, and 100 MPH safe ecofriendly cars.  But, what is the core that Jenkins expects us to hate?

  • Lliira

     Maybe they’ve cleaned their act up since then.

    They have gotten worse.

    From claiming that all men are naturally rapists and all women naturally want to be raped, to claiming that lighter skin in women is inherently more beautiful than darker skin, to claiming men naturally want sex with lots of women but women only want sex with one man, to the old standby of black people are stupider-but-better-at-sports than white people. They are willfully ignorant of every form of science, whether “hard” science or social science.

    If you can think of anything anyone has ever said to justify their misogyny, racism, any -ism at all, it’s in evo psych. Because that is what evo psych is for. People who actually want to study human behavior go into real fields like anthropology, biology, and history, not fields that are bullshit designed to tell rich straight able-bodied white cismen they’re allowed to do whatever they like to the rest of us, because it’s what God — oh sorry, I mean nature of course — intended.

  • AnonymousSam

    Yeah, I was thinking of the Coldfire Trilogy’s version of the utopian society. It seems like the pinnacle of humanity until it’s revealed that part of the cost of its upkeep entails sacrificing certain children, and that that the faith instilled in the populace is actually the harbinger of a gigantic massacre waiting to happen. That’s how Soon winds up, having atheists hunting down and killing Christians because… y’know… Christians are evil.

    Of course, the biggest issue is the author, Jenkins, and his complete and utter lack of how atheists and religions really work. If a world came to the point that the setting of Soon has accomplished, it’s hard to say what it would be like, but “I sure hope I get to kill me some Christians, har har har!” would probably be uttered by no one, ever.

  • arcseconds

    Dominance heirarchies are observed all over the place, not just in wolves, so no, I’m not choosing that particular comparison.

    My understanding is that this kind of analysis also applies to say, baboon phlanges, and alpha male baboons actually undergo physiological changes due to their alphaness.

    I’m far from being an expert in animal psychology, and I’ll admit right now (if it wasn’t already obvious) that this is sheer speculation (uninformed speculation?! on the internet!?!?).   So I’m sure there’s a lot of things wrong with it, but I’m also pretty sure it’s a lot better than other theories on the matter — such as the notion that getting the vapours over an anecdote about a poor person daring to have a modern communication device is actually rational at all.

    However, having said that there are two points I can make with regards to captive wolves.

    Firstly, my understanding is that the criticism of dominance in wolf packs based on captive wolves is not denying that dominance and appeasement behaviour don’t exist in the wild, and it’s not denying that dominance doesn’t have its part to play in wild packs.  It’s more that it’s wrong to assume its the only or even main social dynamic at play, whereas it does seem to become the main form of interaction in captive packs.

    I’m not assuming dominance is the only factor at play in humans.  All I really need for my sketch to work is that human beings are often concerned with hierarchy (surely that’s undeniable) and that some behaviour of humans with respect to hierarchy is comparable to dominance behaviour observed in other social animals (which is more contraversial).

    Secondly, I think captive wolf packs may well be a better analogy for modern human society than wild wolf packs.   My understanding is that the thing about captive packs is not so much that they’re captive, but that the wolves are adults who don’t know one another, who are just thrust into sorting out a pack organisation from scratch.     That seems to me to be more analogous to a large-scale human society than a wild pack where they’ve all known one another since childhood and are generally related to one another.   Especially if we’re talking about attitudes to people unknown to the subject, or groups of people who are in their ‘out group’.

    A wild wolf pack should be more analogous to a small scale society.

    There are some avenues for testing my little theory in there.

  • http://heathencritique.wordpress.com/ Ruby_Tea

    Plus, in the world of Soon, religion has been outlawed for thirty years.  Meaning that no one has had the chance to learn about Jesus–it literally is the “Jesus?  Who’s that?” world that RTCs think exists today.

    Yet, the moment our “hero,” Paul, starts praying to God to kill people, God goes right ahead and does it.  To the tune of thousands…then millions.  All of whom are condemned to hell for not believing, even though they lived in a world where it was almost impossible to believe.

    FWIW, I don’t think religion should be outlawed (I know, shocking), but Jenkins never does get around to explaining how the advances of this brave new world are in fact masking the horror.  And Jenkins does himself no favors by only showing secret, underground RTC cells, and no secret underground cells of Jews or Wiccans or Hindus or Muslims.

    Because RTC-ianity isn’t a religion, don’tcha know–it’s the truth

  • http://www.facebook.com/WingedWyrm Charles Scott

    So, the atheists would hunt down and kill Christians because…?  Is that, in some way, necessary for the utopic aspects to happen?

  • arcseconds

     that about exhausts my understanding of wolf packs, though, so if you know more, do please fill me in.

    I’ve had this idea in the back of my mind for some time (I’m sure it’s not original with me — seems kind of obvious (not obviously true, but an obvious line of enquiry)).  Even if it’s all rubbish in this particular case, it would be surprising if we couldn’t learn anything at all about human behaviour from the behaviour of other social mammals, so I’ve always been meaning to investigate the matter a little more.


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