Strictly speaking, Gris, society and culture are coercive in nature.

Starting with the fact that you don’t ask to be born. There is, however, a great deal of difference between ‘do this, or else’, and ‘do this because it’s good for you… and here’s the proof’. Thanks to the influence of religion and bureaucracy, we are still closer to the former, but we’re getting there.

Also, I’m sick and tired of this misunderstanding of the liberal idea of equality of outcome.

What if equality of outcome is:
Each individual has the necessary support to strive to live in a manner that is individually defined, unimpeded by unnecessary obstruction, and achieved through an appropriate balance of rights and obligations.

What’s wrong with equality of outcome then? Note that “rights and obligations” ARE the social contract, something like:
It is appropriate to provide the populace with an agreed base level of education and healthcare (a right), and for which people must do their best to thrive and live to benefit themselves and others (an obligation).

If we move towards Universal Basic Income (which I think we should), an implied obligation for employers will be to provide work that recognises the dignity of the individual, because it won’t be possible to offer sub-living wage drudgery to people who have alternatives. This obligation is paired with the right to seek one’s fortune through commercial venture. At the moment, however, that right is paired with don’t break any laws (but feel free to subject your minimum wage employees to all the indignities you can dream up, oh, and you can also ignore the sociopathic middle manager that is making everyone’s life miserable).

The biggest problem we have at the moment is that thriving is measured in actual capital rather than social capital. Because of this, education, health-care — and the social safety net more broadly — are seen as costs, rather than as people.

What if a garbage collector sees their job as the perfect combination of camaraderie, daily exercise, and an expression of civic pride? Low paid, but brimming with social capital. Meanwhile, hedge fund managers “extract value” and get paid handsomely for doing so, benefitting a select few, and quite probably negatively impacting a great many. Both are coerced into their respective roles, one way or another, but only one is lauded and treated as a success and, I would submit, it’s the wrong one.

Speaking of hedge fund managers, it is of note that the financial services industry in the UK has grown, as a percentage of GDP, by around 2%, year on year, since the mid-90s, with a brief hiccup in ‘07/’08. In that same time period, there has been almost no change in the percentage of the workforce that are in financial services. This amply illustrates that GDP is a terrible measure of a country’s progress towards ‘the good society’. We need a measure of social capital, such as Bhutan’s happiness index (though I would suggest that contentment is more important than happiness).




Psychology graduate with interests in values and morality, cognition and executive function, and High Functioning Depression. Kiwi living in London, UK.

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Alan Duval, MBPsS

Alan Duval, MBPsS

Psychology graduate with interests in values and morality, cognition and executive function, and High Functioning Depression. Kiwi living in London, UK.

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