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GOGSoc Episode V: The GOG Strikes Back

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    (Original post by the_alba)
    XXXX has a very dictatorial HoD now, and she is routinely tearing down any democratic process still standing. There was a job advertised in December which I applied for and got rejected from before interview. Last week, David was sent an email saying 'an appointment has now been made' - the HoD has scrapped presentations (which staff members would attend and give feedback on), and has now started refusing to let any other member of staff see even who was shortlisted. The only member of the department to interview applicants was her, the head. She is known to recruit in her own image (ie. deeply stupid, incapable jobsworths) and is now legally able to singlehandedly destroy the standards of the dept from the inside. Morale amonst staff is rock bottom, and the students are being screwed over too. Power within these bureacratic structures is a very dangerous thing in the wrong hands. /rant over
    Urgh. Yeah morale in my office is at rock bottom. Actually, the closest I've seen to a lively enthusiasm in months was during the pension strike last November when we suddenly felt as though we had a purpose.
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    Curse the bugs I go away for 12 hours and suddenly ten social and political debates spring up! :grumble:
    (Original post by Drogue)
    I'd more think something being left (or right) wing enough to be remarked upon is an aberration, whether it's seen as positive or negative or simply unusual. It's not that being right wing is normal, especially not in this thread...
    Do you mean an aberration in normative or descriptive terms? Namely are you simply saying that it inevitably extreme, or are you trying to suggest that an extreme view is always bad?
    (Original post by obi_adorno_kenobi)
    Potty and I are not exactly unknown to each other so she can do a virtual slap in me face in her own time. However when it comes to privately-educated individuals, I'm afraid I have much less respect than I do for those who aren't. Neither you nor Hobnob nor Drogue nor anyone else will ever change my mind on that. The schools should be abolished, their assets stripped and turned over to state schools that desparately need them, and there should be a penalty imposed on all those who have gone to private and public schools when it comes to jobs, university entrance, and the tax system. Then, and only then, will they truly "get it".
    I completely disagree with it and think you should realise that you're giving anybody with left wing/socialist views a bad name. Your argument comes out of bitterness and resentment, not out of clear thinking.
    It would serve no purpose at all, and indeed be utterly ridiculous, to punish people for being lucky in life.

    I do agree that there should be no private schools. Getting rid of them would not magically make the inequalities go away, but it would still help. All the research I've seen has shown that any kind of 'setting and streaming', or splitting up of pupils by any categorising at all simply leads to certain groups getting all the respect and privilege, and others doing worse than they would otherwise have done thanks to the category they find themselves in getting negative stigma.

    (Original post by hobnob)
    Well no, quite literally not.:p: But this isn't about the fact that apotoftea went to a posh private school and that Latin is a terribly middle-class subject and plenty of people can manage just fine without it. It's about the fact that it's annoying when schools prevent their students from taking the subjects they'd like to take because of a silly technicality. Surely when a private school does that it's just as bad as when a state comprehensive does it?
    Agreed.
    (Original post by BO'H)
    scratch a lefty, find a totalitarian.
    That is utter rubbish and displays a good deal of ignorance about the many hundreds of different views and opinions held by the Left. :nn:
    (Original post by flying plum)
    :eek: what's wrong with lawyers?
    Bear in mind that my experience is tainted by Cambridge lawyers who aren't necessarily the same as lawyers elsewhere... the law friends I do have all did law somewhere else! In short I have just disliked most lawyers I've met, and found them to be very arrogant and to hold very offensive views. They also give the impression that lots of the finance/investment banking wannabes do on TSR... namely that they're hell bent on becoming as rich as possible, no matter what they have to do to get there. I don't personally value being wealthy, and I don't feel that its the only marker of success or happiness in life, so I can't relate to this particular motivation in life. Its just about different values, basically. A lot of lawyers start out wanting to be human rights barristers but end up just going into corporate law where all the jobs are. Actually studying law can have a negative socialisation effect on a person at Cambridge since the atmosphere is very competitive and cut throat, and also paints any interest in welfare/support as weakness. Many law students I know experienced a lot of abuse from academics in the Cambridge law department in the form of very extreme verbal abuse and attacks (frequent swearing, being told they'll get thirds/never amount to anything/are stupid/a failure, etc.), which probably doesn't have the best influence. The lawyer friends I get on with are all into human rights stuff rather than corporate law, or people who were in corporate law and then got out fast :dontknow:
    (Original post by the_alba)
    This is a pretty Daily-Maily brush-tarring of what people on benefits are like, and is pretty offensive (some idiot girl?)
    :ditto:
    The way taxation is calculated is very problematic, but if it were done fairly and proportionally then it would definitely be the right way to run society.@The Lyceum: it is definitely not just peoples' own hard work which allows them to become wealthy. The way that the economy is managed has a big effect on how much individuals can earn. Over the last 30 years income inequality has risen exponentially as a direct result of the introduction of neo liberal policies such as deregulation and the stripping off of constraints from the market, as well as the intensification of financial practices and flows across borders. Since being able to profit from such a scenario depends on your position in life and whether you're able or privileged enough to gain a high position in a corporation and business, I don't agree that anybody should be allowed to earn pots of money without tax. Furthermore most of the worst problems in society are correlated to income inequality, so its not healthy or in the national good to allow such extremes.
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    (Original post by Athena)
    [COLOR="#4B0082"]On a different topic - an academic (anthropology) I sat next to at dinner last night said she won't take any PhD students atm, because she thinks it's immoral, as there are no jobs for them when they graduate [/COLOR]
    :lol:
    Oh dear.

    Then again I have much the same opinion about schools that encourage their pupils to do vocational qualifications and apprenticeships. There aren't any apprenticeships, and there aren't any jobs out there! They're just sentencing their students to doom.
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    (Original post by IlexAquifolium)
    That's quite scary. I know how much disagreement there usually is in my department's appointments committees (which include panel interviews, presentations, etc as is the case at most departments) - three hour blazing rows, in some cases. I can't imagine how they get away with having a hiring committee of one. Mental.
    Yes, the rows and meetings are how it should be - it ensures fairness and everyone having a say. It helps to make the best appointment for the university. The HoD in question arranged the panel so that she would be the only department member - the others were A&H dean types, with whom, as HoD, she has a mutually benefical 'understanding' (they can enforce whatever they want on the department, in return for her getting her way with appointments). She's always hated me, since I was an undergrad, so it's safe to say I'll never get a job here now Wouldn't want one anyway.

    (PS - love the fact that Mr Alba's academic profile features a cat )
    That is our awesome cat Percy, currently sitting on me Very old picture though - he hasn't had a beard in like seven years, and is far better off without it!
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    I completely disagree with it and think you should realise that you're giving anybody with left wing/socialist views a bad name. Your argument comes out of bitterness and resentment, not out of clear thinking.

    It would serve no purpose at all, and indeed be utterly ridiculous, to punish people for being lucky in life.
    Well my stance on private schools is one of my oldest and is probably the thing that clicked me into leftist ways of thinking. I will happily admit that my view has gotten steadily worse over the years and was especially soured at Oxford. It has become bitter and resentful, it began out of principle and I hope there is still a kernel of that in there. That said, I don't really care whether my view "[gives] anybody with left-wing/socialist views a bad name" that's exaggeration and you know that. Private schools are defended on the basis that they give generous bursaries. Fee defended hers on the basis that about 1/3 got a nearly completely free education. A third of my classmates received free school meals and local authority uniform grants. That's the kinds of worlds we're talking about.

    We punish people for being lucky in life all the time. Is it discrimination (punishment even) to force higher earners to pay greater levels of tax? Or is it progressive?
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    (Original post by obi_adorno_kenobi)
    Well my stance on private schools is one of my oldest and is probably the thing that clicked me into leftist ways of thinking. I will happily admit that my view has gotten steadily worse over the years and was especially soured at Oxford. It has become bitter and resentful, it began out of principle and I hope there is still a kernel of that in there. That said, I don't really care whether my view "[gives] anybody with left-wing/socialist views a bad name" that's exaggeration and you know that. Private schools are defended on the basis that they give generous bursaries. Fee defended hers on the basis that about 1/3 got a nearly completely free education. A third of my classmates received free school meals and local authority uniform grants. That's the kinds of worlds we're talking about.

    We punish people for being lucky in life all the time. Is it discrimination (punishment even) to force higher earners to pay greater levels of tax? Or is it progressive?
    It wasn't an exaggeration at all! I was entirely serious. If you allow emotions to taint your political arguments, then people will lose respect for the view that you are espousing.
    Its very obvious - as the others have pointed out - that children sent to private schools cannot be blamed for the existence of private schools, the inequality and injustice of society, and the problems enabled by private schools.
    There is absolutely no good that would be done in 'punishing' people who have been privileged through no fault or action of their own. In the same way that I criticise fundamentalist evangelical Christians for giving Christianity a bad name (by emotional, incensed ranting about abortion, homosexuality and other things), you are misrepresenting leftism in a damaging way.

    You also implied in your last post that privileged people could in no way understand or comprehend what it means to suffer. That is absolute bull crap. Some of the most influential and insightful commentators on social justice, human rights and inequalities have come from extremely privileged backgrounds themselves. Research shows that, as a trend, higher levels of education are associated with more liberal beliefs (since high levels of education are disproportionately achieved by privileged people in society, you can do the maths). We all know that one of the biggest enemies of the working classes are in fact... the working classes, and their catastrophic Daily Mail views. So I would drop that particular bias like a hot potato, if I were you.

    Finally other research shows that the desire for retribution or revenge in humans activates the area of the brain associated with emotions. Your suggestion that people who have been through the private education system should be punished or disadvantaged for the privilege they've had is clearly an emotional, and ill thought out view. No policy should be based on knee-jerk responses like this. It doesn't help anybody.
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    It wasn't an exaggeration at all! I was entirely serious. If you allow emotions to taint your political arguments, then people will lose respect for the view that you are espousing.

    Its very obvious - as the others have pointed out - that children sent to private schools cannot be blamed for the existence of private schools, the inequality and injustice of society, and the problems enabled by private schools.

    There is absolutely no good that would be done in 'punishing' people who have been privileged through no fault or action of their own. In the same way that I criticise fundamentalist evangelical Christians for giving Christianity a bad name (by emotional, incensed ranting about abortion, homosexuality and other things), you are misrepresenting leftism in a damaging way.
    Good thing I've a teflon jacket on today, isn't it. Try going to an SWP meeting and asking them whether they agree with me on private education, you'll probably find that they do. Leftism isn't all your lovely, ivory towered Cambridge liberal types. I don't mean that in a pejorative way, since it would be nice if Leftism was all happy-clappy. I mean that there is a harder face to Leftism too that is so often denied by middle-class leftists and their New Labour / Liberal Democrat representatives. There are few politicians who understand it ... Ken Livingstone is one of them.

    You also implied in your last post that privileged people could in no way understand or comprehend what it means to suffer. That is absolute bull crap. Some of the most influential and insightful commentators on social justice, human rights and inequalities have come from extremely privileged backgrounds themselves. Research shows that, as a trend, higher levels of education are associated with more liberal beliefs (since high levels of education are disproportionately achieved by privileged people in society, you can do the maths). We all know that one of the biggest enemies of the working classes are in fact... the working classes, and their catastrophic Daily Mail views. So I would drop that particular bias like a hot potato, if I were you.
    Ah, eugenics, it doesn't take an awful long time for it to emerge in Leftist thought. Working-class people are far more complex than your crude stereotyping here. They are generous and loving and helpful and kind. More likely to read the sports pages of the Daily Mirror or the Star than anything else and certainly not the Daily Mail which tends to be read by older people and middle-class folk too. Commentary is one thing but actually living those lives is entirely another. I stand by my working-class roots, my working-class friends, and their working-class lives. They are far better people than most of the middle-class, privately educated people I've met whether in real life or on here or in this thread. Irony of ironies, of course, is that Potty is the one person I've any further kind of social engagement with from Gogsoc.

    Finally other research shows that the desire for retribution or revenge in humans activates the area of the brain associated with emotions. Your suggestion that people who have been through the private education system should be punished or disadvantaged for the privilege they've had is clearly an emotional, and ill thought out view. No policy should be based on knee-jerk responses like this. It doesn't help anybody.
    Well I'm not in any position or danger of enacting my view so you can drop the patronising spiel. Direct "punishments" of the kind I suggested last night are never going to happen, of course not, but there can be other ways of compensating and evening out of opportunities for those who have never had and will never have the privileges of private education.
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    Do you mean an aberration in normative or descriptive terms? Namely are you simply saying that it inevitably extreme, or are you trying to suggest that an extreme view is always bad?
    Inevitably extreme. I was just pointing out that "going all left-wing" is a aberration or a blip on normality, in terms of being unusual, but that doesn't make being right-wing any more normal, nor does it imply it's a bad thing. Especially in this thread being right-wing isn't normal, in fact it's so rare here I'm not sure there's anyone who'd describe themselves as (or be easy to ascribe as being) right-wing.

    As an aside I do tend to think being extremely right- or left-wing tends to involve denying some parts of reality that don't fit such an ideology (for example extreme rightists denying that markets almost always have failures and extreme leftists not admitting some of the unintended consequences of removing the market altogether), so I guess you could characterise that as bad. But I'm sure there are plenty of instances where extreme views are actually very positive, so this wasn't a point I was making in my post above.
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    :lol:
    Oh dear.

    Then again I have much the same opinion about schools that encourage their pupils to do vocational qualifications and apprenticeships. There aren't any apprenticeships, and there aren't any jobs out there! They're just sentencing their students to doom.
    But what else are they meant to do? Just not get educated? At least have something for when the jobs etc do come back, surely? I just can't see (in general) how some education or training is worse than none.

    Also I would get pretty huffy if a supervisor's excuse for not accepting my PhD proposal was only because there are no jobs. Surely that is the student's decision to make/risk to take?
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    (Original post by Drogue)
    Inevitably extreme. I was just pointing out that "going all left-wing" is a aberration or a blip on normality, in terms of being unusual, but that doesn't make being right-wing any more normal, nor does it imply it's a bad thing. Especially in this thread being right-wing isn't normal, in fact it's so rare here I'm not sure there's anyone who'd describe themselves as (or be easy to ascribe as being) right-wing.
    Thanks, that's what I thought but I wanted to be sure I would agree that I'm quite extreme, and I expect that I might calm down as I grow older. The difficulty is that I'm very fired up about how things should be, which can't always be reflected in what's pragmatically possible
    (Original post by Drogue)
    As an aside I do tend to think being extremely right- or left-wing tends to involve denying some parts of reality that don't fit such an ideology (for example extreme rightists denying that markets almost always have failures and extreme leftists not admitting some of the unintended consequences of removing the market altogether), so I guess you could characterise that as bad. But I'm sure there are plenty of instances where extreme views are actually very positive, so this wasn't a point I was making in my post above.
    Mmmm... I don't think most leftists would want to remove the market altogether I'd be happy for a regulated market! Also I think everybody is extreme about something, and has a selective, filtered world view on some issues. We're all human.
    (Original post by obi_adorno_kenobi)
    Good thing I've a teflon jacket on today, isn't it. Try going to an SWP meeting and asking them whether they agree with me on private education, you'll probably find that they do. Leftism isn't all your lovely, ivory towered Cambridge liberal types. I don't mean that in a pejorative way, since it would be nice if Leftism was all happy-clappy. I mean that there is a harder face to Leftism too that is so often denied by middle-class leftists and their New Labour / Liberal Democrat representatives. There are few politicians who understand it ... Ken Livingstone is one of them.
    I wouldn't cite the SWP as a defence. Most people understandably see them as a bunch of nutcases If you sent them all to anger management classes to cool down and then come back and talk about things a bit more realistically, they might go a bit further. I've been to a few protests and conferences with strong SWP presence, and every single time one of them interjected with a view, I lost respect for them, as their views were generally very ill informed and ranty.
    Ah, eugenics, it doesn't take an awful long time for it to emerge in Leftist thought.
    Your teflon armour seems a bit porous if you still need to retaliate with insults like this. Obviously I am not in any way sympathetic to eugenic policy. I don't know how you dreamed that one up :lolwut:
    Working-class people are far more complex than your crude stereotyping here. They are generous and loving and helpful and kind. More likely to read the sports pages of the Daily Mirror or the Star than anything else and certainly not the Daily Mail which tends to be read by older people and middle-class folk too. Commentary is one thing but actually living those lives is entirely another. I stand by my working-class roots, my working-class friends, and their working-class lives. They are far better people than most of the middle-class, privately educated people I've met whether in real life or on here or in this thread. Irony of ironies, of course, is that Potty is the one person I've any further kind of social engagement with from Gogsoc.
    :facepalm:
    I'm well aware that people are complex, thankyou very much.

    I am less sympathetic, however, to generalisations of this kind. People are all different, and the suggestion that all working class people are 'generous, loving and helpful' is a wishful construct, just as 'Southerners' can't be labelled as rude, selfish and snobby.

    One of the human tendencies that irritates me the most is the reification of national or ethnic identities. It is completely arbitrary where you happen to be born, which ethnic background you come from, and which social class you belong to. It makes no sense at all to take pride in 'your roots', as though you personally had some sort of choice or control over where you came from, and as though your 'roots' actually furnish you with the same characteristics as other people from your background. They don't.
    A casual glance at any family will tell you that your genetic commonality does not lead to similar personalities, attributes, and character strengths.

    That sort of thinking only makes people susceptible to political manipulation and fosters prejudices.

    Well I'm not in any position or danger of enacting my view so you can drop the patronising spiel. Direct "punishments" of the kind I suggested last night are never going to happen, of course not, but there can be other ways of compensating and evening out of opportunities for those who have never had and will never have the privileges of private education.
    It seems I'm going to have to repeat the reason for challenging you again. I do not think that you're about to gain a position of political power and influence policy. I do think, however, that you will turn more people against left wing policies and views than otherwise would be, which may reduce the number of people who vote for socially democratic parties.
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    (Original post by sj27)
    But what else are they meant to do? Just not get educated? At least have something for when the jobs etc do come back, surely? I just can't see (in general) how some education or training is worse than none.
    sj27 you might not be that familiar with the UK further education system (further education referring to post-16 but pre-University education). They are meant to do A levels instead of apprenticeships. The UK has killed off most of its industry and focused all of its energies on financial services. The bulk of jobs available involve 'soft skills'. They are things like PR, customer services... etc.
    Working class students tend to be in worse schools, with bigger problems, that achieve lower grades. Less working class students stay in school after GCSEs than more privileged students. Those that do stay on disproportionally attend Further Education colleges rather than sixth forms which are attached to schools. FE colleges tend to cater for less academic paths and more vocational paths. They often have a more restricted array of A level subjects available. Less students in FE colleges go to University, and FE colleges are often poorly equipped in helping and informing their students about how to go to University. Yes these options are better than no education, but there is a very big prejudice among employers for applicants who have a degree, and there are very few jobs available, or apprenticeships that match the 'vocational' route that young people are encouraged to consider. Its just dishonest. Young people are led to think there's a future in more practical routes, and there just isn't.

    If we were somewhere like Germany, that would be different. They have a very well established system with a vocational path and an academic path, but their economy is more mixed, and employers aren't prejudiced against the vocational path.

    In the context of UK's job market profile, and how its heirarchy plays out, schools are just encouraging their students to jump off a cliff.

    What should happen is that schools should give pupils more information about jobs and University. A much higher number of working class students have applied to University in the UK over the last decade than before as a direct result of New Labour investing in a huge information campaign to make young people more aware of the consequences of their further education and Higher Education choices.
    Unfortunately schools are very pragmatic and often choose to encourage the route that more students are likely to prefer and actually attain, which results in a downward levelling effect dependent on the school you get stuck in. Its much less to do with the innate preferences and abilities of the students themselves, and far more to do with the expectations and norms in the school environment they find themselves in.

    Schools also face the unhappy problem of conditional funding. They need to achieve certain performance measures (certain number of A-C grades, A level passes etc) in order to secure their funding. This punishes the poorest schools with the biggest problems, despite the fact that they're the ones in need of the most funding.
    It also means that poorer schools try to get all of their kids to study Drama and other 'soft' A level subjects because they know these subjects are easier, when students who take 'less academic' A levels are often disadvantaged in employment and University admissions.
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    Also I think everybody is extreme about something, and has a selective, filtered world view on some issues. We're all human.



    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    I wouldn't cite the SWP as a defence. Most people understandably see them as a bunch of nutcases If you sent them all to anger management classes to cool down and then come back and talk about things a bit more realistically, they might go a bit further. I've been to a few protests and conferences with strong SWP presence, and every single time one of them interjected with a view, I lost respect for them, as their views were generally very ill informed and ranty.
    The SWP are nutcases because their anger tends to go across the board and their positions are very much determined through a narrow band. I don't think I'm quite that bad, I was merely trying to say that the Left isn't a holy order and your attempts to cut away things and people and views which strike you as horrible aren't going to change that. It's Labour's problem with the BNP, I suppose and in that regard Blue Labour had a point. The trick is to convince people through argument that things can be achieved in different ways.

    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    Your teflon armour seems a bit porous if you still need to retaliate with insults like this. Obviously I am not in any way sympathetic to eugenic policy. I don't know how you dreamed that one up
    Your post struck me as one of those liberal elitist types which portray the working class as somehow incapable of doing things for itself. We've already had the swipe at those on benefits (unintended, I'm sure) and then we have your "oh but they are their own worst enemy" line. It's clichéd and certainly derives, whether you meant it or not, from the lines about only the rational, puritan parts of the working class being saved by socialism that were common in the years before the Great War. Eugenics, indeed.

    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    I'm well aware that people are complex, thankyou very much.
    The more I engage with you, the less I'm convinced of that. If I'm honest.

    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    One of the human tendencies that irritates me the most is the reification of national or ethnic identities. It is completely arbitrary where you happen to be born, which ethnic background you come from, and which social class you belong to. It makes no sense at all to take pride in 'your roots', as though you personally had some sort of choice or control over where you came from, and as though your 'roots' actually furnish you with the same characteristics as other people from your background. They don't.
    I disagree, obviously. I think it makes sense to take pride in your roots and where you come from since that is often what encourages you to change the bits that aren't working. It why I really don't want to move from Wales into England if I can help it, I'd rather stay here and help sort out our difficulties. Friends of mine living in Ireland have a similar view, they take pride in their roots and they don't wish to flee either. I'm sure if you ask people more broadly either on TSR or in real life, they'll not deny a degree of pride in where they come from either. It's a strange type of person who doesn't.

    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    It seems I'm going to have to repeat the reason for challenging you again. I do not think that you're about to gain a position of political power and influence policy. I do think, however, that you will turn more people against left wing policies and views than otherwise would be, which may reduce the number of people who vote for socially democratic parties.
    Well, that's your view. There's nothing more I can say in reply.
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    Ok, so apparently leaving TSR until I get this paper written was a good plan. Wrote 5000 words since 10am. Win!

    (Original post by obi_adorno_kenobi)
    Private schools are defended on the basis that they give generous bursaries. Fee defended hers on the basis that about 1/3 got a nearly completely free education. A third of my classmates received free school meals and local authority uniform grants. That's the kinds of worlds we're talking about.
    Actually that wasn't my point at all. I wasn't defending my school, but pointing out that the penalties you were suggesting would affect people who come from similar economic backgrounds to kids at your school. The bursaries included uniforms, and school meals were included in fees (so free for those with bursaries). Obviously this is a minority when taken as the group of all pupils at private schools throughout the country, I just wanted to point out that such a blanket policy wouldn't work, without taking into account personal situations (as I said in my post).

    I should also say that I am far from an apologist for the institution of private education. I've said on here in the past that I would send my kids to private school if I could afford to, simply because the education on offer is, where I live, so much better than in the state sector. I would MUCH rather that all schools were state schools, and were of a high enough standard that, if you sent your child there, you could be confident that they would receive a good education. Since the government are a load of f***wits, this is highly unlikely ever to be the case...

    And, incidentally, much of what you say about the attitude of the government to Wales can equally be applied to the North East of England. You can't bunch all of England together when it comes to matters of politics.
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    (Original post by obi_adorno_kenobi)
    The SWP are nutcases because their anger tends to go across the board and their positions are very much determined through a narrow band. I don't think I'm quite that bad, I was merely trying to say that the Left isn't a holy order and your attempts to cut away things and people and views which strike you as horrible aren't going to change that. It's Labour's problem with the BNP, I suppose and in that regard Blue Labour had a point. The trick is to convince people through argument that things can be achieved in different ways.
    I never said the Left was a Holy Order. The Holy Order - or Christianity - is just as filled with conflicting interpretations, creeds and denominations as the Left is.

    I just think that being abusive towards privileged people is probably not going to do anything but make things worse.

    Your post struck me as one of those liberal elitist types which portray the working class as somehow incapable of doing things for itself. We've already had the swipe at those on benefits (unintended, I'm sure) and then we have your "oh but they are their own worst enemy" line. It's clichéd and certainly derives, whether you meant it or not, from the lines about only the rational, puritan parts of the working class being saved by socialism that were common in the years before the Great War. Eugenics, indeed.
    Get your facts straight, Adorno.
    (Original post by wikipedia)
    Eugenics is the "applied science or the bio-social movement which advocates the use of practices aimed at improving the genetic composition of a population", usually referring to the manipulation of human populations.[2][3]

    I in no way implied that the problems of the working classes had any basis in their genetic characteristics. Nor did I imply that they could be solved by doing away with the working classes.
    And I studied eugenic policies in developed countries in quite a lot of detail during my degree, so I don't need history explained to me.


    As for whether people are capable of doing things for themselves, its pretty obvious that if you don't feel very confident in your own political views, and the news paper you prefer reading presents a very incorrect view of society, you're going to be negative influenced in how you vote.

    Before I did the degree that I did, I had no idea about politics, and I had very conservative views thanks to growing up in a fundamentalist Christian surrounding and being reasonably privileged. So I was determined by my experiences and opportunities in life to have the views that I had, and to act upon them.

    That is in no way some sort of slight on working class people. It applies as much for anybody else on the globe as it does for the working classes. We are all determined by what we know and don't know, and the opportunities that are presented to us in life.

    (Original post by Adorno)
    the more I engage with you the less I'm convinced of that
    If a sociologist doesn't understand that people are complex, I'm not sure who else does. That's what the entirety of social science is concerned with :rolleyes:
    I disagree, obviously. I think it makes sense to take pride in your roots and where you come from since that is often what encourages you to change the bits that aren't working.
    You clearly didn't think about what I said. If its your background and the people around you that encourage you to 'change the bits that aren't working' then it is very obviously no virtue of your own that you developed those sentiments and values, but purely the outcome of chance. So its absolutely ridiculous to be 'proud' of how chance and fate have shaped you when you had 0 influence on how you were shaped and what experiences life threw at you, which prompted your feelings/values and beliefs.
    It why I really don't want to move from Wales into England if I can help it, I'd rather stay here and help sort out our difficulties. Friends of mine living in Ireland have a similar view, they take pride in their roots and they don't wish to flee either. I'm sure if you ask people more broadly either on TSR or in real life, they'll not deny a degree of pride in where they come from either.
    Of course lots of people agree. That doesn't make them right.

    I think it would be really terrible if people only cared about the suffering of others if they had some sort of familial or geographical connection to them. This is what bugs me so much about how much money charities like the Army ones get when there are impoverished Africans out there far, far, far worse off. But because we're not related to them, its ok to just worry about our own.

    No I have a very big problem with that. I am only part-British, but I care about poor and disadvantaged people here just as much as I do those from South Africa who I grew up around.

    It's a strange self aware and critically reflectivetype of person who doesn't.
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    Mmmm... I don't think most leftists would want to remove the market altogether I'd be happy for a regulated market!
    Of course not, hence my specifying extreme leftists My general short-hand way of working out if someone's economic views are within the bounds of plausible, sane policy is whether they admit there is some role for the market but that it shouldn't be the arbiter of all. I imagine 90% of people would fall somewhere within that, including large swathes of the left and right, but excluding the small proportion of people who's views I'd classify as extreme and who I hope never get anywhere near actual policy making.

    Though yes, I agree we're all extreme about something, and irrational about something. Though I'd keep these two things very separate, as while there may be a correlation (extreme views may be more likely to be bat**** insane than non-extreme ones), some extrematies are rational (though obviously not male ones /sexist joke). I just hope the issues where we're irrational are the ones where we don't decide policy. The same way victims of crimes don't decide the appropriate punishment for them, as they (understandably) tend not to be rational about them.
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    (Original post by Feefifofum)
    Ok, so apparently leaving TSR until I get this paper written was a good plan. Wrote 5000 words since 10am. Win!
    Kerching!

    Actually that wasn't my point at all. I wasn't defending my school, but pointing out that the penalties you were suggesting would affect people who come from similar economic backgrounds to kids at your school. The bursaries included uniforms, and school meals were included in fees (so free for those with bursaries). Obviously this is a minority when taken as the group of all pupils at private schools throughout the country, I just wanted to point out that such a blanket policy wouldn't work, without taking into account personal situations (as I said in my post).

    I should also say that I am far from an apologist for the institution of private education. I've said on here in the past that I would send my kids to private school if I could afford to, simply because the education on offer is, where I live, so much better than in the state sector. I would MUCH rather that all schools were state schools, and were of a high enough standard that, if you sent your child there, you could be confident that they would receive a good education. Since the government are a load of f***wits, this is highly unlikely ever to be the case...
    Well aye, the sad truth of having unintended victims means that direct "punishment" (seems to be word of the day) wouldn't work in the ways I was suggesting last night. I suppose I was getting at affirmative action but that's a problematic kettle of fish too and whether it could be applied to schooling along, I don't know. It certainly has had its problems in the US. I don't know what the solution is really, I'd just like for there to be one.

    And, incidentally, much of what you say about the attitude of the government to Wales can equally be applied to the North East of England. You can't bunch all of England together when it comes to matters of politics.
    Absolutely and I tend to the view that much of the belief in grammar schools heralds from the fact that so many of our politicians and commentators come from those parts of the country (i.e. England) that still have them or send their kids to them - Kent and so forth. There are a lot of parallels between the North East and (South) Wales with this being one of them.
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    (Original post by Craghyrax)
    Of course lots of people agree. That doesn't make them right.

    I think it would be really terrible if people only cared about the suffering of others if they had some sort of familial or geographical connection to them. This is what bugs me so much about how much money charities like the Army ones get when there are impoverished Africans out there far, far, far worse off. But because we're not related to them, its ok to just worry about our own.

    No I have a very big problem with that. I am only part-British, but I care about poor and disadvantaged people here just as much as I do those from South Africa who I grew up around.
    There is no right in whether you have pride in your roots or not, just as there's no right in whether you like chocolate or support a football team.

    It's not about whether you're self aware and critically reflective, it's about which side you come down on when you reflect on it.

    Caring more about people like you, whether geographically, socially, or any similar forms, makes a lot of evolutionary sense. Giving money to charities helping impoverished Africans may provide a greater benefit to them than giving money to UK-based army charities does to their recipients, however when giving my money I may not be indifferent as to who benefits. I may want the money to benefit people who've suffered something I can relate to, or who I think are particularly worthy, or a host of other reasons. I agree there should be more focus on getting bang for your buck when it comes to charitable giving, but people need to go deeper and ask themselves what outcomes they want to work towards as well as what does the most to get towards them. Or to put it more contraversially, why should I care about impoverished Africans to the same extent as I care about injured servicemen and women? Say my donation can provide 10 African children with malaria drugs or provide a new limb for an injured ex-serviceman who has his blown off in Afghanistan. There is no objective way of defining which is the better use. The former may seem more efficient, in terms of bang for the buck, but that doesn't mean I should care about it more. And frankly I think it's going way to far to try and tell people what they should care about or which is more worthy. That isn't to defend giving money without thinking about the options or how much difference it'll make, but it isn't your place to take that information and make a normative judgement for someone else.

    Edit: after that bit of a rant, I thought I should explain my views. I take pride in my roots, as I feel something of a connection to people who have had similar experiences to me. I can relate to their issues and think about how to solve them far better than I can relate to issues that are abstract to me. I realised this most acutely when my circumstances changed - when I got cancer - as I could suddenly relate and felt a connection to other people who were going or had gone through a similar experience. There are so many experiences that you can't really appreciate until you experience them - I'd argue having a life-threatening illness is one, just as I'm sure many people view having children or a host of other things in that way. However having never been to Africa or experienced anything like what many improverished people there do, I can't relate to their suffering. I can appreciate it is vastly greater than that of most people in the UK, but I can't empathise in the way I can with people who've had cancer.

    When it comes to donating money, I give money to charities that I can relate to and think do good work. So the two main charities I support are my old college and Leukemia and Lymphoma Research. I'm sure many other charities would have what most people would see as more of an impact, but that isn't my only criterion (though it is an important one). I give to those charities specifically because I can relate to them from my own personal experiences, and so feel a connection to them and the people they help. That's a selfish motivation, of course, but then I think all motivations are. I donate money to charity because it gives me pleasure, and I get the most pleasure from helping people I can relate to, who've had similar experiences in some sense.

    That's not a lack of self-awareness or reflection, it's the opinion I've come to after quite a lot of reflection. It's also not wrong, it's just my preference, the same way it's my preferance to spend my money on meals out or to support the England rugby team.
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    (Original post by Drogue)
    There is no right in whether you have pride in your roots or not, just as there's no right in whether you like chocolate or support a football team.

    It's not about whether you're self aware and critically reflective, it's about which side you come down on when you reflect on it.

    Caring more about people like you, whether geographically, socially, or any similar forms, makes a lot of evolutionary sense. Giving money to charities helping impoverished Africans may provide a greater benefit to them than giving money to UK-based army charities does to their recipients, however when giving my money I may not be indifferent as to who benefits. I may want the money to benefit people who've suffered something I can relate to, or who I think are particularly worthy, or a host of other reasons. I agree there should be more focus on getting bang for your buck when it comes to charitable giving, but people need to go deeper and ask themselves what outcomes they want to work towards as well as what does the most to get towards them. Or to put it more contraversially, why should I care about impoverished Africans to the same extent as I care about injured servicemen and women? Say my donation can provide 10 African children with malaria drugs or provide a new limb for an injured ex-serviceman who has his blown off in Afghanistan. There is no objective way of defining which is the better use. The former may seem more efficient, in terms of bang for the buck, but that doesn't mean I should care about it more. And frankly I think it's going way to far to try and tell people what they should care about or which is more worthy. That isn't to defend giving money without thinking about the options or how much difference it'll make, but it isn't your place to take that information and make a normative judgement for someone else.
    Of course it makes evolutionary sense. That is the entirety of why we're programmed in that way. But emotions make evolutionary sense, as well as all sorts of strong but unhelpful instincts. Just because we've evolved to respond in a certain way doesn't mean that's always the best response for every situation.

    I'm glad you've reflected on why you prefer some things than others, but I think a lot of people don't reflect at all. I think that the scenario you described of choosing who to help is pretty clear cut. You say there's no objective way to decide that sort of judgement whereas not only is it clear that you can do a lot more good in one case than another, but its also an example where the need is stronger and the type of suffering more severe.

    I wasn't actually trying to go into a utilitarian discussion at all, by the way

    The entirety of my point was thus: people often only think of others, or feel motivated to be altruistic when its because of their evolutionary instincts. They don't question why they feel more moved by some causes/issues/problems, than others.
    While its natural to care about people you relate to, I think its something we should be very cautious about. A lot of the things that make people close knit and mutually supportive also result in problems like hostility to outsiders and prejudices. I was problematising this completely in the context of national pride. Or pride regarding a particular group identity. I think this sort of pride is irrational for the reasons I mentioned, but I also think it is very dangerous as it creates a latent potential for people to be triggered in pressured and political moments, into tribalist behaviour. Essentially it is not conducive to open mindedness and inclusivity. Or multiculturalism. And in the context of an increasingly 'globalised' society, that is causing a lot of issues.
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    Incidentally, I just read Stuart Maconie's Pies and Prejudice: In search of the North, which was all about the working class experience, history, culture and Northerness. So it was a bit amusing to stumble straight into a debate in which I got accused of simplistic stereotyping and ignorance of the working class experience :lol:
    It was quite interesting and helped me to understand a lot more about why people make such a big deal about being Northern. But even so, I'm still critical of being proud about it :p:
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    I am SO tired. I am teaching two 9am lectures a week this term (plus one 1pm). I just can't do the early starts without feeling absolutely drained - but since they are Tuesday and Wednesday I still have two more days before I can rest. This is a minor winge I know, but it makes me worry about when I (eventually, and hopefully!) get a full time job - if I can only just cope with research + teaching + 3 hours of lecturing + 2 early starts, how could I possibly cope with a full time lecturing or school teaching job? :/
Updated: December 20, 2012
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