TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

Is having a social class inevitable?

Will the gap between rich and poor be omnipresent? Can it be abolished? If you propose socialism to get rid of the classes, are you very sure the gap will not come back? Should we then solve this problem or leave it be?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Nov 6 2013: I can think of no society that had no social classes. An especially important point since we have numerous recent examples of societies that tried to create a classless society and failed miserably. Many people have commented that the rich-poor gap in the Soviet Union and communist China was actually larger than the systems communism replaced.

    I think this is both a product of humans and economics. People want to form social groups, which are mutually exclusive with other social groups. And the nature of economics and logistics means you will always have more of one resource in one area than in another. It takes time for resources to move from the point of their creation. And we’re not just talking about money, but goods and even intangibles like education. That will mean there will always be some sort of inequality in a system. So for all practical intents and purposes, social class in humans is basically a law of humanity, and we cannot will it away any more than we can will away gravity and fly.

    This does not preclude socialism, especially the “weak” forms of socialism. I haven’t read a lot of socialist literature, but in the “weak” forms of socialism in practice today, the objective of socialism is wealth redistribution not wealth equality. That’s a big difference, as one is absolute and the other is relative. Wealth redistribution doesn’t mean you try to make everyone the economic class or that there aren’t rich or poor people and it doesn’t even mean there isn’t a pretty big rich and poor gap. It simply means that the amount of money is taken from the rich people is disproportionate to their representation in the population and “given” to less well to do people.

    Marxists probably wouldn’t describe the US as overly socialist, but none the less I think socialism is actually alive in well in the world economy today. Socialist tax systems don’t prevent the rich and the poor, but they do insulate BOTH groups from the harm of too many of the other.
    • Nov 7 2013: i like the point you made: "wealth redistribution". i never really saw socialism in that perspective. i was more focused on its "wealth equality" agenda. thank you for that important insight :)

      and by the way, what do you think of sweden and the other nordic countries? given that socialism is defined as the prioritization of the welfare of the people before the state, are these countries socialist? thank you.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.