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.

  • thumb
    Nov 8 2013: Well, Cheyenne, my parents were very successful people. They started out with nothing, worked very hard and took risks, and they ended up worth about 25 million dollars in apartment buildings, or 20 buildings to put it another way. When I was young my father said to me there are two secrets to success: one, you have to work hard; and two, you have to take risks. I think that there will always be classes because there are always going to be some people who are more willing to work hard and take risks than other people. And actually I admire those people because I think as they work hard and take risks, they not only benefit themselves, they benefit the people around them and society as well. Why some people are more willing to work hard and take risks than others I don't know. Maybe they're born that way. Maybe they see the rewards and the rewards motivate them more than they do other people.
    I would think when you try to eliminate classes you end up with a very gray, mediocre society. Like Russia under communism, you don't have enough food in the stores and the food you do have is very inferior. Why? Because you have tied the hands of the people who want to work hard and produce excellence.
    • Nov 8 2013: but what about those people who are trying very hard to earn just wages but then are not being given what they deserve?

      an example would be the case of nescafe here in the philippines. although workers are being paid the minimum wage, this amount of money cannot and will simply not suffice a family of five due to the relatively high costs of living. these workers are working hard; some of them even push to work overtime just to earn additional pay which then again cannot be even near enough.

      what about them? they are working hard and they are taking risks. everyday. but why are they not eased out from the abuses of the capitalist society?

      why? i believe that the capitalists themselves are the ones making and keeping the class distinctions. they want to stay on top and concentrate the wealth of the state among themselves. so those people who push even beyond what they can carry cannot even taste a glimpse of justice toward their work because of such a grave external factor.
      • thumb
        Nov 9 2013: well, they are working hard cheyenne in the sense that everyone is working hard, in other words it does take work to work a 40-hour shift. But my point is that the people in the higher class are working harder, the bosses at the factory are working 60 and 70 hours every week, not just the occasional overtime.

        I don't think an ordinary worker on an ordinary shift is taking risks. They come to work, work 40 hours, and go home. The people who take the risk are the people who invest their money to get the business started and keep it going, because if they fail they lose all the money they invested.

        If you really think the workers have a bad deal, they should unionize. But even in a society with unions, you will find that some people will occupy a higher economic class because they will work harder than most, and be willing to take risks.
        • Nov 16 2013: I think that lots of people work very hard but not all can take viable risks ... some people risk losing investments but others must risk losing their lives.
    • Nov 15 2013: Greg, I think there are several things that you gloss over here. One is, not every aspect of a communistic/social society is/was "gray." In Russia, they produced incredible athletes, musicians, etc..Now, without their social set up, their guaranteed education has been taken away, resulting in people not receiving that incredible early education. I am a violinist. Russians, geared for that career, had a guaranteed high level education, that included anatomy and physiology classes from a very young age. If you watch Russian players from that time period, they understood how to use their body balance and motor movements, and their injury rates and capabilities exceeded, imo, American players. Today, according to one young Russian soloist, his education was difficult to come by, financially and now they are on the same terms as the US, and many just don't receive the needed education to execute their God given talent and purpose. If you look up TED talk with Gustavo Dudamel, conductor of the LA phil, born in Venezuela, and was a product of their socialized system, El Sistema, you find a youth orchestra, that now represents hundreds of others, and you can see, if you know what you are looking for, an incredibly educated youth, run by a social system. They blow American youth orchestras off the map. I know, because I have taught them. There are very few that come close to that caliber. I believe it was Simon Rattle that said they are doing the most important work in the musical world, in that country. It initially was started to help get kids off the street. Dudamel continues that work in ghettos in LA and around the world. I am not saying that the leaders of any country, including Venezuela aren't incredibly problematic. We know they are. But, there are some great things that come out of social/communistic systems. The problem is that they turn tyrannical/power hungry/greedy/controlling in the leadership department. It ruins a potentially good system. Watch Dudamel TED
      • thumb
        Nov 16 2013: well, I didn't live in Russia under communism, so I don't know for sure, Dawn. But one heard bad stories, didn't one, of a lack of food choices in the stores, and food shortages as well? I also heard that when Mikhail Gorbachev, then leader of U.S.S.R., visited America and went into American food supermarkets, he "knew the West had won." The meaning be that in America people could work harder than their fellows, produce excellent and abundant food, and make more money and get more of the rewards of life. Whereas in a society where there was no chance to rise into a higher social class because all the classes are equal, noone would be motivated to produce excellence and abundance.

        Another example I cite is the Beatles. The Beatles worked hard, took risks, and produced excellence in abundance. They knew that if they stayed in socialist Britain, the government would take all their money in taxes. So they, or most of them, left. John came to New York, Ringo to L.A., Paul to Scotland. George I don't know, he may have had a place in England, but maybe had places in other countries as well. I would say England lost a national treasure because of its socialism.

        In fact I look at socialist countries such as England or France, and I don't see them producing innovation and excellence like non-socialist countries. I can't think of great innovations that come out of England, or Sweden, for example, ideas or products that change or improve the world. There's no incentive to do it, because if you make money from your idea, the government's just going to take it away.

        I'm not so sure the excellence you mention in music is really there, although I'm sure a socialist or communist country could occasionally produce excellence in some department, but it would just be a quirk. But the real leaders in music would probably be the pop stars, wouldn't they? Mostly they are coming from America, or now K-pop is rising, but Korea is not socialist or communist either.
        • Nov 16 2013: Hi Greg, I agree that the life circumstances in communistic countries was/is not good. But, my point is that, the actual system COULD be good if the leaders didn't manipulate the system to control the people. But, we have that in our system as well, and it's getting worse. I think it's the people that rise to the top, in politics. Their personalities tend to be so narcissistic that they don't see the masses as worthy enough to deserve freedom. You can have freedom in communism, but in a different way. As I said, please watch the TED talk for Dudamel, and you can see what types of musicians they are producing. Please watch before you sit in your mind about what is or isn't being produced. Better to be informed. What better time in history to be alive? You can see it first hand via internet. There are hundreds of these orchestras, and you can see that's it's obvious that they have a great education. Please take the time to watch it. Also, Russia produced some of the most famous musicians in the history of classical music, including composers. Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Borodin, Rimsky-Korsakov, Mussorgsky, Other than Oistrakh on violin, you have Misha Elman, russian trained Ivan Galamian, Leonid Kogan, Efrem Zimbalist, among others, and other solo instruments. In classical music, Russia is known for it's amazing players. Their lives though, were difficult, and many defected. Here in America, we have many issues with our "system," yet, I believe any system could actually work, if the leaders and the corporations and the masses would remain at least a bit more giving, and less greedy. As seen in 2008, our system isn't working well. Our leaders, big banks, pharmas, insurance companies, corporate greed...and, the fact that the American public is forced to pay...just like us paying to bail out the Federal Reserve, AFTER they criminally broke the globe's economy. Our system is terribly broken, clearly. Music is varied. You are right about pop, not about classical.
      • thumb
        Nov 17 2013: Thanks for your comments, Dawn. Well, what would be the freedom under communism? Because I think under communism, there would be people who were wishing to work harder than their neighbors, and contribute more thereby, but their motivation would be quashed knowing that the government is going to take a big share of the rewards of their labor, hammer them down until they're just like their neighbors.

        I will say there's always a tension between how much freedom people should have, how much they should be expected to give, etc. Some people think we'd do better with a pure market, where noone is forced to give anything, and people can go starve if that's the best life they can make for themselves. Others want the government to force people to give more (of course, some people are giving and don't have to be forced), and arguments arise as to how much people should give, and these arguments are ongoing, I don't know if you and I, right here, right now, can reach a definitive answer as to what the right balance is. There is an awful lot of charity, both private and governmental, in America right now, if you for whatever reason couldn't find a job, you would not go hungry, you would not go without clothes or shelter, and essentially I think you would have had adequate medical care, even without Obamacare.

        My theory is that Obamacare represents a creep toward socialism, and I would expect America to become a less innovative, excellent nation as a result of it.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.