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I would be interested in this person's educational background.

In the UK, the "top" public schools are notorious for producing people with a gigantic sense of entitlement. Pupils are told repeatedly to consider themselves social leaders, and taught to "compete" mercilessly.

This is considered a feature, not a bug.

It's worth repeating again that a key problem is that some individuals are happy to consider themselves predators, and don't have any moral scruples whatsoever about this.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 04:08:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She's an actuary.
So short, specific, high-skill-no-broad-view studies.

Don't know if that's relevant, but she's also a second generation Indian -there may be something there, as India was certainly plundered in the "screw the weaks" logic of the British empire.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 04:55:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some would call her response "identification with the agressor", as when one who has been the victim of domestic violence in childhood proceeds to adopt the behaviors they experienced toward others.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 08:05:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe, but that's not how I read it.
I don't think she'd be happy to see herself as a predator.

But there is the idea of not questioning the system. Honestly, I believe that this is strong even in France, but I have the intuition that the English system of few subjects for A level, then a short period at university (at least in that field: actuaries qualify here with a mere BSc -it takes the equivalent of an MSc in France and, even then, many of them undertake that after other studies) makes it worse.

So many of these actuaries (my wife working as one, I meet many) seem, for example, to have very little understanding of economics. Oh, some will say "I have great belief in the outcome of the market", but that's not an understanding.
And that baffles me. Honestly, if you are going to spend your life modelling financial risks, you might conceivably have some curiosity about how economics really work. But no, it seems to be mostly repeating the same tools without seeking the broader view.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 09:21:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure the posh boys don't see themselves as predators either. But they don't need to.

Oh, some will say "I have great belief in the outcome of the market", but that's not an understanding.

No, it's not. But it is a narrative, which is the next best thing.

Narratives are like that. My pet theory is that narrative logic is an evolutionary adaptation that makes it possible for humans to invent and share ad hoc rules and tribal ethics in a simple and efficient way.

Analysis and critical thinking are relative luxuries, and are only possible through training, practice, focussed effort, and undistracted time.

The natural human state is a naive and superficial acceptance of narratives. The potential for change only exists when a narrative collides with reality through personal experience that demonstrates that it's false and unhelpful.

My guess is that for some British asians these kinds of Randian values seem like a good thing because the personal hook is self-improvement from a downbeaten and limited history.

She might change her mind if she's made unemployed and finds it impossible to find a job because her work is outsourced (to Asia?)

But that won't happen unless the system fails her personally, and she has the realisation that there is a game being played, and it isn't necessarily rigged in her favour.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 09:44:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I won't dignify Ayn Rand with a full reading, but my understanding from reading rather too much of her apologists is that Randian actually welcome that state of affairs.

Not the case with my friend, who was more in the "I guess it'd be nice otherwise but that's the only way it works isn't it?".
Which, admittedly, takes a lack of curiosity about the world, but that's something I had come to expect (hell, she likes Orlando as a holiday destination).
Until I mentioned it she probably never gave a thought to the implications in terms of inequality of quite a few people being able to retire at 45 (without being entrepreneurs to boot).

But she also says that 500k£ is too much to spend for a house (though in Central London it's hard to go much under that), so there may be some hope yet ;-)

I agree with you that "Analysis and critical thinking are relative luxuries, and are only possible through training, practice, focussed effort, and undistracted time." (well, maybe undistracted time is not fully required, or even focussed effort, for someone whose mind is tuned in that way).
But you started with training. Is that not what education is supposed to give us? I was not trained in an English speaking system -only my last, MSc year in European Studies, but then there were very few English people in the course. Does education tend to help or hinder analysis and critical thinking here?

There may be an epochal thing to it, too. I have the impression (maybe wrong, the plural of anecdote not being data) that in France too, they are getting less common. But France is still a highly politicised country, so I would guess that there is a bit more of it.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 12:22:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Until I mentioned it she probably never gave a thought to the implications in terms of inequality of quite a few people being able to retire at 45 (without being entrepreneurs to boot).

But she also says that 500k£ is too much to spend for a house (though in Central London it's hard to go much under that), so there may be some hope yet ;-)

She wants her cake and to eat it, too. Where's the hope in that?

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 03:28:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
She might change her mind if she's made unemployed and finds it impossible to find a job because her work is outsourced (to Asia?)

what I often see among the younger people who find themselves in this predicament is not understyanding, but a sense of personal failure. They internalize the system's failings as their own. After all, that's about the only way failure can be interpreted in a system based on successful competition as the definer of worth.  

But that won't happen unless the system fails her personally, and she has the realisation that there is a game being played, and it isn't necessarily rigged in her favour.

Same result as above- I'd bet she already knows there's a multi-level game being played, but at present she sees herself as one of the winners.
Millions of people- a huge segment of market-world are victims of sixty years Edward Bernays's wonderful technology.
To lose-even in a riggeed game- means you're a loser.

It's even coded into the language by now.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.

by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 12:47:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
geezer in Paris:
at present she sees herself as one of the winners.

That's exactly it. You can accept this system when you're young if you believe you at least will win out. That belief being a mixture of romantic faith in the individual, and self-applied pressure ("I'm going to  make it because failure isn't an option...").

geezer in Paris:

To lose-even in a riggeed game- means you're a loser.

Bingo again. The internalised sense of individual failure.

Reminds me of this, from The Reef by Edith Wharton:

She recalled having read somewhere that in ancient Rome the slaves were not allowed to wear a distinctive dress lest they should recognize each other and learn their numbers and their power. So, in herself, she discerned for the first time instincts and desires, which, mute and unmarked, had gone to and fro in the dim passages of her mind, and now hailed each other with a cry of mutiny.

Losers of the world, unite!

Mutinous thoughts of our minds, unite!

 

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 05:53:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
TBG
My pet theory is that narrative logic is an evolutionary adaptation that makes it possible for humans to invent and share ad hoc rules and tribal ethics in a simple and efficient way.

I would think this is almost certainly true. If a behavior works >80% of the time and does not result in the death of a large number of those who employ it when it fails, it is highly likely to persist. If it persists, genetic changes that favor are more likely to emerge. Plus the narrative can always change in response to events. The neuro-physiological bases of social speech?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 10:10:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't really think it's about education in the formal sense.

We're living through an age of austerity in the UK designed and endorsed by an elite that has many graduates of Oxford's PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) degree...

It's much more about the neo-liberal/Austrian propaganda that the economy is a force of nature, a self-righting, self-stabilising system. And the accompanying "law of the jungle," "meritocracy" drum beat from the same source, amplified in the Daily Mail...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 11:09:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hope you realise that I would not knowingly entertain a Daily Mail reader for dinner ;-)

You may be right, maybe it's not linked to education. And certainly the Austrian propaganda (with its associated "if you don't sing the gospel you'll never get one of the good jobs") is a serious pain in the neck.

But I remain surprised by the change between France and England, people working the same jobs, the English had lots of qualities (they were, in general, much friendlier in their work relations), but apparently much less curious of the world (apart from the football-playing world, of course).
Is that because we need to learn another language, whereas you don't necessarily? Or just that we like to argue and need to find subjects to argue about?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 12:32:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm actually not the best qualified to comment on Britons in general, as I seem to mostly attract/interact with discursive people - and I spent a long time living abroad - but I guess I haven't found people to be as incurious overall as you. Misinformed however...

That said, I think that the key element to my argument is that here in Britain, Thatcher not only won an election, she won the discourse to the point that many people believe that "she saved Britain from the unions / saved Britain from itself / saved Britain from the looney left."

I am a similar age (and possibly partly similar profile) to this lady. The key difference could be personality, it could be that I grew up in the North of England (which received the harshest blows from Thatcher) or it could be that my Dad has always been interested in politics, so I grew up aware that there is a debate to be had about how things are done...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 02:38:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's also the idea that after Thatcher there are no classes any more in Britain which explains why Cyrille's friend could believe that Britain was more equal than other countries. Which is patently absurd when one first comes from abroad - Britons' social class is very visible.

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 03:26:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would expand on that point. Britain (England?) has a very strong class-based culture (in fact I read Hindu India's present system of four castes is a colonist creation, with the Brits classifying and grouping hundreds of clans into castes modelled on British society) that is intimately tied to language. Which doesn't just mean dialects and mannerisms that are more class-based than locality-based, but discussions that are less about exchanging thoughts about subjects than about reinforcing community by regurgitating the same memes that can be safely assumed to be shared. Such behaviour is of course far from being specific to the subcultures of classes in England, but never do I get as strong a sense of posters engaging in social confirmation with second-hand talking points rather than expression of own thought than when viewing discussion forums of British media.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 08:16:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exchange at my book group:

"A; I love living in this village. It's like a little microcosm of England. We have so many different types here with interesting stories. One of everyone."

"B: Except ethnics."

[awkward silence]

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 08:48:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cyrille:
they were, in general, much friendlier in their work relations

The friendliness is an aspect of English culture, without which you are seen as a curmudgeonly outsider. But beware, it often hides extremely self-seeking attitudes. And is, in any case imo, a form of denial of the class system, a kind of soggy blanket covering up the differences.

I prefer the discursive/argumentative culture of the French. One of the reasons why I took to France.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat May 21st, 2011 at 05:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew:
The friendliness is an aspect of English culture, without which you are seen as a curmudgeonly outsider. But beware, it often hides extremely self-seeking attitudes.

very continental judgment! as half brit half italiano, i have to say i agree.

not that self-seeking attitudes are foreign to the other euro counties either, it's just gone further in that direction in England. what used be a victorian frosty politeness is now covered with a sauce of 'mateyness', but its ability to truly warm the heart is rare.

i put it down to centuries of satanic mills.

industrialism lifted many out of rural penury, but then ground them under its heel eventually anyway, now the chinese get their turn at despoilers-in-chief, what can stop them?

certainly not our moralising about anything. this is what dooms capitalism-as-we-know-it, its the old model that's rotting under our feet but we can't seem to let go of it and move on without blood spilled, so over the falls (into the streets) we 'must' go... you can try and squeeze humans into being machine cogs only so long before enough get indignant enough to claim their lives back.

resistance may well be futile, simply allowing the status quo to hold its sorry course is worse. ya takes ya pick.

(and shovel).

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 22nd, 2011 at 11:45:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My experience of working in London for 4 years was that I thought I had lots of friends - in work and around the fringes of work.  However when I left the UK (but not the company) hardly any stayed in contact - although I remained on the same corporate e-mail system.  The friendship seemed largely instrumental, about career advancement, getting the work done etc.  Even those I had helped very substantially in their careers disappeared.

Whereas in Ireland, friendships originating in a work context often transcended the work context, to the point where the work context becomes irrelevant or incidental.  Perhaps it was because I never saw myself as settling down in the UK, or because it is much larger, more urbanised and more mobile society.  People rarely stayed with the company more than a few years in the UK - whereas in Ireland the norm was lifetime employment increasingly undermined as the "English" managerial culture became dominant.

Certainly there was no sense that the English would ever challenge the corporate system, whereas many Irish prided themselves on their subversive capabilities. Perhaps it is reflective of the difference between a colonised and a colonising culture.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 06:26:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There used to be a culture of subversion and challenge with the unions, but the British - like the most aggressively independent and ¨individualistic¨ Americans - are basically timid but angry conformists.

You won't find much direct confrontation or challenge in the workplace, but you will find epidemic levels of passive aggression and sullen incompetence.

As for friendships - I wouldn't expect much from corporate friendships. But I do have British friends who've been anything but trite and transient - very much the opposite - so I'd expect the impermanence to be more about the situation.

Britain hasn't had a positive image to aspire to since the end of the 50s, which is when the old benign middle-class paternalism became impossible to take seriously.

The end of empire confused everyone, and there's been no leader with a positive vision - as opposed to a negative, mean-spirited, and racist vision - of what the UK could be.

The UK could become a very interesting place if someone like that appeared - like a Brtish Obama, but for real.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 07:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
There used to be a culture of subversion and challenge with the unions, but the British - like the most aggressively independent and ¨individualistic¨ Americans - are basically timid but angry conformists.

You won't find much direct confrontation or challenge in the workplace, but you will find epidemic levels of passive aggression and sullen incompetence.

very true...

ThatBritGuy:

The UK could become a very interesting place if someone like that appeared - like a Brtish Obama, but for real.

i wonder if that's true of anywhere on the planet...  

ThatBritGuy:

Britain hasn't had a positive image to aspire to since the end of the 50s

don't forget beatlemania, albion's last enduring global image success story!

the positive, paternal image got upsided then, but brits still knew how to have irreverent fun.

watching that spirit of freedom turned into a fashion industry has been a heartbreaking hallmark of the late 60's onward and downward spiral of brit kulcha, now mostly a sorry parody, except of course what's under the msm radar, still innovative and real, vital and edgy.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue May 24th, 2011 at 04:48:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yup. So deeply ingrained as to be as invisible as continental drift.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 12:49:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thanks for sharing that story, cyrille, it rings true to my experiences as well.

Cyrille:

"I have great belief in the outcome of the market", but that's not an understanding.
And that baffles me.

the market has made many people rich, either through the merit of being able to finesse it to personal advantage, or simply being the rentier class with asset values rising for decades since ww2.

it reminds me of a boat heading for the falls, with the passenger saying there haven't been any falls for miles, why should there be one now?

the market has made many people rich, many more than it has cheated directly and indirectly, many pensions paid through corporate plunder shares rising.

now it's all changing... thus more people questioning the pedestal money is placed on, cracks turn to fissures, to chasms, to abysses.

but many still do not see the flaws, because they keep their heads down and noses to the grindstone, good grasp on the tree, poor comprehension of the forest.

sigh, when these disenchanted hit the streets, it's much harder to brand them as 'commiepinkoradicalagitators' as they have been grist for the very mill they have learned painfully now to distrust and decry.

in the arab street revolutions, everyone was looking for the bushy mullahs, the illiterate gunmen tribalists, hirsute cavedwellers with hundreds of millions of saudi-UAE buckaroos to subvert the system hegemon satrapies, but what made them so arresting was the high number of 'normal' people, yer doctors, lawyers, pro classes normally much too busy being middle class well-offers, until their rugs are pulled from under them, and they too realise who pays to keep the juggernaut rolling.

so it doesn't baffle me too much, 3 generations bathed in milk now, it is all too 'natural' to believe that cow will always be around, and if there's only enough milk for the fortunate, well tant pis. without capitalism's (purposely) arcane jiggery-pokeries there's no cow at all, they reason blithely.

what's really baffling is how long people can extend and pretend that just because capitalism benefited them, that it's written in stone that it has no peer, and evermore shall be amen.

i don't see any problem with modified capitalism, but right now to get it to some really socially acceptable form, it need a massive intervention of compassionate concern for the common weal, such as probably initiated the jubilees of ancient times.

they have cantilevered debt out so far the whole building has started to shudder and lean.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 22nd, 2011 at 11:31:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i don't see any problem with modified capitalism, but right now to get it to some really socially acceptable form, it need a massive intervention of compassionate concern for the common weal, such as probably initiated the jubilees of ancient times.

The problem is that ancient jubilees were instituted by sovereigns who were concerned with the political, economic and military viability of their states, though not so conceptualized, and who had the power to act. Instead, what we currently have in Europe is more like a pirates' cabal that has taken over a modern version of the Holy Roman Empire, (the EU), and the Papacy, (the ECB). The pirates can only agree on further looting and the HRE and Papacy are too fragmented to agree on a plan to stop them.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 10:19:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
how can you run a casino if players have no more chips?

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 05:44:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you mean, "Work at a casino."

Clearly, running a casino is a longterm avocation. We have short-termers working the casino.

by Upstate NY on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 07:43:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But not, as far as I know, a boarding school alumni. She certainly didn't go to Eton.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Fri May 20th, 2011 at 04:56:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But isn't the whole point of the Public School system to produce an elite of "appropriately" educated leaders who should naturally expect lesser social classes to follow the lead because their "merit" demands it and entitles them to it?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon May 23rd, 2011 at 05:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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