Monday, 13 January 2014

How do First World Societies Treat the Less Fortunate?

A good society is known by the way that it treats those who are less fortunate or whom are suffering in some way.  A good society will see these people and will try it's best to alleviate their suffering and improve their lot (as best as it can, so-long as the patient is willing of course).  A good society will do this because it is both good for it and good for the people that it is helping (goodness is good now & good later; good for me & good for you), a bad society will distance itself from these people and label them as undesirable.

An analogy could be made to a run-of-the-mill human being who is suffering from a broken arm.  In this analogy the body is equivalent to the whole of society and the broken arm is the equivalent of the broken people.  A human being will do the best that it can to fix its broken arm, because it will benefit by having two arms, even if one of them is not in tip-top condition.  To do this the human being will need to understand what it's broken arm needs in order to repair itself.  Then the human will do the best it can to meet these needs.  Hopefully, after several months of tender loving care the broken arm should be healed and be functioning again, ready to work and ready to benefit the whole body.

Another human, who has a less caring attitude towards the sick and the misfortunate might decide to amputate the arm, merely because it is causing a minor inconveniece.  Now he may benefit in the short term by not wasting his time on repairing the arm.  But eventually this human would lose out from not having two functioning arms.  It would be less productive and would be less creative and would have less opportunities than the other human being who decided to take the time to repair their broken arm.

Just as a human is more capable of being productive and creative with two fully functioning arms, so is a society.  The first human being who took care of their arm would be like a society with a good welfare system.  The second human being who amputated their arm would be like a society that only cares survival of the fittest (or the richest in capitalist societies).  Societies which show compassion towards the weak and the misfortunate are more likely to be productive and creative than those that want to eliminate the weaklings, or those that show an indifferent attitude to those who are suffering (e.g. a laissez faire to those who are suffering from bullying), for the simple reason that their are more people; and importantly, they are people who co-operate.

The Havamal (a Germanic/Viking poem) highlights the benefits of this compassionate attitude in one of it's verses, remarking that it is better to have a society with cripples than one with corpses [1]:
71. The halt can ride on horseback,
the one-handed drive cattle;
the deaf fight and be useful:
to be blind is better
than to be burnt:
no ones gets good from a corpse.
This attitude may be surprising to some considering the image of the Vikings as fierce, berserker warriors who lived the Darwinian survival of the fittest adage to it's fullest - killing all of the weaklings who stood in their way.  However on this ocassion they seem to have been a compassionate peoples who knew that it was better to have crippled people tilling the land, raising the children, and chopping the wood, than no people at all, which is what a laissez faire society would do.

Modern Western societies on the other hand don't seem to embrace this attitude quite so much as their Viking ancestors.  It seems that they would rather act like stereotypical macho or Jock boys who kick sand in the face of the weaker boys laughing raucously while they do so.  But this attitude is not an attitude of a mature man or a mature society, rather it's an attitude of an juvenile boy-man as highlighted by Lyndon Larouche:
The Macho, for example, is not a true adult man, but only an overgrown, neurotic “little man,” “his mother's little man.” The secret of the Macho, or of the kindred petit-bourgeois Italian Left intellectual with his citric Weltschmerz, his pathetic existentialism, is that he, relative to his “Northern” class brothers, is less civilized, less socialized. Latin culture is relatively a culture of uncivilized, barely-socialized children; remove the thin veneer of civilization from the infantile little beast of mother-love, and pure beast emerges—the beast of the bull-fight, the beast we see in the murderous, torturing juntas and the sadistic peasants who perform such hideous, bestial tortures.
If Western societies are to mature to the levels that they used to be, then they need to lose the attitude that it unmanly to show compassion, that it is unmanly to give positive attention to those who are suffering, that it is unmanly to show affection to men who are having a hard time.  Instead they need to learn, or rather remember, that to show compassion to those who are suffering is manly, and that it is a sign of a mature adult, of real manhood.  When they, we, start doing this, then the number of men who are suffering (commiting suicide even) will start to dwindle, and we'll all be better off because of it.

[1]  Interestingly this compassionate attitute towards the weak may well have been shown to new-born children: Tacitus remarks how the Germanic tribes rejected exposure '"[The Germani] hold it shameful to kill any unwanted child." (Source:


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