Categories Philosophy

Test This

Michael Young was an inconvenient child. His father, an Australian, was a musician and music critic, and his mother, who grew up in Ireland, was a painter of a bohemian bent. They were hard-up, distractible and frequently on the outs with each other. Michael, born in 1915 in Manchester, soon found that neither had much time for him. Once when his parents had seemingly forgotten his birthday, he imagined that he was in for a big end-of-day surprise. But no, they really had forgotten his birthday, which was no surprise at all. He overheard his parents talk about putting him up for adoption and, by his own account, never fully shed his fear of abandonment.

Everything changed for him when, at the age of 14, he was sent to an experimental boarding school at Dartington Hall in Devon. It was the creation of the great progressive philanthropists Leonard and Dorothy Elmhirst, and it sought to change society by changing souls. There it was as if he had been put up for adoption, because the Elmhirsts treated him as a son, encouraging and supporting him for the rest of their lives. Suddenly he was a member of the transnational elite: dining with President Roosevelt, listening in on a conversation between Leonard and Henry Ford.

Young, who has been called the greatest practical sociologist of the past century, pioneered the modern scientific exploration of the social lives of the English working class. He did not just aim to study class, though; he aimed to ameliorate the damage he believed it could do. The Dartington ideal was about the cultivation of personality and aptitudes whatever form they took, and the British class structure plainly impeded this ideal. What would supplant the old, caste-like system of social hierarchy? For many today, the answer is “meritocracy” – a term that Young himself coined 60 years ago. Meritocracy represents a vision in which power and privilege would be allocated by individual merit, not by social origins.

Inspired by the meritocratic ideal, many people these days are committed to a view of how the hierarchies of money and status in our world should be organised. We think that jobs should go not to people who have connections or pedigree, but to those best qualified for them, regardless of their background. Occasionally, we will allow for exceptions – for positive discrimination, say, to help undo the effects of previous discrimination. But such exceptions are provisional: when the bigotries of sex, race, class and caste are gone, the exceptions will cease to be warranted. We have rejected the old class society. In moving toward the meritocratic ideal, we have imagined that we have retired the old encrustations of inherited hierarchies. As Young knew, that is not the real story.

Young hated the term “welfare state” – he said that it smelled of carbolic – but before he turned 30 he had helped create one. As the director of the British Labour party’s research office, he drafted large parts of the manifesto on which the party won the 1945 election. The manifesto, “Let Us Face the Future”, called for “the establishment of the Socialist Commonwealth of Great Britain – free, democratic, efficient, progressive, public-spirited, its material resources organised in the service of the British people”. Soon the party, as it promised, raised the school-leaving age to 16, increased adult education, improved public housing, made public secondary school education free, created a national health service and provided social security for all.

As a result, the lives of the English working class were beginning to change radically for the better. Unions and labour laws reduced the hours worked by manual labourers, increasing their possibilities of leisure. Rising incomes made it possible for them to buy televisions and refrigerators. And changes, partly driven by new estate taxes, were going on at the top of the income hierarchy, too. In 1949, the Labour chancellor of the exchequer, Stafford Cripps, introduced a tax that rose to 80% on estates of £1m and above, or about £32m in contemporary inflation-adjusted terms. (Disclosure: I’m a grandson of his.) For a couple of generations afterward, these efforts at social reform both protected members of the working classes and allowed more of their children to make the move up the hierarchy of occupations and of income, and so, to some degree, of status. Young was acutely conscious of these accomplishments; he was acutely conscious, too, of their limitations.

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Drop Cap text that is a test of the drop cap test. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

A hyper link

Dynamism of a Human Body, Umberto Boccioni, Date: 1913 Style: Futurism, Genre: abstract, Media: oil, canvas
Dynamism of a Human Body, Umberto Boccioni,

all this text that is block quote of text and knows how to be a block qoute of text

Citation Times