"99% vs. 1%" or "Privileged vs. Unprivileged?"

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vividgroovy
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21 Dec 2021, 3:04 am

I'm not interested in politics, but narratives fascinate me. Something I've noticed is that I always used to see people (particularly on the Left) talking about "The 99% vs. the 1%," or, "it's all of us regular people vs. the billionaires keeping us down," but now I usually see "the unprivileged vs. the privileged" or "It's the explicitly oppressed vs. anyone who is not explicitly oppressed." I'm just curious how this shift happened. Or are people still talking about "the 99%" and I'm just not seeing it?

As with everything, I tend to see this through the lens of fiction. Looking at stories with characters specifically designed to represent wealth and privilege (usually villains), people online will now pick out some middle class character and claim that they represent "privilege." While these characters are almost definitely rich compared to me, a retail worker, I don't think they would have been considered privileged just a few years ago. What set this off was that I saw someone call Hermione from "Harry Potter" too privileged to represent the oppression of muggle borns in that universe. (Her parents are dentists.) Meanwhile, she's harassed for being a muggle born by Draco Malfoy, who lives in a mansion and can have his father buy his whole Quiddich team new broomsticks...Clearly, the Malfoys are the "1%" in this scenario. Then, there's an example I've brought up on here before, where critics of the musical "Rent" will ignore the "Westport Greys," the wealthy family that Benny marries into, in order to claim that penniless filmmaker Mark is privileged because he grew up in the suburbs and "chose to be poor."

Then there are the movies that lean into this by making the old-school, "one percenter," "wealth and privilege"-type villains into edgy, misunderstood anti-establishment heroes. You have Maleficent, where the title character was originally the royal so high up that even the king and queen had to cater to her. (QUEEN: "Then you're not offended, Your Excellency?") Then you have Cruella, where the whole idea was that she was so rich, it never even occurs to her that somebody will say no to her, so it enrages her when timid lower-middle-class songwriter Roger does. I actually liked the "Cruella" movie, I thought it was cleverly handled, but it is funny to see that character being depicted as anti-establishment.

So what do you think? Has there a shift in this narrative and if so, how did it happen?



magz
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21 Dec 2021, 4:09 am

I think shifts like that happen all the time, with changing realities - e.g. with powers removed from aristocracy, new groups came to power and this narrative of opressed-opressors shifted accordingly.

Personally, I find the narrative of opressed-opressors generally dangerous and unhealthy. First, because it encourages hatred and "justifies" harming whoever you find privileged; second, because while the narrative is stable, the group identified as opressors can easily shift, resulting in Revolution Devouring Its Own Children.


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AngelRho
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21 Dec 2021, 9:55 am

magz wrote:
I think shifts like that happen all the time, with changing realities - e.g. with powers removed from aristocracy, new groups came to power and this narrative of opressed-opressors shifted accordingly.

Personally, I find the narrative of opressed-opressors generally dangerous and unhealthy. First, because it encourages hatred and "justifies" harming whoever you find privileged; second, because while the narrative is stable, the group identified as opressors can easily shift, resulting in Revolution Devouring Its Own Children.

100% agree with this.

And you aren’t saying that oppression doesn’t happen. I think the discussion becomes about who really is being oppressed. When public opinion turns sharply against CEO’s and creative people and these people suddenly resign or retire, be on alert. There’s an entirely different kind of Revolution on the way.



thinkinginpictures
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21 Dec 2021, 10:11 am

AngelRho wrote:
magz wrote:
I think shifts like that happen all the time, with changing realities - e.g. with powers removed from aristocracy, new groups came to power and this narrative of opressed-opressors shifted accordingly.

Personally, I find the narrative of opressed-opressors generally dangerous and unhealthy. First, because it encourages hatred and "justifies" harming whoever you find privileged; second, because while the narrative is stable, the group identified as opressors can easily shift, resulting in Revolution Devouring Its Own Children.

100% agree with this.

And you aren’t saying that oppression doesn’t happen. I think the discussion becomes about who really is being oppressed. When public opinion turns sharply against CEO’s and creative people and these people suddenly resign or retire, be on alert. There’s an entirely different kind of Revolution on the way.


There are lots of poor creative people who have as much talent as the wealthy creative people.
But the poor creative people cannot get anywhere. They can't have their works of art published anywhere else than on Youtube etc. where it will inevitably drown in everything else.

They don't have the right social connections as the wealthy and already long time established artists.

This is the real inequality we're talking about and the real oppression.

If you're not born rich/by rich parents, most you will most likely never become one of them either.
No matter how hard you work or how talented you are.



magz
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21 Dec 2021, 3:36 pm

Oppression happens - but fighting opression with more opression rarely gives any good results. If things are unfair, it's better to adress them with reforms not revolutions.


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thinkinginpictures
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21 Dec 2021, 4:13 pm

magz wrote:
Oppression happens - but fighting opression with more opression rarely gives any good results. If things are unfair, it's better to adress them with reforms not revolutions.


True, but how to reform a system that doesn't want a reform?



magz
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21 Dec 2021, 4:20 pm

thinkinginpictures wrote:
magz wrote:
Oppression happens - but fighting opression with more opression rarely gives any good results. If things are unfair, it's better to adress them with reforms not revolutions.
True, but how to reform a system that doesn't want a reform?
That's why revolutions sometimes do happen - but other approaches should always be tried first.


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Edna3362
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21 Dec 2021, 8:00 pm

Quote:
“Those who tell stories rule society/the world.”


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cyberdad
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21 Dec 2021, 8:13 pm

The underlying concern needs to be understood before a critique can be applied to the left.

The concern (at least from my perspective) is the concentration of wealth in fewer hands
https://www.theguardian.com/business/20 ... point-2030

If you read the article it suggest we are already on the road to the tipping point even if the wealthiest 1% don't earn a single cent from 2018 (when the article was published). Of course the latter is a redundant assumption since wealth generation is highest for those who control the largest portion of money making assets so we are going to trip the tipping point (probably sooner than 2030).

Why is this a concern? because the level of risk is high when a handful of old white men have such disproportionate levels of power that exceed anything from the bad old days of imperial colonialism.



vividgroovy
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21 Dec 2021, 11:18 pm

magz wrote:
...Personally, I find the narrative of opressed-opressors generally dangerous and unhealthy. First, because it encourages hatred and "justifies" harming whoever you find privileged; second, because while the narrative is stable, the group identified as opressors can easily shift, resulting in Revolution Devouring Its Own Children.


Yes, this is how I feel about that narrative as well.

AngelRho wrote:
...And you aren’t saying that oppression doesn’t happen. I think the discussion becomes about who really is being oppressed. When public opinion turns sharply against CEO’s and creative people and these people suddenly resign or retire, be on alert. There’s an entirely different kind of Revolution on the way.


I think you're referring to something along the lines of the CEOs and creatives fleeing to Galt's Gulch from "Atlas Shrugged."

I imagine the situation is more complex than "Everything is billionaire CEOs' fault." However, I don't have a ton of sympathy for them. I once read an conservative argument that said CEOs are the serfs of modern society because supposedly half their income goes to taxes and welfare recipients are the lords oppressing them. I don't believe that at all.

If nothing else, someone has to choose to be a CEO and they know what baggage comes with it. The new narrative is more "you are born in sin," no choices required.

cyberdad wrote:
The underlying concern needs to be understood before a critique can be applied to the left.

The concern (at least from my perspective) is the concentration of wealth in fewer hands
https://www.theguardian.com/business/20 ... point-2030

If you read the article it suggest we are already on the road to the tipping point even if the wealthiest 1% don't earn a single cent from 2018 (when the article was published). Of course the latter is a redundant assumption since wealth generation is highest for those who control the largest portion of money making assets so we are going to trip the tipping point (probably sooner than 2030).

Why is this a concern? because the level of risk is high when a handful of old white men have such disproportionate levels of power that exceed anything from the bad old days of imperial colonialism.


It seems like this discussion in general has turned more towards "Is the revolution justified?" I think that's being discussed elsewhere in this forum. I'm more interested in why the focus seems to have shifted away from the "handful of old white men" who own everything and towards "any random person, real of fictional, whom we decide to label privileged."



cyberdad
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22 Dec 2021, 12:28 am

vividgroovy wrote:
I'm more interested in why the focus seems to have shifted away from the "handful of old white men" who own everything and towards "any random person, real of fictional, whom we decide to label privileged."


Is the definition of "privileged" pertain here to social privilege?



vividgroovy
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22 Dec 2021, 12:37 am

cyberdad wrote:
vividgroovy wrote:
I'm more interested in why the focus seems to have shifted away from the "handful of old white men" who own everything and towards "any random person, real of fictional, whom we decide to label privileged."


Is the definition of "privileged" pertain here to social privilege?


I don't know.

With "the 1%," fairly clear who we're talking about and why. I feel like when people would say things like, "They live a life of wealth and privilege," they were talking about "the 1%." With the current broad definition of "privileged," it seems we can be talking about anyone for a number of reasons.

With my "Harry Potter" example, the person contrasted muggle born Hermione Granger and Lily Evans' (Harry's mother) financial status with that of Snape, who was from "the slums" and (SPOILER?) was an anti-muggle-born Death Eater at one point. So that person was talking about it from a financial angle. From this person's perspective, Hermione and Lily supposedly had it too good to be considered "unprivileged" for being muggle born, because they had parents who took care of them and...went to school? (The critique claimed that this was not a good depiction of privilege/unprivilege in fiction because this one character from the bigoted group grew up poorer than the ones from the group they were bigoted against.)



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22 Dec 2021, 1:11 am

vividgroovy wrote:
cyberdad wrote:
vividgroovy wrote:
I'm more interested in why the focus seems to have shifted away from the "handful of old white men" who own everything and towards "any random person, real of fictional, whom we decide to label privileged."


Is the definition of "privileged" pertain here to social privilege?


I don't know.

With "the 1%," fairly clear who we're talking about and why. I feel like when people would say things like, "They live a life of wealth and privilege," they were talking about "the 1%." With the current broad definition of "privileged," it seems we can be talking about anyone for a number of reasons.

With my "Harry Potter" example, the person contrasted muggle born Hermione Granger and Lily Evans' (Harry's mother) financial status with that of Snape, who was from "the slums" and (SPOILER?) was an anti-muggle-born Death Eater at one point. So that person was talking about it from a financial angle. From this person's perspective, Hermione and Lily supposedly had it too good to be considered "unprivileged" for being muggle born, because they had parents who took care of them and...went to school? (The critique claimed that this was not a good depiction of privilege/unprivilege in fiction because this one character from the bigoted group grew up poorer than the ones from the group they were bigoted against.)

well in the US the 1 percent in net worth starts at roughly 12 million dollars or so but the richest of one percent like the centimillionaires and Billionaires and people on the Forbes 400 Live a much more priveledged life obviously.There was this book called the "New American Aristocracy" who are typical millionaire next doors but basically start at about 10 percent in net worth.But I personally i think real priveledge starts at 1 million or making 200 to 300,000 not counting your house because they get to invest in certain investments that are high-risk and high-reward than someone is just starting out with a 1 grand in the bank account.But come to think of it i think the first rung of privelege is if you have a 1000 dollars in your bank account because the vast majority of Americans cant handlea 400 dollar emergency.But I believe the American dream is open to even any unpriveledged neurotypical able-bodied young American if they do the Dave Ramsey plan and retire a millionaire next door through index funds if they are willing to work from 30 to 60 years and are very disciplined.They may not get to live in Austin,Texas.......They may have to move to my hometown of Roswell,New Mexico to make it work for them.I think someone is priledged if they can affford a decent apartment because I have to live in a 2005 used FEMA trailer as far as having my own place to sleep.But I just count myself lucky that I aint homeless because I have been homeless 5 times so I think everybody who can afford an apartment or home is luckier than me.However I know there are exceptions to this like if they are on SSI and cant save any money like me.
Based on my study of sociology those who are born into well-to-do families even if they are not well-off themselves are much more priveledged than someone living in Baltimore,Maryland on benefits in the dangerous part of town.But Earl Crawley became priveledged in his later years when he only had a very small chance of doing so.I have a friend from college and college really helped him because he would be either dead or in jail without that degree based on how life was for him in Inner City Houston,Texas.I think trade school and index funds and working hard for 30 to 60 years are the best way to become that millionaire next door if you come from a diadvantaged background or your family aint millionaires.Although I just thank my lucky stars that I am not living on a dollar a day in India right now.The stock market is open to virtually every 18 year old American.It only takes 1 dollar to get started and I think increasing minority stock market investing is the best way to make more people of color financially stable even on 15 dollar an hour income.But based on my study of psychology a very high percentage of billionaires would be clinical psychopaths.I do believe that the rich rule over the poor and I think that the billionaires and corporations have way too much power andd influence politically in America.