I remember being teenage age or maybe early college and hearing for the first time that homeless people aren't necessarily homeless because of some personal failings of theirs, but just that their particular society has excluded them out of necessity. The reasoning is that any society develops in largely arbitrary ways -- valuing certain attributes and devaluing others, having certain types of traditions or laws and rights or not. (Jonathan Haidt has done a lot of work on these different moral universes). If the entirety of humanity spans such a wide spectrum of variation, it's basically impossible to construct a society that could incorporate and use absolutely everyone's strengths. There will be winners and losers and any structure that you could come up with, but a lot of the selection of winners and losers is influenced by chance -- in obvious ways in our modern western society like owning property that turns out to have gold, being born to rich parents, being able to bilk naive natives out of their land by trading them worthless trinkets, etc. but also in less obvious ways like your culture being one in which ownership of land is recognized (or not) or in which gold is considered valuable (or not) or parental wealth is able to pass to children via inheritance laws and tradition. People are always going to slip through the cracks, even though it might have been just as likely that another society would have developed instead in which the losers and winners would have flipped flopped (I think of somewhat examples of this in the French Revolution and the Cultural Revolution and which cultural values, priorities, and legal entitlements were changed basically overnight).
I agree with the theory now, but I wonder if I would have come to the same conclusions by myself. I also wonder, do most normal people understand this to be true? That so much of our life successes and failures are determined by forces beyond our control? That the winners only get there by climbing over the backs of others? Or is it more difficult for them to step outside the structure of their cultural paradigms to see how precarious, unpredictable, random, and likely inequitable their status in society is.
But this is what I thought about when I saw this somewhat recent comment:
Structure, society, uniformity, they serve a purpose. They aren't for everyone, and I think specifically work better for people who's fear sensors are in working order (over working even?) in order to give a sense of structure and stability, in a somewhat chaotic world. The problem with the structure is that it alienates otherwise good people who don't believe in the structure. Which I don't think there's anything wrong with believing (or not believing) in the structure.
Is that what this is about?