Saturday, December 17, 2022

Marxism, Eggs and Shoeshines...

 "There is a false modesty which is vanity; a false glory which is levity; a false grandeur which is meanness; a false virtue which is hypocrisy, and a false wisdom, which is prudery..." --- Jean de la Bruyere

Came across one of those unwanted and annoying videos on FaceNazi Facebook that appears in your feed unbidden this morning that makes me wonder if there aren't an excessively larger number of stupid people on this spinning rock than I had ever considered.

This video was/is intended to make a childish argument against greed (Capitalism) that appears virtuous, but which is, instead, based upon a non-virtue which is making an assumption based on little more than appearances.

And this is deliberate.

I'll explain as we move along.

Unfortunately, I cannot share this video  about the evils of being rich and the supposed virtue of being poor, probably because the people who posted it in order to make an impassioned plea for generosity are profiting from it. So I will have to describe the story for you.

The Little Marxist Morality Play went something like this:

We are told an Old Man is selling eggs.

A Woman of apparent means wishes to buy his eggs, and when told they will cost one coin each, haggles with the man and ends up paying five coins for six eggs. 

The Old Man says he hasn't sold any eggs today, and that was the best offer he's had, and so he accepts.

The Woman is quite pleased with herself, assuming that she has fleeced the Old Man. She is so pleased that she jumps into her expensive automobile and meets up with a friend of hers. They enjoy a very expensive meal to celebrate her triumph (we're to assume) in ripping someone off, during which they leave much of the fare untouched (wasted), and leave the restaurant a large tip.

Here comes the childish part (paraphrased).

We are then asked "why are we so strong when dealing with the poor, but so generous with people who don't need our money?"

We are then treated to a homily about why it is better to overpay the (poor) Old Man for his eggs than to overpay the (wealthy) Restaurant Owner. Nay, it is an act of unbridled kindness and super-duper-really-awesome virtue to overpay the (poor) Old Man, or anyone else who is selling stuff in the street, than it is to overpay the fat, overstuffed, (Capitalist) pig with his own restaurant that takes money from stingy people (who've just paid a huge bill for a meal they didn't eat?) who waste food.

The moral of the story is supposed to be that somehow we all neglect to give to those in true need, and willingly, eagerly, with reckless abandon, will give to those who aren't.

What followed, naturally, is a laundry list of virtue-signaling assholes in the comments all insisting that they would have done the virtuous thing (overpay the Old Man), in fact, routinely do such in their daily lives whenever possible, with one fucking idiot insisting he would go as far as to overpay for eggs on a daily basis.

If I offered to sell him a used car for twice book value, would he decline? It's people like this who fall for crypto scams and keep Nigerian e-mail princes in business, I reckon. An interesting experiment to run.

You now know how Joe Biden got elected.

Now, there are a ton of gaping holes here.

To begin with, we are not told if the Old Man really IS poor. We aren't told whether he owns the chickens that laid those eggs, or if he is an employee of someone else. The fact that he took five coins instead of six was a decision he made of his own volition, and the Woman's offer of five was her prerogative that did not have to be accepted. This is how Market Capitalism works.

We are to assume the Old Man is poor because he's selling eggs on the street. because, as every virtue-signaling, self-appointed elitist knows, only poor old people are street vendors. Not business owners, not entrepreneurs, but victims of the crushing weight of Evil Capitalism, forced to leave the confines of an air-conditioned office, or the quiet, manicured splendor of the University Quad, to eke out a pittance upon the pavement, in the gutter, on the mean bricks, like a modern day Oliver Twist.

We are to judge the Old Man on little more than appearances, personal prejudices, and a lack of information.

We are to assume the Woman is wealthy because she is dressed well and 'looks the part'. We do not know how she came by her apparent wealth, either. Is she a divorcee receiving alimony from an ex-husband, in which case, she's merely a parasite? Is she a business owner, herself, and successful at it? Did she inherit wealth? Is she really wealthy at all, but just likes expensive things? Her income and it's source is never discussed.

Again, we're to make an assumption based on appearances and biases.

The Restaurant Owner is happy to take a large tip on a meal that was largely uneaten, because, like JPMorgan or CitiGroup, he's a shining symbol of the licentious profit motive, taking extra money for a wasted resource and sucking up cash with a wanton disregard for his fellow man. We aren't told whether the restaurant owner is successful or barely keeping the doors open. There is no mention of the waitress, the dishwasher, or the bartender he employs, the grocers he's bought from, as if every penny of that over-generous tip went straight into his miserly pockets...or, rather, the immense bank vault that all restaurant owners surely must have.

The whole premise of the argument is built on a foundation of things liberal elitists routinely lecture us we're not supposed to do, primarily, make assumptions and judgments about people based solely upon appearances.

Why, there's even a litany of horrid social crimes associated with such thinking (basing opinions of others upon appearances), like Racial Profiling, Fat Shaming, Racial and Gender Discrimination, Body Shaming, Lookism, and a slew of others circling the appearances of a hijab, green hair, excessive body piercing, hell, there's even been a Civil Case against a major corporation that was charged with firing a woman simply because she was so beautiful that she constituted a distraction to her fellow employees. 

And she won!

And here we are, being urged to assume a great deal just so that we can advance ' a narrative', i.e. Capitalism Is Bad.

For the entire undertone of the story is Capitalism On Trial.

The entirety of the World, as Communism sees it, is on display -- The Proletariat (Old Man) is taken advantage of by the Petit Bourgeoise (the Middle-class Woman) who then hands her money over to the Bourgeoise (the Restaurant Owner), replaying an economic cycle that all ends up with a plate of leftovers that no one wants while others presumably starve.

We are not allowed to consider the possibility that the Old Man is anything but one of the 'deserving' downtrodden. That he may be a successful chicken farmer, or a steely entrepreneur, is never expressed.

We are not allowed to consider the possibility that the Woman is actually doing something to EARN her money by doing something useful to society; it is simply assumed it magically appeared in her purse, and she is depicted as a scavenger of the poor based on little more than a description of her clothes, fancy car, economic opportunism and negotiation skills.

One also gets the distinct impression, like everything else in this little shitbag of a story, that we can probably assume that she's intended to be white, although no mention of race is ever made. That's because, as all good little Marxists know, only wealthy white women have the temerity to haggle in a street market for the best price on eggs, drive fancy cars, and then spend enormous sums on meals that go uneaten in celebration of stealing from a Prole.

It's a swipe at crass consumerism, as well.

The IDEA that everyone here is acting under their own Free Will, and making choices -- to buy eggs, to negotiate the price, to accept a lower price in lieu of a better offer, to drive a fancy car, to eat in a tony restaurant, to leave the parsley on the side of the plate at the end of the meal -- are all PERSONAL CHOICES.

No one here is forced to do anything. No one forces the Restaurant Owner to serve food that will be wasted; no one forces the Woman to eat there or to prefer a Benz to a Yugo; no one coerces the Old Man into taking less for his eggs.

The Moral of The Story, then, is based upon a false premise: that something is immoral because it APPEARS to be immoral. In the absence of facts, we are to make the cardinal sin -- as we're told it is -- to make snap judgments with no facts to condition them, to assume the worst with no evidence, to judge by mere appearance, to subconsciously exercise a bias where the point is, in part, about making an effort to be unbiased (and in only one direction, apparently).

The Old Man is entitled to 10 or even 12 coins for his half-dozen eggs because you are to imagine him as a poor soul, hard done-to, scratching out a living by selling dairy products in the street. The Woman is an uncaring, unfeeling wastrel who barters for a lower price in one aspect of life and then throws cash out the window in another, apparently without thinking about HOW IT someone else.

I'm reminded of a man I used to see every day on the Staten Island ferry on my daily commute. An older Italian immigrant, dressed in dirty overalls, carrying a shoeshine box and a filthy pillow, who would make the rounds on the boat yelling out 'Shine!' in heavily-accented English.

As a younger man, I used to find this hilarious. As a younger, arrogant fucktard who went to work in a Brooks Brothers suit every day and had this man shine my shoes every so often, I used to think he was a loser. Someone who had failed in life and who had no other option than to shine commuter's shoes on a ferry boat in a shabby, green overall stained with bootblack.

That man passed away some years which point it was revealed that he was a millionaire. He had not only made a small fortune shining shoes, but he was friendly with many of his customers -- whom he had served for decades -- and many of them were Wall Streeters. 

How many stock tips and investment opportunities do you think came his way? Along with big tips for performing such a seemingly-lowly occupation?

Appearances are deceiving. They are especially deceiving when put to work in the service of an ideology which has been tried and failed so many times, but like a vampire, refuses to stay in it's coffin.

If we were to judge Shoeshine Dude by the standards of this little Marxist melodrama, we'd be just as wrong as they usually are.


GMay said...

Can't stop laughing at the book cover. Stolen, without future attribution.

I thought the childish part occurred by the introduction of the second caricature. Caricatures are all these intellectual adolescents can see other people as; because to see them as complex, fleshed out human beings means you can't govern them like an ant colony.

mtness said...

Aye, the millionaire link is broken, btw.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Matthew Noto said...

That link has been corrected.

Matthew Noto said...

Just in case, you can read it here: