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Charity and Credit: Phantom Fantasies

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

In “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” Oscar Wilde writes that “charity creates a multitude of sins” and urges the reader to recognize the hazards of distorting reality. Wilde cautions us about our altruistic notions, reminding us that life is difficult and that pain is an important force in human progress. We forget this though, and despite the endless list of clich├ęs, fail to remember that it is pain that makes us move and inversely all human development comes from the need to respond. Who would ever move when one is happy? There is no progress in contentment.

Wilde’s essay has an important connection to the now global economic crisis. As we transition into a system of “austerity” Wilde’s essay can be utilized as an excellent rhetorical frame for our leaders. We live in a system where the narrative used to present material is in fact the most important decision a speaker makes and Wilde’s essay lays out the perfect frame for use.

When we reduce our public assistance we are not adopting a level of humility or cruelty. We are not disregarding the needs of the less fortunate. Instead, our work to eliminate debt and additional over-spending is simply a return to sanity. Credit is absurdity; it is the publicly accepted delusion that distorts the reality of capital and instills a system of phantom dollars and fuzzy feeling. A system using credit immediately injects emotion into the transaction and subjective emotions prove dangerous comrades in such waters. We cannot remove credit, but a significant reduction in its use will serve as an excellent tool to return to more realistic perspectives.

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