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The Fallacy of the Middle-Class: Overcoming Social Resentment (III). Historical Origins of the Social Class Structure.

Sorry for not posting yesterday, as I always do on Tuesdays. I wanted to review some information overnight before proceeding further. As you already know, I am trying to be more studious about my premises before sharing them here. And, the more I wait to review them in my mind, the better it is for you. Many human mistakes (at the corporate strategy level of public, private, and NGOs) have happened because we have lost our capacity to ruminate knowledge. We have lost our capacity to do things slowly. With the rise of communication technologies, NAIQIs* and sophisticated transportation systems, we work as slaves (disrespecting our office schedules). Our working weeks require now a 24/7 agenda, and that is not good for us. So we don´t think anymore, we are only information receivers. We want to go at the same rhythm of our technological creations, and our brain is not designed that way. Particularly in problem-solving, I am trying to role-model to you, through my own work, that it is good and advisable to take things gently and slowly. When I write sagas, I do it in REAL-TIME. That means, that at the same time that I study the themes, do the research, read about other experts’ points of view, philosophy about them, write, edit, embellish with aquarelles and then finally upload the material. So if we ponder and meditate on our ideas a little bit, it is not only good but beneficial. In summary, forgive me if sometimes I stop my work for a few hours, just to chew over and contemplate thoughtfully the ideas before proceeding further.

“Middle Class begins”. An aquarelle by Eleonora Escalante. Size: 7 inches x 5 inches. Handmade with love on Fabriano 5 Paper. Reference picture utilized to paint this bunny:

In addition, I do not want this saga to be linked only to the particular modern or contemporary theories of the social class. Particularly, this saga is not at all about Marxism (Karl Marx) concepts neither about other 19th Century political philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, or Henri de Saint Simon. My aim is to evolve from all of them, with an integral strategic perspective.

In the direction to an integral definition of social class. For Eleonora Escalante Strategy, a social class definition has to be found in history, using the anthropologist, cultural and integral aspects, beyond only economics.

Let´s see a popular general definition of social class, also called a class: “A social class is a group of people within a society who possess the same socioeconomic status. Besides being important in social theory, the concept of class as a collection of individuals sharing similar economic circumstances has been widely used in censuses and in studies of social mobility (Britannica .com)”. This type of explanation is too simplistic. Why? Because the social class definition must consider the different cultures and reference groups standards. Let´s say it this way, “Someone who belongs to a social class from the Eastern part of the world appears to pay greater attention to context and relationship, rely on experience-based knowledge than abstract logic, and show more tolerance for contradiction. Meanwhile, those from the Western are more analytic in their thinking and tend to avoid contradictions relying more heavily on formal logic”.

Being part of a social class is not the same than to belong to a reference group. When we are born we are simply part of a “reference group” by Naissance, who is a portion of a major group called social class. Reference groups may change over time. Your reference group with life may or may not change, according to our parents’ social mobility and later to our own. A reference group is a group of people to whom we look to get information about what attitudes and behaviors which are acceptable and appropriate. You simply belong to a specific reference group in a social specific class at a specific territorial ground.  With that in mind, my purpose is to offer a different concept of social class, one that can help us to understand that the Middle-Class strengthening and growth is the key to success for democracies and fight inequalities.

In consequence, I will consider retrospectively and look back to history. To the historical origins of the term “social class”. Don´t lose sight, in order to define what is the Middle-Class, we have to define social classes first. And we are going to invest some time into the anthropology roots of this term.  On my next publication (this coming Friday 23rd) we will land into our own strategic definition of social class and Middle-Class which will be different than what you are used to reading or be lectured at your University sociology-economic-demographic/marketing courses.

Let´s begin with the roots of this cognitive content.

Historical Origins of the Social Class. This material is a personal reflection of the first part of a paper written by Alan Parkin 60 years ago, who was the President of the Canadian Psychoanalytic Society, at the University of Toronto.  

There was upon a time in which humans lived in a condition of savagery (Upper Paleolithic period). They hunted animals and lived as nomads, leaving their histories painted at the caverns. Around 10,000 years ago, our ancestors mastered the magic of fire (our first form of energy), and that discovery provoked the change to agricultural and pastoral barbarism. Next, a further shift happened, the incipient economy shifted from harvesting in the wild to the cultivation of cereals and to tillage of the soil by domesticated animals. The Agricultural uprising started its ruling and social adjustments were required in the communities of those times.

In the origins, “once the means of producing own food were secured, the accumulation of food surpluses became possible, and the ancient communities realized that they were able to create new secondary industries which served the primary food-producing activity, and satisfied the basic needs and wants of shelter, clothing, war, and resources transportation.

At that time, the growth in population and the diversification of the different type of jobs was accompanied by an increasing movement of the people from the rural to the newly rising villages. This new way of living was undertaken first around 6,000 years ago. These villages then became urban centers and were developed around temples and kingdoms, with a theocratic system. The writing was developed, trade began and the urban civilization established.

The transition from a tribal society to a class society appeared with the Greeks and then the Romans. Once urban civilizations started to grow, the appearance of the social classes began. Societies as Greeks and the Roman Empire began to test new forms of organization, by trial and error. Different social stratification systems triggered sometimes by patrilineal inheritance (the Minoan-Mycenean civilization) or by ancient matriarchal genetic endowment (descendants of a common mother). With the rise of the urban civilization model, and with the practice of investing wealth in building infrastructure assets oeuvres, sometimes to show-off the resplendence of the society leaders, and sometimes infrastructure systems wanted for housing, sanitation, mobilization and drinking water; then a new form of social organization was needful the class structure.

Later, the Romans attempted to traverse the gentilitial tribal organizations in a period of 5 generations.  During the reign of Numa Pompilius (716-673 BCE). And later by Servius Tullius, who finally installed a political and class society of 5 classes.

Servant, knight, and lord. Britain also went through a social transformation that took them from tribal barbarism to a feudal social structure. Meanwhile the greek and then later the Roman societies were passing from gentilitial to a class structure, the Britain territory was being overrun by the Celts who were also living initially in a state of agricultural barbarism. During the next 1000 years, the basis of the classes of a servant, knight, and lord was developed in Britain.

Regardless of the type of ancient civilization and the chosen social class structure, the leading of the society was in the hands of those who inherited the power by a lineage of their Gods and their land inherits or land conquer. The noblemen, the aristocracy, the kingship (power monarchies with kings/queens and their respective court organizations), and the priesthood class. Subsequent plebeians ranks were classified according to an intellectual talent (studious philosophers, astronomers, religious leaders serving priests) or a type of expertise (artisans, writers, architects, builders, teachers) or a specific activity related to providing the security expansion of their kingdoms or empires (warriors). Finally, the slaves (or servants) were always hanging there (non-free men and women).

All the past empires that you wish to recall, Mesopotamians, Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, etc; had slaves on a proportion of at least 9 vassals (captives) to 1 free person.

Slaves and servants. No matter the time in history explored, or the type of society, slaves were never removed from the social structure. The rationale behind slavery has never disappeared. To these days, modern slavery still exists in every single country on earth. You can see it in rich or poor countries. Modern Slavery happens with the non-educated “servants”, immigrants or the imported “blue-collar” working class that you see in domestic employees, construction workers, street-cleaning forces, drivers, agriculture collectors, and the rest of the categories arranged under what has been called “essential workers” during this COVID19 pandemic. Modern slavery still exists, not just based on race discrimination; also it is undercovered, or officially accepted and promoted in certain societies. What worries me much more is to notice that through the NAIQIs* model, the middle-class is at risk to decrease. Modern slavery will enlarge not just in developing countries, not just at the low-class workers for “essential activities”, but have commenced to put in “domiciliary arrest” to excellent talent in bondage under low-wages as an output of this Pandemic.

Let´s see the following slide that explains the hypothesis of Doctor Alan Parkin, in relation to the origins of the social classes or social modern structure. Parkin stated: “The class structure appears to be a social response to the rise of urban civilization with its attraction of tribal members to the city and the consequent abandonment of the old rules of residence and descent”. What do you think?

If you wish to download the last slide in PDF (the little size of the words will be seen clearly), please click below:

Toward a new integral definition of social class. Why do we want to stick to a history and archaeologist line of thought explained by a University of Toronto psychoanalyst? Why do you think we have shown you a different approach to understand the concept of social stratification? Why do you think anthropologists and historians can provide such a valuable explanation of the concept of social classes, beyond what is being taught nowadays in our economic courses? Please do not take me wrong, I am not dismissing social scientists in this saga picture. Sociologist works will be required and extremely helpful for most of the following posts. But today, for this specific episode, why do you think we have glued ourselves to an anthropologist, psychological and history perspective?

Your answers to these questions will be confronted in our next post. See you on Friday.

* NAIQI means Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence Technologies (such as robotics, automation, machine learning, etc), Quantum Supremacy, and the Internet.

Sources of reference utilized to write this article:

Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  Nevertheless, the majority of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine.  I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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