Walter Rhett

Paradoxes Shouldn’t Block Progress (Child Labor)

In Perlo on March 11, 2012 at 10:31 am

This is an old saw. It’s been around for years. It’s true, but it ignores how political and economic pressure changes the social dynamic and finally leds to improved conditions, in this case higher family income and school opportunities for children. Change is never static, and struggle forward often leads by paradox (or by resistance) to a backward step. Inevitably the new idea catches hold and the society moves forward.
After the civil war, slaves freed were immediately worse off, without the system of care and provision that had been established and maintained. But freedom lead to an agitation and new forms of organization that led to advances.
Purely as an isloated, static economic measure of short term points, the argument simply expresses a paradox within the dialectic of social action. Change and pressure on a system almost always result in a backward step, a lost of opportunity, income, freedom and involves a period of sacrifice (and doubt) before the community springs forward to adapt to these changes and absorbs the new values and demands into its institutions.
Progressive change requires a period of trail that retreats from the former status quo. The disruptions and losses act to put further pressure on the structures of authority and heightens the contradictions hidden in the “success” of the old system. Often cited as a reason not to change; the argument is used in the US against every raise in the minumum wage. It is part of the cost of progress. 


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