Rip & Tear

Rip & Tear

In 2005, my father subscribed to a new Starhub internet plan. Starhub gave us an Xbox, our first console. It came with the Lord of The Rings: The Return Of The King game, since we were still on the high of that movie franchise. For the next three years, we bought Xbox games near Deepavali, before our Xbox eventually died. In 2006, we bought Doom 3.

It seems stupid now, but Doom 3 was quite a big deal for me at that time. It was the first mature rated game we bought. It was also an atmospheric horror shooter, that pushed the capabilities of the console and computers of that time. I remember that the Playstation 2 couldn’t accommodate the game, so it was more or less a Microsoft exclusive. The collector’s edition I bought also came with Doom 1 and Doom 2, which while influential, didn’t age well. The first two games were arcade shooters that emphasized fun. Doom 3 was all about shadows, ambiance and claustrophobia.

I was in secondary school at that time. The next ten years would be turbulent for me. I had to stop being carefree because people around me were being somber and nonchalant.

Soon after, I too succumbed.

It’s been a decade. We now have a PS4. The mood in the house has been relatively sour. My brothers aren’t speaking. One of my father’s best friends died a fortnight before Deepavali. My mother’s relatives are plagued by illnesses.

I decided to get the fourth Doom on impulse. We got our PS4 last Deepavali. I thought we could pick up the old tradition of buying games for the festive season again. Doom sold for S$29, secondhand.

I had watched videos of the gameplay and knew that the game was going to be radically different from Doom 3, but playing it was a whole other experience. The playable character literally destroys any device that offers contextual exposition (a huge “Fuck you” to the newly arisen trend of trite storytelling gimmicks in modern games). DOOM2016 disregards the third installment altogether and harks back to the arcade style of the original games. The character sprints throughout the game. There is no reloading. The monsters are agile- no slow hankering behemoths like Doom 3, even the Hellknight jumps around like an over-caffeinated wrestler. The playable character can physically mangle hellspawn with his bare arms if he reduces enough of their health, and it’s a sight to behold.

The fear has been inverted. Now I cruise through flesh and bones to the sounds of electronic pulses and 8 stringed guitars, and one wonders who the real hellspawn is.

I wonder if the game is a message to me from some higher power, but it does feel like some cloud has been lifted as I battle the last of my personal demons. I know I have a tendency to exaggerate (it’s in my heritage), but the hot blooded of my youth has been flooding back into my veins in the last few months. I’ve been behaving recklessly, as if to affirm whatever divine message was sent to me last month. Dreamy visions and reality seem to fuse, interchangeably. Old friends are coming back to my side (for which I will be grateful) while I shed the grey skin I’ve donned for the last few years.

I have never felt so alive.

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Autonomy Lost

I’ve been in a funk, lately.

I have been unfriending people for a while now, to the point that my friend list now stands at about a hundred. It should be less, but I got tired of sifting people out.

Not that these folks were bad friends, some of them are well-meaning in their own ways, most were just people who I don’t feel any chemistry with. I don’t mean this in any snobbish way- I’m quite confident that I am different from most people. The structure of my thinking, my reliance on instinct, I don’t know (the logicians want to put everything in words on a piece of paper. I’ve tried that, and I realised there were too many things we can’t impose logic on). I want to be in an empty room while tending to the fires of my rebirth. In most cliques / friendships, I am just playing a role. I don’t want to be an actor anymore.

Most of the people I know tend to be ultra rich people (owing to my education in ACS).

My parents thought I would be inspired to to join the ranks of the rich if I went to school with them.

Shame. It only taught me that the system’s rigged. I will never be rich, not in this life.

I have to consider every cent that I spend, even with the expensive luxuries like a pint of beer or a pair of earphones. These decisions aren’t made lightly. I had to skip outings and prepare meals at home for weeks, sometimes a couple of months.

The people on my social media drive their own cars while posting about how they want to give back to society. Also please type ‘JWOO’ in the discount code to redeem 50% of my protein powder.

I’ve also been trying to let go of my ideologies, which proves more difficult than letting go of people. Feels like learning to walk again without my crutches. The goal is to learn to stand.

Being in free-fall induces a mental vertigo. Questioning everything from the meaning of life to the meaning in life. I tide the time with the things I love best- media. Games, music, movies, television. Creation. The materialization of a person’s intellectual or psychological impulses.

I’ve been listening to Jordan Peterson a lot, and he’s literally and figuratively God-sent. I don’t agree with everything he says. I am not going to buy into Jesus. Not before, not now, not ever. But he’s also reminded me that the atheist provides nothing (not that the concept of nothing isn’t appealing on it’s own).

I want to learn more about Hinduism, but the people of my race are mostly apathetic to the rationale of the religion. Either that, or they believe in idol worship and pray for miracles, as would any other pious person of another religion. Different window, same view.

My work should be starting soon. I will probably buy a gym membership to that 24/7 gym at River Valley. Some structure in my life would be welcome at this point.

I am not emotional or sad, by the way. As I said earlier, I am just in a funk.

Thoughts on Kabali

Thoughts on Kabali
– You can’t just put a coat on him and make him a ‘don’. His behaviour wasn’t gangster at all.
– He didn’t ‘act’. I mean, he emotes and all, but changes his emotion robotically second to second. Fucking weird.
– It’s telling when The Godfather, a nearly forty year old Hollywood film, has more nuance, complexity, character, plot and cinematography than this piece of shit of a film. You might think it’s unfair that I am comparing this with a film widely considered to be the best film ever made, then I will tell you that it’s fucking embarrassing that Tamil movies continue to flirt with childish themes, and worse, idiotic cinematography and sound editing (there were a few out of place metal clangs in the movie). All these advancements in technology and still no improvement in maturity or cinematic techniques. Shame.
– When Rajni is standing against the wall sized window, it’s pretty fucking obvious that the backdrop of KL is CGI. I don’t know why anyone who was making the film thought it was a good idea. Don’t be a lazy director and look for natural lighting, and don’t use CGI if it serves no real purpose or more importantly, if it looks like some meme I drew on MS Paint.
– I’m sure glad that Rajni’s flashback in the film was a limited montage but we could spend about 45 minutes going pointlessly from town to town, country to country looking for his wife.
– Which vending machine did they find the Chinese actor from? His weird intonation was a laugh.
– Dub the non-Indian actors altogether, or force them to weirdly speak Tamil altogether. Don’t do both. Winston Chao’s Tamil at the end seemed too much of a parody.
– Raadika Apte was a surprisingly good actress, but her involvement in the story was the most unnecessary part. What a fucking waste.
– Don’t even need to talk about Dhansika.
– A fucking huge waste of Kishore, who is normally a nuanced and subtle actor. Can’t blame him too, his character was so poorly written. For someone who had the brains to plot against his boss, it seems weird that he had no problem being a dog to Winston Chao.
– Rajni didn’t even come close to Nasser’s charisma or acting talent. And wait- gangsters in broad daylight are also politicians in Malaysia? I mean, even Najib was more subtle.
– Fade in, fade out for the montage toward the end as Winston Chao attacks Rajni’s henchmen. No, that is just terrible sequencing.
– Even by Tamil movie standards, dialogue was atrocious. Seriously. “Hey, I have an idea…. you can be my dog! Hahahaha” was an actual line, in English, in the film. Hearing Rajni tell the others exactly what he was thinking verbatim- I thought this shit only happens in anime. And this pisses me off because generally Tamil films excel in dialogue and wit. No wordplay, no ‘punch dialogue’ as Tamilans like to call it. Nothing.
– No manpower, no resources, and that ending plan of Rajni’s? I mean, it didn’t even feel smart or consistent. And the worst part is that it’s interspliced with images of the pool party, like as if that was supposed to arouse me somehow. And why did he wait until the end to do this? All he did was storm the other gangster’s businesses. But hey, just put the theme song and Tamilans will eat anything up, right?
– People act like this movie showed the plight of Tamil folk in Malaysia. No. It tried to. It failed. It was atrocious. I’m sure the Malaysian government was more than happy to put the blame on a wooden Chinese villain. And moreover, the real problem, which is a hole in meritocracy, was saved right at the end for about two minutes. While we spent forty five minutes on a fucking treasure hunt for Radhika Apte. If all this wasted runtime was used to build a proper theme….
The movie was made in response to Jigarthanda, which is miles above this piece of shit. Apparently Rajni saw Bobby Simha’s performance and felt inspired to do a gangster role, without emulating an ounce of his complexity or gravitas. Jigarthanda had better cinematography, better dialogue, better acting, better plot and even a nice subtle understudy on film-making. It was witty, clever and showed the socio-political workings of the modern Tamil city. NONE. OF. WHICH. WAS. SHOWN. IN. KABALI.
On a sidenote, the indie black comedy niche is thriving in Tamil cinema, and I would encourage more people to watch those films, instead of these mass appeal movies that incite severe brain damage.

Analysing Singapore as a Pragmatic State

Analysing Singapore as a Pragmatic State

Analysing Singapore as a Pragmatic State

In this paper, I will argue that the government is hoping to move towards an ideal state that it thinks is objectively beneficial to the country on a macroscopic level, using common economic indicators such as standard of living, GDP per capita and equity. They have often referred to this style of governance as ‘pragmatism’. For the most part, this style of governance has brought forth a lot of economic prosperity- at the cost of individual freedom. This line of thinking may lead to a divergence between the government’s plan and the people’s desires.

 

Singapore is clearly a cohesive-capitalist state since our government plays a huge role in directing our resources for maximum output[1]. The government mapped out our industrialization[2] in the sixties and continues to direct the economy till today. Moreover, government-linked corporations (GLCs) today account for 60% of all growth[3], making the state somewhat neo-patrimonial since the distinction between private and public resources can be significantly blurred. This isn’t coincidental; many of these GLCs have directors and board members instated by the government, and thus the government has a large stake in the decision making process[4]. However, it is also important to note that the government understands the line between public and private resources, as evidenced from the potential transition of SMRT back to government ownership[5], as opposed to leaving it as a private institution. This makes it wrong to say that the Singapore is completely neo-patrimonial, since Kohli clearly states that neo-patrimonial states ‘intervene heavily in the economy but with disastrous results’ or a ‘weak private sector’[6]. In Singapore’s case, the government is deeply embedded in the private sector and it is clearly flourishing. This makes ‘cohesive-capitalist’ a better description of the Singapore state.

There has been some subtle changes in the structure of power in Singapore. The Singaporean government was a lot more autonomous under Lee Kuan Yew (LKY)[7], but has transitioned to a more embedded and inclusive under his successors, Goh Chok Tong (GCT) and Lee Hsien Loong (LHL). LKY sought to bring about rapid and radical changes to the state, and many times, this was met with soft rebellion. Besides the obvious political turmoil among the elites during Operation Coldstore[8] and Spectrum[9], there was a lot of anger surrounding his and Dr. Goh Keng Swee’s decision to choose trade with multinational corporations over home-grown SMEs[10]. The relation of the government to the people was in line with Weber’s bureaucracy, somewhat insulated from what people wanted and hence free of the rent-seeking usually associated with a neo-utilitarian model. However this has changed with his successors, with GCT often being described as ‘consultive’[11] with the people, and LHL going further with establishing continuity with the people[12]. LHL’s administration has backtracked on the Population White Paper (although the importing of high skilled foreign workers is increasing). Moreover, the restrictions for speech at the Speakers’ Corner have been loosened[13]. This is in line with Evan’s embedded autonomy[14], where members of parliament are interacting more with the public and “embedded in a concrete set of social ties.” The PAP still retains a lot of autonomy, but it listens to the public[15], or at least pretends to, to ensure maximum effectiveness of its policies. This, however, does not necessarily mean that the PAP can better empathize with the public. (My professor said that this was a good observation)

 

While it is a given that the government will act within socially custodian capacity like most states worldwide, it primarily plays the role of husbandry with regards to the economy. The government has to have some form of control simply because we cannot afford to be a free market in international trade. As a country without natural resources, the early PAP government recognised that we weren’t a sustainable economy in autarky, and that certain rules had to be implemented if we were to avoid exploitation from bigger countries in trade[16]. It combines this husbandry with some level of midwifery. While it may not have played a heavy midwifery role in its inception, today it has pumped significant resources into the IT[17] and biotechnology[18] sectors to help keep our economy relevant. It can be tempting to say the state has been demiurgic, especially given its past, but the state has been very libertarian toward the private market. Somewhat paradoxically, we are ranked amongst the freest markets in the world[19], because of the ease of starting a business in the country today. The problem isn’t that the PAP currently discourages entrepreneurship, but that risk-aversion is ingrained into the public psyche through the education and meritocratic system[20]. Perhaps it could also be the discouragement of SMEs in our earlier development. The paper chase is evidence that Singaporeans rarely look for an alternative path to (financial) success besides getting a degree. As such, it would be a fallacy to call the state demiurgic. The government has been actively encouraging alternative career paths and has been accommodating to new businesses.

 

In its search for macroeconomic prosperity, it has often placed the state’s needs before the individuals. And to some extent, that may be a good thing. As explored in Durkheim’s Suicide; the individual is often asking for more than the optimal amount of resources he needs[21]. In economics, we refer to this phenomenon as the tragedy of the commons, when individuals aren’t aware that their selfish desires come at the expense of others’, resulting in social inefficiency.  Having an authoritarian government step in to dictate social actions can result in a more efficient allocation of resources, even if the individual doesn’t observe it. This has been the PAP’s go-to definition of ‘pragmatism’[22], since it firmly believes it knows better than the public. Having an embedded autonomy allows the PAP maximum efficiency in carrying out its policies, much faster than liberal governments in the West which often have to wrestle with lobbies, opposition parties or the electorate to carry out policies.

 

This form of government is not without its pitfalls, of course. With its relative isolation from the public, and hence its parochial view of the individual as a cog in the wheel, there are problems which the PAP may not recognise, like rising inequality (both social[23] and economic[24]). In other words, the government still has blind spots, since it believes it knows best and receives little to no criticism from the people. The PAP has to come forward and be more welcoming to ideas and concerns from the people. They have taken a few steps toward this, but the idea of obedience has still been largely ingrained into the people. Since the PAP has become technocratic, it bases itself on the idea that its members are the most competent in the country, even though this ‘meritocracy’ is usually based on formal academic qualifications or (superficial) military positions[25]. On the flipside, I would like to put forth the further argument that the people have also become too dependent or fearful of the government. The restrictions on public protests and sedition laws make it seem like the government has banned criticism altogether, even though it has now allowed for constructive criticism. With people rarely contributing ideas and a government that plays a socially custodian role, there is a divide between what is observed among the elites and the common man. A good example of this is the PAP’s insistence of pricing and affordability (like buying a house on one grand a month, a staple of LHL’s annual National Day rally). With prices set to go up and rising inequality, this divide is going to be even bigger in the coming years, and I foresee some less than subtle changes within the PAP if it intends to continue remaining in power.


 

I wrote this for my SC3205 (Sociology of Power: Who Gets to Rule?) module. Professor gave me a B+, even though she said it was a good essay. Marked me down for not talking about the concept of embedded economy, which is frustrating because she gave a word limit of 1000 (which I have already exceeded by a bit here). I wrote another essay on Singapore as a bureaucratic state but I probably wouldn’t publish it here since I don’t think I wrote all too well on that one. I got marked down for supporting our government, HEH. I think this module was a bit of a game changer for me, not because it was a good module but because I ended up re-evaluating a lot of my political stances. At first, I wanted to write positively about our government, just out of spite of all the social justice warriors in my class (my professor included, to some extent). As some of you on Facebook would have realised, writing these essays eventually made me realise the government does a lot of things right. I wouldn’t say I have become a firm PAP supporter, but writing this has made me a lot more grateful for their contributions.

 

References

[1] Huck-ju Kwon, 2005, “Transforming the Developmental Welfare State in East Asia”, Palgrage Macmillan, Chapter 4 and 8

[2] Tan Siok Sun, 2007 , “Goh Keng Swee: A portrait”, Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, pp. 78, 93–95

[3] Reiner Heufer, 2013, International Society for Individual Liberty World Conference speech

[4] Chua Beng Huat, 2010, “Disrupting Hegemonic Liberalism in East Asia”, Duke University Press

[5] Christopher Tan, “LTA to buy $1b of SMRT assets under new rail financing framework “, Straits Times, 15 July 2016

[6] Atul Kohli. 2004. State Directed Development: Political Power and Industrialization in the Global Periphery. Cambridge University Press, pg 7

[7] Lee Kuan Yew, Straits Times, 20 April 1987

[8] Jones Matthew, 2008, “Creating Malaysia: Singapore Security, the Borneo Territories, and the Contours of British policy”, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

[9] “Govt acted to nip communist problem in the bud, says Dhana”, The Straits Times, 2 June 1987

[10] Bilveer Singh, 2012, “Government and Politics Of Singapore”, McGraw Hill 2nd Ed

[11] Bridget Welsh, 2009, “Impressions of the Goh Chok Tong years in Singapore”, NUS Press, pp 6-8

[12] Koh Buck Song, 2011, “Brand Singapore: How Nation Branding Built Asia’s Leading Global City”, page 152

[13] Kok Xing Hui , “Foreign companies need permit to sponsor, promote or participate in Speakers’ Corner events: MHA”, Straits Times, 21 October 2016

[14] Peter Evans, 1995, “Embedded Autonomy: States and Industrial Transformation”

[15] Francis Law, “Singapore must continue working towards more inclusive society: PM Lee”, Today, 2 December 2015

[16] Paul Krugman, 1987, “Is Free Trade Passé?”, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 1, No. 2, (Autumn, 1987), pp. 131-144, American Economic Association

[17] Carolyn Khew & Lin Yangchen, “Singapore ‘could be global innovation hub’”, Straits Times, 10 January 2016

[18] Adrienne Selko, “Singapore’s Secret to Attracting Biotech Companies”, Industry Week, 10 April 2015

[19] Economic Freedom Index, http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking

[20] Natalie Turner, “Risk-taking in S’pore: Progress made, but rethink may be needed”, Today, Singapore Press Holdings, March 28, 2014

[21] Emile  Durkheim, 1951, “Suicide : a study in sociology”, The Free Press

[22] Christopher Tremewan, 1996, “The Political Economy of Social Control in Singapore (St. Anthony’s Series)”, Palgrave Macmillan. p. 105.

[23] Liyana Othman, 2016, “Social mobility ‘in trouble’ as social gaps widen: Tharman”, Today, 26 May 2016

[24] Ho Kong Weng, 2007, “Wage equality and intergenerational educational mobility may be in long-term decline in Singapore.”, Ethos — Issue 3, October 2007

[25] Michael Barr, 2009, “The ruling elite of Singapore: Networks of power and influence”

Austrian Economics

Austrian Economics

Business cycles are well understood. They are not a natural consequence of capitalism but instead from central bank manipulation of credit…. The next downturn, likewise, will be the fault of the Fed…. The silly notion that money can be created at will by a printing press or through computer entries is eagerly accepted by the majority as an easy road to riches, while ignoring any need for austerity, hard work, saving, and a truly free market economy…. But that’s a fallacy. There is always a cost. Artificially low interest rates prompt lower savings, over-capacity expansion, malinvestment, excessive borrowing, speculation, and price increases in various segments of the economy – Ron Paul

Reading an e-book entitled ‘Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: Austrian vs. Keynesian economics in the financial crisis’. Some interesting comparisons, found this particular quote interesting.

Comparing Durkheim’s understanding of the human individual with Marx’s

Comparing Durkheim’s understanding of the human individual with Marx’s

2. Compare Durkheim’s understanding of the human individual with Marx’s. In what ways do they conflict, and in what ways might they complement each other? Whose approach do you find more compelling, and why?

Durkheim and Marx are both similar in that they view the individual as part of a larger, single collective; society. Both of them adopted a structuralist approach to analyse society and its individuals. However, the similarities end there; while Durkheim saw the individual as a mere cell in an organism (mechanical or organic), Marx placed a lot of emphasis on the individual. Where Durkheim saw individuals acquiescing to social norms and society moving progressively as a collective whole, Marx saw a regression in humanity as society moves towards its inevitable class war. Thus, both sociologists came to very different conclusions despite starting off on relatively similar footing.

To understand the similarities in both thinkers, it would be easier to see what they stood against; the Cartesian self. Before the Industrial Revolution, French philosopher René Descartes saw the individual as a completely rational, transcendental figure that is not circumspect to external factors, a rhetoric he summarized in his line, “I think, therefore I am”. This was a sentiment that gained popularity in the age of Enlightenment and continued to influence people during the Industrial Revolution. On this front, both Marx and Durkheim are in complete agreement that the individual is not an autonomous figure, but rather a product of his society. Where Descartes saw introspection as a way of understanding the individual (though he would consequently conclude that self-understanding is impossible), Marx and Durkheim saw a way to understand the individual, by understanding the external environment around him. This approach is a structuralist one, and both see individuals a component of society, instead of a group of individuals bound together with little to no connection of each other’s consciousness. Durkheim saw the individual’s consciousness as part of the collective, and that social norms shape the individual’s thoughts. In fact, he saw the individual as a reflection of society’s progress. Similarly, Marx saw the individual as a “social being” in his natural state. Both studied the cumulative impact of society rather than individualistic theories to explore the individual’s role. This however, leads to their main differences.

Durkheim viewed the individual with a hint of negativity, and was pessimistic about individualistic notions. This can be seen in his book, ‘Suicide’, where he insinuates that deviance from the norm is harmful for the individual. Durkheim thinks an individual is incapable of controlling his own desires, arguing that “our capacity for feeling is in itself an insatiable and bottomless abyss” and that “the more one has, the more one wants, since satisfactions received only stimulate instead of filling needs”. Durkheim insists that such desires are unhealthy and that an external force is required to step in to regulate this individual’s desires. In this case, the external force is society, as it is “the only moral power superior to the individual”. A lack of regulation from society may lead to ‘anomie’ or deviance from the norm, and Durkheim attributed this to one of the four types of suicide in his book. Durkheim places the society before the interests of the individual, and suggests that an individual will be selfish and greedy in the absence of a regulatory figure.

On the other hand, Marx saw the positivity in an individual shaped by his desire. Marx opined that human individuals are different from animals in that they “produce their [own] means of subsistence” and “indirectly producing their actual material life”. In other words, Marx, while acknowledging that the individual is not confined to his abstract self, insists that mankind is in the process of evolving, that he is ‘human becoming’. It is important to note that Marx saw individuals in two different parts; one as the architect of his existence, and one as part of a collective. Again, this is in contrast with Durkheim, because he suggested that the individual is built by the social collective alone. Marx asserts that “the nature of individuals thus depends on the material conditions determining their production”. He focuses on the tangible, material objects around the individual, instead of the ideals that Durkheim saw in the form of religion, laws and beliefs. In the language of Durkheim’s ‘Suicide’, Marx would have seen no issue in a society with little regulation or integration, as long as these are not needed for the individual to provide for his own subsistence. On the other side of the fence, Durkheim would think that an individual simply making his own material mark on the world without agreeing to collective thought was unhealthy for both the individual and the society. Marx saw the social collective as the root of the crisis in modern society, while Durkheim would argue that it’s the lack of integration or regulation, or a society with less than healthy relations that leads to general unhappiness in the modern world. To put it shortly, Marx believed that society would move towards conflict, whilst Durkheim believed that society would move towards consensus. This is why their views of the individual are polar opposites of each other despite agreeing that the individual is shaped by external factors.

Ironically, individualism has its place in Durkheim’s division of labour; as society moves towards a more complex division of labour, Durkheim is convinced that there will be increased interdependence and hence better integration within society. This would mean that more individuals are inspired to make their own mark on the world with their own products that are unique to them. The individual is hence integral to society even if he does not play a similar role to other members of society, because he is not easily replaceable. However, there exists a form of labour that is based on an individual’s economic or power status. This is an anomic division of labour, which he describes as “although very highly developed, result[s] in a very imperfect integration”, where workers are forced to do repetitive work without knowing or understanding their significance to the rest of society, thus separating them from society and reducing solidarity. This would also tie in to Marx’s concept of alienation, and Marx would also want for individuals to be able to make their own specialized products as opposed to homogenous products for multi-national corporations. When an individual is forced to do repetitive work, the “worker does not affirm himself in his work but denies himself, feels miserable and unhappy”. It can be said that Durkheim is directly referring to Marx himself on this front, and we see the marriage of both men’s ideologies briefly in anomic division of labour in relation to alienation. However, this isn’t necessarily a reconciliation, as Durkheim feels that in his ideal society, useless jobs would be abolished and if jobs still feel repetitive to the individual, the employer would simply have to tell the employee about his place in society, and why he is important. Marx would have seen this as suppression of class consciousness on the individual.

In any case, I find Marx’s view of the individual far more compelling than Durkheim’s. Marx’s interpretation of the individual transcends time and space and continues to stay relevant even in the post-modern world. This is because Marx saw the individual in relation to the material world as opposed to abstract ideals. Marx acknowledged the continued evolution of humanity through different periods, while Durkheim could only base his theories on a limited scope of historical data. Marx did not negate the consciousness of the individual, and correctly predicted the growing unhappiness and resentment in individuals as capitalism grew and supressed his desires and needs.

In contrast, Durkheim’s view of the individual was unrealistic, as seen in his assumption that “the division of labour produces solidarity only if it is spontaneous and in proportion as it is spontaneous”. His argument about individuals willing to work towards the collective good is flawed because he ignores the lack of means to subsistence on the workers’ end. In the real world, individuals have to do a job because they are forced into it and they would starve without the money. Durkheim incorrectly sees integration as a factor of social solidarity instead of economic predisposition. Durkheim’s dismissal of deviant behaviour as anomic is also tragically myopic, since ideals can change over time. Slavery and racism were seen as social norms in the past, but they are outlawed in the modern world, without necessarily tearing apart the solidarity of the country. It makes even less sense today, with the rise of the internet and social media drawing separate individuals from different countries and different time zones who may experience solidarity in their online presence. A group of homosexuals can experience this on an online chat group even if it’s deviant behaviour in their country or social setting. In comparing societies with one another, as opposed to intra-social classes as Marx did, Durkheim severely underestimates the importance of the individuals’ desires and needs and incorrectly assumes that society as a whole can bring about progress and positive change to the individual.


This is an essay I wrote for SC3101. I did this module as part of my minor in European Studies. Not too bad. Got an A- for this without much effort.