Inequality: Literature, Philosophy, Economics
If the Occupy Wall Street movement has faded, its slogan, “We are the 99 percent,” has lived on. Indeed, the slogan, pitting the wealthiest one percent of the population against everyone else, brought the issue of income inequality to the attention of a public that had, perhaps, sensed a problem but, until recently, lacked the terms to talk about it. In this class, we will start by exploring inequality in both the economic and philosophical sense through a foundational if also controversial text: The Communist Manifesto. As one of the first documents to discuss inequality, we will use the Manifesto as a sort of ur-text and see how its thoughts and ideas have evolved over time, particularly when put into conversation concerning race, gender, and sexuality. Hopefully, we’ll begin to see how incoming inequality hardly exists in a vacuum but rather depends on a variety of intersecting and sometimes competing sociopolitical forces.