The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone's Well-Being

Read: The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being

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Introduction

The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being(Pickett and Wilkinson, 2019) is an amazing book and is written as a follow up to their previous work
Read: The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger (Pickett and Wilkinson, 2009) which was also an amazing read. I read both books in 2 days each. Their profound revelations make both of these books required reading for anyone with political interest for it lays bare the core issue that we need to tackle in order – Inequality.

About The Inner Level

This book powerfully drives home how inequality affects us all and why and how it is harmful to all it affects from rich to poor. In societies with greater inequality the rich live 10 years less than those in more equal countries. High levels of inequality like we see in the USA are devastating to everyone especially to those who are poor, and horrifically harms educational potential in all students rich or poor. As a society, we cannot hope to heal ourselves or even advance until inequality in annihilated globally.

Quotes from the Book

By raising the stakes and making the differences more apparent income and social position are seen as ever-more prominent indicators — measures almost — of a person’s worth. Each step down the status hierarchy matters more as we come increasingly to judge each other by status. It is not surprising that problems which are sensitive to social status within our societies get worse when status differences increase.

The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being (pg 12)

All the progress towards greater equality which was made in the intervening decades has been lost and the inflated salaries and bonuses of mans bankers and coma CEOs have allowed them to found new dynasties in which their children and grandchildren will be able to live on unearned income in perpetuity. In the same way as the yawning gap between rich and poor led to the conspicuous consumption of Veblen’s days, so the rise in inequality since the end of the 1970’s has intensified status competition and consumerism in our own societies.

The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being (pg 45)

There are so many life events or situations that can trigger this ‘deactivation’ strategy — defeats and setbacks, being dominated, bullied or rejected. While initially protective, such a response involves feeling less (or nothing), turning off our positive as well as negative emotions, and some of us get stuck, unable to turn off this ‘coping’ strategy when it is no longer helpful. Feeling cut off from other people, we can get stuck in a self-reinforcing cycle of rumination, trying to work out why we feel such a failure and driving ourselves further into depression. This chain of events, from rejection and defeat to depression, seems to be activated on the scale of an epidemic in the modern world: as mentioned earlier, according to the World Health Organization, depression is the major cause of disability globally. We might be trapped in a situation, at school or work or at home where we are bullied, put down or made to feel inferior. We might hate our job but need the money, so continue in a situation where we feel stressed every day. We are often trapped, and it is this entrapment in a submissive or subordinate response that is at the root of depression.


The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being (pg 73)

He describes how constantly monitor our actions in each other’s eyes to avoid rejection, and cites Charles Cooley, the influential early American sociologist quoted at the beginning of Chapter 1, who taught that: ‘The thing that moves us to pride or shame is not the mere mechanical reflection of ourselves, but an imputed sentiment, the imagined effect of this reflection upon another’s mind.’ We monitor how others react to us for fear of any negative evaluations which might lead to rejection.


The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being (pg 151)

Individuals who behaved too generously in a dominance hierarchy were likely to be taken advantage of just as those who were too self-serving in an egalitarian society risked ostracism. In societies with strong ranking systems, the threats to the survival of subordinates came not only from dominants but also from restricted reproductive opportunities and insufficient access to scarce resources. In contrast to the pressures towards self-advancement dominance hierarchies, egalitarian societies provided both negative selective pressures, such as ostracism for antisocial behaviour, and positive selection for more co-operative characteristics. People who were less selfish and more generous and trustworthy would have been more popular as partners in co-operative activities as well as being preferred as mates.

Through these rewards and sanctions, egalitarian societies created a strong evolutionary pressure towards the development of more sociable characteristics in our evolved psychology.


The Inner Level: How More Equal Societies Reduce Stress, Restore Sanity and Improve Everyone’s Well-Being (pg 176)

Conclusion

This book pretty much validates all of the policies I have set forth for my political platform if I were to run for office. I only made like 2 adjustments to my platform based on their advice – one of which was reducing the minimum hours per week for full time employment from 32 down to 21 hours per week!! =O

If you are into Resource Based Economies, this will also be a powerful book to expand your knowledge and support for why a RBE and is the only real answer to the inequality problem.

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