Dreaming away the hierarchy · The first rationale: justifying it · The second rationale: transcending it · The third rationale: overthrowing it · Opium is the opium of the people

What is a rationale? [The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines it as “an exposition of principles or reasons.”]

Steven M Parish, doing research for his book Hierarchy and Its Discontents: Culture and the Politics of Consciousness in Caste Society (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996), interviewed an untouchable by the name of Kancha in the largely Hindu city of Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal. He asked him, “Do you think the matter of caste is unjust?” According to Parish, Kancha responded by saying that the caste system is simply a reality, adding “It was made long ago.” As the subject of a discussion or writing assignment, explore this question: Why does the fact that the caste system was made “long ago” validate it for Kancha?

Which of the three rationales presented here works for you?–or once worked for you?–or no longer works for you?

Quinn says that “As things get worse and worse for us, we’re going to need more and more of all the things that give us relief and oblivion and all the things that get us revved up and excited.” In addition to the ones he cites, what examples of this trend do you see at work in the world around you?