I seem to have run into a paradox that I can’t solve for the life of me. It goes something like this.
It is by all acknowledged that in the past, in the industrialized nations, workers were far more oppressed than they are now. They had no rights, they were paid starvation wages, they had to work 10s of hours a day. So far, I get it. But here comes the question: if their oppression was so extreme, how could they gather the force to change their conditions so drastically? Particularly when we compare it with the world of work today. We see less oppression, but at the same time, not much is going on in trying to stop it. This will mean that, yes, in the long run, things will get worse.
This paradox takes a very similar form in the case of women’s liberation. It is by all acknowledged that in the past, in the industrialized nations, women were far more oppressed than they are now. And yet… they managed to organize and get laws passed. We all know that the women’s movement was more powerful when things were worse.
I am by no means the first person to point this out. I’ve seen it in the following form:
How is it possible that in the past women could fight for their rights and today women cannot even keep the rights they already have?
The case of abortion comes to mind. In the past, abortion was legalized. Today, we cannot even keep it legal.
Does anyone know what the solution to this paradox is? Were people in the past more oppressed at the same time as they were more empowered? Or is that a contradiction in terms?
Answers on a postcard.