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There Isn’t Just One Problem

August 12, 2010

Most of the time when I’m thinking about some issue or topic, particularly one that seems problematic to me, my inner narrative begins with “The one problem with such and such is…” and continues to explore that “one problem” that I’ve outlined.  Of course, the next step is showing how that “one problem” is linked to a variety of other problems, most of which do not have the same root, or whose same root is so general (like “human nature”) that for the purpose of solving the problem it’s unimportant.  I was thinking of starting out a post tonight on the “one problem” of capitalism – but there isn’t really just one problem with it, is there?  And to dismiss the intricacies of capitalism, both its benefits and its horrors, with just “one problem” seems to do a disservice to capitalism and to that problem which is one of many.  You need an accurate portrayal of the problematic thing if your problem is actually going to matter to it, and the “one problem” portrayal is seldom accurate.  You also need to do justice to the problem by taking it along with the whole of the problems of the problematic thing, because falsely elevating it will only make people reject it when it’s revealed through thought to be not the “one problem” it was made out to be.  So instead of the “one problem” with anything, I’m trying to have more full discussions of topics.  I’ll say, “A problem with capitalism” instead of “the one problem with capitalsim.”  With that statement I haven’t found the single, essential mistake of the idea, which rectified would free it from the bonds of error and destruction, but I have found another in a long line of problems.  With capitalism there is the essential problem of mistaking profit for worth (which is what I was going to start out writing about) so maybe that’s not the best example, but there are so many other problems that fall out of that mistake too.  I shouldn’t blow that problem and all the others out of proportion by only focusing on one.  Correct proportion is necessary for dealing with problems.

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