If a society changes from being money-ruled to some-other fundament, would the compulsions of the people change? What would the citizens' incentives be at that stage? Gissing thinks that it would make no difference because people would still have no training or education in acting more wisely. From a practical standpoint, his reasoning is flawless; to authentically act according to beliefs and values, you need to have real life knowledge of what those beliefs and values entail. Simply removing money and expecting people to immediately act more wisely is like taking away the bottle from the drunk and expecting them to immediately acquire healthy habits.
Gissing views capitalism as a poison even if you have wealth because it directs yourself away from yourself. Unlike personal growth, where you develop equity in your abilities, confidence, and relationships, wealth is determined and gauged by money, which is completely outside of the individual. Yes, wealth is a device used to gauge our wants and needs through the production of concrete objects and socially observable mechanisms, but he'd be willing to scrap the whole system because of the compulsions it produces. Since he's an artist, judging simply from what Orwell wrote about him, I don't think Gissing would think that any money-based society could function as well on a practical level on one calibrated via individual wit and tenacity. This is a critique philosophers have made since history was first recorded, though, just filtered through a literary mind.
Page 471: "The only worth-while objective, as he sees it, is to make a purely personal escape from the misery of poverty and then proceed to live a civilized, aesthetically decent life. He is not a snob, he does not wish for luxury or great wealth, he sees the spuriousness of the aristocracy and he despises beyond all other types the go-getting, self-made business man; but he does long for an untroubled, studious life, the kind of life that cannot be lived on less than about 400 pounds a year." Gissing's certainly a purist, and although that doesn't make him unique in any way, he carries a distinct distaste of the working class which is peculiar in those who despise wealth. He calls the working class "savages." You'd think that someone who despises aristocracy would have a soft spot for the underclass like Dickens or Orwell himself, but Gissing has no pity for those who don't succeed economically, and thinks they should stay far away from political power. Objectively though, he's spot on, in that just because they receive no social privileges doesn't mean they're suited for politics. I'm curious as to his vision of a political system sans money, because although a simple system like bartering didn't have money, it had a social means of passing goods and services back and forth. When individuals do this, they engage in a power structure, sometimes a power struggle, oftentimes resolved on a large scale by setting up a government to regulate its passing from one agent to another. Gissing senses this inherent flaw in overarching power systems, identifying how it diseases each of the social classes in different ways, yet this "aesthetically decent" life needs a much stronger base than the allowance of individuals to sit and be intellectual. Since not everyone wants to be studious and intellectual, and many if not most enjoy the social scale of money, the new system of government which lacks money would have to be very incentivizing to capture this concrete, materialistic demographic.
To quote him directly: "It is because nations tend toward stupidity and baseness that mankind moves so slowly; it is because individuals have the capacity for better things that it moves at all." I can't agree more with him, and think that maybe it's not the economic structure he detests, but the citizens compulsions that cause that compulsion toward economics to manifest. People create government, not the other way around, so it's possible that he's
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