Peter J. Jessen

"Goals Per Action" Success Consultant · · 9931 SW 61st Ave., Portland, OR 97219 · Tel: 503.977.3240 · Fax: 503.977.3239

ApPlication of Peter Berger

Key Principles of Peter L. Berger: Vis a Vis Sociology of and the Sociology of Knowledge as they Relate to Social Roles, Social Stratification, Social Inequality, and Justice, Peter J. Jessen, Reader, 1993

Propositions from Berger’s "Capitalist Revolution"

EXCERPTS FROM:   Solution Paper #44, posted May 21, 2011, Guidelines for Including Justice in Planning Meetings to Calculate a Better Future for Minneapolis in terms of education, jobs, housing and public safetyby engaging in a “ contestation” between competing public policy idea sets.

from Conclusion, pp. 315-317

Not Losing Sight of the Prize of Equality’s Freedom

Without economic participation and equal access and equal opportunity for prosperity, the past will continue to be repeated.  Whites may be willing to pay that price.  I am not.  This is evidence from studies around the world, from Peter L. Berger, The Capitalist Revolution:  Fifty Propositions About Prosperity, Equality, & Liberty (Basic Books, NY, NY, 1986, pp. 211-215:

Proposition #1:  Industrial capitalism has generated the greatest productive power in human history

Proposition #5:  Advanced industrial capitalism has generated, and continues to generate, the highest material standard of living for large masses of people in human history.

Proposition #12:  In all advanced industrial societies education has become the single most important vehicle of upward mobility.

Proposition #16:  Capitalism is a necessary but not sufficient condition of democracy.

Proposition #22:  At least in Western societies, if not elsewhere as well, capitalism is the necessary but not sufficient condition of the continuing reality of individual autonomy.

Proposition #28:  Capitalist development in Third World societies leading to rapid and labor-intensive economic growth is more likely to equalize income distribution than strategies of deliberate policies of income distribution.

Proposition #30:  East Asia confirms the superior capacity of industrial capitalism in raising the material standard of living of large masses of people.

Proposition #40:        The movements toward democracy and individuation in East Asia have been greatly strengthened by the adherence of these societies to an international capitalist system centered in the West.

Proposition #48:        There can be no effective market economy without private ownership of the means of production.

The following seven commonly held values (pp. 218-221) are held by more people around the world than any others (regardless of what their political leaders may like or say or put forth in the contest over ideas and values that often keep their people from benefiting from these values).  These seven values are far better fostered and far more greatly delivered by democratic capitalism than by socialism or “third way” approaches, and relate directly, in my mind, to the inner-city of Minneapolis:  

  • The material well-being of people, especially of the poor
  • Equality (equity, equalities, reducing inequalities)
  • Political liberties and democracy (freedom)
  • Protection of human rights (civil, political, economic, cultural, religious), i.e., “protection of individuals and groups against the most common acts of tyranny (massive terror, arbitrary executions, torture, mass deportations, the forced separation of families,” as well as “protection against economic misfortune” (the purpose of welfare)
  • Individual autonomy
  • Preservation of tradition 
  • Community

I list the above for those still waffling between the left and right extremes and their agendas.  We cannot understand the importance of education, housing, and jobs, without first keeping clear, that the empirical evidence shows that more people have been brought out of poverty by capitalism, and that “democratic regimes have the best record on the protection of human rights in all the categories employed by human rights theorists.”  

I list these for two simple reasons:  first, less than 8% of small businesses in America are Black, and yet most jobs are created in small businesses.  Secondly, minorities will not succeed in business unless they have the education to do so.  

This has been The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes.  What will be The Minneapolis story over the next decade?  What dreams will be envisioned?  How will visions be sustained?

We have come a long way from the day when we had to ride in the back of the bus.  We have come a long way since the time we weren’t even allowed on the bus.  Now we have come to the time where it is important that we also drive the bus.  

We have just finished the 20th century, a century of many dreams, ranging from capitalism to socialism, from far Right to far Left, from Hitler and Franco and Mussolini to Lenin and Stalin and Mao.  Their dreams, as we have seen, were very costly.  Their visions were death traps.  From the perspective of these men, it is wonderful for us that the 20th century is over.  But what will we envision for the 21st?  What will we dream for the next decade?  How might what I have written about the Minneapolis story help with future visions, future dreams?

This legacy question is not as easy as it sounds.  We all want to be remembered for our positive things, not our negative.  A guiding light of mine is that you only pass this way once.  And probably one of the greatest disservices that we can do to our legacies, to our souls, is to have passed this way and done nothing.  And so, I’d like to be thought of as having done a number of things that helped others and maybe in some small way led to positive change.  That basically is it.  But what I seek is more than the final story of Ron Edwards.  The real legacy that I want to keep alive is the legacy of the struggle to keep the eye on the equality’s prize of freedom.  It is my hope, my intent, that this will be the legacy which all of us can lift up for the young Black men of our city.