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  1. #1
    shane is offline Senior Member
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    Default What does this mean?

    Hi all, my fiancee just asked me about this passage in her book, and I can't understand it!!

    "The fact is that the work which improves the condition of mankind, the work which extends knowledge and increases power and enhances literature and elevates thought, is not done to secure a living. It is not the work of slaves driven to their tasks either by the task, by the taskmaster, or by animal necessity. It is the work of men who somehow find a form of work that brings a security for its own sake and a state of society where want is abolished.

    Work of this sort could be enormously increased, and we are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished. The poor transformed into purchasers will do a great deal on their own to alter housing decay. Negroes who have a double disability will have a greater effect on discrimination when they have the additional weapon of cash to use in their struggle."

    Can anyone help??!!! :?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    I'd say the first paragraph implies that the breakthoughs don't come from drones- creativity does not come from trying to pay the rent. I suppose it's the Dr Johnson idea- no one told him to do it and it wasd a labour of love.

    The last sentence makes little sense at all to me- it sounds rather naive and idealistic.

    After that it just tails off into nonesensical land to me. I think it means that if no one is poor then education and housing will be solved. I've no idea how the writer wishes to do that without educating people. I suppose that if you gave away enough cash to end poverty other problems might fade. The thing about blacks seems to suggest support for them because they are disadvantaged by society's racism as well as poverty and that if someone gives them wodges of cash, they will be more effective at fighting injustice.

    What on earth is she reading? It sounds like a Socialist Worker editorial from the Planet Flimsy-Thinking. How on earth do you abolish poverty? Pass a law or just go round and nick it off David Beckham.

    The only real advice I can give her is to suggest reading a different book.

  3. #3
    shane is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks for the reply Tdol. I managed to find some information on this text; it was written by a man named Henry George in 1879, and was cited in one of Martin Luther King's books later on. It's apparently based on something called 'Maslow's pyramid of needs'.

    Interestingly, the book this comes from is called 'Contemporary college English' - how is 1879 contemporary??!!

    The worst part of this is the fact that my fiancee's teacher said they must understand this article fully, 'in order to fully understand English at its highest level'. This, despite the fact that even he himself doesn't know what it means (he couldn't explain it to the class).

    Hasn't he ever heard of the plain English campaign? ;)

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Understand it fully? 1879 Contemporary? Is the teacher a bit strange?

  5. #5
    shane is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    Understand it fully? 1879 Contemporary? Is the teacher a bit strange?
    Maybe, but the system is a lot stranger. :wink:

  6. #6
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Thanks, TDOL. I was waiting for you to come along and explain that. I thought I understood it (at least in part), but I knew I didn't understand it well enough to explain it to anybody. Good job!

    :D

  7. #7
    shane is offline Senior Member
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    I knew it!! We were all waiting for Tdol! :wink:

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    A clear sign of desperation.

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