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I understand it is possible to ask for critiques here and ask that you guide me to adapt this question if needed.

Now, I feel the need every now and then to get a thought down on paper. However, I am shy to diffuse the resulting text as the unrefined form may distract the reader from grasping the content.

What I'm trying to express in the following text is a kind of unconscious reflex observed in people where they cannot help display disdain. This is when confronted with the situation of another person - like a beggar on the street, for example - that does not fit in with their beliefs and views of the world. Also, that disdain in higher spheres can destroy a society, especially in a bad economic context and the scarcity that this brings, adding to that the intuition that a serious flaw lies in centralized control.

What I think needs improving here:

  • Perhaps wording or style.
  • Punctuation.
  • Readability.

P.S: I'm native to an English country but did part of my schooling years in a French-speaking country. Please take this into account if anything seems strange.

P.P.S: Would like to know what this kind of text could be categorized as. It's obviously not fiction.

To let inequality spread is to let contempt become acceptable. For, if we vilify this unthinking attitude through moral teachings, it can emerge as a defense mechanism to distance ourselves from the needy and suffering when basically the main differences lie with chance.

The greatest danger of all is to see this extend to circles of power. For, if the powerful distance themselves from the average citizen, they ultimately end up ignoring the needs of the many. That is why centralized authority can only degrade over time into the abuse of privileges and in such a way as to imperil the very same ideals that gave it birth.

James Poulson.

share|improve this question
Commenting on the idea, I don't think that a centralized authority is inherently bad. It's just that all available examples (historical/current) were/are. So my solution would be to romanticize it a bit - make it a real burden to be in power; those who have it have the word on everything except themselves. Else, I am non-native, am still in high-school, and have neither recognized mistakes in nor found difficulties while reading your text. I would call this a social essay but I'm not sure. – Mussri Mar 3 '13 at 14:23
James, thanks for working with us. Critiques need to ask specific questions; while you're halfway there, the questions you ask could be asked about nearly any piece of text. Do you have any specific concerns? For example, are there certain concepts you want to make certain are clear, or a certain tone you want to use? (Incidentally, although this is certainly long enough, feel free to five people more text than this if you prefer.) – Neil Fein Mar 3 '13 at 16:51

A typical essay uses a few of the many available patterns or modes of exposition. These include narration, description, process, definition, division and classification, comparison and contrast, example and illustration, cause and effect, analogy, and argument (according to a list in Seventy-Five Readings, Emily G. Barrosse, ed.). Your paragraphs are mostly argument, I think, with some cause and effect as well.

However, the arguments and cause and effect elements do not convince me. I see several sentence-to-sentence jumps in thought where intermediate steps need to be added before a convincing conclusion can follow. I suggest that you write a careful outline, and at each level of the outline explicitly state each argument and its assumptions. After the outline is complete, rewrite the essay, abstracting from the outline and adding examples where appropriate. A historical example or two could both strengthen the argument and increase its interest to readers.

Here are some examples for which I think consistency should be improved. Where you write “To let inequality spread is to let contempt become acceptable”, indicate that you are equating inequality with contempt, or anyhow whatever it is you mean with that sentence. Then spell out what unthinking attitude refers to. Also resolve the erroneous or at least difficult-to-believe statement that something vilified via moral teachings can become a defense mechanism. In the next paragraph, a sentence says that seeing is a great danger, when it should instead say that of the thing seen. “The powerful” are equated with “centralized authority”, a false equation. The claim that one thing “can only degrade over time” into another is asserted without support, when there is no reason given to assume it will degrade, nor to believe that if it degrades it will end as claimed.

Shifting gears to consider only the words and not the thoughts, I'd drop some of the extraneous words from “can only degrade over time into the abuse of privileges and in such a way as to imperil the very same ideals that gave it birth” and reword it as “can only degrade over time into abuse of privileges and thus imperil those ideals that gave it birth”. That is, drop an unnecessary and clumsy the, drop the verbose filler “in such a way as to”, and drop “the very same”.

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Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I can understand there are missing leaps of logic. What I am trying to get down in writing is along the lines of this article. forbes.com/sites/harrybinswanger/2013/09/17/… – James Poulson Sep 23 '13 at 12:57

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