Peel does not critique explicitly the implicit violence within capitalism, as these authors do with respect to racism and economic exploitation, nor does he do a good job of placing the economic context of suburban Australian poverty with a global or colonialist perspective as he could have by emphasizing less the positive aspects of multiculturalism and more the negative aspects of cultural stigmatism within capitalism. At the same time, his discussion is based more on an urban environment rather than, like Wood, on the peasant community (Wood 2003). It is also far more limited in historical scope than McNallys comprehensive viewpoint which traces capitalism through centuries (McNally 2002). Peel gives some indication of a critique of capitalism in his discussion of worker displacement and the shutdown of blue-collar factories which an urban example of what Woods is talking about. Furthermore, Peel does do some justice to the gender dimension by talking about the different effects that poverty has on male and females. Yet he does not go far enough in showing how exploitative capitalism really is. This occurs only by placing Peels final thrust on social justice and migrant communities in a broader analytical framework. Surely he would agree that capitalism has the tendency to exploit by being geared overly toward individualistic advantages and supported by a political structure ruled with its aims of efficiency, accountability, and surveillance. Therefore, Peels lesser stress on these issues still falls within the same line of argument as Wood and McNally, who would claim that capitalism is by nature not benevolent for the exploited classes.
Yet one wishes that he had said more.
In sum, Peel clearly stands in the liberal tradition that asserts that social and economic inequality is a structural problem. Political and economic forces design a structure that is by nature unjust when it does not make arrangements for the common good and the benefit of the community as a whole. His example of certain Australian suburban communities shows that modern liberal politics has not done a good job to restructure these systems. It is still enslaved to capitalist values and theories such as Hayeks by which the market is free from moral judgment and its action is presumed to be spontaneously good for the most. Peel does not think so. His narrative data shows the detrimental effects of less than caring policies which only silence rather than listen to those who suffer injustice. Respect, dignity, capacities, and opportunities, in his view, can arise for these people only when true remedies occur through the transformation of structures toward true security, self-determination, and the abandonment of the logic of inevitable inequality.
Callinicos, a 2000, Equality, Polity, London.
Fraser, N 1995, “From redistribution to recognition? dilemmas of justice in a post-socialist age,” New Left Review, vol. 1, no. 212, pp. 68-93.
Hayek, FA 1976, Legislation and liberty, vol. 2, the mirage of social justice, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
McNally, D 2002, Another world is possible, Arbeiter.
Peel, M 2003, the Lowest Rung: Voices of Australian.