Tagged: identity politics
May 1, 2017 at 9:26 am #336
Jacob, what do you think of Jonathan Haidt’s idea that the anti-free-speech safe space micro-aggression left is a result of victimhood culture, and that due to a child-rearing change (from “free range” kids to caged and supervised kids starting around 1980) the previous prevailing dignity culture (“sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me”) changed to the victimhood culture and led to the illiberal left?
Haidt says that this illiberal left has seven sacred victim groups: Blacks, women, GLBTs, as their main sacred objects, but also Latinos, Amerindians, the disabled, and now a new one: Muslims. His analysis seems right on to me. I was wondering what you thought. (Reminds me of what a comedian said, maybe Carlin: That this is the first generation ever where the parents don’t complain about their children being too wild, but too wimpy.)
May 2, 2017 at 2:29 am #337
I’ve been meaning to write a whole blog post about this, or at least a long forum response, since you’ve asked me about it before.
But, basically, I have a few friends who are LGBT, (*) and my impression is that the likelihood that they’ll lead rough lives is higher than for other people. When someone lives, day by day, with the risk of being disowned by or ostracized from their “friends,” family, and support network, with the risk of being discriminated against, and, in some cases, of being physically attacked, it seems to me that they are living the sort of lives that would require them to be heroically strong to survive, not the sort that would leave them coddled and weak.
Perhaps I overestimate how rough people in those different groups have it. I don’t have statistics on hate crime at hand to back up the intuitions I’ve developed from anecdotal evidence. But that’s part of why I find it hard to swallow the idea that members of these “marginalized” groups are just super wimpy.
On free speech, I certainly don’t want it to be legally suppressed. Government suppression of free speech is, to me, one of the main dividing lines between a society with an extremely harmful but barely bearable government, sort of like our own, and a full totalitarian regime. When one can no longer criticize a government, one must either submit or violently revolt, with violent revolt likely being suicidal, making the choice a rather dark one.
If people want to ostracize others because of what those others say, though, then I don’t think of that as “suppression” of speech. For example, if I remember right, you once posted on facebook that someone you knew or were related to had decided to boycott Bikes, Blues, and Barbeque because the people organizing the festival had decided to let participants display the confederate flag. If I understood your post right, if the organizers had, e.g., asked people selling stuff during the event not to display the flag, or required them not to in order to participate as merchandisers, their doing so would not have violated the NAP. Your objection was that you thought people should be allowed to express themselves by displaying the flag, and boycotting the event because the organizers allowed such expression was intolerant.
I see non-aggressive ostracism, as in that example, as a benefit of freedom of speech, rather than a suppression of it. Doing things like displaying the confederate or LGBT flags, or using slurs like “tranny” or “nigger,” are signalling methods. A black person may be able to tell from the fact that someone wears a mini confederate flag on their jacket that interacting with that person could lead them to harm. If a transgender person is walking down the sidewalk and hears someone shouting “tranny,” “queer,” or referring to them as “it,” they know that the risk of being hurt in some way, physical or otherwise, is higher if they interact with those people than if they interact with people who go out of their way to be respectful. These are heuristics, of course, but they can be useful ones, especially for people who are at a higher risk than others of being violently attacked by strangers.
Thus, when people in these groups take offense at words used or symbols displayed by others, I see it as a defensive measure on their part. They’re just recognizing a signal that certain people are likely toxic to them. I want to get rid of their need to use such defensive measures, by changing the mainstream culture so that they’re no longer oppressed or marginalized. If and when that happens, I think the “victimhood culture” that bothers you will likely go away of its own accord.
All that said, Haidt may be partially correct about the school system. It’s true that kids are more caged than in previous generations, and I think the school system in particular deeply harms students in a variety of ways. It’s also true that having a hair-trigger for what one finds offensive can lead to problems, though I think this kind of risk may come with using heuristics for anything, to some extent. I also agree with a lot of common criticisms of identity politics, e.g. that it lends itself to belief in something like “original sin.”
And, of course, getting the government to enforce “anti-discrimination laws” straightforwardly crosses the line to aggression, something I can’t condone, and something I really wish “marginalized” people would refrain from. The fact that they cross that line does make it difficult to persuade libertarians to sympathize with them, though with so few libertarians in existence this may not make much of a difference to them.
I just think it makes more sense to eliminate the need for identity politics before trying to eliminate identity politics itself. I think people in these groups are using imperfect tools to defend themselves, tools which, in some ways, arguably harm them and others, but I want to eliminate their need to defend themselves before asking them to put down their weapons.
May 4, 2017 at 9:33 am #341
Jacob> “But that’s part of why I find it hard to swallow the idea that members of these “marginalized” groups are just super wimpy.”
I think you misunderstood the point. It is not LGBTs that Haidt says is wimply; it is Social Justice Warriors who buy into the victimhood culture. By Haidt’s thesis, if a gay guy “grins and bears it” by his own efforts and self-esteem, that is great. Such a gay would probaby be strong and self-assured. If a gay guy calls for the university PC Arbitration Committee to protect him and punish the speech of others, then he is a wimp.
Jacob> “If I understood your post right, if the organizers had, e.g., asked people selling stuff during the event not to display the flag, or required them not to in order to participate as merchandisers, their doing so would not have violated the NAP.”
Right. It was not a NAP issue at all. I said that requiring people to refrain from displaying a Confederate flag would be every bit as intolerant as requiring people to abstain from displaying a LGBT Rainbow flag. Since it was a private street fair, neither would be a violation of the NAP, but both would be grossly intolerant.
Jacob> “I see non-aggressive ostracism, as in that example, as a benefit of freedom of speech, rather than a suppression of it.”
I agree 100%. Private shunning and ostracism as such is non-aggressive and peaceful.
Jacob> “Doing things like displaying the confederate or LGBT flags, or using slurs like “tranny” or “nigger,” are signalling methods.”
Agreed; they are non-aggressive actions with a signaling aspect.
Jacob> “A black person may be able to tell from the fact that someone wears a mini confederate flag on their jacket that interacting with that person could lead them to harm.”
He may think there is danger. He may be wrong, of course, since many/most people who use that symbol use it to mean freedom, not racism. At any rate, simply wearing a pin is not aggression. As you note, it is a heuristic.
I use “tranny” because it is a good short phrase, and also because I don’t know whether the people who identify as such are transexual or transvestite. The term “tranny” works for both! If someone gets uptight about simple English, that’s not my problem. Anyway, as you agree, it is not aggression. I suspect that it is not trannies who object, but SJWs. Just like it is generally not Indians who object to “the Washington Redskins” – most don’t give a shit – it is SJWs. And most Blacks probably don’t give a fuck about the Confederate flag; again that is mainly those silly SJWs claiming to speak on their behalf.
Jacob> “I want to get rid of their need to use such defensive measures, by changing the mainstream culture so that they’re no longer oppressed or marginalized.”
We all want that result. The question is whether victimhood culture makes the oppressed weaker (as Haidt says.) His thesis is that the dignity culture attitude would be better than the victimhood call-for-an-authority attitude, the latter being self-defeating since it strengthens white males and weakens people in the victim classes.
Jacob> “I just think it makes more sense to eliminate the need for identity politics before trying to eliminate identity politics itself.”
To me, that is utopian and puts the cart before the horse. Under statism, there will *always* be identity politics. If the special interest is not race or color related, it is about religion, or industry profit, or something else. Your statement seems, to me, as analogous to saying: I think we need to eliminate the motivation to use government for gain, before we can eliminate the State. My reply is the same: That will never happen, people being imperfect. I think we need to destroy the institution of State so that self-interested people *cannot* use it as a means for aggression.
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