Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The System Will Eat Itself

J. Bryan Lowder:

Only a few years ago, “privilege” was a concept you’d more likely hear discussed on college campuses and other places where people think a lot about how to achieve social justice than in a national publication.

...Some may call it trolling, but the “Privilege Tournament” really only acknowledges that privilege has failed as a social justice strategy, at least outside of more nuanced environs like the academy.

...But denuded of situational context and reduced to a competition between arbitrary categories, the wider privilege discussion has become about points and team pride, winners and losers. In my case, +1 for gay (and maybe .5 for being a little femme), but -5 for white, male cisgendered, middle-class, able-bodied, and allergy-free. So a total of -3.5, tsk tsk. This kind of quantitative score-keeping was never the point. And worse, the turning of privilege into a game has led some to use it to disqualify those deemed to have “too much” from not only participating in the fight for justice, but from even cheering from the sidelines. The ethos of “be quiet, you have too much privilege” is wildly counterproductive, and definitely not the point of any critical exercise.

Ooo, sounds like somebody needs to check his elitist, higher education privilege. Ahem. I mean, yes, by all means, go tell all those social justice warriors to leave the thinky stuff to the educated professionals. I can only imagine the Jacksonian turn that would take: "It's not fair, it's not right," he screamed, and then they were upon him.

As always with intellectuals: the system didn't fail us, we failed the system. Alack and forsooth, who could have possibly anticipated that an idea like this, rather than serving as a means for gazing upon the bare face of truth, would have been used in service to the same base struggles for power or status that have always been the overriding sociopolitical preoccupation? The idea was perfect; it's just that you cretins fucked it all up when you got your grubby hands on it. Funny how often that turns out to be the case when the hothouse flowers of academia are transplanted into the soil of everyday life. Featurenotabug.