Monday, May 25, 2015

Race to the Bottom

From the link:

On matters of race, campaigners are instituting a racial hierarchy of intellectual worth. It is based on the idea that only those with 'experience' can properly assess a political issue pertaining to it.

There is obviously a grain of truth of truth in that – all the most powerful falsehoods are based on a grain of truth. But what happens when we embed that fact into how we conduct political discourse? We are saying that the race of the person speaking is more important than the content of their words. We base our assessment of their intellectual and moral validity on their race. This is, quite plainly, 'negative thoughts towards another individual on the basis of their race'. It may be racism with a positive purpose. It may be a drop in the racist ocean compared to the horrors and abuses ethnic minorities go through every day. But that does not change what it is.

The colour of one's skin has been given primacy over the content of one's character.

Most depressingly of all, it is a rejection of the power of moral imagination. It turns its back on empathy as a political force. It does not perceive us as people fighting for the rights of others as well as ourselves. In fact, it is a highly capitalistic and right-wing vision of humanity, as self-interested units only capable of improving their own lot.

I see no reason to be optimistic that the left will ever turn away from the easy incentives of jockeying for status and position within inverted oppression hierarchies, or making vague, impotent gestures in the direction of salvific revolution. At the same time, I'm not a believer in Fukuyama's "End of History" thesis, either. If politics itself has become ossified, then it's likely that culture or technology will eventually provide the dynamic force to shake things up again. (Trying to be more specific than that, though, is a mug's game.) But whatever form change takes, and whichever direction it comes from, I imagine it will take us all by surprise at first, only to appear obvious and inevitable in hindsight.