Thursday, March 24, 2016

You Should Ache Like I Ache

In case you don't feel like clicking through to see the other twenty-five tweets in the sequence, I can go ahead and spoil things for you. The moral of this feeble-minded fable is that privilege is like making use of a million dollars the bank mistakenly dropped in your account. I'm just interested in that word, "shouldn't". Honey, what sort of privileged sheltered existence have you been living to get the idea that life's default setting is one of fairness and equality? It's ironic, but really, when you think about it, these people are fundamentalist meritocrats. Everyone should apparently begin life as a blank slate, born into completely value-neutral, objective circumstances, so that whatever they "earn" will be solely and truly due to their own merit, whatever that would even mean in such a vague science-fiction scenario. Sounds uncomfortably like we're saying that people have a true "inner nature" independent of their families, histories, cultures and educations. Isn't that a problematic notion itself?

Anyway, analogies, by nature, aren't meant to be precisely equivalent, but even allowing for generous leeway, this one is particularly flimsy. If the bank accidentally credited a huge sum to your account, it would be a relatively straightforward matter for them to figure out where it should have gone. When it comes to the complexity of privilege, however, you can take a recent example as a reductio ad absurdum — reading to your children before bed is more of an indicator of their future success than sending them to private school. If even such an innocuous activity as that contains the seeds of privilege, what are we to do about it? Can we legislate that all parents must read to their kids before bed to make sure none of them are getting an "unfair" advantage? Of course not, but even if you could, it would quickly become evident that certain types of reading material produced marginal advantages, and then a-leveling we would have to go again. Then you'd have to eliminate any disparities traceable to differing story lengths, the gender of the parent doing the reading, and on and on and on. This hypothetical, of course, is just one tiny little variable among countless others, even within the limited context of functional families and how they prepare their children for adulthood. If you seriously wanted to try to analyze all the other variables that go into creating differences of intelligence, motivation, skills, and available resources between individuals or groups and subject them to oversight and regulation for the purposes of ensuring statistical parity... well, let's just let that absurd thought hang unfinished, shall we? The point is, it's impossible to achieve equality by turning morons into geniuses and lazy bastards into hard workers through social engineering, so in practice, we would end up settling for the next best thing — bringing those on top closer to the bottom.

It's common for critics of SJWs to grant them a little rhetorical respect by saying that their ideals are worthy, even if their tactics are counterproductive. What I hope to do, by taking the logic behind this rhetoric seriously, is indicate how misguided this is. It would be easy, and accurate, to dismiss this kind of stupidity offhand as just another serving of moldy Marxist leftovers doused in the sour sauce of resentment. But by making a serious effort to follow the logic, it becomes obvious that the state of affairs they desire, the results they demand, would require the most efficient totalitarian state possible to implement them. This kind of radical, fanatical, Procrustean "equality" has never existed and will never exist naturally. The minute that people are left free to choose their paths and arrange their activities without coercive oversight, inequalities — most of which are benign — will naturally result, which inevitably means that people will never be trusted to make their own choices. Idealism is one thing, but this is a scorched-earth war against reality they're waging.