So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

09 June, 2007

Spinach Politics

I was a-gonna write something else. I have this half-formulated discourse on ethnicity and religion thrashing around in my head after some discussion over at Bucking the Dominant Paradigm, but it's not letting me write it right now.

Instead, I've got something else that has been stewing around for a bit, which is finally demanding to be written partially in response to this nonsense.

This thing I've been trying to formulate goes something like this:

The first standard I use for evaluating the quality of an activist ideology is whether or not it actually hurts the people it claims to be helping.

The way I figure it, the worst an activism should be doing is not improve the situation of those in its target group. If it's only actually helping people in a certain situation, or with certain additional traits, or with a certain ideology, it could probably do with better labelling, but is not lying when it claims to be supporting people-of-that-trait.

I'm willing to cut slack for activisms that, while I consider them to be doing some harm to people they claim to want to be helping, are at least aware that there are perceptual differences that will cause people to oppose them on that basis legitimately. At least these people can be said to be operating in good faith, and may, in fact, be responsive to sensible critique about their methods being genuinely damaging -- and people can also decide whether or not the harm done is worth the benefits gained.

The "The only people worse off under our ideology are those who do not adopt the ideology" crowd, however, gets no slack from me. Even the least abusive of these, the "If you only agreed with me you'd understand why I'm right" crowd, are trying to get out of even basic critique of their position, which is an intellectual dishonesty that I have no patience for. When it gets into the "Whatever suffering my ideology inflicts upon you is a consequence of your shameful Incorrect Behaviour" lot ... I do not really have language to express my opinion of that sort of evil. The ones who are willing to treat innocents as acceptable collateral damage in their targetting of the Ideologically Incorrect -- who will, say, deprive the people taking refuge in a women's shelter of support staff because that staffer is a sex worker -- are among the vilest of the vile, not merely hostile to those who do not agree with them, but willing to betray the needs of the people they actually claim to be supporting in order to support that conflict.

If the activism is not capable of even imagining working for the good of those who do not share its ideology, it is not only incapable of producing positive results in the real world in which diversity is the rule, it is an ideologically oppressive system that will inevitably be opposed by those who are outside its scope. (And will almost certainly take that opposition as a perverse proof of rightness, as the immune system responds to it.)

I say it's spinach, and I say the hell with it.

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