Privilege (and accepting it exists)

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by billvon, May 27, 2021.

  1. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

    I was just giving one example of privilege that I am aware of.
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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    But replacing one paternalistic orientation with another just reshuffles the deck for social hierarchies. It doesn't eliminate them.

    Which is to say, rival orientations likewise proclaiming to "guide the ignorant multitudes to a better world" must be restricted or forbidden or else the old structures will competitively return. Thus, the inner Party members (or whatever the leaders and victors of _X_ "rehabilitation" movement institute themselves administratively as) -- and their implementing regulatory instruments spread abroad -- still incrementally become the new privileged. The new managing Philosopher Kings/Queens.

    And the existing social hierarchies of a state are usually more complex than caricaturized. The crusading intellectual's focus on hegemony (where there is a single economic class, ethnic group, etc dominating everything) is chosen because it's a simple conspiracy or propaganda outlook that the masses can easily assimilate. A straightforward good/evil conception suitable for our grunt-primate mentality, for cognitively applying to societal circumstances, for assessing them.

    The whole point of my post was that there is nothing new about "We're such nice people with only everybody's best interests in mind. Please just hand us the keys, and we'll institute utopia. Please stop being cynical about us. Just hand us the keys."

    There is nothing new about the tactical exploitation of altruism/compassion and egalitarianism (especially the radical kind). It's an opportunistic tradition that spills beyond just political ideology. Christianity was doing it for ages with missionary work and promises of the meek/poor ascending to high status in an afterlife.

    No surprise that secular intellectuals of the 19th-century finally recognized a good game and lifted it for their own academic schemes. Even after the failed ventures and experiments of the last century and the decline of religion, it still distributes in various revamped incarnations ("Oh, we've fixed it this time. This time it will work.") to the political sphere. Received at the grassroots level by naive, younger generations and older folk whose memory has gone the way of amnesia about the past (or who were never good at abstracting generalizations from history, anyway -- reoccurring themes and templates).
    Seattle likes this.
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Agreed. Much better to replace a paternalistic orientation with one that does not orient any single group preferentially, don't you think?
    Also agreed. Our social construct has accreted centuries of complexity. Often, one class hides behind that complexity and uses it as an excuse to retain their power. Time we ended that IMO.
    Nope. I don't buy the "it's all hopeless; same shit different day" approach. We actually have made progress. 300 years ago people in the US were owned as property. 200 years ago racism wasn't a pejorative; it was the official policy of the US government. A little over 100 years ago women could not vote. 70 years ago blacks could not legally marry whites. 20 years ago gay people could not marry each other. There's a direction things are heading, and that direction is greater freedom and more personal rights. Good for us.
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Let's see if I can do the short form: So, I don't really know if someone I know actually thinks of himself as a revolutionary, but part of what he wants in the world would be a sort of fundamentally revolutionary change. Still, y'know, I mean, whatever, right? But it's the short form, so the hook, here, is the part when he considers the difference 'twixt breaking a cycle and simply usurping it, and toward that latter, he notes, such is the way of revolutions. In the sense that what he wants would actually constitute a revolutionary change compared to the present, a question does arise whether his revolution would break inequality or simply seize the instruments of its infliction for his own.

    Okay, admittedly, the short form makes it sound more dramatic than it is; if it's pub chatter, for instance, it's not without influence, but running that rabbit to earth isn't necessarily a pubtime endeavor.

    Once upon a time, a song° observed, "baring your soul is the in thing to do, it's fun and it's easy for the emptyheaded fool". Even beyond the emptyheaded, though, it's really easy, and can even be gratifying, to get caught up in politics of usurpation. In fact, it's perfectly human, even among the intelligent.

    Somewhere around here, I have a copy of DeMott's, The Imperial Middle (Yale Univ. Press, 1992), and suddenly I can't get a question of "omni syndrome" out of my head. I'll have to find the book and figure out why, but it has something to do with a question of revolutions among the privileged, and, given a particular perversity of that notion in its moment, what object or idol of commonness the privileged are drawn to in order to justify pseudo-revolutionary posturing. Anything short of anarchy proper institutes some sort of new boss, and, "Meet the new boss, at least as vicious as the old boss!" isn't proper revolution.

    Oh, right, Adams. It's actually a written part of the American heritage: The idea of a proverbial new boss that humbly reallocates its power in fulfillment of egalitarian social contract is actually not something we do. Short form: If we recall the famous appeal to remember the ladies, it's a matter of record that the response was hostile, and reminded that American power would never sacrifice or diminish itself in such ways.

    Anyway, notes on reshuffling. I need to stop before I get to the Oscar Wilde bit.


    ° Chemistry Set, "April Fools", 1988.

  8. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    "Still, y'know, I mean, whatever, right?"
  9. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Given that a privilege - by definition - is something one must deserve or earn or qualify for in some way, and by immediate deduction something one can be deprived of legitimately, I don't want the civil rights and liberties necessary for the establishment of a free society and decent civilization routinely described as privileges. It's dangerous.

    For example, the fact that operating a motor vehicle on the US public roads is a privilege, legally, has many consequences and ramifications I do not want to see attached to speaking one's mind, getting together with one's friends, living in a dwelling of one's own choice, dealing with authorities and officials, or traveling from place to place in general.

    In particular: Being treated decently and respectfully by police officers - living under no threat of cruel or unusual punishment arbitrarily imposed - is not something a person should recognize or be aware of as a "privilege". It's a right. It remains a right even if denied to others by force, abrogated by illegitimate abuse of power, etc - and that bad circumstance afflicting those others is what should be recognized and addressed, not the good circumstance of such a right being enjoyed by some.

    The sane response to the emergence or discovery of such violations of civil rights for some is the establishment or re-establishment of appropriate curbs on the violator's behavior, the establishment or restoration of the civil rights of those currently being illegitimately abused,

    not the abandonment of the civil rights and liberties of those now and legitimately enjoying them, an abandonment made easier and more likely by a general acceptance of the grounds that they are privileges and must be earned or deserved by these people.

    If justice under the law can be reduced to a privilege for all by being denied to some, sooner or later it will be. Tyranny misses no tricks, in the long run. We should not take that risk, imho. We should instead use the enjoyment of civil rights and liberties by some as leverage to extend them to others.
  10. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    True. We should also probably take a least one day a week to lighten up.
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Liars, bullies, and abusers first.
  12. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Haha...I suppose it is possible for the humor gene to be absent in an individual.
  13. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    How many readers of that scrolled back to make sure it really did appear in a thread addressing the recognition of privilege? We are so close to a genuinely funny exchange; If only Poe's Law did not apply - - - .

    Nature vs nurture questions, especially political ones, are famous for being almost inevitably ill-posed - which introduces irony blindness, which prevents post 29 from being the hilarious demonstration it should be, which is interesting in being the only intersubjectively verifiable physical evidence relevant,

    but which appears during development, especially political maturation.

    Disappointingly, we rein in the first impulse (to play along). It simply can't be done with these guys.

    So: Especially in liars, abusers, and bullies - who are often easy to identify by their characteristic tactic of demanding other people view them as "just joking", of sincerely demanding other people view their latest offensive bs as insincere and its assumptions as nonexistent, of even the meanings of their words being subject to and modified by their present claims of past intentions.

    Whether they are capable of doing otherwise is unknown to those outside the Tribal cave, but fortunately irrelevant - like a rabid salamander, outside the Tribal cave it's a toothless and theoretical issue.

    I suppose it is possible to run into a would-be bully and abusive wingnut who doesn't direct "can't you take a joke" or "where's your sense of humor" or "lighten up" at people they are trying to continue to attack, but it would be a rare find - much as finding a decent and honest person who does would be a once in a decade event. It's one of the more reliable field marks of the American shithead - you hear those words, you know what you're dealing with.

    Sure it's a joke, this American bubble-pack - but it's a bit dark for hearty laughter; true enjoyment of such black humor awaits the Republican plague having run its course, the dead cremated and mourned, the history of the American experiment become (as predicted and developing) suppressed events of Chinese history books.
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2021
  14. billvon Valued Senior Member

    While I agree, the right solution is to get those privileges for ALL people - thus removing the distinction of it being a privilege.
  15. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    There's a difference between a privilege that not everyone has, and a right that some happen to be deprived of. While both are things available, for one reason or another, to not the whole population, in simplistic terms a privilege starts from the point of not being available... unless you satisfy some condition..., whereas a right starts from the point of being available to all... unless (for whatever reason) it is taken away.
    What iceaura deliberately did was separate the two: operating a motor vechile is a privilege, whereas being able to speak one's mind, and the like, are rights.
    Unfortunately you are conflating the two. As such, the right solution is not to get "those privileges" for all people... because they are not privileges at all, but rights. And as rights they are (or should be) available to all as the the default position. The default position for a privilege is that you don't have it.
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I agree. Unfortunately that is not reality.
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    It is a reality of formal, legal definition.

    Mind: the experience of what defining something as a "privilege" can mean to those unable to keep lawyers on retainer is a familiar one - for example: various betrayals and inconveniences surrounding the fact that driving a car on the public roads is a privilege are part of the common experience of working class white people.

    In my State, the authoritarian wing of the Democratic Party has within the adult life of many

    1) attempted to take away the driving licenses of those who miss child support payments (or commit domestic abuse, and a few other crimes unrelated to safe driving).

    2) sequentially broken several promises made to gain political support for various operational restrictions and regulations (that seat belt use would not be required, that the shoulder belt modification would not be required, that such regulation would not be enforced with severe punishments, that it would not be a primary or "pull-over" offense, that it would not be "passive".)

    That was followed by poorly drafted legislation requiring air bags, that forbade even those endangered by those devices (the very short, children, the buyers of older cars, the poor unable to afford maintenance, musicians and others with trades requiring fully functional hands, those without good medical insurance, emergency and junkyard workers, etc) from disconnecting them or even switching them off temporarily,
    and perhaps most irritating of all, the casual abandonment of arguments used to justify the seat belt requirements via claims of public safety enhancement (that they allowed the driver to maintain control in emergencies, for example - having an air bag blow up in one's face clearly eliminates any realistic possibility of protecting the public by controlling one's vehicle).

    If the Republican vote mystifies, consider that all drivers in my State are reminded of this recent history every time they get in their cars. And it's not the only example.

    Attempting to define ordinary civil liberties and rights as "privileges" is a threat.
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

    And yet - not everyone has them, as we have seen a dozen times over the past few years. Shall we create a new word that is politically correct enough to not ruffle any feathers? If so, go for it. Let us know how it goes.
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    The accurate and ordinary term, in continual use for generations now both in law and in daily life, is "civil rights".
    That's bad. It's necessarily bad. It's necessarily bad because they are rights.

    If they were privileges - as the forces of bigotry and the interests of power attempted to establish and defend, being overcome only after long and hard political struggle - it would not be necessarily bad. That would make the struggle predictably harder and longer.

    It's a lot more difficult to gain privileges by struggling against powerful forces. For example: If you reread your list of advances, above, you can see that victory in the Courts was centrally and critically important in every case - and their being legal rights, rather than privileges, made those victories much easier - which made them possible.

    Those with ruffled feathers can always calm themselves with a little historical light reading - relabeling rights as privileges shows up as part of the general strategy of rendering political terms (or even language itself) meaningless, a strategy universally adopted by those attempting to gain power by force. They are threatened by reason, and destroying language is an effective way of crippling that threat.
  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I have no problem with you using that term as a replacement for privilege. Go for it.
  21. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Again: confusing and damaging both words - the opposite of my recommendation and preference. If you read my posts you will encounter many repetitions of my objections to such muddling of language.

    As repeated many times here and elsewhere, I object to the destruction of meaning in political language. I think it's serious. It's currently an organized and deliberate Republican Party tactic, an aspect of classic fascist propaganda, and it's doing harm. (One cannot, for example, violate someone's privilege).

    Use "privilege" for privileges, "right" for rights - why not? That way you have two clear concepts named and available for communicating with others, instead of yet another solitary synonym for "done" or "not done" (T.H. White, "The Once And Future King").
  22. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    In my opinion, privilege doesn’t mean that people who have it, haven’t worked hard to achieve their position in life. It simply means that those with privilege, their paths were/are wider with more opportunities, simply due to their race and gender. Imagine having to prove you’re worth interviewing or whatever beyond your awesome resume, because a potential employer is prejudice and/or sexist. It happens, still.

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