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Thursday, 24 March 2005

Victim politics and the right wing

Imomus has a really good post, "Relativism swings right". He argues that the right wing has adopted the victim/identity politics of the 60's and 70's.

Two of the core ideas of pomo relativism have become tools in the hands of the new right:

  1. The idea that being a victim allows you to act as unreasonably as you like, and
  2. The idea that having a culture (in other words, being situated) means never having to say you're sorry.

Of course, looking at how Bill O'Reilly talks about 'persecuted' Christians, this makes perfect sense. And it's somewhat unsettling. I've long been a beleiver in the idea that a persecuted minority owes nothing in particular to the majority who is discriminating against them. Lesbian separatists have a right to refuse to engage straight people and men and have their own space and not be bothered. Christian white men do not have the same right because they run the damn country. Yet Rush Limbuagh and others have been telling them for years that they're victims: Because of all sorts of "quotas" and whatever, black lesbians now get all the breaks. That's why they head up such a high percentage of Fortune 500 companies and control the economy and the political realm. (Or maybe they fact that they don't despite having an overwhelming advantage just shows how unfit for the job that they are. I'd go with this theory upon further reflection.)

So white Christian men no longer owe anything in particular to any other segment of society. The separatism that I've embraced is actually what lead to the death of empathy, which I mourn greatly. Communities formed around a large shared identity are problematic because oppressed groups get told to shut up for the good of the whole. Identity communities which disavow participation in a larger shared identity can be tremendously empowering to an oppressed group to allow them to find their own voices, engage in self-determination, and find their own truths. However, as one can clearly now see, the fabric of society gets holes in it when groups keep dropping out. That's ok, except when the majority starts using these tactics against oppressed groups. But try telling them that they're not victims. who decides that? If everybody gets to determine their own truth, than how can we go to a big group and say "everybody except for you." That would foster their misguided sense of victimhood.

this also explains why our country is so divided. Because who is invested in it's wholeness anymore? (except for mainstream democrats who express this by caving to the right, those bastards.) However, the left has already figured out how to solve this problem (cuz we create ideas, damnit, and not just dumb them down and appropriate them). The answer, I believe, may be the affinity group model that's been used so successfully in organizing. Affinity groups maintain their individual identities, but affirm their participation in a larger whole. What's empowering about this model is the need for building bridges and finding commonalities. It's more more powerful than the universal fabric of the 50's, which was a sham anyway. Nobody is asked to shut-up. All are asked to participate. And by incorporating the needs and concerns of smaller groups, the solutions found are more universally useful and helpful. so the answer, again, is finding commonalities. Is canvassing. Because we all care about health care, etc. Being on the side of human rights makes it easier to attract people.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Right, it's ingenius how they twisted it so that the Dems, the party of the people, of unions, of civil rights for all, into the evil elite who will ruin all that you hold dear? What...? I mean I remember CA being a red state but it was different, we weren't as divided back then.

Rush found a need and exploited like Hitler and those before him. But like any cheap shoddy affair this won't last. I mean Bush is the perfect front guy for this lie,, the "good ol boy" from east coast oil money who went to Yale....

-Carol