“ ‘Pity for all’ – would be hardness and tyranny toward you, my dear neighbor!” — Nietzsche
I know it sometimes sounds rhetorically cool and melodramatic to fling wide dispersions of guilt and self-loathing at a coalition meeting, but the actual effect is often to drive away most of the sane, non-masochistic normal people.
Our target audience should always be the people who are not yet politically involved, but who have an organic attraction to our message of class warfare.
The problem is, when you actually get some of those people in a room, and the white dreadlocked activist veteran starts crooning about how bad he feels (by implication, how bad we should feel) over his “privilege” (imagine it in the most annoying voice possible), it often turns off a lot of the yet-politicized people.
Maybe they work for $10/hour or less and don’t feel very privileged. We’ve lost em. Maybe they’re paid much better than that, but still take their boss’ orders from 9-to-5 and have a Fight Club sort of resentment about it – we’ve just lost that crowd, too.
Finally, maybe they were just born white or male, or don’t see what’s wrong with buying consumer objects at normal grocery stores, or not being homeless, or living in the first world. They walk away unlikely to return to a meeting where they will be obligated to perceives themselves as Part Of The Problem.
Look – there is a lot of oppression in the world besides class oppression. It needs to be addressed. It is tragic that much of the dialogue attempting to address that oppression openly or subtly blames and guilt-trips a lot of ordinary people who actually have nothing to do with the problem.
We can disagree on the precise structure of oppression and benefit – a huge topic. I tend to fall into the camp that says it’s the wealthy elite who benefits, not the “counterpart demographic” (white/PoC, gay/straight, male/female, Muslim/Christian, 1st world/3rd world). For example, the perception is that the super-profits gained by America-based multi-national corporations exploiting children in foreign sweatshops must somehow be trickling down to the US working majority. I think actually they just keep those super-profits to themselves.
But here’s the key: if you’re going to build a mass movement, one of the tremendous overwhelming Egyptian size that can really make changes, how are you going to motivate more people to get involved? By scolding them from the start they’re bad people and part of the oppressive structure? Or by showing them how they are oppressed too, how they could benefit from a great rearrangement of things?
If wealth was redistributed equally in the United States, everyone would have about $170,000 in the bank. Where does that place you?
Right, that’s what I thought: the bottom. You have nothing to be ashamed of and everything to be angry about.
Leftism also doesn’t require you to be a saint. It’s as though people think that whether their personalities are kind or unkind, sacrificing or selfish, is the critical question in ripping one system down and building another. If that was true, I think religion would have solved all the world’s problems by now, maybe Buddhism in the East and Christianity in the West, or whatever.
To even exist, to even live and breathe in the USA, a person must deal with a frustrating amount of bureaucrats and phone trees. We do this even after we’ve already done our daily slave shift. We may start out with good intentions, we may try to be nice to that voice on the other end of the phone, but ultimately, our patience wears thin. We stop being nice. It’s survival.
“Man’s inhumanity to man” is not the source of the system, it is the result of it. We live in a cannibalistic system and we’re not personally exempt from it. We’re all monsters, except I don’t feel guilty about it, I feel energized. You can let it horrify and paralyze you like Hamlet, or you can embrace our true nature as a source of strength for our movement. Goodie two-shoes, white-light leftists should look into the crowds in Britain happily chanting Margaret Thatcher’s death.