Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

In-Depth Literary Analysis & Considerations #2: Walden's "Civil Disobedience" Pt.1

Walden, in his excellent and posthumously-influential essay On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, once observed: "Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it." It strikes me there's a problem with this, even if probably not a serious one. Most of us would have a hard time describing the kind of government that would command our respect, because to do so would not be honest. Most of us have very little use for government.

The generally milling masses of the governed could probably (if they thought about it, if they were honest) declare that the government that commands respect from others is what they'd be interested in having. They'd be willing to take their share of commands, for the sake of everyone else having to. To fall in line themselves would be fine, in fact they probably have no great or particular yearning to ever get out of line. As long as the government promises to keep others in line too, that's more than a fair trade: the freedom to give up doing what irritates you anyway, in exchange for preventing others from doing it! The indifferentiated masses of the governed aren't particularly interested in creating or becoming a nuisance. If they have a use for government at all, they chiefly want government to prevent others from making nuisances of themselves. Ideally, with government itself making the least necessary nuisance of itself in the process.

The proud few anti-authoritarians, meanwhile, might declare, "No government which commands respect is worthy of it!" Or, "The only government that would command my respect is the government that refused to command at all." This seems dumb even if you don't think about it.

The guy's name's not Walden, of course. I knew that, but I just liked the opening better that way; calling him Walden. I bet Walden would approve. He was kind of a quietly mischievous scamp.

Also, there's something about government as "the least necessary nuisance" that tickles me. I had to leave that in.

Also, and this is probably too obvious to mention, but "indifferentiated" is a portmanteau word of "indifferent" and "undifferentiated," with the meanings of both combined in it. A related concept: I'd love someday to be in a position to make an impromptu pun in Natalie Portman's presence, in reference to her toes, and using the word "portmanteau." She's bad-ass. Got a husband, though. I guess whether it'd be appropriate comes down to whether she digs puns, and thinks her toesies are cute. Some people don't! I've discovered some people have this weird aversion to their own feet. Weird.

Fuck, I forgot where I was going with this. Let me slap a "Part 1" in the title, in case I can later recall. That's my sweet procedure in a nutshell!

Monday, March 06, 2017

Tough Topics #40: "Your Privilege Is Showing."

Oh, yes, it is.

And oh yes, by the way. My privilege is showing.

I've said it before, in here and elsewhere, out in the wide world without apology, and without (anywhere I've said it!) so much as the slightest bulge or budge of real gainsay offered: Privilege is always and everywhere, itself, a good thing.


Privilege is WHUUT?


I'm proud of my privilege. It is my inheritance as a human being. My privilege is what we the people (#yesallpeople) are capable of affording every human being on earth. Justly. The privilege we are talking about here is principally human dignity, given largely without question and taken largely without even being aware of it as a gift. Take my case: my identity is accepted everywhere. Nowhere am I assumed to be incompetent, weak, criminal or inferior due to my demographic classification. Seems so rudimentary, doesn't it? Can you imagine living your live-long life under conditions where none of that is true? Where wherever you go, people can and all too often do question your right to be there, your right to be you, your right to exist?

If you can imagine that, chances are you've lived it. Chances are, you've been missing out on some privilege, there (Not all privilege! #notallprivilege. I mean, you're accessing the internet right now, are you not? Rejoice. Your privilege is showing.). But chances are, if you can imagine a life like that, chances are you've been missing out on some privilege. Some privilege that others, maybe, have been taking for granted. My guess is, you were well aware of that. Sorry to belabor the point!

If you can't imagine that, though, chances are it's because you've got privilege. Try to imagine not having that, try to imagine getting used to any moment of your life, somebody taking the opportunity to shame and belittle you for who or what you are? And take a moment to ask yourself, "Damn, self - isn't it great that I DON'T experience that? Isn't this privilege GOOD?"

Yes, it is. Everywhere it is enjoyed, it is good. It would be a damn sight better if it were enjoyed everywhere, by all, is all.

It is BECAUSE privilege is always and everywhere itself a good thing, that it is an evil thing where privilege is unjustly denied. White privilege is good.

What whites as a class can take for granted is only what everyone else SHOULD HAVE. Male privilege is good.

What males as a class can take for granted is only what everyone else SHOULD HAVE.

If our fight is for good, our fight ought to be for all. Only then can we say our fight is for justice. Our need and our cause is solidarity. Our outcome, which is attainable, is for no one to be denied the great and good privilege that others are born into and enjoy, unearned - and typically, without even thinking about it, or even being aware of it. Our weapon?

Consciousness. Education, ideally. Which is the same as to say: didactics, pedagoguery, propaganda, and other marketing techniques as needed. Propaganda is as bad or as good as its truth content. Propaganda just means snazzy posters, catchy slogans, and well-conceived appeals to what is deepest in us. If you think these things can't serve truth, you're a fucking weirdo. Our weapon is to make truth known on every medium, small or large. Our weapon is to proclaim at all opportunities the self-evident truth which we have been given to know. Which we are privileged to know. Our weapon is to make public service announcement. To be able to perform such public service is itself, a privilege.

Our mantra? UNITE. Topple and leap the dividing lines, cunningly-drawn to keep us on the smallest side they can box us into. Unite in solidarity with every other side, every other group that has been similarly (or differently!) boxed in. Pit yourself not against the enemy they propose, but against the one who is preaching that enmity. That is the oppressor! THAT is the enemy. It is the inhuman Us, seducing your allegiance by stirring up the enmity of every conceivable Them, each against you - because each against each. The inhuman Us, who tells you to identify with it, identify with the Strong, and to fear the huddling, struggling, discontented masses and classes of the weak. The oppressed. Weak, only because disunited. Weak, only because pitted against each other in an enmity partly inherited, partly engineered. Our mantra, our call? UNITE.

The oppressed, taken together, are the mightiest demographic on earth.

Our shame, our stigma? Face it, friend. If you're on board with this kind of program, you already have and enjoy education privilege at a level most people haven't had access to - or worse, haven't wanted to. Drop the umbrage act, can the divisiveness, quit making the ignorant the enemy. Quit playing into the hands of the dividing and conquering oppressor, and let's help school these poor, benighted, underprivileged fools! If you're one of those who know better - your privilege is showing, and only you can help spread the word of the truth in the fight to unite. Sound the call to all, with the great good privilege you and I already enjoy - and which EVERYONE SHOULD.

And probably, would. I mean, don't you? Who wouldn't enjoy a thing like that.

Yes. Your privilege is showing. Your privilege is showing you how things could and should be - for everybody. It's because they aren't that way for everybody, it's because some are unjustly denied what you were born into and take for granted, that you need to consider what you have a privilege.

Your privilege is a good thing. You didn't ask for it, didn't earn it. Others no more or less deserving than you are denied what you were born into. That's why it's called "privilege." What should you do? What can you do about the fact that you have privilege?

REJOICE, of course. Privilege is a GOOD THING. It is your inheritance as a human. It is where all of us are heading, as a humanity. The only sorrow is that we're not yet there, to where all can enjoy something so rudimentary as having our basic human dignity accepted uncategorically. "Uncategorically," meaning not called into question based on a demographic category.

Hey. Did I mention that privilege is a good thing? The only one thing wrong with privilege is that it isn't yet widespread enough. Acknowledge yours. Rejoice that you have it. Claim it. Declare it good.

And if you have any sense of gratitude for being born, for getting to exist at all; if you have any concern for the fact that others are denied great good things that you enjoy, things you were given on on the way in as a door prize for being born, how about taking a practical approach? Shake what your mama gave you. USE your good thing, for the good of all. Grow what you got, flex what you got, leverage what you got, and spread that good thing that you got around. Work it like you earned it. Work to extend the recognition of the privilege you enjoy as something that others should not be unjustly denied! Unjustly, just because they fit some other human category than the one you lucked into, with its associated privileges. Your good won't be diminished one bit, by your efforts to spread these privileges around. It will only widen the pie, and increase the good - yours, and everyone else's.

Privilege is the good thing that you lucked into, where others are kept deliberately out. But human dignity is not a zero sum game. The harder we work to ensure others aren't denied, the greater each human dignified can make good. Increasing that potential redounds overwhelmingly, to the good of all.