…and every otherer othered

Excerpted comments from OG Maribou in blockquotes – with my excerpted replies following:

If you can’t let folks who are traditionally othered decide, ask them what they think you should do and then do that insofar as you can.

And not just about “diversity” issues. Make it a regular practice to wield as little authority as you can get away with.

And if you find yourself making a lot of decisions anyway, best do some really hard soul-searching to be sure you are doing it because you, you particularly are needed – or expected by a strong group consensus that includes the folks whose voices are less often heard – to be deciding, and not for any less valid reason.

(I’m not saying never decide anything. I’m not even saying you shouldn’t run for office, or whatever other job that it is always going to be way easier for a white dude to get – but then try to act on the side of the marginalized and/or less powerful members of your community, and don’t trust your instincts if you find yourself wanting to do otherwise “just in this one special case”.)

Shouldn’t be difficult once you’ve developed the ability and the means to persuade people it’s not in their interest to pursue their interests.

1) people do that ALL the time; 2) it is very much in my interests to live in a more balanced, fair, society with more social cohesion, intellectual richness, and interesting culture; 3) it’s actually a lot easier and more interesting to make fewer decisions and spend more of my time supporting other people’s goals than it would be to rise to the top through “straightforward competitive excellence” (air quotes because I have all the eyebrow-raising for that term, not because you said anything about it). i have to wonder how many other people in positions of power, great or small, might feel that way if they tried it.

If you’re encouraging people not to make decisions, then how can you encourage them to make that decision not to make decisions, and to continue to make the decision, day after day, to abide by that other decision? I’m sure if we talk about this long enough, someone will come along to explain that the luxury to avoid making decisions is a pure product of privilege, or will be wherever the decision not to decide is available as a meaningful decision. What will make it a meaningful decision in those instances will tend to be – or may by definition be – the very fact that it will be a decision against self-interest, but maybe you know of some occupation or line of work where the refusal to make decisions or the inability to make decisions is rewarded with advancement. Now, I can construct scenarios of various types where the refusal to accept or seek advancement can be made to seem advantageous, or advantageous in some higher sense, but then I’m back to the privilege problem: All those people previously denied the right to make decisions now being burdened with this spiritually lower order of existence, as compared to my luxury to explore and enjoy a more rewarding mode of life, while congratulating myself for my efforts helping to build “a more balanced, fair, society with more social cohesion, intellectual richness, and interesting culture” (setting aside the possibility that some of these values may come into conflict with each other, or have been thought to do so).

I don’t know Mr. Vonder Haar at all, but he strikes me as an earnestly well-meaning individual now fielding criticism of the type that amounts to a kind of punishment for declaring himself on the side of those criticizing him – a familiar predicament, or kind of a template for the failure of of those on the side of “social justice” to gain the level of influence that in a socially just world they would both already have and not need.

If you want to talk about earnestly well-meaning individuals now fielding criticism, well, that’s exactly how I feel in response to your comments on my comments.

Obviously, the only correct thing for me to do is to cease to comment, or to comment only passively and approvingly.

Or you could just keep attacking until the person attacked doesn’t bother to comment next time and goes back to only making non-substantive comments about her weekend and the shows she’s been watching. That could work.


The self-abnegation of the othered otherer unto complete quiescence, or inner “self-deportation” unto death in life, appears to be the surest and perhaps most efficient form of affirmative action, and always implicitly the final definition of affirmative action, always an affirmation for others only, since affirmative action would not be a necessarily or meaningfully affirmative action, or wanted or required at all or action at all in something other than a competitive struggle… and so I return to my initial observation in response to Maribou’s “radical” suggestion – or, rather, do not.

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