Sunday, January 24, 2016

Two Types of Egalitarianism

A while back I was discussing a satirical political party that a friend had founded some years ago for online political roleplaying games. His stated purpose for this political party was to "defend the right of the people to be lied to by their government" (it's here I should note that I am American and my friend is British). I wrote this party into a story I wrote and later proposed a logo.

This logo was intended to be the most offensive logo in history. It had a swastika, a hammer and sickle, a star of David, an Islamic star and crescent, a Christian cross, an Illuminati eye, a Confederate flag, an LGBT flag, a flag of the Islamic State, and a flag that was intended to look like that of the Ku Klux Klan (but was in reality the flag of a Filipino independence movement), with the ultimate intention of demonstrating the irrationality of bigotry.

My friend was horrified at such a logo, saying that such topics were not laughing matters and should not be joked about. This conflicted with my opinion that anything can be made fun of in amusing manners (although there are specific times and places for such things). I came to a certain conclusion; both my worldview and his worldview strive for egalitarianism, but take distinct views of human culture and diversity.

Either everything is sacred, or nothing is.

His belief is predicated upon that all humanity is inherently equal (a view I share), and that no culture should be degraded as such. This is a certainly rosy view of the world, and an admirable one. My friend does so earnestly believe in the equality of human beings, and that all should be valued. To this point of view, making light of prejudice, bigotry, and their nastier realizations such as slavery and genocide is demeaning and minimizing of their impact. The root assumption of all this is that human beings inherently, objectively have value.

I dispute that last assumption. Human civilization is a brew of socially constructed mores and structures that work together well enough to form a cohesive whole. The underlying truth behind this, though, is that it's all arbitrary in the end. No race, sexuality, gender, religion, et cetera has any inherent superiority over one another, only superiority in the context of a socially constructed society. When this is taken into account, all bigotry becomes illogical and ridiculous; why claim any particular demographic group is superior to another when said demography is ultimately meaningless? The problem comes in when societies organize themselves such that certain demographics have advantages over others, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of bigotry and intolerance, advantage and disadvantage, that solidifies this irrational distinction.

Hence is the core of my belief and why I feel it to be egalitarian; under it, all human distinction is the same worthless arbitrariness. Hence why I feel there are times when making fun of the worst this species has to offer is warranted and amusing; they all come from a fundamentally ridiculous view of the world that denies that very real arbitrariness. We're all, at the core, the same, so why not mock the denial of that truth?

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