Neo-Liberal Revolution

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Equality vs. Multiculturalism

"If you expect people to be like yourself," I was told, "you're going to be frequently disappointed."

When I was growing up the battle against racism had two distinct flavors.

The first said that we are all, essentially, the same. It didn't matter what color we were, what ethnicity, people were people and it wasn't really any more complicated than that. If we looked at someone and saw their features or skin color it was wrong. If we prejudged them because of their race, we were racist.

The other was nearly the opposite. It said that we are different, so different that it's impossible for a white person to ever understand what it is like to be black or to be a minority. Blacks were a separate and distinct group of human beings.

The first is essentially a call to individuals. People are not and should not be defined by their race. The second is a call to what is expressed as group politics and advocacy today. People are defined by whatever racial, cultural or gender group they belong to.

Now, quite frankly, there are few people who are *like* me. I'm probably more "unique" than most... or at least I get that accusation from time to time. But I believe absolutely that people are LIKE ME. Yes, our experiences are all different, but our hopes, desires and fears are a product of our shared humanity. Also our vices and petty complaints and infighting. The whole package. Our subjection to original sin is the ultimate common product of our birth.

No, there's no room here for the "noble savage". There is no room for excuses based in race or culture. There is no room to deny anyone intellectual or moral potential. Any child can be *anything*. Every man and woman is responsible for conforming OR NOT to the culture they were born into. The ability for transformation is as much a common product of our humanity as original sin.

Or are white Americans the only ones who can examine their own culture and see where it is wrong? Everyone *else* is defined by their birth?

And isn't *that* a piece of moral and cultural hubris.


  • At 5:20 AM, Blogger Lady Hawk said…

    Another great article! I would add political correctness wants people to obsess about their diversity to the point of racism which in the PC paradigm is more important than national unity.
    In my quest to learn from different BLOGS, I visited a BLOG called "Done with Mirrors" which lists many BLOGS under various categories
    So much to learn, I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony!

  • At 12:42 AM, Blogger Editor Theorist said…

    One aspect about equality of outcome is that it is an impossible aspiration and a damaging ideal to pursue - yet, at the same time, there is a kind of instinct for wanting this.

    This instinct for equal outcomes is a product of our evolution - you can see it in hunter gatherer societies where 'sharing', equally, is a major social ethic; and it can be traced back to other primates.

    I wrote about this at - but the essay is pretty heavy and technical

    So - my feeling is that on the one hand we should not aim for equality of outcome, but on the other hand there will probably always be a tendency to resent individuals of higher status, which can be translated into support for egalitarian political parties and pressure groups.

    The good news is that more education and modernization seems to be able, gradually, to overcome this spontaneous egalitarianism. Now those who want egalitarianism as the primary goal are a small minority (albeit disproportionately influential) - but they will probably never disappear altogether.

  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger Synova said…

    Thank you for commenting, editor theorist.

    I can see sharing equally being a social ethic of the hunter gatherer when things are on a survival basis. Allies are probably as important as food and shelter. Cooperation isn't just nice, it's necessary.

    And so would be conformaty as well as contribution. I can't imagine a hunter gatherer society to have any tolerance for a slacker, and most were small enough to know exactly who the slackers are.


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