Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Civil Rights versus Human Freedom

Suppose there was a group of Jews in a concentration camp during the holocaust that became angry and upset because there was another group of Jews in the same camp who were given slightly better access to bread and water.  How would you go about convincing them that their anger was misplaced?

Further suppose that some of the Jews who were experiencing the (very relative) bread-water deprivation, perhaps along with some sympathizers from the group with better access, pooled what little energy and political resources they had to petition the guards for more equitable bread distribution.  If you were a guard, what would you do?

If you were a guard who had to deal directly with the prisoners on a day-to-day basis, you might acquiesce to the prisoners’ demands, and take the steps necessary to ensure more equitable circumstances in order to keep the death machine running smoothly.

Conversely, if you were a particularly savvy guard concerned with keeping the prisoners from actually confronting the reality of their situation, if you wanted to keep them from actively revolting against their loss of freedom and dignity, if you wanted to keep them from directing their energy and intelligence toward the true source of their troubles, you might actually encourage the presence of differential privilege and make use of the ensuing perceptions of inequality as a potent means of distraction.

Modern civilization is a corporate death camp.  Civil rights issues are red herrings.  While we struggle for gay rights, women’s equality, minority access, etc., the gas chambers become increasingly efficient.

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