Monday, 28 November 2016

What’s all this about “privilege”?



One of the most recent anti-concepts to emerge from postmodern academia is that of “privilege.”  You can “check your privilege” here against a list of possible experiences– to find that if you are a wealthy, able-bodied, first-world, cis-gendered, heterosexual, non-ginga, native-born white male you are certainly privileged, and probably a rapist.

The list of 100 experiences includes those that are good or bad, irritating or infuriating, But philosopher Stephen Hicks observes that

that the list packages all of the experiences under the “privilege” label.

This is important because, he suggests, “the concept of privilege is being broadened and leveraged for ideological reasons, and one should be aware of the re-packaging.” In other words, something is being smuggled in here within the package-deal of so-called “privilege.”

Observe, says Hicks, that

A genuine privilege is a benefit granted by authoritative others. Its features are that it is:
    (a) not earned,
    (b) not given out equally, and
    (c) social-hierarchical in origin.

This places privilege in direct contrast to something that is earned.

A privilege is something like your mother letting you stay up for your bedtime; or your club letting you bring in a guest at no charge. But look again at the 100 items in the list as an exercise suggests Hicks, and you will find “that it ranges across experiences of travel, insults, financial stresses, crimes, biology, cultural attitudes, and more.  And note how the few of the items [actually] meet the criteria of a privilege.” This is not accidental:

The list conflates at least four distinct phenomena: natural advantages, earned advantages, civil treatment, and privileges. Their distinctness is not that difficult to grasp conceptually. And thoughtful people have good discussions about their boundaries and significance regularly. So why the package-deal? One suspects that the real purposes of “privilege” lists are to induce feelings of guilt or shame in anyone who has a good life and to justify resentment and anger in anyone who feels “unprivileged.”

So this postmodern parading of “privilege” is, says Hicks, a bundled anti-concept.

Note that every anti-concept is generally intended to obliterate a genuine concept. That was often why the anti-concept was witch-doctored up in the first place. (The anti-concept of “ethnicity” for example is frequently “a disguise for the word ‘racism’”; or a “right to privacy” that has risen in importance as rights in property have diminished). In this case, the concept of earned rewards are obliterated by the anti-concept of all rewards – earned, unearned and stolen alike – being a sign of privilege.

It’s no accident the anti-concept has emerged at a time of “you-didn’t-build-that.” It comes from the very same place.

[Pic from FunnyJunk]

1 comment:

  1. I'm white and I am reverse discriminated against by our Mana / Maori / Hone soon / Nanny RMA co-governance and anti democratic Government .


1. Comments are welcome and encouraged.
2. Comments are moderated. Gibberish, spam & off-topic grandstanding will be removed. Tu quoque will be moderated. Links to bogus news sites (and worse) will be deleted.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say it, it's important enough to put a name to it.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.