Sign Up Here for the Self-Police

A good example of self-policing is, I think, the theory of “White Privilege”. This operates like the tailors’ scam in The Emperor’s New Clothes: we are told that only the enlightened can recognise endemic racism. If you don’t see your own racism (or oppression, if you are of colour), or if you question the logic and the definitions of the theory, that proves you ARE racist. You’ve been trained by a racist society to be blind to it.

Liberal, capitalist individualism has finally accepted that racists are the worst sort of scum[1]. Previous equality and diversity campaigns have made the accusation extremely insulting. (Rightly so. It is one of the many achievements of such campaigns[2].) “Racist” encapsulates all that is bad about Britain (Please adapt for your own country/culture): a monstrous hybrid of blood-soaked imperial werewolf, snarling, emasculated English-Nationalist skinhead-rat, and, complacent, narrow-minded little-Englander.

So, there is enormous pressure (among Lefty-Liberals like me) to accept White Privilege as true, even though, by definition, you cannot experience it. By doing so you can distance yourself from your inherited white racial guilt. 

But our acceptance is laced with secret doubt and suspicion that we dare not admit to in public. Because everyone only has a theoretical understanding of others’ experiences, everybody is locked into their own minds, every misfortune you don’t personally and directly experience is a privilege. Non-amputees have Non-Amputee Privilege; non-battered partners have Non-Battered Partner privilege; People with good eyesight have Eyesight Privilege; Non-anorexics have Healthy-Relationship-with-Food Privilege (You lucky, lucky bastards!) Coming from Ireland, I was astonished to discover that, in England, red-haired children sometimes get bullied for being “Gingers”! Non-Ginger Privilege! Who Knew?![3]

We are encouraged to support a theory that claims the absence of suffering and disadvantage is privilege. Everyone can be dismissed and silenced for simply having the normal experience. It becomes, ironically, a disadvantage in any debate on the issue. In light-filled, liberal forums, having a minority or oppressed status gives you authority and passion; it gives identity.

And so we get to play under-privilege Top Trumps again. Also known as The Intersectionality Game.


[1] Capitalism prefers all people equal, thus equally exploitable.

[2] By identifying the ways that our societies still manifest bias, without recognising the progress that’s been made, activists are being unfair on their fore-parents. But I guess all generations are ego-centric. Everyone thinks they are the first people to have thought their revolutionary thoughts. 

[3] Mind you, like internet trolls, playground bullies pick the person they want to bully first, and then target their victim’s vulnerabilities.

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