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Against privilege

22 May 2009 by Mike Gogulski
Posted in philosophy | 3 Comments »

Extracted from a Facebook conversation:

In the sociopolitical sphere, what I find myself drawn to the most is the idea that we ought to reject any sort of institutionalized privilege: king over subject, collective over individual, priest over congregation, man over woman, master over slave, capital over labor, state over citizen (or non-citizen!). Alongside that, of course, I have my own preferences that I advocate as well, but an opposition to privilege, at least, ought to be universal.

Power and privilege are two different things. Privilege is that which says “okay for me, banned for thee”.

I have no issue at all with consensual organization, employment, business per se. The “authority“, the power, which arises by virtue of reputation, of achievement, of value given to others, by appreciation from others is not the authority I oppose: it is the type of non-consensual authority which gives some people a presumption of greater social worth and an expectation of deference to them, usually codified in oppressive institutions, the most visible and omnipresent of which is the state.

  1. 3 Responses to “Against privilege”

  2. By Libby Snipp on 22 May 2009

    Whew~ Thanks for a refreshing post! Most people who share my political/ moral beliefs say they can’t understand why anyone would voluntarily work for someone else. I happily do so.

    There is power in collaboration among people with diverse perspectives, interests and skills, including management skills. Many organizations facilitate accomplishment of great things through teamwork. I find such collaborations invigorating and even addicting. Therefore, I choose to work for organizations rather than for myself. People tell me I’m a good manager, but I prefer to do other things.

    Employment agreements are agreements. Whenever I interview for a new position, I interview the company management at the same time they’re interviewing me, and I keep my eyes and ears open for alternatives even when I’m happy with my current situation.

    We all have jobs to do– if there’s too much privilege in the management and not enough skill or teamwork being shown, I look for another company. If the employment agreement is too restrictive, I negotiate different terms. It amazes me how many people just accept the standard employment agreements without question. Same could be said for marriage agreements.

    Perhaps state involvement has caused people to think of themselves as slaves. Perhaps this has caused some of us to forget we are free to make and dissolve agreements. Wouldn’t it be great if we could freely choose to allow people to make decisions for us (or not) rather than having others’ choices imposed on us by government?

    Cheers,
    Libby

  3. By MCLA on 22 May 2009

    Roderick Long had an interesting post on non-coercive hierarchies, and why they are also bad http://aaeblog.com/2009/04/26/why-we-fight-the-power/ Made me give up my agnosticism about work-place hierarchies. I’m sure you’d have read it, but just for records.

    Cheers!

  4. By Mike Gogulski on 22 May 2009

    @Libby: Thanks. There are a range of valid choices and structures, in my mind. Being against simply the corporate form as opposed to corporate privilege — an error I see too many fall into — is to me as silly as being against pentagons because the USDOD has its headquarters in a building shaped like one.

    @MCLA: I liked that article by Long a great deal, put it up on my “Shared Items”, too. I agree with the thesis put forward there also, while perhaps putting a greater emphasis myself on Roderick’s “hopefully unnecessary clarification”. There are any number of specific examples of workplace hierarchy I would challenge, but as above, it is not the shape of relations that concerns me, but rather the privilege and deference attached to particular individuals within them, regardless of their forms.


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