28 May 2017

When ‘Justice’ Becomes Oppression: Why Every Liberal Should Hate the Oppression Olympics

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Every Liberal Should Hate the Oppression Olympics

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In theory, nobody says they support the idea of playing Oppression Olympics. I mean, ever since the term came into use, it has almost always had negative connotations. Who in their right mind would want to play a game where people are ranked in order of privilege, where to win you need to prove that you are disprivileged? What’s the point of this game, anyway?

However, in the past few years, not only has the Oppression Olympics not died out, it has become one of the most popular sports in leftist circles. It is now often said that you have to ‘win’ the Oppression Olympics for your opinion to count. So why have we come to this ridiculousness? Because there are no serious attempts by liberals to challenge it. This is due to two main reasons. Firstly, the super political correct culture of the 2010s Left, built upon things like trigger warnings and microaggression theory, doesn’t allow a thorough examination of the Oppression Olympics. You can’t effectively argue why the Oppression Olympics are bad, without putting yourself at risk of offending the rules of this new PC. Secondly, many liberals are simply unaware of how much damage the Oppression Olympics have already done, and how much more it can do. Of course, this lack of awareness is related to the difficulty in challenging the Oppression Olympics in the first place.

But make no mistake. The Oppression Olympics are a dangerous sport.

The Oppression Olympics divide people into dozens of categories, resulting from the intersection of divisions by gender, ethnicity, and sexuality, thus fracturing society along multiple fault lines. This prevents people from coming together to fight for the common goal of liberty. The Oppression Olympics also ignore the two biggest sources of privilege: the wealth one is born into, and the intellectual capacity one is born with. From my own lived experience, if you have enough of these two things, it more than compensates for all the disprivilege criteria used in the Oppression Olympics. Liberalism has long recognised financial disadvantage as one of the biggest barriers to liberty and equal opportunity. The liberal welfare state rests on this fact, and on the shared value that all humans are equally entitled to liberty. If these two consensus are broken, I fear that our liberal welfare state is at stake.

The Oppression Olympics are also dangerous because they delegitimize the lived experience and voices of people who are actually being oppressed. As long as you are white, straight, cisgendered and male (or at least three out of the four), you are counted as privileged. But that’s clearly a lie! Somebody who is financially struggling would understandably be angry at a system that calls them privileged, tells them to check their privilege, and tells them they should be prioritized last as a result. That’s why rich white guys are mostly OK with people playing the Oppression Olympics, but working class white men often have a very different view. The Left then calling them ‘angry white men’ (which actually amounts to bullying) makes things even worse, of course. Knowing all this, we shouldn’t have been surprised by Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. Furthermore, straight white men are NOT the only people to be delegitimized. The Oppression Olympics also teach women and minorities that they should adopt a victim mentality. Sometimes, they are even forced to agree with their ‘victim’ status or be seen as traitors to the Left. But many women, LGBT and ethnic people are full of positivity, and a victim mentality is the last thing they want.

The Oppression Olympics are also dangerous for another reason: it is one of the tools Cultural Marxists employ to divide society. Cultural Marxists (used in a totally serious way here), who often refer to themselves as simply Marxists but who are clearly not, attempt to apply Karl Marx’s theory of class struggle and oppression to cultural phenomenon. Hence where Marx advocated that workers struggle against capitalists, Cultural Marxism advocates that women struggle against men, minority races struggle against whites, queers struggle against straights, and so on. The Oppression Olympics provide fertile ground for Cultural Marxists to create intense struggles everywhere, so that they can push us closer to revolution. A revolution that will enshrine an artificial social order and take away our liberties forever, I might add. Certainly not a result a real liberal would consider acceptable.

So how can we put an end to the Oppression Olympics?

Firstly, we must challenge the politically correct culture. Some people on the Left may not like to hear it, but we dedicated liberals must say it: microaggression theory is not very helpful. People are either deliberately racist, or they are not. You can’t dismiss people who have something to say in good faith as ‘microaggressive’, whatever that means. Microaggression theory prevents the critical appraisal of certain ideas, by branding anyone who disagrees a bigot. It’s also not like there isn’t enough real racism out there to tackle either. Once microaggression theory is out of the way, we can start to argue against the Oppression Olympics for real.

Secondly, we need to promote a common culture of liberty. Identity politics is only positive when it contributes to liberty for all; it becomes no different to xenophobic alt-right movements when it only cares about in-group interests. True liberty requires a lack of tribal thinking. It also requires absolute freedom of speech and conscience, and the right to financial security for all. Once the Oppression Olympics is history, we become much closer to realising this vision.

p.s. now that terrorism is a major existential threat, the campaign to increase the perception of racism everywhere needs to be stopped. If the perception of racism is an important driver of radicalisation, causing people to see racism where there is none would potentially lead to more radicalisation. Moreover, promoting divisive theories in a time where we need to be united against an existential threat like terrorism is really inappropriate and irresponsible. We probably need to let go of things like microaggression theory and cultural appropriation theory, if just for the sake of our collective safety.