prejudice plus power

It’s certainly true that low power groups are less able to enforce any prejudices which they may have than are high power groups. But as a justification for prejudice as it arises within liberation movements, this is beside the point: the entire purpose of liberation is to shift power from the regime to the insurrection. If the insurrection is itself prejudiced, there will be no point to doing so- when the insurrection is successfully installed as a new regime it will have both prejudice and power. If it is prejudiced, there is no point in fighting. It will change nothing.

But the principle is frequently misused to suggest that because a person lacks power, they cannot be prejudiced, and whatever insurrection they advocate is therefore worth fighting for. Disempowered people deserve power simply because they are disempowered, but any ideology which attempts to grant power to the underclass merely by creating a new underclass violates the rights of others and does not deserve to succeed. Only an ideology which attempts the harder task of granting power to the existing underclass without creating a new underclass is worth supporting.

History is fairly cyclical. Ruling regimes frequently ignore the needs of individuals in order to maintain their own power. This creates insurrections. But because regimes rule by power, insurrections attempt to overthrow them by amassing more power. Seeing that it may help them to gain power, most ignore the needs of individuals in their own operation, believing that it is justified in the name of the greater good. We may call these insurrections insurgencies. When they come to power, insurgencies realize that they will be overthrown unless they continue to act and justify their actions in the way that they always have. The last things to be learned are that this was the origin of the prior regime, and that the next insurrection will overthrow them for the same reason. When you see an insurgency, let them lose. They’re not worth dying over. If you want to lead an insurrection, fight fire with water. Refuse to allow dehumanization and prejudice in your own ranks. Do nothing to the members of the high-power group on the basis of their group membership that you would not advocate doing to members of the low-power group on the basis of their group membership.

So there are not two warring sides, as is commonly assumed: the disempowered (who act solely through their vanguard the insurgency), and the powerful (who act through the regime). There are three warring sides: the regime, which is dehumanizing and attempts to maintain its power, the insurgency, which is dehumanizing and attempts to assume power, and humanization, which attempts to assume power while excluding the other two forces. Liberation is always a three way fight, and any of these three forces may prevail.

Humanization consists of treating others as individuals rather than as representations of a class and affirming the identities of others irrespective of their demographics. There are two possible responses to the accurate observation that the voices of a particular group are ignored. You can tell people who are not members of that group that their voices are not important and they need to shut up, or you can demand that people who are not members of that group hear out people who are members of it in addition to speaking themselves. Indeed, showing your willingness to hear them is a vital starting point for making this demand. There is absolutely nothing about hearing the voices of others which demands that the person doing it must be silent themself. Any movement telling others to shut up is either an insurgency or a regime, and in either case needs to be destroyed. There is absolutely nothing about seeing the members of low power groups as individuals which necessitates that you must see the members of high power groups as representations of a class. Any movement treating members of a particular group not as individuals but as representations of a class is either an insurgency or a regime, and in either case needs to be destroyed. There is absolutely nothing about combating the insecurity of members of the low power group which requires creating insecurity in members of the high power group, absolutely nothing about affirming the identities of members of the low power group which requires debasing the identities of members of the high power group, and absolutely nothing about preventing members of the high power group from becoming controlling, manipulative, exploitative, or deceptive towards members of the low power group which requires making members of the low power group controlling, manipulative, exploitative, or deceptive towards members of the high power group. Any movement which is abusing anyone for any goddamn reason needs to die.

Insurgents will have you believe that insurgency is not a threat, and that the nature of power makes all insurrection benevolent. The regime will have you believe that insurgency is the only threat, and that social change is unnecessary as power is already balanced in the world. Believe neither.

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