Tokyo Damage Report

levelling up, levelling down

I remember being in college and spending a lot of time doing/listening to debates about various -isms and inequality. (hint: we were against it).  What is weird is, the teachers didn't give us the  conceptual tools to discuss it productively. 


For instance: any time there's a case of social inequality (the haves always do The Thing, and the have-nots don't get to do The Thing), there's actually TWO ways to remedy the situation. One: make the haves STOP doing the thing, and two: allow the have-nots TO start all doing the thing.


Both approaches result in equality, but through two totally opposite paths.  And yet – as far as I can tell – for hundreds of years that people have been debating inequality,  NO ONE HAS NOTICED THIS. You get idealistic people who  will use every last bit of logic and passion and carefully-thought-out ideals (Jeffersonian republicanism! Pluralism!  Transparency!) and spend a fucking hour advocating that we should make the haves STOP doing The Thing. . . . all based on a snap judgement that took a tenth of a second. Why should we make the haves STOP doing the thing? Why not allow everyone to ALL do the thing?  You didn't even consider that for a whole second. . . .did you? Because, against all logic, BOTH FUCKING TOTALLY OPPOSITE approaches to justice are taught to you as THE EXACT SAME THING.

We're taught NOT to ask ourselves, "Which TYPE of equality should I advocate to remedy  such-and-such an injustice?"


So, OK! Let me help the problem. 


Let's call the "make the haves STOP doing the thing" approach LEVELING UP, and call the "let the have-nots ALL be able to do the thing" approach LEVELING DOWN.


Some instances are easy as shit: the overwhelming majority of domestic violence is done by men. You don't have to think too long to realize this is a LEVELING DOWN scenario: Men should STOP doing the thing.


Other instances are fairly easy:  most senators are white, so most people would say that people of color should LEVEL UP. Unless you're an anarchist and think that NOBODY should have state authority, in which case you'd be all for LEVELING DOWN.


Then, a favorite of mine:  farts. Men fart and burp, women don't.  Are crude noises a form of oppressive male domination? Or are they a fundamental right which women have historically been forbidden to do by restrictive gender roles? In other words , should we get equality by LEVELING UP OR BY LEVELING DOWN?!?

Without these two concepts, you can't even begin to have that discussion!


Or song lyrics: a lot of rappers talk about killing young black men.  Would the world be a better place if  britney and lady gaga mostly sang about murdering white women? After all, that is more equal. And much much better.


Or this other thing, which I'm also surprised that no one has remarked upon:  the american police / national security state's radical EQUALIZATION and ELIMINATION  of racism.  This is the single most equality-making development in government since King marched at Selma, and yet nobody even says thank you?!??  Consider this:  government now treats  upper-middle-class white people like Black Panthers: reading their mail, tapping their phone, strip-searches at airports without cause,  "civil forfiture" of possessions without even an arrest, and "indefinite detention" without trial.  Still waiting for a rapper to make fun of Occupy kids:  "How's it feel, whitey? Oh, NOWWWW it's unfair, right, since it's happening to you! Welcome to the club, white kid."  


Anyway,  does  treating whites as crappy as black people count as leveling up or leveling down? 


4 Comments so far

  1. Steve July 21st, 2012 7:04 am

    There were a ton of black Occupy people, nobody bothered to report on it/record it because, "Oh look, downtrodden black people!" isn't news. You even had newspapers mis-reporting about black people NOT being a part of the movement, like, "Why do blacks hate Occupy? Too white for them?!" That's when I lost all faith in the BBC, they ran back to back stories about white hippie chicks getting attacked by policemen, when just out of camerashot there were like 20 latinos.
    But yeah, not the point. They actually DID teach us that way of looking at equality in college. Every time it was like, 'OK so there's this feminist principle', and some douchebag would be like, 'UGHHH, what's next, I can't pee with the seat up while watching football and not cooking?!' And the professors were all, 'There are two ways to look at progress, you can even everyone out (group B loses 'rights'), or raise the status of one group (group A gains rights of group B).' And there was always the discourse on WHO needs to do what ( whitey needs to stop passing on 20 black applicants until they find a white guy VS 'well if some of these black kids could color coordinate their belt and shoes properly I might give them a chance….')

  2. Dave July 28th, 2012 11:54 am

    The guy who owns Gallery de Muerte told me you were funny but weird. Is that true?

  3. Eric in Hiroshima August 12th, 2012 7:38 pm

    Here's another example. This one even has Plato in it, so it sounds intellectual.
    Plato said that true love had to be between equals. Therefore, only a man could love another man. He found it unhealthy when a man fell in love with a woman, because that's aiming down. 
    For centuries, this was a big problem. True love can't be aimed downwards, but the church doesn't allow gay love. What to do?
    It took 2000 years for anybody to come up with the obvious solution: stop saying that women are inferior. If women are equal, then it's OK to love them. 
    But that didn't occur to anybody until about 1820.

  4. static August 29th, 2012 5:30 am

    i guess equality is a bitch! whatever the case, a global financial meltdown seems to be in the works. i'm looking forward to all the subversive anti-electronic acoustic degeneralizationist folk music that will be created in this vacuum of energy and commodities! the collapse of complex systems and societies seems to indicate a collapse of complex music – i think punk could come back to life! mad bongos and lots of banging on things. mohawks could be improvised with the melted fat of the bourgeoisie!

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