I just saw the following on Facebook. Take a moment to think about it.
Does it seem reasonable? Think again. You see, to me, equality is not about who is standing on which box. It is about tearing down the god damned fence.
The name of the political party of which I am a sympathizer is the Socialist Equality Party, and the word “equality” was not pulled out of a hat. It is a hallowed term, reminding us always of our goal. In this context equality means something fairly straightforward: an end to social privilege. This refers to economic privilege above all, and then the reflections of economics in politics, law, and culture. The United States provides a good example of the historical movement: a deeply unequal country that was founded on the principle of equality. The continual resolution and re-assertion of this contradiction has led to (roughly in order): propertied male suffrage, white male suffrage, the ending of slavery, male suffrage, human suffrage, and the end of Jim Crow segregation.
There is a great deal more to do, and in my opinion (you, of course, are welcome to disagree), we’ve reached a place in the exhaustion of capitalism such that there is no way forward without the mass, combined strength of the working class fighting under a socialist program. And it is at this point that these sections of the pseudo-left come out, in so many words, against equality.
What does it mean? What do they mean by “justice?” Look at the picture. They do not mean the ending of privilege, they mean the shifting of privilege. To use John Scalzi’s famous and excellent analogy, they want to alter the difficulty settings on the game, not replace the game with an entirely new one. They are saying, in other words, “I want a taller box to stand on,” not, “tear down the fence.” And the theoreticians behind this movement—already privileged sections of the upper middle class—want a taller box for themselves alone. They believe the fence will always be there. And in many cases they want it there; it keeps the rabble out.
Behind those three figures are masses of people struggling to survive. The figures on the fence aren’t even thinking about those who are behind them, but they matter. They are the millions, and they are the ones who create everything—including those boxes the figures are standing on. Think about that for a minute.
The task of the day—hell, of the hour—is equality: a direct attack on any and all social privilege, and I am happy to talk to anyone who agrees with that, even if we disagree about the best way to go about it. I have nothing but contempt for those who wish to elevate themselves at the expense of the poor, the oppressed, the exploited. And that is exactly the agenda of those who reject the fight for equality.