Tag Archives: Audre Lorde

Dear Tom Midlane

Lolcat: Im in ur knapsak enjoyin ur privilijYou appeared annoyed this afternoon on Twitter when I did not greet your advice with the respect you felt it deserved.

I’m sorry. It’s difficult to remain (relatively) polite and to the point when we have only 140 characters to explain why I do not agree with you, nor do I respect you.

“The left”, however variously defined, is broadly speaking a movement for social justice and equality and against privilege. If you are accustomed to playing the game of life at the lowest difficulty setting there is, yet still consider yourself to be on the left, you are probably used by this time to having people who play the game of life at higher difficulty settings advising you to check your privilege. Indeed, that’s possibly what inspired you to write this article to which I am responding at terrible length and very late.

The left, it’s fair to say, has a long tradition of infighting. Groups with only a hair’s breadth difference in ideology splinter off into rival factions, aggressively defending their interpretation of the One True Path. It’s the perfect example of what Freud called “the narcissism of small differences”: communities with adjoining territories and seemingly identical goals who engage in constant feuding, striking outlandish poses to differentiate themselves from one another.

It’s important to reflect that the movement for social justice has, over the past two hundred and twenty years, accomplished paradigm shifts in the ways we think and act. We take for granted that there is something wrong with slavery, with war crimes, with rape: we assume that women have a right to our own property, that employees have a right to safe working conditions, sick leave, days off: that children have a right to shelter and food and care even if their parents can’t provide for them: that people too old or too sick or too disabled to work should be cared for still. True, I can think of examples in every country in the world in which those rights are violated, but it’s not so long ago in the history of humanity that none of these things could be taken for granted by anyone.
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