Thursday, May 22, 2014

A fast and dirty test to tell a serious thinking person from a Social Justice Warrior

I am sympathetic to desires to help out the less fortunate - I have them myself. Even if I disagree with most pleas for state channeling of wealth from the wealthiest to the least wealthy, I can understand - in principle - many of the urges and basic understandings on that front. That doesn't translate into automatic sympathy for someone's personal ideas of what the government should or shouldn't do - most people who yammer about 'helping the poor' strike me as people who haven't thought through their own suggestions, and don't really care to. They think the mere fact that they are expressing concern about the poor (or, worse, "Social Justice") automatically makes their views not just morally right, but good practical ideas on top of it all.

So how do I tell the people who are concerned about the poor and are simply looking for ways to help them, who accept that their ideas may be bad or in need of revision, from the people who are just mindlessly yammering off this or that SJW/Political Party talking point?

I've come up with a fast and dirty way to generally tell the two apart: I just ask what the duties of the poor are. If I give a starving man 200 dollars, is that 200 dollars now his to spend and if he wants to go buy 180 bucks worth of booze, cigarettes and porn and 20 dollars worth of food, well, such is life? Or does that man have a duty to spend that 200 dollars properly? Does he have a duty to work if work is available and he's capable? Does he have a duty to abstain from drugs, from risky sex with strangers who he damn well may get pregnant?

The politically thoughtless usually can't even comprehend this question - the very idea of the poor having duties, any at all (beyond, perhaps, voting for their favorite political party) is alien to them, or a terrible thing to even talk about. Duty and responsibility is supposed to belong entirely to other people - these are victims, and victims have no duties or responsibilities!

And when I hear as much, I know I can stop taking the conversation seriously and go read a book or play a game or do some work instead of treat the whole thing as a real conversation for a second longer.

20 comments:

Gyan said...

If a poor man has a duty to responsibly spend his property, the same duty applies to the rich man.

But certain conservatives will not accept any limitation on the rich, nor do they accept the intrusion of moral norms in the economic sphere. So, at least, they have no right to demand anything of the welfare-getting poor.

By the way, the same ruthless logic that denies the goodness of same-sex relations finds a certain baseness in commerce.

Crude said...

Gyan,

But certain conservatives

It's always the other guy, ain't it Gyan? Sinners all around your army of diehard political brethren. How ever do they manage to challenge your collective purity?

By the way, the same ruthless logic that denies the goodness of same-sex relations

Goodness of same-sex relations? So you regard same-sex sexual acts and gay marriage as moral goods, then?

Gyan said...

I have not affirmed anything about the goodness of same-sex relations (SSR)

I affirm the logic that denies the goodness of SSR but I note that the same logic denies the goodness of commerce as well.

Crude said...

Wonderful. I'm asking you whether same-sex sexual acts are - indeed, ever are - moral in your view, and if you regard same-sex marriage as moral.

Gyan said...

Havn't I plainly answered your question?

Crude said...

Nope. Hence my asking. You word things in roundabout rather than direct ways, and at times it feels like I'm dealing with someone who approaches conversations the way a lawyer approaches a contract they want to get out of.

So I figure, let's nip this in the bud and speak directly. Are same-sex sexual acts moral? Is same-sex marriage moral? You decided to make that topic part of this thread, so I'm treating it as fair game.

Gyan said...

Well, I never had problem with the official teaching.
And the point here is what do you think of my analogy. Is there a certain baseness in self-seeking commerce?

Codgitator (Cadgertator) said...

I'm reading Rerum Novarum, so the following seemed apt:

"Whoever has received from the divine bounty a large share of temporal blessings, whether they be external and material, or gifts of the mind, has received them for the purpose of using them for the perfecting of his own nature, and, at the same time, that he may employ them, as the steward of God's providence, for the benefit of others. ...

"As for those who possess not the gifts of fortune, they are taught by the Church that in God's sight poverty is no disgrace, and that there is nothing to be ashamed of in earning their bread by labor. ...

"God Himself seems to incline rather to those who suffer misfortune; for Jesus Christ calls the poor "blessed" ... and He displays the tenderest charity toward the lowly and the oppressed. These reflections cannot fail to keep down the pride of the well-to-do, and to give heart to the unfortunate; to move the former to be generous and the latter to be moderate in their desires. Thus, the separation which pride would set up tends to disappear, nor will it be difficult to make rich and poor join hands in friendly concord. ...

"Neither must it be supposed that the solicitude of the Church is so preoccupied with the spiritual concerns of her children as to neglect their temporal and earthly interests. Her desire is that the poor, for example, should rise above poverty and wretchedness, and better their condition in life; and for this she makes a strong endeavor. ... Christian morality, when adequately and completely practiced, leads of itself to temporal prosperity, for it merits the blessing of that God who is the source of all blessings; it powerfully restrains the greed of possession and the thirst for pleasure -- twin plagues, which too often make a man who is void of self-restraint miserable in the midst of abundance;[23] it makes men supply for the lack of means through economy, teaching them to be content with frugal living, and further, keeping them out of the reach of those vices which devour not small incomes merely, but large fortunes, and dissipate many a goodly inheritance."

Jakeithus said...

I happen to live and work (loosely) with the social assistance program in the most conservative (and prosperous) region of my country. There is a continuous trend of people moving here from elsewhere, expecting their welfare like they had back home, only to get upset at the fact that Income Support is only available to those who can show they are seriously looking for work or can produce a doctor's note as to why they are unable to work. I mean, we have a program that will pay minimum wage to do skills upgrading and job searching, and finds employment for most participants after 2 weeks. I still see people all the time that try to game the system.

Your test makes sense to me. Any system that doesn't try to get the best out of those it serves, and push them to improve their own situation to the best of their ability is not compassionate or in their best interest, it's probably just set up by Social Justice Warriors for them to feel better about themselves. Of course, there will always be those who for whatever reason truly are justified in their lack of responsibilities, but to treat everyone like that applies to them is to permanently marginalize those who struggle, and encourages a dependance that dehumanizes them.

nv said...

Crude,

You wrote:

They think the mere fact that they are expressing concern about the poor (or, worse, "Social Justice") automatically makes their views not just morally right, but good practical ideas on top of it all.

I believe we should be concerned about he poor, but I also think the situation of poor people has been romanticized to a certain extent. Why do I say this? Well, it appears to me most of the benefits being offered by our government does not entail much responsibilities on the person getting the benefits. That is to say, the current benefits system can be described as nothing more than a handout. So, why beat the drums on poverty if we are not prepared to take the steps it takes to at least curve poverty?

You also wrote:

If I give a starving man 200 dollars, is that 200 dollars now his to spend and if he wants to go buy 180 bucks worth of booze, cigarettes and porn and 20 dollars worth of food, well, such is life? Or does that man have a duty to spend that 200 dollars properly? Does he have a duty to work if work is available and he's capable? Does he have a duty to abstain from drugs, from risky sex with strangers who he damn well may get pregnant?

To add to the above I would say that just like my boss expects me to do X for paying me, the person getting benefits should just as well give back to the community in some way. For example, for 5 hours a week he or she will be responsible for picking up trash at the local park.

And finally you wrote:

The politically thoughtless usually can't even comprehend this question - the very idea of the poor having duties, any at all (beyond, perhaps, voting for their favorite political party) is alien to them, or a terrible thing to even talk about. Duty and responsible is supposed to belong entirely to other people - these are victims, and victims have no duties or responsibilities!

Checkmate!

Crude said...

Gyan,

Great. But again, I asked specific questions here: Are same-sex sexual acts moral? Is same-sex marriage moral?

Everyone else,

One thing to keep in mind here is that it's not as if I'm offering up policy demands here. At this stage of the game I'm just asking about moral duties - personal ideals people should strive for, ways of thinking and acting that should be idealized. I don't think every or even most moral duties are the sorts of things that should be backed by force of law.

I'm sympathetic to the idea that a person receiving assistance should, if possible, 'give something back' or the like. But I just want to hear pretty basic discussions about the duties of the poor, along the lines of the $200 dollar question. The problem is, once it's acknowledged that there are standards of behavior we should expect out of the poor (and it's not as if I'm wealthy, by the way), that at least opens the door to policy talk - and that spooks people.

Again, the poor are supposed to be victims, and victims have no duties or responsibilities. I guess I could add, they - as a class - didn't even do anything wrong, or at least anything wrong worth talking about.

I am more than happy to talk about the moral duties of the wealthy, by the way. I have no idealized view of the rich or businesses. But talking about the moral duties of the wealthy isn't much of a problem for anyone anyway.

nv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nv said...

Crude,

Sorry I had some typos on my response. I was rushing a bit...

nv said...

(edited)

I don't think every or even most moral duties are the sorts of things that should be backed by force of law.

True. I'll add this though: For a living I work in the Human Services field so I sort of know certain things others might not. At a basic principle Food Stamps, Housing Assistance, etc. can be used as stepping stone for an individual to better him/herself. So, if the individual felt a certain moral responsibility to use the benefits as a spring board to seek betterment the opportunity might be there [not all families have these capabilities but certainly a lot of them do]. I think some don't because they have to work that much harder than the current system they are in [the more children they have the more benefits they get].

To your point [what moral duties-personal ideals people should strive for...] I would say the person has the responsibility to get educated [i.e. how to budget, GED), look out for themselves [health], kid(s) [education, nourishment], etc. in order to try to overcome the situation. However, I'll add that these might be behaviors some families never had nor likely to welcome that easily for that matter.

Crude said...

No problem nv.

Acatus Bensley said...

The taxation of success and subsidization of failure is the liberal way.

The Deuce said...

I have not affirmed anything about the goodness of same-sex relations (SSR)

I affirm the logic that denies the goodness of SSR but I note that the same logic denies the goodness of commerce as well.


Wow, what a passive-aggressive bitch way to argue. Here's an idea. If you actually think homosexual sex acts are morally wrong, then say "Homosexual sex acts are morally wrong" instead of narrating what you have or haven't done. If you think they're good, say "Homosexual sex acts are good." If you think they're neither, say "Homosexual sex acts are neither good nor bad."

Nobody talks the way you're talking unless they're uncomfortable saying what they actually think clearly, and so are trying to be evasive and ambiguous to avoid being pinned down on anything.

Water into Whine said...

Are you paraphrasing a description of Rob Bell, by any chance? That's an interesting case, because Rob Bell doesn't really think per se, he says things which would impress the audience. Obviously the audience are evil. He can't really be aware of this, because he's a sophist and that would mean that he understood something and would have to stop. Gyan isn't like that in terms of how he thinks, just the content of what they think, which means consciously stealing the rest from Rob Bell or similar sources. I don't mean poets, except secondarily. I don't mean through Hegel, although it rhymes. I don't mean that one should hang in the air.

The white man came to take our land, to conclude the point. But the point is that there's always something of a clash in the average man between higher ideals on the one hand and their practice on the other, which sophists and liberals use consistently to prove that they are oppressed and marginal, just as conservatives might pretend that homosexuals aren't a result of commerce. This is, evidently, a sin. But in this case it isn't an example of sophism, which is consistency and hence defines sophism differently from non-sophism, but is wrong, because it elevates relating to persons wrongly into a principle rather than something which one can turn on or off, and as a result continually tells the reader not to read it rather than that they should live better than they want the reader to live, which is apt. Their duplicity actually comes from having read the Bible, and being faithful to it, as opposed to the hiddenness of mystery which is what happens to people whom Jesus liked. Obviously, all of them. Evidently, looking down from Heaven one gets a better view. But people are important. One's Christianity should be contingent upon how much one talks about it, although evidently Jesus is always talking about himself and this is equivalent. Obviously, there is no law.

That was a bit incoherent, sorry. Despite, Jakeithus' hang-ups with the post, they are probably expressing themselves more coherently, if in a basic manner. Any strengths in the above presentation are immanent. Meaning mine, obviously his are his own virtues. But such as it is, the basic point of my own can be summed up in Pope Francis' (tr.) statement: 'A society which abandons children and the elderly severs its roots and darkens its future.'

To be clear this might be too late.

Gyan said...

Crude,
"Duties of the poor" is rather close to Servile State that Belloc gave warning as a possible consequence of the capitalist destruction of property.

Why are there so many idle poor in America?
In India and Africa, poor people would take up anything, eg. small-scale shops on footpath, hawking or tinkering things from street to street?.
Why are these things banned in America and who has banned them?

PS You have still to answer about Duties of the Rich men.

Crude said...

Gyan,

"Duties of the poor" is rather close to Servile State that Belloc

It's no such thing, you lunatic. It is an inquiry.

Now answer my questions, or depart. I have very little patience for the shady - I get enough of that on the blogs I visit.