the finest mofo this side of the west side (vicariance) wrote,
the finest mofo this side of the west side

Social responsibility is always shared.

My friend emblemparade recently delivered unto me a stab of his rapier sharp socio-philosophical understanding. He introduced an idea to me, which while not exactly new, was phrased in a certain way that made me desire to contemplate its profundity.

Social responsibility is always shared.

He said this right after "my disdain for libertarianism is complete", which coming from almost anyone else, would have pissed me the fuck off. But from him, I welcomed the criticism. I've held an uncontested adherence to libertarianism for so long, I basically take it for granted in my evaluation of most senarios. I've always known that the validity of this philosophy peters off when you consider larger and larger groups of people, assuming one's faith in the ability of the groups members to behave reasonably does not expand in proportion. What that means is that holding libertarianism as anything other than a utopic concept makes the holder either a blind idealist or a sectarian elitist. I've considered myself a delightful combination of both. But it dawned on me, in contemplating that phrase: social responsibility is always shared, that there is a non-idealist non-elitist way to approach solving social problems.

This isn't like a world changing epiphany I had here. Obviously nothing can be done about idiots. Nothing can be done about people who delude themselves into believing irrational things and making bad decisions and holding to unfair positions.

Libertarianism demands that actions always be just, and if not, their injustice realized and redressed automatically. Realism, it seems, requires a different demand.

What actually hammered home the point for me was a bit from an essay--part of the uproar about DCs insanely pandering oversexualization of MOST of their female heroes.

But it’s not the sole responsibility of women to somehow get themselves hired so they can write books that their nieces might buy. Men – yes, even straight ones – will have to make an actual effort to establish that diverse landscape in which some of the female characters do wear pants for 20 whole pages. The problem DC has right now is that too many of their creators decided that their book was going to be the one targeted to that all-important horny adolescent boys niche, and someone else could deal with stuff like ‘women’.

And I was all like, fuck yeah! Stupid sexist comics creators! Fuck them, it's all their fault. But then I considered "all important horny adolescent boys niche" along with some earlier thoughts from the same essay: "there is room in comics for sexually aggressive female heroes...There is even room in comics’ diverse landscape for bisexual strippers, alongside flamboyant gay characters...But first you need to build a diverse landscape."

And it became clear. Social responsibility is shared. The company had a responsibility to reach all of its market. Even if they meant to pander only the niche market, for the sake of profit, which reasoning, libertarianism would vehemently support... well, that's just not cool.

The fairness of an act is always determined by considering the poverty of those who are lacking a resource in contrast to the wealth of those with the power to provide it to others. Maybe in economic issues you can just say "I own it, I can do what I want with it" but socially, that's wrong. (And maybe not just socially... Karl Marx is going to haunt my dreams tonight EEK!)

I believe pretty much everyone does this among their friends and family. I think the reason I never thought to apply it to larger groups is because I personally cringe at the thought of providing a resource to a portion of the populace for whom I cannot directly measure their wealth.

Tal told me that I failed in my responsibility to Vickie because I allowed myself to be convinced of the earnestness of her suicide letter. I owed her "the benefit of doubt", he told me. And he was right, the fucker. I was arbitrarily granting her choices an unassailable status while I was heaping derision upon those who sought to defeat her will. I realize now that I did this, largely, due to projection.

I am desperate to have the sovereignty of my will be respected. In fact, I would go as far as to say I am terrified by the thought of having my will dominated; by a person, by the state, by whatever. By even an ego-defeating psychedelic drug experience (but at least I am usually aware that the latter is temporary). I am absurdly idealistic about the responsibility that everyone should own for their actions because I so badly want mine. Kinda silly now that I think about it out-loud, so to speak.

Especially because of another example that Tal and I discussed: language. He suggested that I put too much of the responsibility of understanding on the speaker, that some was also owed the listener. I almost dismissed the suggestion until I considered how hard I myself try to understand the nuance and variability of that which is spoken by those around me. I've always taken the responsibility to be an avid listener very seriously, even thought I bet that a few days ago I would have argued staunchly that it was not my responsibility to understand a weak or flawed communicator. Surely there is responsibility to be well understandable also. But even that requires one to understand those he is trying to make understand something, enough to know the correct language to choose. It's about finding a common ground, and both people have to walk towards the center, in order to meet fairly.

I have more to think on this, and maybe need to read a Ayn Rand novel or something to see how my thoughts response. But in the mean time, one piece of advice remains universally useful and relevant: Be excellent to each other, dudes.

(and party on)
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