What would an anti-oppressive world look like?

November 16, 2008

What are we going for? What are our goals? What’s your utopia–or, if you’re too poststructuralist for utopias, what’s your moving target? What would a trans positive, woman positive, anti-racist, non-ableist/ageist/homophobic/etc society be? What place would difference–gender/sex difference, racial/ethnic difference, age difference, etc–have? (I’m assuming we agree that in the current world, difference plays out in problematic ways, but that erasing those differences is neither possible nor desirable.) Are there some differences we might actually want to go away? (I’m thinking of class difference here)

What would parenting look like? Education? Economics? Reproduction?

The sky’s the limit. Where are we (hopefully) going?

4 Responses to “What would an anti-oppressive world look like?”

  1. cheshireb said

    I don’t know I can say. My ideal world doesn’t move past, “less shit like this doesn’t happen” I am not saying that there isn’t a place for ideas, but for me, I’m not sure I have room for anything but right now, making things a little better.

  2. shiva said

    I think the reason there haven’t been any more comments to this is because it’s such a HUGE question…

    For me, the main prerequisites for a non-oppressive world would be the abolition of the current political and economic systems, and probably of “economics” as we currently know it altogether, to be replaced by production for need, not for profit… though what that would look like, i’m not quite sure – possibly a bit like Anarres from Ursula le Guin’s The Dispossessed, but without the sillier extremes of collectivism and anti-individualism…

    Ecological sustainability would also be a central prerequisite, but we would have to be very careful that an ideology of sustainability and non-wastefulness doesn’t get twisted into one of austerity and self-denial, which, IMO, inevitably leaves those with the greatest (particularly technological) needs – eg surgery, medication or assistive technology – in a vety precarious position, potentially seen as burdens on society resulting in ecology getting twisted to eugenics – this is something i really want to get debate going on, and started a mailing list for that purpose, but no one has really joined in the discussion yet…

    Re your class thing, i found this quote from Slavoj Zizek (quite possibly taken out of context, because i really don’t understand most of the rest of the piece it’s taken from, at least on first reading, but nonetheless which i think i agree with):

    The third thing to take note of is the fundamental difference between feminist/anti-racist/anti-sexist etc. struggle and class struggle: in the first case, the goal is to translate antagonism into difference (“peaceful” coexistence of sexes, religions, ethnic groups), while the goal of the class struggle is precisely the opposite, i.e., to “aggravate” class difference into class antagonism. So what the series race-gender-class obfuscates is the different logic of the political space in the case of class: while the anti-racist and anti-sexist struggle are guided by the striving for the full recognition of the other, the class struggle aims at overcoming and subduing, annihilating even, the other – even if not a direct physical annihilation, class struggle aims at the annihilation of the other’s socio-political role and function. In other words, while it is logical to say that anti-racism wants all races to be allowed to freely assert and deploy their cultural, political and economic strivings, it is obviously meaningless to say that the aim of the proletarian class struggle is to allow the bourgeoisie to fully assert its identity and strivings… In one case, we have a “horizontal” logic of the recognition of different identities, while, in the other case, we have the logic of the struggle with an antagonist.

    (from here)

    (I suspect a lot of feminists would view “gender” as in the same category as “class”, or even as an instance of it… for some radfems, perhaps the prime instance of it. I can see that point of view, but not 100% sure if i take it, largely because it depends very much on your definition of “gender” and whether it includes or excludes “innate”/neurological gender-identity, or whether that instead comes under “sex”…)

    My utopia would definitely not have any prescriptive gender roles, i think… tho it probably wouldn’t have much in the way of prescriptive anything…

    Probably more thoughts later – i don’t think anyone can give a complete answer to this question in one post, if at all…

  3. Agla said

    Have you ever played FFIX? That takes place in a fantasy world, which is kind of unusual in one way. There’s no real sharp delineation of races. Normally you’ll have like, humans, elves, dwarves, whatever, plus a few hybrids. But all sharp categories.

    FFIX’s Gaia is not like that. There are a few more-or-less homogenous races. But for the most part…it’s a mixed bag. People with animal traits, people with extra arms or legs or whathaveyou, people who look totally normal, they all wander around the streets of Alexandria, and they all are people,they interact-and intermarry!-and nobody tries to slap labels on them. There’s so much variety in the way people look! It’s wacky and wonderful.

    And here’s the clincher. The hero, his name’s Zidane, he’s a boy with a tail like a monkey’s. Slightly monkeyish face too. But apart from that, human-looking. Now, this particular form of mutation is not one that is found on Gaia-I won’t go into detail why, cause it’d spoiler. But Zidane is unique. Anybody seeing him, has seen something that they’ve never seen before.

    And. Nobody. Minds. Nobody even NOTICES.

    They just assume that he’s okay in himself, that he’s normal to himself, and that so ok, there’s another shape out there that they didn’t know about before, but they do now. No sweat.

    …When I try to imagine a perfect world, I start from that attitude, only not just in that one sphere of identity. Then multiply it by about a zillion.

    It wouldn’t be Paradise on earth. ‘Cause there’d still be arguments and disease and shit. But it’d be *damn close*.

  4. Ettina said

    “What are we going for? What are our goals? What’s your utopia–or, if you’re too poststructuralist for utopias, what’s your moving target? What would a trans positive, woman positive, anti-racist, non-ableist/ageist/homophobic/etc society be? What place would difference–gender/sex difference, racial/ethnic difference, age difference, etc–have? (I’m assuming we agree that in the current world, difference plays out in problematic ways, but that erasing those differences is neither possible nor desirable.)”

    Differences are viewed as being neutral, neither good or bad. Not like ‘we’re all the same under the skin’ but more like ‘we’re different – so what?’. There’d be opportunities to connect with people with similar kinds of differences, and our society would be inclusive of everyone.
    Specifically regarding autism/disability, the requirement to prove you need accomodations would be eliminated, along with the need for a diagnosis (except in conditions that affect medical treatment, where knowing about it could save your life). Instead, there’d be self-diagnosis, like coming out as gay (or maybe more like self-identifying with some personality category you read about in a self-help book). If anyone tried to regulate who got called ‘autistic’ or whatever, it would be solely for research studies. Parents would be taught how to handle kids with a variety of disabilities without any implication that the children have something wrong with them. Kids would learn about all sorts of diversity so they’d understand different people, without any implication that any one way is better (I think some degree of preference for your own kind is probably inborn, but it would be moderated by reminders that everyone is OK).

    “Are there some differences we might actually want to go away? (I’m thinking of class difference here)”

    Class, sure. Also probably certain conditions like cystic fibrosis or cancer, though that’s a medical science issue rather than a social issue. Apart from that, I can’t think of any.

    “What would parenting look like?”

    Parenting would be helping a child grow up as an individual, not judging them on some kind of standard. Trying to cure your child of autism or whatever would be just as frowned upon as trying to force your child to become a genius. Parents, however, would be less often judged and blamed for anything their kids do wrong – criticism would be based on real problems and would take the parent’s intentions (eg if they just love their child & want them to be happy) into account rather than lumping them together as ‘bad parents’.

    “Education?”

    Everyone would have an Individualized Education Plan, for one thing. I think more focus should be placed on:
    a) multiple ways of teaching/doing the same skill, and teaching kids that there is no one way that’s absolutely correct.
    b) trusting the kid’s sense of what they need, and building on that sense so it can better be trusted. Children would have more freedom to decide what to study, when and how, and would be explicitly taught how to notice their own learning styles and accomodate these.

    “Economics? Reproduction?”

    I have no idea about those two, except that with reproduction I’d support people having more freedom to chose whether to have a child (eg no pressure on disabled people not to risk having a similarly disabled child) and less freedom to chose what *kind* of child to have (eg eugenic abortion). Or maybe I’d let people have freedom to chose what kind of child (though not by abortion because I’m pro-life) but it would just be personal preferences rather than a systematic bias (because no kind of person is considered inferior). And regulated so forms of diversity that are really important (eg equal gender ratio) are maintained.

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