Posted on February 9, by Scott Alexander I.
Recently spotted on Tumblr: They come to tumblr to escape n feel happy which think is a load of bull. There r literally ppl dying who live with the fear of going outside their homes to be shot and u cant post a fucking picture because it makes u a little upset?
And yes, it would be nice to get to avoid it Econ 101 essay 1 spend time with your family Econ 101 essay 1 look at kitten pics or something. You can be good—certainly you get major points for charity and activism and fighting the good fight—but not good enough.
A conservative happy with his little cabin and occasional hunting excursions, and a progressive happy with her little SoHo flat and occasional poetry slams, are psychologically pretty similar. So are a liberal who abandons a cushy life to work as a community organizer in the inner city and fight poverty, and a conservative who abandons a cushy life to serve as an infantryman in Afghanistan to fight terrorism.
As part of a movement recently deemed postpoliticalI have to admit I fall more on the passivist side of the spectrum — at least this particular conception of it. I talk about politics when they interest me or when I enjoy doing so, and I feel an obligation not to actively make things worse. For some, hearing about all the evils of the world makes them want to curl into a ball and cry for hours.
A few are chronically uncertain about which side to take and worried that anything they do will cause more harm than good. A couple have traumatic experiences that make them leery of affiliating with a particular side — did you know the prosecutor in the Ferguson case was the son of a police officer who was killed by a black suspect?
And still others are perfectly innocent and just want to reblog kitten pictures. Pervocracy admits this, and puts it better than I do: That seems about right. But other, less stable people end up with self-loathing. For these people, abstaining from politics is the only coping tool they have.
I am super sympathetic to this one. The marginal cost of my existence on the poor and suffering of the world is zero. My economic activity consists mostly of treating patients, buying products, and paying taxes. Exactly what am I supposed to be apologizing for here?
I may benefit from the genocide of the Indians in that I live on land that was formerly Indian-occupied. But I also benefit from the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs, in that I live on land that was formerly dinosaur-occupied. I have no objection to people who say this. People feel a deep-seated need to show that they understand how lucky they are and help those less fortunate than themselves.
So what do we do with the argument that we are morally obligated to be political activists, possibly by reblogging everything about Ferguson that crosses our news feed? Has your total revolution of everything eliminated ischaemic heart disease?
Kept elderly people out of nursing homes? It means spending all your time at soup kitchens, becoming vegan, donating everything you have to charity, calling your grandmother up every week, and marrying Third World refugees who need visas rather than your one true love.
And not all of these things are equally important. Five million people participated in the BlackLivesMatter Twitter campaign. Suppose that solely as a result of this campaign, no currently-serving police officer ever harms an unarmed black person ever again.
The moral of the story is that if you feel an obligation to give back to the world, participating in activist politics is one of the worst possible ways to do it. Giving even a tiny amount of money to charity is hundreds or even thousands of times more effective than almost any political action you can take.
Anybody saying that people who want to do good need to spread their political cause is about as credible as a televangelist saying that people who want to do good need to give them money to buy a new headquarters. Average number of hits for posts on this blog, by topic Nobody cares about charity.
Everybody cares about politics, especially race and gender. Just as televangelists who are obsessed with moving to a sweeter pad may come to think that donating to their building fund is the one true test of a decent human being, so our universal obsession with politics, race, and gender incites people to make convincing arguments that taking and spreading the right position on those issues is the one true test of a decent human being.
So now we have an angle of attack against our original question. I would prefer to say that if you feel like you will live in anxiety and self-loathing until you have given a certain amount of money to charity, you should make that certain amount ten percent.
Why should we believe their standard? The most important thing is having a Schelling point, and ten percent is nice, round, divinely ordainedand — crucially — the Schelling point upon which we have already settled.
It is an active Schelling point. If you give ten percent, you can have your name on a nice list and get access to a secret forum on the Giving What We Can site which is actually pretty boring.1: I think you have a point here that SF has difficulty reaching its ultimate potential, falling short in the execution by lack of vision, by its difficulty, and .
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