Howl of the Day: Oct 13, 2017
Political scientist Corey Robin has an interesting take on the current Harvey Weinstein debacle. Robin observes that power relationships leave little room for morality:
Those at the bottom of the regime, these less established actresses who need the most, look up and wonder why those above them, those more established actresses who need less, don’t speak out against an injustice: The more established have power, why don’t they use it, what are they afraid of?
Those higher up the ladder, those more established actresses, look down on those at the very bottom and wonder why they don’t speak out against that injustice: They’ve got nothing to lose, what are they afraid of?
Neither is wrong; they’re both accurately reflecting and acting upon their objective situations and interests. This is one of the reasons why collective action against injustice and oppression is so difficult. It’s Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand at work (in both senses), without the happy ending: everyone pursues their individual interests as individuals; the result is a social catastrophe.
This seems true, but at the same time, focusing on the power dynamic at play as opposed to the ends for which the power is used obscures something essential about the problem.