Sunday, June 1, 2008

Violent Competition For Lowered Status: The Entitled Ignobilities Of Affirmative Action

"A blockade by thousands of protesters from India’s Gujjar tribe brought Delhi to a standstill today, paralysing trains by squatting on tracks and setting up a ring of burning tyres around the perimeter of the city. " [...]
"The Gujjars, already considered a disadvantaged group, want to be reclassified further down the Hindu hierarchy.
The Indian government runs the world’s largest affirmative action programme, reserving half of government jobs and university places to those socially disadvantaged..."
Found here: Social Downgrading: The Logic Of Affirmative Action »


Anonymous said...


You see a similar phenomena here in America now socially. When you talk to people (especially women), they are very quick to bring up something dreadful about their past that "scarred" them in someway.

You hear things like "I had an ex-boyfriend who cheat on, beat, verbally abused me". My dad "didn't love us" or "was emotionally abusive". Our family was ripped off in someway by a past employer and forced to move to x or y.

People literally vomit up "excuses" for their lives pre-emptively.

Its the "victim" culture inculcated via talk shows where being a victim is a status marker, because if youre not a victim, then its partly your fault the world is the way it is (which is lousy according to these people). Only minorities or whites who have suffered from abuse or sexism can be victims, so you can watch people try to outvictimize each other.

By affirmitive action, we put perverse incentives out there for people who score less on entrance exames of performance to "put up an excuse" for why they have done so, in hopes some special set-aside will save them.

John S. Bolton said...

There is plenty of that going on. The contradiction is what jumps out at me though. How can one improve one's status, or that of one's group, by making yourself or your group sound lower and worse off than it is? At any rate it seems to exclude the likelihood of status competition as the explanation of why these things are done. Oppression is not prestige, highclass is not low, and all of these regardless of whether the relative rankings are accurate or totally fictitious. It's like someone who is from a rich family complaining of how they can't get into certain clubs; if they want prestige, shouldn't they know not to advertise that they feel that they have none?

Audacious Epigone said...

Furthering both of your points, Gregory Cochran pointed out that in the US we now collectively celebrate suffering rather than accomplishment. Yes, but we're not alone. A racin' to the bottom we go.

John S. Bolton said...

Being more victimized than others, whether true or not, is never going to improve anyone's status. It would make more sense to conceal a weakness than to advertise it. Doesn't it invite poor treatment by others, if they consider you a victim? The appeal of unaccountability and 'victim' privilege must in some way be greater. The entitled ignobility...