GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

January 12, 2019

A Unified Field Theory of Victimocracy

Filed under: GA — Q @ 1:06 pm

Eric bases his Unified Field Theory on the Originary Hypothesis, which is so original that it has resisted assimilation to contemporary academic discourse, not to mention popular news or culture. We remain limited to a small corner of the internet (the Anthropoetics website) and our annual conferences. As Eric comments, Generative Anthropology doesn’t articulate the resentments of any particular interest group. It’s a sad comment on academia today that a persuasive theory with important consequences is not recognized because it affirms the value of “firstness” or merit. I read almost everyday about the “myth” of meritocracy. Eric points out that the genius of the left’s attack on “privilege” is that anyone can participate, no matter how successful, by simply acknowledging their “unmerited” position with an apotropaic gesture designed to ward off criticism. But anyone who is white and successful remains vulnerable to attack. Political Correctness benefits certain rhetorically-powerful interest groups, while allowing the current political and economic system to operate almost without check. Conservatives have not yet found an effective rhetoric to counter PC. Who can be against “social justice”? The problem is that PC actually functions counter to its stated goals.

Despite the claims of PC, America is still distinguished by its openness to innovation, talent, and merit of all kinds, irrespective of race, gender, or class. But there are real structural issues that have contributed to the large wealth inequalities in America today, issues that could be profitably addressed at the political level. But the current political climate actually prevents any such constructive efforts, because firstness must be denied.

The current political debate can be derived from the opposition of center and periphery on the Originary Scene. The periphery is defined by equality. Everyone is equal before the firstness of the center, and in the ability to make and exchange the sign. The originary hypothesis explains the fundamental moral intuition that everyone is equal in rights. Studies have demonstrated that children as young as two years old already have a sense of fairness and reciprocity.

The center of the Originary Scene, on the other hand, defends the rights of firstness. One who benefits the group deserves a reward for their work. PC wants to exclude firstness by claiming that any inequality in material situation can only be due to an oppression that denies fundamental equality. This is a Manichean world-view, in which all the benefits of civilization, because they are not distributed equally, become evidence for evil conspiracy. But rewarding merit is actually completely in accord with the principle of moral reciprocity. One is recompensed according to one’s contribution to the community.

I would like to point out that firstness and egalitarianism actually depend upon each other. Egalitarianism is made possible only by firstness, the power of the center to defer conflict. The sacred center reduces everyone on the periphery to the same level. We are all equal before God. The firstness of the center is not reducible to the authority of the alpha male. He acts solely for self-benefit, even if, as Darwin pointed out, his domination indirectly benefits the species as a whole in the long run. But more importantly, no symbolic representation is involved with the alpha male’s position in the group. It was probably not the alpha male who invented the first sign, although he must have imitated the sign of others on the originary scene.

Firstness depends on egalitarianism, as the rights of the community, because a privileged position can be claimed and defended only in terms of its benefit to the group. When Obama said, “you didn’t build that,” he was attacking the privileges accorded to firstness, and ignoring that individuals who invest their lives in a business are rewarded freely according to their benefit to the community

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