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Orwell’s dystopian world is now painfully obsolete

I recently found in the latest issue of a well-known academic journal an interesting argument: the best way to end the discrimination and exploitation of certain groups is to expand discrimination and exploitation to every group, without exclusions or distinctions.

Given the fact that the article was published by a serious and highly respected journal, and that the author of the article holds a high position in a national organization, there are no doubts the article is not meant to be a joke. Perhaps that’s why it is son interesting and even dangerous.

Let me put it this way: the author of the argument acknowledges that discrimination and abuse have happened throughout history and are happening even today. Yet, the solution to end with both discrimination and abuse is thought to be to extend discrimination and abuse to include those groups that are not yet impacted but those two social ills.

Perhaps I am too naïve or too poorly informed. And I certainly lack the academic sophistication needed to understand the argument presented above. I thought the best way to end discrimination was to end it, not to expand it. But perhaps, when faced with the reality of a Utopian goal, the best strategy is to adopt the attitude of “If you can beat them, join them.”

In other words, the argument seems to suggest that if we expand an unacceptable social behavior to impact not just one group but the whole community (perhaps even the global community), then that behavior becomes “normal” and “acceptable” because every could potentially be impacted by that behavior.

But, is that a valid argument? For example, could we end slavery by turning not just a group, but everybody into slaves? Or, perhaps closer to the intention of the argument mentioned above, should we eliminate slavery making it possible for any person, regardless of who he/she is, could become a slave?

And, if so, why should we stop there? Perhaps we can create a society where not only everybody is a slave, but were people unknowingly slave themselves, and, assuming they are still free, they exploit themselves and call that “personal development”.

The bad news is that it is already happening. During a speech in Barcelona last February, philosopher Byung-Chul Han argued that we live in a society where each person exploits himself/herself, is afraid of the “other” (whoever that “other” may be), and lives in the “hell” of trying to be different so they can be like everybody else.

According to Han, “Today a person exploits themselves believing they are fulfilling themselves”. We are so narcissistic that we can’t even accept ourselves.

Perhaps, then, the absurd argument of ending discrimination expanding discrimination may not be that absurd at all, not because it is valid, but because we have internalized discrimination and abuse to the point that we discriminate and abuse ourselves to a level never anticipated by Orwell in his 1984.

What a strange world is a world where even grotesque Utopias are obsolete!

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