Thanks for this response Karen Kilbane – I absolutely agree. Your points on domination and privilege are brilliant.
Have you heard of Cedric Robinson? He has a book called Terms of Order where he talks about the myth of leadership as a political tool. I’m only just reading it now, but it speaks to the problematic cultural narrative we have of valuing domination. I think you might be interested in it if you don’t know of it already. The idea that we should reward domination – and do – really demonstrates the toxic qualities of this culture that call for examination. I’ll definitely be checking out more of your work to see how you’re suggesting to navigate that!
And re: privilege – I’d say that privilege and equality are not compatible. That is, privilege is, by definition, about having something that someone else does not, which is the definition of inequality. Therefore, someone cannot technically be for equality if they aren’t also willing to lose their privileges. That doesn’t necessarily mean losing anything, just that if everyone else also has that privilege, it’s no longer technically a privilege.
Or to put it another way: having a privilege while another does not have that privilege will always mean they have a lack of privilege. This is the fundamental program of patriarchy and capitalism: superior positions in hierarchies and private wealth are relative to subordinate positions and lack of wealth. There can never be equality under capitalism, it is not one of its modes.
The privilege-equality point is often overlooked in the discourse on inequality. There’s an incidence of contradictory consciousness: people are explicitly for equality, until the thought of losing personal luxuries and privileges comes up. A popular response to critiques of capitalism is ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bath water’. That is, get rid of the bad stuff, but keep the good stuff, rather than destroy/dismantle capitalism altogether. When we really get to the bottom of that logic, the ‘baby’ in the scenario is always privilege.