This week, I discuss systemic oppression, why it’s bogus, and the four best arguments against it.
Table of Contents
- What Is Systemic Oppression?
- Four Astoundingly Simple Arguments Against Systemic Oppression
- 1) Oppressive systems are nowhere near as powerful as they once were
- 2) Technology, especially the internet, gives too much power to the individual
- 3) Everyone is hyperaware of and actively fights oppressive systems
- 4) The government is always absent from the discussion
- You Are Oppressed More By Your Vices Than Any System
What Is Systemic Oppression?
Systemic oppression is “the intentional disadvantaging of groups of people based on their identity while advantaging members of the dominant group.” (from National Equality Project).
Systemic oppression is a narrative, not a reality. It is a made-up fiction that defines how an individual views himself and his society. The idea has no merit in the real world, especially in modern times.
People hate personal responsibility. Systemic oppression allows an individual to externalize poor behavior into a “system” instead of acknowledging said behavior. If we accept our actions as our own, we must change. However, blaming “systems” allows us to escape responsibility to the detriment of everyone.
Four Astoundingly Simple Arguments Against Systemic Oppression
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass
There are two main reasons to oppose systemic oppression:
- Systemic oppression creates two arbitrary distinctions: “oppressed” and “oppressor.” “Oppressed” and “oppressor” individuals are hostile toward each other instead of the ruling classes or the elites. The average “oppressed” man hates his “privileged” neighbors instead of the groups creating inflation, suppressing free media, and releasing violent criminals into the streets.
- Systemic oppression creates a lie that we do not own or control our lives. Depression and failure strike when the individual believes he cannot improve his life. As such, the people who buy into oppression narratives are economically weak, physically stunted, and emotionally immature.
We will cover the four arguments that undermine the narrative of systemic oppression. Hopefully, individuals can redirect their efforts toward living virtuously by rejecting this anti-life narrative.
1) Oppressive systems are nowhere near as powerful as they once were
The supporters of the systemic oppression narrative only discuss how far we have to go, not how far we’ve come. No one could argue that disenfranchised groups are more oppressed today than in the past. Society has advanced. And because of this advancement, we can safely say that systemic oppression has lost considerable power.
Any honest person has to admit women, queer folks, blacks, and other minorities are nowhere near as oppressed as their ancestors or even the previous generation. That reduction in oppression necessitates a growth in personal responsibility.
The law does not hold black people as slaves or women unfit for economic independence. Cultural and societal forces do not shame gay people for their sexuality. Our societies have progressed.
If personal responsibility has increased, black people can be criticized for high crime rates, and women can be judged for choosing terrible mates. The bad actions of individuals are not wiped away because of systems, especially if those systems are the weakest they’ve ever been.
2) Technology, especially the internet, gives too much power to the individual
One of the ideas of the Oppression Olympics is that people do not have power. Certain groups are repressed, suppressed, and oppressed by systems. However, technology makes most arguments about systemic oppression invalid.
Firstly, technology allows the oppressed to invest heavily in their personal growth. Secondly, technology keeps us safe and comfortable in ways historically oppressed groups could not achieve.
Take the internet. There can be no oppression if I can freely teach myself anything whenever I have time. I have cell phones, computers, and other technological advancements my ancestors did not have. And these devices are readily and cheaply available through mailing services like Amazon or big box stores like Walmart. Would Frederick Douglass or Booker T. Washington be oppressed if they could learn to read online or order raw materials for Tuskegee through Amazon?
Any inequity between education and earning potential can be overcome with a few hours a week on a computer. If people don’t want to invest time into self-improvement, then that is an individual’s concern – not the result of systemic oppression.
Lastly, how oppressed am I if I have running water, refrigerators, and centralized air? Such technological wonders are readily available for most oppressed people in this country. And historically, these gifts were never available even to the most privileged people throughout history, including kings, queens, presidents, and robber barons.
Such comfort makes “oppression” exceedingly relaxing.
3) Everyone is hyperaware of and actively fights oppressive systems
“The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.” – James Madison
Everyone from celebrities and governments to multi-billion dollar companies frequently fight against systemic oppression. Scholarships, affirmative action, national discussions, social media posts, donations, laws, and other actions are designed to help oppressed groups. And there are boundless examples of these initiatives.
Very rarely throughout history have the elites and ruling classes championed the struggles of the oppressed. If the lawmakers and moneymen in your society are throwing their support behind you, then you are not persecuted by any system. Your vices oppress you.
4) The government is always absent from the discussion
Government is always toted as a solution because the “oppressed” want power. Those who believe the systemic oppression narrative wish to rule over all of us. Thus, they want the state to do more even though the state has taken much and accomplished little.
The federal government collects four trillion dollars in tax revenue. Why can’t it resolve hunger? Why can’t it properly educate children? Even the state and local governments forcibly collect additional payments, yet they cannot resolve issues. Despite all the money collected by and power given to the state, equality is never reached.
Despite its consistent failures, the support of the state shows that the narrative of systemic oppression is nonsense. Supporters are not trying to uplift the poor or oppressed minorities. They want power. The control of the state gives them power to hurt the innocent, the virtuous, and the productive.
You Are Oppressed More By Your Vices Than Any System
So why should we care about this? Because the argument for systemic oppression is anti-individualistic. This argument robs the individual of personal responsibility and autonomy in less extreme scenarios. In the more extreme cases, systemic oppression is used to create “oppressors,” who can be dealt with in abusive, violent, and sometimes deadly ways.
Don’t fall for it. People are not “oppressed.” We are not entirely free from the influences of systems, but most problems can be mitigated by personal responsibility.
Become an individual, so you are not another victim of collectivism.
- Do you believe you’re oppressed? Why? By whom? How are your vices doing, and how much control do they have over you?
- Is there anyone you know who believes they are oppressed? What kind of person are they? Do you like being around them?
- Have you argued against the idea of systemic oppression? What were the results?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash.