Victimhood & Individualism

The Social Justice Left’s worrying obsession with propping up their own victimhood narratives seems at best an attempt to grab the little social currency left for them.

In the most recent rendition of identity politics, which the Left has all but mastered, a new victim-status hierarchy has emerged from the depths of Tumblr and bled into mainstream culture. The appropriately named ‘Oppression Olympics’, which was termed by those outside this community, perfectly encapsulates the cultural Marxism that these groups champion. This hierarchy places those at the top as being the most virtuous, but the only means of reaching there is by being the most ‘victimised’ by society – and I use the word victimised very loosely. It can be thought as an attributed point system with each element of your personal identity (gender, race, sexuality, religion, weight, etc.) being graded depending on how far it deviates from the status-quo. The more ‘oppressed’ identities that one holds, the higher up they are held in this hierarchy. In turn, those who are in the majority, and by consequence seen as the ‘oppressor’, deserve by virtue of the involuntary role they play in holding minorities down to be silenced and de-platformed.

I could not blame anyone for being confused by such absurdities. Never before has being a victim been so closely associated with positive value as a person. Previously, the traditional traits of ambition, courage, intelligence and charity were hailed as valuable, and for good reason! Each of them directly correlates to a characteristic that when applied in day-to-day life improves wider society, making both the individual’s life and those of the people around him better. The victim on the other hand, who by the very definition of being called as such has in some sense been defeated or overpowered, helps no one, at least not if that’s all they are. Unlike those that are praised because of their strengths, the term ‘victim’ is a result of the action and behaviours of others, namely the culprit. The use of the term victim is less a comment on their qualities than it is a value judgment on the other and their harmful actions. Given this, the term on its own should offer no social elevation to the holder as it shows little of their own attributes.

Being a victim, however, does not immediately exclude someone of being valuable to society, that would be ridiculous to suggest. We have all been a victim at a point in life, in some way or another, and most contribute greatly despite this. But we must be suspicious of those that self-identify as a victim, making it a crucial part of who they are and how they interact with the world.

The self-identification as a victim can only result from the discrepancy between ego and worth, with the worth of the individual not justifying the ego. They then resort to playing the pity card in order to gain the praise and attention that they so desire. All in all, it just indicates that they have nothing of honest value to offer society, and so blame their lack of success on artificial restraints devised by the ‘oppressive western patriarchy’.

This victim complex only becomes dangerous once the sinister motive behind it vanishes to leave genuine belief. Over time, if you spew the same rhetoric enough times, you may eventually begin to believe it. That’s if you didn’t start off with such conviction. The danger comes not within the belief itself, but in the actions it may inspire. If you were indeed oppressed, under one of the many authoritarian regimes that the twentieth century saw, violence as a means of liberation is justly warranted. However, when you live in the cushy twenty-first century west, the global hallmark of personal liberty, a place where authoritarianism and the like has been absent for many years, and where whole wars have been waged in defence of freedom, thinking you’re oppressed can only amount from an earthshattering ego-centrism. But still, if you believe that you’re oppressed, regardless of reality, political violence in pursuit of your own freedom, at least in your own mind, could be rationalised and then justified. In recent years, I think it no coincidence that as victimhood has been popularised, the number of mass-protests, especially those which descended into riots, has increased, the heightened visibility of visceral street protest movements like Antifa being a by-product. Due to the simplicity of buzz-words representing either side, someone is quickly pronounced either an ally or an enemy, and not just of them; of all victim minorities. And from having an easily identified opposition, it is easy to see why actions may be taken against them if one believes in their oppression fully enough. These actions, as you can imagine, involve the same racism and sexism that the victim group despise, yet just flipped to instead be direct towards the majority group.

Not only does this victim complex hurt the self-proclaimed victim, by limiting their growth and introspection, or the ‘enemy’, by attacks of all kind in an attempt at ‘liberation’, but it also harms the minority group that is supposedly victimised.

It must escape them that blanket labelling of minority groups, especially when they are disproportionately represented in underprivileged communities, has damning real world consequences. For most people, any hint of outside meddling absolves them of all personal responsibility for their shortcomings. Only when no excuse is given can we honestly look inwards and rectify our character so that similar mistakes are not made in the future. Beating groups down with bleak descriptions of how the world will treat them, then giving them an easy way out, does not help the people that you claim to want to help. Supplying them with an ‘it’s everyone but me’ attitude only lengthens the time that they will spend tripping over on the same mistakes.

To solve all these problems, we must bring our minds back to the individual. The focus on dividing ourselves into truly arbitrary groups based on immutable characteristics does nothing but that; divide us. It also assumes everyone else is equally as concerned about your identity as you are, which is obviously not the case. Forget it just being extremely narcissistic to assume that anyone cares about what you wish to do in your bedroom, your personal identity is simply none of anyone else’s business. It may be central to how you view yourself but to the rest of the western world it’s simply a non-issue.

Forcing yourself into a box, a casket created by your identities, makes you and your personality stagnant. It does not give room for growth. Given this, it seems pointless to put voluntarily yourself in that box. Unlike how you expect, this safe space won’t shield you from the people you think hate you, and it really won’t be at their cost either, because at the end of the day they still aren’t the one in the box.

Allowing your perspective to be narrowed to that of a few superficial points, that of race, sexuality and gender, makes you miss both the best and worst in people. To me, it’s a little disheartening if the most interesting thing about someone is the fact that their skin pigment is darker, or that they contain the XX chromosome pairing. This is not to trivialise the true bigots out there, who hate based on these frivolous characteristics, but does it not seem more compelling to rise despite it, to be more than what they hate you for, rather than to succumb and allow their views to define and dampen your human potential.

 

David Cairnie is a young student from Edinburgh living in Aberdeen.

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1 Comment on "Victimhood & Individualism"

  • Joe says

    Really great article.

    Thomas Sowell is great on victimhood. Victim culture damaging the opportunities & outcomes for black people in the US.

    This one is quite incredible given what’s happening today.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NdQfohFbzg

    4th October 2017 – 2 days since Catalonian Indy Ref!

    All the best – well done with this article.

    Joe

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