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Kafkatrapping July 26, 2010

Posted by nukemhill in Philosophy, Politics (Ghahh!).
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Wonderful post by Eric Raymond on what he has labelled as “Kafkatrapping”.  Here’s the meat of his case:

Good causes sometimes have bad consequences. Blacks, women, and other historical out-groups were right to demand equality before the law and the full respect and liberties due to any member of our civilization; but the tactics they used to “raise consciousness” have sometimes veered into the creepy and pathological, borrowing the least sane features of religious evangelism.

One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap.

I see kafkatrapping all the time.  And it is particularly infuriating.  It’s not too long of an essay, but there are hundreds of comments.  All, well worth reading.  One almost throw-away comment by Eric is worth pointing out in particular:

The distinguishing feature of bad social-change movements is that they seek coercive power over people who are not themselves coercing. The distinguishing feature of good social-change movements is that they seek to limit and prevent coercion. The tragedy is that good social-change movements almost invariably get seized from inside by high-functioning sociopaths and turn into bad ones.

Entire books could be written on this.  So often, legitimate movements are co-opted by people seeking nothing more or less than moral authority and power over others.  It is almost always fear-based.  It is almost always to suppress different thinkers.  And it’s absolutely not about fighting and exposing hatred and prejudice.  It is not about seeking racial/gender/sexual equality and harmony.

It’s about power.  Not power to free.  Power to control.

edit (2010-07-28):  for clarity