April 03, 2005

Inspired by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Razib of Gene Expression writes a beautiful manifesto, inspired by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I don't have time, at the moment, to comment to the extent that I would like, but I would like to proclaim my support. This, despite the fact that I am not, as he says, of those "who brook no restrictions of custom and tradition, who take little interest in the wisdom of their fathers". I am a great supporter of diversity, I enjoy it esthetically, intellectually, and simply out of affection. But the key qualifier is: choice. My utopian society would facilitate diversity at the level of both the individual and group, but would simultaneously guarantee the individual's right to choose among the options available, or create a new one.

The thing that I would like to talk about more - and I don't know if I get to it at all (there is so much that I never get to...) is the experience of living with others' expectations of difference. It is an odd, and not always unpleasant, experience to be the incarnation of another's mythology. It is something that Razib and I share.

Posted by David Boxenhorn at April 3, 2005 11:18 AM
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well...spatial separation helps maximize choice by constraining conflicts. i have a preference of how i think people in the arab world should treat women, for example, but it is not something that i believe the west should take militant action on from basic considerations of prudence and utilitarianism. on the other hand, the treatment of women by immigrant groups is something that is important in the west because it quickly can change the tenor of a culture and alter the perception of what a "good society" is in terms of social consensus. in a large nation like the USA spatial separation can still be maintained. in a small nation like holland it can not in the same sense (yes, broad swaths of the netherlands outside of the cities are still white, but they are very accessible to anyone who wants to take a day trip).

Posted by: razib at April 3, 2005 11:34 AM Permalink

I think that maintaining individual choice requires enforcement of a certain degree of respect for women's rights. Obviously, a policy of live-and-let-live breaks down when one party doesn't respect it.

Posted by: David Boxenhorn at April 3, 2005 11:46 AM Permalink

There is a fulcrum between individualism and collectivism (by which I mean "group," "culture," any identity-marker outside one's own skin) that marks the ideal balance. As a thinking and feeling individual, I constantly seek that fulcrum. Thank you David, for pointing to Razib's blog...it helps me to stay balanced.

Posted by: savtadotty at April 4, 2005 09:03 AM Permalink

>diversity at the level of both the individual and group ... but would simultaneously guarantee the individual's right to choose among the options available

To put this to the test: one of the options must be for any member to be able to leave the group without paying a crippling price (emotionally, financially, with one's life, etc.)

So which collectives pass the test? Islam: no. Freemasons: don't know. Judaism: yes. Catholics: don't know (can one still be excommunicated?) Anglican church: yes. Nation states: no. Family: no.

Posted by: Tom at April 5, 2005 04:37 AM Permalink

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