White Selfishness - Acknowledgment vs Reward

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Purple Knight
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White Selfishness - Acknowledgment vs Reward

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Post by Purple Knight »

Question for debate: Can you acknowledge without rewarding?

One of the tenets of Critical Race Theory is what white people, even when being the best of allies to POCs, are only acting in their own selfish interests. Essentially, they see the way the wind is blowing and are trying to maintain power by evincing morality. (But this only frames the issue so nevermind if you don't think it's true.)

The rather dangerous assumption is that they in fact do get something out of it. The frankly unfathomable tendency is to actually offer the reward. Whites are allowed to rise in venues such as universities for espousing the truth, and those who refuse and maintain regressive views are often attacked and torn from their positions.

In my view, you shouldn't be offering a child a piece of candy for doing a task if you're going to turn around and point out that he just did it for the piece of candy. Either he's mentally a dog (this is true of small children; their minds are not developed much beyond that) and you should be saying good boy, or he's a mentally capable moral agent and you shouldn't be offering the candy.

This ties into some of my major beefs with Christianity since, once a reward is offered and people know the reward is in play, once that selfish motivation is added to the soup, you can't entirely strain it out. Once people know a reward is in play, you can't say it doesn't enter their minds, because it has indeed entered their minds; they know it, and they can't just willfully unknow it. (This is why I lean a bit to the side of blaming those offering the reward.)

The big question here is, what if we, as a society, made sure whites didn't get a single benefit out of espousing the correct view? You don't be their friend. No social benefit, not even a smile, not even a kind word. Certainly no promotions, no raises, no tenure. No tangible benefits either. Would it then be possible to simply, coldly acknowledge, if the correct view is still held, that it is held with a pure motivation?

Now, you might argue, but, they might want the acknowledgement, so that might count as a benefit. I would counter that if someone held the correct view and conducted themselves as a stalwart ally when the going theory was that it was impossible for the motivation to be pure, the acknowledgement can't be the prize. You could still say, well, when there were real benefits, he wanted those, but if there are not real benefits he'll take the acknowledgement as a benefit; he is happy with either. And I suppose that's possible but I see it as unlikely. If he truly joined the cause for the benefits and they stop flowing, he will leave the cause.

There's also a minor paradox here where we're supposed to assume that every single white person expects to receive some benefit from supporting the correct views, and if I find one, one single individual the benefit didn't touch, perhaps a beaten spouse of a regressive lunatic whose marriage is her immediate world and would stand only to gain from discarding her morally higher views, but she doesn't... this would essentially refute it all, because she receives no benefit, not even acknowledgment. Now you can say, she's stupid, she thinks the benefit is coming, but is yet to be seen, but I would counter that if you can still attack the motivation of someone whose only possible logical motivation is true morality by calling them illogical, there's not a way to discuss motivation productively, since "he was crazy" can always be the go-to for anyone trying to dismiss someone as selfish, and then we cannot have a discussion because whenever this go-to is used, we reach the same impasse. It might be true, but it's an impasse, past where, a productive discussion can't happen.

So the paradox is thus: If this person who gets no benefit and no acknowledgment, still believes the morally correct view and conducts herself an a stalwart ally, she's actually, factually good. She's good in a way no POC can be good because she will be doing the good deeds and not have the acknowledgment; she will gain no warm fuzzy feeling from having done something unselfish because she knows, and everyone else knows, that her motivation was entirely selfish. So she should actually have the acknowledgment. However, once she receives the acknowledgment this argument collapses and she's back to being selfish again.


This paradox resolves if acknowledgment in and of itself, cold, and without even a smile, does not actually count as a benefit, and I'm personally not a fan of words that render themselves paradoxes. I think we should define and categorise to avoid definitional paradoxes (which is why statements that don't ultimately refer to actual facts, but only to other statements or themselves, should not count as statements nor have truth values).

(I've actually added a discussion on this issue here: viewtopic.php?f=79&t=38697 )

It may be difficult, it may even be impossible, to give someone absolutely no benefits from doing the right thing, but firstly, this is more of a hypothetical, and secondly, it's important to understand that when people are rewarded or punished for good behaviour, that the crowd does that, and that the crowd could be taught not to do that, just as easily as they were taught that respect for POCs is right and racism is wrong. No cabal is pulling the strings; it's people, regular people, trying to do the right thing, even if, in the case of whites, they're only trying desperately to get the reward. In this case, in the case of them being part of the crowd, it doesn't matter their motivations, because they're still trying to do the right thing, because if the right thing is to stop the reward and punishment, they will. If anything it's better that they have utterly selfish motivations because they won't stick to their behaviour if it stops being rewarded and stops granting them social status.

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