Monthly Archives: November 2012

One of the central expressions of categorism seems to be to think of a category of people as of they were a unified whole rather than diverse individuals. There are at least two main ways of doing this, although these two ways sometimes can’t be distinguished from each other. For now, I will call them Monolithization and Archetypization.

Monolithization is when you think of the entire category (all women, all Muslims, or whatever) as having common goals, opinions, and so on. This can easily expand into a conspiracy theory, which I will return to shortly.

Archetypization takes it one step further, treating the entire category not only as if they were some kind of borg collective, but as if they were actually one single person. How is the hooker feeling, is she happy? And what about the Jew, is he worrying about the world economy?

Archetypization is common in stories and fables, which is a very good place for them: It lets them be entertaining and interesting, without spreading prejudice about real people in the real world.

Lets have a look at the ”selfish” porcupine (from a poem in fable style), the greedy Ferengi (from Star Trek) and the greedy jew (from various antisemitic stories).

There is a difference between the porcupine and the two others. The poem is about how the porcupine got his coat of pins. In the beginning he didn’t have it yet, so he always had to worry about the cat and fox wanting to eat him. Then the Blacksmith helped him by making the coat of pins. The porcupine didn’t have to feat for his life anymore. But the fox sneered that ”it is very selfish to not allow oneself to get eaten by the cat and by me”. End of story.

So, while ”The Ferengi” and ”The Jew” are all about actual selfishness or greed, the porcupine is only wrongly called as such by a greedy and predatory hypocrite.

There is also a difference between ”The Jew” and the two others. All three characters are simple stereotypes, they are little more than symbols for very abstract concept. but the Jew also represent an ethnic/religious minority in the real world.

It is tempting to treat the world as a story. A story about yourself or your own group- A story where other people are only there to fulfil whatever narrative role you assign to them. But this fiction becomes problematic when the people you use it for are not fictional. In some ways it is reasonable to treat the world as stories. For this to be reasonable, however, it must not just be stories about you. Instead, it must be stories about everybody. Each human is the main character in his or her own story. We all fill many different roles in many different stories. Your story is not the only one that counts, the world does not revolve around you.

Of course, every good story need it’s villains. It is so easy to assign people the role of ”evil” and tell yourself that this justifies your own behavior against them. And of course, your own role in this world becomes so much greater if they are all conspiring against you, living their lives on the premise that it is all about you.

Conspiracy theories doesn’t have to be categorism. But in my experience, they usually are. Monolithizationn and archetypization is often central to conspiracy theories: Treating an ethnic group or a world religion as a group with a unified agenda. In the conspiracy theory, it is often assumed that everyone in the category is aware of this hidden agenda, but manages to hide it from all outsiders. Everyone except for you, and your paranoia proves that you are smarter than everyone who doesn’t share your delusion – you are smart enough to figure it our, everyone else is just sheep manipulated by the jews or space-lizards or whatever category of people you believe runs the conspiracy.

(Wait, are space-lizards a category of people in the real world? Well, David Icke and his followers seem to think so. It is extremely likely that they are wrong, but that doesn’t mean that categorism against space-lizards can’t be a real problem. The expressions of this form of categorism falls upon any real persons who are suspected or accused of secretly being space-lizards.)

One interesting aspect of conspiracy theories is what I for now call conspirationalism. This is to interpret ordinary behavior as if it was a conspiracy. For example, one classic homophobic argument is to accuse gay people of having gay friends, arguing that this make them some sort of ”gay mafia”. Another one that I heard recently was some antimuslimist youtube clip. The narrator accused Muslims of wanting to eat halal food, and presented this as if it was a plot to overthrow democracy and take over the country.

Grandiose conspiracy theories are never literally true. They are extreme oversimplifications of social structures at best, and vile nonsense at worst. Capital C conspiracies cannot exist, the very idea is based on a very flawed idea about what a human being is and what a social structure is.

Some conspiracy theorists argue that their theories are not meant to be taken as literally true, but non the less true on a symbolic level. However, such a defense should only be accepted for theories that doesn’t hurt anyone. Spreading prejudice and bigotry, inciting discrimination and marginalization… that you are using your victims as symbols for something doesn’t make it okay.

Lover-case c conspiracies exists, however. And they sometimes target paranoid people. ”Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are not after you.” If nothing else, behaving in a paranoid way will make people think twice about confronting you directly, making it easier to conspire against you. In most cases, however, they will simply stay away from you and avoid spending their time on your drama. More importantly, social structures exist. Arguments about group interests should not automatically be dismissed as conspiracy theories.

In my experience, the line is drawn at monolithization. When you assume that a wide category of people is a monolithic whole (rather than a lot of individuals who have something in common, but who all still have their own personal hopes, dreams and opinions), that’s when you lose touch with reality.

Brief summary in English:
RFSU is an NGO, the Swedish branch of International Planned Parenthood Federation. During the last weekend (24-25 November), this NGO held a national conference on on minority rights advocacy, specialized in the secual minorities of fetishists and people who are into BDSM. A field they have recently started to call BDSMF.

I did not attend this conference, since it was held in the Swedish city I usually live in but I’m currently living in Indonesia. However, the conference started with me holding a speech through one of my friends.

In this speech, I put emphasis on two central pillars of RFSU. One is SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights), the other is “The freedom to choose, be and enjoy”. (In Swedish “Välja, Vara, Njuta”.) I talk about how realization of these important principles demand that we see and acknowledge humanity’s great diversity.

I also claim that Swedish culture has had a lot of stigmatization and repression against the two mentioned minorities, but that Indonesian culture does not seem to have that particular problem: Here the stigmatization is instead against those who have sex outside of marriage. I end the speech with arguing for a global struggle against sexual abuse and oppression, a struggle based on the principles of mutual respect and consent. “Safe, Sane & Consensual”, if you will.


Igår och i förrgår hade RFSU ett Riksmöte för sina BDSMF-aktivister. Alltså de som kämpar för acceptans och kunskap angående BDSM och Fetischism, kämpar mot fördomar och diskriminering. Själv hade jag inte möjlighet att vara på plats, men riksmötet inleddes med en hälsning från mig. Ett tal som jag hade skrivit och som lästes upp å mina vägnar.


Kära RFSU-aktivister från hela landet
Det är med stor glädje som jag följer utvecklingen inom det sexualpolitiska fält som på sistone har börjat kallas för BDSMF. Det riksmöte som ni håller idag är en fantastisk milstolpe i en utveckling som vi för något decennium sedan knappt ens kunde drömma om.

RFSU står för allas rätt all vara, välja och njuta.
RFSU står för SRHR: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.
Alltså Sexuell Hälsa, Sexuella Rättigheter, Reproduktiv Hälsa och Reproduktiva Rättigheter.

Allt detta är stora ord, fina ord, viktiga ord. Men också ord som är mycket övergripande. För att sådana ord skall komma till sin fulla rätt måste vi synliggöra sexuella minoriteter och variationer. Vi måste sprida kunskap och skapa förståelse för sexualiteter som ligger utanför det genomsnittliga och vardagliga. Vi måste arbeta normkritiskt och stå upp för en sexualmoral som bygger på förståelse och omtanke, inte på fördomar och moralism. Det är här som vi BDSMF-aktivister förverkligar RFSU:s vision, tillämpad på BDSM och Fetischism.

Under det senaste decenniet har vi kommit fantastiskt långt. Först tog RFSU ställning för BDSM och fetischism. Sedan slutade socialstyrelsen att räkna dessa minoriteter som psykiskt störda. Därefter hakade RFSL på tåget, och är sedan sin kongress i somras mer radikalt än RFSU. Förhoppningsvis kommer RFSU ikapp RFSL på vår egen kongress nästa sommar. Men i det stora perspektivet är detta en fråga om detaljer.

Striden är över, vi har vunnit. Detta innebär inte att vi är färdiga, tvärtom har vi bara börjat. Nu växer vi: Från att få två organisationer och en myndighet att skärpa sig, till att sprida sexualupplysning och förståelse till hela samhället. Det arbete som nu återstår är för stort för att kunna skötas av enstaka eldsjälar och experter.

Nyligen fanns det inom RFSU en stor grupp i Stockholm, en liten i Göteborg och en liten i Skåne. Nu växer Göteborg så det knakar, samtidigt som Örebro och Uppsala är på väg att vakna. Vi är redan två stora grupper, och kanske fem grupper sammanlagt. Fler grupper lär växa, och fler grupper lär bildas. BDSMF-frågorna är på frammarsch.

Som grundare av Göteborgsgruppen vill jag tacka min efterträdare Christer Lundberg för hans fantastisk insatser. Det är till stor del tack vare honom som detta riksmöte gått från en gemensam dröm till en gemensam verklighet. Det är också han som infört den utmärkta termen BDSMF för vårt sexualpolitiska fält.

Göteborgsgruppens utveckling under hösten är dock inte något som Christer eller någon annan hade kunnat fixa ensam: Ni skall alla ha all heder för era insatser. Nu senast Håkan Antonssons mycket värdefulla arbete med att få gruppen och dess arbetsgrupper att komma igång med Google Groups.

Själv har jag just nu fullt upp i Indonesien, men ser fram emot att återvända i vår. Under tiden finns det mycket att jobba med här. En intressant erfarenhet härifrån är att här inte finns något förtryck mot BDSM-utövare och fetischister som grupp. Att subkulturen måste hålla sig mycket hemlig beror inte på att man utövar BDSM, utan på att här förekommer sexuella möten mellan personer som inte är gifta med varandra.

I Sverige har BDSM och fetischism förtryckts utifrån två normer. Den ena är en norm om att det är okej att knulla runt därför att det är så normalt och naturligt att vara vaniljheterosexuell. En sexuell revolution för mainstreammän, på sexuella minoriteters bekostnad.

Den andra är en mestadels väldigt bra med bitvis väldigt missriktad norm om att man inte får slå varandra. En kvinnofrid baserad på att fördöma specifika handlingar kategoriskt, i stället för att gå till botten med frågor om ömsesidighet, samtycke och makt.

Här i Indonesien har dessa normer inte slagit rot. Kampen för sexuell frihet är på frammarsch, liksom kampen mot sexuella övergrepp och mot våld i nära relationer. Men dessa kamper behöver inte ta de avvägar som de en gång i tiden tog i Sverige. Vi kan få en sexuell revolution som bygger på mångfald. Vi kan få en kvinnofridskamp som bygger på ömsesidighet och samtycke, på Safe, Sane & Consensual.

Låt oss alla kämpa tillsammans för en bättre framtid för alla.
Tack för ordet!

When the truth walks away, Everybody stays
Cause the truth about the world is that crime does pay
So if you walk away, Who is gonna stay
Cause I’d like to think the world is a better place

Offspring, Have you ever

Published in Bahasa Indonesia and in English

Earlier this week I attended the book launching for “After The Commual War” by Patrick Barron, Muhammad Najib Azca and Tri Susdinarjanti. The book is about the riots, murders and other forms of violence done by Christians versus Muslims and vice versa. More to the point, it is about two Indonesian islands. Both of them had a lot of violence between Muslims and Christians by the turn of the millennium. Since then, the island Maluku has continued to experience a lot of violence, while the island North Maluku have had much less violence. What are the relevant similarities and differences between these islands?

The book makes a very interesting study of this issue. How can we understand the violence, or lack thereof?

The concepts of “Muslim” and “Christian”
First of all, why do Muslims and Christians fight each other in the first place? To understand this, we must understand what it means to be a Muslim or Christian: What it means in this context.

The author portray the categories “Muslim” and “Christian” as having very little to do with belief and theology when it comes to violence between these groups. Instead, the two categories are social groups. Family, community and all kinds of social security is organized through these social groups. To make it worse, much of the local society is arranged in a hierarchal structure of patron and client, and this is also arranged by religious lines. To get a job, to get help when you need it, to get protection when you need it, it is all within your own religious category.

Thus, Christians are a threat to Muslims and vice versa: The threat is not about beliefs, it is about resources, security, jobs, and so on. Each group wants to get as big piece of the pie as possible. Two things are at play here. One is a zero-sum game, where any gain for the other group is a loss for your own group. The other is how big the pie itself is. Violence can increase this pie, in the form of relief funds to misuse. There are also many other reasons why random violence can be useful for those who do it and for their leaders.

The concept of elites
The book puts much focus on “elites”, a concept that include official and unofficial leaders on all levels. Violence happens because elites allow or encourage small things to escalate, and they are often the ones who get the violence started in the first place. However, the authors warn against viewing the regular people as passive victims of manipulation. On the contrary, elites are often under pressure from the grassroots. While the book doesn’t go much into the issue of how a person becomes elite or stops being elite, it is obvious from the context that a person can become elite by incite violence. A person stops being elite when he is no longer influential, when he is no longer a mover and shaker in the local community. One of the ways this can happen is to renounce violence without assuming a new powerful role, for example as a politician or peacekeeper.

The usefulness of violence
Hurting someone because he is of a different religious background. Burning down his house. Even killing him. What are the reasons for such barbarism?

According to the book, there are many reasons for such behavior. And that’s without even considering low reasons such as getting an outlet for your hatred, frustration and bigotry. Such factors don’t explain anything in this context, given that the two islands have the same kind of background and population. And they rarely explain much in other contexts either: Putting emphasis on the attacker’s hatred and bigotry may be a good way to condemn his actions, but little else. The book skips such issues entirely, and doesn’t even go into how the children from different religions are effectively taught in school to mistrust each other.

Instead, the book focuses on power and resources. There are many ways to gain or keep power and resources through violence, for example the ones listed below. Which ones of them work depends on the society you live in.

1.If you drive people from their homes, you can often loot those homes and occupy them. An occupied house can often be sold for cash.

2. Destruction is often followed by rebuilding projects and various forms of humanitarian aid. This means money that the elites can take for themselves through corruption, and it also means a lot of legitimate jobs that they can distribute to their followers.

3. If peace efforts include giving jobs to the former combatants, the effect can be that the most efficient way to get a real job is to join a religious militia now, so that you can get de-radicalized and given a job later.

4. Violence by your followers may enhance your position, at the other faction’s expense. But this also means that violence against you or your followers may bolster your rivals, at your expense. Thus you may feel the need to use violence even when you don’t gain anything from it, just to maintain the balance of terror.

5.If there was no violence, the budgets for the military and other relevant institutions will be cut. One of the complaints raised in the book is how the military waits until the problem grows spectacular. Another is about military participating in the violence, supporting one of the two sides – or both sides, with Christian soldiers helping the Christian militia and Muslim soldiers helping the Jihadists.

6. As a politician or businessman, criminal networks and gangs can be useful to have as your allies. Violence between religious groups is often part of the forging of such alliances.

7. Violence can be an efficient distraction from other matters, especially investigations about corruption. If you need the local government to uphold stability, then you’d better not question the intentions and integrity of the local government. The book gives examples of how rumors about the other religious group get started and explode into violence just before efforts against corruption is about to get started. The examples shows how the violence leads to the struggle against corruption gets canceled. And how this isn’t just something that happens once or twice, but how it is a pattern.

8. When business and politics is formed along religious lines, tension between the religious groups is a strong incentive for everyone to keep you in power. For example, it is common that the governor and the vice governor of a region are from different religions – and thus form different political parties, since voting in many regions is mostly divided by religious lines. This means that the risk that something would happen to one of the two politicians is a big threat to jobs et.c for everyone from his religious group. Thus, any accusation of corruption or misuse of power will be met with outrage, no matter how obviously true the charges are.

The key difference between the islands
One of the main differences between the two islands was how the peace was handled. On North Maluku, the peace-building efforts focused more on society as a whole. This proved to be the far more successful strategy. On Maluku, the efforts focused more on the two conflicting factions: Making peace between them, making sure that both The Christians and The Muslims got their fair share.

By appeasing both sides of the conflict, the government tried to buy peace. But peace can never be bought, only built. The deals with the factions have increased the factionalism, and it has also sent a clear message to everyone that crime does indeed pay.

It has been said that conflicts between religious groups is something entirely different from a civil war, but that is not true. The situation in Maluku is very much like a civil war, although between two unofficial states within the states.

To remove the basis for conflict, society must become more integrated. An individual’s participation in society must be based on citizenship, not on religious affiliation.

The authors propose twelve recommendations, divided into three fields. The first three recommendations are about minimizing the benefits of using violence while maximizing the costs of using violence. The following five are about addressing the social bases of violence. The remaining four are about professionalizing the security sector.

1. Prevent the use of funds and distribution of state positions to pay off potential troublemakers.
2.Address the culture of capitulation to threats of violence.
3.Strengthen the investigations of large incidents of violence.
4.Address spatial segregation, the problem that Muslims and Christians live in separate areas – often as a result of previous violence.
5.Invest in serious and systematic programs for dealing with post-conflict trauma.
6.Attempt to delink communal identities from political divides. In other words: Politics, security and distribution of resources should not be about what religion you belong to.
7.Prosecute criminal groups involved in violence.
8.Address youth unemployment.
9.Improve the capacity of police to deal with communal security issues.
10.Work on developing trust in the police.
11.Change the financing of police and military: Better salaries and less side incomes.
12.Change the tolerance for corruption. For example, it should become possible to prosecute policemen in civil court.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not divide people into majorities and minorities. The second article of the declaration tells us that:

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Note that it says “without distinction of any kind, such as race, et.c.”. Not “without the distinctions of race, et.c.”. Thus, the divisions listed are merely examples, without any relevance of their own.

So, what is a minority? And why is it relevant?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives us three definitions if minority, of which the last two are relevant in this context.

a : the period before attainment of majority
b : the state of being a legal minor
the smaller in number of two groups constituting a whole; specifically : a group having less than the number of votes necessary for control
a : a part of a population differing from others in some characteristics and often subjected to differential treatment
b : a member of a minority group

Any group of people can be divided into smaller groups. Often, one such group will be more powerful then another. The more powerful group is often the more numerous one, the majority. This is especially true in a democracy, where political power derives from a mandate from the majority. Democracies are generally far better than dictatorships at protecting minority rights. A dictator who want to stay in power will need scapegoats to direct the people’s anger against, and is likely to use “divide and conquer” strategies – encouraging groups in society to turn against each other so they can’t unify against the oppressive regime. Yet, a democracy needs checks and balances to protect its various minorities. Otherwise there will be cases of the proverbial “two wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for dinner”.

Who is in minority?
Everyone. Every single human being on the planet belongs to multiple minorities. There is no such thing as a normal person. The division into majority and minority is not about people. Instead, it is about categories of people. Categories based on traits. Every human being has millions of traits. It is reasonable to assume that almost every human being on the planet is normal in the statistical sense as well as the normative sense, for most of his or her traits, but not all traits.

For your trait to be normal in the statistical sense is to belong either to the majority or to a very large minority. Your trait is somewhere near the middle of a bell curve.

For your trait to be normal in the normative sense is to belong to what your social context consider socially acceptable. In most cases, all variations are socially accepted. For example, in most cultures it is quite rare to judge someone by their eye color or by how much they like or dislike orange juice. When people judge others based on a trait, they usually accept the majority and condemn the minority. For example, western culture as well as Japanese culture used to condemn people for being left-handed. To primarily use the right hand was not only the most common, but also seen as the only morally acceptable option.

There are also cases where the majority, or even all humans without exceptions, gets stigmatized and considered abnormal in the normative sense. When certain thoughts or feelings is judged as socially unacceptable, people will keep those thoughts and feelings secret, and they will most likely feel guilty about them. They may overcompensate for this guilt by accusing others of having such thoughts and feelings, or by insisting that they would never think or feel such a thing. Nevertheless, they would actually keep having these thoughts and feelings, wrongly believing themselves to belong to a very small minority of wicked people when the truth is that this is something they share with most people.

A trait may not only be constructed as normal or abnormal, it may also be constructed as something that doesn’t really exist or doesn’t really count. For example, intersexual or transsexual individuals can be made invisible by systems enforcing the assumption that everyone is either male or female. This problem exists with all kinds of categorizations. It is what I call “The Universal Group Paradox”, my hypothesis being that all attempts to include all humans “by dividing them into categories and include these categories” is bound to fail – there will always be people who have traits that doesn’t fit the categorization, people who will thus be excluded. People will be excluded, marginalized and discriminated against, without anyone else even noticing. They are “unknown unknowns”, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld:

[T]here are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.

From individual trait to group identity
If certain people shares a trait that is not normal in the statistical sense or not normal in the normative sense, they can be considered a minority. Can be. But should they? To identify them as a minority is to identify them as different, to identify them as outsiders. It may contribute to further stigmatization. On the other hand, group identity can be a very important tool for unifying and standing up against discrimination et.c.

One useful tool for handling this problem can be what Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak used to call “strategic essentialism”: To use group identity, but only as a strategic tool, without getting stuck in essentialism.

When working with minorities, one common way to narrow it down is to only consider groups that have their own organizations based on group identity. For example, “Minority Rights Group International” uses the following operative definition:

Minorities of concern to MRG are disadvantaged ethnic, national, religious, linguistic or cultural groups who are smaller in number than the rest of the population and who may wish to maintain and develop their identity. MRG also works with indigenous peoples.
Other groups who may suffer discrimination are of concern to MRG, which condemns discrimination on any ground. However, the specific mission of MRG is to secure the rights of minorities and indigenous peoples around the world and to improve cooperation between communities.

This definition makes use of the problematic concept of collective will. That an ethnic, national, religious, linguistic or cultural group is capable of having opinions or make wishes. An organization or government can be said to have opinions and wishes, based on documents that has been voted into existence or based on the statements of elected leaders. But to what extent can such a leader really be entitled to speak for everybody?

While the concept is problematic, its use is not necessarily problematic. Not as long the usage is limited and restricted. People who wish to develop a group identity should be free to do so, as long as they are not given reign over the individuals they consider included in their group. Every individual should be free to decide for herself not only what groups or categories she wishes to identify with, but also what this identification means. However, an individualism that doesn’t take social structures into account is equally problematic.

We have thus reached the complex issue of minority rights as “the rights of individuals who are in minority” and “the collective rights of minority groups”. An issue to which I will return in the future.

Last night I visited a political rally in the city Bandung. It was for the upcoming governor election in February. Some islamist group was campaigning in favor of one of the candidates. Beautiful religious music. People chanting and waving various flags, including green ones. People in turbans holding speeches. In the background, three huge screens was pouring out light. The middle screen, three times as big as the side screens combined, showed the candidate or the speaker or both. The side screens were advertising for various sponsors. A bank and a brand of chocolate, among others.

Sadly, we couldn’t stay. I was there together with a coworker, who quickly started to get worried. Some people in the audience was wearing the special clothing of the violent islamist group FPI (Islamic Defender’s Front, and these people was giving us weird looks. What if they thought he looked like a chinese?, my coworker thought. In this context, ”chinese” does not mean person from China. It means Indonesian with ancestors from China. Bigotry and other forms of categorism against this minority is very common here. Or what if they recognized him as human rights activist? Or, I added, what if they simply objected to me being white? We ”bule” are all ”kafir” anyway, right? 😉

In either case, my coworker didn’t feel safe there. So we left. Leaving is so easy. Leaving a political rally or other meeting. Leaving an organization. Even leaving a country. The freedom to leave is a wonderful thing. Don’t get stuck. However. Our individual freedom to leave makes the groups we belong to vulnerable to bullying. When a person or group is trying to gain power over a larger group, it is often efficient to gain and maintain power by making people leave. People who think for themselves, people who have competence and intelligence – better get rid of those, so they can’t challenge your bid for absolute authority over everyone who stays.

In a power struggle between people who get their strength from competence and people who get their strenght from bullying, the bullies often have two great advantages: Their own desperation, and their victim’s lack of desperation. The competent people always have other interesting places to go and often have little to lose by taking their skills elsewhere, while those who rely on bullying or other oppression often have far fewer options.

Today, Freedom House has tweeted a lot about how bad things are in Russia right now. The government is passing laws that brand human rights NGO:s as ”foreign agents”, and make it possible for the government to officially accuse people of ”treason” for even speaking with human rights organizations.

One of these tweets were:

” Susan Corke (@FreedomHouseDC): If #Russia doesn’t allow smart, committed people to continue their work, they won’t stay. #RussianCivSociety ”

I replied:

”@FreedomHouseDC well, that’s the point, isn’t it? Bright people are often easy to get rid of, so they won’t threaten your power. #BrainDrain”

This is true for many countries, including Indonesia. I am worried about the future of the country. There is so much hope for the future, so much that can get better. And there are so many bright people who can change the country for the better. Individuals with intelligence, education and integrity. However, such individuals are often very tired of all the bullshit. They are tired of the corruption and of knowing that they probably won’t get any protection from the police if groups like the FPI target them for harassment. They are tired of the lack of academic freedom, how hard it is to get a job with decent pay, and so on. There is much to be tired of here. Many of the bright young people wants to leave.

Question: What is the difference between the Nazis and the Communists?
Answer: One wanted to kill capitalists because they were Jews, while the other wanted to kill Jews because they were capitalists.

Nazism and Communism: The two most murderous political ideologies in the history of political ideology. These two ideologies both had the same basic principle, the idea that there are two kinds of people in the world – one in-group that we should fight for, and one out-group that we should fight against. This principle appeals to our lowest instincts, our pack mentality.

Us versus them.
Good versus evil.
We that ought to live happily ever after, versus them who should all die.

In this anti-humanistic mindset, genocide is unavoidable once the “good guys” has seized the power.

Of course there is a difference. Nazism was dividing people by race, while communism was dividing them by class. Nazism was trying to fight against the imaginary problem of the global Jewish conspiracy, their scapegoats for the real problem of the humiliating terms of the Versailles peace treaty. Communism was trying to fight against their various scapegoats for the real problem of social injustice. But how relevant is this difference, really? A man who honestly fights for Nazism or Communism will fight against something he believe to be a real problem, using methods he believe to be justified. Calling him evil will not make it easier to understand him, only easier to kill him.

Communism made at least three errors that make their ideology ultimately flawed.

1. They failed to truly fight against oppressive social structures, instead taking the easy way out by labeling people as oppressive and then fight these people. The “our category versus their category” mentality doesn’t solve anything; they just ended up reproducing the social injustices they promised their followers to overthrow.

2. They believed that all of society could be understood and handled through one single theory or ideology. This kind of project is doomed to fail. Reality is far more complex than you could ever squeeze into any abstract theory. Marxist or otherwise.

3. They failed to understand human nature. For starters, they failed to take into account that all humans are fallible. We all have prejudices, we all make mistakes, we all lack overview. We need an open political climate to help each other overcome our flaws. Communism did not have the open respectful democracy that a country must have in order to truly develop. Instead, they reproduced the leader-cult system of empires and theocracies throughout history. They casted themselves as kings by divine providence, using manifest destiny and their fantasies about history as their own version of divinity. In this way, communism was very much a religion. Although not a theistic one like Nazism, which mainly favored Christianity but also had some room for worshipping the Norse Pantheon.

In Sweden and Indonesia, it is still sadly common with unreasonable views on genocides relating to communism. In Indonesia, the 1965 genocide against real and suspected communists is still widely accepted, with strong forces in the government fighting against it being recognized as the crime against humanity that it is. In Sweden, it is instead genocides committed by communist regimes that gets defended or written out of history. There are still many teachers and intellectuals that claim that Communism was good, that it merely failed to do the right thing. Both positions are nonsense.

Communists are humans, just like the rest of us. The Suharto regime didn’t make any serious attempts to deradicalize the communists by civilized means. Instead, it used the threat of communism as an excuse to grab power and oppress the people. Today, Indonesia is recovering from this awful regime. It still faces many problems that were caused or made worse by the dictator and his lackeys.

Communism is not good. The communists committed atrocities because of their ideology, not because of it. Good and evil may be nonsense concepts, but good and bad are not. Communism was a bad ideology, and its crimes against humanity should not be excused or kept from the public.

The basic distinction to make is the one between communists and communism. Communists are human beings with human rights. Their belief in an ideology, no matter how flawed, does not change that. Communism, on the other hand, is an ideology. It is not ideologies, religions and other beliefs that have rights, it is their followers that do.

Categorism has different forms, such as racism and homophobia. It also has different expressions, such as prejudice and discrimination. There is also the categorization problem: Categories as such are always more or less arbitrary, so we must always consider why a certain division of people is made, by who, and on who’s expense.

Today I am going to talk about the forms of categorism. The word ”forms” here is a bit awkward, but I don’t find a better word. At first I was calling it ”targetings” instead, but I think that’s even more awkward. Anyway. Some common forms of categorism are:

* Racism
* Sexism
* Homophobia
* Paraphobia
* Transphobia
* Ableism
* Ageism
* Antisemitism
* Antimuslimism
* Categorism versus atheists
* Categorism versus religions and other beliefs

The last two are in desperate need of good titles. The one prior to that already has a good title, antimuslimism. However, it also has a bad title, the name ”islamophobia”. There are those who are trying to give ”categorism versus atheists” the title ”atheophobia”. However, this name is awful in the same ways and for the same reasons as the name ”Islamophobia”. I will return to why these names are bad. But first, a brief summary of the forms I listed.

This is categorism based on dividing people by race, ethnicity, color of skin, nationality, geographical ancestry, or whatever you call it.

This is the most classic form of categorism. Thus, people who don’t know the word categorism, or don’t expect their audience to know it, often call other forms of categorism ”racism against [category/categorization]”. For example, ageism is sometimes called ”age racism”. In Sweden, the word ”åldersrasism” is still more famous than ”ålderism”, but the later word is gaining.

This is categorism based on gender. The most famous forms are misogyny and misoandry: Bigotry against women and men respectively. Note that the ”sex” in ”sexism” means ”gender”, not ”intercourse” or ”sexy”. That something is sexy or sexualized does not make it sexist. Portraying a woman as sexy is not automatically sexist in itself, but become sexist in at least two situations.

One is individual cases when you interview a female politician, activist, scientist or similar, and focus on her looks instead of her works. Would you seriously do that if she were a man? Second, we also have a sexist social structure, where men gets portrayed for their works while women gets portrayed for their looks. This structure is problematic even if many of the individual cases are totally unproblematic as individual cases. While media should keep portraying some women as sexy sometimes, it really should portray more women for their works and more men for their looks. Even things out a bit.

Categorism versus homosexuals. To a large extent including categorism versus bisexuals, but other sexual minorities are not included. That is why we need the word paraphobia.

Categorism versus sexual minorities. ”Para” stands for ”paraphilia”.

Categorism versus transgender people – transsexuals, intersexuals, genderqueer people, and so on. Note that this is about gender, not about sexuality. Thus, it is a kind of sexism rather than a kind of paraphobia. However, transphobia and homophobia can overlap, since it’s often the same accusation of ”not being a real man”.

Categorism against people who have disabilities. Often in the form of ”categorism through exclusion”, making them invisible by overtly taking for granted that everybody has the same physical capabilities. For a good satire of how disabilities are a part of the social environment (including architecture) rather than of the person, see the handisam job interview.

Categorism based on age. Often in the form of prejudice and discrimination against young people, against old people, or both. Can also take the form of a ”separate but equal” kind of apartheid, where it is considered wierd or even immoral of adults from different generations to be friends (or worse yet lovers).

Note that it is not ageism to deny children the same responsibilities and rights as adults, since children genuinely ARE different in relevant ways. While even babies should be given some little level of freedom to crawl around the floor as they please, both freedom and responsibility has to be introduced gradually as the person grows in maturity. Generally speaking, discrimination is undue different treatment, not diferent treatment as such.

Categorism against Jews. This include not only targets who are of the Jewish faith, but also people who are ethnic Jews. It also include expressions of categorism against individuals who are mistaken for being Jews. For example, it is antisemitism to hate the non-jewish CEO of a bank, if you base that hatred on the belief that he is a lackey of the global Jewish conspiracy ZOG, ”the Zionistic Occupation Government”.

The same thing as antisemitism, except that it is directed against Muslims rather than Jews. Just like antisemitism, the targets are not only Muslims, but anyone accused of being a Muslim or being a lackey of the global Islamic conspiracy. Currently growing as wildfire in Europe, as old racist organizations has switched target from the Jews to the Muslims – and gained some undeserved public recognition in the process.

Categorism versus atheists
Around the world, especially in countries such as USA and Indonesia, there is a constant persecution of Atheists. Many preachers are spreading lies about Atheists being immoral (or even incapable of having any morality), portraying them as pitiful creatures living meaningless lives. Atheists sometimes gets mistaken for communists, and thus wrongly accused of being against democracy. Indonesia and some of the USA states has laws that discriminate against Atheists. In Indonesia, we even have a case where a civil servant named Alexander Aan got beat up by a mob because he’s an Atheist. The police and court did not take any action against the mob, but instead sentenced Aan to two and a half year in prison for having angered the mob.

We really need a good word for categorism versus atheists.

Categorism versus religions and other beliefs
We also need a general word for categorism versus religions and other beliefs. This word must include categorism versus atheists, it must not be restricted to only religions.

The problem with words such as Islamophobia and Atheophobia
It must be okay to disagree with Islam, Atheism, or any other system of belief. However, this disagreement should be made without making generalizations about Muslims, Atheists or whatever.

The same religion means very different things to different people, and we can’t assume that everyone else see things the same way as we do.

Muslims and Atheists can get discriminated against, bullied, or even murdered. We need to defend them from this, because they are human beings with human rights. It is Muslims and Atheists we need to defend, not Islam and Atheism. Defending a faith or system of beliefs is up to its followers, and they are free to fight for it as long as they don’t violate anyone in the process. (And no, to disagree with people is not to violate them.)

Above I have mentioned some of the most common and most important forms of categorism. However, they are only examples. Categorism can be based on any category or any categorization. Bullies can make up new excuses as they go along, and hate groups will keep switching targets until they find victims the public will let them get away with attacking. When people start to realize that this target wasn’t okay either, the hate group will eventually move on to the next group of victims, without even skipping a beat or changing the rhetoric. The book ”American Fascists” tells us that the old preachers who spread hatred against homosexuals are the same individuals who in their youth used to spread hatred against Afro-Americans.