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5.6.06

Egalitarian Geeks

This Geek Social Fallacies list is very interesting -- it's practically a field guide to the pathologies of the Egalitarian (in the GGCT sense) way of life. Just as GGCT would predict, geeks -- feeling oppressed and shut out by the system -- take refuge in an Egalitarian form of organization. Yet any form of organization can, when taken to extremes, go bad. The fallacies identified by the article are:

1. Ostracizers Are Evil
2. Friends Accept Me As I Am
3. Friendship Before All
4. Friendship Is Transitive
5. Friends Do Everything Together


Fallacies 3, 4, and 5 are straightforward manifestations of the "high group" character of Egalitarianism, in which solidarity with the group takes precedence over forming outside connections and individual choices. Fallacy 2, and to an extent Fallacy 1, reflect the tendency for Egalitarian groups to be highly conflict-averse, lest disagreements jeopardize the equality of all members, and because no clear decision-making structure exists for resolving a conflict once it boils over. (Note that Egalitarians are also prone to the reverse pathology -- getting bogged down in endless discussion in search of an elusive non-coercive consensus.)

Fallacy 1 is especially interesting to me, and not only because it's the one I'm most prone to*. There's a tendency in theoretical discussions for descriptions of Egalitarianism to focus on the boundedness of Egalitarian groups -- the way they draw a sharp, and restrictive, line between the select few insiders and the heathen outside. There are some tendencies toward this in the Fallacies list, as the other fallacies are described as leading to schisms when commitment to shared group solidarity is not total. But Fallacy 1 represents the opposite tendency -- a universalizing impulse that insists on bringing everyone into the group.

*In my case, I think it's more a function of being less bothered by offensive people than others are, rather than a moral compunction about ostracizing those who are truly offensive.

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