Monday, 15 January 2007

The Antipathy against Exclusiveness

I have never heard a satisfactory answer to the question of what is wrong with exclusiveness per se, and yet it is a common enough — one might say, thoughtless enough — assumption nowadays that there is something wrong with it. The answer usually comes as a restatement of the assumption: “Well, it excludes people, and that’s bad”. The ostensible concern, I presume, is that no one should be excluded from society, or some part thereof, if he does not wish to be [1]; but that does not explain the antipathy against exclusiveness per se. This antipathy is a curious phenomenon, and a destructive one too, as Richard Weaver noted:
The questioning of apartness, the suspicion of difference, the distrust of distinction, the jealousy about allowing privacy—these are all features of a modern mentality which, often without even knowing what it is doing, may put an end to what has always been the source of culture — a particular kind of development in response to particular values. Thus the plight of the individual is re-enacted on a larger scale. Not only is the single human individual being pushed toward conformity, but the individual group or culture is met with the same demand to go along, to become more like the generality, and so give up character. [2]
Perhaps once again we see the insatiable nature of power, which lusts for the inclusion of everything, such that an ostensible concern for the inclusion of everyone can become the insistence that no one may set himself apart.
.....
[1] The belief that no one should be unwillingly excluded from society, or some part thereof, has its own problems.
[2] R.M. Weaver, “Reflections of Modernity”, Speeches of the Year, Pamphlet, (Provo: Brigham Young University, 1961), reprinted in In Defense of Tradition: Collected Shorter Writings of Richard M. Weaver, 1929-1963, ed. by T.J. Smith III (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000), p.113.

21 comments:

dearieme said...

Groucho should have said "I don't want to be a member of a club that doesn't want me as a member".

David Duff said...

As a lower-middle-class oik, I have always yearned slightly to be part of something 'exclusive'. I thought I had found it some years back when I was flown out with others to the Carlton Hotel in Cannes to celebrate a rich friend's birthday party. During the dinner, I excused myself and wandered down a lobby when I heard a bit of a commotion from the Bar. Pushing open the door I was hit with the sound of a raucus East End song being roared out by a room full of Brits swigging pints of beer. Enquiries with the concierge elicited the information that it was the "Sun Readers' Punters Club" down for the race meeting at Nice.

I came to the conclusion that there was nothing exclusive anymore except possibly this study in which I sit - with a loaded shotgun in case some bugger tries to get in!

Cirdan said...

1.1. I’m not entirely clear what your complaint is, but it appears you’re conflating apartness and exclusion.

1.2. Being a recognised member of some community is a necessary condition for some important goods – language, friendship, family life, whatever. It is unclear just what you take people to mean by exclusion, though, admittedly, it’s a word whose meaning is vague. At a minimum, however, exclude is usually a transitive verb. So one assumes, reasonably enough, that exclusion refers to x’s active denial of y’s right of access to membership of some community. Exclusion of that sort can be severely harmful. The usual sense of apartness doesn’t entail an active denial of rights of access to community membership. So there isn’t the same presumption that some harm is in progress. It is not obvious why those who want an end to exclusion as defined above are, or are likely to become, incipient totalitarians.

Deogolwulf said...

“[I]t appears you’re conflating apartness and exclusion.”

One need think only of Gordon Brown’s words the other day, for example. The wish that no one be excluded has become the wish that no one may set himself apart.

“The usual sense of apartness doesn’t entail an active denial of rights of access to community membership.”

Wishing to be apart implies that a man wishes to exclude others in the case that they wish to join him or have him joined to them. If he acts on this, he actively denies access to those who wish to join him or make him join them. An end to exclusion (the end of an active denial of access) means that no one may set himself apart (deny access to others) in the case that others wish to join him (or have him joined to them).

dearieme said...

"y’s right of access to membership of some community": why assume that y has any such "right"? Who is to be obliged to provide such a right and on whose say so?

Pietr said...

The psychological root of the problem(which the naysayers abuse in order to exploit), is that many people possess some dimly remembered event in their childhood, some time in which they were excluded from something they wished to be a part of.
The healthy response would have been to regard this exclusion as the other's loss.
The problem arises when artificial social spheres are created in artificial circumstances, ie schools, when people are excluded with no nod and no wink on the basis of their best qualities; at this stage it is a stone's throw to making these people hate all forms of exclusiveness.
The only lesson that it would be right to teach is that there is nothing worth belonging to that we can't create for ourselves just as well, but if there is, we have no right to expect inclusion.

Cirdan said...

[Entailment] p entails q if and only if there is no case in which p is true and q is not.

1.3. By Entailment, apartness entails exclusion if and only if there is no case in which apartness holds and exclusion does not. But x and y may be apart simply through lack of proximity, desire, or interest. None of these require positive action to exclude on the part of either x or y. Therefore x and y can be apart without any positive action on the part of either x or y. Therefore apartness does not entail exclusion.

1.4. Your argument above is not apt for showing that apartness entails exclusion. At very best, all you’ve shown is the following: if (apartness and the desire of others to join) then (exclusion). That’s a long way from showing that apartness entails positive action to exclude. It’s both curious and revealing that you cast the issue in terms of wishes: one can wish that p without intending, or even desiring, that p (vide St. Augustine: ‘Lord grant me chastity and continence but not yet’).

1.5. However, your argument does not go through. Wishing to be apart does not entail a wish to exclude: x may be separate from others and may wish this state of affairs to continue, without knowing that y is nearby (he may be on the other side of the desert island). The possibility of being joined by y is not salient for him, therefore he cannot be said to have the intention to act so as to exclude y.

Cirdan said...

[why assume that y has any such "right"? Who is to be obliged to provide such a right and on whose say so?]

1.6. There are essential goods which are unobtainable without participation in a community: language, family life, whatever. One has a right to these basic goods. One has a right to that which is necessary to exercise one's rights. Thus, one has a right to the community membership without which the basic goods cannot be exercised. The relevant community has the duty to allow the exercise of this right. A family which prevents its child from participating in its life, or a community that refuses to teach its children the relevant language, have obviously failed to satisfy a basic duty to those children.

Deogolwulf said...

Have you been at the wine, Cirdan?

"Your argument above is not apt for showing that apartness entails exclusion."

I haven't put forward an argument that apartness entails exclusion.

You say that:

"x and y may be apart simply through lack of proximity, desire, or interest."

Did you not read the bit where I wrote:

"Wishing to be apart implies that a man wishes to exclude others *in the case that* they wish to join him or have him joined to them."

You say:

"At very best, all you’ve shown is the following: if (apartness and the desire of others to join) then (exclusion)."

Good for me!

You continue:

"[O]ne can wish that p without intending, or even desiring, that p"

Presumably you missed the bit where I wrote:

"If he acts on this [wish], . . ."

You continue:

"x may be separate from others and may wish this state of affairs to continue, without knowing that y is nearby (he may be on the other side of the desert island). The possibility of being joined by y is not salient for him, therefore he cannot be said to have the intention to act so as to exclude y."

X may be doing all sorts of things if you've taken out all the qualifiers! But, if "[x] wishes to exclude [y] in the case that [y] wish[es]to join him . . . and [i]f [x] acts on this, [x] actively denies access to [excludes][y] who wish[es] to join him.... An end to exclusion (the end of an active denial of access) means that [x] may [not] set himself apart (deny access to others) in the case that [y] wish[es] to join him ...."

Cirdan said...

1.7. The key move in your argument in the post is:

1. Weaver has shown that (questioning of apartness, the suspicion of difference, the distrust of distinction, the jealousy about allowing privacy) is destructive (of the source of culture).
2. Antipathy to exclusiveness per se is destructive.

1.8. The move from (1) to (2) requires that one of Weaver’s claims is equivalent to your own, or else you’re changing the subject mid-argument. You say ‘This antipathy is a curious phenomenon, and a destructive one too, as Richard Weaver noted’. In that sentence, this refers to the antipathy to exclusiveness. That is why you’re committed to an equivalence between at least one of Weaver’s claims and your own.

1.8.1. Which is the equivalent claim? The passage you go on to quote from Weaver mentions the questioning of apartness, the suspicion of difference, the distrust of distinction and jealousy about allowing privacy. I take it, however, you’re concerned with the questioning of apartness, since that’s what you mention in your final sentence in the post. In any case: you later defend what looks very like an equivalence between apartness and exclusion in your 4.54 comment; and neither the suspicion of difference, the distrust of distinction, nor the jealousy about allowing privacy are more likely than the questioning of apartness to be equivalent to antipathy to exclusiveness.

1.9. So your argument only goes through if the claim about apartness entails an antipathy to exclusiveness per se. Manifestly, that is not the case. The argument in the post fails.

2. Let us suppose that you have successfully defended the following premiss:

[P] If (apartness and the desire of others to join) then (exclusion)

2.1. In the post, you argue that the source of the antipathy to exclusiveness is the (will to) power’s desire to include everything. Social life is essential to a properly human life - vide Aristotle in Polis: ‘he who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god...’ Social life rests on the desire of persons to join in shared activity. Therefore, there are obvious, non-will-to-power reasons to be wary of an antipathy to the exercise of a normal human desire. Hence, if P is true, then your analysis in the post is almost certainly false.

Deogolwulf said...

“1.7. The key move in your argument in the post is:

1. Weaver has shown that (questioning of apartness, the suspicion of difference, the distrust of distinction, the jealousy about allowing privacy) is destructive (of the source of culture).
2. Antipathy to exclusiveness per se is destructive.”

No, Cirdan. It is you who have deftly constructed this argument. The key moves in my post are:

1. Statement: Antipathy against exclusiveness per se is destructive.

2. Cited statement in illustration: Antipathy against apartness (etc) is destructive.

3. Unstated Assumption: The antipathy against exclusiveness per se (where everything must be included and nothing excluded) entails the antipathy against apartness; for to be against the exclusiveness of anything – that is, to be for the inclusiveness of everything – entails to be against apartness in all cases.

4. Supposition: The nature of power is such that - assuming it acts upon its antipathy to exclusiveness per se - it seeks the inclusion of everything such that nothing may be apart.

You may do me the honour of answering the question: if everything is included, is anything apart? I doubt that even you could answer in the affirmative.

On a further note, I am not quite sure what you are driving at in 2.1. How is it relevant to the argument? Two groups may wish to live apart, and each acts thereon to exclude members of the other group wishing to join it. These two groups are two societies of individuals. In this picture, no one is living outside a society. I fail to see the relevance of your point. But then, perhaps I fail to understand what you mean.

james higham said...

Oh, if you only knew how vigorously I underscore every word in this post.

Cirdan said...

2.1. The dispute, by now, is familiar.

In your 3.47 above, you concede that your argument relies on the following entailment claim:
[C] antipathy to exclusiveness per se entails antipathy to apartness.

I argue as follows: antipathy to exclusiveness does not entail antipathy to apartness. Therefore, C is false, so your argument fails.

2.1.1. If x excludes y, x acts to prevent y from gaining access to a community of which x is a member. Exclusion requires action. Exclusiveness is, variously, the state of, or quality of, or tendency to, exclusion. However, x and y can be apart without any action on the part of either x or y: x and y may be apart through lack of proximity, desire or interest. Therefore, it is possible for exclusiveness to be false and apartness to obtain. Therefore, exclusiveness does not entail apartness. Therefore, an antipathy to exclusiveness does not entail an antipathy to apartness. Since the argument in your post requires an entailment between antipathy to exclusiveness and antipathy to apartness (C), the argument in the post fails.

2.1.2. Note also that attitudes do not (necessarily) transmit across logical entailment: Lois Lane loves Superman; Superman is identical to Clark Kent, therefore being Superman logically entails being Clark Kent; famously, however, Lois Lane loved Superman but did not love Clark Kent.

2.1.3. You construe the suppressed premiss as follows:

Unstated Assumption: The antipathy against exclusiveness per se (where everything must be included and nothing excluded) entails the antipathy against apartness; for to be against the exclusiveness of anything – that is, to be for the inclusiveness of everything – entails to be against apartness in all cases.

2.1.4. It is unclear whether you intend the second clause of Unstated Assumption to justify the claim in the first. Let us suppose you do. To exclude is, roughly, to act to bring about separation. To include is, roughly, to act to bring about union. Consequently, the negation of exclude is not to act so as to bring about separation, while the negation of include is not to act so as to bring about union. Neither negation entails the opposing affirmation, exclude and include are contraries, rather than contradictories. Hence, opposing exclusiveness does not entail affirming inclusiveness. Assume that affirming inclusiveness entails opposing apartness. Then, opposing exclusiveness does not entail opposing apartness. Therefore, the supporting argument - if that is what it was - for Unstated Assumption fails.

Since you offer no further support for Unstated Assumption, the argument in the post is not compelling.

Cirdan said...

2.1.5. Consider Supposition:

Supposition The nature of power is such that - assuming it acts upon its antipathy to exclusiveness per se - it seeks the inclusion of everything such that nothing may be apart.

Social life is both necessary and good for human beings. Exclusiveness hampers, distorts, and (eventually) destroys social life. Therefore, the preservation and strengthening of social life is an obvious motive to oppose exclusiveness. It is by far the most important, and the most prevalent, motive for opposing exclusiveness. It is distinct from the will to power. While it is true that the will to power is one of the reasons for opposing exclusiveness, it is equally true that the will to power is not the only, or the main, or the most important, reason for opposing exclusiveness. Does Supposition imply that the will to power is the main, the only, or the most important reason to oppose exclusiveness? Then it is false. Does Supposition imply that the will to power is one of the motives for opposing exclusiveness? Then it is false. That is the point of (the poorly-expressed) 2.1.

Cirdan said...

This:
Does Supposition imply that the will to power is the main, the only, or the most important reason to oppose exclusiveness? Then it is false. Does Supposition imply that the will to power is one of the motives for opposing exclusiveness? Then it is false.

should be:

Does Supposition imply that the will to power is the main, the only, or the most important reason to oppose exclusiveness? Then it is false. Does Supposition imply that the will to power is one of the motives for opposing exclusiveness? Then it is trivial.

Fred S. said...

Deogolwulf,
I fear the situation is more varied (and much worse) than you describe. Under the ethos of multiculturalism, every little group is permitted to maintain (and, in the case of Muslims, intensify) their backward and monstrous practices within the confines of most Western nations. At the same time, all male clubs have gender integration forced down their throats. Once again, the Left mandates that there be one rule for the peasants and one for the kulaks.

Fred S. said...

Mr. Bronstein,

It's rare (outside of the academy) to see such prodigious intellect coupled with such limited understanding. It seems apparent to me, at least wthin mainstream society, that various types of traditional exclusiveness are under unprecedented assault (the aristocracy, private clubs, elite universities, etc.). Even that most basic principle of civil society, the exclusion of criminals from the larger community, is tottering. Many of these exclusivist tendencies (especially the last one) are tremndously beneficial.

Broadly speaking, these are the reflections of the general levelling, jealous impulse which Deogolwulf criticizes. How exactly does arguing against the criticism of exclusion qua exclusion indicate that he would support (say) parents excluding children from the family home?

Deogolwulf said...

“x and y can be apart without any action on the part of either x or y: x and y may be apart through lack of proximity, desire or interest. Therefore, it is possible for exclusiveness to be false and apartness to obtain. Therefore, exclusiveness does not entail apartness. Therefore, an antipathy to exclusiveness does not entail an antipathy to apartness.”

You’re right that antipathy to exclusiveness per se does not entail antipathy to apartness per se, but, as I indicated in previous comments, we are talking about the cases of apartness where there is desire for one party to join another that wishes to remain apart, in which case antipathy to exclusiveness per se does entail antipathy to apartness. I have, however, argued it very poorly, and you are right to call me to account, especially on my “Unstated Assumption” (more of which later). Anyway, here is something a little more clearly expressed:

If a & b exclude y & z from R, then a & b act to prevent the entrance of y & z into R, where R is the community to which a & b belong. If a & b are not permitted to exclude y & z from R, then a & b are not permitted to act to prevent the entrance of y & z into R, and if y & z wish and act thereon to become members of R, then y & z become members of R against the wishes of a & b. Thus, antipathy against exclusiveness per se entails antipathy against a & b’s excluding y & z from R which entails antipathy against a & b’s being apart in the case that y & z wish to join them.

As for my “Unstated Assumption”, you are right: it is very sloppy, illogical thinking, My humble apologies. As for my “Supposition”, I cannot see that you have made a compelling case for its triviality.

Two further points, by the by:

If we are to talk of rights, do people not have the right to exclude those with whom they do not wish to associate, or must everyone be part of the same union whether they wish to be or not?

Is not the protection of privacy a form of exclusiveness? (One acts to prevent others from having access to whatever it is that one wishes to keep apart, that is, private.) To be against exclusiveness per se (i.e., in all its forms) is to be against the protection of privacy.

How could anything be nurtured as a particularity if it must be subject to the generality?

Cirdan said...

Deogol,

Sorry for the delay. Your latest version of the argument seems entirely sound. Also, my tone in some comments earlier was slightly sharper than it ought to have been. Sorry.

As to your two final questions, might I ask you to look at Rob Jubb's interesting post here?

Deogolwulf said...

That's quite all right, Cirdan; a little stern rebuke is just what I needed. Besides, I set the tone with the jibe about the wine (written with a kindly glint in the eye, of course).

Deogolwulf said...

I shall read Mr Jubb's post, by the way.