Statement of Principles

I have tried, for some time now, to avoid spending my time responding to slander. To a large degree I felt, and continue to feel, that anyone who actually reads what I’ve written or engages with any of the art I’ve produced, will realize that such accusations are absurd; doubly so because my work has, if anything, been noted for its dedication to principles of equality. I know most of you see the claims made against me as the laughable attempts at smearing someone that they are.

However, the truth is that these individuals have considerably more power and attention than I do, and as such their slander may come to define the impression that many people have of me, particularly in the field of computer games. Given especially that these people are associated with non-mainstream gaming, as am I, this can pose a serious threat to my ability to continue making games and reach a friendly audience.

So, for the purpose of clarity, I would like to state some things about how I approach the world.

First, the basics:

  • I believe all human beings deserve protection from harm.
  • I believe all human beings deserve shelter.
  • I believe all human beings deserve nourishment.
  • I believe all human beings deserve access to the highest standard of medical care available to our species.
  • I believe all human beings deserve an education.
  • I believe all human beings deserve freedom of speech.
  • I believe all human beings deserve freedom of religion, so long as their religion does not infringe on the rights of others.
  • I believe all human beings deserve access to art and entertainment.
  • I believe all human beings have the right to be recognized as individuals, irrespective of various characteristics.
  • I believe all human beings have the right to love whoever they love.
  • I believe all human beings have the right to live their lives as they see fit, as long as they do not harm others.
  • I believe the economic and political system we live in is required to provide these things, or be considered inadequate.
  • I believe we are technologically capable of providing all of the above without all that much effort.

Now, about the current (highly inadequate) system:

  • I believe that our economic system defines the totality of our social relations. Not just in capitalism, but always.
  • I believe that social antagonisms are rooted in economic inequality and serve to reinforce systems of oppression.
  • I believe that we are on the brink of global social, economic and especially ecological collapse.
  • I believe that meaningful change can only occur through a democratic mass movement aimed at radically altering the fundamental principles by which our economy is organized.
  • I do not believe that this change can occur through creating “a better capitalism” and other similar constructs promoted by liberal (progressive capitalist) groups.

However, contrary to accusations, I also believe that:

  • Racism is a very real problem.
  • Sexism is a very real problem.
  • Many other forms of discrimination are also a problem.

The difference between the point of view of socialists like myself and that of “social justice activists” and related identitarian groups is that:

  • I believe that economic injustice (class, not classism) is not only the problem faced by the majority of humans today (the 99%, to use a modern term) but also the problem that underlies all the others.
  • I don’t believe social antagonisms can be eradicated without eradicating economic injustice.
  • I believe that attempts to eradicate social antagonisms without eradicating the underlying systems of economic injustice ultimately serve to reinforce the system of oppression by integrating a small section of oppressed social groups into capitalism while maintaining divisions between the oppressed (the majority of every population).
  • I believe that organizing around various concepts of identity is counter-productive, as it reinforces the divisions between people with the same interests.
  • I believe that many of the problems that appear as related to a particular form of discrimination are actually fundamentally economic (see the debate about identity and disability).
  • I don’t believe that guilt is a political emotion.
  • I don’t believe in ideological purity or in utopia; the point is to create a better system, one that minimizes suffering and promotes human potential, not to “get along” or to perfect human society.
  • I believe that the fight is not between the oppressed and society but between society (all of us) and the system.
  • I believe that organizing around objective material conditions is the only way to build a genuine mass movement.

This perspective is strongly influenced by history:

  • I believe there is an obvious connection between the present financial crisis and the rise of far-right politics, the media propaganda against immigrants and the poor, and the general xenophobia promoted by the establishment.
  • I believe an analysis of previous crises of a similar nature in the past irrefutably demonstrates the role played by ideologies of division in maintaining the existing order.
  • I believe the history of nationalism in Europe, not only in the two World Wars but also in the various movements of national liberation, shows how even an identity constructed against a backdrop of oppression will destroy diversity and allow the system to perpetuate itself with a slightly different face.
  • I believe it is important to remember that some of the most radical changes in women’s rights were accomplished by the early (non-Stalinist) Soviet Union.
  • I believe it is important to remember the lessons of the Civil Rights struggle in America; Martin Luther King’s increasing belief in the necessity of uniting for economic rights and Malcolm X’s rejection of the racist politics of the Nation of Islam and embrace of an internationalist perspective both point to the necessity of organizing along global economic lines.
  • I believe it is extremely necessary to examine and learn from world history, to avoid a perspective built entirely along the social divisions of one particular time and place. (On the internet this usually comes down to a US-centric or eurocentric perspective, though similar forms of self-centered thinking are far from exclusive to those parts of the world.)

One thing that this group of people finds particularly appalling is that I do not accept their terminology:

  • I do not believe that “privilege” is a helpful term or one that accurately describes the inequality that exists in our society.
  • I believe the privilege discourse is essentially a form of victim-blaming, in which one group of victims is elevated to being more deserving of equality than the other.
  • I do not believe in a determinist understanding of social origin in which all people from one category are inherently sexist or racist.
  • I believe in rights, not privileges. Not being harmed is not a privilege, it is a right. If one person is harmed and another is not, the blame should go to the one causing the harm.
  • I do not believe that racism comes down to a simplistic black-white dichotomy.
  • I especially do not believe that such a dichotomy can be applied to countries that are historically unrelated to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and/or colonialism and thus have no conception of “whiteness” to begin with.
  • I do not believe that “patriarchy” is a useful term (except in its very specific original meaning) and that sexism should be understood as the enforcement of gender stereotypes, not “male privilege”.
  • I believe that sexism has historically oppressed men and women equally, by forcing both to live their lives in highly circumscribed ways, subjecting women to servitude at home and men to servitude both at work and in the battlefield. To ignore either side of the equation is to ignore the suffering of billions.

Essentially:

  • I believe the most urgent need of our time is to change the economic system we live in, before the inevitable crises produced by the current one annihilate us.
  • I believe sexism and racism can only be fought by deconstructing the fictional borders that fuel them, and that uniting people in the fight for better material conditions is actually the best, possibly the only, way of destroying the arbitrary divisions that have socially enslaved every member of this species for so long.
  • I also believe that attacking sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination at every opportunity (as false divisions, not via the guilt-based privilege discourse) is essential to building a mass movement; this interlocks with the point above.
  • In other words, I am calling for a transcultural, internationalist approach to the fight for equality.

It should also be noted, however, that:

  • I could be wrong.
  • You could be wrong.
  • Being in error is not a sin.
  • Disagreement is not a sign of moral degeneration.
  • It is extremely destructive to claim that all those who oppose one’s methods or analyses oppose the very notion of equality or justice.

This is all very abstract, as one would expect from a summary. But you will find that wherever I have argued in favour of these ideas, I have provided detailed arguments for my position, and I have written many long and thorough explanations of individual points on this list, drawing on a global tradition of thought that includes people of all genders, sexes, sexual preferences, classes, colours, and so on.

To be entirely clear, I do not object to people thinking that I am wrong; I do object to the notion that these principles mean I am a sexist, a racist, a “manarchist” or any other such thing. I also object to attacks on my moral character (such as calling me a “creeper”) on the basis of these principles. If you dislike me because I once criticized an article written by one of your friends, fine, but do not pretend it is anything other than a petty personal vendetta. If you simply disagree with my positions, that’s fine too – either ignore me or talk to me. You’re not required to engage in debate, but responding to disagreement with slander is rather low.