2022-08-08 Teri Kanefield on the purpose of government

Teri Kanefield (@Teri_Kanefield): I think I do. Can I give it a shot?

It has to do with the purpose of government.

For some people (like us) purpose of government is to help people. We think fairness is possible, and that the government's job is to try to create fairness.

Others have a different worldview.

1/ https://twitter.com/JoyceWhiteVance/status/1556372038008332290

Hierarchy people, in contrast, think there’s a natural order: Some people belong on top. Others are at the bottom.

They think that people with money and power have that money and power because they deserve it.


An example: The white supremacy theories that informed the Confederacy.

Hierarchy people don’t believe equality is possible because they don’t think people are equal.

They think the purpose of government is to allocate power and maintain the hierarchy.


When a government helps people, they think the government is taking away from the “makers” and giving to the undeserving.

When people lower than them on the hierarchy demand equality, they think those people want to “replace” them.


Nineteenth-century America was a strict hierarchy (specifically, a patriarchy) with white men at the top and Black women at the bottom.

White women were kept out of the professions which kept them dependent on men, which gave men control over them.


Nineteenth-century laws reinforced the hierarchy.

For example, rape laws were designed to protect (white) men from false accusations. They weren't designed to protect women from attack. Rapes were evaluated based on where the victim and attacker were on the hierarchy.


I won't go into the details of rape laws, but you get the idea. I'll add, though, that the laws were based on the idea that men were natural aggressors and the woman's job was to guard the good.

Then along came the Civil Rights and women's rights movements . . .


      • and the patriarchy was smashed.

We're riding the backlash.

The current GOP wants to go back to the good old days of the patriarchy.

That's why they want to outlaw abortion, make medicine expensive, and dismantle the regulatory agencies created by the New Deal.


If you take a long view of history and consider how long we lived in a patriarchy (from the before start of the nation until the past few decades and we're still not out of it yet) you can see how rapid the changes have been.

The rapid changes have unsettled some people.


They really think the liberals are destroying everything good about America.

(And now I've written my blog post for next weekend so what will I do with my spare time this week?)


Precisely: Lots of poor Whites supported the confederacy, which put power into the hands of a very few men (not them).

But think of it: They had no trouble getting a woman.

Women literally couldn't say no because they had no options. . .



      • and if a woman got raped, it was seen as her fault. Even after the Civil War, the rape of a Black woman wasn't seen as a crime.

Men could grab what they wanted and women had no choice but to get married.


Someone just said, "My GOP friends don't think this way."

@TimothyDSnyder offers an explanation for how people come to support hierarchal leaders.

When fairness leaders are in power, they try to create fairness . . .


    • they do things like try to make sure everyone has healthcare and inexpensive medications.

OK, so if leaders don’t govern in the usual sense (devising policy to better the lives of the citizens) what do they do all day?


They create crisis and spectacle!

GOP members have said that if they come to power, they will impeach Biden and Garland. (Spectacle)

They identify enemies and promise to “neutralize” the enemies. The play on people's fears.


So glad you asked! See my list of things to do. (Link in the next tweet). https://twitter.com/AgnesAnneM/status/1556428043555667969

Think of history as a push and pull. The liberals and progressives push us forward. The reactionaries and regressives push us backward.


Hierarchy people have always been with us. They were in favor of slavery and racial segregation and women in the home.

When we create fairness and equality, they try to roll it back.

It's constant work. https://terikanefield.com/things-to-do/


One bit of advice not on my to-do list: Hold on to your ideals.

The hierarchal worldview is deeply cynical. The fairness view is idealistic.

We can never have perfect fairness, so fairness people run the danger of becoming cynical. Positive change requires ideals.


So don't get cynical.

Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream.

He probably had a few nightmares as well, but it was his dreams that inspired people to work for a better country.


Totally agree. Idealism has to be rooted in reality.

The belief that change can happen all at once is completely unrealistic and leads to cynicism.

History teaches us that change happens slowly and with great effort because there is always pushback. https://twitter.com/boardingsoon/status/1556449445713252353 20/

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