FOR equality of opportunity

Chris Dillow has written an interesting blog arguing against equality of opportunity.

In short, his four points are:
1. It’s infeasible.
2. It’s insufficient.
3. It’s not meritocratic.
4. It destroys social solidarity.

I think all four of his points make sense, but they don’t quite sit comfortably with me. I posted a reply, which I reproduce here:

1) Sure it’s unfeasible in it’s entirety but so is getting rid of unemployment, inflation, Cot deaths and taxes. But surely that doesn’t mean we can aspire to marginally more egalitarian world? Once the marfinal costs of imposing more equality of opportunity outweight the benefits, then you stop.

2) Sure… but that doesn’t mean EoO should be the only policy of a progressive government.

3) I’m a bit confused here. EoO does not suggest people should be paid equally. The free-market does reward skills in demand and talented people, we just need to build a society where people from disadvantaged backgrounds also have the opportunity to get their talents and skills noticed. Or have I misunderstood this point?

4) I’m not so sure about this. I’d say there was more class-based smugness in the UK than the USA. But the latter is much more focused on equality of opportunity, even implementing positive discrimination to that end, than the UK.
In contrast in India, where equality of opportunity isn’t really a big goal and everything depends on who you know (despite the quotas), there is hardly any class solidarity. I think solidarity is more to do with local culture than how focused on meritocracy a country is.

I forgot to mention another point to this. In the case of the UK and especially USA, many ethnic minorities are overwhelmingly amongst the working classes. Here, most Pakistanis and Bangladeshis are working class while a lot of Indians are middle-class. This partly explains their different educational achievement.

Bringing in the race example, we can make a few more points for equality of opportunity.

5) It would help some ethnic minority families break out of a cycle of poverty and create role models that previously may not have existed. That may also destroy perceptions that racism keeps them poor.

6) Being working class comes with issues: more crime, higher unemployment, lower educational achievement, and lower representation in certain fields (politics and media primarily). So when you add race to this mix it becomes a bit more potent. Pakistanis and Bangladeshis may end up being very under-represented in these fields, and racists may use these examples to say that Muslims (as a catch-all term) are inherently anti-segregation or anti-education, as some currently do.

So what I mean is that racial underachievement, in the way of not having any middle-class representation, can become a political issue in certain cases. This is another reason why equality of opportunity is a good thing - it helps working class ethnic minority kids compete with middle-class white kids on the basis or merit, without the need for quotas.

26 / October / 2006  Race politics  Comments (4)

Barack Obama, President?

barackTime magazine has put senator Barack Obama on the front cover, wondering if he could be the next American president. This bit was interesting:

The current Obama mania is reminiscent of the Colin Powell mania of September 1995, when the general-another political rainbow-leveraged speculation that he might run for President into book sales of 2.6 million copies for his memoir, My American Journey.

Powell and Obama have another thing in common: they are black people who-like Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan-seem to have an iconic power over the American imagination because they transcend racial stereotypes. “It’s all about gratitude,” says essayist Shelby Steele, who frequently writes about the psychology of race. “White people are just thrilled when a prominent black person comes along and doesn’t rub their noses in racial guilt. White people just go crazy over people like that.”

Hmmm… is that being cynical?

17 / October / 2006  Global politics, Race politics  Comments (0)

A hilarious exercise in irony

A fortysomething mother in a practical Boden skirt and short-sleeved top sitting on a train opposite a woman in the full veil can suddenly be made to feel as tarty and sexually provocative as a Page 3 girl. It’s not a nice sensation – to feel judged for wearing your own clothes in your own country.

So says Alison Pearson from the Daily Mail. Is stupidity a pre-requisite for writing for the paper?

11 / October / 2006  Race politics  Comments (0)

Terrorising migrant women

With all the hoo-haa that accompanies when an immigrant commits a crime, why are certain questions not asked when Britons kill migrants?

A body found inside a Glasgow church has been identified as missing Polish woman Angelika Kluk.

Strathclyde Police, which is treating the death as suspicious, has also confirmed that a 60-year-old man it wanted to speak to has been arrested.

Peter Tobin is a handyman at the church, and was one of the last people to have seen Angelika.

From the BBC In response, Kama says:

So who is going to protect migrant women from British rapists and murderers…?

John Reid can scare Britain with images of Romanian and Bulgarian criminals… but why doesn’t he go to Poland as say sorry to the parents of Angelika… for not protecting her… from a British criminal.

John Reid is a scaremongering xenophobe…

Got it in one.

1 / October / 2006  Race politics  Comments (3)

*points and laughs*

Ha ha! The Independent’s cheap and idiotic stunt of putting a blacked-up Kate Moss on the front cover failed to get the people talking and buying the newspaper. Maybe next time they will consider not patronising their audiences and try something a bit more thoughtful.

29 / September / 2006  Race politics  Comments (0)


Someone on Indymedia has exposed some of the braindead fascists behind the the website Red Watch, which puts up pictures of people on the left so they can be harassed or beaten up.

See this thread. Heh. And before anyone says anything - no their addresses have not been put up for retaliatory action.

[via the void]

29 / September / 2006  Race politics  Comments (0)