Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Exit rights as a liberal utopia

Scott Alexander has a thought experiment that investigates, among many topics, an interesting variation on the horseshoe theory of political philosophy:
Liberalism, and to a much greater degree leftism, are marked by the emphasis they place on oppression. They’re particularly marked by an emphasis on oppression being a really hard problem, and one that is structurally inherent to a certain society. They are marked by a moderate amount of despair that this oppression can ever be rooted out. 
And I think a pretty strong response to this is making sure everyone is able to say “Hey, you better not oppress us, because if you do, we can pack up and go somewhere else.” 
Like if you want to protest that this is unfair, that people shouldn’t be forced to leave their homes because of oppression, fine, fair enough. But given that oppression is going on, and you haven’t been able to fix it, giving people the choice to get away from it seems like a pretty big win. I am reminded of the many Jews who moved from Eastern Europe to America, the many blacks who moved from the southern US to the northern US or Canada, and the many gays who make it out of extremely homophobic areas to friendlier large cities. One could even make a metaphor, I think rightly, to telling battered women that they are allowed to leave their husbands, telling them they’re not forced to stay in a relationship that they consider abusive, and making sure that there are shelters available to receive them.
Worth reading the whole thing.

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