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26 jul 2022

Whataboutism

I often hear people reject arguments in discussions as "whataboutisms". The idea is that whataboutisms - "ok, you're angry about thing A, but what about thing B and thing C" - effectively undermine any kind of critique.

I understand this wariness. Especially when it is done on purpose and in bad faith, it is a dangerously easy way to kill any political talk.1

Still, I wonder why pointing out the ubiquity of injustice should necessarily lead to some kind of cynical fatalism. Why - when the whatboutism is done without too much snobbery or moral high grounds - the response cannot be something like "yes, actually you're right: thing A sucks, but fuck things B and C as well".

Sure, time and energy are limited. We have to pick our own fights. But being aware of the widespread, interlinked systemic nature of the injustice around us (how it is often thing A, thing B and C), might help us to fight more together, and more radically.

So yes, fuck the war in Ukraine. In connection with all the other stuff that deserves our indignation.

Footnotes:

1

As it is for instance happening in contemporary Russia, according to Grigori Joedin [1].

References

[1] Rutger van der Hoeven. `Het ziet er bijna suïcidaal uit' - De wereld na Oekraïne: Grigori Joedin. https://www.groene.nl/artikel/het-ziet-er-bijna-suicidaal-uit, August 2022.
Tags: blog english politics




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