This essay, more or less, is an explanation of how I think pluralism ought to work in discourse and movement making.
What is Pluralism?
Pluralism is the view that there are many paths to walk and that none of these paths are necessarily better than any others.
The basic notion is that I/we respect the the choice of others to walk whatever path they want.
Pluralism vs Relativism
Pluralism, imo, only requires a commitment that there are many possible paths. It doesn’t require agreeing with those paths.
Cultural/moral relativism are about ethics, whereas pluralism is somewhat more about ontology (ie, it is an assertion about what exist)
but it does have a value system associated with it.
Pluralism and idendity
Properly undestood, umbrella terms like ‘trans’ or ‘queer’ should be understood not as a singular, individual identity, but as a pluralism.
This is something many people somewhat subscribe to, since it is widely recognized that there isn’t just one way to be trans.
Why did things shift from pluralism to personal identity?
One of the primary reasons is lack of historical knowledge. We are bad at transmitting our history (in part bc it is suppressed).
Because white individualism frames identity politics.
People conflate class designation re: oppression, with personal, discrete identity.
Example: I am not ‘Asian’. This is not my identity. It is a class of oppression I’m stuck in because of white supremacy.
The Promise of Pluralism
The moral force of pluralism is the notion that some kind of peace between dissenting and disagreeing ideologies is desirable (and possible).
This is, I think, exactly why political umbrella terms like ‘person of colour’ were created. To open space for, at the very least, not inteferring with the goals and priorities of other groups in pursuit of your own (which is something that can only be negotiated).
A problem with Pluralism
There really aren’t any great strategies for resolving instances of mutually exclusive values.
As in, radfems want me dead and I want to live.
As a pluralist, my commitment is to say, "hey, do what you need". But these two positions are incompatible (as in, in pursuing this goal, we’ll necessarily create conflict).