Autistic Entitlement & Victimhood are Part of a Broader Occidental Zeitgeist
Some time ago, I made some tweets about the problem of how some people de-emphasize the importance of autistic people cultivating ourselves.
This does seem like a bit of a third rail to me. One of those things such that regardless of what you think about it, you had better not talk about it.
However, it would be deeply disloyal to my own conscience and to many autistic individuals, if I did not speak out about autistic entitlement and autistic victimhood. Both are problematic in themselves, and both are undoubtedly part of a broader pathology in the ‘Zeitgeist’ or ‘Spirit of the Ages’ here in the West.
This kind of talk sounds dangerous. The far left, the fascist/white nationalist far right and the theocratic far right (of all faiths) often base their mythology on a past Golden Age. And quite obviously, that is untenable. The ideological context of today is not objectively worse than 50 years ago, or 100 years ago, or 1000 years ago.
Indeed, reactionary Splengerism seems to me no more tenable than the earlier deeply cynical stance of which it is no more than a similarly cynical inversion: the Whiggish idea that ‘Progress’ (note the capitals!) is inevitable, and all that is not Progress can and must surely perish, being utterly unworthy of life.
However, my point is not to compare this age with any other age, nor to say that, in the abstract, the West is ‘worse’ than anywhere right now. My focus here may be unapologetically ‘Westerncentric,’ but not in a way that implies such idle speculations.
Having made these caveats, I would like to outline my views by quoting several of the tweets in question, subject of course to mild editing:
If you have Aspergers and refuse to cultivate yourself, and then you find that nobody talks to you & you can’t get a job… that’s on you!
Cultivation doesn’t necessarily lead to a job or to great social competency. It’s a necessary condition, not a sufficient condition.
The medical establishment aren’t pristine; but at least most of them actually want autistic people to cultivate ourselves, unlike postmodernists!
If you have autism, ‘Society’ owes you nothing! Show other individuals what you can go, and people/institutions can reciprocate.
Sogenannte ‘society’ does not have to unilaterally accommodate people with autism. Work on yourself first, and then people can reciprocate.
Autistic victimhood & autistic entitlement are not pathways to liberation, but gilded hearses to the most mediocre of cemeteries…
Here, I am faced with a dilemma.
On the one hand, providing further clarification in order to scrupulously forestall any strawman counter-assertions is deeply problematic. This is because ‘Social Justice Warrior’ or ‘Regressive Leftist’ responses to ethically serious propositions are generally motivated more by bad faith and outraged virtue, than by sincere disagreement and a certain degree of honest scepticism.
This being so, I am wary of the risk over-explaining myself, and thereby ‘feeding the troll;’ and of thereby ending up granting far too much of a concession to my antagonists, by casting pearls of substance and beauty to those who would rather gorge on rhetorical acorns instead.
But on the other hand, it is always possible that sincere and ethically people may fall into some the errors that insincere and trivializing critics will inevitably all into.
There is not necessarily a perfectly correct response to this dilemma; but I will err on the side of defusing a few potential flashpoints. Readers of good faith will be able to understand. As for those of bad faith, that is most certainly none of my business.
First of all, to say that autistic people are morally obliged to cultivate ourselves is not to replace one unilateral commitment with another. The point is precisely that there has to be some give and take between autistic and non-autistic people. This is a fairly intuitive point.
Secondly, as one of the tweets actually states explicitly, there is no need to blame all autistic people in the world (without qualification or due attention to context) for having social difficulties, or for being unemployed.
Indeed, my tweets actually speak quite specifically about those individuals with autism who refuse point blank to cultivate ourselves. Whether such a mediocre and worthless refusal is out of laziness, entitlement or self-indulgent victimhood, the consequences of demanding a culture one-sided compromises from so-called ‘Society’ (or as I wryly put it in one of the tweets above, sogennante ‘Society’) can only be disastrous. And for one person with autism to choose such a dereliction of self-duty, is as much as to choose it for everyone. Immanuel Kant would have a lot to say about this if he were with ‘us’ today.
Thirdly, to say that autistic people must cultivate ourselves does not mean that there is a single mould into which all autistic people must be squeezed.
Some autistic people are relatively tactful; others struggle with this.
Some have difficulties with the finer nuances of idioms; others are of substantial literary accomplishment.
Some autistic people are not in a position to cultivate themselves at all, because the underlying base(s) of biological or cultural conditioning have been so strong, that they are simply not in a position to do so. This must certainly be respected.
Other autistic people are able to do a little bit more. This is no less worthy of respect; and nothing less than this is acceptable.
There are others yet, who can do much more still. ‘Great power requires great responsibility,’ as the old Spiderman proverb runs.
So, the point is not to say there is a single ‘recipe’ for cultivation. For to me, that would seem to be falling into a contentious Aristotelian way of thinking. A way of thinking which would suggest that everything and everyone in life has a single telos: just one aim, just one purpose, just one goal, and one direction, and one natural and foreordained affinity.
I disagree with such a line of thinking, and I am all in favor of a plurality of teloi. I favor this every bit as much as John Stuart Mill favoured a plurality of ways of life and of outlooks, even if (as I insist here with a certain rigor) not all teloi are equally worthy.
Having now given a fairly detailed discussion of the theme of this article, I now find that I had better not write too much more here in the way of a further contextualization of autistic victimhood and autistic entitlement within the current Western Zeigeist. For that certainly deserves serious and far more detailed discussion at a later stage. I will, however, make some fairly brief remarks about the Occident of today.
Why is it verboten to suggest that where possible, autistic people ought to cultivate ourselves, rather than expect a mythical abstraction (Society) to unilaterally accommodate us, without the slightest degree of effort on our part?
In my opinion, part of the reason lies in the postmodern tendency towards what I would call ‘toxic immanence.’ By that, I mean the idea that there is nothing intrinsically good and true and fine about cultivating oneself in response to the often frightening and combative environment around oneself. The very idea that one way of life, or one way to reason, or to feel, might be better than another, is deemed merely a mechanism of control.
Of course, such ideas are indeed used to control people; Salafism, Scientology and the Jehovah’s Witnesses sects are good examples of this. But to take this fact and weaponize it against all cultivation, or indeed against all imperatives soever towards cultivation, is a truly tremendous non-sequitur; is it not?
This infantile ‘genetic fallacy,’ i.e. the tendency to superficially ‘refute’ a statement or proposition by cynically shifting attention to its origin and de-emphasizing the proportion itself, is hardly a rarety amongst postmodern nihilists.
Yet, I have observed many times how mediocre and highly conservative are the myriad appeals to ‘postmodern common sense’ in the world of today. Far from being sexy and innovative, postmodern nihilism and conformism is no less ‘touchy’ and protective of certain given boundaries and taboos.
Concurrently, this consummately Bourbonite ideology of primitive restorationism is no less given to providing automatic, mechanical ‘reflex’ assertions and counter-assertions, than the various ideologies condemned by postmodernists as ‘totalizing’ and ‘oppressive…’
In a series elsewhere http://www.opednews.com/Series/Take-Down-Neuodiversity-by-Jonathan-Ferguson-160404-809.html, I have spoken of the necessity to refute the prescriptions of the ‘neurodiversity’ ideology, and to purge the ideology in question from the lives of individuals. My chosen weapons for accomplishing this devilishly sacred imperative are rational discussion, passionate polemic and hard-hitting satire.
But on the strength of the long form essay I have just set before you, it does seem that the ‘toxic immanence’ of the coward who dares not look within the abyss and to take their heart and soul and body in their own hands, must needs deem his weakness to be no less a feverish malady upon the earth.