If you're debating with a certain type of lefty, you might get told to "Check Your Privilege". This confusing order means that if, for example you're debating the welfare state, if you're securely employed and don't know what it's like to live on benefits, your opinion is irrelevant. It's effectively saying "you're borgeouis, shut up". Dan Hodges dug deeper for the Telegraph.
Apparently the phrase “check your privilege” first originated on the social justice blog Shrub.com, (no, I’ve no idea what a social justice blog is either). Shrub was set up by Andrea Rubenstein...'CYP' can be frustrating. But this post by Pete Spence argues some of these ideas could be an important part of libertarian thought, if Libertarianism is not to be an intellectual ghetto for rich, white, smug men with good jobs who don't want to pay tax.
The concept of Checking Your Privilege asks you to ask yourself “is life different for other people?” and asks you to listen to those who have different experiences. It’s a sharing of information. e.g. If you are not considered overweight, you may not be aware of the extent to which those considered overweight are harassed. You may not be as acutely aware of the overrepresentation in TV and advertising of people considered to have a “normal” body type.
Intersectionality asks you to remember that individuals are affected by several different things at once. e.g. Someone considered overweight may also be considered successful, and have a high income and good education. They are relatively privileged when compared with someone considered overweight who is also unemployed.Of course we all ignore this when debating, and descend into shorthand. The key is to always blame the system, for example when discussing benefits and unemployment, not the people, who're mostly just responding to incentives. A rule I'm pretty good, though not perfect at adhering to.
These three concepts are all inherently individualist ones. They ask you only to remember that information asymmetries exist. People can not be treated homogenously, and suffer particular issues that are individual to them. We should act accordingly.Of course when a rabid feminist tells you to "check your privilege", they're trying to shut debate down, not asking you to think about the other's condition. It's a form of 'ad-hominem', saying your argument is wrong because it's a rich, white guy making it.
A consistent approach requires libertarians not just to be critical of state power, but also of overbearing corporate power and the power of societal expectations and shame. The ideas of privilege, checking of privilege, and intersectionality help us to do this. The complexity of our world is a practical reality, and a problem for centralised approaches, not a call for them.And here the libertarianish twittersphere in particular falls down, because it's not clear many people realise how much power large companies wield. It's too easy to see non-state players as somehow on my team against the state, whereas it's a core role in a night-watchman state to protect people against the interests of rapacious companies for example by enforcing competition law.
Libertarians should not be anarchists, always railing against the state, without considering the proper functions of Government, including economic regulation. Monopolies, state or private serve no-one except the interests of the producer. Extremism, morally blaming weaker members of society for their plight or acting as an apologist for Companies is not going to help the central idea of libertarianism spread.
That is social liberalism, and economic liberalism can go together, ideas which appears to be the future of British politics. Let's not scare potential supporters off by not considering why some people might be scared by the concept of freedom from state interference.