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Discussion in 'Politics' started by >>FrEnZy<<, Apr 1, 2012.
First as Tragedy, then as Farce.
Zizek on Modern Charity and all it's flaws.
Given the way humans typically work, if we shut down modern charity, we're not going to see any replacement. If anything, I believe you've misconstrued Zizek's point, which is that we shouldn't treat modern charity as the ultimate solution, but rather a stepping stone on the way to reinventing society.
Which I doubt will ever happen.
A genuinely fair society is kind of a Catch-22, as in order to estabilish and maintain it, you have to be exceedingly unfair.
A non-Catch-22 approach would require humans, in general, to be intelligent critters capable of thinking for themselves and forming independent opinions that lead to rational decisions, rather than easily controlled creatures who can be easily convinced with a series of pretty pictures accompanied by a somewhat convincing (if ultimately utopian) argument.
I agree with the idea behind his point (and it probably could've been summarized in the old "give a man a fish..." adage in 30 seconds instead of 10 minutes). I've heard some bad things said about, for example, Engineers Without Borders, where a bunch of college kids go put in a water pump in some developing nation and never go back to help maintain it or anything.
However, there are charities that do good things "with" rather than "at" the community. My favorite to plug is one that helps train potters to build and run presses to make water filters for the community, instead of flat-out giving them filters. These end up being self-sufficient operations -- the community basically needs equipment funds and some training and then they run everything themselves. I've also heard of some where you fund grants for individuals to start small businesses e.g. selling handmade items. Obviously it's not going to change the entire economic or political situation of the country to make those people not-poor, but enacting that would require major system revamps and meddling in international politics. I think the charities that fund self-sufficient programs are worthwhile.
In short: Not all charities are bad. Just don't be lazy about researching who to give money to.
I think the core of Zizek's argument is about your desire for charity - in which case I really should have titled this thread "Why we shouldn't give to Charities".
You may have made a good distinction between charities that do things "at" and chairites that do things "with" communities dfc, but I think to truly get to the crux of the problem we need to analyse an individuals real motivations behind being charitable - regardless of whether their donations are effective or not.
Not to put you on the spot, but why do you really care about the state of water potability in some obscure community on the other side of the world that you've never met before? is your will to be charitable not based on a sense of being partly responsible for the ills caused by globalised world? Furthermore is not all charity predicated upon exploiting that guilt? And does such actions not dissipate our disatisfaction with the system that is causing these issues in the first place?
I believe that the industrial charity complex - which prys on the guilt of the (predominantly white) privileged classes only functions to prolong the socio-economic global paradigm that causes all these issues that charities are based around in the first place.
My (rather controvertial) stance on this, is that the sooner we end such substitutions for social equity that have become perfectly assimilated into the existing global socio-economic doctrine, the sooner the doctrine will collapse. And I say sooner rather than later as such a collapse is inevitable.
While that may be true, I think it's still better to do good things for the wrong reasons than to not bother doing anything at all. I don't think I've ever donated to relief efforts out of guilt though. The guilt thing doesn't even register with me as logical in this scenario -- of course I'm not personally responsible for some kiddo drinking bad water. Mostly I got "involved" (to clarify -- I've only donated a very small amount, I don't claim to be very involved at all -- actually I'm rather stingy) because I do environmental engineering and knew some of the researchers who were assessing those water filters. So what I feel is "I support your work and I feel assured that this program is effective for the community" -- not "I feel bad, take my moneh!"
And I think you might be blaming charities too much for independent pre-existing conditions? Besides, I doubt that dismantling charities is suddenly going to make people open their eyes and be like "zomg people are poor! We must revamp the entire socio-economic system!!!" It seems you assume that people are somehow settling for less by donating to a charity -- that if they couldn't make themselves feel better by donating, they'd be out there fixing root problems (which, btw, is easier said than done -- how would we even go about doing this?).
But what if.... charities are your typical everyday lazy-man's way to do a little more than they otherwise would've? If the charity didn't exist, we wouldn't go out and fix the world -- we'd just sit on our butts and twiddle our thumbs. Like if there wasn't a filter charity, I definitely wouldn't have a revelation and say, "Hey, there's a kid out there dying of the shits! But there's no charity for it -- I must join the Peace Corps!" I just wouldn't have bothered to do anything at all. Whether that makes me a sucky person, I don't know. My point is that it's incorrect to blame the charity for why we're not contributing to more long-term solutions. Maybe.... maybe it's just us .
tldr you give too much credit to people, we're lazy bastards who prob wouldn't do anything better if there were no charities, so it's better (or at least not worse) to have the charity than not
Seriously? The system isn't going to collapse, that's a pipe dream. No one has any interest, monetary or otherwise, in collapsing it. Now, removing the crutches that help sustain those that are worse off will only lead to far greater and drastic social stratification (vide America, which is allergic to these subjects).
I have to assume you live in a first world country, and have no problems with access to Internet, basic amenities, food etc. Don't you think that makes you horribly biased? You aren't likely to die as a result of the system collapsing.
Is this strictly talking about monetary charity? I dont feel like wasting time watching the video if it is, because he's only going to make obvious arguments that anybody who ever thought about the subject would have come up with.
But what about charity in other forms, like education?
It's also clearly just about the 'overseas aid' kind of charity. Not much relevance to charities for cancer research, wildlife rehabilitation and so on.
But yeah his basic point that a lot of charities only treat the symptoms not the disease while making people feel better about a broken status quo is of course valid.
I don't agree with this entirely. I think the effectiveness of aid is mostly dependent on where it is targeted. First you should provide people with the necessities of life so that they are able to 'go on living'. Then you should focus on educating the children by building and finding schools, and maybe provide trade skills to the adults so that they can earn money to support the children.
You can't really force a country out of poverty with aid and trying to do so would just lead to spending more and more money propping them up. Buy you can give them the option of working their own way out by providing a large group of the next generation with an education.
Think I posted this a while back but this video has some pretty good examples of charity that does more harm than good. The merry-go-round water pump is an especially troubling example.
I couldn't help but laugh when he said the guy was dizzy after pumping the water. Like, I laughed way too hard about it.
Ok in retrospect that is pretty funny.