All Lives Matter?
Posted on February 16, 2017
The slogan “all lives matter” was popularized by folks who deep down actually believe the dead opposite, which is typical of right-wing propaganda. They love to appropriate left wing egalitarian rhetoric, twisted with an underlying right wing antiegalitarian intent.
However, imagine a world where all lives really did matter. Would that be a better world than this one? It is certainly not true of this world, where (for example) hundreds of thousands of international refugees perish attempting to escape abominable conditions because no one will help them. Trump is doing his best to further reduce their condition.
I think that, on reflection, almost everyone would prefer to live in a world where all lives actually mattered. Assume there would still be adequate work incentives and a substantial degree of inequality, but there would be a rock-bottom floor of decent support available to everyone. (Leaving aside economic feasibility. I believe it is feasible, but that is a different discussion.) Then such a world provides you personally with a kind of almost perfect insurance policy not available in any other kind of world: no matter what happens to you, society will be there for you to help you out.
The problem is it is very hard to see how to get there from here. Empathy and altruism are extremely important forces in human affairs, but they mainly operate at close range. Only about 10% of the population have the form of altruism that has been called “Identification With All Humanity,” as measured by an IWAH questionnaire.
However it is in the enlightened self-interest of folks who care deeply about their own great grandchildren to support national and international arrangements that do lead towards a world where all lives matter.
Refugees would be a good place to start.