Equal rights

The equal rights debate continues to dominate public debate. One of the main lines of criticism is that a certain group within society is disadvantaged, and needs special protection. This is often too easy.

What despises me about such arguments is the thought that it’s possible to think about people and characteristics in categories. Whilst I see that certain groups tend to be disadvantaged, we only got into this position by group thinking. Should we fight group thinking with group thinking?

It is really difficult, particularly to generalise these debates. On this topic, I recently read the excellent book ‘Race against Technology’ by the brilliant Ruha Benjamin.

This book underlines the dangers of reinforcing racial inequalities through modern technology. Whilst I agree with the findings, I disagree with some of the conclusions. I think we must be even more radical than proposed in the book.

One of these conclusions is that we need more balanced roles of power. This is supposed to range from software engineers to politicians and CEOs. Again, I agree with this insight, but the book seems to suggest that these efforts should focus only on black people. Instead, I think we should go even further, by including all parts of the society in the decision-making process.

There is a danger to such democratic processes. Whilst equity in decision-making is a fundamental requirement of democracy, it can slow down the democratic process. I support the idea put forward in the book ‘NEUSTAAT’ by German MPs: to rethink government as an agile process, instead of lengthy procedures.

Wherever things fail, we need to adjust. Yet, we shouldn’t get stuck in thinking. This is especially true for modern technology. Unfortunately, other nations might push ahead with technological progress, if not acted fast enough.