To provide a quick background to the slave morality/master morality dichotomy. Firstly, this concept was described by Friedrich Nietzsche to explain a dichotomy between deontological ethics and consequentialism in relation to how Nietzsche viewed aspects of human behavior.
To Nietzsche master morality was the morality of the powerful. It emphasizes individual autonomy, hostility toward the mentality of the herd, the will to live for this life instead of an abstract afterlife and also a sense of self-improvement which had little regard for the lower born. As a “morality of consequences” (E.g. that of consequentialism), intentions counted for little among those practicing master-morality because results were ultimately all that mattered. Those who practive master morality seek to transcend their oppressors and do not simply seek to transform their oppressors into slaves who are in the same position as themselves.
Slave-morality, on the other hand, was the morality of the slaves and the herd. It emphasized duty, collectivization, herd-conformity, and was the morality of the weak. As a deontological ethical system (E.g. one focused more on duty than results), it was chiefly focused on a persons intentions and often meant seeking justice and rewards in the next life than this one as rewards for “good moral conduct”. Those practicing slave morality do not seek to transcend oppressors, but to simple transform them into slaves in the same position as themselves.
The various branches of the social justice movement place a great emphasis upon equality. In a sense, equality is presented as an ethical obligation on an axiomatic basis. What is rarely ever questioned however, is whether it is *always* desirable from a pragmatic analytical perspective in terms of its consequences.
For instance, there has been a great amount of attention recently focused on the USA’s decision to allow women to serve in front-line combat positions. Of course, this makes society a more equal place and logically, if you think that equality is an inherently “good” thing to pursue and that discrimination on the grounds of gender is inherently “bad”, a better place overall.
However, from my own consequentialist perspective. I see no reason to celebrate this because, as an anarchist, my end-goals would effectively mean the abolition of the state and thusly the end of its military force. As someone who doesn’t believe in the USA’s reckless taxpayer-funded military adventurism and who doesn’t really want *anyone* serving in the state’s military forces, then it makes no sense for me as an anarchist to explicitly support a goal that could lead to an expansion of active military personnel in the USA’s military, possibly an expansion in the USA’s military capabilities and ultimately, the entrance of women (who social justice fanatics see as an oppressed section of the population) onto the front lines of the USA’s war machine and large numbers of them dying in whatever stupid military adventure the state decides to next pursue purely for the sake of more equality between men and women.
Did many of these mostly “progressive” campaigners stop to consider why the state might suddenly be looking for more people engaged in active frontline military service as the spectre of war with Iran looms? It might be wise to consider such factors before pursuing equality of combat duties.
On the contrary, the best course of action for anyone who opposes the state war machine in this respect, regardless of whether their motives are saving lives, protecting women or or simply reducing the number of personnel the military has at its disposal in order to reduce the might of the state, is to simply not challenge the ban on women serving in the military or perhaps even to actively campaign for it to be upheld while keeping up the propaganda efforts to discourage males from enlisting as well. Would it not be better for those who are anti-militarists to actively encourage the military to discriminate arbitrarily against people after all?
The argument of many social justice campaigners is that the ban on women serving in the military is arbitrarily discriminatory and sexist. I can accept this, but it isn’t what matters though. What matters is that if the ban was upheld, then it would probably mean less personnel in the military, less people dying for the state and effectively the protection of women from the state war machine’s front line. Consequentially, this discriminatory law will keep women in general off the front line, will keep down the number of active fighting personnel the state has at its disposal and discourages a hefty number of people (mainly women of course) from joining.
What is wrong with this from a consequentialist perspective and, as anarchists, what is the point of challenging it purely because it is an inequity between the sexes?
Interestingly, from the opposite end of the spectrum, some mens rights advocates also see the disparity between men and women in regards to the military because the state effectively treats front-line combat duties as a chiefly “male” occupation. In this respect, men bear the vast majority of the burden for the USA’s wars and the mens rights movement naturally finds this objectionable. Of course, they have a good point here. Men do bear the largest direct burden for existence of the states war machine. What is bizarre however is that often, the entrance of women into front-line military duty is supported as a way to remedy this “injustice”.
For those mens rights activists who also consider themselves anarchists, then what sense does it make to pursue equality on an ethical basis here? The logical conclusion of correcting this inequality by supporting the admission of women into front line combat duties is that the state will have more soldiers at its disposal and that more people will die as a result of this.
It also seems like a case of cutting off the nose to spite the face.
We’re oppressed! THEY NEED TO BE OPPRESSED AS WELL!
We die for the state! THEY NEED TO DIE FOR THE STATE AS WELL!
As mentioned earlier, those people who adhere to slave morality do not seek to transcend those who are in a superior position to themselves, but simply to transform those people into slaves in turn. Such is the case regarding those men who support the admission of women into front line combat roles purely for the sake of creating equality of gender oppression. Indeed, there is often very little difference between the mens rights movement and the feminist movement in this respect. They both believe in oppression, they just disagree regarding the finer details of who it is handed out to.
Despite the fact that simply extending the oppression of the state to another grouping purely for the sake of equality does nothing to weaken the net oppression of the state for men. It simply results in an overall expansion of the states militarism and oppression and more of the states burden being placed onto women. Personally, I don’t see this as being very compatible with anti-statism and its certainly no way to address the issue of men being the chief victims of front line combat duties in various stupid military adventures.
To summarize then, the various wings of the social justice movement often pursues slave morality by viewing equality (as with many other ethical obligations pursued by the social justice campaigners) as an axiomatic good regardless of whether the consequences are good in and of themselves or whether they even address the problem. Issues pertaining to social justice can rarely be solved by pursuing equality for its own sake without any objective analysis of whether equality is really helpful. Indeed, it is impossible to create a better society by simple espousing equality of suffering.