Archive for March 2nd, 2011

A Name, By Any Other Name

A housekeeping note on pseudonymity. As most of you know, I write this blog under a pseudonym. The reason is pretty simple: I use it to express points of view that my employer would not find favourable, and whatever wish I might have to publish my opinions under my real name is tempered by my need to pay bills and, more important, my responsibility to other people. I’d much rather it were otherwise, but it’s a precaution I feel I have to take.

Some people say that being concerned with what might happen to your job, if you openly express a point of view, undermines the legitimacy of what you have to say. So, in my own case, the fact I express views that run counter to the interests of my employer, but don’t publish these views under my own name, must mean I’m some sort of rank hypocrite. And if I say, for instance, people ought to take some form of direct action, then this call is undermined by the fact I do so pseudonymously.

Well, I could see some validity to the charge of hypocrisy above the norm were I the employer and not the employee. However, the mundane reality is that like most people I’m obliged to work at something for a living, and I’m not precisely laughing all the way to the bank.

So I don’t see any contradiction between me expressing critical views about this or that, and at the same time taking steps to protect my personal situation with regard to employment. I don’t see any coherent logic -aside from the logic of totalitarianism- to the idea that if you hold a particular opinion, you’ve no business expressing it if you want to earn a wage.

And with regard to whether or not people take seriously any call I might make or position I might take: it’s up to others to evaluate whether what I’m saying is reasonable.

If pseudonymity prevents people from taking me seriously, there isn’t a great deal I can do about it.

In any event, many of the people who read this already know who I am, they’re the ones I have in mind when I’m writing, and I’m satisfied they know that there’s no divergence between what I say face-to-face and what I publish here. Anyone else whose life is so dreary that they too need to find out who I am can always just ask. I’ve yet to hear anyone imply face-to-face, whenever I say something critical about the economic system, or the political system, or working conditions, or a political party, that whatever I say can’t be taken seriously because I work for a private firm and haven’t notified my boss.

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