[Question] What exactly is the system EA’s critics are seeking to change?

In his post about political culture at the edges of EA, user kbog points out:

Perhaps the most common criticism of EA is that the movement does not collectively align with radical anticapitalist politics.

This is the typical criticism EA doesn’t engage enough in “systemic change”, the system usually implied to be capitalism. However, it’s been my experience EA’s critics aren’t always explicit about the “system” they’re referring to. The “system” often appears to be capitalism, but it’s not self-evident to me this is what is meant most of the time. Of course, the social/​political “system” in question usually includes capitalism, but among leftists it appears it also includes some or all of the following:

  • (cishetero-)patriarchy

  • Western chauvinism

  • white supremacy

  • (presumably other structures/​systems of oppression I’ve missed)

In particular, with the predominance of intersectionality in social justice movements in recent years, it appears the “system” many leftists seek to change isn’t merely capitalism, or a matter of political economy, but of intersecting structures of oppression. For example, academic theory in the philosophy of social justice has given rise to the idea of a “kyriarchy”, which is a term for describing:

  • how there are structures for oppression along all axes of personal/​political identity that correspond to the role the patriarchy plays in oppression along lines of sex, gender, and sexuality.

  • the fact that these structures for oppression intersect such that they are part of a single system of oppression.

The soundness of the notion of a “kyriarchy” is disputed outside EA, including within leftist politics itself, and to settle issues surrounding that question isn’t the job of EA. Most leftist critics of EA may not have as explicit a theory as that of the kyriarchy or similar intellectual ideas when they posit a single sociopolitical system that includes but is not limited to capitalism. Finally, it’s definitely the case at least some leftist critics of EA do indeed intend the “system” in need of change is the economic system of capitalism, without commenting on the relationship of EA to anything else in politics.

However, for the sake of being comprehensive and accurate in responding to criticism, EA should understand what all kinds of different leftist critics of EA are actually saying.

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