Thursday, 11 July 2019

Egolitarianism - the Core Disease of the Left

But we did, Nathan. And that's precisely the problem.
In the unlikely event that Nathan J. Robinson of Current Affairs magazine and I were ever to sit down and discuss policy we'd like to see implemented, I'm sure we'd agree on a great deal. We Need to Revive the Fight for Overtime Pay, reads a July 9, 2019 headline. No argument here.  Doubtlessly Robinson is an advocate of universal single payer health care, preferably with basic dental and eye care included. Probably an advocate of renewed vigor in the union movement. Probably for ending neoconservative petrodollar warfare in the middle east. Probably for overturning Citizens United and getting money out of politics. You get the picture.

At times his enlightenment goes beyond that: Discipline, Strategy and Morality, or why beating up unarmed writers is a poor way to advance left-wing ideas… reads another article, regarding antifa's recent violent assault on right leaning author Andy Ngo. While Robinson has no kind words for Ngo, he rightly condemns antifa's assault on him: "The attack on Andy Ngo does not, to me, meet the criteria for justified violence. A Quillette writer with a GoPro is a nuisance. Punching him might be satisfying (to some, not me). But it is gratuitous and unjustified. It’s wrong. It does nothing helpful, and actually harms the cause of the left." Agreed, though to be fair and in the interests of equal time, it's worth pointing out that there are those who claim that Ngo is no innocent angel or martyr here either.

But I digress. As far as left wing pundits are concerned, expect good stuff from Nathan Robinson. Most of the time.

However, in a recent piece in Current Affairs, Don't Believe What They Tell You About the Left, he drops the ball, and does so in a manner that reveals the heart of what's wrong with so much leftism, both past and present. The article criticizes Intellectual Dark Web pundit Bret Weinstein for asserting that the left's ongoing demonization of white people will drive more and more of them to the embrace of white nationalism.
I am not naturally sympathetic to the “Black Studies made me become a Nazi” position. Partly this is because, as a straight white male myself (and a college Black Studies major), I have no idea what these guys are even talking about. I’ve never been told “fuck you for being a straight white man.” Nothing of the kind. The closest thing I’ve ever gotten is “perhaps as a straight white male you should exercise a bit of caution and restraint before loudly giving your opinion on matters that other people may have somewhat more personal experience with.” But when people insist they “won’t apologize for being white,” I still wonder who has been asking them, because nobody has ever asked me to do anything but show respect for marginalized people’s perspective and critically examine my own assumptions and advantages. Which seems a fairly modest ask. 
Robinson goes on to insist that there are no such voices on the left condemning white males categorically, and that these claims come exclusively from right wing sources. The article favorably quotes one Sam Adler Bell: "These people are not getting the message “everyone hates white straight males” from left wing media. They’re not watching left wing media!! It’s absurd. They’re getting that message from right wing media *interpreting* left wing media for them."

He then goes on to suggest: "Don’t get your understanding of left concepts from Prager University videos. Get them from books! Or from leftists. Go to a DSA meeting and meet some people and listen to what they have to say."

Okay. I like the idea of going to the source. Get your views on the left from right wing sources, and what you'll get is a telling glimpse of the private obsessions of the right wing mind. The vast majority of the time, these have little to do with the obsessions of the left. What you'll get instead is a Shapiroesque gish gallop or a Petersonian word salad, wherein you can count on one hand the number of inhalations the speaker takes before getting into the evils of communism, government intervention in the economy, the need for high income tax cuts and deregulation, one hundred million dead in the 20th century, and no small number of mentions of Venezuela and of course endless hosannas exalting endless private wealth accumulation and concentration. Whatever the Koch Bro's pay them to say, basically.

And that hasn't changed in decades now. Listen to the right wing on any format, and what you'll get is the clear sense that the western world reached its absolute satori around 1981 or so, when Maggie and Ronnie were slashing taxes, privatizing and deregulating left and right, and sticking it to the unions at home and the commies abroad. From there, what we have to look forward to is a millennium of glory, as outlined in the gospels of Rand, Mises, Friedman and Hayek. If this actually sounds pretty lame, that's because it is. An endless future of sweatshops, indebtedness and boom and bust cycles doesn't sound that exciting to me. Sorry guys.

Plus, I should hope that we're all smart enough not to be enticed into white nationalism, no matter how shrill and stupid the anti-white rhetoric on the left gets. Too wrongs don't make a right, after all. And let's especially give Adolf Hitler's resurgent fan club a pass. Let's not forget that he did start a war that got tens of millions of Europeans and white males killed, that devastated the nations of Europe and permanently ended their global hegemony. With friends like Adolf, white guys certainly don't need enemies. Fortunately, this groundswell of neo-fascist reaction against social justice culture doesn't seem to be a huge big thing. And no, Trumpism doesn't count. Neither does the Tea Party. Reactionary politics tap into impulses in the American (and European) body politic that are decades, centuries even, old. It reincarnates on a decade, maybe a generational cycle, but there's nothing here that hasn't been here in numerous different forms for ages now. So a surge white supremacism as a response to social justice excess isn't a thing, in any event.

So if you want to see what's going on on the left, check out leftist sources. Agreed, and the reverse is true. Don't just believe that Jordan Peterson is a Nazi and that Sam Harris is a genocidal neocon. See for yourself (said no leftist ever). Unfortunately for Nathan J. Robinson, doing precisely that actually damns his basic claim. Frustration with the left of the kind he's criticizing isn't coming from the Heritage Foundation or Liberty University. It comes from people like myself and many others who've had countless encounters with left wing people online and in real life and report having very similarly frustrating experiences. Common themes include:
  • Robinson has had good luck with leftists if the only anti white, anti male hatred he's encountered is strictly tongue in cheek, or hyperbolic expressions of frustration with white and male privilege. If such expressions abound, that should tell us something about the character of the left in the social media age, and that something isn't good. If expressions of hate for anyone (except the legitimately horrible; Hitler etc) have become acceptable on the left, that's a pretty clear indicator that we've lost the plot. Remember when we hated racism, not white people? When we hated sexism, not men? This was the cant on even the radical left as recently as the 1990s. If you don't think the left has a white hatred problem and a misandry problem, you're not paying attention to a host of sources: twitter, tumblr, a host of woke blogs, r/socialism, most of leftbook, a good portion of breadtube, most online feminism, etc etc. It takes a glaring dose of willful blindness not to see that the left has become about flagrant racial and gender partisanship. It shouldn't be.
  • Leftists are too often not direct and honest in conversation. One wonders if protest is the only way they actually have of communicating with other people. In encounters with ideological rivals, the tendency online is to post vague expressions of disapproval in a scolding and parental tone, intended to gaslight their target into assuming a purely rational, "what did I do wrong?" kind of stance. And then eat them alive. Another is a "whew boys, look at this" sort of post, followed by mocking laughter. This is the entire format of The Majority Report with Sam Seder on YouTube. You know, the channel with the cackling asshole in the background at all times. Chapo Trap House is largely about this as well. While satirizing the right is fun and easy, if that's all they do, one starts to come away from media like this with the impression that what leftists stand for is how smart, clever and funny they think they are. Are actual ideological and policy positions expressed on these shows? Or is it ALL gaslighting? I don't honestly know. We'd do well to learn from the brilliant Kyle Kulinski, who always lets you know exactly what this is - or should be - about policy wise.
  • Leftists have a love of sloganeering, thought stopping rhetorical tricks, witty portmanteaus and reciting, sometimes word for word, official dogmas. I've read the same copy-pasta, word for word, on gender related subjects I don't know how many times now. And as bad as the intersectional feminists are for this, they have nothing on the classical Marxist Leninists and (worst of all) the Maoists. Now these are a thankfully small minority on the left, but do show how we're not immune to the ills of flagrantly cult like thinking.
  • Closed ideological systems, which contain within themselves easy means to dismiss any and all criticism of themselves. Critics are simply white males defending their privilege, reactionary capitalist roaders, kulaks, etc. They all have a stake in the maintenance of the present "oppressive" system. That the cherished dogmas of the left, like Marxist Leninism once upon a time and intersectional feminism today, could be flawed (while still making some correct observations) is inconceivable.  
  • Related to this is a tendency to display "moral relativism in monstrous incarnation."  Which refers to the tendency of leftists to judge actions on the basis of the "classes" of people who perform them, or whether they belong to a "marginalized" vs a "privileged" group. Leftist hating of white males isn't really hatred because hatred is "power plus prejudice" and since feminists and minorities have no power (according to their own self referencing dogmas) they can't be bigots. Violent actions visited upon the kulaks or other enemies of the people are okay. Kto Kovo, right? 
  • Frequent expression, or at least implication, of truly bizarre and extreme views. Consider, for instance, the occasionally cited Schr√∂dinger's Rapist, which implies that all women everywhere should at all times avoid all men, because they have no way of knowing which men are the rapists and which are not. This has clearly not been thought through, and doesn't reflect the way that virtually all progressives and feminists live their lives in the real world. Gee, I wonder why? Yet even if such ideas are not meant to be taken at face value, what does their popularity among leftists and feminists say about their underlying mindset? Most of them may not all really hate all men and white people, but their doctrines certainly open the door to legitimizing such hatred, and anti white male exacerbation is a recurring motif in leftist spaces in a way that would not be tolerated (and rightly so) were the racial and gender identities switched. Are we to believe that only white males have flaws in their character that require self reflection and repentance? At what point do "power" and "privilege" simply become legitimizing rationalizations for why it's okay when the left's charmed circle of preferred identities hate?  I guess the idea that we should not be discriminated against based on our race or gender isn't really the idea after all. This all says something, whether the Nathan J. Robinsons of this world want it to or not. If men, white men especially, are put off by this ongoing pandering to female moral vanity, can we really blame them?
  • Fragility. Put up serious arguments against leftist dogmas, and watch their adherents fall to pieces, or go into full on attack mode. You've caused them personal injury, and they're damn well going to let you - or your employers or people you do business with - know it. They sure the hell let Andy Ngo know it, among others. Of course, they're the first to accuse their opponents of likewise being fragile, with "white fragility" being a common thought stopping slogan among critical race theorists to denounce the tendency among whites to dislike being held collectively responsible for historical mistreatment of minorities. 
I should like to point out that I, and many others, were not told about any of the above second hand by Bret Weinstein or Dave Rubin. We weren't all good, dutiful socialists until Stefan Molyneux or Carl Benjamin somehow brainwashed us into falsely believing all of this. They are experiences that I and countless others, including some of these very "right wing" YouTubers have had, and they aren't isolated occurrences. They are the rule and not the exception, I'm afraid.

And I hate to say all of this, because I am a leftist at heart. I don't even completely disagree with the tenets of today's left: intersectionality and so on. Robinson is right in that we'd do well to listen to those with more experience with particular kinds of discrimination, and not be so quick to get defensive. The problem is the weaponization of intersectionality and the inflation of standpoint theory into claims for full blown infallibility. Plus, we can reasonably question just who the intersectional ideologues are speaking for, and how repesentative professional journalists and academics really are of the downtrodden and marginalized? We're not stupid, Nathan. We know when these ideas are being manipulated so as to establish social dominance. We've been through it with hip, politically correct ideologues time and time again, and the fact our frustration with it gets chalked up to the "alt right" simply compounds the problem.

Where Robinson gives himself, and the mainstream left away, however, is in this pair of quotes:
I am not naturally sympathetic to the “Black Studies made me become a Nazi” position. Partly this is because, as a straight white male myself (and a college Black Studies major), I have no idea what these guys are even talking about. I’ve never been told “fuck you for being a straight white man.” Nothing of the kind.
 One of my colleagues, for instance, has a tendency to joke that all men should be fired into the sun. (At least, I believe she is joking.) Men sometimes email to complain, saying they do not feel “welcomed” into the left and that these jokes are hurtful because they imply that all men are bad. I am not very sympathetic to the men who write these notes, because I am of their gender and I do not feel wounded about remarks advising that men be fired into the sun.
In short, Nathan J. Robinson has not himself ever been told to fuck off for being a straight white man, so we're to assume that never happens. Nathan J. Robinson himself doesn't feel wounded by remarks advising that men be fired into the sun. Therefore, such remarks are well and good.

Well, I hate to have to say this, Nathan, but it isn't all about you. Maybe, just maybe, it's not wise for leftists to countenance white male bashing in their ranks because doing so drives away a huge potential base for support. Support the left needs to actually win elections, take power and actually implement policy that can really help poor and marginalized minorities. Maybe that support and the politics it can achieve is more important to the broader cause than professional educated professional activists getting to be right and dumb rightists being wrong about a cherished point of dogma, such as 'power plus prejudice' or of the ego stroking satisfaction of displaying their unbound feminist wittiness in the face of yet another neanderthal male.

But many leftists will never consider this, and thus the core of the problem on the left reveals itself, and why self reflection (except a vain sort of self criticism of one's own ideological shortcomings, itself a very totalitarian and cultish concept) seems never to be on the table with most leftists:

The left has an egocentrism problem.

Too many leftists are caught up in a kind of narcissism wherein their projected self-concepts as warriors fighting on behalf of the underdog (the precise origin of the derisive use of the phrase social justice warrior) must be shielded at all times from any kind of doubt or criticism. Thus, their reactions to disagreement are always ones of emotionalism, hostility and defensiveness. Never due consideration of what their opponents actually have to say, even if the end result of such consideration would reveal the critics being incorrect and the left's position vindicated by the facts. One gets the sense that, like the religious fundamentalist, many leftists demand blind faith, and the very notion of fact checking thus offends them. To doubt is to be racist, misogynist etc.

It's so much easier just to handwave any and all dissent as the shrill hysteria of this or that right wing pundit, and maybe even call for their deplatforming, milkshaking or the like. So much easier than meeting the challenge head on. The bubble of self satisfaction doesn't get burst that way. Not to say that right wing pundits on YouTube or elsewhere are correct in their own world views. The right has its own problems. However, the lack of self awareness among so many on the left is simply breathtaking.

Perhaps this is why most of the intellectual and activist vigor on the left is poured into digging in their heels over metapolitical dogmas aimed at asserting a kind of ideological infallibility: standpoint theory, power plus prejudice, white male fragility, dissension from feminist and race theory equating to racist and sexist oppression, "hate" speech as a form of actual violence (justifying censorship). As opposed to fighting the good fight for actual policies that will help real people in the real world: universal health care, free education, a living wage, ending petrodollar warfare, a new new deal,  getting money out of politics and so on.

Witty leftists so love their portmanteaus, so I have one of my own: too many leftists are egolitarians. Its meaning should be obvious. So if you are reading this, Nathan J. Robinson, or whoever else on the left who's reading this, let's work at not being egolitarian. Let's make this about the policies we all know we need, that Kyle Kulinski and Bernie Sanders so love to repeat so often. I'm not calling for perfection, purity testing or vigorous tone policing. Rather, let's try to make this about ourselves and our self concepts a little less and about achieving good political results for the most needy and the most marginalized a little more, if we could?

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Saturday, 8 June 2019

Straight Pride and the Gatekeepers of Oppression

A group calling themselves Super Happy Fun America has announced plans to hold a straight pride parade sometime this August in Boston, Massachusetts, and the woke internet isn't happy about it.

The totally sincere and legitimate group describe themselves as follows on their website: "Super Happy Fun America advocates on behalf of the straight community in order to build respect, inclusivity, equality, diversity, unity, solidarity, dignity, social mobility, empowerment, sustainability, justice, awareness, intersectionality, human rights, education, access, participation, dialogue, visibility, tolerance, and alliances with people from all walks of life.  We encourage everyone to embrace our community’s diverse history, culture, and identity regardless of sexual orientation."

Playing it straight for 0.4 years. 
Or something
Strength is our diversity!

Yeah. Totally no trolling or spoofing going on here. This totally doesn't have 4chan, or a very similar source, written all over it. They've even adopted Milo Yiannopoulos as mascot and grand marshal for the parade. Just think about that. Really think about it. Take your time, and let it sink in.

It should be obvious by now that SHFA isn't playing this straight.

Plus I'm sure you'll be shocked to discover that the masterminds behind this stroke of genius also have a history of involvement in far right bootlickery more generally. One Mark Sahady, parade organizer, has a history with a group called Resist Marxism, founded by "based stick man" Kyle Chapman, according to this Daily Beast article. Don't get me wrong, I'm no fan of antifa and found them hard to sympathize with even when one of them did get whapped upside the head, but here we have the exact reason that the far right is a lame dud that will never come to anything, and is no vehicle for dissent and protest against globalism.

Resist Marxism.

Yeah. You go, boys.

Should this farce of a parade actually take place, expect to see far less of their corny heterosexual pride banners and far more defacing of the hammer and sickle. Because even more than queer tyranny over straights, Marxism is clearly a looming power in America today. One look at the current US administration and one can only wonder how long it will be before industry is placed under worker's control, finance is nationalized and agricultural collectivization is to begin? On a more serious note, what being anti-Marxist has to do with heterosexual pride is anyone's guess. I don't think the Soviets were that keen on LGBT issues, to put things mildly. Marx himself was a heterosexually married man. The phrase "bourgeois decadence" comes to mind here.

So yes, far right cringe. Behind an all but acknowledged as farcical facade of straight white male pride, you'll get just the kind of anti-social welfare, anti-public sector, anti-union, anti-socialist and anti-social democracy cringe fest we've all come to love and expect from the yellow and black crowd. I can hardly wait!

Yet this is not what the progressives criticizing this are up in arms about. This is about identity politics, and as you can imagine, the internet is responding with what it does best. OUTRAGE!

Some examples you might have expected:

"This is why straight people don't get to have a fucking pride parade." Followed by a link to a news story about a violent homophobic incident, wherein a lesbian couple was allegedly assaulted on a double decker bus in London, UK.

"A straight pride parade is kinda like throwing a fundraiser for healthy people because people with Cancer had one."

"Straight men already have a pride parade - it’s called the Senate."

Et cetera. Straights get to have a pride parade when straights have a history of being oppressed like LGBTQ folks have.  To be clear, this straight pride parade sounds like the stupidest thing I've heard of in quite some time. I wouldn't be caught dead at this parade, assuming it even goes ahead, except maybe to make fun of it. And even then, probably not, since even if I did live in Boston, I have better things to do.

But as little use as I have for any of this, I also have concerns with this whole "straights/whites/males don't get to have a pride day" mindset. Not because I think straight (or white or male) pride is needed. As I indicated above, I don't think that even the far right organizers of this charade really believe that. What concerns me is the social justice crowd appointing themselves the gatekeepers of who is and isn't oppressed, deciding exclusively among themselves that one must first be deemed oppressed in order to be able to put on a pride parade, and therefore who gets to have a pride parade and who doesn't.

While I'm not necessarily against the idea that pride is more appropriate for a group that has had to struggle for its rights as opposed to groups who have always defined what the norm is, I still wonder who died and decided that professional progressive ideologues were the ones who get to decide all of this?  Perhaps, by that rationale, a pride parade is in order for everyone who isn't a professional queer, feminist or critical race theorist. And the Fortune 500, Washington beltway lobbyists and the military industrial complex can probably sit that one out as well.

This mindset is already coming around to bite Pride in the tail, as is evidenced by recent incidents wherein Black Lives Matter has taken it upon themselves to decide that Pride parades should not include uniformed police officers. BLM gets to decide this on behalf of Pride because of intersectionality. Or to make Pride more "inclusive." Or something. Such are the issues that arise when the self appointed vanguard of groups that assign marginalized status to themselves can then take it upon themselves to police the public expression of other groups, and be seen as legitimate in the media in doing so, because marginalization. It doesn't sound like an environment where anyone gets to decide for themselves whether they can have a pride parade or not. Is this really what progressives want?

As much as I do agree in principle with race and sex based equality, this "power plus prejudice' mentality is profoundly anti-liberal and undemocratic, especially when the gatekeepers themselves actually become powerful enough to impose their will on the governmental authorities who actually issue the permits. Last time I checked, the right to free speech, to assembly and to protest belonged to all equally. To decide that only some and not others should have it is the very definition of privilege, exactly the thing the woke crowd professes to be against. Well, only when "privilege" is narrowly defined as an essential feature of whiteness, masculinity and heterosexuality, it would seem.

I don't recall being consulted about how oppression was defined and what privileges get granted to those who fall under its umbrella. No one I knew was either. I don't recall "we the people" being able to vote on the definition of who is and is not oppressed, and therefore who is and is not allowed to have a pride parade in honor of their identity. I don't recall any of this being seriously debated in any sort of public forum. As usual, mainstream media didn't present the arguments in a for and against format. Somewhere along the line, we just started being told who was and wasn't marginalized and oppressed, and therefore who was and wasn't entitled to a pride parade. Told by professional academics and activists in the media and in the education system, and whose dictates have since been parroted ceaselessly on social media, in comments sections and by any "progressive" eager to evangelize. Progressive, in the same sense that Lenin's idea of a "democratic" centralist, vanguard party was progressive. Which is to say, not at all.

No recourse, no debate, no looking under the hood of the institutions which have formulated and propagated these dictates, no thinking for oneself or seeking a second opinion about the issues of race, gender or sexual orientation. This is not good for an open, liberal democratic polity. To question any of this is to be a far right bigot, we are told. That sounds like a dangerous recipe for a self fulfilling prophecy, if you ask me.

As a curious aside, the white male working class wasn't included in the charmed circle of marginalized groups. Rich or poor, if you are a straight white dude, you are "privileged" and therefore an acceptable target for progressive scorn by default. And we wonder why they voted for Trump.

Indeed, I suspect that the real outrage over this straight pride parade among the woke twittersphere has a lot less to do with the demonstrable threat to LGBTQ rights posed by this parade (which is virtually negligible, since the vast majority of the people taking this parade at all seriously will be the counter-protesters) but because some straight white dudes somewhere are daring to challenge the authority of the self appointed holy trinity of feminist, critical race and queer theorists. Despite the fact that challenging authority was, until recently it seems, supposedly a left wing value. As long as it isn't the progressive establishment's authority, of course.

And while the challenge may in this case be stupid and juvenile, the authority itself also lacks democratic legitimacy and has zero transparency and accountability. And I find that a lot more worrying than the antics of some 4chan themed group trolling social media with plans for something so cringy and stupid as a straight pride parade.

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Saturday, 18 May 2019

Dear Angry White Men

Niko Shimada is right. Angry white men are right to be angry. But let's be angry at the right targets. While I can't say for sure, Niko doesn't seem to be taking us down a productive path here, though I could be wrong and hope I am. Perhaps it would be useful to break this tweet down and look at it in more detail.

"The media despises and belittles you."

Definitely. Hatred of white males is rife in the media. The more important question here is: why? (((Easy answers))) are attractive because they're, well, easy. Blaming some or another group of others comes naturally to us. We're hardwired for tribalism. But ease sacrifices accuracy in cases such as this. Sometimes the real enemy isn't some or another group of others from a foreign land, but rather our own elites - the people we naturally view as beautiful and even heroic - who are much more the real threat, and the situation much more complicated than reactionary conspiracy theorists who lay it all at the feet of "cultural Marxism" would have us believe.

Let's take a closer look.

The most crucial thing to understand about media is how it really works. This is best outlined by Noam Chomsky in his seminal work, Manufacturing Consent - two and three quarter hours of solid red pill - real red pill, if you're ever of the mind to invest the time - wherein he describes media as corporations whose real purpose is to sell audiences to other corporations. In short, it profits through advertising, and it attracts advertisers by offering them large and/or prosperous consumer bases.

So what does this have to do with white male bashing in the media?  If media needs to attract advertisers, it needs a relatively prosperous consumer base. This usually entails an educated consumer base, since education and income levels correlate.  It should be no secret by now that feminist theory and critical race theory, attributing oppression and inequality to racial and gender identity exclusively, have a considerable presence on college campuses.

So called "social justice" and identity politics are a safe, nerfed form of radical deconstruction and protest culture. Engaging in them allows otherwise privileged students to feel as though they're progressive, edgy, subversive, challenging oppressive power structures and on the right side of history. It also gives them an acceptable target on which to project any guilt they may feel over their very real privilege, given that they're able to attend elite post secondary institutions and the numerous benefits this entails, have access to influential media sources and so on. All of this without ever actually posing a real challenge to the real corporate and state power that really calls the shots, to the detriment of most. Were you in a seat of corporate power, what more could you want?

The narrative that white males have gotten where they are entirely off of sexism, racism and oppression is necessary to uphold because it helps make neoliberal economic policies that have devastated the white male working class more palatable. It eases the conscience of the political class. No need to look at who the real beneficiaries of deindustrialization and global capitalism have been, since those who've suffered from it deserve it because colonialism, patriarchy and white male privilege.

Not to say that racism, sexism, colonialism and patriarchy are not now (to some extent) and have not in history been very real evils, worthy of criticism, condemnation and opposition. But let's be honest here, that's not what this vain, pseudo leftism is really about. If these "woke" corporations such as Gillette Razors really cared about the well being of women and people of color, they'd start by looking at the wages and conditions in their 3rd world manufacturing facilities. The pseudo leftism so beloved by academia, Hollywood and Silicon Valley ends rather abruptly where corporate and state power begins.

Plus, white men do not help themselves by consistently being the most conservative, pro-corporate voting block when broken down by race and gender. Look at any internet libertarian, mad as hell about taxes and the "gibmedat" attitude of those stupid liberals and it's usually, though not always, a white male.

But then, what has the left offered him in return? The so called left abandoned the working class long ago. Looking at the US Democrats, this beginning even in Kennedy and Johnson's time and being more or less complete by the presidency of Bill Clinton. So when given a choice between a center right that pretends to sympathize with them, and a center "left" that openly scapegoats them, can white males really be blamed for opting for the former?

Plus, it's worth noting too that most domestic, consumer spending in the 1st world is controlled by women, though the precise figures vary. Some estimates are that women control or strongly influence over 80% of non-business consumer spending. This figure is not universally agreed on, however. But there's no question that the purchasing power is there. Moreover, women constitute a higher percentage of college graduates overall than men.  Most crucially, women are vastly more likely to be activist consumers, display a willingness to organize and participate in boycotts, liaise effectively with corporate media structures and criticize the media, all for its portrayal of their gender and concern, or lack thereof, for women's issues.

So why not pander to the vanity of this group and contrast them favorably against an inferior male of the species? Especially if this can be effectively disguised as social justice and female empowerment, offering up "thoughtful" criticism of "toxic masculinity" or the like? All for their own good, of course. Plus demonizing men makes them less attractive as partners for women, and we all know what happens when men and women get together: love, marriage and the baby carriage, as the child's jump rope chant goes. And from there maternity leave, prenatal health care, K-12 education, dependents to cover with expensive health plans, and so on. All very expensive. Better to outsource our reproduction to the 3rd world in the form of mass immigration. We outsource most everything else these days, so why not that?

Women are more valuable as workers and consumers than as wives and mothers, and since we can't fire them for hooking up with men anymore like we could in the bad old days of early capitalism, better to disincentive all of this heterosexual liasing as heterosexist, objectification and harassment. Men who protest can be dismissed as hypersensitive (even though lacking in sensitivity is precisely what is highlighted in these criticisms of masculinity - but then you don't need logic or consistency because the media won't scrutinize your claims when feminism is your marketing gimmick) or reactionary cranks, yesterday's men and so on. Who cares about them, right?

"Corporations seek to feminize and pacify you."

No argument here. But again, it's worth asking why?

Capital has been seeking to subdue labor since it first emerged out of the middle ages as a power unto itself. So it should not surprise us that a pacified work force is exactly what they want. Wages, benefits and amenities to improve working conditions tend to fall under the 'expenses' section of your average income statement. Since net income equals revenue minus expense, there's a powerful incentive to keep these figures as low as possible.

Historically, this was done in a rather messy and heavy handed way. If the workers got uppity, just send in the Pinkertons, the National Guard or maybe even the Ku Klux Klan to bust some skulls. Prior to Roosevelt's 1935 signing of the National Labor Relations Act, it was not uncommon for labor disputes in the US to result in an actual body count, almost always consisting of labor, not capital. Worker's rights were never genuinely accepted by the US policy making elite, and the presidency of Ronald Reagan is known for being an era of renewed hostility to labour. The 1981 firing of striking PATCO workers was merely the beginning.

This era of mass media presents both new challenges and new opportunities. New challenges in that violent union busting or even scabbing out striking workers poses a significant public relations problem. New opportunities in that mass media can be used to keep workers pacified in other ways. Union suppression and union avoidance is now much more psychological and relational, basically taking on the characteristics of a public relations campaign, although threatening to close the doors and relocate if workers do not accept rock bottom wages and remain non union is always an option, if you have the capital to pull it off.

Of course, you can go the Koch Bro's route and fund media and outreach projects that frame capitalist productive relations along libertarian and conservative lines. This has worked quite well in the internet age, and many young white men trade fast and free in Friedmanite talking points, and are quite understandably icy on working class identity and solidarity. Except when it can be used to attack feminism, of course.

A more subtle technique, alluded to above, is to reframe public conversations about inequality, power and privilege. Again, cast these as race or gender issues. Redefine power dynamics in the workplace, especially in the post me too and time's up era, along gender as opposed to class lines. Better yet to get your work force to internalize guilt-inducing narratives surrounding power and privilege. A white male working class that has been effectively neutered by internalized white male guilt delivered by incessant intersectional feminist propaganda is likely to lack the spirit needed to fight for their interests in the economic sphere. I mean, if you already feel that you have too much because what you already have is the result of unearned white male privilege, how motivated will you be to go on strike for improved wages and conditions?  The deconstruction of western patriarchal culture undertaken by the postmodern left may well have undermined religious and national loyalties, but in doing so has undermined class consciousness as well. Last I heard, white male workers have no need to unionize, since they already have white male privilege, and so would be taking union protection away from more marginalized people by doing so.

Sigh. Yeah.

Moreover, a left wing preoccupied with racial and gender identity politics will care a lot less about class and economic issues and lend less support to working class political and workplace efforts. If all else fails, dismiss working class leftism as "Bernie bros" "brocialists" or "class reductionists" or something like that.

In any event, most politics aimed at working class white males will not be friendly to their political or economic interests in the long term. Besides demonizing immigrants and feminism, these kinds of reactionaries are also anti-union and favor leaving all to the wolves of the free market, often equating anti-white and anti-male politics with socialism and Marxism. The "globalism" they so love to deride is a corporately driven phenomena, motivated by profit and was criticized first by organized labor, who rightly saw the threat it posed not only to the working class, but to the economic and ultimately the social fabric of the nations who so eagerly embraced it back in the 1990s.

Finally, while I do disagree with a lot of feminist deconstructions of masculinity, we would do well to ask ourselves how good this go-it-alone tough guy mindset has really been for us. Machismo and right wing politics have a long history of being in alignment with one another. Unions, social welfare and regulations are for wusses. Real men, with barrel chests and square jaws, don't complain or whine, they roll up their sleeves and power through anything and everything, all by themselves, long as it takes. Gee, I wonder who the long term beneficiaries of that end up being in a capitalist economy?  Oh well, just ball up your fists and punch anyone who asks questions like that.

"Immigrants seek to disempower you, rape your women and murder you."

Now come on. Really? I'd say this is true of a small portion of the immigrant population. But the general sentiment here is just silly. And on top of that, it's mean spirited and distracts, perhaps intentionally, from the real issues.

I'm no fan of open door immigration and am no opponent of "borders." Don't misunderstand me here.  Some militants will exploit loopholes in the refugee system, and the grooming gangs in Europe are not exactly a secret now, and failing to vet immigrants for things like membership in militant organizations for fear of looking "racist" is definitely an act of political irresponsibility. But is it reasonable to think that most immigrants are coming to the west with the intent of destroying our culture and raping our women?

I mean, fair's fair here. If it's wrong to hold all males collectively responsible for the crimes perpetuated by some men against women, as reactionaries and "red pill" types rightly assert, why is it okay to then do precisely this to Muslim, minority and immigrant communities? If it's okay to profile people, it's okay to profile everybody. If it isn't okay, it's not okay to profile anybody. Of course, progressives merely reverse this mistake when they cry racism against protests over grooming gangs, but then attribute rape to a culture of toxic masculinity and privilege which benefits all men, and therefore render all men morally culpable. Double standards are fine because power plus prejudice, apparently.

Realistically, most immigrants come to the west for a better life. Why might that be? Notice that no one asks why they're migrating in the first place? It couldn't be because neoliberal austerity measures imposed on the third world by the globalists stymie economic development in the global south and farm them for cheap exports to be consumed in the west and the profits hoarded by global multinationals? Couldn't be that, could it? It couldn't be because neoconservative foreign policies topple governments not friendly to the aforementioned neoliberal austerity measures, and reduce targeted nations into rubble heaps and war zones? Could it be that also, maybe?

Never! They're coming to the west to burn our churches and rape our women! Yeah, has to be! I read it on 4chan, I heard it on a redpill YouTube channel, and they're never wrong!

"Your leaders want another war for Israel"

I really, really hope this is rooted in a reasoned criticism of Israeli foreign policy and valid concerns over the strength of pro Israeli lobbies in Washington, and not just a stupid anti-semetic dog whistle. Because when reasoned analysis of complicated geopolitical situations that take into account a bevy of historical, economic, religious, ethnic, military and cultural factors runs up against baseless and long debunked conspiracy theories, we all know that people are reasonable and appreciate a factual analysis, right? I mean, we know that people will also take energy politics and the petrodollar into account when looking at western middle east foreign policy, right? Right?

Nah! Our leaders want more war for Israel in the middle east because Elders of Zion. You know, the same Elders of Zion who want the very same Muslims they want our aid in fighting against in the middle east to flood our own nations and convert our populations to Islam because they just hate white people that much. Or something. Who needs logic when you have a good, old fashioned conspiracy theory to make you feel self righteous about being victimized and persecuted!

"Billionaires give your jobs to machines"

Yes they do. And why might they do this, I wonder? And what should we do about that? Increased education and job training? A guaranteed income or maybe even a job guarantee? A sovereign wealth fund, to enable western governments and peoples to share in some of the profits so generated by these newly automated industries? Hell, dare I say it ... nationalize industry and/or place it under some form of worker's or social control? You know, seize the means of production and all that?

Never! That stuff is all communism, and if that's what you want, soy boy, how about moving to Venezuela! Those billionaires legitimately earned all of that money. Every cent of it. Workers should consider themselves lucky they had their overpaid jobs in places like Walmart and Amazon to begin with! Jeff Bezos and the Waltons would not have been successful had then not been both geniuses and saints, and they and they alone deserve every last cent earned by their respective corporate empires, because nobody else did anything at all to contribute to or enable their success. That'll trigger the libtard snowflakes!

So what we really need to do is show these feminists, immigrants, cultural Marxists, liberals and George Soros - who somehow isn't like other billionaires because he apparently hates white people and the west because reasons - who's boss and elect a strong, traditionalist right wing government. Who can then deregulate these automated megacorporations, and give their c-suite executives lavish tax cuts while they're at it. So that they can, in turn, off-shore more industry to further increase their profits, because capitalism and that will somehow make the west great again. Or something.

So I'm going to be serious and honest now. White men, you have every right to be angry. Your leaders have betrayed you. Absolutely they have. But let's be angry at the right people here. While you don't have to tolerate white bashing and male bashing from the pseudo left, and you have been tolerating far too much of that for far too long now, please don't see women, immigrants and minorities as your true enemy. Their anger at white males is likewise engineered and misguided, and by the same people as the people who betrayed you. Surely by now you know who they are, right? At least let's be clear about (((who they are not)))

Perhaps one day, angry women and minorities and angry white men can come to realize that they stand to gain way more together than by flying at one another's throats in a contrived, for profit culture war, and eventually create a world where we all have a good deal less to be angry about.

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Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Authoritarian Leftism

For some, the idea of an authoritarian left is a contradiction in terms. Authoritarianism is the province of the right, and can only ever be so. Even if the left does become violent, doing so while resisting power is fundamentally different than doing so while abusing power.

The idea of the authoritarian personality was first proposed in a 1950 book of the same name, by Theodor Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford, researchers working at the University of California, Berkeley. Some of those names may be familiar to you, and are associated with the dreaded Frankfurt School and all of the western civilization hating cultural Marxism long associated with it.

It is from this work that the widely spread F Scale came to prominence. The F Scale is a survey (take the test here) intended to measure one's propensity to fascistic sympathies, and consists of the following metrics:

  • Conventionalism: A disposition to favoring established middle class values.
  • Authoritarian Submission: A propensity to obey superiors without question, and to demand the same from subordinates.
  • Authoritarian Aggression: A desire to punish those who violate group norms and conventional values.
  • Anti-Intraception: A hostility towards an introverted disposition and self reflection, feeding into a valuation of action for its own sake.
  • Superstition and Stereotypy: Belief in non-rational concepts, and to think of people in rigid, categorical terms.
  • Power and Toughness: A "might makes right" kind of attitude and disdain for softer, tender sentiments and emotion.
  • Destructiveness and Cynicism: A deep seated nihilism and lack of concern for the welfare of others, coming out in a propensity towards high risk adventures such as war making.
  • Projectivity: The authoritarian projects these flaws and failings onto hated out groups.
  • Sex: A great fear of sexual pleasure and intimacy, at least for its own sake. Sex is politicized in the authoritarian mind.
The Authoritarian Personality has a long history of criticism for rooting its analysis in the ideological biases of its authors, some of whom were, as previously mentioned, Frankfurt School Marxists. It was well and good to tie a propensity to fascism to a repressive personality type, supposedly rooted in abusively authoritarian family structures. But how did this explain what we were discovering then, and had known for some time even, that Stalin's USSR was not preferable to fascist Europe as far as authoritarianism was concerned? Moreover, Mao Zedong in China was about to embark on a new phase of leftist repression. 

One could easily suggest that the western world at that time had only known right wing authoritarianism. Russia and China were distant lands with foreign cultures and histories, and perhaps Frankfurt intellectuals could be forgiven for not viewing leftist authoritarianism in a comparable light. Similar claims would emerge out of the culture wars of the 1980s and 90s, wherein the forces of repression and censorship came mainly from right wing evangelical groups. 

Such dismissals reveal a deep hypocrisy in the leftist intellectual establishment in the west. If they are to idealize foreign cultures and hold them up as superior examples to the west, let them at least understand those cultures and their histories.

Feel the Democracy
Never the less, some elements of the F Scale do not lend themselves to a measure of left wing authoritarianism. After all, conventionality is a value completely at odds with leftism, especially today. Doesn't the left oppose stereotypical views of outgroups? Isn't the left much more tolerant of people's sexual proclivities? Isn't the left more self aware and self critical by its very nature?

One look at college SJWs should answer those questions. It should be clear by now that there is a new authoritarianism of the left. To measure it, the F Scale may have to be modified somewhat, though.
  • In place of conventionalism, I'd offer up a kind of mandated subversiveness, especially when subversiveness becomes less about challenging actual power structures and more about policing personal values, beliefs and relationships. Political correctness finds its roots here - the mandating of the use of language that supposedly challenges preconceived notions of power and privilege. Even when much more, well, conventional structures of authority are used to enforce this supposed subversiveness. Silicon Valley oligopolies firing employees who challenge postmodern narratives about the social construction of gender would be an example
  • Authoritarian submissiveness: We've seen the prevalence of standpoint theory, which asserts a sort of exceptional basis for truth claims made by those with marginalized identities. This drives the propensity to handwave debate in favor of insistence that "privileged" people simply remain silent and obey. The infamous progressive stack is a manifestation of this. A marginalized identitfy becomes an infallible claim on truth - provided the party line is being espoused, of course.
  • Authoritarian aggression: Antifa is the most glaring example, but we see a strong predisposition to punish and hurt, rather than engage in dialogue with ideological rivals among certain kinds of leftists. Deplatforming is an obvious example. As are drives to get people fired from their jobs, artistic or cultural projects associated with "problematic" people cancelled or taken off the market, banning from social media and so forth. 
  • Anti-Intraception is a bit more complicated. Authoritarian leftist spaces are somewhat notorious for "self criticism" - which seems like a kind of intraception that is not only encouraged, but mandatory. However, this is never to be done with the intent of holding the movement, its leaders and ideology to any sort of account. Rather, the activist is charged with reflecting on their own ideological shortcomings, meaning failure to adequately align with the correct line. This is a deeply authoritarian maneuver in that it is meant to insure in-group loyalty. Action for its own sake comes out in an idealization of protest and civil disobedience. The use of these kinds of militant tactics against relatively powerless rather than powerful targets - conservative students on college campuses, for example, or with the backing rather than in the face of the power of the state is a definite exercise in authoritarian power.
  • The left is less prone to superstition than the right overall, but they do indulge in a heavily mythologized world view. In place of God or natural racial supremacy, the left substitutes most famously the historical dialectic marching, however slowly and frustratingly, to the ultimate end of a classless society. Since the reemergence of romanticism with the new left, an idealization of nature, goddess centric forms of spirituailty and an idealization of foreign religions has also emerged with it. This drives a tendency to paper over or ignore the obvious problems in those cultures and religious systems, either in the name of multicultural tolerance, or due to claims that western imperialism are ultimately to blame or are guilty of greater evils. 
  • As for stereotyping, the notion that white males are privileged and powerful by default should qualify. Interactions with intersectional leftists make clear that people are merely the sum of their identities and the political weights and values attached to those identities as far as they're concerned. This kind of dehumanization is foundational to authoritarianism, and creates the impression that these kinds of leftists are awash in dogmas that choke off spontaneous and natural human interaction. 
  • Power and toughness: We see this in the disdain that the feminized left of our time has for marginalized and alienated men, incels in particular. Not to condone the glaring pathologies of incel ideology, but the feminist disdain for those males who have lost the darwinian competition for status and resources is fairly obvious. Obvious too is their gloating despite for the social decline of the white male overall, even where it is shown that this decline occurred as a result of a global neoliberalism that no one on the left has any business defending. Additionally, a real machismo permeates even many feminist spaces, where non feminist men are ridiculed for "not getting laid" and male feminists in particular present their views with macho bravado. Which goes beyond irony to feed into ...
  • Destructiveness, Cynicism and Projectivity: I hate to get anecdotal and psychological here, but such is the kind of territory we're entering here. This deals more with the conflicted internal psyche of the authoritarian, driving a sort of "death instinct" leading to destructive behavior. The authoritarian left is infamous for "eating their own", as it were. When male feminists get outed for engaging in sexually predatory behavior, I wonder if their professed feminism isn't an attempt to quell a guilty conscience? Does the white male guilt lead to a lot of self sabotaging, self destructive kinds of behaviors? There've been times when some or another radical activist's conduct was so cringy and outlandish that I wondered if there wasn't a barely repressed desire to be "put in their place" so to speak. A widespread theory in "redpill" communities online is that feminism is a kind of "shit test" aimed at men as a whole. Such ideas are difficult to prove, but equally difficult not to at least consider when seeing authoritarians at their most irrational.
  • Sex. This ties into the previous point. The Frankfurt scholar's ideas are rooted in a Freudian notion that authoritarian rigidity is rooted in a kind of defense mechanism against feared and forbidden sexual instincts. The left is commonly associated with a more relaxed attitude on sexual matters, but there's clearly exceptions to this rule. So called anti-sex, or sex-negative feminism is an obvious case in point. The quickness with which cries of objectification and sexism are raised in any discussion of attraction and desire, especially on part of men towards women, suggests a discomfort with the deeper and more personal aspects of sexuality that belies the clinical objectivity and emphasis on transaction and negotiation of boundaries which define the "progressive" approach to sex. While they pay lip service to women making choices for themselves and their own pleasure, there's a thinly veiled preference for non-sexuality between the sexes that permeates left wing spaces. 
It could be objected by the radical leftist that methods deemed "authoritarian" are necessary to adequately challenge oppressive social norms and dominant power structures. Leftists have a long history of defending repressive or even violent measures carried out by their own - going back at least as far as Lenin's ideas of "kvo kovo" - meaning "who-whom." Who benefits? Repressive actions that favored the Soviet State were justified, necessary even, in a way that were morally reprehensible when carried out by conservative or reactionary authoritarians.

Similar lines of reasoning appear in Herbert Marcuse's concept of "repressive tolerance", in definitions of racism and sexism as "prejudice plus power" that render it impossible for women and minorities to be racist or sexist, and in the "standpoint theories" that lend an air of infallibility to the perspectives of the marginalized and oppressed - as long as they don't align with their oppressors, of course. 

Maybe so. But a crucial test here has to be the question of just how powerful the targets of leftist wrath and ire really are. In a sense, this holds them to their own moral standards. A civil disobedience campaign carried out against the state to protest persecution of minorities or an unjust war is a very different matter than campaigns of harassment and intimidation carried out against mere citizens who've somehow or another transgressed the boundaries of what's politically correct. One of these is punching up, the other punching down, to borrow their own phraseology. 

A defining characteristic of authoritarianism is that it punches down. Authoritarians don't look for fair fights, and they certainly don't challenge injustice when it comes down from on-high. Left wing authoritarians are no different. What they do differently is manipulate ideology to tell themselves that the victims of authoritarian aggression coming from the left are really the unjust beneficiaries of power and privilege, however striking the evidence to the contrary may be. 

The kulaks in the USSR were the ur-example, and the bloodiest instance of this seen thus far, but the dynamic whereby non-feminist academics and media personalities get drummed out of their jobs for uttering politically incorrect views is essentially the same. So too is violence carried out against unpopular speakers on college campuses, particularly if its with the tacit approval of the college's faculty and administrative structure. A strike, boycott or a protest against a corporation engaging in bad business practices does not qualify, however. Nor does a protest against a powerful and corrupt political figure, or the bringing to justice of anyone whose abused their power or violated somebody's rights. But justice always entails due process. Authoritarian leftists are open about their disdain for due process. If any kind of civil right or civil liberty is denounced as a mere tool for the oppressors to carry on dominating the weak and marginalized, good chance you're dealing with an authoritarian leftist.

An individual or group rendered powerless by a shifting power dynamic still getting treated as if they were the beneficiaries of unjust preference, and that being used as a legitimizing pretense to crack down on them. That's the defining characteristic of the very real and very dangerous phenomenon of authoritarian leftism.

Read about how intersectional feminism is an authoritarian system of power serving elite interests.

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Saturday, 6 April 2019

Ignorance of Capitalism Also Risks “Absolute Catastrophe”

Articles like this - written by Paul Joseph Watson quoting Jordan Peterson, are why I've lost much sympathy for these fuzzy-vaguely right leaning Intellectual Dark Web types - the ones who simply shill for rightist ideas, at any rate. I never agreed with them on most substantial issues, but I sympathized with the push to diversify the ideological landscape, at least in mainstream media and academia. And of course, who could like the SJWs these days? Arrogant, dogmatic and narrow minded. I sympathized as much with anger towards them in 2016 as I did with anger against the Christian right in 2006.

Then as now, I also temper that anger with a warning: Don't lose sight of the bigger picture, and don't adopt your enemy's bad habits. Because if you do, you won't be truly victorious even if you do win in the short term political sense. That's how the SJWs happened, and that seems to be happening with the "cultural libertarians" as well.

PJW's article is a complete mess. Its only saving grace is its brevity. Yet it manages to contain everything I've come to dislike about the current crop of online reactionary anti-SJW thinkers. Indeed, as far as ideology goes, they're scarcely preferable to the SJWs at all any more. There is, thus far, no accompanying authoritarian drive for censorship, but the self awareness now seems to be so lacking that I can't help but wonder if even that isn't just a matter of time.

Watson reports:
During an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation this week, the clinical psychologist and best-selling author said that millennials are embracing far-left ideology because they weren’t taught about its disastrous outcomes at school. 
“People are unbelievably ignorant of history,” said Peterson. “What young people know about 20th-century history is nonexistent, especially about the history of the radical left. How would you know? They are never taught about it so why would they be concerned about it?”
Observe firstly that in other contexts, Jordan Peterson has repeatedly denied being a rightist partisan. Yet here he's quoted as addressing the Heritage Foundation - a right leaning think tank last time I checked, repeating oft-heard talking points on the evils of socialism. Not that Stalinist communism is a good system, mind you, but I'd find Peterson's shtick of not being a right winger a bit more convincing if this was a takedown of laissez faire capitalism delivered to a genuinely centrist audience, since that's what we in the west have actually been living under and suffering under for the last half century now. Not socialism.

A warning that people could turn to revolutionary socialism if the extreme inequalities in capitalism are not addressed as they were via Roosevelt's New Deal could be issued, and that would be a good reason to undertake a new new deal, but that's not what we have here. Just talking points that I could copy and paste from nearly any right wing internet source.

Yet here we see an ongoing preoccupation with the dangers posed by socialism and equality of outcome. Not massive inequality, which is much closer to be beast we quarrel with these days. Wealth inequality in the US has never been greater than it is now. I'll sympathize more with the destructive potential of equality of outcome - which I don't honestly doubt - when that's the destructive potential we're actually really staring down the barrel of.

PJW continues:
He also explained that the simplistic socialist notion of caring for as many people as possible was very alluring for people who had an emotional view of humanity. 
Young people are “emotionally drawn to the ideals of socialism, say, or the left, because it draws its fundamental motivational source from a kind of primary compassion, and that is always there in human beings,” said Peterson.
Seriously? And people are not also emotionally drawn to classical mythology or biblical narratives? The kind Peterson specializes in teaching to his audiences? There's no emotional appeal there? There's no emotional appeal in right wing politics? There's no emotional appeal in alpha male hero worship, which we're being asked by the right to engage in, so as to look the other way as far as massive wealth inequality and abuses of power are concerned?

I'll grant the idea that the left should rely a bit less on emotional appeal and also be prepared to back itself up with, for lack of better terms, facts and logic, is one I think they'd do well to heed. The left has ceded too much to the right over the years to let them have facts and logic also. The tendency of a feminized left to rely on moral outrage to emotionally extort agreement from audiences has been catastrophic for progressives over the last several years. It's fed directly into the perception of the left as a cult of self righteousness and moral supremacy that's turned out to be a gold mine for reactionaries of all stripes.

Having said that, just why is it wrong to have an emotionally derived desire to care for the downtrodden and less fortunate in any event? Why are such sentiments bad? Were I Peterson, I'd be much more concerned with the lack of empathy for the poor and sick that I often see in right of center online spaces. Yes, social justice activism on the far left can drive self righteousness and dogmatism. But that's not what's being critiqued here.

This is exactly the kind of Petersonian double talk that David Pakman does such a good job of taking down here, where Pakman critiques an address delivered by Peterson at Liberty University, founded by the late Reverend Jerry Falwell to teach fundamentalist biblical ideas. Because I suppose those are the kinds of hosts you have when you're totally not a right winger:

I find it quite astounding that Peterson's attacks on the "postmodern left's" lack of respect and value for free speech gains applause in a "college" established by none other than Reverend Jerry Falwell, whose Moral Majority were calling for all kinds of censorship, ranging from metal music to table top role playing games and porn to anything deemed not sufficiently "Godly" back in the 1980s.

Is this what the anti-SJW free speech cultural libertarians have sunk to? The same whose criticisms of the regressive left not so long ago centered around just how like the religious right it was? Down the memory hole with that, I guess. We were never at war with Eurasia, we have always been at war with Eastasia, by the sounds of things.

It's especially galling for Jordan Peterson to be this dumb. He's not an unintelligent man, when he's in his element, which is Jungian psychology and comparative mythology. Unless, of course, that's the plan here. Is a man whose area of expertise is the study of heroic mythology not creating a mythos of his own, with which to bind and cement the loyalty of a fan base?

From PJW's article:
Peterson also blamed the “unholy marriage of the postmodern nihilism with this Marxist utopian notion” for the breakdown in social and family unity, a process which has produced an “absolute catastrophe”
The foundation of every mythologized belief system is the creation of a bad guy. For the SJWs, it's the white male patriarchy. And for Peterson, it's "postmodern Marxism." Which are not complex philosophical views with deep and nuanced, sometimes flawed and sometimes insightful observations and theories, but rather simply EVIL! They hate the west and capitalism and success because ... well, because reasons. Or something. The same reasons that SJWs assert that conservatives and Trumpians just hate hate HATE black people and women. Because reasons.

And the reasons are that political mythologies begin with a villain. A dastardly "them" for "us" to fight if we're to be the heroes that our mythical systems cast us as. Every ideological system, my own included, does this.

It's unfortunate that a man of Peterson's true intellectual caliber has chosen to go down the path he has, and I honestly wonder if he's not taking Koch Bro's cash at this point? After all, it did more or less the same thing to Dave Rubin - turn him into a pseudo libertarian right wing shill who gets notoriously evasive and vague when his alleged "centrism" gets called out. Not that the left is without flaws or undeserving of criticism mind you, but as David Pakman puts it, don't say you're not a rightist when you are one.

What I try to do differently, what I urge those who follow me on social media to do differently is to base my political mythology in the material realities of today's world. While I wouldn't argue with Peterson in that Soviet communism was terrible, I'd also urge everyone to look deeper at where the appeal of revolutionary socialism might come from in this day and age. Why might millennials have a better view of socialism than of capitalism? Hmm ... I just don't know! What could it be?

Maybe it's growing up after the great recession? Maybe seeing the banks get bailed out while main street continues to languish? Maybe seeing a long term trend towards stagnant wages and structural unemployment alongside ever skyrocketing profits for a tiny few? Maybe not having health insurance, paying exorbitant prices for pharmaceuticals and premiums for health plans with high deductibles and co-pays to boot? Or being put in serious financial jeopardy by a $500 car repair bill, something that would merely be an inconvenience for someone like myself?

Maybe it's the fact that there's never money for college or basic infrastructure but always money for wars and high income tax cuts? Maybe seeing the benefits of trickle down economics not trickle down for year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation? Maybe it's knowing that they'll be damn lucky to even have a shot at working their way out of a cubicle and into a job with a median income, benefits and some semblance of job stability?

Could it be that?

NO! It's "Ignorance of history!" Which isn't entirely wrong, mind you. Plus, let's not pretend that a lot of anti-Trump hysteria coming from the mainstream left hasn't been prone to excess and hyperbole, to put it mildly. However, it's also ignorance of history when politicians and pundits don't look back on periods of economic downturn and instability - the great depression for instance, and witness an accompanying rise in interest in fascism and socialism. Even though the economy has improved somewhat since the great recession, the damage has been done.

What the hell did these online reactionaries think was going to happen? Not so long ago, after Trump won the White House, it was all the rage to attribute the Democrat's loss to how out of touch they were with the people they were supposed to be representing. About how stupid it was for dumb leftists to beat unemployed white males over the head with vague academic notions of power, privilege and patriarchy. And rightly so.

But too little time has passed for the right wing of the intellectual dark web to get a pass on making their own version of the exact same mistake. Lecturing millennials with limited job prospects, crushing student debt loads and who've seen every form of preferential treatment extended to the wealthy and corporations on the evils of socialism is, if anything, even stupider than lecturing the same for being privileged white males. Damn, you'd almost think the reactionary right and the regressive left were two sides of the same stupid coin, or something.

Who knows, maybe they are.

In the mean time, maybe the rooms that most need to be cleaned are in the White House, in Congress and the countless offices of defense industry contractors and corporate lobbyists in Washington DC. The dragon of chaos that threatens our culture is that of unregulated predatory global capitalism. It uses threats of investment strike and capital flight as its fiery breath, to extort tax free wealth and rock-bottom wages from the polity. And quite effectively. The handful of billionaires who own most of America's wealth have accumulated a hoard that would put even Smaug's piles of gold to shame.

Sooner or later, someone's going to have to slay that dragon. If a relatively reasonable and pragmatic social democrat steps into Bard the Bowman's role and takes up that black arrow in the near future, a bona-fide revolutionary socialist won't be the one to do it in another generation or two, or else the current oligarchical capitalism ends up going full iron heel, and democracy is ultimately and finally sacrificed on the altar of capital.

Absolute catastrophe indeed.

Also, view: The Problem with Jordan Peterson, also by David Pakman. A thoughtful and nuanced criticism, not an SJW smear comparing Peterson to Hitler, or the like.

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Monday, 1 April 2019

The Architect's Chamber

Why I Returned to the Left Years After Getting "Redpilled"

It's not uncommon these days to hear of people getting frustrated with the left and embracing conservatism. The whole #walkaway campaign, which trended in 2018 leading up to the mid term elections, were exemplary of this.

This is an easy idea to sympathize with, and the stories are remarkably similar. Someone grows frustrated with the cringy protest culture and attendant narcissistic LARPy behavior so prevalent in left activist communities and they decide they've had enough of it. Worse still are the very real stories of abuse and rampant sociopathology within tight knit activist communities, of which the late Mark Fisher's Exiting the Vampire Castle is such an archetypal example. It's hard to remain sympathetic to the left when professional activists a-la Black Lives Matter and Antifa reduce all politics to civil disobedience and treat absolutely every engagement they have with other people and society as a whole as if it were a direct action campaign.

Today their names are legion: Dave Rubin, Laci Green, Candace Owens, to name a few who saw the light on the right and embraced conservatism or libertarianism as if it were the new religion.

And it's not new - many prominent early neoconservatives were disillusioned leftists. Ronald Reagan once famously declared that he did not leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left him. Reagan Democrats were a segment of blue collar workers in rust belt states who shifted their allegiance to the G.O.P in the late 70s and through the 80s, resulting in Reagan's victories and an overall shift to the right in the political climate in that era. Many of these blue collar Democrats grew frustrated with the excessive anti-Americanism of the new Left and the excesses of far left groups like the Weather Underground.

Sound familiar?

It should. Make America Great Again was actually one of Reagan's campaign slogans, and there were widespread fears with Reagan then as with Trump now that he'd usher in an era of right wing authoritarianism. The religious right of Jerry Falwell stirred as many liberal fears then as the nationalist populism of Steve Bannon stirred much more recently. Swap out the new left for social justice warriors and the Weathermen with Antifa, and it becomes very apparent that though history may not repeat precisely - nobody would have accused Reagan of colluding with the Soviets, after all - it rhymes pretty damn well some times.

I understand why progressives lose faith and abandon the cause because I've been there. For me, it happened in the summer of 1998 after reading Warren Farrell's brilliant take down of feminism, The Myth of Male Power. In case you're not familiar with it, Farrell's work takes apart the idea that men have conspired to make everything so wonderful for themselves at women's expense, and asserts that the lot of most men throughout history has been powerlessness and disposability. Feminist claims to powerlessness and marginalization are contrasted with the realities of very real influence in corporate, academic and government bureaucracies in ways that should be familiar to any fan of much more recent figures such as Jordan Peterson or Sargon of Akkad.

Here's a thing about belief systems: once you lose faith in one part of it, the rest naturally and easily follows. At first I read more criticisms of feminism by authors like Christina Hoff Sommers, Camille Paglia and Daphne Patai. But from there I became what every alarmist Guardian article tries warning us about - reading Dinesh D'Sousa and Charles Murray on race issues and Robert Bork, among others, on the degeneration of society more generally. I'm sure I'd have been over the moon with Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern had they been going concerns back in those days. Jordan Peterson would have really struck a chord with me, back in the early 2000s when I gave up drinking via the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 step program. A short time after that, returning to college to major in business saw me devour the theories of Ayn Rand, Ludwig Von Mises and Milton Friedman.

Quite a jump for someone who'd been an avid Marxist and subscriber to communist newsletters only a few years previously.

And this a year before the Wachowskis - they were brothers back then - ever introduced any of us to the concept of what the red pill actually was. There was no 4chan or reddit back then. No manosphere, no YouTube and Nick Land and Mencius Moldbug were years away from blogging ideas that would appear so quaint and familiar to me when I finally did see them, much more recently. Hans Herman Hoppe's Property and Freedom Society was still a few years away likewise. Sometimes I wonder how I would have turned out had I known about these thinkers?

I'd spent long conversations with coworkers who were deeply influenced by David Irving and the Institute for Historical Review. This was in the late 1990s, and while the likes of David Duke and Jared Taylor were even then trying to give white supremacy a postmodern makeover, Richard Spencer and 4chan were still years out. While reconciling with Hitler, antisemetic conspiracy theories and white supremacy never interested me, such ideas didn't offend me as they would have a few short years prior either, and I saw in them a kind of kindred spirit to my own disillusionment and turn against leftist identity politics. I saw nothing wrong with engaging them honestly and fairly, leastwise.

As such, the current propensity to see leftists as self righteous, closed minded zealots wasn't exactly news to me come 2014, when such observations finally became mainstream. When the name and concept of the SJW became mainstream by the mid 2010s, I was that irritating fellow who was telling everyone "I told you so" and "this is what I've been saying for years now."  In 2010 I stumbled upon a blog smaller then than this one is now, called Alternative Right, but by then it was too late.

Because by then, I'd seen through neoreaction as well. Not quite as dramatically as my loss of faith in postmodern college leftism, but every bit as substantially. The right wing was a scam. That'd become abundantly clear to me, beginning in the mid 2000s.

Why such a dramatic transformation a second time? Why return to the left when I'd abandoned it so thoroughly the first time?

Many catalysts. Perhaps the biggest one was that upon my graduation from college, I landed a job not in the corporate sector - which wouldn't touch a blue collar pleb like me no matter how educated I was - but in the unionized public sector. Being hired into a union that was seriously discussing job action caused a lot of what I thought I'd forgotten and left behind to come back. I faced the reality that my return to college after quitting drinking was owed as much to subsidized higher education and the subsidized cooperative housing I lived in as it had to any change of character by a means of a "higher power." The reality is that even if everyone had the most sterling, sober and Godly character and entrepreneurial spirit you could ever pray for, not to mention the cleanest rooms, there's only so much room in the corporate boardrooms of the nation, and sooner or later the well being of the rest of us has to become a material consideration.

While the right loves to dabble in "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" rhetoric, the ladders that did extend my way all came from the left. The lifelines that allowed the poor and destitute to rise into the middle class all had one name: Social Democracy. From there, it was simply a matter of going from denial into acceptance.

If Warren Farrell's Myth of Male Power was what red-pilled me, then reading Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America could be compared to the Architect's Chamber in the next movie, where Neo discovers that the cause he'd been working for and his own messianic role in that cause was every bit as much a part of the system of control he was fighting against as the machines and simulated reality were.

Western Civilization is in peril and privatization is your plan to save it?
You really are a special kind of dumb, aren't you?
In What's the Matter With Kansas are some passages that outline with poetic elegance precisely why the right can never deliver on its promises to restore personal and societal greatness and virtue. Frank put into words the doubts and frustrations I'd had been nursing about right wing thought into a single paragraph:
"The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining."
Here's another:
"There’s a reason you probably haven’t heard much about this aspect of the heartland. This kind of blight can’t be easily blamed on the usual suspects like government or counterculture or high-hat urban policy. The villain that did this to my home state wasn’t the Supreme Court or Lyndon Johnson, showering dollars on the poor or putting criminals back on the street. The culprit is the conservatives’ beloved free-market capitalism, a system that, at its most unrestrained, has little use for smalltown merchants or the agricultural system that supported the small towns in the first place...."
None of this way of looking at things was new. Karl Marx, so loathed by the paleocons and neoreactionaries, actually did a better job of explaining cultural and societal degeneration than anyone on the right ever could have, because he wasn't afraid to call out their own sacred cows. From the Manifesto of the Communist Party:
"The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self interest, than callous “cash payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom – Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation. The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers. The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation."
In short, untrammeled capitalism and its constant revolutionizing of production does more than any other force to destroy the western civilization, Christian religion, the nuclear family and other social structures that good or bad, the reactionaries have devoted themselves to.

As such, I now shake my head when I see the devotees of Warren Farrell and Paul Elam become apologists for laissez faire capitalism, the economic system that sees so many men chewed up and spat out, injured and even killed on the job per year. When I see these same conservative men vote for war mongering right wing governments that in turn send so many young men home in body bags. When I see paranoid conspiracy theorists stockpile guns for use against tyrannical government - and then go vote for governments that roll back civil liberties in the name of fighting terrorism. When I see the opponents of mass immigration and multiculturalism calling for more, rather than less capitalism, and later wonder why they are indeed going through a "great replacement" at the hands of globalists? Could it be because 3rd world and migrant labour is cheaper? No, couldn't be!

I shake my head when I see reactionaries lament being banned from social media platforms that are owned by the very corporations they want to deregulate and give tax cuts to. When they grumble about liberal media and Hollywood "degeneracy" without considering that media and film production companies are corporations that are doing exactly what these same rightists insist corporations do: Prioritize the bottom line and maximize shareholder value, and so respond to market signals and seek to expand their markets by catering to untapped demographics, like women, minorities and foreign countries. When anti-feminists come out as pro capitalist and then wonder why society comes to value women more as workers and consumers, as competitors with men and careerists, not as wives and mothers.

Of course, I have not lost my disdain for those elements of "leftism" that do warrant it. College SJWs and much of the online activist community in particular. Mark Fisher's attack on the Vampire Castle should resonate with all of us. Real advocates of social justice would do well to consider that whichever marginalized people they've chosen to champion won't get liberation from the boardrooms and corporate media of the nation either.

However, for reasons best explained above, I see capitalism as part of the problem, not part of the solution. If SJWs promote a world view that defines privilege entirely in terms of race and gender rather than in terms of economics, and lays the very real problems suffered by women and people of color entirely at the feet of white males, we might want to ask ourselves who really benefits from that? Why would corporately owned media find such a world view agreeable? Why are elite colleges so much more rife with "social justice" fanaticism than colleges still accessible to the working and middle classes?

I abandoned the left because I became convinced that it was hostile to whites, males, Christians and western civilization in general. I later abandoned the right for the exact same reasons. I don't condone the left's cultural masochism and hold it to criticism. But the right presents a much greater threat to "the west" than any but the most stupid extreme left ever will.

The left has irritating and self absorbed postmodern college professors and student activists who will chant slogans against western civilization and pull down statues of "problematic" historical figures. The right has cynical politicians who'll oversee the export of industry and capital out of western nations. The left will import huge numbers of 3rd world people, some of whom don't like us very much. The right will engage in the kind of "regime change" and parasitic global capitalism that causes massive population destabilization in the 3rd world that drives them not to like us, but come here in droves anyway, in the first place. The left may hold the Christian churches to a criticism they're reluctant to subject Islam to. The right will mix religion with business and politics in precisely the way the gospels warned against, that truly undermines the moral credibility of the Christian churches and leaves them bereft of defenders. At the fringes, the right will even idealize Hitler: a man who loved the white race so much he started a war that left tens of millions of them dead, the European nations in ruins and their overseas empires financially untenable.

With friends like these ...

The left is deeply flawed, and would do well to engage in a lot less grandstanding and a lot more self reflection. They can't profess to represent "the people" when they refuse to engage people in honest dialogue. But make no mistake, a right wing that endeavors to preserve the culture, values and identity of the west while privatizing, deregulating and outsourcing its financial and industrial infrastructure will never offer anything better.

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