Monday, 11 June 2018

Why White Males get Trashed in the Media

"Why Can't We Hate White Men?" asks Suzanna Danuta Walters, a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University in a June 8 opinion piece appearing in the Washington Post. Imagine asking this question about any other demographic? Imagine wondering if women were so oppressed and marginalized, how do mainstream media outlets come to publish articles like this in the first place? The Völkischer Beobachter never asked why Jews can't hate Aryans, after all. The tendency is for the mainstream media to uphold rather than subvert the centers of power. If you don't yet know that, it's high time you learned.

Every Man For Himself!
She then goes on to suggest that "the criticisms of this blanket condemnation of men - from transnational feminists who decry such glib universalism to U.S. women of color who demand an intersectional perspective — are mostly on the mark" but then proceeds to list her reasons why hating men might not be such a bad idea. Muh wage gap. Muh unpaid labor. Muh unwanted sexual advances. Muh patriarchy. Ideological abstractions that your average male couldn't effect even if he wanted to and if he could, or if any of those things were actually real. Standard feminist stuff.

Walters suggests that "the world has little place for feminist anger." Really? Seriously?  This is the new normal. Not new, actually. Checked out Hollywood recently? Or most progressive newsblogs - think The Guardian or the HuffPost?

Okay, sort of new but not at all unexpected.  Why?

The reason is found in the contrast between the white/male world view and the minority/feminist world view.

Articles like that don't get written about women and minorities, because they have strong cultures of effective activism, rooted in a strong sense of collective identity. They're bound together by a narrative of shared oppression that lends itself to strong cultures of effective activism. Write something like this about women or PoC and expect a massive backlash - boycotts, protests and so on. The feminist and minority world views are marked by an attitude of reciprocal expectation towards the broader society - they give nothing unless something is given in return and they're not responsive to social cues and signals that frown upon the demanding of your rights because their narrative of historical marginalization immunizes them against that. They would not have ascended to the extent that they have if they'd not looked out for each other and their collective best interests.

Not so with white males. At least since the Reagan and Thatcher years, the white male ethic is highly individualistic, libertarian and moralistic. In their worldview, bad things don't happen to people who don't do immoral or stupid things. So they have less empathy towards their fellows, who they might even regard as competitors. As such, articles attacking white men barely register with them, because they don't even think of themselves as such. White males do not regard one another as equals, and are more responsive to ideas expressed by celebrity leadership than they are to ideas rooted in collective identity and well being.

This lends itself to a weak or absent culture of activism. They wouldn't know how to, nor would they have the inclination to if they wanted to, organize an effective response to an article like this. It would simply never occur to them. This is because white males, working class ones especially, are marked by an attitude of unilateral obligation and duty towards the broader society, despite their ostensibly libertarian pretensions. They're highly responsive to cues and signals telling them that collective identity and standing up for yourselves is something you just don't do. Instead, they expect truth and rightness to naturally win out on their own. Bad ideas will naturally falter. Karma will prevail, God will provide and protect the innocent, wrongdoers will get their comeuppance, etc.

People with histories of being marginalized are not this bloody naive - they know you have to go out and get justice if they want it. So they do.  This was once true of white western men too - we defeated fascism. We unionized and voted for the New Deal and the Great Society in America and the Welfare State in Great Britain.

Not so anymore. Since Reagan and Thatcher, we've been only to happy to export our jobs, slash our boss's taxes, disband our unions and repeal regulations that constrained his ability to extract surplus value labor out of us. All for the greater good. How ironic. Our concomitant accession to white male guilt, first on college campuses, later in the broader society, was a parallel development. Although seemingly opposite in their political aspects, white western man's succumbing to political correctness on the one hand and neoconservative capitalism on the other are alike rooted in the same basic underlying cause. Loss of identity and purpose, and compensatory cults of self flagellation, atonement and sacrifice.  At this point, the real question is: how would white males respond if their women actually loved them, like they did in their grandfather's time?

There might be some talk of the WaPo losing readership over this, but it won't happen because even those suggesting that would never even participate in, let alone organize, an advertiser boycott or something similar. Hell, by sharing the article without first archiving it, they're actually feeding the monster. Most of them know this, yet do it anyway. In a way, the white male is being devoured by the beast he himself has fed and nurtured, based on his natural political proclivities: a relatively laissez faire capitalist economy wherein media corporations are driven by ad revenue and whatever will be most successful in generating that, even hate speech, is fair game. The deeper question is: would he have it any other way?

We teach others and we teach institutions how it's okay to treat us, especially over longer stretches of time. Noteworthy is the fact that this is what the alt-right has been telling the white male, and what the alt-left has been telling the white male working class, for years now. They've been oblivious. No surprise.

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Saturday, 2 June 2018

Regressive Left Pt. 6: Conservative Complacency

It is worth pausing in our analysis of the regressive left to ask ourselves what the right wing had been doing this whole time. What have the defenders of western civilization been doing while the progression analysed in the last five installments was transpiring?

Paleoconservatives and neoreactionaries constructed their own mirror-image narratives of cultural hegemony and socially constructed "reality" to serve powerful interests, only these cast white western Christendom as having been colonized by Frankfurt School inspired ideas, which we looked at briefly in the last installment in this series, Radical Ruckus.  Western culture had to be deconstructed in order to groom the populace for a revolutionary socialist takeover, we are told, even decades after communism fell. With the more recent rise of the alt-right, the Jewish identity and ancestry of many Frankfurt associated intellectuals is increasingly emphasized.  Let it never be forgotten that absurd regressivism is by no means exclusive to the left.

However, the right's "cultural Marxism" concerns were not completely ill founded, as our previous explorations of critical theory and postmodernism suggest. The problem with the right wing take on the idea, though, was that if the intent was to pave the way for socialism, this long march through the institutions could not have failed more miserably.  Eight years after Herbert Marcuse wrote favorably of this concept in his 1972 book, Counterrevolution and Revolt, one would reasonably expect a more leftist political climate to be the result.  The elections of Ronald Reagan in America and Margaret Thatcher in the UK would suggest otherwise. 

At least on the surface of it.  But while economic Marxism was by then in decline, the results of growing progressive dominance in academia and, by extent, higher culture, were being felt in more social and cultural realms.  Plus, if there had been a leftist capture of academia, the Reagan-Thatcher neo-cons either didn’t notice or didn’t care.  The right wing in America especially, but elsewhere too, tended to sneer at and ridicule the academic left, but no more than that. 

Rogue journalist Milo Yiannopoulos would gain some success highlighting the excesses of campus leftism before being brought low by his own sordid past. The very recent emergence of the Intellectual Dark Web, so called, would call more attention to the crisis in the universities, though this is hardly a monolithic right wing movement, despite what the regressive left blogosphere would tell you. Concerns raised about postmodern leftism's emergent hegemony in academia recently raised by the likes of Johnathan Haidt and Jordan Peterson are far too little, too late.

2018 is a generation removed from the feminist transformation of the academy that took place in the 1980s. People born when Peggy McIntosh first unpacked the knapsack of white male privilege are now wondering whether it's wise to trust anyone under 30. Why did it take so long for the political mainstream to realize the true scope of the problem?  They can't say they weren't warned, that's for certain. Among works attempting to call public concern to the nature of regressive leftism published over the years are:

God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of "Academic Freedom"  - William F Buckely, 1951(!)
Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students - Allan Bloom, 1987
The Hollow Men: Politics and Corruption In Higher Education - Charles J. Sykes, 1990
Tenured Radicals: How Politics Has Corrupted Our Higher Education - Roger Kimball, 1990
Illiberal Education: The Politics of Race and Sex on Campus - Dinesh D'Souza, 1991
The Myth of Male Power: Why Men Are the Disposable Sex - Warren Farrell, 1993
Who Stole Feminism?: How Women Have Betrayed Women - Christina Hoff Sommers, 1994

This list is by no means exclusive. I'm sure you can add your own. The mainstream right cannot, therefore, plead ignorance. They knew it was happening and were warned of what the consequences would be if the matter was left unaddressed. It's also not like the US right at least lacked the power in many cases. They held the presidency from 1980 to 92 and 2000 to 2008 timespans, control of the House of Representatives from 1994 to 2007 (and again since 2010) and sporadic control of the Senate in the same time frame, including from 2003 to 2007. Over the course of the Obama years, the G.O.P has gained control over numerous state legislatures. Was there nothing they could have done to curb leftist dominance in the culture, the academy especially, during that time?

Or beyond occasionally using the issue as a pretext for slashing funding and bringing the private sector into higher education to the worsening of the overall problem, did they just not regard it as a priority?

Since the Reagan years, an anti-intellectual climate had been setting in among conservatives, and they found much more political kinship with evolution-denying Christian fundamentalists than with those professors still defending the western cultural canon in the English department. Ultimately however, the ascendant neoconservatives of the 1980s and after would care little for either cultural tradition. The real weakness of the late 20th century right is best described by author Thomas Frank in his 2004 expose of conservative dominance in American elections, What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America:
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.
Riding a wave of popular frustration with eight years of democratic party rule and a smug, politically correct culture, Donald Trump's surprise 2016 election victory is a classic case in point of what Frank describes above. Among his most significant legislative achievements as of this writing is the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. And this has been par for the course going back to Reagan and even Nixon. They might appeal to cultural and social conservatism come election time to garner votes, but once in office, the neo-cons displayed concern mainly for cutting taxes, weakening unions and projecting military power in the middle east and elsewhere. This would eventually prove every bit as essential to the rise of the regressive left as anything taught in the women’s studies department ever did.

This is the heart and soul of conservative complacency. Against their own better knowledge, the right in America and elsewhere lost sight of the importance of culture and tradition as the bulwarks that preserved social stability. The Reagan Revolution achieved that which it truly set out to achieve, and it had had a lot less to do with freedom than it did with profits. They got reduced taxes on high income earners, weakened unions and regulations, and a world secure for the plundering through neoliberal globalization and neoconservative power projection in strategically important areas with important resources. It isn't that there wasn't an important socially conservative element on the late 20th century right, it's that this element was more about mobilizing electoral support for corporate conservative candidates than it was about actually preserving liberty and western culture.

What social conservatism there was had degenerated into rank religious fundamentalism. While this was not fervently opposed to the "Western Canon" like the postmodern left was, they certainly had no interest in preserving it either. Separated from Christendom's long theological tradition, conservative evangelicals in America (and to a lesser extent elsewhere) rendered unto Caesar much more than they rendered unto God, and had little interest in anything more than curtailing abortion and gay marriage, seeing apocalyptic "end times prophecies" fulfilled in the middle east, and lining their own pockets. When the leaders of a religious tradition stray so glaringly far from the founder of that tradition, known for cleansing temples of money exchangers, calling out elitist moral hypocrisy and remarking that it is easier for a rich man to pass through the eye of a needle than to enter the kingdom of heaven, you know that tradition is in trouble as a vital spiritual force. Eventually, increased numbers of younger Americans saw through the sham that was the religious right, and this paved the way for the rise of the new atheism.

While the emergent progressive Obama coalition would abandon the right's religiosity, it would not abandon the right's morally busy-body nature, as we've seen. Perhaps the key role played by the religious right here were as trailblazers, and sometimes even partners with the regressive left in censorship. Indeed, the social conservatives worked hand-in-glove with radical feminists in opposing pornography in the 1980s, and Anita Sarkeesian’s criticism of video-game culture followed a path well worn by social conservatives such as Jack Thompson a decade earlier.

The tragic outcome of this is not only that liberals were slow to accept threats to free speech coming from the left, but that conservatives had little credibility with which to defend free speech against campus speech codes or to criticize the science-denialism of postmodern feminists who insisted gender and sexuality are entirely socially constructed. Had conservatives only so recently tried to censor heavy metal music and deny the theory of evolution? Do they still not favor the penalization of protest they deem unpatriotic, such as football players taking the knee during the national anthem? And this when the right bothered to care about these issues at all, which they rarely did. 

Consistently throughout its more recent history, the regressive left has adopted for itself models of organizing that had only a short time earlier been pioneered by social conservatives.  From feminists adopting strategies devised by conservative media watchdog groups like the Parent’s Music Resource Center, to progressive strategists such as George Lakoff counseling the democrats on techniques of using language to frame issues in morally ideological ways pioneered by Newt Gingrich, to the pink hat wearing anti-Trump "Resistance" intentionally aping Tea Party tactics, the regressive left has drawn on right wing as well as its own worst traditions.

As such, the right bears considerable responsibility for enabling the rise of the current crop of regressive leftism. And some responsibility also resides in broader political, social and demographic trends. The gerrymandering of congressional districts, done mainly by GOP dominated states, results in a strengthened tendency towards ideological purism within the parties as opposed to both parties tending towards moderation to win over independents, swing voters and moderates.  

The tendency towards demographic “sorting” of the population into ideologically homogenous communities works in basically the same way.  Media echo chambers have been the growing trend ever since the rise of cable TV relaxed the grip that the “big three” had over broadcasting. Right leaning Fox News blazed the trail in this regard. Since then, the far right has led the tendency towards online echo chambers that care more for feeding red meat to their core audiences than they do about substantive issues that effect us all. The regressive left would merely end up copying these business models. And on the right, the red meat craved by the base had much more to do with Obama's birth certificate, Obama somehow managing to be a Nazi, a communist, a liberal and a Muslim simultaneously, FEMA camp conspiracies, gun grabbing hysteria that doesn't simmer down despite the gun grabbing never actually happening, chemtrails and Illuminati conspiracism than they did with what had happened on campuses over the last several decades.

As mentioned previously, by the time Allan Bloom, Dinesh D’Sousa, Christina Hoff Sommers and others began raising the alarm over “political correctness” back in the late 80s and early 90s, the foundations were in the final phases of being set. The matrix of critical theory, postmodern relativism, identity politics, the long march through the institutions, repressive tolerance, power plus prejudice, the authority of experience, privilege theory and intersectionality that mark today’s post materialist regressive leftism were already firmly established. 

This matrix was itself rooted in the disillusionment that post WW2 western leftists had towards Marxism – the practice of which became the single most oppressive and bloody exercise in regressive leftism in human history, and that other great post WW2 western reaction against Marxism – neoconservatism, was poorly equipped to deal with it.  

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Enforced Monogamy? Not Necessary

Amidst the ongoing conversation about the incel problem and what to do about it, ideas such as enforced monogamy have surfaced. Among its supposed proponents are economist Robin Hanson and that most dreaded bogeyman of the woke blogosphere, Jordan Peterson.  They assert that much more widespread monogamy would have a calming effect on the male of the species and result in fewer seemingly random acts of mass violence, such as the recent rampage carried out in Toronto, Canada by self described incel Alek Minassian.

What exactly would "enforced monogamy" look like? Peterson, for his part, insists that this need not look like a dystopian "Handmaid's Tale" type scenario wherein the government parcels out women to men as rewards for good behavior and service to the state. Quite fortunate, I agree. Not that such a scenario was on the cards anywhere other than the feverishly paranoid imaginations of the Guardian and HuffPost reader bases. Such terrifying prospects serve to keep political bases loyal, much like the equally ludicrous dystopian pictures of encroaching socialism peddled by the right. While not accurate, these doomish scenarios attract readers to newsblogs that rely on advertising to stay in business. These scenarios are comic books. We need not worry. Not now, at least.

What is offered up here is softer. Sort of. It would entail a return to pre-birth control forms of cultural and sexual mores. It would be encouraged to partner up young and remain so until death did you part. Prolonged bachelorhood and spinsterhood would again be regarded as eccentric. This is recommended not just to relieve male sexual frustration, but to increase the sense among lower class men that they have a stake in the preservation and well being of the culture they live in.

So much nostalgia. You'd almost forget that we abandoned that social model for a reason. Many reasons. One wonders how many incels would want their old lives back after a month of being responsible for feeding a family?

That aside, according to a recent Psychology Today article, there may be something to this. And I've had similar thoughts myself, truth be told. The widespread hypergamy that is the sexual equivalent to the upward redistribution of wealth we've been seeing from forty years of neoliberalism isn't exactly sustainable. The birthrates prove that.

Amidst the standard feminist finger-wagging about male entitlement to female sex, the Psychology Today piece actually does a fairly good job of explaining why enforced monogamy of any kind is actually not needed to deal with widespread involuntary celibacy, among both genders. The reason for this is embedded in the article:
Most men do not view women with anger and resentment. Most men don’t view women as things to be won and mated with. Even the men who cannot date, due to their social inhibitions, more often feel sad and lonely, rather than violently angry. These negative reactions are predicted by personality traits such as psychopathy or low agreeableness, not by access to sex.  Most men are seeking intimate, connected relationships, where their partners’ happiness is as important to them as their own. These men don’t act enraged when they can’t get a date.
How does this point the way out of the crisis of involuntary celibacy?

The quoted paragraph simply becomes the dominant narrative vis-a-vis heterosexual relationships in the western world of today. Like it had been up until maybe twenty five or so years ago, when rates of unattachment were lower.

This would be in stark contrast to the hegemonic relationship narrative of the present day, which in its purest form is marked by the following characteristics. Bear in mind that the following represents the dominant view in its purest and most quintessential form. It is deviated from quite frequently, usually to the chagrin of the woke blogosphere:

  • Male heterosexuality must be demonized, and deemed ultimately responsible for women's alleged inequality vis-a-vis men. This is done via "objectification", which we are told is not the same as attraction, but we are never given a meaningful distinction between the two on those rare instances in which the question is openly asked. 
  • Dysfunctional and even criminal behavior on part of men towards women: rape, battery and abuse of all kinds must be portrayed as normal, even the defining characteristics, of heterosexual relationships and especially marriage. Positive portrayal of such relationships must be avoided at all costs. The only alternative to dysfunctional and abusive relationships must always be no relationships whatsoever. No third option.
  • As a corollary to the above, male appreciation of female beauty is termed "the male gaze" and thus something that otherizes and objectifies women. "Harassment" or even "rape" may be said to occur as a result of mere female discomfort while males are fraternizing with them. There is, of course, no defense against this due to the infallibility conferred upon the alleged experience of inequality suffered by those with marginalized identities vs those with privileged identities.
  • Normal male desire for sexual and emotional intimacy with women is also framed in terms of "entitlement" and and stems solely from male privilege. Such is the level of deterministic manichean dualism that has been advanced by an academic and media machine that one would be quite surprised to see working in the interests of the supposedly "marginalized." 
  • A culture in which "independence" and "liberation" are frequently code words for, or at least used in a context that connotes female non-involvement with men on a romantic or sexual basis. 
  • Media must continually repeat the notion that women lose freedom and equal status in comparison to men as a result of intimacy with them, and that women are better off being single as opposed to being in intimate heterosexual relationships. Men, it is inferred, suffer no such loss, and indeed gain in esteem and well being as a result of being with a woman. This phenomena is completely zero sum, for reasons that are seldom discussed apart from the usual denouncements of "male privilege" and admonitions that men "do more" for the women they're in relationships with.
  • "Respect for women" is a concept that is gauged by a lack of romantic and sexual interest in women on part of men. "Respect for herself/themselves" on part of women is a concept that is gauged by a lack of romantic and sexual interest in men on part of women.
  • As a possible compromise between all of the above and the desires of some women to partner up with men, utterly fantastic and unrealistic standards of what a male must be in order to be romantically eligible for even average women must be advanced and promoted in the media at all times. Lowering of standards even a little must be decried as "settling." Men who hold similar standards for women must be condemned, along with the supposed "western standards of beauty" that "treat women as consumable products" and the like.
  • All of the above, core tenets of feminist theory, is their story and they're sticking to it. I don't doubt for a second that weaponizing romantic and sexual rejection from behind a legitimizing veneer of gender equality and social justice is very much about the lording of female power over the despised male, who must be made to blame himself for this due to his unearned "white male privilege" and the guilt-by-association inferred by concepts such as "rape culture." This is, perhaps, the real reason for the widespread resilience of such concepts among women. Otherwise, they'd have to confront their own deeply entrenched misandry and advantages they enjoy in their dealings with men. Despite the alleged desire and enjoyment of sex that women too supposedly have, many women, I suspect, relish the sexual frustration of the incel - be him the loser online or her husband of many years and depend upon the tenets of feminist theory to rationalize and morally enable this, though they'd never publicly admit it.
Openly and publicly suggest any of the above and expect all kinds of denialism and backlash, from the usual refrains of "muhsogyny" and "you just don't understand feminism" to more crude and crass remarks about how often you get laid and the small size of your genitalia if you're a male (so much for concerns about machismo and "toxic masculinity") or about the favor you gain from males (gasp! horrors!) if you're a female. What you shouldn't expect is a response that isn't a slogan, copy pasta or a canned argument that you haven't heard countless times before if discussing sexual politics is something you do with any degree of frequency. Fewer things are more fragile than the feminist ego. Expect anything - except reason and rationality - if they are openly challenged or disagreed with.

Looked at this way, incel rage becomes more understandable, if not any less toxic. Remember Slavoj Žižek's recollection of Jacques Lacan's jealous husband (which I regard as among the most profound insights I've recently been exposed to) - that the toxicity of one point of view does not justify whatever toxicity is in the counter reaction to that view.  None of the above should be taken to mean that men are blameless and completely helpless victims bereft of agency. Very often male conduct is harmful to women, and the excesses of feminism should not be taken as a license to handwave legitimate grievances that women have.

Of course males are not entitled to love or sex from women (the reverse is also true) and incel rage and pathology are certainly not the answer. However, men are entitled to pursue voluntary relationships with women free of all of the above cultural baggage working against them. Again, the reverse is also true. Where does the greater sense of entitlement reside at the end of the day: with a male who naturally wishes for female sexual and romantic companionship, or the feminist who demands a vast array of social programs, a completely subservient media, academia tailored to her ideological prejudices and unprecedented legal protections against any male action she may deem offensive, all so that her male free lifestyle remains tenable as the dominant social norm?

Of course, not everybody need be in a monogamous heterosexual pair bond. But we do need a superior vision of gender equality than one wherein women are tacitly (or openly) encouraged to avoid such pair bonds.  We need not enforce or even promote monogamy. Because, and here's the crucial thing to keep in mind: We're a naturally heterosexually reproducing species. Forming such pair bonds is what most people will do, if left to their own devices. There's no need to promote it. We need only cease pouring the untold resources that we have been into tilting the playing field so strongly in favor of the upper middle (and higher) class women who are the primary consumers of those resources. Perhaps this was necessary at one time, when women were just entering academia and the workplace. It is no longer. 

Put those resources instead into a new new deal that addresses epidemic poverty, unemployment and underemployment among the poor and working class of all races and genders. Among numerous other benefits, it will make them more attractive to romantic prospects. The end result will be no panacea, but preferable either to the present course of intensifying hypergamy or a counter reaction of enforced monogamy, hard or soft.

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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Heart and Soul of Regressive Leftism

A question was put to me:
So Antifa advocates "Punch a Nazi". Would they still be OK with a male Antifa member punching a Nazi if she were a woman? Would Antifa, which is definitely very pro-feminist and committed to the principle of preventing violence against women, be conflicted by these two seemingly contradictory principles? That is the real question that is hard to answer.
It is easy to answer once you understand how the hard-line intersectional feminist mind actually works. The answer simply is yes, absolutely. Antifa have assaulted TERF feminists, why wouldn't they assault an actual Nazi woman?

Remember that antifa are the militant wing of the intersectional feminist movement. They're not anarcho-communists, whatever colors they may wave or fly or symbolism they may display. In the intersectional feminist ideology, identities are ultimately social, not biological constructs. This is very important to recognize, and clears up a lot of confusion surrounding their activities and beliefs.

Notice that these are the people pushing "trans women are women" narrative the hardest, even though they have male anatomy (unless they've had the full sex reassignment surgery and so on) "Woman" as a biological category is meaningless to them ideologically. Were you to suggest that women are defined by their anatomy and biology rather than social status and identity as marginalized people in a patriarchal society, they'd accuse you of being a misogynist, since you are "reducing women to their anatomy" and therefore "objectifying" them.

Unfortunately for you, were you to do this, this would be classified as Nazi, since the intersectional feminist regards as Nazi/Fascist that which threatens people with marginalized identity sets. You don't actually have to sympathize with Adolf Hitler or Benito Mussolini's actual ideology in order to be considered a fascist or a Nazi by Antifa. So they would probably punch you too. Hope you've been training on the heavy bag.

'Woman" is a socially constructed identity, and constitutes whatever is deemed marginalized relative to men. And it seems to be the case that people with marginalized identities can lose or forsake those identities if they take the side of those with privileged identities. Indeed, they're especially hateful towards women, PoC, trans folk and so on who go over to even moderate conservatism, let alone Nazism.

The mindset of the intersectional feminist regressive leftist is not often studied and understood by its opponents. The thing to keep in mind is that their outlook on the world is very different than ours. It's helpful to remember that:

1 - They don't believe in a common, objective reality that we all inhabit. They believe that much that we take for granted in terms of perception, conceptual thought and basic philosophical concepts such as metaphysics (the nature of reality), epistemology (ways of knowing that reality), morality (what is right and wrong) and so on are actually psychologically and socially constructed.

2 - They have a very manichean world view. This means that they see things in very stark good vs evil terms. It's all about those with marginalized (good) vs privileged (evil) identities or combinations of intersecting identities (hence the term intersectionality). So it's white vs PoC, male vs female, heterosexual vs LGBT, cis vs trans and so on. Given point 1 above, there's no room for any kind of common understanding between opposed sides. All interactions between those with marginalized vs privileged identity sets are "power discourses" meaning zero sum contests wherein one must win and the other must lose.

3 - Positive moral concepts - goodness, mercy, truth, right and so on are defined entirely in terms of what benefits those with marginalized identity sets and/or harms those with privileged identity sets. The reverse is also true - evil actions are rendered evil by who performs them, not by the characer of the actions themselves. This is why, according to the regressive intersectionalist, PoC can't be racist, women can't be sexist and it's not objectification when women ogle (or even assault or rape) men.  Thus, in defense of the marginalized and against the privileged, the utmost of ruthlessness and mercilessness is not only justified, but mandated.

4 - As kind of an aside, Marxist-Leninism and Maoism were basically like this as well, only with the proletariat and its self appointed Vanguard representatives filling in the role of marginalized, and the bourgeoisie filling in the role of the privileged. Lenin even coined a phrase for this exact concept - "Kto Kovo." Meaning who/whom? Who benefits? Trotsky embodied a similar concept in the question, "Towards socialism or towards capitalism?" This explains much of the character of these regimes.

5 - Not all sympathizers with regressive left ideologies go all the way in regards to the above. Fortunately, most are restrained to varying degrees by the prevailing moral order of the west, which implicitly holds that moral law is equally binding on all. To believe this while still proceeding in favor of social justice and fairness is the key indicator of the genuine progressive leftist as opposed to their regressive counterpart. In our currently free and liberal society, most intersectional feminists are not this fundamentalist in their interpretation of their ideology. I describe here the ideological system in its purest form, not as it is embodied with absolute consistency.

Antifa go farther than most down the dark path of regressivism, however. I suggest that they not be trusted, and resisted where possible. Perhaps against actual, bona-fide Nazis it's worth allying with people like this. Churchill and Roosevelt did that while allying with Stalin, after all. But other than that, these extremists of the regressive left are not to be trusted.

Understand the above, and you understand the heart and soul of regressive leftism.

Read The Regressive Left: History, Theory, Methodology: The Regressive Soul
Read The Regressive Left: History, Theory, Methodology: The Militant Mind

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Saturday, 12 May 2018

What's the Matter with Liberals?

Thomas Frank's 2004 opus, What's the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America is, perhaps, the single greatest takedown of the US right I've ever read. It put so succinctly what I was even then suspecting about the basic bait-and-switch driving American conservatism, but didn't know quite how to put into words. What Frank has to say is nothing short of poetic:
Old-fashioned values may count when conservatives appear on the stump, but once conservatives are in office the only old-fashioned situation they care to revive is an economic regimen of low wages and lax regulations. Over the last three decades they have smashed the welfare state, reduced the tax burden on corporations and the wealthy, and generally facilitated the country’s return to a nineteenth-century pattern of wealth distribution. Thus the primary contradiction of the backlash: it is a working-class movement that has done incalculable, historic harm to working class people.
The leaders of the backlash may talk Christ, but they walk corporate. Values may "matter most" to voters, but they always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won. This is a basic earmark of the phenomenon, absolutely consistent across its decades-long history. Abortion is never halted. Affirmative action is never abolished. The culture industry is never forced to clean up its act.
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. 
I remember reading this book back in the 2006 to 2007 time frame. I had been disillusioned with leftism since the late 1990s, and had flirted with right wing thought for a while. It was the above paragraphs that pierced the conservative illusion for me, and began the process of reconciliation with left leaning politics.

In the meantime, though, I still can't help but notice that the mainstream left commits a comparable deception of its own. While I haven't yet read Frank's recent takedown of the democrats, Listen Liberal - or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People, I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't have its own paragraphs of truth bombs like the ones above? Would they read something like this:

Populist progressive values may count when social justice activists make their appeals to government or campus administrations. But once in office, the only measurable policy implementation we see are reflections of the pre-molded cultural sensitivities and social mores of upper middle class college girls rather than reflections of the needs of the working poor whose misery they're using to morally legitimize themselves in the first place. 

While the so called progressive left hand-wrings over trigger warnings, microaggressions and will absolutely dig in their heels and fight to the last in their insistence that it's okay to hate white males because of their gender and the color of their skin, conservatives have smashed the welfare state, reduced the tax burden on corporations and the wealthy, and generally facilitated the country's return to a nineteenth-century pattern of wealth distribution almost completely unopposed. Thus the primary contradiction of the resistance: it is an upper middle class movement that has done nothing to ameliorate the incalculable, historic harm done to working class people.

The leaders of the resistance may talk Marx, but they walk corporate. Social justice may "matter most" to voters, but it's back to business as usual, perhaps with a few more women and visible minorities wearing the suits, once the elections are won. This is a basic earmark of the phenomenon, absolutely consistent across its decades-long history. Neocon petrodollar wars are never ended. Regressive tax laws are never repealed. Wall Street is never forced to clean up its act.

The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Demand gender equity on corporate boards, ignore the historically unprecedented gap in wealth and power between the executives and their workers. Demand that the state crack down on online trolls in the alt-right and in the manosphere, ignore the need to crack down on corrupt corporate lobbyists and the pork barrel military industrial complex. Demand that celebrities and professionals with "marginalized identities" be able to sue their bosses over offensive comments, ignore the abysmal wages and benefits that condemn millions of workers to poverty. Demand massive fines for not using a "genderqueer" college student's preferred pronouns, ignore the fines that should be assessed to corporate maleficence ranging from dodging water and air pollution standards to fraudulent accounting practices.  Demand fluffy, feel-good pseudo academic initiatives like "decolonization" and "indigenization", ignore the spiraling costs and debt loads imposed on students who will spend the best years of their lives earning degrees not worth the paper they're printed on in the job market. While conservatives have ushered in 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, the only protest to be had out of the so called liberals and progressives merely insists that these same CEOs be women and people of color.

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Friday, 11 May 2018

The Intellectual Dark Web

"Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web" - An alliance of heretics is making an end run around the mainstream conversation. Should we be listening?" 

So reads a recent New York Times headline, and social media is now abuzz with talk about it.
"Here are some things that you will hear when you sit down to dinner with the vanguard of the Intellectual Dark Web: There are fundamental biological differences between men and women. Free speech is under siege. Identity politics is a toxic ideology that is tearing American society apart. And we’re in a dangerous place if these ideas are considered “dark.”
The "Renegades" of the Intellectual web.
Do these look like spaghetti western villains to you?
In case you don't know, this is a loose group of bloggers and academics who are known for bucking the trends in today's cultural spaces. Their names are by now familiar to most of us. Sam Harris, Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Heather Heying, Eric and Bret Weinstein, Christina Hoff Sommers, Claire Lehmann, Joe Rogan and Maajid Nawaz, among others. A mixed bag to be sure, though leaning towards a kind of classical liberal consensus. Some more "classical" than others.

The response has been what you'd expect.

The Guardian, showing that it has no intent on slowing its descent into becoming the Infowars of the left, runs the headline: The ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ – the supposed thinking wing of the alt-right. THE “INTELLECTUAL DARK WEB” IS JUST A BUNCH OF WHINY RICH PEOPLE reads the subtle and nuanced headline at the Nice all caps, guys. We would never have guessed that their great sin was being privileged white males had you used lower case letters. That ever vigilant bearer of the truth, Vox, runs this headline: The “Intellectual Dark Web,” explained: what Jordan Peterson has in common with the alt-right

Now to be fair, the Outline article is correct in pointing out that these thinkers aren't exactly marginalized or being censored. Not that they're claiming to be - most are expressing dismay at the state of free speech on campus rather than themselves claiming to be victims. Thus far, many of them hold academic positions, have published best selling books and bring in tens of thousands of dollars monthly on Patreon. So it is a stretch to paint the IDW as a posse of outlaw renegades on the run due to their heretical views. They aren't quite Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, I'll give the reg-left blogosphere that much. Besides, everybody knows that the real victims of marginalization these days are tenured women's studies professors in Ivy League colleges, "diversity officers" at publicly traded Silicon Valley tech giants and bloggers for outlets that are not exactly fringe themselves, like the Guardian. Poor things. It would sure be nice if feminists could just be heard in the media, online and on campus every once and a while.

A more accurate picture is painted in a more recent National Review article:
More substantively, I guess I still don’t get it. Having read the essay twice, it seems to me this IDW thing isn’t actually an intellectual movement. It’s just a coalition of thinkers and journalists who happen to share a disdain for the keepers of the liberal orthodoxy. Weiss recounts a bunch of conversion tales where once-respected and iconoclastic liberal types run head-on into the groupthink or party line of the liberal establishment. They suddenly have a revelation about the enforced orthodoxy of their own side, and as they pull on these intellectual threads, they face blowback and reinforcement from unexpected places.
That National Review more often than not paints a more accurate picture of the world than supposedly liberal outlets like the Guardian and Vox do is something I'm still struggling to become accustomed to. And that's precisely what the IDW, as described in Weiss's New York Times article, is really all about. It's about a complacent progressive left's loss of the moral and intellectual high ground. It shows for once and for all that St. George really has become the dragon. What began in the 1960s as a campus rebellion for free speech against an ossified status quo has itself become an ossified status quo that makes no mistake about its hostility towards free speech.

Regressive left indignation is thus more easily understood, if still unjustified. For one thing, the IDW is far from united behind a right wing banner. Indeed, Ben Shapiro is among its only outrightly conservative members (a poor choice IMO, Victor Davis Hanson is who I'd have gone after had I wanted a right wing intellectual). Jordan Peterson is arguably (and make no mistake, it is an argument) right leaning, given that his now heavily memed description of crustacean society emphasizes the natural occurrence of dominance hierarchies.

Beyond that, we're not talking the G.O.P national convention here.  Consider that one of its purported members, Sam Harris - no fan of Donald Trump, to put it mildly, was also part of the wrecking crew that dismembered the Christian right back in the Bush years. Good to see he'd be happy to repeat the performance with the regressive left.

Could the left even put forward its own IDW candidates? Besides the brothers Eric and Bret Weinstein, two of its central figures, that is? Despite showing his age and being a bit unhinged on occasion, Noam Chomsky is no dummy and has shown some dismay for the postmodern elements on the left. Slavoj Žižek remains the philosopher of the common man, though you wouldn't know it trying to read him sometimes. Kyle Kulinski at Secular Talk does a lot of sharp work. Ditto for Jimmy Dore. I'm sure there are others, none any more fans of excessive political correctness than most people on the right, and without the ideological baggage that conservatism brings with it.

Those pundits and more like them will be needed in the future. Gone are the days when being progressive came with a default sense of intellectual and moral superiority. That's been the true impact of the IDW. The left is going to have to work for it now, and they're out of shape, if the contents of The Guardian and Vox are anything to go by. Once upon a time, being progressive meant you got to be the smart one in the room when your opposition consisted of creation "scientists", televangelists like Pat Robertson and the late Jerry Falwell, climate change deniers, paid shills for the pharmaceutical or energy lobbies, conspiracy theorists a-la the aforementioned Infowars and raving a.m radio talking heads in the vein of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

Weren't those the days?  It's a shame they're gone.

Not the right wing loons, sadly. They're still with us. What's been lost is the default assumption of progressive intellectual advantage and moral integrity. That's been squandered by the SJWs.

Now, being progressive all too often means anti-whiteness events on college campuses and masculinity being toxic. It means equating right leaning libertarians a-la Ben Shapiro with outright Nazis and denying the very science and reason that once made the progressives oh so superior to Christian conservatives as social constructions that privilege socially powerful groups. It means hammer and sickle waving goons giving Nazi skinheads a run for their money and trashing colleges and urban centers. It means apologizing for Muslim extremists from behind the rubric of anti-racism and mindlessly following along with a closed and insular party platform drawn up in feminist theory and critical race theory studies departments without any regard for an outside world dismissed as hopelessly racist, misogynistic and oppressive. Hell, in the wake of #MeToo allegations targeting progressives in Hollywood, they can't even be morally superior to disgraced televangelists any more.

No wonder the progressive establishment is so ornery.

What remains to be seen is whether the IDW will be enough to topple the regressive left hegemony on most college campuses and in the mainstream media. I suspect not. Not yet. The regressive left has shown itself impervious to reason to a degree that even the Christian right was not. This will require more than a posse of intellectual outlaw renegades. It requires popular support and sustained effort on part of a movement that effectively organizes and strategizes. While the anti-SJW cause has come a long way since its genesis on 4chan and gamergate, we ain't there yet.

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Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Neither Woke nor Red Pilled

Rapper Kanye West used to be "woke", I gather. Now he's "redpilled." The same is true of Candace Owens, aka "RedPillBlack" on YouTube. As an aside, note that Candace's channel asks whether you're sick of the "alt-left." You don't know us, Candace. How can you be sick of us?  Anyway, Kanye West recently tweeted that he "loved the way Candace Owens thinks." This is a bad thing as far as the Daily Beast is concerned: "Meet Candace Owens, Kanye West’s Toxic Far-Right Consigliere." This can't be good. We are warned. It's coming from the Daily Beast, after all. Ms. Owens must surely be little more than Eva Braun in blackface.

Given the stringent ideological conformity expected out of "marginalized" people in the wokesphere, it's hard not to applaud the ones that do manage to pop the red pill and break free of the Social Justice Inc. narratives we all get spoonfed on a daily basis. "Free thinking is a super power" Kanye West recently tweeted. And I couldn't agree more.

But is substituting being "woke" for being "redpilled" really free thinking?

In a recent Quilette article, Cathy Young tells us:
This is a healthy discussion. Unfortunately, in their understandable frustration with the social and racial orthodoxies that currently dominate liberal political culture, conservatives and libertarians risk embracing self-styled dissenters who are (to borrow a term from the social justice left) problematic allies. 
Ya think?

It's not an uncommon thing these days to see one-time progressives, social justice warriors and others on the left become disillusioned, then finding themselves descending rabbit-holes at the bottom of which are world views that I'd be very hard pressed to describe as at all preferable to the excesses of social justice.

As alt-left OG Rabbit blogs in his introductory article to alt-left thought:
Several months ago I noticed a guy following me on Twitter with the username, “A Clockwork Green.” In his bio, he identified as “AltLeft, racially aware white.” He deactivated his account, and I have no idea what ever happened to him. Shortly before he disappeared though, he had expressed his distaste for a lot of the rhetoric of the AltRight and seemed somewhat disillusioned. I began to wonder how many others there were like him. How many white progressives have begun to reject the politically correct narrative and secretly venture into thought crime circles on the web? I’m willing to bet it’s probably more than you think. Of those that pop the purple pill and make the trip…how many see all the boilerplate, post libertarian corporate conservatism, radical traditionalist Christianism, 15th century LARPing, pseuoscientific anti vaccination stuff and wacky conspiracy theories being promoted and decide “Fuck this. These people are freaks. Maybe the social justice crowd isn’t so bad after all.”
He goes on to say:
Then there are the ones who stick around. Seriously though, who are the AltLeft anyway? Who are we? I would say that the majority are white people who hold a lot of typically leftist views on economics, the environment and some social issues, yet at some point realized the new left had become hostile to any white person even slightly reluctant to act as a scapegoat for everybody else’s problems. No self respecting white person would want to be associated with a movement that trashes their heroes, their culture, their history, denies their achievements…a movement which seeks to destroy their civilization and erases their identity. Hell, besides all that, a lot of “cultural marxism” (or whatever) has become so freaky that most normal white feminists and gays are probably weirded out by it.
The anti white, anti male pathology on the mainstream left is glaring, and you'd have to be blind not to see it. This recent Guardian article on "How white women use strategic tears to avoid accountability" is an excellent case in point. My only issue with this particular article is that I find white feminists hard to sympathize with when it wasn't so long ago that they were writing similar tripe about male liberal sympathizers. Not that white/male allies are beyond reproach, but one must wonder why much of the white race hasn't been driven to Nazism by now given the abuse heaped on them in the progressive press.

Perhaps it's because we know that Nazism is far, far worse, given its track record. Hitler was the worst thing to ever happen to the Germanic race he so professed to love. But even closer to the center, the right wing has given us ample reasons thus far not to trust them. Is abandoning Trump = Hitler scaremongering in favor of hysteria that equates the Obama and Clinton democrats with communism so reasonable? Say what you will about either Lenin's politburo or the corporatist hacks at the DNC, they're most definitely not the same ideologically.

Are bizarre anti-Semetic conspiracy theories really so good an immunizing agent against the self loathing of the critical theory curriculum? It's good to abandon the oversimplified ideological tripe of The Guardian or the Huffington Post. Not so good when Infowars or Rebel Media are what take their place.

The threat of the so called red-pill becomes more insidious, in fact, the more "reasonable" the right wing thought embraced ends up being. Neofascist hate groups and conspiracy mongers make good comic book villains and objects of ridicule. Mainstream conservatism, however, is what's done more real harm in the last half century than any ideological fad in the free world, including intersectional social justice on college campuses, a distant second by comparison.

The reasons are made abundantly clear in Thomas Frank's 2004 opus, "What's the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America:"
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.
As concise a definition of the right wing in practice as any I've ever seen.

Much as I loathe SJWs, I can't help but think that above paragraph describes something that's done vastly more harm to fabric of the western civilization so precious to the right wing than any so called cultural Marxism - again something I'm no fan of, ever has. Even the Trump administration - for all its vaunted breaks from the mainstream Republican past, for all the 'never Trump' hysteria to come from the GOP's own ranks, note that the largest legislative achievement of this administration thus far and its congress is ... wait for it ... you guessed it! The November 2017 tax cuts!

The online right is replete with disillusioned leftists pushed to the right - "redpilled" - by some or another negative experience with the regressive left. These disillusioned leftists are not to be blamed. The regressive left has only itself to blame for its defectors.

But the red pill comes with baggage of its own. It will not ultimately be cheap for those who take it. Unless, of course, they're high income and can afford a Cadillac health care plan. Because it won't be covered by most high-deductible employer health care plans, you're not going to belong to a union strong enough to negotiate a health plan that will cover it, there won't be any commie universal health care or even medicare, medicaid or public option, and there won't be any generic alternatives available for a long, long time yet.

Because shrugging all of the above off as unworkable communism is what you're buying into when you shift your politics to the right.

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Why White Males get Trashed in the Media

"Why Can't We Hate White Men?" asks Suzanna Danuta Walters, a professor of sociology and director of the Women’s, Gender, and ...