Monday, 10 December 2018

How Trump Succeeded

Trump stepped into a leadership and ideological vacuum. That's how he succeeded. First in the Republican party, then in the nation as a whole. Not many people that I see seem to get this. But from the outside looking in, it seems obvious to me. The establishment refuses to come to terms with this because they're the ones who are ultimately responsible for it.

We can start with the Republican Party. With Lyin' Ted and Little Marco and Low Energy Jeb. Say what you will about the Donald, he really wasn't lying in these cases. He stepped into a party that was morally, ideologically and philosophically exhausted and everybody knew it. The same old Reagan era trickle down talking points. The same old neocon obsessions with middle east power projection. The same old evangelical grandstanding serving as a thin mask for untold corruption. It was dead as a national political force. Rightism was reduced to a protest vote against something or other that Obama did and a rag-tag of paleoconservative conspiracism. Not something relevant to most people.

Truth is, they were the ones who killed American democracy. Not Trump. They killed it with deregulation, with outsourcing, with Reaganomics and enabling the largest wealth and income gap in history. They killed it with pseudo libertarianism - a replacement or at least very serious nerfing of institutions of democratic oversight with a quasi religious faith that "free markets" can do anything and everything far better than human agency ever could. F**k, what a farce. How could anybody be so stupid? They killed it with the inauguration of an international economic order that enabled the super rich to dictate policy while holding the club of capital flight and investment strike over the polity's head. They killed it by abolishing the fairness doctrine and allowance of media conglomeration. They killed it through the manufacture of a state of perpetual national emergency and the passage of the Patriot Act.

Then the GOP establishment have the gall to display such shock and awe with the emergence of Trump and Bannon. What the hell did they think was going to happen? When you create a social order based on cut throat competition, don't be surprised if one such as Trump can actually make callousness into a sort of political asset. 

 As for Hillary and the democrats, they largely dug their own graves in their own ways. For all the crying we heard about Russia, about Wikileaks, about the Bernie Bro's, about deplorables, it was Hillary's own record that doomed her. That and a bad campaign. But it went back farther than that. As far back as Bill Clinton, the thinking was much more how to accommodate themselves to the order that Reagan brought in than to push back against that order, or at least the less savory aspects of it. While too many Trump supporters really did fit the profile of the basket of deplorables, a surprising number of people who rejected Hillary were rejecting her own hypocritical support for mid-east wars, for the Patriot act, for demonizing "super predators" and her husband's repeal of Glass-Steagall, among other things.  Most of all, they rejected the democratic party's stab in the back of the one candidate in 2016 who really did understand what was wrong with the country and what was needed to fix it. And they continue to reject the jaw dropping sense of entitlement that many democrats and the so called "resistance" continue to display, acting as if they were simply entitled to the political support of the country as though it were their due.

 The left, for its part, made its own Faustian bargains through all of this. Beginning in the colleges and universities, they acceded to the demands of the standpoint theorists in the women's studies and critical race theory departments for total and complete deference. As if possessing one or some "intersecting" combination of intersecting marginalized identities somehow made one morally and intellectually infallible. Especially since these people were not usually that marginalized, having had the privilege of attending elite colleges and all. Thus the most rank nonsense was given free reign so long as it was at the behest of some marginalized or oppressed group or anther. This was first normalized in certain branches of academia, then in areas where liberal/progressive dominance was the norm. So we end up with "progressives" who are perfectly willing to accede to the worst elements of neo-robber baron rule but get all up in arms over cultural appropriation and microaggressions.  Imagine their surprise when they found the broader culture wasn't having any of this. Since then, the response has been a whole grab bag of defense mechanisms, projections and rationalizations so as to keep up the illusion of unimpeachable integrity of their particular ideological systems, regardless of how obviously flawed they are.

This is the milieu into which Trump emerged. The mistake is to see Trump as himself being the problem. We just get rid of orange Cheeto-man Hitler and then everything can go back to being all hunky-dory. It's a breathtakingly naive and self congratulatory way of seeing things but one I encounter frequently. Indeed the moral panic they're perpetually engineering over Trump simply adds fuel to the fire. There's an obvious thirst for a populism that cuts to the heart of the problem - that gets Wall Street, the military industrial complex, national security apparatus, academia and media back on a leash and working for the benefit of all again, but the Democrats are having none of it. Could it be because they too are bought and paid for?

Trump couldn't have succeeded in a polity that had not previously compromised itself in so many other ways.

To close, I cite present day France as perhaps a better example of what can be done in the face of establishment complacency and entitlement.

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The Obama Presidency: who Benefited?

Obama was pro-black in the same sense that Trump is pro-white.

What a farce.

The color that matters in American politics is $green$ and how much of it you have. Period.

 While I don't think they were personally responsible for it, Obama and Hillary oversaw the transformation of the democratic party, in addition to the establishment of a safe and nerfed form of progressivism. One that frames power and privilege entirely in terms of race and gender. Who benefits from that, I wonder? The black kid in the ghetto? The single mother on food stamps?

 Guess again, sunshine!

 A form of progressivism wherein six digit salary earning humanities profs and Huffpost bloggers tell unemployed white male construction workers to check their privilege. A form of progressivism wherein trolls in places like 4chan are held up as the greatest threat to democracy and freedom and corporate media outlets like the New York Times are cast as part of the "resistance." A form of progressivism that worries about Halloween costumes and old jazz era Christmas songs being "problematic" while the deep state and the military industrial complex go unscrutinized. Are praised even, since the evil orange man said bad things about them at some point (with all of the sincerity you'd expect from Trump - ha ha).

 Quite a remarkable feat, I must say. You'd have to go back to Nixon's southern strategy, and the conservative ruse of convincing white male working class voters that their real enemies are minorities and women demanding equal rights, to find something comparable to it. Wall Street and the Pentagon are your friends, the conservatives told the white and/or male middle and working classes. It's those uppity blacks who are your real enemies. My only question regarding how corporate democrats pulled the exact same scam on minorities and women is what took them so long?

 So again, who benefits? Who benefited from Obama? The same people who benefited under Bush, under Clinton, under Bush Sr. and under Reagan. I'm sure we can all guess who they are. It wasn't black people, that's for damn sure. But their self appointed democratic centralist vanguard in academia and mainstream media did get to demand trigger warnings and safe spaces for things they found offensive, so progress, right? And meanwhile, the GOP was able to cast this as representative of "leftism" and the political mileage they gain from it goes along way towards getting deregulators and top 1% of 1% tax cutters elected to public office.

So again, who benefits?

Obama. The greatest conservative president the US ever had.

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Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Should Misandry be a Hate Crime?

The UK contemplates making misandry a hate crime. According to the BBC:
Last month, it was announced that a review by the Law Commission would look at whether offences driven by misogyny - dislike, contempt or ingrained prejudice against women - should be treated as hate crimes. 
And now it's emerged the same review will also consider the opposite - crimes motivated by misandry - hostility towards men. 
Ageism and hatred of certain alternative cultures, such as Goths or punks, could also be included in future.
I've always been suspicious of hate crimes laws, prohibitions on hate speech especially. The recent issues surrounding internet censorship make clear my reasons why.  Who decides what is and isn't hate speech? I don't condone the hatred of anyone, but to criminalize it smacks of thought policing. Could people in power exploit these laws and simply shut down voices they don't like or that threaten their interests? That Facebook has recently shut down some 800 pages, ostensibly due to "terms of service" violations or something such exemplifies why I dislike this. It's authoritarianism from behind a happy face.

Especially since this comes suspiciously close to the midterm elections, and observe how many of the pages shut down are the most skeptical of US military aggression in the middle east. The parallels with the Satanic Panic censorship craze as a lead up to Gulf War 1 in the early 1990s should worry us. Get the public worked up about some moral panic or another, so as to give big government and big business broader license to censor with relative impunity.

So with that in mind, I'm quite leery of any bid to expand the definitions of "hate crime" or "hate speech" and think we need less of this, not more. That said, if we are to have such rules, let us at least have them apply to everybody. The idea that some groups of people deserve special protection and treatment as a means of making them equal always seemed Orwellian to me. Shall we raise the chocolate rations from 5 grams to 4 while we're at it? Praise Big Brother!

The fact that this is occurring in the UK, a country wherein a silly prank involving training a pug to salute like Hitler results in a national show trial, is also concerning. While civil liberties are under attack everywhere, the situation there seems especially bad, at least by supposedly democratic 1st world standards.

Not surprisingly, therefore, the feminist establishment in the UK isn't too happy about this, in ways that are not at all surprising.

Making misandry a hate crime will embolden abusive men, writes Jessica Eaton in an opinion piece for ... surprise surprise ... The Guardian!
A campaign started by the Labour MP Stella Creasy to consider misogyny as a form of hate crime has resulted in the Law Society deciding to consider whether misandry should be categorized as a hate crime, too. It is the ultimate example of whataboutery – when a group of people cries, “But what about X?”, to distract attention from any legitimate discussion of Y.
Well, not quite. If the entire moral basis of your ideology is that your demographic - women - are exclusively targeted for hatred based on their gender, then if it can be established that men are also targeted, then a major pillar of your ideology is knocked out. Plus, while we're on the subject of logical fallacies, that acknowledging the existence of misandry would somehow automatically result in distraction of legitimate discussion of issues facing women is the ultimate example of a false dilemma. The idea that we can't discuss issues facing men, unless from an approved frame already established by feminists, because women have it worse overall is the ultimate example of a fallacy of relative privation.

That we can no longer have honest discussions about women's issues if we acknowledge the existence of misandry is not only bad logic, it's also untrue and even anti-true. Our discussions of women's issues would become more, rather than less honest, because these discussions would actually be about treating everybody fairly, instead of continually having to preserve the notion that only women are victimized due to their gender and therefore only women are entitled to remedies for the ills their gender faces. A notion that sounds a lot like defense of privilege to me.

Eaton goes on to describe hate mail and numerous spurious accusations of misandry that she's faced in the past, and her and her husband's role in establishing a male mental health center in the UK. Well, good for you, Jessica, and sorry to hear about your ill treatment at the hands of angry men.  Again, acknowledging the existence and harm of misandry does not equate to the excusing and justification of threatening and harassing behaviors towards women. It does not even mean that we put misogyny and misandry on equal footing as far as actual harm done in the real world is concerned. This leads to an "oppression olympics" dynamic that benefits no one in the end.

It does, however, mean threatening the widespread perception that women are innately morally superior, a perception that probably causes more misogyny than it alleviates. A lot of men would be a lot less angry if there was some collective acknowledgement on part of women that their rules apply to themselves also.

But as you're about to discover, "when you're privileged, equality feels like oppression."

So claims Victoria Smith in an Independent opinion piece published Oct. 16.  Beneath that:
It seems there’s nothing women can have – not even their status as a marginalized sex class – that men will not expect them to share.
Well, isn't a group wanting something to themselves exlusively, a perk shared only by one gender but denied others - the very definition of privilege?

And this above a picture of women dressed in Handmaid costumes, from the film and TV adaptations of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel, The Handmaid's Tale. Because, you know, women having to share their "marginalized sex status" is totally the same as losing their very names and identities and being conscripted to bare children for the elite in a repressive totalitarian theocracy. Do these Handmaid protesters grasp the fact that in the novel, ideologically docile and censorious feminists assisted the fundamentalist Sons of Jacob in their seizure of power and establishment of the Republic of Gilead, and that this was part of warning Margaret Atwood was trying to convey? One wonders.

And "When you're privileged, equality feels like oppression" isn't the only vacuous feminist slogan Smith hauls out and rehashes for this article:
All of our actions take place within intersecting social hierarchies which place some groups at the top and others at the bottom.
One wonders how much money Ms. Smith makes per year in comparison to, say, a dockworker or a lorry (this is the UK, after all) driver?  One wonders if Ms. Smith can turn on the BBC, or go to a college or university, or go to the print and electronic media and see feminist voices sidelined in favor of voices for impoverished unemployed men or male veterans? One wonders if major media outlets would ever bypass a highly educated feminist in favor of speaking to a men's rights advocate about gender related topics? One wonders how hard Ms. Smith really has it if she was able to afford to attend a top notch UK university and receive exclusive access to instruction in intersectional feminist ideology?

I think we all know the answers to those questions.
So-called men’s rights activists (MRA) routinely portray women’s marginalized status as something to be envied. Feminists are accused of milking historic oppressions in order to appropriate power and resources in a world where positive discrimination in favor of women is rife.
It's not to be envied, it's to be condemned. It is the exploitation of the suffering of the abused and marginalized for personal exaltation. For how long now have financially well endowed women's organizations and advocacy, especially in academia, ignored the systemic nature of economic inequality effecting both genders? Or would mention of that jeopardize that endowment? Just keep dancing to capital's tune, sisters. Just keep framing issues of class and privilege in gendered terms instead of in economic terms, and there'll be plenty of positive discrimination in your favor. Capital will see to that.

And no, the men's right's crowd doesn't present a demonstrably better alternative. While they do have some legitimate grievances that are silenced by an entrenched feminist establishment, a paradigm claiming the dominance of a feminist class at everyone else's expense isn't entirely accurate either. As I like to say, get back to class. And you don't graduate until you get good marks (it helps to say it rather than read it). 

Interestingly, Ms Smith claims, "Attempts to make misandry the equivalent of misogyny rely on two misconceptions: first, that gender is a spectrum as opposed to a hierarchy; and second, that victimhood is in fact a source of power and privilege." Okay, but isn't the notion that gender isn't a spectrum actually heretical in progressive circles these days?

Finally, Smith's article is rife with an element of progressive thought that has recently been satirized by the grey faced "NPC" meme - namely its over-reliance on continually recycled buzzwords, slogans and ideological formula, recited and executed as if it were rote programming rather than sapient thought. It's much easier to fall back on circular statements like "when you’re used to privilege, equality feels like oppression" than it is to address the substance of opponent's arguments.

Off hand, I'd suggest that an entrenched feminist establishment that will never want for cameras and microphones in their faces, funding both in and out of academia for research and advocacy to further their agendas and social media moderation skewed heavily in their favor has every reason to be in an uproar over misandry possibly becoming a kind of hate crime. When you're privileged, equality feels like oppression.

Eaton worries in her Guardian piece that "The concept of misandry is dangerously vague in comparison to the reality of misogyny. I predict that if misandry is taken forward as a hate crime, it will be used to curb discussions of male violence and female oppression. Again."

Well Jessica, welcome to the internet that non-feminists have been operating on for several years now, where cries of "misogyny! racism! Nazism! Homophobia" accompanied by very real risk of loss platform, employment and damage to reputation are the answers received in any discussion that doesn't frame violence and oppression entirely in terms of male power and female victimhood.

Would I like misandry to become a category of hate crime? No. I'd like to see the category of hate crime abolished and everybody actually treated the same in our courts and other institutions. The notion that we are going to achieve equality by treating people unequally belongs in a George Orwell novel. No, that does not equate to the erasure of focus on specific forms of discrimination that certain groups face disproportionately.

But that does mean that some groups are not deemed innately more worthy of concern than others. That arrogance, entitlement and dogmatism, rather than a genuine humanistic concern for the well being of all attends the feminist establishment and is routinely displayed on social media makes clear what the end result of that is kind of doublethink approach to equality is. We should also be clear that it is an elite class of professional ideologues, not marginalized people themselves, who benefit from it.

But if we must have hate crimes laws, let them apply equally to men and women.

Intersectionality is Itself a System of Power

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Monday, 15 October 2018

#MeToo One Year On

One year on
According to Wikipedia:
On October 15, 2017, actress Alyssa Milano encouraged spreading the hashtag #MeToo, to attempt to draw attention to sexual assault and harassment. Milano later acknowledged earlier use of the phrase by Tarana Burke.

The phrase "Me too" was tweeted by Milano around noon on October 15, 2017, and had been used more than 200,000 times by the end of the day, and tweeted more than 500,000 times by October 16. On Facebook, the hashtag was used by more than 4.7 million people in 12 million posts during the first 24 hours. The platform reported that 45% of users in the United States had a friend who had posted using the term. 
Tens of thousands of people replied with #MeToo stories
The rest is, as they say, history.

I've yet to encounter a serious voice who didn't recognize the need to call out the sexual harassment and abuse of women, both in and out of professional contexts. As revelations surrounding the conduct of Harvey Weinstein emerged, the man proved impossible to feel sorry for. It wasn't long before many more Harvey Weinsteins were outed. The ugly underbelly of the entertainment industry, and indeed of many industries, and of many men even of progressive and feminist political sympathy (especially of such men, according to Sargon of Akkad) was revealed. Not that left leaning men were exclusively guilty, of course.

The list of casualties is long, and reaches as high as the US senate, wherein left leaning Democratic senator and comedian Al Franken eventually resigned amidst sexual misconduct allegations, and Republican Roy Moore lost his bid for the Alabama senate seat abandoned by Jeff Sessions in large part due to misconduct allegations made against him. In my own home country, it is Doug Ford and not Patrick Brown who won the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party and subsequently went on to become Premier of Ontario because Brown was disgraced by sex misconduct allegations made against him. There's little doubt that Me Too and Time's Up have impacted the cultural and political landscape enormously, and ultimately (one would hope) for the better. Even right leaning populist Steve Bannon recently admitted this in a recent interview with Sargon of Akkad.

Me Too and Time's Up were, and still are needed. But while these movements have revealed a dark underbelly of sexual exploitation in many areas of western culture, these movements also have a dark underbelly of their own.

Most notably, the fact that they're embedded in a radical feminist paradigm that is itself, to borrow one of its own terms, problematic. A quick glance at twitter is all it takes to confirm this.

In this world view, there is no such thing as an innocent man. All men have fed at the trough of male privilege and rape culture. All men, we are told, even those who do not assault or even verbally accost women, walk the streets in safety and confidence while women live in fear due to the male proclivity to rape and sexual harassment, and though by no means all men are harassers and rapists, a sizeable majority of rapists and harassers are male. This can't be denied while still trying to claim any kind of intellectual credibility on the issue. Surely it is not unreasonable to suggest in light of this that there are pathologies within male subcultures and male socialization that result in an increased proclivity towards sexually predatory conduct that have no comparable female counterparts.

This idea dates back at least as far back as 1975, and radical feminist Susan Brownmiller's publication of Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape.  So what, ask many women today, if men live in fear of a false accusation? Women live in fear of rape. One ill turn deserves another, right? Besides, false allegations are rare in comparison to the number of men who do rape and get away with it. So false allegations simply do not occur, or if they do occur, do so in numbers too insignificant to be of concern. It is in this idea of relative deprivation that problems begin to arise.

This radical feminist movement's take on the question of sexual misconduct is troubling. In keeping with its underlying standpoint theory, it would be left up to individual women (in a radicalized feminist zeitgeist) to decide for themselves whether or not they'd been harassed or even raped in a particular interaction with a male, and the allegation would be tantamount to guilt on the male's part.

There is little distinction to be made between forcible rape, sex between a sober male and clearly intoxicated or even drugged woman, sex between intoxicated partners, sex between a boss and a coworker, failure to obtain "enthusiastic consent" for "any stage of sexual activity", boorish comments and wolf-whistling, tactfully delivered compliments in the workplace, a non-consensual hand on a knee or invitation to a coffee date - men don't get to decide what's rape or harassment and what isn't, we are told. Men face an undefined yet very high burden of care, not merely for obtaining consent, but for women's comfort and enjoyment of the sex act itself. In light of patriarchy, male privilege and rape culture, regrets or discomfort on her part even if consent has nominally been given, can only mean that she's been violated, or at least unduly pressured somehow or another.

Legal theories long taken for granted and fundamental rights of the accused: presumption of innocence, the right to counsel, the right to impartial and fair trial, rights against self incrimination and even the idea that prosecutable offenses be clearly and objectively defined are handwaved away as being mere devices whereby the patriarchy maintains the availability of women's bodies for male sexual use with impunity. These lines of reasoning are seen not merely in the women's studies classroom or among the leftist twitterati. Such views are given serious exposure in academia and mainstream media, as was the case with female attorney Marie Henein faced accusations of "betraying women" after successfully representing Canadian media personality Jian Ghomeshi when he faced multiple counts of sexual assault.

Thus far, there haven't been (to my knowledge) any willfully falsified accusations of sexual misconduct made by a woman against a man following the proliferation of Me Too. Which isn't to say it hasn't happened. But denial even of the possibility of this occurring despite the fact that it does occur, along with denial of female on male sexual misconduct, which also occurs, is not uncommon among Me Too stalwarts. At the very least, male privilege vs female marginalization diminishes the moral gravity of male victimization when it does occur.

It's one thing to be honest about the gender ratios when it comes to who perpetrates and who is victimized by sexual misconduct. To say that men and women are statistically equally guilty for the sake of gender parity would be grossly dishonest. But to invisiblize male victims of sexual misconduct and of malicious false allegations so as to preserve a popular narrative of universal female victimhood and male privilege is likewise dishonest and ideologically driven.

Trial by social media and public opinion has been turned to because legal proceedings are long, expensive, complex and the numerous legal statues defending the rights of the accused are hard to overcome. This is intentionally so, and has no doubt allowed for many guilty men to go free, doubtlessly to the consternation of female victims. This consternation is understandable, but the substitute method of public shaming is notorious for its lack of objectivity and due process, and thus vulnerable to exploitation and misuse. Sure, one might object that since publicized allegations of misconduct on social media are not criminal trials, legal concepts like due process don't apply. But this treats due process as though it were a strictly legal convention and not a social and moral principle that a free society depends upon to remain free.

This troubling lack of procedure makes Me Too vulnerable to exploitation for political purposes. Want to remove a competitor for a job or a political opponent? Just dig up some salacious sexual goings-on in their past, and let the twitter pitch fork mob do the rest. The recent fiasco surrounding the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States is but the latest example. The aforementioned Patrick Brown was taken down by sexual misconduct allegations from his distant past that just happened to arise at a politically opportune time. Other examples include the ousting of Cenk Uygur from the board of the Justice Democrats due to some "sexist" blog posts he'd made back in 2006 being dug up and publicized by conservatives.

Allegations, and defense against such allegations can be expected to take on a more partisan character as time goes on.  Going back to the Kavanaugh case, it's hard to determine who's harder to take seriously: the democrats, who circled the wagons when Clinton faced sexual misconduct allegations, or Kavanaugh, who was basically Kenneth Starr's right hand man during those same proceedings. We should not take the GOP's sudden and anomalous concern for due process and the rights of the accused as being anything other than rank opportunism. Kavanaugh was involved in the writing of the Patriot Act and its roll backs of civil liberties, after all. A Republican administration moves one step closer to a Court that could overturn Roe vs. Wade, and they'll be damned if they're going to lose that to some thirty plus year old sexual misconduct allegation against their court pick.

The real threat faced by the Me Too and Time's Up movements is less a backlash of civil libertarians concerned about due process or a men's rights counter-surge, but more an undermining of the cause's credibility due to partisan and political exploitation.

One wonders what impact this is going to have on the future of romantic and sexual relationships between the sexes. Here again, one look at social media tells us that this is a low area of concern for women especially (but not exclusively), to put it mildly. Women have had little good to say for decades now about how men are holding up as romantic, marital and sexual partners. That men would refrain from pursuing women for romantic and sexual relationships out of fear of rape or harassment allegations would seem to be of little concern to women, and more than a few of them would see that as welcome relief from a status quo of apparently relentless pursuit by thirsty men.

Here too we are operating in a zeitgeist dominated by feminist views, and while these have retreated somewhat from the Dworkinite equation of intercourse with rape, attraction with objectification and so forth, the progressive consensus isn't in any big hurry to substantially define that which differentiates the romantic from the inappropriate and creepy either. The contexts wherein they use their terms would certainly seem to equate a man's unreciprocated attraction to a woman with something inappropriate at best, if not outrightly threatening, invasive and predatory.

The point of deterring male sexual interest in women - a point valued and sought after by women and their progressive male allies is better served by a muddiness and lack of definition than it is either by direct equation of male sexual interest with objectification, which would invite widespread backlash, or a clear definition of what differentiates the two, which would invite widespread legalistic exploitation. If nothing else, it gives women and progressive men much more room for plausible deniability when they decide that their implicit ideological code doesn't really apply to themselves and they do what humans naturally do, as these same progressives are very quick to point out in their denunciations of clerical celibacy or abstinence only sex education.

Not many women, and not all that many men either, have seen intimacy between the genders as worthy of anything resembling a spirited defense. Not merely in the Me Too era, but in the last three or so decades of feminist radicalization of women in cultural spaces leading up to it. I can't help but wonder if this will really be a good thing long term? Persons concerned about demographic meltdown due to low birth rates or mental health issues stemming from chronic loneliness, isolation and sexual/romantic frustration have reason to be concerned. We can probably expect more "incels" in the future.

All of that aside, the temptation among many in the broader reactionary idea space, including the alt-left, to simply dismiss Me Too and Time's Up as feminist hysteria is a temptation we should resist. Steve Bannon has the right of it in his interview with Sargon. The very real concerns of all too many women who have faced harassment and non-consensual sexual behavior from men can no more easily or rightly be dismissed than the concerns raised about Tiime's Up and Me Too by civil libertarians. Perhaps the best question we can ask is that which Emily Yoffe asked in a recent Atlantic Magazine article: Does Anyone Still Take Both Sexual Assault and Due Process Seriously?

Enthusiastic consent must certainly be sought as the answer to that question.

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Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The GOP Will Not Take the Fight to the Progressives

On the 6th of October 2018, Donald J Trump @realDonaldTrump on twitter tweeted the following:
You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law - not the rule of the mob. VOTE REPUBLICAN!
On the 7th of October, I published this in response on The Alternative Left on Facebook:
Well, okay there, Donald. I'll agree that the DNC are broken, the progressive establishment completely beholden to identity politics ideologues and are prone to frightening levels of self righteous and puritanical furor. 
But what of the GOP? Wasn't so long ago that the torch-and-pitchfork crowd were the Moral Majority and bible toting crowd, and I don't think they've abandoned so much as refined their presentation of that instinct. The fanatical SJWs may have overshadowed the flakier evangelicals in recent years, but the "Who Would Jesus Bomb" crowd and the Patriot Act people haven't gone away and have even just gained a seat on the Supreme Court. That is profoundly bad news. 
Moreover, the Republicans have always been ahead even of the corporate democrats as the party of the oligarchy. And that's no small feat. The GOP are very much the party of deregulating the banks and Wall Street, of union busting and trickle down economics, of the Military Industrial Complex and neocon petrodollar warfare. Make no mistake, the Democrats today aren't the postwar Labour Party or the pre 21st century Swedish Social Democrats by any stretch, but the GOP has consistantly led the way in terms of being moral populists in the streets and corrupt oligarchs and corporatists in the sheets, as it were. 
I share the Donald's concerns with the Democrats and the so called progressives, but I'm not fool enough to believe the GOP to be my allies, nor the allies of anyone who makes under $250K per year. 
Each day I see more evidence that the US needs a third party. A party of Labor.
On the 8th of October, Sargon of Akkad shared the Oct 7th Alternative Left post to his own Facebook page, with the following commentary:
Great points here. Trump is on the money, and the anti-secularist elements of the right will always be waiting in the wings. The main problem is that there is no force other than the GOP that can take the fight to the progressives. They are the only unified force that can actually take a stand by taking control of institutions.
Let me first of all say that I completely understand Sargon and countless other people's disillusionment with the Democrats and with progressive politics in general these days. The McResistance crowd, Portland Antifa, twitter feminists and social justice warriors more generally, among many others conduct themselves on a daily basis in ways that make it clear that narcissism and self absorption, not liberal or egalitarian idealism, are what's truly motivating them.

But let's step back and look at the bigger picture here. Is putting our support behind the right wing really the best answer to excesses of the current year cultural left?

When I saw this on Sargon's page, what I immediately thought about were countless online conversations that I had with progressives from about 2006 until the emergence of Gamergate and the beginnings of the real online backlash against the SJWs. Around 2014 or thereabouts.

The thrust of these conversations was always basically the same: I shared their despite for George W. Bush, the Religious Right and the G.O.P in general. But I also urged them - in vain, as always, to try to be mindful of what was truly despicable about the religious right and the conservatives more generally.

It wasn't that they were Christian. It was that they were dogmatic and self righteous, to a point where they became willfully blind to their own capacity for sin and wrongdoing. Exactly what Christ tried to warn his followers against. And these are also characteristics that ANY ideologically homogeneous moral community could cultivate, and that I was even then beginning to see emerge among progressives.

They didn't even really hate the Christianity, when you got right down to it. Because it was white, western and European, the Silicon Valley and Ivy League progressives singled out Christianity over and above all other religious traditions for criticism, but even then there was plenty of wiggle room. They didn't mind all that gospel stuff when MLK and the mid 20th century civil rights movement, or when the social gospel theorists who were basically the founders of the Canadian social democratic tradition were the ones doing it, though many of them did bristle at the notion that a lot of pre-postmodern progressivism was driven by essentially Christian ideals.

What they hated about the religious right was the "redneck" - poor, rural, white and uneducated. And not just because the white rural poor were (and still are) conservative. I saw little sneering hate and despite from the rainbow coalition types for Wall Street lobbyists and the military/industrial complex, and see less still of that today. What I saw out of progressives vis-a-vis the religious right was precisely the kind of condescending, high-handed snobbery you'd expect a classist or a racist to display towards someone considered inferior. Plenty of jokes and memes about backwoods hillbilly inbreeding, but much less about the corruption and abuses of power within the Churches.

Moreover, when it was suggested that Muslims, as exemplified by Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan or Iran could be every bit as harsh and repressive as medieval Christianity or early 20th century fascism, or even that atheists were every bit as capable of ruthless and dogmatic persecution as the worst fundamentalists, as exemplified in Lenin's USSR or Mao's China, one would be universally met with disdain, contempt, a very fragile ego, lame grade school humor and pretentious pseudo-cleverness and smug derision from your average American progressive. And don't get me started on the futility of comparing the anti-sex puritanism of religious conservatives and radical feminists. Never mind greed, power, dogmatism, fanaticism and self righteousness. All of those things were things progressives were fine with, as long as the right people were doing them. The problems of the world began and ended with too much church attendance on part of red state America. Simple as that.

This mindset was really revealing to me. It was all the proof I needed even then that the left, such as it was, had lost its way.

We're all familiar with the pattern now, but a lot of people like us in the tail end of the Bush years were resistant to the notion that you're not genuinely liberal or progressive simply because you're against the religious right when you're also snobbish, classist, racist, sexist, puritanical and dogmatic in other ways. To defeat the Christian right only to replace it with a "progressive" version of the same thing would be a victory both hollow and short lived.

Now flip the political poles of everything I've just said, and apply it to what Sargon's said above. And he certainly isn't the only one. The shoe's on the other foot now. We won't defeat the SJWs by becoming another version of them, either by accepting a neoreactionary take on identity politics - alt right racial consciousness and/or manosphere ideas or an alternative form of moral reductionism, as with the libertarians. And we certainly won't do it by supporting the flagrant plutocrats of the US Republican Party.

Don't get me wrong: I completely understand why Sargon and others like him can't support the Democrats and the left of today. I get why much of Sargon's online work centers around anti-feminism and anti-Islamism. I'm not exactly giving them a free ride myself. I completely sympathize with the disgust Sargon and his fan base feel for the flagrant hypocrisy of the social activist types. That's why I count myself among that fan base, despite not exactly fitting in ideologically.

It's the same disgust I and many of these same leftist activists felt towards the hypocrisy of the religious right ten years ago.

The disagreement that I have with Sargon here is threefold:

  • One, the GOP and conservatives more generally won't form an effective opposition to excessive political correctness in the broader culture in any event. They haven't for a long, long time now, as I explain here.  They haven't reined in the excesses of Hollywood or postmodern academia yet, despite railing against them for decades. Why should I believe they're going to start now? Western conservatism has proven itself utterly incapable of waging an effective culture war. This is why the general arc of the progression of western civilization over the last few centuries has been in a liberal direction. Neoreaction is rooted entirely in this realization. The reasons for this are complex, but a lot of it has to do with unbridled capitalism tending to promote rather than suppress cosmopolitanism and globalism. 
  • Two, supporting the right wing simply means, in the long run, supporting a different brand of regressives. Sure, the gun nuts and Jesus freaks aren't rioting in the streets today the way antifa are, but do they belong any closer to power? Does the idiocy of your average online intersectional feminist now make Pat Robertson and his ilk reasonable by comparison and worthy of political support? It seems to me as though the smug, self righteous moralism of the SJWs is merely replaced by a macho swagger on part of libertarians, paleoconservatives and neoreactionaries that is otherwise every bit as condescending, arrogant and closed minded. It seems like only yesterday that the SJWs struck me and the skeptic community types as comparably high handed and dogmatic as the religious right. Must we go through that again?
  • Three, there's what Thomas Frank made abundantly clear to us in "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.” 

My prediction is that Sargon and those who share his views - views I myself once held - are going to be disappointed. I say this with all due respect to Sargon. I think he still goes good work, for the most part. The problem is that the GOP aren't going to seriously challenge the regressive left. Instead, they'll exacerbate the social and economic conditions that give rise to the regressive left: increased social instability resulting from extreme inequality and employment insecurity. If anything, conservative oligarchs a-la Trump are instead going to push a lot of people ever further to the left - hopefully in a good way but I'm not optimistic.

The days of the GOP and the right wing having the kind of messaging that a Ronald Reagan or a Newt Gingrich did are long behind them. The rank and file of the one time Party of Ideas has now put a reality TV star with no prior political experience in the White House, and this really was preferable to the same old warmed over neocons the party establishment had on offer. That's why the alt-right and neoreaction arose in the first place. Because conservatism is morally and philosophically exhausted. They can no longer conceal the fact that they're all about economic and foreign policy favoring the super rich and that's all there is to it.

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Thursday, 16 August 2018

Feminism's Faustian Bargain and the Failure of Reaction

It is all but certain now that the ideological descendants of the Frankfurt critical theorists and the French postmodernists, once such critics of capitalism - have entered into unholy alliance with corporate power to oust conservative and reactionary voices from the public sphere and ultimately remake western civilization in their own image.

But this is a Faustian bargain, an arrangement worthy of Dostoevsky's Grand Inquisitor. For these so called progressives have become dependent on corporate power and the structure thereof to do this. Christ had the wisdom and foresight to resist Satan's temptations of worldly power. Today's social justice crowd, like the Soviet socialists and medieval church before them, do not. They'll throw themselves at Old Nick's cloven feet faster than a Scandinavian black metal band. The progressives will not hesitate to use conglomerate media to hoist feminist and other "socially progressive" ideologies on the populace and fire and blacklist those who oppose them.

But wasn't resistance to this kind of power the purpose of critical theory to begin with?

The feminist and SJW types are so fond of reminding us white dudes that America's wealth was purchased at the expense of native genocide, black slavery, wars for imperialism abroad and ongoing discrimination at home. But as the voices with which feminism's indictment are made louder by state, corporate and academic leverage, does not their complicity and even their shared guilt for these attrocities likewise grow? As they integrate themselves into the power structure, telling themselves that it's okay when they do it because they intend to use that power structure in a subversive manner, do they not also partake in it sins, past and present, whether they would admit or accept this or not? Is the platform from which they remind us of our privilege not built on the same black slavery and native genocide they're condemning?

It's not sexism and racism when college feminists or New York Times columnists do it. Yeah, sure. Power plus prejudice and all of that. Where have we heard that kind of thinking before? The USSR can't be oppressive, because oppression is the means by which one class exploits another and the great Soviet motherland, being a socialist state and therefore controlled by "the workers" has no exploitation, and is on the road to becoming a classless society. I'd doubt that the millions who died in the gulags would forgive the Kremlin its self serving sophistry and moral rationalizing. Though guilty of far lesser evils (so far) the feminist establishment in the culture industry of today is every bit as guilty of the same kind of egocentric arrogance and hypocrisy.

Keep trying to lie to the devil, sisters. I'm sure he might even start believing you one of these days.

Thus are the existing political categories rendered obsolete. The right who rails against "cultural Marxism" does so oblivious to the fact that it is capitalist mechanisms that are being used to "destroy the west" as they put it. As if deindustrialization and financial global capital didn't already do that under the rubric of neoliberal laissez faire and free trade, ideas conservatives and reactionaries not so long ago championed. Most still do. The devil does not give up his souls easily.

This corporate leftism, for it's part, cannot succeed. You do not foster "diversity" by grinding everyone into cogs in a corporate machine, nor are "social justice" and "inclusiveness" achieved by the creation of a cubicled underclass, kept as subservient by feminist theory and diversity today as the industrial proletariat of 150 years ago were kept docile and obedient by religion and nationalism.

Critical theory began by casting western civilization as a kind of foundation for capitalism. It is ironic, then, that critical theory itself, or at least its offshoots in the critical race theory and women's studies departments should acquire the same kind of hegemony that Gramsci originally ascribed to the cultural trappings of western capitalism. And it works to the same end - to uphold capitalism, not undermine it. "Diversity" "feminism" and "multiculturalism" translated well into "untapped markets" in corporate boardrooms across the world. They weren't going to neglect that potential out of some abstract loyalty to a culture, race, nation or religion. And all that woke talk and anti-racist pretense added up to a whole lot of manufactured consent for most of the left, most all of whom were more than happy to turn away from socialism if that's what would make the women happy. All and all, a good deal for capital. As always. Donald Trump would be proud.

It is untrammeled capitalism, not "cultural Marxism" that's responsible for all the social trends that the neoreactionaries and paleoconservatives don't like. Marx himself explains, in 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 fervor, 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. 
The bourgeoisie has disclosed how it came to pass that the brutal display of vigour in the Middle Ages, which reactionaries so much admire, found its fitting complement in the most slothful indolence. It has been the first to show what man’s activity can bring about. It has accomplished wonders far surpassing Egyptian pyramids, Roman aqueducts, and Gothic cathedrals; it has conducted expeditions that put in the shade all former Exoduses of nations and crusades. 
Blame Marx all you want, neoreactionaries and paleocons, for your declining birth rates and rising rates of immigration and out of wedlock birth. But shooting the messenger, which is what attacking Marx boils down to in these culture war debates, isn't going to help your cause any. Likewise, there are no "cuckservatives." Conservatism was never about western civilization. It was, and continues to be, about capital. Reactionaries were defeated by feminism and multiculturalism, but only because the progressives managed to align themselves with the interests of global capital. But if it's any consolation to to the far right, the progressives have done this at the expense of whatever they once stood for. In that sense, today's feminist progressivism and yesterday's religious reactionaries are very much like. Mammon is a jealous master, as the saying goes.

Whatever he may have been wrong about, all of this shows how right Marx was when he attached foundational importance to economic relations and modes of production, and culture was seen as being eventually derived from that. Not the other way around.

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Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Conservatives Helpless Against Internet Censorship

And They Have no one to Blame but Themselves

And You Will Remain Banned Until You Learn to
Trust Your Corporate Overlords!
But Trump won't take what is obviously the necessary action, Alex, because he's a conservative republican who's in bed with big business. When he's not in bed with prostitutes. Sorry 'bout your luck, Alex. I'll advise the lizard people of your displeasure as soon as I next see them. Assuming you're not just a crisis actor. I've long wondered if you were.

That aside, I don't wish this on Alex Jones. I don't want conservatives, libertarians or even the alt right censored and banned on the internet. Why? Because favoring corporate censorship is the LAST thing a leftist should be doing. Such would be an inherantly conservative stance. Much more so than allowing reactionary voices to remain online. The harm done by lone reactionaries pales compared to the harm done by concentrated corporate media power.

That said, I also find rightist voices hard to completely sympathize with here. Why? Because they argue the hardest for unconstrained corporate power to begin with. They argued for the sovereignty of private property, of the board chair and CEO and against regulation, unionization or social ownership. Moreover, the faux individualism espoused and quite often practised by the right have made them sitting ducks for the very corporate power they've been shilling for. Their very philosophy mitigates against the kind of collective action needed to fight back effectively. How's that rugged individualist online culture working out there, guys? It's working exactly how it always works - the small eaten by the large.

And now they they're getting censored by privately owned media and tech giants and getting SJW culture foisted on them, I find them hard to feel sorry for. Want to know why SJW culture is winning? Because capital must always expand. New markets are always needed. If immigrants, minorities or women will make more reliable consumers and cheaper labor - at home or abroad - that's what capital will invest in. Capital doesn't give a sh!t about muh white European culture. And it's not because (((THEM))) either. It gives a sh!t about profit. Period. Because that's what capital does. Especially now that conservatives have helped it become ascendant globally. I can't help but feel that there's a bit of poetic justice in play here.

Marx was clear that whenever the power of capital takes hold, sentiment and loyalty by culture and identity fall by the wayside and it's all about profit. Tech giants really do owe conservatives bugger all, if you ask me, and the right would do well to reconsider the deification of this idea of maximal shareholder value at all costs they've bought into somewhere along the line. They're not looking to be the winners here. Can't say I'm surprised, to be honest. 

Now watch me get banned.

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