Thursday, 1 December 2016

Progressive Reformation

It becomes increasingly clear as time goes on that we need a progressive reformation.

Wait a minute.  Why just the progressives?  Why not the conservatives?  Anyone wanting a conservative reformation certainly has my blessing and best wishes.  Really.  Good luck with that.  But that's not my thing.  I'll stick to the lefties for now, because that's my world.  That's what I'm familiar with.  Plus, I think the left really should strive for a higher standard of intellectual and moral honesty.  To be honest, I expect dishonesty and opportunism from the right.  Rationalizing abuses of power and obscene concentrations of wealth and denying the harmful effects of these is a major aspect of what right wing politics has been demonstrably about for as long as I can remember.  Witnessing the waxing of dishonesty and opportunism of liberal activism over the last several years has been especially unnerving.

So without further ado then, here are my theses:

  1. Exceptionalism based on white male guilt has been a profoundly negative influence on the 1st world political left.  It minimizes the flaws of foreign peoples and governments, and minimizes the strengths of western peoples and governments, and drives the profound distortions that plague the progressive world view.  Recognizing this does not preclude an honest and critical assessment of of western civilization past and present.
  2. Karl Marx was a brilliant man with many useful insights.  But the historical dialectic, this determinist, bipolar division of society into oppressive Empire and marginalized and oppressed Rebels needs to die.  This is not a call for a blind moral relativism and especially not a call to exempt rich and powerful elites from scrutiny, but rather a call for a more nuanced view of history and social conflict.  That said, the idea that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" belongs at the center of any sane view of society.
  3. It is flattering to believe oneself a part of a larger than life, heroic struggle against some kind of oppression or another.  A world view like this adds excitement and meaning to any otherwise drab or spoilt life.  It also enables self righteousness in favor of self reflection, and a tendency to demonize others.  This does not mean that opposition corruption and abuse of power should not be undertaken, but rather that it be done in a spirit of sobriety and self awareness rather than a spirit of zealotry and crusade.
  4. Privilege theory has done vastly more harm than good.  This is not to say that discrimination cannot be identified and combated.  But privilege theory is not about this.  Privilege theory is all about ego.  It is all about holding all white men collectively accountable for the worst actions of specific individuals, and for circumstances that are not in their power to change.  Were feminist and critical race theorists to be honest, they would admit that this is all about implying collective moral superiority.
  5. "Power plus prejudice" - this self serving rationalization that claims that women and minorities cannot be sexist or racist because those things require power, which their self referencing dogmas claim they don't have - needs to die.  Again, were honesty to prevail, this post modern antenomianism (an old religious heresy that claimed that moral law did not apply to the "elect")  is all about smugness and licensing the shitty behavior of those fortunate enough to fall within the charmed circle of preferred identities privileged enough not to be "privileged."  
  6. Privilege and inequality, where they still exist and are pressing in their nature, are now primarily economic in nature.  Income inequality and the undue influence of money in politics is addressed by center-left parties only at election time.  That these parties are often in the back pockets of moneyed interests perhaps explains why identity instead of economics have become such central issues on the left in the last few decades. The need for this to change is urgent.
  7. Willful misuse of terms like "racist", "misogynist", "homophobe", "Islamophobe" and so on was not a wise idea.  People are becoming increasingly less easily emotionally blackmailed or kafkatrapped into accepting liberal positions on issues by intentionally falsified accusations of bigotry.  Doing this also trivializes these terms and erodes their seriousness in the public eye.  Remember the story of the boy who cried wolf?
  8. Particularly galling is the exploitative misuse of bigotry smears to shield people, ideas or policies from otherwise legitimate criticism and scrutiny.  Branding all opposition to mass immigration as "racist" or refusal to support Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign as "misogyny" would be cases in point.
  9. It is incumbent upon progressive people to convince others of the merits of their world view.  It is not, under any circumstances, an entitlement of progressive people to be agreed with on anything.  Progressives must act accordingly at all times.
  10. Thesis 9 holds true even if you have a vagina.  Or black skin.  Or any other marginalized identity.  Identity does not determine truth (see theses 4 and 5).  Progressives must stop resorting to identity to smear opponents or sidestep arguments made against their positions.
  11. Your political views, voting patterns, stances on social issues, marginalized identities or any combination thereof does not make you either morally or intellectually superior to others.  Stop acting as though they do.
  12. People of color can be racist, even against whites.  Women can be sexist, even against men.  LGBT people can be cis/heterophobic.  Denying this undermines the entire purpose of being against racism, sexism or homophobia.  Stop falling back on the worn self serving rationalizations of privilege and power plus prejudice - see theses 4 and 5 above.  Progressives will be taken more seriously when they hold themselves to their own moral codes.
  13. Expressing disdain for working class and poor white men in liberal terms - implying that they're stupid, inbred, inherently racist and bigoted is the utmost height of arrogance and hypocrisy.  Doubly so if this is done from the privileged upper middle class bully pulpits of academia or mainstream media. That the left has no business stigmatizing poverty for anyone, but especially on the basis of race, should require no elaboration.
  14. Stop lying.  Really.  Just stop.  Stop denying that any progressive pundit or academic holds unpopular or controversial views when it is demonstrably the case that at least some of them do. Don't claim that there are no feminists who hate all men or equate heterosex with rape (as two examples of many) when this is demonstrably and provably the case.  Once the lie is exposed, do not minimize or rationalize it, or play semantic games to avoid dealing with the implications.  Admit, and distance yourselves from stupid or mean spirited views on the left. 
  15. Deal with dissent and counter arguments in an open and honest manner.  Stop with such passive-aggressive behaviors such as playing stupid and willfully misinterpreting or misunderstanding arguments that challenge your world views.  Correctly understand opposed arguments before responding to them - even if they trigger you in some way, and address their central thesis and main supporting points when in contention with them.
  16. Do not cherry pick opponent's arguments and present them out of context in order to make them say something they're not.
  17. Do not derail conversations by making issues out of minor details in opponent's arguments that are not essential to their main point or thesis.
  18. Do not exploit faux outrage - of the "I just can't even" variety - or treat opponent's arguments as morally abhorrent or intentionally provocative or insulting without clear evidence to support your outrage.  Remember that emotional states do not constitute arguments.  See theses 9 and 10.
  19. When your views are protected in academic safe spaces, are funded by big business and the state, are protected from criticism and scrutiny by "harassment" or "hate speech" laws, and enjoy unchallenged favorable bias in mainstream media outlets, the group that you belong to can no longer call itself or the people it claims to represent "marginalized."  The status enjoyed by feminism and anti-racism in western societies are the very textbook definitions of privilege.
  20. Your emotional states are not claims on other people's behaviors.  It is not incumbent on males to cross the street or vote for Hillary Clinton because you're a woman (see thesis 5) and are afraid of the consequences of males not complying with what would, if honestly assessed, be prejudiced and ideological assumptions underlying those fears. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a great list. I hope more people will check this blog out. There is a lot of alt letters floating around out there. You can't really say your opinions on this stuff. Its like religion all this modern left stuff. Reformation is approriate and ironic in that sense.


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