Wednesday, 31 May 2017
Tuesday, 30 May 2017
|"What are you? Chicken?"|
Monday, 29 May 2017
Over 250,000 eligible voters, and this is the best the Conservative Party of Canada can come up with?
A man former Liberal staffer Warren Kinsella described as a "perpetually grinning harlequin" is now to lead the official opposition to Justin Trudeau in the Great White North, and has ambitions of being Canada's next prime minister, following the next election, which is supposed to happen in 2019 sometime.
If that seems like a long wait, don't be afraid to sleep through the intervening years until voting day arrives. If you can't get to sleep, don't worry. Just listen to newly minted Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer speak for any length of time. You'll be out like a light in no time.
Mr. Andrew Scheer garnered as much applause as he was able to get during his victory speech when he talked about how important it was that Canadians be able to have a debate on any subject, especially on college campuses. A sentiment I fully agree with. And a statement that I suspect Mr. Scheer will deeply regret making once he actually does end up in a debate with Trudeau. Or anyone, come to that.
What was new was how this early 21st century wave of atheism used the internet to take the American cultural scene by storm. The net was dominated by a younger, more libertarian cohort, and they were getting ever angrier and more frustrated with the Christian conservative Bush white house. It wasn't just Bush's policies that drove their bitterness, but rather his facade of down-home folksiness, exemplified by his intentional mispronunciations of words. These new atheist authors found a receptive audience in these social media pioneers, for whom the problems America, and indeed the world, were facing were reducible to too much church attendance among red state Americans.
|The Meme of Legends|
I didn't trust how eager so many of them were to pronounce as fact something they could not prove - the nonexistence of God, despite their constant insistence on smoking gun evidence for God's existence from their religious opponents. The implication that all the world's problems could be laid at the feet of belief in Christian dogmas struck me as absurdly reductionist. Bertrand Russell became aware of the fact that God-belief wasn't the real root of the problem after meeting Lenin in 1920, and becoming extremely put off by Lenin's fanatical devotion to a decidedly non religious ideology. My direct experience with Bush era internet atheists was that they were staunchly unwilling to learn from Russell's experience. Talk to them of the terrors of the Soviet anti-religious campaigns or the Red Chinese invasion of Tibet and cultural revolution, and I was universally admonished - especially by female liberal atheists - to stop sounding like such a McCarthyite Republican.
Their experience with religion seemed limited to the conservative, evangelical Bush presidency and was defined entirely by being opposed to abortion and gay marriage. I was no friend to religious conservatism either, and had not been since the Satanic Panic of the 1980s wherein I was accused of devil worship on account of listening to heavy metal music and playing Dungeons and Dragons. But after having read Bertrand Russell, Eric Hoffer and others who'd done deeper research into the nature of belief and fanaticism, it seemed to me as though the new atheists were hamstrung by a decidedly one dimensional take on spiritual concerns. Although some of them had even read works by Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, many atheists I knew online and in real life seemed to not grasp that side of human nature that was drawn towards the mythical, the poetic and the spiritual.
Increasingly, online atheism came to be about smugness, wittiness, signalling, sarcasm, posturing, decidedly anti-holy holier than thou-ness, and just how much smarter they all were than those stupid religious rubes, inbreeding in the Ozarks, or the like. Being considered a good person was measurable by the correctness of one's beliefs and one's politics. The smug scenester mindset that I'd seen among my counter-culture acquaintances in high school was there all over again, except it was religious incorrectness rather than listening to the wrong kind of music that would get you snubbed by the very same people who claimed to despise preppy snobbery. There was no room at the table for people who believed in sky daddies, invisible pink unicorns or flying spaghetti monsters. He who fought with monsters was not taking care, and gazing altogether too long into the abyss.
I disliked religious intolerance, of course, but much more the intolerance than the religious. Especially when said intolerance was becoming increasingly agenda-driven and ideologically ego-stroking and self serving. Most anti-religious liberals were decidedly unwilling to take on Islam, for instance, long before Maajid Nawaz called out regressive leftism. Associations of anti-Islamism with racism were not invented by Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign. It was old hat even then. Censorship and sexual prudishness were only wrong when the Catholic Church and southern evangelicals were doing it. When radical feminists and college campuses were doing it, you were obviously an anti-gay, anti-abortion Bush loving republican for even daring to say such a thing. Clerical celibacy was just oh, so unnatural, but separatist radical feminism was heroic resistance against the patriarchy.
This was my experience from 2006 onwards. What would come to be called the SJWs and the Regressive Left were, as popular concepts, years away still. But the foundations had already long been laid and set. The hypocrisy on the left that drove me to abandon progressivism in the late 1990s after reading Warren Farrell's Myth of Male Power only seemed to be intensifying.
Thus, when donglegate happened, and Elevatorgate happened, and Atheism+ happened, the new atheists were a lot more surprised than I was. Descriptions of the debacle that was atheism+ in this 2013 article in Atheist Revolution now seem quaintly humorous in their familiarity. Postmodern intersectional 3rd wave feminism: Like Seinfeld, classic Star Trek or the music of the Beatles, it's easy to forget that a much younger and less worldly you actually experienced it for the first time:
"On August 19, 2012, blogger Jen McCreight unleashed "Atheism+" upon unsuspecting atheists around the world, and some would say our community has been divided ever since."
"Still others were turned off by the manner in which Atheism+ quickly became an "us vs. them" endeavor that seemed to be more about branding, self-promotion, and purging the atheist community of those who were not liked by those who decided to promote Atheism+ than it did about social justice."
"I was wrong about most atheists valuing skepticism and critical thinking. I would soon realize that many atheists were not skeptics or critical thinkers, at least not when it came to some aspects of their ideology. Unfortunately, I discovered I was wrong by observing the behavior of many of the most vocal supporters of Atheism+. They demonstrated little willingness to think critically or skeptically about the particular form of feminism that seemed to be at the center of their worldview."
"Because Atheism+ was righteous, those who offered criticism were not just people who disagreed; they were bad people. In order to be a valued member of the community, one needed to be the right kind of feminist."And this, the canary in the coal mine gone silent even in 2013:
"Social justice tends to emphasize human rights, making it more inclusive than the particular issues Jen listed after it. For example, social justice efforts have long focused on the plight of the poor. This was nowhere to be found on Jen's list."You don't say!
The moment I had been hoping for since 1992, when I read Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale - when a substantial portion of liberals would catch on to the fact that the postmodern progressivism of which the new atheism was a part, and Christian conservatism were much more alike than different beneath their cultural veneers - finally seemed to happen in the later part of 2014. The tone of the discussion had finally shifted. Bill Maher and Sam Harris were squaring off against Ben Affleck on Real Time, and a YouTuber calling himself the Amazing Atheist had finally found a punching bag he preferred to the Christian God in another YouTuber by the name of Anita Sarkeesian.
Once again, it seemed, Bertrand Russell had met Lenin, and was again unimpressed by what he saw.
About damn time.
|"Let us Face the Future!"|
In late 2016, the unthinkable happened. Disillusionment with the direction that the regressive left and the SJWs were taking things caused "I'm with her" - the successor to the now distant and disillusioned "Change we can believe in" to fall before "Make America great again!" Following this was nothing less than an all out civil war on the progressive left between those who thought the election results due to just how deeply racist and misogynistic America was, and those who thought that the left's obsession with racism and misogyny to the exclusion of jobs and the economy was precisely why Hillary Clinton lost.
Sunday, 28 May 2017
Well, it's all fun and games until the tables are turned on white women by black women, or trans or homosexual women, who then make the same claims against their white feminist and heterosexual counterparts. Black and gay men are likewise lambasted for their male privilege.
I see almost no advocacy of measurable or implementable policy in explicitly intersectional feminist media. This most likely since actually tackling inequality in any meaningful sense would necessarily entail economic policy and class analysis from a materialist perspective. The analysis would have to get into political economy, relations of production and so on, and this form of analysis constitutes a mortal threat to identity based privilege theories, and the egos those theories stroke.
To say nothing of the media conglomerates and the increasingly privatized system of higher education that push intersectional feminist narratives. I find it unlikely that these venerable corporate institutions would promote an ideology that presented a real threat to the real power structures that define and govern 1st world capitalist societies. It would be much more useful for them to promote a faux leftism that sets the middle and working classes against each other along racial and gender lines. The 99% become much easier to manage that way. Divide and rule: a tradition as old as civilization itself.
The emphasis on race and gender identity prevalent on the left is also no doubt appreciated the middle class segments of the female and ethnic minority populations, who are given someone to look down on and scapegoat in the form of the white male. I'd also suggest that it is also appreciated in the halls of corporate and state power, that escape institutional scrutiny from a left now held hostage by its middle class feminist constituents, eager to dismiss concerns about political economy as so much toxic masculinity.
Thursday, 25 May 2017
Social justice causes such as anti racism and feminism have a natural appeal. What arguments could reasonable and conscientious people make against equal access to educational and employment opportunities? Who in their right mind would be supportive of barriers to success based on such arbitrary characteristics as race, gender or sexual orientation? As a culture, we are very fond of stories from our past about how basic rights and civil liberties were won by hitherto discriminated against people. Vietnam war era rallies, protests and riots in opposition to unjust and costly wars abroad and discrimination and bigotry at home have become cornerstones of the identifying mythology of the western world.
The appeal that these movements have for people today, even half a century after their occurrence, should be obvious. But are the movements against sexual and racial discrimination we see today, especially on college campuses and on social media, truly the successors of their summer of love era progenitors?
There are some similarities and areas of overlap. Just as earlier periods of civil rights struggles produced its share of unhinged extremists. But the differences between the civil rights era and what have been called the regressive left and the social justice warriors of our time go much deeper than that. It is not just that current year has just happened to produce more moonbats and nutjobs than times past, though many factors are conducive to that happening, or that you're just able to hear more about them due to social media. Beneath the veneer of social justice, the so called progressivism of our era is fundamentally different, and in ways that are decidedly unprogressive, compared times past.
Oppression has been defined as the exercise of authority in a burdensome, cruel or unjust manner, unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power, a situation in which people are governed in an unfair or cruel way and prevented from having opportunities and freedom and as prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or exercise of authority. Given these definitions, are many of the causes taken up by the regressive left social justice warriors of our time really anti-oppression struggles?
Some questions to ask ourselves, and things to think about:
Are people who are oppressed, as defined above, typically given legal recourse against those who they deem to have defamed the group to which they belong, as is the case of hate speech laws?
Are the penalties for crimes against oppressed peoples greater if hatred of the group to which the victim of the crime belongs is deemed a motive for the crime in question, as is the case with hate speech laws?
Are members of oppressed groups able to seek and win elected office, sometimes the highest executive office in the land, as was the case in the United States of America in the 2008 - 2016 time frame? Typically, oppressed peoples are barred from public office, as black people were in the days of apartheid and segregation.
While peoples suffering from genuine oppression can have enlightened benefactors among the more privileged elites otherwise profiting from their marginalization - and good for them when they do, would oppressed peoples enjoy the level of government funding and corporate sponsorship that their claimants enjoy today? Would advertisers fear to be associated with a brand that did not sympathize with "marginalized" groups? Would social justice provide not just meaning and purpose for its activist cadres, but lucrative careers in bureaucracies in the public sector, in education at all levels, in both entertainment and informative media and media watchdog groups, in non-profit advocacy, in law, with lobby groups, in politics and numerous other fields? I would hardly expect advocacy on behalf of truly oppressed peoples to be institutionalized to even a fraction of the extent that it is in western cultures today.
Radical left protest, up to the point of rioting or even terrorism has historically targeted institutions of government and corporate power. This was the case up to the time of Occupy Wall Street. Today, anti-racist groups claiming to oppose police brutality protest in a manner that obstructs the lives of ordinary, workaday people surprisingly far removed from positions of power. Wouldn't it make more sense to picket a police station than to block traffic or obstruct the progress of white students to their classrooms on college campuses? What does it tell us when movements like intersectional feminism and black lives matter spend much more time and effort attacking individuals who happen to be white and male than they do the actual "structures" and "systems" to which they attribute ultimate responsibility for oppression?
Speaking of college campuses, is there no difference between the campuses of fifty years ago, that required court orders to even admit black students at all in some cases, and campuses today, infamous for their immediate and thorough capitulation to endless rounds of demands for courses, entire dormitories and study halls, curriculum content and even convocation ceremonies exclusively for black and other minority students?
Stories of speakers deemed offensive to minority sentiments being no-platformed, disinvited from college campuses or even provoking campus riots abound, and virtually always with little or no academic discipline or legal consequences following for the offenders, abound on social media. More astonishing still is the fact that the scripts that these protesters are reading from were written in the very academic institutions they're protesting, and the protests themselves often enjoy at least the tacit, if not open support of college administration and faculty. If this is oppression, it is certainly the strangest form of oppression I've ever heard of.
I would expect "oppressed" to be a descriptor of people who are denied access even to basic education, let alone access to the most prestigious post-secondary institutions in the world, even in preference to more qualified applicants who are not members of the supposedly oppressed group. Oppressed groups would not be granted their own whole fields of study, such as black studies or women's studies, and the works of these fields would not be exempted, at least by taboo if not by institutional policy, from scrutiny or criticism from their peers. Oppressed is most certainly not the descriptor I'd use to describe those whose mere disapproval or offense could ruin the career of otherwise distinguished professors and make entire college faculties quake with fear.
Oppressed groups and their representatives do not typically enjoy near universally favorable media bias, nor do they enjoy a near complete absence of scrutiny or criticism of claims they make in academic or media environments. When's the last time you've seen or heard a credible journalist not associated with an explicitly conservative or libertarian news source openly challenge a core doctrine of feminism or a leading feminist theorist or critic?
Issues of concern in intersectional social justice circles have a remarkable way of arising quite suddenly and simultaneously in multiple media outlets, framed in the same way and couched in the same terms with the same talking points. Observe, again and again, how quickly one manufactured issue after another appeared very suddenly and dramatically, supported almost universally across multiple media outlets or on multiple college campuses, while opposition and criticism to the "progressive" stance on this issue is developed and disseminated only slowly, and articulated primarily in the comments sections of mainstream corporate media outlets. Would oppressed and marginalized groups have access to the money, resources and skills needed to conduct such apparently professional and well coordinated media campaigns?
Oppressed groups are not typically successful in their efforts to block the efforts of their supposedly more privileged counterparts to bring to light instances of when the "non-oppressed" group suffers domestic partner or sexual violence. It would be logical not to expect oppressed groups to be capable of marshalling vast mobs on social media to harass, dox or even get fired from their jobs individuals who happen to criticize the orthodox political and social opinions favored by the oppressed group. The logical thing to expect would be for victims of domestic and sexual violence to be silenced and swept under the carpet if they belonged to oppressed groups. Could it be that this is, in fact, actually happening, just not in the way, and against the groups that conventional media narratives would have us believe it is?
Demands on behalf of an oppressed groups for the elimination of due process for members of the oppressor group where allegations of rape are concerned would most certainly not be taken seriously, at least in mainstream, agenda setting media, and would not animate policy on college campuses. If a member of a privileged group were to compliment a member of an oppressed group, I highly doubt that offense or even allegations of harassment would ensue in response, if the recipient of such attention were indeed oppressed. Extreme flattery would be a much more logical response. The privileged would be enjoined by stringent cultural norms and social mores from speaking well at all of the groups they oppress.
Would truly oppressed peoples really object to their oppressors adopting elements of the culture of the oppressed group, and would an oppressor group who had really adopted widespread attitudes of bigotry and disdain towards the people they're oppressing "appropriate" their culture? Or would it be sternly frowned upon within the elite, domineering group to adopt any aspect of the oppressed group's culture? When the dominant group begins assuming certain cultural forms of oppressed groups, is this a mark of oppression or, perhaps, a veiled expression of sympathy?
The real canary in the coal mine, however, is the disposition of protest politics and social justice movements towards the concept of free speech. No group who ever sought a more inclusive, just and liberal society ever advocated censorship or the silencing of its opponents. That the protest politics and social justice movements of today very explicitly advocate censorship and the judgement of people by the color of their skin rather than the content of their character should tell us everything about their nature today as opposed to their nature - the odd fanatic notwithstanding - back in the glamorized 1960s.
None of which is to say that women, minorities and so on do not have legitimate grievances or that they are not still treated unfairly and discriminated against. But the worm has turned in many key respects.
Rather, this is about the appropriation of the historical struggles of marginalized peoples for political purposes much more related to the consolidation of power for a class of people whose resemblances to the truly marginalized and oppressed are literally only skin deep.
They are, perhaps, better compared to the clergy of medieval Christendom, for whom the works of Christ and the Apostles were more to legitimize their own privileged position in the feudal hierarchy than they were examples to be followed. Perhaps this is more about that summer of love mythology described above that so many people love so much, and are increasingly turning to now that the clergy of Christendom seem to be receding from their former prominence in largely similar roles. The clergy of social justice - itself originally a Christian concept, interestingly. Social justice, or state religion?
Whatever the politics of the regressive left are, they are not politics on behalf of oppressed peoples.
Sunday, 21 May 2017
"The world is dominated by an evil, tyrannous power of boundless destructiveness. A power moreover that is imagined not simply as human, but demonic. The tyranny of that power will become more and more outrageous, the sufferings of its victims more and more intolerable - until suddenly the hour will strike when the Saints of God are able to rise up and overthrow it. Then the Saints themselves, the chosen, holy people who hitherto have groaned under the oppressor's heel, shall in their turn inherit dominion over the whole of the Earth. This will be the culmination of history; the Kingdom of the Saints will not only surpass in glory all previous kingdoms, it will have no successors."
"The central image is that of a vast and sinister conspiracy, a gigantic and yet subtle machinery of influence set in motion to undermine and destroy a way of life. One may object that there are conspiratorial acts in history. and there is nothing paranoid about taking note of them. This is true. All political behavior requires strategy, many strategic acts depend for their effect upon a period of secrecy, and anything that is secret may be described, often with but little exaggeration, as conspiratorial. The distinguishing thing about the paranoid style is not that its exponents see conspiracies or plots here and there in history, but that they regard a "vast" or "gigantic" conspiracy as the motive force in historical events. History is a conspiracy, set in motion by demonic forces of almost transcendent power, and what is felt to be needed to defeat it is not the usual methods of political give and-take, but an all-out crusade."
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