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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Sunday, 6 May 2018

Does University "Indigenization" Threaten Open Inquiry?

The Laurier Society for Open Inquiry was founded by one Lindsay Shepherd, after the fiasco at Wilfred Laurier University in January 2018, wherein she was brought before the diversity inquisition (which, unlike its Spanish counterpart, we all very much expect these days) for showing a video of U of T prof Jordan Peterson expressing his controversial views on gender pronoun usage. The LSOI has since grown to include 180 academics, students and community supporters, most from Wilfred Laurier University (WLU) and the University of Waterloo, where the LSOI is based and most active.

The LSOI has fought an uphill battle with both of these educational institutions, who have shown considerable covert sympathy to antifa and other regressive left groups in their ongoing drive to censor controversial speakers and remake our intellectual culture along Soviet and Maoist lines. Besides giving Shepherd herself the third degree - and not the kind these institutions should be known for, other events were cancelled due to the age old tactic of fire alarmpulling, tacitly supported by Canadian university administrations despite the misuse of fire alarms being highly illegal, as well as by suspiciously elevated “security and police costs” which may be passed on to the speakers themselves or the groups hosting their events on college campuses, according to a recent policy revision at Waterloo University.

The LSOI has invited one Dr. Frances Widdowson, Associate Professor in the Department of Economics, Justice, and Policy Studies at Mount Royal University – my old alma mater - to present a public lecture at WLU entitled "Does University Indigenization Threaten Open Inquiry?" on May 9. The LSOI has launched a go fund me campaign to raise funds assessed to the group for additional security needs for this event.

And not without reason. Two antifa like groups: Kitchener-Waterloo Against Fascism and the Grand River IWW Defense Committee have announced their intent to protest the group in an event called "Racists Aren't Welcome Here" on the grounds that Lindsay Shepherd and Widdowson are racists, right wingers and white supremacist sympathizers. An odd action, given that Widdowson has described her politics as “Marxist-Socialist.” The event advises participants to wear masks. We can safely guess what that means.

Ah, Antifa. If it weren’t for you, we’d still not know for sure that the far left can be every bit as hysterical and stupid as the “Obama was a communist” tricorn hat and pointed hood crowd. They and the neo-Nazis really do deserve each other. 

And no, antifa aren’t the alternative left. They’re the mainstream regressive left, just a more extreme version of it. They're the militant wing of the intersectional feminist movement and don't really care about worker's rights or economic inequality all that much, despite the Marxist and syndicalist IWW facades. They're all about identity politics, which is actually closer to fascism than anything. That these groups are tacitly (and openly) supported by media, academia and other power structures in our society suggests that they're far cozier with the elites and real systems of power in our society than their pantomimes of resistance and protest would have us believe. 

This is the alternative left. These days, leftists who support free speech, leftists like us, are the alternative, not the main stream.

In case you’re wondering, “indigenization” is yet another fad/buzzword to emerge from the wacky world of academic intersectional social justice ideology. It’s not altogether different from “decolonization” which has led to such wonderful results – as indicated by rampaging mobs, vandalized buildings and intimidated students and faculty - in places ranging from South Africa to numerous US colleges such as Evergreen or UC Berkeley. Or the feminist “transformation of the academy” of the 1980s and 1990s, which ushered in so much of this propensity towards ideology masquerading as scholarship in the first place.

The academic veneer of such programs as “indigenization” includes, in the words of the abstract to Widdowson’s talk: 
… a number of components, including proposals to increase the number of courses on indigenous subjects, the symbolic recognition of indigenous cultures, and incentives for promoting and incorporating indigenous “knowledge systems.”
This should all sound familiar to anyone who was on hand to watch Occupy Wall Street completely implode. Widdowson worries, again according to the abstract: 
While some of these developments promise to enhance the university environment, others are a threat to the open and honest exchange of ideas. This is because some forms of symbolic recognition attempt to compel faculty and students to embrace a particular political and philosophical perspective, and dictates that “Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing” be “respected and valued” discourage critical thinking.
You might be wondering: How specifically does examining things from an indigenous perspective discourage critical thinking? If anything, shouldn't it add to avenues by which one can approach an issue, thereby opening up different opportunities for students in considering said issue and encouraging them to think critically; as opposed to just following common "colonial" wisdom exclusively?

Of course, there's nothing wrong with examining "indigenous perspectives" as such, although, the question of who speaks for indigenous people as a whole stands out in my mind. One wonders if antifa groups or postmodernist academic leftists are the most authentic answers to this question. But there’s no inherent harm in the study of such ideas any more than there’s inherent harm in the study of feminist theory or critical race theory. Multiple perspective are preferable to a single perspective, after all. Were we to thoroughly demonize and try to silence these points of view, we would become the very thing we're trying to fight.

However, Widdowson’s abstract explains further: 
It is expected, in fact, that “Indigenous knowledge”, “research traditions”, and “new epistemologies” be welcomed uncritically, and indigenization advocates try to intimidate intellectual challengers with accusations of “racism” and “colonialism.” There are even arguments that the refutation of any indigenous idea constitutes “epistemological racism” or, more astonishingly, “epistemicide”. This pressure has a negative impact on open inquiry; it creates an emotional “no-go zone” that is hostile to examining indigenous-non-indigenous relations rationally. While this will increase the power of indigenization advocates and the resources made available to them, it will not improve indigenous education. Educational achievement can only be improved if people are better able to understand the world around them, and this is not facilitated by many indigenization initiatives.
This is a familiar pattern now. The problem, as we've seen time and again, is the high barrier of intellectual protectionism constructed around standpoint and conflict theory based ideologies. Rooted, of course, in the rationalization that those deemed historically marginalized require their own safe spaces - the true origin of this now so rightly ill reputed concept, to develop their own consciousness free of meddling from the dominant social groups. Capitulating to this line of thought was the original sin of academia that has led to the proliferation of the dogmatic regressive leftism of our time.

We know by now that this is intellectually catastrophic – the results of protecting any school of thought from scrutiny or criticism always end up being dogmatic, ideological echo chambers. Without external checks, belief systems have a well documented tendency to become extremist, excessive and intellectually lazy. This is why the SJWs resort to name calling and censorship, as opposed to debate, when faced with ideological opposition.

There's nothing indigenous in my mind about the construction of a manichean view that romanticizes so called indigenous knowledge while viewing “white” or “western” ways of knowing; logic, reason, enlightenment etc. as being innately oppressive and discriminatory. This is rooted in German critical theory and French poststructuralism. Germany and France were not indigenous first nations in North America, last time I checked.

Plus, while I can't attest to how effective "Indigenous knowledge”, “research traditions”, and “new epistemologies” would actually be since such concepts tend to be vaguely defined, I've always felt that this view that science, logic and empiricism were somehow inherently "white" was actually the most insidious form of white supremacy going. It implies that in order to remain culturally authentic, non European cultures should stick to premodern ways of thinking and leave this science stuff to us white guys, who are the only group expected to disdain its own premodern traditions in favor of enlightenment rationality. If I wanted to actually ensure the continuation of Eurocentric colonialism, that's precisely how I'd do it in this day and age. A problem, however, is that the predictably unequal outcomes you'd get from "indigenous" vs "white" methods of research and scholarship would be laid entirely at the feet of "institutional racism", thus fueling another round of dogmatic intersectional activism.

None of this precludes looking honestly at how the European conquest and settlement of the Americas proceeded, or at how evils that were visited upon the natives were rationalized. Nor should indigenous traditions be shunted aside entirely. They should be studied and understood honestly. An honest look at historical evils is not the same the demonization of the present day descendants of the perpetrators of those evils, and refusing to study such matters for fear of causing offense, usually to more conservative types, is capitulation to a political correctness of another sort, and not of a better sort than that which equates any criticism of social justice ideologies with oppression and racism themselves.

Our academic institutions must censor no one, and they must shelter no one's views from reasoned critical examination. Peaceful protest must be allowed. The heckler's veto must not be. The stakes are high. If free speech and free inquiry perish in our institutions of learning and research, than they are doomed in the broader society and in our civilization as a whole.

Read The Regressive Left: Theory, History and Methodology Pt 5: Radical Ruckus

Critical Theory - the Unlikely Conservatism

If "critical theory" is to be a useful and good thing, it needs to punch up, not down. This is a crux of social justice thinking. ...