Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Julian Bond explains how identitarianism hurt the Black Power movement

From Tapes & Transcripts | The Two Nations Of Black America | FRONTLINE | PBS:

HENRY LOUIS GATES, Jr.: Well, how did the black power movement relate itself to the Civil Rights movement? Was it a coda? Was it an aftereffect? Was it the next step? Was it the real revolution, or not the revolution?

JULIAN BOND: It promised to be the next step, but I don't think it ever realized that promise. A section of the movement became more nationalistic, pulling on this long stream of nationalism that's ever-present in black America, and schisms between black and white workers developed. Whites were expelled. The movement lost its interracial nature. It lost its larger support in the larger community. They were harmful to the movement. And while they didn't kill it, they certainly slowed it down.

The High Cost of Denying Class War by Yanis Varoufakis

The High Cost of Denying Class War by Yanis Varoufakis - Project Syndicate:
Polite society seemed not to give a damn that it had become easier to get into Harvard or Cambridge if you were black than if you were poor. They deliberately ignored that identity politics can be as divisive as apartheid if allowed to act as a lever for overlooking class conflict.

Identity Politics and the Left - Eric Hobsbawm

Institute of Education, London on 2 May 1996

The Two Nations Of Black America | Henry Louis Gates

Tapes & Transcripts | The Two Nations Of Black America | FRONTLINE | PBS

A New Sense of Direction (1968) - M. L. King

A New Sense of Direction (1968) | Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs: When finally reaching for clubs, dogs and guns they found the world and the nation watching. It was at this moment that the power of non-violent protest became manifest.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Intersectionality: A Marxist Critique - another smart leftist critique

Intersectionality: A Marxist Critique | Black Agenda Report:
Although intersectionality can usefully describe the effects of multiple oppressions, I propose, it does not offer an adequate explanatory framework for addressing the root causes of social inequality in the capitalist socioeconomic system. In fact, intersectionality can pose a barrier when one begins to ask other kinds of questions about the reasons for inequality—that is, when one moves past the discourse of “rights” and institutional policy, which presuppose the existence of social relations based upon the private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of labor.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

link: What Do You Do When You Are Anonymously Accused of Rape?

From What Do You Do When You Are Anonymously Accused of Rape?
“I’ve had cases where we know what the allegations are and we know who said them. None of that is true here,” he said. “The intersection between the internet and allegations like this and anonymity is very dangerous place to be. There’s no protection for the accused. It’s the perfect way to assassinate someone’s character without having to prove anything.”

Friday, October 5, 2018

a few quick definitions: social justice, socialism, social justice worker vs warrior

Social justice: Improve the lives of the poor

Socialism: End the class system

Social justice worker: Help the poor and treat all with love and respect

Social justice warrior: Insult, dox, threaten, blacklist, ban, no platform, and get people fired while citing social justice

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Observations of the Day

Identitarianism is the politics of ad hominem.

Richer people live in a bubble. Richer academics live in two.

While it is essential to learn from the past, it is also essential to remember that the present is not the past. Revolutionaries, like generals, love to fight the last war.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Polls as accurate as they have ever been, study says | Politics | The Guardian

Polls as accurate as they have ever been, study says | Politics | The Guardian:
Looking at polls for the last week of campaigns for 220 national elections in 32 countries over the decades to 2017 – with data for a handful of countries stretching back to 1942 – errors have held steady at about 2%. When the team looked only at the 11 countries that had regular polling over several decades, polling errors were found to have dropped over time.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Weaponized idpol

Weaponized idpol: "(T)he cynical emphasis on personal identity over political beliefs in order to advance candidates whose interests are inapposite to the needs of the groups they’re presumed to represent." —Definition by Briahna Joy Gray, noted by John Halle
You might argue that "weaponized idpol" is redundant, but an argument can be made that identity politics have been used to remind groups to band together for the good of the entire group. But I couldn't offer an example from the last thirty years.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

On fannish gentrification and ostracism

When I was googling before posting An update on the gentrification of fandom, I came across a comment that I was tempted to share in that post, then decided it was a distraction from the point I was trying to make, partly because I'm used as the example. But it's fodder for a related post about the manners and practices of bourgeois fans, so here it is.

In the comments at Social Gentrification | Status 451, Titanium Dragon claimed that the people who get ostracized are awful human beings. Non Sum Qualis Eram replied,
I don’t know that I agree.

I mean, yes, I’m sure that some dangerous asshats might be kicked out, but I’ve rarely seen that. Mostly, the figure of hate du jour is someone quite, quite harmless who just _will not_ shut up when arguing with someone who has greater social capital. Someone who embodies the fandom value of being pedantic and ornery when it comes to dispute. A good example is Will Shetterly who is as nice a fellow as you could hope to meet but who would not shut up about (in our now painfully distended analogy) the shoddy architecture or substandard building material of the gentrifiers.

Indeed in my history of following fandom drama, the people being castigated are usually people who’ve engaged in crimethink or telling jokes not on the approved list, or like Shetterly ornery interlocutors. Occasionally it is someone with a claim of harassment against them which is sometimes substantiated. But very rarely is it a _legitimately_ terrible person, though of course, occasionally it is: Applebaum comes swiftly to mind.

However, the chief labor of the gentrifiers isn’t concerned with individuals so much, I find, as it is with cleaning up the, ah, architecture and street plan. By doing so, it makes the infrastructure itself hostile to those it wants gone. Just like (as was mentioned on this blog earlier) imposing certain prosocial norms like the necessity of small talk conducted in a society-approved fashion on coding companies helps the newcomers, sure enough, but harms people for whom small talk is difficult.
I can't speak for many of the people who've been demonized by the genre's identitarians, but I've often heard from their friends that they didn't deserve to be driven out. I have no doubt that was true of William Sanders. I assume it's true about Rene Walling, who was defended by Jo Walton, who is quick to condemn people she doesn't know. The charges against other men ostracized for hitting on women seem always to be about uninvited advances, but none that I know of have been about someone forcing himself on anyone—these men all seem to have accepted that no means no, for all that they were persistent in their attentions. I want to think some true "dangerous asshats" have been excluded for good reason, but if that's so, I don't know their names, perhaps because they're excluded more quietly than the safe people declared to be asshats.

Fandom's great virtue was that it was a place where the outcasts could come. Now it's another place for creating them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Unpacking Peggy McIntosh's Knapsack - Quillette

Unpacking Peggy McIntosh's Knapsack - Quillette:
But even though the lifetime of privilege McIntosh has experienced is almost certainly due to her wealth and not the colour of her skin, she nevertheless found a way to share this irksome burden with the illiterate children of Kentucky coal miners, the hopeless peasants of the Appalachians, poor single mothers struggling to make ends meet on welfare, and the vast majority of whites in the United States and throughout the world who never had the chance to attend Radcliffe or Harvard. She simply reclassified her manifest economic advantage as racial privilege and then dumped this newly discovered original sin onto every person who happens to share her skin color. Without, of course, actually redistributing any of the wealth that, by her own account, she had done nothing to deserve.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The Forgotten Story of How "Punching Up" Harmed the Science-Fiction/Fantasy World - Quillette

The Forgotten Story of How "Punching Up" Harmed the Science-Fiction/Fantasy World - Quillette:
There are many reasons, both moral and practical, to criticize this ideology. It inevitably undermines modern Western society’s hard-won taboo on racial insults and is likely to provoke a backlash. It relies on crude and often skewed definitions of power, privilege and oppression—so that, for instance, Jeong, a Harvard Law School graduate and successful journalist from a minority group with higher income and lower incarceration rates than white Americans, can outscore an unemployed white high school dropout in “oppression points.” (Or so that Jeong supporter Rani Molla, another journalist with an elite degree and from a thriving demographic, can deride “whiny” rural white workers at a chicken processing plant.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

I Was the Mob Until the Mob Came for Me - Quillette

I Was the Mob Until the Mob Came for Me - Quillette:
Social justice is a surveillance culture, a snitch culture. The constant vigilance on the part of my colleagues and friends did me in. That’s why I’m delivering sushi and pizza. Not that I’m complaining. It’s honest work, and it’s led me to rediscover how to interact with people in the real world. I am a kinder and more respectful person now that I’m not regularly on social media attacking people for not being “kind” and “respectful.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Opting Out by Thomas Chatterton Williams

The American Scholar: Opting Out - Thomas Chatterton Williams: On the decision to “retire” from being black

Worth reading for its own sake, of course, but also because it includes this quote:

“Treating race as a social fact amounts to nothing more than acknowledging that we were mistaken to think of it as a biological fact and then insisting that we ought to keep making the mistake.” —Walter Benn Michaels

Sunday, June 24, 2018

This may show the problem with the current masters of Fourth Street Fantasy

The people who love safe spaces are the people who love a story that says bravery is walking away. And, of course, those people love that story because they don't even have the courage to walk away. They enjoy their economic privilege by insisting the main problem is social privilege.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Weaponizing politeness

Being asked to moderate your tone is called "tone-policing" by social justice warriors. If I was prepared to enter a Wikipedia edit war, I would correct their entry on tone-policing, which currently says tone-policing is
an ad hominem and antidebate appeal based on genetic fallacy. It attempts to detract from the validity of a statement by attacking the tone in which it was presented rather than the message itself.
If that was correct, then any attempt to establish terms for debate is a logical fallacy. But the truth is tone-policing is only a request for common courtesy.

When SJWs say they reject tone-policing, they are engaging in their own form of tone-policing: they're saying they may speak rudely because they are oppressed, but others may not speak rudely to them. The tactic is often effective with polite people, who shut up and wonder if they were being rude by being polite. They end up like a computer in a 1960s sci-fi show: This does not compute! This does not compute!

Social justice warriors reject politeness because they fear what politeness is meant to create, a level playing field where everyone may speak. Suspecting they cannot compete as equals, they demand a quiet audience for their views. Their goal is to turn a debate into a lecture and their opponents into students. They cannot imagine a world where people treat each other as equals.

Related: The Terrible Sea Lion: Persistent Politeness is Loved by Friends and Feared by Foes

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Definitions of and for identitarians, neoliberals, and social justice warriors

Neoliberalism: Contemporary capitalism that promotes privatization and deregulation. Replaced Keynesian/New Deal liberalism in the late 20th century. Prominent neoliberals include Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Justin Trudeau, and Emmanuel Macron. Extreme neoliberalism practiced by people like Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and the Presidents Bush is also known as neoconservatism.

Socialism: The belief that our economic class—whether we can live off income from what we own or must work to survive—matters most, and therefore wealth must be shared. Socialism can be democratic or authoritarian. Though socialists prioritize class, the history of the struggle for equal rights for women and people of color is filled with socialists, from Charles Fourier who gave feminism its name to Martin Luther King, a democratic socialist.

Identitarianism: The belief that our social identities—race, gender, nationality, religion, and so on—matter most. Right-identitarians believe people of certain identities are superior. Left-identitarians believe people of all identities should be equally represented from the top to the bottom of society.

Right-identitarianism is ancient. The belief that men are superior to women is, as Marx and Engels noted, as old as the class system, and the idea that white people are superior dates back to the invention of race and “white people” in the 17th century.

Left-identitarianism is much younger. After the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Ivy League academics like Derrick Bell, father of Critical Race Theory, rejected the anti-capitalism of thinkers like King and Malcolm X. Where socialists saw sexism and racism as tools of the rich to divide workers, liberal reformers saw unique forms of prejudice and oppression that could be addressed in isolation. This reductionist approach sometimes put feminists and anti-racists at odds. To resolve this tension, one of Bell’s students, Kimberlé Crenshaw, developed the theory of intersectionality.

Intersectionality: Originally, the belief that race and gender are independent forms of oppression that sometimes intersect, creating unique hardships for people like women of color who are doubly oppressed. Left identitarians have added class to their analysis, but it fits awkwardly: people with social identities want respect for their identities, but poor people want an end to their economic class.

Social justice: Originally, the belief that the rich should treat the poor with respect and kindness. First developed by Catholic priests in the early 1840s as an alternative to the growing movements for democracy and socialism that resulted in the revolutions of 1848, social justice remained a religious concept for over one hundred years—the famously anti-semitic Father Coughlin published a magazine called Social Justice, and during the civil rights era, people like King and Malcolm X did not use the term.

In the 1980s, the name was appropriated by left identitarians to describe their concern for social rather than economic justice.

Social justice worker: Someone who works in the world to help the poor. Social justice workers like Dorothy Day and Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara treated everyone with love and respect. Their tactics include civil disobedience and peaceful protest.

Social justice warrior: Someone who rages online about social identity. Social justice warriors reject civility and “tone policing”, and treat their targets with contempt. Their tactics include censorship, doxxing, blacklisting, and death threats. For an early example of SJWs doxxing and terrorizing a woman in the science fiction community, see The Outing of Zathlazip.

Possibly of interest

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems by George Monbiot.

Monday, May 28, 2018

WisCon: literally no longer a literary convention

The latest kerfuffle: a panelist was banned from the current convention and may be banned from future ones. Her sin? Suggesting that Confederates and Nazis should be treated as human beings in fiction.

No one’s ever made a clear distinction between fiction and literature, but a traditional one is that literature deals with nuance: in a literary work, there may be good guys and bad guys, but they exist on a spectrum and their motivations come from complex histories. A pulp fiction writer doesn’t need subtlety or a knowledge of history or sympathy for people who come from different circumstances: Nazis and Confederates are bad people who may be killed without a second thought as the plot demands. There’s no need to ask why fascism is popular in times of economic desperation or to note that many Confederates were conscripts or deserters. In pulp fiction, Crusader logic applies: kill them all and let God sort them out.

Ah, well. Whether WisCon was ever truly a literary convention is debatable. That it is not one now is not.

More info about the kerfuffle:

Killable Bodies In SF Panel - WisCon

Pixel Scroll 5/27/18 Pixels Scroll Good, Like An E-fanzine Should | File 770

And a flash from WisCon's past:

Doxing Zathlazip

ETA: An Israeli writer speaks up:

Friday, May 25, 2018

Atonement as Activism - The American Interest

Atonement as Activism - The American Interest:
Fifty years ago, a white person learning about the race problem came away asking “How can I help?” Today the same person too often comes away asking, “How can I show that I’m a moral person?” That isn’t what the Civil Rights revolution was about; it is the product of decades of mission creep aided by the emergence of social media. 
What gets lost is that all of this awareness was supposed to be about helping black people, especially poor ones. We are too often distracted from this by a race awareness that has come to be largely about white people seeking grace. For example, one reads often of studies showing that black boys are punished and suspended in school more often than other kids. But then one reads equally often that poverty makes boys, in particular, more likely to be aggressive and have a harder time concentrating. We are taught to assume that the punishments and suspensions are due to racism, and to somehow ignore the data showing that the conditions too many black boys grow up in unfortunately makes them indeed more likely to act up in school. Might the poverty be the key problem to address?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Perhaps the most important part of Patrick J. Deneen's "The Ignoble Lie"

From The Ignoble Lie by Patrick J. Deneen:
The ruling class denies that they really are a self-perpetuating elite that has not only inherited certain advantages but also seeks to pass them on. To mask this fact, they describe themselves as the vanguard of equality, in effect denying the very fact of their elevated status and the deleterious consequences of their perpetuation of a class divide that has left their less fortunate countrymen in a dire and perilous condition. Indeed, one is tempted to conclude that their insistent defense of equality is a way of freeing themselves from any real duties to the lower classes that are increasingly out of geographical sight and mind. Because they repudiate inequality, they need not consciously consider themselves to be a ruling class. Denying that they are deeply self-interested in maintaining their elite position, they easily assume that they believe in common kinship—so long as their position is unthreatened. The part of the “noble lie” that once would have horrified the elites—the claim of common kinship—is irrelevant; instead, they resist the inegalitarian part of the myth that would then, as now, have seemed self-evident to the elites as well as the underclass. Today’s underclass is as likely to recognize its unequal position as Plato’s. It is elites that seem most prone to the condition of “false consciousness.”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Pankaj Mishra reviews ‘We Were Eight Years in Power’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates · LRB 22 February 2018

Conservatives and socialists should like Pankaj Mishra reviews ‘We Were Eight Years in Power’ by Ta-Nehisi Coates for its damning account of the Obama years and its take on Coates' facile analysis of racism. I particularly liked this paragraph:
As early as 1935, W.E.B. Du Bois identified fear and loathing of minorities as a ‘public and psychological wage’ for many whites in American society. More brazenly than his predecessors, Trump linked the misfortunes of the ‘white working class’ to Chinese cheats, Mexican rapists and treacherous blacks. But racism, Du Bois knew, was not just an ugly or deep-rooted prejudice periodically mobilised by opportunistic politicians and defused by social liberalism: it was a widely legitimated way of ordering social and economic life, with skin colour only one way of creating degrading hierarchies. Convinced that the presumption of inequality and discrimination underpinned the making of the modern world, Du Bois placed his American experience of racial subjection in a broad international context. Remarkably, all the major black writers and activists of the Atlantic West, from C.L.R. James to Stuart Hall, followed him in this move from the local to the global. Transcending the parochial idioms of their national cultures, they analysed the way in which the processes of capital accumulation and racial domination had become inseparable early in the history of the modern world; the way race emerged as an ideologically flexible category for defining the dangerously lawless civilisational other – black Africans yesterday, Muslims and Hispanics today. The realisation that economic conditions and religion were as much markers of difference as skin colour made Nina Simone, Mohammed Ali and Malcolm X, among others, connect their own aspirations to decolonisation movements in India, Liberia, Ghana, Vietnam, South Africa and Palestine. Martin Luther King absorbed from Gandhi not only the tactic of non-violent protest but also a comprehensive critique of modern imperialism. ‘The Black revolution,’ he argued, much to the dismay of his white liberal supporters, ‘is much more than a struggle for the rights of Negroes.’

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Panthers Can’t Save Us Now

The Panthers Can’t Save Us Now:
At the heart of contemporary organizing is the notion of black exceptionalism. Contemporary Black Lives Matter activists and supporters insist on the uniqueness of the black predicament and on the need for race-specific remedies. “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise,” #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Alicia Garza explains. “It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity and our resistance in the face of deadly oppression.”1 “When we say black lives matter,” Garza continues, “we are talking about the ways in which Black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. It is an acknowledgement [that] Black poverty and genocide [are] state violence.” This essay takes aim at this notion of black exceptionalism and lays out its origins and limits as an analysis of hyperpolicing and, more generally, as an effective political orientation capable of building the popular power needed to end the policing crisis.

Sexual Victimization by Women Is More Common Than Previously Known - Scientific American

Sexual Victimization by Women Is More Common Than Previously Known - Scientific American