Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dear readers who are disappointed that I'm a universalist and democratic socialist who believes in free speech, civility, and the presumption of innocence

I periodically get angry messages from people who say they loved my novels and hate that I oppose identitarianism, censorship, and mobbing.

Okay, they don't use those words. Here's the most recent example. On Twitter, Chorizo Oh No! (who identifies as "DOTA 2 player, feminist, non-binary habitual ne'er-do-well and raconteur" sent me the following message:
It's really depressing when you find out that someone who made art that carried you through some of the darkest times of your young life is so blinkered that they engage in ridiculous victim-blaming antifeminist rhetoric like you do. It's taken me over a year just to build up to

searching for you on Twitter, at least in part because I was hoping that your views had broadened and developed some the horrific secondhand accounts I read back then. Will, you've actively broken my heart. Kill your heroes, kids - they're all monsters in the end.
I've identified as a feminist since I learned the word in the 1960s, so I don't know what "victim-blaming antifeminist rhetoric" refers to. I suspect it means I criticize rushing to judgment and have often said a better motto than "believe the victim" is "take all charges seriously." I stopped "believing the victim" in the 1980s when the Tawana Brawley rape allegations made it clear that if you accept the folk definition that "feminism is the radical belief that women are people", you have to assume women, like men, sometimes make mistakes or lie.

I suspect the people who thought Elsewhere and Dogland were only about race and gender are like the people who cite Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and miss their criticism of capitalism. Socialists have always been at the front of the struggles for other rights—it's significant that Charles Fourier, who coined the word "feminism", and W.E.B. Du Bois, who first wrote about "white skin privilege", were socialists.

Some of my readers are disappointed by me, but I'm disappointed by them. They dream of a pure class system in which the rulers and the ruled look alike. I dream of a world without masters.

Relevant:
Respect everyone: the wisdom of St. Peter and Malcolm X

Eleanor Marx on socialist feminism and bourgeois feminism


Three men falsely accused after Weinstein's fall: Sam Seder, Matt Taibbi, Mark Ames

In times of moral panic—which often begin with a valid concern—the worst people exploit the panic to attack their opponents, knowing guilt will be assumed by everyone caught up in the panic.

At least three men have been falsely charged. The Destruction of Matt Taibbi focuses on one but provides background for the others. Perhaps the most outrageous fact:
Despite how widespread the story was, not a single journalist or editor contacted the women named in the controversial passages.
Every journalist and editor who shared the story should be fired.

Sam Seder was lucky enough to be exonerated soon after being fired because his accusation was built on fluff*, but had there not been a moral panic, sane people would've looked into the fluff before firing him.

* I wanted to write "obvious fluff", but nothing is obvious to panicking people.

Relevant:

MSNBC Reverses Decision to Fire Contributor Sam Seder

Matt Taibbi - A LETTER TO READERS

About Those Exile Smears… - By Mark Ames

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Woody Allen and Soon Yi Previn: basic facts

Dylan Farrow's Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen? asks a question that implies an answer she does not want to hear. Abusers tend to have more than one victim. When no one else is speaking out now, in a time when victims are being supported, the odds increase that Allen is innocent. Before deciding, read Woody Allen, Sex Abuse Allegations, and Believing the Victim, which includes useful information like this:
While Soon Yi Previn was an adult (her birthdate is unknown but her age was in the range of 18 to 20) and Allen had never acted as her stepfather, even his defenders generally agree that the affair was sordid and grossly inappropriate.
and
...a major Canadian study that tracked more than 11,000 reports of child abuse and neglect in Canada in 2003. While reports of sexual abuse made during custody or visitation conflicts are fairly rare — the study identified 69 such cases — they are also quite likely to prove unfounded. Child protection workers substantiated just 11% of these charges, while 34% were “suspected” to be valid but not fully confirmed; 36% were classified as unsubstantiated but made “in good faith,” and 18% as deliberately false. By contrast, the rate of false allegations for all child sexual abuse reports was 5%. (The claim that malicious accusations in custody disputes come mostly from fathers is based on an earlier phase of the same study. However, fathers’ false reports were overwhelmingly of child neglect and sometimes physical abuse; false charges of sexual molestation were more likely to come from mothers.)
Woody Allen’s relationship with Soon-Yi is creepier than you could imagine includes this quote from Soon-Yi Preven:
 “To think that Woody was in any way a father or stepfather to me is laughable.”
and notes:
Allen and Previn married in 1997 and have two adopted children together.
The adoption process is not easy for anyone. In Allen's case, the charges against him would've resulted in exceptionally close scrutiny.

Does this mean he didn't abuse Dylan Farrow? No. It means we can't know, and sadly, neither can she. One lesson learned from the Day-care sex-abuse hysteria is that young children are susceptible to having their memories manipulated.

But the absence of other accusers strongly suggests that Allen deserves the benefit of the doubt.

As for his relationship with Soon-Yi, I'm a little creeped out by the difference in ages, but she was an adult when the affair began and, so far as anyone knows, continues to be happy. Their relationship isn't for me to judge. Unless you want to change the age of consent, it's not for you to judge either.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

This video about editing the first Star Wars has good points about effective storytelling in all forms



Lucas, like most of us, was at his best when he had to carefully consider the opinions of other people. The first Star Wars would have failed if he hadn't had a smart producer, Alan Ladd Jr., who forced him to go through many drafts of the screenplay, and a smart wife who may deserve a co-writer's credit, Marcia Lucas. As this video points out, he also got solid advice from fellow directors on what to cut.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

What Samantha Geimer says about Roman Polanski and why his haters ignore her

My curse is to see a third side in polarizing issues. The result is getting hated or ignored by people on both sides. I'm saddened to see the same thing happens to Samantha Geimer: the people who claim to be her champions have no interest in what she says, and the worst defenders of Polanski say that because she was sexually active, she must have consented.

She's told her story many times, and the basic story stays the same:

1. She was sexually active.

2. She did not consent.

3. She thinks Polanski's original sentence and time served was sufficient. (For more about that, see The prurient hounding of Roman Polanski is over at last | Agnes Poirier | Opinion | The Guardian)

Here are three tellings of the situation by Geimer; I recommend reading them all.

Roman Polanski sexual abuse case - Wikipedia:
According to Geimer's testimony to the grand jury, Polanski had asked Geimer's mother (a television actress and model) if he could photograph the girl as part of his work for the French edition of Vogue,[13] which Polanski had been invited to guest-edit. Her mother allowed a private photo shoot. Geimer testified that she felt uncomfortable during the first session, in which she posed topless at Polanski's request, and initially did not wish to take part in a second but nevertheless agreed to another shoot. This took place on March 10, 1977, at the home of actor Jack Nicholson in the Mulholland area of Los Angeles. At the time the crime was committed, Nicholson was on a skitrip in Colorado, and his live-in girlfriend Anjelica Huston who was there left, but later returned while Polanski and Geimer were there. Geimer was quoted in a later article as saying that Huston became suspicious of what was going on behind the closed bedroom door and began banging on it, but left when Polanski insisted they were finishing up the photo shoot.[14] "We did photos with me drinking champagne," Geimer says. "Toward the end it got a little scary, and I realized he had other intentions and I knew I was not where I should be. I just didn't quite know how to get myself out of there."[15] In a 2003 interview, she recalled that she began to feel uncomfortable after he asked her to lie down on a bed, and described how she attempted to resist. "I said, 'No, no. I don't want to go in there. No, I don't want to do this. No!', and then I didn't know what else to do," she stated, adding: "We were alone and I didn’t know what else would happen if I made a scene. So I was just scared, and after giving some resistance, I figured well, I guess I’ll get to come home after this".[16]
Roman Polanski’s Rape Victim Urges Court to Drop 40-Year-Old Case – Variety:
“He got arrested. I knew he was sorry the next day,” she said after the hearing. “I was sure he instantly regretted what he had done and wished it hadn’t happened. It just wasn’t as traumatic for me as everyone would like to believe it was. I was a young sexually active teenager and it was a scary thing, but it was not an uncommon thing. I understood much worse things happened to people. So, I was just not as traumatized as everybody thinks I should have been.”
Geimer also resisted the idea that Polanski was a pedophile.
“I was almost 14,” she said. “I wasn’t 10.”
Samantha Geimer, Victim In Roman Polanski Sex Case, Defends Him In Court | Deadline:
Reporters severely questioned whether her defense of Polanski let him off too easily, and might encourage other predators. But she insisted that Polanski had done his time and had since suffered the sort of shaming that was once loaded on her. “I was a drug-doing Lolita who had cornered him,” she said, describing the sort of insults that were thrown at her in the 1970s. “Now, he endures it because everyone is calling him a pedophile, the insults have switched.”
And yet his haters continue to ignore Geimer's wishes and insist he must be punished. How that will help anyone, they do not say. The reason is they're not interested in helping anyone. They want to see someone suffer. And if that means prolonging Geimer's suffering, they're happy to do it.

UPDATE: When I first posted this, I said there were no other accusers. I was wrong. There are: Roman Polanski is now facing a 5th accusation of sexual assault - Vox. I wouldn't have written this as I did if I'd known that—I was remembering research I'd done before anyone else came forward.

I still think Geimer's wishes should be respected, especially in light of the original judge's conduct, but I also believe Polanski's other accusers deserve the right to charge him now.

On Douglas Williams, The Guardian, and the DSA, or Why identitarians hate context

If I wrote like Douglas Williams and so many people online, I would first tell you what to think, then share screen caps or links so you would read them with my interpretation in mind. It's an ancient trick that should have a name and probably does. It's a way of pretending to be objective while promoting your bias.

And I suppose I've already done that by associating Williams with people who do what he does. We're all human. He and I both should be forgiven some missteps when we're trying to make our point and be fair to the other.

He made this public post at Facebook:


Williams' screen cap is from the comments on R. L. Stephens' public post (which I wrote about yesterday in A black man and a white woman fight, or Will identitarianism destroy the DSA?):


From the comments there, some of the context that Williams omits (the reference to "our man" is to Stephens):


Williams entered the discussion much later in the comments:


He ignored that. In his version of Oppression Olympics, women should only be afraid of white men.

I keep being amazed by the selective way identitarians read. But then I remember Adolph Reed Jr.'s observation near the end of The limits of anti-racism:
Yes, racism exists, as a conceptual condensation of practices and ideas that reproduce, or seek to reproduce, hierarchy along lines defined by race. Apostles of antiracism frequently can’t hear this sort of statement, because in their exceedingly simplistic version of the nexus of race and injustice there can be only the Manichean dichotomy of those who admit racism’s existence and those who deny it. There can be only Todd Gitlin (the sociologist and former SDS leader who has become, both fairly and as caricature, the symbol of a “class-first” line) and their own heroic, truth-telling selves, and whoever is not the latter must be the former. Thus the logic of straining to assign guilt by association substitutes for argument.
Short version: Cults gotta cult.

Ah, well. I continue to think third parties don't have a chance in the US's two-party system, so I hope the DSA can succeed. But if I was a capitalist who wanted to guarantee their failure, I'd do all I could to promote their identitarian wing.

This post is long enough, so I'll stop. But if you're curious about left-identitarianism's long history of failure, you might start with Antiracism campaigns: Twenty years of making racism worse.

P.S. I forgot to say anything about the Guardian. I mentioned it because Williams has written for them. Like all major liberal news sources, its writers are far more comfortable writing about identity than class.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A black man and a white woman fight, or Will identitarianism destroy the DSA?

Two people I've admired from a distance are fighting. One's Amber A'Lee Frost who writes for The Baffler; the other's R. L. Stephens, who wrote The Birthmark of Damnation: Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Black Body. In a public post on Facebook yesterday, Stephens wrote:
Someone named Kate Hudson just threatened to punch me when she sees me. This is how some people in DSA get down, and please believe these dynamics are incredibly racialized. 
This organization must not tolerate this type of lynch mob environment. I won’t stand for it and I know I’m not alone in that regard.
And he shared this screen cap:



Now, anyone who can read critically should've seen what Amber A'Lee saw: Hudson is venting. Her words are not meant to be taken seriously. It makes as much sense to insist that she's threatened to punch Stephens as it does to insist that she's threatened to make him eat her ass.

And there's a question anyone reading the screen cap should ask: Why did at least two women think Stephens was "so fucking rude" and in the habit of treating "people he doesn't think are important" with "utter disdain"? In a time when identitarians are insisting we should listen to women, why are these women's complaints being ignored by Stephens and his fans?

Part of the problem is the rules of Oppression Olympics have never been clarified. When a black man and a white woman fight, is the problem racism or sexism? Does the person who first calls dibs on their ism automatically win? Or do you simply do what every identitarian I've ever seen do and declare the person with your politics is right and the other one's the appropriate ist?

I don't know whether Frost or Hudson or their followers are talking about sexism, but Stephens' followers are sure talking about racism. On Twitter, he's continuing to insist there's racism without citing any examples. All that's relevant to him is Hudson's race, which makes me wonder if he's never known an exasperated black woman to make a rhetorical threat of violence.

I hope he takes a few days off-line to reflect. His quick assumption of racism surprised me because of the insightful things he said about Coates. In angry disputes, we often fall back on simplistic reasons for our conflict—it's easier to say our critics are prejudiced against us than it is to apologize for treating them in ways that made them feel denigrated. It's completely possible that Stephens didn't mean to be rude or disdainful, but if so, he should ask for the chance to clarify this. And if he did mean to be rude and disdainful, he should own it and explain why he thought these women deserved to be treated badly.

This conflict makes me worry about the future of the DSA. It tripled in size thanks to Sanders' run, but Sanders' base is an uneasy coalition of universalists and far-left identitarians. Stephens seems to be simultaneously aware of the dangers of left-identitarianism while willing to default to it in anger.

It will be interesting to see how this ends. I'm hoping for a group hug, but I'm not putting money on that.

PS: If you want to see the original post: R.L. Stephens - Someone named Kate Hudson just threatened to punch...:

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Actresses put their tongues in my mouth, a memory inspired by the charge against Al Franken

I was an actor in New York City for a year or so. I was awful, but I was young and, though I didn't really believe it at the time, fairly handsome, so I got a few jobs: a supporting role in an off-off-Broadway play, a bit part in a dreadful horror movie, and a few modeling gigs for romance magazines.

The first time I was directed to kiss an actress--I am deliberately using the more sexist form of the word to stress that I'm speaking of a female actor--I wasn't quite sure what we would do. Obviously, we were actors, so we would act out kissing. But what did that mean? I assumed it would be a mime show in which our mouths made contact but nothing happened between our lips, much like what very young children do when they pretend they are kissing romantically.

The actress's tongue gave me a different answer.

I don't remember if every actress who kissed me used her tongue, because it didn't seem like a big deal after the first time. It was a pleasant part of the job. I know more than one did. I was shy and insecure and strongly believed men should not force themselves upon women, so I never went further than putting my lips to an actress's. What happened next was always up to her.

Now, it may be that these actresses assumed they would use their tongues because the part called for passion, or maybe they thought I was cute and decided to add a bit more realism than they might provide for every actor they kissed. I will not claim that there was an expectation that romantic kisses would involve tongues. I will only say I stopped being surprised when actresses used theirs.

I don't know if Franken's accuser is accurately telling what happened. Maybe he was an opportunistic lech. I can say fairly objectively that I was handsomer than he, and my shy friendliness probably made me seem about as safe to kiss as any male actor could be. An actress who used her tongue with me might very well have chosen not to use her tongue with him.

But I do not doubt there were actresses who initiated tongue contact with him. He was funny and influential, and no one who didn't already dislike him would call him repulsive. That he remembers the kiss with his accuser differently than she does would not surprise me, even if he initiated the use of the tongue.

I'm not fond of the "times were different then" excuse for bad behavior because men forcing themselves on women has been considered bad behavior for thousands of years. But I'm now curious about whether the kisses I got were the exception or the rule for actors in the 1970s, and what's expected in a staged kiss today.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Two reasons critics of "social justice warriors" should not refer to "cultural Marxism"

1. To people who have studied the origins of the identitarian left, you'll sound ignorant.

2. To people who have studied the origins of "cultural Marxism", you'll sound like a Nazi.

Most left-identitarians are liberals, not socialists, because identitarianism does not fit in Marx's universalist framework. The primary founders of left identitarianism, Derrick Bell of Critical Race Theory fame and Kimberle Crenshaw, coiner of "intersectionality", have no links to Marxism or socialism. They were products of the Ivy League who never criticized the class system that benefited them. Their concerns were limited to racism and sexism. Unlike socialists like King and Malcolm X, Bell and Crenshaw wanted to tweak capitalism, not overthrow it.

"Cultural Marxism" is a translation of the Nazi term, Kulturbolschewismus, which literally means "cultural Bolshevism". After the fall of the USSR, fascists began speaking of "cultural Marxism" because the Bolsheviks no longer existed and "Marxism" was shorter to say and write.

So, if you're a Nazi, keep speaking of "cultural Marxism". Your fellow Nazis will recognize you.

But if you're not a Nazi, look more critically at the people who taught you the phrase. They may be right about the problems with left-identitarians and wrong about everything else.

Related:

The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, Where Racism and Anti-Racism Intersect

On black racism, and Adolph Reed Jr.'s comment about Derrick Bell, father of Critical Race Theory

The Socialism of Fools, Part 1: Antisemitism and Malcolm X, Derrick Bell, and Louis Farrakhan

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Three reasons "white supremacy" does not explain Trump's appeal

1. Approximately eight million Obama voters voted for Trump. Did they suddenly become racist?

2. 13 percent of African American men voted for Donald Trump. Did they suddenly become self-hating?

3. Noted at You Are Still Crying Wolf | Slate Star Codex:
Trump made gains among blacks. He made gains among Latinos. He made gains among Asians. The only major racial group where he didn’t get a gain of greater than 5% was white people. I want to repeat that: the group where Trump’s message resonated least over what we would predict from a generic Republican was the white population.
Did the idea of white supremacy suddenly appeal to those black Trump voters?

If the answers to those questions are no, what else explains his appeal?

For some black working-class men, like Melendez, Trump’s economic rhetoric resonated more than his racial rhetoric. In short, like their white working-class counterparts, they saw in Trump the man who would bring back their jobs and their dignity.
Just 29 percent of white, no-college Obama-Trump voters approved of Mr. Obama’s performance, and 69 percent disapproved. Similarly, 75 percent said they would repeal the Affordable Care Act. Only 15 percent believed the economy had improved over the last year, and just 23 percent said their income had increased over the last four years.
Bill Clinton's political advice always applies in capitalist countries: "It's the economy, stupid."

ETA: It’s time to bust the myth: Most Trump voters were not working class. - The Washington Post:
...when we looked at the NBC polling data, we noticed something the pundits left out: during the primaries, about 70 percent of all Republicans didn’t have college degrees, close to the national average (71 percent according to the 2013 Census). Far from being a magnet for the less educated, Trump seemed to have about as many people without college degrees in his camp as we would expect any successful Republican candidate to have.
ETA: How Despair Helped Drive Trump to Victory:
Economic, social and health decline in the industrial Midwest may have been a major factor in the 2016 US presidential election, Monnat and Brown’s INET research finds, with people living in distressed areas swinging behind Trump in greater numbers. Trump performed well within these landscapes of despair – places that have borne the brunt of declines in manufacturing, mining, and related industries since the 1970s and are now struggling with opioids, disability, poor health, and family problems.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

If people should earn their money, why do we let the rich give their children money?

This question is especially nagging at me today because it's official: The Richest 1% Now Own More Than 50% of the World’s Wealth | Fortune.

On Facebook, when I asked a similar question, someone said it's not about the children; it's about the right of people to do what they please with their money.

But that doesn't answer the question. Either we all deserve to inherit or none of us do. The wishes of the people who own the wealth are no more relevant than the wishes of the people who owned slaves.

The palmed card in the "right of the owners of wealth" argument is most of us are trapped in the economic circumstances we're born into. Remember the chart I shared in my previous post:
So if you make that argument, why did the people who have the wealth deserve to be given money?

I'm with Jesus and the Jewish prophets: the poor should inherit the earth.
...the poor will inherit the earth,
will delight in great prosperity.
—Psalm 37:11 (New American Bible, Revised Edition)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

This chart shows the flaw in John Scalzi's "lowest difficulty setting" in the US's game of life

Scalzi said something identitarians still cite, that in the game of life, "straight white male" is the "lowest difficulty setting". That's something you can only believe if you ignore class. Serious capitalists have to know the facts, which is why This chart shows that your parents’ income determines your future - MarketWatch is from a business site:


The apparent privilege of women is they are more likely to "marry up" while men "marry down".

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Why I'm an agnostic

In second grade, I understood why God approved of Samson burning the fields of the Philistines, but I couldn't understand why he approved of Samson doing that by setting fire to the tails of foxes. That was just mean.

Florida's schools were segregated in the early '60s, and Bible-reading was mandatory at the start of the day. I spoke up against both—think of me as the chibi version of the Klansman's favorite opponent, a godless commie niggerlover. By the end of the decade, the movements for civil rights and the First Amendment had been won in public schools: the Bible was out, black people were in. As I came into my teens, my side of my generation was famously focusing on sex, drugs, and rock and roll. People like lists of three, so the fourth usually gets left out: we were also trying alternatives to conventional Christianity and Judaism. I studied Theravada Buddhism and tried meditation and was fascinated by gnosticism and desperately wanted to know the answer to the great question, what's it all about?

Sometime in my teens, I learned about agnosticism. While I knew then that both theists and atheists included people who had doubts, agnosticism seemed the best description of what I was: I didn't know the truth, I was open to learning more, and since religion was no longer imposed by the government and public schools, I was concerned with other struggles.

I began seeing something that atheists mention while missing its full implication: if religious beliefs have little to do with whether we're good or bad, that applies to theists too. Their belief does not make them behave badly; their mistaken beliefs about goodness do. If that was not so, there would be no good people in any major religion, yet there are good people in all of them.

Lately, I've been thinking about something else: Only 3% of the US identifies as atheists and 4% identifies as agnostics. No one will make a better world without the help of the other 93%.

And I've been wondering about this: Why is the economic class I oppose the class that is most receptive to atheism?

It comes to this:

1. I don't feel obliged to take a side on something that can't be known.

2. I don't feel obliged to convert people to what I believe. If your understanding of the universe pleases you and you don't force it on others, I'm happy you found something that comforts you.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Occam's Razor vs. the Believer's Hammer


Perhaps because there isn't a single definition of Occam's Razor—a term Occam never used for an idea that may be older than Aristotle—the term gets misused. The principle doesn't imply that the simplest solution is right. It says the simplest solution should be chosen first and tested, and if it proves to be wrong, choose the next simplest and test that. The Razor lets you sort through ideas quickly until you find the one that's right—or that's too complicated for you to see why it's wrong. Either way, the Razor is the fastest way to eliminate false possibilities.

Several principles have been proposed for the opposite of Occam's Razor, but they don't describe what I'm interested in, so here's mine:

The Believer's Hammer takes a simple solution and smashes anything that doesn't fit.

The easiest example comes from religion: Literalist Christians add up the Bible's years between Jesus and Adam and conclude God made the universe about six thousand years ago. Dinosaurs and carbon dating don't support their timeline, so the Hammer comes down: Dinosaurs died in Noah's flood, or God put dinosaur fossils in the Earth to fool nonbelievers, and carbon dating is a lie.

Secular beliefs rely on the Hammer too. Racists, sexists, and flat-earthers hammer away objections to their beliefs about race and sex and the shape of the earth. The Hammer simultaneously prevents testing of a belief while making its users think they're being critical as they swing their favorite tool.

We all start as hammer users; the luckiest of us learn to shave. My favorite examples are W.E.B. DuBois and Malcolm X, two men who looked at racism in America and saw skin privilege, then took up the Razor and saw capitalism underlying it. Had they been content with the Hammer, they never would've said things like these:

"...back of the problem of race and color, lies a greater problem which both obscures and implements it: and that is the fact that so many civilized persons are willing to live in comfort even if the price of this is poverty, ignorance, and disease of the majority of their fellowmen; that to maintain this privilege men have waged war until today war tends to become universal and continuous..." —W.E.B. DuBois, preface to The Souls of Black Folk, Jubilee Edition (1953, 50th Anniversary)

"I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation. I believe that there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think that it will be based upon the color of the skin." —Malcolm X

P.S. Another opposite principle for Occam's Razor: Procrustes' Bed. If it doesn't fit, rack it or hack it until it does.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

The whiteness of Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein's sex scandal is inspiring a lot of identitarians to comment about white men. So far as I know, none of the "Jews are not white" crowd has tried to correct them.

I suspect this is because:

1. Race is often code for class in the US. When some speakers talk about black people, they mean poor people, and when talking about white people, they mean rich people. (The blog Stuff White People Like is mostly about stuff that richer people of all races like.)

2. Identitarians confuse "white privilege" with capitalism, so whiteness equals privilege, entitlement, and abuse of the less powerful.

3. Identitarians have an inconsistent approach to identity. With poor groups, anything good is attributed to race while anything bad (like crime statistics) is attributed to class. But with richer groups, talking about class would suggest Jewish Americans, Hindu Americans, and Asian Americans are more privileged than white Christian Americans. So the "Jews are not white" crowd avoids that with another approach: Jews are white when, like Weinstein, they do something bad.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Sexually abusive men and class: Harvey Weinstein vs Clarence Thomas

Meryl Streep is quoted in “Appalled” By Harvey Weinstein News | Deadline:
The disgraceful news about Harvey Weinstein has appalled those of us whose work he championed, and those whose good and worthy causes he supported. The intrepid women who raised their voices to expose this abuse are our heroes. 
One thing can be clarified. Not everybody knew. Harvey supported the work fiercely, was exasperating but respectful with me in our working relationship, and with many others with whom he worked professionally. I didn’t know about these other offenses: I did not know about his financial settlements with actresses and colleagues; I did not know about his having meetings in his hotel room, his bathroom, or other inappropriate, coercive acts. And If everybody knew, I don’t believe that all the investigative reporters in the entertainment and the hard news media would have neglected for decades to write about it. 
The behavior is inexcusable, but the abuse of power familiar. Each brave voice that is raised, heard and credited by our watchdog media will ultimately change the game.
Weinstein appears to have taken one traditional approach to sexual abuse: he targeted women he saw as subordinates.

During the Clarence Thomas hearings, several of his subordinates defended him, saying he'd always treated them respectfully. If Anita Hill testified honestly (which I mention only because her story has not been verified—I find it perfectly plausible), Thomas took the second approach to sexual abuse with her; she was his professional equal, so he saw her as someone to belittle.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Why socialists should support Basic Income

Socialists should support Basic Income for the same reason we should support universal health care: though it has nothing to do with socialism, it reduces desperation.

Why would socialists oppose Basic Income? Because it shares income rather than wealth, which reduces the economic gap without threatening capitalism. Worse, Basic Income may slow down the march for socialism by ending economic desperation, making people less wiling to work to overthrow capitalism.

We can live with that. When economic desperation ends, people can make decisions calmly. So long as the gap between the rich and the rest of us stays wide, humans will ask why. The best people will always demand something better. Our species resents inequality--that's why the rich work so hard to rationalize a system that they know is unjust.

Basic Income helps the working class. That's enough reason for socialists to support it.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Beat up old women and get paid? On terfs and trans folk in a time of nazi-punching

You would think people could agree that it's wrong to hit old women for saying things you don't like. You would be wrong—it's now so acceptable that you can make hundreds of pounds doing it. Before Tara Flik Woods announced that she was going to go beat up some people at Speakers' Corner in Hyde Park who, she said, were as bad as "fash" (fascists), her gofundme was at five pounds ($6.76 US). After punching a 60-year-old woman, her gofundme is, at the time I write this, at 615 pounds ($831.36 US).

I doubt there are any purely objective accounts of what happened, but the honest ones include videos so you can judge what happened and ignore the writer's politics if you please. So you could check the story at sites like these:

WATCH: Trans Activist Men Attack, Beat Dissenting 60-Year-Old Woman | Daily Wire

Timeline of Trans Activists Beating a Woman in Hyde Park | GenderTrender

A radical feminist reddit has a linkfest: Trans activists attack 60 year old feminist woman in Speaker's Corner, London.

I sympathize with people on both sides of the war between radical feminists and radical transwomen. So long as we don't hurt anyone, we should all be free to live as we please, but this is not always true for cis or trans women. Radical feminists want to focus on cis women's issues. Radical trans women want to focus on trans women's issues. They are related struggles—all struggles in a world controlled by capitalists are related—but they're not identical. Some conflict was inevitable.

What wasn't inevitable was trying to smash an old woman's camera and punching her.

All my life, I've supported people who want to live on their terms without harming anyone. If you're oppressed, I'm your ally in the original sense of the word—I may not agree with your understanding of power, but I will support you.

All my life, I've supported underdogs. If you're weaker or smaller or outnumbered and all you want to do is talk, I will support your right to speak no matter how much I wish you would shut up.

So when I have to decide between underdogs, I ask who's trying to silence who. If the answer's clear, those who are being silenced get my support to speak.

Nazi-punchers, there's a reason police provocateurs are paid to do what you do. If you truly care about making a better world, start with better tactics.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

3 reasons "white privilege" is not like being tall when reaching for tuna on the top shelf

This compares "white privilege" to being tall: Omar Ismail's answer to I am white. That's all you know about me. Am I privileged based on that alone and assuming I am, should I feel guilt and what should I do about it? - Quora

I left three comments there:

This is a perfect example of the way privilege theory ignores class. By making everything about height, it erases the people who own ladders.

And it hides the few people who stand on the backs of most people, whether they're tall or short.

As for comparing height to the ability to get a can of tuna from the top shelf, an even larger erasure is in effect: we’re all squabbling over a can of tuna and failing to ask why the store isn’t a co-op.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Understanding the Internet 101: Kill All Normies


Someday I may make a list of books that should be required reading for understanding the internet. Most of the serious contenders are about human interaction; Judy Blume's Blubber and Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciating Correct Behavior are almost sure to make the final cut. The only one that's explicitly about the internet is Angela Nagle's Kill All Normies, a fine brief look at the alt-right and the alt-light.

The book is controversial because, like any good book about a conflict, it discusses both sides. In this case, the other side is the identitarian left, and Nagle's observations are too accurate for left-identitarians to forgive.

Her book was published a few months before Charlottesville. She's written a short follow-up, Goodbye, Pepe, that should be the final chapter of Kill All Normies' next edition. Whether the alt-right survives the repercussions of killing Heather Heyer or mutates into something new, Nagle has written the book that anyone who wants to understand the last few year's of online warfare should read.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Gender didn't exist before 1955. It was briefly useful. We can get rid of it now.

I was born the year that gender was invented. I didn't notice it until I was in my teens, when it came up in my reading about feminism. I thought at first that "gender" was only a politer word than "sex", but I slowly learned what everyone learns who studies this: gender is about sex roles, which were very limited in the 1950s and were only beginning to open up in the '60s. As a way to analyze the roles of the sexes, "gender" was useful for several decades.

But now we live in a time when people invent their own genders. It's fun defining how we're different from others, but it's not particularly useful. The simplest solution is to say we're done with gender and go back to the division that's relevant for science and medicine, sex.

If you doubt that gender is a recent concept, start your research with this bit from Gender - Wikipedia:
Sexologist John Money introduced the terminological distinction between biological sex and gender as a role in 1955. Before his work, it was uncommon to use the word gender to refer to anything but grammatical categories. However, Money's meaning of the word did not become widespread until the 1970s, when feminist theory embraced the concept of a distinction between biological sex and the social construct of gender. Today the distinction is strictly followed in some contexts, especially the social sciences and documents written by the World Health Organization (WHO).
ETA: This generation will have an infinite number of genders. The next will have none. 

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Three quotes about the fascist hatred of free speech, especially for Antifa

"Freedom of speech is always under attack by Fascist mentality, which exists in all parts of the world, unfortunately." -Lawrence Ferlinghetti

"Fascist movements kill off their critics, literally or metaphorically, while democratic movements value, invite and even welcome criticism." -Parker Palmer

"In a fascist shift, reporters start to face more and more harassment, and they have to be more and more courageous simply in order to do their jobs." -Naomi Wolf

Bonus:

"We’ve eliminated that conception of political freedom which holds that everybody has the right to say whatever comes into his head.” -Adolf Hitler

On the Nazi opposition to free speech: Nazi Propaganda and Censorship

More Hitler quotes about free speech and the free press: Trump's crusade against the media is a chilling echo of Hitler's rise - Las Vegas Sun Newspaper

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Hypocrisy of Privilege Theory

The intersectionality crowd is a cult, and cults are more concerned about having people adopt their beliefs than they are about changing the world. The reason for that is cultists think the only way to change the world is to get everyone to adopt their beliefs. Then something will happen to change the world, but they never say what.

The protesters who changed this country could tell you their goals:

Give all men the vote.

Give women the vote.

Give us an 8-hour work day.

End legal segregation.

End the Vietnam War.

Today, socialists can tell you their goal: share the wealth.

Ethical capitalists can also tell you their goal: share enough of the wealth to end poverty with Basic Income.

Yet when those of us who prioritize class talk about class-based solutions, the intersectionalists say, "How will that end racism and sexism?" When you ask them what they would do to end racism or sexism, some of them will roll their eyes in exasperation because they believe you just don't get it in the same way that a Christian knows sinners just don't get it. The rest of them realize they have to be able to offer something that sounds like a solution, so they will suggest a vague idea like reparations. When you ask them how to implement something like that today and why other poor people shouldn't be helped also, those intersectionalists will then give you the eye roll. The point is not having a solution. The point is believing a solution will come someday, so these economically privileged believers in privilege theory can enjoy their own economic privilege today.

They are like Robert E. Lee, who knew slavery was wrong and believed it should and would end someday, but had no interest in ending it in his time. The belief that slavery was wrong comforted him. It told him he was a good person in an unjust system because he knew the system was unjust, and he knew the ways he benefited from it were wrong, and knowing this was all he needed to do to sleep well while others suffered.

Here ends the sermon. Happy Labor Day!

ETA: Intersectionalists often suggest that people who prioritize class are class reductionists. I love this response to them:

"If any class-reductionist leftists actually exist they would still be 100 times more helpful to black people than neoliberals." —Leslie Lee III

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Four reasons Antifa needs to reject black bloc tactics and embrace nonviolent resistance

1. Violence changes the subject to violence. The greatest strength of non-violent resistance is it keeps the focus on the protesters' message. See:

An interview with Al Letson, who intervened in the Berkeley antifa beating | Salon

Antifa Broke My Camera | New Republic

Masked anarchists disrupt peaceful Berkeley protest, attack pro-Trump demonstrators | Slate

Berkeley: Professor used bike lock in beatings, police say. Alleged Antifa bike lock attacker Eric Clanton held in Berkeley jail

2. Leftist violence helps the right. Just as Hitler exploited the violence of the 1930s Antifa to sell himself as the candidate who could bring peace to Germany, the alt-right's strategy is to get Antifa to attack first so the left looks bad. See:

The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump | The New Yorker

Noam Chomsky: Antifa is a 'major gift to the Right'

In chat rooms, Unite the Right organizers planned to obscure their racism | Reveal:
This desire to provoke counterprotesters into throwing the first punch was a theme throughout the chats – and has continued since then as well. In a post about a June event in Charlottesville, lead Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler urged people to “help bait antifa into attacking the Proud Boys,” a group that’s been called the “alt-right Fight Club.”
3. Masks make protesters look like criminals or terrorists. I first saw the black bloc in action in the 1990s. People who had come for a peaceful protest moved away from them—we know strangers in masks are rarely our friends.

4. Masks help police spies and provocateurs blend in with the crowd. No one knows how often black bloc violence is committed by provocateurs, but we know it has happened:



Earlier:

Five things about Antifa and non-violent reisistence

Antifa vs speech: the right to discuss and the LD50 gallery

On Antifa and my 20-year-old revulsion with black bloc tactics

The killing in Charlottesville obscured the magnitude of the alt-right's failure

Rosa Luxemburg knew "the free battle of opinions" is essential to socialism

Related:

Elizabeth Gurley Brown: The IWW and the Fight for Free Speech

Friday, September 1, 2017

Five things about Antifa and non-violent reisistence

In a private Facebook group, I said:

1. Antifa is not endorsing self-defense as people like Malcolm X understood it. Antifa is endorsing attacking people who speak in support of things they oppose.

2. Social media is where public discussions occur, for better or worse, and when people are seeking public attention as Antifa does, public discussion is inevitable. Did Germany's first critics of violence avoid public discussion?

3. Antifa can put far more people into the field than the alt-right can. If the alt-right matters, Antifa matters too.

As for the simplicity of the discussion, the people who criticize Antifa are willing to criticize it both as a strategy and a goal.

4. The idea that King and Gandhi were privileged is curious, and I'd be hard-pressed to call Thoreau privileged. Ultimately "privilege" is irrelevant here. What matters is which history should be followed, that of the successful campaigns of King and Gandhi or the failed campaigns of 1930s Antifa.

5. If you have friends on the other side of a debate, saying they support an absurd position is not friendly. Consider that King thought nonviolent resistance was the best way to fight white supremacy, and remember that we are no longer a legally apartheid state because of those practitioners of nonviolent resistance.

Bonus: The US alt-right hopes to recreate Hitler's playbook by making the left look dangerous in order to win support for themselves. From In chat rooms, Unite the Right organizers planned to obscure their racism | Reveal:
This desire to provoke counterprotesters into throwing the first punch was a theme throughout the chats – and has continued since then as well. In a post about a June event in Charlottesville, lead Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler urged people to “help bait antifa into attacking the Proud Boys,” a group that’s been called the “alt-right Fight Club.”

That was clearly the intent of last weekend’s right-wing protests in the San Francisco Bay Area, where organizers disavowed white supremacy, but reveled in inciting confrontations that would make their opponents appear violent and unhinged.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Rosa Luxemburg knew "the free battle of opinions" is essential to socialism

"Without general elections, without freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, without the free battle of opinions, life in every public institution withers away, becomes a caricature of itself, and bureaucracy rises as the only deciding factor." —Rosa Luxemburg

I share this today because the poor guy who was attacked by Antifa for holding a sign saying "The Right to Openly Discuss Ideas Must be Defended" would've really put Antifa on the spot if his sign had said "The free battle of opinions must be defended. Rosa Luxemburg was right."

"Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters." —Rosa Luxemburg

Antifa vs speech: the right to discuss and the LD50 gallery

I'm posting the following things by people I know little about and may disagree with on everything other than the content of the guy's sign: "The Right to Openly Discuss Ideas Must be Defended."

I don't care what he believes. He should be able to stand on the street with his sign. It is only a threat to those who want to silence anyone who disagrees with them.

From NO PLATFORM FOR ARISTOTLE – dcm – Medium:
I was in Copenhagen for work one day earlier, and decided to attend alone, and make a counter-protest, in support of freedom to discuss ideas, and against intimidation. I made a sign saying “The Right to Openly Discuss Ideas Must be Defended” (the reverse side said “Stand-up to Violence and Intimidation”) and came in the morning and stood against the gallery wall. I’d only been there for a moment when a crowd started to form. Almost immediately, I was surrounded by a group of people screaming Nazi at me — “Nazi”, “white supremacist”, “fascist”, etc. I said I was Jewish, and also an anti-fascist, and I believed in discussion. The crowd jeered. It wasn’t unexpected. I stood my ground until a guy appeared — Garry McFarlane, a Black Lives Matter leader, and ripped it from my hands, symbolically. Led by him, the crowd pushed me away. “Don’t worry, I got the whole thing on video,” I heard a voice next to me say, and she disappeared. You can see her video here. Later, I noticed Andrew Osborne in a military jacket standing near the back.

At the demonstration journalists had asked me for my name, and I’d supplied it, on the basis that I wanted to stand-up for something, as an individual, in my own name. In retrospect, that wasn’t a smart move. When I logged back on the internet, I was an hero. There were dozens of hits on my Facebook pages, and Andrew Osborne was retweeting an Antifa account called FashXKilla threatening to punch me in the face.


The woman who took the video was then targeted:



ETA: Socialist quotes for free speech

Sunday, August 27, 2017

On Antifa and my 20-year-old revulsion with black bloc tactics

For people who are new to discussions about Antifa and black bloc tactics: Antifa is short for anti-fascist. It does not refer to a formal group like the Weathermen or Students for a Democratic Society. It refers to groups who share the same ideology. "Black bloc" is also not a group: it refers to dressing up in black and wearing masks to make it harder to be accountable for illegal actions ranging from vandalism to assault and battery.

This is the bulk of a comment that I left at Being mean online: a few observations | Cautiously pessimistic:
As for the description of the black bloc in “Oakland’s Third Attempt at a General Strike”, it’s consistent with the first time I observed black bloc tactics. In the 1990s at a protest against Iraq sanctions that was supposed to be peaceful, their violence sent adults with children fleeing and ended the protest early. Which must have pleased the police.

Hieronymous’s account tells how the black bloc hindered rather than helped:

“The masked-up black bloc opted for breaking a few windows and spraying some graffiti instead of something in solidarity with the workers inside the store.”

“…we did see some of the destruction at the Wells Fargo Bank at 12th and Broadway, where a circus of moral indignation was no longer directed at the banks, but was directed at the black blockers instead.”

“The tactics of the black bloc quickly hit a practical dead-end and brought on the same pointless violence vs. non-violence debates that are just as divisive today as they were in 1967…”

“Without a strategy, the black bloc becomes a form devoid of a theoretical basis in the content of what is being struggled for, which can be summed up as a form of violent activism. It is clearly not class struggle…”

“…black bloc activists think it possible to smash a social relationship away by mere might…”

“The insurrectionists in the black bloc want to create an orgy of destruction, believing that social relations can be simply removed through negating their forms, by smashing them, totally oblivious to the content of capitalism – both in theory and in practice – as well as the possibility of finding working class allies in the stores they are smashing. Those low-income hyper-exploited wage slaves often hate work as much as — or more than — the black blockers.”

And Gerard had this comment:

“The smashing of windows of course led to lots of arguments. I took turns defending the black blockers and criticizing them, just to try to get conversations going. My own criticism is based on tactics. I couldn’t see any long-term good coming out of the destruction, no matter how much I may hate banks or supermarkets. The young people in black were well organized but it seemed like theatrics more than anything else, and not the kind most working-class people are attracted to. People were working in those banks. I was a lot like the young people in black once, so I sympathized, but, as the saying goes: “I wish I knew then what I know now.””
A reminder that police provocateurs love how easy it is to infiltrate groups that wear masks:

Quebec police admit they went undercover at Montebello protest - Canada - CBC News



Related:

Boots Riley on black bloc tactics.

Free speech, not street violence, ended Milo Yiannopoulos's career. (Yes, my title underestimated Milo, but my point doesn't change: black bloc tactics just gave him free publicity. What hurt him were revelations about his past.)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

The killing in Charlottesville obscured the magnitude of the alt-right's failure

At the end of July, the Southern Poverty Law Center posted this in Neo-Nazi Misfits Join Unite the Right | Southern Poverty Law Center:
Over the weekend, the country’s largest neo-Nazi group announced plans to attend an alt-right rally next month in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is expected to draw thousands of extremists.
The actual turnout? The best estimates I've seen were around 500.* The killing of Heather Heyer overshadowed the truth: Charlottesville was supposed to be a show of strength. It was instead a show of political irrelevance. My suspicion is the leaders of the alt-right were grateful for the counter-protesters who gave them an excuse to cancel their own protests. They knew the numbers that would show up on their side would be tiny.

I congratulate the peaceful counter-protesters who came out in the thousands and tens of thousands to show how very insignificant the alt-right is. It's a shame a few on the left used this an excuse to engage in violence instead.

* The estimates I've seen range from 300 to 700. Based on the videos, the lower numbers look more plausible than the higher ones.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

An unnecessary, incomplete, and probably inept defense of Adolph Reed

The identitarian left has ignored Adolph Reed since 2009 because they believe "lived experience" trumps all and no one can deny that Reed has lived his life as a black man. So they said nothing about him and hoped he would go away.

Inconveniently, he didn't.

So now they're attacking him. In the facile White Marxism: A Critique of Jacobin Magazine, Uday Jain offers examples of the people he tries to damn with the silly concept of "white Marxism": Vivek Chibber, Walter Benn Michaels, Nivedita Majumdar, and Adolph Reed. Of the four, the only one who could be called white is a Jew. Jain relies on the same tactic that neoliberals use to attack fans of Bernie Sanders: Pretend they're all white men and trust their readers will never notice the truth.

Mark Harman's Identity crisis: Leftist anti-wokeness is bullshit is a smarter attack that focuses on Reed. It's long and mistaken, so if you'd rather not read it, here are a few comments I left there that may be useful out of context:
I give you credit for addressing Reed, but your ideological filter is keeping you from seeing many things. Here's a hasty response:

1. When Reed says, "I’m increasingly convinced that a likely reason is that the race line is itself a class line..." he's pointing to a truth: The class system provides a structure for racism. In the US today, we do not have a racial system that's separate from the class system as existed during Jim Crow or in apartheid South Africa. Instead, racism affects Americans within the class system like an extra weight that some members must bear.

2. The Black Panthers were working in the black community, but they rejected identity politics while fighting racism, just as Malcolm X did after he left the Nation of Islam. For example:

“Working class people of all colors must unite against the exploitative, oppressive ruling class. Let me emphasize again — we believe our fight is a class struggle, not a race struggle.” — Bobby Seale, co-founder Black Panther Party

And here's the Hampton quote with the parts that don't fit your thesis:

“We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.” —Fred Hampton

3. You say, "Reed has also dismissed “intersectionality” specifically, reducing it to merely campus activism and simply an extension of neo-liberal identity politics, ignoring that it emerged as the work of black feminists addressing specifically the failures of struggles in the ‘60s."

"Intersectionality" was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw who, like her mentor Derrick Bell, was trying to address a social problem while rejecting the anti-capitalism of people like King and Malcolm X. She is a bourgeois black feminist who has not said anything in support of socialism that I've been able to find. Why any socialist would think the concepts of the bourgeoisie are good when they come from its black members, I have not a clue, and yet some do.

You might ask yourself why neoliberals love Crenshaw's approach. David Harvey has the answer in his book on neoliberalism:

"Neoliberal rhetoric, with its foundational emphasis upon individual freedoms, has the power to split off libertarianism, identity politics, multi-culturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power. It has long proved extremely difficult within the US left, for example, to forge the collective discipline required for political action to achieve social justice without offending the desire of political actors for individual freedom and for full recognition and expression of particular identities. Neoliberalism did not create these distinctions, but it could easily exploit, if not foment, them." —David Harvey
One commenter mentioned Mark Fisher, so I added:
Something from Mark Fisher's "Exiting the Vampire Castle" since it was mentioned:

"I’ve noticed a fascinating magical inversion projection-disavowal mechanism whereby the sheer mention of class is now automatically treated as if that means one is trying to downgrade the importance of race and gender. In fact, the exact opposite is the case, as the Vampires’ Castle uses an ultimately liberal understanding of race and gender to obfuscate class."
A commenter called Khawaga insisted my comments about Crenshaw were only ad hominem and noted Marx had a middle-class background, so I said,
The difference is Marx was rejecting his class; Crenshaw was embracing hers.

The brilliance of "intersectionality" is it is effectively disconnectionality: instead of seeing the world in terms of interrelated forms of oppression, it makes each form unique and says they only intersect sometimes. It takes racism in particular from its historical roots in slavery and turns it into a psychological flaw. The result is an ideology that lets the bourgeoisie continue to divide us by race and gender.
A commenter called radicalgraffiti provided a quote from Crenshaw that had a token mention of class. I answered,
http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2014/04/kimberl-crenshaw-intersectionality-i-wanted-come-everyday-metaphor-anyone-could

Quoting Crenshaw in 2014 does not change the fact that her original conception of intersectionality was limited to race and gender. When I did a little researching, I saw another feminist brought in class about a year later, if I remember correctly.

In my experience, intersectionalists tend to talk about "classism" rather than class, continuing their focus on prejudice rather than economic relationships.
And when Khawaga continued to insist I was engaging in ad hominem, I said,
I am not saying Crenshaw should be ignored because she's bourgeois. I'm saying intersectionality is a bourgeois ideology. When neoliberals like Hillary Clinton cite it, you should suspect it's not a concept that's on our side. It is an approach to justice that focuses on identity proportionality, so to an intersectionalist, if the classes were equally representative, they would be fair. Whereas I would say the problem is not proportionality; it's the existence of a class system that must be ended no matter what form it takes.
The discussion there continues. If I decide to stay in it, I may update this post.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mark Fisher on Class Reductionists

I reread Exiting the Vampire Castle and was struck by this (italics mine):
I’ve noticed a fascinating magical inversion projection-disavowal mechanism whereby the sheer mention of class is now automatically treated as if that means one is trying to downgrade the importance of race and gender. In fact, the exact opposite is the case, as the Vampires’ Castle uses an ultimately liberal understanding of race and gender to obfuscate class.  In all of the absurd and traumatic twitterstorms about privilege earlier this year it was noticeable that the discussion of class privilege was entirely absent.  The task, as ever, remains the articulation of class, gender and race  – but the founding move of the Vampires’ Castle is the dis-articulation of class from other categories.
Two more bits from his essay:
The bourgeois-identitarian left knows how to propagate guilt and conduct a witch hunt, but it doesn’t know how to make converts. But that, after all, is not the point. The aim is not to popularise a leftist position, or to win people over to it, but to remain in a position of elite superiority, but now with class superiority redoubled by moral superiority too. ‘How dare you talk – it’s we who speak for those who suffer!’
and
We need to learn, or re-learn, how to build comradeship and solidarity instead of doing capital’s work for it by condemning and abusing each other.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Mobbings of Mark Fisher, Freddie deBoer, and Leftists who Criticize the Identitarian Left

I can't say for sure that Mark Fisher killed himself because he was mobbed by the identitarian left, but I suspect it, and I'm not alone in that.

I can't say for sure that Freddie deBoer broke because he was mobbed by the identitarian left, but...

I can't say for sure that the leftists I see suffering online (whose names I will protect) are suffering because they were mobbed by the identitarian left, but...

I can say for sure that the identitarian left broke me.

I was mobbed in 2009. My sins were rejecting race reductionism and, because I didn't know about Poe's Law at the time, being ignorant enough to ironically say I was outing someone who was using her full legal name in public posts on her public LiveJournal. My mob was more heavily weighted toward neo-liberals than those that targeted Fisher, deBoer, and others—my mob hated talking about class so much they made it a square on their racist bingo card—but the differences in the mobs are smaller than the similarities. All of the mobs involve peers who ought to have been able to engage in civil debate, but instead relied on everything from mischaracterizations to anonymous death threats.

After I was mobbed, a friend, a tough guy who I never would've expected this recommendation from, told me that Judy Blume's Blubber should be required reading for everyone on the internet. If you understand the fifth-graders who bully with name-calling, lies, and innuendo, you understand half of the problem.

But the second half, the effect on the victim, gets less attention. After I was mobbed, I couldn't understand why I was so depressed, why I couldn't concentrate on my work, why suicide seemed like a reasonable solution. So I began researching mobbing. That resulted in these posts:

Mobbing drives people a little—or a lot—mad

How to survive a mobbing (that mostly happens online)

We humans are pack animals. The cruelest thing we can do is drive our fellows out of the pack, and yet we do it with hardly a thought. Now that I understand mobbing, I'm a bit surprised it leads to few mass murders—but then, if it led to more, it would get more attention. The mobbed usually turn on themselves. Their suicides are assumed to come from depression, and few people ask what factors made the depression fatal. The slower ways that mobbing kills, the stress-related heart attacks and deaths from drug or alcohol-abuse, are even more easily disconnected from mobbing. Those who have not been mobbed think it's something that can be easily shaken off. One friend doubted the possibility that Mark Fisher's suicide was connected to a mobbing that had happened four years earlier. I pointed out that my mobbing happened eight years ago and its effects are still with me. I expect to die with them.

Mobbers are bullies who use everything but fists. When their targets break, they mock them for breaking. That's already happened in Freddie's case—you can see a few despicable people at work at Freddie DeBoer's Dank Meme Stash*.

Good luck, Freddie deBoer. Rest in peace, Mark Fisher.

*

*Facebook group either deleted or private now.

Recommended:

I’m fed up with political correctness, and the idea that everyone should already be perfect  by Fredrik deBoer

Exiting the Vampire Castle by Mark Fisher

Journey back into the vampires’ castle: Mark Fisher remembered, 1968-2017

Mark Fisher, 1968–2017

Purity leftism – MattBruenig

All Worked Up and Nowhere to Go | Amber A’Lee Frost


Leslie Lee III on class reductionists

"If any class-reductionist leftists actually exist they would still be 100 times more helpful to black people than neoliberals." —Leslie Lee III

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The shortest history I've ever written of Privilege Theory

A comment I left at Facebook:
Privilege theory comes from Kimberle Crenshaw's fusion of bourgeois feminism with Derrick Bell's Critical Race Theory, which comes from the black churches. Privilege theory ignores the working class because its believers want bourgeois women and people of color to have all the privileges of bourgeois white men.
Here's a more complete post: The Problem with Privilege Theory

And here's an example of how privilege theory ignores the working class: Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #PoorLivesMatter—now with graphics

Friday, August 18, 2017

Paul Robeson rejects identitarianism

"Here was the first understanding that the struggle of the Negro people, or of any people, cannot be by itself. That is, the human struggle. And so ... my politics embraced also the common struggle of all oppressed peoples, including especially the working masses. Specifically the laboring people of all the world. And that defines my philosophy. It’s a joining one of ‘we are a working people, a laboring people, the Negro people.’

"And there is a unity between our struggle and those of white workers in the South. I’ve had white workers shake my hand and say ‘Paul we’re fighting for the same thing.’ And so this defines my attitude toward socialism and toward many other things in the world. I do not believe that a few people should control the wealth of any land, that it should be a collective ownership in the interests of all." —Paul Robeson

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shetterly's Free Speech FAQ

NOTE: This FAQ is about the principle of free speech. There's a little about the law, but if you want to research the legal limits of speech in the US, try the ACLU's Defending First Amendment Rights.

1. How old is the idea of free speech?

At least 2500 years old. In 399 BC, Socrates said, "If you offered to let me off this time on condition I am not any longer to speak my mind... I should say to you, "Men of Athens, I shall obey the Gods rather than you.""

2. Isn't censorship something that only a government can do?

No. From What Is Censorship? | American Civil Liberties Union:
Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.
3. Does free speech give you a right to lie, slander, or engage in false advertising?

No. Free speech gives you the right to say what you believe. It does not give you the right to say what you do not believe. Lying cannot be defended as free speech.

4. Does free speech give you a right to harass or threaten people?

No. Free speech does not give you the right to make anyone listen to you, and it does not give you a right to hurt anyone. Credible threats of danger are grounds to have people arrested, not for speaking, but for promising to do harm.

5. What about illegal forms of pornography?

Free speech gives you the right to try to change laws, but it does not give you the right to break them.

While art is a form of speech, and pornography is a form of art, when we talk about illegal pornography, we’re talking about recordings that are evidence of crimes. Keeping those forms of pornography illegal is not about speech—it's about targeting the market that promotes the crime. The principle is no different than targeting people who pay for prostitutes, drugs, or contract killings.

If you don’t like those laws, use your free speech to try to change them. If the subject of illegal pornography becomes legal, the pornography will become legal too.

6. What about firing people for saying things that do not directly affect their job?

People should be fired because of their job performance. If companies need to address something an employee has said off the job, they only need to say, “The opinions of our employees are their own.”

7. What about protesters speaking out to silence speakers and intimidating venues into canceling their events?

If you don't want to hear people speak, don't go to their speeches. Preventing people from speaking is the opposite of free speech.

8. What about protesting speakers in ways that don't silence them?

Yes! Protest outside events, but don't block passage to them. Go to events wearing armbands or T-shirts that show you reject a speaker's message. When speakers take questions, point out the problems with their beliefs.

9. Does free speech mean we have to let everyone speak wherever they want?

No. Groups have a right to invite the speakers they want to hear. They have no obligation to invite people they don’t want to hear.

10. Doesn't free speech let us cancel a speaker's invitation to speak?

No. When Clark University invited Norman Finkelstein to speak, then canceled the speech in response to protesters, Sarah Wunsch of the ACLU wrote:
...the cancellation of his speech violates the basic principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom which are so fundamental to an institute of higher learning. The existence of an opportunity to speak at another time or in another location does not remedy the wrong of censorship. 
11. What about copyright?

Free speech does not give you a right to claim someone else's expression as your own or to use their expression as you please. Copyright laws vary from country to country—in order to be true to free speech, copyright laws must allow for Fair Use.

12. Isn't free speech used by the powerful to abuse the powerless?

Free speech lets the powerless speak. Without it, the weak will be silenced by the rich and powerful.

13. What about silencing people who oppose free speech?

Free speech belongs to everyone, including people who oppose it.

More:

XKCD doesn't understand free speech—or the difference between legal and moral rights

Actually, what XKCD doesn't understand is that money is not speech (XKCD doesn't understand free speech, take 2):

Explaining free speech to XKCD, a cartoon

Frederick Douglass and Henry Louis Gates on free speech and hate speech

Socialist quotes for free speech

Two examples of the unexpected consequences of banning (pornography and swastika)

On responding to speech with violence, or why a coward in a mask is nothing like Captain America