Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Cultural libertarians vs. SJWs. Outcome: draw!

"The distributist" does not hold out much hope for the cultural libertarians in general and YouTuber Sargon of Akkad in particular in the culture wars against the regressive left.  This is because, in his view, the cultural libertarians lack institutional support or a means of getting any, the cultural libertarians do not understand cultural narratives on narratives and arguments, and that cultural libertarians do not understand their own ideology, specifically liberalism.  Take the half hour needed to view this video.  

In my opinion, the distributist is partially correct.  But only partially.  There are also factors he failed to bring up that also work against the cultural libertarians.

The distributist made a good point in that the cultural libertarians seemed to lack an overarching narrative, and seem to lack an overall strategy above and beyond refuting regressive talking points and demonstrating the superiority of liberal ideas. This is very true.  It is very hard to prevail in an ideological war long term without a narrative.  This is why I earlier asked what should by the mythology of the alt-left?  And when I say mythology, I don't mean that we adopt a pre-existing mythological or religious system.  I mean that we need to consider the importance of framing our world view in terms of a struggle of opposed forces and casting ourselves as the protagonist for good in this struggle.  The side in any non-violent struggle for control of a civilization that more successfully does this will win in the long term.  It's really that simple.  The "radical progressives" referred to by the distributist are doing the best job of this right now.  But that was not always the case.

Conservatism's success from the 1979 to 2006 time frame was because they were able to frame the debate in moral terms and control the argument.  However relevant and accurate liberal talking points were in refuting specific conservative policy positions were, the conservatives cleaned the liberal's clocks come election time, and for a while, made "liberal" a dirty word.  If you don't believe me, go over to YouTube and listen to any of Ronald Reagan's speeches.  He was an absolute master of this.  Once Reagan departed the Oval Office, Newt Gingrich codified this technique and even went as far as to circulate a memo to GOPAC members on the importance of using language to frame the debate.

Some liberals, however, were paying attention to Gingrich's techniques.  And the lessons were not lost upon them.  Let's keep in mind also that the foundations of the SJW ideology lie in postmodern philosophy and academic critical theory.  They are thus quite adept at dissecting the written word and rooting out subtextual meanings contained therein.  Or imposing otherwise non existent contextual meanings into text.  A progressive (I forget which one) lamented back in the 1990s that "while they were taking over congress, we were taking over the English department."  Meant to be ironic, I'm sure.  The real irony lies in just how intertwined control over the two turns out to be.

This has been, I think, a key to the meteoric rise of the SJW in the last ten years.  Morally ratched up talking points that make it clear that disagreement makes one a terrible person, repeated over and over again, have a definite impact.  For a while, at least.

His final point about the only way to defeat anti-liberal forces long term is through "long, slow march through the institutions" is somewhat true.  But only somewhat.  But let's not forget that in the 1980s and 90s, the most prevalent talking points one heard in the mass media were free market and free trade mantras.  The media is much more the tail than it is the dog, and as much responds to as it does direct public opinion on crucial matters.  A small number of devotees of a solid and consistent narrative can have disproportionate influence.  It's not like the radical feminists always enjoyed such bias, after all.  

Media runs on advertising, and therefore needs to attract viewers in order to attract advertisers.  People are drawn like moths to a flame to controversy, and "political correctness gone mad" is a near perfect way to do this.  I quite strongly suspect that the loyalty of most mass media and social media to the SJW cause is less firm than people like the distributist would suspect.  Many CEOs of major media corporations are white males, after all.  Even a media CEO firmly devoted to social justice and insists that movies, TV programs, video games and so on reflect social justice themes will find themselves facing an irate board of directors if enough financial disasters like the recent Ghostbusters reboot start hurting the bottom line.  Besides, it's not like criticism of the excesses of campus radicalism do not also make headlines.

Speaking of campus, here is where a more crucial and determined struggle will play itself out.  The cultural libertarians, and anyone else interested in a long term defeat of regressivism would be well behooved to focus their efforts here almost exclusively.  If PC falls in academia, it's just a matter of time before it falls everywhere.  But academia is where its supporters are most entrenched and most driven by ideology rather than mere material concerns.  It will not be an easy struggle.

I think the distributist is wrong on some things, though. Namely that the SJWs emerge from, or are part of a fundamentally anti-liberal strain of thought. I think this is only partially true. Their appeal is, in significant part, due to an appeal to social inclusiveness. Due to an appeal to empathy with and care for the weakest and most vulnerable in society, or at least the appearance thereof. The SJWs claim the mantle of causes that are decidedly liberal - equal rights for women, minorities and so on, and much of their success is because of this.

This is where the real danger for Sargon, Milo Yiannopoulos and their ilk really lies.  If the cultural libertarians lose, it will be because of their own abandoning of liberal principles.  This is because most people don't really like actual racism and misogyny very much.  Most people don't like seeing things like Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones get hacked and doxxed.  Most people don't like the patently obvious meaning of comparing her to Harambe the gorilla.  Not far beneath the surface of many a cultural libertarian is something much more socially conservative.  Truth is, the libertarian high ground can more rightly be claimed by those claiming to be "genderqueer" or some other blue-haired silliness.  Until the SJW's swinging arm truly connects with the cultural libertarian's nose, the later will have a weak case.

I'm a fan and a sympathizer with Milo's "dangerous faggot" tour because I know how important it is to see campus political correctness be challenged.  But that challenge will fail if Milo and his ilk get lost in their own insular subculture of internet memes and racist shit posting and appeal more to one another's prejudices than they do to the general public's embrace of liberal values.  Keep the narrative to free speech and societal openness and the defeat forecast by the distributist won't materialize.

Western liberals a-la Sam Harris and Bill Maher were slow to recognize the authoritarian characteristics of PC for quite some time, especially in the days described in the video when they were united against the Christian right and with the LGBT crowd for gay marriage.  The English speaking world has next to no experience with left wing authoritarianism.  What surprises me is that the anti-regressive left has emerged as quickly as it has.

This will not end in a complete victory for either the SJWs or the cultural libertarians.  This is because liberal values are, I think, too deeply embedded in western culture to be uprooted in a single generation.  In all likelihood, the cultural libertarians will have to learn to live in a society that recognizes "gender fluidity", and may even come to realize that as silly as it is, it doesn't present an actual threat to their own freedoms.  The SJWs, on the other hand, will eventually have to face a world wherein they can't shut down anyone who they disagree with by a false appeal to oppression.  

The fundamentally liberal western world won't have it.

Sub Types on the Alternative Left

I’ve come up with colloquial expressions of subtypes I’ve noticed in my short time with this movement. Note that these are not hard fast rules or mutually exclusive categories but rather descriptions of what seem to be motivating passions. Some perhaps approximate the Alt-Leftist ideal better than others:

“The Left Wing of the Alt Right” – Rabbit uses this phrase quite explicitly. They are most open to race realism and most opposed to mass immigration and Islamism but are also inclined towards some kind of economic socialism or social democracy and are otherwise put off the Alt-Right somehow or other. Strasserites might be a more explicitly national socialist variant of this, and National Bolshevism would be even more out there still.  Left wing nationalism would be a softer variant of this.

“Gamergate Leftists” – Named from an article I read a while back claiming that most Gamergaters were left-leaning, these are another type. These types need not be big on Gamergate per-se (the more I studied Gamergate personally, the more lost and confused I got) but being anti-feminist (at least against the kind of PC feminist theory you'd find in a women's studies class or on any left-leaning blog) and anti-SJW is huge with them as is civil and cultural libertarianism. 

I found a number of these posting on anti-SJW pages. They come to the Alt-Left usually because of a belief in Leftist economics, though they are usually not that far Left.  Guys who believe in some regulation and a social safety net. Some too get put off by the tendency of anti-SJWs to drift into genuinely misogynistic and racist territory.  Remember kids that SJW and social liberalism are not the same things.  Think YouTubers like Sargon of Akkad or the Amazing Atheist, though they don’t use the term Alt-Left to describe themselves. Not yet, anyway. These kinds are defecting less from Richard Spencer and more from Milo Yiannopoluous. I used Gamergate’s colors in the design of my page’s logo and banner in an attempt to attract these types.

“Red Enlightenment” – These are most passionate about rationalism, skepticism, empiricism and in some cases, transhumanism and futurism. Generally scientifically minded and technocratic sorts of socialists or social democrats.

“True Liberals” – Antiracist and feminist supporters who think the whole thing has gotten out of hand and are concerned for the SJW’s lifestyle puritanism and opposition to free speech. They are more pro-feminist and pro-social liberal than the Gamergaters though. “The Democratic Party of the 1990s,” someone once remarked to me when I described the alt-left to them, to which I replied, “There were no liberals or Leftists in the 1990’s except myself.”

“Brocialists” – Socialists or social democrats with a penchant for men’s rights and anti-misandry. I seem to have drawn a number of these to my page, and a few of my moderators fall into this category. Hillary Clinton supporters have accused Bernie Sanders of using these as his base of support.  Used as a pejorative by the "Lorettas" of the present day left, I'm a firm proponent that we reclaim the term.

“Red Templars” – Especially and specifically anti-Islamic. We get a lot of these from Sam Harris and Bill Maher’s followings. Unlike the Left Wing of the Alt Right types, these sorts are more standard liberals otherwise.

“The New Old Left” – Would dispense with race, culture and identity all together if they could and make Leftism mostly about economic Leftism. The Realist Left page and the blog Social Democracy for the 21st Century are like this. Farther left you’d find /leftypol/ on 8chan and some Marxist/Anarchist groups that reject IdPol.  A whole separate entry could be made of the economic subtypes one might find on the alt left.  I've also found a lot of labor nationalists and assorted 3rd positionists: mutualists, distributists, market socialists, state capitalists, syndicalism and so on.

 A few types that I have not seen many of and would have expected more are Christian leftists (Catholic Social Teaching, the social gospel and even liberation theology seem especially well suited to alt-leftism) and dissident feminists.  Surely, some feminists must be frustrated with what's happened to their movement.  It's been a long, long time since anything this dogmatic, intolerant, and puritanical has arisen in the western world.  Those well meaning devotees to feminism and social justice time and again are the ones who come under the sternest censure for the most minor of transgressions.  How many women out there, after getting called out one time too many for some sleight micro-aggression or another think "screw this" and drift away from the movement, while still holding to its essential ideals?  Many, I would think.  I would hope.  They can't be that hive-minded, could they?  In any event, if there are, the alt-left must be the port-of-call for women of liberal sentiment overall who reject this 21st century rehash of 16th century puritan culture.

On the other hand, I've noticed more than a few economic libertarians in alt-left circles, which I fail to understand since center to left economics is a pretty big part of this.

There may be more variations on the alt-left theme out there that I have not met yet.  

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Regressive left + SJWs: Authoritarian Styles and Tactics, Not Liberal Beliefs

NEW!  Watch the accompanying Video on Samizdat Broadcasts, with additional detail!

In a December 31, 2015 post, Salon boasts proudly that "2015 was the year of the Social Justice Warrior, and Progressives should embrace the term."
Although the term "Social Justice Warrior" was constructed as an insult against progressive activists, the year 2015 has amply demonstrated why liberals should embrace the term.  Social justice issues dominated the year, from race to sexual identity and beyond.
Wrong again, Salon.  This reads like many progressive defenses of political correctness as simply "being nice" or "being respectful" to one another.  I would not argue against being a decent, conscientious person.  There's nothing to be gained by using racial slurs or being rude and boorish towards overweight women.  Or anyone, come to that.  In fact, I would go further than Salon and a lot of other socially progressive blogs these days and dare to suggest that our decency and conscientiousness should be for all (except those whose actions warrant censure), including the dreaded cishet white male, instead of being parceled out according to who has more "marginalized identities."

Conflating political correctness with niceness and being socially liberal with being a social justice warrior is a wide path that ends in authoritarian regressive leftism.  It's not "nice" to criticize the barbarism of Islamism - they are the victims of western colonialism after all, so we'd better not do it.  It's not "nice" to point out the very real social dysfunctions in black communities - they're the victims of institutional racism after all, so we'd better not do it.  It's not "nice" to criticize misandry in feminism or advocate for male victims of sexual and domestic violence - they're the victims of patriarchy and rape culture after all, so we'd better not do it.

There's nothing nice about any of this.  The victims, in all the above cases, are very real. Refusing to talk about it for fear of offending established interests is as far away from being nice and being what liberalism is supposed to be about as you can get.

To get a better sense of what the SJW is really all about, this excellent article on extremism is a useful tool for clarification. Laird Wilcox, who along with John George authored the excellent 1996 study of American Extremists, list a number of traits that define extremism and are useful for separating the SJWs from the socially liberal nice guys.  These are:
  1. Character assassination.
  2. Name calling and labeling.
  3. Irresponsible sweeping generalizations.
  4. Inadequate proof of assertions.
  5. Advocacy of double standards.
  6. Tendency to view their opponents and critics as essentially evil.
  7. Manichean world view.
  8. Advocacy of some degree of censorship or repression of their opponents and critics.
  9. Tend to identify themselves in terms of who their enemies are: whom they hate and who hates them.
  10. Tendency towards argument by intimidation.
  11. Use of slogans, buzzwords and thought stopping cliches.
  12. Assumption of moral or other superiority over others.
  13. Doomsday thinking.
  14. Belief that it's okay to do bad things in the service of a "good" cause.
  15. Emphasis on emotional responses and, correspondingly, less importance attached to reasoning and logical analysis.
  16. Hypersensitivity and vigilance.
  17. Use of supernatural rationale for beliefs and actions.
  18. Problems tolerating ambiguity and uncertainty.
  19. Inclination towards groupthink. 
  20. Tendency to personalize hostility.
  21. Feel the system is no good unless they win. 
The SJWs convert socially liberal ideologies into closed belief systems that refer to themselves in order to justify themselves, and use denial of guilt of heresy as proof of heresy, in which denial of being a racist, homophobe or whatever is cited as direct evidence of one's guilt.  This is very reminiscent of the workings of the medieval inquisitions and witch hunts, and was characteristic of pro-communist show trials in Stalin's USSR and the anti-communist zeal of McCarthyism.  It is a sad reflection on the failure of our academic and media institutions that history has not been learned from and both the ideologies and techniques of the SJW have been embraced by media and academia largely without question in much of the western world when employed by the charmed circle of feminists, Islamists and anti racists.

Richard Hofstadter's excellent 1963 essay on the Paranoid Style in American Politics could apply just as well to the postmodernist critical theory of the SJW.  To paraphrase the manner in which Hofstadter contrasts the "paranoid style" with sober and accurate reflections on history,
"The distinguishing thing about the paranoid style is not that its exponents see conspiracies or plots here and there in history, but that they regard a "vast" or "gigantic" conspiracy is the motive force in historical events.  History is a conspiracy set in motion by demonic forces of almost transcendent power, and what is felt to be needed to defeat it is not the usual methods of political give and take, but an all out crusade."
This describes precisely the manner in which the SJW perceives whichever forms of marginalization they are most concerned with.  Racism and patriarchy were not unfortunate historical detours, necessitating a sober and liberal feminism and anti-racism to correct.  Rather, racism and patriarchy are the sole, defining characteristics of western civilization, embedded in our every institution, form of relationship, our language and even our subconscious thoughts!

This is why, from the SJW mindset, the ends of defeating "oppression" justify any means necessary employed to do so.  The moral compass of the SJW is calibrated not to the respect of human dignity and rights that one would expect of a liberal, but to this Leninist notion that truth and morality are measured by whether actions benefit an "oppressed" or a "privileged" demographic.  Arguments reminiscent of Stalinist denials of repression inside the Soviet Union declare "oppressed" peoples incapable of racism or sexism, and so are given a free pass to engage in even the most wanton acts of prejudice.

The SJW has no qualms about usurping the identities and struggles of the marginalized peoples they're professing to represent, and speak on behalf of entire demographics of people - even when individual members of those demographics disagree with them in large numbers.  The dangerous notion of false consciousness is trotted out to dismiss those members of marginalized groups who deny their marginalization, adding yet another circular thinking dynamic to the style and tactics of the SJW.

Censorship of those who offend "marginalized" peoples is therefore justified, because the offense taken by the marginalized is indicative of the overarching transcendent meta-historical evil that is patriarchy or white supremacy, and the temporary evil of censorship of a privileged person is a mere inconvenience in the face of it.  In truth, the making of these kinds of sacrifices to defeat ultimate evil is something that the SJW relishes rather than laments, for it signals their intentions to "give until it hurts" and go the extra mile in the winner-take-all battle of pure good vs. ultimate evil.

We've seen enough examples of this kind of thinking in history now to be rightly concerned.  Hitler felt the Jews an evil so despicable that any means were justified in order to defeat them.  Hitler believed posterity would thank him for his efforts, but the general verdict of history would suggest otherwise. 4chan foolishness notwithstanding, Nazism is an evil the western world has no interest in revisiting.

SJWs have nowhere near the blood on their hands that fascists and communists do.  But this kind of thinking is leading them away from their own best ideals.  They've all but lost sight of their initial objectives - racial and gender equality - and are now unabashedly partisan in favor of women and peoples of color, and unabashedly authoritarian and without principle in their methods of activism, undermining their essential credibility among all save for the shamelessly self serving among their chosen demographics.  The price will be paid down the road by the very women and minorities they're professing to champion, for the good name of feminism and anti-racism is being irredeemably spoiled by SJW antics.

The weakness of the western world, however, is in its failure to recognize the stormtroopers when they wear plaid rather than black shirts and dyed hair instead of steel helms.  Of course, the SJWs are a long way away still from the kind of power needed to shed blood on Bolshevik or Fascist levels.  But the failure of media and academia to recognize distinctly illiberal ideas when advanced under the banner of historically liberal ideas should be of concern to us all, but especially those most concern for freedom and liberty for the historically disadvantaged.

Coming soon on Samizdat Broadcasts: An analysis of "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer

What follows is a teaser excerpt from an analysis of Eric Hoffer's brilliant work The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, which includes discussion of how Hoffer's work continues to be relevant today.

"Once people start to become satisfied with their conditions of life, the psychic fire that animates the true believer begins to wane.  The present must be seen, at best, as a bridge between a once glorious past and a destined to be glorious future.  The bridge between the two is the true believer’s willingness to sacrifice contentedness in the present.  As a corollary to this, Hoffer notices that “the boundary line between radical and reactionary is not always distinct. The reactionary manifests radicalism when he comes to recreate his ideal past. His image of the past is based less on what it actually was than on what he wants the future to be. He innovates more than he reconstructs. A somewhat similar shift occurs in the case of the radical when he goes about building his new world. He feels the need for practical guidance, and since he has rejected and destroyed the present he is compelled to link the new world with some point in the past. If he has to employ violence in shaping the new, his view of man’s nature darkens and approaches closer to that of the reactionary.”  
This truism is born out in any observation of the curious mix of appeal to the pre-and-postmodern that one sees in far right reactionary modernism, which used leading edge technologies such as radio in the 1930s or internet memes in our time to spread decidedly not leading edge social ideas.  The radicals, in an interesting contrast, have been in a decades long retreat from modernism under the auspices of “postmodernism”, until what we now have is the barely disguised fascism of the social justice warriors.
The true believer cannot take solace in the present, and this is what insulates them from recognizing the validity of any actual real world successes the movement has enjoyed.  They can only truly be motivated by what Hoffer describes as “Things which are not.”  People are, Hoffer claims, less likely to fight to the end for the things they have and value in the present real world, because their practical value is ultimately subordinate to the ultimate value that the person reconciled to the present places on their lives, or those things that make their lives possible.  This is in stark contrast to the true believer, who so recklessly dispenses with the present and thus has, they feel nothing to lose.  As an example, Hoffer cites “It was not the least of Hitler’s formidable powers that he knew how to drain his opponents (at least in continental Europe) of all hope. His fanatical conviction that he was building a new order that would last a thousand years communicated itself both to followers and antagonists. To the former it gave the feeling that in ‑ fighting for the Third Reich they were in league with eternity, while the latter felt that to struggle against Hitler’s new order was to defy inexorable fate.” 
This could shed some light on why it is that academic, media, business and government leadership in the very late 20th and early 21st centuries have cowed so quickly and readily before even the most absurd demands of the politically correct social justice warriors.  For professionals and administrators in these governing organizations are examples of the irony that Hoffer observes “that those who hug the present and hang on to it with all their might should be the least capable of defending it.”  Militant social justice activists, on the other hand, however much they too have, are truly fighting for “cities yet to be built and gardens yet to be planted.”  
When late 20th century feminism, accustomed only to victory after victory - at least in the social and professional spheres - all the way back to the 1960s finally encountered serious resistance a few short years ago in obscure backwaters of cyberspace, the crux of that resistance was, despite what its supporters or opponents might tell you, neither about misogyny in gaming culture, nor about “integrity in video game journalism”, but about the stewing mix of hope and resentment in hearts and minds every bit as alienated from the present and therefore every bit as willing to pull out all the stops as the radfems themselves have been for the attainment of things they have not."
The completed analysis will appear on my YouTube channel, Samizdat Broadcasts.  In the meantime, read Eric Hoffer's The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements on PDF here.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Is it time to reboot Feminism?

This turned up in a closed Facebook group I belong to:
"SILENCED: A Spanish documentary about male victims of domestic violence that feminists want to censor. Its producer and director is the musician Nacho González, who launched this project in a crowdfunding platform in order to be able to film it. Unfortunately, some weeks ago, he has received the notification that his movie's crowdfunding has been suspended due to the massive criticism coming from feminist collectives."
Which naturally compelled me to share it on my own page.  And do follow the link posted above, even if you don't speak or read Spanish.  Feminist collectives will not suppress knowledge of male victims of domestic abuse.  Google searching it is not exactly hard.  Nor will they suppress knowledge of their attempts to suppress knowledge of domestic abuse.

They're digging their own grave at this point.

Public tolerance and acceptance of feminism's lack of willingness to abide by any kind of consistent moral or ethical principle beyond its own ego-centrism is nothing short of preternatural.  But it is not eternal.  They wouldn't be the first benevolent movement in history to burn out its otherwise considerable credibility trying to suppress knowledge of its less than benevolent side.  The empty pews in many Catholic churches and the present as opposed to past subscription rates for Pravda tell cautionary tales that a feminism long succumbed to the arrogance of power will almost certainly not hear.

There is far and away more historical precedent for collective moral failures of this nature than we'd generally like to admit.  The bigger they are, the harder they fall, after all.

As it is, feminism is too invested in this "male privilege/female marginalization" dichotomy now to allow for the theoretical possibility of domestic abuse - that most cruel hallmark of male dominance - to afflict men at the hands of women.  Or occur in homosexual relationships, possibly to greater degrees than it does in heterosexual relationships.  But never mind the victims, we have a narrative to preserve here!.

It’s easy for any school of thought to turn into an echo chamber of ideological purists and “true Scotsmen.” Feminism is no exception to this pattern of behavior. But at what point does a devout dedication to political dogma simply become a form of cannibalism?  Given that the mainstream of even intersectional feminist thought (which is the mainstream of feminist thought, whatever they may have you believe) is attacked for being white or induces guilt in its heterosexual sisters should answer that clearly.  The lack of self awareness evident in the manner in which organized feminism presents itself is nothing short of breathtaking.  To be outdone only by mainstream media's willingness to give it a completely free pass.  Or maybe they're in on the joke on some level, and are laughing along with the rest of us.

Ridicule of the excesses of intersectional feminism has become an online cottage industry.  Anti-SJW social media outlets have been keeping many a keyboard warrior occupied at least as far back as GamerGate now, and it's quite surprising in retrospect that it took that much time to pass from the days when Peggy Nash first unpacked the knapsack of white male privilege back in 1988 until the inevitable backlash began its push from margins to center.  It says a great deal about the state of the postmodern western world that video game geeks circa 2014 ended up doing what should have been done in academia back in the 1970s.  Namely, calling bullshit on the whole notion of universal male privilege and female marginalization.

But what has been done cannot now be undone.  Feminists can scramble to ban anti-SJW pages on social media all they want.  But first they should consider talking to Angela Merkel - a figure they should idolize given that she's Germany's first female Chancellor - about how easy it really isn't to suppress sensitive information (about a migrant rape crisis, for example) in the information age and the political consequences of trying and failing to do so.

In any event, feminism as a credible force for moral politics is living on borrowed time now.  The fact that many self identified feminist women are attracted to and have sex with men, conform to western beauty standards and even get married testifies to the likelihood that it is now about signalling and telegraphing one's liberal virtues in social media spaces that require such behaviors, rather than a way of life or a political platform.  For the most privileged and well positioned people in the world to lecture anyone about the evils of their privilege is a joke that can only be played straight due to the sheer magnitude of its absurdity.  In short, it's become the left's equivalent to what Christianity is on the right.

It seems to me as though feminism is in need of a reboot.

And if you think that I don't have to right to say that due to the fact that I am a white cishet male, you've proven exactly why feminism does need a reboot.  Think of that as a needed counterpart to Lewis's Law.  Which itself is further proof of feminism's need of a reboot.

What would an "alt-feminism" look like?  Lord knows, it's needed.  And it's likely that present day feminism, for all its absurdity, will not disappear any time soon unless a better model is put forward.  I do not have the answer now, except that the question is long overdue in the asking.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

SJWs are the new fascists

In his 2004 book The Anatomy of Fascism, author Robert Paxton comes to this as a final definition of fascism:
A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity in which a mass based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
He also lists a number of mobilizing passions:
  • A sense of overwhelming crisis beyond the reach of any traditional solutions. 
  • The primacy of the group, towards which one has duties superior to every right, whether individual or universal, and the subordination of the individual to it;
  • The belief that one's group is a victim, a sentiment that justifies any action, without legal or moral limits, against its enemies both internal and external; 
  • Dread of the group's decline under the corrosive effects of individualistic liberalism, class conflict and alien influences. 
  • The need for closer integration of a purer community, by consent if possible or by exclusionary violence if necessary. 
  • The need for authority by natural chiefs (always male), culminating in a national chieftain who alone is capable of incarnating the group's historical destiny; 
  • The superiority of the leader's instincts over abstract and universal reason; 
  • The beauty of violence and the efficacy of will, when they are devoted to the group's success;
  • The right of the chosen people to dominate others without restraint from any kind of human or divine law, right being decided by the sole criterion of the group's prowess within a Darwinian struggle.
Paxton gives a pretty good and workable definition of fascism here. And except for the point about the authority of a single, inevitably male chieftain, this describes the regressive left SJWs, or what they are in the process of becoming, almost perfectly. And don't be fooled: there IS a leadership in the social justice warrior movement.  These ideologues and their silly theories turn up suspiciously simultaneously with suspiciously similar copy-pasta sloganeering for it all to be coincidence.  The lack of honesty and forthrightness in this movement is still one more reason not to trust it.

They are as much the real fascists these days as their alt-right enemies are. They are the far right in perfect disguise. They are obsessed with culture and identity. They, the SJWs, with their obsessions with cultural appropriations and white privilege, are completely absorbed in protecting the racial purity of the non-white races.

Do not be fooled by the "leftist" pretense of the SJWs. The fascists had a quasi socialist quality to them too. This is fascism, plain and simple. Notice how academia and mass media support the regressive left. Would academia and mass media support truly progressive or revolutionary elements? The SJWs protect the interests of capital by keeping activist vigor focused on cultural and moral purity. This is exactly what fundamentalists and fascists do. The fascists of 1930s Europe exalted the white man. The SJWs today exalt minorities. Otherwise it's the same ideology. A compensatory cult of community purity with no concept of liberal ideas like individual freedom, or with any sense of economics, historical materialism or the like. 

Only unlike the neo-nazis of 4chan or Stormfront, "intersectional" feminists disguise their fascism with what are ostensibly our best ideas: inclusiveness, racial and gender equality and so on.  They are given a pass in academia and mainstream media that other schools of thought would never dream of.  But they are authoritarian to the core.

To question the SJW is not to be a heretic or a traitor, but a bigot and a reactionary. Which is really the 21st century's version of the same things.  And this new century is all the more bigoted and reactionary for it.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Progressivism and Romanticism

Elsewhere, I had the following to say about the alt-left vs. mainstream progressivism.
I’ll submit as a defining characteristic of the alternative left vs. the more mainstream progressives is that the alt-left is much more skeptical of the transcendentalist underpinnings of a lot of leftist thought, especially post 1960s. We are, at heart, a push to bring enlightenment rationalism back to the center of leftist thought and activism.
Transcendentalism – the kind originating back in 19th century New England, had its roots in European Romanticism, and is marked by a kind of idealistic utopianism. Religion and science alike were distrusted, in favor of subjective personal intuition and creativity. Nature and people considered “closer to the earth” (indigenous peoples and women) tended to be idealized. 
Emotion and intuition were extolled as being a kind of liberation from the bonds of strict empiricism. People were thought of as naturally good but corrupted by overly rationalized institutions and belief systems, against which struggle was seen in idealized terms. 
I suspect that the alt left’s appeal is to people with liberal sensibilities but who are off-put by romanticist elements in mainstream progressivism. This is marked by the progressive’s tendency to go beyond mere equal rights for “marginalized” peoples and into flagrant idealization of them. 
Women, immigrants, people of color, indigenous people, Muslims, Buddhists, LGBT people and so on are not necessarily viewed as superior to white Christian (or atheist) males (although they can be) but as being less corrupted by the soul destroying rationalism of capitalism, objectivism and/or Christian theology, which is thought to instill in the white male an oppressive, dominating mentality. 
I find this kind of thinking to absolutely pervade post modern progressive thought. It is anathema to me, and I think the rise of the as yet embryonic alt-left is kind of rationalist and realist reaction to the romanticist conquest of materialism on the left.

What shall be our mythology?

Malhar Mali has some interesting things to say about "moral communities" in his interview with author James A. Lindsay before this blog entry descends into a morass of misinformed nonsense about Marxism.
I was looking for the generalization of religion that accounts for things like political parties or social movements.  What is the religion like thing, the one that's broader and yet that religions are all examples of?  What's the thing where groups behave like religions without necessarily being one?
He wanders into well trodden territory here; Eric Hoffer was reaching for a similar concept back in the 1950s when he wrote in what is, perhaps, the greatest treatise on political philosophy ever written, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements when he suggested that religions, nationalist movements and social revolutions were all interchangeable as far as his true believer was concerned.  For Eric Hoffer, precisely what was believed in was of lesser importance than the willingness of the True Believer to put absolute faith in it.

Particularly good was this observation/question that Mali put to Lindsay:
I would speculate that on the Left, religion has been on the decline.  Are people picking up these ideologically motivated moral communities such as social justice, 3rd wave feminism as substitutes?
 To which Lindsay gives the obviously correct answer of "Absolutely."  He goes on to describe "moral tribes" in the following terms:
This moral tribe idea is exactly what I was looking for; it's a moral community that has become ideologically invested.  It's taken its moral values and equipped them with sacredness, which is super high value - infinite value - according to the moral psychologist and professor of business ethics at New York University Jonathan Haidt.  Often, members have these "sacred" morals central to their core identity.  They think what makes them a good person is that they hold these values.
So there's every reason to believe that these people we are talking about - social justice warriors, they're often called - are acting in a way that is analogous, even isomorphic to religion. 
I've been saying this for a long time now.  The progressivism of the late 20th century mostly warmed over romanticism from the summer of love era, itself a reboot of a much older way of thinking that arose as a substitute for religion in the late 18th century.  The SJWs did not emerge in the second decade of the 21st century by accident.  What was needed was for iconoclastic anti-religious authors like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to publish their withering deconstructions of religious - especially Christian - doctrine, undermining belief in God and religion.  Especially among younger, tech savvy libertarian minded people like those found in Silicon Valley and the early adopters of social media more generally.

The so called new atheism was, and could have been, only half successful.  They undermined the credibility of religion and faith, but seemed ignorant of man's deeper need for religion and faith.   If religion itself should fail, something else will step in and take its place.  Comparisons of communism and nazism with religions are old hat now, with no less a luminary than the present Pope Francis observing correctly that "Karl Marx didn't invent anything."  Indeed, ideas such as the community of goods and even the idea of "to each according to his need" have biblical precedent.  It has also been argued, not without merit, that millenarian cults and mystical anarchists of the middle ages interpreted the "prophecies of a final struggle between the hosts of Christ and Antichrist melded with the rootless poor's desire to improve their own material conditions." Simply add this to the Jacobin anti-clericalism of 18th century France and the rest is, as they say, history.

Let's face it: overarching narratives of good vs. evil are quite popular.  George Lucas openly admitted that he drew heavily from Joseph Campbell's exhaustive studies of mythology when he created Star Wars.  J.R.R Tolkien drew from a near bottomless well of European pagan mythology and Catholic doctrine (an odd pair) in his own now iconic mythology.  Indeed, it's hard not to see the entire fantasy genre, in literature, film and gaming, as being anything other than a postmodern revival of archetypal mythology.

This Manichean world view may well not be a human universal.  These tendencies in western thought were doubtlessly exacerbated by the nightmarish transformation of the best and brightest the modern west ever had to offer - 19th century German philosophy and romanticism, into the mind-bending nightmare of Germany in the 1930s and 40s.

But even there, Hitler was dealing in Manichean absolutes: the Aryan was pure and benevolent, the Jew was all that was evil.  Since then, I think that the appeal of a lot of our favorite pop-culture narratives (Lucas and Tolkien again, among others) is that they are, at least in part, a re-fighting of WW2.  Essential to successful myth, it would seem, is ritualized or metaphorical re-enactment of existential struggles what were won, but could have gone the other way, and would have if God, right, natural law, historical materialism or some other transcendent power for good not been on our side, and so made our victory inevitable.  For who else's side would supreme good be on?  More comforting to believe such notions than to face the existential dread invoked by the fact that these struggles were anything other than foregone conclusions.

In light of all of this, should it surprise us that these kinds of themes appear in our politics?  Richard Hofstadter's brilliant article on the Paranoid style certainly seems to think not, wherein adherents to one or another modern, secular equivalent to the millenarians see themselves as pitted against a "vast and sinister conspiracy," perceived as being a "demonic force of almost transcendent power."  This is central to the construction of the world view of a moral tribe.  Belief that some or another form of "social privilege" as an extension of a system of oppression so pervasive and evil that the ends of defeating it justify any means is the heart and soul of the SJW world view.  And a major factor in its rise and spread in a post-religious culture.

This is an important question for the emergent alt-left.  Especially given how rationalistic and enlightenment the alt-left tends to be.  Perhaps more important than the question of what shall be our political program is the question of what shall be our mythology?  I do not pose this question with the intent that we fabricate mythical explanations for scientifically understandable phenomena in the manner that religions do.  That was never what religion was really about, and failing to realize that was a failure far grander than all the success that the new atheism had in debunking God belief.

In asking what shall be our mythology, I ask what is the good that we fight for and the evil that we fight against?  Is this struggle significant enough for people to devote themselves to it and find meaning in it?  I defy anyone to find a successful political movement in history that did not pose this question to itself.  If not intellectually, at least instinctively.

A mythologized world view is not without its dangers.  It can all too easily descend into a morass of self righteousness, dogma, demonization of out-groups and puritanism.  Precisely what happened to the SJWs.  Given that cool headed enlightenment rationalism is, I think, the alt-left's greatest virtue, to descend into such fever swamps ourselves would be tragic.  But without some sort of heroic narrative, world views fail to engage people on more emotional levels and fail to tap into that eternal wellspring of archetype that so galvanizes human action, especially collectively, to a degree that makes real change possible.  As such, we're playing with fire here, and it's easy to lose control of it and get burned.  But not playing with fire would have resulted in mankind never getting out of the stone age.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Samizdat Broadcasts are on YouTube!

Samizdat Broadcasts - this blog's sister site on YouTube, is finally up and running!  Subscribe now and don't miss a video.  Watch Agent Commie's first introductory video on alt-left politics!

The Alt-left's most controversial issue: To Race Realist or not to Race Realist?

The alt-left is becoming less race realist, and veteran alt-left blogger Rabbit is not happy about it:
"The AltLeft seems to be attracting a new faction of people who want to be “neutral” on the issue of race. A lot of them are “left libertarian” gamergate types who are critical of third wave feminism but reject the AltRight because of racism. People like Sargon of Akkad and Shoe0nhead come to mind. They think any identity politics is bad and that people who defend white identity are just “the mirror image of SJWs ” In fact, this is becoming the dominant faction. They’re basically people who just think this social justice warrior craze has gone too far, and they want to turn the clock back to like 1995 when it was just slightly less prevalent. As I’ve stated a million times before, this will never work."
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, race realism refers to what was once called scientific racism: the belief that there are demonstrable genetic and biological differences between humans based on race, and that these differences are significant enough to influence individual and social outcomes.  This kind of thinking fell out of favor after WWII - the Nazis were major proponents of scientific racism, as we should all know.  Race realist theories were seen as mere pseudoscience and rationalizations for the ugliest episodes from the darker epochs in human history; from the European conquest of the Americas and the slave trade to fascism and the holocaust.

Despite this, "race realism" is far from dead, though it continues to be hounded by allegations of being mere pseudoscience and driven by ignorance and bigotry.  The 1994 publication of The Bell Curve by Richard Hernnstein and Charles Murray argued that measurable differences in intelligence existed between the races, that these differences were largely, though not completely determined by heredity and that these differences had significant impact on economic and social outcomes.  The controversy was, for lack of a better term, a full-on shit storm.  Since then, the idea has been gaining adherents on the alt-right, of which the early alt-left was a part.

Rabbit's warning of what could happen should we fail to accept certain racial realities is dire:
When a city or a country becomes 70-80% non-white, it will most certainly not retain any “race neutrality” toward white people. Imagine being the white guy in an 80% black country who says “Guys, we’re all just one race, the human race. Here’s what I think we all should do about problem XYZ which would help everyone rather than focus on awarding reparations.”  They will basically just laugh and be like “Whitey, sit your ass down and shut up. We’re in charge now.” Only it won’t actually be you of course. It will be your children and their future that you sold out for nothing but a bit of virtue signaling. Do you want your kids to live in a city that looks like Baltimore or Detroit or the shitty parts of Oakland? Do you want them to go to a high school where they get taunted by mobs of low IQ mestizos, because the school is 95% Mexican? Have you ever felt while walking through a ghetto neighborhood late at night that you had nothing to worry about because this was a “race neutral” environment? In South Africa, whites are running for their lives. Perhaps that wouldn’t happen here, but at the very least don’t expect going to the movies to be a quiet and pleasant experience.
I'm probably going to ruffle some feathers by saying this, but I think that the question of whether or not biological and genetic differences between the races exist is of lesser concern than social and cultural compatibility.

And where that is concerned, it turns out Rabbit just might have a point.

Robert D. Putnam (of Bowling Alone legendry) in a 2007 paper entitled E Pluribis Unum: Diversity and Community in the Twenty‐First Century, immigration and ethnic diversity does, at least in the short term, "reduces social solidarity and social capital.  New evidence from the US suggests that in ethnically diverse neighborhoods, residents of all races tend to 'hunker down', trust (even within one's own race) is lower, altruism and community cooperation rarer, friends fewer."

The fear I have of the concept of race realism is the potential for abuse: "Science shows we have higher IQs on average, so the good jobs are ours!"  Are color bars; rationalized rent-seeking for whites - something we'd really like to go back to?  Higher IQs or no, America's historical treatment of its black population is not something to be proud of.

But over fifty years have passed since the passage of the 1964 civil rights act and Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream speech.  We are 7 years into our first black POTUS.  And racial peace and reconciliation are, if anything, further away now than they were in the days of the Rodney King riots or even the Watts riots.  Liberals blame right wing racism.  Conservatives blame the welfare state.  One look at so called "social justice" blogs on tumblr and elsewhere make it quite clear that "judging a man by the content of his character rather than by the color of his skin" is resonating less and less with minority communities preoccupied with knapsacks of privilege and cultural appropriation.  Another quick glance at 4chan's politically incorrect forums and reddit forums point to growing numbers of whites who are losing their fear of being smeared "racist" and are unapologetic in their advocacy for racial in-group preference.

And then there's Europe, where years of mass immigration and failure to effectively assimilate migrant populations, culumnating with the dreadful mishandling of the refugee crisis and sloppy attempts at covering up a resulting rape crisis have brought previously marginal far right parties into the political mainstream.  Few places seem to not be dealing with a racial crisis or issue of some kind or another, although some fare better than others.  My home town of Calgary - indeed most of Canada as a whole seems to be relatively (and I must emphasize that term) free of racial tensions.  Which isn't to say that it's not there.  But in most people's day to day lives, multiculturalism and diversity are not working out too badly.  Individual mileage may vary, of course.

This level of cordiality is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule, sadly.  Truth is, I rather liked Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream.  I still think it's a worthy vision.  But something just isn't working here.  Is it time to throw in the towel?

I can not and will not advocate racial supremacy nor for the forced segregation of the races in any way.  I cannot associate myself with any ideological rationalization for racial oppression and genocide.  And it is for precisely that reason that I have to wonder if forced diversity and multiculturalism really needs to be a hill that western political elites are hell bent on digging in their heels and dying on.  If a polity can make multiculturalism work, more power to them.  But this religious fanatic level of devotion to diversity that the hegemony of western liberalism has been doubling down on increasingly just seems silly and misguided to me.  You can't force people to like each other when they don't want to.  Keep trying, and something really, really ugly is going to happen somewhere sooner or later.

If people, even people of European descent or, dare I say, white skin, want to live in more culturally or even racially homogenous communities, who am I to tell them they can't?  Now, dramatically curtailing immigration will most certainly cause as many problems as it will solve, if indeed it will solve any, but that's a matter for another time.

It would well behoove the political and cultural elites of the western world to get off their high horses and listen to their populations when they say they're fed up with mass immigration and multiculturalism.  Keep trying to force a round peg into a square hole, and you'll just end up breaking the hole, the peg or the hammer.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

The Alternative Left - What it is.

On April 9, 2016 I created a Facebook page and called it Alternative Left.  Both before and since then, I've done online research into the prospect of rebooting the left in the same way that Richard Spencer has tried to do on the right.  The results have yielded a mixture of blogs and other sites that point to a growing discontent with the direction that left wing politics have gone since the demise of communism, among some people on the left.  Central to this discontent is a concern for civil liberties, freedom of speech and ideological pluralism in the face of in increasingly PC leftist establishment, a feeling that economic inequality and class based politics have been neglected due to an overemphasis on identity politics.

While I would like to take credit for being the left's counterpart to Richard Spencer, that honor belongs to one Robert Lindsay, whose blog defines the Alternative left more in terms of what it is not than what it is.  His list of what he feels would disqualify one from being an alt-leftist is, perhaps, lengthy, but basically boils down to a definition of the alt left as a rejection of the excesses of cultural leftism, rejection of social conservatism and support for social democratic kinds of economic policies.

In my months of involvement with this movement, spent primarily on social media outreach; building my page, this blog and Samizdat Broadcasts on YouTube, what I've noticed is a consistent core principle, with a broader variety of ancillary beliefs emphasized in varying permutations and combinations.  And that principle can, I firmly believe,  be neatly summed up as follows:
Alternative Left - Politics, so far confined to the internet and social media, centered around advocacy of a program of protecting western civilization from decline due to an erosion of humanist values caused by regressive leftism.  
Here I am defining humanism with the first line in the Wikipedia article on the same subject: "a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over acceptance of dogma and superstition."

The concept of a "regressive left" is essential, and is the key feature that demarcates the alternative left from mainstream progressivism. Examples of the kinds of regressive leftism that are of concern to alt-leftists include:

  1. Replacement of racial and gender equality with an exceptionalism based on white male guilt as the underlying ideology.
  2. A cultural determinism wherein people’s actions are judged solely on the basis of whether they belong to “privileged” or “marginalized” demographics.
  3. Tolerance and acceptance of Islamism both at home and abroad, and protection of Islamic doctrine and communities from needed scrutiny due to dogmatic strains of anti-rascist, multiculturalist thought.
  4. Embrace of mass immigration and multiculturalism without regard to the social problems caused by non-assimilation of migrant populations.
  5. Dogmatic and extremist strains of feminist and anti-racist thought and activism, that call for the curtailing of speech when it offends them (so called "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings") and the curtailing of civil liberties for people who commit acts they deem oppressive, such as support for strong hate speech laws or curtailing due process for men accused of sex crimes against women.
  6. Loss of free speech and intellectual diversity in Academia.
  7. Embrace of "postmodern" philosophies which undermine belief in rationalism and empiricism by accusing these of being white male European social constructs.
  8. Obliviousness to or tolerance of widespread economic inequality.
  9. A tendency to avoid addressing arguments posed against them and instead relying on name calling, willful misrepresentation of their opponent’s positions and other kinds of stonewalling and evasiveness when faced with opposition or criticism.
From here, come a number of ancillary beliefs around which there is general agreement, but differences of emphasis, nuance and proposed solutions.  These issues are generally:

  1. Skepticism towards economic conservatism, or in Europe, economic liberalism. Untrammeled capitalism is seen as generally destructive.  Proposed remedies range from a return to Keynesian social democracy to more thorough socialization of the economy, to third positionist economic theories not yet considered or implemented.  More generally, the kinds of dogmatic and quasi religious attachments to economic theories displayed by Marxists and Libertarians alike are frowned upon.  Note that it is the religiofication of these theories, not the theories themselves, that are seen as the problem.  Orthodox Marxists and libertarians, while definitely ideological minorities on the alt left, do exist.
  2. Anti-conservatism.  While the Alternative Left is demarcated from mainstream progressivism by its opposition to regressive leftism, we make no peace with the right!  Religion and traditionalism are eschewed in favor of enlightenment humanism (see above), although we absolutely oppose persecution based on religious or cultural affiliation (see below).  While the alt-left is not against rigorous and peer reviewed scientific study of hereditary genetic differences across race or gender lines, we unequivocally oppose discrimination against people of any and all races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities and so on, including straight white males.  In a similar vein, our opposition to Islamism is not a call for discrimination against Muslims, crack-downs on domestic civil liberties in the name of anti-terrorism or for the kinds of hawkish, interventionist foreign policies in the Middle East that have done far more to fan than to quench the flames of Jihadism both at home and abroad.
  3. Strong belief in civil liberties and free speech, especially though not exclusively in the face of the regressive left.
Frustration with the regressive left is palpable all across social media and in the broader society.  But this frustration cannot be allowed to be the impetus of a mass shift to the far right in the western world.  This will be an "out of the frying pan and into the fire" kind of solution.  The answer to the regressive left is not a re-embracing of racism, xenophobia and sexual puritanism.  It is a revival of classical liberal and social democratic principles.  That is what the Alternative Left is all about.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Is there a patriarchy? If only there was!

"Michelle Marks is dead, Brock Turner is a rapist, and men are still blaming literally every single thing but themselves for their crimes against humanity." So claims feminist blogger Laura Louise, in along and frustrating expose of male violence against women.

I make no secret of my opinion that feminism and social justice activism in general have become absurdly reductionistic, labeling whole categories of people as either privileged or marginalized, and treating individual members of these categories as though they were the powerful or powerless abstractions that the theory made them out to be. The obvious rebuttals to Ms. Louise's presumptions, never stated outright but subtextually implied throughout in boilerplate feminist fashion, of collective male responsibility and her equally boilerplate dismissal of counter arguments as "mansplaining" present obvious temptations to keyboard warriors like myself. Another stupid SJW needs some cluing in about the way things really do, or don't work.

But these are temptations I'll have to resist for now. Because theory and ideology aren't the most important things here. What matters is that Michelle Marks, and many other women besides, are dead prematurely, for no good reason, and rapists like Brock Turner get insulting slap on the wrist sentences for gratuitously horrible crimes, and don't even serve these paltry sentences in their entirety. More children have lost their mothers, more husbands have lost their wives and more fathers have lost their daughters. This outrages me, as it should outrage any conscientious and sensible human being. We want answers. We want justice. We want the pain and the killing to stop.

And that is where our thinking so easily goes wrong.

The natural human response in the face of the problem of evil is to assume that a pattern entails conscious agency. Evil is caused by the devil, or by a conspiracy or by the patriarchy. If only it were that easy. If it was a simple matter of all us guys deciding together that there would be no more rape or murder of women, that would be great. I'd love it. I love my mother and wife and there's lots of cool women in my life that I don't want shitty things happening to. A devil we can exorcise. A conspiracy or the patriarchy we can expose and neutralize.

But what answer is there to ungrounded uncertainty that defies our best attempts to impose order on chaos?

Ultimately, we blame patriarchy and rape culture for the same reason we blame the female victims being scantily dressed, or having drank too much or being such fools for being out alone after dark. In the face of evil, we crave the illusion of control. Something could have been done differently by somebody to prevent this - men can be taught not to rape and ABRA-CADABRA, it just stops happening! Women can dress more modestly or not drink too much and HOCUS POCUS, they're guaranteed safety! These are comforting things to tell ourselves. They give us power and agency, or so we think, to at least protect ourselves and the ones we love, if not cut the problem off at the source.

But the truth of the world around me is actually far worse than the devil, the Illuminati, or the patriarchy.  It's far worse because there's no simple and easy pattern.  Women kill men too.  And men kill men.  And women kill women.  Perhaps not as often, but that doesn't make the dead any less dead.  And I don't say this to dismiss the plight of female victims or to imply that men have it worse or otherwise claim, "I didn't do it!"  But so that we do not get lost in the comforting illusion that a patriarchy or male privilege is somehow to blame for all of this.  So that we do not give ourselves license to hold accountable the entire male gender, or all non-feminists for the very real crimes committed against women.  Not because falsely accusing men (individually or collectively) is less serious a problem than rape itself - it isn't - but because good and evil don't work that way.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  Violence against women is terrible, but is not a license to blame innocent men for it, or to foment a culture of distrust between the sexes that will only make things worse.

Social constructs such as power, patriarchy and privilege are not magical, bullet proof armor that renders one immune to tragedy simply by virtue of being a white male.  I can be as easily killed, and the lives of my loved ones as easily shattered. Privilege will not bring me back to life nor make the grief of my loved ones less acute.  To ascribe to me a "power" or "privilege" based on my race or gender that makes it okay to be okay with this might be cathartic in the short term, but is no more than a hollow rationalization.  Accuse me of "mansplaining" all you want; it will not change the reality.  And the reasons differ from case to case to case.  

None of which is to say we should refrain from teaching men not to rape - my gender doth protest too much at this notion, though I also wonder how much of this isn't just feminists seeking further license to finger wave and scold men for the poor judgement of sharing the same genitals as most rapists.  How could they, after all.  So in the interests of equal time, let's teach women to be good citizens too.   Perhaps there is more that the legal system could do.  Maybe women can do more to protect themselves?  Why not?  But let's not fool ourselves here, complete security of person cannot be guaranteed to anyone.  Human beings have a tendency to defy all efforts to subject our behavior to rationalized control. 

I can't help but wish that these kinds of terrible incidents were as easy to prevent as feminists make it out to be.  Me in my cloak of male power and privilege could simply decide not to kill or rape women any more, and compel my fellow men not to do it either, and compel the courts and the police to crack down on those who did.  Because I love the women in my life, and wish I were as formidable as feminist theory made me out to be.  I'd do it in a heartbeat.

But I'm not.  And there's no devil, no conspiracy and no patriarchy making men do shit like this.  And insisting that there is only serves to foment feminist ego-driven militancy and male guilt, and erode what little love, respect and trust between the sexes that still remains perhaps our best bulwark against misogynistic violence.  There is no source of all evil that, if neutralized, could end pain and suffering. The world around me is not about white male privilege.  The world around me is about chaos.  And I'm sure the women I share it with would be aghast to learn just how powerless I really am.  To judge by how reactive they get when I suggest I don't have male privilege, something tells me they're much more afraid of male powerlessness than they are of male power.  Because they know that means that instead of male power and patriarchy, they are subject to the mindless whims of a chaotic universe.

And that's far, far worse.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Who is "Agent Commie?" Where does he come from and what does he believe?

Tell us a bit about yourself.
Like my real name?  Ha ha.  Like I'm dumb enough to do that.  Enough of my readership knows who I am anyway.  I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  I'm middle aged - early 40s now.  Married with two kids.  Work full time - at a union job with good benefits and wages.  Too few people have that these days.

Why are you such a political wonk?
I learned the hard way at a young age that you can ignore the broader world all you want, but the broader world won't always ignore you.  Back in 1988, I was 15 and just wanted to listen to heavy metal music and play Dungeons and Dragons.  So it goes without saying that I wasn't the most popular kid in the conservative Catholic school I went to.  That was when Geraldo Rivera did his expose on Satanic cult activity in America.  I remember the moral panic well.

Next thing I knew, I was getting into fights at school, getting called into the Principal's office, quarrels with my parents and so on.  A lot of people really thought that Satanic panic stuff was real.  So at an early age I became accustomed to advocating for myself and the freedom of people like me - oddballs, misfits and so forth, to live our own lives.  The one thing that stands out in my mind, though, is that I did know some leftist people even in those days.  What they pointed out to me was that the things I enjoyed, the metal music and so on, were primarily enjoyed by white males, and it was implied that this was not really a good thing.  This had to mean that those hobbies were racist and sexist.  It was the first time, though by no means the last, that I would notice that the regressive left and the right wing overlapped on a lot of cultural matters.  Nothing has really changed these days, "geek culture" is a favorite punching bag of both moral conservatives and progressives.

So ... Agent Commie?
Well, the funny thing is that I'm not actually a commie.  Not so much these days, anyway.  Friends of mine gave me that nickname years back when I first really got into leftist politics.  That would have been around the mid 1990s or so.  This was a lonely experience - the Berlin Wall had come down, the USSR had dissolved and so the political climate of the time was extremely libertarian.  This was good in some ways.  People weren't so caught up in stuff like heavy metal music and Dungeons and Dragons.  Some were, but not as many.  But free markets were supposed to be the cure-all for everything, for everyone.   So Agent Commie is used somewhat ironically.  But I also think there's something to be said for theoretical communism, even though I don't think revolutionary socialism is practical.  It had an emphasis on class and economics that has increasingly been lost on the left wing.  I think it's important to bring that back.

Why so?
Because economic and ultimately legal structures provide important context to cultural issues.  I suspect that a lot of the problems on the left today are a result of there being no real political or economic theory.  As a result, issues surrounding race and sex are seen entirely through a cultural lens.  This precludes use of either the political process or economic redistribution to redress inequality.  So unequal outcomes are attributed to discriminatory or supremacist cultures among white males, and it becomes necessary to police these cultures and curtail their expression in order to make things more equal.  This obviously hasn't been helpful.  There's now a lot of anger and resentment towards "political correctness", much of it justified, that is in real danger of being expressed through very toxic politics, such as xenophobia, Donald Trump and stuff like that.

Have you always been on the left?
No.  There was a time, in the late 1990s and early 2000s that I became disillusioned with leftism.  I thought it had become too anti-white male.  I still think that, actually.  Even when I was a true believing communist, I thought that this streak of white male guilt that ran through leftist politics was dragging it down.  It's only gotten worse since then.

But you're leftist now?
I think it's the only thing you can be if you care at all about the 99%, if I may borrow the phrase.  But for a while I looked into right of center ways of thinking.  There is a certain logic to it, and some of it has stuck with me.  To this day, the more articulate alt-right commentators talk about concepts related to an organic society - a complex network of social interdependency that evolves and arises over time and in response to a the needs and issues a particular culture faces.  There's something to be said for that.  I'm not religious now, though I sort of was in those days, but I can see how shared mythology is a potent force for social cohesion.  Today we're seeing a retreat of religion, a retreat of cohesive family units, romantic and erotic love between the sexes is dying, and other kinds of relationships that used to give people an identity and a sense of belonging are eroding, and I don't think that's a good thing.  This is part of what's driving people to toxic political and religious ideologies.  The innate need to belong that's not being fulfilled on a more personal level.

That said, it became obvious to me fairly quickly that right of center governments could not, or would not really address cultural issues.  They simply didn't interest them.  Rightist parties might exploit and even stoke populist anger for votes, for popular support and to keep the base loyal, but their hearts aren't really in it.  At the higher levels, parties like the Republicans in the US, the Conservatives in Canada and Great Britain and so on were all for, or at least indifferent to stuff like radical feminism, mass immigration, multiculturalism and so on.  And why not?  Social liberalism is good for business.

Social Liberalism is good for business?  What do you mean?
It's a natural consequence of the embrace of free market economics that swept the world in the 1980s.  In the Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels describe rapacious capitalism as a force that destroys bonds based on land and kin, and "strips the family of its veil of sentimentality" and reduces human relations to money and commerce.  While I think Marxism is overly deterministic, I think Marx was on to something back then and we're seeing it now.  The economy becomes almost an all consuming social force.  Take feminism, for example.  Notice how feminism has become more successful and wide spread in the days since Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, despite its supposed liberal leanings?  Part of that is because the left embraced identity issues as a substitute for increasingly discredited socialism.  But part of it was that in a more capitalist economy, women are more valuable as workers and consumers than they are as wives and mothers, so it becomes preferable to have them go to school, work outside the home and so on.  Now, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.  I don't believe that women should be forced to stay home and raise kids if they don't want to.  But the more capitalist the society, the more people become valued strictly in economic terms, and so the tendency to measure "success" in financial terms becomes greater.  And so more women work outside the homes, and this created a new demographic to market consumer products to.

What about the right's claims that feminism, multiculturalism and immigration are destroying western civilization?
They're pretty much false.  Now I do think that social liberalism has become excessive and is having a lot of negative social consequences.  But social liberalism didn't start the fire, so to speak.  The far right is putting the cart before the horse.  The truth goes back to what Marx said.  While racial and sexual equality were compatible with the values of the left, and things leftists have long advocated, capitalism really made socially liberal ideas flourish.  Untrammeled capitalism is an extremely dynamic force.  It causes unprecedented social change.  This was always the problem with conservative thought in general.  Social conservatism and capitalism are actually not compatible.

It's no secret that rates of marriage and birth in the developed world have been falling since the 1970s.  Consumer capitalism has enabled a higher - some might say decadent - quality of life, measured strictly financially, to childless couples and singles.  Plus, the welfare state, private and public pensions and so on have done away with the need for large families, and contraception decoupled sexual activity from procreation.  So the upshot of all of that is that you saw feminism proliferate in the 1970s and after.  Governments then turned to increased immigration to keep population growth sustainable.  Plus, immigrants formed a useful pool of cheap labor, and kept wages down.  As free trade enabled by freer markets allowed industry to move oversees and reduce the strength of the unions, the leftist parties found in immigrants, minorities and liberated women a new base of political support.  But those things were not caused by the left or by a nefarious conspiracy of "cultural Marxists" like the far right is always going on about.

You call yourself "Alternative Left."  What do you mean by this?
To the best of my knowledge, the term alt-left started with a blogger named Robert Lindsay - whom I've had a few online chats with; great fellow, as a kind of mirror image of Richard Spencer's Alternative Right.  The alt-left is basically people who are economically left, and don't fit in with either the right wing or most of today's left.  Especially political correctness and the social justice warriors.  The SJWs are the real fascists today.

So you regard the SJWs as having more in common with the far right than with the left?
Definitely.  You have a total rejection of a materialist conception of history.  You have a rejection of class struggle and liberal ideas of free speech and cultural pluralism.  Politics is seen entirely through the lens of cultural or racial identity, which must be purified and strengthened in the face of a hostile world.  Their world view is emotionally as opposed to rationally driven. It targets groups that have attained autonomous political identity relatively recently so that there isn't a lot of history, custom and tradition to fall back on, so a romanticized narrative of struggle is contrived to fill the void.  They exist in an uneasy collusion with existing political and cultural institutions - they're favored in the media and academia and so on.  This isn't something you'd see with an earlier leftist cause.  They sometimes profess to be anti-capitalist and have a semi-socialist way of coming across, but have little real interest in economics except as an extension of the tribe.  Loyalty to race or gender must supersede any kind of class consciousness or individualism.  That right there tells you all you need to know.  The only thing missing for the SJWs is a single messianic leader.

The alternative left rejects the SJWs for the same reason it rejects the alt-right.  It's anti-authoritarian.  It strongly upholds enlightenment values and champions rationalism over knee jerk emotional responses.  We're odd relatives of the libertarians and Randian objectivists that way, though we're poles apart from them economically.  Oppression and privilege have to be seen in political and economic terms again. so that some kind of measurable progress can be made.

So the Alternative left is basically just the old left?
To a degree.  But a lot of alt-leftists have very real concerns with how excessive social liberalism has effected society. While most alt-leftists reject social conservatism, a streak of concern for cultural stability runs through our world view.  This is a bit different than the strict economics of the old left.   Most of us look at 3rd wave feminism, Islamism and the more militant elements in groups like Black Lives Matter and are aghast.  These are very, very destructive movements.  But so are the alt-right and the libertarians, who so far have been the main opponents of the SJWs.  The problem with them is that they go too far the other way.  Even when they try to deny it, it's hard to avoid the distinct whiff of very real racism and misogyny in these online right wing counter-cultures.  So I'm hopeful that the alt-left can be a sane egalitarianism in contrast to the white male supremacy of the alt-right and the white male guilt of the regressive left.

What's next for Agent Commie?
I've started an Alternative Left Facebook page that's still small but growing steadily.  Now I'm doing my blog - Samizdat Chronicles, and hopefully a YouTube channel in the near future - Samizdat Broadcasts.  Now the historical samizdat was underground media in the Soviet bloc that was critical of the regime, so why would Agent "Commie" call his blog and YouTube channel that?  The answer is that some of the samizdat was critical of the Soviet failure to live up to genuinely socialist ideals,  I hope for my own work to hold the regressive left to similar account.

Any more heavy metal music or Dungeons and Dragons?
<laughs> Dungeons and Dragons, no.  I'm more a Dragon Age guy these days.  I'll be blogging and YouTubing quite a while before I catch up to the amount of time I lost playing DA Origins.  Heavy metal music?  Always!

Agent Commie also plans on spending time with his wife and children, who do not play D&D or listen to metal.  He can also be found at https://www.facebook.com/alternativeleft