Tuesday, December 6, 2016

God save us from people who think they're the fire brigade

Winston Churchill said, "I decline utterly to be impartial as between the fire brigade and the fire." It sounds like a good line out of context. In context, it tells you a great deal about how awful Churchill was. He meant that the desperate miners who took part in the General Strike of 1926 were the fire, and he was the fire brigade.

Context: 1926 United Kingdom general strike - Wikipedia: "On 5 May 1926, both sides gave their views. Churchill (at that time Chancellor of the Exchequer) commented as editor of the government newspaper British Gazette: "I do not agree that the TUC have as much right as the Government to publish their side of the case and to exhort their followers to continue action. It is a very much more difficult task to feed the nation than it is to wreck it"."

The "fire brigade" line was made two months later, when he defended his choice to slant the news for the side he favored—see EMERGENCY SERVICES. (Hansard, 7 July 1926).

Monday, December 5, 2016

One reason why assholes love capitalism

I left a comment at Ask Me Your Dumb Questions About Socialism that Jon Carey "re-posted for truth", so I thought I'd post it here too:
Critics of socialism love to talk about their concept of human nature, which tends to bore socialists, mostly because capitalists’ assumptions about human nature are like feudalists’ concepts: self-serving.

But I do think there’s one interesting element. Under any system, most people like to help others. Emergencies regularly bring out the best in people. But when there’s a choice and all things are equal, nice people are more likely to be helped sooner than assholes. Capitalism changes that: the asshole with money gets helped while the nice person without money hopes some help will trickle down.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

The alt-center, censorship, and the weaponizing of poverty: a scattershot note

1
I love this quote. I have seen too many examples of people online trying to silence their opponents with financial threats instead of simply refuting them.

Perhaps the best thing I can point to about Trump's election is fewer people who claim to be on the left are mocking "freeze peach". It's a little sad that the ACLU's support is divided between people who believe in free speech and people who would like to censor their opponents but are afraid they're in danger of losing that fight, but I suspect that's always been the case. During McCarthyism, the left strongly supported free speech. During the rise of left-identitarianism, the right did. What we'll have under Trump's gonzo conservatism, I can't guess, but I know we'll need the ACLU at least as much as we always have.

2

I don't know who coined "alt-center", but I love it for at least two reasons:

1. The people who fall under labels like "social justice warrior" and my previous alternative, "censorial left-identitarian" are not leftist in any meaningful way. They tend to support Clinton's right-of-center neoliberalism. They are extremely conformist and they love trying to get people banned or fired for expressing ideas they disagree with. Their solution to the problems of racism and sexism is not to redistribute the wealth to end economic inequality but to advocate the ancient solution of education, which for all its virtues only helps the poor people who're lucky enough to have the resources that will let them graduate with honors. The US's two-party system makes these angry identitarians think they are leftists because they're to the left of the far right, but the fact that their champion in the current election, Hillary Clinton, won many wealthy neighborhoods that had traditionally voted for Republicans should show that their politics are consistent with those of moderate Republicans.

2. What distinguishes the alt-center from the center is what distinguishes the alt-right from the right: they're loud and obsessed with social identity. "Alt" is shorthand for smug, furious, and superficial—both the alt-right and the alt-center are content with a skin-deep analysis of injustice that ignores capitalism.

Yes, there are self-proclaimed socialists like Sady Doyle whose identitarianism made them support Clinton's neoliberalism. Their existence does not mean we need a category for them like alt-left or one I had liked, ctrl-left. The internet has countless videos of animals who seem to think they're a different animal—but just as a prancing cat is not a horse, someone who supports a neoliberal is not a socialist.

Now, I'm not saying alt-center is the perfect name for the loud group of people who've taken the religious concept of social justice and turned it into something that would embarrass social justice workers like Dorothy Day and Dom Hélder Câmara, but it's the best I've found. If ever the alt-center adopts a name, I'll happily use it—I believe you should call people what they like to be called so long as that name does not create confusion. Until they adopt a name, I'll just follow along with what works best at the time. Right now, that's "alt-center".

Monday, November 28, 2016

Liavek 7! Now available! Longest collection yet, only $3.99!


Contains five stories:
"Portrait of Vengeance" by Kara Dalkey
"The Skin and Knife Game" by Lee Barwood and Charles de Lint
"Strings Attached" by Nathan A. Bucklin
"The Tale of the Stuffed Levar" by Jane Yolen
"An Act of Love" by Steven Brust, Gregory Frost, and Megan Lindholm

And a poem:
"Spells of Binding" by Pamela Dean
 Originally published in 1987 in Spells of Binding. For more information, see A Liavek publication FAQ.

Available now at:
Amazon.com: Liavek 7: Spells of Binding 
Barnes & Noble: Liavek 7: Spells of Binding 
Smashwords: Liavek 7: Spells of Binding
praise

"A colorful, likable setting: a crowded port city so well-drawn that readers soon feel they could walk through it..." —Publisher's Weekly

"Fresh and compelling tales." —Science Fiction Review

"...fast-paced entertainment as well as an exercise in shared-world fiction." —Fantasy Review

"Beautifully written, with detailed characterizations, the short stories are amazingly well integrated...a collection of quality fiction...Liavek is a place worth visiting. Get there before another volume comes out." —Voya

"For a world conceived in the 1980s, Liavek was notably forward-looking... As a counter to the default whiteness of fantasy at the time, Liavekans are dark-skinned, as are the indigenous S'Rian people on whose older town the city was built. A same-sex relationship is central to some of Dean's stories, and the city has multiple religions, but also atheists — no easy feat when the various gods regularly take an interest in human affairs." —Elizabeth Graham, NPR