Friday, February 24, 2017

A cartoon and a comment about leftists who are friendly and leftists who mock

On Facebook, Jonas Kyratzes shared Things Are Not OK. In the comments, Jay Tholen mentioned his childhood growing up in poor neighborhoods and said,
I was a Limbaugh-listening conservative at 18 and know how completely validating it is to see the liberal mainstream characterize you as a hateful idiot. It entrenched me in my belief that I was fighting against some elite star chamber. The only time I started questioning my political ideologies was when folks from the left befriended me and we had conversations.
A little later, Douglas Lain shared this:

Trotsky has my back on people misunderstanding wars that are called religious

"If this conflict had taken place toward the end of the Middle Ages, both sides in slaughtering each other would have cited the same text from the Bible. Formalist historians would afterwards have come to the conclusion that they were fighting about the correct interpretation of texts. The craftsmen and illiterate peasants of the Middle Ages had a strange passion, as is well known, for allowing themselves to be killed in the cause of philological subtleties in the Revelations of Saint John, just as the Russian Separatists submitted to extermination in order to decide the question whether one should cross himself with two fingers or three. In reality there lies hidden under such symbolic formulae – in the Middle Ages no less than now – a conflict of life interests which we must learn to uncover. The very same verse of the Evangelist meant serfdom for some, freedom for others...Political slogans serve oftener to disguise interests than to call them by name."
-Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution

Via Steve Brust

Thursday, February 23, 2017

the ancient art of making the working class invisible

From A Frank Talk With Jessa Crispin About Why Modern-Day Feminism Is Full of Shit:
There’s that Rebecca Traister book, All the Single Ladies. It’s all about this self-empowerment feminism—like “look at these brave women living their urban lives and chasing their dreams.” She talks about how the city can provide you the spousal care that a wife used to provide her husband—it can cook your food, launder your clothes, blah blah blah. But the city doesn’t do that shit. Immigrants do that shit. You can’t pretend that “the city” is a benevolent creature.
and
I went to the Google office to visit a friend and talk about fucking safe spaces! They have these little cubbies that practically hug you while you sit there and read. It was very kindergarten. Silicon Valley should be called out on their safe space bullshit more than anyone else. Like, “I need the Google bus because I need wi-fi and tinted windows so I don’t have to look at the homeless people on my way to work.”
That reminded me of a Mexican woman who said, explaining why she had had a maid when she was growing up, "Everyone in Mexico City has a maid."

And this moment in Huckleberry Finn:

“Good gracious! anybody hurt?”
“No’m. Killed a nigger.”
“Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.” 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A few series that have good places to stop watching before the series actually ends (no spoilers)

This post isn't about shark-jumping, which is when a show has gone on too long. It's about when the important arcs have been resolved, and while what follows may have strong moments, the show is not as satisfying overall.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has two good endings. From a purely esthetic point of view, the third season, when she graduates, has the perfect ending. But the end of season five is also mighty nice.

Deadwood ends well at the end of Season Two.

Veronica Mars ends well at the end of the first season. An argument could be made that if you like the first season as much as I did and want more, you should skip the next two seasons and watch the reunion movie.

The Matrix should never have had sequels.

Any to add? If you want to get spoilery in the comments, just say so before you reveal anything major.

Monday, February 20, 2017

On Milo Yiannopoulos and Samuel R. Delany, and why child pornography is a real crime, not a thought crime

Yiannopoulos and Delany have similar histories, but because their politics are different, some defenders of one will attack the other for his sexual views.

Delany talked about his past here: a conversation with Samuel R. Delany about NAMBLA, sexuality, and consent.

Yiannopoulos has responded to his critics here: Milo Yiannopoulos.

So far as I know, they both respect our current laws. For me, that's sufficient—if fantasies were grounds for imprisonment, who would be free? People write about a great many things that disgust me, but so long as it's clear they don't plan to force their fantasies on anyone, I'm content that their work exists because I don't have to read it.

This has me thinking about thought crimes—I oppose hate crime laws because I think motives don't matter, only intent and deeds do. But that reasoning gets murky when dealing with recordings: should owners of child pornography be punished simply for owning material that depicts illegal activity?

My answer is yes. The recordings are the products of a crime, so their owners are in the same category as owners of stolen property—they are enablers of the crime. The owners of illegal property may be even more guilty than the people who committed the initial crime—the essential question is whether the initial crime would have been committed if a market for its result did not exist.

ETA: Yes, I also think people who hire killers are at least as guilty as the killer. Money has killed more people than bombs or bullets have.

"Privilege" has been neoliberalized and "inequality" is next

The Ford Foundation made a vapid video that discusses inequality in identitarian terms, focusing on race and gender almost exclusively. Doug Henwood shared it on Facebook, where Michael Pollak left this comment:
...I'm sorry that this seems to make obsolete Branko Milankovic's great line that foundations love to talk about poverty, but not inequality, because the latter sounds to rich people like you want to take their money.

Of course it's not for any good reason, it's because "inequality" is being neoliberalized into meaning identity equality.
Those of us who want to focus on economic injustice lost "privilege" in the 1980s when neoliberalism and identitarianism were growing together. I love privilege's literal meaning, "private law", a perfect description of what wealth buys. But privilege theorists turned "privilege" from meaning what the elite has to meaning what most of the hoi polloi have. The word's roots have been chopped away; to privilege theorists, privilege now means "majority law".

The logic of identitarianism is antithetical to the logic of socialism. It's a meme that overwrites economic injustice to make it almost impossible to talk about economics alone, thereby continuing to divide the working class.

Consider this a footnote to The Intertwining of Islamism, Identitarianism, and Neoliberalism, and the Four Waves of Socialism.