Thursday, January 29, 2015

A few Marxist critiques of privilege theory

Conservatives keep trying to connect identitarianism and privilege theory to "cultural Marxism",  a name I hate because "cultural Marxism" is to Marxism as the Reverend Moon's Unification Church is to Christianity. "Cultural Marxism" should be called something like "Frankfurt Schoolism".

But I digress before I begin. Onward:

Privilege theory in the US comes from the Ivy League via two academics, Derrick Bell, father of Critical Race Theory, and Kimberlé Crenshaw, coiner of "intersectionality". I haven't been able to find anything linking either to socialism or Marxism. Bell is on record saying he didn't read Marx, and there's nothing to suggest he was lying.

But it's true there are socialists who fall for identitarian theories without noticing their origin or how, as David Harvey noted, those theories serve neoliberalism. These socialists may well come from the Frankfurt School—I leave tracing that connection to people who care more about academic Marxism than I do.

My concern here is solely with socialists who question privilege theory. The quick googling brings up several pieces from the last couple of years that are worth reading:

On privilege theory and intersectionality by Camila Bassi.

Privilege theory: a political impasse? by Camila Bassi.

Is there a white skin privilege? by Bill Mullen.

An identitarian socialist's response to Mullen: White Skin Privilege and Marxism? by Brian Kwoba.

And a response to Kwoba: Towards a Marxist critique of ‘privilege theory’ by Tad Tietze.

What’s wrong with privilege theory? by Esme Choonara and Yuri Prasad, who found the perfect Marxist answer to people like Kwoba who claim, "To many race-conscious people, the idea that white people, because of their race, receive a whole host of unearned advantages and privileges is obvious." Choonara and Prasad quote Marx's observation: “All science would be superfluous if the outward appearance and the essence of things directly coincided.”

And two older favorites of mine:

Race, class, and "whiteness theory" by Sharon Smith.

The limits of antiracism by Adolph Reed Jr.

Never underestimate the power of a great story - Canal+ video

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Excluded by intersectionality: Kristiana Coignard and Jessica Hernandez

17-year-old Kristiana Coignard shot and killed by three police officers after brandishing knife

Jessica Hernandez: Denver Police Kill Teen They Say Hit Cop With Car, Vigil Held For 'Outgoing' Girl

Deaths like these are why I prefer #AllLivesMatter.

No, Jonathan Chait, the language police are not "Marxist"

In general, I agree with Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say: How the language police are perverting liberalism. It includes bits like this example of identitarians who are not even willing to allow free speech in free speech zones (which is consistent with their faith, of course: people who oppose sin wouldn't tolerate "sin zones"):
Last March at University of California–Santa Barbara, in, ironically, a “free-speech zone,” a 16-year-old anti-abortion protester named Thrin Short and her 21-year-old sister Joan displayed a sign arrayed with graphic images of aborted fetuses. They caught the attention of Mireille Miller-Young, a professor of feminist studies. Miller-Young, angered by the sign, demanded that they take it down. When they refused, Miller-Young snatched the sign, took it back to her office to destroy it, and shoved one of the Short sisters on the way. 
But Chait falls for the conservative claim that the language police is "Marxist". It's not. Marx praised the free press, and many Marxists remember that today. (See "Marx hated press freedom? Er, I don't think so. He was its most passionate champion" by Brendan O'Neill.) The authoritarian desire to police language is not political; it's just authoritarian.

ETA: If language policing is Marxist, Reverend Bowdler was a Marxist. Language policing owes far more to middle class notions of what one may say than to politics.

ETA 2: Best reaction to Chait so far: I don’t know what to do, you guys | Fredrik deBoer

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Wonder Woman with sword and shield in 1947



I follow the comics field from a distance now, so while I'm not up to date on specific developments in the last couple of decades, I notice trends, like the popularity of putting Wonder Woman into armor. I don't like it—to me, the point of characters like Wonder Woman and Superman is that they don't need anything more than their wits and their supernatural abilities.

And in Wonder Woman's case, armor and weapons turn her into Warrior Woman, a character who owes more to Mars than any other Greek god.

That said, I love this cover.

An article every writer and would-be writer in the US should read

“Sponsored” by my husband: Why it’s a problem that writers never talk about where their money comes from - Salon.com

All she says applies to the fantasy and science fiction genre. I can't remember when I first noticed this—perhaps when I learned that Larry Niven came from a wealthy family.

Because it's my current obsession, I'll add that among the reasons I support universal basic income is my belief that everyone should be able to commit themselves to making art.

Because talking about money makes privileged people prickly, I'll add that some of my favorite people are rich. No one has ever conspired to be born with advantages—what matters is whether you work to give everyone else the same opportunities.

And yes, some people overcome the obstacles of their birth. In every case, luck is part of their story, or at the very least, the absence of bad luck is.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Recommended: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

The plots for Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries are only an excuse for things we like: the occasional amusing line and a very stylish heroine with jazz age morals who is surrounded by a solid cast of likable characters. David Brown of Radio Times sums it up well: "Just when you thought that all variations of the amateur-detective genre had been explored, along comes Miss Phryne Fisher, who sashays through the jazz clubs of 1920s Melbourne, tackling villains with her pearl-handled pistol. The plot's hardly revolutionary, but it is worth watching for lead actress Essie Davis, with her sleek bob and killer cheekbones, who runs bad guys to ground with both wit and raunch."

Friday, January 23, 2015

recommended: Obvious Child—and our cat has a drinking problem

Obvious Child is a great little romantic comedy with the sort of sensibilities that will offend some people, but charmed us. We laughed a lot, and we were impressed with the ending. It's hard to say what's best about it without giving away the ending, and I do not recommend googling it, because the ending will be given away. As usual, I pretty much agree with the Tomatometer's critic score, which in this case is a 90%.

If you see this on our recommendation and are offended, well, I'm sorry. Adult life has never been as simple as some people like to think it was.

As for our cat, just as we started the movie, I noticed something moving at the edge of my vision and glanced down. The cat had snagged a slice of my pizza and was pulling it onto the floor. As I reached for the pizza—in the hope that the five second rule would apply—my glass of beer was knocked over by the cat or by me, drenching the rug. I suspect I'll be washing it out, but if anyone asks about the smell of stale beer in the living room, Toby has a drinking problem.

The pizza slice was unsullied, and there was another beer in the fridge, so our feline master did not even have to fear the possibility of his serfs rebelling.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Recommended: Galavant

Emma and I think Galavant's great fun. An early episode had the funniest jousting scene I've ever seen. What more do you want? Cameos by Ricky Gervais and Weird Al Yankovic? It's got 'em. Two actors from Downton Abbey? Ditto. It's a little The Princess Bride and a little The Court Jester. It makes us happy.

Dance video: Bonya & Kuzmich (Kiesza - Hideaway)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The most communist commandment in the Bible is also a call for Basic Income

"Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD." —Leviticus 19:18

Jesus is recorded as saying in the three synoptic gospels that loving God is the greatest commandment and loving your neighbor is next—all the rest of the Bible hangs on those principles. His brother James wrote, "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well."

In its most extreme form, loving your neighbor as yourself calls for living as Jesus and his first followers did, sharing everything equally. But even in its softest form, it calls for making sure no one has less than you would want to have. If your minimum is the opportunity to work, it calls for a job program in any society that has more workers than work. If your minimum is education and health care, it calls for free education and universal health care. If your minimum is enough money to live without desperation, it calls for universal basic income.

The first parts of Leviticus 19:18 are useful for thinking about making a new society: don't seek vengeance and don't bear grudges—just treat everyone with love.

—Brother Will

How identitarianism hurt Selma

The historical and political issues in Selma includes this:
There is a political agenda involved. DuVernay said as much when she told Rolling Stone magazine that the original screenplay for Selma was changed because, “I wasn’t interested in making a white-savior movie.”
One of the dark secrets of Hollywood is that the shooting scripts of many movies are worse than the original scripts, thanks to a director or producer with more power than the writer. I've read the original script for Saving Private Ryan; so far as I remember, every one of Spielberg's changes weakened it. I haven't read the original script for Selma, so I can only speculate based on DuVernay's comment.

But this is my best guess: The story of the civil rights movement is a story of people of all races uniting to end the white supremacy promoted by the South's ruling class. But in that story, people like Johnson are important parts of ending segregation. DuVernay has classic Hollywood instincts that I first heard expressed in another movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance:  "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend." While claiming to be interested in the people, DuVernay wanted to make a black-savior movie instead of a movie about many human saviors.

Mind you, I still want to see Selma.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Martin Luther King Day should be Basic Income Day

In honor of the day, here are three short selections from Martin Luther King Jr.'s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

1
In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.
2
...the programs of the past all have another common failing — they are indirect. Each seeks to solve poverty by first solving something else.
I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective — the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.
3
The contemporary tendency in our society is to base our distribution on scarcity, which has vanished, and to compress our abundance into the overfed mouths of the middle and upper classes until they gag with superfluity. If democracy is to have breadth of meaning, it is necessary to adjust this inequity. It is not only moral, but it is also intelligent. We are wasting and degrading human life by clinging to archaic thinking.
The curse of poverty has no justification in our age. It is socially as cruel and blind as the practice of cannibalism at the dawn of civilization, when men ate each other because they had not yet learned to take food from the soil or to consume the abundant animal life around them. The time has come for us to civilize ourselves by the total, direct and immediate abolition of poverty.

On the idea that Charlie Hebdo "punched down" — Answering Saladin Ahmed

As I would expect, Saladin Ahmed has smart things to say in In an Unequal World, Mocking All Serves the Powerful. But he's wrong. I left this comment there:
Free speech does not protect the powerful—it protects the powerless from the powerful. In the case of Charlie Hebdo, the people with power had assault weapons, and they followed an ideology that's promoted by princes and financiers.
I'll add this now: Only the powerful can censor. To get the powerful to let others speak, we must convince them that ultimately, the agoura of ideas will let the best ideas prove themselves.

Related: The curious contradictions of censorial socialists, and a few comments about Charlie Hebdo


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


ETA: Tweeted this, which might be more succinct: No one who mocks people with guns or bombs is "punching down".

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Recommended: Agent Carter

Just saw this on tumblr:

claras-wintersoldier:

takiki16:

GUYS
WE CANNOT LET THIS SLIP THROUGH OUR FINGERS
PLEASE

If you can watch it through legal means, please do…..ABC.com, Hulu, iTunes, do it!

LEGAL LINKS (to view outside the US you can use Hola! or TunnelBear):
ABC
Hulu
CTV
iTunes ($)
Amazon ($)
claras-wintersoldier:
takiki16:
GUYS
WE CANNOT LET THIS SLIP THROUGH OUR FINGERS
PLEASE
If you can watch it through legal means, please do…..ABC.com, Hulu, iTunes, do it!
LEGAL LINKS (to view outside the US you can use Hola! or TunnelBear):

_____________
I like the show a lot. Hayley Atwell is great, and the show handles the period reasonably well. I do think they made a mistake by not starting off with her creating SHIELD, but this is only the first story arc, so I forgive them.

Unless it causes the show to be cancelled. Then I do not forgive them.

I suspect the show will do very well on DVD and Netflix/Amazon, because it's clearly designed as an 8-episode arc. If you haven't already, give it some love.

If anyone from ABC/Marvel is reading this: add a hunky black guy to the cast. My suggestion is a private eye who had been in the army. No, people who know less about race than they think they do, that would not be inappropriate. There's a strong argument that Sam Spade was inspired by a black PI: Finding Marlowe: Did this man inspire two of noir's iconic fictional detectives?

She's not racist—some of her best friends are white!

Whiteness is the theme of the day, with the emphasis on trash. At Facebook, a friend shared Ijeoma Oluo's When you suddenly find out you're white (with images, tweets) · IjeomaOluo · Storify and in the comments, someone else added @IjeomaOluo Has POC Chats With White People (with tweets) · Iamwhaleman · Storify.

My first comment there:
It is funny how "white" = "upper-middle-class" to people like her. For me, it'd be about getting a trucker hat and a job at Wal-mart.
Someone else said, "I couldn't see what she was responding to but, she sounds racist herself." So I added this:
I don't think she's exactly racist, though she's oblivious to the existence of the white working class. I think she's unintentionally doing what a lot of people from expensive schools do: she's using "white" as code for "bourgeois" without realizing she's totally bourgie herself.
Related: Malcolm X versus Critical Race Theorists, a pocket guide

Martin Luther King Jr. versus Critical Race Theorists, a pocket guide

Recommended: Trash Told Tales: An Anthology of White Trash Literature

This book is about half great and all interesting. It's not all successful, but in its way, that's a white trash thing—poor folk in general are quick to learn that "good enough" is sometimes better than perfect because you rarely have the time or money for perfect, and you're damn lucky if you have the time or money for good enough. So if I say this book is good enough to give four stars on Amazon, that's not an insult.

The editors described it well when they said,

This anthology is a collection of works that really speaks to the heart of the white trash aesthetic.  It features Southerners and those who have historically lived in conditions of institutional poverty as natural storytellers. In other words, it is about trashy people doing trashy things. 

The anthology is edited by prolific scholars on white trash culture/history and self-proclaimed white trash English professors.  The pieces range from radical and raunchy explorations to poignant accounts of being white trash.

For me, the prose pieces worked better than the poetry, but that says more about my taste. It's an anthology, so no one's going to like all the contents equally, but all of the pieces have their moments. If I was to write a story with a white trash setting, I'd reread the whole thing. The editor's contributions are as strong as their intentions; I hope they do more.

It's at Amazon for only $2.99: Trash Told Tales: An Anthology of White Trash Literature - Kindle edition by William Matthew McCarter, Vicki Sapp. Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com

"White Trash Beautiful" by Everlast

Recommended: New Grub Street by George Gissing

I've been reading New Grub Street in bits over the last months, and I can't explain why I'm giving it five of five stars at GoodReads, but I'll try.

The reasons I liked it:

I felt for the characters, even the ones I wouldn't have expected to.

I found the setting, London's literary world at the end of the 19th century, fascinating.

Gissing's a keen observer of human nature and how it's effected by money, and especially by the lack thereof.

Though some reviewers say Gissing is humorless and his style is only functional, I laughed a number of times at phrases I thought well-turned.

The reasons I wouldn't expect to give it five stars:

It's depressing. See my previous comment about human nature and money.

It's long in a way that tempts me to edit it. It's not exactly redundant, but it's leisurely in a way that modern writers are right to avoid. And yet, that could go under the reasons I liked it, because it did not bore me.

Perhaps the strongest recommendation is that almost everything Gissing says about publishing in general and writers in specific is true today.

I decided to try it after reading The 100 best novels: No 28 – New Grub Street by George Gissing (1891) | Books | The Guardian. If you're tempted to read the book, don't Google it much, or perhaps not at all—almost everyone gives away what happens in the last chapters. Alas, that's even true of the Guardian piece, but it doesn't dwell on the end, so you might forget it by the time you read the book.l

Friday, January 16, 2015

The curious contradictions of censorial socialists, and a few comments about Charlie Hebdo

1

The history of dictatorship and the history of censorship are one. The dictator's name reveals it: dictators say who may speak. Euripedes understood the oppressive nature of censorship—in The Phoenician Woman, he wrote, “This is slavery, not to speak one’s thought.” Tacitus knew the sweetness of free speech—in the Histories, he wrote, “It is the rare fortune of these days that one may think what one likes and say what one thinks.”

The printing press was the first great weapon in the war for free speech. Kings and priests fought it furiously—the English banned the Geneva Bible because its translation was insufficiently deferential to kings. But presses are expensive, and as A. J. Libling noted, "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one."

In 1842, as a young editor battling censorship, Karl Marx wrote, “The free press is the ubiquitous vigilant eye of a people's soul, the embodiment of a people's faith in itself, the eloquent link that connects the individual with the state and the world, the embodied culture that transforms material struggles into intellectual struggles and idealises their crude material form. It is a people's frank confession to itself, and the redeeming power of confession is well known. It is the spiritual mirror in which a people can see itself, and self-examination is the first condition of wisdom. It is the spirit of the state, which can be delivered into every cottage, cheaper than coal gas. It is all-sided, ubiquitous, omniscient. It is the ideal world which always wells up out of the real world and flows back into it with ever greater spiritual riches and renews its soul.”

Marx was not blind to the challenges that come with free speech. He noted, "You cannot enjoy the advantages of a free press without putting up with its inconveniences. You cannot pluck the rose without its thorns!"

But he knew those inconveniences are temporary, because free speech is self-correcting. In his words: “The true censorship, based on the very essence of freedom of the press, is criticism. This is the tribunal which freedom of the press gives rise to of itself."

In The Communist Manifesto, Marx and Engels called for "Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State." There’s no hint of approval of censorship there—the Manifesto calls for centralizing farms to feed people, not starve them. The internet has given us something like what Marx and Engels imagined, a place where speech is not controlled by the owners of presses.

2

The history of socialism overlaps three great struggles for equality, one over race (Marx said, “Labour cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded”), one over sex (the socialist Charles Fourier gave feminism its name), and one over speech. The socialist concern for free speech is partly tactical—capitalists have always tried to silence socialists. But the greater concern is the love of human progress. Where there is no debate, ideas are not tested, and science and art grow weak. In the decades after Marx’s paean to the free press, he revised and honed his thoughts, but he never withdrew his support for free speech.

Lenin showed he was Marx’s student when he promised, “Genuine freedom and equality will be embodied in the system which the communists are building and in which there will be no opportunity for amassing wealth at the expense of others, no objective opportunities for putting the press under the direct or indirect power of money, and no impediments in the way of any working man (or groups of working men, in any numbers) for enjoying and practising equal rights in the use of public printing presses and public stocks of paper.”

Mao followed the same reasoning when he said, "Two principles must be observed: (1) say all you know and say it without reserve; (2) Don't blame the speaker but take his words as a warning.  Unless the principle of 'Don't blame the speaker" is observed genuinely and not falsely, the result will not be 'Say all you know and say it without reserve.’"

Criticizing Stalin's censorship, Leon Trotsky said, "...only those blind or simpleminded could think that the workers and peasants could be freed from reactionary ideas by the banning of reactionary press. In fact, it is only the greatest freedom of expression that can create favorable conditions for the advance of the revolutionary movement in the working class."

The United States' most successful socialist politician, Eugene Debs, was imprisoned for a speech in which he announced: “I may not be able to say all I think; but I am not going to say anything that I do not think. I would rather a thousand times be a free soul in jail than to be a sycophant and coward in the streets.” Debs may have been remembering the words of Oscar Wilde, who wrote in The Soul of Man under Socialism, “even in prison, a man can be quite free. His soul can be free.”

For Wilde, as for most socialists, the goal of socialism is freeing the human soul everywhere.

But if that’s true, what gave birth to censorial socialists?

3

The first censorial socialists didn’t understand that the means shape the ends. Given the power to silence their opponents, they censored as gleefully as capitalists and monarchists had. Censorial socialists have always been rebuked by democratic socialists like George Orwell, who knew the right to free speech must include the right to offend. He wrote, "Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations,” and “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

A second group of censorial socialists began in the US in the 1970s. Liberal bourgeois thinkers at private schools for the United States’ economic elite like Derrick Bell, father of Critical Race Theory, and Kimberlé Crenshaw, coiner of “intersectionality”, promoted identity-based politics as an alternative to socialism's universal approach. Following the tradition of middle-class reformers like Thomas Bowdler and Anthony Comstock and ignoring both science and history, they taught that the right way to fight racism and sexism is by policing language.

Today’s censorial socialists ally with identitarian capitalists by calling for laws against hate crimes and hate speech—to them, an idea is the same as an act. In adopting the identitarian concept of justice, censorial socialists aid the forces they claim to oppose. As David Harvey noted in A Brief History of Neoliberalism, “Neoliberal rhetoric, with its foundational emphasis upon individual freedoms, has the power to split off libertarianism, identity politics, multi-culturalism, and eventually narcissistic consumerism from the social forces ranged in pursuit of social justice through the conquest of state power. It has long proved extremely difficult within the US left, for example, to forge the collective discipline required for political action to achieve social justice without offending the desire of political actors for individual freedom and for full recognition and expression of particular identities. Neoliberalism did not create these distinctions, but it could easily exploit, if not foment, them.”

4

These distinctions play out in the responses of socialists to the Islamist slaughter of the staff of Charlie Hebdo, an anti-authoritarian leftist humor magazine that, in the words of Charb, its murdered editor, mocks “priests, rabbis, and imams”.

Some socialists say cartoons mocking Muhammad are racist. They must not see any distinction between Middle-Easterners, a people, and Muslims, a religion, and must not make any distinctions among Muslims—Sunnis, Shias, Sufis, and Salafists are identical to them. They cannot know that The Qu’ran does not forbid depictions of Muhammad or any living thing—only conservative sects believe that's forbidden. They either believe that all Muslims are the same, or that the beliefs of conservative Muslims should trump those of liberal ones.

Some socialists say the European outrage over the massacre is over white people being killed. They must not know that Mustapha Ourrad was one of the murdered Charlie Hebdo workers or that the police victims include Ahmed Merabet, a Muslim, and Clarissa Jean-Philippe, a black woman.

Some socialists say the beliefs of conservative Muslims should be respected because they are the beliefs of the dispossessed. They must not notice that in every ideological war, the fighters in the front lines are poor—American soldiers and Zionist settlers are also among the world's dispossessed. Would those socialists argue that imperialism should be respected for the sake of the poor people who support it? They must not know that Wahhabism is promoted by some of the world’s wealthiest princes and financiers, or that the first great success of the founders of Al Qaeda was overthrowing Afghanistan’s socialist government with the aid of the United States. Like people who say a rape victim’s clothes were too provocative, they insist Charlie Hebdo’s speech was too offensive. It must please them that their allies include rightwing Christian opponents of free speech like Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League.

And some socialists mock the very idea of free speech. They say it is a liberal notion, failing to see any difference between liberal philosophy and liberal capitalism. They recognize that bourgeois free speech, like bourgeois democracy, is run for and by the bourgeoisie, but instead of demanding free speech for all, they petition their bourgeois rulers to ban the speech that offends them. They cannot see a simple truth: Censorship has always been the tool of the oppressor. Free speech is to the tool of the liberator.

ETA: From Political correctness devours its own children | Nick Cohen: Writing from London: "...Trotsky’s warning about the Bolshevik party’s claim that it represented the working class. A rapid descent follows, Trotsky said: “The organisation of the party substitutes itself for the party as a whole; then the Central Committee substitutes itself for the organisation; and finally the ‘dictator’ substitutes himself for the Central Committee.”"

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Three examples of the problem with children inheriting copyright

MLK family feud continues without judge's ruling | MSNBC: "...the Kings aren’t the only family with a civil rights legacy to have public squabbles. The daughters of human rights activist Malcolm X previously sued to block a book deal, signed by one sister, to publish their father’s diary that documented his pilgrimage to Mecca and his travels across the Middle East and Africa. And a collection of valuable mementos belonging to civil rights activist Rosa Parks has sat unsold in a New York City warehouse for years because of a prolonged battle over her estate."

movie recommendation: Wild

Really, really liked Wild. It opens with a scene that may make you wince, and I didn't trust the filmmakers for the first ten or fifteen minutes. Then I realized it's a great little movie. Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern are great, and so's the scenery. It's consistently surprising—sometimes very funny, sometimes very sad, sometimes very sexual (but not sensuous, a distinction you probably will not understand until after you see the movie).

Monday, January 12, 2015

An essentail bit from "Stereotyping White Working-Class Voters"

Stereotyping White Working-Class Voters | Working-Class Perspectives:
In 2012 middle-class whites gave President Obama 42% of their votes while working-class whites gave him only 36% — a six-point difference, which widened to seven points in 2014 U.S. House races.
Even so, the gaps are typically much larger when we look at differences among white voters by gender (9 points in 2014); region (in 2008 Southern whites of all classes voted from 17 to 22 points less Dem than those in other regions); income (where whites making less than $50,000 a year typically vote more Dem than those making more than that); and religion. In 2014, only 26% of white Protestants voted for House Democrats, 12 points less than white Catholics, and about 40 points less than whites who identified themselves as Jewish or as having no religion. Why is there no discussion of what’s the matter with white Protestants, who are still about 40% of all U.S. voters and much more Republican than working-class whites? Cultural and economic conservatism, often accompanied by “racial resentfulness,” are present (and absent) in all white demographics, and the variation by class is likely less than by gender, region, income, and religion.
The whole thing isn't long. Read it, sez moi.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

For anyone who thinks Charlie Hebdo is a racist magazine

At Charlie Hebdo: The French satirical magazine is heroic. It is also racist., I left this comment:
How is it racist to mock rabbis, priests, and imams? Does racist now mean someone who opposes all religious authority? Anyone who thinks Charlie Hebdo is racist should read their Wikipedia entry and follow the links to their source.
That was inspired by Charb, the slain editor of Charlie Hebdo, who wrote in No, "Charlie Hebdo" is not racist!:
Although it is less easy than in 1970, we will continue to laugh (at) priests, rabbis and imams, like it or not.
Actual French racists hate Charlie Hebdo. See Attentat à Charlie Hebdo - Jean-Marie Le Pen : "Moi, je suis désolé, je ne suis pas Charlie".

And if you want a brief look at the people who were killed for their cartoons, see BBC News - Charlie Hebdo attack: Victim obituaries.


Here's the intro to Charlie Hebdo - Wikipedia:

Charlie Hebdo (French pronunciation: ​[ʃaʁli ɛbdo]; French for Weekly Charlie) is a French satirical weekly newspaper, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication describes itself as strongly anti-racist[3] and left-wing, publishing articles on the extreme right, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, politics, culture, etc. According to its former editor, Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), the magazine's editorial viewpoint reflects "all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers".[4]
If Charlie Hebdo is racist, the race it mocks is human.

ETA:
("It's necessary to censor Charlie Hebdo!")

ETA 2: Here's a poster Charb did for MRAP, the Mouvement contre le racisme et pour l'amitié entre les peuples (Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples):

 ("I would hire you, but I don't like the color of ... uh ... your tie!")

ETA 3: 12 Striking Charlie Hebdo Front Covers

ETA 4: More anti-racist cartoons: The Charlie Hebdo cartoons no one is showing you

ETA 5: On not understanding "Charlie:" Why many smart people are getting it wrong

ETA 6: Je suis Bezbozhnik | The Charnel-House

ETA 7: The Charlie Hebdo tragedy: The five crowds that are getting it wrong

ETA 8: "If Charlie Is Racist Then I Am" by Zineb El Rhazoui

ETA 9: On the idea that Charlie Hebdo "punched down" — Answering Saladin Ahmed

ETA 10: Charlie Hebdo: we got it wrong

Friday, January 9, 2015

Excluded by intersectionality: Autumn Mae Steele

Iowa cop reportedly tries to shoot dog, kills woman instead - The Washington Post

The article has links to other cases of cops shooting at dogs and killing people, including other cops. This is only the most recent I've seen.

Walt Whitman's argument for Basic Income


Without a right to free speech, you do not have a right to say you're offended

There are two popular stories on the internet now about free speech and being offended. Oddly, some people are simultaneously citing one as a reason why speech should stop short of offending people and the other as a reason why people should speak out against those who are offended. The first is the Charlie Hebdo massacre; fans of hate speech laws say Charlie Hebdo went too far. The second is the possible bombing of the Colorado Springs NAACP office by someone who was offended by the NAACP's existence.

Now, at the time I'm writing, we don't know whether the arsonist was targeting the NAACP or the store next to it. Usually, terrorists take credit for what they've done with press releases or graffiti. But let's assume that the target was the NAACP office and the bomber was offended by what the NAACP believes. Does being offended give you the right to silence the people at whom you're taking offense?

Stephen Fry has a fine answer:


Offended people love to share the fact they're offended. They forget that the right to free speech protects their right to tell anyone who will listen that they're offended.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why Steve Trevor is the best male role model ever


This is a fairly recent image, but Wonder Woman has been saving Trevor's butt for as long as she's existed, and he's never been threatened by it, nor has he ever been emasculated by it. As I've said before and will say again, that relationship is my model for my relationship with Emma.

(I understand why lesbians want Wonder Woman to be a lesbian. What they don't understand is that a lesbian on Paradise Island is no different than a straight man in the US. To Amazons, Wonder Woman's love for Steve Trevor is queer.)

The love of censorship unites dictatorial communists, identitarian feminists, and rightwing Catholics

If you value free speech, read the following for a little outrage. Or if you value censorship, read them for comfort:

An identitarian feminist: Unpopular Opinion: Satire Should Punch Up. Charlie Hebdo Did Not. | Miss Kitty Stryker

A rightwing Catholic: MUSLIMS ARE RIGHT TO BE ANGRY - Catholic League

And a few dictatorial communists at reddit: Why I don't support the racist rag Charlie Hebdo (taken from Facebook) : communism

Recommended: Muslims of reddit, are you offended when someone draws a picture of Muhammad? Why or why not? : AskReddit

JE SUIS CHARLIE? IT’S A BIT LATE by Kenan Malik

ETA: I'm rather pleased that I've been banned from r/communism. My socialism is democratic, not dictatorial. I will never understand the identitarian communists who swallowed identitarianism from its liberal bourgeois promoters, but then, whenever I wonder if I'm a Marxist, I remember that Marx looked at some self-proclaimed Marxists and concluded he wasn't one either.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Basic Income would bring a new creative renaissance

Within a few minutes, my web-surfing brought me to three things:

At 2014: Some (Honest) Publishing Numbers, and (Almost) Throwing in the Towel, Kameron Hurley talks about the astonishing amount of promotion she does for her work.

At Business Musings: Things I Learned (Or Relearned) in 2014, under the subtitle "Success Costs Money", Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes, "Those investments I mentioned above, those wrong roads? Sometimes they happen because people like me try many roads and experiment and take chances. Those chances cost money too, but they always have a good return on the investment."

At Basic Income and it's Effect on Video Game Kickstarters, eightbitbeard says, "A basic income has the potential to usher in a new creative renaissance unlike anything the world has ever known. "

There are truths about art that are rarely discussed in polite company, and this is one: For most of history, making art for a living has been a privilege of the middle and upper classes. We go to the expensive schools where we learn the fashionable techniques and make the connections that will advance our careers. We can spend money on things that might help our careers and know we're not risking homelessness when we do. This is not to say we don't work hard—many people who benefit from lucky births work extremely hard (though they usually fail to realize that the opportunity to do their form of hard work is a great privilege). It's only to say that if you love art, you should love the opportunity for more people to make it.

Basic income doesn't level the playing field. But it gives people a chance to play who currently can't afford the uniform or the training that would let them on the field.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Excluded by intersectionality: Keith Vidal (plus a note about the series and "the talk")

Cop shoots dead a tased, restrained, 100lb teen: "we don't have time for this" - Boing Boing:
Mark Wilsey, identified as Vidal's father, told reporters that his family had called the police to help get his son to a mental evaluation during a 'schizophrenic incident' in which Vidal had picked up a small screwdriver.

Two officers were able to calm Vidal, reported Star News Online. A third arrived and entered the family's home, and the teen was tased and restrained on that officer's instructions, then shot in the chest.
I'm discontinuing my blog that focused on identitarianism and call-out culture, but I'll continue the excluded by intersectionality series here. In cruising the web, I've noticed that the believers in "insectionality" only care about the intersection of women and people of color, thereby excluding white men, which creates a world in which poverty and police abuse seem to be racial and gender issues rather than universal ones. Unfortunately, the US government does not keep standardized records of police killings of innocent people, but we have enough data to know that anyone who makes any comment about race in the US without acknowledging class is creating a very simplistic picture of the world. So I'm noting extreme cases of injustice affecting white men and boys because the simple truth is injustice, especially involving our increasingly militarized police force, affects everyone.

Every parent should give their child "the talk" about how police may not be your friend and should be treated with the same respect you would treat any potentially lethal creature. I got "the talk" when I was a boy because my father was involved in civil rights and war protests.

Mind you, "the talk" is not anti-cop. There are some fine people I know who are or have been cops. "The talk" is simply realistic. Sometimes the system railroads people. Sometimes bad cops use the system as a shield. One way to tell the difference between a good cop and a bad cop is to listen to whether the cop agrees that the current system needs fixing.

ETA: 10 Rules for Dealing with Cops, By a Cop

Basic Income's effect on creativity

From Cash or Copyright or Real Creativity? | naked capitalism:
...A series of studies by Edward Deci and Richard Ryan Teresa Amabile, and others, have shown that primary school kids don’t learn to read if they’re paid to, artists produce their worst work when they’re commissioned to produce it, and people get worse at solving puzzles if you reward them for successful solutions. 
The reason for this? Creativity is closely linked to motivation, and humans become creative when they’re internally motivated by curiosity or interest or desire. They get demotivated — and less creative – when you introduce money into the equation.
If you want people to be creative, free them to create. Basic income does that. For creators, the ultimate reward is the creation itself.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Humans Need Not Apply: One reason Basic Income is necessary



Martin Luther King Jr. said, "We are demanding an emergency program to provide employment for everyone in need of a job, or if a work program is impractical, a guaranteed annual income at levels that sustain life in decent circumstances. It is now incontestable that the wealth and resources of the United States make the elimination of poverty absolutely practical." (Emphasis mine—universal employment becomes less possible every day, and this is ultimately a good thing. People should be free to work on what they believe is good or necessary.)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

My New Year's Resolution

I'm going to spend more time promoting Basic Income, which I love because it's a universal approach to problems, and less time on the identitarians who are desperate to divide us in any way they can. Which may boil down to "Accentuate the positive."

Here's what may be the original, by the writer, Johnny Mercer, with the Pied Pipers:



And here's the eternally cool Ella Fitzgerald's version:

An Adam Smith quote for supporters of Basic Income

"All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind." —Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

And today's related news article: For the Wealthiest Political Donors, It Was a Very Good Year - Bloomberg Politics: "Three of the country's wealthiest political contributors each saw their net worth grow in 2014 by more than $3.7 billion, the entire cost of the midterm elections." Fans of Democrats should be happy that two of them support Democrats, or as Adam Smith might have called them, the left wing of the masters of mankind.