Friday, September 22, 2017

Why socialists should support Basic Income

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

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

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

I left three comments there:

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

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

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

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Understanding the Internet 101: Kill All Normies


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

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

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

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

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

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

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

Bonus:

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

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

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

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Hypocrisy of Privilege Theory

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

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

Give all men the vote.

Give women the vote.

Give us an 8-hour work day.

End legal segregation.

End the Vietnam War.

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

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

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

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

Here ends the sermon. Happy Labor Day!

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

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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

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

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

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

Antifa Broke My Camera | New Republic

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

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

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

The Antifa Protests Are Helping Donald Trump | The New Yorker

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

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

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



Earlier:

Five things about Antifa and non-violent reisistence

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

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

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

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

Related:

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

Friday, September 1, 2017

Five things about Antifa and non-violent reisistence

In a private Facebook group, I said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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