Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Naming the four waves of social justice

1. The Catholic Wave

"Social justice" began as a Catholic concept developed in the 1840s by Father Luigi Tapparelli as an alternative to democracy and communism. Its earliest concept was a Catholic version of noblesse oblige: everyone should respect God's social hierarchy, but the rich should treat poorer people with respect and help them with charity.

In the 1930s, the antisemitic Father Charles Coughlin created the National Union for Social Justice and published a periodical titled Social Justice that attacked Jews, atheists, and Communists as the enemies of God. But Coughlin did not destroy the reputation of "social justice". Good Catholics like Dorothy Day and Father Dom Helder Camara worked hard to help the poor under that label.

This wave continues with Catholicism to the present day.

2. The Interdenominational Wave

During the 20th century, the idea of social justice spread from the Catholicism to Protestantism and Judaism. The phrase was not common in the civil rights era because it was still primarily a theological concept, but the focus in this wave began expanding from poverty to racial and gender inequality.

3. The Identitarian Wave

The term moved into the secular community in the 1980s as an umbrella term for third wave feminism and antiracism. As it did, the original concern with poverty was subordinated to focus on social inequality. And as that happened, the idea that everyone should be treated with respect was lost. Though many of them were atheists, the third wave's "social justice warriors" mocked and abused their opponents like Crusaders mocking heretics.

4.  The Democratic Socialist Wave

The millennials  saw that economic and social justice are entwined. This wave is so new that its differences with the third wave didn't become obvious until Clinton Democrats began trying to suppress Sanders Democrats. It's too early to know what form the fourth wave will take, but I'm optimistic. The kids are the future, no matter how hard the third wave works to defeat them.

Related: Naming the four waves of fighting racism and sexism

ETA: On Facebook, I was asked if we're now in the Antifa Wave. I answered,
It's hard for me to categorize Antifa because they're intellectually a mess, so far as I can tell. They're angry, they have no respect for their opponents, and they're obsessed with symbolic rather than practical matters, so I hope they're the last gasp of the third wave.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Free speech, not street violence, ended Milo Yiannopoulos's career

At A Statement On Yiannopoulos and the Berkeley Protests, Ander told Steve Brust,
I like your article, it was written thoughtfully and I’m happy to know you’re out there fighting for democractic socialism.
MILO’s platform is ethnic cleansing. His LED billboard at the event read “Support Women and Homosexuals, Purge Your Local Illegals” and listed ICE’s phone number.
He wanted to use federal forces to violently detain and deport our communities, so we shut him down by any means necessary. Not all events will look like what happened at Berkley, but it definitely isn’t a bad thing to have some collectives practicing black bloc tactics.
I said,
Ander, there are two issues here.
Are Milo’s views reprehensible? Yes.
Do you want to promote his views by making him more famous? I would hope not. Yet by denying him the right to speak, you gave him more attention.
Please note that what seems to have killed his career was not your attempt to silence him, but the attempt by other conservatives to share and denounce his words on sex with young people. The protests in the street only helped him. Free speech ultimately did him in.

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.
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.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Socialism of Fools, Part 2: The Logic of Antisemitism is the Logic of Identitarianism

Previously: The Socialism of Fools, Part 1: Antisemitism and Malcolm X, Derrick Bell, and Louis Farrakhan

“Antisemitism is the Socialism of fools.” —a saying of German social democrats at the end of the 19th century, attributed by August Bebel to Ferdinand Kronawetter

Third wave feminists and antiracists believe white Americans are privileged because they are on average wealthier than black and Hispanic Americans. This ignores the fact that Hindu and Jewish Americans are the richest religious groups in the US, which means that everything identitarians say about white Americans logically applies to American Jews.

Being a socialist, I reject this logic. People of every race, ethnicity, and gender can be found in the working class, and therefore I will do all I can to support all of them. This is why socialism is so prominent in the histories of feminism and civil rights.

But if you see power in terms of social identity, you should believe:
1. American antisemites aren't racist because "racism equals prejudice plus power". Jewish Americans as a group have far more economic and political power; therefore antisemites can't be racist.

2. Jewish Americans are racist because they grew up with Jewish American privilege.

3. When Jewish Americans lecture people in a condescending way, they're Jewsplaining. Antisemites can't antisemitesplain because antisemites don't have equivalent power.

4. Jewish Americans should shut up and listen when antisemites explain how Jewish privilege works in America.

5. American Jews who say not all Jews are rich or racist should be mocked as "special snowflakes" who think they're exceptions to the truth antisemites see.

6. American Jews who get upset when presented with examples of Jewish privilege should be mocked for their "Jewish tears".
This is the insane logic of people who accept superficial explanations. The reason Jewish Americans are disproportionately wealthy is simple: The first wave of Jewish immigrants were wealthy, which explains the disproportionate number of Jewish slaveowners—when slavery was part of our economy, slaveowners came from every group, including rich black women like the Widow C. Richards. The second wave of Jewish immigration brought many poor Jews who were fleeing persecution, but it also included wealthy ones, so Jewish immigrants in general continued to have more resources to start businesses than other groups.

But understanding the reasons for disproportionate ethnic wealth calls for understanding history and capitalism. Identitarians on the left and right are content with a shallow understanding of both.

The Socialism of Fools, Part 1: Antisemitism and Malcolm X, Derrick Bell, and Louis Farrakhan

Malcolm X accepted the antisemitism of Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam when he was with them. Forward, a Yiddish newspaper, wrote in 1963:
When Malcolm X was asked whether the Black Muslims are anti-Semitic, he replied: “Many Jews have guilt feelings when people talk about ‘exploitation.’ This is because they know that they control 90 percent of the businesses in black communities, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And they benefit more from black buying power than blacks do from other parts of the white community. So they feel guilty about it.” He also complained that Jews can be found on the boards of such organizations as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but, he continued, “the same Jews won’t let you become president of B’nai B’rith, or any of their other organizations.” Although Malcolm X denied that his organization is anti-Semitic, his comments left many wondering if that is genuinely true.
When Malcolm X left NOI in 1964, his understanding of power changed. He said,
I totally reject Elijah Muhammad's racist philosophy, which he has labeled 'Islam' only to fool and misuse gullible people as he fooled and misused me. But I blame only myself, and no one else for the fool that I was, and the harm that my evangelical foolishness on his behalf has done to others.
This story by Richard Sanders Rosenthal illustrates his new attitude toward Jews:
In 1963 or 1964, I attended a meeting of the Young Socialists Club at Wayne State University in Detroit at which Malcolm spoke. He sat down following his speech, and then the moderator, who had a Jewish name, opened the meeting to questions from the audience.

The first person the moderator recognized for a question was a black man who didn't have a question at all. Instead he launched into an anti-Semitic diatribe.

Malcolm listened to it for an extended moment, then, when its tenor was unmistakable and it was clear the harangue would (be permitted to) continue, he rose from his chair on the stage and ambled to the lectern.

This is what Malcolm said to the best of my recollection - and I'm certain my memory of what he said is very close to his actual words and very likely exact: ''I suspect our moderator today is Jewish and I won't put him in the position of silencing you. So I will. Now shut up and sit down.''
And this illustrates his new-found universalism:
"...my dearest friends have come to include all kinds -- some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists—some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!"
After Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were killed, their approach fell out of favor. In the '80s, Critical Race Theory was developed by Derrick Bell and his Ivy League students, including Kimberlé Crenshaw, who gave "intersectionality" to third wave feminism. The Critical Race Theorists promoted ideas such as "all white people are racist because they grew up in a racist society" and "racism equals prejudice plus power, and since black people don't have power, they can't be racist."

This willingness to accept a superficial understanding of power and racism may explain why Derrick Bell admired the Nation of Islam's current leader, Louis Farrakhan. In 1992, Bell said,
Smart and super articulate, Minister Farrakhan is perhaps the best living example of a black man ready, willing and able to ‘tell it like it is’ regarding who is responsible for racism in this country. 
Farrakhan's ability to "tell it like it is" was profoundly antisemitic—he was Elijah Muhammad's heir in all ways. The Anti-Defamation League's Farrakhan In His Own Words includes this:
During his keynote address to 18,000 people at the NOI's 2014 Saviours' Day convention at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Farrakhan likened himself to auto magnate Henry Ford, who promoted anti-Semitic conspiracies in the 1920s in The Inter­na­tional Jew: the World’s Fore­most Prob­lem. Far­rakhan called Ford “a great man who was called an anti-Semite” and added, “I feel like I’m in good company.” In Part 2 of his Saviours’ Day address at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Farrakhan received a standing ovation after telling his audience that “the Satanic Jews that control everything and mostly everybody, if they are your enemy, then you must be somebody.”
A few more examples of Farrakhan telling it like Derrick Bell thought it is "regarding who is responsible for racism in this country" from Louis Farrakhan | Southern Poverty Law Center:
"The Jews, a small handful, control the movement of this great nation, like a radar controls the movement of a great ship in the waters … the Jews got a stranglehold on the Congress."
— Louis Farrakhan, Saviour's Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 25, 1990

"And you do with me as is written, but remember that I have warned you that Allah will punish you. You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell. But I warn you in the name of Allah, you would be wise to leave me alone. But if you choose to crucify me, know that Allah will crucify you."
— Louis Farrakhan, Saviour's Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 25, 1996

"And the Christian right, with your blindness to that wicked state of Israel … can that be the holy land, and you have gay parades, and want to permit to have a gay parade in Jerusalem when no prophet ever sanctioned that behavior. How can that be the Israel, how can that be Jerusalem with secular people running the holy land when it should be the holy people running the holy land. That land is gonna be cleansed with blood!"
— Louis Farrakhan, Saviour's Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 26, 2006

"We can now present to our people and the world a true, undeniable record of the relationship between Blacks and Jews from their own mouths and pens. These scholars, Rabbis and historians [that Nation of Islam researchers studied] have given to us an undeniable record of Jewish anti-Black behavior, starting with the horror of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, plantation slavery, Jim Crow, sharecropping, the labor movement of the North and South, the unions and the misuse of our people that continues to this very moment."
— Letter sent by Louis Farrakahn to Jewish leaders and the Southern Poverty Law Center, June 24, 2010.

“Osama Bin Laden didn’t destroy the Twin Towers. that was a false flag operation to take the world’s attention away from the great disunity in America after George W. Bush stole the election.”
—Louis Farrakhan “The Final Call” March 15, 2016
Related: The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, Where Racism and Anti-Racism Intersect

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Intertwining of Islamism, Identitarianism, and Neoliberalism, and the Four Waves of Socialism

After writing Naming the four waves of fighting racism and sexism, I'm thinking a little more about the '80s and early '90s when it seemed capitalism had defeated socialism. Three developments took off then:

Islamism's first major triumph came when Reagan helped the mujahideen overthrow the socialist government of Afghanistan that had granted equal rights to women and promoted universal education. Bin Laden took what he learned with the mujahideen to create Al Qaeda and thereby established the dominant model for opposing western imperialism in the Middle East.

Neoliberalism took baby steps in the '70s under Carter, but its right wing, neoconservatism, flourished under Reagan. The New Democrats of the Democratic Party answered neoconservatism with neoliberalism, agreeing that taxes on the rich should continue to be lowered and public services should continue to be cut.

Identitarianism took off in the '80s with the writings of black Ivy League academics like Derrick Bell and the Critical Race Theory crowd who wanted to fight racism without criticizing capitalism like King and Malcolm X. Kimberle Crenshaw brought what she had learned from CRT into feminism under the rubric of intersectionality.

What united all three was the belief that socialism had failed. For Democrats, that meant moving to the right and helping to weaken the public sector. For Middle Eastern rebels, that meant embracing Islamism as the opposition to capitalism. And for left-identitarians, that meant explaining racism and sexism as forms of human weakness and adopting the Catholic concept of social justice in which the benevolent rich are expected to aid the penitent poor.

The resurgence of socialism has me wondering which socialist wave we're in. I'll tentatively propose these:

First wave socialism runs from Fourier to the Russian Revolution. Call it the age of Theoretical Socialism.

Second wave socialism runs up to China's economic reforms in the late '70s and the dissolution of the USSR in '91. Call it the age of Authoritarian Socialism.

Third wave socialism is the main current model. I'm tempted to call it Capitalist Socialism because it's a very capitalist-friendly version of socialism that has produced billionaires in China. Maybe it's Neoliberal Socialism.

But I see signs of a fourth wave. It may finally be the democratic socialism that Marx first imagined, and Eugene Debs and George Orwell promoted, and Bernie Sanders supports. I hope I live to see it.

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

Naming the four waves of fighting racism and sexism

It's easy to discuss the first three waves of feminism because the movement has had a single name since Charles Fourier coined the word in 1837. Feminists argue about whether there's a fourth wave of feminism—as you'll see below, I believe there is.

Opposing racism hasn't had one name. The first wave in the US was generally discussed as abolition or equal rights; the second, as civil rights, and the third, as antiracism. For convenience's sake, I will use "antiracism" to parallel "feminism", but remember it's ahistorical: the Oxford English Dictionary says the word first appeared in 1938, and it was almost never used before 1985, and it's less popular now than it was. Properly, it's the name of the third wave only.

1. Separate but equal.

First wave feminism and antiracism culminated in voting and property rights, but the law let the worlds of men and white people remain segregated. Employers could pay workers less because of their social identity, and businesses could treat customers worse.

2. Integration, or civil rights.

Second wave feminism and antiracism fought to end the impossible goal of "separate but equal" by ending unfair treatment in the work place, the market place, and schools.

3. Identitarianism, or social justice.

Third wave feminism and antiracism saw economic differences persist despite the victories of the first and second waves. Second-wave champions like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X blamed capitalism for that, but identitarians believed human nature was responsible. Much of their rhetoric, such as the idea that racism is America's original sin, came from churches, as did the religious concept of social justice.

4. Democratic socialism, or economic justice.

Democratic socialist feminists and antiracists see that social equality and economic equality cannot be separated, and that politicians' economic policies matter more than their social identity. The clash between the third and fourth waves is being played out now in the Democratic Party, as Clinton supporters from the third wave compete with Sanders supporters from the fourth. Clinton won the primary battle, and we won't know until the end of the month whether her supporters will win the battle for the leadership of the Democratic Party, but we know who will ultimately win: More young people voted for Bernie Sanders than Trump and Clinton combined — by a lot.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Puttin' People on the Moon—an alt-country take on Whitey on the Moon

Just got email pointing out Drive By Trucker's "Puttin' People on the Moon" is a white version of "Whitey on the Moon".


Mary Alice had a baby and he looked just like I did
We got married on a Monday and I been working ever since
Every week down at the Ford Plant but now they say they're shutting down
God damned Reagan in the White House and no one there gives a damn

Double Digit unemployment, TVA be shutting soon
While over there in Huntsville, They puttin' people on the moon

So I took to runnin' numbers for this man I used to know
And I sell a few narcotics and I sell a little blow
I ain't getting rich now but I'm gettin' more than by
It's really tough to make a living but a man just got to try

If I died in Colbert County, Would it make the evening news?
They too busy blowin' rockets, Puttin' people on the moon

Mary Alice quit askin' why I do the things I do
I ain't sayin' that she likes it, but what else I'm gonna do?
If I could solve the world's problems I'd probably start with hers and mine
But they can put a man on the moon
And I'm stuck in Muscle Shoals just barely scraping by

Mary Alice got cancer just like everybody here
Seems everyone I know is gettin' cancer every year
And we can't afford no insurance, I been 10 years unemployed
So she didn't get no chemo so our lives was destroyed
And nothin' ever changes, the cemetery gets more full
And now over there in Huntsville, even NASA's shut down too

Another Joker in the White House, said a change was comin' round
But I'm still workin' at The Wal Mart and Mary Alice, in the ground
And all them politicians, they all lyin' sacks of shit
They say better days upon us but I'm sucking left hind tit
And the preacher on the TV says it ain't too late for me
But I bet he drives a Cadillac and I'm broke with some hungry mouths to feed

I wish I'z still an outlaw, was a better way of life
I could clothe and feed my family still have time to love my pretty wife
And if you say I'm being punished. Ain't he got better things to do?
Turnin' mountains into oceans Puttin' people on the moon

Turnin' mountains into oceans Puttin' people on the moon

Written by Patterson Hood • Copyright © The Bicycle Music Company

Friday, February 3, 2017

How to tell someone's parroting what they read about King's Birmingham Jail letter

Whitey on the Moon (Things identitarians miss)

"Whitey on the Moon" is a great song that's often mentioned when talking about race in the '60s.

But the verses could have been sung by a poor white cracker. The use of "Whitey" makes people assume the song is about race, but it's not about a middle-class black person's life. "Whitey" is just a personification of the rich as seen by a poor black in the city—if a white sang the same song, that word might be changed, but not one other word would be.
Whitey on the Moon:

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)

I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)

The man jus' upped my rent las' night.
('cause Whitey's on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey's on the moon)

I wonder why he's uppi' me?
('cause Whitey's on the moon?)
I was already payin' 'im fifty a week.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Taxes takin' my whole damn check,
Junkies makin' me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is goin' up,
An' as if all that shit wasn't enough

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face an' arm began to swell.
(but Whitey's on the moon)

Was all that money I made las' year
(for Whitey on the moon?)
How come there ain't no money here?
(Hm! Whitey's on the moon)
Y'know I jus' 'bout had my fill
(of Whitey on the moon)
I think I'll sen' these doctor bills,
Airmail special
(to Whitey on the moon)

Written by Gil Scott-Heron • Copyright © Carlin America Inc
ETA: Whitey on Mars: Is a mission to Mars morally defensible given today’s real needs? | Aeon Essays