Monday, August 28, 2017

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

"Without general elections, without freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, without the free battle of opinions, life in every public institution withers away, becomes a caricature of itself, and bureaucracy rises as the only deciding factor." —Rosa Luxemburg

I share this today because the poor guy who was attacked by Antifa for holding a sign saying "The Right to Openly Discuss Ideas Must be Defended" would've really put Antifa on the spot if his sign had said "The free battle of opinions must be defended. Rosa Luxemburg was right."

"Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters." —Rosa Luxemburg

Thursday, August 24, 2017

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

At the end of July, the Southern Poverty Law Center posted this in Neo-Nazi Misfits Join Unite the Right | Southern Poverty Law Center:
Over the weekend, the country’s largest neo-Nazi group announced plans to attend an alt-right rally next month in Charlottesville, Virginia, which is expected to draw thousands of extremists.
The actual turnout? The best estimates I've seen were around 500.* The killing of Heather Heyer overshadowed the truth: Charlottesville was supposed to be a show of strength. It was instead a show of political irrelevance. My suspicion is the leaders of the alt-right were grateful for the counter-protesters who gave them an excuse to cancel their own protests. They knew the numbers that would show up on their side would be tiny.

I congratulate the peaceful counter-protesters who came out in the thousands and tens of thousands to show how very insignificant the alt-right is. It's a shame a few on the left used this an excuse to engage in violence instead.

* The estimates I've seen range from 300 to 700. Based on the videos, the lower numbers look more plausible than the higher ones.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Identitarian excess: Dick Gregory has to defend his book from students

Dick Gregory writes to student protesters about which battles matter most (essay):
Recently, the young brothers and sisters of MRC Student Coalition at Matteo Ricci College, Seattle University, have taken up such a fight based on curriculum concerns. This protest, however, has become personal for me, since it is in part centered on my autobiography entitled Nigger, and the fact that some students became offended when Jodi Kelly, dean of Matteo Ricci College, recommended Nigger to a student to read.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Mobbings of Mark Fisher, Freddie deBoer, and Leftists who Criticize the Identitarian Left

I can't say for sure that Mark Fisher killed himself because he was mobbed by the identitarian left, but I suspect it, and I'm not alone in that.

I can't say for sure that Freddie deBoer broke because he was mobbed by the identitarian left, but...

I can't say for sure that the leftists I see suffering online (whose names I will protect) are suffering because they were mobbed by the identitarian left, but...

I can say for sure that the identitarian left broke me.

I was mobbed in 2009. My sins were rejecting race reductionism and, because I didn't know about Poe's Law at the time, being ignorant enough to ironically say I was outing someone who was using her full legal name in public posts on her LiveJournal. My mob was more heavily weighted toward neo-liberals than those that targeted Fisher, deBoer, and others—my mob hated talking about class so much they made it a square on their racist bingo card—but the differences in the mobs are smaller than the similarities. All of the mobs involve peers who ought to have been able to engage in civil debate, but instead relied on everything from mischaracterizations to anonymous death threats.

After I was mobbed, a friend, a tough guy who I never would've expected this recommendation from, told me that Judy Blume's Blubber should be required reading for everyone on the internet. If you understand the fifth-graders who bully with name-calling, lies, and innuendo, you understand half of the problem.

But the second half, the effect on the victim, gets less attention. After I was mobbed, I couldn't understand why I was so depressed, why I couldn't concentrate on my work, why suicide seemed like a reasonable solution. So I began researching mobbing. That resulted in these posts:

Mobbing drives people a little—or a lot—mad

How to survive a mobbing (that mostly happens online)

Humans are herd animals. The cruelest thing we can do is drive our fellows out of the herd, and yet we do it with hardly a thought. Now that I understand mobbing, I'm a bit surprised it leads to few mass murders—but then, if it led to more, it would get more attention. The mobbed usually turn on themselves. Their suicides are assumed to come from depression, and few people ask what factors made their depression fatal. The slower ways that mobbing kills, the stress-related heart attacks and deaths from drug or alcohol-abuse, are even more easily disconnected from mobbing. Those who have not been mobbed think it's something that can be easily shaken off. One friend doubted the possibility that Mark Fisher's suicide was connected to a mobbing that had happened four years earlier. I pointed out that my mobbing happened eight years ago and its effects are still with me. I expect to die with them.

Mobbers are bullies who use everything but fists. When their targets break, they mock them for breaking. That's already happened in Freddie's case—you can see a few despicable people at work at Freddie DeBoer's Dank Meme Stash*.

Good luck, Freddie deBoer. Rest in peace, Mark Fisher.

*

*Facebook group either deleted or private now.

Recommended:

I’m fed up with political correctness, and the idea that everyone should already be perfect  by Fredrik deBoer

Exiting the Vampire Castle by Mark Fisher

Journey back into the vampires’ castle: Mark Fisher remembered, 1968-2017

Mark Fisher, 1968–2017

Purity leftism – MattBruenig

All Worked Up and Nowhere to Go | Amber A’Lee Frost


Friday, August 18, 2017

Paul Robeson rejects identitarianism

"Here was the first understanding that the struggle of the Negro people, or of any people, cannot be by itself. That is, the human struggle. And so ... my politics embraced also the common struggle of all oppressed peoples, including especially the working masses. Specifically the laboring people of all the world. And that defines my philosophy. It’s a joining one of ‘we are a working people, a laboring people, the Negro people.’

"And there is a unity between our struggle and those of white workers in the South. I’ve had white workers shake my hand and say ‘Paul we’re fighting for the same thing.’ And so this defines my attitude toward socialism and toward many other things in the world. I do not believe that a few people should control the wealth of any land, that it should be a collective ownership in the interests of all." —Paul Robeson

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shetterly's Free Speech FAQ

NOTE: This FAQ is about the principle of free speech. There's a little about the law, but if you want to research the legal limits of speech in the US, try the ACLU's Defending First Amendment Rights.

1. How old is the idea of free speech?

At least 2500 years old. In 399 BC, Socrates said, "If you offered to let me off this time on condition I am not any longer to speak my mind... I should say to you, "Men of Athens, I shall obey the Gods rather than you.""

2. Isn't censorship something that only a government can do?

No. From What Is Censorship? | American Civil Liberties Union:
Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.
3. Does free speech give you a right to lie, slander, or engage in false advertising?

No. Free speech gives you the right to say what you believe. It does not give you the right to say what you do not believe. Lying cannot be defended as free speech.

4. Does free speech give you a right to harass or threaten people?

No. Free speech does not give you the right to make anyone listen to you, and it does not give you a right to hurt anyone. Credible threats of danger are grounds to have people arrested, not for speaking, but for promising to do harm.

5. What about illegal forms of pornography?

Free speech gives you the right to try to change laws, but it does not give you the right to break them.

While art is a form of speech, and pornography is a form of art, when we talk about illegal pornography, we’re talking about recordings that are evidence of crimes. Keeping those forms of pornography illegal is not about speech—it's about targeting the market that promotes the crime. The principle is no different than targeting people who pay for prostitutes, drugs, or contract killings.

If you don’t like those laws, use your free speech to try to change them. If the subject of illegal pornography becomes legal, the pornography will become legal too.

6. What about firing people for saying things that do not directly affect their job?

People should be fired because of their job performance. If companies need to address something an employee has said off the job, they only need to say, “The opinions of our employees are their own.”

7. What about protesters speaking out to silence speakers and intimidating venues into canceling their events?

If you don't want to hear people speak, don't go to their speeches. Preventing people from speaking is the opposite of free speech.

8. What about protesting speakers in ways that don't silence them?

Yes! Protest outside events, but don't block passage to them. Go to events wearing armbands or T-shirts that show you reject a speaker's message. When speakers take questions, point out the problems with their beliefs.

9. Does free speech mean we have to let everyone speak wherever they want?

No. Groups have a right to invite the speakers they want to hear. They have no obligation to invite people they don’t want to hear.

10. Doesn't free speech let us cancel a speaker's invitation to speak?

No. When Clark University invited Norman Finkelstein to speak, then canceled the speech in response to protesters, Sarah Wunsch of the ACLU wrote:
...the cancellation of his speech violates the basic principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom which are so fundamental to an institute of higher learning. The existence of an opportunity to speak at another time or in another location does not remedy the wrong of censorship. 
11. What about copyright?

Free speech does not give you a right to claim someone else's expression as your own or to use their expression as you please. Copyright laws vary from country to country—in order to be true to free speech, copyright laws must allow for Fair Use.

12. Isn't free speech used by the powerful to abuse the powerless?

Free speech lets the powerless speak. Without it, the weak will be silenced by the rich and powerful.

13. What about silencing people who oppose free speech?

Free speech belongs to everyone, including people who oppose it.

More:

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

Actually, what XKCD doesn't understand is that money is not speech (XKCD doesn't understand free speech, take 2):

Explaining free speech to XKCD, a cartoon

Frederick Douglass and Henry Louis Gates on free speech and hate speech

Socialist quotes for free speech

Two examples of the unexpected consequences of banning (pornography and swastika)

On responding to speech with violence, or why a coward in a mask is nothing like Captain America

Monday, August 7, 2017

When video exonerates men of rape

Security video outside nightclub clears USC student of rape - CBS News

There have been several cases like this one, of men who were charged with rape who were exonerated by video that showed the women gave enthusiastic consent by every objective measure. This does not mean the women were liars—there's no reason to assume they did not honestly remember what they said they forgot.

But it does mean "believe the victim" is a bad principle. The better one is "investigate every charge."

Friday, August 4, 2017

By Ta-Nehisi Coates' logic on Confederate, The Handmaid's Tale should be cancelled


In Don't Give HBO's 'Confederate' the Benefit of the Doubt, Coates argues that

1. "Hollywood has churned out well-executed, slickly produced epics which advanced the Lost Cause myth of the Civil War."

Hollywood has also produced slickly sexist work.

2. "...while the Confederacy, as a political entity, was certainly defeated, and chattel slavery outlawed, the racist hierarchy which Lee and Davis sought to erect, lives on."

Sexism also lives on.

3. "...comparisons between Confederate and The Man in the High Castle are fatuous. Nazi Germany was also defeated. But while its surviving leadership was put on trial before the world, not one author of the Confederacy was convicted of treason."

No one has ever been convicted for the suffering caused by sexism. To pick one example from countless many, the men responsible for so many women dying in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire were not indicted for manslaughter.

4. "The symbols point to something Confederate’s creators don’t seem to understand—the war is over for them, not for us."

The struggle against sexism is also not over for women.

5. "Confederate is a shockingly unoriginal idea."

In prose, yes, it's been done many times, but it's rarely been addressed by Hollywood, just as stories about sexist societies are shockingly unoriginal in prose, but have rarely been addressed by Hollywood.

6. "African Americans do not need science-fiction, or really any fiction, to tell them that that “history is still with us.”"

Nor do women.

7. As an after-thought, Coates notes that half of the team creating Confederate is black, but he suggests they are subordinate to the white writers who are more famous. The Handmaid's Tale TV show has a male producer, Bruce Miller, who is called its creator on the IMDB page because he created the TV show and wrote the pilot. Its executive story editors are a woman and a man, Nina Fiore and John Hererra. If Confederate is flawed because of the social identity of its creators, so is The Handmaid's Tale.

ETA: On Facebook, Mike Wolf commented,
Actually, a great number of Nazis were back in positions of power after WWII, mainly because most Germans preferred to stick their head in the sand and forget the whole war and genocide had ever happened.

Despite the massive re-education by the Allies on the horors of Nazism, it took the student revolts of the 60s to weed out the remaining Nazis.

And of course Neo-Nazis exist to this day and probably will in perpetuity.
Earlier: Six hard questions about HBO's Confederate