Friday, June 26, 2020

shared on June 26ths

Civility is not niceness or etiquette. It is only the most formal form of politeness. It is loved by diplomats and hated by people who love war.


The rightwing and leftwing fans of incivility have confused changing the world with having a hissyfit.


I long thought the "civil" in "civil disobedience" meant "polite" because Gandhi, King, and Malcolm X were polite, even—or especially—when they were angriest.


Neoliberals hate being called neoliberals for the same reason racists hate being called racists: they know many people hate what they promote.


Dear people still struggling to understand that neoliberalism is a descriptor, not an insult:

Under the old liberalism, the wealth gap was narrowing. Under the new liberalism that began with Jimmy Carter, the wealth gap is expanding. The new liberalism's name is neoliberalism.


Thursday, June 25, 2020

shared on June 25ths

Insults are how arrogant people admit defeat.


Anyone who claims to be objective is a liar or a fool. The latter is the safer bet.


To people who see the world in black and white, gray is evil and color is madness.


Batman's greatest foes should be Broom Guy and Tennis Racket Girl.


Stereotypes come in three forms, the idealized, the demonized, and the comic.


In English, metaphorical truth trumps literal truth. A "real gentleman" isn't an actual nobleman.

Monday, June 22, 2020

shared on June 22nds

We are all prisoners of subjectivity. People who claim to be objective suffer from Subjective Stockholm Syndrome.


What offends me most about bourgeois black fans of reparations like Coates is they live in luxury and push for a program that will give them even more while it only helps 1/4 of the Americans in poverty.

King wanted Basic Income because it ended poverty.


If Trump won because of racism, why did Obama win twice and a Jew do better in the polls against Trump than the Christian who lost to him?


There is no statement in English that cannot be interpreted maliciously by those who hate you or themselves. Including this one.


People keep knocking the Democrats, but you have to admit they're very good at keeping the old guard in power and the new kids out.


I can't think of one rich person who deserves to be rich, but I can think of some who deserve to be poor.


Hate is the highest praise from bad people.


From 2017:

A simple trick that thwarted someone who tried to break into our garage

Yesterday, I found the handle of my garage door was broken. Someone had twisted it hard to get in.

But we had put a bolt in one of the holes of the door's track so it couldn't be raised. A more committed thief would've broken a window or broken the door down, but most thieves want to get in and out fast. The bolt was enough to make this thief move along.

Obviously, putting a pin in the track adds a little nuisance if you have a garage door opener, but it doesn't take long to pull the pin before you go out and put it back in after you return.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

shared on June 21sts

I wish people who say civility is a tool of the upper class would go up to the biggest guy in a working-class bar and be rude to him.


You cannot shame the rich. You can only make them furious at the idea they are not as admired as they think they should be.


Why I don't like the term "gaslighting".

1. If someone's lying, be blunt: say they're lying.

2. If you say someone's gaslighting you, we have to wonder if you're paranoid.

ETA: This complaint is about the general use of the term. When used precisely to describe one person's manipulation of another in an intimate relationship, it can still be useful shorthand, but the second reservation still applies.


Why do people feed alt-right trolls by protesting them? So far, they haven't been able to get a thousand supporters to show up for a rally. That's about as many people as show up at a mid-sized science fiction convention, and no one thinks they're news. This is a nation of 328 million. A thousand idiots can be safely ignored, and should be ignored when they're craving publicity.


Today's reason I will unfriend or block someone: Insisting your definition of a term trumps the common dictionary and encyclopedia definitions. Both the left and the right love to do this—see conservatives insisting "concentration camp" only refers to Nazi extermination camps.


The people who say calls for civility benefit the powerful tend to be graduates of expensive schools. Working people tend to like politeness.


Privileged people oppose free speech because they believe their government would censor responsibly. History says they're wrong.


Most evils are done by leaders who turn the good intentions of young people into weapons.


In the hell for libertarian socialists, I'll have to choose between supporting the libertarian right or the authoritarian left.


The turtles of appropriation go all the way down.


Strange reader trick #1: Assuming that writers never fail to communicate perfectly, so if they upset some readers, they must have meant to.


If you know a cult's buzzwords, you know when people who say they want discussion are only after your conversion.

Secular cults are harder to spot than religious ones. But not much harder.

Cultists always give themselves away when they get angry: they love the insults for outsiders that their group uses.

Friday, June 19, 2020

The Astonishing Ignorance of Nathan J. Robinson

This is a collection of tweets I made today:

Instead of writing "The Astonishing Ignorance of @NathanJRobinson", I will make a thread about Isn’t “Right-Wing Populism” Just Fascism?
"Socialists like Martin Luther King and the Black Panther Party have believed in radical economic equality but have also made it clear that specifically racial harms cannot be considered secondary issues. Their approach is “intersectional,”..."
That sentence is pure ignorance.

"Intersectionality" was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, a neoliberal who wanted to talk about identity without talking about class. The original "intersectionality" was exclusively about race and gender. Like her mentor, Derrick Bell, Crenshaw had no interest in socialism.

When identitarians realized they could not continue to ignore class, they framed it as a social identity, not an economic relationship. This is why they talk about "classism" and want rich people to treat poor people with the capitalist equivalent of noblesse oblige.

The Panthers were class-first:
“we believe our fight is a class struggle, not a race struggle.” — Bobby Seale, co-founder Black Panther Party
King was class-first:
"...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." —Martin Luther King
The hardest thing for identitarians to grasp is that class-first is not class-only. Adolph Reed saw that years ago when he noted that for identitarians "there can be only the Manichean dichotomy of those who admit racism’s existence and those who deny it."

To be class-first is to put material needs first. While identitarians want to discuss racism and sexism endlessly without offering practical solutions, class-first socialists want to end poverty immediately. (King's solution, Basic Income, would end poverty in a month.)

This is class-first:
"when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. ...We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.” —Fred Hampton
Hampton's use of "solidarity" points to the conceptual flaw of intersectionality. The intersectional model says there are many disconnected forms of oppression that occasionally intersect. The solidarity model says we must unite because the division that matters most is class.

Two useful articles on the reality of identity reductionism and the myth of class reductionism:

The Myth of Class Reductionism by Adolph Reed

Beware the Race Reductionist by Briahna Gray

I may start a thread later on Robinson's inability to see gradations of conservatism. He links two fascist dictators, Hitler and Mussolini, to Saagar Enjeti, who strikes me as an Eisenhower Republican. This seems like pure Manichaeism to me.



shared on June 19ths

I wish people who say "It's not my job to educate you" would stop trying to educate me.


Annoying phrase of the day: "and you know it." When I hear someone use it, I wonder if they're in the habit of saying what they know isn't true. I'd rather be called ignorant or stupid than a liar.


Only safe ideas are permitted in safe spaces.


You're offended? That's fine. #FreeSpeech includes the right to be offended.


"We used to own our slaves; now we just rent them." —Anonymous Florida farmer, 1960 (Harvest of Shame, CBS documentary)

Thursday, June 18, 2020

My favorite "class reductionist" quotes

"I am human, nothing human is alien to me." —Terence the Playwright

"The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." —Thomas Paine

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." —Paul, Galatians 3:28

"Workers of the world, unite!" Karl Marx and Frederick Engels

“...back of the problem of race and color, lies a greater problem which both obscures and implements it: and that is the fact that so many civilized persons are willing to live in comfort even if the price of this is poverty, ignorance, and disease of the majority of their fellowmen.” —W.E.B. Du Bois

"We must approach the problem as humans first, and whatever else we are second." —Malcolm X

"I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation. ... but I don’t think that it will be based upon the color of the skin." —Malcolm X

"...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." —Martin Luther King

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.” —Martin Luther King

“We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the white masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We’ve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solidarity.” —Fred Hampton

“we believe our fight is a class struggle, not a race struggle.” — Bobby Seale, co-founder Black Panther Party

shared on June 18ths

Watching billboards along the road, I wondered, How many encouragements to eat does the average American see in a day, and how many did the average American see 150 years ago?


I have an awful memory for faces, so if I know you & appear to ignore you, say hi. Or if I don't know you, say hi & pretend I know you. It's all good.


Now that the rich favor inconspicuous consumption and diversity, the Monopoly man should be slender, androgynous, and casually dressed, perhaps in the Steve Jobs/Elizabeth Holmes black turtleneck.


Identitarians insist the voices of white men have dominated for centuries, but the voices of working-class white men have always benn heard less often than the voices of bourgeois women and people of color.


The villain in the killing of Philando Castile is not a frightened cop. It's a system that trains cops to react quickly with deadly force.

Monday, June 15, 2020

shared on June 15ths

We live in a world where it's possible to make eighty million dollars in a year. Well, a few people live in that world. Not you or me.


Tired of articles about Einstein being racist because of what he wrote in his youth. The man of the 1920s was not the man of the 1950s.


Humans should not go to another planet until we’ve proved we can take care of this one.


Online, the outraged only share what outrages them, so they believe the world looks like their outrage.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

shared on June 13ths

I've been thinking about whether powerless people can be called part of a powerful group. Tentative conclusion: Only if you think pawns are powerful.


If "political correctness" was just another name for politeness, social justice warriors would never complain about civility or "tone policing".


If responding to speech with violence helped our cause, the police would not pay provocateurs to do that. #antifa #freespeech


Whenever I read Forbes' lists of self-made billionaires, I am struck by how many overcame the handicaps of rich parents and expensive private schools.


Dear far left, it would be nice to have a more sophisticated position on speech than "If you say something we don't like, we'll hit you." #antifa

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

shared on June 9ths

"If you want to know what white privilege looks like, [Meghan McCain] is a great example of it." —Joy Behar

Almost a valid example, but really, it's just princess privilege, as anyone who ever met a Black American Princess or a Jewish American Princess knows.


I hate gofundme healthcare. I hate knowing some of the people are scammers and some are honestly desperate, and many are too proud or too ignorant to try the only option left to them.


People who say they are centrists either don't know their own politics or don't want you to know them.


Identitarianism: politics of social inequality that exclude class issues

Socialism: politics of class inequality that include social issues


What Hollywood constantly forgets: great directors and great actors cannot save bad scripts.


The idea of "white people" was not created after Bacon's Rebellion to privilege rich Europeans—they were already privileged. It was created to divide working people so they would not rebel together again.


Dear privilege theorists,

Do you blame all Jews for abusing Palestinians or all Muslims for what Islamists do?


Why I try to listen to people whose politics I reject: People who draw the wrong conclusions may still have useful information.

Monday, June 8, 2020

shared on June 8ths

US serving sizes are ridiculous. Who would limit themselves to two tablespoons of guacamole?

Guacamole haters, shut up.


An interesting difference between alcohol during Prohibition and marijuana where it's been illegal: the 18th Amendment was only about the “manufacture, sale and transportation of intoxicating liquors”—it was legal to drink and own alcohol, and homebrew was mostly ignored.


On the list of words that have been made meaningless when used politically: antisemite. It now means anyone who thinks Israel should treat Palestinians better.


For most of us, changing your mind is a sign that you can listen and adapt.

For a politician during a campaign, changing your mind is a sign that you’ll say anything to win.


The current generation will have as many genders as they can imagine. The next will have none.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

shared on June 7ths: free speech absolutists, wonder woman, more

No tolerance means no opportunity to learn from a mistake.


A free speech absolutist does not believe in a right to make other people listen or to speak anywhere we want. That's an asshole.

A free speech absolutist believes adults should be free to discuss any subject in their own spaces or in common spaces without fear of punishment.


Think carefully about the principles you support and the exceptions you allow. If they can be used against you, they will be.


When people complain about white men, I wonder if they're antiracists being sexist or feminists being racist. They don't see that privileged people of all races and genders share similar traits: arrogance, self-righteousness, and an indifference to the needs of the working class.


On Amazon Island, lesbians are the norm. A non-conforming Wonder Woman is an amazon who loves a man.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Three Kinds of Identity Politics: Traditional, Socialist, and Neoliberal

1. Traditional identity politics
For most of human history, identity politics were the politics of the powerful. They promoted a hierarchy that put men above women, people of their tribe above people of other tribes, and people of the ruling class above people of the working class.
Rebels and freethinkers who believed in the equality of all humans opposed them. In ancient times, these universalists were prophets and philosophers. A line from the Christian Bible illustrates that:
Galatians 3:28 There is no Jew or Greek, no slave or free, no male or female, for you are all one…
By the 19th century, socialists had joined the universalist ranks. Karl Marx proclaimed, “The emancipation of the productive class is that of all human beings without distinction of sex or race.”
In the United States, the struggle to end slavery and legal segregation was a fight between traditional identitarians who championed the white race and universalist socialists who rejected the idea that race mattered. At the height of the Jim Crow era, Eugene Debs announced, “As a social party we receive the Negro and all other races upon absolutely equal terms. We are the party of the working class, the whole working class, and we will not suffer ourselves to be divided by any specious appeal to race prejudice.”
When legal segregation ended in the 1960s, the universalists thought identitarianism would wither away and leave us fighting a pure class war. In 1965, Malcolm X declared, “I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice, and equality for everyone, and those who want to continue the system of exploitation. I believe there will be that kind of clash, but I don’t think that it will be based on the color of the skin.” In 1967, Martin Luther King announced, “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.” In 1970, Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, said, “Working class people of all colors must unite against the exploitative, oppressive ruling class. Let me emphasize again — we believe our fight is a class struggle, not a race struggle.”
But identitarianism did not die. It mutated.
2. Socialist identity politics
Leftists in the 1970s had a problem: The legal fight for equal rights was being won, yet women and people of color continued to be oppressed. How should that be addressed?
In 1977, a group of black lesbian socialists gave their answer in “The Combahee River Collective Statement” which contains the first use of the term, “identity politics”. They declared,
“We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us. Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work. This focusing upon our own oppression is embodied in the concept of identity politics. We believe that the most profound and potentially most radical politics come directly out of our own identity, as opposed to working to end somebody else’s oppression.”
That sounds selfish and isolationist, but it was meant as a call for self-determination within a greater supportive community. Another part of the statement makes that clear:
“We are socialists because we believe that work must be organized for the collective benefit of those who do the work and create the products, and not for the profit of the bosses. Material resources must be equally distributed among those who create these resources. We are not convinced, however, that a socialist revolution that is not also a feminist and anti-racist revolution will guarantee our liberation.”
“Guarantee” in the concluding sentence is the key to understanding the identitarian socialism that sprang from the Combahee River Collective. The socialist goal has always been universal liberation, but many socialist movements have been dominated by men or white people, so some socialist women and people of color have had to insist that they should be heard too.
Barbara Smith, one of the writers of the Combahee statement, clarified their definition:
“What we meant in 1977 by “identity politics” is that black women have a right to determine our own political agendas, period. That’s all that we meant. All the things that have been attached to the term “identity politics” in succeeding decades, that’s not what we were talking about.”
3. Neoliberal identity politics
Neoliberalism is the reason for “things that have been attached” to the Combahee River Collective’s concept of identity politics. In the same year they issued their statement, the US’s neoliberal era began with Jimmy Carter taking advice from economists like Paul Volcker. While opponents of racism like King, Malcolm X, and Bayard Rustin criticized capitalism, many antiracists who came after them were privileged liberals who thought the only thing wrong with capitalism was the prejudice of white people.
The most influential of these pro-capitalist antiracists were Derrick Bell, aka the father of Critical Race Theory, and his protege, Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined “intersectionality”. Neither ever expressed any interest in socialism. Bell said,
“I think there must be value in Marxist and other writings, but I did not really read them in college and have had little time since.”
Critical Race Theorists believed all white people are racist and blamed white racism for the fact the racial statistics of US poverty have not changed since King’s day. (Then and now, there are twice as many white people as black in poverty despite the much greater numbers of white people in the general population.) That the racial statistics of US privilege have changed enormously is irrelevant to neoliberal identitarians. Adolph Reed noted,
“I was at a conference a number of years ago at Harvard Law School when Derrick Bell was still on the faculty there. Bell was on a panel at this conference, and he insisted that nothing really had changed for black Americans since 1865. And I’m looking at this — here he was, a full professor at Harvard Law School, making the assertion that nothing had changed. Well, obviously something had changed, because he was in Harvard Law School without a broom in his hand.”
Crenshaw’s “intersectionality” is a favorite term of neoliberal identitarians. In her paper that established the term, Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination. Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics, she named something everyone who cares about racism and sexism has known since Sojourner Truth’s day or earlier: black women are oppressed by both racism and sexism.
The intersectionality model works with all forms of oppression based on social identity, but it fails when applied to economic class because social identity is based on who society sees you as while economic class is purely about your relationship to the means of production. Two points should make that clear:
Neoliberal identity politics have become the dominant ideology of wealthy liberals. It trickled down from Harvard’s Critical Race Theorists and now can now be heard wherever neoliberals talk about race or feminism. Even Hillary Clinton adopted it — she speaks of intersectionality and once famously waved away doing something Wall Street would have hated with a question that seems like a non sequitur to most of us but which comes naturally to identitarians: “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow, would that end racism? Would that end sexism?”
The answer is of course not, but creating a national bank would help working class Americans. The questions no one asked her, which neoliberal antiracists never answer, are “What would end racism? What would end sexism?”
4. The path through neoliberal identitarianism to universalist socialism
Younger Americans are taught that neoliberal identitarianism is the righteous path to justice. They don’t know it by that name — they think of it as social justice or intersectional feminism — but their discussion of “structural” racism and sexism that ignores capitalism’s class structure comes straight from Critical Race Theory and third wave feminism.
When people who have been grounded in neoliberal identitarianism learn about democratic socialism, their first reaction is to merge the criticism of capitalism with their identitarianism. They effectively follow the path that Malcolm X took, first blaming white people, then blaming capitalism. Age and experience eventually bring them to the step Malcolm X took after he left the Nation of Islam.
“I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again.” — Malcolm X
“We must approach the problem as humans first, and whatever else we are second.” — Malcolm X

Friday, June 5, 2020

shared on June 5ths

I'm a stranger from the internet, and I'd like to know why you don't want to engage with a talking point you've heard 1000 times before.


There's a missing book of Genesis where Adam and Eve whine about how spoiled the kids are.


Pride events should have an expiration date, maybe twenty-five years after a group has full legal equality.

Sorry, St. Patrick’s Day.

(Since gay folks only got the right to marry recently, gay pride would be around for a couple of decades.)


#TrollLogic Anyone who says anything you disagree with must be called out and shamed.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

The very white, very Antifa origin of the Minneapolis riots (Expanded June 4)

Because I support the protesters and have been a critic of black bloc tactics ever since I saw them used two decades ago at a protest against the Iraq sanctions (which gave the police an excuse to move in and end the protest early), I have written this explanation for why I believe fans of antifa's black bloc tactics began the riots.

While the black organizers were calling for peaceful protests, the police were holding back and letting people protest. This shows the heavily white black bloc fans ignoring the black organizers and breaking into the parking lot to smashing cars.

This shows more destruction and the police response. Note the white man at 0:30 who is dressed in classic antifa gear.

This is the white Umbrella Man who broke windows at Autozone, which was then looted and burned. The use of umbrellas is rare in Minneapolis, but common in west coast protests.

These are white kids who were stopped by other white kids.

And here's a look at who was trashing the police station before it burned.

shared on June 4ths

My procrastinating is so good it makes everyone else's look like fancrastinating.


Resolved: Tomorrow, I will stop procrastinating.


Proper consequences of free speech: Being refuted or mocked. Improper: Being jailed or fired.


Where governments can jail you or the rich can fire you for speaking, speech is not free.


Conservatives think free speech is a right to fire workers who say things you don't like.


My angry politics show I'm righteous; yours shows you're deluded and dangerous.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

shared on June 3rds

Capitalist libertarians think the people with the most money should have the most liberty.


Star Wars Storm Troopers miss on purpose because they've been forced to fight for something they don't believe in.


The craziest thing about our legal system is it's based on the belief humans are sane.


The First Amendment has nothing to do with free speech. It only puts limits on government censorship. #freespeech


Few things spoil my day like a touching story about rich people spending a whole lot of money to make their children happy. (This comment was inspired by a parent who paid an unspecified amount of money to scalpers so his daughter could see Hamilton at the height of its popularity.)

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

shared on June 2nds

Writers, every word is a victory. Do not feel bad if you only write one today.


Brutal oligarchs have one-party systems. Clever oligarchs have two-party systems.


Authoritarians assume you use force to impose what you believe, so they can't understand that there are right and left libertarians who think things like abortion are morally wrong, but the law is the wrong tool to use for their cause.

Monday, June 1, 2020

shared on June 1sts

Why Antifa and the KKK should both be ignored:

We don’t fight wars until every idiot hiding in the woods has been defeated. We declare victory and move on, and eventually the idiots die or rejoin society.


The internet is full of people proudly fighting wars that have already been won.


Coolest thing about Wonder Woman toys: boys will want to play with their sisters' swords.


Capitalism is very effective when someone will profit. Alas, there's no profit in saving the Earth from ecological disaster.