Question-Flipping: Feminism

In Postcolonialism’s case (discussed below), 50-cent words do the flipping — by the time you get a handle on what they mean by words like “alterity,” “subaltern,” and so on, you’re already lost in the weeds.  Feminists do it with 50 cent words plus bitchy screeching, but the result’s the same.

For instance, the feminist will tell you that “gender” is a “social construction.”  After which, she’ll demand that we “interrogate” the “systems of oppression” by which “patriarchy” violates the rights of women, homosexuals, the transgendered, etc.

Did you catch it?  Notice the only buzzword up there without quotation marks: Rights.  Rights inhere in the individual, but according to feminists, everything that individuates us is a “social construction.”  Therefore, rights are social constructions.  How can a “social construction” have rights? That’s the question we should be asking.

In the feminists’ case it’s even funnier, as the more radical among them are engaged in a long-running TERF war with the trannies.  TERF are “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists,” and they hold the ur-patriarchal belief that having a dick makes one a male.  Thus, they exclude the “transgendered” from their female-only safe spaces.  And I know you’ll be shocked, shocked to learn that they’re not real polite about it:

Cathy_Brennan_Feminist_LawyerLike the Al-warmists, then, we’ve got a bunch of impeccably orthodox Postmodernists arguing that in just this one special case, a fact is a fact and words mean what they mean.

The way to immunize yourself from all this, I’m starting to think, is to throw away the dictionary.  Most Americans have a reflexive respect for academia, so we assume that big, odd words like “reification” must mean something really deep.  They don’t.  They’re just question-begging bullshit.  If someone throws a word like that at you, don’t ask for clarification.  Just assume he’s a charlatan and walk away.  Or, if you can’t just walk away, do NOT let him drag you into the weeds of a technical discussion.  They’ve spent years (and tens of thousands of dollars) practicing this stuff — I can assure you from extensive personal experience that academic “discussions” are little more than buzzword-quoting contests.  Keep it superficial — they don’t really know what they’re talking about, and if you disallow jargon, that becomes painfully obvious.  When they call you a dude-bro (rapidly replacing “racist” as the go-to conversation-stopping insult), you know you’ve won.

Question-Flipping

One of academia’s handiest bullshit-masking tricks is question-flipping.

One of Rotten Chestnuts’ four regular readers (I think it’s Nate Winchester; please correct me if not) likes to quote Jonah Goldberg’s pithy insight that it’s not poverty that demands explanation, but wealth.  I’d like you to imagine yourself captured by an evil genie, who tells you he’s going to insert your brain into either A) a modern trailer-dweller, or B) any famous historical figure from the 19th century or earlier. Pick whomever you like — Queen Victoria, Julius Caesar, Ramses II, Genghis Khan, Cesare Borgia, Shakespeare… anyone, so long as his life ended in 1900 or before, or choose Tornado Acres Trailer Park.*

If you know anything about history, you take the trailer.  If for no other reason than trailers have aspirin, antibiotics, and air conditioning.  Those three things alone make modern life unimaginably more comfortable than even royalty experienced back in the days.  If you don’t believe me, try it — wait until a nice sultry summer’s day, then turn off the a/c and lock your medicine cabinet.  I bet you don’t make it past lunchtime.

This is a simple, obvious, irrefutable point, but as Goldberg keeps pointing out, almost nobody ever makes it, or thinks through the implications.  Politics in 21st century America assumes a baseline of material prosperity that goes well beyond the wildest dreams of science fiction from even the Fifties and Sixties.  Where on earth do we get this idea?

Part of it is simply that familiarity breeds contempt, of course, but some of it is much more insidious.  You’ve probably heard of “postcolonialism,” for instance, and even if you haven’t heard the term, you know the arguments — the Third World is so screwed up because the white man wrecked the place; anything that’s wrong with, say, Mexico is due to the “legacy of colonialism.”  It’s one of the pillars of Obama’s worldview, for instance.

Question-flipping, Goldberg-style, is the only way they can get away with this.  The obvious question should be, “well, if Whitey screwed it all up, why was life so much better when he was in charge?”  Tanzania, for instance, had a pretty good standard of living back when the Germans ran the place.  The average Indian peasant was obviously better off in the Raj’s glory days than in all but the last few years of independence.  The difference between Ian Smith’s Rhodesia and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is too gruesome to mention.  Ditto South Africa pre- and post-apartheid.  How many Average Joes, do you think, would happily invite Whitey back if they knew this?

The point of this exercise isn’t to show that wogs are incapable of self-governance, or some other Victorian-era bullshit.  I simply want you to see the disconnect between what reasonably informed, but non-indoctrinated, people would conclude from this set of facts, versus what the ivory tower concludes.  Because it’s obvious that Whitey wasn’t running everything out there in the colonies.  One of the most cited figures in Postcolonial Studies — and you’ll never find a more wretched hive of fact-avoidance than “___ Studies” — is that Britain ran the Raj with something like 100,000 full-time white folks…. at most.  Clearly there were a LOT of talented, dedicated, hardworking Indians making the Raj go.  Why, then, did it all go to shit in 1947?  Ditto just about any colonial possession of just about any European power — grotesqueries like Belgian Congo aside, most everywhere was run mostly by natives, most all of the time.  Where did they go?

That’s the question you’ll never see asked, because the answer is “they swallowed Leftist ideology, which is as utterly destructive of personal integrity and work ethic as it is of infrastructures and economies.”  Pick any country you like.  Tanzania elected Julius Nyerere, who is still the collectivist wet dream in many parts of academia.  He managed to ruin the economy and start a famine within a few years.  And Nyerere was just dumb and ideology-blinded; he wasn’t batshit insane like Idi Amin or Mobutu Sese Seko or Francisco Macias Nguema.

But question-flip it, and you can have a long and lucrative career flogging Whitey with 50 cent words.

 

*yeah, I know, Queen Victoria died in 1901.  Forget it, Hoover, he’s rolling.

 

All You Really Need to Know…

…about modern “males” (the word “man” shall never apply to creatures like this).  From the last remaining readable part of Ace of Spades’ blog, the overnight open thread:

The Turner prize-winning artist has turned his sights on the survivalist [Bear Grylls] and his exceptionally rugged version of masculinity, arguing that it isn’t fit for the 21st century. “He celebrates a masculinity that is useless,” [Grayson ] Perry said. Perry said that the masculine ideal presented by shows such as The Island, in which Grylls is currently putting a third group of hapless contestants through survivalist hell, is making it harder for men to successfully negotiate modern life. “Men might be good at taking the risk of stabbing someone or driving a car very fast, but when it comes to opening up, men are useless,” Perry told the Radio Times in an interview to promote his new series, All Man.

The poster notes that

Grayson Perry’s interests include pottery, writing, opening up emotionally along with the occasional transvestism.

perrygryllsmugshot1

And there you have it.  The guy on the left won the Turner Prize, which has been awarded to such towering cultural figures as Martin Creed, whose prizewinning “art” was a room where the lights go on and off at random, and, well, Grayson Perry.  I’ll  let the BBC handle this one:

Pottery artist Grayson Perry, who creates vases depicting subjects like death and child abuse, has won this year’s Turner Prize.

Perry accepted the award in a dress, as his female alter-ego Claire, thanked his wife and said he was “stunned”.

A popular choice among the public, he beat off competition from the favourites, the Chapman brothers.

[And good on the Beeb for using the phrase “beat off” in any context featuring modern art].

Bear Grylls, meanwhile, was in the SAS, an outfit that even other special forces consider pretty badass (and only left because he broke his back in a parachute accident).  Just for giggles, here’s what you have to do to be selected for the SAS.  I particularly like this bit:

The endurance phase culminates with ‘the long drag’, a 40 mile trek carrying a 55lb bergen, that must be completed in under 24 hours.

And that’s just phase one, followed by “jungle training” and “escape and evasion.”  All of which gets you provisionally admitted; lots of folks still fail out after that.  Now, I’m no Turner Prize winner, but the mere thought of any of that stuff exhausts me.  And that’s all before you get into all the “infiltrating enemy territory” and “killing elite enemy soldiers” stuff that commandos do.

Now I’m not saying that a “real man” has to be Bear Grylls (compared to the SAS, 99% of the world’s males are total pussies).  But the bar is certainly higher that “dressing up like a woman to receive awards for one’s pottery.”

“H8” and the Importance of Tautologies

Over at Morgan’s, I opined that “H8” may be the root of most, if not all, of modern society’s ills.  “H8,” of course, is that peculiarly Progressive perversion of Jesus’s command to hate the sin, but love the sinner.  According to Progressives, if you don’t love the sin, you must “hate” the sinner — if I don’t “celebrate” little Tommy’s decision to live as Ms. Phyllis Levine, showgirl extraordinaire, I’m itching to tie him to my pickup hitch and take him for a long ride down a gravel road.

Which is baloney.  I’m almost completely indifferent to Tommy.  “Mild pity” is the strongest emotion I can muster for him.  My “hate” — and it’s nearly strong enough for that word — is reserved for the notion of forcing us, with fines and jail time, to participate in Tommy’s delusion.

They are not the same.  They are, in fact, light years apart.  The only way to conflate the two is to completely lose one’s grip on tautologies.

It’s easy to do, alas.  In fact, almost any “skeptical” worldview you can name, from Diogenes the Cynic on down, rests on this kind of error.  They’ll say that we can’t know the “real” world, or “things as they are in themselves,” because our perceptions are mediated by our sense-organs and our understanding can only function in language-dependent concepts….

…which is just a fancy way of saying “we can only know what we can know.”(1)  Of course we can only see with our eyes and think with our brains.  And it’s certainly true that if our mechanism of perception were different — if we had bat sonar, say — things would appear quite different (2).  But this too is tautologous: If things were different, they wouldn’t be the same.  But that’s boring.  Isn’t it so much more fun — not to mention remunerative — to pretend that our “inability” to know “things in themselves” leads to all sorts of radical political consequences?

This “transgender” nonsense is just feminist tautology-dodging.  They will tell you that biology is meaningless when it comes to behavior.  Your private parts are the result of chromosomes, yes — not even feminists have gotten around to denying that yet — but “male” and “female,” they claim, are just “social constructions.”  Since the suite of behaviors we call “male” and “female” are largely (=entirely) culture-bound, anyone who “identifies” as a girl really is a girl, no matter what he’s packing in his pants.  And if you try to dispute that, well, we’ve seen how easy it is to get led off into the socio-philosophical weeds (very few scientists would claim that all behavior is entirely genetic…).

But “social constructions” are tautologies too.  Social things are social.  Customs are customary.

To get to “transgenderism,” you need to argue that DEscription is the same as PREscription — that by noting something is such-and-such a way, you’re asserting that it should be that way.  Which is false.  And, indeed, it’s only Progressives who argue that the way things are in The Current Year is the only way things should ever be.  For the rest of us, it’s uncontroversial, boring in fact, to note that gender roles change with circumstances.  On the football field, this is acceptable, indeed manly, behavior:

1253293349In line at the DMV, not so much.

Getting back to Tommy:  Tommy is a boy.  Tommy is not a girl.  Tommy dresses like a girl, and often behaves like a girl (3), to the point where it’s a not-unreasonable hypothesis that Tommy thinks he IS a girl.  But he’s not.  He’s a boy.  Same deal as the guy in the nuthouse who thinks he’s Napoleon (4).

Now, one can argue — and, in fact, I would argue — that Tommy deserves understanding and compassion.  I don’t hold it against him, and I wouldn’t force him into psychiatric treatment or anything like that, even if I could.  I certainly don’t “hate” Tommy.  But it is a tautology — it is true by definition — that Tommy is a boy, not a girl.

Forcing us to publicly pretend to believe otherwise is propaganda, and like all propaganda it’s designed to belittle and humiliate.  That’s where the hate — real, honest-to-God hate — comes from.  And if certain overly-excitable folks can’t distinguish between the propaganda and its subject, well, are they not following the Progressives’ lead?  They, not we, insist that tautologies aren’t tautological.  They, not we, insist that Tommy IS a girl.  Any actual hate directed at Tommy is unfair, and a tragedy….

…. and it’s entirely Progressives’ fault.

 

 

(1) I can’t recommend David Stove’s essay “Idealism: A Victorian Horror Story” enough.  He clobbers these arguments, then salts the earth behind him.  The full thing (parts I and II) are in The Plato Cult and Other Philosophical Follies; if that’s hard to get, or you want more Stove (and you really can’t get enough), one of the parts is in Against the Idols of the Age, ed. Roger Kimball.  Read them!!!

(2) That’s the thought experiment behind a famous essay by philosopher Thomas Nagel: “What is It Like to Be a Bat?”  Here’s a summary; the essay itself can be found online in .pdf form and is well worth reading.

(3) Though not nearly as often as you’d think.  When you read up on them, a surprisingly large number of “trans” folks are attracted to the same gender they believe themselves to be.  The “queer trans_____” actually seems to be the norm, in my experience, and you haven’t truly lived until you’ve heard a very obvious dude — I’m talking 6’3″, built like a linebacker, adam’s apple the size of a softball, with five o’clock shadow you could putt on — angrily going off about how he’s really a lesbian.  And no, he absolutely was NOT kidding.  I felt like I was on mescaline.

(4) The most fascinatingly quixotic book I’ve ever read, Julian Jaynes’s The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, uses these types of delusions as evidence.  A psychiatrist, Jaynes claims that folks who think they’re Napoleon exhibit the same inability to individuate that pre-conscious peoples do.  If you put two guys who think they’re Napoleon in a room together, the result is…. complete agreement.  They both agree that the other guy is also Napoleon. They somehow don’t process the idea that two people can’t be the same guy at the same time.  It would be fascinating to learn if “transsexuals” really believe that other transsexuals are the gender they claim.  Alas, that would imply (as I have implied throughout) that “transgenderism” is a mental illness, and that simply won’t do.

Stupid Postmodernist Tricks, Revisited

Via the emails, I realize I should clarify the point of my post on stupid postmodernist tricks.  I linked to the guy’s paper because I like his catchy names for their rhetorical tricks, and his plain-text examples.  I don’t completely follow all his PhD truth-table stuff, either.

But that’s the point: There’s no need to.  Now, before you get on my case about anti-intellectualism or whatever, let me cite Aristotle:

It is the mark of an educated man to look for precision in each class of things just so far as the nature of the subject admits; it is evidently equally foolish to accept probable reasoning from a mathematician and to demand from a rhetorician scientific proofs.

Which is, in fact, exactly the main Stupid Postmodernist Trick I wanted to point out.

An example will help.  We all know that Our Betters, the Liberals, act as if mere words have the power to change reality.  Now, if you ask them point blank “do you believe that changing something’s name changes its essence?” they’ll reply “of course not!  Don’t be silly!”  But if you get them talking about, say, “frames,” they’re right back to acting as if changing the words actually changes reality.  What gives?

It all comes down to a devilish little two-word phrase: “Social construction.”

If you’ve been near a college in the last two decades or so, you’ve undoubtedly heard it.  It sounds innocuous enough.  More importantly, it sounds true.  These days we wear pants, not togas, but there’s no real reason for that.  Sure, back in the days trousers made riding horses easier (and Romans switched out of their togas when serving in the cavalry), but who rides horses these days?  The only reason we prefer pants to togas, then, is convention.  Pants-wearing is a social construction.

And when you come right down to it, most human behavior is that way.  Take language.  We call that cute furry little mammal a “rabbit,” but in French he’s un lapin.  In German he’s ein Hase (hence Yosemite Sam’s perpetually unsatisfied craving for Hasenpfeffer), and in Swahili he’s sungura.  Which word you use depends entirely on which community of language-users you’re communicating with.  “Rabbit” or “sungura,” it’s just a social construction; he’s the same fluffy little guy regardless.  Which was one of the key insights of Ferdinand de Saussure‘s “structuralist linguistics” — languages work by their own internal logic, not by any metaphysical correspondence between word and thing somewhere out there in the ether.  When you say “rabbit,” you’re not talking about any particular rabbit, much less a general concept of Rabbit-ness.  You’re just using a group of sounds inside an internally consistent, but essentially arbitrary, socially-constructed system.

Nietzsche expressed a similar idea somewhere, and if you want to, you can run it all the way back through the medieval debate about “universals” and straight to Plato.  No two rabbits are exactly alike, but we all know that any given rabbit (lapin, Hase, whatever) isn’t, say, a horse, despite all the superficial similarities between the two.  Seriously, try it: give me a definition of “rabbit” that the Average Joe could accept that doesn’t also apply to horses.  “A rabbit is a four-legged furry creature with big ears that is only a few inches tall.”  Ummm, are you sure it’s not a Shetland pony?  And yet the same word covers all rabbits, and excludes all horses.

Obviously we all know the difference between rabbits and horses, which must mean that — despite all the variations between individual rabbits, and all the different words for “rabbit” in all the world’s languages — there’s some “essence of rabbit” out there that we all intuitively understand, which is different from the essence of horse.  A Rabbit, if you will; the Platonic Form of a Rabbit in which all individual rabbits “participate.”  This rabbit doesn’t look very much like that rabbit, but they’re both Rabbits, not horses.  What we say doesn’t matter; it’s what we mean that counts.

With me?

42096-hi-Bugs_BunnyExcept that’s all bullshit.  The astute reader — by which I mean y’all — noticed about three steps ago that I somehow got from “everything is just an arbitrary convention of language” to “there is a real, Platonic Form out there somewhere beyond the moons of Neptune that applies to all rabbits everywhere, no matter what you call any individual member of the species.”

But it sure sounds plausible, don’t it?  Especially if — like most folks these days — you haven’t boned up on Plato in a while, have never heard of de Saussure, and wonder what the hell is the point of all this talk about rabbits anyway.  That’s the Stupid Postmodernist Trick I want to emphasize.  They can beat you down with a whole bunch of 50 cent words, and allusions to concepts you probably only vaguely remember, and names that sure sound authoritative, like Nietzsche and Plato.  And, of course, if you challenge any one of those steps, it’s very easy to lead you off into the weeds of a technical discussion.  Do you doubt that Nietzsche said that?  Well, class, let’s all haul out our copies of Twilight of the Idols (the Kaufmann translation, obviously) and turn to page 57……

This is the essence of the motte-and-bailey doctrine Shackel describes.  It’s a highfalutin’, pseudo-epistemological version of what I call beachhead facts.  Just as the alwarmists will use the fact that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas to argue that you’re a horrible awful no good very bad person for not wanting global socialism, so the PoMo Leftist (BIRM) will use the tautology that social conventions are, in fact, social conventions to argue that gravity doesn’t exist.  And if you focus on any one particular turd as a starting point for your refutation of all this bullshit, they’ll pull a Zachriel and start trying to assign you homework.

Words mean what they mean.  True things are true no matter who says them, or even if no one does.  False things are false, even if everyone is forced to say they’re true.  That’s all you need to know to refute Postmodernism.  The rest is just hot air.

On Bathrooms

I remember a Grateful Dead concert I attended a couple of decades ago… the line for the ladies’ room was ridiculous.  None of the men thought anything of letting ladies in line for the men’s room, and nobody was bothered.

When I lived in the dorms in college, girlfriends routinely stayed, especially on weekends, on our all-boys floor.  There was a code, too.  Even if the boyfriend was still in bed, if one of us knew a woman was in the bathroom, showering or otherwise disposed, he would post guard outside the door and shoo guys to the other bathrooms on the floor until she was done.

In a reversal of roles, I occasionally stayed with a girlfriend I once had in a women’s dorm.  A similar protocol was followed.  People were warned, I was discreet… I took my shower and left quickly.  It was no big deal.  It was a little deal. These were clearly special exceptions with real, if unwritten protocols. But it was obviously not an uncommon occurrence.  An exception was being made essentially by request of one of the residents who invited me to stay, and those to whom it would matter were made aware of this very temporary situation.

At a hotel in Eureka Springs, AR where cross-dresser events are held frequently enough that I’ve seen two of them during the last 10 trips I’ve taken down there, they put up signs outside of the restrooms welcoming the cross-dressers to the ladies room or the men’s room, essentially informing people that there might be a man in a dress in the ladies’ room or in the men’s room on a particular floor.  There are still exclusive ladies’ rooms elsewhere that can be used.

The point here being that bathroom rules are best left to the communites the bathrooms serve and not to federal, or even state agencies.  This way they can be modified and molded to accomodate anomalous situations to suit the needs of those present. And typically everyone is cool with that.  The only reason the states of Mississippi and North Carolina took this issue up in the first place is the Federal government is increasingly inserting itself into these situations — top down, not bottom up, like it should be.  It’s a blocking move.  Not ideal, but I understand the need.

Now let’s be clear. Transgender men want access to the ladies’ room for purposes of validation.  They see themselves as women, and they want everyone else to see them as women.  Access to the ladies’ room is validation of that delusion. (Frankly, most men wouldn’t give a hoot if a lady needed to use the men’s room. Chivalry is not dead.) But the vast majority of people do not share their delusion. So the activist advocates of the LGBT turned to the state to enforce the validation they desire.

Not only is this wrong, it sends us down a zero-friction slope into a giant can of worms. Because this means one thing, in the end.  That there be no such thing as a men’s room or a ladies’ room.  Because of 0.3% of the population’s desire for validation of what amounts to a delusion.  It may be a very deeply felt delusion, but a delusion it remains.

If we pass laws that specifically dictate that males must be allowed to use the ladies’ room, and females must be allowed to use the men’s room, there effectively are no more men’s or ladies’ rooms. The concept becomes meaningless at this point.  It won’t just address the trans-gendered, especially because of the additional concept of “gender fluidity” and the proliferation of gender pronouns.  “I’m feeling a bit diefeminine today.  I think I’ll use the ladies’ room.”  And there won’t be a thing you can do to stop me.  Even if I’m not “gender fluid”, you have no way of knowing and you dare not question me under PC rules.  So … meaningless.  I don’t know that Curt Shilling meant that the caricature of a sexual deviant he tweeted out was necessarily meant to paint all transgenders in that light.  The alternate point can easily be made that you can’t keep that guy out, either.  You’ve lost any standing to distinguish who can and can’t go in there.  What used to be a safe space to do things private things at your most vulnerable – vanishes.

This is what another sector of the hard core progressive movement wants anyway. They basically want to deny differences between men and women, and they’ll use transgenderism to drive that wedge that busts it all apart. Thus we end up with unisex bathrooms.   And incidentally there goes the trans-validation once the distinction evaporates.

Now unisex bathrooms are extremely common.  Pretty much every house has at least one.  Lots of businesses, some small restaurants and bars and gas stations have what we call “one holers” where anybody goes in there and does their thing in private.

The concept of men’s and ladies’ rooms comes about when we expand the facilities, for the sake of capacity, scale, and efficiency, to handle multiple people at once.

The sensibilities of decent society laid out by The Gods of the Copy Book Headings dictated if it were going to be thus, we would sort ourselves according to gender.  And by that I mean, if you got junk, use the men’s room.  If you don’t got junk, use the ladies’ room*.

Now, when it comes to our kids, especially in schools – I and most people on the planet am for adhering strictly to the junk/no junk rule. The only way I would budge on that is if all stalls were private, and even urinals are in private stalls.  In other words, except for the sinks, towels, and trash cans — basically a wall of private bathrooms.

Ultimately I don’t see anything wrong with men’s rooms and ladies’ rooms, and I see no reason for 99.5% of the population to be pushed around due to the delusions of the other half-percent. I think they can hold that concept in their heads.  “I feel like a woman, but I got junk, so I’ll go in here so as not to disturb other women.”  That person gets my thumbs up.  You go for it. Wear that dress, or whatever, with pride.

lgbtvsrace

Perhaps the most ludicrous meme I’ve seen to date.

I saw a story posted yesterday with a headline saying that the NC Trans Suicide Hotline’s calls doubled after the (vile!) NC “Bathroom Law” was passed.  (I didn’t know there was a special trans suicide hotline.  Can non-trans people use it?  Just wondering.)  The first line of the article read “Being denied basic human rights, like bathroom access — has life-threatening consequences.”

This is where we are, folks. This is what they do. Nobody is denying anybody “bathroom access”. They’re just saying, for public bathrooms, if you have a d*ck, use this one.

After reading “Rules for Radicals” I would be unphased to find that there was a concerted effort to call the “trans” suicide hotline just for the headline – and I’m not being facetious. That’s exactly the kind of thing they do. Matter of fact, if it’s a “trans” suicide hotline, they could just make the numbers up for the headline.  They are the source. (And it would probably be “H8” if you asked to see their phone records.) Again, this is what Alinskyites do. It’s in the book. Which has been around for 45 years.

We’re already a long way down that slippery slope of forcing people to validate behavior that runs counter to their moral beliefs.  Let’s at least have a little decency when it comes to taking a whizz.

*If you happen to be a hermaphrodite, you are one of five one-hundredths of a percent of the population. Go wherever you feel comfortable. You’ve got a legitimate exception. We’re not making a separate restroom.  I don’t think many ladies are worried about a 5 in 10,000 chance the person next to them in the restroom is biologically ambiguous.  I would suggest that if you are dressed like a man and project a more masculine presence, don’t freak the ladies out.  You can pee next to me, and I won’t flip out.  Matter of fact, if you think you’re a lady and you got junk, you can go ahead and pee with me, too.  I won’t comment on your fashion choice.  Well unless I think it’s a good choice.

You know, “if you don’t have anything nice to say”… momma taught me well.

My Bubble is Thin

According to Charles Murray’s quiz, I live in a thin bubble indeed.  I got a 35 out of 100, which means:

11–80: A first-generation upper-middle-class person with middle-class parents. Typical: 33.

0–43: A second-generation (or more) upper-middle-class person who has made a point of getting out a lot. Typical: 9.

It’s worse than that, though.  If I hadn’t lived in a very blue-collar, heavily immigrant neighborhood just out of college, I would’ve scored a lot lower.  Plus, I just don’t watch tv; seemingly half the questions are about tv.

Guess I’m a cuckservative after all.  How about you?

Political Philosophy in 5 Minutes

Y’all know I love Thomas Hobbes, though more for his method than his conclusions — like Confucius, he thought that all misunderstandings boiled down to bad definitions.  He wanted all arguments to proceed like geometry proofs.  Whether that’s workable or not is above my pay grade (and note that Hobbes wasn’t a very good mathematician), but there’s no question that bad definitions are at the heart of most, if not all, political misunderstandings these days.  To wit:

Machiavelli said that nobles long to oppress the people, while the people only want to avoid being oppressed.  Which is true of any hominid hierarchy.  If you really believe in evolution, you know that humans are advanced software running on kludgy monkey hardware.  What’s true for the baboon troop is true for us, and that’s what we see in human societies — alphas at the top, with his lieutenants, ruling over the great mass of ordinary monkeys, with a few despised omegas lingering at the group’s edges.

Society, then, is a conglomeration of baboon troops, and government is the conglomerate’s internal organization.  The classical social contract theorists had it wrong.  It’s not individuals, each as sovereign as his physical power can make him, doing the contracting.  Rather, the “contract” preexists, in the form of monkey troops – we’re born into a troop, and like all monkeys we’re able to break off and form our own troops if we’re strong enough, but there’s no such thing as a pure individual in the State of Nature (which also doesn’t exist in the way Hobbes et al implied).  Society, then, is a fractal pyramid, and government likewise: all the little monkey troops banded together into one big troop.

BBookSTriangleMonkey troops have one purpose, and one purpose only: the flourishing of the troop.  And that’s where the problems start — as humans are mega-monkeys, we’re able to assign all kinds of different meanings and shades of nuance to “flourishing.”  How far does that extend?  Who gets to decide if the troop is flourishing or not, and what happens when the majority decides the troop isn’t flourishing?

That was Machiavelli’s simple, irrefutable point — the nobility must assure the peasantry that their interests move in tandem.  Nobles want to fight wars and sponsor art and live high on the hog because they’re alpha chimps, and that’s what alpha chimps do.  But nobles can’t do all that stuff without the active participation of the peasants, as they’re the ones who staff the armies, make the art, grow the food, etc.

In return, though, the nobles have to provide some basic returns — a share of the spoils of war if you’re on offense, and physical protection if you’re on defense.  That’s the real social contract, and if it’s broken, the macro-troop that is Government collapses back into micro-troops at the local level.  As humans, we have some limited degree of choice in what micro-troop we want to join when the macro-troop breaks down– this is the “State of Nature” — but joining one isn’t optional.

So here’s the homework that every aspiring noble used to do as a matter of course:

  1. define “flourish;”
  2. define “protection;” and
  3. define how you’ll provide for both.

Pretty simple, no? Problem is, none of our supposed “leaders” have any inkling that they’re supposed to be doing this.  Cf. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush — get them drunk (from what I’ve heard, that shouldn’t be tough) and make them answer a simple question: “Why do you want to be President?”  And we all know the answer: “Because it’s my turn!!!!”

Which means that this particular iteration of the macro-troop is kaput.  Most of us who reside here in the USA in this, the Current Year, have a decent instinctive idea of what “flourish” and “protection” mean, and though we may not be able to articulate it like 17th century Oxford dons, we know that our so-called “leaders” aren’t providing either.  Back when, this used to be called a “crisis of legitimacy,” and pretty much everyone — yep, Hobbes included — thought that an illegitimate government is no government at all, and nobody is obliged to obey its decrees.

And it’s illegitimate all the way down the line.  The closer you get to an answer to the Three Questions, from an ideologue of any side, the more you realize that they not only haven’t thought this stuff through, they have no idea they were even supposed to. Government is just kind of a thing that sorta happens, dude…. but it’s super-important that it happens my way, or else ur a h8r.

Which is, as the kids these days say, problematic.  I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what happens to an alpha chimp when he can’t protect the troop.  It’s the same thing that happens to failed leaders in all times and places: lamppost, rope, some assembly required.

It doesn’t have to end that way, but it’s increasingly likely that it’s going to…. because it’s our turn, I guess.

 

No H8 Here

Just saw a banner at the Stephen’s College walkway/overpass over Broadway. It says “Hate Has No Home Here”.

It just has this hollow, Orwellian ring to it.

It’s almost universally agreed that hate is bad. But “hate” has been NewSpeak’d down to where it covers a broad spectrum of things that are not, in fact, “hate” as people came to know it and understand it and believe it’s bad. So even though nobody thinks that hate is good, this sign is directed at someone, and the message is clear. People with social opinions that run counter to ours are not welcomed here.

You are less than us, we are better than you, keep your mouth shut or better yet stay away altogether.

Which is a lot closer to real hate than, say, a photographer not wanting to provide his or her services to document an event they do not condone when they’d be perfectly willing to take your headshot or a group shot in another context — or perhaps to offer an opinion that maybe cultural issues in certain segments of the population have something to do with attitudes toward responsibility and being law-abiding and the consequences of eschewing those … rather than some sort of systemic oppression you have no hand in.