Archives for category: Ideological currents

I oppose the concept of “gender” and quite a bit of today’s intersectionalist nomenclature. This is especially the case with the trans mania.

But I should clarify. For the record, I am not “trans-exclusionary.” That term of alleged opprobrium doesn’t do my position justice. I am a trans denier. Whether or not I play along with other people’s fantasies and fakes and frauds is a matter of whimsy only, circumscribed by manners and fleeting circumstance. On principle, anyone who threatens me — in the realm of manners or in courts of law — to obtain my compliance with their fantasies and fakes and frauds will gain only my contempt and defiance. The current trans movement is a bullying idiocy.

Now, though I oppose current trends in trans advocacy, I have no great animus against these sexually confused and deliberately confusing people. When I was young I knew a number of trannies. That is what they called themselves. Trannies. They were technically called pre-op transexuals, I think. But whatever they were called, I liked them. I had no trouble with them. I thought their passion for drag shows was stupid, but I think most other people’s pastimes are stupid, and as everyday people I got along with them fine.

But at no point did I think of these men as women. Lacking two X chromosomes and sporting dangling pudenda put the kibosh on any of that. Putative trans women, even after plastic surgery, are still not women. Though if they can pass I give them a pass.

But that was yesterday — today’s trans activists are my enemies.

Why? Well, they have gotten increasingly bold in their effrontery. About once per month I encounter some public argument to the effect that I am somehow bad if I do not want to get naked and engage in penetrative sexual play with a “trans person” just because I do not like their genitalia. Well, I like women. Well, a very few women. And I have a fondness for their genitalia, too. And I have no interest in naked play with any man. I would be most happy if I could go the rest of my life without seeing another penis, at least up close. The idea that trans activists think they can guilt me into accepting their hidden or mangled pudenda appalls me.

And I have a right to my feelings.

My values.

My sexual preferences.

Today’s trannies who seek to take away my right are evil.

twv

The logic of gun control legislation has always rubbed against reality’s grain. The most obvious problem is that gun confiscations, regulations, licensing, etc., all affect peaceful citizens directly, but criminals hardly at all. Take what we learn from three-year-old study using data from the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Firearm Tracking Unit (FTU):

The top-line finding of the study — that the overwhelming majority of gun crimes aren’t committed by lawful gun owners — reinforces a common refrain among gun rights advocacy groups. They argue that since criminals don’t follow laws, new regulations on gun ownership would only serve to burden lawful owners while doing little to combat crime.

Christopher Ingraham, “New evidence confirms what gun rights advocates have said for a long time about crime,” Washington Post, July 27, 2016.

Nevertheless, gun control advocates continue to demand that law enforcement and government bureaucracies make it harder for law-abiding gun owners to obtain, keep, and carry their firearms.

So, are gun control advocates earnest, or do they have other commitments that undergird their support for remedies that are unlikely to work?

A conjecture

In my experience, folks who approve of gun control tend strongly to oppose “stop-and-frisk.” This provides a major clue to their actual policy values. Stop-and-frisk is an integral method of gun control in that this procedure — unlike registration and background checks, etc. — directly takes “unlawful” weapons from random or suspicious pedestrians. It is an effective method of gun control, such as it is. Conservatives tend to love it because it focuses on de facto criminals and “suspicious” folks, and conservatives like riding herd on those targeted by police suspicion. But why would non-conservative gun control advocates be against stop-and-frisk? It is effective, while other methods are not. It does indeed get prohibited guns “off the street,” which is allegedly the whole point.

The common opposition to stop-and-frisk practices by gun control advocates suggests to me that they do not actually care about solving the problem of violent crimes with guns. Instead, what they want is to control people they don’t like. And who are those hated people? Well, progressives do not like normal gun-owning Americans, who tend not to vote for their candidates and who are not likely to be vegetarians or into “spiritual but not religious” regimens and the like. Those gun owners are “conservatives” and are all-too-apt to be enamored of barbecue and NASCAR and patriotic country-and-western songs. The progressives’ most-hated enemies are, in the words of Gene Wilder in Blazing Saddles, “the common clay of the new West; you know, morons.” (This is a major cultural marker.)

Because gun control makes the lives of progressives’ opponents less pleasant, gun control ably serves to play up the basic democratic enticement. The real reason most folks become and stay political in a democratic society is to lord it over the other tribe, to make people who disagree with them do their will.

The default mode of the Administrative State

And so it comes to pass that this sort of attitude feeds the common State practice of anarcho-tyranny, riding hard over peaceful people while letting the criminals run free.

Note how this anarcho-tyrannical modus of law and order feeds (and is fed by) gun control advocacy.

By being tyrannical to normal folk, but letting the anarchs wreak havoc, governments can always find excuses — chiefly in the inevitable decaying social order — to meddle in the lives of non-threatening people. The Washington Post article I quoted, above, does not go on to advise giving up on the gun control dream, but instead frets about finding ways to prevent guns from leaving good people’s hands to bad people’s — in effect, still targeting peaceful people’s behavior.

It is easy to see why folks in government might prefer anarcho-tyranny to overbearing police power over suspects — in profiling the peaceful government agents risk less. But why would non-governmental people prefer that modus operandi? It is the underdog meme, I think, the commitment to protect the other — which in this case gets carried to an absurd extreme.

The traditional Law and Order approach feeds the anarcho-tyrants’ ire, too. Riding herd over suspects seems so “mean.” And here we come to what does appear to be the main divide between left and right. But before we condemn the left wholly, note how shaky the right-wingers can be: they decry gun control, but love stop-and-frisk, which is nothing more than gun control made effective.

Both sides love profiling, of course. The right seeks to profile the “usual suspects,” and the left profiles the peaceful.

More rational crime control procedures?

Not on the table.

twv

Limited, controlled immigration, was the traditional policy of the Progressive Era. It was advanced during the ramp-up of the administrative state in the early days of Progressivism’s triumph, during the administrations of TR and Woodrow Wilson, and lingered in very strong forms through the recent presidencies of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

“Open immigration” in its modern context is the policy of radicals who flout the technocratic/managerial state’s modus operandi the better to achieve the revolutionary methods of the Cloward-Piven strategy — leveraging a central feature of the modern administrative state, anarcho-tyranny, as a way to sow chaos and effect the establishment of a socialist state.

The free migration concept that many of my friends support (and which I too, prefer, and wish were on the table) has almost nothing to do, in practice, with what the current batch of Democrats running for the presidency espouse. Those who pretend that it does — like, apparently, folks at Reason and Cato — are basically playing at being the Left’s bitches. Or, as I put it back in January, eagerly take part in “the cucking of the libertarian mind”:

Trendy libertarians so want to be thought of as “on the left” that they let leftists push policy into what Sam Francis aptly called anarcho-tyranny, where government increasingly lets criminal and dependent elements dominate public life while directing the heavy hand of the State onto people who are basically peaceful, who are not subsidized, who earn their keep and don’t steal, murder, and grift their way through life. That heavy hand is the increasing burden of the regulations progressives love.

Racism, Cuckery and the Wall,” January 14, 2019, Wirkman Comment.

As I have stated many times before, the free-market approach to migration depends on nixing the welfare state — or at least making its benefits off-limit for immigrants, especially illegal ones.* Libertarians have much to offer the debate over immigration, but what they offer is Diversity Without Jeopardy — which is when the Commons is limited and fighting over the resources is not allowed to dominate the political realm.

twv

On the bookshelf nearest at hand.

* The political feasibility of limiting access of welfare-state freebies is almost zero, though, as anyone who has thought about the progress of Barack “You Lie” Obama’s promise of No Obamacare for Illegals to today’s Democratic presidential hopefuls’ near-unanimous insistence on giving free healthcare to all comers. And when you throw in the biggest welfare program of all, public schools, the whole idea becomes fanciful.

“The world began to crumble,” wrote Ricky Gervais, “when feelings started overruling facts.”

This was on Twitter, of course, so we are not getting deep historical analysis, here. The point of the statement is not, really, to define the precise turning point towards our civilization’s decline. It was more rhetorical, a way of asserting objectivity as a foundational issue for civilized life. Further, Gervais (@rickygervais) is a comedian, so no matter how earnest he may be in expressing this thought, a reasonable person might have cause to wonder: maybe he was trolling. You know, to get a bite from an ideologue, thus setting up a joke.

Simon Jenkins (@SimonJenkins1) bit. “So are you like, a full-on right winger now?” Jenkins tweeted on the same day, August 5. “Because you must know the kinds of people this phrasing aligns you with.”

To be generous, we should identify the key to his inquiry in that word “phrasing.” Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) likes to say “facts don’t care about your feelings.” That is his phrasing of the idea. And I have heard others of an alleged rightwing viewpoint say similar things. With similar phrasings. So that is probably what triggered Mr. Jenkins. How awful of Gervais to have reasserted the hoary fact/value dichotomy in a Shapirovian way . . . and not like this: “The world began to crumble when our sense of reality was determined by axiological preferences rather than ontic persistence.” 

Of course Gervais would say no such thing. He’s a stand-up philosopher, not an academic one.

In any case, queried by Jenkins as to his disloyalty to leftist buzzwords and bugaboos, Gervais snapped back:

“I’m also a vegetarian. You know, like Hitler.”

Spot on. Hilarious. 

And Gervais’s retort got to the heart of where Jenkins went wrong — and where the left generally goes wrong.

Jenkins noticed that it is not uncommon to challenge leftists, these days, with the fact/value distinction in terms of fact/feeling, and when Gervais made the same critique without an explicit target, Jenkins assumed that Gervais was making an anti-leftist point. Or, much the same thing, he was worried that Gervais had succumbed to the temptation to join The Dark Side of the Force.

Gervais went on to remind his Twitter followers that he has opposed people typically thought of as “on the right” for running afoul of fact/feeling dichotomy. He is a notorious atheist, for example, and uses the lack of evidence for a Deity, and the scads of facts in support of evolution, as “facts” that trump religious folks’ hankerings — feelings, preferences — for God. 

Now, Gervais did slightly err in his longer response. Jenkins did ask a question, not conclude. But that mistake is no biggie, since even the suspicion of right-wingedness was lame. What Mr. Jenkins exhibits is hyper-sensitivity to his ideology, loyalty to his ideological group, which can be seen in a deep suspicion of anyone who won’t perform the precise pronunciations of his tribe’s shibboleths, or who dares echo the shibboleths of the other side.

It is pathetic.

It is typical of the marginalizer mindset, in which managing who is and is not in the in-group is always of paramount interest. More, anyway, than asserting a principle to live by.

For surely the principle of deciding questions of fact on the basis of reason and evidence rather than one’s fantasies and mental comfort is not partisan. I remember when anyone could make that appeal.

But because of a “phrasing,” one leftist derailed his mind.

This little exchange typifies how bad things are getting, culturally. Sure. But it is funny, how witless left-moralists have become. They cannot see the funny (and thus have ruined late-night chat shows) because they are picking at moral purity as defined not by their religion but by their political ideology. They cannot let themselves have a moraline-free moment — just the sort of stance I used to see among cultural conservatives in my youth. In this case, a follower of a comedian saw a principle in terms of party or ideological tribe rather than in epistemic terms. He immediately became defensive — thus adding weight to the common critique of modern leftism, that it is plagued by mushy, touchy-feely sentiment and soft-mindedness.

For his part, Mr. Jenkins was reflective about his “recent encounter” with Gervais. What is it, he asks, about dealing with famous people on Twitter? “Post something, get asked about it, then instead of engaging, let your droves of flying monkeys post waves of snarky gifs in your honor. A really one-sided platform.”

Well, it is a strange platform. I do not much care for it. (I think this blog automatically sends notices to my @wirkman Twitter account, though.) It is no place to engage in deep philosophical discussions.

But Jenkins, in this case, did not find himself unfairly snarked at, flying monkeys or no. At least by Gervais, whose actual engagement was all the engagement Jenkins’ query required.

I merely note it in passing. In case someone somewhere was at all confused about it. And also to put a name to a not uncommon skirmish in the culture wars.

twv

The photo is from the Medium screed.

Leftist stupidity has become so ubiquitous that one’s eyes tend to glaze over rather than focus on each and every bit of insanity. But the sheer breathtaking nonsense of a typical White Woke Woman of the West (hereinafter W4) is worth marking now and then. On Medium, today, we have a great case.

RACIST Hong Kong Pepe Protests
Stephanie Richardson
It has come to my attention that the protests that have enveloped most of Hong Kong are being fomented by the Alt-Right, Pepe the Frog and the United States CIA. These protesters are brandishing racists Alt-Right memes in hopes at gaining sympathy from the Incel communities on 4chan.
After reading a piece put out by the Incel Alt-Right publication VDARE called Hong Kong Protests Adopt “Racist” Pepe The Frog” i quickly began putting all of the pieces together.
The Incel community on 4chan have long loved their Asian “Waifus” (a derogatory term used to describe slitty Chinese girls) which explains their obsession with anime culture. The CIA have effectively weaponized this weakness within the otherwise deadly incel community against Mainland China in an attempt at dividing the two lands and setting them against one another. This cold very well end up in a. civil war scenario and if the media doesn’t decide to DO THEIR JOB the CIA / Incel community might actually get what they are hoping for.
The Alt-Right is playing a dangerous game here as China is not another Russia in the sense that these Chinese will actually fight back with their superior cyber power. They will enforce their rule over racist Hong Kong whether you and your “waifus” like it or not.
Please, make sure you do not encourage these protests and for the love of god inform the Chinese government of this racist Pepe image before it gets out of hand and the minorities in Hong Kong end up in danger as they are here in the United States.

Medium, August 13, 2019

Ms. Richardson is a powerfully insane W4, and there is no real reason to comment on her crazed, paranoid misinterpretation, other than to glory in the ridiculousness of one’s enemies. To regard Hong Kong’s young rebels as pawns in a CIA/Incel plot seems more than a mere stretch. I suppose I could be wrong — like I could be wrong about religious shysters Joseph Smith and L. Ron Hubbard (not likely) — but the notion that the CIA has appropriated the Pepe symbol to lash out at Mainland China sure seems lunatic to me. The idea that the young woman pictured, above, with eye patch on, is somehow engaged in (or corrupted by) “racism” because of her adoption of the Pepe meme is sub-moronic.

Leftists just cannot lighten their grip on their handy-dandy all-purpose tool, pseudo-anti-Racism. Sure, Pepe was used by a few racists occasionally to engage in ideological provocation on matters of race. But that was not Pepe’s core usage or functional meaning, and if the W4s of this world had not pickled their brains with the zombie ideology of intersectionalist progressivism, they might understand just how potent and amazing a symbol Pepe was, and — apparently — still is.

Pepe is a trickster figure. His meme magic was corrosive to all pomposity, to leftism and centrism and even rightism. He became integral to the badge on the gonfalon of the great resistance to the Social Justice Warriors, sure. But progressivism is no more anti-racist than anti-fascist. It is oh-so-much more. It is the cult of state worship in its latest gimcrack configuration, and Pepe is the imp that spat ironies at the imperialism of the intersectionalists.

And now we witness a fully crackpot W4 siding with the tyrannical Chinese government.

Interesting to see a “progressive” siding against youthful rebels who just want American freedoms. What a typically baizuo boner. The “white left” (baizuo), as Chinese people in Hong Kong and elsewhere derisively dub SJWs, has lost its last instinct for freedom. To prefer the corrupt “socialism with Chinese characteristics” over those who genuinely yearn for — fight for — liberty! What maroons be these baizuo, what ultra-maroons.

A friend thinks this Medium squib may be an example of a Red Chinese propaganda effort. A possibility, I suppose. More likely, though, it is just the result of a memetic cascade, the association of ideas down the slippery slope of statist insanity.

Ideas are forces: the existence of one determines our reception of others.

G. H. Lewes, Problems of Life and Mind (Third Series) Problem the First — The Study of Psychology: Its Object, Scope, and Method (1879).

Of course, I could be wrong. This W4’s post is so idiotic that perhaps it was written by an AI as a parody of progressivism.

If so, well done. Spot on. Thanks, Adam Selene.

I mean, “Pepe”!

The political spectrum is a perilous realm. There are so many traps, so many places to get stuck, so many slippery slopes to slide down — so much room for misadventure. And the maps we use to guide us rarely pan out.

One helpful set of guides comes from political libertarianism. Robert Nozick, in his first book, Anarchy, State and Utopia, admitted that the point of view provided by an understanding of freedom helps one do more than gain some purchase on government, it helps us “see through the political realm.”

Yet even libertarians can fall prey to some characteristic errors, even the same ones that people who accept the terms of standard political debate get caught up in.

The chief of these errors is the allegedly helpful directional concept of “left and right.”

Misdirectional?

The first error of the left-right paradigm is that it is deemed precise

It is not.

The second error is that it is seen as exhaustive

It is not.

The third is that the left-right alignments have a tendency to permanence over time, or even within a human soul. 

This is obviously untrue, if for no other reason than that people radically transform their ideologies, at least practically speaking, when they go from powerlessness to positions of power. Or vice versa.

And the fourth is that the dual set of ideological options is not itself a trap.

And this last one is what I want to discuss, briefly, here.

Libertarianism is a toolset to help solve social problems. But too often libertarians do not see that the problem to be solved is the left-right alignment itself.

This is the result of concentrating too much on the solution in the context that it presents itself to rebellious, early-adopter mindsets. Libertarians often see the basic antagonism of politics as between the Individual and the Group, or, more often, the Individual and the State. In effect, the title of Herbert Spencer’s The Man versus the State limns the basic perspective. A still-popular variant of the idea sees it in terms of Ayn Rand: egoism versus altruism.

I think this is probably wrong.

Indeed, I know that the Randian paradigm is wrong. And even the more general “man versus the men” perspective misleads us. For what is important in the plan of focusing on the individual is not that it defines a problem, but that it defines a solution.

The basic problem is group versus group.

Or, in-group versus out-group; insider versus outsider.

In postmodern parlance now ubiquitous, inclusion versus exclusion.

Individualism, by which I here define as a philosophy of focusing on individuals to define a division of responsibility, and mete out justice, is how we adjudicate inevitable in-group/out-group antagonisms. 

Man is a social animal. And being social, this peculiar creature that we are tends to define the social world in group terms. But this leads to all sorts of problems, not the least being warfare. By focusing on liberty as the freedom all people can possess by following a basic principle — non-interference or non-initiation of force — we correct for the perennial errors and perversities of our species.

What does this have to do with left and right?

Well, though it is possible to understand the directional paradigm in terms of equality versus hierarchy, and progress versus tradition, a better way to look at it is in terms of inclusion and exclusion, as leftists are today wont to do. 

But we mustn’t do it like leftists do.

The “right,” as I define the tendency, is the perspective that concentrates on the defense of the in-group against dangerous outsiders: it is us versus them. The “left,” according to my definition, is the perspective that concentrates on the defense of outsiders and out-groups against in-groups: it is an attempt to portray oneself either as an outsider demanding inclusion, or identification with outsiders in need of inclusion, making it them versus us, often.

Since all cooperative groups tend to hierarchy, the “equality” notion makes sense better within this context. Leftists see the hierarchies of the societies they inhabit as unjust oppressors of “marginalized” people, of out-groups. Because those outside of any successful hierarchy are unequal in power to those within it, when one seeks to defend them, “equality” is a handy, go-to notion. The rightwing idea, on the other hand, seeks to defend some hierarchy or other, and tends to promote “loyalty” and not equality.

The antagonisms between groups, then, often take on their peculiar flavors along these left-right lines, at least they have in modern society. A characteristic perversity of both perspectives is to determine what any person deserves in terms of group membership rather than in terms of what that person actually does.

And it is often easier to comprehend the antagonism of left versus right in terms of the excesses of each: the right, in its vicious form, defends and promotes the in-group (whatever that is) at the expense of the outsiders; the left, in its vicious form, defends and promotes outsiders (whoever they are) at the expense of the relevant (targeted) in-group, especially the high end of the hierarchy of the in-group. Right-wingers tend to leap to foreign wars and wars of conquest, and are very concerned about keeping the unwashed masses out of their community or country; left-wingers tend to leap to revolution and the desire to “radically transform” the society they inhabit, attacking hierarchies that defend the society by means of hierarchy rather than advancing the cause of the lowest in society and those outside the society.

The Solution and Its Competition

By focusing on the individual, libertarians break down the loopholes in traditional notions of justice. Libertarians are not “against groups” but are, instead, against doing justice in group terms. In-groups and out-groups are inevitable. Hierarchies are inevitable. But how may in-groups behave to out-groups, and vice versa? How may one set of hierarchies deal with those outside the pecking order, and with other hierarchies? The individualist response is: On publicly understood principles of human action that forbid the vicious ends of left and right, which seem always to come down to exploitation and violation. Individualists of all political variants (utilitarians, classical liberals, libertarians, some anarchists) seek to promote principles that define criminality and other forms of anti-social action in terms of publicly understood interactions, with the prohibited actions being centered on the use of force. The point of the individualist form of solution to group antagonisms is to fix on transactional clarity, not “idenfitications” and continual references to group membership, whether of insider or outsider nature.

But where libertarians go wrong is to succumb to the itch of either the left or right.

Left and right are tendencies of mind and sentiment. People differ at birth, it seems, and tend to adopt one point of view or the other. The itch to align for or against the hierarchy that defends and advances the society one finds oneself in can be powerful. And both tendencies take on their own cultural flavors. There are even sexual styles associated with each.

Since the point of liberty is to de-focus from these styles enough to let both propensities of interaction and the human heart live in peace, we must resist the left-itch and the right-itch. Liberty is the balm that we apply that allows us to avoid scratching these itches to the point of inflamation.

Alas, the itch to style oneself as “of the left” and “of the right” is not the worst of it. The worst of it is to be possessed by the perspectives of these social forces, and to have the memes of the two points of view take over one’s thinking entirely. It’s one thing to scratch a left-itch or a right-itch, now and then. It is quite another to be one side’s or the other’s bitch.

I mean, of course, wheel-in-the-head mind-slave; a memetic thrall; a . . . the n-word would be most apt, but we had best avoid this racist term. So I adopt the slightly less offensives and possibly sexist term, bitch.

Too many libertarians I know are Left Bitches and Right Bitches. They cannot think their way out of the culture of the left or the right.

This has plagued libertarianism for a long time — I’ve noticed it for the four decades of my immersion in this social movement. The eternal squabble over whether libertarianism is more “rightwing” or more “leftwing” has been interminable.

The trap, of course, is that one must defend in-groups from criminal outsiders and predatory out-groups — so the rightward lean is understandable; but we must also defend outsiders and innocent out-groups from criminality and predation and worse from the hierarchies of one’s own group.

I guess the trick is just to never forget that both tendencies are valid, but that the cultures associated with unbalanced focus on either side must be avoided, simply to avoid ideological, memetic capture.

This is a big problem especially now, in the Age of Trump. The “rightward” tendency has shifted ideological focus, and is heavily offending the “leftward” leaners. Meanwhile, the left has embraced the worst “tropes” of the traditional left — the label “socialism,” for one — so as to offend rightist sympathies to the max. The two sides can hardly bear each others’ presences.

In this great and weird cultural divide, libertarians should be able to present a calming influence, for we offer are the tools to settle such squabbles.

Hasn’t happened, yet. For libertarians sure seem dominated by Left Bitches and Right Bitches, and not the philosophical moderates we really are.

Ilhan Omar, Hottest of “the Squad”?

I am beginning to develop some sympathy for Rep. Ilhan Omar.

She seems like a dangerous Islamist, sure, and a likely socialist, too — so two big red checkmarks against her — but she does understand that the foreign policy of the United States towards the Islamic East has not been a matter of sweetness and light. It has, instead, consisted of a long string of interventions that too often look ominously like state terrorism against civilian populations. So when folks on the right express horror at the apparent moral equivalency she draws between the British and U.S. governments, on the one hand, and Al Qaida, on the other, I shrug. 

Just a bit, at least.

She is in many ways both the prettiest and most intelligent of the four “women of color”  U.S. Representatives now known as “the Squad.” But my sympathy for her is muted, for she does seem like an ingrate, unable to articulate an appreciation for what is good about these United States, and seemingly unwilling to repudiate what is bad among her own political allies, the aforementioned Al Qaida as well as the violent communist/anarchist/insurrectionist mob antifa.

Thinking primarily about Rep. Ilhan Omar, apparently, Donald Trump tweeted up a storm on Sunday: 

Trump got called a racist for this, of course. While he doesn’t mention race, progressives and other feeble-minded people made the connection that he must’ve been thinking of the four first-term Congresswomen who have cliqued up around Sandy Ocasio (known by her nom d’politique Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and even better by her initialism, AOC, the other contender for the Hottie award), all of partially non-European, non-Nordic descent. You know, “women of color.” But his remarks only made sense if directed against Rep. Omar alone, for she was the only one of the three born outside the country, in Somalia.

So how were these remarks not racist? Well, Trump provided the ideological/cross-cultural context: of coming “from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe.” That is the context: political, ideological, focusing especially upon comparative institutions. 

Much has been made how the phrase “go back to X” is a “racist trope.” And while I will not deny that there is some racism involved in some usages, that was not its primary function. I remember the “trope.” I was alive in the Sixties. It was not primarily used against brown people. At least, I never heard it like that. It was used against communists. And comsymps. And anyone leftist to a perceived dangerous extent. The most oft-used formulation was, I kid you not, “go back to Russia!”

It was often — in fact usually — deployed against non-Russians.

It was an anti-commie, pro-American gambit.

So, for a variant of it to be directed against four socialists (forgive me, “democratic socialists”!), does not back up the whole racist charge. It seems to be what it was obviously intended to be: an attempt to make an ideological point and to criticize the four for ingratitude and a general anti-Americanism.

Oh, and also to force Speaker Nancy Pelosi to defend them, thus tarring the Democratic Party with the antics and immoral stance and rank unpopularity of The Squad. (His line about Pelosi and “free travel arrangements” is hilarious when you remember a specific moment when Trump cancelled a foreign junket of Nancy’s, during the government shutdown a few months back.) 

The general and specific reactions to the Trump versus the Squad twitterstorm was mostly idiotic, of course, including the elaborations made by the president himself, who while clarifying some things (stepping back a bit) botched up a few other facts, as well. As is his wont.

But how, you ask, does any of this account for my growing sympathy for the Somali-American jihadist-socialist pol? Well, telling her to “go back to Somalia” stirs my sympathy for I, too, have been razzed in such a manner: “why don’t you move to Somalia?”

By leftists.

Yes, this is particularly rich.

You see, until fairly recently, it was a game progressives liked to play, taunting libertarians with the Somalia Gambit. Their argument, such as it was, ran like this: libertarians don’t like government, and many of them talk about “anarchy”; Somalia (for a time) did not have a State; therefore, libertarians should move to their utopia, Somalia!

It is rather witless, as syllogisms go, but I tried to be tolerant of the benighted progressives who engaged in it. After all, many libertarians do not make clear enough what it is they oppose and what it is they support. And what are those opposed and promoted institutions? Well! Let me keep this short. Even the anarcho-capitalists, please remember, do not want any old stateless society, they want a society with institutions in place to defend rights. Somalia did not have that, therefore it is and could be no libertarian utopia. As Benjamin Tucker put it, Anarchy is freedom of libertarians defended by libertarians. It is not the statelessness of people without much interest in freedom as understood in terms of individual rights. (This is not to say that my brand of libertarianism is anarchist. Or that it is not. A long discussion would be required to make clear all that.) Of course, progressives generally know so little history and so little anthropology and so little legal theory and so little anything that they are largely unaware that rights can and have been defended by institutions not demanding territorial coercive monopoly, which Max Weber and Barack Obama informed us serve as the hallmark of the State.

The droll aspect to all this? Those witless leftists who taunted libertarians to “go to Somalia” were doing something not too dissimilar from what Trump was doing: defending their beloved government while expressing their umbrage at their targets’ ingratitude. The implicit message to the left’s Somalia Gambit being “you libertarians pretend to hate our State, but the State does so much for you! Go to somewhere where there is no such State and see how you like it!” Likewise, much of the oomph behind Trump’s taunt is to tweak the ingratitude and lack of perspective of the Somali-born Omar, who never seems to have a good thing to say about America.

So now you can see my emerging sympathy for the Hottest of the Squad. She was told to go back to her Somalian hellhole while I have been told to go to my Somalian utopia!

Six of one, half dozen of the other . . . intension/extension!

I am, of course, not nearly as anti-American as is the Somalian-American lady in the hijab.  I am not so much anti-American as Ameri-skeptic. Also, and unlike Rep. Omar, I feel it incumbent upon myself to try to convince nationalists and globalists of my sort of anti-nationalism — she seems uninterested in convincing anyone not already in her political tribe. Just like most leftists, today. It is all Them versus Us. The puritanically moralistic prigs versus The Racist Deplorables!

And I definitely do not want to subsidize more immigrants, legal or illegal, from anywhere.

But especially from Somalia.

twv

Almost all discussions of “identity” these days are absurd.

What most people mean when they say “identity” is “commonality.” Nearly everything said to defend someone’s putative identity has become little more than a sub rosa excuse for conformism, sans rationality but with a great deal of passion.

Oh, but that is not quite right, for the conformism is not merely excused, is it? It is pushed by the “identitarians” of the intesectionalist left and the alt-right, both, for the purpose of sweeping all discussion of personal interests into the dustbin of statism, the better to aggrandize some policy that just so happens to ramp up coercion levels in society as well as the amount of wealth siphoned through the urethra of the State.

twv

Karl Marlantes, an all-too-typical comsymp.

Deep River is a novel about the valley over the hill from where I live. My mother grew up in that valley. She and my father built their first home in the valley head. My older siblings spent the early years of their lives there. I have fond memories, for the most part, of that shadowy place not far from home.

The novel is said to be quite good, and its author, Karl Marlantes, a genius.

He does not seem like one.

Not on the basis of the Seattle Times article about the novel, anyway. I got stuck on something he said, a comment about Communism. I raise more than a mere single eyebrow:

Today we have this fear of anyone who has a different political attitude from us. My grandmother was a communist, but her kitchen was clean. She wasn’t scary, but today we gin up the fear.

Oh, is that what we do? Gin up the fear. How thoughtless of us! How bigoted!

Replace one word in his defense of his grandma, though, and would anyone still consider his defense of his grandmother’s radicalism reasonable?

Today we have this fear of anyone who has a different political attitude from us. My grandmother was a Nazi, but her kitchen was clean. She wasn’t scary, but today we gin up the fear.

Karl Marlantes would not write that. He knows that National Socialism was evil. And had one of his relatives been a Nazi who worked as “a political agitator” stirring up “a heap of trouble” in trying to organize for a cause he approved of — like, I bet, a welfare state (which Nazi Germany did indeed establish) — he would rightly be too squeamish to brush aside our abhorrence of the ideology.

But it is worse than that. Communists killed over 100 million of their fellow citizens last century. Hitler, an utterly evil dictator, was a slacker compared to Stalin and Mao.

Oh, and Hitler praised Karl Marx’s economic analysis, too. Leftists cannot hide behind unhistorical platitudes of “anti-fascism” and a witless love for “the left.” The bodies pile up higher the further left you push. And even the “anarchist-communists”/“communist-anarchists” of bygone years have something to answer for, because they promoted ideas that led to revolution that in turn led to tyranny and mass slaughter.

And it is not as if the Wobblies, whom Marlantes’ character Aino — based on his grandmother — “agitated” for, were all sweetness and light. They engaged in quite a number of riots, and several forms of terrorism. Along with the bomb-throwing (and bomb-throwing adjacent) anarchists, they understandably got caught in the anti-terrorist backlash in the early 20th century, and were suppressed.

Marlantes appears to be a typical “progressive” moral moron. He carries on a long leftist tradition of taking sides in the Pick Your Tyranny game that has played for nearly a century. Fascism is bad; communism is . . . well, “communists mean well.”

I am not sure I have ever encountered a leftist willing to plumb the depths of the Totalitarian Ideology Problem, willing to not Pick Your Tyranny. They exist, sure. But once one really comes to grips with the problem, one tends to cease being a leftist.

Leftism is a culturally acceptable Yog-Sothothery, an open flirtation with outrageous moral horror. It is a cult. It corrupts minds. And it is very widespread among moderately bright artistic types. Like Karl Marlantes.


Oh, and for the record: my grandfather hated the Wobblies. Not all Finns were commies.

There were Red Finns, sure, but there were about an equal number of Church Finns — “Whites” — at least in America. My education in politics did not rest upon this divide, but it did haunt the back of my mind. I grew up knowing about the tragedy of “Karelian Fever.” I also knew of the terror of living under Stalin. Socialism of any kind was always a bit suspect.

What made me so lucky, when so many of my culturally “left” artists succumbed? Well, much older relatives of mine, who were Reds, knew it all too well. And told their story. Which was repeated.

Family lore about my great uncle and aunt was this: early in the mad “experiment” of Communism, they had moved, as newlyweds, to the USSR — and within six months became almost afraid of each other. Political correctness under a totalitarian state is one of terror, not mere ill manners and inconvenience. They fled, lucky to escape.

Finnish-Americans who will not honestly confront their history with communist evil don’t do anyone any good.

I will wait to read Marlantes’ latest novel, I think, perhaps pick it up used. Call it my personal boycott of apologists for totalitarianism, “politically correct” fools who make light of mass murder, regimentation, and the philosophy of pushiness and plunder.

twv

A typically tendentious bit of fake news.

You may have thought that the purpose of a protest march was to garner publicity for your cause, thereby changing minds and then government. We have been told, since at least the days of Martin Luther King, that the protest march is a noble form of activism. Peaceful. Effective. Important for “democracy.”

What we were told no longer applies, for today’s protesters do not seek publicity. They are up to something else.

Correction: protesters “on the left,” these days, are up to something else. Protesters “on the right” stick a bit closer to the old rationale.

Yet Another Portlandia Protest-cum-Riot

You can glean what is going on if you read between the lines of an appallingly deceptive article about the recent altercations on the streets of Portland, Oregon. Andy Campbell, the propagandist who wrote the article for an ezine that I had thought was called the Huffington Post, but now goes under the banner of HuffPost, works mightily to convince leftists that their side, whose avant-garde is the black-clad thugs who call themselves Antifa, is on the side of the good, while the “far right” groups Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer (hereinafter identified by their initials), are evil. It is all very interesting, sure. But what the reader may not see is what is what is most important.

And what is that missing something?

Any consideration of who initiates violence.

Sure, the author makes much of PB/PP protesters preparing for violence. But violence can be defensive, and defensive violence can be prepared for. The implication of his tendentious, ersatz reportage is that Antifa’s posture is innocent and good and the PB/PP protesters’ is malign. While he lingers on these right-wingers’ armament styles, he does not do the same for Antifa, or draw any conclusions from their style of dress: black, with faces covered.

So he misses the pattern here: the PB/PP protestors arm themselves, sure; they also get permits and walk the streets of the city, shouting their slogans and holding up their gonfalons, as protestors are wont to do — and then the Antifa counter-protesters show up, sans permits, in their masks and makeshift black uniforms, throwing things at the protesters, taunting them, egging them on so that the violence will escalate.

It had preciously been important, in our age’s tradition of protest efforts, to appear the victim — and undoubtedly both sides here are prepared for violence yet wish, to some degree, to be seen as not “starting it.”

We have only two real clues about the justice of the latest City of Roses mêlée, neither made explicit in Campbell’s dreadful Antifa apologia.

  1. Who was there first, who had a right to be there.
  2. The attack upon journalist Andy Ngo.

These two issues deserve separate treatment.

Who’s On First?

In previous altercations between the PB/PP and Antifa, the former groups had bothered to seek (and sometimes obtain) permits to protests on public property.

Permits are good form, at the very least, for public roads and parks and sidewalks are designed and maintained for the use of people in normal transit, going about the normal business of commerce. Appropriating them to protest and publicize a particular cause blocks transit, and public use, and what amounts to a form of privatization — so one would expect the “public” to be somehow compensated and protected from the change in de facto and perhaps de jure property rights.

Mr. Campbell’s narration, such as it is, does not mention any permitting process. But it is clear that the “right-wing” protesters had priority, and that they were taunting Antifa merely by their presence.

In normal civilized contexts, one expects to be able to go about one’s peaceful business without being attacked, compelled, or coerced. In a society where there is freedom of speech, mere expressions of ideas are not considered provocations — only direct threats and incitements are.

So, as near as I can make out — and nothing Mr. Campbell writes indicates otherwise — when the PB/PP protesters take to the street, they are indeed preparing for violence, defensive violence, and they expect their mere words, slogans, and presence to call forth the counter-protesters who, by initiating violence, show themselves to be thugs.

So for one side, publicity and journalistic coverage is all-important. Protesters on the PB/PP “right” play by the old rules of protest, the ones culturally established in the 1960s.

For the other side, the opposite is true. Counter-protesters on the hubristic left do not want careful consideration of what they are doing, they do not want transparency. They need confusion and darkened cameras to allow “journalists” in partisan venues like HuffPost to make halfway plausible apologia for their violent actions.

Which takes us away from Andy Campbell, propagandist, and to Andy Ngo, victim.

Do We Know Ngo?

For an article about a riot and an attack, the HuffPost effort provides few details. Indeed, details are almost non-existent. Most of the screed is about providing a context for the attack upon Andy Ngo. And it is a carefully constructed context — which does not mention other victims, for example.

Also left out is the fact that Mr. Ngo was merely photographing the event. He was attacked for his journalistic work, here and elsewhere. In other accounts online we are told that his attackers were more than aware of who he was. “One woman in the crowd,” The Daily Wire reports, “can be heard yelling, “F*** you, Andy!”

So why attack Mr. Ngo, a photojournalist and sub-editor for Quillette?

He has a long history investigating Antifa and other leftist violence and mobbing activity in Portland, Oregon, and elsewhere. For this he is seen as an enemy — a “fascist,” I gather.

More importantly, it is the new style of leftist protest. We saw it best in the Melissa Click Missou Muscle Moment:

Repeatedly, in recent years, leftists in charge of and participating in public protests have ejected and attacked and . . . muscled . . . photojournalists and bloggers trying to cover public events. It makes no sense for a protest, of course. The whole point is to be seen.

Two likely explanations for this strike me as plausible.

One is that the leftist protesters see any non-major media coverage as likely to be antagonistic. Leftists know, intuitively if not explicitly, that major media is on their side, for the most part. But independent media? Much less likely. So why tolerate bad press? Do as Bush and Obama did in public: marginalize the opposition by pushing protest out beyond the margins.

Today’s leftists know that their protests are not free speech zones.

But another explanation is even more likely: leftist protest today is not protest at all, it is insurrection and repressive mobbing.

Antifa and friends are not aiming to appeal to the masses or the politicians. They aim to subjugate them: shout them down, drown out their voices and, by sheer force of effrontery and threat and mayhem, make them cringe in cowardice and fear.

Leftist protests today are mobocracy in motion. They are inherently violent. Their whole raison d’être is revolution and their modus operandi is force and intimidation.

And why don’t more moderate leftists object? I can only speculate. It sure seems like either because they agree with Antifa goals, or because they are cowards.

“By any means necessary” is a popular slogan amongst these people, and, for some reason most journalists and many politicians fail to see its deep immorality, the uncivilized principle of justifying violent, tyrannical means by the purported goodness of one’s chosen end.

Andy Ngo was peacefully covering the event, and Antifa goons attacked him and stole his camera.

And Mr. Campbell spent most of his effort trying to defend the obvious thugs, in part by denying that the milkshakes thrown at him did not (likely) contain Portland cement.

Ah, Portland cement! How apt in this situation.

How We Know HuffPo Is Propaganda

HuffPost spin dubs Andy Ngo a “conservative,” and Campbell uses words like “extremists” and “far right” quite liberally. Antifa, on the other hand, garners no adjectives, and is usually blessed with the eulogistic “anti-fascist” synonym.

This is how we know HuffPost is a mere propaganda mill, a spinner of what we call, these days, “fake news,” a term previously associated most famously with Jon Stewart (self-identified purveyor) and Donald Trump (accuser and accused).

In situations of conflicting interpretations, if you only take efforts to define your opponents, but just assume an understanding of one’s own side, then you are likely just a partisan. Indeed, it is this trick, of always referring to one side by pejorative adjectives and nouns, and letting one’s own side free of imposed modifiers, that defines a centrist cult. The method is well known. It is called “marginalization.”

The fact that the left has long been the most proficient practitioner of marginalization while making marginalization a grounds for attacking its opponents is just one of the drolleries of our age.

I consider this funny, of course: clueless hypocrisy is often funny.

But it is also part of a malign project, and thus quite serious indeed.

Now, it is possible that Andy Campbell is not the evil liar I think he is. He could be just very stupid, a brainwashed stooge with typical-to-his-class revolutionary, statist sympathies. Perhaps because he is on the side of Antifa, he has disabled himself from applying reason to the reality before him. All he can do is paint pictures that makes his side look good and the side he hates look bad. It is just second nature.

In the spirit of Mencken, we might be tempted to dismiss him, therefore, as a boob, mountebank, or moron. But to succeed in journalism surely means possessing a modicum of intelligence, doesn’t it?

While Mr. Campbell is a reporter manqué, I make no such pretentions to “news journalism.” No one pays me to quote fairly from all sides (which reporters are supposed to do), so I have here taken the liberty merely of arguing a case.

Which is all, really, that our HuffPost tendentitarian does. So, I guess the surest method to handle folks such as he is twofold: mock them as journalists and revile them as base rhetoricians . . . and worse.

twv