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“Things can be concentration camps without being Dachau or Auschwitz.”
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“At a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facility in El Paso, Tex. more than 150 migrants were held in a cell meant for just 35 people…”
- What’s Actually Causing Infectious Disease Outbreaks in Immigrant Detention Centers? – Pacific Standard
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People underestimated Hitler, because you don’t have to be competent to do a lot of harm.
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“… allowing smaller dwellings or breaking up single-family homes into multiple units creates more housing and the chance to make housing more affordable in pricey neighborhoods.”
- Every NIMBY’s Speech At a Public Hearing – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
“I’ve lived in the same house in the Elm Heights neighborhood for the past twenty years, and I just love everything about this town except for the problems that my politics have directly created.”
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“Warren says the first trip to a bankruptcy court in San Antonio upended her feelings about Law and Economics and the more theoretical, free-market approach she had espoused.”
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“Now I have been black pilled about female smiles just being another form of teasing.”
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The weird thing is, the first sculpture is so much more engaging and interesting than any better-done sculpture could be. But I’m glad he’s gotten another chance; hopefully he’ll get to keep on sculpting.
- My Jewish Trek | Jewish Journal
“‘Gene was anti-Semitic, clearly,’ Nimoy replied as my heart sank.”
- Global Implications of FOSTA | Slixa
“The passage of FOSTA rests on an extensive history of abolitionist attempts to pass legislation that restrict sex work or apply paternalistic narratives to workers.”
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- Political Cartoonist Not Sure How To Convey That Large Sack In Senator’s Hand Is Full Of Money – The Onion
- Report: Google News Does Not Have an Anti-Conservative Bias So Much as a Pro-Credible Source One
And, unsurprisingly, a pro-gets-a-lot-of-clicks bias. (Conservatives will respond that the measures used to access “credible” are also biased against conservatives.)
- Virginia EMT who made racist remarks on podcast loses his job – CNN
As y’all know, I’m generally against firing people for their off-the-clock political speech. Well, here’s a case where I completely approve of the firing.
- The Trade Secret: Firms That Promised High-Tech Ransomware Solutions Almost Always Just Pay the Hackers
- Dogs’ Eyes Have Changed Since Humans Befriended Them – The Atlantic
“For the study, a team at the University of Portsmouth’s Dog Cognition Centre looked at two muscles that work together to widen and open a dog’s eyes, causing them to appear bigger, droopier, and objectively cuter.”
- Black Missouri drivers 91% more likely to be stopped, state attorney general finds | PBS NewsHour
- The Political and the Principled: A Different Take On Grievance Studies
- Many Analysts, One Data Set: Making Transparent How Variations in Analytic Choices Affect Results
Journal article giving the same data to 29 teams of analysts; the various teams found significantly different results, despite using the same data. “These findings suggest that significant variation in the results of analyses of complex data may be difficult to avoid, even by experts with honest intentions.” Thanks to Harlequin for the link!
- The kidnapped Yazidi children who don’t want to be rescued from ISIS – The Washington Post
What a nightmare.
- Animals Are Becoming Nocturnal To Avoid Interacting With Humans
- Pleading Guilty to Get Out of Jail – The Appeal
Too many people have a choice between 1) remaining in jail because they can’t afford bail, or 2) pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in order to get free.
- Which is why there are movements to end cash bail. But the politics can be complicated, plus there’s the worry that without cash bail, DAs and judges will try to divert more people into simply being jailed with no bail possible.
- D.C. Sex Workers Want Decriminalization—and City Council Members Agree – Reason.com
The article doesn’t give a sense of how likely the bill is to pass, however. Anyone got a feel for that?
- Everyone Got the Dutch Teen ‘Euthanasia’ Story Wrong – Reason.com
The real story – a complex story of a suffering teen choosing not to eat and her parents choosing to no longer force-feed her – became, in English newspapers, a completely fabricated cautionary tale about euthanasia.
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Amp on TwitterMy Tweets
Amp, you misunderstand me. I’m saying that I won’t march alongside people with crowbars, as I’d rather the Trump problem be solved democratically. The crowbar in question is the one that split the head of the baton-wielding… older fellow who ended up with blood all over his face. I just can’t support anyone who swings crowbars at heads. If the crowbar-wielder were bigger and stronger, we’d have a homicide.
Sorry I wasn’t more clear.
That is a flip and dismissive response. You are, to quote a phrase I’ve seen you use in other discussions, smarter than that.
I think everyone in this discussion would prefer the “Trump problem” to be solved democratically, but Trump is not really the problem in question here, though he is certainly a symptom and an enabler of it, both at the same time. The problem is how to deal with the paradox that tolerating intolerance of the sort promoted by Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, nativists, etc—and not just tolerating them, but giving them access to the mechanisms of power (through the media, elections, etc.)—ultimately threatens the existence of a tolerant society from the inside no less profoundly than an external threat of tyrannical conquest, were one to exist (for example).
I too would like to think that if my candidate “campaign[ed] in Wisconsin…” (with all you want that statement to imply), it would make the kind of difference we all would like it to make. (Even if we all have slightly different ideas of what that difference might be, I am assuming for the sake of argument here that we would all agree on a baseline, at least.) First, what if it doesn’t? Second, how within that democratic solution, do you account for/respond to the fact that those you oppose are less interested in actual democratic solutions to anything than in using a nominally democratic process to undermine democracy; and to the fact this undermining will almost certainly open the door to the more extreme elements of the right?
I don’t, I hasten to add, have an answer. Right now, I am, for myself, still trying to define the question, and I think constantly using Antifa’s obviously (at least in some cases) objectionable tactics as the touchstone for how that question ought to be defined—as if Antifa is the only way of defining material resistance to fascism, etc.—ends up obscuring more than it reveals. Because it ends turning the focus away from the fact that the neo-Nazis, fascists, racists, etc. really mean what they say about Jews, Blacks, Muslims, LGBTQ people, women, and so on.
No, I’m not defending the Proud Boys. However, I’m not aware of the Proud Boys engaging in violence with anyone other than antifa. Do you have evidence of the Proud Boys doing the equivalent of what happened to Andy Ngo or any of the other attacks on reporters?
And what would you call those who are defending and justifying that violence?
I’m not American. Why out of all the problems and fucked up things in the world would I have some obligation to engage in activism on this one? Even if I were American, out of all the problems and issue in the country, why would this issue in particular warrant morally compulsory activism? Because by some technicality you feel you can describe it with a term that is historically associated with the Nazi Germany and imply the common term makes the things morally comparable? That’s a pathetic argument.
I said in #97 that I thought Nike’s pulling the Betsy Ross shoes was ridiculous but Governor Ducey’s response was just horrible:
Retaliating against Nike for pulling the Betsy Ross shows raises obvious First Amendment issues.
By what possible metric does ‘antifa violence’ rate higher on the morally compulsory activism chart then ‘concentration camps for kids’?
I mean, both of those things are happening in the US, so if you don’t care about US stuff, sure, but to clamor on about how bad the one is and shrug your shoulders at the other?
That’s what pathetic.
Why, yes we do! For instance…
I think politics is mostly about tribalism, and less about policy or even ideology. Many people who would call themselves conservative or progressive, cannot put forth anything like a coherent political philosophy. Instead, people want to believe that a given politician understands and relates to their plights.
It’s easy to observe this in action. I’m very politically moderate, so in 2016, Clinton was exactly what I was looking for in a president (well, make her a bit less hawkish maybe) and I opposed Sanders for being too radical. But man was I perplexed at how Clinton was also getting the votes of people way to my left economically- votes that seemingly should have gone to Sanders if the issues or ideology were most important, but these things aren’t.
I see the Trump phenomenon as a coalition of intolerant nationalist types and more moderate conservative voters who would sometimes vote democrat. I’m mostly interested in these marginal voters and not Trump’s base. I see these Trump’s base as unreachable. It’s the voters who votes Obama in 2012, and Trump in 2016 I’m most interested in, and even more interested in these voters if they live in Wisconsin or Florida
I think these people are the key to avoiding fascism. Keep them on your side by simply making them feel heard. Trump did a better job of that last go- around, but the next nominee can do better yet
Well, that’s the great debate. Get swing voters to vote your way or get your base out. Which is most important. Given the vanishing rarity of true swing voters – and their complete ignorance of and lack of interest in politics – I come down on the side of motivate your base to get the highest possible turnout from it. I’ll continue to be on that side until there’s convincing evidence otherwise.
Most people can’t articulate a coherent political philosophy. But that doesn’t always mean they don’t have one. At least some of the time, when people (right or left) seem hypocritical or incoherent, it’s more that their politics are more nuanced than the way they typically express their politics.
For instance, a person might say “the government has no place in religion” but also favor government support of the town’s annual Christmas pageant. (For example, by letting them use the high school stage). Maybe that’s incoherent; or maybe they have more nuanced beliefs, but didn’t state it in a very nuanced way. (For instance, maybe “I think it’s important to keep religion and government separate, but I also think it’s important that the government help sustain community traditions, and we should try and find a way to balance these two values when they conflict” is a truer statement of what they believe).
I’m sure people want to believe that, but do they actually? I mean, obviously, SOME people do; all successful politicians have their fan clubs. But I also think a lot of people are pretty cynical about politicians, including ones they support.
There’s also a phenomenon that I’ve observed anecdotally, in which people get much less cynical about politicians – or, anyway, about the politicians they support – during an election cycle, but after the election is over they grow more cynical about the person they supported.
See, this just shows that you don’t listen. Crazy lefty women and minorities don’t support Bernie, must be irrational tribalism!
Sanders was, and still often is, totally tone deaf on sexism and racism. He also is all talk. Compare what Obama achieved in his brief time in the senate to what Bernie has done. Honestly, it is pathetic. A lot of people further left than you supported Hillary because, although her goals may have been more modest, we believed that she was more likely to actually get stuff done.
I really liked this, from Rebecca Watson.
Of course it is possible for the DoJ to “spin on a dime,” but this typically requires putting different decision makers in place. You seem to have failed to understand my point, which was that it is extremely hard for decision makers to accept being corrected from the outside, when they have chosen a path.
This is a completely different situation to a decision maker with different beliefs taking over. Note that this the explicit goal of the typical politician: ‘now I can change government policies to those I believe in.’ I of course don’t believe that a new boss is incapable of making change and don’t understand why you would read my statements in such an unreasonable way.
Let me correct you: your interpretation of my comment is arrant nonsense.
Quite a few progressive criticisms are in favor of an ideal that is not what the founders of the US intended, though. They intentionally didn’t create a proportional system, to ensure that the populous regions wouldn’t dominate the less populated regions. Fighting for the interests of the less populated regions typically means fighting to weaken the political power of populated regions, while fighting for the interests of the populated regions typically means fighting to weaken the political power of less populated regions.
Note that ‘populism’ seems to be in part a response to the increasing dominance of urban areas and culture. This means that populists are often culturally and economically marginalized.
I’m not arguing dealing with antifa violence is morally compulsory. I brought it up because I thought it’d be interesting to discuss and hear other peoples opinions, not because I’m delusional enough to believe that arguing about things on the internet is part of some great moral cause.
For example, I was interested to learn that both Kate and Rebecca Watson aren’t all that different from Gavin McInnes in their support of violence. One side is trying to use violence to stop the Nazis from gaining power and murdering tens of millions of people, while the other side is trying to use violence to stop the Communists from gaining power and murdering tens of millions of people. Both sides, to some degree, weakening freedom and democracy while causing the sorts of violence and political chaos that gives rise to opportunities for ideological extremists or dictatorial popularists to seize unchecked power. It could be hilarious if not for the fact that people are getting seriously hurt.
Let me remind you that you’re the guest here. Grace’s statement was very carefully worded to allow for the ways in which your claim might be valid. Note the emphasis I’ve added, in case you missed it:
claimresponse to her, on the other hand, which does not acknowledge that qualification, is the rhetorical equivalent of “I know you are but what am I?” It’s not the first time you’ve descended to that level of discourse in these comment threads, and this is not the first time I’m pointing it out to you. So I will ask you again, please stop it.
More substantively, though, my original question, from which this discussion devolves, was about whether or not the federal government has some kind of rule in place that they must appeal decisions that go against them. If not, I am reasonably certain that the decision to appeal will not be made by, as you put it in your response to me, the “people who argue the case initially,” but rather by higher ups. Those higher ups, however, were not the focus of your initial response. Rather, you focused on those who have to argue the government’s case and their ostensible inability to accept that a decision went against them (which presumably, if I correctly understand the logic of your initial response to me, results in appeals like the one I originally posted about). In that response, you wrote:
The substance of Grace’s response to you, which was in her second paragraph, was to point out that this is inaccurate. Any lawyer worth her or his salt will be able to argue both sides of a case more or less dispassionately. They have to be able to do so in order to argue effectively for the side they are being paid to represent. This doesn’t preclude, of course, the possibility that some lawyers will sometimes take on cases in which they believe fervently enough that they would refuse to represent the other side, or be unable to represent the other side effectively. Hence Grace’s hedge, “stated as a universal inability,” in her response to you.
Government lawyers are paid by the government to represent the government’s position. They are indeed, to some degree, to use your words, “puppets in the hands of the sitting president,” in the sense that they cannot fire their client without losing their job. (The same might also be said for lawyers who work for law firms and who do not have the seniority or authority to pick and choose the clients they represent.) Indeed, if you go back and watch the woman making the argument in the video I posted, and from which this conversation devolves, I think you can hear in her voice that she is very uncomfortable making the argument she is trying to make, that she is being paid to make on behalf of the US government. Nonetheless, she persists in making the argument.
You, in other words, changed the goal posts here by choosing to respond to Grace’s critique of your claim as if what you originally said, and what she was therefore critiquing, had more to do with the decision-makers (which you barely mentioned in your original comment) than with the lawyers who are paid to carry out those decisions (which is what your original response to me was focused on). I think you owe her an apology.
First of all, when you say “regions”, what you mean is ‘states’. Rhode Island is a state with a small population that is part of a region with a large population; it is treated as a small state for the purposes of representation. The Adirondacks are a region with a small population in a state with a large population; this region is not given increased weight for its small population. Populous and less populated “regions” have no relevance to the weight of representation in the American system of government.
Moreover, you are utterly moving the goalposts. Above you said:
To the extent that the system that the founders of the US intended is not one that exhibits this property, we have no particular reason to be loyal to it. If democracy and its prerequisite freedoms provide profound improvements, well, one of the major parties in American government is in favor of those improvements, and one is apparently opposed to them.
Oops, sorry, I think it was deispis that said that.
Kate, I agree with these people, I also think people who talk like that are high info voters with a super high likelihood of turning out and voting D. I even agree that during the campaign Sanders was “tone deaf” about race and gender politics. He’s really only got one tone anyways. I just don’t think this tone deafness is actually predictive of policy differences, IOW, what proposals would Clinton put forth that would be better for minorities than those that Bernie would put forth? An even better example is Kamala Harris and her surging support in the current primary. She’s the opposite of “tone deaf,” her debate performance was just killer, but her actual record is abysmal. She said the right things and signaled the right loyalties, and many voters will look past all the nonviolent offenders she’s thrown in jail. Is there any reason to think she’ll be better for minority voters than any other candidate? I’m not seeing it. And theres no reason to think she’d be better at getting things done than Biden would be- thats his major selling point, IMO.
I think Marianne Williamson is an unfortunate distraction, but during the most recent debate she made the point that Trump didn’t win because he had solid policy proposals, he won because people felt something when they heard “make America great again.” I thought that was one of the most important and true statements of the night. That kind of rhetoric reaches people on the margins in a way that tax plans and trade agreements don’t. (At this point I’m starting to wonder if my blue collar background gives me a different thumbnail of the average American voter, like you should have heard the heated political discussion in my Union’s heritage classes fueled in part by the invasion of Iraq under GWB. It was so far removed from the kinda of discussion I see here, I can’t do it justice trying to explain it. When Kate says “you aren’t listening” I want to laugh, I mean, here I am. When’s the last time you listened to a high voltage electrician or pile driver talk politics? Democrats can’t lose these people.)
As for the “turn out the base vs capture the swing voters” debate, I think our electoral college system favors the second strategy, even if the first strategy results in a higher popular vote total. Maybe it’s possible to energize a democratic base in a State like Wisconsin? I don’t really know, but I’m not sure what could possibly be more energizing than having Trump as an opponent for anyone, be it Sanders, Clinton, Harris or whoever. I do know that the analysis at places like 538 suggests that 3rd party and undecided voters are more heavily concentrated in states like Michigan and Wisconsin, and that the importance of these voters and the degree to which their votes correlate was underestimated by pretty much everyone, and this includes Hillary’s team.
Finally, appealing to centrism as a way of stopping fascism is good because it doubles as a means of stopping radical leftism which has also been deadly. Win the center! It’s really hard for fascism to justify it’s existence by drawing our attention to centrists. Those people need polarisation, tension and social distrust.
This is simply dishonest. Gavin McInnes and his “side” aren’t using violence to stop Communists from gaining power and murdering tens of millions of people, they’re using violence to stop black men from marrying white women, to stop Muslim and Hispanic immigration, and to stop the non-existent Jewish conspiracy. If you did literally any research into these people at all, you’d see that they talk about each and every one of these issues more than they talk about Communism.
Gah, I always mess up the quoting. Let me try again:
This is simply dishonest. Gavin McInnes and his “side” aren’t using violence to stop Communists from gaining power and murdering tens of millions of people, they’re using violence to stop black men from marrying white women, to stop Muslim and Hispanic immigration, and to stop the non-existent Jewish conspiracy. If you did literally any research into these people at all, you’d see that they talk about each and every one of these issues more than they talk about Communism.
Right-wing violence is flatly a bigger problem in the US than anything “antifa” is doing. I don’t support punching anyone. Sure, that’s bad.
But, how many deaths are antifa responsible for? Every single extremist killing in the US in 2018 was linked to right-wing extremism.
And that’s before you get into the murder of immigrant children in detention facilities. Let’s talk about the actual problem here.
Another example of the Proud Boys peaceful history.
This is such a ludicrously unfair attack on Kate. Please don’t do this again.
I don’t actually know any electricians (median salary over $50,000). But I doubt they all have identical political opinions.
Thinking about people I’ve spoken to about politics, I’ve spoken to nurses, teachers, retail workers, secretaries, science workers, writers and cartoonists, sex workers, carpenters, food truck workers, contractors, accountants, building superintendents, and many others.
I can think of a bunch of people I’ve talked to about politics who are near or below the poverty line – and few who earn over the median salary for electricians. Of the two “Alas” participants whose occupations I remember offhand, one is a retired police officer, the other is a manager at a meat warehouse.
Have you considered that, when you imply that people here never talk about politics with anyone who is working class, you might be relying on a stereotype?
IMO, Biden’s major selling point is the belief that he’s “electable.” Or perhaps his incredibly high degree of name recognition (combined with his association with Obama).
My biggest single problem with Biden – also my single biggest problem with Bernie – is that neither of them seems to have a clue of how they’d get anything done in the current political environment. Worst, they don’t seem to even fully perceive the problem (at least, not in their public personas). Biden, for example, seems to believe that if he were in office, he’d be able to charm Senate republicans and get them to allow Democratic policies to pass the Senate.
I think Harris – because she has no illusions that Republicans are going to suddenly change once Trump is out of office – has a better shot of getting something done than Biden. (Although Harris isn’t who I’m supporting – I’ve given money to Warren and to Castro).
I think a better argument is that it depends on the composition of the state’s voters, rather than one strategy being the best in all 50+ states.
Having a candidate that people are actually excited about. (This is Sanders’ biggest advantage). Positive (“I love my candidate”) combined with negative (“Trump!”) is better than negative alone.
But also, it’s not just the energy – it’s what’s done with the energy. It’s how effective a candidate is at building a national campaign organization. Which is hard for us to see, from the outside, but it is something that (to some extent) the primary system rewards. (Also, maybe none of this matters much and it’s mostly about demographics and the economy.)
* * *
Earlier, I misunderstood what you meant about writing to a candidate begging them to go to Wisconsin versus marching with someone who has a crowbar. Thanks for clarifying what you meant.
But I think that presenting the choices as if they are mutually exclusive is a false framing.
I also wonder what you mean by “marching with someone with a crowbar” (paraphrasing because I’m too lazy to look it up). If I attend a march, and someone with a crowbar attends that same march, am I marching with them – even if I never see them or their crowbar?
* * *
Regarding Clinton not spending time in Wisconsin, that might not have mattered. Quoting Nate Silver:
Any close election has a lot of factors that could have changed the outcome. But if we had to point to one thing that decided the 2016 election, it was the Comey letter.
Almost. An executive position at a cold storage & refrigerated transportation business as well as the same position at a food distributor. You certainly don’t want to consider me as working class, if that was the intent, because I’m not. While I am not a member of the .01% or even 1%, I’m pretty high up there by any reasonable standard. Although you can put me in the White Voters without a college degree group.
J Squid – I wasn’t saying that you’re working class (and apologies for getting your job title wrong). But neither are you someone who works all day in cocktail parties and never speaks to anyone from the working class; I know from talking to you that you have regular (I’d guess daily) conversations with people at all levels of the cold storage and refrigerated transportation slash also food distributor business.
As an aside, why is it that people in idle conversation use electricians or pile driver operators (median pay of around $64,000) as examples of the sort of ordinary American liberals need to think more about
a liberal like me has allegedly never spoken to, but folks like McDonalds workers or movie theater ushers – who get paid MUCH less – are rarely brought up as examples?
I don’t say this to pick on you Jeffrey – it’s not you, it’s everybody. It’s a normal way Americans speak about the working class. But it’s interesting to me that “working class” is at least partly separated from “class” – a pile driver operator getting paid $70,000 a year is considered solidly working class in a way that a bookstore clerk or barista making $18,000 a year is not.
Yes, the vast majority of my daily interactions are with working class folks – warehouse workers, maintenance techs, truck drivers, clerks of various activities and so on.
Now that you point it out, I can see your intention. However I read it as, “The two I can remember are commonly working class jobs.” My mistake.
(As horrible as my job has become over the last 18 months, I can’t imagine wanting to work all day among people who attend cocktail parties. I grew up with those people and, to this day, they upset and depress me to no end. I mean, sure, if it paid enough so that I could retire securely after a year, I could stand it for that long. With the aid of all the intoxicants I can get my hands on.)
After you commented, J, I can see how what I wrote was unclear.
* * *
Remember a few years ago it seemed like every pundit was quoting taxi drivers they met as examples of salt of the earth ordinary folk who just so happened to agree with whatever point the pundit wished to make? I think that eventually enough people made fun of it that the pundits stopped doing that.
For myself, Amp, I’ll have you know that I engaged only in high-end, boutique law enforcement, with the very classiest level of society. If you don’t withdraw your scurrilous imputation that I might be working class, sirrah, I shall meet you at dawn, with pistols for two.
It’s the, “sirrah,” that made me fall, laughing, out of my chair .
In Jeffrey’s defense, working class is as meaningfully applied to a specific culture as it is to a certain level of income. There are lots of working class folks who manage to make their way to a comfortably middle class income who are still culturally working class.
J Squid, that’s a good point.
Another view on antifa, proud boys & Ngo
The Psychology of Antifa – Fascinating interview with someone who is both an antifa veteran and political scientist.
Listening to that interview, and reading other opinions like J Squid’s like above, it becomes clear how the “community self-defence” justification has strong parallels with the motivations behind groups antifa opposes, like the EDL and Patriot Prayer. The attack on Andy Ngo could certainly be put forward as an example of how antifa represents a violent threat to the community and hence it’s justified to use violence against them as a form of “self-defence”. The obvious potential for a positive feedback loop leading to the violence getting out of control is why such vigilante violence is so morally dubious.
Feeling like this right now.
Another great piece on fascism by Contrapoints.
Sorry, I do want to acknowledge Chris @118, Celeste @120 and Amp @122. I know I’m not alone here.
I love ContraPoints! Pretty much the only political youtuber, right or left, I enjoy watching.
What do you think would have happened if Mr. Ngo had produced a handgun and shot and killed the people assaulting him? It seems to me that at least in the case of the person or people who struck him he would have been entirely within his rights of self-defense to do so.
From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary:
While the focus of discussion of fascism in America concerns extremists on the right, it seems to me that most of these elements are satisfied by extremists on the left as well. Certainly we see exaltation of some races (non-whites) over others (whites). They clearly stand for emphasizing centralized government control over individual rights (e.g. seeking “hate speech” exceptions to the 1st Amendment and confiscation or severe restriction of 2nd Amendment rights). The “Green New Deal” would impose severe economic regimentation. Demanding recognition of transsexuals as actually belonging to the opposition sex from the one they were born in and using the force of law/regulation to require they be allowed to use whatever bathroom they choose in schools, et. al. is a form of social regimentation. The insistence of attempting to impose the restraints and conditions of the Paris Agreement without bringing it to the Senate for ratification is one example of an act of a dictatorial leader. And at least some members of “Antifa” practice forcibly suppressing political opposition.
J. Squid, I have always thought of “working class” as being defined on the basis of the kind of job you have, not the income you have. I know a man who does elevator repair and has been making a 6-figure annual income for many years. Plenty of plumbers, electricians, welders, etc. make a lot more money than someone with a non-STEM college degree.
RonF, can any “form of social regimentation” be used in this way to insinuate that it is an “element” of fascism? Would the Civil Rights Act of 1964 qualify?
You’re concerned about individual rights (and so am I). I work in a school. Like all human beings, I routinely need to use a toilet. Do you think I should be forced to use the men’s room, either by force of law, or by the law permitting my coworkers, the students, or the administration to penalize me if I don’t?
You have just argued that the law permitting me to use the public-access bathroom which will be safest for me and for everyone (because it will alarm no one) is fascistic, or at least is one of “these elements” in a “focus of discussion of fascism”, whatever that means. Kindly extend me the courtesy of explaining why.
I can’t speak for Ron, but for me it isn’t about the specificity of the rule.
“Transwomen must use the women’s bathroom” is a rule.
“Transwomen must use the men’s bathroom” is a rule.
“Organisations must let transwomen use whatever bathroom they choose” is a rule.
What’s important isn’t the rule itself, but rather that there is a social rule that is being forced homogeneously throughout society from the top down (either legally or socially). The “liberal” approach, as distinct from an “authoritarian” approach such as “fascism” or “communism”, would be to let the organisations or communities decide for themselves what rules they would adopt; letting society be a patchwork quilt of heterogeneous communities rather than a homogeneous mono-culture that reflects a particular view on the proper way to do things.
I don’t think we necessarily need to be to the liberal extreme on all issues to avoid being fascist. However, it does seem a bit hypocritical to be authoritarian or fascistic on one set of pet issues (race or gender) while throwing such a label around for others who are so on a different set of pet issues (Christianity or Americana).
You haven’t answered my question, either.
You seem to want to engage in a theoretical debate. I asked a very specific question, and I asked it of Ron.
Since you’ve attempted to answer it, and I have a little time, I’ll engage with you. But I still want the courtesy of a reply from Ron.
Sure. “Restaurant owners should be able to choose for themselves whether to serve Black people” is a rule, too.
It may not be important to you, because the rule you are defending at the moment is one which does not apply to you. It’s very important to me. Because it does apply to me.
And if that’s bad, then people should be free to discriminate against anybody, for any reason. Are you taking that position? If you are, then I have no interest in debating nonsense.
If you aren’t, then I’d like to descend from the rarified heights of drawing-room theorizing down to the very real, very present, very nitty-gritty of whether Ron thinks I should be trying to shit in the men’s room. (And if you think my language is vulgar, imagine how much more vulgar things get when a human being can’t safely dispose of their feces.)
I pass as cisgender. In a world where the local society mandates that I use the men’s room, I can’t participate. Do I bring along Tupperware to shit into? Do I do that in a spare conference room, or what? How does that work?
In this world where all bathrooms are barred to me by law or considerations of safety, how do I participate? How do I even testify before a legislative committee? Is it liberal to bar a class of people from participation by the simple expedient of making it dangerous for them to do so? Is that liberal?
Do you have dark hair? How would you participate, in a world where you were not permitted to use the bathrooms for people with light hair, and there were sometimes people lurking in bathrooms for your kind, people waiting to “stomp [you] into a mudhole”? What do you suppose you would do?
When people like you and Ron invoke trans women and bathrooms as a handy talking point, I know that it must be inconvenient that I, an actual woman who is trans, surface and challenge you. One would think that you and Ron would stop doing it. But here we are. And until I get hit by a bus or the moderators at Alas decide that trans people and bathrooms is a decided issue that we’re not going to waste more time on, here at Alas, I guess I’ll just have to keep doing it.
I’d still like a reply from Ron. Past behavior being the best predictor of future behavior, my money is on him disappearing for awhile, and then returning to comment about something unrelated as though nothing ever happened. But hope springs eternal.
See also: Whenever it’s pointed out that it is legal to enter our country to apply for asylum.
And Grace–beautifully written and powerfully argued as always. You always bring what many see as theoretical down to earth in a way that anyone can understand.
Is it utter coincidence that I was thinking exactly the same thing before I even got to this final paragraph?
I don’t see the nitty-gritty as relevant to the discussion about the use of the term “fascism” or the idea of “social regimentation”.
Of course you don’t. To paraphrase The Young Ones, there are still undiscovered tribes in the Amazon that knew you were going to say that. This may be why you’re repeatedly having the same discussions here.
The problem with using ‘authoritarian’ as one end of a spectrum is that it is a slur which implies a dichotomy of oppression vs freedom. Yet freedom from collective rules for individuals ultimately either means a Darwinian struggle, where the strong dominate the weak, or a society where we stop interacting (or both).
People need a framework to thrive. As Newton said: “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”. However, that goes beyond mere scientific discovery and extends to institutions, laws, infrastructure, culture, etc. Upholding what has been achieved and providing positive liberty for the weak(er) requires obligations (and not exclusively on the strong).
Fascism is at the core the maximizing of the obligations on the individual for the benefit of the collective, at the expense of choice, personal well-being and such, while libertarianism is the opposite. Trying to maximize either runs into severe problems. Maximizing collectivism ignores the needs of and/or oppresses the non-standard. It demands sacrifice beyond the reasonable. However, minimizing it destroys the collective & makes for a selfish society.
You are describing communitarianism, which is not maximally libertarian, because the organisations/communities are then (partially) collectivist.
Some issues with communitarianism as an ideal are that:
– it still requires collective rules for when the communities interact
– it requires collective rules for what society will accept within the communities
– it requires an agreement for when the rules of the community apply to a person
Note that ‘nations’ are distinct communities with different rules. So we already have that, although perhaps not on the scale you desire.
PS. Note that JFK was heralded for his collectivist statements:
– “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country”
– “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty”
I agree with you. It’s not relevant at all… until Ron cites what is clearly, to him, a sanitized, theoretical issue in his both-sides argument. And then, suddenly, the details matter. Because if you’re not taking the position that all social control is insupportable — and I don’t think either of you has made that argument, nor do I think you would — then as a society we have to make decisions about which forms of social control we’re going to enforce with the might and power of the state, and which we aren’t. Those decisions have to be made based upon criteria, and that involves getting into the details.
Implicit in Ron’s argument was the notion that people who are trans being able to select their bathroom is an insupportable overreach of governmental control. (If it’s not, then what does it have to do with “the focus of discussion of fascism in America”?) He clearly thinks it is.
I think it isn’t. I’m willing to back my opinion up with facts and reason, with details. It’s not unreasonable to expect him to do the same, especially when he brings it up.
In this tiny space in this tiny corner of the Internet, I will not permit someone to go unchallenged when they try to use the nitty-gritty of my existence in my country as a bogeyman.
[edited to fix a typo]
It’s not at all helpful to construe “fascism” loosely as a synonym for generic autocracy. Fascism has a historical referent–an autocratic, right-wing movement in Italy, and more loosely a group of the Italian Fascists’ contemporary parties including the Nazis. Many subsequent political movements admire and emulate the Fascists and are properly called “fascist.”
Insisting on the equal worth of all people and on equal rights for all, however inflexibly, is not fascist. Degrading and humiliating trans people in the name of liberty is not opposition to fascism.
if you are not free then the government and police will make you do it, i think that is the other side? i do not like that so much.
i think that “free to do what you want” is what we should have most of the time, yes, even if it is a bad idea or unfriendly and mean. i think you are free not to like people who do not think like you do about being trans, also, i think it would be wrong if i told you that you could not discriminate against them. i think that people are okay not to like you for being trans, too.
of course there can be some things where the government and police will make people do things they do not want to do, even if alot of them are mad about it. but also i think we should try to keep those things small and not let them grow too big. i think that most of the time it is better to have people get to do what they want, and its alot more true when you are telling them what to do with their own stuff.
you should be free to try to shit in the mens room if you want, or the womens room if you want. you should be free to do and try what you want to do and try. you should also be free to be trans or not if you want and to dress like you want. also everyone else should be free to act like they want to. and the person who owns the mens room and womens room should be free to make their own rules about who can go in the mens or the womens. if you own a bathroom you can make up your own rules, maybe one is only for trans people, or one is only for liberals, too.
but this is a good place for a small law. like people should have to let people use a bathroom, mens or womens, it is too unfair to say “no bathroom for you at all”.
lurker23, four sentences later:
Which is it?
What’s that, I hear? Is that the dulcet tones of someone encountering a theoretical problem for the very first time and proposing a solution which seems obvious, must not ever have been proposed before, and won’t work?
So it would be okay for the owner of a business to say that white people have to use one bathroom and black people have to use another bathroom?
Mea culpa. What’s been happening is that the amount of time I have to comment and reply here used to be a lot more than it is now (for various reasons, including my employment situation) and by the time I would be able to answer it seems to me that everyone has moved on.
To at least try to answer your question:
My position here is based on the fact that while surgeons and endocrinologists can do near-miracles, they cannot change a man into a woman or vice versa. For many people these days (perhaps you) that qualifies as “hate speech” or “transphobia”, but I reject both of those; I hold that it is simply reality. It’s my understanding that there’s a lot of people who identify as feminists that agree with me. I don’t accept the comparison to racism because one’s race is an unalterable fact. I think that people should be perfectly free to adopt whatever persona they care to – change your name, wear your hair or clothing as you please, modify your body through surgery or drugs, whatever. But I don’t think that anyone else should be forced by law to accept that. I rather imagine that you find this offensive. I do not write this with the intent to offend, but you’ve basically demanded my answer; there it is.
To address the far more practical (and entirely legitimate) question of “Where do I take a shit?”, I don’t have a clear-cut answer. If your choice of bathroom would not correspond to your sex but that would be undetectable to anyone else in the bathroom, then it wouldn’t matter to me. I realize that it does matter to some people, but I have no control over that. I’m willing to go along with “It’s all about how you present.”
To the main point, though, what we are talking about is requiring by law that laws and practices based on the understanding of one of the basic facts of human existence be overturned on what seems to me to be a false premise. That is authoritarian.
So, there’s a lot of stuff that I don’t accept that I still have to make room for.
Most religious (or at least most Christian) practices strike me as a bit silly. I still have to be willing to let other people do silly things sometimes.
If I believe people are incorrect for thinking they are “a woman,” I still need to make room for them when they are not swinging punches that are not near my nose.
As far as I know, no one is proposing rules that would stop one from having a policy in your home bathroom that excludes trans people. This is about public accommodation, and we make authoritarian rules about what people do in public all the time. Don’t walk around with your dick or pussy hanging out is an authoritarian rule. Don’t drink and drive on a public road is an authoritarian rule. Don’t masturbate onto bus stop signs in full view in daylight hours… you get the point. You support many authoritarian things. One must make a case that the authoritarianism not only exists in a given case, but is more salient than any countervailing social factors.
both, i think: you can ask or try to get in anyway, and they can say no, but if there is a fight they will win.
i am not sure what the dulcet tone means, but i think this will work, some people will not like either solution, i think? you want the solution which you like best, of course you do and i would want that as well! they want the solution they like best, of course they do. but only one person will win and if someone has to win i think the person who owns it should probably win most of the time. they may not win all of it, like they may have to let people use their bathroom even if they want to say no to everything.
i don’t think so, black and white people have nothing to do with why bathrooms are different, that has to do with men and women.
yes and that can be good! but we need to try to make the rules as small as we can and also we need to try not to make alot of them. so we need to always think how to make rules less and smaller. i think alot of times people try to say public accomoding so they do not have to always think that but not all public accomoding things need big rules.
Bathrooms are different for cultural, not biological reasons. There is, for example, nothing inherent in having a penis that requires one to pee standing up. Indeed, if men agreed to pee sitting down, the way women do, men’s rooms could be constructed identically to women’s rooms (and they’d probably be a lot cleaner too).
Nor is there any inherently biological reasons why people with penises and people with vaginas cannot use the same public bathroom. When I lived in Korea, I was in a restaurant in a small town—one that catered to a primarily Korean clientele—and when I went to the bathroom, this was my experience. I walked into a room with urinals lined up against one of the side walls. Along the back wall were doors, maybe three or four of them, to the toilets (which were traditional Korean toilets, not Western pedestal-style toilets). I needed to pee so I stood by one of the urinals, and while I was peeing, a woman—a customer, I think, but it might have been one of the waitresses—walked in and went straight to one of the doors along the back. It made me uncomfortable at first, since I wasn’t used to having a woman walk into the room while I was peeing, but more than a few of the places where I socialized had similar facilities, and I eventually got used to it. No one else batted an eye at the fact that both men and women were using the same restroom and, eventually, neither did I.
So, rather than argue about which public bathrooms trans people should and should not be allowed to use, maybe it’s time to rethink our public bathroom culture.
Huh. My wife and I manage to use the same bathroom—same toilet, even—at home. I grew up in a house with all women except for myself, and we only had the one bathroom. I’ve used bathrooms in the houses of friends and family, and never noticed differences in the toilet situation based on gender, though the ones at households run by women seemed a bit nicer. Is there some biological reason I shouldn’t have been using these bathrooms all along that I’ve managed to remain uninformed about for the thirty years I’ve been alive? Because that would be very embarrassing.
Ron, you wrote:
I am curious about something. Historically, there have been cases—and I am guessing there still are—in which, because of, say, a botched penile circumcision or some other medical condition, doctors performed gender reassignment surgery on a child with a penis, and that child’s parents then raised it as a girl—meaning, in other words, that all this happened when the child was young enough that she would never know she “should have been” a boy.
Leaving aside the fact that these cases are deeply problematic for a whole host of reasons, both cultural and medical, I want to engage you in a thought experiment. Assume for the moment that the reassignment was completely successful and the child grew into an adult who experienced herself as, lived her life unselfconsciously as, was happy with herself as, a woman, albeit an infertile one. Suppose you met that woman and somehow learned her history. Would you insist she was really a man? Would you say such a thing to her face? Would you insist that she be defined as a man under the law? Why or why not?
@Richard: I am all for rethinking, but I think many trans women would not be comfortable with the situation you have described, where they need to share a bathroom with cis men. I am not sure I, as a cis man, would be comfortable calling on them to reconsider – not even indirectly, through a call for cis men to reconsider.
And given the ear so many Korean women feel that they will be spied on by cis men while using bathrooms, I am not sure that, even if I were to call on people to reconsider, I would use the situation in Korea as an example to be followed.
Oh gosh, thanks for pointing that out. I did not mean that I think the Korean model, as I experienced it more than 30 years ago, is one we should adopt. I meant simply to point out, in response to lurker’s comment, that public bathroom arrangements are culturally, not biologically determined.
Ron, thank you for replying.
This is partly a definitional issue. I don’t know what your definition of “man” and “woman” are, but it’s clear that they have little or nothing to do with how a person self-understands, and the things which flow from that. For you, as far as I can tell, it matters more, perhaps entirely, what the person’s genitals looked like at birth.
You think that’s fine, or at best, a regrettable, unavoidable fact. I think the evidence is plentiful that it’s a definition which leads to worse outcomes, both for individual humans who are trans, and for people in general.
That is demonstrably not true. I’m pretty sure it’s been demonstrated pretty clearly here, or at least the demonstrations have been linked to, many times. There are plenty of black people who can pass as white, and some of them do; that’s where the whole “passing” terminology came from. There are plenty of human beings occupying liminal spaces where any given system has no place for them, including the ridiculous USAn white/black/latinx/indian/pacific-islander/other system. Jews, at one point, were not considered white by the mainstream. Likewise Irish people, and Poles. Whiteness is far, far less a biological construct than being trans is.
Not per se, no; I really only care about it as it makes my life needlessly difficult, and the lives of people like me needlessly difficult, especially children. (Also, I care about it as it’s a safety issue, as the people who would like to kill me almost universally hold views like yours; we both know enough set theory to understand that I’m not saying that you want to kill me or hurt me; I’m just saying that your views are overwhelmingly dominant among people who do.) I shouldn’t need to go into detail yet again; you’ve been here long enough that I think I can reasonably expect you to have read the evidence. I think you’re free to ignore the consequences almost entirely, and so they don’t matter as much to you. I think that’s very human, and also not very empathetic.
Okay. So people who can pass as cis pass your muster. Are you aware that that’s not the legal structure you brought up?
The people whose basic needs are met by an equal-access law are doing no harm to anyone else. So, no, it’s not authoritarian; it’s humanitarian. It’s no different from white people being required to use bathrooms with black people, or to accept medical care from black medical professionals; the people with the problem are not the people who simply want to go about their business in peace; the people with the problem are those who want to control other people so that they don’t have to grapple with their own issues. To enforce that dynamic is definitely authoritarian.
I think when lurker says “men and women’s bathrooms are different” he means different rooms, not functionally different, even though public ones often are. Its sounds like he’s saying that there are biological reasons why we have separate rooms.
yes of course i know that but so what? it is not like cultural is some magic word which makes the problem go away, i am not so stupid not to know what culture is. it is nice to know in korea they have different problems, i am not surprised, but it does not change these problems.
i do not think we need to have big man and women bathrooms, i think it would be nicer for everyone to have alot of little ones. but that is not what we are talking about
why do you think that? i do not think that is right at all. they do not have a need met by god, they have a need met by someone else. some people are made to give basic needs to other people even though they do not want to, that is a harm. if it is your bathroom and you want me to stay out then i harm you when i use it.
some things are big and important and some harms are not-big, so sometimes people should have to do things even if they do not want to! but that does not mean there is no harm it just means that we should do it anyway.
also you are maybe using the word basic in a funny way? like if a basic need is just getting to go poo then you can get the need with alot of ways. even if you get told to use a room you do not like you still can go poo.
if you want to go poo in a room you like and if you want people to act the way you like then that is a good thing, i want that too! but i do not think that is a basic need, it is a not-basic need.
Stepping back and looking at the broad pattern of decisions being made, and considering the consequences of such patterns, doesn’t require getting into the details of any particular decision. Getting into the details will tend distract from such a discussion, as it seems to have done here.
I realise you were probably considering the physiological aspects, however I think it would be rather presumptuous to claim there are no biologically driven psychological impacts from sharing a bathroom with members of the opposite sex. Culture doesn’t evolve in a vacuum, and there may be aspects of our bio-psychology that the cultural approach to separate bathrooms has evolved to manage.
I was thinking more the sort of grass-roots community that is built on top of individual rights and freedoms (e.g. contract, property rights), rather than any sort of formalised community legal structures (e.g. local government).
Sure. What do you think are the psychological impacts of forcing transwomen and cis men to share bathrooms? What about transmen and cis women?
Urinals are strongly biology-driven. Are you familiar with how (cis) men and women urinate in nature? I’ve never seen a man adopt a crouching stance when doing so or a woman adopt a standing stance.
LOL’s comment made me realize that the following, which I wrote above, is inaccurate:
The inaccuracy, however, is not that there is a biological imperative requiring people with penises to pee standing up. It might be easier to do so, given the physiology of the penis, but it’s not like it would do harm to someone with a penis if that person were to choose to pee sitting down. Rather, the inaccuracy in what I wrote lies is in the fact that there’s nothing about a toilet bowl that requires a man to pee sitting down.
The point is not that culture is a “magic word,” but that treating the question of how public bathrooms are used as a cultural question, rather than one that is driven by biology/physiology reveals the underlying assumptions of our particular cultural configuration.
I see. Are urinals the only possible way to deal wit cis male urination in restrooms?
How many urinals do you have in your home? I currently have none, despite being a cis male. I didn’t grow up with any, and never see them in friends’ or family’s houses, even the ones where cis men reside. Are we all going to the bathroom wrong?
I’ve been in places where cis men crouch to urinate. It’s considered more modest and seemly. One strange facet of western culture(s) is a tendency to imagine cultural quirks are dictated by biology in some sort of absolute way.
i do not know if you clean toilets alot, but alot of men pee on the toilet unless they sit down.
standing urinal is not needed to pee of course! but they take not much room and use not much water and are cheap, all those things are good. for space and money you will have more men who can use bathroom with toilets and urinals both because alot of the time when people need bathroom they only have to pee.
lurker, I don’t think anyone is arguing that we outlaw urinals. I’ve never seen a men’s restroom that had only urinals. And of course, I’m pretty sure all men have had the experience of seeing an apologetic cis woman in their restroom because the ladies’ room was being cleaned, or had too long of a wait. It’s awkward but you get over it in like two seconds. So what’s the argument here? Trans men with vaginas shouldn’t use the men’s room because there are urinals in there? Trans women with penises have to use the men’s room because it’s the only one with urinals? The whole thing requires so many leaps in logic that it’s comical.
In reading back through these comments about urinals, because I was going to say something akin to what Chris said above, I realize that my writing has carelessly conflated the terms “man/men” and “people with penises” and that I have written “woman/women” when I should have written “people with vaginas.” I’m not going to go back and edit each of the places where I made this error, but I do want to acknowledge it, because it does, I think, undermine the effectiveness with which I was able to make my point.
Having said that, I also want to say that I thought Chris’ formulation of this aspect of the issue is really apt:
Indeed, it’s almost as if people are more worried about misgendering the bathroom rather than about the situation of the actual people who might have to use it.
haha, i am not always sure what Richard is arguing but okay :)
i don’t know what your argument is and i think more than one is happening now?
but i think the argument, not sure i can say it right, is that i think it is okay for someone to make a man and a woman bathroom, and also if they own it then they can have a rule and say who goes to what bathroom. i think any rule is going to make some people mad but since they own it then it makes sense to try to make the owner not as mad if we can.
i know some people think i am wrong in this thread but i think they are not all the same about why!! maybe some think is not okay to make man-woman bathrooms and other people think it is not okay to make a rule about who goes where, or maybe they think it is okay and just want a different rule or they want the rule to be made by someone they like, or they do not care alot who owns it? those are not the same.
I never fail to be astounded at the absurd dumbness people are willing to propound in order to provide support for their strong belief in exceedingly rigid gender roles. And control of others.
We’re having a serious discussion about why having a penis and the existence of urinals forbids trans folk from using the restroom. This is a discussion happening here. In 2019. About an issue that effects literally nobody who isn’t trans. Because urinals.
I have a story about a transman and bathrooms from here at work. It did not end the way proponents of the biologically necessary and, therefore, exclusionary presence of urinals theory would hope.
J. Squid, this debate reminds me of the countless arguments over gay marriage in which opponents consistently claimed that there was a biological basis for restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples; after all, they reasoned, only opposite-sex couples can have children! When the numerous exceptions to this allegedly inalterable biological rule were pointed out to them, they went in circles. I don’t know if “Trans people can’t use the bathroom that matches their identity, because urinals!” is any dumber than “Gay people can’t get married, because babies!” but it certainly is the same type of dumbness, just adjusted for the times.
I don’t think anyone here is arguing that people can’t exclude whoever they want to exclude from their personal bathrooms. The question is about what rules should cover public accommodations. Aside from divisions of religious organizations which don’t receive government funding, which can do as they please, in general (it is still legal for them to refuse to perform interracial marriages, for example) what most people are favoring are rules to maximize accessibility in public accommodations made by democratically elected governments.
To cite this as an example of left wing “fascism”, parallel to separating families legally seeking asylum and imprisoning them in concentration camps, as Ron does @140, just shows how far off the rails even formerly moderate conservatives and libertarians have gone.
I think you’re right, Chris, in your comparison to anti-SSM arguments. Somehow, though, this still seems dumber to me. At least the procreation absurdity tried to have a gloss of credibility and complexity. The biologically necessary and exclusionary urinal theory takes this to a whole ‘nother level of, “Did a person really say this?” Like, maybe, not simply being a cover for one’s bigotry but an actual belief on par with believing in Santa Claus as an adult.
But I’m sure if we get Robert George in on this novel theory, he’ll be more than happy to put that pseudo intellectual top coat on it and really make it shine.
I guess what I just keep coming back to is that Conservatives have been on the wrong side of every single civil rights issue I can think of. Certainly the wrong side of every single civil rights issue of my lifetime.
Racial discrimination, racial integration, women’s rights, gay rights, the rights of immigrants, employment discrimination, police brutality, pregnancy discrimination, discrimination against fat people …
Every. Single. Issue.
Every time there’s a question, Conservatives come down on the side of more oppression and more discrimination.
They may say that this time it’s different, this time it’s not just that they hate the outgroup and can’t resist spreading that hate and trying to make some Americans less equal.
But I’m not stupid. I’m not forgetting all the things they said about gay marriage just a few years ago.
Past performance isn’t always an indicator of future results, but when they’ve been making up pretty-sounding bullshit for decades, it doesn’t mean that we’re obligated to take their pretty sounding bullshit seriously this time, either.
True though that might be, I’m not sure how informative it is, since it basically seems to be to be a tautology. That’s the way we define which ideologies are “conservative”—the meaning of “conservative” in this context is ‘promoting the maintenance of traditional systems of privilege and oppression’.
That is a bit unfair to conservatives, AJD.
Sometimes being a conservative is about creating new, innovative systems of privilege and oppression.
Is it though? That sounds like more the business of radicals than conservatives (thought I suppose the groups overlap).
Like usual, you manage to misread me.
My point is not that men require urinals, but that urinals are strongly linked to biology. They work well for male anatomy, but poorly for female anatomy.
And I actually would quite like to have a urinal at home, but there are practical and cultural reasons that make this problematic. The benefits of urinals are highest in heavily trafficked bathrooms anyway (they are more space, water and time efficient than sit down toilets), where the cost/benefit of an additional facility is much better.
That’s probably due to a lack of imagination/knowledge on your part, where you ignore all the things that many progressives used to advocate for, but that were abandoned. If you merely look at the things that persist, then your view is a truism: progressive ideas that endured did endure.
Some examples of issues where (some) progressives lost:
– sex with the underage
– collective ownership of companies or goods in general
– busing to integrate schools
As regards busing to integrate schools and collective ownership of companies, Celeste said that conservatives were on the wrong side, not the unsuccessful side.
Indeed. I don’t consider the chief flaw in conservative opposition to racial integration or same sex marriage to be that it failed. They are morally repugnant positions, were morally repugnant positions even in their ascendance, and the people who espoused them should not be trusted when it comes to discussion of other issues.
LimitsOfLanguage, do you consider the chief flaw of segregationists to be their execution of the segregationist ideas? Or do you believe that there is an underlying moral flaw that makes those ideas repugnant?
As for your other “examples”:
The US Left has been anti-communist (though not anti-socialist) for my entire lifetime. Using this as an example is evidence that you’re discussing an imaginary leftism. I understand, it’s easier to attack.
What? This is delusional.
Every movement has its loonies, sure, but the positions I cited were or are mainstream within conservatism – many of them the official positions of the Republican party.
When was the moral acceptability of sex with a minor mainstream on the left?
“Is it though?”
Yes it is. The War on Terror legal structure (Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, Guantanamo, Extraordinary Rendition, military tribunals, “Enemy Combatants” etc etc) is all very new – it isn’t based on any kind of traditional structures. But it is a system designed by conservatives to repress people. So, give them due credit – they’re not content to just practice the old, tried and true methods of stomping on the poor, they are willing to brainstorm new ways too.
That’s a pretty bold claim, Gracchus. (That they aren’t based on any traditional structures.) FWIW, I think there are definitely creative abuses given whatever tools people have on hand — and while conservatives are subject to many of the militaristic ones at this time in the US, I acknowledge that this is an aspect of human nature which has manifested differently in other times and contexts — but I think it would be fairly difficult to establish that there are no roots in past systems. (Partially because I’m fairly sure there are totally roots in past systems.)
I’m not a military history person, but a number of the things you mention seem to concern surveillance and othering/vilifying enemies, and those are definitely goals for which historical systems have established roots that underlie our growth.
It’s hard to innovate something entirely new in the field of being jerks. Humans have been jerks to other humans for a long time.
I suspect, however, this conversation comes down to definitions of “roots” and “new.”
Gracchus, I think you misunderstood what I meant by “traditional systems” of oppression. The specific techniques you mention might be new, but the basic structure of privileging citizens (especially the ethnic majority) and oppressing foreigners is a very, very traditional system.
Well sure, there is some continuity, but there is no such thing as a totally novel system – there will always be some kind of connection to the past, even in a revolutionary situation (which this obviously is not)
But I would argue that the War on Terror infrastructure is pretty much a novelty in terms of military-judicial-carceral practices. Which is not to say every aspect of it is new, of course. But it is quite radically different from the more longstanding ways America (and other western governments) have sought to control, criminalise and cthonicise the bodies of men of colour. Practices such as the legal designation as enemy combatants or the rendition of prisoners to third party jurisdictions in order to maximise the ability to torture them are really novelties – if this cannot be considered an innovation, I dont know what can. Certainly, if an American soldier or prison officer or police officer was transported in time from the 1950s to the 2000s, he would find the practices very strange and even bewildering. Of course he would instinctively grasp the intent behind it, but that is another matter – the fact of oppression remains, but the practices used to implement it are about as novel as it is possible to be, and the continuity they contain is really a residual continuity. (Not to say that the more traditional forms of oppression dont continue to exist and thrive alongside them, of course).
Reading back over what I wrote and what others wrote I think the real crux of disagreement is over the word “system”.
I think you guys are talking about systems in the sense that patriarchy or kyriarchy is a system. In that case, no, you are right, these are not new systems.
I meant system in the sense we might talk about the prison system or the military system or a security system – a set of policies, procedures, ideas, norms etc that are more or less consciously produced and followed, that sit atop patriarchy and kyriarchy and other similar concepts.
If we use the latter definition of system, there are new systems. (And there always have been new systems – the prison industrial complex itself is fairly new in the overall history of kyriarchy).
If we use the former definition of systems, no, there are not new systems, merely new practices. I would almost go so far as to say that a “new system” under that definition is a tautology – it would not really be possible to create a new system without eradicating patriarchy as an idea altogether, and that seems impossible.
You used the word cthonicise in your comment above. I’m just curious: did you mean chthonicise? I’m asking because I cannot find the first spelling anywhere, and, if you meant the latter, I am just enjoying the fact that you turned chthonic into a verb.
Yes, my mistake. My spellcheck doesn’t recognise the word in either form so I typo-ed.
I’ve encountered “chthonicise” in sociology texts before, and I felt it fitted.
“A 1978 study by the RAND Corporation set out to find why whites were opposed to busing and concluded that it was not because they held racist attitudes, but because they believed it destroyed neighborhood schools and camaraderie and increased discipline problems.”
I understand that you want to make this about ideals, because it favors progressives, whose flaw tend to be to ignore reality in favor of naive idealism.
So leftism outside of the US is imaginary?
Also, there are and were American communists. One killed JFK.
Advocacy for pedophilia was more prominent in Europe, but existed in the US too and initially got a decent amount of support from the gay left. Three pedophilia advocacy groups, two of which American, were part of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, which kicked them out after the UN threatened to ban them from participating in the UN. This in turn was after Republican Senator Jesse Helms proposed a bill to UN contributions until President Clinton could certify that no UN agency granted any official status to organizations that condoned pedophilia.
Conservatives typically want to prevent (excessive) change, hence ‘conservative.’ That certain things didn’t become mainstream is a conservative victory.
You are just setting up the debate to not blame progressives for any failures and mistakes & to deny any credit for conservative success.
But this is a racist attitude. The idea that non-white people destroy neighborhood schools is a racist belief. The idea that non-white people destroy camaraderie is a racist belief. The idea that non-white people cause increased discipline problems is a racist belief. Taken together, these racist beliefs constitute a coherent racist attitude. That both the RAND Corporation and you believe otherwise is indicative of either obliviousness to what racism is or the holding of a racist attitude.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such an obviously self refuting statement in my life. It’s the, “I’m not racist but…” of conservative think tanks, I guess.
The conservatives have been on the wrong side of all civil rights argument is every bit the definitional argument that you’re having with “woman”. It’s silly because a huge portion of it is inappropriately coding based on broad generalizations (in ways that are especially wrong over long periods of time), and back dating things out of “left” thinking because they have fallen out of favor. One of the key ones is eugenics. There is a whole modernist technocratic eugenist/human experimentation movement from the early 1900s that coded liberal/further left far more than conservative. Another one is the fact that the vast majority of actors in the anti-slavery movement would code as religious conservatives to you now. (In fact they would look a lot like the anti-abortion movement in many respects, including the willingness of fringe actors to use violence). Anti slavery Christians were often coded by contemporary literature as taking their religion too seriously. Yet another is in technocratic city planning, liberals were absolutely wrong in a way that we are still suffering from. And then completely forgetting about communism is a rather noticeable oversight. And it’s not as long past as we like to think either—Hugo Chavez was still subject to at the very worst mild hand wringing by the left in the early 2000s even though it was clear he was following the classic Communist authoritarian playbook which as an endpoint that should be well understood by now.
It also may be the coding as “civil rights” blinds things. Is being sent to the gulags to your likely death for “economic policy” not a civil rights issue? Is being sterilized for scientific purposes not a civil rights issue? Maybe not, but then you’re winning by getting to define the terms, not because of something innately good about the left.
After reading the first sentence of Sebastian H’s comment above—”The conservatives have been on the wrong side of all civil rights argument is every bit the definitional argument that you’re having with ‘woman'”—I went back and looked at Celeste’s original comment. This is what she wrote:
She did not claim that Conservatives have been on the wrong side of every single civil rights issue that has ever been raised anywhere at any point in history. She was making a statement that, read in context, pretty clearly referred to conservatives in the United States during the recent historical past. More to the point, the list she made—”Racial discrimination, racial integration, women’s rights, gay rights, the rights of immigrants, employment discrimination, police brutality, pregnancy discrimination, discrimination against fat people…”—is not only pretty damning of conservatives on its face, but, given the parameters she set at the beginning of that comment, pretty damned accurate to boot.
To argue, as LOL did that she was “just setting up the debate to not blame progressives for any failures and mistakes & to deny any credit for conservative success” is disingenuous at best. It’s a way of redirecting the conversation away from the claim Celeste actually made—while avoiding having to deal with the positions conservatives have actually taken on the issues she lists—and redefining it as a conversation about how each side has done some good and some bad. It’s a much less offensive version of Donald Trump’s “There were some fine people on both sides,” but it is a version of that argument nonetheless.
Rather than debate whether or not there have been, as LOL puts it, “failures and mistakes on the left” along with the corresponding “conservative success[es]”—a statement, frankly, that seems to me more than patently obvious—why not take on the specific claim Celeste has made, i.e., that, when it comes to the issues she listed in her comment, conservatives have been consistently on the wrong (even when they might have been successful) side. That’s a discussion that might actually be worth having.
Celeste may not have meant every single incident in history, Richard, but I mean it. There hasnt been a time since the birth of conservatism as an intellectual movement (roughly the 1780s) that conservatives have got it right on a big issue. Which is not to say that the left is always right – sometimes the left is just as wrong, and sometimes the left is less wrong than conservatives, but still wrong.
But I cannot think of a single issue where the conservative position was vindicated by history anywhere in the world in the applicable historical period, and I am happy to argue on that basis.