Interesting analysis arguing that global jihadism is a youth movement, and European jihadis are the latest in a long tradition of violent nihilists.
The Nation has a very good profile of Karl Polanyi, the mid-20th century left-wing Austro-Hungarian sociologist and economic historian.
“…[Polanyi] had been a violent critic of the gold standard—which, like the euro, restricted a nation’s capacity to inflate or deflate its currency based on the needs of its citizens. In his classic of economic history published in 1945, The Great Transformation, Polanyi showed how the gold standard made it impossible for nations to manage their own economies and how it often encouraged the retraction of welfare. It also empowered a small group of financial elites over the rest of society. Given their access to credit, bankers—rather than politicians and civil-society activists—became the country’s most powerful decision-makers. “Under the gold standard,” Polanyi complained, “the leaders of the financial market” find themselves “in the position to obstruct any domestic move in the economic sphere which [they happen] to dislike.”
…But Polanyi’s Great Transformation was not all dark prophecy; it also offered us some insight into how societies rebelled against this marketization of social life. The free-market economy, Polanyi argued, not only empowered financial elites and commodified social goods; it also created a countermovement in which bodies of people emerged, demanding that the state protect them from the market.”
Polyani’s observation that free-market economies tend to oligarchy but they also generate their own resistance, came to mind whilst listening to a recent episode of Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Lydon was interviewing Yale historian Timothy Snyder about his new book “On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” (here is the originating Facebook post).
Synder’s entire book is an historian’s warning that Trump represents a serious threat to democracy, with 20 idea about how to prevent a Trump presidency devolving into a Caesarian tyranny. Snyder believes Trump’s early actions are a coherent stress test of the democratic institutions. He is feeling the edges of his power, taking stock of the strengths of his opposition. Snyder believes only civic resistance can deflect the Trumpist power grab.
The book is full of gems. I learned that the founding fathers – heeding Plato – never expected democracy to last as long as it did.
It brings to mind a wonderful passage from The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant. Much of this is eerily familiar:
“Plato’s reduction of political evolution to a sequence of monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, and dictatorship found another illustration in the history of Rome. During the third and second centuries before Christ a Roman oligarchy organized a foreign policy and a disciplined army, and conquered and exploited the Mediterranean world. The wealth so won was absorbed by the patricians, and the commerce so developed raised to luxurious opulence the upper middle class. Conquered Greeks, Orientals, and Africans were brought to Italy to serve as slaves on the latifundia; the native farmers, displaced from the soil, joined the restless, breeding proletariat in the cities, to enjoy the monthly dole of grain that Caius Gracchus had secured for the poor in 12 3 B.C. Generals and proconsuls returned from the provinces loaded with spoils for themselves and the ruling class; millionaires multiplied; mobile money replaced land as the source or instrument of political power; rival factions competed in the wholesale purchase of candidates and votes; in 53 B.C. one group of voters received ten million sesterces for its support. When money failed, murder was available: citizens who had voted the wrong way were in some instances beaten close to death and their houses were set on fire. Antiquity had never known so rich, so powerful, and so corrupt a government. The aristocrats engaged Pompey to maintain their ascendancy; the commoners cast in their lot with Caesar; ordeal of battle replaced the auctioning of victory; Caesar won, and established a popular dictatorship. Aristocrats killed him, but ended by accepting the dictatorship of his grandnephew and stepson Augustus (27 B.C.). Democracy ended, monarchy was restored; the Platonic wheel had come full turn.”
At one point Lydon asks,
“Are we sleepwalking still, is there something to be said for a riled up citizenry?”
Snyder replies in the affirmative, and observes that in the anti-Trump reactions he saw unprecedented speed (airport protests) but also numbers and intelligence (large scale, multi-partisan alliances in the Women’s March). He also talked about the role of lawyers, pointing out that in 1930’s Germany the legal profession acquiesced then enthusiastically collaborated with the Nazis, whereas the Trump era has the legal profession leading the fight in the form of lawyers helping travel ban victims or judges blocking executive orders.
This lends some evidence to my feeling that Trump, far from being the ultimate defeat for the American left, could herald their ultimate triumph.
Hear me out here.
Now the corruption – Russian interference, Oligarch money – and his lack of intellectual substance, disorganization and personality flaws will all be exposed.
The Trump effect is already damaging Populists in Europe. Trump may have helped in Wilder’s defeat in The Netherlands and he may well help sink Le Pen in France too. Merkel, despite domestic terror, is booming again in the polls.
I think the mood driving populism is still there. If Populism is a reaction to elites, globalism, industrial automation, immigration, cultural and political alienation, then we can expect it to intensify as the agonists are strengthening.
But the current right-wing populists are fairly or unfairly associate with the Populist Khan of Khans Donald Trump. As he flounders, he could take down the entire right-wing populist surge with him.
This leaves an opportunity for the the populist left, and within that opportunity there are also dangers.
Jordan B Peterson, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris and others argue very persuasively that contemporary leftists also have a decidedly authoritarian bent.
The grim mirror image of Trumpian tyranny we have the left’s Neo-Stalinist assault on free speech, SJWism, essentialist identity politics, obsession with race/gender/privilege, racism and anti-Western obscurantism.
Can the center reassert itself? Can a principled, moderate left emerge? Are we like 1930’s German’s, facing a choice between two violent revolutionary anti-democratic ideologies: Nazism and Communism.
dare we hope for something good to come out of all this, or is it going to be the perpetual power of nightmares?
If the left can evolve out of identity politics and rediscovers its principles, embrace true pluralism and welcome true diversity, then it could be facing a golden age. If the US Democratic party can transform itself from being the party of white urban elites and minorities into a party that also genuinely represents the interests of rural people, the white flyover citizenry, and the poor – regardless of provenance – then it could be a generational political force.
Today’s left are Orwellian Nationalists. They assume that “human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled “good” or “bad.””
If it doubles down on PC, intersectionality and identity politics, it is doomed. Either it slips into leftist tyranny or dies with a whimper, on the scrap heap of ideas. The former entails bloodshed and civil war. The latter a triumph for Trump.
I hope a reformed New Left can emerge, recognizes the importance of individualism and embraces a principled politics of the 21st century based on science, reason and genuine democracy based on strong institutions.
Which will it be?
“All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.”
WB Yeats, “Easter, 1916”
“What rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”
WB Yeats, “The Second Coming”
I noticed three articles this week on the theme of privilege and leftist ideology as religion.
One of my favorite public intellectuals, Jonathan Haidt, has a video in the Wall Street Journal (paywall)
Jonathan Haidt on the Cultural Roots of Campus Rage – “ An unorthodox professor explains the ‘new religion’ that drives the intolerance and violence at places like Middlebury and Berkeley.”
On Twitter, Peter Boghossian points out that he called this first, back in 2016:
The concepts of Original Sin and privilege are identical except that they operate in different moral universes. In familiar religions, Original Sin is something you’re born with. It’s something you can’t escape. It’s something you can’t really do anything about – except be ashamed. It’s something you should confess and try to cleanse yourself of. It’s something that requires forgiveness, atonement, penitence, and work. It’s something, if you take it to heart, for which you will browbeat others.
For many contemporary left-situated activists, privilege occupies the same role in a religion of contemporary identity politics. There is no greater sin than having been born an able-bodied, straight, white male who identifies as a man but isn’t deeply sorry for this utterly unintentional state of affairs.
Finally, “The last thing on ‘privilege’ you’ll ever need to read” is a book review of Phoebe Maltz Bovy’s “The Perils of "Privilege": Why Injustice Can’t Be Solved by Accusing Others of Advantage”.
Only one thing worries me about the cloud: It facilitates state control because Cloud Computing reverses the decentralization (distribution) of computer power that heralded the internet. I think I got this fear from Cory Doctorow and his “The coming war on general computing.”
Anyway, maybe it is just a phase. Distributed Computing may very well be making a comeback as we see the end of Cloud Computing.
“World War III will be a global information war with no division between civilian and military participation.” -Marshal McLuhan
“By “nationalism” I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled “good” or “bad.” But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By “patriotism” I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”
The pool of acceptable hate groups has shrunk down to the dregs now: old white men. Not even hillbillies and Chavs are acceptably odious anymore. As a white middle-aged middle-class heterosexual cis-gendered able-bodied capitalist property-owning politically slightly-right-of-center male atheistic Westerner, I am a member of the most universally despised minority in history.
Get your insults in while we last. The mantle of victimhood cannot be withheld forever….
Afrikaners have a wonderful but very rude word: poesbefok, meaning “Pussy struck” or mentally deranged by sexual desire or romantic love. Looks like the entire USA was poesbefok on October 7, 2016.
Dave Pell points out that the media’s over focus on the Trump pussy grab story allowed the bigger and potentially more damaging Russian hacker angle to go mostly unnoticed until too late:
Let’s go back in time to that fateful day, October 7, 2016 when we heard the instantly infamous “grab her by the pussy” tapes. It’s like the moon landing, Michael Jackson’s death, or the first time you saw Rick Perry try to look smart by wearing glasses. You’ll never forget where you were when it happened.
But it turns out that you are remembering that day for all the wrong reasons. As Clinton Campaign Comm director Jennifer Palmieri reminded us on MSNBC, October 7, 2016 was also the day that the NYT’s David Sanger and Charlie Savage broke a massive story with this headline: U.S. Says Russia Directed Hacks to Influence Elections.
Without the pussy story, that headline would have owned the day’s news cycle (or about 3 tweets) and put intense pressure on the Obama administration to release more details — which would have meant more stories.
Instead we fixated on Donald’s dirty talk.
My take on the Russian hacking this is this: Of course they tried to influence the election in their favor. This is an ancient realpolitik practice. Nothing new there. What is new is that they may have used hacked data released as leaks to these ends – and that was effective. Did it lead to a Trump victory? I am waiting for more evidence before I make a judgment.
“The koseki is Japan’s family registration system. All legally significant transitions in a person’s life — births, deaths, marriages, divorces, adoptions, even changes of gender — are supposed to be registered in a koseki; in fact, registration is what gives them legal effect. An extract of a person’s koseki serves as the Official Document that confirms to the Rest of the World basic details about their identity and status.
Need to prove when you were born? Koseki extract. Need to show you have parental authority to apply for a child’s passport? Koseki extract. Want to commit bigamy? Good luck; the authorities will refuse to register a second marriage if your registry shows you are still encumbered with a first.
Compared to “event-based” Official Documents (birth certificates, divorce decrees and so forth) that prevail in places like America, the koseki is more accurate. An American can use a marriage certificate to show he got married on a particular date in the past but would struggle to prove he is still married today. A koseki extract, on the other hand, can do just that.”
I completely understand why Nottingham police want to fight back against the street harassment of women, but I think we are treating the symptoms, not the causes. Additionally the medicine proposed by Nottingham Police is also toxic. It erodes civil liberties, misallocates police resources, reinforces victimhood culture, allows subjectivity into a domain where evidence is vital to justice, sexist and open to abuse by malicious women or pressure groups with an interest in exaggerating the scale of the problem.
What are the misogynistic hate crimes that Nottingham Police will record separately and make a “police matter”?
“Incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.”
- Staring at body parts (breasts)
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Unwanted physical or verbal contact
- Unwanted mobile phone messages
- Taking photos without consent
None of this is evidence based. It is all about subjective experiences, how the women feel.
Nor is it even about crimes. The mere recounting of an alleged incident will result in a recorded “hate” incident….
What are we to make of all this?
I really want us to solve this problem. I come from a family and culture where male respect for women and being a gentlemanliness are highly valued. Where I grew up, the abuse of women – verbally or physically – would earn any man a thorough hiding at the hands of other men. Merely swearing in front of women was considered an embarrassing lapse that might earn you a smack on the ear from an older male.
I am the father of two daughters and I want them to live in a safe, decent society free from harassment of any sort. I also want them to live in a free and fair society, not a nanny state where every human interaction needs to be policed and the mere feelings of a designated member of a “victim class”- entirely independent of evidence or objective standards – are sufficient to criminalise actions. Those feelings are also enough to classify any public encounter or incident as a “hate incident”, again unlinked to evidence, which will lead to a body of “evidence”, that will possibly derange public policy and policing.
We have the familiar cast of bunglers in this story. The state trying to shore up collapsing social mores with ham-fisted and discriminatory over-legislation and destruction of civil liberties. We have social worker-bureaucrats – like Nottingham’s “hate crime manager” David Alton- securing their jobs generating a growing list of hate-crime victim groups and classifications. We have pressure groups grinding their political axes.
My main gripe with this police reaction is that is addresses the symptoms not the causes. In Turkey, they understand this.
Women’s rights groups, lawyers and doctors have condemned Turkey’s decision to introduce a mandatory chemical castration programme for convicted sex offenders, arguing the treatment does not address the underlying reasons for widespread violence against women, and that bodily punishment will instead lead to increased abuse.
Özgül Kaptan, director of the Women’s Solidarity Foundation (Kadav), has condemned the law – which came into effect on 26 July, at a time of extended legislative powers – as misguided.
“It’s a very bad and dangerous decision,” she said. “The law reduces crimes related to sexual abuse and rape to the one offending individual and to that individual’s body, which disregards the systemic problem of why so many men in Turkey commit these crimes or are violent against women.
“Men are taught to think that they have a right over women. We need to change ideas about gender equality and masculinity. What we really need is a change of attitude, of education. That cannot be done by passing such a law, or overnight.” – The Guardian, “Chemical castration of sex offenders in Turkey condemned by women’s groups“, Monday 15th August 2016
The Turkish feminists have an unlikely ally, Rob Slane writing in Conservative Woman magazine. All emphases mine:
The other big problem with the statement itself is that it is so vaguely worded as to be essentially meaningless. It could include just about every attitude or example of behaviour men exhibit towards women (or should that be men exhibit towards woman?), and is thus at the mercy of entirely subjective definitions of what does and what doesn’t constitute a misogynistic hate crime. Does it include a man attempting to give up his seat for a woman on public transport? The definition is vague enough to include it if the lady in question perceives it to be demeaning.
Of course you might say that this is not the sort of thing Nottinghamshire police are talking about. What they are actually trying to address is real, low-level harassment that women in their area often face. What do you say to that then?
Simply that this is a hopelessly foolish way of dealing with it, and the method merely confirms that we took a wrong direction way back when. In the first instance, police forces continually complain about overstretch and of the need to free up resources. How does this woolly-worded initiative achieve this? It doesn’t. What it could end up doing, though, is forcing officers to spend their time investigating hundreds of low-level instances of harassment, and so missing the more serious incidents.
So how do you deal with incidents of low-level harassment? There are no quick fix answers to this, but the clue is to work out how we got here. How did we get to the stage where young boys today have immeasurably less respect for girls today than they would have had even 20 or 30 years ago? How did we get to the stage where multitudes of young men see females through the porn filter? How did we get to the stage where the chances of a woman finding a man who will be responsible and faithful to her are becoming less and less each year?
…Much of what are now being labelled “misogynistic hate crimes” are simply a consequence of the tearing up of the very relationships and social expectations that once required males to be respectful towards women. Yet having done it, we are surprised to see the outcome – a generation of males who are less respectful towards women. As C.S. Lewis put it, “In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
And so having torn up those relationships which were so vital, women must now apparently look to the State to step in and deal with the consequences. In the past, other men would have performed this function. A man who was seen to be hassling a woman would have been told in no uncertain terms by others in the community to quit it. And he would have quit it, knowing that the consequences of continuing were most unfavourable to him. Who will do that now? Those that might be prepared to do so know they run the risk of being beaten to a pulp.
The answer to the disrespect and unpleasant hassling of women is not to be found in yet more laws and more policing of such incidents. Instead it is in recognising that far from bringing liberty and a more civil society, the hacking away of the relationships and social boundaries mentioned above has largely destroyed the foundations from which true liberty and civil society can begin to flourish. Only when we have reconciled ourselves to this might we begin once again to see boys growing up into men who really do respect women.
I agree with Rob on this. We have gone badly wrong somewhere and the solution is not the police. It is cultural, political and educational. It is about values. Involving the police seldom helps and sometimes even inadvertently hurts:
Carceral solutions to structural problems have a tendency to have the most negative consequences for more marginalised people. They also tend to help marginalised people the least.
…What we are very likely to see with treating misogyny as a hate crime is that there could well be more arrests and prosecutions, but only under particular circumstances: when a Nice White Lady™ is victimised by a Nasty Black Or Brown Man™.
…It’s a repeated pattern in carceral solutions, and means that help will not go to the women who need it most because the police would rather come down hard on people that they already despise.
At the end of the day, the solution to misogyny is the same boring old thing that is the solution to everything else: societal change, starting with ourselves. Challenge it where you find it and nurture and embody alternatives, and support and believe survivors. The police are not, and have never been, the magic bullet for solving problems that they cannot even begin to solve.
Misogyny is misogyny, and the police have never been our salvation.
Another gripe I have is that many of these laws are unenforceable. The dreadful spate of sexual harassment crimes and rapes now plaguing Sweden show us that even with dozens of witnesses, stringent police attention and tokenism in the form of “Don’t Grope” bracelets, almost all the cases “were dropped due to lack of evidence or problems with identifying suspects.” These were large scale group molestations of young women and girls, even gang rapes, and the police are pretty much powerless. The culture of the perpetrators – in this case recent migrants to Sweden – is a key factor in the problem. The police are too overstretched and weak to protect women. Their powers and staffing are designed to manage a law-abiding culture where women are respected and safe. A sudden growth (through migration) in the numbers of men who do not share those values have overwhelmed them with dreadful consequences for Swedish women and girls.
We also have the now familiar discrimination against men we find so often in gender stories these days. Why does only the harassment of women count as a “hate incident”? This definition is sexist towards men by downgrading harassment against them, and prioritising crimes against women, even though men can and do experience harassment at the hands of women. Why not just expand the gender hate crime category if you have to, even if you know the victim split is 10 to 1. At least it does not actively discriminate against one gender.
The Nottingham police provisions also reinforce victimhood culture and the continued atrophying of our ability to conduct ourselves with agency and independence without needing to resort to authority to adjudicate every minor dispute:
We’re beginning a second transition of moral cultures. The first major transition happened in the 18th and 19th centuries when most Western societies moved away from cultures of honor (where people must earn honor and must therefore avenge insults on their own) to cultures of dignity in which people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transgressions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.
Campbell and Manning describe how this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized.
…The key idea is that the new moral culture of victimhood fosters “moral dependence” and an atrophying of the ability to handle small interpersonal matters on one’s own. At the same time that it weakens individuals, it creates a society of constant and intense moral conflict as people compete for status as victims or as defenders of victims.
I have other misgivings. The vague wording and muddled definitions are also based on notions that are inimical to legal justice. The idea that that feelings and pure subjectivity are sufficient to establish guilt. It is not. Evidence and objectivity are the cornerstones of justice. Granting powers of judgment exclusively to women, without any restraining requirements of evidence or even clear rules, creates a Judge Dredd like situation on the streets of Nottingham where all humans identifying as women are the judge and jury of any man they encounter.
As we have seen with false accusations and feminist abuses in Canada, malicious women abusing the legal system to persecute men is far from rare. These sorts of laws are wide open to abuse by miscreant women. Even the most ludicrous, paranoid, divorced-from-reality compulsive liar attention-seeker will have serious police attention, their incident added to the official register of “hate” incidents and some innocent man will suffer the all the trials of the falsely accused “hate” criminal.
I am against it. Let people wear what they damned well please. It smacks of bullying and retribution. It is the only way that devout Muslim women can bathe in public. It explicitly targets them for exclusion. This is no way to advertise Western value of freedom and tolerance.