Ultra-rationality and framing criticism as femininity.

Stairs Pyramid Man makes another appearance (his first one was here).

The criticism of anti-feminists follows clear gendered lines. Their hatred of women leads them to paint their equally hated critics as performing femininity. Anti-feminist advocates such as conservatives, “anarcho-capitalists” and libertarians, MRAs, Objectivists and evolutionary psychologists portray themselves as ultra-rational and logical, independent and courageous thinkers, anti-emotional, having a high degree of confront.

Fundamentalist Christians and nerd culture are exceptions: Christians cannot see themselves as ultra-rational due to the openly anti-intellectual and anti-rational nature of Christianity, and nerd culture is marginalized and therefore feminized itself.

Critics are always portrayed as hysterical, over-emotional and irrational, responsible for everything that happens to them, homosexuals, desirable targets for all kinds of violence.

To sociopaths, everyone else is an Other, everyone else is feminized. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf:

The great majority of a nation is so feminine in its character and outlook that its thought and conduct are ruled by sentiment rather than by sober reasoning. This sentiment, however, is not complex, but simple and consistent. It is not highly differentiated, but has only the negative and positive notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.

He is also reported to have said:

Do you know the audience at a circus is just like a woman. Someone who does not understand the intrinsicly feminine character of the masses will never be an effective speaker. Ask yourself: ‘What does a woman expect from a man?’ Clearness, decision, power and action.

It’s interesting to note that those masses he talks about are at least half composed of men. Likewise, anti-feminists do not mind attacking men, even when they pretend to stand for “men’s rights,” “human rights” or believe in male superiority.

I have previously analyzed three rhetorical strategies that are relevant:

* Statements of human rights and demands for fairness are reframed as “entitlement” by right-wingers.

* Protesting and objecting to the status quo is reframed as rudeness and offensiveness.

* I’ve already mentioned the misattribution of personal responsibility.

There’s also another strategy I have not written about yet (I do plan to do so at a later time), which is scapegoating. The primary characteristic of scapegoats is that no abuse against them is too great, and that there is a natural psychological tendency to escalate cruelty against them. This applies to various hated groups such as people of different religions and “races,” criminals, children, women, and critics also enter into this category.

If critics are labeled as feminine, then it behooves us to see it for what it is: the product of woman-hatred and the association of that hatred with the hatred for any form of criticism shared by these ideologies. All closed, dogmatic systems of thought must generate hatred criticism by necessity. An actually rational person does not hate criticism, but analyzes it critically (is what is said true? is there a vested interest?). The fact that they hate criticism proves that their supposed rationality and much vaunted capacity to confront are facades.

All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of frankness.
Tennessee Williams

This “ultra-rationality” manifests itself in a variety of ways:

* The reframing of their emotions as “rational” and their opponents’ emotions as “irrational.”
* The over-reliance on specific empirical data points, even when such data is insufficient or irrelevant.
* The invalidation of personal experience, even when said personal experience is credible and not used to justify any scientific statement.
* A tendency to either reject altruism altogether or to be suspicious of people’s motives to an obsessive degree.
* The assumption that human actions are, or should be, logical/rational/selfish; The reduction of humans to logic and/or Universal Reason (“man as rational animal”/homo economicus).
* The over-reliance on detecting logical fallacies (especially when no argument is being made) as a substitute for critical thinking.
* Assumption that the status quo requires no further evidence, but the demand that anything that goes against the status quo, no matter how obvious, be proven beyond doubt.
* Radicalism and constructionism are inherently suspicious and are sometimes lumped in with some vague idea of “Communism.”
* The over-reliance on “just so” stories, imaginary narratives, stories, parables, and other attempts at exploiting the imaginary.
* As an extension of the previous point, hiding subjectivity under a veneer of objectivity, and denouncing the opposition’s objectivity as subjective.
* The pretense of being high confront.
* Hiding one’s values under the guise of being “value-neutral,” “free from bias” and “just looking at the facts.” Rejecting empathy, compassion and other interpersonal considerations is called “rationality,” and of course such considerations are framed as feminine.

(perhaps the best example of ultra-rationality in the media is the show Bones, where the titular character is profoundly irrational about anything not directly related to her work but still believes she’s the smartest person in the room)

This last point really cannot be overemphasized. Consider the astonishing fact that empathy and kindness are considered to be “female traits.” What does that tell us about masculinity? And what does that tell us about ideologies which reject femininity?

I don’t think it takes a lot of thinking to realize that, if one defines oneself as being outside of, and superior to, empathy and kindness, then one is likely to be a pretty hateful person and to disguise that hatred under the guise of “rationality.”

Beyond this, empathy and suffering exist beyond reason and cannot be explained rationally, therefore the ultra-rational cannot take it into account, even if they wanted to.

The obsessional is a conformist, constantly splitting emotions off from intellectual operations, and thus presenting a kind of cold rationality or hyperrationality. This type flourishes in families and institutions that promote order for order’s sake, “Prussian” values, sexual suppression, monetary discipline, envy, and affectless intellectualism.
Elisabeth Young-Bruehl

Why use the term “ultra-rationality”? Because overemphasis on rationality, crowding out empathy, common sense and holistic (non-linear) thinking, turns rationality into an abstract, subjectivist, self-reinforcing dogma.

As has been often noted, most recently by the organization Deep Green Resistance, misogyny and anti-environmentalism go hand-in-hand: the way a society demeans women takes part in the same principle by which we disvalue children, other animals, and the land (women are routinely associated with all these things). It is therefore no wonder that ideologies which use femininity as an insult also disvalue these things as well.

Clarisse Thorn tries to refute an argument against BDSM.

It has occurred to me that, while I do get BDSM people wasting my time while trying to defend their abusive sexuality (see for example the comments section on this entry), I don’t really engage with the more serious BDSM arguments out there. That, I think, would be a lot more productive.

Therefore I wanted to start by addressing the words of one Clarisse Thorn (probably not her real name, but who knows), a self-professed “S&M feminist,” a contradiction in terms. In this entry, she intends to address the anti-BDSM argument that “BDSM legitimizes abuse” (despite labeling the entry #1, it seems she wrote no more, perhaps weary of the cognitive dissonance she was triggering in her own head).

I want to make clear, first of all, that BDSM does not only “legitimize abuse,” it is abuse. BDSM is a cult-like framework and, like all other such frameworks, it is highly concerned with reframing language and concepts (“consent,” “sex,” “play,” “toys,” “power,” “dominance,” etc). The peculiarity of this ideology, however, is that it has managed to get its reframing accepted by society at large. It has gone on to the point that now we see BDSM sexual abuse as “edgy” and “sexy.”

BDSM is not only an ideology of abuse which twists language, it also concerns itself with the constant reproduction of abuse, all the way from spanking and caning to “rapeplay,” “breathplay,” “knifeplay,” and all the gamut of so-called “play.” Based on the sexual charge people can get out of them, they have reframed these forms of abuse as “sex.”

Thorn presents the anti-BDSM argument we’re discussing as such:

1) When two consenting people do a BDSM scene together, it can look like abuse to outsiders who are not aware that the scene was worked out ahead of time and that the bottom can opt out at any time. That is, outsiders can’t know the difference between BDSM and abuse by looking at it.

It does “look like abuse,” because it is abuse. The fact that the abuse was “worked out ahead of time” and that one can “opt out” does not make it any less abusive.

Much of the reframing in BDSM has to do with “consent.” I’ve already discussed the problems they have with consent. Within the cult mentality, they believe that purely symbolic gestures like signing contracts or establishing “safe words” turns an act of abuse into a sexual act. Not only that, but they call it consent, as if consent is established by contracts or magic words.

2) If the outside world becomes more accepting of BDSM, then outsiders who see signs of violence will become more likely to assume that it is BDSM and not abuse. Therefore, they will be less likely to interfere with a violent situation, or help a victim.

Yes, obviously it is a huge problem when abusers use BDSM as a tool to portray themselves as innocent of any wrongdoing. Not just because outsiders may be fooled into confusing the sexual abuse brought about by BDSM with “normal” sexuality, but because it means our concept of sexuality has been hijacked by a dangerous and abusive cult mentality. The problem is BDSM itself, the belief that codified abuse can be a healthy sexuality, not just its consequences.

3) Thus: legitimizing BDSM puts people in danger. It means that abusers will be more likely to abuse, because they will think that they can get away with it. Or, alternatively: it means that abusers will be more likely to abuse because they don’t learn the difference between abuse and consent. It also means that people who are actually being abused will have a harder time getting help.

I completely agree with this point. It does mean all that. It also means a lot, lot more, but at least we have a good starting point. So what does Thorn reply to all this?

The argument assumes that people cannot learn to tell the difference between abuse and consent… I can say that, in my experience, there is very high pressure in the BDSM subculture to ensure that all partners consent.

Here we see the doublespeak inherent in the BDSM cult mentality: getting people to submit to abuse means “ensuring that all partners consent.” It also aims to project the image that the BDSM community is ethical and non-violent despite the abusive actions done in BDSM, and even though 30% of people in American BDSM communities have had their “consensual” limits violated and 64% of people in Dutch BDSM communities have reported the same. A community that is so violent that it engenders in its victims a PTSD-like state euphemistically called “sub drop.”

Despite their constant protests and attempts at reassuring the gullible that they follow strict standard of ethics, any community that not only legitimizes these practices but encourages them cannot be an ethical community.

Anti-BDSM people argue what they do precisely because they understand the difference between abuse and consent. And, unwarped by the BDSM mentality, most people can generally make the difference between abuse and consent as well. They can tell that a person is getting roughed up, beaten up, or tortured. And that’s a big problem for the BDSM community, even though they make a good show of sneering at the “vanilla” peons who just can’t understand how “edgy” and “cool” they are. A cult must always have enemies, and that’s what feminists are for (Thorn calls herself a “feminist,” but we know it’s a lie).

If BDSM is legitimized — if it “comes out of the closet” — then the community’s attitudes towards consent will come out of the closet with it. It’s not like legitimizing BDSM means that everyone will start thinking it’s a great idea to beat other people without their consent.

But that is precisely what everyone is thinking: that by using some official, symbolic mumbo-jumbo, you can beat other people with their “non-consensual consent.”

Arguing that accepting BDSM will lead to accepting abuse is analogous to arguing that accepting human sexuality will lead to accepting rape. In other words — telling me that I encourage men to abuse women by having consensual BDSM sex is like telling me that I encourage men to rape women by having consensual vanilla sex.

Even if you repeat it twice, this is still a horrible analogy that Thorn should be ashamed of writing. The core of the argument is that BDSM is a system of thought which legitimizes abuse because it is itself abuse. “Vanilla sex” in itself is not a system of thought. So there’s no comparison to be done here.

But if we interpret “vanilla sex” as a larger heteronormative context, then Thorn’s analogy is, ironically, a fairly good one: BDSM legitimizes abuse like heteronormativity legitimizes rape. It’s not a perfect analogy, but it’s closer to the truth than anything Thorn can muster.

As for our “S&M feminist,” her blog is inactive, but she still operates as a mouthpiece for BDSM. At any rate, she is no feminist: feminists cannot be pro-BDSM for the same reason that they cannot be pro-VAW, pro-rape or pro-sexual abuse. People like her portray opponents of BDSM as uninformed and their criticism as superficial, as she does in her entry. Systemic criticism must be silenced or dismissed as the nattering of “bitter apostates” so it never penetrates the cultist shield.

But it’s hard not to laugh at Thorn portraying her opponents as naive and uninformed when her understanding of feminism is so trivial and silly, given that she seems to believe feminists oppose BDSM because they are somehow confused by the difference between abuse and consent (as if that was a hard thing to figure out). Silly befuddled feminists, they just don’t “get” it, so you see this is all very reasonable!

If any of my readers, or BDSM trolls, have another entry like this for me to look into, I would welcome it. But I don’t expect much.

An intuitionist answers Matt Slick re: atheist morality.

Oh Matt Slick, you so funny.

I’ve always said that Christians are at their best when they challenge fundamental premises of naturalism, because then they at least serve the purpose of making us think and reaffirming what exactly it is that we believe in. Sure, this is a backhanded compliment at best, but frankly there is absolutely nothing in Christian theology worth complimenting.

Matt Slick is a fellow engaged in Christian apologetics on the Internet, so even if you don’t know him you can pretty much imagine what kind of nonsense he’s engaged in. But he has two articles asking questions for atheists about their standards of morality, and I thought they were interesting enough to involve my intuitionist perspective and engage with them.

The first article is called Questions for Atheists on Having a Standard of Morality.

1. OBJECTIVE STANDARD Do you have an objective standard of morality by which you can judge whether or not something is morally right or wrong?

Usually this is the point at which I would complain about the use of the word “objective” and try to clarify what I think it means, but fortunately Slick has defined it further down the page as: “an objective standard is one that is not based on your opinion or your experience.”

So given that definition, the answer is yes: while it is informed by my opinions or experiences, like any other standard or ruleset that exists (including the Christian one), intuitionism is a standard that is not based on my opinion or my experiences.

Hence I can skip ahead to the next questions about objective standards.

10. HAS OBJECTIVE STANDARD If you say that you do have an objective standard of morality, then where did you get this objective standard since an objective standard is one that is not based on your opinion or your experience?

If you read ahead, you can see this is the point where Slick tries to triage your position into the following categories: SOCIETY STANDARD, COMMON SENSE STANDARD, EVOLVING STANDARD, SELF DETERMINED, INSTINCT and WHATEVER WORKS. From the nature of subsequent questions for each category, I am guessing evolutionary intuitionism would go in the category INSTINCT. So skipping ahead to those INSTINCT questions:

32. INSTINCT If you say that your morals are derived from instinct, which is brain-programmed behavior, then wouldn’t that mean that different people’s brains would produce different moral values?

In theory, I see no reason why that couldn’t be the case. For example, sociopaths certainly have “different moral values,” because they lack certain mental abilities which normally give rise to certain values. But sociopaths no more contradict the norm than people born without legs, or with six legs (yes, such a thing happens), contradict the norm that human beings typically have two legs.

I know where this question is supposed to lead: to the typical objection that intuitionism has no way to deal with moral disagreements. As I’ve discussed before, there are means to hash out disagreements in intuitionism as much as in any other moral system.

Furthermore, difference in people’s brains are not the main cause of moral disagreements: biases, especially tribal biases, are the main cause, and religion is one huge repertoire of tribal biases. So I’d say religions like Christianity are far more of a hindrance to moral understanding than brain differences.

33. INSTINCT If you say that your morals are derived from instinct, which is brain-programmed behavior, then how would you really know if anything is right or wrong?

How is “really knowing” right from wrong different from “knowing” right from wrong? Slick’s question seems to be implying that a brain state cannot “really” tell us right from wrong, but he does not make any sort of argument in his question that would back this up.

Slick, I presume, assumes a Christian epistemology. From that standpoint, no atheist can “really know” anything, so the question is pointless. From my epistemic standpoint, intuitions lead us to “really know” a lot of things, including fundamentals of human thought (logic, perception, esthetics, morality, and so on). On this there can be no discussion, because the Christian worldview is fundamentally anti-rational, and therefore anti-discussion.

34. INSTINCT If you say that your morals are derived from instinct, which is brain-programmed behavior, then how does one neuro-chemical state of the brain that leads to another neuro-chemical state produce proper moral truths?

This is more or less a repeat of question 33, with a little more precision. But the precision is useless, since it just pushes the mystery back: what exactly does Slick think a truth is, apart from a neuro-chemical state of the brain? The answer is that Slick probably believes truth comes from God first. Again there can be no discussion with such a position.

This is linked to the presuppositionalist line of reasoning that if we’re “mere atoms banging around,” then there can be no truth. But whatever divine truths you believe exist out there, they still have to go through our brains, which are “mere atoms banging around.” If the brain is unreliable, then so is any ideology that goes through our brain, including Christianity.

So we can reverse the question to Christians as well: how can you say a neuro-chemical state of your brain (such as faith, revelation, the feeling of a personal relationship with Jesus, etc) is evidence (for you) that God exists? How can you “really know” that God exists based on a mere neuro-chemical state? Can you “really, really know” that God exists? And so on.

The other page with morality questions on Slick’s site concerns the principle of harm reduction. Since this principle is the reason behind the name of this blog, I had better address them as well.

But before I do that, I want to make one thing clear, which Slick does not seem to understand. When I, and most people, talk about “not imposing harm,” we mean it as an ethical principle (i.e. that which pertains to groups in society or society itself); what that means is, we’d like it to be a rule or law regulating society or sub-groups of society. We are not saying that it is a moral principle, a value that the individual should align their moral compass on, although it can be a part of one’s morality as well.

Slick’s questions seem to assume that the harm-reduction principle is a moral principle. So for example he assumes that self-harm is relevant, when in fact self-harm is not, on the whole, an ethical issue (i.e. an issue about how people treat each other as members of society).

Now that this much is clear, I continue with the questions.

1. VALIDATE THE NO-HARM STANDARD If you, as an atheist, say that what is morally good is that which reduces over-all harm, then on what basis do you validate that assertion as being a proper moral standard?

This does not seem to branch out, but he does designate a separate sub-category called [IT’S] WHAT PEOPLE WANT. This is obviously not relevant to my position, so I will skip those questions.

My answer would be simple: it is wrong to cause injury to people or treat people unjustly. Since that is the case, it would be good to set society up so that we disallow people to bring harm to each other, so we may get as much of the benefits of living in society as possible while getting as little injury from it as possible. This is why all societies have set themselves up to condemn unjustifiable harm such as murder, assault, theft, and so on. Unfortunately they have not done so systematically, for reasons which are too lengthy to get into in this entry.

4. SELF-PROTECTION If reducing overall harm is the standard of morality, then should a nation that is being attacked by another nation not practice self-defense since by defending itself it would increase overall harm to both nations?

So Slick’s process here assumes that the person will either answer “they should defend themselves anyway, the harm-reduction principle is not always valid” or “no, they shouldn’t defend themselves.”

But this seems like a false dichotomy to me. Slick’s premise that self-defense increases overall harm seems to me silly at best. At the very least, it is a huge assumption which is unsupported, and it renders the question moot. Perhaps sometimes self-defense makes things worse, but, whether we’re talking about individuals or nations, surely in the great majority of cases self-defense makes things less worse than they would be otherwise.

I don’t understand how Slick arrived at this assumption and it really doesn’t make any sense from a realistic standpoint. It’s like he thinks wars are fought so the winners can have tea and crumpets with the losers. No, when a country invades another the usual consequences are massive destruction of infrastructure, massive deaths, political enslavement, and sometimes genocide. Of course Slick is probably a neo-con and wants to believe that American imperialism is flowers and butterflies, but whatever dude.

8. NO-HARM STANDARD IN PRACTICE If reducing harm is the standard of morality, then is it okay to sexually assault a comatose person if no physical or emotional harm is suffered, and the person is never aware of it?

Here Slick is confusing harm-reduction as an absolute principle, with harm-reduction as the only principle. In this he is falling into the same trap as voluntaryists: the trap of thinking that anything that’s not forbidden is permitted.

Suppose that all harmful acts should be disallowed. This does not prove that all non-harmful acts should be allowed. We may want to say that non-harmful acts where one of the parties has not consented should be disallowed as well. The consent principle would not supersede or contradict the harm-reduction principle (as Slick seems to think would be the case, judging from question 11), but rather complement it. There are also other complementary principles, but since the example here is about consent, there’s no need to continue further.

9. NO-HARM STANDARD IN PRACTICE If reducing harm is the standard of morality, then is it okay for people to lie and commit adultery as long as others don’t find out about it, and there is no physical or emotional harm incurred by anyone?

Yes, I think that should be allowed in a free society. Lying is undesirable ethically because it leads to control and manipulation (with corporate and State propaganda, manipulation of public opinion on a global scale). If I interpret the question correctly, the instances of lying discussed here do not entail any of that, so I don’t see what’s unethical about it. It may irk me personally, but there’s no clear reason to disallow it.

As for adultery, while it is obviously not ideal, it is certainly a positive force in the world. The main problem, the main harm, I think, is marriage: this mental delusion that a person can, and should, stay faithful to one other person for the rest of their life. Insofar as it breaks the stranglehold of this delusion on people, adultery is a good thing. And if it doesn’t harm anyone, then all the better.

10. NO-HARM STANDARD IN PRACTICE If you answered yes to one or both of the two previous questions about rape and adultery, then aren’t you approving of these acts as long as no one is harmed?

Yes, I am approving of adultery. I’m sure Slick wants me to squirm and try to say that I don’t “really” approve of adultery, but I see no reason to do so.

11. NO-HARM STANDARD IN PRACTICE If you answered no to one or both of the questions on rape and adultery, then how is your position consistent with the what-is-good-is-what-reduces-harm standard since no harm was suffered by anyone?

I’ve already explained this on question 8. My position is consistent because it sets the consent principle as a complement to the harm-reduction principle, so it is perfectly consistent with it.

12. NO-HARM STANDARD IN PRACTICE If reducing suffering is what is morally good, then if a society decides to incarcerate Christians because it deems them harmful to that society, would that then be the morally right thing to do?

But Christianity is already enormously harmful to our societies. And yet there’s no atheist out there, even anti-theists, demanding that Christians be incarcerated. The obvious solution is not to put religious people in jail, but to set society up so that people’s religion has as little harmful impact on everyone else (especially defenseless children) as possible.

So no, I don’t think imprisonment is the right thing to do, not because I think Christianity is not harmful, but because imprisonment does not eradicate harm. I am against incarceration, at any rate, precisely because it inflicts more harm, it does not eradicate any harm.

13. NO-HARM STANDARD IN PRACTICE Likewise, if reducing suffering is what is morally good and a society decides to incarcerate atheists because it deems them harmful to that society, would that be the morally right thing to do?

Same answer as in question 12, except that atheism in itself is not a moral position and therefore cannot entail any harm.

14. NO-HARM STANDARD IN PRACTICE If incarcerating Christians and/or atheists because society says it reduces overall harm is really not the morally right thing to do, then why is it not right since it would be that society’s attempt at reducing overall harm?

Here Slick is confusing cultural relativism with harm-reduction, which is ironic since he’s against cultural relativism in the first place (not sure how you can be a Biblical literalist and be against cultural relativism, but whatever). What is the moral relevance of it being “that society’s” belief? Even if we could classify it as a cultural practice, that wouldn’t factually make it a valid way of reducing harm.

If we follow the harm-reduction principle, then we must consider moral those rules or laws which actually do reduce harm. We cannot consider a rule or law moral just because a given culture believes it reduces harm.

16. SELF-HARM If reducing harm is the standard of morality, then what do you do with those people who are perfectly normal, productive members of society who also just happen to like harming themselves?

Here I have to come back the distinction between moral principles and ethical principles. As I, and most people, use it, the harm-reduction principle does not apply to individual motivations but to social organization. It is not concerned with things like self-harm which only affect the individual.

So none of Slick’s questions here apply to any substantial harm-reduction position. His tactic is to ask whether the principle should be applied or not, and if not, then how can you say the harm-reduction position is valid? But its validity is not in doubt. Self-harm does not affect this fact.

Now, I do not deny that self-harm can sometimes affect other people, especially where children are concerned. A parent killing themselves has a profound effect on a child’s life, psychologically and in terms of future well-being. So I do agree that, in that regard, there should be rules against parents self-harming, but that’s only because we live in a monogamist system where a child’s livelihood depends entirely on the livelihood of two specific people. So I will continue answering from this standpoint.

24. SELF-HARM But if you do force your standard on those who like to suffer harm, then aren’t you doing the same thing that you complain about regarding God in the Old Testament who also forced his morals on people?

First of all, I don’t believe any of that happened. The Old Testament is a book of myths, not of real history. But if we take the myths as real history, then my answer would be no, because there was no justification for God’s morals beyond “might makes right.” The harm-reduction principle is a justified principle which can be analyzed on a rational basis, and the means we take to achieve it can be analyzed on a rational basis. We know for a fact that there are many things that people like which are actually harmful, including religion.

I also find it ironic that Slick seems to be pointing out that the God of the Old Testament “forced his morals” on people. Of course he doesn’t see anything wrong with that because Christianity is inherently tyrannical in nature.

His next questions about SELF-HARM AND CONSENT assume that one believes that “reducing harm is good only when the consent of an individual is not violated.” This does not apply to my position because, again, harm-reduction and consent principles do not have to be in any sort of conflict. This is only Slick’s assumption.

Slick’s final, cheeky question:

33. SELF-HARM If what-is-good-is-what-reduces-harm, then shouldn’t you, as an atheist, just ignore all of these questions since they might harm your worldview on morality?

How fragile is a Christian’s faith if they see the innocent act of answering questions as being a threat to their worldview. I don’t see Slick’s questions as no such thing, and I think that’s mostly his ego speaking. Unless you are a close-minded bigot, no question alone can harm your worldview. But if the questions are particularly good and well formulated, they can cause you to think and expand your views a little bit, and that’s great, not harmful.

CEO’s wages v average worker’s wages

From i don’t care.

Quotes from Deep Green Resistance, the book.

Full text is available here.

One of the cardinal differences between liberals- those who insist that Everything Will Be Okay- and the truly radical is in their conception of the basic unit of society. This split is a continental divide. Liberals believe that a society is made up of individuals. Individualism is so sacrosanct that, in this view, being identified as a member of a group or class is an insult. But for radicals, society is made up of classes (economic ones in Marx’ original version) or any groups or castes. In the radical’s understanding, being a member of a group is not an affront. Far from it; identifying with a group is the first step toward political consciousness and ultimately effective political action.


Classical liberalism from Locke forward has a contradiction at its center. It believes in human sovereignty as a natural or inalienable right, but only against the power of a monarchy or other civil tyranny. By loosening the ethical constraints that had existed on the wealthy, classical liberalism turned the powerless over to the economically powerful, simply swapping the monarchs for the merchant-barons… [T]he pursuit of wealth for its own sake had been considered a sin and such pursuit had been constrained by a whole series of social institutions. But Smith argued that the “Invisible Hand” of the market would provide what society needed; any government interference would be detrimental.


With power removed from the equation, victimization looks voluntary, which erases the fact that it is… social subordination. What liberals don’t understand is that 90 percent of oppression is consensual. As Florynce Kennedy wrote, ‘There can be no really pervasive system of oppression… without the consent of the oppressed.’ This does not mean that it is our fault, that the system will crumble if we withdraw consent, or that the oppressed are responsible for their oppression. All it means is that the powerful- capitalists, white supremacists, colonialists, masculinists- can’t stand over vast numbers of people twenty-four hours a day with guns. Luckily for them, and depressingly for the rest of us, they don’t have to.


Judith Herman asks, ‘What happens if you are raised in captivity? What happens if you’re long-term held in captivity, as in a political prisoner, as in a survivor of domestic violence?’ You come to believe that all relationships are based on power, that might makes right, that there is no such thing as fully mutual relationships. That, of course, describes this culture’s entire epistemology and this culture’s entire war of relating. Indigenous people have said that the fundamental difference between Western and indigenous ways of being is that even the most open-minded Westerners view listening to the natural world as a metaphor as opposed to the way the world really works. So the world consists of resources to be exploited, as opposed to other beings to enter in relationship with.


The triumph of the pornographers is a victory of power over justice, cruelty over empathy, and profits over human rights. I could make that statement about Walmart or McDonalds and progressives would eagerly agree. We all understand that Walmart destroys local economies, a relentless impoverishing of communities across the US that is now almost complete. It also depends on near-slave conditions for workers in China to produce the mountains of cheap crap that Walmart sells. And ultimately the endless growth model of capitalism is destroying the world. Nobody on the left claims that the cheap crap that Walmart produces equals freedom. Nobody defends Walmart by saying that the workers, American or Chinese, want to work there. Leftists understand that people do what they have to for survival, that any job is better than no job, and that minimum wage and no benefits are cause for a revolution, not a defense of those very conditions. Likewise McDonalds. No one defends what McDonalds does to animals, to the earth, to workers, to human health and human community by pointing out that the people standing over the boiling grease consented to sweat all day or that hog farmers voluntarily signed contracts that barely return a living. The issue does not turn on consent, but on the social impacts of injustice and hierarchy, on how corporations are essentially weapons of mass destruction. Focusing on the moment of individual choice will get us nowhere…

Gail Dines writes, “When I critique McDonalds, no one calls me anti-food.” People understand that what is being critiqued is a set of unjust social relations — with economic, political, and ideological components — that create more of the same. McDonalds does not produce generic food. It manufactures an industrial capitalist product for profit. The pornographers are no different. The pornographers have built a $100 billion a year industry, selling not just sex as a commodity, which would be horrible enough for our collective humanity, but sexual cruelty.


Many people have longings for a spiritual practice and a spiritual community. There aren’t any obvious, honorable answers for Euro-Americans. The majority of radicals are repulsed by the authoritarian, militaristic misogyny of the Abrahmic religions. The leftist edges of those religions are where the radicals often congregate, and that’s one option; you don’t have to check your brain at the door, and you usually get a functioning community. But for many of us, the framework is still too alienating, and feels frankly unreformable. These religions have had centuries to prove what kind of culture they can create, and the results don’t inspire confidence.


‘We can’t stop them.’

This is the Om of the alternative wing. There can be understandable personal reasons for believing in the invincibility of an oppressive system. And there are certainly reasons that those in power want us to see them as invincible. Abusive systems, from the most simple to the most sophisticated, from the familial to the social and political, work best when the victims and bystanders police themselves. And one of the best ways to get victims and bystanders to police themselves is for those victims and bystanders to internalize the notion that the abusers are invincible. Even better is to get the victims and bystanders to proselytize about the abusers’ “invincibility” to anyone who threatens to break up the stable abuser-victim-bystander triad.


On the positive side, most of the Tilters are at least willing to engage with the issue and to tell some difficult truths. Population is not an easy topic for people who care about human rights. Historically, some very nasty elements have used population as an excuse for “population control” policies constructed around a simmering racist metanarrative: the problem is really that brown people are too stupid and/or too sexual to control themselves. Those of us who come to the population discussion from the perspective of resource depletion, human rights, or feminism have to distinguish ourselves from the racist history entwined in the issue. When we say “overpopulation” we need to define what we mean and why it matters.

What I personally mean is that the earth is a bound sphere. The planet is finite. There are absolute limits to the numbers of individuals that any species can attain. That is what carrying capacity means: how many members of a species the environment can support indefinitely. Too many members and that species is drawing down resources, degrading the landbase for itself and for other species, and will most likely end in extinction. That is physical reality.


The authors of this book are repeatedly asked, ” How do you want people to live?” The question is often thrown like a challenge. The assumption is that civilization is the only way and once pinned to the wall we will be forced to admit that. But while progressives and environmentalists propose solutions that are really just grasping at industrial straws, there are people living sustainably in Sweden, and doing it so intimately they can describe one reindeer out of a thousand. The civilized and the industrialized are still trying to destroy them — the people, reindeer, and rivers — to rum a lace work of interdependence into production units and consumer goods. Still, the Sami persist. If the civilized could learn by example, surely of all people the Swedes would. But it is not the lack of examples of sustainable, egalitarian, and peaceful cultures that is the problem and it never has been. The problem is power, and the bottomless well of psychopathology that is eating the planet alive.


[T]he foundation of this culture is force. And the primary reason we don’t resist is because we are afraid of that force. We know if we act decisively to protect the places and creatures we love or if we act decisively to stop corporate exploitation of the poor, that those in power will come down on us with the full power of the state. We can talk all we want about how we supposedly live in a democracy. And we can talk all we want about the consent of the governed. But what it really comes down to is if you effectively oppose the will of those in power, they will try to kill you. We need to make that explicit so we can face the situation that we’re in. And the situation we’re in is that those in power are killing the planet and they are exploiting the poor, they are murdering the poor, and we are not stopping them because we are afraid.


There will never be another oil age. There will never be another natural gas age. There will never be another Iron Age or Bronze Age. Further, there will never be — or not for a very, very long time — an age of tall ships, for example, because the forests are gone. This culture has destroyed so much that there will not be the foundation upon which a similar civilization could be built. Topsoil is gone. No, there will never be another rise of a civilization like this. There might be — presuming humans survive — some small-scale civilizations, but there will never be another one like this.


DeCaro notes that [John] Brown’s reputation in history has been consistently attacked and “the ‘facts’ of his case have been mediated from slave masters, pro-slavery people, and pacifists.” (Those in the latter category will hopefully find it relevant, if embarrassing, that they are lumped in with such dreadful company.) But not everyone has been so easily convinced that Brown was wrongheaded. Malcolm X, not surprisingly, had great respect for John Brown and little patience for white liberals who criticized his methods. “John Brown… was a white man who went to war against white people to help free slaves. And any white man who is ready and willing to shed blood for your freedom — in the sight of other whites, he’s nuts.” In other words, those who hate Brown do so in large part because he was a “race traitor.”


[T]he only reason large-scale agriculture even functions is because of cheap oil; without that, large-scale agriculture goes back to depending on slavery and serfdom, as in most of the history of civilization. In the year 1800, at the dawn of the industrial revolution, close to 80 percent of the human population of this planet was in some form of serfdom or slavery. And that was with a fraction of the current human population of seven billion. That was with oceans still relatively full of fish, global forests still relatively intact, with prairie and agricultural lands in far better condition than they are now, with water tables practically brimming by modern standards. What do you think is going to happen to social justice concessions when cheap oil — and hence, almost everything else — runs out? Without a broad-based and militant resistance movement that can focus on these urgent threats, the year 1800 is going to look downright cheerful.

An object lesson on gender conformity.

A short story of how a boy decided to wear a dress at a party and how the adults reacted to the situation: about as badly as you imagine, and with heaps of gender enforcement directed against both the boy and his parents. But there’s an interesting twist:

Interestingly enough, not a single child said a word about their choice of costumes, other than to compliment Chester on his new dress.


Feminism should appeal to men?

* Feminism should be doing more to garner the approval and support of men.

Let’s apply that reasoning more universally, shall we?

* Abortion advocates should be doing more to garner the approval and support of fundamentalist Christians.

* The atheist community should be doing more to garner the approval and support of religious leaders.

* Anarchism should be doing more to garner the approval and support of politicians.

* Communism should be doing more to garner the approval and support of business owners.

* Antinatalism should be doing more to garner the approval and support of parents.

* Evolution scientists should be doing more to garner the approval and support of Young-Earth Creationists.

* Race traitors should be doing more to garner the approval and support of racists.

* Anti-fascists should be doing more to garner the approval and support of fascists.

Doesn’t work, does it. Then why constantly regurgitate the first and not all the other ones?

Axes of Ego – Broken Promises and Lies – KVMF 2009


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