Skin in the Game: Waking up to the Multicult Scam

What Freddie de Boer has to say on the uniquely leftist brand of lunacy known as “call out” culture is, as is often the case, well worth reading, though those blessed by not having experienced it will need a one sentence primer to fully understand what his target is.  Suffice to say that the subject matter (initially broached in a typically cynical and snide column by Jonatan Chait) involves a rather bizarre form of ritualized shaming and blaming based on an individual’s privileged status in relation to others. (An iconically toxic expression can be found here.)

Of course, there are always some grounds on which a leftist X can rationalize “calling out” another leftist Y. And X can even be, as Freddie observes, a white upper middle class woman with Y a working class anti-war hispanic veteran insufficiently au courant with the approved lexicon designating traditionally oppressed groups or marginalized communities.

I won’t cite any examples from my own experience though it occurs to me that pretty much all of us have ones of our own, albeit not quite as vile, and or dramatic.

Where I would take minor issue with Freddie is in his view of those promoting “political correctness/ social justice politics/ social media activism/ language policing/” versus those opposing them.  This he takes as merely a “tactical difference . . . frequently misrepresented as ideological and demographic.”

What he tiptoes around is that in many cases the differences aren’t tactical at all but rather deeply ideological. As Freddie suggests, the Social Justice Warriors most willing to make the most extreme slanders often have “no skin in the game” in that, whatever their demographic profile, they are middle class at least and educated at elite schools. For this reason, they stand to benefit from the technocratic multiculturalism which has become the unmistakably dominant form of capitalism in our time.

Given this fact, it stands to reason that these budding elites are not just unconcerned with the kinds of political mobilization which might challenge entrenched wealth and privilege, they are hostile to it. Rather than restricting elites’ acquisition of wealth and political power, they are fundamentally invested in continuing it, provided that the spoils are divided up by an appropriately diverse corps of technocrats.

That this is not just an abstract theory but real world reality has been demonstrated by the Obama administration’s routine silencing of its critics using tactics very similar to those of the SJWs, as I have noted elsewhere. These have included dark suggestions that left criticisms of Obama’s objectively reactionary policies were motivated by racism. The first of these was circulated by noted anti-racist activist Tim Wise who denounced those showing insufficient enthusiasm for the investiture of the first African American president as likely candidates for “immolation” which according to Wise, they will “richly deserve.”

Wise’s mission was then carried on by Melissa Harris Parry, who took up Wise’s smear of Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden as “not heros” while claiming that Obama’s violations of civil liberties could be dismissed since “black people didn’t care”. Other reliable pitbulls were Al Sharpton, Joy Ann Reid and others at MSNBC who passed on other smears of those in the Occupy Movement criticizing Obama administration back bailouts as suffering from “white privilege.”

These are a few examples among many demonstrating how meritocratic multiculturalism, anathema to a previous generation of elites, has since become a powerful weapon in the hands of neoliberalism. Rather than rejecting diversity, neoliberal elites have long since recognized that accepting its premises powerfully legitimates their claims on institutional power and provides a useful bludgeon by which they can put critics on the defensive.

The extravagant exercises in political correctness undertaken by campus leftists should be seen not as tactics to advance the left but as active contributions to the assertion of neoliberal dominance.

It’s worked very well for them for a couple of generations. It’s time that we wised up to it.

Reflections on SOTU: Delusion, Decline and Catastrophe

In what has become a familiar ritual, liberal critics were bewildered that Obama’s progressive proposals in his State of the Union address (on paid sick leave, increased taxation of capital gains, raising the minimum wage etc.) are being advanced at a time when Republican congressional majorities make them impossible to pass.

The cluelessness of this becomes more apparent with each iteration.  After all, to ask the question why the Democrats are not committed to policies opposed by their major financial backers is virtually to answer it.  And so too is the no-brainer converse: why do Democrats advance legislation supported by their base (and, for that matter, most of the population), only when it has no chance of becoming law.
Liberals averting their eyes to money functioning as the mother’s milk of politics and the resultant sale of government to the highest bidders used to be a grimly amusing spectacle.  But more recently the joke has become stale. That goes particularly for those of us who have children born in this century a circumstance which guarantees, it now seems certain, that they will be staring into the gaping maw of a planet no longer able support our species as they approach middle age.


Any doubts on this score are being effectively removed each year as no transformation towards the sustainable economy which is the only hope of saving our species is even hinted at. SOTU 2015 confirmed yet again the encroaching nightmare with Obama’s bland, pro forma recognition that “global warming is real” and then obliterating it by announcing his commitment to the TPP and increased domestic energy production both of which are certain to boost CO2 emissions.

 

These and other SOTU platitudes amounted to just one more rotation of the whorl as we circle the drain.

 

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For what it’s worth, outside of the beltway one can, as usual, find a few dissident voices in command of their perceptual faculties.

Two of these are Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway whose The Collapse of Western Civilization provides an uncomfortably credible portrait of the world which awaits our progeny and which some of us will have the misfortune to experience in our dotage.

Resource wars, mass starvation, forced population transfer, a billion climate refugees, inundation of much of the currently inhabited landmass of the earth, massive proliferation of infectious diseases, it’s all there.   And while nominally science fiction-a history written in the late 24th century- its predictions are on solid scientific foundations-Oreskes and Conway are PhD’s and noted historians of science-copiously supported by the technical literature and the overwhelming consensus of researchers working in the relevant fields.

There is, as even Oreskes and Conway note, still time to avert the worst, but this will require mass, concerted intergovernmental action within the next decade-the exact opposite of the mass inaction which has characterized the response since the crisis became unignorable three decades ago.

There is by now no rational basis for believing that any more than token gestures will materialize from our leadership class.  And so we will take our place in line with what may well have been numerous other planets which have spawned advanced, “intelligent” life forms unable to maintain the ecological conditions required to support their species.

With that in mind, in what can only by now be characterized as a spasm of irrationality, I procured a boxful of Oreskes and Conway’s one hundred page text with the intention of sending copies to those who might be in a position to make a difference and could be swayed by an acquaintance with the undeniable facts.

Silly of course, but hope dies last and we’ll probably keep on hoping until the laws of thermodynamics bring our brief experiment to an end, some time in the next century.

Eight Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo

1) The basic philosophy informing Charlie Hebdo (having deep roots in French culture) is misanthropy. Those who produce it are misanthropes: they hate all members of our species.

2) A subset of our species are those belonging to marginalized and oppressed races, religions and ethnicities.

3) It logically follows from 1) that Charlie Hebdo hates those denoted in 2).

4) It follows from 3) that Charlie Hebdo is racist and those looking for it will be able to find plenty of evidence to that effect. But

5) According to another definition, given that Charlie Hebdo’s hatred it indiscriminate, i.e. not directed to any particular segment but all segments of humanity, it is not racist.

6) It follows from 1) that Charlie Hebdo is fundamentally suspicious of the capacity of humans to act decently towards each other, to accept responsibility for their own actions or to be trusted with state power.

7) It follows from 6) that whether or not it is racist, Charlie Hebdo is objectively reactionary.

8) All mistanthropes-and a lot of self-identified leftists are misanthropes-are reactionary and they should be viewed by the left as such.

Good Trot, Bad Trot

Anyone making controversial statements on politics, as I occasionally do, should expect arguments.

Almost all of those who have taken issue with me when I do so are articulate, perceptive and well informed and almost all are polite. But a few are insulting, applying to me words such “moronic”, “idiotic”, “clueless”, “asshole”, and “fool” among others.

Although it is readily apparent that these emanate from a small number of individuals what those following my threads may not know is that all would be described as Trotskyites.  That’s to say that they belong to political groups claiming Leon Trotsky as a primary inspiration (along with Marx and Lenin).

While a distinct variety of smug arrogance and dismissive rudeness has been fairly characteristic of these circles since Marx  there is more at work here than bad manners in that the behavior on view is goes beyond personal and into politics.

For the personal attacks are not merely obnoxious acts of obnoxious people. Rather they are a tactic to achieve a political end–to silence others by suggesting that their opinions are essentially ridiculous and fundamentally illegitimate. Consistent with what is likely a coordinated effort, other group members will usually pile on creating the impression that a broad consensus has emerged.  If that can’t be accomplished, they will “go negative” by injecting well practiced ad hominem remarks to create a hostile conversational environment driving away those who might otherwise participate.

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Given that we share many of the same political objectives, including erasing disparities in wealth, power and privilege, supporting health care, housing and education as basic human rights, democratizing the workplace, saving the planetary ecosystem from its near certain destruction by capitalism etc. the question naturally is raised, why would a group want to silence those who are attempting to advance these goals.

The answer is that, for them, more important than the goal is the path which leads there. This must be that dictated by Marx-more precisely their particular reading of the “science” of Marxism as has been applied within their democratically central internal deliberations.  Just as teams of structural engineers apply the principles of Newtonian mechanics or materials science in constructing a bridge, or a botanist applies principles of genetics in breeding for a disease resistant crop so do party members in good standing derive the correct, scientifically informed answers on left tactics and strategy.  This they expect others to follow based on its status as authoritative scientific truth.

Those lacking a background in “Marxist theory” or skeptical of the claims for its scientific status or even those who adopt unorthodox readings of Marx are viewed as dangerously irresponsible,  particularly when they endorse positions deviating from the party line.  According to this brand of Trotskyite logic, taking seriously their suggestions on political matters would be analogous to entrusting the design of an aircraft to someone ignorant of aerodynamics or vaccine design to those without a basic understanding of biochemistry.

It is therefore a mistake to engage these views seriously as doing so legitimizes what are dangerously illegitimate views.  Those advancing them need to be removed from public discourse by ridicule, exposed as buffoons, ignoramuses or worse.

Hence the routine appearance of this sect of Trotskyists on my threads where they attempt to do just that by deploying their now familiar lexicon of slurs and insults.

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I should make clear here that not all Marxists share these views or have adopted these tactics. Some have criticized as inherently flawed the premise of democratic centralism implicating it in what is obvious to everyone:  the abject failure of these groups to succeed as mass organizations, invariably deteriorating to a small number of absurdists endlessly parodied, most memorably in The Life of Brian. I won’t weigh in on this matter except to note that while I’m sympathetic to horizontalism and recognize its necessary role in achieving vibrant and even minimally functional organizations, I also recognize its inherent liabilities; one of the many useful consequences of the Occupy movement was in exposing both the potential and limitations of horizontalism.

Finally, even among Trotskyists adopting some form of democratic centralism not all find it necessary or even useful to trivialize and attack those with whom they have tactical or strategic disagreements.   Rather they have found ways to disagree without being disagreeable, something which anyone with a serious investment in achieving concrete political goals recognizes as a minimal requirement for success.

In contrast, those wanting to succeed in academic seminar rooms-and it should be noted here that the Trots in question are, from what I can tell, without exception current or former graduate students-will adopt rhetorical practices appropriate to them-with the predictable cost of irrelevance and marginalization from the broad mass which must be engaged for any movement worthy of the name to succeed.