Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The culture war continues

There was much distress on the left following the election of Donald Trump. But the reality is that the left is still happily pursuing the culture wars. Consider the issue of our biological sex, the fact of being male or female. For liberals, this fact is problematic. Let me briefly restate why:

1. Liberals assume that there is no objective truth that might guide or order our identity, purposes or roles in life.

2. Liberals assume that our dignity as humans rests instead on the freedom we have to autonomously choose our own identity and purposes.

3. Therefore, what matters is that we are able to freely self-determine who we are and what we do.

4. Therefore, predetermined roles, purposes or identities are looked on negatively as artificial constructs which limit or confine the individual. A left-liberal might add that these predetermined identities are designed to maintain the privilege of an oppressor group over those designated as the "other".

5. Our biological sex is predetermined. We don't get to choose whether we are male or female. Therefore, liberals believe that our biological sex has to be made not to matter. This can be done through social engineering to make sure that men and women choose the same life roles and have the same life outcomes. Or, more radically, it can be done by asserting that the "gender binary" (being male and female) is a social construct and that in reality we can express our own individual sexual identity ("gender diversity").

Liberals are serious about all this. They won't give up just because of a few electoral losses. For instance, in the news recently was a story that the Oxford University Student Union had distributed a leaflet pushing the use of the gender neutral pronoun "ze". The Student Union denied this:
We have not produced a leaflet implying that all students must use ‘ze’ pronouns to refer to others, or indeed to themselves. We believe the resources which are referred to within many of the articles could be support materials used by our student leaders and welfare representatives, which alongside other information and tips, reminds individuals of the importance of not assuming the pronouns of their peers while also aiming to normalise stating pronouns in introductions. Further to this, the assumptions made may in fact refer to a policy used with the Students’ Union Council, where it is asked (for accessibility and minuting purposes) that everyone who speaks states their name, college and pronouns. There is also a further possibility that our work and remit has been confused with the work of the wider University, whose Trans Policy and guidance does include a mention of neopronouns (pronoun sets like ‘ze/hir’, ‘ey/em/eirs’).

It's not exactly reassuring, is it? If you want to be in good standing with the Oxford University Student Union you have to start your presentations by stating your preferred pronouns. Even if most people get up and say they prefer "he" or "she," in doing so they will still be affirming the liberal idea that we get to choose our own sexual identity. It's a liberal win.

There have been other similar stories in the media lately which I will report on in coming days. I'd like to end by pointing out that the place for traditionalists to oppose these liberal measures is not in the details but at the liberal starting point (the assumptions that liberals begin with that I listed above).

We have to go back and assert, contrary to liberalism, that there are objective truths embedded within the biological/natural, social and spiritual aspects of reality which help to guide and order our identity and purposes so that we best fulfil who we are as men and women.

11 comments:

  1. Mark, I know you have articulated this explanation of transgenderism before, the idea that one has to be free to choose one's gender because predetermined identities shouldn't matter. I was wondering how you square this with the cultural-left idea that gender identity is in fact predetermined but simply does not correspond with biological sex in a minority of people. Transgender advocates are big on this idea that there are two totally separate things, biological sex and gender identity, and that they're both in fact predetermined. It's very important to them that, just as homosexuals are "born this way," so are transgendered people. They would say that a "transgender woman" (i.e., a biological male who wants to be a woman) really is and has always been a woman, and in fact get offended at the suggestion that she "chose to become a woman." (Many of them will say things like "I knew by the time I was 5 years old that I was really a girl.") They are very excited about the potential of future biological testing modalities, like various types of brain imaging or genetic tests, which they are confident will show that there are real differences between the male vs. female brain, and that transgender people are essentially born with the brain type of the opposite sex. There is even bitter infighting on the left over this, between transgender advocates who believe this, and old-school feminists who think that it's sexist because gender is a social construction and there can't be any such thing as a male brain or a female brain. How does this square with your idea that it's about people being free to choose their gender?

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    1. Hermes, it's an interesting question, and I can only speculate. I think perhaps that for the liberal authorities the larger aim is to break down the gender binary. If there are only two sexes, then individuals are limited in their self-chosen identity. The transgender movement in useful in this respect as it detaches gender identity from biological sex; the transsexual person is placing what they feel themselves to be over what they are chromosomally. But you are right that many transsexual people themselves don't follow the liberal script in the sense that they still accept the male/female gender binary but believe that they are somehow born into the wrong body. That's why it's possible to have a transsexual woman as a prominent defender of the traditional view of things on YouTube. As you say, though, there are feminists who dislike transsexuals for this very reason. The feminists believe that the transsexuals are reinforcing feminine gender stereotypes.

      Hasn't liberalism gone beyond this, though? The university liberals are not just demanding that we call a transsexual woman "she" rather than "he". They are using the issue to insist that we use made up pronouns of people's own choice, like "ze" (there's a bewildering variety of them).

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    2. To an SJW the fact that their arguments are mutually contradictory is a feature not a bug. Anyone who has read his Orwell knows that the aim is to coerce us into believing things that we know for a certainty to be nonsense. The aim is to demoralise, confuse and frighten people so that eventually they will simply believe what they're told to believe even if they know it isn't true.

      How many people are going to have the courage to suggest that maybe we haven't always been at war with Eurasia?

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    3. Well, I certainly didn't mean to take the usual mainstream conservative approach of pointing out liberal "hypocrisy" as though merely doing so were going to defeat them and win the day. I'm aware that, as the late great Lawrence Auster used to say, there is no liberal double standard, because these two seemingly contradictory ideas can be unified under the ideal of destroying the traditional West. Maybe that's the most that can be said about it: that various factions of the left will use different arguments at different times for different purposes, and some of these arguments might contradict each other, but at the end of the day, the left doesn't care, because their goal is not truth, but rather the dismantling of traditional Western civilization.

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  2. Yes, our ability to make objective moral claims has diminished greatly in the last 100 years. I think there is a link between GE Moore/Emotivism/Principia Ethica and feminism (via Virginia Woolfe and Co) that enabled those desperate for liberation to deny the possibility of objective truths and thus 'do what you feel' more easily. Really though, the father of all this was the enlightenment project. It is the job of those that live now to find our way back to objective moral claims.

    (I'm trying to make some along the way, see here http://freedomandduty.com/strategy-culture-war/)

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  3. Regarding identity politics and universities, this is a must see:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qd1SVUXFgr8

    This is from a university in Sweden and the students are very, very liberal!

    The title is: Am I a cat? University students answer.

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    1. Yes, it's a classic. Thanks for reminding me about this video. I looked it up and Hanna Lindholm has made another one which is also quite good.

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  4. Not that long ago it seemed there was a truce of sorts and people with affectations or abnormalities of this sort were happy enough to feel more or less accepted in the modern social milieu. Maybe 1975-1995 or so. This was a transition period between closeted homosexuals and closeted conservatives, both of which feared ostracism and job loss. The quest now is far more aggressive and many in the "movement" appear to want to dictate the culture to those who dare resist their demands.

    Are the promoters of "alternative sexuality" using liberalism toward their own ends or is it the other way round?

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    1. Are the promoters of "alternative sexuality" using liberalism toward their own ends or is it the other way round?

      That's another good question. Is it not possible that the answer is "both"? Liberalism provides a framework for the promoters of alternative sexuality to achieve their aims, and alternative sexualities helps liberals to achieve theirs?

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    2. Are the promoters of "alternative sexuality" using liberalism toward their own ends or is it the other way round?

      Or are both groups simply being used by ruthless amoral globalists who don't actually care one way or the other about "alternative sexuality" except insofar as it is a useful tool to demoralise the populace and keep the globalists in power?

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    3. Perhaps the globalists in some form or another have always been in power in a broad sense. They represent constant forces outside of normal citizenship, nation and culture and seem to be concerned exclusively with power and finance. All else is an amusement to them perhaps.

      The amorality of globalism is not transcendent and while liberalism has surely has served the interests of the former there are limits to any ideology when it comes to impacting powerful interests. My hope is that another of those "impacted" powerful interests is a collective of right-minded people everywhere.

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