Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Alanna & The Pigman

A man posed the following question at the men's rights page at reddit:

What is masculinity? How does a male act? What are your definitions for being manly?

His question was answered in a liberal modernist way. In the following exchange a commenter calling himself "The Pigman" and another commenter "Alanna" run the line that there is no such thing as manliness and that any attempt to define it is a subjective, arbitrary power play. I briefly respond to them (as "melb22"):

ThePigman: No support here. Last thing we need is a flood of trolls from the manhood academy telling the rest of us how to live. As for being manly, it's all remarkably easy - if you are an adult homo sapiens with a body full of y chromosomes you are being manly.

melb22: I'm curious as to why you would say that. Is there really no masculine ideal for men to strive for? What about courage, for instance? Is a man who stands up for himself not more manly than a man who timorously takes orders?

ThePigman: Courage is not manly, there are male cowards and female heroes, though not many of the latter. The wimp is a man, the tough guy is a man, and claims of anything else are just an attempt to manipulate men not doing one's bidding. Why any of this needs to be pointed out is beyond me.

melb22: I disagree with you. There is a masculine essence that men succeed in cultivating to a greater or lesser degree. It is this that makes us spiritually men or not. The wimp might be male but he is not a man.

Yes, an appeal to masculinity can be used to manipulate, but that doesn't mean that masculinity itself is false - just that we have to discriminate between worthy and unworthy appeals to manhood.

Alanna: This seems completely arbitrary to me, and you can see that in the fact that different cultures define "manly" in completely different, often contradictory ways. Your definition is as subjective as others.

ThePigman: Where is your evidence for the existence of this "masculine essence?"

What I find interesting about this exchange is the chasm between my understanding of reality and that of The Pigman and Alanna.

The latter two seem to have this basic attitude that there is just me as an abstracted individual and my own subjective desires and anyone who asserts anything beyond this is just trying to get me to follow his subjective desires rather than my own.

It's a modernist brew that seems to be made up of an extreme nominalism (i.e. that there are only individual instances of things that can't be grouped together meaningfully); extreme scepticism (we cannot know anything about the objective world, all we can be certain of is our own subjective will); extreme liberalism (what matters is that I'm left autonomous to follow my own subjective desires); and extreme scientism (i.e. "I won't take the existence of something seriously unless there is some scientific like proof for it").

The scientism in this case is particularly misplaced, as science has demonstrated beyond doubt that there are hardwired differences between men and women. It is moderns who deny meaningful sex distinctions who have to explain themselves before a court of science - not traditionalists.

What is also striking about The Pigman's take on things is just how empty and alienating it is. There is just arbitrary, subjective desire not connected to anything beyond itself.

I admit that the view of masculinity I put forward in the exchange is a deep form of traditionalism that not everyone might accept. However, I suspect that the more spirited young men would much rather lean toward my traditionalist view than the modernist one espoused by Alanna and The Pigman.

And that's another reason for those of us opposed to modernist trends to stay hopeful. As the modernist view becomes increasingly radical it is bound to become unacceptable to some younger members of the political class.

Our job is to keep working to build up an increasingly visible political alternative, so that we are there to attract those who become alienated by an increasingly radical modernity.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jon Voight on the sixties

Jon Voight
American actor Jon Voight was asked in an interview about the culture of the 1960s. His response is interesting:

It was a disturbing time. When I look back, we were all in confusion. I have to say, I think we were traumatized because we had our great president [John F. Kennedy], whom we believed in so deeply, this great young man of Camelot—and it was dashed by an assassin's bullet. Then, a couple of years later, it was [U.S. Senator] Bobby [Kennedy] and Martin Luther King [Jr., who were both assassinated in 1968]. That set off a tremor that we really didn't know how to deal with. We were traumatized in the Sixties and all of that behavior—the dancing in circles, the smoking pot and saying "all we need is love"—it was because we couldn't identify evil; we couldn't believe in evil—we didn't want to believe in evil so we just hid from it. It was a very disturbing time. Some of it—let everybody do their thing and all that stuff—was OK in terms of getting to the truth of things and that was a nice energy. But, really, overwhelmingly, it was a very bizarre, selfish and hedonistic philosophy that wasn't very helpful. It attacked the family—the attack on the family was very severe because not only was there this idea of [indiscriminate love] and that would solve the world's problems, which gave rise to teen pregnancy, but also this idea not to trust anyone over 30. This was from people who were over 30 and bombed out of their minds with every kind of drug they could put into their system. Then there was the romanticization of the drugs—there were people coming out with [pseudo] scientific evidence that [drugs] increase your enlightenment—it was devastating. Today, I find that people look back at that time in a romantic way and that's as dangerous as anything is. It wasn't a romantic time. It was a time of great distortion.

Voight seems to have grown up in a liberal milieu (which would explain the idealisation of the Kennedys) but he doesn't look back nostalgically on the 60s and he thinks it's a mistake to romanticise the era.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A competing paradigm

Liberalism does generate a morality of sorts. If you have accepted the framework of liberalism then you'll think that you're a good person if you are non-discriminatory, non-judgemental, non-racist, non-sexist, tolerant and independent.

What I've attempted to do at this site is to criticise this moral framework by going back to first principles and showing where such ideas came from and what they must ultimately lead to.

But there are other ways we can take aim at liberalism. One option is to look at liberal moral claims (being non-discriminatory, non-judgemental etc.) and criticise them directly.

For instance, we could argue that although there are occasions in which it's correct not to discriminate or to judge, that at other times it's the right and proper thing to do. For instance, can we really not discriminate in favour of our own families? If I earn a weekly wage do I really have to share it randomly with anyone I meet, rather than using it to benefit my own children? Can I really not judge if my 16-year-old daughter were to start going out with a 45-year-old bikie?

We can also criticise liberal moral claims in a more general sense. What these claims are pressing us to be is an impartial, leave others alone, individual. But that's a deficient view - it leaves out the more active, positive, "upholding" qualities that are necessary to keep a civilisation healthy. It also leaves the "good" liberal citizen as a kind of cellophane man - the kind of person who is left with no positive qualities of his own to assert in the world - his "goodness" is merely one of not judging or discriminating in regards to the "other".

But there is a limitation to all of these criticisms: they don't go beyond liberalism to assert an alternative. The hope, perhaps, is that by criticising liberalism effectively, the natural inclination of people toward traditionalism will be allowed to be freely expressed once more.

The problem is that most people do need to have an immediate moral framework to live by - something that tells them that they are a good person living a meaningful life. And even if we criticise the liberal framework effectively, people are less likely to abandon it if there is no alternative for them to jump to.

So we need to be not only critics of liberalism but also promoters of an alternative traditionalist paradigm.

It's true that traditionalism is not an ideology which starts from a single principle from which other values then logically flow. So our paradigm won't be a simple, reductionist one.

But it's still possible to assert something of what a good traditionalist life would look like. For instance, whereas liberals might emphasise being non-discriminatory or non-judgemental, traditionalists would emphasise the value of connectedness to particular expressions of culture, nature, art and tradition.

So, whereas a liberal culture surrounds people with the message of "enjoying diversity," a traditionalist one might do likewise with the message of "feeling connected to my heritage".

The point is that we don't have to wait for liberalism to crash before asserting a competing paradigm in our own communities. We can begin the process of having parallel paradigms operating side by side.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Rachael Lloyd comes clean

Rachael Lloyd with a cousin's daughter
Last year English journalist Rachael Lloyd put a positive spin on being single and childless in her late 30s:

I relish my freedom of spirit, financial independence and surrogate family of friends and work colleagues.

... I'm perfectly happy with my lot ...I love my job and wake up each day raring to get to work ... I spend my evenings seeing friends, dining out, going to the cinema or working out at a posh gym ... When I'm feeling maternal, I borrow a friend's King Charles Spaniel, Stella, for cuddles.

...There's a freedom to my life that I know I would never have if I was married with children

But she's now written another column, this time confessing that she is grieving over the absence of children:

the pain of being childless throbs away in my chest, and sometimes it feels unbearable. There are evenings I go home and just lie in the dark waiting for the day to end and my disappointment to be wiped out by sleep.

There are also few people I can talk to about it. My deeply mourned infertility is somehow seen as my own fault — a badge of shame that I have to wear.

...As each month passes and the tick of my biological clock gets ever more deafening, I have to face the fact that motherhood is highly unlikely to happen for me.

...I have no partner with whom to commiserate, no one to put their arms around me and tell me that it doesn’t matter, I’m still loved. I’m in this alone. Life can, at times, seem sterile and lonely.

Her autonomous, independent, modern girl lifestyle has led her to what she feels to be a sterile and lonely life.

Why did she not meet someone and have children? It's the predictable reason. She went along with the idea that her 20s were for partying, career and casual affairs with unsuitable men and that husband and children would just happen naturally after she turned 30:

So how did I manage to miss the boat? How did I mess up so spectacularly?

During my 20s, I put in long days as an aspiring journalist, and at night I partied with the best of them.

...Like a lot of women my age, I’d thought 30 was probably an ideal age to settle down. But once I hit 30, it was as if I hit an oil patch and the years just slipped away. The men I dated either weren’t at the same life stage as me, or simply didn’t have the money to commit to a baby.
She admitted in her previous column that:

Historically, I've picked good-looking villains and addictive personalities.

I've had a ball and many passionate experiences, but nothing functional enough to constitute a long-term future - and never anyone 'normal' enough to bring home to meet the parents.

She's an attractive woman who in her 20s rewarded unsuitable men. Now, in her late 30s, she'll take anybody:

But as I approach 40, the landscape is not promising. Yes I date, and I’ve had some deliciously romantic experiences, but I feel this reccurring panic. Instead of getting to know someone slowly, I find myself sizing them up. Would they make a good father? Are they solvent enough? Could I wake up next to them each morning without wanting to strangle them?

If so, would they be willing to just get a move on and impregnate me?

There's one aspect of what went wrong for Rachael Lloyd that I should go back to. She writes that when she hit 30 and finally started to take the idea of marriage seriously, that the men she dated were not at the same life stage or didn't have enough money.

Reading between the lines, I imagine that she wanted an old-fashioned type of man successful in his career who could provide her and her future children with an upper middle-class lifestyle (whilst she perhaps did some occasional freelance work from home).

It's not that I think there's anything wrong with a middle-class woman having such an ideal. But how did she expect it to work out? How did she expect a family oriented, upper middle-class man to be waiting there for her when she turned 30?

If a man knows that he's not going to be wanted as a husband until about his mid-30s, then isn't it possible that his motivation to push ahead in a career will suffer? And what if, in his 20s, he is forced to compete with a cohort of highly careerist female peers for jobs and promotions and be put at a disadvantage by affirmative action policies, both official and unofficial? And what if young men realise that women are rewarding men not for their family guy qualities, but for being "villains and addictive personalities" - is that going to leave a pool of family oriented career men waiting for women when they turn 30?

If women like Rachael Lloyd still want to end up with a family oriented, career successful man, then they have to be part of a culture that encourages the production of such men. There should not be an assumption that a successful and stable family life is something that happens regardless as some kind of personal right.

This is a point that was made in Dalrock's post on the same story which can be read here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

More reasons not to glamourise the 60s culture

Erica Manfred grew up in a communist family in America. She writes that she and her family considered themselves morally superior to other folk:

As a teenager, I was secretly disdainful of my peers because they were oblivious to the suffering of others. My family and I were part of a morally superior secret society that cared more about the fate of the world than did our bourgeois, materialistic neighbors. We - whose showplace home could have been in House and Garden - worried about poverty, racism and injustice, while they worried about how to keep up with the Joneses.

But did caring about "social justice" really lead to morally superior behaviour? It doesn't seem to have done so. If you read a column she wrote about her love life in the late 1960s, you get a sense of just how destructive the morals of the era could be. In short, she decided to pursue married men. She writes about her first affair with a married man that:

His wife wasn't real to me--she was just an obstacle.

When that relationship ended, she decided to pursue another married man named Michael:

The only hindrance to our budding romance was his pregnant wife and their young child. His marital status made him a challenge to seduce and I couldn't resist. Michael and I fell madly in love and had a steamy affair. I reveled in his adoration of me. I tried desperately to talk him into leaving his wife, invoking the power of our love. I was a romantic to the core and never questioned that love should always triumph. It never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with breaking up his marriage.

When the relationship with Michael ended, she moved onto Larry:

I fell in love with Larry, yet another romantic writer, and moved in with him. After he dumped me a year later--he was tired of me hassling him to get married--I called Michael to see if he wanted to take up where we'd left off. Although he said he still loved me, the answer was a resounding no. It seemed his wife, who was pregnant when we'd met, had found out about us and then committed suicide after the baby was born. She was devastated by his infidelity, and was also undoubtedly stricken by post-partum depression as well, an unknown malady at the time. He now had two small children and felt too massively guilty to have anything to do with me ever again. I was shocked, horrified, but it never really occurred to me to feel guilty about his poor wife--or poor kids-- my ethical development was sorely lacking I'm afraid. To my eternal shame I only felt sorry for myself. No man, no place to live, no job.

It seems that growing up communist and worrying about "poverty, racism and injustice" didn't really create a genuinely morally sensitive woman.

The story gets worse. Erica eventually married a younger, unemployed man who became the primary carer for their adopted daughter. But he left them for another woman when the daughter was seven:

my adopted daughter, who, at age seven wound up in a psychiatric hospital diagnosed with a mood disorder. She felt abandoned both by me, since I was too depressed to be there for her emotionally, and also by her father who left me for another woman. He had been her primary caretaker as well, so that compounded the injury. She cried every night for a year, and then became progressively more angry, destructive, violent and even suicidal. The poor kid--whose birth mom had been an addict--really didn't have the inner emotional resources to deal with divorce.

Erica Manfred did have a moral vision. This, for instance, is what she wrote in 1997:

What remains of the left in today's me-first political climate leaves no room for grand social visions. The younger generation of leftists has splintered into interest groups - each defending its turf with more arrogant political correctness than my die-hard Stalinist parents - without any unifying vision of a just and compassionate society.

Though I long ago dropped the torch, my upbringing has had certain long-term effects. I cannot cross a picket line. I am constitutionally averse to Republicans. I feel guilty every time I miss a demonstration for a good cause. (Lucky for me there aren't too many of those these days.) As with other wishy-washy liberals, my political life consists of voting for the least objectionable candidate.

I still long, though, for a political movement I could wholeheartedly embrace. In my fantasy party we would support the interests of the poor and working classes, not the rich; we would fight for the rights of animals and the environment; we would combat discrimination wherever we found it, and, most important, we would not only tolerate but encourage dissent.

Maybe the next generation.

But it's a moral vision that is deficient. Erica Manfred can spout all the boilerplate she likes about a just and compassionate society or combatting discrimination or encouraging dissent - but none of this "grand social vision" seems to have encompassed creating a workable culture of family life or personal relationships.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A leftist woman responds

Earlier this month I wrote a post titled "How do leftist women justify the feminine?" One feminist woman, Georgina Charlotte, left a comment explaining her own attitudes to femininity. I thought it interesting as it highlights the differences between traditional and modern attitudes.

Georgina Charlotte's comment begins like this:
How do leftist women justify the feminine, you ask?

Why should they have to? Personally, I reject the concept of femininity. By that, I mean that I reject the idea that there are a set of behaviors or personality traits that are essential to being a woman. I also reject the idea that I have an obligation to conform to what is considered feminine.

So for Georgina the very concept of the feminine is false. Furthermore, it is a false concept that is oppressive: it implies "an obligation to conform".

Not much support for the feminine in those beliefs.

Traditionalists, in contrast, are likely to argue that there do exist inherent differences between men and women, so that it makes sense to talk of masculine and feminine behaviours and traits. I'm at the most "essentialist" end of the traditionalist spectrum when it comes to sex differences. I do believe that there is a masculine and a feminine essence existing as part of the nature of reality and that men reach maturity by developing along masculine lines just as women do along feminine ones. That's one reason why our self-identity is so closely tied to a sense of ourselves as men and women. It also helps to explain why we usually admire particularly feminine women and masculine men.

Does the traditionalist view mean that men all have to be the same and act the same? No, it doesn't. Men will develop along masculine lines in different ways depending on their talents and personal characteristics. One man might be a scholar, another a sportsman. And something similar goes for women. An outgoing woman might be vivacious and feminine, a more retiring woman might be sensitive and feminine; one sister might appreciate the solitude of nature, another might like parties - but both can express a feminine nature in what they do and who they are.

Georgina goes on to write:

I also think that there are certain aspects of what is considered "feminine" that those women who have those traits should overcome -- timidity, weakness, and gullibility, for example.

But just because I find the concept of "femininity" profoundly silly (and perhaps damaging when social mores elevate weakness as a positive quality in women)...

This is Georgina's double whammy. She rejects the very concept of femininity as being "profoundly silly" (odd then that it has been taken so seriously by every successful civilisation) and she connects it negatively to weakness in women.

In one sense she is right. What we usually think of as feminine qualities aren't as "hardened" as the masculine ones. If that is what she means by "weakness" then perhaps she has a point.

But there are other ways to look at it. The masculine and the feminine don't exist in isolation from each other. They exist in relation to each other and go together to make up what is human. They are two parts in a dynamic relationship which together form what is human. So why see them as competing principles to be weighed against each other?

Georgina goes on to add this:

Most people are a mix of what was traditionally considered masculine and what was traditionally considered feminine. I practice law, argue with people, read history, play and watch sports, trade put-downs with men in the office, lift weights, cook wonderful desserts, wear dresses, and adore Jane Austen.

In my earlier post, I ran through a range of strategies leftist women use to permit themselves to be feminine. One that I listed was the following:

Another strategy is to claim to be mixing and matching, e.g. that you are wearing lipstick and high heels while drinking beer and putting up a shed in the backyard, or riding a Harley-Davidson whilst wearing lace.

Georgina is adopting this mix & match strategy - or something very much like it. The wearing of dresses and the making of desserts is offset by the lifting of weights and the watching of sports.

It's true that the interests of men and women overlap. It's not true, though, that the average person is a random mix of the traditionally feminine and masculine.

And there are limits to the mix & match strategy. Taken too far it would put people off. Do men really want to be in a relationship with women who are half masculine and half feminine? And how would Georgina really react if her husband were to say to her "Today I'm going to play football and have some drinks with my mates at the pub, but tomorrow I'm going to put on a dress and get my nails done down at the mall." The mix & match strategy is more like a game that middle-class lefties play to indicate political awareness - and part of the game is to know how far it can be taken.

Finally, Georgina writes:

I don't spend a lot of time worrying about where I fall on the spectrum of traditional femininity, as it is simply an irrelevant category in my life. What is important to me as a feminist is whether I have equal status and dignity in society, and whether I conduct myself in a morally responsible way.

An irrelevant category? Georgina, your femininity is significant to your self-identity. It is significant to your spouse. It is significant to how you serve your family and community. And it has an inherent value that you have the opportunity to be closely connected to.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Amnesty calls for homelands for all ... well for some anyway

Amnesty International has found that the Aboriginal policies of the Northern Territory and Federal Governments have "fallen below international human rights standards".

Why? It seems that the current policy is to focus on 20 or so large settlements rather than funding many smaller ones. Amnesty is worried that this will push some Aborigines off their traditional lands. An Amnesty spokeswoman, Claire Mallinson, said:

Aboriginal people live healthier and more fulfilling lives on homelands.

Funny, when it comes to everyone else we are told, endlessly, that diversity is a strength. Those who object are labelled xenophobic or worse. But here we have Amnesty telling us that diversity is not a strength at all for Aborigines and that it is "healthier and more fulfilling" for them to keep their homelands.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Another liberal gets mugged by reality

Andrew Gilligan is the London editor of the Telegraph newspaper. He is a fairly purist kind of right liberal. Unlike left liberals he identifies positively with and wants to defend the West but only insofar as it embodies liberal values of multiculturalism, pluralism, diversity etc.

This means that he is ready to attack sharia preaching Muslims in his columns. For instance, in one recent piece he revealed that a group called the Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE) was attempting to infiltrate the Labour Party. This group has plans to convert Europe into an Islamic state. In its training documents the IFE states:

Our goal is not simply to invite people and give da'wah [call to the faith]. Our goal is to create the True Believer, to then mobilise those believers into an organised force for change who will carry out da'wah, hisbah [enforcement of Islamic law] and jihad [struggle]. This will lead to social change and iqamatud-Deen [an Islamic social, economic and political order]."

Andrew Gilligan goes on to list other statements by the group:

Or the leaflet where the IFE tells us that it is dedicated to changing the "very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed ... from ignorance to Islam." Or the document where the IFE says it "strives for the establishment of a global society, the Khilafah ... comprised of individuals who live by the principles of ... the Shari'ah." The IFE's "primary work" to create this state, the document goes on, "is in Europe because it is this continent, despite all the furore about its achievements, which has a moral and spiritual vacuum."

But how does Gilligan finish his column? He believes he is standing with the majority of Muslims as true believers in a liberal world view:

My Muslim friends and I believe in a world that is, in Louis MacNeice's fine words, "incorrigibly plural". We see no reason why we should have to be defined by our faith, unless we want to be. Like the poet, we feel the drunkenness of things being various. The cold Islamic supremacists of the IFE are the enemies not just of democracy, but of multiculturalism and pluralism itself.
There's a bit of liberal autonomy theory thrown in there: the idea that what matters is that we are self-defining individuals. There's also an endorsement of multiculturalism.

And how does Andrew Gilligan think that multiculturalism is going? Well, he believes that it's going just fine, the evidence supposedly being that people are mixing together (which suggests that he doesn't want pluralism after all, just the breakdown of ethnic identity). He writes:

there are very few areas indeed – particularly in London – where a single ethnic minority or faith group dominates. Even in the most ‘non-white’ places, there is usually a mix of Muslims and Hindus, or Asians and blacks. Far from growing levels of ‘crime and conflict’, race crime in London fell by 10.7 per cent last year.

....Overall racial integration in Britain (as measured by rates of mixed marriage) is among the highest in the Western world. Multiculturalism works.

You have to wonder about liberals when you read stuff like this. Even if he were right, and the different ethnic populations were intermarrying and creating a single hybrid population, how does that lead to greater diversity or pluralism in the world? Surely it just knocks out one of the world's distinctive peoples and replaces it by another less distinctive one.

Anyway, as we know, Gilligan's multicultural London - the one that is "working well" - has now exploded into fire, violence and looting. And, to press this point home to Gilligan, he himself was caught up in the middle of it. He was riding his bike to work, found himself in the middle of a mob, got pushed off and had his bike stolen. He was mugged by a multicultural reality.

Gilligan is a good example of why right liberalism is not enough. He needs to acknowledge that liberalism itself has contributed to the social dysfunction that is clearly growing in all Western countries, so that any solution has to come, at least in part, from preliberal traditions - particularly those relating to family, to morality, and to common forms of identity.

The worst responses to the England riots

What have been the most sickening responses to the riots in England?

Contender number one is the left-wing writer who could not even stomach the very respectable efforts by certain middle-class whites to organise a clean up of the mess in the wake of the riots. These broom wielding members of the public alarmed Mr Lefty to the point that he described their tidy up efforts as:

the closest thing to popular fascism that we have seen on the streets of certain 'leafy' bits of London for years.

Some of his fellow lefties agreed with him:

Wit: This is really very good. Thanks for writing this. The Left needs to defend the riots; not to valourise the burning of grannies’ cars, but to make clear that we reject the whole bourgeois construction of events, that we stand in solidarity with the oppressed and that, when it comes to it, we will, without hesitation, join the “rioters” to overthrow the legitimised exploitation, state-sanctioned violence and sham “democracy” that oppress us all.

Polly: Agreed. I’m concerned how cowed the Left is currently by the backlash which is patently more frightening than the actual events.

So some on the radical left see the riots as a legitimate uprising against the bourgeoisie which the left should "without hesitation" join in; the middle-classes who stand in their way with broom sticks are, in this view of things, "fascists".

Nor is this writer alone in his analysis. At another site there is a serious analytical attempt to portray the smiling clean up crews as a form of fascism:

It is this structure of “community”, and “clean up” as the activity of this group, that an old form of popular fascism appears to be revitalized. The new communities of #riotcleanup again make their exclusionary nature clear: these people work not for all, and certainly not for the wellbeing of those who caused the unrest – to work against the poverty and racism – instead, they work for themselves, as a group, and their new society...

Frequently modern fascism is modeled as a post-human technocracy: Marx’s description of the human as a mere appendage to a machine elevated to a rule. Today we need to reassess these thoughts, as under the label of #riotcleanup an older ideology-based fascism is being restored. Unlike dystopic fantasies of a borg-like matrix, it is now necessary to start questioning the fascistic nature of “community” as it is manifest in the response to the riots.

My apologies for the painful read. It's an odd definition of fascism here: if you are working for your own community, rather than for everyone, then you are exclusionary and therefore a fascist. There can be no particular identities and loyalties it seems, when it comes to the radical left. That, to me, is an inhuman demand, one that would strip people of everything but an individualistic consumerism that presumably our radical leftist writer also disapproves of.

However, I don't think these attacks on the white, middle-class clean up crews as "fascists" win the prize for worst political reaction to the riots. The attacks on the white working-class by police chiefs and politicians were most sickening.

At one point in the riots the police were clearly outnumbered and unable to defend local communities. So a number of different ethnic groups turned out to defend their turf - and were largely successful in doing so. But what stood out was the different treatment of these groups. Below is a picture of a group of Sikhs defending their temple:

Even though they were brandishing swords, this group of Sikh men were treated as heroes for their efforts to defend their place of worship. Here's a typical newpaper report:

The Sikh community were running a military style operation to protect themselves after almost 100 rioters tried to attack the heart of the area early on Tuesday.

With few police around, elders at London’s largest Sikh temple in Havelock Road resorted to telephoning male worshippers for help.

One man in his 20s said: ‘They caught us off guard last night but we still managed to get people together to protect the area. We saw them putting on their balaclavas preparing to jump out of three cars but we charged at them and managed to chase them off.’

Turkish shopkeepers who stood guard outside their businesses and chased off looters on Monday night have been hailed as heroes.

When the gangs of youngsters arrived to wreak havoc in Dalston, East London, on Monday night, the men, armed with baseball bats, snooker cues and even chair legs, sent them packing

OK, but what happens when a smaller group of white working-class men do something similar and gather outside of a church in Eltham, London?

The police commanders have ordered a large mobilisation of officers to surround the men - as if they were the problem and not the rioters.

It's so striking - in the middle of a riot overwhelming police force is mobilised to contain law-abiding, unarmed, non-rioting white working-class men - in stark contrast to the treatment of Sikhs and Turks doing much the same thing.

The political class in the UK really does seem to have it in for white working-class men.

Finally, I should note as well that some of the political reaction to the riots has been very good. I'll try to cover this in my next post.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Why were police most alarmed about the peaceful English?

Looting in Croydon, London
What was striking about the recent riots in England? The police command kept a relatively low profile in tackling the rioters themselves, with police standing off at times whilst the looting was taking place. Even when private homes were being invaded in Notting Hill or when diners in restaurants were being robbed of their wedding rings, there were no alarmed statements from the police.

Nor did the police come out with public statements of alarm when some ethnic groups came out to defend their areas. If anything, the Sikhs and Turks were treated favourably in the media - there were even photos of Sikhs brandishing swords with positive media reports alongside.

But when a group of white Englishmen got together in Eltham, London, to peacfully defend their high street, the police command suddenly became alarmed and issued warnings that this turn of events was "enormous" and "worrying" and that it might add a "racial element" to the riots.

What's going on here? Why is it OK for Sikhs or Turks to stand together against the rioters but not white Englishmen? Why, in the middle of a riot, do police worry most about a gathering of anti-riot whites?

There was a useful discussion of this at View from the Right. A reader, Philip M, wrote:

The thing that will really stay with me about these riots is the way that the Turks and Bangladeshis were praised for standing up to the riots, yet the moment that English people tried to do the same thing they were dismissed as racist yobs and thugs. The only real unity of purpose and firmness that has been shown by the police, media, and establishment has been in condemning even the possibility of English people defending themselves. A senior police officer on NewsNight actually said: "If white middle class people [he obviously means English people] form a gang to attack these rioters they are no better than the other gangs" [meaning the gangs doing the rioting].

Philip M then goes on to give a good explanation for the police reaction:

The paralysis and uncertainty that was shown by the police and politicians in facing these gangs is largely because they were dominated and led by blacks. White liberals simply do not feel they have the moral legitimacy to challenge the rioters or the culture that they come from because they know the culture of the underclass is largely a black, gangster culture, and to critisise this culture would be racist. Any response to combat the violence by English people will therefore also be racist. This is why they were so relieved to see Turks and Bangladeshis defending themselves. These were people taking on the rioters that they could support without fear.

That's a similar point to one that I have made before about left-liberalism. There are left-liberals who explain inequality by claiming that "whiteness" is an artificial construct invented to uphold privilege over those categorised as "non-white". Therefore, whites are held to be uniquely guilty of racism and the racial oppression of others and any positive expression of whiteness is thought to be motivated by a desire to uphold "white supremacy".

If you are a white person who buys into this theory, then you lose moral standing - not so much within the white community - but relative to non-whites. You become a member of an oppressor class who carries moral guilt toward the non-white other. You will also become hypersensitive to accusations that you are acting in a "racist" way toward non-whites.

So Philip M's argument is well within the bounds of possibility. Lawrence Auster thinks so too; he made this comment in response to what Philip M wrote:

it's the same with U.S. conservatives who are always looking for salvation through a black conservative or a Hispanic conservative. These conservatives want nonwhites to take controversial positions on social issues that they, the conservatives, feel they lack the standing to take themselves. They are contemptible cowards, helplessly under the thumb of the liberalism they claim to oppose.

The key word here is cowardice. Not a physical cowardice but a certain kind of moral cowardice. It would be like a man who thinks aspects of feminism are wrong but who won't speak out against it himself because he thinks that as a man he has no place or standing to make such criticisms. Such a man is really, as Lawrence Auster puts it, still "under the thumb" of the feminism he holds himself to be an opponent of.

So what can we say about the English police commanders? They are either true believers in an anti-white ideology - in which case they are enemies of the majority of the population they are supposed to be protecting, or else they are moral cowards who can't or won't overcome the feeling that they have no moral standing when it comes to the "non-white other".

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The England riots

 Riots which began in the London suburb of Tottenham have now spread more widely throughout England. I was curious to learn more about Tottenham and had a look at the wikipedia entry. It seems to be a very diverse place:

Tottenham has a multicultural population, with many ethnic groups inhabiting the area. It contains one of the largest and most significant populations of African-Caribbean people. These were among the earliest immigrant groups to settle in the area, starting the UK's Windrush era. Soon after West African communities - notably the many Ghanaians - begun to migrate into the area. Between 1980 and the present day there has been a slow immigration of Colombians, Congolese, Albanian, Kurdish, Turkish-Cypriot, Turkish, Somalis, Irish, and Portuguese populations. South Tottenham is reported to be the most ethnically-diverse area in Europe, with up to 300 languages being spoken by its residents.

There is a crime problem:

Tottenham has been one of the main hotspots for gangs and gun crime in the United Kingdom during the past three decades. This followed the rise of gangs and drug wars throughout the area, notably those involving the Tottenham Mandem gang and various gangs from Hackney and all of the areas surrounding Tottenham, and the emergence of an organised crime ring known as the Turkish Mafia was said to have controlled more than 90% of the UK's heroin market.

Not a place I'd choose to raise a family in.

The riots have spread outside of London to places like Manchester. Which is curious given the story on the Manchester riot police from just a couple of months ago. A 51-year-old female officer was awarded £31,000 after failing to complete a shield run training exercise on time. It was claimed that she suffered "indirect discrimination" because as an older woman she wasn't able to keep to the established standards. She later passed the test when it was made easier for her.

I thought when I first read the story that it was a sign of the times in Britain that the riot squad was being organised to be non-discriminatory against older unfit women rather than to fulfil its proper purpose of keeping the streets in order. If it were me in charge, I'd be hiring young, physically intimidating males for the job. What if an event occurred in which it was important that every trained officer was able to fulfil the job to the highest level ... such as the riots that have been taking place for the past three nights.

What will British politicians do about the situation? Probably they'll try to buy off the "disaffected youth". But it won't work. There will be more trouble in the years to come.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Professor Smith on national identity

Anthony D. Smith is Professor Emeritus of Nationalism and Ethnicity at the London School of Economics. This is his account of national identity:

National identity ... is felt by many people to satisfy their needs for cultural fulfilment, rootedness, security and fraternity ... Nations are linked by the chains of memory, myth and symbol to that widespread and enduring type of community, the ethnie, and this is what gives them their unique character and their profound hold over the feelings and imaginations of so many people.

(quoted in Kok-Chor Tan, Toleration, Diversity and Global Justice, kindle location 1276)

It may not be the perfect description from a traditionalist point of view, but it's a lot better than the usual dismissive liberal attitude that people are motivated to feel national identity by fear, or discrimination, or exclusiveness, or hatred, or ignorance, or bigotry or prejudice etc etc.

Note too that Professor Smith recognises that the uniqueness, depth and stability of a national character derives from its link to an ethny rather than from open borders or multiculturalism.

People mourn the polar bear?

A group of young Britons travelled to a remote part of Norway. There were polar bears in the area, so they set up trip wires to scare them off before retiring to bed in their tents. But the wires failed and a bear attacked them, killing one young man and injuring others. During the struggle for life, one of the British men was able to shoot the polar bear.

What is the reaction of Daily Mail readers? Many of them are mourning the polar bear and simply ignoring the death of a young man:

Daniel: Sadly today we are one more polar bear less due to human infringement.

JD: How dare they kill that beautiful animal! They were in the bear's habitat so must take the consequences.

Lucy: How dare they kill the Polar Bear..... This infuriates me!!!!

Bright & Sparking: Yet another example or the most disgusting animal on this planet.. the human being..

Paula: Poor Polar bear....RIP...

Tom: Poor polar bear

Sadie: As usual - a wild animal is killed for displaying its natural behaviour. What an ignorant and selfish species the human race is.

I enjoy nature a great deal. I chose to live in an outer suburb where we've been visited by koalas, echidnas, blue tongues, parrots of all kinds - we've even had kangaroos hopping down our street.

But I can't help but think something is wrong here. Why would your first reaction not be regret for the loss of life of a promising young man? Why put polar bears above humans?

If any of my readers disagree I'd be happy to consider their arguments. But it seems to me that this reaction of mourning the bear and not the human reveals not so much a love of nature but a diminished attitude toward mankind.

Modern forms of humanism seem to lead not to a warm and appreciative account of what humans are, but to a negative and hostile one.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Struggling in a wilderness

Who is the Plankton? She is a woman pushing 50 who decided to divorce her husband a few years ago. She has written a blog detailing her unhappiness in being unable to find another man.

The Daily Mail has an article about her, but her blog itself is even more interesting.

The first thing to note is that she really does want to be with a man. She isn't pretending otherwise:

Show me a (straight) woman of my age who is alone and who says she doesn’t want a man.

Show me a liar.

She isn't coping well at all with her life as it is:

As a divorced woman the wrong side of 45 with a brace of kids, I am a plankton on the food chain of sexuality and the prospect of a relationship.

Women die long before they actually die ...  I may live till I am ninety, but a sort of death has already come. I am already in a wilderness ... A woman’s trajectory; a barrel of laughs.

So why hasn't she found someone? She believes, rightly or wrongly, that the most eligible men are chasing after younger women:

A man can pick from a wider pool of women: his age and under, by several decades.  I have a friend who is late thirties and lives with and has children by a man in his mid sixties.  She is one of the youngest girlfriends he has had but by no means the only one of her age.  He is paunchy and has grey chest hair and is not especially rich ... They argue a lot and she is not particularly happy yet is counting herself lucky.  He plucked her out of a richesse of willing women.  All circling him like vultures, they were, before my friend “got” him.

That might be exaggerated, but you can see where she is coming from. When she married she was young enough to still have the experience of sexual power that younger women have. After her divorce, she was suddenly thrust into a different world, one in which it was the men of her age who had the better options. It seems as if she is finding it difficult to adjust to the change.

So is it all doom and gloom for women? It doesn't have to be. The traditional idea was that women would encourage the qualities in men that would make them good husbands (the family man ideal) and would give up some of the sexual power they wielded in their 20s (by committing to one man rather than pursuing casual relationships with many) and in return men would give up some of the sexual power they wielded later in life (by remaining loyal to their wives).

The "Plankton" unfortunately seems to have pursued the more modern understanding of relationships. In her 20s, at that critical time for women, she went for (you guessed it) the bad boys. In discussing what she is now looking for in a man she writes:

Kind is obvious, and absolutely the opposite of what I sought when I was young, to my cost. Then, good-looking and cool was more important.  Now, cool is what I actively do not want. I did cool men in my twenties and cool was invariably synonymous with cruel.

This is really a way of saying that she was selecting men on the basis of sexual attraction alone, rather than considering as well what kind of husband a man might make. Her orientation to sexual attraction alone is reflected too in her promiscuity at this time:

Of course, my young self consoled myself with the thought that quantity not quality validated me as an attractive sexual being, though my older self knows better – or at least thinks she does. Quantity, then, was important. Now, not so much.

Quantity, she admits, was important. Particularly with cool/cruel men.

It's not a very good way for women to secure a long-term future with a man in marriage. It distorts the culture of relationships between men and women - puts it on the wrong foundation.

The message of all this, I think, is that there are women too who have much to lose from the sexual revolution. Is the "liberation" of pursuing cruel/bad boys in your 20s really worth decades of unhappiness later on? According to the "Plankton" she was not even made happy in her 20s by her promiscuity:

It didn’t make me happy then, in my twenties ...  for the most part these notches constituted no more than notches or, at best, meaningless and at worst, malign names on a green bit of paper.

Better for women to be oriented to the creation of happy and stable marriages - and for this to inform what women select for when they are at the peak of "the food chain of sexuality".

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

How do leftist women justify the feminine?

A woman sits down and does some cross stitching. She is approached by another woman who glowers at her and asks if she's never heard of women's lib. Which then leads to an interesting discussion at a feminist website.

What's going on here? Why would a woman doing something traditionally feminine be so controversial?

It goes something like this, I think. The underlying principle of liberalism is that we are made human by our autonomous choices. This means that our life choices must be self-determined rather than predetermined. But our sex is something we don't get to choose - it is predetermined. Therefore, it must be made not to matter.

That explains in a general way why something as seemingly harmless as a woman cross stitching should raise the ire of a liberal true believer.

But there's one more level to the argument. Liberals have to answer some questions. The first is how sex distinctions came to exist in the first place if they are an affront to our humanity. The answer generally given is that such distinctions have no basis in nature, i.e. that there is no real essence to what is masculine or feminine. Instead, they are socially constructed.

The second question for liberals to answer is why sex distinctions would be socially constructed. The response of left-liberals is that men created the "gender binary" in order to gain an unearned privilege for themselves at the expense of women. Women were left with less opportunity to lead autonomous, self-defining lives. Therefore they were the "second sex" who were literally denied "human equality" - they played a less human role than men. Femininity, in this view of things, delivered women as inferior beings into the clutches of men.

So if you were a liberal woman, particularly a left-liberal one, the logical response seems obvious. You would reject femininity as oppressive and live your life in the manner of "privileged" men.

But .....

It seems that the feminine runs more deeply in women's nature than the theory predicted. Even the more political left-liberal women usually seek to express it in some way. So how do these women justify such expressions of the feminine?

One way is to claim that they are being "ironic" in what they are doing. Being masculine or feminine is OK, they think, as long as you somehow indicate that you're not entirely serious. If you show that you are only being feminine as a way of sending up femininity, then that's acceptable.

Another strategy is to claim to be mixing and matching, e.g. that you are wearing lipstick and high heels while drinking beer and putting up a shed in the backyard, or riding a Harley-Davidson whilst wearing lace.

It's also possible for a liberal woman to claim that all that matters is self-determining choice, so that a woman should be able to choose to be either masculine or feminine:

In my eyes, feminism isn't about forcing femininity or masculinity on anyone but rather making it more acceptable for women to be any way they want to be.

Then there's the argument that masculinity and femininity are OK as long as they are detached from biological sex, i.e. that masculinity and femininity should be randomly selected by men and women rather than femininity being connected to women and masculinity to men:

Gender expectation is when we, as a society, expect nail polish and skirts on women, and trousers and ties on men. Wouldn't it be something to live in a world where they weren't gendered, though? Where men could paint their nails without getting funny looks?
Now, should that come to fruition, where anyone could be wearing a pretty apron and baking cookies, and anyone else could be in coveralls and repairing a car, it may be that we stop viewing those things as "feminine" and "masculine," and that's certainly fine, but it's not a requirement. Feminine and masculine don't have to mean the same thing as male and female. It's about separating gender presentation from inherent gender.

These attempts to fit the feminine into liberalism, as compromised as they are, attract the ire of the more radical moderns. In a post titled "only sub-human" one radical feminist attempts to restore orthodoxy as follows:

Femininity is not a natural expression of femaleness. It is not an hereditary, hormone-based fascination for fashion, submissiveness, mani-peddies, baby-soft skin, or catfighting. It is not a fun-loving lifestyle choice. Femininity is a rigid system of behaviors imposed on us by the Global Accords Governing the Fair Use of Women as a means to control, subjugate, and marginalize us, entirely at our expense, for the benefit of the male-controlled megatheocorporatocracy.

This idea often chaps the hide of novice blamers. This is because they don’t fully appreciate the hideous essence of femininity. Some of them believe that the practice of femininity is but one facet of an exciting smorgasbord of lifestyle choices available to today’s busy autonomous gal-on-the-go. They feel that “choosing” feminine conduct is an act of feminist rebellion, on the grounds that the choicing is entirely the chooser’s own personal idea. They aver that femininity can be an expression of a woman’s personal personality, and that it is “fun.” It is irrelevant, apparently, that femininity just happens to align precisely with the pornified desires, yucky fetishes, and vulgar business interests of the entire dudely culture of domination. Sadly, the novice blamer omits to consider this greater whole, and that in “choosing” femininity she is merely making conspicuous her compliance with dudely authori-tay.

Our hardcore feminist writer goes on to complain that "the truth about femininity is so repellent, so foul, so depraved, that we don’t want to know it" and even that one of the consequences of femininity is that women get "no invitation ... to life’s rich pageant."

Whichever way liberal women go, the outcome is sad. The feminine is utterly condemned, or treated ironically, or regarded as one choice of no more significance than another, or disconnected from women as a sex.

And a woman cross stitching becomes a controversial act.