Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Christian defence of nationalism

Ruskin at Occidental Traditionalist has posted an interesting Christian defence of nationalism. He writes:
Before birth God assigns to every man the species, sex, family, and nation to which s/he will be given. These assigned identities can never be truly revoked. In this case we are dealing specifically with the nation and to a lesser extent; the family. Since God has pre-selected for us our nation it is our responsibility to love what God has chosen. To express our appreciation, beyond prayer, would be to love one's nation, the people who built it, the land which sustains it, and the culture which had sprung forth from it.

Reading that is going to give a liberal a headache, as the emphasis here is not on self-chosen identity but on appreciating an identity we are assigned by God - an identity that is so part of us that it cannot be wholly abandoned.

Ruskin argues, tellingly I believe, that we express our appreciation for what God has chosen by acting on our responsibility to love our nation, our forebears, and the land and culture to which we are connected.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

One journalist sees the bigger picture

Marine Le Pen, the nationalist candidate in the recent French elections, came in third with 18% of the vote. An English journalist, Richard Waghorne, thought her policies flawed but nonetheless supported her as the only candidate representing a self-governing French nation.

Richard Waghorne has taken the lead in adopting this stance - it is a break from the usual practice in which mainstream journalists toe the two party line. Waghorne summarised his position this way:
Marine Le Pen remains, among an imperfect choice in urgent times, the only candidate capable of saving France’s control over her finances, borders, and identity. She is the only candidate available to conservative voters advancing the case for an exit from the Euro, the one measure which if executed carefully might yet save France from being swamped by foreign debts amassed elsewhere in a European project largely of its own making.

Waghorne isn't taken in by Sarkozy:
Nicholas Sarkozy has campaigned on the theme of a ‘Strong France’. His speeches consciously allude to the Fifth Republic’s founder General de Gaulle, praising an ‘Eternal France’ Sarkozy himself has never been in danger of embodying. Rather, he is the latest architect of the decline of French democracy to something bordering on irrelevance.

The most urgent, the most assiduously avoided challenge facing France is the erosion of its self-government. Sarkozy’s European policy has abetted the long-desired European federalism of the French political class.
Even though one article doesn't change a lot, it does at least set a precedent - so well done Richard Waghorne.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Don't play the waiting game

Bettina Arndt has written a column for the Sydney Morning Herald which brings into the mainstream media an argument I've made at this site for some time.

Her column looks at the problems that arise when women are encouraged to leave family formation until their 30s:
Many [professional women] thought they could put off marriage and families until their 30s, having devoted their 20s to education, establishing careers and playing the field. But was their decade of dating a strategic mistake?

Jamie, a 30-year-old Sydney barrister, thinks so: "Women labour under the impression they can have it all. They can have the career, this carefree lifestyle and then, at the snap of their fingers, because they are so fabulous, find a man. But if they wait until their 30s they're competing with women who are much younger and in various ways more attractive."

What's particularly interesting is that Bettina Arndt backs this up with some demographic information.

  • one in three Australian women aged 30-34 don't have partners; even by the late 30s the figure is still very high at 25%.
  • in 2006 there were only 68,000 unattached graduate men in their 30s for 88,000 single graduate women in the same age group.

And this is the paragraph that really stood out for me:
Although there are similar numbers of single men and women in their 30s overall - about 370,000 of each across Australia - half these available men had only high school education, 57 per cent earned $42,000 or less and 95,000 of them were unemployed.

There are similar numbers of single men and women in their 30s but 57% of men are on a low income of $42,000 (US$43,600) or less. To put this another way, there are 370,000 single ladies and 160,000 men earning more than $42,000.

There are two points to make here:

i) It's possible that part of the explanation for the statistics is that a large percentage of men on a high income are already married in their 20s.

ii) One consequence of preferences given to women in education and employment is that many women will not be able to find a husband on a high income.

Feminists don't mind so much about the second issue. They think it's a good thing as they hope it will force a change in relationship patterns so that the woman will go out to work whilst the husband stays home. But that won't be for everyone - note that 25% of women are still single in their late 30s.

And that's not just because of male preferences. Some of those 30-something professional women are determined to partner with professional men. The owner of one dating organisation,
finds many of his female members are determined to meet only men who are tall, attractive, wealthy and well educated. They want the alpha males. ''Most of the professional women rarely give out 'yes' votes to men who aren't similarly successful,'' reports Parfitt, who struggles to attract enough of these successful men to his speed-dating events. Sixty per cent of his members are female. Most are over 30.

The dating imbalance leads to complaints like this one from a 30-something lawyer:
She is stunned by how hard it is to meet suitable men willing to commit. ''I'm horrified by the number of gorgeous, independent and successful women my age who can't meet a decent man.''

Penny acknowledges part of the problem is her own expectations - that her generation of women was brought up wanting too much. ''We were told we were special, we could do anything and the world was our oyster.'' And having spent her 20s dating alpha males, she expected them to be still around when she finally decided to get serious.

But these men go fast, many fishing outside their pond. The most attractive, successful men can take their pick from women their own age or from the Naomis, the younger women who are happy to settle early. Almost one in three degree-educated 35-year-old men marries or lives with women aged 30 or under.

I don't write this in order to demoralise those women in their 30s looking for a husband, nor to suggest that every such woman is single in her 30s by choice.

The point is that it's not wise for women to play the waiting game - to see your 20s as a waiting room where you run down time until you finally spring into action in your 30s ready to find a husband.

Look at the numbers. For a lot of women that plan is not going to work out too well. It's better for women to take things seriously in their 20s.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Girls Inc. turning girls into boys since 1974

Laura Wood has a post up about Michelle Obama addressing a meeting of Girls Inc. Her post is titled "First Lady Tells Girls To Be Anything But Girls".

I had a look at the aims of Girls Inc. and it turns out that Laura Wood's title was well chosen. When you read through the aims of Girls Inc. you get a sense that they want to turn girls into a hypercharged kind of boy.

There is nothing that they say about girls which is distinctively feminine - they seem if anything to reject femininity as something negative:

Growing up in a male-dominated culture, many girls face enormous pressure to judge their self-worth based on narrow standards of physical attractiveness; to put others ahead of themselves; and to conform to damaging notions of femininity that promote passivity and self-sacrifice while discouraging autonomy and pursuit of their dreams.

That's an interesting message to push on girls. Femininity will damage you, it will get in the way of your dreams. You must be autonomous of men and not make sacrifices for others - that's the gist of the message.

Nor is there an alternative femininity set out in the Girls Inc. project. The idea is for girls to play sports and to be careerists. They are to be competitive, interested in science, maths and technology, assertive, bold, self-reliant, loud, adventurous, powerful, athletic, confident, independent and self-sufficient.

So how is that different then to being a boy? Could you not take each of the adjectives listed above and describe a boy in the same way?

It's as if girls are being told that being a boy is better, so they had better set out to become one.

Climate scientist admits he was alarmist

This was easy to predict. A leading climate scientist, James Lovelock, has admitted that he was overly alarmist in his doomsday predictions of global warming:
Five years ago, he had claimed: 'Before this century is over billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic where the climate remains tolerable.'

But in an interview with he admitted: 'I made a mistake.'

'The problem is we don’t know what the climate is doing,' he said. 'We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books – mine included – because it looked clear cut, but it hasn’t happened.

'The climate is doing its usual tricks. There’s nothing much really happening yet. We were supposed to be halfway toward a frying world.

'[The temperature] has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising - carbon dioxide is rising, no question about that.'

What's annoying is that those who were sceptical about such claims were treated like lepers. The science was in, they were told. There was a scientific consensus. Only the ignorant or those with a vested interest could possibly have doubts, it was said.

And now we have an admission that the science is fallible. What was predicted to happen isn't happening.

That doesn't mean that the goal of developing clean sources of energy is a bad one. But it shows that we need calm, clear and courageous minds to stand up to unreasonable claims, even if those claims are made under the mantle of science.

Think of what was being suggested in reaction to the alarmist claims made by Lovelock and others. A Melbourne academic, Dr John Reid, believed that something should be put into the water to make people infertile. He also suggested that society would need to withdraw health care for the middle-aged and elderly.

English environmentalist George Monbiot called for "global revolutionary change" including the establishment of a "New World Order" led by a world parliament.

Another Australian academic, Associate Professor Barry Walters, called women who had children polluters of the planet and wanted to hit them with a levy and an annual carbon tax.

The U.N. meanwhile called on Australia to pay $7 billion a year as a carbon debt.

The alarmism became a cover to try to railroad through some radical policy objectives. It created an unhealthy political climate - the sceptics were right to challenge outlandish claims and to insist that the science be properly debated and assessed.

Anzac Day not feminine enough?

I attended an Anzac Day ceremony (the day Australians commemorate those who served in the armed forces) and thought it was very well done.

But I was floored afterwards when I asked two female friends what they had thought of the service. One gave the reply that she worried that it glorified war. This attitude surprised me as the mood of Anzac Day has never struck me as militaristic. People are encouraged to be quietly reflective and to remember the human loss of the wars that were fought.

The other response, from a lovely young woman who is not at all political, was that Anzac Day is not feminine enough. I pressed her to explain what she meant and it seems that her complaint is that it is too focused on men and not women.

That's a sign of how a liberal mentality has penetrated her mind. In a society that was focused on holding together, men and women would recognise a common cause. The women of that society would think of "our men" and the men would think of the women as "our women". They would not be two groups set radically apart.

Liberal society is not focused on holding together. Its view of life is based on the idea of a self which is defined by its wants and preferences. This leads inevitably to a focus on who is advantaged or disadvantaged in pressing forward such wants and preferences. The natural solidarity is broken and replaced by a fracturing along group lines.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Is it really just a case of being you?

The modern world tells us that everything is fungible, nothing is of real value, everything can and should be replaced—our spouse, our culture, our religion, our history, our sexual nature, our race, everything. It is the view of atomistic liberal man, forever creating himself out of his preferences, not dependent on any larger world of which he is a part.
Lawrence Auster

I've been reading the Times of India a bit lately, in fascination and dismay at how quickly India is picking up the modernist disease.

The paper even has a "new age" section which recently featured a short article titled "Be what you want to be". I found it interesting as it was a summary of ideas that are commonly held in the West.

According to the article, what matters in life is a freedom and power to be ourselves:
True freedom means the power to be really you. Every one of us is unique, with our own basic personality, wants, desires, likes and dislikes. The sum total of all these makes us what we are. However, few of us are lucky enough to be in control of internal and external circumstances to be able to express our true selves. So we could end up being what we’re not.

The core idea here is that we are the sum of our preferences. We are a bundle of wants and likes, so that what matters is the freedom to "express our true self" by following our desires.

The worst thing then is to be impeded by some external force in following our uniquely desiring "true" self:
Family and society, friends and colleagues create circumstances – albeit perhaps with good intentions -- that condition us, often forcing us to do or become what we are not. Invariably, it suits many of us too, to be what others want us to be, rather than to be ourselves.

Sounds nice, but remember what "being ourselves" is thought to mean. Our self is understood to be the "sum total" of our preferences, so being our authentic self means nothing more than following through with our self-generated desires rather than external ones that "force" us to be something else. Humans are being defined here by wants, likes and desires.

Once you accept this definition, other consequences follow. For instance, who knows better what we want than ourselves? It therefore will seem logical that the individual should be made as autonomous as possible, as there is no point for the individual to accept direction from any other source. What other source can tell me what my unique wants or desires are?

Note as well that if we follow this idea that our "self" is a unique combination of likes and desires that if we do something we dislike we are thought to lose our very self. There's not a very strong basis for the concept of duty here, of acting for the right or the common good rather than acting to fulfil a personal desire.

What happens if we are blocked in following our own wants? According to the article we become stressed and this leads to disease. The suggested cure is this:
So let’s give ourselves absolute or total freedom, to think, to speak and to do what we really want to.

Total freedom to do what we really want to? What if we want to spend our children's inheritance in a bar? The article cautions us as follows:
This does not mean becoming selfish or license to cause injury to others. On the contrary, a person who values his freedom will immediately realise the value of others’ freedom. Absolute freedom means freedom for all. It means giving up controlling ourselves and controlling others.

That sounds like Millsian liberalism. I don't see that it's necessarily true. If my purpose in life is to make sure that my desires are unimpeded, then what is to stop me taking the attitude that the fulfilment of my own desires should come before those of others? And even if I do choose to value the freedom of others to pursue their own desires that does not make me unselfish. I'm still just doing my own thing for myself, I'm not acting for others.

Nor is it the case that this formula, in which we are each supposed to act for ourselves but respect the rights of others to do the same, leads in practice to a happy mindset of mutual freedom. In the West, what it has led to is the breaking apart of the natural solidarity of a traditional society. If what matters is the power to define and follow our desires, then there will be a sharp focus on which group is thought to hold a controlling influence, thereby holding back all the rest from a genuinely human status. Western society has been riven by a focus on hierarchies of dominance, privilege and oppression.

And what about the idea, expressed in the quote above, that we should give up controlling ourselves? That makes sense if life is simply a matter of following our individual desires. If that is true, then we can simply move from one desire to another - control will be thought of as a block. The problem, though, is that we all learn soon enough that if we pursue our wants in an uncontrolled way that we end up harming ourselves. And we are more likely to live a lesser, rather than a greater, life.

As I suggested earlier, it seems to me that this "free to be me" view of life is a common assumption of modernist liberalism. It has the advantage of being a clear and simple way to view things; all we have to accept is that we are unique in our desires and preferences and that life therefore becomes a matter of individual preference satisfaction and "tolerance," "respect" and "non-discrimination" when it comes to the preference satisfaction of others.

(Here's something else about this system of thought. If you were not to respect a preference or want of someone else it would mean that you were not just rejecting the preference or want but their very personhood, as they are defined as a person by their wants.)

Why should we reject the "free to be me" ideas as set out in the Times of India article? First, it doesn't even work on its own terms. Many of our deepest wants require a social setting. If, for instance, I deeply want to marry a feminine and family-oriented woman, then I need a society in which such women exist in numbers. If I want to live in a community which respects moral virtue, then I need a society in which individuals maintain such standards. If I like my own ethnic tradition and want to see it continue, then I need for that aim to exist at something larger than an individual level.

How can I maintain such conditions of society if the understanding of what it means to be human is so radically individualistic? The "free to be me" philosophy emphasises that my wants are unique and that I fulfil them simply by not controlling myself or others. So how then am I supposed to uphold the social conditions that are necessary for the fulfilment of my deepest wants and preferences? What is likely over time is that my wants will become increasingly trivial; they will be limited to what is possible within the system.

The second reason for rejecting the "free to be me" philosophy is that it is a false statement of what it means to be human. We are not just a bundle of random preferences. We are creatures with a definite nature to be fulfilled and able to recognise a common good and a moral right existing over and above our fleeting desires.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thumbs up for Marine?

I haven't followed the French election closely, but Tiberge at Gallia Watch has been impressed with the performance of the nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen:
She has run an impeccable campaign, wisely designed to appeal to the best in human nature - the love of country, the longing for freedom from fear, the need to feel at home in one's own land, to raise children in safety and prosperity, to speak one's mind freely, the aggressiveness to fight forces both alien and domestic that seek the destruction of the country. She has, we hope, reawakened the self-preservation instinct and squashed the suicidal way-of-least-resistance that the French have been taking for too long.

It seems unlikely that Marine will make it to the run-offs, but she has polled a respectable 15% of the vote. Interestingly, she is more popular with younger than with older voters:
Farmers: 21%
Salaried workers, private sector: 24%
Salaried workers, public sector: 22%
Young people from 18 to 23: 23%
Retired people: 13%

Should childhood really be gender neutral?

I hadn't realised but there is also a feminist campaign in the U.S. against distinct toys for boys and girls (at the moment they are targeting LEGO). At the Fox news site they did a survey in response to this campaign to gauge public opinion. Here are the results:

As you can see, the response is overwhelmingly on our side. 94% think it's OK to have toys that foster a distinct sex identity. Only 3% are against, with the rest in the undecided/other category. Nor are the numbers small: almost 30,000 cast a vote. Admittedly the numbers might be a bit different at a more lefty news site, but even so you can see that the campaign to make childhood gender neutral isn't a popular movement - it's being carried out by activists without public support.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What the modern world tells us

A comment by Lawrence Auster on a Bob Dylan song, I shall be released:
This Dylan song can seem amorphous and mystical in the negative sense, especially as it became a kind of countercultural anthem and meaningless through overuse. But the lyrics are coherent and profound, especially the first verse:

They say everything can be replaced
They say every distance is not near
But I remember every face
Of every man who put me here.

The modern world tells us that everything is fungible, nothing is of real value, everything can and should be replaced—our spouse, our culture, our religion, our history, our sexual nature, our race, everything. It is the view of atomistic liberal man, forever creating himself out of his preferences, not dependent on any larger world of which he is a part. The singer is saying, No, this isn’t true. Things have real and particular values and they cannot be cast off and replaced by other things. And, though we seem to be distant, we are connected. I am connected to all the men, the creators and builders and poets and philosophers, and my own relatives and friends, who have come before me or influenced me, who created the world in which I live.

Was Zimmerman's photo doctored to better fit the script?

I clicked on a Daily Mail story about George Zimmerman and was surprised to see just how Hispanic he looks:

My immediate suspicion was that the early photos of Zimmernan may have been photoshopped to make him seem whiter. It fits the liberal script better if Zimmerman, who is facing trial for shooting a young black man, Trayvon Martin, can be portrayed as a "white racist" (if you are unaware of the background to this story see here).

I don't know if I'm right in suspecting the media, but look at the set of images below. It shows the images of Zimmerman used by major media outlets after the story broke. It does seem as if both the ABC (American Broadcasting Company) and CBS have altered the original photo - the last two photos in particular seem suspect.

We're going down the Swedish path

It seems as if Australia is going to follow Sweden in insisting on "gender neutral" childhoods. In the Herald Sun this morning we learn that Australian toy catalogues are copying the Swedish example in making children's play androgynous:
TOY catalogues are increasingly gender neutral, reversing years of tradition between boys' and girls' playthings.

Toy catalogues feature boys playing with pink doll houses while girls play with trucks and robots.

Child rearing experts have applauded the move, which they say is a more realistic representation of how preschoolers play.

Sweden is leading the way to gender neutral. Swedish company Leklust recently featured a child dressed as Spiderman pushing a pink doll's pram.

I posted on the Swedish spiderman story earlier this month. Kaj Wiberg, the CEO of the company which produced the toy catologue, justified having a boy dressed as Spiderman pushing a pram on the grounds that "Gender roles are an outdated thing".

And how is the same thing being justified in Australia? One academic has this to say:
Paul Harrison, lecturer in consumer behaviour at Deakin University, said young children had no concept of gender.

"But for adults, from the moment a child is conceived, we start defining them by whether they are male or female," he said.

That's the liberal view: we are born as blank slates and the primary aim is to then self-define who we are rather than being predefined or other-defined.

I don't know if Paul Harrison has children or not, but it hasn't been my experience that young children have no concept of gender. Both my son and my daughter showed obvious signs of masculine and feminine behaviour by about the age of 6 months, i.e. early enough for it to be difficult to be produced by socialisation alone.

The gender neutral toy catalogue was also defended by a child psychologist on these grounds:
Child psychologist Sally-Anne McCormack said all toys were gender neutral and it was society that linked them with a gender role.

"Rather than telling little girls and little boys what they can play with, parents should let them decide," she said.

"This is not about being politically correct. It's about letting children experiment ... our role as parents is to facilitate our children becoming the people they want to be by letting them explore as much as possible."

Here again we have the typically liberal idea that sex distinctions are created by society alone - that they are socially constructed. And the psychologist also pushes the liberal idea that it is individual preference or desire that creates who we are, rather than any higher standards external to us.

Is it good advice to simply let your child choose to be whatever? Mostly not. It's true that you have to take your child's personality, talents and interests into account in your efforts to socialise them to become successful adults.

But boys need to be masculine. That's even more true in today's society when there are so many reasons for men to become demoralised. A man who doesn't have a strong masculine core is likely to give up in some way - perhaps he won't attempt to compete for women, or won't embark on the rigors of career.

That's one reason why the average parent does still encourage distinct forms of play when it comes to their young children. They don't want to raise up insipid sons - and why would they?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

When motherhood is reduced to economics

Jessica Irvine believes she has a solution to the mummy wars - the debate about women staying at home with their children or going out to work.

Writing in the Melbourne Age newspaper, she asserts that it once made sense for men to go to work, whilst women stayed home with the children, since men in the past had higher incomes - it was an economically rational decision.

But women are now getting 64% of degrees and are delaying marriage and motherhood until they are set in their careers. So couples should now make the decision about who looks after the children on purely economic grounds:
Something happens to women and their salaries when they enter their 30s, and that something is children.

Couples today need to make more active decisions about who will take time out of the paid workforce to look after children. Couples must consider which partner has the higher earning capacity and whose career progression and future earnings capacity will be most negatively affected by taking time out.

There's a positive and negative side to this argument so far. The negative side is that Jessica Irvine believes that men and women are so interchangeable, and that motherhood is so disconnected from womanhood, that the decision about who looks after baby can be decided solely on economic rationalist grounds.

I don't deny that there are families in which the wife's income is so much greater that the decision is more likely to be for the husband to stay home.

But we're stripping down human relationships if we think of men and women as Economic Man - as abstracted,  rational economic agents. And if we really think of humans this way, then it's difficult to see how a stable family life will endure anyway. Is it really in my interests as Economic Man to make such sacrifices on behalf of my family? Isn't it more the case that if I identify myself with my masculine being, and the higher expression of this being is to act protectively as a husband and father, that I will then commit myself to the service of my family?

However, at least Jessica Irvine's argument so far seems less hostile to the traditional family. It makes it sound as if she's happy, if the husband earns more, for the woman to stay home.

But unfortunately she is not so neutral. Her expectation is that increasingly fewer women are going to choose to stay home and that the government should set its tax and childcare policies to make sure that this is the case:
Because the market value of women's time has risen so dramatically, it is more likely that couples will decide to deploy the male partner to domestic duties, and keep the woman's salary.

The economics of the family are evolving, and where gender policies and quotas fail to deliver, the profit motive will out.

It will take time. It requires that governments keep working to remove tax traps that keep women at home because they would lose more in welfare benefits and tax than they would earn.

The onward march of progress, she thinks, combined with government tweaking of the tax system, will get feminists there in the end - to a situation in which our sex has been made not to matter, so that parenting decisions are made on "neutral" economic grounds, but in which the government acts to ensure that the economic grounds push toward a certain outcome.

It's possible that society will turn out that way. But there are reasons to think it won't as well. Out in the suburbs, the traditional family is still stubbornly holding sway. And elsewhere it's not so much the modern family taking over, but rather a weakening of family commitments.

Another chart - this time on degrees

We're supposed to believe that women are an oppressed class in society. But look at the following graph (U.S. data):

It is projected that by 2019 the situation will be exactly the reverse of 1966 - that 61% of degrees will go to women and not men.

I wonder what middle-class parents think of this graph. It's going to be harder for their sons and daughters to form families in such a situation.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Interesting chart on marital happiness

Here's an interesting chart showing the percentage of adults in the U.S. reporting that their marrige is very happy (hat tip Dalrock):

As you can see the percentage of very happy marriages declined from the early 1970s to the mid 1980s and there has been no recovery since then.

So despite things being made easier for women to divorce their husbands, women are no more happier in their marriages - they are on average less so.

Nor do the statistics support the idea that women were made unhappy by the traditional family and had to be "liberated" from it. There were more very happy marriages back in 1973 than there are today.

Monday, April 16, 2012

So much for equal pay - Australian company to pay women double

An Australian insurance company has decided to pay women double the money paid to its male employees in the first six weeks after they return from paid maternity leave.

That is a flagrant breach of the equal pay principles that have been pushed in the media for several decades:
NEW mums will be paid double for their first six weeks back at work under a major insurer's 20-week maternity leave scheme.

Insurance Australia Group, which owns CGU and NRMA Insurance, is offering the generous scheme to its 10,000 employees from today.

IAG is offering mothers 14 weeks' standard paid leave, plus six weeks at double pay when they return to work.

Combined with the Federal Government's 18 weeks' paid parental leave, women working at the insurance companies will get almost a year's wages while off work caring for children.

Could that be any clearer? If a woman has two children over a four year period she will end up being paid nearly four years' wages for two years' work; her male peers will work almost twice as many hours for the same income.

Will the unions stand up to protect equal pay for men? Not on your life:
The ACTU has welcomed the announcement, saying it should put pressure on other big banks and insurers to review their paid parental schemes.

"I think companies are not going to have any choice,'' ACTU president Ged Kearney told ABC Radio on Monday.

"We really need women to participate in our work place. It is important for the economy."

What about the media? Will it protest on behalf of male workers? Not likely. The Herald Sun ran this editorial:

The Insurance Australia Group workers will be paid double their wages in the first six weeks of their return to work...The move should be roundly applauded by the community...IAG has now thrown down the gauntlet to Australia's leading corporations to follow it down the path of progressive and sensible workplace relations.

The Herald Sun editor wants the double pay to become standard practice as a "progressive and sensible" measure.

Why? It's likely that several things are at play here. First, liberals don't think much of the motherhood role. They believe that power and autonomy come through careers and that it's therefore better for women to get back quickly into the workforce after having children. As part of this, equality is measured in terms of female workforce participation rates and lifetime earnings. And this tendency to look upon women in economic terms suits the interests of business just fine - it opens up a labour resource.

Traditionalists don't measure the good in terms of individual power and autonomy. We therefore place a higher value on the non-economic role of women as mothers within a family and we are more protective of the masculine provider/protector role that is exercised by fathers.

Paying women extra money is another step in undermining a masculine provider role. And whatever makes the male role within the family less necessary is likely to increase the instability of family life.

We ought to oppose what the IAG is doing; as a starting point, if I had a policy with either CGU or NRMA I would not be renewing it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The limits of Republican conservatism

I found a Republican website on one of my internet searches called Bearing Drift.

I want to briefly look at one of the articles from the website, because it gives a good idea of the limitations of mainstream conservatism.

The article is by J.R. Hoeft, who has served on the Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia. The message he wants to impart is that Republicans need to temper their enthusiasm for cutting back the role of the state.

He begins by appealing to Burke and Kirk:
Sir Edmund Burke is often cited as the founder of modern conservatism. In fact, Russell Kirk starts his profound work “The Conservative Mind” by profiling Burke.

So what does Burke say about who should govern, how they should govern, and what constitutes liberty?
I've noticed this before. Mainstream conservatives will happily appeal to genuinely conservative writers like Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk, without the genuine conservatism rubbing off. The leader of the Australian Liberal Party, Tony Abbott, does this in an especially infuriating way. He will talk intelligently about, say, the patriotic views of Roger Scruton but then adopt policy positions which are directly contrary to the principles he has just seemingly endorsed.

Clearly it's not enough to have read Burke or Kirk or Scruton. The mainstream right can do this and still adopt liberal policy positions. Their conservatism still stops short.

Anyway, Hoeft uses Burke in support of the idea that "compromise and coming to consensus on major issues, in, yes, a “bipartisan” way is positive". What I found most disappointing, though not surprising, is the way that Hoeft then chooses to define the aims of conservatism:
The shared conservative goals of limited government, promotion of the free market, and fiscal responsibility need to be the backbone for conservatism. 

That could just as easily be thought of as classical or right liberalism. Right-liberals believe that what matters is the regulation of a liberal society by the market rather than by the state. This leads to an emphasis on the individual as Economic Man - it is our participation in the economy which is thought to positively define us.

It's possible that the problem is once again that of "fusionism". The right-wing parties usually make their political appeal to both social conservatives and to right-liberals. Right-liberals and conservatives do agree that the state should not take over the role of other institutions in society, so perhaps there's an effort to "fuse" both wings of the party together on this basis of limited government.

If so, that's a loss to the socially conservative wing. It defines the aim of the party along right-liberal lines and because the liberalism remains predominant, and the logic of liberalism is for the state to intervene in society to create conditions of equal autonomy as a matter of "social justice", the state ends up extending its reach over time anyway.

The socially conservative element shouldn't accept such terms. It should aim to dominate and to keep the right-liberals appeased by including limited government as one of its policy goals. It has to seek fusion on its own terms rather than the terms of the right-liberals.

Friday, April 13, 2012

If it really is the end of men then why?

There's been a lot of crowing from feminists lately about how men are done for. The most famous example is an article by Hanna Rosin called The End of Men. According to Rosin, men are losing out big time in the workplace and education. The era of women is being ushered in.

But why? Typically, feminists like Rosin attribute the changes to larger impersonal forces, forces that are impossible to resist. They argue that there's something about the modern economy that favours women; the onward march of capitalism is what is putting men out of college and out of work.

What feminists like Rosin fail to acknowledge is that if men's position at work and at university is declining it is due in no small part to the rigging of the system by feminists like herself. Wherever men seem to dominate it is considered intolerable and steps are taken to reverse the situation. But if women seem to have an advantage it is ignored. If this strategy is played out for long enough, then of course the position of men at work and in education will decline over time.

And here is a classic example. Early this month the Gillard Government placed a bill before parliament which will force any company seeking government contracts or financial assistance to meet promotion targets for women:
COMPANIES that get taxpayer-funded assistance or win government contracts will in future have to meet promotion targets for women.

The Federal Government's Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Amendment Bill 2012 will force companies to promote women to management positions and provide them with equal opportunities.

The plan has been rejected by employer groups but welcomed by work-life balance advocates who want companies to be forced to set equality targets and meet them.

Note the odd language: the bill forces companies to promote women to management positions and this is justified as equality of opportunity. Clearly it is not equal opportunity, in which the best applicant wins out, but a rigging of the system to make sure that a female applicant is promoted.

Note too that the bill is not being demanded by the capitalists. Employer groups are worried that companies which either don't need or are unable to afford  to create new management positions will thereby miss out on government contracts and assistance (presumably such companies will be under pressure to sack existing male employees).

But the major point is this. According to Rosin the problem is that men can't compete with women in a modern economy. But the truth is very different - the truth is that men can compete and that the state is therefore stepping in to alter the gender balance.

Finally, I'd like to encourage men not to be thrown by such developments. It can be demoralising when you're a young man starting out and you realise that the system is acting against you and that your female peers are all revved up in a career sprint that leaves you behind.

It can be difficult, too, to get motivated when middle class women seem to be delaying family formation for so long and focusing in their 20s on career and casual relationships and a single girl lifestyle.

But men who persevere are still likely to do well in the long run. Younger men can let me know if they think I'm wrong, but from what I've observed of the younger women I know it's typical for middle class women in their early 20s to suggest that they might not ever want to have children; by their mid 20s they are still uncertain but starting to waver; and by their late 20s many have shifted to positively wanting children.

From their late 20s and through their 30s a lot of women will scale down their career commitments. It can be relatively straightforward at this time for a man to push ahead and do well in his career. The statistics show that by their 40s men are generally doing better in the workplace than women - something that not even Hanna Rosin denies.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A false accusation

Vivienne Dye is a strikingly good looking woman who was employed by the Commonwealth Bank here in Australia in 2005.

Initially she worked with a group of women in publicity. But things went sour when she got pushy; despite being new on staff she submitted a plan to change everyone's role in the work team, with herself being promoted and getting a pay rise. Her inability to get on with the other women led to her being given training sessions on workplace relationships. The training didn't work out well and she was referred to a workplace psychologist.

She was then sent to work as a business analyst with a group of men. That proved to be a big mistake. She got on well with her mentor, Angus Patterson; others in the office believed that she was flirtatious with him. They got on very well.

But then a social function took place at which her boss, Michael Blomfield was present. The events at the function are contested but some of the other female staff observed Dye chasing after Blomfield and warned him she was trouble. Blomfield went on a walk with her and told her that a relationship was out of the question.

Dye then made a claim that Blomfield had sexually harassed her. She rang her friend and mentor Angus Patterson and told him she was going to destroy Blomfield and his family. When Patterson declined to offer his support, she then made an accusation of rape against him.

The bank made an internal investigation and found her claims were baseless. The claims, however, were leaked to the press and the reputations of the two men suffered. Both left their positions at the bank; the bank did, however, support them during their trial.

During the trial Dye was found to be an unreliable witness. She made a number of claims that were disproven, for instance, through telephone records. The judge found the two men innocent.

There's an interesting and more detailed account of the story here. I decided to post a small item on the court case because it's another reminder to us that women are not always the innocent victims in these matters.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Australians out, Earthians in

The Australian Greens wield a lot of power as the Gillard Labor Government relies on their support to stay in power.

The Greens leader, Bob Brown, recently gave an official Greens oration. He began by addressing his audience not as "Fellow Australians" but as "Fellow Earthians". Whereas the Labor Party wants to ditch Australia for a regional state, the Greens want to go all the way and establish a global one.

Therefore, in Green minds you are no longer an Australian, or an American, or a Japanese - you are an Earthian and will be addressed as such (so much for diversity).

Bob Brown then told the audience that Earth is on the brink of extinction. He even put forward a theory that the reason that other intelligent life forms have never contacted us is that they all used their intelligence to alter their environment and so "extincted" themselves.

This is all meant to butter us up for Brown's radical plan: the institution of a global parliament. Brown tells an interesting story of his last attempt to achieve the aim of a global parliament via a motion in the Australian senate:

In 2003 our other Greens Senator, Kerry Nettle, seconded the motion but we failed to attract a single other vote in the seventy-six seat chamber. The four other parties - the Liberals, the Nationals, Labor and the Democrats - voted 'no!'. As he crossed the floor to join the 'noes', another senator called to me: 'Bob, don't you know how many Chinese there are?'.

Well, yes I did. Surely that is the point. There are just 23 million Australians amongst seven billion equal Earthians. Unless and until we accord every other citizen of the planet, friend or foe, and regardless of race, gender, ideology or other characteristic, equal regard we, like them, can have no assured future.

Brown is willing to throw his 23 million conationals under the bus for the sake of his ideology. In a one person, one vote global parliament we really are doomed.

Note just how far Brown's concept of "non-discrimination" goes here. According to Brown, until we give everyone on earth the same vote on what happens to Australia we are being discriminatory by not having "equal regard" for everyone.

That's why it's foolish to think that discrimination is always wrong. Is it really morally wrong to think that the inhabitants of a country cannot discriminate by having more say than non-inhabitants over the affairs of their own society? Over the destiny of their own community? Some forms of discrimination are reasonable and defensible.

Brown then goes on to speak in support of democracy and freedom. But what he doesn't mention is that the Australian Greens have been at the forefront of plans to limit freedom of the press in Australia. The Greens want tighter state control over the media; they seem to be particularly upset that some Australian newspapers have published the views of climate change sceptics. The Greens managed to get a media inquiry established which has recommended that even websites like this one be placed under government regulation. A combination of the new online media and the right-liberal Murdoch press has broken the monopoly of left-liberalism in Australia and the Greens seem to be searching for ways to hit back.

Brown's global parliament would have four goals: economy, equality, ecology and eternity. I thought his explanation of 'equality' was interesting. What is it that we are being made equal for? Brown explained:
Equality would ensure, through the fair regulation of free enterprise, each citizen's wellbeing, including the right to work, to innovate, to enjoy creativity and to understand and experience and contribute to defending the beauty of Earth's biosphere.

That's the thing. Liberal equality severely limits what the purposes of human life are allowed to be. We are no longer seen as members of nations or families; we are no longer seen as distinctly male and female; we are no longer seen to exist in a world of objective moral values. Instead, we are thought of as stripped down, abstracted, equally autonomous individuals. And what is left to such individuals? The way Brown sees things, such individuals can be workers, they can "innovate," and they can experience the "biosphere". That's all that comes to his mind when he thinks of human purposes in life. You can go to work, you can play the piano and you can go to a park to experience not nature but the biosphere. These things you can do as an equally autonomous, self-determining individual, the rest of life doesn't fit in so well with modernist assumptions.

Anyway, if any Australians are reading this who have been tempted to vote for the Greens thinking that they are simply there to preserve nature, please reconsider. The Greens have a much larger and more radical agenda, one which involves transforming you from Australian to Earthian.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Why did school authorities want this mural painted over?

A reader sent me a link to the following story. Liz Bierendy is a 17-year-old student at a school in Rhode Island in the U.S. She painted a mural for her school depicting the progression of a boy from childhood to adulthood. Have a look at the mural below:

Pilgrim High School mural, Warwick Rhode Island, by Liz Bierendy
It seems that school authorities saw the mural and felt it to be offensive. They ordered that part of the mural should be painted over.

Can you guess why? Here's a clue: the "offensive" part of the mural is the bit at the end.

The authorities did not like Liz Bierendy's portrayal of the family. According to Liz Bierendy she was told that portraying a man getting married to a woman and forming a family,
may be offensive to some people because it is not how society views a family anymore because some people may not grow up with a mother and the whole marriage type thing may be a religious symbol.

I am tempted here to write "Really?" about a thousand times. But I should know better. I have explained in detail myself why liberals have issues with the standard traditional family. I shouldn't be surprised if liberals treat seemingly innocent depictions of the family as being too suspicious to be rendered into art.

The mural was only saved when a higher official, a school superintendent, stepped in and used his authority to allow the mural to stand in its current form:
The section of the mural featuring the family was ordered painted over by school officials. Bierendy said she was notified prior but she was still "pretty upset." The Superintendent of Warwick Schools Peter Horoschak has since stepped in and asked that the student be allowed to finish the mural however she sees fit.

Bierendy says she is going to take the weekend to “think about this,” and on Monday she will decide how to finish the mural.

In a statement released by Superintendent Peter Horoschak he said "some of the members of the Pilgrim High School community suggested that the depiction of a young man’s development from boyhood through adulthood as displayed may not represent the life experiences of many of the students at Pilgrim High School."

Update: I've just read some comments in a local newspaper about the issue. Most readers are supportive of the mural, but those few that are against really do believe that the mural is an attempt to impose religion or "religious values" in public schools.

Is the American left really going to go down this path and view the family as a "religious symbol" that must be kept out of public life?

It's a serious development as a society needs a stable culture of family life to prosper, but public authorities will not be able to promote such a culture if it is deemed to be a "religious value" that cannot be favoured within public settings.

Sunday, April 08, 2012


Here's a really beautiful piece of music, the Stabat Mater by Pergolesi. The first four and half minutes is the most renowned part of the work.

The music was performed in 2009 in the Saint Denis Cathedral in Paris. The cathedral has an impressive history, the first church being built on the site in 475, and then enlarged on the orders of Dagobert I in the 7th century, with the current structure being completed in the 12th and 13th centuries. Most of the kings of France are buried there.

Some photos of the interior of the cathedral:

The Righteous Mind

Jonathan Haidt has written a book called "The Righteous Mind" which should be of interest to traditionalists.

Haidt is a "social psychologist" who until recently thought of himself as a liberal. He has a particular theory of morality; he believes that what really drives our moral beliefs is a "moral intuition," an immediate feeling of what is right or wrong, rather than our rational intellect.

Haidt studied the moral beliefs held within communities across the world and came to have a greater sympathy for non-liberal moral systems. A reviewer of Haidt's book summarised his position this way:
In the West, we think morality is all about harm, rights, fairness and consent....But step outside your neighborhood or your country, and you’ll discover that your perspective is highly anomalous. Haidt has read ethnographies, traveled the world and surveyed tens of thousands of people online. He and his colleagues have compiled a catalog of six fundamental ideas that commonly undergird moral systems: care, fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity. Alongside these principles, he has found related themes that carry moral weight: divinity, community, hierarchy, tradition, sin and degradation.

That's interesting. When I read it I immediately thought that liberal morality was very cut down compared to traditional morality. Of the twelve principles and related themes, liberalism only cares about the first three - and as we shall see, this narrower moral focus is recognised by Haidt.

The reviewer, William Saletan, goes on to address his liberal audience as follows:
The worldviews Haidt discusses may differ from yours. They don’t start with the individual. They start with the group or the cosmic order. They exalt families, armies and communities. They assume that people should be treated differently according to social role or status — elders should be honored, subordinates should be protected. They suppress forms of self-expression that might weaken the social fabric. They assume interdependence, not autonomy. They prize order, not equality.

In other words, individual autonomy is not made the sole organising principle of society.

Haidt makes a sympathetic defence of the non-liberal moral beliefs. That's unusual and welcome coming from someone who identifies as a liberal, but unfortunately his chosen defence is flawed:
These moral systems aren’t ignorant or backward. Haidt argues that they’re common in history and across the globe because they fit human nature. He compares them to cuisines. We acquire morality the same way we acquire food preferences: we start with what we’re given. If it tastes good, we stick with it. If it doesn’t, we reject it. People accept God, authority and karma because these ideas suit their moral taste buds. Haidt points to research showing that people punish cheaters, accept many hierarchies and don’t support equal distribution of benefits when contributions are unequal.

The problem here is that non-liberal morality is being defended not because it is rational or true, but because it fits an evolved human nature. Our moral sense evolved to like a non-liberal understanding of justice and therefore this preference has a basis within human nature. That is Haidt's position, according to Saletan, and as we shall see it allows Saletan to reassert the supremacy of a liberal morality.

But first, here is the quote from the book review which recognises that liberal morality is more cut down or reductionist compared to traditional morality:

You don’t have to go abroad to see these ideas. You can find them in the Republican Party. Social conservatives see welfare and feminism as threats to responsibility and family stability. The Tea Party hates redistribution because it interferes with letting people reap what they earn. Faith, patriotism, valor, chastity, law and order — these Republican themes touch all six moral foundations, whereas Democrats, in Haidt’s analysis, focus almost entirely on care and fighting oppression. This is Haidt’s startling message to the left: When it comes to morality, conservatives are more broad-minded than liberals. They serve a more varied diet.

This is what I've argued for many years: it's not that individual autonomy is necessarily wrong, but it needs to be balanced with a range of other goods. It cannot always be the overriding good in society.

I don't think it's right, though, that the Republican Party is committed to a non-liberal understanding of morality to the degree that Haidt/Saletan appear to believe it to be. Some of the Republican Party base might hold to the values of faith, patriotism and valor more than their Democrat counterparts, but there's not much evidence when it comes to policy direction that leading Republicans think all that differently on social issues than leading Democrats.

What follows next is a more detailed defence of traditional moral norms. Haidt agrees that for a society to hold together there has to be a level of cooperation (the moral capital of society) in which individualism is constrained:

One of these interests is moral capital — norms, prac­tices and institutions, like religion and family values, that facilitate cooperation by constraining individualism. Toward this end, Haidt applauds the left for regulating corporate greed. But he worries that in other ways, liberals dissolve moral capital too recklessly. Welfare programs that substitute public aid for spousal and parental support undermine the ecology of the family. Education policies that let students sue teachers erode classroom authority. Multicultural education weakens the cultural glue of assimilation. Haidt agrees that old ways must sometimes be re-examined and changed. He just wants liberals to proceed with caution and protect the social pillars sustained by tradition.

Here traditionalists would certainly agree with Haidt. Again, I've argued many times that the more that the state steps in to provide for women, the more that the role of husbands within a family is undermined, leading to greater instability within family life. This is also a better defence of traditional morality than the "it fits evolved human nature" one, as it is effectively an appeal to reason and truth. What Haidt is really arguing here is that the logic of liberal morality is to dissolve forms of cooperation that are important for the functioning of society.

Haidt also puts the case for particular loyalties or what he calls parochial altruism:
Another aspect of human nature that conservatives understand better than liberals, according to Haidt, is parochial altruism, the inclination to care more about members of your group — particularly those who have made sacrifices for it —than about outsiders. Saving Darfur, submitting to the United Nations and paying taxes to educate children in another state may be noble, but they aren’t natural. What’s natural is giving to your church, helping your P.T.A. and rallying together as Americans against a foreign threat.

Whilst I agree that it is natural to be more focused on serving those you have particular connections to and specific responsibilities toward (your own children, spouse, friends, ethny, conationals etc), I don't think it's sufficient to leave the argument at what is natural. The argument needs, at least, to be elaborated: what we feel particular loyalties toward, such as our family or ethny, have a distinct character and value - a goodness - that rightly inspires our love and attachment, and which it is therefore reasonable for us to want to uphold. We cannot easily substitute one loyalty for another, as (for example) my place within the larger Anglo tradition (my sense of ancestry, of a shared history, of language and culture) cannot be replicated within any other randomly chosen tradition - say the Chinese one. The Anglo tradition will necessarily be more meaningful for me than the Chinese one. Whilst I might like the Chinese tradition and wish it to endure, it is reasonable for me to want to primarily serve the tradition that is most meaningful for me; to which I am most closely connected; which forms a significant part of my identity; which most inspires my love and attachment; which I am best in a position to help reproduce (through children, contribution to culture etc); which is most likely to carry on what I love as distinctive features of my own ancestry and character and culture; and to which, therefore, I feel the greatest sense of duty and responsibility.

It's important to elaborate the sense in which it is reasonable to have particular loyalties rather than global ones, because otherwise it leaves things open for a liberal like Saletan to argue that we should transcend what is natural in order to adapt to the different conditions of the modern world:

Traits we evolved in a dispersed world, like tribalism and righteousness, have become dangerously maladaptive in an era of rapid globalization...

If we can harness that power — wisdom — our substantive project will be to reconcile our national and international differences. Is income inequality immoral? Should government favor religion? Can we tolerate cultures of female subjugation? And how far should we trust our instincts? Should people who find homosexuality repugnant overcome that reaction?

Haidt’s faith in moral taste receptors may not survive this scrutiny. Our taste for sanctity or authority, like our taste for sugar, could turn out to be a dangerous relic. But Haidt is right that we must learn what we have been, even if our nature is to transcend it.

See? It hardly makes a dint in Saletan's commitment to liberalism to argue that traditional morality fits better with human nature. He has an easy "out" which is to argue that we are to use reason to transcend an evolved nature. If it's just a question of what "fits" he can argue that what fitted a premodern society no longer fits, or may even be maladaptive to, a modern society.

We challenge liberals more effectively by exposing the arbitrary underpinnings of their own morality, on which their sense of what is just is based, and by defending our own positions as being not only true in the sense of being objectively moral, but as being rational and necessary for the long term functioning of society.

Friday, April 06, 2012

How feminism arrives at one of its contradictions

A little while ago I posted a story about a Swedish toy catalogue which showed a boy Spiderman pushing a pram. I criticised the Swedes for being hostile to sex distinctions between men and women.

Someone posted the story to the men's rights page at reddit. I'm grateful to them for doing so (if nothing else it boosts traffic). However, the men's rights activists there disagreed with me. They were critical of the Swedes not for attacking traditional sex distinctions, but for not doing it effectively.

And that's what I expected to happen. The men's rights page is dominated by left-leaning activists who are still pursuing a liberal utopia, despite all the evidence that liberalism is more likely to create a dystopia.

The redditors, however, do go against the orthodoxy in one important aspect. They don't follow the script which states that men are to be treated as privileged oppressors. Understandably, they don't want to occupy that position - it's not part of the ideal they are seeking.

They want a liberalism in which they aren't treated in such a negative way. And so they argue (very strongly) against the "men are evil oppressors/women are victims" line - and here there is a useful overlap with traditionalism.

Anyway, I thought there were two comments at the reddit site worth commenting on. The first was from someone calling themselves "throwawaygender" (who appears to be a feminist woman). She tried to summarise the Swedish toy catalogue story in these positive terms:
Toy catalogue expands traditional gender roles

The Swedes, she thinks, aren't taking anything away, they are just "expanding" what already exists. But I've read enough documents put out by Swedish governments to know that this just isn't true. I replied to "thowawaygender" as follows:

Not quite right. The Swedes believe that traditional gender roles are social constructs created for the purposes of the oppression of women. Therefore, the aim is to overthrow them, or at least to make them not matter, rather than to expand them.

To be more exact, the Swedes believe in two things:

i) Masculinity is socially constructed to harm women, therefore men should not be masculine

ii) Masculinity is the privileged position, therefore women should be masculine

The last part of my comment explains what seems to be a contradiction within feminism, namely that masculinity is regarded negatively as oppressive at the same time that women are urged to give up feminine roles in favour of masculine ones. This seeming contradiction has been around a long time, even in the early days of first wave feminism. An English anti-feminist of the 1860s, Eliza Linton, addressed the feminist women of her era as "you of the emancipated who imitate while you profess to hate" and criticised them as "the bad copies of men who have thrown off all womanly charm".

The second comment at the reddit site came from someone who describes themselves as a conservative. In response to my argument that "Liberals believe that the overriding good is individual autonomy, a personal freedom to be a self-determining individual" this person wrote that he agreed with individual autonomy as a first principle,

As a conservative I do too. I don't think this kind of gender-bending is necessary or especially praiseworthy, but I also don't see anything fundamentally wrong with it. Frankly, I'm more concerned by the parity of legal rights that exists, even in "egalitarian" Sweden (which, truth be told, is more feminist than egalitarian).

This shows how much work we have left to do. If liberals and "conservatives" believe in the same thing (autonomy theory) then we will be forever trapped within the same closed political system. The reddit "conservative" wants nothing more than an equality of individual autonomy, which he believes (no doubt correctly) that a Swedish feminist society won't deliver for men. My quick reply to him was this:

But then what do you end up conserving? If you think the individual should be self-determining, then you commit yourself to liberating the individual from whatever is predetermined. And that includes some of the most important aspects of individual identity, such as sex & ethnicity (and if you push the logic far enough, even nationality).

Furthermore, if you hold to autonomy as the overriding good, then justice will be defined as an equal distribution of autonomous life conditions. And the only way to achieve that (and to suppress the influence of sex & ethnicity) will be via an intrusive state.

So you eventually arrive at similar positions to that of the left.

If you want a conservatism that conserves, and which is different in principle to leftism, then I don't think you can endorse individual autonomy as the overriding good of society.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

The first part of the video

In my previous post I criticised the way that liberals follow a script in which whites are presented as the racist oppressors of blacks.

I linked to a video which shows the opposite - a lone white man in America being brutally beaten, stripped and robbed by a group of blacks.

A reader sent a link to the missing first part of the video. It was embedded within a site I didn't want to link to, so I'm posting it here. It shows the lead up to what happened. The lone white man is standing in the street and is then approached by some young black men who boast that they are going to steal his car keys. Some black women then gyrate around him before one young black man (teenager?) then steals his keys. When the white man attempts to retrieve the keys he is king hit and hits the pavement with a sickening thud.

The second part of the video can be seen here.

My point in posting the video is not to pin the blame for such crimes on all blacks. It is to demonstrate that the real world is a very different place to the way it is imagined to be by your average white liberal.

(The video might take some moments to load.)

How long can this go on for?

We are all of us supposed to believe that white males are the source of evil and oppression in the modern world. That's what it says in the liberal script.

And so there are some things we are meant to notice and other things we aren't meant to notice.

Anything that remotely resembles white violence toward others we are supposed to seize and run with. We are to push it as far as we can. This is happening in the U.S. right now. A young black man, Trayvin Martin, was shot dead in an altercation with a neighbourhood watch captain, George Zimmerman. That has led to claims of white racism and to expressions of support for Trayvin Martin from President Obama and leading politicians.

The "white racism" angle is being pushed despite the fact that George Zimmerman reportedly identifies as Hispanic and not white, and despite the fact that the details of what happened aren't clear yet. Zimmerman claims that Martin challenged him, struck him to the ground and was beating his head on the pavement before he acted. There has been evidence presented both for and against this version of events.

To make the case fit the script better, one American news outlet even doctored an audio file to make it sound as if George Zimmerman had said something racist against blacks in his 911 call.

But what aren't we supposed to notice? We aren't supposed to notice black violence against whites, as that doesn't fit the script.

Let me challenge you now, if you're someone who is still inclined to believe in the "white oppressor" idea, to click on a few links. The first one (hat tip: Lawrence Auster) shows a white guy in America who has made the mistake of wandering into the wrong area of town. He's not doing anything wrong, except being a white guy in a black area. He is king hit, beaten, stripped and robbed - and the crowd thinks this is great fun. Watch the video and if you have any sense left in you you'll want to tear up the liberal script that we are all supposed to keep to politely.

How long can the pretence of filtering reality to make white men the violent oppressors go on for when there is video evidence like this?

Then there is the case of the murders of James Cooper and James Kouzaris. They were British tourists in Florida who again wandered into the wrong area. A black American, Shawn Tyson, held them up and on finding that they had no money murdered them both in cold blood. Tyson was later recorded referring to the men he murdered as "crackers" - a derogatory term for whites.

The father of James Kouzaris wrote to President Obama seeking the same kind of statement of sympathy that was extended to Trayvin Martin - but got no response at all. A friend of the two men concluded that this was because there was no "political value" for the President in doing so. And he's right. How does an execution style murder of two white tourists by a young black man help develop the liberal script? It doesn't and so it's not supposed to be noticed.

Then there's this recent case from South Carolina. A white man exiting a restaurant was called a "tree monkey" by six black men waiting outside. When he asked them why they called him that, they hit him on the head with a gun and kicked him repeatedly in the face.

These kind of events are supposed to sail right under the radar. They are meant to be seen as having no larger significance; they are just local news stories that have consequences for those involved, but are quickly forgotten.

But when it comes to an incident that seems to meet the liberal script then you have the President talking about the need for national soul searching.

The script has to go.

Monday, April 02, 2012

In Sweden Spiderman pushes a pram

The Swedes take liberalism so seriously, that toy catalogues there now show a boy Spiderman pushing a pram.

Swedish Spiderman happily carries a pink purse whilst pushing a pink pram

The justification? It's exactly what you would expect from those following liberal ideas:

Kaj Wiberg is the CEO of the company behind the catalogue, "Leklust", and claims that it is time to move forward from old-fashioned gender restrictions.

"Gender roles are an outdated thing," he told Metro newspaper.

Carl Emanuelsson, spokesman for Sweden's Feminist Initiative, welcomes the concept.

"It's great that this company has tried to show that people don't need to be stuck in gender roles," he told The Local.

"Examples such as these show other ways that we can break free from the roles that are forced on us, the roles that we are limited by."

In the catalogue, on a predominantly pink page full of dolls and prams, a child dressed as spiderman can be seen pushing a pink pram.

On another page, a blonde-haired girl with rolled up sleeves is pedalling what appears to be a racing vehicle.

Elsewhere, the catalogue features another boy standing in front of a toy stove, apparently cooking a make-believe meal.

"The problem with toy stores and their catalogues is that they're selling a concept; an idea about boys and girls and what kind of qualities and interests they should have," Lady Dahmer told The Local.

"It's about money because as long as they can fool us into believing boys and girls are fundamentally different, they can keep selling us twice as much."

That is the kind of thing you'd say if you were indoctrinated in a liberal ideology. Liberals believe that the overriding good is individual autonomy, a personal freedom to be a self-determining individual.

But our sex is not something that we get to self-determine, it is predetermined. Therefore, it is held to be a negative limitation on the individual, one from which the individual must be liberated. And so liberals talk about masculinity and femininity in negative, limiting terms as a fetter, or a prison, or a straitjacket.

And look at how Kaj Windberg justifies his pram-pushing Spiderman. He talks about gender being a "restriction" that people are "stuck in" and "limited by" and that they need to "break free" from. He treats sex distinctions as a negative restriction on the individual.

If you didn't start out from liberal first principles, you wouldn't think this way. You would recognise the importance of your sex to your self-identity and you would look on the fulfilment of your masculinity or femininity as something meaningful - as an expression of being that connects you as an individual to something larger than yourself.

But let's say you do accept the liberal first principles and you reject your own sex as something that is predetermined. In order to believe that you can be "liberated" from a predetermined masculinity or femininity, you will have to think of sex distinctions as being entirely socially constructed - as having no basis in nature.

That's why Lady Dahmer believes that it is the toy catalogues which are creating the sex distinctions; they are creating a "concept" in order to make money and "fooling" people into believing that boys and girls are different.

She believes that boys and girls are fundamentally the same and that capitalism is creating the concept of sex distinctions in order to be able to sell twice as much stuff.

That might not sound credible to those who understand the biological basis for sex distinctions, nor to those who understand the existence of sex distinctions across place and time, but it fits within a liberal ideology and so is accepted by those who support that ideology.

And one positive benefit of having Spiderman carry pink handbags and push prams? It might help cheer up Alex the Swede.