Sunday, August 20, 2017

Leslie Lee III on class reductionists

"If any class-reductionist leftists actually exist they would still be 100 times more helpful to black people than neoliberals." —Leslie Lee III

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The shortest history I've ever written of Privilege Theory

A comment I left at Facebook:
Privilege theory comes from Kimberle Crenshaw's fusion of bourgeois feminism with Derrick Bell's Critical Race Theory, which comes from the black churches. Privilege theory ignores the working class because its believers want bourgeois women and people of color to have all the privileges of bourgeois white men.
Here's a more complete post: The Problem with Privilege Theory

And here's an example of how privilege theory ignores the working class: Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #PoorLivesMatter—now with graphics

Friday, August 18, 2017

Paul Robeson rejects identitarianism

"Here was the first understanding that the struggle of the Negro people, or of any people, cannot be by itself. That is, the human struggle. And so ... my politics embraced also the common struggle of all oppressed peoples, including especially the working masses. Specifically the laboring people of all the world. And that defines my philosophy. It’s a joining one of ‘we are a working people, a laboring people, the Negro people.’

"And there is a unity between our struggle and those of white workers in the South. I’ve had white workers shake my hand and say ‘Paul we’re fighting for the same thing.’ And so this defines my attitude toward socialism and toward many other things in the world. I do not believe that a few people should control the wealth of any land, that it should be a collective ownership in the interests of all." —Paul Robeson

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Shetterly's Free Speech FAQ

NOTE: This FAQ is about the principle of free speech. There's a little about the law, but if you want to research the legal limits of speech in the US, try the ACLU's Defending First Amendment Rights.

1. How old is the idea of free speech?

At least 2500 years old. In 399 BC, Socrates said, "If you offered to let me off this time on condition I am not any longer to speak my mind... I should say to you, "Men of Athens, I shall obey the Gods rather than you.""

2. Isn't censorship something that only a government can do?

No. From What Is Censorship? | American Civil Liberties Union:
Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are "offensive," happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. Censorship by the government is unconstitutional.
3. Does free speech give you a right to lie, slander, or engage in false advertising?

No. Free speech gives you the right to say what you believe. It does not give you the right to say what you do not believe. Lying cannot be defended as free speech.

4. Does free speech give you a right to harass or threaten people?

No. Free speech does not give you the right to make anyone listen to you, and it does not give you a right to hurt anyone. Credible threats of danger are grounds to have people arrested, not for speaking, but for promising to do harm.

5. What about illegal forms of pornography?

Free speech gives you the right to try to change laws, but it does not give you the right to break them.

While art is a form of speech, and pornography is a form of art, when we talk about illegal pornography, we’re talking about recordings that are evidence of crimes. Keeping those forms of pornography illegal is not about speech—it's about targeting the market that promotes the crime. The principle is no different than targeting people who pay for prostitutes, drugs, or contract killings.

If you don’t like those laws, use your free speech to try to change them. If the subject of illegal pornography becomes legal, the pornography will become legal too.

6. What about firing people for saying things that do not directly affect their job?

People should be fired because of their job performance. If companies need to address something an employee has said off the job, they only need to say, “The opinions of our employees are their own.”

7. What about protesters speaking out to silence speakers and intimidating venues into canceling their events?

If you don't want to hear people speak, don't go to their speeches. Preventing people from speaking is the opposite of free speech.

8. What about protesting speakers in ways that don't silence them?

Yes! Protest outside events, but don't block passage to them. Go to events wearing armbands or T-shirts that show you reject a speaker's message. When speakers take questions, point out the problems with their beliefs.

9. Does free speech mean we have to let everyone speak wherever they want?

No. Groups have a right to invite the speakers they want to hear. They have no obligation to invite people they don’t want to hear.

10. Doesn't free speech let us cancel a speaker's invitation to speak?

No. When Clark University invited Norman Finkelstein to speak, then canceled the speech in response to protesters, Sarah Wunsch of the ACLU wrote:
...the cancellation of his speech violates the basic principles of freedom of speech and academic freedom which are so fundamental to an institute of higher learning. The existence of an opportunity to speak at another time or in another location does not remedy the wrong of censorship. 
11. What about copyright?

Free speech does not give you a right to claim someone else's expression as your own or to use their expression as you please. Copyright laws vary from country to country—in order to be true to free speech, copyright laws must allow for Fair Use.

12. Isn't free speech used by the powerful to abuse the powerless?

Free speech lets the powerless speak. Without it, the weak will be silenced by the rich and powerful.

13. What about silencing people who oppose free speech?

Free speech belongs to everyone, including people who oppose it.


XKCD doesn't understand free speech—or the difference between legal and moral rights

Actually, what XKCD doesn't understand is that money is not speech (XKCD doesn't understand free speech, take 2):

Explaining free speech to XKCD, a cartoon

Frederick Douglass and Henry Louis Gates on free speech and hate speech

Socialist quotes for free speech

Two examples of the unexpected consequences of banning (pornography and swastika)

On responding to speech with violence, or why a coward in a mask is nothing like Captain America

Friday, August 11, 2017

Google memo outrage reveals the dream and flaw of left-identitarianism

One of the better pieces about Damore's memo, Sabine Hossenfelder's Backreaction: Outraged about the Google diversity memo? I want you to think about it. notes:
The bigger mistake in Damore’s memo is one I see frequently: Assuming that job skills and performance can be deduced from differences among demographic groups. This just isn’t so. I believe for example if it wasn’t for biases and unequal opportunities, then the higher ranks in science and politics would be dominated by women. Hence, aiming at a 50-50 representation gives men an unfair advantage. I challenge you to provide any evidence to the contrary.
This idea that every job will someday have 50-50 gender representation is part of the identitarian dream. Whether it'll come true, I haven't a clue. Because nature gives the sexes different physical strengths and weaknesses, we'll either have to modify human bodies or use advanced tech to realize that dream.

But if there are subtle mental differences between men and women, those differences will always manifest themselves in some of the things people do. There may always be more men than women doing work like The 10 most dangerous jobs for men.

In a fair world, the requirements for doing a job are about ability, not gender. Whether that results in some jobs being disproportionately male or female should be irrelevant, so long as every individual can compete fairly.

The problem is our only way to test whether people have equality of opportunity is to look for equality of outcome. People will always be right to wonder about the reasons for disproportionate results.

Hossenfelder suggests,
One way to deal with the situation is to wait until the world catches up. Educate people about bias, work to remove obstacles to education, change societal gender images. This works – but it works very slowly.
Belief in change through education is another part of the left-identitarian dream, but education doesn't work slowly: It doesn't work at all. As noted at Wealth inequality is even worse than income inequality
If we equalized education levels between black and white Americans, we'd barely dent the racial wealth gap.
What does work? Sharing the wealth. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Some political whimsy from Twitter today

I tweeted this quote by an unknown writer: "Socialist jokes are only funny if everyone gets them."

Which inspired these responses:

"I'd tell you the joke about capitalism but I doubt you'd buy it." —@jaymiejmoore

"I'd tell you the joke about socialism but I doubt you'd share it." —@WillShetterly

"i'd tell you the joke about communism, but it's never really been tried" —@chaosprime

"I'd tell you the joke about anarchy, but it never really comes together." —@jaymiejmoore

"don't worry if you don't get the joke about anarcho-transhumanism, it won't be long before it gets you" —@chaosprime

"if you don't get the joke about accelerationism, i'll tell you worse and worse jokes until we find one that you get" —@chaosprime

'Anybody can tell a joke about nihilism. There's nothing to it." —@CPetersen_CS

"there are exactly ninety-six jokes about syndicalism, all of them equal" —@chaosprime

"I'd tell you a joke about philosophy but you'd all just argue about the answer & whether it was funny long after the rest of us went home." —@jamesmsix

Friday, August 4, 2017

By Ta-Nehisi Coates' logic on Confederate, The Handmaid's Tale should be cancelled

In Don't Give HBO's 'Confederate' the Benefit of the Doubt, Coates argues that

1. "Hollywood has churned out well-executed, slickly produced epics which advanced the Lost Cause myth of the Civil War."

Hollywood has also produced slickly sexist work.

2. "...while the Confederacy, as a political entity, was certainly defeated, and chattel slavery outlawed, the racist hierarchy which Lee and Davis sought to erect, lives on."

Sexism also lives on.

3. "...comparisons between Confederate and The Man in the High Castle are fatuous. Nazi Germany was also defeated. But while its surviving leadership was put on trial before the world, not one author of the Confederacy was convicted of treason."

No one has ever been convicted for the suffering caused by sexism. To pick one example from countless many, the men responsible for so many women dying in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire were not indicted for manslaughter.

4. "The symbols point to something Confederate’s creators don’t seem to understand—the war is over for them, not for us."

The struggle against sexism is also not over for women.

5. "Confederate is a shockingly unoriginal idea."

In prose, yes, it's been done many times, but it's rarely been addressed by Hollywood, just as stories about sexist societies are shockingly unoriginal in prose, but have rarely been addressed by Hollywood.

6. "African Americans do not need science-fiction, or really any fiction, to tell them that that “history is still with us.”"

Nor do women.

7. As an after-thought, Coates notes that half of the team creating Confederate is black, but he suggests they are subordinate to the white writers who are more famous. The Handmaid's Tale TV show has a male producer, Bruce Miller, who is called its creator on the IMDB page because he created the TV show and wrote the pilot. Its executive story editors are a woman and a man, Nina Fiore and John Hererra. If Confederate is flawed because of the social identity of its creators, so is The Handmaid's Tale.

ETA: On Facebook, Mike Wolf commented,
Actually, a great number of Nazis were back in positions of power after WWII, mainly because most Germans preferred to stick their head in the sand and forget the whole war and genocide had ever happened.

Despite the massive re-education by the Allies on the horors of Nazism, it took the student revolts of the 60s to weed out the remaining Nazis.

And of course Neo-Nazis exist to this day and probably will in perpetuity.
Earlier: Six hard questions about HBO's Confederate

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Why the Libertarian Party should, by their logic, be a socialist party

Simon Kongshøj wrote in a comment at Facebook:
Granting for the sake of argument that personal liberty requires economic liberty and that we value personal liberty, then every person ought to have economic liberty. Economic liberty is impossible for a person whose economic means are so meagre that he/she cannot make meaningfully free choices (slaves and serfs are the extreme of that; but the same can be said for the modern working poor), so no person ought to have so meagre economic means.

That would form the basis for a libertarian argument for socialism.