culture

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Freeze-out.

There’s a sense that for the white moderate to say, “let the Nazi speak,” is a point of pride. “Look how noble I am.” And as I write in the book, that sense of self-congratulation is more valuable to them than the lives of the Black, Jewish, Muslim, trans, gay people that are affected by the speech of Nazis. And it is a lie. It’s a big, giant fucking lie because the goal of white supremacists is to use their free speech to talk and talk and talk and talk until no one else can talk anymore. Their goal is to kill, their goal is to engage in ethnic cleansing, their goal is to purge. And if the self-congratulatory naivete of free speech liberals is a tool they can use, they will use it. But they don’t care about free speech for anyone but themselves, and they don’t want anybody else to speak.

Talia Lavin on speech.

2020-12-21T07:29:40+11:007th January, 2021|Tags: |

White elite.

[W]hat became viscerally clear to me, is that there is no socioeconomic class, no level of education attainment, and no geographic region that has a monopoly on White supremacy. These people are well-spoken, wealthy, with country club level money, and are highly educated. The architects of White supremacist ideology have attended the most prestigious schools in the U.S. They serve as elected officials. The myths about them [as weird toothless masturbators living in their mothers’ basements] cause a lot of nice White middle-class people to absolve themselves from their own racism.

Talia Lavin on cultural warlords.

2020-12-18T13:31:50+11:004th January, 2021|Tags: |

Overleveraged.

These women aren’t anti-Communist because of some weird holdover from the Cold War. They’re anti-Communist because they don’t want other people to have more money if it means that they will have less of it. When people talk about Trump supporters voting against their own interests, they’re eliding this very basic motivation: people voting entirely in their own interest.

To me, that rationale signals just how quietly unstable many of these voters actually find themselves. Even in a place like Idaho, with relatively cheap cost of living, there’s still a feeling […] that the bottom could fall out at any moment. A business could go under, a child could be diagnosed with a chronic illness, a parent could need full-time care and has no savings to cover it. The safety net is gone and the demands of middle-class living, from those family photos to constantly tweaking the design of your kitchen, add up. A lot of families are carrying two car loans, plus thinking about a third when their kid reaches high school age. Being middle class in America today requires a whole lot of consumer debt. The house of carefully balanced credit cards could collapse at any point.

Anne Helen on lifestyle reactionaries.

See also all those “you don’t have to worry about Biden’s tax plans if” memes. I think the influence of middle-class precarity–or even the perception of middle-class precarity–as a driver for reactionary conservatism is very under-examined. It’s the whole thing of, “We struggled and worked hard to get where we are, and we’re still only One Bad Day away from it all ending… so why should anyone else have an easier ride? (Also: please God don’t let anyone else find out how close to the edge we really are…)”

Obviously the Standard Issue Marxist Answer to this problem is a combination of false consciousness and “class solidarity” except… you’re talking about people, the petite bourgeoisie, who fall outside of the standard class solidarity paradigm. There’s a subconscious understanding that communism is not “for” them which—as someone whose middle-class/small-farm-owning Russian ancestors did indeed get thrown in the gulags—is not an entirely unfounded fear. And, yes, no-one is seriously trying to introduce Soviet-style capital-C Communism into any modern liberal democracy, let alone the US… But.

But I think it is kind of, again, underestimated how much middle-class lifestyles do change under even the most coddling of social democracies, and how bad socialist reformers tend to be at messaging around that. So yes, you socialize healthcare and education and install killer public transport systems and a four-day working week, and have basically just made life better for everyone in society. Hooray. But you’ve also taken away pretty much everything the aspirational middle class has been taught to value as life goals. Being able to send your kids to a “good school” doesn’t matter when every school is good and, worse, private schools are treated as the glorified babysitters for the idiot offspring of the parasitic upper-class. Owning a nice car doesn’t matter when the train is much easier and, worse, private car ownership is selfish and planet-destroying. And taking pride in working hard and for long hours has no value when “working hard” is framed as exploitation and anyone who indulges in it is seen as a bootlicking scab.

And yes, incidentally, those are indeed all real examples.

They’re not insurmountable ones, sure, but the point is they have to be surmounted in the first place. You don’t just need to convince the reactionary middle class that they’ll be better off in the democratic socialist workers’ paradise; you have to find some way to scale the wall of existential horror that comes for everyone when they realize everything they’ve been taught to value in life is, at best, bullshit and meaningless and, at worst, actively exploitative. That’s no easy feat, and requires a level of leadership the current donor-and-focus-group-tethered political class doesn’t seem well-positioned to express…

2020-12-09T08:52:19+11:002nd January, 2021|Tags: , |

The closet.

Difficult essay from a closeted transwoman on the choice not to come out and not to transition.

The point here—asides from general empathy—is to, as we used to say, check yourself before you wreck yourself on the rocks of TERF logic that frequently lie disguised under the inviting waves of queer and/or feminist solidarity…

2020-12-09T07:24:14+11:001st January, 2021|Tags: , |

Social immobility.

A short history of student debt in the US.

2021-01-11T09:23:23+11:0031st December, 2020|Tags: , , |

Got things done.

As someone who remembers they heyday of Getting Things Done and the rise of productivity porn, I did enjoy this retrospective.

The short answer here is that—contra the beliefs of early 2000s 20-to-30-something tech libertarians—personal “productivity” cannot actually compensate for institutional failings (shock horror I know), and as the original GTD set have aged this is something they’ve learned the hard way. Or, in other words, no amount of bullet journals in the world is going to replace joining a union.

See also: Agile, et al.

2020-12-08T08:20:47+11:0029th December, 2020|Tags: , |

Every community standard.

To say that #BlackLivesMatter implies that America in general and (usually) the police in particular are treating Black people as though their lives do not matter.

To say “Black Lives Matter” is to say, by implication, that “things are not fine“ in the part of America that progressives haven’t changed.

It’s conservative blasphemy.

Conservatives say #AllLivesMatter not because they think Black Lives don’t matter, but because they believe Black people do not receive [undeserved] ill treatment in the United States. There are no systemic problems with policing in America; there can’t be! It’s one of the few things progressives haven’t managed to massively overhaul… yet.

David M Schell on things being (not) fine.

The broader article is about the conservative obsession with child sexual abuse, so content warning for that.

2020-12-08T07:40:00+11:0026th December, 2020|Tags: |

Interactions.

I think of sexism as an ideology that says men are naturally better suited to male-dominated leadership positions in things like business and politics and academia, other masculine-coded domains, and that women are naturally better suited to caregiving roles, among other things. And I think of misogyny as, like, the law-enforcement branch of patriarchy, which polices and punishes girls and women who violate patriarchal norms and expectations. So I think of Trump, in particular, as someone who’s extraordinarily punitive toward women who challenge or thwart him in any way, but, at the same time, he is also happy to give quite a bit of power to women who have positioned themselves as his subordinates. And that’s both in business and politics—I’m thinking of Kellyanne Conway and Betsy Devos and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. These are women whom he thinks of, I believe, as competent. So that’s the sense in which he’s not particularly sexist, but he is misogynistic, in how he lashes out viciously and disproportionately against women who don’t defer to his authority.

Kate Manne on definitions.

One of the more… instructive things that’s ever happened to me in the workplace was noticing the sudden hostile shift in behaviour from men who’d previously been friends and mentors the second I got promoted over them (or even just to their level). These are men who, probably rightly, don’t think of themselves as sexist and will have endless justifications for why they treat you poorly the second you’re no longer their junior (“disrespect” being perennially popular). And ye-ee-ee-et…

2020-12-07T08:42:33+11:0023rd December, 2020|Tags: |

Sick society.

One question posed by researchers was whether someone has “seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days”— not fleetingly considered it as a momentary fantasy nor thought about it ever in their lifetime, but seriously considered suicide at least once in the past 30 days. The results are staggering.

For Americans between 18-24 years old, 25.5 percent — just over 1 out of every 4 young Americans — said they had. For the much larger group of Americans ages 25-44, the percentage was somewhat lower but still extremely alarming: 16 percent. A total of 18.6 percent of Hispanic Americans and 15 percent of African Americans said they had seriously considered suicide in the past month. The two groups with the largest percentage who said yes: Americans with less than a high school degree and unpaid caregivers, both of whom have 30 percent — or almost 1 out of every 3 — who answered in the affirmative. A full 10 percent of the U.S. population generally had seriously contemplated suicide in the month of June.

In a remotely healthy society, one that provides basic emotional needs to its population, suicide and serious suicidal ideation are rare events. It is anathema to the most basic human instinct: the will to live. A society in which such a vast swath of the population is seriously considering it as an option is one which is anything but healthy, one which is plainly failing to provide its citizens the basic necessities for a fulfilling life.

Glenn Greenwald on grim realities.

So once when I was about thirteen or so, I was out with a bunch of friends and we happened to be taking up a large chunk of a public staircase as we walked to the bus. One of my friends pointed it out, and I said something along the lines of, “But we’re having fun! Who cares?” And some old lady coming up the other way immediately sneered, “Society cares, darling.”

I still think about that a lot.

2020-12-07T08:15:48+11:0021st December, 2020|Tags: , |
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