politics

/Tag: politics

Sides.

I’ve spent 25 years as a journalist and have repeatedly seen the discomfort that journalists feel about proclaiming one political party to be more successful than the other on virtually any substantive issue. We journalists are much more comfortable holding up the imperfections of each and casting ourselves as the sophisticated skeptic.

Sometimes, though, one party really is doing a better job than the other. To refuse to admit it is to miss the story.

David Leonhardt on false neutrality.

2018-05-01T09:40:26+00:0017th October, 2018|Tags: newsphobia, politics|0 Comments

Slouching towards dystopia.

It’s one of the things that people who aren’t well-read in dystopian fiction may not realize about dystopias: they don’t necessarily just happen because there’s a zombie virus outbreak or a meteor that wipes out half of humanity, and they don’t happen because an evil dictator suddenly seizes power one day against the will of the people and everyone just goes along with it. They happen because people want them to happen. They happen because many people want to give up a little liberty to get a little safety. They want a president who seems like he’d be fun to have a beer with, or a guy who “tells it like it is.” And they want people to be nice. They want cars to use their turn signals and stop for pedestrians. They want people to take care of their aging parents and to do heroic acts. And if a government policy is making those things happen, they’re less likely to complain about the nasty side effects, like a journalist being inconvenienced. Or, say, journalists being even less likely to say anything critical of the government, or for all people to stop doing any actions the government considers distasteful, like being openly homosexual, or advocating for women’s equality. And slowly but surely, we ease into that dystopia.

Rebecca Watson on the journey.

2018-04-27T10:54:14+00:0014th October, 2018|Tags: culture, politics|0 Comments

White terror.

The anxiety of the “alt-right” over LARPing has a precedent and parallel in the wider right-wing obsession with “stolen valor,” which is ostensibly motivated by a concern with appropriately honoring the agents of the police state (any distinction between the military and law enforcement having become marginal to the point of irrelevance) but which is equally motivated by the need to guard who has access to political violence. Right-wing militias like the Oath Keepers, open only to veterans of military service or former law enforcement officers, strive to attain that access by aligning themselves with the state, positioning themselves as guardians of law and order while pursuing extralegal political violence: working alongside local police departments to suppress left-wing dissidents at demonstrations, as private security for GOP officials, or in conjunction with Customs and Border Protection officials, themselves agents of gratuitous cruelty, to detain migrants and refugees crossing the border with Mexico.

When militia members, Proud Boys, or crypto-fascists self-deputize, however, they reveal something deeper about the nature of political violence: After decades of neoliberal austerity, the state, having privatized everything else, now puts violence on the market as well.

Brendan O’Connor on the elephant in the room.

“Gee, Alis. You dump on superhero stories a lot. Like I mean, what’s the harm in simple fantasies about heavily armed individuals co-opting the state’s monopoly on violence for the purpose of executing extrajudicial revenge against actors they don’t believe the state itself is appropriately addressing? I mean, that’s just silly fun, right? It could never be taken the wrong way or have real-world consequences! Stop taking everything so seriously! It’s totally a coincidence that the massive rise in popularity of superhero narratives in modern pop culture just happens to coincide with the breakdown of rule of law in America, the increasing polarized aggression of its population, and the biggest global rise in fascist movements since the 1930s! I mean, Superman was created by Jewish men! Captain America punches Nazis! Black Panther… exists! They have to be progressive, right? Stories with those sorts of narrative trappings can’t possibly be using them as a distraction in order to slide in a violent, anti-egalitarian ideology under the door! Particularly one that’s not even intentional so much as it is a subconscious manifestation of a cultural malaise and patterns of thought that’ve been implanted in the Western polity by right-wing actors since at least the 1970s! Like how all those movies in the 1980s had the EPA as the bad guys! That had no negative impact on public perception of or policy around environmental regulation whatsoever! Stop worrying and just let people mindlessly consume pop culture without having to think more broadly about how it fits into institutional and cultural patterns of control because, like, it’s not like that’s ever been suggested as a form of fascism before! You no-fun party pooper! Also, you totally read a superhero comic once and are probably playing a violent videogame right now so that makes you a hypocrite and that means I don’t have to listen to anything you say! So nyyah!”

2018-04-18T08:09:58+00:006th October, 2018|Tags: culture, politics, usa|0 Comments

Unequal time.

Anyone looking objectively at the GOP’s record in politics over the last 30-odd years would reasonably conclude that conservatism is a bankrupt and harmful ideology, built on bigotry and a fetishization of tax cuts for the rich. The previous Republican president, George W. Bush, presided over an unnecessary and catastrophic war, a horrifyingly incompetent hurricane relief effort, and a historic, devastating financial collapse. The current Republican president is an incompetent would-be authoritarian whose main accomplishments so far have involved empowering a fascist police force to harass and deport innocent people. The Republican Congress put forth incoherent health care plan after incoherent health care plan, before ramming through a similarly incoherent tax cut for the wealthy.

Conservatism in office has brought Americans war, financial disaster, misery, and rising fascism. Conservative pundits, meanwhile, write column after column propounding ill-informed, bigoted, and cruel solutions to problems that don’t exist, while denying the existence of real injustices and misery.

This is not some sort of coincidence. Conservative governance is a disaster because conservative thinking is bankrupt. Giving more space to conservative thinkers is not going to make our polity more diverse and vibrant. It’s going to fill our public sphere with prejudice and ignorance.

Noah Berlatsky on bad opinions.

2018-04-16T14:52:29+00:005th October, 2018|Tags: culture, politics|0 Comments

Right-wing left-hand.

[Content warning that some of the below deals with Nazism, and linked articles contain Nazi imagery.]

So, for those not down with the devil, there are roughly three “branches” of modern-day satanism. The first, and oldest, is the Church of Satan, founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, and is sort of a kind of decadent, antitheist humanism with a heavy goth aesthetic. Notably, it does not actually believe in or worship a literal devil; instead, the concept of Satan is used more as an allegory for both opposition to what the Church believes are the fundamentally destructive teachings of mainstream theistic religions, specifically Christianity, and for an alternate set of guiding principles based on self-determination.

The second most well-known branch is the Satanic Temple, founded in 2012. Like the Church, it’s a “nontheistic religion” that sees Satan in allegorical, rather than literal, terms. It’s also the politically active satanic denomination; if you ever hear new stories about satanists wanting to build statues of Baphomet outside courthouses or include ethics classes in schools or demand access to abortion on religious freedom grounds, it’s almost certainly these guys behind it. The Temple’s faith-driven political affiliations are heavily progressive—like the Church of Satan, the Temple’s tenets are basically a kind of egalitarian humanism with a heavy focus on the autonomy of the self—and their activism is pushback on the encroachment of (usually) fundamentalist Christianity in secular public spaces (Ten Commandments statues in places of law and government, mandatory Christian prayer in public schools, anti-abortion legislation, etc.).

Then there’s… everyone else. This is a loose group of everyone from unaffiliated LaVey-esque satanists who believe in and worship Satan/Lucifer as an external supernatural being, to anti-Christian rebellious edgelords, to, well. Satanist Neo-Nazis. Which is apparently A Thing, even though one might assume Neo-Nazism to be incompatible with satanism either due to, a) its close ties with (white) Christianity and/or certain forms of Asatru/heathenism,1 and/or b) its authoritarian leanings, which would seem at odds with the whole “do what thou wilt” component of most satanic teachings.

Nonetheless, this kind of right-wing satanism2 does, indeed, exist and fits the public perception of the religion better than the more common denominations, in part because it advocates for things like human sacrifice,3 as well as ritual magic, social isolation, and the championing of general illegal and anti-social behavior. It’s this, as well as its general eschatological bent, that tends to tie right-wing satanism in with neo-Nazi movements; both believe the world is “ending”/in peril/ready for “rebirth”, both like inventing elaborate bullshit conspiracy theories to justify the murder of minority groups, and both like to fap to their facile headcanons of figures like Nietzsche and/or concepts like “Western civilization”.

Anyway. The point of all of that was to give the background to the fact that there is, apparently, currently a schism in the modern alt-right over exactly how much satanism members are prepared to tolerate to get to race war (also see here). Which is kind of… like, y’all remember 1980s “Satanic Panic” and how it all turned out to be invented bullshit that ruined peoples’ lives for no reason? Well go figure, I guess, because now in the 2010s we’ve got Satanic Panic 2.0, except this time it’s, a) real, and b) has actually killed people. Ugh.

  1. Not a religion known for its mainstream tolerance of anti-establishment/Satan-like figures, as any Lokean will tell you. ^
  2. Also see: the irony of having a right-wing incarnation of an otherwise ostensibly left-hand path. ^
  3. Notably, it encourages adherents to join police or armed forces in order to achieve this. ^
2018-04-16T10:44:29+00:0029th September, 2018|Tags: culture, cw: antisemitism, politics|Comments Off on Right-wing left-hand.

Masks.

This was the day American patriarchy took its mask off. And revealed its true self to the world. Did you like what you saw? Or were you disgusted and repelled and ashamed, to be a part of this, too, enraged at the ordeal, like I was? […]

What mask am I talking about? What does it look like? Why have so many of us had such difficulty seeing through it for so long? The mask American patriarchy wears is made of lacrosse games and fraternities and societies and prep schools and Ivy League universities. Of blazers and club ties and boathouses. Of a veneer of genteel civility and politesse. And yet none of these things seem to civilize these boys very much, or nearly enough. They become young men, who become adults but somehow stay children.

umair haque on American Partiarchy.

This is, of course, in response to the Kavanaugh hearings, so content warnings for that at the link.

2018-09-29T07:36:20+00:0029th September, 2018|Tags: culture, politics|Comments Off on Masks.

Nowhere to go.

And so it’s long past time to stop giving credence to conservatism as a whole, to treat it as the failed intellectual exercise it has proven to be. Look where it’s gotten us—endless war, mass incarceration, mass shootings, mass opioid death, mass inequality, for-profit schools and jails, virtually legalized white collar fraud, open racism, suppressed voting rights—and tell me it’s worth anything. Tell me this wasn’t the PLAN all along, so that the comfortable can remain comfortable. I say this as someone who has seen liberalism fail in all sorts of predictable, hilarious ways. […] Liberalism isn’t without its faults. But the ideal of a liberal democratic America that features things like, oh, I dunno, free education and free health care, maybe even free housing and a basic guaranteed income? That is not a pipe dream. That is not impractical. That is not a slippery slope to becoming East Germany.

Quite the contrary, it is conservatism that has led us to the wildly corrupt klepto-state we currently live in.

Drew Magary on the ideologically bankrupt.

2018-04-06T12:22:04+00:0024th September, 2018|Tags: politics|Comments Off on Nowhere to go.

“The nation”.

Both Froese and Stroud found pervasive anti-government sentiments among their study participants. “This is interesting because these men [gun owners] tend to see themselves as devoted patriots, but make a distinction between the federal government and the ‘nation,’ says Froese. “On that point, I expect that many in this group see the ‘nation’ as being white.”

Jeremy Adam Smith on motivations.

… yikes.

2018-03-20T13:25:08+00:0011th September, 2018|Tags: culture, politics, usa|Comments Off on “The nation”.

The widespread conflation of private platforms and businesses with public (i.e. government) services and infrastructure is like the Original Sin of late-stage capitalism.

2018-08-22T07:51:37+00:0019th August, 2018|Tags: culture, politics|3 Comments

Same as it ever was.

The claim being made [by blockchain advocates] is not that we can engineer greater levels of cooperation or trust in friends, institutions, or governments, but that we might dispense with social institutions altogether in favor of an elegant technical solution.

This assumption is naïve, it’s true, but it also betrays a worrying politics—or rather a drive to replace politics (as debate and dispute and things that produce connection and difference) with economics. This is not just a problem with blockchain evangelism—it’s a core problem with the ideology of digital activism generally. The blockchain has more in common with the neoliberal governmentality that produces platform capitalists like Amazon and Uber and state-market coalitions than any radical alternative.

Rachel O’Dwyer on the stoic conservatism of blockchain.

2018-02-21T10:14:39+00:008th August, 2018|Tags: economics, politics, tech|2 Comments