Social Justice Part Whatthefuckever: Seeing the Matrix

The kyriarchy is like the Matrix.

(This was totally my metaphor first, and then Sinfest stole it and made it into a comic, and now hopefully it has been long enough that everyone forgot. Except, uh, I just mentioned Sinfest. Oops.)

This is the source of one of the most common disagreements between social-justice-y people and non-social-justice-y people. Non-social-justice-y people notice social-justice-y people getting mad at all sorts of things they don’t get mad at, and assume that the social-justice-y people are just looking for stuff to get mad at, presumably because they enjoy getting angry a lot.

But from the social-justice-y person’s perspective, on the other hand, it’s the exact opposite. The world is full of things to get mad about. At this very moment, I’m typing on a computer with parts almost certainly made by slave labor, listening to a misogynistic punk band. My other tab is full of news about the deficit of good jobs even as the American economy recovers, the increase in world population to seven billion and riots at Occupy Oakland. In a bit I’m going to go call my mom, who doesn’t want to hear about my girlfriend because she thinks polyamory is morally wrong.

I… can’t get mad at all that.

I can’t.

I mean, I could say it’s about activist burnout and self-care and all that jazz, but honestly? It’s because I don’t want to. I don’t want to spend all my time thinking about injustice and making the world a better place; I’m not that good a utilitarian. I want to write my Nano novel and eat bagels with guacamole and snuggle with my girlfriend. I don’t even want to give up all offensive media. I like the Lonely Island, and even if their songs sometimes make me cringe, a life without ever getting to sing “the boat engine make NOISE motherfucker” ever again is a life I do not want.

So I cheat. I shut up when someone I’m gaming with says something horrifically racist. I don’t look up the human rights records of the companies that make the shit I buy. I claim to be vegan but still eat sushi and Auntie Anne’s cinnamon-sugar pretzels. Because I can’t fight everything that deserves to be fought as hard as it deserves to be fought.

I don’t think anyone can. Everyone is complicit in this dirty rotten system.

If you aren’t a hypocrite, your moral standards aren’t high enough.

But that’s okay. Because we merry band of hypocrites and whiners are winning.

If you look at it, at the wide span of history– since the Enlightenment, we have ended every century freer and more equal than we started out. It used to be that poor people couldn’t vote. It used to be that people of color couldn’t sit in the same train car as white people in the South. It used to be that the Roman Catholic Church Church was allowed to ban books by Descartes and Defoe, Galileo and Voltaire. It used to be that it was legal to rape your wife in most of the world. It used to be that disabled people were regularly exhibited in freakshows, and non-neurotypicals placed in lunatic asylums. It used to be that being queer was always a crime.

This isn’t saying that classism and racism and sexism and ableism and all the rest don’t exist anymore. God no. And it’s not saying that we can just sit back and allow the grand scheme of history to carry us forward into utopia. All of these victories were the responsibility of millions of men and women who sacrificed their prestige, their friendships, their free time, their jobs, their physical safety, even their lives. If a better world is going to happen, it is only going to happen because lots of people work their asses off for it.

But I think it’s good to look at the past and realize that victory is possible. Victory has happened. Is happening.

Not everyone can do everything. If you left me in charge of organizing a march, I would vomit from fear; if you told me to write about racism, the taste of feet would never manage to get itself out of my mouth. But I can blog about masculism (and sex-positivity) okay, and I flatter myself that I’ve done a little bit to make the lives of some men and the sex lives of some people better.

So… educate yourself about the oppressions you’re less familar with. Stop doing really awful privileged shit, as much as you can (I am talking to you, Pocahottie). Question your assumptions. Give money to a highly leveraged charity (GiveWell can help you decide which). Write letters to your congresspeople. Wave signs at marches. Organize marches. Volunteer– at a homeless shelter, a crisis hotline, a political campaign. Hell, run for office. Create media that shows voices that are rarely shown. Provide health care without shaming people for their sexualities, genders or body types. Find ways to make your job more inclusive, if you can. Point out to people if they say kyriarchal shit that they’re saying kyriarchal shit. Raise awesome children. Support and accept your friends.

And love yourself. Loving yourself is, I think, a radical act. The kyriarchy is doing its best to make sure that everyone hates themselves– or at least, everyone who isn’t that conventionally attractive, able-bodied, neurotypical, from-a-functional-family, rich, white, vanilla, monogamous, cis, straight, Protestant couple from Ohio. Therefore, by accepting yourself and working to be the best you you can be– not what the kyriarchy thinks you ought to be, but what would actually make you happiest– you are saying a giant “fuck off” to the Matrix.

And that’s way cooler than not being allowed to listen to the Lonely Island.

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100 Responses to Social Justice Part Whatthefuckever: Seeing the Matrix

  1. nmlop says:

    Fantastic post, Ozy.

  2. Vejuz says:

    Yes. This. I have nothing to add, because this is exactly what I would have written. 🙂

    Give money to a highly leveraged charity (GiveWell can help you decide which).

    Well, except maybe this. What do you mean by highly leveraged? I come from a finance background but I doubt you’re using the financial definition here.

  3. Jay Generally says:

    Beautiful. My favorite part?

    If you aren’t a hypocrite, your moral standards aren’t high enough.

    I apply a very similar standard to my identity as a parent.

  4. gudenuf says:

    I am so sick of activists saying “If you’re not actively involved in my anti-X movement, you must be in favor of X.” The truth is most people are doing what they can, in their flawed human ways. Realistically we can’t live pure, and beating ourselves up about it isn’t going to help.

  5. Orphan says:

    There was a country which won once before, about a century and a half ago. Moneylending had become a reviled profession, unions were the normal course, everybody was guaranteed a minimum standard of living and a job, racism was on the decline – it was considered the crown jewel of socialistic thought.

    A few decades later they started shoving people in ovens, something which would have been inconceivable to the country before.

    Not to invoke either Godwin or Hayek, but rather to point out that treating the current state of modern society as the product of an inevitable trend is… well, somewhat foolish.

  6. Levi Ramsey says:

    Bravo!

    I’d add, though, that writing letters to congresspeople, volunteering for political campaigns, and running for office are in all probability going to do less to change things than stopping doing even egregious privileged shit, giving to effective charities (@Vejuz: I’m interpreting leverage in the general sense of doing a lot with a little*), and even moreso taking direct action toward social justice on your part.

    *: in some sense that what financial leverage is… KKR famously used a few million dollars to buy a $25 billion company (RJR Nabisco) (I forget the exact figure)

  7. Very good post, I think being able to pick your battles is very important for social justice activists as you’re more likely to be able to have more of an effect on the world if you focus in and do your bit in one area rather than trying to take on everything at once.

    I also agree with what Orphan said, it’s very easy for people to see the improving of people’s rights over the last few hundred years as a linear progression that will always go in the same direction. It’s important to remember that these things certanly aren’t linear, and that it’s not beyond the relm of possibility that in the future being queer might once again be a hangable offence and poor people will be seen as lesser people and deserving of their lot (to name but a couple of examples). This is especially something to remember with the rise of the radical right, especially here in the UK where the British Nationalist Party is actually getting some real power.

  8. There was a country which won once before, about a century and a half ago. Moneylending had become a reviled profession, unions were the normal course, everybody was guaranteed a minimum standard of living and a job, racism was on the decline – it was considered the crown jewel of socialistic thought.

    A few decades later they started shoving people in ovens, something which would have been inconceivable to the country before.

    If you’re talking about Germany, your history’s way off; if you’re talking about the USSR, ditto. A century and a half ago is the 1860s, and your vaguely-described country didn’t exist back then; and to be honest, nor did it ever; burning strawmen is no way to make an argument.

    Not to invoke either Godwin or Hayek, but rather to point out that treating the current state of modern society as the product of an inevitable trend is… well, somewhat foolish.

    I don’t think anyone said it was inevitable, only that it was an observed trend.

  9. Orphan says:

    Also, not all of us are hypocrites. That’s an entirely unnecessary form of self-hate.

    I’m an Objectivist. Meaning I get to use the word “selfish” as a positive thing, which is helpful for the whole self-love thing. As far as I’m concerned your beliefs about economics and the moral nature of charity and altruism and social indebtedness and social contracts are just another form of self-hatred derived from just another original sin.

    To expound, you feel guilt about the nature of the society you live in; you feel extra effort is requires. The society you live in is no more within your power (nor should it be within your power) than the color of your skin; you agree it is morally repugnant to say a black person is morally obligated to work harder, why do you regard it as moral obligation for somebody born into an evil society to do the same?

    Your morality, driven by utility, is a ratchet of guilt; you can never leave anybody worse off than they were the moment before. If you open a soup kitchen, closing it is a moral evil. Your morality is maximized by seeing no evil, hearing no evil, knowing no evil – by having as little contact with the world as possible, in short. You indicate reading the comments in the news is stressful for you. That’s a result of a morality which punishes you for every outside contact you engage in. There’s no point at which you can say “I’m doing everything I can do to make the world a better place,” and that’s a sin and a guilt you accept as normal.

    I can lay some soul-crushing guilt down on you. You can’t really do the same to me. As one person I wrote a similar post to commented, it’s infuriating that he can’t tell me to live up to my own standards, because my own standards can actually be lived up to. His could not; yours cannot. There’s always another moral claim to your guilt, to your time, to your life.

    That’s no way to live. Your last paragraph is more like it. You have to start by loving yourself; in Gandhi’s words, be the change you want to see. Everything else falls into place from that.

  10. noahbrand says:

    burning strawmen is no way to make an argument.

    It is, however, the only fuel source Objectivists have.

  11. Orphan says:

    Mike –

    Germany. And no, my history isn’t way off; look into Germany pre-WWI. It’s a part of history that has largely been left out, eclipsed by later events. Marx and his colleagues were very influential in the evolution of the German state. Hayek actually blames socialism for the decline into fascism; I’m less certain, as other less socialistic states -also- went fascist, including the United States, Britain, Spain, Romania, Argentina… (the list could go on at some length; yes, the US and Britain belong there, by any meaningful definition of the word fascism).

  12. noahbrand says:

    my own standards can actually be lived up to.

    If you consider “screw you, Jack, I got mine” to be a standard worth living up to, then yes. Which I understand you do, and that’s fine. Considering that your philosophy has less predictive value than creationism, however, you have no right to expect that anyone treat it seriously or with respect. I would further add that coming onto a social justice blog and commenting specifically on a social justice post with your long-since-discredited philosophy that justice is impossible… well, obviously you knew going in that this was a bad idea.

  13. Chris says:

    Vejuz, I suspect “leverage” was just supposed to be “efficient”. But efficient is a problematic word to use for charity, because a lot of people still think that charity efficiency is measured by how much overhead a charity has, which is ridiculous — it should be measured by how much *good* the charity does, which is often not even particularly correlated with overhead. You can do something that doesn’t make any lives better than they were before with very little overhead.

    So I think Ozy was perhaps grasping for a word that means both efficient and morally-consequential, but there isn’t really a good one, and missed. 🙂

  14. Orphan says:

    Noah –

    I wrote no such thing about justice. I stated that the moral system which makes everybody into hypocrites is a treadmill of self-hatred that cannot be escaped.

    And if I were all about screwing Jack – I don’t know if I want to screw Jack or not, I don’t know him – I wouldn’t have posted that to begin with because it achieves nothing for me personally, according to your narrow definition of self interest. I want people to be happy in the way that I am happy. My life is brightened by my interactions with people. And it’s better still if they are happy people.

    Heck, if I were all about my narrowly defined self interests, I should -encourage- everybody to become Comtean altruists; then they’d spend all their efforts and energy to make -my- life better at their own expense.

    I wouldn’t wish such a morality on my worst enemy, if I really had enemies. I sure as heck hate to see people I respect engaging in such meaningless self-flogging.

  15. JutGory says:

    noahbrand: “I would further add that coming onto a social justice blog and commenting specifically on a social justice post with your long-since-discredited philosophy that justice is impossible… well, obviously you knew going in that this was a bad idea.”

    I don’t know that that is quite fair (leaving aside any criticisms of objectivism, which I don’t want to get into). I usually stay out of these social justice type discussions; I lurk here for “teh menz” issues. I don’t buy into the “patriarchy,” the “kyriarchy,” “privilege” and all of those vestiges of feminism. I can see how they can be useful ways of interpreting things. But, they are interpretations. They may not be any more real than Christian interpretations of things.

    But, Ozy has actually “picked that fight” with this post, so it is unfair of you to come in and say that this conversation should not be taking place here. Ozy is specifically contrasting the social justicey mind-set with the non-social justicey mind-set. Orphan is just taking Ozy up on that.

    I would do the same. But, I would look at the stoics: know what is in your control and what is not; if you only concern yourself with what is in your control, you will be at peace; if you try to control things that are outside your control, “you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will blame both gods and men.”

    Or, how about Pascal: the vast majority of suffering in the world is caused by man’s inability to sit quietly in his chamber and do nothing.

    Or, my own take on a classic: “the only thing necessary for good to flourish in the world is for evil people to do nothing.”

    Then, I look at all of the people outside trying to “do something.” A lot of them are social justicey types.

    I am not always convinced about which side they are on. But, I have no doubt that they are certain.

    -Jut

  16. dungone says:

    @Noah, I’m not going to touch on the Objectivism as I saw that as a largely unrelated piece of background information. And while there are many ways to criticize Objectivism, your responses to Orphan seem to be more on the ad hominem side (they burn strawmen for fuel!) than anything substantive.

    I agree with Orphan that philosophies that espouse unrealistic ideals are pointless. It’s kind of like anorexia for the soul – no matter how hard you try, you’re still one sad, evil little miscreant – and if you think otherwise then you’re not trying hard enough! That overall concept – that good is never good enough – it predates this blog post, predates the kyriarchal thinkers, it even predates feminists. Christians are really huge on it, although they didn’t invent it, either. In fact, most religions, cults, and even marketing firms use this as a way to control people, as a way of promoting further buy-in into a brand, culture, organization, or movement. Atheists have long noted how this sort of thought process is used by religion to push its followers into more and more extreme actions. It’s part of the reason why some people are able to willingly strap bombs to themselves and blow themselves up to prove their devotion to an imagined father figure.

  17. Noah, I am really jealous of your way with the snappy comebacks. 🙂

  18. noahbrand says:

    I stated that the moral system which makes everybody into hypocrites is a treadmill of self-hatred that cannot be escaped.

    Except of course that Ozy’s post is about the fact that it is not, in reality, such a treadmill. There is no self-hatred necessary. It is entirely possible to accept that we are flawed creatures in an unjust system, and work to make ourselves less flawed and the system less unjust, without self-hatred. Part of the key is simply the ability to understand the difference between lucky and worthy. I’ve got a relatively comfortable life in many respects, various forms of privilege which are pretty sweet, and (knock wood) my health. Had I been born a Sudanese peasant farmer, regardless of my personal qualities or virtues, I would be pretty much fucked. In short, I got lucky. There’s nothing morally wrong with catching some lucky breaks, just so long as you’re not that asshole who claims that his lucky breaks are the result of personal virtue, and anyone could catch them if they just were more virtuous. (Pious, hardworking, obedient… definitions of virtue change, but the bullshit remains pretty consistent.)

    For example, I was born able-bodied, apart from a nasty touch of colorblindness. Does this mean I have to hate myself because other folks are born with, say, cerebral palsy? In your understanding of my morality, yes it does. In practice, no. Ergo, your understanding is flawed. Likewise, I was born white and male in a society where that comes with some rather nice, even unfair, perks. Lucky fuckin’ break for me. Does this require self-hatred? In the understanding of most social justice critics, yes. In practice, no.

    I realize that “in practice” is a depressing phrase for libertarians, but it’s the one I have to keep coming back to. In the real world, your understanding of how things work simply doesn’t play out. In other words, kindly stop telling people what they believe, because you have adequately demonstrated that you do not know.

  19. Toysoldier says:

    Four points. One, Melissa McEwan beat you to the “Patriarchy is like the Matrix” meme years ago. Two, Ishida is mocking the absurdity of comparing women’s lives to the Matrix. Three, if you look at history, social changes come and go depending on the state of a given culture, not whether someone thinks they are in the “know.” Four, a hypocrite is a person who claims to hold a position they do not actually hold. By definition, if you have high moral standards and follow them, you could not be a hypocrite because you actually believe in and support the things you say and do.

    I will concede, however, that hypocrites have made great strides, and it is one the reasons why they keep seeing the world as being full of things to get mad at, and why these problems never get solved.

    But what I enjoy the most about people using the Matrix as a metaphor (beyond the utter silliness of it and people stopping at the first film when the other two films tell you that everything you were told in the first film was a lie or misdirection) is that no one actually learns the lesson of the Matrix: question everything, including what you think you know because, as my uncle would say, what you think you know and what there is to know are two different things.

  20. Orphan says:

    Daisy –

    I’ve already been warned about mocking people and treating them in poor faith, else I’d have responded in kind. Yes, Noah, that is a not-so-subtle hint to you about one of your posts.

    Noah –

    I’m not reading that in her final post. She’s being the person she wants to be, but it’s still a person who thinks of herself as a hypocrite, a person who in the end cannot live up to her own morality, and is going to suffer endless self-doubt as a result.

    And quit putting words in my mouth. Not only did I say nothing about justice, I also said nothing about the guilt of privilege. I am specifically speaking to the guilt that comes of a moral system whose standards cannot be lived up to.

    You want to argue with me, argue with me, not this idea of who I’m supposed to be. Argue with -my- arguments, not the arguments of some figment of your imagination. And you accused me of burning strawmen? Not once have you addressed anything I have -actually- written. Forget the not-so-subtle hints, where is the good faith in this argument? You’re arguing with an imaginary libertarian who you decided was wrong years before you even starting reading what I’m writing.

  21. dungone: I agree with Orphan that philosophies that espouse unrealistic ideals are pointless.

    But who decides what “unrealistic” is? People who already think unrealistic ideals are pointless? That’s sort of the problem.

    By deciding something is “unrealistic ideals”–you help to MAKE it more unrealistic by banishing it… like in the other thread where you say you don’t want feminists involved in atheism. You have decided they are “unrealistic” — so, end of discussion.

    I think atheism is as unreasonable as a long-term goal as you probably believe feminism is. But I do listen to what atheists have to say and hear them out fairly. In doing so, they might eventually change my mind. As I finally changed my mind about Christianity.

  22. Glove says:

    @ JutGory:
    “I don’t buy into the “patriarchy,” the “kyriarchy,” “privilege” and all of those vestiges of feminism. I can see how they can be useful ways of interpreting things. But, they are interpretations. They may not be any more real than Christian interpretations of things.”

    Patriarchy, I can see how ‘interpretation’ comes in, and you’re not the only one who doesn’t buy the term.

    Kyriarchy, isn’t necessarily a ‘vestige of feminism,’ but even if it is, are you saying you don’t buy the fact that there are interlocking wheels of oppression and domination in the world?

    And, furthermore, that ‘privilege’ is just an interpretation? Of what? That some people have advantages others don’t? I wonder where the leeway IS in that interpretation.

    How on earth is that related to Christianity?

  23. dungone says:

    But who decides what “unrealistic” is? People who already think unrealistic ideals are pointless? That’s sort of the problem.

    Nice way to try to sidestep the argument with a nonsense question. Who decides what the Tangent of pi/2 is? How big is infinity? What number is 1 divided by 0? I mean, seriously, if someone says that being good is never good enough then sure, you could very well ask who decides when never enough is unreachable enough to be unrealistic. Here’s a clue – never being good enough is unrealistic by definition.

  24. ozymandias42 says:

    My intention with the paragraphs about our side generally winning is less “it is inevitable” and more “it is possible.” I think one of the leading causes of activist burnout is looking at all the problems in the world and despairing of there ever being a solution. But there is a solution; people worked, and things got better. It can happen. 🙂

    Chris: Yep, that was what I was trying for. 🙂 Something with connotations of “many benefits for little money.”

    Orphan: “Guilt” is not involved in this at all, certainly not guilt for my entire society. I feel guilt is generally an unproductive emotion. There’s no point in self-flogging. Everyone is a hypocrite; there’s no point feeling guilty about it, any more than there is feeling guilty about breathing. I don’t choose self-delusion that I am a perfect utilitarian, and I don’t choose giving up my values of the greatest good for the greatest number; instead I choose honesty and self-improvement and compassion, for myself and others.

    This is my morality, on its most basic level: people are hurting, and I want to ease their pain. I can’t make everyone happy and smart and free, but I can make the world a little better place for my existence, and that’s something worth working for.

    I find reading comments on news stories annoying because people are stupid, and you cannot actually whap people with a stick until they stop being stupid, as satisfying as that would be.

    The USA is a fascist country? Really? There seems to be a distinct lack of people getting tossed into ovens, which is generally what one would call a decent sign of the whole “fascism” business.

    Toysoldier: Well, there’s a reason no one watches the second two Matrix movies! They suck. And I do question things quite regularly. I wandered through four religions by the time I was eighteen. My opinions on gender are far more nuanced than they were even a year ago. I am not sure what this has to do with my post, though.

  25. Matt Warren says:

    This is a well articulated set of statements that I identify with. Since I can’t add anything, I guess I’m left with signaling. Sorry. It’s just very easy to be overwhelmed by the world and feel quite alone and in pain.

  26. dungone says:

    The USA is a fascist country? Really? There seems to be a distinct lack of people getting tossed into ovens, which is generally what one would call a decent sign of the whole “fascism” business.

    Ozy, oh boy… I’m sorry. But Fascism, in a nutshell, is a form of governance where corporate and religious interests collude with each other and take control of national policy. Italy was also fascist, so was Spain, even though they’re not notorious for genocide.

    Here’s an interesting link about characteristics of a Fascist regime. See how many the USA fits into: http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm

  27. ozymandias42 says:

    Dungone: I’d consider myself reasonably well-informed about fascism; I was just prioritizing snark over engagement with the argument that the US is a fascist country, because, for fuck’s sake, the US is not a fucking fascist country in any meaningful sense of the term. We have certain protofascist movements in our political system, but (e.g.) the existence of Occupy Wall Street argues against the idea that we are fully fascist.

  28. elementary_watson says:

    @ozy: I guess Toysoldier has had some experiences with people who are like “I have seen the Matrix! I am enlightened! I know what’s real and what’s not, and if you disagree, you are either a) blind or b) malicious. Either way, if you’re not one of us, you are one of the systems agents and therefore, even if unwillingly, an enemy.” (Note that the last point was explicitly made in the “woman in red” training sequence scene in the first movie.)

    Cue shootout in the hotel lobby 😉

    Seriously though, the Matrix metaphor is extremely problematic IMO, as in the movie universe

    – recognizing the Matrix for what it is is the final point of understanding and one doesn’t have to question anything anymore (if one ignores the sequels, an attitude I wholeheartedly support);
    – discovering the nature of the Matrix is beyond the limits of rational thought (you need to take a leap of faith to see it, which isn’t true about the gender wage gap or the gender sentencing gap);
    – everything inside the Matrix is de facto unreal (yeah, people die in the real world if they die in the Matrix, but the heroes consistently ignore this), which goes into “social constructs aren’t real” territory you argued against in your last post;
    – the Matrix was intentionally designed and is under the complete control (except for the enlightened ones) of The Enemy; kyriarchy however is *not* the result of a conspiracy of rich white straight cis males who hold weekly meetings on how to keep down everyone else while twirling their moustaches.

    The statements “you do not see several injustices because you’ve been brought up to believe they are just the way things are” and “this whole world is just a simulation of reality, designed to to lull you into complacency while your life energy is exploited” are decidedly un-equivalent; one engenders rational debate, the other encourages paranoia.

  29. Orphan says:

    ozymandias –

    Occupy Wall Street is one charismatic leader away from the prototypical fascist movement, right down to its primarily middle class supporters. They’re the fascists; what you call protofascists are just racists. Italy never killed any Jews, and worked pretty hard to protect Jews (and other Nazi-classified undesirables) within their borders from Germany, even after the Germans invaded them. Fascist isn’t meaningful only when described social authoritarians or Jew-burning jerks; it was first and foremost an economic movement which held that capitalism had failed and that communism was no alternative, and was seeking a third path between the two, emphasizing centralized government control over the more powerful economic and industrial interests. That’s what it campaigned on, in a world where the global economies were devastated by depression, and that’s what it won on.

    The social policies are remembered most, but they were really the least significant part of the political movements, and were primarily byproducts of centralized government authority in the hands of the societies that existed at the time. People heap criticisms upon fascism that were true of -every- government at the time, such as sexism, racism, and patriotism. (It also wasn’t a religious movement.)

    If you’re okay with hypocrisy in your moral framework, you’d be the first person I’ve met. But if it works for you, it works for you, and I won’t knock it.

  30. AnonymousDog says:

    Ozymandias,

    I suggest you read up on fascism, real historical fascism and not get your ideas of what it is from Hollywood. Fascism is not about flags, uniforms and arm bands, or for that matter, about throwing people into ovens. It was also not about business and religion taking over the government, just the opposite, it was(is) about the state taking over business and religion for its own purposes.
    Fascism was about society/the State acting in all areas of of human existence for the “common good”, without trivialities like old-fashioned constitutionalism,rule of law, individual rights, free discourse and dissent, getting in the way. Fascism was about egalitarianism and the primacy of the whole body of society over the individual, for his/her own good as well as that of society as a whole. ( The term “corporatism” often used in connection with fascism refers to the “body” of society as a whole, not limited liability joint stock companies, which is why I’ve avoided the term) As Mussolini said “Everything within the State, nothing outside the State.”

    If you take away the militarism, the racism, the thuggery, and the uniforms, armbands, and flags, fascism is pretty much like good old American progressivism. Mussolini admired American progressives like Herbert Croly and Woodrow Wilson. Up until WWII, many New Dealers openly admired Mussolini.

  31. AnonymousDog says:

    And I have to question whether *we* are more free than the people who lived in medieval Europe. Are we really more free, or are we just being oppressed in new and different ways?
    The expansion of the vote has been accompanied by government becoming more centralized, less responsive, and more and more controlled by administrative “experts” who are not responsible to the voters. More people can vote, but everyone’s vote means less.

  32. ozymandias42 says:

    Perhaps “protofascist undercurrents” would have been a better phrase than “protofascist movements”: for instance, contempt for intellectuals (especially scientists) and many people treating any infringement of civil liberties as okay as long as the word “terrorist” is invoked at some point.

    I am not sure how a leaderless, consensus-based movement that recently had a giant shitstorm over appointing a spokescouncil is high-risk for turning into a fascist movement.

  33. BlackHumor says:

    @Toysoldier: “Two, Ishida is mocking the absurdity of comparing women’s lives to the Matrix. ”

    Wut? From the comics after it and the tone of that specific comic he definitely is not.

    In fact from the green text in the Matrix panels, and some other comics, Ishida seems to be fairly well informed about feminist theory.

    But I really don’t get how you think he’s mocking it. The only possible explanations I can see are either you read the first comics in the SIsterhood series without following through, or else you’re so enamored of your own opinions you’re imagining that everyone holds them.

    —-
    Back to the OP, great post Ozy!

  34. ozymandias42 says:

    …I am really, really not sure how, even if we have experts running things, democracy is less free than fucking feudalism.

  35. BlackHumor says:

    @watson: All your criticisms are correct, but no metaphor is perfect.

    I think the similarity of “unseen but ever-present bad thing” is enough to make the metaphor useful. Yes it does break pretty badly if you try to draw equivalents to every detail of the movie; however, any other metaphor will also do that because no two things are ever EXACTLY like each other without being actually identical.

    —-
    Also, the US is very clearly not fascist. It’s not as democratic either as we would like to be or as it advertises itself to be, but it’s still very much democratic and cares about individual liberty to a great degree. Greater than any time in history, in fact.

    That it’s not PERFECT is no reason to declare it horrible.

  36. balconyscene says:

    Actually, there is good reason to believe that people ‘look for reasons to get angry’

    http://www.cracked.com/article/85_6-bullshit-facts-about-psychology-that-everyone-believes/

    “Expressing your anger, even against inanimate objects, doesn’t make you less angry at all. In fact, it actually makes you want to get pissed off. Imagine if Bruce Banner walked around all day looking for an excuse to hulk-out, but replace the embarrassing shredded pants with friends and loved ones who are legitimately terrified every time his favorite sports team loses.”

  37. Leo Salloum says:

    @Orphan — I want to jump on this idea of ‘guilt’ a little because I think it’s something that social-justice types get tarred with a lot. Ozy already pointed out that she considers it useless, but I think that it is actually a slander that is just as damaging as the “social justice types are looking for things to be angry about” one that was addressed in the OP.

    There is no need to feel any guilt for the fact that certain benefits accrue that are not earned. I’ll take actual money as an example here, for clarity. Imagine please that person A has inherited a very large sum of money.

    Under certain modern modes of thought, person A has basically two options: Person A could feel guilty about the money because it was not earned, or person A could try to justify the fact that the money is in fact owed to him according to some twisted logic (for example, that his father deserved the money, and because the father deserved to have a comfortable heirs, there is some commutative merit principle at work). The second type of thought is also legitimately motivated by something that could be called ‘guilt’, but it’s a sort of second-order, highly-defensive type of guilt. I must put your beloved objectivism in this latter category — the fact that objectivists claim so vociferously not to feel guilty is kind of a dead giveaway.

    A lot of us on the social justice side don’t bother with either of these guilt-motivated ways of thinking. If instead of noting that person A has not earned the money, we focus on what person A does with the money, we get closer to a social justice mode of thought. I think the OP points to the idea that person A does not need to give away all of the money. Giving away some of the money is better than giving away none of the money, and giving it to a good cause is better than giving it to a bad cause. None of this is guilt-motivated.

    The reason to focus on injustice is not guilt-related either. It is a method of distinguishing between good causes and bad causes, on the assumption that person A has decided to give away at least some of the money.

    Now, we don’t all inherit money, but we do all inherit something. Person B may have influence due to family connections. Person C may have been brought up speaking English, which is a more influential method of communicating than other languages are. Person D might be charged with the responsibility of raising a younger sibling (thereby providing that sibling — Person E — with another set of unearned benefits). There is no person Z who need not be thinking about what types of injustice are addressable by the specific resources at his or her disposal.

    I noted early on that the idea that money should be earned, and that unearned money is a source of guilt is a modern mode of thought. It is; there was never this idea in pre-modern times. The idea rests on a thesis that under ideal circumstances wealth and virtue (whether virtue here reflects intelligence, hard work, or whatever) should be correlated.

    The connection between wealth and virtue is both a reaction to and an offshoot of an earlier idea: the thesis that the nobility is chosen by god. By focusing on material wealth, the ‘wealth as virtue’ notion was countered the ‘inherited title as virtue’ notion by making the wealthy merchant more ‘chosen’ than the profligate prince. Back when there were princes, this idea was a highly powerful source of social justice itself. It was even an animating force behind first and second-wave feminism (the wealth-as-virtue thesis carries the corollary that if women can work hard, they should be paid as much as men).

    A social justice idea that moves beyond the wealth-as-virtue system, which I would argue is a necessary step at this point, has no reason to associate ‘privilege’ with ‘guilt’. Since the social association of merit with benefit is not inevitable (in fact, it is only a few hundred years old), it is entirely reasonable for social-justice types to identify privilege, attempt to address the consequences of privilege, and not necessarily feel guilty about privilege.

    Wow, that was a bit long-winded. Sorry.

  38. I really loved and agreed with this post, Ozy! So, typically, I’m going to comment by focusing on the one sentence I disagreed with.

    If you look at it, at the wide span of history– since the Enlightenment, we have ended every century freer and more equal than we started out.

    I really don’t think that’s defensible. The Enlightenment ended around 1700. Just looking at what happened in the US, the massive die-off of American Indians happened in the century following the Enlightenment, as did the enormous growth of the slave trade to north America. So that’s a whole bunch of people who didn’t end the century following the Enlightenment freer and more equal.

    I do agree that on the whole, the world is freer and more equal now than it was in 1700.

  39. ozymandias42 says:

    Barry: Stop getting your facts in the way of my rhetorical point. 🙂

    balconyscene: I am not saying that there aren’t social-justice-type people like that (I’ve met quite a few), but in my experience far more common is the negotiation and compromise between ethics and practicality.

  40. Jay Generally says:

    Er, Barry, was ‘1700’ a typo? That’s actually closer to when the Enlightenment began than ended.

  41. elementary_watson says:

    BlackHumor: I admit having been a bit nitpicky, but a) I have seen the metaphor being taken far beyond its breaking point in earnest, and b) the metaphor falls apart at the most central conceit: “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself”, marking the Matrix as beyond the realm of reason.

    I don’t think it’s helpful to compare something as describable, analyzable and ultimately understandable as kyriarchy with something as intrinsically enshrined in mysticism and obscurism as The Matrix is (in-universe). There *are* people whose belief in oppression analysis has taken religious “true believers” qualities, and the Matrix comparison supports such a religious-like devotion to those ideas rather than rationally dealing with them.

  42. Er, Barry, was ’1700′ a typo? That’s actually closer to when the Enlightenment began than ended.

    I’d like it if it had been a typo, but the sad truth was it was just me not remembering when the Enlightenment took place. :-p

  43. AnonymousDog says:

    Ozy,

    Those two paragraphs weren’t meant to be connected.
    1 How much of the perceived improvement since the Enlightenment is the result of our own belief that *we* are necessarily more just, humane, righteous, etc., etc., than our ancestors? If we put our faith in “progress” are we not biased toward seeing an improvement?

    2 American democracy has become less meaningful in the last century due to the growth of the Administrative State. The voters, as a group, however constituted, have less control over the machinery of government than the voters, as a group, did in the 19th century. The fact that a greater percentage of the population can vote doesn’t mean that the voters, as a group, haven’t lost power.

  44. davenj says:

    “I agree with Orphan that philosophies that espouse unrealistic ideals are pointless. It’s kind of like anorexia for the soul – no matter how hard you try, you’re still one sad, evil little miscreant – and if you think otherwise then you’re not trying hard enough!”

    a. The “unrealistic” thing has been addressed, but it’s worth noting that our contemporary moral standards were, at one time, viewed as being wholly unrealistic. This applies to many things, from slavery to the rights of women. Many people considered it unrealistic to hold a society to the standard of not allowing legal slavery. The core problem is that this definition of “unrealistic” is incredibly personal, and therefore isn’t applicable. You call someone else’s moral standard “unrealistic”. They disagree. Who is right?

    b. Beyond that obvious fallacy, the notion that those ideals are pointless is not substantiated, either. Comparing one’s perception of morality to anorexia is an invalid comparison. You’re operating on the presumption that feeling like one has not achieved the level of morality they aspire to is a bad thing. Why? It presumes that self-satisfaction is an overall good, when in many cases this is not so.

    Feeling that one is imperfect is not pointless. There are many valuable things that knowledge of one’s imperfections can yield, and as such it is far from pointless to acknowledge this.

  45. BlackHumor says:

    “Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself”, marking the Matrix as beyond the realm of reason.

    I don’t think it’s helpful to compare something as describable, analyzable and ultimately understandable as kyriarchy with something as intrinsically enshrined in mysticism and obscurism as The Matrix is (in-universe).

    I’ve never actually seen the Matrix as “beyond the realm of reason” or “enshrined in mysticism”. The Matrix is very much within the realm of reason; once you see the evidence for it it’s very clear that it exists. The only problem is that most people are blind to the evidence.

    Which was the whole point of the Allegory of the Cave that the movie was based on; even if what the senses see is an illusion, reason and intelligence can allow one to jump past them and gain knowledge of the world as it really is. THAT’S pretty much bunk, of course, but it’s not contrary to reason by any means.

  46. Jay Generally says:

    Sorry. 🙂

    But It’s sad that your statement holds true regardless of which century you meant. 😦 I thought you were talking about the post 1800 ‘Manifest Destiny,’ justification of the anti Native American efforts. And despite the fact that the 19th century marked the end of slavery, there were much, much higher numbers of slaves and internal slave trading dealt with in the first 65 years of that century that the previous 180 some-odd years of American/British-Colonial slavery.

  47. Charlie Goodnight says:

    Excellent post, thanks Ozy! “loving yourself is a radical act”… hell yes! I’d go even further: in this culture, loving is the MOST radical act a person can do. Because love, and loving well, is one thing kyriarchal culture can’t tolerate, the one thing that will, therefore, eventually bring it down.

  48. Toysoldier says:

    Ozy: The connection is that you appear to assume you know “The Truth” and do not entertain the chance that what you think you know could be wrong. That is dogma, and it ironically creates the very “system” social activists fight against. The world is actually more nuanced than the us versus them dichotomy that your post argues.

    elementary_watson: People who use the Matrix as a metaphor tend to argue “I have seen the Matrix! I am enlightened! I know what’s real and what’s not, and if you disagree, you are either a) blind or b) malicious.” It would take humility of levels unknown for someone to use the Matrix as a metaphor and include themselves as not in the know or acknowledge the film’s actual message instead of just cookie-cutting what works with their preconceived ideas. As for the problems with the metaphor, the biggest problem is the first one you mentioned. Once you see that what you thought was true was actually false, you should always question whether what you think you know is the total truth. Every philosophy and religion that inspired the films argues that, yet many who use the films as a metaphor fail to catch that.

    BlackHumor: If you read the whole series, it is clear that he is poking fun at feminists.

  49. Levi Ramsey says:

    I was thinking of linking this earlier, but since the debate has kind of moved in that direction (and I spent a good portion of the day mulling this over)…

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that

    If you look at it, at the wide span of history– since the Enlightenment, we have ended every century freer and more equal than we started out.

    and resist the temptation to hail to a past era that was more just, because claiming that a given era was more just and that we’ve fallen from grace almost surely implies that you’re erasing a whole lot of injustice (perhaps doing so from a place of privilege). I’ve seen some proclaiming that social progress needs to look to the 1950s, generally because a not-relatively well-educated white man could make enough for a pretty decent standard of living, when I’d say it’s fairly apparent that it was things like keeping women out of the workforce and blacks, latinos, and other minorities out of a whole lot of professions; Noah’s observation from a while back that a lot of that was enabled by WWII’s destruction (and the concomitant bloodshed) in Europe I think also makes that line of argument highly questionable.

    While many would argue that he’s not speaking from anything that can be called a social justice position, David Boaz from Cato makes a similar point to Ozy:


    If we look at the long term — from a past that includes despotism, feudalism, absolutism, fascism, and communism — we’re clearly better off. When we look at our own country’s history — contrasting 2010 with 1776 or 1910 or 1950 or whatever — the story is less clear. We suffer under a lot of regulations and restrictions that our ancestors didn’t face.

    But in 1776 black Americans were held in chattel slavery, and married women had no legal existence except as agents of their husbands. In 1910 and even 1950, blacks still suffered under the legal bonds of Jim Crow — and we all faced confiscatory tax rates throughout the postwar period.

    I am particularly struck by libertarians and conservatives who celebrate the freedom of early America, and deplore our decline from those halcyon days, without bothering to mention the existence of slavery. Take R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr…. I take it Mr. Tyrrell dreams of being a slave-owner. Because as he certainly knows, most of the people in those tobacco fields were slaves.

    Take a more recent example, from a libertarian. Jacob Hornberger of the Future of Freedom Foundation writes about the decline of freedom in America… But wait. Did “early Americans consider themselves free”? White Americans probably did. But what about black Americans, and especially the 90 percent of black Americans who were slaves? Slaves made up about 19 percent of the American population from 1790 to 1810, dropping to 14 percent by 1860. (In that period the number of slaves grew from 700,000 to about 4 million, but the rest of the population was growing even more rapidly.) Did Mr. Hornberger really forget that 4 million Americans were held in bondage when he waxed eloquent about how free America was until the late 19th century? I know he isn’t indifferent to the crime of slavery. But too many of us who extol the Founders and deplore the growth of the American state forget that that state held millions of people in chains. (I note that I’m not concerned here with self-proclaimed libertarians who join neo-Confederate organizations or claim that southerners established a new country and fought a devastating war for some reason other than the slavery on which their social and economic system rested; I just want to address libertarians who hate slavery but seem to overlook its magnitude in their historical analysis.)

    If you had to choose, would you rather live in a country with a department of labor and even an income tax or a Dred Scott decision and a Fugitive Slave Act?

    I said that white Americans probably considered themselves free. But in retrospect, were they? They did not actually live in a free society. They were restricted in the relations they could have with millions of their — I started to say “their fellow citizens,” but of course slaves weren’t citizens — their neighbors. They lived under a despotic power. Liberalism seeks not just to liberate this or that person, but to create a rule of law exemplifying equal freedom. By that standard, even the plantation owners did not live in a free society, nor even did people in the “free” states.

    Hornberger goes on… And again I say, when he says “our American ancestors,” he’s thinking only of our white ancestors. Maybe only of our white male ancestors. Maybe even only of our white male property-owning ancestors. Many millions of Americans would read these paragraphs and say, “My ancestors didn’t have the right to worship in their own way. My ancestors didn’t have the right to keep and bear arms. My ancestors didn’t have the protection of centuries-old legal procedures. My ancestors sure as heck didn’t have the right to keep what they produced, or to pursue an occupation of their choice, or to enter into mutually beneficial trades. In fact, my ancestors didn’t even have the minimal right of ‘the absence of physical constraint.'”

    I’ve probably been guilty of similar thoughtless and ahistorical exhortations of our glorious libertarian past. And I’m entirely in sympathy with Hornberger’s preference for a world without an alphabet soup of federal agencies, transfer programs, drug laws, and so on. But I think this historical perspective is wrong….

    [I]t’s not just a strategic mistake. It’s a mistake. Whether we were more free at some point in the past than we are now is a complicated issue. I would tend to argue that we were not. But at least it’s a difficult issue.

  50. Ella says:

    @BlackHumour, I was under the impression that The Matrix was based on Simulacra and Simulations by Baudrillard? The entire cast was required to read it before they started filming.

    The reason you can’t see the matrix is because the matrix is not the real. The real does not exist; everything is the hyperreal.

    Or something. I’ve tried reading that book five times and never understood it properly.

  51. Ella says:

    also, the Hyperreal is more real than The Real. You know, just in case it wasn’t confusing enough.

  52. Titfortat says:

    As far as being better off, is it even possible to make the comparison if, lets say, the comparison was before agriculture was invented? The only matrix is the one that we are born in, live in, and then die in, culturally speaking that is.

  53. dungone says:

    @davenj, I will point out that there is a qualitative difference between speculating about a fixed goal versus a moving target. People have abolished slavery, even though it took a bloody Civil War. “Realistic” had a very well-defined context in that scenario. But if you have a very open-ended commitment to a shifting set of goals that can never be satisfied, then you end up like Jain followers who resort to sweeping the path ahead of them to avoid hurting other life forms. The question of how we judge who is right comes down to the person who is grounded in a set of standards that both parties can actually measure. The “social-justice-y” person who allows themselves to constantly shift goal posts ends up running into the risk of being flaky and judgmental as far as other people are concerned. They might look see themselves as pushing ever-further towards new frontiers, but chances are that they’re missing the forest for the trees. At least that has been my recurring experience with social-justice-y people in general.

    Regarding b., where you think there’s a fallacy, I can only guess.

  54. dungone says:

    Comparing one’s perception of morality to anorexia is an invalid comparison. You’re operating on the presumption that feeling like one has not achieved the level of morality they aspire to is a bad thing. Why? It presumes that self-satisfaction is an overall good, when in many cases this is not so.

    You haven’t shown that it’s an invalid comparison. But for the record, I have seen plenty of brave souls who tried to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders only to burn out a few years into their early 20’s and end up completely disillusioned. In some cases, it’s such an obsession that they can’t make simple decisions without running it through a social-justice monologue, past the point where it’s clearly stressing them out and making them miserable.

  55. Fnord says:

    I don’t have ethics because they make me feel good, I have ethics in order to do the right thing. So saying that an ethical system is inferior because it fails to provide an easy way to fulfillment is a non sequitur. If it were acceptable to pick ethics based on convenience, why stop at Objectivist non-aggression? True amoral selfishness would be even more convenient.

    But, you know what, it’s actually possible to notice things that are wrong without being soul-crushed by them, which is sort of Ozy’s point. I’m capable of doing good when I can, and still feeling good about myself even when there is plainly much good left to be done. Because I have a sense of self-worth, in addition to ethics.

  56. ozymandias42 says:

    Dungone: Ah, good, then, you agree with me about the importance of doing what you can instead of doing ALL THE THINGS. 🙂

  57. BlackHumor says:

    @toysoldier: This is very off topic, so I’m gonna post my response in the Open Thread.

  58. davenj says:

    @dungone “The “social-justice-y” person who allows themselves to constantly shift goal posts ends up running into the risk of being flaky and judgmental as far as other people are concerned.”

    Certainly, but this is not the same thing as having high standards. Rather, it’s an issue of having variable standards, which is not the same at all. Shifting the goalposts can happen with or without high standards. It’s not a valid criticism of the principle of social justice, but rather that of some of its adherents.

    Shifting morality has its risks, but so does a fixed moral code that is not subject to moving its goalposts in the slightest, as those codes can become subject to blind spots or flawed perceptions.

    Also, I need a definition of “chances are”. Were abolitionists missing the forest for the trees? Gay rights activists? Anti-global climate change activists?

    The anorexia comparison is invalid because, whereas subjecting one’s self to insufficient nutritional intake is bad for everyone, subjecting one’s self to high moral standards has no fixed pattern of self-harm. As such, the comparison does not make sense. Many people subject themselves to moral standards that they know they will not always meet, and yet are not harmed in the process, but rather derive benefits. The same cannot be said for anorexia. Comparing a behavior that is always harmful with one that is, in many cases, not harmful but rather beneficial, is invalid.

    Your critique is with obsession with and defeatism in the face of high moral standards, not the standards themselves. As such, the “realistic/unrealistic” issue is tangential.

  59. Vejuz says:

    The metaphor I like to use is that ideals are both a compass and a map – they allow us to plot our course and set our destination. Living with your ideals is like actually walking the path towards what you see on the map.

    On another note, “do what you can” is such a refreshing message, one that is rare is just about all social justice circles. The attitude tends to be “You are bad and you should feel bad until ALL THE THINGS have been corrected or enacted.” It’s a good message for the broad audience too, because comparatively view people have the stamina or inclination to constantly make large, loud and broadly noticeable bits of activism. The small stuff helps too. In fact, in my experience, the small stuff is what makes people rethink their stance on things they have shunned before…and that is incredibly valuable to a movement.

  60. debaser71 says:

    Regarding the OP.

    “The kyriarchy…” Sorry. That concept I do not accept as valid. IMO social hierarchies are context dependent.

    “Non-social-justice-y people notice social-justice-y people getting mad at all sorts of things they don’t get mad at, and assume that the social-justice-y people are just looking for stuff to get mad at, presumably because they enjoy getting angry a lot.”

    Please realize that you are also making an assumption about “non-social-justice-y” people.

    As you see, I stumble right out of the blocks. (lol a track reference)

  61. Vejuz says:

    “The kyriarchy…” Sorry. That concept I do not accept as valid. IMO social hierarchies are context dependent.

    The kyriarchy is context dependent. At least, the way it has been defined and used on this blog is. I’ll agree that the original structure of kyriarchy coined by Elisabeth Fiorenza is basically just Patriarchy over-simplification and erasure of so-called “Oppressor Class” people’s experiences expanded to every -ism. I find it problematic but that is not how it is being used by the bloggers here.

    As the 101 puts it: “A kyriarchy is basically the term for everyone oppressing everyone else.”

  62. ozymandias42 says:

    Debaser: No offense, but if you don’t believe in the concept of the kyriarchy, which is one of the basic premises of this essay, why are you reading this particular series? There is a whole Internet of stuff that is more in line with your theoretical ideas.

    And non-social-justice-y people keep telling me I am looking for things to get mad about, and I hear this from other people regularly, so I presume it is a reasonably common belief. 🙂

  63. debaser71 says:

    Well from what I read here and on other blogs, including ff101, I still reject the concept of kyriarchy. And my point really is that I stumble in the first three sentences of the OP. And it’s not just semantics, tone, or language. It’s the content; mainly in the form of unqualified* assumptions.

    * in the definition2 sense of the word: “not modified or restricted by reservations”.

  64. debaser71 says:

    Ozy asked, “Debaser: No offense, but if you don’t believe in the concept of the kyriarchy, which is one of the basic premises of this essay, why are you reading this particular series?”

    I’ll just point out my comment to Ozy’s last post in “this particular series”.

    “I do not want to restate all that I’ve already said but I will say that Ozy’s OP is definitely on the right track.” https://noseriouslywhatabouttehmenz.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/social-justice-101-part-ozy-has-lost-count-social-construction/#comment-19256

    So in addition to not “believing” in the kyriarchy, I reject the notion that I must either agree 100% with someone or reject what they have to say 100% of the time. That, sorry, is black and white thinking. Again, I stumble.

  65. dungone says:

    @Ozy, yeah, no… I agree with you, at least the beginning part about not burning yourself out. I guess I was just hopelessly nitpicking and in a way guilty of that same sort of burnout inducing level of whatever it is. So I re-read your OP. I think I was bouncing off what some of the other comments had said. Then again, somehow I get the feeling like you might be shooting with more than one barrel here, and I’m not exactly sure why that is yet. I will say this – not placing the whole world on one’s shoulders doesn’t make one a hypocrite at all.

    I will also say that there are a couple. People

    @davenj, back to the nitpicking for a moment – some agreement with you there. I’m not sure if we’re talking about the same things in every spot, though.

    Also, I need a definition of “chances are”. Were abolitionists missing the forest for the trees? Gay rights activists? Anti-global climate change activists?

    Off the top of my head I can think of a few ways, yes. Abolitionists who were also Suffragists had, at certain times, completely derailed and almost wrecked entire conventions by demanding for it to be a venue to secure women’s equal rights as well. While I think that’s wonderful, it’s also true that at the outset of the Civil War some women of that era would put on their Sunday best and go spectate on the battlefield. Hmmm… then there’s PETA. As for Global Warming, I concur with Al Gore who had mentioned the way early activists would turn people off

  66. davenj says:

    @dungone “Abolitionists who were also Suffragists had, at certain times, completely derailed and almost wrecked entire conventions by demanding for it to be a venue to secure women’s equal rights as well. While I think that’s wonderful, it’s also true that at the outset of the Civil War some women of that era would put on their Sunday best and go spectate on the battlefield.”

    All of which is intriguing, but what does this have to do with “missing the forest for the trees”?

    Suffragists were right. It’s a sad truth that abolition only conferred voting rights to half of the freed slave population.

    It’s also true that sexism in regard to military roles/performing masculinity existed then and exists now. That’s not missing the forest for the trees, but rather a moral failing.

    I understand that some social justice activists put people off for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t make them wrong, though.

  67. Lots of good stuff here–

    I think part of it is that it seems to me that some versions of social justice do impose obligations to control everyone else if they aren’t living up to ill-defined standards.

    After all, asking for defined standards is an unfair imposition– you should be in the position of a black person figuring out how to not offend violent white people. I might still be a little angry about RaceFail, but I’m willing to entertain the possibility that it was an unusually nasty version of social justice.

    I’ve also seen a “here’s a real buzz kill” link– it turned out to be about the French government not letting black Algerian soldiers in on the WWII victory march, I think, and I did feel collapsed as a result of reading it. After all, I identify as white, and the French government (before I was born) was treating black people badly.

    One piece of the situation is that people don’t go into social justice as blank slates. If you have a habit of abusing people, it’s not going to go away just because you’re getting into idealistic politics, and neither is a habit of self-hatred.

    I’m inclined to think that we’ve inherited a very bad concept of virtue– it’s problematic that in art the bad guys are typically more interesting than the good guys. I think virtue is conceived of as perfection and passivity.

    There’s a quote from Rand to the effect that if people are told that what they need to live is evil, they’ll end up embracing actual evils.

    Bruce Sterling talked about the problem of competing with your dead great-grandfather for ecological virtue. After all, the dead great-grandfather is using less electricity than you are.

    You can’t live without increasing entropy.

    There seems to be a small academic specialty of figuring out how to define fascism— my favorite definition is that it’s authoritarian government based on a concept of national purification. However, this may be a matter of taste.

    I don’t think America is likely to go fascist in that sense, though it could become (more) dangerously authoritarian. I think we’re too ornery, hedonistic, and ideologically divided to embrace any single fantasy of purification.

    As for Sinfest, I think Ishida has a preference for kindness, but he plays with religions and ideologies. My impression (I haven’t been following the comic lately) is that he thinks both that there’s substantial truth in feminism and that no single ideology can keep from being at least a little silly.

  68. Eneya says:

    Mmm, I didn’t fully cath the Sinfest comment.
    I didn’t get it, care to elaborate please?

    I am truly interested in the spin the comic is currently having and want to know what else he is going to comment. Because so far, nothing horrible had been said… or am I missing something?

  69. The_L's Wii (computer experiencing technical difficulties) says:

    OK, jumping in here. Let’s see how much I can say in how little without stepping on toes:

    Re: The Matrix, the point is that until you realize there is injustice, you don’t really see the injustice. Once you realize that injustice exists in one area, you start noticing it everywhere. (Similarly, pre-awakened Mr. Anderson didn’t know he was in a computer program, so he saw no evidence. The awakened Neo at the end sees computer code everywhere.) THAT is the point of the metaphor. Can we stop bringing it up now?

    Re: objectivism…I’m sorry, but I can’t get past the Bob the Angry Flower comic “Atlas Shrugged 2” on this one. Objectivism as I have encountered it seems to be a form of social Darwinism, and I just can’t get behind that.

    Re: guilt, I once felt extreme guilt over being Not Good Enough by Catholic standards, to the point of suicidal depression. I don’t feel that way anymore, because I have learned the difference between “creating a net effect of good” and “fixing everything/being perfect.” It is impossible for any one person to fix everything that is conceivably fixable in this world. That’s not the point of social-justice movements. The point is, simply, to make the world a better place than it was yesterday. As Ozy put it, doing what you can instead of trying to do ALL THE THINGS. (Kudos for the Hyperbole and a Half reference, btw.)

  70. JutGory says:

    Glove: “are you saying you don’t buy the fact that there are interlocking wheels of oppression and domination in the world?”

    “Interlocking wheels of oppression and domination”? Really? I think you have given Ozy the answer. If that is your mindset, if that is the lens through which you view the world, it is no wonder you would end up miserable.

    But, to answer your question, no. The kyriarchy is no more a “fact” than Adam Smith’s “invisible hand.” You do believe in the “invisible hand,” right? Both are ways to understand how order is created out of chaos. As elementary_watson said, “kyriarchy however is *not* the result of a conspiracy of rich white straight cis males who hold weekly meetings on how to keep down everyone else while twirling their moustaches.” It is a description of patterns that arise when members of society interact, just as Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” was a description about how economic trends seem to arise when lots of independent agents make little decisions according to their own self-interest.

    Glove: “And, furthermore, that ‘privilege’ is just an interpretation? Of what? That some people have advantages others don’t? I wonder where the leeway IS in that interpretation.”

    Privilege is just a way of describing the fact that people have blind spots and presumptions about the world. Viewing it in its most positive sense, it is a concept that can aid one in self-reflection in order to gain empathy and a better understanding of other people. In its most negative sense, it is a tool of those interlocking wheels of oppression and domination whereby the oppressed seeks to become the oppressor. I think Nietzsche described that sort of process in the Geneaology of Morals.

    As for the relation to Christianity, some people try to interpret events in the world through their religious lens. For example, Hurricane Katrina or AIDS are signals of God’s wrath. I don’t buy it. Do you. I also don’t buy that Bush’s slow response to Hurricane Katrina was because he did not care about black people or that Reagan was slow to respond to AIDS because he hated gays. But, if you look at it through the lens of the kyriarchy, it makes perfect sense.

    -Jut

  71. If that is your mindset, if that is the lens through which you view the world, it is no wonder you would end up miserable.

    You know, this “people who disagree with me politically are miserable and burdened with horrible guilt, regardless of if they think they’re pretty happy” mindset — which we’ve seen from a few folks on this thread — is genuinely ridiculous.

  72. JutGory says:

    Barry Deutsch: “You know, this “people who disagree with me politically are miserable and burdened with horrible guilt, regardless of if they think they’re pretty happy” mindset — which we’ve seen from a few folks on this thread — is genuinely ridiculous.”

    Agreed. Good thing I did not say that.

    Ozy’s point was about how difficult it can be to not get angry all the time when there is injustice all over the place. It can burn you out. So, Ozy cheats, because Ozy “can’t fight everything that deserves to be fought as hard as it deserves to be fought.” I am not saying Ozy is miserable.

    My comment had to do with looking at the kyriarchy as interlocking wheels of oppression and domination, as Glove described it. That could be a pretty depressing view of the world, couldn’t it? That might be enough to make you angry a lot, no? It does not have to, but it could.

    But, I made no comments about people who disagree with me politically. In fact, if you will note, I commented on the mind-set of progressives and conservative Christian in looking at Katrina and AIDS. Both of those perspectives paint an unpleasant view of the world (whether it be God’s wrath or interlocking wheels of oppression and domination). Both sides can have a tendency to do that, but I don’t think they are necessarily miserable. Feminism might make people feel empowered. But, you know what, Christianity can too.

    When you see injustice and you think you have the ability to fix it, that might make you feel really good.

    Here is a question for you, Barry Deutsch. I can say the forgoing statement about feminists and conservative Christians. Can you? Can you say it about the Tea Party? I can. I can also say it about the OWS. I can say it about PETA. I can say it about NOW. I can say it about NARAL, pro-life groups, the NRA, NAMBLA, the Nazis, or even Al Qaida. Can you? And, I can still think half of those groups (or more) are wrong, misguided, or even evil. Miserable? Probably not. Do many of them have world-views that I reject? Absolutely!

    -Jut

  73. dungone says:

    @davenj

    Suffragists were right. It’s a sad truth that abolition only conferred voting rights to half of the freed slave population.

    And I’d say you’re missing the forest for the trees, just as the Suffragists did then and just as feminists to this day continue to miss the point. The vast majority of men of all races who were conscripted to fight in the Civil War did not have the right to vote. So the Suffragist mindset, where they were missing the forest for the trees, was something like this (I paraphrase):

    So yeah let’s free all the slaves and to that end it’s perfectly okay to send millions of young men to die against their will to achieve the noble goals of our social movement [the forest]… but the hell if we lift a finger for slaves if we can’t use this opportunity to get as much as we can for ourselves.[the trees]

    Do you see what I’m getting at now? Missing the forest for the trees means that everything that is close by seems way more important than the stuff that’s far away. Okay, literally, you are not “wrong” if you see a tree directly in front of your face and say “that’s a tree!” In the strictest sense of right and wrong, you would be absolutely correct. But that’s why we need that idiom to understand why that’s still wrong in a broader sense. If you feel so strongly about the close by issues, you may not even realize that the further away issues even exist.

    Now, in reality, there were huge but largely forgotten anti-war and anti-draft movements all over the country where men and women alike fought against throwing young men to their deaths to meet other people’s social agendas. Entire cities nearly burnt to the ground over the issue, in many ways it was just as big of an issue for much of the public as Abolition itself. But look at how that would fit into your own description of the Abolitionist movement. You practically wrote these people off derisively for perhaps saying that Abolition was “unrealistic” without weighing their concerns at all. But when Suffragists threatened to destroy or abandon the Abolitionist cause lest their personal demands were met, you’re saying they were right.

  74. Jay Generally says:

    @The L
    o.O I totally missed the Hyperbole and a Half reference until you pointed it out. My wife and I use the expression so much I just sort of took it as a natural figure of speech.

    Sinfest and H&H references on a NSWATM post? Stop hat-tricking my favorites folder Ozy. 😀

    Re: the Sinfest feminism thread, the closest thing I’ve seen to a gentle nose tweak are the facts that Little Bigwheel Feminist used some feminist lingo (e.g. mansplaining) to shout down Slick’s valid, but indolent and uninformed, comments down and that she is a mini like Slick, Seymour, Squig, Lil’ E, and Criminy. Sinfest mini’s are ambigiuously presented as children and tend to have their personalities locked down to single obsession (or group of obsessions) that prevents them from growing as a character (but it doesn’t make them less lovable, entertaining, or prevent them from being right about things). Other than that, Bigwheel’s path to enlightment seems just as valid as the others presented in the strip. I don’t see her as some new flawless Messiah Sue, or a Take THAT Feminism; she’s just another personified lifestyle, warts and all. On a personal note pushiness, passion for feminist literature, and tendency to use forced-feminization in her disciplinary tactics remind me very warmly of one of my early girlfriends. ❤

    I think Ozy's right that her Matrix comparison just shows that Bigwheel's enemy is a deeply encoded, stealth enemy. That and Tat really seems to like Matrix references; he's made them before

    @Nancy
    "I’m inclined to think that we’ve inherited a very bad concept of virtue– it’s problematic that in art the bad guys are typically more interesting than the good guys. I think virtue is conceived of as perfection and passivity."

    Hmm. That's quite brilliant. Our good guys are a bit morally, intellectually, and socially passive. I was complaining on the Disney Masculinity thread that one of the big Disney man-meme's seems to be revolve around straightening up and flying right, which is a way to punish being impassive in the social dictum. Ditto the Man as Fairy Tale thread. Virtue is frequently close to mental and spiritual laziness. Our heroes don’t have to think until they’re hip deep in battle. The closest thing to acumen many of them manage is when the movie’s Boss Fight is looming over the hero and they suddenly have to glance back and forth between the bull’s eye on the Boss’s chest and the tennis ball in their hand. (I’m a little burnt out on book-dumb battle savants as masculine role models; can you tell?) It’s those horrible bad guys who are always scheming and thinking and planning outside of their prescribed social roles.

  75. Barry, I used to think it too. Because “people who disagree with me politically are miserable and burdened with horrible guilt, regardless of if they think they’re pretty happy” is a comforting thought in many ways. (This reminds me of the recent Onion headline about Dick Cheney: “New Cheney Memoir Reveals He’s Going To Live Full, Satisfied Life Without Ever Feeling Remorse And There’s Nothing We Can Do About It”) It’s hard to believe that certain people have no conscience, don’t care if they oppress people, and are perfectly content with that. But they are. I have to admit, they are. They are on top, after all.

    So the fact that some would think this same thing, of social justice types, makes sense. This means they have invented another excuse for themselves, to stay blame-free. It works for them, not coincidentally, bolstering and upholding their position on top. To stop and consider otherwise would topple everything and expose the computer code.

    If there is no kyriarchy, nothing to take responsibility for, nothing to worry about. Nice work if you can get it.

  76. dungone says:

    @Ozy, in my response to davenj, I feel that I have finally formulated my thoughts in a way where I can address a sneaking concern I suspect about your OP. Please note I’m not accusing of of this, just saying that there are two ways to understand certain views that are colored by personal experience with social-justice-y people. And please note, this is not a critique of feminists, but of some of the pitfalls of a social-justice-y point of view.

    Lest you think that I’m only being half-serious in my remarks about the Suffragists, I want to point you to the White Feather campaign of WW1 and how that movement was filled to the brim with women who were veterans of the Suffragist movement. There were some seriously deep-seated issues that must have been swept under the rug in order for the social-justice-y women of the Suffragist movement to turn around and act as total bigots towards men after having demanded equal rights for themselves. You see, it wasn’t just that male conscription was a form of “benign sexism” against women, as some would have it. I would really love to hear someone try to justify the White Feather campaign as benign sexism against women.

    But back to my concern with the OP. So what I see often is that social-justice-y people will adopt half a dozen or so personal causes and pursue those causes to an almost fanatical extent, but when queried about why they won’t support cause X or cause Y, that’s when they can’t be expected to carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. I’ve known people who went to live on communes, spent years of their lives digging water wells in the Sahara, marching back and forth at Take Back The Night rallies, and getting very upset with anyone who appeared to downplay the importance or priority of their chosen causes. But when asked to even weigh the possibility of supporting another cause, of even looking at the pros and cons of supporting one or the other as a matter of prioritizing what’s really important, they are almost fanatically close minded.

    So you have members of PETA who chain themselves to fences at animal testing labs and go around trying to guilt-trip everyone who doesn’t share their personal set of priorities, but try to mention anything to them, anything at all, and the first thing that comes out of their mouths right before they dismiss you altogether is, “well we can’t solve EVERY problem.” Well, you know, if they can’t solve every problem in the world, then why are they so fanatical about the couple that they are actually working on? And why are their priorities so utterly un-examined? And so it goes. And now I want to mention the very name of your blog, and why you named it that. It should be pretty obvious at this point. “What About The Menz?” is exactly the sort of snide remark that a social-justice-y person would say about issues that they’re just not interested in dealing with. And they don’t care about being hypocrites, either.

  77. Jay Generally says:

    @ Dungone

    I can’t speak for other fanatics, but I actually *don’t* think gender issues are the most important issues in the world right now. I think classism, corporatism, and plutocratic oligarchies are much more dangerous -isms. And there’s always good old fashion racism, mental ablism, and anti-intellectualism.

    But I keep reading gender issue related websites. I keep consuming and creating gender bending media. I keep talking about it with my poor wife, ad nauseam. (I think I’m begining to make her reconsider her opinion on ball-gags.) So, whether or not my priorities are screwed, sexism and gender roles are, to some extent, my social justice kink. And I need to be honest with myself. You can talk about how the West’s whole-hearted acceptance of Keynesian economics relates to wage depression and, while I may agree with everything you say, I’d wager more often than not my eyes are going to glaze over and I give you a rictus and a bobble-head nod through the whole conversation. You want to talk about whether or not Xander was a positive male role model on Buffy, if there were any notes of misandry in O’ Brother Where At Thou, or whether or not Power Girl’s boobs have gotten to big? Then those conversations would probably not going to end until my voice gives out. I never said I was deep, but it’d be nice if I could help out a person or two out while I was being shallow.

    So, if I walk up to a bunch of people trying to help burnt-out racing greyhounds adopted into nice homes and start talking about how, right now, chinese children are being wage slaved to make the leashes those dogs are wearing and demand to know how they set their priorities, then I’m just a some sort of combination of a real life troll, Stop having Fun Guys, and/or an ass trying to win some sort of social justice prize.

  78. davenj says:

    @ dungone “You practically wrote these people off derisively for perhaps saying that Abolition was “unrealistic” without weighing their concerns at all. But when Suffragists threatened to destroy or abandon the Abolitionist cause lest their personal demands were met, you’re saying they were right.”

    And again, this isn’t “missing the forest for the trees”. Rather, it’s another social justice problem that those activists failed to recognize, and potentially perpetuated.

    But yeah, “unrealistic” is a pretty bad definition. Conscripts have concerns. Slaves have concerns. All individuals have concerns, and the potential to oppress or be oppressed.

    Suffragists were right in the sense that women deserved the right to vote. They were wrong in threatening to continue to support the oppression of others so as to achieve this goal, as that is hypocritical.

    Again, your issue is with weak definitions of social justice, or failed implementations, not the underlying moral system that people ought to hold themselves to.

    It’s absolutely worth discussing what a good definition of social justice is, but the “realist/unrealistic” false dichotomy needs to be taken off of the table. Ditto with comparing high moral standards to a mental disorder, or claiming the whole “they will wrack you with guilt” trope that has arisen so much here.

    Again, your issues appear to be with fanaticism or hypocritical social justice activists, not high, consistent moral standards (even if one fails to live up to them all the time).

  79. AB says:

    It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re finding for, you can always find a worthier cause or something to do better. But if you spend all your energy bashing activists for not focussing on the things you want them to focus on, while leaving non-activists alone, you can do more harm than good.

    There’s always a balance to be struck. I don’t think it’s unfair if you’re campaigning for someone’s rights to also expect them to show some degree of support for your rights, but working against people you agree with simply because they don’t have the same focus as you is ultimately destructive.

    If the people working for animal rights, or marching against rape, or digging wells in Sahara, are not actually harming you or any cause you believe in, they seem like a really bad choice for a group to work against. You might as well rage against people who collect stamps or read car magazines.

  80. Jay, that comment was funny! I actually witnessed something perilously close to your last paragraph once! :O

    I was the one with the animals, too, so it wasn’t a fun place to be.

  81. Paul says:

    Dungone, I think there’s a good point in your post, but I’m not sure it’s the one you’re making. I think the real hypocrisy is not people having their own causes and not caring as much about other causes. The real hypocrisy is people having their own causes, not caring as mch about other causes- but still expecting everybody else to prioritize /their/ cause first.

  82. dungone says:

    @davenj, agreed that “unrealistic” is a pretty bad definition. Also agreed that my issue is with fanaticism and/or hypocritical social justice activists and that I don’t have an issue with high moral standards per se. I certainly never claimed that high moral standards were a social disorder.. But then again, it’s easy to mix up “social justice goal” with “moral standard” because of the moral value that social-justice-y people place on their set of goals. It’s also a matter of morality vs guilt, which is another tactic that social-justice-y people often leverage – and I do consider excess guilt to be a mental disorder (isn’t it possible to understand anorexia as excessive guilt about weight?) So there’s still a concern with social justice as a sort of bottomless pit, where a failure to meet ever-increasing activist demands is seen as a moral failure to be ashamed of. I will just bring up what I already said before – this “never good enough” tactic is the way religions control people and oddly enough, when they do this, they like to call it morals.

    Suffragists were right in the sense that women deserved the right to vote. They were wrong in threatening to continue to support the oppression of others so as to achieve this goal, as that is hypocritical.

    But isn’t that missing the forest for the trees? It’s not that they were actually in any way in favor of continuing to oppress others, just to be clear. It’s just that they thought that it could wait until their own concerns were addressed, but they weren’t willing to wait until the concerns of conscripts were addressed.

    Perhaps I’m failing to understand where the analogy fails… The “10,000 foot” view of the forest would be something where one is able to weigh the concerns of women, slaves, and conscripts, because that’s the big picture.* Again, this is an issue of fanaticism and not morality. Someone who is fanatical most likely lacks the disinterest required to objectively weigh the concerns of multiple parties so as to come up with a workable solution for everyone.

    *It’s sort of like a General who understands that rescuing 10 men behind enemy lines might cost the lives of 10,000 others. That’s a pitfall that social-justice-y people seem to fall into a lot. A lot of people would say, free the slaves at any cost because the moral principle is justified no matter what. They’d dismiss it as cold and brutal if someone were to suggest weighing the number of slaves freed versus the number of men killed. So to use another battlefield analogy, the social-justice-y person might be the sort of warrior who runs out into the kill zone to try to rescue a buddy who has been shot by a sniper. Or, it’s like the mountain climbing book I read, Into The Void, where a man cut the rope to save his own life rather than be taken down with his ailing partner – and supposedly he has experienced endless scorn from the climbing community in the decades since, as if the right thing to do would have been for both of them to die.

  83. dungone says:

    Paul,

    The real hypocrisy is people having their own causes, not caring as mch about other causes- but still expecting everybody else to prioritize /their/ cause first.

    Yes! If you cut the 10 pages I wrote down to a single sentence, that’s what I’d like to get across.

  84. Paul says:

    Oh. Then obviously I misread you. my bad >.>

  85. Jay Generally says:

    @Daisy

    Thanks. 🙂 My example’s not completely random. My wife’s trying to earn her PhD as a vet and there’s still a long road ahead of her, but if that’s too subtle a clue she works with rescue animals a lot. Her big thing right now is the asssiting in the spaying of wild strays. Anyway, everybody loves animals right? Well, dang you’d be surprised (well, maybe *you* specifically wouldn’t) what a punching bag animal rescue, control, readoption, and assistance can be for some folks. It seems to go right up their nose.

  86. dungone says:

    @Jay, did you read my example of the role that Suffragists played in the White Feather Campaign? See, what you’re doing here is misconstruing the reason for my concern.

    Consider a hypothetical scenarios for just a minute. Let’s say that there’s a bunch of people sitting around saving puppies, but the use some sort of toxic chemical that later kills a bunch of children who play on the same spot. In other words, contributing to cause A is directly detrimental to cause B. It’s sort of like the way Abolition was an incredibly important movement, but it did have the downside of the Civil War and all the conscripts who lost their lives for that cause. So if it’s more like that, do you still have a problem with someone who runs up to that group of people who are busy saving the puppies and starts jabbering about, “no, no, you don’t understand, children are dying…”?

    The fact of the matter is, you are allowed to devote yourself to a single cause that you feel is important. Morally, that is perfectly legitimate and fine. But what does end up being immoral is if you refuse to even consider the priority of other causes in an objective manner. You said it yourself – you care about gender issues even though you don’t think they’re the most important problem. That means that if I wanted to point something out to you and say hey, Jay, look at this big problem we have over there, maybe we should all consider doing something about it – I know you would listen. But other kinds of people aren’t quite like that. They’re happy to dismiss everyone else and devote themselves to their singular cause come hell or high water. And what’s more it becomes like what Paul said, they ignore everyone else’s cause but yet still get pissed off as hell when everyone else ignores their cause.

  87. Orphan says:

    Leo Sallum – I don’t want to continue that argument here, but if you email me at TheOrphanWilde@gmail.com, I’ll happily continue there.

  88. Doug S. says:

    Remember: if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the precipitate! 😉

  89. SpudTater says:

    @Ozy: wonderful, refreshing post, and @Vejuz: “do what you can” is going to become a new catchphrase for me, I think.

    I think a lot of people get annoyed at social justice-y people because, let’s face it, we do see a significant proportion of them employing the guilt trip tactic. It seems to be a way of assuaging their own guilt (“yeah, but at least I’m doing more than… than HE is!”). It’s tiresome, it’s unhelpful, and it’s turned me away from so many movements in the past.

    This post reminds us that there is another way to do things, and it doesn’t have to be guilt-laden, judgemental, or competitive. Thank fuck for that!

  90. Jay Generally says:

    @ dungone
    Ah, so the crime isn’t fanatacism, but self-ignorant and/or self-agrandizing fantacism? I agree with that. Self-reflection and honesty is usually a good thing.

    I still think that, once we get rid of the objetively horreendous child killing chemical tho’, it is in poor taste to go to every Puppy Saver convention and mention the time they used said chemicals. Also when discussing the dangers of using said chemicals, it would be best to blame a general ignorance and poor R&D methods that allowed their use rather than build a false correlation between chemical use and puppy saving. Take the White Feather campaign; if its participants vocally identified as feminists, then it is valid to bring it up as a counterexample if someone says ‘No feminist, or largely feminist group, has ever supported the binary gender role/misandry/used shame as a manipulative tactic.’ I don’t think it’s good tact to go to feminist websites and when someone says “Isn’t Feminism awesome? Thanks to Feminism everything is so much better for men an women,” and then take offense at the self-importance in a space set aside for self-importance and use true, but cutting and specious statements just to disarm or derail the mood.

    That’s not an accusation leveled at you, dungone. I think I get that you’re only saying that Ozy’s post reminds you of a common deflection tactic. That, to take my example, it would be the troll giving lectures about Chinese produced dog leashes who is most likely to take a counter arguement about how toleration of lassez-faire capitalism is what allows them to be produced, so why doesn’t the troll ever show up at their socialist conventions, and say, “I can’t be expected to fix *everything.*”

  91. balconyscene says:

    “I think a lot of people get annoyed at social justice-y people because, let’s face it, we do see a significant proportion of them employing the guilt trip tactic.”

    This, so much.

    When I’m not being told how horrible I am for being born male (i.e. ‘you have the privilege to be unaware of your privilege’) and how I’m such a huge part of the problem just for not being a ‘perfect’ ‘ally’ (as though I am merely a helper to the protagonist) and how I have no right to be upset about anything because I’m a white male, I’m the most anti-sexist and anti-racist motherfucker you’d ever want to meet.

  92. noahbrand says:

    When I’m not being told how horrible I am for being born male (i.e. ‘you have the privilege to be unaware of your privilege’)

    balconyscene, the day you understand that your parenthetical example does not, in any way, mean what you claim it does, you will have taken your first step into a larger world.

  93. balconyscene says:

    I was referring to the privilege checklist and the full issue is the context. It’s a whole checklist of essentially why women get to feel oh so put upon because men apparently men have it oh so much better, with that at the end as if to say ‘Denial is proof. I win. Accept your guilt.’

    There, am I not a worthless simpleton now? :p

  94. noahbrand says:

    It’s a whole checklist of essentially why women get to feel oh so put upon because men apparently men have it oh so much better, with that at the end as if to say ‘Denial is proof. I win. Accept your guilt.’

    No, it really isn’t. Like, at all. Your description of it is wholly inaccurate. As I say, I think your inability to understand the difference is what’s keeping you from, to reference the OP, seeing the Matrix. It begins with this: Your idea of what the privilege checklist says is not at all what it says. Let go of having to be right, of having to be sinned against, and try to see what’s actually being said. Free your mind.

  95. balconyscene says:

    I have to be right, otherwise women get to be bitter against me while I’m not allowed even the least bitterness towards women.

  96. Jay Generally says:

    If there’s too much bitterness in the discourse, why not add a little sweetness? I’ll bet it’ll taste better.

  97. BlackHumor says:

    @balcony: But women DON’T get to be bitter against you. That’s exactly the sense in which the checklist doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  98. balconyscene says:

    Bear in mind, BlackHumor, that I define ‘bitterness’ the same way it appears to be defined in society when it comes to men: Any sort of unfriendly feeling, attitude, or action towards the opposite gender.

    In fact, on one of the 101 faqs, I pretty much saw it outright stated, from a male writer or something, that ‘it hurts when you hear women say ‘I hate men’ but they really just mean ‘I hate male privilege” or some bullshit like that.

    Now, if I said outright ‘I hate women,’ would I be shown such tolerance?

    Now if you are going to tell me that there is no tolerated bitterness whatsoever on the more gynocentric blogs out there, I will have to laugh.

  99. poet says:

    Yaaay! I’m bookmarking this, and if I should ever succeed at raising kids to the age where they care about this stuff it might help make them more awesome!

  100. Pingback: Nous sommes tous des hypocrites (mais ce n’est pas grave) | Blog à part: troisième époque

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