This blogger from The Divided Line explains why. I generally agree with what is being said here. Although I think the Left’s concept of “repressive tolerance” clearly has its roots in Marcuse, it’s overly simplistic to explain totalitarian humanism merely as an inversion of Marxism.
At around 50:00, Mr. Spencer says “the left is the establishment,” and he’s right, but it’s only the cultural establishment. The economic and defense establishment is very much hard right. It has been since Reagan and Thatcher, since the mainstream bourgeois left opposition which followed them pulled their parties to the right in the 1990s on economic and foreign policy.
The people in power care about money and American military hegemony, not race or culture, and American military hegemony means Western European military hegemony since it is largely still under the American pax that was established after WWII. The establishment uses meaningless left wing identity politics to sell people on right wing neoliberal economic policy. That’s why they keep trying to use “humanitarian intervention” as an excuse to start this or that war. More…
“[these essays] break out of the dead end that British libertarianism – and much American – has found itself in since about 1980.” – Sean Gabb (Libertarian Alliance)
“Keir Martland provides a perspective that synthesizes Rothbardian libertarianism with cultural traditionalism to offer insights that are as penetrating as they are rare.” – Keith Preston (Attack the System)
Sean Gabb describes the transformation of the Left from civil libertarians to totalitarian humanists.
By Dr. Sean Gabb
Any system of criminal justice worth the name needs to reconcile humanity with certainty. On the one hand, part of the function of the criminal law is deterrent. When you know that you will go to prison for six months if you smash someone’s window, you may be less inclined to pick up the stone than if you believe you may get an absolute discharge or a whipping. Another part of the system’s function is to match severity of sentencing to the perceived gravity of offences. We need to see that breaking a window is less of a crime than breaking someone’s nose, and that murder is much more of a crime than either.
Another year is over and as exactly one year ago to this day I wrote a review of 2014, I shall do the same today for 2015.
The General Election
The first political event to spring to mind is of course the May 2015 General Election. A longer campaign than usual, it was perhaps more overtly leftist in its tone than any of the twenty first century. UKIP, itself having veered to the left to accommodate new Old Labour members, proved no counter-weight to the leftism of the other parties.
Here we have totalitarian humanism at its finest. This is an example why a serious radical movement must effectively purge political correctness. This stuff is simply the modern version of bluenoses like Anthony Comstock, Carrie Nation, Billy James Hargis, the Moral Majority or Rev. Fred Phelps. Anyone with liberal, libertarian, or anarchist values of any kind should piss and shit on these people.
Imagine a future United States where Hillary Clinton centrist-liberals represent the “right,” Bernie Sanders progressives represent the “center,” and this nonsense represents liberalism and the “left.” Now, how would be go about building a revolutionary movement against a system of that kind?
Ultra-liberal students at Ohio’s Oberlin College are in an uproar over the fried chicken, sushi and Vietnamese sandwiches served in the dining halls, complaining the dishes are “insensitive” and “culturally inappropriate.”
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
I’ll be incorporating a response to the Ann-xieties expressed here (and elsewhere) into a future Infernal episode.
There’s a lot of raspberrying and dismissiveness in the debate over whether to let the wave of “Syrian” “refugees” wash up on U.S. shores. In the partisan sandbox-fights to which we tend to reduce even the most serious questions, it’s easy to forget that in a case like this, there is probably a strong moral argument to be made on either side.
Opposition to racism used to be a political stance. Now it has every marking of a religion, with both good and deleterious effects on American society.
An anthropology article from 1956 used to get around more than it does now, “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema.” Because my mother gave it to me to read when I was 13, of course what I remember most from it is that among the Nacirema, women with especially large breasts get paid to travel and display them. Nacirema was “American” spelled backwards—get it?—and the idea was to show how revealing, and even peculiar, our society is if described from a clinical distance.
These days, there is something else about the Nacirema—they have developed a new religion. That religion is antiracism. Of course, most consider antiracism a position, or evidence of morality. However, in 2015, among educated Americans especially, Antiracism—it seriously merits capitalization at this point—is now what any naïve, unbiased anthropologist would describe as a new and increasingly dominant religion. It is what we worship, as sincerely and fervently as many worship God and Jesus and, among most Blue State Americans, more so.
To someone today making sense of the Nacirema, the category of person who, roughly, reads The New York Times and The New Yorker and listens to NPR, would be a deeply religious person indeed, but as an Antiracist. This is good in some ways—better than most are in a position to realize. This is also bad in other ways—worse than most are in a position to realize.
For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates, now anointed as James Baldwin’s heir by Toni Morrison, is formally classified as a celebrated writer. However, the particulars of his reception in our moment reveal that Coates is, in the Naciremian sense, a priest. Coates is “revered,” as New York magazine aptly puts it, as someone gifted at phrasing, repeating, and crafting artful variations upon points that are considered crucial—that is, scripture. Specifically, Coates is celebrated as the writer who most aptly expresses the scripture that America’s past was built on racism and that racism still permeates the national fabric.
Attitudes toward hierarchies shed light on fundamental differences between the left and the right. The latter tend to be skeptical of them and for this reason, leftists often rally around the value of equality. On the other hand, the right views hierarchies as desirable because they promote social order. Meritocracy is the underlying premise behind the argument for the necessity of hierarchy. It is often assumed that the elites deserve to be in power because they are more qualified to govern than the ordinary people. Clearly, this principle can be abused and in many cases, an unworthy person joins the ranks of the elites simply by being born into the ruling class.
The elites aspired to remedy the intellectual weaknesses of their youngsters by subjecting them to a rigorous education. That is why it was quite common for nobles to be tutored by the leading scholars of their time. When Diogenes the Cynic was sold into slavery, he was purchased by an affluent estate owner in the capacity of a philosophy tutor for his son.
A few months back, publisher Chip Smith asked me to write a new intro for the upcoming second edition of my 2011 novel NVSQVAM. To write the essay I had to rethink my protagonist, Lester Reichartsen, whose youth and dreams came to a screeching halt when his girlfriend slyly quit taking her birth control pills.
Reviewers’ response to Lester’s depressive and unenthusiastic assumption of the role of family man surprised me. Many a columnist—both liberal and conservative, those who loved the book and those who hated it—declared him a disgusting human being.
Pushing aside the fact that the phrase “disgusting human being” may be redundant, I was forced to confront the contrast between reader responses and my own underlying assumption: that Lester is no more horrible than anyone else.
The south of France, and one man finds himself deeply disenchanted by the culinary delights on offer in his locale. So much so, in fact, that he took to the press, voicing his determination never to let another kebabish open in his town again.
Lushes and reprobates – I give you Robert Ménard: ex-secretary general of press freedom group Reporters Sans Frontières and currently disgruntled mayor of the supposedly shish-saturated town of Béziers. This blowhard first came to my attention a couple of weeks back, when I read about his distaste for döner at the Daily Sabah. Already something of a national celebrity for his animus towards Allahphiles—making a point of illegally collecting stats on Muslim schoolkids and personally declaring Syrian refugees in his town persona non grata—the somewhat megalomaniacal mayor now wants to obstruct the opening of any further lamb-spit houses in his locale.
Reading about this reminds me of one reason I kickstarted this series-within-a-series known as ‘Halal & Hypocrisy’: to shine a spotlight on those for whom fighting the Islamification of the Western world serves as a Trojan Horse for their own liberticidal bullshit. Whilst I may not be thrilled about the concept (and existence) of borders (at least not on a nation-state level), I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some sympathy for those who view them as a means of preserving treasured cultural and civil liberties—not to mention life and limb—in their lands (a la the late Pim Fortuyn). That said, I find it tragicomic how fervently those of such a persuasion appeal to the very institutions responsible for their malaise to make everything alright, especially when the latter either double down with a “solution” that further feeds the beast or take it as an opportunity to play bait ‘n’ switch by adding their own encroachments.
Also, rather refreshing to see a mainstreamer who can tell the fucking difference between liberty and democracy!
The impressive and inspiring show of solidarity at France’s unity march on January 11—which brought together millions of people and more than 40 world leaders—was not necessarily a sign of good things to come. “We are all one” was indeed a powerful message, but what did it really mean, underneath the noble sentiment and the liberal faith that all people are essentially good and want the same things, regardless of religion or culture? Even if the scope is limited to Western liberals, the aftermath of the assaults in Paris on Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket has revealed a striking lack of consensus on a whole host of issues, including the limits of free speech, the treatment of religions versus racial groups, and the centrality of secularism to the liberal idea. Turns out, we are not all one.
French schoolteachers were reportedlydumbfounded that (some) Muslim students refused to stand up for a moment of silence after the attacks. But this is where confusion seeps into the debate. Within France, there is not a cultural divide on the attack that left 12 dead at the offices of a satirical magazine. To even suspect that a significant number of French Muslims might support the slaughter of innocents is troubling. But beyond the killings themselves, there is, in fact, a cultural divide—one that shines light on some of the most problematic aspects of how we in the West talk about Islam, values, and violence.
An uninformed lay person reading the pathetically ignorant and barely literate bromide against Attack the System recently issued by “Anti-Fascist News” would hardly know anarchism is a vast tradition in modern political philosophy with roots in the radical Enlightenment more than two centuries ago. Further, history provides examples of many anarchist prototypes extending back for thousands of years (Peter Marshall’s magisterial work “Demanding the Impossible” ably demonstrates this point). However, our critics at “Anti-Fascist News” would have everyone believe that the sum total of anarchist traditions have never been more than a sectarian brand of anarcho-communism derived from the left-wing of anarchism as it was in the 1930s. This is akin to a modern Protestant fundamentalist insisting that the entire Christian tradition consists of nothing more than seventeenth century English Puritanism (no offense to Puritans).
While I am an admirer of the anarcho-communist tendency within classical anarchism of the early twentieth century, there is certainly no reason why anarchism should be exclusively and forever defined within the confines of these limited parameters. As a reading of even the most elementary level book on anarchism will indicate, anarchism is in fact a collection of many varied and diverse currents just as, to use the Christian analogy once again, the Christian faith consists of many thousands of traditions, sects, and denominations that have existed throughout history and throughout the world today. As John Zube has ably demonstrated, there are indeed many readily identifiable traditions within anarchism, some of which maintain a paradoxical relationship to each other. Of course, it is true that there will always likely remain sects within anarchism that refuse to recognize one another as “true” anarchists, just as there are sects of Protestants and Catholics, Sunni and Shiites, who refuse to recognize each other as “true” Christians or Muslims.
“Another NPI speaker Keith Preston, also ends up largely in the same place as Faye and the others, but in his own fake anarchist way. For Preston, the end result of nationalism is increasingly specific overlapping forms of identitarian chauvinism. Preston, who holds an MA in history from VCU, advocates for the seemingly contradictory ideology pioneered by Troy Southgate called National-Anarchism.
In the National-Anarchist tradition, building popularity for such an absurd ideology requires entryism — attempts to co-opt the power of existing social movements for the purpose of ethnic strife and clannish tribalism. Preston manages the online zine AttackTheSystem and directs the pan-secessionist something-or-other American Revolutionary Vanguard.
He has written several articles on LewRockwell.com defending Ron Paul and arguing against immigration. He has also held important positions within the anarchist Industrial Workers of the World union and International Workers Association, things he still proudly puts on his resume.”
Here we have the edifying spectacle of an anarchist equating Hollywood liberal and militant atheist Bill Maher with General Franco. My take? This insults the memory of the many anarchists (and many others) who died or suffered horribly for resisting the totalitarian regimes, left and right, of the twentieth century.
By Tariq Khan
Out of necessity as much as out of conviction, anarchists in the United States have long been champions of the right to freely express uncomfortable and controversial ideas. At the same time, while championing the right to express unconventional ideas, anarchists have not allowed a liberal notion of free speech as an excuse to sit idly by while fascists spew hate speech. The Spanish anarchist Buenaventura Durruti – who died while serving in an anti-fascist militia in the 1930s – famously said, “Fascism is not to be debated, it is to be destroyed.” This reflects a sensibility that not all ideas are merely “points of view” that deserve respect or space. There is a difference between speech that is “offensive” and speech that is “oppressive.” For example, during the Jim Crow era in US history; newspaper articles, songs, books, plays, political cartoons, and speeches that characterized Black men as hypersexual and violent beasts were far more than merely offensive. Such expressions reinforced and perpetuated a violent white supremacist system, justifying and fueling legal oppression such as Jim Crow laws and extralegal oppression such as lynching.
In the present-day United States, a shallow idea of “free speech” is often wielded by the privileged as a way to direct attention away from critiques of existing conditions and systems; particularly critiques of capitalism, imperialism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. For example, two years ago when UC Berkeley students organized to keep comedian Bill Maher from speaking on their campus, leading media outlets framed it as a controversy about free speech rather than engaging with the much deeper critiques the students had about Maher’s perpetuation of US imperialist, Orientalist discourse which fuels militarism abroad and racist violence at home.
“If you think you have the right not to be offended,” says comedian Jim Norton, “either change the parameters of what offends you or realize you’re wrong. Those are your two choices.”
Can We Take a Joke?, a new documentary about standup comedy and the policing of speech, debuts on Friday, November 13 at DOC NYC, one of the country’s biggest film festivals.
“Why is comedy the only form of the arts where people think they have to agree with or approve the content?” Norton asks in a live-peformance clip. “You don’t walk through a museum with a towel and throw it over paintings you don’t like.”
Comedians and performers such as Norton are joined in the film by Greg Lukianoff of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), who talks about the growing attacks on the First Amendment, especially those on college campuses which once prided themselves as bastions of free speech.
A Social Justice Warrior makes her case. Theoretically, one could be a full and committed Social Justice Warrior and simultaneously be a pan-anarchist or tactical pan-secessionist, as I have previously articulated elsewhere. However, as we know, it usually doesn’t work that way. Yet an interesting development that I have observed in some corners is that some radical PC Leftists have actually begun to recognize the merits of the ARV-ATS approach, even if they reject the messenger.
I know why you’re here. Something has happened that has pushed you over the edge. You know, with regards to “political correctness.” Or “call-out culture,” or the “Internet outrage machine,” or whatever you want to call it.
It’s been a lot of little things up until now — you know, comments that you’ve seen on social media, or protests that you’ve heard about, all condemning people for supposedly “bad” things they may have said or done. But something recently happened to someone famous, or someone you respect — for anonymity’s sake, let’s just call them the Person of Stature. And as an example, let’s pretend the Person of Stature was invited to speak at a University, but then some students started complaining about supposedly “bigoted” things that this Person of Stature has said about some minority group in the past. Or present. And these students started protesting. They even passed a petition around. The nerve of them!
Professor Nicholas Christakis lives at Yale, where he presides over one of its undergraduate colleges. His wife Erika, a lecturer in early childhood education, shares that duty. They reside among students and are responsible for shaping residential life. And before Halloween, some students complained to them that Yale administrators were offering heavy-handed advice on what Halloween costumes to avoid.
Erika Christakis reflected on the frustrations of the students, drew on her scholarship and career experience, and composed an email inviting the community to think about the controversy through an intellectual lens that few if any had considered. Her message was a model of relevant, thoughtful, civil engagement.
For her trouble, a faction of students are now trying to get the couple removed from their residential positions, which is to say, censured and ousted from their home on campus. Hundreds of Yale students are attacking them, some with hateful insults, shouted epithets, and a campaign of public shaming. In doing so, they have shown an illiberal streak that flows from flaws in their well-intentioned ideology.
Those who purport to speak for marginalized students at elite colleges sometimes expose serious shortcomings in the way that their black, brown, or Asian classmates are treated, and would expose flaws in the way that religious students and ideological conservatives are treated too if they cared to speak up for those groups. I’ve known many Californians who found it hard to adjust to life in the Ivy League, where a faction of highly privileged kids acculturated at elite prep schools still set the tone of a decidedly East Coast culture. All else being equal, outsiders who also feel like racial or ethnic “others” typically walk the roughest road of all.
That may well be true at Yale.
But none of that excuses the Yale activists who’ve bullied these particular faculty in recent days. They’re behaving more like Reddit parodies of “social-justice warriors” than coherent activists, and I suspect they will look back on their behavior with chagrin. The purpose of writing about their missteps now is not to condemn these students. Their young lives are tremendously impressive by any reasonable measure. They are unfortunate to live in an era in which the normal mistakes of youth are unusually visible. To keep the focus where it belongs I won’t be naming any of them here.