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Corpsey
16-09-2016, 01:21 PM
Most ppl on here are lefties, I'd wager, as indeed am I, but I wonder if there are right-wing positions that you agree with, and conversely if there are leftist positions which are flawed or outright objectionable.

I guess what inspired this thread was reading Lionel Shriver's hotly debated speech (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/13/lionel-shrivers-full-speech-i-hope-the-concept-of-cultural-appropriation-is-a-passing-fad) about cultural appropriation, which made me wonder if my rather knee-jerk disdain for the notion of 'PC gone mad' is well founded, or as wooly-minded as I generally take the anti-PC case to be.

baboon2004
16-09-2016, 02:20 PM
I don't think I agree with any right wing policies that I can think of, though individual rightwingers might happen to believe things that I do too. Left-wing politics usually goes wrong in the international sphere, when some people of left-wing persuasion think they need to support horrible politicians simply because they claim to be socialists (while demonstrably not being), purely as a counterbalance to the right's support of horrible right-wing politicians (who usually claim to be advocates of liberal democracy).

Lionel Shriver is an odious libertarian who conflates valid criticism of the offensive crap she and others write, with an attack upon her freedom to write said offensive crap. Did you read about the plot of her book The Mandibles? Dear Lord:

http://www.vox.com/2016/9/14/12904942/lionel-shriver-identity-politics-sombrero

And as for her bizarre defence of Iggy Azalea...:

'according to the Daily Beast Iggy Azalea committed “cultural crimes” by imitating African rap and speaking in a “blaccent.” '

Corpsey
16-09-2016, 02:56 PM
http://www.vox.com/2016/9/14/12904942/lionel-shriver-identity-politics-sombrero

'

Thanks for this, I wasn't aware of this book's plot, although she talks about it in her speech. I'd be interested to hear her defence of the stuff about mexican immigrants, etc. I find her personally rather detestable, and I expected the comments section (it being the Guardian) to respond negatively to Shriver's speech, but the response seems overwhelmingly in favour of her position vis a vis cultural appropriation.

It made me wonder if the rise of identity politics is a product of the left-wing that many on the left are increasingly wary of, or actively opposed to, rather than it being disdained strictly by the Clarksons and Hopkins that you'd expect.

The Brexit vote seemed to suggest that the left is losing, at least in this country. I see it stated again and again that Labour has lost touch with the working classes, for example in its attitude towards immigration. So I figure either the left is getting things wrong, or the masses are by and large right wing (due to, in the case of those who are voting against their own self interest, ignorance and media manipulation).

Plumping for the latter option means showing the contempt for the general population that the left is often accused of feeling ('Islington Socialists' etc.); OTOH, of course, the Tories don't get accused of being high-and-mighty in the same way, despite showing their contempt or lack of concern for the '99%' in almost 100% of their actions.

Maybe I've just let CiF tories get to me. :mad:

sadmanbarty
16-09-2016, 03:12 PM
I’m trying to keep myself out of political debates on dissensus, so sorry in advance if someone responds to these and I don’t get back to you (that’s not to say you shouldn’t respond, I’d be interested in people’s thoughts). These range from things that I think, to things that I suspect or have seen a good argument for but haven’t explored properly yet. I’m sure there’s more; these are just off the top of my head. In no particular order:

Political correctness is anti-intellectual and anti-democratic

Trade unions were too powerful in the 70’s

Nuclear weapons are good

Capitalism is good

Globalisation is good

Western military intervention can sometimes be a force for good

Railways shouldn’t be renationalised

Mr. Tea
16-09-2016, 05:18 PM
I haven't read the speech but I did read the frankly splenetic piece the Gruan published that a woman wrote in response to it (or rather, to the portion of it she heard before she marched out in ecstatic fury). It made me wonder if we'd hit 'peak Guardian', but I'm sure I've wondered that before. Every little shibboleth of the 21st century academic/journalistic capital-L Left was present and correct, right down to things being "problematic" and the sequence that starts "LGB..." containing no fewer than six letters.

I think an awful lot of people - many or even most of whom are not, in fact, horrific reactionary bigots and may well have perfectly good progressive credentials - are getting put off by the sanctimony, the weaponized victimhood and, frankly, the sheer unpleasantness that characterizes this sort of discourse. And the Guardian piece about Shriver's speech epitomized this, its every sentence blazing with demonstrative sanctimony.

On the subject cultural appropriation in particular: I think it's obvious that it's a real thing, or at least can be, but over the last five or ten years there have been so many high-profile alleged cases that were just so obviously spurious, in fact quite transparently a case of groups of white people trying to outdo each other in acts of ostentatious right-on-ness, that these days it's safer to assume any supposed instance is probably bollocks unless there is good reason to assume otherwise.

Leo
16-09-2016, 05:44 PM
"A neo-conservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality." -- Irving Kristol

Mr. Tea
16-09-2016, 08:50 PM
Ha, the sort of people I'm thinking of would rather be called child-molesters than "liberals".

baboon2004
16-09-2016, 09:24 PM
I haven't read the speech

I think you have to read the speech to understand just how enervating it is, and (to my mind) why it would make someone disgusted enough to walk out.

Just because some cases of cultural appropriation were spurious, doesn't mean anything other than some cases were spurious. Which is the point that LS fails to understand. The idea that cases of cultural appropriation are mostly brought up by white people is also doublethink of the highest order. Might as well start with mentioning that the person who complained about Shriver is - not white?

HMGovt
16-09-2016, 10:05 PM
This is related, I think

The Intellectual Yet Idiot https://medium.com/@nntaleb/the-intellectual-yet-idiot-13211e2d0577#.hlpolfbbs


"The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When Plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences."

This century is subject to deep currents that are washing away everything that's kept the edifice of the centre left above water.

Mr. Tea
17-09-2016, 12:18 PM
Might as well start with mentioning that the person who complained about Shriver is - not white?

Yes, I appreciate that, but I'm thinking of cases where claims have unequivocally been founded on total bullshit and bad-faith "offence". Idiocy such as http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/university-yoga-class-suspended-over-cultural-appropriation-dispute-a6744426.html

baboon2004
17-09-2016, 06:42 PM
Yes, I appreciate that, but I'm thinking of cases where claims have unequivocally been founded on total bullshit and bad-faith "offence". Idiocy such as http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/university-yoga-class-suspended-over-cultural-appropriation-dispute-a6744426.html

Sure, and I accepted in what I said that some cases are spurious, and, indeed, bullshit.

But, even if some cases where cultural appropriation is alleged are silly, it doesn't change the fact that this following attitude can only be wrong and damaging: " these days it's safer to assume any supposed instance is probably bollocks unless there is good reason to assume otherwise." That attitude just assists in passing the burden of proof to those discriminated against, even though that's not your intention. The assumption should be instead that any instance probably true unless there's a good reason to assume it's complete bollocks, given that we live in a world where racism and discrimination of all kinds is routinely glossed over, and efforts made to make it seem like "it never happened" and the victim is mad.

Cases like the yoga one you linked to, also tend to be featured highly in newspapers for two separate reasons: (i) bad faith on the part of editors who want to deny that cultural appropriation is a 'thing', and make it seem ridiculous for their own purposes; and (ii) because they fit neatly into the 'you'll never believe this happened' section that most newspapers use as light relief - in those cases I don't think it's necessarily bad faith, but it can be very unfortunate in suggesting that the evil hand of political correctness is everywhere (which is after all what this debate boils down to, to a large extent at least).

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/15/canadian-gin-company-ungava-offends-inuit-people this is an interesting case from the past few days

Mr. Tea
18-09-2016, 12:26 PM
Cases like the yoga one you linked to, also tend to be featured highly in newspapers for two separate reasons: (i) bad faith on the part of editors who want to deny that cultural appropriation is a 'thing', and make it seem ridiculous for their own purposes; and (ii) because they fit neatly into the 'you'll never believe this happened' section that most newspapers use as light relief - in those cases I don't think it's necessarily bad faith, but it can be very unfortunate in suggesting that the evil hand of political correctness is everywhere (which is after all what this debate boils down to, to a large extent at least).


I disagree. I think cases like this hit the news all the time because they happen all the time. I also think that the Left's reflexive defence of "It's just nasty bigots bleating about 'political correctness gone mad' because they're annoyed that it's no longer acceptable to say 'poof' and 'paki'" is wearing thinner and thinner.

It's not a case of political correctness being "evil" - though that's not to say that people haven't said or done some highly spiteful and unpleasant things under the aegis of identity politics or 'social justice' - more that it very often seems to be self-defeating, either through associating progressive causes with hysterical irreason in the public mind or through severe cases of moral relativism and my-enemy's-enemy type thinking that ends up supporting the very kinds of ideology that any progressive should instinctively abhor.

vimothy
18-09-2016, 12:54 PM
There does seem to be a notable movement away from universalism among some parts of the left (especially students and other young people). It's hard to see how this makes much sense in intellectual or moral terms, but does seem consistent with the ossification and general tenor of spiritual bankruptcy of technocratic liberalism. The more ridiculous these beliefs seem to be, the more fervently believers affirm them.

comelately
18-09-2016, 10:53 PM
P.J. O'Rourke put it pretty succinctly; "The Democrats say, 'We don't know what's wrong with America, but we can fix it.' The Republicans say, 'There's nothing wrong with America, and we can fix that.'"

The social democratic left has never really managed to deal with the fact that politicians, and bureaucracies, will almost always become corrupted to a lesser or greater degree. I think this tendency is strengthened by the culture we live in, for sure, but I think this is not a problem that's going to be fixed inside traditional state structures. John Harris said 2-3 years ago that the only viable future for the left is a 'libertarian' one.

But all that said, I think there's a danger of fatalism distracting from what really screwed the Left in the UK; Labour being unwilling to deal with the Liberal Democrats on electoral reform in 2010. If that had happened, things would be very, very different now. As Zizek said recently, the Left never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Other than that, (some of) the Right have understood that technological advances have masked much of the entrenching of inequality. I remember life before mobile phones, hell I remember when there was no Channel 4. You can argue that such stuff does not make a better quality of like maketh, but you're not going to be taken very seriously by many. Of course, the Right like to downplay the role of the (US Military) state in the development of much of this, but my Moto-G is still very much the product of late global capitalism and I like it. The Right allow the plebs to have big TVs and SKY, and then demonise them for having it. Neat trick.

baboon2004
19-09-2016, 10:41 AM
I disagree. I think cases like this hit the news all the time because they happen all the time. I also think that the Left's reflexive defence of "It's just nasty bigots bleating about 'political correctness gone mad' because they're annoyed that it's no longer acceptable to say 'poof' and 'paki'" is wearing thinner and thinner.

It's not a case of political correctness being "evil" - though that's not to say that people haven't said or done some highly spiteful and unpleasant things under the aegis of identity politics or 'social justice' - more that it very often seems to be self-defeating, either through associating progressive causes with hysterical irreason in the public mind or through severe cases of moral relativism and my-enemy's-enemy type thinking that ends up supporting the very kinds of ideology that any progressive should instinctively abhor.

You're wrapping yourself in knots trying to justify something absurd. I don't recognise the "reflexive defence" you've made up there - I just think it's the age old story that people don't want to look too hard at anything that implicates them or suggests that they could in some way be 'a bad person'. And that drive unites an awful lot of people, not just people who are 'nasty bigots', but those who are opportunist populists (my comment about media folk) and a huge mass of people who adopt this kind of 'Faux Reasonablist' view of "come on, we've thought enough about things like racism and homophobia and sexism. Any more thinking is just absurd, what do they want, the end of racism?! And besides, it's making me feel a bit bad about myself now". And they would rather flee from any iota of a suggestion that they might be a 'bad person' (perish the thought!) than take seriously other people's complaints of oppression, systemic racism (which after all is what cultural appropriation is part of) etc. Because it's easier.

I really don't understand what your investment is here in denying that cultural appropriation exists - after all, I gave you an example case from the past few days, which you haven't commented on - and is a very real thing, regardless of a few cases of silliness. You're behaving as though you're utterly naive about just how bigoted the world is (which I don't think you are) in order to try to prove some point - I don't get it.

I don't know what you're trying to say in the second paragraph, tbh. What 'hysterical irreason' and 'moral relativism' are you referring to? And what kinds of ideology?

baboon2004
19-09-2016, 11:12 AM
@comelately - interesting point about the Lab-LibDem coalition that never happened. What do you envisage would have happened since then in that alternative universe, though?

Mr. Tea
19-09-2016, 12:50 PM
The Right allow the plebs to have big TVs and SKY, and then demonise them for having it. Neat trick.

Sure, but pleb-demonization is not an exclusively right-wing sport. Witness the outpourings of post-Referendum rage from metropolitan socialists and liberals at the great unwashed white provincial working classes, who clearly should never have been given a say in the first place and should probably be kept in designated kennels of some kind where a responsible adult can keep an eye on them and make sure they don't cause any more trouble.

Corpsey
19-09-2016, 12:57 PM
Other than that, (some of) the Right have understood that technological advances have masked much of the entrenching of inequality. I remember life before mobile phones, hell I remember when there was no Channel 4. You can argue that such stuff does not make a better quality of like maketh, but you're not going to be taken very seriously by many. Of course, the Right like to downplay the role of the (US Military) state in the development of much of this, but my Moto-G is still very much the product of late global capitalism and I like it. The Right allow the plebs to have big TVs and SKY, and then demonise them for having it. Neat trick.

I think this is OTM, insofar as I find it hard to accept that people living in poverty in the UK are not better off than they would be living in poverty in India, say, and that's because I assume they still have access to clean water, heating, and even TVs/phones. It's easy to assume that society as a whole is affluent because of these gizmos (and relative to other countries, the UK is affluent, one assumes). I was reading Terry Eagleton's 'Why Marx Was Right' recently, and he made me feel properly ashamed of myself for holding the belief (which he criticises, of course) that the developed nations are simply in the advanced stages of a process that the rest of the world will go through, meaning that one day we will all be affluent, or free from starvation, etc. And the same goes for the political system in, say, the UK - liberal democracy being the best possible system of social organisation.

Of course, on a global scale, all this affluence actually depends on the poverty of millions, and is creating an ecological catastrophe which will drag the whole world into the mire.

Though I'm too much of a self-doubting person to become a fervent believer in left-wing principles, it did strike me the other night that the right wing (i.e. anyone from the tories to combat 18) are the enemy of what I think society should be like. I often feel rather ashamed that I've never been on a political march or protest, believing them to be fairly ineffectual, but also most fundamentally because I can't be bothered and/or I'm scared to face riot police.

Mr. Tea
19-09-2016, 01:10 PM
You're wrapping yourself in knots trying to justify something absurd. I don't recognise the "reflexive defence" you've made up there - I just think it's the age old story that people don't want to look too hard at anything that implicates them or suggests that they could in some way be 'a bad person'. And that drive unites an awful lot of people, not just people who are 'nasty bigots', but those who are opportunist populists (my comment about media folk) and a huge mass of people who adopt this kind of 'Faux Reasonablist' view of "come on, we've thought enough about things like racism and homophobia and sexism. Any more thinking is just absurd, what do they want, the end of racism?! And besides, it's making me feel a bit bad about myself now". And they would rather flee from any iota of a suggestion that they might be a 'bad person' (perish the thought!) than take seriously other people's complaints of oppression, systemic racism (which after all is what cultural appropriation is part of) etc. Because it's easier.

You've completely missed my point. I'm not talking about intention - I mean what proportion of people, if asked in the street, would say racism and sexism are good things? - but about the concrete consequences of people's actions. Questions that take a bit of thinking about, such as "Will sharing this infantile infographic about refugees, full of specious reasoning and numbers and facts that could be complete bullshit for all I know, help reduce racism?" or "Will joining in this furious Twitter campaign to make this guy I've never heard of lose his job because he allegedly said something which, shorn of all context, could arguably be interpreted as sexist, help reduce sexism?".

Living inside your social-media echo chamber, dismissing out of hand any information that doesn't fit with your pre-existing worldview and mindlessly parroting everything your right-on friends say for fear that they might suspect you of not being right-on - now that is the easy option.


I really don't understand what your investment is here in denying that cultural appropriation exists.

Oh come on mate, do me a favour. As I already said a few posts ago:


On the subject cultural appropriation in particular: I think it's obvious that it's a real thing, or at least can be


I don't know what you're trying to say in the second paragraph, tbh. What 'hysterical irreason' and 'moral relativism' are you referring to? And what kinds of ideology?

OK, a few examples totally off the top of my head.

Hysterical irreason: Feminist groups who insist that men who oppose male circumcision must somehow be in favour of FGM, and must therefore be vigorously pilloried as vile misogynists. Or the Swedish MP who said it's morally worse for a Swedish man to rape a Swedish woman than for a Muslim immigrant to do so. Or look up 'donglegate' if you haven't heard of it. Seriously, I could go on all day.

Moral relativism: see pretty much anything Seumas Milne has ever written. People who can't accept that a country other the USA or Israel might be behind anything bad in the world and reflexively ascribe Russian attacks on Syrian hospitals (for example) to "false flag operations". People (hello zhao!) who can't even wait till the emergency response teams have finished picking up the bits of human offal following the latest jihadi bombing somewhere in Europe to start banging on about how it's all our fault, because Iraq. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Edit: I guess this is subject-creep from 'things the Right gets right' to 'things the Left gets wrong', but the two are related.

Benny B
19-09-2016, 03:03 PM
Hysterical irreason: Feminist groups who insist that men who oppose male circumcision must somehow be in favour of FGM, and must therefore be vigorously pilloried as vile misogynists.

.

hmmm, not too up on this issue but... why do I get the feeling that this is less about 'hysterical feminists', and more about MRAs insisting that male circumcision is 'just as bad' as FGM and getting the kicking they deserve?

comelately
19-09-2016, 03:04 PM
You've completely missed my point. I'm not talking about intention - I mean what proportion of people, if asked in the street, would say racism and sexism are good things? - but about the concrete consequences of people's actions. Questions that take a bit of thinking about, such as "Will sharing this infantile infographic about refugees, full of specious reasoning and numbers and facts that could be complete bullshit for all I know, help reduce racism?" or "Will joining in this furious Twitter campaign to make this guy I've never heard of lose his job because he allegedly said something which, shorn of all context, could arguably be interpreted as sexist, help reduce sexism?".

Living inside your social-media echo chamber, dismissing out of hand any information that doesn't fit with your pre-existing worldview and mindlessly parroting everything your right-on friends say for fear that they might suspect you of not being right-on - now that is the easy option.



Oh come on mate, do me a favour. As I already said a few posts ago:





OK, a few examples totally off the top of my head.

Hysterical irreason: Feminist groups who insist that men who oppose male circumcision must somehow be in favour of FGM, and must therefore be vigorously pilloried as vile misogynists. Or the Swedish MP who said it's morally worse for a Swedish man to rape a Swedish woman than for a Muslim immigrant to do so. Or look up 'donglegate' if you haven't heard of it. Seriously, I could go on all day.

Moral relativism: see pretty much anything Seumas Milne has ever written. People who can't accept that a country other the USA or Israel might be behind anything bad in the world and reflexively ascribe Russian attacks on Syrian hospitals (for example) to "false flag operations". People (hello zhao!) who can't even wait till the emergency response teams have finished picking up the bits of human offal following the latest jihadi bombing somewhere in Europe to start banging on about how it's all our fault, because Iraq. And so on, and so on, and so on.

Edit: I guess this is subject-creep from 'things the Right gets right' to 'things the Left gets wrong', but the two are related.

Absolving some people of responsibility because 'what do you expect?' and treating others as completely free & responsible moral agents is pretty much involved in any kind of moral system. Not sure where relativism comes into it; it does feel like a snarl word here and little else.

Who here is actually a moral absolutist?

Benny B
19-09-2016, 03:36 PM
Absolving some people of responsibility because 'what do you expect?' and treating others as completely free & responsible moral agents is pretty much involved in any kind of moral system. Not sure where relativism comes into it; it does feel like a snarl word here and little else.

Who here is actually a moral absolutist?

I'm a moral universalist.

You could argue that liberals, in believing that all consensual acts are good, are moral absolutists.

vimothy
19-09-2016, 03:48 PM
That would be a strange way to describe liberals!

Benny B
19-09-2016, 03:51 PM
That would be a strange way to describe liberals!

i know!

comelately
19-09-2016, 03:54 PM
I would suggest that would normally be how a libertarian is defined, though between the Libertarian Party being increasingly non-voluntarist and much of the internet crowd going Pepe, there aren't many of those left.

The non-aggression principle is superficially charming, but falls apart pretty quickly upon analysis. I think somebody said it's a bit like Scientology - starts off fluffy, then before you know it you are believing in all sorts of nonsense.

vimothy
19-09-2016, 03:57 PM
It's certainly the case that sections of the left -- particularly the campus left in America -- seem to be abandoning universalism for some strange new mutant strain. Maybe it's not so important, but then again maybe it's the ideology that (after these students grow up and assume positions of power and influence) will dominate the mainstream in twenty years time.

comelately
19-09-2016, 03:58 PM
I'm a moral universalist.

You could argue that liberals, in believing that all consensual acts are good, are moral absolutists.

So what are these moral universals then?

vimothy
19-09-2016, 04:02 PM
I agree that the non-aggression principle isn't ultimately very compelling, but it's not so far from the basic tenet of contemporary liberalism (which has perhaps fused with libertarianism in some ways). Liberalism is about the autonomy of the individual and the primacy of his desires and perspectives. Without the non-aggression principle (or something like it), it's easy to see how this could stray into Stirnerism or outright fascism.

martin
19-09-2016, 04:06 PM
Sure, but pleb-demonization is not an exclusively right-wing sport. Witness the outpourings of post-Referendum rage from metropolitan socialists and liberals at the great unwashed white provincial working classes, who clearly should never have been given a say in the first place and should probably be kept in designated kennels of some kind where a responsible adult can keep an eye on them and make sure they don't cause any more trouble.

Totally spot on. And after witnessing the crywank carnival that was the day after Brexit, I am totally done with the left. Well, until Bob Crow Brigade returns to give anyone who says "We need to talk about..." a good kicking.

Why weren't all you SJWs anti-white rasta when Spiral Tribe were on the go? Talk about missed opportunities.

comelately
19-09-2016, 04:08 PM
I agree that the non-aggression principle isn't ultimately very compelling, but it's not so far from the basic tenet of contemporary liberalism (which has perhaps fused with libertarianism in some ways). Liberalism is about the autonomy of the individual and the primacy of his desires and perspectives. Without the non-aggression principle (or something like it), it's easy to see how this could stray into Stirnerism or outright fascism.

Yes, but now we're into people believing in 'principles' for consequences - at which point they're not really principles, and we're into that relativist popomo quagmire before you know it.

Mr. Tea
19-09-2016, 04:34 PM
hmmm, not too up on this issue but... why do I get the feeling that this is less about 'hysterical feminists', and more about MRAs insisting that male circumcision is 'just as bad' as FGM and getting the kicking they deserve?

No, it's not about comparing "which is worse"*. There are feminists who insist, point blank, that any opposition to male circumcision is effectively an endorsement for FGM. It's like saying that anyone who campaigns against knife crime is happy about people getting shot.

And I should like to think we can have a level of intelligent conversation here where it is not automatically assumed that any anti-circ men are automatically "MRAs", for heaven's sake.

*leaving aside the fact that there are many kinds of FGM, one of which is exactly analogous to standard male circumcision

comelately
19-09-2016, 04:43 PM
I know this isn't university, but I feel a citation is called for here.

Mr. Tea
19-09-2016, 05:25 PM
I'll have a look when I get home and post it here, if I remember. But I'm not, you know, inventing this stuff.

baboon2004
19-09-2016, 05:29 PM
@Tea - If I've missed your point, it's only because it's not very clear what your point actually IS amidst all the rhetoric.

If you're (all of a sudden) interested in the concrete consequences of people's actions, then you should be looking at the damaging consequences of the actions of those who ride roughshod over the rights of others (eg looking at the consequences of someone like Lionel Shriver being allowed to spout right-wing rubbish in the name of freedom of speech - given that big name authors' opinions do have clout), rather than being obsessed with a few silly stories about accusations of cultural appropriation that have been, well, silly.

I would understand your being so angry at the "social media echo chamber" people if they were somehow having some real effect on you, but they're not. Why do they matter so much to you, other than as people to work out your anger upon? Attacking them won't make the world better either.

Hysterical irreason - I haven't heard of any of these. But you're sounding like you're very confused as to the direction/s in which discrimination has operated throughout history, and how this has been totally driven by 'hysterical irreason'. It's like laying the onus upon the (very recent) pushback to discrimination to be totally levelheaded/rational, whilst the original centuries of discrimination were crazed, paranoid, hysterical lunacy. 'Slightly' unfair and victim blaming in the main, don't you think?

Moral relativism - Here you have a point (which I recognised with my initial reply to the thread). As I said, many prominent left-wing parties have regrettable judgment internationally, in their rush to support regimes that either (i) declare themselves socialist, but couldn't be less so/are not any longer or (ii) are simply anti-American. The unfortunate fact is that most governments are pretty abhorrent, and the ones that aren't are generally snuffed out pretty quickly by one of the Big Three - and any decent left internationalist policy would speak plainly about this.

Mr. Tea
19-09-2016, 05:30 PM
Absolving some people of responsibility because 'what do you expect?' and treating others as completely free & responsible moral agents is pretty much involved in any kind of moral system. Not sure where relativism comes into it; it does feel like a snarl word here and little else.

I'd have thought this was a screamingly obvious case of moral relativism, i.e. the relative moral severity of a crime - in this case rape - is is dependent on the native culture of the perpetrator.

But I'm actually pretty ambivalent about this particular instance. I mean, I genuinely can't decide whether it's an egregious example of the racism of low expectations, or a courageously honest admission that the culture in large parts of the Muslim world is wildly misogynistic in ways that most Europeans can't understand. (That said, I probably wouldn't be too chuffed if I were a Swedish rape victim seeing my attacker get a lighter sentence because he was born in Kabul rather than Stockholm.)

baboon2004
19-09-2016, 05:40 PM
There are feminists who insist, point blank, that any opposition to male circumcision is effectively an endorsement for FGM. It's like saying that anyone who campaigns against knife crime is happy about people getting shot.

Is your point that....what is your point? That someone who identified as a feminist once said something ridiculous? Also, what about hearing about all the crazy things men have said about FGM - could you compile some of those, cos I bet the list is longer?

"courageously honest admission that the culture in large parts of the Muslim world is wildly misogynistic in ways that most Europeans can't understand" - yep, in Europe men willingly gave women all the rights they now enjoy, of course. Saying that Europeans can't understand wild misogyny is silly.
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/04/the-real-roots-of-sexism-in-the-middle-east-its-not-islam-race-or-hate/256362/ this is interesting, as attempts to historicise always are

it's also important to be clear that even the EU thinks that 'Violence against women is “an extensive human rights abuse” across Europe' https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2014/mar/05/violence-against-women-european-union-physical-sexual-abuse

comelately
19-09-2016, 06:25 PM
I'd have thought this was a screamingly obvious case of moral relativism, i.e. the relative moral severity of a crime - in this case rape - is is dependent on the native culture of the perpetrator.

But I'm actually pretty ambivalent about this particular instance. I mean, I genuinely can't decide whether it's an egregious example of the racism of low expectations, or a courageously honest admission that the culture in large parts of the Muslim world is wildly misogynistic in ways that most Europeans can't understand. (That said, I probably wouldn't be too chuffed if I were a Swedish rape victim seeing my attacker get a lighter sentence because he was born in Kabul rather than Stockholm.)

1. You listed this under 'hysterical irreason', rather than moral relativism (Not that it was either). Kinda speaks to my point about snarl words.

2. You might want to pick an example that you actually want to stand behind firmly, unless your intention is to just get as much Breitbart schtick in as possible.

3. Yeah, your reading of her statement as inherently relativistic is fundamentally misguided. There is nothing in her statement which doesn't align with general notions of mitigation within our own western culture. Not relativism.

baboon2004
19-09-2016, 06:46 PM
Totally spot on. And after witnessing the crywank carnival that was the day after Brexit, I am totally done with the left. Well, until Bob Crow Brigade returns to give anyone who says "We need to talk about..." a good kicking.


Crywanking is not an exclusively left-wing sport...one prominent figure on the left has been kicked daily since June 23 for NOT caring enough about Brexit...what's his name again...

Mr. Tea
19-09-2016, 07:42 PM
I know this isn't university, but I feel a citation is called for here.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jun/27/circumcision-ruling-germany-muslim-jewish


Women's rights groups and social policy makers also condemned the decision, but for the reason that it would have the effect of putting male and female circumcision on the same footing, when they were "in no way comparable", said Katrin Altpeter, social minister in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

They might have a quarter of a point if FGM wasn't already illegal in Germany, but it is, and has been for decades. People have been sent to jail for it, which is more than be said for the UK, AFAIK.


Is your point that....what is your point? That someone who identified as a feminist once said something ridiculous?

It's not just "someone" though, is it, it's people speaking on behalf of pressure groups. And it's a fairly widespread feminist position.

Mr. Tea
19-09-2016, 07:46 PM
1. You listed this under 'hysterical irreason', rather than moral relativism (Not that it was either). Kinda speaks to my point about snarl words.

They're hardly mutually exclusive.


2. You might want to pick an example that you actually want to stand behind firmly, unless your intention is to just get as much Breitbart schtick in as possible.

Lol, whatever. 'Breitbart'? I feel it's only a matter of time before I'm 'basically Hitler'.


Not relativism.

It's a fucking textbook example, what's wrong with you?

comelately
19-09-2016, 07:47 PM
Despite all the accusations of postmodernism, 'relativism' and the like - Leo Strauss came before Derrida, and they're really not that different in many ways. It's just that the right hide their post-truth machinations in estoteria and nuance, whereas the left do frequently, it seems to me at least, appear to be more vulgar in their attempts to undercut objective notions of truth.

Benny B
19-09-2016, 08:00 PM
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jun/27/circumcision-ruling-germany-muslim-jewish



They might have a quarter of a point if FGM wasn't already illegal in Germany, but it is, and has been for decades. People have been sent to jail for it, which is more than be said for the UK, AFAIK.



It's not just "someone" though, is it, it's people speaking on behalf of pressure groups. And it's a fairly widespread feminist position.


sorry but which part of that article supports your "there are feminists who insist, point blank, that any opposition to male circumcision is effectively an endorsement for FGM", thus proving that its a "fairly widespread feminist position"? You're being reductive.

When it comes to feminists criticising 'intactivists', its usually stuff like this they've got a problem with, which is why I mentioned MRAs.

http://www.theestablishment.co/2016/02/17/how-mens-rights-activists-hijacked-the-circumcision-debate/

comelately
19-09-2016, 08:20 PM
It's a fucking textbook example, what's wrong with you?

How strange, I thought you were ambivalent about it.

A morally relativistic point of view would be to say that if a rape was to take place in a culture where rape is not considered morally wrong, then it would be essentially incoherent for someone outside that culture to state that it was morally wrong. Or to put it formally;

a) There was a rape within 'Culture A'
b) rape is not considered to be morally wrong in 'Culture A'

ergo:
c) the rape was not morally wrong

That isn't what she was saying. She was stating, implicitly, that the cultural background of the perpetrator has *some bearing* in determining their precise level of culpability. I do understand that this may seem nuanced, but it at no point is making the claim that the culture of the perp cannot be said to be morally inferior; indeed, as you suggest yourself, the opposite position may easily be inferred from the suggestion that Swedish culture produces more fully free moral agents than Islamic cultures.

So not relativist, or hysterical, or irrational. You may disagree, but at some point the challenge is going be to actually provide some kind of objective foundation for your morals. Because noone else has managed it yet. Just saying.

comelately
19-09-2016, 08:31 PM
sorry but which part of that article supports your "there are feminists who insist, point blank, that any opposition to male circumcision is effectively an endorsement for FGM", thus proving that its a "fairly widespread feminist position"? You're being reductive.

This. If you're going to say 'point blank', then you pretty much have to deliver the quote verbatim not find it vaguely implied by one person.

baboon2004
19-09-2016, 09:20 PM
It's not just "someone" though, is it, it's people speaking on behalf of pressure groups. And it's a fairly widespread feminist position.

I didn't know who it was, cos afai could see, you hadn't linked to any evidence at the point at which I wrote that. So, women's rights groups and social policy makers, it was, says the article.

So it's a widespread position among feminists think that "any opposition to male circumcision is effectively an endorsement for FGM"? I think you'll need to back that one up with some evidence. Edit: I see someone beat me to that punch

And the person who's actually quoted in that article you linked to isn't identified as a feminist, but rather as a social policy maker, who happens to be a woman. So, is this a widespread social policy maker position as well?

To be honest, at this point, you look like you're fishing around for things to be outraged by, in precisely the same manner as you're criticising others (the 'social media echo chamber' people etc) for doing. Which links back to the original speech from Lionel Shriver, cos that was her schtick -the awful infringements upon her liberty that don't even exist, as she's free to write what she damn well pleases, and does so, no matter how offensive others find it.

And in the process of hunting out these outrages, you and she are totally misrepresenting the power balance in the actual world, presenting people from groups that have historically been discriminated against (non-white people, women), and continue to be the subject of mass discrimination, as the 'true' aggressors to be held to account.

comelately
19-09-2016, 09:38 PM
“The right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood” - Keith Olbermann. But bemoans 'weaponized victimhood' at every turn.

I mean how any white guy can read the more absurdist #radfem schtick and do anything but laugh is beyond me.

baboon2004
19-09-2016, 09:40 PM
Yep, if you're going to weaponise victimhood, at least have the good grace to be a victim in the first place.

I'm glad that quote exists, it's very useful.

comelately
19-09-2016, 09:57 PM
@comelately - interesting point about the Lab-LibDem coalition that never happened. What do you envisage would have happened since then in that alternative universe, though?

Hard to say. Would it have split the Tory Party? Yeah, maybe - I think a lot of them would have joined either New Labour, the LibDems or UKIP. Some of them might have gone AnCap. Things would have remained very centrist, but I think there's every reason to believe that electoral reform would have left us in a much less scary place than the one we find ourselves in right now.

vimothy
19-09-2016, 09:59 PM
The last fifty years have not been kind to the right, so their pitiful state is understandable, if not exactly aesthetically pleasing.

Mr. Tea
19-09-2016, 10:56 PM
sorry but which part of that article supports your "there are feminists who insist, point blank, that any opposition to male circumcision is effectively an endorsement for FGM", thus proving that its a "fairly widespread feminist position"? You're being reductive.


I've seen it voiced elsewhere. Oddly enough I don't keep a scrapbook of links of everything I've ever seen on the internet.

craner
19-09-2016, 11:52 PM
Leo Strauss can't really be conflated with Derrida. I know what you're saying, but it's a fundamental misunderstanding of their original positions in regard to Heidegger. And Srauss has absolutely no connection to the emergent alt-right. To be honest, in a number of ways, neither does the original Tea Party platform, far more political and legalistic than the current Trumpwagon, viz. Elizabeth Foley's 'The Tea Party' (CUP, 2010): limited government, US Sovereignty, Constitutional Originalism.

comelately
20-09-2016, 12:11 AM
Leo Strauss can't really be conflated with Derrida. I know what you're saying, but it's a fundamental misunderstanding of their original positions in regard to Heidegger. And Srauss has absolutely no connection to the emergent alt-right. To be honest, in a number of ways, neither does the original Tea Party platform, far more political and legalistic than the current Trumpwagon, viz. Elizabeth Foley's 'The Tea Party' (CUP, 2010): limited government, US Sovereignty, Constitutional Originalism.

I appreciate they have different positions on Heidegger ergo they are v
different philosophies in some respects. In simple terms, they both do make a break with enlightenment notions of truth (though Strauss breaks with it largely, perhaps, to culturally defend it). Rorty certainly cited Strauss as a major influence. Ultimately Strauss wrote esoterically so it's very easy to say 'I understand it in a higher level than you'.....maybe. Their jumping off point for both is largely Heidegger, their views on intention are clearly different and that's possibly an area where the right get something right. I may look at this tomorrow.

Agreed also on the alt-right, who are clearly distinct from neoconservatists to a large degree - though when neoconservatists espouse different truths for different people, I think one can be sceptical about their complete separation from the alt-right without going full tinfoil. Strauss is the ideology of the generals, what the footsoldiers believe is a different matter - this is potentially a simplification; I am not sure I want to know what really goes on in the mind of Ted Cruz, for example. But you get the general idea.

vimothy
20-09-2016, 11:12 AM
I think it's fair to associate the traditional right with moral relativism (to an extent - though it's generally more cultural particularism than the extreme moral relativism discussed here), but not the contemporary liberal right, - including the neocons - who strike me as committed universalists.

comelately
20-09-2016, 11:51 AM
Well I think neocons frequently like the idea of an universalist culture because reasons, rather than actually believing in universals. I was at school (not Eton, he was only there for 6th form in a choral scholarship) with Douglas Murray; he called his book 'Neoconservatism: why we need it's, not 'why it is true'. I remember seeing him in Hardtalk, and he quietly revealed himself to be a pluralist - but the role of neocon is a) fun for him, b) he's good at it, c) it pays, d) he thinks it is a necessary force because reasons.

There's no doubt that there has been a lot of people on the internet who thought they believed in the NAP. But that's falling apart; I had to explain to some YouTube ranter the other week that being in favour of death squads targeting peaceful anarcho-communusts isn't really compatible with the NAP. The 'social libertarian' movement of a few months ago came out of the realisation that ppl needed the co-op station of private companies to disseminate views on the internet (this has largely been folded into the alt-right, or the personality cults of Milo and Trump). These ppl might think they're universalists but it's a bit of a bad joke.

I would largely argue for particularism, along with Jonathan Dancy. But I appreciate the potential for cultural instability in such ideas. I guess this is why Isaiah Berlin wanted to be morally plurally and an universalist; not really sure that works though.

Tl;dr - they might identify as universalist, but I don't think their thought system is particularly universalist.

comelately
20-09-2016, 03:04 PM
http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/2015/07/john-gray-friedrich-hayek-i-knew-and-what-he-got-right-and-wrong

vimothy
21-09-2016, 09:55 AM
From the John Gray article - good summary of what the liberal mainstream (both left and right) get wrong:


Hayek’s belief that vital freedoms can be enshrined in law and thereby taken out of politics is ultimately delusive. But it is not an aberration peculiar to the brand of right-wing liberalism that he professed. An anti-political liberalism is the ruling illusion of the current generation of progressive thinkers. Philosophers such as John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin had views of justice very different from Hayek’s. Whereas Hayek rejected any redistribution of income beyond that required by a minimum level of subsistence, Rawls and Dworkin demanded different versions of egalitarianism. What all these thinkers had in common was the idea that reasonable people will converge on a shared conception of what justice requires. In this view, politics isn’t a rough-and-tumble in which rival interests and ideals contend with one another unceasingly, but a collective process of deliberation that leads to a common set of values. Some such vision seems to have possessed Ed Miliband, until he discovered that his ideal of equality was not widely held and the parliamentary road to predistribution was closed.

sufi
22-09-2016, 07:01 PM
I really love this, and i'm sure others will absolutely hate it :)

"Racism comes out of our pores as white people. It's the way that we are."

http://stateofopportunity.michiganradio.org/post/why-all-white-people-are-racist-cant-handle-being-called-racist-theory-white-fragility

explains why opposing conclusions are drawn as "self-evident" from the same stories and how guiltless enabling of racism works so well ...

Benny B
22-09-2016, 08:11 PM
From the John Gray article - good summary of what the liberal mainstream (both left and right) get wrong:


Hayek’s belief that vital freedoms can be enshrined in law and thereby taken out of politics is ultimately delusive. But it is not an aberration peculiar to the brand of right-wing liberalism that he professed. An anti-political liberalism is the ruling illusion of the current generation of progressive thinkers. Philosophers such as John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin had views of justice very different from Hayek’s. Whereas Hayek rejected any redistribution of income beyond that required by a minimum level of subsistence, Rawls and Dworkin demanded different versions of egalitarianism. What all these thinkers had in common was the idea that reasonable people will converge on a shared conception of what justice requires. In this view, politics isn’t a rough-and-tumble in which rival interests and ideals contend with one another unceasingly, but a collective process of deliberation that leads to a common set of values. Some such vision seems to have possessed Ed Miliband, until he discovered that his ideal of equality was not widely held and the parliamentary road to predistribution was closed.


This reminds me of something I saw on twitter the other day talking about liberals: how its nuts that liberals talk positively about the "free marketplace of ideas" where people naturally gravitate towards the best ideas, but don't support actual free markets of real things - so they're arguing from an analogy that they don't actually support.

also this, "The paradox of the free market liberal": http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/opinion/sunday/the-paradox-of-the-free-market-liberal.html?_r=0

vimothy
22-09-2016, 08:44 PM
I read it and didn't hate it. I don't think it makes much sense, though. On the one hand, racism is structural (therefore pervasive and impersonal); on the other hand, we're all personally responsible for it (if we are white). We can also become better people by being mindful of our whiteness (even though this has no effect on a structural level).

comelately
24-09-2016, 11:06 AM
This reminds me of something I saw on twitter the other day talking about liberals: how its nuts that liberals talk positively about the "free marketplace of ideas" where people naturally gravitate towards the best ideas, but don't support actual free markets of real things - so they're arguing from an analogy that they don't actually support.

Isn't that more or less a category mistake though? Analogies are to be used to support specific positions, they are not to be supported in themselves - or at least one doesn't have to support the use of an analogy in every situation, in order to support its use in some.

I think saying that "liberals talk positively about the "free marketplace of ideas"" is a a very broad-brush generalisation, and pretty close to a strawman.

comelately
24-09-2016, 11:48 AM
I am not sure I want to know what really goes on in the mind of Ted Cruz, for example.

I think we now have a better idea about that lol.

baboon2004
24-09-2016, 12:20 PM
I read it and didn't hate it. I don't think it makes much sense, though. On the one hand, racism is structural (therefore pervasive and impersonal); on the other hand, we're all personally responsible for it (if we are white). We can also become better people by being mindful of our whiteness (even though this has no effect on a structural level).

Structures are maintained by the actions of people. Your last statement in brackets isn't true at all - it's exactly when a lot/critical mass of people become mindful of structural racism and whiteness, that effects are seen on a structural level. That's how all change occurs. And it requires a few people to start it - most people base their opinions upon the prevailing cultural currents, so as soon as they see others thinking about race in a different way, they may consider it too.

Otoh, in reference to the article, I'm not sure I agree that 'all white people are racist' is a helpful way of putting things, more that racism is a system of privilege that white people can choose to plug into and use for their advantage at a million different points in any day. Whether they choose to do so, and to what extent they resist simply assuming that privilege, defines whether they're racist or not; no-one is essentially racist (hence change is possible), though every white person on earth does things that are racist in using their white privilege. It's too pervasive a system for that not to be true.

This however is a very good way of putting things: "Almost any defensiveness that you get from a white person trying to talk about racism is rooted in that good/bad binary," DiAngelo says. "They hear you saying, 'You are a bad person.'" It's why most conversations about racism or any kind of discrimination don't go anywhere, because people have a very low tolerance to any suggestion they might be a bad person (and the question as to why people's ego strength is so low is vital, of course - loads of possibilities), and misinterpret 'those things you do are bad - think about changing them' as 'you are inherently a terrible person'.

vimothy
25-09-2016, 09:20 AM
Structures are maintained by the actions of people. Your last statement in brackets isn't true at all - it's exactly when a lot/critical mass of people become mindful of structural racism and whiteness, that effects are seen on a structural level. That's how all change occurs. And it requires a few people to start it - most people base their opinions upon the prevailing cultural currents, so as soon as they see others thinking about race in a different way, they may consider it too.

If sufficient people become mindful of their racism and are therefore motivated to effect structural change, that's one thing, but being mindful isn't the same as structural change nor does it necessarily lead to it. One of the points made in that article is that it doesn't matter what you as an individual think or do as an individual, you still participate in a system that is racist, so don't feel good about yourself ("racism comes out of our pores as white people", etc).

baboon2004
25-09-2016, 10:32 AM
If sufficient people become mindful of their racism and are therefore motivated to effect structural change, that's one thing, but being mindful isn't the same as structural change nor does it necessarily lead to it. One of the points made in that article is that it doesn't matter what you as an individual think or do as an individual, you still participate in a system that is racist, so don't feel good about yourself ("racism comes out of our pores as white people", etc).

We're just using different definitions of what 'being mindful' entails, that's all. To me, being mindful of one's whiteness involves a different response to events. And racist structures are perpetuated because they are reinvigorated every day by the actions of many people, including many who don't see themselves as contributing to those structures. As soon as people cease reinvigorating them daily, I think that is where structural change begins.

I don't agree with the part of the article you've quoted, for the reasons in my previous post. It very much matters what you think and do as an individual, even if you don't get everything right. A racist system relies upon 'white' people believing that whiteness has substance other than as a arbitrary category with a particular history, designed to protect privilege (and to divide and rule).

vimothy
27-09-2016, 05:05 PM
I discovered another article by Lionel Shriver that possibly deserves to go in this thread. It's about the disappearance of Europe, with a discussion of the philosophical and moral changes that are bringing it about.


Western fertility started to dive in the 70s... Numerous factors have contributed to the Incredible Shrinking Family...

Yet all of these contributing elements may be subsidiary to a larger transformation in western culture no less profound than our collective consensus on what life is for.

(...)

I propose that we have now experienced a second demographic transition. Rather than economics, the engine driving Europe's "birth dearth" is existential.

To be almost ridiculously sweeping: baby boomers and their offspring have shifted emphasis from the communal to the individual, from the future to the present, from virtue to personal satisfaction. Increasingly secular, we pledge allegiance to lower-case gods of our private devising. We are less concerned with leading a good life than the good life. We are less likely than our predecessors to ask ourselves whether we serve a greater social purpose; we are more likely to ask if we are happy. We shun values such as self-sacrifice and duty as the pitfalls of suckers. We give little thought to the perpetuation of lineage, culture or nation; we take our heritage for granted. We are ahistorical. We measure the value of our lives within the brackets of our own births and deaths, and don't especially care what happens once we're dead. As we age - oh, so reluctantly! - we are apt to look back on our pasts and ask not 'Did I serve family, God and country?' but 'Did I ever get to Cuba, or run a marathon? Did I take up landscape painting? Was I fat?' We will assess the success of our lives in accordance not with whether they were righteous, but with whether they were interesting and fun.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2005/sep/17/society

droid
28-09-2016, 10:39 AM
SHRIVER IS A POX.

luka
03-10-2016, 12:41 PM
barty barges into the thread, says loads of well contentious stuff ('sometimes its necessary to gas the jews') then backs out saying, 'i dont argue about politics on dissensus anymore so dont even bother raising an eyebrow at any of this stuff k thx'

Mr. Tea
03-10-2016, 03:02 PM
barty barges into the thread, says loads of well contentious stuff ('sometimes its necessary to gas the jews') then backs out saying, 'i dont argue about politics on dissensus anymore so dont even bother raising an eyebrow at any of this stuff k thx'

Followed up with a 'your Top Ten death camps' poll.

droid
03-10-2016, 03:27 PM
Still annoyed that Treblinka lost out to Omarska. That wasnt even the best Serbian death camp.

Corpsey
06-10-2016, 11:03 AM
This however is a very good way of putting things: "Almost any defensiveness that you get from a white person trying to talk about racism is rooted in that good/bad binary," DiAngelo says. "They hear you saying, 'You are a bad person.'" It's why most conversations about racism or any kind of discrimination don't go anywhere, because people have a very low tolerance to any suggestion they might be a bad person (and the question as to why people's ego strength is so low is vital, of course - loads of possibilities), and misinterpret 'those things you do are bad - think about changing them' as 'you are inherently a terrible person'.

This chimes in with Dale Carnegie's famous 'How To Win Friends and Influence People' which I've been reading this week. (The cover story being 'I'm just interested to see what this very popular book says'.) He counsels readers to never tell anybody 'you're wrong', because what they'll really hear is 'you're stupid', no matter how clever they are. People will hold onto 'their' opinion, even if they aren't really aware of WHY it is 'their' opinion, and even if it ISN'T 'their' opinion - I've felt this when playing devil's advocate before.

Relevant to this thread, perhaps, because I personally see left/right arguments online as devolving very quickly, if not instantly, to shit-throwing contests. And I'm as guilty of that as any. I consider (without any consideration whatsoever) anybody who is a member of the Tory cabinet to be a priori evil scum. And would tell them so, were I distanced enough from their faces.

Mr. Tea
06-10-2016, 12:41 PM
A problem that I've found to be prevalent among both the Left and Right - and more prevalent the further you head towards each extreme, generally - is that nowadays everyone is an expert on everything, because no-one has the right to tell anyone else their beliefs are untrue or their reasoning faulty. It's all of a piece with 'post-fact politics', Gove's obnoxious but actually fairly perceptive statement that "people have had enough of experts", and I can't help but link it to a worrying tendency among many apparently left-wing people to use the word 'rationalism' with scarcely less venom than they might say 'racism' or 'Fascism'.

vimothy
06-10-2016, 05:39 PM
Something I thought was noticeable with Brexit was that people who thought that it was morally wrong predicted dire economic consequences and people who thought it morally right predicted only the sunny uplands from here on in. So moral intuition determined economic assessment, rather than vice versa (which seems more immediately rational).

sadmanbarty
02-11-2016, 11:30 AM
barty barges into the thread, says loads of well contentious stuff ('sometimes its necessary to gas the jews') then backs out saying, 'i dont argue about politics on dissensus anymore so dont even bother raising an eyebrow at any of this stuff k thx'

I've just been catching up with the politics threads and did cringe a little when I read my post.

Mr. Tea
02-11-2016, 12:06 PM
I've just been catching up with the politics threads and did cringe a little when I read my post.

The path to enlightenment starts with self-knowledge.

Benny B
09-12-2016, 09:48 AM
Regarding the discussion about cultural appropriation at the beginning of the thread, this blog post is one of the best things I've read on the subject. I'll quote some here but its well worth reading the whole thing. I especially like the list of questions that people making a claim about cultural appropriation need to consider first.

http://fredrikdeboer.com/2016/12/01/no-one-has-the-slightest-idea-what-is-and-isnt-cultural-appropriation/


There’s no coherent theory of cultural appropriation that can include all or most of the times that these claims are made that does not necessarily indict the people making the charge. No one will rise to this challenge. They can’t do it, and their attempts to do so will stand in direct and explicit contradiction with other people’s attempts.

You want a rule? Don’t mimic or perform being a type of person that you intend others to recognize as such, especially when that involves exaggeration or when intended to inspire contempt or humor. That is a rule about people, not a rule about culture. If you are knowingly attempting to look or act like a member of a group that others would recognize – if the point is to be recognized as doing so – then you are already guilty. That has nothing to do with cultural borrowing. It has to do with the mutual recognition of you and the people you are dressing up for that you are intentionally adopting another group as a role, costume, or similar. So no blackface, no Mexican “costumes” on Cinco de Mayo, no wearing a Native American headdress, no “talking ghetto.” If you intend to be seen as part of a group that you know you would not naturally be perceived as part of being, then it’s wrong. It’s not complicated.

Still haven't read that Lionel Shriver thing so I dunno where it fits in, but I suppose this is what Mr Tea was trying to get at when he complained about spurious cases of cultural appropriation - though expressed much more eloquently, obviously ;)

Mr. Tea
09-12-2016, 10:50 AM
That sounds like a reasonable rule. Interesting that the examples should include people pretending to be Mexican. I recall a couple of years ago, around Hallowe'en, seeing among some friends of friends on Facebook the spectacle of some white British people going nuts, and I mean absolutely apeshit, at other white Brits for the crime of making/eating/selling/giving away sugar skulls. Because they're, you know, Mexican. As if anyone in Mexico would give half a shit if some of their compatriots decided to make jack-o-lanterns or wear pointy black hats.

But clearly there is a world of difference between that and someone wearing a ton of fake tan, a sombrero and a poncho and going around talking in a "Mexican" accent.

vimothy
09-12-2016, 11:15 AM
Why would anyone care in either case?

Benny B
09-12-2016, 11:25 AM
hah, just having a skim of the lionel shriver piece now and I see the mexican thing comes up as her first example!

I kind of agree with her that writing fiction shouldn't be condemned as 'cultural appropriation' (though it might be condemned for other reasons perhaps, depending on each individual case), but her defending people wearing sombreros at a mexican-themed party is really quite odious and an awful example to use in defence of her argument. They're really not the same thing, as the rule in that blog post quite nicely illustrates.

I guess cultural appropriation isn't really a very useful term then.

Corpsey
09-12-2016, 11:32 AM
I must admit I don't see mexican themed parties involving tequila and sombreros as particularly odious but then I've got no culture of my own to appropriate so perhaps that's why? Also I've never even met a real life Mexican and I guess if I had a mexican friend I wouldn't feel quite so comfortable about donning the sombrero and screaming 'tequilaaaa!' like el guapo from The Three Amigos.

I guess nun/priest themed costume parties are also 'cultural appropriation' and therefore odious? Same with wearing Hawaian shirts and flowery garlands, etc.?

Basically the fancy dress industry is in deep trouble.

Mr. Tea
09-12-2016, 11:39 AM
Why would anyone care in either case?

Ah, the trademark vimothian obtuseness! Well, at a pretty basic level, surely you appreciate the difference between adopting elements of another country's material culture (or even music, dance etc.) because it's fun/interesting/attractive/tasty or whatever, and pretending to be a person from that country? I mean, whatever your intention, there is surely a large risk that anyone who actually is from that country is going to see it as parody, even outright mockery.



I guess cultural appropriation isn't really a very useful term then.

Perhaps if we just said "talking the piss" instead, it'd be more direct and less prissy-sounding and maybe more liable to being taken seriously.

vimothy
09-12-2016, 11:41 AM
Basically the fancy dress industry is in deep trouble.

I'm going to have to have some strong words with people at the office Christmas party.

Mr. Tea
09-12-2016, 11:50 AM
I must admit I don't see mexican themed parties involving tequila and sombreros as particularly odious...

Well there's probably a sliding scale, I guess. Of course drinking tequila doesn't constitute "pretending to be Mexican" any more than drinking gin and tonic constitutes "pretending to be English". Even wearing a sombrero, in itself, is surely not a big deal unless you're the sort of dreary prig who thinks there ought to be a special Cultural Hat Police. But I don't think you have to go out of your way to be offended by a white person 'browning up', wearing a stick-on droopy moustache and putting on a "White pussy! Black pussy!"-type 'Mexican' accent.


...but then I've got no culture of my own to appropriate so perhaps that's why?

I appreciate the deliberate irony here, but lol all the same.

Corpsey
09-12-2016, 12:10 PM
I think this is one of those things I'm condemned by my upbringing to not understand, or at least not be able to feel properly outraged about. The white privilege runs deep. I guess the only thing that separates me from Jeremy Clarkson here is that I know I'm wrong.


"White pussy! Black pussy!"-type

EH?!

baboon2004
09-12-2016, 12:16 PM
What makes cultural appropriation a problem is the relative power balance between the people appropriating and the people who feel that their culture is being appropriated, I think that has to be mentioned first and foremost.

It seems to me that c.a. is about about people who have less power materially or culturally (in terms of making their voices heard) being further hindered by people from a group with more power taking cultural tropes and either: (i) using them for monetary gain in a way that crowds out the market and diminishes the ability of the less powerful group to profit from culture that they have originated, or (ii) using them for cultural gain, so that members of a more powerful group end up strongly influencing how the experiences of a less powerful group are viewed by the world at large (a warping of empathy, basically).

Re writing fiction - I think that literary types get away with things that others supposedly less intellectual would not. What if Eminem suggested that he was going to write a concept album from the point of view of an African-American - I wonder how that would be judged?

I wouldn't call blackface or similar 'cultural appropriation' at all tbh - it's just straight up racist carcicature, done in a spirit of mockery/contempt/patronisingness. I think Lionel Shriver is intentionally muddying the waters by choosing such an example.

droid
09-12-2016, 12:19 PM
Shriver is a pox. Writes a white American family drama where the only black character is a drooling simpleton who has to be kept on a leash AND defends iggy azalea.

firefinga
09-12-2016, 12:24 PM
The white privilege runs deep.
EH?!

Yes, I am fully indulging in the white privilege thing 5-6 days a week about 50 hrs to bring in the cash so In the process my taxes can be used to fuel college courses and build safe spaces and giving the brightest of the young the opportunity of being in constant alert mode regarding being triggered and being victimized by micro-aggressions.

Corpsey
09-12-2016, 12:25 PM
Shriver is a pox. Writes a white American family drama...

You had me at

Corpsey
09-12-2016, 12:26 PM
Yes, I am fully indulging in the white privilege thing 5-6 days a week about 50 hrs to bring in the cash so In the process my taxes can be used to fuel college courses and build safe spaces and giving the brightest of the young the opportunity of being in constant alert mode regarding being triggered and being victimized by micro-aggressions.

https://i.imgur.com/zOWspvR.png

Benny B
09-12-2016, 12:28 PM
What makes cultural appropriation a problem is the relative power balance between the people appropriating and the people who feel that their culture is being appropriated, I think that has to be mentioned first and foremost.

.

Fine and I agree with you and Droid that what Shriver is saying (and no doubt her fiction work too, though I haven't read it) is highly dickish. But... using 'cultural appropriation' as a critique is problematic itself and raises a lot more questions than it answers. From the Freddie deBoer blog post...


What defines the “relative power” of vast and complex cultures, when people claim that the problem is power imbalances? Given that any culture contains vast internal inequality in political power, economic power, social status, etc, what is the coherent meaning of a culture’s relative power? Is it perfectly congruent with the historical military and economic power of a given country? Is it simply an artifact of historical imperialism? Japan was both the victim of imperialism and guilty of imperialism. How does that historical complexity inform our understanding of its relative power? Do rising non-Western, non-European world powers like China count as appropriators or the appropriated? If the United States continues to decline in power relative to other non-Western, non-European countries, will it in time become a culture that is the victim of appropriation?

These are not trick questions. They’re not a joke. I’m not asking them rhetorically. I’m asking for actual answers, for a simple reason: if cultural appropriation is an immoral behavior that should be stopped, then it’s the duty of people saying so to articulate a positive vision of how to avoid that bad behavior. I’ve never heard such a thing, and I’ve looked really hard.

Mr. Tea
09-12-2016, 01:18 PM
EH?!

You need to watch From Dusk Till Dawn.


http://youtu.be/c9FCOAEPHHM?t=37

Edit: trigger warning - Benny, don't watch this, or I won't be held responsible for your corporeal explosion from thermonuclear outrage.

baboon2004
09-12-2016, 06:00 PM
Fine and I agree with you and Droid that what Shriver is saying (and no doubt her fiction work too, though I haven't read it) is highly dickish. But... using 'cultural appropriation' as a critique is problematic itself and raises a lot more questions than it answers. From the Freddie deBoer blog post...

Re the part of the blog you quoted - fine to ask these questions, but the suggestion that we don't know enough to give us a good guide to what cultural appropriation might be in most cases, is misplaced imo. That's because cultural appropriation usually happens precisely when there is a power imbalance -it's usually a precondition of the phenomenon, because it depends on one group riding roughshod over the will of another.

But then as said, I think I'm using a (older?) definition of what cultural appropriation is, that is different from the definition that's now dominant (and which to me seems to be unhelpfully unspecific).

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 10:59 AM
Yes, I am fully indulging in the white privilege thing 5-6 days a week about 50 hrs to bring in the cash so In the process my taxes can be used to fuel college courses and build safe spaces and giving the brightest of the young the opportunity of being in constant alert mode regarding being triggered and being victimized by micro-aggressions.


https://i.imgur.com/zOWspvR.png

Herr Finga is expressing himself in a deliberately inflammatory way, of course, but it can't be denied that he has half a point. This whole mad cult of safe spaces and no-platforming is a massive pile of wank, and it's negating the entire point of going to university, which is - or once was - to expose yourself to new ideas, broaden your horizons and maybe even learn some critical thinking skills. Not to cosset yourself in mental eiderdown for three years at great expense to the taxpayer/your parents/your future self. A culture that revolves around the idea of 'diversity' is producing a whole generation of graduates who think and feel exactly the same about everything.

I strongly suspect, or at least hope, that a large number of intelligent leftists are concerned about this, too, but are inhibited from saying anything about it either because they're employed in academia themselves or because the most vocal criticism so far is coming from conservatives. But come on, an opinion isn't bad and evil by definition just because it's being expressed in the Spectator.

luka
10-12-2016, 11:18 AM
I've explained this before but safe spaces exist to marginalise people like you tea. White middle class men with an overweening belief in their own rightness, to wriggle out from the suffocating blanket of boorish 'common sense' ie the unthinking prejudices and unexamined assumptions of the shires.

luka
10-12-2016, 11:20 AM
Boorish overbearing men who dominate discussion with guffaws and sniggers and appeals to what kpunk would call the big ovver

luka
10-12-2016, 11:21 AM
The Reasonable men, the David mitchell's of this world

luka
10-12-2016, 11:24 AM
All your rhetorical devices rely on this invocation of the Reasonable Man. I've pointed this out before. Steady on old chap, etc

luka
10-12-2016, 11:27 AM
People who then justify their domination of discussion by believing it's a product of superior cognitive ability and 'critical thinking'

luka
10-12-2016, 11:28 AM
Women's groups are safe spaces. Why might some women want an all female environment? Is that 'a massive pile of wank?'

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 01:10 PM
If women want to meet and talk in a women-only environment then that's fine by me. But that's not what I'm talking about here at all. I suspect you realize this and are just going through the old routine to wind me up.

luka
10-12-2016, 01:19 PM
far from it, im just going mad with repeating myself when you never seem to listen.

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 01:26 PM
The safe space, Ms. Byron explained, was intended to give people who might find comments “troubling” or “triggering,” a place to recuperate. The room was equipped with cookies, coloring books, bubbles, Play-Doh, calming music, pillows, blankets and a video of frolicking puppies, as well as students and staff members trained to deal with trauma. Emma Hall, a junior, rape survivor and “sexual assault peer educator” who helped set up the room and worked in it during the debate, estimates that a couple of dozen people used it. At one point she went to the lecture hall — it was packed — but after a while, she had to return to the safe space. “I was feeling bombarded by a lot of viewpoints that really go against my dearly and closely held beliefs,” Ms. Hall said.

This was done because a speaker - herself a woman - was invited to a debate, and they thought she might question the validity of "rape culture" as a concept.

There's two very dangerous things going on here: one is the equation of 'ideas I don't agree with' with 'verbal violence', and the other is the equation of 'verbal violence' with physical violence. Come on, you've got a brain. Doesn't that worry you a bit?

luka
10-12-2016, 01:28 PM
i'm talking about the concept not particular individuals.

luka
10-12-2016, 01:32 PM
that story is no different from the sun trying to demolish political correctness by making up stories about primary schools banning baa baa black sheep for being racist

Leo
10-12-2016, 02:25 PM
People who then justify their domination of discussion by believing it's a product of superior cognitive ability and 'critical thinking'

good thing dissensus doesn't have any posters like that.

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 02:40 PM
that story is no different from the sun trying to demolish political correctness by making up stories about primary schools banning baa baa black sheep for being racist

As far as I'm aware, the events it describes did actually happen. Have you got good reason to think it's made up?

Anyway, the main point remains. Do universities have a purpose other than making young people feel good about themselves for three years and eventually qualifying them for a desk job? Genuine question. Maybe they don't any more.

luka
10-12-2016, 03:11 PM
I don't think it invalidates the concept. Do you? Nor do I think getting boring people to shut up so quieter more interesting people can be heard is bad for anyone's intellectual development (acknowledging the irony Leo alludes to)

firefinga
10-12-2016, 03:44 PM
As far as I'm aware, the events it describes did actually happen. Have you got good reason to think it's made up?

Anyway, the main point remains. Do universities have a purpose other than making young people feel good about themselves for three years and eventually qualifying them for a desk job? Genuine question. Maybe they don't any more.

It's no coincidence this "safe space" fad is popping up now. Those kids want to extend their closed (insert any current social media fad) groups into the real world (or their "real world" which is colleges). Of course, they'll have a rude awekening after graduation, exacerbated exactly BECAUSE of the hermetic nature of the said "safe spaces" environment.

Leo
10-12-2016, 03:47 PM
that was a weak attempt at a joke on my part. while there have been some critical thinkers here at times, they're different from (and generally less offensive than) the type of person luka described.

luka
10-12-2016, 03:48 PM
It's no coincidence this "safe space" fad is popping up now. Those kids want to extend their closed (insert any current social media fad) groups into the real world (or their "real world" which is colleges). Of course, they'll have a rude awekening after graduation, exacerbated exactly BECAUSE of the hermetic nature of the said "safe spaces" environment.

but this is perilously close, i think, to the notion you should brutalise kids cos the real world is brutal. toughen em up school of child rearing. university is and should be a bubble.

luka
10-12-2016, 03:50 PM
and of course im not suggesting universites arent full of cossetted, precious, nuerotic, histrionic primadonnas... always have been always will be

luka
10-12-2016, 03:53 PM
but i do want to defend the concept in its original form and i do think they were created becasue they were necessary and still are necessary reagrdless of whatever inanities have been perpetrated under their name.

reactionaries use these inanities to tar the whole concept with. i think thats to be resisted.

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 04:14 PM
I don't think it invalidates the concept. Do you? Nor do I think getting boring people to shut up so quieter more interesting people can be heard is bad for anyone's intellectual development (acknowledging the irony Leo alludes to)

It's a subjective judgement who's boring and who's interesting, and the idea that student activists are 'quiet' is pretty hilarious.

luka
10-12-2016, 04:15 PM
It's a subjective judgement who's boring and who's interesting, and the idea that student activists are 'quiet' is pretty hilarious.

who said anything about student activists? im defending the concept of the safe space.

luka
10-12-2016, 04:18 PM
try to be less emotionally reactive and your critical thinking skills will improve

luka
10-12-2016, 04:20 PM
your being manipulated by stories which are deliberately designed to further a reactionary agenda. your sympathies and insitincts lean reactionary anyway but at least be more aware of whats going on and whos leading you by the nose

Benny B
10-12-2016, 04:26 PM
Tricky one this. One the one hand women absolutely need safe spaces and they do tend to get get talked over by blokes. And I do think its fine for professors to give trigger warnings if they want to for controversial subjects (though I don't think it should be mandatory for them to do so). But...

The no-platforming thing has actually been very damaging for feminists and has succeeded in shutting down important debates that need to be had. The two examples that spring to mind are Germaine Greer being no-platformed and vilified simply for believing that transwomen aren't real women. The other one is Julie Bindel who gets smeared and no-platformed on a regular basis by universities for being a transphobe for writing one article donkeys years ago that was also critical of transgender ideology, and being a 'whorephobe' for criticising the sex industry.

That last example is particularly absurd as she recently got np'd from a debate on...censorship. What's more, the debate was against Milo Yiannopoulos! (who also got banned from the debate, but only after Bindel did).

So these are people who have worked tirelessly for women's rights and the fight against male violence for decades, who give talks unpaid all over the world on a huge range of subjects that affect women, yet they get jeered, smeared and np'd now at universities in Britain when they show up for talks that have absolutely nothing to do with transgender. Its totally fucking ridiculous and tbh a lot of the blame has to be laid on the student unions and LGBT groups who have fallen under the control of clueless liberals.

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 04:38 PM
who said anything about student activists? im defending the concept of the safe space.

...which have been brought into existence by student activists.

luka
10-12-2016, 04:40 PM
point being?

luka
10-12-2016, 04:41 PM
does a safe space serve only student activists?

luka
10-12-2016, 04:46 PM
just accept my point and tell me im right the we can move on. the safe space is a neccassary concept notwithstanding any abuses and inanities commited in its name, which may, i suppose, be many, but are almost certainly overstated by a reactionary media.

luka
10-12-2016, 04:46 PM
thats all you need to concede.

firefinga
10-12-2016, 05:14 PM
thats all you need to concede.

Admit it, Luka. You are only in it for the 10 000 posts

luka
10-12-2016, 05:51 PM
a proud acheivement

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 05:58 PM
Luke, I think you've got fundamentally the wrong end of the stick. You keep talking about the phenomenon of safe spaces and no-platforming like it's a) a wholly justified reaction to, and b) the only alternative to having universities as basically an extension of 'public' school, all loud braying posh white boys and nothing else. Now I know you've started studying just recently but you hadn't been to university before that, correct? I started at university 17 years ago (a sobering thought in itself) and it wasn't like that at all, and this was years before anyone had heard of a 'safe space'. And this wasn't Oxbridge but it was still one of the relatively 'posh' universities.

So I think you're wrong when you say it's nothing more than allowing other sorts of voices to be heard in debate. When in fact it goes far, far beyond that, to the point of saying that no voices are welcome in the debate unless they're expressing an opinion from a narrowly prescribed range - such that it's not a 'debate' at all, just a room full of people telling each other how right they are. The Left has dominated student discourse since forever, at least the last fifty years - and yes, of course there are still loud braying posh white boys, especially at the older and richer Oxbridge colleges (and not like me, I mean actually posh and actually braying), but the irony is that they are the ones now saying they're being shouted down and excluded from discussion - and in some cases there may be some merit to that.

And as Benny points out, very often the people no-platformed are not even those dreaded straight white dudes but the 'wrong sort' of feminist or the 'wrong sort' of human rights campaigner. Have you heard of the Maryam Namazie/Warwick Uni case (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/sep/26/student-union-blocks-speech-activist-maryam-namazie-warwick)? And to take Benny's example of Germaine Greer - I happen to think Greer talks a load of old shite a lot of the time, but the decision not to let her speak on the grounds that her mere presence represented an existential threat to transsexual people is just ludicrous. I don't think these can be dismissed as a few irregularities in what is otherwise a really great system and a good idea.

luka
10-12-2016, 06:03 PM
im not at a proper university its a psychology and psychotherapy school theres no student politics of any kind.

luka
10-12-2016, 06:06 PM
https://www.goldsmithssu.org/pageassets/yourunion/governance/policies/Safe-Space-Policy.pdf

heres an exmaple of what these things look like. you can scoff, and i do, at asking people to use simple language and uncomplicated ideas lol, but otherwise whats the big deal?

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 06:48 PM
The bit about speaking slowly and clearly makes me wonder about the quality of English they expect in overseas students, I have to say.

I dunno, each individual bit sounds fine by itself. It's more the length and specificity of it that makes me uneasy. Like, as a white, male, native English speaker, I'd be worried about saying "Hello, my name's..." and inadvertently causing some mortal offence.

luka
10-12-2016, 06:55 PM
well we are middle aged men. each generation has to work this stuff out by themselves in their own way. i dont think it spells the end of free speech or western civilization or anything else. mistakes made will be corrected by the next generation who will make other mistakes of their own and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 07:12 PM
i dont think it spells the end of free speech

LSE's new Free Speech Society faces immediate calls for it to be banned (http://www.independent.co.uk/student/news/london-school-of-economics-free-speech-society-faces-ban-threat-after-student-files-motion-a6853496.html)

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 07:17 PM
Yeah I know it's not, like, LITERALLY THE END OF THE WORLD but I do find it worrying and I don't think it's a good direction for our collective cultural and intellectual life to be headed in.

craner
10-12-2016, 09:36 PM
You should watch Powell & Pressburger's 'A Canterbury Tale' to realise there was once something quite wonderful about the English character and landscape.

craner
10-12-2016, 09:38 PM
I'm surprised Luke is an advocate of these pathetic "safe space" and "no platform" initiatives, considering what a rhetoricall bruiser he is.

luka
10-12-2016, 09:51 PM
That's partly why I'm an advocate of them. I can see why they're necessary by reference to my own overbearing behaviour

Corpsey
10-12-2016, 09:54 PM
LoL

This used to be a safe space for cultural theorists and dubstep fans alike

Mr. Tea
10-12-2016, 09:58 PM
I'm surprised Luke is an advocate of these pathetic "safe space" and "no platform" initiatives, considering what a rhetoricall bruiser he is.

Careful, or you'll trigger the poor soul, and you wouldn't want that on your conscience. :(

comelately
11-12-2016, 08:10 AM
It is quite funny to think on just how difficult it could be to express a to express a non-conformist thought as an Politics undergraduate at Sussex 20 years ago. I remember some poor young schmo coming to our Politics Society from another university, and getting basically killed for pointing out that it wasn't necessarily hypocrisy to send your children to private school whilst believing that they should be abolished. Glen Newey (blogs for LRB, John Gray accolyte) wisely, if perhaps somewhat cravenly, found himself in the role of this opponent. The whole event shocked me; it was my first and last time at that Society (Newey also found a new home pretty quickly afterwards if I recall correctly).

I don't really know because it's entirely possible our paths just never crossed again, but I remember a bright women in my first year politics classes who was definitely a Shire Tory at completely the wrong university; maybe she just hid in the library (not unlike myself), but it might have been better for her to leave and reapply to a more sympathetic institution.

I also upset some peeps in a US Politics seminar by devils-advocating against the weeny-liberal consensus once. It would have been tiring to do it a lot.

I don't really think about these things too much, but I tend to think that the kind of power games in play then and now echo the real world just fine - it's just that different people hold the power. And it's such a tiny thing - I know people pay a lot in fees these days, but I don't remember political societies being particularly central to student life to be honest; as far as I can tell, most students paid this shit little to no mind (and rightly so). And this was before YouTube. Getting no-platformed now pretty much guarantees you a sympathetic worldwide audience on the internet, which seems to me more than a fair trade.

This idea of a 'debate' where opposing ideas are sincerely engaged with has pretty much always been a fantastical notion, which, as suggested earlier in the thread, is something the Right generally understand perfectly well. Milo, for example, talks about the importance reason and evidence but has, when being less careful, stated that 'post-fact culture' is 'wonderful' i.e. feelings matter, but only the feelings of those who agree with him, or potentially could.

comelately
11-12-2016, 08:47 AM
This was done because a speaker - herself a woman - was invited to a debate, and they thought she might question the validity of "rape culture" as a concept.

There's two very dangerous things going on here: one is the equation of 'ideas I don't agree with' with 'verbal violence', and the other is the equation of 'verbal violence' with physical violence. Come on, you've got a brain. Doesn't that worry you a bit?

I don't actually see either of those two things. Do you mean she employs a metaphor? Come on, you have an Angular Gyrus.

What worries me is that people somehow think it is illegitimate for a rape survivor to protect herself to some extent from trauma, and that whether she exposes herself to viewpoints in opposition to values is really some matter of serious import.

In this instance, a lecture went ahead and was well attended. Some people made use of an auxillary resource which in effect supported the debate. I dunno, don't you see the irony of employing 'omg they had Playdoh!' as a debate point when you're trying to uphold the sanctity of the debate space? Seems really strange to me.


I do find it worrying and I don't think it's a good direction for our collective cultural and intellectual life to be headed in.

Problematic, innit?

luka
11-12-2016, 10:01 AM
The worrying sense I get, and it's amplified by the article Corpsey linked to on the nerd thread, is that people are advocating a society based on the dominance of the few on the assumption it's natural and right and preordained whereas my, admittedly utopian, feeling, is that if a society is leaving people out of the conversation, talking over and belittling them, it's a sick society. If universities are making attempts to model, on a tiny, inconsequential scale, societies which are radically more inclusive than those found in the wider world, well I find that encouraging and not remotely contemptible.

Benny B
11-12-2016, 10:21 AM
I think its important not to conflate safe spaces and no platforming. The former is (or should) be about letting everyones voices be heard, the latter clearly isn't.

luka
11-12-2016, 10:26 AM
I think its important not to conflate safe spaces and no platforming. The former is (or should) be about letting everyones voices be heard, the latter clearly isn't.

Me too, which is why I've avoided your attempts to do so

Benny B
11-12-2016, 10:32 AM
Me too, which is why I've avoided your attempts to do so

Eh? If you look at my post i didnt say anything against safe spaces. In fact i said they were essential! I was talking about no platforming because someone else brought it up. Sheesh...

baboon2004
11-12-2016, 10:50 AM
This idea of a 'debate' where opposing ideas are sincerely engaged with has pretty much always been a fantastical notion, which, as suggested earlier in the thread, is something the Right generally understand perfectly well.

This is the key point for me.

The media furore about no-platforming and safe spaces is largely just a diversionary tactic - the wider picture clearly shows that universities are becoming more exclusionary, and changing beyond all recognition into businesses by right-wing models. That's the real, large-scale threat to ideas and debate, not these media-led frenzies about a handful of debates at Goldsmiths or whatever. Same old 'PC gone mad' arguments recycled over and over.

Side point - the 'safe spaces are infantilising' argument doesn't wash in a society largely dedicated to the ongoing infantilisation of people by making them too scared to speak any kind of truth to anyone more powerful than them for fear of losing their job, house, liberty etc.

luka
11-12-2016, 10:54 AM
You did say that it's true but because you put that one the one hand it made me feel you were conflating the two

Benny B
11-12-2016, 10:59 AM
You did say that it's true but because you put that one the one hand it made me feel you were conflating the two

thought youd know me better than that by now luka

luka
11-12-2016, 10:59 AM
Fair enough. I apologise.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 11:05 AM
I think its important not to conflate safe spaces and no platforming. The former is (or should) be about letting everyones voices be heard, the latter clearly isn't.

In theory a safe space is somewhere everyone's voice can be heard. In practice it means anyone can say anything they like as long as it isn't perceived to contravene a rather narrow range of opinions that have become an orthodoxy over the last couple of decades. Any dissenting opinion is liable to give offence and be seen as attack on someone else, and moreover on the sort of person they are, and is thus absolutely taboo.

Further, because offence is entirely in the eye of the offendee, that means I can 'call you out' (force you to shut up) pretty much for no reason other than I don't like the tone of your voice. Especially if you happen to be a white male and I'm not.

luka
11-12-2016, 11:11 AM
Surely all of us are too old to have direct experience of a safe space?

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 11:19 AM
Also it's rather disingenuous to treat safe spaces and no-platforming as two separate phenomena. The entire reasoning behind no-platforming is supposedly to make the whole university a safe space at all times - the implication being that universities are unacceptably dangerous places if people with views that dissent from the orthodoxy are allowed to speak, or in some instances even to be physically allowed on the campus. And yes, this is often phrased in terms of physical danger.

luka
11-12-2016, 11:21 AM
How many safe spaces have you been in?

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 11:25 AM
Surely all of us are too old to have direct experience of a safe space?

But that's just the thing - the cloisters of UCL weren't exactly south-central LA when I went up waaay back in 1999. There were plenty of safe spaces already - a Women's Society and an LGBT Society and an Asian Society and societies for followers of every religion going. It just wasn't a widely used term in those days. And somehow people weren't committing suicide all over the place just because there was also a Conservative Society and a Friends of Israel society.

luka
11-12-2016, 11:27 AM
Why don't you address the points I've made? Why do you keep shifting terrain? It's slimy.

Benny B
11-12-2016, 11:30 AM
Im not saying the two phenomena are totally unrelated, and i agree the safe space concept has been corrupted to some extent resulting in no platforming as an extreme manifestation of it. But like luka said, the original concept is valid i think.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 11:32 AM
How many safe spaces have you been in?

Well I'm a straight white non-religious British male, just like you, so I have no need of a safe space and would very likely be highly unwelcome in one anyway.

But as I said, the no-platforming thing comes from an insistence that the whole institution must remain free from 'dangerous' ideas at all times.

luka
11-12-2016, 11:38 AM
It's just yiu seem so knowledgeable about how they work in practice

luka
11-12-2016, 11:38 AM
I find that peculiar. It raises an eyebrow.

baboon2004
11-12-2016, 11:42 AM
In theory a safe space is somewhere everyone's voice can be heard. In practice it means anyone can say anything they like as long as it isn't perceived to contravene a rather narrow range of opinions that have become an orthodoxy over the last couple of decades.

Sounds a bit like Western liberal democracy when you put it that way.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 11:44 AM
It's just yiu seem so knowledgeable about how they work in practice

I've read plenty about them, and much of it written by intelligent people with good progressive credentials. News stories in publications generally sympathetic to feminism, anti-colonialism, identity politics generally. I have friends who are students or academics.

firefinga
11-12-2016, 11:46 AM
Further, because offence is entirely in the eye of the offendee

Being "offended" by whatever is already a self fulfilling self-victimisation.

luka
11-12-2016, 11:58 AM
I'm saying that safe spaces are an honest and not entirely stupid attempt to address a really existing social/political problem. You, it seems to me, are denying there's a problem in the first place.

Benny B
11-12-2016, 12:21 PM
Being "offended" by whatever is already a self fulfilling self-victimisation.

I think there is a valid conversation to be had about identity politics, 'special snowflakes' who like to take offence at everything and self victimisation etc. But as it stands you just sound smug and cruel

comelately
11-12-2016, 12:45 PM
I think its important not to conflate safe spaces and no platforming. The former is (or should) be about letting everyones voices be heard, the latter clearly isn't.

I agree they are largely separate, but I think it's important to be clear on what 'no platforming' actually is and what it isn't.

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/No_platform

"Too many don't understand that their voices have been heard, but that other rights-bearing people have just decided not to give them the time of day."

I ask seriously for examples of 'no platformed' people who have been marginalised to the point they could realistically be said to have been denied a voice. No platforming denies you a platform, not a voice. I'm not denying structural oppression is a thing, but the irony is that this is exactly what 'cultural libertarian' types do - attempting to pretend that their own concerns are actually about 'liberty', when they really clearly are not to anyone who has thought this through.


The entire reasoning behind no-platforming is supposedly to make the whole university a safe space at all times

Supposedly? According to whom exactly?

firefinga
11-12-2016, 01:03 PM
On the other hand "safe spaces" seem to resonance well with the obsession large parts of the public has developed with "safety" in general. Safety is one of the sales pitches of today.

comelately
11-12-2016, 01:28 PM
Alexei Sayle (I think**) is presenting a programme on R4 about safe spaces. He doesn't support them. He reckons they make no sense to activists of his (our) generation. Well, they make a damn lot of sense to me. What I'm hearing is a lot of straight white men pontificating about how we all need to be robust enough to take on people with controversial views. Only a person who belongs to no minority at all could fail to understand how truly challenging – often impossible – it is to do this from a minority position. We need safe spaces in order to make ourselves strong. Sometimes this is a matter of survival. My autistic safe space is absolutely essential to my well-being – as safe queer spaces have also been. Sometimes we need not to be challenged and questioned but to know that we are fully understood and accepted – and to have an experience of being the majority........For me, safe spaces enable more robust debate, because they give minorities a place to find a voice so that they can represent themselves in the wider arena.

** It was actually John Gray, funnily enough.

But anyway, this is the expressed view of a friend of mine a couple of months back.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 03:00 PM
Many of the fiercest advocates for safe spaces are white males, as evidenced by this thread, and believe it or not the idea has critics who are neither white nor male.

comelately
11-12-2016, 03:06 PM
Yes that's true (though they never argued against the former point), but you've cherry-picked what is almost certainly the weakest point of what they've written, and it's not a point that the rest of their views particularly rely upon.

comelately
11-12-2016, 03:31 PM
such that it's not a 'debate' at all, just a room full of people telling each other how right they are.

I actually sat through Milo and Bindel having a debate with eachother; 'Is Feminism Cancer?' - plenty they could have disagreed and debated on, they spent 95% of the time telling eachother how right they are on what they agreed upon. Strange.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 04:19 PM
I actually sat through Milo and Bindel having a debate with eachother; 'Is Feminism Cancer?' - plenty they could have disagreed and debated on, they spent 95% of the time telling eachother how right they are on what they agreed upon. Strange.

Well yeah, see several posts I've written about how the modern right - I mean the capital-R Right - is just as dependent on 'safe spaces' to block out opposing views as the Left is, even if they don't use quite same language to articulate it. This is what I was getting at in the other thread before sufi derailed it by deciding that nonbelief in the lightning manipulation skills of witchdoctors qualified me as a member of fucking Storm Front.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 04:21 PM
Being "offended" by whatever is already a self fulfilling self-victimisation.

Lol, there's always good old firefinga around to take the heat off me a bit. Cheers bro. :cool:

Benny B
11-12-2016, 04:56 PM
I actually sat through Milo and Bindel having a debate with eachother; 'Is Feminism Cancer?' - plenty they could have disagreed and debated on, they spent 95% of the time telling eachother how right they are on what they agreed upon. Strange.

Think ur exaggerating a bit here. Iirc I think the only thing they agreed upon is that no platforming is generally a bad thing. Other than that their worldviews are obviously fundamentally opposed and this came out in the debate (they debated the wage gap, rape culture etc etc). Yes, it was all very civilised, quite tame compared to what they usually write in their articles maybe, they cracked jokes, they didnt vault over the tables and tear each others faces off, but what do people expect from these things?

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 05:24 PM
Hang on, is this Bindel as in Julie Bindel?

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 05:32 PM
You, it seems to me, are denying there's a problem in the first place.

That's not the case - my position is that the safe space/no platform approach is great at making people feel good about themselves in the short term but is ineffective at treating the problem itself, and may even be making it worse, since it makes the no-platformers look like bullies and absolutists and allows their opponents, with some justification, to claim that they are the ones being silenced. (And yes, you can get pedantic and say that being excluded is not the same as being 'silenced' per se, but it amounts to the same thing in the context of that debate, that event, that university.)

Another point I think is worth mentioning here. You've said your usual routine about me being David Mitchell or whoever, being 'reasonable' (by which you mean unreasonable, of course), having unexamined assumptions and all the rest. Which is funny, because for all that you're the first person to accuse others (usually me) of this tendency, of not thinking properly or using their brain, I think you yourself have a very received idea about what's an acceptable or unacceptable thing to think in a fair few contexts. The ideas you've expressed in this thread are not radical or minoritarian for millions of people at universities around the world, but absolutely mainstream and commonsensical and reasonable. Which is not say they're wrong because of this, but I don't think it should make them sacrosanct, either.

comelately
11-12-2016, 06:34 PM
Think ur exaggerating a bit here. Iirc I think the only thing they agreed upon is that no platforming is generally a bad thing. Other than that their worldviews are obviously fundamentally opposed and this came out in the debate (they debated the wage gap, rape culture etc etc). Yes, it was all very civilised, quite tame compared to what they usually write in their articles maybe, they cracked jokes, they didnt vault over the tables and tear each others faces off, but what do people expect from these things?

Well I don't think I'm exaggerating that much if at all. I don't honestly think either of them addressed eachother's arguments in any real way, and if this is all that can be expected from 'these things' then I am not sure why anyone would consider them worthy of such reverence.

comelately
11-12-2016, 06:40 PM
(And yes, you can get pedantic and say that being excluded is not the same as being 'silenced' per se, but it amounts to the same thing in the context of that debate, that event, that university

I don't think that's pedantic when the nature of structural oppression and liberty are at the heart of the matter, it's an important philosophical point actually (one that should be important to you, given your thoughts on the primacy of physical violence over other types of oppression). The context you speak of is almost entirely irrelevant, for reason I have pointed out. Again, I challenge you to name someone who has actually been silenced in any meaningful way as a result of no platforming.

luka
11-12-2016, 06:52 PM
Ugh, it's pointless I've already won anyway

comelately
11-12-2016, 07:17 PM
The ideas you've expressed in this thread are not radical or minoritarian for millions of people at universities around the world, but absolutely mainstream and commonsensical and reasonable.

Has it occurred to you that there might be a reason for this?

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 07:23 PM
Has it occurred to you that there might be a reason for this?

Shh, I'm playing luka at his own game. Commonsensical and reasonable are bad.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 07:25 PM
Again, I challenge you to name someone who has actually been silenced in any meaningful way as a result of no platforming.

You mean, like, had their tongue cut out and hands chopped off, Lavinia-style? Oddly enough, I fail your challenge.

And how can the context be "irrelevant"? If you deliberately exclude from a debate anyone with views contrary to the prevailing opinion, what kind of 'debate' are you even left with? It becomes a pointless sham exercise, and that conclusion isn't nullified by the fact that, yes, obviously Germaine Greer or whoever is still free to speak and type whatever she likes in her own time.

comelately
11-12-2016, 08:47 PM
You mean, like, had their tongue cut out and hands chopped off, Lavinia-style? Oddly enough, I fail your challenge.

Admitting metaphorically conflating structural oppression with violence is an odd move given your previous stance, but I wasn't setting the bar quite that high funnily enough. Can you actually answer the question?

In relation to the other point......christ....let's say you....well not you obv.....somebody wants to have a debate on the nature of rape culture. Do you need somebody arguing that it does not infact exist in order for the debate not to be a sham? Of course not.

luka
11-12-2016, 08:51 PM
Can you actually answer the question?

Guess you've not met tea before.

baboon2004
11-12-2016, 09:32 PM
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/if-you-dont-like-no-platforming-maybe-its-you-whos-the-special-snowflake-a6884026.html this is pretty good at cutting through quite a lot of the bullshit/hypocrisy around the issue of no-platforming.

"Let us remember when we speak of “free speech” that those arguments presume everyone’s voice has an equal voice in society." Poor subbing apart, that's the crux of it. No-platforming is already the way of the world at every level; it only becomes an issue when those with a lesser voice use it. Rupert Murdoch and his minions 'no-platform' progressive thinkers every day of the week, and the hateful stuff they commission reaches millions. I don't think they view this approach as being ultimately ineffective.

It's also good to be reminded of what right-minded commentators were saying earlier this year about the wonderful upshot of exposing irrational and hateful ideas to a wide audience - it'd reasonably reject them, of course, problem solved! :
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/03/donald-trump-abortion-no-platforming-free-speech

firefinga
11-12-2016, 10:03 PM
http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/if-you-dont-like-no-platforming-maybe-its-you-whos-the-special-snowflake-a6884026.html this is pretty good at cutting through quite a lot of the bullshit/hypocrisy around the issue of no-platforming.

"Let us remember when we speak of “free speech” that those arguments presume everyone’s voice has an equal voice in society."

The concept of "free speech" means you and everybody else is allowed to talk about whatever you want (as long as you don't violate specific laws), which is the "equal" part. No body (neither the special snowflake types nor the right wingers) have the ultimate right to speak or publish wherever they please. It's not that difficult to understand.

droid
11-12-2016, 10:06 PM
So you support the concept of no platforming?

firefinga
11-12-2016, 10:08 PM
So you support the concept of no platforming?

I don't support it, bc I think it's conceding self defeat. But if a certain groupd doesn't want a specific person to appear on a panel or whatever it's their right to exclude the person in question.

droid
11-12-2016, 10:09 PM
What about in its original form as applied to fascism?

firefinga
11-12-2016, 10:13 PM
What about in its original form as applied to fascism?

What do you mean by that? Are you referring to the civil war like situations in the 1920s or 1930s? To be honest, don't really get this question.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 10:14 PM
Admitting metaphorically conflating structural oppression with violence is an odd move given your previous stance, but I wasn't setting the bar quite that high funnily enough. Can you actually answer the question?


If you bar someone from taking part in a debate, you have silenced their voice in the context of that specific debate. (Please stop me if I'm going too fast for you here.) As I made clear already, that's obviously not the same thing as declaring a fatwa on them and having their books burnt by order of the state, or however you decide to interpret the idea of 'silencing' someone.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 10:17 PM
Rupert Murdoch and his minions 'no-platform' progressive thinkers every day of the week, and the hateful stuff they commission reaches millions.

So The Sun doesn't have op-ed pieces by feminists and LGBT activists and anti-racism campaigners? That constitutes 'no-platforming' - a notably right-wing paper mysteriously not publishing material by left-wing writers? Fucking hell. :rolleyes:

droid
11-12-2016, 10:19 PM
What do you mean by that? Are you referring to the civil war like situations in the 1920s or 1930s? To be honest, don't really get this question.

No Platforming comes from post war anti-fascist groups and was developed as a strategy to (often violently) prevent fascist groups from marching, speaking in public and spreading their ideas through the media.

Mr. Tea
11-12-2016, 10:20 PM
I've never heard of even the touchiest and most paranoid right-wing hacks complain they're getting 'no-platformed' because, oddly enough, their writing isn't getting published in The Guardian and New Statesman.

firefinga
11-12-2016, 10:25 PM
No Platforming comes from post war anti-fascist groups and was developed as a strategy to (often violently) prevent fascist groups from marching, speaking in public and spreading their ideas through the media.

It's a thin line bc fascists are per definition militants thus violence prone but likely I wouldn't support this either, bc this often gives the said groups a "borrowed importance". The spreading via media thing you won't be able to prevent in this age and day anymore anyways, thanx to youtube and social media.

luka
12-12-2016, 01:41 AM
Tea you've misunderstood the Reasonable Man. Tje Reasonable Man is not unreasonable it refers to a)a rhetorical stance and b) an unexamined and therefore complacent, self-image.

comelately
12-12-2016, 06:23 AM
If you bar someone from taking part in a debate, you have silenced their voice in the context of that specific debate. (Please stop me if I'm going too fast for you here.)

You do jump from argument to argument pretty fast, as Luka has pointed out, but even this is technically wrong - their voice was never in that particular debate to begin with, so it hasn't been silenced per se. This may seem pedantic....ok it is quite pedantic, but when you're going to make mountains of someone using the term bombard metaphorically then I think it's reasonable and useful to point out your own use of violent metaphors to describe non-violent acts, and that it's actually much more dishonest and craven than what you complained of. It's now been clearly demonstrated, so thanks for that.

At the risk of committing whatboutery, I do have to wonder exactly at the priorities of people who get worried about people being "no-platformed" (essentially, to be read 'no access to our platform' by student societies). You deny denying there is a problem, but I don't see you, or anyone else really, coming up with any other alternative solution - generally that's the thing to do when criticising a proposed solution. If you think there is no solution, and that we're stuck with the problem, then at least come out and say that. As is, you're really just embodying that kind of handwaving rhetorical games that illustrates the need for this kind of 'negative curation' all too well.


I've never heard of even the touchiest and most paranoid right-wing hacks complain they're getting 'no-platformed' because, oddly enough, their writing isn't getting published in The Guardian and New Statesman.

But there has been a wider attack on the perceived liberal bias within the BBC, the news media in the US (lamestream media, often with a sprinkling of antisemitism), and indeed within universities/colleges (we've referenced Allan Bloom in this thread) over a long period of time.

More recently there has been upset over Twitter bannings (Milo), and changes to Youtube paid account conditions (basically going to be harder for Alt-Right to monetise their accounts as I understand it). They complain about lots of stuff (I refer you to the quote regarding perpetual victimhood earlier in the thread), and they complain about this no-platforming business in universities obviously.

Benny B
12-12-2016, 06:47 AM
TEA - The entire reasoning behind no-platforming is supposedly to make the whole university a safe space at all times


Comelately - Supposedly? According to whom exactly?


The deputy president of the National Union of Students (NUS), Richard Brooks, however, defended the policy. He said: “Students’ unions are often the only place where students can be themselves, a place where they can think about things and challenge ideas and thoughts in a safe environment. Sometimes the only way you can ensure those safe spaces remain safe is through no-platform policies.”

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/13/banning-shouting-down-speakers-universities-risk

Brooks later tried to gaslight Bindel on twitter, claiming that she had never been no-platformed at all, despite the clear evidence that an NUS LGBT conference voted to do exactly that and passed a motion that actually said "Julie Bindel is vile".

And there are numerous other examples of how no platforming is used and justified in this way. I honestly don't think this is really about safe spaces and free speech. Its more about the pathetic, watery, spineless application of identity politics from people who'd rather tar dissenting opinions as 'hate speech' than have an honest debate about it.

Benny B
12-12-2016, 07:12 AM
It's a thin line bc fascists are per definition militants thus violence prone but likely I wouldn't support this either, bc this often gives the said groups a "borrowed importance". The spreading via media thing you won't be able to prevent in this age and day anymore anyways, thanx to youtube and social media.

Thought this article by Sarah Ditum was good related to this


...no platform has been more or less abandoned by the anti-fascist movement. That wasn’t because of a sudden conversion to the benefits of free speech, and it wasn’t even close to to universally welcomed, but it was probably inevitable. There are two reasons for this, one political and one technical. Firstly, British far-right and anti-immigration parties started to enjoy electoral success in the early 21st century, making it difficult to justify refusing them a platform: once BNP leader Nick Griffin became Nick Griffin MEP, the case for keeping him off Question Time became at the very least tenuous.

Secondly, blogging and social media meant that a platform was no longer something that could be withheld: anyone with any views can now hold forth so long as they have an internet connection and a Twitter login. For Hope Not Hate’s Lowles, no platform has to be reinvented, from a policy of radical non-engagement to one of equally radical popular engagement by which campaigners can “deny fascists, organised racists and other haters the freedom to spread their poison within communities unchallenged.”

Whether that will be sufficient intervention to stem the necrotic spread of British racism is uncertain, and the aftermath of Griffin’s 2009 Question Time appearance offers ambivalent lessons. After a fleeting and insignificant bump in the polls, it seemed that cheerleaders for the power of scrutiny would be vindicated: Griffin’s twitchy, evasive performance was seen as a disaster within the BNP, and exacerbated the divisions that led to the party’s collapse, explains Daniel Trilling, author of Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain’s Far Right.

But long term, the outcome was less wholesome. “It contributed to the shifting rightwards of the debate on immigration,” says Trilling. We live in the era of the Go Home Van, in a time when less-than-alarmist reports on the effects of immigration are deemed so politically sensitive they have to be suppressed. Even if Griffin lost Question Time, we can’t pretend that anti-racism won the war.

http://www.newstatesman.com/sarah-ditum/2014/03/when-did-no-platform-become-about-attacking-individuals-deemed-disagreeable

Benny B
12-12-2016, 07:33 AM
so basically, my position is that the argument for no platforming in universities is often applied in bad faith, and it isn't very effective at fighting fascism etc in this day and age even when applied in good faith. As a tactic its being misdirected, used against individuals rather than fascist groups. The free speech thing is just a diversion really.

And regarding safe spaces, if Bindel is to be believed, there were several women at the NUS meeting where they made the decision to NP her who expressed a desire to hear the debate, but were shouted down by the men (like Richard Brooks). Institutionalised sexism in action, as per usual.

Mr. Tea
12-12-2016, 07:44 AM
Tea you've misunderstood the Reasonable Man. Tje Reasonable Man is not unreasonable it refers to a)a rhetorical stance and b) an unexamined and therefore complacent, self-image.

But that's just a fancy way of saying "I disagree with you", and is something I could just as well say back at you. You phrase your assertions a bit differently from me but you have your positions and you stick to them, just like I do.

luka
12-12-2016, 09:03 AM
You're impervious to words. It's like oil and water.

luka
12-12-2016, 09:06 AM
You don't have positions you have emotional reactions to stories in the media which are designed to provoke emotional reactions. Primary school teacher in Kidderminster bans baa baa black sheep. Pc gone mental. Your brain can't go beyond basic harrumphing and world gone madding.

luka
12-12-2016, 09:14 AM
I've made one very simple, very modest argument, consistently, and you've yet to engage with it in any substantive way. Instead you've identified safe spaces as spaces designed to lock out people like you. But anyone trying to lock out a Reasonable Man must, by definition, be unreasonable. It's a threat to free speech. It's an emotional response, exactly the response the stories you read are designed to trigger.

comelately
12-12-2016, 09:20 AM
Brooks later tried to gaslight Bindel on twitter, claiming that she had never been no-platformed at all, despite the clear evidence that an NUS LGBT conference voted to do exactly that and passed a motion that actually said "Julie Bindel is vile".

And there are numerous other examples of how no platforming is used and justified in this way. I honestly don't think this is really about safe spaces and free speech. Its more about the pathetic, watery, spineless application of identity politics from people who'd rather tar dissenting opinions as 'hate speech' than have an honest debate about it.

I didn't mean to imply that there are infact no examples of "no platforming (being) used and justified in this way", but I think it is much better form to point out the specifics rather than indulge in dishonest lost performatives and universal quantifiers like "The *entire* reasoning behind no-platforming is *supposedly* to make the whole university a safe space at all times", and statements like "I honestly don't think *this* is really about safe spaces and free speech" aren't that much better. I don't really see a lot of evidence on any side that people are particularly interested in having "honest debates", though I think it would be good to understand what people think honest debating actually looks like.

comelately
12-12-2016, 09:35 AM
I've made one very simple, very modest argument, consistently, and you've yet to engage with it in any substantive way. Instead you've identified safe spaces as spaces designed to lock out people like you. But anyone trying to lock out a Reasonable Man must, by definition, be unreasonable. It's a threat to free speech. It's an emotional response, exactly the response the stories you read are designed to trigger.

I pointed out that Tea's rhetoric had basically become a set of Breitbart talking points, and he responded with something like 'Yeah, I am basically Hitler' - which is another stock Alt-Right response. I mean yeah, his schtick is probably more Toby Young than Milo but it's a slippery slope - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/28/alt-right-online-poison-racist-bigot-sam-harris-milo-yiannopoulos-islamophobia

firefinga
12-12-2016, 10:54 AM
That "no platform" thing again is very easy to understand. Let's say you organise a (panel) debate on some "controversial" topic, and bill that as an "open debate" - then you'd better invite some people who will have differing opinions, and those opinions being somewhat backed by facts/arguments etc. If you invite a bunch of people who agree on everything anyways, there's no "open debate" of course.

Benny B
12-12-2016, 11:07 AM
I didn't mean to imply that there are infact no examples of "no platforming (being) used and justified in this way", but I think it is much better form to point out the specifics rather than indulge in dishonest lost performatives and universal quantifiers like "The *entire* reasoning behind no-platforming is *supposedly* to make the whole university a safe space at all times", and statements like "I honestly don't think *this* is really about safe spaces and free speech" aren't that much better. I don't really see a lot of evidence on any side that people are particularly interested in having "honest debates", though I think it would be good to understand what people think honest debating actually looks like.

Ok, I think the question of what an honest debate actually looks like is a good one.

To clarify a little what I meant, when I said 'this' I suppose I was really referring to the debates and issues affecting women we were talking about (Greer, Bindle etc), where I suspect structural sexism is the (often ignored) underlying factor that our concepts of 'safe spaces' and 'free speech' are actually built on, and which makes the possibility of an 'honest' debate pretty remote. And excluding from debates feminists, the very people who are most likely to recognise and talk about this structural oppression, makes that possibility even more remote.

When Luka mentioned female-only groups as safe spaces near the beginning of this conversation it made me think, yes, this is fine and necessary. But to make any profound structural change, to build an effective political movement, at some point the ideas that come from these groups have to be carried over into the wider world. And this is where the problems begin. Subsumed into larger umbrella groups like LGBT their voices get drowned out, they get talked over by men (because anyone pretending that the LGBT isn't also dominated by male voices is very naive) and they even end up participating in excluding/no platforming feminists from the outside who could actually help their cause.

Similarly, 'free speech', in reality, often just means free speech for men.

Maybe, just maybe, if this structural oppression didn't exist then a truly honest debate might be possible. But until then, I think fighting to include feminists in debates at universities is a noble cause, even if you don't think that constitutes being interested in an 'honest' debate. You may think that being no platformed doesn't really matter, that they still have a voice that they can express elsewhere. But I think any advance in this area can only be a positive thing and is worth fighting for. Feminist women shouldn't be told that they might as well give up and go elsewhere, back to their little bubbles or media echo chambers.

Corpsey
12-12-2016, 11:25 AM
So this safe space thing is just about joining a club for minority groups and talking about things with other people from that group? Don't see a problem with that. That's what student clubs do anyway, surely? And what people do in general, in fact.

People really don't like to have their beliefs challenged, still less to give up those beliefs. It's interesting, actually, in the context of this thread to consider how people's instinctive, unexamined opinions and instincts are the foundation upon which various supportive structures are erected.

At the risk of pissing off Craner I read this by John Gray today, a review of a book about communists/lefties who became righties: http://www.newstatesman.com/culture/books/2016/04/left-wing-firebrands-who-turned-right Interesting (and bound to be disputed/disproved by someone on here) point about former zealous leftists taking their zealotry with them and applying it to conservatism.

firefinga
12-12-2016, 11:38 AM
So this safe space thing is just about joining a club for minority groups and talking about things with other people from that group? Don't see a problem with that. It goes way further, bc pretty much everything in those groups seems to revovle around that "minority" status, thus mirror-imaging the stigma - or often imagined stigma.

Corpsey
12-12-2016, 11:53 AM
Do you mean that because these groups are identifying themselves as requiring a safe space, they are only further marginalising themselves?

Are opinions censored within these safe spaces, or are you okay so long as you belong to the particular group?

firefinga
12-12-2016, 11:54 AM
Do you mean that because these groups are identifying themselves as requiring a safe space, they are only further marginalising themselves? To a great extent, yes.

I often have the impression that this lamenting "My voice don't get heard, and that's bc I am a minority" is neglecting the contents. Maybe people chose NOT to listen to you not bc you are memeber from a minority group, but possibly what you talk is basically rubbish.

luka
12-12-2016, 12:04 PM
I think you're inadvertently demonstrating some useful points here

comelately
12-12-2016, 12:04 PM
But I think any advance in this area can only be a positive thing and is worth fighting for.

Fair enough I suppose, but I can't really get behind such an extreme line of thinking, and find it really hard to imagine wanting to fight for it.


So this safe space thing is just about joining a club for minority groups and talking about things with other people from that group? Don't see a problem with that. That's what student clubs do anyway, surely? And what people do in general, in fact.

And no platforming is a form of deciding who you don't want that group. This is the thing I find weird. Apparently you have to be against free association to be for free speech now; it's not that I have a problem with that per se, it's more the contortions required to dress it up as some kind of libertarian, or even 'classical liberal' position, rather than something much more structuralist, that I have a problem with.


People really don't like to have their beliefs challenged, still less to give up those beliefs. It's interesting, actually, in the context of this thread to consider how people's instinctive, unexamined opinions and instincts are the foundation upon which various supportive structures are erected.

Quite so. NLP is one of those things that is a bit like tantric sex, pretty much entirely the wrong people do it for pretty much entirely the wrong reasons - and that includes most of the trainers. But when you come to understand the meta-model as a listening tool, and develop an ear for how people distort, delete and generalise in order to form their beliefs, well it really is quite eye opening.

Corpsey
12-12-2016, 12:05 PM
I guess it can sometimes be used as an excuse, but I don't doubt that in certain environments it's white men who speak with the most confidence, and are listened to most attentively.

Mr. Tea
12-12-2016, 12:33 PM
I pointed out that Tea's rhetoric had basically become a set of Breitbart talking points, and he responded with something like 'Yeah, I am basically Hitler' - which is another stock Alt-Right response. I mean yeah, his schtick is probably more Toby Young than Milo but it's a slippery slope - https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/28/alt-right-online-poison-racist-bigot-sam-harris-milo-yiannopoulos-islamophobia

Good god, man. Talk about a stuck record. I'm an 'Islamophobe' now as well? Lol, if you insist.

I see you wrote a thousand-word thinkpiece in response to one of my posts a page or two back. I'm afraid it was a wasted effort as I'm not going to read it, because I know it'll begin, continue and end with a studied mischaracterization of my position.

luka
12-12-2016, 12:41 PM
not everything has to or should revolve around debate as zero sum blood sport. a group can form to hash out a common position and strategy for action. if our goal as a group is to foment communist revolution i don't see any value in inviting a Randian libertarian-capitalist to participate. If we are constantly having to squabble over first principles it's impossible to make any headway at all. excluding people who's agenda doesn't go beyond point scoring and kneejerk dissent is just common sense.

luka
12-12-2016, 12:47 PM
there's all sorts of reasons to join groups and groups always exclude people by accident or design. i mean, this is a m0ron discussion at this point.

Mr. Tea
12-12-2016, 12:48 PM
You don't have positions you have emotional reactions to stories in the media which are designed to provoke emotional reactions. Primary school teacher in Kidderminster bans baa baa black sheep. Pc gone mental. Your brain can't go beyond basic harrumphing and world gone madding.

I made an assertion - that the current culture of safe spaces and no-platforming is having a psychologically and intellectually unhealthy effect on universities. I posted an example that I think illustrates my point. You could have said "No Tea, you're wrong, because..." and then explained why my position was mistaken. But instead you just claimed that the events described never happened and casually dropped the New York Times into the same category of journalistic integrity as The Sun (!), and since then all you've done is try to paint me as some swivel-eyed loon of the sort who fulminates about straight bananas and the war on Christmas.

And on your side, all you do is make a load of bald assertions and declare that you've "won" the thread, whatever that means.

luka
12-12-2016, 12:49 PM
i am the winner. everyone knoes I'm the winner and everybody knows youre the loser.

droid
12-12-2016, 12:49 PM
Genuinely not meant as a personal attack - but in the context of this discussion, I do wonder how many pages of Dissensus have been dedicated to attempts to escape Tea's rhetorical doldrums.

Mr. Tea
12-12-2016, 12:52 PM
there's all sorts of reasons to join groups and groups always exclude people by accident or design. i mean, this is a m0ron discussion at this point.

Yeah, I get that, of course. If the debate is about the best way to tackle climate change, it makes perfect sense no invite a speaker who claims it's not even real. The problem arises when a dishonest definition of 'hate speech' is used in such a way as to define it as 'anything I disagree with'.

luka
12-12-2016, 12:54 PM
Genuinely not meant as a personal attack - but in the context of this discussion, I do wonder how many pages of Dissensus have been dedicated to attempts to escape Tea's rhetorical doldrums.

he ruins discussions. hes an obstructionist. on any other forum he would have been marked down as a shill or a narc. its only our tiny size and our insignificance that makes that seem so unlikely. Genuinely not meant as a personal attack, but also true.

luka
12-12-2016, 12:55 PM
i admire his resiliance and personability

luka
12-12-2016, 01:00 PM
but, to quote from a famous poem


The enemy may be smiling, may possess, ‘an easy bonhomie’
DESTROY.

firefinga
12-12-2016, 01:02 PM
Mr. Tea is posting dissenting opinions and he is giving argumentative support to those. He's making this site more enjoyable for old reactionaries like me.

droid
12-12-2016, 01:05 PM
Tea's rhetorical style here has been well documented for nearly a decade. Its not the opinions per se, but the manner in which he debates.

comelately
12-12-2016, 01:40 PM
Good god, man. Talk about a stuck record. I'm an 'Islamophobe' now as well? Lol, if you insist.

I see you wrote a thousand-word thinkpiece in response to one of my posts a page or two back. I'm afraid it was a wasted effort as I'm not going to read it, because I know it'll begin, continue and end with a studied mischaracterization of my position.

328 words. Talking. About a stuck record.

luka
12-12-2016, 01:48 PM
Arguing with tea is like entering a strange mysterious territory known only as The Zone. Nothing is as it seems. The terrain shifts. Roads which appeared straight curve back on themselves depositing you right back where you started. Parrots morph into Puffs of smoke. The object on the horizon gets further away the more steps you take towards it.

Benny B
12-12-2016, 02:52 PM
The problem arises when a dishonest definition of 'hate speech' is used in such a way as to define it as 'anything I disagree with'.

Mr Tea, this is probably what you should have stated clearly from the start and the discussion could have gone from there. I think a discussion about what constitutes 'hate speech' is probably worth having (that, plus firefinga's point about 'borrowed importance' is a good one).

Unfortunately after 7 or 8 pages I doubt anyone can be arsed by now.

comelately
12-12-2016, 03:39 PM
How often does this (the dishonest, presumably implicit, definition of 'hate speech', or something similar) actually happen? In what contexts does it happen? How do you know when this has happened? Is it actually significant?

Or to put in another, perhaps simpler, way - when do I get to tell a 'race realist' to piss off?

Corpsey
12-12-2016, 04:06 PM
Conspiracy theory: 'safe spaces' were invented by right-wing agents in order to turn the left against each other.

comelately
12-12-2016, 04:18 PM
I think there's a possible argument to be had around whether, for example, Germaine Greer is guilty of 'hate speech' against trans people - but even if you think it isn't, that doesn't mean you necessarily get to legitimately accuse those who think it is as defining 'hate crime' as 'whatever they disagree with'.

A lot of this is going to come down to 'burden of proof', on both sides.

Mr. Tea
12-12-2016, 05:07 PM
Conspiracy theory: 'safe spaces' were invented by right-wing agents in order to turn the left against each other.

I was going to say this earlier, too, before it all kicked off - a consequence has been to encourage infighting among progressives over sometimes relatively minor doctrinaire points, when they actually agree on 95% of issues, rather than fighting their real ideological opponents.

Benny B
12-12-2016, 05:09 PM
Yeah the transphobe thing is a total minefield. We got into this on the breitbart thread a while back and i have absolutely no intentions of getting into it again tbh, so i'll just leave this here and say ' this is what i think' and say no more. Sorry if that sounds lame

http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2015/10/28/comment-the-attack-on-germaine-greer-shows-identity-politics

Mr. Tea
12-12-2016, 05:12 PM
No it's fine, I understand the reason for taking the position you take.

comelately
12-12-2016, 05:28 PM
Well......


Melhuish suggests that this belief "contribute[s] to the high levels of stigma, hatred and violence towards trans people", but doesn't explain how exactly this is supposed to work......In her article, Quinn makes some oblique references to hate speech – speech which incites violence, hatred or discrimination – but stops short of actually accusing Greer of hate speech against transgender people. She also alludes to violence and harassment experienced by trans people, implying – but again refraining from explicitly stating – that by holding the beliefs she does, Greer is in some way responsible for this violence.

So without going on a full-analysis thousand word think-piece.....Melhuish is not defining hate-speech, implicitly or explicitly, as an opinion she disagrees with.
I think the article goes wrong here (weasel word bolded by me):


That is, the objection is that she believes things that her opponents believe to be false, and that these beliefs are, for reasons that are never properly articulated, "dangerous". So what Greer stands accused of is, essentially, thoughtcrime.

When you see the word 'essentially', then like 'implicitly' you know there's been a logical jump. I don't think it helps really, especially when argumentation jumps are explictly what you're chiding the other for. You're actually completely validating their approach by doing so.

Benny B
12-12-2016, 06:04 PM
My my you are a pernickety chap arent you? I posted that article to roughly illustrate my general feelings about gender identity politics, nothing more really, sorry.

Anyway like i said, im not about to get into all this again, so ill leave it there iydm

Benny B
12-12-2016, 06:10 PM
Unfortunately after 7 or 8 pages I doubt anyone can be arsed by now.

Should have said 'me included'

comelately
12-12-2016, 06:16 PM
Yeah I understood you were not going to engage over a prolonged period, but I thought the article was a good example of someone doing pretty much exactly what they think they're attacking.

And no, I don't think the charge of being pernickety has any substance whatsoever.

firefinga
12-12-2016, 06:20 PM
Conspiracy theory: 'safe spaces' were invented by right-wing agents in order to turn the left against each other.

Would be time and energy wasted by the right wingers. Lefties have a tremendous history of dividing and marginalising themselves.

baboon2004
12-12-2016, 06:39 PM
So The Sun doesn't have op-ed pieces by feminists and LGBT activists and anti-racism campaigners? That constitutes 'no-platforming' - a notably right-wing paper mysteriously not publishing material by left-wing writers? Fucking hell. :rolleyes:

You're taking the point too literally - I'm saying that getting worked up about 'no-platforming' in particular is a bit absurd, given that the same stifling of people's views occurs every day in countless other contexts.

craner
12-12-2016, 08:04 PM
Yes but the point is, in universities? Really?

craner
12-12-2016, 08:05 PM
In that context it seems to be a combination of aggressive arrogance and myopic self-pity.

luka
12-12-2016, 08:06 PM
Universities were shit in the '90s they're shit now. They churn out m0rons

luka
12-12-2016, 08:07 PM
You haven't thought this through and you haven't read the thread so it's a waste of time engaging with your reactionary snorting and harrumphing.

craner
12-12-2016, 09:03 PM
I don't remember mine being full of so many snotty wet blankets, though. The Islamists were quite happy in the Leeds societies making their case for religious imperialism and the girls would've kicked your face in or just laughed at you if you'd suggested they need to go to a "safe space" or ban Germaine Greer. If it was a different time, it was much better.

craner
12-12-2016, 09:05 PM
You're conceding ground to exactly the psychological type you actually despise. It's weird to watch.

luka
12-12-2016, 09:18 PM
Ours was a nihilistic generation it's true. Better tunes etc. Politics is for losers at the end of the day. But because you haven't read the thread you don't know what I'm arguing in favour of. It's not types of people.

luka
12-12-2016, 09:21 PM
I'm also not conceding anything because it's not my generation. It's their experiment. Let them get on with it and learn from it.

craner
12-12-2016, 09:29 PM
I would also suggest that it's a weirdly decadent, Western political phenomenon. In many non-Western countries women are still trying to break into the workplace and academia, not to then create exclusionary zones but to fully participate in the cut and thrust of active intellectual or physical life.

luka
12-12-2016, 09:31 PM
You have a weirdly idealised view of the intellectual life of universities

craner
12-12-2016, 09:31 PM
Fundamentally, if this is what identity politics has boiled down to, it's a pathetic travesty of original ideals or intentions.

craner
12-12-2016, 09:36 PM
Not really, I know it is and has been weak. I have complained for years about the fact that more of my literature degree was spent studying Marx, Freud and Foucault than Shakespeare. It's an old problem that has led directly to this pathetic, shrill snivelling. You could have seen it coming for sure, but this end-point - censorship, extreme sectarianism, self-segregation - cannot in any way be supported. It's sad and is actually feeding fully into the rise of populism that now threatens all of us.

luka
12-12-2016, 09:36 PM
You're spluttering. It's not a good advertisement for a university education