Saturday, June 16, 2018
Cows moo, dogs bark, sheep bleat, horses neigh, donkeys bray, cats meow, ducks quack, roosters crow, lions roar, wolves howl, ants are quiet, pigs grunt, elephants trumpet, hyenas laugh, hens cackle, llamas are usually quiet, moths are very quiet, crows caw, pigeons coo, mice squeak, trout are quiet, moles are quiet, chameleons are quiet, bears growl, oxen low, whales sing, salamanders are quiet, stag beetles are quiet, bass are very quiet, owls hoot, crickets chirp, parrots talk, impala are quiet, manatees are quiet, haddock are excruciatingly quiet, snails are quiet, lobsters are quiet, centipedes are quiet, sloths are quiet; porcupines resist all our efforts at communication: they are quiet; dace are quiet; salmon are quiet; earthworms refuse to tell us what they know: they are quiet; flounder are quiet; termites are quiet; after all our coaxing the mayflies remain quiet; hedgehogs are quiet; turtles are quiet; both the carrot and the stick have proven of no avail: walleyed pike persist in a dogged and perverse silence that apparently nothing will break.
乳牛會哞,狗會汪,綿羊咩咩叫,馬聲嘶嘶,驢聲喔喔, 貓會喵,鴨會呱,公雞會高啼,獅子會怒吼,狼會嚎,螞蟻很 安靜,豬聲侯侯,大象會嗷,鬣狗會笑,母雞咯咯咯,大羊駝 通常都保持沉默,蛾一向非常沉默,烏鴉嘎嘎嘎,鴿子咕咕咕, 老鼠吱吱吱,鱒魚不會出聲,鼴鼠不會出聲,變色龍不會出聲, 熊會低聲咆哮,公牛的嗓音低沈,鯨魚會唱歌,蠑螈靜悄悄, 鍬形蟲靜悄悄,鱸魚非常安靜,貓頭鷹會呼呼叫,蟋蟀會唧唧 叫,鸚鵡會講話,黑斑羚寡言少語,海牛寡言少語,黑線鱈寡 言少語到令人尷尬的程度,蝸牛不太說話,龍蝦不太說話,蜈 蚣不太說話,樹懶不太說話;豪豬完全抵制我們為溝通所做的 一切努力:牠們默不作聲;代斯魚默不作聲;鮭魚默不作聲; 蚯蚓拒絕交代自己知道的一切:牠們悶不吭聲;比目魚悶不吭 聲;白蟻悶不吭聲;我們連哄帶騙後,蜉蝣依舊不言不語;刺 蝟不言不語;海龜不言不語;事實證明,不管人們來軟的、玩 硬的都沒用:一意孤行,堅持封口到底的大眼梭子魚,顯然不 會因為任何事而打破沉默。
This piece is from Eric Mader’s Idiocy, Ltd.. Check it out at Amazon. Dryest humor in the west.
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Thursday, June 14, 2018
A blog post by Rod Dreher brought my attention yesterday to a new critique of Patrick Deneen’s hard-hitting Why Liberalism Failed. I didn’t think that critique, by Deneen’s colleague Vincent Philip Muñoz, delivered anything like a decisive blow. It’s a strong essay, no doubt, but seems to me more a matter of pleading than dispassionate analysis of where we are at. Leaning on the Founders’ good intentions, it describes a ship that has already sailed, one replaced by a new ship built by new shipwrights who have fudged the original blueprints to match their new priorities. And I suspect that possibility of fudging was too much there in the original Founders’ blueprints. As I also suspect the sleek new ship presently leaving harbor is not seaworthy.
Muñoz’s essay, well worth reading in full, is not strong enough in my mind to dislodge Deneen’s arguments.
But one of the commenters on Rod’s post, using the pen name Haigha, weighed in as follows:
The burden is not on Muñoz to prove that liberalism does not inevitably lead to the contemporary parade of horribles; the burden is on Deneen to prove that it does inevitably lead there. His argument doesn’t come anywhere close to doing so. As an empirical matter, we have one single iteration of the Enlightenment and the subsequent history of Western civilization. There’s no compelling reason to think that if we had more iterations, the results would necessarily be this way. The United States was doing quite well, and was more liberal than it is now, until the early 20th Century. Who knows what would have happened if there had been no WWI, or if the conflation of women’s rights, sexual libertinism, and male-female sameness had been foreseen and stamped out early, or the conflation of science and atheism? Since he obviously can’t prove his thesis empirically, Deneen is left with logic. Here, again, he fails by a mile. As Muñoz notes, the bad things that he claims are inherent in liberalism simply are not, as a logical matter. Take a look at this speech by President Coolidge. He explains the logic of liberalism properly understood, and how it not only is not incompatible with Christianity, but is in fact the most Christian system, because the Christian assertion of universal equal dignity necessarily leads to the conclusion that human interactions should be primarily consensual. The logical distinction between saying, “I have no right to prevent you from doing X”, and saying, “If X floats your boat, that’s great!”, is obvious and elementary. For Deneen to be right, he has to collapse that distinction, and he can’t.
I notice that Rod and Deneen both like to talk about global capitalism as if it’s something qualitatively different from what existed in the past. It’s not. Our economy was infinitely freer and more “liberal” in the Nineteenth Century. Global capitalism is just the result of advances in technology and wealth that enable us to engage in the specialization and exchange that make us rich on a much broader scale, and with more participants. Capitalism has advanced with technology, in spite of increasing statism, not because of it.
As for Casey, the Supreme Court is not, in fact, the authoritative interpreter of the Constitution. It has the indisputable final word only with respect to the disposition of individual cases or controversies where it has jurisdiction. The other branches need not respect a Court ruling that purports to strike down a statute on a blanket basis, or grant itself jurisdiction at the margins. And even if the Court were authoritative, that would not be remotely sufficient to establish that the Constitution is compatible with whatever the Court says, since the Court can obviously get it wrong.
Dreher: “For you conservative readers who believe that classical liberalism can be saved, I’m eager to know how you think that might be done, given the cultural realities of our post-Christian age.”
One of the reasons I’m attracted to this blog is that I have the same instinct that animates “The Benedict Option”: That the bulk of the population is too far gone, but that a smaller, core group might be able to keep the faith. If that’s true of orthodox Christianity, it may also be true of classical liberalism. Bring together those who understand that the equal dignity of men and women does not imply sameness; that “you may” does not imply “you ought”; that fences are generally there for a reason; that the scientific method neither is nor implies an ontology or a metaphysics; that we have unchosen duties. Teach those truths to each other and to our children. Build networks for cross-patronization and support. Gather geographically. In time, maybe even build up a great enough concentration to press for autonomy or independence.
In short, make classical liberalism part of the BenOp. There need be no paradox–Coolidge and the men he cites certainly wouldn’t have seen one.
My reply lower down in the thread:
@Haigha gives the most concise, hardest-hitting critique of Deneen I’ve yet seen anywhere:
The burden is not on Muñoz to prove that liberalism does not inevitably lead to the contemporary parade of horribles; the burden is on Deneen to prove that it does inevitably lead there. . . . [We] have one single iteration of the Enlightenment and the subsequent history of Western civilization. There’s no compelling reason to think that if we had more iterations, the results would necessarily be this way. The United States was doing quite well, and was more liberal than it is now, until the early 20th Century. Who knows what would have happened if there had been no WWI, or if the conflation of women’s rights, sexual libertinism, and male-female sameness had been foreseen and stamped out early, or the conflation of science and atheism?
[President Coolidge] explains the logic of liberalism properly understood, and how it not only is not incompatible with Christianity, but is in fact the most Christian system, because the Christian assertion of universal equal dignity necessarily leads to the conclusion that human interactions should be primarily consensual. The logical distinction between saying, “I have no right to prevent you from doing X”, and saying, “If X floats your boat, that’s great!”, is obvious and elementary. For Deneen to be right, he has to collapse that distinction, and he can’t. Exactly. This is certainly much better put than Muñoz puts it. If you have your own blog, Haigha, or write elsewhere, I’d love to know. In different forums, I’ve been trying to argue this last distinction to no avail for quite some time. Of course the answer is always: “If you don’t affirm us and agree with us as to what truth is, you are quite simply a bigot, your bigotry clearly comes from your religion, don’t you know about separation of church and state, you don’t belong in the public arena,” blah blah blah. Bland emotive assertions accompanied by no understanding of the separation clause. And yet, sadly, this understanding of the American project now gets a pass from tens of millions of Americans.
I fully agree with Rod and others here (cf. @pjnelson) that what we are witnessing is not a conflict between religion and secularism, but rather a conflict between different religions. On the one hand, orthodox Christianity; on the other, a new religion of the Perversely Desiring Self. I can honestly say that what troubles me most in recent years is the fact that our elites and our courts are not secular enough. They are showing themselves adherents of a new religious vision, the Rainbow Cult, one with its own martyrology, its own rituals, its own sense of the divine. That divine is located not in any old desiring self, such as most of us, but rather in, let’s say, a teen drag queen who takes the moniker Divine, and who comes out “bravely” as intersex and gay at the same time. And if ze was ever rejected by ze’s parents or “backward” elements in ze’s community, all the better. Ze is already in this new cult a St. Sebastian on digital canvas, pierced by the arrows of normie evil.
One might not agree with me that Obergefell and what followed represents the rise of a new religion. But I’d ask: Would any other group besides our now worshiped LGBTQwerty tribe have been given the right to redefine an institution as fundamental as marriage? Because, in my view, they did not in fact “expand marriage rights”. What they did is redefined marriage itself. Would any other tribe have been able to do this, out of the blue as it were, after little more than a decade of rallying? I highly doubt it. It could only happen because of a certain something the LGBT cause had picked up in the meantime. That something is a kind of religious aura, a Kool-Aid charisma that had already infected our culture on coast and coast (rather than from coast to coast, as the latter included a Middle America then still mostly unflooded by said Kool-Aid).
And this is why I wish our elites had stuck more to their secularism. That they had not become proselytes of a bizarre new cult.
But to return to the question of classical liberalism and its role in our present, Rod puts it like this:
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that most Americans today were religiously engaged. Would that have stopped the kind of liberal economics that have eviscerated communities? Or the other cultural developments that have deracinated modern people? I don’t see how. Whether the Founders realized what liberalism was capable of or not, the fact is that the deepest principles of liberalism are antithetical to the kind of virtues necessary to sustain liberalism. It’s a paradox.
I think this is basically right, and so, regardless of Haigha’s brilliant critique, I still incline more toward Deneen’s argument as offering something essential. Which is not necessarily to say that we have any better choices at the moment than liberalism. Perhaps Haigha is right that we need to focus on developing Benedict Options for both the orthodox religious and for those who still support classical liberalism.
I’m aware that Haigha, in some respects, is presenting a position similar to Muñoz’s. But I’m interested especially in Haigha’s stress on the alternative historical possibility that American culture had foreseen the results of “the conflation of women’s rights, sexual libertinism, and male-female sameness … or the conflation of science and atheism,” as I’m also interested in the following: “The logical distinction between saying, ‘I have no right to prevent you from doing X’, and saying, ‘If X floats your boat, that’s great!’, is obvious and elementary. For Deneen to be right, he has to collapse that distinction, and he can’t.”
I’d be curious how Deneen himself would respond to these various critiques. Of course in his book he makes very clear that hatching any ambitious new political blueprint to replace liberalism would be dangerous and likely self-defeating. But what would he say to Haigha’s arguments? Further: Is there any value in a Benedict Option of classical liberalism, if only as a means to temper the excesses of late liberalism?
Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.
Sunday, June 10, 2018
If you seek arguments against LGBT Fundamentalism, some of my ideas may help you. I’ve been fighting this fight for years.
I’m a Christian, deeply opposed to most of the “progress” made by the LGBT movement since 2010. Nonetheless, I have gay friends I love and admire, and if I oppose what I call “Rainbow Cultism”, seeing it as a kind of cultural cancer, this is not because I think individual gays or lesbians themselves are a cancer. Far from it. What I oppose in fact are developments in the LGBT movement as a whole, and I most especially oppose three things:
1) the attempt by the LGBT movement to censor or punish orthodox religious people for not “evolving” as regards their views of marriage (NOTE: We will not be evolving. Sorry);
2) the LGBT movement’s shift from basic civil rights for gays and lesbians toward the whole sick panoply that is the “trans” movement or the “gender identity” movement;
3) the LGBT movement’s bizarre assumption that it has a mandate to teach Americans as a whole the meaning of sex and gender.
To be clear, as a person who believes in pluralism, I support the right to love whom you want; the right to speak what you believe; the right, in this case, not to be fired or harassed for identifying as gay, etc. Thus I’m an old-school American as regards what is tolerable in a free society. If I now consider myself strongly opposed to the LGBT movement, it’s because I see that movement increasingly stepping on the rights of other Americans who do not accept its ever-shoddier ideological demands. I believe that people can choose their path in life, but cannot force others to affirm that path.
I hope the following dialogue is helpful for people who see the serious problems I see. It came about in the context of the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop case in the US Supreme Court, in which the court ruled in favor of Christian baker Jack Phillips (which was clearly the right ruling) but unfortunately declined to clarify further certain key questions that, in my view, it should have. Our Supreme Court, though ruling for Jack, kicked the can down the road on the issue of free expression, which is unfortunate.
Though I am a Christian myself, I find it often more useful when arguing with secular liberals over these issues to depend on arguments that are more world-historical in nature. Christians who want to defend the Christian understanding of marriage in face of criticism from LGBT zealots really need this wider historical perspective. The fact is: Our understanding of marriage as Christians has certain fundamentals in common with the understanding of marriage across cultures and religions. Knowing how to use this wider human picture is essential in weakening the LGBT argument that one only opposes same-sex marriage because of one's "narrow Christian bigotry". Put in historical context, it is not our thinking on marriage that is eccentric or narrow, but rather the thinking put forward by supporters of "marriage equality".
The dialogue started when a friend of mine posted the following on Facebook as his general takeaway from the Supreme Court decision. The thread allowed me to present, more concisely than usual, my own general takeaway from the last decade of Rainbow Cultism we Americans have been subjected to. Which is why I’m posting it here.
STEVE posts: Let me summarize the issue of refusing service, from a Supreme Court point of view. No shoes, no shirt, no service. A-OK! I refuse to serve you. A-OK! I refuse to serve you because __________ . Anything after the word "because" is subject to laws. Some answers are OK. Some are illegal. This is the complicated nature of our society. Grow up and deal with it.
ERIC: Among the people you know, Steve, who needs to “grow up and deal with it”? I’m guessing you mean, in this Masterpiece Cakeshop context, that we religious people need to grow up. Of course I see all this differently. In my view, it all depends on the nature of the service. If the service involves creative or custom work, and that creative work offends the provider’s deeply held beliefs, then the provider should be able to opt out. Period. Otherwise, no.
And this is why, yes, I would also say it’s "complicated". The problem with liberals is, when it comes to their precious LGBT crowd, they think nothing can be complicated--that "bigots" just must say Yes to everything, or they deserve to be punished. This has become clear as day.
When a few years back a bakery in Colorado (yes, the same state!) refused to bake a custom cake with Bible verses on it, and the customer reported religious discrimination, did Colorado authorities sanction the baker, enroll him in forced “diversity” classes, demand monthly reports back on his progress in understanding civil rights? In fact--surprise!--the Colorado authorities recognized the right of the baker to refuse. On grounds of conscience. They said the bakery had the right to refuse to do work if they disagreed with the message.
But things are very different when we have our precious little gays being offended. Jack Phillips was subject to the full weight of state sanction. It's a glaring double standard, and it can't stand. Because, yes, again, it's complicated; and it is so because we’re dealing here with freedom of conscience and balancing rights--and it’s our arrogant liberals, on this subject, who need to grow up. And the Supreme Court needs to get it right. Which they so far did in only half measure.
Myself, btw, I see no problem with allowing a committed atheist designer refusing to do design work for a religious organization. As I of course see no problem with the reverse. I support liberty in creative work. Period. The main reason the left does not, in these recent cases, is because, again, they have to see that their poor little gays always get their way on all things. It’s become unbalanced, un-American.
STEVE: Actually, on this one, Eric, in terms of your main arguments, we more or less agree. I do however think there are “conservatives” that need to grow up, as well as “liberals” that need to grow up.
DAVE L.: What would be great would be if the bigots could just post signs at their places of business, so the rest of us would know which businesses to avoid. Personally, I think discriminating against anyone who offers to pay you for services, is simply bad business. But if you're going to be an asshole toward your fellow human beings, don't cry about it when the rest of us boycott you and put you out of business.
ERIC: The point, Dave, is that "bigot" has become a hollow term. It used to be pretty clear who bigots were--people filled with a visceral hatred of X group--but now the term is used to apply to anyone who maintains some religious or philosophical refusal to ascribe to any of a long list of recently minted liberal platitudes, even if, like Jack Phillips, their refusal to conform is entirely civil. Thus: Some people believe that two women can marry each other. Others, on the basis of a massive, universal human background of belief and practice, believe that, no, marriage is only between man and woman, by definition. The latter are supposedly bigots. But one could just as easily define the former, who get nearly apoplectic in the face of the latter’s belief, as bigots. Resentment can be seen coming from either side on this issue, and on others too (cf. immigration) and finally there's no objective, scientific litmus test to prove who is right. In short, 1) everyone is a bigot and thus 2) the word loses its meaning. Only those who manage to think current liberal ideology is transparently true (i.e. dumbbells with no historical or anthropological depth) think the term is unproblematic.
If one has strong beliefs in one or another direction on any of these questions, and if one has any principles, one isn't going to want one's creative work used to celebrate the opposite principles. And rightly so.
Anyone who wants to refuse to do work for a cause he/she doesn't believe in is, according to you, an asshole. I don't see it that way. Though I do happen to think you are being an asshole here--an asshole operating, as is usually the case, on craven, shallow principles about what is good in humanity. For instance, you seem to think that business, the mere process of bringing in money no matter from whom, is a ”good" to which all else should take second place.
[Follows some rather ad hominem nastiness between myself and Dave L., which I don’t find interesting enough to include.]
JIM R.: Opposition to same sex marriage comes from a massive and universal human background and practice?! In fact, opposition is based almost universally on religious dogma and ignorance. [Jim includes a link, which I won’t include here. You can look it up if you want:]
ERIC: You’re flat wrong, Jim, sorry to say, and it's a direct result of being almost astoundingly myopic in historical scope. Across all continents, for the millennia of recorded history, marriage customs varied enormously, but two things remained virtually universal: 1) marriage was only between male and female; 2) marriage was linked to the legitimation and raising of children. To list the cultural groupings whose understanding of marriage met these two criteria would produce literally hundreds of entries. These criteria even held for many cultures, such as the ancient Athenians, that accepted homosexual love. They never mixed up homosexual love with marriage. Why not, do you think? Because they were “bigots”?
Against this massive historical record, you can count on one hand the pre-1990s cultures that recognized any sort of same-sex unions as marriage--you can count them on a hand missing a couple fingers in fact. Sorry to say, but the very fact that you refuse to accept this "massive and universal human background" and then in the next phrase refer to "religious dogma" as a basis for opposition to same-sex marriage demonstrates how shallow your historical perspective is. Note: Before the 18th c. West, no culture had ever even theorized a clear distinction between secular and religious. So: If we look at the total human record and ask "Is marriage only between male and female or is it also, sometimes, same-sex?" the answer we get is literally 99.8% in favor of the former. What's more, still today the large majority of the world's population lives in countries that don't recognize same-sex marriage. But yes, I know: You and many other Westerners, with your HuffPost links, you are liberals, and because you take your liberalism too deeply, you assume for your own relatively young culture a universality that it does not, in my view, actually have. And so you like many others are liable think these other nations and their deep cultural roots are just "ignorant" or prey to "religious dogma". Myself I see something very different. I'd say that most of us Western liberals are prey to our own religious sort of dogma, and a narrow dogma it's turning out to be.
Thus: One may try to argue for same-sex marriage on civil rights grounds, given current social conditions in Western societies, but to argue for it on any anthropological or historical grounds can only be a massive fail. It is not just "conservative American Christians" that beg to differ with liberals on same-sex marriage: no, it is the whole of human cultural history: Buddhists, animists, Maya, Hittites, Javanese, Confucians, Zulus, Celts, etc., etc. And me with them.
You seem to be friends with D.A. So nice to meet you in any case, Jim.
JIM R.: Civilized societies have also accepted the practice of slavery for longer than they haven't. Does the length of time it was an acceptable practice make it morally on par with those who think it isn't? Are those who oppose it just ignorant of its tradition and history? If something is universally accepted for a certain period of time, can it ever change or do we continue to accept it because that's how it's been for so long?
Nice to meet you too, Eric. I enjoy the dialogue.
ERIC: Yes, mentioning slavery is one way of parrying, though I don't think it's all that persuasive. Those who see marriage as a social institution fundamentally about 1) the biological male/female divide in humanity and 2) the biological facts of where children come from and who should be responsible for those children aren't arbitrarily oppressing people. They're merely sticking to biological grounds. Slavery is quite different, don't you think, or do you suppose slavery had some identifiable biological ground?
We might use your kind of argument in the following way. 1) Motherhood is a fundamental human good. 2) Thus everyone should have the right to be a mother. So far no problem. But one might take the next step and argue, from the mere fact that motherhood exists, that 3) Everyone should have the right to be a mother, including men. Now we have a problem, I'd say. We are offending against biology and the meaning of motherhood. The fact that some men might desire to be mothers is to me irrelevant. My answer would be: "Tough luck. Find something else." And I wouldn't feel in the least guilty about giving that answer.
Now you might pop in here and say: "Just because only women were mothers in the past doesn't mean we have to..." etc., etc. I'd say you were wrong using this kind of argument, and that, if you were then to evoke the history of slavery to justify yourself, I'd say you were mixing fundamentally different phenomena, trying to pass off apples as oranges. Or rather, in this case, plastic apples as oranges.
In my view this kind of argument for a man's "right" to motherhood is a similar sleight of hand and not much better than the arguments for same-sex marriage. And note that raising this isn't a fanciful slippery slope at all, because, voila, following "marriage equality" like Tuesday follows Monday we see just this kind of rebellion against sex itself.
Myself, I think we shouldn't have started on this path to begin with, and I say path because the whole LGBT movement is proving itself to be just that, a path, with same-sex marriage as the major mistaken point of departure for the whole trek. Note how the path keeps extending with the continuous addition of letters: it was LGBT, then LGBTQ, now it's LGBTQIA. I even saw something about how a K was being added. For what? Sex with Kindergarteners? Kangaroos? I don't know and I don't much care. These days, if it has a rainbow flag on it, I'm nine times out of ten going to be opposed. The whole movement is proving destructive on so many fronts. It is unsustainable, glaringly so. To return to large-scale cultural comparisons, I predict it's going to be us who are proven "ignorant" in the long run. Too many of us have come to believe that dogmatic liberal egalitarianism is a Get Out of Jail Card for all things, even for nature itself.
In any case, I hope you at least recognize that my initial mention of a "massive and universal human background" on marriage is in fact very tangible.
Cheers. I also enjoy the dialogue.
MARY S.: The important distinction is whether the traits the business owner objects to are immutable or not. So it’s ok to refuse to serve white supremacists, barefoot people, people who are drunk and disorderly, etc. It’s illegal to refuse to serve disabled people, racial minorities, women, LGBT people, etc. because they can’t change those facts about themselves.
ERIC: I do think your distinction is an important one, Mary, though I also think it is a mistake on various grounds to claim that LGBT people possess a trait or traits that are immutable in the same sense that, say, sex or race is. This is especially true in the case of the new warped ideology of "gender identity" as opposed to sex. The degree to which sexual orientation or gender identity is innate vs. acquired is still an open one. Is that true of race or sex? Obviously not. What's more, LGBT is, unlike race, defined more by behavior than by any discernible physical trait. So all in all, I'd say that while your distinction is important, your easy inclusion of the LGBT spectrum within the "innate" side is off-base. You may also have something to say on my arguments above with Jim R.
MORE COWBELL: Here's some perspective from what seems to me a pretty middle-of-the-road, reasonable Canadian woman. Worth watching:
Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.
Sunday, May 27, 2018
我還沒刮鬍子,人也還昏昏欲睡,但依然鎖上我在台北 這位於五樓的家門,等著電梯來。我看看手錶,上課快遲到 了。然後,當自高樓層龜速降下的電梯總算在我面前打開, 我便瞧見這位媽媽和她年幼的兒子。這對母子是樓上的住 戶;兒子差不多四、五歲,抱著一大片用保鮮膜包好的西瓜。 那是片黃肉西瓜,而且顏色就跟他 T 恤上印的腳踏車一般 黃。做媽媽的則提著一只過大的 LV 包包,臉上仍舊化著過 濃的彩妝。小男孩對我笑了一笑,但婦人始終低著頭。
Unshaven, still drowsy, I lock the door to my 5th floor Taipei flat. I check my watch as I wait for the elevator, realizing I’ll likely be late for class. When the elevator door finally opens, after an annoyingly slow descent from a floor high above, I come face to face with some upper-story neighbors, a mother and her young son. The boy is four or five and carries a huge slice of watermelon covered in clear plastic wrap. I notice the yellow of the melon perfectly matches the yellow of the bicycle stenciled on his teeshirt. The mother, as usual, has way overdone her makeup, and is carrying an oversized Louis Vuitton bag. The boy smiles at me, but the woman keeps her gaze on the floor.
Then, as the doors close, she suddenly whacks her son sharply on the head and snaps in Mandarin: “Stop touching the melon! You’ll ruin it and no one will want to eat it! It’s like butterfly wings. If you touch them you ruin them!”
I watch the boy’s reaction in the mirror as the elevator begins to descend.
“Do people eat butterfly wings?” he asks her after a few seconds.
She makes a scoffing noise and says just a single word: “Stupid.” She clutches her bag closer to her.
As we near the ground floor, I catch the boy’s eye in the mirror. He’s clearly upset to be hit and insulted in front of the tall foreigner. As the elevator slows to a stop, I smile at him and say: “We eat them in my country.”
And just before the doors open, he looks up at his mother and defiantly says: “He eats them!”
As I step out of the elevator, I catch the mother scowling at me. But the boy is happy. I know in his mind he’s already picturing foreigners munching on yellow butterfly wings.
That I’ll be late for my class matters little now. I step out into the rain, hoist my flimsy umbrella, and head to the subway. I’m glad I caught them on the elevator. One must always try one’s best to get to children when they’re young.
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Have some deadpan with your coffee. From Idiocy, Ltd. Dryest humor in the west.
Saturday, May 26, 2018
I was chatting with a new friend on Facebook and he threw out the question of why the American left has in weird ways gone “so far left” but in other ways has become so disconnected from the actual working class. He was trying to figure out Marxism’s role in this shift.
Well, I’d been watching this transformation for years and have a basic explanation. My answer:
So, S., I wanted to get back to you with my short thesis on what happened to the American left, what made it into basically a fake left with nothing going for it but cheap identity politics and authoritarian tendencies.
The questions are kind of obvious: Why has our left given up fighting for average working Americans? Why has it instead taken to screaming 24/7 about all these supposed “victim” groups--and screaming in such extremist ways besides?
A lot of people are asking these questions, because in fact none of it makes much sense. Until you look at where our left came from, that is. And then it makes all too much sense. Pathetic and ridiculous sense.
Our current American left was born (stillborn I’d say) from the convergence of two main trends, as follows:
1) In the middle of the 20th century Marxist thinkers hatched a strategy called "the long march through the institutions". We in America are now seeing something like the belated results of this strategy.
The "long march" doctrine arose when it did because Marxist intellectuals realized that, contrary to Marx's predictions, the Western working class was not in fact organizing itself for revolution, but was rather, in their view, being easily seduced and misled by the glittering toys of mass culture and the dreamy promises of capitalist ideology. Their solution: to focus efforts on a slow takeover of the professions, especially education, media, and other areas with mass influence. This takeover would require some time, thus they dubbed it “the long march through the institutions”. They theorized that once leftists had enough control of these institutions, they could then forge a revolutionary consciousness in the masses, and then an actual revolutionary movement. This "long march" thinking is one of the reasons that so many hard-core leftists starting in the post-war period were content to become academics. They could tell themselves they were seeding the ground. The Frankfurt School thinkers, with their Marxist cultural criticism, offered a bridge over which would-be revolutionaries could walk themselves into academia.
In fact the strategy has ultimately borne fruit, although a different fruit than originally intended. What happened? Orthodox Marxism was increasingly debunked. So that in the intervening decades the work of all those "left" professors shifted focus to cultural analysis: Foucault, structuralism, the postmoderns--thinkers in all these movements set their sights on something other than economic warfare. The issue du jour became more one of identity warfare--all the marginalized “victim” groups, whether sexual or racial or whatever. So that when the French intellectual movements of the 1960s crossed the Atlantic in a big way and infected American universities, the results were predictable. No more was the focus on supporting the American working class in general: rather everything was suddenly feminism, African-American studies, the LGBT movement, racism racism racism. And in fact the main base of the Democratic Party, the huge number of white working class Americans, itself suddenly became suspect, especially if those white working Americans also happened to be Christian. Marxism as an economic philosophy being defunct, these identity squabbles became the supposed new revolutionary battleground. And note: though Marxism itself was left behind, the authoritarian ethos of Marxism was retained. For most of these academic clowns, there is little to support in the US Constitution, with its protections of free speech and religious liberty. They want none of it, because they want to direct what people are to say and think.
This, in short, is how our professoriat and all the media shills that echo it came to abandon economics as the basis of its leftism. In the US, this shift in academic focus has slowly shifted the whole idea of what it means to be "left-wing". All basic bread-and-butter issues became secondary to sexual or racial politics. And then this deeply entrenched new “leftism” met up with a parallel development occurring in the Democratic Party, as follows.
2) The Democratic Leadership Council created in the mid-1980s by Bill Clinton and cronies pushed the party toward an explicit embrace of big business. In my view, the DLC was the beginning of the end of the Democratic Party as a party of working people, though sadly it has taken decades for the American working class to realize just how badly they've been sold out.
The DLC is the origin of what we see today: a Democratic Party just as beholden to Wall Street and corporate CEOs as the GOP ever was.
But note: When the Democratic Party stopped fighting for working folks in the 1990s, when they abandoned the American working class for the CEOs, they knew they still had to show they were fighting for SOMETHING. They still needed some flag to wave to claim their left-wing cred. Voilà! The flag was there on offer from the children of "the long march through the institutions". The Democratic Party just needed to pretend it was fighting for the identity dignity of all these supposedly victimized groups. Note that doing so would not require them in any significant way to break ranks with Wall Street or the big corporations. They could screw over the mass of the working class (all those white folks in flyover country) while getting all emotional in their speeches about things like transgender bathroom passes and the “rights” of illegal immigrants.
The Democratic Party thus found a pseudo-revolutionary movement it could meld with: all the SJW (social justice warrior) morons that now swarm our academies and publish in rags like Slate and Salon and Vox. The Democratic Party has thus become a fake left party in the same way that our academic leftists are for the most part fake Marxists. Both have abandoned the hard bread-and-butter fight for the relative comforts and glitz of identity squabbles.
What happened in 2016 is pretty clear. Enough of the American working class, especially the white working class, had finally seen the Democratic scam for what it was. Fortunately, they switched to Trump in protest against both the corruption of the establishment GOP and even more so in protest against the fake leftism of their former party.
That's my take on why the American left is what it is. Interbreed fake academic Marxists with a fake Democratic Party and you get what we see today: a double-fake movement of screaming little Stalins of all flavors and dyed hair colors. Their mantra stems directly from their academic programming: "You're a racist! You're a homophobe! Down with the patriarchy! Die, bigot! Transphobe! End white supremacy! Racism racism racism!" And this in a country where gays and lesbians can live their lives as they choose, where more women are graduating university than men, and where a white-majority population twice elected a black man as president. Read the pages of the left-liberal press and these -isms are literally all that is talked about. You can follow one or another of these rags for a month straight and you will not find a single article about the struggles of working Americans in general, because, see, too many of those working Americans, being white and/or Christian, are seen as hateful bigots who need to be sent to gulags for ideological training. And that's not a joke. It is thoroughly believable that these people, if empowered, would set up gulags in which to imprison their identity enemies.
Hopefully hardworking Americans will continue to realize how fake and how toxic this new left really is and will keep voting it out of power. My own analysis is that our Constitution and what remains of our traditional culture are under concerted attack by myriad forces and that the only political movement now capable of defending them is the populist right.
You can search more on "the long march through the institutions" and the Democratic Leadership Council if you like. But perhaps, S., you already know plenty about these two fatal pincers of the shabby claw that is our fake American left.
My novel A Taipei Mutt is now in print. The Asian capital unmuzzled.
Tuesday, May 22, 2018
with Tanya Selvaratnam
White Democrats and their sick obsession with race. When is it going to end? They can’t decide if they want to save people of color or dominate and abuse them. And either way it’s the same power-trip behind it. Our white liberals assume they are gods of some kind: saviors and/or masters. Both at the same time. It’s sick.
Me I don’t much care about the black community. And why should I? When black people succeed, I’m cheering for them. And many many black Americans have accomplished great things. It’s just not the ones who spend two-thirds of their time talking about racism racism racism.
Yes, there are particular challenges people of color face. But those who manage to recognize that, challenges or not, they still have a much better shot at a good life in the US than many other places--these are the ones who will overcome the dumb bigotry that still rears its head now and then. And they get on with life. And when they find happiness, and struggle, and build families, and succeed in work, and thumb their noses at the haters--well, I’m their fan. More power to them.
A few days ago a friend of mine wrote the following sentence in a thread: “Republicans are people who want to keep the boot on black America’s neck.” I think that’s errant nonsense. What I see is that far too many black Americans are keeping the boot on their own necks. They get up in the morning and first thing they do is put on that boot. Like it’s a necessary item of apparel. And the Democratic Party keeps telling them it is.
I’m just glad more and more black Americans are starting to realize what a sham it is. People who have better things to do than play supporting role in a sick drama. People who take that boot off and don’t look back.
(Link to article in photo.)
Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. and begin the long, hard reckoning.
Saturday, May 19, 2018
在今天之前,我通常會用謙恭有禮的語氣間接表達我想警告各位的事,也會把重點放在相對次要的問題上:狗乎,貓乎— 孰為人類適合豢養的寵物。眾所周知,世人有「狗派」和「貓派」之分,而我先前投注了這麼多心力,就是希望能一語驚醒夢中人— 我想讓那些貓派就飼養寵物這點重新思考自己的選擇。我想助他們擺脫對自己朝夕相處的這種不潔生物,所抱持的不實妄想。
「這樣吧— 」我會這麼開始。「咱們來進行一場小小 的思考實驗。要玩嗎?」
「或許你說得對。不過這當中的區別就在於狗會等個兩三天,等牠真的餓到受不了才會下手— 反觀你家的貓,牠可是會在二十四小時之內就把你的臉啃得一乾二淨。我敢拍胸脯保證。而且,不管怎麼說,我的重點應該非常清楚了:你的愛貓壓根沒想過要保護你。牠就顧著躲在沙發後面,只求自己毛茸茸的小屁股可以全身而退。所以囉,從這件事看來,我們就知道貓很— ?」
「得了吧你。話說回來,狗在這種情況下又會怎麼做? 請想像一下。真的:請試圖想像一下。狗會做出非常不同的反應。狗一見自己的主人突然變得這麼小,一定會驚慌得嗚嗚直叫,尾巴也會緊張地擺動起來。牠會拚命跑來跑去,努力思考應該怎麼辦才好。換句話說,狗表現出來的行徑,就 跟一個人碰到這種情況時反應差不多。而這就是狗跟貓的差 別— 天差地別,就像狗和蜥蜴之間的差異。」
我當時正走在台北一條巷子裡,就離我的住處不遠。最近這幾天,我注意到有隻陌生的貓會在附近出沒;每當我出門上班,都會發現牠悄悄溜到停在路邊的車子後方,然後就 開始怒視我。一隻混雜了牛奶糖色和灰白色的小討厭鬼— 他們都管這種貓叫......斑貓?我懶得理牠,只回瞪了牠一 眼。
言歸正傳。當時下了班,正要回家的我走在小巷子裡, 接著便有台載著兩名年輕女子的摩托車朝我高速衝來(沒 什麼好擔心的,因為她們應該只會從我身邊飛馳而過)。豈 料這一回,那隻流浪街頭的斑貓竟決定從路邊的車下奮身一 跳,不偏不倚地撲向那兩位年輕女子。
「貓咪沒事。」另一個女孩說。她氣喘吁吁地跑回來。 我這才看到她頭上那頂 Hello Kitty 安全帽。
講到這裡,各位或許能從中瞧出一種日常性的交通小事 故:被嚇了一跳的貓忽然衝到街上,駕駛見狀馬上緊急轉彎, 然後就撞倒了路人。我卻不是這麼看的。不。因為這種事可不是今天才有。事情的真相很簡單:那隻貓企圖致我於死地。 牠一開始就是奉上級的命令,才會踏進我居住的社區,好伺 機奪取我的性命。是的,我今天發生的這場小小意外說穿了 就是謀殺未遂的案件。這就是為何我總算打定主意要公開手 上那些貓的相關資料。因為事情的真相必要揭露;一定得有 人拆穿牠們的西洋鏡,而且事不宜遲。
貓其實是為了占領地球,才會光臨我們這顆星球的外星 物種生命體。牠們是一種寄生物,但模仿哺乳動物的技術 已經非常成熟— 以便接近我們,這些被牠們催眠的人類宿 主。牠們在占領地球這方面也有階段性的進展。相信牠們很 快就會啟動第三階段的任務。到了那個時候,我們就連掙扎 的機會都沒有了。
. . . continued . . .
我怎麼知道貓是外來種？答案就在《白痴有限公司》見真彰; 還有犀牛、蝙蝠、obasans 、海豚、真英雄、台北秘史 and more. 你可以在台灣買到:
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