politics

Progressives and SJW-critics alike should be aware of Russian efforts to amplify extreme voices on the left.

As a starting point – check out the Wikipedia page for Foundations of Geopolitics .

The book is used in many Russian institutions and proposes various Russian geopolitical strategies.

Relating to the United States, there is this paragraph:

Russia should use its special services within the borders of the United States to fuel instability and separatism, for instance, provoke “Afro-American racists”. Russia should “introduce geopolitical disorder into internal American activity, encouraging all kinds of separatism and ethnic, social and racial conflicts, actively supporting all dissident movements – extremist, racist, and sectarian groups, thus destabilizing internal political processes in the U.S. It would also make sense simultaneously to support isolationist tendencies in American politics.”[1]

It is generally accepted by the media and political establishments that Russia did indeed play a role in the 2016 US Election – with reports of paid trolls and bots.

For a progressive then – it is easy to dismiss or be wary online that some pro-Trump twitter person may infact be a bot or paid troll.

And pro-Trump talking points is part of the strategy – normalising an opinion by making it seem like many others hold it.

But the other side of the coin – that I think many progressives have a blindspot to – is the liberal agitation from Russia.

Reports are coming out that Russia paid for ads supporting Jill Stein, Bernie Sanders as well as Donald Trump. There are reports that Russia paid for geographically targeted ads supporting Black Lives Matter. There’s also the now suspended @bostonantifa Twitter account that recently posted a tweet geotagged in Russia, whatever that means:

2neyef1lmbsyn2xmpz1t08ga5bktywpw_lgz9her8n0
This image shouldn’t be taken seriously. This Buzzfeed article has a pretty good summary. 

This highlights the need for two things:

  • Progressives need to apply critical reasoning to all political actions, and not blindly go along with, or tolerate any political activity just because it’s anti-Trump. For example, in the wake of Charlottesville there was a wave of doxxing coordinated by the Twitter account @YesYoureRacist,    that did end up doxxing someone innocent. 
  • There’s a brand of ideology I’ll call SJW-critical Trump apologism. While not explicitly #MAGA Trump supporters – these people tend to be critical of progressives (and often with well founded criticisms), but also turning a blind eye to Trumpism, or selectively applying different standards of proof or reasoning as needed.
    This ideology often points at anti-free speech or fascist tendencies among the left, with the unsaid

Now to be clear – this isn’t to say that every example of extreme behaviour on the left is the work of Russian agents. I don’t think that Zara Joshi of Hugh Mungus fame is a Russian agent, nor do I think the 2016 Dallas cop shooter  was. Similarly – I don’t think all the people who marched in Charlottesville were Russian agents.

But – we should all be aware that while some people genuinely do hold extreme views – often the prevalence of those views are being amplified by the internet, to make them seem like they are more prevalent than they really are. (I think too the media plays a role – as controversy sells while more moderate, and likely more common views do not).

In short:

  • Progressives shouldn’t be tempted to adopt anti-liberal tendencies, because the extreme political climate warrants it. They should be aware that a lot of the extremism is manufactured.
  • SJW-critical Trump apologists should be similarly aware that a lot of the liberal extremism is manufactured, and also that – just as Trump supporters can be duped – so can liberals.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
politics

Cynicism in practise.

The show isn’t over yet, but assuming National does form a forth-term government:

Consolation prize – yay I get a $20/week tax cut in April 2018.

I’ve had a resolution to give money to charity since I started my career four years ago. Back then it was $250, and while my income has gone up >50%  since then, the amount I’m giving is still $250.

I could give the entirety of this tax cut to charity, making my donation $1000 or more.

This reddit thread entitled ‘Practical things you can do if you’re feeling discouraged with our political situation’ suggests doing something like that.

The problem I have – is this feels like a free rider effect or prisoners dilemma – where New Zealanders as a whole have voted against equality. Putting the onus on individuals to support charity essentially means that the more well off New Zealanders who aren’t supporting charity, are freeriding on the social benefits that the charity provides.

On the otherhand, I could be saving the money, and in attempt to scramble up the wealth gap and be on the privileged side of the wealth gap.

This is, in effect cynicism in practise. Like a prisoner’s dilemma example, if appears like the other person isn’t going to cooperate – then it clearly is the rational move to not cooperate myself.

Perhaps there’s a third option. Not giving the money to something alleviating poverty in New Zealand, but something supporting a political party I respect (Which one though? I don’t like Labour/Green’s head in the sand attitude towards welfare dependency, and I don’t like TOP’s controversy politics) – or perhaps – supporting research for male contraception.

 

politics

Post-truth politics, Trumpism, and cynicism.

The results of the 2017 New Zealand General Election are disappointing.

It’s a little disappointing that we have a national-populist in the position of kingmaker – but what the real issue is that National got 46% of the vote.

If I were to summarise what people were voting on this election, with the caveat that I’m possibly in my own ideological bubble, it was voting on ‘supporting welfare dependency’ vs ‘supporting liars’.

For me, it’s disappointing that in regards to the dishonest tactics National used in this election, that so many voters either believed the lies, or thought the lies were an acceptable technique in our political process.

From an outside perspective looking at Trump-era America, it’s mind-boggling to many that Donald Trump still commands a 40% approval rating.

I wouldn’t equate the National Party with Donald Trump – I don’t think they practise the overtly bigoted, uncivil or hateful rhetoric that Trump does – but they have been practising a similar lack of regard for the truth the Trump does.

Other than that people who voted were apparently ok with National untruths, it’s also disappointing how many people didn’t vote in their own interests. This election had a 78% turnout, up from 74% in 2011, and of those that don’t vote, they tend to be poor and/or young.

This is where it’s tempting to become a bit cynical. Parties like Labour and Green seek to represent the interests of people who aren’t bothered enough to vote.

As an educated person earning more than the median income, it’s tempting to consider that perhaps I shouldn’t be concerned to supporting policies for people who aren’t bothered enough to support themselves.

There are a few points in response to this though:

  • Issues like climate change do affect me.
  • Arguably, homelessness and poor mental health affects our society as whole, through crime, etc.
  • I don’t own a house, and Labour’s Kiwibuild plan would benefit me a lot more than the National’s $10k extra homestart grant.

But let’s continue with this line of thought. Perhaps I should narrow my scope of empathy, and to hell with those less well off.

I suspect, that this is the calculation that many people have made – acknowledging that it must suck to be earning only $25/hour and supporting a family on that, or that home ownership would be near impossible on that income, but ‘The important thing is to provide a good life for me and my family – so long as my kids are ok, then it’s ok’.

I think that the home ownership thing where National got a lot of support. I suspect that many of those who are already on the property ladder, don’t want to see more affordable housing – what they want to see is continuing increasing prices, so that they can make bank on the house they’ve purchased in the recent years.

There’s two main problems I have with this kind of thinking:

  • I think this self-centered (I don’t use that term as an ad hominem, but as a literal descriptor of the philosophy) thinking is counter-productive when it comes to tackling global issues like global warming. This kind of thinking would have one saying ‘Global warming won’t be a problem, so long as I can purchase a piece of land in an area that wrecked by global warming, and purchase the means to protect it’. Possibly a viable option if you’re super rich, but not if you’re just upper middle class – which chances are, you are.
  • The idea of supporting a system that advantages the more well off relies on you being one of those people. In that sense, it seems like this race to be one of the privileged is a bit a scam. Of course, it’s easier to say this, myself not being a homeowner .

So that’s where I’m at. Ultimately I think post-truth politics is a dangerous game. It might suit you today, if your party wins, but there’s nothing stopping a party that you don’t like winning tomorrow using the same techniques.

I do think that both Labour and Green could do more to reform. It makes sense that seperate their bleeding heart welfare platform, from their climate change and housing problem platforms. That way – they might attract the votes of people who want an alterative to National, but who really don’t want to support to welfare dependency. But all of this, is a post for another time.

relationships · social philosophy · Uncategorized

So it’s apparent that they’re not interested, now what?

It’s a common theme in contemporary dating, you’ve been talking, you’ve been on a date, and… they haven’t messaged you back. Have they just forgotten? Are they feeling anxious? Are they just not into you? I’ve written about this here.

But what’s the next step? You figure they’re not into you, what do you do now, to improve things best for you.

Here’s a few simple tips:

  • Unfriend them on Facebook, unfollow them on Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Turn off chat on Facebook.
  • Delete the conversation thread on Facebook.
  • Delete their number.
  • Delete the conversation thread on SMS.
  • Delete any emails you’ve exchanged.

turn off            delete

Sounds drastic?

Not really.

The most important thing to do now – is what’s best for you. Seeing them on your newsfeed, or seeing that they’re active online, is just going to trigger a twinge of rejection.

By deleting their social media presence, they’re out of sight out of mind, and you begin to forget.

I’ve been rejected many times in the past. One particularly poignant heart break, I wrote about here.

The thing with all of these heartbreaks, is at the time it feels intense. These days, unless I’m actively trying to remember times I’ve been rejected, I don’t even think about them.

That’s the state you’re going for, not thinking of them, and to do that, delete the messages and unfollow them on social media.

 

movie reviews · politics

The Red Pill documentary – Not the cesspool of misogyny you might think it is.

Image result for the red pill documentary

The Red Pill is a documentary film about a self identified feminist Cassie Hayes and her investigating the Men’s Right’s Activism movement. The film features interviews with prominent MRAs like Paul Elam, counterpoint interviews with feminists, and footage of confrontations between feminists and MRAs.

The film starts with Cassie explaining that she’d heard of deeply misogynistic MRAs and so looks in to investigate. The film ends with her saying ‘I don’t know where I’m headed, but I know what I’ve left behind – I no longer call myself a feminist’.

My overall impressions on this film as a film is positive. The production quality is good, and I was engaged throughout. This film is easy to watch.

I think it’s fair to say that the film is a pro-MRA film, despite its claim that it started out as critical investigation of MRAs.

I found the film very convincing, it that it made persuasive arguments that MRAs can be reasonable people with legitimate grievances.

The film covers a few specific MRA issues, which I’ll cover – but I think the main point of the film is not intended as a comprehensive run down of men’s rights issues, but to portray MRAs as reasonable people, and also to highlight the conflict between MRAs and feminists, or to suggest that the portrayal of MRAs as misogynists is unfounded.

Some of the issues covered were:

  • Men are subject to wrongful paternity or paternity fraud, and in some cases legislation prevents men from having recourse. (For example, the film mentions how in France paternity testing is illegal without the mother’s consent).
  • It presents the example of Carnell Alexander, where the law in some places is such that in order for a woman to qualify for welfare they need to put a name on a birth certificate, which has some men being put on birth certificates when they’re not the father.
  • One MRA tells a heartbreaking story about the parenting dispute with his ex over their son. He alleges that she was intentionally overfeeding him, and whereby he eventually gives up custody. In this story – I wish I could have heard the other side of the story, not that interviewing the mother was necessarily possible.

One bit that did give me pause was when an MRA was giving an example of wrong paternity, the example he gives is ‘Ok, we went to a party, I had sex with six guys, I think it was when I was hanging out the window I got pregnant I’m not sure.. and then she names one of the other guys who didn’t have sex with her’.
I thought this hypothetical situation was gratuitous and fell on the slutshaming siding of things. A more neutral example of wrongful paternity could have been given.

There are several moments that to me do strike me as legitimate grievances of men’s rights activists or criticisms of feminism.

For example, there’s footage of feminists confronting men’s rights activists that looks pretty awful.

Or this scene from a talk show where women cheer tricking a man into concieving a child:

 

There were a couple of points that I found poignant, and that I hadn’t considered:

  • The concept of men being objectified as a ‘success object’ in the same way that women have been objectified as sex objects.
  • Cassie mentions that whenever MRAs bring up men’s issues, she feels the need to respond with women’s issues. She then considers that perhaps when MRAs have been doing this in response to feminist talking points, it’s same thing, suggesting that the conflict between MRAs and feminists maybe due to each failing to empathise with each other.

 

Criticisms and thoughts about the men’s rights movement in general

The title of the film is unnecessarily inflamatory.

The term ‘The Red Pill’ initially comes from the move The Matrix, describing the choice to to see the real world.

The term has since been adopted by a reddit community /r/theredpill which subscribes to a toxic gender essentialism which suggest that women like being dominated, and also by alt right / 4chan types as verb to mean ‘what’s the hidden truth about’.

Image result for red pill me on

I think the term does a disservice to the film, by associating with these toxic men’s movements. I suspect the term was intentionally used, to court controversy and get exposure.

An alternative view would be that if Cassie genuinely did set out with the view that she was investigating a misogynistic movement, then she couldn’t change the name once she realised that there was a distinction between MRAs and redpillers. (This does appear to be the case – as is evidenced in this reddit AMA).

Cassie briefly that there’s a distinction between men’s rights activists, red pillers and men going their own way (MGTOW), right at the end of the film.

I think this is where male gender politics deserves a good look it.

I’m of the opinion that there are genuine issues that men uniquely or disproportionally face, and also that there is a toxic form of misandric feminism that is being left unchecked. I think the instant dismissal of men’s rights activists is unwarranted and unconstructive.

However, I acknowledge that there is a huge amount of crossover between men’s rights activism, and what I consider genuinely toxic male subcultures such as red pillers, the alt right and gamer gate.

Giving feminists the benefit of the doubt, I would suggest many feminists see toxic cultures like gamer gate or /r/theredpill and erroneously conflate that with what I’d consider genuine men’s rights activism.

I think the term ‘men’s rights activism’ has its own problems too. It’s been effectively stigmatised as anti-feminist or misogynistic – and as a result I think many liberal minded level headed men, although sympathetic to men’s rights issues, are unwilling to adopt the label themselves. The remaining men are then more likely to be of a more bitter or dug in persuasion.

For example, I don’t agree with Paul Elam’s strategy in writing  ‘Bash a violent bitch month‘, where he’s satirizing using a deliberately inflammatory tone in response to this Jezebel article. I think Elam’s technique is misguided, if not outright misogynistic and it’s not constructive. The Jezebel article I think is callous in its tone, I suspect it’s meant to received with a tone on apology, but they don’t make that explicit. Elam’s response on the other hand, is pretty disturbing.

That brings me to where I’m at: stuck between not really wanting to associate with the bitterness or misogyny that I see as common in the men’s rights movement, and also not wanting to be stigmatised as a misogynist myself; but also wanting to talk about men’s issues and be critical of what I think is some pretty toxic elements of feminism – such as wanting to suppress the discussion of men’s issues or dismissed it as either deserved or misogynistic.

This is where I would like Cassie Jaye to go next. She’s created one documentary that starts out investigating an apparently misogynistic subculture and then presented as reasonable and with legitimate grievances. What I’d like to see a documentary that investigates the genuinely misogynistic subcultures, and draws a distinction between their various political ideologies, as well as presenting where men’s rights activists and feminist identifying men are positioned in relation.

 

Conclusion

Well produced film. Cassie Jaye definitely has talent as a film producer. Having watched the film, it’s hard to see how it warrants people wanting to shut the film down for being misogynistic. At most, any criticism of the film should be on its academic merits, and for me it’s more concerning that there’s a culture of actively trying to censor this kind of film.

I recommend this movie to anyone with an interest in gender politics. Regardless of what you think about men’s rights activism, I think this movie is a good start for men and women to start talking about the issues men face.

As final insight of how this film has been received – here’s a video showing the creator on morning news show – where it’s apparent they’ve made their mind up about the film without watching it. I suspect that for many feminists who haven’t seen the film, they too may hold the same preconception. If you need something to convince you to watch the film, then watch this clip – she’s a very persuasive speaker and holds herself well.

 

 

politics · Uncategorized

Female empowerment, success objects, and male mental health.

Here’s a chart I discovered recently that concerns me:

Capture2
Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1414751/

It shows a steady increase in the male teen suicide rate, while the suicide rate for female teens remains flat.

On my Twitter feed today, this article from Sophia Graham of the Mental Foundation responds to Mark Dawson’s editorial suggesting that increasing male suicide is linked to their relative less prominent role in society.

Mark says:

One explanation for this disproportion may be the growing empowerment of women and their increasing role in society.

Is an unfortunate side effect that men feel less secure, less sure of their place in a world where they were once more dominant?

Perhaps it reflects the work pressures on men – still usually the main bread-winner. Working males make up a significant proportion of the grim statistics.

Sophia is critical of Mark’s editorial. The headline reads ‘A response to the newspaper editor who thinks feminism may cause male suicide’ though Mark never mentions the term ‘feminism’.

Sophia makes a few points I take issue with:

  • Male suicide rates have always been higher than female suicide rates.
    • This is true – but male suicide rates are also growing. She doesn’t acknowledge this. Correction: in New Zealand suicide rates appear to be on the decline. The excel spread sheet linked from here from Stats NZ  shows a steady increase of suicide rate of both women and men of about 50% from 1985 to 1998 and then a steady decline since then.
  • She says his comments are dangerous. She makes the argument that Mark’s article contributes to the traditional culture of male stoicism.
    • I fail to see how this is the case. Mark’s article is precisely highlighting that one aspect of traditional masculinity is seeing men’s value as an economic provider, and that their changing role in society may lead men feeling disempowered and turning to suicide as a result.
    • Instead it’s Sophia that is reinforcing this gender norm, by shutting down an attempt to encourage looking at the the changing definition of masculinity and how that’s affecting men today. Sophia shames men for talking about their  response to currently defined masculinity by labeling it as dangerous and anti-woman’s empowerment.
  • She makes the point that ” male suicide rates are tied more closely to economic pressures than changing social roles”.
    • The source she cites does indeed mention the decline of traditional male industries as a factor in male suicide. However, the same source also makes a point that traditional conceptions of masculinity also play a role – one of those expressions of masculinity being providing for the family, especially amongst working class men.
  • She says that he shows a lack of compassion towards females who live with depression or anxiety.
    • Mark’s article was specifically talking about male suicide. Sophia’s criticism is a ‘whataboutism’ argument. Given that in New Zealand 3/4 suicides are men, it make sense to pay special attention to why men are doing it.

The one thing I would criticise about Mark’s article is where he says

[suicide is] one area where women don’t want gender equality

this is a cheap shot and is a broad generalisation that serves to paint an uncaring picture of women.

Overall – this was an incredibly disappointing response from the Mental Health Foundation. Instead of congratulating Mark for starting a discussion about this one particular aspect of mental health – she attempts to shut it down by labeling it as dangerous.

The Mental Health Foundation is an organisation that I respect and support, but this is one case of I think them doing exactly the wrong thing.

Sophia ends the piece with

I acknowledge your editorial contained some valid and interesting remarks on the how the pressures men face can contribute to suicide. It’s a shame these were left unexplored.

and to be fair – Mark’s article was quite short, all he’s really doing is saying ‘this is an issue that men are uniquely facing, and we need to do more to focus on it’.

But instead of taking advantage of a teachable moment – and articulating just what the factors and trends of male suicide are, she instead just the discussion as dangerous – without, in my opinion, really conclusively refuting it.

So here I go to further expound what I think Mark was getting at.

Sex objects vs success objects. 

The term sex object or sexual objectification has been used in feminist discourse to describe how society reduces women’s value to society as their function to provide sexual gratification.

This has been frustrating to women, where they’ve felt that their potential contributions to business, science etc has been marginalized because of this.

Using the same lens to look at men’s roles in society – we can use the term ‘success object’.

That is – men’s value to society is a function of their ability to win, to be an economic provider.

In our historic society with traditional gender roles this was easier to achieve for the man – even a single low skilled worker’s pay was enough to support a family.

However in modern times average guy’s ability to get this kind of role has disappeared, while the expectation that he can do this remains.

Research shows that despite women’s increased participation in the economy – educated women still prefer to marry men who earn than them. 

Pointing this out isn’t an argument against female empowerment. It’s argument for redefining masculinity in the modern era – and that involves allowing men to say ‘I feel pressure to earn a lot of money so I can attract a mate’. Perhaps then we’ll get a conversation about what society values in men instead.

But shutting these conversations down as dangerous or disempowering to women is not the right way to go. That only causes feelings of male disempowerment to fester unseen.

 

observation · politics

Why didn’t Obama tell everyone about the Russians before the election?

It’s become clear recently that the FBI was investigating both Hillary Clinton’s emails and Russian attempts to interfere with the US election.

Comey has faced criticism – why did he come out about additional Hillary emails ten days before the election, but didn’t mention the Russian interference?

Surely Obama would have been briefed about this.

Why didn’t Obama hold a press conference and tell everyone what was going on?

Is it really that the extent of it hasn’t come to light until recently?

It feels like the Obama establishment really fucked up on this one – instead of fighting like the Russians are – by exposing information, they’re opted for a strategy of secrecy. Hardly does wonders for their credibility.