Thursday, February 23, 2017

the ancient art of making the working class invisible

From A Frank Talk With Jessa Crispin About Why Modern-Day Feminism Is Full of Shit:
There’s that Rebecca Traister book, All the Single Ladies. It’s all about this self-empowerment feminism—like “look at these brave women living their urban lives and chasing their dreams.” She talks about how the city can provide you the spousal care that a wife used to provide her husband—it can cook your food, launder your clothes, blah blah blah. But the city doesn’t do that shit. Immigrants do that shit. You can’t pretend that “the city” is a benevolent creature.
and
I went to the Google office to visit a friend and talk about fucking safe spaces! They have these little cubbies that practically hug you while you sit there and read. It was very kindergarten. Silicon Valley should be called out on their safe space bullshit more than anyone else. Like, “I need the Google bus because I need wi-fi and tinted windows so I don’t have to look at the homeless people on my way to work.”
That reminded me of a Mexican woman who said, explaining why she had had a maid when she was growing up, "Everyone in Mexico City has a maid."

And this moment in Huckleberry Finn:

“Good gracious! anybody hurt?”
“No’m. Killed a nigger.”
“Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.” 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A few series that have good places to stop watching before the series actually ends (no spoilers)

This post isn't about shark-jumping, which is when a show has gone on too long. It's about when the important arcs have been resolved, and while what follows may have strong moments, the show is not as satisfying overall.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer has two good endings. From a purely esthetic point of view, the third season, when she graduates, has the perfect ending. But the end of season five is also mighty nice.

Deadwood ends well at the end of Season Two.

Veronica Mars ends well at the end of the first season. An argument could be made that if you like the first season as much as I did and want more, you should skip the next two seasons and watch the reunion movie.

The Matrix should never have had sequels.

Any to add? If you want to get spoilery in the comments, just say so before you reveal anything major.

Monday, February 20, 2017

On Milo Yiannopoulos and Samuel R. Delany, and why child pornography is a real crime, not a thought crime

Yiannopoulos and Delany have similar histories, but because their politics are different, some defenders of one will attack the other for his sexual views.

Delany talked about his past here: a conversation with Samuel R. Delany about NAMBLA, sexuality, and consent.

Yiannopoulos has responded to his critics here: Milo Yiannopoulos.

So far as I know, they both respect our current laws. For me, that's sufficient—if fantasies were grounds for imprisonment, who would be free? People write about a great many things that disgust me, but so long as it's clear they don't plan to force their fantasies on anyone, I'm content that their work exists because I don't have to read it.

This has me thinking about thought crimes—I oppose hate crime laws because I think motives don't matter, only intent and deeds do. But that reasoning gets murky when dealing with recordings: should owners of child pornography be punished simply for owning material that depicts illegal activity?

My answer is yes. The recordings are the products of a crime, so their owners are in the same category as owners of stolen property—they are enablers of the crime. The owners of illegal property may be even more guilty than the people who committed the initial crime—the essential question is whether the initial crime would have been committed if a market for its result did not exist.

ETA: Yes, I also think people who hire killers are at least as guilty as the killer. Money has killed more people than bombs or bullets have.

"Privilege" has been neoliberalized and "inequality" is next

The Ford Foundation made a vapid video that discusses inequality in identitarian terms, focusing on race and gender almost exclusively. Doug Henwood shared it on Facebook, where Michael Pollak left this comment:
...I'm sorry that this seems to make obsolete Branko Milankovic's great line that foundations love to talk about poverty, but not inequality, because the latter sounds to rich people like you want to take their money.

Of course it's not for any good reason, it's because "inequality" is being neoliberalized into meaning identity equality.
Those of us who want to focus on economic injustice lost "privilege" in the 1980s when neoliberalism and identitarianism were growing together. I love privilege's literal meaning, "private law", a perfect description of what wealth buys. But privilege theorists turned "privilege" from meaning what the elite has to meaning what most of the hoi polloi have. The word's roots have been chopped away; to privilege theorists, privilege now means "majority law".

The logic of identitarianism is antithetical to the logic of socialism. It's a meme that overwrites economic injustice to make it almost impossible to talk about economics alone, thereby continuing to divide the working class.

Consider this a footnote to The Intertwining of Islamism, Identitarianism, and Neoliberalism, and the Four Waves of Socialism.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tidying up: An apology for Julia Sparkymonster, Micole Coffeeandink, and Mary Dell

April 2015/February 2017

Dear Julia, Micole, and Mary,

Like most artists, I try to keep track of online mentions of my name. Often the results are nice. Perhaps the nicest was when I saw someone praising my brother. I learned about two interesting people who are undoubtedly distant relatives that way, Margot Lee Shetterly and Robert Shetterly. But in 2015, I saw this tweet from Julia:


I wrote a first draft of this letter then, but decided sharing it wouldn't help anyone, so I left it sitting in Blogger's draft folder.

Friday I learned about these tweets:



Julia, my first reaction to your 2015 tweet was to be amused by your use of "harass"—if writing publicly about things someone has said is harassing, you have been harassing me since you showed up on my LiveJournal ten years ago to insist class does not matter when discussing racism.

But then I thought a little more about our history, which reminded me of this part of a post I made in 2014, How I Became A Misogynist White Supremacist Doxxing Troll, or Things about me that SJWs cannot understand, or Fisking a Mixoning, A response to SciFi Fandom's most self-righteous warriors:
Sparky says, "Once I sat down once & compiled documents details his harassment of a particular person for a potential restraining order. The stack of paper was several inches thick (double sided) and fucking appalling. WS also specializes in deleting posts, comments, entire journals, etc. He deleted posts and complains that people aren't reading his words in context. We can't because he deleted them."

I'm assuming she didn't try for a restraining order because she couldn't find a lawyer who thought public posts on the internet were harassment. As for deleting posts, guilty, but this community has been obsessive about screen caps for ages, at least since they doxxed and terrorized Zathlazip. If I'd said or done something extreme, they would have dozens of copies to show it, and the first copy would probably be Sparky's.

Sparky says, "About 2 years ago I ended up sitting down with HR because of concerns that either WS or one of his comment buddies was going to start calling my workplace. In order for me to do my job, my work number must be public. My office location also public. The building I work in is open to the public. I am the only black staff member in the building. I'm the only WOC staff member in the building. It was, and is, fucking terrifying."

Two points: 1. Obviously, I never did what she feared. 2. What she feared is exactly what her friends did to Zathlazip. Sparky was afraid of getting what she had condoned and may have participated in.
Writing that in 2014, I experienced something I've despised since I learned the word: schadenfreude. Rereading my post after seeing your April 2015 tweet, I was sorry I had been amused rather than sympathetic when you were afraid I would treat you the same way your community treats others.

But after I wrote the first draft of this letter, I decided it would help no one and left it unfinished.

Your recent tweet convinced me something must be done. Now you say I threatened you as well as harassed you. When and where did this happen? I'm not aware of anything I've done that I considered a threat, but you have a long history of misunderstanding me. Most of those misunderstandings can never be cleared up because our understandings of the world are so different, but I will gladly do anything I can to clear up this one. No one should live in fear.

Micole and Mary, I'm including you in this letter because Julia helped you compile things I'd said for your "Will Shetterly: Do Not Engage" post. For years, I was frustrated that you'd cherrypicked items to make it look like I believe something I do not, but I eventually made peace with the fact you hear as you do because your belief in intersectionality disconnects class and race, so you see two unique things that only occasionally intersect while I agree with Eric Williams that “Slavery was not born of racism: rather, racism was the consequence of slavery,” and therefore see that race and class in North America have been intimately entangled since the first laws were passed after Bacon's Rebellion to treat African slaves and European indentured servants differently.

Adolph Reed helped me understand how hard it is for identitarians to hear nuance. In The limits of anti-racism, he wrote something I completely agree with:
Yes, racism exists, as a conceptual condensation of practices and ideas that reproduce, or seek to reproduce, hierarchy along lines defined by race. Apostles of antiracism frequently can’t hear this sort of statement, because in their exceedingly simplistic version of the nexus of race and injustice there can be only the Manichean dichotomy of those who admit racism’s existence and those who deny it. There can be only Todd Gitlin (the sociologist and former SDS leader who has become, both fairly and as caricature, the symbol of a “class-first” line) and their own heroic, truth-telling selves, and whoever is not the latter must be the former. Thus the logic of straining to assign guilt by association substitutes for argument.

My position is—and I can’t count the number of times I’ve said this bluntly, yet to no avail, in response to those in blissful thrall of the comforting Manicheanism—that of course racism persists, in all the disparate, often unrelated kinds of social relations and “attitudes” that are characteristically lumped together under that rubric, but from the standpoint of trying to figure out how to combat even what most of us would agree is racial inequality and injustice, that acknowledgement and $2.25 will get me a ride on the subway. It doesn’t lend itself to any particular action except more taxonomic argument about what counts as racism.
When I say your neoliberal understanding of race, gender, and class and my socialist understanding are fundamentally different, I do not mean to imply you are bad people. I only mean to stress that what you believe shapes your ability to understand others, so when I say, "Class matters most under capitalism," you hear me say, "Race doesn't matter; only class does."

Since I'm quoting things, here's what Malcolm X said after he rejected the Nation of Islam's identitarian ways:
My dearest friends have come to include all kinds—some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists—some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!
My range of friends has always been that broad. I was raised to believe in live and let live, and in agreeing to disagree. I realize your community rejects those principles and that in your eyes my criticism of Derrick Bell and Kimberlé Crenshaw makes me a heretic, but being treated as a heretic never made me hate any of you or want to see any harm come to any of you. When my family was a small part of the civil rights struggle, I was bullied in school for being a "nigger lover", but my parents taught me to pity my haters for the limits of their vision. My spirituality has taken several forms, but two bits I learned in Sunday School will always stay with me: the story of the Good Samaritan and Jesus's teaching to love your enemy.

Which is the long way of saying I have no bad feelings for you now and never wanted you to suffer, and I am appalled by the idea that any of you think I would ever use the tactics you endorse.

Julia, I don't know how to assure you that even when I was most frustrated with your attacks, I never would've tolerated anything like what you feared—all I can do is stress that you now know I never did what you feared, so I hope you can believe I never will. I'm very sorry that when I first learned you were frightened, I didn't try harder to find a way reassure you.

Mary, I know less about your situation than I know about Julia's, but if you've been afraid of me, I'm as sorry as anyone can be. I remember you saying something once about Emma that I answered by joking that you should be careful because she's a better shot than I am. I thought that was hilarious because it's both true she's a better shot and it's ludicrous to think anyone in fandom would shoot anyone over a feud about ideology, but I've accepted that Poe's Law is the only law online, so if that joke gave you a moment's discomfort, I regret it deeply.

Micole, you are not last because you are least. If I ever met Julia offline, it was only briefly, and I have only the vaguest memories of meeting Mary, but I remember meeting you at Tor and being pleased you were starting your career as I had started mine. When I learned you wanted to write, I hoped you would do well. But in 2007 it became clear your belief in the principles of Critical Race Theory did not allow for tolerating disagreement. I knew then we would never be friends, but I am used to being friendly with people who do not share my beliefs, so I didn't realize we had become enemies.

That finally became clear to me in 2009 when you and Julia and Mary made your post about me, and when you insisted you had been pseudonymous and I had outed you. I understand how you think your post did not misrepresent me. I will never understand how you can believe you were pseudonymous while using your very rare first name as your LJ handle and using your full name on public LJ posts about what you had written and where to find you at conventions. For at least two years, Google tracked your LJ so anyone who could type your name into a search engine would find your LJ among the very first hits. It still seems the height of hypocrisy to me that in the weeks after you declared you had been outed, you changed your LJ handle, you changed your LJ settings to "no robots" to erase your online history, and you made private the posts in which you had been publicly sharing your full name, yet you left public the posts accusing me of outing you.

But I don't blame you. Humans are rationalizing animals—the only people who think they're never inconsistent are people who do not know themselves at all. I don't pretend to know myself well, but I know myself well enough to only blame myself for what happened during Racefail 09.

To be clear, I am not sorry I entered that flamewar when I saw you and your friends attacking good people. I am sorry I couldn't find a kinder and more convincing way to respond, and I'm sorry I didn't drop out much sooner. When you insisted your legal identity should be kept out of the histories of Racefail because you were pseudonymous, I should have accepted that as another of your quirks. I certainly never should've made a post ironically declaring that I was outing you. I didn't know about Poe's Law then.

As a result, I learned the hardest way about the psychological consequences of mobbing. I would never wish them on anyone, but I only blame myself for being mobbed. That seems to be what people who have been mobbed do—in my reading about the effects, I've found people who killed themselves, but I haven't found anyone who hurt anyone else. Julia seems to think I have not been punished enough for what I did. Perhaps you will all take some satisfaction in knowing I avoid conventions now because I'm constantly aware someone from your community might attack me in one of the ways that were promised and called for during that time. Well, except for the death threat—perhaps the only advantage of having the KKK threaten to burn down my home when I was a boy was learning very early that most death threats are only meant to terrify.

Your editing of your online past frustrated me enormously for several years, but I finally accepted that what I did was my responsibility and what you did was yours. We all have our burdens, and yours may be far heavier than mine. I am sorry I added to them. If there's anything I can do to lighten them, I'll do it gladly.

Julia, Mary, and Micole, I do not expect any of you to reply. I simply want you to know that you have nothing to fear from me. The world has enough suffering. Why add to it? If there's anything you would like to ask of me, ask it, directly or through an intermediary if you wish, and I will try to provide it. If not, go in peace.

sincerely,

Will

TO EVERYONE READING THIS

I would like to turn the comments off on this post, but I want to know what made Julia think I threatened her. Leaving the comments on makes it possible for her or a friend of hers to answer—pseudonymously if they're afraid of me or of having their community turn on them. So if you're tempted to comment here, I ask the following:

1. No one can lay a hand on you online, so follow Malcolm X's advice to respect everyone.

2. Don't use this post to criticize identitarianism or neoliberalism. My rejection of what Micole, Mary, and Julia believe is unchanged.

3. Don't use this post to criticize other identitarians. If I don't owe them an apology, they're irrelevant.

4. Don't tell me I don't need to apologize. Whether I should've entered the Racefail flamewar is, to my mind, debatable; that I should've been kinder and dropped out sooner is not. As a result, at least one person says she has been afraid for years. That alone is sufficient reason to apologize.

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Socialism of Fools, Part 2: The Logic of Antisemitism is the Logic of Identitarianism

Previously: The Socialism of Fools, Part 1: Antisemitism and Malcolm X, Derrick Bell, and Louis Farrakhan


“Antisemitism is the Socialism of fools.” —a saying of German social democrats at the end of the 19th century, attributed by August Bebel to Ferdinand Kronawetter

Third wave feminists and antiracists believe white Americans are privileged because they are on average wealthier than black and Hispanic Americans. This ignores the fact that Hindu and Jewish Americans are the richest religious groups in the US, which means that everything identitarians say about white Americans logically applies to American Jews.

Being a socialist, I reject this logic. People of every race, ethnicity, and gender can be found in the working class, and therefore I will do all I can to support all of them. This is why socialism is so prominent in the histories of feminism and civil rights.

But if you see power in terms of social identity, you should believe:
1. American antisemites aren't racist because "racism equals prejudice plus power". Jewish Americans as a group have far more economic and political power; therefore antisemites can't be racist.

2. Jewish Americans are racist because they grew up with Jewish American privilege.

3. When Jewish Americans lecture people in a condescending way, they're Jewsplaining. Antisemites can't antisemitesplain because antisemites don't have equivalent power.

4. Jewish Americans should shut up and listen when antisemites explain how Jewish privilege works in America.

5. American Jews who say not all Jews are rich or racist should be mocked as "special snowflakes" who think they're exceptions to the truth antisemites see.

6. American Jews who get upset when presented with examples of Jewish privilege should be mocked for their "Jewish tears".
This is the insane logic of people who accept superficial explanations. The reason Jewish Americans are disproportionately wealthy is simple: The first wave of Jewish immigrants were wealthy, which explains the disproportionate number of Jewish slaveowners—when slavery was part of our economy, slaveowners came from every group, including rich black women like the Widow C. Richards. The second wave of Jewish immigration brought many poor Jews who were fleeing persecution, but it also included wealthy ones, so Jewish immigrants in general continued to have more resources to start businesses than other groups.

But understanding the reasons for disproportionate ethnic wealth calls for understanding history and capitalism. Identitarians on the left and right are content with a shallow understanding of both.

The Socialism of Fools, Part 1: Antisemitism and Malcolm X, Derrick Bell, and Louis Farrakhan

Malcolm X accepted the antisemitism of Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam when he was with them. Forward, a Yiddish newspaper, wrote in 1963:
When Malcolm X was asked whether the Black Muslims are anti-Semitic, he replied: “Many Jews have guilt feelings when people talk about ‘exploitation.’ This is because they know that they control 90 percent of the businesses in black communities, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And they benefit more from black buying power than blacks do from other parts of the white community. So they feel guilty about it.” He also complained that Jews can be found on the boards of such organizations as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but, he continued, “the same Jews won’t let you become president of B’nai B’rith, or any of their other organizations.” Although Malcolm X denied that his organization is anti-Semitic, his comments left many wondering if that is genuinely true.
When Malcolm X left NOI in 1964, his understanding of power changed. This story by Richard Sanders Rosenthal illustrates his new attitude toward Jews:
In 1963 or 1964, I attended a meeting of the Young Socialists Club at Wayne State University in Detroit at which Malcolm spoke. He sat down following his speech, and then the moderator, who had a Jewish name, opened the meeting to questions from the audience.

The first person the moderator recognized for a question was a black man who didn't have a question at all. Instead he launched into an anti-Semitic diatribe.

Malcolm listened to it for an extended moment, then, when its tenor was unmistakable and it was clear the harangue would (be permitted to) continue, he rose from his chair on the stage and ambled to the lectern.

This is what Malcolm said to the best of my recollection - and I'm certain my memory of what he said is very close to his actual words and very likely exact: ''I suspect our moderator today is Jewish and I won't put him in the position of silencing you. So I will. Now shut up and sit down.''
In his last years, Malcolm denounced Elijah Muhammad's racism and said,
"...my dearest friends have come to include all kinds -- some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists—some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!"
After Malcolm and Martin Luther King were killed, their universalism and their anti-capitalism fell out of favor. In the '80s, Critical Race Theory was developed by Derrick Bell and his Ivy League students, including Kimberlé Crenshaw, who gave the idea of "intersectionality" to third wave feminism. The Critical Race Theorists promoted ideas such as "all white people are racist because they grew up in a racist society" and "racism equals prejudice plus power, and since black people don't have power, they can't be racist."

This willingness to accept a superficial understanding of power and racism may explain why Derrick Bell admired the Nation of Islam's current leader, Louis Farrakhan. In 1992, Bell said,
Smart and super articulate, Minister Farrakhan is perhaps the best living example of a black man ready, willing and able to ‘tell it like it is’ regarding who is responsible for racism in this country. 
Farrakhan's ability to "tell it like it is" was profoundly antisemitic—he was Elijah Muhammad's heir in all ways. The Anti-Defamation League's Farrakhan In His Own Words includes this:
During his keynote address to 18,000 people at the NOI's 2014 Saviours' Day convention at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Farrakhan likened himself to auto magnate Henry Ford, who promoted anti-Semitic conspiracies in the 1920s in The Inter­na­tional Jew: the World’s Fore­most Prob­lem. Far­rakhan called Ford “a great man who was called an anti-Semite” and added, “I feel like I’m in good company.” In Part 2 of his Saviours’ Day address at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Farrakhan received a standing ovation after telling his audience that “the Satanic Jews that control everything and mostly everybody, if they are your enemy, then you must be somebody.”
A few more examples of Farrakhan telling it like Derrick Bell thought it is "regarding who is responsible for racism in this country" from Louis Farrakhan | Southern Poverty Law Center:
"The Jews, a small handful, control the movement of this great nation, like a radar controls the movement of a great ship in the waters … the Jews got a stranglehold on the Congress."
— Louis Farrakhan, Saviour's Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 25, 1990

"And you do with me as is written, but remember that I have warned you that Allah will punish you. You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell. But I warn you in the name of Allah, you would be wise to leave me alone. But if you choose to crucify me, know that Allah will crucify you."
— Louis Farrakhan, Saviour's Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 25, 1996

"And the Christian right, with your blindness to that wicked state of Israel … can that be the holy land, and you have gay parades, and want to permit to have a gay parade in Jerusalem when no prophet ever sanctioned that behavior. How can that be the Israel, how can that be Jerusalem with secular people running the holy land when it should be the holy people running the holy land. That land is gonna be cleansed with blood!"
— Louis Farrakhan, Saviour's Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 26, 2006

"We can now present to our people and the world a true, undeniable record of the relationship between Blacks and Jews from their own mouths and pens. These scholars, Rabbis and historians [that Nation of Islam researchers studied] have given to us an undeniable record of Jewish anti-Black behavior, starting with the horror of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, plantation slavery, Jim Crow, sharecropping, the labor movement of the North and South, the unions and the misuse of our people that continues to this very moment."
— Letter sent by Louis Farrakahn to Jewish leaders and the Southern Poverty Law Center, June 24, 2010.

“Osama Bin Laden didn’t destroy the Twin Towers. that was a false flag operation to take the world’s attention away from the great disunity in America after George W. Bush stole the election.”
—Louis Farrakhan “The Final Call” March 15, 2016
Related: The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, Where Racism and Anti-Racism Intersect

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Intertwining of Islamism, Identitarianism, and Neoliberalism, and the Four Waves of Socialism

After writing Naming the four waves of fighting racism and sexism, I'm thinking a little more about the '80s and early '90s when it seemed capitalism had defeated socialism. Three developments took off then:

Islamism's first major triumph came when Reagan helped the mujahideen overthrow the socialist government of Afghanistan that had granted equal rights to women and promoted universal education. Bin Laden took what he learned with the mujahideen to create Al Qaeda and thereby established the dominant model for opposing western imperialism in the Middle East.

Neoliberalism took baby steps in the '70s under Carter, but its right wing, neoconservatism, flourished under Reagan. The New Democrats of the Democratic Party answered neoconservatism with neoliberalism, agreeing that taxes on the rich should continue to be lowered and public services should continue to be cut.

Identitarianism took off in the '80s with the writings of black Ivy League academics like Derrick Bell and the Critical Race Theory crowd who wanted to fight racism without criticizing capitalism like King and Malcolm X. Kimberle Crenshaw brought what she had learned from CRT into feminism under the rubric of intersectionality.

What united all three was the belief that socialism had failed. For Democrats, that meant moving to the right and helping to weaken the public sector. For Middle Eastern rebels, that meant embracing Islamism as the opposition to capitalism. And for left-identitarians, that meant explaining racism and sexism as forms of human weakness and adopting the Catholic concept of social justice in which the benevolent rich are expected to aid the penitent poor.

The resurgence of socialism has me wondering which socialist wave we're in. I'll tentatively propose these:

First wave socialism runs from Fourier to the Russian Revolution. Call it the age of Theoretical Socialism.

Second wave socialism runs up to China's economic reforms in the late '70s and the dissolution of the USSR in '91. Call it the age of Authoritarian Socialism.

Third wave socialism is the main current model. I'm tempted to call it Capitalist Socialism because it's a very capitalist-friendly version of socialism that has produced billionaires in China. Maybe it's Neoliberal Socialism.

But I see signs of a fourth wave. It may finally be the democratic socialism that Marx first imagined, and Eugene Debs and George Orwell promoted, and Bernie Sanders supports. I hope I live to see it.

Related: "Privilege" has been neoliberalized and "inequality" is next

Naming the four waves of fighting racism and sexism

It's easy to discuss the first three waves of feminism because the movement has had a single name since Charles Fourier coined the word in 1837. Feminists argue about whether there's a fourth wave of feminism—as you'll see below, I believe there is.

Opposing racism hasn't had one name. The first wave in the US was generally discussed as abolition or equal rights; the second, as civil rights, and the third, as antiracism. For convenience's sake, I will use "antiracism" to parallel "feminism", but remember it's ahistorical: the Oxford English Dictionary says the word first appeared in 1938, and it was almost never used before 1985, and it's less popular now than it was. Properly, it's the name of the third wave only.

1. Separate but equal.

First wave feminism and antiracism culminated in voting and property rights, but the law let the worlds of men and white people remain segregated. Employers could pay workers less because of their social identity, and businesses could treat customers worse.

2. Integration, or civil rights.

Second wave feminism and antiracism fought to end the impossible goal of "separate but equal" by ending unfair treatment in the work place, the market place, and schools.

3. Identitarianism, or social justice.

Third wave feminism and antiracism saw economic differences persist despite the victories of the first and second waves. Second-wave champions like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X blamed capitalism for that, but identitarians believed human nature was responsible. Much of their rhetoric, such as the idea that racism is America's original sin, came from churches, as did the religious concept of social justice.

4. Democratic socialism, or economic justice.

Democratic socialist feminists and antiracists see that social equality and economic equality cannot be separated, and that politicians' economic policies matter more than their social identity. The clash between the third and fourth waves is being played out now in the Democratic Party, as Clinton supporters from the third wave compete with Sanders supporters from the fourth. Clinton won the primary battle, and we won't know until the end of the month whether her supporters will win the battle for the leadership of the Democratic Party, but we know who will ultimately win: More young people voted for Bernie Sanders than Trump and Clinton combined — by a lot.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Puttin' People on the Moon—an alt-country take on Whitey on the Moon

Just got email pointing out Drive By Trucker's "Puttin' People on the Moon" is a white version of "Whitey on the Moon".


Lyrics

Mary Alice had a baby and he looked just like I did
We got married on a Monday and I been working ever since
Every week down at the Ford Plant but now they say they're shutting down
God damned Reagan in the White House and no one there gives a damn

Double Digit unemployment, TVA be shutting soon
While over there in Huntsville, They puttin' people on the moon

So I took to runnin' numbers for this man I used to know
And I sell a few narcotics and I sell a little blow
I ain't getting rich now but I'm gettin' more than by
It's really tough to make a living but a man just got to try

If I died in Colbert County, Would it make the evening news?
They too busy blowin' rockets, Puttin' people on the moon

Mary Alice quit askin' why I do the things I do
I ain't sayin' that she likes it, but what else I'm gonna do?
If I could solve the world's problems I'd probably start with hers and mine
But they can put a man on the moon
And I'm stuck in Muscle Shoals just barely scraping by

Mary Alice got cancer just like everybody here
Seems everyone I know is gettin' cancer every year
And we can't afford no insurance, I been 10 years unemployed
So she didn't get no chemo so our lives was destroyed
And nothin' ever changes, the cemetery gets more full
And now over there in Huntsville, even NASA's shut down too

Another Joker in the White House, said a change was comin' round
But I'm still workin' at The Wal Mart and Mary Alice, in the ground
And all them politicians, they all lyin' sacks of shit
They say better days upon us but I'm sucking left hind tit
And the preacher on the TV says it ain't too late for me
But I bet he drives a Cadillac and I'm broke with some hungry mouths to feed

I wish I'z still an outlaw, was a better way of life
I could clothe and feed my family still have time to love my pretty wife
And if you say I'm being punished. Ain't he got better things to do?
Turnin' mountains into oceans Puttin' people on the moon

Turnin' mountains into oceans Puttin' people on the moon

Written by Patterson Hood • Copyright © The Bicycle Music Company

Friday, February 3, 2017

How to tell someone's parroting what they read about King's Birmingham Jail letter

Some people—call them race reductionists or identitarians as you please—misuse Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail in three ways. None are supported by the text, but all are repeated countlessly in their community.

1

Some claim King was criticizing white moderates. That misses this part of the letter:
...Negroes in the middle class who, because of a degree of academic and economic security ... have unconsciously become insensitive to the problems of the masses.
Many black people today fall into that category. They fail to see that everything King did about race was grounded in class. His Dream speech was given at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. He was killed while supporting the Memphis Sanitation Strike. When he was killed, he was planning a Poor People's Campaign to demand an end to poverty. In support of his preferred solution, Basic Income, he said,
In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.
2

Some claim King excused violence. In Don’t criticize Black Lives Matter for provoking violence. The civil rights movement did, too, Simone Sebastian* cites the Birmingham Letter and fails to see the difference between facing violence and instigating it. In that letter, King talks repeatedly about the importance of nonviolent resistance. He talks about the preparation:
We started having workshops on nonviolence and repeatedly asked ourselves the questions, "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" and "Are you able to endure the ordeals of jail?"
He talks about the purpose of nonviolence:
...we must see the need of having nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men to rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood. So, the purpose of direct action is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation.
He never excuses violence. He only points out that it's a natural consequence of oppression:
If [the Negro's] repressed emotions do not come out in these nonviolent ways, they will come out in ominous expressions of violence. This is not a threat; it is a fact of history. So I have not said to my people, "Get rid of your discontent." But I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled through the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action.
3

 Some claim King rejected "tone-policing", the idea that speakers should be civil. But the letter is a model of civility. In the first paragraph, he tells his critics,
...since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth...
That sets the style for the entire letter: it is simultaneously forceful and respectful. In it, King makes his attitude clear:
...the question is not whether we will be extremist, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate, or will we be extremists for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or will we be extremists for the cause of justice?
An extremist for love and justice has to treat everyone with love while demanding justice.

* Simone Sebastian manages to misrepresent both King and Malcolm X, who she alludes to when she mentions "the by-any-means-necessary grit of the people who ultimately made American lives better". Malcolm said, "We want freedom by any means necessary. We want justice by any means necessary. We want equality by any means necessary." But he gave a context: "Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery." Because the second half of that is such strong support for self-defense, many people miss his advice on how to behave around people who have not put a hand on you.

Whitey on the Moon (Things identitarians miss)



"Whitey on the Moon" is a great song that's often mentioned when talking about race in the '60s.

But the verses could have been sung by a poor white cracker. The use of "Whitey" makes people assume the song is about race, but it's not about a middle-class black person's life. "Whitey" is just a personification of the rich as seen by a poor black in the city—if a white sang the same song, that word might be changed, but not one other word would be.
Whitey on the Moon:

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)

I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)

The man jus' upped my rent las' night.
('cause Whitey's on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey's on the moon)

I wonder why he's uppi' me?
('cause Whitey's on the moon?)
I was already payin' 'im fifty a week.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Taxes takin' my whole damn check,
Junkies makin' me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is goin' up,
An' as if all that shit wasn't enough

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face an' arm began to swell.
(but Whitey's on the moon)

Was all that money I made las' year
(for Whitey on the moon?)
How come there ain't no money here?
(Hm! Whitey's on the moon)
Y'know I jus' 'bout had my fill
(of Whitey on the moon)
I think I'll sen' these doctor bills,
Airmail special
(to Whitey on the moon)

Written by Gil Scott-Heron • Copyright © Carlin America Inc
ETA: Whitey on Mars: Is a mission to Mars morally defensible given today’s real needs? | Aeon Essays