It would go a long, long way to bridging the red-blue divide to drop the "evil, fascist, worst people ever" rhetoric (from both sides) and instead recognize it as a form of diversity, and that different backgrounds shape different people's beliefs. Furthermore that someone can disagree with you and be flat-out wrong with out it being an entire moral failing or a sign they are pure evil.

Civility is lost in many circles right now.

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Many political disagreements reflect substantive disputes about who gets what, and about who gets to do what to whom, and you can't paper over material disagreements by nagging people about civility and tone-policing them about calling each other evil.

An example. Some people (overwhelmingly "red") insist that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump and think that the January 6 lynch mob was a basically justified response to that alleged theft. Some people (overwhelmingly "blue") insist that the 2020 election was not stolen from Trump and that the January 6 lynch mob was a patently criminal outrage. That is a serious disagreement about both facts and values, and you cannot cuddle it away with a civility-fest about how the disagreement is merely "a form of diversity" originating from people's different backgrounds.

People feel the red-blue divide keenly because it correlates significantly with important political disputes. The uncivil, heated rhetoric that bothers you is more an effect than a cause.

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022

"Tone-policing"? Does that include the demand for language recognizing a "female" prostate or pregnant "men"? The January 6 insurrectionists are not the only people seeking to impose their (dubious) values and (questionable) "facts" on others. (FWIW, I'm a gay male -- not "LGBTQ.")

When George Floyd was murdered, there was a groundswell of empathy. People of all colors and ethnicities were appalled by the atrocity -- until they were told that they were "complicit," and that they needed to submit their lifelong aspirations to a "reckoning."

Maybe we should stop centering putative "identities" and grievances on all sides. Lay off the name-calling! That's not about "tone-policing"; it's about individuals willing to live-and-let-live.

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No, in my view "the demand for language recognizing a 'female' prostate or pregnant 'men'" is a demand for correct nomenclature. Demands for accuracy are not mere tone-policing. Telling people to "Lay off the name-calling!", however, does sound a lot like tone-policing to me.

I think plenty of people "of all colors and ethnicities" remain appalled by George Floyd's murder. And inasmuch as they stopped being appalled, I'd say that was because protesters demanded meaningful action in response (always discomforting!). I don't see that it was because protesters hurt their feelings by calling them "complicit" and the media used the word "reckoning" a bunch.

Taking a wider view, your reply seems to miss my point. TJG wrote that fixing our tone and rhetoric would "go a long, long way to bridging the red-blue divide". I say that that's wrong because the divide is substantially about policy, not rhetoric alone. You...it's not actually clear whether you side with me or TJG or somewhere in between. You don't like the transgendereds and the BLMs, understood — but am I not correct that your beef with them goes deeper than how they address you?

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Oct 3, 2022·edited Oct 3, 2022

"Lay off the name-calling!" sounds a lot like tone-policing?

What part of "ad hominem" don't you understand?

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You didn't answer my question but that's fine, I'll still answer your questions: it does, in the context in which you wrote it; and no part.

In fact, I understand that "name-calling" as used in political discourse has a broader meaning than the Latinate jargon "ad hominem" — the latter specifically refers to attacks on arguers that substitute for attacks on arguments, whereas "name-calling" often includes attacks on arguments if they sound mean to the arguer.

No, really. If I Google the words "liberal name-calling" the first hit is to a City Journal article (https://www.city-journal.org/html/illiberal-liberalism-11983.html) that starts by whining about left/liberal "name-calling" like using "invective to dismiss conservative beliefs as if they don't deserve an argument and to redefine mainstream conservative arguments as extremism and bigotry" — note "beliefs" and "arguments". The third hit is to a GQ article, "Why Conservatives Get So Worked Up Over Name Calling", that opens by citing Peter Beinart demanding that liberals resist "the temptation to deploy the label bigoted, or one of its synonyms, when describing an idea they consider stupid or immoral" — note "idea". Another hit is to the Quora question "Why are liberals so harsh and resort to childish name calling when they encounter differing political opinions?" — note "opinions".

These examples illustrate how "name-calling" is sometimes used as a form of tone-policing; these are not objections to ad hominem fallacies, these are objections to being mean about BELIEFS.

As to your specific comment, your "Lay off the name-calling!" demand came right after your modest proposal to stop centering "grievances on all sides" — rather suggesting that, like the examples from other people I just cited, you were including concrete political grievances under the umbrella of "name-calling".

So, yes, your "Lay off the name-calling!" sounded, and sounds, a lot like tone-policing. Hope I've clarified why.

If, for your part, you want to clarify that you just meant that people should lay off ad hominem attacks — and that you weren't objecting to people characterizing arguments and beliefs and policies and values as "evil" or "racist" or "transphobic" or whatever — you're free to make that clarification, and then I'll acknowledge that my reading of you was mistaken, reasonable though it was.

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Oct 3, 2022·edited Oct 4, 2022

Fair enough -- as long as you avoid calling me "transphobic" -- claiming you're merely making an argument yourself, while in fact you're resorting to an epithet and invoking it as a form of character assassination.

Meanwhile, my response (to your claim of "correct nomenclature") is that it's your opinion, but that merely labeling anyone who disagrees -- or, yes, any countervailing opinion -- as "transphobic" (and simply declaring your own opinion to be "correct") -- is not an argument worthy of respect.

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>and you cannot cuddle it away with a civility-fest about how the disagreement is merely "a form of diversity" originating from people's different backgrounds.

This is cute, but I have more politically in common with Americans liberals than I do with the average muslim globally. And yet, Islam is treated as the latter type of diversity, which means your claims are simply special pleading (unless you acknowledge that Islam is as much a political ideology as any other and therefore rightfully subject to political opposition).

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I don't see the relevance of your first sentence (despite your "And yet" link). As for "Islam is treated as the latter type of diversity" — it's hard to argue with a vague passive-voice claim like that, since I'm sure there's at least one person in all of America who treats Islam as "merely 'a form of diversity' originating from people's different backgrounds".

But American state power sure doesn't treat Islam as just that! The Pentagon just spent two decades fighting Muslims in Muslim-majority countries. The NYPD spent years surveiling Muslims, including by sending informants into mosques and businesses and student groups. States pass anti-sharia laws.

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Oct 1, 2022·edited Oct 3, 2022

Interesting piece, but I'm an old-style "Pat Brown" liberal (an unrepentant Boomer), and I'm not buying the revisions.

Urbanism? Noah, you said it yourself: Americans keep moving to the ‘burbs and foreigners keep moving to America. The best mom-and-pop eateries are in strip malls. Ever been to Houston's (fully suburban) Chinatown? (See Joel Kotkin.) Put everyone in the driver's seat, and electrify the cars.

That "driver's seat" is also a metaphor for how we approach our lives.

Diversity? Self-expression? As a gay male, I've seen a movement focused on personal freedom morph into an obsession with fetishizing marginality -- while I've fought all my adult life to advance a recognition that there's nothing "queer" about same-sex attraction. One of the proudest moments of my life involved a boyfriend being invited to my family's Passover Seder. I’m attracted to guys; I’ve never hidden that fact, and I’m proud simply to be myself.

"LGBTQIA+"? Spare me the demands that we acknowledge the Emperor's "gendered" new clothes. (Drag was always about ridiculing and repudiating the very legitimacy of "gender identity" -- not "affirming" it.) I never signed up to "smash cisheteropatriarchy" in the name of some Brave New World.

Speaking of Brave New World... All the synthetic fluff of K-Pop will never hold a candle to Bob Dylan's "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall."

We're all exiles on Main Street. Every individual is a unique (and uniquely profound) intersection of identities -- but as we pick each other to pieces over "identity" and "privilege," the oligarchs keep laughing all the way to the bank. That's the real challenge at the heart of the liberal/democratic vision.

In the driver's seat, we can read a map. We don't need a map that reads us.

I recommend a long session with Isaiah Berlin -- with a side-glance at Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle." I think we already have enough of a vision to work with, without the (vaguely transhumanist) revisions -- without the incessantly promoted Civil War between the bigoted bullies and the woke scolds -- if only we can truly "live and let live," with faith rooted in ourselves.

Given all that, how do we make the economics work? That's Noah's department! ;-)

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That's a fine demonstration of how This Far, But No Further liberalism curdles into the conservatism of standing athwart history yelling Stop.

I'll be disjointed too. There's no bright line separating your gay rights ("focused on personal freedom") from the transgender and intersex rights at which I'm pretty sure you're casting your shade ("obsession with fetishizing marginality", "Brave New World", "vaguely transhumanist"). I'd also note that one could sneer at the Passover Seder ritual as "fetishizing marginality" with no less charity than your sneer at the Wrong Kind Of Queer opposing their oppression.

You recognize that oligarchs laugh "all the way to the bank" while we "pick each other to pieces" over identity, so why do you participate in the picking?

The way to beat the oligarchs' divide-and-conquer strategy is to stand shoulder to shoulder in unity and solidarity with working-class transgender Americans, working-class intersex Americans, and working-class Korean Americans, not just working-class Chinese Americans, working-class gay Americans, and working-class Jewish Americans. To paraphrase your man Sir Berlin, the minimum freedom that the former need today, and the greater degree of freedom they may need tomorrow, is not some species of freedom peculiar to them, but identical with that of working-class gay Chinese Jews.

Similarly, your dichotomy between "the bigoted bullies and the scolding snobs" is bogus. Plenty of Mitt Romney Republican country-club snobs are content to share a party and political power with the bigoted bullies menacing Drag Queen Story Hours and schoolteachers and antifascist protests.

As for food and literature and music: I don't consider myself a connoisseur of mom-and-pop eateries, but I don't see why a medium-high-density Noah Town couldn't nucleate around your Houston Chinatown; Brave New World is not a compelling dystopian vision (http://adamcadre.ac/calendar/14/14432.html); and I don't see why "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" is musically superior to, say, Loona Odd Eye Circle's "Loonatic" — even if "Loonatic" has some fluffy synthesizer.

If you were born 30 years earlier, you'd be the guy who screamed "Judas!" at Dylan for plugging in his guitar.

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Oct 3, 2022·edited Oct 5, 2022

“This far, but no further”?

You’ve tried to frame my style of liberalism as anachronism (even equating me with William F. Buckley!), but I regard the current resurgence of race and “gender identity” as itself a step backward. I'm not saying, "This far and no further": I'm saying you've got the vector (and criteria) wrong.

You seem to have missed (or deliberately elided) the centrality of my “driver’s seat” metaphor.

I see self-determination as an individual attribute, not a function of any collective identity — though I don’t regard ego or ownership as the fulcrum of the Self (itself a form of totalitarianism -- hence, my opposition to oligarchy, a concentration of power). As I wrote, we’re ALL exiles on Main Street. Yes, ALL lives matter (including George Floyd's) — and THAT’s where empathy starts.

The "working class"? Here, again, my opposition is to oligarchy, and to the disappearance of a robust middle class. I once confided to a leftist friend, “You might consider me a petty-bourgeois sentimentalist.” “Yeah, I guess I would,” he replied” — to which I responded, “I preferred when you called me a romantic.”

IMO, the left’s contempt for (and dismissal of) the strivings of the so-called “petty-bourgeoisie” seems designed to drive the latter toward fascism (leaving the left to gloat: “Told you so!”). Immigrants, like my neighbors here in Oakland Chinatown. Anyone who's struggled merely to escape the "working class." Mom and pop — the same mom and pop that invited my boyfriend to the Seder. (OTOH, I never demanded or expected a special "queer" fruit on the Seder plate.)

And this isn’t about “whiteness or “assimilation.” When I say, “I’m proud simply to be myself,” that’s about WHO I am; it’s not about WHAT (race, gender, etc.) I am.

So much for the condescending folks who brought us “LGBTQIA+,” “AAPI,” “BIPOC,” and “Latinx” (a word that exists only in the Berkeley dialect of Spanish).

The most significant advance in "gay rights" during my lifetime has been Lawrence v Texas -- the abolition of sodomy laws. Like the abolition of actual Jim Crow laws, this was about the elimination of an impediment to personal freedom -- the end of criminalization (i.e., it represents the equivalent of a "color-blind" approach to race).

Trying to pick people apart? “The wrong kind of queer”? I’m not trying to impress the judges in the Oppression Olympics; I don’t consider myself forever beholden to them, and I’m certainly not looking to become one myself. That's never been my game.

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I want to pick up the class angle also. You take seriously the idea of being middle class but not the idea of being working class (you won't even write "working class" without using quotation marks). That's backwards.

I have to get Marxian on you about this: the working class is a reasonably coherent concept defined by how someone relates to capital. Basically, do you get paid to work someone else's capital, or do you pay others to work your capital? The notion of the "middle class" is a jumbled mess by comparison, basically serving as an applause light for people who make enough money to signal respectability (but not too much, however that's defined) and adopt whatever culture mores one finds agreeable (like entrepreneurial moxie, listening to pre-electric Bob Dylan, and not eating the matzot all at once at the Seder). It's not class in a robust sense, but a mishmash that incorporates cultural signifiers.

Returning to me, my program for defending the working class is also reasonably coherent: it's the socialist program. Radically distribute ownership of capital (or, in extremis, end that specific property right entirely), to bump society into a new equilibrium where everyone has a realistic shot at meaningful economic and political power. You, by contrast, limit yourself to opposing "oligarchy" (you do also write about opposing "the disappearance of a robust middle class" — but then in your next paragraph reveal that it still exists, since left-wingers risk antagonizing it towards fascism). And your political program for opposing oligarchy is...well, at best it's not clear.

Brushing off trans and BLM activists, I guess, in case they make small business owners go fascist. Bobson's already addressed that last notion. So I'll summarize. I don't think you have a strong conceptual grip on class politics or antifascist politics, nor much of a political program. I recognize the working class as the political base for a better country and better world, emphatically including the transgender (and black and Korean und so weiter) parts of it, and look forward to winning more freedom for all of it. You have nostalgia for pre-Obama civil-rights wins, and some grievances about abbreviations and the past 20 years of civil-rights campaigns. It is lovely that you can take a boyfriend to a bijou Chinatown restaurant en route to your parents' Seder. I nonetheless think the field of American freedom can extend further still.

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FWIW, my program for opposing oligarchy is social democracy, along the lines of the Nordic model -- which is not socialism. It involves keeping capitalism in check without necessarily abolishing it. The fact that the middle class is a mishmash is part of the point. We view the world through a different lens -- much as you might continue to insist that what you see (via "class analysis") is Correct.

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A social democracy, if you can keep it. We have quite a bit of empirical evidence (is there any social democracy that hasn't backslid toward neoliberalism over the past 50 years?) and theoretical reason for expecting social democracy's checks on capitalism to erode over time. The word "equilibrium" in my comment is significant!

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Oct 15, 2022·edited Oct 16, 2022

"Equilibrium"? I'm entirely amenable toward holding the line on social-democratic reforms, and expanding them (in this country, toward something resembling the traditional Nordic model). OTOH, more thoroughgoing attempts at collectivism are notoriously (and inherently!) prone to their own forms of (authoritarian) "backsliding." The power of such systems must be kept in check, as must the power of capital.

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>"IMO, the left’s contempt for (and dismissal of) the strivings of the so-called “petty-bourgeoisie” seems designed to drive the latter toward fascism"

I'm pushing back on this.

The petty bourgeoisie become fascists because they have agency.

A few years ago there was a Twitter exchange between Jane Coaston and Bari Weiss; Coaston was then with Vox (now with New York Times) and Weiss was then with the Times (now with the dark Substack web). Search for the words "amoral pudding", but the fascinating parts come before the phrase (Coaston: "Amoral pudding is who you are when your reasonings behind not great decisions are all based on your feelings being hurt.").

Weiss was arguing that people were becoming alt-right as a reaction against leftwing scolding. Coaston was arguing that no, people were becoming alt-right because on some level they identify with the alt-right worldview and their values happen to align, along with the opportunity afforded by time and space.

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Oct 4, 2022·edited Oct 5, 2022

Are you (Bobson) identifying my viewpoint as "alt-right" (or even as complicit)? I'd consider that a smear.

So, with whom do my worldview and values happen to align? FWIW, I voted twice for Obama, enthusiastically ("No black America, no white America"), and in 2016 (as a California write-in) for Bernie Sanders. (My favorite politician currently is John Fetterman -- along with Jared Polis and Sherrod Brown.)

"Hurt feelings"? Do you expect deference to "trans" people (who threaten suicide over "hurt feelings") -- and to "identities" on the Laundry List of Certified Oppressions® -- while deprecating the "hurt feelings" of others (whose claims and self-definitions as individuals are at lest equally understandable and reasonable, in ways I've [briefly] explained)?

Your response exemplifies the very problem I referenced. Other than the pretext for a self-righteous "Told you so!" (and, next, perhaps, for rounding up any disaffected dissidents), what result do you expect?

You, too, have agency. Don't you see where this leads?

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No, I am not characterizing your viewpoint as alt-right at all.

The Coaston-Weiss "amoral pudding" exchange I referred to the hazards of casting blame upon someone else for the failure of a person's agency to restrain from extreme responses to slights.

I'm not engaging with the "Hurt feelings?" paragraph because nothing after it was anything I said or advocated. There are plenty others out there who have that position; take up that argument with them.

I do see where this leads. "Other than the pretext for a self-righteous "Told you so!" (and, next, perhaps, for rounding up any disaffected dissidents) what do you expect?" pretty much proves Coaston's "amoral pudding" point.

Decrying self-righteousness is not an alibi toward bad conduct. "Look what you made me do!" is not an alibi. "Boys will be boys" is not an alibi.

People, intentionally or unintentionally, hurt other people as a cruel fact of life. I've done it. I've been on the receiving end of it. Life might have been pretty hard for you.

The response does matter. If you're a leftie and people keep calling you a communist, do you renounce your American citizenship and take up arms for China, Cuba, North Korea, et al? I'm guessing no. If you did, your behavior would rightly be seen as rash and disturbing.

It's even worse if you're being attacked for your identity, because it's much harder to keep composure because who you are makes you a target. If the threat is physical violence, even a proportional response is bound to be a crime and you'd have to plead for the court's sympathy for self-defense.

There's a concept in psychology called ideation-to-action. It was developed for suicidal cases, but an FBI psychologist found the framework useful to describe identical behaviors in people who direct harm outward (e.g., mass shooters, murderers and suicide bombers). The action phase (suicide and/or killing) is the culmination of a long period of thinking about the action. The thinking phase is in response to some personal torment, and then the thinking phase moves into a justification phase where the course of action is to harm themself or others but also to test responses from others before carrying out the action.

So, hurt feelings might be a trigger for action, but the ideation to commit harm goes further back. The ethical concern is, is it right or wrong to retaliate against hurt feelings? In what proportion? And you can like or hate wokeness, but it also forces another dimension: Which groups can or cannot retaliate?

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Oct 5, 2022·edited Oct 5, 2022

Interesting reply! I need to mull it over; not sure about my overall response. Might have more to say after Yom Kippur.

Meanwhile, we're talking about people as they are -- actual outcomes in the real world.

Re: "If you're a leftie and people keep calling you a communist, do you renounce your American citizenship and take up arms for China, Cuba, North Korea, et al?"

All I can say for now is that for every Angela Davis, there's a Barack Obama -- and for every Paul Robeson, there's a Ray Charles.

And to the incel unable to get laid, I'd say, "Who needs women, anyway? I'll get you off!" Boys will be boys!

When the "woke" left seeks (on principle) to take the individual out of the driver's seat, more than "hurt feelings" are involved. It's classic Americana, and it needs to be addressed on its own terms:

"All right, then, I'll go to hell! But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before."

This is not only about the petty bourgeoisie. In the end, it's not even about race or gender. It's about offering people a galvanizing vision other than fascism -- something other than the woke scolds and their formulary for a Brave New World. It might look something like this:


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I don't doubt your sincerity when you say that the driver's-seat metaphor is central to what you're saying. It fits with your rhetorical emphasis on individualism, everyone's profound uniqueness, "we're ALL exiles on Main Street", self-determination — and your references to personal freedom.

And I love personal freedom! My rebuttal here is actually that you're not going far enough and don't have the courage of your convictions! Your commitment to individual freedom is TOO rhetorical — too shallow, inadequate, inconsistent.

The trans-rights movement you're side-eyeing is a movement demanding personal freedom and self-determination. Trans people want the right to determine the courses of their lives: to get jobs, to rent like anyone else, to get hormones and puberty blockers, to use whatever name they want, to cross borders, to not be raped in prison, to play sports without having their genitals and genes put under the microscope, to use the bathroom without harassment, to walk down the street with condoms in their wallet without cops ticketing them for soliciting, and, yes, to take someone to bed for buttsex without legal sanction or the risk of being murdered (and the risk of their murderer getting off by citing a panic defense). If your priority is personal freedom you should be all over this!

The Black Lives Matter movement is likewise a pro-freedom movement that stands most obviously against cops curtailing freedom. You can respond by insisting simply that "ALL lives matter" with a parenthetical nod to Mr. Floyd, but the fact remains that "ALL lives matter" has utterly failed as a rallying cry against police brutality. There was no deep reason why the George Floyd protests couldn't have been sparked by cops killing a white guy; most Americans shot dead by cops are white (https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/fatal-police-shootings-of-unarmed-black-people-in-us-more-than-3-times-as-high-as-in-whites/). And yet America hasn't been roused by police killings of whites like those of Daniel Shaver — almost as if much of America, mostly white America, intuits and accepts that the occasional (working-class) white killed by cops is just the cost of doing business. "Black Lives Matter" is what we're left to work with.

So I continue to think that your key distinction between supposed marginality-obsessed movements like the pro-trans and BLM movements, and freedom-deepening movements like gay lib and the 1960s civil-rights movement, is spurious. I find it to be special pleading. THAT is why I accuse you of participating in oligarch-aligned picking apart, and of writing off the Wrong Kind Of Queer. It sure looks to me like you are trying to impress Oppression Olympics judges when you write as if Jim Crow laws and sodomy laws were real impediments to freedom, but pass over anti-trans laws and the mysterious cop penchant to have BIPOC (yes, indigenous people too — suck up the acronym and deal with it) shot or choked or rough-ridden or burned or frozen or drugged to death.

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Oct 9, 2022·edited Oct 13, 2022

As I wrote, I regard the current resurgence of race and “gender identity” as a step backward -- no special pleading involved (and no special pleading necessary).

FWIW, I'm opposed to ALL "bathroom bills," whether pro- or anti-"trans." Anyone ought to be able to use a bathroom, without making a life-or-death issue (or a legal matter) of the sign on the door. OTOH, I see no value in guaranteeing someone with a vagina access to a urinal, especially when there are private stalls. By all means, take the driver's seat -- but don't demand the "right" to claim you're driving a Chevy when you're driving a Ford.

Self-expression? As I also wrote, drag was always about ridiculing and repudiating the very legitimacy of "gender identity" -- not "affirming" it. A crucial aspect of self-acceptance for a gay male involves recognizing that ostensibly "feminine" feelings can be perfectly consistent with respect for one's (male) body. Everybody is a unique composite of "gendered" attributes. "Gender identity" is a category error. As Marsha Johnson would say, "Pay it no mind."

OTOH, a brain/body mismatch -- due to a hormonal or neurological anomaly (potentially in need of medical intervention) -- is a disability. Needless to say, people with this condition are entitled to the same compassion and decent treatment as anyone with a disability. That's a far cry from redefining "male" and "female" on their behalf.

All this has nothing to do with (a self-marginalizing notion of) "queer."

And I obviously take a parallel ("color-blind") approach to race. (As I wrote, "When George Floyd was murdered, there was a groundswell of empathy. People of all colors and ethnicities were appalled by the atrocity -- until they were told that they were 'complicit,' and that they needed to submit their lifelong aspirations to a 'reckoning'.") If America hasn't been roused by police killings of whites like those of Daniel Shaver, it should be -- and if it hasn't, perhaps that's because there hasn't been a cadre of "activists" itching to exploit it as a matter of race. Both sides can play that game. God help us if it comes to that -- and at the rate we're going, it very well might.

The distinction here isn't between who's "in" and who's "out.” It's between a political scramble for "positive freedom” (or endorsement-by-identity) and "negative freedom” (the abolition of constraints on one's personal life).

No, I’m not trying to impress the judges in the Oppression Olympics; I don’t consider myself forever beholden to them, and (unlike "Splainer") I’m certainly not looking to be one myself. If the power of capital needs to be kept in check, the power of such would-be arbiters must be kept in check, too. This isn't what liberalism "curdles into"; it's what liberalism has always been about.

I don't "pull the ladder up behind me" unless someone (especially a self-appointed Agent of The Oppressed) is clutching at my heels, trying to drag me down.

I don't lack the courage of my convictions. Like it or not, this is who I am.

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I too yam what I yam, and who I am is an argumentative lover of both freedom and rigor. So here I go again!

I'll zero in on what I read as your core point there: that the distinction you're relying on isn't between "in" people and "out" people, but between those demanding "positive freedom" and those demanding "negative freedom". If I've read you correctly, then you've just moved the goalpost.

You pointedly wrote earlier that I "seem[ed] to have missed (or deliberately elided)" your allegedly central driver's seat metaphor, which was about drawing a distinction between pro-freedom movements and movements that allegedly focus on fetishizing marginality. I then picked up that allegedly central metaphor, pointing out that you erroneously characterized some of the former movements as the latter. Now you write that your distinction isn't pro-freedom v. fetishistic, but pro-negative freedom v. pro-positive freedom.

That may be a subtle enough difference to elude you but it's a significant change; it majorly curtails which demands for freedom count as legitimate, and in my view it'd render your support of civil rights inadequate. (Even Berlin conceded, however grudgingly, that some positive freedom ought to be on the agenda.) For example, laws banning employment and housing discrimination against gay/transgender/Chinese/Korean/Jewish/etc. people would be ruled out because they would make positive-freedom demands of employers and landlords.

Perhaps that's the political bedrock of our disagreement here. Your other points seem less fundamental to me, so taking some of them as a lightning round:

• the bit about drag is just personal grievance;

• most trans-rights advocates, as far as I know, don't dispute that "ostensibly 'feminine' feelings can be perfectly consistent with respect for one's (male) body";

• even if we redefine trans identity as "a disability" instead of simple identity, I don't see why that should affect policy or policy demands much, as it simply renders transphobia a kind of ableism, and ableism warrants combating like transphobia;

• I'm skeptical of blaming underreaction to (e.g.) Shaver's killing on the lack of "a cadre of 'activists' itching to exploit it as a matter of race" since most George Floyd protesters, as a matter of sheer numbers, weren't from some narrow "cadre of 'activists'" — and polling confirms that everyday whites are just more sanguine about policing than everyday blacks (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/05/29/heres-why-we-dont-see-protests-when-police-unjustly-kill-white-people/);

• my biggest, loudest point here has been that policy demands from different types of marginalized people are equally worthy of serious consideration, whether they come from gay men, trans people, BLM, Chinese people, and so on — that is the OPPOSITE of an Oppression Olympics.

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Oct 15, 2022·edited Oct 17, 2022

I haven't moved the goalposts. I wrote that my distinction is pro-freedom v. "fetishizing marginalization." That's no different from viewing the distinction as pro-negative freedom v. pro-positive freedom. In either instance, it's between a political scramble for endorsement-by-identity (based on victimology), vs the abolition of constraints on one's personal life. Even where the policy outcomes might be similar, we approach them via different paradigms.

As I put it elsewhere, I view self-determination as an individual attribute, not a function of any collective identity. Yes, ALL lives matter (including George Floyd's) — and (despite unceasing efforts to manipulate the outcry into a "racial reckoning") THAT’s where empathy starts.

In your view (as a judge or arbiter in the Oppression Olympics), my support of civil rights might appear "inadequate." That's just too bad. "Marginalized" or not, I'm not beholden to you for my self-respect.

PS: I have no "grievance" with drag; I celebrate it as a means of repudiating (or ridiculing and transcending) the very notion of "gender identity" (in contradistinction to "affirming" it). And I've already noted that those with a brain/body mismatch -- due to a hormonal or neurological anomaly (potentially in need of medical intervention) -- are simply entitled to the same compassion and decent treatment as any individual with a disability. Got a problem with that?

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So effectively you argue for a slippery slope to justify going further? I'll bet you were the one arguing slippery slope arguments are stupid before Obergefell vs Hodges.

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Well, which slippery slope are you talking about? Like Mitchell, I covered a lot of ground in my comment. Are you alluding to a slippery slope of gay rights? Of transgender rights? Of intersex rights? Of Jewish emancipation? Of taking oligarchs' wealth? Of opposing anti-Korean racism? Of opposing anti-Chinese racism? Of defending freedom?

Best of luck trying to catch me in hypocrisy about slippery-slope arguments. I'm well aware that slippery-slope arguments can be valid depending on whether their premises are satisfied, and I've explicitly made a slippery-slope argument before in my writing (https://splained.substack.com/p/a-no-fly-zone-is-waging-war). Maybe if you'd laid out an actual slippery-slope argument you'd have successfully baited me into going "AHA! Slippery-slope argument! FALLACY! Slippery slopes are never real! You lose AUTOMATICALLY!" — but you didn't bother, so you lost that opportunity to bust me.

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Basically you're hypocritical and when called on it you dove tail into adhominem attacks. Read what you said.

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If you had evidence of that you'd have quoted it by now.

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You first three sentences indicate you think Mitchell is wrong to say this far but no further. You argue that we should go further but if Mitchell cannot say, "this far but no further" then who are you to say, "this far but no further". Their is a group of people arguing for normalizing pedophilia and so in effect your argument is for pedophilia or it is, "this far but no further".

So to simplify, you are either a moral monster or a hypocrite. I was being charitable by calling you a hypocrite not a groomer.

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Interesting observation! What, then, inspired K-Pop? Watching old "Pepsi Generation" commercials? ;-)

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I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony...


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Oct 1, 2022·edited Oct 1, 2022

Once upon a time, of course, there was "Ramma-lamma-ding-dong" -- but at least that wasn't merely a celebration of product placement.

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Noah's point about BTS was that they represent a kind of freedom and liberation that young people in closed-off societies like China yearn for. That's their power and their greatness. Someone like Dylan, no matter his greatness (one can debate that), would be meaningless for these youth.

Same reason Soviet youth dreamed about blue jeans and rock and roll, and not for reading the essays of Lionel Trilling.

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Oct 5, 2022·edited Oct 5, 2022

IMO, that approach cheapens (or trivializes) the concept of "freedom and liberation." Soviet youth eventually got their blue jeans, and where has that left them? Young people in closed-off societies like China celebrating the Pepsi Generation make for a macabre parody of such yearnings.

One needn't read Lionel Trilling to recognize that. A glance at Allen Ginsberg might help. Mad Magazine or The Onion (or even Zap Comix) would suffice.

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As a Chinese person living in America for 11 years, I really think the power of American pop culture is vastly overrated. Its net benefit to American power is negative.

My observation is that, at least in China, the fondness of American pop culture is POSITIVELY correlated to toxic nationalism. Almost all my "pinky" friends love Marvel, whatever band in America whose name I fail to remember after living in America for 11 years, NBA, and even Christmas, more than I do. In my opinion America is just too free and too rich to have a real culture [Only countries east of the Berlin Wall have any real culture to speak of, the "culture" in the West is in general just a sex party in a college dorm. You can't produce anything meaningful without some form of oppression and constraint] , yet I love America much more than the average Marvel fan in China..

I can't really explain why it is the case. But one reason I can come up with is the absolute wokeness of the American cultural elite, which somehow resonates with the Chinese ideology of seeing itself as the savior the the Third World, the brown people of the world, that of course includes the 1.4 billion population of its own?

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It's fun to joke about how America doesn't have a real culture, but if we're being serious America (and European countries west of the Berlin Wall) in fact has culture. Everywhere does! Even if we decide the sexual aspects of culture don't count.

Hollywood movies make hundreds of millions of dollars a year in China (https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/movies/movie-news/china-box-office-loses-top-spot-1235175449/) — they may not influence the explicit politics of Chinese people in China (especially as Hollywood increasingly censors movies for that market) but they're still cultural artifacts that travel across cultures with evident success. Indeed, to complain about Americans' "absolute wokeness" resonating with people on another continent is to highlight another facet of US culture!

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>the "culture" in the West is in general just a sex party in a college dorm.

Gonna have to explain this to all us Westerners who've never had sex parties in college dorms.

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And explain it slowly in a low voice, please.

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With barry manilow in the background...

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Does anyone else remember how James Cameron's Avatar was received in China?

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I agree that diversity is going to have to be a part of the vision that liberal democracy sells to the world. I think almost every society that has been successful in history has, in some sense, been diverse. The Roman Empire was polyglot. The Han Chinese united a bunch of distinct kingdoms. Racial purity is a fiction; it's just what qualifies as a "race" that changes.

At the same time, racial essentialism has been embraced by elements of both the right and the left in the US in recent years. Just as many right-wingers seem to believe that non-white immigrants will pollute the US with their evil inferior culture, many left-wingers seem to believe that there is something about white people that is inherently evil or morally deficient. I'm optimistic that both of these notions can be defeated or fade way, because most Americans (hell, most people) do not believe either of them, but I think liberal democracy really needs to embrace a unifying vision that encompasses our differences but allows for a sense of a humane commons, a collective good. We've done it before, we can do it again. It just needs to be redefined for a new era.

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Okay, and what if genetic differences explain racial outcome differences? Do we just tolerate these outcome differences? Or do you punish one group to enrich the other?

It's all well and good to think that genetics doesn't explain these differences, but you HAVE to accept the possibility that your model of reality is incorrect and therefore consider how robust your beliefs would be in the face of this.

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I'm....not sure what you are getting at.

I would argue that immigrants to the US generally have good outcomes. Immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native born Americans and have lower rates of social dysfunction. I think immigrants as a group are poorer, but this depends on the group and they tend to get wealthier over time (and *someone* has to be poorer than average).

I would also argue that causes and effects are multivariate. Saying "genetics cause x" as though that is a straightforward proposition is just as ridiculous as saying "culture causes y." Genetics, culture, economics, politics, and individual personalities intersect in complicated ways that we only dimly understand.

Beyond that, I don't have a dog in that fight and I don't see why it matters if, or to what extent, genetics may or may not cause racial outcome differences, at least as far my argument (or Noah's) is concerned.

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He's getting at scientific racism. The idea has been in disrepute since post-World War II, and scholars have been walking away from it ever since.

Scientific racism still exists because scientific racists still exist, and they are highly motivated little gnats.

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Liberalism is by definition focussed on "negative freedom", instead of "positive freedom", which means that liberalism has never really had any vision since its inception, unlike Nazism or Communism. The tenet of liberalism is basically .“中庸” [very poorly translated into "Doctrine into the Mean"] of Confucianism, which basically means that rejecting any form of extremism, and that's it. Admittedly liberalism sounds far less exciting than building an Aryan/Communist/Islamic paradise on earth, but it is more durable on the long run. Therefore the lack of concrete vision of liberalism is a strength, not a weakness.

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You say Nazis and Communists having a vision like it's a good thing. Those systems' successes can be measured in their body counts.

Historically, liberalism and conservatism as political philosophies have been the most resilient because they did not provide a totalizing worldview.

Liberalism and conservatism don't even lend themselves well to comparison across time or space because their political concerns are context-dependent. Take for instance, a political liberal. In the U.S., you would be a Democrat, so you'd be left of center. In Canada, you'd be on the center. In Australia, you'd be right of center. Same term, very different political orientations. (An American who moves to Australia might vote for Labour, though Australia's Labour is more conservative than similarly named parties in Western democracies.)

All political ideologies offer a vision. Historically, though, liberalism and conservatism stopped short of a totalizing vision and gave space for history to play itself out. This uncertainty is unappealing for many people, and the appeal of authoritarian and totalitarian governments among the masses was a yearning for a certainty they can grasp.

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Doctrine of the Mean seems to be similar to Epicureanism, which encouraged both pleasure and moderation.

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Diversity is a fine value, but diversity does not exist outside of a society in which it is a thread or value.

The current liberal view, has no stated view for society as a whole. How is it to be organized? Where is the family in it? How are the children to be raised? When in school do they learn x, y, or z?

Individuality as a whole,, for and by itself is doomed to destroy the society in which it exists in. There needs to be a recognition, that just as society owes the individual, the right to exist as they do, the individual has a duty to protect that society that gives them that freedom. One cannot be separated from the other, without a collapse on one side. Just as individual planets circle the sun, so do individuals within our society, circulate within that whole. It is a mutual admiration endeavor at its best, at its worst it is totally self destructive to both.

Your view of Conservativism, at least from a Burkean viewpoint, is a bit misguided. People, at least some of them, value tradition, ceremony, order, more than experimentation, and independence. Neither is superior, they are mutually re-enforcing at their best. Those who are thought of as illiberal, are often simply making the best of their situation.

People throughout history, have clung to things that work for them, when they no longer work, they are willing to toss them aside without an afterthought. The rise of Islam is but one example, the rush to the factory, to get rid of the labor involved in farming is another.

The poor and the working class need tradition, order, reliability much more than a college trained person. We ignore their needs at our peril.

There are 1.7 million working class voters for every million college graduates. As Adlai Stevenson said at a campaign stop in 1956, when a person spoke up saying: "You have every thinking person voting for you." Stevenson without missing a beat said: "That's no enough, I need a majority." The current liberal view to label these people deplorables, MAGA, neo-fascists, is only putting people off, and turning them to the likes of DeSantis. An old rule is you get more flies with honey than vinegar.

We do need a new vision of the future, one that offers stability with a platform for change as a constant. Allowing for freedom of expression, and the stasis of religion, as one example of what is needed to be tolerated on one side, so that diversity can be done so on the other. There is nothing wrong with mutual respect, and endowing each other with the dignity we would want for ourselves.

Just as the Constitution needed the Connecticut Compromise to be implemented, people have to learn or perhaps relearn how to compromise to get some, but not all, of what they want, so that progress from both sides can be made, and no one is left out.

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"The poor and the working class need tradition, order, reliability much more than a college trained person. [...] There are 1.7 million working class voters for every million college graduates."

Seems worth mentioning that the poor, the working class, and college graduates significantly overlap.

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What the poor and the working class need are unions.

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And do to them what the teachers union did to school kids, via the pandemic?

Not sure of that, at all.

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The pandemic revealed that many parents saw public education as day care and went stir crazy when they had to deal with what schools have to on a daily basis, only on an individual scale.

The unions defended their teachers' interests, namely not to catch a communicable respiratory illness with hundreds or even thousands of potential COVID-19 vectors.

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How else are you supposed to work three jobs to pay the parasite.... I mean blackrock... I mean the mortgage?

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84% of the dead from Covid, were 55 or older, obese, with heart disease, and diabetic. That is not most teachers. Children 19 and under number under 1,000 dead. There was no need for the entire school edifice to be torn down, provide havoc to the ensuing children, who may never recover their full educational abilities due to the closing of schools. Separating diabetic children and teachers, teachers with heart disease, a disease rarely evident in children, and those who were clinically obese from the general school population would have allowed schools to function as they were intended,.

The unions used the crisis to get every dollar they could for the teacher and to hell with the kids.

The next generation will have to deal with the results of unions not doing their jobs as teachers but as union employees.

We obviously have a difference of opinion on this subject, this is my view, you are entitled to yours.

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You're also selling the efforts of school teachers and school districts short. The campuses themselves were closed, but school districts themselves were still open for business and had so many challenges to solve even though no one was coming to class.

Schools had to quickly acquire Chromebooks or tablets to provide children with computers that allowed them to turn in lessons online and engage in video instruction.

School districts then found out that many low-income households did not have a landline phone or cable, so no always-on internet connection. They found that families were either burning through their cell phone data plans or checking out computer time in libraries -- if local health laws allowed them to be open. Some districts ended up having to negotiate with phone or cable companies to buy lifeline-level service for needy households.

School districts were still providing breakfasts and lunches to students, but parents had to come by the school to pick them up each day. For households without a car, the teachers would stop by the homes and bring the food (along with school supplies) to their students.

Most school employees went above and beyond their duties during the pandemic to try to bring a modicum of normalcy in chaotic times.

Now let's talk about the parents who used the pandemic time to get baptized in Qanon, binge on Joe Rogan, "Do THeiR oWN ReSeaRCH!!11!" or burn down the Capitol.

We obviously have a difference of opinion on this subject, this is my view, you are entitled to yours.

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The lockdowns weren't narrowly focused on deaths, the worst possible outcome. The lockdowns were broadly focused on stopping the transmission of coronavirus.

We had little protection from the virus apart from PPE, physical distancing and reducing activities that were bound to expose us to the virus. And corona's behavior was that the highest rate of spread was in the days before we felt the onset of symptoms.

School campuses are the worst kind of virus vectors because they offer so many contact points. Offices and hospitals could control access into their facilities. Schools, though?

Schools have several transmission points: the classrooms (even if desks were staggered to be 6 feet apart, central HVAC systems ensured a steady supply of virus was circulating in the air), the cafeterias and lunch areas, infirmaries, bathrooms and school buses.

Contact tracing would be a big problem for the behaviors of students, teachers, classified staff, counselors, administrators, school bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc. What are the home arrangements of each person on campus? Where could they have gotten infected off campus? What would happen if anyone was infected on campus and spread it to someone at home?

Could a school campus plausibly swab the noses of each student and employee coming in, 5 days a week? How quickly could they ID and isolate a positive case?

We also know that cases surge at particular parts of the year: July-August, September-October, November-January. The surges came after holidays, when people ended up clustering together and medical facilities were overwhelmed for about four weeks or so after July 4, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Had schools been open during the Labor Day to Halloween period, surges would be far more catastrophic.

Children are at less risk of COVID morbidity and mortality, but that doesn't protect them from COVID. Emergency rooms and ICUs were already inundated; children's hospital ERS and pediatric ICUs are in even shorter supply in routine days and they too were unable to handle the pandemic shock.

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Yup. Also, poor, working class and college graduates remain fluid categories.

People can shift in and out of economic cohorts. And in America, immigrants can outperform their native counterparts in economic and educational competition.

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Yup, it can work that way, just right now a lot, perhaps majorities of each group, are moving to their corners, and unhappy with those of a different view.

Shifting out of an economic category, whether above or below, need not change one's views, it might help if it did, but that is not a requirement for the change to take place.

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I have a theory, well a hunch really and not an academically provable theory-theory, over who is most likely to be a reactionary in society.

Anybody who experiences an abrupt change in life status, either upward or downward. Both end up in the same place for very different reasons and share the same worldview.

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Goes along with Noah's theory on embarrassed elites becoming the jerkiest kinds of socialist. But, yes, repeated frustration has long been a factor in intolerance.

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 3, 2022

Also goes along with Schumpeter's notion that the managerial class would turn against capitalism in the name of its own "expertise."

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Seems entirely reasonable. Unless of course they had some sort of conscious, inner life, philosophy or set of ethics that guided them regardless of were they were. That would require time, hard work, and effort, so you are probably more right than my antithesis.

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Not necessarily in terms of culture or politics. If that were so the extreme politicalization would not exist

The groups could and would more easily co-exist

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The groups could and would more easily co-exist -- but there's no percentage for the gatekeepers in "live and let live." So they keep stirring the pot, and we remain distracted from noticing who has the preponderance of power and money.

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They definitely have in the past. The farther back to more they met. Today people are voting with their feet, meaning they are moving to where they want to live based on the way the state government works, as in taxes, schools, work opportunities. The gate keepers have been so effective that people have to move to get to what they want, because they cannot have it where they live.

The willingness to listen to an idea or thought that you disagree with and respond in a thoughtful or reasonable manner, is anathema to the twitter universe, amongst others. It requires giving people the same respect and dignity that you would want in return. This is not a popular proposition at the moment.

As George Orwell stated: "If Liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

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You write, "People, at least some of them, value tradition, ceremony, order, more than experimentation, and independence.... Those who are thought of as illiberal, are often simply making the best of their situation."

True, but that cuts both ways. Ultimately, mutual respect requires independence, not dogma.

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Libertarianism: Astrology for men. Also, see Feudalism.

US Liberalism doesn't know what it wants. It's like watching 50 kids in a candy store trying to agree on what to buy.

US Conservatism: Lol. I mean, ROFL.

Chinese Authoritarianism: A dead end and dwindling.

Islamism: Angry men in beards pissed of no one cares what they think. No one will ever care.

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>Libertarianism: Astrology for men. Also, see Feudalism.

It's amazing how revoltingly smug leftists are when the people they mock basically built modern society, whereas all left-wing predictions have basically failed.

Libertarians have much more empirical support for their ideology than any leftist who imagines a world where Africans are as smart and wealthy as Chinese people or whatever other utopian nonsense. Market economies have proven themselves, egalitarian diversity absolutely has not, and is much, much closer to astrology than anything on the right supports.

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Oct 3, 2022·edited Oct 3, 2022

Libertarians hasn't built anything.

I'm curious what empirical support you have.

Making popcorn now.

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Those who arrive at their conclusions by means other than a rational path, tend to be immune to refutations based on obvious logic.

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Cynicism never goes out of style though

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Sep 30, 2022·edited Sep 30, 2022

> Libertarianism: Astrology for men. Also, see Feudalism.

Maybe as a group of people. Ideology contains useful elements. See "A SOMETHING SORT OF LIKE LEFT-LIBERTARIANISM-IST MANIFESTO" from SlateStarCodex.

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Someone who imagines "astrology for men" to be insightful doesn't have the mind for a serious critique of libertarianism.

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Too close to the truth huh.

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How would you characterize:





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Oct 1, 2022·edited Oct 1, 2022

I'm glad you added that last part, Noah.

I consider myself to be a pretty moderate conservative, but the proposed society you described basically seemed repulsive to me.

To such an extent that I would tolerate a lot of pain and sacrifice and, if I'm being honest, probably actual totalitarianism...to prevent it from becoming dominant.

The only way I can see that society and one that conservatives also admire and accept coexisting under the same system is to just have...mostly separate societies.

Which isn't really a great thing.

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I would say that being "moderate" and willing to tolerate "actual totalitarianism" are mutually exclusive categories.

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022

I'd say not if the alternative is a total progressive victory with conservatives having to deal with your boot on our neck.

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What's with the "your" and "our"? I didn't say anything about my political predilections. I don't begrudge you your opinions, but believing strongly enough in one side to be willing to countenance totalitarianism is not moderate. All totalitarianism in history has been implemented by people who believe it is "us or them" and history rightly judges all of them extreme.

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I probably should have used the term 'authoritarian' instead of 'totalitarian'.

Reassessing, I agree that supporting totalitarianism is almost by definition not moderate.

Maybe even tolerating totalitarianism qualifies.

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I think the Chinese model as something that is exportable is overblown - even Chinese people who promote it often emphasize the unique historical and political factors that led to it in China. People like the economic outcomes - but nobody loves the censorial party-state.

More worrying to me is the signs of personality cult - though I think in the end Xi's attempts to make himself Mao's peer will fail.

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Agreed. That's why comparisons to the cold war make no sense. The real cold war involved a many countries embracing or potentially embracing a socialist political system, helped along by the USSR, and concerns from the west over how far this would spread. This isn't remotely what the situation is today. China is effectively, in the most literal sense, a national socialist country and their growing power and influence is purely economic, not ideological. It's literally "socialism with chinese characteristics" - it's not exportable, and the CCP don't even seem to imagine it is.

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[One Belt One Road has entered the chat.]

OBOR is an economic dud, but it built up goodwill among nations who integrated themselves into the initiative.

China has done a lot of economic development on Africa, and according to US Institute of Peace, opinions of China are generally really high in sub-Saharan Africa. Also worth noting, opinions of the U.S. are nearly identically high in same countries.


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A nation that cares for the well being of its last mile delivery labor force is also a must.

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> Keen observers of the Muslim world, like Murtaza Hussain, argue that Islamism is becoming a spent force, and it seems hard to disagree.

Hussain's tweet is about Iran only. Who is saying the same about Sunni Islamism? And why does Noah limit Sunni Islamism to militants, rather than all the people who won't take up arms for it?

To me, Sunni Islamism as a broad vision seems only a little weaker than a decade ago. I doubt that it is 'becoming a spent force' in the medium term. I get the sense that, in most of the Muslim countries which appear most frequently in the news, majorities of people remain at least mildly more sympathetic political Islam than to all other systems combined.

Imagine that every Muslim-majority country's adults were given a yes-no referendum on a constitution based on political Islam.

-I would predict a yes vote in all but one or two Arab-majority countries. I would predict a yes vote in Somalia, Afghanistan, Pakistan.

-I would predict a yes vote in Iran. Iran has futile major protests every few years, so I don't over-update on the ongoing ones. Also, there must be some regime opponents who like political Islam in theory (such as among the Sunni minority).

-I would predict a no vote in Indonesia, Nigeria, Bosnia (obviously), Albania, Kosovo, Turkey, and most of the post-Soviet ones.

-Haven't read enough to predict Bangladesh, Malaysia, Brunei, or the remaining African countries.

Who predicts no votes where I predict yes votes?

In short, I don't think a revitalized vision of liberal democracy would have notably more appeal in the Islamic world than it did a decade ago, and I don't think this will change soon.

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Oct 1, 2022·edited Oct 1, 2022

I guess I don't see how political Islam is going to fare any better in the long term than political Christianity. I can't think why they would be more immune to secularization and it seems to me that we do see the signs of such secularization happening, though it is of course in very early stages in much of the Muslim world.

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I am not afraid of Thiel!

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I might be afraid of his money, though...

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Honestly he's the lightweight of the lightweights. There is nothing there.

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JD Vance and Blake Masters are his thoroughbreds. They are favored to win, and they help to usher in Thielism as an ideology.

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Sep 30, 2022·edited Sep 30, 2022

Yea, Moldbug will not get to power. What he wrote ensures that. Like with his fantasy of "king of Columbia (= renamed USA)" purposefully gimping up technology to ensure there is enough "quality work" (example: shoemakers) for the good of "human resources" (population), who don't know what's good for them.

He calls it "disutilitarian economics—diseconomics"

I suspect even he doesn't really believe in what he's writing. It's a fantasy.

Post I'm referring to: https://graymirror.substack.com/p/5-the-land-its-people-and-their-dogs

It'd be fun if Noah responded to this post.


> In each of these little Greek city-states, there were actors and poets and musicians and playwrights. Who weren’t like: I may be big in Melos, but I’m not big till I’ve made it in Athens. Eventually that did change; but centralization spelled the death of the Greek cities, later of the Hellenistic world, and in the end all of antiquity. In some ways the Mediterranean has never recovered from the rise of the Roman Empire.

> From whose barbarian-haunted ruin sprang another polycentric order: old Europe. Along came the printing press, the telegraph, the railroad, the jet and the Internet, hot war and cold war—and now, even the Continent’s old languages are beginning to fade.

> If culturally and politically unifying the Mediterranean, once a thriving decentralized network of politically and culturally independent city-states, created a polymillennial continental disaster—what will unifying the planet do? What has it already done?

> So imagining this process rolled back, recreating geographically parochial culture, is quite a different thing from “local grants for the arts”—though both, it’s true, employ more local artists. But we are not trying to imagine more bureaucratic ditch-digging.

> Since it is technology that has globalized us, by making travel and communication fast and cheap, it is hard to imagine cultural deglobalization without artificial difficulty. Literally this means cutting the wires, grounding the planes and breaking the ships—all to replace one insipid and uniform global armiger culture with hundreds or even thousands of proud, pugnacious local elites, each gloriously different from the next.

> These relocalized armigers might even identify more strongly with their local yeomen than with their former comrades in the global ruling class—who they can no longer text, anyway. The packets don’t go through. The wires have been cut. They would visit, but they can’t get a ticket…

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As it happens, the Internet is anything but a monoculture. A zillion subcultures based around anything and everything can all be found online. The closest America has ever come to a vast monoculture was in the 1950s, when there were three TV networks and practically everybody watched them.

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Does Moldbug want to be in power? I’m not sure what he professes to want, but I do know he’s the world’s most obvious bottom.

I did have the impression he’s also a secret lib trying to shock-jock other libs; the modern right winger doesn’t respect him because he told them to get vaccinated so they think he’s a nerd.

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Yes, Moldbug almost certainly wants to be in power, or at least self-satisfied in realizing his vision of the world.

Yarvin has been at this longer than most of us have been on the internet. It's safe to say he's sincere about his mendacity and not putting on a performance for most of his adult life.

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deletedSep 30, 2022·edited Sep 30, 2022
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Or the Melians become vassals. The Melian dialogue happened because they didn't submit.

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Communications technology hurt local cultures, but you can still have them as long as it’s more interesting to be outside than on the computer.

Besides, America has local cultures: https://twitter.com/regionalusfood

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Liberalism does not scale. Society requires cohesion, scale brings diversity, diversity erodes cohesion.

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You start this comment with the statement of a white washed 1950s of backyard barbeques as representative of what conservatives think. Maybe you should read Edmund Burke, GK Chesterton, Sir Rodger Scruton, etc.. Pick one in fact and go with it. You're working with a belittled characterization of what conservativism is and ignoring the negative characterizations implicit in your own neoliberal bias. Diversity of opinion is valuable, for example and yet even Glenn Greenwald and Bari Weiss can see where woke liberal and actual liberal has drawn definitive distinction. Don't take my word for it. You are, I think, a big enough name that you could probably sit down and talk to one them and you should. You should because your implicit bias is showing in this article.

Separately, I want you to know that I enjoy your articles and don't think you are missing these biases intentionally. I think you still have bought into a somewhat rosy modernist world view that tends to overlook the negative externalities and intentionally ignore data points that show negative outcomes such as depths of despair depression and suicide rates. Often when these data points are sighted I hear people bring up 1960s data points like, "oh look it's been this bad before... see it isn't new..." Effectively the argument is, "don't look at the negative consequences of current modernist policies because correlations isn't causation and oh look history was shitty also."

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A fascinating read. I'd just add it's the nature of liberalism, which, in effect, is built on inclusion and compromise, is the very thing that dilutes it in the face of hardline authoritarian ideas.

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Authoritarian has become an extremely meaningless word if this is how its being used. Liberals are extreme authoritarians - knowledge is absolute and it comes from authorities in the ivory towers and "valid" media organizations. Any opinion not coming from figures of liberal authority or those they endorse is "disinformation" must be crushed. This is not pedantry. It represents a misunderstanding of reality at a fairly fundamental level.

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May I introduce you to the concept of fractal wrongness?

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022

Maybe add one thing to what liberal democracies can put into a concrete vision - a willingness to be transparent and public with data and willingness to adapt to results, evidence.

This often gets expressed as "follow the science", but its more than that. It's looking at real results, data, experience and adjusting. Expecting evidence will be collected and examined.

This is something authoritarians inevitably fail at and messy democracies do better at. And to the extent democracies fail, it is often because they get institutions as stuck as authoritarian regimes,, that are protected from democractic pressures for change.

U.S. is still held in high esteem for its data, economic etc.

To my eye, it is highly important that liberal democracies collect info via good methods and build public trust in it.

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>Maybe add one thing to what liberal democracies can put into a concrete vision - a willingness to be transparent and public with data and willingness to adapt to results, evidence.

This is absolutely laughable. We're talking about people who think it literally shouldn't be allowed to conduct scientific research that undermines liberal narratives (see: anything suggesting that biological race differences exist and explain socioeconomic outcome differences).

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And people who refuse to allow research done on the effect of public health and gun ownership.

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