I Want to be Part of Western Civilization Too

I can understand the frustration of Representative Steve King.

Steve King Asks: What Have Minorities Contributed To Civilization?

I imagine if I were a Republican and were constantly bombarded with lazy accusations of racism, I would get frustrated too.

When asked why there only seem to be white people at the Republican National Convention. He responded by asking “where are the contributions made by these other categories of people that you’re talking to about? Where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

He then clarified that he meant Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the United States of America are responsible for contributions to civilization.

In the subsequent fact-checking, journalists got to writing that civilization exists in other places of the world. There’s a Washington Post article out there noting that umbrellas and gunpowder, for example, were invented elsewhere.

This misses the point.

White people have made an outsized contribution to civilization. Whenever I go to a new place, I try to make new white friends. They are awesome. I can hardly imagine why my parents moved to the United States if not in recognition of the fact that there was something worth joining here, and the whole thing was and is run by white men.

Trying to score inventions and contributions is ultimately an exercise in subjectivity, and India not getting credit for the number zero isn’t what makes me want to take a chisel to Representative King’s car.

Martin Luther King photo

Alleged Christian contributor to Western Civilization. Image by The Library of Congress

What offends are King’s assumptions that are so basic that he skips right over them. To say what he said so readily, he has to believe that non-whites have no role to play in the Republican Party. And that would be bad enough, but the reason for that is that he doesn’t think non-whites have a role to play in Western civilization, which (no offense to the GOP) is considerably more troubling.

Less troubling to me personally, but nonetheless a thing that should bother people is that he doesn’t think Christianity has space for non-whites. That’s what allows him to look at the RNC floor and smile that his side has the right people on the bus.

The paradox of the modern Republican Party is that those of us who are not white and wish to assimilate with American culture and wish that even more for our children are told that they aren’t welcome by those who are most bothered by non-whites not assimilating. And if the words “you aren’t welcome” aren’t exactly what was said, “you people haven’t done anything worth noting in civilization’s 6,000 years” is an even more emphatic rejection.

Message received.

Featured Image by Gage Skidmore


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Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1. ...more →

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173 thoughts on “I Want to be Part of Western Civilization Too

  1. There are so many immigrants and non-whites that enrich my life on a daily basis, I just have a “what the …” moment whenever someone says something like this.

    You belong here. So do they.

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  2. I keep wanting to get fired up about this and then I remember that it’s just garden variety white supremacy. Nothing new to see here.

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  3. I’d be a lot more convinced that charging the Republican Party with racism is “lazy” if it hadn’t just, you know, nominated Donald Trump.

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      • There was an interesting article on Vox yesterday about a Republican intellectual named Avrik Roy. He worked on numerous GOP campaigns as an advisor and policy person. One of Roy’s theories was that many conservative intellectuals were in denial about the racism of the base and thought that the base honestly supported conservative intellectual ideals for the right reasons but many supported them because they felt the ideas hurt minorities.

        http://www.vox.com/2016/7/25/12256510/republican-party-trump-avik-roy

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        • Yeah, I was just reading that.

          See, the thing is…I was sorta right there with him in his revelation. I actually think I wrote a long rant about this here a while back here.

          I thought the Republican base really did want a bunch of (to my mind) dumbass policies. There have been entire books written about how the Republican base votes against their own self interest, with the idea that they have been tricked into demanding policies that are bad for them.

          Except…they *weren’t*. They didn’t demand those policies. They didn’t *care* about those policies at all.

          I mean, we sorta knew this from the Tea Party, which supposedly was about the cornerstone policy of ‘lower taxes’, but often devolved into racism…but that was just a small group of assholes taking over the thing, right?

          And then…Trump. Trump blew it all up. Not just by being openly racist…but by not giving a damn about *any* of the stuff Republicans supposed cared about. None of it.

          Trump totally fails at the social conservative thing, and I’m not talking about the pro-LBGT thing which the Republicans were sorta due to eventually embrace anyway, but a guy who literally does not appear to be a Christian at all and can’t even read a Bible verse correctly. Forget the whole ‘thrice married’ thing…the guy running around talking about how hot women are, making semi-lewd comments and clearly *pulling himself back* because he’s on camera.(1)

          Foreign policy is a bit more a mixed bag, when Trump asserts we should be ‘strong’…but he cannot stop praising Russia and threatening to tear down NATO. Meanwhile, he’s anti-Iraq war.

          As for fiscal conservativism…Trump’s openly said, several times, he thinks the wealthy should pay more in taxes. Granted, his actual *tax plans* don’t do that, but just his statements are heresy. And he’s pro-Obamacare mandate, and all sorts of things.

          As I’ve said before, if not for his open white nationalism and a few completely dumbass random things, Trump’s policies sounds like a Democrat…or, to put it another way, without his open white nationalism, Trump sounds exactly like the average American voter.

          Remember how we always had the paradox of ‘Republicans seem to want Democratic policies until they know they are Democratic policies’? Well, Trump is the proof of that, and it’s a paradox no more. We already knew that if you put the word ‘Democrat’ on Republican plans, the Republican base would hate it…well, apparently, the reverse is also true!

          It turns out the Republicans didn’t *actually* want all that stupid shit this entire time! Ever!

          Republicans do not give a flying fig about conservativism, and they never have. They want basically exactly the same thing that everyone wants, in the economy, in social issues, in everything.

          …the only thing is, white nationalism trumps all that (Pun intended.), and *that’s* why they voted Republican.

          tl;dr – There never was a goddamn conservative movement.

          I know that’s pretty hard to accept…hall, *I’m* sorta reeling from it and I had no personal stake in it. It totally rewrites our understanding of the last 50 years. Yes, the left would sometimes point to how the conservative moment was *tangled up* in racism, but very few of us actually believed it didn’t really exist at all.

          1) Although I do have to give slight, very grudging props to the religious right. This is not getting reported much, but a few of them have, in fact, realized something is *seriously wrong* with so many of the people who supposedly care about their pet issues supporting Trump, including many people supposedly in the movement. A lot of them are blinking their eyes sleepily and looking around saying ‘Wait a minute, aren’t we supposed to be Christians, not Republicans? This man is totally unacceptable as our representative. And isn’t Hillary a bog-standard Methodist?’. I think this is happening there, and not in the other legs of conservativism, because that leg sorta exists independent of the Republican party, whereas Republican foreign and tax policy really only exists in the party itself and a few think-tanks.

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          • I largely agree with this but would say that there was a conservative movement that really believed in the low tax and deregulation thing. They just were in denial about why the base of the GOP went along with it.

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            • I don’t disagree with that, I was just defining a ‘movement’ as ‘a bunch of normal people with a specific political goal’. People at think tanks is not really a ‘movement’ in how I was using that word.

              Although, technically, there was a movement. It just wasn’t one that should be described as ‘conservative’.

              The amazing thing isn’t that a political movement was acting like it was going in one direction, but actually had another direction. That’s a con, and we’ve had a bunch of those…hell, we literally have it with Trump right now.

              The amazing thing is that the people *leading* the movement didn’t seem to know this, or they wouldn’t have been completely unprepared for Trump….or, hell, made half the decisions they made. If the only issue was white nationalism, they should have kept doubling-down on immigration, for example.

              And cut out some other stuff. I mean, while some of the trade stuff they probably couldn’t drop due to their donors, they could have pulled back on, for example, abortion. Not switching sides, but pulling back on new restrictions and whatnot. (Which is totally destroying their chances of pulling in *women*…and, yes, women are perfectly happy at being white nationalists.) Or on national defense, which has always been a tricky defend.(1)

              In some ways, it would probably be more comforting if it had been a con this entire time. But Trump shows that *even the right* didn’t understand their base, which is why he was able to walk in there and take it away from them.

              1) Hell, even _Trump_ isn’t going in the *ideal* direction there, but maybe he can’t. The ideal direction of Trump’s people, as far as I can tell, is to promise to pull American forces back to America’s border, and keeping them there, and letting the rest of the world rot…with an explicit promise to totally destroy any country that ‘sends terrorists’ at us. I’m not quite sure why that’s not his position, but perhaps he’s finding it hard to ‘unrile’ the base at ISIS. (Which itself they only care about to the extend they can blame Hillary Clinton for it.)

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          • — There was this guy “Jimmy Carter,” who was a “born again Christian.” So yeah. Shit’s weird, hey!

            Reagan was a lot of flash and a lot of “feel good” in the aftermath of a pretty dismal decade, but the notion that he was “conservative” in the sense of “lives according to Christ” is nonsense. He was tapping into something else.

            It seemed really nice to much of middle America, still reeling from the ’70s, but it was build on some really ugly stuff.

            That stuff never went away.

            Carter’s presidency was a disaster, but look at what he did with his life. Look at Reagan’s. Now look at Jesus. Compare.

            This shit is kinda obvious.

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            • Reagan was a lot of flash and a lot of “feel good” in the aftermath of a pretty dismal decade, but the notion that he was “conservative” in the sense of “lives according to Christ” is nonsense. He was tapping into something else.

              Yes, but he *pretended*, because the assumption was the right *cared* about that.

              It seemed really nice to much of middle America, still reeling from the ’70s, but it was build on some really ugly stuff.

              That stuff never went away.

              That’s…not exactly what I’m saying. That’s how I *used* to think, where conservativism was a philosophy that has its original support in a lot of ugly stuff (In the reason people supported Goldwater) that’s continued to lurk below the surface since then.

              And I assumed that, somehow, a large section of people had glommed onto this (In my mind wrong-headed) philosophy and honestly believed it. That they felt that lowering the deficit was more important than public transportation, to pick random examples.

              This assumption was bolstered by talking to intelligent conservatives online, people who really *did* believe all this, who have semi-logical arguments about it.

              Now, I was troubled by a few oddities, like the fact when you removed political parties from the equation, ‘conservatives’ as a block actually seem to be pretty damn liberal, but I generally thought ‘There people believe a philosophy of specific political ideas’.

              But, uh, that…doesn’t seem to be true, at all. The hints were there all along, but it basically crystalized for a lot of people, like the writer of this article, and me a few months ago:

              Conservativism does not appear to actually exist. I mean, yes, there are think tanks, and books, and philosophers, and people on the internet who are experts. But it exists in basically the same way that communism exists: In an abstract thing that almost no voter actually wants.

              Trump has basically laid it bare that the vast majority of people who wandered around calling themselves conservatives, who were members of the ‘conservative party’, do not believe a *single* *damn* *word* of ‘conservativism’. They functionally hold political beliefs almost identical to *Democrats*, in fact…

              …except for the whole ‘they want to yell about racial and religious minorities’ part.

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              • — I’m about halfway through the article now.

                I guess my main objection is he is too loose in throwing out the label “white nationalism.” I mean, I’d rather reserve that term to, you know, actual white power and similar groups.

                I know a lot of folks who are racist, but who don’t really want to be. They certainly don’t want to think of themselves that way.

                I talk a lot about unconscious bias and the “system 1 versus system 2” stuff, mostly in relation to sexism, but I think it applies also to race. The point is, a lot of people reacted strongly to Reagan’s “welfare queen” message —

                and I was ALIVE BACK THEN, I REMEMBER!

                We all knew that “welfare queen” meant “lazy black woman.” That was baked into the concept.

                A lot of folks really liked Bill Cosby’s attacks on black culture. Remember all of that? Now, these folks, mostly white people, did not believe they were “racist.” Certainly they didn’t want some kind of “white nationalism.” But still, they disliked “black culture.”

                Of course, much of what Cosby said was (and remains) plainly true. In fact, much has been said my by other more respected black intellectuals. So why Cosby?

                Well, he also insulted their names.

                And boy white folks sure love to laugh at “Shaniqua” or whatever.

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                I don’t like equating Trumpism with white power. There is surely a connection. We should not pretend that white power isn’t part of what drives Trump’s popularity. But tons of Trump supporters are not white power. They are, however, that other kind of racism, the kind who like “black people,” but only certain black people, and surely never a “Shaniqua.”

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                I think this guy’s argument makes the same mistake that many liberals make. We treat racism as a (I can’t help it!) black-and-white matter (tee hee). Jokes aside, really there is nuance here. Racism has contours. Naming them matters.

                For example, if you call the “responds to Welfare Queen language” kind of racist a “white nationalist,” you’re going to blur the actual difference. This makes communication and analysis difficult.

                (Feminism has similar problem. For example, many feminists use the term “rape culture,” and then wonder why a typical kinda-sexist-but-not-a-rapist man doesn’t want to listen to them. Myself, I prefer the term “sexual pursuit culture,” which names the same set of beliefs/behaviors, but in a way that a lot of kinda-sexist-but-not-a-rapist men can relate to. They understand what “sexual pursuit” entails, and how it can be a shitshow for everyone.

                Language matters.)

                Anyway, I agree with his broad point. The American right has a racism problem. They have for many decades. It pervades their movement, and liberals were dead-on correct when we complained of the “southern strategy” and “dog whistles” and all of that. The clever and sophisticated denials by conservatives were — in the end — nothing more than a river in Egypt.

                So it goes.

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                • They are, however, that other kind of racism, the kind who like “black people,” but only certain black people, and surely never a “Shaniqua.”

                  Judging people based on their behavior rather than their race is pretty much the polar opposite of racism. It’s like saying you’re a sexist because you like “men,” but only certain men, and surely never a “Chad,” or whatever your canonical “bro-dude” name is.

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                    • I took the name to be a stand-in for a member of a particular lower-class black subculture that implies certain kinds of behavior, rather than a literal reference to anyone named “Shaniqua,” much as names like “Chad” or “Billy Bob” stereotypically imply membership in certain white subcultures characterized by certain kinds of behavior.

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                  • Obviously it is reasonable to judge people based on their behavior, but when talking about large numbers of people, who have long been the targets of racism, you need to be careful. As I said, I remember Reagan and the “welfare queen” stuff. Likewise, as I pointed out, many on the left have raised points similar to what Cosby raised, but they did so in a more careful manner. Furthermore, they did it without the contempt he expressed.

                    The point is, there have been “dog whistles” for a long time. They are easy to see when, in addition to listening to the smooth talking Republican politicians and media folks, you also listened to the people who they were talking to. In other words, if you tuned in to your average kinda-racist white person. It wasn’t so hard to line up their racial attitudes, their bullshit denials, and the coded messages that played in the ambiguous space between the two.

                    The dynamic was pretty easy to see. With Trump, the layers of false “deniability” has been stripped away completely and unambiguously. For example, white power openly and enthusiastically supports Trump.

                    In the long run this is probably good, although it sucks right now. But we were never going to keep the lid on all of this. So let’s have it out in the open and look clearly at it.

                    Most people do not want to be racist. Most racism is subtle and unconscious. Furthermore, it is unpleasant, so people build structures of cognitive dissonance. Trump is going to make this much harder to maintain.

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                • Anyway, I agree with his broad point. The American right has a racism problem. They have for many decades. It pervades their movement, and liberals were dead-on correct when we complained of the “southern strategy” and “dog whistles” and all of that. The clever and sophisticated denials by conservatives were — in the end — nothing more than a river in Egypt.

                  No. That’s not the point of the article.

                  What you just described is what the left has been saying for years, and the right has mostly ignored, but sorta secretly admitted was there. The idea that the right has been basically ignoring the fact that 20% or so ‘conservative’ are attracted for racist reasons. That’s the *conventional wisdom*, sorta. Even if the right won’t admit it, it’s probably what they *thought*.

                  What Trump is proving, as what that article says, what I figured out a few months ago (Again, I actually figured this out a few months ago, there’s a comment somewhere in the archives about it, when I realize in shock that Trumpers don’t give a *damn* about *any* ‘conservative’ stuff, and what that logically had to mean.), is that there was no conservative movement to *start* with. The ratio wasn’t 20% blatent racists vs. 80% true believers in conservativism, the ratio was 20% blatent racists, 20% true believers in conservativism, and 60%…less blatent racists.

                  Now, you’re right, the terms ‘racist’ and ‘white nationalist’ aren’t really *helpful*. But the point is that they were *not* attracted to Republicans due to ‘conservativism’, they were attracted due to the world-view that it was ‘them’ (white Americans) vs. ‘the other’…black Americans, hispanic Americans, non-Americans.

                  That is not some ugly under-belly of the conservative movement as most people assumed, but instead, the conservative movement never even existed *at all*. It was a few philosophers that came up with some reasonable sounding idea, and that *almost no one* actually cared about that idea except that they were able to paint it over their racist worldview.

                  Note this isn’t something the Republican party has been hiding or ignoring, or whatever…they literally didn’t know it was true!

                  That is pretty much the only way to explain Trump.

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                • Far be it from me to briefly diverge from whatever the subthread is evolving into, but I really, really like the coinage “sexual pursuit culture”. Is it yours? If not, do you recall where you found it? Regardless, I plan to appropriate it forthwith, but I’d like to give appropriate credit.

                  Drop that beautiful Kolmogorov string into the right interpreter and bang!

                  (for any non-nerds – Burt? – who don’t recognize the term but are interested, Kolmogorov complexity of something is the shortest computer program that will produce a given output, i.e. the densest representation that can reproduce a phenomenon. A better reference would be to Minimum Message Length, but the reference to Kolmogorov is more recognizable. )

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                  • — I think I invented it, but I’m not totally sure. (You’re not the first person to ask this.) In any case, people should feel free to use it. I like to see it used more. I think it expresses an important issue for feminism (and really, men also) in a way that is less confrontational than “rape culture.”

                    (Of course, many feminists are trying to be confrontational, which is a long, difficult conversation. In any case, I approach these things my own way.)

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              • Conservativism does not appear to actually exist.

                So, you’ve convinced yourself that something you don’t like didn’t even exist in the first place. Seems legit.

                Let’s inject a little reality into this conversation. I was very young but alive in NYC in 1979. And I was alive in NYC in 1988 and in 1992. Things got better in that time period and not just better for he rich. I remember what the subways looked like in the early 80s and the buildings in the South Bronx that had painted fake windows, because they’d been torched by landlords who got more from insurance than they could ever get in rent. I remember when. Large parts of my city were no-go zones. I don’t know that it was Reagan or conservatism that turned things around, but it was certainly the rejection of some very bad leftist economic policies that had been the orthodoxy since the end of WWII. And that’s why things kept getting better through the two Clinton administrations, because the Democrats figured somebody this stuff out after spending 12 years in the proverbial wilderness.

                This whole idea that conservatism is just a cover for racism idea is just not very well thought out. And what Roy is saying is something different. Every ideological/political movement has a disconnect between the inner party and the proles. Does anyone think that most of the Venezuelans who supported Chavez have a deep and meaningful ideological commitment to Bolivarean socialism? No. Chavez was a charismatic figure who did stuff for them and created an enemy for them to blame things on. So, when he died, the movement began falling apart.

                Something similar is happening with the GOP right now. And it’s not because conservatism never existed.

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                • Let’s inject a little reality into this conversation. I was very young but alive in NYC in 1979. And I was alive in NYC in 1988 and in 1992. Things got better in that time period and not just better for he rich.

                  …nothing there seems to have any bearing on what I said. You seem to be attempting to prove that ‘conservatives sometime do good’, which doesn’t disprove anything I said.

                  Even if conservativism were the platonic ideal of government, the greatest form of government that ever existed, my point was why people *voted for it*, not what it accomplished. I am saying that almost no one votes for people *based on* conservative principles, they vote Republican out of some sort of low-level nationalism. Whether or not conservativism accomplishes its goal is totally irrelevant.

                  And, uh, NYC from 1979 was operated by Democrats, voted into office by Democrats. So I’m *really* not sure what your point is there. Ed Koch was apparently more *moderate* than the previous Democrats, but as far as I can tell, not any sort of ‘conservative’.

                  And your concept it was ‘Reagan’ that turned things around is silly. The start of the 90s was the *high point* of crime in NYC, as it was the rest of the nation. Seriously, the most murders *ever* in NYC happened in 90. (Discounting 9/11.) That’s *ever*, not per thousand people. (Hell, even *counting* 9/11, 1990 had two thirds the murders of 2001! Again, not per capita.)

                  Then crime mysteriously slowly started decreasing, everywhere, and has done so consistently, completely ignoring whoever is president or governor or mayor, or any government policies at all. It has continued to decrease to this day, and no one gets any credit for it, because we have no damn idea why it happened. The main suspect is ‘less lead’.

                  I mean, whether or not conservatism is successful or not is not relevant here, but in the future, when arguing it is, you probably want to pick a location that is under control of conservatives and a time during which things actually got better? (Unless this was some weird way to try to make me admit crime got worse under Democrats…but crime got worse *everywhere*, and then got better *everywhere*, and it doesn’t seem to be explained by anything.)

                  This whole idea that conservatism is just a cover for racism idea is just not very well thought out.

                  That *isn’t* what I said. Conservativism was a random political philosophy invented by non-racists, or at least didn’t have anything to do with racism.

                  My assertion is that a negligibly percentage of the voters ever *believed* in that philosophy ,and instead merely realized (consciously or subconsciously) that that philosophy allowed them to push for racist policies without having to justify racism. (The first, of course, being ‘states rights’, aka, ‘black kids don’t get to go to my kid’s school’)

                  Does anyone think that most of the Venezuelans who supported Chavez have a deep and meaningful ideological commitment to Bolivarean socialism? No. Chavez was a charismatic figure who did stuff for them and created an enemy for them to blame things on. So, when he died, the movement began falling apart.

                  Something similar is happening with the GOP right now. And it’s not because conservatism never existed.

                  You seem to basically agree with my entire premise, that people followed it because it gave them someone to blame…you just don’t like how I say it?

                  Well, you’re right. I was sloppy in saying ‘conservativism’ doesn’t exist. I withdraw that. It is a real political philosophy.

                  What I was trying to say by that the conservative *movement* never existed, or, rather the movement that did exist under that banner had nothing to do with conservativism.

                  (We’ll see if this posts this time.)

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              • Conservativism does not appear to actually exist. …it exists in basically the same way that communism exists: In an abstract thing that almost no voter actually wants.

                I suggest more that conservatism, like liberalism, exists as a logically coherent set of principles and policy preferences, only in academic papers.

                On the street, in the wild, it exists as a fractious collection of priorities and beliefs that contradict each other and cannot possibly reconcile, except in the face of a far greater enemy.

                Which is the problem, IMO, with trying to gather together a single universal worldview that is logically consistent and timeless- it can’t possibly appeal to any more than a tiny narrow sliver of the populace and it can’t cope with changing demands and priorities.

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                • I suggest more that conservatism, like liberalism, exists as a logically coherent set of principles and policy preferences, only in academic papers.

                  Yes, and no. That is how all political philopophies exist, yes.

                  The problem is, liberalism is something that is actually believed by the population. They probably don’t fully understand it, and get things wrong, and even if they did get it all right it’s something that cannot exist perfectly. Fair enough.

                  The thing is…it’s something that is believed by *almost all the population*, including conservatives, whereas conservativism is something that isn’t believed by hardly any of them, including conservatives.

                  Okay, to explain that sentence, I have to explain the reason *I* came to my conclusion, and it wasn’t this article.

                  Basically, for the longest time, there have been some very interesting polls that said that conservatives…were liberal. That is, when you present them with policies stripped of any party indication, they wanted liberal positions. I always thought this was *extremely* odd. I mean, everyone ‘knew’ Republicans over were voting against their own interests, but that could be justified as them deeply holding a belief that such things were Wrong(TM)…but they didn’t appear to *actually* hold those beliefs when asked about them!

                  This information was treated as an outlier, one that didn’t make a lot of sense. And then Trump happened, and, sure enough, it turns out that decades of conservative ideas and principles can just…vanish. It turns out the conservatives voters did not actually care about two-thirds of the stuff they said they did, despite saying *very loudly and repeatedly* that they did care.

                  Now, that that happened is a fact. Here is what *I* make of that fact, and the point I think the article is try to make, although it’s sorta soft peddling it:

                  None of those people were ever interested in conservativism at all.

                  And that really only leaves *one* option as to what they were interested in.

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                    • Yeah, how *do* I explain the Republican Rob Ford’s success in having minorities vote him into office as mayor of the American city of Toronto.

                      No, wait.

                      Firstly, uh, anyone who supports conservatives in *America* should not be trying to draft Rob Ford into that. There are people you really shouldn’t *want* counted in your movement, and Rob Ford was one of those people.

                      Secondly, if you think any other country’s ‘conservativism’ looks anything like ours, you are very mistaken. Conservativism, *as we talk about it*, was created in the US in 1964, and really launched in the 80s. There *are* some political parties in other countries that try to incorporate what *we* call ‘conservative’ into their beliefs, but don’t assume that applies to any party with the word ‘conservative’ in the name.

                      The party Rob Ford is a member of , the ‘Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario’, had the name ‘conservative’ in it since the 1800s, and is not a reference to US conservativism at all, but a reference to *moderation*. It’s trying to say it’s progressivism, but moderate. (Progressivism *also* is something slightly different there.) It’s a right-of-center party, not a right party.

                      Thirdly, unlike this country, where Republicans only seem to double down each election, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario has repeatedly been harmed by its more conservative positions and had to *back off* them since 2000..and it actually *started* more liberal in the first place.

                      Fourthly…technically, Rob Ford ran as an *independent*. City elections in Toronto are non-partisan.

                      So I really have no idea what you’re trying to prove.

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              • 5% of the population is LGBT, and they only get any political traction when either a political movement picks them up and dusts them off, or they hitch themselves to one that has momentum.
                5% of the population are atheists, and they only get any political traction when either a political movement picks them up and dusts them off, or they hitch themselves to one that has momentum.
                5% of the population are sincere conservatives, and…

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                • 5% is the number usually reported for gays and lesbians. But who knows. The data is hard to get. Transgender people are probably are less than 1%. Bisexual people, however — well I don’t know how well they are measured, but among women I expect they are well above the 5% for lesbians. In any case, I’d be surprised the the total for LGBTQ is less than 10%.

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              • — Reagan ignored AIDS for four years, while the death toll mounted. He provided zero federal leadership when those fighting the disease were disorganized, largely powerless, and constrained by significant bureaucracy and in-fighting.

                I won’t say he did this for the Christian right, but they surely would have squawked had he shown leadership.

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          • That’s quite a false dichotomy you constructed there. You think the only options are being motivated by conservative principles or being racist. It’s impossible that they’re sick of upper class liberals looking down their noses at them. Why is it so hard for anyone to believe that people dislike high SES liberals without being motivated secret racism? The fact that trump will piss of the food snobs by serving well done steak at state dinners makes voting for him very tempting.

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            • The fact that trump will piss of the food snobs by serving well done steak at state dinners makes voting for him very tempting.

              Wow. And I thought strange women lying in ponds distributing swords was no basis for a system of government.

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              • Wow. And I thought strange women lying in ponds distributing swords was no basis for a system of government.

                How is working class whites not wanting to vote for snobs any different than minorities not voting for racists? I mean a top Democratic campaign manger tweeted yesterday that he hates low SES whites.

                https://twitter.com/Mitch_Stewart/status/757707398161268736

                Uneducated whites are keeping @realDonaldTrump at his current numbers. Stupid white people are the worst. #mitchfacts— Mitch Stewart (@Mitch_Stewart) July 25, 2016

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                  • You do know that not all WWC share you hatred of upper class libs?

                    Seems like most them hate them more than me; I’m still going to vote for HRC most of WWC isn’t…

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                • The fact that trump will piss of the food snobs by serving well done steak at state dinners makes voting for him very tempting….

                  How is working class whites not wanting to vote for snobs any different than minorities not voting for racists?

                  Um… because one is voting against someone that might likely support policy harmful to people of your race, and the other is voting for people because you have a similar taste in food?

                  Because it’s no different from asking how voting against someone who wants to ban private Christian schools is any different from voting for someone who liked the Blue Devils going into last year’s Final Four?

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                  • Um… because one is voting against someone that might likely support policy harmful to people of your race, and the other is voting for people because you have a similar taste in food?

                    If someone hate the WWC class then it’s reasonable to believe that they will support policies that harm it.

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                    • And that’s what you’re getting from someone liking their steaks well done, is it?

                      Is this like that arugula thing from a few years ago, where I was supposed to attach political bona fides to produce selection?

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                      • The culture war pervades everything.

                        Nobody cares if you like black olives or if you hate black olives.

                        But the second that Hillary Clinton says that America has *ALWAYS* enjoyed black olives as part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and Donald Trump asks “don’t those people who like black olives just piss you off?”, we’ll see things change.

                        Suddenly we will see people deliberately eating black olives and making a show of it and posting it to youtube. We will see others posting selfies of how they went to the grocery store and ripped the labels off of cans of black olives. We will see people screaming at each other about the relative importance of olives.

                        It’s not about the steak.

                        It has never, ever been about the steak.

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                        • Oh, and I forgot the point I was building to:

                          Someone like me, who has always hated the taste of olives (green, black, pimento, garlic stuffed, whatever) is suddenly in a situation where it becomes something *MEANINGFUL* when I say that I don’t like black olives.

                          “Oh, you’re one of those people who don’t like black olives?”
                          “No, I just don’t like black olives.”

                          I’m in a weird place where my not eating an olive means something.

                          When it never, ever, would have come up before the olives got embroiled in this dumb example.

                          It’s not about the steak.

                          It has never, ever been about the steak.

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                      • And that’s what you’re getting from someone liking their steaks well done, is it?

                        Is this like that arugula thing from a few years ago, where I was supposed to attach political bona fides to produce selection?

                        Do you think there are reasons other than hatred why someone would prefer a less done steak?

                        I don’t care how they like their steak what I object to is they’re making fun of people who don’t share their snobby tastes. Food snobs can’t stand anyone who has different tastes than them , they can’t believe that different people have different taste they believe that their taste are they only legitimate ones, that’s what I objecting too I’m sick of jerks who make fun of people who’s taste aren’t “sophisticated” enough.

                        And I strongly object to a former high level Clinton staffer saying that low SES white are “the worst”. How much press would it get if Corey Lewandowski said:

                        Blacks are keeping HillaryClinton at his current numbers. Stupid black people are the worst.

                        But since Mitch Stewart went after low SES whites and not blacks almost no one is covering it.

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                    • Wait, preferring steak that isn’t well-done is a class marker now?

                      I thought high SES liberals ate, like, gluten-free artisanal organic beet salad and shit. I guess I need to update my stereotypes!

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                      • Wait, preferring steak that isn’t well-done is a class marker now?

                        Yes! The higher you go on the socio-economic ladder the more rare people like they’re meat done (not that poor people eat much steak but they do eat hamburger), I suspect it has to do with the quality of meat that they can afford buy.

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                  • Of course, it’s different, but those differences can compress to near nothing quite easily.

                    There is a lesson that progressives ought to learn from this election (whether they will, I don’t know). When you continually bundle political preferences with aesthetic tastes and cultural and class signifiers, there is going to be a backlash.

                    We could argue all day and all night about whether the backlash is warranted or justified or even worth paying attention to, but nonetheless, the backlash exists and could have been avoided.

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                        • , , , et al.

                          A criticism of one group is not an endorsement of the other.

                          The extent to which you use the bad things about the other side to gloss over or justify the bad things about your side is the extent to which you squander the opportunity to make yourself stronger.

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                          • So the backlash argument applies to everybody. Yeah i agree. But to extent its just a version of saying that every bodies worst arguments will create ammo for the other side. No giant amalgamation of people like “the left” or “the right” actually does anything. Think of it more like a big market; all sorts of people say and do a variety of different things. Some become more popular due to fashion or whatever. Some of the group don’t even know what the other parts of the group are doing.

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                          • — If I have two friends who both did the same thing. I know they both did it. They know they both did it. But I limit my criticism to one. While logically I’ve said nothing false, my choice of targets does communicate something.

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                            • , you may very well be the first person to accude me of limiting my criticism.

                              But to extent its just a version of saying that every bodies worst arguments will create ammo for the other side.

                              No. It’s not about ammo for the other side. It’s about questioning your priors in an effort have the best ideas.

                              If you guys are really deeply committed to playing this as a team sport. Fantastic. More power to you. Just don’t assume that everyone sees the world the way that you do.

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                                • Zero sum? Libertarians like to note their success with gay marriage and a slight lessening in the drug war. But what about the horrible push back you guys are causing among SoCon’s. Or is that part all on liberals? Who have you screwed over by gay marriage?

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                                  • The SoCons are so angry, so empowered, the GOP nominated a twice divorced guy that runs gambling operations who said Caitlyn Jenner can use whatever restroom she wants to in his office building .

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                                    • Not sure of your point. The SoCon’s are truly royally pissed. Only partially because they have been getting lip service from the R’s with precious few results. It seems like SC’s are either sitting it out or fine with a morally compromised strongman as long as he is on their side.

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                              • We all have POV’s; you do to. You seem to think you are pointing our team behaviors without seeing your own. I don’t disagree there will be pushback agasint liberal gains. But let take the pushback idea a bit farther.

                                SJW’s are not the most popular peeps around here for some good reasons. They verge on intolerance, excessive performitive outrage and tons’o’name calling. But they are just pushing back against racism. Would anyone doubt there used to be lots of racism or sexism or bigotry against gays. Bigots can’t just expect to be bigots without push back. They make their value judgments and tastes the paramount so they should have bet there would be push back. In fact any move in one direction will always generate some push back.

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                                  • My point about SJW’s was to take the “push back” argument into a different place. Does it still work there? Don’t know why it shouldn’t’. There can be all sorts of push back against all sorts of things. In fact both the right and left and everybody else has pushed back and likely pushed others to push back.

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                                    • Let’s try this again:

                                      When you bundle political preferences with a certain set of aesthetic tastes and cultural signifiers, you are going to get a backlash from those outside of that cultural and aesthetic bubble. This is especially the case when your strategy involves actively scapegoating the folks outside of that aesthetic bubble.

                                      That means, when conservatives bundle their case for small government and freer markets with an explicit focus on white Christian native-born Americans, it calls into question how much conservatives really care about the former and inevitably leads to a backlash from those outside the latter bubble and a general suspicion of the whole bundle.

                                      And when progressives bundle their case for activist government and increasing tolerance with an implicit support for a certain kind of SWPL sensibility and an explicit scorn for those outside of that bubble (and if you don’t know what I mean, read a few posts of The Borowitz Report), then there is going to be a backlash and a general suspicion of the whole bundle.

                                      The reason that I didn’t include conservatives in the original comment, is because, one, it was a response to an ongoing conversation and, two, conservatives already failed this test.

                                      I think that what I am saying here is a pretty reasonable and non-controversial point of view, but for whatever reason, y’all chose to project all of your partisan craziness. And like I said, that’s fine. That’s your thing. Just don’t assume that everyone shares it.

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                                      • This honestly might be the most ridiculous thread that I’ve been involved in all my time commenting here. Y’all are trying way too hard to get fired up about a pretty obvious statement.

                                        A and in all the responses here, no one has actually offered a substantive critique of what I said. It’s just a bunch of how dare you say something negative about my side!

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                              • So progressives need to learn all sorts of lessons about what creates backlash and how to avoid it, but when your advice to progressives causes backlash, well, that’s on them?

                                Sounds legit.

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                                • I think the problem with these “backlash” theories, which we keep hearing from and others is simply that — I mean, the right-wing thought bubble has been firmly in place for decades. It began with Limbaugh, whose show went national in the late 80’s. Then we get Fox News, which launched mid-90’s. Since then, this stuff had gone deeper and deeper and deeper. It’s self-sustaining. It requires very little input from liberals to run.

                                  Which is to say, in a nation of 300 million, a sufficiently dedicated batch of right-wing dipshits will be able to find, manipulate, and invent a constant stream of “outrage” regardless of what the median liberal does.

                                  And yes “both sides do it,” but we don’t do it the same way. The liberal “thought bubble” leads to Sanders, who loses the primary and generates a minor little shitstorm. The right-wing “thought bubble” generates Trumpism.

                                  To my view, this proves that the “BSDI” argument does not carry equal weight, and we should move on from that.

                                  That said, I don’t think this all “media generated nonsense.” There have been real economic disruptions. Whatever you think of “PC culture,” and the poor, sad white guys who can no longer use the “n-word,” there is also the fact that they cannot find jobs.

                                  The “PC” stuff is mostly just Fox and Limbaugh being assholes. The jobs stuff — to me that seems real.

                                  Trump is not going to help the “WWC” find jobs. He’s an incompetent blowhard who will make everything worse.

                                  Anyway, we can go on and on and on repeating Fox News talking points about “PC culture” and the “SJWs”. Whatever. Those people exist. White power also exists. Which group saw their favored candidate nominated?

                                  The thing is, I doubt the average “angry white guy” actually knows that many “SJWs”. He sees them on TV.

                                  Most people, it seems, understand the world through a stream of anecdotes selected by those with an agenda, in order to prove a point. If you want to critique this, you should look first at the selection process.

                                  If you are the sort who says, “Well, the darn PC culture has generated Trumpism” — well you’ve revealed much about your “anecdote stream,” plus a remarkable ability to ignore the effects of the media.

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                                    • — Honestly dude, I think something is wrong with you right now. Like, you seem to lack clarity.

                                      What I mean is, it seems as if you’re stuck in some bad cognitive rut, as if your thinking patterns are off. I dunno. You’re smart enough to see that you’re slinging empty strawmen, just word games with no connection to reality.

                                      The other possibility is you’ve decided to relentlessly troll me or something. The thing is, I honestly think better of you.

                                      *shrug*

                                      If you’re trolling me, please stop.

                                      In any case, I find this “new Jaybird” very irritating and not-at-all insightful. I preferred the old Jaybird. Make of that what you will.

                                      #####

                                      Fox News exists. Their media stream exists. People watch them. Those people exist. Their brains exist. This is a material process.

                                      Dialectic methods are cognitive heuristics, which in some cases can help us negotiate the tension between rules-oriented thinking the the complexity of the world. They also “exist,” in the sense that people can use them and sometimes get good results. I certainly think that dialectic techniques are superior to rigid, rules-bound thinking. However, I don’t think they’re a magic path to deep truth. Certainly your brain can generate a bullshit “synthesis” as easily as a good one.

                                      In other words, dialectic transforms two-imperfect-maps-of-the-territory into one-imperfect-map-of-the-territory. Will the new map be better? Probably sometimes. Depends on the initial two maps. Depends on how clever you are.

                                      There is no royal road to insight. I remain, however, an empiricist.

                                      So anyway, I really don’t understand what you are driving at.

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                                      • If I seem to lack clarity, perhaps you are focusing on positions that are not mine.

                                        I think the problem with these “backlash” theories, which we keep hearing from Jaybird and others

                                        Mine isn’t a “backlash” theory. You seem to think that it is and argue against it as if it were. I don’t think that your counter-arguments to arguments that I am not making are particularly interesting.

                                        This presents to you as me lacking clarity and you attacking me for not having clarity.

                                        Hell, there’s a lot of stuff in here where you’re arguing against positions that I don’t hold but you can tell that I don’t agree with you so you’re going to argue against the position that you seem to wish I held (or that somebody here did, because you’ve got this counter-argument that you’ve been wanting to give for a while and, hey, next best thing is right here).

                                        I get that.

                                        But it still doesn’t mean that I’m giving the argument that you wish you could be arguing against instead.

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                                        • — It’s entirely plausible I am misunderstanding you. That happens sometimes. All I can say is, if I am misunderstanding you, I am not doing it on purpose.

                                          But this:

                                          Hegel was problematic, don’t you think? What is “synthesis” but the thesis co-opting and effectively silencing the antithesis?

                                          That’s nonsense, barely more coherent that “colorless green ideas…” You don’t believe it. You can’t think I believe it. What the fuck are you even typing?

                                          If you want to say that I misunderstood you, say, “You misunderstood me. Here is what I mean…”

                                          Or not. You don’t owe me your time. Life will go on if I misunderstand you. But typing literal nonsense at me is just obnoxious.

                                          Even if I misunderstand you, what I am saying to you is what I really believe. It describes, as best I can, the world as I see it.

                                          You really have been weird lately. I dunno. My perception is not perfect, but something seems off. I honestly have a feeling you’re in a bad place.

                                          Whatever. I think you are, on the whole, over sustained periods of time, a good person, even if you are annoying the crap out of me right now. So maybe that’s worth something.

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                              • — Wait, what “team sport” are we talking about? The American two-party system?

                                I can’t do much about that.

                                Are you saying “be objective”?

                                I do my best, but part of that is understanding the political climate, including our two party system.

                                Are we talking about “team LGBT”, or “team trans”?

                                I don’t really have a choice here. Whatever my feelings on the matter, I am assigned to “team sicko queer,” and I have to deal with that somehow.

                                So when we get down to “teams,” one “team” has a pretty decent track record over the past decade (or two) of respecting my human dignity. The other “team” has prioritized the interests of a vocal minority who hates me.

                                This is not my fault. I can do little to change it. That said, I’m pretty committed to helping the first team win, the ones who respect my basic dignity.

                                If the Republican party (or some potential future replacement; I dunno) changes their tack on LGBT rights, I’d be willing to look at them. To me, the ideal US political “situation” would be an interaction between technocratic liberalism and rights-based libertarianism.

                                That is not the world I find myself in.

                                So anyway, which “team sport” are you talking about?

                                For the record, I consider the whole “I’m above the fray” discourse to be mostly a form of posturing. I’m not suggesting that everyone is always maximally “partisan,” nor that some folks can’t be (in some sense) less partisan. But still. There are substantial issues. They can potentially make a material difference in my ability to live in this world. In other words, I’m fighting for good reasons.

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                                • I honestly have no idea how you’ve gotten any of that from any of my comments on this thread. There is a whole lot of projection mixed with a whole lot defensiveness going on here.

                                  As I said, if you want to play for a team, more power to you. It doesn’t bother me one bit. Just don’t project your issues onto me. Or do. I don’t really care about that either. It’s the internet. I assume that’s what most people are going to do.

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                                  • — I dunno. When there is a failure to communicate, how much is your fault and how much is the other person’s fault?

                                    I’ll say this, if multiple people are failing to understand you, then work out the odds.

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                                    • I just think it’s interesting that someone who is offering advice about the importance of avoiding a supposedly predictable form of backlash didn’t frame their advice in a way that would avoid a different, but obviously predictable, form of backlash.

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                    • — So we should stop describing ourselves as “latte liberals” — oh wait!

                      Look, I hate to go BSDI on you, but seriously. BSDI.

                      Words like “effete” and “sissification” are routinely used on Fox News and similar sites, and certainly show up in the “street level” discourse. I frequently encounter suggestions that I am somehow “weak” — often by pudgy soft guys who have never turned a wrench in their life.

                      I guess a bunch of conservatives were Tweeting dumb shit about the “all gender” restroom at the DNC convention, like it’s just the silliest. But I guess I should not read that as contempt.

                      But of course, it is. They hold me in open contempt. But more, expressing contempt for me is “goto” joke for them. I am a frequent topic of mockery.

                      I don’t know what to do about this cultural divide. It is obviously dysfunctional. On the other hand, for all our flaws on the left, our cities are indeed “meccas” for LGBTQ people trying to escape truly abusive shitholes, communities that hate them and try to destroy them. This is real.

                      It is one thing for me, sitting in my posh Boston apartment, to slag “hillbillies,” but for my friend Kim, who actually lives in hick-town North Carolina, who cannot afford to move, who is terrified of all the attention and bullshit — well I cut her some slack when she drags those people. She’s gotta deal with them and their naked, unabashed hatred. She fears not insult, but violence.

                      I dunno. How should I feel about the Bible Belt?

                      After all, no one is actually going to stop you from cooking your steak howeverthefuck you want.

                      This keeps coming up, but for all the manifest dipshittery among the “Bernie” set, and for all the SJWs ranting on campus, and for all the smug ninnies who care about your steak — well you fuckers nominated a preposterous jackass like Trump.

                      That’s — you know — kinda stupid.

                      #####

                      There is this constant refrain where each side blames their extremes on the other side. Which fine. There is a dynamic there. But Trump is not extreme. Not exactly. Something else is going on.

                      I dunno. The right talks a lot about responsibility, but they suck at it. Like, take responsibility the fact the R’s have become the party of “angry white guys.” You can make endless excuses for “angry white guys,” or you can own the fact that “angry white guys” are adults who are responsible for what they have become.

                      On the other hand, were they created by “the left” or were they created by Fox News? — cuz trust me, If we “SJWs” fail to produce, over any particular news cycle, some sufficient outrage, then Fox will surely invent outrage. (To be accurate, that was invented by a group called “PJI,” but was uncritically reported by Fox and others.)

                      Like, there is this thing where we on the left are assigned moral agency and moral responsibility, whereas “angry white guys” are treated as a force of nature without self control. Like, Fox just cannot help by lie about a teenage girl. Their bigoted viewership just cannot help believing it.

                      I mean, I get it. Social forces exist. But if those forces inexorably create “angry white guys,” then perhaps they just as inexorably create “fulminating SJWs” and “aggressive BLM activists,” and so I shall deflect any criticisms of the left by pointing at the jerks on the right who created us.

                      Or something.

                      We can go back and forth on this. You say, “Your side made fun of my steak.”

                      To which I can say, “Your side got in my face on the subway, called me a faggot, and then threatened to cut my throat.” (True story.)

                      So yeah. It’s a fun game.

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                    • “When you continually bundle political preferences with aesthetic tastes and cultural and class signifiers, there is going to be a backlash.”

                      Sure as (pardon the expression) Hell seems to be working for evangelicals, who are pretty numerous in the first place, but still have about double the influence the actual body count would justify.

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                      • seems to be working for evangelicals, who are pretty numerous in the first place, but still have about double the influence the actual body count would justify

                        Other than psychic validation of very visibly being sucked up to, especially in Iowa starting about two years before each presidential election, I’m not so sure about that. I mean, if there is one thing that appears to have gotten evangelicals uniquely spun up (i.e. compared to other demographic/pressure groups) over the last decade, it’s various moves toward first class citizenship for LBGT (plus Q to the degree that they appear to be visibly LGT, especially GT), especially SSM and commercial antidiscrimination.

                        How’s that working out for the evangelicals, do you think? I mean, even if, FSM help us, Trump is indeed elected, do you really think he’s going to waste his much of his epic historical unique abilities on rolling things back in the corporate world?

                        n.b. I’m not trying to be complacent, and I’m not trying to minimize the greater marginal impact on LGBTs of the general Overton window dragging, but compare some alternate world in which somehow Santorum were Prez.

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            • You think the only options are being motivated by conservative principles or being racist. It’s impossible that they’re sick of upper class liberals looking down their noses at them. Why is it so hard for anyone to believe that people dislike high SES liberals without being motivated secret racism?

              There are all sorts of responses to this comment, but the most obvious one is:

              You do actually realize that when the conservative movement started, your completely-wrong mythology about how how high SES liberals are always looking down at people didn’t even exist, right? That the Democratic party was, at that point, full of union members, hippies, and poor black people?

              Shorter Dand: People voted for Reagan and got the conservative movement off to a rousing start because they were sick of hipsters in coffee houses mocking them on Twitter.

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              • your completely-wrong mythology about how how high SES liberals are always looking down

                It’s not completely wrong? I have to put up with it every day; you live in rural Georgia where there are virtually no liberals of any kind I live in Chicago, a city chalk full of SES, I’ve worked service sector jobs where my customers were high SES and they treated me like shit. You have no business telling me these people don’t exist when you have never been around them. Why is it so hard for anyone here to admit that liberal snobs exist? No one here would ever tell Veronica that she doesn’t really have to transphobia yet when I complain about the way high SES treat me people claim that I’m making it up.

                people didn’t even exist, right?

                That’s flat out wrong Adli Stevenson was frequently called an elitist in 1952 and the term limousine liberal was coined by New York Mayoral candidate Mario Procaccino in 1969.

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                • Let me go on record, if only so you feel a little less lost in the wilderness, as saying that prejudice based on socioeconomic status does exist. I encounter it regularly, encountered it when I was a little kid, encountered it in middle school, high school, college and while working various service sector jobs. It’s been part of my experience my whole life, usually from people who don’t realize I’m “them” and not “us” – in many ways. I work in a SLAC, I see it expressed in front of me at least once a month. (It’s part of why when I got a tattoo, I made it a BIG tattoo right on the upper part of my chest – I’ve noticed less confusion among jerks about which “us”es I belong to once I got it.)

                  But I constantly see you accusing people of being, or lumping everyone into one big giant group as “SES liberals” who don’t give a shit about the working class, when the term applies to only a fraction of the people you are talking about / to. That doesn’t help anybody. Well, maybe it helps you vent your frustration, and I’ll concede that has some use. But you’re throwing verbal bombs at the world, hoping they hit at least some of the people who deserve it – meanwhile the people who most deserve it see you as beneath their notice, so the people you end up tangling with are the ones you’re misapprehending (maybe not 100 percent, misapprehending – but largely so). It’s not *useful* to do that, and I find it baffling to watch. What’s the deal?

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                  • I did that to David in the past and I shouldn’t have, but I didn’t accuse anyone on this blog of being a High SES liberal in this thread, I merely suggested that anger at high SES liberals and not racism is a large part of what motivates low SES whites to identify as conservative.

                    I will try my best to avoid directing my comments at anyone personally in the future.

                    ETA: And my belief comes from my personal experience the reason I was a libertarian for a decent amount of time was because I equated liberalism with the liberal snobs that I had to put up with on a regular basis, I now call myself a populist.

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              • I mean really how could you not know about All in the Family, a TV show that presented liberals as sophisticated white collar workers and Conservatives as blue collar loser that was on during the Nixon administration?

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                • I used to watch it every week. Did you too, or was it before your time?

                  Anyway, I’m sure Norman Lear intended Archie Bunker to be a figure of fun, but to a lot of the audience, he was more sympathetic than his daughter and son-in-law. He had a job, where the Meathead was a perpetual student and Gloria apparently did nothing, he supported everybody, even as they insulted and condescended to him, and he often showed that under his surface prejudices he had a good heart.

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                  • to a lot of the audience, he was more sympathetic than his daughter and son-in-law.

                    …um, I’m pretty sure that was the entire point of the show.

                    Archie Bunker was deliberately set up as a guy with a lot of prejudices and assumptions about society, but the second he saw someone in trouble, he’d immediately help them (While griping), and he’d quickly revise those prejudices and assumptions on an *individual* basis, even while continuing to hold them for people and groups he didn’t know.

                    Meathead, meanwhile, was often *technically* correct, but as he was a stubborn as Archie and *didn’t* have a heart of gold, he came off as relatively unsympathetic. I.e., he was *how people like Archie already thought of the hippies*, as freeloaders who were just there to criticize and didn’t actually care about that stuff.

                    The show wasn’t people-like-Archie-bashing, it was literally the opposite. The entire point of the show was to get viewers who were like Archie into identifying with Archie, into identifying with that entire world-view…so they’d identify with his changes of heart about his prejudices. The show is one of the more clever social engineering experiments.

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                • I was going to make a comment about Archie Bunker earlier, in one of the political threads. The notable think about Bunker is that Lear made him a nativist WASP and ostensibly a conservative, but in real life Bunker would have been a second, possible third generation immigrant whose name would have only been Bunker, because it had been shortened from something like Bunkowicz by a grandparent. And Bunker would have most likely been a Democrat, but he would have jumped to Reagan, if not in 1980, at least by 1984. He wouldn’t have much love for the rich, especially financiers, or much interest in free market economics. And he would have had no problem with big government interventions so long as those interventions supported the mythology of national greatness and were carried out for the benefit of the deserving member of the working class. He would have been a populist.

                  Sound like anybody around now?

                  We are so used to telling ourselves these political fairy tales about one group having always been “on the right side of history,” we forget that real life is much more complicated.

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                • I mean really how could you not know about All in the Family, a TV show that presented liberals as sophisticated white collar workers and Conservatives as blue collar loser that was on during the Nixon administration?

                  What ‘sophisticated white collar workers’ are you talking about? Seriously, what are you talking about? That isn’t a good description of All in the Family at all!

                  There were a lot of ‘liberals’ on that show, but they were usually racial minorities or women or Catholics or Jews or LGBT or other people that Archer interacted with.

                  George Jefferson is technically white collar, I guess, but sophisticated he wasn’t!

                  Maude? She does, indeed, fit the bill…and was in two whole episodes.

                  There was basically one smugly superior liberal character on All in the Family: Michael Stivic, aka, Meathead, aka, the guy who didn’t have a job.

                  Latter, the foil was Murray Klein, a Jewish liberal, a guy who theoretically could be considered ‘white collar’ because he owned half a bar…except, of course, Archie owned the other half at that point.

                  Heck, Archie wasn’t even really ‘blue collar’ since he lost his job in season 7 and mortgaged his house in season 8 to buy half of said bar.

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              • You know I’m really sick of people here acting as though my lived experience is something fable I got from Rush Limbaugh. Why won’t the people acknowledge that my experiences are real? Has anyone ever considered that liberal elite tropes carry water with the public because they based on a good deal of truth?

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  4. While not likely intentional — because attributing any amount of intentionality to this ass is too generous — it immediately stood out that he initially said, “Where are the contributions…?”, as if to imply that zero exist, and then said, “Where did [they] contribute more?” It was an almost immediate shifting of the goal posts.

    “Non-whites have never contributed anything! I mean, whites have just contributed the most.”

    And while that seems to temper his statement, I think it actually makes it worse. Because we aren’t just evaluating the contributions of different groups. We are using their contributions as an admission fee to the GOP. “You haven’t contributed anything! You can’t come in. Come back when you’ve done something,” at least leaves non-whites A CHANCE! But, “We are only letting in the people who’ve done THE MOST and, well, by golly, that just happens to be white people so don’t even bother coming around,” doesn’t even leave the door open.

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    • Yep.

      Even if the white supremacist view that there is something intrinsically better about the average white person than the average non-white ends up being validated, it needn’t mean that non-whites have no role to play anywhere with anything. Basketball teams don’t just refuse to look at anyone under 6’6″.

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  5. This stuff used to only be said by cranks in back corners or in strange newsletters.

    Now people are saying it on television.

    A lot of the safeguards that it was a lot of work to put up seem to be weakening and weakening very, very badly in a very, very short period of time.

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    • I’m not sure if the filters were ever as strong as we thought they were. Any sort of filter was really hiding the stuff under the rug rather than dealing with it. A substantial portion of Americans always saw the United States as a White and Protestsnt country. Latter Catholics were included. What we are seeing now is this assertion being invoked vigorously rather than implicitly.

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      • It’s certainly hard to explain, for example, Pat Buchanan if we believe that the filters were, until recently, stronger (unless the theory is that the filters suddenly strengthened in the mid-90s?).

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        • These comparisons are difficult to make. There was no MSNBC back then. There was no Talking Points Media to select out something that someone said. There was no Twitter to ensure that it got viewed by everyone.

          In other words, if someone did want to say something offensive in the 90s, they had fewer opportunities to do so, and there was less of an opportunity for it to get subsequent viewings after the fact.

          I don’t personally remember people talking like this in the 90s, even in the Buchanan camp.

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          • Really? This kind of thing passed (and still passes) for conventional wisdom with a lot of people I grew up around (not just Buchananites, either, though he certainly had some support). The phrasing is sometimes more delicate and sometimes less, of course.

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            • Heck, read most history textbooks (art history, military history, whatever) – it will be a history of stuff done by white people in Europe and the Americas.

              History of stuff done by non-white people is “special” history – “African History”, “Art History of the Far East”. Plain old “history” history is white people, because civilization is white people, and non-white people are other civilizations.

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              • I always found it darkly amusing that it was the mesoamerican civilizations that got lost in what was obviously a bureaucratic misunderstanding/fight over who should teach what in my class’s two year public school world history class.

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    • Part of my technical career involved working with metastable systems. Probably because of that, I’m a believer in tipping points in social systems. The changes appear to be abrupt — in fact, things have been building for a long time. It took centuries for things to get to the point where the French Revolution “suddenly” happened. It took decades for things to get to the point where the American Civil War “suddenly” happened. For various reasons, I put the starting point for trends that created today’s “sudden” changes in the early 1980s.

      The hard part is not understanding that a social system can be metastable; the hard part is understanding what the different stable states are, what factors drive changes, and how far the drivers have to shift before the whole system cascades from one stable state to another.

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      • @michael-cain

        On the other hand, Steve King and similar people are being denounced and called out quicker than ever.

        Are these things being said more frequently or do we just have greater exposure to them? Before the Internet, Steve King would have said this in his column in a weekly newspaper that would not have much circulation outside of his congressional district in Iowa.

        Do you think that the Steve Kings and Cliven Bundy’s of the world are going to try and reassert white supremacy via a coup d’état?

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        • On the other hand, Steve King and similar people are being denounced and called out quicker than ever.

          I suppose there’s nothing to worry about, then.

          Do you think that the Steve Kings and Cliven Bundy’s of the world are going to try and reassert white supremacy via a coup d’état?

          I suspect that “White Pride” will be seen as approximately as morally interesting as “Black Pride”, “Latino Pride”, and so on.

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          • I didn’t say that there was anything to worry about. I am wondering about what can be done to roll back on civil rights that is not an armed and successful rebellion. Are there enough Cliven Bundy types to occupy and control all the major cities in the U.S.?

            Trump is clearly running a “silent majority” campaign but the demographics of this country are very different than they were in 1968.

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            • I am wondering about what can be done to roll back on civil rights that is not an armed and successful rebellion.

              Civil rights don’t *HAVE* to be rolled back, Saul.

              They just have to be subject to market pressure. To use an example that we argued here on the site: Remember a million years ago when we were discussing the so-called “apartheid schools”? In addition to that conversation, you participated in the thread here, I’m sure you’ll recall.

              If we were able to make the rest of the country’s civil rights mirror what we’ve achieved in San Francisco, would that result in the country being better off, worse off, or more or less the same?

              If the answer is “well, that’s really, really complicated…” (which I suspect it is), then I’d say that talking about needing an armed and successful rebellion to roll back civil rights is talking about the wrong stuff.

              Trump is clearly running a “silent majority” campaign but the demographics of this country are very different than they were in 1968.

              Does that help make Trump’s case or argue against it?

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            • Ah, *HERE* is the article that I was looking for.

              You ask “what can be done to roll back on civil rights that is not an armed and successful rebellion”?

              Look to the hipsters in Brooklyn for an example of what can be done to roll back on civil rights that is not an armed and successful rebellion.

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              • Yes there are a lot of issues and fights in urban school districts between newer residents who came as part of gentrification and older residents.

                I still think you are concern trolling if you think the newer residents are going to switch for the GOP and join the Steve King brigade. HRC is on path to doing better among white Americans with college degrees and being the first Democratic nominee in modern history to do so.

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                • “Yes there are a lot of issues and fights in urban school districts between newer residents who came as part of gentrification and older residents.

                  I still think you are concern trolling if you think the newer residents are going to switch for the GOP and join the Steve King brigade. HRC is on path to doing better among white Americans with college degrees and being the first Democratic nominee in modern history to do so.

                  This in a nutshell is a microcosm of the biggest problem with the ‘liberalism vs. racism’ conversations today.

                  The question of whether or not racism exists or needs to be addressed is swept aside so that the question “But does this help or hurt the Democrats chances of winning the election?” can come to the forefront.

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          • This will happen, but not until the dynamic shifts to the point where “white power” can never again mean “at night, the white men with political power put on bedsheets, burn your farm to the ground, then at noon the next day turn up to investigate and pronounce themselves baffled.”

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            • It certainly doesn’t seem to manifest itself in that way now.

              It’s more likely to use proxy after proxy after proxy and now when we have guys whose police-involved-shooting deaths are captured on video, we find ourselves noticing that the guy who held the camera keeps getting arrested later.

              No sheets required. Hell, no whites required.

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        • Saul Degraw: On the other hand, Steve King and similar people are being denounced and called out quicker than ever.

          Are they? They’re being called out and denounced by the people that never cared for them much anyway, but are they being called out and denounced in any significant way from their own “side”? (The online presence of #nevertrump a notable exception)

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  6. I mean, something really important happened in the 16th-17th centuries, and it happened mostly in Europe. That’s just true. That said, these ideas are not essentially white, nor do they “belong” to white people. After all, a brown person can learn math the same as I can. The power of empiricism and the enlightenment and “advanced” math and science — these ideas can move easily between cultures. Math works the same in India, China, and all across Africa, as it did in Northern Italy in the fifteenth century.

    So these dumb-as-fuck right-wingers, who literally think the Earth is 6,000 years old — they want to act as if they are the inheritors of this tradition, as opposed to the South Asian woman who studied material sciences?

    Blah! It’s nonsense.

    Anyone wanna see Donald fucking Trump “step up” in terms of math and science? Is he advancing the human story?

    Part of the power of science is that is can learn new things. The bible says X. Observation says Y. Welp, if we keep seeing Y, at some point we have to say Y. Place X in the dustbin.

    I don’t really care where gunpowder was invented — I mean, I care in the sense that it is part of human history. But I’m not going to point to the inventors and say, “Look, in a few thousands years the descendants [1] of these people get to act all smug about it!” Fuck that.

    The Europeans figured out how to utilize gunpowder for military domination, and they came to dominate (most of) the world. We USians are part of that story. On the whole, though, it is a pretty ugly story of naked power and brutality. It just is. This is true the way saying, “The Europeans developed modern advanced mathematics” is true. We optimized brutality. We optimized slavery and exploitation.

    Should we feel proud of this? Should we feel proud that some Italian guys got suddenly good at solving cubic polynomials, when for centuries no one else could figure it out.

    But that barking Republican nincompoop did not do that thing. From where comes his pride? What the fuck has he done?

    Measure ourselves by our advances today. Measure ourselves by our failures today. What have we done to advance science, knowledge, and understanding.

    I mean personally.

    What have we done to advance compassion, understanding, decency, kindness?

    Again, personally.

    There are aspects of (historically speaking) “white culture” that certainly should become global. There are many aspects that certainly should not. Which ones are which?

    [1] And of course, population genetics is never so simple, but anyway.

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    • The weaponization of the concept of Cultural Appropriation turns out to have unintended consequences.

      The weaponization of the concept of “I have this particular background and that gives me a certain amount of standing when it comes to discussing certain topics” turns out to have unintended consequences too.

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        • I’m more acknowledging that one of the reasons that “white people” ran things is not because they were smarter than other races, nor because they were faster, nor stronger, nor more wily.

          It was because they were better at making war. They were able to take weapons and use them to completely destroy their enemies and assimilate the ones they didn’t kill.

          Memetic weapons might have taken a couple of generations to figure out… but, at the end of the day, a lance is a pike is a halberd is a bill-hook is a bec-de-corbin.

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          • Memetic weapons might have taken a couple of generations to figure out… but, at the end of the day, a lance is a pike is a halberd is a bill-hook is a bec-de-corbin.

            But the “memetic weapons” you’re talking about[1] are way newer than the ideas expressed in Steve King’s tirade. You have the consequence–whether intended or not–preceding the cause.

            [1] Leaving aside the rather bizarre notion that white people are innately superior warriors.

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            • You have the consequence–whether intended or not–preceding the cause.

              So maybe it’s merely something as simple as antibiotic-resistant strains of particular thoughts.

              Leaving aside the rather bizarre notion that white people are innately superior warriors.

              This is not what I said. It has nothing to do with “innate”.
              I described what they did and how that affected their place in the hierarchy that remained after they won. Not what they *WERE*. It has nothing to do with what people “are” (let alone “innately”).

              Just with what they do. Or did.

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              • So maybe it’s merely something as simple as antibiotic-resistant strains of particular thoughts.

                Or that it never really went away, and various shifts in (among other things) communication media and the way we structure our social networks allow it to be visible in places it wasn’t before, or shift the incentives for saying these things openly so that they’re more favorable.

                This is not what I said. It has nothing to do with “innate”.
                I described what they did and how that affected their place in the hierarchy that remained after they won. Not what they *WERE*. It has nothing to do with what people “are” (let alone “innately”).

                If it has nothing to do with what white people are, why would we expect any connection between the supposedly contemporary white mastery of “memetic weapons” to the military dominance that made European imperialism and domination possible in centuries past?

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                • Or that it never really went away

                  God help us if a vaccine-resistant version of Polio or Smallpox ever shows up.

                  various shifts in (among other things) communication media and the way we structure our social networks allow it to be visible in places it wasn’t before

                  If we’re seeing it in places where we never would have looked before (due to not having the tools to do so), that should be a big indicator of a big problem around the corner… like “we’ve started finding pockets of staphylococcus epidermidis in parts of the hospital we’ve never been able to test before” kind of big problems.

                  shift the incentives for saying these things openly so that they’re more favorable

                  Hence the analogy to resistance.

                  If it has nothing to do with what white people are, why would we expect any connection between the supposedly contemporary white mastery of “memetic weapons” to the military dominance that made European imperialism and domination possible in centuries past?

                  To the extent that study of Western Civ teaches, however inadvertently, the importance of strategy, tactics, and logistics to the people who get hip deep in it, it might be of interest to see who is doing the most intensive study of it… and whether there are systems in place to prevent others from studying these same topics.

                  Don’t look at what they actually are. Just look at who is arguing that we need to study the history of war (and to whom) and who is arguing that we should, instead, study other things.

                  And see who is doing really, really well because of this. And who isn’t doing so hot because of it.

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                  • If we’re seeing it in places where we never would have looked before (due to not having the tools to do so), that should be a big indicator of a big problem around the corner… like “we’ve started finding pockets of staphylococcus epidermidis in parts of the hospital we’ve never been able to test before” kind of big problems.

                    Really, it’s an indicator of a big problem that’s here right now which we simply hadn’t detected before. If that particular hypothesis is correct–it may not be.

                    My point is that there are a myriad of possible explanations and contributing factors to why King is saying the sorts of things he said, when a Congressman twenty years ago (presumably) wouldn’t have said them.

                    I’ve noticed a pattern in a lot of places to try to single out the behavior of a segment of the left on social media and college campuses as a major contribution to awful behavior of, say, right-wing members of Congress. It seems like a very counter-intuitive place to look for explanations, and as if to confirm my intuition, I rarely see anything like an actual connection offered beyond suggestions of hypocrisy[1] and the like.

                    [1] Talk about explaining a variable with a constant!

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                    • One thing that I think is contributing is that, when I was in college in the old days (way back when people still handed in hand-written essays in First Year Composition), the mainstream political discussions on campus ran the whole spectrum from “Dukakis is a good choice!” to “If you’d actually *READ* Marx, you’d see that Communism had never been tried.”

                      There were College Republicans but they were mostly invisible except for the big College Republicans vs. NORML debate.

                      Now? The internet allows for the mainstream to be bypassed entirely.

                      And Conservativism and Reaction and general adolescent contrarianism has finally found an outlet among The Youth and, wouldn’t you know it, Punk Rock remains just as much of a middle finger to the established order as it has always been.

                      At least, I *HOPE* it’s a punk rock middle finger.

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                      • I think everything you said is a plausible explanation for the incredibly irksome rise of the alt-right.

                        I just don’t think it’s very likely related to Trumpism, which is heavily focused on older people and people without college degrees. Why would they be reacting to Tumblr spats and campus culture wars?

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                        • Fwiw, it may not make much sense but i’ve seen so many conservatives who are obsessed and freaked out by people and places they never come in contact with. I have a cousin who seem permanently in a snit about participation trophies. He’s in his 30’s or something and doesn’t have kids, but participation trophies are at the root of something really bad. Hardly anyone who screams about college kids is actually a college student or teacher. It is a thing.

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                          • That could be, but then it’s gotta be mediated by something–FOX News, emails, FB, their kids coming home from college, whatever. I think there’s gotta be more to it than political correctness gone mad, especially since political correctness went made 20 years ago, when I was in college.

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                      • Heh, I went to a small liberal arts college (that was once high on the lists of good values for your education dollar, then the trustees went about fixing that in both directions). I took the (listed as Philosophy) course on Marxism(*). Everyone came out with a better understanding of it, and much, much less enthusiastic about it. I don’t believe this is a coincidence.

                        (*) Since I always planned to specialize in grad school, I took the absolute minimum possible number of courses in my major subject, ending up with three minors and almost a fourth.

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                • SSC did a much better job of explaining what I think I was grasping at.

                  Because of course he would have.

                  I am pretty sure there was, at one point, such a thing as western civilization. I think it involved things like dancing around maypoles and copying Latin manuscripts. At some point Thor might have been involved. That civilization is dead. It summoned an alien entity from beyond the void which devoured its summoner and is proceeding to eat the rest of the world.

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      • — I’m not sure if smug “anti-SJ” grousing really helps much, but you do you.

        Social power exists. Like, this is part of objective reality the same as anything else. So yeah, black people have a right to be annoyed when they are actively marginalized, but then white people happily incorporate their cultural artifacts into mass culture productions that benefit white people more than black people. It’s a crappy situation.

        Which is all to say, cultural appropriation has always been one of the moist tricky aspects of social justice discourse. The problem is, it seems rather impossible to break it down to simple rules.

        I mean, it’s nice to have simple rules, like “hey white folks, don’t use the n-word.” That’s a nice simple rule.

        So blah. The problem is hard. Hard problems are hard. “Social stuff” doesn’t always break down nicely that way.

        On the other hand, butt-hurt white dudes remain butt-hurt white dudes. Privilege is very real, with manifest differences in perception and power. It was never going to be easy to analyze this, understand it, apply it, and so on. If was never going to be nice and cooperative with zero hurt feelings.

        You have a role in this. Play it. If you wanna play counterproductive smug “anti-SJ” white dude, welp, have fun. That will be you.

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        • When I watch the left busy doing a circlejerk, Can I be the one throwing gasoline on the left’s flames? Or is that only allowed for trannies and suchnot? Or, of course, paid personnel? (And the people paying ain’t your friends).

          [Sorry, nice Kimmi will be back later]

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          • — Must you use the word “tranny”? You understand that it is a reclaimed slur, right?

            I know I use it, but only about myself. You’ll almost never see me refer to another trans woman that way. You should certainly steer clear, unless you’re playing at being an edgelord ninny or something.

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        • It’s not an attempt to be “smug” as much as noticing what’s going on.

          And saying “hey, I get to punch up and you don’t get to punch down!” will quickly and efficiently result in a bunch of new definitions of which directions are which and the only people who seem to be surprised by this are the people who think that they discovered a new and fun rule that will allow them to hit their opponents without being hit back.

          For what it’s worth, not noticing what’s going on will make it happen sooner.

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          • — People don’t always try to be smug, but they achieve smugness all the same.

            It is a matter of insight and focus. The thing is, you’re not telling me anything I am not very well aware of. It’s a difficult topic and something I’m invested in dealing with. I’ve paid social costs for this. So it goes.

            Your insight isn’t false. It’s clumsy. Furthermore, it comes across as unhelpful lecturing. After all, I actively and regularly try to find a decent course through the “appropriation conversation,” and it’s a shitshow with tons of hard feeling and oceans of legitimate grievances — and honestly I see no signs that you are particularly sensitive to the contours of this topic.

            In other words, this is very much -splaining.

            I don’t mean “-splaining” in the vituperative-Twitter-rant sense of “anytime some person-type-X speaks and some person-type-Y disagrees it is automatically Y-splaining.” I mean it in its proper sense, when person-type-X provides an unwelcome lecture to person-type-Y on stuff person-type-Y already understands very well.

            It is tempting to blame racism on “uppity black people.” It is tempting to blame “right-wing blowback” on overzealous gays. It is tempting to say, “Well if only the ranty SJW’s hadn’t been so mean, then change would have happened at a nice slow pace, totes comfortable for white-str8-etc. folks. Wouldn’t that have been nicer? This is all so unpleasant. Terrible SJWs. They created Trump.” Etc. etc. etc.

            It seems inevitable that social justice progress will be met with resistance. I see no reason to think that you have the magic formula to compute the perfect optimal pace. Nor do I think social change even could work that way, cuz the “centralized control doesn’t work” thing. It was always going to be chaotic. There will always be too much anger and appeals for wisdom and some group throwing rocks and some other group pleading calm — this is how it is.

            There will always be a set of “concerned white/str8/whatever folks” who will blame hatred on those who fight back against hatred, sometimes in dysfunctional ways. “They’re asking for too much, pushing too hard, of course the ‘bad guys’ were gonna fight back.”

            If you wanna be that guy, then be that guy. But then you’re that guy.

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            • and honestly I see no signs that you are particularly sensitive to the contours of this topic.

              It’s more that I’m particularly sensitive to where I see the contours of the topic ending up tomorrow.

              This means that, yes, I am exceptionally insensitive to such things as arguments over whether feelings are hurt by the fact that the chow halls at Oberlin serve sushi.

              You know the problem you have with “smug”?

              That’s the problem that I see society having with “cultural appropriation” as it is currently practiced.

              I mean it in its proper sense, when person-type-X provides an unwelcome lecture to person-type-Y on stuff person-type-Y already understands very well.

              Well, we certainly don’t want that sort of thing to happen in the comments.

              It seems inevitable that social justice progress will be met with resistance. I see no reason to think that you have the magic formula to compute the perfect optimal pace.

              I’m not interested in the perfect optimal pace. I’m more interested in the whole “how quickly and catastrophically is this going to fail?” question.

              To go back to your previous paragraph, It is tempting to blame racism on “uppity black people.” It is tempting to blame “right-wing blowback” on overzealous gays. It is tempting to say, “Well if only the ranty SJW’s hadn’t been so mean, then change would have happened at a nice slow pace, totes comfortable for white-str8-etc. folks. Wouldn’t that have been nicer? This is all so unpleasant. Terrible SJWs. They created Trump.” Etc. etc. etc.

              It’s more that I’m looking at the structural integrity of the system and seeing where it’s going to fail and where I think it’s currently squealing. It’s like asking why I’m blaming metal fatigue or catastrophic vibrations or whatever when I’m looking at (what I think is the) fact that the bridge is going to fail.

              It’s the system that is interesting, not the metal fatigue. Not the catastrophic vibrations.

              Though I suspect that the next bridge will want to take metal fatigue or catastrophic vibrations into account.

              There will always be a set of “concerned white/str8/whatever folks” who will blame hatred on those who fight back against hatred, sometimes in dysfunctional ways. “They’re asking for too much, pushing too hard, of course the ‘bad guys’ were gonna fight back.”

              It’s not about “blame”.

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            • It just occurred to me that while I see the phrase “uppity black people” pretty frequently, I have never once that I can recall seen the word “uppity,” or even other words expressing a similar sentiment, used other than in the context of leftists putting words into the mouths of ideological opponents.

              The problem with the “cultural appropriation” racket isn’t that it’s “uppity.” It’s that it’s bullshit.

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              • “Uppity” is safe to use as a marker because it has been successfully shamed into submission. This decade, the only people who use it openly are the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks, and people who are damn sure the lodge is tyled. Before then, it was in decline, but most explicitly-racist terms have been since Mel Brooks started the Civil Rights movement with the release of “Blazing Saddles” in 1974…

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      • Jaybird: The weaponization of the concept of “I have this particular background and that gives me a certain amount of standing when it comes to discussing certain topics” turns out to have unintended consequences too.

        I don’t think King is relying on the social justice tradition. He’s making an argument that has been made for centuries by far-more-distinguished thinkers than him or us, and it’s on that tradition he draws.

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    • The power of empiricism and the enlightenment and “advanced” math and science — these ideas can move easily between cultures. Math works the same in India, China, and all across Africa, as it did in Northern Italy in the fifteenth century.

      This suggests a sequence of (increasingly obnoxious) questions. Do the ideas of western enlightenment work in those other places? If not, why not? Or perhaps, if not yet, why not yet? And finally, why shouldn’t Rep. King read Vikram’s titular statement as having an implied “in a place where someone else has already done most of the heavy (and too often, bloody) lifting” tacked onto the end?

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      • — Honestly I don’t know.

        I can speak for myself. I taught myself advanced mathematics. But note, I have very little money at the time, as I was uneducated and underemployed and my parents did the “get ye out of the nest” thing. So, it was trawl used bookstores for crappy old Dover books. I got what I could find, with no rhyme nor reason on what I studied when. I quickly learned what “mathematical maturity” meant, which was something that was very hard for me to develop.

        There was no Internet at the time — so no Wikipedia, no arXiv, no Google Scholar, not even Citeseer. Nothing.

        I had no mentors. I was the only person in my social circles who was “mathy.”

        I did okay. However, now that I have the Internet, and plenty of PDFs to download, and a good job so I can afford pretty much any book I want — well I do much better. Plus I work for {bigtech} now. If I have a question on a topic, there is a good chance I can find someone with a PhD in my office.

        It turns out smart nerds are often happy to explain stuff if you’re willing to listen.

        Social technology matters.

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        • Dover books are the best. When there’s a problem that may have a solution if only I knew X but I don’t want to spend $100 on a “good” X book and find out I chose the wrong X, $5.95 and Dover is there for me.

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          • — Oh I’m totally fine with Dover in the role they play. But when you know literally zero about a topic, they are not always the best source for self-study. The point is, it was way harder for me to learn than it could have been. Things would have been much easier with a mentor to recommend a path of study, along with a steady supply of well-written texts.

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      • I’ve always thought that there is a single contribution to civilization that Europe made, that can explain its relative -and accelerated- positioning with respect to other civilizations: the fact than Christendom acknowledges a separation between the secular and the religious spheres.

        In most other civilizations, the secular and the religious are entangled. Islam, for instance, teaches that the Q’ran’s complete revelation from God includes not just what we must believe about God and the afterlife, but also what we must do in the daily, mundane life. Similar teachings you find in Judaism, or in traditional Chinese culture, who shunned having better clocks because the Emperor was the one in charge of telling what the time was (that might be an urban myth, but it’s true they didn’t want Western clocks).

        “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” meant that God didn’t care if you had a better clock to mark at what time artisans opened or closed their shops, nor did God have a view about building eyeglasses, or telescopes, or changing the shape of sails. Secular things from abroad were also perfectly fine, be it gunpowder or pasta. God didn’t have a view about those secular matters. Instead, other cultures saw using foreigners’ artifacts as sacrilegious, or at least disrespectful to your ancestors (if the ancestors didn’t have reading glasses you shouldn’t use them).

        True story: in the XIX and early XX century the Turkish military saw the advantage European soldiers had by wearing hats with brims, which covered their eyes when fighting facing the sun. They tried to replace the fez with hats with brims, and couldn’t, because the brim got in the way of the forehead touching the ground while praying. For Turks of the time, God did care more about the mode of praying than about soldiers surviving and winning battles. The change was finally only implemented shortly before WWI.

        I believe it was this ability to push religion into a part time occupation instead of a complete way of life that made Europe able to absorb everything that came their way, and to tinker with it, resulting in a civilization that changed enormously fast compared to the stasis in the rest of the world.

        Of course, this is not what Rep. King had in mind, it smells too much of Enlightment, and the Enlightment is something he is totally against

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        • “For Turks of the time, God did care more about the mode of praying than about soldiers surviving and winning battles. The change was finally only implemented shortly before WWI.”

          As a counterexample from the same time period, look what it took for the French military to give up red pants and adopt even a mild form of camouflage. “Le pantalons rouge c’est la France!”

          Buttheads are buttheads.

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      • For purposes of his argument, I think the Japanese are considered “white” while other Asians (with the possible exception of the Chinese, who we just won’t bring up at the moment thankyouverymuch) aren’t.

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    • Aren’t cubics actually a really terrible example of that, though? Cubics are from the days when mathematicians competed with each other, so there are a lot of examples of people with solutions to a bunch of soecial cases (and whose techniques eventually were combined for a full solution) who never published them. Point being, in all likelyhood we have no idea who was the “first” person to develope a general solution to the cubic, and the whole episode is a great example of why mathematical coordination and colaboration is important.

      But yeah, Europeans did do some nifty things. Calculus and free speech stand out in my mind, but I might just not know of other examples.

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      • — I’m not suggesting the cubic represents the full force of the Enlightenment, which we should probably put around the time of Newton. Instead, I mean more that, this seems like a cultural shift that sets things in motion. Keep in mind, I’m a math-inclined person more than a science-inclined person, so I give a priority to mathy things. If someone would prefer to name Copernicus or Galileo, I certainly won’t argue. The point is, something is happening here; something has begun.

        That said, it is clear that the cubic was discovered in an era where much “scholarly tradition” was still practiced with a kind of occult aesthetic. In fact, the “priority” fights over the cubic show this. Indeed, people saw knowledge as occult power. It was still normal to hoard knowledge. That said, the potential existence of prior unpublished work in fact supports my point. Perhaps some earlier mathematician in the Mediterranean world had discovered the cubic, but if so, they did not publish. No one found out. The knowledge was lost.

        Such an event would be the very polar opposite of the enlightenment. It is as far from science as one can go.

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  7. Well said. Any Yankee that has a Confederate battle flag on their desk should have been censured long ago, but that’s the sorry state of today’s Republican party.

    Trent Lott lost his position within the party (rightly) for saying stuff half as odious but within a more understandable (if still unexcusable) cultural tradition.

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  8. In recent work on a compilation of social constructs, I came upon the notion of ‘social objectivity’. It is a really difficult thing to consider, as most folks in the science community use a type of objectivity that attempts to strip objectivity away from bias and personal interest.

    One of the things I kept mulling over was how social objectivity would change according to which faction it was pulled from.(after reading the above, it probably is wise to include which time period is considered also)

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  9. “I Want to be Part of Western Civilization Too”.

    You are if you want to be, or if you’re living in the US/Canada/EU/ANZAC (probably throw in Central Europe and Russia, too) (oh and Central and South America) (OK, how about everywhere where the majority language is Romantic?)

    The ‘racial’ pride of Rep. King and David Duke is just so pathetic and counter-historical. I mean, “I feel good about myself because Isaac Newton had the same skin color as me”? What else can you do besides point and laugh? Not to mention that the category of ‘white’ has grown by leaps and bounds in the last century or so. Jews? Italians? Irish? Spaniards? All of these groups weren’t white at some point in time.

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  10. When I first heard about him saying this, I assumed it was in response to to the SJW “white people suck, amirite?” shtick, in which case it would be a valid if politically ill-advised response. But this really is gratuitous, and a total non sequitur.

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    • If you’re not an artist or a scientist, and your general opinion of artists and scientists is that they’re useless and stuck-up and need to live in the real world, you have very little business crowing about your people’s contribution to civilization.

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