This is not a question of whether the economic policy followed by the government is the right one or not: perhaps it is and perhaps it isn’t. It is a question of the honest use of words. One would not say of a man who passed from smoking sixty cigarettes a day to fifty that he had given up smoking, or that he had exercised great self-denial. And one would not, or rather should not, say of an organisation that had balanced its budget once in fifty years (the British government) that it was practicing austerity merely because it had to borrow a slightly lower percentage of what it spent than it did the year before. This is to deprive words of their meaning… If reducing the rate at which you overspend and accumulate debt is called austerity, no one will dare go any further in that direction, though it were the right direction in which to go.
Novelist Brigid Delaney wants a nicer flat in order to write about those non-creative people. You, taxpayer, come hither.
As a member of our creative caste, Ms Delaney wants to capture the buzz and thrum of city life. She wants to inspire “recognition” and above all “empathy.” It’s just that she’d prefer not to empathise too much with those non-creative people. Say, by working for a living and paying her own bills. And who will write about those ordinary people and their non-artistic lives if we don’t encourage Ms Delaney and her peers to live way above their means, at our expense, in places they can’t afford? Places they can’t afford because what they create isn’t as vital to the public as they might wish.
Campus feminists combat “male-centricity” by making unerotic pornography and rubbing eggs on their breasts.
As some readers may be intrigued by the notion of all-female feminist pornography, here’s a brief description: “It begins with a group of girls sitting around a library table taking their shirts off. As the film progresses, the girls engage in activities including kissing, rubbing eggs on their bodies and twerking around a chicken carcass.” The finished political opus, titled Initiation, also features the somewhat lacklustre use of a riding crop and extended scenes of floor-wiping.
A San Francisco “nude-in” reveals more than intended.
Some may register a whiff of disingenuousness in exhibitionists accusing their critics of being repressive and stuffy. Exhibitionists may be eager to dispense with clothing in incongruous locations – say, a traffic island in the middle of a busy intersection - but they desperately need an audience, preferably one that’s embarrassed and unwilling. San Francisco is remarkably well-equipped in terms of nude-friendly clubs and amenities, including a nude beach and nearby nudist colonies. What’s revealing is that such venues weren’t deemed sufficient for our wrinkly radicals. And while I doubt many readers here are prone to fainting at the sight of withered genitals and subsiding buttocks, they may conceivably object to being made an accomplice to someone else’s psychodrama. As one young lady points out, “Unwanted exposure to scrotum is never okay.”
And I’m told it’s possible, if not wise, to while away an hour in the greatest hits, now updated.
Dennis Saffran on beer pong, WrongThought™ and academia’s latest racial inquisition:
The black student had jokingly named his beer pong team “Team Nigga” and would shout the name whenever the team scored. At some point, the white student - reprising a running joke on the football team, in which black students would greet white teammates with the phrase “White power!” - said, “Can I get a white power?” The black student replied, “White power!” The noise from the party awakened a student in another room in the residence hall… She reported this exchange to the Campus Living office, and an inquisition began.
The two students were charged with inflicting “physical or mental harm” and “discrimination or harassment,” as well as with disorderly conduct… Within days after the hearing, the two were found guilty of all charges, placed on probation, and ordered on threat of suspension to undergo “bias reduction training.” The ruling stated, without any support, that their “language had contributed to the creation of a hostile and discriminatory environment.” Rarely does the modern left’s humourlessness, authoritarianism, and subversion of its own goals come together as starkly as in this case.
This story didn’t get much play in the mainstream media but it tells you everything you need to know about the public health racket, from the headline down: “‘We will push for a law if we don’t get support,’ warns health group.” Yeah, that’s the spirit. If people don’t agree with you, force them.
And via Hal, Robyn Urback on the intolerant psychodramas of the Proletarian Feminist Front and their comrades-in-shouting:
By the protesters’ later account, however, their rebellion was akin to confronting and conquering proponents of “misogynist” messaging. (The event was actually about the struggles men and fathers face in family court, but that doesn’t really matter). On the Revolutionary Student Movement website, a blog post subsequently bragged that, “Revolutionaries shut down [a] Men’s Rights Activists event at the University of Toronto.” The protesters’ post reads like a passage from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, written in the style of a supervillain manifesto.
What occurs to me about these delusional tools - besides their mental conformity, their vanity, and their belief that the campus belongs to them and is theirs to disrupt – is that their places could have been taken by students who don’t strive to silence facts and ideas, and who actually want to learn something. Perhaps even a skill that’s of value to others and will thereby earn them a living. There must be thousands of much smarter, more honest people – people who don’t imagine themselves as Maoist “revolutionaries” - who would eagerly use the opportunity that these obnoxious little parasites are squandering.
As usual, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments. It’s what these posts are for.
Rocío Boliver, a performance artist, “devotee of transgression” and author of “porno-erotic texts,” struggles with middle age.
There is of course a long and tedious tradition of self-harm in performance art. It’s hardly less common than nudity or faeces. Or anti-capitalist pablum. Though to be fair, some have embraced self-mutilation in a slightly less time-wasting and roundabout manner. In 1971 an artist named Chris Burden had a friend load a rifle and then shoot him in the arm. Mr Burden felt this would lead to him being “taken seriously as an artist.” Though it seems this colossal seriousness had to be reaffirmed three years later, when Burden felt it artistically necessary to have both of his hands nailed to the roof of a VW Beetle.
The exquisite mealtime sorrows of the Guardianista male.
The bearer of these sorrows, David Dennis, has apparently spent an awful lot of time fretting about his wife putting food on his plate. I mean literally putting food on his plate, as when serving a typical meal. Given Mr Dennis’s rather pronounced Guardianista tendencies, it’s scarcely surprising that he’s also been fretting that other people, possibly people much like himself, may subsequently judge him for this patriarchal trespass, as if he and his wife were dreadful throwbacks to a darker, more primitive age.
Icess Fernandez Rojas isn’t being sufficiently affirmed by strangers, software and disposable paper cups. Something must be done.
It’s all very tragic. Our Guardian columnist just wants to “celebrate [her] uniqueness” in an “inclusive society” and her spellchecking software, the subtleties of which apparently elude her, is dashing those hopes. She isn’t being “validated” by Microsoft Word. It’s how utopias die.
Not only are [young women seen as] objects, they are abject, terminally unable to cope with the exigencies of adult life, of the bewildering array of life choices modern society offers us, from vaginal butchery to jobs in the service sector.
I hesitate to summarise what it is she’s banging on about in this extract from her latest book, as it isn’t particularly clear to me. Nor is it always obvious how one avalanche of hyperbole and assertion leads to the next. The joining logic is hard to pin down, let alone parse. It’s all rather impressionistic and yet terribly adamant. It’s sort of, “Self-harm-something-something-patriarchy-obviously.”
Western womankind is collectively imagined as a toddler let loose in a candy store, so overwhelmed by the range of options that it has an ungrateful tantrum and is sick on the floor.
Collectively imagined. As so often in Laurie’s mental landscape, dark forces are at work although the evidence has been lost in a mysterious warehouse fire. We are, however, pointed to the “front pages of celebrity magazines,” on which, obviously, all sane people model their own, actual lives. We’re told that “Successful women on the verge of mental and physical collapse… is a myth that pleases the powerful,” though who the powerful might be is also far from clear. Can she mean the overwhelmingly female readership of Heat magazine?
Meanwhile, huge chunks of rhetoric fall from the sky:
Sometimes we get called rebels and degenerates and troublemakers, and sometimes we are known to the police. And sometimes, in the narrow hours of the night, we call ourselves feminists.
Because it just wouldn’t be a Laurie Penny article without some of that.
I’m reminded of what Robert Heinlein said about hippies: “Hippydom is not itself a culture (as the hippies seem to think) as it has no economic foundation; it can exist only as a parasitic excrescence to the ‘square’ culture.” So too with the academic humanities, which have largely squandered the moral and intellectual capital they once possessed by adopting the roles of adversaries to, rather than preservers of, the larger culture. This, too, turns out not to be sustainable.
And Ed Driscoll discovers there are no socialists in divorce court:
Michael Moore, who has spent his entire career attacking capitalism, wealth, and Wall Street, is suddenly very protective concerning the capital, wealth and investments he has amassed over the years. As Christian Toto writes at Big Hollywood, “Far-left filmmaker Michael Moore is divorcing his wife, and the looming court battle looks ugly already.” Christian links to this Smoking Gun report, which notes that “the couple’s combined assets are likely worth tens of millions of dollars,” including “multiple substantial residences and multiple companies.”
But America’s most outspoken socialist, being an outspoken socialist, deserves nine properties, including an agreeable Upper West Side apartment valued at $1.27 million and, naturally, a mansion. This, remember, is a self-described multimillionaire who told the world, quite boldly, “Capitalism did nothing for me.”
As always, feel free to share your own links and snippets in the comments.
Some of you may remember Ms Lierre Keith, a former radical vegan activist turned radical advocate of a return to subsistence farming. Ms Keith has long been a vocal champion of vandalism, harassment and “militant action,” and taken at their own words, she and her colleagues would like to see those they deem “associated” with environmental accidents being killed by the state. They also like the idea of “sabotaging infrastructure” and cutting power lines, thereby leaving tens of thousands of people without light and heat, as this would somehow encourage “class consciousness.” Elderly people in remote locations would presumably embrace the finer points of revolutionary eco-socialism as they shivered in the dark and the feeling left their limbs.
In March 2010 Ms Keith was herself targeted for “militant action” by disgruntled vegans even more radical and pious than she, and who disrupted her lecture at an anarchist book fair by pelting Ms Keith with chili-flavoured cream pies. An experience our fearless titan found both bewildering and outrageous. “The whole thing was designed for social humiliation,” Ms Keith told the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’re supposed to be against sadism and cruelty and domination, and these people were willing to do this to me.” Unfortunately, the Chronicle didn’t ask Ms Keith whether this small taste of her own medicine, her own methods, had altered her position on changing the views of others by means of “militant action.”
Having since recovered from this traumatic encounter with slapstick protest, and armed only with an anatomical slideshow of male genitalia, Ms Keith has resumed her attempts to establish her own radical credentials in yet another sphere. And so, in the following video, recorded over the weekend at a public library in Portland, Oregon, Ms Keith – now a “radical feminist and gender abolitionist” – speaks truth to power, fearlessly, radically, and at enormous personal risk. Specifically, she shares the truth that, “Being a man requires a psychology based on entitlement, emotional numbness, and a dichotomy of self-knowledge.” Self-knowledge being a subject on which Ms Keith can speak with unassailable authority.
Naturally, Ms Keith’s latest area of expertise is not limited to maleness and its inherent wickedness; the entire world of manandwomanlyness™ is hers to describe, and of course correct. And so we learn that, “Gender is a political creation because patriarchy has to separate who counts as human and who counts as an appropriate target for violation. That’s what gender is.” Gender, it turns out, is merely a “caste system,” one “disguised as biology.” Therefore there must be “organised political resistance.” Which is to say, “The sex class ‘men’… needs to be abolished if women are ever to be free.” Because, “Liberty and a living planet will only be won when masculinity, its religion, its economics, its psychology and its sex is resisted and finally defeated.” These deep thoughts and more can be savoured more fully in the video below:
Three items, thematically related. First, the world of the arts, where some things just won’t be tolerated by those who know what’s best for us. Like artist and writer Bill Drummond:
It not only offended me morally and aesthetically, it also went against everything that I feel political discourse should be about. Thus there was nothing for it.
And so vandalism ensued. Followed, obviously, by self-congratulation in the pages of the Guardian, where Mr Drummond conjures the obligatory post hoc ambiguity. Is it “a mere publicity stunt?” he asks, as if that were in doubt. “By doing this have I added to the political discourse in the country in any sort of positive way?” Apparently Mr Drummond is making us think, an activity impossible without his intervention, while saving us from the things we mustn’t be looking at. It’s a pattern we’ve seen before.
Lauren Steele, the Cambridge Student Union Women’s Officer who organised the protest, rejected these calls [for discussion]… A statement issued by the pro-choice protesters, derived from the text of the leaflets handed out to passers-by, argued that “Debate is a conversation of power, where the objective is to win: to overpower the other side. This is violence. It is not ‘discussion’.”
Because being contradicted is distressing for a narcissist. Imagine the indignity. Therefore words must be redefined, and redefined again, until talking equals violence and debate becomes impossible. And then, well, the rest of us must comply or risk being denounced as violent haters. Why, oh why, don’t you people CARE™ about the feelings of narcissists?
Evidently, when walking past a loon holding a placard about the post-mortem comeuppance of “masturbators, drunkards, fornicators and homosexuals,” the obvious thing to do is to suddenly assault the man, repeatedly, while braying like a donkey. And then screech with inexpressible outrage when further assaults are interrupted. Readers may wish to imagine how our somewhat inarticulate Social Justice Warrior might have behaved if a similar placard were being held by a bearded adherent of another religion.
[Tuition fees] go up faster than inflation every year because we have generous Federal loan programmes with low interest rates and low selectivity. Easy loans stimulate demand, and higher demand drives up prices. You may think that the colleges should steel their wills and ignore the fundamental dynamic of the market, but as James Howard Kunstler put it, capitalism is not a belief system that you can subscribe to or drop out of, it’s more like gravity. Let that process continue for decades and you’ll put tuitions through the roof, with wildly different consequences for the rich and the poor. In other words, the state worsens inequality by mitigating the risks of lending. This isn’t academic at all. It is a consequence that will keep repeating itself until we quit causing it.
A positional good is a good that people acquire to signal where they stand in a social hierarchy; it is acquired in order to set oneself apart from others. Positional goods therefore have a peculiar property: the utility their consumers derive from them is inversely related to the number of people who can access them… PC-brigadiers behave exactly like owners of a positional good who panic because wider availability of that good threatens their social status. The PC brigade has been highly successful in creating new social taboos, but their success is their very problem. Moral superiority is a prime example of a positional good, because we cannot all be morally superior to each other. Once you have successfully exorcised a word or an opinion, how do you differentiate yourself from others now? You need new things to be outraged about, new ways of asserting your imagined moral superiority.