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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

The intersectional worldview is obviously incompatible with the basic tenets of life in a liberal democracy. That doesn’t bother intersectional activists, however, because they believe liberalism itself to be an elaborate sham that uses the illusory equality of procedural democracy – free and fair elections, courts, the rule of law, the Bill of Rights – to paper over vast social injustices. In the eyes of the intersectional Left, the very idea of universal rights is fatally flawed – or “problematic,” to use a frequent, lazy phrase – because those rights can benefit the wrong people, such as white supremacists (in the case of free speech), or campus rapists (in the case of due process and the rights of the accused).

J. Oliver Conroy

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15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • James Strong

    I don’t know what the words ‘intersectional’, ‘intersectionality’and other words from the same root mean.

    If I try to break it down it would seem to mean that different parts of a whole interact with each other.But that analysis doesn’t help my understanding.

    Can anyone here explain it to me?

  • Bulldog Drumond

    Did you read the linked article, James?

  • bobby b

    ” . . . the very idea of universal rights is fatally flawed . . . because those rights can benefit the wrong people . . . “

    Pray you never become “the wrong people.” It can happen overnight.

    They don’t want to fix a bad system. They want to keep the bad system and trade places. So, they can’t even take comfort in the idea that their intentions are good.

    (Or, more accurately: they probably do assume that they’re in the right because their intentions are good, but the rest of us will fight them like the evil they are.)

  • I don’t know what the words ‘intersectional’, ‘intersectionality’and other words from the same root mean.

    If I try to break it down it would seem to mean that different parts of a whole interact with each other.But that analysis doesn’t help my understanding.

    Can anyone here explain it to me?

    In set theory, a set is said to be the intersection of two other sets if and only if that set contains exactly those elements found in both of the other sets.
    If I understand “intersectionality” correctly, they’re treating the various grievance identities as sets, and focusing on people who are fit the criteria of multiple identities; i.e. the intersection of “black people” and “homosexual people”.
    It irks me as a mathematician, because treating humanity as a set ignores many properties of humans and gives sloppy thinking the veneer of rigor. The most obvious problem that usually happens is that humans change over time, whereas sets don’t (and, therefore, sets of people don’t). If you try to define a “set” of people, but the members of that set change over time, then what you’ve defined isn’t a “set” at all. Set theorists who know what they’re doing get around this problem by building functions from a base topological space (time, as represented by Real Numbers) to a collection of subsets of a base set (humanity) but I’ve never met an intersectionality theorist who knew what they were doing.

    Interestingly enough, most plans involving intersectionality that I’ve stumbled across end up rife with theoretical problems even when we use the oversimplified set model. The problems come from the fact that they tend to insist on getting representatives from every intersection — every subset — of the population, but it’s provably impossible for the population to be as large as its collection of subsets. The proof even works when the population is infinite.

  • Julie near Chicago

    A very interesting article, and ditto the comments. Worth the time to read, I think.

    “Intersectionality” seems to mean that you are defined (as a living, acting being and of a certain positive or negative moral worth) by the various groups with which you “are” (by whom?) identified; and that furthermore, there is a ranking involved, in which, for example, Group ß membership gets you points whereas Group ∂ membership gets you demerits. Also, there is some sort of ranking within the positives and negatives. I have the impression that to be, say, “colored” is less valuable than to be “LGBT” or some dam thing. Ideally, one would be both, hence doubly victimized and therefore more entitled to special consideration (pampering).

    But if you are “colored” (+ points) but share a belief, say, in the idea that you are not particularly a victim (MANY demerits! — RIGHT-WING! ) then you really are of no use to the human species, you are a nonentity, a nullity, a nuisance or possibly diseased, and to be dispensed with or disposed of.

    (See references to Thomas Sowell and John McWhorter, for instance.)

    .

    Corrections or additions always welcome, of course.

    Thanks to SI for posting.

  • James Strong

    @ Bulldog Drummond
    No, I didn’t read the article. I didn’t realise that the highlighted name of the person quoted was a link, I thought it was just an acknowledgement of the source. I will read the article after breakfast.

    @ CayleyGraph
    Thank you.I got Grade V ‘O’ Level Maths in 1971, after a bit of a struggle. It looks as if it’ll still be a struggle, but I’ll give it a go.

  • JadedLibertarian

    It’s diversity bingo: the black blind transgendered Muslim lesbian wins. As previously observed they seek to reduce human beings to the sum of their respective grievances.

    Well actually that’s not quite true. At my university the very upper crust female professors who grew up in rich families and went to nice schools are “disadvantaged” and need extra help through schemes like Athena Swan. I, who went to a shit school and until a few years ago was living in poverty on an even shitter council estate am “privileged” by virtue of being a white male. Shortly after I was hired the (female) Athena Swan coordinator for my department told me (and two senior male professors) that we were part of the problem. She phrased it as a very passive aggressive joke and I couldn’t resist the drippingly sarcastic reply “Well…. sorry!”. The male professors laughed, she did not.

    Whenever people start taking like this I think “you don’t know me, you have no idea what I’ve been through”. I’m not looking for sympathy or special favours, but it always irks me when I see people cashing in on “problems” which are non existent or trivial, whereas I’m told that it doesn’t matter what I’ve been through because I had the temerity to be born a white male. It’s like a degenerate reworking of the caste system.

    Intersectionality is the concept of “divide and rule” taken to its extreme end point. These people don’t care about you, they care about power. They’re as close as makes no difference 1920s style Nazis, particularly in regard their self belief and attitude to dissent. These people publicly fantasise about the day they can use violence on their opponents without repercussion and society by and large do nothing. As far as I can tell people are afraid to challenge them because for years we’ve been brainwashed that the left are the “good guys”, so when someone privately harbours the view that they’re fucking Nazis, they keep it to themselves. I believe most people in the UK think the intersectional left are Nazis, but are afraid to speak up because they labour under the misapprehension that their views are rare. The intersectional left have of course engineered this situation on purpose with their state-backed “you can’t say that” campaigns and more recently their “you can’t think that” campaigns. I fear by the time mass opposition to these people is organised it may be too late. Expect a Beer Hall Putsch real soon.

  • JadedLibertarian

    When I was struggling along as a “supply” lecturer in a third rate university I remember I once stopped the lecture to say to my students something along the following lines

    “Be very wary of people who seek to pigeonhole you on the basis of a single aspect of your character. You may be black, gay, Muslim or whatever, but that is only one component that makes up the complex rainbow that is you (the rainbow part was said half in jest). Those who seek to define you by these characteristics alone are using you to further their own agenda.”

    I suspect I’d have got in trouble if word had gotten around that I was saying things like that in a psychology lecture.

  • Lee Moore

    One or two axes of privilege seemed to be strangely absent from the diagram at the link.

    1. Intelligent – Stupid
    2. Conscientious – Careless
    3. Productive – Useless
    4. Articulate – Inarticulate

    I should have thought my four missing axes account for about six times as much privilege and domination as all the ones on the chart put together.

    The classism axis seems to have a strange Marxist after echo :

    “Upper, middle-class – Working class, poor”

    sweeps poverty into the class axis. Can’t you be middle class and poor ? Or working class and rich ? When you’re on a hunt to multiply as many axes of privilege as you can find, you’d have thought you could give “Rich – poor” its own axis. Likewise able-bodied and healthy are not the same thing at all. Surely worth another axis. And the Eurocentrism axis made me smile. Those yellow people really gum up the works, don’t they ? Maybe they’re honorary Europeans.

    Last but not least – is “Opression” a startlingly “woke” postmodern concept that has passed me by ? Or is it a spelling mistake ? In which case “Able to Spell – Not so Much” probably deserves its own axis.

    I’d never heard of intersectionalism before but I think it’s a splendid idea. It’s hard to think of a simpler and more comprehensive proof that “equality of opportunity” is a soundbite, not a concept.

    PS Thanks for the maths lesson CayleyGraph

  • Good article, and good to know these speakers are exerting themselves – and showing some civil courage to do so. I offer a couple of constructive (I hope) criticisms.

    Falling well into the category of “What oft was thought (by me) but ne’er so well expressed (by me)” is this cutting response of the speaker most in sympathy with the hecklers’ nominal aims:

    I’m old enough to remember the politics of the late ’60s and early ’70s, and I can tell you how this movie ends. It ends with you accomplishing nothing.

    In a sense, he is so right about the last time round, but Stacy McCain (h/t instapundit) has a good article on the fact that they did not exactly achieve nothing. Politically, the 70s ended in Thatcher and Reagan, but some of the culture of those years is still today exposing its foetid empty heart.

    The article quotes John McWhorter

    The call for people to soberly ‘acknowledge’ their White Privilege as a self-standing, totemic act is based on the same justification as acknowledging one’s fundamental sinfulness is as a Christian. One is born marked by original sin; to be white is to be born with the stain of unearned privilege.

    A doctrine that warned people, not white people, to beware of innate racism – that told white people to fight their innate racist tendency to keep lingering attitudes of the past and simultaneously told black people to fight their equally innate racist tendency to keep lingering resentments – would be a lot less vile. The long-established PC idea that black people cannot be racist is a greater evil than the idea that race hatred is somehow different from class hatred and other hatreds. And if a true distaste for racism led to a rational ranking of various cultures’ indulgence of it that would also be an improvement.

  • Paul Marks

    Interesting that even the supporters of Freedom of Speech against the Frankfurt School of Marxism do not often call the enemy by its actual name, the Frankfurt School of Marxism.

    Almost any complex terminology is preferred to calling a spade a spake – a Marxist a Marxist.

    And note the “liberal” on the panel – he openly stated that he was not particularly interested in Freedom of Speech he was interested in “winning” and he objected to “Identity Politics” (i.e. the Frankfurt School of Marxism – again carefully NOT named) because it made Democrats unpopular and led to them losing elections.

    But why does he want to win elections? For what purpose?

    I think you will find that he supports the classical principle of Marxism – that the long term economic interests of “the rich” are in conflict with those of “the poor”.

    In short his alternative to Frankfurt School Marxism is Classical Marxism – although in the HERETIC form of wanting to win elections (rather than Revolution on the streets).

    If we are not prepared to even name our enemy, to actually say the universities (and many of the High Schools – and schools for even younger) are controlled by a bunch of Marxists and should be defunded, than we are wasting our time.

    Even Massachusetts (which boasts endlessly of its wonderful government school system) actually had a LOWER illiteracy rate before the system was created (1851 I believe) than it does now.

    “But science Paul, SCIENCE”.

    The modern left are fairly open in their hatred of science – it the creation of “white men” (two crimes there), relying on the universities to preserve free scientific enquiry is foolish.

    Defund them.

  • Paul Marks

    In the 1960s at least people were prepared to name the Frankfurt School of Marxism (and its jihad against “false” universal objective truth and universal moral principles – such as Freedom of Speech) MARXISM.

    People such as Herbert Marcuse made it easy to do so – because they kept reminding everyone that they were MARXISTS and their objective was MARXISM.

    If we are not even prepared to name the enemy, MARXISM, and resort to talk about “intersectional……” (whatever) we lose by default.

    It is like trying to fight Islamic attacks whilst pretending they are not “really” Islamic. American (and British) schools and the media will just carry on pretending that Islam is a “religion of peace” – if I went to St Peter and Paul Church today (as I was planning to) I would hear words of regret for the dead in New York City, but they would be followed by the words that this-was-nothing-to-do-with-Islam. I do not want to listen to such lies – so I will not be going.

    The West will not fight against the DOCTRINES that are dedicated to its destruction – not the Marxism that controls the schools and universities (we will not even call it Marxism – see the post), and not Islam either. This is not a war – this is a farce.

    No number of tanks, aircraft, ships and so on can make up for lack of BELIEF.

    Bullets and bombs are no substitute for lack of PRINCIPLES.

    Presently (just before 1100 GMT) I am watching the BBC – lots of people attacking the “Trump regime” and how beastly it is to Muslims. As opposed to “rich white” people such as the murderer in Los Vegas (who was NOT a Trump supporter you lying “liberal” SWINE – actually the people he murdered were Trump supporters).

    The alliance between Marxism (falsely called “liberalism”) and the Islamists could not be made more obvious. An alliance of convenience (after we are dead they will turn on each other), but an alliance just-the-same.

    And the symbol of that alliance in New York City, Mayor Bill De Blasio (the supporter of Castro and Ortega – who also bends over backwards to show how pro Islam he is) will be reelected Mayor next Tuesday.

    Mayor Fake Name stands for everything that wants to reduce New York City, and the West in general, to ashes and dried blood – and he will be reelected next Tuesday.

  • Watchman

    JadedLibertarian,

    I’ve lectured from my neo-libertarian (that’s my name for it today) point of view on history at traditionally socialist universities with no issues – indeed, I’ve had some good discussions around how my views lead to interesting different conclusions than those of say my Marxist examiner. That’s because most historians are not interested in imposing ideological unity on the subject, and most sensible universities are careful to ensure that departments are not taken over by radical cliques (less for diversity of ideas than because radical cliques tend to reject university direction and therefore produce poor research and teaching…). There were a few historians I keow who would not talk to me because of my views, but they are not in academia any more – it seems their tribal view precluded them having a career.

    I don’t think UK universities are captives of the long march – if anything, they’ve been captured by the markets, with anything that threatens your placing in the league tables or student satisfaction scores being done away with (which explains why they do sometimes close down controversial events – but I’ve never experienced this). I think the impression that the long march has got the universities is partially the output of a number of politicised academics, particualrly in social sciences, but mainly it comes from the fact that unless you work in a university, what you hear about whatuniversities think is filtered through the media, and the long march has certainly captured the dying mass media industries (for where else would Marxism be at home than in a dying industry?).

  • Paul Marks

    Watchman.

    A “neo-libertarian point of view on history” can mean all sorts of things.

    The late Murray Rothbard pushed the socialist Gabriel Kolko (with his false view that the Progressive movement of Richard Ely, T. Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were really the puppets of Big Business), and the pro German nutcase Harry Elmer Barnes (with his effort to turn the history of both World Wars on its head) as “libertarian history” – I trust that is not what you did. Although blaming all the problems of the world on “capitalist big business” would indeed cause no problems at socialist universities.

    However, if you do such things as attack the Atlee Government for setting up the National Health Service than you are indeed proving your point that universities can be tolerant places. As long as one does not touch the “third rail” of principle Frankfurt School concerns – for example would you present-the-case against the British 1965 Race Relations Act (this is long enough ago to be history now) with its direct assault on Freedom of Association and Freedom of Speech?

    Still yours is a comment based on personal experience, and it is good news. So I welcome it.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    James Strong
    October 30, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    I don’t know what the words ‘intersectional’, ‘intersectionality’and other words from the same root mean.

    A good rule of thumb is to regard all terms-of-art created by Progressives as Humpty-Dumptyisms.

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