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Culture Wars Update

This video appeared in the Illuminatus’ Facebook feed recently:

In it, participants line up for a running race but before they start a man lists a number of life advantages (such as having a father, or money, or a good education) and instructs people to take two steps forward for each of those advantages they enjoyed. He is explaining that people with certain advantages are more likely to win. There is an element of truth, but it is so obvious as to be trite: yes, some people are at a disadvantage in ways that are not their fault. Yes, as Baz Luhrman quoted Mary Schmich, don’t congratulate yourself too much on your successes or berate yourself too much for your failures. Hard work is part of the story but if you are successful you probably had some lucky breaks along the way.

Which would be fine for a trite bit of social media wisdom if it had been about “advantages”. But this video is about “privilege”, an altogether more loaded term. And at 2 minutes 55 seconds the host remarks that some of the black dudes would win the race if it was fair. As an eldritch horror from the underworld, the Illuminatus is not qualified to have an opinion, but it wonders whether it really is “woke” for a white guy to tell a bunch of black dudes that they have no chance. Certainly that is the sort of thing that Candace Owens was talking about; that Kanye West seems to like. It does not seem too much of a stretch to worry that if you keep telling a group of people that their only hope of success is to be rescued by others then they might believe it and miss out on some opportunities as a result.

Matt Christiansen deconstructs the privilege race video. He notes its flaw as a metaphor for economics: there is not a single race for a single prize; each individual can maximise his gains at no cost to others. The Illuminatus muses changing the rules of the game in the video such that prizes of descending value are handed out in order of finishing: that would much more interesting.

In a more recent video, Christiansen discusses Count Dankula and freedom of speech in the UK, and Chelsea Russell who was convicted of posting some rude rap lyrics on the internet.

Paul Joseph Watson, who is a bit unhinged on some topics, but very entertaining on the subject of the culture wars, has a video about the Candace/Kanye incident. At the end he claims that the establishment is terrified of West, and of social media conservatives like Owens, because they are the new counter-culture. Later, a show on Comedy Central mocked him for claiming that conservatism is the new punk rock. So he replied:

It’s the left who consistently act like joyless puritans and literally try to ban fun. Whether it’s cheerleaders, offensive songs, topless models or free speech, you’re the new censors. You’re the new puritans. And that’s not very punk. Being owned by a monolithic transnational corporation and a 94-year-old billionaire [Sumner Redstone]: that’s not very punk.

He’s not quite right, though. Conservatives aren’t the real counter-culture, libertarians are. If conservatives are punks we are the weird kids too busy playing Dungeons & Dragons to be into cool music. Our day will come.

25 comments to Culture Wars Update

  • Runcie Balspune

    There is an element of truth, but it is so obvious as to be trite: yes, some people are at a disadvantage in ways that are not their fault.

    The video starts with the “privilege” of a two parent family, but this was still a choice made by one or other of the parents, and you could also claim this for the secondary “privileges” of finances and tutoring, the problem is we only concentrate on the conditions we are born into not the ones we make, why not change the race into one where you propel your children down the track, what choices would you make then knowing the outcome for them?

    No-one forces you to leave your spouse, or be absent from your family, or spend money on things other than household necessities or tuition for your children, the fact that the penalties for these acts are passed on to your offspring is sad but real, and this is the point that needs to be made, so they are not repeated.

  • Paul Marks

    The film is “Social Justice” crap – as the post explains.

    The idea is to try and justify Big Government (which ruins society – ruins human lives) by saying that people have unequal chances in life – as if higher taxes, higher government spending and more regulations benefited the poor over time. If that were true such cities as Detroit (which adopted tax-spend-and-“planning” in the early 1960s) would be prosperous. After all Detriot was prosperous – very prosperous.

    “That was the collapse of the car industry” – actually the decline of Detroit started in the 1960s, and what of California?

    California was not dependent on one industry – it is a vast State (tens of millions of people – in a land many times bigger than Britain), and it was the “Golden State” with a fantastic standard of life (the highest in the world) for ordinary people.

    Look at what decades of government “compassion” have done to California – decades of high taxes (especially targeted at the rich and big business), vast government spending and more and more regulations. California now has, adjusted for the cost-of-living, one of the worst levels of poverty in the United States.

    Ever more Bleeding Heart Social Justice has made things WORSE AND WORSE.

    And yet the schools, the universities, and the media (especially the entertainment media) still teach Social Justice – and there are these stupid races to try and justify even bigger and more interventionist government.

  • Paul Marks

    If having a two parent family is a “privilege”, i.e. a GOOD THING, then why has the left been trying to destroy the family for so many decades? Do they not want the poor to have this good thing?

    The government benefits and legal changes (the “family courts”, and the plundering of property to bribe women to divorce their husbands – and on and on), were clearly designed to destroy the family (which was seen as “reactionary”, “capitalist”, “bourgeois”). Everyone was supposed to benefit from the “liberation” of the end of the family – the dream of not just the Frankfurt School of Marxism (which dominates universities) and Post Modernism – but of the Fabians such as H.G. Wells as well. But now suddenly the family is a “privilege”.

    For decades “free love” (screwing everything in sight) was presented as good, with children produced in random short lived “relationships”, and “cared” for any-old-how, and now a two parent family is good – a “privilege”.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I can’t wait for the Socialist Olympic games, where all runners must cross the line together! And swimmers must have the same times! The competition comes in by trying to beat last years’ records. Anyone want to start such a contest?

  • The ‘socially just’ version of how to run a race is as follows.

    1) Before each race, the race manager moves each runner’s start point forward for however many intersectionality points each has and/or back for how many each lacks.

    2) Seeing this, the runners divide over time into those who train hard to run, knowing they will start behind, and those who game the gathering of intersectionality points, so they can start ahead. After a few cycles, the winners are a mix of fit runners sprinting from the start line and fat slobs with so many intersectionality points that they just stroll to the finish line they start so near.

    3) Increasingly, the very last group to cross the line are fat slobs with not quite enough intersectionality points.

    4) Observing (3), the race manager announces that there are not enough intersectionality points being awarded to compensate the disadvantaged groups, so the adjustment distances are increased.

    5) Go back to (1).

    In either case, the key point to observe is the power of the race manager – described only as ‘a man’ in the OP. He is indeed ‘the man’ whose power dominates every race, and the most fundamental change that will occur over time is that being ‘the man’ will become (if it isn’t already) his true agenda.

  • >If having a two parent family is a “privilege”, i.e. a GOOD THING, then why has the left been trying to destroy the family for so many decades? Do they not want the poor to have this good thing?

    Spot on!

  • Runcie Balspune

    then why has the left been trying to destroy the family for so many decades?

    The historical principal was that “family” (and marriage) was a quasi-religious concept and in the days when religion was seen as a thing to oppose by the progressive socialists (rather than cosy up to selected ones for votes as it does today), the “war on families” was a the vanguard to break open the establishment control.

    All the culture has done is make it easy and acceptable for a parent to leave their family in the knowledge the state will pick up the tab. The problem is the state simply cannot replace the lost “privilege” of two parents and/or a father figure and therefore should really be either encouraging spouses not to leave their family or encouraging single parents to find someone else when it happens.

    State provided dating agencies probably doesn’t sound like it would work, admittedly. The one thing the statists wont admit to is they can’t fix it and it is up to individual responsibility.

  • Ian Bennett

    If having a two parent family is a “privilege”, i.e. a GOOD THING, then why has the left been trying to destroy the family for so many decades? Do they not want the poor to have this good thing?

    No; in typical leftist manner, they want no-one to have it, in order to achieve the equal sharing of misery.

  • Chip

    You’re all living in a rich western country in the 21st century. Everyone take 1000 steps forward.

    Game over.

  • Alisa

    What Ian Bennett said – it’s the Tall Poppy syndrome.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    “”Conservatives aren’t the real counter-culture, libertarians are.

    Libertarians like to claim they are weird outliers. I remember a post on samizdata years ago that explained that if conservatives are right on the political spectrum and progresssives are left then libertarians are “up”. Libertarians like to claim their ideas are just too out-there to be groked by most people who drink CNN kool-aid.

    The truth is that libertarians are the purest defenders of the Enlightenment, which is the philosophical movement that defines modern culture, modern government, modern philosophy, modern values – all of modernity. Their political philosophy is based on a strict application of individual rights and the non-aggression principle and human rights. These ideas are modern tropes born of the Enlightenment that define the highest ideals towards which our western civilization ought to aspire. Libertarians aren’t weird outliers – they are reminders of the philosophy that is supposed to underpin our modern western political system of governance.

    The counter-cultural ones are not the ones who defend the Enlightenment (libertarians).

    The counter-cultural ones are the ones who are opposed to the Enlightenment – it’s core ideals, it’s moral basis and it’s practical consequences. These are Reactionaries. Not alt-right: Reactionaries. We don’t hold rallies. And unlike libertarians we don’t get interviewed on CNN, our ideas are alien to the modern cultural ethic, and our ideals contradict the supposed legitimacy of modern democratic governments. We have no think tanks like CATO or presidential candidates like Gary Johnson or Ron Paul. Unlike libertarians, we don’t form political parties and our ideas are not even seriously taught in University courses or discussed by university professors.

    And we are the counter-cultural ones. Because we are the only ones opposed to the modern cultural ethic of human rights, individual rights, meritocracy, and rule of law. Although, ironically, our preferred system of government achieves these results far more reliably than so-called liberal democracies.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Shlomo, bless him. Still flogging the agenda of barons and serfs. Counter-culture? Rolls eyes.

  • Runcie Balspune

    then libertarians are “up”.

    I am reminded of an interesting commentary on what a 3D object would look like to someone living in a 2D world, as a kind of understanding of what 4D looks like to our 3D world.

    But the concept that a 2D world can exist where the notion of “up” and “down” cannot be seen applies so markedly in the Nolan Chart (or its similar versions) placed in the fixed left-right spectrum.

    An example here is the Wikipedia page for Lauren Southern that quotes “Lauren Cherie Southern is a Canadian far-right political activist, … In 2015, Southern ran as a Libertarian Party candidate in the Canadian federal election.”

    Wikipedia’s own definition of “far-right” states this has “authoritarian tendencies”, yet her membership of the Libertarian Party explained in the same paragraph must imply this is diametrically opposite and contradictory, one look at the discussion for the page shows many consider this label is inappropriate, although Wikipedia’s own “authoritarians” stick to how she is described in sources as the “fact”, they are willfully blind that such a contradiction even exists, or more likely they want to smear her with the “appropriate” label.

    The whole world is oblivious to the authoritarian-libertarian axis, and this is either a result of, or perhaps a cause of, the flattening and dumbing down of political parties into “slightly authoritarian left” (socialist) and ” slightly authoritarian right” (conservative), ignoring the inconvenient dimension completely.

    Eppur si muove

  • Stonyground

    The running metaphor made me think about how running events are done in reality and whether there are any life lessons to be taken from them. Although an organised run is technically a race, most people who take part have literally no chance of coming first. Most people run to get fit and then stay that way, the organised runs are partly social events, they also give runners something to train towards as an incentive to keep at it. What the also rans are aiming for is to try to get a better time for the distance, this is known as a PB which stands for personal best. Improving your position can also be a goal and this includes improving your position within your age group. Nowadays almost all organised runs are electronically timed. This is done using a timing chip which is either embedded in your race number or attached to your shoe. Your personal stopwatch is activated when you cross the timing mat at the start line and your time is recorded when you cross the timing mat at the finish. A short time after the race all the relevant stats are posted on line and you can then see how you did and try to put the best possible spin on your result. One way to do this is to see how well you did in your age group. I’m currently in the 55-59 section and last year hit a patch of reasonably good form. I’ve never actually won my age group but took some satisfaction from being at least a bit nearer to the top. The thing is, there isn’t a handicap system to compensate you for being an older runner, there is only the way that the numbers are presented that allows you to compare your results with those of a similar age to yourself.

    When it comes to life in general and the issue of inequality, I have always though that enabling social mobility was very important. If people have the ability to improve their situation, and that of their descendants, by their own efforts, I see that as a much better goal than the idea of sharing a pie of fixed size more fairly. If you do belong to a group that is disadvantaged in this metaphorical race, do the best with what you have and try to make sure that your kids are less disadvantaged than you were.

  • Chip

    “Wikipedia’s own definition of “far-right” states this has “authoritarian tendencies”, yet her membership of the Libertarian Party explained in the same paragraph must imply this is diametrically opposite and contradictory,”

    It’s simple if you define far right as stuff we don’t like.

    For more contradictions look to the British government’s travel ban on Southern. She was barred from entering the country because she asked why the government doesn’t bar harmful people from entering the country.

    She was branded a danger when it was those opposed to her visit who were the real danger.

    Orwell was too optimistic.

  • Unlike libertarians, we don’t form political parties

    Any libertarian who forms an overtly libertarian political party does not understand the nature of politics. Libertarian political parties are like fucking for virginity or carnivorous vegetarianism. By all means fight the battle of ideas & even get ‘involved’ but for God’s sake (Eris) don’t fall into that trap.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Shlomo, bless him. Still flogging the agenda of barons and serfs. Counter-culture? Rolls eyes.

    This is Johnathan attempting to make some kind of point, I think.

  • The last Toryboy

    Playing Dungeons and Dragons (well, Pathfinder) right now in fact. International Tabletop Day is one of the few international “days” I can get behind…

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Shlomo denounces equality before the law and notions of rights. Well I recall a few weeks ago this individual got all upset about the decline of liberty in the US. The examples given were good and I thought his arguments made a bit of sense. So perhaps he could explain why, if he values freedom, he thinks we would be better off without the ideas of rights, liberties, abd why he thinks such Enlightenment ideas are nonsense.

    Look, I know that it’s hard to be consistent and maybe there are dazzling subtleties that I’m missing. I’m quite a simple soul. But really, Shlomo, if you denounce rights, and ideas about the need to constrain government etc, then your complaints about losses of freedom are hollow.

  • Thailover

    The Left incessantly bitch about “privilege”, but where is the shrill tones about personal responsibility and the principle of earning? It’s not to be found anywhere.

    We hear of people with fathers being privileged (apparently a bad thing), but NOTHING about stepping up to the plate and being a man, accepting the responsibility of the situation when you haphazardly create life, leaving the “modern” woman as a single mother to either accept her new god, i.e. government, OR to choose to destroy her unborn fetus, and feel “politically empowered” in the process.

    The Left seem to be completely ignoble and seek to destroy rational values.

  • Thailover

    Paul, you misunderstand. Having a father is “privilege”, which is a BAD THING in the eyes of the Left. The goal of the Left is to “aspire” (if you can call it that) to the LOWEST common denominator, so for anyone to be better than the lowest-possible nadir, is “bad”.

    This is why Leftists want “equality” (actually, everyone being equally depraved, nihilistic, cynical, unaccomplished, collectivist and unimaginative). This is why feminists are against masculinity, femininity and childbirth, i.e. against the family. The family is “bad” because some people don’t have families. Money as “bad” because some people don’t have money. Being white is “bad” because some people aren’t white. Remember that the Left define “need” as, you have it, they don’t, they want yours, so they condone the government taking it from you to “distribute” it.

    This seems “fair” to them because they block out the meaning of “earning” and thus, private ownership. The first step in making “taking your stuff” a fair thing is accepting that “you didn’t build that”.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Thailover is absolutely correct. Much of the Left seems to have abandoned ideas of responsibility and effort. Today, the narrative is about creating lots of different types of victimhood. This is of course requires there to be a group of oppressors: white, middle class men, Jews, etc. Hence today’s Left and examples such as the current Labour Party.

  • William O. B'Livion

    White out-of-wedlock births are today about where black out of wedlock births were in the mid-1960s.


    The number one indicator of poverty is single motherhood, or if not “number one indicator of”, maybe “most reliable proxy for”. Something like that.

    Worried about your next meal? Worried about your cellphone getting shut off? Have to give money to your mom? How much *less* often would that have happened if Mom and Dad had stuck together?

    And how much less often would divorces happen if it wasn’t so easy to get.

    Choices have *deep* down stream consequences.

    I WANT a libertarian world. Really, I do. It fits in with my worldview.

    But there’s two YUGE problems with it. The first is sociopaths, especially those like Trump, Obama, Clinton (Bill. Hill is a sociopath too, but she’s so f*king nasty mean that it’s not as much of a problem).

    The second is stupid people. See, acting in your own enlightened self interest only works when you’re smart enough not to s*t where you eat. And stupid people vote. And they riot. And it doesn’t take a *smart* person to aim a rifle, a rock or a phone call.

    I don’t know how to make people smarter OR more self-reliant. But I know that if we don’t it’s boot to the face forever.

    Now I need a drink.

    Who am I kidding, I’ve needed a drink all day.

  • The Stupid People Problem is greatly exacerbated by welfare state dependency (subsidising bad decisions, indeed incentivising them multi-generationally). The Stupid (& Wicked) Leaders Problem is why libertarians like states to not have excessive domestic powers. So not sure what about your critique is YUGE problem for a libertarian world view, seems more like an affirmation of it really 😉

  • I’m with Perry de Havilland (London, May 1, 2018 at 8:21 am), with the addition that intellectuals without intellect (that’s the majority of those who dominate the public domain) need to believe those who dissent from them are stupid. They therefore exaggerate the problem of commoners’ folly as grossly as they understate the problem of elitists’ folly.

    Churchill’s saying – that democracy is the worst form of government in the world, except for all the other forms that have been tried – does not mean that commoners cause more of the problem than elitists with megaphones. On the contrary, since “all the other forms that have been tried” are more elitist than democracy, he can reasonably be read as thinking the commoners are the least part of the problem.