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An intersection

When I watched the by now viral video of a mob jeering at and throwing a milkshake over an elderly British Trump supporter, led by a screaming feminist called Siobhan Prigent, a number of lines of thoughts got like Ms Prigent, intersectional.

– Watching the video made me angry. A year or so ago my son asked me an interesting question, “Are you still a feminist?” He knew that I had previously described myself as one. Eventually I answered that yes, I was, but that my understanding of what being a feminist entails seems to have been abandoned by most of those who describe themselves as feminists. Is Siobhan Prigent what a feminist looks like now? I’m still holding on to the idea that “what a feminist looks like” can include what I see in the mirror. But it is getting harder.

– Talk of feminism leads me to the next thought. What did that frail-looking female police officer do that was any more use than a chocolate teapot? Would a more physically imposing male officer have been more useful, or was the lack of police action when the old man was assaulted a matter of policy and nothing to do with whether the presiding teapot was male or female?

The man also claimed he was kicked in the legs, and attacked with a banner with a stick on the end. The demonstrators also attempted to remove his Make America Great Again hat – which he eventually got back.

The Londoner told how police officers removed him from the protest on Parliament Square for his own safety.

He told police that he didn’t want to officially report what had happened as he knew ‘nothing would come of it’.

“Removed for his own safety”. “He knew ‘nothing would come of it'”. Modern policing in a nutshell.

– Intersectional feminist Ms Prigent has now intersected with the consequences of her actions. She has been forced to quit her job. She says that her friends and family have been threatened and abused alongside her. If the part about her family is true that is very bad. As for Ms Prigent herself, while she certainly deserves to suffer some public scorn for her bad behaviour, doxxing someone is like breaching a dam: once the wall breaks the situation is out of anyone’s control.

There was another feminist in the news today. The Scotsman reports that “Feminist speaker Julie Bindel ‘attacked by transgender person’ at Edinburgh University after talk”

“We had had a very positive meeting – I was speaking about male violence against women and never even mentioned transgender people – and when I came out this person was waiting.

“There had been a protest outside earlier, but that had gone so he was obviously waiting for me.

“He was shouting and ranting and raving, ‘you’re a f***** c***, you’re a f****** bitch, a f****** Terf” and the rest of it. We were trying to walk to the cab to take us to the airport, and then he just lunged at me and almost punched me in the face, but a security guard pulled him away.

“I got my phone out to film him to get evidence and he went for me again. It took three security guys at the stage to deal with him.

And

After the attack, it was revealed on social media platform Twitter that her attacker was a transwoman called Cathy Brennan, who it has been reported has previously advocated violence against women.

At this point I tried to research a little more about Cathy Brennan, but I’ve deleted what I said on the grounds of complete confusion. It seems that there are two people with the same name prominent on opposite sides of the debate. At least two. It doesn’t help in determining who’s who that half of the relevant Twitter accounts have now been deleted.

The Scotsman article continues,

“Brennan has previously tweeted in support of violence against women who believe that changing the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to self-identify as any gender, rather than needing a medical diagnosis, would endanger women’s rights to safety, privacy and dignity by doing away with single-sex spaces. One tweet read: “Any trans allies at #PrideLondon right now need to step the f**kup and take out the terf trash. Get in their faces. Make them afraid. Debate never works so f**k them up”

I have borne a grudge against Julie Bindel since she called me a rape defender about ten years ago. In the comments to an article she wrote for the Guardian I had brought up the possibility that not every claimed rape had actually occurred. Since then Ms Bindel’s version of radical feminism has been overtaken by another strand and she now finds herself on the receiving end of the denunciations she once handed out so freely. Still, I never heard she attacked anyone with anything other than words.

83 comments to An intersection

  • Phil B

    “I got my phone out to film him to get evidence and he went for me again. It took three security guys at the stage to deal with him.

    Oooh! Calling a transgender “HE/HIM” … that’s off to the Gulag for you, Comrade!

    In the victimisation league tables points scoring, that has GOT to rank as an own goal, surely?

  • bobby b

    There was a time when “feminists” were people who fought for equality. They gave the label value.

    The label has now been assigned to a different cause, which is milking the value out of it. Once they have completely devalued the label, you can have it back.

    But, by then, you won’t want it.

  • Nullius in Verba

    ““Removed for his own safety”. “He knew ‘nothing would come of it’”. Modern policing in a nutshell.”

    It always was. In these situations, the job of the police is not to provide justice, but to keep order. Those are two very different things.

    “I’m still holding on to the idea that “what a feminist looks like” can include what I see in the mirror. But it is getting harder.”

    From the point of view of not being in the same camp as Ms Bindel, that’s easy. You wouldn’t dispute the case over the word ‘woman’. “You are a woman. Julie is a woman. Therefore you are like Julie”? Obvious nonsense! So why does “You are a feminist. Julie is a feminist. Therefore you are a feminist of the Bindel type.” make sense?

    However, perhaps a better question is whether being a ‘feminist’ is still a meaningful distinction in the sense that the war has been mostly won. Women have the vote. Women go out to work. Women drive cars. Women lead the country. Women can wear trousers and cut their hair short if they like. It’s not widely disputed nowadays. Feminists got given what they asked for. So to some degree we’re all feminists in the original sense. The label is almost empty of meaning. But when the war is won, the army needs to find a new battle to fight to justify its existence, so new wars are started. Are you a soldier in this new war? If ‘feminism’ is defined only by its contrast with whatever present perceived social tyranny it stands against, then its meaning has changed, because society has. If feminism is defined as opposition only to the old and now defunct culture, then you will always be one.

    Words change meanings over time. Woman. Feminist. Liberal. What definition are you using? And must everyone use the same one?

  • Itellyounothing

    This is not the world I want hand over my son.

    I am quietly hopeful that Marxism-variants are taking heat.

    The headline acts show signs of desperation in their shrill accusations.

    Climate change is looking wobbly.
    Feminism has taken considerable reputational damage. Islam is fending off accusations of paedophilia.

    Islam is fighting LGBT teaching in schools

    Trump, Brexit, salvina, Orban, Le Pen.

    Will it be enough?

  • pst314

    “I’m still holding on to the idea that “what a feminist looks like” can include what I see in the mirror. But it is getting harder.”

    Even in the 60’s and 70’s I was encountering feminists who clearly hated med and/or wanted to establish a Maoist tyranny.

    …whether being a ‘feminist’ is still a meaningful distinction in the sense that the war has been mostly won.

    The feminist activists who remain are the ones who are not satisfied with the reasonable victories that have been achieved, and who want to go on to either eradicate men or eradicate liberal democracy…or just burn everything down.

  • CaptDMO

    Feminists wanted equality?
    No.Suffragists wanted equality. SOME were known as Suffragettes.

  • Fraser Orr

    I think it is interesting how in this situation every single thing that happened was wrong.

    The man was “removed for his own safety”. Would not his safety also have been ensured by removing the thugs who threatened and assaulted him?

    “Nothing would come of it”, because apparently in Britain, assault and battery, when done for the “right reasons” is no longer a crime?

    “She lost her job”, so perhaps some on our side are salivating at that, but I am not. What the hell has this to do with her job? If you concede that she can lose her job for doing something unpleasant but completely unrelated to her job, you also concede that a Rugby player can lose his job for saying things about homosexuality that are repulsive, or the a guy appointed CTO of a large internet company can lose his job for contributing to a political cause unpopular with the woke. Or for that matter, you can lose your job for putting a toe across the ever shifting lines of political correctness enough that someone complains and you too end up naked and undefended before the Star Chamber.

    Then other people are threatening her friends and family? I mean seriously? (Though I must say I am a little skeptical of that claim, it does seem to be a go to claim for anyone who humiliates themselves in public these days. It seems to offer a little cover for their shame.)

    Literally everyone did the wrong thing here.

    But on a broader picture thing, the woke ones are constantly tarring and feathering people for the new cardinal sin of “hate”. It is the universal catch all for calling someone a bad person. But what exactly was this crowd doing if they were not hating? Apparently only the wrong kind of hate is unacceptable.

    And one more thing, what ever happened to Godwin’s law? Since when did the indiscriminate comparison to Hitler and the Nazis suddenly become anything less than deserving of mockery? I mean the lack of self awareness, the black irony of such a comparison on this day of all days is nothing short of shocking.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    What is needed is a binding book on Feminism, perhaps called ‘Das Feminism’, around which a strident party of Feminists could coalesce, and enforce Feminism on the world! And you could write that book, Natalie! Instead of everyone claiming that their individual views are Feminism, YOU could claim to be the ultimate arbitratrix! What could go wrong?

  • Gavin Longmuir

    To paraphrase the great Ronald Reagan — I did not leave feminism. Feminism left me.

  • Jack the dog

    Words serve to communicate meaning, if we don’t agree on the meaning we can’t communicate.

  • Radu

    “Eventually I answered that yes, I was, but that my understanding of what being a feminist entails seems to have been abandoned by most of those who describe themselves as feminists” – in my view any identity politics movement will inherently go in this direction, so if you consider yourself a feminist, you need to accept this as part of it and that this is it’s inevitable conclusion. Otherwise you go down the road of an idealized version, not a real world one, not unlike the “not real socialism” crowd.

  • APL

    “Debate never works so f**k them up”

    That’s the left in a nutshell! Poor arguments, short attention span, low IQ coupled with a predisposition to violence.

    “Are you still a feminist?”

    Feminism has always been a lie. The great founding lie of the suffragette movement that they alone won the franchise for women. When in fact nobody had the franchise, not even working men.

    That other rotten lie of Feminism, women should have the right to kill their own offspring.

    The only equality worth having, is equality before the law, and feminists have worked and are working today, to destroy what equality there once was.

  • Stonyground

    “Climate change is looking wobbly.”

    It has been looking wobbly for decades now, the political class still haven’t got the memo. Climate Emergencies are being declared, “Zero Carbon” targets are being set. I suppose it is too much to hope for that all the alarmist idiots will do their bit by not breathing.

    The usual suspects are trying to blame Brexit for the proposed closure of the Ford engine plant in Wales. A government that presides over spiralling energy costs, and that talks about banning cars powered by the type of engines that are made there, can’t possibly have anything to do with it then?

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I suppose Brexit is also responsible for your lower-than-Europe unemployment figures? Why can’t you have lots of young unemployed people, and a massive bureaucracy, like the French? You could if you really tried!

  • Stuart

    How dare you suggest some women might claim rape to get back at someone. I happen to know of just such a case and luckily the young man was found innocent by the court. What the whole ordeal put his family through is off the scale. He also told his mother that if he went to prison, he’d end his life. The young woman walked free as a bird of course.

  • Rob

    So Bindel gets a taste of what her own side has been doing to others for a decade or more. Boo hoo. Start a war and an arms race, sooner or later someone nuttier and more committed than you is going to come along. Too late to start crying about the Geneva Convention then.

    As for this woman’s dismissal, good. In an ideal world it shouldn’t happen, but her and her fellow travellers have been engaged in total warfare against us for a long time. If you don’t fight back with every weapon available you are going to lose. Examples like this may make them think twice before doing particularly stupid or vile things to their enemies, but probably won’t, as most of them seem to have mental health issues anyway.

  • The Pedant-General

    Rob,

    “As for this woman’s dismissal, good. In an ideal world it shouldn’t happen, but her and her fellow travellers have been engaged in total warfare against us for a long time. If you don’t fight back with every weapon available you are going to lose.”

    I think we can do both: we can deplore that she has lost her job AND say “we told you so – this is what YOU have been doing”. We can deplore the actions of those that hound her AND display zero sympathy to her.

  • neonsnake

    If she deserves firing, or being hounded from her job for calling someone “scum” (“Nazi scum” or otherwise), then an amount of commentators here deserve the same. I wonder how many times we’ve called people “Remoaner scum” or “Marxist scum”?

    Eventually I answered that yes, I was

    Quite right too. Don’t let other people’s abuse of a term, and ever-changing it’s meaning, stop you from applying it to yourself.

  • Stephen Houghton

    The scary thing about the milkshaking and other forms of unpunished assault is that this is how death squads start, when people feel they can’t depend on the law to protect them.

  • Fraser Orr

    The question “are you a feminist” is an interesting one. On the surface, and trivially, it seems a simple question, but it really isn’t and this is true of a lot of labels like this (pro-life, pro-choice, white nationalist, socialist, alt-right etc.)

    Most of the time it is like asking “Manchester United or Liverpool”? It isn’t really asking about your views at all, it is asking what team you are on. For many people, though certainly not people like Natalie, they chose their team and then decides what they believe based on the orthodoxy of the team. The assumption that one’s views are established and from that one chooses a team, a tribe, a social group, is almost exactly backward in most cases. Back here in the real world what actually happens is social circumstances (and so some degree personal volition) put you into certain groups and tribes, and membership of those groups and tribes demands of you a certain set of beliefs.

    In a sense there is a certain rational logic to this. What you believe has, for the most part, absolutely no effect on the world around you, however, the social group you embrace impacts and influences every aspect of your life — in a very real sense your social connections are the root of your happiness. So to sacrifice that for something so insignificant as logical consistency, or acceptance of the facts is a poor trade.

    I think the clearest example of this is the belief held by a shockingly large number of Americans that the world is about six thousand years old. Although this is plainly not correct, and almost every American has been taught the data as to why it is incorrect it is still widely held. Why? Because the age of the earth has absolutely no impact whatsoever on most people’s life experience. However, the local church with all its social dynamics, “answers to life”, ceremony and all the other things a church offers has a huge impact on people’s lives. Why would you trade the former for the latter?

    However, for pensive people like Natalie the question is rather more difficult. It is more along the lines of “do the beliefs you have intersect to a sufficiently large margin with the beliefs that come under the orthodoxy of this belief system.” The challenge is, and perhaps the one she struggles with, is that that orthodoxy of the belief system is ever shifting and changing. In fact one of the great tools of the manipulators of society is to adjust that orthodoxy so as to force people into beliefs that they perhaps aren’t comfortable with so that they may retain the label. (You see this going on right now, for example, with abortion in America. The shift in the orthodoxy on abortion from “women have the right to first trimester abortions” toward “women can terminate their offspring even, in extreme cases, post natal” is being done by the great manipulators of society, so that many people who comfortably labelled themselves pro-choice now are forced into extreme beliefs they don’t really hold.)

    And of course that is precisely the struggle with third wave feminism. The transformation under the same label for “women should be allowed to own property & women should be allowed to vote” to “male patriarchy” and “women have a right to a president” and “all sex is rape” and some of the other extreme views is presented in such a way that if you want to be called a “feminist” you must accept the whole package as defined by Andrea Dworkin. And to reject this form of “feminism” is to be adjudged as thinking that we should go back to the days of “don’t beat your wife with a stick thicker than your thumb”.

    The purpose of the label is to eliminate the gray in between.

    OK, i could ramble on about this, but I’ll leave it at that.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fraser, my compliments. I think your elucidation of what’s going on is well thought out and very well put.

    .

    Additionally, I would note that “the orthodoxy of the belief system” not only changes, but sometimes becomes switched over onto a track that leads to a different destination from the original. It may be that while there were from the start a few persons subsumed under the rubric X who had beliefs and agendas significantly different from those of most, that fringe has managed to manipulate, through propaganda and ultimately through intimidation, people’s understanding, so that X now signifies something far (but actually, not altogether disconnected from) the original idea.

    .

    I do question this idea that the “Young Earth” belief is all that widespread. Maybe it’s like not knowing anybody who voted for Nixon, but I just don’t see it very prevalent on the Net — Messrs. Peterson and Haidt possibly to the contrary.

    .

    Also, here and there throughout history women have been legally able to own property. And here in the Colonies, in some states women could vote before the Revolutionary War.

    Women have been business owners for over two centuries at least.

    And at the turn of the 20th century, I understand that there were more female than male doctors, at least in the U.S. It’s sometimes said that that is because at that time most vets were women, and most doctors were trained as vets. But the fact remains, no matter the reason.

    That’s not to say that women in general enjoyed the opportunity to work in whatever field they liked, but it is to point out that we were not entirely prohibited from doing work or business more commonly done by men, even though the status of women as paid workers and also the types of jobs they could get were hardly up to today’s standards.

    I note also that women’s status socially, legally, and in the availability of jobs — as well as their enjoyment of socially acceptable and legally protected autonomy — historically swang back and forth between better and worse, at least in England and probably in the Colonies and then the U.S. as well.

    Like a lot of history, different historians reach different conclusions about women’s situations in history. But I assume that the Great Foot is reasonably accurate in its rundown of this history:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_women_in_the_United_Kingdom

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Julie: “… different historians reach different conclusions about women’s situations in history.”

    One does not have to know much about history to be aware of women from Boadicea to Joan of Arc to Catherine the Great to Madame Curie. But let’s never forget the absolutely essential contribution women have made to history — bearing and bringing up the next generation. In fact, if women had not done that, there would have been no history. As Mark Steyn has observed, ‘Demography is Destiny’.

    The great failure of the “Feminist” movement is that it has demeaned the absolutely essential role that women as mothers play in the story of the human race — or possibly that is what the rulers of the “Feminist” movement see as their greatest success? As the Japanese are currently demonstrating, if the average woman does not have 2.1 children, modern society goes away. In previous eras, with much higher rates of infant mortality, the average number of children necessary to keep society in existence was even higher.

    This is not to suggest that women should spend their lives in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. But it is beyond strange that “Feminists” have chosen to demean instead of to celebrate the essential role that women have always played in successful societies.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I do question this idea that the “Young Earth” belief is all that widespread. Maybe it’s like not knowing anybody who voted for Nixon, but I just don’t see it very prevalent on the Net — Messrs. Peterson and Haidt possibly to the contrary.”

    It’s probable that people change their answers depending on how they think the surveyors are going to misuse the result. A question that is obviously targeted at Christian (or Jewish/Muslim) belief will be taken as such, not interpreted literally.

    There’s a much more detailed series of questions on people’s beliefs here. It’s interesting that while 39% affirmed “God created the universe, the earth, the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, and the first two people within the past 10 000 years.”, only 18% affirmed “The earth is less than 10 000 years old.” How can 10-20% of the population think that the Earth is more than 10 thousands years old, but also that the universe and Earth are less than 10 thousand years old?! Clearly, something else is going on here.

    They’re not describing their actual factual beliefs. Whether they’re declaring tribal membership, or expressing support for the tribe, or trying to stop those damn liberal social scientists doing another news article in ‘Atheist Weekly’ on how nobody believes in the Bible any more… or maybe there are a large subset who are just answering at random? Or giving silly answers for a joke? Anyway, I don’t think you can take it as a truthful description of what Americans actually believe.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Gavin and Nullius, good points both.

    (I do fault you both for dragging logic into it. Logic is phallocentric and was invented to empower the patriarchy. This is well known to any feminist worthy of the name. Which is one reason why Natalie and I don’t make the cut.)

  • Women have been business owners for over two centuries at least. (Julie near Chicago, June 7, 2019 at 5:56 pm)

    Women have been business owners for over two millennia at least – probably over three that could be historically verified, and probably longer that couldn’t – not in every time and place, but at most times in various places. Just of the top of my head,

    – Lydia, dealer in purple cloth and perhaps the very first European Christian, mentioned towards the end of a certain book.

    – The Egyptian woman – also a trader in cloth – whose sons were murdered in the “Voices of ancient Egypt” collection. (Other ancient Egyptian women ran businesses without having such eventful lives.)

    And of course Rose the regrater from Piers Ploughman is merely one of many a “femme sole” businesswoman you’ll find if you look at mediaeval England. (The legal status of femme sole meant her husband was not liable if her business went bankrupt – the mediaeval husband could be surprisingly modern about things like that. 🙂 )

  • bobby b

    “I think the clearest example of this is the belief held by a shockingly large number of Americans that the world is about six thousand years old.”

    Do you know anyone who holds such a belief?

    I know one. He’s about 96 years old, reads his Bible constantly, and awaits the Rapture.

    But my wanderings put me into the orbits of lots of people who would be prime suspects for such a belief – I encounter lots and lots of fundamentalists (in the mid-USA version of fundies), and I don’t know anyone in that cohort who actually believes such stuff.

    Granted, if you line them up and ask them a question that dares them to contradict church teachings, you might get some other result – so says the newer Gallup poll results that some 40%+ Americans share that belief – but talk to them in person, and they tend to know surprisingly more about science, philosophy, biology . . . about most any subject than their more secular counterparts in the big city.

    (I Don’t know why that is – does leading a life of religious introspection bring one more into the “life of the mind”? Or do the dumber ones leave the relatively bleak religious-community-life for more instantly-gratifying realms? ??)

    Some of my best, most challenging political/philosophical discussions have been with fundamentalists, who know WAY more about the world than one might suspect. Question any of them about this concept, and you’re going to get a wry look, and a “you know better than that, bobby b.”

    In any case, “it says so in The Book, and I’m not going to dispute that in my speech, even allegorically” isn’t the same as specific individuals believing the earth is 6-10k years old.

  • I stopped calling myself as a ‘feminist’ during the 1980s. On the one hand, I was not exactly “Hello, I’m a feminist” at the start of the 80s, and on the other hand, I was not at all “Hello, I’m not a feminist” at the start of the 90s. And of course, it made essentially no difference, since any and every issue remained to be considered on its merits – I do not think in labels. But maybe the gradual part-decision, part-awareness that happened to me in that decade is relevant to this thread.

    Like ‘fascism’, the word ‘feminism’ has a heads–they-win, tails-you-lose duplicity of meanings but early in the 80s, I saw only the plus side. It seemed to mean nothing that a gentleman wouldn’t want to be. I believed in western civilisation, including its development of a concept of chivalry over a millennium or more. In those days, I saw the Aikido instructor always arranged a flower when he came onto the dojo, part of an eastern tradition that the warrior should also know the arts of peace, and found myself thinking that the western knight, seeking his lady’s favour, was pursuing a similar goal by a more demanding discipline (flowers don’t answer back). That seemed to me to be part of the history of why the old feminist goals flowered here. It also seemed to overlap with other things I approved. For example, researching the history of Victorian women becoming doctors showed the medical establishment acting like a trade union. In the Victorian view of things, for women to care for the sick was anything but ‘unwomanly’. Where questioning the recruitment of woman as soldiers or policemen could include honestly-held doubt of their suitability for such roles, it seemed clear part of the Victorian ‘women doctors?’ issue was the fear in a competitive profession that the opposite could apply to female doctors. Milton Friedman had told me that unions often use prejudice to aid their goal of restricting new entrants.

    During the 80s I had some feminist friends. (In one trivial sense, I had many of course – Natalie for example – and as I’ve said, I began the decade accepting the term myself, but I mean explicit eager carriers of the term.) One was expelled from a feminist group for not becoming a lesbian. Another was unable to find one she could join for the same and related reasons. A third saved me a packet by lending me books from her extensive and representative library of recent consciousness-raising works, and defending their philosophies in debate with me when I’d read them and wanted to check they literally meant what they said. Of course, I also had mere acquaintances who were loud feminists and (unlike my friends) not advertisements for the personal pleasantness of such, and I also had friends who were loudly not feminists and were advertisements for how achieving a girl could be who scorned the label. But it was the books that, indirectly, changed my mind.

    The predominant kind were perfectly summed up in this verbatim quote.

    There is no such thing as objective research. There is only feminist research and sexist research.

    The other, less predominant, kind were represented by e.g. The Sceptical Feminist. Obviously, I agreed with Janet Radcliffe Richards’ first chapter, where she documented how routinely and vehemently feminist polemicists said things like the above, then argued that a feminist movement that rejected objectivity would meet problems (though, stupidly, neither she nor I foresaw the inevitable endpoint: that the very definition of ‘woman’ would become wholly subjective). But by the time I’d read her final chapter I had retitled it The not-very-sceptical-at-all feminist who thinks John Rawls’ difference theory is a divine revelation, but at least she’s not clinical.

    As communism brings Mao and Stalin to the top, as socialism brings Chavez to the top, so it became clear to me that the predominants would win – had indeed already won and would continue to win – control of the movement’s (and so the word’s) public face and future direction. It was not just, not even mainly, not even significantly, for failing to be lesbian that my politically committed though personally man-oriented friends would never get to leaven what ‘feminism’ meant with any dash of their own personal qualities. I connected the movement’s initial disdain for ‘masculine’ forms of force with its unusually rapid (as these ideologies go) rejection of objectivity, its attempt to rule the mind directly, but otherwise it seemed to have enough in common with other ideologies I had rejected that I no longer cared for the word.

    On samizdata I might in a very particular context call myself a feminist, just as I might in a very particular context call myself a liberal, in the sense of a past time when my views could accord with enough of what either word then meant. People let you explain on samizdata, and they regard context. But out in the wider world I would no more call myself a feminist than I would call myself a liberal. I am not a brexit-hating elitist UK liberal, and, if possible, I am even less a US liberal. And I’m not a feminist either.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    “Do you know anyone who holds such a belief [Young Earth]?”

    I met one — though I am sure Niall will tell me to be cautious about believing anything he said. 🙂 Interestingly enough, he was a geologist who could talk the talk about geological ages and eustatic levels along with the best of them. He said that his belief in the Young Earth was — quite obviously — a belief. He had no problem with the apparent older age of the planet because that was the way the Good Lord had made it. It was a completely logical explanation in terms of his beliefs. And Pascal might advise us not to dismiss his beliefs too lightly.

    But since this topic is about the downwards path of “Feminism” — Do you know anyone who believes that Hillary Rodham Clinton happened to read the Wall Street Journal, called her broker, and made $100,000 trading cattle futures — and then never dabbled in the futures market again? Compared to that belief, which is apparently widespread in certain quarters, Young Earth seems like a demonstration of pure logic.

    I am old enough to remember when the then-uncorrupted Feminists argued that the world would be a better place if women had more control. Now that we have the examples of Hillary! and May and Merkel before us, that particular belief seems increasingly untenable. The world may be no worse with women in charge … but it is certainly not going to be any better.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Bobby B
    Do you know anyone who holds such a belief [Young Earth]?

    Actually yes, I do. In fact I know a lot of them. Any fundamentalist Christian church, especially a Baptist Church in the south, will be full of them. (And to be fair on Christians, Muslims have many equally ridiculous beliefs, and many fundamentalist Muslims really do espouse those views. I know a fair number of them too. I’m not sure what the Muslim position is on the age of the earth though.)

    However, Gavin does make a fair point — what does it mean to “believe” something exactly? Since this seems to be my theme right now, I don’t think belief is a bifurcated thing either. It isn’t that one believes something or doesn’t believe it. One believes things to different degrees. And that is, as he rightly says, variable depending on the context. Saying you believe something, even convincing yourself that you do, is one thing, acting as if it were true, another.

    To give another example, I think nearly every Christian would believe in heaven, and I think a gigantic percentage of Americans believe in an afterlife. But how much do they believe? The guy who straps dynamite around his waist and pulls the trigger in the middle of a mall — he surely believes in an afterlife in a very practical way.

    It comes back to my original point — it is easy to say you believe something, or actually believe something (I’m not at all impugning their honesty) until such times as it costs you something. To be all “It’s in the Bible so I believe it” is all very well when saying so is all upside — the social benefit of participating fully in that particular social group with all the concomitant benefits, because there isn’t really any cost to believing it. In fact, religion takes some memetic advantage from this. By making your people believe ridiculous things not only does it generate a social cohesion, but it makes it difficult to have that same cohesion with those outside. So not only does it benefit you staying in, it makes it expensive to get out. (And again I am not especially suggesting some Machiavellian plot by the religious leaders here, merely, and perhaps ironically, observing that evolution and the survival of the fittest applies to social groups and belief systems too.)

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Fraser — Would you like to try applying your logic to today’s “Feminists”, then?

    I guess that most of us would agree with the tenets of true original Feminism — voting, property ownership, inheritance, etc should be independent of the gender of the individual. Employment should be based on the best person for the job, regardless of gender. Women should be free to pursue their own path in life, consistent with their interests and their abilities — just as men can do.

    But now we have “Feminists” — angry women who externalize all their problems and blame everything unsatisfactory in their lives on the (hypothesized) Patriarchy and believe that they should receive preferential treatment in every arena simply because of their gender. Do the “Feminists” really believe this? Is this an evolutionary dead end for their social group?

  • bobby b

    Someone started the fight on behalf of women, to gain for them true equality.

    They got most of it, but when they expressed satisfaction and a plan to stop fighting, more militant people cried out “don’t stop now while we’re winning!”, and they took up the battle and fought on, for more victories and spoils.

    Many women will look at the roles and treatment that women have historically been assigned, and reasonably label this a war. How many armies will fight the evil enemy back to their own border, and then stop a winning campaign right there? The reasoning will always be, keep fighting so long as we’re winning. Even if you’re deep into the enemy’s territory, why not go further and make our proper border more secure? It’ll make the next war easier, plus, if we’re winning now, we must have right on our side – let’s take it to that damned enemy!

  • Fraser Orr

    @Gavin Longmuir
    Fraser — Would you like to try applying your logic to today’s “Feminists”, then?

    Yes of course. When theory meets reality is when you find out what people really believe. You know when the anti abortion person finds that she is sixteen and pregnant by some loser, and is given the choice of fifteen minutes and problem be gone never to be thought of again, how much do you believe? Or the pro-choice woman who, while holding her new born baby remembers seeing that video of a partial birth abortion, and sees for a moment the face of her new baby in the one whose brains she advocated being sucked out. How much do you believe? Obviously here I am picking one specific issue, but it is the same for other things. The woman who tells us to “always believe women” might give pause when her brother is accused of rape without the slightest shadow of evidence, in fact in the face of exculpatory evidence. Belief in theory is one thing, costless belief is easy. And the truth is that I think believe is often an inchoate thing in many cases, informed by your theory, spoken in conformance, but birthed, concretized by its meeting with reality.

  • bobby b

    There are no atheists in foxholes?

  • neonsnake

    When theory meets reality is when you find out what people really believe.

    I believe that a lot of this has to do with variances in culture as well. My other half grew up in South America, in a very macho culture where girls were expected to act a certain way, be accepting of being groped on the street and were not expected to get engineering degrees. She is absolutely (also because of growing up in South America) not a “leftie”, in the sense that most on here use it (ie. socialist). But she’s absolutely a feminist.

    To use a trivial example, I was struggling to get a barbecue to work in an Air BnB some years ago, and called her to see if she could see what was wrong with it. She duly fixed it, and it’s something she uses as an example of why I’m a feminist – because in her country, the man would have pronounced it irreparably broken and ordered a pizza, not asked his practically minded girlfriend with the engineering degree to try to fix it.

    She’s also very aware (and very pleased) that in the UK, the culture is very different – but she’s not about to stop being a feminist, as she uses the word.

    On samizdata I might in a very particular context call myself a feminist

    I would, in almost all contexts and in all seriousness, term myself a feminist. I would also term myself woke, and an SJW, and a bunch of other words that have connotations that go beyond what I mean by those words. To an extent, I also believe in BLM and BelieveHer.

    The fact that other people (on the left and the right) have warped those words beyond their original meanings is their problem, not mine – especially when my arguments for solving problems implied by those terms tend towards “educate, don’t regulate”.

  • APL

    Gavin Longmuir: “This is not to suggest that women should spend their lives in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. ”

    But in actual fact, a fact not defined by the ‘Patriarchy’, that is the best place for a young fertile woman. Looking after her family. Once they’ve grown up, there are plenty of fallow years for a woman to develop both a career, and her extended family life.

    I have lost count of formerly attractive nubile women who are now looking after half a dozen cats, or a clutch of spaniels ( and referring to them as ‘her babies’ ). Or turning a joyful experience of spontaneous sex, into a queue at the GP and scheduled visits to the fertility clinic in increasingly desperate and expensive attempts to conceive after 35.

    Feminism, has been an absolute boon to Women. Not!

  • Nullius in Verba

    “However, Gavin does make a fair point — what does it mean to “believe” something exactly? Since this seems to be my theme right now, I don’t think belief is a bifurcated thing either. It isn’t that one believes something or doesn’t believe it. One believes things to different degrees. And that is, as he rightly says, variable depending on the context.”

    Indeed. With scientists, I sometimes make the point by asking whether they believe in Newtonian mechanics, rigid bodies, inviscid fluids, perfect gases, frictionless planes, point particles, and so on. If you ask them directly whether any of those things exist, they’ll say ‘no’. But they’ll routinely act as if they do, without hesitation or any feelings of cognitive dissonance. While they’re using it, they genuinely believe in it, at least temporarily.

    ‘Beliefs’ are what scientific philosophers would call mental models of the world. All models are approximate – i.e. not true. But they often give a close enough answer for practical use. People can have lots of different models, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, and they can pick and switch between them as circumstances demand. The mind can shift into different mental frames, and what’s “true” depends on what frame you’re in. When a physicist is working out which way a gyroscope will wobble, he or she thinks of it as a rigid body. He or she has temporarily forgotten that such a thing is physically impossible.

    “Suspension of disbelief” is one of the human mind’s most important talents. If we read or watch fiction, we “get into” the fictional world, and it is temporarily all true. People have impassioned debates about why a character in some book or film did this or that. Some people make a career of it! But when you think about it, this ability to temporarily believe things that are not true is actually very strange. It turns out to be incredibly useful, though.

    “Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

    “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

    “To be all “It’s in the Bible so I believe it” is all very well when saying so is all upside — the social benefit of participating fully in that particular social group with all the concomitant benefits, because there isn’t really any cost to believing it.”

    I don’t know about this. I’ve seen plenty of people pay a huge social cost for the sake of expressing their beliefs, even about trivial matters. And I’ve seen them suffer a huge personal cost when social conformity demands they hide a truth they believe in. Certainly, I will believe that a lot of people lie about their beliefs in order to fit in, but the trick of changing what you actually believe to fit in is much harder. Cognitive dissonance, sure. Context-dependent mental models, sure. But if people were always such social chameleons, nobody would ever argue.

    And nowadays there is a far higher social cost to being known as a Creationist – I wonder if perhaps a lot of the people who believe it, and are willing to say so in an anonymous survey, hide it socially? Do people nowadays pretend not to believe to fit in?

    As for whether and in what sense somebody could actually believe it, consider the following question. What answer would you get if you asked a die-hard Star Trek fan whether they believe that Spock died sacrificing his own life for the many, during the creation of a planet called Genesis, and then rose from the dead? Yes. Because that’s what happened.

    Is that belief?

  • APL

    neosnake: “The fact that other people (on the left and the right) have warped those words beyond their original meanings is their problem, not mine”

    Everyone else is wrong but you, possible but unlikely. You should stop identifying with those labels, they do not convey the meaning you associate with them. Nor were they ever intended to.

    Although, it is occasionally amusing when in the office to return the greeting; “Good morning APL, how are you today?” with the reply, “I’m feeling delightfully gay, thank you!”. My small and futile campaign to reclaim the word for general English usage.

  • “Do you know anyone who holds such a belief [Young Earth]?”

    I met one — though I am sure Niall will tell me to be cautious about believing anything he said. 🙂
    (Gavin Longmuir, June 8, 2019 at 12:00 am)

    Since you ask (I would otherwise of course not have desire to say anything 🙂 – or might have restrained any such desire), I would on the contrary say that if he seemed sincere to you then why not assume he personally means what he says. The only caution I would advise is about swallowing wholesale any “they all think” idea when the group in question is one the media dislike and have been drip-drip denigrating for decades.

    There are loads of Christians who have read C.S.Lewis, who, like him, are literalists about e.g. “a day in his courts is as ten thousand years” and so are not quite literalists (are ‘other timeline-ists’) about e.g. “seven days” and there are others who reverse the choice, who treat the first statement as just a metaphor and the second as a statement about our timeline. (I’d say the latter were rarer, but I once dined with, and had a long interesting discussion with, a Glasgow couple, where the man had been reclaimed from a life of gangs and drugs by Christian belief, who held that second viewpoint.) There are also many who have not philosophically parsed these issues and are like the ones Burke describes as keeping an object of value encrusted with superstition as they might keep their loyalty by liking their country’s legends, or C.S.Lewis comparison to a man carrying around a nut till he finds a nutcracker “not because he’s an idiot, but because he isn’t”. These may be the same people being described in comments earlier in this thread as accepting the belief because it does not immediately matter to them. Perhaps it is a kinder way of saying the same thing.

    Getting back on topic, or at least related to what I wrote above, an important issue is who will rise to the top to define the word to the wider world. What beliefs must you show you actually immediately believe in order to be the movers and shakers of a movement. AFAICS, talking emphatically about the young earth is not a big deal for Christian leaders today whereas talking about making the hate speech laws tougher is a good deal for a would-be leader of feminism today.

  • neonsnake

    Then you should stop identifying as such, such labels do not convey the meaning you associate with them.

    No, because they hammer home the point very hard that as well as being anti-Big Government, I’m also against tyranny of the majority and that I’m not traditionally conservative.

  • APL

    neonsnake: ” and that I’m not traditionally conservative

    You don’t support the Cornerstone group, you oppose the traditional conservative values. What are you trying to say?

    Handy definitions from Urban Dictionary.

    wokeThe act of being very pretentious about how much you care about a social issue.
    SJWSocial Justice Warrior. A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation.

    SJW and woke say nothing about an individuals stance on ‘big government’.

  • neonsnake

    What are you trying to say?

    That I don’t believe that our leadership should base their leadership on encouragement of (eg) “the traditional family”, Judeo-Christian religion, reverence for the Monarchy, and that I’m not skeptical or scared of social changes. On the contrary, I believe that individuals should be free to live their life howsoever they choose (within the constraint of not harming others), with neither legal repercussions, not social repercussions that are backed up and legitimised by views that our government consciously espouses. Our leadership should be carefully neutral in how it expresses itself on how people choose to live their lives, in my opinion.

    Urban Dictionary is probably a great example of how those words got warped. Woke, in it’s “original contemporary” usage (oxymoron, I know, but I trust we’re all smart enough to understand) meant nothing more than thinking critically about the world and understanding that oppression exists, and hasn’t entirely gone away just because laws were made attempting to fix the problems that historically oppressed groups faced. It also, critically, doesn’t ignore that things are significantly better than in the past.

    The same is largely true for SJW, although it much more commonly used as a pejorative. I use it as a signifier that I believe that libertarianism is not just compatible with helping those most vulnerable in society, but is actually a better way to help – and further, that a political system that will also help those most vulnerable is important to me. It’s provocative, though.

    SJW and woke are stereotypically pejorative terms aimed at people who believe that state intervention is the only way to correct injustices, both social and legal. They would normally indicate that the person they’re aimed at would also push for “big government” to fix the problems they’re protesting about.

  • APL

    “meant nothing more than thinking critically about the world …”

    Gaining my sympathy there.

    “and understanding that oppression exists,”

    And, it’s gone!

  • neonsnake

    What, you don’t believe that oppression exists anymore? Anywhere? In the whole world?

    How about China?

    How about Dubai?

    How about Cuba?

  • APL

    neonsnake: “Anywhere? In the whole world? How about China? How about Dubai? How about Cuba?”

    And as a resident of the United Kingdom ( I presume ) why is it any of your business how foreigners run their own countries?

    I’d have thought you globalists would have learned your lesson** ( at others expense, natch ). But no, after 30 years of mayhem, you’ve still got the blood lust.

    ** At the expense of hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians, that meddling in another countries internal affairs is probably a bad idea.
    But no, these three examples were but a dry run for the really big one, China. How many bombs will it take to reform China to your tastes?

    neonsnake: “Judeo-Christian religion ”

    One more time, there is no such thing as a ‘Judeo-Christian’ religion.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “At the expense of hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians…”

    And why do *you* care what happens to Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians?

  • APL

    Nullius in Verba: “And why do *you* care what happens to Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians?”

    In truth I don’t. But if those thousands and thousands had to be slaughtered, I’d rather it be at the hand of the societies they created*. Rather than by a cabal of international globalists who claimed to be bringing ‘judeo-christianity’, or ‘democracy’ or whatever pathetic transparent excuse du jour, for their diabolically bloodthirsty and gruesome empire building.

    I am happy to propose, as an olive branch, we should drop Anthony Blair, Alasdiar Campbell, David Cameron, that French president chappie and Hillary Clinton into the middle of Tripoli ( sans personal protection details ) and let them get a taste of the wonderful society which between them, they created.

    *It might, after all give their surviving decedents, surviving relatives or co-ethnics the incentive to improve their own societies. But that would be entirely for them to decide among themselves.

  • neonsnake

    And as a resident of the United Kingdom ( I presume ) why is it any of your business how foreigners run their own countries?

    That wasn’t the question. The question was “You don’t believe that oppression exists anymore? Anywhere?”

    (Whether you care or not is of secondary importance)

    One more time, there is no such thing as a ‘Judeo-Christian’ religion.

    Tell that to the traditional conservatives, not to me.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “In truth I don’t.”

    Oh, OK. I assumed you mentioned it for a reason.

    “But if those thousands and thousands had to be slaughtered, I’d rather it be at the hand of the societies they created*.”

    Why? What does it matter to you who slaughters them?

    And of course, “they” didn’t create those societies. Their ancestors did, or their invaders did, or the Socialists did, or whatever.

    But in that case, why should anyone else care if *you* get oppressed? By SJWs, or Marxists, or Feminists, or Brussels Eurocrats? After all, your society created them, voted for them, granted them power, didn’t it?

    Or are you saying that we shouldn’t care? That we should let them do it to you?

    ‘Do unto others as you would have others do unto you’ – as the Christians would have it. When you see someone being attacked by robbers, do you carefully walk by on the other side of the road, or do you go and help? Who is your ‘neighbour’ – only someone from your own religious/national community, or someone who is willing to help others irrespective of nationality or religion?

    Conservative, but not very Christian.

  • Paul Marks

    The “mainstream media”, owned by “Woke” Big Business, encourages this campaign of violent attacks.

    For example, “Our Cartoon President” (broadcast by one of the biggest Corporations on the planet) encourages its viewers to throw bottles (glass bottles) at supporters of President Trump, it also encourages people to poison their food (incitement to murder), and to stab them.

    Why is not Mr Stephen Colbert and the rest of the crew of this show not arrested for incitement to violence? We all know the answer – because the establishment elite think it is fine (indeed praiseworthy) to incite violence (including MURDER) against people – as long as the intended targets are CONSERVATIVES.

    The “Deep State” very much does exist – take the example of the “liberal” (i.e. MARXIST) John Brennan.

    Mr Brennan was a long time supporter of the American Communist Party – so (of course) he became head of the CIA (someone who thinks this meant so dramatic change in the political objectives of Mr Brennan has not being paying attention to what has been happening in the West for a long time now). When Donald Trump became President Mr Brennan stopped being head of the CIA – but (for no good reason) he kept his security clearance.

    President Trump formally ordered last year that Mr Brennan no longer have a security clearance – something a fanatical enemy of the West, John Brennan, should never have had in the first place. But the Federal bureaucracy did NOT follow the order of the President.

    To use a favourite word of Mr Brennan this is “treason” – an attempt to undermine the Constitutional government, on behalf of the un elected bureaucracy (the Deep State) with their objective of the total extermination.

    Make no mistake – people such as the Marxist (sorry I mean “liberal”) John Brennan and “Woke” Big Business are working together. Mr Brennan himself is now employed by NBC – which is owned by Comcast (one-of-the-biggest-corporations-on-the-planet).

    Why should this come as a surprise? Comcast, Disney and so on are controlled by university educated managers – universities that teach Marxist “Critical Theory” doctrines (and little else). They see no reason why they would not be happy as senior officials in a Collectivist society – with no pesky things such as competition to worry about.

    It is not just Youtube, Facebook and Twitter – it is Mastercard and the banks as well.

    It will not be just milkshakes – some of the “Woke” (including the billionaire “Woke”) want us DEAD.

    Some of them have no problem at all with the idea of us (dissenters) being killed – indeed they think that would be “cool”.

    After all they are in love with the People’s Republic of China – which they see as the model for a future World State.

  • APL

    NiV: “What does it matter to you who slaughters them?”

    I believe in the principle of non aggression, perhaps you don’t. I’d rather my country didn’t attack foreign countries unless we are attacked first.

    I consider it my obligation to reign in the more bloodthirsty tendencies of my ruling elite. I recognise I have failed to do that and consequently millions of Syrians, Iraqis, Kurds, Yazidi and Libyans have died needlessly.

    Niv: “But in that case, why should anyone else care if *you* get oppressed? ”

    I think you’ll find they don’t, ( We know full well the SJW’s don’t care ). We are judging the behaviour of foreigners in their own societies by our standards. In the event we end up the underdog you’ll find that it will be their standards of ‘justice’ that are implemented, not ours.

    NiV: “After all, your society created them, voted for them, granted them power, didn’t it?”

    No, our society is infiltrated by an alien ideology, Marxism. Marxism may have been fostered in the West, but it is not of the West.

    It was tested to the destruction of millions in the Soviet Union and Communist China, but now for some reason supposedly intelligent people think it is a good idea to apply the variant of the ideology ‘intersectionalism’ to divide and attack the West.

    Feminism was but an early harbinger of intersectionalism. Which is essentially an attempt to sow discord and divide a society against itself.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Nullius in Verba
    I don’t know about this. I’ve seen plenty of people pay a huge social cost for the sake of expressing their beliefs, even about trivial matters.

    Sure, and I also know that many Christians have died for their beliefs too. But there is a curious cost/benefit analysis that goes on, where the benefit is measured in a way that you or I would not. I hesitate to mention this in the same sentence as Christians because obviously there is no equivalency here at all, it just serves as a stark example: When that guy with the dynamite blows himself up in the mall he is also performing a cost benefit analysis. I think people do this for a variety of reasons, but I think that some percentage of them do so in the belief that they are committing a holy act and will immediately be welcomed into paradise.

    For the Christian who asserts, in the face of often withering criticism, that he believes God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, what is the benefit? Again there are a lot of reasons people do this, but they are taught by their religion that they will be persecuted for their faith, and so there is a certain satisfaction when they are, in a manner that does not really do them all that much actual harm. I don’t say this to doubt their sincerity or suggest some Machiavellian manipulation. It is a mechanism that works below the conscious level and is insidiously built into the religious doctrines and methods through, as I mentioned earlier, a survival of the fittest mechanism.

    Certainly that creationist might be rejected among a particular social group, but the group that they care about, their religious group, welcomes and encourages them through this supposed persecution. It is almost a badge of honor, and it is certainly a sign of commitment to the group.

    Again, many of you may not have met people like this. No doubt you don’t know anyone who voted for Nixon either. But spend a few days on the social scene in a Baptist community in Mississippi or Alabama and you will see it all over the place. There are places in that region where it is considered the collapse of decent society, and the entry of Satan into our lives when young people sin by dancing at their weddings. (I have also seen this.)

    Getting back to the OT, the woman who was raging against that man with whom she disagreed, one might ask why she did it? Did either of them ever seriously think they would change any minds? Have they ever before? However, there is a certain visceral pleasure in ranting, a social joy in hanging out with your friends in a common cause, a deep human need to release our emotions in a loud and noisy way, kind of like a philosophical orgasm.

    We who write here might well consider this for ourselves. I mean why do we write and comment? Actually changing another’s mind is a rare thing indeed. But there certainly is a pleasure, a visceral pleasure in ranting and debating others. They say that no-one ever wins a debate on the web, nonetheless, it is often a lot of fun trying.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    neonsnake: “What, you don’t believe that oppression exists anymore? Anywhere? In the whole world? … How about Dubai?”

    Depends what one means by “oppression” — doesn’t it? The “Feminists” see oppression everywhere — but that is more of a comment on them and their deficiencies than on the other people who are supposedly oppressing them.

    Since you mention Dubai — I find it rather liberating to wander into a bar in the UAE and see people smoking. Personally, I don’t smoke — but I sense oppression in those Western countries where Big Intrusive Government forbids the bar owner from making an individual decision about whether or not to permit smoking in his bar.

    One could reasonably argue that using law (i.e. the credible threat ultimately of violence) to prohibit smoking in Western bars is a trivial example of “oppression”. But it is a real example. We can all choose to feel “oppressed” as “Feminists” do — or we can choose to get on with life. I know which is healthier.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I believe in the principle of non aggression, perhaps you don’t.”

    I believe in the principle of non-aggression only against people who aren’t aggressing. The only justification for society to interfere with the freedom of an individual is to prevent unconsented harm being done to others.

    “I think you’ll find they don’t”

    I think you’ll find I do, but you’re not making it easy!

    Should a father defend his wife and child? Should a policeman defend a law-abiding citizen against an assault? Should people raise a protest when they see people being fired for political incorrectness? If we live in a world where everyone has to defend themselves and nobody will help anyone else, we’re all going to hang separately.

    “We are judging the behaviour of foreigners in their own societies by our standards.”

    Absolutely! Whose standards would you suggest we use?

    “In the event we end up the underdog you’ll find that it will be their standards of ‘justice’ that are implemented, not ours.”

    Oh, yes. Start of the Second World War. Germany invading Poland. None of our British business, right? And of course, the result would have been German standards of justice, not Polish, had we operated by your principle of not interfering in the affairs of other nations. They’d have taken over Europe. Then Britain. Then Africa, Asia, Australia, South America, and Canada. And the Americans operating by your rules would still be sat on their thumbs saying “It’s not our problem…”

    “No, our society is infiltrated by an alien ideology, Marxism. Marxism may have been fostered in the West, but it is not of the West.”

    Marx and Engels used to discuss it over a pint in The Crescent pub in Salford, Manchester! It was invented in Britain, based on ideas from the French revolution, German philosophy, European political and economic thought.

    It’s arguably a British, certainly a European invention, that we exported to Russia, China, and all around the world. It’s totally a Western ideology.

    “Which is essentially an attempt to sow discord and divide a society against itself.”

    But you seem to be describing a society that is already divided against itself. If one part of society can watch another part get crushed, and say “None of my business. I’m only defending myself.” Then I’m not sure what you think there is left for them still to achieve?

    “For the Christian who asserts, in the face of often withering criticism, that he believes God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, what is the benefit?”

    That he considers it the truth, and important?

    Consider the case of the climate sceptic who asserts, in the face of withering criticism, that the oceans are not all going to boil. Why did we do it? I don’t think it was to be part of some social club.

    “Getting back to the OT, the woman who was raging against that man with whom she disagreed, one might ask why she did it? Did either of them ever seriously think they would change any minds? Have they ever before?”

    Us-and-Them tribal psychology makes people very angry, when they see what they instinctively feel are unbreakable moral rules being violated. It makes them feel better, like they did something to try to make the world a better place.

    “We who write here might well consider this for ourselves.”

    Quite so! It’s not like none of us have ever enjoyed an angry rant! The point of street protests is to do it to people’s faces, rather than anonymously over the internet.

  • APL

    NiV: “Marx and Engels used to discuss it over a pint in The Crescent pub in Salford, Manchester!”

    Ah, Yes. Farmer Marx, and the Reverend Engels, touched by the magic dirt of Salford and PRESTO! They’re British.

    By your token, Donald Trump became British because his plane landed at Stansted. It’s a preposterous assertion.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Ah, Yes. Farmer Marx, and the Reverend Engels, touched by the magic dirt of Salford and PRESTO! They’re British.”

    I didn’t say Marx/Engels were British. I said Marxism was arguably British.

    Engels’ father owned a textile factory in Salford, and Engels lived there where he studied the slums of Manchester and wrote “The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844”, which inspired Marx. It’s about Britain’s working class conditions, based on a number of British economic ideas, and was partly developed when Marx and Engels lived in Britain.

    It could also be argued to be French, German, Belgian, or American. But it’s from the West, certainly.

  • I was tending to think that some of the comments above (including my own at June 8, 2019 at 8:08 am) had wandered well off-topic to discuss religious belief themes. Then I came across this link (h/t instapundit) and realised it could maybe tie them together.

    There are dozens of Trump-era how-to spellbooks that blend folk magic with activist practice: the 2018 anthology The New Arcadia: A Witch’s Handbook to MagicalResistance; Michael Hughes’s 2018 Magic for the Resistance: Rituals and Spells for Change; David Salisbury’s 2019 Witchcraft Activism: A Toolkit for Magical Resistance (Includes Spells for Social Justice, Civil Rights, the Environment, and More); and Sarah Lyons’s forthcoming Revolutionary Witchcraft: A Guide to Magical Activism.

    Two male writers to just one woman in an area traditionally female! I think the feminists need to demand more equality here. To be fair, in practitioner numbers they may retain their traditional lead.

    While New Age practitioners of the 1960s onward often characterized their practice as unfailingly benign—the karmic “Rule of Three,” which predicted that any negative energy sent into the universe would reverberate threefold on a practitioner, was ubiquitous in neo-pagan circles—contemporary witch feminism rebrands occult darkness as a legitimate, even necessary response to a structural oppression.

    Did the witches who hexed Kavanaugh believe it worked? Did the witches who magically bound Trump think they just hadn’t sacrificed to Satan often enough, or do they think he’d be even worse if they had left him unbound?

    Reader, decide for yourself. I’m just amused that so off-topic a subthread (as I thought it) should have a route back to the OP. 🙂

  • Fraser Orr

    Nullius in Verba
    “For the Christian who asserts, in the face of often withering criticism, that he believes God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh, what is the benefit?”

    That he considers it the truth, and important?

    Sorry, I don’t buy it. You may well endure withering criticism for asserting that global warming is not true, but you probably have very good reason for believing that way. You assert it because you find the evidence compelling. Now let’s be clear, some people assert global warming is not true because it suits their agenda and their belief. You are probably convinced by the evidence, they are convinced because it aligns with their world view, irrespective of the evidence. So there are two types of believers here, for want of better terminology let’s call them rational and arational believers (omitting the term irrational — it is not that they have reasoned incorrectly, it is that they have not reasoned at all, by analogy with the terms immoral and amoral.)

    In terms of the six days of creation there are a tiny number of rational advocates, people like Ken Hamm, but the vast majority are arational advocates. For arational arguments the very raison d’etre of the arational argument is to maintain and enhance their position in the social group. (FWIW the same goes for arational advocates both of the CAGW and the anti-CAGW crowd. The correctness of the argument is orthogonal to the mechanism for attaching to it for the arational.)

    FWIW, I have never really thought about the term “arational” before typing it here, though I am familiar with the concept. I’m feeling like the cat that got the canary. I really like that terminology.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Fraser — With respect, either your idea there is not expressed very well … or possibly it is arational. 🙂

    Go all the way back to Euclid on the topic of rationality. We have to start with some “axioms” — fundamental points which we accept a priori as being true — and then we can deduce rational logical consequences of those axioms.

    Some people take as an axiom that there was a Big Bang 15 Billion years ago. But they will not give a rational answer when asked what was there before the Big Bang, or where the Big Bang happened, or where the material in the Big Bang came from. Some people take as an axiom that God created the world 6,000 years ago, and they will not discuss what was there before God created the world or whether God Himself was created. There is a certain amount of logical parallelism between those two belief systems.

    Now, when it comes to the evil leaders who push Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming and their useful idiot followers — they are just plain wrong. They are irrational — or to be precise, they have seized on one piece of accurate scientific information (CO2 is a radiatively active gas) and have made irrational unsupportable extrapolations from that one piece of evidence while ignoring everything else. The CAGW crowd are in no way comparable to those who hold a deep belief in a mysterious Big Bang or those who hold a deep belief in mysterious Divine Creation. Let’s not even get into the issue of those who wonder if those two mysterious beliefs are necessarily mutually exclusive.

    And I still think — rationally — “Feminists” should stop blaming their problems on other people and get a life.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Gavin Longmuir
    Fraser — With respect, either your idea there is not expressed very well … or possibly it is arational.

    Or possibly both….

    Go all the way back to Euclid on the topic of rationality. We have to start with some “axioms” — fundamental points which we accept a priori as being true — and then we can deduce rational logical consequences of those axioms.

    I think you missed the 20th century. Godel’s incompleteness theory, quantum mechanics, the halting problem… all ideas about unknowability, and they have applicability throughout philosophy. But don’t worry, we have a solution, a reliable way to “know things”. It is called the scientific method. It is the idea that your observe things, hypothesize as to what they mean, experiment based on that, then modify your hypothesis based on this. This process is subject to criticism in all aspects, both in terms of what an observation is, and what the process is (this is what I believe some call pan critical rationalism for that reason), and over time your circle closer to an accurate predictable model of the world. Axioms are not necessary. Axioms, or shall we call then “foundational assumptions” like everything are subject to critical examination and falsification, and the process itself, that is to say rationality, is subject to critical examination. The metric for success is how good our system is at predicting the future.

    So your idea that the big bang is a axiom is just plain wrong. The big bang is a theory for the origins of the present universe based on a two thousand years of circling the truth, experimenting, observing and getting closer and closer. It is not doctrinal orthodoxy, in fact there have been a dozen models of the origins of the universe quite different than this that were widely held, and then, over time rejected based on this rational process. (And there are some people who scientifically question the big bang theory today, whose idea are taken seriously.) Moreover you are incorrect if you think there is no scientific theory as to where the big bang came from, in fact there are many. You might want to read Laurence Krauss’s book “A Universe from Nothing” to learn one of the burgeoning theories.

    The six days of creation though is precisely what you say, a stated axiom based on no evidence, an theory that is not receptive to criticism or change, and that is held based not on rational enquiry, but based on the fiat declaration of an ancient book.

    So I don’t find your argument persuasive.

    It is one of the things I find amusing about those who rant and rave about their political positions, about good and evil, and how wrong you are. Because generally speaking these people have never given a moments though to what “right” and “wrong” actually means, or what makes something “right” or “wrong”. And yet they are so sure they are right, despite having build a skyscraper on sand.

    Of course not everyone is like that, the denizens of these parts being an exception. However, when you hear students who have never even run a shift at McDonalds, raging with certainty about how to run the world economy, with an absolute certainty as to their predicted outcome, one must smile a little at their earnest naivete.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Fraser O: “You might want to read Laurence Krauss’s book “A Universe from Nothing” to learn one of the burgeoning theories.”

    Man! You could have saved me from signing on to Amazon if you had mentioned that Krauss’s book has an approving afterword from Richard Dawkins. Bias clear — enough said!

    As it happens, I have been trying to catch up on advances in quantum theory — currently reading Lee Smolin’s “Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: the search for what lies beyond the quantum”. Smolin spends many pages discussing Rule 1 and Rule 2, assumptions about which underlie the mathematics of various different quantum theories — Euclid would have had no hesitation in calling those Rules “axioms”.

    It is not necessary to denigrate “Religion” in order to glorify “Science”. Old Newton was applying the scientific method long before the 20th Century — and he did so seeing no conflict between Science and Religion. Of course, everyone is free to disagree with Newton.

    But you have led us far from the topic of “Feminism”. So come on, Fraser — tell us what you really think about “Feminism”. 🙂

  • Fraser Orr

    @Gavin Longmuir
    It is not necessary to denigrate “Religion” in order to glorify “Science”.

    I don’t think I did. I believe I denigrated “religion” all by itself.

    Old Newton was applying the scientific method long before the 20th Century

    Netwon was an alchemist too, are you an advocate of that too? (BTW, I actually think Newton’s alchemy made a great deal more sense than his religion (except insofar as the fact that an atheist could barely survive in his day. Which isn’t to say I doubt Newton’s religious sincerity. On the contrary, he was undoubtedly a religious nut enthusiast. But, in Newton’s day alchemy, in its goal of turning lead into gold was not entirely stupid given the available knowledge. Had he had a slightly different goal — turn coal into diamonds — it would have been perfectly achievable, in fact it is done today all the time. But of course the theory of the atom was in its infancy in Newton’s day. And, in fairness, there was a lot less reason to dismiss religion and the Bible in his day too. After all there was no sound theory to explain the complexity of the world, or the remarkable machines that make up life. He lived pre Darwin, pre atomic theory, pre medicine. And so, in a sense he has more of an excuse.)

    I should also say that the “Scientific method” I described as a process for discovering truth is really a formalization of what people do anyway, to a greater or lesser extent. For example, when you observe some toxic person’s behavior you learn that they are toxic and adjust your behavior. Your observations about them lead to a hypothesis, your hypothesis is tested in future interactions and eventually you have a theory about their toxicity. We all do this kind if thing naturally. We do it because it works: it gives us that most useful power — the power to predict the future.

    The scientific method if a formalization of this, evolved and improved over a long process of introspection and correction.

    But you have led us far from the topic of “Feminism”. So come on, Fraser — tell us what you really think about “Feminism”.

    I wasn’t aware it was a secret. If you tell me what you mean by “feminism” I’d be happy to tell you what I think. But if you want to to chose some arbitrary label and attach it to myself, then allow others to define what it means, I’m afraid I’m going to take a pass. I’m not really one for joining teams. In fact, to misquote Groucho Marx, I’d never want to join a team that would be willing to have me a member.

  • neonsnake

    One could reasonably argue that using law (i.e. the credible threat ultimately of violence) to prohibit smoking in Western bars is a trivial example of “oppression”. But it is a real example. We can all choose to feel “oppressed” as “Feminists” do — or we can choose to get on with life. I know which is healthier.

    It’s an example I was going to use.

    My point in bringing up other countries is that it’s very easy to see oppression in other countries; and in comparison to therefore believe we are not (in the UK at least) oppressed at all.

    Over on another thread, there’s a very good conversation going on about diet. I think we can all agree that the western diet is perfectly adequate to get most of us to 80-odd years of life, but no-one is suggesting that it can’t be better, or that it’s not worth worrying about, right?

    So the idea that there is no oppression in the UK is not one I have any sympathy for. There is less, one could even argue very little, but not none. If anyone is arguing that there is none, then I suggest that this website and others like it are redundant for the UK populace, since what are we complaining about?

    The smoking ban is a good example. Good intentions, I’m sure, but it’s a removal of choice, and disproportionately disadvantages the poorer people (who are more likely to smoke, for whatever reasons I won’t attempt to address here). I guess one could argue that we have their best interests at heart by making it illegal for them to smoke in the pub, but, well, wrong website, I’d wager 😉

    I feel the same about this:

    Prof Corinna Hawkes, director of food policy at City University London and one of the lead researchers in the government-funded obesity policy research unit, said: “Governments must do more to comprehensively reduce the availability, affordability, and appeal of processed foods high in fats, sugars and salt.” (emphasis mine)

    Again, disproportionately disadvantaging poorer people. Offer information, sure. Regulate the availability or affordability? Oh, come on. That’s authoritarian.

    When the smoking ban came in, apparently by that point New Labour had made, on average, one thing illegal for every day they’d been in office. That’s oppression.

    Separately, poorer white people are disadvantaged by our schooling:

    A boy born in Stockton Town Centre (which has some of the most serious literacy challenges in the country) has a life expectancy 26.1 years shorter than a boy born in North Oxford (which has some of the fewest literacy challenges)

    You might not call that oppression, but I would call it something to be aware of, to be woke to, to be something worth fighting to understand and to attempt to help (SJW). How? I don’t know, but that doesn’t mean I ignore it and pretend that those kids are going to have equality of opportunity throughout their lives.

    Was the guy who wore a MAGA hat to a protest against Trump oppressed when a crowd boxed him in, screamed and shouted at him, and threw a milkshake over him? Arguably he’s had his right to walk unmolested on the street transgressed. (Or was it his own fault for wearing it? What was he expecting, leaving the house dressed like that? We all know what guys dressed like that really want, right? He was asking for it, right?)

    Was the girl in the viral video oppressed by the petitions calling for her to be sacked? Arguably, yes. Has she had her right to free speech transgressed by people calling for her employer to sack her (why ruin her life over one stupid incident? What if she was doing good works at the NHS? What if she were a champion swimmer instead of a crazy cat lady?)

    Was Roger Scruton oppressed?

    Is sexism still alive and well in certain industries? Racism? Classism? Other -isms?

    Is it better than it was? Yes, undoubtedly. But we’re not perfect, so for now, I think it’s still relevant to “optimise our diet”, as it were 😉

  • APL

    NiV: “Marx and Engels used to discuss it over a pint in The Crescent pub in Salford, Manchester!”

    Such a nice sweet fellow, scion of the Working class. What about people who actually knew him?

    “a destructive spirit whose heart was filled with hatred rather than love of mankind… extraordinarily sly, shifty and taciturn. Marx is very jealous of his authority as leader of the Party; against his political rivals and opponents he is vindictive and implacable; he does not rest until he has beaten them down; his overriding characteristic is boundless ambition and thirst for power. Despite the communist egalitarianism which he preaches he is the absolute ruler of his party; admittedly he does everything himself but he is also the only one to give orders and he tolerates no opposition,” — Giuseppe Mazzini

    Perhaps not such a nice guy after all.

    “What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.…. Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man – and turns them into commodities…. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange…. The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general…. the Jewish religion has contempt for theory, art, history, and for man as an end in himself.” — Karl Marx

    Marx the anti-semite, by Marx.

    NiV: “I said Marxism was arguably British.

    Some hypocritical rent seeker washes up in England, concocts a cock and bull theory which even his contemporaries could tell would lead to hell on earth. He had no sympathy for Britain, no understanding of British culture or tradition, no intention to stay in Britain, but something he scribbled down while living in Salford on the payroll of his capitalist chum Engles is a seminal British work. Pull the other one.

    Marx was a huckster and con artist, persuading anyone who would, to fund his extravagant lifestyle. Marx and Mo (PBUH), two cheeks of the same arse.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Sorry, I don’t buy it. You may well endure withering criticism for asserting that global warming is not true, but you probably have very good reason for believing that way. You assert it because you find the evidence compelling.”

    Yes. But people can find fallacies compelling, fallacies seem like good reasons.

    Believers in global warming thought climate scepticism as ridiculous and unscientific as young-Earth creationism. Believers in global warming thought they had very good reasons for believing it, and that the evidence was compelling. (Argument from Authority and Weather Anecdote, mostly.) Some believers may have been doing it for political or social conformity reasons, but a lot of them did so because they thought they were right. And likewise, they couldn’t imagine that we genuinely thought we were right too, which is why they assumed sceptics’ beliefs had to be driven by politics and funding from the oil industry.

    Maybe creationists think they’ve got very good reason for believing that way? Their reasoning may be fallacious, but someone using fallacious reasoning usually doesn’t know it – it feels the same as correct reasoning to the reasoner.

    Humans all have cognitive blindspots. Their reasoning is full of imperfect heuristics, and very good at papering over the cracks. Great thinkers of all ages have firmly believed they understood the truth, and in subsequent ages we have discovered they were often wrong. What makes us think we are an exception? It is possible our own reasoning is fallacious and we are wrong. It is possible that they think their reasons are as compelling and logical as we think ours are.

    And if there is one thing I learned from both the evolution debate and the climate debate, it is that most people on both sides didn’t fully understand the science and the evidence themselves.

    So perhaps it’s not that you believe to fit in with the community, or that you believe and therefore join the community, but that each community provides its members with only a subset of the information and arguments in favour of a position, which seem compelling, and therefore people believe, believing they are being completely rational in doing so. (But ‘arational’ is still a brilliant word!)

    “Some people take as an axiom that there was a Big Bang 15 Billion years ago. But they will not give a rational answer when asked what was there before the Big Bang, or where the Big Bang happened, or where the material in the Big Bang came from.”

    There was no “before” before the big bang, everywhere, and ‘conservation of mass’ doesn’t apply where there is no time-translation symmetry. But I agree. Most believers in the big bang don’t understand general relativity – they’re trusting experts who told them a little bit about it.

    “But don’t worry, we have a solution, a reliable way to “know things”. It is called the scientific method. It is the idea that your observe things, hypothesize as to what they mean, experiment based on that, then modify your hypothesis based on this.”

    That misses out the most important part of the process – sceptical challenge and falsification. You publish your results and claims, and your peers in the scientific community try to tear them apart. They try to replicate, refute, extend, generalise, specialise, apply, verify, validate, find the limits of, and generally try to break it. If motivated and competent critics fail to refute your work, it gains scientific credibility. There is no other source of scientific credibility other than surviving this process. Karl Popper wrote about this quite a lot.

    It’s like the difference between ‘evolution by natural selection’ and ‘intelligent design’. The idea that an expert scientist discovers the truth in a lab and publishes it is like intelligent design. The idea that fallible scientists generate proposals, theories, and claims in labs, push them into the arena of debate, and the survivors go on to form the basis of the next generation of ideas is like evolution by natural selection. It gives the ‘illusion of design’ without requiring all that much intelligence (thank goodness!), and is far more effective at finding the truth.

    “Such a nice sweet fellow, scion of the Working class. What about people who actually knew him?”

    Where on Earth did you get the idea I thought Marx was nice?!

    But as regards what contemporaries say about their political colleagues, do you remember this…?

    “I know you chaps seem to buy this ‘good old Nigel’ with a pint image but believe me he’s nothing like that. He’s a very ruthless operator and even a hint of criticism from anybody and you have your membership card chopped up and that’s how it’s been for many years…”

    ‘British’ is not synonymous with ‘nice’ or ‘sweet’.

    Marx saw the horrible conditions of the working classes (much like we can see the conditions in Chinese sweat shops) and wanted to do something about it. As a result of several gross misunderstandings of economics he advocated passionately for the wrong solution – a solution that would make things worse, not better. It would be like a doctor, with deep sympathy for the dying, coming up with the theory that bad smells kept diseases away, and therefore filled hospital wards around the world with pools of stinking filth. Marx’s theories were wrong, and hugely damaging to the people he was trying to help. He was blind, bigoted, obstinate, and horribly misguided. And he created a horror that has killed hundreds of millions.

    But that wasn’t what we were discussing. I asserted that Marxism was a Western ideology, created by Westerners, that many other Westerners supported. A lot of the ‘political correctness’ laws were voted in with popular support. The Western powers created the EU, and our Western society was responsible for joining it, supporting it, funding it, staffing it, and for inventing its many rules and regulations. This is on us, just as much as Islamist barbarism is on them. And when the people living there who hate it like we would try to rebel against it, and find the government has all the guns and all the bombs and the soldiers and courts and prisons, they need help from outside if they’re to beat it.

    We live in a democracy. We can set up parties with whatever policies we like, and vote them into power. So if that doesn’t happen, it’s because not enough of us want it. But in a lot of these places, they don’t have that option. Entire Syrian towns were wiped out with nerve gas for protesting too loudly. You’re going to tell them that they have to reform their own society before you’ll respect them, but then you’ll just stand by and watch them die if they try?

    We all deserve the sympathy and support in our own struggles against authoritarian oppression that we offer to everyone else who wants freedom. If you have no sympathy for others, you deserve none for yourself.

  • APL

    NiV: “Where on Earth did you get the idea I thought Marx was nice?!”

    “Marx and Engels used to discuss it over a pint in The Crescent pub in Salford, Manchester!”

    What were you attempting to do with this sympathetic cameo of Marx and Engles in the pub, having a drink with the oppressed working class? but framing our perception of Marx as, a man of the people, just like us.

    NiV: “Marx saw the horrible conditions of the working classes (much like we can see the conditions in Chinese sweat shops) and wanted to do something about it.”

    Marx was a revolutionary who wanted to destroy the existing order. He was by some accounts in the 10% richest people in the UK at the time, thanks to his fortunate connections with the Capitalist Engels, but he’d take cash from anyone. Instead of actually getting his hands dirty and doing some good – setting up an orphanage, or a hospital for the sick, organising clean drinking water, establishing communal baths for the working poor, distributing food. Any of those things, he just sat on his hands.

    The fact of the matter is, yes the industrial centres of the UK had pretty terrible living conditions, but people left the countryside because their living conditions there were frequently worse. The working class were not ‘deliberately’ oppressed, we had always lived in squalor. The English industrial centres were their way to something better.

    NiV: “We all deserve the sympathy and support in our own struggles against authoritarian oppression that we offer to everyone else who wants freedom.”

    The problem with that is, the Globalists haven’t chosen ‘freedom’ it has chosen sides. It aligns itself with the faction that it considers has the best chance to topple its current enemy. The result in Iraq is ISIS, the genocide of the Yazidi, and the capture of their women into sex slavery. Or the re-establishment of Slavers markets in Tripoli. There is no intent to improve any of the subject populations conditions, that guff about democracy is just pablum for the BBC to spray over us during the 9pm ‘news’ broadcast.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Nullius in Verba
    Believers in global warming thought climate scepticism as ridiculous and unscientific as young-Earth creationism. Believers in global warming thought they had very good reasons for believing it, and that the evidence was compelling.

    So here, at the most fundamental level, is the difference between the rational and the arational. Were I to present utterly compelling evidence to you that CAGW was the correct model of the world, you would change your mind. Were I to present utterly compelling evidence to the young earther that the earth was old, he or she would not change their mind. It is a matter of WHY you believe something. Do you believe based on evidence and rational deduction (irrespective of the quality of your evidence and rationality) if so you are in the realm of rationality or irrationality. Or do you believe because you are obliged to do so, or because you prefer the consequences? If so you are in the realm of arationality.

    It is, after all, the difference between faith and reason. If I might deign to quote the Bible: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. … And without faith it is impossible to please God”, and herein lies the very essence of what I am talking about. The religious demand is “believe because I told you, believe irrespective of evidence because it pleases God when you do so”. It is, consequently, directly the opposite of the process of scientific inquiry.

    Humans all have cognitive blindspots. Their reasoning is full of imperfect heuristics, and very good at papering over the cracks.

    Right, it is the nature of the process of rationality that it is not built on axioms, but that it is a heuristic discovery process. As I mentioned the 20th century was very much a turning point in this. From Euclid forward the goal of mathematics and science was to build an edifice founded on tiny principles which lead with utter certainty to the full panoply of mathematical and scientific results we have discovered. But with Godel’s incompleteness theorem the whole foundation of this blew up. It is said that when John von Neumann first read Godel he said he wanted to kill himself, because his religion, his foundation disappeared. But, all due respect, at least when confronting the evidence he embraced it. And similarly for Physics. For most of human history the study of science has been to determine what causes produced what effects: to structure matter and forces into a logical and consistent process. And then along comes QM, one of the core ideas being that “some individual things happen for no particularly good reason”. It is what prompted Einstein’s oft misused statement that “God doesn’t play dice with the Universe”. Except that all the evidence is that he does, that all physical processes are not cause and effect but stochastic, even if the stochastic probability functions at a macroscopic level are so tight that the seem deterministic.

    Which is to say that the universe we live in is not knowable with certainty. And so us naked apes have developed this iterative, heuristic process for truth discovery. It isn’t perfect. In fact, in a sense, the word “heuristic” kind of means “not perfect” but is is extremely effective.

    Were I to offer you a tool that told you what number would come up on the Roulette wheel with 99% certainty I think you’d be pretty happy, and would be quite willing to deal with a little uncertainty. How much better than when some religious person tells you that God says it’ll be 23, and even though he is wrong again and again, nonetheless, everyone broadcasts his sagacity from the rooftops when on the fortieth spin of the wheel he gets it right. (The other times it was wrong because you did not believe strongly enough, you understand?)

    There was no “before” before the big bang

    FWIW, you can’t say that at all. On the contrary, there is no data to determine what may or may not have been before the big bang. There are, for example, a number of theories that think of the big bang as an experimental process which, eventually and through the anthropic principle, produced the supposed finely balanced universal constants. But these are of necessity speculative, since there is no means currently known to collect observations or effects of that theory.

    There is a suggestion that that which is not observable does not exist. But that, like most of philosophy is an argument about one thing (the meaning of words) disguised as another thing (the meaning of existence.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “What were you attempting to do with this sympathetic cameo of Marx and Engles in the pub, having a drink with the oppressed working class?”

    Ah! You’re reading things into it I didn’t put there! It wasn’t intended to evoke sympathy. Only that it was developed in and by our Western culture. There are lots of conversations that go on in pubs that would not evoke any sympathy with me.

    “The problem with that is, the Globalists haven’t chosen ‘freedom’ it has chosen sides. It aligns itself with the faction that it considers has the best chance to topple its current enemy. The result in Iraq is ISIS, the genocide of the Yazidi, and the capture of their women into sex slavery.”

    That wasn’t their initial choice. They’d watched Iraq. They’d watched Libya. They’d watched Egypt, and the ‘Arab Spring’. They saw democracy and freedom spreading across the Middle East with Western support, and wanted some of that themselves. So they rebelled against Assad in the full expectation that the West would help them too.

    But we didn’t. We’d had a belly full of opposition from the usual left-wing dictator-loving-suspects over Iraq and Libya, and Assad was still being sponsored by the Russians who regarded it as part of their back yard, and didn’t like all this ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’, anyway. So we told them “Sorry! We’re not getting involved.”

    Which left the people of Syria swinging in the wind. Assad was a total bastard who would think nothing of bombing or gassing entire towns into submission. He had all the guns and all the soldiers and all the courts and prisons. And the people of Syria had nothing to fight with, and could see they were about to get slaughtered.

    And then ISIS came along, and said “We’ll help!” And they had lots of guns and soldiers… Oh, and religious policemen, and prisons, and big plans that went far beyond rescuing the people of Syria. At which point the West said: “Oh, Fuck! Maybe we’ll help you after all!”

    The problem is we keep on trying to do it with snap interventions and then get out fast, because we can’t stand the political heat. So we get rid of one lot, but then leave the resulting chaos undefended so another lot can move straight in. We refuse to help victims or support them or even express any human sympathy for them, try to wall them out and shut our ears to their protests, so of course our enemies can move straight in and recruit them to their cause. If you refuse to help people or sympathise with them and show them nothing but contempt, they join the other side! Big surprise! And then we moan that fighting for freedom doesn’t work, and the victims all join our enemies, and it’s useless trying. Which I’m sure is just as all the dictator-loving enemies of freedom intended.

    If Dunkirk happened in the current political climate, we’d surrender.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Were I to present utterly compelling evidence to the young earther that the earth was old, he or she would not change their mind.”

    Maybe. Maybe they would argue that nobody has yet presented any such evidence to them. And having been involved in the evolution debate many years ago, possibly with some justification. Most of the arguments presented in favour of evolution by the debaters were along the lines of “97% of scientists agree. Who are you to argue with them?”

    Most of the people who do believe in evolution do so for arational reasons. Or rather, based on unreliable heuristics like trusting experts, which is not completely irrational, especially if you don’t have the expertise to judge for yourself. The problem is then that we have no better means of judging who is an expert, and make different choices. A lot of people picked evolutionary biologists to have faith in. Is that really any different?

    “It is what prompted Einstein’s oft misused statement that “God doesn’t play dice with the Universe”. Except that all the evidence is that he does”

    Actually, there’s no evidence at all that he does! Everett showed in 1957 that if you just took the basic linear rules of quantum mechanics as then understood literally, it explained our apparently random observations in a fully deterministic and local way. It requires no spooky action-at-a-distance. No faster-than-light influences. It requires no unexplained causeless randomness. It requires no vitalist special treatment of “observers”. It requires no irreversible non-linearity. All it requires is that we accept that what we see going on down at the microscopic level carries on at every scale. The appearance of a classical universe turns out to be precisely what such a picture predicts we would see. Our intuition about it is wrong.

    But people are attached to their intuition, and Everett’s interpretation is still a minority view among physicists today.

    “FWIW, you can’t say that at all. On the contrary, there is no data to determine what may or may not have been before the big bang.”

    True. It depends what you mean by “the big bang”. The original theory was the result of using General Relativity to model the cosmos. When you ran the equations back in time, the lines all met at a singularity. It’s like the lines of latitude and longitude on the Earth. If longitude represents space and latitude represents time, then the universe is a circle of constant latitude that starts at zero size at the north pole, and expands as you go south. Run the equations for the surface of a sphere backwards, and you see that the lines of constant longitude get closer together until they all meet at a point. You can deduce the existence of the North pole without ever having visited it, just by extrapolating from the bit of the sphere’s surface you can see! All the universe emerged from this point and expanded. But it’s not like the video graphics they show on TV, of a point exploding into a void of black and empty space surrounding it. Which is why the question about where it happened makes no sense – it’s like asking what is the longitude of the north pole? It’s at every longitude, so you could say it happened everywhere. And asking what happened before the big bang is like asking “what is to the north of the north pole?”

    That was the original big bang theory, and in that theory, the question is answerable. Since then we’ve come up with many alternatives, that look like the original big bang from here, but in which when you get to where you expect the north pole to be you find some other shape. A stripy spiral lollipop stick extending up into space, for example. The Earth looks like a globe from here, but maybe it isn’t, and the lines of constant longitude somehow keep going north forever. We can speculate endlessly.

    The big bang is a theory. We don’t know for certain if it’s true. But we can say what any given theory predicts.

  • APL

    NiV: “That wasn’t their initial choice.”

    We are talking about two different groups.

    NiV: “They’d watched Iraq. They’d watched Libya. They’d watched Egypt, and the ‘Arab Spring’. They saw democracy and freedom spreading across the Middle East with Western support, and wanted some of that themselves.”

    If that’s what you really think, I think you are delusional.

    NiV: “So they rebelled against Assad in the full expectation ..”

    The Syrian ‘civil war’ was a classic SWAMP operation, run out of Langley.

    Had ‘they’ been a bit more attentive when watching the Arab spring in Egypt, they’d have noticed it ended up with a Moslem Brotherhood government. The very antithesis of the Western ideal of Democracy and freedom, you assert the Syrians wanted.

    Anyway, they got it good and hard under the various manifestations of ISIS, even more extreme than the MB.

  • Nullius in Verba

    If that’s what you really think, the feeling’s mutual. But so it goes.

  • neonsnake

    If that’s what you really think, I think you are delusional.

    Oh boy.

    Go on then, what’s your alternative explanation?

    (a watch of Persepolis might be instructional here)

  • Gavin Longmuir

    I am beginning to develop some sympathy for “Feminists” feeling oppression under the evil Patriarchy. 🙂 Here is Natalie trying to having a serious conversation about “Feminists”, and all us males end up ignoring that and getting excited instead about religion, quantum theory, and cosmology.

    But since we have lost the plot already, let me congratulate NIV (6:13 pm edition) on the clarity of his explanation of Everett’s “Many Worlds” interpretation of quantum theory. As mentioned earlier, I have been wading through Smolin’s “Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution” who discusses Everett’s 1957 PhD and subsequent publications in some depth. I would probably be learning more if NIV and Smolin had co-written the book.

    From time to time investigating cosmology, there is this horrible feeling that something is not quite passing the smell test — such as when we are assured that, in order to make the equations work, 90% of the mass of the universe has to be undetectable Dark Matter. Or when we are told that the entire mass of billions of galaxies suddenly appeared at a single point as a quantum fluctuation — the Big Bang degenerates to a Big Burp. There is so much we have to learn, and our current theories will someday be seen to have been amusingly primitive.

  • Wiltshire Man

    “As for Ms Prigent herself, while she certainly deserves to suffer some public scorn for her bad behaviour, doxxing someone is like breaching a dam: once the wall breaks the situation is out of anyone’s control.”

    The damn broke years ago. The Enemy Class have been shocked by Trump and Brexit, because both events are outside the normal parameters. Normal parameters being that only wet blanket conservatives could win anything. They’re playing dirty on everything, along with their friends in the MSM. Trying to get Brexit overturned, lying about Trump’s Russian connection, trying to control the internet, getting the police to arrest people for jokes and no platforming at universities, using violence at rallies. Plenty of libertarians have lost their incomes because of MSM pressure on media and credit card companies.

    So, it’s quite right to go to town on them, using all legal means at this point. They have to understand that it would be better for them to quietly surrender than to try and take over.

  • neonsnake

    Here is Natalie trying to having a serious conversation about “Feminists”, and all us males end up ignoring that and getting excited instead about religion, quantum theory, and cosmology.

    Coupla weeks ago, I got very very depressed about SJWs having a go at Stephen Fry for using a “white supremacist” symbol, for similar reasons.

    I’ve enormous sympathy for Natalie, who has been something of a heroine of mine for a decade or more, for feeling such.

  • Swede

    This young(ish) lady(?) lost her job, or more to the point, was asked to quit and she did. I’ve read a couple of different articles by people saying how awful that is and how conservative minded people shouldn’t engage in the tactics of the left because it would make us “just like them”. In my opinion, that boat has sailed. The Left must be confronted at every opportunity with the same aggressive rules they’ve created and used so many times before. To stand on the wharf and counsel conservatives to do otherwise is simply assuring our destruction.

  • The Syrian ‘civil war’ was a classic SWAMP operation, run out of Langley.

    Sheesh. You vastly overestimate the ability of the CIA to make things happen and underestimate local factors (as so many Americans on both left & right seems to, assuming nothing exciting happens unless the US causes it).

  • Fraser Orr

    @Gavin Longmuir
    I am beginning to develop some sympathy for “Feminists” feeling oppression under the evil Patriarchy.Here is Natalie trying to having a serious conversation about “Feminists”, and all us males end up ignoring that and getting excited instead about religion, quantum theory, and cosmology.

    I can only assume you are new here if you think “off topic” is a surprising development. Samizdata is a great forum in part because the discussion often wanders off in interesting ways. And you can’t seriously think that this has anything at all to do with the patriarchy? You think that she is somehow being victimized because she is female and because some of the wandering voices are male? That may be the most preposterous claim I have heard today.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fraser, I’d say that Gavin’s tongue was pretty much in his cheek. Usually you get such humour, so I assume you were just feeling dyspeptic or something.

    HOWEVER, you also write:

    “Samizdata is a great forum in part because the discussion often wanders off in interesting ways.”

    Doubleplusgood!!! 😎 😀

  • bobby b

    Gavin Longmuir
    June 9, 2019 at 7:51 pm

    “I am beginning to develop some sympathy for “Feminists” feeling oppression under the evil Patriarchy. 🙂 Here is Natalie trying to having a serious conversation about “Feminists”, and all us males end up ignoring that and getting excited instead about religion, quantum theory, and cosmology.”

    Hee hee.

    Ah, yes, poor Natalie. Once again, she’s managed to provoke another interesting discussion amongst interesting people on an interesting topic.

    I saw a fun bumper sticker once. It said “The patriarchy has a boss, and boy is she pissed.”

    Poor, poor Natalie. 😆

  • APL

    PdH: “Sheesh. You vastly overestimate the ability of the CIA to make things happen and underestimate local factors”

    Well, the CIA attempt did fail.

    The CIA clandestinely fund their chosen opposition groups, the civil war rages. Now after a change of administrating and the SWAMP is on the back foot, Assad is back in control of 85% of his country, what happened? The US$ and clandestine arms supplies have nearly dried up. That’s what happened.

    The fact is, in most Arab countries* there isn’t a ‘demos’ there are a collection of warring tribes, they’ve been at each others throats for millenia. They ain’t going to stop because the US chooses one of those groups as its favourite.

    *Of course, most Arab countries were created by Britain, France and America at the end of the WW1, anyway.

  • APL

    “The CIA clandestinely fund their chosen opposition groups, the civil war rages.”

    That can’t be correct?

    “The program’s existence was suspected after the US Federal Business Opportunities website publicly solicited contract bids to ship tons of weaponry from Eastern Europe to Taşucu, Turkey and Aqaba, Jordan. One unintended consequence of the program has been a flood of US weapons including assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades into Middle East’s black market.”

    That we agree the CIA has seen better days.

  • bobby b

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    June 10, 2019 at 1:22 am

    Sheesh. You vastly overestimate the ability of the CIA to make things happen . . .

    Penis envy. They’re like gods.

    Inept, accidental gods . . . but powerful nonetheless. Like teenage boys with whiskey and car keys (to steal from PJ O’Rourke.)

  • APL

    bobby b: “Inept, accidental gods . . . but powerful nonetheless. Like teenage boys with whiskey and car keys ”

    It’s just a hilarious joke to the Globalists. Hundreds of thousands dead, hundreds of thousands displaced. Yep, that is soo funny.

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