We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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

Samizdata quote of the day

Anti-racists go on to make a full-throated argument for cultural relativism. “To be an antiracist is to see all cultures in all their differences as on the same level, as equals,” writes Kendi. This is rank sophistry. If anti-racists really viewed all cultures as equally valid, and not subject to judgment “by the arbitrary standard of any single culture,” they’d have no basis for claiming that the U.S. is a “racist” nation or that apartheid South Africa or the Jim Crow-era South was any worse than any other, more tolerant culture. More to the point, if you “deny objectivity,” then what grounds have you to say that racism is indeed a thing that should be opposed? As Ravi Zacharias once put it: “In some cultures they love their neighbors; in other cultures, they eat them. Do you have any preference?” According to anti-racism, you cannot. There is no value, educational or otherwise, in a doctrine whose principles, when taken at face value, reject the very basis of its existence.

Fredrick Hess & Grant Addison discussing ‘anti-racists’ who are anything but.

18 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Ferox

    From stonetoss.com:

    Man 1: Morality is subjective.
    Man 2: I disagree.
    Man 1: You are a bad person.

    The state of the Left’s argument today.

  • Jim

    The left don’t do logic, they use whatever argument or fact (real or made up) that gives them the upper hand today. They have no principles, just a lust for power, and will use whatever is necessary to get it.

  • GregWA

    re Jim, so what can we do to oppose such leftists? It certainly makes no sense to present facts, arguments, based in reason or faith, does it?

    There is only one thing they will respond to–force, power. I think you are implying this–correctly!

    I keep asking for those of this parish to convince me otherwise. I have yet to hear an argument (I do respond to those!) showing how we might ever get back to the days when you could argue with a leftist.

    “You are entitled to your own opinions, you are not entitled to your own facts.” – Daniel Patrick Moynihan, US Senator, New York State (RIP), and a pretty convinced leftist IIRC.

  • AndrewZ

    Totalitarian ideologies demand absolute power so they cannot accept the existence of any other source of authority. Therefore, they must “deny objectivity” because objective reality represents a level of truth that is beyond their control. They deny its existence and try to discredit the tools of reason and evidence which would allow individuals to independently discover it. This in turn means that they must deny any need for their own rules to be logical or consistent, as that would also limit their power. They try to create an arbitrary and subjective reality to enable the exercise of arbitrary power.

  • george m weinberg

    To say all cultures are equal isn’t even sophistry, it’s just obvious bullshit. It’s true as far as it goes that
    unless you have stated criteria of goodness then neither is objectively better than the other, but that doesn’t mean they are equal, it just means they are not comparable.

    No one could believe that all cultures were equal, because that would be to utterly reject the very idea of moral progress. And know one does say it, the “all cultures are equal” claim is only selectively applied. You can’t say that in 1938 the culture of the US was better than that of the USSR, but you can say of course either was much better than Nazi Germany.

  • Paul Marks

    Good post – the Relativists are hosted on their own petard.

    If all cultures are equally valid then RACIST cultures are “equally valid”.

    Classical Marxism did not have this problem – the Classical Marxists did not pretend that all cultures were equally valid, they claimed that the culture (system) that they were pushing was superior (indeed that it was historically inevitable as the new forces of production naturally led to collective relations of production).

    But Frankfurt School Marxism has gone down the rabbit hole of Relativism.

    Classical Marxism was wrong – but it was a real intellectual system. Frankfurt School Marxism, which dominates the education system and most of the institutions (public and private), is an insane mess.

  • Alan Peakall

    The late Martin Gardner made the same point in a less cliched way by substituting, for the comparison of distinct cultures at the same time, a pair of snapshots of a single culture at two different instants of its historical evolution and asking 1) whether a naive cultural relativist really believed in a fantastical supernatural mechanism guaranteeing that for every gain made by the culture there had been a precisely equal loss and 2) how anyone who could believe such a thing could possibly be called a progressive.

  • Dishman

    The Ashanti people took and sold slaves as part of their culture, likely including Kendi’s ancestors. Numerous other cultures also traded in slaves.

    Kendi is effectively saying that it is racist to criticize slavery.

  • The Ashanti people took and sold slaves as part of their culture

    To quote a Ghanaian chum of mine: “The Ashanti were deeply effected by the slave trade. But fortunately, my particular ancestors diversified into the gold trade before the bottom fell out of the slave market.”

    He was only half being funny.

  • Expanding on Dishman’s point (June 21, 2021 at 4:32 am), Africans in Dahomey not only took slaves but insisted on putting many of the adult males into the murder spectacle, sternly refusing the repeated pleas of white traders to sell them all, not just the surplus from the spectacle. The believer in cultural relativism must presumably insist that the murder spectacle, despite its accurately descriptive name, was morally the same as the Roman arena, let alone the same as cultures which lacked either phenomenon.

    I will leave it to the reader to consider the cultural relativity question between that habit and the numerous cannibal tribes who enslaved only those they did not eat. Sub-saharan Africa also contained the Bemba, whose customs included blinding adult males they captured who had singing skills and then forcing them to sing praises to those who had blinded them. Etc.

    North of the Sahara, the arabs required numerous harem guards, expensive to buy because many men did not survive the operation so the price had to cover the slaves who died as well as the ones who survived.

    This was far from the only disadvantage that attended being a negro owned by an Arab. A strong case can be made that, of all cultures in the world, Arab culture was the one most intensely hostile to the western idea of ending slavery, and its strong racial prejudices extended to its slaves, Circassians being the most desired (literally and metaphorically) while negro women were typically allotted the lowest rung in the harem.

    An Egyptian sultan of the 13th century was a rare exception, but his half-negro son by his favoured negro concubine was swiftly overthrown by the Mamelukes, who felt racially-motivated contempt. (The mamelukes included many Europeans enslaved as children and also descendants of European slaves, but they had been raised in Arab culture.)

  • To quote a Ghanaian chum of mine: “The Ashanti were deeply effected by the slave trade …

    Not quite sure whether your friend meant that they were deeply involved in effecting the seller-side of the slave trade (very true) or were deeply affected by its abolition. The ‘entertainment’ side of disposing of adult male slaves carried on (with even more subjects), along with the exploitation of female and child slaves, but those tribes who could not diversify into gold or ivory felt that it just wan’t the same as in the days when they sold all the slaves they could bear to spare in exchange for trade goods (in one sense, of course, it was very much the same as before the European ships first came calling).

    “fortunately, my particular ancestors diversified into the gold trade before the bottom fell out of the slave market.”

    Sub-saharan Africa’s western shore had the Gold Coast (where white traders could buy gold and/or slaves), the Ivory Coast (where white traders could buy ivory and/or slaves), the Skeleton Coast (where any white traders unfortunate enough to be wrecked could go to meet their maker and have their choice of business area assessed) and of course the Slave Coast where you could buy slaves or slaves – or else they could sell you slaves.

  • Paul Marks

    Slavery existed in Africa for thousands of years – whether it was Africans enslaving each other (often people from rival tribes – but not always so), or people in North Africa enslaving Europeans (more than a thousand years of slave raiding against Europeans).

    Europeans started to buy Africans – from Africans. And were often told that if they did not buy them the slaves would be sacrificed. Later on some Europeans (namely the British) turned against slavery and waged campaigns in Africa to end slavery – much to the resentment of many Africans.

    All of the above comment would be described as “racist” (a form of “crime-think” – Orwell 1984) by the education system and most institutions.

    The truth offends the Frankfurt School Marxists – and Frankfurt School Marxism dominates the education system and most institutions (public and private). Often including institutions that are supposed to be “conservative”.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Niall Kilmartin:

    On old maps, e.g. “The Partition of Africa”, from Shepherd’s Historical Atlas (1912), Nigeria, Benin, and Togo are labeled the Slave Coast; Ghana, the Gold Coast; Cote d’Ivoire, the Ivory Coast; and Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Grain Coast.

    The Skeleton Coast was in an entirely different part of Africa, and got its name from the very hazardous waters along it and the extreme desolation of the shores. Castaways would die there, but not because of the natives – there were none.

  • Paul Marks

    The father of Lisa Nandy (a leading Labour Party politician) was a well known Marxist academic – he advised the British Home Office on the creation of these laws and policies as far back as the 1970s. He was just one of many Marxist “advisers” in Britain, the United States and other Western nations – these are their laws and their policies. Designed to push their agenda.

    So if anyone asks “why do you call the Diversity and Inclusion Agenda – Marxist?” – the answer is because it was invented by Marxists, in order to advice their agenda of destroying the “capitalist” West and establishing Marxism. It is most certainly NOT about the best person for a job getting that job (regardless of race, “gender”, “sexual orientation” and so on), indeed such things as a “colour blind society” is exactly what he D and I agenda is AGAINST – and it is most certainly AGAINST diversity of opinion, and AGAINST the inclusion of people whom the establishment left dislike.

    It is not complicated, dear certain people whose organisation used to be based in Smith Square London, – no matter how much you shut your eyes and put your fingers in your ears and go “la, la, la” in order to try and not see and hear what is in front of you.

  • Not quite sure whether your friend meant that they were deeply involved in effecting the seller-side of the slave trade (very true) or were deeply affected by its abolition

    Both obviously.

  • Stonyground

    “The left don’t do logic, they use whatever argument or fact (real or made up) that gives them the upper hand today. They have no principles, just a lust for power, and will use whatever is necessary to get it.”

    “So what can we do to oppose such leftists? It certainly makes no sense to present facts, arguments, based in reason or faith, does it?”

    It certainly makes sense to use logic and reason in any kind of public forum. There are going to be undecided people looking on. Destroying the arguments of the left with facts will bring the fence sitters, and even some of the opposition over to your side. If the left had the facts on their side they would use them to convince the undecided. Why don’t they point to all the wonderfully successful Marxist economies around the world. Economies that we could emulate and thus partake in their joyous utopian lifestyle ourselves?

  • dougg

    from zman

    This is a good example of why conservatives and libertarians never win anything. For starters, they assume the Left defines racism as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group.” They do not and have never defined it this way.

    Instead, they define it as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against nonwhites by whites in order to maintain white supremacy.” Therefore, discrimination against whites can never be racism and is always justified. It is social justice.

    It is why bleating about hypocrisy is just a way to avoid confronting the Left. In this case, whining about the definition of racism is really a lecture to white people to not use the same tactics against their enemies. “It’s not who we are!”

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    We had a recent case in Australia, where we stopped a couple from using a woman, brought in from India, as a slave. What right did we have to interfere in their culture? If they want to have slaves, having grown up in a slave-owning culture, where is the harm in that?

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