On this 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King I’d like to say a few things.
We are, despite our division, in a much better place then we were in 1968.
Despite that we still have a long way to go.
For anyone who wonders if the words and actions of the civil rights movement still have relevance, remember that within most living people’s lifetime there were laws that restricted citizen’s rights to marry, travel and raise children.
That… economic strength, passed on through the generations, was not as strong for women and communities of color, if you were a woman of color things were at least twice as hard.
That… the modern middle class was built on the strength of a massive war effort and the financial benefits that came with it, and that African-Americans were largely exempted from those benefits. These foundations were even further distant when considering that discriminatory hiring, firing and salaries were common and when African-Americans tried to band together to demand better conditions violence always ensued.
The current conditions, economic disparities supported by racist assumptions that are now being used to prove those very assumptions, have been with us a very long time. If the country is over 200 years old and Civil Rights have been in place by law for 50 of those years, even assuming everyone instantly got the rights they deserved, which they didn’t, we have been a bigoted country supported by racist institutions for 3/4 of our existence.
Making it personal, If you have made any “mistakes” in your 20’s are 50 and are still paying for them you are, those mistakes put you about where we are as a country now, older and not really all that much wiser.
Post-racialism is a myth concocted by people who hope we get too lazy to do the math or too distracted to not look at the calendar. If we do nothing else lets not forget that we are only a short few steps into this new paradigm and it isn’t too early to lose it all.
RIP MLK 4/4/1968
Sometimes its hard to tell what our president is thinking. Sometimes I think he’s not thinking at all but reacting.
Yeah, I know, its been said before.
That’s why I haven’t been commenting much on Trump lately. There are far more people (both more qualified and less than I) making statements about and trying to guess what the president is thinking, probably more than at any other time since he’s been a public figure.
Just since November of 2016, the conversation has shifted from trying to do the math as to how he won in the first place to what he’ll do to where he was coming from to is he mentally fit to hold office. So many of these questions have obvious answers. He won by appealing to the baser instincts of a group of Americans who not only feel left behind but even if they voted for him, as many did, were swayed by the constant barrage of dog whistle idiocy that was the media during the Obama administration. They feel left behind by a country that always told them they were golden, chosen people, so when that promise was uncovered as a lie they rebelled. As with most popular rebellions, the scapegoat firewall lay between them and the people who truly fucked them over.
Never before in my lifetime have I seen the Country in such a state of reactionary fervor. If I’ve learned anything it is that you should never think things can’t get any worse, or any weirder. Sometimes being prepared for the worst is the best you can hope for. Not that you should abandon all hope or lose all sense of optimism, but keeping those things in the vacuum of the naive belief that “people are generally good” is downright suicidal.
I often try to look at recent history and try to draw a flowchart in my head to link all the things I’ve seen since the end of the Vietnam era ( I was born the year the conflict reached its Apex of 500,000 US troops) and remember middle-class. I mostly remember the palpable sense of dread that came with slowly admitting defeat in an unwinnable battle. I was born the year of nationwide unrest over the treatment of African-Americans (we were called negro, Colored or just Nigger at the time, in equal measure) and the year before the death of Martin Luther King.
I remember watching as the post-civil rights era played out, how legal segregation turned into redlining and blockbusting and I remember how the wash of irony felt as I sat in a real estate class 40 years later and heard my teacher discuss the practices as if they were ancient history (they weren’t, and aren’t). A few years before that I watched my Mom “steered” into a property in a mostly black part of town and in a double whammy also watched her sold a subprime mortgage with a huge balloon payment that would have kept her in permanent share-cropper status for the rest of her life. I watched as friends who had genius level IQ’s , but had little or no support at home, were shuffled into “alternative education” and taken out of the system of merit they would have all but taken over.
I watched the systematic dismantling of families, the ignorance of the problems faced by people who were just out of reach of the middle-class dream, not quite poverty-stricken, but barely able to make the rent, the car payment, and the heat, and often one or more of the above would suffer. (oh and food, let us not forget food)
I also remember being terror-stricken by television, the resurgence and resurgence, and further resurgences of “hate groups,” militias and various other largely white organizations whose members instinctively knew that their days as the majority were numbered. Who ignored the unequal application of benefits to them and cherry-picked statistics to bolster their own “superiority” (there is nothing funnier and scarier than listening to someone uneducated and unwilling to be, call me a monkey) even when they had an 8th-grade education and hardly a tooth to speak of.
I saw the 50-year slide into identity politics. WHITE identity politics. And now I shake my head when I hear someone like Richard Spenser, Alex Jones or any of their loosely affiliated internet sleeper cell operatives promote the narrative that Blacks, “the Left” and the “the gays” are the ones who started this whore identity politics shit. As a writer, I look out into the world, and it makes no narrative sense, as a truth-teller the story is flawed in a way that disqualifies it even as magical realism. There is nothing real about it.
As I look over all the historical links in my lifetime, I see definite patterns. Some overlap and others diverge, but a few, though taking up different sections of the page, clearly resemble each other.
Taking the experiences of poor White Americans and Poor Black Americans in snapshots of events, drug addiction, poverty, enslavement (Blacks by government mandate through slavery and its aftermath and whites by government mandate through union busting and land grants to wealthy corporations) they trace similar paths. The positive elements also converge, reverence for the elderly, a sense of community, developments in art and culture, resistance to undue authority…
But somehow, some way, the two rarely meet.
They don’t meet because one group, although downtrodden, believed that they were better by virtue of “whiteness”. That belief carried down through the years and was the current on the river to Trumpville.
This is not fake news.
Thinking for a second about some of the self-described leaders of these folks and their motivations there has to be something other than the endgame that gets them off. Even if they could eliminate or disassociate themselves from the rest of us there are still going to be sociopathic tendencies, violent individuals, and disagreements within their midsts.
I often wonder how an ethnostate of any sort would look. Having no skin in the game and no need to wish for such a thing I think I’m a bit freer than most to imagine a more realistic version of this utopia.
It would be like any other society, divided along some imaginary, or real but either way subtly enforced means, messy and stratified and pretty much just as fucked up as the one we have now. Either it would have classlessness imposed by a tyrant, or be capitalistic and leave some people behind. Either way, there is no escape from the same bullshit we face daily, it would just be whiter, or blacker. There is no way, through merely segregating “Europeans” or “Africans” to magically make everything better. The same power struggles, the same marital disagreements, the same arguments about government and what it should and can do will still exist.
Just because y’all look the same, does not make you the same.
Have you ever seen people who agree, are of the same background or the same political beliefs all in the same room together and NOT arguing? In most cases, intra-group disagreements are more violent than those between groups. Without the political or racial “other” to swerve the distraction bus towards, those conflicts would explode.
I guess perfect is the enemy of the good after all.
- with apologies to Carl Sandburg
It’s becoming more and more apparent that we are losing our democracy of voices and opinions. Just as we seemed on the verge of becoming the ideal that we’d believed ourselves to be as Americans, that model was obliterated. At this point it doesn’t matter who shot first, or why, but the decreasing number of us in the no mans land between the constructions of “the left” and “the right” regardless of how we lean, is troubling for democracy, and for the very survival of our country.
Tyranny doesn’t only come from the right.
I make no bones about how I lean; I make no apologies for my liberal cultural background and my progressive politics. I also do not wear that label as a bulwark against letting opposing ideas sink in, mixing with my own and changing me. This approach is my definition of what being Liberal means, being open to ideas, allowing them to mesh with my experience and trying to understand what lessons shape others. It’s a word that’s been twisted to mean inflexible and turned into an epithet, so much so that I go back and forth on whether I should call myself one anymore.
My definition of self is mine and mine alone. I know what the word means to me and also know that some of the other words I call myself are only shorthand for the complexities that I keep in those boxes. Like anything, I think we get so wrapped up in the labels and the shorthand that we forget what the words mean.
It’s not always easy to hear through our filters, its never comfortable to be challenged, especially when that challenge comes from someone who you’ve already built a persona around. But those problems are often the most powerful. Coming to grips with the fact that someone who comes from an entirely different background or had a very different experience in their life than you’ve had in yours yet you are still able to connect in a meaningful way is one of the most gratifying experiences you can have.
That is part of the reason it makes me so angry to see people put up walls, especially those who label themselves with monikers that define them as just the opposite. I spoke here about the Yale nonsense that happened a few years ago, and there have been numerous other newsworthy incidents, mainly on college campuses, that reflect an unwillingness to be self-reflective in the face of opposing viewpoints. The Milo incident at Berkeley or the Charles Murray incident at Middlebury college in Vermont are two big ones that spring to mind. While I find Yiannopoulous a repugnant, showboating, self-promoting buffoon, I also found it ironic that the protestors, who became violently agitated over this clown, didn’t understand the legacy they were trampling on at that institution. Murray is also a cultural accelerant, but a more thoughtful and one who has been maligned in a way that makes me sad for the state of academic and cultural discourse.
When I look across the Millennial landscape and see the hairs-on-end sensitivity, the jumping at shadows and accusations, real or imagined, of triggered talk by folks who just haven’t caught up yet, it terrifies me to think that they will be the ones making some of the harder decisions about what speech will be allowed and what will be censored by shout down.
I’m so incredibly sick and tired of people being so offended by what they think they hear that they’ve become the monsters they, without a shred of irony, finger-point to daily. Sick of the fucking crybaby, triggered nonsense, sick of the proliferation of safe spaces as places NOT to be confronted on your bullshit instead of real and genuine refuges from psyche destroying trauma. Let me make this clear; there is shit in this world that is so horrible, so psychically damaging, so mind-fuckingly severe, that it requires years of intense therapy to get over. Let me also make this clear, about 10% or which happens here in the United States, and about 5% is genuinely worth isolation from.
At this point a clear distinction has to be made, we all experience trauma, and unless we talk about it respectfully we never really know how difficult another’s existence is. BUT what is also true is that we’ve created a culture that condenses each of our experiences into little nuggets that cling like leeches to the identities we create for ourselves. In no way do I discount anyone’s stories of abuse, be they sexual, psychological or emotional, but when we are so deeply wrapped up in our traumas that we can’t see what someone else has gone through, see our universal personhood, we put another nail in the coffin of this grand experiment.
When we don’t dispense with our hegemonies of our experiences over other’s, when we refuse to listen, to hear what others bring to the table however flawed it might be, we lose a bit of that connectivity to each other. When we start pulling outward into the human instead of backward into an identity, into white, male, female, cis, gay, trans, straight and queer, we remember our sameness isn’t opposed to our uniqueness. When we stop the ridiculously insane push to be right all the time and be wrong at least some of the time, we gain it back.
We’ve all gotten too sensitive in all the wrong ways, instead of being sympathetic to how others may feel (which requires asking them exactly how they think and why) we hold way too tightly to our identity constructs.
I’m calling out so-called Liberals an Progressives on this as well as gender rights activists, queer theorists, and feminists, mainly because I feel allied or am a part of those loose identifications. I’ve called out the prevailing myth of white supremacy as a historical fact, women’s struggles as history and the benefits that come with being of a privileged class. My bonafides are there.
Yes, I find it amazingly ironic and annoying when ego-driven when people like Ann Coulter decry Liberal Fascism, when members of the alt-right claim their free speech is being violated, and when self-promoting attention whores like Milo Yiannopoulous and Mike Chernovich point out the hypocrisy of the left.
It’s annoying and ironic, but also, sadly, right.
It all comes down to money, doesn’t it?
Money coupled with power. Power over people via “ideas” that have more in common with emotional revulsion than logic. This is what we are now.
Steve Bannon was at the left hand of the seat of power; he was the co-pilot of the administration, arguably the primary architect of the Trump victory. You’d have to be utterly blind, delusional, Stockholm Syndrome-addled or just uncaring not to see this. The nearly transparent lie that there was no collusion on the part of Bannon’s appeals to race resentment and the violence that often erupted at Trump rallies doesn’t need calling out, it is there, in plain sight, for all to see.
Nor does the connections to the Alt-Right, real Nazis, and other assorted white supremacists, they too, are plain. Through the denials (what common criminal ever said, “Yeah, I did it, that was me” when being cornered by the cops?) the obstrufications and every logical event to the contrary, Bannon, Breitbart and its network of ideologues and hangers-on continue to play a role in the conversation or at least continue to keep the discussion about them, bolstering the profiles of both the wave riders and the hard idealogues.
There is no such thing as bad press.
So why are we still playing this game?
Why are we still under the delusion that we are living under anything but a proto-fascist state, a state that combines the worst elements of our cold war and second world war enemies. We now represent the things we have purportedly fought against for most of the 20th century. It’s no longer about left and right ideologies because both would be crushed under the weight of the oligarchy. When there isn’t freedom for anyone, ideology is moot.
It is a cold hard fact that for all of the history of the United States we have been awash in white supremacy. Its taken many forms as the idea of whiteness have been adopted by various Europeans and those of European descent. It isn’t unique to this nation, but the brand of white superiority and supremacy is. We are unique in the fact that we’ve inhabited a Janus-like guise, out of one face we say we are pluralistic and generous, the huddled masses are welcome to come and add their uniqueness to our own and to our collective culture, on the other we are xenophobic, racist and fearful of difference although demonstrably, once we know each other personally those elements diminish.
We also claim to value our collective contributions to our society. We claim to not see race or sex and that the value we place on our fair values is absolute. Even on our political left, there is this illusion, the corridors of power in our entertainment are littered with the desiccated bodies of the women who know better. Liberal Hollywood is awash in its form of hypocrisy. Weinstein, Cosby, and Baldwin, either get a pass or use their considerable power as men to create false personas that defy their goodness while hiding their toxic badness.
At the risk of sounding SWJish, White Male Superiority in general. Yes, even Cosby.
Masculinity is at least a convening force in all this. I’ve spoken before about how this mirror universe came to pass, how the power structure that was had been challenged by an educated, non-white man, and then an educated (albeit universally unlikeable) white woman and the resulting pushback gave us a starring role in the Truman shitshow we live in now. How the years of ingrained, assumed norms of power and who was inherently qualified to wield it, unraveled while Rural White Male America slept soundly in their beds, secure in the fact that their hegemony wouldn’t be undone by a one-term Nigger president.
See how that happened?
We didn’t elect a white knight, we chose the anti-Nigger, the crass boldness embodiment of everything we would have lynched Obama for, and some things lesser, that we tried to. Trump’s money, his conspicuous consumptive nature on full display in House Horrific gold inlay pimp my penthouse bling, his pussy grabbing dullard braggadocio, his obviously ignorant grasp of policy and its implications, all of it punishable by death for any nonwhite who isn’t signed to Bad Boy or in the NBA. Trump is gangsta personified.
Must be the money…
So I was on a semi-self-imposed news blackout until very recently due in no small part to my own personal upheavals, but also just because….Trump.
So now I’ve begun paying more attention, watching and reading more news and following more closely, the national goings on. Thankfully I’m in a much better headspace for all of this because if I’d decided to forgo reason and dive head first as my personal life was unraveling, I’m honestly not sure I’d still be writing today.
Watching our president move with the sound off is frustrating enough, but with the sound on, it’s utterly terrifying.
How could we have been so stupid? How in the hell could we have elected this orange-thin-skinned pussy grabber, the leader of the free world? How do we not see this as the horrible national embarrassment it truly is? That a uniquely unqualified buffoon who clearly has no aptitude for the truth because he hasn’t a clue as to what that word even means, could possibly win a plurality of electoral college votes, with not a single dissenting maverick to stand in the way of this thoroughly embarrassing national disgrace?
Where are our Paines, our Parks our Kings and Peltiers? Why don’t we see how obviously our dissenting voices are absent from the debate, and how obviously we’ve become twisted up in what it means to dissent in the first place? How did the Alt-right, an animal crafted as a propaganda arm of Nazis and internet trolls who finally feel like they have a place at a table that is owned by the Jewish Cabal, actually become a legitimate voice in national politics?
I’m not of the mindset that this country is over, that with this one election we have sealed our fate. I do believe this is the last death spasm of an old skin being shaken off, but what of what’s underneath?
When will we, as a country, as a people, realize that we’ve entirely fucked up.
When we have people like Alex Jones and Mike Chernovich actually participating in the public dialog as legitimate players, how do we not see how truly fucked we are?
At the same time though, it easy to become un-fucked, just pay attention.
Edited on 5/12 for Typos.
Let me get this out of the way right now, I believe healthcare, the coverage needed to see a doctor on a yearly basis, health maintenance and elder care are rights we should have in the richest, most productive country in the world. Unequivocally, every man, woman, and child who is a citizen of the United States should be covered either privately or under a public option. There is no logical, rational or economic reason we shouldn’t be able to do this. We’ve completely restructured our society and economy around war, which demonstrates a clear threat to us and our livelihoods (or NOT: i.e. every modern war post WW2) we have mobilized against threats both concrete and conceptual and with all our might, forced our country to conform to a new reality, so why can’t we do this to take care of each other?
We cast doubt on the poor and helpless, on people who supposedly drain the resources of the country and take advantage of all the social programs and “freebies” they get handed to them without the reservations or drug testing so prevalent on Wall Street or in Boardrooms. Why is it wrong to give everyone the possibility of a long and better life yet still allow employers and bankers who prey on the very same people the ability to do so with impunity with little or no consequences? When the average high school graduate earns about as much as the average undergrad (yes it’s 2014 data but with rampant income stagnation I highly doubt there is any major movement here) and is saddled with crushing debt its sad that we haven’t made college free as well, but I digress.
We are demonstrating a fratricidal tendency in this country. Instead of being a family, one who takes care of each other keeps each other and tends to each other’s wounds we are poisoning the water of our brother and sisters houses and killing them in the process.
The House’s passing of the revamped, pre-CBO scored so-called American Health Care Act is one of the most disgusting nakedly greedy and soulless pieces of legislation proposed in this decade. It scales back preexisting conditions provisions, creates already fail-proven high-risk pools and removes penalties for not securing coverage with over a dozen more really bad ideas. It does so in the name of “choice” a great buzzword but one that ignores the fact that most of us have none, to begin with. Like the allure of “liberty”, a word so rife with consequential elitism but so unknown in that respect by the average Joe, choice refers to something only really the financial elite possess.
But it is the dream of all of us that we can achieve this freedom. Within the already paralyzing revelation that we really have none, within our increasing levels of control exact 1/10th of 1 percent of our destinies outcome we try so hard to use each other as a measure of that little control we have over our universes. We try, and ultimately fail to become famous, or infamous, we try to be forces for good or notorious, we try to become immortal but in the end, the briefest of times ticks records our deeds.
We believe that our small eternities, our families ticks on the clock, our minuscule appearances upon the universe’s stage actually amount to something grander and we personalize that time to mean “us.” Instead of living like a giant organism and accepting that we all have sympathetic and, dare I say symbiotic, responsibilities. Accepting that our limited choice can be used to serve the greater good or destroy goodwill, makes us vulnerable, and we don’t like that one bit.
So what does all this have to do with snatching health coverage from millions of people, many of which voted for its removal in the first place? Everything.
Our mindset in this country is very different from it is in the rest of the world. We value a strange mix of things that are often at odds with each other, often conflict and sometimes contradict. Our collective identity is at once strong and fragmented, we use patriotism as a blunt object to both unify and divide and we have a national identity that is as much myth as it is fact. We are also very, very young.
Transcending this is a tough task, the reactive tendency to believe what we feel without fact checking what our words actually mean, has put us in a rhetorical bind. We cannot seem to get past the fact that we should be treating each other as family and not warring tribes. We are all Americans. Every man, woman, child, everyone of their decided gender or the genderless, every person who walks as a born or naturalized American citizen is our brother, sister, sibling…
We need to take care of each other, as families often do. We need to look past the Thanksgiving our cousin Guido ruined the family rug with his cigar, or the time Auntie Carol got so drunk she threw up in the newborn’s crib, we have to forgive our nephew Amir for falling in with the wrong crowd and getting caught with a pack of Newports in the school bathroom, we have to stop blaming Xiang for forgetting our birthday, most of all we have to honor not only Crispin and Gary for their commitment to each other and recommit to our family again.
Just because we look and sound a bit different, doesn’t make us any less family.
We should start treating each other that way.
As much as Trump likes to brag about his victory in November , as much as he has ignored the irony of his golf game and his immediate and deliberate use of executive power and as much as his general braggadocio has highlighted his complete disregard for the nuances of policy, he scored the biggest, and arguably the ONLY win needed to secure his legacy today.
The appointment of Neil Gorsuch as the next Supreme Court justice has solidified not only the Trump legacy but also the legacy of the most underhanded republican leadership’s bad magic slight of hand. Its a power grab pure and simple, a power grab disguised as a courtesy to the “next president.” A power grab that could very well backfire in the vein of Anthony Kennedy but that will likely have repercussions throughout my lifetime at the very least. The financial wing of the party, I predict, won especially big.
Lets ignore the fact that the American people yet again failed to see past their partisanship through to the fact that it should have been Obama, not Trump and Garland, not Gorsuch but that by both denying the former president his right and mandate, and changing the senate rules to install a corporate friendly Justice, they have not only flouted convention, but have also caused irreparable damage to the foundations of American democracy. They have set up a situation that weakens the hand of any minority congress including theirs, and I’m sure when it does impact them, much whining will ensue.
Edited on 4/11 @ 12:10pm because of a missing “c.”
Clockwork Angels came out in 2012, the same year of the American election. It was Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney and personally, the stakes never felt higher. Even in retrospect, post Trump, this election was consequential in an exceptional way. Our first American president of African descent, our first multiracial president and our first potential two term Democratic president since Clinton.
I argue that Obama’s legacy was more at stake then than it is now. A two term president can ostensibly claim a real mandate, where a one term president’s legacy can be easily erased if the opposing party comes into power four years in.
But I digress….
The Anarchist felt like the soundtrack of the apocalypse to me then. There was so much uncertainty about the future, so much building anger and resentment from a segment of the population who had a tremendous run and now was being eclipsed by number and power, by browner and more estrogen rich carbon based bipeds.
The wont to blow up the world and everything in it, the desire and the seething anger behind it to destroy everything associated with the other while simultaneously blowing up what benefits you resonated strongly. The texture of the song, the choral progression to a droning finale, doom turned to music.
First song, for the first day: The Anarchist, by Rush.
I don’t do Facebook much. Every time I’m lured back by some innocuous post and I get sucked back into the insanity for a bit, I pull a little further away. On several occasions I’ve been worked into such a frenzy that I feel like my heart just might quit. Frankly, aside from a few friends and relatives, it really isn’t worth using anymore.
The ridiculousness of this past election cycle had me closer than ever to hitting “delete.”
When you hear friends you thought were reasonable, say completely unreasonable things, or friends you knew were unreasonable already, say things so outrageous you can’t believe they felt emboldened to say them “in public” it feels like time to pull away.
This whole planet has me concerned at the moment. Where the US is heading is very well a dangerous and potentially violent place. Some of us believed that having access, making information and opinion more democratic, would create a learned republic. One akin to the one the founding fathers envisioned, except more varied economically with women and Black folks included, effectively democratizing learning and making us all better voters and better citizens. HA!
It seems there is that little missing element that also exemplifies an egalitarian democratic republic, ignorance.
When you have no compelling reason to cooperate in the democratic process there is no incentive to educate yourself and its so very easy to just hit the nearest button that has written on it how you feel at that very moment. Not how you think, or have reasoned through, but simply how you feel.
Now feelings are great, they are great for creating art, for manipulating and coercing your kid to do their homework, great for schmoozing and wooing, but alone, they are terrible for democracy. Feelings betray biases, and generally biases are not reasonable, they may come from a vague place of reason, but they are not reasonable in and of themselves. Feelings should not be the sole reason you vote for a particular candidate, using feelings as a sole measure will always lead to buyers remorse.
So does this mean that democracy may not be the best way to go?
I really don’t know but as the days go by, I’m doubting American democracy more and more and that scares the shit out of me.
No, the above way-more-educated-than-I-am, quote is not intended to describe this year’s election cycle. But it is, in my view, what many want out of it in the end.
Let me explain.
I’ve been reading excerpts and reviews of a lot of books about men lately. Many of these “books” are written by bloggers and other assorted malcontents and sold on Amazon (Amazon, who will, in fact, publish damn near anything if some of these “works” are any indication).
Some are well written and through the murk of chest-beating manliness, and to an extent even within that milieu, they offer interesting and accurate commentary on the state of manhood in these changing times. I don’t touch this subject matter directly as so many others do it so much better, but manhood is in crisis. Womanhood is as well, the changing roles and responsibilities that have defined our genders for years are upending. I charge that this is for the better, but just as with any large scale change there are bound to be those who see the bad looming greater than the good.
Occasionally, I am one of those people.
As a wannabe writer of fiction, I push myself to imagine futures. Futures in far-flung societies and in this one advanced a few hundred days or a few thousand years. I write about the future, at least in part, due to my inability to research and my personal bias against meddling with history. I also write about the future because it’s easy to see myself there and it’s also easier to reflect a mirrored image of what we are now back at us by looking at what we will be.
I often imagine futures where the norms are different. Frontier societies that have developed strict social codes that rely on violence to keep those who would stray, in check. Societies that were founded on Hobbesian principles of centralized power (a throwback to the subject of this post) and developed accordingly are a favorite topic of mine lately. Of course, this requires some of the dreaded “research” I despise, but only in a broad sense. I look at things like culture, the size of the society, its early development and its key figure’s personalities, location, climate, and the temperament of its neighbors.
Doing all this imagining often takes me down dual roads, one leading to a mostly civilized and safe society and another leading to industrial serfdom for most and great luxury and wealth for a few. The trick is that these futures are not necessarily aligned with what you might think their respective paths are. The road to serfdom does not necessarily come directly from the path of kings and enlightened despots, nor is the egalitarian future born solely of democracy and participation. When you look at civilizations on this planet, you come up with many paths to sometimes the same conclusion.
So back to manhood. Yes it all ties in together, just a few paragraphs more of patience I ask.
I make no apologies for being a man; no one should have to apologize for what they are by birth. No White man needs to apologize for being what he is no Black woman should be implored to beg her case for being born into herself. We are not the sole determination of our race, class, or origin; they do not FULLY define us. But we are impacted and affected by them all, we bear the burdens and the responsibilities we were born into, we inherit, however unfairly, the cultural baggage of our predecessors. We are partially the sum of our ancestors, with a dash of our present culture and a heaping helping of our perceptions of it, and finally rubbed with a coating of our environment.
There is a rub here, though. We all need to take responsibility for not only what we have personally done, but for what our culture, collectively and associatively, has fostered upon us. It isn’t a choice, it isn’t something to run away from nor run into, it just is.
I am very much an imperfect man, for all my virtues I have at least as many faults. And men in general, have much to atone for. When women reach the same pinnacle men have in this society, they too will have sins of their own. Some will be determined by their “gendered” view of the world (every woman as every man has a unique view which is determined by living as what they include, gender identity, race, cultural identity, income, the number of parents…, etc.) others are simply a consequence of increased power.
Men, right now, are the ones who should be doing the soul-searching FROM that place of power. We are forced to do it because the sands beneath us have shifted.
For some in the alt-right, this shift has taken an apocalyptic tone. As when bankers, now bereft of what defined then, defenestrated during the great depression (greatly exaggerated I know, but a great narrative device nonetheless), a largely white male population is feeling the push-back of the new world order of diminishing power by virtue of belonging to that group.
So this new narrative arises among its ranks, one of doom, gloom, and violence. Ideas that were, when their numbers and their power was greater, casually cast off as un-American, are now common in its language. Where the coded has become explicit. When Bigots, Racists, and Traditionalists have been re-branded as White Nationalists, and people like David Duke have an out-sized voice in the conversation (again).
The above headline feels like a goal.
The alt-right, the new Vikings, the explosion of men with more muscle mass than 10 Charles atlases, PUA, MGTOW, GamerGate (if there are any of these things you aren’t familiar with you should be) the harassment of feminists and their supporters, doxing in general, whether it be of the proponents or opponents of these “movements” all lead us to the above conclusion.
Hobbes uses the above to justify control of a kingly presence over everyone else; he defines civilization as the reaction to the fear of that life. That the fear of the return of a short, nasty, brutish life is what keeps people in line, but when your life was by virtue of your “race” already the above, or that it now could be, I guess part of our natural tendency is to embrace what we feel is inevitable.
Well in these guys eyes a nasty, brutish life is inevitable.
It is inevitable that the patriarchy will be toppled by hypergamy. It is inevitable that white men of every income will be “cucked” and castrated and thrown from the horse they were born atop only to be thrown into the mud with all the “sharks.”
It is inevitable, in this world, that instead of recognizing how badly fascism ends for most people, including many of those raising their fists for it, they will call for it loudly and without irony. This is where the consequences of not understanding history are dooming us to rewarm the meal and take it, salmonella and all.
Men are in a crisis state, and because we are so greatly tethered to the mythology of a country that shows 1/2 of 1% of what we are and have ever been and probably gets that at least 1/2 wrong, our country is flirting with a very dark path.
Fear, anger, hatred, yeah George, you called it, you so called it.