A Perfect Climate for Liberty

There has been some talk about establishing an explicitly libertarian country, perhaps on an artificial platform in the middle of the sea.  But I would suggest that, to create a society that is amenable to libertarian principles, a certain kind of physical environment is necessary.  That is because the survival of these libertarian principles would depend on society’s willingness to preserve it.

Over the years, the kind of government intended by the founders of the United States has vanished from existence.  Sure, they had disagreements over what the government should look like exactly, but the US government’s current form would certainly not be among any of their visions.  I would argue that this is primarily due to society and its lack of vigilance in preserving the elements of that government that protected liberty.  Not to say that it doesn’t protect liberty at all any more, but its ability to do so has certainly eroded.  I would say the biggest culprit in that is the progressive movement.  Nonetheless, the progressive movement has been rather successful in implementing radical reforms to the US government, despite the fact that such reforms have dramatically increased the size of said government, which necessarily shifts some power from individuals to the state.  I would argue that this was allowed to happen because people stopped caring about liberty as much.  For example, look at the modern left.  The way the average leftist thinks is radically different from the way someone thinks who considers individual liberty a high priority.  And the concept of natural law, the universal, objective law that exists before written law, is alien.

Therefore, a society that respects and values individual liberty requires a culture that respects and values individual liberty.  And culture is shaped by environment.

As conflicted as this makes me, since I admire capitalism’s ability to transform tiny, resource-poor islands into highly-prosperous cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore, I don’t believe such capitalistic cities are necessarily stable.  That is, the comfort inherent in Western society, which these cities pretty much have, makes people complacent, reducing their vigilance.  Granted, that would happen in any environment, except for maybe the most harsh.  There is some evidence for this.  One of the most libertarian places on the planet is apparently Svalbard (as I have written about before in another blog), which, despite being part of Norway, a country known for its generous welfare state, has no welfare system at all.  The climate of Svalbard, which is well-within the Arctic circle, is so extreme that it would simply require too many resources to help people who would otherwise depend on welfare.  Another interesting part of life in Svalbard is the constant threat of polar bears, which requires residents to be able to defend themselves, lest they be mauled to death.  There’s no polar bear police to protect the citizens.

This isn’t to say that a harsh climate guarantees liberty or that liberty is a natural outcome of a difficult environment (which is obviously not the case, as evidenced by the plentiful examples of such places).  Liberty still has to be deliberately instilled in the culture.  A very low population density would also probably help.  What I’m saying here is that, if some magical libertarian country  were to be founded, it would likely have the best chance of surviving in a harsh climate because people would be forced to be self-reliant and would not take their comfort for granted.*  Which is another reason why Antarctica would be an ideal location.  You’d definitely want to avoid anywhere with a pleasant climate and plentiful resources, like the Mediterranean.**

*Note that I’m not saying comfort is bad, per se.  Just that it’s best when you have to work for it.

**Incidentally, I wonder if this has anything to do with the differences between Northern and Southern Europe.  Northern Europe is prosperous because, I would argue, it’s got a relatively healthy culture that values hard work, efficiency, and prudence, whereas Southern Europe tends to be lazy, spendthrift, and less functional (I know this is a stereotype, but it clearly has some truth to it).  Obviously, this is just a correlation and may just be a coincidence, but it seems to make sense.

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Why Don’t You Believe in Science?

The climate change debate is probably the most aggravating one to watch, since I think both sides are wrong.  Let’s summarize the sides, using sweeping generalizations (note that there are some on the right who hold the first opinion and probably some on the left who hold the second opinion, and some people who hold neither):

  1. The left thinks the right’s “climate denial” (apparently the right not only doesn’t believe in climate change, but it doesn’t even believe in climates) proves that it doesn’t believe in science at all.  Meanwhile, anyone who believes in climate change has the smug moral superiorty of knowing that they do believe in science.  And they presumably understand all the science involved in understanding climate change and have read the scientific papers of the scientists they love to cite (as opposed to relying on the media, which frequently mis-reports scientific findings, to determine what the experts are actually saying), and aren’t just defaulting to the position their side is supposed to hold.  Clearly they’ve done all this research themselves because they love to mention how much they love science and stuff.
  2. From what I can tell, there are two major opinions on the right.  One is that anthropogenic climate change (as opposed to climate change in general) doesn’t exist, and the other is that it may or may not exist, but the question of its existence is irrelevant from a policy perspective because either nothing the government does is going to solve it, or even if the government is able to solve it, it shouldn’t because any solution involving the government would necessarily give it too much power.  The second opinion here is the one I hold, so I’m going to address more on the first.

These two sides do have something in common.  Pretty much the only reason people on the right don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change is tribalism.  Which is exactly the same reason those on the left do tend to believe in anthropogenic climate change.  I’m sure some on the left have actually done their research and base their opinion on that, but that’s also probably true for some on the right.  And the right does tend to be religious, which in some cases probably does cause a bit of animosity towards science, but I’ve never encountered that (granted, I don’t follow anyone on Twitter who makes frequent references to the Bible).  As I’ve said many times before, this is not a scientific debate.  It’s a political debate.

But if both sides are wrong, is there a correct position?  Yes.  It’s perfectly fine to say that you don’t know and not take a position at all.  If you haven’t done the research (i.e. actually reading and critically assessing a variety of scientific papers, not just perusing articles in the media or on pop science blogs, etc.), you shouldn’t.  You don’t need to defer to the scientists who actually study the climate either.  Scientists are just as susceptible to things like confirmation bias as anyone else, and the academic process is quite corrupt and often lacks sufficient rigor.  As said above, though, if you’re going to defer to anyone, it should be them as long as you put in the effort to understand what they are actually saying.  They could be wrong, but it’s more likely that they’re not.  Furthermore, nothing in science is really certain; it’s only probable.  I think anthropogenic climate change probably exists based on what I know, but that assessment is worth jack squat so I might as well not even make it.  So, if you’re lazy, like me, and don’t want to do all that research, just say you don’t know if anthropogenic climate change exists and focus on the areas relevant to policy if you want to have that debate.  I beg you.  Also, don’t be supercilious and lord your profound scientific understanding over those with whom you have political disagreements, because I can guarantee you that you don’t have any profound scientific understanding (regardless of how many PhD’s you may have, or whatever.  But especially if the only degree you have is a bachelor of arts in psychology).

Conservative Culture

I used to consider myself a social conservative.  This was largely due to the belief that, as a conservative, I was supposed to be, but it also fit my highly reserved and strongly change-averse personality (even though I was not, nor have ever been, religious).  When I got older and started to think more independently and develop my own belief system, I abandoned most of my social conservatism.  I went from opposing gay marriage to being largely indifferent about it, and I went from opposing drug-decriminalization to supporting it unequivocally.*  The change wasn’t drastic, at least not on the surface, especially considering those issues are among my lowest priorities (especially marriage).  And all my views on social issues didn’t change either; I am still as opposed to abortion as I have always been.  The more drastic change affected my more fundamental beliefs, and how I based my opinions on various issues on those core beliefs.  Since then, most of my current opinions originate from the premise of individual rights.

That gives me somewhat of a libertarian predisposition, but I would still reject that label due to the fact that the term “libertarian” is often co-opted by either conspiracy theorists or social liberals with incidental support of free-markets.  I generally describe myself as a classical liberal, which is essentially libertarian without the crazy, and I would argue it implies neutrality on social issues (since those are not what it is concerned with).  While I would also argue that classical liberalism is, in some contexts, identical to conservatism and I am therefore not wrong to call myself a conservative either, the word “conservative” is much more ambiguous.

Although I was born after the 80’s ended and I was only starting to comprehend politics around the time Obama was running for president in 2007, as I understand the American conservative movement, it is largely a coalition between social conservatives, capitalists, and national security types.  This history is discussed in this article, which gave me the inspiration for this post, because it got me wondering why these three ideologies are compatible in the first place.  It’s something I’ve wondered before, particularly with regards to social conservatives (or more specifically, the Christian Right).  I follow a lot of conservatives on Twitter (most of whom I agree with on a great deal**), and it continues to confound me as to why so many of them are Christians.  I don’t know how many actual, practicing Christians I know in real life, but it’s not very much.

Looking at Christian theology makes things even more confusing.  The example set by Jesus, with his compassion and charity, seems like it would be more conducive to socialism (or bleeding-heart liberalism, if you want).  I get that one can idealize these things without thinking the government should be involved with them, but that doesn’t explain the large correlation between Christianity and supporting low taxes or opposing universal healthcare.  Based on the article I linked to previously, I assume this correlation is more of a historical accident than anything, and started around the 1970’s, well after the hippies associate collective society with open sexuality, drugs, and rock music.  Due to this association, the hippies  became a common enemy of both Christians (who opposed their hedonism) and individualistic classical liberals (who opposed their communalism).

On the other hand, as I said, most of my views are basically the same as they were back when I thought of myself as a social conservative.  Even back then, I did disagree with social conservatives on some issues, mostly explicitly religious ones.  But overall, I still agree more with social conservatives than I do with social liberals.  Classical liberalism may not be a nominally traditionalist ideology, but I would argue that a strong respect for tradition is a logical consequence of it, but this respect for tradition is only superficially related to the respect for tradition social conservatives possess.  This is because the classical liberal respect for tradition is not for the sake of tradition itself, unlike that of social conservatism, but it’s rather a result of individualism and decentralization.

Individualism involves self-reliance, which requires traditional attributes like hard work, reliability, and competence, things that have become less fashionable in this age of self-esteem and helicopter parenting.  On the other hand, I assume most people, even not the most rugged individualists, want to completely isolate themselves.  So, a society in which everyone exists as a lone individual separated from everyone else is not an ideal for anyone, except for maybe the most extreme libertarians.  We still need to co-operate with, and even rely on, others in order to function.  That is why things like family and local community are important.  Once you reach a certain age, it’s theoretically voluntary to associate yourself with such things, and you find more purpose in them than you would in forced, society-wide communalism.  The point is that, while some degree of collectivism is necessary, the best form of collectivism is highly decentralized and voluntary (nuclear families being the best example).

There’s even an argument for common ground between classical liberals and social conservatives when it comes to lifestyle.  Self-reliance requires responsibility.  You can’t be very self-reliant if you’re high all the time or if you’re promiscuous and have a kid before you’re ready for one (this applies to both men and women).  Perhaps there’s disagreement about the extent to which the government should regulate these behaviours, but there’s certainly some cultural common ground.  This is also another reason why I reject the label of “libertarian”; my support for decriminalization of illegal drugs, for example, does not necessarily mean I like illicit drugs, such as marijuana, or want people to use them (for the record, I will acknowledge that marijuana seems to have therapeutic and/or medical benefits, and I’m not opposed to using it myself for such reasons.  Recreationally, though, is another matter).  I’m sure that’s also true for a lot of libertarians, but libertarians have the reputation of being somewhat hedonistic.

*I do not support “legalization” of illicit drugs, merely decriminilization, the distinction being that government shouldn’t generally have policies relating to drugs (that’s an oversimplification of the issue, but that’s my general sentiment).  And this applies to all drugs, on the basis that prohibiting certain unwanted behaviours (for example, the use of cocaine) is a god-awful way to prevent it (see the 18th amendment).

**I know you should expose yourself to other points of view, it’s just often hard to find good people on Twitter, especially since I don’t use it to interact with people.  I have been making an effort to follow people with diverse viewpoints, though, and I do frequent Cracked.com which isn’t exactly a conservative site.  So I’m probably more in a bubble than I should be, but my situation isn’t dire.

NEEERRRRRDDDDD!!!

Looking back at the American election results, it seems evident that the most crucial factor in understanding them is the culture wars.  There are people who breathe modern trends and internet culture, and there are people who don’t understand it.  Of course, the reasons people voted one way or the other are much more nuanced than that, but I would argue that that is a disproportionately large factor.

Basically, the left is “cool.”  Today’s young people lack the context behind socialism that was provided to earlier generations who grew up during the Cold War.  More people than ever are going to college or university, and most of them are women.  And then there is the internet, where people can effortlessly surround themselves with like-minded people and block out anyone with a different viewpoint, equally as effortlessly.  Views on policy are shaped more by celebrities like Stephen Colbert and Lena Dunham than they are by experience or reason.  If you happen not to pay attention to these people, then you won’t understand what’s “in.”

In a lot of ways, leftism seems more like a fashion statement than anything else.  Leftism is in fashion, and therefore those on the left are the cool kids.  Those on the right are the squares: nerds who don’t have the insider knowledge that allows one to be cool without looking like a poser.  Either that, or being on the right makes one a sociopath.  The cool opinion to have regarding universal healthcare, for example, is that it is “lit” or something (see, I have no idea if I’m using that word correctly).  Or maybe it’s “woke.”  Does one of those things mean it’s good?  Whichever one means good.  If you’re opposed to universal healthcare, you clearly want poor people to die alone in the streets, their flesh rotting away in the cardboard box they called home.  It’s black and white; there is no possibility that better healthcare might be provided to everyone using a free-market system or something else.  The only acceptible position regarding universal healthcare is unquestioning support.  You need not analyze the issue in the slightest.  It’s a fashion statement.

It’s also generally assumed, at least in pop culture, that the default position on any issue is the “progressive” one.  I see that word used a lot, with an invariably positive connotation.  Even in cases where it would normally be considered inappropriate to insert politics.  Of course, though, a political statement may not be the intention; absent any connotation, a lot of people on the right would describe their views as progressive, because, to them, they represent progress.  For example, proponents of capitalism believe it is the best way to minimize poverty.  Clearly progressive.  But given the apparently universal acceptance of the left being the default position, it’s not clearly evident that describing something as “progressive” is not a political statement.  Take, for example, Cracked.com.  While nominally a comedy site, it usually tries to be impartial.  If there’s a political post, more often than not, both sides will be attacked equally.  It’s not always successful in that, but very rarely will it be explicitly one-sided.  And yet, it’s been nothing but critical of Trump.  The vast majority of writers and commenters alike are clearly anti-Trump.  That itself is not overly surprising, since it’s not unfair to conclude some of the things Trump has done or said have been beyond the pale.  That’s less a matter of opinion and more a factual statement (unless you’re delusional).  What is a bit more surprising is this article, written by Cracked.com’s executive editor, David Wong.  While it does offer a fair analysis of the Trump victory, concluding that Trump supporters are not nazis, for example, it doesn’t even pretend to be impartial.  It explicitly caters to its left-leaning readership (even though there are plenty of conservatives who frequent the side, often posting well-received comments) and assumes that the leftist viewpoint on any given issue is the correct one.

Another confounding article was this one posted in Scientific American, a well respected magazine on scientific topics.  And yet, it’s posting articles that betray the very nature of science.  Science is ideally impartial.  Science isn’t useful in determining which major political ideology is superior, because it’s not concerned with such things.  Science is used to understand nature objectively; your political views are far from objective.  I’d even go so far as to say science is impartial towards something as clearly evil as white supremacy; the judgement that white supremacy is bad is a moral one.  Sure, science can be used to refute white supremacists’ claims that white people are genetically superior and things like that, but the claim that white supremacy is morally bad has no scientific basis whatsoever.  Not that that makes that claim any less correct.  With that said, it’s inappropriate for an ostensibly science-related magazine to have an article like that, that takes for granted that the audience will agree the word “progressive” is a positive descriptor and that donating to NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU are all good things.  I don’t disagree with a lot of the conclusions he draws about Trump, but nonetheless, this shows the extent to which the “left=default position” mindset has infected pop culture (which, being a magazine, Scientific American is part of).  Even ostensibly apolitical realms of pop culture aren’t immune.* **

In summary, the left is obsessed with making appeals to coolness.  Here’s an article that seamlessly weaves cool status and viewpoints or policies generally agreed to be “progressive,” with reference to Canada’s global popularity, especially since we elected our hip celebrity Prime Minister (h/t Stephen Taylor).***  As someone who despises Justin Trudeau about as much as Trump, reading this sort of uncritical slobbering over him makes me sort of understand why some people voted Trump, even if his presidency might be disastrous.  When it comes down to it, leftists are essentially a bunch of crazed teenage girls, obsessing over whatever celebrity is currently popular, and generally excluding the geeks who don’t follow such trends.  With the state of politics, it’s like we’re back in high school, so it’s not the least bit surprising that someone as juvenile as Donald Trump was elected president.  In response to the juvenile left, most everyone else has responded with equal juvenility.****

*Of course, science itself has become trendy.  But if you go around wearing a shirt that says “I fucking love science” or something to that effect, I assure you you look more a bonehead than scientifically literate.  That’s a very lazy way to try to make yourself look smart.  I mean, if you love science so much, go to university and get a degree (a degree in science, not gender studies or dance or whatever).

**This also doesn’t mean publications like Scientific American should shy away from legitimately scientific subjects that have become politicized, such as climate change.  However, it should be cautious when talking about such things; it should avoid picking a side (both sides are wrong on this issue, if you ask me, because politicians and most political activists have a rudimentary understanding of science at best, and their own personal biases or interests will almost always take precedent over scientific accuracy) and it should avoid policy prescriptions, which are outside the realm of science (a scientific article might be able to say what actions people, in bulk, could take to counteract anthropogenic climate change, but it cannot say what the government can do to get people to take those actions.  That is the realm of social science, which is a separate set of fields).

***I also want to comment on the patriotic tone of that piece.  I’ve never really understood patriotism, especially Canadian patriotism.  Sure, it’s a great country, but for someone who grew up in the far west (not only that, but also in a small town eight hours away from the closest sizeable city), I’ve always felt disconnected from the country, the core of which is formed by Ontario and Quebec and otherwise has a largely urban population.  Where I grew up is very different from Ontario or even Vancouver, so the notion of Canadian patriotism has always been more alienating than anything.

****I’m sure this sort of thing has been true about politics in other eras.  The left has certainly been juvenile for as long as I can remember, but has juvenility ever had this degree of influence?  I should also note that I make a lot of generalizations about the left here, which are obviously not applicable to every individual, or even a majority, on the left.

A Vote for Trump is a Vote for the Democratic Party

The Day of Reckoning is upon us, for tomorrow, the United States and the world at large will learn of the fate it is punished with.  As terrible a president Clinton will inevitably be, there is simply no way a Trump presidency isn’t worse.  As incompetent as Clinton will be, Trump is clearly more ignorant of pretty much everything (except for being a conman, maybe).  As corrupt as Clinton is, Trump hasn’t had as much of a chance to be corrupt.  But based on everything known about his character, his corruptness will put Clinton’s to shame.  The one thing Trump has been consistent on, to my knowledge, is his steadfast opposition to free trade, which I fervently support, but Clinton has at least expressed support for it in the past and I’m thinking she’ll come around to supporting it once she’s in office.  Clinton also has the distinction of not courting white supremacists, while Trump does.

Perhaps the biggest existential threat to Western society is the rise of illiberalism, the most significant proponent of which is Russia.  Although I don’t think Clinton will do a good enough job of standing up to Russia, at least she will nominally treat Russia as a foe.  Trump, on the other hand, has shown Russia nothing but obsequity.  Trump supporters seem to think a Clinton victory portends the end of the United States.  The United States, however, will survive a Clinton presidency.  It will probably survive a Trump presidency, too.  But not all countries likely would survive one; given Russia’s recent history of antagonizing its neighbors even without an American president who has indicated a lack of commitment to NATO, it is reasonable to assume Putin would be much more emboldened with such a president, and emboldened even more so with a president who considers him an ally.  A Trump presidency could therefore represent an actual existential threat to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.  And all that’s not even considering the implications of a Trump presidency for the conservative movement.

If Trump is defeated tomorrow, the conservative movement can potentially begin rebuilding immediately.  If he’s not, it can’t.  Trump will drag it through the mud for either four years or (more likely) until he’s impeached and removed from the office (or maybe even for eight years.  It seems unlikely, but so does our current reality).  After that, who knows how much damage will have been done to it.  A Trump loss doesn’t guarantee the excision of this populist cancer that influential conservatives are “forced” to align with, but it makes it much more likely.  Furthermore, a Trump presidency will make Democrats much more popular (as can be seen with the fact that he is currently making Clinton look palatable). On the other hand, imagine how much damage a Clinton presidency will do to the Democratic Party, and how much more likely that is to result in a Republican-dominated congress in 2018.  And hopefully an actual conservative Republican president in 2020.  Electing Trump would be a much a greater favor to the Democratic Party than electing Clinton would be.

There’s Nothing Gay About Two Dudes Being Intimate

A while back when one of the Captain America movies that came out recently was first coming out, I saw people lamenting that Captain America and his sidekick (?) were not explicitly made a gay couple, even though they were portrayed as very close friends.*  This is a culturally progressive mindset, that any close male friendships portrayed in the media ought to actually be homosexual relationships.  But I find that to be quite, to borrow one of their favorite words, problematic.

I assume I view relationships in an unorthodox manner.  I’m not really sure why; I’m 24 and I’ve never been exposed to anything other than the “mainstream” relationship paradigm.  And yet, I don’t like it and I don’t fit in within it.  What I see the “mainstream” relationship paradigm as is basically the following: all romantic relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual, are essentially the same.  And all friendships, whether between two men, two women, or a man and a woman, are essentially the same as well.  Of course, there are minor differences in the actual dynamics of those relationships, but they’re fundamentally the same.  But why?

I think a major reason for that is the idea of “gender equality,” which may result in thinking of men and women as basically the same (when not thinking of them sexually).  I strongly support gender equality and not discriminating between men and women when there is no good reason to, but they’re not the same.  Generally speaking, men and women can be very different, especially socially.  That doesn’t mean men are inherently superior to women, or vice versa, but they’re not the same.  Furthermore, gay men are not necessarily more similar to women than they are to straight men.  I’m sure that’s true in some cases (and I’m sure there are also straight men who are more similar to women), but in general, it’s not the case.  I have little experience with lesbians, but I assume they are also more similar to straight women than they are to men.  Anyway, gay men, just like straight men, produce testosterone (in much higher levels than women).  Testosterone is perhaps what primarily gives men their maleness, or the behavioural characteristics that are generally associated with men and not women (there are probably other things as well, maybe even something as fundamental as brain structure or even DNA.  Obviously, “maleness” as a biological concept is determined by chromosomes, but according to Wikipedia, the Y chromosome “codes for the production of larger amounts of testosterone to develop male reproductive organs“).

Most gay relationships in the media are portrayed as being similar to heterosexual relationships, in that one guy is “the man” (i.e., the butch one, or the “top”) and the other is “the woman” (i.e. the femme one, or the “bottom”).  Which is probably true in some cases, but probably not most.  But how accurate the portrayal is doesn’t really matter; what matters is the portrayal, because it reinforces the paradigm.  Even in gay relationships that aren’t like that, they are thought of (by most people) as essentially the same as straight relationships in that the dynamics between the two partners are essentially the same: a romantic relationship is a romantic relationship.  But I don’t really think that is the case, or at least it’s not what I want in a relationship.  I look at my dad’s relationship with his wife, and the dynamic between the two of them, and it’s just not appealing to me.  That’s why I’m not big on the idea of gay marriage (at least not for myself); gay couples likely model their relationships on heterosexual relationships, but outside the context of cultural paradigms, I’m not convinced they would.

I might describe myself as an “androphile” (minus any white supremacist connotations that term may have), because I love the concept of “maleness” (or masculinity, if you want).  Not only is it what I seek in a partner, but it’s also something I strive for for myself.**  “Femaleness” is fine too, but it’s not what I’m into.  As such, any relationship between two men, whether platonic or romantic, would probably be fundamentally different from any relationship between men and women, minus that social context (if you look at other cultures that don’t have the same relationship paradigms, that seems to be the case (see here)).  What I want in a relationship is basically a highly intimate bond with another man, something that is often seen, in a platonic sense, throughout history and in other cultures (only what I want is maybe slightly more romantic).

We don’t really have those any more in Western culture.  If two men are that close, it’s seen as gay.  I remember seeing an old movie clip on Cracked that claimed to show the first gay kiss, which supposedly happened back before movies were filmed in color.  But, as was pointed out by commenters (I always read Cracked’s comments.  Unlike most comment sections, it’s usually insightful and reasonable), that scene was not portraying a gay kiss: it was simply between two very close male friends (I can’t remember the name of that particular article, nor do I know what the movie is called).  Take a look at this and see how gay all those guys in the old photos look.  But it’s the same thing there: they’re not gay couples, they’re just close male friends.  In that same comment section, I encountered the concept of a romantic friendship, something which has died out for the most part.  It described a non-sexual friendship characterized by both physical and emotional closeness.

Obviously, I and the man with whom I share the “highly intimate bond” would be a gay couple.  But that extra sexual element that may exist doesn’t really change things.  To be completely honest, “gay sex” doesn’t really appeal to me, but we would surely do stuff that two straight male friends probably wouldn’t be completely comfortable doing with each other.  Still, any kind of physical intimacy between two men, whether it be a bro-hug or full-on anal sex, is all fundamentally the same: it’s just a matter of degree.  On the other hand, sex between a man and a woman is a biological imperative.  There’s the possibility of the creation of life when men and women do it.  Male and female sexual organs are “designed” to fit together.  And it’s an intimacy between two fundamentally distinct kinds of people (i.e. men and women).

As for sexual attraction, who’s to say straight guys, absent cultural context, wouldn’t find something appealing about other guys’ dicks?***  This is just anecdotal, but a gay guy I know claims that he is often propositioned by “curious” straight guys.  Even if it’s not actually the case that straight guys have some small degree of either sexual attraction to or even aesthetic appreciation for dicks, or any part of the male body for that matter, sexual attraction doesn’t really change things.  Anecdotally (again), most straight guys just don’t seem to care that much.  I always hear that from people on sports teams and in the military, and there’s also this article that I’ve seen floating around lately.  As I said before, gay men are simply more similar to straight men than they are to women, similar enough that the homosexuality doesn’t seem to hinder the comeraderie between them.  In a lot of cases, there wouldn’t be any difference whatsoever between the gay guys and the straight guys, other than the fact that the gay guys are into dicks and the straight guys aren’t.  Gay guys have been secretly serving in the military likely since militaries started existing, and there must be at least one gay guy currently playing in North American major league sports without being all dramatic about it.

If physical intimacy between men is simply a matter of degree, and straight men are perfectly capable of camaraderie with gay men, the corollary is that nothing two men do with each other is necessarily “gay.”  That is, whatever they do doesn’t necessarily imply the two men are gay.  Not even anal sex, which is not exclusive to gay or bisexual men, nor is it universal among gay men.  I’m sure there’s something to the stereotype that it’s common where there are no women available, such as prisons or Navy vessels.  Sure, it’s fulfilling a certain desire that’s there whether or not there are women around, but so is platonic physical affection between two straight men.  Otherwise, why would that be so common in the olden days?  The bond shared between two men, who are more compatible with each other than a man is with a woman, is capable of being even stronger than the bond a man shares with his wife, so it makes sense that there would be some kind of physical aspect of that bond.  It really is a shame how little importance is placed on close male friendships, and how a limit is placed on how close they are allowed to be without being “gay,” because all men who care about their maleness should have something like that in their life.  I think we all desire it on some level.

NOTE: I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with guys having female friends or anything like that.  I have a close female friend myself, not to mention my sister, who I’m also very close with.  But, due to how different we are, there’s a limit to how close we can actually get.  A male friendship, even if entirely platonic and non-physical, would fulfil a different need.  I’m sure there are men who don’t have such a limit with their female friends, but I suspect they are in the minority.

*I apologize for my lack of precision in this sentence.  Frankly, the world of comic books and superheroes is completely foreign to me and I have no interest in it whatsoever.  Hopefully, what I’m trying to say here is clear enough.

**There are arguments to be made as for objective definitions for what constitutes “maleness” as a behavioural pattern (I’m not talking about biological maleness here), but I think the details are ultimately subjective.  Most people probably wouldn’t dispute that a guy who spends 8 hours a day in the gym is quite masculine, but I would because that just seems vain to me.  It’s one thing to be strong in a utilitarian sense, but it’s another thing to be completely obsessed with your physique.  So when I say I strive for “maleness” in myself, I’m not saying I want to be able to bench-press the Empire State Building.  It’s more of a set of character traits, which, lamentably, tend not to be fashionable at the moment.

***I read Cracked a lot, which is famous for its “dick jokes.”  The word “dick” comes up a lot.  It’s gotten to the point where the word “penis” seems overly clinical to me.

The Political Correctness of the Right

The Right has its own version of political correctness.  While it often manifests as Christians complaining about Google not having a doodle for Easter or Starbucks not explicitly mentioning Christmas (or, as I like to refer to it as, “Xmas”) on its coffee cups, it often takes a far more repugnant form.  In any case, it is always annoying.

Anyone bemoaning the lack of endorsement of their particular sensibilities by some entity, regardless of what those sensibilities are, is implicitly accusing that entity of being politically incorrect.  I could be wrong about this, but Easter means basically nothing to anyone who is not a Christian, a parent, or a kid.  Unlike Xmas, it’s not a hugely commercial holiday that secular childless adults tend to put of thought into.  The extent to their enjoyment of the holiday is maybe buying some candy and enjoying the day off.  We live in an increasingly secular society (especially outside the South and Utah/eastern Idaho), and Google’s not a Christian company, so it should surprise no one that they would have nothing about Easter, especially when it has become increasingly controversial to endorse a particular religion, due to the implicit exclusion of other religions (Xmas is a bit different because it has a heavily commercial aspect that is quite secular in nature).  Why bother being offended by something so predictable?  I suspect a lot of Christians do not like the erosion of the Christian cultural hegemony over the West, but it’s not a bad thing.  Spirituality should be a personal thing, not a societal thing.

While that is annoying and similar enough to what the left does, the “right”‘s political correctness gets much, much darker.  This expression of political correctness is embodied by the “alt-right,” which I would describe as an infantile group of losers who, due to lacking anything to contribute to society, feel disaffected but also entitled to some power over others because I guess they really believe in white privilege.  These delicate princesses are basically upset that society doesn’t wait on them, as they feel entitled to.  In essence, they are anti-intellectuals who operate on emotion.  James Kirchick has an excellent piece at the National Review examining the human sewage to whom Trump appeals (via Twitter.  I unfortunately forget who I initially got it from; I intended to save the tweet but inadvertently refreshed the page before remembering that I meant to save it).  As you can see from reading it, the alt-right resembles the left far more than it does traditional conservatives.  They also despise traditional conservatives, who are far too level-headed and not angry enough for them.

Another aspect of the traditional right that they despise is individualism.  Their beliefs are predicated upon the existence of inherent societal divisions.  Just like the left usually views black or gay people as inextricable members of the black or gay communities and therefore not capable of being their own people (which is not something I would ever expect them to admit, but is the logical conclusion of their ideology, which manifests itself any time a black or gay person dares to express an unorthodox position), the alt-right views white people in the same way (and are more than happy to admit that).  To anyone, like me, who believes people are individuals who have far more than a single trait, this is an absolutely bizarre (and pernicious) way to view people.  Then again, as Kirchick concludes, the special snowflakes on the alt-right are all about their “tribe.”  Individualism is potentially lonely (which is probably the reason I, as someone who tends to prefer solitude, am so attracted to it even though I’m also gay and therefore ought to automatically support generous welfare programs).  This simplistic tribal mentality is human nature, but overcoming the base aspects of human nature is one of the pillars of civilized society.  I doubt it’s possible to completely divorce oneself from tribalism, short of becoming a hermit, because you kind of get the same thing from just having a social circle  (see also this excellent article at Cracked).

I would also like to address the idea that white people will, in the future, become an “oppressed minority.”  While ridiculous on its face, there are still people out there who will fall for it, so it’s worthwhile to refute it instead of just brushing it off, as some people may be inclined to do.  Yes, demographics in traditionally white countries are changing, but no, that is not a reason to be alarmed, per se.  It does make a difference what the nature of this change is; while I think a lot of Muslims are just as decent as any other person, as Europe has shown, Muslims immigrants must be integrated (not in a way that forces them to abandon their religion or culture, just so that they are compatible with Western society, as many Muslims already are).  Overall, though, it doesn’t really make a difference what the racial demographics of a community are (although there may be correlations between racial groups and things like poverty rate, those correlations are caused more by history than genetics, and the only thing genetics has to do with it is how it influenced history), because those people are fundamentally individuals.  As troubling as I find the left’s continued division of society into arbitrary groups and how that will inevitably beget the continued existence of discrimination by keeping this tribal mentality alive, white people are not about to be the targets of systemic oppression (outside of maybe South Africa).  If that does become imminent sometime in the future, that would be the time to address it, and even then, white nationalism wouldn’t be an appropriate response.  White nationalism is certainly not justified by something that may happen at some point but probably won’t.  It’s never going to be justified.

I’ve also seen claims that black people are intellectually inferior to white people (a claim made by white people who openly embrace anti-intellectualism, as an argument against black people).  Even if that were true (and it’s bunk, just like IQ, an unreliable quantification of intelligence, and the metric on which the claim is based), it’s not a relevant argument to anything.  Because people are individuals.  Even if the average black person were dumber than the average white person, that doesn’t mean there aren’t highly intelligent black people or extremely dumb white people.  And furthermore, intelligence isn’t even a good indicator of a person’s worth (which is not up to anyone to decide, anyway).  Highly intelligent people may be serial killers, while imbeciles may be highly talented or skilled in some way, or run a shelter for abandoned kittens (for example).

In summary, the alt-right believes itself to be a response to the left and its political correctness.  But, as with the left’s response to discrimination caused by arbitrary racial divisions, the solution to what is admittedly a problem is not more of the same problem.  They’re responding to political correctness with more political correctness.  Whereas classical liberalism, the philosophy on which the US Constitution was based, is an enlightened philosophy based on the ideal of reason (I’m not unaware of how pretentious that sounds, but it’s true), both radical leftism (which can take the form of revolutionary Marxism, that social justice nonsense, etc) and the alt-right are based on the id*, and are different sides of the same coin, so to speak.  And they’re both diametrically opposed to classical liberalism.

NOTE 1: I am not suggesting that the people who claim there is a “war on Christmas,” etc., are in any way as reprehensible as the walking excrement that comprises the alt-right.  Many of the former are decent people and I’m not the kind of person to hate someone based on political disagreements, unless their political views are particularly vile.  Even then, though, I also want to make clear that, regardless of my opinions of the alt-right, that doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to freely express their opinions.

NOTE 2: Kirchick mentioned that many of the people at the white nationalist conference had “undercut” haircuts.  I’ve noticed lots of people with this flamboyantly effeminate-looking haircut walking around, often along with skinny jeans.  Because I find it so hideous (it ranks up there with manbuns) and difficult to describe, I’m glad I now have a term for it with which to better complain.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that, like many terrible things, it was popular with Nazis.  Speaking of Nazis, I now support the heavy regulation of the internet.  What caused this radical change from my former position of absolute internet freedom was people calling unrelated celebrities “daddy” (notably Milo Yiannopolous/Donald Trump**, but I’ve seen it elsewhere).  I could have (just barely) tolerated people saying stupid things like “bae,” “af,” and all the other contemporary colloquialisms that are used to death by dumbass young people (note: just so I’m not mistaken for a senior citizen, I just wanted to mention that I’m 24), but I just can’t tolerate that “daddy” shit.

*I say they are based on the id because they all appeal to resentment, whether against rich people, white people, minorities, etc.

**On the other hand, according to rumors, Donald Trump had many illegitimate children from his extramarital affairs, and they all grew up to be Milo Yiannopolous.

We’re Through the Looking Glass Here, People

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and I fear that after tomorrow, Trump will have this thing locked down.  I really, really hope I’m wrong about that, because Trump’s nomination would be a huge blow to the conservative movement in the States.  If he were to become president, that might represent the defeat of the idea of the United States of America, which, while flawed, has always been a shining beacon in this dark world filled with tyranny.  That is why I care about this so much.  I like to think American ideals would be resilient enough to withstand a Trump presidency, but I’m not sure they would.

Back when the primary campaign was just getting started, Scott Walker was by far my favourite candidate.  While I’m sure, like all politicians, he’s a scumbag, he’s one of the most accomplished conservative politicians in terms of actual results.  Since he dropped out, I’ve preferred Rubio, tepidly at first.  But that tepidity decreased linearly with the increase of Trump’s perceived inevitability.  I would be fine with Cruz as well, and for a long time, I preferred him only slightly less than Rubio (my preference for Rubio based on how well he has polled against Hillary).  After having read this, though, it does seem Cruz would be an excellent choice for Supreme Court, and Rubio currently seems to be in a better position to defeat Trump.  The only thing I disagree with that on is Kasich as a running mate.  Fuck Kasich.  Anyway, it’s crunch time.  Cruz (and Kasich, and Carson) needs to drop out before it’s too late (and it may already be).

If Trump manages to win the nomination, then there’s still something that could be done to save America.  And that is *gulp* voting for Hillary in the general election (or even Sanders, if he somehow manages to beat her).  I think the Republican Party may be able to recover from this nonsense if that were to happen.  Trumpism could (hopefully) end there and everyone could move on and pretend it never happened.  If Trump were elected, the pain and embarrassment would continue until his impeachment and removal from office.  So, probably not for very long.  But then his vice president would succeed him, and he would probably pick someone ridiculous like Sean Hannity or Sarah Palin to be his running mate.  That is, assuming Trump’s inevitable power grabs could be restrained.  On the other hand, while I do think Hillary would do about as much damage during her presidency as Trump (maybe not quite as much), at least until her impeachment and removal from office (or indictment and arrest), she would be doing the damage under the Democrat/progressive label.  Sanders would probably also do about as much damage as Trump, but he would be doing it under the socialist label.  Either way, you get leftism and universal healthcare, but if it’s a Democract doing it, the Republicans can at least (in theory) present an alternative that isn’t based on identity politics, which the Democrats won’t (and the Republicans can’t*) if Trump is president.  The entire Republican party/conservatism in general is going to be associated with everything Trump says or does by the media.

Furthermore, there is another reason why Hillary or Sanders would be preferable to Trump.  They’re much less racist than he is.  I mean, the Republican front-runner actually failed to denounce the god damn KKK.  Is this 1915?  While I am dumbfounded by the fact that the Republican front-runner is doing little to prove he’s not a white supremacist, I’m not entirely surprised that malicious racism seems to be on the rise.  A lot of people are (tragically) predisposed to tribalism, and that shit’s been kept alive by the left, with their social justice nonsense.  Is it really that surprising that morons would buy into it?  This is a good example of why racial categorization (regardless of how well-intentioned) is fundamentally immoral.  Still, I would prefer their brand of racism to Trump’s.  At least they’re not completely dehumanizing anyone.  Nuclear war is also less likely with Hillary or Sanders, so that’s a plus.

What happens if Trump does become president?  One thing I can guarantee is that there will be a generation of ultra-strong supercriminals who can function without sleep.  As for the conservative movement (which may need to borrow a tactic from the left and “re-brand”), I imagine the conservatives will try to take back the Republican Party from Trump and his cohorts (keeping in mind that, unlike people like John McCain, Trump isn’t just a moderate squish.  He’s a full-blown leftist, complete with racism and possible (actual) fascism.  So this isn’t going to be the same battle the conservative GOP has been fighting against the “establishment” for years).  If they fail, the next step is to form a third party, which, in the United States, is probably not going to be successful.  And all that is assuming Trump isn’t successful in turning the republic into an empire.  And at this point, I’m not entirely convinced that that isn’t going to happen.

I hope I’m overreacting a bit here, but I fear I’m not.  I never would have thought Trump would last this long.  At this point, all reason has been thrown out the window.  Up is down, my toaster just got up and walked across the room, and there are polar bears all over the place.

Can White People and Black People Have Things in Common?

It’s 2015, so I don’t know why there are still lots of people who still view society in racial terms.  But there are.  And there is no excuse for it.  That mindset is only keeping itself alive, and while many of the people who hold it have good intentions, many other people who hold it are motivated by malice towards certain races (or other groups of people).

Many of the people who hold such viewpoints fall into two categories: “social justice warriors” who believe “white privilege” is holding down all the other races, and white supremacists (and other racial superiority groups).

I’m not a big fan of psychology, but I think there is something to the idea of projection.  After all, if you are accustomed to having a certain mindset, it makes sense that you would naturally assume other people share the same mindset.  You may not even consider the possibility that other people view things in a different manner.  And I think it is possible that both of these groups tend to project their own obsession with race onto the rest of society.  If you spend so much time thinking in terms of race, the possibility that not everyone else is obsessed with it might not even cross your mind.

But I don’t think most people spend very much time thinking about race.  Not even white men, who are ostensibly afraid that they are losing their power in society to ascendant minorities and women.  But why then do they tend to be so opposed to social justice initiatives that are designed to help minorities and women ascend the socioeconomic ladder?  Perhaps it is because those initiatives are wrongheaded.  In addition to being fundamentally anti-meritocratic, they are also racial in nature, which makes people uncomfortable.  Discomfort when it comes to racial issues is a justified response, considering how talking about race inevitably emphasizes division*, which is something only bigots want.  Not that division is the intention everyone who wants to have a “conversation” about race.  It’s just the inevitable product, because not only are there still people who want division and will use any excuse they can find to justify that desire (i.e. the blacks are getting uppity, therefore white genocide is just around the corner), but also because race is not a valid premise to begin with.

I, a white guy, am capable of having things in common with black people.  I don’t see white people and assume they are anything like myself just because they are white, so why would I look at a black guy, or an Asian chick, or a Hispanic transsexual and assume that they are very different from myself?  It never even would have occurred to me to think like that, until all the race-obsessed “social justice warriors” brought race up in the first place.  Sure, I was aware of racism growing up, but I always assumed that that was mostly in the past and that humanity was now at a place where race didn’t matter.  Of course, I’m neglecting the experiences of racial minorities here, who may not have come to the same conclusion growing up.

It is appalling that anyone has a valid reason for believing they are the target of racism, but there is.  But is having a “conversation” that will stoke people’s emotions rather than fix anything going to be productive?  We’ve been having that conversation for years, and things don’t seem to be getting any better.  Perhaps a more productive solution would be to identify the actual causes of these problems and don’t just assume they are due to “white privilege” or some nonsense**.

The idea that a white guy and a black guy might have a lot in common with each other is also a major flaw with the overall worldview of both social justice warriors and white supremacists, and the general mindset of viewing people as a set of labels as opposed to individuals.  I mean, I’m a white, homosexual, cisgendered male, but what does that tell you about me?  The only way it tells you very much at all about me is if you think in stereotypes (and if you do, what it tells you about me would be way off, which I assume is also the case for almost everyone).  Everyone is an individual, and should be thought of as such.

I also have to comment on white supremacists, who I always assumed were an incredibly small fraction of the overall population and that they didn’t really have any influence.  But they’ve been coming out of the woodwork ever since Trump started running for president.  Obviously, this post is a repudiation of them as much as it is a repudiation of the “social justice warrior” mindset, but I just hate white supremacists so much more, on a visceral level.  As much as I will defend their right to express their repugnant opinions, they are garbage (both the opinions themselves and the people who express them), and they make me feel slightly sympathetic towards the “social justice warriors” who I believe are (mostly) well-intentioned, even if I vehemently disagree with them and think they are nuts and that their movement is insidious.

And while I’m on the topic of white supremacists, I’ll also address another idiotic (perhaps overlapping) segment of Trump supporters: the people who like him solely because he is “strong.”  Well, so was Stalin.  Trump supporters are basically communists.  In a race between Stalin and Calvin Coolidge, these “far-right” Trump supporters would pick Stalin.  And not only are they communists, but they are also basically millennials.  See, like many millennials, they operate on emotion (in this case, anger) and constantly need their precious feelings validated, or they start bitching like triggered college students.  So they’re frustrated at being ignored by the Republican establishment/the government.  Well, so is everyone else, but no one is complaining about it as loudly as them (I mean, opposing the government is great, but only if you can produce a logical argument.  Complaining is just fucking annoying).  So, there you have it: Trump supporters and communist millennials are basically the same thing.

*I’m also aware that I am talking about race right now.  So, to clarify, a conversation on race is needed, but not the conversation that either the “social justice warriors” or white supremacists want to have.

**Looking at racial groups as a whole, there is obvious disparity when it comes to social indicators.  But wouldn’t an affluent black kid in Prince George’s County, Maryland have more opportunity (i.e. privilege) than a poor white kid in rural eastern Kentucky?  Concepts like “white privilege” assume that black people are inherently poor and white people are inherently wealthy, which seems to be to be somewhat… problematic.  Perhaps “privilege” has more to do with economic status and geography than skin color, and talking about privilege in terms of race is an oversimplification.

“Where Did I Put My Masculinity?”

There are a lot of different traits that are associated with masculinity.  One image that might come to mind is the man who silently fights against any adversity that comes his way without complaint or visible emotion.  And that is what a lot of men do; they shoulder their own burden so they don’t put that burden onto others.  Among men, a lack of self-reliance is a source of shame.

That is why there is something un-masculine about things like the Men’s Rights movement.  There are certain disadvantages boys and men have in modern society, sure, but to claim oppression is to play the victim.  And there is nothing masculine about that.  And apparently, that is one thing that is appealing to men about Donald Trump; he represents a repudiation of the “feminization” of Western society.  As Andrea Tantaros said, “The left has tried to culturally feminize this country in a way that is disgusting. And you see blue collar voters — men — this is like their last vestige, their last hope is Donald Trump to get their masculinity back” (h/t Allahpundit).

So, apparently, masculinity comes from politicians/the government.  Which is a terribly sad mindset.  A real man wouldn’t ask politely for his masculinity to be provided for him, or whine until he gets it.  That’s beta-male behaviour.  No, a real man produces it himself.  If you want to be more of a man, there is nothing stopping you other than yourself.  If you’re concerned about the feminization of society, make sure you give your son(s) strong values, and take them hunting, play sports with them, etc.  And don’t apologize for that.  Set an example yourself by being a strong man, not a whiny bitch.

Having said that, the “girlish” environment that pervades schools nowadays is a genuine concern, as is the demonization of masculinity in general.  The former is a symptom of a much larger problem that has many other adverse affects, the problem being the stranglehold the teachers’ unions have over the education system.  They are powerful and they get extremely threatened by any changes to the status quo.  The latter is more of a personal thing.  Until it’s illegal, all you have to do is not apologize for being a man.  It wouldn’t bother a real man to be demonized by a few harpies.  And those are the only people who are going to care anyway.  My god, some guys are just self-conscious.

Warning: The preceding post was extremely sexist and should not have been viewed by young children or people who behave like young children.

Note: By no means am I specimen of eminent virility, brimming with testosterone.  While I’m by no means feminine, I am a somewhat nerdy university student who does not own (or even rent) my own place, and I still live with my dad during the summer (because money).  I’ve never been hunting, and my weakness is kittens.  I probably weigh less than your dog (unless you have one of those rat dogs).  I’m also a homosexual (although not one of those fruity ones).  I’m just saying this to make it clear that I’m not just trying to be some fake tough guy.  But those are the things I believe and they’ve helped me get through tough situations before.  And I am genuinely concerned about the direction society is going, and it is especially alarming that there are men who are bitching about their deficient masculinity, as well as the fact that they see the mincingly dainty Donald Trump, who spends most of his time bitching about his feelings, as an idol of masculinity.