No, seriously, I don’t have sinister telepathic powers!

I am amazingly and terrifyingly powerful. With a single sweep of my divine gaze I can reduce grown adults to whimpering spots on the floor. Against my godlike will, only the bravest dare muster a resistance!

Or that’s the impression I get from listening to feminists. This is very odd, because my actual experience of living my actual life gives me the impression that no one cares what I think about anything. In fact, I’m pretty sure that feminists have told me that too. “WE DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT ANYTHING!” they have told me. “SO SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP, YOU WORTHLESS ENTITLED MAN-CHILD! NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!” Which is a somewhat unnecessarily mean-spirited way of putting it, but does fit the available data. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly feel that people should care what I think, but that’s neither here nor there.

This is not me. You do know that, right?

So how do I square this with the assurances of Iliza Shlesinger, whose book Girl Logic I inadvisably picked up a sample of from I know, I know, I have only myself to blame. Haven’t I myself said that abuse you can walk away from is abuse that’s self-inflicted? But in my defense, I used to have a lot of respect for Shlesinger, who struck me as being everything a feminist should be – proud to be a woman while being perfectly aware of the failings of womanhood, and also while being perfectly unrepentant about those failings because feminism is the radical notion that women are human and humans are allowed to have flaws. As I have pointed out before, the alpha males who feminists tend to envy do not go around pretending to be perfect, or pretending that manhood is perfect – they go around proudly bragging about how incorrigible they are. Since the blurb of the book claimed that it was about uniquely female ways of thinking about how those ways were valid and powerful, I thought that that was what I could expect.

I should have known better, of course, because I knew perfectly well that Shlesinger had become a born-again feminist and vowed never to say a bad word about women ever again, because they already suffer sooooooooo much, the poor innocent little darlings. I should at least have checked the publishing date to see if I was getting the old, awesome Shlesinger or the new, self-pitying Shlesinger. Alas, I did not. Nor did I turn back at the foreword, wherein some person who I’ve never heard of gushed about Shlesinger’s general perfection in terms that gave me the impression that she was two seconds away from signing over all her worldly possessions to her. After all, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and I think it follows that you also shouldn’t judge it by overly fawning forewords.

And the book proper started promising enough, with Shlesinger describing, wittily and cheerfully, how women can appear to not know what they want because they see all the pros and cons, present and future, of any subject, and how that should not be seen as a weakness but rather as a tremendous strength. With that I absolutely agree, by the way. My experience is that women are much better than men at nuanced and detailed perspectives. Most men I run into make me grind my teeth with their way of trying to cram every peg that can be approximately called “round” into a round hole, and every peg that might charitably be described as “square” into a square hole, and never mind that both the pegs and the holes have unique and complicated shapes that don’t fit into those neat categories and that you end up breaking a lot of round-ish pegs by trying to cram them into a standard-issue round hole. Women are far less prone to proclaim that the world is wrong because it disagrees with the map.

Before I start ranting about what Shlesinger said next and how much I hate it and how wrong she is, let me belabor this fact some more. I believe in the power of women to change the world for the better. And not in the self-serving way that conservatives have of claiming that being a housewife lets them wield some kind of subtle power behind the throne – no, I believe in women’s power to take on traditionally masculine activities and do them in their own way, providing fresh new perspectives that have historically been ignored and neglected. This may require that we make some changes to our society, because right now we have a system that rewards masculine habits and punishes feminine ones, thus making sure that only a few women actually reach positions of power, and those women are the ones who are either inclined towards exactly the sort of masculine thinking that we’re trying to balance out or who have at least taught themselves to practice it. I believe we should make those changes to our society – bring on the gender quotas, bring on the family-friendly business practices, bring on anything that might dilute the concentrated testosterone at the top with some much-needed estrogen!

Is that clear? As far as Girl Logic – as per Shlesinger’s initial description of it – goes, I’m a fan.

But of course she had to mess it up, because she’s a feminist now, and feminists can’t stay positive for more than two seconds before they have to start wailing about how the world is being mean to them. So of course she goes on to say that Girl Logic is in fact a learned survival mechanism for living in a world that hates you and is constantly picking on everything you do, from how you look to how you act, and which catches you in constant double binds where everything you might possibly do is wrong.

Jesus Christ… okay, first off, did I mention that this is maybe three pages after she admits that men don’t notice or care about the sort of details women obsess over? And after she vividly describes judging a man on how he looks and dresses? Should I understand that this is not just a description of Girl Logic but a demonstration? Because if so, I don’t think it paints it in a very favourable light. In fact, it kind of lives down all the worst stereotypes of it. “Well, sure, this isn’t technically true, but… it feels like it is! And that’s what matters!!!”

Secondly, let me tell you a little secret about the male experience, Iliza Shlesinger, since you’ve been so generous in letting me in on the female experience. You know those alpha males who are in charge of everything? The one who yell and curse and insult people? The one who brag and smirk and sling their dicks about? The ones you envy so much because they don’t “have to be LIKEABLE”?

Those unlikable men? The rest of us guys… DON’T LIKE THEM.

I’m serious. When our bosses are yelling at us about how inferior we are, what do you think we’re thinking? “Oh, he’s such a strong leader! I am so lucky to be allowed to serve him”? NO! We’re thinking that he’s a douchebag! We’re calling him every ugly name in the book inside our heads! Oh, we say “yes, sir!”, because he can fire us otherwise, but what we’re thinking is, “I hope you get lots and lots of cancer, you worthless sociopath!”

And he knows that we’re thinking that. Does he care? Does he write long books about how unfair it is that people don’t like him just because he happens to be unlikable? NO! He feels great about it! He goes home and sleeps like a baby, dreaming of angels singing hymns to his supreme awesomeness! The more people hate him, the more successful he feels, because they can’t do anything about it and that proves that he’s all-powerful.

You know who does seem to get a naughty little thrill at the sight of a man being a complete ass and getting away with it, while raising hackles at the sight of a woman doing the same? You know for whom an entire genre of literature is marketed that is all about the sexiness of alpha-douchebags? You know who makes endless excuses for douchy men as long as they’re successfully douchy, but who comes down like a ton of bricks on any woman who does anything wrong ever? WOMEN! WOMEN DO THAT!

Having made that declaration (which even I think is flirting uncomfortably with misogyny), I need calm my tone for a moment and make a few disclaimers. First off, and most obviously – hashtag-not-all-women. Not all women let men get away with crap. In fact, the group of women you’d think I’d be the most hostile towards, the hardcore feminists, are, funnily enough, the ones who are pristinely innocent of that accusation. You won’t catch them making excuses for any man, no matter how dashingly workaholic he is. When it comes to men, hardcore feminists are great egalitarians: they hate all of us, without prejudice or preference. Which, as a fellow deeply hateful person, I kind of have to respect.

(in fact, the thought occurs that the hardcore feminists are so gung-ho about hating men specifically because they know that they are inherently inclined to let men get away with murder, and that they are so relentless in making excuses for women because they know that they are inherently prone to nitpicking and finding faults with women. In which case I can only say that I fully support fighting against one’s natural inclinations, but that I think that they may have overshot the mark just a teeeeeensy bit…)

And even among other women, there are variations. Casual feminists seem to be the ones who specifically despise weak men but are shameless apologists for strong men (the worst combination, if you ask me).  When I rant, assume that I’m mostly ranting against those –  partly because the hardcores are too few to matter and partly because I at least grudgingly respect their consistency. And below even them on the hating-pole, there are the non-feminist women, who really do seem to go easy on all men, even whimpy ones like me, while simultaneously being very hard on other women.

Secondly, let me be clear that the tendency to go easier on the group of people you’re programmed to want to mate with than on the group of people you’re not is very much present among men, too. That, of course, is the exact opposite of what feminists believe, but feminists know nothing. Men – other than MRAs, who are sad and broken creatures who should not, I damn well hope, be held up as representatives of all of manhood – don’t like to criticise women. It’s just no fun. Men want to like women, and they particularly want to like strong and decisive women.

I’m serious. You know all those man-feminists who are always kissing your ass and saying how great it is to see a woman speaking up? Yeah, they’re 100% sincere, but it’s not because they’re such staunch, virtuous little allies. It’s because strong women are awesome. Men are hardwired to think that strong women are awesome. I can tell you with complete honesty that while, as per above, I loathe alpha-douchebags who yell at me, I am strangely okay with women who yell at me. I mean, I don’t like being yelled at, in itself, but when it’s a woman? Then I actually do kind of think, “Oh, she’s such a strong leader! I am so lucky to be allowed to serve her.” And I feel like a complete doormat for thinking that way, but I still can’t help it.

So yeah, I have a massive double standard. It’s the completely opposite double standard that Shlesinger is accusing me of having, but since I’m going to be accusing all of womanhood of having a streak of inherent favouritism towards men, I’d be a hypocrite not to admit to a streak of inherent favouritism towards women. Rule number one: we all of us suck. We just suck in different ways.

As for nitpicking women’s appearance… look, not to repeat myself, but Shlesinger literally started the chapter by admitting that that’s something women do. To men, yes, but to other women too. Seriously, we don’t care what you look like, as long as you broadly register as “female.” You’ve got breasts? Don’t worry, you’re golden. You don’t have breasts? Grow your hair long and you’re golden. You can say a lot of bad things about men, and I’ve said most of them myself, but accusing us of having a high visual standard is just plain bizarre.

Look, there is such a thing as a man who nitpicks women’s appearance, yes. That kind of man is technically referred to as “a despicable little bitch,” or as I like to put it, an alpha-wannabe. Any man you see whining that a fat girl wore a revealing outfit and OMG, has she no SHAME, how can she let herself be seen like THAT?!… any man who would say that out loud is no kind of man at all. A true beta male does not judge, and a true alpha male doesn’t look closely enough to even notice. And both kinds look down on the kind of malicious little turd who tries to push himself up by pushing others down.

No, nitpicking and finding fault with everything is a predominately feminine pastime. When it’s directed at men, it’s called “feminism.” And when it’s directed at women, it’s called “patriarchy,” and people like Iliza Shlesinger writes long books proclaiming that it’s all our fault. Never mind that outside of the wretched online hives where screeching alpha-wannabes congregate, something like 90% of all criticism against women comes from other women. Whenever I hear that some woman is supposedly such a bitch and crazy in the head and entitled and horrible and and and and… the person telling me that is invariably another woman. Because a man with self-respect wouldn’t be able to get halfway through that sentence without hating himself. (hell, case in point – I went back and erased a ton of text here, because it was just too angry. I am very comfortable raging against feminists, but when I get closer to raging against women in general, I start to feel gross)

Bottom line? If Iliza Shlesinger feels judged on her appearance, I submit that that is because if she were someone else, she’d be judging herself on her appearance. If she feels pressured to be likeable, I submit that that is because if she were someone else, she’d be sniffing and scoffing about how unlikable she was. She’s not correctly noting how others feel about her, she is projecting her own feelings onto them.

But you know what really kills me? I don’t believe for a second that Iliza Shlesinger, who has always come across (even in this book, even when talking about how incredibly victimised she is by men supposedly thinking ill of her) as a powerful, confident woman who could get into a scrap and give back as good as she got and most certainly didn’t worry about whether anyone thought she was likeable, actually feels judged and oppressed. Oh, I am sure that she believes that others are judging her, because she knows that if she was someone else she’d judge her, I just don’t believe that that’s something that bothers her, no more than douchy male bosses are bothered by being hated by their subordinates. What I do believe is that there are other women, such as that pitiful creature who wrote the foreword, who really are terrified of not being seen as perfect and convince themselves that that terror is perfectly rational and justified because those evil, evil men would totally punish them for not being perfect. But because they are weepy and neurotic and useless, they aren’t in a position to actually argue their case – so along like a knight in shining armour comes Shlesinger, who is not weepy or neurotic, to support their narrative in the name of right and justice and sisterly solidarity.

And why shouldn’t she? The entire world tells her that the neurotics are objectively right – that women suffer horrible torments at the hands of those evil men, and that any woman who doesn’t suffer is an anomaly, someone who has by sheer accident avoided the all but omnipresent hatred towards women in our society. Why shouldn’t she take up the cause of protecting her sisters? If everyone says it’s right, how can it be wrong?

And people ask me why I don’t just avoid and ignore feminism. Because it spreads, morons! Because every woman I admire always turns into a feminist and starts telling me how awful I am! Because the only way I could avoid feminism would be to admire no one, listen to no one, like no one – to just sit in a dark room all day long and never feel or think anything ever again! Because I like strong women, and feminism keeps getting hold of strong women and turning them into self-pitying wrecks who spew unfounded allegations at me!

Because they really are unfounded. I do not have sinister telepathic powers. I am not making you feel what you’re feeling. Your feelings are your own. Take pride in them or work to change them, but own them. Stop blaming them on me.


How did being anti-pain become controversial?

Why am I the only person in the world who doesn’t want to be in pain?

Seriously, it’s a question that haunts me. You’d think there’d be hordes of us. It should be the most natural thing in the world to not want to be in pain. Pain is quite literally the feeling of experiencing something you don’t want to experience. It’s the great universal “no.” We should be programmed specifically to avoid it above all else. And yet.

Conservatives love pain. They consider inflicting it on others to be the best way of making them behave, and they are absolute gluttons for it themselves, too. Work-work-work. Endure-endure-endure. A conservative seems to love nothing so much as to brag about how much pain he’s in and how happy he is about it.

Male liberals love pain. All they ever want to talk about is how horrible they are and how much they deserve to suffer. Maybe they’re too wussy to actually, physically flog themselves, but they sure aim to be as unhappy and self-hating as possible. And any other men who won’t get with the program need to taste the lash too, of course.

I suppose you could make a case that female liberals don’t love pain, because they certainly decry any and all miniscule discomforts they suffer as a horrifying injustice. That might be construed as being anti-pain, at least their own pain. But I’m not sure even about that. They seem to be having a little too much fun gloating over how abused and mistreated they are. I get the very strong feeling that if you crowned the average feminist Queen of the Universe and made all her dreams come true and turned her every word into the spoken law, she’d last all of five minutes before she started self-harming just to get some pain to identify herself through. Part of not liking pain, is what I’m saying, is trying to not think about it all the damn time.

So it ends up just being me who wants to not be in pain. I don’t want to work too hard. I don’t want to starve. I don’t want to hate myself. Don’t want to have to hate anyone else either, for that matter, but since I only hate people who hurt me that part would take care of itself if there was just less hurting going on. And while I’ve pretty much given up on sex at this point, back when I was still hoping for it I definitely wanted it with a nice bit of emotional connection and without a lifetime of indentured servitude to the needs of some drooling brat, and that seems to fly in the face of all currently dominant ideologies.

I don’t know. I guess part of it is that other people want to do whatever they want, and they don’t care about the cost. Conservatives want to be entrepreneurs and run their companies any way they want and keep all the money for themselves, and for that they’re willing to suffer hideously. Feminists want to screach and scream and let everyone know how miserable they feel, and apparently lack the self-awareness to realise that after a certain point the screaching and the screaming just solidifies the pain. And what they all jolly well should do is sit down, shut up and realise that the greatest freedom is the freedom to do nothing.

(and male liberals… I don’t know, I guess they just really, really like siding with women?)

Bobo, an inspiration to heroic lazybums everywhere

Heh… I remember this cartoon from when I was a kid, where a bunch of crooks were cutting down the forest that the environmentalist hero lived in. He asked them why, and they explained that they were trying to get rich. He asked them what they’d do if they got rich, and they said they’d just slack off all day. So then he pointed out that they could achieve the same thing by putting down their axes and saws and going to have a nap right now. So they did, and the day was saved. Would that that worked in real life!

Anyway, the answer seems to be that I’m the only person around who isn’t too lazy to be a proper slacker. It requires self-discipline to resist the urge to do things that will only cause you pain. And then it requires more self-discipline to still do the bare minimum to avoid more pain in the future. Apparently most people don’t have that. They feel a discomfort, and they shoot off like they’ve sat on a wasp – when what they should really do is first try to ignore the discomfort, then very carefully try to shift away from it, and only if that doesn’t work should they sigh, get up, and move away a few steps.

But it still seems strange that I’m apparently the only one who realises that.

Freedom of Speech For Idiots and Jerks

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!
More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country’s planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man’s laws, not God’s — and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — d’you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

~ Robert Bolt, A Man For All Seasons

I tend to dismiss claims of high ideals, no matter who makes them, as obvious self-delusions. I suppose that makes me a great cynic – I honestly believe that ideals are things people make up to prettify their self-interest (for, admittedly, a fairly broad definition of “self-interest” which includes such things as spiting one’s enemies and getting the praise and attention of one’s peers) and give it moral weight. I used to do that, but I try not to anymore; my motivations spring from my own personal feelings, and it’s those feelings that need to be addressed, not some abstract principles that no one really cares about.

But I also recognise that that can’t be all of it, or at least that it’s dangerous to be satisfied with that being all of it. Yes, we all use ideals to get what we want, but the whole point of ideals is that they stand on their own, even if every single person professing them is a hypocrite. That’s why people grab for them so eagerly, why they make for such a powerful cover for your own selfishness – they can’t be dismissed through finding fault with you personally. And therefore, while I feel absolutely comfortable dismissing people’s claims of idealism as self-serving lies… the ideals themselves still stand there waiting to be addressed.

So let’s take a whack at a popular one, then, the good old freedom of speech. Louts and bullies are fond of claiming to be motivated by a love for it, and are filling the air with so much toxicity that it’s getting hard to breathe. I doubt there has ever been a time when the principle of freedom of speech has been in more doubt, or for better reason. So should we have it, in my esteemed opinion? Would I give the Devil the benefit of law?

I should note first and foremost that feminists have already discovered what they consider the perfect response to More’s challenge: don’t cut down the laws, just add a paragraph to them specifying that they don’t apply to the Devil. Good people should be free to say whatever they want, and bad people should not be. It’s simple, elegant, and has no flaws as long as you accept the axiomatic beliefs that feminists always know the Devil when they see him and will never ever mistake an innocent person for the Devil.

As you may guess, I don’t think much of that solution. A law based on “I know it when I see it” is a law that is already lying flat on the ground. And hey, would you look at that, there just so happens to be a big orange Devil sitting in the White House at the moment! This may not be a coincidence. No, bugger the feminists and their sophistry. If we are to have freedom of speech, then it will have to cover even people who are, quite frankly, not worth listening to.

In fact, I’ll go a step further. If we are to have freedom of speech, then it will have to include to some extent the obligation to hear people out, no matter how odious they are. That obligation can’t be enforced in any reasonable way, of course, and so can’t be encoded into law, but it still needs to exist as part of the ideal. If the right to never hear anything that upsets you trumps freedom of speach, then you essentially have the freedom to say whatever you want as long as no one is listening, and there has yet to be a government oppressive enough to deny anyone that right. Just lock yourself in your closet and whisper what you have to say – Stalin himself would not have denied you that right, which means that it’s a pretty pointless right.

All right. So freedom of speech is the right to be listened to, at least to a point (once people have gotten the gist of your message, they should presumably be free to not have to hear all about the finer points). So why should we have that?

One reason is that our psychological well-being depends on feeling connected to the world around us. We all need to feel that our opinions matter; therefore, we need to be allowed to express them. That’s the fuzzy feel-good reason, the precious-snowflake reason. Everyone is soooooooo beautiful and special and important and must never be made to feel bad, so we have to be able to shout out whatever thought goes through our minds! Okay, I’m being sarcastic, but honestly, it’s a valid ethical consideration. A world where everyone who has The Wrong Opinion are silenced is a world which has decided, once and for all, that there is a right opinion and a wrong opinion, the right sort of people and the wrong sort of people. Even if we accepted that the people in charge (or more relevantly to our time, the formless mob of outraged people who have taken it upon themselves to police what gets said) had the ability to flawlessly determine good speech from bad speech, declaring some people to be non-people is a pretty horrible thing to do. And then there is of course the fact that I’m always going to end up sorted in among the bad people, if not immediately than sooner or later. I can vouch for that being very bad for my mental health.

I’m not convinced the world would be worse off if there was less of this going on…

On the other hand… what is actually worse for one’s mental health, being silenced or being subjected to the endless onslaught of verbal filth that results from an entire Internet of people puking out their very most disgusting thoughts around the clock? I don’t like being told that I’m a horrible person who should shut up, no, but I’m very slightly happier with that than having to listen to the average YouTube comment section. How much of the madness and misery of our time comes from everyone always having to hear about everyone else’s mindless hatred of all things all the time? Might it not be worth being silenced, if it meant getting to enjoy some silence?

I actually think so. My objection to “safespaces” and other liberal infringements on free speech, as far as mental health considerations go, is actually that they don’t go far enough. Men aren’t allowed to say they hate women – that’s good. Women are still allowed to say they hate men – that’s not. In this, I am actually in agreement with More that the Devil should have the benefit of law, I just think that the law should be different than it is. I feel that even the Devil should have his sensitive ears protected from criticism. The Devil may not hurt us, but we may also not hurt him – there should be less hurting all around. Feminists will of course shriek that they have to hurt the Devil, the Devil needs to be hurt, and my sympathy for the Devil means that I hate women and want them to get raped, WHY DO I WANT THEM TO GET RAPED WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME WHY AM I SO CRUUUUUEEEEEEELLL?!!!!! And I can tell you with absolute sincerity that I would take a vow of silence and never speak another word as long as I live, if it meant that I would never have to listen to that kind of hysterical, abusive, manipulative garbage ever again!

So I think that the sum of it is that on mental health grounds, I’m against free speech. In fact, I’m kind of in favour of freedom from speech. Too much speach is what’s driving everyone crazy right now!

But there is a wider context, beyond my eternal struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, my feelings and my struggles are super-important, but I am in fact capable of seeing further than the end of my nose, at least if I squint a little.

Because freedom of speech is also meant to enable communication. It’s meant to make sure that if something needs to be said, someone will say it. If someone tries to implement a dumb idea, people who can see how dumb the idea is need to be able to shout, “THIS IS A REALLY DUMB IDEA!” without being shut down because they’re hurting the dumb idea-holder’s feelings. Or for that matter, if someone has a good idea, it needs to be possible to spread it even if that is unpleasant for the people who prefer things the way they are and don’t want any new ideas getting spread around (the fact that I lead with the issue of dumb ideas and only mentioned the issue of good ideas as a half-hearted afterthought probably tells you all you need to know about how common I think either kind of idea is. Well, I already told you I was a cynic!). This is just how society is supposed to function.

Okay, but… right now, any good ideas are getting drowned out by the barrage of bad ideas being peddled by everyone and their grandmother, and so many people are screaming to high heavens about how any ideas that aren’t their ideas are dumb and will cause the end of the world as we know it. Communication is still not happening. Too many people talking all at once is just meaningless noise that transmits no information.

So it would seem that even when looking at it from a higher perspective, I still see no good reason to have widespread freedom of speech.

Here’s the problem, though – having decided we should not have free speech, how do we put that decision into practice? Who gets speak? Who gets to decide who gets to speak? Honestly, the only idea I can think of is to have only people speak about difficult topics who have the proper credentials, but the thing is… a highly credentialed professor just published an article in a major newspaper to the effect that men are awful and women should hate them. And then, when someone pointed out that, y’know, feminists have traditionally been very insistent that they totally don’t hate men, honest, just because they happen to feel horribly victimised by every single thing men do, think or say it doesn’t mean they hate them, perish the thought… she immediately stuck her nose in the air and huffed, “can you believe the nerve of that filthy MAN to contradict me? Doesn’t he realise that I’m a highly credentialed professor?!”

Yeah, let’s just say that my faith in the authorities to step in and make sure everyone is playing nice is at an all-time low. The authorities all seem to have headed to the sandbox to beat each other over the head with plastic buckets. I’d like some censorship, but there is absolutely no one I trust, at present, to do the actual censoring.

So my conclusion is going to have to be… we shouldn’t ideally have freedom of speech, but we have to have it anyway, because there is no reasonable way to not have it. Yay? I mean, I’d trade it in for something that worked better in a heartbeat, but nothing seems to be on offer. The kind of people who would decide what is and is not acceptable are entirely too prone to saying things that I consider to be quite unacceptable. I suppose that in a way, it’s the same principle that makes it easier to imagine injustice in your own favour than it is to imagine justice. I can’t imagine an authority that would allow only the right sort of speech, but I can at least imagine the possibility of the right sort of speach dominating if all forms of speach are allowed.

So, louts and bullies and sundry scum of the Earth, rejoice! I support your right to call me a beta faggot cuck because I have a minimum of taste and a modicum of human emotion. I also support my own right to tell you to go bugger yourselves. So go bugger yourselves.

Can’t even feel happy about Communism anymore…

communismApparently Communism is a thing again. Not in actual politics, maybe, but certainly as something you can publicly admit to being for and still be a respectable thinker. The Overton Window is moving. This should please me, considering my searing hatred of capitalism. Death to the decadent imperialist bourgeoisie pigdogs! Long live the revolution!

Okay, maybe that’s going a bit far. But I want to make this perfectly clear: I deeply despise capitalism. I don’t care how many apologies people make for it, there are at least four massive flaws to it.

Firstly, and probably least importantly but still enough to make me want it gone: it’s simply an immoral institution. It is revolting that some people have much more than others. I don’t care if they are “more productive” – I could accept giving a really good worker maybe twice as much of everything as a poor one, but the kind of differences we’re dealing with is often in the orders of magnitude. And don’t get me started on how often “productive” seems to mean “had the bright idea to tell a bunch of other people to do stuff that randomly turned out to be the kind of stuff some other idiots really wanted to buy.” That’s wrong in at least two ways, first in the fact that being the idea man is rewarded high above being the people who do the actual work, second in that what’s rewarded isn’t quality or utility but popularity. Whomever invented all those idiotic apps that it’s now all but mandatory to install in our equally mandatory cell phones don’t deserve a reward, he deserves a sound thrashing!

But let’s be real. No one actually cares about morals, not when it counts.

The second way that capitalism is bad is that it’s destroying the environment to the point where I’m not sure we could fix it even if we started this very moment. Capitalism is, in essence, what you get when you let everyone run around and do what falls natural to them. This means that, as much as I hate to admit it, it’s very good at making sure that a ton of stuff gets done. Maybe not the most useful stuff, but… stuff. Frantically doing lots of stuff in the hopes of getting a big reward is something that people are very good at, and capitalism works by giving them full freedom to do that.

You know what people aren’t good at? You know what doesn’t fall natural to them? Thinking ahead! Taking responsibility! So under capitalism, none of that gets done. The closest solution capitalism offers to the ravages of industry is that if corporations put a marker on their products that says they were produced in an environmentally conscious way, it will provide a competitive edge and make them more money and therefore they will. You know what else people aren’t good at? Verifying that what they are told is actually true! And for that matter, they’re not very good at grey areas, at wondering just what “environmentally conscious” means and how much it does or does not harm the environment and (a crucial point, here) whether all products being produced in a way that could charitably be described as “environmentally conscious” is actually enough to keep the polar ice caps from melting.

No, the environment is everyone’s problem, and therefore there’s just no way to deal with it except through collective and mandatory action. Capitalism does not offer that – indeed, it considers it to be entirely out of the question.

The third way that capitalism is bad is the one that’s closest to my heart, because it’s the one I suffer from personally – capitalism is horrible for the mental health of people who live under it. Even being a feudal serf is better for your soul than being a member of the modern-day precariat, because at least you know what you’re doing and that you’ll be doing the same thing tomorrow and that at the end of it there will be some food even if it will be crap food. This isn’t a ringing endorsement of serfdom, you understand, just a demonstration of just how low the bar is here. You wonder why everyone seems so crazy these days? You wonder why we’re having nervous breakdowns and heart attacks like it was going out of fashion? It’s because we have so much stupid stuff, but none of the stability and security that would let us actually enjoy it!

The fourth way that capitalism is bad is that it offers next to nothing for the genuinely weak (as opposed to the unfairly hamstrung – a category that people are entirely too fond of imagining themselves belonging to, if you ask me!). I am not such a die-hard commie that I’m going to claim that capitalism only serves the 1%; I admit that if you have marketable skills (a category that overlaps but is very much not the same thing as actually valuable skills – see above) then you will probably be able to make more money for yourself in a more capitalistic society than in a more socialistic one. But what about the sick, the disabled, the terminally unlucky? What about the simply incompetent? Capitalism has nothing to offer those except a vague shrug in the direction that if more wealth is produced, those fortunate enough to get some of it will have more money to give to beggars on the street. Slightly larger crumbs falling from the table – that’s the extent of what capitalism promises anyone who can’t live up to its standards.

When I dare to dream – which is rarely, these days – I hope against hope that society will gradually move in a direction of less but more stable productivity, of everyone being assured the bare essentials and also learning to make do with those bare essentials. I picture one industry after another being nationalised and made to run with reliable inefficiency, ensuring that everyone gets what they need even if it might take some time (actually, the Swedish public health care system is pretty much the living model of what I’m envisioning…). I have no illusions that it will be a worker’s paradise, I’m sure it will be a bumbling behemoth of a society ambling along, full of mistakes and shortages and silly people doing ridiculous things. In a way, that’s not a bug but a feature in my dream world – it will be inherently flawed because it does not require perfection, either of itself or of its citizens.

(proponents of capitalism love to point out that it has a proven record of lifting underdeveloped countries out of poverty. To this I say that that’s all very well and good, and be it far from me to tell people in underdeveloped countries that they shouldn’t grasp any tool needed to create for themselves a worthy life. If my choices were capitalism or extreme poverty, I would choose capitalism without a second thought. But I do not live in an underdeveloped country, and nor do most fervent capitalists that I hear from, so I do not see why we need to choose economic systems based on what produces the most wealth. When you have no wealth, doing so makes sense; when you actually have a lot of wealth, it’s time to optimise for equality and peace of mind instead)

You get the idea. I am no friend of capitalism. I am a proponent of eyes-wide-open socialism, with its flaws not just accepted but embraced. I should be pleased as punsch that Communism is in vogue again.

But of course it doesn’t work like that, because I never get to be happy about anything.

The problem with the new generation of godless commies is that they seem to be overlapping almost completely with the old generation of screeching feminists. You know, the hyperneurotypicals. The ones who consider every moment of weakness to be an act of deliberate sabotage, every slight difference of opinion to be the blackest of betrayals, and every sign of lacking enthusiasm to be a sure sign that you’re NOT A REAL TRUE MALE ALLY AND THEREFORE EXACTLY AS BAD AS THE WORST MISOGYNIST EVER!!!!

These are the exact wrong people to implement the kind of socialism I want. I want socialism because it’s inclusive and equal – under it, everyone gets exactly the same as everyone else, as long as they get in line and wait patiently. What you do or don’t deserve doesn’t enter into it. You don’t have to be perfect. You are entitled to have your basic needs met just by being alive. It’s a wide, sloppy circle that encompasses everyone, even the shiftiest and most unpleasant of people. That, to me, is the whole point. And now, I see the proponents of socialism be the kind of people who are infamous for constantly closing the circle tighter and tighter, adding more and more restrictions that everyone has to follow – because their every demand, no matter how outlandish it may seem to the untrained eye, is actually only “common decency,” and why would you object to being required to exercise common decency? It can only mean that you’re uncommonly indecent! Why should we let uncommonly indecent people into our utopia? Begone with you, only decent people are allowed here!

I would say that I shudder to imagine what sort of socialist state these people would build. But I don’t have to imagine, do I? I just have to open a history book. The old Communist regimes started exactly like this and were led by people who thought precisely like that. We all know how they turned out.

To be clear, I don’t think that it’s… probable that the current breed of neo-Marxists are going to be able to seize any real power for themselves. They are too disorganised, and too enamoured with their disorganisation – they don’t like leaders and hierarchies, they like mob rule, which they see as democracy in action. Well, mob rule can lead to a lot of unfortunate people getting strung up, but it doesn’t accomplish much in the long run. So I don’t think that the social justice warriors have what it takes to start up The Soviet Union II: Now With More Feminism, but every time I try to console myself with that thought I remember that Trump not only seemed, but still seem, too stupid and disgusting and generally worthless to accomplish anything, and guess who’s the most powerful man alive right now? Yeah… apparently worthless people can accomplish a lot more than you expect when they really put their minds to it.

But yeah, I would say the odds are against it. The real problem with socialism being appropriated by social justice warriors is that it means that socialism is going to get associated (even more than it already is) with social justice warriors. Everyone who isn’t a screeching lunatic (and quite a few that are, but who favours the opposite brand of screeching lunacy) is going to want nothing to do with my gentle, peaceful brand of socialism, because it will look too much like what the howler monkeys are demanding.

I used to think that the injury the social justice warriors did to the cause of economic sanity was to draw attention and energy away from it – by co-opting the liberal zeal raised by the Occupy movement and make it all about their genitals. But I still thought that perhaps while they were raging and screaming, some sane people could still slip some proper socialism in through the back door. I even saw socialism as a mercifully SJW-free part of politics, because why would the rainbow-haired egomaniacs want anything to do with boring old welfare when there were so many sexier and angstier issues that they could overreact to?

I stand corrected. Just letting it lay ignored was not the worst thing they could do to socialism. The worst thing they could do is what they’re doing – invading it, colonising it, and ruining it like they’ve ruined everything else.

Because I never get to be happy about anything.

My demands for feminism

I mean, is that so much to ask?

Warning: the following post is bitter, ranty and mean-spirited. Yes, even more than usual. I’m in a bitter, ranty and mean-spirited mood. YES, even more than usual!

So, having established what is to come, let me get right to it by saying: I hereby demand the unconditional surrender of feminism!

Yeah, I know, fat chance. But if I were to politely ask for feminism to maybe possibly consider not being so mean to me all the time, what would you say to that? Also fat chance, yes? So I might as well go big.

Therefore, here is my list of completely reasonable demands that feminism must comply to, or else I shall be forced to… make a few more terribly eloquent blog posts that no one reads. Tremble before me, feminists!


1. Apologise to all the straight white men of the world. And I mean a real apology, not a non-apology along the lines of, “sorry that our righteous struggle for equality inconvenienced you.” No, you eat some serious crow and admit that you’ve said a thousand thousand horribly offensive things to straight white men and then doubled down by telling them they weren’t allowed to be offended, all because it was so all-fired important for you to get your stupid catharsis. Admit that you were horribly and inexcusably wrong to do that, and maybe, just maybe, it will restore to sanity some of the men you’ve driven to vote for orange troglodytes.

2. Admit the real reasons there’s still not gender parity in the halls of power. Stop blaming it on evil men who constantly scheme to keep you out. Even if they wanted to, they wouldn’t have to, because your stupid hormones keep sending you running home to those children you insist on having even though you shouldn’t. (and men’s stupid hormones keep sending them off to grub for more power and respect, which isn’t really any better, but is very useful for making sure the highest seat keep getting burdened with dangly bits) If we’re going to solve this, then it’s not going to be by shaming men some more, it’s going to be by a combination of forcing men to forego their hormonal advantages (by actively forbidding them to be at work all the time, whether they have families or not and whether they want to see them or not) and by teaching people to actually behave like sentient beings and defy their hormones from time to time.

(full disclosure: a rare few feminists actually do this. I acknowledge that. I just don’t accept that those are the Real True Feminists and I should ignore the other 99.99% of feminists who claim that it’s all due to MISOGYNY!!!!!!!! as being just a few bad apples. A few feminists are way ahead of me, great. I still demand that the vast majority of them catch up)

3. Put nerds back on the list of victimised groups. Yes, I know that nerds are terrible. No, I don’t like them much either. You’re still going to treat them like you do any other minority group, which is to say, absolutely forbid anyone to say anything mean about them ever. You do it for Muslims, and surely, surely you are not going to tell me that nerds sending death threats to journalists who have said things they don’t like is worse than Muslims sending death threats to journalists who have said things they don’t like? In fact, most groups of people are pretty awful, but that doesn’t give you the right to declare open season on them. No, not even if you really, really want to and it would feel really, really good!

No, saying that you “only hate the bad ones” isn’t going to cut it either. Come on, you know this stuff! Would you accept someone saying he only hated bad Muslims? Of course not, because that’s an obvious hedge and he’s going to get back to hating on all Muslims the moment you turn your back! Jesus, how is it possible for you to have such a hyper-awareness of rhetorical cheats that your opponents resort to and still be blithely unaware of the fact that you use the exact same ones?

A universal ban on nerd-bashing. I’m serious.

4. Shut up about your hurt feelings. Look, I get it. The world isn’t showing you any respect, and that makes you feel bad. Guess what, the world isn’t showing me any respect either. You know who gets showed respect? People who can make other people’s lives miserable if they feel slighted! Anyone who can stab me or fire me is named “sir”; anyone who can’t is named “fuck off, dipshit, I don’t owe you anything.” That’s the way of the world, and it’s a bad way for the world to be in, and under other circumstances I might have joined you in trying to change it. But you have weaponised your hurt feelings entirely too often, and always, always against people like me, who have some empathy and morals, because hurt feelings don’t work on the louts who you should actually be attacking.

So for the time being, you don’t get to have feelings anymore. You need to convince me that you’re an unfeeling robot. I’ll tell you when you’re allowed to feel things again!

Until then, if you want my help with something, the correct way to ask is, “beebeep! Projections show an estimated 62.8% improvement in psychological health in women between the ages of 24 and 37 if we implement universal tax-paid communal daycare! Beebeep!” Because that’s the approach that you haven’t effectively trained me to ignore simply to protect my sanity. Do not, I repeat, not try to get my help by going, “REEEEEEEEEEE TRUMP IS LITERALLY RAPING MY BY REFUSING TO PAY FOR MY TAMPONS REEEEEE RAPE RAPE RAPE RAPE DID I MENTION RAPE REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!” Because if you do that, any energy I could have spent actually helping you is going to be spent resisting the urge to do the exactly opposite thing to what you’re demanding, just to spite you!

5. Stop complaining about microaggressions. In fact, banish that term from your vocabulary. And no, you can’t replace it with another one either – unlike what I’ve seen feminists consider, it’s not the term itself that turns people off, it’s the idea behind it. Being disrespected and ignored in trivial ways is not an attack on you, it’s life. Other people don’t have the time, the energy or the cognitive capacity to always respect and pay attention to you.

Any aggression that is small enough to be called “micro” is one that should be forgiven and ignored in the name of social harmony. And if you don’t think so, you might consider how much obnoxious crap you get up to that you don’t get called on because the people around you are actually civilised.

6. Admit that there is no such things as mansplaining. Men don’t think they’re right and you’re wrong because they’re men and you’re women. They think they’re right and you’re wrong because where there is a difference of opinion, someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong, and shockingly enough they think that their opinion is the right one. That’s why they have it as their opinion! If you can’t stand honest disagreement without feeling bullied, then you need to go to therapy to deal with your abysmal self-esteem and irrational fear and hatred of men.

And don’t get me started on nerdy guys correcting you! Yes, I know it’s annoying, but it’s not some sort of twisted display of dominance – or if it is, it’s one that nerds routinely and instinctively perform on each other all the time. Nerds hoard knowledge and demonstrate their personal worth by displaying it. It’s what they do. If you can’t stand anal-retentive people correcting you whenever you say something that isn’t 100% correct, then I have every sympathy for you, but for the love of God, stop claiming it’s an attack on your vagina! NOT EVERYTHING THAT’S ANNOYING IS AN ATTACK ON YOUR VAGINA!

7. Admit that things can be feminist without being good. I actually think that most things that are feminist aren’t very good, but I’m willing to be reasonable even when I’m explicitly being unreasonable – I don’t require you to abandon your entire philosophy just like that. But you do need to admit that every philosophy has flaws and traps and dead ends baked into it. And you absolutely need to realise that when people hate feminism, it’s not because they hate goodness and light and love, it’s because they have run afoul of feminism’s flaws and developed a perfectly justified antipathy towards it. That doesn’t mean that you need to treat their insults as well-founded criticism worthy of a rebuttal (“feminism is cancer!!!” is not “criticism,” no matter what some people would claim), but you do need to acknowledge that they’re entitled to their opinion and that they probably came by it honestly.

Oh, and stop claiming that anything you don’t like is “not true feminism.” Feminism is anything anyone gets it into her head to say in the name of feminism. That woman screeching on her blog about how any interracial marriage is per definition abusive? Yeah, she started from the same point as you did, and she came to those conclusions. This should worry you. The more people you see reaching batshit crazy destinations from the feminist starting point, the more you should be questioning whether the feminist starting point might be inherently flawed.

Short version? Cease clutching feminism like a security blanket and insisting that it will protect you from all harm! If it’s really there to be a political movement and not just to make you feel warm and fuzzy, then it needs to be constantly poked and prodded and examined for flaws, because you’re really going to want to find them before you encode them into law!

8. Admit that things can be good without being feminist. Or in other words, cut it out with the intersectionality. It was a good idea, but it took all of two seconds for it to mutate into some sort of progressive power grab whereby feminism claimed that from now on it was going to handle all forms of inequality and any work in any area that left-wing politics have ever been concerned with was going to have to go through it. In the order of how important feminists considered each one to be, of course – because why shouldn’t able-bodied middle-class women know best about how much help poor and disabled people needed?

No, what intersectionality has become is just another way that pampered middle-class women use politics to soothe their own insecurities. And while I’m not entirely against that, one, my own insecurities could use some soothing too and right now they’re not getting any because they always have to give way before women’s insecurities. And two, while you’re fighting your symbolic battles and yelling “MY VAGINA IS AWESOME!!!” as loudly as possible in the hopes that one day you’ll manage to believe it, there are actual issues facing the most vulnerable people in our society that go ignored and unaddressed because you’re always, ALWAYS hogging that damn spotlight.

You’re entitled to have your own interests raised, Heaven knows, but please, please, please realise that there are other interests that are equally valid and which don’t stop being valid because you don’t care about them or even because they might run contrary to yours at times. It’s not always about you. Realise that already!

9. Shut up about your stupid periods. Seriously, give it a rest. The reason no one wants to hear about your stupid periods isn’t because they’re a glorious, magical part of Womanhood that is being cruelly and unfairly erased and vilified by evil men. It’s because it’s blood coming from a nether orifice. It’s gross. Bodies do many gross things, and in polite society we do each other the courtesy to not talk about them. Why is this so hard for you to understand? I mean, there is a similar stigma against telling people about your latest bowel movement, and you manage to put up with that without crying oppression.

Oh, and let’s add breast feeding to the list, since we’re talking about gross things that our bodies do. Don’t yank your tits out in public and expect everyone to be fine with you exposing yourself. If you insist on having kids – which you shouldn’t – then raise them on formula like a normal person!

I realise of course that your body does slightly more gross things than my body does (just slightly, though. There are things going on around my scrotum that you really don’t want to know anything about, trust me!), and that this means more work for you. This is unfair. Do you know what else it is? NOT MY FAULT AND NOT MY PROBLEM.

10. Just stop wearing makeup if it bothers you so much. And stop shaving. Grow out that armpit hair! Grow it long, and grow it thick! Stop showering! Wear ugly, comfortable clothes! Buzzcut your hair! (the one on your head) Munch donuts until you gain fifty pounds! No, really, I insist! Ignore your appearance completely and tell any man who complains that he’s a shallow bastard who needs to shut up – in fact, tell him I said to tell him so, and that he can take it up with me if he’s got a problem with it!

And once you look like a regular human being, stick with it. Normalise it. Hey, I’m doing my part to lower expectations for manhood by being lazy and unaccomplished – you can do yours to lower expectations for womanhood by looking ugly! If we just keep at it for long enough to make everyone get used to it as the new normal, we might actually get a world where people get to look like themselves and do what they want, instead of acting out this ridiculous gender performance.

And when you fail at complying with this demand for more than two seconds – and you will – stop blaming me for it. When you cave at the first sound of a “hey, you look kind of tired, are you okay?” and run screaming back to the bathroom to slather on a few inches of mascara because HORROR OF HORRORS, someone didn’t think you looked absolutely divine… when you do that, admit once and for all that you’re doing it because you’re vain and shallow and have a neurotic need to look prettier than everyone else, not because I’m in any way making you do it.

11. Admit that women have flaws. This is just a demand for equal treatment, the thing you claim to be all about. Men have flaws, tons of them. They are documented in loving detail in our culture and our conventional wisdom. (normally I would here give you some examples of men being horrible in uniquely masculine ways, but bugger it, I’m too angry and fed up right now. If you want to know what I think about men of various sorts, you can find a number of rants elsewhere on this blog where I don’t mince words in expressing those views) Aside from some MRAs, you won’t even find many men who’ll deny them – oh, they don’t have any intention of fixing them, no, but they’ll happily admit that they behave badly and intend to continue behaving badly.

But women have their own laundry list of defects. The vanity, as mentioned in the last point. The obsessing, the nitpicking and the perfectionism. The tendency to think several mutually exclusive things at once and then demand that others agree with every single one of them. And above all, the relentless, unyielding demand to be seen as perfect and immaculate at all times. The rest of the flaws you can keep as long as you agree to own them, because again, it’s not like men are in any hurry to fix their own flaws – but this ironclad refusal to admit fault has got to go!

Men suck. Women suck also. It’s one thing we have in common. Stop pushing us further apart by claiming to be some sort of unerring superhumans.


And finally, the most important demand of all, the one I will insist on even if I have to back off on all the others (well, technically, I’ll have to back off on all of them, because no one cares what I’m demanding, but you know what I mean):

12. If you do have to wage war on the whole world, at least keep me out of it. I haven’t done anything wrong and I don’t owe you anything. You have zero moral right to so much as look at me funny. You want me to help you with your problems? Ask nicely, and respect my absolute right to say no and still be a wonderful person. I owe you nothing. If you want me to owe you something, you need to actually do something for me first. If you want me to show you altruism, show some sign that you are even capable of the same – that you even understand that “altruism” doesn’t mean “people giving ME all the many things I deserve!”

I matter as much as you. I demand that you force that fact through your thick head. Until you do, we have nothing to talk about.

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want

There is a fundamental hypocrisy in what I write here. This is something I recognise and accept. Like I have said before, this blog is my version of feminism – it’s a place where I can air all my grievances, where I don’t have to compromise, where I can just declare to all the world who I am and that I am proud of being who I am. As such, it is a counterbalance to the dominant narratives, but ultimately no better than them – here, I care only about me and my values, just like feminists and MRAs and screechy self-proclaimed champions of free speech care only about themselves and their values.

I don’t apologise for that. I am aware that making blanket statements and decrying large swaths of people as “louts” or “brutes” or “whiners” or “hypocrites” is not polite. Well, tough. This is my place for not being polite. This is where I say how the world looks to me.

But if you offered me everything I demand here, if you told me that I could get a world where I was worshipped and cared for the way I want to be… then I would like to think that I would have the integrity to say no. Because a world like that would be an abomination. It would have to be, because there’s no way for me to get everything I want without robbing everyone else. It’d be a world where everyone else were beaten into the ground to spare my precious skin from so much as the slightest rough touch. It would be a world where everyone was silenced to protect the sanctity of my ears. And that is wrong, so wrong that I squirm at the very thought of it.

No, that world is just the one my feelings want. The world my intellect wants is simply one of equality and equal consideration. In that world, everyone would get their chance to speak, without being shouted down, no matter how little anyone else wanted to hear what they had to say. In that world, we would all have to make compromises. In that world, everyone would matter – including you. Civility would be a virtue, but so would tolerance for a certain amount of incivility. Equality would be a virtue, but so would the acknowledgement of the fact that some people just end up slightly higher than others and there’s no sane way of preventing it.

I think that in the end, it comes down to this: what I ask for, when I am being reasonable, is not to get everything I want. It is to have my right to want it recognised. It’s not to have everyone fall over themselves to keep me from feeling pain, it is to have everyone admit that my pain is valid and significant.

I want to hear, I’m sorry, but you can’t have that – not you’re a terrible person for wanting that!!!!

I want to hear, I know this isn’t fair to you, but I’m afraid you’ll have to bear it because the alternative would be even less fair to someone else – not this is exactly the way things are supposed to be and you’re not allowed to be hurt by it!!!

I want everyone to be recognised as people. Yes, even the louts. Louts are people too. I want them to have the right not to be called louts. Calling them louts isn’t going to make them any less loutish. Dismissing them as worthless may be a necessary personal survival tactic to keep from having their brutish opinions crush you; but it’s a terrible idea when you actually have to deal with them, because it means that you’ve eliminated all possibility for dialogue and compromise.

That’s what I want… when I’m being rational. There’s just a limit to how often I can stand to be rational. In fact, before I started this blog, I actually considered starting one where I would set an example as a neutral and objective party and argue for everyone’s right to their own little part of the world. And I managed to stick to that for about one and a half post drafts before I found myself ranting about the evils of feminism. So I scrapped that idea and later went on to start this blog, where I am at least upfront about the fact that I’m going to be spending a lot of the time ranting about the evils of feminism. (though I would argue that I do in fact stand for equality here – that is, I try to insult everyone in the world pretty much equally!)

You know what the funny thing is, though? I think that dreaming about a world where everyone gets their fair share actually takes more hope than dreaming about a world where you get everything you want. And that makes no sense. I mean, everyone getting along is pretty far-fetched, but it’s surely less far-fetched than my every self-indulgent little fantasy coming true. At least there is a good reason why anyone but me would sign off on a world of everyone getting their fair share – it would mean that they’d get their fair share! Whereas the benefits of signing up to love and worship me unconditionally are a bit harder to make out, even for me.

And yet. Dreaming about a world where I’m seen for the wonder I am (thanks, Scar) takes a certain amount of effort for me to get past the reflexive “aw, who am I kidding, that’d never happen” response of my brain. But dreaming about a world where I was given no special place, but just treated with dignity takes even more effort. My best guess is that it’s about incentive. Complete self-indulgence gives you more than measured realism, unless the measured realism can offer up the added incentive of actually being achievable.

I think this is an important thing to notice. Back when I was a crusty atheist, I used to say that Heaven was something you believed in when you had given up on having a good life right here and now. A scrap of something real outweighs a mountain of fantasy. But if you can’t get so much as a scrap of something real, then you might as well pile that mountain as ridiculously high as possible. When all you can do is dream, why settle for dreaming about just moderate happiness?

I think it’s the same with fantasies that you admit to yourself are fantasies. If you’re hungry and you know that it’s just an hour until lunch, you daydream about the meat and potatoes you’re going to be eating then. If you’re hungry and you don’t know when you’ll get some food next, you conjure up visions of lavish feasts the likes of which most people never see in their lives. And then some snotty bastard comes along and calls you entitled for thinking you deserve all that fine food, which is entirely missing the point – you’d settle for the potatoes if you thought you had a reasonable chance to get the potatoes, but if you’re pretty sure that you’re going to get nothing either way, you might as well go big.

You could put it like this, I suppose: once you reach a certain point of arbitrary social inequality, it becomes easier to imagine that the world could be unfair in your favour than to imagine that the world could be fair. If people are getting what they don’t deserve all over the place, it’s easier to picture yourself becoming one of those people.

Or in other words:

As always, Calvin asks the eternal questions.

Which is, admittedly, a lament that few people will find particularly sympathetic. Case in points, those damn incels: “okay, maybe I don’t deserve a girlfriend, but a lot of guys who deserve one even less than I have one! Why am I the only one who doesn’t get stuff I don’t deserve?!” is a perfectly natural thing to feel, but it doesn’t have much moral weight.

By this line of thinking, we should show kindness and tolerance to people who seem unreasonable, because they’re actually just suffering from despair. The problem with that reasoning is that while I firmly believe that most unreasonable people do indeed start out that way, once they become unreasonable they seem to find it impossible to go back.

Case in point, the unforgivable fact that feminist games journalists slammed Life is Strange for being Problematic. I completely, totally, one hundred percent understand wanting more diversity and sensitive handling of difficult topics in video games. And, as I have taken pains to explain now, I also completely relate to dreaming ridiculously demanding dreams about supreme, perfect, top-grade liberalism in games, since you get so little of it in most games that you have to console yourself with dreaming. But in the world of me, the time for dreaming stops when you get something concrete in your hands. When you actually get what you want, the correct response is, “oh praise the skies! Oh, thank the gods! Finally, my wishes have come true!” The correct response is not to turn up your nose and sniff and scoff and start finding fault with it, but that is nonetheless what the feminist games journalists did, and that is why they are and will always be the worst.

I, I am proud to say, am nothing like that. I whine a lot, yes. I make ridiculously overblown demands. But if you want to shut me up, it’s very simple – just give me a bit of what I want. If I actually got my fair share, or even part of my fair share, you would not hear a peep from me from that point on! Just make some room for me in the real world, and I would abandon the lala land I currently inhabit in no time flat.

But I don’t see that happening any time soon. So I’m going to keep complaining and demanding that people worship the ground I walk. Deal with it.

Is there enough to go around?

The best definition of right-wing and left-wing I’ve ever heard comes from Scott Alexander, who is prone to such moments of brilliance (as well as more common moments of being a neurotic lout-apologist with an overblown idea of the importance of the pseudo-cult he’s part of, but we all have our flaws, except me of course): left-wing politics are based on the idea that our society is strong and can afford to do the right thing. Right-wing politics is based on the idea that our society is weak and needs to do whatever it takes to survive.

Or to put it another way, the fundamental question of politics is: “is there enough to go around?” The more your answer tends towards “yes,” the further left you are; the more it tends towards “no,” the further right you are.

aa character
The official conservative case against welfare never sounded convincing to me, somehow…

In actual politics-politics – the kind you vote on and that has actual real-life consequences – it’s about money. We want a lot of stuff – care for the sick, housing for the homeless, food for the starving – but can we pay for all of it? A related question tends to be: if we can’t, can we squeeze the rich bastards for enough to cover the difference without it causing the downfall of civilisation? (I tend to strongly suspect that the answer to that question is usually “yes,” but don’t quote me on that) Conservatives tend to also try to argue that even if we could afford all that stuff, we shouldn’t get it, because, er, suffering builds character, and stuff! But I don’t think anyone would be convinced by that argument if they didn’t worry about the whole downfall-of-civilisation part – let’s face it, most people out there have absolutely zero character, and they seem to get by anyway. This kind of politics really just comes down to a heated argument about budgeting. If we can’t afford all the things we want (and even I admit that we probably can’t), how much can we afford? Of the things we could conceivably afford some of, which ones should have the higher priority?

In identity politics, it’s a bit trickier.

The whole issue of identity politics is a bit messed up to start with. After all, what it’s about isn’t actually politics in the classical sense, but morality and cultural standards, which are never really decided upon but just sort of emerge from a sort of vague averaging-out of each individual person’s convoluted beliefs and habits. Identity politics is about what individuals ought to do, how they should interact, what they should admit to thinking. You can’t put that sort of thing into dollars and cents.

I would argue that it nonetheless comes down to the same question. Is there enough to go around? If there isn’t, what can we afford?

The thing is, we would each of us like to be treated with the utmost kindness and concern. (well, except for those who actually enjoy it when people are mean to them because it gives them an excuse to be even meaner back, but let’s ignore them for now – I like to believe that they are a minority) We would like people to spend as much time as necessary puzzling out what we want, and then taking care to give it to us. We want to be understood, we want to be ourselves and be seen as who we are, and we want to be catered to – and what’s more, we want to be enabled to do all the things we want to do that involve other people.

Those things don’t cost money. But they cost time and energy from everyone around us. Every moment someone is thinking about how to anticipate your needs, she isn’t thinking about how to anticipate someone else’s – and she certainly isn’t thinking about her own problems and concerns. Being nice takes effort, because it often means being inauthentic – to not say what you’re thinking, to listen to things you don’t want to hear. Seeing someone else as they desire to be seen means overruling your own instincts and intuitions. And enabling people, well, that’s a full-time job!

And this is the part where you expect me to say that the right wants everyone to be a soulless sociopath and the left wants everyone to completely sublimate their own desires to care about everyone but themselves, but actually, just this once I don’t feel like painting with strokes quite that broad. From where I’m standing, there are in fact three groups on the issue of identity politics:

  1. The louts who, yes, want everyone to be a soulless sociopath. Oh, they call it “freedom of speech,” but what it comes down to is that we absolutely can’t afford to be even the tiniest little bit nice to each other. It has to be non-stop yelling of insults! ANYTHING ELSE IS SLAVERY!
  2. The feminists who want people to sublimate their own desires to care about women and minorities. However, women are encouraged to be soulless sociopaths, and men are allowed to save up some emotional energy to spend on women by being soulless sociopaths towards other men. With male minorities it’s a bit more complicated – they tend to be given permission to be soulless sociopaths to the extent that their position in the hierarchy of oppression justifies it. Or, to be even less charitable, they are encouraged to be soulless sociopaths except when it in any way, shape or form inconveniences women, at which point they are taken to task for not being one hundred percent caring and selfless. (actually, when I put it like that, I’m almost grateful that I’m so straight and white and male – it must be terribly confusing trying to figure out when you’re a poor abused woobie and when you’re Satan himself. At least I have the benefit of knowing with comforting certainty that I’m all Satan, all the time)
  3. The pathetic man-children who used to be on the feminists’ side before the feminists decided that they were no longer convenient to have as allies. They tend to buddy up with the louts, these days, for lack of other options, but their ideals are pretty much feminism only in reverse – women and minorities need to suck it up, everyone should always care about and cater to the nerdy white guys. They tend to whine a lot about how they’re the real feminists and that the feminists have lost their way – the second part is of course entirely true, but what they mostly seem to mean is, “hey! I used to pay shallow lip service to making things better for women and you said that made me a feminist! NO BACKSIES DAMN IT!!!”

And if you here point out that I look like I would fit right in with the third group, I can only say… well… yeah. Sort of. Certainly, of the three, it’s the one whose situation most resembles my own. On the other hand, my mindset is more conservative (as I have noted before, I’m a coward, just like the conservatives! I just draw different conclusions from my cowardice than they do), and my actual opinion on politics (the non-identity kind, as described above) are actually broadly in line with the liberals/feminists. All in all, I claim to stand in a class of my own, partly for that reason, but mostly for another one: I don’t think either of the two latter-day heirs to early-aughts liberalism has realised just why things went wrong.

And what went wrong was that we honestly believed that when it came to personal behaviour, the answer to the fundamental political question was an unqualified “yes”: it was possible for everyone to get as much caring and respect as they wanted, no need to put limits to it at all. We answered the question “how much of what we want can we afford?” with “all of it!” And I’d like to say that I knew it couldn’t end well, but no, I was of a mind with the rest of them, back then. And I make no apologies for that, either. From what we knew back then, it wasn’t implausible.

What tripped us up? Human nature. We thought we could give everyone all they wanted, because we couldn’t imagine just how much everyone would turn out to want, once they properly got used to the idea that they deserved all of it. We honestly believed people were capable of reasonably estimating their genuine need – that when asked to rate their level of suffering on a scale of 1 to 10, most people would give themselves a 3 or 4, those who were a bit beaten down but still capable of standing on their own would report a 6 or 7, and only the most tragic cases would report a 10. And for a while, it actually seemed to be working out precisely like that. But over time, those 6s and 7s crept closer and closer to 10s, and when the 3s and 4s realised that they immediately started clamouring that NUH-UH, they were totally the REAL 10s!!! And now we have 10s everywhere, except for a few man-feminists and woman-MRAs who report 1s no matter what, just to spite the woman-feminists and man-MRAs, respectively.

(for the record, I’d consider myself a 6 – maybe a 5, when my depression is especially well under control. I’m in more pain than most, but I’m perfectly willing to admit that there are many, many people who have it worse than I do. I have a job that pays the bills without being actively painful, for one thing, and that’s a pretty big deal, and far less common than it should be. What I absolutely and categorically deny, however, is that the majority of middle-class able-bodied women have it worse than I do)

The feminists still want to feel comfortable and powerful all the time, because that’s what they were promised. The man-children still want to have all their boo-boos kissed better in return for a few symbolic feminist noises, because that’s what they were promised. And neither side ever stops to think that hey, maybe the problem was that we promised each other too much! Neither side could deliver on their extravagant promises if they wanted to, because they made them before they realised just how expensive it would be – just how difficult it is to make feminists feel comfortable and powerful (because women who are inclined to feel comfortable and powerful don’t become feminists in the first place), just how many boo-boos man-children acquire.

You want to scoff at those incel twits for thinking the world owes them a girlfriend? Well, you should – but all their bizarre, toxic theology is just dross that has accumulated over the course of the decades over the core idea that if you wanted something, other people had an obligation to provide it. That other people could easily afford to provide it, and if they didn’t, they were being lazy and cruel. The idea that women are obligated to sleep with lonely men makes perfect sense as long as you imagine that there is an infinity of emotional resources out there, enough for everyone to dip into endlessly, without ever running out. And that’s absolutely idiotic, but it’s also what everyone who is either on the left or on the right but claiming to be the “real” left seems to imagine.

Case in point, the way feminists treat autistic men. (no, I’m not in fact planning on ever getting over that, thank you for asking. My last words are going to be “in – an – ELEVATOR!!!” and I wish anyone present at the time much fun trying to figure out what that was all about. Some outrages run to deep to ever forgive, especially when absolutely no one is the least bit sorry for them) The feminists think about themselves and their needs, about how they need everything to go smoothly and flawlessly and without any uncomfortable interactions with well-meaning but clueless guys – and it never occurs to them, even once, that those guys might be struggling, might be in pain, might be trying with everything they’ve got to be real and normal and healthy. It never occurs to them that even if they feel short on emotional resources at the moment, those men probably have even less, so in that situation it’s up to them to share what they have even if it’s no more than it takes to say “thanks, but no thanks” and then not make a big issue of it.

No, the feminists see an interchangeable horde of Straight White Men who have all the time and energy in the world that they are selfishly hoarding when they should rightly be handing it over. Just like the incels never consider that perhaps a woman has enough trouble feeling comfortable with her body without turning into some sort of twisted pity-prostitute.

“Is there enough to go around?”

No. It’s sad, but… no. There isn’t enough to go around. Not when people are capable of this kind of greed. So we need some kind of system of rationing. We need a consensus on what we do and do not owe each other, because when you leave it to people to decide for themselves how much they need, they invariably decide that they need all of it, every last bit, and that they are themselves too poor to give so much as a scrap in return.

I believe, very firmly, that it’s possible to do this. If we want to, we can resurrect the idea of basic human dignity, of decorum, of civility – and perhaps also of genuine kindness, while we’re at it, as opposed to the “you have to be nice to women no matter how horrible they are OR ELSE THE MISOGYNISTS WIN!!!!” substitute that you get these days. The problem is, for that to happen someone has to start being civil and (and this is the key) continue being civil even in the face of constant and all-encompassing incivility until it starts catching on, and I have no idea who that’s going to be. The feminists? Don’t make me laugh, their idea of civility is talking in a soft voice while explaining how horrible I am. The whiny man-children? Don’t make me laugh even harder. They’re every bit as egocentric as the feminists and twice as dumb. There’s not going to be any resurgence of decorum from people whose rallying cry is, “buuuut, muh boooooooobiiiiiiieeees…

Yes, I can’t find any reasons to feel hopeful. The left is a mess, and there’s no signs as to when it will stop being a mess.