"politics are personal"....

Anaesthesine

Angel of Distemper
You still don't get it, and expanding the definition of "feminism" in order to make more people more comfortable with it, isn't going to make people like me get on board. Yes, Wangari Maathai did great things, and the fact that I'm not a feminist won't tarnish her legacy at all! Not even a little! But I reject the idea that now anybody who wants a better world has to say they're a feminist. Because in practice, and I've seen it, it's not about letting women make their own choices, or making sure both sexes have equal status as human beings. It's about coercing people, especially women, into making the choices that powerful women want them to make, and that's very different. I also question whether feminism has been ultimately good or bad for children, especially in the US. Feminism: quo bene?

I am not expanding the definition of feminism. Feminism is a broad philosophical as well as a socio-political response to a cultural imbalance that is detrimental not only to women, but society as a whole. Wangar Maathai was practicing feminism as it was originally intended to be practiced. Feminism is not about coercion, it is about owning one's destiny, about standing on equal footing and being afforded equal opportunity. Every movement has its pitfalls and, to quote Bertrand Russel, "all movements go too far," but to dismiss feminism for its flaws is to turn one's back on a significant social revolution that is ongoing, and whose impact goes far beyond the often petty stereotypes that have evolved over the years in response to its success.

Mary Wollstonecraft wrote the following in her manifesto "On the Vindication of the Rights of Women" of 1792. It is a proto-feminist essay, but it illustrates the philosophy behind gender equality. It was written in response to the prevailing 18th century notion that women should not be educated, because they are incapable of rational thought. Although Wollstonecraft's work is marred by some of the conventions of her time, it presents a very compelling argument that the education of women would lead to a complete realignment of society and humankind as a whole. As you can see, the role of mother was neither denigrated or dismissed:


"I am aware that this argument would carry me further than it may be supposed I wish to go; but I follow truth, and, still adhering to my first position, I will allow that bodily strength seems to give man a natural superiority over woman; and this is the only solid basis on which the superiority of the sex can be built. But I still insist, that not only the virtue, but the knowledge of the two sexes should be the same in nature, if not in degree, and that women, considered not only as moral, but rational creatures, ought to endeavour to acquire human virtues (or perfections) by the same means as men, instead of being educated like a fanciful kind of half being—one of Rousseau's wild chimeras.

Women, as well as despots, have now, perhaps, more power than they would have if the world, divided and subdivided into kingdoms and families, was governed by laws deduced from the exercise of reason; but in obtaining it, to carry on the comparison, their character is degraded, and licentiousness spread through the whole aggregate of society. The many become pedestal to the few. I, therefore, will venture to assert, that till women are more rationally educated, the progress of human virtue and improvement in knowledge must receive continual checks. And if it be granted that woman was not created merely to gratify the appetite of man, nor to be the upper servant, who provides his meals and takes care of his linen, it must follow, that the first care of those mothers or fathers, who really attend to the education of females, should be, if not to strengthen the body, at least, not to destroy the constitution by mistaken notions of beauty and female excellence; nor should girls ever be allowed to imbibe the pernicious notion that a defect can, by any chemical process of reasoning, become an excellence. In this respect, I am happy to find, that the author of one of the most instructive books, that our country has produced for children, coincides with me in opinion; I shall quote his pertinent remarks to give the force of his respectable authority to reason."


I do not want to make you a feminist - if that goes against your grain, so be it. But I do want to defend feminism against all the petty tropes that have arisen out of the relative success of the movement. Agere sequitur credere: we act on what we believe to be true.
 

Black Cloud

Case Sensitive
I am not expanding the definition of feminism. Feminism is a broad philosophical as well as a socio-political response to a cultural imbalance that is detrimental not only to women, but society as a whole. Wangar Maathai was practicing feminism as it was originally intended to be practiced. Feminism is not about coercion, it is about owning one's destiny, about standing on equal footing and being afforded equal opportunity. Every movement has its pitfalls and, to quote Bertrand Russel, "all movements go too far," but to dismiss feminism for its flaws is to turn one's back on a significant social revolution that is ongoing, and whose impact goes far beyond the often petty stereotypes that have evolved over the years in response to its success.

Mary Wollstonecraft wrote the following in her manifesto "On the Vindication of the Rights of Women" of 1792. It is a proto-feminist essay, but it illustrates the philosophy behind gender equality. It was written in response to the prevailing 18th century notion that women should not be educated, because they are incapable of rational thought. Although Wollstonecraft's work is marred by some of the conventions of her time, it presents a very compelling argument that the education of women would lead to a complete realignment of society and humankind as a whole. As you can see, the role of mother was neither denigrated or dismissed:


"I am aware that this argument would carry me further than it may be supposed I wish to go; but I follow truth, and, still adhering to my first position, I will allow that bodily strength seems to give man a natural superiority over woman; and this is the only solid basis on which the superiority of the sex can be built. But I still insist, that not only the virtue, but the knowledge of the two sexes should be the same in nature, if not in degree, and that women, considered not only as moral, but rational creatures, ought to endeavour to acquire human virtues (or perfections) by the same means as men, instead of being educated like a fanciful kind of half being—one of Rousseau's wild chimeras.

Women, as well as despots, have now, perhaps, more power than they would have if the world, divided and subdivided into kingdoms and families, was governed by laws deduced from the exercise of reason; but in obtaining it, to carry on the comparison, their character is degraded, and licentiousness spread through the whole aggregate of society. The many become pedestal to the few. I, therefore, will venture to assert, that till women are more rationally educated, the progress of human virtue and improvement in knowledge must receive continual checks. And if it be granted that woman was not created merely to gratify the appetite of man, nor to be the upper servant, who provides his meals and takes care of his linen, it must follow, that the first care of those mothers or fathers, who really attend to the education of females, should be, if not to strengthen the body, at least, not to destroy the constitution by mistaken notions of beauty and female excellence; nor should girls ever be allowed to imbibe the pernicious notion that a defect can, by any chemical process of reasoning, become an excellence. In this respect, I am happy to find, that the author of one of the most instructive books, that our country has produced for children, coincides with me in opinion; I shall quote his pertinent remarks to give the force of his respectable authority to reason."


I do not want to make you a feminist - if that goes against your grain, so be it. But I do want to defend feminism against all the petty tropes that have arisen out of the relative success of the movement. Agere sequitur credere: we act on what we believe to be true.

That's a pretty fundamentalist-style response, and I'm sure you're not surprised that I disagree with that. You admit the movement has gone too far, but you still support it. Maybe I'm just a jaded old cynic, but I really don't see how trading one fairy tale for another is good for girls. And the truth is always a lot more complicated than quotes and platitudes and singular examples. I'm stuck here in 2011, I was hoping that we could discuss what feminism has, in truth, become today, and not Wollenstonecraft's perspective on women's rights over 200 years ago. Am I differentiating feminism from women's rights? Yes, because my objections to it spring from the fact that, despite what True Believers like yourself may assert, often one has very little to do with the other. It never hurts to judge your favorite "ism" by its' flaws.

Iona - you asked why I question whether feminism in the US has been good for children? Because the feminism you see in the US has taken on a pretty capitalistic flavor. Now both mom and dad have to answer to an employer, and children (and elderly family members) are "put" somewhere which will minimally impact the workplace. Instead of forcing the workplace to conform to the needs of families, we hear calls for "quality daycare" and "family friendly workplaces." Cop out! Now instead of never seeing their dads, many kids hardly ever see either of their parents, and instead spend all day institutionalized under the care of minimum-wage caregivers who passed a 30 hour course in childcare. Talk about an ongoing significant social revolution, huh? From a child's perspective, that's failure. The Left has failed the family by yielding the issue to the Right, and the feminists let them get on with it. If politics really are personal, Americans are a disgrace.
 
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Anaesthesine

Angel of Distemper
That's a pretty fundamentalist-style response, and I'm sure you're not surprised that I disagree with that. You admit the movement has gone too far, but you still support it. Maybe I'm just a jaded old cynic, but I really don't see how trading one fairy tale for another is good for girls. And the truth is always a lot more complicated than quotes and platitudes and singular examples. I'm stuck here in 2011, I was hoping that we could discuss what feminism has, in truth, become today, and not Wollenstonecraft's perspective on women's rights over 200 years ago. Am I differentiating feminism from women's rights? Yes, because my objections to it spring from the fact that, despite what True Believers like yourself may assert, often one has very little to do with the other. It never hurts to judge your favorite "ism" by its' flaws.

I'm not saying that feminism has gone too far but that, as with all movements, there is always that danger. There are irritating feminists and (sometimes) battles poorly chosen (I've always found the word "womyn" to be somewhat cringeworthy). I'm an animal rights/animal welfare supporter too, and there are some problems with that movement as well (as every Morrissey fan knows), yet I still believe in that concept that really gained steam 170 years ago (when being vegan was really a big deal). To know where you're going, you've got to know where you've been. I'm sorry, is that a platitude?

Feminism is not a fairy tale. If you don't want to cite quotes from the origins of the movement, and dismiss everything as a platitude or singular example then we can't have a discussion on the internet. You're not refuting what I've quoted, you're dismissing it.

What has feminism become today? Well, for one thing it's become post-feminism, which is a bit premature in my book. I'm in the media, and the s**t that goes on behind closed doors, the way women are dismissed out-of-hand for positions of authority (or even from appearing to have a position of authority) is shocking even to a cynic like me.

The battle for women's rights, feminism, whatever you want to call it, suffers for its successes. The best way to appreciate where it's gotten us is to imagine a world without it.
 

Worm

Taste the diffidence
(I've always found the word "womyn" to be somewhat cringeworthy).

Isn't it supposed to be cringeworthy, though? Isn't it a joke? Is "womyn" used seriously, somewhere? :eek:

What has feminism become today? Well, for one thing it's become post-feminism, which is a bit premature in my book.

I know what you're saying here, but just to throw this out there: I think the term "post-feminism" is actually somewhat helpful because it helps put into perspective the fact that we-- men and women-- have to readjust our thinking now that a few generations have lived in a world partly shaped by the feminist movement. Of course, your actual point, that we can't pretend feminism has cured all ills, is correct.

The best way to appreciate where it's gotten us is to imagine a world without it.

Yes.
 

Qvist

Active Member
That's a pretty fundamentalist-style response, and I'm sure you're not surprised that I disagree with that. You admit the movement has gone too far, but you still support it. Maybe I'm just a jaded old cynic, but I really don't see how trading one fairy tale for another is good for girls. And the truth is always a lot more complicated than quotes and platitudes and singular examples. I'm stuck here in 2011, I was hoping that we could discuss what feminism has, in truth, become today, and not Wollenstonecraft's perspective on women's rights over 200 years ago. Am I differentiating feminism from women's rights? Yes, because my objections to it spring from the fact that, despite what True Believers like yourself may assert, often one has very little to do with the other. It never hurts to judge your favorite "ism" by its' flaws.

Iona - you asked why I question whether feminism in the US has been good for children? Because the feminism you see in the US has taken on a pretty capitalistic flavor. Now both mom and dad have to answer to an employer, and children (and elderly family members) are "put" somewhere which will minimally impact the workplace. Instead of forcing the workplace to conform to the needs of families, we hear calls for "quality daycare" and "family friendly workplaces." Cop out! Now instead of never seeing their dads, many kids hardly ever see either of their parents, and instead spend all day institutionalized under the care of minimum-wage caregivers who passed a 30 hour course in childcare. Talk about an ongoing significant social revolution, huh? From a child's perspective, that's failure. The Left has failed the family by yielding the issue to the Right, and the feminists let them get on with it. If politics really are personal, Americans are a disgrace.



As far as I’m concerned, the basics of feminism is little more than plain common sense (by which I mean that I consider it to follow inescapably from certain principles and acknowledgements I can't imagine any good reason not to adhere to). Can you deny someone the right to study or work if they want to? No, you can’t. Should someone earn less for doing the same job because of having the wrong gender? No, they shouldn’t . Given that my wife works a full job same as me, is there any sane reason why vacuuming should be her responsibility more than mine? No, there isn’t. I can’t see that there is any reasonable grounds for questioning the basic principle of equal opportunity. And if you don’t, the rest follows inevitably and inescapably.

Asking if it’s good for the children is to put the question on unreasonable terms. What you are really asking is if it’s good for the children to grow up in an environment where both parents work full jobs, and nobody stays at home to mind the kids. If the answer to that is no, then that’s men’s problem as much as women’s.
Biological gender differences does of course enter into it at certain points – for instance in the care of very small infants – but by and large I don’t think it really dictates that much.

I agree with you, by the way, that it's not a good thing the way kids spend nearly the entire day at institutions from an extremely early age. People need to prioritise - maybe you don't have to have to 100% jobs during those years when the kids are small? Maybe make some material sacrifices instead? But of course, not everyone is in a position to do so. It matters a lot to what extent society is adjusted to family needs, including through labor legislation, social rights and social support schemes of various kinds. You can't throw people into a situation that requires two incomes for a reasonable standard of living and expects relentless prioritising of work without expecting that the price is paid at the family level.
 
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Peterb

Well-Known Member
As far as I’m concerned, the basics of feminism is little more than plain common sense. Can you deny someone the right to study or work if they want to? No, you can’t. Should someone earn less for doing the same job because of having the wrong gender? No, they shouldn’t . Given that my wife works a full job same as me, is there any sane reason why vacuuming should be her responsibility more than mine? No, there isn’t. I can’t see that there is any reasonable grounds for questioning the basic principle of equal opportunity. And if you don’t, the rest follows inevitably and inescapably.

Asking if it’s good for the children is to put the question on unreasonable terms. What you are really asking is if it’s good for the children to grow up in an environment where both parents work full jobs, and nobody stays at home to mind the kids. If the answer to that is no, then that’s men’s problem as much as women’s.
Biological gender differences does of course enter into it at certain points – for instance in the care of very small infants – but by and large I don’t think it really dictates that much.

I agree with you, by the way, that it's not a good thing the way kids spend nearly the entire day at institutions from an extremely early age. People need to prioritise - maybe you don't have to have to 100% jobs during those years when the kids are small? Maybe make some material sacrifices instead? But of course, not everyone is in a position to do so. It matters a lot to what extent society is adjusted to family needs, including through labor legislation, social rights and social support schemes of various kinds. You can't throw people into a situation that requires two incomes for a reasonable standard of living and expects relentless prioritising of work without expecting that the price is paid at the family level.
Well said and if I may add to 'common sense' argument, most of the women I know would not call themselves feminists but they do take a feminist position simply by default. By this I mean, they don't 'take any shit' from the men they know and expect nothing except an equal shot at life. I'd like to think that this is evidence of the politics of feminism, once only espoused by the motivated and intellectuals, seeping through into everyday life.
 

Qvist

Active Member
It's too long to condense with any fairness to the material, but there are a few points she makes worth excerpting; her underlying argument is somewhat in agreement with Qvist (and Hitchens), that the mainstream feminist movement lost its way around 1970 with "the personal is the political" choking off other avenues down which women could go.

Just to clarify my point, it was most fundamentally that identity politics of any kind is not good politics. I recognise that it is a stance people can sometimes be forced into (as would for instance a Jew in Nazi Germany). But under such circumstances, the most important point about the personal being political is that it shouldn't have to be. Ie, the unavoidable politicising of identity denotes a flaw in politics. There should not be an inherent political significance to being jewish, or a woman, or a postal worker. I do think this is insufficiently recognised by people who positively seem to embrace the concept rather than be angered by having to acknowledge it's temporary relevance as a result of enforced circumstances. The really bad thing with it as a kind of politics is that it leaves no good options open: It is locked into a fixed and perpetual notion of "us" and "them" that veers dangerously close to a zero-sum-game approach, leaves little room for positing any meaningful concept of mutual understanding or communality and posits as the real problems ones that are frequently unsolveable in principle.
 
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Qvist

Active Member
Merriam-Webster defines "common sense" as "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts". As the term is usually used, however, "common sense" usually means an abstract sphere of logical reasoning, transcending individual biases, to which everyone has access simply by virtue of being human. Anaesthesine and Black Cloud can't agree on what common sense actually means for the typcal reason: Merriam-Webster's definition, just like the standard Enlightenment defintion of empirical reason, blissfully ignores the inconvenient fact that it's nearly impossible for groups of people to have the same "simple perception of the situation or facts" (not only when they differ but also, usually, even when they agree on the main points). A "simple perception of the situation or facts" is harder to find than the Loch Ness Monster, which this forum has proved a million times.

This is a fundamental epistemological problem, and although my comment referred to feminism, it could just as easily go all the way back to some of our oldest foundational ideas, such as Plato's parable of the cave. ABCs: our knowledge has limits. The dominant special interest group, privileged white males, has somehow managed to hit on this truth and neutralize it at the same time-- which is exactly what Hitchens always does. Appeals to reason, logic, common sense, and empirical evidence were used as brickbats to beat down the opposition to the Iraq War, and yet it was precisely in these areas the Iraq War failed, most signally in the easiest measure of all: Saddam had no WMDs.

All points well taken (and well made), but unfortunately it is a much better argument against your own position that common sense is just another sectional interest group than it is against mine, which is that it is not clear what sectional interests that group is supposed to represent. :) If we cant even define what common sense is, then how do the people believing in it represent a sectional interest?

As I explained above, it was not my particular concern to critique feminism, but rather identity politics in general.
 
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Peterb

Well-Known Member
Just to clarify my point, it was most fundamentally that identity politics of any kind is not good politics. I recognise that it is a stance people can sometimes be forced into (as would for instance a Jew in Nazi Germany). But under such circumstances, the most important point about the personal being political is that it shouldn't have to be. Ie, the unavoidable politicising of identity denotes a flaw in politics. There should not be an inherent political significance to being jewish, or a woman, or a postal worker. I do think this is insufficiently recognised by people who positively seem to embrace the concept rather than be angered by having to acknowledge it's temporary relevance as a result of enforced circumstances. The really bad thing with it as a kind of politics is that it leaves no good options open: It is locked into a fixed and perpetual notion of "us" and "them" that veers dangerously close to a zero-sum-game approach, leaves little room for positing any meaningful concept of mutual understanding or communality and posits as the real problems ones that are frequently unsolveable in principle.
Your points about how 'personal politics' can manifest themselves, I think, are valid. It is not always the case though and when a persons identity does become political it is certainly not good news. Forgive me if I misinterpret your position, but in some cases you do support identity politics in some instances (you mention an extreme example but I'm sure you'd support others aswell). So, if you accept the principle that it can be justified just as I would accept that in cases it is not then I guess we come down disagreement on specific instances.
Would you say that Nationalism is an example of identity politics?
 

Qvist

Active Member
Well, I point out that sometimes identity becomes politicised whether you want it to or not. I would call that inescapable rather than justified. I suspect you are very right that people are unlikely to always agree on when and where that is the case. But then, the more contentious the justification, the less force it carries.

To me, nationalism is very clearly a case of identity politics.
 

Peterb

Well-Known Member
Well, I point out that sometimes identity becomes politicised whether you want it to or not. I would call that inescapable rather than justified. I suspect you are very right that people are unlikely to always agree on when and where that is the case. But then, the more contentious the justification, the less force it carries.

To me, nationalism is very clearly a case of identity politics.
Yeah, I would say so too. By the way, my apologies for being such an arse during our last exchange a few weeks ago.
 

Worm

Taste the diffidence
Just to clarify my point, it was most fundamentally that identity politics of any kind is not good politics. I recognise that it is a stance people can sometimes be forced into (as would for instance a Jew in Nazi Germany). But under such circumstances, the most important point about the personal being political is that it shouldn't have to be. Ie, the unavoidable politicising of identity denotes a flaw in politics. There should not be an inherent political significance to being jewish, or a woman, or a postal worker. I do think this is insufficiently recognised by people who positively seem to embrace the concept rather than be angered by having to acknowledge it's temporary relevance as a result of enforced circumstances. The really bad thing with it as a kind of politics is that it leaves no good options open: It is locked into a fixed and perpetual notion of "us" and "them" that veers dangerously close to a zero-sum-game approach, leaves little room for positing any meaningful concept of mutual understanding or communality and posits as the real problems ones that are frequently unsolveable in principle.

Okay, thanks for clarifying. I don't think your side in this debate is given over to hostility toward "identity politickers" (we need a better term). The point of contention seems to be-- and you repeated it in this post-- whether or not politics can ever escape the personal. You seem to believe in a more or less pure, abstract realm of politics in which different groups of people gather, put aside their smaller, arbitrary claims of self-interest, and mutually hammer out a workable program for the governance of all. My objection is not to the idea itself, which is beyond reproach. My problem is that, in practice, those who claim to be inside this Platonic realm of politics are really no different than the average IP-er (say, the feminist artist in "The Big Lebowksi" who likes to make men uncomfortable by saying the word "vagina" around them). The unquestioned belief in one's objectivity, that one (like Hitchens, RIP) has put aside petty self-interest while other protesters haven't and are therefore illegitimate-- that is the blind spot here, in my view. To borrow your terms, above, the notion that only one side is "us versus them" isn't true. But one of the sides doesn't realize it.
 

Worm

Taste the diffidence
All points well taken (and well made), but unfortunately it is a much better argument against your own position that common sense is just another sectional interest group than it is against mine, which is that it is not clear what sectional interests that group is supposed to represent. :) If we cant even define what common sense is, then how do the people believing in it represent a sectional interest?

As I explained above, it was not my particular concern to critique feminism, but rather identity politics in general.

Ha ha, well, if I understand your question correctly, you are trying to catch me out by using the classic attack against relativists. A variation of: "If all truth is subjective, how do you know all truth is subjective?"

My answer, which I also gave above in response to Peter, is simply that knowledge isn't zero-sum. The point is to be aware of the limits of one's thinking. We don't even need to talk politics to illustrate the point. I'm sure you, like most of us, have done the instructions game at school. It's a very simple experiment. You create instructions for an everyday, humdrum action, like making toast or tying shoelaces. Easy, common sense stuff. Then you give your instructions to the other groups and watch as they follow them step by step as if they'd never done it. In most cases, the instructions will not work, even for the simplest actions. One of the instructions will be slightly off ("Which end goes into the machine, the broken tip of the pencil, or the eraser?") or incomplete ("How can we wash the pots and pans if the kitchen light isn't on?"). It's just a silly game-- nobody takes instructions that literally, as we know-- but the outcome is very interesting. It shows us how much we take for granted with respect to common sense, "common" looking like a misnomer because we don't see things the same as other people. We all know this to be true, but-- and this is the real message of the game-- it's true to a greater extent than we ever imagined. There is always a blind spot in our thinking we never suspected was there.

Which is why I say that "common sense" usually covers up a lot of unexamined premises. All sides are guilty of it, but one side in particular is more guilty than the others, and that's the side of the powerful. By "powerful" I don't just mean the guys with all the money and guns. It applies equally so to the "powerful" in the academy and in the arts, where the Enlightenment's concept of empirical truth is often transformed into a kind of dogma designed to exclude the heretical. Hitchens was an example of this.

To be fair, as anyone who has been to university is painfully aware, the opposite side has won far too many victories over the years. The pendulum has swung from One Truth to Many Truths/Nothing Is True, which is outrageous. Like I said above, "anything goes" is not in any way a rigorous intellectual position. The truth is out there, as "The X-Files" showed us. We just have to pursue it knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are. The worst of the politically correct crowd were nothing more than mirror images of their enemies: "anything is true" is just as deadly as saying "there is only one truth".

But that was in the 80s and 90s. Today, I have to question how many of the protesters we see around America and Europe cling to anarchy (whether political, intellectual, or in the street). I often see distinctions between idiots who are nothing more than confused nihilists and outsiders who want to come in from the cold and join the party. Western Civilization got it right, for sure. Many of our governments and other authority structures just aren't living up to our highest standards, and lots of people are calling them on it-- rightly so. And I think the protesters know that what constitutes "political legitimacy" is entirely decided by a handful of elites who want to keep them powerless.
 
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Worm

Taste the diffidence
Nationalism is definitely a form of identity politics. It is also the best and most instructive case to analyze becuase it usually illustrates, dramatically and colorfully, exactly why the notion of "impartial, common sense" politics has so far, in practice, proven impossible.

Nationalism is invalid in the US because there is nothing in our form of government which specifies anything more than basic laws applicable to all citizens at all times. Our Constitution is designed specifically to be "elastic", meaning, the rule of the people is absolute. If the people are all white English speakers, that's fine. If the people are all brown Spanish speakers, that's fine too. The Constitution is blind to race, religion, and creed. The Consitution is also written to aggressively seek out anything in the land that is not blind to race, religion, or creed-- including itself-- and eliminate it.

In the real world, we know it doesn't work like that.

American nationalists (they now exist in greater numbers than ever) prove my argument, above: the very people who claim to live by the highest standard of impartial judgment are the ones who are guiltiest of narrow self-interest. Guess what, Tea Party? If you love the Constitution, you can't deport Muslim-Americans. Whoopsie!
 
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Peterb

Well-Known Member
Today, I have to question how many of the protesters we see around America and Europe cling to anarchy (whether political, intellectual, or in the street). I often see distinctions between idiots who are nothing more than confused nihilists and outsiders who want to come in from the cold and join the party. Western Civilization got it right, for sure. Many of our governments and other authority structures just aren't living up to our highest standards, and lots of people are calling them on it-- rightly so. And I think the protesters know that what constitutes "political legitimacy" is entirely decided by a handful of elites who want to keep them powerless.[/QUOTE]
The protests that I grew up with could all be boiled down to a right/left battle. These days this does not seem to apply. The youngsters camping outside St. Pauls or fighting students fees (this is in the UK) are not interested in using the labels that I feel comfortable with. I think it unfair to call them anarchistic if you are using the term in the perjorative sense (there is absolutely nothing wrong with Anarchy), they are simply a new generation who approach issues in a different way.
 

Worm

Taste the diffidence
Today, I have to question how many of the protesters we see around America and Europe cling to anarchy (whether political, intellectual, or in the street). I often see distinctions between idiots who are nothing more than confused nihilists and outsiders who want to come in from the cold and join the party. Western Civilization got it right, for sure. Many of our governments and other authority structures just aren't living up to our highest standards, and lots of people are calling them on it-- rightly so. And I think the protesters know that what constitutes "political legitimacy" is entirely decided by a handful of elites who want to keep them powerless.

The protests that I grew up with could all be boiled down to a right/left battle. These days this does not seem to apply. The youngsters camping outside St. Pauls or fighting students fees (this is in the UK) are not interested in using the labels that I feel comfortable with. I think it unfair to call them anarchistic if you are using the term in the perjorative sense (there is absolutely nothing wrong with Anarchy), they are simply a new generation who approach issues in a different way.

I probably shouldn't used the term "anarchists", since that has a more specific meaning. I simply meant a species of nihilism which grants that anything/everything/nothing is true, and therefore anything is permitted. Qvist doesn't like that and I don't either. Basically I was trying to say that many of the protesters-- really, most-- are not that way at all. And your remark about left/right labels is spot on. They're not flying under the flag or banner of any particular side now. It's more nebulous than that, intentionally so-- without being anarchy, I must hasten to add. :)
 

Peterb

Well-Known Member
It's interesting to read everyone's responses. I do recall the discussion awhile back where the term the "politics is personal" arose. I am tempted to say that that this notion is ineffably accurate, when one takes into account that one's subjective paradigm does influence how they gain information, how they retain it and eventually how they will see the world accordingly. This epistemological consideration towards ethics is the foundational basis of political discourse. What we value as individuals do affect our political affiliation, it affects our views on justice and equality. It is beneficial however, to prefer an objective form of determining ethical values. When politics become personal, the theory of equality and justice come under scrutiny. How do you define justice when standards are merely subjective? If the essence of the quality of life is about justice and fairness for all, who delineates what is fair and just? The efforts of feminists, gay rights activists, civil rights advocates are all laudable, they improved the quality of living for many. Their methodology, however, encouraged the very same divisions they wished to abolish. It is about promoting the solidarity or propaganda of one's group, not about expanding the definitions of humanism. The value of knowledge and personal autonomy got lost in the shuffle because identifying as 'X' qualifies one enough to know what equality is. Identifying as Black American may give me greater insight into the disparities of racial divisions in our country, but that doesn't give me epistemological advantage over another. It's just a different point of view. If the ideas of rational humanism were adhered to even in the slightest in civilizations across the globe, expanding the definition of human rights would be promoted instead of the alternative.
HappyMaudlin, I think it wrong to believe that all interest groups fight for their own benefit in a vacuum. In my experience, those who have fought for gay rights, for example, do so in the belief that their betterment is obtained within the greater struggle of improvement for all. Separatist groups may not follow this line but I do (and maybe you do aswell) have problems with these groups. I recall being attacked by radical feminists simply for being a man!
 

Happy Maudlin

Corinthian and Caricature
I can't stand to believe that the "personal is political". I have failed to present that clearly, but my stance remains. I deleted my post but you quoted it already, unfortunately.
 

Peterb

Well-Known Member
I can't stand to believe that the "personal is political". I have failed to present that clearly, but my stance remains. I deleted my post but you quoted it already, unfortunately.
Hey HappyMaudlin, I thought it a very well written post (I must find out what 'epistemological' means). So, do you disagree with my response? Let me know your thoughts.
 
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