Category Archives: Jordan Peterson
This fall would have been Charles Edward "Pete" Peterson Jr.'s fourth year as a volunteer football coach at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, South Carolina, and his eighth season as a scout for MLB's St. Louis Cardinals.
Peterson this year signed third baseman Jordan Walker, the Cardinals' first-round draft pick.
Peterson had hoped to see his 17-year-old son, Trey, a star outside linebacker, run the field this fall and watch him get offers to play college football.
But in mid-August, Peterson was admitted to Prisma Health Richland Hospital, where he was soon put on a ventilator. He never left the hospital. Peterson succumbed to Covid-19 on Sept. 13. He was 46.
"The last time I spoke to Charles, he was in the hospital," said one of Peterson's best friends, Mitchell Moton, another Spring Valley coach. "He said to me: 'This virus is real. Make sure Trey is OK.'" Moton promised he would. "He texted me right back and said: 'Mitch, I don't know if I'm going to get back out there. Your word Trey will be OK.'"
Peterson was known as a "big, giant teddy bear," both for his height 6-foot-3 and his sonorous, Barry White-like voice. He devoted his life to his children, to his family and to seeing younger generations of athletes succeed, said Karen Peterson, his wife.
"He didn't have a lot of time for himself, because he dedicated his life to helping others achieve their goals and aspirations," she said. "He did everything he could for his kids and the young people in his life."
Moton, who worked with Peterson for three years, tells a story that sums up his friend: Soon after stepping in to help coach the high school football team, Peterson walked into a grocery store across the street from Spring Valley High School and ran into a problem: Two players from the freshman team had been caught allegedly shoplifting. The manager was calling the police, Moton said. Peterson stepped right in. "Charles said: 'Sir, I'll pay for whatever they took. Please don't take them to jail. Let me handle them,'" Moton said. Eventually, the manager agreed to let them go.
"He told the kids: 'I believe in you. I'm going to step out on a limb for y'all. I don't know if y'all would do this again, but you will never say someone didn't stick their neck out for you,'" Moton said. Today, the two are still on the football team, and "they are two of the better kids."
Peterson's generosity was famous with the team: He was known to surprise the team with boxes of pizza, and if a player needed cleats, he'd foot the bill.
"I haven't seen anyone around Charles who wasn't smiling," Moton said. "'Sunshine' would be the one way to describe him he'd light you up."
Born in Laurens, South Carolina, Peterson was gifted in both baseball and football. While still in high school in 1991, he caught the winning touchdown to clinch the state championship for the Laurens High School Raiders. In 1993, he was a first-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Peterson went on to spend five years with the Pirates' Triple-A team playing outfield and eight more years on international and independent teams, according to an online obituary. In 2012, Peterson joined the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur scout. Eventually, he became special assistant to scouting director Randy Flores.
"Charles had an incredible impact on our scouting department," Flores said in a team statement. "He brought a tremendous work ethic, keen eye, and booming laugh with him every day. My prayers are with his wife Karen and family as anyone who ever talked to CP knew how proud he was of them."
Peterson's proudest accomplishments were off the field, Karen Peterson said. "He was a loving husband, and his kids meant the world to him. I never met a better man," she said. The two reconnected years after having attended Laurens High School together when Peterson reached out to her. They were married for six years.
"We had coffee, and the rest is history," she said. "We started hanging out and I just knew this was going to be the person I was going to spend the rest of my life with."
Peterson is survived by his wife; his children, Charles Edward "Trey," T'keyah Arai "Tia," Alexis and Keegan; his mother, Carolyn; and his brothers, Deron and Chris.
The Spring Valley football team is playing a shortened season this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, coach Robin Bacon said. The team commemorated Peterson by placing a "CP" sticker on their helmets, standing for Coach Peterson.
"He was always there for people," Bacon said. "There was never a time when he was not there for someone."
For Moton, the loss of his best friend to the coronavirus means keeping his promise.
"I'm going to do what I told him I'm going to do," he said. "I'm going to keep my word and make sure his kids are OK. There's no doubt in my mind that if it were me, he would be doing the same thing."
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A beloved H.S. football coach and baseball scout steps off the field - NBC News
I present a modest little program on ABC Radio National about faith in public life. We do something rather unique, covering the places where politics and current affairs intersect with religious and ethical questions. We enjoy neither fame nor accolades but I am proud of the ideological diversity of the voices we bring to air.
In just the past year, weve been joined by conservatives such as Rod Dreher, Peter Hitchens, Bernadette Tobin, Greg Melleuish, even US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Or classical liberals like Jordan Peterson, Tim Wilson, and Peter Kurti of the Centre for Independent Studies. Then there are the heterodox leftists, including Helen Pluckrose, Thomas Frank, Lord Maurice Glasman, Kajsa Ekis Eckman, Caroline Norma, Samuel Moyn, and James Mumford. And, finally, traditional lefties, like Joseph Stiglitz, Anthea Butler, and Jessica Whyte.
What binds all of these people, in their profound intellectual diversity, is that they are all practitioners of the humanities and social science. They all deal with the worlds of politics, history, philosophy, and religion.
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But in Australia the next generation of these thinkers is threatened by a plan due to come before the senate on Friday, 25 September, that will price these subjects and disciplines out of reach for working-class and even middle-class students. To more double the price of an arts degree will condemn those who hope to contribute to public policy and governance on all sides of politics to decades of debt.
It will also deny genuine conservatives and traditionalists the very thing they value: civil debate and democratic competition for ideas.
Let me be very clear. I concede that much of what passes for the humanities and social sciences has gone off the rails in the past thirty years. Some scholarship and areas of research have fallen too deeply into the rabbit hole of theory and would benefit from review. I concede that some courses, including media and communications, have been hijacked by ideology and even partisanship. But these are wrinkles that deans and vice chancellors can, and must, iron out with academics. And I agree that, for some students and academics with conservative or traditional social values, the university campus can at times be unwelcoming.
But to price subjects such as history, political science, philosophy, anthropology, and religion out of reach and, in some universities, out of existence is, to borrow a phrase, destroying the village to save it.
I served a term on the governing body of one of our great universities and let me assure my conservative friends that every course they suspect or even despise which is pretty much anything ending in the words theory or studies will continue to prosper. These subjects will live on through the courses that you have exempted education, psychology, social work, and even nursing. Mark my words. But what possible conservative goal do you achieve by punishing the historians, political scientists, moral philosophers, anthropologists, archaeologists, and theologians?
John Howard, revered by modern Australian conservatives, loves history and once lamented that he did not study it at university. He is legendary for the way he devours history and political biography both the fruits of the humanities and social sciences.
If my conservative friends want to fight what they believe are fashionable ideologies in the Arts, surely the best way is to encourage students with mainstream interests and aspirations to take up those disciplines. It is impossible to know for sure, but a combination of instinct and recent political history the 2017 same-sex marriage plebiscite and the 2019 federal election results suggest that students from working-class and lower middle-class backgrounds are more likely to hold traditional values.
If you price poor, or even middle-class, kids out of the study of history, politics, philosophy, and religion, for example, you will make these subjects the last redoubt of the wealthy small-l liberals and confused cultural Marxists.
Even more to the point, why would any conservative want the next generation of policy-makers, business executives, and entrepreneurs to know less about, for example: Chinas new imperialism; the struggle for influence between the Saudis and the Iranians; the explosion of religious observance in the Global South; the work of Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Alexis de Tocqueville, Michael Oakeshott, and George Orwell? I agree that these thinkers are not studied enough now, but what makes my conservative friends think they will be studied at all if the humanities and social sciences become the exclusive preserve of an elite and affluent cultural left?
Twenty-four years ago this month, I arrived in New York as 27-year-old post-graduate student at Columbia University. Our introductory lecture was by Kenneth Jackson, the great historian of New York, who explained why his city was the story of human development, frustration, and triumph. A week later, I sat as the legendary intellectual Fritz Stern spoke, without notes, for almost three hours about the history of the world from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England to the end of the Soviet Union on Christmas Day, 1991. We were enraptured as he took us through 400 years of war, plague, depression, revolution, and reconstruction. He told us why history, politics, and philosophy mattered today, in our lives.
If my conservative friends allow the humanities and social sciences to become a luxury, indulged only by wealthy liberals, do not think your children will return from university quoting the lucid prose of a Ronald Reagan A time for choosing or Isaiah Berlin (popularising Kant) the crooked timber of humanity. Get used to the impenetrable vernacular of the identity politics of Herbert Marcuse, Michel Foucault, and Judith Butler. Who? Google them.
Andrew West is the presenter of the Religion and Ethics Report on ABC Radio National. He was an alumni-elected fellow of the senate of the University of Sydney.
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Don't leave the humanities to the cultural left - ABC News
Dr. Jordan B. Peterson at the Canadian Summit '17 on Wednesday June 28, 2017. Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network
Gov. Mike Huckabee, the father of former White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee, has some pretty interesting observations regarding Black Lives Matter. He speaks of a far more accurate designation Black Lives Matter More. He also finds an inherent trap in the name: If you disagree with the tactics or ideology of the organization, youre automatically considered a racist.
For example, in my town in Southern California, a bit bigger than Chatham-Kent, our Fourth of July parade was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise our huge fireworks display was cancelled. Yet for the third consecutive week in a row, the Black Lives Matter organization was given a permit to demonstrate, despite some pretty bad behaviour over the previous two events.
Likewise, the mayor of New York City was seen disrupting a funeral ostensibly because of the pandemic, but allowed BLM supporters or at least those who attended BLM events to loot, riot and assault people with impunity.
It seems that organizations and cities are falling all over themselves to placate the organization.
I dont understand the support, as ultimately they were founded upon a lie. Jonathan Caperhart of the Washington Post describes Michael Brown as an inappropriate symbol. And the Hands up, Dont shoot slogan that originated in Ferguson, Missouri was made up by a witness found to be a liar.
When two of an organizations leaders very openly describe themselves as highly trained Marxists and are very open about their plan of dismantling our society, then whats the attraction?
But their trainers apparently did a good job, because, as with Mao, one of their first objectives was to deface or destroy important parts of the existing culture.
One of their colleagues expressed a desire to burn the country down, and in that interview was prompted by an interviewer to clarify whether he meant that literally or figuratively. He seemed to not understand at first, and then said burning down the country was up to us.
Canadian Jordan Peterson saw this coming three years ago. He said what fed them was hatred, but we had to remember that ultimately they were like a clueless, rebellious kid that gets sucked in by the mob, and gets saturated with blood lust when behind a hammer and sickle flag.
Peterson said we should approach them in a spirit of peace, as hate creates more hate, ultimately hitting a flash point like we see today.
What theyre after is absolute power.
Im thinking its a bit late for peace.
Were upside down here. A couple saw their gate come down with rioters threatening to kill them, so they backed the crowd off. A district attorney threw corrupt charges them and not at the rioters.
As I pointed out, other legal groups are not allowed their U.S. First Amendment rights, but this organization is faced with no such barrier.
Its frustrating to see cops under the microscope, afraid to use reasonable force to stop looting and other crimes. A few weeks ago, Antifa announced on social media they were going to destroy a town located a bit north or me. A reception of well-armed citizens were waiting for them. Apparently that didnt keep a few of them from running off at the mouth and they got a hard lesson about threatening peoples home.
Its not the way we want to see things going, but if we keep treating them with some special dispensation its likely things will get worse.
Greg Scharf was born in Sarnia and lives in California
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Jordan Peterson saw this coming a while ago - Sarnia Observer
Teacher claims Joe Rogan threatens ‘critical thinking.’ In fact, the exact opposite is true. – The College Fix
I think that Joe Rogans ideology is the biggest threat to critical thinking in the last decade, claimed one teacher
A recent article in Mel Magazine warned about students who are getting red-pilled online.
One particular claim included a teacher who was worried that her students were starting to listening to popular podcast host Joe Rogan and then *gasp* reading psychology professor Jordan Petersons books.
She should be glad her students are listening to Rogan and Peterson.
The article links together flat-earth conspiracy theories with legitimate criticism of the LGBT agenda and Black Lives Matter under the broad umbrella of alt-right.
A few started listening to Joe Rogans podcast, which led to them reading Jordan Petersons booksI think that Joe Rogans ideology is the biggest threat to critical thinking in the last decade, said Tessa, who is described as a 29-year-old high school teacher for students with learning impairments.
Rogans ideology is hardly a threat to critical thinking in fact its the complete opposite.
I started listening to Joe Rogans podcast several years ago after a co-worker of mine at a previous job regularly referenced his interviews. This co-worker shared my belief on abortion, but had different views on many other issues. His podcast is the third most popular podcast in the United States and he recently signed a deal with Spotify for over $100 million.
A regular listener of Rogan would hear a wide variety of views on numerous issues, including nutrition, race and political correctness. After all, how many other shows have hosted non-interventionist Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, conservative radio host Ben Shapiro, and socialist Senator Bernie Sanders?
Rogan has helped me personally think critically about nutrition and the medical system by hosting proponents of the carnivore diet, a critic of the sugar industry and multiple discussions of how nutrition is often more important than medication.
Teachers should be glad if their students are listening to Joe Rogan teachers should want their students to explore different ideas and most importantly listen. Rogan is a curious person, he likes asking questions and he seems most interested in hearing from different people.
He admits when he changes his mind on ideas and seems to truly enjoy sharing stories and new information he has learned.
And he has hosted psychology professor and self-help expert Jordan Peterson six times.
Peterson is often the target of people who dont understand what he talks about, just like Rogan.
A common criticism of Peterson is that he mainly appeals to men.
His popular book 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos and numerous lectures available online regularly touch on topics like responsibility, telling the truth and parenting.
At a time when its popular to talk about so-called toxic masculinity and at a time when marriage rates are dropping among Millennials and births to unmarried parents are rising, we should want someone who appeals to young men and tells them what they need to do to straighten out their lives.
After all, its not like Peterson says anything profound that cannot be found in Christianity, for example.
But if Peterson finds a way to reach people who were not reached before, and helps them take responsibility for their own lives, address problematic family relationships and become a productive member of society then all the better for him and for our society.
Teachers: If your students are listening to Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson than you should be thankful.
They will probably end up being your most responsible students and the students most open to debate.
MORE: Young man storms stage at Liberty University asking Jordan Peterson for help
IMAGE: Joe Rogan Experience/ Youtube screenshot
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The picture of science that they defend, however, is what merits the most attention.
In my last article for Merion West, I addressed the work of the authors of the Grievance Studies or Sokal Squared hoax. This essay is a follow up to the last one with two purposes. First, I want to clarify, as specifically as possible, what my criticisms of their work is. Some of this could have gotten lostmaybe understandablyin discussions of the analytic/synthetic distinction, paraconsistent logics, and mathematical pluralism. Second, I want to address what I think they get right and why it matters for a socialist left. In the previous essay, I mentioned in passing that I do agree with some of what they have to offer, but I did not elaborate. I will do so here. These are not two separate goals; they are necessarily intertwined. The reason why it is important to critique the aspects of their work that are inaccurate is because the things they get right are important and, thus, have a very broad appeal. In that sense, what I am trying to do in these two essays is analogous to what the late Michael Brooks did in his excellent book Against the Web: A Cosmopolitan Answer to the New Right. In it, he critiques figures in the Intellectual Dark Web, such as Jordan Peterson, while acknowledging that the questions of individual meaning and anxiety in young men that Peterson seeks to address are highly importantand are responsible for his popularity. As such, the Left would be unwise to dismiss them. In the same way, I think Pluckrose, Lindsay, and Boghossians claims about knowledge and science touch on fundamental issues.
Before moving on, there are a few issues that they bring up that I think are correct in such an obvious way that I will not discuss them. The main examples of this, in my view, are cancel culture and freedom of speech. The former is obviously bad, and the latter is obviously good. We may disagree, I suspect, about how much of an existential threat cancel culture really isor whether it is possible to cancel outgroup members, for example. However, we agree on its fundamentally bad nature. To begin, then, I will re-state the basic claims of my critique, expand on them, and then explain how they relate to what they get right.
The second one is, in my view, the most important because it is the one that serves as the basis for all their other claims and critiques. Now, in regards to this, there are two things that I am not arguing: I do not think that science is Western, white, male, or anything else of that nature. Nor do I claim that to be their position. To me, their position is that science and reason are common to all humans and cultures. I agree with this position and, in fact, this is at the heart of what I think they get right. Related to this is the place of science in the West. I have written before why the idea of Western Civilization, Western Society, or the West (as something more than a mere geographic location) is not very helpful. But, for now, let us sidestep this and just take it as a given. In my view, claiming, as Peter Boghossian has, that undermining science in favor of alternate ways of knowing is among the steps toward the destruction of Western Civilization, necessarily implies that science somehow underpins Western Civilization. Saying this, however, does not imply that science is Western. By way of analogy, one could claim that classical Greek culture underpinned Roman civilization. Yet, it would be ridiculous to infer from that statement that classical Greek culture is actually Roman. So, in terms of whether science underpins Western culture, I could even admit it is somewhat accurate, insofar as the legacy of the Enlightenment continues to be strongly felt today.
The problem, then, is not that science is or is not Western but, rather, that their characterization of how it works (and what it does) is simply not accurate. Let us restate the issues as concisely as possible and then explore what they get right. As I argued in the previous essay, the central problem has to do with ideas of truth and how to arrive at truth. James Lindsay, in particular, constantly mentions the term objective truth. There are a few entries in the New Discourses social justice encyclopedia (Lindsays project) that are helpful. The entry on objectivity is a good place to start. While it correctly identifies the notion of objectivity as an ideal to strive for that cannot be fully achieved in practice, it presents a kind of dualistic picture in which the subjectivist postmodernists who defend relativist notions of truth are on one side, and on the other is everyone who is favor of science and truth as correspondence to reality. This idea, which has been analyzed before (as used by James Lindsay and Peter Boghossian), is echoed throughout several entries in Lindsays encyclopedia, such as those entires on reality, truth, and positivism.
This last one is the one that most accurately captures the problem. First, it begins with the following rather odd phrase: Positivism, or sometimes logical positivism. This should ring alarm bells for anyone who has studied philosophy of science because positivism and logical positivism are two very differentand mostly unrelatedschools of thought. The former was started by the French sociologist Auguste Comte, and it was chiefly concerned with applying the methodology of the natural sciences to the study of society. Logical positivism, on the other hand, was a school of thought of the early 20th century that sought to explain the impact that new developments in physicsEinsteins relativity, in particularhad on epistemology, and it grew out of neo-Kantian philosophy. The encyclopedias entry on positivism explains that, according to positivism, a proposition needs to be empirically verified or logically proven to constitute knowledge. This suggests that what the entry refers to is specifically logical positivism (also called logical empiricism) because this describes the verification principlean important aspect of this school of thought. But here, things get quite more complicated.
It is certainly true that logical empiricism was one of the most scientifically-inclined schools of thought, but the entry ascribes to it many other views that provide a kind of foil for what is presented as postmodernism and Social Justice Theory. However, they are questionable at best and obscure the much more nuanced reality of empiricism and the philosophy of science. According to the encyclopedia, positivist attitudes would therefore say that there is something called objective truth, objective knowledge, or objectivity. Further, this school of thought is presented as a contrast with postmodernism:
Positivism is, in some sense, the arch-enemy of both postmodern Theory and, as a consequence, the Theory of Critical Social Justice. Theory (or, these Theories, if preferred) vigorously reject the idea that objectivity is desirable or possible and that truth has any necessary correspondence with reality
Postmodern philosophy in general is not merely generally anti-realist (seeing no reliable connection between statements about reality and reality itself) but is radically anti-positivist.
I think it is fair to say that postmodern philosophy is, in some sense, anti-realist. The problem with this is that if one examines both the primary and secondary literature, this radical contrast quickly falls apart. Let us look, for example, at Empiricism, semantics, and ontology by Rudolf Carnap, perhaps the most influential of all the logical empiricists. In it, Carnap seeks to address whether we can meaningfully answer metaphysical questions such as what there is. Carnaps argument is that questions like this are fundamentally undecidable. All we can do is accept linguistic frameworks in which certain classes of things exist. So, for example, asking if numbers are real is a meaningless question, but we can accept mathematics as a linguistic framework which uses numbers. Inside such a framework, the question are there numbers? becomes trivially true. What is interesting is that his opening example is the world of thingsthat is, material reality. With respect to this, he argues the following:
To accept the thing world means nothing more than to accept a certain form of language, in other words, to accept rules for forming statements and for testing accepting or rejecting them. The acceptance of the thing language leads on the basis of observations made, also to the acceptance, belief, and assertion of certain statements. But the thesis of the reality of the thing world cannot be among these statements, because it cannot be formulated in the thing language or, it seems, in any other theoretical language.
Here, Carnapone of the chief exponents of logical positivismis effectively saying that the question about the reality of the external world is simply what we accept pragmaticallynot something that we are committed to as being ultimately provable. If this sounds like anti-realismwhat Lindsays encyclopedia (accurately) claims that postmodernists advocateit is. Specifically, it is a form of scientific anti-realism called instrumentalism, which posits that theoretical terms like photon or electron do not necessarily refer to real physical entities but are just theoretical constructs useful in predicting actually observable phenomena. Additionally, there is the problem of truth and correspondence to reality, which is brought up so frequently by Lindsay, both in the encyclopedia and elsewhere. Yet, the logical positivists endorsed a theory of truth that is, in many ways, the opposite of the correspondence theory, namely, the coherence theory of truth. In a nutshell, this means that for a proposition to be true, it has to be consistent with a larger set of propositions that form our explanation of the world. As James O. Young explains in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, many logical positivists, such as Carl Gustav Hempel and Otto Neurath endorsed this theory. Specifically, he explains that according to their view we can only know that a proposition coheres with a set of beliefs. We can never know that a proposition corresponds to reality. Finally, there is the issue of mathematical or logical truths. These, as I explained in the previous piece, were starting to be questioned from schools of thought that had nothing to do with postmodernism: most notably, with W.V.O. Quines Two Dogmas of Empiricism,and much further with work on the foundations of mathematics, which led to developments like inconsistent mathematics and mathematical pluralism.
None of this is meant to imply that we cannot trust science or empirical methods (we should!), or even that there is anything wrong with subscribing to the idea of truth as correspondence to reality. The problem is that scientific knowledge and epistemologythe discipline that studies knowledgeare much more complex and nuanced than the dualistic picture in which one side believes in science, reason, and truth as correspondence to reality, and the other is postmodern, relativist, and anti-realist. In fact, leaving philosophers aside, even practicing scientist do not always adhere to the correspondence theory. Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll has suggested that he finds the coherence theory most compelling. As another example, Rhett Allain, a professor of physics at Southeastern Louisiana University, wrote an essay for Wired magazine arguing that science is actually not about finding the truth but, rather, simply about building models.
If the actual theory and practice of science are not as two-sided, then it is easier to see why the first out of my three specific criticisms might be the case: namely, that the structure of claims made by Social Justice scholarship is not unscientific. Here, I am not arguing simply that there are relevant and valuable studies on racism or sexism that make concrete empirical predictions. What I am saying is that the specific fields they criticize make claims that are perfectly intelligible in causal scientific language, as shown by Liam Kofi Bright et al. in their paper Causally Interpreting Intersectionality Theory.
I mentioned three specific criticisms, and I have only addressed two. I will address the third further on. As I stated in the introduction, my main goal here is to address what they get right. The only reason the previous section was as long is because I want to be as precise as possible about what my criticism is. A good place to start with what they get right is something that I already mentioned briefly: their defense of science as our best method of approaching knowledge. This may not seem like a novel idea; however, I want to emphasize the our part of this position. Unlike other public intellectuals such as some members of the Intellectual Dark Web like Ben Shapiroor some others even further to the rightLindsay, Pluckrose, and Boghossian emphasize the universal character of science: It belongs to humanity as a wholenot just to the West. This is something that they extend to politics and ethics, I believe rightly. In chapter 10 of their book Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identityand Why This Harms Everybody, they discuss how liberal democracy, regulated capitalism, and scientific knowledge are the answer to the problems that they see as afflicting modern society. In this chapter, they write the following:
Liberalism is also hard to place. It makes little sense to speak of when it began or how it developed, even though we can name philosophers who have articulated its essence, most of whom lived in the West in modern times. These thinkers include Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Francis Bacon, Thomas Paine, and many, many others. They drew inspiration from earlier thinkers in other traditions, reaching all the way back to Classical Greece two thousand years earlier, and provided concepts and arguments that continue to persuade and inspire liberals to this day. They did not, however, invent liberalism, which belongs neither to a historical period nor to a geographical location. The underlying impulse toward liberalism can be found in every time and place.
This raises a very valid point and one which is crucial for the socialist left. Now, I think their contention that liberalism is hard to place is questionable. It is hardly controversial to assert that the political ideology that we now know as liberalism began with the English social contract theorists like Thomas Hobbes and, particularly, John Lockeand that the theorists that they mention were theorists of liberalism insofar as they were working on the tradition started by them. In a way, this is anachronistic in the same way that it would be to ask whether Plato was a Marxist because he advocated for collective ownership. However, I think their underlying point is correct and essential.
They are in good company, as well. In some ways, the argument they are making here is similar to the one that the Indian Nobel-winning economist and philosopher Amartya Sen makes in his excellent essay Human Rights and Asian Values. Sen wrote that essay partly to criticize certain Asian authoritarian political models. The leaders of these countries, such as Singapores Lee Kuan Yew often invoked Asian values as a justification for their anti-democratic and anti-human rights tendencies. Liberalism and democracy, they claimed, worked in the West because they were compatible with Western values. But the Eastinfluenced by philosophies like Confucianism and Hinduism with its embrace of casteswould always work better under strong authorities. Sen counters this by pointing to important Asian figures and philosophical traditions that embraced values that we would identify with liberalism such as equality and toleration. As such, the claim that certain political systems and ideologies belong to certain peoples or geographical areas become rather suspect and, likely, little more than a rationale for autocratic rule.
Interestingly, while Sen is primarily concerned with discourse coming from Asian leaders, and Lindsay and Pluckrose, with discourse coming from academia in the West, there is one quotation that Sen uses to characterize his opponents position that looks exactly like the kind of discourse that Lindsay and Pluckrose are criticizing. The quotation comes from the Singaporean foreign minister who, at the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights, argued that universal recognition of the ideal of human rights can be harmful if universalism is used to deny or mask the reality of diversity. Now, the problem with criticizing a statement such as this one is that it is not completely baseless. John Stuart Mill, for example, one of the most influential liberal thinkers was a defender of British Colonialism. Furthermore, his defense was predicated on the idea that less advanced cultures would benefit from British rule precisely because it would bring the values of liberty and toleration to those societies. This kind of reasoning clearly makes a statement like the Singaporean foreign ministers much harder to ignore.
The problem is also not limited to the political sphere. In a piece for The Conversation titled Decolonise science time to end another imperial era, University of Reading professor Rohan Deb Roy explores the ways in which science was used to advance and justify colonialism. Again, he provides ample evidence for his assertions, but he also makes some claims thatwhile defensibledo go too far for me. He argues, for example, that modern Western science was inextricably entangled with colonialism, especially British imperialism. This type of argumentation is what makes the work of Lindsay, Pluckrose, and Boghossian so attractive. Again, I am not disputing that science has been misused for nefarious and inhumane purposes, but once phrases like inextricably entangled are used, I think the criticism goes into dangerous territory. This is because I think it can suggest in some ways that science cannot be separated from its misuses. This, again, makes the arguments from Lindsay and Pluckrose that I just described very attractive. Ultimately, however, Deb Roy is not saying that we should abandon science. He even contrasts his own position with that of a student from the University of Cape Town who, in a viral YouTube video, actually argues that science cannot accommodate non-Western perspectives and experience. As such, he believes it should be scrapped completely and built again from scratch in a more inclusive wayagain, exactly the kind of argument that Lindsay and Pluckrose so often criticize. I should add that, as of the time of writing, the video has almost 1.4 million views but about one upvote for every ten downvotes. This suggests that the popularity of the video is probably based more on negative reactions to it than widespread agreement with its ideas. It is also a student making these points, not a professor, or anyone else who is charged with imparting knowledge. As such, it would be a mistake to take these views as somehow mainstream, but the fact is that they do exist and some people hold them.
Insofar as they are criticizing this type of views in particular, I think Lindsay and Pluckrose have a valid point. Whether the authors to which they attribute them do hold them is a different matter, which I will not address, but which Samuel Hoadley-Brill, a PhD student in philosophy at the CUNY Graduate Center addresses in his review of Cynical Theories for Liberal Currents. Ultimately, however, even if he is fully onboard with the idea of decolonializing science, Deb Roy still argues that trying to uproot science is a bad idea that would be seized by religious fundamentalists and others such as climate change deniers. Furthermore, he argues that it would do a disservice to the legacy of people such as anti-caste and atheist activists in India who fought for science. Here, though, I suspect, again, that Lindsay and Pluckrose would not be satisfied with this and would probably also object to the idea that science has been inextricably linked with its misuses during colonialism. As I said earlier, I also think this is a problem because it suggests that the wrongdoings of the people who misused science are somehow imprinted on scientific knowledge. And while I think it is crucial that science education includes the history and anthropology of science, precisely so that future generations of scientists are aware of these horrific events, we cannot fall into the trap of putting the blame directly on sciencesomething that the student on the video certainly does (and that someone like Deb Roy might do to a lesser degree or, at least, leave the door open to it).
I think this is crucially important for the Left because, after all, the Left should aim towards a universal cosmopolitan ideal like the one that Michael Brooks defended. If we are going to reach an ideal like that, it cannot be done on the basis of particularistic or essentializing ideas. The problem is that, even if this is the goal, I think the Left can quite often get caught up in language and issues relating to conflict and struggle. This is particularly true of those that pit, for example, the developing world against the developed world. Now, there is a reason for that, of course. Imperialism was a real historical process, and its impact can still be felt strongly today in many of the worlds ex-colonies. Committed Marxistssuch as Lenin and many like him in the developing worlddedicated much of their thought to imperialism and the conflict meant to bring about its end, and for good reason. But again, a universalist cosmopolitan political ideal cannot be built solely on anti-imperialism. This is, in part, because after imperialism we are still left with nations and peoples throughout the globe each pursuing their own interest and potentially entering into further conflict; but it is also because, as Amartya Sen argued, the language of anti-imperialism can be appropriated and deployed against ideas such as human rights that should not even be considered Western. With all this in mind, I think it is clear why a defense of universalism and liberal values can be so appealing. Now, I would go further in many ways. I think that we should go further even than regulated capitalism. I believe that the market will remain a good method of distribution, but I would also argue that companies should be collectively owned by their employees. Finally, to borrow from Michael Brooks one last time, I also believe that liberal values such as legal equality and civil and political rights have to be part of a socialist project, even if it includes more ambitious goals like direct democracy wherever practicable.
In much of this, they, therefore, are largely correct. It then falls on the Left to address these valid concerns, much like it remains important to address questions of meaning and fulfillment raised by figures like Jordan Peterson because, if it does not, the space will be taken up by those whose goals are antithetical to the Left. I would argue that in this case it is even more important because the criticisms raised by the likes of Lindsay, Pluckrose, and Boghossian deal with issues that are much more tangible than abstract questions of meaning. Questions of science and political systems are as material as things get, and materialism is where the Left is supposed to excel.
Finally, I want to address here the third out of the three criticisms that I laid out at the beginning because it gives a good rationale for why I think all of this is important. My claim is not that they are reactionaries but that their project is ultimately most useful to reactionary worldviews. This is not a claim about motives or intentionsimply about effects. This is also related to their claims about science, as I think it should be clear by now that I do not have much of a problem with defending small l liberalism as they do. I say mainly, however, rather than only because some of their apocalyptic political language is reminiscent of the language used by reactionary postmodern conservatives. This can be seen, for example, when they argue that we have reached a point in history where the liberalism and modernity at the heart of Western civilization are at great risk on the level of the ideas that sustain them in the introduction of Cynical Theories. The picture of science that they defend, however, is what merits the most attention. As I argued previously, it is highly inaccurate, in the way it deals with issues like truth, realism, anti-realism, and the way different schools of thought addressed these issues. But the specific ways in which it is inaccurate matters because they are particularly amenable to reactionary thought. To start, the distinction between the good, objective, realist side, and the bad postmodernist anti-realist one has a rather Schmittian feel of friend versus foe. Further, I think it should be obvious that a project aimed at criticizing scholarship against racisms and sexism will be seized upon by racists and sexists. Again, I am not claiming that this is the reason why they are doing it, but I am saying that it is a predictable result. This also does not mean that I think this scholarship is beyond criticism as I hope I have made clear, and people like Robin DiAngelo have been thoroughly criticized from the socialist Left. The problem in this case is that so many issues begin to add up, which make this kind of project attractive to reactionaries. Finally, to use the example of gender, take a view that supports the idea that gender is solely determined by biological sex (and that there are only two genders), and everything else amounts to degeneracy. A position like this is obviously much more compatible with views of science predicated on cleat-cut boundaries, simple facts, and things of that nature rather than the complex relationship between language, reality, observation, and logic defended by the logical empiricists, for example.
Hopefully, anyone on the Left will take away from this more than just the criticism. Even if we find their solutions and conclusions widely off the mark, it is important to understand why the concerns they raise need to be addressed and why that makes their way so attractive. Only if we do this can we hope to take up that space rather than leave it for those who would use it against the Left much more aggressively than Lindsay, Pluckrose, and Boghossian do.
Nstor de Buen holds an M.A. in social sciences from The University of Chicago. He has previously written at Quillette.
In the movie The Matrix, red pilling meant recognizing a hard truth and rejecting the safety of ignorance. In liberal media, however, the expression is nowadays used to mean, a person becoming radicalized by conservative spaces online.
At least thats how its used in this piece that details accounts by several US teachers, some of whom are identified only by their first name, who speak about teenage students getting radicalized online.
The stories cover all the key points of the usual online radicalization narrative: the boys in question are described as sweet, kind, and quiet before the internet turned them into misogynists, homophobes, white-supremacists, flat-earthers, as well as critics of Black Lives Matter, vaccines, liberals, and so on.
When the article talks about far right spaces online, it includes Twitter, because one of the boys, according to his teacher Olivia, turned into a monster after he started following accounts there. YouTube is also mentioned as another platform where this ideology blossoms, as are Facebook and Reddit. Could the implication be that more censorship is needed on these online places in order to save the children?
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Theres always been boys who ask, Dont girls just lie [about rape], though?, and we do want to take those questions seriously, one teacher said. But increasingly theyre using language that sounds straight from Reddit, and they arent satisfied with an answer or a statistic I can cite. These are teenage boys who have MRA [Mens Rights Activists] talking points. Theyre extremely fixated on the idea of false accusations and they talk a lot about women getting a lot of money by accusing men of rape.
But the focus is more obviously on the role teachers could play in stopping this red-pilling (as understood by the articles author) from happening.
One of the educators quoted here blames conservative parents for influencing their children, but also singles out star podcaster Joe Rogan as the biggest threat to critical thinking in the last decade.
This is the opinion of a teacher identified as Tessa, who is apparently not a fan of exposing children to a variety of sources of information (despite the fact this is a key perquisite to develop critical thinking). Thus Rogans musings are described as an ideology that can lead to teens reading Jordan Peterson books and it all goes downhill from there, suggests Tessa.
They think Im brainwashed by liberal narratives and that Im compelled to lie to them, she said.
But another teacher, named as Jacob, doesnt like it when the shoe is on the other foot: when conservative parents complain about some of the ideas he chose to discuss with students, he reacts by saying, I just informed them, thats it. Its like just exposing them to knowledge is threatening.
We cant tell you who wrote this piece, or where they work. What we can tell you is its not Unity.
A little while ago, I said to a friend that working at a bookshop kind of sucks. He was clearly bamboozled. I thought working at a bookshop would be lovely and magical. Being surrounded by books, reading all day
I used to think so, too.
When I got my first job as a bookseller, at 16 years old, I was thrilled. I had wanted to work at my local bookshop since I was a child I hero-worshipped and crushed on the staff, was entranced by the shelves and the papery smell, and spent hours reading in the kids room while my Mum and Dad had coffee next door (note to parents: if your children are gremlins, this is not good practice).
I loved cutting up the Christmas wrapping paper and recommending childrens books to parents. I happily gave up half my weekend to be there, making friends Ive kept ever since. Through the bookshop Ive become more confident, met countless lovely customers, been introduced to excellent and thought-provoking books, and experienced the way that communities continue to support an industry that would otherwise disappear.
But after 10 years as a part-time bookseller, Im jaded. Ive become someone who frequently loathes other people. And this isnt just me being an asshole.
Lately, grumpy booksellers have been going public. Last year Anne Barnetson, a bookseller in Perth, started posting her comic series Customer Service Wolf to Tumblr and Instagram. She told the BBC Its unenacted fantasies that I think people have after a very long day when they think: It would just be great to stop all this right now.'
There have been books, of course: London bookseller Jen Campbell released Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores in 2012; five years later Scottish secondhand bookstore owner Shaun Bhythell put out what Russell Baillie described in the Listener as a funny, pithy, grumpy poignant memoir of a year in the shops life and its occasionally annoying clientele.
And, at the serious end of the spectrum, Sadie Stein, contributing editor for The Paris Review, opened a 2016 column with I love bookstores, but theres something that needs to be said: theyre often filled with lurking creeps.
All retailers know that just one unpleasant interaction someone who doesnt treat you as a real human, basically can ruin your day. These customers come in various forms: the creepy men, the entitled, the children-with-icecreams, the bigots, the (many) people who are outraged that we dont have a particular title, despite Covid-19 playing havoc with supply chains (NB: please call ahead!). Crucially, unlike most retail jobs, customers of bookshops want to discuss ideas, and that can lead to uncomfortable, sticky situations.
Plus, I now know that part of the bookshop smell is a carpet that has absorbed urine both canine and toddler so a bit of the olfactory charm has gone, too.
Probably weeing. (Photo: Martin Barraud/Getty)
The reality: working in a bookshop is sometimes a bit shit, more Black Books than Notting Hill. Let me list the ways.
When the customer is wrong
A woman once said to my manager, Do you have 20 Rules for Life?
Do you mean Jordan Petersons 12 Rules for Life? she asked.
Haughty look. No. Its 20 Rules.
My manager picked up a copy of the book, 12 Rules for Life. This one?
Well, thats the right author. But no. Im certain its 20 Rules. Ill call my son and get this sorted out.
When the customer is wrong and also racist
The number of times Ive had someone tell me I dont like Asian writers would be ridiculous and absurd if it wasnt so offensive. Generally, I assume such customers have read one Murakami novel and believe that hes It.
An incident that really sticks with me is when an older woman asked for a book recommendation, and I suggested A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara a Man Booker finalist, incredible, brutal, and one of my favourites. Recommending a book like this, which left me devastated and still has the power to choke me up, feels like extending an (emotionally laden) olive branch. Youre trying to share an experience that moved you, so its hard not to feel a bit miffed when you gush over something amazing and then the customer buys Jojo Moyes. But this time, the customer stopped me before I finished saying Its about four men
Oh no, she said. I dont read Asian authors.
Hanya Yanagihara is American, I said. The book is set in New York.
Then whats with her name?
Long exhale through the nose. Her parents are from Hawaii.
She scrunched up her face and said no thank you and at that point I just had to walk away, leaving her to browse all the novels by men called John or Robert and women called Ann. How, I thought, did people still think these things, let alone say them aloud in public? Is it because people like me just walk away, rather than telling them it isnt right?
Its hard, though, to say what you think when youre in customer service. Even in a regular social situation my conflict-averse nature would make it difficult, but when a large part of your job is to ensure that your shop keeps getting five-star Google reviews and receiving happy paying customers, biting your tongue can feel like the only option, even when on the inside youre spitting nails.
When the customer is a creep
Sometimes, behaving like its all OK and putting on a pleasant face can really cause trouble. On and off for five years, from when I was 19, a middle-aged man stalked me in the shop. He would come in when I was on my own at night, tell me hed broken up with his girlfriend because he liked me better, call the shop repeatedly to ask me to coffee, say hed recently watched Fifty Shades of Grey and that Anastasia reminded him of me because, of course, shes so clever.
Anastasia Steele (as played by Dakota Johnson): really not renowned for her smarts. (Photo: Supplied)
At the start, I partly blamed myself for getting into this situation. Hadnt I chatted cheerfully with him? Hadnt I smiled? Hadnt I wryly told him that Fifty Shades of Grey is not great literature?
But of course this wasnt my fault. I was in customer service mode. I was being nice and accommodating because thats what youre expected to do, both as a customer service worker and as a woman. You get used to saying Yes, of course, and Oh, how interesting. Plus, I literally couldnt leave when he talked to me. The furthest away I could get was behind the till.
What most customers understand is that customer service workers are fakers. Sure, sometimes were happy, sometimes we even enjoy the chatting but its also our job, so generally it shouldnt be taken to heart. But some men oh, they take it to heart, and they keep it buried deep in their aorta, even when two years have passed and you duck upstairs whenever they walk through the door.
Our health and safety plan in a situation like that is to send a Facebook message saying CALL THE SHOP! to the work groupchat, wait for a colleague to ring, then pretend the friend on the phone is an annoying customer who might take hours to deal with, hoping that the actual annoying/unstable/stalker customer will get disheartened and decide to leave.
This is not totally reassuring, however, when youre alone with a man who is wearing a mesh singlet and covered in swastika tattoos.
When whats selling is extremely weird
Cultural trends are reflected in what people buy. In 2016, for example, we sold what felt like billions of adult colouring books. Obviously, that year everyone was stressed as hell and very susceptible to suggestion. After Christmas, the colouring books left and never came back, a weird blip in the book universe.
Over the past few months, since the police killing of George Floyd and the political protests and riots that followed, the trend has been to buy books that confront and oppose racism. How to be an Anti-Racist, Me and White Supremacy, So You Want to Talk About Race, White Fragility, and books by James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander and others have been hugely in demand we keep ordering them in, there are stacks put away as special customer orders, and yet there are never enough copies on the shelves.
Black Lives Matter March For Solidarity in Auckland on June 1, 2020 (Photo: Jihee Junn)
The buying habits at our bookshop are just a microcosm of whats going on in the world. In early June, both the New York Times list of bestselling non-fiction and Amazons bestsellers list were suddenly dominated by books addressing racism.
In the UK, Reni Eddo-Lodge (Why Im No Longer Talking to White People About Race) and Bernardine Evaristo (Girl, Woman, Other) became the first black British women to top the countrys non-fiction and fiction charts, respectively.
Its refreshing to see these changes, despite how late theyve come, despite the incredible discomfort, articulated by Reni Eddo-Lodge, that it took the killing of an innocent black man to drive such widespread interest and care. Still, when I see people lining up to buy these titles, it feels considerably better than when the queue was for Lost Ocean: An Inky Adventure & Colouring Book.
When it all gets too much
Books are vehicles for ideas, ideology, and politics, even when that wasnt the authors intent (think of when Ted Dawes Into the River was banned, or the recent controversy surrounding American Dirt).
While bookshops are generally politically neutral spaces, in which Richard Dawkins is equally as welcome as Eckhart Tolle, there are times when both booksellers and customers dont see it that way.
A customer I remember well came into the shop one night and turned John Keys biography face-down on the table before leaving in a hurry. She then emailed the shop to say that she found it both distasteful and mystifying that a small business like ours would propagate such a book. We replied that we didnt push a political agenda, that our staff hold a variety of viewpoints (although, really, were mainly a bunch of lefties). End of discussion.
Possibly not an accidental juxtaposition. Kim Dotcom tweeted this in 2014, commenting in fine company (Photo: Twitter)
Really, though, were not always neutral and agenda-less. Nearly half of my colleagues studied politics, were in the book world because we enjoy discussing ideas, and were low-wage earners of course we have views, not only about the world, but about the books we sell. On occasion, thats led to some perhaps less-than-ethical behaviour.
Jordan Petersons self-help book 12 (not 20) Rules for Life is a good example. After becoming well-known for his views on free speech and gender-neutral pronouns, Peterson was adopted as a mascot of the alt-right. Boxes upon boxes of his books arrived in our shop, and most staff werent thrilled.
So after selling dozens of copies to both Peterson fans and people simply intrigued by the title, a few of my colleagues had had enough and ended up hiding Petersons books in a cupboard behind the till. Well sell them if someone asks, they said, but were not going to advertise them on the shop floor.
Surely it isnt the place of booksellers to censor or interfere in consumer trends, is it? But, equally, were human, were political beings rather than customer service robots. And sometimes, we snap.
Read more here:
Confessions of a jaded NZ bookseller - The Spinoff
Technological advance is updating the motto of the 12th-century Assassins. Whereas the Ismaili sect said: Nothing is true, everything is permitted, the malicious, embittered, mentally disturbed and pornographically minded will soon make every truth a lie and every lie true.
We did not reach fake news saturation with the Brexit referendum and the Trump presidential campaign. We have barely tipped our toe in the dark waters. Artificial intelligence will allow smartphone users to generate synthetic voices and images that reach a Hollywood level of special effects at next to no cost and with minimum effort. If your enemies have video of you, they can make you appear in a porn scene so authentic only you will know its false. If they have a recording of your voice, they can have you mouthing racist slogans that could get you fired. Some are already doing it. Deep fake tools, such as FakeApp, are the beginning of an explosion in online lying that makes fake news indistinguishable from real.
Because we trust video as the most reliable part of our shared reality, we are likely to believe fakes initially or if it suits us and will go on believing until trust in a shared reality finally shatters. Jordan Peterson may not be a thinker all readers reach for, but when he launched a legal action in 2019 against a website that allowed users to generate believable audio of me saying absolutely anything they want me to say, he gave a warning thats worth remembering. How are we going to trust anything electronically mediated in the very near future? What do we do when anyone can imitate anyone else, for any reason that suits them?
To give you a bearing on where we are heading, watch the wriggles of the US right as it manoeuvres to downplay the death of George Floyd. At the end of June, one Winnie Heartstrong, a Republican candidate in Missouri, produced a dossier alleging that the video of his killing was a deep fake made up of composites and face swaps. Although Twitter and Facebook, the truths willing executioners, have found an audience for fantasies that George Floyd is not dead or that George Soros is behind the Black Lives Matter protests , its fair to say that even they could not make Heartstrongs heartless conspiracism take off.
Nina Schick invites you to imagine the world in five years time. By then, we will be so used to synthetically generated propaganda that millions will find any claim plausible and it will seem no more than sensible scepticism to refuse to acknowledge the real.
Schicks Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse is a short, sharp book that hits you like a punch in the stomach. She witnessed first hand the ability of Vladimir Putins Russia to manufacture reality during its invasion of Ukraine in 2014 and understands the consequences of the triumph of the Putin worldview. Unlike their 20th-century predecessors, dictatorial forces do not try to fool their peoples that they are creating a paradise on Earth the workers state, the 1,000-year Reich. Putinism in its broadest sense convinces the people that it doesnt matter if strongmen lie because everything is a lie, the system is rigged, democracy is a sham and all the news you hear that makes you doubt is a fraud. We may be liars, they concede, but so is everyone else and at least we lie for you. They offer hell on Earth instead of heaven on Earth and insist that only fools believe that the Earth can be made better.
Deep fake technology gives not only Russia but China, which is moving into information warfare as it tries to cover up its culpability for Covid-19, their most powerful tools yet. Advertisers will turn to it. So will criminals as they impersonate CEOs and persuade companies to hand over fortunes.
Many women can explain the future because they have already confronted deep fakery in their private lives. Even Hollywood stars have found they lack the resources to stop the distribution of synthetically generated pornographic films depicting them. Its a useless pursuit sighed Scarlett Johansson after her lawyers had tried and failed to protect her image. She went on to warn that any woman could become a target of amateur pornographers as the web became a vast wormhole of darkness.
Traditional defences of freedom of speech that I have long subscribed to are inadequate. You can say that war, colonialism, fascism and communism happened without the help of the web and we should calm down. Unfortunately, the speed of technological change is an argument against complacency. There were almost four centuries between the invention of the printing press in Europe and the development of photography in the 1830s and societies could adjust. There are 29 years between the oldest web page going up in 1991 and 4.57 billion people being online in 2020.
The need for government to adopt radical policies is obvious. But there is the urgent question of whether we can trust government and not only in dictatorships, where the state is the major source of fake news. Schick, like so many writers, concentrates on Trumps America and I cant find it in myself to blame them for being drawn to that moronic extravaganza. Yet I think we should be more frightened of the British elite. Its foppish laziness and abject cowardice exceeds anything on offer in Washington. A country whose security services were too frightened to investigate Russian interference in the Brexit referendum, whose civil service is stuffed with political appointees and whose TV regulators tear up their own impartiality rules to allow Putins propaganda station a licence, cannot protect the individual or society from the coming age of deep fakery.
As phoneys themselves, they will pretend to, of course. But theyll be faking it.
Nick Cohen is an Observer columnist
This week I listened to an interview on Public Broadcasting Service with Jason Stanley, a professor of philosophy at Yale and author of the book How Fascism Works. He defined fascism as an ideology based on power, loyalty and fear of the other where the other is defined ethnically, or by nationality or religion, and the leader represents us.
His position was that we are in danger of fascism by President Donald Trump. It was his assertion that the entire reason Department of Homeland Security went into Portland was not to protect their federal properties from being destroyed (as is their job) but rather it was President Trumps political plan to provoke the rioters and create a scene of chaos and violence for the TV screens so that he could appear as the strong man to protect you against opponents who threaten the values you hold dear. Stanley is voicing a leftist position.
Stanley did not address the other cities where rioters and looters have been terrorizing those cities in the absence of federal officers but did point out that there can be a fascist social and political movement in a democracy, which is what we are seeing across the world, in the U.S. and Brazil.
Stanley states the press is undermining democracy from within. He said the goal is to undermine the institutions and create new fascist institutions. That was interesting to me because while he is thinking President Trump is doing that by DHS going into Portland, I am thinking the left is doing that because they want to change or tear down some of our basic institutions.
So, the left and the right are in fear of the other as fascist. Merriam Webster defines fascism as A political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
The right believes the left is also practicing identity politics and exalting race and other identities above everything else above individualism and suppressing opposition and ideas. A good example of this is what is happening with censoring of conservatives on social media and by attacks from ANTIFA.
An early Antifa example is the uprising and protesting at Berkeley when conservative radio talk host and author Ben Shapiro was scheduled to speak in 2017.
Antifa wanted to cancel Shapiro because his ideas did not align with theirs. It is classic identity politics. The right was in danger of being attacked by the left.
A recent example is Bernell Trammell, age 60, a dreadlocked activist known for carrying handmade signs through the streets reading Vote Donald Trump 2020, and posting them on his storefront. He was gunned down by an unknown assailant on his sidewalk last Thursday afternoon, police said, according to the NY Post. I doubt we will see protests or riots over Mr. Trammells death.
This week I heard another well-known lesbian woman podcaster that was talking about how she was being canceled by the left because she wasnt acknowledging a persons proper group or identity. She said shes just tired of people being so demanding and sensitive. She was saying that people on the right have been far nicer and accepting of her.
The next thing to consider is intersectionality. This is a theoretical framework for understanding how aspects of a person's social and political identities (e.g., gender, sex, race, class, sexuality, religion, ability, physical appearance, height, etc.) might combine to create unique modes of discrimination and privilege.
What strikes me about identity politics and intersectionality is what clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson points to, that the natural conclusion of intersectionality is individualism. Furthermore, to attribute to an individual the attributes of that community on the basis of their racial identity is called racism. As if theyre homogeneous. Its the same with any group.
When you start identifying someone by all the groups they identify with, the possibilities are endless and at the end of it all is a unique individual.
We are all individuals and its antithetical to the idea of American individualism, where we believe that no matter who we are or where we came from that we can accomplish and go wherever our hard work will take us.
But somehow now, instead of being judged by our character as Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of, some in our culture are trying to reverse it and go backward. They are actually angry if you dont recognize and identify someone based on their skin color, or their gender. Why cant we just respect and honor everyone, no matter what their race, gender, class, religion, etc.?
It just seems like we are going backward.
Photo courtesy of Dave Hess Facebook page Dave Hess Jr. won his third consecutive Super Late Model feature race at Eriez Speedway on Saturday night. It was his 42nd career win, tying him with Dick Barton for second all-time.
HAMMETT Another sultry night of racing was on the agenda for Eriez Speedway Saturday with veteran Dave Hess Jr. collecting his third Mill Run Collision Super Late Model win in a row; Breyton Santee winning his first Nic Dit Trucking RUSH Late Model win of the season; Ty Rhoades claiming his first of the season in the Waterford Hotel E-Mods; Jason Black getting his first trip to the Curtze Food Service Street Stock Victory Lane; Matt Alexander collecting the win after a bizarre Johnsons Car Care and Collision Economod finish; and Chris Horton racking up his second L & D Tree Service win of 2020.
Mill Run Collision Super Late Models
Heat 1: Colton Flinner, Matt Urban, Nathan Hill, Dutch Davies, Dave Lyon, Khole Wanzer, Breyton Santee
Heat 2: Mike Knight, Brandon Groters, Steve Kania, Chub Frank, Chris Hackett, Wendell Pinckney, Anthony Marotto
Heat 3: Dave Hess Jr, Andy Boozel, Matt Lux, Darrell Bossard, John Lobb, Greg Oakes
Feature: Dave Hess Jr, Mike Knight, Steve Kania, Matt Lux, Matt Urban, Andy Boozel, Dave Lyon, Dutch Davies, Wendell Pinckney, Breyton Santee, Brandon Groters, Anthony Marotto, Nate Hill, Khole Wanzer, Chris Hackett, Greg Oakes, Chub Frank, John Lobb, Colton Flinner
Nic Dit Trucking RUSH Crate Late Models
Heat 1: Matt Latta, Kyle Zimmerman, Chub Frank, David Parker, Khole Wanzer, Brandon Porter, Darrin Waldron, Steve Houser, Jacob Peterson
Heat 2: Billy Henry, Jason Genco, Shane Crotty, Breyton Santee, Matt Sipes, Chad Clement, John Woodward, Jonathan Stockdale, D J Krug
Heat 3: Darrell Bossard, Jon Rivers, Scott Gurdak, Brian Larson, Gary Troyer, Paul Norman, Josh Beckstrom, Brad Stoeger
B-Main: Jacob Peterson, Jonathan Stockdale, Steve a Houser, Brad Stoeger, D J Krug (DNS)
Feature: Breyton Santee, Jason Genco, Darrell Bossard, Chub Frank, Matt Latta, Billy Henry, Shane Crotty, Scott Gurdak, Matt Sipes, Khole Wanzer, Kyle Zimmerman, Gary Troyer, Chad Clement, Paul Norman, Josh Backstrom, Jon Rivers, Jonathan Stockdale, Brandon Porter, David Parker, Brian Larson, Jacob Peterson, Darrin Waldron, John Woodward, Steve Houser (DNS)
Waterford Hotel Outlaw Modifieds
Heat 1: Joel Watson, Steve Sornberger, Troy Johnson, Jesse Gould, Mike McGee, David Lamphere, Tim Peterson, Brady Westfall, Justin Carlson
Heat 2: Mike Eschrich, Butch Southwell. Gary Eicher, Steve Simon, Chris Peterson, Brandon Grossman, Devin Dudenhoeffer, C J Ramsey, Bryon Johnson, David Warrior
Heat 3: Tim Rockwell, Greg Johnson, Ty Rhoades, Mark Titus, Ron Seeley, Hunter Hulley, Brian Mohawk, Vaughn Nystrom
Heat 4: Dennis Lunger, Randy Hall, Zach Johnson, John Boyd, Eric Reinwald, Steve Rex, Adam Ashcroft
B-Main 1: Dave Lamphere, Brady Westfall, Tim Peterson, C J Ramsey, David Warrior
B-Main 2: Justin Carlson, Steve Rex, Adam Ashcroft, Brian Mohawk, Bryon Johnson
Feature: Ty Rhoades, Mike McGee, Mike Eschrich, Joel Watson, Randy Hall, John Boyd, Tim Rockwell, Ron Seeley, Steve Simon, Zach Johnson, Steve Rex, Greg Johnson, Dave Lamphere, Butch Southwell, Eric Reinwald, Mark Titus, Steve Sornberger, Dennis Lunger, Troy Johnson, Jesse Gould, Gary Eicher, Chris Peterson, Brady Westfall (DNS)
Johnsons Car Care and Collision Economods
Heat 1: Bob Vogt, Todd Canter, Jason Brightman, Keith Felicetty, Todd Miller, Pat Passaniese, Jordan Simmons
Heat 2: Garrett Calvert, Zack Lenart, Steve Simon, Tyler Davis, Tim Stronghart, Brody Hill, Mike Johnstone, Dale Reiser
Heat 3: Gary Olson, Kyle Layton, Brad Boyd, Matt Alexander, Mike Harmon, Justin Chaddock, Mason Cantor, Ray Gregory
Feature: Matt Alexander, Bob Vogt, Brad Boyd, Steve Simon, Kyle Layton, Todd Canter, Justin Chaddock, Zack Lenart, Tim Stronghart, Tyler Davis, Jordan Simmons, Mike Johnstone, Jason Brightman, Mason Cantor, Pat Passaniese, Garrett Calvert, Dale Reiser, Keith Felicity, Gary Olson, Mike Harmon, Donald May, Todd Miller, Ray Gregory (DNS)
Curtze Food Service Street Stocks
Heat 1: Rod Laskey, Kyle Couchenour, Douglas Eck, Jason Black, Jimmy Kennerknecht, Drake McCray, Brian Graham, Shane Applebee
Heat 2: Jason Covey, Mike Miller, Wesley McCray, Pat Fielding, Gary Fisher, Anthony Marotto, Lonnie Waldron, Michael Reed, John Boardman
Feature: Jason Black, Rod Laskey, Mike Miller, Douglas Eck, Gary Fisher, Jimmy Kennerknecht, Steve Yokum, Kyle Couchenour, Pat Fielding, Drake McCray, Wesley McCray, Michael Reed, Justin Pratt, Brian Graham, Lonnie Waldron, Andrew Van Every, Jason Covey, John Boardman, Shane Applebee (DNS)
L & D Tree Service Challengers
Heat 1: Dalton Eggleston, James Weigle, Wes Stull, Todd Hanlon, Jordan Melice, Nicholas Reed, Brandon Huffman, McClintock, Tommy LaBarbera, Brian McDonald, Corey Mason
Heat 2: Davey Lowe, Zack Eller, Holden Heineman, Andrew Smith, Joe Mason, G Reinwald, Jonathan Seekings, J Glover, Kasey Markham
Heat 3: Mark Lawrence, Kevin Covell, Pat Oyer, Tommy LaBarbera, Nick Eck, Jasmine Markham, Joe Syzmanski, Dale McDonald Jr, Lewis Krapf, Joe Lindberg, Alex Siekkinen
Heat 4: Jeff Nunemaker, Chris Horton, Pat Hanlon, Derrick Randolph, R Moller, Mikael Beaver, Ricky Houser, John Mease, Brandon Hall
B-Main 1: Brandon Huffman, Nicholas Reed, Tommy LaBarbera, Jonathan Seekings, 54, 16, Kasey Markham, Brian McDonald, 12, Charles McClintock, Gary Youngs (DNS)
B-Main 2: Brandon Hall, Joe Syzmanski, Donald May, Mikael Beaver, John Mease, Joe Lindberg, Dale McDonald, Ricky Houser, Lewis Krapf (DNS), Greg Marsh (DNS), Alex Siekkinen (DNS)
Feature: Chris Horton, Todd Hanlon, Zack Eller, Holden Heineman, Dave Lowe, Mark Lawrence, Wes Stull, Jeff Nunemaker, Pat Oyer, Brandon Huffman, Kevin Covell, Nicholas Eck, Nicholas Reed, Mikael Beaver, Jordan Melice, Joe Syzmanski, Joe Mason, Patrick Hanlon, Dalton Eggleston, Brandon Hall, James Weigle, Body McClintock, Derrick Randolph, Rachel Moller
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