Tuesday, December 31, 2013

An Indian woman in the West

Via Sunshine Mary I found an intriguing story about a single 32-year-old Indian woman living in the U.S.

Her tale goes like this. Her two siblings followed their parents' advice and married fellow Indians at a relatively early age and are now happily raising children. But she decided to follow the lifestyle of her white female friends. She admits to sleeping with 18 white men in her 20s, but now she is unhappy in her early 30s.

Why the discontent? Well, it seems that all those white men were happy to sleep with her but not marry her. So whilst her white female friends were able to marry in their late 20s she wasn't.

Furthermore, she has discovered in her early 30s that her Indian heritage and identity do matter to her. She now wants to marry an Indian man. But these men have options. They have a choice of traditional Indian women in the U.S. or they can go to India and find a young, family-oriented woman to marry.

There are several interesting aspects to her story. First, she actually believes that she's been sexually modest:
I just wanted to make things clear I didn't "sleep around." Most of my relationships have been long term I have only been with 18 guys.

How does she figure that 18 guys aren't so many? Because it is considerably less than what her friends managed:
My number is actually lower than some of my friends who were in the 30s and 40s...

What a strange culture we live in. These women are breaking the connection, and the ties of fidelity, with their future husbands even before they get married. (I'm glad to say that the young women I work with don't seem to follow this pattern; one very sweet and pretty young woman in my office got married this year - she met her husband whilst still a teen, has been with him ever since and is looking forward to having children with him. As is so often the case, she comes from a close knit, loving family herself).

Here's another aspect to this story. The narrative we are told to follow is that white men are the privileged ones, whilst non-whites are the oppressed other. But clearly Indian men living in the West have a big advantage when it comes to family formation. They have three choices: they can follow the modern Western lifestyle; they can marry a traditional Indian woman in the West; or they can go to India and choose amongst the younger and prettier women there to marry. As the Indian woman herself puts it:
I don’t know what to do, it seems like the dating pool dries up rather quickly. No guys really see me as anyone they want a future with. The few progressive Indian guys I met that I really felt like I had a future with ended up leaving me for a younger virgin bride from India. One of my exboyfriends (Indian) told me "You are great and all, but I can get a much better looking girl if I go to India, and one that will also cook for me."

So don't tell me that white men are privileged. Family formation is one of the key goods in life and clearly white men are at a disadvantage compared to Indian men.

One final angle of the story to comment on is a problem that is created by mass immigration. Our Indian woman finds herself in a no man's land when it comes to identity and culture: she can't identify as white but she is no longer part of a traditional Indian culture either:
I don't have any culture because I am not "actually white" and I am not Indian because I am "white washed."

In her case diversity did not lead to multiple cultures but to a sense of having no culture.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

It won't do

English columnist Ed West wrote a piece recently about white flight. It was interesting as it highlighted research showing that liberals are just as likely to feel uncomfortable in diverse neighbourhoods as conservatives.

West then observed that liberals he knows seem to be conceding the point that mass immigration is not good for social cohesion. They are now basing their arguments for mass immigration on supposed economic benefits.

Did this rare victory make West feel glad? No, it unsettled him:
I’m conscious of the fact that the argument has shifted in the past 12-24 months, which as a conservative makes me uncomfortable because I prefer to be losing so I can complain about things

Now, I admire Ed West for being a journalist who has resisted the liberal mainstream. But this comment of his confirmed something I have long felt, namely that there are problems within the culture of conservatism that need to be overcome.

Liberals reject much of human nature, but one thing they do hold onto is the creative instinct (not an artistic instinct but a creative one) in which they wish to shape the society around them. This attracts people who are focused on trying to make things happen, rather than being the passively superior critic.

We should aim to try and take at least some of this ground from liberals - to at least contest it.

Ed West has announced that he will no longer write his Telegraph column. In his last piece he continued to promote the idea of conservatism as essentially a negative politics:
Of course we’re pessimists, we’re conservatives – that’s the whole point. Some see a glass half-full, some see a glass half-empty, we see the downfall of Western civilisation and the country going to the dogs.

It's my job as a conservative to depress you...Conservatism is depressive realism.

Conservatism may sound miserable, even misanthropic...

He is setting things up for conservatives to always lose. Liberals get to be optimists, conservatives have to make do with being miserable pessimists and depressives. Which side is going to attract the most dynamic people?

How does he justify this? He argues that the "creative thinkers" are liberals but that these thinkers in trying to create better societies are too optimistic about human nature and therefore there is a need for pessimistic conservatives to inject a dose of corrective realism:
There has always been a need for innovative, creative thinkers (and this is why the arts will always be dominated by liberals), but there will also forever be a place for the depressive realist.

Yes, he's partly right. Liberals want to apply the creative instinct in a way that is detached from most aspects of human nature, which inevitably has destructive consequences.

But it won't do to allow liberals to be the positive, creative ones who make the running, whilst conservatives are the negative, pessimistic realists who forever react to what liberals are doing.

And I am optimistic that this will change in the years ahead.

A shameful case of infidelity

Here is what used to be the Church of the Good Shepherd in Binghamton, New York:

The parish was affiliated with the Episcopal Church, similar to our Anglicans:

The parish became concerned with the theological drift of the Episcopal Church and decided to leave. Even though their own family ancestors had raised the money to build the church, they still offered the Episcopal Church $150,000 to buy the church buildings.

The Episcopal Church refused the offer and decided instead to sell the buildings for $50,000 to a Muslim group. The cross was taken down and an Islamic banner installed:

The former church is now used for Islamic prayer meetings for a much smaller group of Muslims:

So much for fidelity to one's own religion. But we shouldn't really be surprised. The Episcopal Church, under its Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, promotes a theology in which fidelity has little place.

Nor is the case of the Church of the Good Shepherd an isolated one. There are similar stories covered in an article on the issue here.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Will they ever learn? Commune vs family

I wrote a post once about the Oneida commune titled Was free love really so free? It dealt with a commune set up in America in the 1840s in which marriage was abolished and replaced with free love.

Despite having the aim of freedom, it ended up as an authoritarian system in which 300 people were governed by 27 standing committees and in which the older men decided who would be allowed to pair off (and they decided to pair off very young girls with themselves).

Now a documentary film traces a similar attempt to establish such a commune in Austria in the 1970s and 80s. The documentary was made by a man who grew up as a child in the Friedrichshof commune, Paul Julien Robert.

Paul Julien Robert, grew up in the Friedrichshof commune

The Friedrichshof commune was founded by an artist named Otto Mühl. The aim of the commune was to dissolve marriage and the family and to abolish private property. "It was about free sexuality and communal property," is how one participant described its goals.

Paul Julien Robert's mother signed up because she thought she was joining "a nice commune." Paul Julien was not allowed to know his biological father; he lived with his mother until he was four and then she was sent away by the commune to Switzerland to earn money. He was made to chant slogans like "My mum drove off to Zurich. Since then, I feel better and better every day."

Members of the commune were expected to perform symbolic acts of matricide and patricide in order to overcome "their authoritarian generation". The founder of the commune, Otto Mühl, in addressing the members of the commune, would say things like: "We have already been able to break free and save some from this nuclear family filth."

But destroying the family did not create free love or an absence of authoritarianism. Instead, it replaced the authority of loving, caring parents with that of a single man, Otto Mühl. He has been described as "cruel, controlling and authoritarian." He created a hierarchical structure with himself at the top and several women competing for power below him. He allowed himself a wife and was the only one with the authority to punish the children. When the commune dissolved in 1990 he was arrested and convicted of sexual abuse of minors.

One book on the commune paints this picture of Friedrichshof:
The fact is that the alternative community trial of the 70's more and more led to a totalitarian system of mutual spying and sexual abuse of minors, rape, forced abortion...

Nor did free love engender love. Paul Julien Robert says of his time in the commune after his mother left:
"I was very lonely. Other women replaced her, but they were never close to me. The ideology was that all relationships were bad for the group, so it was never possible to truly bond with someone."

Did he feel loved? "Never. I grew up believing love was something bad. The feeling of being loved, and of expressing love, was something I really had to learn and to accept later."

..."There was a general lack of affection from the adults – no one held me or was tender towards me as a child."

There is a lesson here for all those who preach an indistinct, universal love - this is not likely to lead to real love. Real love flourishes within particular relationships; it is particularly fostered within close family relationships. If we grow up within a loving family, we are more likely to love our neighbour and community, which makes us more likely to love our nation and people, which makes us more likely to love a wider humanity.

If you chop away at the closer loves, you don't clear the way for a universal love of humanity, you diminish the capacity for love altogether.

The preview video below is worth watching but is slightly NSFW. The documentary itself is called "My Fathers, my Mother and Me" or in German "Meine keine Familie" which means something like "My not a family." If you're interested in more there's an interesting review of the documentary here.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rushing down the slippery slope

It wasn't difficult to predict that the changing definition of the family would not only permit same sex marriage but polygamy as well. I wrote about this three times last year (here, here and here).

What is surprising is how quickly the logic of things is unfolding. I've seen three significant statements in support of polygamy in the last week or so.

The first comes from Australia's High Court. Although the High Court overruled the same sex marriage legislation passed in the Australian Capital Territory, it did so using arguments that deny the validity of traditional marriage.

The High Court began by noting the definition of marriage that held in the nineteenth century:
marriage, as understood in Christendom, may for this purpose be defined as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others

The High Court believes, however, that this definition of marriage can no longer hold. Why? Because the courts have upheld a number of polygamous marriages (contracted overseas):
Once it is accepted that “marriage” can include polygamous marriages, it becomes evident that the juristic concept of “marriage” cannot be confined to a union having the characteristics described in Hyde v Hyde and other nineteenth century cases.

And here's the really interesting thing. The High Court has redefined marriage as follows:
Rather, “marriage” is to be understood in s 51(xxi) of the Constitution as referring to a consensual union formed between natural persons in accordance with legally prescribed requirements which is not only a union the law recognises as intended to endure and be terminable only in accordance with law but also a union to which the law accords a status affecting and defining mutual rights and obligations.

The Australian High Court has decided that marriage must be consensual and legal; it can only be dissolved legally; and it comes with rights and obligations decided by the law.

In other words, marriage can be anything that lawmakers decide it to be (as long as it is consensual). Parliament, or the courts, can declare anything to be marriage. It is not an institution grounded in natural law (i.e. that has a character reflecting the nature of man or of a moral order); it is a social construct and the only question then is who gets to determine what it is to be (the High Court has determined it is a matter for Federal Parliament).

The second development paving the way for polygamy was a decision by an American judge to soften Utah's anti-polygamy laws. The decision does not allow the state to formally recognise more than one spouse, so it did not legalise polygamy. However, it permits what might be called unofficial polygamy, in which a man marries only one woman but forms a family with several.

The third "softening up" toward an acceptance of polygamy was a CNN column by a female Episcopalian priest, Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio. She writes that,
When I heard a federal judge struck down part of Utah’s polygamy law last week, I gave a little squeal of delight.

She believes that polygamy fits in well with Christianity. She describes polygamists as "empowered people of faith." She also believes that the theological arguments she has made for supporting same sex marriage also commit her to supporting polygamy:
I also believe there are theoretical reasons why, as a Christian, it makes sense to support healthy polygamous practices. It’s a natural extension for those Christians who support same-sex marriage on theological grounds. But even for those opposed to same-sex marriage, polygamy is documented in the Bible, thereby giving its existence warrant.

Danielle Tumminio describes herself as a liberal feminist priestess. She admits in another column that she finds the idea of being in a polygamous family tempting because it would mean that other wives could support her (presumably she thinks that one of the other wives could look after the house whilst she pursued career).

Unless the culture changes we are very likely, I think, to see the legalisation of polygamy within our own lifetimes.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Henri d'Orléans: I cannot remain silent

Henri d'Orléans is a claimant to the throne of France. He has a remarkable noble lineage which stretches back over 1200 years. He has spoken out passionately against a new policy of integration being considered by the French government (hat tip: Gallia Watch).

The integration policy is a radical one. It suggests recasting French identity so that it is no longer based on the historic French nation. For instance, it recommends:
recognition of all languages in an identical manner. France must acknowledge the Arabo-Oriental dimension of her identity.

Tiberge at Gallia Watch writes:

Another recommendation: "a new Panthéon" and new streets. The authors state:

"History as taught makes references to great men who are for the most part white and heterosexual. Therefore, it is highly desirable for the "pantheon" of figures who incarnate great movements, great moments and the dynamics of pluralities in society to evolve."

Henri d'Orléans hit back in a speech that, although a little long for a blog post, is worth reading in full:
Is it necessary to recall what everybody knows: the extraordinary prophecies of George Orwell? It is true that it will always have been easier and more exciting to destroy a world rich from its culture, its efforts, and to erase forever the memory of the original roots of the people, whoever they may be. All of this on the pretext of providing a false new joie de vivre for future slaves, forced to choose between submission to the dictatorship of political correctness and absolute exclusion.

If France never succumbed to the blows, often fatal, that have been dealt her, it is because she still has a soul. At times, so dark and deep was the night of History, we might have thought that France had lost this soul, but in reality it was still there, riveted to the body of this old land where so many of our dead lie. The dead who fell at Bouvines, Rocroi, Denain, Jemmapes, Waterloo, Sedan, on the Marne and at Verdun, for France.

It so happens that in recent times there are those who try to re-write the History of our country without all these dead whom they find cumbersome, without Christianity that brought our country to the baptismal fonts and even fashioned its physiognomy, without those kings and two emperors, hardly "republicans", who made of France what it is.

Yes, some would like our country to be completely different from what it is, or more precisely, they would like it to be France no more. France should apologize for having been France, for not having been born in the form of a secular social republic in the 5th century after Jesus-Christ, for having spread its power beyond the sea, for having waged war and peace on the entire continent, for having built cathedrals and castles. Finally, the French people should blush for having entrusted their destiny for centuries to "white heterosexual males" who - it seems - clutter up the Pantheon and our history books, and who deserve to be chased out. And yet it was essentially "foreign", "impure" blood, as the Marseillaise sings, that flowed in the veins of the kings who made France, but for nothing in the world would they have touched this country of which they were the depositaries through the coronation.

Today, to facilitate the integration of millions of foreigners who live in France, "specialists" are suggesting that another France be forged from whole cloth, more in conformity with the ideological dogmas of which they are the dangerous propagandists.

It happens that I am the head of a family that, for more than a millennium, incarnated this France that they are claiming to abolish, and by virtue of this, I cannot remain silent. Even if, for obvious historic reasons, I am not a republican, never, since our return from exile, has the legitimacy that we represent opposed the will of the people; but this respect for republican legality does not exempt me from my duties as head of the royal house of France, from my duties as a Frenchman. The love I bring to France impels me to shout publicly here my indignation against his monstrous plan forged in the secrecy of ministerial antechambers.

I have noted the remarks of the president of the Republic, who declared that these proposals in no way expressed the position of the government, but I am awaiting, above all, from the president, an unquestionable condemnation of this report and its contents that aim not to change France, but to drown her like another Atlantis. I don't know what "to make France in a 'we' that is inclusive and united" (sic) means, but what I understand, and I am not the only one, is that the authors of this report are trying to undo France.

It is therefore in a state of deep distress and alarm shared by a majority of Frenchmen that I address here all of France, all those who love the country of which they are the heirs but also the depositaries. Over and beyond politics, beyond anything my person might represent to sincere republicans, even beyond my religious convictions that forge my identity but that are not shared by all, there is France and we cannot allow her to be undone.

Merry Christmas!

I'd like to wish my readers a very merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

An earlier outlook

Looking back on Western history it's possible to trace the rise of what might be called "modernism" in politics and thought - a set of ideas that would come to dominate philosophy and politics and which has led the West into its current set of difficulties.

But it's also possible to recognise the survival in the West of certain pre-modern ideals; these originated in the Middle Ages and lasted until at least the 1920s. I suspect that some of the previous dynamism of the West can be attributed to these ideals.

So what were they? Well, what we are talking about is a fusion between the aristocratic virtues of the European nobility and Christianity. In Christianity there is an emphasis on service to one's fellow man, including those who are poor or defenceless. And so the strength of the Christian nobleman was aimed at defending the weak (widows, children, the elderly) and also at carrying out the duties and obligations we have in our relationships (fidelity), which included being a protector of church and nation. Faith, loyalty and courage were considered key virtues.

I will reluctantly describe this ethos of the Middle Ages as "chivalry." It's not the best term to use as it is now mostly understood to mean men supplicating to women, which was the least attractive aspect of medieval chivalry.

Chivalry as I have described it remained part of the mix of Western culture over the centuries. For instance, consider the criteria set out by Cecil Rhodes for his Oxford scholarships in 1902:
Founder Cecil Rhodes' criteria were all-encompassing: literary and scholastic attainments; energy to use one's talents to the fullest, as exemplified by fondness for and success in sports; truth, courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for and protection of the weak; kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship; moral force of character and instincts to lead and to take an interest in one's fellow beings.

Men raised along these lines were not going to be passive, individualistic, liberal weaklings; they were brought up to be strong, dutiful and loyal - and to lead. If the ruling element in society was made up of such men, then it is likely that such a society would flourish.

It is my belief that getting back to this longstanding part of the Western tradition is one of our challenges. However, this has to be done carefully, taking into consideration:

i) what aspects of the tradition were unworthy
ii) why chivalry in its positive form declined
iii) how it can give rise to negative consequences

I don't want to make this post too long, so I'll leave a discussion of these points to a future post.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Important research: diversity is incompatible with community

Liberals believe that solidarity is based not on relatedness between a group of people but on otherness. It is with the marginalised other that we are to achieve solidarity.

And so liberals envisage diverse communities which express communal solidarity: diversity is our strength is the liberal mantra.

Some years ago Professor Robert Putnam of Harvard University cast doubt on the liberal project when he discovered that diversity and solidarity don't go well together:
The evidence that diversity and solidarity are negatively correlated comes from many different settings.

Professor Putnam found that there was less trust in highly diverse communities and that individuals tended to "hunker down" in such communities:
Diversity does not produce ‘bad race relations’ or ethnically-defined group hostility, our findings suggest. Rather, inhabitants of diverse communities tend to withdraw from collective life, to distrust their neighbours, regardless of the colour of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more, but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television.

Now another important research project has come to similar conclusions. Two researchers from the University of Michigan, Zachary Neal and Jennifer Watling Neal, decided to test whether it was possible to build diverse and cohesive communities.

The answer? A clear no:
After 20 million-plus simulations, the authors found that the same basic answer kept coming back: The more diverse or integrated a neighborhood is, the less socially cohesive it becomes, while the more homogenous or segregated it is, the more socially cohesive.

Their simulations of more than 20 million virtual “neighborhoods” demonstrate a troubling paradox: that community and diversity may be fundamentally incompatible goals. As the authors explain, integration “provides opportunities for intergroup contact that are necessary to promote respect for diversity, but may prevent the formation of dense interpersonal networks that are necessary to promote sense of community.”

And this:
These findings are sobering. Because homophily and proximity are so ingrained in the way humans interact, the models demonstrated that it was impossible to simultaneously foster diversity and cohesion “in all reasonably likely worlds.” In fact, the trends are so strong that no effective social policy could combat them, according to Neal. As he put it in a statement, “In essence, when it comes to neighborhood desegregation and social cohesion, you can't have your cake and eat it too.”

In brief, these researchers are now convinced that you can either have diversity (desegregation) or social cohesion. One or the other.

The journalist covering the story suggested to the researchers that it might still be possible to have diversity at a city level rather than a neighbourhood one:
On a more positive note, it may be possible to have such sorting by neighborhoods and still have diverse cities. I asked Neal whether he thought that cities that were made up of a federation or mosaic of distinct neighborhoods were more likely to succeed than ones comprised of several more fully mixed neighborhoods.

That would, at least, give some room for distinct communities to exist. The traditionalist ideal, however, is to enact the same principle at a global level, in other words, to enjoy the diversity of distinct national cultures. It's more realistic to have cultures maintain themselves at the national level rather than a neighbourhood one.

However, credit to the researchers and to the journalist for accepting the scientific findings that you build community (solidarity) on the basis of like qualities or relatedness (homophily) rather than on diversity. Right now, getting the underlying principle right is what is most important.

One final point. In traditional communities, in which solidarity is based on forms of relatedness, there is still a diversity of sorts. Such communities have a deep sense of solidarity but there is still diversity based on distinct class and regional cultures. That remains the best way to reconcile the enjoyment of both diversity and community.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Alain Delon regrets...

Alain Delon achieved fame as a French actor in the 1960s. A recent newspaper article about him has revealed that he holds some traditionalist viewpoints. (hat tip: Reclaiming Beauty)

Alain Delon

First, he regrets the blurring of differences between men and women:
"More and more women have become men," while they should be embodying "supreme femininity" modeled after Miss France, declared Alain Delon in an interview with Figaro Magazine. As for men, the actor regrets that they no longer go through the army, which used to teach the "values necessary for the formation of a young man."

I'll try to improve a Google translation of some of what Delon had to say:
"Why would women go on to behave like men, why would they want to resemble them? I don't understand...We must pay attention to the balance between men and women...In my day we were told that it was not for a woman to go to war. If tomorrow they fight, they fight like men...I'm not sure they'll win." According to the actor the roles will now be "less defined" even "reversed as with paternity leave" he has said.

Delon believes that men are not raised to be as masculine as they once were. He thinks that military service was important for him in this respect:
"I would not be who I am without the army. It was she who taught me the necessary construction of a young man's values, a man of respect, discipline, courage..."

Why have sex roles become less defined? Because it's a core aim of liberal society that they become so. Liberals see autonomy (in which we self-define) as the basis of individual freedom, which sets liberalism against distinct sex roles as these are predefined rather than self-defined. That makes them, in liberal thought, restrictions on the individual that we are to be liberated from.

Clearly, Delon does not believe that he has been liberated by the fact of women becoming less feminine and men less masculine. It is more evidence that liberals have misconceived what freedom means.

Alain Delon has also joined the party in France that campaigns against open borders, the Front National, describing their policies as "uplifting."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fatherhood & fidelity

Justin Wolfers describes himself as,
a committed neoclassical economist. I learned it when I was at a point in my life when rational self-interest (broadly defined) seemed the right way to understand the world.

I don't think that rational self-interest is much of a philosophy to live by. It seems too that Wolfers is having second thoughts. He had a daughter and found that his connection to her can't be explained in terms of calculating, analytical, self-interest:
My feelings toward my daughter Matilda aren’t easily expressed in analytic terms. I struggle to express it, just as I struggle to understand it. I think about my daughter, and I smile. Her laugh is the greatest joy, and it thrills me that she shares it with me. I’m fiercely protective of her, love talking about her, and she’s central not only to my life, but to who I am.

He is describing a relationship based on fidelity: one in which we are no longer closed in on our own selves, but drawn toward a deepening connection with someone else, and called to a service that is "selfless" in one sense (it is not geared toward getting a material advantage for ourselves) but self-fulfilling in another (it deepens our sense of who we are, it is a source of identity).

Wolfers makes a further argument against the idea that fatherhood can be reduced to a philosophy of individual self-interest:
Forget self-interest; I’m not the only stakeholder in this debate. Beyond my better half, there’s Matilda, and the dozens of others she has brought joy to—her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and caregivers. There are the old ladies who smile as she walks down the street, the dads I share a knowing glance with, and all the good that will come from whatever lies ahead for my baby.

And Wolfers has experienced fatherhood at the visceral rather than at the analytical level of human experience:
There’s something new and strange about all this. Today, I feel the powerful force of biology. It’s visceral; it’s real; it’s hormonal, and it’s not in our economic models. I’m helpless in the face of feelings that overwhelm me...I’m surprised by how little of this I’ve consciously chosen. While the economic framework accurately describes how I choose an apple over an orange, it has had surprisingly little to say about what has been the most important choice in my life.

It's a very interesting piece by Wolfers, but I am left wondering why he had to wait until fatherhood to have experiences of this kind. There are many experiences which an economic model would similarly fail to account for. Romantic love. The beauty of nature. Masculine instincts, drives and identity. The relationship between mother and child. Filial respect. Inspired art. A love of one's own country or people. The creative instinct. The sex instinct. Kinship. Ancestry. Religion.

Did Wolfers not experience any of these things deeply enough to unsettle his belief in an economic model of life?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Judge admits to anti-white racism

From the New York Post:
Retired Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Frank Barbaro wants a white man he convicted in 1999 of killing a black man to be freed — claiming Wednesday he based the verdict on his own reverse racism.

The 86-year-old former jurist convicted Donald Kagan, now 39, of fatally shooting Wavell Wint, 22, during a struggle over Kagan’s chain outside an East New York movie theater in 1998.

But Barbaro told a court that, because of his viewpoint as a civil-rights activist, he didn’t consider a justification defense by Kagan in the nonjury trial.

“Mr. Kagan had no intent to kill that man . . . I believe now that I was seeing this young white fellow as a bigot, as someone who assassinated an African-American,” Barbaro, a former longshoreman who also served 23 years in the state Assembly, told Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice ShawnDya Simpson.

Barbaro said he contacted Kagan’s attorneys after some deep soul-searching led him to realize he had denied Kagan a fair trial.

“I was prejudiced during the trial. I realized I made a terrible mistake and there was a man in jail because of my mistake.”

Barbaro contacted defense attorney Jeff Adler, who filed a motion in 2011 to overturn Kagan’s conviction.

Barbaro said his work during the civil-rights movement fed into his bias in the trial. “The question of discrimination against African-American people became part of my fiber — my very fiber,” he told Simpson.

What the judge is admitting to is being influenced by the ruling liberal narrative in which white men are tagged as oppressors and non-whites as victims. The judge is confessing that this narrative coloured his perception of what had happened.

Note that he also admits that the issue of racial discrimination against blacks became part of his "very fiber." That's true of some of my work colleagues. Their sense of identity and moral purpose is bound up in the issue of white racism against blacks. That's why the liberal narrative is so difficult to shift. It's not difficult to criticise it on factual grounds, but what's more difficult is shifting white liberals to an alternative sense of identity and moral standards.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Even as victims we're oppressors

In 2008 an Indian national living in Melbourne, Puneet Puneet, got drunk and drove at double the speed limit. He hit two white Australian men, killing one and seriously injuring another. He was arrested and bailed but he borrowed the passport of a conational and fled Australia.

He has now been arrested in India and is facing a deportation hearing. But here's the thing. His family is portraying Puneet Puneet as a victim of white racism, even though in this case he is clearly the perpetrator of a crime and the victim is a white Australian:
His father told Fairfax Puneet was a victim in the case. "There is differential treatment for Indians in Australia. I do not think he will be safe there. He is not an accused, he is a victim," he said.

His mother said outside the court that "accidents happen all the time".

"So many Indians were killed in Australia probably in cold-blooded ways. What about those?" she added.

The narrative of whites as oppressors and non-whites as victims is so strong that it is invoked even when, as in this case, an Indian has killed a white Australian.

Another case of Indians playing the race card occurred recently in America. A female Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, has been arrested for falsifying a visa application. She wanted to bring out a young Indian woman to be her nanny and housekeeper and claimed on the visa application that she would be paid award rates. It is alleged that the nanny/servant was in reality only paid $3.00 an hour.

That's interesting for a couple of reasons. First, Devyani Khobragade claims to be an advocate for women. She does not seem to practise what she preaches and was willing to exploit female labour for her own advantage. Second, it's another example of how difficult it can be for locals to compete with overseas labour. Presumably, the Indian woman was willing to travel to America and work for an absurdly low wage as a servant in the hope of getting residency. Why would a local accept the same conditions?

Anyway, once again, the father is claiming that his child is a victim of racism:
"It is nothing but a racial bias. It is simple and clear racial bias to harass the Indians," he said.

Feminist snow removal threatens Stockholm?

Is there not going to be an almighty backlash against feminism in Sweden?

Things have reached a point that the ploughing of snow is being subjected to feminist analysis. Apparently the older policy, of ploughing major roads first, has been deemed sexist because more men than women drive cars. The recommended new policy is to plough areas near bus stops and kindergartens first as this is more "gender equal" (women use these areas more than men do).

But that then leaves the arterial roads covered with snow. See more here.

What colour ribbon do you wear for this?

I browsed the news this morning and found two news items relating to domestic violence.

In the first incident, an American woman pushed her husband off a cliff eight days after their wedding because she was having second thoughts. In the second, an Englishwoman tried to hire someone to kill her husband after he found out about her various affairs.

This kind of domestic violence happens and is reported in the newspapers but it simply doesn't exist when it comes to campaigns against family violence. In these campaigns, such as the White Ribbon campaign, it is always assumed that men are the perpetrators and women the victims.

Such is the strength of the "male oppressor/female victim" narrative in our times.

Friday, December 13, 2013

French socialists plan a "silent revolution"

I always feel a bit on the back foot when it comes to the issue of gay marriage. A lot of Australians have been persuaded already that gay marriage is a matter of conferring a right on a group of people and that there will be no negative consequences.

If you're one of those Australians I would ask you to read on with an open mind. Tiberge at Gallia Watch has translated part of a debate in the French senate on the family. France recently legalised same sex marriage, despite very considerable public opposition. Now a further new law is being considered, one that will promote a "diversity" of family types.

The debate begins with a comment from the ruling Socialist Party Minister for the Family, Dominique Bertinotti:
I am convinced that the Senate's efforts will be towards the consolidation of this advancement for equality. This law is part of a silent revolution.

She states openly in the French senate that what is happening in France is a "silent revolution." She is not arguing that nothing significant will change; rather it is a revolution from above - from socialists like herself.

Alain Gournac, from the more conservative UMP, then reminds her of the mass, popular demonstrations in defence of the traditional family that have taken place in France:
The silence of a million people in the street!

But the socialist lawmaker is undeterred:
Sexuality is henceforth disassociated from conjugal life and from procreation.

She is saying that marriage and having children is no longer based on the heterosexual couple of husband and wife.

Another female Socialist Party senator, Michelle Meunier, then chimes in:
This bill is part of the slogan of our Republic. It allows homosexuals to have a family. Let's admit it. It leads the family out of the fantasy of "one mother, one father and one child"...

She labels the traditional family a "fantasy." The debate has reached a point at which the traditional family is denigrated in the French senate.

Charles Revet, again from the UMP, then calls out to object:
It's not a fantasy! What are you saying!

But the Socialist Party senator continues:
...because that family has never been universal. In all periods, parents have brought into the world children that they couldn't or wouldn't accept responsibility for. In all periods, children have been raised by persons other than the father and mother. What causes the problem is this idealized "hetero-patriarchal-white" family, that is further and further removed from reality. The law must adapt. (...)

Again, she reveals her hostility to the traditional family: she labels it the "hetero-patriarchal-white" family and states that it is increasingly removed from reality.

The more right-wing senators reacted with indignation to her comments, but yet another left-wing female senator, Esther Benbassa, a Green, continued along the same theme:
Protect the child? Everybody is for it! The child needs a father and a mother? Pure ideology, just like the concept of a traditional family, the pattern of "daddy-mommy-child" is a broken model which recomposed and single-parent families long ago abandoned.

She states that it is "pure ideology" that a child needs a father and a mother. This is, in effect, dissolving of family relationships. If a man, for instance, believes that his presence within a family is a necessary one, and that by abandoning his wife and children he will do harm, then he is much more likely to stay and to invest a lot of himself in his roles of husband and father. At the same time, if his wife believes his role to be a necessary one, both for her sake and that of the children, she is likely to act to keep him involved within the family.

But let's say a man really believed what Esther Benbassa claimed in the French senate, that a child doesn't need a father. If that is true, then why would a man put much effort into fatherhood? His children don't need him to do this, at least according to the women socialists. So why, then, make such sacrifices for the sake of the family?

The logic of the new family is male disinvestment in family life. It's possible that the female socialists do intuitively grasp this and welcome it as part of their attempts to dissolve the "hetero-patriarchal-white" family. It's possible that there are ordinary French people who grasp the same thing, hence the mass demonstrations against the socialist laws and the abysmal approval ratings for the French President, Francois Hollande.

It seems to me that the only way things might work out in France is if there is a disconnect between what is officially approved and what ordinary men really think and believe. If the state takes as a principle the idea that families don't need a father, but ordinary men hold to the opposite view that their role is a significant and necessary one, then society might be able to hold together.

But isn't there a risk that men will be influenced over time by what is held at an official level to be true? Isn't there a risk that men will be drawn into a state sponsored culture in which the presence of a father within a family is thought to be unnecessary?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

UK immigration minister criticises pizza boss

Regular readers will know that I'm not a great admirer of the UK Conservative Party. Nonetheless, today I have something positive to say about one leading member of that party, the Immigration Minister Mark Harper.

It was reported yesterday that the boss of the Domino's pizza chain in the UK, Lance Batchelor, wants another mass influx of overseas workers into the UK. He claimed that he couldn't find enough staff for his pizza shops from within the UK (and the EU).

He was supported by Sir Stuart Rose, the former boss of a supermarket chain. According to him, it is right that companies offer low pay as long as there is someone round the world willing to accept the work:
the former boss of Marks & Spencer, Sir Stuart Rose, also attacked the work ethic of many Britons and said it was wrong to criticise immigrants prepared to work for lower salaries.

Sir Stuart added: "It is up to people to decide whether they want to do the work for the pay that is being offered. If they don’t, somebody else is there to do it. What’s wrong with that?...I’m a free market economist – we operate in a free market. If these people want to come here, and work the hours they are prepared to work for the wages they are prepared to work for, then so be it."

I'm afraid that Sir Stuart Rose's comments are a good example of why I am not an absolute supporter of free market economics (though I am generally sympathetic to a market economy). If Sir Stuart had his way, the wages of British workers would fall to the lowest level that any migrant from around the world would be willing to work at.

It shows a gross lack of the virtue of fidelity: he is not standing in a faithful relationship with his own countrymen and willing what is good for them.

The good news is that Mark Harper, the Immigration Minister, was having none of it and rebuked the two men:
Businesses complaining about a lack of British applicants to fill job vacancies should pay higher wages, the immigration minister declared last night.

Mark Harper said that, if firms were unable to find willing workers, they were not paying the market rate and should ‘reflect’ on the salary package they are offering.

Mr Harper said there was no question of the government relaxing immigration rules so Domino’s could ‘keep wages low’.

He pointed out that Domino’s can recruit staff from within the entire EU without restrictions – an area that covers 500million people.

Mr Harper told a committee of MPs: ‘If out of a market of hundreds of millions of people you cannot find enough people to work in your restaurant, you should look at how much you are paying.

‘Dominos should pay what the market demands to fill their roles’

There is something else that Sir Stuart Rose and Lance Batchelor should consider. It is not always laziness that leads a local worker to reject a job that an immigrant worker is willing to take. It is often the case that local workers can't afford to do so.

For instance, if you're a male British worker and are offered a job on minimal pay you are likely to harm your position when it comes to attracting a possible future wife. But for a male immigrant that wage might look good to a woman from his home country.

Similarly, a male British worker has to look for accommodation standards that the women of his own community would accept, something that transient migrant workers might not have to worry about.

It's the case too in the US that undocumented migrant workers don't have to pay tax on their earnings and can therefore live on a lower wage than a local.

I can understand a local worker looking at a substandard pay offer and wondering why it would be worth accepting if it didn't provide him with an opportunity to establish a family of his own.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fidelity & community

Via Laura Wood, here is an interesting reflection by Chad Bird:
What makes community life viable, in groups as small as a family or large as a country, is the will of individuals to makes sacrifices for others, to consider more than their own needs and wants, and to act accordingly.

The more robust this other-focused approach to life is, the healthier the community will be. For that reason, there is no greater threat to the cohesion and perpetuation of a society than narcissism.

The narcissist operates not according to an objective set of values or beliefs, nor are the needs of others an impetus for his actions, but his whole world is centered in the navel at which he gazes. The be-all and end-all reason for his existence is the man in the mirror. Therefore, the question he poses, whenever any decision must be made, is quite simply this: “What’s in it for me?”

I find this interesting because it ties in with my recent exploration of the theme of fidelity.

There was once in Western culture an emphasis on fidelity. Fidelity means that you are turned towards particular relationships. These relationships call us to particular forms of service that are selfless in one sense (i.e. the aim is not to get something from the other person) but that nonetheless fulfil important aspects of self and express aspects of our identity.

We can have such relationships with our spouse, our parents, our children, our ancestors, our church, our God, our country, our ethny and so on.

Fidelity is not the only proper focus in life. It doesn't encompass everything to do with virtue or character or spirituality or the good life.

However it is something significant in the life of the individual and was once an important part of the understanding of the good within Western culture - it was part of the mix right up to the early 1900s.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

A drift in modern culture

An American woman makes this interesting observation:
Whether intentionally or not, modern culture has become such that men are held to a certain standard of conduct and women largely are not. Any few standards to which women are or used to be held, e.g. chastity, kindness, beauty and/or childrearing prowess, are contested and ultimately abandoned, because oppression. In today's culture, a man's chief duty is to everyone else, while a woman's foremost duty is to herself. A woman is entitled to a good man, while a man must fight, jump through hoops, beg for and otherwise "earn" a good woman.

The degree to which this is true of individual women varies, but I do think it's true of our culture in general.

I think what happened is this. Liberalism preached the idea that the aim in life is to maximise our individual autonomy, i.e. to have as few restrictions on our self-determining choices as possible.

But (particularly on the left) the idea took hold that men were privileged when it came to autonomy in comparison to women. For instance, the wife of the deputy PM in Britain claimed earlier this year that men are "able to toy with unlimited options" in life whereas women "face a series of stark choices".

Such an idea might be fraudulent, but nonetheless it was believed. It could then be used to justify the idea that the aim of politics was to push to maximise autonomous choice specifically for women. What mattered was whatever women wanted and men were expected to go along with the programme as a matter of social justice.

And over time the general attitude seeped into the culture. It became expected that men would do the right thing, women their own thing.

It's not a viable way of organising society in the long term. There are liberal MRAs (men's rights activists) who believe that the way to change the situation is to challenge the idea that men are privileged in comparison to women and then to push towards an "equal autonomy" in which men and women have the same roles and responsibilities in life.

Traditionalists like myself agree with the liberal MRAs when it comes to challenging the idea of men as privileged oppressors. We have that much in common. But what we would like to see is a return to complementary relationships between men and women: the roles and responsibilities would be allowed to differ according to masculine and feminine inclinations and traits, but both men and women would be held to a standard.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Not a thought revolution

Clive Palmer is an Australian mining magnate who threw a lot of money into the last election and won a seat.

In his maiden speech to parliament Palmer called for a "thought revolution." Unfortunately, rather than proposing anything new, he presented yet again the ideal of an "economic man" whose first commitment is to economic matters. He said,
Australia needs a revolution in the way we think, in the way we boost our wealth and economy for all our citizens...Our main concern needs to rest with how we can grow and expand our economy and create more wealth.

This is just more of the same from right-liberals. Left-liberals too, when you get to the crux of what they believe, think that a professional career is the main prize in life.

However, in another speech Palmer did reference the concept of fidelity. He got it disastrously wrong, but it's interesting that it still has significance for him.

Fidelity, as I understand the concept, is a turning toward the relationships we are made for, and which call us to service as an expression of who we are. There are many such relationships, but one of them is to our ancestors.

Palmer had this to say:
We need to make sure we can generate more prosperity and growth for Australians so that families have a better standard of living.

We have a very lucky country and we're standing on the shoulders of our ancestors to carry our tradition forward to the next century.

Again, there's that ideal of the "economic man" - that what matters is success in the market. But nonetheless Palmer, for rhetorical effect at least, still invokes the idea of having a debt to previous generations and a responsibility to carry forward a tradition. There is still some semblance of an idea of fidelity toward one's ancestors.

But he has misunderstood the tradition he is to carry forward. Federation of the Australian states was argued for on the basis that economic considerations shouldn't outweigh ties of ancestral kinship. For instance, the following poem was recited at federation meetings by a future PM, Alfred Deakin:
From all division let our land be free,
For God has made her one: complete she lies
Within the unbroken circle of the skies,
And round her indivisible the sea
Breaks on her single shore; while only we,
Her foster children, bound with sacred ties
Of one dear blood, one storied enterprise,
Are negligent of her integrity.—
Her seamless garment, at great Mammon's nod,
With hands unfilial we have basely rent,
With petty variance our souls are spent,
And ancient kinship under foot is trod

Palmer is reversing the message of the generation that federated Australia: he wants to steer course according to "great Mammon's nod" even if this harms the ties held sacred by the federation poet.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Feminists gone wild

An extraordinary demonstration has taken place in San Juan, a provincial city in Argentina.

In brief, a gathering of 7000 feminists attempted to attack a cathedral, which was defended by 1500 men. The men did not attempt to physically attack the women, but linked arms and formed a barrier.

And the feminist women? They spat on the men, sprayed them with aerosol spray paint, performed lewd acts in front of them, draped their underwear over them and generally behaved as if they had been seized by some primitive or savage spirit. I'm not going to directly paste the YouTube video (it is not suitable for work) but you can watch it here.

If you do choose to watch the video, note the contrast between the bearing of the men and the cruelly mocking and destructive behaviour of the feminist women.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Now moustaches are labelled discriminatory

I'm proud to say that Movember began here in Melbourne in 2004. If you're not already familiar with it, Movember is a charity movement in which men grow a moustache in November in order to raise money for men's illnesses, such as prostate cancer.

Movember has now spread internationally, but has found a critic in left-wing academic, Arianne Shahvisi. She complains about men growing moustaches for Movember because of the,
pernicious gendered and racial connotations carried by the practice

What are these pernicious practices? Well, you have to follow some convoluted logic here. According to Arianne Shahvisi if a white man grows a moustache for charitable purposes it thereby "others" men from other ethnicities who have a permanent moustache:
With large numbers of minority-ethnic men—for instance Kurds, Indians, Mexicans—sporting moustaches as a cultural or religious signifier, Movember reinforces the “othering” of “foreigners” by the generally clean-shaven, white majority.

It's a bit unusual to think that beards and moustaches are not Western. I sported a beard and moustache for a time in my 20s and if you go back to the 1800s, it was common for Western men to have facial hair. But that too is read as "racist" by Arianne Shahvisi. She thinks Western moustaches are a reminder of the Western colonialism of that century:
We are not simply considering an arbitrary configuration of facial hair, but one that had particular, imperial connotation to British men of our grandfathers' generation and currently has a separate cultural valence for men from certain ethnic groups. Moustaches, whether or not “mo-bros” mean theirs to be, are loaded with symbolism.

Arianne Shahvisi's complaints don't stop there. She believes that moustaches are not inclusive enough. After all, not every man can grow a moustache and nor can every woman:
Further, the inclusivity of Movember deserves examination. For one, only men (and even then, only some men) can grow a moustache. The decision to focus on the moustache to raise awareness of men's health issues might seem like an apposite one ... but it reinforces the regressive idea that masculinity is about body chemistry rather than gender identity, and marginalises groups of men who may struggle to grow facial hair, such as trans-men.

In solidarity with Movember, some women have also relaxed normative shaving-etiquette during “No Shave November.” Instead of being met with the same teasing words of encouragement, many have been subject to ferocious abuse across social media, reflective of the intolerability of women's body hair...

Nor does she like the Movember parties. According to her they are about,
white young men ridiculing minorities...Across nine cities in the UK, participants dress up in costumes that mock and trivialise racial minorities ... and the LGBT community ... celebrate war and imperialism (gun-toting cowboys, colonial generals in pith helmets, and cavalrymen in slouch hats), and emulate racist fictional characters and sexist stereotypes (such as 'Dictator' Aladeen with a harem of female bodyguards, Hulk Hogan lookalikes, hard-hatted builders).

Meanwhile, female attendees take on the uniforms that now seem fit for any occasion, yet really for none at all: Playboy bunnies, air-hostesses, nurses, cheerleaders. Unsurprisingly again, the woman deemed best-looking or best-dressed picks up the title of “Miss Movember”. Set against this damaging carnival of normativity, an official Movember t-shirt slogan "Moustaches against Establishment" seems particularly empty and hypocritical. This culture is summarised in the language of the website, which is itself a lesson in how to reinforce traditional conceptions of masculinity (witness: 'fighting the good fight', 'moustache army', 'flying the flag'), once again precluding the ostensible aim of breaking down the norms that force men to adopt pre-packaged roles...

Movember parties - carnivals of normativity?

 Those two paragraphs are densely packed. To summarise:
  • she has an image of white men as being subhuman oppressors of everyone else. You have to wonder just what goes through her mind when she sees a white man walking down the street.
  • she worries that Movember parties are "carnivals of normativity"
  • she doesn't like normal masculinity, not even when it is expressed in uplifting phrases like "fighting the good fight." She seems to believe that the proper aim of society is to break down masculine norms

Conclusions? The really obvious thing about Arianne Shahvisi's column is that although it is supposed to be against racism and sexism it is, in fact, an unpleasant diatribe against white men and, as such, is itself racist and sexist. It could hardly be clearer that Arianne Shahvisi looks on white men as being exceptional - in a negative sense.

We're likely to get more of this kind of thing. The academic left seems to want to pursue the idea of "microaggressions" - in which small, seemingly harmless things are revealed to be acts of aggression against minorities.  I don't think this will play out well for the academic left - it comes across badly, like an act of bad faith, as in Arianne Shahvisi criticising Movember.

Missing privilege

Which race in America suffers the most from stress? A group of researchers expected to find something that fitted the "white privilege" narrative. But the answer was more complex:
Dunkel Schetter said the study did not support a few of the researchers' original assumptions, including their hypotheses that African-American and Hispanic parents would have higher levels of most kinds of stress, and that stress would be a major reason for the racial and ethnic disparities in health.

"It wasn't that clear cut," she said. "There were forms of stress that were higher in whites than in African-Americans and Hispanics, there were forms of stress that were quite low in the African-Americans even when they were poor, and there were forms of stress that varied in Latinos, depending on whether they were U.S.- or foreign-born."

The study did find that:
A mother who wasn't living with the father of her baby was likely to have higher stress levels than one who lived with the baby's father.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Final Eltham Traditionalists dinner 2013

For Melbourne readers:

The final Eltham Traditionalists dinner for 2013 is coming up soon. The dinners have been very successful: they've been enjoyable events that have linked up an increasing number of people during the course of the year.

If you'd like to be involved please get in touch with me (you don't need to live in Eltham itself - just be within driving distance). Contact details are at the Eltham Traditionalists website.

Can Lily Allen criticise Robin Thicke?

One of the most popular songs this year was "Blurred lines" by Robin Thicke. It has a video featuring topless dancers, whilst the lyrics are about men trying to seduce good girls.

The song annoyed English singer Lily Allen who penned an angry feminist response called "Hard out here". But Allen's song is exceptionally coarse. And Lily Allen herself is a staunch feminist defender of the right of women to be unrestrained in their sexuality and not to be called sluts for being so.

Which means it's difficult to take her criticism of Robin Thicke seriously. She's not interested in upholding reasonable standards. Instead, she wants women to have an absolute right to do whatever they want sexually, whilst at the same time expecting men to restrain their sexuality according to feminist demands.

Lily Allen: not the best choice to criticise Robin Thicke

I don't see how this can work. How can women behave coarsely and without limits, without that then affecting the behaviour of the men around them? If Lily Allen chooses to trash the standards of society, so that there is no sense of modesty when it comes to sexuality, then how can she expect men to act as if such standards existed?

There is a larger lesson here, which is that the effort of liberal society to understand freedom as autonomy doesn't work well when it comes to relationships. If the idea is to maximise our autonomous choice, then it's true that a woman can act however she likes sexually, but what she then loses is any right to ask that men don't do the same.

Lily Allen is Robin Thicke. She is his female counterpart, his twin. She is acting according to the same principles as he is. They are part of a bundle.

If he is wrong, then so is she.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

In Sweden boys play with fluffy go walkies

Sweden has bought into autonomy theory in a big way. According to this theory, the aim of life is to maximise individual autonomy, i.e. the ability to self-determine who we are. Therefore whatever is predetermined rather than self-determined is a prison or straitjacket that impedes our freedom to be whoever we want to be. Our sex is something that is predetermined. Therefore, think the liberal autonomists, it must be made not to matter.

And so in Sweden it is now thought wrong to show boys playing with traditionally boy toys and girls with girl toys. Which means you get advertising catalogues like the one below, showing a boy playing with a toy called "Fluffy go walkies".

A Swedish toy catalogue

Does it matter if Sweden tries to abolish sex distinctions? Yes and no. Sex distinctions are so deeply embedded into us, that they will continue in some form regardless of the policy of the Swedish authorities. They can never be made not to matter.

It is odd, though, for Sweden to journey down this road. In a heterosexual culture, there ought to be a celebration of sex distinctions rather than a statist effort to suppress these differences. It can also be disappointing (and disorienting) to young men and women in their late teens and twenties to find the opposite sex not fully embracing their masculinity or femininity. It takes away some of the context in which young people orient themselves to committed relationships. And, finally, we tend to be most settled in ourselves when we have a deeper sense of our own masculinity and femininity. So it makes little sense to blur gender lines when we consider what is important to individual identity.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Pope on fidelity

In a recent post I took aim at Giles Fraser, an Anglican minister, who claimed that we are always morally responsible to those most other to us. Giles Fraser wrote:
...you know, constantly in Jesus' teaching there's stuff about the stranger, there's stuff about the other, there's stuff about the Good Samaritan, and our moral responsibility is always to this person who is more other than us, rather than same as us.

My response was that this can't be true as Christian morality recognises the importance of fidelity in relationships. In marriage, fidelity means that we remain turned toward our spouse, seeking to deepen a union with them, and that we accept the service we are called to in this relationship, a service that fulfils a significant aspect of who we are.

Much of our daily moral responsibility is oriented to our spouse and to our family, i.e. to those we are most close to and familiar with, rather than to persons who are most other to us.

This model of fidelity is to be found, in particular ways, in a series of relationships, e.g. between ourselves as individuals and God; between ourselves and our wider family or community (clan, tribe, ethny, nation); between God and church and so on.

Now, by one of those coincidences I published this argument on November 17th and the very next day Pope Francis was reported to have given a homily touching on the theme of fidelity. Unfortunately the Vatican hasn't published the full text of the homily, but various excerpts have been given in the press.

The theme of the homily was that we do not negotiate everything in a spirit of adolescent progressivism, in particular we do not negotiate fidelity. Pope Francis began with a reading from the Book of Maccabees in which many Jews agreed to abandon their traditions in order to curry favour with King Antiochus:
L’Osservatore Romano reported that the Pope preached:
“Let us go and make a covenant with the Gentiles round about us; we cannot become isolated” or remain stuck in our old traditions. “Let us go and make a covenant with them, for since we separated from them many evils have come upon us.” The proposal so pleased them that some of the people eagerly went to see the king, to bargain with the king, to negotiate.
L’Osservatore Romano continued:
The Bishop of Rome likened their attitude to what he called the modern-day “spirit of adolescent progressivism” which seductively suggests that it is always right, when faced with any decision, to move on rather than remaining faithful to one's own traditions. “The people,” he said, “bargained with the king, they negotiated with the king. But they didn't negotiate habits … they negotiated fidelity to God, who is always faithful. And this is what we call apostasy; the prophets called it adultery. They were an adulterous people” who “negotiated something essential to their very being, i.e., their faithfulness to the Lord.”

Many people, he said, accepted the king's orders “which prescribed that all the people in his kingdom should be one: and every one should leave his own law.” However, he observed, it was not the “beautiful globalization” which is expressed in “the unity of all nations” who each preserve their own identity and traditions. No, he said, the passage describes the “globalization of hegemonic uniformity,” a uniformity of thought born of worldliness.

“Still today, the spirit of worldliness leads us to progressivism, to this uniformity of thought” … Negotiating one's fidelity to God is like negotiating one's identity, Pope Francis said.

In what ways does this support the argument I made against Giles Fraser?

The Pope's homily suggests the importance of fidelity as a moral concept within Christianity. For Pope Francis fidelity is important in upholding what is essential to our being and identity.

Fidelity has to do with our relationship to God, but it applies as well to our relationship with our larger ethnic or national communities. It is not always right, says Pope Francis, in a "spirit of adolescent progressivism" to "move on rather than remaining faithful to one's own traditions". It is important, in the Pope's view, that there be a "beautiful globalisation" in which there is a unity between nations who "each preserve their own identity and traditions" rather than a "globalization of hegemonic uniformity" in which we merge into sameness.

So is our moral responsibility always to the person more other to us, as Giles Fraser claims? Not according to this homily by Pope Francis, in which our moral responsibility is to practise fidelity - a faithfulness to God and to our own traditions and traditional communities, through which we uphold our identity and essential aspects of our being.

Monday, November 25, 2013

16 male victims don't count?

The Melbourne Herald Sun ran a feature on domestic violence today. The good thing about the report is that it includes statistics from Victoria Police showing not only violence of men against women, but violence of women against men (and also violence in same sex relationships).

According to Victoria Police records, in the last financial year there were 44 homicide offences "in a family violence context." These offences include murder, attempted murder and manslaughter.

So what is the breakdown by gender? Of the 44 homicide offences, 28 victims were women or girls and 16 were men or boys.

Now that does show that women were the victims in the majority of cases. However, 37% of the victims were male, i.e. a significant proportion.

It's therefore disappointing that, having given these statistics, the rest of the report assumes that domestic violence is something that men do to women. The reporter is stuck on the idea that men are to be always thought of as oppressors and women as victims. Here is the type of language used in the report:
[the data] is being revealed today...to raise awareness of, and prevent, men's violence against women.

...CEO of the peak body Domestic Violence Victoria, Fiona McCormack, said it wasn't good enough that women were still not safe in their own homes.

...Det-Acting Supt Binyon said the statistics showed "women face a number of significant risks of violence from people that they know".

So the 16 male victims don't count? Why not, if you're against domestic violence, seek to tackle all domestic violence, rather than just a part of it? The answer, I'm afraid, is that there are people with an ideological view of domestic violence, who believe that men as an entire class benefit from domestic violence as a means to suppress women and that masculinity was created to enforce male privilege over women.

People who hold this view will then argue that violence against women by men is widespread and systemic; that it is supported within a traditional male culture; that it benefits all men; and that it is enacted by all social classes of men. What then becomes the solution to domestic violence? If all this is true, then the solution is to deconstruct masculinity and male "privilege" and to hold all men responsible for the problem.

That is currently the view of the people in charge. It ignores the fact that historically men have made considerable sacrifices to keep the women in their families safe from harm; that violence against women was always very strongly rejected within traditional masculine culture; and that domestic violence is not spread evenly throughout the community but is concentrated amongst those who are unemployed and who have drug, alcohol and mental health issues.

One final point. The report also included figures on the total number of domestic violence "attacks" (which include assaults, harassment, property damage and so on). It is true that a large majority of these attacks had a female victim (29,064 were male on female, 6,122 were female on male).

However, it's interesting to note the statistics for same sex assaults. There were 341 attacks within lesbian relationships. The percentage of lesbians as part of the population is usually given as below 1%, which would mean that there is a somewhat higher incidence of violence in these relationships. But how could that be if domestic violence is about upholding male "privilege"?

Similarly, there were 460 attacks within male homosexual relationships. Again, what would the point of these attacks be, if domestic violence is to be explained in terms of male oppression of women?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stuff you just couldn't make up

Anne O'Connor is an early years education consultant in the UK. She advises local authorities on the issues of equality and diversity.

If, having read that, you are already bracing for the worst, then brace some more. Anne O'Connor has written a guide for nursery (preschool) teachers, according to which teachers should not hand out white paper to students to draw on. Using white paper, it seems, runs against the spirit of equality and diversity.

Similarly, Anne O'Connor believes that teachers should lie when toddlers ask them what their favourite colour is and always answer either brown or black.

When it comes to dress ups, fairies should be dressed in a colour darker than pink, but witches should wear pink rather than black.

It's the paper thing that really strikes me. It takes some sort of bent out of shape mentality to connect the use of white paper to discrimination.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

A hostile Susie Boniface

English feminist Susie Boniface seems very keen to maintain the image of feminists as man-haters. On International Men's Day she wrote a column that is stunning in its hostility to men (worse, a mainstream publication, the Daily Mirror, chose to publish it).

Here's just the end bit:
...we can and should support International Men’s Day in every way that we can.

We should support anything which might, one day, lead men who father children and shirk responsibility to shoulder half the moral and financial burden of their own behaviour.

We should throw ourselves behind a day that might prompt men into speaking out about rape, and perhaps taking a day off from it.

If it grows and is a success then maybe in the future International Men’s Day will be the one day a year when males campaign against sex trafficking, slut-shaming, domestic abuse and religious persecution...

Perhaps one or two of them might even urge others not to monster every woman over 30 with a wrinkle while expecting them to have the bikini body of a bulimic 12-year-old and the sexual skills of a wizened courtesan.

Think of that – one day when men urge one another to be better than they are, and insist that every person is treated equally regardless of their gender.

Wouldn’t it be lovely?

One day when all men talk to their children, refrain from telling anyone to cover their face or hair, and chant ‘I must not use the pronoun “the” when talking about my missus’.

So, men, knock yourselves out. Have your day, do your best, overcome what you can. I’ll cheer you on, in fact I’ll even make you a packed lunch and help you with your placards.

While you’re off dealing with that, we women will just get on with everything else.

Don’t hurry back.

Why such hostility? I don't know for sure. All that I know about her personal life is that she is a divorced and childless career woman. In her politics she is a "sex positive" feminist (i.e. she believes that "choice" is what matters including the choice for women to wear feminine clothes).

Susie Boniface

Her antagonism could be to do with her personal life. But I suspect that her political beliefs are also at least partly responsible.

Early in her column, Susie Boniface talks about 6,000 years of patriarchy and female inequality. So she believes that men as a class have, throughout history, acted to oppress women. If that is your day to day mindset, then little wonder that anti-male feelings are bubbling just under the surface.

It's normal, of course, for men and women to be occasionally exasperated by the opposite sex. But in our society sex hostility goes much further than this: it is written into a political script, in which men are cast as the oppressors of women.

In a traditionalist community, such a script would be torn up. We would return to the understanding that the role of men is, and has been, to protect and provide for the women of their community, with this role very much being to the benefit of women.

We would emphasise, too, the value of fidelity between the men and women of a community. By this I do not mean sexual fidelity, but instead the existence of a relationship between men as a group and women as a group, which calls each group to a sense of service to the other as an expression of a significant part of their own being.

In other words, we fulfil an important part of ourselves when we "do for" women in a masculine way as men (and vice versa). That is how we express our fidelity toward the opposite sex. It is a sign of a healthy community life when we are able to express this freely - just as it is a sign of a community gone wrong when women are encouraged toward infidelity.

Retire at 70?

The Australian Productivity Commission has recommended lifting the retirement age to 70.

There was once a time when the age of retirement was gradually lowered (some members of my profession were able to retire at 55). Now it's getting higher: it's officially 67 now with calls for it to go to 70.

There are a few political points to be drawn from this:

i) The idea of liberal progress contained within it the idea that material standards of living would always rise and that people would have increasing amounts of leisure time. I can even remember speculation that there might be too much leisure time and not enough work to keep people busy. It's going to be harder for liberals to sell the idea of progress when the numbers go the wrong way.

ii) The welfare state is a double edged sword. Yes, you might draw benefits from state welfare, but to fund it you might find yourself working well into your 70s. For instance, is it really just to make a poor person work well into his 70s so that Tony Abbott can fund his incredibly generous maternity scheme (in which a wealthy woman would be paid up to $75,000 over six months)? Similarly, would such a person want to work into his 70s to cover the costs of paying prostitutes to visit disabled people, as has been proposed as part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

Someone has to pay for the welfare state and the answer of those in state power seems to be to make people work longer rather than to rein in spending.

iii) The welfare state is not such a reliable means of support. It would have been better if people had been told early in the piece that they would be better off looking to support themselves in retirement.

As an example of how unreliable state support can be, the Daily Mail ran a piece about British women who married Greek men and went to live in Greece. They had children, but then went through divorces. The Greek state wasn't able to afford the welfare to support them and so they returned to Britain, but they were no longer eligible for benefits there either and, without family support, became reliant on charity.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A few things

I've been a bit busy and haven't posted lately. So here are a few quick stories.

The first is that Roger Daltrey, frontman of The Who, has criticised the Labour Party in Britain for undermining the jobs of working-class Britons through a policy of open borders.

Mark Moncrieff at Upon Hope has written an interesting post on the Australian Liberal Party. He believes, rightly in my view, that the attempt at "fusionism" in the Liberal Party hasn't worked out well.

Some American research has shown that if men do traditionally masculine work around the home they're more likely to get lucky with the missus, but if they do traditionally feminine work they're less likely. That's predictable. It's my experience that my wife is always a lot more impressed when I can fix things or put things together or engage in father/child activities or do some of the yard work than if I do laundry or kitchen work. I don't think that means that men shouldn't help out as appropriate, but it's not wise for men to do so expecting that it will improve their chances in the bedroom.

Finally, here's another report, which suggests that the Swedish model isn't that kind to men. It seems that the work/life balance for men in Sweden is especially complicated. Because they are expected to do the traditional maternal work, they experience pressure from their family life intruding into their work life. But they are still expected at the same time to be the primary breadwinners and so their work commitments also interfere with their family time.

I hope to get back to some regular posting soon.