June 15, 2013 § 2 Comments
There are three types of feminism. The first form of feminism calls for equality under the law. The second type calls for equality of results. And the third form of feminism is primarily characterized as a hate for men. For those feminists in the third group, anything that a woman finds disagreeable about society can inevitably be blamed upon a society controlled by misogynistic pigs.
One of the main issues with critiquing something as broad as “feminism” is that many fall into the trap of assuming all feminists are the same. Of course, most feminists in group three also believe in equality under the law and equality of results. And I’m sure most feminists in group two believe in equality under the law and may even hate men. Perhaps the best way to understand feminism is to picture an onion. The thick, rough, outer layer is the third form of feminism. It’s vulgar, coarse, and the most visible. Peel away the outer layer and you get closer to the good stuff, but there’s still some nasty residue lingering. Then, finally, you get to the heart and soul of feminism – the call for equality before the law – it’s the hidden beauty which is always hiding behind its hideous outer layers.
Okay, enough corny [or onion-y] metaphors.
There are two reasons for my seemingly arbitrary distinctions. The first is to isolate the one form of feminism with which I find myself in complete agreement. That is, those who believe in equality before the law. The second reason is to provide a paradigm through which I can more easily analyze feminism as a whole. I’m sure that some readers are inevitably going to condemn this critique as a misogynistic and male chauvinistic attempt to criticize female ideas. If you were thinking this—congrats! You are a part of group three, and you’re precisely the type of person who should read the rest of this post.
I will now examine each group in descending order. You will notice that I’m conducting my critique in a very logical, linear, and orderly fashion. How characteristically male of me. [Yes, I’ve had a feminist tell me that linear thinking is a distinctly male phenomenon…as if it were some type of curse…].
The third group is perhaps the most interesting type of feminists. Every individual arrives at their ideas differently, so I can’t say what exactly it is which makes some women hate men so much. Perhaps many of these women would deny actually hating men (I’m sure some wouldn’t!). Regardless, if you find yourself constantly referring to all men as “chauvinistic pigs”, then I’m sorry, but you hate men. What’s most interesting about this type of feminism is that it’s essentially a form of reverse misogyny. In other words, it’s as if peace activists tried to end war by forming an armed rebellion and fought to the death in the name of peace. Unfortunately, this is the most vulgar, caricature-esque, and popular form of feminism today. It places emphasis on blaming individual men for the social issues which are perpetuated by a society at large.
The second type of feminist trips up on a very common leftist logical misstep; the call for equality of results. Equality of results is one of those all too common egalitarian dreams which run contrary to human nature. For biological reasons, there are certain issues that woman are faced with which men will never encounter (and vise versa). Somehow, this group of feminists believes that the differences in results are necessarily sexist.
Perhaps the best recent example of this form of feminism is the recent complaints that women whose careers are set back due to maternity leave are subject to “discrimination”. Studies show that women receive lower pay than their male counterparts due to the years of experience they miss out on due to child bearing. One woman was actually quoted as saying the following:
“Women choose to have babies; they don’t choose the discrimination that goes along with it,”
What does this quote suggest? Should the government require women with less experience due to pregnancy be paid the same as their male colleagues? Can it apply to other aspects of life? For instance, I chose to go to college but I didn’t choose to wait four years before I could make money. The fact of the matter is that the choices we make as individuals have repercussions. There is no magical remedy for this issue. The fact that some choices have negative consequences doesn’t change this fact of life. Time and resources are scarce for everyone on earth. Male, female, rich, poor, etc. are faced with the same harsh reality. There is no magical cure for the ailments of human life.
Lastly, and most importantly, there’s the first form of feminism. This was the original feminist movement before it morphed into the caricature of equality which it has come to represent today. This is the form of feminism which calls for equality before the law. There was a time when a woman couldn’t own property, couldn’t vote, and couldn’t do most of the things which we associate with being a free individual in modern society. The law — in other words, the state — prohibited women from enjoying life to the same extent that men could. In as far as feminism is a rejection of these imbecile rules against the freedom and liberty of women, I am a feminist.
In the end I find the use of arbitrary groups like sex, race, ethnicity, etc. useless such a group is being persecuted on the basis of such a distinction. Arbitrary “rights” such as women’s rights, minority rights, etc seem odd to me. We are all individuals, and what are most important are individual rights. If individual rights exist, then there is no need to specify rights specific to some arbitrary group. These random “rights” groups evolved during a time when certain groups were being stripped of their rights by the law. At the time, “women’s rights” made sense. Today, “women’s rights” is used to mean a whole plethora of random demands which would more appropriately defined at benefits, not rights.
In any case, to the extent that any group is still experiencing inequality before the law, I will support their “rights”, but only to the point at which they have rights on par with the rest of society as a whole.
June 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
I hate complaining about liberals for two reasons. First, because it makes me feel like one of those anti-intellectual morons who habitually watches Fox News and drive around with one of those “Annoy a Liberal” bumper stickers on their pick-up truck. Secondly, because it bothers me that such a ragtag bunch of imbeciles somehow managed to steal the label of “liberal” from some of the most distinguished defenders of the free market.
In any case, this post isn’t a critique of liberalism. Such an attempt would inevitably be a waste of time. Liberals, generally speaking, aren’t very interested in economics. Debating politics with someone who has little interest in economics is like having a debate about linguistics with someone who doesn’t care much for spoken language.
Instead I’d like to point out a certain tendency which seems incredibly common amongst leftists, but especially amongst liberals/progressives/Democrats. For whatever reason, many liberals seem to immediately assume that everyone who disagrees with them is either a total moron or somehow bought and paid for by some liberal bogeyman (large corporations, conservative/libertarian think thanks, etc.).
This has happened to me personally multiple times. I type/say some long winded explanation in favor of free markets and in return I’m scoffed at as if I were a five year old too simple to understand such topics. And whenever a libertarian starts gaining a following it’s inevitably followed by liberal accusations of ties to some stereotypical leftist bogeyman. But perhaps liberals took it to an entirely new level when, most likely in response to his frequent critiques of the Obama administration, they began to accuse staunch progressive Glenn Greenwald of being an “economic libertarian” with ties to CATO. Because, you know, if you disagree with Obama you must be some type of closet right winger. God forbid any dissent comes from the left.
I’m not sure where this mentality comes from. It’s a very shallow way to approach disagreement. I’m undecided if this is a result of the type of people who are attracted to liberalism or if it’s just a coincidence that almost every staunch liberal I’ve met is a condescending douchebag. In any case, it’s probably best if I move on to a new topic. I can already feel the urge to grow out my sideburns, drink cheap beer, and listen to Sean Hannity.
June 14, 2013 § Leave a comment
There are two types of anti-immigration stances: 1) those who feel that increased immigration would make them individually worse off, and 2) those perceive increased immigration as a threat to national greatness or prestige. The first is a misunderstanding, and the second is the result of blind patriotism.
Paradoxically enough, most people who hold anti-immigration views of the latter category are, generally speaking, skeptical of government. It’s interesting that these same individuals would then simply accept whatever definition of “legal” immigration the government provides. If the government is terrible at supplying healthcare, why would they be any good at deciding upon the movement of free individuals? Indeed, it’s a rather ironic twist of fate that a majority of the anti-government “conservative” movement in the United States is incredibly patriotic. No patriot could ever objectively critique their own government’s actions. Patriotism is the enemy of truth. If a certain nation is currently thriving, growing, and generally improving, that in no way makes it somehow inherently superior to other nations. To the contrary, it simply means that healthy ideas are alive and well within that nation. On the other hand, what happens when healthy ideas die and poor ideas begin to take hold? This is when “patriots” shine. In this situation, patriots defend their nation regardless of how terribly it is regressing or how poorly its conditions. Patriotism is, as far as I can see, in direct opposition to liberty. Love for one’s homeland and patriotism are two distinct phenomena. The first is a feeling based on nostalgia and culture. The second is a shallow banner which is used by the state to manipulate the lowest common denominator of society.
Thus fear of immigration is not only factually incorrect, but almost entirely based upon intellectually bankrupt conceptions of statism. Perhaps the American conservative movement will come around and see the light. I’m not holding my breath. However, the American libertarian movement seems to provide very fertile grounds for the pro-immigration movement. Unlike the Democrats and progressives/liberals, libertarians seem to be promoting a logically sound pro-trade/pro-immigration worldview. The Democrats and liberals (is there even a difference anymore?) are more interested in promoting immigration to the extent that it helps their candidates at the ballot box.
June 8, 2013 § Leave a comment
Human beings are skeptical of power. Modern Homo sapiens are very skeptical, if not downright hostile to centralized power. Members of contemporary society have come to associate power with some of the same institutions which they feel—correctly or incorrectly– are the source of the most the world’s problems. Namely, large governments and corporations. Both institutions have some of the same unsavory characteristics which are commonly associated with power: hierarchical structure, economic influence, and increasingly, large scale dependence upon their services. The essential difference between the two, of course, is how this power was actually obtained. Private entities are typically* forced to obtain power and influence via market means. That is to say, peaceful trade and catering to consumer demand. On the other hand, governments necessarily must obtain power via political means. This includes, but is certainly not limited to: democratic methods (i.e. an arbitrary percentage of the population votes for increased government power), military coups, or reference to some divine spirit (e.g. Kings in the Middle Ages and in most of Ancient Mesoamerica). Every aforementioned origin of government power is based on violence. Indeed, the very basis of government is violence and compulsion. For if any individuals were to ignore the political decisions arrived at by any of the above methods (democratic, militaristic, or monarchist) they would undoubtedly fall victim to the powerful arm of the state. Whether that means a public beheading (as might have been the case in many European empires during the Middle Ages) or a mandatory prison sentence (in the case of a modern democracy), the logical conclusion is the same. Simply put, the state depends on violence and compulsion.
It should be clear that some form of power is necessary for modern society to exist. The dreamland of a completely anti-hierarchical society is impossible. Egalitarianism is not consistent with human nature. It’s a biological fact that some humans are better fit for certain tasks than others. An entirely anti-hierarchical society implicitly assumes that every human is just as good at basketball as Lebron James and that everyone is just as adept at physics as Einstein. Hierarchy is an inevitable, spontaneous outgrowth of human nature. The only way to prevent its occurrence, paradoxically enough, is with the use of power.
Almost every modern political ideology accepts some form of power but seeks to restrain it in some fashion. The difference between each ideology depends largely on which forms of power they find most dangerous and which they find beneficial. In any case, the “regulation” of power is almost synonymous with the use of government power to control and limit private power. This is one of the most widespread government powers on earth, and is considered legitimate in most parts of the world as well. Private entities, as the argument goes, are incapable of regulating themselves, and thus an “objective” third party organization answerable to “the people” is used to impose such regulation and protect the public from centralized private power.
The obvious contradiction – that centralized power should be used to prevent centralized power – is explained away with one word: “democracy”. Democracy, it is said, is that beautiful tool which provides a voice for the people. Of course, it is never explained who will regulate the regulator. That is to say, who will keep government power in check.
Thus we’re taken back to the original paradigm: The origin of different forms of power and its repercussions on the further centralization of power. The general consensus is that private entities are incapable of properly regulating themselves. Furthermore, it’s generally believed that government power – when properly controlled by the people – is capable of responsibly regulating private interests and protecting the people from the perils of private power. In other words the state has the final opinion in all disputes. Those who disagree will be forcibly subjected to the state’s tools of subjection (fines, imprisonment, death, etc.). This widely accepted version of order is based upon a system of violence.
Compare this to the alternative: a society based upon peaceful association and private contracts. In this case, private power would exist in the absence of any state power. Any power that an individual or an organization has can only be obtained through peaceful trade and satisfaction of customer demand. The power of private firms or entities is not really power at all, at least when compared to government power. In the case of private firms, power is fleeting and fickle, subject to the whims and tastes of the average consumer. Thus, there is no such thing as permanent private power unless a firm can constantly cater to the masses by supplying the most desired goods and services. Thus it becomes apparent that there is an inherent regulatory mechanism built into market transactions. Without state interference, private entities can only survive by most efficiently pleasing the people. This is the much more effective alternative to democracy. Government power is permanent, and can only be overthrown by a different form of violence (coups, rebellions, etc.). Meanwhile, private power is short lived and controlled by tens, hundreds, or even thousands of competing firms.
So the choice is clear: a society based on peaceful transactions and competition, or a society based upon violence and permanent power. When enough time passes, it’s hard to believe that most reasonable members of society will prefer the latter.
*More on this qualifier in a future post.