Your Actions Stem Inexorably From Your Principles

Your actions stem inexorably from your principles.

“Even if you don’t believe, you cannot travel in any other way than the road your senses show you. And you must walk that road to the end.”

-American Gods

I see a common theme in popular discourse where people look at a given situation and think, “Oh well if only they had done this or that differently, then everything would be fine.” I recently heard this argument made about Hitler. I heard someone literally argue, “If not for the thing with the Jews then Hitler would have been great for the world.”

The problem I see with the idea of equivocating by trivializing significant details is that it misses the fact that these things were the only possible natural culmination of the ideas and values and principles that led people up to that point.

The 2021 capitol insurrection came as a shock to no one who has spent any amount of time trying to understand the people who committed the act. The ideas and values and principles they had been reciting and living out for years could only have led to the exact kind of violent insurrection we saw. In fact there were already examples. The same people had recently tried to kidnap and assassinate the governor of Michigan. And now we are told that they have further insurrections planned for all 50 State Capitols in the coming days.

There is a thread of contrition running through our culture. People like Biden think it’s possible to return to the status quo (which for most people was nearly as bad as things are today) by “healing” and “unifying” the country. These moderate centrists fail to see two things.

First that these violent events in furtherance of the cause of a fascist ethnostate have always been the only possible conclusion of the movement that has been building towards that point for decades or centuries depending on how you define it.

Second that trying to shush these things and sweep them back under the rug makes it worse. Working to delay an inevitable conflict is an admission of guilt, and acts only in furtherance of the cause of injustice. This is the fundamental failure of generations of Americans who give us figures like Biden; the failure to confront the real and fundamental challenges of the day. They hide behind platitudes rather than actually making any attempt to understand or resolve the problems that face them. Their goal is not progress, it’s regress. They want to go back to feeling comfortable ignoring the white nationalists that prowl other people’s streets. They want any discussion of the serious issues plaguing our society to be turned down to a comfortable volume where it can be easily ignored.

Because of this fundamental failure of generations of Americans to address both universal existential threats and centuries of specific harms visited unjustly on minority communities, these problems are worse today than they ever have been.

We must resist the calls to turn down the volume. We must turn up the volume.

Wrangling Metaphenomena

This semester, a professor in one of my classes made the claim that almost no person or organization is aware or its core principles. Maybe they have some vague nonsense mission statement or political identity that could be used to argue literally anything, and that’s basically the point. They don’t have a set of claims upon which all of their conclusions rest cogently and consistently. This is the first in a series of essays where I will try to identify what are my core principles.

Last year, a great mentor of mine heard that I had gotten a degree in queer studies, and he had apparently also gotten a similar degree about forty years ago. And he asked me, “What is the central claim of queer theory?” Well there is not one and that’s kind of the point. It talks about itself and frequently contradicts itself in order to critically examine epistemic and ontological structures ad infinitum. Like there is no core thesis and that’s sort of the core thesis.

Ok so I recently wrote a term paper arguing that identity and orientation are not two-dimensional matrices of self and target but rather a chaotic intersection of countless dimensions of factors from biology and socialization and interpersonal interactions et cetera et cetera. That each person stands at a unique intersection of an unimaginable number of chaotic variables, and the way that they overlap and interact is what gives rise not only to our identities but also to our orientations, and that those can change over time.

I have degrees in Sociology, Social Justice, Women’s Studies, LGBT Studies, and Queer Studies among others, and this theory is the only one I’ve ever seen that accurately fits all the data I’ve observed and learned about, including the contents of the Variations in Sexuality class whose term paper I am referring to.

Ok next, I have a great mentor who once said to me that there are at least as many genders and orientations as there are people, and I think this was a missing first-principle that allowed me to formulate this broader conclusion.

Another point that I made in the essay is that of the inverse relationship between precision and accuracy when making any claim about a complex, chaotic system like gender or weather or gas particles, etc. The more abstract a claim is (the less precise), the more accurate it can be. This is actually a series of laws in math called Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems which is a whole ‘nother can of worms that I explore in depth in that essay I mentioned above.

This is called a metaphenomena; a thing that happens at the point where countless chaotic other things interact to create it as a side-effect. The weather can not exist without a global system of trillions of trillions of gas particles interacting with gravitation, fission, etc, etc to create it. What’s the temperature today? You just can’t get there without the rest of it.

Metaphenomena can not be understood accurately without understanding the incalculable number of random things that interacted to create it in unpredictable ways. Needless to say, that is fundamentally impossible. Therefore, what truths can we learn and say about metaphenomena?

Sociology was founded on the failure of cybernetics and systems theory to model complex chaotic systems. Sociology argues that despite the fundamental impossibility to accurately model complex chaotic systems, it is possible to learn about statistical trends and clusters within a population.

The fundamental question is how can we wrangle, contend with, intuit, understand, or make accurate predictions about complex, chaotic metaphenomena like gender, sexual orientation, the weather, gas particles, etc?

We just can’t, and that’s a law of reality. What we can do it make claims and assumptions that are limited by clear and specific caveats about their samples. There is no way to study all of humanity. There is absolutely a way to draw a statistically significant population of white male american students at a particular research university. And we should say that whenever we discuss the takeaways from such research. There is no claim that can be made about all of humanity based on a sample of white male american students at a particular research university.

Freud’s fundamental mistake was assuming that the people he studied in insane asylums in Vienna were a representative sample of all humans everywhere throughout the entire past and future, and it’s a lesson that essentially all researchers have failed to learn; conclusions must be qualified with caveats about the necessary limitations of the sample they are based on.

Variations in Sexuality

CJ Trowbridge

2020-12-06

SOC 400 – Term Paper

I have struggled since my first degrees in Sociology and LGBT Studies and throughout this class to find a concise and plausible scientific explanation accounting for the development of diverse sexual orientations in humans. I think I’ve finally identified one that works. The ideas of sex, gender, and sexual orientation are a reductive and imprecise heuristic of human behavior which — through prediscursive construction — resist scientific examination despite lacking evidentiary support.

Let’s start with two quick examples. In the seventeenth century, a scientist named Mendeleev tried to create a system for categorizing molecules based on their properties. (Sutton, 2019) He created the first periodic table of the elements. (Sutton, 2019) What he was trying to do is create a simple two-dimensional system where everything is arranged merely into rows and columns. Things in the same row share certain properties. Things in the same column share certain properties. Knowing where something is would mean you can leverage a heuristic or shortcut to predict its properties. The problem with this model is that we have learned countless new things since then which do not fit, and every new thing adds another missing dimension which is not included in the model. The heuristic shortcut breaks down because it introduces errors into our assumptions. For example, there are often many versions of each element called isotopes and they all have different properties not illustrated in the model; this could be seen as the missing third dimension. But then the patterns of many things like electronegativity, ion charge, and oxidation numbers do not follow the table’s layout. (Scerri, 2012) Our two-dimensional model is now twenty-dimensional, and the categories Mendeleev established already don’t make any sense. We have also learned that these “elements” and not truly elemental, but made up of smaller components. (Sutton 2020) It’s a case where a simple model intended as a heuristic shortcut is invalidated as we learn more detail about the underlying systems.

As a second example, there is the shoreline problem. How many kilometers long is the shoreline of Britain? If you look from far away, it seems like there is a clear answer, but the closer you look and the more detail you add, the bigger the number becomes. (Giaimo, 2016) There is no true and correct answer which fits all cases. Instead, we see an inverse relationship between accuracy and precision; the closer you look, the harder it is to feel confident about your answer.

These are examples of a larger idea called Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems from mathematical logic. The basic argument is that there are inherent limitations in all modeling systems, and no system of symbolism can be complete. (Raatikainen, 2020) In essence, no map of the world can be a better map than the world is of itself, and the closer you get, the worse your map is. I bring this up because much of the modern social sciences including Sociology have evolved in part from two earlier sciences called Cybernetics and Systems Theory. These early sciences tried to produce accurate models of complex systems like economies and society. (Curtis, 2011, 6:48-10:15) Instead of trying to create precise models of linear relationships between cause and effect in complex systems, they learned it was more accurate to adopt a nuanced understanding of multiple overlapping factors contributing to an outcome. (Curtis, 2011, 10:15-10:42) This is the solution to all the examples I’ve given here. If we likewise accept that there is no correct answer to the problem of categorizing all people into a discrete set of prescribed identities, then we can discuss precision and probability in a broader spectrum of possible identities and orientations.

Around the same time Mendeleev was categorizing elements, Magnus Hirschfeld was categorizing sexuality. Before Hirschfeld’s work in the nineteenth century, the idea that people had a sexual orientation was not a commonly accepted idea. (LeVay, 1991, p. 163) Hirschfeld made the classic scientific error. He ignored the long history of examples when different kinds of sex were normalized between different gender groups, privileging instead the cultural assumptions he had as a result of his own socialization. He reduced everyone to a binary gender and a binary partner. (LeVay, 1991, p. 35) Within decades, scientists like Alfred Kinsey had thoroughly debunked this idea using experimental data to show that most people do not fit Hirschfeld’s theory. (LeVay, 1991, p. 8)

Judith Butler said, “Are the ostensibly natural facts of sex discursively produced by various scientific discourses in the service of other political and social interests? If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps this construct called “sex” is as culturally constructed as gender; indeed, perhaps it was always already gender, with the consequence that the distinction between sex and gender turns out to be no distinction at all… gender is not to culture as sex is to nature; gender is also the discursive/cultural means by which “sexed nature” or “a natural sex” is produced and established as “prediscursive,” prior to culture, a politically neutral surface on which culture acts… This production of sex as the prediscursive ought to be understood as the effect of the apparatus of cultural construction designated by gender.” (Butler 1990, p. 10)

Foucault said that humans perceive the world through a series of “sieves” or “screens,” each of which slightly alters or colors our perception, leading each individual to a completely different final image of a given situation. (Foucault, 1971, 18:33-22:19) These final images are wholly inaccurate from any objective perspective since no two people would see the same thing in the same situation. Foucault’s “sieves” are the discourses or social ideas that we have. Some examples of discourses that color our perception include things like sex and gender and therefore sexual orientation, but also the idea that any of these things exists at all.

While I don’t deny that most people are socialized to identify with a particular gender and feel attraction to others who identify with particular genders, these ideas and behaviors vary widely across cultures and throughout history from Ancient Greece (LeVay, 1991, p. 12) to the modern Fa’afafine of Samoa. (Vasey, 2016) It’s easy for anyone to make claims about humanity founded on assumptions from their own culture which don’t fit all the available evidence. It is more accurate and less culturally contingent to argue that categories like sex and gender are merely the social performance of the way each person we meet is experiencing the overlap of countless semi-random biological and social factors that contribute to a unique expression of characteristics.

An intersex mentor once told me that there are at least as many genders and orientations as there are people. Just like the shoreline problem, any attempt at a more precise definition of sex, gender, and sexual orientation must necessarily become less accurate than this very abstract explanation. Sex, gender, and sexual orientation are like elements on Mendeleev’s table arranged in two dimensions. These categories started out as an attempt to create simple boxes to place all individuals into. The problem is that the closer we look, the more examples we see where these categories do not accurately account for the countless other dimensions which they purport to include. Therefore, sexual orientation starts from a basis of reductive inaccuracy and arrives at a conclusion that cannot possibly reflect reality.

LaVey covers many of these missing dimensions of sex, gender, and sexual orientation in the book “Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why.” For example, there is a structure in the human brain called INAH3. These structures are considered a sex characteristic. This means they vary across the population and correlate to a person’s gender identity (LeVay, 1991, p. 161) and sexual orientation (LeVay, 1991, p. 107). INAH3 is one of many brain structures which despite correlating to sex, gender, and sexual orientation cannot be used on its own to reliably determine a person’s gender identity and preferred sexual behaviors. Instead, it forms part of a broader holistic view of hundreds of similar body structures and other social and environmental factors like facial structure (Malvina et al, 2013, 1377), natal testosterone levels (LeVay, 1991, p. 28) and the number of older brothers a person has (LeVay, 1991, p. 135). All of these correlate to some degree with a person’s gender identity and preferred sexual behaviors, but none of them correlates 100%, and even taken together there are always exceptions. It simply can not be said that for any individual throughout history and across cultures, a given set of observations about their physical and social characteristics will 100% predict their innate and permanent gender identity and sexual orientation.

Just like we saw in those first two examples, it’s easy to make superficial claims about individuals and groups based on our own culture and experience. However, the more we learn about the details and background beyond these superficial claims, the more these claims fall apart. Just like with shoreline measurements, there is an inverse relationship between accuracy and precision when making claims about the identities of people based on evidence. The more detail we add, the more confounding third-factors we introduce, and the claim that people have some determinable gender and sexual orientation quickly falls apart. Based on the evidence, the truth seems to be that like height, body shape, skin color, and all other physical and behavioral characteristics, sex and sexual orientation are diverse multidimensional spectra where countless sub-factors overlap in chaotic and interesting ways to produce a wide variety of people and experiences.

 

Works Cited

Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble. London: Taylor and Francis.

Curtis, A. (2011, June 06) The Use and Abuse of Vegetational Concepts. Film. BBC.

Foucault, M. (1971, November). The Chomsky-Foucault Debate On Human Nature. Retrieved December 06, 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wfNl2L0Gf8

Giaimo, C. (2016, October 07). Why It’s Impossible to Know a Coastline’s True Length. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/why-its-impossible-to-know-a-coastlines-true-length

LeVay, S. (2011). Gay, straight, and the reason why: The science of sexual orientation. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Raatikainen, P. (2020, April 02). Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/goedel-incompleteness/

Scerri, E. (2012, January 01). Trouble in the periodic table. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://edu.rsc.org/feature/trouble-in-the-periodic-table/2020266.article

Skorska, Malvina N, Geniole, Shawn N, Vrysen, Brandon M, McCormick, Cheryl M, & Bogaert, Anthony F. (2015). Facial Structure Predicts Sexual Orientation in Both Men and Women. Archives of Sexual Behavior., 44(5), 1377-1394.

Sutton, C. (2020, December 01). Subatomic particle. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.britannica.com/science/subatomic-particle

Sutton, M. (2019, January 02). The father of the periodic table. Retrieved December 06, 2020, from https://www.chemistryworld.com/features/the-father-of-the-periodic-table/3009828.article

Vasey, P. (2016, November 16) No Dodos: What Cross-Cultural Research Tells us About Why Homosexual Males Do Not Become Extinct. Retrieved December 06, 2020 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m939SyfQqow

 

XXI

“Drunk one night, Sarah had told me Women are the race… No two ways about it. Male is just a mutation with more muscle and half the nerves. Fighting, fucking machines… To be a woman was a sensory experience beyond the male. Touch and texture ran deeper, an interface with environment that male flesh seemed to seal out instinctively. To a man, skin was a barrier, a protection. To a woman, it was an organ of contact. That had its disadvantages. In general, and maybe because of this, female pain thresholds ran higher than male…”
― From Altered Carbon

I think it was always inevitable. Maybe they knew that and it’s what caused them to treat women the way they did. Arthur C Clarke wrote in Childhood’s End about the collective unconscious of humanity fearing things associated with its future transition to the next level of existence. Scholars and mystics have speculated that perhaps a similar group premonition fueled some part of the misogyny of the past.

Genetic males have an X and a Y chromosome. Genetic females have two X chromosomes with no Y chromosome. Since women have no Y chromosome, all the children born to X/X couples were female. By the early twenty-first century, it was possible for women’s skin cells to be used to fertilize other women’s egg cells. Through a similar process, it also became trivially easy for women to choose between the sperm provided by male partners and select one with an X chromosome rather than a Y chromosome. In the popular lexicon, these practices were called XXI or X-chromosome/X-chromosome impregnation. Women now had a simple tool which spelled the end of men. That was the first point at which the patriarchy saw it was on life support and knew its days were numbered.

Within a century, these practices became widespread. Women had suffered for millenia under patriarchy, and the idea of simply choosing not to create any more men became a core tenet of fourth-wave feminism. By 2045, XXI clinics outnumbered abortion clinics. As a result, the female population quickly grew and spread as people around the world embraced XXI. Within a generation, men were a shrinking minority of the population.

You’d think that facing their own extinction, men would take a conciliatory tone and try to ameliorate the historical impacts of their actions in order to earn the forgiveness of women. While it’s true that some men wanted to make peace, those few still holding the reins of the world did not; unending war for power and control was all they knew. They doubled down. Despite the fact that the biosphere was well into its collapse, they focused on legislating male supremacy. The last days of the patriarchy were the worst. Food and water supplies around the world were collapsing, more than half of the species had gone extinct, but the laws the patriarchs passed were concerned with banning XXI and enshrining male supremacy at every level of the legal system. Abortion was also banned as “an attack on men’s rights.” Feminism was effectively outlawed throughout most of the developed world. Ironically, it was because of strong international borders under patriarchy that many developing countries became fertility destinations where women could travel to undergo XXI.

It was around this time that a small group of white male libertarian entrepreneurs announced they were pouring billions into developing what they called XYI. They promised a life without women, where men could be born from machines without the need for mothers. Importantly, they also called for widespread violence against women including attacks on any XXI clinics and death to any XXI doctors. As a direct response to this threat, Magdalena Thunberg, grand-daughter of Greta Thunberg emerged as the leader of what she called the Feminist Liberation Front. She made public statements online explaining that while XXI was not an attack on men, XYI was an attack on women. She declared war on the establishment and swore to end the threat once and for all.

The Feminist Liberation Front conducted a series of bombings targeting XYI research and development facilities. The FLF also conducted a series of targeted assassinations of the white male libertarian leaders patterned after the successful strategy of the Irish Republican Army’s from the previous century. The unrest spread around the world and resulted in widespread chaos wherever the patriarchy still held power.

Women had worked for generations to slowly take over all major governments around the world.  There was a tipping point at the end of the twenty-first century with the rise of the FLF. The patriarchy could no longer hold onto the reins of power. Once a critical mass of women had taken those reins, they began to undo the harms of the patriarchy. But instead of working to exterminate men like the men had done to them, the women struck the missing conciliatory tone.

The first One-World Congress took place in 2075. In the keynote speech on the first day of the conference, Magdalena The Liberator, grand-daughter of Greta Thunberg, called for the end of international borders and the full devotion of all of humanity’s resources to the cause of finally halting the collapse of the biosphere, feeding and sheltering everyone, and restoring the natural world to whatever degree was still possible. She also called for ongoing compassion towards the now miniscule male population. “We must,” she argued, “strive to avoid the empire that the patriarchy sought. Instead, we must blaze a new path towards an alternative system for humanity which values all individuals. We must build a system which works to support the needs of all individuals and which empowers everyone to thrive. The era of the god-king is over, the age of the first universal human republic must begin.”

The conference adopted all of Magdalena’s recommendations, and that was the beginning of the Earth Republic. All the old nations became states. Many of the state borders were redrawn to reflect the way people actually organized, erasing the Kissinger doctrine of using national borders to deliberately create conflict and destabilize peaceful neighbors.

Over time, the remaining male population learned to accept its place as part of the whole rather than seeking to be master of the whole. In her last interview, Magdalena the Liberator said, “I really don’t think it could have happened any other way. Hegemonic totalitarianism has never voluntarily given up power. The patriarchy needed to be usurped without acceding to its methods. A hundred years ago, people argued that Hillary Clinton would be the end of the patriarchy if she became president, but she would merely have been an extension of it. You can’t make an unjust system just by putting a marginalized person in charge of it. You must change the system fundamentally. It needed to be dismantled without using its own methods, and that’s what we did. ”

“Then do you regret using violence during the FLF campaigns,” the reporter asked.

“No,” Magdalena replied, “Self-defense is not patriarchy. Patriarchy is demanding power and control over others because your male gender is superior. That’s not what we did, we defended the right of women to exist, not to rule over men as queens in place of kings. We worked together to change the fundamentals of our world and that’s the only way we could have survived as a species. The human project became a collective effort rather than a hierarchical struggle for power and resources. And it happened just in time, because…”

Misogynoir and Reproductive Conversations

Prompt: Why are we so afraid of reproductive technologies?” Who is “we?”

Intro

Systems of oppression exist on three levels. First, the pervasive and ubiquitous sociocultural level which encompasses all the ideas (or discourses) in our society’s collective culture. Second, the institutional level, where people enact the sociocultural discourses as policy in order to make the institutions act in a way which reflects the sociocultural discourses. Third is the personal level, where individuals apply sociocultural discourses both internally and externally in interpersonal relationships.

Systemic racism is a pattern which exists on all three levels. This pattern of systemic racism is made up of the aggregate action of small interpersonal racist microaggressions. These acts reinforce the larger system and do its work.

Systemic sexism is also a pattern which exists on all three levels. This pattern of systemic sexism is made up of the aggregate action of small interpersonal sexist microaggressions. These acts reinforce the larger system and do its work.

All systems of oppression are different but they all work in the same way.

In her book Down Girl, Kate Manne explains that microaggressions are what she calls “down-moves.” Or a move intended to confer that its target is not a subject, a person with agency, but rather an object without agency. Microaggressions are fundamentally acts which serve to “other” and dehumanize people on the basis of their marginalized identities.

I created this graph to illustrate the flow of actions from discourse to impact through the system…

Since systemic racism and systemic sexism are normalized in a pervasive sociocultural way, they are everywhere and they inform everything that happens in our society.

As you can see, the discourses of oppression flow down from the sociocultural level through institutions to individuals. Then individuals internalize and act on those discourses. The actions aggregate to form systems of oppression which constitutes a cycle. This cycle is called the cycle of socialization. Here is a flowchart showing the same process from the perspective of the flow of discourses and actions rather than the structure of the system.

In her book Sister Outsider and specifically the essay There Is No Hierarchy of Oppression, Audre Lorde expands on this idea to explain that while it’s not possible to rank women or black people in terms of who has more or less oppression, we do know that black women have significantly more oppression than black people or women do separately, or even added together. Marginalized identities do not add together when they overlap, but rather they multiply. This idea of the amplification of overlapping marginalized identities is called Intersectionality.

Part 1

It is therefore helpful to answer the prompt’s question with regard to a specific intersectional dynamic and its expression within the context of the cycle of socialization.

In her essay, Explanation Of Misogynoir, Trudy explains how racism and anti-Blackness alter the experience of misogyny for Black women, specifically. In another essay, she goes into some depth on the specific issue of reproductive rights for black women.

Indeed, we see that discussions of reproductive rights are essentially all simply arguments for racism and misogyny masquerading as a discussion about reproductive rights. In her essay Racism, Birth Control, and Reproductive Rights, Angela Davis gives a litany of examples and further deconstructs the background which has led to the use of reproductive rights as a mask for racism and misogyny. The fundamental argument against reproductive rights always being that women — particularly black women — should be robbed of the agency to make their own decisions on the basis that they are not as qualified to make those decisions as white men are qualified to make those decisions for them.

In one sentence, we see how the entire discussion of reproductive rights boils down to a simultaneous down-move against women and black people, but especially against black women.

Anecdotally, I have discussed with colleagues a relevant and recent social phenomena which illustrates the point from another perspective. In social media vanguardism, people like me create content which is intended to arm people with discourses and ideas to critically analyze many of the situations we face together in our culture today. Historically, these types of content are often met with some subset of replies being terse down-moves such as “faggot,” “there are only two genders,” “show us your tits,” etc. During the Trump presidency, we saw a sudden disappearance of those overt replies. They were replaced instead with comments like “Trump 2020,” “blue lives matter,” or “all lives matter.” I submit that in this context, these symbols are a mask to cover up the real intention of the people who use them. And now that Trump has lost the election, this mask has disappeared, and we see a move back to more overt down-moves intended to dehumanize and objectify directly rather than indirectly.

The idea of a public debate about whether or not black women should have agency over their own bodies is necessarily, fundamentally, always racist and misogynistic. It is not possible to ask the question without the implication that it might be true. The agency of humans is not something that can be ethically debated. Consider functionally identical questions like “Are there too many Jews?” or “Is the third world overpopulated?” These questions take the same approach of inviting the reader to question whether some kinds of people really are people, or whether they are objects to be manipulated without agency or ethical concern.

In the article, Why Are We So Afraid of Each New Advance in Reproductive Technology?, author Sarah Richards explains a medical experiment done on Chinese children to introduce a Norwegian mutation called CCR5-Delta32. (I have this mutation as a Norwegian-American.) This mutation confers some HIV immunity onto people who have it. It actually only protects against one of several forms of HIV so it’s not a cure-all and people who have it are only at lower risk of HIV, not completely immune to HIV. The problem is that the scientists did not properly inform the patients of the risks they were undertaking. The scientists robbed Chinese children of agency and treated them as lab rats for a dangerous experiment without informing the families of the risks.

 

Part 2

To address the second part of the prompt, in this case, the “We” is anyone within the sociocultural landscape. That means everyone. We all engage with discourses perpetrated by a fundamentally racist and sexist system.

Audre Lorde in her book Sister Outsider said that trying to survive as a black woman in America is like trying to survive in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon.

The cycle of socialization feeds itself and gets stronger all the time. But there is a solution. That solution is two-fold. First, we need to learn about people experiencing marginalization. We need to read their writings. We need to understand how it’s happening. We need to listen to their demands for change. We need to learn about the theories their ideas are based on. We need to explore Critical Theory in order to interrogate power structures like systemic racism and systemic sexism. We need to learn about Black Epistemic systems, Feminist Epistemic systems, and other marginalized epistemologies in order to articulate and defend the ethical and philosophical solutions which the leaders of marginalized communities are asking for.

Second, we need to develop actions based on an understanding of theory which create change in the world. This process is called praxis. One excellent illustration of this process comes from Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, the same source as the cycle of socialization shown above…

Learning to critically analyze the discourses we are socialized to, within the context of an understanding of the ethical and philosophical perspectives of marginalized communities allows us to question those discourses rather than running them on autopilot like we always have. Only then can we take steps to challenge the discourses to which our culture is socialized.

The reason our culture is so afraid of reproductive technologies is that our racist, sexist culture is socialized to treat black women as objects rather than people, stealing their agency and giving it instead to white men who are then empowered to rule over them and make decisions for them. Only by learning about the hidden premises and interrogating the power structures which underpin these issues can we break the cycle of socialization and make progress in ameliorating the intolerable conditions facing black people and women in our culture.

 

It *HAS* to be you.

Sorry this will be long and I’m asking something unreasonable of you.
 
First, there was a dude named Alinsky who wrote a book called “Rules for Radicals.” I’m happy to share a copy of the audiobook. It was a simple set of rules for how to build communities. It spawned the field we now know as “Community Organizing.” Hillary Clinton wrote her thesis about this book. Barack Obama based his career on this book. I think in both cases, their core mistake was being first a neoliberal and therefore never truly examining their core assumptions before addressing the rules Alinsky developed. (The definition of radicalism is examining the root causes and neoliberals by definition are not able to do that.)
 
Two, Alisnky’s rules, and what I’m about to say are sort of dangerous. They would be equally valuable to a nazi versus a progressive (Though Alinsky was a Jew so nazis seem unlikely to embrace him). In either case the rules show you how to build an extremely focused and powerful group capable of doing whatever you want. I used these rules to build a powerful antifascist organization in the Sierras last year which successfully dismantled multiple neo-nazi cells and did a lot more than that to be extremely aggressive in demanding progress from the institutions in place.
 
Third, I recently took a class called “Black Online – Cyberspace, Culture, and Community” as part of my Racial Resistance degree. For the final project, I created a simple manifesto which was a synthesis of Alinskyan Tactics and social-media-based anti-racism.
 
Fourth, the main argument I made is that when you say some really wild anti-racist shit or some really wild hard-marxist shit like “let’s start exterminating landlords,” people will react. The most important thing you can do is pay attention to who LOVES it (not likes it, LOVES it) and who gets MAD. Feel free to be vicious to the ones who get mad, chase them away, this will give you more opportunities to see who stans you. Alinsky is drooling in his grave watching you. Those who love what you’re doing are your stans. Stans are the foundation of the machine you *could* build to do the thing you’re talking about.
 
The conclusion of my manifesto was that it *has* to be you. It can only be you. Whoever you are, whatever you’re talking about; it has to be you. If you believe in what you’re doing then do it; make it your cause. Kant said we can only consider the merit of our actions in terms of what the world would be like if everyone did what we are doing. If everyone shied away from the challenge of progress then nothing would ever change and nothing would ever get done. You don’t have to change the world but when someone deletes you; that should be the best feeling. Everything about who you are is a choice. You can choose to compromise your truth for those people that disagree with it, or you can choose to live honestly and let your surroundings reflect your truth. If you are right, then living honestly will make the world a better place.

“Intelligence” Is A Racist Lie

Sapiophilia

IQ tests, SAT tests, GMAT tests, etc are racist. “Preferences” for people who score high on these tests are preferences for people who are a part of white culture.

Let’s look at some examples of statistical racism to illustrate exactly why this idea that “intelligence is a real thing” is so problematic. Statistical racism is a form of prediscursive construction; observing an outcome and falsely characterizing it as the cause.

Gender is an example of prediscursive construction. Because society creates gender, it exists; and yet it is falsely claimed that society believes in it because it’s a natural fact. Here are several examples of statistically racist claims which allow false arguments to be made about the relative “merit” or “ability” of people in different racial groups.

Statistical Racism: Race and IQ

Let’s start here. This is a graph of IQ scores based on race. There are a lot of problems here. As one example of how the IQ test is racist, one component scores test takers based on word association. The test giver will say a word and you say the first word you think of. The fancier your response, the smarter you must be. Another example is watching you try to make shapes out of blocks. If you haven’t had exposure to hands-on learning or had lots of toys as a child, then you won’t do as well. The list of reasons goes on and on.

The problem is that people see this graph and argue that these results reflect the natural genetic ability of people in these groups. In reality, there is more genetic diversity among people in a racial group than there is for people between racial groups. The idea that races are genetic is just not true.

Statistical Racism: SAT Scores By Race

Here is another graph of sat scores by race. This one it easy. Lots of affluent white-culture words like “regatta” appear in questions on the SAT. This privileges people who are familiar with affluent white-culture. Additionally, concepts from math and science are more available to students who go to better funded schools; that means white kids. This test measures the wealth of the neighborhood that kids grew up in, not their ability or “intelligence.”
Statistical Racism: Various Test Scores By Race
Here is another set of test scores broken out by race including gmat. As you can see, the same trend follows. There is no genetic difference between these groups. The tests are measuring the quality of education the kids have received and the relative wealth of the neighborhoods they grew up in.
In all of these cases, the results of generational poverty, racial profiling, and education underfunding are showing up in the test results of kids based on the neighborhoods they came from and the opportunities for advancement they were given. This result is then presented as evidence that these groups of kids are somehow fundamentally different, and “intelligence” is the name given to what’s different about the groups.
This claim is categorically false and categorically racist.

The Core Strength of Community-Centered Activism Built on Radical Queer Anarcho-Communism

One of the huge advantages of anarcho-communist radical queer organizations comes as a deliberate result of the way they were constructed. Early gay leaders like Harry Hay started nonprofits like Mattachine Society in order to advocate for gay rights from within the structures of the political establishment.
 
At the time, COINTELPRO was an FBI program designed to dismantle these kinds of organizations through infiltration and even assassinations. This happened to many civil rights organizations from black liberation to gay liberation. Harry Hay’s Mattachine Society was dismantled by FBI infiltrators who got elected to the board and fired him, closing the organization.
 
At the time, Harry Hay was a member of the American Communist Party and a member of multiple Antifa groups. This led him and others to articulate a new kind of activist organization which would be constructed to be impossible to dismantle.
 
Activist nonprofits are focused on reacting to a status quo by critiquing it hierarchically and calling for incremental change.
 
In the new era architected by Hay and others, an ancom radical queer organization should be focused first on queering; on the active verb sense of the word, rather than the adjective form. Instead of arguing for legal progress, we should be having queer orgies. Instead of being against our oppressors we should be for ourselves, being the thing we would be without them. Activism becomes secondary.
 
The key advantage with this new model is the fact that it is fundamentally impossible to infiltrate or dismantle an organization like this. Any hierarchical power in the hands of boards or executives is designed and intended to be weak. Anyone can and should speak out against the decisions of people in power on the basis of the principles upon which these organizations are built. Committee life is horrible, and it’s supposed to be that way because if it’s possible to have Caesars, then the organization will be dismantled. This is the fundamental argument behind this type of organizational structure.
Space Force Narc
 I took this photo of myself at Burning Man with a person wearing a law-enforcement issued respirator who introduced himself by describing clearly fake sexual predilections and then asking where he could get drugs. I believe his exact words were, “I like balls. Who knows where I can get mushrooms?”
Buy-bust is a common law-enforcement tactic; they show up and ask for drugs and then arrest anyone who gives any indication that they know anything about drugs. At Burning Man, the police can use this strategy as the basis for probable cause to conduct searches of entire blocks with hundreds of people based on the argument that these people are associated with the same organization.
 
Needless to say, this person was immediately ejected by an entire community who knew why he was there and which was carefully designed to thwart exactly this kind of intrusion. This is the strength of having a community-centered approach to activism. If the community notices an outsider who is clearly not a part of the community, then the community can act to insulate and expel threats.

The Slow-Motion Mass Suicide Of American Neo-Conservatism

I’m sure you’ve heard the claim, “You’ll get more conservative as you get older.” Throughout the middle of the twentieth century, the reality was that our society was designed to kill anyone who wasn’t a conservative. In the last six months, this trend has reversed in a big way.

War and racism were the two most fundamental forces behind the creation of the “middle class” after World War 2. For the first time, the GI bill and FHA program handed trillions of dollars to white conservatives and funded the creation of the suburbs. “White flight” saw an enormous swathe of the urban tax base and white population leave to create new enclaves outside the cities. As an institution, the suburbs became an extension of the ideology of the class of people for whom they were created. Bans on ethnic minorities were common in these new white enclaves, and black people were specifically exempted from access to much of the government’s white-flight funding. Locally funded education in the new suburban enclaves meant white suburbanites withheld funding for urban communities; carefully denying access to quality education to entire generations of the urban minorities.

While that government money kept flowing, the suburbs continued to grow and prosper. At the same time, white flight flight meant the diverse urban landscapes continued to suffer. Since then, the Keynesian multiplier has been running its course in those suburban enclaves. Real estate markets still play a central role in recycling the trillions that were handed to white conservatives, with homes doubling or tripling in “value” and exchanging hands to fund small businesses and education, so the next generation of white conservatives can continue the work of cultivating their dystopian anti-community vision of a segregated, reactionary world.

For these reasons and many more, our society has long punished and systematically exterminated non-conservatives and especially non-whites. For example, there are significant differences in life expectancy between black and white people living in the same neighborhoods, even in the San Francisco Bay Area. Those differences are much more extreme in the more common highly-segregated neighborhoods in the bay area.

One side effect of the systematic extermination of non-whites and non-conservatives is the fact that white conservatives get to vote more times in their lives since they live longer. Also, because of gerrymandering and centuries of racial voter suppression efforts, white conservative voices in America count for more than black non-conservative voices.

All of that changed very suddenly in 2020. Let’s look at two graphs…

Ideological trends with generations

Coronavirus mortality rate by age

Statistically in America, the generations that are oldest right now are also the most conservative. Another thing that comes with age is risk of death from coronavirus. This connection alone is already enough to scare many pundits into fearing that the ongoing leftward demographic shifts will be dramatically accelerated by the effects of the pandemic. Some have gone so far as to speculate that the mass death forecast for the president’s core voter base could cost him the election.

It is perhaps ironic therefore that his strategy has been to do nothing and pretend it will go away. Maybe it’s ironic that the white conservative movement in America decided to achieve consensus on several salient points. These older white conservatives — the people most at risk — tend to think coronavirus is not real or exaggerated. The same people also refuse to take even the most basic health precautions.  This rejection of reality amplifies the potential impact of the pandemic.

For this reason, the long-standing trend of systematic extermination of non-conservatives has suddenly been reversed, as conservatives hoist themselves high on their own petards, committing this final act of mass suicide in defense of their core principle of rejecting evidence and focusing on ideological divisions instead.

 

Black Online – Cyberspace, Culture, and Community: Final Project

The final project for this class was to create a tool people can use for building communities of racial justice online. Here is the outline, and the PDF of the final project.

  • How to create structural change in organizations and institutions plagued by systemic racism and anti-blackness. (especially online institutions)
  • We live in a culture of pervasive anti-blackness and systemic racism.
    • All institutions, communities, and groups must necessarily reflect that system by default to at least some degree.
    • The default mode, as Jessie Daniels points out in “Race, Civil Rights, and Hate Speech in the Digital Era,” is often to do this covertly without even realizing this is what they are doing.
    • Throughout their careers, both MLK and Malcolm X pointed out that well-meaning white liberals are the worst enemy black people have when they profess to want racial progress but refuse to lift a finger to get there by practicing critical self-examination to see how they are contributing to systemic racism and benefiting from it.
  • Your group reflects systemic racism and anti-blackness because all groups do.
    • What is the population your group claims to represent?
      • Is it America? The world? The SF Bay Area?
    • Measure the group’s structural racism and talk about it:
      • What kind of people have the power to make decisions for the group?
      • How different is the group of decision makers from the demographics of the population they claim to represent?
      • How do the rules and guidelines of the group reflect and reinforce systemic racism?
      • How are black voices silenced or excluded?
    • Before you can change the system, you need to build a powerful coalition…
      • First, a line needs to be drawn between two subgroups:
        • Some people want to embrace progress. Find them and connect with them!
        • Some people want to “leave politics out” or gatekeep who counts as part of the community. These are the racist white liberals who MLK and Malcolm X warned us about. These are the people on the other side of the line we are drawing. Outright white supremacists in the group will be indistinguishable from white liberals. This is the covert racism Jessie Daniels tells us about.
      • Your ideas are tools: a meme is any idea which spreads through culture. Memes are the tools for transforming the group. Create and share memes and ideas which speak to the people who are on your side, and show you who is not on your side.
        • For online communities this can be literal memes.
        • For in-person communities it can be ideas like
          • “Let’s switch to equal opportunity hiring.”
          • “Let’s work on racism in the organization.”
          • “Let’s work on closing the wage gap.”
        • Whether online or in-person, some people will roll their eyes while others will smile and engage. People on both sides of the line will do the work of telling you which side they are on. Just show them the line and they will pick a side.
        • Pay attention to the responses you get when you talk about racial progress. Make a list of those who agree with you, and organize them into a coalition.
          • Start group chats and build connections between people who share your belief that structural change is needed to achieve racial progress in the organization.
          • Pay special attention to those in power who are on your side and those who are not.
          • Save screenshots of any problematic behavior for later use.
        • Demand Specific Change
          • In the words of Quellcrist Falconer, power is not a static structure, it’s a flow system. Systemic racism is a system where power and resources flow to white people at the expense of black people. We need to change the flow, the structure that the group is built on.
          • The demographics of the people in power making decisions needs to reflect the population. Demand black representation on the board, on the admin team, on the mod team.
          • No matter what kind of group it is, resources are flowing from some people to other people. Even if no one is getting paid, money is changing hands. Whose hands is it going to, and does the demographics of that group reflect the population the group claims to represent?
        • More Tools
        • It Has To Be You
          • It is only with the help of people like YOU that these groups and institutions can choose to deliberately cultivate a just alternative to the racist defaults in our society.
          • Only through empowering black people to make decisions for the group and have a representative share of the resources can an organization move away from systemic anti-blackness and racism and towards an equitable alternative.