Why Can’t Anti-Feminists At Least Engage in a Clean Fight?

Traveling from blog to blog, I alighted on a post called “Against Feminisms.” “Oh, curious,” I thought and decided to check this website out. I was immediately disappointed because it turned out to be one of those places that picks up the ideas of radical feminists, assigns them to all of us, and then denies that feminism has any value at all. Here is how this blog explains why feminism is wrong:

So here is my rationale for why I oppose ALL and EVERY FEMINIST THEORY.  If you are a feminist but do not subscribe to any of these assumptions/beliefs, then let me know. But I expect there is not one feminist who doesn’t broadly speaking accept these tenets:

1) Feminism is based on an assumption that overall, men as a group hold power in society and this power, damages women as a group.

2) The above assumption, no matter what feminists say, relies on a belief in and a reinforcement of the essentialist binary view of gender (i.e. that male v female men v women masculine v feminine are real and important distinctions. That is how feminists justify their belief that ‘men’ hold power over ‘women’)

3) This means that in order to present these assumptions as ‘fact’, men are demonised by feminism as a whole. Feminism is, by its very nature, misandrist. e.g. concepts such as ‘rape culture’  and ‘patriarchy’ and ‘violence against women and girls’ and  ‘the male gaze’ and ‘objectification’ rely on making out men are not decent people, in general,as a group. To be accepted as decent human beings, the onus is placed by feminists onto men to prove their worth, and to prove why they differ from the (socialised or innate) ‘norm’ of dominant masculinity.

There is a lot more, of course, but since these opening statements are completely an utterly false, then what’s the point of reading them? In a comment I left to this post, I wrote the following:

I’m a passionate feminist but I don’t uphold any of these beliefs you listed. I also find the terms such as ‘rape culture’ , ‘violence against women and girls’,  ‘the male gaze’ and ‘objectification’ to be silly, offensive, and deeply damaging to the cause of feminism. I’ve been blogging about it tirelessly for over two years.

Feminism is not about men holding power over women. It is about the essentialist understanding of gender limiting the lives of both men and women and oppressing men and women EQUALLY. Ergo, departing from this essentialist view of gender will eventually liberate men and women. Equally.

It’s easy, of course, to latch on to the rantings of some fanatic who sees all women as perennial victims coerced into every action they perform and condemn all feminists on the basis of this sort of fanaticism. Dumping on the lunatic fringe is fun. Hey, I do it all the time. But dismissing all feminists just because of what some far-out crazy says means you simply have nothing whatsoever to offer in response to actual, non-lunatic feminists.

FeMOMhist asks why feminists argue so much among themselves. Well, maybe it’s because the opponents of feminism are incapable of providing arguments that would even allow for an interesting discussion. And what’s life without an intelligent debate?

A Shocking Listing

I just saw a listing for a house in my town that is selling for $7,450,000. Seven and a half million dollars.

Taking into account that houses cost between $49,00 and $90,000 in this area, this is shocking. I saw a listing for a palace-like colonial-style house with columns and all for $102,000. So seven and a half million is a lot around here.

I heard there are rich farmers in the area, but wow.

Thinking About the Economy: Why Can’t We Be Like Canada?, Part II

The middle class and the small businesses in Canada carry a really harsh tax burden. There is just no comparison with the kind of tax rates I, as a college professor, pay here in the US and what a person in Quebec with a similar level of income has to shell out. Of course, having access to the really excellent Canadian healthcare system for free is a great benefit that people get in return for their taxes. This is undoubtedly so, and there is nothing to argue here about.

However, if we are talking about young professionals, these are people who don’t really need (for the most part) any ultra-expensive medical services. I’ve had many conversations with younger Canadians defending the healthcare system of Canada from their criticisms. (I’m a huge, huge fan of that system, in case you don’t know).  A young person who pays a humongous sum in taxes finds it difficult to be convinced that it will all make sense once he or she is 60 and in need of an expensive operation. Once again, working more and harder to bring your salary from one level to the next makes no immediate practical sense to people, since the salary increase will immediately push them into an even more highly taxed income bracket.

To give an example, my younger sister pays more in taxes per year than what I make in a year. She sees no return on those taxes because she has a private health insurance and no other welfare benefits are extended to her. She says she’d be much happier paying these taxes if she knew that they went directly to provide some professor’s salary. Sadly, this isn’t how it works.

So here you have a situation where quite a few people are discouraged from working at all. Many more realize that starting a business is too much trouble, and who needs the constant aggravation from the Ministry of Revenue? The Canadian tax people never persecute the large corporations, of course. They just choose some poor schmuck trying to run a small Mom and Pop business and squeeze him until he hands over everything he has and declares bankruptcy. They actually tell that to you face when you beg them to see reason and not fine you for an amount you simply do not possess.

Once again, please don’t dispute this point with me because I just finished talking on the phone with precisely this kind of poor Canadian schmuck who is going through this type of torture right now, and I’m understandably upset.

(To be continued. . .)

Thinking About the Economy: Why Can’t We Be Like Canada?, Part I

In the Liberal circles in the US, the Canadian system of welfare is often an object of envy. “Why can’t we provide the same social safety net that Canadians do?” people keep asking. I can’t tell you whether the welfare system of Canada can be transplanted to the US. However, as a proud citizen of that great country whose family and closest friends live there right now, I have to tell you that the Canadian system, as I see it, is deeply flawed. Over the years, I have come to believe that the Canadian version of “capitalism with a kind face” is a road to nowhere. Now, please don’t start getting angry already and just let me tell you why I think that.

My experience is mostly limited to the provinces of Quebec and Nova Scotia, so if things are dramatically different in other parts of the country, feel free to tell me that.

The system of welfare in Quebec seems to rely on the basic conviction that if a person doesn’t feel like working for whatever reason, then she or he should be allowed to do so and be provided with basic necessities by society. (In Nova Scotia, this idea is less strong but it’s still there, at least do a degree.) If you want to spend your entire life in Canada and not work for a single day, you can absolutely do that. Abusing the system is very easy. I keep seeing people who declare themselves indigent and permanently unemployed (or unemployed most of the year) and who have much more comfortable lifestyles that those poor losers who work day and night, pay ruinous taxes, and can’t scrounge up enough money for a vacation.

“Ha ha ha,” the welfare-recipients sometimes say to the working bees. “You’ve got to be silly or something. You work and work, and what have you got? I, in the meanwhile, am going on a cruise in the Caribbean on my welfare money.”

If somebody is experiencing the need right now to tell me that I’m making this up, don’t. You’ll just make a fool out of yourself. I have played the working bee part in such conversations and have witnessed my family members doing so very very recently. And yes, I’m angry about that.

Of course, as a result, people start getting discouraged from working. My sister has her own job recruitment agency in Montreal. She tells me that often, when she offers entry-level positions to young people, she hears, “Nah, the salary isn’t all that much more than what I’m getting on  the unemployment, so why bother?”

An entire generation of the over-entitled, nah-why-bother people grows up.

(To be continued. . .)

Thinking About the Economy: A Disclaimer

Today, we have started a really productive discussion of the economy here on the blog. The subject seems to be very popular and has generated a great response. Before we continue, though, I want to reiterate that I’m just starting to figure this stuff out. So if anybody arrives at a point where they experience a burning need to tell me that I’m clueless and ignorant of these issues, save your breath. I know I am. I sincerely applaud everybody who was born with a sophisticated knowledge of economics at their fingertips but I’m not one of such people.

All points of view are welcome and appreciated. These are issues that make tempers flare, so let’s try to be kind to each other as much as it’s possible on this topic.

Thinking About the Economy: The Introduction

I’m currently trying to figure out how the American economy works and elaborate my own position on the economic issues. Right now, I don’t have a definitive point of view because I simply don’t possess enough information to arrive at it. In the nearest future, I will be writing a series of posts that will record my attempts to create my personal approach to the issues of economy.  This series will be titled “Thinking About the Economy.”

For the most part, I’m not content with how the Liberal sources I access deal with the economic issues. Back in the Soviet Union, we were all really unhappy with the kind of economy we had. For us, everything that wasn’t similar to the only system we knew and abhorred had to be perfect. The logic behind this was that if the system we are familiar with sucks, then its exact opposite should be great. So we all worshiped capitalism as some kind of a paradise where everybody is rich, has cars, yachts and houses and is happy beyond belief.

In 1991, we were dragged by history through a rapid transition to capitalism. For many people, their first encounter with capitalism was deeply traumatic. We discovered that capitalism brought about very visible income inequalities (they always existed in the USSR, of course, but were often concealed from view), the need to offer yourself on the job market, compete and suffer rejection, the necessity to work really hard with no promise of success, the possibility of indigence that was hard to tolerate when you could see your neighbor getting rich and buying diamonds as a matter of course.

Many of us discovered they couldn’t deal with the new reality. Instead of offering us instant riches, capitalism brought many harsh demands that many people were not equipped to meet. The rewards seemed distant and the need to disinter the skills of entrepreneurship and hard work that had been beaten out of us over the decades of Communism was painful.

The reason why I’m telling you all this is that I see a very similar tendency currently at work in the US. People are only familiar with a single economic system, capitalism. They see its defects and believe that what’s needed is the exact opposite. I find this approach to the economy to be naive. Nothing annoys me more than arm-chair Marxists who believe they are militate on behalf of some vaguely defined proletariat they rarely even see.

When I say that collective ownership of the means of production results in an almost instant impoverishment of the population on a scale that Americans cannot even begin to imagine today, I speak from experience. I know that my experience of a person who grew up in the Soviet Union is not fashionable in the intellectual Liberal circles. Nobody wants to hear anything that contradicts their pipe-dream of Communism and socialism.

In the Soviet Union, whenever we heard that there was racism or poverty in the US, we always concluded that it was all just Cold War propaganda. Liberal Americans still believe that everything negative they heard about the USSR was propaganda that doesn’t contain a grain of truth. They seem to need this belief in order to continue engaging in their sad little Marxist fantasies.

I, however, am not prepared to relinquish my own memories for the sake of spoilt rich American kids of pseudo-Liberal persuasion. I want to look for my own understanding of the economy and I don’t care how offended people are that my search subverts their cherished pieties.

A Liberal Approach to the Economy

It’s impossible to say, nowadays, if what one reads on the subject of the economy is being said seriously or in jest. See, for instance, “The Golden Laws of Prosperity” from Ian Welsh’s blog. Judging by the comments, I’m not the only one who thought the post was a parody. For now, however, the author seems to maintain he was in earnest when writing the post.

I will give you a few of Welsh’s prosperity rules, and you can go see the rest at the original post.

Implement policy which is as good for as many people as possible.

I thought if history had taught us anything whatsoever it was that the scariest political leaders were the ones who were trying to be benefactors of the majority. Seriously, how can anybody figure out what’s “as good for as many people as possible” without relying exclusively on one’s own personal ideology? Isn’t it time to remove the categories of “good” and “evil” from our economic and political vocabulary already?

Keep the rich poor.

Of course, after this suggestion, one immediately thinks that the entire list is a tribute to Ayn Rand.

Do not allow elites to opt out of the experience of ordinary citizens.

And how is that going to be enforced in practice, I wonder? A representative of the elite would be forced to wear jeans to a burger-grilling beer-drinking Springer-watching party and prohibited from putting on a dress and watching an opera while drinking champagne and eating caviar? Was this going to be done through police involvement? I can just imagine police officers shaking folks out of suits and tuxedos and stuffing them into jeans. Of course, I’m exaggerating. However, the point is that when you start regulating “experiences”, scary things begin to happen.

Do not reward people for winning lotteries (economic competitions someone was going to win, like Facebook winning the social site competition)

This, of course means clamping down on absolutely any new area of development or research. Imagine the people who’ll find a cure for cancer. Those folks will win the lottery like nobody has ever before. Ergo, let’s make sure looking for the cancer cure is completely unprofitable. Who cares about a valuable service to humanity? As long as we can prevent somebody from getting rich, our central goal will be served.

Do not allow anyone to take future profits in the present.

This can easily be translated as kill the economy outright. Gosh, even the USSR didn’t go this far in regulating its companies.

Restrict capital flows significantly.

This, however, is what the Soviet Union was great at doing. Does anybody want me to narrate the results once again?

Treat credit as a utility and regulate all credit grantors as utilities.

Credit rates should be based on utility of the end use of credit.

The problem with this approach is that only a completely insane person will want to be a creditor under these conditions.

Make sure your population eats healthily, there is no such thing as cheap food, cheap food is paid for by death, disease and health care costs.

As most of my readers know, I’m very worried about the low quality of food in the US and have suffered serious health consequences because of that low quality. However, ensuring that the population eats healthily is an obvious infringement on individual rights. If the suggestion was to offer an opportunity to the population to eat healthily, I wouldn’t have a problem with this advice. Making people eat healthy in order to make them live longer sounds like a first step down the very slippery slope of treating human bodies as the property of the government.

Do not allow city folks mores to run the country, nor country mores to run the cities.

The moment we get the government regulating the mores, we arrive at totalitarianism. Maybe people can sort out their mores and ways of being without a prescriptive authority.

Do not allow unproductive suburbs which do not allow light businesses or have covenants.

As we can see, this philosophy is all for giving the rights to allow or not allow to one large body and taking them away from smaller local bodies. Another slippery slope. Besides, “do not allow those who do not allow” sounds a tad hypocritical.

Use competition between the private and public sectors.

Is there still one person under the sun who doesn’t know who will win this competition? (If it’s allowed to be run as a real competition, not a rigged foregone conclusion, of course.)

Do great things, not because of the return, but because they are great.

If only there was any hope of a group of people reaching a consensus as to what constitutes “great things.”

Seek the health and happiness of your citizenry, not maximum income.

Honestly, nothing terrifies me more than a government, an entity or a private individual that seeks my health and happiness. The best system in the world is the one that allows me to seek my own good or ill health and happiness or misery as I see and want them. God save us all from well-meaning benefactors, for they are the scariest people out there. Everybody’s understanding of happiness is so different that anybody who tries to impose their own vision of it always ends up digging mass graves for the millions who are not content with the state-mandated version of bliss.

I have to tell you, people, the liberal approach to the economy isn’t really doing anything for me lately. It’s all based on such do-gooder prescriptions that are supposed to make one feel self-righteous when one pronounces them but that have very little practical value.

The journalist who came up with the list is Canadian. In one of my future posts, I will tell you why I have massive issues with the Canadian approach to the economy.

Banal Nationalism

“Daily, [nation-states] are reproduced as nations and their citizenry as nationals . . . For such daily reproduction to occur . . . a whole complex of beliefs, assumptions, habits, representations and practices must also be reproduced. Moreover, this complex must be reproduced in a banally mundane way, for the world of nations is the everyday world. . . Daily, the nation is indicated, or ‘flagged’, in the lives of its citizenry” (Michael Billig, Banal Nationalism 6).

“The construction of identity is a neverending and forever incomplete process, and must remain such to deliver on its promise (or, more precisely, to keep the promise of delivery credible)” (Zygmunt Bauman, Community 64).