Individual Freedoms vs Social Justice

Folks, check this out, it’s super cool. I’m reading A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey for my research, and it turned out to be a lot better than I expected. Here is a particularly curious bit:

Values of individual freedom and social justice are not, however, necessarily compatible. Pursuit of social justice presupposes social solidarities and a willingness to submerge individual wants, needs, and desires in the cause of some more general struggle for, say, social equality or environmental justice. . . It has long proven extremely difficult within the US left to forge the collective discipline required for political action to achieve social justice without offending the desire of political actors for individual freedom and for full recognition and expression of particular identities.

In order to flourish, neoliberalism needs people to love and celebrate individual freedoms. Among all of the freedoms you need to live your life the way you wish, it slips in the freedom of enterprise.

Of course, people who liberate themselves in the realm of sexual, gender, etc identities anger the Conservative folks who are terrified of seeing this liberation. So they become passionately attached to the party they see as representing them as the only bulwark against the encroaching chaos.

This is a double-bind for everybody. Liberals find themselves free to demolish constrictive religious, class, gender, sexual, etc roles but lose solidarity needed to achieve social change. Conservatives see their economic principles rule but also observe how those very principles demolish their beloved traditional lifestyles.

And while they are at each other’s throats, neo-liberalism wins.

This Harvey fellow is good.

PUPPPS in the Second Pregnancy

Nobody wants to research and discuss this horrible affliction, so this is what I just found out and what all women need to know.

If you had PUPPPS in your first pregnancy, there is a 30% probability you will get it in the subsequent pregnancies. I just spoke to a leading specialist and this is what he told me.

“But I read on the Internet that you never get it more than once,” I babbled.

“Where is it that you said you worked?” the doctor asked with a tired smile.

“I’m a college professor,” I said. “And yes, I see your point. I hate it when students say this phrase, too.”

So here it is. And by the way, there is absolutely no cure for PUPPPS. You can maybe try to alleviate the symptoms somewhat with a battery of drugs that will mess you up in every other way but you’ll still have to endure excruciating pain until you deliver and very probably for 8 weeks after.

I am very, very sorry for those who are undergoing this horror right now. I’ve been there, and I’m so so sorry to be a bearer of these bad news. But I believe it’s better to know and see the future clearly.

I’m not pregnant, if anybody’s wondering.

Ukraine and NATO

I’m completely opposed to Ukraine seeking admittance to NATO. We will gain nothing and lose a lot by joining the alliance.

There is zero likelihood that NATO soldiers will ever come to Ukraine to defend it from Russia. Unless Russians cross the border waving Russian flags and screaming, “We are the Russian army, Putin sent us to invade you!”, NATO will always have the excuse that whatever is happening is an internal conflict of Ukraine and NATO doesn’t resolve internal conflicts.

Of course, the moment the US invades Iraq, Somalia, Syria or whomever is next, Ukraine will be expected to participate as a member of NATO.

Bad Memories

The amount of garbage one can find in one’s blogroll on any given morning is overwhelming. See, for instance, the following guide on becoming a total neurotic:

How to Weaken Your Bad Memories

The method described in the article is almost exactly the same as a method that author and motivational speaker Anthony Robbins (of all people) has been training people to use for the past two decades.

To extract the poisonous fangs (as it were) of your bad memories, bring the memory into your mind, and then imagine it getting smaller and dimmer, like you’re watching a tiny black-and-white TV.

Now add details that scramble the memory.  For instance, if you’re remembering a time when you flubbed a presentation, turn the audience (the little bitty audience in the little bitty screen) so that they’re all wearing clown suits.

Do this five or 10 times and you’ll discover that the bad memory simply doesn’t sting any longer. If anything, the memory of that presentation will make you chuckle, because you have literally and physically rewired your brain.

Yes, most certainly do that if you want to end up an alcoholic, drug addict, or a professional depressive. Denying one’s experience and pretending that one’s trauma isn’t real is the best way to these enviable identities.

A healthy way of dealing with painful memories is, of course, the exact opposite. They will only lose their potency if they are verbalized in as many details and as many times as possible. When there isn’t anybody willing to listen to them, it’s a good idea to verbalize them to oneself. Take a particularly bad memory and narrate it to yourself, aloud, in as many details as possible. And then do it again. And again.

After the memory stops being deadly, the time comes to analyze why it causes so much pain. In the example offered above, one would be well-served to figure out why public speaking is so fraught with danger that the pretty trivial memory of a failed presentation has acquired so much potency.