The 1st Postnational State

Wow, I didn’t know this. Turns out that Canada’s Justin Trudeau said, “Canada is the first postnational state with no core identity, no mainstream.” Like it’s a good thing. 

That stinky little turd.

Please read the quote in the context of the article on AI linked in the previous post. 

Book Notes: Jean Franco’s Cruel Modernity

In this book, Franco scoffs at novelist Mario Vargas Llosa for writing a book “in which a political viewpoint is presented in the guise of literary criticism.” This is particularly funny because that’s precisely what Cruel Modernity is. And the political viewpoint Franco presents is very tired and unoriginal.

After going on and on about cruelty being a defining characteristic of modernity, Franco decides to demonstrate she can be cruel, too. She berates, in a tone of great condescension, women who suffered horrific torture and gang rape at the hands of the Pinochet military for being “neoliberally individualistic” and allowing the torture to break them. I find it outlandish that a rich, comfortable Columbia professor would so easily mock women who endured such horrors. I’m not particularly known for my empathy skills but if you know what was done to people at Villa Grimaldi and you can’t find it in yourself to feel compassion, something must be deeply wrong with you. 

Franco is a talented writer. Her style is exactly the one I want to develop. At the same time, she has this strange habit of retelling the plots of novels she discusses in a way that treat works of fiction as newspaper reports. As I was reading one such retelling of a novel by Vargas Llosa, I wondered how come I never read it. And then I realized that yes, I had. I was simply failing to recognize it in the plodding and uninspired retelling.

I wanted to like the book, I tried hard to like it but the chapter on the Pinochet victims just about did me in. When we start to demand that victims of horrific crimes live up to our high moral standards to get any compassion, that’s when you count me out of the process. 

When Bullies Grow Up

The reason why there are so many instances of students harassing and persecuting other students and professors on college campuses these days is simple. This is bullying that has found a way to migrate from secondary schools to college. 

We all know bullying exists among kids and teenagers. But what happens to bullies after they graduate high school? Normally, they figure out that bullying is socially unacceptable in the world of adults and learn to channel their aggression into more legitimate pursuits. 

But what if bullies find a narrative that legitimizes adult bullying and makes it rewarding if done publicly and openly? Then, of course, they’d be happy to go on bullying. 

And that’s exactly what happens on all those campuses. If there is no societal consensus that it’s not ok to yell, spit at, insult and beat people, there’s nothing to stop the bullies. The consensus is every time that this particular victim deserved all s/he got. So the bullying gets worse because why not?

Like Men

Let’s say you have a large terrorist organization. A little over 40% of it are women. Women and men equally participate in all the group’s activities, including the command. They torture, massacre, and die for the cause with the same eagerness. 

Does it make sense to argue, again and again, that these women “act like men”? Isn’t the very existence of this terrorist organization proof that human beings can and will commit horrible acts of cruelty irrespective of their biological sex? Doesn’t it make much more sense to say that these women and men act not “like men” but as human beings? Instead of arguing that these women “rejected female values”, isn’t it more logical to assume there are no such values?

Of course, I just used the word “logical,” which must mean I also have become “like a man” and rejected female values. 

The terrorist group is Peru’s Shining Path, by the way.