How eerie and unsettling it can be when people change their minds

by Corey Robin on July 5, 2018

In the wake of the primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, there’s been a dramatic shift in mainstream liberal opinion—in the media, on social media, among politicians, activists, and citizens—toward Sanders-style positions. People who were lambasting that kind of politics in 2016 are now embracing it—without remarking upon the change, without explaining it, leaving the impression that this is what they believed all along.

As you can imagine, this causes no end of consternation in certain precincts of the left. For some legitimate reasons. You want people to acknowledge their change in position, to explain, to articulate, to narrate, perhaps to inspire others in the process. And for some less legitimate, if understandable, reasons: people are pissed at the way Sanders-style politics was attacked in 2016; they feel that they were unfairly maligned; they want folks to own up to it. That’s understandable from a human point of view, but it’s not really the way you build a coalition or a movement. Every mass movement is built on converts, and if the first thing a convert hears when they show up at the shul is ” Apologize. Apologize. Pull out his eyes.” (mixing my cultural touchstones here, I realize)—well, you can see where this is going. Or not going. If the left is going to grow, everyone should be welcome to join, without having to hand over a bill of lading upon their arrival.

But I’m not bringing this up now either to settle scores or to enforce some kind of norm of the welcome mat. I’m actually just super interested in this phenomenon, in this kind of change at the both the human and the political level. By “this kind of change” I don’t meant the deep transformations that some political people undergo over the course of a lifetime: the proverbial Whittaker Chambers-style migration from left to right, for example, that we saw throughout the 20th century. That’s a deep, one-time change that you don’t easily go back on. I mean more these micro-shifts that happen under the pressure of events, the subtle coercions of new opinion, the ever-finer movements we all make to keep up with the flow, so as not to be left behind.

I just finished reading the letters of Thomas Mann, who’s an exemplary figure in this regard. Leading up to World War I, he was a fairly standard old-school conservative militarist/nationalist. That continued until the end of the war. After the war, he became a dedicated liberal defender of Weimar. Once the Nazis took over, his liberalism morphed into a humanist anti-fascism. By the end of the war, that antifascism had come to include overt sympathy with communism and the Soviet Union (he even praised Mission to Moscow on aesthetic grounds!) That continued into the late 1940s, when he supported Henry Wallace for president and was outspoken in his opposition to HUAC.

But then, around 1950 or so, you begin to see, ever so slightly and subtly, Mann’s opinions starting to change once again. He never comes out in defense of McCarthyism, but you begin to feel a chill and distance toward the left. His criticisms of the repression in the US begin to modulate and moderate. Till finally, in a 1953 letter to Agnes Meyer, his close friend and matriarch of The Washington Post, he confesses that he has decided not to publicly oppose McCarthyism in the New York Times. He reports to her that when he was asked—”probably by someone on the ‘left’”—what he thinks about the censorship and restrictions on freedom in the US, this was his reply: “American democracy felt threatened and, in the struggle for freedom, considered that there had to be a certain limitation on freedom, a certain disciplining of individual thought, a certain conformism. This was understandable.” Though he adds some sort of anodyne qualification at the end of that.

It just about broke my heart. That “left” in scare quotes (previously Mann had seen himself as a part of the left), the clichés about freedom and the Cold War, the betrayal of all that he had said and done in the preceding decades—and most important, the seeming inability to see that he was betraying anything at all.

Who was the real Thomas Mann? The German militarist, the Weimar liberal, the humanist antifascist, the Popular Fronter, the Cold War liberal? Who knows? All of them, none of them? I think in the end, his most authentic moment was probably during the 1920s and early 1930s, when he made the migration from German nationalist to humanist antifascist. That was the one true shift that he could endure and narrate. But everything after that? It was just the way the game was being played. And he was a player. Not a self-conscious, strategic player. More un-self-conscious, moving with the times. Less player than played. As the climate of opinion changed during the war, he changed with it. And then at the onset of the Cold War, he changed again. But always without seeming to realize what he was doing. Watching how his positions changed—within a very short period of time—without him even seeing it, without him even remembering what he had said, a mere three years prior, was eerie and unsettling. And heart-breaking, as I said.

During the McCarthy years, Arendt wrote in a letter to Jaspers how terrified she was of the repression. It wasn’t just the facts of the coercion she saw everywhere. It was how quickly it happened, how the mood of the moment had gone so suddenly from a generous and capacious liberalism to a cramped anticommunism. “Can you see,” she wrote, “how far the disintegration has gone and with what breathtaking speed it has occurred? And up to now hardly any resistance. Everything melts away like butter in the sun.” Victor Klemperer notices and narrates a similar shift among his friends and colleagues in his diaries of Nazi Germany.

We’ll never know what combination of incentives and forces and genuine beliefs are at play in one person’s shifting positions. And like I said, I welcome the change that is happening today. But I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I was sometimes unsettled by it. Particularly when it’s unacknowledged.

Intellectuals like to think of themselves as above this kind of thing, but I think we’re especially prone to it. We live in the world of ideas, with an emphasis on that word “world.” The world is not what goes on in our heads; it’s what’s happening out there, between heads. Intellectuals want to be in that space of the in-between (that space was something Arendt talked about a lot). They want to be in the swim. That can make them chameleons of the first order.

Intellectuals are probably not that different from anyone else in this regard, but they do like to take and defend positions as if they were emanations of pure reason. Or the products of an unblinkered empiricism. The proverbial “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Which always gets attributed to Keynes but was in all likelihood said by Paul Samuelson.

I confess I’m always suspicious of these “when the facts change” types. In part because the most pressing fact that seems to change people’s opinions is…other people’s opinions.

Among intellectuals, that doesn’t always lend itself to an honest narration of change. Just the opposite: it can become an ever-shifting, ever-more baffling, and often unacknowledged, litany of changes.

Not sure what there is to be said about that. Just noting how universal, if sometimes eerie, it is.

{ 234 comments }

1

John Quiggin 07.05.18 at 5:26 am

I’m always interested in this. I don’t think I’ve changed my mind much in terms of general views – never going outside the range from “social democrat” to “socialist and democrat”. But there are some points on which I’ve changed my mind quite a bit.

* In terms of my attitude to the political use of violence, I’ve gone from being moderately sympathetic (liberal interventionist in terms of international relations and sympathy for wars of national liberation ) to strongly opposed (not quite pacifist, but opposed to nearly all wars of choice).

* On climate policy, I’ve become convinced that the chance to get a price-based policy strong enough to do what is needed has passed and that direct controls have to play a much bigger role (Rich Puchalsky did a fair bit of the work of convincing me on this).

On the first point, I changed my mind because “the facts changed”, or rather because of experience of new facts (for example, the Libyan war which I initially supported). In retrospect, though, a harder look at the old facts should have set me right.

On the second point, the facts are, in some sense “other people’s opinions”. I want to be part of a coalition, and I can’t do that if I don’t take account of the fact that direct controls are more politically appealing than prices.

2

Emma 07.05.18 at 5:50 am

I’ve suffered with a case of farleftitis for most of my adult life, but I went all-in for Hillary; I think most of us on the left had sympathy for Bernie’s politics but didn’t think they could win. They/we were proven wrong, so it’s a basic act of face-saving reconstruction to pretend we were always at the meeting, but standing by the door where we couldn’t be clearly seen.

Intellectuals are probably not that different from anyone else in this regard, but they do like to take and defend positions as if they were emanations of pure reason.
This is how phrenology gets born again under the title “I.Q. science.” That not even people trained to stand outside their human contexts and attempt to delineate The Facts are immune from trying to use those tools to express the basest of their flaws would be charming, if they didn’t turn out to be crazy so often.

But this one isn’t bad! I’m all for an extremely large leftist in-group where we actually have the solidarity Republicans accuse us of secretly leveraging against them in all their nightmares.

The first part, though, definitely.

3

Sebastian H 07.05.18 at 5:54 am

You might be too young for it, but in the last 20 years the center of feminism has gone from “gender is almost entirely a social construct of the patriarchy” to “gender is so hard wired that if someone is identified with the wrong gender it is a great evil” with very little explanation that the first theory was wrong or apology to the people who were called misogynists for suggesting that much of gender might be hard wired when the first theory was ascendant. For me it isn’t so much the change as it is the fact that some of the very same people in my life are/were equally self righteous in both modes. It would be like if a vegan castigated you about eating meat for decades, and then suddenly switched to bacon oriented paleo diet and got preachy about that.

The other really disturbing sign of tribalism of course is Republican views on Russia. You’d think a few necks would have snapped at that break neck turn.

4

oldster 07.05.18 at 6:30 am

I supported Hillary’s campaign, and I now rejoice in A O-C’s primary victory.

Do I then exemplify the phenomenon that you open with, or not?

As far as I can tell, I am simply continuing with my policy of using any stick to beat the devil. Trump is a uniquely perilous evil, for America and for the world, and we must fight him with every means at hand. When Plan A fails, I reach for Plan B. No deep change here, just different means to the same end.

There is another sort of change, still not deep, when I come to espouse publicly what I had previously only wished for in private. People who aim to make change must consider what is feasible in any given climate, at any given moment. As the climate of public opinion changes–as our own resources increase, or the opposition weakens–what we can reasonably hope to accomplish also changes. I have not undergone some sort of Mann-like conversion when I now advocate openly what once seemed desirable but unattainable.

A case in point: I would love to see Trump impeached. I also think it would be foolish for anyone to run on that platform in 2018. Even if we take the House and Senate both, we will certainly not get 2/3s of the Senate needed for conviction. Agitating for impeachment during these mid-terms will only distract us from what is achievable, and stiffen the opposition.

But if some unforeseeable event occurred to make impeachment an achievable goal in 2019 (what? 20 sitting Republican senators change party?) , and I began to advocate for it openly, would I have changed my mind in some eerie and unsettling way? I do not think so. I would simply now be espousing as a public goal what had always been a private desire.

Changes of instrumentality, or changes that reflects changes in what is feasible. These are changes that are highly responsive to surrounding events, including shifts in the opinions of others, without reflecting any deep changes in the individual’s convictions.

5

NomadUK 07.05.18 at 7:02 am

It probably wouldn’t bother me nearly so much if the new believers were to ask how they might be of assistance and to otherwise sit down and shut up and let those who were right all along get on with it, but my suspicion is that those who were in charge of their earlier misguided efforts will want to be running their newly adopted crusade, which they will then abandon just as quickly once they’ve screwed it up.

It’s three in the morning, the world is a mess, and I don’t feel very accommodating.

6

Murali 07.05.18 at 7:11 am

I don’t know what actually goes on in people’s heads, but let me attempt a normative defence of the practice of changing your opinion in response to other people’s opinions changing.

First, let’s straighten some terminology out. We think our beliefs ought to change according to the facts in the world. usually, these are facts like whether a particular policy has brought about or relieved immense suffering, or facts about the morphological structures of living and extinct creatures etc. Let’s call these sorts of facts first order evidence.

Other people’s opinions on X are not first order evidence for X (except in the self referential case). However, they are higher order evidence about X. There are two kinds of higher order evidence that I am concerned with here. First, when other people disagree with you, that might be evidence that they have different first order evidence than you do and their first order evidence is such that if you added it to your first order evidence, you would have reason to move your opinion in their direction. However, if you know in advance that there is some unspecified body of first order evidence which would require you to change your beliefs, not changing your beliefs until after you acquire the evidence seems silly. Its a plausible epistemic principle that we believe now what we know we will have reason to believe if we acquire new evidence.

The second kind of higher order evidence is about whether the first order evidence you have really supports your beliefs to the extent it does. When other people’s opinions are different from yours even though they have the same evidence, that is evidence that your evidence does not support your belief as strongly as you think. And that too should similarly affect what your object level beliefs are.

Traditionally in the literature on epistemology of disagreement, the people who disagree with you are taken to be epistemic peers. They may be just as competent at evaluating evidence as you, have the same evidence as you, or maybe have as good evidence as you do or just generally be antecedently as likely as you to get it right for some reason or another. Actual epistemic peerhood need not actually obtain. Even if we weaken the assumption, that does not license us to ignore other people’s opinions. More plausibly, we weigh other people’s opinions more strongly if they are experts relative to us and we weigh them less if we are experts relative to them on this issue.

Now, I don’t know the extent to which this normative defence counts as an explanation of why people actually adjust their opinions in response to disagreement from others. But it does shift your question from being a call for the explanation of this crazy/irrational pattern of belief formation to the call for the explanation of a defensible/rational pattern of belief formation. For pragmatic reasons, the need for the latter kind of explanation is less urgent.

7

Adam Roberts 07.05.18 at 7:12 am

One of the core truths about clever people is that they are very good at coming-up with clever justifications for whatever it is they happen to believe.

8

Person_XYZ 07.05.18 at 7:34 am

The political science literature states that people look for elite signals as to what their positions should be. This looks like astonishing hypocrisy to outsiders, and I suppose it actually is – but people want to be part of a team to win power and are willing to change (or pretend to change) their beliefs to join one. This is related to the ‘Shibboleths’ post from last month.

That said, I don’t think Clinton supporters and Ocasio-Cortez supporters are really so different. The latter seems fairly mainstream. I don’t get a Jill Stein vibe from her, which is good.

9

Ben Philliskirk 07.05.18 at 8:00 am

“I just finished reading the letters of Thomas Mann, who’s an exemplary figure in this regard. Leading up to World War I, he was a fairly standard old-school conservative militarist/nationalist.”

National Liberal, which isn’t surprising considering his middle-class upbringing in Hanseatic Luebeck. There is quite a big difference between this position and that of the Junkers. Mann’s milieu in the pre-1914 were keen on the idea of a ‘place in the sun’, the Kriegsmarine and overseas colonies, and focused on trade and economic competition rather than Germanic political and cultural supremacy in central and eastern Europe.

The success and failure of Bismarck’s united Germany was that it brought these two strands together in a way that never effectively dealt with their contradictions. Thus people like Mann came out in fervent patriotic support of the ‘fatherland’ during the war, and only realised their error when the war was lost. I suspect Mann’s views changed very little through his life, but WWI caused him to realise the dangers of Germany overreaching itself, leading him to staunch support of the Weimar Republic and opposition to the Hitler regime. His weaknesses on the subject of McCarthyism are not that surprising given his background.

In effect, Mann stayed much the same between 1900 and 1955 but Germany changed massively.

10

bad Jim 07.05.18 at 8:14 am

After the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a survey found, of course, that those whose primary news source was Fox were the worst informed, but those who relied on CNN were scarcely better; in general, consumers of TV news, including the BBC, were more likely to espouse erroneous views than readers of print media. The most knowledgeable got their news from PBS and NPR.

It’s easy to conclude from this that some media do a better job than others, and that might not be wrong, but in this instance reality had a well-known liberal bias, so perhaps pure partisanship accounts for the appearance of liberal perspicacity.

11

relstprof 07.05.18 at 8:17 am

A very thoughtful piece, and I agree completely with “just welcome them”.

One thought about Thomas Mann. He needed to belong (find human support and community) in some rather extreme existential-survivalist situations due in part to his initial political writing. Not the kind of belonging that gives one wellbeing in the normal sense of the human experience, but the kind that relates to trauma and dispossession. I wonder how relevant his experiences really are for a lot of people in re political positions over a lifetime.

On AOC’s election, we can’t ignore serendipity — a young Latina gets elected while a large segment of the politically-engaged are outraged and depressed over border policies. This is “eerie and unsettling” in the way that the Event always is.

As to the underlying phenomenon of changing positions in relationship to other people’s opinions, I’m still thinking through Honneth’s ideas about recognition in human power relationships (also connected to object relations theory), the role of mimetic neurons in human behavior, and Sara Ahmed’s notion of circulating cultural affects (that are themselves economies).

12

Z 07.05.18 at 9:27 am

People who were lambasting that kind of politics in 2016 are now embracing it—without remarking upon the change, without explaining it, leaving the impression that this is what they believed all along.

Amusingly, and for essentially the same reasons, a symmetric movement has taken place in France, with many people self-identifying as socialist (at least nominally) two years ago now fully behind flat taxes on capital gains, detention of minors up to 90 days if their parents are undocumented and privatization of passenger trains (three ideas that have historically been considered outside of the spectrum of reasonnable political opinion, even by the former mainstream right-wing party).

But coincidentally, I was re-reading Bourdieu’s On the State these last weeks so I’m not so surprised, especially as I don’t think that believe is quite the right word to describe how political and social positions are embraced (and in that respect, I believe that intellectuals are different only in their vociferous protestations to the contrary, and their somewhat superior ability to identify with the domineering side).

“In modern societies, the State makes a decisive contribution towards the production and reproduction of the instruments of construction of social reality. […] The State thereby creates the conditions for an immediate orches­tration of habitus which is itself the foundation for a consensus on this set of shared self-evidences which constitute common sense.”

So when shifts and breaks in the structure of the field of State power happen, it is perhaps not so surprising that schemes of perceptions also quickly change so that single-payer universal health care/the suppression of a capital gain tax can move in a couple of months from worthy to mention only to summarily dismiss as absurd to common sense.

13

bob mcmanus 07.05.18 at 9:47 am

I think Thomas Mann used self-punishment as a tool, intellectual rigor as ascetic hairshirt, contempt for his own positions as of last week as both disease and cure. Settembrini in the intellect, Naphta in the heart, Joseph and Leverkuhn as the temptations, Aschenbach as the buried ecstatic crime. The apolitical Mann loved him some Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, and ran from his influences in a kind of terror, balancing his narcissism with irony and humor, understanding his failure to commit to submit to love as an unforgivable sin, a crime against humanity. Adorno was his soul brother.

He saw himself as as weirdly embodied and expressive German culture, but somehow Marx and Luther were beyond his horizon.

Our intellectual honesty is a very weak virtue.

14

Dipper 07.05.18 at 9:54 am

Well, to go all Quantum Mechanics on this, our views are based on assumptions that are probabilities. We can go on holding these views for a while until measurements of our assumptions are performed, and at that point we have more information about the assumptions on which our views are based and may have to readjust them.

Everyone will have their own particular sphere of interest, but here in the UK we performed a measurement of what power and influence the UK actually had in the EU when Cameron asked Merkel if he could, please, have a break on migration in to the UK and she replied No. Once we had concrete evidence that the amount of power and influence the UK had in the EU was precisely and exactly zero many people, myself included, changed their view on whether being in the EU was a good thing for the UK.

15

bob mcmanus 07.05.18 at 10:06 am

Benjamin was the child screaming in the other room while they composed the soundtrack to the apocalypse.

Lukacs was the reproach.

16

Ghost Bird 07.05.18 at 10:09 am

“gender is so hard wired that if someone is identified with the wrong gender it is a great evil”

Your transphobia is showing.

17

Ghost Bird 07.05.18 at 10:24 am

Actually… since my comments are (very reasonably) going to moderation, let me address this to the moderators rather than derailing the actual comments. I’d like to read the discussion here – it’s an interesting topic with a lot to be said by people who know more than I do – but I’m a trans woman and I’m very very tired of the kind of thinly-veiled transphobia that masquerades as “discussing gender issues”. Can I ask you to think about that a bit? I’d like to be able to read Crooked Timber without getting angry or sad, or feeling like your commitment to free speech is allowing bigots to turn trans lives into a subject for debate.

18

Daragh 07.05.18 at 10:51 am

“People who were lambasting that kind of politics in 2016 are now embracing it—without remarking upon the change, without explaining it, leaving the impression that this is what they believed all along.”

a) The stakes are clearly much higher in a presidential election in a year when the Democrats are at a slight structural disadvantage than they are in a mid-term election to an extremely safe congressional seat. There’s no contradiction in supporting different candidates in different elections based on the perceived preferences of a particular electorate. Indeed, the right figured this out early on with Buckley’s maxim on supporting the right-most viable candidate, emphasis on the viable.

b) Ocasio-Cortez has released extremely detailed policy proposals on a key policy platform (climate change). She has done her homework, come up with a solid plan, and is deservedly getting plaudits for it. By contrast, Sanders dealt in broad generalities, and when challenged about the structural impediments to his policy goals, hand-waved them away with bullsh*t about a ‘political revolution’.

YMV, but for me personally it is the latter point that pushed me from basically sympathetic to utterly dismissive of Sanders, even if his political vision for the US is one I find preferable to Clinton’s. In addition to his refusal to sully himself by actually JOINING the party he wants to lead (which I don’t think is a trivial matter), his failure to consider the ‘how’ of his plans, beyond an explanation that is deeply insulting to the intelligence of anyone with a passing familiarity of how the US Congress works smacks of political con-artistry. Similarly, Melenchon’s pledge to abolish inequality by passing a law against inequality (his 100% tax on incomes over €400k) did not signal to me that he was a radical crusader for social justice, but that he was actively harmful to genuine left-wing politics and should be treated with contempt. Subsequent statements from him and France Insoumise officials make me think this was the right call.

The TL:DR – if someone doesn’t support a politician who promises to enact policy A and fund it with ivory sales from a new network of nationalised unicorn farms, and then subsequently support a politician who promises to enact policy A, and has a realistic plan for doing so, that someone hasn’t actually shifted their position. If anything, the initial supporters of policy A are the ones who have shifted, if subtly, to the position that the talk needs to be backed up with some walk.

Sebastian H @3 – You’re confusing gender with biological sex.

19

Louis N. Proyect 07.05.18 at 12:03 pm

Recently I wrote a blog post praising Norman Thomas as the kind of socialist we need today as opposed to the DSA’s brand of welfare statism put forward as “socialism”. A couple of comments reprimanded me about how Thomas had moved to the right in the 1950s, on a path similar to Thomas Mann’s. Probably it would have been a mistake to put such people on pedestals to begin with. The pressure exerted during McCarthyism was immense and it took almost superhuman strength to resist it unless you had institutional support behind you like the Communist Party. If you haven’t seen the biopic “Trumbo”, I strongly recommend it as a study of how difficult it was to stay true to your principles back then.

20

engels 07.05.18 at 12:21 pm

Kind of true st the international level too (we somehow seem to have gone from ‘Americans aren’t interested in socialism’ to ‘Americans dominate Anglophone discussion about socialism’ in the space of a decade).

21

rm 07.05.18 at 12:33 pm

I’ll echo what Emma and Daragh said about the example of Bernie vs. Ocasio-Cortez.

In general, if you someone undergo an eerily unarticulated shift of opinion, there are three things it could be — (1) in their view they have been entirely consistent, and perhaps you aren’t seeing what they see, (2) eerie unsettling change, or (3) it’s an issue they don’t invest much thought into.

I think I am in category 1 on politics, and I am one of the people you are rolling your eyes at. I thought Bernie was an unimpressive messenger with less substance the more you saw of him, who obviously would have been defeated in the election as decisively as he was in the primary, while on the other hand I am baffled by lefty Clinton-hatred and saw a party platform that had been pushed left farther than ever before and a candidate who could win, and did by 3 million votes (this is either the second or third stolen election of recent times). With Ocasio-Cortez I see a candidate who is smart, strategic, specific about proposals, and in a district where we should go as left-wing as possible. In my mind I have been entirely consistent in supporting the most left person I can who is credible and able to win.

There is also the factor of her being a new, unknown figure people can project their hopes upon. Opinions will rise and fall as people know more about her.

22

bob mcmanus 07.05.18 at 12:54 pm

11, relstprof :Sara Ahmed’s notion of circulating cultural affects (that are themselves economies).

Thank you for this, she looks terrific. I am reminded of Randall Collins and the social construction of cultural reality.

I don’t disagree with anything in 9 Philliskirk and 11, but can only add that I think Mann (in his work) was unusually self-aware and self-critical about his bourgeois cosmopolitanism and its contradictions with German Patriotism. I think he saw it as tragic, a deal with the devil.

As I am reminded almost everyday by my more radical companions when I retain meager hopes in Democratic politics.

Picked an old book by Judith Marcus on Mann and Lukacs. Thanks to CR for a temp direction. Apparently there was a kind of unrequited affection that Lukacs found amusing. Mann deliberately kept a distance*, as if close contact would be dangerous or distasteful. These people all knew each other.

*According to Marcus, the intellectual relationship was fully formed before H&CC and the turn to Marxism, and it was Soul and Form that Mann found something disturbing.

23

J-D 07.05.18 at 12:55 pm

Sebastian

You might be too young for it, but in the last 20 years the center of feminism has gone from “gender is almost entirely a social construct of the patriarchy” to “gender is so hard wired that if someone is identified with the wrong gender it is a great evil”

There are people, at least some of whom consider themselves feminists, who regard the misidentification of people’s gender identities as a great evil and who regard the affirmation of transgender identities as just such a misidentification; and then, on the other hand–and I do mean on the other hand, vehemently opposed to the first-mentioned people–there are people, at least some of whom consider themselves feminists, who regard the misidentification of people’s gender identities as a great evil and who regard the denial of transgender identities as just such a misidentification.

It’s not clear to me which of those two positions (violently opposed as they are, despite the overlap in the way I’ve described them) you consider to be now at the ‘centre’ of feminism, wherever you suppose that is, and it’s also not clear to me what your justification is for thinking so.

In short, your position is inadequately specified. The description you’ve given could apply to either of two positions, and since the adherents of each regard the other position as a great evil, the ambiguity is a very big problem for the discussion.

Or, to put it yet another way, I can’t tell whether it’s the position of TERFs or the position of their opponents which you regard as being now at the ‘center’ of feminism, and in either case I can’t tell why you do.

24

ph 07.05.18 at 1:01 pm

I enjoyed the OP primarily because Corey writes from the heart.

American liberals aren’t. The American left isn’t. O-C might be a socialist, but spent most of her young life among the elite in Westchester. She’s well-spoken and photogenic, which makes her exactly the kind of ‘community organizer’ American ‘liberals’ and ‘progressives’ can rally around – a veritable cookie-cutter copy of Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard educated community organizer and now 400k per speech former president Obama. Little wonder, then, that Perez sees her as the future of the party.

As far as Mann goes, I agree with Ben @9. Circumstances change as much as opinions. I don’t frankly see how any ‘progressive’ can support war in any form. Peace and peaceful resolution of problems would seem to be a given. The right to unilateral self defense need not be sacrificed.

What we are living through in real time is the realization by many that Democratic leaders are every bit as corrupt and self-serving as Republicans. Few/none are going to openly support Trump, or migrate to the Greens/Libertarians, so a new tune and identity-branding is required. What we might call socialist policies – national health care, and the nationalization of key industries is most definitely not part of the ‘liberal-socialist’ mix. The post-2016 liberal socialist still desperately hopes piss-gate will magically permit the world to return to the time when the upwardly mobile (think Elizabeth Warren) can flip houses and earn six figures. Until then one does what one must, as long as there’s no real price to pay beyond being rude to Trump supporters and living with the indignity of supporting America’s first female president TM. If O-C is the future of the Democratic party then liberals are in more trouble than they imagine.

The current view – that Trump can’t govern, is a carbon copy of Trump can’t win and very likely to produce the same results. O-C’s socialism is a magical unicorn free of substance, or deep roots, which is exactly how American liberal socialists like their socialism.

25

nastywoman 07.05.18 at 1:06 pm

– as a proud female ”Bernie-Bro” and an even prouder supporter of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – I have no idea how this ”dramatic shifting” feels – while at the same time actually not believing that there actually is ”a dramatic shift”?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a… ”Star” – a ”Winner” – and if we see it just as the usual ”American Prioritizing” there is no need for any ”consternation” if our fellow citizens go for ”teh winners” and ”stars” -(whatever political preferences)

And about ”the certain precincts of the left” and Thomas Mann –
My dad once spend some time with Martha Feuchtwanger – who knew ”die Mann’s” pretty well – and so she very well knew who Thomas Mann was – and that he absolutely loved her ”Apfelstrudel” – and she told my dad – and so I can tell you guys:

There was hardly a BIGGER ”Apfelstrudel-lover” than Thomas Mann!!

26

bianca steele 07.05.18 at 1:21 pm

I’m not a “leftist” but a “left-liberal” (or possibly, in a world where words had fixed meanings, a “social democrat”) and I certainly find it disconcerting when a publication or writer swings wildly from one side of me on an issue to the other side, or from “you must compromise with group X” to “you must take a strong position on group X.” I suppose different people react to such things in different ways.

27

Evans_TN 07.05.18 at 1:25 pm

I identify 2 reasons for the shift. The first is insecurity of the path towards something unknown. People are afraid to say the word socialist or feminist until they are shown there is acceptable form. The second is the one issue voter. Say, security is your main issue. You will migrate towards whatever party makes you feel safe. The complicated part comes when these two are combined to create fear of the unknown as a security risk.

28

Yan 07.05.18 at 1:39 pm

Sebastian H @3: You might be too young for it, but in the last 20 years the center of feminism has gone from “gender is almost entirely a social construct of the patriarchy” to “gender is so hard wired that if someone is identified with the wrong gender it is a great evil”

I want to both disagree with how this is framed and support and underline part of it that’s sound–rather than simply beg the question as a number of response posts have.

I don’t think, at heart, the claim of “great evil” is really about a factual mistake–someone has correctly or incorrectly identified some fact about me. The evil at issue is the reasonable belief that this either indifference to a person’s identity claims or inexplicable hostility to it implies a lack of respect, a refusal to see someone as an equal, or even hatred of them for the way they are. So, yes, that’s a great evil.

From the very same argument it follows, however, that transphobia isn’t really about whether trans-identity claims are correct or incorrect. And so it is a mistake to assume that someone being mistaken–or honestly disagreeing about the nature of sex and gender–entails they’re transphobic.

Having said that, it is at least reasonable to suspect bigotry, since why else would anyone feel very strongly about whether they have to call someone him or her?

Well, there is one reason, and that’s where Sebastian H’s point–if questionably put in its implied dismissal of the evil of transphobia–is correct and needs to be addressed rather than ignored. Namely, when we critique transphobia using a new version of gender essentialism, we damage a way of thinking–anti-essentialism about gender–that has historically been very useful for critiquing sexism.

Ironically, Daragh’s criticism of Sebastian H @18 simply reaffirms his point. He is not “confusing gender with biological sex.” On the contrary, he’s pointing out that that claim is the heart of the old feminist critique of essentialism. Now, that is NOT the same as saying that view is correct. But, it is a reason for worrying about too quickly assuming it’s false.

That critique said that biological sex is a fixed, but gender is entirely socially produced–consequently, one has no “real” or “true” gender in a natural sense–only in a developmental one, since a socially produced gender can still become a deep, fixed part of one’s identity.

Sebastian’s point is that this once accepted view seems to be incompatible with a common use of language of the transgender rights movement, which suggests a difference between, for example, “really” being a woman and not being one. Ironically, one of the side effects of this is to reactivate essentialism among some feminists, who then–also against their own critical tradition–start claiming people are “not really” women. When, of course, the whole point of the anti-essentialist critique was that no one is in this deep, morally weighted sense “really” either a man or a woman.

Now, I’ve heard some say this is only an apparent problem–either there is a way to clearly harmonize traditional anti-essentialism with transgender theory or the language of the transgender rights movement is being misinterpreted in an essentialist way.

That seems plausible to me, but I’ve yet to see a good explanation, so I think it make sense that many are confused by it and want to understand it better. They can’t get past what looks like the same people asserting contradictory world views–and are understandably a bit offended when they assert both of them with equally righteous moralism.

That’s the question that Sebastian’s critics are begging. He has pointed out a move in the left between two incompatible views: gender anti-essentialism and gender essentialism. Ironically, to reply “sex is not gender” is to side with the former, when the transgender rights movement appears to tend to the latter.

It is very frustrating that sincere, well-meaning inquiry on this apparent theoretical inconsistency is often shut down as transphobia and never really explained, responded to, or answered. Especially when many who ask are well-motivated by the worry that anti-essentialism has done a lot of political good, so abandoning it could do harm. There’s been interesting discussion about the hermetic, question-begging nature of this discourse in the philosophical community, and I’d recommend some of the writings liked here:
http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2018/05/more-reflections-on-whether-transgender-women-are-women.html

At the end of the day, however, remember what’s really important in this debate. To refuse to accept someone’s self-characterization and preferred pronoun when it does no harm to anyone and shows you care about how they feel is just being a jerk.

29

dave heasman 07.05.18 at 1:44 pm

“when Cameron asked Merkel if he could, please, have a break on migration in to the UK and she replied No” .. “you’re the idiot who wants to bring Turkey in, you’re the one who wants the EU to become ‘wider, not deeper’ and now you want another bloody special dispensation”.

(In fact it couldn’t just have been Merkel, could it? There are 26 other countries (thanks, UK) too who have a voice).

“Once we had concrete evidence that the amount of power and influence the UK had in the EU was precisely and exactly zero” because Cameron the Metternich of our times couldn’t get one more favour after all the other opt-outs and rebates granted?

30

Anarcissie 07.05.18 at 1:47 pm

There was a similar change of wind around Occupy Wall Street. A week before, the ‘national conversation’ was about Grand Bargaining up to the point of mutilating Social Security. A few weeks after, it was about the 1% versus the 99% and SS was safe from the predator set for another few years. However, most people’s opinions (most people including the proles) had not changed at all, so for them there would have been nothing to explain, if anybody had cared to ask them.

31

Glen Tomkins 07.05.18 at 1:48 pm

I don’t understand the problem. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. Always. Simple fact. What’s to explain?

32

Alex Ameter 07.05.18 at 1:49 pm

American culture is terrifyingly guilty of this. The inability for an empire’s people to understand the concept of blowback when their nation’s military incursions into the surrounding world create deep sources of instability and trauma is one marker of empire in decline.

That being said, the fact that free will is tenuous at best and humans are so easily manipulated en masse gives me hope that the species might pull off long-term survival if it finds the right balance between setting up mutually reinforcing beneficial mechanisms to guide most human psyches and cultures into generally sustainable behavior and the chaos of a free reality without socially enforced categorizations or narratives.

33

bob mcmanus 07.05.18 at 1:52 pm

Bernie was an unimpressive messenger with less substance the more you saw of him

I hate to tell y’all this, but 10-point programs are not what socialists, demo-socialists, or communists do. That is vanguardism or elistist liberalism. The Soviets will decide what they want once power is achieved. We can support liberal (Gotha) programs as expedient, but policy positions are always tactical.

I ain’t in charge, and neither is Sanders. You want somebody to tell you what your policy is gonna be, rolling out the product in September like new model cars, vote for Clinton or Gillibrand. They will provide your consumerist democracy.

34

politicalfootball 07.05.18 at 1:53 pm

But I would be less than honest if I didn’t say that I was sometimes unsettled by it. Particularly when it’s unacknowledged.

I wish I knew whom you’re talking about here. Sanders certainly won important parts of the political debate among liberals, but if we’re going to talk about the changes that individuals have made, we’d need to know who has changed “in the media, on social media, among politicians, activists, and citizens.”

But right at the outset, this seems incorrect to me: “In the wake of the primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, there’s been a dramatic shift in mainstream liberal opinion …”

That shift occurred before Ocasio-Cortez, in my perception. But maybe I’m missing something.

35

Bard the Grim 07.05.18 at 2:02 pm

I’ve never liked the wording of the proverbial “When the facts change….” Speaking as a scientist and pedant, facts don’t change. Circumstances, which are facts as a function of time, can change. Evidence, which is fact revealed by observation, can change. When discussing how opinions and interpretations change, it’s helpful to make those distinctions.

36

nastywoman 07.05.18 at 2:11 pm

– and as ”intellectuals” have been mentioned and the theory ”that Intellectuals are probably not that different from anyone else in this regard, but they do like to take and defend positions as if they were emanations of pure reason. Or the products of an unblinkered empiricism. The proverbial “When the facts change, I change my mind”.
AND the confession ”I’m always suspicious of these “when the facts change” types”.

Me too –
In part because the most pressing fact that seems to change people’s opinions is…not other people’s opinions – but ”ones own emotions” – and in a country where Presidents mainly get… erected by emotions -(and NOT by some Thomas Mann-like ”reasoning”) –
or wait??! –

It might be Thomas Mann-like emotions – which makes one have a change of heart? –
just the way Mann ”felt” leaving the US and moving to Switzerland – because some of US F…faces called him something he really wasn’t?

37

politicalfootball 07.05.18 at 2:11 pm

Speaking for myself, I voted for Bernie enthusiastically. Then I was delighted at the opportunity to vote for Hillary. I am really pleased with the direction that Ocasio-Cortez’s victory will push the Democratic Party.

I don’t see any contradiction in any of this, or any evolution on my part. I think that the distinctions between Hillary and Bernie were always exaggerated by a small number of people (most obviously including Prof. Robin on the Bernie side of things, but also by a similarly small number of people on the Hillary side).

For instance, among politicians, the vast majority of Dems — including Hillary — would have liked a better healthcare solution than Obamacare. Hillary’s objection to Sanders on healthcare was that his view was politically unrealistic. The observable facts on the ground have changed somewhat, so the politicians’ public views will naturally change, too.

38

Sebastian H 07.05.18 at 2:18 pm

“gender is so hard wired that if someone is identified with the wrong gender it is a great evil”

Your transphobia is showing.”

No. Ive always thought that a big part of gender was hard wired, and understood that wrong identification could be a great wrong before it entered mainstream feminism. So no need to go on a rant against the evils of my free speech in this particular instance. Also, everyone’s comments go into moderation, so no need to feel personally singled out on that regard either.

39

Yan 07.05.18 at 2:50 pm

Political football @32: “we’d need to know who has changed “in the media, on social media, among politicians, activists, and citizens”.”

Exhibit A:
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/03/opinion/radical-democrats-are-pretty-reasonable.html

For Twitter readers, exhibit B:
https://mobile.twitter.com/peterdaou

40

William Uspal 07.05.18 at 2:55 pm

“A couple of comments reprimanded me about how Thomas had moved to the right in the 1950s, on a path similar to Thomas Mann’s. […] The pressure exerted during McCarthyism was immense and it took almost superhuman strength to resist it”

I recently read a biography of Bayard Rustin, partially in the hope of getting some insight into how to integrate civil rights / racial justice and comprehensive social-democratic reform into one program. One might object: Rustin drifted towards the neoconservative right in his later years — did his theoretical framework already carry the germ of accommodation in the 1960s/70s? But: how easy was it to resist the neoliberal/Reaganite tide?

41

engels 07.05.18 at 3:05 pm

To me the eeriness wasn’t people changing their minds but discovering that Americans a decade or so younger that me just don’t seem to have the Pavlovian reaction to
left-wing ideas older Americans did.

42

Orange Watch 07.05.18 at 3:15 pm

Seb@3:

I guardedly agree with J-D that I’m not 100% sure of precisely what brand of feminism you take as the new orthodoxy. However, it seems like it may be possible to engage some of what you say despite that.

From what I have seen, the shift in orthodoxy you refer to is broader than just feminism and encompasses progressive social justice activism in fairly sweeping terms, and it really is not surprising to me. Such disciplines get their theoretical underpinnings from academic theory, and academic theory is an elite pursuit. In the early ’00s, intersectionalism was making inroads into academia as an insurgent critique of limited elite orthodox perspectives… and quite tellingly, one of the most commonly cited intersecting identities was “poor”. Now, intersectionalism is orthodoxy, but essentialism is also orthodoxy… and poor is necessarily not a prominent consideration. You’re born with your hard-wired race/gender/orientation… but poverty? No, that’s a secondary matter that only arises from institutional oppression of the former categories (or choice, you DFH). It is entirely unsurprising that critical theory rejected non-essentialist modalities when intersectionalism threatened the orthodox elite.

The shift in position is only really disconcerting if you ignore the Iron Law of Institutions.

43

Yan 07.05.18 at 3:32 pm

@24: “O-C’s socialism is a magical unicorn free of substance, or deep roots, which is exactly how American liberal socialists like their socialism.”

We’ve really come full circle when many liberals are saying they’ve never vehemently hated Sanders or vehemently criticized his policies while kidneystones channels the exact language of a circa 2016 Hillary supporter describing Sanders.

44

SusanC 07.05.18 at 3:37 pm

Yes, I agree the phenomenon is really interesting.

On the other hand, what other people think can be one of the facts that changed. This is particularly true of variants of the “lesser evil argument” which were very much in evidence before the last UK general election and the US presidential election.

If someone was saying, “Look, I know the left of the Democrats prefer Sander’s policies, but the important thing is defeating Trump, and Clinton has the best chance of doing that”, then they can in good faith claim that new facts — we now know that Clinton didn’t win against Trump — has caused them to have changed tactics, but their overall objective — supporting anyone who looks like they could defeat Trump — is basically unchanged.

The Guardian newspaper became significantly less anti-Corbyn once the general election results were out (although it still regularly features attack pieces), which looks like another instance of this.

45

SusanC 07.05.18 at 3:50 pm

On long time scales — e.g. the difference between 1980’s feminism and 2018 feminism (rather than the short time scale of just before vs just after the result of the US Presidential election becoming known) the centre of opinion can shift without anyone changing their mind, if the younger people have a different perspective.

“We have always believed X” might actually be true, if the “we” is the activists who are still around, vs the older generation who have been replaced.

46

engels 07.05.18 at 3:56 pm

The Krugman piece is kind of back-handed though (‘not crazy like the Tea Party’ is hardly a ringing endorsement).

47

engels 07.05.18 at 4:04 pm

Can anyone point to a good exposition of the pro-trans position on hard-wiring of gender?

48

Brett 07.05.18 at 4:08 pm

Has it shifted? This feels a bit anecdotal to me – Kevin Drum made a similar point. It mostly seems like a greater willingness among news liberal types to talk about this stuff, while the Democratic establishment has been cautious in response.

Maybe it has a bigger impact in the New York state politics.

49

Barry 07.05.18 at 4:16 pm

Corey, IMHO two things are happening: first, the threat of Trump is growing, so people are abandoning politics as normal. Second, each victory of the left expands what is politically feasible.

50

Donald 07.05.18 at 4:33 pm

“I voted for Bernie enthusiastically. Then I was delighted at the opportunity to vote for Hillary. I am really pleased with the direction that Ocasio-Cortez’s victory will push the Democratic Party.”

I voted for Bernie enthusiastically, for Clinton as the prowar lesser evil (less dangerous than Trump, but still bad) and am enthusiastic about Ocasio- Cortez, who is a female Hispanic Bernie supporter. She worked for his campaign, I think. If you listen to her she is clearly in sympathy with Sanders critique of money in politics, which puts her at odds with what Clinton practiced. She is one of the few politicians ( Sanders is another) who criticized the Israeli massacre in Gaza recently. I don’t expect that position to become the mainstream Democratic one quite yet, but if it does it will be funny if people say this is what most Democrats thought all along. Similarly, I think it was just a few years ago that Clinton said single payer will never ever happen. I don’t think Medicare for all is quite the mainstream Democratic position at this point, but if it becomes so that seems to me to be a switch from the idea that we should treat it as forever unattainable.

Also, since the Republicans are the party of the far right, obviously there are going to be so called moderates and center right types in the Democratic Party, where they can do the bidding of their corporate donors while throwing a few bones to liberal voters. You can make a lot of money this way if you rise high enough. It would be remarkable if such people didn’t exist. Clearly they do and they have been running the Democratic Party.

PH, your reading of OC is a bit off, in my opinion. The mainstream utterly ignored her until she won and if you read some of the mainstream commentary, as in a NYT editorial recently, they downplay her leftwing positions and stress her youth and identity. They want her to be what you say she is— that doesn’t make it true.

51

Sebastian H 07.05.18 at 4:54 pm

Orange Watch I’m not sure what you’re saying.

“Now, intersectionalism is orthodoxy, but essentialism is also orthodoxy… and poor is necessarily not a prominent consideration.”

Ok. But essentialism WASN’T orthodoxy, so the change from anti-essentialism to essentialism on gender is exactly what I’m highlighting. I’m not entirely sure intersectionalism demands essentialism (it could for example say that certain categories are wholly socially constructed BUT that as long as we are forced to deal with them, we have to deal with them through intersectionality) but to the extent that you’re saying it does, you’re just calling the shift I’m highlighting a shift to intersectionalism but without dealing with the enormous shift TO essentialism.

“You’re born with your hard-wired race/gender/orientation… but poverty?”

This seems wrong. I’m not even sure that modern liberal thought believes in a hard-wired race at all. The shift I’m highlighting is in belief of hard-wired gender. The old orthodoxy was that it pretty much wasn’t hard-wired and for the most part didn’t really exist. The current (and to be super-clear to Ghost Bird, in my opinion correct belief) is that gender definitely does exist and has a pretty large hard-wired component. That’s a huge shift.

“No, that’s a secondary matter that only arises from institutional oppression of the former categories (or choice, you DFH). It is entirely unsurprising that critical theory rejected non-essentialist modalities when intersectionalism threatened the orthodox elite.”

No, it is super surprising that critical theory, which had/has tendencies toward radical non-essentialism on a wide variety of topics, and which often went so far as to suggest that even hard sciences like physics were largely socially constructed to the detriment of unfavored classes, rejected non-essentialism. That isn’t a mild finesse. That is a wholesale reversal.

It is interesting to see how that played out politically. All of the “science is just a way to oppress us” argumentation ended up getting used toward the beginning of the global warming debate. Suddenly that entire side of theory realized that they had weaponized knowledge in a way that was going to get used against them and retreated from those arguments.

52

Daragh 07.05.18 at 5:33 pm

Donald @50 “Similarly, I think it was just a few years ago that Clinton said single payer will never ever happen. “

She did indeed make that argument, which may very likely prove to be correct given the high institutional barriers towards enacting a national single payer system, primarily the federal system and the Roberts court.

More to the point – no matter what way you slice it, a single-payer policy instituted under current conditions constitutes a fundamental reorganisation of a massive chunk of the economy, with a big impact on tens, if not hundreds of thousands of workers. It may be objectively true that much of the US high per capita healthcare costs are due to economically useless administrative bloat, but a significant chunk of the 99% put food on their tables thanks to that bloat.

This isn’t to say that a shift to single payer wouldn’t be worth it if that were the only path to universality. It isn’t. In fact, its arguably non-existent in Europe, where most states nevertheless manage to provide high quality universal healthcare.

Which brings us back to the problem of Sanders, who has whether by design or by accident made support for ‘single payer’ something of a Democratic litmus test, rather than support for ‘universality.’ As a result, instead of a policy discussion on how effective universality can be provided within the constraints of the US political system as it exists, Democratic candidates are having to sign on to a single, dubiously viable policy position, because it was an effective slogan for the Sanders campaign. This goes back to Bernie’s lack of interest in how he can actually achieve the goals he proposes, for which Clinton rightly lambasted him.

As an aside – in the 2008 primaries Clinton was significantly better on healthcare than Obama, insisting that the individual mandate was vital for healthcare reform as envisioned to function properly, while Obama was doing a bit of unicorn promising. Not a lot of her critics seem keen on remembering that.

53

engels 07.05.18 at 5:35 pm

This might be a good day to revisit the Crooked Timber Steven Levitt seminar:
http://crookedtimber.org/category/levitt-seminar/

http://shameproject.com/profile/steven-d-levitt/

54

SusanC 07.05.18 at 5:39 pm

@engels. Offhand, I can’t think of a good reference. But the implied theory behind what many people say about transgender is that gender identity is (a) hard-wired, i.e. not changeable after some developmental stage that is really early, possibly even occurring before birth; and (b) what a person’s gender is hardwired to isn’t always the same as what you might expect based on their genitals etc.. presumably due to some biological factor whose exact nature is (in most cases) currently unknown.

(In cases where the person has a known intersex condition, the biological factor has been identified … but that still leaves a lot of cases where the mechanism is as yet unknown).

55

b9n10nt 07.05.18 at 5:56 pm

I interpret “if sometimes eerie” in the OP to refer to a chasm between our egoic construction of a cohesive self (ours and other’s) and a finer-grained perception of the human individual. Simply put, we are never precisely who or what we think we are, and it is eerie indeed to momentarily perceive this.

Re: “hard-wired”: just a cautionary note that, in light of epigenetics, endogenously-regulated gene-expression, as well as endocrinology (re: testosterone, specifically), we should be aware that this metaphor can be very misleading.

56

engels 07.05.18 at 5:58 pm

Susan, yes, that’s my impression of the online left consensus, I just wondered if there was a scientific defence of it anywhere.

57

Orange Watch 07.05.18 at 6:10 pm

@Seb:
The point is that embracing essentialism allowed the existing hierarchy to stave off critiques of their predominance by virtue of neutering the portions of the critiques that were incompatible with their place as opinion leaders. It is further aided by co-opting the more pliable of former critics into the heirarchy. By limiting what matters to essentialism, it remains possible to use standpoint epistomology as a rhetorical club without risking being de-platformed for having cultural or economic elite status.

As to whether it’s orthodox to view race as biologically ordained… I refer you to l’affaire Dolezal. Activist orthodoxy now supports essentialism in this area.

58

Joseph Brenner 07.05.18 at 6:10 pm

This entire piece seems to be about big changes in attitude and opinion, leaving me a little puzzled by the remark about “micro-shifts”. But I guess the general drift is this:

… the subtle coercions of new opinion, the ever-finer movements we all make to keep up with the flow, so as not to be left behind.

You want to be engaged with the world, to be part of the conversation, which means you can be influenced by the conversation, which means you may very well be exposed to some pressures to conform.

Much like the later Thomas Mann, I have difficulty talking about the left without quotations (though I’m more likely to use the adjective “lefty”). The present-day right is certainly a mess, it may indeed have always been a mess (which as I take it is Corey Robin’s main theme) but there were times in the past when the left was also decidedly a mess (and in some respects it still is [1])–

Why would you be shocked at the lack of intellectual integrity of someone who was a Stalinist on into the 1940s? Myself, I have a lot of respect from someone like Chomsky who’s managed to be left-wing his entire life without indulging in apologies for Stalin or Mao.

These days, periodically you see someone try to do a i-was-a-righty-until-trump piece but many people seem to view these with suspicion and regard them as phony ploys for attention of some sort. We pay lip service to the idea that people should be open to intellectual change– who could forget the genre where the author demonstrates open-mindedness with ritual lists of “things I’ve changed my mind about” (um… I see John Quiggin went there)– but when actually confronted with someone who has changed their mind, the reaction is often not very positive.

I have a tendency to use the Iraq war as a pundit-litmus test: In principle I’m willing to continue reading a pro-invasion pundit, but I want to see them recant, and I want to read their excuses– but really there isn’t anything they can say that’s going to impress me. If they’re blowing in the wind this badly, if they can ignore the obvious for the sake of fitting in with the pack, it’s unlikely they’ve got anything of value to add on anything.

[1] my standard example of present-day left-wing madness is the anti-nuclear power stance: if Jerry Brown were really serious about global warming, he would not have had the Diablo Canyon plant closed. I would feel happier about Ocasio-Cortez if she were in favor of clean energy, rather than just “renewable”.

59

Donald 07.05.18 at 6:43 pm

Daragh— Rather than try to type up my own reply on health care, which wouldn’t be worth the effort of writing or reading, I am just going to post this link advocating single payer as being better than the European alternatives. The writer also says our current debates sound remarkably similar to those in Canada some decades back.

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/single-payer-or-bust-two-souls-universal-healthcare

60

politicalfootball 07.05.18 at 7:10 pm

Yan @39: I don’t know Daou and that link isn’t helpful, but I do follow Krugman pretty closely, and I don’t see any change at all in him. Engels @46 gets it right: Krugman compares O-C favorably to the Republicans. Certainly he preferred Bernie to Trump. There’s no change there.

The context was different for his comments about Bernie and those about O-C, that’s all. In both cases, his approach to the underlying policies and ideas is pretty much identical.

A lot of Bernie people (and Hillary people, too) weren’t really interested in policy the way that Krugman is — their political preference was invested in the candidates themselves, rather than the policy positions of the candidates. So if Krugman criticizes Bernie on a policy matter, if he later talks up Bernie-types while continuing to disagree on policy, that’s going to seem inconsistent. But it’s not.

I’d really like to see a response to Drum, liked by Brett@48.

61

Tamara Piety 07.05.18 at 7:31 pm

What Darag said. This tendency to conflate criticism of Sanders’ many shortcomings (refusal to join the party he wanted the nomination of, hectoring posture, tone deafness to issues of race and gender — yes, yes, I know about his civil rights protesting– the lack of specificity in his proposals, the conflation of universality on health care with single payer, the not-too-subtle suggestion that Clinton was as bad as or just the same as Trump, and on and on) with his general platform. First, there was not a lot of different between the two candidates’ platforms. On the items on which there was a big difference, like health care, the complaint was not that anyone thought Sanders’ position was bad in theory, it was that there did not seem to be a plan to deliver it. And this was where Clinton was stronger, in the details. The same can be said of OC. So there is no contradiction, no changing of my mind on this issue. I predicted (as did others) that the pundit class which generally writes off women would take this upset and spin a tale of how this was a “new” direction for the party, even though the vast majority of Democratic primary winners were not in the Sanders mode). And so some of them did. No surprise. This seems to be tailor made for the town/country, red state/blue state, economics/identity politics false dichotomy that they had been peddling for awhile. It doesn’t make it an accurate reflection of what is happening. I am really glad OC won. If Sanders had won the primary I would have voted for him even though I thought he behaved terribly in the primary and I was skeptical about how all these promises would be fulfilled. He did not win. By large margins. I don’t think that in most parts of the country that balance has fundamentally changed.

62

Yan 07.05.18 at 7:45 pm

Politicalfootball@60: “Krugman compares O-C favorably to the Republicans. Certainly he preferred Bernie to Trump. There’s no change there.”

Going by my admittedly faulty memory of a period I’m anxious to forget, it was not at all clear to me that Krugman saw Bernie favorably compared to the Republicans or Trump. As I recall, in the later stages of the election you could almost wrong the froth from his mouth from the electronic pages of his articles whenever he talked about Bernie. No doubt if Sanders had one the primary he’d have officially declared for the lesser evil, but he was rabid and frequent in his criticisms.

I think this gets to an issue in the post. What is strange is not always or necessarily a change in position or belief but in emotional charge and tone. People who were sputtering and puffing and raving with scorn and contempt for the left while officially agreeing on key points are now acting calm and reasonable in their modest agreement and disagreement as if that were always the case. It has something of a gaslighting element to it.

63

Lee A. Arnold 07.05.18 at 7:50 pm

Corey: “mainstream liberal opinion—in the media, on social media, among politicians, activists, and citizens… micro-shifts that happen under the pressure of events… the most pressing fact that seems to change people’s opinions is…other people’s opinions.”

1. Most intellectuals aren’t guided by intellect but by emotion like everyone else, and so there is a lot of herd instinct especially in regard to politics.

2. I am not convinced that the media catalogue of mainstream opinion truly reflects the most widely-held opinions. What is happening out here in the low-income suburbs seems more amorphous and changeable.

3. A lot of the microshifts are evidence of a political emergence because a compromising centrist Democrat failed, the new President is no such animal, and the Republican Party is revealed to centrists as policy obstructionists with lots of false promises, now freely aiming to destroy the safety-net and distort the justice system. My sense of it is that consequently a lot more people now see that the time for compromising moderation is over because it will never be reciprocated by the Republicans in Congress.

This goes along with our old thesis that both parties are breaking up; the only question was which one would go first. Trump is destroying the Republicans and it opened the cracks wider in the Democratic Party. Question now is whether the centrist Democrats have the brains to accept the newbies.

4. Little noticed is that the “intellectuals” and Bernie supporters committed malpractice by never emphasizing, enough to make it through the media noise, that Sanders’ and now Ocasio-Cortez’s “socialism” is not “gov’t ownership of the means of production” but rather New Deal-style social democracy like any sane country. (Bernie’s people acted as if everybody should know this already, but of course they don’t.) Next up, will the “intellectuals” continue to commit malpractice by not helping Ocasio-Cortez explain through the media noise how it can work?

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engels 07.05.18 at 7:53 pm

As to whether it’s orthodox to view race as biologically ordained… I refer you to l’affaire Dolezal. Activist orthodoxy now supports essentialism in this area.

Iirc the Dolezal controversy wasn’t about ‘essentialism’ (~biological determinism) but whether she could self-identity as black.

65

Heliopause 07.05.18 at 8:02 pm

“it’s not really the way you build a coalition or a movement.”

Right, the way you build a coalition or a movement is by sharing power. Lip service to the Sanders positions is fine, but only the first step.

Speaking of lip service to Sanders positions, oft forgot is that the Sanders position that took front and center, even before higher education and health care, was a repudiation of monied interests in politics and policy. In terms of coalition-building this will continue to be the elephant in the room for the foreseeable future.

66

Lee A. Arnold 07.05.18 at 8:02 pm

Politicalfootball #37: “Hillary’s objection to Sanders on healthcare was that his view was politically unrealistic.”

I remember this midway through the primaries and that’s when her balloon deflated for me. Why any politician would squelch idealism is inexplicable.

And it isn’t politically unrealistic: if there is a public option, the whole system would evolve fairly quickly into a two-tier system with a mass-based single-payer for standard medical coverage and a smaller upper tier of private add-on coverage for elective procedures and rhinestone-encrusted concierge service.

67

Lawrence Maggitti 07.05.18 at 8:24 pm

So I was going to write something like the posts above essentially stating that there hasn’t been (much) of a change, that Sanders was not substantially to the left of Clinton. But I think maybe those posts make the case a little too strongly, so let me be a contrarian and push back a little – and in a way which (in a different way) raise the same questions that Corey does.

I think a large part of the reason why Bernie was perceived a to Hillary’s left was that many people didn’t trust that Hillary “really” believed in her platform, because she had been (on several issues) further to the right previously.

So who evolved? Not the voters (so much) but Hillary. Which just raises the same questions with a different focus. Why did Hillary move leftward? Possibilities:

she didn’t really move – she was just faking her support for leftish policies
she did because the voters moved and she was following them
she moved because she reevaluated her positions based upon the facts on the ground

I personally believe some combination of 2 and 3, but obviously no one knows for sure & this is contested (and contestable) terrain.

IMO the area where I was most worried about Hillary (foreign policy – though I was never one of the loonies who thought she was worse than Trump on this) is an area where Bernie wasn’t terribly knowledgeable and defaulted to a pretty conventional liberal interventionist position. I would have been more inclined to support him if he had been a real contrast to Hillary in that regard.

68

Ramshackle 07.05.18 at 8:33 pm

Re: trans politics and its supposedly inherent gender essentialism

I have found this article, from Red & Black Leeds, to be a helpful exploration of the issue.

But to lay out my own position further, there is a version of trans politics that takes seriously the analysis of gender as performance, rather than gender as an inherent property, and that complements gender nihilist or gender abolitionist positions. In this politics, trans (and cis) people who say that they “feel” they are gender x or y or z, with this gender as an inherent property of themselves, are engaging in a conservative, perhaps even reactionary, affirmation of gender essentialism. This should be unsurprising: we all, after all, live in a world rife with gendered expectations, and, like in all attempts to break out into the unknown, our grasping at liberation of all kinds often carries with it the remnants of the old world.

In this politics, trans is not something one “is”, as an ahistoric and pre-political property, but a political condition inflicted on some one because of the continued identification of sex with gender as well as gender and sex essentialism. A person is trans if they express outside the range of gendered expectations assigned to them, including how acts and what one’s body looks like or want one’s body to look like. This is something society does. Presumably, in a world after the end of gender, or at least after the end of assignment of gender and gendered expectations, there is no trans. What someone’s body looks like and what terms someone uses to talk about themselves, whatever those terms will be in this yet unknown future, will be matters of merely personal preference.

This may mean that, now, a person may still fit within a range of gendered expectations whether they are or are not those of the one assigned to them, and if they fit a masculine or feminine gender expression they might use that language for themselves as a matter of expediency, but this doesn’t yet immediately mean an affirmation of gender essentialism. It’s not until the politics and the story shifts to something like “I have always been x (or y or z), these categories are natural and inherent properties of me and other humans, pre-social and pre-political” or something like that that it then takes on its conservative nature. It is not something I am inclined to hardball, necessarily, given the worse politics of TERFs and others, but that’s what it is.

In this politics, trans politics are a part of and an affirmation of the feminist political project, to critically analyze and explode concepts of gender and gendered expectations. It goes without saying that TERF-y sex essentialism and sex and gender identification is not the way forward; but I would say that picking up gender essentialism as a way to defend trans politics, even if it is more immediately palatable for a society of gendered expectations (though, even then, not more palatable by much) is a political and strategic mistake.

69

John Quiggin 07.05.18 at 8:38 pm

Australia started in the US situation of tax-subsidised private insurance with fee-for-service doctors. We introduced a single-payer public system covering basic services, but kept the private companies in business providing various extras – private rooms, choice of doctor and so on. That seems like a potential path for the US.

70

politicalfootball 07.05.18 at 9:03 pm

As an aside – in the 2008 primaries Clinton was significantly better on healthcare than Obama, insisting that the individual mandate was vital for healthcare reform as envisioned to function properly, while Obama was doing a bit of unicorn promising. Not a lot of her critics seem keen on remembering that.

Opposition to promises of unicorns played a key role in the intelligent opposition to Bernie, as we see with Daragh@52 and Tamara@61. Probably the single most important reason that I supported Bernie, however, is that I am pro-unicorn.

71

Joseph Brenner 07.05.18 at 9:30 pm

politicalfootball@60:

I think you’re cutting Krugman way too much slack. He’s
got some shred of a figleaf to claiming that he’s all
about policy, but only just barely… I guess the idea is
Ocasio-Cortez is for “medicaid for all”, which is not
“single payer” like that gonzo radical Bernie who he was
accusing of being a demagogue who was no better than a
Republican.

I gave up on Krugman after the 2016 primary, myself when
he was claiming to be in touch with some made-up
consensus of liberal/left economists. That was too
intellectually dishonest for me to make excuses for:

http://obsidianrook.com/doomfiles/UNICORNY.html

72

William Timberman 07.05.18 at 9:52 pm

People like the august David Frum, or the somewhat less than august Arianna Huffington, may very well be sincere, but there’s more than a whiff of opportunism and worse yet, Besserwisser-ism about most of them. Often enough political coalitions with people one instinctively doesn’t trust do indeed prove useful, but one must be vigilant.

If it were up to me to decide, I’d be glad to let such folks grab an oar if they really felt they had to, but I’d never let them near the tiller, which unfortunately is the place most of them feel is most suited to their skills and experience.

73

politicalfootball 07.05.18 at 10:45 pm

I bet Joseph@71 was written before reading me @70. Like you, I disagree with Krugman on this matter.

But Krugman’s complaint with Bernie was substantive and serious. I am aware of no case where Krugman said that Bernie was ” a demagogue who was no better than a
Republican.” (Maybe he did! But you don’t quote him to that effect, and I’ve never seen anything like that from him.)

You quote Krugman thus:

“She’s not going to be able to promise magic without being obviously false. Sanders, on the other hand, probably believes what he’s saying; the rude awakening still lies ahead.”

And I agree with you, not Krugman:

It could be that Bernie Sanders knows something about pragmatic compromise …

Yan@62, though, likewise thinks that Krugman may have favored Republicans over Bernie. And like you, he has no evidence beyond Krugman’s tone:

Going by my admittedly faulty memory of a period I’m anxious to forget, it was not at all clear to me that Krugman saw Bernie favorably compared to the Republicans or Trump. As I recall, in the later stages of the election you could almost wrong the froth from his mouth from the electronic pages of his articles whenever he talked about Bernie.

I, likewise, found Krugman’s criticisms of Bernie at that stage overwrought. But his criticism was, as far as I know, always presented in contrast with Hillary, and not with Trump or the Republicans. I am not aware of a single case of Krugman expressing a preference for any Republican to Bernie.

I think this gets to an issue in the post. What is strange is not always or necessarily a change in position or belief but in emotional charge and tone.

If this is what Prof. Robin is going for (I don’t think it is), then this is an error. As circumstances change, and as context changes, then tone is necessarily going to change. This isn’t the sort of substantive change that (I think) Corey is talking about.

Lee@66:
I remember this midway through the primaries and that’s when her balloon deflated for me. Why any politician would squelch idealism is inexplicable.

This is basically my read on the situation. When Dr. King talked about the arc of the moral universe, he was, in some cramped literalist sense, lying. But I don’t mind.

That said, in some important sense, it really is dirty pool for Obama to come out against a mandate when we all understand (and presumably Obama understood) that it’s necessary to make that program work. I still think it’s a pretty minor sin in the big scheme of things.

74

Demigourd 07.05.18 at 11:06 pm

This seems more about American definitions of the left than any significant change of mind by liberals.

Unless she comes out of the closet as a wild-eyed tankie, AOC is a standard social democrat. That’s the default preference of normie liberals, so it’s unsurprising that they’re just shrugging and accepting it as their new politics now that, as Evans_TN said, they have permission to do so.

It’s more interesting to look at why liberals supported right-wing politics for so long.

For thirty years, the media said the left and right are equally extreme, Democrats said that the political centre is the only sensible and progressive position, and Republicans said that Democrats are radical bomb-throwing radical leftists. Liberals absorbed it all, and came to believe that the Democratic Party is leftist and defines the left, even as it moved steadily right.

For liberals it came as a shock, therefore, to wake up after Trump’s election and find a burgeoning political movement that is not only to their left, but does not consider Democratic politics leftist nor regard centrist liberals as revolutionary heroes.

AOC has arrived just as many liberals are getting over denial and recalibrating their political identity, and is presenting social democracy in a charismatic and unthreatening package.

Of course libs are all “socialists” now. They thought they always were.

75

engels 07.05.18 at 11:32 pm

Unless she comes out of the closet as a wild-eyed tankie, AOC is a standard social democrat. That’s the default preference of normie liberals, so it’s unsurprising that they’re just shrugging and accepting it as their new politics now that, as Evans_TN said, they have permission to do so. It’s more interesting to look at why liberals supported right-wing politics for so long.

In every American community there are varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects, ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

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J-D 07.06.18 at 1:12 am

A position which I affirm is this:
an individual’s identification as a member of a gender category is a subject on which that individual is authoritative, and other people shouldn’t (and can’t accurately) deny or invalidate the individual’s self-identity solely on the basis of anatomical, physiological, or genetic evidence.

A position which I reject is this:
an individual’s identification as a member of a gender category can be determined directly from anatomical, physiological, or genetic evidence even when that involves denying or invalidating the individual’s personal sense of gender identity.

In theory the tags ‘essentialism’ and ‘hard-wiring’ could be associated with both of those positions but in practice their use has the potential to confuse and not clarify what’s at issue in the active conflict between their adherents.

77

Wild Cat 07.06.18 at 1:23 am

White cesspool of a conversation.

Well, back to to Ye Olde Democrat Plantation for me, Enlightened Ones.

78

engels 07.06.18 at 1:31 am

Liberal pundits are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to explain away Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory.
https://jacobinmag.com/2018/07/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-liberal-pundits

79

Layman 07.06.18 at 1:41 am

engels: “An outspoken group on many subjects, ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally.”

When you identify the political cohort that is not similarly unmanned by threats to self-interest, let me know so I can nominate the holy bastards for sainthood.

80

Layman 07.06.18 at 1:44 am

Yan: “Going by my admittedly faulty memory of a period I’m anxious to forget, it was not at all clear to me that Krugman saw Bernie favorably compared to the Republicans or Trump.”

I think the charitable thing to do with this is agree that it’s down to faulty memory, and leave it at that.

81

Peter K. 07.06.18 at 2:34 am

I find it very disorienting that the liberals and centrists who furthered the dishonest “Bernie Bro” narrative and in general attacked Sanders and Corbyn (or ignored Corbyn) as unrealistic and promising “free ponies.” AOC is exactly the same as Sanders and Corbyn. She organized for Sanders. Their policies are practically the same (even as Sanders was late to the Abolish ICE position).

Pace Proyect, I think the DSA and fellow travelers are a little more radical and socialist than he gives them credit for. Perhaps he is right about Senator Sanders, but the DSA sees electoral politics as only one facet of politics, with the main one being mass mobilization and organization. (Sanders too emphasizes this.) Single payer health care is about removing capitalism from health care. The DSA is a way for people to the left of Dems to mingle and organize and do small project to help the local community from fixing brakelights to helping tenants deal with landlords.

Some fellow travelers feel that if somehow the DSA becomes powerful and mobilizes the population – eventually it will be riddled with cops and the elite will put a stop to the revolutionary reforms. But they don’t see any alternative to organizing and spreading the word.

Part of it is that young people don’t remember the Cold War. Some kids don’t remember 9/11.

Regarding the liberals and centrists being soft on AOC, I agree with the Corey Robins’s instinct that we should be more forgiving, but we should also have an accurate record of what happened.

I think some of them used to see the Left as much of an enemy as the Right, and in the past they preferred reasonable center right pundits and economists who moved in their same circles to the Left, especially those leftists who regularly called them sell-outs, etc. They really felt that if leftists took power it would be bad, or at least they were paid to feel that way.

But with Trump taking over the Republicans and the Republicans taking control of the Supreme Court, they see the Right as more of threat. The establishment Right has been taken over by the crazy Right they used to enable and encourage, so the center left will no longer be so judgmental and picky about those “crazies” to their left. Enemy of my enemy.

Plus the center left is weak and all the energy is with the Left as AOC’s victory demonstrated. She was outspent 10-1 and she didn’t just win, she crushed Crowley, who was in line for the leadership position, by 15 points. At 28 years old.

Crowley was endorsed by Gillibrand, backed by Planned Parenthood, anti-gun groups and all of the “establishment” liberal groups. And still the 10-term incumbent lost.

People can see that the Democrats are just not getting it done. If Hillary had won we’d probably be having a different conversation.

82

J-D 07.06.18 at 3:19 am

Ramshackle

In a society in which gender categories did not exist, it would obviously be true by definition that individuals would not use gender categories to identify themselves; but aspiring to the creation of such a society can’t change the fact that it is equally obviously true by definition that in societies in which gender categories do exist people do use gender categories to identify themselves.

83

Helen 07.06.18 at 4:17 am

Speaking as a social democrat who is anti – everything to do with neoliberalism and its destruction of labour relations and economic safety nets, I was scolded relentlessly by a brogressive pro-Sanders friend throughout the year of the US election (I’m an Australian, so is he, so the level of animus was astonishing.) Some of the tropes thrown at me were: Since you think HC is the least worst candidate, it means you endorse everything she’s ever done, it means you are in favour of neoliberalism, it means you just want to vote for a woman even though we say Bernie’s a better candidate, it means you are pro-war and want to kill Syrian children, it means you’re an elitist who just wants to support the haute bourgeoisie.. on and on and on.
So fast forward to last week and guess what? of course I’m delighted by a self-described social democratic (or democratic socialist which seems to be the current wording) winning a primary. My principles haven’t changed. They were just distorted and misrepresented by the brogressive left. My friend would eagerly adopt the framing employed in the OP (that I’ve belatedly seen the light about preferring a social democratic candidate), because of course that makes him look wise and consistent, and me uneducated and fickle. I completely reject that frame; it’s false.

84

Helen 07.06.18 at 4:20 am

…As for the argument on here about feminism, gender and sex: Where to start. I’ll just say this. Every reasonably educated person knows that gender orientation is neither down to biology nor socialisation. It’s a combination of the two working together. The “arguments” on here do no-one any favours.
Read Cordelia Fine, please.
When I hear the words “hard wired”, I reach for my gun. (Disclaimer for jumpy USians: this is a misquote of a popular quote, not a statement of intention.)

85

Ramshackle 07.06.18 at 4:27 am

J-D,

Yes, I touch on that in the second-to-last paragraph of my last post. I do not think we disagree. However, obviously, not everybody agrees that a society without gender categories is something possible, let alone something to aspire to. Those like Sebastian H, who believe in a “hardwired” gender that is prior to society, are the most obvious; but many (probably most) feminists and trans people are also not yet on the gender abolition train, for one reason or another. Liberals aside, that TERF politics occur again and again within the wider left, or that many trans people cope with a gendered society by having a gender essentialist conception of trans identity and politics, should show that the questions of sex and gender are hardly settled even within the left. I am simply making a foray into the debate and staking out a position on trans politics that, contra Sebastian H, does not rely on assumptions of gender essentialism.

That many liberals are now showing their favor for AOC seems genuine enough to me. AOC (and by extension the electoralist section of DSA), having pledged loyalty to the Dems, is now hardly a threat to Dem orthodoxy. Her politics are that of a conventional social democrat; even the call to abolish ICE is, rather than questioning the logic of the border and the nation-state, is already being neutered into lobbying for a return of the INS or similar government agency, with the work of immigration enforcement simply being pushed over to the DoJ. As if people weren’t being deported before ICE.

86

faustusnotes 07.06.18 at 4:35 am

The OP and most of this thread seem to be a massive exercise in sub-tweeting, and I think it would be helpful if some examples were provided. Is Corey Robin actually talking about leftists, or is he referring to what LGM calls the “reactionary centrists” who aren’t actually left wing at all? I think there were lots of left wing people who thought Sanders couldn’t win or thought that his politics wouldn’t be popular with a lot of Americans, but I would say that 0% of those left wing people would have suggested not voting for him if he did win. The same I think applies to Corbyn. So the OP seems misdirected somehow.

The problem a lot of people had with BernieBros and the post-primary behavior of the left in America has nothing to do with Sanders’ policy positions and everything to do with the way they slandered Clinton continuously and openly argued for not voting or voting for Stein. Those people – the people who repeated Russian lies and the people who argued Clinton was worse than Trump (and we are still hearing this e.g. from Susan Sarandon) have a lot to apologize for. But I don’t think those people are the ones who are suddenly changing their views and joining the “far left” that Ocasio-Cortez represents (haha, as if she would be considered anything more than mainstream left in any other country).

Perhaps there is some mainstream pundit who is left wing (unlikely), who robustly attacked Sanders from the right, who claimed that Sanders’s politics was so terrible that if he won the nomination they wouldn’t vote for him, and who is now all aboard the Ocasio-Cortez train? If so I’d like to see who this strange and contradictory creature is. Stop sub-tweeting them and give me an example!

87

nastywoman 07.06.18 at 4:49 am

– and coming back to:
”You want people to acknowledge their change in position, to explain, to articulate, to narrate, perhaps to inspire others in the process” –
perhaps Thomas Mann’s ”Like” -(or love) for Apfelstrudel is the best example?

Leading up to World War I, he was a fairly standard old-school conservative lover of traditional (sometimes really far too doughy) Apfelstrudel. That continued until the end of the war. After the war, he became a dedicated liberal defender of ”a more more diversified” Apfelstrudel -(even accepting some Schlagsahne on top of it).
Once the Nazis took over, his love for Apfelstrudel morphed into a humanist anti-heavy dough. By the end of the war, that humanist anti-heavy dough – had come to include overt sympathy with even ”cold” Apfelstrudel (or he even praised Bakers who forgot the ”Rosinen” on aesthetic grounds!) That continued into the late 1940s, when he supported Marta Feuchtwangers often surprising changable and very warm Apfelstrudels and was outspoken in his opposition to ”cold” Apfelstrudel.

AND – so –
as for these ”legitimate, if understandable, reasons: people are pissed at the way different bakers – bake different Apfelstrudels” – some really good Apfelstrudels were attacked in 2016 – and the feeling that some bakers were unfairly maligned? It could be that ”the people” just want some Bakers to LEARN how to bake a really good -(”light and fluffy”) Apfelstrudel?

And isn’t that really understandable from all human Apfelstrudel-lovers points of view?

And about ”the way you build a coalition or a movement”?.

You just bake ”an excellent Apfelstrudel” and if on top of it – you are also as much as a pleasantBaker as AOC -(there is by the way a pretty good restaurant with the same name in LA) –

ALL GOOD for changing…

88

navarro 07.06.18 at 1:00 pm

i appreciate mr. robin’s thoughtful piece above. as someone who has seen the left-liberal realm of politics as the best hope for humanity and as someone who started left of center and has only gotten more progressive over time i am tempted to use that old bromide “the church always loves to see converts but we don’t make them pope the next day.” perhaps that’s too glib.

another possibility regarding the shifts in democrats’ thinking is that because of the legislative and judicial work of the republicans over the past 18 months those structural factors which allowed 45 to be elected with a minority of the popular vote have only gotten more entrenched. this makes it vital for everyone to start rowing together. for the leadership– intellectual, legislative, etc– of the democratic party to start rowing in the direction of undeniably popular positions should be a matter of supreme self-interest.

89

JBL 07.06.18 at 2:06 pm

So, with all this talk about Krugman, I thought it would be worthwhile to actually to back and read some of what he wrote. I looked through a list of his columns from 2015 and 2016, clicked on the links that looked like they might have relevant three-way comparisons, and then tried to find any comments that might reveal a preference ranking among Bernie, Hillary, and Republicans. Here is what I found:
From https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/12/opinion/on-economic-stupidity.html :

On the Democratic side, both contenders talk sensibly about macroeconomic policy, with Mr. Sanders rightly declaring that the recent rate hike was a bad move. But Mr. Sanders has also attacked the Federal Reserve in a way Mrs. Clinton has not — and that difference illustrates in miniature both the reasons for his appeal and the reasons to be very worried about his approach.

From https://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/22/opinion/how-change-happens.html :

There are still quite a few pundits determined to pretend that America’s two great parties are symmetric — equally unwilling to face reality, equally pushed into extreme positions by special interests and rabid partisans. It’s nonsense, of course. Planned Parenthood isn’t the same thing as the Koch brothers, nor is Bernie Sanders the moral equivalent of Ted Cruz. And there’s no Democratic counterpart whatsoever to Donald Trump.

From https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/08/opinion/sanders-over-the-edge.html :

Is Mr. Sanders positioning himself to join the “Bernie or bust” crowd, walking away if he can’t pull off an extraordinary upset, and possibly helping put Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in the White House? If not, what does he think he’s doing?

The Sanders campaign has brought out a lot of idealism and energy that the progressive movement needs. It has also, however, brought out a streak of petulant self-righteousness among some supporters. Has it brought out that streak in the candidate, too?

Note that this process excluded columns that only mentioned Bernie and Hillary, but no Republicans. I think the conclusion here is that Krugman’s preferences were
Clinton >> Bernie >> Republicans,
that these preferences were very clear in his writing, and that both gaps were large enough that he had plenty of bad things to say about Bernie. (For disclosure, my own preferences were Bernie > Clinton >> Republicans, and I wasn’t reading Krugman regularly during the campaign.)

Incidentally, he did write at least one column that could be read as pro-Bernie:
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/19/opinion/something-not-rotten-in-denmark.html

90

John Garrett 07.06.18 at 2:33 pm

For many of us lifetime radicals (much preferable to leftist since it’s about action) the big change unmentioned here is from national to local, without any significant shift in goals. I give money to the furthest left candidates I can find nationally, but my work on the ground is all within 20 miles of here. There are many like me.

91

engels 07.06.18 at 2:36 pm

The “arguments” on here do no-one any favours.

Could we please just take this as read for every thread

92

M Caswell 07.06.18 at 2:58 pm

How did the hipster burn his mouth?

He drank his coffee… before it was cool.

93

politicalfootball 07.06.18 at 3:34 pm

There’s an unfortunate tendency — exemplified by Prof. Robin’s writings during the general election campaign — to see the interesting political conflicts as existing among Democrats, and not between Democrats and Republicans.

I mean, there is an interesting and useful debate taking place among Democrats, but those conversations have been largely theoretical for a long time — and especially so after Trump’s nomination. In the world we actually live in, Hillary and Bernie are on the same side.

(I mean, yes, Hillary is too sympathetic to war; Bernie is too dismissive of diversity, but Hillary is no neocon, and Bernie is no racist or sexist.)

Everybody except us Internet cranks gets this. Bernie’s people kicked up a fuss at the convention, but they didn’t sit out the election and they didn’t vote for Trump or Stein. AOC is going to be a fine representative, and (in my opinion) a big improvement for the district, but Crowley was far better than the current median congressman, and not a guy that decent people have to be embarrassed about, at least in the context of the United States in 2018.

In a democracy, you have to look to build a coalition that includes more than half the voters. In the US, which has many of the attributes of a democracy, liberals need to get the support of something like 55-60 percent of the voters nationally in federal elections. If you position yourself as being on the opposite side of Bernie or Hillary (as opposed to having a preference for one or the other), then you are, by definition, positioning yourself on the side of defeat. By definition, you are irrelevant. People who seek political relevance seek to be part of a majority.

94

engels 07.06.18 at 3:46 pm

Yes you can argue for trans rights from a gender abolitionist perspective but ime the vast majority don’t. The mainstream view appears to be as Susan says: everyone has a gender, to which they have privileged epistemic access, and which does not necessarily match the body they were born with or the socialisation they were given. That doesn’t seem consistent with the view that gender is a patriarchally imposed fiction.

95

Donald 07.06.18 at 3:49 pm

If we are doing personal anecdotes, I could supply my share of Clintonites who unfairly attacked me. I have also been attacked by people on the far far left. If I told these stories I can guarantee I would be the reasonable hero and my critics would look like nutcases, but it would save time if you just take my word for it and adopt my politics.

I think Peter K has it right.

96

Yan 07.06.18 at 3:56 pm

Layman @80

Yes, Layman is always the first name that comes to mind whenever I hear the word “charitable.” Well, second only to the name Faustusnotes.

Helen @84: “Every reasonably educated person knows that gender orientation is neither down to biology nor socialisation. It’s a combination of the two working together.”

While I agree with this view, I think the claim that every reasonably educated person believes or knows it is questionable.

“The “arguments” on here do no-one any favours. Read Cordelia Fine, please.”

Maybe I missed it, but I haven’t seen any posts purporting to make arguments for a particular view of gender. The main argument has been whether a segment of the left has historically held two incompatible views.

Ironically, after criticizing others arguments, you offer an appeal to authority: read so and so.

This is, after all, part of the problem with the left’s discourse on gender. I believe we have generally the correct view, but we do a very poor job of selling it, because both the early strong anti-essentialist view and the currently view, sometimes essentialist-seeming, sometimes more of a synthesis of the two, have been 1) asserted as matters of scientific fact by questionable appeal to authority rather than charitably explained and argued and 2) usually by appeal not to the sciences but the humanities.

A major influence in the anti-essentialism of 2nd wave feminism is, for example, Beauvoir, who gets it from existentialism. A major influence in 3rd wave feminism’s variation on anti-essentialism is Foucault and Butler.

Cordelia Fine is at least a psychologist, but what most skeptics need are arguments from experts in the hard sciences.

It’s true that the humanities have rightly critiqued the harder sciences’ pretense to epistemic neutrality, but to simply let people who are experts in social science at best, and Derrida, Shakespeare, or Husserl at worst, dictate scientific truths as settled, unquestionable matters is absurd.

One result of this is that some who are suspicious of Theory become reactionary scientific reductionists who fall back on antiquated, scientifically dubious biological theories of gender. It’s not helpful.

We need a real cooperative, comparative, and synthetic philosophical, psychological, biological, and neurological theory of sex and gender if we are to make progress on this.

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efcdons 07.06.18 at 4:13 pm

I think what Prof. Robin and others are describing are the commentators who either directly or indirectly supported the Clinton “free stuff”/”ponies” framing of Sanders’ proposals now supporting AOC, even if they say they are limiting their support to a candidate like her to running in her particular type of district.

AOC and Sanders both support the same policy goals. Not in a broad “we all want universal health care” way, but specifically like with Medicare For All or “free” college.

So it seems hard to believe , or it at least seems to need some explanation, as to how “free stuff”/”ponies” was once bad but is now good.

Since both a president and congress are necessary for passing proposals like M4A in to law, claiming policies as proposed by a candidate for president vs a candidate for congress (as a reminder, AOC still has to win a general election) should be evaluated differently doesn’t seem to be a tenable argument. Neither Sanders nor AOC would be able to just push their proposals in to law if they were to get in to power.

I think the mistrust and even anger toward people who have “seen the light” comes from how how distressing it was to hear those who claimed to be “on the left” (wherever they might place themselves on a spectrum) deploy what is a very far right wing argument against not really very left wing policy proposals.

The “free stuff” framing is so damaging to basically the entire left of center project that it felt like peoples’ either disliked Sanders so much they were willing to deploy the “nuclear option” to bring him down through a willingness to help strengthen the right wing vision of government provided public benefits. Like how “even the liberal New Republic” gave the right cover in the 90s to push the Democratic party to the right. Or, they genuinely believe in the “deserving” vs “undeserving” and it took Sanders to make them show their true colors. Even when it was couched in a faux objective “this is what the gop will say to take down Bernie” way, there was never an explanation as to why the “free stuff” idea was wrong both ideologically and functionally at the most basic level. The way, for example, the birther argument made against Obama was even when a columnist was “just” describing what the republicans were saying.

Either way the unexplained change of heart is strange. Were their previous positions just political gamesmanship to help Clinton (doing a kind of “Sister Souljah” for Clinton using Bernie)? Are they just pretending now because they see the way the wind if blowing in the Democratic party? Or did they genuinely rethink their terrible arguments and now believe that universal government benefits are politically legitimate and politically viable?

Speaking for myself, I think my continuing distrust and kind of anger really comes from the way a lot of these people made an “electability” argument for Clinton that very quickly came an incredibly patronizing “just so story” that only idiots didn’t understand or agree with.

Lots of people argued from the very beginning that HRC, even if it was totally unfair, was a uniquely disliked candidate who had too much baggage to win a nation-wide election. At the time that argument was dismissed as not only wrong, but actively misogynist. Even when the people making that argument were women who were unimpeachable in their feminist bona fides. And even after the “unlikable” argument was proved to be correct, the pro-HRC people (really, more like strident anti-Sanders) couldn’t admit they had been wrong and instead blamed everything from Russia to Comey to the “Bernie Bros”. They literally made a Dolchstoss argument rather than admitting Sanders supporters could have possibly been correct.

That has been really maddening. The inability or unwillingness to admit people to the commentators’ left had been at least a little bit correct but still wanting to “jump on the bandwagon”, so to speak.

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Yan 07.06.18 at 4:26 pm

Ramshackle @68, from the linked article:
“In this politics, trans is not something one “is”, as an ahistoric and pre-political property, but a political condition inflicted on some one because of the continued identification of sex with gender as well as gender and sex essentialism…. in a world after the end of gender, or at least after the end of assignment of gender and gendered expectations, there is no trans. “

This article is very helpful–exactly what I had in mind by a synthesis between the older and newer left discourses on gender.

I’d add that I think that on the one hand, the fact that many don’t explicitly put the point the way that article does leads to some confusion. On the other hand, it may well be politically strategic to nevertheless allow for that confusion.

Given that many of the people we want to persuade tend to think about gender in an essentialist way, giving them the impression that transgender just is a newly discovered instance of the essentialist genders they’ve assumed exist may be the most effective way to change their moral attitudes.

I think a good analogy here is to the political strategy of arguing against homophobia that being gay isn’t a lifestyle choice but a way one is born and fundamentally is. That’s true, but it misleadingly implies that it’s only justified *because one can’t help it*. Being gay is okay, simply, period, not because it’s unchangeable. But that argument was politically effective because it made gay rights continuous with civil rights and feminism, so it was worth that misleading implication.

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JimV 07.06.18 at 4:41 pm

“The proverbial “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” Which always gets attributed to Keynes but was in all likelihood said by Paul Samuelson.”

As I read the link (which was interesting, thanks), PS definitely did say something like that, but claimed he had heard it first (probably on a less public occasion of which there is no official record) from JMK. The link does record that JMK publicly treated the hobgoblins of consistency (to misquote Emerson) with sarcasm. So I don’t see any reason to doubt PS (other than the tendency of reality to favor the less obvious explanations for things).

The best version, a la a previous commenter, is I think: “When my information changes I change my mind (etc.).” However, my own semantics don’t always rise to the occasion with the best formulation of what I mean, so I try not to hold extemporaneous sayings to the highest standard.

(Donated to BS, would have voted for a lot less attractive candidate than HRC over Trump, don’t know a lot about O-C, but the story seems to be that she has replaced a good-ish Democratic candidate (who now supports her campaign) with a better one.)

(Speaking of people changing their minds, as I recall a lot of people excoriated Nate Silver for estimating Trump’s chances of winning too highly just prior to the 2016 election; and then later for concluding that Comey’s announcement had a dispositive effect–not that I want to re-litigate such stuff. If we all agreed that we’re fallible and will try to do better in the future, that would be fine with me. )

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engels 07.06.18 at 5:17 pm

Btw of you want another example of the kind of thing Sebastian is talking about moral relativism might be it (meaning the idea that moral judgments are vary according to the culture and historical time in which they’re made). Two decades ago it was a shibboleth of the American campus left which American conservatives staunchly opposed. Now the sides in that culture war have flipped.

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theTransparentHand 07.06.18 at 5:34 pm

It could be said that some intellectuals are not as interested in self-examination or self-reflection as they are in examining the those elements that interest them most in the world external to them. As Corey wrote “We live in the world of ideas, with an emphasis on that word ‘world.’ The world is not what goes on in our heads; it’s what’s happening out there, between heads.” Some folks don’t even recognise that they have changed their minds, that they once held one opinion and now they hold another. Such a realisation requires at least some self-reflection. I think we might collectively benefit in many ways, not only political, from more self-reflection. We also might collectively benefit from more exploration, narration, and examination of how and why we have changed our minds. I don’t think it’s asking too much, but maybe some folks don’t actually see the point? I’m at a loss.

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Patrick 07.06.18 at 6:24 pm

I don’t think people are changing their minds in most cases. I think they just hold contradictory beliefs and don’t realize it or maybe don’t care.

I think conservatives simultaneously believe that they’re enlightened economic minded people who recognize the utility of free trade unlike those liberals who want to muck up the economic order to save some blue collar jobs that are going extinct due to forces beyond our ken, and also that China is screwing us and we should have a trade war with them.

I think liberals simultaneously believe that gender is a spooky, undefined, but definitely inherent attribute that doesn’t necessarily meet biological sex, but also that no real world outcomes are attributable to gender, and that this is so obvious that anyone who suggests otherwise is a monster.

I could go on like this for some time.

I think people just pull out whatever belief fits the needs of the moment and apply it.

Everything is apologetics.

Except my beliefs and values, of course. Obviously this human universal doesn’t apply to me.

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Kiwanda 07.06.18 at 6:28 pm

Yan:

At the end of the day, however, remember what’s really important in this debate. To refuse to accept someone’s self-characterization and preferred pronoun when it does no harm to anyone and shows you care about how they feel is just being a jerk.

Of course, absolutely. However, this is maybe the easiest issue. What may be harder ones: consider a person like this, a trans lesbian who, according to chromosomes, genitals, secondary sexual characteristics, body structure, sexual preferences, and presentation would traditionally be regarded as a straight man. What should be their access or assignment as lesbians to women’s domestic violence shelters, changing/locker rooms, homeless hostels, athletic leagues, or prisons? Need they (or someone who presents in a more femme way) say anything on lesbian dating sites about their physical configuration before going on a date? Would it be transphobic for a lesbian to be uninterested in sex with them? Should lesbian bars welcome them?

Kathleen Stock raises and discusses such issues. (The leiterreports link above concerns her pieces, and a response.) The Economist has a recent collection of essays on trans issues, including by one by her, and one by a trans woman who has concerns about self-id as a sole criterion of trans status.

It is counter-intuitive to me that my sexual preferences are not in large part “hard-wired”; is there an argument from the gender-critical perspective that in some other social environment, they could have been different?

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engels 07.06.18 at 6:47 pm

in a world after the end of gender, or at least after the end of assignment of gender and gendered expectations, there is no trans

In which case what is the term for people who have a right to public resources like eg facial laser hair removal to make their bodies conform better with their self-understanding of their gender? Or are you stipulating that they will no longer demand them?

105

politicalfootball 07.06.18 at 8:50 pm

I think what Prof. Robin and others are describing are the commentators who either directly or indirectly supported the Clinton “free stuff”/”ponies” framing of Sanders’ proposals now supporting AOC, even if they say they are limiting their support to a candidate like her to running in her particular type of district.

We’re still not naming names. You, Prof. Robin et al seem to be referring to people who elicited different feelings from Bernie supporters, not people who actually made different arguments. We see that Krugman’s column on AOC, for instance, is entirely consistent with his past comments on Bernie.

The free stuff/ponies claim was not based on opposition to ponies and free stuff. It was based primarily on the lack of a plausible plan for achieving those goals. It’s not at all inconsistent to ask Bernie to have a specific, plausible plan to accomplish his goals but to also wish for a political environment in which such goals are plausible. AOC clearly moves us in that direction. Bernie (it was argued) did not.

Now I personally don’t buy that argument and didn’t at the time. (I haven’t changed, either!) As I said in 70, I am pro-unicorn. Bernie laid the groundwork for AOC and folks like her, in my opinion. History will regard Bernie as being ahead of his time, or the future is going to suck.

On the other hand, there was a tiny-but-vocal minority of Bernie supporters who downplayed Trump’s loathsomeness and wildly exaggerated Hillary’s faults. They are doomed to irrelevance.

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Lobsterman 07.06.18 at 8:57 pm

I am honestly waiting for the idiocy surrounding current trans politics to die down, for the exact reasons stated: gender is a construct, and the current batch of politics surrounding trans folks is gender essentialism in different form. It all needs to come down.

Dysphorias are real, and we’ve learned that they are sometimes best treated by changing the body to match the mind’s self-conception. It’s a thing we have learned and can now do, due to our improved technologies. I don’t see that as something which will or should change.

But gender is still a construct, no matter how desperately attached to performing their preferred gender a given person is. That’s where people go off the rails. We’ll get back there fairly soon, I’m sure. There are far too many cis men who want to be nice to their kids and cis women who have ambition toward their careers for us to put up with this gender role nonsense much longer.

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Lobsterman 07.06.18 at 8:58 pm

I cannot think of a single liberal (or other human) who thinks that no real world outcomes come from gender expectations or performance.

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Ramshackle 07.06.18 at 9:30 pm

Engels @104

I want to be flippant and stipulate that they’ll be called “people who want laser hair removal” because by the time we’ve gotten over gender we’ll also all be godless communists, so if anybody wants lasers pointed at any part of their body then we can just fire away.

But on the underlying question about things like e.g. healthcare and health insurance, it’s the case now that, in our gendered society, it is more or less required of trans people to identify with a one of the binary genders in order to gain access to those services, where that’s an option in the first place anyway. That’s a practical matter of expediency and I have no problems with it.

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Ramshackle 07.06.18 at 9:50 pm

Engels @104

Okay, thinking over my (currently in moderation) comment, I am being too flippant. My meaning is that my hope is that such services, even those seen as “elective”, would be easily accessible to any who would want such services, aside from certain qualifications (e.g. body dysmorphia where the underlying pathology would not be treated by the procedure, and the procedure would do harm instead). If we’ve somehow abolished gender yet are still at a point where access to routine services remains a hardship, then gaining access to those services remains as part of the overall class struggle.

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nastywoman 07.06.18 at 10:10 pm

– and I really don’t want to belabor the Apfelstrudel – but it really could be a fitting metaphor for this idea that basically everybody who is on the left is on the same side and so these funny fits about some who think they are ”leftier” than others – or not – and thusly invented the ”Bro” – even as some of US didn’t have any ”Bro” equipment – was so… so… cute? – and I liked them anywhoo and I even thought that Kate was such a great Hillary and Hillary probably would have been such an acceptable Kate – or even a ”Bernie” -(after a sex change?) – that I forgive them all – even my friend Paul – as he might have been a lot like Thomas Mann too – sometimes having his Strudel with Sahne and sometimes not?

111

Mario 07.06.18 at 10:42 pm

The problem with the modern left is that it has very little political capital (oh, the word!) apart from principles and morals. Back in the day there was a realistic alternative political project, which, in principle, had something for everyone. Nowadays though there just isn’t such a project and the result is that all that is left really just is bare morals and principles, and the resulting piety contests.

As a consequence, the left has, in practice, accepted capitalism as the baseline scenario and is playing by its rules while pretending something else. (Back when the Damore memo hit the waves, what really struck me was the idea that the google campus was a “liberal environment”. That was like reading that the death star in star wars was staffed by budhists.)

The modern left can’t provide a constructive answer to the problems of, say, the working class. Such things are not even much on the radar. Note how trans rights and gender issues (issues completely irrelevant to the wider population) absolutely dominate the discussion, while the plight of the working poor, or the well-being of families, is mostly ignored.

Furthermore, many on the modern left use principles and morals as branding tokens (like wearing Nike shoes, being vegan or driving a hybrid), and don’t give much of a damn about outcomes. That’s why they can change opinions overnight without feeling much remorse: it’s not as if these ever were sincere opinions.

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Mario 07.06.18 at 10:52 pm

Lobsterman @106,

But gender is still a construct, no matter how desperately attached to performing their preferred gender a given person is. That’s where people go off the rails. We’ll get back there fairly soon, I’m sure. There are far too many cis men who want to be nice to their kids and cis women who have ambition toward their careers for us to put up with this gender role nonsense much longer.

If you pardon me – how do you suggest we negotiate who gets to get pregnant and/or breast feed?

That “role nonsense” you so attack has reasons to exist. It’s not just a whim of the folks that just happened to be around recently on the planet. A political project that does not acknowledge that is just plain misanthropy.

113

bianca steele 07.06.18 at 10:59 pm

“Essentialism” fwiw is possibly not the best term to describe the question most people are discussing, as the *particular* school of feminism that’s most associated with opposition to the idea of trans women being women are themselves essentialists: they believe women are properly women in one way, and improperly, that is under patriarchy, are women in a different way (none of those including me, afaik, boo boo). But frankly it’s not surprising Sebastian wants to talk about feminism without knowing this.

114

J-D 07.06.18 at 11:48 pm

engels

The mainstream view appears to be as Susan says: everyone has a gender, to which they have privileged epistemic access, and which does not necessarily match the body they were born with or the socialisation they were given. That doesn’t seem consistent with the view that gender is a patriarchally imposed fiction.

To me those positions don’t seem inconsistent. What inconsistency is apparent to you?

115

politicalfootball 07.07.18 at 12:14 am

I am a happily adjusted cis-white male in late middle age. I have no competence to speak on the gender-related topics on this thread. Except that us old white guys are de jure experts on everything — it’s the law — so I will now tell you how it is.

My sister’s offspring — who I still find myself wanting to refer to as my niece — has some significant ambiguity around gender. This child abandoned the name given at birth at around age 15. (This was my mother’s name!!) And I struggled with it for a bit.

This person has not, as far as I know, declared a gender, and hasn’t undergone any kind of surgical intervention. This young person has a shaved head, but still presents plausibly as female — yet doesn’t really look like a young woman either.

Speaking solely for myself, and not for my sister’s offspring, I’m glad that there has been no surgery, because I suspect that gender is an idea that needs to be abolished. That said, I know that there are people who think that breasts or penises need to be removed. And that’s up to them. It’s none of my business.

People need to use the restrooms and locker rooms that they are comfortable using. Period.

I’m an old white guy, and I have spoken. This debate is closed. Your opinion doesn’t matter.

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engels 07.07.18 at 12:57 am

What inconsistency is apparent to you?

In the common pro-trans view gender is a cognition; in the radfem view it’s a choice (presently made under duress).

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Collin Street 07.07.18 at 1:30 am

I’m glad that there has been no surgery, because I suspect that gender is an idea that needs to be abolished.

Just a pointer, but surgery is tied to sex, not gender; dysphoria is a real thing that can affect genitals. Lobsterman sets it out better.

[sex is biology, gender is culture. We use “gender” more because bluntly the things that are rooted in biology are pretty scanty]

118

Faustusnotes 07.07.18 at 1:45 am

Over 100 comments in and noone is naming names or giving examples. This is an epic subtweet but it’s also useless. I can think of some Bernie Bros who attacked Clinton with lies taken from Russian operatives (the young Turks) and I’m happy to name names. I would like to see Corey (or anyone else really) do the same for these supposed leftists who attacked Bernie from the right and then converted to his cause recently. The idea it was Krugman has been comprehensively debunked up above. So who is it?

As usual Mario is waffling. The left is the stuck with just morals and principles, they have a definite and popular program – uhc, gun control, enhanced democracy etc. It’s a good program and it has concrete plans. Mario is just attempting to pretend the left is a movement of nothing more than safe spaces and trigger warnings. Boring!!

I think the terf vs trans activist battle needs to be recast as a right vs. left battle rather than an internecine squabble. Radical Feminism is a conservative and misogynist movement based on the worst kind of reductive gender esssentialism with anti liberal goals and strong sympathies for religious and political conservatives. They hate sex workers, treating them as quislings, and they exclude young women and anyone who doesn’t fit their narrow sexual and social morals from their movement. Recently they aligned with the Republicans to pass sesta/fosta, which does nothing to protect vulnerable women and everything to harm sex workers. The struggle for trans rights against this branch of feminism is not an internecine squabble but a battle against an illiberal and weird arm of conservatism.

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Sebastian H 07.07.18 at 2:03 am

FOSTA/SESTA is a disaster for general liberty, and a specific disaster for sex workers, but calling it a conservative thing when the vote was 97-2 in the Senate, with the only opposition coming from libertarians, is miscasting the liberal part of the problem.

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Heliopause 07.07.18 at 2:26 am

@117
Good to know that I’m not the last human on Earth who took introductory Cultural Anthropology.

121

Donald 07.07.18 at 3:18 am

Faustusnotes— I just deleted an argumentative post about Sanders, Clinton, corruption, and Iraq and since it is a deleted post I could pretend I also had included all the links that in some parallel universe I spent hours collecting, documenting the reasons I didn’t like Clinton or some of her supporters. I won’t do it for real because I care enough about these online squabbles to participate in a small way, but not enough to waste hours on it.

But here is the short version. I voted for Clinton because Trump or any Republican would be worse. That was an easy choice. But I heard a lot of Clinton supporters praise her foreign policy expertise and this was after the decade when liberals had said the Iraq War was the most catastrophic blunder of its generation. She supported it. As people said upthread, it is hard to take liberals seriously when faced with obvious contradictions of that sort. There should have been people lined up to run for the Democratic nomination and Clinton should have been booed off the stage if she had wanted to run on her foreign policy chops, but instead our liberal intellectuals lined up behind her and it was left to a cranky old guy to point out her weaknesses. If Clinton was truly the best the Democratic Party had to offer on foreign policy then the Party was in sad shape. I used to read Krugman faithfully, but when he brushed off her Iraq War vote he showed himself to be a hack. That was her moment to show both courage and good sense and she blew it. I don’t need Russian trolls to tell me she was acting in character. She is a militarist and not a very smart one. Trump is worse, but that is a bar low enough for anyone to clear. Sanders had little interest in the subject of foreign policy, but to his credit he has moved to the left, he is one of the few politicians critical of Israel ( AOC is another) and has been a leader in opposing our vicious war in Yemen.

I did find posts at the nakedcapitalism blog praising Sanders’s approach to single payer. My impression is that he took the position AOC takes— we won’t have single payer if politicians are beholden to large donors representing, say, insurance companies. Sanders doesn’t have to be a policy wonk himself — he needs to see what the political obstacles are. I think he sees those clearly and AOC thinks the way he does regarding big money donors.

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ph 07.07.18 at 5:10 am

After several attempts to identify the specific differences distinguishing Sanders from other politicians who either self-identify as socialists, or are labeled as socialists (none of which made it through moderation), let’s try with a more general observation – namely that not all politicians are alike, irrespective of the political label.

Misunderstanding the mood of the electorate has real consequences.

Support for charter schools is high among African-American young adults. Most Americans support strong borders and want more legal immigration. Bernie Sanders is regarded negatively by many Democrats and some Republicans, but for different reasons.

Running against Trump means running against the master of this tactic – low-energy Jeb was just the first of his many victims. That said, if the stakes are high enough, and they were in 2016, many anti-Trump voters would have ignored the long-standing American antipathy towards ‘socialism’ and pulled the lever for Bernie – in large part because Bernie has an long track record of taking principled stands while usually voting with the Democratic party.

Calling a known factor like Bernie a name would not have scared off voters rightly concerned about a Trump-Pence partnership controlling the Supreme Court picks up to 2020, and perhaps for another decade. Those were the stakes then and those are the stakes now.

I supported Bernie because I believed and believe could have won, and that he was the best candidate. I’m equally confident Biden might have held Wisconsin and rust-belt areas the Democratic candidate chose to largely ignore.

A large number of Americans support policies that once looked and sounded socialist – such as Medicare, Social Security, and the right-to-collective bargaining, but that are at the core of modern American life today. These projects were enacted from the grass roots up, not by ‘messaging machines’ and photogenic candidates.

Tell an American you’re a socialist and expect the conversation to end 7 times out of ten. The right will pick apart any individual who stands in opposition. Bernie and his track record can withstand that scrutiny. Bernie might have some skeletons, but the only one we heard of was his ‘possible atheism’ and ‘difficulties connecting the black voters.’

I supported Bernie in 2016, given the choices. That would be a tougher call today with Biden in the race. Democrats are in still in shock. Believing that yesterday’s battle plan will win today’s messaging war seems an extremely poor strategy given the stakes.

Biden was the principal target of the DNC’s successful effort to rig the Democratic primary. (Sanders wasn’t even on their radar.) After Trump it’s a fairly safe bet that safe hands will be an important factor in selecting the next president. In the short term, the mid-terms, running ‘socialist’ blue candidates in races that are blue is a strategy that requires some thought. Socialism remains a dirty word in America, like it or not.

As this will be my last post for a while, one way or the other, I’ll link to an article that includes links to two polls: one that confirms Americans don’t respond well to the word ‘socialist’ and another that shows support for Democrats dropping among young white voters, a ten-point lead now indicating dead even. (Apologies if there are problems with the link. Should be easy enough for the curious to fix.)

https://spectator.org/beware-the-red-wave/

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nastywoman 07.07.18 at 5:13 am

@115
”I’m an old white guy, and I have spoken. This debate is closed. Your opinion doesn’t matter”.

I’m not (an old white guy) but somehow I sooo agree with ”I have spoken. This debate is closed. Your opinion doesn’t matter”.
Especially about this – ”gender issues absolutely dominate the discussion, while the plight of the working poor, or the well-being of families, is mostly ignored and AOC is probably one of the best examples that the modern left CAN provide a constructive answer to the problems of, say, the working class – and that such things are so much more on the radar than any gender differences between her and Bernie – and it’s NOT our -(the so called ”lefts”) fault – that ”the people” -(especially the American people) – in these times like to pick ”Stars” -(defined as the idea of ”luminous and shining bodies and minds” who give especially Americans who have lost their ”purpose” some of IT back) – as their politicians –
which is nothing bad – and and ME has spoken.
This debate is closed.
And all of Y’alls opinion doesn’t matter”.

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Faustusnotes 07.07.18 at 7:25 am

Sebastian I didn’t say the Dems weren’t conservative and misogynist! (Though actually in this case I think they were partially misled as were the stupid celebrities who supported it. Anti sex work activists can use quite illiberal means to win their goals).

Donald, at last someone makes an effort to identify the people involved, though again only by invoking Krugman, whose contribution was more thoroughly investigated uptread. The problem with your Iraq war deal-breaker is that Sanders hasn’t exactly been a saint on Iraq. He voted for sanctions and defended his vote even when the (now shown to be erroneous) claims of half a million ddead children were being broadcast. It also seems irrelevant since the people Corey is describing probably aren’t coming back to the fold via an acknowledgement of their error on Iraq. We don’t know if course because 120 comments in and we still don’t have a single concrete example of who these terrible people were.

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hix 07.07.18 at 7:37 am

Considering the amount of environmental change he saw, his changes in political opinion dont look all that spectacular. Getting more and more distanced towards communism, even outright anticommunist hysteria is frankly quite understandable during the reign of stalin. And when the stakes where highest, during the rise of communism he seems to have gotten things right.

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J-D 07.07.18 at 8:03 am

engels

In an earlier comment you suggested there was an inconsistency between two positions, the first of which held (I hope this paraphrase does not distort your meaning but perhaps you’ll let me know if it does) that each individual has a gender and ‘privileged epistemic access’ to that gender (you suggested this one was ‘mainstream’) and the second of which held that gender is a ‘gender is a patriarchally imposed fiction’. Now you suggest that there is an inconsistency between the view that gender is a cognition (which you call the ‘common pro-trans view’) and the view that gender is a choice (which you call the ‘radfem view’).

I get how the view that each individual has privileged epistemic access to ‘uns own gender can be summarised as ‘gender is a cognition’; but I’m not clear on the supposed relationship between the view that gender is a patriarchally imposed fiction and the view that it’s a choice.

In any case, I don’t think there’s a necessary inconsistency between supposing that gender is a cognition and supposing that it is a choice; and I also don’t think there’s any necessary inconsistency between supposing that gender is a cognition (the ‘privileged epistemic access’ view) and supposing that it is a patriarchally imposed fiction.

I don’t think any of those forms of words (which I’m trying just to quote from you) are the clearest way of expressing the way I perceive the issue; please let me know if you think it would help for me to try to spell out my own position more thoroughly.

127

J-D 07.07.18 at 8:07 am

Mario

The modern left can’t provide a constructive answer to the problems of, say, the working class.

False. The modern left advocates (among other things) for stronger legal protection of the rights of employees (as against employers) in general, and stronger protections for union rights in particular; nothing would do more to improve the position of the working class.

128

Layman 07.07.18 at 11:19 am

Mario:

“Back in the day there was a realistic alternative political project, which, in principle, had something for everyone.”

“As a consequence, the left has, in practice, accepted capitalism as the baseline scenario and is playing by its rules while pretending something else.”

I for one think you should say more about this. What was this realistic alternative political project, the one that didn’t accept capitalism as the baseline scenario and which had, in principle, something for everyone? Who espoused it, and when and where? What happened to it, and to those glorious people who carried it out? I’m intrigued, because it sounds quite nice, really, but I’m buggered if I can recall anything about that golden time at all.

(It strikes me that you could replace the word ‘left’ with the word ‘right’ in your analysis and the explanatory value would not be altered one bit. The right is not what it was. The right has no realistic project with something for everyone. The right only has its principles and morals. The right plays by the rules of capitalism while pretending something else. The right can’t offer anything to the working class. The right uses their principles and morals as branding tokens. All bland, broadly applicable generalities. It’s just an exercise in reading palms, or tea leaves.)

129

Lawrence Maggitti 07.07.18 at 12:00 pm

“Clinton should have been booed off the stage if she had wanted to run on her foreign policy chops, but instead our liberal intellectuals lined up behind her and it was left to a cranky old guy to point out her weaknesses.”

It would have been nice to have lived in a world where the last clause of your sentence actually happened. Instead the cranky old guy did, indeed, point out her weaknesses (some real, some not) on a variety of OTHER issues, but on foreign policy was mostly silent, and when he did speak offered some vague critiques but mostly supported the liberal interventionist consensus.

As I said upthread, if Sanders had actually been good (i.e., non-interventionist) on foreign policy I might have voted for him.

130

engels 07.07.18 at 12:07 pm

Tell an American you’re a socialist and expect the conversation to end 7 times out of ten.

Nearly 45 percent of millennials polled said that they would prefer to live in a socialist country compared to the 42 percent who said they preferred a capitalist one. Another 7 percent said that the preferred living in a communist country above all.
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/11/03/millennials-think-socialism-would-create-great-safe-space-study-finds.html

131

Steve 07.07.18 at 12:22 pm

132

theTransparentHand 07.07.18 at 3:54 pm

Tell an American you’re a socialist and expect the conversation to end 7 times out of ten.

When I tried to register to vote in Wyoming as a democratic socialist, the person registering me shot me a very puzzled look and asked “is that ‘Independent’?” I just chuckled and said “alright, let’s go with that”.

133

dbk 07.07.18 at 5:52 pm

There are lots of things I believe in which I’ve believed in since I was in college a long time ago. I continue to believe in these things because (a) I believed they were justifiable in accordance with my personal values and (b) the experiences of a lifetime have convinced me that my original beliefs were at least not at odds with my personal values.

I believe in all the things on AOC’s platform and then some – all public goods should be publicly-owned (retail banking, most modes of transportation, energy, (tele)communications, public infrastructure, education including day care/preschool/afterschool). I think Medicaid for All is an improvement over Medicare for All (the former covers vision/dental).

These aren’t socialist positions, as others have been quick to point out upthread. They’re social democratic positions, and I believe they result in the greatest benefit – least suffering for the largest number of people. I believe this because the experience of the past 40 years has taught me that the “other way” – the neo-liberal way – has not achieved these.

I don’t, however, see the issue quite the way CR does. I read sources to keep up with policy developments in education – healthcare – the environment, and the positions expressed by authors / thinkers are similar to or more progressive than AOC’s. They don’t get the national exposure of other public intellectuals publishing in the NYT, WaPo, and the mainstream online magazines, but they’re out front of Sanders and AOC.

For the most part, the liberal (meaning I think “neo-liberal”) media are representative of the 9.9% – the “managerial,” “mandarin” class. They largely acknowledge shifts in public opinion after the fact – sometimes, long after the fact.

If you read Paul Jay or Paul Street, or Chris Hedges or Thomas Frank, or Shaun Richman or Sarah Jaffe, or Adam Gaffney or Sarah Kliff, or Noam Chomsky, then AOC’s victory was not surprising, but reaffirming.

The thing is, we need countless candidates like AOC at all levels, particularly local and state, where real political change needs to begin. Her positions are sound, and plenty of potential candidates can be persuaded to adopt them. But her charisma is unusual – this is what makes her an “outlier,” frankly, not her positions. It will be a challenge to run literally thousands of candidates across 50 states, election after election, until they cease to be a minority everywhere. But one cannot, must not, lose hope.

One of my least-favorite DNCC tactics is support of “pre-approved” candidates in targeted districts, non-support of “risky” candidates (AOC), and total abandonment of “safe red” districts. You can’t give up: somebody has to run, and run, again and again, until the tide turns — if you don’t even put up a good fight, the tide will never turn.

Finally, ph@122
“Support for charter schools is high among African-American young adults.”
You don’t cite your source, but the NAACP would beg to differ. See, for example:
http://educationpost.org/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-naacps-stance-on-charter-schools/

134

Layman 07.07.18 at 7:48 pm

politicalfootball: “People need to use the restrooms and locker rooms that they are comfortable using.”

Amen to that. I can tell you that, whenever I find myself in the situation of having to use a public restroom, of all the things I worry about, the gender of the last person who used it doesn’t register.

135

Mario 07.07.18 at 8:29 pm

J-D @127,

Are you sure? All I hear is trans rights, gay rights, more trans rights, then maybe women in S&P boards or at tech startups, lots of rape-related hysteria, and heaps and heaps of open borders advocacy. And stuff like that. Almost never anything about working class folks.

And even if, it’s clear from the PR that those nice things you mention (or faustusnotes above) can only be had after the left has got its open borders, put trans rights before anything else, etc. And, perhaps, caused damage to the hetero family, cherished home for so many people, because patriarchy. You might eventually get UHK, but the price is a program mix of odd things and misanthropy. As expected, that’s not terribly compelling and the results are well known.

Layman @128,

it was Communism, of course. It was a project to be improved, but it was a whole project for a new society, complete with logistics and law and, crucially, it had something for mommies and daddies with kiddies, at least on paper. That it was crap is another story, and that communism failed is what happened, of course. But they had a coherent plan that was enough to run states for a few decades. And that plan helped to get things done everywhere.

The modern right, I’m afraid, has a lot more to offer in terms of practically oriented thought than the left, and keeps sounding pragmatic when the left doesn’t. Except for a boutique set of subjects. For example, while it is mostly an illusion, the right offers jobs, and they don’t seem to plan to micromanage your private life.

Mind, btw, that I’m talking politics and the prospect of getting stuff done in a democracy. The left is loosing when it should be winning. I’m talking about why that is happening.

136

Suzanne 07.07.18 at 11:40 pm

“In the wake of the primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, there’s been a dramatic shift in mainstream liberal opinion—in the media, on social media, among politicians, activists, and citizens—toward Sanders-style positions.”

I’m not seeing this myself, but perhaps I’m looking in the wrong places. What I have seen is that Sanders-endorsed or -inspired candidates overall haven’t been doing that well, despite the occasional upset win like that of Kara Eastman of Nebraska. Sanders hasn’t done as much as he might to capitalize on the infrastructure he built in 2016. (If Ben Jealous wins the governorship of Maryland, however, that would be a really big win for Bernie.)

I’m delighted for Ocasio-Cortez, BTW. Good for her.

137

Collin Street 07.07.18 at 11:41 pm

Gender is performative: the problems with patriarchy rest in who gets to pick the script.

138

engels 07.08.18 at 12:54 am

I don’t think any of those forms of words (which I’m trying just to quote from you) are the clearest way of expressing the way I perceive the issue

No doubt. Feel free to use your own. I still think there’s a clear and fundamental difference between discovering a fact and making a decision and I can’t see that you’ve provided any argument to the contrary.

139

ph 07.08.18 at 1:22 am

Hi Corey, @133 supports my general point – namely that the blinders that keep tribal groups from understanding the world we share are still very much in place. So, here are the key words: “african-American millienals charter schools” which produced these results:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/09/11/survey-millennials-hold-complex-views-education/655696001/

http://thehill.com/opinion/education/353633-millennials-especially-of-color-are-disrupting-charter-school-debate

To repeat: the much more troubling problem is that at an academic blog like CT so few seem generally interested in hearing dissent to conventional wisdom. I have great difficulty believing that dbk, for example, is unable to conduct such a simple search.

Choosing to keep the blinders on seems a very odd way to proceed given the results to date. See Iraq, Libya, red-lines, Trump can’t win, Wisconsin never votes Republican etc.

And that really is my whole thing in a nutshell. Hope this passes muster.

140

Layman 07.08.18 at 2:20 am

Mario: “it was Communism, of course.”

So your critique of the left is that it’s no longer trying to sell its good program, communism, and therefore has nothing good left to sell? You should be sure to add to that “…and I am absolutely not a crank.”

141

mclaren 07.08.18 at 2:23 am

Does Corey Robin admit how colossally and stupendously wrong he got the entire 2016 zeitgeist?

http://crookedtimber.org/2016/03/22/historically-liberals-and-the-left-have-underestimated-the-right-today-they-overestimate-it/

No? Well, then maybe we shouldn’t listen to anything Corey Robin says.

One aspect of his argument that’s completely unfair and unrealistic is that people have to decide on whether to elect a politician or enact a social policy or an economic scheme before they have any real experience-based empirical information of what the consequences will be.

Consider: neoliberal globalization was proposed and debated on the basis of books like the Toffler’s Future Shock which got the future entirely wrong. The theory behind these kind of futurist predictions sounded plausible. Ever-increasing rates of technological change will result in people constantly moving around the country to new jobs, work will shift from manufacturing to knowledge work, industries will die off and constantly be replaced by new ones, the U.S. will offload its manufacturing to 3rd world countries and move to high-profit knowledge work that will vastly increase the income of the average U.S. worker, and so on. All completely wrong.

Mobility of workers in the USA has dropped to record lows because the interior of the USA is now depopulating and mired in poverty and chronic drug addiction due to the destruction of the middle class by shipping all the high-paid blue collar jobs overseas. Meanwhile, the areas with high-paying jobs are on both coasts, where housing and everything else has become so expensive average people can’t afford to live there. But the high-paying coastal jobs are really only for people with artificial licensing barriers to entry that protect their professions, like doctors or lawyers or lobbyists or defense contractor liaisons who need special security clearance or financial traders who need to live within 10 blocks of the stock exchange because any farther away and their high-speed trading internet links will have too much latency to execute 50,000 trades per second. And so on.

Nobody foresaw that knowledge work would collapse because entire movies or ebooks or music CDs could be digitized and downloaded and sprayed all over the world with bittorrent. Nobody foresaw that textbooks and tutorial videos could be digitized and sent to third world countries where their population would whip our asses by producing centers of technological innovation like Shenzen or Guangdong or the whole island of Taiwan. No one foresaw that manufacturing processes prove essential to the very act of technological innovation, so that when America offshored its factories to Asia, we also lost our ability to innovative technologically, to the point where even if the USA wanted to bring back industries like iPad manufacturing to the continential U.S., we couldn’t do it because we don’t have the essential process technology engineering knowledge and skills.

So globalization sounded completely reasonable and sensible when it was proposed in the 1970s. Converting the USA to knowledge work seemed like a good economic model. Only in retrospect does it become clear what a gigantic trainwreck it turned out to be, and why.

Likewise, I supported Obama when he ran in 2008. Obama ran on a bunch of progressive policies. Single-payer healthcare. Shutting down the drug war. “Not doing stupid stuff.” Then Obama abandons single-payer for a disastrous mandate for-profit ACA system with zero cost controls guaranteed to raise health insurance premiums limitless forever, and he starts blowing up wedding parties with drones and prosecutes more whistleblowers than all other presidents put together. That’s not what I signed up for.

But how are voters supposed to know what a politician will really do until he’s in office? The people who voted for FDR voted for a moderate pol who ran on a policy of balancing the budget. They got a radical progressive who experimented with all sort of wild policies, including packing the Supreme Court, to find something that would work. That’s not what voters signed up for…but it happened to be very successful.

The people who voted for Herbert Hoover voted for a world-famous humanitarian who was renowned for his 1921 famine relief efforts. Anyone who studied Hoover’s life would predict that he would do a great job spearheading relief efforts for impoverished average workers thrown onto the street when the Great Depression hit. Instead, Hoover sat around and tried to rein in the tidal flow of red ink while the U.S. economy crashed and burned.

People change their minds because we live in a fog of uncertainty. No one has the slightest idea of what the actual results of social or economic policies will be. For example: crime has plummeted since 1990 in the U.S., but no one has the slightest idea why. Crime was a huge issue in the 1960s and 1970s and 1980s, and now it’s turned out to be a problem that mysteriously disappeared on its own. No experts predicted this, no experts have been able to explain it. An awful lot of American history seems to work like this. People convulse in frenzies of worry over some huge problem that then just…disappears. (Cue the deadly threat of the USSR…or Erlich’s “population bomb” of the 1960s…or Thomas Malthus’ dire predictions…or the myth of “future shock”…or the worries of eugenics prophets of the 1920s…or the “yellow peril” predictions of late 19th century colonialis…or our allegedly inevitable rush toward thermonuclear armageddon because of the arms race of the 1950s/60s…etc.)

Highly-educated experts with PhDs have demonstrated zero ability to predict the actual real-world results of current trends or technology or socioeconomic policies. We live in a world dominated by the Cobra Effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobra_effect

Efforts to pass this off on the high-school-educated population of the USA as some kind of irrationality (“How eerie and unsettling it can seem when people change their minds”) seem infantile and jejune. How about: “How eerie and unsettling it can seem when highly educated Ivy League PhDs’ predictions and policies turn out to be gigantic trainwrecks that produce the exact opposite of what was claimed and what was calculated in highly sophisticated mathematical models”?

Larry Summers, anyone? The man responsible both for the rise of Putin (Summers and his Harvard team blew up & wrecked the Russian economy in an epic debacle from 19911-1998) _and_ Trump (Summers infamously urged Bill Clinton to deregulate the financial system and ram through bad “free trade” agreements like NAFTA that turbocharged globalization and destroyed the U.S. middle class, leading to a 1930s-style financial crash and mass impoverishment of Americans…exactly the kind of circumstances which, in the 1930s, led to the rise of fascism. Which of course is what’s happening today.

Yet our leaders still listen to ignorant incompetent clowns like Larry Summers with the utmost respect and reverence. Maybe that’s what really “eerie,” not people changing their minds when they discover that the results of the policies proposed by our elites turn out to be the kind of destructive idiocy at which even a brain-damaged three-year-old would rebel.

142

Donald 07.08.18 at 2:44 am

“It would have been nice to have lived in a world where the last clause of your sentence actually happened. Instead the cranky old guy did, indeed, point out her weaknesses (some real, some not) on a variety of OTHER issues, but on foreign policy was mostly silent, and when he did speak offered some vague critiques but mostly supported the liberal interventionist consensus.”

Sanders voted against the Iraq War when Clinton voted for it. This teensy little difference should mean something all by itself. After some pushing from the left during the Gaza War in 2014, and yes, I saw a video of him yelling at pro Palestinian demonstrators, he started criticizing Israel.

I know his weaknesses— I have read the criticisms of people to his left, but the difference between Sanders and Clinton is that he shifted to the anti interventionist side a lot more easily than she ever would. Clinton is by reflex an interventionist— for far too long Sanders was one out of inertia, but again, he changed. I remember him criticizing ( and overstating the death toll by confusing it with casualties) Israel’s war in Gaza during the New York primary. There was a clear difference between Sanders and Clinton. He even made the point that she was friends with Kissinger, and yes, that friendship does tell you something about Clinton.

We Sanders voters are sometimes accused of purism and not being able to see very real differences between candidates because we want perfection. This is only true of a minority. However, you are arguing in exactly that way.

143

J-D 07.08.18 at 2:48 am

Mario

Are you sure?

Yes, I am. Are you sure I’m wrong?

All I hear is …

What you hear depends on what you’re listening to. What are you listening to?

And even if, it’s clear from the PR …

No, it isn’t. Again, what PR are you attending to (and why)?

144

Donald 07.08.18 at 2:53 am

“even when the (now shown to be erroneous) claims of half a million ddead children were being broadcast. ”

This is a side note. I have seen the claim that the half million figure is discredited and tentatively accept it. At the same time, I find it impossible to believe that we could have bombed water treatment facilities and imposed draconian sanctions on a country without causing a rise in mortality rates. I suspect tens of thousands of dead wouldn’t show up in the various surveys conducted a decade later.

As for Sanders, his record is far from perfect as I just wrote in a different reply. But you don’t need to be anywhere close to perfect to be significantly better than Clinton. I obviously am not a Clinton fan, but it wasn’t hard to see her as better than Trump.

145

J-D 07.08.18 at 3:28 am

engels

Choices can be made within constraints; in such cases, the outcomes are the products of both choices and constraints, and it can be reasonable, depending on context, both to refer to the outcomes as the products of choices and to refer to them as the products of constraints.

Gender categories are socially constructed. The raw material from which they are constructed includes important biological facts, but the social categories are not direct translations of biological fact. The terms ‘female’ and ‘male’ have important uses in biology to say things like ‘pistils are female’, but those biological uses don’t map directly and without qualification to the social categories. Different human societies/cultures have constructed different systems of gender categories. The prevalence of the gender categories ‘female’ and ‘male’ and the way that other categories are defined in relation to them reflect, again, biological facts; but it’s also a biological fact that not all human beings can be unambiguously assigned without qualification to biological categories of ‘female’ and ‘male’, and the existence of exceptions and the way that society handles them is part of the evidence that the gender categories of ‘female’ and ‘male’ are socially constructed.

In societies with gender categories (which means all of them as far as I know, although I can conceive hypothetically of societies without gender categories), individuals identify as members of those categories. These identifications can be strongly felt, and there’s no justification for considering that the opinions of other should be treated as overriding the personal sense of self-identity.

Now, taking myself as an example, I have a definite and unambigous sense of my own gender identity. I don’t recall a past occasion on which I chose this gender identity; it feels like part of who I am and not a choice. On the other hand, I acknowledge the possibility that my gender identity is partly, to an extent which can’t be determined, the product of choices I made during my early development which I can’t now recall. This is a possibility; it is a certainty that my gender identity is at least partly the product of social influences on me, since the development of my identity took place in the context of a society with gender categories, which were socially constructed. It seems to me to be probable that biological factors would also have been an influence on the development of my gender identity; I understand this is an active area of research, but I don’t know how well-established any conclusions are.

I acknowledge the possibility that individual choice plays no part whatever in the development of gender identity; I’m not saying it is so, but I admit it may be so. However, whether individual identification as a member of a gender category is partly chosen or entirely unchosen, it is still the case that it’s only possible to identify as a member of a category where that category exists, and gender categories exist only where they’re socially constructed.

So, to me there’s no contradiction between saying that the gender category which is part of your own personal identity is a social construct and saying that your membership of that category is something to which you have privileged epistemic access; also, there’s no contradiction between saying that your membership of that category is, or may be, partly the product of your own choices and saying that you have privileged epistemic access to it (what’s surprising about saying that people have privileged epistemic access to their own choices?). Further, there’s no contradiction between saying that your membership of a gender category has been partly determined by biological facts and saying that another person’s assessment of it based purely on biological considerations can’t automatically override your self-report of it; and no contradiction between saying that your identity may be partly the product of choices you made during your development and saying that you don’t have unlimited freedom to choose to change it now.

146

ph 07.08.18 at 4:11 am

Thanks, Corey! And as the perfect-on-topic parting gift –

Hillary will be the Democratic nominee in 2020, only this time ‘fair and square.’

So, you all can have a do-over and relive that happy time once more. Is she done? Her majesty make that decision for you all.

I see her beating Trump in 2020. For real.

https://nypost.com/2018/07/07/is-hillary-clinton-secretly-planning-to-run-in-2020/

Call it a welcome return to normality.

Donate now!

147

Murali 07.08.18 at 7:31 am

mclaren@141

Globalisation is not just a thing that America unilaterally did. It is a thing that was happening anyway and which America had to join in order not to lose out. That’s not to mention the stagflation crisis of the 70s. That’s also not to mention the massive reduction in extreme poverty at the global level.

https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty

There were also non-economic reasons for engaging in free trade. The US wanted to maintain its global influence. Trade agreements are an important part of international diplomacy. Having peaceful and mutually beneficial relations with another country is an incentive for that country to not attack you.

148

nastywoman 07.08.18 at 7:33 am

– and the following might be really worth repeating:

”Ever-increasing rates of technological change will result in people constantly moving around the country to new jobs, work will shift from manufacturing to knowledge work, industries will die off and constantly be replaced by new ones, the U.S. will offload its manufacturing to 3rd world countries and move to high-profit knowledge work that will vastly increase the income of the average U.S. worker, and so on. All completely wrong”.

Mobility of workers in the USA has dropped to record lows because the interior of the USA is now depopulating and mired in poverty and chronic drug addiction due to the destruction of the middle class by shipping all the high-paid blue collar jobs overseas. Meanwhile, the areas with high-paying jobs are on both coasts, where housing and everything else has become so expensive average people can’t afford to live there”.

Yes?

”Converting the USA to knowledge work seemed like a good economic model”.

Not – for anybody who know how few jobs ”knowledge work” creates.

”So ‘globalization sounded completely reasonable and sensible when it was proposed in the 1970s”.

It’s still ”completely reasonable” for any ”Producing Country” – where well paying manufacturing jobs were kept.

”Only in retrospect does it become clear what a gigantic trainwreck it turned out to be, and why”.

Only in ”Consuming Countries” -(like the US) – where the inequality of high paying ”knowledge work” and ”Finance” and poor paying ”service jobs” let to the trainwreck and the funny idea that it is the fault of ”trade” – while trade created million an million of better and better paying jobs in ”Producing Countries” – which could lead us to Mario and @135

”For example, while it is mostly an illusion, the right offers jobs”

Yes –
it’s mostly a illusion – as only ”Producing Countries” offer jobs – while ”Consuming Countries” -(with their right wing idiots) – don’t – or better said they NEVER-EVER will offer enough ”good” jobs to make our workers happy -(again)- and that’s why we need politicians like AOC!

And that IS – because we actually DON’T live in a fog of uncertainty??!
-(saying: Nearly everybody on CT knows how well ”Social-Democratic Producing Countries” work)

149

nastywoman 07.08.18 at 8:50 am

@146
”Having peaceful and mutually beneficial relations with another country is an incentive for that country to not attack you”.

AND the most important point for ”peaceful trade” –
AND the existence of the EU –
AND the existence of a common currency like the Euro -(or the Dollar)
As I can think of a few ”Red States” who probably already would have attacked California if it wouldn’t be for the ”common currency”! -(just joking!) BUT seriously no Von Clownstick is really interested in such non-fighting words and the real tragedy has been – that Americans completely misunderstand the word -(or idea) of ”trade”.

It isn’t ”trade” -(or trades fault) – if greedy US Companies outsource -(or terminate) the best paying manufacturing jobs – BE-cause they think they can’t make enough dough anymore with producing stuff.
AND the even more tragic tragedy has been – that ”our” (progressive) economists also thought ”Converting the USA to knowledge work is a good economic model”.
And WE were soooo surprised that it led to an economical structure – with far too many low paying service jobs and all these depressed workers who voted for a Moron like FF von Clownstick –
BE-cause the real tragedy seems to be – that WE always find the worst possible solution to any problem lately… and did I mention – that’s why WE need a President like AOC?

150

nastywoman 07.08.18 at 9:12 am

– and furthermore – and as Paul Krugman’s name was mentioned a few times – let’s wonder if he in the meantime changed his mind since he wrote in 1999:

Well, here’s my theory: The real divide between currently successful economies, like the U.S., and currently troubled ones, like X , is not political but philosophical; it’s not Karl Marx vs. Adam Smith, it’s Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative vs. William James’ pragmatism. What X really want is a clear set of principles: rules that specify the nature of truth, the basis of morality…. Americans, by contrast, are philosophically and personally sloppy: They go with whatever seems more or less to work….

Now, the American way doesn’t always work better. Even today, Detroit can’t or won’t make luxury cars to X standards; Amtrak can’t or won’t provide the precision scheduling that X take for granted. America remains remarkably bad at exporting; the sheer quality of some X products, the virtuosity of X engineering, have allowed X to remain a powerful exporter despite having the world’s highest labor costs.

But the world has changed in a way that seems to favor flexibility over discipline. With technology and markets in flux, not everything worth doing is worth doing well”.

-”not everything worth doing is worth doing well”????!
-(he as a so called ”economist” really wrote that!)

AND in order NOT to distract I took the freedom to use X for the name of ”a” Producing Country – any ”Producing” Country –
and did I mention – that’s why WE should support AOC?
-(without ever having to change our minds)

151

engels 07.08.18 at 10:36 am

I acknowledge the possibility that my gender identity is partly, to an extent which can’t be determined, the product of choices I made during my early development which I can’t now recall… no contradiction between saying that your identity may be partly the product of choices you made during your development and saying that you don’t have unlimited freedom to choose to change it now.

‘Gender id = knowledge of a forgotten choice’ might be a way of getting around the contradiction but ime it isn’t a common theory and doesn’t seem likely to be appealing to most people who are currently experiencing tension between their ‘true’ gender and their socially recognised one (why allow your life to be shaped by choices you made before you were a reflective adult or even child?)

152

Faustusnotes 07.08.18 at 11:03 am

Gender is not a performance. Many people perform the gender they have but the gender itself is not a performance. This idea of gender vs sex, gender as script – it’s a deeply misogynist and backwards idea. There is a bees dick of difference between the PUA douchebag who says all women wear makeup to trap men and can’t be trusted, and the radfem who says all women are performing feminity to confirm to a patriarchal standard. It’s based in evil Christian ideas about women as the cause of the fall. Expunge these ideas, you don’t believe them because they have compelling evidence in their support, but because your Christian heritage is polluting your view of sex.

Mario says communism had an appeal to workers because it had a program. To paraphrase Stalin, how many electoral districts does he have? Communism’s popularity was never tested at the ballot box, it was enacted by a vanguard. Decent political programs don’t have that luxury. So the comparison is dumb. As for the idea that workers won’t get what they want under left wing policies until trans rights are complete – why don’t you ask Obama’s NLRB picks whether they’re waiting for the trans utopia before they protect workers.

Still noone has identified anyone who confirms to Corey’s model. Anybody? Anybody?…. Bueller?

153

engels 07.08.18 at 11:04 am

(Sorry I appreciate that’s simplifying your points massively but I don’t have time to respond to them all properly now I’m afraid)

154

roger gathmann 07.08.18 at 11:28 am

I love the reference to Thomas Mann, particularly as the German government has bought Mann’s house in Pacific Palisades and is turning it into an institute. Cause, uh, the German government actually spends money on culture.
So I like that.
Myself, I think a better comparison on changing minds is that between Thomas and his brother, Heinrich. In the Observations of a Non-Political Man, Thomas was after his brother – his brother, who during the war, provocatively published a book on Emile Zola. To my mind, at least, changing one’s mind has to take into account Thomas Mann’s irony – that was at the center of his politics as well as his art. It was an irony that Mann took from a liberal tradition that he was attacking in the Non-Political Man book – a tradition which bets a lot on the idea of unexpected consequences, which can be traced back a long way to, say, the Greeks, but for the moderns goes back, I think, to the philosophes. In the note he devoted to the Regency in his Precis of the Reign of Louis XV, Voltaire marveled at the consequences of the rise and fall of John Law’s system in France: “Finally, that famous system of Law or Lass, which seemed it must ruin the regency and the state, in fact sustained one and the other by some consequences that nobody could have foreseen.”.

For Mann in 1919, nobody could have foreseen that Germany would lose – nobody, that is, except all the people who were right all along, like his brother, Heinrich. I think that is a lesson that he tried to apply with more success in art than in his political positioning. Heinrich, of course, went from being the successful Mann to brother of Thomas, but he still maintained his faith in the Zola kind of intellectual. Which is why the East Germans brought his body back from its place in a cemetery in Santa Monica to Berlin, I believe.
The lesson is that there is a lotta traps out there, I guess.

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engels 07.08.18 at 12:33 pm

Gender is not a performance.

In your opinion, what is it?

156

nastywoman 07.08.18 at 12:53 pm

”The lesson is that there is a lotta traps out there, I guess”

Like getting into a typical American gender-discussion? – as didn’t I tell’ya that AOC is a ”Bro” too -(besides NOT having what a lot of you guys might have between y’alls legs)

-(and I hope this comment get’s censored)

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yan 07.08.18 at 1:48 pm

@152 faustusnotes: “ Still noone has identified anyone who confirms to Corey’s model. Anybody? Anybody?…. Bueller?”

This is obviously not intended for him and his game of no true Scotsman, but for anyone else who is interested in good faith in the question.

Exhibit C: Joy Ried
https://mobile.twitter.com/Jamie_Maz/status/1015700116848734210

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hix 07.08.18 at 3:51 pm

That should have been rise of facism not communism at the end of my last post.

159

Patrick 07.08.18 at 3:54 pm

And that’s what I referenced earlier. If gender is a performance based on historically contingent social norms that could easily be otherwise, then it is not an intrinsic part of oneself, and neither is gender identity. If gender identity is an intrinsic part of ones self then “gender” must refer to something to something sufficiently non-contingent that one can intrinsically identify with it, which suggests that gender performance is built on a foundation that includes at least some non contingent material.

For what it’s worth I have no idea. I think testosterone has to have some effect because everyone who takes it says it does. I think commonly shared body shapes and shared social contexts created hybthings like being stronger than most people not of your gender has to have an effect on the development of shared cultural values, and I think history evidenced that happening. But beyond that I’ve got nothing.

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Chris (merian) W. 07.08.18 at 5:02 pm

Quite a generous and thoughtful take on Thomas Mann. I couldn’t have mustered the mental energy because I never could stand Thomas. The Manns are of course part of my cultural heritage (and school learning). I wanted to write that Golo (son of Thomas) was still alive when I was little, but it’s probably because he died when I was a teenager and would absorb the TV tributes that I know more about him. *He* *nearly* ended up a German Social-Democrat and supported the student movement of 68, which would have been antithetical to his father; but then, he reverted to form in his old age.

But I always liked Heinrich, this so-called less talented brother. Der Untertan — why is this title, this very common German word which would be useful in the current US situation, so hard to translate? it’s not “The Non-Political Man”; one translation, available as a PDF online, uses “The Patrioteer”, which makes me smile but is not, to my knowledge, a very convincing English word; “The Loyal Subject” is clunky, but at least gets the idea roughly right… — was always one of those books we were made to read in school and it was a good thing. It stabs right at the heart of something important, painfully so. I very much recommend the book.

Thomas, in contrast, for all that he was making the right choice at some critical junctures that some of his peers missed, never doubted in his own importance: it was the choices of people like him, educated men from affluent Christian German families, that mattered. His books are full of descriptions of the, how do I say this in English (Befindlichkeiten? états d’âme?), affective state and sensitivities of people of his class. And characters mourning and fighting progress to stem its decline.

As for who exactly you (Corey) allude to as having changed their mind, it’s a little hazy so forgive me everything I undoubtedly will get wrong. But it seems to me a very natural development to go from supporting Clinton to supporting/rejoicing about Ocasio-Cortez now. There’s a difference between what the pundits say and how people (I want to say citizens, but I’m not one and am part of this nonetheless) think about their political preferences. And in the case of “progressive Bernie-bros vs. neoliberal Hillary-bots” (<– pundit version) it became and still is an abyss. Among the people I know who're outside the media complex (ie, don't write for national papers or have a political podcast), only very few fall into these patterns. Sure, some are middle-of-the-road centrists and will always be middle-of-the-road centrists, they get head shy if you mention anything more radical than means-tested benefits, and by-and-large they supported Clinton. (Where they'll fall under more intense fascistic pressures, which it looks like the are developing, is anyone's guess and vary from person to person. I note that those among them who are non-white and female are by now ready to staff the barricades… speak about changing one's mind!) But as for the much larger number of Clinton supporters I know, some had Clinton as their senator and respect her for how she went about that office; some are moved by the personal story and resilience that was needed to withstand the shit that came her way including caused many times by her own husband; some started out supporting Sanders but became disenchanted, were happy about how Clinton's position had moved somewhat to the left and accepted that the time to reorient the disastrous foreign policies had apparently not yet come. For all of these, supporting candidates like Ocasio-Cortez now is a very natural step, no break whatsoever. (The two have something rather central in common, too, after all.)

When you talk about people changing their mind, I think it's a good idea to check if you were wrong, at least partially, in the first place.

(J-D: Great comment re: choice. Very succinctly put. My fellow LGB friends came to similar conclusions when talking about choice in sexual orientation.)

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Yan 07.08.18 at 5:45 pm

Patrick @159: “If gender is a performance based on historically contingent social norms that could easily be otherwise, then it is not an intrinsic part of oneself, and neither is gender identity. If gender identity is an intrinsic part of ones self then “gender” must refer to something to something sufficiently non-contingent that one can intrinsically identify with it, which suggests that gender performance is built on a foundation that includes at least some non contingent material.”

I think some version of anti-essentialism is most plausible, but I have little admiration for Butler’s work and don’t think her metaphor of performance should be treated as the definitive version of this view.

Foucault is perhaps the best paradigm (though he gets it from Sartre and Nietzsche, and Wittgenstein might, in the end, be the best version), and on his version there is no contradiction between ant-essentialism and “a foundation that includes at least some non contingent material.”

To say gender is socially constructed is not to say it is voluntary, a product of choice, or arbitrary or could easily be otherwise. On the contrary, it is constructed *out of* reality, out of basic biological facts.

To take some simplistic examples. Imagine it were a biological fact that people with male reproductive systems are on average more aggressive. Social construction is the way we organize those facts into conceptual categories, so it’s variable but not arbitrary. If I choose to conceive of masculinity on a dichotomy of violent/nurturing, it will be easy, thanks to this hypothetical fact of biology, to make that division work in practice. If, on the other hand that is *not* a biological fact, then that concept of masculinity is much harder to impose on individuals and give them a stable sense of identity in practice.

Social construction isn’t a denial of the real facts that ground identities. It only says that the way we carve out conceptual types from the real is not fixed or necessary.

Another classic Foucauldian example concerns sexuality. Of course some people only sexually desire the same sex or the opposite sex. That’s a real biological fact. What’s construction is our decision to make this fact a foundation of an identity concept. We might have, as one philosopher suggested, instead organized sexualities by hair color. You might be blondisexual or brunettosexual, since some people really do, in fact, desire according to hair color. And of course we’re now seeing a real variation of this: we’re recognizing the biological reality of heterosexual and homosexual desires doesn’t entail that sexualities primarily come in three kinds: same, other or both.

That’s not because the biological foundation of these categories doesn’t exist, as a crass constructionism would suggest, but because those biological facts only limit the many various ways in which we can categorize people, they don’t necessitate particular categories. Reality gives us countless properties that are shared or diverge among groups. We pick which ones to consider important, which ones to ignore, when defining types.

All of this is a round about way to say that anti-essentialism isn’t in principle incompatible with an involuntary, fixed sense of identity. One might be biologically better suited to one social category than another, and because of that one passively–not by choice–has integrated that role so deeply into one’s worldview and sense of self that it is a fixed part of who they are, not a matter of choice. Just as some actors are biologically better suited to some performative roles than others.

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engels 07.08.18 at 5:50 pm

J-D: Great comment re: choice. Very succinctly put. My fellow LGB friends came to similar conclusions when talking about choice in sexual orientation.

A rather unfortunate choice of acronym in context (my understanding is this issue is mostly specific to trans people).

163

engels 07.08.18 at 5:56 pm

Having peaceful and mutually beneficial relations with another country is an incentive for that country to not attack you.

As any Iraqi can tell you.

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nastywoman 07.08.18 at 7:57 pm

@
”As any Iraqi can tell you”.

You meant as any Trump can tell you?

Or – wait? –

Nothing else loves Von Clownstick more – than attacking countries -(and their representatives) the US has peaceful and mutually beneficial relations with?

165

Murali 07.08.18 at 8:13 pm

engels@163

As any Iraqi can tell you.

More true than you think. You think the US would have invaded Iraq if half a dozen MNCs had set up some factories/sweatshops there?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctions_against_Iraq

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Murali 07.08.18 at 8:17 pm

engels@163

Or for that matter would the US and UK have invaded if Iraq was a market for American goods, or Iraqi companies were a part of some MNC’s supply chain?

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SusanC 07.08.18 at 8:20 pm

Looking over this thread, it strikes me how often trans issues are used to create a distraction by the right.

It was Sebastian H who brought it up in the first place; if he hadn’t, it probably wouldn’t have occurred to the rest of us to mention it. Notably, it wasn’t a trans person who brought it up. Indeed, we see Ghost Bird — who is the most likely to know something about the topic at hand — deciding, quite possibly correctly, that the whole discussion is likely to be a waste of time, and wandering off.

I would like to draw attention to the hypocrisy of the right in this. They often accuse the Democrats of caring about trans issues more than the economy, but it is the right (notably, not trans people) who keep bringing up trans issues and making the discussion be about them.

[At a slight risk of this being an instance of Godwin’s law: I found it quite insightful in some previous thread when Rich Puchalsky drew a political parallel between being Jewish and being a trans person. I think I can see a similarity in rhetorical strategy between (a) deflecting attention from the economic issues on to trans people; and (b) deflecting attention from the economic issues on to Jews]

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SusanC 07.08.18 at 8:30 pm

P.S. I’m not actually objecting to what the contributors apart from Sebastian H actually said it this thread, just noting that we let ourselves fall for the diversion .. and I think this kind of diversion in the wider political context could be really dangerous.

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engels 07.08.18 at 10:18 pm

More true than you think

Sorry I wasn’t really disagreeing, except maybe with ‘mutually beneficial’. The US wouldn’t have gone to the trouble of attacking Iraq if its capitalist class could loot its resources and exploit its people without a military confrontation, no.

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engels 07.08.18 at 10:30 pm

It was Sebastian H who brought it up in the first place; if he hadn’t, it probably wouldn’t have occurred to the rest of us to mention it. Notably, it wasn’t a trans person who brought it up. Indeed, we see Ghost Bird — who is the most likely to know something about the topic at hand — deciding, quite possibly correctly, that the whole discussion is likely to be a waste of time, and wandering off.

In fairness it must also be noted that Sebastian H has wandered off.

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Faustusnotes 07.08.18 at 11:13 pm

Yan my twitter skills aren’t so good but joy Reid is the woman who in 2010 described Sanders as the Clarion conscience of the Dems and predicted he would be ignored like Dean? Apt perhaps that she is the example someone finally found given she is obviously homophobic. Are you sure given her history that her position wasn’t just tactical? A brief review suggest she said some nasty things about Sanders but her main complaint seems to be that he’s not a democrat…. Which is true.

Engels since you ask, gender is a fundamental part of our biology. It’s not a performance. It’s really that simple. It doesn’t mean parts of our gender aren’t socially constructed. But it remains a fundamental part of us regardless of the social influences on how we feel it, how we show it, and how we are treated because of it.

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Omega Centauri 07.09.18 at 12:03 am

Is O-C such a change? [Nice choice of initials, if I say so myself]
She said she is trying to represent the views of her community, which is unusual, working class, urban, and immigrant. It should be expected to be an outlier.

Now for some of the other issues:
J-D thinks the left spends way too much time/energy on trans issues, and not much on actual working class issues. Certainly regarding perceptions, that is the case. It may be in the White Working Class’s economic interest to vote D, but they don’t actually know it.

McLaren @141.
I never read Future Shock, but those predictions seem pretty descriptive of much of the current situation. There in fact are enough good information jobs, to create good opportunities for maybe ten percent of the population. What wasn’t predicted, is how much these opportunities would cluster into a handfull of places, and that many of these jobs would be filled by legal immigrants, whose appetite for education seems to exceed our own.

About crime: I happen to think the lead hypothesis has a lot of explanatory power.

That brings up another area where the right is able to manipulate perception. Most of the things
that they get traction of portraying as being dangerously out-of-control, are in fact in substantial
statistical decline: Illegal immigration, is now roughly a quarter of what it was less than two decades ago. Similarly for abortion. Crime is down by about half. But the widespread perception is that these are all exploding. And fear of such drives the voting public ever more to the right.

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Faustusnotes 07.09.18 at 12:22 am

Also Yan I don’t know if you realise but the second tweet by joy Reid in that ablosh_ice tweet you linked to is a direct quote of ocasio Cortez from Reid’s MSNBC show. It’s not joy Reid’s opinion. I’m not sure you can take it as endorsement – she would do the same thing with a Trump quote. So you aren’t presenting evidence that Reid has changed her mind, or that what she posted in the second tweet is a repudiation of what she said in her first tweet. Did you know it was simply a tweet quoting ocasio Cortez ? Did abolish_ice? I checked and it’s a direct quote from the interview. It’s disingenuous to suggest that a tv host tweeting a direct quote from their guest is endorsing her views.

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Sebastian H 07.09.18 at 2:00 am

I also directly called out Republicans shifting on Russia, but it seems as if we see the distractions we want to see.

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engels 07.09.18 at 2:11 am

One might be biologically better suited to one social category than another, and because of that one passively–not by choice–has integrated that role so deeply into one’s worldview and sense of self that it is a fixed part of who they are, not a matter of choice. Just as some actors are biologically better suited to some performative roles than others.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have used the word ‘choice’ but to be clear I was referring to the experience of a trans person. To use the acting analogy, take someone who has always played action heroes. As per J-D’s considerations, that might never have been a conscious choice and there might have been lots of factors that propelled her in that direction: some have to do with her physique, maybe she was encouraged by parents or an agent, perhaps some it was sheer contingency in the early stages of her career. At a certain point she might not really know how she got type-cast as an action hero but that’s what she is and she can’t really imagine being anything else… until one day she decides to go for a part as a Shakespearean villain.

Now I can see that described loosely as ‘discovering what she really was’ but literally I think it has to be seen as voluntary change of behaviour—she was doing something (performing in action movies) and then she decided to do something else (perform in Richard III), even if that decision might have been informed by a new awareness of truths about herself (‘I can really carry off blank verse on stage!’). As I understand this isn’t how most trans people describe their experiences (although I could be wrong), they don’t see it as a choice or a decision at all, but a realisation of a fact about themselves over which they have no control, perhaps one which is indeed simply biological, like learning long after you’ve been taught to write with your right-hand that you’re really left-handed.

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J-D 07.09.18 at 2:39 am

Omega Centauri

J-D thinks the left spends way too much time/energy on trans issues, and not much on actual working class issues.

No! Have you perhaps confused me with Mario? (Would that be unflattering to both of us?)

Mario thinks that the left is too concerned with trans issues, and not enough concerned with the problems of the working class; I think that Mario is dead wrong about this.

Certainly regarding perceptions, that is the case.

It is obviously the perception of some people, or at least of Mario if of nobody else; but I don’t know of any evidence to support a conclusion about how widely the perception is shared.

SusanC makes a good point, and the falsehood Mario is repeating illustrates it.

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floopmeister 07.09.18 at 4:09 am

Still noone has identified anyone who confirms to Corey’s model. Anybody? Anybody?…. Bueller?

Here’s a wonderful Australian example of someone who has shifted from Left to Right and then back to Left again – all the while writing about both his changing positions and the reasons/justifications/personal circumstances behind them all:

https://www.blackincbooks.com.au/books/left-right-left

Bonus point: he is also called ‘Manne’ – is there a nominative determinism at work here? :)

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nastywoman 07.09.18 at 5:21 am

@172
”What wasn’t predicted, is how much these opportunities would cluster into a handfull of places”

AND what wasn’t predicted, is how much these opportunities would lead to –
US workers ”mired in poverty and chronic drug addiction due to the destruction of the middle class by shipping all the high-paid blue collar jobs overseas” – and these workers election of a a German Baron von Clownstick as President.

179

Ray Vinmad 07.09.18 at 6:23 am

@6 “They may be just as competent at evaluating evidence as you, have the same evidence as you, or maybe have as good evidence as you do or just generally be antecedently as likely as you to get it right for some reason or another.”

This is a helpful comment. What you state above is sometimes the case when you shift opinions. But it’s pretty rare.

There’s a reason people do so much politicking when collective agreement will benefit their position. If you can get a critical mass, many people fall in line for fear of being an outlier.

And sometimes what people want is power, not agreement on matters of principle.

There are many other explanations of this type–but whatever the best explanation, people will tell themselves their shift was due to evidence. In these political case, evidence usually underdetermines the consensus that forms.

180

J-D 07.09.18 at 7:09 am

engels

As a result of your mentioning handedness, I looked up the Wikipedia page on the subject, and discovered two things; one is that there have been some studies which suggest the possibility of a correlation between handedness and gender identity (and also a correlation between handedness and sexual orientation); the other is that observations of infants show that the development of handedness is complex, suggesting (to me; this last part isn’t Wikipedia) the possibility that handedness is, or can be, partly the product of choices made in infancy. You can look up the Wikipedia page for yourself if you’re interested in more details.

To be clear, for what it’s worth, my guess is that gender identity is not the product of choice. But how much is it worth? I know it’s just a guess. How much do you remember about your life, and the choices you made, before you were four? before you were two? before you were twelve months old? before you were six months old? So how certainly can you report what you did or didn’t do, or choose, then? Obviously we have no direct-from-the-source information about choices as they are being made by pre-verbal children, but I don’t feel that’s enough to justify me in concluding that pre-verbal children don’t make choices. Maybe they don’t; but then again maybe they do; and if they do, maybe some of those choices have the capacity to affect gender identity as experienced and reported at a later stage. My guess is still that they don’t, but I would not be surprised to have that guess disproved.

The report experience of the overwhelming majority of people who are old enough to discuss the subject (and not just transgender people but also cisgender people) suggest very strongly that they experience gender identity as something fixed which can’t be altered by choice; but there’s not an automatic incompatibility between its being fixed from an early point in life (the position supported by the weight of the evidence) and its being possibly subject to some influence, at least in some cases, by choices made at a still earlier stage.

So my feeling about your earlier suggestions about some statements being necessarily incompatible with others is that the situation is more complex; and what you described as a shift from one position to another inconsistent with it seems to me more like the progressive development of a more nuanced view in which more complexities are articulated, qualifying earlier understandings but not necessarily flatly contradicting them.

Finally, what seems to me to be of much more practical importance is not whether there’s a conflict between the idea of gender identity being fixed from early in life and the idea of its being affected by choice, but whether there’s a conflict between the idea of individuals having a gender identity fixed from early in life, to which they have privileged epistemic access, and the idea of its being a social construct. There isn’t. Being a social construct doesn’t mean being a fiction or an illusion. Money, for example, is a social construct. Money functions, and plays a huge role in people’s lives, because people believe in it; but people do believe in it, and so it does function and play a huge role in people’s lives; and you can’t individually stop this from being true just by saying that you individually don’t believe in it any more.

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Patrick 07.09.18 at 8:01 am

SusanC- respectfully I think you’ve misunderstood the issue. It’s not about what it means to be trans. It’s about what it means to have a gender, a gender identity, or to engage in a gendered performance. Trans issues highlight an apparent contradiction in some people’s views (to wit, a strong belief that its immoral to attribute gendered outcomes to inherent gender proclivities on the grounds that these are sexist illusions coupled with a desire to affirm some sets of people’s claims about inherent gender proclivities). But most people view themselves as having a gender, and the claims being made touch on what that means. There’s no particular privileged viewpoint here for people who are trans, except that they can describe how they experience their sense of gender… which is something everyone else can do for themselves as well, for whatever that’s worth.

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engels 07.09.18 at 9:38 am

Here’s a wonderful Australian example of someone who has shifted from Left to Right and then back to Left again

That’s not Kate Manne’s Dad is it?

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engels 07.09.18 at 2:40 pm

You can look up the Wikipedia page for yourself if you’re interested in more details.

J-D, have you ever read anything anyone on this site has written and considered they might have a smidgeon of a point and you might have to re-think some of your own voluminous logic and wisdom?

184

bianca steele 07.09.18 at 2:44 pm

Having reread the thread, people might want to read the first paragraphs of this https://purplesagefem.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/what-it-means-to-be-woman-identified-or-male-identified/ which I suspect Sebastian had misunderstood.

The 90s version of “gender studies” which seemed to involve many gay men and male feminists seems to have vanished from public view, if it ever was in public view, as well.

Of course by then, being “woman identified” had come to mean learning from your mother more than your father or (presumably male-identified) teachers, hanging out in the single-sex women-only group at parties, and liking cooking more than science. Pretty radical and anti-capitalist!

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Ramshackle 07.09.18 at 4:37 pm

Faustusnotes has completely misunderstood the gender performativity analysis. It does not mean that feminine gender is a role that is consciously chosen to cope/conform with patriarchy. Similarly, “socially constructed” does not mean that it’s made out of whole cloth, and in fact I would say that ideology always requires that kernel of truth to root itself in the first place. It definitely does not say that your experience of your own gender, such as it is–a bundle of inclinations, behaviors, images and wants regarding one’s own body, etc.–is not your own.

Rather, it says that when one “does” gender, one is signalling, fulfilling, being evaluated against certain social roles; and that these social roles of gender come with expectations regarding things like how they are assigned and the acceptable range of expressed behaviors, say. You may or may not be totally down with the expectations placed upon you via your assigned gender, but that hardly changes what’s happening. And it does say that the way that you experience gender, cis or trans, is mediated by the social terms, the linguistics, the ideology around us–and how could it not be.

This is not in common with the TERF/radfem positions, nor is it some Christian cudgel used to bash the feminine. Liberal attempts like these to craft an orthodoxy around sex and gender risk throwing out the critical theory developed by feminism, these liberals lashing themselves to the gendered expectations and gender essentialism that are currently dominant, for minute and probably illusory gains in position (if there are any) in the culture wars.

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Trader Joe 07.09.18 at 6:35 pm

@180 J-D
I wasn’t going to say anything on this, but I like J-Ds comment @180 and it reminds me much of something a trans friend of mine said as she made her transition.

She used a growing a plant analogy and asserted that soil, sunlight and water are all necessary for a person to identify, accept and act upon being trans (she may have gotten this from somewhere else – I don’t know).

Soil she said is what’s in you. Its some disposition along a spectrum that causes dysphoria between your biological sex organs and how you perceive yourself. This may be there irrespective of whether the individual recognizes it or not or acts on it or not.

Sunshine is the environment in which the person operates. In oppressive, close minded home or society a person may feel trans but may also be made to feel unwilling or unable to act upon it. They may feel the risk is not worth what they see as the benefit. We read many stories like this of people felt ‘trapped’ in their gender role late into life and only when enough sunshine was about were they willing to let the idea grow.
The TV show Transparent is quite based on this premise to name a popular example. Society is far more open to trans now than it was 10, 20, 30 years ago and this ‘sunshine’ if you will even makes these kind of discussions possible.

Water she than said is the willingness to act. This is ultimately the sustaining force – ones willingness to make the change within themself, accept that the soil is there, allow the sunshine to warm the ground and the seed to take root. Watering that soil and accepting oneself and believing then sets that path for transition.

I don’t know where any of this fits on deterministic or non-deterministic or anything else – I’m a finance guy not a social scientist, but to me this was an elegant analogy and helped me to understand a little of what goes on for a trans person and how they might understand what part of the equation is within them and what part is within society. Maybe others will find it useful as well.

I know this is an off-strand, but it seemed like it was a topic still getting attention.

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stephen 07.09.18 at 6:45 pm

Engels@163:

By that argument, Germany and Britain, each other’s best customers, must have stayed neutral with regard to each other in 1914.

See Norman Angell for proof why that must have happened.

188

Stephen Downes 07.09.18 at 6:52 pm

Look, I am a rural peasant. I have noticed, over the years, that bulls cannot safely be trusted to behave like oxen, nor like cows. Anyone doubting this is invited to go into a field containing a bull.

Now, is that on account of social conditioning of cattle by some sort of bovine patriarchy, or is it innate?

189

Joseph Brenner 07.09.18 at 7:53 pm

Stephen Downes@188:

Now, is that on account of social conditioning of cattle by some sort of bovine patriarchy, or is it innate?

Try “inane”.

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bianca steele 07.09.18 at 8:28 pm

On the actual topic of the post, I think people (maybe increasingly) don’t want coalitions, much less movements, they really just want to make converts, or actually they want to go around making mini-conquests here and there. They may talk about gender performativity and social construction in the abstract, but what they really mean is, “you see how you’ve been passive aggressive all this time as an excuse while blaming me for being sexist, while in fact you’ve been performing femininity instead of doing your work in a proper ungendered way,” or maybe “you see how much better than you at adulting I am.” “Thank you for your offering, but get back on your own side of the altar rail, or the choir loft will become too crowded.” “Aha, good point! Now see how I use prep school debating skills to get the point for making it myself.” The left wants to persuade others of its positions, but they’re the same as anybody in enjoying the persuading at least as much as the end-state of agreeement, and if liberals take the same positions as leftists, then leftists will be left with nothing to argue with them about.

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nastywoman 07.09.18 at 8:42 pm

@187
”By that argument, Germany and Britain, each other’s best customers, must have stayed neutral with regard to each other in 1914”.

On the other hand – if Britain would be on the Euro -(and not on this silly collapsing pound) – there never would have been a ”Brexit”.
-(and somebody very ”British” – who knows these things – and is not called Norman – told me)

192

Mario 07.09.18 at 9:14 pm

J-D,

surely you can show me fora where I can accurately sample the priorities of the left / liberals. Just today I opened The Guardian and it had a lot of mixed stuff of world politics, Kids in Thailand, etc, but nothing on the NHS, housing crisis, and other topics of this kind. But sure enough it had (i’m tempted to write “of course” here) a sad-face piece denouncing that trans actresses cannot get roles in Hollywood.

Here in Germany, the coalition running the city of Berlin (not the German government) is running on a program that has more pages on LBGT issues than on building schools and finding teachers.

SusanC,

Conservatives often bring up the trans subject because bringing it up is a cheap end effective political tactic. You just throw the issue into a room of lifestyle leftist and boy do they go off. Witness this very same thread.

And the tactic is effective because the issue actually bothers a lot of people, even liberally minded people, quite a lot. And it touches them where it hurts. If you want to see a glimpse of the full toxic potential of this issue in terms of politics, google for “puberty blockers custody”. If you are running for office, I, as a parent, really want to know where you stand on that issue.

193

engels 07.09.18 at 10:29 pm

“socially constructed” does not mean that it’s made out of whole cloth, and in fact I would say that ideology always requires that kernel of truth to root itself in the first place

If you think there’s a ‘kernel of truth’ in gender then shouldn’t you be in favour of rationalisation or reform rather than abolition?

194

Faustusnotes 07.09.18 at 10:40 pm

Mario makes a ludicrous analysis of the guardians coverage of “working class” issues by saying it has nothing on the NHS on a day that the foreign sec resigns and the brexiteers plan begins to unravel, there is a chemical weapons attack on the UK and Trump announces his SCOTUS nominee.

Except it has a bio of the health minister, and an article on the universal credit debacle, an issue the guardian has pursued relentlessly (and thanklessly it would appear judging from Mario’s sneers) for years.

Is this what passes for analysis in Super Mario World? You open a newspaper you think is left wing on a random day and if it has no articles on the NHS you declare it to be fetishizing trans issues? You’ll go far in politics Mario, you really will.

195

floopmeister 07.09.18 at 11:55 pm

Engels:

That’s not Kate Manne’s Dad is it?

Nope! :)

Here’s an example of Manne, discussing the power of Murdoch’s right wing Australian newspaper – and the culture war war it undertakes against the opposing (vaguely centre-left) Fairfax media group and the ABC (equivalent to BBC or PBS)…

196

engels 07.10.18 at 12:32 am

197

floopmeister 07.10.18 at 3:36 am

Engels – wow, I stand corrected.

TBH, I thought you were joking/being facetious (nominative determinism, and all that) so I actually didn’t check…

My bad.

Talk about ‘coming from an academic family’ – her mother (Anne Manne), is also a scholar of some note.

198

nastywoman 07.10.18 at 6:20 am

@194+192

”Here in Germany” – we specialize in reading just what we want to read in newspapers -(I only read ”Kultur” and ”Todesanzeigen”) – and the rest of the paper is used for filling the paper recycling bin – a far FAR more important and pondered -(I love this word) – issue than some ”gender stuff”!

199

engels 07.10.18 at 10:33 pm

Being a social construct doesn’t mean being a fiction or an illusion. Money, for example, is a social construct. Money functions, and plays a huge role in people’s lives, because people believe in it; but people do believe in it, and so it does function and play a huge role in people’s lives; and you can’t individually stop this from being true just by saying that you individually don’t believe in it any more.

It is a fiction in the specific sense that if everybody stopped believing in it (and acting as if they do) it would cease to exist. As I understand that is also the abolitionist view of gender. Obviously nobody thinks that someone can escape societal expectations, laws, informal sanctions, etc by an individual act of will–that is an absurd straw man–but I do think some comments on this thread overplay the tightness of the constraints (some people do and always have chosen to do their own thing, with varying degrees of happiness and success).

200

engels 07.10.18 at 10:54 pm

So my feeling about your earlier suggestions about some statements being necessarily incompatible with others is that the situation is more complex; and what you described as a shift from one position to another inconsistent with it seems to me more like the progressive development of a more nuanced view in which more complexities are articulated, qualifying earlier understandings but not necessarily flatly contradicting them.

I don’t see how this connects with anything specific I wrote. It seems mainly to be a rather passively-aggressively formulated general insinuation that your undertanding of these issues is more ‘complex’, ‘nuanced’, etc, and from that superior vantage point the opposition I have taken some trouble to spell out in detail simply goes away. I can’t see that it does. However complicated you wish to make things, construction (social or individual) is not the same thing as cognition.

201

engels 07.10.18 at 11:07 pm

(I conceded above you can consistently claim that gender identity is a cognition of a forgotten decision, a proposal which to my knowledge has never been advanced outside of the confines of this comments section and which seems so outlandish as not to require further comment.)

202

engels 07.11.18 at 1:57 am

Btw and on topic, here’s a recent US article on democratic socialism:

http://theweek.com/articles/783700/democratic-socialism-bad-why-norway-great

…democratic socialism is a political tradition aiming broadly at democratic control of the economy, achieved through electoral processes. In concrete terms, that generally means a completed cradle-to-grave welfare state plus democratic ownership of big swathes of the economy through mechanisms like a social wealth fund or state-owned enterprises. Importantly, this definition rules out authoritarian systems like the state socialism seen in the Soviet Union. Democracy means at a minimum regular, free, and fair elections, where a conservative party has a real chance of victory.

Which iirc means Britain c1980 was a democratic socialist state. Wish we’d appreciated it at the time!

203

Chris (merian) W. 07.11.18 at 7:09 am

engels, @162: I used “LGB” to indicate that the conversations I was referring to were about choice in sexual orientation, not gender identity. So it was hardly an “unfortunate” choice of words. (A useful rule of thumb that I was taught early on is that if one’s interlocutor appears to be not making sense, it is more constructive to assume that maybe one’s own understanding is faulty in some way rather than that they don’t know what they meant to be saying. Not that I couldn’t have made this explicit, but really, was this supposed to be a stretch?)

To return briefly to the changes in how the center of mainstream feminism apprehends gender, I tend to think of them much less the product of malevolent inconsistency, but rather as a sign that, somehow collectively we’ve learned something. Not in a scholarly or scientific sense, but more simply in the sense that shreds of understanding that were controversial, marginal or not really formulated 20 years ago have become relatively widely accepted as at least building blocks of how this stuff works. We don’t even use some words in exactly the same sense any longer. This doesn’t mean that what used to be cornerstones of feminist thought, such as criticism of a naturalized essentialist gender order, were wrong. Clearly they weren’t. But pushing the criticism into a more radical formulation — “all gender is performative” or whatever — didn’t quite work out, at least not without interrogating what we mean by performative. At the same time, just because something is performative it doesn’t mean that it’s *only* performative. (Looking at how literal performers relate to their performance, that shouldn’t have been surprising. Oops.) Overall, I think we’ve made some (maybe limited, maybe encouraging) progress in how we talk about gender, and in accepting that the whole topic is complicated. As an example, it feels right to me that “trans” these days includes both someone who has a strong internal conviction of their identity as male or female (one that is different from what they had been put down as based on primary sexual characeristics, notwithstanding whatever a fuller biological description would indicate) AND someone who uses terms like genderqueer or agender, and rejects either of the traditional labels. Not that we should rest on the status quo, but it’s better than what we used to have. And all those now-cringeworthy discussions about MTF and FTM transsexuals (terms that feel very outdated, to me and a large majority of my LGBT friends and discourse community) were a step to get us here.

204

bruce wilder 07.11.18 at 8:53 am

many very interesting comments, but i find myself puzzled by the OP’s implicit premises concerning what politics as philosophical discourse is (the nature of the beast), and what it would mean for an individual person to be “consistent“ over time.

it seems to me that political discourse is a stream into which it is not possible to step into at the same place twice. and, it also seems to me that political discourse always reflects the panoply of human ambivalence amidst deep uncertainty about the consequences of public choices conditioned against private actions. could anyone strive to either embody the full range of ambivalence or be “right”? i think not.

our political opinions are in the nature of hedges: expressions of some thing we think we “know” balanced against a background of things we choose not to focus on or fully consider. and we bet our hedges socially, aligning with others on the basis of some portfolio of salients, and in historical time, ephemeral salients at that. dare i add, for and against? push-pull marching in step

the split that opened in the Democratic coalition in the 2016 primaries was just as startling and rapid as the current spate of coming together.

205

J-D 07.11.18 at 9:54 am

Mario

If you want to see a glimpse of the full toxic potential of this issue in terms of politics, google for “puberty blockers custody”. If you are running for office, I, as a parent, really want to know where you stand on that issue.

If you want to know where a political party (left, right, or centre) stands on that issue — or, indeed, any other issue — then picking up the latest newspaper (‘Just today I opened The Guardian’, to quote your words) in the hopes of finding a relevant report is a terrible investigative strategy. You should try either contacting the party directly or reading its publications (including, nowadays, its website); also, if the party is or has been in government, reading official reports of its actions in government.

Here in Germany, the coalition running the city of Berlin (not the German government) is running on a program that has more pages on LBGT issues than on building schools and finding teachers.

If I discovered a political party devoting more words to LGBT issues than to schools, I would wonder whether its priorities were distorted; but I would also reflect that number of words is an indicator of limited value, suggestive but a long way from conclusive. Amount of money spent, for one thing, is a far more important indicator than volume of words (although also by itself probably not absolutely conclusive). How does the expenditure of the Berlin government on TBLG issues compare with its expenditure on schools?

If you want to know what is the position of (for example) the Labour Party (I mean the British one) on (quoting you again) ‘the NHS, housing crisis, and other topics of this kind’, or the relative priority they give those topics (compared with whatever is the other kind of topic you want to use as a contrast), you should try asking them directly, reading their publications, and/or studying the record of their actions in government (including legislative and administrative initiatives and budget expenditure). Just for the hell of it, I have just made the experiment of taking a quick look at the home page of their website: it features prominent references to (among other things) ‘healthcare for all’ and ‘secure homes for all’, but nothing about TBLG issues.

(I use the Labour Party as an example because you mention the NHS, but, as I said, the same principle applies to whichever party it is you’re concerned with, except of course that parties that haven’t been in government don’t have records of government action to study.)

206

engels 07.11.18 at 11:09 am

I tend to think of them much less the product of malevolent inconsistency, but rather as a sign that, somehow collectively we’ve learned something. Not in a scholarly or scientific sense, but more simply in the sense that shreds of understanding that were controversial, marginal or not really formulated 20 years ago have become relatively widely accepted as at least building blocks of how this stuff works. We don’t even use some words in exactly the same sense any longer. This doesn’t mean that what used to be cornerstones of feminist thought… were wrong. Clearly they weren’t. But pushing the criticism into a more radical formulation… didn’t quite work out, at least not without interrogating what we mean… At the same time, just because something is performative it doesn’t mean that it’s *only* performative… Overall, I think we’ve made some (maybe limited, maybe encouraging) progress…in accepting that the whole topic is complicated…. Not that we should rest on the status quo, but it’s better than what we used to have

Ok. The only thing I still don’t understand is why an 8-foot-tall wookie would live on the planet of Endor with a bunch of 2-foot-tall ewoks…

207

bianca steele 07.11.18 at 11:41 am

The fiction/social construct distinction in what engels quotes @199 highlights that certainly attackers of what they perceive to be left-wing dogmas in social science pretend there’s an enormous distance between the two words, so that they can attack the “dogma” that social roles are “fictions” while presenting themselves as reasonable people who of course don’t deny that they’re “social constructs.” In other words, the pseudo-knowledge that there’s a distinction between the two words (when in fact they meant the same thing in all respects all along, it’s just that one triggers people and makes them question things, while the other appears to elevate the social above everything else in a way that appeals to the budding neoreactionary) allows the wannabe acolytes of Pinker who hang out at LessWrong (and who if they’ve read The Blank Slate at all, as opposed to watching other anonymous people debate it have read at most 2/3 of it) display superiority to people who for whatever reason prefer to know how actual scholars in the field use the words.

208

Collin Street 07.11.18 at 11:45 am

If I discovered a political party devoting more words to LGBT issues than to schools,

The thing is, “words used” is a shitty metric because people only talk about the things they think their counterparties don’t know already. Governments use lots of words where they think they’re running ahead of [or behind] the population and feel their positions could benefit from justification. The link between “warrants explanation” and “pressingly important” is… not huge. LGBT policies require dragging the population along, thus words; grabbing people off the streets and putting them in locked rooms because of “crimes”, less debated and thus less focussed on in communication, even though virtually any government is going to be doing vastly more of the latter than the former.

209

Chris "merian" W. 07.11.18 at 6:50 pm

Fact-checking Marion #192: Presuming I have the correct coalition agreement (https://www.berlin.de/rbmskzl/regierender-buergermeister/senat/koalitionsvereinbarung/), it talks about schools on pp. 104-106, with four policy points, and then throughout the 190p document in the context of protection of minorities and criminal justice/victim services. Say 3 pages altogether. It talks about schools on pp. 12-20 with about 2 dozen or so policy sections, then again on several pages later on about higher education policies, and throughout the document in the context of renovations of school buildings and integration of migrants.

Again, maybe I have the wrong document, but if not, are you kidding us?

210

Chris ("merian") W. 07.11.18 at 9:01 pm

Apologies, the last one was garbled: The coalition agreement for Berlin talks about LGBT+ issues on about 3 pages altogether (notably 104-106), and at much greater length about schools (all of 12-20, plus multiple passages throughout, including whole pages on higher education). Also, apologies to Mario for misspelling the name.

211

nastywoman 07.12.18 at 7:51 am

@210
”Fact-checking Marion #192”

Wow?

You took this seriously:
”Here in Germany, the coalition running the city of Berlin (not the German government) is running on a program that has more pages on LBGT issues than on building schools and finding teachers”.

From… Germany?

I mean… isn’t it a ”known – known” that Clownsticks from Germany are the YUUUGEST joker on earth?!

212

nastywoman 07.12.18 at 9:22 am

and @
”How eerie and unsettling it can be when people change their minds”

we do it aaall the time – even given up looking for the ”right facts” to justify our changes – as it it is truly ”liberating” to confess that the change happened entirely ”emotional” –
just the way Heinrich – and Thomas Mann got together again – after Heinrich for such a long time wouldn’t talk to Thomas anymore –
Which could remind us on Thomas Mann’s last -(and most? ”unsettling” piece) –

Die Betrogene –
(The Black Swan)

In this nasty piece of work an older woman really get’s betrayed by some ”facts” of her body – as the body firstly signals ”menopause” – but when she falls in love with a younger man – her lower part seems to entirely change (back) to some ”happy days of love” and how does Mann say it so ”beautifully literally”:
A heightened state of sexual awareness –
including the return of menstrual bleeding.

But, but, but – as we later find out – that’s just do to ”a hemorrhage caused by what would soon prove to be a fatal metastatic tumor in her uterus”.

Uuuuh?

– and then some ”surgeons comment:
”Cancer was an obvious cause of the tumor, but one doctor insinuates that it could have been the yearning for love and her altered or re-awakened erotic personality that stimulated her ovaries thereby causing the cancerous growth” – precisely like the love of… some older men for a German Baron called FF von Clownstick??!

-(oder ist das wieder mal viel – viel zu weit hergeholt?!)

213

bob mcmanus 07.12.18 at 12:57 pm

212: Oh oh you tempt me…to go Dunning-Kruger on Mann, and get in big trouble in this sexuality thread, but hey…

1) T Mann was not great writing women, the Buddenbrooks sister is the only one that I remember as pretty decent
2) Oh jeez the illness as metaphor and more than metaphor thing…I will get back to this
3) T Mann was like a fanatical bourgeois liberal, but also I think a committed closeted…Nietzschean
4) Nietzsche comes very close to claiming that decadence and disease can be willed, maybe unwilled, and that decadence and disease is a source of inspiration and genius, even an expression of love. T Mann works this very hard and obsessively in all his work, all the way back to T Buddenbrook’s abscessed tooth.
4) Some quotes from the Judith Marcus work, I’ll try to distinguish between Mann’s work notes on “Death in Venice” and Marcus own words

Mann: “Eros is the guide
for the artist toward things intellectual, spiritual beauty;
for him, the path to the pinnacle goes by way of the senses.
But this is a dangerously delightful path, a wrong way and a
sinful way, although there is no other.”

“The fame of the artist is a farce; the trust of the masses is
sheer idiocy; education via art is a risky undertaking, to be
prohibited, the irony that the boys are reading him, the
irony of his official standing, of his being granted nobility….
At the very end: state of decadence, enervation, demoralization.”

Marcus quoting Lukacs:”Lukács discusses Socrates’s conception of love whose “object is to procreate and bring forth in beauty.” Socrates, the philosopher, forced his life “towards this high point,” although he must have realized “the ultimate hopelessness of all longings.” The words of Socrates, the teacher and prophet of longing, had seduced Athens’s youth ”to love, but then he led them towards virtue, beauty and life.” 52 It is in this sense that a “great love has something ascetic about it.” Socrates himself transferred his longing into a philosophy “whose peak was eternally unattainable, the highest goal of all human longing: intellectual contemplation”; instead of being a god of love, Eros becomes a “cosmic principle.” Socrates, the man, “disappeared behind his philosophy.”

Mann: “Nothing is invented in Death in Venice. The ‘pilgrim’ … the gray-haired rake,… Tadzio… the cholera,… all that and anything else you like, they were all there. I had to arrange them… as elements of composition.”

5) Okay, so now we get to my incomplete reading of Mann.

I don’t know whether Mann “was” homosexual. I don’t know what that means if not expressed in behavior, which happened rarely.

I think Mann decided* he was homosexual (and slight ephebophile), decided he would view it as a decadence and disease acceptable for his bourgeois ethics…not that it was, or that Mann “really” thought it was a disease, but he chose to perform as a bourgeois martyr, to repress his homosexuality, with both the homosexuality and the repression (too much will, too much reason) being decadent. Uhh, irony.

*Much like Leverkuhn choosing to pick up syphilis. Mann needed a big big sin.

Very very Nietzschean, in which both expression and repression are decadent.

I don’t see this as just a nutty idiosyncrasy, I see it in Mann as itself a powerful symbol relating to Western Civilization. I think he saw it that way.

214

Mario 07.12.18 at 7:58 pm

Chris (“merian”) W. @210,

I have that information originally from a Faz article, and hadn’t read the actual program. Either way, now I looked over it, and I’m afraid I just have to stick with the data point: the passages on ensuring the viability of the schools is tiny compared to the three pages on LBGT issues. They talk a lot about schools, but only in passing about building them and about getting new teachers, both fairly important points in a city with 80000 more children than the schools have capacity, and very serious problems with teaching quality and recruiting.

What they talk about profusely when they talk about schools is about reforming them to implement things like “inklusion” and lots of other ideologically laden things that in fact will burden the existing schools even further. I would have expected, from a left wing coalition, a serious strategy and concept beyond a sentence or two of the kind “we will build more schools and repair the derelict ones, as well as fix the quality issues”. They manage to find more sentences when it comes to “inklusion”, for example. And then they have all those pages about LBGT issues. It is really clear that this matters to them a great deal more than the practical aspects of running a schooling system. As it stands, the schools will be fully inclusive, gender mainstreamed, and five-ways social-justice buzzword compliant, but also overcrowded, their roofs leaking, and there will not be enough actual teaching.

But If that weren’t enough, the three LBGT pages have to be seen against the background of a country where gay marriage is fully equivalent to hetero marriage by law. It’s not comparable to, say, Iran, by any stretch of the imagination! The passages on schooling have to be seen not only against a background of infrastructure weakness, but also against a background of an already very liberal and inclusive school system. This isn’t the fifties.

(Re. name – it’s ok)

215

J-D 07.13.18 at 12:45 am

Mario

So, what conclusion do you feel is justified by this piece of evidence?

216

nastywoman 07.13.18 at 2:40 am

@210
about
@214
”now I looked over it”

Me Too –
(not believing that somebody made me read this?)
BUT! – just had to look at the following ”Inhaltsangabe” (summary) – of the Vereinbarung everybody -(who uses google translate) can find out – that Mario is a far bigger joker than I thought –
176 Pages about everything – an American Socialist only can dream about!! –
and could somebody please tell US – under what ”point” of the summary do we find these ”LBGT rights”?

Is it under:
”Bezahlbares Wohnen für alle” (Payable Shelter for all)
or under:
”Gute Kindheit und Jugend in einer familienfreundlichen Stadt” (Good Childhood and youth in a family friendly city)
or do we find it under:
”Gesundes Berlin” -(Healthy Berlin)

Wer is it in:
I. Investieren in die Stadt von morgen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Beste Bildungschancen für mehr Teilhabe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Bezahlbares Wohnen für alle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Stadtentwicklung in Berlin – intelligent, nachhaltig und partizipativ . . . . . . . . . . 31 Sauber, bequem und sicher durch die Stadt –
Mobilitätswende einleiten und Umweltverbund stärken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39 Innovativ, gerecht, nachhaltig – Wirtschaftspolitik für Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Berlin – Vorreiter für Klimaschutz und Energiewende . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Haushalts- und Finanzpolitik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67 Wissenschaft – Impulsgeberin der wachsenden Stadt Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 85
II. Den gesellschaftlichen Zusammenhalt stärken . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
Gute Arbeit in der sozialen Stadt
Die Hälfte der Macht den Frauen
Regenbogenhauptstadt Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .104
Gute Kindheit und Jugend in einer familienfreundlichen Stadt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107 Metropole Berlin – weltoffen, vielfältig, gerecht . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .112 Kultur- und Medienmetropole Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .120
III. Ein bürgernahes und lebenswertes Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131 Leistungsfähige Verwaltung und moderner öffentlicher Dienst . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .132 Öffentliche Sicherheit und Bürgerrechte für Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 143
Die Berliner Justiz im effektiven Rechtsstaat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151 Starker Verbraucher*innenschutz in Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .157 Aktiver Natur- und Umweltschutz – ein ökologischer Aufbruch für Berlin . . . . . . .159 Gesundes Berlin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 Bürger*innenschaftliches Engagement und Partizipation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .174 Berlin – Stadt des Sports . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176

Mario please help US???!

217

Chris (merian) W. 07.13.18 at 8:06 am

Mario:

I’m a little bit flabbergasted. If I had inadvertently parroted what looked like a factual statement from a newspaper I trusted, and it turned out to be a tendentious lie, I’d be presenting my abject apologies (and probably would be typing a terse letter to the editor of the FAZ). You, however, are doubling down. Well, it’s a time where doubling down and never admitting error is in fashion: our favorite US president is setting the example. But all your pivoting cannot hide the simple fact that according to Adam Riese, 3.5 pages on LGBT issues (plus some token mentions elsewhere) is less than 8 pages on primary, secondary and vocational education, several pages worth on school building, plus all the pages on higher education. Your new claim is that they don’t count because they don’t contain your policy preferences. Sorry, but you just moved the goalposts right in front of our eyes.

I’m not going to defend the document as such. I saw it the first time when I downloaded it for this thread. It is written in typical political program language — full of pious aspirational statements but light on concrete implementation details (which aren’t the purpose of such a document admittedly: look in the budget for that). More importantly, I’ve never lived in Berlin and don’t know enough about the political themes there to discern clearly which of the paragraphs amount to strong statements that amount to a commitment to one direction (over another), or indeed when it comes to the more concrete points, which of the alphabet-soup initiatives mentioned in it have done a good job and which ones are suffering from problems, corruption, are misguided etc. The document is at times in a continuity with the previous administration, and undoubtedly some things worked and others didn’t: I have no opinion on these. (Certainly, there are SOME school-related commitments: increase of the salaries of a specific class of elementary school teacher; 100 Mio EUR in 2017 for school renovation and building; a commitment to a whole raft of school types, including forest schools and schools for young high-performance athletes, including boarding schools; a program for school psychologists specifically directed at refugee children that is extended and moved from temporary to permanent; etc. etc.)

So if I were in your shoes, maybe I, too, would take up an angry pen and write to my city state government that as a social democrat / Berlin citizen / father of a n-year old school child in X school, I demand a binding timetable for the renovation of schools X, Y and Z… or whatever the specific gaps are that you perceive aren’t adequately addressed. What I would certainly not do is to pit the (putative) inadequacies of the school policies against “all” those puny 3.5 pages on LGBT+ Berliners. (BTW, do you think those 3.5 pages are any *less* vague, handwavey and aspirational than the rest of the document?) Because it’s not a zero-sum game, at least not in the strict sense. If the measures mentioned in “all” those 3.5 pages make it possible for a trans kid who is being rejected at home to find a place to land, maybe a social worker or mentor to talk to, and maybe continue to find life worth living, sorry, that’s not nothing for me. Similarly, if you think that training municipal, social etc. services, including for example victim services who deal with sexual assault or domestic violence in LGBT+ aspects of their job and thereby ensuring that maybe, just maybe, an LGBT+ person who was abused or raped receives knowledgeable, competent assistance and services, is a waste of resources, well, that’s your prerogative. Better come right out with it, then. (It should be obvious that the shiny brand-new same-sex marriage, which was introduced less than a year ago, AFTER this document was written, has not with one fell swoop done away with any need to ever think about the needs of LGBT people again.)

Taking a step back, I know that while German schools in general (I don’t have numbers for Berlin) are overall capable of producing approximately educated young adults, they’re also well-documented for being among the worst among similar nation when it comes to reproducing parental social and educational hierarchies. More anecdotally, parents of my acquaintance who have seen some other countries tend to be very critical of the obstacles that German schools put in the way of a disabled kid receiving a equal education. That’s what inclusion means after all: designing schools and school systems so that everyone is served just as well as the prototypical educated middle-class straight white kid with Germany-born parents (who the highest quality curricula were written for), and that disadvantaged groups get help to catch up. Maybe you disagree that schools should do this and are happy as long as people like you get their needs fulfilled. If this is the case, the honest thing is to admit the difference in political goals. Including, if you’re really that callous, that saving some queer kid’s life isn’t high on your agenda.

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Citizen Mario 07.13.18 at 11:38 am

J-D @205,

that they care more about branding, i.e. wearing badges like “diversity”, “inclusion”, “gender mainstreaming”, “rainbow capital” (I wish I was kidding), than about real problems and their solutions. It’s called narcissism.

It’s not something that afflicts all of the left, but certainly their most vocal and consequently most powerful segment.

nastywoman @216,

it’s the “rainbow” thing.

I guess we are going to see. I bet they will build only very few if any new schools. They won’t get the drug dealers out of the childrens’ playgrounds, either. But it will be a Rainbow Capital!!1!

But back to how eerie and unsettling it can be when people change their minds: Miss Wagenknecht, the German head of the party “The Left”, recently positioned herself against open borders, noting that uncontrolled immigration burdens predominantly the local working class (duh!). That didn’t go well with her party but still… there is hope, I guess.

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nastywoman 07.13.18 at 6:15 pm

@218
”it’s the “rainbow” thing’.

Oh thank you – and I was just two weeks ago in the ”Bundeshauptstadt” to check out the whole situation out – and you don’t need to worry – ”soccer” always will be much more than this ”rainbow” stuff – even for these whole ”left” people – and for sure ”the Indian” on Südstern – Man! was he good!!

220

Chris (merian) W. 07.13.18 at 7:01 pm

I went back to Mario’s argument. Maybe what he is referring to by “building schools” is literally the process of erecting the building, and all the stuff about creating more of school type X and Y doesn’t even count? In which case, how many words does he expect to be used on this? How to build and repair a school is a solved problem. I’m sure Berlin has a bidding process, specialized construction companies and a project management department. Insert money, wait 2-3 years, school falls out. The only thing you need is to say how much money you spend on it and maybe a word about prioritization, if that’s controversial. Literally one sentence. The document does this for 2017. As for “finding teachers”, what you neglected to tell us is that Berlin has a recruitment problem. I’m more used to complaints about teacher unemployment, so forgive me if I didn’t realize the topic needs more attention that just ongoing tweaks. There’s a lot of it in the press from 2018. Was the problem as acute in 2016 already? Maybe. Fine. There’s a whole bunch about it in the document nonetheless, including bits and pieces in the higher education part. Even in the most literal interpretation about those two things you consider the highest priority in the Berlin school system, there’s probably still enough to amount to the same number of paragraphs as the LGBT section. But the main thing is: What do the piddly 3 pages about LGBT issues have to do with the first problem? You’re coming across like someone who complains about the number of vegetarian dishes on a menu (6) compared to the steak (4) and burger (2) choices, when there are in reality 25 meat dishes altogether and the REAL problem is that they don’t have Wiener Schnitzel, so you take it out on the vegetarians.

No adequate services for abused lesbians or kicked-out trans kids, no la-di-dah things like making sure the kid in the wheelchair can do Abitur in the specialization he wants, no language support for recently arrived refugees, no measures that would help the kid with Turkish parents who clean offices for a living to develop her intellectual interests and maybe become a history professor one day, nothing to prevent bullying of minorities — none of this newfangled “inclusion” stuff, not until Mario’s priorities are adequately addressed. And if Citizen Mario (is this the same person?) thinks that all these things are not “solving real problems” but empty badging, branding and labelling, then this is noted.

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milx 07.13.18 at 7:06 pm

According to Judaism a convert should never be humiliated by being reminded they they’re a convert, let alone by demands that they repent. Robin doesn’t appear to know this given his early analogy but this directive might be worth mimicking in non-Jewish contexts as well.

222

Citizen Mario 07.13.18 at 11:58 pm

Chris (merian) W. @220,

Berlin has a severe budget problem, so it’s not all that easy. And if you’ve been involved in this kind of thing – it’s never as easy as popping money in and out comes a school. I could write three pages on what needs to be done to get Berlin to offer schooling for 80000 additional kids on a budget and I’m not a specialist. But I care about it, they don’t. They care about the gender *, which is literally in every page.

To your second paragraph.

The newfangled “inclusion” stuff is deeply unpopular, because it causes more problems than it solves. I don’t know if you are familiar with it, but it is a great example of blind moral principles causing a lot of damage. What do these leftist do? Stick with the morals of course! Who would want to be seen not doing that?

Yeah, I insist that schooling for 80000 kids comes first. I’m a bad person like that.

223

J-D 07.13.18 at 11:58 pm

Mario

It’s not something that afflicts all of the left, but certainly their most vocal and consequently most powerful segment.

That’s not a conclusion which is justified by the document you’ve cited, so what evidence are you basing it on?

224

Sebastian H 07.14.18 at 4:07 am

There was a similar problem raised in my local GLBT center. Given the lack of attention trans people got in the past, one of the activists pushed for 50% of the money earmarked for helping GLBT teens put out on the street by their parents to be specifically targeted to trans teens. (This involved both direct physical help, and also raising awareness among each group that the services were available). One of the other activists pointed out that since trans people were about 1/10 of GLBT people, even though they were a little less than twice as likely to be put out on the street by their parents (very sad but true), the total number of them was still about 1/5th of GLBT teens, so devoting 1/2 the budget was likely to cause GLB teens to suffer a noticeable reduction in services. They suggested that the amount be closer to 1/3.

That argument was called extremely transphobic. The year after, number of extra trans teens helped, one. Number of GLB teens helped 12 fewer.

225

Chris (merian) W. 07.14.18 at 6:28 am

Mario: Yeah, because printing a few leaflets and carving out a little bit of welcoming space for trans kids isn’t orders of magnitude cheaper than catching up with the school deficit. Unlike you, I don’t think you have to mistreat queer and disabled kids to get your necessary schools built. But I get it, as long as the children of mainstream straight Germans like yourself are suffering WE MUST NOT HELP ANY MINORITY KID. Understood.

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Chris (merian) W. 07.14.18 at 6:43 am

Sebastian H: Well, those things can sometimes lead to debates that generate more heat than light, especially in largely volunteer-run places. Don’t expect that just because someone is LGBT this makes them any more discerning than the next guy. Setting quotas beforehand is unhelpful — you’ll get whoever you get. My experience here in the US, though, has been that the number of trans kids who seek services has skyrocketed. A colleague of my wife and his wife got involved with PFLAG after their daughter came out as a lesbian, and they also lead LGBT+ outreach in their (liberal) church. Their main clientele are trans rather than queer kids. This is in Texas. ::shrug:: I really have no idea what shares of each category to expect: the figures in the shadows are still large. You can’t do supply-side management for youth seeking support. Also, given that you can’t take a step in pro-trans direction without encountering transphobia, including from some lesbians, gay men, bi…, I wouldn’t assume if the unlucky trans activist didn’t get their share of inappropriate reactions. Hopefully it’s water under the bridge now.

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Mario 07.14.18 at 11:13 pm

J-D @223,

as the saying goes, you can observe a lot by just watching. I have no single piece of evidence to present you, but the way this works in Germany is through a set of twitter accounts and a few handfulls of journalists in the top five newspapers. If you are on the left, you do not get to sit on a board discussing actual policy if this networks has gone thumbs down on you. You would have to observe this for a while to grasp this amazing power. This network can even arrange for you to loose your job if you don’t fold once you have fallen from grace. I’m not kidding.

The network keeps its shape through being organized as a piety contest. You are not going to survive this if you find the gender star superfluous, for example. Or if you think this “inklusion” thing is ruining education (because that “means” you are in favor of discriminating mentally challenged children).

I’ve heard it is similar in the US and UK.

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Mario 07.14.18 at 11:30 pm

Unlike you, I don’t think you have to mistreat queer and disabled kids to get your necessary schools built.

You really think that this is what I think? If I don’t support getting them special treatment – I’m in favor of mistreating them?

But I get it, as long as the children of mainstream straight Germans like yourself are suffering WE MUST NOT HELP ANY MINORITY KID. Understood

Roughed-up cishet German blonde male children are also roughed-up children. But I totally understand that they lack features that get you bonus piety points if you help them. They are kind of meh if you are a narcissist and want to show the world how especially good you are. But beware, christian warrior: vanity is a sin!

Sebastians’ story sounds so hilariously asinine that I suspect it to be satire. What did they tell those twelve kicked out LBG, but not T, children? “Sorry, we have no budget for you?”.

And here is a gripping story about the left failing victims of abuse out of vanity and an addiction to the piety contest.

229

J-D 07.15.18 at 2:16 am

Mario

This network can even arrange for you to loose your job if you don’t fold once you have fallen from grace.

What specific examples of this happening have you observed?

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nastywoman 07.15.18 at 4:12 am

@
”but the way this works in Germany is through a set of twitter accounts and a few handfulls of journalists in the top five newspapers. If you are on the left, you do not get to sit on a board discussing actual policy if this networks has gone thumbs down on you. You would have to observe this for a while to grasp this amazing power”

Good Lord!

Now I understand – you are one of these guys who believes ”that the way this works in Germany is through a set of twitter accounts and a few handfulls of journalists in the top five newspapers”.

No it doesn’t ”work” like this in Germany – and please – as I’m -(currently) commenting from Germany too –
IT doesn’t work like this ”in Germany” – and there is nooo reason for y’all to believe such silly nonsense!

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nastywoman 07.15.18 at 5:46 am

– and as there seems to be this question about ”the way this works in Germany” let me explain how it really works.

Firstly – like in the US or the UK -(and probably also like in Australia) – the way ”IT” works depends entirely on the area where it works – as we for sure all know – that even in the US ”IT” works completely different in California than – just for example – in… Utah.

And the same goes for Germany -(or Berlin compared to Southern Germany) – with the YUUUGE difference that nearly everywhere in Germany not only people BUT also politicians and politics are really trying hard to show some ”social” – or should we call it ”socialistic – empathetic” conscience.

And like everywhere ”journalists” join in – BUT – like everywhere -(and in some kind of twisted ironic way – even proven by Mario) – like everywhere – in these times –

Who is still listening to ”journalists”?!

And so the way ”IT” works in Germany – is NOT the way Mario says – especially NOT in ”education” – as Germany isn’t a country like other countries – where education is kind of a ”business” – and ”the people” have to pay for – In germany ”IT” works like in a country where ”Free Education” -(and Health Care) is kind of ”a basic right” – and even the Mario- types can ask for anything – they like! – and often get ”IT”!

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J-D 07.15.18 at 7:25 am

Mario

And here is a gripping story about the left failing victims of abuse out of vanity and an addiction to the piety contest.

From the linked piece:

The report noted the experience of Adele Weir, the Home Office researcher, who attempted to raise concerns about the abuse with senior police officers in 2002; she was told not to do so again, and was subsequently sidelined.

Do you generally count senior police officers as part of the left?

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nastywoman 07.15.18 at 10:43 am

@
”a gripping story about the left failing victims of abuse out of vanity and an addiction to the piety contest”.

– Is like this very sad (American?) Idea of blaming ”the loser” -(any loser) for not winning against a FF von Clownstick.

Now – how absurd is that? – that grown man discuss – that ”she” didn’t do enough of this or that – and that’s why the Moron won?

NO!!

NEVER!!!

The Moron won BE-cause too many voted for the Moron and not BE-cvause they didn’t like the woman enough!

It’s BE-cause they liked the Moron too much!

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Chris (merian) W. 07.15.18 at 9:44 pm

Mario:

“If I don’t support getting them special treatment – I’m in favor of mistreating them?” Well, you have no problem whatsoever with the fact that they have to deal with special obstacles. So yeah, that in Germany we continue to clip their opportunities and ensure they continue to have a much harder time accessing the harder-to-access educational paths is, to me, mistreating them. (Not to mention the direct mistreatment because…)

“Roughed-up cishet German blonde male children are also roughed-up children.” … because apparently you’re not against *all* bullying prevention, just bullying prevention for heterosexual cis (male?) white students (at least how many generations?) of German ancestry. Got it. But only if they aren’t bullied because of a disability or physical quirk, because that would be Inklusion, which is bad. Right. Well, at least *someone* gets some extra support in your empathy-free, stratified world. Glad to hear it.

Listen, you could have avoided the whole kerfuffle by saying something like “In Berlin, where I live, the left-wing coalition has made complete fuck-up out of capacity management in the school system. They failed to anticipate the incipient problem and are still not taking it seriously enough.” It’s too far upthread for me to remember how it fits into this post’s argument, but just taken for itself, you’d have myself and people like me cheering you on. But instead of badgering your government and raising hell about this very valid point, you go on a bizarre rant about their positive attitude to LGBT+ (and later inclusion in general). It’s an on its face absurd attack. (“How DARE this restaurant serve a decent soup when they run out of mashed potatoes and roast chicken! I want the soup chef fired. There should be no soup until this horrible failure is remedied!”) It suggests that you care a lot more about people unlike yourself never being served ahead of people like you than about solving the actual problem (which we had to do internet searches on, since you hardly let us know that there IS a special problem going on).

The one thing I want to stress is that it’s incredibly frustrating to continue to run into people who present helping LGBT+ people (or refugees, or whatever) as being done for vanity, piety points, as if it wasn’t just as much about helping people as staunching a teacher shortage is.

(Will you find a politician who only talks about inclusion and LGBT+ stuff etc. to raise their profile, for opportunistic reasons? Sure! Many! I cannot count how many. I could tell you war stories about the PACS in France in 1998. Just ask a queer activist of your acquaintance and they’ll tell you which ones are in it for the brownie points and which ones understand the issues and appear to be sincere, for the time being. But that’s the same for every single policy area — it’s a bug in how we incentivise politicians. I daresay you’ve also encountered politicians who talk about how they’ll improve schools without doing anything effective, no?)

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