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Gender: Male
Hometown: Bay Area, California
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 1,011

About Me

Software engineer who thinks a lot about the future. http://paulkienitz.net/future/

Journal Archives

I said from the beginning of this that I would gladly make peace and cooperate with conservatives,

so long as they stood with me against fascism. I am thankful to all who have done so... though the vote totals show that they ended up being an awfully small fraction of the 2016 GOP voters.

last night my partner was saying she's done trying to save America from itself

She was in a mood, and in that mood she was saying no more activism, no more trying to make things better -- if America wants Trumpism it just deserves the suffering it's going to get.

She feels better this morning, but those words aren't forgotten by either of us. We could make excuses for blue collar suckers before, but now we really can't. Trump was voted for by millions and millions of purblind assholes who saw everything that he did in the last four years and learned absolutely nothing from it. You can't justify or rationalize that as hope or ignorance, this was a choice made with open eyes, even if the brain behind the eyes is choosing not to see.

I believe adults bear a level of moral responsibility for their own willingness to be duped by cons and conspiracy theories. Being tricked and lied to does not let you off the hook -- especially not after you've seen the results and haven't changed your mind.

My respect for my fellow citizens is probably the lowest it's ever been... and it seems unbelievable that just twelve years ago a solid majority of them behaved in the exact opposite way and reaffirmed every platitude about what America could be.

Bloomberg is acting as a stand-in for Trump

In the passive way he took these attacks, he ended up in the role of a paper shooting-gallery target with Trump's face pasted onto it. The real message was "This is how I will take down Trump."

I think I am coming up with a one-sentence definition of fascism.

Over the last three years, I've had to put a lot of study into the nature of just what fascism is. I've had to conclude that it is quite distinct from authoritarianism, though naturally they overlap frequently. What exactly qualifies someone, or some movement, as fascist? I think the essence of it is the division of the populace into "right people" and "wrong people". Here is my definition:

Fascism is the advocacy of privileging one cultural group above other cultural groups within a populace, both through the power of the state and through extralegal means.

Any group that uses "blood and soil" arguments -- that is, saying that a given area of land rightfully belongs to one ethnic group and other groups should have lesser rights there -- qualifies as fascist, if the movement is willing to use forceful coercion to obtain such an end. It does not matter if they are otherwise not authoritarian.

Willingness to use threats and violence is part of the requirement. If a group claims that they have special rights to something but is willing to use only nonviolent protests, they aren't fascist.

Communist regimes -- no matter how totalitarian -- generally do not qualify as fascist, because communism lumps all of the people into a single cultural group to suffer equally.

Democratically elected regimes do qualify as fascist if they allow some kinds of people the right to vote but not others.

Nationalism is closely related to fascism, but a distinction can be drawn.

I certainly prefer Warren over Sanders, and think she'd be much more capable as Prez, but...

...I don't think Sanders is all that bad. I'd rank him at least in the middle of the pack as far as my choices go -- maybe well into the upper half now, what with Kamala's organization imploding and Castro making an ass of himself.

My brother, who worked in the Obama administration, once told me that he saw Sanders as mostly show and not much go, but Warren as "the real deal".

I was convinced at the start of the campaign that Warren was going to solidly overtake Sanders, because she has all of his strengths and few of his weaknesses. That doesn't seem to be happening. Why would more people like him than her? Does he really attract that many misogynists? Or is it the Russians again?

if you think this undermines the GOP, you're making the mistake of thinking of them as ideologues

The right wing does not run on ideology, it runs on us-vs-them. The ideology of the moment is whatever favors their idea of "real" Americans over those who are not in that group.

This is why the right wing is so vulnerable to being pulled into fascism. The appeal of fascism is that it will give your culture an edge over other cultures. And that's exactly what the conservative base wants. They want America's traditional white, christian, patriarchal, gun-toting culture to have supremacy over other cultures, foreign and domestic. Ideology is only a tool to gain advantages, not an end in itself. We don't notice this because so many of their pundits play very convincing ideologues on TV, but even they are mostly not ideologues, as can be seen in their routine level of hypocricy. Ideological arguments are only tools to advance one culture and its members over other cultures -- to maintain as much privilege as possible for members of the conservative base at the expense of those who don't qualify for membership in the group. In that light, this move is not the least bit inconsistent with anything else in Trumpism, or for that matter in Reaganism.

libertarian covert racism

Conservatives in general, whether clever or foolish, whether with advanced degrees or a GED, all tend to be good at doublethink. You can hear dozens of different philosophies and systems of thought which go in different directions, but all just happen to agree on preserving white christian advantages. Some libertarians are cult dupes, but I think most who use the label are using it exactly the way the inventors of the libertarian movement intended it to be used: as an intellectual cloak for the defense of privilege. And even the very smart ones are mostly unconscious of this, I think... at bottom, the core difference between liberals and conservatives may be one not of compassion, but of consciousness, or mindfulness.

they have such a superficial and vacuous concept of heroism and virtue

...one where the symbolism matters more than the concrete accomplishments.

This is the attitude which caused George H.W. Bush to get more upset and angry over flags being burnt than over live human beings being burnt.

The right wing is so full of doublethink that they can't tell the difference between true virtues such as courage, and mere social signals that might identify someone as belonging to their right wing team.

Ocean plankton.

Marine plankton grows faster than trees, and once it dies a lot of it sinks to the depths, taking carbon with it. Furthermore, it supports fish and helps undo some of the tremendous loss of ocean biomass caused by overfishing. If we're going to decarbonate the atmosphere successfully, we need both trees and plankton.

they love to tar the left with the term "identity politics"

but today's conservative ideology is nothing but identity politics. They don't actually care about values or ideologies -- those are rationalizations or excuses. What they care about is their own kind of people (white, christian, patriarchal) vs other kinds of people.

What I have learned over decades of arguing with mainstream conservatives is that you never know what rationale or value system or philosophy they are going to pull out to justify their position, but you always know whose side they're going to take when someone like them is in conflict with someone not like them.
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