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iemanja's Journal
iemanja's Journal
July 30, 2014

On Banning, Criticism, and Liberalism

I was engaged in a discussion about why some people mistake criticism with calls for banning. The question about distinctions of liberalism vs. libertarianism also emerged. Unfortunately, as I was writing my response, that thread was deleted, so I will post it here, along with some context for clarification.

Essentially the other thread, as best as I can recall, asked why people support banning of books and how they see resistance to banning as being libertarian as opposed to liberal.

I noted that people mistake dissent for calls for banning. They seem to think any criticism of anything related to sex is the same as banning. Every time anything related to sex is discussed, a good portion of members insist on bringing out the banning canard, when in fact no one that I've seen has promoted banning. I have to wonder why it is so many have trouble with dealing with dissent as actually articulated and why they time and time again ignore those arguments and instead create false charges of banning? I also noted that most of the criticisms made were not in fact about consensual sex but rape, or what they believed to be rape.

When scolded for refusing to address the question of libertarianism, I wrote this reply (before the thread was deleted). The OP seemed more interested in definitions of libertarian vs. liberal, whereas I was more concerned with substance of arguments being made.

Since most DUers do not describe themselves as libertarian. I choose to avoid such labels whenever possible. A strawman about banning has been set up. NO ONE has proposed banning. No one I have seen, and whenever I have asked for examples they provide none. The question is why is it that people cannot honestly deal with the arguments people make without falsely attributing entire positions people have not taken?

I choose to avoid such labels because people have such widely different understandings of them. As one poster noted, they serve to insult more than anything. However, someone did send me these definitions from Wikipedia:

Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis) is a political philosophy or worldview founded on the idea of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas such as free and fair elections, civil rights, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free trade, and a right to life, liberty, and property.

Libertarianism is the group of political philosophies which advocate minimizing coercion and emphasize freedom, liberty, and voluntary association. Libertarians generally advocate a society with significantly less government compared to most present day societies

I have encountered one person on DU who used the term libertarian to describe himself and insisted it could be a leftist ideology. That has not been my understanding, so I cannot speak to that point of view.

I think what is happening is that people have very different understandings of liberalism and ultimately maintain differing core values. Some focus to a large extent on the rights of the individual, while others care more about equal rights, on racial and gender equality in particular. It is my view that many are not aware of the extent to which their conception of liberty is bound by race, gender, and class. The emphasis on sex as inviolate is built around a male-gendered conception of rights in which women are extensions of male desire. Yes, many women maintain similar views, just as many poor people uphold the rights of the wealthy without understanding they undermine their own position in the process. The notion that everything in society having to do with sex is good and should never be criticized ignores the extent to which cultural representations serve the interests of capital and patriarchy. Rape, "elastic" notions of consent, and objectification are examples.

If you want to understand libertarianism or why someone calls others libertarian, you will need to engage with someone who uses that label.

NOTE: This is not an OP to discuss the much referenced book but rather the general ideas outlined above.
July 29, 2014

Someone mentioned furries!

and I got all excited!

July 25, 2014

Them's fighing words

July 25, 2014

I find this thread disturbing

The number of recs makes it more so. Using the Holocaust as a point of reference for discussing Israeli actions in Palestine is just wrong. The Holocaust was an event unparalleled in human history. That it sought the extinction of the Jewish people makes this analogy all the more troubling. Israel is engaged in an occupation and war on Palestine. It does not have gas chambers set up; they are not using Arab skin to make trophies, or any of the other horrific actions that was the Holocaust. However unjust you find Israel's actions in Palestine, it does not approach that level, and I consider this sort of equivalency disturbing.

I am of the view that the Holocaust and Hitler should not be used as reference points for any current event. But to then use it to refer to Israel, a nation that is overwhelmingly Jewish, is particularly disturbing. We do not see Schindler's List referenced in regard to the US invasion of Iraq, to Assad's battle against insurgents (the majority of whom are not, like him, Alawite). We don't see it used to reference the detention and rounding up of immigrant children along the border or Muslims picked up after 9/11. Nor do we see it as a comparison with the Mexican War, in which it is possible to argue that the US took a position similar to Israel toward Palestine.

Why do we see it in this instance? Because Israel is a nation of Jews, and Jews were the target of the Holocaust. Think about that.

July 22, 2014

The jury didn't buy the twisting words argument

as the results above clearly show. In fact, at least one juror noted that what I was doing was quoting you. You apparently don't like to be reminded what you say. Typically I might say that if someone finds that objectionable, they should probably think more carefully about what they post, but you are consistent in your arguments. What you object to is being called on it. Well that's too bad because I'm not concerned about whether you respond. I don't document this for your benefit but so that others understand the context for your posts.

Besides, you rarely have responded to me in the past anyway, or to others who shows your arguments to be unsound. You didn't respond when I showed your claim that Sweden and the US were the same in terms of the gender gap, an argument you made to suggest their was something immutable about the gender gap in pay: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=4868023

Most revealingly, you refused to respond when I and another member caught you red-handed trying to deny what you had just written. (This will be a bit long winded because I need to provide adequate evidence so as to not distort your words.)
I and others have seen thread after thread in which you showed great concern for the legal rights of accused rapists whose victims were girls or women.
Or that there should be no prosecution of those who cyberbullied a 14 yr old rape victim who attempted suicide, whom you compared to George Zimmerman. http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024296858#post5
Or that rape is an "individual" rather than a "societal problem" http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024706865#post43
Or the version of consent you insisted was the only one that mattered:

The way the law works is that if the woman is sober and awake, she needs to give some type of indication that she doesn't want the act to occur. If she's screaming "no," that's rape. If she's trying to push the guy away, that's rape. But if she's a willing participant and gives no indication of trying to stop the act, every court and jury in the land will consider that consensual sex.http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=1905247
(The OP was in fact not talking about the law but how decent men treat their partners. The standard for legal prosecution and being a decent human being rather the opposite are not the same. Decent men do not take the absence of screaming as sufficient to have sex with a woman).

Given a long history of such responses, we could not help but notice your response differed in the case of a male victim. When confronted on that, you claimed:
I dont know anything about this case
I dont even know the sex of the victims. The article in the OP doesn't really give much information.

The article did in fact give the sex of the victims, which is why you had previously said this before posting a South Park cartoon:
If the victims are male, she'll probably get a slap on the wrist and the victims will be told that they are supposed to like it and were crazy to say anything.

That was the moment I knew without doubt exactly what I was dealing with.

BTW, YOU made this thread about feminists when you decided to edit the OP to whine about how mean a "certain clique" were mean to you. Be certain this member of said clique pays attention. I know your posting history, and I will continue to provide it when I think appropriate. I need not twist your words or even characterize them. Quoting them is more than sufficient. Readers can come to their own conclusions about their meaning.

July 22, 2014

Twist words?

The only words that are necessary is what you yourself say. You have accused me of twisting words when I quoted you, and let your own words do the talking. An example: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=4833133

When in fact my response was to quote you:

Star Member BainsBane (24,836 posts)

3. THIS is rape culture

For all those who deny it's existence. Stories that show short sentences, cops not bothering to investigate, or serial rapists being released from jail to reoffend crop up all the time.

davidn3600 (2,729 posts)
10. Our recidivism is nearly 60% across the board of practially all crimes

The problem isn't just rapists...its the whole system. Our prison system does not fix people, it only makes them harder criminals. Our recidivism is among the worst in the modern world.

And please don't bring up this crap about men serving light sentences...it's been shot down.. Studies show women get up to 63% lighter sentences for the exact same crimes....

You want men to serve even longer? Where are you going to put them? We already have 5 times more prisoners per capita than China! And our state governments are out of money. In fact, California is now be ordered by the feds to release 10,000 prisoners because their prisons have reached 170% of capacity.

Im sorry...but prison is not going to solve your rape culture.


Above you write:
Nothing about being mean. It's just not a good way to get more people on your side. When you attack rather than engage, people will just dig their heels in deeper

On our side? There is no part of this universe where you are on the side of the feminists you so regularly malign. You have made that abundantly clear. You don't even make the slightest effort to pay attention to what feminists here write. You instead repeat arguments by anti-feminists. One clear example:
And that's where feminism loses me. Because I don't really feel like it's attacking what needs to be attacked. The focus seems to be simply to put women into male roles and then call that equality. That strategy will not crush the patriarchy. The only way to crush the patriarchy is to make femininity equal to masculinity. And when you look at JUST THAT...we really haven't moved much from the 1950s. But in the future, if we make femininity and masculinity equal...the categories cease to exist. That's when you have true gender equality.

I responded by telling you that you have no understanding of feminism and haven't even paid attention to the arguments made by the certain "clique" you so revile. Radical feminism seeks to uproot patriarchy and undo gender conventions altogether. Naturally you ignored that because you have no interest in listening to what any actual feminist says (or any woman, from what I can tell). Instead, you will repeat what men who despise feminists say because it fits your own political agenda.

Above you repeat the complaint frequently sited by MRAs that feminists only work for women's rights. The very purpose of feminism is to work for women's rights. We don't need to work for men's rights anymore than Occupy needs to work for the rights of the Fortune 500 or Civil Rights activists need to work for the rights of white people. You see, having power and privilege means one already has rights. It is not the responsibility of the subaltern to serve the dominant groups. When did a SCOTUS Justice announce that men are not protected under the 14th Amendment? Never. That you continue to willfully perpetuate the false equivalency between gender-based oppression of women and men shows precisely where you stand ideologically. There is one group that makes that argument and anyone who has browsed their websites knows who they are.
July 20, 2014

Capitalism and individual rights go hand in hand

(Cont. of my first post to you)
The very notion of rights as resting in the individual is a development of the classical 18th century liberalism that was the political justification of and corollary to capitalism.

Misunderstanding about the Founding Fathers attacking corporations, I believe, comes from confusion over historical context and vocabulary of the era. I provide an example from a leading history of Brazil, now retired from Yale, Emilia Viotti da Costa. She is writing about the ideas underlying Brazilian independence, which shared the same influences as those that gave rise to independence in the American English colonies.

In Europe, liberalism was originally a bourgeois ideology, intimately related to the development of capitalism and the crisis of the seigneurial [feudal] world. Liberal notions were born out of the struggles of the bourgeoisie against the abuses of royal authority, the privileges of the clergy and the nobility, the monopolies that inhibited production, and traditional obstacles to free circulation, free trade, and free labor. In their struggle against absolutism, liberals defended the theory of social contract, stressed the sovereignty of the people and the supremacy of the law, fought for the division of powers and for representative forms of government. To destroy corporate privilege, they made freedom, equality before the law, and the right to property universal rights of men. And to the traditional regulations that inhibited production and trade they opposed free trade and free labor. Although rooted in an expanding capitalist economy and in the experience of the bourgeoisie, the liberal message was universal enough to appeal to other social groups that, for one reason or another, felt oppressed by institutions of the 'ancien regime' The Brazilian Empire: Myths and Histories

People see opposition to "corporate privilege" and they think of modern-day multinational corporations. Corporate in that era in fact meant the power of groups, like the Church or royal monopolies. The word first came into use in the 16th century, according to Merriam Webster's Dictionary:

Latin corporatus, past participle of corporare to make into a body, from corpor-, corpus
First Known Use: 1512

At that time, nor in the late 18th century, did there exist entities similar to GE or Citgroup. The corporation as we understand it today, as an organ of big capitalist interests, did not exist in that era. The above reference to challenges to corporate privilege refers to exclusive rights wielded by the Church , the Crown, and royal monopolies under mercantilism, not capitalist business corporations as we understand the term today.

Classical liberalism emerged in opposition to mercantilism, economies in which the Crown controlled and benefited from commerce, and granted exclusive licenses to certain businesses (be they slave traders, tobacco monopolies, or other commercial entities) that were allowed to trade with their approval. Any commerce that existed outside of that was illegal, hence piracy. Liberals like Adam Smith championed free trade as a more efficient than mercantilism and free-wage labor as more efficient than slavery. These were fundamental tenets to capitalism, and were at the foundation of the American Republic, hence the Constiution's emphasis on individual rights.

Like you, Smith believed capitalism was natural and would take care of itself (the invisible hand). It's superiority as an economic system was seen as so inevitable, simply removing restrictions would allow free trade, and hence--they believed--liberty, to prevail. (Sounds a bit like George W Bush and the neo-cons, doesn't it? There is a reason that the term neo-liberalism is used to describe privatization).

The US Republic was established according to the liberal ideas of men like Smith and John Locke. Our constitution bears their influence and as such is a quintessential capitalist document. The founding of the US is inseparable from the development of capitalism itself, and its political structures are meant to promote the "free" development of capital and liberty, which are seen as synonymous.

Now, if one does not believe that capital and liberty are synonymous or that capital takes care of itself but is instead carefully nurtured by the state, as I do, then one approach is to examine the structures and consequences of the capitalist state. http://bobjessop.org/2013/11/04/the-capitalist-state-marxist-theories-and-methods/

It is not the only approach, and I do not suggest it as absolute truth, but it is historically grounded . It most certainly is NOT libertarianism. It is how I interpret history, and I cannot present a bourgeois interpretation rooted in American mythology as fact. I must leave that to others who buy into those ideas, of which there are many.

July 20, 2014

My point is that is the function of the state under capitalism

Not how I wish it would be, but how it is structured so as to promote capital, meaning the interests of the wealthy. That below you referred to me as libertarian is pretty shocking. You clearly badly misinterpret a critique of capitalism for an endorsement. I have no idea how that is even possible.

Show me any evidence, any at all, that shows that government was created as a countermeasure to wealth? Where? In the USA? Our Founding Fathers were the wealthiest men. https://www.nyu.edu/projects/ollman/docs/us_constitution.php
They were slaveholders and landed elite from Northern colonies. They built the structures of government to serve their own interests, and struggled most with balancing the interests of the slaveholding elite with the non-slaveholding elite. If you ever took a US history survey in college, you learned about the conflicts between "big and small states" in the Philadelphia convention. Big states meant states with large free populations and small states mean, by and large, slave states. It was fundamentally a conflict over how to balance power between the economic elite, those whose wealth depended on slavery vs. free labor, of the Republic.

The Founding Fathers believed property was a natural right. With that belief in property comes the view that one can exploit labor. In fact, laborers were excluded from the body politic precisely because they did not own property.

What in the Constitution prohibits inherited wealth? What seeks to distance government from wealthy interests? They were one and the same. The corporation as such was not a term used much in the pre-industrial era. The nation was founded during a period when agricultural interests predominated. As the economy has changed over the centuries, so has the economic elite. What was once landowners or the Slave Power later became industrialists and now the term here for corporations, corporatists, or the 1%.

There are some key differences today in that the economic elite is no longer bound by the nation state. Capital is now multi-national, more amorphous and impersonal, as is the trajectory of capitalist development.

I had originally planned to hunt down a series of sources to support my argument, but having seen your comment that you decided I was a libertarian, I figure doing so is pointless. I will instead point simply to a historiographical/literature review of various Marxist approaches to the capitalist state. http://bobjessop.org/2013/11/04/the-capitalist-state-marxist-theories-and-methods/

I get you buy the mythology of the American nation fed to you in grade school, so much so that you have no idea that it's entire purpose is to promote capitalism, but don't use that to try to pretend I am of all things a libertarian. If you are going to insult me, at least be educated about it.

July 20, 2014

You buy into the national mythology

that seeks to justify capitalism. I do not. That is a function of my exposure to Marxist historical analysis as well as my own experience growing up poor and female in America.

If one accepts capitalism as the inevitable or best economic system, that of course you will revere the US system of government and its constitution. But to then rail about corporatism is nonsensical. The US political system promotes a political ideology that elevates capital--which is the point of an emphasis on the individual--above the common good. The founders considered property to be a natural right--property in the hands of the few, and the ability of the property holder to exploit laborers in benefit of his property was seen as inherently natural. The focus on the individual ensured that relationship would be inviolate.

It is of course your right to buy into that mythology and even favor it above other forms of government and economic systems, but please don't pretend that has ever been about serving anyone but people of means. To then argue, as others have. that there is something inconsistent between that ideology and promoting the interests of corporations is absurd. That document you site so reverently protected the interest of slaveholders and Northern landowners and manufacturers. The nature of that economic elite has changed, but the function of the state has not. The founders sought to distance government from the people and established political rights only to propertied men.

I can understand if one comes from a privileged background, it is possible to buy into that ideology. No American government has ever represented me or anyone like me. It may indeed have represented you, but I am not a white man of means. Most Americans have never been represented. We have been excluded from the outset, and that continues until the present time. You may indeed be among those the government serves or did serve at one point, so obviously I can't speak to your own experience.

I did, however, see a poll and it helped me realize that we have a lot of people on this site whose incomes are far in excess of the national average, so as the economy has deteriorated I expect there is some angst that they find themselves starting to be treated as though they were like the rest of us. I think perhaps that is what explains why people have suddenly started to complain about the relationship between the government and what they call corporatists. They somehow think it unique to Obama when in fact is intrinsic to capitalism itself.

July 19, 2014

I see

Well, hopefully you learned that campaign slogans are not reality. Was there anything specific he said that prompted you to believe this? He always struck me as quite moderate in his rhetoric. He did promise changes to the tax code, and has tried but of course he proved himself to be inexperienced negotiating with Republicans.

I can understand feeling disappointed. I would suggest, however, that the corrective to that is not to look for another presidential candidate who tells you what you want to hear, but to focus on how we can bring about change. if you are talking about modest reforms of the sort a congress and President would actually enact, then the key is not the presidency but congress. That power is allocated largely during midterm elections like the cycle we are currently in. That is also when state legislatures, which control redistricting, tend to be determined and when the fewest Democrats turn out to vote. And endless focus on fantasy presidential elections doesn't help that situation. Elizabeth Warren isn't going to create a Democratic majority in your state or give you Democratic House and Senate members who can actually vote for the kind of legislation you might like to see enacted.

If you are thinking of anything other than whittling away at the margins, it's important to understand that no government bestows changes that benefit the people as gifts. They do so only when compelled by sustained popular pressure. That was the case during the New Deal, a period many here long for. Only they imagine FDR granted govt programs out of the goodness of his heart. He did not. There was unprecedented popular protest in that era and an active Communist Party. He still acted in the interests of big money, but the nature of popular pressure was such that shoring up capitalism required more substantial change.

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