Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Lost Men

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  • Sacha, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    fixed by doubling the underscores, as Steven suggested

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19565 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Thanks for the technical advice. I've just been reading Fukuyama's chapter 11, in which his account of the historical evolution of identity politics is converging on the present. I'll quote parts that link historic socioeconomic trends to the rise of Trump via resurgent nationalism (since the white male suiciders are just the tip of his iceberg).

    "The left continued to be defined by its passion for equality, but that agenda shifted from its earlier emphasis on the conditions of the working class to the often psychological demands of an ever-widening circle of marginalized groups. Many activists came to see the old working class and their trade unions as a privileged stratum with little sympathy for the plight of groups such as immigrants or racial minorities worse off than they were. Recognition struggles targeted newer groups and their rights as groups, rather than the economic inequality of individuals. In the process, the old working class was left behind."

    "The shifting agenda by the progressive left in the United States and Europe had both advantages and drawbacks. The embrace of identity politics was both understandable and necessary. The lived experiences of identity groups are different from one another and often need to be addressed in ways specific to those groups. Outsiders to those groups often fail to perceive the harm they are doing by their actions... Identity politics aims at changing culture and behaviour in ways that will have real benefits for the people involved."

    "By turning the spotlight on narrower experiences of injustice, identity politics has brought about welcome changes in concrete public policies that have benefited the groups in question, as well as in cultural norms." "So there is nothing wrong with identity politics as such; it is a natural and inevitable response to injustice. It becomes problematic only when identity is interpreted or asserted in certain specific ways. Identity politics for some progressives has become a cheap substitute for serious thinking about how to reverse the thirty-year trend in most liberal democracies toward greater socioeconomic inequality."

    "A significant part of the white American working class has been dragged into an underclass, comparable to the experience of African-Americans during the 1970s and '80s." "Trump was the perfect practitioner of the ethics of authenticity that defines our age: he may be mendacious, malicious, bigoted, and unpresidential, but at least he says what he thinks. By taking on political correctness so frontally, Trump has played a critical role in moving the focus of identity politics from the left, where it was born, to the right, where it is now taking root."

    "Identity politics on the left tended to legitimate only certain identities while ignoring or denigrating others, such as European (ie white) ethnicity, Christian religiosity, rural residence, belief in family values, and related categories. Many of Donald Trump's working-class supporters feel they have been disregarded by the national elites."

    "Rural people, who are the backbone of populist movements not just in the United States but in Britain, Hungary, Poland, and other countries, often believe that their traditional values are under severe threat by cosmopolitan, city-based, elites. They feel victimized by a secular culture that is careful not to criticize Islam or Judaism, yet regards their own Christianity as a mark of bigotry."

    "Since his rise, white nationalism has moved from a fringe movement to something much more mainstream in American politics. Its proponents argue that it has been politically acceptable to talk about Black Lives Matter or gay rights or Latino voters as groups that legitimately organize around a specific identity. But if one even uses the adjective white as self-identification or, worse yet, organizes politically around the theme of "white rights", one is immediately identified, the white nationalists note, as a racist and a bigot."

    We saw that here recently, as those labels were applied to a couple of visiting Canadian advocates, without any validating evidence. Some pc-drones even tried to deny Don Brash his right of free speech. The moral of such stories is that politics gets more toxic when disrespect is used as a tactic - particularly when exclusion is applied - and the level playing field is tilted in favour of some groups, to discriminate against others. Democracy becomes a sham when fairness is eliminated.

    I'm not suggesting leftists are hypocrites - just that they tend to be oblivious to the polarising consequence of their tacit group-think. Wising up to that becomes increasingly essential, to preserve goodwill, when we see extreme escalation of the trend in countries overseas!

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 256 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Walter Nicholls,

    noting the correspondence between 'arguing' and 'argument' I thought that might be what you were getting at, can't be too sure these days and I'm pleased linger helped clarify my point at least, thanks for replying Walter and yes:

    good luck finding a way of expressing that argument without sounding bigoted.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2254 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to steven crawford,

    It's all good steven, it's a comparison that comes up from time to time, thank you for your reply and open-mindedness and care.

    The most thorough existing research finds intersex people to constitute an estimated 1.7% of the population*, which makes being intersex about as common as having red hair (1%-2%).

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2254 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    I’ve appreciated your contributions to this discussion up to and including most of that post Dennis, but this excerpt struck me as somewhat self-contradictory:

    Some pc-drones even tried to deny Don Brash his right of free speech. The moral of such stories is that politics gets more toxic when disrespect is used as a tactic

    With regard to:

    as those labels were applied to a couple of visiting Canadian advocates

    Well shall we watch Stefen Molyneux claim Apartheid wasn’t racism? What kind of 'validating evidence' would tip the scales for you?

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2254 posts Report Reply

  • tussock,

    Dennis, if anyone's calling white nationalists "bigots", maybe it's because ... white nationalists are objectively bigots?

    That's not pejorative. White nationalism is bigoted from the first principle to the last, and entirely based on racist garbage thought about how white skinned people took over the world because God loves them and wanted them to rule over non-whites forever. It was bad for the US, it was bad for Australia, it was bad for NZ, it is still bad for everyone who tries it. Racism hurts racists too, bigotry is worth fighting against, and those guys are all bigots.

    Black nationalism is about strategies to gain equal rights (in that white people won't do it for you), white nationalism is about strategies to prevent that (because lots of white people, it turns out, will also try and stop you). If Fukuyama doesn't understand that, he might not be useful to read on this subject.

    Since Nov 2006 • 602 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to mark taslov,

    The problem has emerged due to inaccuracy of language usage. The original meaning of racism is belief that one race is superior to the others. Back in the colonial era it was conventional to believe the white race was superior. I never saw any evidence that any of the three expressed that view during their controversies.

    I'm aware that younger generations in recent decades have tended to view and call anything they don't like racist, so as to devalue it as a technical term. A symptom of collective brain death? Not entirely; seems reasonable to view some people as having tacit racism. Particularly politicians. As per Polanyi's identification of how tacit beliefs motivate behaviour, folks can easily be indoctrinated with a bias when young and carry it along in their subconscious through life, and yet be horrified if ever made aware of it.

    So reality for culture & politics is nuanced. I get why folks polarise so easily and see racism even where it isn't, but Fukuyama is explaining how both become toxic when identity politics prevents interaction on the basis of common humanity and goodwill. The extremist trend has gone too far and must be rolled back!

    As regards your clip of the Canadian rationalising apartheid, I'd just comment that I always saw it as racist. My first demo in 1970 was a march against apartheid in Auckland led by Trevor Richardson on behalf of Halt All Racist Tours. He seems to be explaining a separate development rationale. If the govt of SA did actually use such a frame, fair enough. I was the only Green Party member who stood up and supported Matt Rata's launch of a separate justice system for Maori at an Alliance meeting in the early '90s. Separate development seemed a valid rationale there too.

    I still see that SA govt as mostly racist, and their voter base likewise. However reality isn't black & white and a third political group that believe in equal rights for all races while being pragmatic enough to use separate development as a transitional stage ought not to be ignored or discounted. Media bias in favour of the old black & white polarisation routinely excludes third alternatives (or any shade of grey).

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 256 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to tussock,

    I'm aware of the origin of racism as a belief system (been reading history since the mid-fifties and watching current affairs since the mid-sixties). Fukuyama is elucidating how identity politics has evolved since the 19th century - nobody else has done this since it emerged as a political category in recent decades - and his analysis is comprehensive, lucid, and compelling. I regard his book as essential reading for anyone who blogs or comments online.

    So the conclusion you are inclined towards in inadvisable. He's going way deeper & more broadly than anyone else has. For a political scientist to break new ground is always a radical move - they normally just comment on superficialities.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 256 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    those labels were applied to a couple of visiting Canadian advocates, without any validating evidence.

    Except everything they had said before online.

    deny Don Brash his right of free speech

    There is no unfettered right to speech, especially under the NZ legal and political system rather than the US one.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19565 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford, in reply to Sacha,

    There is no unfettered right to speech, especially under the NZ legal and political system rather than the US one.

    I'm glad you said that. And in the US, you could end up dead in a ditch for saying the wrong thing.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4043 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    Had to check those stats Russell and came up with interesting and saddening theories. Indigenous Americans are more highly represented in suicide rates of 23 per 100,000 compared to white men (how is white defined in a country of immigrants from all over the world?) at 18 per 100,000. Black American suicide rates of 6 per 100,000 thousand seem light until digging down into ideas of misclassification, behaviours created by poverty and predjudice and cultural conditioning causing extreme risk and violent behaviour resulting in death.

    Since Mar 2010 • 370 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Must read the comments ... :) But this hit me hard
    “This is a tough country to live in,” he tells her. “If you’re not a competitive person, and I’m not, it’s not easy. Americans like a winner. They don’t like people who aren’t winners. All our lives, we’re given this false notion of American superiority, that we’re supposed to be superhuman.”
    NZ is also moving the wrong way with suicide. and we've adopted this mantra - essentially since Rogernomics, but it's moved to totally occupy the subconcious/deepvalues/mindset of the nation.
    If you fail, it's your fault. Success is good. Mediocre is BAD. In effect, it's telling us that only a few people have any right to feel good about their lives.
    It's a blight.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2083 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    There is no unfettered right to speech, especially under the NZ legal and political system rather than the US one.

    Not even under the US one. Freedom of speech, as defined in the US Bill of Rights is all about the government not having the power to prevent you speaking, not that you can say anything you want, anywhere you want, without hindrance.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    NZ is also moving the wrong way with suicide. and we've adopted this mantra - essentially since Rogernomics, but it's moved to totally occupy the subconcious/deepvalues/mindset of the nation.

    It's always been this way in NZ. Mental illness was something that you hid away, in asylums or in cottages out the back of the farm. The whole "man alone" bullshit was about striving and winning against the environment, other people, the Wellington rulemakers etc. Nothing's changed except that we closed the asylums and put people on the street where they can be seen. But mental illness is still something people think they need to be ashamed of.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Sacha,

    We have all encountered research about the gendered distribution of violence. ‘Vengeful’ or ‘obsessive’ behaviour I would like to see some evidence for.

    There’s research availabile online and almost daily evidence of male violence motivated by revenge. But if you have a different view I’d be happy to engage.

    Since Nov 2016 • 263 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to nzlemming,

    It’s always been this way in NZ. Mental illness was something that you hid away, in asylums or in cottages out the back of the farm. The whole “man alone” bullshit was about striving and winning against the environment, other people, the Wellington rulemakers etc. Nothing’s changed except that we closed the asylums and put people on the street where they can be seen.

    Truth in that - but still, things have changed. I grew up with a strong sense of a govt 'safety net' - and no sense that only winners mattered and failure was a crushing personal responsibility. I don't think today's teenagers feel the same way.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2083 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Hi Dennis, I hope my hesitancy in replying isn’t taken as anything but indicative of exactly how objectionable I find your position on this.

    The problem has emerged due to inaccuracy of language usage. The original meaning of racism is belief that one race is superior to the others.

    Excluding words which have undergone semantic shift basically obliviates the entire language.

    Back in the colonial era it was conventional to believe the white race was superior.

    Presuming we are now sufficiently decolonised, ignoring what’s right in front of our beaks:

    Brash said that in 1840 Maori were “a stone-age people”.

    Having linked to a couple of remarkable essays on the topic by Moana Jackson and Leonie Pihama last time we clashed on this topic which you appear to have disregarded entirely, I’m not sure where to even begin:

    I’m aware that younger generations in recent decades have tended to view and call anything they don’t like racist, so as to devalue it as a technical term. A symptom of collective brain death?

    Beyond being an abhorantly dismissive statement, what I’m hearing is that you feel that indigenous people and POC’s perceptions of racism are inferior/less valid than your own. This form of white supremacy is familiar – akin to those cis women of influence sneaking around behind the scenes on the twittersphere DMing trans women to splain what transphobia is/who is transphobic/who may or may not be criticised etc. Which we call trans-misogyny and which you again may refer to as ‘Collective brain death’.

    In this case we’re not talking about a fringe perception, the current Justice Minister has called this

    It was last year derided by Labour leader Andrew Little as racist. “This only works as an idea if you’re prepared to overlook the first 100 years of New Zealand’s history, ignore the fact that there were land confiscations, that there were unlawful detentions of Māori people, that there was discrimination and racism against Māori people in the early part of our history."

    Your derision of the perspectives of ethnic minorities with regard to racism reminds me of this.

    fascism is a revolt BY THE RULING CLASS. It’s not a revolt against the status quo so much as a violent reassertion of the status quo.

    In that regardless of how you might consider yourself to be and talk yourself up as a “radical” on this issue, your opinion and hegemonic dismissal of the perspectives of tangata whenua is fairly stock standard conservative position.

    One takeaway I have is that you see this as an issue of individualism – something to add to the CV:

    I was the only Green Party member who stood up…

    My first demo in 1970 was a march against apartheid in Auckland led by Trevor Richardson

    ignoring the fact that at the time there were probably similarly conservatively drifting centrist liberals claiming "that’s not what racism meant in my day," you seem to insulate yourself with the notion that your work is done, that you stood up to racism, in 1970 or in 1990 and that as such you’ve now earned the right to disagree with and disregard ethnic minorities when they speak of racism, because their definition no longers fits in *your dictionary*. So you feel you no longer need to listen. Which entirely ignores the fact that these are wars – and in wars the lines shift – and you’re now on that side. You’re now the white moderate MLK identified as the biggest threat in writing from Birmingham Jail (thanks KR!):

    I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;"

    Or as you put it:

    The extremist trend has gone too far and must be rolled back!

    Which does in a way tie in with the highly problematic suicide causality implied by Mayor John Engen in the video Russell posted:

    "If my boss is a woman what does that mean for me, if my boss is a Muslim woman what does that mean for me?"

    Both in their way representative of this oft repeated maxim:

    “When you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

    That’s just my impression of where you’re coming from. People of pedigree and privilege doing what they can to maintain the hierarchical structures from which they benefit.

    For me it’s impossible to ignore the timing – to overlook that these are – as Russell suggested back in early 2017 – “interesting times” – today no less so. As the GOP’s leadership is put to referendum, as you defend the integrity of those campaigning to remove Māori seats.

    At a time when the air is awash with the dog whistles of bigots, when the rational man genre is enjoying a resurgence in popularity

    “The move to MMP has coincided with the growth of identity politics, which has a tendency to formalise and reify the fracture lines of identity groups as the basis for political action, rather than to break down group barriers, emphasise a common humanity and seek shared ground.”

    when wise men like these talk of identity politics being a threat to democracy, it’s not the gays or the disabled or women for whom the whistle pips.

    Even Fukuyama isn’t sufficiently beholden to his neoconservatism to entirely misrepresent the nuance of the current situation.

    “Trump instinctively picks these racial themes in order to drive people on the left crazy and they get more and more extreme in their response. I think he sees an opportunity to divide people and make the Democrats less united as a competitor.”

    But anyway, for those who can see through Brash, and who wish to guarantee Māori voice in parliament, submissions are now open.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2254 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil,

    The research I am aware of (not a specialist topic of interest) finds no gendered difference in motivations of revenge or obsessiveness. However, I do not need anything further from you on the topic.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19565 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Truth in that - but still, things have changed. I grew up with a strong sense of a govt 'safety net' - and no sense that only winners mattered and failure was a crushing personal responsibility. I don't think today's teenagers feel the same way.

    The safety net has definitely been whisked away.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2909 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Sacha,

    Men appear to get greater satisfaction than women from witnessing painful retribution, according to a brain scanner study published today.

    Not sure why you keep going for snark. It seems like an important element of men’s behaviour especially in this age of Trump.

    Since Nov 2016 • 263 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Neil,

    That link didn’t work for me but here’s another summary, here’s the study (cohort of 32), and here’s a recent article about the research leader Tania Singer:

    But inside her lab, it was a very different story, eight former and current colleagues say in interviews with Science. The researchers, all but one of whom insisted on remaining anonymous because they feared for their careers, describe a group gripped by fear of their boss. “Whenever anyone had a meeting with her there was at least an even chance they would come out in tears,” one colleague says.

    Singer, one of the most high-profile female researchers in the Max Planck Society (MPG), sometimes made harsh comments to women who became pregnant, multiple lab members told Science. “People were terrified. They were really, really afraid of telling her about their pregnancies,” one former colleague says. “For her, having a baby was basically you being irresponsible and letting down the team,” says another, who became a mother while working in Singer’s department.

    The conclusion of that Guardian write up:

    "They consistently rated the fair player as being more agreeable, more likable and even more attractive than the unfair actor," said Dr Singer. But she added that other studies would need to be done as the tests may have been slanted towards men for presenting a physical rather than, say, psychological, punishment.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2254 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil,

    an important element of men’s behaviour

    an important element of people's behaviour.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19565 posts Report Reply

  • Neil, in reply to Sacha,

    We have Women’s Refuge not Peoples’ Refuge.

    The argument is one of variance in a population. Men being predisposed to certain behaviour doesn’t imply some women can’t act in a similar manner.

    Since Nov 2016 • 263 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Neil,

    My genuine feeling is that you showcased how out of your depth you are in discussing sex or gender are when apropos of nothing you called trans women men.


    Incidentally as Erin Pizzey who started the first women’s shelter has recounted – the reason we don’t have ‘peoples refuge or ’men’s refuge’ is because it’s not that marketable.

    Erin: Well, now just imagine, I mean, two people on my board—well three or four of them—were millionaires. Yeah, and they were very protective of women. And when you present them with the fact that men equally need protecting, they’d sew up their pockets. What I did then—I couldn’t keep the house open because none of us had any money. What I did … a very nice woman created charity shops and we called them Men’s Aid and that employed a man to go and see every single man who wanted to see us.

    Dean: I see, but you haven’t been successful in continuing that sort of thing?

    Erin: No, I managed to open the house and some men were ready to come in, but I couldn’t get a penny from anybody.

    Dean: You couldn’t get a penny from anybody—for helping men? Still can’t really?

    Erin: No you can’t.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2254 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil,

    Men being predisposed to certain behaviour

    .. is what you have not established evidence of. Gendered violence is fraught enough without misleading ourselves about aspects of it.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19565 posts Report Reply

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