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Neo liberal capitalistic societies tend to promote narratives that reinforce their preferred system of rules and expectations.  Examining counter examples and counter-narratives is a necessary task of those who not only want to change society, but also for those who wish to improve the societal conditions in which they exist.  The assumption in question is the animal dominance idea.  It goes like this:

   “Mammals tend to have “alpha” animals – leaders.  Doesn’t this prove that monarchies are more biologically normal that self-sacrificing or consensus-based or egalitarian democracies? [..] It turns that dominace-based political and economic systems are the exception, not the rule, in the arc of human history, and they have a nasty habit of imploding every century or so, so as a succession of European, African, South American, and Asian empires show.”

  […]

  “The prevailing assumption has always been that because there are identifiable “alpha” members of animal groups – from alpha males amount gorillas to alpha females among wolves – these alpha members must also exercise despotic rules over the other in the tribe, pack, or community”

  […]

“Conradt and Roper discovered that democracy always trumps despotism, both over the short and the long term.  When a single leader(despot) or small group of leaders (oligarchy) make the choices, the swings into extreme behaviour tend to be greater and more dangerous to the long term survival of the group.  Because in a despotic model the overall needs of the entire group are measured only by the leader’s needs, wrong decisions would be made often enough to put the survival of the group at risk.”

“With democratic decision making, however, the overall knowledge and wisdom of the entire group, along with the needs of the entire group, come into play.  The outcome is likely to harm anybody, and the group’s probability of survival is enhanced. ‘Democratic decisions are more beneficial primarily because they tend to produce less extreme decisions,’ they note in the abstract to their paper. 

-Hartmann, Thom. Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture pp. 118 – 120

   So, these biologists (see L. Conradt and T. J. Roper’s original article here) putting forward a set of assumptions that contradict the neoliberal “despotism is the way” set of ideas about how animals organize and work (and how it ‘naturally’ occurs in human affairs as well).  The democratic impulse, at least according to this paper, is alive and moderately pervasive in the mammalian kingdoms (for a quick summary check out James Randerson in the New Scientist).

I’m quite happy with these results.  But that is not to say that they are necessarily the correct interpretation of all the facts of the matter.  Our species tendency to pick the fact and narratives that support our own preferences is the bigger lesson to be aware of.  I urge my readership to look into both accounts and judge the facts for what they say, not what we wish to them to say.

However, if we continue with democratic animal narrative we can reasonably say something along the lines of what Thom Hartmann says in the closing paragraph of that chapter.

   “Those who advocate a dog-eat-dog, “survival of the fittest at the expense of society as a whole” approach to economics and governance are advocating, essentially, for cancer in our body politic.  They are ignoring the surrounding environment [see corporate ‘externalities’], which demands a balanced, homeostatic, and altruistic culture.  On every continent in the world we find living cultures and cultural remnants that knew this well and that developed elaborate and successful ways to prevent sociopathic individuals whose obsession centred on acquiring wealth at the expense of others, keeping others from being successful at growing and metastasizing.”

-Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture p.125

  I think that there is a fair chunk of evidence that we have let the anti-democratic factions exercise too much control and power in our society.  The ruthless exploitation of people and the environment in the name of progress under capitalism reveals a tendency toward the despotic cancerous nature that has typified much of capitalistic theory and practice as of late.  We need to be able to explore and understand different methods of organizing our societies and perhaps swinging the pendulum more toward a society that is more altruistic and more democratic in nature.

 

The status quo is a nasty piece of work.  It has a multiplicity of tools and avenues of attack and repression available to keep the current equilibrium and quell dissenting voices that threaten the norm.  Tolerance, is considered to be a ‘good’ liberal value.  Yet, in context of female struggle in society it is used to keep discipline female thought and action.  Meghan Murphy examines the role ‘tolerance’ plays in the patriarchal suppression of female activity.

 

“The word, “toleration” is derived from the Latin tolerare, meaning “to endure, sustain, suffer” and, quite literally, “to bear.” In patriarchy, women have been groomed into a perpetual state of tolerance. The toleration of male customs, cultures, behaviour, and sexuality has historically been enforced onto women by the laws of male gods, male states, and male family members. From the “witch craze,” where hundreds of thousands of women were publicly tortured and killed for refusing to defer to the authority of the Church, to the often brutal forms of anti-lesbianism directed towards women who choose to have sexual relationships with women rather than with men, persecution is seemingly inevitable for the women who refuse to be tolerant of male rule. Today, tolerance training starts early — young girls are taught to endure the boys who humiliate them in the playground, to turn their gaze away from the online pornography, to close their ears to the misogyny they hear all around them.

Raymond describes tolerance as a passive position. It creates non-action, apathy, and a repressed sensitivity to the injustices done by men to women. In other words, conditioning women and girls to be “tolerant” is not unintentional.

It is not completely surprising, therefore, that women — particularly young women — are reluctant to form their own sense of right and wrong; of discerning what values can be considered feminist and what can not; and of articulating what needs to change, if women are ever to be free from male domination.

This tyranny of tolerance is most evident in what is today referred as “intersectional feminism,” and dominates in many a Western university. Misuse of Crenshaw’s original theory means that this brand of “feminism” more closely reflects a certain type of liberal individualism, which adheres to male dogma under the guise of progressivity and social justice. It is not coincidental that the choices this ideology frames as “feminist” represent, down to the very last stroke of mascara, the tools used by men to colonize women.

Prostitution, now aptly named “sex work” by many student activists and academics, is defiantly presented in this framework as the result of a woman’s personal, empowered choice, despite the reality that most women in prostitution are there through lack of choice. The multi-billion dollar pornography industry records and distributes sadistic acts of misogyny, as well as pedophilia, homophobia, and racism, to millions of men and boys across the world — and yet using the guise of “sex-positivity,” these showreels of abuse are marketed as “feminist” by some, while women who criticize the industry are branded “anti-sex” or “whorephobic.”

It is clear that in order to be accepted into the new feminist gang, one must be tolerant of all systems in which women can (hypothetically) exhibit choice, regardless of the system’s intended purpose. The promotion in some contemporary feminist circles of what Raymond describes as “value freedom” — or as Hein puts it, “doing your own thing” — makes it near impossible to define a set of collective values or assert shared goals due to the desire to appear sensitive to and “respectful” of the opinions of every woman in the group. Maintaining respect towards other women is, of course, important, yet surely this should not come at the cost of being entirely unable to express disagreement about a particular point of view or political stance. Moreover, while it may be relatively easy to oppose values which are obviously patriarchal, the difficulty lies in speaking out against those which are more covert.

Under the popular understanding of “intersectional feminism,” women are told that they have sinned by having “cisgender” privilege, which positions being born female and continuing to call oneself a woman as a privileged position to be in. Crucially, females who hold “cisgender privilege” are said to have the ability to oppress males, if those males have decided that they would prefer not to be identified as such.

The idolized image of the “trans inclusive” feminist in Western identity politics has become a marker for whether a woman is truly apologetic for her female body — apologetic enough to render it meaningless and, in spite of its historical exploitation, objectification, and domination by men, come to view it as a sign of privilege instead. To be a tolerant feminist today is to publicly and endlessly repent for one’s supposed sins — the greatest sin of all being, according to some, in possession of a female body.”

It is the corrosive neo-liberal ideology at work – promoting individual choices as the only (obeisant) method of empowerment – while systematically neutering group cohesion and solidarity, the later being the actual threat to status-quo.

A good test to see the difference between the neo liberal standard and effective feminism is to watch and see if males use the action or act in question to get ahead in society.  For instance, take pole dancing.  Speaking to liberal feminists one can get the impression that pole dancing is just an amazing route to gaining self confidence and empowerment in society.  Apply the test though – do men pole dance to get ahead in society? – the answer is, obviously, no.  Therefore the activity in question, may indeed be a good experience on the personal level, but societally speaking, is not threatening to the status quo.  A very important distinction if your goal happens to be changing society for the better.

 

 

  It must be recognized that economic Class, if we are to move against the corporatism that dominates our political landscape, must be acknowledged as a factor to bring a critical mass of people together to demand change.   The fragmentation of class interest has played a significant role in the rise of corporate power and the neo-liberal ideology that supports it.

This excerpt by Michael Hudson writing on Counterpunch:

 

“A new term was introduced to the English language: Identity Politics. Its aim is for voters to think of themselves as separatist minorities – women, LGBTQ, Blacks and Hispanics. The Democrats thought they could beat Trump by organizing Women for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), LGBTQ for Wall Street (and a New Cold War), and Blacks and Hispanics for Wall Street (and a New Cold War). Each identity cohort was headed by a billionaire or hedge fund donor.

The identity that is conspicuously excluded is the working class. Identity politics strips away thinking of one’s interest in terms of having to work for a living. It excludes voter protests against having their monthly paycheck stripped to pay more for health insurance, housing and mortgage charges or education, or better working conditions or consumer protection – not to speak of protecting debtors.

Identity politics used to be about three major categories: workers and unionization, anti-war protests and civil rights marches against racist Jim Crow laws. These were the three objectives of the many nationwide demonstrations. That ended when these movements got co-opted into the Democratic Party. Their reappearance in Bernie Sanders’ campaign in fact threatens to tear the Democratic coalition apart. As soon as the primaries were over (duly stacked against Sanders), his followers were made to feel unwelcome. Hillary sought Republican support by denouncing Sanders as being as radical as Putin’s Republican leadership.

In contrast to Sanders’ attempt to convince diverse groups that they had a common denominator in needing jobs with decent pay – and, to achieve that, in opposing Wall Street’s replacing the government as central planner – the Democrats depict every identity constituency as being victimized by every other, setting themselves at each other’s heels. Clinton strategist John Podesta, for instance, encouraged Blacks to accuse Sanders supporters of distracting attention from racism. Pushing a common economic interest between whites, Blacks, Hispanics and LGBTQ always has been the neoliberals’ nightmare. No wonder they tried so hard to stop Bernie Sanders, and are maneuvering to keep his supporters from gaining influence in their party.

When Trump was inaugurated on Friday, January 20, there was no pro-jobs or anti-war demonstration. That presumably would have attracted pro-Trump supporters in an ecumenical show of force. Instead, the Women’s March on Saturday led even the pro-Democrat New York Times to write a front-page article reporting that white women were complaining that they did not feel welcome in the demonstration. The message to anti-war advocates, students and Bernie supporters was that their economic cause was a distraction.

The march was typically Democratic in that its ideology did not threaten the Donor Class. As Yves Smith wrote on Naked Capitalism: “the track record of non-issue-oriented marches, no matter how large scale, is poor, and the status of this march as officially sanctioned (blanket media coverage when other marches of hundreds of thousands of people have been minimized, police not tricked out in their usual riot gear) also indicates that the officialdom does not see it as a threat to the status quo.”[1]

 

Ms. Hungerford clearly has no time for all the silliness po-mo brings to the table.

“Post-modern neoliberalism seeks to dismiss the experience of womanhood by claiming that anyone can choose to be a woman. And, in any case, it claims that we are too diverse to be generalized about. An interesting position to take: the class “women” has no defining characteristic, and yet transwomen know exactly what being a “woman” feels like.

The maxim “trans women are women” means at least three things: first, it means that being raised as girl from birth is not an important or relevant aspect of being a “woman” because one can be a woman without it.

Secondly, it means that having a female body is not an important or relevant aspect of being a “woman” because one can be a woman without it.

And third, it means that to be a “woman” reflects an individual’s desired relation to the social construct “woman,” rather than a description of the physical and/or cumulative experiential realities of female-born (and certain intersex) people as described above.”

-Hungerford, E. 2013,

Canadians finally have decided that being in the vanguard of international Neo-liberal community isn’t so shit hot after all.  The whole free markety/trickle-downy charade was looking dilapidated and tired; the fear-stick had been applied to the public, with such magnitude and frequency, that suddenly Conservative ideology seemed retrograde even quaint.  How engaging are the grand policy strategies of “GWB-lite” after ten years of living the Conservative dream?

We should give the Harper government full marks for stretching those ideological skid-marks of neo-liberal ideology out as far as (they) he did.   The hard sell on Neo-liberalism had to go, and off it went, with Canadians giving the Liberal party of Canada a firm mandate and majority to… well…  not be the Conservatives.

This is what worries me the most.  Like the two business class parties in the US, the federal PC’s and Liberals in Canada both offer oligarchy approved governance styles.  The main difference is that the Liberals like to use lube while buggering the public trust, while the Conservatives use a handful of sand.  Our social system was savaged by the Liberal government of the 90’s under false pretenses – this same government also approved NAFTA – the free investors agreement – that has been savaging our domestic economy since its inception.  Is being sold down the river wistfully by a hand-wringing government ‘forced to make the tough decisions’ any different than one that outfits the public with lead boots and kick off the docks?

Comparing the election wins of Obama and Trudeau reveals similarities that, for progressive voters, ought to inspire some trepidation.   Hope and Change may inspire the imagination, but implementing actual societal change is *hard* and given the political realities of the situation.  I really want to believe Justin Trudeau when he says, “the old Canada we knew and loved, is back”.

When he gets us out of the Trans Pacific Partnership – the latest free investor agreement and curb stomp to the domestic economy – I might start to believe him.

I thought we had a plan.  The plan was that we were going to give the NDP a crack at the levers of power because the other two parties have both repeatedly demonstrated their commitment to Neo-liberalism and the destruction of the rights of Canadians.

polltracker   But look at the polls as of October 11th, there be the NDP in their usual third place because the segment of the population that votes has decided that more of the same is going to be frakking awesome.

It looks like the Liberals are going to get in as the minority government.  The same ones that voted for the disenfranchisement and removal of personal liberties of all Canadians; you remember that bill Law C-51?

Hey, whatever right?  Let’s see if we can do a Trudeau-mania part 2 and relive those heady days of the 70’s.  Woohaa.

 

 

imperialladderkicking  I’m almost done with Sorrows of Empire so I will stop deluging the blog with quotes, but I cannot forgo Johnson’s explanation of the mutating monster that Neo-liberalism is.  I’d like to reproduce the entire chapter because it is that good, but instead we’ll look at how insidious neo-liberalism is when it comes to being critiqued by the intelligentsia residing in centres of Western power.

   “It is critically important to understand that the doctrine of globalism is a kind of intellectual sedative that lulls and distracts its Third World victims while rich countries cripple them, ensuring that they will never be able to challenge the imperial powers.  It is also designed to persuade the new imperialists that “underdeveloped” countries bring poverty on themselves thanks to “crony capitalism”, corruption, and a failure to take advantage of the splendid opportunities being offered.  The claim that free markets lead to prosperity for anyone other than the transnational corporations that lobbied for them and have the clout and resources to manipulate them is simply not borne out by the historical record.  As even the Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a former director of research at the World Bank, has come to acknowledge, “It is now a commonplace that the international trade agreements about which the United States spoke so proudly only a few years ago were grossly unfair to countries in the Third World… The problem [with globalists is] … their fundamentalist market ideology, a faith in free, unfettered markets that is supported by neither modern theory not historical experience.

[…]

   There is no known case in which globalization has led to prosperity in any Third World country, and none of the world’s twenty-four reasonably developed capitalist nations, regardless of their ideological explanations, got where they are by following any of the prescriptions contained in globalization doctrine.  What globalization has produced, in the words of de Rivero, is not NICs (newly industrialized countries) but about 130 NNEs (nonviable national economies) or, even worse, UCEs (ungovernable chaotic entities).  There is occasional evidence that this result is precisely what the authors of globalization intended.

   In 1841, the prominent German political economist Friedrich List (who had immigrated to America) wrote in his masterpiece, The National System of Political Economy, “It is a very common clever device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up, in order to deprive others of the means of combing up after him.”  Much of modern Anglo-American economics and all of the theory of globalization are attempts to disguise this kicking away of the ladder. 

 

-Chalmers Johnson, Sorrows of Empire. p.262.

So really, colonialism by any other name…  I’m so glad we’ve progressed so far.

We have truly breached new moral ground, made the world a safer place (for oligarchic capitalism), and ensured the continued well being of right class of people.

 

For more on ‘ladder kicking’ see Cambridge’s Ha-Joon Chang and his post on this very topic.

 

 

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