They’re Not Strong, They’re not Invincible…

I finally kind of figured what’s wrong with modern ‘feminism’. I’ve often repeated that while second wave feminism was needed the third wave went off the rails into obsessing about private behavior (and a fair amount of nonsense) rather than take the next logical step after the second wave: Take on mysogyny entrenched in non-western cultures. Instead feminism retreated into self-absorbed reflection and nonsense.

And then a thing or two finally clicked in my mind. Modern feminism is no longer about affecting public policy – it’s all about do-it-yourself self-help therapy for broken and/or damaged people.

Much of the otherwise…. misguided rhetoric about “I believe her!” or “lived experience” or “microagressions” or even the dreaded “intersectionality” make sense within the context of damaged people trying to get things together and become happier.

Of course what’s useful for self-help therapy is less-than-useless for making changes in public policy. You don’t expect a goat to fly or a bird to chop down trees. But a lot of my…. exasperation with the likes of shakesville or feministing or the latest SJW silliness evaporates as soon as I understand that. The social policy slogans are part of the therapy – imagining a better world as part of the goal to heal inner hurt and chase away inner demons, but it’s secondary and sacrificed when it conflicts with the self-healing mission.

I’m beginning to wonder if most of ‘progressive’ politics hasn’t actually moved in that direction… I also imagine that other people have figured this out too (and may have written as much but I was too dense to understand).

It also means the space for groups actively trying to change public policy (effectively) is missing.

I suspect that to be effective, those who are actually interested in changing policy need a new banner because all of the old ones are no longer available.

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The Wages of (Not) Dealing with the Past

What’s going on now in Poland is not really about the court sysem. It’s probably the last death throes of a conflict that for most people ended in 1992.

For lots of reasons, communist Poland from around 1960 on was much more ‘liveable’ than any other European country (apart from maybe non-Soviet Jugoslavija), not materially (where it was better off than most of the USSR but well behind Czechoslovakia, Hungary or East Germany) but in…. intellectual and spiritual terms.

Poland had the largest and most highly developed dissident/resistance movement (with a high level of support from the rest of the society which was not necessarily the case eslewhere). It had the Roman Catholic church as a functioning (if informal) opposition party and it had signficantly less controls in certain areas of life, from ownership of foreign currency to travel within the country (and visits back home by the diaspora) or just dealing with foreigners, which was generally safe to do in Poland –  in other countries not so much.

Plus, there was only minimum lip service paid to communism as an economic or political system so most of the time people didn’t have to pretend that communism was a great idea and the close association with the USSR was wonderful. Violent repression could and did occur but was the exception rather than the rule. The regime could get very ugly but most of the time exercised some degree of restraint. It was only at it’s worst, during Martial Law the day to day political reality approached that of other communist countries.

While all this made it easier to survive during the communist period there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The downside of an easier time in communism was that afterwards it was a lot harder to figure out what to do with the former communist authorities. That is it was much harder to distinguish the real villains from those with party associations but no blood on their hands…

This was complicated by a number of facts. Many party members joined because they more or less had to in order to advance professionally (because past a certain point in the hierarchy you had to be in the party). Many to most people realized there was a difference between hardcore and apolitical party members.

Locking out the apolitical members out of public life would mean losing their skills and competence (which were badly needed) while allowing them to contribute meant that some real SOB’s would not ever be punished. It also meant that a lot of former party members would do very well in the new system while many dissidents would flounder.

The conflict was more or less solved in 1992 and the result of an ugly and undignified political struggle (topic of another post) was that those from the previous system were allowed to continue in public life. Many on the losing side were unhappy and are still symbolically fighting a conflict that ended for most people in 1992.

Jarosław Kaczyński was one of the leaders of the movement to remove all party members from public life by hook or crook while Lech Wałęsa was on the opposite side. I’m afraid as long as their generation is around and active politically (officially or not) they’ll keep fighting that battle and each other. The current struggle over the court “reform” is largely a symbolic battle between those two about who was right back then. Neither is prepared to back down or let the past be the past.

For better or worse younger people really don’t know or care about the communist period and the hardcore ideologues regarding the period are hard to find among politicians under 60 and extremely scarce under 50. Almost everyone just wants to get on things now but they can’t because of a personal grudge between two old men….

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Sexcrime Toys

Stories about the supposed future production of sex robots has got me wondering…. given the current cultural climate I wonder how long before sеx toys come under attack for anatomical appropriation. Now obviously, use of didlοs will probably be exempt from criticism. But I can easily imagine that feminists would start complaining that flæsh lights or reаl dolls or seх robots are male anatomical appropriation of women’s intimate identity without permission…



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Polish Courts pt 2.

Well that’s that. Andrzej Duda, the president got permiss has decided to veto the two controversial bills “reforming” the judicial system. Actually he’ll sign a third bill that didn’t generate much controversy and which is relatively minor and no one cares about.

I so expect Jaroslaw Kaczyński to continue in his quest to recreate the institutional system of the PRL but he’s probably badly shaken up by this (he does not deal well with open challenges to his authority or disagreement about anything) so he might go a little slower next time.

A benefit is that I’ve started writing a bunch of the background which is based on the PRL (stuff people don’t necessarily know or remember). So I’ll have more on that in upcoming posts.


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Polish Courts, pt 1

Goddamn I didn’t want to write about the stupid Polish courts situation but I guess I have to, so here it is. One problem in trying to explain the current controversy is that it’s kind of like trying to explain the inner workings of a big bureaucracy that your’e very familiar with – there’s no way to explain it to outsiders in a way that makes any sense, especially because it doesn’t make any sense. So this will take a few posts…

Note, that a lot of the issues now actually date back to the People’s Republic of Poland (PRL) the communist Soviet vassal state from 1944-89. Some of the things I’ll write about that will be very familiar to those with experience with or in a post WWII European communist country and some of it won’t.

The ruling party in Poland (Law and Justice  – PiS) is run by one Jarosław Kaczyński, a political schemer without a diplomatic bone in his body. The first government led by his party (described by one political analyst as the weirdest government in Europe) collapsed in 2007 resulting in early elections and eight years under the Civic Platform (PO) party.

A big reason for this is that Kaczyński loved making deals but hates actually abiding by them. No sooner had the ink dried on an agreement with another party than he was trying to renogiate. He kept burning bridges and party leaders that tried to work with him and it got to the point there was no one left to try to make deals with. They couldn’t rule as a minority government since they’d made so many enemies so the only choice was early elections which they lost.

Kaczyński was formed in the PRL, speaks no foreign langauges that I know of and has never spent any serious time outside of Poland (very weird for an elite politician here). The main working style of the second PiS government has been a combination of welfare handouts (paying families about $125 a month for each child after the first) and trying to reform institutions into their PRL form. His entire institutional vision is a re-creation of the PRL without the lip service given to communism. Part of that is that while he is the de facto most powerful person in the country his only official position is that of backbencher (rank and file member of parliament). This is PRL style rule by party leader. Kaczyński is no longer interested in making deals, his new obsession is remote rule though unofficial channels.

The goal of the judicial reform is to bring the courts directly under party control. That’s it. Talk about democracy and references to other countries where judges are appointed by the government is essentially a smokescreen. As far as anyone can tell, the proposed reform doesn’t have the kinds of check and balances that occur in other countries, judges will serve at the pleasure of the government…. or not. No one knows because the whole bill is written in murky ambiguous language (typical here) and the whole thing has not been subject to the normal amount of debate. Some have noticed that the proposed ‘reform’ would allow party appointed judges to set aside electoral results that they don’t like, which meant that the government had to go on the defensive trying to explain how that wouldn’t happen but…. they can’t.

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The Argument For Open Borders

Among other things, borders can reveal collective differences, whether these are due to political,

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or other factors.

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They bring into stark relief the fact that the finished results or day to day life in different places that are quite close can be quite different.

Collective differences are intolerable to the Neoliberal mindset as one of the pillars of Neoliberalism is that humans are fungible, interchangeable widgets and that any surface difference is easily washed away by the cleansing ideology of Neoliberalism and its holy doctrine – private economic transactions are the ultimate good.

The mere idea of longlasting and irreversible group differences hinder this as one collective difference might be that some groups doubt the sanctity of private economic transactions.

The entire Open Borders movement is a psychological reaction to the fact that group differences exist.

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Make-work Job Creation all the way Down

A few years ago I somehow became involved (it wasn’t planned) in an educational project funded by the European Commission. The project cost in the six figures (Euro) spanned over a half dozen countries with almost 10 institutional partners (technically my institution was the partner I was just one of three or four representatives of said partner) and lasted two years. While the project might have had some value had it been structured differently, some major problems involving design (that could not be changed) and then some early decisions (partly due to the design problems) blunted most of its real potential value.

It was the first (and most likely last) such project I’ve been involved in but a bunch of other people spent most or all of their working lives on this type of project (and several were involved in two or three others at the same time).

It was listening to several of them discussing the chances for other projects of getting funding when it hit me –  The goal of the project wasn’t education at all but job creation. Not in the classic sense of private businesses creating jobs (because private business hates creating jobs and does so very unwillingly) but the EC was spending a fair amount of money to give the participants (highly educated but not always in the most practical fields) gainful employment of a type. I have no idea how many people are involved in this or how conscious anyone at any level is of the process but that’s what it is, governmental institutions paying people to create ‘educational’ projects that don’t really have much chance to educate anyone and disappear relatively quickly to be replaced by others.

It’s a little like the automated factory in Stanisław Lem’s Eden that builds products and then dissassembles them into component parts and transfers them to the beginning of the production line to reassemble them. Perceived that way, much of the bureaucratic regulations (many and many of them very absurd) were mostly there to prevent the participants from perceiving the project as the kind of make-work Potemkin operation it was.

That’s what I mean when I wrote that much of what governments are now doing is finding ways to employ people since so many traditional jobs are disappearing.

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