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The theme of The Great Divide is that the populations of the democratic world, from Boston to Berlin, Vancouver to Venice, are becoming increasingly divided from within, due to a growing ideological incompatibility between modern liberalism and conservatism. This is partly due to a complex mutation in the concept of liberal democracy itself, and the resulting divide is now so wide that those holding to either philosophy on a whole range of topics: on democracy, on reason, on abortion, on human nature, on homosexuality and gay marriage, on freedom, on the role of courts … and much more, can barely speak with each other without outrage (the favorite emotional response from all sides). Clearly, civil conversation at the surface has been failing -- and that could mean democracy is failing.

This book is an effort to deepen the conversation. It is written for the non-specialist, and aims to reveal the less obvious underlying ideological forces and misconceptions that cause the conflict and outrage at the surface -- not with any expectation the clash of values will evaporate, but rather that a deeper understanding will generate a more intelligent and civil conversation.

As an aid to understanding, the book contains a handful of Tables directly comparing modern liberal and conservative views across a range of fundamental moral and political “issues” so that curious readers can answer the book’s main question: “Where Do You Stand?” An interesting result in testing this exercise has been the number of people who find they “think” one way, but “live” another.    

 

Good Reading
Essays (37)
Friday
Aug182017

My Thoughts on "Free Speech"

Last Wednesday, I did a brief Interview with Ezra Levant on his Rebel Media show, on my book The Great Divide: Why Liberals and Conservatives Will Never, Ever Agree (2015).

Here it is:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htQk75a2XZE

Ezra has had a lot of trouble of late because of his commentary on the horrific riots in Charlottesville Virginia. I can't go into that in detail here, but he was perceived to be excusing racism and violence, etc., whether or not that was his intent.

However, I think much of his trouble arose simply because he has always tried to defend "free speech." I especially admired the way he single-handedly defended himself against Canada's outrageous so-called Human Rights Tribunals, which are in fact just kangaroo courts set up to control what people say, and even how they think (by mandating "re-education" courses for offenders, etc). But in such "courts", truth is no defence (which fact ought to offend everbody!) and I for one never thought the Western world would stoop to such draconian extra-legal totalitarian procedures. Shame on us all for not breaking up and ruling illegal and offensive to every civilized bone in our body politic, these mewling and smelly little procedures.

Free Speech is a Western concept that rests on the modern libertarian (and formerly, but no longer, on the classical liberal) notion of the "harm principle" which, from its origins in ancient thought, found expression in modern times in Articlel 4 of The French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789, and then, most famously, in John Stuart Mill's little booklet On Liberty, of 1859. It is also found, though not in such words, in the First Amendment to the American Constitution (which forms part of the US Bill of Rights) of 1791.

The core idea, is that you should be able to say whatever you want in public as long as you do not incite rioting or directly harm someone else. And of course, the normal laws of libel and slander always apply.

My personal belief, however, is that the notion of "free speech", whether in the USA or Canada or anywhere else, was always, until very recently, intended only to allow decent free speech by any citizen in a civilized context. It was never intended to include breaking windows, damaging private property, hooliganism, shouting vile, hateful, or vulgar slogans or threats in the public square which others cannot escape hearing, and so on. In other words, it was intended to allow the free expression of, and protesting in favour of, alternative, and even distasteful moral or political ideas and ideals.

The key to what I am arguing here, is that you should be allowed free speech in civil conditions, but you should not be allowed to impose it on me, in any manner you please. I should not have to put up with pushing my way through a crowd of angry Marxists or Nazis or socialists with loudspeakers and clubs every time I leave for work in the morning. That kind of "free speech" makes the enjoyment of a free and settled life impossible.

So ... In the context of what I am seeing now in the USA, and have seen before in Europe (such as during the May 1968 riots in Paris) and the earlier 1966 riots at Stanford University and Berkely (again!), I, like many others, am in search of a solution, and here is what I propose...

Unlimited Free Speech in Limited Spaces

I believe all citizens should be allowed to think and say whatever they wish, any time they wish, but that their thoughts and feelings should not be imposed on others who don't wish to hear them. Free speech should be a voluntary expression, but also a voluntary experience, and not an imposed one.

So ... a solution that would preserve total free speech but limit its deleterious and unpleasant or dangerous immediate consequences would be to quarantine the spaces for free speech.

Free Speech Parkettes and Facilities

What about every city and town setting up as many Free Speech Spaces at it might want, where any citizen could go to express his or her ideas to whomsoever might want to go and hear them?

I am imagining a sizeable city setting up a dozen or so small parkettes outdoors, and/or equivalent indoor spaces with some seating, where citizens could go to hear anything fom sensible to completely outrageous speeches. Debates could also be scheduled in such spaces.

If a particular city had so lost its sense of civilized discourse that violence was a possibility, such spaces could easily be policed to prevent violence and the shutting down of opinion.

The advantage of such an arrangement is that we would have unlimited free speech in a civilized context that would be voluntarily enjoyed rather than imposed on anyone, and violence and public vulgarity could be controlled.

That's it for today ...

Thursday
Aug172017

Google, Feminism, and "Brain Sex"

        This post seems particulary timely in view of the recent tempest in the Google teapot over an internet post on gender differences by James Damore, who basically argued that men and women are very different.

           Perhaps the only mistake he made was to ignore the fact that people selected from the general population by Google for employment are a very specialized sub-set in which men and women may be more alike than men and women are in the world at large.

           The observations and research cited below describe natural male-female differences found in the general population, and anyone who follows up this work will forever be disabused of the false notion that men and women are "the same".

 ********************

Brain Sex

“Boys and girls are as different above the neck as they are below.”

~ anonymous

         Until around the 1970s most of this argument was conducted as a verbal nature-nurture slugfest. Words, and lots of statistics. But since then it has been fought - and won - in favour of clear biological differences – with CAT and PET scanners, MRI machines, and Electron microscopes. These and many other combinations of extraordinary technology and biochemistry have revealed irrefutably that various parts of the brains of men and women are structurally different and, even where they are the same, they often function very differently in fascinating ways when performing the same tasks. Such findings soon began causing sex-difference researchers to recant their previous faith in the “blank slate” idea of the mind (the idea that we begin life with a mind like a blank slate on which life will write) and to admit it is no longer tenable to believe that males and females are born with the same behavioural dispositions.

What follows is drawn from my book The Trouble With Canada ... Still! (2010) and from The Book of Absolutes (2008), and these are lay books for the general reader, and I did not want to burden them  chapter with overly-detailed proofs. Those interested are encouraged to see my notes for some references,[1] or to search the internet under topics such as “cognitive sciences,” “sex and cognition,” and the “psychology of sex differences.” Below is just a brief summary of some of the findings. Readers should feel free to forward this blog, or any parts of it they choose to whomever to trye to spread the truth about this unnecessarily fractious topic.

*****

 A great number of studies show that male and female babies behave differently in the womb (movements, heart rates, etc.) and also moments after birth (give different attention and have different intensity of reaction to the same objects, sounds, and tactile sensations).

 Infant girls -- but not infant boys -- distinguish a baby’s cry from other general sounds. Male babies prefer objects to people, females the reverse.

 Girls develop language, fluency, and verbal memory earlier than boys and process such information faster, a difference observed by all researchers.

 Girls are less rule-bound and boys more so. Boys need rules to tell whether they are winning or not. Their pre-adolescent play is often such rank-related play.

 From birth, boys are more aggressive, competitive, and self-assertive than girls (perhaps the most common finding, worldwide). Even when one-year-old babies are separated from their mothers and their toys by a fence-like barrier, the girls tend to stay in the middle and cry for help, while the boys tend to cluster at the ends of the barrier, trying to find a way out.

Human cognitive patterns and their related brain organization are apparently permanently influenced by physiological events that take place by the fourth fetal month.

At the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine, a combination of PET scans and high-resolution MRI technology used to study brain metabolism has shown that even at rest, doing nothing in particular, there were male-female differences in brain metabolism in seventeen different brain areas. 

Beginning at puberty men are more prone to physical violence (most crime is by males between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five), and women are more prone to emotional volatility. In the same period, men show more confidence, concentration, and ambition, whereas women show more social sensitivity and interest in relationships. About 85% of all crimes are committed by males, and there are specific, universal sex differences in the styles, types of victim, and post-crime behaviours of male and female perpetrators of violent crimes.

Spatial skills: Boys are better than girls on a variety of spatial skills. This advantage is cross-cultural and is practically universal in males. The spatial-skill sex difference becomes quite marked after puberty and is even observed in animals.

Women are superior to men at certain tasks requiring memory for the location of objects, and at many language tasks.

 ********

       So ... it seems that from birth males tend to strive harder than females to reach the top of any power hierarchy they encounter, and they create their own hierarchies to reach the top if none exist. Boys are usually more aggressive, more Machiavellian in their pursuit of power, and crueler and more willing to hurt others than girls. Studies abound showing that men the world over tend to devalue if not despise victims—especially their own—whereas women tend to take pity on them. Nothing in this male attitude is particularly admirable, but that’s the way it is. This was driven home to me by a television documentary on the entering of a World War II concentration camp by Russian soldiers. The commentator remarked that many of the soldiers not only stole from the women prisoners, but raped them as well. Now these women were the most emaciated imaginable, some close to death. With sadness and disgust it hit home that no woman could possibly find a man in that condition sexually desirable, or wish to degrade him so. With that thought, my awareness of the chasm that exists between the physical and moral lives of males and females struck home even harder. And let us not forget that throughout history, and even though lots of women do this too, it is the men who have been prone to abandon children, murder them, bayonet them in war, rape them, take them into slavery, and so on. The truly great crimes of history have been perpetrated by men—I think of countless tyrants, especially the modern ones such as Stalin, Hitler, Lenin, Pol Pot, Mao, and their like, who wrought cruelties of a kind and scope that beggar the imagination. And let us never forget: they were all utopian socialists. In this prototypical sense only, radical feminism (striving for aggressive control of social outcomes) is a very male undertaking.

           Anthropological studies the world over verify the reality of male aggression and hardness, which can be induced in any female, human or primate, by the simple administration of male hormones. Anyone who has had occasion to mix with athletes on steroids has known this for years. Both male and female athletes take only male hormones, for an obvious reason—to enhance power and aggressiveness. Contrarily, female hormones administered to long-term violent criminals succeed in pacifying them. Of course, aggressiveness is highly valued in societies the world over, and so men tend to be rewarded for this kind of behaviour. In other words, learning plays an important secondary role, but not a primary one. Anthropological and biological studies the world over confirm that through hormones, men in general are rendered more aggressive, exploratory, volatile, competitive and dominant, more visual, abstract, and impulsive, more muscular, appetitive, and tall . . . less nurturant, moral, domestic, stable, and peaceful, less auditory, verbal, and sympathetic, less durable, healthy, and dependable, less balanced . . . more compulsive sexually and less secure. Within his own sex, he is more inclined to affiliate upwards—toward authority—and less inclined to affiliate downwards—toward children and toward the weak and needy.[2]

             As a natural result of this, there is no society in the world in which matriarchy has ever existed, or is in any way emerging today. Fascinatingly, the beginning of all these differences is right in the womb. For we all begin life as females, biologically. We become male only if the Y chromosome is present, and sufficient male hormones then act upon our early development. Maleness is biological difference – there is nothing “constructed” about it.  Even genetic girls accidentally exposed to male hormones, consistently reject most of the attempts of the culture to feminize them.[3]

             Enough said. What are we to make of all this? Very simply, that men monopolize leadership positions because they try harder to get them does not mean that men deserve these positions or that men do a better job in them than women would do if they became leaders. The only sense in which male dominance is “right” is that it expresses the free choices of individual men to strive for positions of power and the free choices of individual women to do other things.[4]

           My addendum to this is that aggressiveness and control are two very different things. In external structures, like armies, or businesses, the former generally leads to the latter; but in interpersonal relationships, not necessarily so. Everyone can think of couples where the male is more aggressive, but the female controls the relationship and the tenor of the family. Women tend to be just as aggressive as men defensively, when fighting for their loved ones or some deep-rooted belief, but are universally less aggressive than men offensively. Recall the great line from the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding:

Husband: “The Husband is the head of the family.”

Wife: “Yes, my dear, but the Wife, she is the neck.”

 

 

 


         [1] References to universal (insofar as these have been cross-culturally examined) human sex differences abound in several books. See Eleanor Maccoby and Carol Jacklin, The Psychology of Sex Differences (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1974), for a survey of the then existing literature. Moir and Jessel, Brain Sex, is an early popular display of this reality. Glenn Wilson, The Great Sex Divide (Washington DC: Scott-Townsend Publishers, 1992) is a very readable treatment of the biochemical and experimental evidence for innate sex differences. Robert L. Nadeau, S/He Brain (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1996), is a review of the underlying biochemical and neuro-scientific findings about sex differences, nested in some appropriately targeted political objections to feminist ideology. Doreen Kimura, Sex and Cognition (Cambridge, Mass,: MIT Press, 2000) is a careful review of the findings to date, somewhat apprehensively expressed. David C.Geary, Male, Female: the Evolution of Human Sex Differences (Washington DC: American Psychological Association, 1998) is the most detailed survey of studies on sex differences thought to be rooted in evolutionary theory. Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Viking Penguin, 2002), is another of Pinker’s long, cheerfully confident, and informative books, in which he summarizes much evidence for innate sex-differences.

[2] George Gilder, Men and Marriage (Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Books, 1986), p. 20.

[3] Gilder, Men and Marriage, p.26.

[4] Levin, Feminism and Freedom, p. 91.

Tuesday
Aug152017

The Feminist Reaction (to the pro-family world)

The Feminist Reaction

 

"Feminist theory...is passionate and salvationist in a similar way to Marxism, new religious movements, and occult enthusiasms: all of them know in advance not only the conclusions they will arrive at but the appropriate attitude toward those conclusions. Academically, it is mostly unsophisticated. A little light generalizing work is followed by polysyllabic decoration and some spray-on indignation."

~ Kenneth Minogue, Times Literary Supplement, June 7, 1991

 

 

          The modern feminist reaction to the pro-family arrangement outlined in my last post gathered steam throughout the early part of the 20th century, accelerated by the experience of two World Wars in which so many women were put to work out of the home. It was also reinforced by a growing world-wide egalitarianism expressed in various Statist movements – fascism and communism - themselves the contributory causes of those wars. Along with this came the vastly-increased wealth of all free Western nations, which meant in turn the possibility of historically unprecedented tax harvesting, and therefore the possibility of … ever larger governments, huge, as never before seen. This in turn meant that more and more government services for “the people” could be dreamed up and actually delivered on a massive scale as never before imagined – in the hope of votes to be gained. For such states – all now less-free “democratic” States – the greatest competitor for citizen loyalty was, (and remains) voluntary civil society and its mainspring, the private natural family. This in turn meant that governments vying for votes had what has turned out to be a socially-destructive motive to compete for citizen allegiance, against the inward pull of civil society and the family. New tax-funded “free” services were the State’s weapon of choice and became widely offered as replacements for those things families and their communities had always voluntarily arranged to provide for themselves. Soon local clubs, associations and art guilds and the like, faded in importance, to be replaced by government-subsidized recreational, cultural, and social equivalents. 

           Citizens were initially offered the big programs such as social security and unemployment protection, but before long they were offered everything from kiddie soccer to flower arranging, to courses in personal and business finance, to beginner guitar and dance courses. All free, state-funded or subsidized. In order to provide such things “equally” the State had to begin an “atomization” of society by changing the historical focus on the family unit, to a new focus on autonomous individuals. In this manner, without regard for any private or economic or circumstantial family differences, the State was re-engineering the former State/society relationship, into a new State/individual one. For this to succeed, civil society and the natural family as its foundation had to be weakened in influence, and when it came to the rising ideological imperative of “equality” this meant that biological gender as the deciding factor in family formation and sex-role differentiation had to be neutralized. The public schools and education Ministries of the State would do that job. Enter modern feminism as an arm of the autonomizing State. That is the general background for the corrosive forces worming away at all modern societies.   

             More specifically, the rise of feminism in the 20th century was directly linked to the Marxist anti-capitalist movement through Simone de Beauvoir’s influential book The Second Sex - basically a treatment of the condition of women. There was much of originality in it, but she herself volunteered that its underlying philosophy was derived largely from the work of her philandering companion, Jean-Paul Sartre. In it, de Beauvoir was militantly anti-capitalist, anti-property, anti-marriage, and anti-family. She admired the Soviet model of society, of all things: “Marriage was to be based on a free agreement that the spouses could break at will; maternity was to be voluntary; pregnancy leaves were to be paid for by the State, which would assume charge of the children . . . .”[1] Much of that has indeed come to pass. She was talking about Soviet society as her ideal, but it might as well have been about Canada, 2017, because that is still our radical feminist song! De Beauvoir was succeeded by serious North American feminist writers like Millet, Friedan, and Steinem, most of whom shared her admiration for socialism under one name or another, which “can be considered virtually a further distinguishing mark of feminism.”[2]  These first-line modern feminists were in turn succeeded by a virtual army of post-modern feminists whose turgid works are still visible on any bookstore shelf devoted to their ever more creative forms of envy-and-oppression theory. But it doesn’t matter. When it comes to putting a finger on just what feminism’s basic beliefs are, we can encapsulate the philosopher Michael Levin’s four points (his words in quotes) as follows. Feminists believe:

 

1.  That “men and women are the same”—anatomical differences apart. [This is a version of the Equality Illusion at work, and a lot of recent science on sex differences blows that argument right out of the water – see “Brain-Sex,” below].

2.  That “men unfairly occupy positions of dominance” because they have been raised in the myth that boys are more aggressive than girls, and have been taught mastery, while girls have been taught people skills instead [a version of the Determinist Illusion]. Without this stereotyping, all “leadership would be equally divided between the sexes.”

3.  “Traditional femininity is a suffocating and pathological response” to women’s restricted lives and must be abandoned. Everyone must reject the idea that sex has any significant effect on one’s nature.

4.  All the above changes “will require the complete transformation of society.” [The principal tool here is the Rights Illusion. See the quote by Dulude at the head of this chapter].

 

Do The Feminist Assumptions Hold Up?

          In order to do their work of attacking a traditional, biologically-based natural society, radical feminists have had to argue “there are no innate differences” between men and women. Accordingly, and on this – as I shall show, false – assumption, they have pushed for (and won) various “pay equity” statutes, state-funded abortion-on-demand laws, and continue to argue that state-funded daycare is a right. All these claims and the programs linked to them are seriously flawed. In what follows, I will show why.

          A major shot across the bow attacking the “no biological differences” claim – the foundation stone of all feminist theory - was an early report on the assumption of male-female sameness by Eleanor Maccoby and Carol Jacklin, two feminist psychologists from prestigious Stanford University, published in their exhaustive two-volume work, The Psychology of Sex Differences.[3] These two social scientists set out to survey the entire field of studies on psychological sex differences, under the assumption there were none. But what they learned was that clear and important differences exist between boys and girls even before birth. There are wide, and universal differences across whole ranges of physical sensitivity, illness, perception, learning, tactility, language, spatial abilities, pain threshold, and on and on. Of course, there are great similarities, too. But significant differences are detected in all areas studied, through the various stages of development. This would not surprise most parents, for as Levin humorously reminds us, “Any veteran of adolescence and parenthood still able to believe that boys and girls are born alike has already withstood more evidence than any laboratory can provide.” The best known difference is the general superior female ability with language, and general superior male ability with mathematics and spatial relations—both noticed early and continuously throughout life. (My own case is quite the opposite.) But the most important difference, one I am sure Maccoby and Jacklin  hoped they would not find, but certainly did, was in “aggression.” In their chapter on “power relationships,” here is what they report: “It is time to consider whether the sex difference in aggression has a biological foundation. We contend that it does”:

 

1.  “Males are more aggressive than females in all human societies for which evidence is available.”

2.  The sex differences are found early in life, at a time when there is no evidence that differential socialization pressures have been brought to bear by adults to “shape” aggression differently in the two sexes.

3.  Similar sex differences are found in man and subhuman primates.

4.  Aggression is related to levels of sex hormones, and can be changed by experimental administrations of these hormones.

             For anyone who seriously considers the whole subject of male-female sex differences, this early and sweeping survey must be conclusive, especially because these authors were working hard to discount male/female differences in the scientific literature. Quite clearly, there are no grounds whatsoever for the pivotal feminist claim that males and females are fundamentally the same, and “the accessibility of the immense volume of material on sex difference makes the continued respectability of feminism no less than a scandal.”[4]

 

                                                           ~

 

            Even though most sensible people can see that boys and girls, and men and women have always behaved differently, and normally desire different kinds of lives, many modern social scientists and ideologues caught up in the feminist egalitarian myth have resisted this truth. So strong was this resistance that by the 1960s radical feminists actually set out to change biology, mostly by ignoring it entirely, disputing its findings, or attempting to reverse male and female behaviours through social conditioning. As biologist Glenn Wilson emphasizes, they were interested not in what is but in what they felt ought to be. If boys are too aggressive, let’s punish aggression. If girls are not aggressive enough, let’s reward aggression. My own high school, formerly a boys-only school, is now co-ed and boasts of teaching boys and girls “against the grain.” In a recent school brochure teachers and parents were urged to make sure that boys and girls “spend time in activities that they may not be ‘hardwired’ to choose of their own accord.” I think that “make sure,” means “force them.” The underlying faith of such teachers is - has to be - the strange belief that boys and girls start life exactly the same and that all human differences are therefore “socially constructed.” Most honest social scientists thinking in this strange way end up discovering that their egalitarian ideals have biased their research results.

              In the past twenty years, however, much more, and more in-depth scientific work has been done on sex differences of all sorts, much of it with the help of modern technology, and I have summarized many of these studies in The Book of Absolutes under the rubric “Brain Sex.”[5] The scientific evidence in support of innate, natural and universal male-female differences must now be considered overwhelming and conclusive. However, because many of these differences are matters of degree it helps to think of overlapping circles when imagining such things. In other words, science has found that although a large number of skills and behaviours are shared between the sexes, the averages for each sex are distinctly non-aligned. This means we can never say all men or all women do so and so or behave in such and such a way. But we may say that ‘on average,” they do. Suffice it to say for now, however, and merely to whet the appetite, that such brain-sex differences - most of them universal and cross-cultural (in all societies studied to date) - are presumed to have a biological basis, whether hormonal or brain-based, but usually both. Patterns found show clear differences in such things as: levels of sense awareness, verbal abilities, math abilities, spatial abilities (both imagined and actual), throwing and targeting skills, fine-motor skills, rotational and directional skills, skills in games like chess (spatial emphasis) and scrabble (verbal emphasis),  problem-solving psychology, and more.  

                  My next post will be about "Brain Sex," as it has been called - which is to say, about the basic  biologically-determined differences between boys and girls, who, as some truth-telling observer once noted, "Are as different above the neck, as they are below."

 

 


[1] Levin, Feminism and Freedom, p.26.

[2] Levin, Feminism and Freedom, p.20.

               [3] Eleanor Maccoby and Carol Jenkins, The Psychology of Sex Differences (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 1974), vol. 1. This volume was at the time a thorough survey of the entire field of sex-differences research. Despite their expressed hypothesis that there would be no inherent differences between males and females, scholarly objectivity won out: both scholars conclude that there are indeed inherent, genetically and hormonally produced differences.

 

               [4] Levin, Feminism and Freedom, p. 70

[5] William D. Gairdner, The Book of Absolutes: A Critique of Relativism and a Defence of Universals (Montreal-Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008), pp.

Saturday
Aug122017

The Feminist Mistake(s)

             Let us begin by pointing out that there have always been “feminists” around. There were female protest movements in ancient Rome where women tired of home-making would insist on their right to fight in battle “just like men” - and even to do this bare-breasted, if they wished. Most men would likely agree that the mere sight of a pack of half-naked women rushing toward them in battle would be a very effective deterrent to warfare.

           At any rate, then as now, discussions of feminism can get over-heated, so I want to clearly distinguish my topic - radical feminism - from the ordinary concern of reasonable men and women to be fair-minded with respect to the sexes. Most women who think of themselves as “feminists” today simply mean they believe that fairness, or equality, ought to be applied evenly to men and women in our society - unless there exists a good reason for differential treatment. For in some cases women have some advantages over men, and they don’t want to lose them. Couches in women’s washrooms, job exemptions from lifting heavy objects, immunity from military conscription, lots of special legal dispensations and biases in favour of separated or divorced women and mothers, and so on, are just a few examples. Of course, these they describe as “justified” or positive discrimination. And so do I.

           But I also like to temper the whole issue of the war of the sexes by saying that there are many ways in which men have always been, and continue to be treated unequally (some of them reasonable). So woe betide us if men ever manifest the same lack of confidence in themselves as women have done for the past few decades and start a world-wide “masculinist” movement. They would have lots of fodder.

           For example, men carry a disproportionate “death burden” in society. They die much younger than women do; there is a “life gap” favouring women all over the world. They are also vastly more often the victims of violent crime than are women. They also suffer outright discrimination in war-time: over 120,000 Canadian men have been killed in battle; but only a handful of women. Men also suffer an unfair anti-emotional bias, and a stereotype-burden: we say “men can take it” - so listen, don’t even think about crying, eh? Society also unfairly expects men (not women) to compete financially for their entire lives, and face scorn and failure if they can’t hack it. Boys can feel this expectation in a big way when they are about fifteen. They don’t have the same safe-harbour, default option of home-making and child-rearing as women do. Men also suffer a considerable child-custody bias, and an alimony-bias in favour of women: the wife has to be a raving suicidal maniac for them to get custody of their own kids. Fathers are also often jailed for non-payment of child support and alimony, but never women. Most painfully, men suffer a grievous abortion/child-support bias: they have no legal say whatsoever in decisions over the life or death of their own children in the womb if a woman wants to abort them, but if she alone decides to keep them, the father is legally forced to pay support until the children are eighteen. Men also suffer a prison-term bias, receiving far longer sentences than female criminals for the same crimes. They also suffer a strip-search bias; female-to-male strip searches are allowed, but not the reverse. As for the death-penalty? Men in all countries are far more likely than females to receive a death penalty for the same crimes. Male punishment in life begins early, for even as very young children, boys at home or in school are punished more often, and more severely, than girls.

            Enough. I don’t want to whine (frowned upon in a male). I just wanted to set the record straight by saying that life is chock-a-block with biases and discriminations, some of them reasonable, some of them unreasonable. It’s just that a soft-minded and gullible public has let feminists get away with the “poor me” ploy as if, despite the fact modern Western females are the wealthiest, best-educated, most privileged class of women in world history, they were some kind of oppressed class of domestic slaves.     

          Radical feminism has gone even beyond this charge, however, and anyone who studies it in depth will soon see that in its most alarming form it is a program for the complete restructuring of society through government-funded social engineering of an insidious and unnatural kind. These angry people are not interested in equal opportunities for women; they want equal outcomes, or results, even if these have to be forced on everyone by the powers of the State; and even if men and women, left to their own free devices, would never choose such outcomes. Indeed, once dissected, every ill of socialism can be found in radical feminist practice: in its reliance on all the popular illusions described in this book; in its dependence on coercive power; in its Statist agenda; in its ignorance of the basics of economics; and in its angry psychology of resentment.  On its own, in other words, radical feminism would be a tempest in a teapot. But with the power of the State, the courts, and millions in funding, it has caused profound social and moral dislocation, to be explained. Lest anyone think this is chicken-feed funding, The Trouble With Canada ... Still! has a Snapshot in Chapter Ten that breaks out the $1.3 to $1.5 Billion spent on feminist programs in Canada since all this began to ramp up in1973, with notes that verify the sources.

Citizens of the future will be hard put to explain why government has so lavishly funded a feminist movement that has persistently mounted a fundamental attack on the whole idea of a free society as it has painfully evolved over the past five centuries, from principle to practice. We will look back at our crumbling walls and wonder: How did we so blithely allow the Trojan horse of radical feminism within our gates? Of course, sometimes moderate feminism can be just as dangerous as the radical form, because it alters social structures without this expressed intention. But whether the trigger be pulled by a sleepwalker or a revolutionary, the same explosive damage is done. Those of us who cherish the core values that have made this nation strong—freedom, family, free enterprise, individual responsibility, reward for effort, rule of law, and so on —must learn to recognize the very different values and tactics of those who are determined to destroy these core values, however unwittingly. In particular, we must learn not to be seduced by the gossamer language in which such aims are couched.

  Undoing the Successes of the Past

              In response to the widespread employment of women and children in factories that was threatening family life during the nineteenth century, social reformers fought hard to establish what was called a “family wage” sufficient to raise a family of five.[1] It was a policy created to protect men with families from unemployment. They would always be given preference over male or female singles in the search for jobs, because the social aim was to get children out of the workplace and into the home for proper care and schooling. Once it became established, the family wage - or “living wage” as it was sometimes called - was seen as a social contract fortifying the family, therefore all of society, and therefore the entire nation. Single women (or men who did not intend to found a family) vying for the jobs of men who had to support wives and children were quite normally seen as a direct threat to the general welfare of society, and maybe greedy to boot, because with no children or spouse to support, why did they want to, why should they, be paid more than their life-situation required? For this reason, women were regularly denied jobs, passed over, or even demoted or let go in favour of a male family-wage earner. After World War II women hired during war-time were let go in droves for this very reason—they held jobs needed by men returning from war. Everyone understood this reasoning.

            What an irony that just after more than a century spent consolidating and protecting the central role of the family in society and the importance of investing personal parental care in our children, we are now assiduously breaking all this apart, lobbying for both parents to work outside the home, and for universal, free (tax-funded) and, by definition, impersonal government daycare. In the recent past, society chose family and children over individual material wealth: so we grew as a nation by natural increase. Now we are choosing individual wealth over family formation and children: so we are not replacing ourselves. Then, reformers struggled to help women and children get off the streets, out of the factories, and back into the home so that children could be properly raised and educated. Today’s reformers have been busy stigmatizing “stay-at-home” wives and trying to drive women into the marketplace once again. The only thing common to the two sets of reformers is the use of State power to do this.

            Not long ago a commonly-held view was that it was not just money that brought social stature, as we tend to think so narrowly today, but a combination of the virtues for which rich and poor alike strove, the path to which was most often pointed out by the women of society. But modern women, thanks to sexual “liberation,” have yielded the high moral ground they once controlled. The good-better-best range of manners and morals that infused their world has been replaced by a general, feel-good, whatever-turns-you-on ethic. They may have wanted down from their pedestal, but that pedestal was also an altar at which men, however quixotically, worshipped. Having stepped down, however, they must now play on the same field as men. For this, alas, they are ill-suited, owing to their generally lesser offensive-aggression (which is not the same as the domestic control at which they tend to excel), and to the competitive handicap to which their biology leads - the natural desire to have and to care for their own offspring. Everyone knows, of course, that some women are just as defensively aggressive as men, or more so (especially when defending their children and families), and that men can look after children; but most men are unwilling, and to boot cannot carry them, bear them, or suckle them. Of course, in a free society any couple that wants to reverse such natural customs is utterly free to try, and for some this may be preferable. And if heads and hearts were interchangeable, an absolutely equal sharing of outside work (at least the banal, repetitive kind) might make something like that possible. But they are not.

            So the traditional familial division of labour has always had a purpose: simple efficiency. It is an arrangement that has enabled societies great and small to do the important work of ensuring their own continuation. What the important nineteenth-century social arrangement did so clearly was to consolidate the idea of marriage, family, and the crucial importance of superior child-rearing normally available only from parents (or relatives).[2] The inevitable result of this was to make men dependent on women for sex, family, and children—and women on men for physical protection and financial support. This implicit and universal sexual-social contract of humanity has always specified that men will provide and protect, while women will process and nurture. The man finds and brings home the bread and protects family from enemies; the woman cooks the bread and suckles the babies. Both sexes were seen to need each other equally, if differently. Women always knew they could bring men to heel by withholding what men wanted most. Men, in turn, could bring women to heel by threatening to withhold support and protection. In order to prevent the wanton occurrence of the latter—especially during a woman’s child-rearing phase when she was naturally handicapped in terms of competitive wage-earning power—there were always extremely strong social and legal sanctions upholding marital vows, parental responsibility, and child support.

            A key element in this division of labour was a general acknowledgement of the obvious fact that men and women are naturally and universally different in many, many ways (see the section on “Brain Sex,” soon to be posted). In short, “men are not better than women and women are not better than men; men and women differ.”[3] I would add that women and men are each in their own natural way, and in general, better at some things, and worse at others. Most women raise babies a lot better than men, and most men are better fighters than women. Much better. Everyone acknowledges such universal truths. However, in their effort to escape their own biology, it is these very differences that rile feminists so, because they correctly see that unless they can prove that men and women are the same, they haven’t got a case. Either men and women are naturally different, and these differences manifest themselves naturally in different values and life choices; or they are born exactly the same, and the different social outcomes are a result of oppression and discrimination. No sensible person has ever believed this feminist story-line, and so in considerable desperation feminists recently have adopted the lightweight so-called “post-modern” view that all human gender is “constructed,” or a product of the mind. This is a manifestly inadequate view of human reality that has traction only in university courses on gender politics, as the current battle against it fought so well by such as Professor Jordan Peterson at the University of Toronto makes so clear. 

But by way of staying focused only on what can be discussed reasonably, let’s take a closer look in my next post at the feminist case for sameness, keeping in mind that the main reason for exploring this in depth is to test the ideological grounds for the feminist attack on traditional society.

 


               [1] On the concept and history of the “family wage,” see Bryce Christensen, ed., The Family Wage: Work, Gender, and Children in the Modern Economy (Rockford, Illinois: The Rockford Institute, 1988); and David Popenoe, Disturbing the Nest: Family Change and Decline in Modern Societies (New York: Aldine de Gruyter, 1988). The latter traces the origins and changes in the family from mediaeval times to the present, then uses Sweden as the bellwether nation that went down the path of family destruction farther and sooner than the rest of us. In William D. Gairdner, The War Against the Family (Toronto: Stoddart Publishing, 1993), I have summarized Popenoe’s findings on Sweden, and also presented a thorough examination of modern anti-family policies and practices. See also Allan C. Carlson, Family Questions (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Books, 1988) for penetrating remarks on feminism and the demise of the natural family in modern times.

 

[2] Everyone knows that a good day-care facility may provide reasonably good care, equally to all the children in the center. But a parent will almost always give unreasonably good care to his or her own child; and it will unequal, which is to say - always better than what this parent would give to anyone else’s children. A daycare center must operate on an egalitarian basis, to the extent that a childcare worker will be scolded for giving better care, or more love to one child than to another. But a parent at home will always give the most possible care and love - will always favour - his or her own children. Children who grow up with that unreasonable love never forget it.

[3] Michael Levin, Feminism and Freedom (New Jersey: Transaction Books, 1987), p. 12. Readers will find this book remains a rigorous treatment and exposure of the philosophical and moral inadequacies of radical feminism.

 

Thursday
Aug102017

Radical Feminism: Attacking Traditional Society

         In view of the current public fixations with respect to so many topics rooted in confusion over male-female relations, I will be posting a series of selections from Chapter Ten of my book, The Trouble With Canada ... Still! (BPS Books, 2011), which is entitled "Radical Feminism: Attacking Traditional Society."

          The first few selections deal with important background influences, and then I move into discussion of the essential sexual and familial relations and tensions that have guided male/female life in the human community for eons, but which have been deeply disrupted by radical ideology of late.

          The thesis is that much of the current Anti-male/Anti-Biological Gender/Anti-Traditional Family attack began with Radical Feminism ... which was, and remains, rooted in the tired Marxist insistence on "systemic" oppression(s) that produce our contemporary inequalities and discontents. Marx was mostly blaming what he considered to be economic oppressions (owners of capital oppressing the workers of the world, etc).

          But that was just the beginning of a broader and deeper moral shift away from individual responsibility for one's own condition in life, to "blaming the system." And it signalled an ideological shift in the Western world away from what I call the "starting-line equality" we all used to believe was essential to human flourishing (the New World was considered the Fresh New Starting-Line for so many modern settlers and immigrants!), toward the present "finish-line equality" that today dominates the public mind (the notion that human inequality is intolerable because many classes of citizens are victims of systemic bias: economic, sexual, gender, racial, etc., etc.).

           And so ... government policies must now adjust every perceived inequality of outcome, by penalizing those with perceived advantages, and selectively subsidizing, and adjusting laws to equalize, the conditions of those with perceived systemic disadvantages.

           Anyone can sense the deep anger, and resolve to change the Finish-Line conditions of human life even in the handful of the early radical complaints listed below.  These are not people who want to soften, or tweak, or moderately alter some of the ordinary conditions of human life in the hope of a greater happiness for all. No. They hate human life as it is, and this can be seen in the words they use, such as as they "demand" "abolition", or the "Whole transformation" of society, or the complete "end of marriage"; or to "change the entire structure" of society, etc.In other words, if you can't improve something in the human condition, you decide to destroy it completely and start over.

            Violent language precedes actual violence. They all want to change the world as it is in the name of a perfect future world they imagine themselves to be creating and managing for the rest of us, but that no one has ever seen before in all of human history.  These are dangerous dreamlanders who are not above using the force of law and the violence of the state to re-organize everyone else's life to suit their personal preferences.

 

******************

"It will be plain that the first condition for the liberation of the wife is to bring the whole female sex into public industry, and that this in turn demands the abolition of the monogamous family as the economic unit of society."

 ~ Friedrich Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State (1884) 

 

"You see, we want a whole transformation of society in the most revolutionary way . . ."

~ Louise Dulude, former President, of Canada's National Action Committee on the Status of Women (1987).

 

"The end of the institution of marriage is a necessary condition for the liberation of women. Therefore it is important for us to encourage women to leave their husbands ..."

~  US "Declaration of Feminism," November, 1971

 

"My goal in life is to change the entire social and economic structure of Western civilization, to make it a feminized world."

~ From obituary notice for Canadian activist Marilyn French (National Post, May 7, 2009).

 

 

Thursday
Jun152017

How Libertarian-Socialism Works

This is the brief email I just sent off to an intellectually-curious Brazilian physician who writes to me from time to time about the condition of the West:

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Frankly, I think the West is on a flawed course at this point in its history. But (forgive the flagrant self-promotion) as I have outlined in The Great Divide, and elsewhere, what I call "Libertarian-socialism" (not perfectly either, but a fusion of these two ideologies), is now the main regime-type of the Western world.
This was a type that had to be created by the West to resolve the deep contradiction into which it had fallen by embracing two conflicting political philosophies at the same time: classical liberalism, and egalitarianism. You can't put these two ideologies - the most freedom, and the most public control - together, without eventual doctrinal confusion and collapse. 
The confusion was avoided by fission and fusion: by splitting our former unified body-politic into two new bodies: a private body, and a public body - to produce libertarianism of the private body; and socialism of the public body, then fusing them in what I call "libertarian-socialism."
This fusion satisfies all parties: our mass publics, because they get the a broad range of once-forbidden sexual and bodily pleasures and acts (free-love, homo-sex; easy divorce; abortion; pornography; easy access to drugs; transgendering; etc); and also our egalitarian-type social-engineers, because once such publics are stupefied by their own pleasures and bodily liberties, political reality can be manipulated with minimal protest, coast-to-coast.
This type is has never been seen before in human history. It was not possible in the past because our two clashing public ideologies did not exist, and in any case there was not enough wealth to provide states with sufficient tax harvests to bring about such regimes. But the rapidly-increasing wealth of the West over the past hundred years (and still rising fast), is sufficient to provide immense tax-harvesting to fund all achievable quasi-socialistic programs. When understood in this way, you might say the publics of the West have lulled themselves into a kind of statist-passivity by way of indulgence of their own once-forbidden appetites.
 
What can be done about the vastly-increased top-down control now so visible in these regimes? 
Nothing much. This is far too vast, deep, and novel a movement, combining three powerful and natural things: the human desire for sexual and bodily self-indulgence (never before permitted to such a degree); the equally-powerful human desire to be free of all external control of these aspects of private life; and finally, the egalitarian idealism and desire to control others (the libido-dominandi) of the bureaucratic classes of these regimes - all floated thanks to enormous tax harvests unprecedented in human history.
As long as Western publics continue to accept the Faustian deal: to surrender so many of their former ideals of personal, and family, and political, economic, and property rights and principles of self-reliance, and responsibility to their own governments, in exchange for their new sexual and bodily liberties, libertarian-socialism is here to stay!