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  An American Manifesto
Saturday March 28, 2015 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter

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CHAPTERS

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 BLOG

Anita Sarkeesian: The Road from Individual to Victim

CANADIAN critic and social justice warrior Anita Sarkeesian is the young lady that stirred up #gamergate. So far so good. But I recently got to view remarks she made at All About Women 2015 at the Sydney Opera House (H/T Susan L. M. Goldberg). In her prepared remarks Sarkeesian described her journey from neo-liberal individualist to feminist victim.

This is fascinating to me because of my three-stage theory of social membership. Simply put, my theory imagines three types of people. There are the People of the Subordinate Self: think workers, peasants, serfs, slaves, bondsmen, underclass. Their creed is collectivism; their place is the village. Then there are People of the Responsible Self: think Jews, Christians, careers, bourgeoisie, markets, business. Their creed is responsible individualism; their place is the city. Finally there are the People of the Creative Self: think artists, writers, revolutionaries, activists. Their creed is expressive individualism; their place is the artist's colony.

Now, it is my notion that you need a religion when you move from one selfhood to another. The Axial Age religions, including Judaism and Christianity, are vehicles that help people on the road from the world of the Subordinate Self to the world of the Responsible Self. Romanticism is the vehicle if you want to graduate from the creed of responsible individualism to the belief system of expressive individualism.

What I had never thought about is what religion you need if you want to go in the opposite direction! Suppose that you were born into a family in the middle class but you don't feel like a responsible individual at all? Suppose you find that you are really a victim, a member of the tribe of the exploited and the oppressed? Perfectly simple. For you there is leftism. Here is Anita Sarkeesian describing her journey.

Like most people who grew up immersed in the neoliberal ideology of the West, I saw the world largely as a series of individuals making their own personal individual choices. And here I was, a young woman making my own personal choices about what to wear, what to buy, what to study and what I wanted to do every day. Within that narrow individualist framework feminism seemed like a relic of the distant past.
 But then she had her Road to Damascus experience.
With the help of some amazing mentors and by reading a lot of feminist writing, especially the words of women of color and queer women from around the world, I learned to see through a sociological lens and understand the world as it really exists, as a series of intersecting social systems. Once you have a systemic and institutional framework, you see how oppression manifests in many subtle ways under the systems of what bell hooks calls “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy”.
Well, of course! It all dovetails! But there is a problem.
 Unfortunately many contemporary discourses in and around feminism tend to emphasize a form of hyper individualism (informed by the neoliberal worldview). More and more, I hear variations on this idea that anything that any woman personally chooses to do is a feminist act, this attitude is often referred to as “choice feminism”. Choice feminism posits that each individual woman determines what is empowering for herself, which might sound good on the surface but this concept risks obscuring the bigger picture and larger, fundamental goals of the movement by focusing on individual women and a very narrow, individual notion of “empowerment”. It erases the reality that some choices that women make have an enormous negative impact on other women’s lives.
So, you see, unless you go with Sarkeesian's approved feminism you are helping the patriarchy, and you will be shunned. You see, "Even if an individual woman can make patriarchy work for her, it’s still a losing game for the rest of the women on this planet." And that is bad.
And because of how systems of oppression intersect and compound one another, it’s women of color, indigenous women, women living in the global south, women with disabilities, queer women, and transwomen who bare the brunt of those ramifications.
 The bottom line is this:
In order to be a feminist we have a responsibility beyond ourselves, we have a responsibility to each other, and we have a responsibility to work for the collective liberation of all women.
So it's a fantasy to think of yourself as a responsible self and an individualist. Because, really, we aren't individuals at all, but victims, and what we need to do is to "work for the collective liberation of all women."

Now actually I agree with Anita Sarkeesian. We really are victims. Ever since the first families in Mesopotamia got sucked into alluvial agriculture five thousand years ago humans have found themselves "caged" by the new ways. That's the word that Michael Mann uses in The Sources of Social PowerIn other words, once you've abandoned the nomadic ways of the hunter-gatherer and joined a fixed settlement that works the land you are trapped in the new way. For one thing, agriculture supports a lot more people per square mile than nomadism. If you break up agriculture, a ton of people are going to die until the population reduces to a level that can survive on nomadism.

Another thing is that people become less war-like in settled agricultural communities. In nomadic groups all the men are enrolled to fight the border wars against the neighboring groups. In the larger agricultural societies only the warrior class does the fighting, and the borders are much further away. So the death by violence comes down from 500 per 100,000 per year to 50 per 100,000 per year, according the Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature.

In the transition from agricultural to industrial society you get another step in pacification. The nation state is bigger than the feudal barony, and the army of the feudal host is replaced by a professional bureaucratic army. Violent death rate drops from 50 per 100,000 per year to five or even one per 100,000 per year.

Don't mind me, Anita Sarkeesian, but I'd make a wild guess and say that the level of patriarchal oppression comes down with the transition from nomad to agricultural settlement, and again with the transition from agriculture to industry. These days we aren't governed by a landed warrior class, but by an educated elite class -- people like you, Anita Sarkeesian.

If you want to experience vicariously the good old patriarchy in action, read the Iliad. Those Argives and Danaans thought nothing of sacking cities, killing the men, and taking the women as concubines. Raping and pillage where what men did in those days.

But in America, in 1896, a young Norwegian immigrant woman, Helga Estby, walked across the continent to try to win a $10,000 prize. Was she raped and pillaged on the way? Wikipedia doesn't say. But I'd guess that she wasn't.

The truth is that responsible individualism is not liberation; it is a heavy yoke of responsibility: the responsibility to find work, the responsibility to make your own choices, the responsibility to find your own mate, all within the demanding environment of the market economy. It's not surprising that immediately after the rise of capitalism a succession of social and political movements started to yearn for the lost Eden of collectivism, and the liberation from the heavy burdens of life and work under capitalism from which there is no escape.

It is telling that in the university in 2015 women are demanding "safe spaces" from people and ideas that they don't want to face. If you ask me, that's a return to the patriarchy, because people in "safe places" need society to protect them from danger. And who do you think are going to be the protectors?

If life as a responsible individual is tough, the truth is that expressive individualism, the life of the artist and the creator, is even harder. All of us can find a place in the world if we give up our lives to a collective. Most of us can find a place in the world as responsible individuals. But only a few can make it as creators of original work.

So it's not surprising that there are many people like Anita Sarkeesian that long for a simpler, less creative, less responsible life. The trouble is that this liberation in collectivism is not liberating at all. Ask anyone that lived in Soviet Russia or Maoist China.

And Anita Sarkeesian is not really a victim. She is an activist, rough and tough and devilish sly, a leader and an influencer. In fact she is a member of the creative class, having hacked out a place for herself in the sun by developing a significant talent for creative publicity.


perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/27/15 12:30 pm ET


What Would an Islam Reformation Mean?

I love Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali Muslim turned western atheist. Her books Nomad and Infidel are breathtaking views into the crisis in Islam. Now she's just out with Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now and proposed to reform Islam, and I'll be out there buying myself a copy. Meanwhile we have the reviewers. Writes Brian Stewart: The argument in Heretic, Hirsi Ali’s fourth book, is ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/26/15 12:21 pm ET


Ted Cruz, Railsplitter

THE biggest applause line for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speech on March 23, 2015 at Liberty University was his actual announcement that he would run for President of the United States. The second biggest applause line was this: Instead of a president who boycotts Prime Minister Netanyahu, imagine a president who stands unapologetically with the nation of Israel. Yep, those conservative Christian ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/25/15 12:34 pm ET


If Feminism is all about vicitmization, then who will save the victims?

WE all know that the patriarchy is the source of all our problems on the racism, sexism, and homophobia front. But suppose it isn't? Yes, I know. If there is one thing we all agree on it is the evil of the patriarchy that kept women barefoot and pregnant since the dawn of time. But wait a minute! Chaps like Nicholas Wade in Before the Dawn and The Faith Instinct suggest that the invention of ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/24/15 12:24 pm ET


|  March blogs  |  February blogs  |

 FEATURED:

Georg Simmel’s Sociology

Thomas Piketty’s Capital

The Spirit Level

McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Era”

 OPED


OK Liberals: Let's Talk Inequality

I SHOULDN'T have done it, but this week I read a piece by Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post, titled “Democrats’ New Faith.” He’s delighted that President Obama is finally doing something about inequality.

You know the standard Democratic narrative. Back in the good old days middle-class workers had good jobs at union wages. Then Reagan came and threw US ...

more | 01/26/15


Hey Jihadis, Get with the Program!

This year we are celebrating Martin Luther King’s Birthday with an orgy of offense-taking and race-baiting, in the flap over the movie Selma, and who was on first with civil rights in the 1960s, and who gets to clean up with the Oscars. ...

more | 01/24/15


Let's Just Call It "The Muslim Question"

"OK Google. What Went Wrong With Liberalism?"

I Want a President That Loves America

Opeds


 RMC CHAPTER-A-DAY


RMC Contents
Chapter 1: After the Welfare State
Chapter 2: Down in South Carolina and Out in Brooklyn
Chapter 3: Awakenings of Monotheism
Chapter 4: The Nineteenth Century From the Top Down

THE GREAT EVENT of the second millennium was the rise of the world-historical middle class.... more


Chapter 5: The Nineteenth Century From the Bottom Up
Chapter 6: Popular Religion in the Nineteenth Century

 RMC BOOKS


RMC Book of the Day

Friedan, Betty, The Feminine Mystique


RMC Books on Education

Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education

Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system

James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor

James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls

E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in


RMC Books on Law

Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century

F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law

Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract

John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present


RMC Books on Mutual Aid

James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.

David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century

David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state

Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again

David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland


RMC Books on Religion

David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China

Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation

Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state

David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world


 READINGS:

Is Israel Losing Its Soul?
liberal Israeli mourns Netanyahu election win.

Krugmans Fatal Conceit
so, the "austerity" of sequestration didn't hurt, contra Krugman.

Keep Your Worlds Straight
Jonah Goldberg wants you to be socialist authoritarians in your families but not in the bigger world.

Eevil corporation's message in secret code!
FCC’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ Move Imposes 1930s Rules on the Internet

Misunderstanding the millennials
Guess what: Millennials want to move to the suburbs!

> archive

 CCWUD PROJECT

cruel . corrupt . wasteful
unjust . deluded


 


Take the Test!

 THE PROJECT

Work to restore the Road to the Middle Class. Here’s how. Ground it in faith. Grade it with education. Protect it with mutual aid. Defend it with the law. more>>

 THE ARGUMENT

The Road to the Middle Class is a journey from a world of power to a world of trust and love. In religion, it is a journey from power gods that respond to sacrifice and augury to the God who makes a covenant with mankind. In education, it is a journey from the world of the spoken word to the world of the written word. In community, it is the journey from dependence on blood kin and upon clientage under a great lord to the mutual aid and the rules of the self-governing fraternal association. In law it is the journey from the violence of force and feud to the kingŽs peace, the law of contract, and private property.


 TAGS


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990


Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


Education

“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State


Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures


German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Knowledge

Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


Chappies

“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison


 

©2014 Christopher Chantrill

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