not discussing a conservative understanding of the sexual division of labor

Referring to a set of options for dealing with men undergoing a supposed “loss of unearned privilege,” Kazzy says:

It’s not clear to me which of those [options] CKM is advocating. What must be remembered is that harm is being done by the mere existence of privilege. It might be unseen or unfelt, especially to those in privilege, or so baked in that even the victims do not actively realize it’s presence, but it is there. Every day. Which is why calls for patience can be so frustrating.

Could be it’s not clear to Kazzy, and others, which of those answers to a supposed question of loss of privilege CKM is advocating because CKM does not advocate and would not advocate any of them.1 CKM does not accept that the questions to be answered have been properly framed or their terms properly defined either by Kazzy or by any other participants, including CKM himself, on this 619-comment (and counting) discussion thread on this at least fourth League of Ordinary Gentlemen post on a derided and belittled recent set of statements by certain lesser media-political celebrities regarding gender norms. CKM rejects the definition of privilege adopted earlier in the discussion, in particular the prejudicial attachment of the adjective “unearned” to that central term “privilege.” CKM also rejects any sharp distinction between “privilege” and “right” since it neglects both the connection between the two terms going back to the Middle Ages as well as their specifically modern, liberal, and democratic co-articulation in or as a realm of “privacy” in the law, or of “private law” or “private right”: or the rights and privileges of citizenship in a democratic republic or under the reign of the generalized particular or society of individuals.2 CKM remains unconvinced that a conservative or traditional point of view on the sexual division of labor – on a desirable and necessarily generalized description of the rights and responsibilities (or privileges and duties) of men, and of the rights and responsibilities of women – has been even minimally comprehended, much less taken seriously, by many of those prepared and eager to dismantle and experimentally replace it or its remnants. For a conservative, the dismissive ignorance and one-sidedness of the discussion will be distressing and symptomatic in themselves, and be taken as further evidence that functional positive ideals of manhood and womanhood, rather than being systematically suppressed on behalf of faulty and incoherent social theories, should be inculcated from an early age and reinforced at every opportunity. It tends to fall to CKM to describe this perspective not because CKM is convinced of its adequacy, but because no one else seems willing or able to do so, perhaps least of all or least effectively its self-styled defenders. For political purposes that are not CKM’s purposes, CKM ends up appearing to be “on the side” of American political conservatives, whose approach to these matters CKM finds unsupportable and which he suspects will be as destructive in relation to their announced ends as the approach or approaches of American political progressives will finally be to theirs. CKM suspects that moving beyond these circumstances of a social and political fabric being gradually un-knit from both ends may not be possible at all. CKM might be open to being persuaded otherwise, but CKM’s lack of a personal stake in the discussion, except as a discussion purely, may make him less likely to be persuaded at all, just as it leaves him without any sufficient interest in explaining why his disinterested perspective, though obviously also pessimistic, is not simply pessimistic. CKM remains skeptical that a truly persuasive argument can be derived from the same presumptions whose elaboration both intellectually and objectively already is that same gradual systemic self-unwinding in search of irrevocable self-disappearance. To go much further would require a willingness to suspend judgment and start as though at a beginning, yet from closer to an end, by all participants. That requirement, the one thing required, will always be too much to require.


  1. Reference throughout is to (very extensive) discussion under “Some mansplaining on women’s access to the workplace” by Tod Kelly at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen blog. Kazzy’s suggested options are:

    “There are people harmed by ceasing this privilege. Therefore we should not cease privilege.”


    “There are people harmed by ceasing this privilege. We should temper our efforts to cease privilege to minimize their harm.”


    “There are people harmed by ceasing this privilege. We should be mindful of their harm and mitigate it where possible such that we do not interfere with ceasing the privilege.”


  2. The right or privilege or right-as-privilege and privilege-as-right of presuming those rights and privileges to be universal, inalienable, self-evident, etc., and in those senses simple rights that do not have to earned, would under the selfsame liberal democratic theory that defines such right or privilege always need itself first to be earned, as through revolution, then re-earned (as unearned) through responsible exercise, elaboration, and protection. []

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4 comments on “not discussing a conservative understanding of the sexual division of labor

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  1. So are certain opinions, mere ‘doubleunplusgood’ or actually thoughtcrime, I’m a little perplexed, of course, Erickson, as a general rule, starts with the ‘turtles all the way down’

  2. No, the problem lies a little differently, it is illiberal in the classical sense, distinctions between the genders are not arbitrary, Erickson and Bryant, are possibly the mostly clueless polemicists on that point.

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Noted & Quoted

TV pundits and op-ed writers of every major newspaper epitomize how the Democratic establishment has already reached a consensus: the 2020 nominee must be a centrist, a Joe Biden, Cory Booker or Kamala Harris–type, preferably. They say that Joe Biden should "run because [his] populist image fits the Democrats’ most successful political strategy of the past generation" (David Leonhardt, New York Times), and though Biden "would be far from an ideal president," he "looks most like the person who could beat Trump" (David Ignatius, Washington Post). Likewise, the same elite pundit class is working overtime to torpedo left-Democratic candidates like Sanders.

For someone who was not acquainted with Piketty's paper, the argument for a centrist Democrat might sound compelling. If the country has tilted to the right, should we elect a candidate closer to the middle than the fringe? If the electorate resembles a left-to-right line, and each voter has a bracketed range of acceptability in which they vote, this would make perfect sense. The only problem is that it doesn't work like that, as Piketty shows.

The reason is that nominating centrist Democrats who don't speak to class issues will result in a great swathe of voters simply not voting. Conversely, right-wing candidates who speak to class issues, but who do so by harnessing a false consciousness — i.e. blaming immigrants and minorities for capitalism's ills, rather than capitalists — will win those same voters who would have voted for a more class-conscious left candidate. Piketty calls this a "bifurcated" voting situation, meaning many voters will connect either with far-right xenophobic nationalists or left-egalitarian internationalists, but perhaps nothing in-between.

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Understanding Trump’s charisma offers important clues to understanding the problems that the Democrats need to address. Most important, the Democratic candidate must convey a sense that he or she will fulfil the promise of 2008: not piecemeal reform but a genuine, full-scale change in America’s way of thinking. It’s also crucial to recognise that, like Britain, America is at a turning point and must go in one direction or another. Finally, the candidate must speak to Americans’ sense of self-respect linked to social justice and inclusion. While Weber’s analysis of charisma arose from the German situation, it has special relevance to the United States of America, the first mass democracy, whose Constitution invented the institution of the presidency as a recognition of the indispensable role that unique individuals play in history.

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[E]ven Fox didn’t tout Bartiromo’s big scoops on Trump’s legislative agenda, because 10 months into the Trump presidency, nobody is so foolish as to believe that him saying, “We’re doing a big infrastructure bill,” means that the Trump administration is, in fact, doing a big infrastructure bill. The president just mouths off at turns ignorantly and dishonestly, and nobody pays much attention to it unless he says something unusually inflammatory.On some level, it’s a little bit funny. On another level, Puerto Rico is still languishing in the dark without power (and in many cases without safe drinking water) with no end in sight. Trump is less popular at this point in his administration than any previous president despite a generally benign economic climate, and shows no sign of changing course. Perhaps it will all work out for the best, and someday we’ll look back and chuckle about the time when we had a president who didn’t know anything about anything that was happening and could never be counted on to make coherent, factual statements on any subject. But traditionally, we haven’t elected presidents like that — for what have always seemed like pretty good reasons — and the risks of compounding disaster are still very much out there.

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