…and every otherer othered

Excerpted comments from OG Maribou in blockquotes – with my excerpted replies following:

If you can’t let folks who are traditionally othered decide, ask them what they think you should do and then do that insofar as you can.

And not just about “diversity” issues. Make it a regular practice to wield as little authority as you can get away with.

And if you find yourself making a lot of decisions anyway, best do some really hard soul-searching to be sure you are doing it because you, you particularly are needed – or expected by a strong group consensus that includes the folks whose voices are less often heard – to be deciding, and not for any less valid reason.

(I’m not saying never decide anything. I’m not even saying you shouldn’t run for office, or whatever other job that it is always going to be way easier for a white dude to get – but then try to act on the side of the marginalized and/or less powerful members of your community, and don’t trust your instincts if you find yourself wanting to do otherwise “just in this one special case”.)

Shouldn’t be difficult once you’ve developed the ability and the means to persuade people it’s not in their interest to pursue their interests.

1) people do that ALL the time; 2) it is very much in my interests to live in a more balanced, fair, society with more social cohesion, intellectual richness, and interesting culture; 3) it’s actually a lot easier and more interesting to make fewer decisions and spend more of my time supporting other people’s goals than it would be to rise to the top through “straightforward competitive excellence” (air quotes because I have all the eyebrow-raising for that term, not because you said anything about it). i have to wonder how many other people in positions of power, great or small, might feel that way if they tried it.

If you’re encouraging people not to make decisions, then how can you encourage them to make that decision not to make decisions, and to continue to make the decision, day after day, to abide by that other decision? I’m sure if we talk about this long enough, someone will come along to explain that the luxury to avoid making decisions is a pure product of privilege, or will be wherever the decision not to decide is available as a meaningful decision. What will make it a meaningful decision in those instances will tend to be – or may by definition be – the very fact that it will be a decision against self-interest, but maybe you know of some occupation or line of work where the refusal to make decisions or the inability to make decisions is rewarded with advancement. Now, I can construct scenarios of various types where the refusal to accept or seek advancement can be made to seem advantageous, or advantageous in some higher sense, but then I’m back to the privilege problem: All those people previously denied the right to make decisions now being burdened with this spiritually lower order of existence, as compared to my luxury to explore and enjoy a more rewarding mode of life, while congratulating myself for my efforts helping to build “a more balanced, fair, society with more social cohesion, intellectual richness, and interesting culture” (setting aside the possibility that some of these values may come into conflict with each other, or have been thought to do so).

I don’t know Mr. Vonder Haar at all, but he strikes me as an earnestly well-meaning individual now fielding criticism of the type that amounts to a kind of punishment for declaring himself on the side of those criticizing him – a familiar predicament, or kind of a template for the failure of of those on the side of “social justice” to gain the level of influence that in a socially just world they would both already have and not need.

If you want to talk about earnestly well-meaning individuals now fielding criticism, well, that’s exactly how I feel in response to your comments on my comments.

Obviously, the only correct thing for me to do is to cease to comment, or to comment only passively and approvingly.

Or you could just keep attacking until the person attacked doesn’t bother to comment next time and goes back to only making non-substantive comments about her weekend and the shows she’s been watching. That could work.


The self-abnegation of the othered otherer unto complete quiescence, or inner “self-deportation” unto death in life, appears to be the surest and perhaps most efficient form of affirmative action, and always implicitly the final definition of affirmative action, always an affirmation for others only, since affirmative action would not be a necessarily or meaningfully affirmative action, or wanted or required at all or action at all in something other than a competitive struggle… and so I return to my initial observation in response to Maribou’s “radical” suggestion – or, rather, do not.

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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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