Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sexism, Or Sex?

     'Zeb...I think I understand you at last. You atheist. Aren't you?'
     Zeb looked at me bleakly. 'Don't call me an atheist,' he said slowly, 'unless you are really looking for trouble.'
     'Then you aren't one?' I felt a wave of relief, although I still didn't understand him.
     'No, I am not. Not that it is any of your business. My religious faith is a private matter between me and my God. What my inner beliefs are you will have to judge by my actions...for you are not invited to question me about them. I decline to explain them nor to justify them to you. Nor to anyone-not the Lodge Master nor the Grand Inquisitor, if it comes to that.'
     'But you do believe in God?'
     'I told you so, didn't I? Not that you had any business asking me.'
     'Then you must believe in other things?'
     'Of course I do! I believe that a man has an obligation to be merciful to the weak...patient with the stupid...generous with the poor. I think he is obliged to lay down his life for his brothers, should it be required of him. But I don't propose to prove any of those things; they are beyond proof. And I don't demand that you believe as I do.'
     I let out my breath. 'I'm satisfied, Zeb.'
     Instead of looking pleased he answered, 'That's mighty kind of you, brother, mighty kind! Sorry-I shouldn't be sarcastic. But I had no intention of asking for your approval. You goaded me-accidentally, I'm sure-into discussing matters that I never intended to discuss.'

     [Robert A. Heinlein, “If This Goes On”, in Revolt In 2100]

     No doubt most of my Gentle Readers are puzzling over that citation, especially how it relates to the equally quirky title of this piece, and what could possibly follow the two of them. That’s quite all right; in fact, it’s what I was hoping for.

     Today’s broadside is about unnecessary concepts.

     There are a lot of folks who regard God – specifically, a Supreme Being responsible for Creation and its laws – as an unnecessary concept. They aren’t as numerous as are we who consider Him indispensable, of course, but still, there’s an ample supply. A goodly number of atheists manage to live decent, honorable lives without ever “needing” God to do so. Evangelistic atheists often cite this as “proof” that He doesn’t exist. It’s nothing of the sort, of course, but it does lend substance to their contention that God is “unnecessary” least, for them.

     Many Americans now consider religious beliefs a battlefield to be avoided in general conversation. But even more of us are coming to loathe any mention of certain other concepts:

  • Racism;
  • Sexism;
  • Homophobia;
  • Xenophobia;
  • “Trans”-phobia;

     ...and so on. The subjectivity of these things is enough to drive a man to drink, and not from the top shelf. They’ve ruined many human relationships and have made our national discourse far more painful than it’s ever been before.

     So I’ve decided to do away with them.

     Unnecessary concepts attached to imputations about human attitudes are the principal pollutants of civil discourse today. I listed the worst of them above. There are surely others that currently command less attention, but the five in the list above will do for a start.

     I contend that those “isms” and “phobias” are phantasms: chimeric notions that have never existed, do not exist today, and will never exist at any future time. They have no reality except when employed as rhetorical bludgeons by evil-minded demagogues. We in the Right must immediately take that as our working premise, and alter both our rhetoric and our conduct to match.

     Compare and contrast the following two isms: sexism and Marxism. What do you see when you put them side by side?

  • Sexism denotes an attitude by one sex toward the other; or maybe an attitude by each sex toward itself; or maybe an attitude by each sex toward the other.
  • Marxism is an economic conception that demands that the means of production, as generally understood, should belong to those who labor in them.
  • The sexist is inclined to treat persons of the opposite sex differently from his own, or maybe to treat his own sex as superior or inferior, or maybe both or neither.
  • The Marxist votes for nationalizations and redistributive measures.
  • There is no standard by which to determine whether an individual is a sexist.
  • Marxists can be easily distinguished from non-Marxists by their political conduct.

     A concept that cannot predict is an unnecessary concept. An allegation of sexism cannot predict sufficiently well in any venue to be useful for anything. Therefore, sexism is an unnecessary concept. Quod erat demonstrandum.

     While there are two biological sexes, and statistical differences between them that are essentially inarguable, the concept of sexism cannot be relied upon for anything. I maintain that the same is true for racism, homophobia, et cetera.

     From that position, many good things might flow.

     I’m looking forward to an exchange such as the following:

     Woman: Sexist!
     FWP: (snorts) Do you deny that you’re female?
     Woman: Huh? Well, of course not! But—
     FWP: (imperiously) Are you displeased that I recognize you as female?
     Woman: No, but—
     FWP: Stop right there. You admit to being female, and I recognize you as such. That’s all that’s going on here, so take your mentalist act and skedaddle along. I have nothing more to say to you.

     Many have orated about the Left’s attempt to claim the “moral high ground” with its accusations that conservatives are racists, sexists, et cetera. The point of the exchange above is to suggest that there’s a higher “high ground” that conservatives can claim: that of objective reality itself. The key is to refuse to allow any pretense of validity to the unnecessary concepts of racism, sexism, and so forth, and to insist solely upon what’s real and observable.

     The virtue of this approach is that it treats each individual as an individual. It refuses to see any group or its claims as relevant to relations between individuals. If practiced consistently by enough Americans, it could sweep the Left’s moral pretenses into the ashcan of forgotten rhetoric.

     It would require awareness of context and interlocutor, and more than a little determination. It would demand an absolute refusal to discuss groups or attitudes toward them. It might occasion a few bellows. But it would badly upset the Left’s applecart, because its entire strategy relies upon group affiliation and the “isms,” “phobias,” and other phantasms associated with them.

     Note that what I’ve called “unnecessary concepts” are collectivist concepts. Collectivism is the denial of individual autonomy: the denial of the individual’s rights and responsibilities as a moral agent. It subsumes him into a group that supposedly possesses those things. Strangely, that group is never around to change the oil or take out the garbage when those chores impend.

     Group identification has been promoted as a route toward effectiveness for the weak: “In union there is strength.” But we know, from many decades of experience, that “in union” there is political power, and that power and its benefits will find their way into the hands of the least ethical and most ruthless pursuers. “The little guy” gets only crumbs and promises, if he gets anything at all.

     The dissolution of group-identity politics and claims can begin only with individuals determined to see and relate only to individuals, never to the groups to which they profess allegiance. It rejects groups as obstacles to seeing the individual, in whom all rights and responsibilities really reside. Today it’s the road less traveled by. Taking it, refusing the course of groups and their claims, could make a huge difference.

1 comment:

Stacey said...

I love this post! More example exchanges, please.