Archive for conflict

Merry morning reading …

… from two favourite bloggers.

Atrios:

I do think one element of conservatism is imagining that they’d win the post-apocalyptic feudal games. …

Let’s suppose you’re minding your business in a lovely suburb of Honolulu. Honolulu gets ALL BLOWED UP. But, hey, you don’t die in the initial fireball. OK let’s say you don’t die of radiation poisoning within the next week or two. You’ve survived! That cancer will be along in a few years, but, hey, no worries for now.

Best case scenario, you live in current day Puerto Rico for a bit. No electricity, no water, but, hey, you’re alive. Also, nobody is going to get near your radiation zone. No rescues, no supplies, no nothing. Enjoy your last couple of weeks on Earth, I guess. I suppose you can forage for fruit, for a bit, and as a good conservative you own guns so you can shoot all the “looters” who are trying to take “your” fruit, but…

No, I do not want to survive the initial blast.

Clarissa:

A cultural apparatus always arises to serve the needs of capital. It’s not a conspiracy of any sort, of course. People intuit what would make them more competitive and promote these qualities in themselves, declaring them socially desirable.

What does capital currently need? A rootless labor force that won’t he held back by networks of human relationships from picking up and going whenever capital needs it at this point.

In order to create such a labor force, human relationships need to be devalued and come to be seen as fraught, dangerous, and really not worth the hassle. Remember all these checklists of “How to Support a Bereaved Colleague?” or “How NOT to Talk to a Special Needs Child’s Parent” variety? Obviously, nobody is going to memorize all those laundry lists of prohibitions and exhortations for every occasion. It’s easier to pretend that the bereaved colleague or SNC parent don’t exist.

Another strategy is to displace liquid capital’s qualities, such as unpredictability and endless mutability, onto human relationships. It’s not capital that’s making you feel confused and like you can’t keep up. Oh no, not at all. It’s the changing nature of dating norms and workplace flirtation.

Workplace as a space where people work together for protracted periods of time is positioned as extremely dangerous. Capital prefers self-employed, alienated workers who simply don’t have colleagues they know in person and could, say, form a union with. The next best thing (for capital but clearly not for workers) is a revolving-door office where nobody stays long enough to create any meaningful links.

Enjoy your day, everyone!

[Addendum: My daily feed.]

Abuse Ranking

From the wonderful Melissa McEwan:

My go-to strategy as a younger woman was always to turn incidents of sexual harassment and/or assault into “humorous” anecdotes, which allowed me to talk about what happened without really talking about what happened.

This instinct is the result of, in part, policing women’s lived experiences, a central piece of which is inevitably abuse ranking. 

It goes like this: Your harassment wasn’t as bad as being hit and your being hit wasn’t as bad as being raped and being raped by a boyfriend isn’t as bad as being raped by a relative and being raped by a relative isn’t as bad as genital cutting…

Until many of us feel as though we aren’t allowed to say anything, unless it’s in the context of saying “I didn’t have it that bad” — to express our “good luck” if our suffering hasn’t passed some arbitrary threshold past which survivors will allegedly be allowed to express that we were affected by abuse.

This idea can be expanded: I’ve seen lots of “pain ranking” and “poverty ranking” in my day.

Safekeeping

In this amusing piece on book “acknowledgments,” New York Times writer Jennifer Senior includes this bit of real wisdom:

Family members often make the best editors, because they can speak most bluntly to authors, and they have the next-highest stakes. Guess who has to live with you if your book gets savaged?

An editor needs to protect his or her author from ignominy.

Bad Mess at Evergreen

The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington has earned its renown as an experimental – indeed avant-garde – institution; its ‘progressive’ bona-fides have been warranted as well. Back in the day, I explored the possibility of taking a faculty position in entrepreneurship there. Although it didn’t come through, this institution has remained close to my heart.

A recent controversy at Evergreen has made national news and has placed at least one professor as well as students and staff in potential peril. From the New York Times:

[Professor Bret] Weinstein, who identifies himself as “deeply progressive,” is just the kind of teacher that students at one of the most left-wing colleges in the country would admire. Instead, he has become a victim of an increasingly widespread campaign by leftist students against anyone who dares challenge ideological orthodoxy on campus.

This professor’s crime? He had the gall to challenge a day of racial segregation.

A bit of background: The “Day of Absence” is an Evergreen tradition that stretches back to the 1970s. As Mr. Weinstein explained on Wednesday in The Wall Street Journal, “in previous years students and faculty of color organized a day on which they met off campus — a symbolic act based on the Douglas Turner Ward play in which all the black residents of a Southern town fail to show up one morning.” This year, the script was flipped: “White students, staff and faculty will be invited to leave campus for the day’s activities,” reported the student newspaper on the change. The decision was made after students of color “voiced concern over feeling as if they are unwelcome on campus, following the 2016 election.”

Mr. Weinstein thought this was wrong. The biology professor said as much in a letter to Rashida Love, the school’s Director of First Peoples Multicultural Advising Services. “There is a huge difference between a group or coalition deciding to voluntarily absent themselves from a shared space in order to highlight their vital and under-appreciated roles,” he wrote, “and a group or coalition encouraging another group to go away.” The first instance, he argued, “is a forceful call to consciousness.” The second “is a show of force, and an act of oppression in and of itself.”

Seattle’s The Stranger reports on the “campus lockdown” ordered at Evergreen late this week “after local law enforcement officials received a call with a “direct threat to campus safety'”:

Student activists say they’ve been unfairly maligned. “While it is probably true that some of our strategies were very passionate, they were also peaceful,” an Evergreen student, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote in an e-mail. “And while it might be true there was some ‘harassment’ (a subjective term), it was on the lines of condemnation and scorn, rather than threats and stalking.”

One student, who asked to remain anonymous out of safety concerns, said death threats to campus activists followed Weinstein’s media appearances. “A swastika appeared on campus. Student personal information was published on 4chan channels and other neo-Nazi and violent racist internet communities,” the student told The Stranger.

Said another student: “Calling these people ‘Weinstein supporters’ would be irresponsible of me. These people are mostly organized racists from off campus that use internet presence, anonymity, and misinformation to disrupt a narrative, and the threat of violence to suppress those who would fight back.”

Professor Weinstein fears that his and other students have been placed at risk:

On Twitter, [he] claimed that his student supporters were being threatened online by his critics. He subsequently tweeted: “I’m told people are doxing those that protested against me. I don’t know if it’s true. If it is, *please stop.* No good can come from that.” The biology instructor also said that Evergreen campus police warned him that he was “not safe on campus. They can not protect me.”

Student demonstrators refuted Weinstein’s claims that their supporters had attempted to dox the teacher’s supporters. They believe the media’s focus on Weinstein is a distraction from their chief concern: ongoing issues revolving around racism, sexism, and transphobia at Evergreen.

Many of Weinstein’s faculty colleagues want him punished.

Look at Bret Weinstein’s “Rate My Professors” page.

Here are some of the demands from students who objected to Weinstein’s published statements .

A member of the State Legislature has introduced a bill to de-fund and privatize Evergreen.

As a professor and as a person with many fond memories of the energetic intellectual and moral debates I shared or witnessed as a young student at SUNY/Buffalo and Stanford University, I find this Evergreen mess dismaying to the point of heartbreak.

h/t LH

The discussion has left the room

My friend Clarissa writes,

As a long-time blogger, I know that there is a number of subjects you simply don’t write about if you don’t want to attract a bunch of unhinged fanatics. Breastfeeding, homeschooling, and sexual dysfunction are such subjects. Climate is another. I simply don’t engage and find the whole subject repellent because there’s no upside to talking about it. It’s become the sole purview of disturbed people who use it to soothe their psychological traumas.

There can be no doubt that the climate cause is losing. One would think that after decades of abject failure those who care would at least consider trying to do something other than screeching maniacally at whoever departs half an inch from their orthodoxy.

And it’s not just climate, either. Diversity was a great idea until it was overrun by crazy and vulgar people who destroyed the concept in the service of their dysfunction.

I would add “naming individuals on the ‘gender continuum’” to that list of subjects. Alas.

Sharing a friend

Sharing a friend demands profound courtesy. Enough so that it never shows, or rarely.

“If you are pro Black, pro Hispanic, or pro Asian, why don’t you say so … ?”

After we got back in touch with each other in 2009, Lorraine sent me the correspondence below – between me and a ‘literary agent’ – which she had kept after leaving Prometheus Books decades before.

Lorraine wrote me: “In one of my periodic cleaning binges, lo — my Prometheus ‘DO YOU BELIEVE THIS’ file re-emerged this week, after a disappearance of nigh onto twenty years! The attached provided me with a cascading set of giggles.  I hope you will still find the exchange as amusing as I did.” I did, and do. Thank you, Lorraine.

(I’ve obscured my antagonist’s information.)

Note #1 to my students: The approach I chose here is generally not recommended for your own workplace correspondence. Please stay courteous! Your goal, almost always, is to foster and maintain relationships.

Note #2 to my students: You also might want to avoid misspelling *your own job title* in workplace correspondence. I was the senior “Acquisitions” editor for a year before I remembered that “acquisitions” has a “c” in it. (That was around the same time I was shocked to see that “smooth” wasn’t spelled “smoothe.”)

PS – The “LMP” is The Literary Marketplace guide.

aquisitions

johnagenty