Friday 29th of May 2020

our different selves deserve respect through social justice. we're not freaks...

not a freak

Rod Dreher foams at the mouth with delights…

Rod writes:

I’m reading one of the best books I’ve ever seen, historian Yuri Slezkine’s The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution. It’s a massive — over 1,000 pages — history of the Bolshevik movement, focusing on the people who lived in a vast apartment building constructed across the Moskva River from the Kremlin, for party elites. In the 1930s, during the purges, it was the most dangerous address in the country. The secret police came for people there all the time.

The book has given me a breakthrough in understanding why so many people who grew up under communism are unnerved by what’s going on in the West today, even if they can’t all articulate it beyond expressing intense but inchoate anxiety about political correctness. Reading Slezkine, a UC-Berkeley historian, clarifies things immensely. Let me explain as concisely as I can. All of this is going into the book I’m working on, by the way.

In my book, I identify two main factors that make the “soft totalitarianism” we’re drifting into different from the hard totalitarianism of the communist years. One is the vastly greater capabilities of surveillance technology, and its penetration into daily life in this current stage of capitalism. The other is the pseudo-religion of Social Justice, the holy trinity of which is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The mathematician James Lindsay last year wrote an insightful essay analyzing Social Justice ideology as a kind of postmodern religion (“faith system,” he writes). Reading Slezkine on Bolshevism illuminates this with new depth.


Okay, Dreher has found a massive chink in secularism and is writing a book about it. Thus secularism is bad because it relies on the pseudo-religion of “Social Justice”…

Is Social Justice an absolute notion or a relative notion? What is "Social Justice”? A religion? You’re nuts! What is wrong with Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion? Should our social system still rely on Popes in Rome wearing funny hats? Or pray to a guy who got crucified by mistake 2000 years ago, in the hope that we’ll survive with enough food to live, despite being poor because the system allows rich people to rob us daily?

Yes, in his long essay that has too many words, James Lindsay gravely starts so:

Social Justice and Religion

First, to address some housekeeping, for the purposes of this essay, I will use Social Justice with capital S and J to refer to two things simultaneously. One, it references a manner of approaching social justice-relevant topics through a rather inflexible moral ideology that is most readily identifiable with identity politics and political correctness (along with the more recent buzzworded concepts of equity, diversity, and inclusion). Specifically, this is a social philosophy profoundly concerned with effecting liberation from oppression, with “oppression”defined by what is known as postmodern critical theory (not the Frankfurt School stuff that goes by the same name—the two meanings are explained here). Two, it represents the loose coalitions of people who subscribe to this ostensibly “progressive” view of identity and society. These people have been variously called “regressive leftists,” “identitarians,” and, more pejoratively, “Social Justice Warriors (SJWs)” in common parlance over the last half decade.

To get straight to the point, Social Justice exhibits many religion-like qualities, perhaps enough to earn it that designation. I will not make that argument, however. I will instead contend that Social Justice is a similar kind of thing to the thing religions are. The take-home point of this essay, then, is that whether or not Social Justice is a religion, it is certainly religion-like enough to treat in a way that’s similar to how we should treat religions—that is, we should approach them with an attitude generally associated with secularism. Social Justice will not like this because it is likely to enable a necessary corrective to its current bid for institutional and cultural power.

Of important note, here’s what’s not being said: that religion is bad and therefore Social Justice is bad because it’s so much like a religion. That is not my argument. My argument is neutral in this regard. It is...


Okay, hold it there, James!… Enough is enough… What you are saying, James, is that apples and oranges are fruit… We know. But as soon as you say your argument is neutral (in this regard) this means that whatever follows is going to be seriously hollow, wafty, long-winded, tortuously off-the-planet, two sided, culturally vacuous, full of variegated if and buts, uncommitted drivelling wallpaper with luscious inverted commas and a conclusion that can’t hold any water, and by the way forgetting to complain about the disservices from religious beliefs based on fairy tales, a stupid sin and a hope of eternally collecting stamps… 

The apple in heaven is rotten. See. it’s simple. Religion is rotten at the core. And whether the orange of social justice is bitter or not, we have the choice of eating a rotten apple or a sour/sweet orange of secularity as the case may be. Please note that despite what some loony analysts venture to say, there is no spiritualism nor spirituality in “Social Justice”. There is a decision to accept a human value in our relationships.


And at best this value is still going to be relative between each others and between us and the agreed system that helps maintain a level of civil relationships… If it was perfect, this system would be the top samplar of social system for all aliens in the universe… It’s not perfect. We’re not perfect, but we should make our best efforts for all to have the best possible life. This is where “Social Justice” can help...

And there will some of us with better ability than others, due to many factors, including function, age and education. Education is the big social flux. Are we going to teach our kids about Christ having been crucified to remove our sin we did not know we had or teach about social and civic relationships in which Social Justice plays a part towards some respect, despite differences?

At least, James Lindsay dares to take a punt:

Social Justice makes sense in a postmodern context; religion doesn’t; and there’s likely no going back on this without some calamity that erases the progress of Modernity.

So, Modernity has made progress under secularity, has it not? But have we got a long way to go, without recreating a Bolshevik system? Have we got to pay attention to global warming which might be the great leveller of “Social Justice” sooner than we think? Has Rod Dreher read this Lindsay article or skimmed through it? If he has read it carefully, how come is he coming to a silly conclusion about it? Is James Lindsay trying to catch flies with religious honey and secular vinegar at the same time?

Do we have to go back to the concept of the “Social Contract” of Rousseau (who was a chauvinist pig by the way, but so far a better thinker than Rod and James)?… 

The unsung person in these social constructs is Denis Diderot, the good man.

"All things must be examined, debated, investigated without exception and without regard for anyone's feelings."

"Watch out for the fellow who talks about putting things in order! Putting things in order always means getting other people under your control.

"The Christian religion teaches us to imitate a God that is cruel, insidious, jealous, and implacable in his wrath.

"No man has received from nature the right to command his fellow human beings."

Is “Social Justice” preventing us to control someone else? is it a small part of our Social Contract? How do we grade individuals? Are the downtrodden fair game for cartoonists and politicians? 

Social Justice is a bit like individual freedom versus the survival of the group. All this has taken many flavours over the previous centuries with Kings ruling the roost with god on their side, sending the deplorables to be fodder on battlefields for glorious victory or ransomed defeat…

With secularity and hopefully godless democracy, we’ve beaten these manufactured dangerous "demons" with new thingsters — we call entertainment. 

"In general, children, like men, and men, like children, prefer entertainment to education." (Diderot)

We’re compulsive doers… Social Justice is an important RELATIVE game to give anyone a chance to play. Some people take it as their profession because not all of us can be plumbers. Hence the need for “diversity” of employment, of supply and — of gender. Gus note: In some museums in Europe, I’ve seen babies in formaldehyde jars exhibiting both sexes. Had they lived, at some point, a choice would have (or not) been made. Next jars had a baby with two heads and one with four legs… Sometimes, we survive and rather than being freaks, we demand and deserve respect — through SOCIAL JUSTICE. It's our right. It’s not a sin… Social Justice isn’t a sin… In another social construct, including the Nazi, we might have been sacrificed or killed for being different and not wearing a feathered hat...

Go easy with the mustard…

Gus Leonisky
Local Mustardeer...

we deserve better...


All this started from Rod Dreher reading a book about the Bolsheviks which does not show them as very nice people. On the same level, Christians, Nazis and Pol Pot have had their moments of not being nice people. Nor were the French Revolutionaries like Robespierre and Marat…. Sometimes we have to make do with something that helps all along and prevent some of us from ripping off the system. We’re a social species with loose connections at that level but strong genetic bonds. The end of James Lindsay's article still paddles with the concept of guilt, which translates as sin in the religious sphere. We deserve better...



Rod Dreher should have lived through the persecution of the Cathars...

social justice can mean a roof over one's head...

When grandmother Maurya Bourandanis became homeless in her mid-50s, one of the places she would sleep was a park bench outside a theatre in Melbourne's inner south.

Key points:
  • Ms Bourandanis is one of six formerly homeless women performing in a new play named UnHOWsed
  • The cast hope the play will help educate the community on the importance of social housing
  • Their experiences mirror a growing trend of older women experiencing homelessness in Australia


"The bench was nice in the summer but not so nice in winter," Ms Bourandanis said.

"You're always open to being sexually assaulted when you're sleeping rough.

"And then there's just the people who don't like that you're on the streets. There was once three people who came up and started kicking me.

"To make my way, I did do jobs as a working girl on corners. It's something that I'm not ashamed of but I don't recommend it because it's not fun."

Ten years on, Ms Bourandanis is one of six formerly homeless women over the age of 50 who have turned their experiences into a theatrical production, UnHOWsed. 

In a twist of fate, UnHOWsed is being performed at the same theatre that Ms Bourandanis used to sleep outside.


Read more:



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poverty isn't social justice...

Meet John. He's 59, and used to be a teacher. 

He's also been job hunting for a decade, but has been rejected for even the most menial tasks. 

"It's just a waste of time, they laugh at you," the single father said.

Key points:
  • Almost 900,000 people in NSW live below the poverty line, research by the state's Council of Social Service found
  • More than one in six children live in poverty
  • The poverty line is defined as earning 50 per cent less than the median household income


John, who wanted his surname withheld, is one of almost 900,000 people in NSW living below the poverty line, according to data released today by the NSW Council of Social Service (NCOSS).

Despite a strong state economy, more than one in six children across the state are living in poverty, and women are more likely to experience disadvantage than men.

Living below the poverty line is defined as earning 50 per cent less than the median Australian household income.

In Sydney, the most significant economic disadvantage is seen in the western suburbs of Guildford, Ashcroft, Miller, Fairfield and Lakemba.

In regional areas, Jesmond, Shortland, Port Kembla, Warrawong and Nambucca Heads are doing it the toughest.

John said he was lucky to have a roof over his head in Sydney but the expenses that come with such "a luxury" make life a constant battle.

"I manage on about $70 left over after all the bills … sometimes $20 per week," he said.

"And I always budget an extra $40 a week for my daughter … she comes first."

He often turns to homeless support services for food and said he had registered with four job agencies who had all told him the same thing — employers don't want men over 45.

"I want to do the right thing by my family, like many other middle-aged men, but it's hard," he said.

The NCOSS research found even securing work was not certain to alleviate financial pressure for people living below the poverty line.

According to their report, 107,000 full-time workers and over 76,000 part-time workers across NSW are living in poverty.

"Having a job doesn't make you immune," NCOSS chief executive Joanna Quilty said.

"And the notion that you can find cheaper housing on the edge of the city or if you move to the country, is not the case any longer."

Although there are more full-time workers in Sydney under the poverty line, those in the regions still experience far greater disadvantage due to isolation and increased costs.

This is particularly true for single-parent households — 65 per cent of which in far western NSW live in serious poverty.


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learning from the beasts...

An enduring story plot finds a youth suddenly alone in the world, struggling to find shelter from the elements, safety from predators, food, and new friends. These struggles usually involve some tough lessons but ultimately lead to knowledge, a new identity, self-reliance, and maybe even love. In Wildhood, this theme comes to exhilarating life as evolutionary biologist Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and science writer Kathryn Bowers describe the challenges faced by adolescent animals.

The book relates the coming-of-age stories of a king penguin named Ursula, a hyena named Shrink, a humpback whale named Salt, and a European wolf named Slavc—all adolescent animals and research subjects followed by field biologists. We meet Ursula as she leaves her parents for the first time and jumps daringly into the icy sea filled with hungry leopard seals. We watch Shrink, who has an unusual knack for social situations, rise in the stark hierarchy of hyenas. We observe Salt develop desire and navigate courtship and consent among “rowdy groups” of bull whales and follow Slavc as he sets out on an epic journey across the Alps in winter.

In addition to these four stories, the authors include smaller anecdotes and gleanings from observations of other wild animals and human youth, all members of the “horizontal tribe of adolescents.” On a single page, you might meet bald eagles, flying foxes, salamanders, and fruit flies. Collectively, the stories illustrate four competencies: how to stay safe, how to live with others, how to communicate sexually, and how to leave the nest and care for oneself.

Learning to stay safe involves taking risks and getting close to danger. The first pages of the book introduce readers to a group of adolescent sea otters in California that swim in the “Triangle of Death,” where great white sharks lurk and there are few places to hide. In choosing to swim where no others dare, those that survive learn to identify and evade predators. Additional examples—from clueless farmed salmon to human teenagers at scary movies—emphasize the fact that some level of risk-seeking behavior may make individuals safer, more informed adults.

If you are wondering how much protection is appropriate for a human teenager, the authors explain that there is considerable variation in the wild. Opossum mothers take their offspring out for practice overnights sleeping away from home, while other animal parents barely look up as their uninformed offspring waddle, flap, or dash away.

Some animals, like some kids, never leave home. In the animal kingdom, this can be a rather good strategy. Male western bluebirds that stick around for the winter sometimes inherit their parents' territory, and there are red squirrel mothers who fill up caches for their young and then move out, leaving behind a proven territory for their lucky offspring.


Read more:

Science  27 Sep 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6460, pp. 1386