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joined 2024 January 03 22:10:41 UTC


User ID: 2832



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User ID: 2832

It makes sense to guard against this sort of tactic even if it's just a possibility

If you don’t care at all about speaking in good faith, then yes, it does make perfect sense.

If you personally weren't going to use any such tricks, blame the left-wing abusers you describe, for messing things up for honest people like you.

So your rules appear to be “many left-wing people are bad because they argue in bad faith, but when I do that, it’s actually still the left’s fault because they made me do it”.

For the millionth time, I have to argue - why don’t they get this excuse? Why isn’t their bad-faith argumentation justified by yours?

For example, you mentioned the Border people of the Scottish lowlands, and the Scotch-Irish of Ulster, who played an important role in US history - go back a thousand years for the second half of the first millenium though and you'll see that these peoples are descendants of Irish colonists in western Britain

Are you saying that the group that was essentially sent by the English to colonise Ireland during the Plantation was actually in large part the descendants of earlier Irish colonists who had migrated to western Scotland? And are you referring to Irish colonisation by the Viking kingdom based in Dublin in the late first millennium, or are you referring to an Irish colonization that happened much earlier?

Define "extremely important."

Uh ... no, I don't think I will try to define the word "extremely" for you? Was there something unclear about the words "extremely important"? I consider this is a silly and pedantic demand.

If you're willing to radically restructure all of society to take racial differences into account, then you definitely think they're extremely important. I don't think I need a more precise definition than that.

Do you deny that you consider racial divisions extremely important? I don't see how you could deny that, so this entire line of argument just feels like a waste of time.

racial divisions have zero relevance to American society? Surely this is not your claim.

You are correct that this ridiculous strawman that probably a only single-digit number of Americans believe is not my position, yes.

Why is it so confounding or difficult for you to grapple with the idea that a person who does so could reach the conclusions I’ve reached?

Because they're so obviously and immediately falsified by the daily experience of people who live in racially mixed areas, and by the history you say you've read, that I have to visualise your brain as metaphorically surrounded by the things they put on horses' heads to prevent them from seeing sideways.

I think you’re really underestimating the groundswell of people who are starting to flirt with a lot of the same observations I’m talking about.

God, I hope you're wrong. That's all I'll say about that.

The statements you listed seem like obvious examples of racism, so your definition seems like a poor one.

That … was my point, yes? The point was that “clearly and consistently stated personal animus” is trivially a bad definition for “racism” in that it fits basically none of the actual examples that nearly everyone agrees to be racist, and yet many here consider the idea that racism can include unconscious bias to be some recent redefinition of the term that makes it meaningless.

I've engaged in a large number of productive discussions that started with a comment very similar to "the right-wing conception of free speech is incoherent", and those discussions have shaped my thinking on the nature of rights and government.

Again, that’s precisely my point! The discussions start there, not finish! Almost everyone here who wants to argue “leftists have abused the term ‘racism’ into meaninglessness” are specifically saying that because they do not want to have a conversation about what racism is; they are trying to end the discussion there. The equivalent for free speech would be, if a right-wing person started talking about any more nuanced idea of what free-speech is than some ridiculous strawman, and I responded with “this entire discussion is a trap and I refuse to engage”. The moment a right-wing person says “free speech”, I get to assert that they can only mean the dumbest and most incoherent version of that concept, and when they try to explain that they don’t, I plug my ears and say that what’s coming is a deliberate trap.

Do you honestly think most of the regulars here would disagree with the above in principle? Of the ones who would disagree, do you honestly think they'd claim not to be racist? There's varying degrees of actual WNs here, and seeing them explicitly argue that racism is good, actually is hardly an unknown occurrence.

As I’ve said, there’s something very honest about the open white nationalists, as much as I disagree with everything they stand for. Frankly I don't consider them reachable; I'll be cordial enough but I don't think there's realistically any chance I could change their minds or they mine; the worlds we see and our values are just too far apart. What frustrates me more are the Classical Liberals who will tell me that racism has been abused into meaninglessness by the Left and so what does it even mean anymore, who can possibly know, I guess we’ll just have to ditch this entire memeplex completely because it’s corrupted, when they’re surrounded by white nationalists.

(Seriously, guys, your “like, what even is racism anyway, man? Is it even, like, a thing?” comment does not feel very genuine to me when you have to have scrolled past the white nationalists responding to me to make it in the first place. Imagine being a libertarian in a left-wing space where your responses were three-fourths "Conservatives and neolibs will call absolutely anything Communism these days, they've turned that word into complete meaninglessness, like are there even any actual communists left? Whenever a right-winger says something is Communist I just ignore them" and one-fourth "Stalin did nothing wrong and we must immediately enact a worldwide dictatorship of the proletariat and seize the means of production". I know it's cringe but the only word that I can think of to describe the effect of this is "gaslighting".)

What frustrates me more is suspecting that the Classical Liberal in question is not that classically liberal at all.

I do think that most of the regulars here, excluding the white nationalists, will resolutely refuse to engage the question of whether “racism-as-unconscious-bias” is a meaningful concept or not in that it points to an actually existing thing in the world that is useful to point out, yes, doing their absolute best to derail that conversation at every stage. I think that they will argue that because the Left has abused that term into meaninglessness, we can’t have any discussion at all about this, and so I guess if a leftist wants to call them racist, then it just do be like that sometimes. I think they will temporarily adopt definitions of racism that require conscious and explicit bias without noting that this trivially doesn’t work for almost all of the standard cases. I think that they will talk about how Ibram X Kendi is dumb, or liken anti-racism to a religion, or talk about superweapons and cancel culture and free speech and thoughtcrime, and generally do anything possible to avoid the question I’m trying to drive towards.

That’s just … been my experience, at least, as I remember it.

If you start posting in a form, you should learn some of the forum's jargon.

Guy, I know exactly what the term is being used to mean; that’s precisely why I said it’s pointless jargon. I appreciate the gatekeeping, though. Extremely normal behaviour to unofficially require everyone posting be familiar with the collected works of one specific blogger, even to the point of constantly referencing some of the stuff from a decade ago that he’d probably rather you forgot about. (This last bit is a reference to the “paranoid rant” from way back when, by the way, in case it wasn’t clear.)

That's a trick question, because the next question will be a gotcha which takes his answer but substitutes racism as you define it for racism as he defines it. If he says that racism is bad, you can then act as though he agrees that some progressive bugaboo that's commonly called racist is bad.

Highly good-faith argumentation on display here. Do I get to write fanfic about the various dishonest and hypocritical things you’re going to say to me and then assert my fanfic as indisputable fact, or do only you and nyb get to do that for me?

Except when an argument depends on accumulated experience, like his time in academia.

You say this like arguments that depend on accumulated experience are some weird niche issue that barely ever comes up in real life.

If I were to negatively compare someone to a 15-year-old, what I would typically mean is along the lines of "You're making the same mistakes that most of us grew out of when we were early teenagers, but somehow you haven't learned from them yet". For example, talking like a sesquipedalian thesaurus and thinking it makes you sound intelligent (it does - but not to intelligent people), failing to clearly distinguish between the real world and one's own feelings, being unable to model other people as independent agents with their own desires and fears, and so on.

What I’m saying is that “racist” has always been a slur. That it was coined by someone who intended it to refer to a cluster of things he thought were bad, and that it was popularized exclusively by people who all agreed that being racist was a bad thing. And that it is impossible to use in a value-neutral way due to its history. With which parts of this do you disagree?

Doesn't all of this apply to words like "wrong", "selfish", or "boring" as well? Sometimes people create words to refer to things that they think other people shouldn't do. Not all of those are slurs.

I continue to believe that the word "racist" is perhaps the best one-word description for the policies you've said you'd like to pursue. You see racial divisions between people as extremely important and would like to completely restructure society along its lines; I consider the extent to which you care about this, the extent to which you think racial division is important, to be extremely irrational - so irrational that the only way I can really try to understand it, though I would keep this to myself normally, is to start postulating things like trauma, depression, a ridiculously sheltered upbringing, and so on, to explain to myself how someone can get to where it seems like you are. I don't say those things as insults, I'm just trying to really make it clear that "that is racist" to me is not "you hate black people", it's kind of a statement in the epistemic universe of "you are depressed"; it's my own observation that you probably have a certain bias.

Setting the prescriptive stuff aside, at least descriptively, basically every American, including almost every attendee in the crowd at CPAC, would agree that the policies you're calling for can be accurately called "racist". The crowd at CPAC would immediately, reflexively jump to your defence once they saw that I was a left-wing person calling someone racist, but if you honestly explained your beliefs in front of the crowd in the way that you did above, there would be much clearing of throats, embarrassed murmurs, and rapid changing of subjects coming from the crowd.

Incorrect. I am some other wrongthinker who must be rooted out and destroyed as quickly as possible. (Not nearly as notorious as that one; I only ever posted very occasionally.)

You have to distinguish between the ridiculously-abstract question of what should lie at the base of an ethical system, and the ridiculously-empirical question of what kinds of ethical injunctions people will successfully understand and consistently obey.

There’s no reason that we should have to choose the same answer to both of these questions. Arguing that we should feels to me like arguing that we shouldn’t, say, take the axiom of choice in our system of mathematical logic because the average dude on the street is likely to mis-apply it.

I will further clarify that in both cases, the abstract question of “what should we take at the base of our system?”, divorced from its actual consequences, seems wildly pointless to me. Only what happens when you adopt a rule should matter. Which is, despite everything, what you’re saying above, right?

If you follow this line of thinking further, though, isn’t the North of England, all of Scotland, all of Wales, and northern Ireland from roughly infinity BC until 1650 also extremely well-described by this, and isn’t this exactly the population that made up most of what would become the United States as it existed in 1776? It wasn’t the Norman-descended Roger Fitzwilliam doing most of the fighting at Bunker Hill, but rather the descendants of Scottish peasants and Yorkshiremen who had spent the previous thousand years continuously assassinating all of their earldormen. And it’s not like the Normans and Anglo-Saxons weren’t continuously killing each other in blood feuds as well; the latter invented the weregild, after all. And the former, well, is it an improvement over clannism if instead of just killing those outside your clan, you kill those inside it too? And I haven’t even gotten to the Vikings, whose genetic and cultural contributions to the North are huge and unmistakeable!

(I’ve clearly talked myself into the position that the above quote, meant to refer to Ireland, is in fact a universal description of all pre-modern societies without a consistently-enforced-over-time-and-space rule of law - and for most of our ancestors this is a very recent development.)

You're about a decade too late for this sort of thing to work.

I’ve been round these parts long enough to know that you wouldn’t have accepted it eight or so years ago either, and were saying much the same thing then.

As long as you cop to the fact that your beef is not fundamentally with some recent progressive redefinition of the word “racism”, but with the entire idea that racism, including old-school “I don’t trust the blacks” racism, is actually bad, which it seems to me like you have, then I respect your honesty but will do everything I can to prevent people who think like you from ever (re-)gaining political power.

Basically, I’m specifically annoyed by people who masquerade as your classic anti-woke Classical Liberals but who actually have white-nationalist sympathies, or who are mindkilled enough about politics that they don’t even know or care themselves what their beliefs are as long as they’re on the other side as the wokes, and I don’t think you’re masquerading or hiding anything.

I think many of your beliefs are wrong on the object level about human societies and psychology, I think your beliefs are still unbelievably unpopular in normie right-wing circles, and I hope to God they don’t gain traction there.


There is nobody on earth who, upon honest reflection, would agree that “Yes, I just hate minorities because they’re ugly and stinky and it’s bad to look different from the way I look.” That is a caricature which exists only in the heads of racial egalitarians and “anti-racists”

I completely agree with you here, except that I actually think many left-wing anti-racists understand well that this is not how racism works. To me, it’s precisely the right-wing anti-woke contingent who don’t understand that people who actually supported segregation had a more complex internal narrative than “minorities are bad and I don’t like them”. To me, I’m the last person on this forum who needs to be told this (in fact, I just said it myself over the course of many more words, but in service of an argument whose conclusion was in the opposite political direction).

My impression is that the dance seems to be: right-wing Classical Liberals and I think that old-school pro-segregation racism is wrong, and you don’t. You and I think that old-school racism (though you wouldn’t call it that) was always more complex than people who deep-down believed “I just don’t like the minorities”, and right-wing classical liberals think “no, the idea of racism actually was that simple, and described most supporters of this ideology, until the progressives changed the definition and now it’s meaningless”. You and right-wing classical liberals oppose describing those “more complex reasons”, if indeed they do exist, as “racism”, while I think that the reasons are at once more complex than “I don’t like the blacks”, but will also call them “racist” (though I’m not a fan of the one-word description and will explain over and over again with many many words that the way I am using the word “racism” allows for more complex reasons - it’s not the conscious reasons that word is pointing at when I say it).

It doesn't appear that he has a deep seated hatred or irrationality based on race and some people might reasonably require that.

As I said in my comment above ( https://www.themotte.org/post/812/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/176997 ), I respect that this is a consistent definition of “racism”, but I think that it is miles away from how people actually use the word, because it implies that large swathes of the most aggressive supporters of eg segregation and slavery did so for non-racist reasons. If you’re deeming the Cornerstone speech non-racist because it doesn’t specifically have “I do not like black people” in it, for example… I don’t think the definition’s very useful.

It’d be like having a definition of “totalitarianism” so strict that the fact that it calls itself the democratic people’s republic of north korea, and didn’t explicitly say “we do not respect democracy or individual rights here” on the tin, was enough to muddy the waters for me.

This seems like a masked way of saying “that thing you call racism, I don’t consider bad”, but with some strawmanning and the pointless jargon of “super weapon” thrown in.

I didn’t say you must consider racism a “super weapon”. I said I’d like you to tell me whether you think racism in any form exists and whether you think it’s bad.

I think you’ve just said you either think it doesn’t exist or it isn’t bad, but again, I absolutely do not know for sure, and it’s exhausting to try to tease this shit out from people who really seem like they’re trying as hard to conceal it as they can.

And if not, who in the world could we call a racist, then?

I really don’t think people in this space grapple with this question, and questions like it, nearly enough.

Many of my complaints about how this “IDW-ish slice” of the Internet discusses racism would be addressed if, after reading someone’s comments about how leftists have used the word “racism” into meaninglessness, I got the impression that they had proactively, introspectively, honestly asked themselves the following questions:

  1. What are the acceptable ways to point out that someone has a bias, conscious or unconscious, against certain minority groups, even if they may not admit to it or consciously believe they have it? Do you truly, really believe that there should be no legitimate way to ever have that conversation at all? If so, what would I consider the acceptable ways, back in the day, for people to point out that many people supported slavery or segregation for racist reasons at the time, keeping in mind…
  2. What, roughly, do I think the word “racism” means? Not just what does it not include, what should it definitely include? If I’m arguing for a particularly restrictive definition of racism, one that requires unambiguously and consistently stated personal animus against certain groups for being those groups as opposed to any contingent factors, then won’t basically all of the most classic and widely accepted examples of racism (“the races should remain separate as God intended”, “race mixing is unnatural”, “separate but equal”, “I have nothing against the Jews other than that they are all Communists” [reportedly a Hitler quote according to I believe Max Planck], “I assume any black man is a thug or criminal until proven otherwise”, “African slavery is the natural order of society and in fact benefits the slaves”, and yes, many strong forms of what people around these parts call HBD) not actually count as racism according to my definition? And that would be absurd, right? At that point I’ve redefined the word so far away from the way the average person uses it that I should probably be using a different word, and my complaints about how actually the leftists are the ones abusing its definition into meaninglessness are … almost projection.

I agree that a lot of left-wing people abuse the term “racism”! But that’s, like, step negative one of an actually introspective conversation. I don’t see many people here actually grapple with “what do I think racism is?”, instead only arguing the negative.

For example, imagine if I did this with something that was more of a sacred cow of these parts — imagine if I argued “right-wing people have abused the term free speech into complete meaninglessness because almost all of them invoke the first amendment in response to private actors criticizing them or banning them from a forum etc”. You can’t really deny that a large number of people actually do this all the time, but this is a terrible comment, right? What I need to do is actually engage with the idea — “what do these people mean when they say free speech? What restrictions do I think should be put on private platforms to honor free speech? What social norms should surround censorship of unpopular statements by private actors?” and so on.

So responding to a right-wing person complaining about free speech with “right-wing people have used this term so loosely I genuinely have no idea what they mean anymore” would be unbelievably lazy. It’s fundamentally my job to understand what they mean, and all my comment shows is that I’ve blatantly refused to do that, and chosen to believe that they mean nothing.

And in terms of my actual statements, this makes me completely indistinguishable from someone who actually doesn’t believe in free speech at all, and would have no objections to the government passing a law to ban spoken racism, doesn’t it?

In the same way, imagine the perspective of someone like me, a person with the opposite view to the prevailing zeitgeist around these parts when it comes to racism. Try to remember that if all you do is make this negative argument (“leftists have abused the term racism so much it’s meaningless now”), I have absolutely no idea if you are someone whose beliefs are closer to “the thing that most young Americans in 1995 would have called racism is in fact bad, but it barely exists and leftists exaggerate it” or whose beliefs are closer to “the thing that most young Americans would have called racism in 1995 is in fact good and more people should do it”, and those are completely different arguments to have. And the process of trying to get to the point where I know which of these you’re actually saying is exhausting and 90% of the time I fail. Many of you I uncharitably suspect of switching between the two whenever it’s convenient for you to do so.

TL;DR: What I really want is for you to be proactive in telling me which you mean, rather than just talking about what you don’t consider to be racism. If this is not racism, what would I consider racism? Did the majority of people who supported segregation do so for racist reasons, or not? And so on.

What if, hypothetically, the consensus position - and I do want to stress consensus, this is not some far-left opinion, this is an opinion that the vast majority of Americans would agree with - that there do exist at least a certain number of people who have a certain kind of bias that makes them dislike certain racial groups, and who either hide that or are not aware of it themselves, is just true as a matter of empirical fact?

You seem to be saying “even if it’s true, you’re not allowed to Notice the Racism”. If I were talking to someone who openly admits to being disgusted by interracial marriage and wants to outlaw it, you want me to engage with their abstract arguments as to why it should be banned, and you want me to not acknowledge at all the hypothesis that their opinion might have something to do with the fact that it disgusts them.

I would hope you don’t this tack when it comes to other cognitive biases. If there were a left-wing poster who always defended the Democratic Party at every single juncture, like they clearly compromised their own stated principles over and over to desperately defend the Party’s actions no matter how much of a hypocrite that made them, would you really argue that pointing this out should be completely haram? I agree that engaging with their object-level arguments also is good and necessary, but do you really think that pointing out this pattern of behaviour over time is not acceptable?

The irony of course is that as a sentiment "Kill the Indian, save the man" is positively enlightened, representing a shining beacon of Liberalism and Western Civilization in comparison to the to the typical rhetoric of the [current year] "woke left" and "dissident right".

Do you genuinely believe that, or are you being edgy or hyperbolic?

Bravo, honestly. I just wanted to say I really enjoyed that, and I hope you have a good night. Thanks so much for sharing it.

I personally think that a lot of what people call “fat acceptance” does fall under the umbrella of what your grandmother would do naturally, and what many of us are raised to do naturally.

I’d like to add that the Internet contributes to this, as many of us, from the boomers to the zoomers, due to the way the Internet came about, have somehow come to view speech on the Internet, anonymous or not, as existing outside of the purview of the traditional rules of politeness, despite the fact that in terms of raw numbers, it’s more public than almost any situation your great-great-grandparents (and imagine their politeness norms!) could ever have dreamed of.