site banner

Culture War Roundup for the week of November 28, 2022

This weekly roundup thread is intended for all culture war posts. 'Culture war' is vaguely defined, but it basically means controversial issues that fall along set tribal lines. Arguments over culture war issues generate a lot of heat and little light, and few deeply entrenched people ever change their minds. This thread is for voicing opinions and analyzing the state of the discussion while trying to optimize for light over heat.

Optimistically, we think that engaging with people you disagree with is worth your time, and so is being nice! Pessimistically, there are many dynamics that can lead discussions on Culture War topics to become unproductive. There's a human tendency to divide along tribal lines, praising your ingroup and vilifying your outgroup - and if you think you find it easy to criticize your ingroup, then it may be that your outgroup is not who you think it is. Extremists with opposing positions can feed off each other, highlighting each other's worst points to justify their own angry rhetoric, which becomes in turn a new example of bad behavior for the other side to highlight.

We would like to avoid these negative dynamics. Accordingly, we ask that you do not use this thread for waging the Culture War. Examples of waging the Culture War:

  • Shaming.

  • Attempting to 'build consensus' or enforce ideological conformity.

  • Making sweeping generalizations to vilify a group you dislike.

  • Recruiting for a cause.

  • Posting links that could be summarized as 'Boo outgroup!' Basically, if your content is 'Can you believe what Those People did this week?' then you should either refrain from posting, or do some very patient work to contextualize and/or steel-man the relevant viewpoint.

In general, you should argue to understand, not to win. This thread is not territory to be claimed by one group or another; indeed, the aim is to have many different viewpoints represented here. Thus, we also ask that you follow some guidelines:

  • Speak plainly. Avoid sarcasm and mockery. When disagreeing with someone, state your objections explicitly.

  • Be as precise and charitable as you can. Don't paraphrase unflatteringly.

  • Don't imply that someone said something they did not say, even if you think it follows from what they said.

  • Write like everyone is reading and you want them to be included in the discussion.

On an ad hoc basis, the mods will try to compile a list of the best posts/comments from the previous week, posted in Quality Contribution threads and archived at /r/TheThread. You may nominate a comment for this list by clicking on 'report' at the bottom of the post and typing 'Actually a quality contribution' as the report reason.

Jump in the discussion.

No email address required.

Affirmative Action and Helter Skelter: The through-line from Charlie Manson to the Woke White Liberal

Epistemic Status: stoned rant while half watching a Christmas movie. TLDR: Manson's insane racial theories were based on the prophecy of a great racial war, the whites would lose and be exterminated by the Blacks, the Blacks would find themselves incapable of ruling the world and pass power back to the surviving whites in the Manson family. Woke upper class whites who support affirmative action have the same beliefs, only instead of surviving in a giant underground city in Death Valley, they will hide behind wealth and class and ivory tower qualifications.

If you don't know the story of the Manson Family, I highly recommend Karina Longworth's podcast on the topic. It's very good, highly listenable, fairly objective, and gets into a lot of the cultural setting especially around Hollywood. If you want to hear the conspiracy takes, Chaos is extremely good and very extensive, but comes to no conclusions, even the author doesn't know what happened. (It also pairs well with Family of Secrets to follow JFK rabbit holes)

What a lot of people don't realize about Manson, that I think a study like Longworth's makes clear, is that Charles Manson's manipulations of the young women in the Family were mainly a witchy 60s psychedelic take on traditional mid-century Black pimping techniques. The kind of stuff Iceberg Slim wrote about, which is also a book I recommend. Manson manipulated young runaways into sleeping with who he told them to when he told them to, acquired male hangers-on by leveraging sexual access to his young female runaways. The male family members who worked and fought for him, drug suppliers who provided him with acid and speed, and rich men who provided him with housing and money and recording opportunities were all really just interested in fucking the Manson girls. A poorer, dirtier gentile Epstein with a guru bent.

Part of his act was this big Helter Skelter prophecy, much of which was a racial ideology that inherent white superiority will out. Manson, who spent much of his life in prisons and reform institutions, hated Blacks viscerally. He thought them animals, but physically superior and ferocious animals. The diminutive Manson was a frequent target of assaults and rapes in juvenile facilities as a teenager, many by Black inmates. He would famously carve a Swastika into his forehead, and join the Aryan Nation in prison after the Family trials; most thought this was a departure from popular portrayals as a peace and love hippy, but that kind of semi-mystical white supremacism was already the Family's ideological base.

Manson saw the racial conflicts of the 1960s and used that as the apocalypse that his followers would be protected from by following his teachings. He taught that a great racial war was coming, Helter Skelter, that the United States would break down into civil war over treatment of minorities, and that ultimately the militant Blacks would exterminate the white race, both the liberals and the conservatives. The only surviving whites would be the Manson Family, hidden in a bottomless pit/hidden city in Death Valley. The victorious Blacks would be unable to rule a sophisticated society without whites, and discovering the surviving whites they would gratefully pass power back to Manson and his followers, who would rule the new world. It was an insane fantasy, peddled to drug addled teenagers to explain why they should follow this shaggy ex-con who fed them acid and sodomized them. Whites were so superior to Blacks that even after the majority of Whites were exterminated, the handful of special white survivors would rule the world. Subtext: it is good that the Blacks will destroy all of white straight society for us, clearing out the dead wood so that we noble enlightened whites can rule. Stop me if this feels familiar.

A lot of online rightists find it insane that any white people support affirmative action. White students are evenly split on affirmative action, despite being its putative victims. This support only increases as one reaches more selective schools, where affirmative action is harshest in action. Why is this? Because a liberal white student at Harvard Law, like the Manson family, believes so firmly and mystically in his own superiority that no white loss in a racial conflict can rattle him. He believes in his superiority as a talented white kid as firmly as he believes in gravity. He is one of the Great and the Good, his talent got him here, giving tithes to those inferior to him will only enhance his stature. After all, if I'm a white kid with a 165 LSAT who can't get into a T14, every 160 LSAT Black kid who gets in is a spot that could have been mine, I coulda been a contenda if only things were different. But if I already got in, if I'm confident that my 179 LSAT is such that I always will get in to whatever I want, then I'd rather a less qualified kid got in than a more qualified one. If you're trying to get into a class of 800, ever non-merit spot is a spot you lose, I go from having 800 chances to get in to 600 chances to get in. If I'm already in a class of 800, every non-merit spot is a kid who isn't competing with me anymore for the top spot, I go from competing to be 1/800 to competing to be 1/600. Let the Blacks push out the whites and the Asians, the Blacks won't be able to compete with me anyway. If we're all at a firm together, my pedigree and my talent are worth more the fewer people exist with my pedigree and my talent. Affirmative action at top schools is a way to narrow the field of actual competitors from that school.

This is Manson warmed over, the parallels are striking, true white supremacy is the absolute faith that talent resides in the white and that talent will out, the beliefs that so many of my white classmates had after three beers. Let the race war happen, let the Blacks destroy the unenlightened whites, and at the end the enlightened whites will rule because they will be the only alternative left. This is woke racism, let less talented kids get in to competitive schools, it just makes the real spots that much more competitive. The more of the real competition is eliminated, the easier it will be for me. Rather than hiding in a bottomless pit in Death Valley, they believe they will hide in the ivory towers, too talented and too connected to be dislodged by unfair policies. Keep just enough of a meritocracy, and the really talented kids will succeed and have interest in changing the status quo to help those below them, and the less talented kids who fail under the fakakta meritocracy probably aren't talented enough to make a difference anyway. The great and the good will always be on the side of the status quo as long as the critical mass of talented kids are hoovered up.

They might find this strategy works less effectively than they think it will. Like Hezekiah in Isaiah 39:8, to whom in was prophesied that his sons would be eunuchs in a foreign court, and nonetheless replied that the Lord's prophecy was good for there would be "peace and truth in my days." Apres moi, le deluge. Their talent is less of a protection than they think it is. The affirmative action kids at my schools often blossomed just as well once they got there, the dirty secret isn't that AA lets in less talented kids, but that admissions criteria are mostly a farce anyway when it comes to real life talent. The white kids that got in are mostly just as good as the kids who didn't five years down the line.

The democrats aren't the real racists, you can't beat universalism with slightly-different-universalism, and progressives support AA mostly out of a genuine (even if incorrect, confused, or inverted) desire to help historically-oppressed black people. People who couldn't get into harvard still support affirmative action at harvard!

The democrats aren't the real racists

Yale researchers would like to have a word. White liberals basically dumb down their language when talking to minorities. I think that this take that white liberals have "white savior" complex, and that they see minorities basically as pets to be taken care of is nothing new. In fact, I think it is one of the worst forms of racism as it hides behind façade of supposed compassion and caring. The true vitriol is shown when pets disobey and go against what their masters want - as with infamous Biden's you ain't black if you don't vote for me take. It could also support the OP's thesis that white liberals may not see minorities as true competition.