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Culture War Roundup for the week of October 23, 2023

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Elon hasn't read his Moldbug

Making a slight change to creator monetization:

Any posts that are corrected by @CommunityNotes become ineligible for revenue share.

The idea is to maximize the incentive for accuracy over sensationalism.

This machine leaks power. Whoops.

Worth “noting” that any attempts to weaponize @CommunityNotes to demonetize people will be immediately obvious, because all code and data is open source

[X] Doubt. This sounds like technobabble. How does community notes being open source in and of itself prevent abuse? Bitcoin is open source. That does not help you get your money back from ransomware hackers.

How does community notes being open source in and of itself prevent abuse?

It doesn't, but it has a complicated system to ensure notes aren't partisan. Look it up.

Petty Local Political Whining

In my state this is an off-off-year election, meaning that only local and non-headliner state positions are up for election. No congress, no senate, no state reps, no governor, no president. Turnout tends to be smaller, and local issues are less swamped by national ones.

Our County Republican Committee spent thousands in the primary this year, essentially picking one Republican candidate over another. Accusing Republican school board incumbents who didn't make Trans Kids their #1 issue of being RINOs and endorsing candidates who ran on a platform of removing books from the school library. Scandal-wracked Judicial candidates who took strong Pro-Life positions publicly were endorsed over candidates with stronger records who stayed quiet on controversies. County council races were handed to MAGA candidates who promised to "look into" election integrity. They picked the winners in every primary race, endorsing farther right candidates over moderates, specifically sending out mail telling voters "not to be fooled" by candidates running the Republican primary who weren't "real" Republicans.

Ronald Reagan's famous Eleventh Commandment, which read "thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican," was not followed.

And now we're just a couple weeks out from the General, and from the local party apparatus it has been CRICKETS. No mail, no TV ads, no coordinated door to door volunteers, no slates, no billboards. The closest they've gotten was a little postcard saying something along the lines of "Hey, actually, mail in voting is pretty cool and not at all fraudulent, you should try it."

And I'm FURIOUS, because this is a total betrayal and reversal of their role. The party endorsing in the primary election ruins the point of a primary election. The whole idea of a primary is that the voters, rather than the party, get to decide who the nominee will be. Plenty of blame to put on the moron sheep voting in these primaries, who voted the party line in an internal party election. But even worse is then failing to follow through and provide resources for the candidates you picked. Sending out mail on their behalf. Coordinating so that every candidate goes out and knocks on doors, and every candidate that goes knocking has literature for every other candidate to hand out. Providing cover so that candidates don't have to take controversial stands publicly and can instead couch it in oblique dog whistles. Giving the kind of support that makes up for the local newspapers running aggressive stories about every R candidate.

Now they've hung their radical picks for candidates out to dry, and there's a very good chance Republicans get shellacked in the general. Which might not have happened had more moderate candidates been chosen, but to choose more radical candidates and then fail to support them is malpractice. If this pattern is repeating in local Republican parties across the country, the party is likely entering a dark period. It's the Iron Law of Institutions, instituted as organizational policy. You can't win when you force your candidates to play to the extremes, then fail to support them against your actual opponents.

The Trump era has been a historic disaster for the Republican Party downballot. After fighting and clawing it's way into centuriate power during the Tea Party era, reaching a peak of state and local power in 2016 unmatched since the 1920s, the anti-Trump backlash drove them out of power everywhere in 2018 and 2019.

They have the luck that the Democrats really suck at not just assuming they will hold power forever, so driving yet more backlash, but people in many places would rather have Democratic leftists over Trumpist conspiracy theorists (even if that is a near run thing).

The fact that the crazies have gained local party power in a lot of places is going to be a hobble on the party's performance for a long time. Arizona -- what is probably still a light red state in natural circumstances -- is probably going to be become blue just because the AZGOP is nuts.

My local party has stayed mostly sane, thankfully, so hopefully we can finish pushing the Democrats who won county control for the first time in half a century back into minority status. We'll see.

Can you elaborate on what are some Non-Nutty Republican positions on things like immigration, crime, BLM, CRT in schools, or transing kids? You might not be doing that, but I get the feeling that the Not Insane Republicanism is a plea to come back the the early 2000's neocon era at best, and following the steps of the UK Tories at worst. Maybe you're right that this is how you win, but at that point I have to ask what is the point of winning?

It's not just issues, it is tone and emphasis. Launching a school board campaign that puts (largely hypothetical) trans kids front and center is running a narrow campaign on aggression and identity politics. Running for county executive on a platform of investigating election fraud is putting the actual business of the county second behind national issues (which the vast majority of voters don't really care about in that case anyway). The candidates we're seeing don't carry and groom and present themselves well, they don't have long resumes of accomplishments to point, they don't have pedigrees and when they do they run against them rather than on them. That's the kind of thing we're having problems with.

A lot of it is focusing on good governance and emphasizing concrete actions over vague culture war issues. The strategy question isn't just about what you want to do, it's what you want to talk about, what you put center stage and crow about vs what you do quietly backstage and dump in a Friday afternoon procedural news release.

At the county council level right up to the federal level, reduce the grip of government, make it easier to build a shed or start a business. Procedural reform, by which for every new rule put in place, one old rule is removed. That can be instituted throughout levels of government: for every new ordinance, one old ordinance has to go. Ratchet it up to two ordinances, and now you're shrinking government.

At the school board level, reduce administrative waste and extracurricular bloat to cut costs and ultimately taxes. Improve test scores.

If the competency slate for school board also puts in place a minor rule on where kids go to the bathroom, great, but don't make it the centerpiece of why they're running for office and everything else an afterthought.

It's not just issues, it is tone and emphasis. Launching a school board campaign that puts (largely hypothetical) trans kids front and center is running a narrow campaign on aggression and identity politics.

There's nothing hypothetical about it, I personally know parents of a trans kid, and educational materials are quite openly pushing trans propaganda. It's not aggression to demand that schools stick to ABC's and 123's instead of pushing race war and mastectomies. Even if you think the issue is irrelevant, a conservative party that turns a blind eye to it is more than useless. I literally might as well vote left-wing at that point, at least I'm going to get what's on the tin.

A lot of it is focusing on good governance and emphasizing concrete actions over vague culture war issues.

I think the culture war issues are a lot more specific than "good governance". You do elaborate on what you mean by that, but "reduce regulations" is a lot more abstract to me than "ban 'gender affirming' surgeries and hormone therapies for minors", "ban schools from hiding the kid's desire to transition from parents", "don't send male convicts to female prisons", "reestablish the citizen's right to self-defense from criminals", "reverse lenient-on-crime policies" or "force schools to actually teach".

If the competency slate for school board also puts in place a minor rule on where kids go to the bathroom, great, but don't make it the centerpiece of why they're running for office and everything else an afterthought.

Well again, if you're going to reduce the whole trans issue to bathrooms, why shouldn't I just spare myself the humiliation, and vote progressive?

It isn't how the Republicans win, though. It relies on being able to capture a normie center that's no longer there; the Democrats took it under Obama and the Republicans can't reach it, let alone get it back. If you watch and read only respected media (as normies do), you get only the Democratic perspective; media which treats Republican viewpoints with anything but pure disdain (Fox News, the New York Post, the Washington Times) is not considered respected, with the very slight exception of The Wall Street Journal (which doesn't help in most of the country).

Personally I don't think this is how you win either, but even granting the premise, I'd like to know what would be the point.

It's the Burkean conservative utopia where the population doesn't reach 50% trans until at least 2100, and the police are abolished but there's a well-thought-out plan for doing it.

For the most part, the problem isn't a policy agenda problem (in fact, on these issues -- crime, immigration, education -- have a polling advantage), it's a temperament and presentment problem.

Oh, I think I agree with that.

Can you elaborate on what are some Non-Nutty Republican positions on things like


simplified lumpenproletariat immigration for LatAm with a digital federal registry of non-voters, no jus soli for them

points-based immigration with an "American values" test for upper prole and white collar migrants


Handgun restrictions for urban youth with Urumqi-style checkpoints, decriminalize drug consumption and possession.


Black lives matter, but looters will be shot on sight.

CRT in schools, or transing kids?

Research the origins of transness to prevent it. Research the origins of racial discrepancies in life outcomes to fix them.

I think other than the BLM position, this is exactly what I meant. No limits on mass immigration, only on the quality of immigrants? In fact, not even that, you'd still let the "lumpens" come in, just put some restrictions on what they can do once they're here? Violate 2nd Ammendment rights, and let people ruin their lives hoping they'll be too high to do serious crime? How is "research the origins of racial discrepancies in life outcomes to fix them" different from what was done since the very beginning of the Civil Rights movement? Nothing about the crazy stuff they're teaching in schools? Why would anyone with a conservative bone in their body be ok with you waving through surgeries and hormone therapies for minors, on the vague promise you'll find the cause of transness and prevent it in the future?

While low candidate quality has certainly been a moderate factor in R downballot declines, a lot of it (probably the majority) is due to the increasing nationalization of races. Moderate Rs or Ds used to be able to win in solidly blue or red areas respectively. That's almost completely disappeared over the past decade or two. As such, a more even split is probably baked in pretty strongly now.

The fact that the crazies have gained local party power in a lot of places is going to be a hobble on the party's performance for a long time. Arizona -- what is probably still a light red state in natural circumstances -- is probably going to be become blue just because the AZGOP is nuts.

And the counter argument is that this is simply the republicanism functioning as intended. The old bit from the WaPo about saving democracy from the voters comes to mind. To someone who's brain has not been steeped in progressive nonsense about the will to power the decentralized nature of the GOP is a feature rather than a bug

The problem isn't the voters making poor choices, the problem is the local party "saving democracy from the voters" by endorsing in the primary, only to disappear or be ineffective in the general. I'm all for the primary process being handled through voting among all party members (though I do think added qualifications for party registration aren't a bad idea), but for the party to endorse in the party primary is to ruin the point of the primary.

In my view the proper role for the party apparatus is to present the primary candidates to the voters as clearly as possible, and then after the voters make their choice they help the chosen nominee win in the general. If we're going to have candidates running for the Republican nomination as the "endorsed Republican candidate" then why have a primary at all? ((One can of course equally blame the voters for making the choices they did, but that's a road to nowhere))

The idea that the parties themselves should be Democratic organizations is itself a Progressive idea. They did fine for a long time functioning as deliberative, member organizations which we're focused on winning general, rather than primary elections.

Honestly, I am of the opinion that the party should choose the candidate that they want representing them on the ballot

And then the voters get to choose who will represent them through the actual election.

I understand the logic that we have a tow party system, and in 'safe' districts a majority is always going to vote for whoever their party puts on the ballot, so that's the 'real' election in these districts.

But I'm willing to dabble in a little accelerationism here and hope that, if the party keeps putting up people that 'their' voters hate, maybe those voters will wise up and actually elect an independent candidate that actual shares their values, eventually.

Also, I really really want approval voting,which would let things like this actually work.

I understand the logic that we have a tow party system, and in 'safe' districts a majority is always going to vote for whoever their party puts on the ballot, so that's the 'real' election in these districts.

This isn't even the way it has to work. Prior to the rise of the partisan primary, local party organizations tailored themselves to local conditions. That should be the way it still works. John Bel Edwards, the Democratic governor of Louisiana, is a very conservative Democrat, probably the most conservative elected Democrat in the country by a decent clip. There should be more Democrats like that in conservative areas. Phil Scott is a very popular Republican governor of Vermont. There should be more Republicans like him for Vermonters.

Primaries nationalize local elections, which creates single party localities.

That make sense.

I would love to see the Democratic Party Mayoral Candidate vs. the Chicago Democrats Mayoral Candidate on the general election ballot.

Are you even sure its the Republican party that went so hard for the far right candidates in the primary? Because poisoning Republican primaries has been the Democratic parties MO the last 8 years. They learned nothing from Hillary elevating Trump, and concidered it a resounding success in stopping the predicted red wave in 2022.

Because poisoning Republican primaries has been the Democratic parties MO the last 8 years.

There's very little evidence of this happening on either side. Every election there's people who talk up the potential of the other side voting in droves for crazies in open primaries, but it never materializes. Getting people to vote for candidates they like is already hard enough, getting them to try to strategically sabotage the competition is simply too much for all but the most dedicated partisans.

Local Republican committees have been trending right wards since before trump on a basis of ‘who shows up to meetings’. It’s not implausible that this set has managed to move right of the establishment which theoretically controls them.

Yes. The mailers were from the "_____ County Republican Committee" which also published the endorsements on their website. I went to the meetings where local Republican leaders chose to endorse these candidates (I was there to support other candidates). No shenanigans here.

There isn't a new Israel/Gaza thread so I'm just going to ask here - does anyone know why exactly Israel agreed to exchange over a thousand Palestinian prisoners for Gilad Shalit? He doesn't appear to have been a particularly important or connected IDF soldier, and I've seen some commentary suggesting this deal may have greatly boosted the value of taking Israeli hostages for Hamas.

Shalit was an extreme case, but unprecedented in degree rather than kind: the history of past prisoner exchanges and hostage negotiations was filled with lopsided counts, and there are a few like the 1983 Fatah exchange (794:1) that got pretty close. Ostensibly, these exchanges were meant to show how much the IDF valued its own people over hurting Arabic peoples, though in practice the disparity in number of captured prisoners to exchange almost certainly played a role.

He'd also become a minor cause celebre among Israelis, and not along the typical breakdown you'd expect. Anti-Hamas Israelis made up a significant part of the group wanting him freed at nearly any cost, up to and including several protests intended to disrupt shipments in and out of Palestinian areas. I don't know if that's just a ramification of Israel's draft, or some broader philosophical or cultural difference.

More controversially, I think the post-2008-era Likud philosophy for Palestine was one of disengagement, and large prisoner exchanges might have been a part of that. Not that they believed that these groups were harmless, but that they'd been mitigated to such extent that a lot of the past threats were no longer available; if these released prisoners were any more radicalized, they'd be limited to bomb threats at the checkpoints, firing rockets that didn't work well, and the occasional kidnapping (which was now, if more in theory than in practice, motivated to keep their ransoms live). At the same time, Palestinian prisoners were politically expensive (especially under international scrutiny) to hold, and require complicated hoops to hold within bounds of international law, and the Israeli government could not release without a good excuse otherwise, both to save face and because many had blood on their hands. If that was truly a motivation for the prisoner exchange, that was a wrong belief, but it wasn't as unreasonable in 2018 as today.

I've seen this incident mentioned before, but this is the first time it actually sank in. My first thought was that there must have been some bleeding-heart liberal in charge of Israel at the time, but Netanyahu was PM in 2011. This might be the most inexplicable decision a modern Western nation has made in my lifetime.

I honestly feel duped for spending any time at all in the last month trying to understand Israel-Palestine. Why should I care about Palestinian terrorists if Israel doesn't even care about Palestinian terrorists? The whole conflict is Kabuki theatre. Real people in a real conflict would never make such an absurd decision.

It's not like there aren't some good pragmatic reasons to make the swap. Keeping military morale very high is important for a country that is outnumbered, which may help to explain a "we will get you home by any means necessary" mindset toward captured soldiers.

Keeping military morale very high is important for a country that is outnumbered, which may help to explain a "we will get you home by any means necessary" mindset toward captured soldiers.

The Obama administration was happy enough to trade five Taliban members for Bowe Bergdahl, even though they followed after his return stateside by charging him with desertion and dishonorably discharging him (there remain ongoing appeals and such). It's not quite the same number, but from what I recall it was a somewhat comparable situation.

I would expect having hundreds of extra murderous terrorists on the loose would be worse for morale. This isn't just theoretical. At least 6 Israelis were killed by prisoners released in the Shalit deal in 2014-2015 alone.

And that's just the first order effects. It's pretty likely that the moral hazard stemming from a policy of lopsided prisoner exchanges is what motivated the October 7th operation.

I would expect having hundreds of extra murderous terrorists on the loose would be worse for morale.

Maybe for civilian morale, but I imagine that for military morale what's more important is thinking that if you get captured you'll have a decent chance to be rescued or traded for the opponent's prisoners. Facing 11000 enemy soldiers rather than 10000 probably feels rather abstract to the individual soldier on the ground. Feeling like you won't be abandoned if you're unlucky enough to get captured probably feels very concrete to the individual soldier on the ground.

I'm very far from a soldier, but these kind of lopsided exchanges don't really work if soldiers actually get captured in large numbers. So at least for me, it would make me feel uneasy - in the only case were I'm actually likely to be captured (when many soldiers in general are captured), I'm extremely unlikely to be traded. On top, having to face more opponents seems pretty bad, too? But I'm admittedly a more abstract thinker in many ways.

There isn't a new Israel/Gaza thread

Speaking of which, @naraburns, any chance we can get a third thread posted? Seems the previous one has died, and with the situation rapidly intensifying I would think a new thread would be extremely useful.

The previous one seemed to have dropped off, it's possible we've reached a point in the conflict where the regular CW thread won't be overrun with posts about Israel. But as you say--things have recently intensified, so perhaps a third is warranted. I've posted it here.

Below, there is a discussion of the civil war due to Robert E Lee statute being torn down. The other main event of the day is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I would say as a general matter the biggest supporters of Palestine in the US are progressives. Progressives also hate the confederacy.

Question is can you separate them? The south was arguing for their right of self determination? Of course, imbedded within that is they wanted to savagely deny that right to blacks held in chattel slavery. Likewise, the Palestinians claim the right of self determination but their stated intention is to kill the Israelis (from the river to the sea has a meaning).

So in both cases there is a legitimate claim to right of self determination. But that claim is bloodied by what those people would do with such right and at least in the confederacy context that “bad thing” was enough to invalidate their right to self determination.

My question then is whether the right to self determination is properly thought of as as a right? If so, it seems at best it is a contingent right. If it is a contingent right, what contingencies are unimportant enough to “trump” the right?

I've remarked before that I think the American Revolution should be more properly understood as an example of secession, not revolution. After all, the most famous document promulgating and defending the American position is the Declaration of Independence, and the choice of title is appropriate.

The part that comes before the famous "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." is the following:

"The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."

This is a document about secession and self-determination. Next is the really famous bit (I'm adding numbers in brackets to highlight an internal list):

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, [1] that all men are created equal, [2] that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, [3] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

A clear statement of fundamental principles, but one key point later on is that Jefferson isn't claiming that these principles are a departure from English tradition, but that the Crown has been egregiously violating English tradition. The list doesn't end at three items:

"[4]--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, [5] --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

"Alter or abolish" covers many potential approaches, from reform to secession to complete revolution. Which approach is justified in which cases?

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

This, I think, is the start of the answer to your question--the right of self-determination in terms of fully reforming/seceding/revolting must reach a threshold of severity in terms of provocation. The reasons matter, and the weight of tradition matters. "Light and transient causes" are not enough, and so:

"But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

When there is a longstanding pattern of abuse aimed at fundamental liberties, some variation of reform/secession/revolution is justified, and even morally compulsory. Note that Jefferson is not merely concerned with rejecting the old, abusive system, but also the necessity of replacing the old system with a new government that will properly "secure these rights." He is justifying a transition from a very bad system to a better system--tearing down the old and stopping at anarchy is not acceptable.

"--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world...."

What follows is a bill of particulars, listing the offenses of the British Crown according to Jefferson, which amount to "a long train of abuses and usurpations...evinc[ing] a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism...." The details of this list are instructive, but outside the scope of this comment. After the list, Jefferson argues that the leadership of the American States has done its due diligence, and tried to fix the situation by attempts at reform, before proceeding to secession:

"In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

"Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends."

We have appealed to both the Crown and the British People for redress; neither provided it. As a result, we're walking away from this toxic relationship, but we're not going to kill your cat out of spite--we just want to go our own way. Note that Jefferson doesn't merely say that the behavior of the British Crown has been grievously bad, but that the American representatives have been particularly patient and prudent--there's an implied standard of conduct for the secessionists that continues in the final paragraph:

"We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."

Jefferson wraps up with the final requirement for secessionists who are doing things correctly--you need to make your case. Not just that the suffered abuses have been so terrible, but also that you've tried lesser means and are only escalating when those means have failed, and that your judgment and restraint are being offered for consideration to both "the Supreme Judge of the world" and "the opinions of mankind." Are your reasons sufficient, or just "light and transient causes"? Do you have a plan for self-government, such that you can responsibly join the community of "Independent States"? Have you "Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms" and are you confident in the "rectitude of [y]our intentions"?

Any secessionist or revolutionary worth their salt will answer yes to those questions with confidence--such is human nature. But Jefferson clearly isn't claiming that 'we've investigated our own motives, and found them acceptable,' he's appealing to God and man to be his judges.

In my view, Jefferson adequately makes his case as to the justice of the American secession from Britain. I think other secessionary movements are a mixed bag--some meet the various thresholds of behavior and others do not. In this framework, there isn't an unfettered "right to self determination" by a given identifiable subgroup of a larger political unit, but extreme cases may present a duty to reform an abusive government, or seceed from it, or overthrow it.

The south was arguing for their right of self determination?

The South didn't want self determination. It wanted slavery. This is indicated by the fact that there's no meaningful concept of self-determination for southern states once slavery becomes moot in politics. Without the slavery before or after there is no state "nationalism." That's not the same and it's not sympathetic.

Likewise, the Palestinians claim the right of self determination but their stated intention is to kill the Israelis (from the river to the sea has a meaning).

I don't know what to say to this. It's such a bizarre straight face statement of propagandized narrative as fact. First of all let's be clear about something, Israel invaded the Palestinian's lands. And they're the ones that have a ethnostate based around preserving and expanding their ethno-purity at the expense of the natives. Israel is also the one violently expanding. I don't know if people are just not aware of this or they elide over it for propaganda reasons. It's Israel forcing violence into the situation.

There's no reason to project some certainty that anyone saying free Palestine or whatever wants to kill all Israelis. Least of all on to "progressives." I'm not aware of a single person that believes that. At the most extreme you'll get people suggesting Israelis should leave and go back from where they came from (Europe), or rather their forefathers at this point (this would be very difficult for Mizrahi).

There isn't any real similarity here.

There was no discussion of self determination after because the South lost. The point is that the South believed they had the right to change their form of government and the North said “no you don’t.” That is a violation of self determination. Of course, the reason the South wanted that right was to brutally oppress a minority. But that implies the right to self determination is at best contingent based upon what you will do with it.

As for propaganda, when you read Hamas’ charter which cites to the (apparently happy) day when even trees will call out to Muslims that a Jew is hiding behind them and it is time to kill the Jew do you believe Hamas has zero desire to wipe out Jews? Why disregard their stated intention?

Is your idea that the British solution was somehow wrong? Keep in mind it wasn’t the Israelis who fucked up the British solution but a number of Arabs who couldn’t dare imagine a Jewish state.

Please also inform us how the Jews have been invading Gaza. In 2005 Israel pulled their citizens forcibly out of Gaza. Gaza then attack Israel. I’m sure I will hear something about the disputed West Bank but of course that isn’t Gaza.

Finally you talk about propaganda and then cite to an ethnostate? Really hard argument when Israel is surrounded by theocratic authoritarian governments (including Hamas which hasn’t held an election since 2006). Hell even Arabs have a party in the Knesset. Do Arabs have a bit of a second class right in Israel? Yeah. But funny enough those second class rights are often better than rights in other Arab countries and far better than the rights Jews have in those autocratic countries they are surrounded by. There is a clear difference between Israel and the non-Israelis in the Middle East. It isn’t a hard choice to say which one is better (even if none are perfect).

PS — part of my point was that right of self determination conflicts a lot with other supposed rights. For example, could France choose to keep France for the French by refusing to take in any immigration? I’m sure NGOs would claim that violates immigrants’ rights even if that conflicts with the French supposed right of self determination. So is there a right to self determination?

As for propaganda, when you read Hamas’ charter which cites to the (apparently happy) day when even trees will call out to Muslims that a Jew is hiding behind them and it is time to kill the Jew do you believe Hamas has zero desire to wipe out Jews? Why disregard their stated intention?

Not saying they aren't real pieces of work, but they adopted a new charter back in 2017 that abandoned such language and states their war is specifically with the Zionists occupying Palestine rather than Judaism. I would also caution against conflating the organization Hamas with Palestinians as an ethnicity/nationality.

16.Hamas affirms that its conflict is with the Zionist project not with the Jews because of their religion. Hamas does not wage a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish but wages a struggle against the Zionists who occupy Palestine. Yet, it is the Zionists who constantly identify Judaism and the Jews with their own colonial project and illegal entity.

17.Hamas rejects the persecution of any human being or the undermining of his or her rights on nationalist, religious or sectarian grounds. Hamas is of the view that the Jewish problem, anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews are phenomena fundamentally linked to European history and not to the history of the Arabs and the Muslims or to their heritage. The Zionist movement, which was able with the help of Western powers to occupy Palestine, is the most dangerous form of settlement occupation which has already disappeared from much of the world and must disappear from Palestine.

And they're the ones that have a ethnostate based around preserving and expanding their ethno-purity at the expense of the natives.

Are you safer as an Arab in Israel or as a Jew in Gaza?

The former, almost assuredly. Doesn't change any of the truth of what I said.

I think if you're going to start waving around the "ethnostate" label it's kind of relevant to also note that there's one of these two places that is ethnically homogenous and kills people for being the wrong race, and it's not Israel.

Yes it does. Unless you mean the following: Jews are unsafe in Gaza. But if Hamas were to take over Israel, they would change their behavior.

Israel is also the one violently expanding.

Palestinians are the ones who are murdering civilians whenever they can, despite that being rather counterproductive to their cause because the more Israelis see them as rabid animals, the more justification is there for casting them out and taking their land.

Palestinians are the ones who are murdering civilians whenever they can

Israeli dead: 1,400

Palestinian: 8,000

And rising for the Palestinians. Scuttlebutt is the only thing keeping the Israelis from murdering much greater amounts is the U.S. and maybe some saner military officials fighting the government in backrooms.

I've said it before appealing to dead bodies is such a weird strategy for Israeli apologists. Anything you can say about the Palestinians you can say about the Israelis. The killed more people ratio has always been in favor of Israel, before current events.

And again I say, Israel did start this. Their demands of: "let us come in, steal your land, and ethnically cleanse you for our ethnostate" have never been reasonable or would lead to anything but conflict. It's just they won. But peaceful good boys who dindu nuffin? Never.

When Palestinians are doing prisoner exchanges, they want tens to hundreds of their own for one prisoner.

This suggests that they consider the value of their own people to be rather low. So, more like 1400 Israelis, 80 Palestinians.

I don't think that suggests that they consider their own people to be of low value, otherwise, why bargain for so many? Rather, I think that's just them being greedy.

They also admit to not caring a shit about civilian deaths.

All points to them assigning a low value to their own lives, high value to winning. So people who are out there teary eyed over dead kids are just being idiots.

Why do you expect consistency from social posturing? The college kids chanting River to the Sea are just making mouth noises that they've been told are the mouth noises non-excluded, invited-to-parties people make. They wouldn't know what to do with a Jew even if they caught one.

Why do you expect consistency from social posturing? The college kids chanting River to the Sea are just making mouth noises that they've been told are the mouth noises non-excluded, invited-to-parties people make.

This may very well be true, but it is not really a sufficiently effortful response for this space. It is always the case that one possible response to $PERPLEXING_THING is "eh, nobody is serious anyway, this is all play-acting, there's nothing to be feared from play-actors, and nothing to be gained from engaging on substance and merits." But it's rarely a charitable response (to either the person making the argument or the people under discussion) and often just false in various ways. So if you're going to imply that someone shouldn't expect consistency, you're going to need to do it with a bit more effort.

Of course, imbedded within that is they wanted to savagely deny that right to blacks held in chattel slavery. Likewise, the Palestinians claim the right of self determination but their stated intention is to kill the Israelis

That's not 'likewise', though.

It's pretty normal for both sides of a war to say they want to kill the people on the other side. That's sort of what war is. Many Israelis express the inverse sentiment.

Modern US wars are supposed to be more 'humanitarian' than that and it's tacky for us to express such sentiments, but. It's pretty normal war rhetoric, and war is about hating the other country you're fighting.

Whereas horrible oppressing and torturing your own citizens, in fact rather than in rhetoric, as a matter of course and a matter of enduring policy rather than as a temporary contingent reaction to an ongoing event like a war, is a qualitatively different thing.

First of all, war rhetoric tends to end after the war; policy like this may be permanent.

Second, even if the most bleeding-heart of liberals would like a world without borders where morality doesn't depend on nationality, the standard reality is that governments have duties and obligations towards the proper treatment of their own citizens that trump how they treat the citizens of other nations (to say nothing of the citizens of enemy nations during war). It's still nice for governments to not commit too many war crimes against enemy citizens, the UN will call them meanies if they do it a lot, but they're inherently a bad government if they do the same to their own citizens who they have authority over and obligations towards.

My question then is whether the right to self determination is properly thought of as as a right?

For people? Sure, it's one right among many, depending of course on what you even mean y the vague term.

For governments? Governments aren't people, they don't have rights.

There's a sense in which, even if 49% of the people in your democracy disagree with a policy, it is still interfering with their freedoms for some foreign country to come in and change that policy to what they would want instead. Yes, in a democracy, there is some connection between the self-determination of the state and the self-determination of the people.

But it's a tenuous link at best. Just gesturing at the individual's right to self-determination is not sufficient to justify states doing anything they want as an absolute right.

Especially when what that state is doing is taking away the right to self-determination form many of it's own people! At that point the link isn't just tenuous, it's basically just rhetorical.

It's pretty normal for both sides of a war to say they want to kill the people on the other side. That's sort of what war is. Many Israelis express the inverse sentiment.

Not really. There's a difference between saying you want to kill enemy combatants and saying your objective is to literally exterminate the other side. Very few modern wars have genocide as either an explicit or implicit goal.

Is there a lot of ugly rhetoric during a war? Yes. But most people still understand that the objective is to defeat the enemy, not eradicate them. Even Russia isn't claiming they want to exterminate Ukrainians (and indeed, that isn't their goal). Israelis do not want to exterminate the Palestinians, notwithstanding ugly rhetoric that might come from a few extremists.

The Palestinians, unfortunately, by and large, really do want to wipe out the Israelis. Not all of them, and many would probably grudgingly settle into a peaceful coexistence if that were presented to them as a living situation they'd find tolerable, and in future generations the genocidal hatred might fade.

But I think your equivocation here is just outright false.

Even Russia isn't claiming they want to exterminate Ukrainians (and indeed, that isn't their goal).

Russia is led by boomers who heavily promote (and probably earnestly believe in) something called druzhba narodov. This is a kind of lame civnat narrative similar to GOP’s fawning over baste blacks and LEGAL immigrants, i.e. people who are content with not totally disempowering the majority population. The Ukrainians/Kleinrussen are a brother people being liberated from ebil Banderite Nazis who hate puppies and sunshine. The enemy is ideological, he has, strictly speaking, no nationality, just like crime has no color. Like America, Russia too is an idea defined by a vague adherence to Eastern Orthodoxy, but also baste traditional Islam and who knows what else, loving Stalin and hating homosexuals. This is, for example, why the Ukrainian language remains official in Crimea and the new oblasts (not that this has any real consequences, but it does show the kind of picture Russia’s leadership is trying to paint).

By contrast, Ukrainians are much more realistic and an order of magnitude more bloodthirsty, to the point where mocking the idea that not all Russians deserve death has become a national pastime akin to mocking #notallmen. Their enemy is not Putinism, Tsarism or neo-Bolshevism or cleptocracy or authoritarianism or whatever; it is Russia, the ancestral enemy of Rus-Ukrainians. It is almost unimaginable that Russian will be allowed in any state capacity should Ukraine ever retake Crimea. There is nothing surprising about this: the slaves of Haiti were more bloodthirsty than their French masters, so were the Indians in North America, and so too are Palestinians. What master in his right mind wishes to kill off his slaves?

It is almost unimaginable that Russian will be allowed in any state capacity should Ukraine ever retake Crimea.

so were the Indians in North America

What master in his right mind wishes to kill off his slaves?

Canada, famously, had programs designed to assimilate Indian youths into the dominate culture. Countries throughout the world like France, Germany and Sweden had programs designed to force a certain dialect on the people usually through the schooling system. This kind of thing was considered normal and progressive back then. This was also true in the USA with the once thriving Italian and German speaking communities dying out once it was deemed unpatriotic during the World Wars. I don't find my Grandmother's family giving up their Junker last name any great tragedy.

I don't find the Ukrainians, empirically, anymore bloodthirsty than the Russians in this war. Nor the Jews anymore bloodthirsty than the Arabs that have always wanted to extirpate the Jews by any means necessary.

I think that progressives usually value other things more highly than they value national self-determination. So for example they would not support American whites creating their own ethno-state enclave. They see whites as the dominant ethnic group on the planet and it would probably take an enormous diminishment of white power in the world, beyond even the "the US turns into South Africa" scenario that many right-wingers fear, for them to see whites as an oppressed group that it is in alignment with progressive values to support against oppression. After all, one can argue that in South Africa whites still dominate the economy. Not that I think this is a very good argument, but my point is that South Africa would have to become even more significantly a place where white people are not on top than it is now for progressives to change their minds about it.

Progressive support both of the Union in the Civil War and the cause of Palestinian independence is explained by the fact that they view the Confederacy and Israel as two manifestations of what they see as their core enemy - white supremacist colonialism. They think of Ashkenazi Jews as being a type of white people and they see Israel as being a white colonialist project similar to Rhodesia, apartheid South Africa, or the French in Algeria and Vietnam. They think of Israel as being analogous to the Confederacy and they think of the Palestinians as being analogous to the Confederacy's black slaves. They think highly of John Brown and they would think highly of a pro-Palestinian John Brown. They think highly of Lincoln and they would probably also think highly of some national leader who used military force to get Israel to give the Palestinians concessions. If that national leader also oppressed people, well, there are ways to rationalize that, the simplest one being just not to think about it too hard. Lincoln himself was no great champion of civil liberties, anyway, except when it came to slavery, but oh well you can always argue that "can't make an omelet without cracking some eggs". So for example, forcing white people to risk their lives in the army for a few years is viewed as good if the army is then used to end the practice of forcing black people to pick cotton for their whole lives and their descendants' lives and so on. Although as a side note, to tell the truth I kind of doubt that most progressives (or people of any other political alignment, for that matter) are well-read enough about the US Civil War to even realize that the Union widely used conscription. But maybe Gangs of New York changed that, I'm not sure, I haven't watched it myself.

There is also a subset of leftists who generally just oppose the US government and its geopolitical adventures, seeing the US government as the current chief global manifestation of the great progressive enemy. This explains for example the subset of leftists who support Russia in the current war. Such open opposition to US global hegemony is common among hardcore leftists who do not necessarily think of themselves as progressives, at least not in the sense of what people nowadays usually mean when they say "progressives". Leftists who are closer to the Democratic Party view of things, on the other hand, feel little negative emotion about US global hegemony and have a lot of desire to use the US governing apparatus to promote the cause of social justice.

I've never seen any progressives raising their voice about the plight of the few remaining whites in Zimbabwe, though . . .

(That might have changed had Mugabe forbidden them from leaving the country, but it's still a stretch of imagination.)

Unironically Zimbabwe would have been better off if it had stayed Rhodesia with white people in charge instead of being handed to the locals who have no metis on how to run a modern day state.

I refuse to believe the British who handed it over, who were otherwise competent and well calibrated, would not have foreseen this as a likely outcome but they still decided to shirk their duty to the land and its people and run away once it became clear that continuing to rule over it would cost more in time, effort and money than just abandoning it to the wolves. They were happy to take ownership of it when the going was good and they could freely extract resources from it, but bailed very quickly once it looked like shit was about to hit the fan.

Interesting fact - up until the 2021 Tokyo games, every swimmer who competed for Zimbabwe in the Olympics was white!!

Are the remaining whites currently under considerable threat? At least according to this they are being compensated for land reform seizures since 2020, and some have returned.

I do remember that when Mugabe's land reform and the related farm seizures were in progress, Mugabe was basically quite universally portrayed in the West as a black Hitler, and Zimbabwe was slapped with considerable sanctions, which actually appear to be still in force.

So for example they would not support American whites creating their own ethno-state enclave.

A question that progressives sometimes get asked is 'how can you be so against white separatists but still associate with black separatists?'

One answer is 'As we understand the situation, in the US at at least, most black separatists are talking about going somewhere new and founding a black-only community, and most white separatists are talking about expelling everyone else from where they already live, or just oppressing them until they leave.'

If people wanted to start new white ethno-state somewhere else, with no non-white citizens so no one is being oppressed, I would think they are very stupid and tacky, but I wouldn't have an extremely strong moral objection.

Neither would I. Unfortunately I think that many progressives would oppose even a white ethno-state that set up camp in some completely unpopulated part of the world, purely on knee-jerk reflex reaction. Many of them seem like they simply cannot imagine any large-scale situation in which white people are not dominant.

In an odd way, white nationalists respect non-whites more than progressives do. White nationalists are usually driven by a fear of being overrun by powerful non-whites, meanwhile most progressives seem to not even be able to imagine that this is possible on anything other than a very local scale.

The problem being, of course that unless you leave Earth entirely, people live everywhere. This make the idea of founding an ethnostate anywhere on the planet an exercise in genocide whether hard or soft. Find me an empty plot of land somewhere near plausible trade routes, with a reasonable climate, and there are people living there.

So in both cases there is a legitimate claim to right of self determination

Is there? The right to self-determination belongs to "peoples.". You are assuming that both Palestinians and southerners are/were "peoples", but what constitutes a "people" is the most contentious part of the right to self-determination. Not only are you skipping over the hard part, you are ascribing to progressives views (ie, re what constitutes a "people") that they might or might not hold. (And note that African-Americans in the antebellum South would also seem hold a claim to be a "people" under some views of what constitutes a "people.").

This is a real key issue that I haven't been able to get anyone to bite on when I raised it before. Exactly what are the features of a group with the right to claim territory and "self-determination"? Is it races? Ethnic groups? Language groups? Any group with the military muscle to make it stick? How long does how much of a group have to live in an area before they have a "right" to the land? How long does that "right" last after they leave?

Everyone acts like there is a set of good definitions and well-established international law here, but there just isn't.

Yeah, this is one of many reasons that I am dubious of the entire concept. Part of the problem is that the "answer" to the first question is that each "nation" has the right to self-determination, but a "nation" is largely self-defined. To quote Wikipedia:

Carl Darling Buck argued in a 1916 study, "Nationality is essentially subjective, an active sentiment of unity, within a fairly extensive group, a sentiment based upon real but diverse factors, political, geographical, physical, and social, any or all of which may be present in this or that case, but no one of which must be present in all cases."


Nationalism is consequently seen an "invented tradition" in which shared sentiment provides a form of collective identity and binds individuals together in political solidarity. A nation's foundational "story" may be built around a combination of ethnic attributes, values and principles, and may be closely connected to narratives of belonging.

Re Israel/Palestine, a complication is that both have a legitimate claim to being nations, but want to locate their state in a particular place. Though afaik, there is no requirement that a nation have its state in a particular place (see, eg, past proposals to locate the Jewish state in places other than the Middle East).

From the point of view of the part of the modern left that generally favours secessionist movements, a big part of the answer is that they favour secessionist movements that appear to enjoy supermajority support among the inhabitants the seceding territory, or actually do enjoy a bare majority confirmed in a referendum. The progressive position on Scottish, Catalan, or Quebecois succession is that it is an appropriate matter for a referendum in Scotland/Catalunya/Quebec. In general, the view of progressives outside those places is that a "yes" vote is not per se a progressive cause, although holding a referendum that the British/Spanish/Canadian government doesn't want is one. In the case of secession of the West Bank and Gaza from being de facto part of Israel (i.e. a two-State solution), no such referendum is necessary because the result would be obvious.

"From the river to the sea" is a claim that the Israeli Jews are settler colonialists and not part of the "legitimate" population of the territory and that therefore a referendum that included them would be illegitimate - pre-GFA Sinn Fein took the same view about the Protestants in Northern Ireland, and supporters of Ukraine have made the argument about Russians who moved to Crimea post-invasion. This viewpoint used to be fashionable when the left was more sympathetic to ethno-nationalism, but in the current year nobody claims to support a United Ireland without a referendum, and the people chanting "from the river to the sea" are either confused about what this means or rabid anti-Semites.

Under this framework, the Confederate secession was illegitimate because the democratic consent of the inhabitants of the seceding territory was never secured. 40% of the Confederate population (including majorities in LA/MS/SC) were slaves or disenfranchised free blacks. And white support for secession was never close-enough to unanimous to argue that a 40% minority didn't need to be consulted.

Note that the democratic theory of secession is mostly relevant to cases where there are not large numbers of human beings being mistreated. The strongest argument for the existence of a Palestinian state is of the same type as the argument for the existence of Israel - that there are several million people whose fundamental rights will not be respected if they are ruled by people who hate them. The strongest argument against Confederate secession is the same as well - that the practical impact of the secession would be to violate the rights of human beings by enslaving them.

There's a strong practical case for military force.

It might be a bit circular in reasoning, but in practice it's the only thing that has ever bounded which groups get their own polity and which don't. Be nice until you can coordinate a sufficiently targeted and violent meanness.

I would say, in the absence of any overarching moral principle here, that any group that can maintain a military campaign against the military force of another group for some extended period of time (think generations, not years) is probably going to be a nation at some point. Groups too small or fractious to form, fuck and fund a military don't get on the board, and groups too weak or psychotic to fight other militaries haven't cleared the hump. To be violent and weak is simply to dig one's own grave.

Ok, but this seems to be a different sort of claim. First, you seem to be talking about who is going to be able to create their own state at some point, rather than what merits deeming a particular group to be a nation. Second, the key point of the right to self-determination is that it is a right, which is a claim that "might makes right" is illegitimate (what is the right to free speech, or the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, if not a claim that govt power to act is not relevant to determining how govt and the individual must interact with one another). And of course, the right to self-determination was quite consciously a repudiation of imperialism, which of course is perfectly justified under your formulation.

To be violent and weak is simply to dig one's own grave

Yes, but that is a peripheral issue. We are talking about what groups have the right to self-determination, which is a completely different question from what tactics should be employed in pursuit of that goal.

First, you seem to be talking about who is going to be able to create their own state at some point, rather than what merits deeming a particular group to be a nation.

Yeah, kind of. Having found the intellectual problem unsolvable, I have napkin-mathed the practicalities.

Perhaps definitions are in order? What do you mean by "nation" as distinct from "state"?

Well, the standard distinction (note that I am merely describing the standard usage rather than advocating for it. I think that nationalism (this one, not the vernacular synonym with patriotism) is a pernicious doctrine). This does a decent job re the distinction:

A State is an independent, sovereign government exercising control over a certain spatially defined and bounded area, whose borders are usually clearly defined and internationally recognized by other states. . . . A nation is a group of people who see themselves as a cohesive and coherent unit based on shared cultural or historical criteria.

Hence, the Kurds are arguably a nation. But they don't have a state. Ditto the Basques. Ditto the Uygyurs. Ditto the Catalans. Perhaps even the Walloons or the Quebecois.

A nation is a group of people who see themselves as a cohesive and coherent unit based on shared cultural or historical criteria.

This seems entirely too broad. Is a street gang a nation? A knitting circle? A hundred remaining members of a defunct native tribe? A thousand? In the context of our discussions this week, there's tens of millions, maybe a hundred million descendants that can look back to the Confederacy and the South more generally as a shared cultural and historic criteria. Are they a nation?

Tabling that for the moment, and assuming we have a solid definition for nationhood on this basis: Do nations have the collective right to own land, control that territory and engage in group violence to acquire/protect it? Is the "nation", however defined, the proper unit and scale of violent action? Is it the state? Individual?

The question as I see it is which level of human organization is recognized as the proper scale for violent conflict.

More comments

Wanted to quickly ask: How common is the knowledge that Lee 1. was offered a position among Union command when hostilities broke out, 2. himself held a desire for the states to remain in a union, and 3. ultimately chose to follow wherever his home state decided to go. It seems not very common.

Does that sound like someone solely motivated by a desire to keep Africans in the fields of the South for the express purpose of agricultural productivity? Sure he chose the side that ultimately lost, but it seems that this attitude of "throw him in with the rest" is novel, historically.

Relatedly how many people outside the south know that the flag of southern pride that appears on the roof of General Lee's namesake orange dodge was NOT the national flag of the Confederacy but Lee's personal standard. The "stars and bars" you referred to in Civil War era memoirs looked like this. And before some pedant brings up the bloodstained banner in the comments, yes the CSA did change its flag after Gettysburg to incorporate Lee's standard into it's iconography (as did several southern states) i think its notable that the updated CSA flag is not the one that gets displayed in most contexts.

And I know you know this but I want to clarify- while the Confederate army arguably punched above its weight, the Confederacy's civilian government was a shitty, incompetent plutocracy that would probably have collapsed under the weight of corruption and regional infighting had the Confederacy won the war(either with a knockout blow the union couldn't recover from or by the northern population electing peaceniks).

Well, Lee was the only confederate leader who could win. The other theaters all collapsed rather quickly.

Collapse is a strong word, but the Union was consistently winning in other theaters.

Why didn't Lee join the Union army and then sabotage the Union war effort?

  • -10

That would have been dishonorable

I know i shouldn't feed the troll but the two answers that immediately come to mind are; A) he wasnt a prick, and B) the Union turned out to be perfectly capable of sabotaging thier own efforts thankyouverymuch.

Perhaps imbedded in A but Robert E Lee was a man of honor. Shame that his state was fighting to persevere something dishonorable.

That was the "Lost Cause" Confederate apologist narrative widely taught at tons of southern US public schools up to at least the 2010s, including my own.

  1. ultimately chose to follow wherever his home state decided to go. It seems not very common.

His home state had split between pro-US and pro-Confederate halves. That's why there is now a Virginia and a West Virginia. Even from a perspective of turning off your morals and going for state alignment, when given a choice of which Virginians to side with he chose to help the slavers kill the loyalist half. I am glad his personality cult's statues are being removed and melted down.

This argument would carry more weight if he weren't from Westmoreland.

Among the endless Lost Causer sermons and hagiographies of Lee I've had to sit through I've never heard any wax eloquent about Westmoreland and the virtues of different counties within VA versus others, it's all about Ol' Virginny and his alleged inability to lift a finger against his state*. Where he had chosen to live circa the start of the Civil War was so close to DC that I could see the Washington Monument and the Pentagon from looking out of it.

*Offer not applicable to the half of Virginia who didn't want to join secessionist slavers, and presented the perfect opprotunity to stand by alleged anti-secessionist beliefs and fight for Virginia in the war without joining the CSA

The point is that when discussing "which Virginians to side with" Lee was not from Charlston nor was he a Hillbilly.

I'm sure it was a binary choice for him too.

It speaks to his failures as a human being that he chose so poorly. Being uncommitted to the Confederate cause would honestly make it even worse that he chose to help them kill hundreds of thousands of people anyway.

This is year zero thinking. You are applying your 21st century morals to a guy who lived in practically a different universe. Who do you think were the failures as human beings of covid - the vaccinated or the unvaccinated?

No. I am applying the morals of his own time. Lee knew that slavery was evil, and fought to defend it anyway out of a misguided sense of patriotism. Given the many positive aspects of his character, I hope he gets to spend eternity slightly further away from the Fire than, say, Jeffrey Epstein.

What seems more likely to you - that Lee proudly fought to protect his evil empire that did heinous things he knew would put him in hell, or that maybe slavery wasn't considered so uniquely evil that it superceded every other consideration? That's the year zero thinking here, you treating it like a settled subject, like Lee's conception of slavery as evil was the same as a 21st century conception of slavery as evil, instead of say how blasphemy is evil.

Which side of the covid vaccine belongs in hell with Epstein, Lee and me? The pro or the anti? Is it more evil to force someone to surrender bodily autonomy or to put your health and comfort before the welfare of the sick and injured? Or am I missing fricking light years of nuance by reducing it to a binary like that?

If we're comparing people to Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, the rebel leader who killed tons of people for a bad cause fighting for millions to be enslaved and kept uneducated in harsh agricultural labor is clearly much closer to "Year Zero" than the people saying he shouldn't have done that, both today and in the 19th century. OP contains a ton of claims about him being conflicted and torn about this decision, and there were many southern unionists and abolitionists and widespread debate over secession, so clearly it was also controversial by 19th century moral standards. And the overarching discussion concerns public shrines and idols promoting veneration of Lee in the 21st century.

Lol all I said was this is year zero thinking, and you claim I am comparing people to Pol Pot? Do I even need to be here, it seems like you are trying to do both sides of the conversation yourself!

I wasn't comparing anyone to Pol Pot. I said exactly what I meant to say, and I meant every word of it. You are still applying your 21st century morals to a guy who lived in practically a different universe.

As you say the issue was clearly controversial - back then. Because it isn't anymore, I'm surprised to have to tell you, slavery was successfully abolished in the US years ago now. Nobody is torn and conflicted in two thousand and twenty three about whether it's ok to enslave black people. In 2023 the idea of enslaving another person is heinous, and considered a defining moral failing - like murderers and rapists, slavers are considered defacto evil, whereas back then people who owned slaves were controversial, but still respected - enough to lead the Union army for instance.

So unlike you, Lee did not have the luxury of recognising slavery as an easily answered black and white question, he was forced to consider the entire confederate cause (which was not just about slavery, although I understand why you think it was) and he even had to consider other things like looking after his home and family.

This is why I updated the scissor statement to something more recent - covid. Given how sure of your moral clarity you are, you can easily tell me who the failed human beings there were right?

Edit: legibility

I do not believe you when you claim you weren't explicitly comparing MadMonzer and I to the Khmer Rouge. "Year Zero" was Pol Pot's concept. The usage here was not in reference to the Nine Inch Nails album or the day after Nazi Germany fell. It's like if someone called a debate opponent a Quisling then claimed they weren't comparing them to nazi collaborators.

Because it isn't anymore, I'm surprised to have to tell you, slavery was successfully abolished in the US years ago now.

Unfortunately it has not been fully abolished, just the chattel kind. A whole lot of people still think of slavery as ok if the slaves are given that status by a court per the 13th amendment rather than an auction block. Those of us who recognize forced inmate labor as slavery are considered controversial. I am fully confident that I would have been an abolitionist then as I am now. I worked in the prison system as part of a family dynasty of prison wardens and grew up constantly surrounded by inmate chain gangs picking cotton and soybeans under armed guard in the hot southern sun and being used for all manner of work from butlers to factory workers. I was repeatedly taught both at home, school and in training academies that the Confederates were the good guys and chattel slavery a mostly benign institution and believed both for a time. Yet I turned my back on this career with an offer in hand to become a warden (the camp commander kind, not the rank-and-file kind) with a lucrative salary due to independently reaching the conclusion that inmate forced labor constituted a form of slavery. This relevation and acting as my conscience demanded as a result had immense personal and professional cost that I do not regret for a moment. So yes, I am fully confident that given I independently rejected a widespread socially accepted form of slavery at high cost while being socialized to see both prison slavery and the original chattel slavery as acceptable with strong financial, family and geographic incentives to choose otherwise, that I would have also rejected the original chattel slavery. Additionally, while most of my ancestors fought for the Confederacy as light calvary and artillerymen, a few took to the hills rather than be conscripted into their forces. But we're talking about Lee here, not me. And again, according to the claims above Lee recognized slavery as evil but chose to lead armies to defend it anyway.

In terms of covid, Lee was a high ranking leader who knowingly committed an immense moral failing that killed tons of people, not a rank and file foot soldier taking potshots. So the roughly analogous figures would be high ranking leadership deliberately making decisions that got hundreds of thousands or millions killed while knowing better. In that department I would place the scientific and political leadership who oversaw gain of function research and covered up the lab leak rather than sharing everything they knew, Chinese gov personnel who knowingly allowed international travel while they had a new virus actively spreading within their borders, as well as foriegn government officials who refused to strictly quarantine travelers coming from China due to putting political/business considerations of not upsetting the Chinese government above preventing a new virus from spreading into their citizenry.

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He was in a senior leadership position. This wasn’t some rank and file conscript grunt just following orders.

IMO it’s even worse that he could have chosen the Union but decided to fight to keep race based slavery alive as an institution in his home state. The man is the opposite of an American hero.

Don’t forget 4. described slavery as a “moral and political evil.” Meanwhile Grant and his wife also owned slaves. Part of the problem is that modern people are allergic to nuance. Everyone must be either a hero or a villain. There’s no room in the modern imagination for anything in between.

Thats more a post-modernist thing than a modern one, but point taken.

The Civil War was about slavery; the reasons people fought for one side or another, on the other hand, varied a great deal, with ending or supporting slavery not being a major individual motivation. The conflation of the two leads to errors on both sides, with some people defending the South because many of the individuals fighting for it had benign or at least understandable motivations, while others project institutional/systemic causes onto anyone who fought for the South. That conflation also provides a fertile ground for fighting contemporary culture wars via history.

The Civil War was about slavery

This is endlessly repeated but breaks down fairly quickly. The North did not invade the South "to end slavery." The North invaded the South to end secession.

Yes, the South seceded to preserve slavery as they rightly saw that they were losing at the national level in the long run. But secession is not a synonym with war.

So there were two essential steps:

  1. The South secedes.
  2. The North attacks to prevent secession.

If it could be maintained historically that 2) was caused/motivated by abolitionist ideals, "The Civil War was about slavery" might make sense in its very ambiguous, general way. But it really cannot.

Eliding that preventing secession was the motivation for war by Lincoln and the North allows those "on the right side of history" to pretend that they and their allies were holy. On the contrary, their motives were at best Machiavellian.

Most (but certainly not all) progressives I've seen are careful to distinguish that when they express support for the Palestinian cause, they are not defending Hamas. There's no question that Hamas's goals include complete extermination of the Jewish people, they don't even pretend otherwise, but one can in principle support the Palestinian cause and Palestine "from the river to the sea" without also calling for a final solution.

Perhaps this is just a motte-and-bailey argument no different from the revisionist claim that the Confederacy was fighting for "states' rights". I honestly don't know and can't offer an opinion on what proportion of Palestinians sincerely support the extermination of the Jewish people, or see that as a necessary evil in the establishment of a Palestinian state. But in principle I see no reason why pursuit of a Palestinian state must require the extermination of Jews (or even just Israelis).

I don't think the mirror image argmument of supporting the Confederacy's aims of independence but objecting to the Davis administration would hold much water anywhere.

It wasn't just the Davis Administration. All four states that issued explanations of their reasons for secession put the threat to slavery as the primary reason.

Be careful with historical documents - those were political documents written for public consumption. You're not entirely wrong - the seceding states clearly thought slavery was a central pillar of their unique civilization (though they were not unconflicted about it). However, they also had every incentive to try and bring the northern abolitionists, who were a small minority widely-viewed as radical, humorless, and radical (not in the good sense), front and center. When you're reading those, take the same attitude you'd take towards Lindsey Graham talking about the invasion of Iraq in 2003, or AOC talking about the Floyd riots - it's basically the same thing.

I don’t buy it. Yes, those were political documents, but they were aimed at at least three audiences: 1) the federal govt; 2) foreign powers, esp Great Britain; and 3) their own citizens. Their incentive was to convince all of them that secession was legitimate, and saying "we want to preserve slavery" was not the way to do that.

But it's not a mirror image argument. Davis admin was unarguably the leading institution of the Confederacy. Hamas isn't unarguably the leading institution of the Palestinians, while there's not an unarguable leading institution the PA still is the formal representative of Palestinians (in abroad contexts, for example). Hamas runs Gaza, mostly, but that's different from the Palestinians.

While I agree with your point of 'that's different from the Palestinians,' I'd also point that- from my perspective- 'The Palestinians' as a coherent collective has been degrading over the last many years, at the very least since the 2007 Hamas-Fatah conflict in which Hamas notably publicly executed Fatah officials by throwing them off of tall buildings, which was then accompanied by the attacks on Israel that led to the Gaza blockade and the loss of Gaza-West Bank travel.

We're about 15 years into not just the political, but cultural divergence between Gaza and the West Bank. Different social services, different education systems, different lived experiences, and so on, with increasingly little interaction or cultural exchange between them to produce a meaningful 'average' Palestinian experience. Gaza and Westbank were already heavily divergent from the Palestinian experiences in regional refugee groups, where- for example- Jordanian-Palestinians had different degrees of 'authentically Palestinian experience' from the Kuwaiti-Palestinians (at least before their expulsion), and so on.

To a degree, 'Palestinian' is becoming less and less a meaningful political identity, and more of a sub-ethnic/social descriptor, whose meaning changes by geographic area.

Were the videos of the Oct 7 attack meet with delight or dismay in Palestine?

but one can in principle support the Palestinian cause and Palestine "from the river to the sea" without also calling for a final solution.

This is a flagrant example of sane washing/running cover.

It's the same Motte and Bailey bullshit where more milquetoast progressives chanted Defund the Police and All Cops Are Bastards, and when pressed, retreated to claiming they just wanted accountability in policing.

Burn it before it takes root.

I came to a conclusion a while ago that I am no free speech absolutists under a couple of conditions. The Free Palestine from the river to the sea is one area where I think we may have passed what I think we can allow. There has been some talk of foreign ownership of tick tock and how we had limits on foreign ownership of media. My Overton window for restricting speech comes down to these factors:

  1. Is it something really bad that if implemented would ruin civilized society. This saying comes far too close to explicit promotion of genocide. Sure you can sane wash it but it really does feel like a belief one step away from advocating a policy of the holocaust.

  2. Is the threatening speech outside of a nutty 1-2% of the population and capable of becoming official policy. I don’t care what some cult talks about which includes things within some gender studies program. Looking at views in the younger generation it feels like the majority of young people hold these beliefs in some form.

Society needs the free exchange of ideas obviously and free speech should be the dominant belief in most instances but this seems to be approaching if not past my line.

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The Free Palestine from the river to the sea is one area where I think we may have passed what I think we can allow.

Palestine shall be free, from the river to the sea.

The moment you decide that some particular phrasing or statement deserves to be suppressed with government force you immediately engender a hostile reaction, as people usually implicitly realise that authorities banning certain types of speech are not doing so for the benefit of the people they rule over. While obviously some "speech" doesn't get this kind of reaction, like child pornography, political statements like this absolutely don't fall into that category.

Personally, the fact that you've established a "line" of permissible opinions immediately makes me want to repeatedly violate it, because I see that as an attack on my own freedoms. And of course my counter-argument, which has just as much validity as your desire to put a clamp over my mouth, is that calls for censorship like your own lie outside the bounds of permissible political discussion.

Yes I have a line. Kill all Jews seems to be it.

I absolutely believe that people should be able to say that. I don't agree with that message, but I think it should be possible for people to disagree with me. But I didn't actually say that anyway - the fact that you interpret that statement as "kill all jews" is entirely on you. The fact that a statement you disagree with prompts you to hallucinate genocidal intentions is an excellent argument against your self-admitted desire to be placed in charge of what constitutes permissible speech.

Aren’t you a Holocaust denier or am I confusing. People say things before they do things. We aren’t talking a fictional writing class.

You're accusing me of being a holocaust denier because I disagree with your desire to shut my mouth for me? This is comically uncharitable and looks to me like nothing more than an attempt to attack me by falsely putting inflammatory words in my mouth while feigning innocence by way of ignorance. For the record, I'm not a holocaust denier, and have never claimed to be. I have in fact made posts which reference the holocaust as having happened, and it boggles my mind that I have to actually state this.

But to answer your point, the claim that people who say this are actually making is that there'd be a single state, democratic solution. If you believe that being members of a multicultural democracy instead of an ethnostate would be the death of the jews then you're making the same arguments as the white nationalists on the alt-right, and you don't get to criticise anyone for being racist anymore - which is something I believe you do care about, given that you tried to attack me by calling me a holocaust denier.

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Gonna have to disagree with you there, I'm a free speech absolutist who thinks the Holocaust happened, disagrees with the Nazis on everything and am not antisemetic in the least - and yet I'll defend to the death their right to say Jews are evil and the Holocaust never happened.

And you hold that position if your choice becomes something like

  1. Shutdown tick-tock
  2. Let the speech happen, probability of a Holocaust happening increases to 30%?

There are things I value more than free speech. I don’t have a problem with a lot of things America did in third world countries to limit communism. Sure you can argue I’m giving you a false choice but I’m not positive it’s a false choice.

So far, I have seen no evidence that suppressing speech (in the sense of sharing ideas, ideals, theories etc.) is actually reliable at reducing violence on-net. In fact, it's one of the favorite tools of authoritarian governments to oppress people physically, and also suppress their speech to keep them from complaining about it. The only thing suppressing speech seems to be consistently good at is helping the elite enforce their will on the population (hell, even that not always; there's plenty of examples of inept crackdowns that seem to actively help the spread of whatever they wanted to suppress. Which seems good for exactly as long as you agree with the elite.

That said, I think there are some common-sense limits to speech. Explicit calls to violence, coordinating crimes etc. really have very little redeeming qualities, have a very direct connection to actual violence/crimes and are imo quite easy to distinguish, so I'm not overly worried about outlawing them. On the other hand, while I'm hardly a holocaust denier, I'm pretty strongly against the holocaust laws in my country, germany, because it's imo essentially identical to define Pi by law to be a specific value so that nobody is even allowed to question it - even if we're pretty confident about it, this is imo not inside the scope of what laws should (and contrast to defining Pi by law for the purpose of legal disputes, while still allowing discussions about it).

The obvious point would seem to be to speak out on how the choice is a false dilemma being proposed by the people predisposed to censor tick-tock, who are merely utilizing unrelated historical events to try and emotionally cludgeon people into accepting censorship as the lesser of two evils rather than an unrelated, and unnecessary, evil in and of itself.

A bit if deeper thought is they every nation has their memes or same mythology. Letting the Chinese picks the algorithms and memes for our next generation seems dangerous. This Israel situation might. E a prime example of that.

Thing is, even now and even if you are the USGov, you can't really shut down the speech. You can drive the unsavoury characters underground, and leave the folks who might actually be able to work out a solution unsure what they can say (and by extension do) -- but samizdat was a thing even for much more repressive governments in a much less technologically advanced environment. You can't stop it, why no meet it head-on?

Look at here, we have resident Holocaust narrative non-enjoyers, very enthusiastic ones -- how much traction do they get? Honestly modern narrative enforcement just makes me more doubtful of all the stuff I learned in History class, not less -- I'm not quite buying SS's line at the moment, but really how would I know any better? That's where your values put me -- thankfully I think they weren't quite shared by the powers that be for this lovely period of a few hundred years so far; let's not fuck it up.

30% seems wildly exaggerated. I think suppressing the river to the sea sloganning on TikTok would only make it louder on other platforms, so I'll put the effect at "decreases by X%".