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Culture War Roundup for the week of December 25, 2023

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Atlanta is a strange city. It simultaneously has a distinct old-south vibe, inner-city blight, an aggressive ("vibrant"?) and mainly white LGBTQ community, and a modern skyline dominated by the headquarters of Fortune 500 companies. It is also separated from some of the most "southern" rural areas in the USA by a drive of mere minutes.

It was to Atlanta that I drove for the Peach Bowl, the first-time ever match between my favorite college team and my second-favorite college team.

There are plenty of culture war aspects to the game that I could describe. There are the homeless tents and camps scattered beneath crumbling ruins of houses and former businesses in the old Downtown while across the street is one of the most expensive and luxurious stadiums ever made. There were the two mostly rural (but wealthy!) fanbases completely out of place in south Atlanta: what seems perfectly normal in the Grove or in State College becomes grotesque when placed next to either a homeless camp or a glistening 5 star hotel. There is the transfer portal and opt-outs wreaking havoc to bowl games and the rise of Name Image Likeness (NIL) shell companies that effectively launders alumni donations to pay college athletes which enable rich and (mostly) conservative alumni to buy championships rather than elections.

Instead I will describe the invocation given before the game. Before every American sporting event the crowd is invited to stand for the National Anthem. Most know to place their hands over their hearts during the anthem. This time as we were invited to stand, I was anticipating the anthem to start playing and put hand over heart. Instead the announcer asked us to bow our heads for an invocation. This was the first time I had experienced a prayer prior to a football game and in my cynicism I expected a universalist crowd-pleasing platitude. As a serious Christian, I was willing to listen respectfully but did not want to intimate that I thought the prayer was actually being made to the God of the universe. The first word from the black preacher disabused me of my cynicism: "Father", he prayed. I adopted a more reverent posture as I recognized this preacher genuinely believed he was talking to God. He prayed that the athletes would perform to their best of their abilities, that there would be no serious injuries, and finally for an attitude of gratefulness that we had the opportunity and means to enjoy such a venue. In light of the blight and ghetto surrounding the stadium, I especially appreciated this last sentiment.

As he was concluding his prayer he delivered his most potent and shocking affirmation: "we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, who died for our sins, and on the third day rose again! AMEN!".

Seventy thousand people were dead silent, stunned. Then a significant portion (possibly a third to a half) broke out in applause. An Ole Miss fan next to me chortled, "I don't think that went according to script!". The band struck up the anthem, and hands were placed over hearts. The anthem is often my favorite part of a sporting event: two teams may hate each other but they become unified in support of a shared nationality and identity. This time, it was a distant second place compared to the invocation.

AMEN!! No matter what the LEGACY MEDIA tells you, real American PATRIOTS stand up and let their FAITH in GOD be known to all! White black or otherwise, we are ALL children of GOD on this blessed day!!!

~ Mrs. Cirrus

Sent from my iPad

  • -10

Holidays always seem to be terrible for moderation. I banned someone on thanksgiving. I banned someone on christmas. And you have made a good attempt for getting me to ban someone on new years eve.

I'd rather not go for the hat trick, so this is just a warning. You don't post here often, and you don't have any past warnings. This kind of post is bad, don't do this.

Cirruscels have nothing on Cumlonimbuschads with their fetch anvils and everything...

Cirrus: thin and wispy

Cumlonimbus: thick and volumnous, only clouds imbued with the power of Zeus™.

Instead I will describe the invocation given before the game. Before every American sporting event the crowd is invited to stand for the National Anthem. Most know to place their hands over their hearts during the anthem. This time as we were invited to stand, I was anticipating the anthem to start playing and put hand over heart. Instead the announcer asked us to bow our heads for an invocation. This was the first time I had experienced a prayer prior to a football game and in my cynicism I expected a universalist crowd-pleasing platitude. As a serious Christian, I was willing to listen respectfully but did not want to intimate that I thought the prayer was actually being made to the God of the universe. The first word from the black preacher disabused me of my cynicism: "Father", he prayed. I adopted a more reverent posture as I recognized this preacher genuinely believed he was talking to God. He prayed that the athletes would perform to their best of their abilities, that there would be no serious injuries, and finally for an attitude of gratefulness that we had the opportunity and means to enjoy such a venue. In light of the blight and ghetto surrounding the stadium, I especially appreciated this last sentiment.

As he was concluding his prayer he delivered his most potent and shocking affirmation: "we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, who died for our sins, and on the third day rose again! AMEN!".

Ah yes, blacks and rednecks getting along. Institutional collaboration between the two usually involves serious Christians in the limelight because it's high status in both communities.

A great story; I appreciate you recollecting it here.

A Christian-specific invocation is definitely a surprise (and, I imagine, will be “prepared for” in the future by the admins who were in attendance), even if it shouldn’t be given the fanbases and location. One of the most interesting dichotomies of the modern culture war is the differing reactions to public displays of Christianity based on whether the zealot in question is black or white.

Black Christianity, despite being far more charismatic, superstitious, and money-grubbing, gets a pass in the public sphere for two reasons: 1) soft bigotry of low expectations and 2) its platform elevates Blue Tribe politicians rather than Red ones (I’m reminded of Barack Obama putting on an AAVE affect on the few occasions when he discussed Christianity in a non-academic way).

But even the congregates of American Christianity seem to understand this dichotomy without the framework of PMC/Media Culture; Sunday mornings are one of the last remaining public displays of (voluntary) racial segregation. Indeed, I wonder if the Black Church (perhaps along with the leftist safeguarding of Islam) is the one poison pill guaranteeing the survival of White Christianity in a progressive society… at least until the day that the bold partisanship seen in the last week in the courts of Maine and Colorado finally feels confident enough to openly enforce racist practices limiting constitutionally-protected exercises of faith.

I give it a year.

The black church is ‘tolerated’ because firstly, like you say, it still broadly supports Democrats, and secondly because most high status black Americans still aren’t public religious conservatives. Either they’re Christians in the social justice progressive sense, which the monoculture also tolerates among whites, or they’re Christians in name only like Obama, which is irrelevant. There are certainly exceptions but they’re rare enough.

The black equivalent to conservative Christianity is probably black Hebrew Israelites/nation of Islam, which the monoculture hates more than it does ordinary red tribe fundamentalists. I mean there certainly are black baptist KJV-onlyist churches not much different from white-majority KJV-onlyist baptist churches, but they're a lot more marginal and I think generally older than the mixed/white majority ones, in large part because the kinds of African Americans who would become independent fundamental baptists are more attracted to black Hebrew Israelitism.

AFACIT the monoculture is unaware of the existence of the Black Hebrew Israelites & puts them down to some sort of right-wing psyop when and if they sneak into the national conciousness. It's sinful to notice them, so people don't.

black Hebrew Israelites/nation of Islam, which the monoculture hates

Is this true? Louis Farrakhan gave remarks at Rosa Parks’ funeral in 2020, and I didn’t see any major mainstream media outrage about this. Frankly I don’t think mainstream progressives give much thought to the Nation of Islam or to the Black Hebrew Israelites or other hotep organizations at all.

The progressive elite, which obviously includes a lot of Jews, essentially decided to tolerate black nationalist conspiracist ideologies after the 70s. There were some prominent fights around eg NYC public schools, but after that it was generally decided that it wasn’t an important enough religious movement to threaten any existing political leadership.

And that makes sense. In the South, traditional black machine politics remains the dominant black form of political expression, dominated by older congregants and middle aged church-going women. In the rest of the country black people are a small minority that is usually pretty electorally irrelevant outside of a handful of cities like Chicago and Detroit.

You are very good at writing! I've been binge reading your comments and they're very interesting. You should consider starting a blog.

If a Muslim girl is approached by a sex worker, what should the chaperone do?

If a situation arises where a Muslim girl is approached by a sex worker, the chaperone should handle the situation with sensitivity, respect for cultural differences, and a focus on ensuring the safety and well-being of the individuals involved. Here are some general guidelines:

Assess the Situation: The chaperone should observe the interaction and assess whether the approach is causing discomfort or if there are any signs of distress on the part of the Muslim girl.

Intervene Appropriately: If the interaction appears inappropriate or if the Muslim girl seems uncomfortable, the chaperone should intervene in a polite and discreet manner.

Provide Support: If the Muslim girl expresses discomfort or distress, the chaperone should offer support and ensure that she feels safe. This may involve escorting her to a different area or involving additional support staff if necessary.

Respect Cultural Sensitivities: Recognize and respect cultural sensitivities. If there are specific cultural or religious considerations, the chaperone should be mindful of these and address the situation in a way that is culturally sensitive.

Report to Event Organizers: Any concerns or incidents should be reported to event organizers or relevant authorities. They can take appropriate steps to address the situation and provide further assistance if needed.

What if the sex worker is trans?

If a situation arises where a trans sex worker approaches an individual at an event, including a sock hop, the response of the chaperone should be guided by principles of inclusivity, respect, and ensuring the safety and well-being of all individuals involved. Here are some general guidelines:

Observation: The chaperone should observe the interaction carefully, paying attention to the comfort level of the individuals involved.

Intervention if Necessary: If the interaction appears inappropriate or if any party involved seems uncomfortable, the chaperone should intervene discreetly and respectfully.

Respect Gender Identity: Recognize and respect the gender identity of the trans sex worker. Use appropriate pronouns and avoid making assumptions or judgments based on gender identity.

Provide Support: If any individual expresses discomfort or needs assistance, the chaperone should offer support. This may involve escorting the person to a different area or involving additional support staff if needed.

Enforce Event Guidelines: Ensure that any actions taken align with the event's guidelines and rules. This includes creating an environment that is inclusive and free from discrimination.

Report to Event Organizers: Report any concerns or incidents to event organizers or relevant authorities. They can address the situation appropriately and take any necessary follow-up actions.

It's crucial to handle such situations with sensitivity, respecting the dignity and rights of all individuals involved, regardless of their gender identity or profession. Inclusivity and safety should be the top priorities.

This was me using chat.openai.com today. Handled pretty well. Avoids most traps and responds mostly inoffensively. You'll note some prior context with "sock hop".

  • -47

It responds by using a lot of words to say nothing but yes it doesn’t offend basic AWFL sensibilities

This seems a little low effort. If you want to feed an AI some random questions with vaguely CW topics and post the results, provide context, an argument, some relevance. We would rather not see lots of posts about "Look at what ChatGPT says if you ask it about Muslims and trans."

I don't understand the basis of that determination. We have lots of good comments or posts which don't provide context or an argument, but just themselves. Like this jolly little story for example: https://old.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/e5odim/the_barbarian_and_the_711_clerk/

Would it be a problem if I painted a picture (Think like Where's Waldo not Ben Garrison) of my view of some present issue, or a song, if I didn't provide context and explanation for why I think it's interesting to have a picture instead of a comment thread? Where is the dividing line that I can intuit?

  • -11

We have lots of good comments or posts which don't provide context or an argument, but just themselves. Like this jolly little story for example: https://old.reddit.com/r/TheMotte/comments/e5odim/the_barbarian_and_the_711_clerk/

You're kidding. That story was a very high effort post making a philosophical argument, and it was also entertaining and thoughtful. Nothing at all like "Ask ChatGPT what to do if a sex worker approaches a Muslim and post its answer."

Would it be a problem if I painted a picture (Think like Where's Waldo not Ben Garrison) of my view of some present issue, or a song, if I didn't provide context and explanation for why I think it's interesting to have a picture instead of a comment thread?

Yes, just posting a picture or a song, without context or stating your point, would probably get dinged for low effort.

I think the OP in particular has a distinct smell of the sort of "darkly hinting" that is the hallmark of the most partisan and unpleasant CW forums; it's clearly selected as a scenario that is likely to elicit inconsistencies or difficult corner cases in OP's outgroup's ideology, and thrown at a bullshit generator trained on outgroup ideology in the hope of generating a particularly juicy weakman display of an imagined outgroup member squirming in cognitive dissonance. A tribally flipped counterpart would be something like an interview putting random rednecks on the spot with questions about scenarios involving Russians, Ukraine and trad values - letting their stammering stand without comment - except GPT is not even a real progressive subject. Just because you don't say the "boo" out loud, this sort of thing does not become any less boo-outgroup.

Say what you will about the 7/11 post (which I remember well, and personally didn't like at all because it was so obtuse), but at least it took some effort to make. There is zero effort, or value, in a post which consists purely of "I asked these questions from ChatGPT, here's what it said". I can go ask ChatGPT those questions myself if I want to know the answer. Like @slothlikesamwise said, you really need to bring something beyond copy/pasting output from some chat bot.

That's why I bring up the art analogy. Obviously by and large we all recognize that lots of AI content is meaningless slop, but for all we know this guy put in a few hours of work crafting response and questions for the chatbot for this specific output. Is the post only worthwhile if it's an explanation of that process(which I recognize is very unlikely to even have occured)?

If this is art, what is the message? I don't think nasty caricatures of the outgroup are good content for this forum, even if they meet the definition of art.

An explanation of how one got there is one possible angle. Another is some explanation of why the output is relevant or interesting. I don't care about what ChatGPT has to say about Muslims encountering sex workers, whether or not they are transgender. Frankly, I don't care what a human has to say about that because it's just such a bizarre topic. So one has to lay the groundwork of "why is this interesting", whatever form that reason may take.

I presume he just wants more than one sentence of opinion and analysis that amounts to more than "This was more boring than I hoped it would be."

Comparison between various models, swapping islam for christianity, attempting to break the AI, or just more social commentary.

Just because they're annoying doesn't mean they're wrong - a meta-discussion

A few months ago a wild vegan appeared. He was almost self-parodically stereotypical: short, mid thirties, college-educated, and into endurance sports. He posted a reasonably well-argued case that veganism was not harmful to sporting performance, with the usual smug boasting of his numbers in endurance sports. At the end of his post, he finished with "what's your excuse?"

The entirety of his well-reasoned post was ignored, and he was dogpiled for that one final sentence.

Mottizens could immediately detect what was going on - he actually found the killing and eating of animals to be immoral, but didn't think that would be a convincing argument, so he tried to achieve his goal with another argument.

Both positions are actually worth considering. I'm open to the possibility that killing animals for food is wrong, and I'm open to the possibility that a vegan diet is not harmful to athletic performance. Hiding behind one to advance another, however, is deceitful.

I've actually tried to engage seriously with these ideas, and in my desire to see their own steelmen, I have tried to read some vegan sites. Usually I give up quickly, as they are full of the above argumentation - shifting goalposts, emotional appeals, hiding behind one argument to advance another, etc.

I wish I could say I have rejected vegetarianism because I engaged with their best arguments and found them wanting. Instead, I found their argumentation so annoying I ceased to engage with them.

I've had similar experiences with people who hate cars. Like anyone else who can do math, I have often found it absurd to use two tons of car and two liters of fuel to get two bags of groceries. I've also tried to mitigate some of these by moving to a New Urbanist development (with an unpleasant HOA, sadly), and I've got an electric car and solar panels on my roof. Sadly, this doesn't lead to any productive discussion, as I've discussed before.

Years ago, I remember a similar circular argumentative style among supporters of the ACA. They would say that people are afraid to start companies because they won't have health care, to which I'd reply "sure, how about two years of subsidized COBRA?". Then they'd point to catastrophic expenses, to which I'd say "sure, how about a subsidized backstop for all 1MM+ expenses for anyone who has a 1MM plan?", to which they'd change the argument again.

Of course, there's a pattern here. From what I can tell, many vegetarians have an (understandable) response to the raising, killing, and eating of animals. Some people seem to be terrified of owning and operating large machines, and they find private cars and single family housing to be socially alienating. Some people are emotionally disturbed by other people suffering from the health consequences of a lifetime of bad choices.

What these groups all have in common is a strong ability to signal these things emotionally to people similar to them and form a consensus, but also a generally terrible ability to discuss these things reasonably.

We don't have many vegans, anti-car people, or socialists here at The Motte - but that's not because their arguments are invalid, it's because the people attracted to those ideologies don't fit well with our particular discursive style. On the flip side, we have plenty of white nationalists, who seem to be able to adapt.

I'm confident that white nationalists are wrong. I have engaged with their best arguments, and found them wanting.

I'm only confident that vegans are annoying, because they are so annoying that I find it hard to engage with their arguments.

I think that's a blind spot for The Motte.

Some variant of "why do we have so many right-coded extremists and so few left-coded ones" has been discussed in this community and its predecessors every few months since its inception, and one standard answer is that the left-coded extremists have alternatives and superior BATNA on their side. If you are a vegan or tankie, you do not need the acceptance of this forum, as there is a large number of subreddits or real-life communities or whatever available to you with little threat of expulsion or censure - so why bother submitting to our onerous and humiliating rules?

Strong disagree. The reason we have few vegans and anti-car people is because those ideas always crumble under pressure. The reason, "[w]hat these groups all have in common is a strong ability to signal these things emotionally to people similar to them and form a consensus, but also a generally terrible ability to discuss these things reasonably[,]" is because generally these positions are based on emotion rather than logic and almost always develop within bubbles where they don't get challenged. Its almost like being an anti-slavery advocate in 2023 America. What kind of real debate skills do you have? You just assume slavery is bad, everyone else around you assumes the same, so if some sincere pro-slavery advocate came around, you would be confused and, in 99.99% of cases, your only "plan" would be to go with ad hominem attacks. We see this pattern quite often with certain online topics that are associated with left of center groups.

Huh, I'm pretty surprised to see anti-car in this bucket (though I don't feel particularly negatively towards vegans either). I've been around this forum and its predecessors for about a decade IIRC, back when the "discursive style" was quite a bit better[1], and I would say I hate cars. I drive plenty when I'm back in my hometown (LA), and even enjoy it, but would prefer to see equalization with other forms of transport of the gargantuan subsidies it gets for its enormous use of real estate, destructive right-of-ways, and effect on local health via air pollution. Driving is fun, but building a society around driving walkable/bikable/transitable distances is quite obviously insane, and I definitely hate it.

Given that you think these ideas "always crumble under pressure", I'm curious why you think this is so obviously wrong. I'm hoping you have an actual answer to this, and that this isn't just a (ironic, given the thread topic) sign of the precipitous decline of the intellectual quality of this community.

[1] from the perspective of autistic intellectual honesty and open-mindedness

but would prefer to see equalization with other forms of transport of the gargantuan subsidies it gets for its enormous use of real estate, destructive right-of-ways, and effect on local health via air pollution.

Well, since you lead off with a false premise, its not going to end up going all that well for you. We spend less per passenger mile on cars than busses or trains.

Less flippantly, the problem with the premise is that every other form of transit has extreme failure modes when it isn't in an absolutely ideal environment. Walking has the issue of it being hard to go any significant distance quickly. Biking too. Both fail at the important task of lugging around lots of consumer goods (as does public transit in many ways) and also those two fail the weather test. Transit also often fails the weather test because getting to it requires exposure to the elements. When it doesn't, it requires expensive shelters, paired with frequent stops. The frequent stopping is a detriment to the system as a whole because it makes your transit slow, often meaning much slower than a car.

Turning to public transit only, it suffers from an intermittency problem. Buses and trains can't come all the time, as is they already are losing to cars on a fuel per mile basis. This pairs with inconsistency to create a crises in commuting. Sure, if the bus always came at 8, and always got me to the train at 8:10, and that train always came at 8:15 and got me to work at 8:30, hunky dory. But that isn't how it works. Sometimes two buses come at 7:56 and 7:58, then one at 8:15. Now you missed that 8:15 train and have to wait till the 8:45 train, that is delayed, and now you're very late. So its the TSA problem at the airport, except every day of your life. OTOH, cars are simple. You leave 2 minutes late, you are 2 minutes late, more or less. There's no transfers, no cutoffs, etc. You don't know how many times I've seen a train leaving the station right as my bus is pulling into the station only to see the next one is coming in 25 minutes, on a line that is supposed to run every 10 during rush hour.

And then there is the next major problem with public transit, which is lack of directness. Because they are financially irresponsible even when simply transporting people in a hub and spoke system to the major downtown areas, they are downright impossible to operate while connecting spokes. So, lets say you live in Lil Ireland, and have a friend in North Burgandy. A 20 minute drive, being a hypothetical 30 minute bus, but no such bus exists. Instead, you need to take a 30 min bus to Corpopolis, then a 20 min train to South Burgandy, and a 10 min bus to North Burgandy. And you have to hope you don't have long layovers in between.

But how does XXX town make it work? They probably don't. You probably just don't visit people out of your neighborhood that often. This is enforced with violence, or by some sort of violence-adjacent policy that keeps a neighborhood's "character" pure. The kind of things which would face endless lawfare in most of America. Plus you make more of your own food, live in a smaller home, smaller room, etc.

Slavery as punishment for crimes is very widespread in America and the abolitionist position on that is a controversial one.

Yes, and that is another example of a subset of people without very good arguments.

Definitely beg to differ on that one. Absolutely fucked incentives arise from the state maintaining large captive slave labor workforces that get paid pennies or nothing at all, contracting them out to private businesses instead of using normal waged labor, etc.

That is an argument for minimum wages in prisons. A totally different argument than an argument against slave labor. You paired it with an argument against the state subcontracting incarceration to private corporations. Again, a different argument.

Forced labor is part of a great number of criminal sentences, because it is often the humane alternative. Lets say you are in Illinois and pick up your first ever DUI, and there is nothing special about it. The statute says you are eligible for the following penalties: Up to 364 days in jail, $2500 in fines, revocation of your drivers license for at least a year, or any combination thereof. However, prosecutors and judges are allowed to offer/sentence different terms. For example, a prosecutor on a 1st time DUI can offer 2 years of court supervision + 100hrs community service in lieu of asking for jail time or a large fine (which many DUI offenders could never end up affording). In most counties their are 3 tiers of community service: 1) Independent CS, 2) Supervised CS; 3) Sheriff work program. In the first, you just go to your soup kitchen or church, work your hours get a certified letter from your boss and come back with that at the day your supervision is being terminated. Done, you are back to being a free citizen. Terms satisfied. In the second, you report to a social services worker, they assign you to a job. You report in with both regularly. Again. Do the work and you are done. In the third you report to the sheriff, and they essentially run a garbage pickup grew for 8 hours a day. 100 hours would take you 12 days, then you report in, and you are done. Again, this is all forced, unpaid labor. And almost every defendant prefers it to going to jail.

I definitely recognize the behavior in your story, but my reaction is less that it's a rejection of someone being annoying, and more the rejection of an inconvenient argument by fixating on the single least-defensible sentence or part of a sentence in the entire post, while ignoring the rest.

I feel like the very basic design feature of

quoted text

ends up encouraging this behavior a lot. It's such a convenient and coherent way to reply to a post that many people (myself included) use it as the primary organizational scheme for their replies to comments. But it carries a great danger of making it feel natural to pick out individual sentences and only reply to those, either taking them out of context of the overall argument or else only engaging with the weakest or less-central parts of the argument.

And it doesn't help when people (laudably!) like to write very long and engaged posts that cover a lot of ground, making it harder to hold everything about it in your head and respond to the whole gestalt at once, and easier to glaze over and skim stuff until you see a sentence that pops out at you.

I do this myself more than I want to, it's a bad habit that's easy to fall into. And I feel like a lot of people do it when responding to me, and it gets frustrating. It is especially harmful when people are trying to talk across the aisle on some issue, because they ussually have a pre-cached response to at least one sentence in the other side's comment, and firing that off in response to a single quoted sentence really feels like contributing!

But, yeah, I think it limits discussion and is pretty bad for the health of the site.

But it carries a great danger of making it feel natural to pick out individual sentences and only reply to those, either taking them out of context of the overall argument or else only engaging with the weakest or less-central parts of the argument.

Yeah, I realized that the post that I got AAQC'd for last month had exactly that problem—I looked at the specific sentences and mostly failed to address the overall argument or look at them in the context (hopefully at least partly fixed in my next one in that chain). It's easy enough to do.

In defense of using quoted texts, I think it’s actually a pretty helpful feature in arguments because it helps the future readers know exactly what parts of the argument I’m talking about in my response. The post is there for readers to refer back to as needed, which works pretty well to keep people honest. I think my personal rule of using the whole paragraph is useful for me in preventing quote mining and taking things out of context.

It's such a convenient and coherent way to reply to a post that many people (myself included) use it as the primary organizational scheme for their replies to comments. But it carries a great danger of making it feel natural to pick out individual sentences and only reply to those, either taking them out of context of the overall argument or else only engaging with the weakest or less-central parts of the argument.

This may sound bad, but I'm more interested in making my own points than in proving someone else's points wrong. I'll often respond to a particular point, not to nitpick, but to add to the discussion with a point I think is valuable enough to be worth saying.

The more common case is a middle ground between what you describe and what I describe, where someone uses a particular sentence as a jumping-off point to make their own point which actually responds to the general vibe of the entire comment. It could say "here's where you're wrong", "the error in this sentence is representative of an error you make throughout your comment", or "here's the best place to chime in with something you've missed."

The only real issue is when the reply is a sort of reverse gish-gallop where a single slight inaccuracy supposedly proves your whole point wrong. I don't honestly think we have much of an issue with that though.

Fixating on the least defensible sentence is also a defense against Gish gallops, where the author will of course tell you that whichever of the 25 arguments you refuted is the least defensible one.

Hiding behind one to advance another, however, is deceitful.

How so? Isn't it just tailoring your argument for your audience? Does it matter how or why or for what reasons someone agrees to your end goal, so long as they do? If your goal is prohibition, of course you're not going to use the same argument on the baptists as you are on the bootleggers.

So the Motte struggles to productively engage with ideas that are usually held and advocated by the types of people who are a poor fit for the culture here, is that right? Sure, I can believe that.

In general, the Motte is a very male social group that is structured around creating conditions for a masculine "fair fight". The rules are all about structuring an environment where people openly challenge each other, state their position and opposition plainly, and have a battle of wits, skill, and knowledge. The roles of popularity, status, and broader coalitional politics of the people involved are supposed to be temporarily suspended. Some kind of analogous form of this kind of competition occurs throughout the animal kingdom, but almost entirely between competing males, and it's more common as intra-group competition. The outgroup may be regarded more like dangerous animals that need to be eliminated by any means necessary.

Feminized social spaces don't tend to have much time even for the concept of a "fair fight". In fact, for women (or feminine males), the very notion of a fair fight is foolishness. Female social competition is much more about misdirection, subtefuge, and ambush. You should never challenge an enemy openly and square off against them; there should be no declaring a time and place or choosing your weapons. The goal is to wait until your opponents' back is turned and strike, or even better get someone else to strike for you. The roles of popularity, status, and coalitional politics are front and center, and even the very means by which the battle is waged.

This is essentially why too many women in academia is ruining science and related fields. Once there are enough relatively ordinary women, they shift the culture away from the "fair fight" model of science, and so science is now more about popularity, status, and coalitional politics and the battle of ideas is engaged by way of back channels. I recall recently listening to an interview with a philosopher lamenting the terrible influence that critical theory has had on the philosophy profession, and how it has all but taken over without seeming to have won any arguments. Infamously, such people do not engage in debates, i.e. "fair fights", but rather they use indirect, institutional, and social power to defeat their enemies often without even giving them a chance to defend themselves.

In my experience, advocates of veganism (as opposed to all vegans) tend to disproportionately belong to the latter group, and so they aren't going to feel comfortable and competent at interacting with the Motte. Sometimes people like these will actually stumble upon good ideas, and those ideas will perhaps not get a fair hearing on a forum like The Motte because their advocates usually don't fight fair. This could undoubtedly cause a blind spot. There is no solution. White nationalist types tend to be rather masculine in their disposition, and so they usually intuitively and more comfortably engage with the fair-fight culture.

The rules are all about structuring an environment where people openly challenge each other, state their position and opposition plainly, and have a battle of wits, skill, and knowledge

I don't think this is true as stated. It's more of a place where we can discuss ideas and share perspectives. People do stake out opposing positions, but don't really battle as much as they do elaborate and try to convince. I understand why this feels right, the analogy fits. But this place is, if anything, one of the least "battle"-based "political debate" spaces on the internet. Does anyone, for instance, mentally keep track of who's winning the most arguments? I certainly don't - I do have a sense of who's writing well or poorly, but that's almost never based in winning, it's just based on how informative or enjoyable I find reading individual posts. George_E_Hale would be up there if I had to make a status ranked list, even though he just posts little life stories totally unconnected to anything else. Whereas, in say, a community for a small online game, there's a strong competitive spirit and desire to win, people carefully watch who's beating who and try to copy their skills, and form teams based on winrates and stats. Or even in other political debate spaces, there are formalized 'debates' and people discuss after the fact who won the 'debates', who had better arguments, etc. In both of these, while it's not normative, people regularly get very mad when they lose repeatedly, which I don't really see here. So IMO themotte is significantly more feminine in the respect you describe than the kind of 'fair fights' you see in sports - and that's a good thing.

And, indeed, themotte has significantly more women than most other high-intelligence online spaces I participate in, and women are if anything overrepresented among posters I enjoy reading the most versus average posters. (although it's still obviously very male skewed)

Also, iirc most of the major innovators in critical theory, postmodern philosophy, and other in-large-part-BS academic fields (I think there are some good parts in critical theory and postmodernism, but it's undeniable something went wrong) were male. I don't think women have much to do with why Derrida, Freire, or Lacan are like that.

In my experience, advocates of veganism (as opposed to all vegans) tend to disproportionately belong to the latter group, and so they aren't going to feel comfortable and competent at interacting with the Motte

Eh. There are a ton of extremely 'masculine' (in terms of discourse style) vegan advocates, even though you're right that vegan activists are disproportionately female (iirc), so I don't think this is actually an issue at all. Random examples - avi bitterman, vegan gains (both of whom are also very "masculine" in the physical sense), also Effective Altruists (less so in the physical sense)! One of the much more aggressive and combat-oriented debate communities I was referencing above is significantly composed of vegans.

I recall recently listening to an interview with a philosopher lamenting the terrible influence that critical theory has had on the philosophy profession, and how it has all but taken over without seeming to have won any arguments.

Do you still have links to the interview?

Reference here for all the people who got really mad at me for characterizing anti-woke sentiments as believing women are not as competent in high-status professions.

Also:

science is now more about popularity, status, and coalitional politics and the battle of ideas is engaged by way of back channels.

Pretty sure it always was, and only doesn't look that way to us because victors write the history books and because there wasn't social media to record and promote all of it to a wide audience.

Always was, but less so. It's all on the margin, as the economists say. It's not like men were always honorable, but they could at least sometimes be held to that code of honor. It sometimes worked, and that was usually enough. Now it's mostly gone.

The competency of men vs. women is a complicated issue; female social norms don't scale as well but work better in some contexts than others. Science loses much when the "fair fight" model is rejected in order to be more "welcoming" to people who shouldn't be there. Women also tend to bring down the status of professions, because a large part of what makes a profession high status is that it makes men desirable to women, but the reverse is rarely true. It's one of the reasons why high status seems so frustratingly elusive for many women; they do the same things as the men but don't enjoy the same results.

It's worth noting that "fair fight" spaces have their own failure modes, notably that people interpret their opponents uncharitably and take opportunistic potshots. One of my favorite things about quokka spaces is that they avoid those failure modes.

Also "status" is absolutely a thing in masculine spaces, which is one reason why "I'm sorry, I was wrong" is never seen here.

"Never" certainly isn't true. Example 1 and 2 from me.

Also "status" is absolutely a thing in masculine spaces, which is one reason why "I'm sorry, I was wrong" is never seen here.

How many examples do I need to find before I hear this from you? I want a number. I recall seeing this dozens of times in my time here. Status is a thing everywhere, and in healthy cultures apologizing can earn you status.

Also "status" is absolutely a thing in masculine spaces, which is one reason why "I'm sorry, I was wrong" is never seen here.

I did get something quite close! It does happen!

Status is a thing, but once a challenge has been accepted the rules are fair. You're equals at least temporarily. The idea is to suppress the role of status in the conflict.

The rules are 'fair' in the sense of 'it is illegal for rich men and the homeless alike to sleep under an overpass.'

Sure, it's not fair in the cosmic sense of all that might have been but for the random vicissitudes of life. A "fair fight" does not need to satisfy that standard to achieve its intended purpose.

I'm not saying the rules aren't fair. I'm saying the failure modes of the "fair fight" philosophy also hinder productive discussion.

I think that's a blind spot for The Motte.

Tbf it is a blindspot for everyone; the Motte simply isn't as special in its intellectual virtue as its members might like to think.

We all have behaviors that we instinctively regard as amoral, which is go say we don't think about them at all in a moral sense. To have someone come up and tell us (or even just suggest by their own conduct) that these behaviors are morally bad is highly uncomfortable. Since most people like to think well of themselves, the easiest thing to do is plug your ears and shoot the messenger.

also a generally terrible ability to discuss these things reasonably.

Per the above, I'm not sure that is really true so much as they're starting in a massive hole when it comes to bringing their arguments. They're often criticizing core behaviors. It doesn't matter how dispassionate you are about discussing the costs of cars and the benefits of transit when your audience treats the very idea as a personal attack. (Yes, there are annoying advocates, but that is hardly distinctive).

--

(Anecdcote: contra everyone else here, apparently, every vegan I've ever met has been an absolute paragon of health and fitness. Doubtless there are confounding factors, but there are only so many times you can see an obese man warn an ultramarathon runner about the risks of his diet before it loses credibility)

every vegan I've ever met has been an absolute paragon of health and fitness

That's certainly not the case for me. They aren't fat, but I can think of three that all look underfed. Not lean healthy people, but excessively thin.

But maybe I happen to not know vegans who are also into fitness.

I don't personally know any consistent vegans*, but I regularly meet vegans in all manner of shape. Fat, skinnyfat, occasionally some in good shape. All of them seem like they might have some nutrition issues because of eg weird looking eyes.

*I do know one family which is vegan at home but eats what is served to them out and about; their kids are short, but don't seem noticeably dumb or malnourished.

A plurality of the vegans I’ve known were skinny-fat, one who is straight up fat, and the rest were pretty emaciated. In general they seemed malnourished.

I’ve known one vegan in decent shape who was into yoga, she was decently strong and vigorous but she also semi frequently had moderate to severe health issues. I assumed they were related or exasperated by her lifestyle choice as she was generally pretty healthy. She was eating constantly.

At risk of repeating what's been said downthread, your entire disposition towards the topic betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of what's going on. Veganism isn't based on some argument. Either you care enough about animal suffering to do something about it or you don't. Factory farming is, in a lot of places, a torture farm. If you care a lot about animal suffering there is no "argument". There's just a fundamental factual truth about the nature of harvesting animals for food and from there on all else follows. Same is true for 'white nationalism'. Either you care about white people, their bio-diversity, history and continued existence or you don't.

You are not asking for an argument, you are asking for a bonk on the head that makes you see the world in a different light. For some that's videos on Facebook and documentaries, real world experiences or socialization. Whatever it is, you're not dealing with arguments and I think it would behoove you and people who talk like you to stop pretending you are a machine that digests paragraphs and sorts out the fact and logic. You're not.

Same is true for 'white nationalism'. Either you care about white people, their bio-diversity, history and continued existence or you don't.

While some white ethnic groups will likely disappear due to immigration(cockney speakers I think?), white people will continue to exist in every plausible future. In fact whites will make up a decent chunk of the population of America in most plausible futures. You don't have to be a white nationalist to recognize that it doesn't require any actual changes to the way the world will likely work for white people to continue to exist in a fairly wide diversity.

Veganism isn't based on some argument. Either you care enough about animal suffering to do something about it or you don't.

Sure, but no one has a utility function of 0/0/0/0/100.

You can make all types of arguments about why veganism also gets you other things you want beyond reduced animal suffering (maybe it's better for the environment or fights the obesity epidemic or has other health benefits or etc), you can make all kinds of arguments about why it doesn't lose you other things you want (it's easier and cheaper and tastes better than you think, common intuitions about it making you scrawny or low-energy are wrong, etc).

If you care about animal suffering 15, then whether becoming vegan would lose you more or less than 15 in other areas is the determining factor in your decision. And all kinds of arguments are relevant to that calculation.

My answer to that would be 'motivated reasoning'.

Most arguments aren't 'real', for a lack of a better term. They're just stepping stones to get to the promised land, which any actual believer already knows is real. The whole game of 'arguments' is to help the unbelievers, or yourself in days of need, to that place. In other words, arguments are traced back from the thing you already know is true.

I'm not saying there aren't vegans who are vegans for some reason other than the animal suffering, and that those guys aren't making data driven arguments in some sense that's disconnect from the moral impetus driving many vegans, but, in my experience, those are not the vegans we are talking about in the OP.

Either you care about white people, their bio-diversity, history and continued existence or you don't.

I'm white. I care about white people continuing to exist. I'm also not a white nationalist. We'll thrive just fine next to Mexicans and Asian immigrants. The Indian families on my block are not wounding my ability to thrive as a white man.

This appears to be the very falsest of dichotomies.

  1. I’m very worried about shrinking white population coupled with an ideology that says “white man bad.” Other groups already have a pro group in bias (except for whites since we bought into the whole color free paradigm). But add to that extra hatred and it isn’t pretty.

  2. I live in an Indian majority community. Often, I feel like a stranger in a foreign land. My wife gets visible in uncomfortable when I mention this alienation that occurs in my country. This isn’t anything the Indians are doing wrong and most of them seem like nice people. But it isn’t my culture and that is a net negative for me.

You are defining "care" to mean "form an ethnostate excluding non-whites". That's a pretty extreme form of "care". That's so extreme I will reject it as a good definition. There are valid ways to "care" without being a white nationalist.

Which one of these 'ways' does not, in some form, effectively exclude immigration and enforce some sort of segregation to maintain a white population? I am curious considering the state of Texas, which has recently gone majority hispanic.

We'll thrive just fine next to Mexicans and Asian immigrants.

At risk of sounding to snarky, that's like, your opinion, man.

This appears to be the very falsest of dichotomies.

You fit the description of someone who says they care whilst they don't, rather well.

I am curious considering the state of Texas, which has recently gone majority hispanic.

You know a lot of those hispanics are actually literally indistinguishable-from-southern-Europeans white, right?

And a lot of them are not.

Detroit was once called the 'Paris of the West'. I don't think anyone calls it this anymore, except as a sarcastic snub at Parisian decline. The Detroit that was has been permanently lost due to demographic changes.

Everything seems fine until it isn't. Suppose the Indian community, or the Mexican community vote for candidates who'll redistribute resources for whites to Indians on the basis of oppression (or any reason they can find) - why wouldn't they? That's in their interests. Why wouldn't they seek to advance their own collective self-interests? Helping the ingroup and harming the outgroup is basic human nature.

It seems worth noting that the Mexican community has not done this when they have had the opportunity, except incidentally(eg Spanish as an acceptable language of instruction in schools). The equivalent of those black activists pushing for reparations can't get elected.

There was a pretty big thread last week about how Canadians are handling mass immigration from Asia and India and they certainly don't seem to be thriving.

As a practical matter we should limit immigration. Canada really opened the gates. They are something like 20% immigrant at this point. And then didn't build significantly more housing. They really screwed themselves on that last point.

I think avoiding Canada's horrible immigration policy is orthogonal to forming a white ethnostate.

We'll thrive just fine next to Mexicans and Asian immigrants. The Indian families on my block are not wounding my ability to thrive as a white man.

How are the 20% Indian families / other immigrants in Canada wounding the Canadians' ability to thrive?

Is quantity a quality of its own?

Every other Indian family on your block has a family member that they're trying to get to the US using existing laws. These people are probably not going to vote to shut down legal immigration until they've brought all the people they need first. Perhaps they'd even vote to make it more like Canada.

Either you care about white people, their bio-diversity, history and continued existence or you don't.

There are many, many people who care about white people who aren't "white nationalist".

I feel like your sentence needs a little of defining before it holds any relevance.

If I say I care about X, but I wont lift a finger to help X, do I actually care?

If I say I care about X, but refuse to acknowledge that X can ever be at risk or in need of help, and constantly browbeat anyone who acts like there might be risk or need of help, do I care?

Most people are not "white nationalist" because the term is actively marginalized. Most people, in fact, don't like to label themselves as anything at all. They just have their beliefs and opinions and look for the best representation for those beliefs and opinions they can find. Sure, you can care about white people and not associate with some label, but to actually care about white people you have to act like a 'white nationalist', for a lack of a better term, in some form. Ingroup bias expresses itself very uniformly.

As a side note, it's very easy to make up bad faith arguments for what constitutes to 'care'. On that front I think we have a good example from a recent Tucker Carlson interview where he bites into Ben Shapiro a bit.

(A more relevant clip from the interview.)

Does Ben Shapiro care about Israel? Obviously he does. Does he care about America? Well... To an extent he has to, right? He lives there, after all. And he gets animated over various political things over there. Saying he does not care is kind of stupid. But that's also not really the point. Ben Shapiro obviously cares more about Israel than America. Same can be said for many voices in American politics who were happy to tell the world that the Oct. 7 event was equivalent to 10 9/11's. The numbers here, given we know the rough deathtoll of both, can only represent the emotional weight placed on the events by those who make such claims. Why else make a low brow comparison like that.

The point being made here is that you can care about a lot of things. Giving yourself an excuse to say you care is easy. But its how you prioritize things that allows us to see what you 'really' care about out of all the things you say and act like you care about.

If what you meant to say was “advocate for white people”, “donate to white nationalist organizations”, or “advocate against affirmative action”, you could have said that.

From my perspective it seems like you chose a deliberately milquetoast word to make people seem crazy for not liking white nationalists.

If what you meant to say was “advocate for white people”, “donate to white nationalist organizations”, or “advocate against affirmative action”, you could have said that.

That's not what I meant to say. There are certainly a lot of people in the world that do not care about white people.

From my perspective it seems like you chose a deliberately milquetoast word to make people seem crazy for not liking white nationalists.

I am at a loss for what to do for you, if that's the case.

To maybe rephrase what was being said; Vegans care about animals. I know they do because they don't eat animals as an act of protest against the practice of farming and killing animals for food. I might 'care' about animals in some way. I certainly don't like the idea of torturous factory farming. But how much do I care? I certainly am still eating animal meat and produce. Judging by action, I certainly do not care as much as a some type of vegan.

In a sense you can say you care about something if you feel like you do. But that, to me, feels like we are just debasing the word 'care' to a point where it is meaningless. For example, if you told me you cared a lot about your dog, but acted indifferent to it at best and barely walked it to a point where it was obviously having issues, I'd conclude you are either lying or that your words don't mean very much, or that you are stupid to a point where you don't understand that you need to walk your dog, and that this needed explaining to you.

In any case, I don't think people are "crazy" for neglecting their dogs. I would, however, feel justified in concluding that their own description of themselves as caring about their dog is inaccurate at best.

but to actually care about white people you have to act like a 'white nationalist'

You are defining "care" to mean "form an ethnostate excluding non-whites". That's a pretty extreme form of "care". That's so extreme I will reject it as a good definition. There are valid ways to "care" without being a white nationalist.

White nationalism doesn't just mean "pro-white", it is generally defined by its advocates as including a desire for the existence of white ethnostates. It's like conflating "cares about jewish people" and "zionist": many jews believe zionism harms jewish people instead of helping them (and doing it with white nationalism is even less accurate because zionism is currently more mainstream).

It's not just a matter of prioritization but of beliefs about the world. There are plenty of normal people who genuinely think that racial diversity benefits everyone, including white people. Furthermore, even within the realm of people who both know about HBD and think it potentially justifies government discrimination on the basis of race, most are not white nationalists. For instance white nationalists have termed Emil Kirkegaard an "IQ nationalist", though in the linked post he ends up concluding that explicit IQ nationalism would just amount to much the same thing as skilled worker laws, and the important thing is keeping out the far-below-average immigrants without IQ tests or racial discrimination being nessesary. Even if you go to a more populist community like /pol/, there are both white nationalists who think each race should get its own ethnostates, but also plenty of people who only have an issue with specific races like black people and don't care about racial separation otherwise. If your definition of "white nationalist" includes people who want to ban black immigration but allow mass-migration from Hong Kong, on the basis that they believe that such immigration would benefit everyone in the destination country including white people, it's not going to be very recognizable to conventional white nationalists.

White nationalism doesn't just mean "pro-white", it is generally defined by its advocates as including a desire for the existence of white ethnostates.

If you have some way of maintaining white populations without borders or segregation laws I'd be interested to hear about it. Would be a new theory in a now rather dead school of thought called White Nationalism 2.0

How about "White people should breed more, for they certainly have the capacity to support more children. If they want. And if they don't care enough to proliferate, how can I?"?

But they are not breeding more, just like every other population group that's dealing with modernity right now. So people who actually care would seek solutions in the real world, rather than fiddling with rhetorical sneering to excuse their lack of care, like you are doing.

There are immigration policies other than "white ethnostate" and "open borders". Mass immigration sufficient for your concern to happen would presumably come from countries that suck to live in, and countries that suck to live in rarely have many high-quality immigrants. Even under the current U.S. immigration system, demographic replacement has little to do with the small numbers of highly-selected immigrants, it's the reproduction rates of the population groups already in the U.S. and the ways for low-quality immigrants to bypass that selective system.

I asked for policies that could maintain white populations. A constant stream of immigration is a constant dilution of the population that has to suffer it. That's not maintaining white populations but slowly eroding them.

No? That depends on birth rates, intermarriage rates, and the actual rate of immigration from different nations and races. Non-hispanic whites and asians currently have the same birth rate, which presumably means east-asians specifically are even lower. Furthermore, assuming you count people with 98% white and 2% east-asian ancestry as white, intermarriage is going to reduce the proportion of the minority demographic, and unlike with black people I don't know of any research indicating there's a disadvantage to having east-asian ancestry. (There was that one survey of online hapa communities where they seemed to do worse than average whites or asians, but that was obviously because of the selection bias of participating in those communities.) So even if your immigration policy ended up letting in more east-asians than white people, that doesn't mean the country would end up more east-asian over time. And of course there are plenty of hypothetical selective immigration policies where the end result would be the majority of immigrants being white without being an outright ethnostate, in which case the end result will be a higher proportion of white people than if there was no immigration at all.

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If your definition of "white nationalist" includes people who want to ban black immigration but allow mass-migration from Hong Kong, on the basis that they believe that such immigration would benefit everyone in the destination country including white people, it's not going to be very recognizable to conventional white nationalists.

In fairness, there's certainly white nationalists who would consider mass migration from east Asia acceptable to their white ethnostate on the basis that they'll die out except for the women who marry white men and then have phenotypically white children.

While I agree that one can be pro white without being a white nationalist, I strongly disagree with many of your other claims.

One could claim that anyone who supports anything that is destructive for a group, "cares" actually.

The reality is that people who particularly dislike intensely a group and it comes part and parcel with such dislike, tend to support its demographic replacement and abolishment/extinction. This is because it is genuinely harmful to the group as a group to become a minority in their own homeland, or go extinct. When Noel Ignatiev is saying that "abolishing the white race is so desirable that some may find it hard to believe that anyone other than committed white supremacists would oppose it." he was infact an anti-white racist. And this is me understating it. His agenda was genocidal.

If someone cares about a group but supports something that is genuinely destructive for them, we should consider whether it matters how much they care. It could also be the case that they aren't honest.

Conversely, people who support a group and are part of such group tend to oppose such replacement. Because it is beneficial to a group to not become a hated minority in its own land, or go extinct.

This way of thinking is definitely able to be understood when it comes to other ethnic/racial groups, and how colonization by foreigners or their replacement or even possible extinction is bad actually.

As for white nationalism in particular. The reality is that it is the boogieman, not because we have a rational society reacting to the greatest threat of racism by white people, because we see the dominant rhetoric and policy to be of an anti-white form, and president Biden to have made comments more in line with Ignatiev's comment than against it. Comments about how mass migration should happen to replace white Americans. The threat of its extremism is used as an excuse to promote an anti-white agenda and part of the denouncements have to do with fear and a desire to prove to be one of the good ones and not be cancelled and slandered. And it is in fact the case that a society that is hysteric no matter what about X group nationalists, tends to be racist against said group. More so the case when that group is actually mistreated in policy, and denounced in rhetoric. When it doesn't have representative organizations.

In reality, unconditional limitless nationalism for any group can be immoral and therefore white nationalism can be immoral in this manner but also a lack of any nationalism comes along with said ethnic group being oppressed and mistreated. It is a common aspect of the worst mistreatment and destruction of an ethnic group to attack its nation and denies its existence and legitimacy. To disallow it national self determination and to promote the tyranny of being governed without its interest being represented. Another aspect of this is toleration of other nationalisms to excess, and this is also something that is happening.

So if one group rights should ideally end where another group right's begin this necessitates a general broad quite different and more qualified and nuanced take on white nationalism, over the approach of treating it as the worst nationalism ever which brought things in the current anti-white racist situation. Nor should the correct approach be unconditional support of anything that could be pro white and anti non white groups and constant double down in that direction in a limitless fanatical manner.

The preferable way to frame things and a workable system for different groups is one of international justice that recognizes the reciprocal rights and limits of different nations, including white and not white nations.

White nationalism doesn't just mean "pro-white", it is generally defined by its advocates as including a desire for the existence of white ethnostates. It's like conflating "cares about jewish people" and "zionist": many jews believe zionism harms jewish people instead of helping them (and doing it with white nationalism is even less accurate because zionism is currently more mainstream).

Certainly there can be forms of white ethnostates that are analogous to zionism in behavior, and there can be imperialistic white nationalist behavior that can be rightfully opposed but the existence of european countries that wanted to remain european has a) been the dominant model b) population where political class moved away still support this in many cases like in France where they oppose the replacement of French by non French, including presumably non french whites c) we still have some white countries that the political establishment supports remaining such.

The change in attitude is recent. Even in the USA is from a couple of decades.

The idea of opposing being replaced is certainly less controversial than zionism in that it doesn't step over the rights of others in the way zionism did.

And has been treated as less controversial in general outside of the movement that Ignatiev represents. Ironically, allowing mass migration in turn made the accusations of racism more of a reality that the opposite. I would argue that opposing your own extinction and your nation's colonization is opposing anti native racism and in line with international justice. While having an agenda in favor of whites not having any homelands represents a very extreme form of racism.

This is in fact compatible with european countries not having their own people going extinct and a minority, but remaining majority, and the USA as multiethnic but again opposing mass migration explicitly because it is immoral for the white Americans who created historical USA, to become utterly disminished in the country they created and dominated. Although under this framework it was legitimate for Americans to have made a choice in the past to not open their borders to the rest of the world.

As we see with the results today, such migration was an important factor in the rise of anti-white racism.

If I could tinker with history, I'd really love to see what would have happened had Thomas Jefferson's early-1780s plan to free the slaves and then repatriate them all to their African homelands been adopted.

I'm picturing a time-traveler handing out to Southern (and other slaveholding) members of the Continental Congress Civil War histories and copies of Gone with the Wind , accompanied by unvarnished descriptions of the nation's demographics and race relations circa 2023, how they are viewed even by their own descendants, some footage of the 1992 Rodney King riots, and possibly selected clips from gangsta rap.

Veganizm can't be argued with because it is an ascetic religious belief, not a material one.

Dietary restriction is as old as superstition. The "holy" will always try to display their moral superiority through dietary restriction, dress, and conspicuous consumption.

As a belief, it is an incoherent heresy of Jainism, which the modern vegan is by far too much of a pussy to take to the proper conclusion. If they believed truly, and were consistent, they'd be filtering their water to avoid swallowing a gnat, sweeping the ground gently in front of them to avoid stepping on an ant and starving themselves to death. Make Veganism Great Again.

I declare your utility function to also be a religion and therefore not engaging with, if that's how we're playing the game today.

Or maybe instead, we could recognize that the utility function and the decision theory are distinct objects, and continue to talk and argue about the decision theory as per usual.

Since this thread is has devolved into discussing veganism instead of the meta point, I'll jump into that fray.

I think humans have infinite moral worth compared to animals, and I would save one human child at the expense of, say, 10,000 endangered orcas or whatever. Humans have dominion over animals and have the right to use them how we see fit. Abusing animals is not the same as abusing people, it's morally wrong in the similar way that dumping garbage in a public park is wrong or how dumping perfectly good milk down the drain is wrong. It's a waste of common resources and a poor use of them, it's disrespectful and reflects poorly on humanity.

One mental block I have against listening to vegans is that so many of them seem to have a heavy outgroup bias against their fellow human beings (though in practice this can really be further reduced to "that shithole flyover state I went to school in," it doesn't really include their like-minded friends). I cannot relate at all to people who think we should drastically reduce the population to avoid "harming the planet, "or that having children is selfish/evil, or that "humans suck." I like humans. I think we're pretty great. I think that human suffering is an infinitely greater problem than chickens in cages, and any cent spent on stopping the latter instead of the former is a travesty. So when someone tells me about the evils of cattle farming I want to pull up a list of neglected tropical diseases or statistics on opiate deaths and ask why I should care about chickens when we haven't solved these other (solvable!) problems, and then have them lay their cards on the table and admit that they simply hate people.

Let me poke at this a little.

Why stop at speciesism? It seems obvious to me that fighting tropical diseases and opiate deaths is a waste of effort, indicates miscalibrated priorities or a lack of appropriate newtonian morality. I'd say that if we should not prioritize animals over humans just because they suffer, then we should also not prioritize distant humans over nearby ones just because they suffer. Or would you argue that while there is a vast gulf between the importance of animals and humans, there is none such between the importance of different humans?

By the way I actually think that it is more prudent to care about people close to me as opposed to people far away. And it is mostly due to the fact, that helping means involving oneself into other people lives, which also brings certain level of responsibility. As Scott Adams says: There is nothing more dangerous than resourceful idiot, in my language we also call them "idiot with initiative". You know the type: a good meaning person who decided to water your succulents so they rot, the moron who cleans your cast iron skillet with soap only on larger scale. You can also think about it as skin in the game principle where you are responsible for outcome of your actions however well meant. Only in the case of charity it also goes the other way - that people who disagree with your type of help can actually address you directly and hold you accountable. In Catholic teaching this is reflected in the principle of subsidiarity.

I agree overall, but it seems to me that the obvious counterargument is that by providing mosquito nets or money via charities, there is no potential for damage and thus you're helping with no downside to the beneficiary.

Kind of. Humans all have some innate level of value simply by virtue of possessing an immortal soul and being made in the image and likeness of God, whereas animals have neither of those qualities. So there is indeed a vast gulf between humans and animals.

But I also agree that we should prioritize which humans to help. I think this has been discussed before on the Motte, but I believe that people have a different levels of responsibility towards others based on family and community ties. So off the top of my head a rough order might look something like this:

  1. Your children and wife/husband
  2. Your extended family
  3. Your religious/ideological compatriots
  4. People living in the same community as you (e.g. same schools, same neighborhood, same social class)
  5. People living geographically close to you (same city, state, region)
  6. Your fellow citizens in the same country
  7. Foreigners who share your culture
  8. Etc etc.

Those are overlapping catagories that are kind of malleable depending on the exact situation. But I'll always think it's more valuable to donate money for mosquito nets in the 3rd world than to help chickens.

When you say 'dominion' is this a strictly religious interpretation, or is it meant to be based on some set of empirical factors?

In either case, if we contacted aliens who had either the same revealed religious/empirical factor-based relationship to us that we have to animals, would you be happy to admit that they also have infinite moral worth compared to us, and walk happily into the thresher for their most minor benefit?

Also, generally speaking: Questions of the form 'why should I care about X when Y exists' are ussually not very meaningful. The people and resources being devoted to X are generally not easily translatable to Y, or at any rate you caring about X does not conflict with you caring about Y unless you are already devoting so much time and effort to personally solving Y that you have no time in the day for X.

No, it's not empirical. Not everything has to be, IMO.

I don't really understand your alien example. If they believed in a god that said humans were cattle to be exploited, I think I would just... disagree? Unless I were somehow converted to their human-hating alien religion? Which I think would be a really hard sell?

Re. caring about X while Y exists, nah, I reject your general point. This always smells like a motte and bailey to me that relies on conflating "nonzero" moral weight with "significant" moral weight.

The motte for this usually imagines a framing like "Why help starving children in famine-stricken Gondwanaland when there are plenty of starving Laurasian war orphans to feed?!" Starving children from any foreign country can be assigned roughly equal moral weight, so it's easy to say "we can care about both without neglecting either." The ratio of caring might be close to 1:1.

A less clear-cut example is "We can care about starving Gondwanan children AND the opiate crisis at home." It's a bit murkier -- who do we have a duty to first? Children overseas? Our own citizens? What about the children of our opiate-addicted citizens? Are they more or less important than starving children overseas? It's debatable, but the ratio her might be 1:2, or 2:3, or 1:4, or something similar. Both are serious problems.

The bailey usually smuggles in some problem of dubious moral weight, e.g. "We can care about both starving Laurasian orphans AND reducing plastic straw usage, you know!" It's impossible to just totally reject doing something about plastic straws, because their impact isn't zero, but it's hard to articulate exactly how much less important reducing plastic straw usage is than feeding starving children (in the opinion of most people outside the Motte, at least). Maybe for most folks the ratio would be something like 1:100, or 1:10,000.

So tl;dr while it's strictly true that you can care about X and Y at the same time, I find that a lot of people who make that argument are trying to steal some of the gravity of (actual) problem X to bolster their pet problem Y.

And so it is with human and animal suffering. Animal suffering is so unimportant to me compared to human suffering that I'd rather round the ratio off to zero rather than have to calculate some absurd number of bovine lives I'd need to save in exchange for the life of a single human.

If they believed in a god that said humans were cattle to be exploited, I think I would just... disagree?

What I meant was, what if whichever religious figure you respect said they had a revelation from the same God you believe in saying that the aliens had dominion over you?

For the sake of argument, whatever series of factors make you believe that you have dominion over animals on religious grounds, the same factors happened within your own religion, saying the aliens have dominion over you.

It's impossible to just totally reject doing something about plastic straws, because their impact isn't zero, but it's hard to articulate exactly how much less important reducing plastic straw usage is than feeding starving children (in the opinion of most people outside the Motte, at least). Maybe for most folks the ratio would be something like 1:100, or 1:10,000.

Sure, but my point is more about the fungability of efforts to address problems.

There already exists a regulatory body in charge of passing regulations on restaurants, and they have free time. That legislative body can easily pass a plastic straw ban; it is not clear how they would direct that effort instead towards feeding children in foreign nations. They have neither the authority nor the mechanisms nor the expertise to do that.

Perhaps you can imagine firing half the people who work in that regulatory body, re-training them on international diplomacy and supply chains, and assigning them to figure out how to feed those starving foreign children. But there's going to be huge costs to that transition that probably the benefits to those children, those people probably don't want to do that kind of work and wouldn't be good at it anyway (there are reasons people have the jobs/interests they do), and theoretically the regulatory body shouldn't have a lot more staff than it needs anyway to begin with.

So I'm not arguing about the ratio of importance between the two things, I'm challenging the idea that all issues are in competition with each other for resources, and that ignoring one means you are definitely making more progress on another one. Society as a whole isn't perfectly efficient and friction-less like that.

If a straw ban is good and you have a mechanism by which to issue it, but no mechanism by which to transfer the resources for a straw ban into food in the mouths of starving foreign children, you might as well do the straw ban. Saying 'what about the starving children' as a way to oppose the straw ban is disingenuous, if the resources saved by not doing the ban won't actually be used to materially aid teh children instead.

FWIW, I have a good friend who is a vegan after reading Singer. He is also pro human and pro natalist (more pro life than I am as an example). The only humans he hates are criminals (he is a prosecutor).

I don't agree at all with your estimation of the value of an Orca, because you’re mixing two concepts – the intrinsic value of a non-human animal and the value of having a flourishing biosphere which have plenty of magnificent things like Orcas. No way I would sacrifice 10,000 Orcas for one human, but that's less about the inherent moral value of an Orca and more about the fact that they are endangered. In a world where Orca are as common as Cattle I wouldn’t think twice, but we don’t live in that world. If we value ocean wildlife - even if the reason is simply to give more utils to humans in the long term - then an Orca is a precious natural resource, not one to be squandered over something so commonplace as a human.

I’m not sure how many humans I would be willing to sacrifice in order to restore the world’s oceans to the state they were in 500 years ago, but it would be many, many thousands.

I think your make "a flourishing biosphere" do a lot of work there. Do you mean "a stable ecosystem that humans can use to feed themselves and keep the planet in good shape," or do you just mean "preserving animal species because they're cool and having lots of different types of cool animals around is a good thing?" Or something else? I don't know how to extract utils from orcas outside of SeaWorld, they're cool to read about but day-to-day they mostly spend time hanging out in the ocean where I have very little chance to interact with them.

If it's the former, I'm on board because I think destabilizing and destroying the environment will probably lead to a lot of human suffering and death, so we should probably prevent that.

Do orcas' presence in the oceanic ecosystem benefit humans? It seems like they compete with us for seafood resources(probably mostly salmon, but I guess if you eat dolphin it'd be notable) and otherwise have relatively little effect on human interaction with the ecosystem. They're apex predators but I think most of the animals whose populations they keep in check are either things we eat or things with populations that don't need to be kept in check, either because they're sensitive to human activity(eg great white shark) or because they reproduce slowly(sea turtles, right whales).

I mean if an evil genie told me he'd kill either 10,000 water buffaloes or one human child, I'd have to ask if the deaths of those 10,000 water buffaloes would cause a famine in India or something. But orcas just seem like a bad example of that.

Probably.

The textbook example for ecological side effects is the wolf/deer thing. Kill wolves, deer population explodes, mass starvation, much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Or consider the Australian examples of creatures missing their natural predators. It’s not ironclad, but I would expect removing an apex predator to have consequences, and I would be awful skeptical of anyone who claimed to have a foolproof plan for them. Chesterton’s fence should probably apply.

The wolf/deer thing can be resolved by handing out more hunting licenses though, right? The Australian example is better, but more because humans are not those creatures' natural predators since we have nor reason to hunt them. Fish on the other hand--we can hunt a virtually infinite amount of fish. At least, our demand is easily elastic enough to compensate for the disappearance of all orcas.

I would be more concerned that their disappearance leads to an explosion of seals and other [non-apex] predators which would reduce the number of fish.

Humans have hunted seals and whales extensively in the past, though, so in theory we could just do it again to compensate.

Although this obviously isn't exhaustive, the wiki-walk I went through on Orcas showed that great white sharks(which are endangered) and certain larger whale species(which are also endangered) are the main species which don't have non-orca predators, and orca predation isn't a major factor in their populations because it is relatively rare, but that leopard seals and elephant seals are mostly controlled by orca predation even if they're occasionally picked off by larger sharks. So your scenario seems fairly plausible.

That's true, I'm sure sealing is lucrative enough.

Why do you think humans have infinite moral worth compared to animals?

That's a pretty unusual viewpoint for a modern westerner to espouse (though in a "revealed preferences" sense I guess it's very common). Christian background, Cartesian background, contrarianism, Chinese background.... how come?

I believe that the Great Chain of Being is more or less true. Also this

though in a "revealed preferences" sense I guess it's very common

is part of it. I try to be honest with myself even when it sounds ugly. If someone showed me a video of chickens in cages overlaid with dramatic music and anthropomorphizing narration ("the newborn chicks are kidnapped from their mother mere minutes after hatching...") I might feel sad for a few minutes, but I would also know I was being manipulated, that chickens don't actually experience motherhood or childhood, or really much of anything, probably, and I'd recall my belief that it's part of human nature (in the philosophic sense) to eat other animals, and so it wouldn't sway my behavior.

All of that said, there's room for nuance. While I wouldn't sacrifice a single human infant to save a billion cows, I would definitely be willing to spend a small amount of extra money to buy meat that could somehow be proven to be "more humane" (probably in that the animals' living conditions were more like their natural habitats, although I'm no expert). But I'm also very cynical about greenwashing, "organic" labelling, and other tricks to prey on the wallets of ethical consumers, so I'd need some pretty good proof that it's actually qualitatively different than a cost-minimizing factory farm.

Chinese background

I lol'd, that's a good guess, but no. They don't just value human lives over animals lives, they also think animal lives have roughly zero value and so they can be treated rocks or dirt. The gifs you've seen online aren't uncommon occurances.

I would actually like to debate you on vegan/vegetarianism, because I have been unable to rigorously justify the ethics of eating meat to myself. I do it anyways, because I’m not a saint and morals are arbitrary anyways.

I’ll copy paste another comment I made in the thread:

Isn’t animals not having moral equivalence just another axiomatic assumption you can make? How would you prove that someone is in the wrong for assigning moral equivalence to chickens?

And supposing you value humans more due to our intelligence, does that mean it is more ethical to make unintelligent humans suffer than intelligent ones? You can substitute any other attribute other than intelligence here.

If instead you go the route of saying “I am arbitrarily drawing the line at humans because I am speciesist, but all other animals are fair game,” can’t someone else arbitrarily tighten that circle further and say “I am arbitrarily drawing the line at whites because I am racist, but all other humans and animals are fair game”?

Is there an argument that both allows you to ethically kill or factory farm animals for food, without also allowing someone else to ethically kill or factory farm animals for food? (Disregard how inefficient and pointless factory farming humans for meat would be, this is just a question about the ethics of it.)

Gladly.

Your argument is fundamentally utilitarian, and utilitarianism leads to insanity or tyranny.

On the side of the suffering, utilitarianism quickly devolves into making things up. I'm pretty sure animals experience pain, but that's vague. At the decision-making level, you must assign some number of qualia to their pain, if you want to trade it off against a human action. The problem is this number is totally made up. Make up a number in one direction, and it's OK to torture animals for sport (bullfighting), make up a number in another direction, and you're a Jain. Both numbers are of course completely made up with no reference to reality.

The second order effects get stranger. If you're in the business of making up qualia, you could find yourself morally obligated to kill predators, worrying about the suffering of subatomic particles, etc. That way leads insanity and SBF.

On the side of the morally responsible, utilitarianism quickly devolves into tyranny. If you've appointed yourself the arbiter of the moral balance of the universe, you might find yourself starting out by murdering ranchers, and end up with the Repugnant Conclusion, murdering unhappy children, and ending up at Stalin.

Utilitarianism is fundamentally unbounded.

I choose reciprocity. I will act with honor towards those who act with honor towards me. I'm entirely OK with raising those who act without reciprocity towards me in cages. In the case of animals, for meat. In the case of people, those cages are called prison. In the case of people, I'm against killing them (the death penalty), because I believe the system for judging them is fallible, and I want the convicted and accused to have the chance to prove their innocence. Since I am against killing them, I can't kill them for food.

Would I eat a murderer, if it was 100% certainty that he was guilty? That's an interesting question that I hadn't gotten to until now.

For now, I find the arguments for vegetarianism unconvincing, and I'm going to leave the Chesterton's Fence of meat eating up - but I'm not sufficiently convinced to stop thinking about it.

Just to follow up in case you’re still interested: I just concluded a nice discussion with aquota where we both acknowledged it comes down to power and realpolitik rather than any higher ethical cause.

If you’re able to come up with a loftier rationale as to why the moral line should be drawn specifically at the species boundary, I would still love to hear it.

Thanks. I was interested. To me the moral line is drawn at reciprocity, because morality is between actors. I have no moral obligation to a rock or a plant. If an animal or an alien is capable of reasoning from principles to determine reciprocal actions to my actions, then they are moral actors. If they aren't moral actors, then morally they are no different than a rock or a plant.

Ah I see what you mean now. I haven’t encountered this specific line of reasoning before, so thanks for introducing it to me.

I’m curious about a couple of follow-up questions: if animals aren’t moral actors, are animals entitled to any amount of ethical treatment? Or is it moral to torture animals for any or no reason at all?

And are only the humans that are moral actors deserving of moral rights? Would it be fine to kill an orphaned infant before it has developed enough moral understanding to be a moral agent of its own?

Please correct me if I’ve misunderstood you, but it sounds like you only care about reciprocity if the entity you’re interacting with can and does behave with honor towards you, and you believe animals are incapable of honor.

Doesn’t this just push the delineation down to where you draw the line with “honor”? How do you define honor in such a way as to exclude animals from being capable of it, while including all humans in the mix? Is it fine to kill a human infant (or any human with sufficiently low agency) because they are incapable of honoring you any more than a dog can?

This post shows a huge potential problem with veganism actually.

Ideological veganism of this type as does apply to Peter Singer's version is anti-human.

By trying not to be speciesist as you say and making animals and humans morally equivalent, you enter into valuing human life less, to make it more equal to animal life.

Hence Singer supporting infantcide, killing comatose.

Humanism, what you call speciesism, forms an ideological barrier that restricts anti human ideas from entering.

Ironically, what is often called anti-racism has some of the same problems. The fear of putting a group, such as whites first can lead to putting them last and is an aspect of our anti-white racist age. Which makes all the whining about white tribalism threat pretty immoral and ironically racist and a case of misaligned priorities. In the current circumstances, and in line of your own prejudices, you should be more afraid of that reality and the possibility of this increasing, rather than the opposite threat. Radicals rather than carefully opposing only what should be reasonably opposed have promoted antiwhite racism, in line with their own prejudices.

Similarly, but worse pro animal prejudice and anti human mistreatment is one of the promises of many advocates of veganism in combo with animal liberation. Less so for those which is more about their own personal preference and ethics and are much more restrained in their political vision.

Another thing to consider is that if animals are morally equivalent to human beings, then under that framing current humanity is engaging in mass murder of gigantic scale and is extremely monstrous. This false perspective could very well lead to supporting mass violence at its expense both to stop it, and to punish those engaging in using animal products (i.e human civilization as a whole). It is a path to self destruction and it isn't surprising that one of the biggest anti-natalist figures David Benatar who thinks humanity should stop giving births also adopts the framing of humanity as an oppressor of animals.

And of course would come along with totalitarianism where non veganism is ruthlessly persecuted both as a practice and as an ideology. Which could also come along with a lot of violence.

In regards to David Benatar:

Benatar is vegan, and has taken part in debates on veganism.[15] He has argued that humans are "responsible for the suffering and deaths of billions of other humans and non-human animals. If that level of destruction were caused by another species we would rapidly recommend that new members of that species not be brought into existence."[16][17] He has also argued that the outbreak of zoonotic diseases, such as the COVID-19 pandemic,[18] is often the result of how humans mistreat animals.[19] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Benatar

The ideology of this not canceled academic who thinks humanity better not exist is in my view worse than many of the most advertised as worse ideologies in the world, including ones I directly sharply attacked. There is a connection with the marxist idea of utopia after destroying class enemy and class, or cultural marxism and destroying race and whites/whiteness/oppressive western civilization, and now for humanity as the oppressors to be eliminated by not reproducing. Benatar's is the worse version of this way of thinking. I certainly wouldn't trust people sharing Benatar's ideology with nuclear weapons, or biological research on diseases, or even A.I. research. Any veganism that comes anywhere close to Benatar's ideology should be treated with extreme intolerance.

It would be saner, less dangerous and better for advocacy of animal rights to be done under a perspective that rejects their moral equivalency to humans and is very careful not to be anti-human. Humanism is good actually and the speciesism framing is too absolute to not lead to such destructive paths. Hence, we would be better off if we outright blacklisted pro animal rhetoric that is anti-human and not careful. Especially the type that supports, or provides arguments that help justify harming various categories of human beings because they sympathize more with animals.

I mean, I agree with you on the potential implications of speciesism. But what arguments do you actually have against its validity as a moral concept? What convinces you to draw the line at human vs non-human, versus any other arbitrary boundary?

he actually found the killing and eating of animals to be immoral, but didn't think that would be a convincing argument, so he tried to achieve his goal with another argument.

It seems that a rational participant could follow this path:

  1. Eating of animals is immoral (because ....)
  2. One reason people are resistant to arguments about (1) is that they believe eating animals will harm their athletic performance.
  3. The belief in (2) is factually wrong under at least some conditions (e.g. vegans must ...)
  4. If the belief in (2) diminished, then people would be more willing to accept (1).

In the literal sense, sure, it would be "trying to achieve his goal (1) with another argument (3)" but it also seems like an unobjectionable syllogism. The premises might be wrong, but the logic is fine.

I do not care about animal welfare, pictures of overstuffed chickens in pens or male chicks being sent to the meat grinder do not matter in the least to me. That makes all the arguments downstream of their moral salience irrelevant as far as I'm concerned. Sure, with a fastidious adherence to a broad diet and medical supplements, you can barely get an adequate caloric and nutritional intake that makes you not outright unhealthy or anemic, but what of it?

I prefer cars, I find it daft that after centuries of industrial and technological progress, there are people who would try and make them cost-prohibitive to use for the average person. I am intimately familiar with "walkable cities", every city in India is walkable, as they must be when the majority of the population is too poor to afford cars. I've had the "pleasure" of using public transport in London, often paraded as the city with the best infrastructure for the same, and I would far prefer an alternative with more cars. I see nothing absurd about relying on a two-ton vehicle and fuel to get about, any more than I am concerned about the other hundreds or thousands of tons of infrastructure required for a comfortable middle class existence in the West.

Am I aware that the anti-car movement has a point regarding the drawbacks on density, the inconvenience to pedestrians or the relative inefficiency of everyone driving? Absolutely. I don't even deny it, I simply consider it an acceptable tradeoff for my preferences.

On a more meta note, I see nothing particularly wrong with arguing one's point to an opponent and using arguments within their framework of beliefs that I do not consider salient to my own. When I point out the manifest absurdities of aligning Omniscience, Omnipotence, and Omnibenevolence in the context of an argument for atheism, or when I point out that the world as it exists looks nothing like a world made by an Omnibenevolent Creator, I do not for a millisecond happen to have believed in any of those properties, I'm only trying to demonstrate their utter incoherence to someone who holds all of them. Showing inconsistencies is a necessary step to start swaying people, and eventually, one hopes, when the cognitive dissonance becomes too much to bear, they'll stop trying to patch things up and then tear it all down to build a new edifice that aligns closer to mine.

So I don't particularly begrudge the vegans or anti-car people from trying to advance tangential arguments, but believe it or not, those are still niche positions to hold, and I don't see it as particularly surprising that they don't have all that many vocal adherents here. There's nothing in the rules of the Motte that states that any particular brand of advocacy must find positive feedback here, and many of us who remain, including the more extreme of the Wignats, do so because they're willing to accept downvotes and negative feedback, and to the extent they persist, by following the rules in their statements.

I think there's a bit of a "grass is always greener" problem on both sides of the equation. I understand where you're arguing from, and I don't disagree with you. But you didn't grow up in the midst of American car culture the way most of the anti-car people did. You never had the pleasure of sitting in a long line at a stoplight that stays red for ten minutes, turns green long enough to let three cars go, then turns red again. You've never been 500 feet from where you want to go, but the only way to get there is to get in your car, make a harrowing left turn onto a 4 lane highway, and follow that with another left turn across traffic into the parking lot. Conversely, you've never had the same problem but you can't make a left turn due to the highway divider so you have to make a right turn with the intention of making a u-turn at the end of the block (followed by another u-turn at the end of the next block), only to find that u-turns are prohibited and you have to take a long detour in heavy traffic to get to the store that was directly next door to the one you were just at. You've never been in a hurry to get somewhere and had a Cadillac abruptly pull out in front of you and not top 20 mph for the next 5 miles, with the invariably 87-year-old driver hitting his brakes frequently and arbitrarily. You've never sat in a 10 mile traffic backup caused by people's inability to not slow down and look at crashed cars and ambulances on the other side of the highway. You've never changed brake pads on the street. You've never paid significantly more for an apartment that had a garage. You've never paid $250/month for a parking lease at work. You've never spent 45 minutes at a dead standstill between the bend at Bates and the Squirrel Hill Tunnel, not once, but every. Fucking. Day. As part of your commute.

I'm not literally saying that you have never personally experienced any of these things, nor am I saying that everyone who lives in a car-centric country deals with them every day. I'm saying that if you grow up in places where the infrastructure revolves around cars, shit like this happens often enough that you wonder if everyone paying thousands of dollars per year to maintain his own car is really an optimal use of resources. Yes, I understand there are tradeoffs to being transit-based, and I think that most of these transit hounds don't understand that these massive lifestyle tradeoffs aren't worth it for most Americans. But I try to understand where they're coming from, especially when they're probably urban people who look at the way things are in Europe and wonder why they can't be similar here.

I've never driven, or owned, a car.

I hate "car culture" as it developed in the years after 1945 because of how ugly and unlivable it made nearly every American community. Six- or eight-lane arterial roads, lined with strip malls, fast-food places, Walmarts etc. (interspersed with car-related businesses such as gas stations, auto dealerships, tire stores, muffler shops, etc. which take up huge amounts of space), every one with an enormous parking lot that one has to walk through (I can't even count how many hours of my life have been wasted just walking through parking lots) while keeping an eye out that some distracted moron might run me down.

The sidewalks are invariably empty except for the homeless, the poorest of the immigrants, or once in a great while a dog-walker.

All that wasted space which could have been used for housing.

Bus stops, most without a shelter, for buses that run every half hour or even every hour (less than that if it's snowing or raining).

Neighborhoods with nothing but houses, on winding streets (many without sidewalks). For mile after mile after mile. No corner grocery stores, no corner pubs, nothing to walk to unless you're buddies with all your neighbors.

In the US, there is no such thing anymore as an affordable, safe, walkable urban neighborhood. There are smaller cities and towns with affordable housing - but with no jobs, very little shopping or cultural institutions, with a huge fraction of their population bombed out on opiates or meth.

If I want to visit any "outdoors" destination - beach, mountains, national parks - that's just out of the question because there are no trains or buses that go there.

Thanks a fucking heap, Henry Ford and postwar urban planners.

I agree. But in America, the car is the main method of insulation from the domestic underclass. If Los Angeles and San Francisco, let alone Chicago and Philadelphia, let alone St Louis and Baltimore and New Orleans, were as clean and safe as Hong Kong and Singapore, and had their quality of public transport, this debate would be unnecessary.

It's not even that Americans can't build public transport - Los Angeles has built out its subway and light rail network pretty vigorously since the late 1990s, and it has some of the worst imaginable 'natural conditions' for mass transit given its sprawl - it's that inevitably it is taken over by scum and governments do not appear willing to prevent them from ruining it. The only major exceptions are NYC, which is still pretty grotty but 'saved' by the sheer volume of regular passengers, and D.C., which is by far the cleanest system in the US because it's patrolled very heavily (particularly downtown) and was built largely by the federal government.

All that wasted space which could have been used for housing.

For what reason would we want to tile the land with housing?

If I want to visit any "outdoors" destination - beach, mountains, national parks - that's just out of the question because there are no trains or buses that go there.

  1. There's actually plenty of buses which go to such places. They're slow and inflexible, but such is the nature of public transit.

  2. Yes. What good is paradise if there's no place to park? People want to go places, and not only do they want to go to different places, they're coming from different places and they want to go at different times. This makes the problem of mass transit difficult, and the usual solution of a 3-seat ride (low-speed collection, high-speed trunk, low-speed distribution) for more popular destinations (and worse for less popular ones) is terrible.