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A Comment on the American Election

Comment on the American Election

Truly the lesser of two evils?

Truly the lesser of two evils?

 

Does Hillary Clinton face enormous amounts of misogynistic abuse? Without doubt.
Is this a major issue? You betcha.
The rhetoric that has been lobbed at Clinton in this election cycle, and back in 2008 as well, by both the left and the right is reprehensible in the extreme and needs to be countered in every instance. It is damaging to women everywhere, working to preclude eligibility to the highest office in America, and by extension, one of the most powerful positions in the world, purely on the basis of gender. Attacking Clinton on this level has rippling effects that reach far beyond this single presidential race.

This is not to say, though, that Hillary Clinton merits the Presidency. Her attackers may couch their positions in sexist rhetoric, and their aims are betrayed by this, but attacked she deserves to be.

What are the crimes of Donald Trump? Unscrupulous business practices, likely tax evasion, the whipping up of racial animus the likes of which haven’t been seen in a generation. These things have palpable, real consequences – hundreds of lives worsened or ruined, scores of individuals suffering physical assaults, businesses that people looked to for their livelihoods ripped apart. Donald Trump, while not a fascist in the ways we have known before, is a reckless, dangerous cretin, and to allow him access to the powers associated with the Presidency would be a grave mistake. What we have seen of him thus far, his blundering unpredictability, should give us pause.

How does Hillary Clinton stack up in comparison? The prospect of a Trump presidency is one that is all the more frightening for its mystery – we don’t know what he’d be able to achieve, how much damage he would be able to inflict. On the other hand, we know exactly what will come of an HRC presidency. She’s held enough high offices, been close enough to the power structure of the US now, for decades, to allay any questions one might still have.
Hillary Clinton is a murderous, corrupt, racist neo-con, and a presidency with her at the helm will be a continuation of the current murderous, corrupt, racist regime we’ve had for decades.

The damage that Donald Trump has been able to inflict upon the world pales to insignificance when compared with that of Hillary Clinton. When Secretary of State in 2009, Clinton supported the vicious military coup that toppled the democratically elected government of Honduras, legitimating the violence and internationally-maligned illegal conduct of the actors. In the wake of this, violence against LGBTQ people has spiked, the economy has tanked, and organised crime has seized control of ever more of the country. Hillary Clinton has been hawkish for her entire political career – her opposition to regime change in Haiti in ’94 came not because she was averse to needless death but because the effort was ‘too disorganised.’ She voted for the war in Iraq in 2002, quibbling over her motivations only after the whole thing came apart at the seams. At the time, she vocalised her support for that most-American of policies, gunboat diplomacy: “I believe in coercive diplomacy.” Despite paying lip-service to not involving America in Pakistani engagements , the drone-strikes that have killed thousands of civilians since 2008, all reservations evapourated upon being confirmed Secretary of State. She was a proponent of the surge of troops in Afghanistan under Obama and was for regime change in Libya. In Syria, she has been a supporter of dumping ever-more weapons into the ring, supposedly to aid the ‘moderate’ militias, in truth untraceable once they touch ground. It is plausible that a Clinton Presidency will raise tensions with Russia to the point of disaster.

Racism, particularly against blacks, has been woven into the cloth of America from its start. That said, it was the policy choices of the Clinton administration in the 90’s that set the scene for the current rash of institutionalised violence playing out now – with 102 unarmed black people murdered by police in 2015, and, at last count, 36 this year. Adding those that were armed with anything deemed a ‘weapon’ causes both numbers to multiply steeply. The heightening of the racist war on drugs, the implementation of the fundamentally flawed 1994 crime bill, the scapegoating of urban ghettos and those forced to live in them as source of all of society’s ills – these actions have brought America to where it is today. And Hillary Clinton, with her talk of young, black “super-predators” vocally supported it the whole time. While it was Trump that took ‘the Birther Movement’ to it’s farcical extremes through Obama’s two terms, but it was her campaign in 2008 that sowed the seeds of distrust, questioning Obama’s status as an America. We saw the same tactic used this primary season, with the Democratic National Committee – which we know to have been in cahoots with Clinton’s team due to leaked emails – actively triangulating to undercut Bernie Sanders on grounds of his Jewishness and his atheism. Clinton has shown again and again that she is shameless in her use of racist rhetoric to achieve her aims.

Trump, with his “small loan of a million to get on his feet,” his multiple bankruptcies, his dozens of failed businesses, exemplifies what it means to be part of the moneyed elite. His conduct, the fact that he is not held to account, is symptomatic of the state of American capitalism in the 21st century. It is Hilary Clinton, though, who is complicit in the creation of this situation. Clinton has been the tool of Wall-Street for decades, participating in the repealing of the Glass-Steagal Act in 1999 that lead directly to the financial crisis and world-wide economic recession of 2008. She has opposed efforts to reinstate it and has said that she will not do so if elected president.

In what has quickly become the take-away soundbite from Monday’s Presidential Debate, Clinton reeled off a list of her undoubtedly impressive accomplishments when questioned by Trump on her stamina. It is true, she is possessed of a strong fortitude, especially when we recognise that she has risen to her position in a system stacked against her as a woman from the start. But as we can see from the sample above, it is just these accomplishments that preclude her from deserving the Presidency. Or would do, if it were not the case that, in this day and age, the division of the American people, the grovelling abetment of the moneyed, the callous interventions into other nations’ governments is exactly what the President is meant to do.

Hillary Clinton, scion to war-criminal Henry Kissinger, canny fixer for Wall Street, inveterate racist, would, in any other pairing, be without doubt the villain. It is a sorry state of affairs that she looks the lesser of two evils.

The Inadequacy of SJWs and the Harm of Intersectionality

I came across this article by Laurie Penny late last night, and, at first blush, it was largely agreeable. Every right-minded person likes to see misogynists dragged through the mud every once in a while. However, one of the comments was rather apt. In response to the idea that we make progress by targeting our enemies where they are weakest, a commenter pointed out that the whole thing, gamer gate, the phenomenon of Social Justice Warriors in general, it’s all bunk. As the commenter in question pointed out, all the work being done here is only to secure a small portion of society, that, after this is achieved, SJWs and their allies:

“passively acquiesce to a society of massive inequality and injustice, continue to enjoy the perks of that unequal society (video games, fandom, technology), and yet persuade ourselves that we are after all very good and moral people, because we fight the good fight online as regards scrubbing video games of dumb representations of women, so we can enjoy those video games even more.”

 It’s unlikely to come as much of a surprise to anyone who has thought on it, but it deserves re-stating nonetheless. Penny likens this effort to a ‘culture war,” high esteem, to be sure. At least with regards to the American situation, the last 30 odd years have seen a collected effort towards a “culture war” because the real stakes for the Left had been lost. People gravitated towards fighting for a Liberal sense of equality because the real fight, the fight for economic equality, for social security, for real, unfettered emancipation for peoples of all sexes and genders, that was lost. The Left has been smashed, and remains largely directionless.
All the more reason to see this tempest in a teapot for the waste of effort it is. We need to take the fight to where our enemies are strongest, if ever we are to break them. We need to confront authoritarian, fundamentalist religions of all stripes, we need to dismantle the political class that sits on our societies like a hydra-headed parasite, we need to renew the connection between theorists and a vibrant labour movement. What we don’t need is self-congratulatory carving-out of meager Liberal fiefdoms, while our societies are made less and less feasible for the non-upper-middle class who can’t participate in our vapid “safe-zones.”

If you’re current with the North Star, and you should be, you’ll likely remember the flurry of discussion surrounding Intersectionality that erupted last winter. I thought that Rectenwald‘s article was a good summation of my own position on the matter, stating that, identity politics, rather than being an emancipatory project aimed at freeing individuals from static identities that are imposed on them by a classed society, merely entrenches the supposed-differences. Furthermore, because the idea of Identity reigns supreme, even criticism aimed at examining the theory itself is disspelled as language from a privileged position. All discussion ends, and we all sit tight in our self-imposed camps. Meanwhile, while we worry about stepping on each others’ toes, our enemies run wild, tearing apart any gains our predecessors made and ushering in a new Gilded Age. It’s bad politics. It doesn’t work, and it burns up energy direly needed elsewhere.

So, yes. I think that it’s a good thing that middle-class women are finally finding their voice, and that, despite very real and noxious set-backs, progress is being made. However, we cannot stop there. The progress being made is largely ephemeral. Targeting the symptoms of Patriarchy, the vile, immature attitudes expressed in gaming culture, on 4Chan, in society-at-large, isn’t going to root out the disease itself. Less self-congratulation, more, better-oriented work.

Why I Work Out, and Why You Should Too

Why I Work Out, and Why You Should Too

The majority of this post is going to be aimed at my fellow males. There is nothing in it that doesn’t equally apply to women, but my main focus here is an exhortation to men. Furthermore, if you’ve experienced rape or assault first-hand, you may want to steer clear.

I’m a nerd. I have what would be kindly referred to as a “bookish” body. However, I’m trying to change this.

There are a raft of benefits to being in shape. If you possess an excess of black bile, such as myself, exercise can help you to keep your shit on the up-and-up. Endorphins are important, and, unlike MDMA, exercise won’t blow through your receptors…as quickly. Plus, regular exercise can better your complexion, regulate your sleeping patterns, all manner of sweet things.

And, let’s not forget, fit people are, well, fit. Who doesn’t want to look good? I’m not cool with body shaming; gods know, the human body is plastic enough that even the idea of a “proper” look is absurd. That said, you can generally tell when someone is healthy, however much they might weigh. Looking better and being healthier, and the vanity of such, is a large part of my being more active. After all, I’ve only got this body on loan for a few decades, so I might as well make the most of it while I can.

Those two points, worthy as they might be, are not what I want to talk about here, today, though. Time to get serious. I work out so that I can fight. Violence is always the last recourse. You should try everything you can to diffuse a situation before resorting to it. However, once more diplomatic methods have been exhausted, you need to be able to back yourself up. I speak with a particular eye towards rape. I started actively working out following the media frenzy around the Steubenville episode back in August of 2012. I’m loathe to repeat the details of the situation, but if I shouldn’t the following won’t make as much sense. At a house party, a high-school student was repeatedly raped, after she had passed out, by two athletes, which was recorded as it occurred. The town rallied behind them, the athletes, as did the mainstream media, in a deplorable show of misogyny and victim blaming.

However unlikely it might be that I should find myself in a situation like that – I don’t really fraternise with individuals such of ill-repute or barbarous tendencies – I want, I need, to be able to do something about it. I need to be big enough, I need to be fast enough, I need to be strong enough, to stop that from happening. Because that is, very simply, the worst crime I can think of, and I could not abide it being done in my presence.

The world is getting worse. Our bodies are our weapons, our last defence. We can do as much hashtag activism as we like, but, when push comes to shove, we need to be able to slug it out. Fascism is on the rise, once again, and it’s not going to go away if we tweet at it. We need to be strong enough, and foster solidarity with one another, such that we can push them back, and make this world, our world, worth living in, for everyone.

I work out so I can protect what matters to me – my friends, my family. I owe it to myself and I owe it to them. So do you.