Agency: Haves and have nots

Oxford University Scholarship Online defines human agency:

Our self‐understanding as human agents includes commitment to three crucial claims about human agency: That agents must be active, that actions are part of the natural order, and that intentional actions can be explained by the agent’s reasons for acting.

I’ve written about agency in a couple of recent posts, related to the Ma’Khia Bryant tragedy, because it seems to me her most ardent defenders want to strip her of it for political gain. Oh, they grant her agency when it suits them; with implausable claims that she called 911, but they insist that all her other, documented actions are to be excused because of her age and “the system.” Many went so far as to contend teenage knife ‘fights’ are a rite of passage so common that police should ignore them. Ma’Khia lacked agency. Teenagers in general lack agency.

I came across an essay on this conveniently ambiguous attitude at the Manhattan Institute. A short time later I came across a post at Askblog. I strongly urge you to read both, and I’ll try to give you a little incentive below. They shed some light on SJW motivations and reasoning in playing the agency card.

First, a slice from Askblog reader Roger Sweeny in: The mind and moral categories

I recently read Daniel M. Wegner’ and Kurt Gray’s The Mind Club: Who Thinks, What Feels, and Why It Matters (Viking, 2016), a book that has nothing explicitly to do with politics or wokeness. They ask the question, “Who (and what) do people believe has a mind?” A fetus? A dog? A robot? Google? God? They crunch some numbers and find that people seem to have two groups of characteristics of mindness. One is the ability to experience sensations and emotions. The other is the ability to act, to decide and do.

They tell us that entities that can feel but can’t act turn on our moral senses. Outrage at a man beating a dog. Pity for those in the hospital dying. Moreover, something in us wants to believe that those who are suffering are blameless. But we also want to find moral causes. We want to find something to blame. Best if it is something with a large capacity to act and a small capacity to suffer. Almost always, they say, there is a moral dyad. In fact, whenever there is something with a large capacity to act and a small capacity to suffer, we want to find the other half of the dyad, something relatively powerless and suffering.

Many opponents of wokeness have argued that it “denies agency” to the designated victims, that it treats them as powerless children. So far at least, that charge has not weakened the support for wokeness…

The less there is overt racial discrimination, the more there is a need to believe in a malevolent system. That may seem counter-intuitive, but so is the reality that revolutions do not occur when things are getting worse but when things are (generally) getting better.

Now we’ll turn to a long article at The Manhattan Institute: The Social Construction of Racism in the United States

This paper uses survey data to make the case that racism in America lies, in significant measure, in the eyes of the beholder. This not only concerns people’s perceptions of the prevalence of racism in society but even of their personal experience.

The quality of racism is inversely proportional to the SJW declaimed quantity. Think Jussie Smollett, he was just trying to fulfill the demand.

Tocqueville identified the reasons early on:

The hatred that men bear to privilege increases in proportion as privileges become fewer and less considerable, so that
democratic passions would seem to burn most fiercely just when
they have least fuel. . . . When all conditions are unequal,
no inequality is so great as to offend the eye, whereas the
slightest dissimilarity is odious in the midst of general
uniformity; the more complete this uniformity is, the more
insupportable the sight of such a difference becomes. Hence
it is natural that the love of equality should constantly
increase together with equality itself, and that it should
grow by what it feeds on.
– Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

In a similar vein, Coleman Hughes, in a pathbreaking 2018 essay,
remarks on Tocqueville’s paradox as it concerns racial liberalism
in America: “It seems as if every reduction in racist behavior is
met with a commensurate expansion in our definition of the concept.
Thus, racism has become a conserved quantity akin to mass or energy:
transformable but irreducible.”

This is part of an explanation for Critical Race Theory: Systemic racism is necessary, because it can be winnowed out of every object or human interaction, no matter how benign. Just move the goalposts.

There’s a reason that everything is now viewed through a racial lens. Every day in every way you are bombarded with “evidence” of racism in everything. Over time, this sways minds. Much to our detriment.

Reading a passage from critical race theory author Ta-Nehisi Coates results in a significant 15-point drop in black respondents’ belief that they have control over their lives…

Surveys showed that liberal whites are more supportive of punitive CRT postulates than blacks, who are more likely to aspire to agency and resilience. Moreover, CRT appeared to have a detrimental effect on African- Americans’ feeling of being in control of their lives. This makes CRT a poor choice for policymakers seeking to improve outcomes in the black community.

Finally, my survey results indicate that as much as half of reported racism may be ideologically or psychologically conditioned, and the rise in the proportion of Americans claiming racism to be an important problem is largely socially constructed.

Whites are more affected by social justice/social media conditioning. Blacks are more sensible. I’ll bet there is a correlation with who has read Ta-Nehisi Coates or attended a D’Angelo brainmash session.

There’s nothing liberal about it

This is a follow-up to my post on the desecration of the word “liberal,” starting with excerpts from the papers of a President who served only one term. A national calamity laid him low: Like Cassandra, some people get punishment they don’t deserve.

I could have emphasized a lot of it, but I’m pretty sure you will do that in your head:

“…Bureaucracy does not tolerate the spirit of independence; it spreads the spirit of submission into our daily life and penetrates the temper of our people not with the habit of powerful resistance to wrong but with the habit of timid acceptance of irresistible might.

Bureaucracy is ever desirous of spreading its influence and its power. You cannot extend the mastery of the government over the daily working life of a people without at the same time making it the master of the people’s souls and thoughts. Every expansion of government in business means that government in order to protect itself from the political consequences of its errors and wrongs is driven irresistibly without peace to greater and greater control of the nations’ press and platform. Free speech does not live many hours after free industry and free commerce die.

It is a false liberalism that interprets itself into the Government operation of commercial business. Every step of bureaucratizing of the business of our country poisons the very roots of liberalism – that is, political equality, free speech, free assembly, free press, and equality of opportunity. It is the road not to more liberty, but to less liberty. Liberalism should be found not striving to spread bureaucracy but striving to set bounds to it. True liberalism seeks all legitimate freedom first in the confident belief that without such freedom the pursuit of all other blessings and benefits is vain. That belief is the foundation of all American progress, political as well as economic.

Liberalism is a force truly of the spirit, a force proceeding from the deep realization that economic freedom cannot be sacrificed if political freedom is to be preserved. Even if governmental conduct of business could give us more efficiency instead of less efficiency, the fundamental objection to it would remain unaltered and unabated. It would destroy political equality. It would increase rather than decrease abuse and corruption. It would stifle initiative and invention. It would undermine the development of leadership. It would cramp and cripple the mental and spiritual energies of our people. It would extinguish equality and opportunity. It would dry up the spirit of liberty and progress…

The American people from bitter experience have a rightful fear that great business units might be used to dominate our industrial life and by illegal and unethical practices destroy equality of opportunity…

One of the great problems of government is to determine to what extent the Government shall regulate and control commerce and industry and how much it shall leave it alone. No system is perfect. We have had many abuses in the private conduct of business. That every good citizen resents. It is just as important that business keep out of government as that government keep out of business.”

The President was Herbert Hoover.

He was successor to Presidents Harding and Coolidge, and continued their defense of liberalism (he didn’t have to say “classical liberalism” to be understood circa 1928) against Al Smith and Franklin Roosevelt – advocates of Benito Mussolini’s approach to public policy.

The 1929 calamity was compounded immediately, as Hoover predicted, when Roosevelt’s statism deepened and prolonged the Great Depression. Worse, WWII cemented national industrial policy and government intervention in individual lives as “liberal.” American voters accepted this false definition, leading to many of our present discontents.

So. Today, rich and powerful social media companies -information barons- maneuver a willing government into undoing the 1st Amendment through ‘approved’ regulation of speech. Facebook and Twitter, et. al., seek government sanction for their private censorship.

Free enterprise capitalism is being overwhelmed by creeping corporatism: The merger of woke government with the rent-seekers. This is most obvious in the greenspace of pipeline cancellation, anti-fracking, plastic straw bans, anti-nuclear power cognitive dissonance, etc., by corporations who thrive on government subsidies.

The predations of bureaucracy are ubiquitous, but nowhere are these sanctions on liberty more obvious than in the enlistment of public health poobahs to bludgeon American citizens. Our teacher’s union owned public educational cartel is a close second, but to that we’re inured.

Freedom of conscience is targeted by the petty fascisti in academia, government, media, and the viciously tribal special-victims groups they empower. This is possible because equality of opportunity is now called racist and sexist.

Equal opportunity is replaced with demands for equality of outcome (“equity”). I seriously doubt FDR’s good intentions contemplated that outcome. Or the world that these totalitarian wannabes desire.

All because we don’t know what “liberal” means.

Rules for Radicals v1.0

A friend sent the the first quote following the other day as a post topic, and I’ve added another from the same source:

“Undermine the enemy first, then his army will fall to you. Subvert him, attack his morale, strike at his economy, corrupt his leaders, sow internal discord. Destroy him.”

“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”

― Sun Tzu

For the Chinese, The Art of War remains current doctrine. But it is more than an ancient (~5th century BC) Chinese military treatise on strategy and tactics.

Consider it as Rules for Radicals v1.0. Saul Alinsky wasn’t such an original thinker. His major contribution (maybe V1.05?) was no more than an amoral gloss: Glorifying personal mendacity, celebrating corrupt nihilism, and justifying individual persecution by the mob.

War” does make for a much punchier title than “Business, Sports, Politics, Strategy, Tactics, and Life in General.” But, Sun Tzu’s advice is often general. With Alinsky’s help it applies to American Leftist academicians and authoritarian politicians as much as to the present day Chinese People’s Liberation Army; and to our SJW Community Organizers as much as to the Russian CyberKommand. Even though they all are enemies.

If you’ve been paying even slight attention, you easily can supply many recent examples of the Chinese Communist Party’s deceitful undermining of the United States. The list includes attempts at subversion, demoralization, economic disruption, corruption of high officials, and sowing of internal discord. That would be in line with Sun Tzu’s advice. I hope we’re doing it to them. But their Fifth Column is much better than ours.

That is, the Chinese have had a lot of help with their efforts. While we can draw parallels to Art of War, more damage results from domestic application of Rules for Radicals. As a few of Alinsky’s aphorisms will illustrate:

“The enemy properly goaded and guided in his reaction will be your major strength.”

“The organizer’s first job is to create the issues or problems… The organizer must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression.”

“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.”

“Human beings do not like to look squarely into the face of tragedy. Gloom is unpopular.”

“A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism…”

“To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles.”

“Accuse the other side of that of which you are guilty.”

“They have the guns and therefore we are for peace and for reformation through the ballot. When we have the guns then it will be through the bullet.”

“Always remember the first rule of power tactics; power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.”

And my favorite – which you never hear – in these days of BLAMTIFA and ‘gender’ chaos:

“The fact that people are poor or discriminated against doesn’t necessarily endow them with any special qualities of justice, nobility, charity or compassion.”

Anything strike you about Alinsky’s advice and current events?

Mask mandates? Lockdowns? Riots, looting and arson unopposed by civic leaders? Pronoun wars? Cancel culture? Election fraud? Destruction of small business? Dollar gutting multi-trillion dollar pipe dreams? Self-debasement of our media? Objections to “Wuhan Virus” as racist?

Further reading:

“In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is…in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

– Theodore Dalrymple

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were- cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?”

-George Orwell, 1984

We’ll let Sun Tzu have the final word:

“The greatest victory is that which requires no battle.”

C’mon, Man!

I’d like to supply a link to the WaPo or NYT on this point, since that makes it nearly impossible for Progressive useful idiots to deny. But Wapo and NYT seem to be MIA.

Since I participate in neither Twitter nor Facebook, I cannot say if it has been shadow banned, buried, or otherwise demoted on those plotforms. (Not a typo.)

It is reportable news that far more than half of Americans would like to ponder (Trump voters plus Democrats who don’t believe men can just decide they’re women for purposes of Track or Rugby), from a video of a Chuck Schumer press conference. It should be highlighted by the papers which editorially support the idea, but reporting it might disturb the somnolence of some mail in voters.

Schumer Says He Agrees With Biden On Giving Transgender Students Access To Sports, Bathrooms, And Locker Rooms

What I want to know is how Chuck Schumer even dare comment? Let me show you why, in SJW speak:

Schumer: “Speaking as an ancient, privileged, white, elite, heterosexual male – who championed the Biden/Clinton 1994 crime bill in the House… I fully support Joe Biden’s idea that the Federal Government should ensure females of any age have no protection from males in contact sports, are forced to share shower facilities, and cannot feel secure in public bathrooms generally.”

Isn’t this the very epitome of cultural appropriation? “Woke” is a culture, right?

Gender appropriationists

Well, if they can play Rugby
California will now house prisoners according to gender identity instead of biological sex

So, buy stock in California prison construction. Last I heard there were hundreds of gender identities. Will furries have to be separated by species? Lions and lambs; cats and dogs.

And another question. If men who pretend they are women don’t have to apologize; why, when some white person is caught appropriating black racial identity, do they have to apologize? It’s mostly the same people who demand an apology for the latter and scream at you if you question the former.

What science are they following?

Asking for J. K. Rowling.