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Gay Rites Are Civil Rites

I.

I went to Antigua Guatemala in April. Their claim to fame is the world’s biggest Easter celebration. I wasn’t even there for Easter. I was three weeks early. But already the roads were choked with pre-parties, practice parades, and centurion cosplayers.


I couldn’t go out and grab dinner at 9 PM because all the streets looked like this

Day. Night. The hours of the morning when tourists are trying to sleep and don’t want loud Spanish singing outside their hotel windows. It didn’t stop. Some people bore the floats on their backs (they weren’t motorized, they had to be carried like a sedan chair). Other people crowded into empty lots and backyards, putting finishing touches on art or costumes or paraphernalia. Children and teenagers ran around in Easter purple, jockeying for the best spots on the parade routes. Civic dignitaries stood around, practicing looking important for their turn in the celebrations.


I missed the scene in the Bible where a winged mechanical lion drags the body of Christ in an intricate silver juggernaut, but the Guatemalans definitely didn’t.

This was around the time I was reading about cultural evolution, so I couldn’t help rehearsing some familiar conservative arguments. A shared religion binds people together. For a day, everyone is on the same side. That builds social trust and helps turn a city into a community. It was hard to argue with that. I’m no expert in Guatemala. I don’t even speak Spanish. But for a little while, everybody, old and young, rich or poor, whatever one Guatemalan political party is and whatever the other Guatemalan political party is, were caught up in the same great wave, swept together by the glory of the Easter narrative.

It was the sort of thing, I thought sadly to myself, that would never happen back in America, where we didn’t have the same kind of shared religious purpose, where the liberal traditions like the separation of church and state prevented the same kind of all-consuming state-sponsored dedication to a single narrative. Right?

II.

After five minutes I realized of course this was false. I’ve been to Fourth of July parades. Not recently; I live in the Bay Area, where the Fourth of July parades are pretty disappointing. But I remember when I was very young, my parents took me to a town in the California mountains famous for its Independence Day celebrations, and there was a respectable level of parading. Maybe a little deficient in the winged mechanical lion department, but respectable. The Mayor and City Council came by in fancy old automobiles. Marching bands played patriotic music. All the cops drove by in their cop cars; all the firefighters drove by in their fire engines. The Boy Scouts marched by waving posters that said THE BOY SCOUTS. The local charitable organizations marched by waving posters that said LOCAL CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS. Adorable little children marched irregularly in a vaguely forward direction. Sometimes there were dogs wearing red-white-and-blue beads around their necks, and if you stood close enough to the fences blocking off the street, you could reach out and pet them.

It might not have been super-high-production-value. The point is, I got the same feeling I got in Guatemala. Every building, from government offices to stores to private houses, was decorated with red-white-and-blue flags and streamers. All the civic dignitaries stood around looking important. There was a sense that we’d captured the best of both worlds. We’d stuck to our liberal principles of not having a state religion. But we’d also come together as a community – not just some small group of people holding a parade for themselves, but the honest-to-goodness government declaring that we were all going to come together and do this. And we did, not because we were forced, but out of genuine affection for the cause being paraded for. It was the same sense of rich and poor and old and young joining together in a single narrative and ending up a stronger and tighter community.

Sociologists like to talk about the American civil religion, the sense in which patriotism serves the role in America that a state church used to hold in a lot of more traditional countries. Figures like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln (and now also MLK) take on a quasi-prophetic significance. Independence Day becomes the sort of festival that ancient Greece or Rome would have held in honor of the gods. The troops become martyrs, the Constitution becomes Scripture (with the Bill of Rights’ Ten Amendments replacing the Ten Commandments) and the Pledge of Allegiance becomes the Lord’s Prayer. King George III replaces Pharaoh as a watchword for tyranny, Benedict Arnold replaces Judas as a watchword for betrayal. Liberty and justice for all stand in for faith, hope, and charity.


We’re not a religion, we just decorated the ceiling of our most important building with a giant mural showing our founder ascending to Heaven surrounded by angels and goddesses, drawn by an artist who used to work for the Pope drawing near-identical pictures of the Assumption Of The Virgin Mary.

I’m a pretty big believer in the theory of an American civil religion. For me, the important part of religion isn’t the part with gods, prophets, or an afterlife – Buddhism lacks gods, traditional Judaism doesn’t have much of an afterlife, and both get along just fine. It’s about a symbiosis between a society and an ideology. On the most basic level, it’s the answer to a series of questions. What is our group? Why are we better than the outgroup? Why is our social system legitimate?

For most of history, all religion was civil religion – if not of a state, then of a nation. Shinto for the Japanese, Judaism for the Israelites, Olympianism for the Greeks, Hinduism for the Indians. This was almost tautological; religion (along with language and government) was what defined group boundaries, divided the gradients of geography and genetics into separate peoples. A shared understanding of the world and shared rituals kept societies together. Later religions transcended ethnicity to create entirely new supernational communities of believers. Sometimes these were a threat to their host nation, creating a new locus of cultural power. Other times the host nation converted and lived in comfortable symbiosis with them, and the king would get called His Most Catholic Majesty or something.


We’re not a religion, we just put a 30-foot tall stone idol in the center of our capital. And we make our king leave a sacrificial offering before it on the same day every year. Then we spend the next few days arguing about whether he truly meant it in his heart or was just going through the motions.

But this argument still follows the conservative playbook. Say it with me: patriotism is a great force uniting our country. Now liberals aren’t patriotic enough, so the country is falling apart. The old answers ring hollow. What is our group? America? Really? Why are we better than the outgroup? Because we have God and freedom and they are dirty commies? Say this and people will just start talking about how our freedom is a sham and Sweden is so much better. Why is our social system legitimate? Because the Constitution is amazing and George Washington was a hero? Everyone already knows the stock rebuttals to this. The problem isn’t just that the rebuttals are convincing. It’s that these answers have been dragged out of the cathedral of sacredness into the marketplace of open debate; questioning them isn’t taboo – and “taboo” is just the Tongan word for “sacred”. The Bay Area’s lack of civic rituals (so goes the argument) is both a cause and a symptom of a larger problem: the American civil religion has lost its sacredness. That means it can’t answer the questions of group identity, and that communities aren’t as unified as they should be.

III.

Last week I watched the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade.

Everyone should do this once, regardless of their politics. SF Pride should be counted among the great festivals of the world, up there with Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Easter in Guatemala.

It starts on the subway going from wherever you are to the parade route. All the subway stations are decorated with rainbow flags. Most of your subway-mates are obvious revelers. Most of them are teenagers. They’re dressed in rainbow facepaint, rainbow clothing, rainbow jewelery. Some of them have rainbow-dyed hair. Groups spontaneously break into song.

By the time you reach the parade, everything is in full carnival mode. The houses and stores on both sides of the road are hung with rainbow flags, rainbow streamers, and slogans about how LOVE WINS. The people are all either dressed in rainbow clothing, or dressed in weird punk or bondage-adjacent outfits related to the atmosphere in some way.


Thanks to these people for letting me take their picture


I even saw some naked people! I mean, there are parts of San Francisco where I often see naked people. But these were different parts of San Francisco, and there were naked people anyway!

The parade itself hit all the requisite notes. Marching bands. Celebrities. Floats. Adorable children. Charitable organizations. The Governor drove by in his shiny black car. The Mayor, surrounded by adoring supporters. Public streetcars and sightseeing buses, festooned for the occasion.



A typical float.


I think this was sponsored by a seafood restaurant, because it was surrounded by dancing women dressed as seafood dishes.


Somebody told me this was Ariana Huffington, but I have no idea if that’s true.


There were big black vans driving behind him that someone said were the California equivalent of the Secret Service


The banner says “it doesn’t get more SF” than this. I agree a streetcar festooned with gay pride decorations is pretty SF, but it got better. Some socialist activist group was marching ahead of it, and one of the marchers did some kind of dance routine, got distracted, and jumped right in front of the streetcar, which had to make a sudden screeching stop. It doesn’t get more SF than a streetcar festooned with gay pride decorations, with its progress halted by socialists.


Actually, I take it back, a sightseeing bus displaying people’s preferred pronouns might be the most SF thing.

Then came the march of the big corporations. Blue Shield, the health insurance company had a float; with impressive chutzpah, they had chosen the motto “Love Covers All”. Their employees rushed ahead, distributing Blue Shield paddle/fan/advertisements for everyone to wave. The crowd of teenage girls standing next to me accepted them with gusto, waving their Blue Shield fan-paddles and cheering as the Blue Shield delegation passed by.

Apple, Facebook, Google, and Uber were all there. But the show was stolen by Amazon (temporarily rebranded “Glamazon”), who were going for a Santa Claus type image as a source of limitless cornucopian gifts.


The Amazon float featured a rainbow of colorful packages


Get it? “Fulfillment?”


The Amazon Treasure Truck, ready to bring all your wildest dreams

I don’t know when I realized it was a sublimated Fourth of July Parade. But once I figured it out, it wasn’t subtle – and not just because it was being held the weekend before July 4th. The police cars with red-white-and-blue stripes had been replaced by police cars with rainbow stripes. The civic dignitaries waving American flags had been replaced by civic dignitaries waving gay flags. Even the Boy Scouts were still there, in the same place as always.


Police cars in full regalia


Apparently the sheriff’s department is different from the police department. You learn something new every day.


Some third group of basically cop-like people, not sure what’s going on here.


As a gaggle of teenage girls waved their Blue-Shield-advertisement-paddles to cheer on the police, I thought to myself “Yes, this exactly captures the spirit of the original Stonewall rioters”.


The Bud Light float should be your cue that this is less about gayness and more about generic summer holiday Americana


You can tell something’s still hip and countercultural and definitely hasn’t sold out when the Boy Scouts get involved


No, stop with the obvious symbolism! I’m trying to pretend that I’m very insightful for noticing this! Stop it right now!

Am I saying that gay pride has replaced the American civil religion?

Maybe not just because it had a cool parade. But put it in the context of everything else going on, and it seems plausible. “Social justice is a religion” is hardly a novel take. A thousand tradcon articles make the same case. But a lot of them use an impoverished definition of religion, something like “false belief that stupid people hold on faith, turning them into hateful fanatics” – which is a weird mistake for tradcons to make.

There’s another aspect of religion. The one that inspired the Guatemala Easter parade. The group-building aspect. The one that answers the questions inherent in any group more tightly bound than atomic individuals acting in their self-interest:

What is our group? We’re the people who believe in pride and equality and diversity and love always winning.

Why is our group better than other groups? Because those other groups are bigots who are motivated by hate.

What gives our social system legitimacy? Because all those beautiful people in fancy cars, Governor Gavin Newsom and Mayor London Breed and all the rest, are fighting for equality and trying to dismantle racism.


Pictured: a religious festival successfully granting legitimacy to the secular power


More support for the secular power, in this case California senator Kamala Harris.


Still more support for the secular power.


The secular power is starting to get kind of creeped out, and wants to clarify that it only likes you as a friend.

IV.

“Civil religion” is a surprising place for social justice to end up. Gay pride started at Stonewall as a giant fuck-you to civil society. Homeless people, addicts, and sex workers told the police where they could shove their respectable values.

But there was another major world religion that started with beggars, lepers, and prostitutes, wasn’t there? One that told the Pharisees where to shove their respectable values. One whose founder got in trouble with the cops of his time. One that told its followers to leave their families, quit their jobs, give away all their possessions, and welcome execution at the hands of the secular authorities.


We’re not a religion, we just parade images of martyrs up and down the streets.

The new faith burst into a world dominated by the religio Romana, the civil religion par excellence. Emperor Augustus had just finished moral reforms promoting all the best values: chastity, family, tradition, patriotism, martial valor. Lavishly dressed procurators and proconsuls were building beautiful marble temples across the known world, spreading the rites with all the pomp and dignity befitting history’s greatest empire.

The problem was, nobody really believed religio Romana anymore. Everyone believed it was important to have all the best values, like chastity and military valor and so on. But nobody took Jupiter very seriously, or thought the Emperor was legitimate in some kind of sacred way.

When the new religion of beggars and lepers encountered the old religion of emperors and philosophers, the latter crumbled. But as Christianity expanded to the upper classes, it started looking, well, upper-class. It started promoting all the best values. Chastity, family, tradition, patriotism, martial valor. You knew the Pope was a good Christian because he lived in a giant palace and wore a golden tiara. Nobody ever came out and said Jesus was wrong to love prostitutes, but Pope Sixtus V did pass a law instituting the death penalty for prostitution, in Jesus’ name. Nobody ever came out and said Jesus was wrong to preach peace, but they did fight an awful lot of holy wars.


We’re not a religion, we just want to spread our truth to every corner of the world

At some point it got kind of ridiculous. I don’t know how much clearer Jesus could have been about “rich = bad”, but the prosperity gospel – the belief that material wealth is a sign of God’s favor – is definitely a thing. The moral of the story is: religion adapts to the demands placed on it. If it becomes a civil religion, it will contort itself until it looks like a civil religion. It will have all the best values.

Everything happens faster these days. It took Christianity three hundred years to go from Christ to Constantine. It only took fifty for gay pride to go from the Stonewall riots to rainbow-colored gay bracelets urging you to support your local sheriff deparment.


No, I’m not making that up

I can hear my conservative readers getting apoplectic: what about families? Family values are the most important legitimizing, community-building, wisdom-encoding part of Christianity! Homosexuality is anti-family and therefore can never be a true civil religion. Sure, you can twist social justice into support for sufficiently progressive government officials, but fifty years of cultural evolution isn’t going to make it into a pro-family movement, right?

About that:

Yeah, sure, all of this has context. “Proud Of Our Families” is supposed to be about people not being ashamed of their non-standard family structures (eg two fathers), although realistically I saw a lot of pretty hetero-looking families marching along. “We Celebrate All Families” is supposed to mean “including families with trans and gay people”. My point isn’t that everyone has suddenly forgotten about homosexuality, my point is that the celebration of gay pride is expressing itself in very predictable ways, after only fifty years. Christianity will mumble something about loving your parents as we love God our Heavenly Father, but that doesn’t mean that its family values are fake, or just a fig leaf for theology. It means cultural evolution works with what it’s got.

In a hundred years, will social justice look exactly like Christianity does now? No. The world’s changed too much. Even if every religion converges on the same set of socially useful values, the socially useful values change. We don’t need to push chastity if we have good STD treatment and contraception; we don’t need to push martial valor if all our wars are fought by drones. The old religions are failing partly because they can’t adapt quickly enough; social justice won’t need to imitate their failures. And Christianity is far from a homogenous mass; it has everything from golden-tiara-ed monarchs to barefoot street preachers to corporate megachurches to tonsured priests.


We’re not a religion…but we do have Levites!

But I expect it to recapitulate the history of other civil religions in fast-forward. Did you know “pagan” is just Latin for “rural”? The pagans, the people who kept resisting Christianity even after it had conquered the centers of power, were the Roman equivalent of flyover states. Once Pride assimilates its own pagans (and kicks out its own Julian the Apostate), maybe it mellows out. Maybe it becomes more tolerant, the same way Christians eventually started painting Greek gods on everything. Maybe it encounters the same problems other faiths encountered and adapts to them the same way.

Maybe a decade or a century from now, we have all the best values.


“Though the cause of evil prosper; yet ’tis Truth alone is strong
And albeit she wander outcast now, I see around her throng
Troops of beautiful tall angels, to enshield her from all wrong.”

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508 Responses to Gay Rites Are Civil Rites

  1. emmag says:

    > For me, the important part of religion isn’t the part with gods, prophets, or an afterlife – Buddhism lacks gods, traditional Judaism doesn’t have much of an afterlife, and both get along just fine. It’s about a symbiosis between a society and an ideology. On the most basic level, it’s the answer to a series of questions. What is our group? Why are we better than the outgroup? Why is our social system legitimate?

    Healthy religion isn’t separable from culture in general. You’re defining culture as “religion”, and “religion” as a pulling goal.
    https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/07/18/pushing-and-pulling-goals/

    > On the most basic level, it’s the answer to a series of questions. What is our group? Why are we better than the outgroup? Why is our social system legitimate?
    These questions are about satisfying not optimizing.

  2. Pave2112 says:

    The other big parade in SF is the Chinese New Year’s Parade – same gathering of local groups, corporations, and politicians. Aren’t parades really more like civic power? Both of these groups wield significant power in SF, and these parades just represent that power. These groups did not just get this power – they fought for it all across the City.

    Can’t you think about these groups as more similar to the Romans who rose to power from the edges of the Roman republic. Not everyone who ruled was from Rome, and this ability to rise up was a big part of the long-lived nature of that particular empire. Maybe these groups are just a way for the American empire to keep refreshing itself….we wouldn’t want to turn out like the Russian empire.

    • HomarusSimpson says:

      Not everyone who ruled was from Rome

      The capital was Constantinople far longer than it was Rome, a serious piece of adaptation to changing circumstance

      • Watchman says:

        But Constantinople was explicitly labelled as the New Rome, right down to replication of already archaic political structures that still existed in Rome. Yes it was an adaptation but it was one that tried to maintain the fiction of Roman centrality. Considering the Arabs always called the Byzantines Romans, it clearly worked in showing this image to the world.

        • Jon Gunnarsson says:

          It wasn’t just the Arabs who called the “Byzantines” Romans. Basically everyone did, except for Western Europeans because Western Europe had another empire that (rather speciously) claimed to be Roman.

          • Watchman says:

            Its first emperor was crowned in the actual Rome by the bishop of Rome with the acclamation of the people of Rome. That’s a reasonable claim…

            But yes, most of the rest of the world thought the Byzantines were the Roman’s.

          • Jon Gunnarsson says:

            That’s assuming that being Roman is connected to the city of Rome, which was definitely the case during the Republic, but over the course of the Empire Romanness became more and more disconnected from the city of Rome.

            During the Republic, Rome was the seat of government, but in the Empire, the government revolved around the emperor. In the 4th and 5th century, many emperors never even set foot within the city of Rome. Additionally, Roman citizenship began to be given out more and more liberally. By 476, there was hardly any connection between Romanness and Rome.

          • philwelch says:

            To your point, I believe the etymology of “Romania” is that the Romanians were really, really excited about becoming Roman citizens and just started calling themselves Romans.

          • Watchman says:

            I doubt the nature of Romanness in the fourth and fifth centuries mattered to Charlemagne in the late-eighth century.He saw Rome as the legitimising element , as did his western contemporaries.

            And Romania is so called because its inhabitants were linguistically distinct locally, speaking a romance language (derived from Latin). See also the Romansch in a otherwise German-speaking bit of Switzerland.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            Its first emperor was crowned in the actual Rome by the bishop of Rome with the acclamation of the people of Rome. That’s a reasonable claim…

            Who gave the bishop of Rome emperor-crowning powers again? The pious might say “god does” but since the bishop of Rome claims to speak for god I find that argument kind of circular.

          • Lambert says:

            In Pagan Rome, the Pontiffs were high priests. Among other things, they conducted augury before certain events to check that the Gods were happy with what was going on.
            This included the inaugration by the Pontifex Maximus of Emperors (who often already held the position of Pontifex Maximus) and before that, kings.

            So the answer is Numa Pomilius, Second King of Rome and founder of the college of pontiffs.

    • AG says:

      My impression was that the St. Patrick’s Day parade was longer. It was maybe a couple of hours shorter than Pride. Like, 4 hours vs. 6 hours.
      (Probably because the Chinese New Year’s one is at night, so they have more incentive to get it done before it gets too cold. Pride and St. Patricks can just go on and on and on and on through lunch and the afternoon.)

    • onyomi says:

      Tangential observation: having grown up in New Orleans, where people riding in parades always throw trinkets to the onlookers (even St. Patrick’s day parades… they literally throw potatoes and cabbage…), all parades everywhere else, no matter how otherwise spectacular, feel weirdly boring and lifeless (unless of course they throw things, but it seems pretty uncommon elsewhere?).

    • Steve Sailer says:

      I was looking through the huge database Stanford professor Sean Reardon has assembled of all the school test scores in the country and I noticed: San Francisco, despite having huge amounts of money and very few children, does a remarkably terrible job of educating what few children it does have.

      For example, San Francisco combines big race divides (a white-black gap of 3.7 years) with weak test scores.

      Amusingly, San Francisco is the opposite of Frisco, Tex., a sprawling Dallas exurb that has grown from 33,000 to 188,000 in this century. In contrast to highly gay San Francisco, Frisco, the weekday home to the Dallas Cowboys, has been called “the Best Place to Raise an Athlete.”

      Ironically, while everybody in San Francisco hates when you call it by its unloved nickname “Frisco,” Republican-voting Frisco is much better at narrowing racial divides than is liberal San Francisco. Frisco has a white-black gap of only 1.4 years.

      Frisco is San Francisco’s friendlier, less dysfunctional right-wing opposite. While San Francisco occupies perhaps the world’s most perfect spot for a city, Frisco is randomly plopped down on the prairie. San Francisco is an adult Disneyland with the lowest percentage of children of any city, while Frisco specializes in raising the next generation.

      Frisco, which barely existed in 1990, now has 56,000 public school students, 48 percent white, 24 percent Asian, 14 percent Hispanic, and 11 percent black. This exurb 25 miles north of Dallas has, among school districts large enough to have reliable data, the nation’s highest black and Hispanic test scores.

      Here are the test scores for public school students in San Francisco and in Frisco in terms of grade level equivalence for 6th graders:

      Asian: SF 6.0, Frisco 8.2

      White: SF 6.8, Frisco 7.6

      Hispanic: SF 3.6, Frisco 6.6

      Black: SF 3.1, Frisco 6.6

      https://www.takimag.com/article/san-francisco-vs-frisco/

      • 420BootyWizard says:

        How does Frisco, TX compare to nearby Dallas 25 miles away?

      • LukeReeshus says:

        And your point is? I mean, what are you, suggesting that our new civil religion is much better at expounding its ideals than actually delivering on them? That, indeed, the places wherein it holds the most sway actually end up with less Equality, at least in certain important instances?

        This theory strikes me as, at best, quite outlandish, and at worse, well… less outlandish. ‘Cause it’d be quite depressing if it was true.

      • Reziac says:

        Fair guess the difference between the two systems is the impact of all kids being required to be Butt In Chair, Eyes Front — when that requirement is dropped, as has mostly happened in California, some groups respond more …exuberantly… than others.

  3. JackBeThimble says:

    Well thank gay Jesus the rise of a new religion to dominate an existing society never results in anything bad happening.

  4. DinoNerd says:

    I love it, even if it was hard to stop laughing.

    I’m not going to argue about what is and is not a religion – but I will agree that this serves some of the useful functions of religion, in terms of social bonding etc.

    The real question – can you have Gay Pride, institutionalized, without “wokeness” etc.?

    Can you have Christianity, institutionalized, without also having persecution of heretics, non-believers, atheists etc.?

    Can you have national pride, without jingoism, etc.?

    • deciusbrutus says:

      Can you have moderation without extremism?

    • AG says:

      Yes, because as these examples show, the height of mainstreaming of Christianity and Pride alike comes from their both being subsumed into the grand tradition of making money?

      (And in lieu of World Wars, the national pride is, too, about which nations make the most money…)

      Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, wherein the pursuit of happiness shall be represented here by property.

    • I was looking at the other side of it. Can you have gay pride without at least the impression that gays are under threat?

      It doesn’t make a lot of sense for non-gays to have a parade to celebrate how gays run their sex lives, any more than for gays to have a parade to celebrate how straights run theirs. But it does make sense for straight citizens of San Francisco to participate in a parade celebrating their commitment to the defense of their threatened fellow citizens.

      Gay marriage is already legal, and it isn’t clear that there is a whole lot more to be done in support of gay rights, though obviously there are still many people who think negatively about gays. Indeed, in my view, part of the reason for all the recent attention to trans issues was that gay issues were no longer seen as a cause that needed fighting for.

      Suppose that in ten or twenty years the combination of continued normalization of sex plus increased realization of that normalization by the citizens of SF means that hardly anyone in SF, gay or straight, views gays as a minority under threat. Will the Pride Parade stop? Stop functioning a SF civic religion? Morph into something else?

      Or will straight citizens of SF continue to participate in memory of their great triumph over the forces of evil, just as Americans in general continue to have parades in memory of a war won more than two hundred years ago?

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Can you have gay pride without at least the impression that gays are under threat?

        The Irish seem to manage it.

      • soritical says:

        Or will straight citizens of SF continue to participate in memory of their great triumph over the forces of evil, just as Americans in general continue to have parades in memory of a war won more than two hundred years ago?

        I predict this will be the case, at least for the next couple decades. Pride parades don’t seem to be showing any signs of slowing down. After then, who knows.

      • Steve Sailer says:

        When I was a kid in the 1960s at St. Francis de Sales elementary school, I heard a lot about Roman emperors throwing Christians to the lions in the Coliseum.

        So, I’d say we might well hear about the Homophobe Threat endlessly, just as the New York Times invokes the name “Emmett Till” once or twice per week. These kind of anti-Emmanuel Goldstein Two Minutes Hates are the KKKrazyGlue that holds the triumphant Coalition of the Diverse together, even though the KKK has barely existed for several decades.

        • 420BootyWizard says:

          How much is “barely existing”, and to what extent do you think the KKK should exist at all?

          • Aapje says:

            They mostly resort to handing out fliers now, since they typically can’t actually manage to get enough people together for a protest.

            The SPLC says that there are between 5,000 and 8,000 members, but given their bias, I’d suspect it’s way below that.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            Okay. How many members would you say the KKK should have?

          • Aapje says:

            My attempt at a better guess:

            The ADL is probably less biased than the SPLC (hard not to be) and believes that there are 35-40 groups, with the largest Klan being the Loyal White Knights (LWK) at 100 members.

            So that already makes for a 100 x 40 = 4,000 member upper bound, but presumably way lower. The ADL have tracked 79 flier events by the KKK from 2014-2018, with just over half of those by the Loyal White Knights. In total, they found that 79% of propaganda events were by the LWK, which suggests that the LWK is much more active with demonstrations and such, which fits my claim that the groups lack strength in numbers. You’d then expect the largest group(s) to manage a few demonstrations, but not the small groups, who can barely dress themselves get two or three people to actually do something.

            So if you look at activity, with 100 LWK members doing just over 50% of the KKK propaganda events, you might guess 200 people who are active across all groups. That’s probably the lower bound.

            So then we are at 200-4000.

            Of course, there is a difference between active members and those who have a membership for the bragging rights. It’s likely that the smaller groups have fewer active members.

            Okay. How many members would you say the KKK should have?

            0, but I don’t see how that is relevant.

            I think that, unless you actively seek them out, the risk of being the victim of violence by the KKK is way smaller than many risks that people accept. If you’d want to save gay lives, you’d be more effective by convincing gay people to use (rainbow-colored?) fire detectors than to go after the KKK.

            Note that the current crop of KKK members seem to largely be low-IQ, high propensity to violence, individuals. If you were to convert them to be pro-gay BLM advocates, they’d still be violent and some of them would seek out people to shoot/stab.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            0, but I don’t see how that is relevant.

            It’s relevant because it seems like you and I agree that your estimation of 200-4000 members is about 200-4000 members more than would be ideal. As far as I can tell, most SJW’s opposition to the KKK begins and ends with this same belief (To do anything more, you’d have to somehow find a KKK member, and your estimation makes them out to be pretty rare).

            I think that, unless you actively seek them out, the risk of being the victim of violence by the KKK is way smaller than many risks that people accept. If you’d want to save gay lives, you’d be more effective by convincing gay people to use (rainbow-colored?) fire detectors than to go after the KKK.

            I’d believe this, in the same way that I believe that the threat of, say, dying in an act of islamic terror is way way below risks that people commonly accept. And yet I can’t help but notice that this doesn’t prevent any pearl-clutching when it comes to the subject of islamic immigration. Try suggesting that funds for the Department of Homeland Security, or even just the TSA, be diverted to fire alarms and see how well that goes over.

            Note that the current crop of KKK members seem to largely be low-IQ, high propensity to violence, individuals. If you were to convert them to be pro-gay BLM advocates, they’d still be violent and some of them would seek out people to shoot/stab.

            I don’t know if this is provable one way or the other. But assuming for a moment it’s true, what would you suggest be done about it?

          • Aapje says:

            @420BootyWizard

            Quite a few people on the right are definitely greatly exaggerating the risks of Islamic migration, but that is not an valid rebuttal to the claim that quite a few people are greatly exaggerating the risks of the KKK or white supremacy in general. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

            But assuming for a moment it’s true, what would you suggest be done about it?

            Mental health services, policing, jailing, FBI infiltration, monitoring sales of explosives and explosive precursors, etc, etc.

            All the stuff that’s already being done (although not always well or sufficiently) and that prevents a lot of harm. However, you can never eliminate all harm.

            Realistically, stopping all racial hatred and/or violence can only be achieved by killing everyone or putting everyone in battery cages, like chickens. That’s not a price that I’m willing to pay.

            At a certain point, you need to accept that some harms/risks have been reduced to such a low level that they don’t merit doing more, because the things you do against them have harms/risks of their own.

            However, this is hard. There is a very interesting study that suggests that people become more sensitive if there are fewer threats, even to the point of hallucinating. So this suggests that we have trouble recognizing things getting better and getting on with our lives when certain problems become small.

          • Nornagest says:

            If there are few tigers, then you’re pretty safe; if there are no tigers, then the tigers are good at hiding? It tracks.

            That link seems to be in Russian, though, or another language I don’t speak that uses the Cyrillic alphabet.

          • nkurz says:

            @Nornagest
            > if there are no tigers, then the tigers are good at hiding

            Perhaps worse, the study seems to say that the non-existent tigers are no-good at hiding! That is, you still see just as many tigers even though they are no longer there.

            Aapje’s link works fine for me. Perhaps try a different browser? Or perhaps Mallory has infiltrated your connections to SciHub? Here’s a copy on the author’s site: http://www.danielgilbert.com/LEVARI2018COMPLETE.pdf.

          • Aapje says:

            Sci-hub can give you a captcha on a Russian page or block you with a Russian page.

  5. tenmin says:

    The pagans, the people who kept resisting Christianity even after it had conquered the centers of power, were the Roman equivalent of flyover states. Once Pride assimilates its own pagans

    I wonder if it’s possible for you to read this from another person’s perspective, not hopped up on tribalism.
    Every gloating post about how you will exterminate everything unlike you (but with drones, so it’s not gross and nobody will chip a nail) just hardens resistance. I’m gay and this post somehow makes me ashamed to be.

    Best case, your cult fades away like thousands of other unsustainable movements that existed only because they temporarily served the needs of the powerful.
    Worst case, its totalitarian nature causes it to wage holy war on the natural world until it burns out in a way that leaves no stone standing on another.

    • Frederic Mari says:

      Genuine question – what are you talking about? I just don’t get it… Are you saying that gay prides will turn into holy wars against the hinterland?

      • tenmin says:

        Look up how Roman Christians got rid of their filthy flyover pagans, as name99 alludes to below.
        “We want to do that to you, but with drones”, delivered in a gloating sneer is how I read this whole piece.

        • Frederic Mari says:

          By and large, they culturally absorbed them. I’m well aware that some wars were fought against pagans but the vast majority was converted…

          Just taking France as an example – Clovis baptism is a key moment in the christianization of Francia/what was to become France.

          Same thing happened in Ukraine (Kievan-Rus) and I’m pretty sure all over Europe…

        • Enkidum says:

          You’ve very much misread the piece. See Watchman’s response to Rachael below (which is meant to be a response to you, I think).

    • itex says:

      Where do you see gloating in this post? I don’t take “Pride assimilating its own pagans” to be something Scott necessarily desires or even assigns much probability. Just an implication of the analogy.

    • Rachael says:

      Interesting that it can be read in such different ways. I didn’t read the post as gloating at all. I read it as a detached, amused, kind of cynical commentary – very similar to Scott’s photoblog of the psychology conference. Bits of it verged on mocking (of Pride, not of the “filthy flyover pagans”), like the bits about selling out and supporting various political and corporate agendas – to the extent that I thought “oh dear, Scott’s going to get in trouble with the social justice crowd again.”

      • Watchman says:

        I’ve reread it with my conservative head on (quite easy if you’re generally conservative I find…) and it can’t be read that way without seriously motivated reasoning that I can see. How you link the downgrading of martial values comment to a threat to attack the flyover states is beyond me. And how a vaguely careful reader wouldn’t see Scott was poking fun at both the US civil religion and at social justice as a religion, whilst making an interesting point I don’t know. I could do it if I was looking for out-of-context stuff to highlight to suit a preconceived agenda, but I am reluctant to assume bad faith here.

        • Enkidum says:

          You’ve replied to the wrong comment, by the way,.

        • Ttar says:

          Ditto, speaking as a conservative, Scott’s tongue is ALWAYS firmly in his cheek with these kinds of posts, and people need to lighten up a little, enjoy the humor, and just take away the vague point about some things looking like other things in ways that aren’t widely acknowledged in the mainstream.

      • John Richards says:

        I had a similar thought as well, a thought of concern that he’d get in hot water for merely gently mocking a gay pride parade.

        • Enkidum says:

          No, because for all their numerous failings, progressives are quite open to gentle mockery if they think it’s being done in a spirit of kindness and goodwill.

          (The above is not sarcasm.)

    • ovid75 says:

      I do get where you’re coming from (also as a gay man) although I think you missed Scott’s tone of gentle irony in the post. But, yes, (not to put words in your mouth), I also feel embarrassed when gay rights and LGBTQ stuff seems to work as the vanguard of consumerism , persuading straight men that they are missing out on the hedonistic good times gay men enjoy and that they need to buy stuff to make up the difference. Not to mention the use of such agendas in foreign policy propaganda (Russia), to ridicule blue collar workers, de-legitimate the golden age of unions (bunch of uncool straight men), etc.

    • machine-spirit says:

      Well if it makes you feel better there are plenty of areas of the world where “pagans” are still going strong and will put quite a fight before allowing the followers of western messianic cults to conquer their lands unopposed.

      In case of China and Russia this “flyover” states also have inconvenient capability of turning the centres of the new Roman religion in the lake of nuclear fire if needed. So in worst case this religious experimentation will at least be a regional phenomenon, and if it turns out to be disaster, there are other factions of humanity can continue the human progress.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        In case of China and Russia this “flyover” states also have inconvenient capability of turning the centres of the new Roman religion in the lake of nuclear fire if needed. So in worst case this religious experimentation will at least be a regional phenomenon, and if it turns out to be disaster, there are other factions of humanity can continue the human progress.

        Indeed. As an American, I’ll be sad if America is destroyed because other powers feel there’s no other way to stop the LGBT Empire, but I won’t mourn the loss of Empire.
        Call me a Little American, by analogy with Little Englander.

      • zzzzort says:

        Not to belabor the analogy, but in this case China would be the Sassanids. One of the accommodations most civil religions make is to become less universalist and evangelical. The Romans never cared about converting the people living outside the empire, and the for the most part neither did the christians (though religion was used as an excuse for bringing areas under various secular powers, the priorities tended to political control of the levant/new world/west indies first, conversion second).

    • aristides says:

      I can tell Scott wasn’t gloating, since he barely favors social justice more than religion, but my reaction was one of uncomfortable fear that SF values will start trying to spread towards the south. It’s definitely scary seeing values oppositional to your own spreading. Fortunately, I’m Russian Orthodox, so we have experience being oppressed for decades and enduring. I still hope that with the Supreme Court and Federalism we can divide ourselves into Pride states and religious states, but if Pride wins, I can always spend the next 70 years worshiping in secret. No matter how bad Pride gets, it can’t possibly be worse than Stalin.

      • Urstoff says:

        What if I don’t want to live in a Pride state or a Religious state, but a liberal, cosmopolitan state?

        • Randy M says:

          I suspect you might need to keep your insufficient level of enthusiasm for Pride a secret as well.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Implying that Pride state is not a liberal, cosmopolitan state is highly enriched heresy…

        • aristides says:

          Maybe somewhere on the border will work out? I would say DC, which has plenty of people on both sides, but the problem is it’s very hard to stay neutral in the culture wars there. I hear Baltimore and Richmond are currently a decent mix of liberalism, Pride, and religion, but I’m not positive and there is no guarantee they will stay that way. Also, Florida in general is a place where few people care strongly one way of the other and has an interesting mixture of people and is firmly purple, so that might work as well.

        • I remember Scott had a post asking where New Atheism went. One answer is that, with stuff like this, the ‘bible thumpers’ ain’t looking so bad anymore:

          https://imgur.com/a/KKj97iD

        • soritical says:

          Is the only difference between a liberal, cosmopolitan state and a Pride state whether or not there are pride parades?

      • deciusbrutus says:

        The nation cannot stand half pride and half homophobic.

    • Darwin says:

      I think you misread, the word was ‘assimilate’ not ‘eliminate’.

      • Gobbobobble says:

        Resistance is futile

      • aristides says:

        Depending on your values, there is little distinction. Take Christianity at face value, what’s worse, you die a martyr, or your descendants assimilate into godless heathens and all go to hell? I personally doubt it’ll come to that, but I can understand the fear of assimilation

        • In Cell says:

          We’re not talking about atheism here. Assimilation of Christianity would mean all pastors would become woke pastors.

    • sidereal says:

      #asagayman

      I think you badly misread this, or or a disingenuous troll. This post wasn’t gloating at all – if anything it was every-so-slightly pushing back against those ingroup values, by appealing to grey tribe anti-religious/contrarian tendancies.

    • Null42 says:

      I see where you’re coming from, but I read it the opposite way–he’s criticizing Pride for turning into its own dogma and pointing out the power to hurt heretics it now has. (This article has been linked by Rod Dreher.)

      I think he’s actually on your side to some extent, or at least in favor of letting you do your thing.

      Quite frankly I think Scott is drifting right and, given twenty years, might turn into one of the leading conservative or center-right thinkers of our time, if he can sock away enough of a nest egg to survive the loss of his job.

  6. WashedOut says:

    The main finding I took from this is that American corporations have now completely figured out how to leverage identity politics to increase their band exposure.

    • markk116 says:

      This. The Gillette thing was just a harbinger of things to come.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Gillette: the best a man can get this month but the ruthless process of capitalism is always improving!

    • Urstoff says:

      Haven’t they always done that? Corporations appealing to patriotism, the military, etc. has been a major part of marketing for decades. Even the Marlboro man is an idealized identity type. Maybe there’s a distinction between appealing to an identity and explicitly appealing to the political goals of an identity group?

    • Rack says:

      I’m reminded of the Nike commercial released immediately after the US won the Women’s World Cup. Pretty crass commercialism. (Also the “I believe that we will win” chant is super-annoying and as an American I find kind of embarrassing in its cockiness.)

      • j1000000 says:

        That chant first took hold with fans of Naval Academy football games, then became more famous with its spread to fans of the US Men’s National Team — two teams known mostly for their mediocrity — so it never struck me as particularly cocky, just aspirational.

        But I agree completely that it’s annoying and dumb as a chant.

        • Rack says:

          I never knew that Naval Academy history of it – thanks.
          As regards the USMNT, I generally think of it as delusional rather than aspirational but I could stand to be a bit more optimistic in that regard.
          Overall, I still find it’s use has too strong an odor of “American Exceptionalism”.

          • TheGumper29 says:

            Liking this chant is a pretty quick way to identify yourself as someone who isn’t much of a sports fan. Any respectable fan base would turn this around and start blasting it at the USMNT or Naval Academy as soon as they were losing to rub salt in the wound.

          • POGtastic says:

            Fans of crappy teams always have a sense of humor, and one beloved joke is to pretend that you’re completely delusional and think that your team is very good. The disparity between the optimism of the fans and the team’s realistic prospects is always comedy gold.

            As with all ironic statements, I’m sure that a certain percentage of people take the statement at face value. There are probably idiots who think that the USMNT has a realistic chance, and there are definitely people who hear people cheering so intensely for a mediocre team and think “What on earth are they doing??” This is probably exacerbated by the latter seeing many examples of the former.

        • brianmsaxton says:

          I don’t necessarily disagree, but I got chills watching this.

      • Paul Zrimsek says:

        No worse in principle than the English fans’ World Cup song last year. I’m referring not so much to the “England’s going all the way” part as to their implied claim that they could out-drink Russians.

    • PersonOfInterest says:

      This is a bit overly dramatic. In reality, they’ll they’re just going where the eyeballs are. Pride festivals are massive gatherings that skew towards demographics with disposable income and generate huge amounts of positive media coverage. If your company isn’t painting a rainbow version of your logo, they’re not doing their job.

      When your event is flooded with corporate sponsorship, that’s just how capitalism let’s you know that you’ve won.

  7. name99 says:

    “Once Pride assimilates its own pagans (and kicks out its own Julian the Apostate), maybe it mellows out.”

    I think you omitted some of the steps along that path. Steps involving words like “heretic”, “Donatist”, “Nestorian”, “Arian”, “iconoclast”, …
    I don’t see why the same pathologies won’t happen, given that the incentive structures (you win by the most aggressive signaling) are the same.

    Will we live long enough to see it (so, within the next 30 yrs)? Yeah, I think so.

    • beoShaffer says:

      Luckily it hasn’t lead to (much) physical violence yet, but social justice already looks like this from the inside of its blogoshrere. Look at the whole TERF thing, or acediscourse for just the low hanging fruit.

    • 420BootyWizard says:

      It’s already happened. The parts of Social Justice that people here don’t like isn’t the core message of equality and love, but the aggressive signaling parts that “cancel” people based on insufficient purity. To keep the metaphor going, the problem isn’t christianity but the inquisition.

      At least that’s what I tell myself when I read comments comparing Social Justice to Stalin. The alternative is to write off a depresssing number of people as clueless.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        The parts of Social Justice that people here don’t like isn’t the core message of equality and love, but the aggressive signaling parts that “cancel” people based on insufficient purity.

        I agree with the general sentiment, but I would rephrase it like this:

        The parts of Social Justice that people here dont like is the core that “cancels” people based on insufficient purity, not the thin veneer of equality and love.

        • 420BootyWizard says:

          It sounds like you don’t actually agree with the general sentiment at all, then, since your “rephrasing” flips what I’m saying on its head.

          I’m sure from an outside perspective it seems like all Social Justice types are out to “cancel” you at the drop of a hat, but I’d gently encourage you to step away from the computer and actually get to know an LTBTQ or Social Justice-type person, in person, in a non-antagonist context, and you’ll find that (shocker) people are people, same as you.

          • Aapje says:

            @420BootyWizard

            I’d gently encourage you to step away from the computer and actually get to know an LTBTQ or Social Justice-type person, in person, in a non-antagonist context, and you’ll find that (shocker) people are people, same as you.

            People who commit genocide tend to be fairly regular people too. If you think that only mustache twirling villains commit serious violations of human rights, you don’t understand how humans work.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            @aapje

            I’m not sure how this line of reasoning benefits your, or really anyone’s point of view. People who commit genocide are regular people, therefore all regular people should be treated with suspicion as potential genocide-committers?

            What’s the base rate of people who commit genocide in the general population throughout history, and how being involved with social justice raise or lower that chance? Correlation doesn’t imply causation of course, but if you can’t even find a correlation that your theory is probably doomed to die a quiet and slightly shameful death. Are SJ-types even more likely to threaten genocide? In this comment section there are already anti-SJ types who talk with glee about “my boot on their throat”. Am I supposed to nod along with this in agreement out of fear of some imagined genocide? Some kind of “better get them before they get us” mentality? I mean, you and I are regular people too, right…?

            Is this genocide talk some kind of attempt to Godwins Law Lite this branch of the conversation?

          • jermo sapiens says:

            It sounds like you don’t actually agree with the general sentiment at all, then, since your “rephrasing” flips what I’m saying on its head.

            No, my disagreement is strictly about what motivates people to become SJWs and start policing other people’s opinions, jokes, vocabulary, etc…

            I know plenty of LGBT (ok fine, just a couple of Gs and Ls), and to lump them in with the SJW crowd is a massive slander on them.

            You seem to think that if an SJW professes to care about minorities and starts acting like a complete ass supposedly in order to protect minorities, we should take such people at their word. I disagree. When people start acting like SJWs, whatever excuse they use for their behavior is BS. I’m not saying these people dont actually care about minorities, but the reason for their behavior is that they want to engage in that behavior, and the professed reason is just a convenient excuse.

            To take your earlier analogy, if we lived in different times, the SJWs of today would be running the inquisition. There is a personality type which figures out what is the official “religion” and enforces it ruthlessly in order to gain social status. 500 years ago, these personality types burned heretics at the stake, today these same personality types police facebook and twitter to get heretics fired.

            Also, I resent the idea that the message of SJWs is “equality and love”. Sorry, but social justice is very new, and equality and love have been around for a while. The overwhelming majority of people support obviously very good things like “equality and love”. Also, other deep thoughts like “massive death and destruction are bad” or “the children are our future” are not groundbreaking, Im sorry to say. A 3 year old child gets it. SJWs didnt discover anything new, their insight is not deep, their only contribution is their despicable and destructive methods.

          • Aapje says:

            @420BootyWizard

            You are twisting my words and reading things in what I argued that I never wrote.

            Your argument was that SJ people are nice because if you talk to them one on one, they will typically be nice to you.

            My point was that being a nice person doesn’t make a person safe. In Rwanda, people were killed by neighbors that they had previously been friendly with. That’s how mobs work. Peer pressure overrides what people do individually.

            Nice people are susceptible to peer pressure. People who are immune to peer pressure are typically antisocial.

            I never said that SJ people will commit genocide, but merely made a rebuttal to your assertion that SJ people are safe by giving a clear example of why your assertion is wrong. If a ‘nice’ Rwandan guy is willing to cut off their neighbors head due to peer pressure from the group they want to belong to, then why wouldn’t these ‘nice’ SJ people come from me when their SJ group puts peer pressure on them to ‘cancel’ me?

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            No, my disagreement is strictly about what motivates people to become SJWs and start policing other people’s opinions, jokes, vocabulary, etc…

            I know plenty of LGBT (ok fine, just a couple of Gs and Ls), and to lump them in with the SJW crowd is a massive slander on them.

            You seem to think that if an SJW professes to care about minorities and starts acting like a complete ass supposedly in order to protect minorities, we should take such people at their word. I disagree. When people start acting like SJWs, whatever excuse they use for their behavior is BS. I’m not saying these people dont actually care about minorities, but the reason for their behavior is that they want to engage in that behavior, and the professed reason is just a convenient excuse.

            To take your earlier analogy, if we lived in different times, the SJWs of today would be running the inquisition. There is a personality type which figures out what is the official “religion” and enforces it ruthlessly in order to gain social status. 500 years ago, these personality types burned heretics at the stake, today these same personality types police facebook and twitter to get heretics fired.

            Fair, and I would agree but also add the following two points:
            1) This is not limited to SJ-affiliated people. Assholes (to use a shorthand) are present in every demographic pretty much any way you want to slice up the population.
            2) There are plenty of people who are SJ-affiliated who are not assholes. These people simply draw much less attention to themselves (for obvious reasons).

            So if your claim is “There are some bad actors in the SJW community”, I would agree. If you’re making a stronger claim like “SJW-ism causes assholery”, “assholery causes SJW-ism”, or even “assholery is disproportionately present among SJWs, relative to the general population”, them I’m going to have to ask for some evidence.

            Also, I resent the idea that the message of SJWs is “equality and love”. Sorry, but social justice is very new, and equality and love have been around for a while. The overwhelming majority of people support obviously very good things like “equality and love”. Also, other deep thoughts like “massive death and destruction are bad” or “the children are our future” are not groundbreaking, Im sorry to say. A 3 year old child gets it. SJWs didnt discover anything new, their insight is not deep

            Sure, the idea of equality and love are very old, but historically speaking who gets said equality and love has been very limited. Earlier attempts to promote universal equality and love (For example, Jesus’s preachings to give possessions to the poor and turn the other cheek to your enemies, cathars and other heretical sects giving equality to women, early proto-socialist movements) have either been cherry picked with the “equality and love” parts ignored (in the case of Jesus) or ruthlessly surpressed (cathars, etc). The contribution of SJ, if you’re paying attention to the pride parade floats, is that equality and love are for everyone and not just for some.

            their only contribution is their despicable and destructive methods.

            Two thoughts:
            1) After identifying that the core message is old, I’m baffled why you think that their methods are new. You think nobody has tried suppressing their ideological enemies before? That’s an even older idea than equality and love!
            2) As far as I can tell, their “despicable and destructive” methods are largely limited to twitter. To belabor the metaphor further, the actual inquisition did much worse than say something mean in <140 characters.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            Your argument was that SJ people are nice because if you talk to them one on one, they will typically be nice to you.

            My point was that being a nice person doesn’t make a person safe. In Rwanda, people were killed by neighbors that they had previously been friendly with. That’s how mobs work. Peer pressure overrides what people do individually.

            Nice people are susceptible to peer pressure. People who are immune to peer pressure are typically antisocial.

            I never said that SJ people will commit genocide, but merely made a rebuttal to your assertion that SJ people are safe by giving a clear example of why your assertion is wrong. If a ‘nice’ Rwandan guy is willing to cut off their neighbors head due to peer pressure from the group they want to belong to, then why wouldn’t these ‘nice’ SJ people come from me when their SJ group puts peer pressure on them to ‘cancel’ me?

            I’m just unclear on how this is supposed to be helpful. “SJWs are susceptible to peer pressure”, you mean like everybody else? How do you know that I’m safe to interact with? Or your own family for that matter? Stories of parents harming children are depressingly common. Do you live in fear of literally every person you meet who says hello to you, because you don’t know if they’re “safe” (whatever that means)?

            Do you feel like you’re uniquely, or even disproportionately, likely to be the target of SJW peer pressure to be “canceled”? You’ve mentioned elsewhere in the comments to this article that you identify as someone with “lesser social abilities” and an “aspie”. Are traditional conservatives with traditional values more likely to treat you better? Speaking from experience as someone who had very little in the way of social abilities growing up (And an immigrant to boot), I can tell you that I don’t think that’s the case.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            1) This is not limited to SJ-affiliated people. Assholes (to use a shorthand) are present in every demographic pretty much any way you want to slice up the population.
            2) There are plenty of people who are SJ-affiliated who are not assholes. These people simply draw much less attention to themselves (for obvious reasons).

            1) yes
            2) yes

            But there is also a reason why we’re talking about SJ here and not assholes in the libertarian community for example. There is something that makes SJ particularly fertile ground for assholes. I dont know whether it’s intrinsic to SJ itself, in my view it is in part, but mostly the reason is that SJ is today’s official religion.

            Specifically, SJ lends itself well to devolving into a holiness spiral. This, combined with the fact that SJ is the official religion, means that assholes will be drawn to SJ like moths to a flame.

            So if your claim is “There are some bad actors in the SJW community”, I would agree. If you’re making a stronger claim like “SJW-ism causes assholery”, “assholery causes SJW-ism”, or even “assholery is disproportionately present among SJWs, relative to the general population”, them I’m going to have to ask for some evidence.

            My claim is that assholes are disproportionately attracted to SJ because it provides them with the opportunities they seek. To quote Willie Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks, “That’s where the money is”.

            This is only slightly related to the professed goals of SJ, which as I mentioned above, do lend themselves to holiness spirals and lack any defense against them. But the real reason is official religion status.

            In my view, in Nazi Germany these people would have been attracted to Nazism, and in medieval Spain they would have cheered on the inquisition. I dont have evidence for this other than that this has been my observation. Im not stating it as a fact, Im stating it as my opinion. I could be wrong.

            The contribution of SJ, if you’re paying attention to the pride parade floats, is that equality and love are for everyone and not just for some.

            Except straight white males, christians, republicans, or anybody that has a slight disagreement with SJ. Do not equate Pride and SJ.

            1) After identifying that the core message is old, I’m baffled why you think that their methods are new. You think nobody has tried suppressing their ideological enemies before? That’s an even older idea than equality and love!
            2) As far as I can tell, their “despicable and destructive” methods are largely limited to twitter. To belabor the metaphor further, the actual inquisition did much worse than say something mean in <140 characters.

            1) yes you’re right, but they have adapted these methods to the modern world
            3) No, I strongly disagree.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            But there is also a reason why we’re talking about SJ here and not assholes in the libertarian community for example.

            In my mind, the reason is twofold:
            1) This the comment section on an article discussing SF pride, which is more strongly associated with SJ than the libertarian community. To discuss assholes in the libertarian community (Which we both agree exist) would be some kind of weird off-topic non-sequitur.
            2) People are willing to give their ingroup the benefit of the doubt in the way they are not willing to give their outgroup. Here at Slate Star Codex, Libertarianism is more popular than Social Justice, so Libertarians gets the benefit of the doubt where SJ does not.

            There is something that makes SJ particularly fertile ground for assholes. I dont know whether it’s intrinsic to SJ itself, in my view it is in part, but mostly the reason is that SJ is today’s official religion.

            Specifically, SJ lends itself well to devolving into a holiness spiral. This, combined with the fact that SJ is the official religion, means that assholes will be drawn to SJ like moths to a flame.

            SJ does not look like the official religion to me. Scott’s article goes some way toward establishing that SJ is like a religion (for a certain definition of religion), but it’s far from “official”. It’s not even codified! Hang out among leftists and they’ll tell you that “leftist infighting” is basically a meme, and opening a history book and reading about, say, the revolutions of 1848 will show that it’s not even a particularly fresh meme.

            Of course, from the outside if your only encounters with SJ are reading about the latest “cancellation”, then all of this is invisible to you.

            My claim is that assholes are disproportionately attracted to SJ because it provides them with the opportunities they seek. To quote Willie Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks, “That’s where the money is”.

            This is only slightly related to the professed goals of SJ, which as I mentioned above, do lend themselves to holiness spirals and lack any defense against them. But the real reason is official religion status.

            In my view, in Nazi Germany these people would have been attracted to Nazism, and in medieval Spain they would have cheered on the inquisition. I dont have evidence for this other than that this has been my observation. Im not stating it as a fact, Im stating it as my opinion. I could be wrong.

            Really? That’s where the money is? You think people who are power-seeking and want to impose their will on others and exercise power will, in the modern day, become SJWs? Not like, cops? Or politicians? Or hedge fund managers or anyone with any shred of real power? They wouldn’t join a street gang or one of those weird militia groups that hoards guns? You think being a bully on twitter is the ultimate expression of oppression that an oppression-minded person could strive for?

            Claims like this are what make me think that anti-SJWs need to get off the internet and engage with the world as it actually is.

            Except straight white males, christians, republicans, or anybody that has a slight disagreement with SJ. Do not equate Pride and SJ.

            I’m straight, male, have pale skin and am often considered white by others (The degree to which south-eastern europeans are “white” in the “stuffwhitepeoplelike.com” sense is debatable but that’s neither here nor there). I’m not a republican but my life experiences have led me to have certain disagreements with SJ (for example, my experience going through the legal immigration process has made me less sympathetic to illegal immigration than I otherwise would be (not that I think building a wall is a good idea or that what ICE is doing is acceptable). Another example: whenever I hear about islamophobia I have to resist the urge to roll my eyes, as would be expected from anyone who knows anything about the history of the Ottoman empire and indeed the modern state of Turkey. Im basically the only person I know who when playing the video game Skyrim can see a reason to join the stormcloaks or find their cause sympathetic, if that means anything to you).

            I have never been made even slightly uncomfortable at SF pride in all the years I’ve attended, nor have I ever had any fear of being “canceled” or targeted for online harassment by SJWs. Plenty of people I know who are straight, white, male, and often some combination of the above have also attended pride successfully. Hell, Scott is all three of those things and it seems like not only did he go to SF Pride, but he had a good time (“Everyone should do this once, regardless of their politics. SF Pride should be counted among the great festivals of the world, up there with Mardi Gras in New Orleans and Easter in Guatemala.” sounds like an endorsement of a good time to me!).

            Simply put, I don’t believe you. Your claim clashes very strongly with my lived experiences.

            1) yes you’re right, but they have adapted these methods to the modern world
            3) No, I strongly disagree.

            1) …Like every group living in the modern world? I don’t know what this is supposed to mean. That SJ isn’t sending mean tweets via telegraph?
            3) I obviously don’t support violence against conservative journalists, but picking out this case of assault and putting it alongside, for example, all the cases of anti-SJWs driving their trucks through SJ-adjecent protests, or all the cases of murders of trans folk, or all of the police shootings of unarmed black people, I can’t quite convince myself that SJWs are particularly cruel and vicious and prone to violence.

            I’m not saying any of those makes it okay. I’m just saying it’s weird to claim that this incident somehow proves that SJWs are particularly violence-prone compared to the population, especially when you compare them to people who identify as explicitly anti-SJW.

            I hope this doesn’t come across as backpedeling, but I never claimed that every SJW was a saint (“…largely limited to twitter”) . I’m saying that singling out SJW methods as uniquely “despicable and destructive” rings extremely hollow to me.

          • Aapje says:

            @420BootyWizard

            I’m just unclear on how this is supposed to be helpful. “SJWs are susceptible to peer pressure”, you mean like everybody else? How do you know that I’m safe to interact with?

            No one is truly safe to interact with, but that is not the point.

            People are far more capable when they act collectively. In fact, we became the dominant species on earth when we got good at coordinating. When a collective has a good ideology, they can achieve great things. When they don’t, they can kill millions.

            Both for those good and bad goals, very many people convince themselves that the goal is good because their peers believe that the goal is good.

            So when people advance an ideology and want to make it dominant, we should guess what they will do with collective power. Will it be make things better or (far) worse?

            The SJ ideology has a dominant narrative that is very much a race- and gender-based outgroup-blaming narrative. The claim is that there is a group that exploits other groups for their benefit, because of their culture and because they unfairly got into power.

            SJ literature and SJ behavior is rife with vilification techniques, like:
            – exaggerating the suffering of the ingroup
            – minimizing/denying the suffering of the outgroup
            – bad faith assumptions about the motives of the outgroup and good faith for the ingroup (including define harms done to the outgroup by the ingroup as a form of self-defense, while seeing harms done to the by the outgroup to the ingroup as evidence of oppression)
            – exaggerating the power of the outgroup
            – minimizing/denying the power of the ingroup

            So it’s my opinion that collective SJ action is going to seek to discriminate and otherwise harm their outgroup and rationalize that as being just (and this is actually already happening where SJ advocates do have power).

            You’ve mentioned elsewhere in the comments to this article that you identify as someone with “lesser social abilities” and an “aspie”.

            I never said that I’m an aspie.

            Also, lesser social abilities are partially a context-based trait. Title IX courts at colleges seem to disproportionately target black and foreign men, who have lesser social abilities in the white American upper (middle) class culture.

            Yet if you were to plant the people who benefit from this in the places where those men were raised, they’d be the ones who’d violate the cultural (including sexual) norms and reaping the consequences of this.

            Anyway, my point is that the hatred for white men doesn’t have to result in a harm to all men. It can focus itself on a subset of white men who make good victims, as mobs tend to like easy targets.

            Ironically, this is actually quite likely to hurt non-white men, as I’ve seen several times in the past, so SJ may actually create social injustice even according to their/your own crooked definition of justice.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            No one is truly safe to interact with, but that is not the point.

            It kind of is my point, though. Nobody is safe to interact with and yet we do so anyway, partially out of necessity but also because, especially in “The West”, the base rate for actual harm is pretty spectacularly low. Why is SJ any different?

            People are far more capable when they act collectively. In fact, we became the dominant species on earth when we got good at coordinating. When a collective has a good ideology, they can achieve great things. When they don’t, they can kill millions.

            Both for those good and bad goals, very many people convince themselves that the goal is good because their peers believe that the goal is good.

            So when people advance an ideology and want to make it dominant, we should guess what they will do with collective power. Will it be make things better or (far) worse?

            I feel like I’m just repeating myself over and over again, but all of this applies to literally every group across all of human history, in every time and in every place. This doesn’t seem to be an argument against SJ so much as it is an argument against groups, kind of like the idea those old Roman laws that prohibit groups of christians gathering in one place, but writ large because you never know who is secretly a Rwandan genocidist.

            The SJ ideology has a dominant narrative that is very much a race- and gender-based outgroup-blaming narrative. The claim is that there is a group that exploits other groups for their benefit, because of their culture and because they unfairly got into power.

            SJ literature and SJ behavior is rife with vilification techniques, like:
            – exaggerating the suffering of the ingroup
            – minimizing/denying the suffering of the outgroup
            – bad faith assumptions about the motives of the outgroup and good faith for the ingroup (including define harms done to the outgroup by the ingroup as a form of self-defense, while seeing harms done to the by the outgroup to the ingroup as evidence of oppression)
            – exaggerating the power of the outgroup
            – minimizing/denying the power of the ingroup

            From where I’m standing, this is an extremely ironic thing to say. However you define SJ’s ingroup, it’s indisputable that said ingroup is largely under-represented in areas of what I’m going to call “real world power”; Government, law enforcement, the military, wealth (with the partial exception of tech startup types, but even these are seen as “new money” and looked down on by more established centers of financial power, and tend to be the libertarian flavor of leftist far more the SJ variety). You’re accusing SJ thought of “minimizing/denying” their own power when it’s obvious to the naked eye that, for example, SJ-aligned senators are few and far between, that the military skews heavily conservative. You accuse SJ of “exaggerating the power of the outgroup” while also fearing that somehow SJ ideology is going to imminently become dominant and while you don’t come out and say it, you keep bringing up things like genocide and Rwanda and “killing millions”. This isn’t a case of the pot calling the kettle black, this is the pot doing a full Chris Rock standup routine.

            So it’s my opinion that collective SJ action is going to seek to discriminate and otherwise harm their outgroup and rationalize that as being just (and this is actually already happening where SJ advocates do have power).

            Where is this, exactly?

            I never said that I’m an aspie.

            My mistake. I misinterpreted a statement you made (Something to the effect of “people like me”).

            Also, lesser social abilities are partially a context-based trait. Title IX courts at colleges seem to disproportionately target black and foreign men, who have lesser social abilities in the white American upper (middle) class culture.

            Yet if you were to plant the people who benefit from this in the places where those men were raised, they’d be the ones who’d violate the cultural (including sexual) norms and reaping the consequences of this.

            Anyway, my point is that the hatred for white men doesn’t have to result in a harm to all men. It can focus itself on a subset of white men who make good victims, as mobs tend to like easy targets.

            Ironically, this is actually quite likely to hurt non-white men, as I’ve seen several times in the past, so SJ may actually create social injustice even according to their/your own crooked definition of justice.

            I don’t understand what you mean here. I’ve reread this several times over and I honestly have no idea what you’re saying.

            You seem to be conflating social abilities with social status? And also there’s some vague implications that black men and foreigners are more likely to violate sexual norms? As a foreigner myself I’m not sure what to think of this. Please clarify.

          • Aapje says:

            Where is this, exactly?

            Just to give one example, in my country a technical university has decided to stop hiring men, based on Social Justice claims that women are not hired as much and do not apply as often due to bias by the existing staff, a lack of role models, a hostile environment, etc.

            Ironically, none of these claims are actually supported with solid scientific evidence. On this blog, Scott has done an analysis of some of the best evidence for why few women choose tech and the evidence doesn’t fit the SJ narrative very well at all.

            You seem to be conflating social abilities with social status? And also there’s some vague implications that black men and foreigners are more likely to violate sexual norms?

            My claim is that there are different (sub)cultures with different norms and that when men and women interact who have different norms, you often get a clash, where people unwittingly violate the unspoken norms of the other culture.

            In the modern West, we tend to blame/punish the man when these clashes happen in a sexual context.

            In 2014, there was a video that allegedly showed a woman getting catcalled and harassed in NYC while merely walking around. People quickly noticed that the men were nearly all black, which created a furor.

            My observation was that the behaviors by many of these men, like saying hello, giving a compliment or trying to initiate a conversation is not obviously abusive. In white upper middle class culture, this is typically considered acceptable behavior in a place where approaching women is allowed, like in a bar or at a party.

            It seems plausible to me that black Americans simply have a different sexual norm for when overtures are acceptable, where this is allowed on the streets. Perhaps this is even an adaptation to poverty and/or Jim Crow laws, where black people used to and perhaps still socialize more in the streets, rather than in bars and at parties.

            In my country, youths of Moroccan descent are known for hanging out on the streets and for catcalling women, sometimes quite rudely. A law has been passed, advocated for by SJ activists, to make some forms of catcalling a crime, which I fully expect to have a large disparate impact. I also expect that SJ advocates will blame this outcome on racist policing.

            Of course, in SJ circles it is considered racist to argue this, even though the evidence is far stronger in favor of this than that it supports the SJ narrative. Also, it is typically considered quite acceptable to argue that men are encultured to violate sexual norms, which is a far more aggressive claim that what I argue.

            These kind of double standards based on the race and gender of the people involved is why I consider SJ to be rather discriminatory.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I feel like I’m just repeating myself over and over again, but all of this applies to literally every group across all of human history, in every time and in every place. This doesn’t seem to be an argument against SJ so much as it is an argument against groups, kind of like the idea those old Roman laws that prohibit groups of christians gathering in one place, but writ large because you never know who is secretly a Rwandan genocidist.

            You’re being too black-and-white here. Yes, all groups can do bad things in the right (wrong) circumstances, but that doesn’t mean that some groups aren’t more prone to doing bad things than others. With Social Justice, you have various beliefs — that some categories of people are inherently privileged, that it’s impossible for people from less privileged categories to oppress people from more privileged categories, that it’s wrong to subject some claims (e.g., a woman claiming to have been raped or assaulted, a minority person claiming to have been discriminated against) to critical scrutiny, that denying certain types of accusation (e.g., that you raped or discriminated against somebody) is proof that you’re a bad person, etc. — which make its adherents very prone to discriminate against others when they get the opportunity.

      • Aapje says:

        @420BootyWizard

        The parts of Social Justice that people here don’t like isn’t the core message of equality and love,

        I don’t think that the core message is equality and love at all. My experience with the people and the texts (including academic works and popular texts that SJ advocates offer up as the best of their movement when queried) is that they overwhelmingly favor a scapegoating narrative, where a villain group gets enormous bad faith and favored groups get excessive good faith.

        If equality and love was the core message, the worst thing that you could do in SJ circles is be hateful and discriminatory. In reality, the worst thing you can do is deny the scapegoating narrative. Sarah Jeong got hired at the NYT despite years of racist tweets, that got excused because she hated the ‘right’ group. In contrast, Damore words got twisted in nearly all liberal media after challenging the scapegoating narrative, to undermine this challenge to the narrative, by trying to destroy him as a person.

        SJ really likes to redefine concepts to such an extent that words become a mockery of their original meaning. From the actions and statements of SJ advocates, it is quite clear that by ‘equality,’ they tend to mean that:
        – the same actions by people of different race, gender, etc are judged differently
        – the same problems of different groups should result in attempts to help some groups, but not others
        – facts that show substantial equality in injustices against ‘oppressed’ and ‘oppressor’ groups should be suppressed

        • 420BootyWizard says:

          I don’t think that the core message is equality and love at all. My experience with the people and the texts (including academic works and popular texts that SJ advocates offer up as the best of their movement when queried) is that they overwhelmingly favor a scapegoating narrative, where a villain group gets enormous bad faith and favored groups get excessive good faith.

          So far, so literally-every-group-of-people-on-the-planet-throughout-history.

          If equality and love was the core message, the worst thing that you could do in SJ circles is be hateful and discriminatory. In reality, the worst thing you can do is deny the scapegoating narrative. Sarah Jeong got hired at the NYT despite years of racist tweets, that got excused because she hated the ‘right’ group. In contrast, Damore words got twisted in nearly all liberal media after challenging the scapegoating narrative, to undermine this challenge to the narrative, by trying to destroy him as a person.

          I can’t speak to any of this because I have no idea who Sarah Jeong and Damore are. I have, however, noticed that a lot of anti-SJ (And also SJ) grievances center around who tweeted what, and this strikes me as so beyond petty that I have a hard time caring. Here’s a cure for all your woes that I’ve successfully employed for the past 10+ years: Get off of twitter. The less time you spend being Extremely Online and the more time you spend actually communicating with actual people in >140 characters at a time, the less likely you are to feel like the world is crashing down around you and it’s all the hated out-group’s fault. Just my 2 cents.

          SJ really likes to redefine concepts to such an extent that words become a mockery of their original meaning. From the actions and statements of SJ advocates, it is quite clear that by ‘equality,’ they tend to mean that:
          – the same actions by people of different race, gender, etc are judged differently
          – the same problems of different groups should result in attempts to help some groups, but not others
          – facts that show substantial equality in injustices against ‘oppressed’ and ‘oppressor’ groups should be suppressed

          Are you talking about context? Because yeah, context is a thing.

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            As someone-or-other famously observed, there are fine people on both sides. I’m sure I’d get along great with most of the people 420BW mentions. I still can’t quite shake the suspicion that an awful lot of them would reciprocate only for as long as it took them to find out what my politics are.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Paul Zrimsek

            We’ve got someone calling themselves “420BootyWizard” and confidently talking about this stuff while having “no idea who Sarah Jeong and Damore are”. If the latter is false they’re probably playing the “SJWs are no different than anyone else” game as a way of trolling. If it’s true, they’re too ignorant to have an informed opinion.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            We’ve got someone calling themselves “420BootyWizard” and confidently talking about this stuff while having “no idea who Sarah Jeong and Damore are”. If the latter is false they’re probably playing the “SJWs are no different than anyone else” game as a way of trolling. If it’s true, they’re too ignorant to have an informed opinion.

            I don’t have any way to convince you that I’m telling the truth, so you’ll just have to take my word on it (Or not. If we’re being totally honest I don’t really care because your opinion doesn’t affect my life in any meaningful way).

            Searching for “Sarah Jeong” on google shows that she’s some kind of “tech journalist” specializing in online harassment. This is not the kind of tech journalist I follow, I tend to be more interested in, for example, computer hardware. In fact I find that wherever this particular kind of “tech journalist” goes, nothing follows but drama with plenty of rending shirts and gnashing of teeth. I specifically avoid following people like this on purpose, as a lifestyle choice, for my own happiness. I’m not on twitter and quit facebook years ago, and it’s led to me being a much happier person. My ignorance of Sarah Jeong before this point isn’t on accident but by design.

            It’s unclear to me why keeping up with these drama-factories is important to having an informed opinion. None of it is real, and I find that being disengaged from this sort of thing has been a boon in my life. I suggest you try it.

            Googling “Damore” reveals several local business with “d’amore” in their names, and also some stories about a google engineer who is suing google for being fired after sending some stupid shit in a memo. This story actually did cross my anti-twitter bubble somehow but the name “Damore” did not.

            Laying my biases bare: My wife works as an engineer at a large tech company in SF, and she occasionally works from home as tech workers sometimes do, and when she does, she is often teleconferencing into meetings which tech companies frequently hold. I can’t count the number of times (Not hyperbole. I used to keep count and I’ve lost track well above 20) that I’ve overheard someone in the meeting making some shitty comment about how “we shouldn’t lower standards” when it comes to the subject of ie hiring more women so there aren’t literally two on a team of 20 engineers, as if high exacting standards are what are keeping women out of tech! These people are sometimes chided, sometimes not, but very often no real consequences befall them. And keep in mind that these are just the meetings that I’m in a position to overhear!

            My take, from this semi-insider perspective (for whatever that’s worth), is that this Damore was probably warned several times not to (in effect) put his fellow female coworkers down with his nonsense and probably continued to do it anyway. My understand of how employment typically works is that firing is a natural escalation to such matters when your employer tells you to not do something and you do it anyway. I don’t feel much sympathy for him, but I would gently suggest that if he doesn’t want his livelihood tied to the whims of the monied class that he support the overthrow of capitalism and not try to litigate his way to what he wants (Which as far as I can tell is to put down his co-workers in company memos).

            Satisfied? I don’t know why that was necessary, nor do I feel more informed for knowing who Sarah Jeong is.

            (By the way, the original source of the name “420BootyWizard” in case you were curious)

          • Paul Zrimsek says:

            I’ve overheard someone in the meeting making some shitty comment about how “we shouldn’t lower standards” when it comes to the subject of ie hiring more women so there aren’t literally two on a team of 20 engineers, as if high exacting standards are what are keeping women out of tech!

            That conjectural “as if” made me prick up my ears a bit. The wife presumably has gotten to know at least a few of these shitty comment makers for the fine, decent people they no doubt are; has she ever gotten curious and asked one of them whether what they said was meant to have the meaning you’ve placed on it, or whether perhaps they meant something different which could be judged a little more charitably?

            Based on what we know about Damore’s firing, the whims of the monied class seem to have had bugger-all to do with it (for the little that it matters, since the monied class are no doubt as nice as anyone else when you get to know them as individuals). If I’m wrong about that, their likeliest response, if Damore were to start supporting the overthrow of capitalism, would surely be to tell him to stop doing that, and fire him if he doesn’t. We’re all cool with that, yes?

            P.S. I don’t really know who Sarah Jeong is either, though I recall having heard the name before.

          • markl says:

            The horrible undercurrent of some of the comments in this thread has brought out a lot of lurkers. Me included. For the record as far as my discussion in the .5 open thread goes there is significant evidence that gay descrimination in firing is more significant than conservative fireing in the last decade.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            That conjectural “as if” made me prick up my ears a bit. The wife presumably has gotten to know at least a few of these shitty comment makers for the fine, decent people they no doubt are; has she ever gotten curious and asked one of them whether what they said was meant to have the meaning you’ve placed on it, or whether perhaps they meant something different which could be judged a little more charitably?

            I don’t know. I don’t claim to speak for my wife, I was simply laying my biases bare in the spirit of openness, and giving this anecdote as an example. I personally haven’t gotten to know said shitty-comment-makers in part because I don’t interact with them directly, and even if I sought them out it would be revealing that I’m overhearing meetings which I suspect I’m not supposed to be doing.

            When I personally try, I struggle to find the charitable interpretation though. If the conversation was about hiring more black people and the shitty comment was something to the effect of “Yes but what will we do about the increase of theft and other crime at the office? Hiring extra security will be expensive” or somesuch, I feel like there’s only so many ways to interpret that. I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt and the spirit of charitable interpretation, but I’m not naive enough to think that every racist or sexist (or even a sizable minority of them) will say “Yes! I believe minorities and women are inferior!” if asked directly, especially directly to the faces of the people they’re putting down. I guess there’s one positive thing to be said for Damore; he didn’t try to weasel around his shitty opinions, but that doesn’t make them any less shitty.

            Based on what we know about Damore’s firing, the whims of the monied class seem to have had bugger-all to do with it (for the little that it matters, since the monied class are no doubt as nice as anyone else when you get to know them as individuals). If I’m wrong about that, their likeliest response, if Damore were to start supporting the overthrow of capitalism, would surely be to tell him to stop doing that, and fire him if he doesn’t. We’re all cool with that, yes?

            That’d probably be the predictable outcome, yeah. Not that I see a way around it, nobody has ever changed a power structure by playing into its interests. But that’s another topic.

            P.S. I don’t really know who Sarah Jeong is either, though I recall having heard the name before.

            Apparently according to some, you’re too ignorant to have an informed opinion then.

          • Aapje says:

            @420BootyWizard

            Getting off twitter is no solution, because SJ advocates are doing their best to achieve hiring discrimination & salary discrimination. They write hateful racial and gender stereotypes and accusations in my newspapers, the websites I visit, the media I consume, etc, etc.

            Sarah Jeong made hateful anti-white statements for years. The NYT hired her despite knowing about these tweets, accepting her claim that these were blowing off steam in response to online racism she encountered. So apparently it is acceptable to attack an entire race and gender when a few individuals harass you. The good news is that a person with years of anti-black tweets can also get a job at the NYT if he or she claims that it is in response to anti-white harassment, right? Just kidding, of course it doesn’t work that way.

            This is how authorities can stack the deck against the outgroup: they apply maximum good faith and forgiveness to those who attack the outgroup, but do the opposite for even respectful criticisms of the ingroup.

            My take, from this semi-insider perspective (for whatever that’s worth), is that this Damore was probably warned several times not to (in effect) put his fellow female coworkers down with his nonsense and probably continued to do it anyway.

            There we have the bad faith for the outgroup which leads you to argue that he deserved what he got, based on speculation of what happened (where that speculation just happens to assume something bad for the anti-SJ person).

            What actually happened was that Damore’s paper was leaked to the media, who lied about its contents, portraying Damore as claiming that women are all incompetent programmers, which he never claimed.

            Then Google employees who never interacted with Damore before, including high-level executives, who based their opinion on the slander in the media, demanded that Damore be fired. Which he was.

            Damore claims that he got zero negative feedback on his last evaluation before he sent out the paper and had no complaints against him by his coworkers. It would strongly be in Google’s interest to rebut this if it was false, but they never did, suggesting that Damore was not lying.

          • markl says:

            It’s pretty standard practice for organizations to not comment on ongoing legal proceedings.

            When people haven’t heard the details of the Google fireing and say he was probably just a bad proformer it’s pretty bad. Of course this is a fine thing to say when gay people are fired.

            https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/07/07/open-thread-131-5/#comment-773748

          • Nornagest says:

            It is generally considered bad form to carry drama across threads, markl.

          • Aapje says:

            @420BootyWizard

            When I personally try, I struggle to find the charitable interpretation though.

            This is not surprising, since it has become pretty clear to me that you are deep into the SJ ideology, which typically results in certain biases.

            If the conversation was about hiring more black people and the shitty comment was something to the effect of “Yes but what will we do about the increase of theft and other crime at the office?

            The mistake you make here is actually pretty much the same as what resulted in the misreading and vilification of Damore.

            Imagine that men and women have different preferences. People also have different levels of skills, although the average skills levels of women and men are the same. You have M1-M5 and W1-W5, where M=Man and W=Woman & the number indicates the skill level. In this example, the skill level is the same for each type of job.

            Imagine for the simplified example that you only have two jobs: teaching and programming. Each have 3 job spots. In this exaggerated example, all women prefer teaching and all men prefer programming, so all men apply first for a programmer job and the women for a teaching job. The employers pick the best choices, so M3, M4 and M5 get hired as programmers and W3, W4 and W5 as teachers.

            If the IT company wants to have more gender-diverse employees, they can get rid of M3 (or not hire him in the first place) and hire one of the jobless women. However, the best jobless woman is W2, which means that hiring her will result in hiring a lower quality employee than if they kept (or hired) the best man. They end up with W2, M4, M5.

            The only way to get more gender-diverse employees without hiring worse employees is if the school does the same thing, getting rid (or never hiring) W3, and picking the best man. Then the school will have M3, W4, W5 and the IT company will have W3, M4, M5.

            A problem with Social Justice is that it is way, way more bullish on hiring more women in male-dominated professions than vice versa, so the movement is creating this issue because of its bias.

            Your assumption that the remarks by these people were because of a belief that women are inferior employees to men, is actually a good example of why I think that Social Justice is dangerous. There is a very strong bias in Social Justice to jump to the conclusion that people are being sexist, racist, etc; so criticisms are often not understood and no attempt is even made to actually understand them, in the context of the beliefs of the critic.

          • markl says:

            @Nornagest I find the lack of statistics + hypocrisy worse. but point taken I’ll try to keep things in the thread.

            @Aapje
            Every SJ person I have met in real life has not done any of those things. The internet is selecting the worst of them for you to see. If anything people would be happy to add politics as a protected class.

            About these comments about women. My old coworker once said comparable stuff about conservatives, a lot of us considered equally tone deaf. Was it worse then the comment about women? should we have fired him?

          • Plumber says:

            @420BootyWizard

            “….I have no idea who Sarah Jeong and Damore are….”

            Well count me as someone who also didn’t recognize Sarah Jeong’s and Damore’s names when I first saw them in a SSC comment, fortunately there was enough context soon provided to remind me roughly who Jeong is (I’d actually read some of her columns!) and of the controversy, which enough has been told in this thread for you to get the gist.

            Unfortunately, while when reminded of some details I remembered that Damore’s memo controversy was pretty prominent a few years ago and that I had an opinion about it, I made the mistake of asking “Who’s that?” and was accused of “trolling” as well because some here couldn’t believe that I “could possibly not know”, which got me really steamed, but there was a benefit in that I actually paid a bit more attention and read a bit more of the tale (which I just didn’t pay much attention to when the story was more current) and revised my opinion of James Damore from “idiot and or jerk” to “that poor sap”.

            Basically, Damore worked at Google and was among those asked for suggestions of reasons why more women aren’t computer programmers, and he shared a memo that less girls are interested in it than boys, and besides more of those who are really good at it are men (on this there may be some basis in that as more men than women seem to diverge from the average in a bunch of ways, i.e. you’ll see more men among both CEO’s and the homeless), and predictably he got fired.

            Some details of Damore that escaped my notice when the story was fresh was that he was really young, was a foreigner (grew up in the Midwest instead of the San Francisco bay area, and likely has Aspergers syndrome which (please folks go ahead and correct me if I get this wrong) often means that one assumes that people are speaking the literal truth and can’t spot obvious lies.

            That means he didn’t go to bay area public schools in the ’70’s and get taught not to be “sexist” and what that’s supposed to mean, and didn’t understand that when your employer says “We invite suggestions” that doing so is the last thing you do if you want to stay working, my guess is that he was new and a loner so no one whispered him the real deal.

            A bunch of commenters here work in “Tech” and have beef’s with lies (even when they’re obvious) so they’re still steamed about what happened to the guy, and don’t get that the story wasn’t as memorable to others (me) as it was to them.

            Don’t take it personally.

  8. siduri says:

    I haven’t dropped by here for a while but I wanted to say, this is a damn good post, Scott. If your hypothesis about an accelerated lifecycle for punk religions in modern times is correct, about when should we be seeing a really coordinated “next wave” surging against the calcified Pride orthodoxy?

    • Michael Watts says:

      We already see that now. (Well, barring the coordination.) The Pride orthodoxy is recognized as a menace by various groups it variously oppresses. Those groups are by and large not found in San Francisco for obvious reasons, but remember Brendan Eich? That was 5 years ago.

      I agree with the thrust of the post that Pride is a community identifier, and that the large majority of participants in the San Francisco Pride Parade are participating for no other reason than community identification, but I don’t see where it’s “uniting whatever one Guatemalan political party is and whatever the other Guatemalan political party is”. Pride is one of the major American political parties, and it’s bitterly opposed to the other one.

      • musicmage4114 says:

        What exactly is the “Pride orthodoxy,” who exactly is it oppressing, and how?

      • tossrock says:

        Those groups are by and large not found in San Francisco for obvious reasons

        This view is limited by its position – some people protested in front of the SF Pride march for being insufficiently woke. I would say that the general view among Real San Franciscans™ is that the main Pride parade is a boring, corporate event for tourists and straight kids looking for an excuse to party.

    • HomarusSimpson says:

      As Michael says you’ve got ~50% of the population who are varying degrees of conservative who provide potential opposition, but you’ve also got the fracturing within identity politics, as is always the way of anything that prioritises purity above all else. It all gets a bit Highlander – there can only be one.

  9. Frederic Mari says:

    TBH, this is the kind of thing that makes me deeply uncomfortable – I guess I never got a choice about being an atomised, individualistic person, who only accepts communities as communities of (self) interest but Amazon and the cops trying to co-opt Gay Pride and everybody enthusiastically nodding along is… intellectually annoying even if I accept that it’s better than a civil war.

    • OriginalSeeing says:

      The more interesting part is the level of acceptance that the companies are receiving from the populace.

  10. Michael Watts says:

    the important part of religion isn’t the part with gods, prophets, or an afterlife – Buddhism lacks gods

    Buddhism certainly does not lack gods. It’s chock full of them.

    As a gaggle of teenage girls waved their Blue-Shield-advertisement-paddles to cheer on the police, I thought to myself “Yes, this is exactly what the Stonewall rioters were going for”.

    I loved this caption. 😀

    • onyomi says:

      Theravada Buddhism arguably has 0 gods given that Gautama Buddha isn’t technically viewed as a god and the panoply of characters from e.g. the Ramayana worshiped in e.g. Thailand come from a more Hindu tradition. Of course, they seem to treat Gautama Buddha much as one would Jesus in a Christian country, i.e. if not literally as a god then as a very holy and special object of veneration.

      Mahayana Buddhism like practiced in China and Japan, of course, has many basically divine beings and creatures. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, etc.

      I think Nezha is generally considered more Daoist, though supposedly may have some Hindu roots.

      • Michael Watts says:

        the panoply of characters from e.g. the Ramayana worshiped in e.g. Thailand come from a more Hindu tradition.

        I think Nezha is generally considered more Daoist, though supposedly may have some Hindu roots.

        In part, this is an argument that whether “Buddhism” has gods depends more strongly on what someone wrote down a couple thousand years ago than on what many millions of organized “Buddhists” would tell you today.

        As to Nezha in particular, the view of the modern Chinese is that he is specifically a Buddhist deity, not being known in China before Buddhism came. This may or may not match historical events, but it is what is believed today.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Theravada Buddhism arguably has 0 gods given that Gautama Buddha isn’t technically viewed as a god and the panoply of characters from e.g. the Ramayana worshiped in e.g. Thailand come from a more Hindu tradition. Of course, they seem to treat Gautama Buddha much as one would Jesus in a Christian country, i.e. if not literally as a god then as a very holy and special object of veneration.

        Hindu gods appear in the Pali Canon, the original scriptures accepted by Theravada. Gautama Buddha is called the Teacher of Gods and Men, the Superman with all the prophesied marks, etc.
        On top of that, Thailand, Cambodia, etc. were converted to Hinduism before Buddhism, and yeah, that’s why the Ramayana is revered in Thailand, why Angkor Wat was built as a Hindu temple before being converted into a Wat, etc.

    • zzzzort says:

      And though everyone thinks of Hinduism as having many gods (which it certainly does), of the six traditional schools of Hindu philosophy, 5 are non-theistic or atheistic.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Could you unpack this?

        Advaita Vedanta (“non-duality is the purpose of the Vedas”) has a more sophisticated reputation that Dvaita, so if you count pantheism as non-theistic, that’s very arguably 1 out of 6.
        Samkhya is a dualistic rationalism that denies the teleology of Ishvara (“Lord, personal God”), so that’s definitely 1 out of 6.
        Yoga uses a closely-related epistemology to conclude that Ishvara exists and the teleology of life is uniting your mind to Him/That. Strangely to Western ears, this is the closest Hindu philosophy comes to Cartesianism.
        The weight of circumstantial evidence suggests that Nyaya (Sanskrit logic) is non-theistic. 2 out of 6.
        Vaisheshika claimed that everything, including the Devas, is made up of five different invisibly small particles, and the only valid sources of knowing are direct perception and inference: think Greek atomism. 3 out of 6.
        Mimamsa held that one’s own soul (Atman) is an eternal, omnipresent, inherently active spiritual essence, and thinking it is different from other souls is a cognitive error: your individual consciousness (ego) is the primal Mistake in Mistake Theory. So pantheism again.
        So philosophers accepting the authority of the Vedas (polytheistic hymns, to a surface reading) led to non-theism 3 out of 6 times, pantheism ~1.5/6 times, and belief in a personal capital-G God ~1.5/6 times. You disagree?

        • John Richards says:

          Pantheism is just atheism for fuzzy-headed people.

          • Nornagest says:

            “And when everything is God… nothing will be.”

          • AG says:

            @Nornagest

            I’d buy that JRPG
            (or is that gonna be the where the new Symphogear season ends up?)

          • John Schilling says:

            I disagree.

            “There exists a sentient being with the power to override the laws of physics; He wants everyone to love him and each other”,

            “All quantum wave functions have a weak tendency to collapse in the manner which maximizes Love”, and

            “It’s all just clockwork”,

            are I think three distinct assertions of fact.

          • zzzzort says:

            Monotheism is just atheism that lacks the full courage of its convictions.

        • zzzzort says:

          I was counting Vedanta as the theistic one, and is the only one more or less consistent with a pop understanding of hinduism.

          I disagree on Mimamsa: from wikipedia “The school of Mīmāṃsā consists of both atheistic and theistic doctrines, but the school showed little interest in systematic examination of the existence of Gods.” You could arguably say animist or a belief in souls and the supernatural, but I would distinguish that from theism.

          Yoga is more debatable, as some people will say Isvara is a god, full stop. Others will say it’s more a personal force. Again from wiki ‘These commentaries range from defining Isvara as a “personal god” to a “special self” to “anything that has spiritual significance to the individual”‘.

          So I would say 4.5/6 (and 5/6 in that it’s not contradictory to describe yourself as an atheist yogi in the same way that it is to be atheist christian).

  11. eric23 says:

    The problem was, nobody really believed religio Romana anymore.

    Do we actually know this?

    • Watchman says:

      In that the majority of the population were switching to exclusive monotheisms (Christianity, Mithrasism, the late cult of Isis et al) and those that weren’t had no civic religion after Eugenius in 394 and realistically nothing continuous enough to function as a social religion since sometime in the Constantinian dynasty, since the emperor was a key figure in Roman religion as pontifex maximus ‘high priest’. Neither Julian nor Eugenius’ restoration of Roman civic religion lasted two full years, and they were each a generation apart. You don’t build a society on two festivals every thirty years… Where paganism continued it would have focussed on the local cults and shrines which would continue to exist.

      Or in short: we aren’t told that no-one believed in the Roman religion any more, because no-one was interested enough to note this down. We can reconstruct why they weren’t though.

      • He’s referring to the period when Augustus ruled, 300 hundred years before Constantine.

        • Watchman says:

          In which case that’s even easier. Augustus was able to officially replace the existing Roman social system with one with him at the top. He had no real opposition (partially because he was reflecting reality in so doing), and as the Roman religion was their social structure, by the time of Augustus no-one cared enough to protect it.

    • Robert Jones says:

      From memory, Augustine spends some time pointing out the obvious moral failings of the Roman gods, then anticipates the objection “but no-one really believes those stories”. I suspect that the serious intellectual pagans who hung out with Augustine viewed the mythological accounts of the gods as figurative of some more Platonic notion of the divine, but whether this counts as believing the religio Romana or not I would not presume to say.

      • eric23 says:

        You are talking about a very thin intellectual crust, which likely had very different views from the masses at the time… Of course, maybe Scott is talking about the same crust and not the masses.

    • m.alex.matt says:

      We don’t, and it’s pretty much wrong.

      Pagans who believed that the old rites were deeply important to satisfy the Gods and keep them on the side of the Roman state spent the last half of the 4th century and a good portion of the 5th coming with theological justifications for why the rites they practiced in private and with secrecy were a sufficient replacement for the old, public, civic rites that were once used for the same purpose. Some of the appeals they made to the Christian authorities to be left alone essentially consisted of this: Please leave us alone to our sacrifices in peace because, if you don’t, Rome will lose the favor of the Gods.

      Justinian himself, in the 6th century, had to repeatedly play whack-a-pagan with his high officials as he discovered his bureaucracy and court were riven through with secret pagans who hadn’t given up their old faith. He caught same people several times over the years of his reign. He had to settle for ejecting the pagan philosophers of the Academy in Athens from the Empire (For a time…they were eventually let back in) because, despite the increasing social disincentives to doing so, they continued to refuse conversion.

      And this is just the elites. Roman Europe probably was not majority Christian until the 6th century — or even later, depending on how you want to measure things. The deep belief these people had in the super natural can be seen in just how Christian monks went about converting them: They didn’t have deep philosophical arguments about the superiority of the Abrahamic God, or emotional appeals about his love and forgiveness, they performed magic. They walked through fires and shouted religious chants as they used clubs to smash pagan idols, proving the gods that had inhabited them were really just weak demons who groveled and fled in the face of the True God. People, from the elite classes on down to the poorest of the poor, believed whole-heartedly in magic. A genuine belief in the Gods was part of this magical worldview.

      You can find skeptics (both skeptics and Skeptics) all over the place, but Iamblichus didn’t single-handedly invent philosophy because he was a bored atheist.

      • m.alex.matt says:

        You can find skeptics (both skeptics and Skeptics) all over the place, but Iamblichus didn’t single-handedly invent philosophy because he was a bored atheist.

        This should be ‘theology’, not ‘philosophy’, and I waited too long to notice.

  12. nfeltman says:

    But the show was stolen by Amazon (temporarily rebranded “Glamazon”), who were going for a Santa Claus type image as a source of limitless cornucopian gifts.

    Just FYI, “Glamazon” is specifically the LGBT association within Amazon, not a temporary rebrand of Amazon as a whole. Source: am a member.

    Using my extensive knowledge of gay acronyms, I surmise that at one point that it stood for Gays and Lesbians at Amazon—back before omitting the “BT” was a capital offense—but now it just gets by on the “glam” portmanteau.

    • HomarusSimpson says:

      Lgbtamazon doesn’t really trip off the tongue

    • 420BootyWizard says:

      I’d like to point out that, in spite of all the hubub being made out of how Social Justice has captured this and that, it’s not actually a capital offense. At the worst it’ll get you tweeted at, which is actually far less of a punishment than death.

      I know that you know already, but with commenters further doing making long-winded screeds about how oppressed the straight white man is, it’s important to take a step back and see the situation for what it is.

  13. Involuntary Marxist says:

    As a Marxist, I can’t help but miss more emphasis on the class perspective on religion.

    Did religions really organically evolve from local communal rites, as you are portraying it here? As far as I am aware, the major religions still alive today (mostly Christianity and Islam) have been spread violently with fire and sword. To me, religion seems much more like an overt instrument of social control than a naturally evolved system of local traditions.

    Sure, one can argue that religion is ‘binding society together’ by glossing over social conflicts. But is this really a good thing – and if so, for whom? Should the American revolution have been prevented by the King of England spreading more religious glue over the colonies, in order for them to irrationally forget their conflicts of interest? Should the American civil war and the emancipation of the slaves have been prevented by appeals to religious solidarity?

    Don’t a lot of social and cultural improvements historically result from social struggles? So why is it necessarily a good thing, if really existent material conflicts are suppressed by appeals to flat-out irrationality? And why are ‘rationalists’ arguing for this to happen?

    In my view, religions don’t ‘bind society together’, instead it is the purpose of religions (both civic and spiritual) to ‘bind’ the lower classes to the upper classes. Rationally, the different classes would be opposed to each other due to material conflicts of interests, thus rationality has to be suppressed by constructing elaborate schemes of irrationality (i.e. religions). Why should unjust social relations be accepted? – Because there is a benevolent and almighty God who created these social relations exactly the way the happen to be now. Why should the working class accept a life of drudgery and sacrifice? – Because they will be rewarded for it in the afterlife, or otherwise eternally punished for rebelling against the status quo.

    Religion (and its modern substitute: nationalism) ultimately is an opioid of the masses, prescribed by the ruling class in order to intellectually sedate the lower classes and to feign a common purpose where rationally there is none to be found. Religion may thus stabilize society, but at the same time it stabilizes socio-economic injustice. Getting rid of (pseudo-)religious narratives and thus seeing society unromantically with all its conflicts and complexities as it really is, may not be a pretty sight. But I think it as a prerequisite for actually improving things.

    Conservatives might now reply that society cannot consciously be ‘improved’ and that attempting to do so leads to disaster. Therefore, we should prefer to live in a stable status quo, even if it is founded on injustice and irrationality. But how comes that precisely the figures we are supposed to worship, for example the American founding fathers, symbolize the possibility of social change? Why do we celebrate the social improvements of the past and the struggles which made them possible (from feudal tyranny to republicanism, from chattel-slavery to wage labor), but are supposed to condemn even the possibility of social improvements in the present and future?

    If religion is doing some social binding, it is binding society to an irrational status-quo. If our current social relations were just and beneficial for all, it wouldn’t require religious irrationality in order to justify and stabilize them, would it? If a society can only be held to together by embracing irrationality, something seems to be fundamentally wrong about such a society…

    • Watchman says:

      Since there’s been 150 years of sensible sociological research into religion since Marx wrote, most of which class-based analysis seems to ignore (because they aren’t class-based and therefore undermine the narrative I guess), some of which underlies Scott’s observations here, I’m not sure this critique is valid. You seem to be presupposing the answer anyway (that religion exists to preserve the status quo) which is a weird take on an article which in effect portrays a shift underway from one religion to another which threatens at least some parts of the status quo. I don’t see where you argue that the new social justice religion is ensuring the same order as the preceding civic religion, which is the point I think I’d need brought forward to engage me as a non-Marxist in your argument.

      Note that Marxist societies seem to invariably have civic religion as well (from a UK perspective the amusing thing about the US state religion has always been how Soviet it seems…). So either every Marxist state has been flawed by having a ruling class or the role of religion is more complex than you suggest?

      • JPNunez says:

        A lot of the modern american democracies will look soviet to a country which still keeps a monarchy, tho.

      • Involuntary Marxist says:

        Sorry, I did not intent to ‘presuppose the answer’, I just wanted to introduce a Marxist point of view to the discussion. No, I don’t think that Marxist points of views are necessarily correct, but I do think they are interesting enough to be considered.

        I did not include the shift, Scott talks about, because I wanted to present a more general analysis of the (potential) role of religion in society. But since you asked, yes, I think this shift of civic religion can be analyzed with a class perspective.

        For example, it offers social institutions with at least questionable legitimacy (corporations, police departments, even the military and intelligence agencies) a cheap way to gain acceptance, which they may rationally lack. The more institutions of capitalism and imperialism get discredited (see intelligence agencies after Snowden), the more they wrap themselves into rainbow flags and similar ‘liberal’ symbolism. A process, which I predict, will become more and more emblematic of Western capitalism and imperialism as a whole.

        In an age of extraordinary inequality, a decaying middle class and growing poverty, the ruling class has an interest of highlighting differences in race, gender and sexuality to distract from class differences and property relations. It might be said that (portions of) the ruling class are willing to change the cultural status quo in order to save the socio-economic status quo. If a readjustment of US civic religion is necessary to save US capitalism, then so be it.

        • Le Maistre Chat says:

          Elected officials the the donor class: We rule you!
          Social Justice Warriors: We fool you!

        • BlueKnight72 says:

          Even a classless society would have some form of ritual/festivals that would act in the way the Scott describes, no? I’ve never agreed with the Marxist view of religion as “the opiate of the masses,” when clearly it seems to slip out of the control of the ruling classes from time to time. In any case, if religion goes away and isn’t replaced by something like the subject of this post, current experience seems to suggest that the masses will turn to actual opiates, which seems a worse state of affairs.

        • In an age of extraordinary inequality, a decaying middle class and growing poverty

          Do you think America today is more unequal than past societies? That the world income distribution is more unequal than it was fifty or a hundred years ago?

          Have you looked at figures on world poverty? Global extreme poverty has shrunk from about 1.9 billion people, 36% of the world population, in 1990 to about 650 million, roughly 9% of the world population, in 2018.

          One can, of course, use a variety of different measures, but given how enormous the improvement has been I think you will find it difficult to produce any plausible measure that fits your “growing poverty” claim.

          • Plumber says:

            @DavidFriedman,
            Well, a year ago I may have felt differently, five to ten years ago I absolutely would’ve felt differently, but IIRC for two years median wages have gone up in the U.S.A.

            Against all my ideological instincts I have to admit things are finally looking up!

          • Involuntary Marxist says:

            I was talking about recalibrations of US capitalism for the purpose of binding the lower classes to the property relations and imperial foreign policy favored by the ruling class. Thus, the relevant variables are the US domestic ones. So, the phrase you quoted was meant to describe current developments of US society – and I think it is a pretty fair assessment. And yes, if I am not mistaken, the post-war era marked by more social-democratic, new-deal economic policy, seems to have been more equal regarding the economic distribution between capital and labor.

            I argue, that the decline of poverty that you correctly describe for some developing countries, stems to a large degree from the practice of Western capitalism of shifting its production and capital from its native countries in order to exploit cheaper labor abroad (Which interestingly, is a complete contradiction of Adam Smith’s original use of the ‘invisible hand’). From what follows that the positive global trend you are describing, doesn’t invalidate the negative trend in the US – in fact, it may have even contributed to it.

          • cryptoshill says:

            The *global* reduction in poverty is actually an increase in equality, not a decrease.

            The United States was able to maintain its economic “equality” internally by owning monopoly rents on manufacturing, and a general number of things that would make me call them “the global 1%”.

            All of your major industrial rivals being flattened by war will naturally cause this effect.

            I also take Scott’s view (paraphrased from memory so if Scott wants to correct me here I’m open to that) that some amount of “stagnant median wages” is caused by artifacts of how we measure inflation. His estimate was something like 30% of that problem being caused by this.

            In terms of quality of life, I live more like my much richer counterparts than I would’ve in 1930 as well, and probably even 1970-1990.

            Interesting here too in class-conscious analysis – is that small c capital (meaning – small businessowners that derive most of their income from an owned productive entity) tend to throw in with Labor despite it being largely *against* their interests to do so. At the same time, *wealthy* labor (doctors, lawyers, tech-employee philistines everyone is always mad at for not reading enough Hegel) likes to throw in with Capital.

            There’s more here than simple “religion protects and defends an irrational property-schema that Labor would be perfectly justified to overthrow”.

            Specifically, I think what we’re getting at is that “we (want to) live in a society”. Perhaps this is an instance of *both* classes setting aside their rivalry because there’s some amount of benefit in generally living together at peace. Labor might *vote* socialist parties, but guillotining the rich doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better outcome and is abhorrent as a bonus. Similarly, the Rich might vote for weird-libertarian economics – but will still donate to Catholic orphanages because they don’t want to see kids starve to death.

    • eigenmoon says:

      Religions usually do evolve from the concerns of local communities, and so they sometimes reflect struggle, for instance: “Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow’s cause does not come to them.” (Isa 1:23)

      Of course, this doesn’t mean that some evil dude can’t make a religion from scratch and use it to politically manipulate masses. Marxism is the prime example of this. What, you thought Marxism isn’t a religion? Well, Lenin’s mummy kept in some sort of a ziggurat tells me otherwise.

      Do Marxists really have the high ground to accuse other religions of being used as state ideology? Wasn’t Marxism itself used as such in USSR or China? Or can Marxists really accuse other religions of being introduced with fire and sword? What would Eastern Europe think of this?

      • Involuntary Marxist says:

        You are right, ‘Marxism’ gets abused as a state religion.

        I think this is a disgrace and I condemn it wherever I see it. I value Marxism as an approach of social analysis, but whenever it goes beyond this scientific role, it creeps me out, just as it should any other rationally minded person.

        • John Richards says:

          And I am similarly creeped out by the Westboro Baptist Church. And yet, people take that small church as representative of Christianity as a whole, while I’m not supposed to take Marxism as it existed in Russia as representative of Marxism? When it was a system which controlled a whole country?

    • Lambert says:

      The proselytising Abrahamic faiths are not really representative of many religions. They are just disproportionately sucessful, due to all the ‘fire and sword’ stuff.
      One would reckon that most religions are more: ‘We live in Ur so we worship Nana, moon God and protector of shepards. Other peoples worship other Gods and that’s not intrinsically wrong.’

    • FLWAB says:

      Did religions really organically evolve from local communal rites, as you are portraying it here? As far as I am aware, the major religions still alive today (mostly Christianity and Islam) have been spread violently with fire and sword. To me, religion seems much more like an overt instrument of social control than a naturally evolved system of local traditions.

      I have to object to this. It is a stretch to claim that Christianity (I won’t talk about Islam, as I am too ignorant of its history) was spread “violently with fire and sword.” I suppose it is accurate in that at some times in history some Christians have used violence to spread Christianity, though the only example I can think of is Charlemagne’s campaign that ended in forced baptisms (and a massacre some time later to those who went back to their pagan ways and rebelled against him). The Crusades don’t seem to count: they went not to convert but to conquer their enemies, and their goal was not to spread the faith but to protect it. Despite these examples, spreading by violence is atypical of Christianity historically. Even the example of Charlemagne shows this: the bloody Verdict of Verdun was a stain on his reputation among his fellow Christians for the rest of his life, and was widely condemned by contemporary and future Christian historians as an extremely un-Christian act. Christianity certainly did not go from a small group of heretic Jews to the official religion of the Roman empire through “fire and sword.” Nor was the transition the result of the upper classes attempting to control the lower classes socially. To the contrary, the early Christians were persecuted by fire and sword, and preached an almost pacifistic message of peace. They taught that it was better to be killed than to kill, and they held up as a high example the martyrs who forgave their killers before their deaths. And the religion did not spread from top down, but from the bottom up: Christianity was a religion of slaves and proles, not patricians.

      In fact, even after becoming the “establishment” religion of Europe we often see the spread of Christianity working against the goals of “fire and sword” and the ruling classes. The conquistadors certainly lived up to their name in the fire and sword department, but they found themselves butting heads with the Chrisitan missionaries who came to convert the locals, and who often stood up for the natives against the ruling powers. It was very inconvienent for Spain’s colonial governors to find that their endless supply of pagan slaves was being quickly converted into fellow Christians who were trickier to exploit without public unrest. While colonial powers across the world were trying to find ways to dominate and exploit native resources, whether in North America, Africa, or Southeast Asia, there were also missionaries bringing medicine, education, food relief, schools, orphanages, printing presses and legal representation. Missionaries were often on the front lines of fighting against colonial powers who preferred the use of fire and sword to bible and spirit.

      In any case, the idea that Christianity was spread primarily through violence and that it is a tool of the upper classes for social control requires a strong argument and cannot just be assumed, considering the weight of the historical evidence to the contrary.

      • eric23 says:

        Islam too. The early Muslims certainly conquered territory by “fire and sword”, but in that territory they let Christians and Jews live more or less freely (not pagans though). Despite the social advantages in conversion to Islam, there were large Jewish communities throughout the Middle East until the mid-late 20th century, and large Christian communities until the last 15 years (a large one remains in Egypt to this day).

      • zzzzort says:

        I think it’s being a little naive to consider only forced conversions at the time of military conquest to ‘count’ for these purposes. Christianity, Islam, and Zoroastrianism all served as imperial religions, and acted to legitimize the empires (Byzantine/Spanish/British, Arab/Ottoman, Persian) that they coexisted with. These empires all expanded militarily at one point or another, and all incentivized conversion to the state religion in one way or another. If you were an Aztec villager, and were conquered by the super catholic spanish government, then asked to convert by some catholic spanish missionaries or else be enslaved by a catholic spanish nobleman, it seems fair to say that catholicism converted you by fire and sword. While monks and conquistadors might have butted heads, they were both catholic. This is more clear in the case of anglicanism, where the head of the government and the head of the church was the same person! I think the idea that Persia, Egypt, the Levant, and North Africa converted to Islam after being conquered by the Arabs, and Iberia, the Americas, and parts of West and South Africa converted to christianity after being conquered by Europe makes it seem like their might be some correlation. We can quibble what counts as ‘primarily’, but there’s 2.2 billion christians. In a counterfactual world without european colonialism how many would you expect there to be?

        • eric23 says:

          Well, the religion of gay rights is already firing you from your job if you don’t support it (Brendan Eich), so by the same token is it currently expanding by fire and sword?

          (Obviously, firing is not comparable to slavery, but it is comparable to the extra taxes and so on that Christians and Muslims put on other religions in their domains at many points)

      • Involuntary Marxist says:

        I wasn’t arguing that religions which (can) serve the ruling class, necessarily originate from the ruling class. Christianity was at its conception obviously a religion of the lower classes (but not a revolutionary one: “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s”). As a result, Christianity (and most other religions) have a natural appeal to the lower classes, since it tends to conciliate them with their materially destitute lives – which is exactly what makes the religion so valuable for the upper classes to exploit for their purposes.

        I agree with you that Christianity did spread quite naturally before it was seized by the Roman Empire, which was when it became an imperial state religion and changed its character fundamentally – as Scott briefly mentioned above. The spread of Christianity since then, however, happened under the umbrella of imperial might. Fire and sword were used overtly by erasing local pagan competitor-religions, and fire and sword functioned less overtly as an omnipresent threat to would-be religious dissenters.

        So yes, even though Christianity does provide a natural appeal to the lower classes (as a kind of opiate), I think it is fair to say that its spread beyond the ancient Mediterranean was to a large degree achieved by coercive imperial and colonial policies – i.e. by fire and sword.

    • blumenko says:

      As a YIMBY and a nihilist, I think Marxisms focus on class struggle is too narrow. It is not in anyone’s personal interest to pay taxes, and coercion is costly, so it is better to inculcate a good feeling around paying taxes. More generally there are always innumerable economic group conflicts where one side could gain by changing the status quo. See YIMBY/NIMBY or workers in export-oriented industries vs. those being outcompeted by imports. Class conflict is just one of many, and there is every reason to paper it over with some feel-good stuff.

    • Involuntary Marxist says:

      Since it may provide more clarity to the Marxist position on religion, here is how Marx phrased it himself:

      “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

      The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.

      Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun.”

      • Aapje says:

        Some observations:
        – Marx seems to equate suffering with oppression, apparently ignoring that suffering can just be part of the human condition (like death of oneself or loved ones, health problems, breakups, family conflict, etc).
        – The idea that religion mandates the endurance of suffering and not a fight against it, ignores that religions tend to require ‘good works’ and that there are and were very many very religious people who oppose the rulers and/or social order.

        So it seems to me that Marx was weakmanning, by reducing a complex, multidimensional and not very consistent ideology that can be used in service of many things, to a simplistic view that at most describes a part of what religion is and does.

      • Watchman says:

        My normal problem with Marx is that he never seems to see individuals, just members of classes with limited agency of their own. This is very manifest here, where the opiate of the people might actually be useful to the individual persons involved. Religion might distract the proletariat from revolution, a contention I suppose I agree with; as soon as you start considering individuals though the effects of religion become much more variable, less of a stupifying drug and more of a factor that can be helpful or harmful to a person.

        I tend to think Marx is a poor choice of philosopher nowadays, as we can see where an analysis that sees humans not as individuals but as members of classes (or racial groups) can lead with the benefit of history. He’s a blunt tool that risks legitimising splits within society, and his views on religion are a clear case of this type of thinking.

  14. liskantope says:

    Interesting connections drawn in this post. I’m reminded of another type of large-scale celebration I’ve experienced which has some similar traits, namely college homecoming parades and festivities related to victories of the local university’s football/basketball team. I have a lot of experience with this, having lived in two college towns both with sports fanaticism deeply ingrained in the local culture — the related parades and festivities aren’t quite as large-scale as the events described in this post, but they’re extremely disruptive to everyday activities within the town and they do convey a similar sense of unity and togetherness among all parts of the community. A key difference — and an interesting one I think — is that rooting for the local college sportsball team seems far more manufactured than either a centuries-old religious tradition or LGBT rights causes; the former seems almost to have been created explicitly for the sake of the community having a common passion to rally around.

    • Tarhalindur says:

      I sometimes wonder if there’s something else going on regarding football and basketball specifically; Mesoamerica had ball games as a central civic rite for at least a thousand years before the conquistadors arrived (to such an extent that they were mythologized – see the Popol Vuh), and I’m not sure that didn’t get passed along to the colonists somehow.

      (The old joke about high school football being the true state religion of Texas is firmly in ha ha only serious territory.)

      • eric23 says:

        I think Europeans get just as excited about their sports teams (soccer hooligans) as Americans. However, it is a bit different in that the teams are not associated with units of government the way they are in the US.

        Also, sports (specifically, chariot racing) had an important social role in Europe nearly 2000 years before contact with Mesoamerica.

        • Nornagest says:

          I’d say it’s comparable. World Cup teams are more strongly associated with units of government than American big-league teams are — each big-league team hails from a city or state, but several states and even a few cities have more than one, many states and most cities have none, and those teams aren’t owned or sponsored by local governments. (Their stadiums might be, though.) Meanwhile, college football and basketball, and even high school football in rural areas, all have serious followings.

        • Aapje says:

          eric23,

          In my country, some streets turn orange* during world cups and European cups. Working-class neighborhoods are the most extreme in this regard.

          * Although the picture is a very extreme example.

  15. Peter Gerdes says:

    That’s an interesting take but I’d note that there is a substantial difference between civic/patriotic identity and religious identity in that patriotic identity is largely defined as a contrast with other groups while a religious identity has a message/direction that makes sense in the absence of an other to compare themselves against. Obviously, the lines are blurred but there is an important sense in which being an american patriot only makes sense in a world with other countries but being a christian makes sense even in a world where everyone is a christian.

    I’d suggest that social justice (of the kind embraced by SF as a community) is patriotism/civic not religious. Sure, it is associated with values but the celebratory/civic aspects really do require that one is showing that one isn’t one of the others. A religion involves rituals and specific performances that can be maintained even when everyone is a member while both social justice and US patriotism is about demonstrating membership in one group not the other.

    • MugaSofer says:

      I don’t know. Say every country in the world became a State in the Global States of America, or some magical force cut off the USA from the outside world and cast them into limbo. There would still be debate over the true meaning of the Constitution, over whether various movements and ideas are unAmerican, whether the President was truly moved by the spirit of All Men Are Created Equal when visiting the martyr MLK’s grave or just cynical politics; there would still be a 4th of July and Thanksgiving and Columbus Day, each with an associated mythic story regarding the origin of America.

    • eric23 says:

      Even if the US were the only country in the world, there would be an ideal of “liberty” which would motivate patriotic Americans to resist whatever despot happened to take over their culture.

    • Aapje says:

      @Peter Gerdes

      The enemy can also be the past. Imagine that all of America becomes brown, non-binary, bisexual with an extremely strong preference for the other sex, etc. Then they can still have gay pride, slavery remembrance, etc to celebrate wins over the evil white men of the past.

      The US celebrates Independence Day, even though the UK is the best friend of the US. People aren’t opposed to modern Brits when they celebrate it.

  16. machine-spirit says:

    I am european who lived in Asia for the last couple of years, and yet I have to say some elements of modern western culture like this seem far more foreign and strange to me than anything I’ve seen there.

    I also though that the fight for Gay rights was fought and won couple of years ago. With that in mind, I would expect that at this point most of the activism should have died down and LGTBQ community would blend in in the broader American society. And yet it seems like the level of public activism in is stronger than ever, to such degree that seems to puzzle even the veterans of that struggle.

    Or maybe I am just getting old and future is getting more foreign than the past.

    • Enkidum says:

      I’ve seen a similar view expressed by several people here, and I find it bizarre in the extreme. The idea, I guess, is that because it’s now difficult to publicly express overtly anti-gay views without social censure, the fight for acceptance of homosexuality should be over?

      This seems an obviously mistaken view to me. Should the NAACP have disbanded in 1970?

      • The Nybbler says:

        The idea, I guess, is that because it’s now difficult to publicly express overtly anti-gay views without social censure, the fight for acceptance of homosexuality should be over?

        Not “should be”. “Is”. You’ve described a condition that indicates victory. The walls have been breached, the enemy forces have been defeated; the only thing that remains is the sack.

        • keaswaran says:

          I think you misunderstand the goal if you think “difficult to publicly express overtly anti-gay views without social censure” is victory. Full rights to marriage, adoption, and service in all government offices (including the military) is part of it as well, which is now mostly achieved in the United States. But “acceptance” doesn’t just mean a lack of overt expression of anti-gay views – it also means actual acceptance by people. Which, again, is largely achieved within the universities and downtowns of America. But is really pretty far from being achieved broadly, given how many young gay people I meet at the university I teach at whose families have rejected them.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I see. In that case, calling what remains “the sack” is badly understating it. It’s not enough to achieve victory; you insist on having no opponents remaining.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            “…and in conclusion, Kansas must be destroyed”

          • Dedicating Ruckus says:

            But “acceptance” doesn’t just mean a lack of overt expression of anti-gay views – it also means actual acceptance by people.

            You can only know if you’ve achieved victory by this standard by reading people’s minds, and the only path to victory is to exterminate anyone who remains obstinate. (Coercion is, by definition, incapable of producing sincere agreement; therefore, if you demand agreement that is sincere in the heart, rather than merely compliance, there’s nothing to be done with a disbeliever but to kill him.)

            If this is your goal, then truly there is no way out but war to the knife. I rather suspect you don’t desire this; you should meditate on the consequences of your aims.

          • @The Nybbler

            In the end, isn’t that the ideal end state of every value system? Classical liberalism had the work around of its end state being pluralism itself, but even that end state requires hegemony over those dissenting against pluralism and trying to reverse it. Yeah, I get that sounds a bit uh… “Andrew Cord”, but all thought systems push until they meet resistance, so it’s only natural to want absolute and total victory absent some kind of cost. How sinister that seems depends on the means used to achieve that victory.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Coercion is, by definition, incapable of producing sincere agreement

            I don’t know about that. We’ve got competing aphorisms on the subject: “A man convinced against his will / Is of the same opinion still” (attribution unknown, but not Dale Carnegie) but “If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow” (also unknown, and not Teddy Roosevelt or Chuck Colsen. My guess would be some waggish grunt upon hearing a “hearts and minds” speech).

            @Forward Synthesis:

            No, I don’t think all thought systems require elimination of all opposition to be considered successful.

          • ejmoncrieff says:

            A Gallup Poll in May of this year asked, “What is your impression of how most Americans feel about gay or lesbian relations — do most Americans think they are acceptable or not acceptable?” Only 55% thought most Americans think gay and lesbian relations are acceptable. 41% thought most Americans think gay and lesbian relations are unacceptable.

            The struggle for real acceptance of gay relationships and gay people is far from over.

          • Randy M says:

            Why would they ask that question rather than polling how many accepted it? One’s perception of other people’s opinions is going to be largely informed by news, advertising, entertainment, and so on.

          • ejmoncrieff says:

            @Dedicating Ruckus: Neither coercion nor violence is necessary to bring about widespread, genuine social acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships. All that’s necessary is persuasion and the passage of time.

            We’ll know when we’ve achieved genuine social acceptance. Mind-reading won’t be necessary. Most people are pretty bad at hiding their emotions.

            @ Randy M: They asked that too. 35% thought gay and lesbian relationships are “morally wrong.” That’s 35% too many.

          • JoshuaZ says:

            I find it interesting how many of the responses to this comment are equating not having gay people be kicked out by their families for their orientation with some sort of “extermination” or extreme coercion. There’s a distinction.

          • @The Nybbler

            It’s not that all thought systems need to eliminate the opposition (non-violently or otherwise) in order to be successful, but that no one advocating a thought system arbitrarily stops advocating it when they think they’ve convinced enough people. There are always more people to be converted and it’s always better to have more people who agree than fewer, so the natural tendency of ideology is to spread until it meets enough resistance to stop it. We shouldn’t be surprised in the slightest therefore that progressives want to keep making more and more people progressive so the world can be more progressive. Conservatives want the world to be more conservative in the exact same fashion.

            I’m sure that you wouldn’t randomly stop advocating for your own values out of some moderation principle when you hit a set number of converts, so talking in terms of “sacking” is being melodramatic; it’s simply the same time worn process of ideological struggle repeated endlessly.

          • Randy M says:

            So 45% of the people surveyed were completely wrong about what the majority opinion is? That’s interesting.

          • lvlln says:

            @ejmoncrieff

            Neither coercion nor violence is necessary to bring about widespread, genuine social acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships. All that’s necessary is persuasion and the passage of time.

            What’s the empirical evidence that supports this? I’m not a moral historian; what are other similar moral beliefs became universal only through persuasion and the passage of time?

            I’m actually not even sure that there are any moral beliefs that have become universal in the way you seem to want, i.e. “35% thought gay and lesbian relationships are ‘morally wrong.’ That’s 35% too many.” Is there anything that, when dealing with populations on the scales of hundreds of millions, that actually 100% of people agree aren’t morally wrong? I doubt even straight relationships would reach that standard.

            Even if you developed mind-reading machines and instantly murdered anyone who had the belief that gay and lesbian relationships were “morally wrong,” you wouldn’t reach 100% longer than a generation, because new people would be born, and some of those people would, just by the random luck of physics and chemistry, land on the belief that such relationships were “morally wrong.” If such sci-fi totalitarianism can’t hit 100%, I’m not sure how persuasion and the passage of time, constrained by reality, can do it.

          • The Nybbler says:

            but that no one advocating a thought system arbitrarily stops advocating it when they think they’ve convinced enough people

            In the case of most thought systems, I would expect that many would. That as a thought system became more and more accepted, fewer and fewer people would worry about converting the leftovers (by reason or by force); they’d just become irrelevant. Not every thought system has to be totalizing.

          • Gobbobobble says:

            I find it interesting how many of the responses to this comment are equating not having gay people be kicked out by their families for their orientation with some sort of “extermination” or extreme coercion. There’s a distinction.

            That is not at all the argument. The argument is against the pendulum swinging all the way to the other side, where you get ostracized for finding it immoral or distasteful or merely kinda squicky or just wish it wasn’t taking up so much of your newsfeed.

            People can behave civilly with all sorts of people who’s values and/or actions they disagree with. Got a family member who went to prison? One who cheated on their spouse? One who broke with your family’s religion? Just because you don’t want to throw a parade lionizing those aspects doesn’t mean you can’t go to the mat for them when the chips are down.

            Some people do disconnect from family whose values they don’t share, true. They’re called assholes. But while they make for good news stories, they are not representative. (and I’d like to point out that “cut out the ‘toxic’ people in your life” is not exactly red-tribe-exclusive)

            This is what liberalism is supposed to be all about. The whole memeplex of “we can be productive together despite disagreement” is highly valuable. There was a widespread shitty “NO, on this we MUST agree” position on LGBT stuff for quite a while, true, but you can’t just flip it upside down and demand everyone believe Pride values in their heart of hearts or else be cast out.

          • @lvlln
            In Nigeria in 2013, 98% of respondents expressed the view that society shouldn’t accept homosexuality, and it’s probably a pretty similar percentage today, so while 100% is impossible due to countervailing randomness, you can probably get pretty close and hold it that way for multiple generations at least.

            EDIT:
            @The Nybbler

            In the case of most thought systems, I would expect that many would. That as a thought system became more and more accepted, fewer and fewer people would worry about converting the leftovers (by reason or by force); they’d just become irrelevant. Not every thought system has to be totalizing.

            There’s always a need to still advocate the ideology to prevent backsliding, which is why societies with 90%+ agreement on things still sermonize. What changes are the means, the level of effort and enforcement employed. If the currently existing dissenters have been whittled down to a few homeless men ranting at the crossroads, no one is going to waste the effort to try and convince those specific people, but the fact that such a level of agreement has been achieved that they are the only ones in opposition, does not affect the advocacy for the belief, only its expression. Instead of a belief that requires pamphlets it becomes an orthodoxy taught in schools. It becomes institutionalized, and no one decides to dismantle the institutions when they’ve achieved 99.99999% indoctrination.

            I guess liberalism could be called a non-totalizing thought system, but the thing about liberalism is that it simply moves the absolutism one level up so that while many values are tolerated, holding the value that many values shouldn’t be tolerated is itself suspect. Liberalism is still better off if everyone is a liberal. Anarcho-capitalism is still better off if everyone respects and understands their notion of property rights.

          • ejmoncrieff says:

            @lvlln: Can we please have this conversation without using rhetoric about murder?

            I take your point that there is always variation in human moral beliefs. There will always be nihilists and egoists. There will always be eccentrics like Pythagoras, who thought it was terribly wrong to eat beans. Maybe there will always be people who have prudish tastes and mistake their personal aesthetic preferences for moral insight.

            I’d be satisfied if purportedly moral opposition to gay and lesbian relationships became as rare as other bizarre and indefensible moral views.

            There are many examples of moral beliefs that have become widespread through persuasion and the passage of time. One example is the belief that women should have the right to vote.

          • Clutzy says:

            @ Forward Synthesis

            I think you’ve made a critical error of conflating hate with acceptance. One is much easier to engender, because hate is a more biological response. In this context its a simple anti-outsider bias. But you can get surveys where 95%+ have negative views of smokers if you choose the community right, or 95%+ who have unfavorable views of HIV+ people.

            Its much less likely to find a place with 95% acceptance of smokers, unless you skew the study intentionally.

          • @Clutzy

            Its much less likely to find a place with 95% acceptance of smokers, unless you skew the study intentionally.

            I don’t think anywhere is even trying to achieve 95% acceptance of smokers, so respectfully, it’s not the best example you could have chosen. I’m sure tobacco companies are trying to achieve 100% acceptance, but that only means they failed because not everyone was inclined to enjoy smoking, and after evidence of the harmful effects came forwards, they met massive ideological resistance, stabilizing the “smoking thought system” as something held by a tiny minority who persist in spite of massive pressure and pictures of diseased lungs we insist on still pushing in front of their faces (we haven’t given up despite being near total victory)

            There are plenty of more mundane things that are 95% accepted, but no one is doing polling on them. You might be right that it’s easier to hate than accept, in some general way, but I’m not making that assumption here because when it comes to ideology the two aren’t always so easily separable in practice. If acceptance in this context was some purely personal life philosophy rather than part of a political ideology, then it may be more separable; if only you plan to accept something, then you don’t need to worry as much about other people. As a political ideology, promoting acceptance as a societal outcome also means that you’re going to be ill disposed towards those promoting intolerance towards the thing you want people to accept. This is easily leveraged for propaganda purposes.

            Love Wins! stands alongside FCKH8!

          • Clutzy says:

            I dont know, I’ve seen things like <10% acceptance of beards, or shaving; also mundane things like credit cards and computers. The idea that homosexuality would ever approach the rates of those things seems centuries into the future, if ever (because we dont know if there is a biological disgust factor attached to it for some people).

          • lvlln says:

            @ejmoncrieff

            @lvlln: Can we please have this conversation without using rhetoric about murder?

            We probably could, but I chose not to, because there’s no reason not to.

            I take your point that there is always variation in human moral beliefs. There will always be nihilists and egoists. There will always be eccentrics like Pythagoras, who thought it was terribly wrong to eat beans. Maybe there will always be people who have prudish tastes and mistake their personal aesthetic preferences for moral insight.

            I’d be satisfied if purportedly moral opposition to gay and lesbian relationships became as rare as other bizarre and indefensible moral views.

            There are many examples of moral beliefs that have become widespread through persuasion and the passage of time. One example is the belief that women should have the right to vote.

            OK, you’ve walked back your desire from something absolute & totalitarian to something reasonable. That’s fair.

          • Enkidum says:

            OK, you’ve walked back your desire from something absolute & totalitarian to something reasonable. That’s fair.

            I haven’t seen any walking back. The paragraph you stated seems like a rewording of the desire for “real acceptance” which was originally given.

            That is to say, I think the perception of totalitarian goals which you and others have here is really, really skewed. Can you point to a specific thing anyone above said that you think is actually objectionable? Is it just that “35% too many” should have been, say “33% too many” or something like that? If so, I’d suggest you’re perhaps missing the forest for the trees here.

          • lvlln says:

            That is to say, I think the perception of totalitarian goals which you and others have here is really, really skewed. Can you point to a specific thing anyone above said that you think is actually objectionable? Is it just that “35% too many” should have been, say “33% too many” or something like that? If so, I’d suggest you’re perhaps missing the forest for the trees here.

            Yes, it is just that, and no, I don’t think I’m missing the forest for the trees. The difference between 98% acceptance and 100% acceptance is massive, likely orders of magnitude greater than the difference between 50% acceptance and 98% acceptance. It’s vital that we don’t just paper over this for the sake of rhetorical convenience, because that last 2% (or whatever few % – I’m just going off your 33% example) is where the vast depths of unnecessary suffering and death lie.

          • Jack says:

            It’s vital that we don’t just paper over this for the sake of rhetorical convenience, because that last 2% (or whatever few % – I’m just going off your 33% example) is where the vast depths of unnecessary suffering and death lie.

            This is precisely an argument people were making in the Style Guide thread… on why it’s important not to use trans- or queer-exluding language when saying things like “men have penises”.

          • Enkidum says:

            Yes, it is just that, and no, I don’t think I’m missing the forest for the trees. The difference between 98% acceptance and 100% acceptance is massive, likely orders of magnitude greater than the difference between 50% acceptance and 98% acceptance.

            That seems… somewhat fair. This is a place that prides itself on precision.

            But to be perfectly honest, I don’t actually think this is the real concern of most of the people in this thread. It’s not that they don’t want anti-gay prejudice to be less than 2% (or whatever). It’s that they object to any attempts to make it less than its current level of 35% (or whatever). (Note that the 35% comment was halfway down the thread, long after the accusations had been levelled, though before you arrived.)

            This is precisely an argument people were making in the Style Guide thread… on why it’s important not to use trans- or queer-exluding language when saying things like “men have penises”.

            This is true. I’m not a big fan of those arguments either. (And, just to be pedantic, I strongly suspect most of those who are super-concerned about that difference between 2% and 0% in the current thread are also not fans of that argument. They should reflect on what that means.)

          • Randy M says:

            And, just to be pedantic, I strongly suspect most of those who are super-concerned about that difference between 2% and 0% in the current thread are also not fans of that argument. They should reflect on what that means.

            It might mean that the contexts are different. Making a generalization that doesn’t include trans like “Testicular cancer is a health concern for men” is different than stating a policy position like “we must reduce the amount of dissent from 35% to 0%.” Note the intentional use of precision in the latter case, and consider diminishing marginal returns and what that implies about the costs of the stated goal.

      • Clutzy says:

        Maybe not 1970, but it certainly should have disbanded before today, along with similar orgs like the SPLC.

    • musicmage4114 says:

      “Better” is not the same as “good,” and “things are better” is the entire argument of the linked post. Not only that, it’s “things are better here,” which is a distressingly Americentric take in a world where there are still places being gay can result in a literal death sentence.

      Reactionaries don’t say to themselves “Oh well, guess we lost this one. Time to let it go and head home,” so the suggestion that activists should rest on their laurels and quiet down so soon after achieving their goals is ridiculous. Gains can be rolled back just as quickly as they were won; look at what happened with Proposition 8.

      We can see this happening over and over, across all marginalized groups. Abortion is suddenly a national issue again, so now we’re back to 2nd-wave feminism. Court orders mandating desegregation have been relaxed or lifted, and now school systems are re-segregating themselves. Unions didn’t think expanding their membership was necessary or important after their victories in the early 1900s, now they’ve been completely legally hamstrung and membership has plummeted. Reactionaries don’t rest in trying to undo the gains of marginalized groups, so if activists want to maintain and solidify those gains, they can’t, either.

    • phoenixy says:

      To continue Scott’s analogy — asking “gay rights are widely accepted, so why do San Franciscans still celebrate Pride so much?” is kind of like asking “America won the Revolutionary War, so why do Americans still celebrate Independence Day so much?”

      • John Schilling says:

        We increasingly don’t celebrate Independence Day. But to the extent that we still do, we at least pretend to celebrate it for all Americans. “White male landowners of the Eastern seaboard pride day” would get a much lower turnout even if we do agree that it is a good thing a previous generation of such arranged the defeat of the British empire for their particular benefit.

    • Galle says:

      At this point I’m pretty sure these parades are less about activism and more just an excuse to have a party.

  17. Zephalinda says:

    Ahem:

    I can hear my conservative readers getting apoplectic: what about families? Family values are the most important legitimizing, community-building, wisdom-encoding part of Christianity!

    Protestantism.

    Protestants are the ones who decided that sex was so inevitable and important, the only legitimate place for supportive human intimacy was with someone you’re also boning. Protestants are the ones who tore the nuns out of the convents to forcibly marry them off, because how could you have women just living together and supporting each other? They should be having sex and making babies, under the watchful eye of their husband and master!

    You certainly don’t get gay pride except in reaction to/ as derived from straight pride, and straight pride is not a Christianity thing; it’s a bourgeois Reformation thing.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      This is probably offset by the total fertility rate of the populations at that time, it’s not as if birth rates during this time were chronically below replacement, nor were protestants systematically more fertile than catholics as far as i know.

    • Enkidum says:

      “You certainly don’t get gay pride except in reaction to/ as derived from straight pride”.

      I think you get gay pride as a reaction to anti-gay contempt and violence, in much the same way you got black pride. And this was just as prevalent in Catholic societies as Protestant ones.

      People like to fuck. This is a normal and healthy part of the human condition. It may, in some sense, be slightly healthier to allow gay men and women a half-hearted way out by letting them join monasteries or convents. But, you know, you could just leave them alone and let them fuck who they want. Which no large-scale Christian society has done.

      • Zephalinda says:

        This is not the place to get into a detailed history of sexuality, but I don’t think you can argue for a long history of “anti-gay contempt and violence,” simply because “being gay” isn’t a thing that exists prior to the mid-19th century. (Nor does “being straight” exist, for that matter, in the sense we currently understand it.) With the result that although the act of sodomy certainly has a long history of proscription, afaik most other aspects of same-sex intimacy, including displays of physical affection, passionate emotional bonding and open expressions of love, and long-term cohabitation, were considerably less judged and scrutinized in pre-1850s Europe than in 20th-century America. The modern taxonomy of sexual identities is our culture’s way of formalizing and understanding this category of behavior, but I think a large portion of the woke left would agree that the terms we use are socially constructed boxes, not natural parts of the eternal order of things. And using spotty pattern-matching to project our cultural categories back onto past societies may be satisfying for scoring culture-war points, but it doesn’t illuminate much about the real nature of anything.

        People most certainly love to fuck. All cultures, ours included, have conventions where some types of fucking are permitted and others punished. (Before we get too smug about how we open-mindedly leave people alone to love who they want, we could perhaps consider the seeming multitude of people who want to court 15-year-olds of either sex, and who would be fine to express that desire at any point in Western history before our present era. As Chesterton points out, it’s easy to tolerate behaviors you don’t actually disapprove of.)

        My point above was that although you can reliably turn up a mob to stone an outsider at any point in history, you don’t get a lot of anxious contempt for gay people specifically until your culture has decided that straight people exist and are praiseworthy. “Sexual identity” as we currently use it is– that is, a construct where your subjective pattern of sexual desires is formalized and essentialized into some deep part of your personal identity, and thus, ultimately, where you can gain or lose status by having the “correct” kinds of sexual desires– is a notion that I believe comes out of vitalism by way of some disciples of Freud in the late 19th c. But I was trying to argue that you only get to that place via exactly the kind of hothouse family values that make the nuclear family, and thus the conjugal pair-bond, the only conceivable site of human intimacy or social stability. And those family/conjugal values are very much a Reformation phenomenon.

        • soritical says:

          The evidence is strongly against the claim that gay people didn’t exist prior to the nineteenth century. This year I read an essay

          link text

          by the historian Rictor Norton that influenced my opinion on the subject. It mostly covers the eighteenth century, but some of the discussion covers earlier periods. We have records of gay people talking about their exclusive attraction toward the same sex, scientific and astrological speculations about the causes of same-sex oriented sexual desires, court records where men accused of sodomy had witnesses vouch for their attraction to women, records of stereotypes about homosexuals that are basically the same as modern ones… I really can’t do justice to Norton’s case without quoting the essay at length, which I will not do.

          As for whether gay people were prosecuted for being gay, I leave with this quote:

          In 1727, watchmen found two men lying in the porch of St Dunstan’s, Stepney, in each other’s arms, naked from the waist downwards, asleep or pretending to be asleep. “The Jury considering the Shamefulness of the Posture in which they were taken, concluded they were no better than two of those degenerated Miscreants from the Race of Men, called Sodomites, and brought them both in guilty.

          • Bugmaster says:

            As far as I understand, homosexuality had always existed, but it only recently became an identity that a person’s life is built around. Prior to modern times, it was seen as a behavior that one can choose to engage in — sort of like wearing socks with sandals. Even a person who habitually wears socks with sandals wouldn’t declare himself a “sock-sandalist”; even if he did, people would just look at him funny and shrug. However, if he declared himself as “gay”, or “Christian” or “Republican”, people would immediately know what that meant, and would be able to infer a whole package of beliefs and behaviours just from that single description.

          • Zephalinda says:

            Yep, Bugmaster has it– the point is not that no pre-19th-century men ever had sex with men, enjoyed sex with men, or even were interested mostly in sex with men. It’s not unusual even to find premodern circles where the sexual desirability of teenage boys is a generally acknowledged fact; for instance, one Renaissance playwright is on record as proclaiming in a public tavern that “all they who love not boys and tobacco are fools.” (Note that the remark was presented in a spy’s report against him, but when he got called to task, it was for atheist remarks in that same document, not for the boy-lovin’– which is a lot more tolerant than we would be about the exact same statement in 2019. The pairing of boys with tobacco, to my ear, places it at a perceived-transgressiveness level approximately similar to somebody yelling, “I LOVE COKE!!” today– that is, it sounds like somebody defending a vice that everyone knows you’re not supposed to indulge in, but that people also understand the attraction of.)

            What is different about earlier understandings of sexuality is that, as Bugmaster notes, those sexual desires and acts are regarded as tastes and behaviors the way we might regard food tastes and behaviors today; maybe very understandable, maybe very persistent, but not central to the very essence of who you are as a person.

            I like the sock-sandalist analogy, but an even better comparison might be, actually, occasional cheese-eating in a circle of vegans: it might be something many are tempted to do, as a result of tastes and impulses that feel very innate to some people, and depending on their respect for the ethos some might even say “screw it” and just chow down on yummy brie whenever. But for the most part it would not occur to either the vegans or the brie-eaters to say they ate cheese because cheese-eating was central to their identity, so that they could only truly be themselves when eating cheese.

          • soritical says:

            How recently is recently? What sex someone is attracted to has been an important characteristic for a very long time. I think people sometimes confuse the phenomenon with the words used to describe the phenomenon. A gay identity can exist without the word “gay”, it can even exist without any exact synonym. There is also a difference between an external concept of gay identity, one that is imposed on gay people by the heterosexual majority, and an internal one, that is invented by gay individuals or subcultures.

            On the external notion of identity, gay identity has been pretty significant for centuries. The quote I included indicates that gays were sometimes thought to constitute a “race” of men, there was an understanding that sodomy was performed by a very specific kind of person. Norton argues this at length, here is one quote:

            among numerous
            discussions of illicit sexual behavior in the early medieval
            Penitentials, there are no words for specific types of sexual
            sinners except for sodomite. For example, there are no specific
            words for those who practice masturbation (who would be
            called “wankers” in modern British slang), whereas there are
            several important words for those who practise sodomy, such
            as “sodomitae”, “molles”, “baedling” and “masculus cum
            masculo”. In other words, although acts are emphasized in the
            Penitentials, it is only in the homosexual context that we hear
            about sexual actors.

            I’m definitely not claiming that this external notion was as clear as it is nowadays, there were probably lots of ideas about gay people floating around the culture. Jeremy Bentham in his essay Offences against Oneself: Paederasty has a very different take on it, one that I think is much closer to the social constructionist conception of sexual orientation. But clearly there was a more robust notion of homosexual actors than we have of “sock-sandalists”. People knew that gay men were often effeminate, and they knew that homosexuality was often exclusive of heterosexuality. This all shows up in the court records and other documents. It’s true that there weren’t laws that specifically prohibited being gay, but whether a man was attracted to other men was significant because of the ways the trials played out, where people would testify whether or not the defendant had the “character” of a sodomite, etc. And sometimes men were arrested simply because they were intimate with one another, as in the first quote.

            As for the internal notion of identity, I find it hard to believe that gay people didn’t find it significant, given how harshly the surrounding society condemned homosexuality. I don’t understand how someone can compare it to dietary preferences, because dietary preferences aren’t illegal! If being gay wasn’t a significant aspect of their identity, it’s not clear why they would risk their lives in loving other men. We have examples of men collecting newspaper clipping of sodomy cases throughout their life! We have examples of secret “marriages” arranged in gay taverns in the eighteenth century! In 1698 Captain Edward Rigby defended his homosexual acts by comparing himself to various historical figures, this is all quite modern! There is evidence of underground gay subcultures in Europe going back at least to 1484! It’s not clear to me what needs to be shown to prove the existence of a historical gay identity….. maybe we should taboo the word “identity”. There were gay people, people were aware that there were gay people, and being gay often had extreme and devastating consequences that drastically affected the shape of people’s lives.

          • Due to all of the modern biological evidence that people really are “born this way” that it contradicts, I always found the constructionist claim really suspect, but reading that article I’m surprised at how much evidence to the contrary present in documents of the time was completely ignored to come to their conclusion. I wonder how much our mainstream reading of other aspects of history has been distorted by Foucault and friends.

          • Enkidum says:

            Due to all of the modern biological evidence that people really are “born this way” that it contradicts, I always found the constructionist claim really suspect,

            The modern evidence points to ones sexual orientation being strongly influenced by genes (to the tune of somewhere between 10-40% of the variance), and by other factors, including epigenetics and, undoubtedly, culture and other experiential factors.

            If by “born this way” you mean something like “almost all variance in sexual orientation is explained by genetics and epigenetics” which I think is the only sensible meaning of the phrase, there is no evidence that I’m aware of suggesting this is the case.

          • bullseye says:

            Plato’s Symposium includes a story about the origins of sexual orientation:

            http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/symposium.html
            The story is about halfway down the page; starting in the paragraph with the 14th mention of Eryximachus.

            The story goes that there were originally three genders: male, female, and mixed, but then Zeus cut everybody in half and now we’re all half-people looking for our other halves. The two different halves of the mixed people became modern straight people, the two halves of the male people became gay men, and the halves of the female people became lesbians.

          • Zephalinda says:

            @soritical– having read the Norton article about halfway through, I am deeply unimpressed both with his methods and with the argument. The evidence at least that far is cobbled together from so many tiny snippets of random texts (often paraphrased rather than quoted!), across so many vastly disparate cultural contexts , and with so little background information on any of the sources, that it’s hard to see how any of this could have been expected to cohere into a meaningful argument about cultural history. In particular, class context, religious context, political/national context, and source genre matter enormously when you’re interpreting early texts, but Norton seems to assume you can just stick a painfully literal reading of an upper-middle-class woman’s personal letter from the 1790s side-by-side with a similarly literal reading of a random religious pamphlet (denomination unspecified!) from 1700, then have them magically speak to the exact same issue by virtue of a few common key terms. In fact, it’s not clear that he’s actually read many of the primary sources from the first part of the article, since most of the citations are to secondary works. I gather this dude is pretty old, and possibly some of this would have flown in the heady ’60s and ’70s, or in the right area-studies departments, but nowadays this is emphatically not how one does respectable social history for other historians actually interested in learning about the past.

            As regards the bearing of the thesis on the discussion here, if I’m reading the article correctly, it seems to argue that starting about the 18th century, bourgeois Protestants in an ever-more-middle-class Protestant country begin to be increasingly interested in scrutinizing, discussing and judging the phenomenon of men’s sexual desire for intercourse with men, and to a lesser extent women’s same for other women. Am I wrong that this actually seems to support the case I was making that “sexual orientation” is a modern category that nonetheless evolves in part from the post-Reformation rise of middle-class Protestant values? The 18th century is at once the very height of middle-class Protestant thinking and the point when the sweep toward modernity really kicks into gear, so the timing certainly works out. At any rate, I don’t think I see how “We can see rudimentary forms of what look like similar concepts in English writings starting around 1700” equates to “These concepts are human universals that have existed in their present form for all of history.”

            I’d love to dig deeper into some of the examples in your second paragraph above, but without specific text citations, it’s hard to comment. Maybe bring it up in the next CW-friendly open thread, if you’re interested in chatting further. Or if not, thanks for an interesting conversation!

          • @Enkidum

            If by “born this way” you mean something like “almost all variance in sexual orientation is explained by genetics and epigenetics” which I think is the only sensible meaning of the phrase, there is no evidence that I’m aware of suggesting this is the case.

            Well, in reality there isn’t all that much variance in sexual orientation to begin with, as gay and bisexual people are a small minority of the total population. In every single country in the world, gays are a similarly small minority when considered on a national level. More people are gay in more open cultures, but this doesn’t mean we should conclude that social openness causes homosexuality.

            Another pointer towards this is that we don’t see many people go back in the closet. People rarely become “ex-gay”, in many cases despite strong desire to, and practices that have occasionally involved the application of electricity and drugs. People become gay and stay gay despite being raised under the strict supervision of social conservatives. I say this because our prior before looking at any twin studies or any similar data should be that most of the variation is going to be down to something happening either in the genes or in the womb, and if it’s not that then it’s going to be something that happens very early in life, so that we can account for all of the gay people who knew they were gay when they were 5. The cause has to be something that doesn’t allow for massive variation to begin with.

            What you say about studies showing it accounts for 10-40% of the variance is true (and I think the twin studies are on the 40% end of things IIRC), but 40% is already huge, and we’ve hardly exhausted all the myriad ways in which it could be biologically originated. If the combination of twin studies and other experiments that have actually been done demonstrate that there’s a moderate genetic effect that doesn’t explain enough of the variation, but only a sizeable portion of it, then that doesn’t mean that the rest of the variation is explained by things that occured after birth. There are lots of epigenetic theories left to be fully explored. Lots of little additive things like this are probably going to turn out to matter a lot.

            We don’t know for sure, of course, but we should have very high confidence that in the next 50 years we find more and more of the variation to be explained by things that occurred before birth.

            @Zephalinda
            This is one of those things that doesn’t pass the basic smell test; there’s not a single country in the world where homosexual behavior is anything more than an extreme minority practice, in spite of extremely wide cultural variation going from the repressive (Saudi Arabia), to the indifferent (Japan), to the celebrating (Europe and the USA), so it’s very hard to believe that repressive (Catholic or Protestant) Christian societies of the post-medieval period had homosexual behavior as a fairly standard vice practiced by the average men merely because they categorized it under the term “sodomy” instead of “gay”. There’s also even less evidence (without torturously interpreting it) that the majority of men before “modernity” were incidentally bisexual than that offered to the contrary in the article.

          • soritical says:

            @Zephalinda

            Thank you for your comments. As a non-expert in history, I certainly take your accusations of serious methodological flaws in Norton’s essay seriously, I confess that I did notice some troubling aspects in the way he presented the sources, which I overlooked, so your general criticisms do hold weight for me. (Rictor Norton has a website where he has collected many of the primary documents he references, many of which I have looked at myself, so I am less worried than I could be)

            However, I find myself bewildered by some of the specific criticisms that you are making, (“As regards the bearing of the thesis on the discussion here” onwards) they seem wildly off the mark and tangential.

            It seems there are several things we are talking about here: A) the existence of gay people (in the way we understand gay people today) B) the existence of a cultural understanding of sexual orientation that matches the modern one and C) the existence of an understanding by gay people of their own identity that matches modern notions. Clearly these are all different topics, and Norton talks about all of them, but you seem to have completely missed this. I find a lot of Norton’s arguments surrounding A and C very convincing, especially when you track down his sources, which I have done to some extent, and I think your complaints about him not respecting genre doesn’t really make much sense, if any, here. (Interestingly, at a certain point in the essay he accuses an author of making the same mistake you attribute to him, of lumping together different genres. He seems attentive to this issue). The question of how to think about B is more subtle, and I don’t have much to say about that right now.

            “I’d love to dig deeper into some of the examples in your second paragraph above, but without specific text citations, it’s hard to comment. Maybe bring it up in the next CW-friendly open thread, if you’re interested in chatting further. Or if not, thanks for an interesting conversation!”

            I will probably do this.

          • Enkidum says:

            Another pointer towards this is that we don’t see many people go back in the closet. People rarely become “ex-gay”, in many cases despite strong desire to, and practices that have occasionally involved the application of electricity and drugs. People become gay and stay gay despite being raised under the strict supervision of social conservatives. I say this because our prior before looking at any twin studies or any similar data should be that most of the variation is going to be down to something happening either in the genes or in the womb, and if it’s not that then it’s going to be something that happens very early in life, so that we can account for all of the gay people who knew they were gay when they were 5. The cause has to be something that doesn’t allow for massive variation to begin with.

            People rarely change their native language either. I think you have very different priors about that.

            Early life: yes, clearly. I’m pretty sure that for most people, our sexual preferences are pretty much canalized by the time we’re, say, 10. And in some cases earlier. (I think you give too much credit to autobiographical memories – I will maybe have to get into this in a different thread but I have good data-driven reasons not to trust a lot of these kind of memories.)

            I really do think native language is a very good way to break down some of the dominant preconceptions about sexual orientation – it is similarly immutable and impenetrable to conscious adult reflection, we have no memories of acquiring it, and it is clearly acquired in very early life.

            Clearly, sexual orientation is much more driven by genes and epigenetics than native language (i.e. more than 0). And you’re right, I think, to claim that we should expect to find more complex non-experiential influences on sexual development.

            But the idea which you seem to be aiming towards, which is the default position in modern society, is that there is no important experiential component at all. Which just seems like madness to me. That teenager whose boobs you saw when you stumbled upon changing her T-shirt when you were 10? Didn’t affect your development at all.

            Everything we know about the development of other aspects of sexual behaviour shows experience plays a huge role, along with genetics. (Cf. research into the development of kinks.) And the same is true for virtually any interesting aspect of human personality. Why should sexual orientation be unique in this respect?

            (I realize that the readership of this blog skew very heavily towards believing in genetic determinism for many traits, which I think is unfortunate, but also grossly under-supported by the available evidence.)

            More people are gay in more open cultures, but this doesn’t mean we should conclude that social openness causes homosexuality.

            Uh… what’s the alternative? Assuming this correlation is real (I wasn’t aware of it, or even how it could be safely measured), you’ve got three possibilities, right? A causes B, B causes A, or third variable(s) C causes both A and B. (Or some mixture of the three). I think the only sensible causal relationship between societal openness and being gay is in the direction you mention. How else would it work?

            Anyways, perhaps this is a better conversation for another time.

          • Zephalinda says:

            @sorotical– thank YOU! This is so vastly more civil and nuanced a conversation than one could have on this topic virtually anywhere else– warms my heart.

            I appreciate your articulating the distinctions between the multiple phenomena we’re discussing:

            A) the existence of gay people (in the way we understand gay people today)
            B) the existence of a cultural understanding of sexual orientation that matches the modern one and
            C) the existence of an understanding by gay people of their own identity that matches modern notions. Clearly these are all different topics, and Norton talks about all of them, but you seem to have completely missed this.

            I had noted with appreciation that nuance in Norton’s argument, and I think he’s right to draw that trifold distinction. Note, too, that the distinction should exist for the present day, too– i.e., there’s plenty of literature suggesting that even woke mainstream culture’s conception of “gay people” doesn’t exactly match gay-identified people’s conception of themselves. So we’re really trying to trace relations between up to 6 separate things here.

            Two additional caveats: first, since we’re talking methodology, I think we also need to subdivide (A) at least one more time, to make patent the layer of inference between (A1) the concrete trace of a Thing as data in the world and (A2) the underlying metaphysical/psychological/medical reality that A1 is presumed to reveal. For example, take schizophrenia: there, the data might be “person shows x/y/z unusual behaviors” and “tests reveal the presence of c/d/e biochemical markers”. But the moment you move on to say some person has schizophrenia, you’re in the realm of (A2), having chosen to frame the A1 data as indicating a disease, something separate from the person themselves, something that includes the constellation of symptoms in the DSM-V, etc.

            Constructivists vs. essentialists can fight over how far the A2 framing should actually be part of (B), i.e. should be viewed as purely culturally contingent. But at any rate, it’s important to note that if you start by asking “How was schizophrenia thought of in the ancient world?”, you have already built your present-day definitional assumptions into the fabric of your investigation in ways that will make it harder for you to notice, e.g. a culture where only half the DSM-V symptoms of “schizophrenia” reliably cluster together, or a historical context where owing to environmental factors, people with c/d genes nonetheless did not develop the full-blown schizophrenia we see today.

            (That last point is particularly important, I think, for arguments that draw on biological essentialism to argue for the historical universality of present-day experiences. Nowadays we love to identify simple biological or genetic correlates to very complex and poorly-understood social/psychological phenomena, then presume the phenomenon therefore “lives” in the biomarker or gene, and use that to conclude that every nuance of our current conception should therefore have the status of a universal, immutable biological fact. That doesn’t at all match the actual science of complex gene-environment interactions: to take a very simple example, even if we can identify some genetic correlates for susceptibility to alcoholism, that doesn’t mean one is “born an alcoholic” and would naturally become an alcoholic even if brought up in a society with no access to alcohol, it doesn’t rule out the impact of a particular viral infection or environmental stress potentiating the genetic susceptibility in some contexts but not others, etc., etc.)

            Second caveat: while it’s helpful to put names to the different things being examined in A2, B, C, I’d argue that we also realistically need to be aware of how radically interdependent these three are in practice. After all, one overarching theme on SSC is that we all make sense of both our interior and exterior reality by pattern-matching very limited data to available models, and realistically, most of those models come from either social experience or from culture. When I feel a tingle in my loins, my body may have given me the tingle, but my culture and past experiences give me the experience of the desire– including my perception of the particular stimulus that provoked it, the stories I tell myself about what I feel and why I feel it, the behaviors that seem reasonable in response, and my expectations for the way my environment will change as a consequence. It would be difficult for anyone from a different society to fully understand the contours of that desire just by reading a few words of mine, and very easy, by contrast, for them to just pick a familiar-sounding phrase and typical-mind the rest. (This is arguably the central problem of doing history, btw.)

            Thus, I’d suggest that at minimum when exploring past cultures we need to be careful about forcing ourselves to notice and take into account weird elements that don’t match our personal ideas or experiences, rather than glossing over irregularities and rounding off to “everybody’s probably just like me.” If we do pick this up in an OT, I’d love to hear more about what your working model of “a gay person” (or a “straight person,” if you’d prefer) is, as well as your model of what a person’s “sexual identity” or “sexual orientation” consists of. That’ll make it easier to think precisely about whether we can or can’t recognize those same things in history.

        • Enkidum says:

          , you don’t get a lot of anxious contempt for gay people specifically until your culture has decided that straight people exist and are praiseworthy

          But you do get explicit and violent prohibition of gay actions – namely men/women fucking other men/women. This is not something that just popped into existence as part of the Reformation, and it is capital-B Bad.

          I’m ok with being smug about us allowing this now, because I think it’s a good thing that we do.

          I’m not particularly broken up about the fact that we now don’t like pedophiles (I have the distressing feeling that someone is about to correct me with the word eu-whatever-philes and…. ugh), and I’m not sure why that’s supposed to be a clincher.

          I guess I have some sympathy towards what seems to be your main concern, which (please correct me if I’m wrong) appears to be a distaste for identitarian politics in general (and specifically identities organized around sexual proclivities). But I find it very difficult to take seriously the idea that this is a Protestant problem per se. Every catholic country I’ve ever been to, if anything, is more hostile to gay people.

          • Aapje says:

            I have the distressing feeling that someone is about to correct me with the word eu-whatever-philes and…. ugh

            There is an interesting parallel between gays and sex with post-pubescent youths, where both were/are vilified by equating that practice with pedophilia.

    • MugaSofer says:

      Modern Catholicism seems pretty concerned with family values and has been for some time. I’m not sure where you’re getting this from.

      • Enkidum says:

        I believe this is a take that begins with the implicit assumption that Catholicism has no problem with gay people, only with gay sex. So long as they refrain from consummating their desires, gay people are perfectly welcome within the church, etc etc etc.

        So if you’re a lesbian, move to a convent and become a nun, and you will be able to live in intimate sisterhood with your fellow nuns, which is what you really want. So long as you don’t bump uglies. And the protestants ruined this because of Henry VIII or something.

      • Aron Wall says:

        And medieval Catholics, notwithstanding their enthusiasm for celibacy, still decided that matrimony was one of the seven holiest rituals in their religion…

    • Randy M says:

      You certainly don’t get gay pride except in reaction to/ as derived from straight pride, and straight pride is not a Christianity thing; it’s a bourgeois Reformation thing.

      Straight pride actually makes sense, though. We can create sentient life! Combine our traits with those of one carefully selected human! Propagate our species through the ages! Commonplace, sure, but also literally fantastic.
      (Of course from a religious standpoint this is a partnership with the Creator, but that doesn’t really diminish the significance of it)
      I’m still unclear what’s to be proud of in this whole LGBT etc. deal. Deserve human dignity regardless? Yes. But that’s not the slogan.

      • Oscar Sebastian says:

        Straight pride actually makes sense, though. We can create sentient life! Combine our traits with those of one carefully selected human! Propagate our species through the ages!

        I can do that too, man. I’m gay, not sterile. Based on the general state of the world, it is very easy to pick up some chick from a bar and knock her up. Two hours work, including travel time, hardly seems something to be proud of. A woman has more claim to pride here – she has to put in the effort – but judging by your name you lack that claim.

        I’m still unclear what’s to be proud of in this whole LGBT etc. deal.

        Surviving. Despite every conservative’s pearl clutching about how not being able to enforce their religious traditions on everyone makes them the real victims, being straight is the easier path in life. Since we don’t get to pick the traits we’re given, and thus are relegated to particular paths, there’s plenty to be proud of just in not having been killed by mindless street thugs offended by men kissing each other. For that matter, there’s plenty more in having reached a point where we can parade down a street without being attacked. Not that even that’s a given – at least one gay pride this year in the states had the police provide protection for armed Nazis threatening participants. Because showing up with a gun and threatening violence is “peaceable assembly” when you’re straight and your victims are gay, I suppose.

        • Randy M says:

          I can do that too, man. I’m gay, not sterile.

          And when you do that, you’ll probably take pride in it, in the sense of appreciating an accomplishment. It’s a shame that, if you want to reproduce, it’s less enjoyable for you and your romantic inclinations make establishing a family with the mother less appealing.

          Based on the general state of the world, it is very easy to pick up some chick from a bar and knock her up. Two hours work, including travel time, hardly seems something to be proud of.

          Oh, indeed. With great power, and all that. It’s still pretty incredible, though.

          A woman has more claim to pride here – she has to put in the effort – but judging by your name you lack that claim.

          We do tend to judge fathers more by the subsequent couple decades, which is an improvement over the ancient and understandable virtue attributed to mere fertility. (You presume that men can’t get pregnant and that I am not female despite not presenting as a woman. I find that perfectly sensible and hope you extend that courtesy to others in such matters).

          As for your case, I’m glad you’re still alive. If you say your life was such a struggle to this point that deserves parades and all associated corporate festivity, you have my sympathy.

        • eyeballfrog says:

          at least one gay pride this year in the states had the police provide protection for armed Nazis threatening participants. Because showing up with a gun and threatening violence is “peaceable assembly” when you’re straight and your victims are gay, I suppose.

          And which one was that?

          • Oscar Sebastian says:

            Detroit.

          • S_J says:

            @eyeballfrot, @Oscar,

            I did a quick check on a local news source, and I saw one mention about eight paragraphs deep in this article.

            There aren’t any details on the neo-nazis. (I presume that any actual nazis would be old enough to have supported the Nazi cause in the 1940s, and wouldn’t have been a threat.)

            The photo spread with the article doesn’t show any pictures of the neo-nazis.

            Another local news source quotes the Police chief, and gives some numbers: 15 protesters, 5 of whom were said to be open-carrying firearms. That source has no photos either, which makes me wonder if anyone got photos of the neo-nazis at all.

            I agree that the presence of armed protestors is troublesome, but I disagree that it’s a sign of trouble. A group of 15 protestors, who didn’t manage to hurt anyone due to local Police presence, is not very worrisome to my eyes.

        • Dedicating Ruckus says:

          there’s plenty to be proud of just in not having been killed by mindless street thugs offended by men kissing each other.

          Just to be clear, are you saying that in your life in particular you had to do something sufficiently difficult to be an accomplishment that you’re proud of, just to avoid being violently killed? (Run some kind of gauntlet of thuggish homophobes, or something?)

          If so, that’s fairly at odds with conventional notions of social order that it’s typically believed are reasonably well-enforced in most first-world countries.

          • Oscar Sebastian says:

            Not me personally, but I’ve heard enough stories about violent run-ins from well over half the guys at the bar.

            It’s almost like being an actually oppressed minority means that the social order isn’t fully enforced in your favor.

        • RalMirrorAd says:

          On the reproduction thing, I want to revise what the OP said: Fertility in of itself has and is to some extent still valued but the ability to *father* [or mother] rather than merely sire children is probably more important. That basically means making yourself responsible for the wellbeing of at least 1 other person for 1-2 decades of your life. Getting someone pregnant and then making another person involuntarily responsible is probably one of the worst non-violent offenses a person can do.

          Which is why i prefer the idea of celebrating mothers and fathers [which we do, albeit only one day of the year a piece] rather than celebrating (any) sexual inclination which is facilitative at best. If more homosexual couples were in the business of pairbonding followed by adoption and/or fertilization of some kind it would probably be a net improvement. (Opposite sex parents might be preferable but the relevant comparison is foster homes and/or sub-replacement fertility), especially if it mutually re-normalizes parenthood in the straight population.

          In an absolute sense, One way or another a certain % of the population must render themselves responsible for a sufficient number of infant human beings to allow for replacement. If they don’t then the people and the values they claim to hold will go extinct.

          And the less a society is individually inclined to take up that mantle the more pride one should show for those that are willing [and capable] of doing so.

        • John Richards says:

          “Based on the general state of the world, it is very easy to pick up some chick from a bar and knock her up.”

          Actually, it’s not that easy. Based on my experience you have to completely ignore your conscience and work yourself up into a state of willingness to be physical with someone you don’t really know at all. Alcohol of course helps someone become stupid enough to do something like this.

          • FrankistGeorgist says:

            Consider that your experience may not be typical. The ease of hooking up is something of an average of all experiences of people trying to hookup, of which you are but one example.

            And also, your own conscience wasn’t the only thing keeping hookups from happening. In the past it might have been difficult to be alone with a person of the opposite sex because that was how society was structured. All else being equal, merely if there are more mixed man-woman bars now than there were in the past, we’re seeing something of a trend on the way to easier-than-ever-to-hookup. To say nothing of all the other ways people might meet. Apps, for instance.

          • gkai says:

            Agreed, but not for the same reason: Even with a complete lack of standards and guilt, it’s not easy, and that’s only for the pick-up stage. Knocking her up in in another ballpark, and even if you convince her of that, there is child support waiting for you…

            Why do you think there are such groups as PUA, incels, MGTOW, japanese herbivores,… which seems to grow? It’s because the general state of the world makes it less and less easy….

            IMHO the increasing promiscuity in straight population seems mostly an unreal media depiction, especially in educated middle class. All the stats I have seen point to constant or decreasing promiscuity with time, at least since birth control has been available.
            Of course in fiction the exact opposite is shown, but I suspect it is the general “youth is loosing morality” story that was propably already ongoing in neaderthals families, combined with the myopy of the media producers focussing on their own subculture…. Should be interesting to have a slatestarcodex post on this, maybe there is one already?

          • Aapje says:

            @gkai

            The media may also be offering vicarious relationships, just like porn offers vicarious sex.

      • benwave says:

        That’s easy enough to answer. There’s a long history (I guess not even really over) in which people attracted to the same sex were encouraged/forced to feel shame over that. The campaign for pride in one’s sexuality is a response to the previously enforced shame. ‘Pride in your sexuality!’ is a way better call to action than ‘Don’t be ashamed of your sexuality!’

        • John Richards says:

          “That’s easy enough to answer. There’s a long history (I guess not even really over) in which people attracted to the same sex were encouraged/forced to feel shame over that. The campaign for pride in one’s sexuality is a response to the previously enforced shame. ‘Pride in your sexuality!’ is a way better call to action than ‘Don’t be ashamed of your sexuality!’”

          So all Catholics are able to celebrate straight pride. Got it.

          • Enkidum says:

            So all Catholics are able to celebrate straight pride. Got it.

            That’s kind of what the sexual revolution was, no? Not just for Catholics, obviously, but in all seriousness isn’t that more or less what happened? A willingness to celebrate sexuality in general, rather than thinking of it as something to be ashamed of.

            I guess it wasn’t specifically straight pride, because that doesn’t fit as an analogy to gay pride – Catholics (and basically most other Peoples of the Book) never shamed their kids for being straight, they shamed them for having/acting on sexual desires at all.

            But yes, that already happened, and it was a Good Thing.

          • Jack says:

            Hm an unusually frank fallacy for this forum. Catholic sexual guilt is not about being shamed over the object of one’s love being the opposite gender. As Enkidum points out, sex positivity is the word you’re looking for.

      • Zephalinda says:

        Heterosexual sex creates life, but being straight in the sense of wanting to bone hot chicks is just another base appetite, no? Give me a Houyhnhnm-style utopia where people have intercourse solely from a virtuous desire to propagate the species, and then maybe we can start being proud of when and where we get erections.

        • Enkidum says:

          The usual complaint about the Houyhnhnm society is that it’s boring, awful, and totalitarian.

          I guess I’m a big fan of base appetites.

          • Zephalinda says:

            I… don’t think those people read the actual book? “Totalitarian” in particular is 100% contradicted by the text. “Boring” I guess is arguable, but mostly in the way that most people would also find SSC boring.

            I feel like people with romantic notions about the nobility and glamor of the sexual appetite really need to spend more time watching other animals fucking. Or watching themselves fucking, objectively, as though they were another animal, which is really the point of the Houyhnhnms.

          • Enkidum says:

            One source would be Orwell’s essay on Swift.

            For what it’s worth, I’m mostly with you about the lack of nobility and glamour in sex. Still sounds good to me.

        • Randy M says:

          Sure, inclinations are beyond control (though able to be encouraged or discouraged a bit) and so beyond both sensible recrimination and pride.

          Though inasmuch as the common person is tempted towards pride in their intelligence because it allows them to accomplish things easier, they might also be tempted towards the same sort of pride in a heterosexual orientation because it allows them to accomplish things easier.

          But generally pride in an identity doesn’t make a lot of sense. “Gay pride” seems to also include a certain pride in the behavior, though, and I don’t see a lot of reason for anyone else to care about it, whereas reproduction is rather useful in theory, even if easily abused in practice.

    • Aapje says:

      @Zephalinda

      Protestants are the ones who tore the nuns out of the convents to forcibly marry them off, because how could you have women just living together and supporting each other?

      Northern Europe and in particular the Low Countries had Beguines during Catholic times, who were women that lived in a gender-segregated and spiritual way, but were much more free than nuns, having a right to personal property and a right to leave for marriage.

      They typically lived in beguinages, which often was a neighborhood where the houses have their front entrance to a courtyard, with access to that courtyard through a single, guarded gate. Houses typically had multiple women living in it. So it was a female community.

      After protestants came, this more or less continued, but in a much more secular way. So you still had women living close together around a single courtyard, but they no longer formed a religious community.

      So TL;DR: women in various cities in Northern Europe had an option to live in a female community with more freedom than when living in a convent, especially under protestants.

      They should be having sex and making babies, under the watchful eye of their husband and master!

      People of the past don’t really fit these kind of simplistic, mustache-twirling villain stereotypes.

      • Zephalinda says:

        Yeah, sorry, I may have let the rhetoric get away from me there. Super embarrassing given that I’ve been objecting to other people’s overgeneralizations in this very thread!

        My understanding (representative source, see intro) was that the elevation of nuclear family life, and particularly of the conjugal bond, over single celibacy is built into the theology of the Reformation, so that while different localities may have had more or less practical success in permanently dissolving women’s communities, the removal of that way of life as a valid option was always a goal of the movement. The Beguines are interesting, and if you know much about them, I’d be very interested to learn how they fared during subsequent centuries’ periodic freakouts about disorderly women and domestic immorality– were they ever accused of being whorehouses? What was the standard public rationale for their continued existence, or were they just mostly rich/high-status enough to keep living that way whether the authorities liked it or not?

        • Aapje says:

          You have to keep in mind that when you look at history, you can always find people who clash with the structures/norms in place. Very many nuns left the convents when the Anabaptists came around. They seemed to not be very happy and left once an alternative came around.

          So I think that you shouldn’t idealize medieval convents, nor compare them to the modern variants. The women in modern convents have way more alternatives and freedoms. Many women in the past were forced to be nuns, were not allowed to leave and didn’t have decent alternatives anyway.

          The protestant variant of the beguinage was for women who couldn’t or didn’t want to live with their family. Quite a few were privatized welfare, where wealthy donors paid for the housing and a stipend. The women who lived there were both spinsters and widows.

          Beguinage-like housing was also made available for poor people.

          The women-only beguinage had a female landlady who ran the place. She would guard the gate, do administrative tasks and such & would enforce the rules. Of course, this would include behavioral rules, like acting decent.

          A prostitute or woman who would ‘entertain’ men was not allowed to live in the beguinage.

  18. ovid75 says:

    Maybe this is the religion of one social stratum? As in, urban dwelling mostly professional and with a college degree. In that sense this is not like national civic religion or even much like Christianity in its early days.
    I would have thought one thing a ‘real’ religion needs to do is somehow encode within its stories and allegories the social tensions and contradictions within a large nation or empire (most great religions started as imperial religions), thus ‘giving vent’ to those tensions and providing a rich theological and aesthetic language with which to resolve them and reach compromises. I don’t see ‘social justice religion’ doing that because it is monothematic and aesthetically very impoverished. Could a social justice religion produce Gothic architecture or a St Matthew Passion? It seems to cater to and flatter one social group only and regards ‘contradictions’ as anathema. Of course the same could be said of Nascar religion or NRA religion or whatever the flyover equivalent is.
    In fact in a world of modern systems (bureaucracies, credit systems, etc) I’m not sure any religion or civic religion is functionally necessary anymore, so these ‘religion-lite’ phenomena come and go and don’t have a deep resonance with most people or make much difference to their everyday lives except to bolster their narcissism.

    • sovietKaleEatYou says:

      Bach’s Passions were commissioned because the established tradition of elaborate high-church Catholic music needed to be re-worked to make it compatible a new individualistic and Protestant perspective. It is beautiful because Bach was a musical genius who had the resources and awareness of his talent necessary to create masterpieces of this scale.

      Lin Manuel-Miranda’s Hamilton combines the old American Civil religion with the new Social Justice religion (by essentially imagining the founding fathers as black). It is beautiful because Manuel-Miranda is a musical genius who had the resources and awareness of his talent necessary to create masterpieces of this scale.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      Square the aesthetically impoverished bit with all the movies and tv shows being (presumably) made by the Social Justice crowd? Honestly I’m struggling to think of what the anti-SJW people are making that’s at all inspired me or been visually interesting. Conservatives aren’t even really that big on conserving old architecture (in America at least). That’s an urban liberal NIMBY thing. I can easily think of gorgeous films and television shows and plays with Social Justice themes. Isn’t that why people who hate SJW hate them? Because they have control of the Media and Everything because the enemy must at once be ridiculous yet all powerful?

      • Aapje says:

        Honestly I’m struggling to think of what the anti-SJW people are making that’s at all inspired me or been visually interesting.

        How would you know? Anti-SJW is not in itself an ideology.

        Your statement is like arguing that atheists have never made beautiful art, because you know of nice religious art and nice secular art, but no nice explicitly atheist art.

        • FrankistGeorgist says:

          The prefix is anti-, not a-. Antitheist themes pop up all over art. His Dark Materials. The Ring Cycle. A lot of Terry Prachet/Neil Gaiman. Life of Brian. Everything by Pierre Paolo Pasolini. Voltaire. As for atheists, Shostakovich did good work under the Soviets, to keep things limited to music, since St Matthew’s Passion is apparently the thing to beat here. Bartok is challenging but certainly moving/terrifying. I would love to put Satie in here but it looks like his whole found-his-own-religion thing didn’t end with his disillusionment with religion like I’d remembered.

          “Aesthetically impoverished” is a big claim. Christianity did quite well aesthetically. It can rest on those laurels, they’re well earned in my opinion. Those things are not somehow un-beautiful now. But it seems to me that the Hypothetical New Religions under discussion in this thread have lots of money and power and creative people supporting them, so… “aesthetically impoverished?”

          If they’re aesthetically impoverished, who these days is aesthetically rich?

          • Aapje says:

            @FrankistGeorgist

            Firstly, I think that measuring ideological movements solely by their art is a view that many within the movement are going to consider an absurd way to judge them. It’s like judging BP and anti-BP activists by their art rather than their impact on the world in general. Of course, then BP presumably wins. Yet I doubt that anti-BP advocates will think that the art funding outweighs other concerns; let alone that it is the only relevant concern.

            Also, there are two kinds of anti-X, those who:
            – want to preserve the status quo and opposes changes by X
            – want a different change than advocated by X

            The first group’s art is indistinguishable from the art created by those who live the status quo, but don’t fight to defend it. Many anti-SJW advocates fight against the politicizing of parts of society (like media, games, academia, etc) and thus want things to be made as they were in the past.

            The second group may be or feel so embattled that they are effectively acting like the first group, seeking the short term goal of stopping bad change by X and never really getting advocating the change they want very clearly. See communist resistance fighters during WW II. They largely parked their ideals to prevent Hitler from winning.

            Anyway, your view kind of exasperates me. It seems to me that you want to judge society by the superficial, where you would be OK with horrible things, as long as they are aesthetically pleasing.

          • FrankistGeorgist says:

            @Aapje

            I think you’re overthinking my beliefs. I don’t judge anything “solely” by their art. Art is the thing currently under discussion. I’m responding to the claim that Social Justice as a movement is “Aesthetically Impoverished.”

            To your point, fascism definitely isn’t aesthetically impoverished. It’s got tons and tons of style. I don’t agree with it, and I think it’s stylishness is part of why it’s so dangerous. I don’t agree with the tenants of Roman Catholicism, but it isn’t aesthetically impoverished either. And I’m ambivalent about Social Justice, but my claim is that it isn’t aesthetically impoverished.

            Your point about BP “winning” seems to miss me, because I don’t care who wins or not. Just who’s using art as a way to communicate and inculcate their beliefs.

            There is definitely art about how we need to stop politicizing art. To my original point, I don’t think I see that very often these days. Perhaps that’s my failing, or perhaps it’s getting made less. (I started with the notion that Social Justice might have a monopoly on various creative avenues).

            You’re right that the alternatives may prefer not to pursue art as a means of portraying or inculcating their beliefs. In that case I think that’s the time to use the phrase “aesthetically impoverished.” Descriptively, and not necessarily with judgement. Unfortunately, the implications of the word impoverished are precisely the thing I have a problem with in this instance.

          • Aapje says:

            @FrankistGeorgist

            Italian fascism didn’t seem too interested in art. Mussolini stated that “It is far from my idea to encourage anything like a state art. Art belongs to the domain of the individual. The state has only one duty: not to undermine art, to provide humane conditions for artists, to encourage them from the artistic and national point of view.”

            I’m not too impressed by Novecento Italiano. In architecture, the neoclassicism favored by the fascists did regularly exceed kitsch. Then again, Italians are relatively aesthetically minded and Italian fascists should probably be judged relative to that. I’m not sure that they fare well when graded on a curve.

            In contrast, Nazis were very aesthetically minded, which seems to be related very strongly to the purity ideal which actually distinguishes Nazism from fascism. Whereas fascism was much more futuristic, Nazism was more concerned with cleansing society of impure and ugly elements. See their anti-Jewish propaganda which tends to focus a lot on the supposed ugliness of supposed Jewish features.

            I started with the notion that Social Justice might have a monopoly on various creative avenues

            Can you give examples of this?

            What I very commonly see is that SJ advocates try to take over already established creative forms of expression, rather than create something truly new.

            In gaming, the games that came from the anti-GG side were Depression Quest, which is mostly a wall of text, and Revolution 60, which…has an aesthetic.

            PS. Note that the left typically applies a cordon sanitaire to certain beliefs, so art with explicitly anti-SJ messages is probably impossible to make in many systems (like Hollywood). Even a minimalist documentary about MRAs required crowdfunding to finance, as the normal financiers for such movies refused to get involved.

          • FrankistGeorgist says:

            @Aapje

            Everything you’re saying seems in line with what I think. The Italian fascists have a clear architectural aesthetic. The Italians even deigned to keep most of those monuments up since the war. Mussolini wants “to encourage [artists] … from the national point of view.” I don’t care about who wins aesthetically within the fascisms, only that they both have aesthetics. They clearly thought that one way to impress their beliefs and show their power was architecture.

            Mussolini also tore up Rome a la Haussman, putting in grand boulevards for more scenic vistas and army parades, which is the biggest fascist aesthetic it seems to me, and relevant to the original topic of the thread. Creating a civil religion around ogling at the army and the leader driving by.

            Your note about SJ cordoning off territory was what I was referring to initially. “all the movies and tv shows (presumably) made by the Social Justice crowd.” You can seize a market to form a monopoly, not just create one. One of the reasons that the Church had its architecture was that it had the money to pay architects.

            If video games are made by a different crowd, then that tracks for me at least. With self publishing, I imagine literature is less likely to be held by any kind of aesthetic monopoly. But the big publishers probably behave a little more like hollywood, responding to pressures that keep them from getting maximum money.

            Video games like Fallout, GTAV, and Bioshock show how political themes can be transmitted through games, so it’s clearly a fertile area of expression. And it can be employed, presumably, by any number of political ideas and in the service of many aesthetics. Who actually cares to employ it is the question.

            “Create something truly new” will have to wait for VR or something. German fascism was very good about riding the rise of radio and integrating it into its propaganda machine. So was the US.

          • Aapje says:

            @FrankistGeorgist

            The Catholic church had two ways to influence art, though. On the one hand they had a lot of money for art and encouraged individuals to donate religious art works. On the other hand, they had the power to ban certain themes, for example through the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

            I don’t think that the latter means that they get to take credit for secular forms of art that complied with the bans. There is a difference between art that was creating by the movement and art that is permitted to be made by a movement.

            Note that the Catholic Church seems to have lost control when the printing press undercut the monk copying business, just like the internet seems to have undercut the media.

            Finally, I think that counterculture art is often different from the art produced by those in control. It’s typically much more ‘raw’ and when counterculture becomes culture, the resulting sanitizing is often bemoaned by the older crowd. 4chan memery & trolling may be an example of such art. The Pepe aesthetic.

          • FrankistGeorgist says:

            @Aapje

            I think I agree with all of that. Pepe is absolutely an aesthetic. An aesthetic very often reflects the limits placed upon it by competing powers, and the internet is full of places where one can escape the censors. Take the Hays Code in America, which produced some very great films doing everything they could to get around the Hays Code, and ultimately the code fell away when the industry felt competition from a new more foundational threat – home televisions.

            Aesthetics, it seems, has its own Overton Windows.

    • Nancy Lebovitz says:

      To be fair, Christianity was around for quite a while before it started leading to great art.

      • InvalidUsernameAndPassword says:

        Insular Christian art is not too bad…

        • AG says:

          Contemporary Christian worship music is basically an abomination at this point, though, and didactic Christian fiction (your Left Behinds, etc.) isn’t much better.

          The best Christian-ish fiction I’ve seen recently has been from people accidentally reinventing its themes in a secular setting (Person of Interest) or treating it as secular mythology and accidentally finding its themes in service of a good character arc (the Lucifer TV show).

          I did, however, read a pretty great piece of Islam-oriented fiction, though, whose author has experience writing for superhero comics.

          • Plumber says:

            @AG
            "Contemporary Christian worship music is basically an abomination..."

            I disagree, I think you may just be listening to the wrong group of Christisns.

            The music on what self-described “Chritian radio” usually isn’t that good but many R&B stations have “gospel music” shows on Sundays and it’s often sounds better than typical “pop music” that’s played on the radio to me, but I grew up a stone’s throw from a Baptist church with an overwhelmingly African-American congregation, the music of which I grew a fondness for.

          • AG says:

            @Plumber

            Yeah, “contemporary Christian worship music” is a specific genre. Gospel music is good stuff, and folk/country-based Christian music still has its moments. I don’t know much about Christian rap.
            But worship music is mostly these soft-rock abominations that don’t hold a candle next to the old hymns. Literally, some think that worship music needs to be inferior as music, so as not to upstage God. Fucking horrifying.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        To be fair, Christianity was around for quite a while before it started leading to great art.

        How are you defining “great art”? The early Christians didn’t produce monumental public architecture for obvious reasons, but archaeological finds indicate that early churches were often lavishly decorated, with frescoes and mosaics which were every bit as beautiful and competently-executed as those in pagan shrines or private villas.

  19. paulbali says:

    This is good comedy, Scott! An anonymous & asexual atom observes the lascivious masses.

    The happy side of my brain thinks: a Love Parade is the true Christian parade. We traipse a rainbow road toward Utopia.

    The suspicious side says: a monophasic people could hide from itself by proclaiming its love of Diversity. The Parade is loud, to drown the doubts of a monkey Cain who killed his simian siblings.

    The Parade is very old! The Human Pride that slash-&-burned its way thru the biosphere. Now there’s only asphalt [the dead lake of Rome] to trod upon; and only our sad and un-diverse selves to parade before.

  20. Funny you didn’t tag this with “Things I Will Regret Writing,” given how people are going to link it and use it.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      How do you suppose that is? I don’t think anything Scott said was particularly controversial.

      • Not controversial in the sense that most of his posts tagged in that way are, but it will be used by conservatives saying, “look, Scott admitted SJ is a religion”, and Scott is not going to like that.

        • liskantope says:

          I’m pretty sure that in the past I’ve seen Scott explicitly suggest that SJ is a religion in some comments here, if not one of his posts here. It’s not one of the more controversial SJ-related things he’s argued, and maybe he doesn’t particularly mind such an opinion being widely attributed to him.

  21. JPNunez says:

    So it has come to this.

    Vraylar vs Pride.

  22. Watchman says:

    I’d suggest that the post is perhaps confusing religions and festivals. Religion is best understand as a set of mores or behaviours, such as prayer, eating only halal food or repeating the pledge of allegiance. It relates to a commonly-understood set of beliefs and requirements, but is actually generally exercised at a personal level. Religious behaviours for the American civil religion and for social justice (deliberately broad-brushing here) might be flying the stars and stripes at your home or always enquiring as to the correct pronouns to use. Religions tend to involve internal debates, mostly between reformers and hardliners, and outgrouping, but as these probably only actively involve a small portion of adherents at any one time I wouldn’t say the heresy and othering aspect was a defining feature of religion in practice so much as an evolutionary mechanism for religion.

    A festival is an event where people come together to celebrate. It needs to be able to attract people together, so there is likely to be a reason, be it to celebrate the birth of a manifestation of the godhead, to reaffirm you’re a loyal subject of your ruler, to show off how woke you are or because you want to listen to some bands whilst wearing very little clothing in a desert. Some of these reasons are explicitly religious, others less so, but they do show that there is a functioning community of Hindus, patriotic Americans, socially-aware individuals or sunburnt fans of modern music (indeed, there may be people in all four communities at once). That is a festival serves to identify a community. My local village maypole dance does the same for a much smaller community, whilst Easter (the largest religious festival, as the meaning of Christmas is a bit unclear, and Christianity is the biggest religion) unites a huge community.

    So what’s the point I’m making here with this distinction? Both the 4th July and pride are festivals, as comes to that is Guatemala’s Easter parade. Both show a sense of community both in adherence to a wider movement but also as an expression of a local community expressing those values. So far, so much the same as the original post. The jump in the original post’s logic is to assume that attendance at pride is the equivalent of following the US civil religion, rather than simply being accepting enough of the festival’s values to participate without necessarily adopting the full set of mores and behaviours expected of social justice adherents. That is, pride shows a community of tolerance around LGBTQ to the point people are happy to come and celebrate it, but not that the full-on religion of social justice has been adopted. It’s the difference between being a signed-up member of a movement and being relaxed enough around one aspect of that movement that you’re prepared to go and have a party associated with it: it’s a gesture of creating community but not necessarily a statement of belief. Attending pride doesn’t mean the attendees are aiming to get a 500 foot high diorama of the original Stonewall riots erected in Washington to demonstrate their religion. It just means they won’t ostracism those who might think it’s a good idea.

    I’m probably arguing too much of a technicality for a relatively-light-hearted post, but considering we’ve already had a culture war counter strike and a Marzx,st analysis, I’m going to stick with this.

    • Unirt says:

      Religion is best understand as a set of mores or behaviours, such as prayer, eating only halal food or repeating the pledge of allegiance.

      To clarify this minor point, not everybody agrees that’s the best way to understand religion. Social scientists often talk about three aspects of religion: 1) practices, i.e. mores and behaviours, 2) beliefs, and 3) identity. E.g. a person can identify themselves as a christian but lack any relevant practices (praying or church-going) or even beliefs (agnostic about the supernatural stuff, not supporting parts of the moral code). But who are we to tell them that they are not christian, if that’s what they identify with? Anyhow, practices is not uncontroversially the one most important aspect of religion.

    • eigenmoon says:

      This is a very “seeing like a state” view of religion. For most of humanity’s history, there simply wasn’t enough intellectuals to make debates relevant. What mattered for a religion’s survival was how impressive are its ceremonies and which king’s army is bigger. Perhaps in the modern situation in which reasonable political debates seem less and less possible, religion will once again rely on impressiveness of its festivals and on which party’s electorate is bigger.

      Pagan religions especially should not be approached with a predefined scheme such as 1) figure out what exists and why, 2) figure out what we’re supposed to do and feel about it, 3) plan some festival to celebrate it. The festival might be the very core of a pagan religion, and cosmology might be only cared about by a few philosophers.

  23. musicmage4114 says:

    This isn’t really news to anyone with a working knowledge of political theory, but what you’ve (mis)identified here is the recuperation of the gay liberation movement, not “social justice as religion.”

    • eyeballfrog says:

      That article makes it seem like a bad thing, but it sounds like recuperation is the goal of an outsider movement. Get your group considered to be “normal”, then people will stop bothering you.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Assuming the goal of your movement is to stop being bothered. If the goal of your movement is the radical restructuring of society it means the death of your movement.

        • eyeballfrog says:

          I suppose, but that never happens without a lot of violence. Barring that you’ll never win. You just do a little better each time.

  24. baconbits9 says:

    Sorry, sportsball still holds the crown as the American religion. In 2016 when the Clevaland ball-sport playing team won a championship the estimates were between 800,000 and 1.3 million people showed for the championship parade- in a city with only 450,000 residents!

    For all the pomp and spectacle it doesn’t compare if you can actually get there and see the parade, its not a religion unless there is someone a mile and a half away, stuck at the back of the crowd unable to see or hear any of the actual events going on, just to be able to say they were there.

  25. RC-cola-and-a-moon-pie says:

    It’s true that there are certain beneficial community aspects to having some sort of community celebrations fostering cohesion, etc. That’s true whether the event is celebrating Stalin and his purges or the traditional American conception of limited government and individual rights, or anything else. But the salutary effects of having things like parades is a very small thing next to the merits of the worldview that is being celebrated. That’s hugely more important. We would think it pretty simplistic to juxtapose photographs of parades in the Stalinist Soviet Union with parades in the United States at the same time and observe that they have similar characteristics and serve some common functions and just sort of leave it at that, suggesting that maybe it mattered less which was chosen than the fact that some such event was serving the purpose of building a sense of community. So I think the next step really ought to be a merits comparison of a culture predicated on the principles of the American founding versus one predicated on the celebration of various sexual preferences and behaviors. The fact that both are sometimes celebrated with parades by their advocates is the least interesting thing to observe about the two. I think this is especially true since, contrary to the tone of the piece, “social justice” or “sexual orientation pride” have not yet assumed a fully hegemonic control over U.S. culture outside of places like San Francisco and some others. So while there is still a major struggle over what principles we should use to formulate a common social identity, it strikes me as both premature and counterproductive to write as if the outcome is some sort of given and all that is left are post mortems. Anyway, I figured I’d offer a reaction from a conservative reader whose primary response was not just to sputter about “family values.”

    • Paper Rat says:

      Soviet parades didn’t celebrate purges, they mostly celebrated solidarity, freedom, equality and technological progress. That, in some part, is why soviet era ideology was one hell of a drug for impoverished and oppressed masses as well as for a certain kind of idealist intellectual. Believe it or not, there are still people living in modern day Russia who miss that sense of togetherness and righteousness, even after acknowledging all the horrid stuff.

      I suppose, this supports the idea, that communist ideology (as implemented in USSR) was a kind of civic religion, that was used by the ruling classes to control the populace. It’s just, it wasn’t all soul-crushing and oppressive, as often portrayed in the western media, seeing as soul-crushing and oppressive stuff usually lacks the necessary mass appeal. The message itself was uplifting and positive, the practical side of things left a lot to be desired.

      • Bugmaster says:

        To be fair, Soviet parades also had the undertones of, “See these awesome missiles and tanks and guns and the pitiless soldiers who wield them ? Isn’t it nice how they are on your side ? You wouldn’t want to be on the side that stands against them, or even looks at them funny, would you ? That’s right, praise the General Secretary !”

        • Paper Rat says:

          I was thinking more of festival type parades, rather than military ones. There are only two specifically military parade days, that come to mind, one is 9th of May (WWII end), the other is 23rd of February (Army and Navy day). Perception of them is a matter of perspective. I think, at least internally they were thought of as a celebration of the country defenders, rather than a threat of crushing dissent (dissent was crushed by internal affairs type people, not by military, anyways).

          • philwelch says:

            Considering who the Soviets defeated by the 9th of May and what their plans for Eastern Europe were, I have no doubt that it was originally perceived “as a celebration of the country defenders”. Especially in cities like Leningrad or Stalingrad.

            > dissent was crushed by internal affairs type people, not by military, anyways

            At the time this was the NKVD, who were sometimes organized into military units, similar to the Waffen-SS but far less prevalent. The primary motivation for the NKVD divisions was to try and “discourage” the conscripts on the front from deserting or retreating. The Waffen-SS existed because the Nazis didn’t entirely control or trust the Wehrmacht; this was not a problem for Stalin, and to the degree that he imagined that it was, he spent the 1930’s dealing with it in typical Stalinist fashion.

      • RC-cola-and-a-moon-pie says:

        I have no objection to someone defending the Stalinist Soviet Union on its merits (although it would be difficult to express how profoundly I disagree with such an opinion). That’s the central point I was trying to make; you have to be willing to discuss the underlying concepts being celebrated rather than the parade itself. On the merits, I don’t have any basis to opine on whether the purges were explicitly made subjects of Soviet parades of the era per se, but there is no question that insufficient zeal in expressing support for the purges would lead to one’s prompt arrest and, usually, murder, whether you were a peasant, a Party leader, or anywhere in between.

        • Paper Rat says:

          … there is no question that insufficient zeal in expressing support for the purges would lead to one’s prompt arrest and, usually, murder, whether you were a peasant, a Party leader, or anywhere in between.

          There are a lot of accounts, how people were scared to even talk between themselves in private about someone who was arrested by the NKVD. That was a good way to get yourself noticed by the state. So I don’t know where your “no question” comes from.

          I’m fairly certain, most people weren’t even fully aware of the extent of the purges. Unless the purged person in question was a very public figure, who couldn’t be disposed of quietly, the MO seemed to be to not let anyone know of the incident at all. That’s why there are whole investigation teams searching for traces of information about victims of repressions, lots of documents concerning repressions are still classified.

          I’m not even trying to defend Stalin’s reign, though it’s more complex, than the usual “evil overlord” narrative presented, but the perception that the majority of the population somehow knowingly supported the brutality of the regime, seems very wrong to me.

  26. Conrad Honcho says:

    I can hear my conservative readers getting apoplectic: what about families?

    Indeed. And homosexuals tend not to have them. The children in attendance were likely not fruit of a coupling between two men or between two ladies. There were probably very few children there, as urbanites in general have fewer children. 4th of July parades and Easter parades tend to be teeming with children.

    You’re missing the distinction between civic religion of Pride and the religion-religion of Christianity or the civic religion of American patriotism: the latter two celebrate memeplexes that tends towards health, success, happiness and reproduction. Homosexuals, however, have higher rates of disease, depression, and suicide, and certainly childlessness.

    Maybe a decade or a century from now, it has all the best values.

    Or it doesn’t exist at all because the people swept up by it failed to reproduce and pass their values on, while the Mormons, the Amish, the Catholics, and the Patriots kept pumping out Mormon, Amish, Catholic and Patriotic babies.

    I’m very happy for the homosexuals and their parades. Good for them. But for everybody else…maybe in choosing your civic religion, one that has as its central divine sacrament the risky sexual fetish of 2-4% of the population is less than ideal?

    • eyeballfrog says:

      Alternatively, these sorts of evolutionary pressures could cause Pride to move in a more family values-oriented direction. Chastity, monogamy, and adopting or having children through surrogacy/sperm donors are all things that at least some gay people do now, even if it’s not exactly the dominant view of Pride. But the future belongs to those who show up, and those are the gay people who are going to be showing up in the end.

    • JPNunez says:

      Somehow religiosity on america is falling down so I don’t think having babies is a necessary or sufficient condition to perpetuate your own religion.

      Or do you think Jupiter/Zeus worshippers did not have kids?

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        But the religious are still having kids. The declining birthrates in America are not evenly distributed.

        • JPNunez says:

          That should only make you even more worried, as the younger generations are even more irreligious. Which means a decent part of those religious babies are turning their coat against their parents.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m not sure that’s true. About Generation Z:

            Religion. Gen Zers’ participation in religion is up compared with previous generations. When asked about spirituality, 47 percent said they were religious, and an additional 31 percent said they were spiritual but not religious. Church attendance is also up during young adulthood, with 41 percent saying they attend weekly religious services, compared with 18 percent of millennials at the same ages, 21 percent of Generation X, and 26 percent of baby boomers.

            Emphasis mine, just to head off somebody saying “they’re kids dragged to church by religious parents.” These are young adults compared at the same ages. I think it’s survivorship bias, which will be amplified in the future. Conforming to religious practice results in families and children. We used to force everybody to conform. Now we don’t and the nonconformists will dwindle and die out, leaving only the true believers. The nonconformists will burn brightly at their Pride parades, but fizzle out in a generation.

            My progressive, atheist brother: no kids. My conservative, Catholic sister and I: 5 kids between us. With different people, natch. We’re southern, but we ain’t that southern.

          • JPNunez says:

            I am seeing conflicting reports, but I find weird we have results on young adult genZers so soon, given the oldest ones are 20 at most, and at the time of the study they’d be 17.

            Which is an interesting definition of “young adult”

          • Gobbobobble says:

            Which is an interesting definition of “young adult”

            At least hereabouts, Young Adult generally refers to (post?)pubescent but before age of majority (whether 18 or 21 is fuzzy to me, the US has that weird two-tiered thing)

            In other words: high schoolers, with a year or two’s bleed up and down

          • JPNunez says:

            Ah, depends on definition; I saw many defining them as 1999 onwards, but some people say 1995/7 onwards.

            Sometimes, when religion starts to fail, people double down on ortodoxy and fanaticism. See, sects that survive the prophecized end of the world, which instead of disbanding just become more adepts. Maybe there is a sector of gen z that is living this, as another part of them becomes less religious.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Still comparing same age.

            I’m just making predictions based on observations and my understanding of cultural evolution. And this extends beyond Pride to progressivism in general. Take every cultural meme that deals with or influences reproduction and see which side is “likely to lead to more reproduction” and which side is “less likely to lead to more reproduction.” Then figure out which side the Blue Tribe or the progressives take, and which side the Red Tribe or conservatives take. I can’t think of any where the “more reproduction” side lines up with Blue/progressive instead of red/conservative.

            Marriage / Marrying young / More / Red
            Advanced education for women / Less / Blue
            Female careerism / Less / Blue
            Birth control / casual sex / Less / Blue
            Abortion / Less / Blue
            Homosexuality / Less / Blue
            Transgenderism / Less / Blue

            Divorce seems kind of neutral to me. Plenty of divorcing and remarrying protestants, and maybe people are more likely to have kids if they leave a bad marriage? Not sure.

            I don’t see how you make a surviving religion where, when you apply the memeplex to a population, it results in fewer and fewer people each generation. I don’t see many Shakers around these days for the same reason.

            The job for conservative or Red Tribe parents is “keep your kids away from the progressive stuff and ride out the storm for a generation.”

            ETA: Here’s another one. BirthStrike: The people refusing to have kids, because of ‘the ecological crisis’. Who do you think is going to fall for this one? It’s not going to be Republicans I don’t think.

          • JPNunez says:

            Cultural evolution is exactly that: Cultural. It does not depend on genes or reproduction, but in memes and conversion. Christianity did not become the predominant religion of the roman empire by staging a demographic attack, but simply by being more appealing to people.

            Some christian churches are adapting and trying to be less fanatic against lgbt people. Dunno if they are going to survive. Europe has been ahead of the curve on this, and they weren’t being replaced by more conservative families which had more kids.

            Well, until recently a strong muslim immigration started.

            And what’s going to happen with those immigrants? Some of them will stay ortodox, some of them will adapt, some will leave religion. The final state of religion in europe is uncertain, but I somehow doubt it will become muslim on a demographic attack. Particularly if the world manages to stop the causes of the immigration. Me thinks the hardcore muslims will slowly like having better incomes, let their woman get jobs, those women won’t go silent on any abuse because they can see the rest of the non-muslim women not take abuse silently, and go a little more progressive one step at a time.

            Or some of them will go more observant!

            It’s fine.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Cultural evolution is exactly that: Cultural. It does not depend on genes or reproduction, but in memes and conversion.

            I’m pretty sure it’s both. Culture and political affiliation are highly heritable.

          • Lignisse says:

            Conrad, you’ve put “birth control” and “casual sex” on the same line, and I can’t see why. There’s plenty of people who do each of these things without the other. Obviously they’re correlated but so are a lot of the other individual items on your list. I think these two lines should be:

            Birth control / Less / Blue
            Casual sex / More / Blue

          • JPNunez says:

            I’m pretty sure it’s both. Culture and political affiliation are highly heritable.

            It is, but if it was locked in, we’d be worshipping Zeus still.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Lignisse, I don’t think casual sex leads to more children. People use birth control so they can have casual sex at young ages instead of having to get married either in order to get the sex or because of a pregnancy. Tinder up, birth rates down.

          • Dedicating Ruckus says:

            @Lignisse

            Casual sex leading to lots of children (between mostly-unattached parents) is not really a characteristic of Blue (or of Red). It’s a characteristic of various underclass populations, especially non-white ones, which while they may vote D for contingent reasons are not Blue in the sociological sense.

            Insofar as Blue engages in lots of casual sex, it’s only to the degree that they also use birth control (and/or abortion-as-birth-control). You may have the occasional child born from Blue casual sex, but that’s a failure mode, not the normal or intended outcome of the cultural practice.

          • philwelch says:

            The question is whether the natalist religionists will outbreed the secular humanists faster than their children will convert to secular humanism.

          • salvorhardin says:

            Meh, if conservatism/traditionalism were all that heritable, and keeping your kids away from liberal “temptations” all that workable, it wouldn’t be the case that the conservatives of today are mostly to the left of the liberals of 1800; but it is.

            Also, you’re implicitly assuming that traditionalists will continue to be legally allowed to have as many kids as they please and raise those kids in the traditionalist manner and not have them taken away on the grounds that traditionalist parenting is ipso facto abusive. I wouldn’t be so sure.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            @philwelch

            Given the study I linked earlier it seems to be the case that the natalists win. I’ve also seen another study I can dig up if you’re interested that political conversion is a bi-directional 30% thing. You’re assuming it’s only the religious kids who walk out on their parents and ignore the children of non-binary gender fluid transparents who scream “screw you, indeterminate parental units, I’m going to start a business! And there’s only two genders!” before slamming the door on their way out to the country.

          • The Nybbler says:

            the children of non-binary gender fluid transparents who scream “screw you, indeterminate parental units, I’m going to start a business! And there’s only two genders!” before slamming the door on their way out to the country.

            Ah, the modern versions of Alex P. Keaton. Never actually met any in the wild, but I guess I wouldn’t, being in northern New Jersey. The stereotype is that the people who leave the blue areas _don’t_ actually act red; instead, they vote to make their new area more blue. (e.g. “don’t Californicate [other state]”)

          • Conrad Honcho says:
          • Eponymous says:

            I’m pretty sure it’s both. Culture and political affiliation are highly heritable.

            It is, but if it was locked in, we’d be worshipping Zeus still.

            I’ve heard that while the particular religion one follows is not really heritable (mostly follows family/culture), level of religiosity *is* hereditary. So it’s possible that atheist/religious will be hereditary whereas Pagan/Christian were not.

            In any event, you have to think we’re going to see a steady rise of pro-natalist memes/genes in the coming generations just on Darwinian grounds, though these need not take the form of religion. Society and individuals will evolve resistance to anti-natalist memes, and the memes will evolve into less virulent forms over time.

    • FrankistGeorgist says:

      Recall that the early Christian churches were pretty wild. Talk of imminent apocalypse, rites with cannibalistic undertones, obsession over a human sacrifice, being sorta-Jewish. It’s clearly some latent stuff within Christianity too since heresies involving celibacy and self-mutiliation and end-is-nigh-ness and mosaic law like to crop up from time to time. “Family values” doesn’t really square with “take therefore no thought for the morrow.”

      Patricians have always been baffled at why a motley crew like the slaves and the poor and the rich widows might want to change from a system that served the patricians so well up til now.

    • Leonard says:

      It’s true that homosexuals are extremely non-reproductive, but this is generally true of progressives, straight or not (as compared to the general population). Indeed, it is even more generally true of almost all modern Americans (as compared to our ancestors). But I do agree with you that as a religion, progressivism is getting reproduction wrong. Furthermore, I cannot imagine it getting it right, at least given current technology. Actual higher-than-replacement fertility requires women to be pregnant and have babies — which is sexist. It probably also pretty much requires having babies young — young by modern standards anyway. And it probably also requires women staying home with children.

      It’s hard to see how a religion that does not achieve replacement fertility will survive into the long run.

    • If all the “best values” are austere and productivity based, then maybe as Pride becomes more and more of an institution, the needs of the institution will start to supercede the initial value system, just as occured with Christianity. Is it beyond wacky to suggest that perhaps in 100 years an official state church of Pride will be pairing off lesbians and gays to do their solemn and holy duty of breeding?

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Yes, that is beyond wacky. The Official State Church of Pride must still make detente with the Femtocracy, to whom suggesting a woman might want to have a child is not done.

    • AG says:

      Homosexuals, however, have higher rates of disease, depression, and suicide, and certainly childlessness.

      Correlation-causation fallacy. If anything, this fact is what resolves the above thread about whether or not the gays are still an oppressed population.
      Technology also renders the last concern moot, as the gays could make up the difference with IVF…if they had the financial standing to do so. But see again that part about oppression. Perhaps instead of discouraging their existence, pro-fertility culture should be promoting that the gays should have children, too?

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Correlation-causation fallacy. If anything, this fact is what resolves the above thread about whether or not the gays are still an oppressed population.

        There are obvious biological reasons why anal sex should lead to greater levels of disease and other health risks (such as tearing the anus), so claiming that this is all due to oppression seems like motivated reasoning. Ditto childlessness. As for depression and suicide, these are all much higher for gays vs. straights even in countries and areas noted for having liberal attitudes towards homosexuality.

        Technology also renders the last concern moot, as the gays could make up the difference with IVF…if they had the financial standing to do so. But see again that part about oppression.

        IVF is very expensive — £5,000 per cycle here in the UK, and of course a given cycle isn’t guaranteed to be successful — and “Not having spare cash to blow on fertility treatment” is a very unusual definition of “oppression”. And even if you do have the requisite money lying around, making babies naturally and for free still beats doing so via an expensive medical procedure.

        Perhaps instead of discouraging their existence, pro-fertility culture should be promoting that the gays should have children, too?

        Perhaps society shouldn’t be spending its money encouraging people to separate their children from (one of) their biological parents and inculcate their disease-, depression-, and suicide-correlated memeplexes into the next generation.

        • soritical says:

          Perhaps society shouldn’t be spending its money encouraging people to separate their children from (one of) their biological parents and inculcate their disease-, depression-, and suicide-correlated memeplexes into the next generation.

          in what sense is the Pride memeplex associated with depression and suicide? Disease is perfectly understandable, liberating gay people clearly has the unintended effect of promoting infectious disease. But gay people and Pride are not identical, so a link between gayness and mental illness does not show a link between Pride and mental illness. For now at least, gays will exist regardless of whether we are Proud, and presumably we will be depressed either way as well, unless you mean to say that oppressed gays are happier.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            in what sense is the Pride memeplex associated with depression and suicide?

            Meaningless hedonism leaves one depressed and suicidal, and these are things the gay lifestyle advocates and celebrates. Maybe they’ll stop and get all celibate and heteronormative but probably not.

          • soritical says:

            I’m not at all convinced that promiscuity (I imagine this is what you are referring to by the expression “meaningless hedonism”, although perhaps you mean to include drug use as well) is the main cause of the gay – straight mental health gap. I believe the gap appears at a younger age than it is common for gay people to start having sex. Minority stress models or biological theories of the disparity seem more plausible to me. (The first possibility has been explored by researchers in possibly hundreds of articles, and the problem of gay mental health disparities in liberal countries has been explained away in a variety of perhaps convoluted ways, the second seems underdeveloped). In my opinion it’s likely that there are a multitude of causes, promiscuity may very well be one of them.

            Regardless, I find it hard to believe that the alternative to Pride is better for the mental health of gay people. This is pretty bizarre to me, and I think it defies common sense. The mental anguish gay people experience in homophobic communities is obvious to anyone who has ever spoken to a gay person about their experiences with homophobia.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            As Conrad Honcho says, meaningless hedonism leaves one depressed and suicidal, and the gay community is all-in with this sort of thing.

            Also, we don’t have a particularly clear idea of what causes homosexuality, but it seems to be a combination of biological and environmental factors. So a child raised by a pair of homosexuals will probably be more likely to end up homosexual himself, and hence to suffer from increased risk of disease, depression, and suicide in later life.

            ETA:

            Regardless, I find it hard to believe that the alternative to Pride is better for the mental health of gay people. This is pretty bizarre to me, and I think it defies common sense. The mental anguish gay people experience in homophobic communities is obvious to anyone who has ever spoken to a gay person about their experiences with homophobia.

            As pointed out below, gay mental health hasn’t improved significantly despite their social position switching from “You have to keep it quiet or you’ll be fired” to “People who disagree with what you do have to keep it quiet or they’ll be fired”. So whether or not the alternative to Pride is better for the mental health of gay people, it doesn’t appear to be noticeably worse.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Regardless, I find it hard to believe that the alternative to Pride is better for the mental health of gay people. This is pretty bizarre to me, and I think it defies common sense.

            I don’t have an alternative to Pride and am not suggesting one. I do however balk at the suggestion that the reason homosexuals have mental health problems is because I’m not waving their flag hard enough. I think their mental health problems are more likely baked into their lifestyle and lack of teleology. Me waving their flag harder is not going to help that. I think they’re going to keep doing the things they’ve been doing, keep getting the results they’ve been getting, and I’m going to continue not being very surprised.

          • soritical says:

            @The original Mr. X

            As Conrad Honcho says, meaningless hedonism leaves one depressed and suicidal, and the gay community is all-in with this sort of thing.

            Again, I find this explanation of the gap hard to square with the fact that it begins at a young age. Gay youth actually have sex later than their straight peers, shouldn’t we find then that straight kids momentarily have worse mental health before the trend switching? Also, how does it apply to lesbians, who don’t seem to participate in casual sex at elevated rates, but do suffer from more mental illness?

            whether or not the alternative to Pride is better for the mental health of gay people, it doesn’t appear to be noticeably worse.

            This may very well be true, in which case the only question that remains is whether children of gay parents are more likely to suffer from mental illness.

            I am worried that the notion of mental health being used in this discussion is a bit narrow. Most gays will tell you that they’re glad they can bring their boyfriend or girlfriend to Thanksgiving dinner without being harshly judged, etc. So there must be some broader notion of mental well-being under which Pride helps gay people, even if it doesn’t show up in the form of improved psychiatric results.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I am worried that the notion of mental health being used in this discussion is a bit narrow. Most gays will tell you that they’re glad they can bring their boyfriend or girlfriend to Thanksgiving dinner without being harshly judged, etc. So there must be some broader notion of mental well-being under which Pride helps gay people, even if it doesn’t show up in the form of improved psychiatric results.

            The problem with that is that people aren’t necessarily very good at guessing how happy they’d be in counterfactuals. Like, I’m sure if you asked them most heterosexuals would say that they’re glad they can have sex with whomever they want without oppressive societal norms standing in their way, but judging by the statistics having sex with whomever you want is going to make you less happy, not more. It may be that these people are enjoying improved mental health in some way that doesn’t show up in self-report surveys or mental illness rates, but I think it’s probably more likely that most people are just plain not very good at saying how happy they’d be in X situation.

            (For another illustration, most people would probably say that they’d be happier if they had more money, but from the data I’ve seen, once you’re above a level where you no longer have to regularly worry about making ends meet, extra wealth doesn’t make a noticeable difference. Again, I saw a survey indicating that people who suffer disabling injuries, after an initial period of unhappiness, tend to bounce back to their previous levels, although if you asked the average person “Do you think you’d be less happy with a long-term disability?” they’d almost certainly answer “yes”.)

          • soritical says:

            @The original Mr. X

            It’s not just a hypothetical preference, many gays have experienced both homophobic and non-homophobic environments, and they almost universally prefer non-homophobic ones. Nobody likes being subject to social stigma or violence, to the extent that gays living in homophobic societies experience these things, they’re going to be worse off. Kids who experience support from their parents feel relieved, kids who experience rejection feel very bad. This stuff matters, even if it doesn’t end up affecting measured rates of mental illness or life satisfaction. I think following the reasoning you’re using would have really bizarre policy implications, not just for gay issues. Should we spend less on preventing disabilities? Maybe you’re fine with this, but it’s very counterintuitive. Day-to-day happiness and overall life satisfaction are very different things, and it seems pretty obvious to me that since gay people in homophobic societies are going to be subjected to a variety of stressors, they’re going to be less happy on a day to day basis.

            Also, it’s not like there are no studies showing the negative mental health impact of homophobia. It’s not as clear as “this country is liberal, so gays here are happier”, but for example there are definite associations between homophobic bullying and negative mental health in gay youth. There is a very large body of scientific literature on the relationship between social stigma and mental health in gay people.

          • Jack says:

            +1 soritical; and while we’re playing this game, since it is true that people are not very good at predicting how they will feel under counterfactuals I’d like to see the evidence that the kind of social ostracization that people worried about SJWs say they fear has any relevant effects. I mean, I know there are people who have lost their jobs and such and they sure whine a lot, but only one side of this argument believes in the epistemological value of lived experience so… I mean it’s pretty hilarious to be like, “getting diseases and being hedonistic and being depressed are all definitely bad, but being kicked out of your home or fired from your job by your homophobic parents or boss? I want data!”

          • The original Mr. X says:

            @ Soritical:

            Well, then, I guess the most obvious explanation would be that the behaviours associated with gay culture balance out any gains. E.g., maybe there are fewer people feeling depressed due to being kicked out by their parents, but people are more likely to indulge in high levels of promiscuity and become depressed for that reason instead.

          • soritical says:

            Why think that the cons balance out the pros? Maybe they do when we’re talking about rates of mental disorders and overall life satisfaction, but I’ve been arguing that those are incomplete measures of mental well being. Did black people under slavery have much higher rates of depression than free blacks? I’m also not convinced that there have been zero mental health gains for gay people since gay liberation, do you have a source to back that up? It’s possible that this is an illusion, it’s probably the case that closeted gay people in the 50s and 60s were suffering a lot.

            And again, it’s not obvious at all that gay culture is the main cause of the mental health disparity, when we find that it begins in adolescence, even in kids who haven’t started having sex yet, and who aren’t involved in the gay community.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I mean it’s pretty hilarious to be like, “getting diseases and being hedonistic and being depressed are all definitely bad, but being kicked out of your home or fired from your job by your homophobic parents or boss? I want data!”

            No, I want data because gays keep pushing for laws to make it illegal to fire people for being gay but can’t show me anybody in the secular world fired for being gay.

          • soritical says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            You want data on it being bad, or you want data on it happening?

            It did happen, in the olden days, before Pride.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Yes, but part of this discussion is whether mental health problems suffered by homosexuals are “because society” or “because homosexuality/the homosexual lifestyle.” I completely agree that no one should be fired for their sexuality, and that if one were fired for such a reason that would be likely to cause depression, but I see no evidence homosexuals are losing their jobs on account of their homosexuality in the last 15 or so years, outside very specific circumstances like religious schools or the military before the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

            So if gays are depressed in the 2010s because they’re losing their jobs or are stressed out because they may lose their jobs because they’re gay, you’ll need to show me some evidence anyone is being fired for being gay.

          • soritical says:

            I don’t think that gays are depressed because they’re losing their jobs or worried about that. I was responding to The original Mr. X’s suggestion that social acceptance hasn’t improved the well-being of gay people.

            I don’t know why gay people are depressed in the 2010’s, but I think promiscuity is not the main reason, for reasons I’ve already mentioned.

          • Jack says:

            I might as well say that I think a lot of the motivation for anti-discrimination laws in relatively good times/places is to codify and reinforce, and also express and symbolize, an existing norm. These motivations will strike libertarians as insufficient justification to add another law to the books, but they speak to people who are worried about a) backsliding, b) the last 5% of cases where it still happens, or c) a legal system openly committed to equality. The claim that discrimination already doesn’t happen would seem to undercut most consequentialist criticisms of an anti-discrimination law, since it will never come up and so have few consequences. Clearly homophobia can make people feel bad even if they do not suffer a specific instance of homophobic practice (consider people who successfully closet themselves and so never get hate crimed). This is a reason to go around saying, “no homophobia allowed” even if homophobia already mostly doesn’t happen, though perhaps we should focus on saying “don’t worry you won’t be homophobiaed”.

            As to examples of people being fired for being way too gay, a quick internet search will provide them. I think though if I cited any of them people would contest the facts. (And yes, in so far as you think these cases are all misinterpretations and not actually about homophobia at all, that gives a good reason to oppose certain forms of anti-discrimination law as overbroad.)

            In so far as this part of the thread is about whether we should continue to do things to reduce homophobic thought and practice, it still seems like there are weakly evidenced claims on both sides about what makes people depressed: meaningless hedonism? homophobia? the terrible yoke of anti-discrimination laws that will never come up?

          • hls2003 says:

            the terrible yoke of anti-discrimination laws that will never come up?

            You must not work in HR, insurance, the plaintiff’s bar, or employment defense. If we added a “protected class” of people that consisted solely of “one’s second toe is longer than one’s big toe,” though approximately zero people in the U.S. have actually been fired for that (foot models maybe?) the cost of the law would nevertheless be enormous.

        • Ozy Frantz says:

          The health risks of anal sex would not affect women, who are (after all) fifty percent of the lesbian, gay, and bisexual population. Heterosexuality is straightforwardly riskier than homosexuality for women. (Did you know that pelvic organ prolapse is a common postpartum complication that affects about a third of all women? I can do this all day.)

        • brianmcbee says:

          Anal sex has higher health risks regardless of whether the participants are homosexual or heterosexual. Promiscuity has higher health risks regardless of whether the participants are homosexual or heterosexual.

          > disease-, depression-, and suicide-correlated memeplexes

          That is so far outside the way my mind works that I don’t even know how to respond to that kind of thinking.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Anal sex has higher health risks regardless of whether the participants are homosexual or heterosexual. Promiscuity has higher health risks regardless of whether the participants are homosexual or heterosexual.

            Yes, and I think it’s a bad idea for heterosexuals to do those things, too. What’s your point?

          • Ozy Frantz says:

            You don’t have to have anal sex to be a gay man. It seems like your position could very well be “homosexuality is fine, but no one should have anal sex.”

          • John Schilling says:

            That has, I believe, been a very common position historically and possibly the most common sort of opposition to homosexuality. OK, probably “anal sex or blow jobs, at least with other men”, but is there a significant population of gay men who fellate one another but don’t engage in anal sex?

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Correlation-causation fallacy. If anything, this fact is what resolves the above thread about whether or not the gays are still an oppressed population.

        These issues do not appear to have markedly improved over the last 20 years whereas gay tolerance, acceptance and celebration have done a night and day shift. You would think the dramatic reversal of “societal outcasts” to “literally everyone is required to sing your praises or be ostracized” would make a difference, but it does not seem to have done so.

        I posit the cause is the lifestyle of meaningless hedonism itself.

        My anecdotal evidence is my own experience. While I’m heterosexual and have never had a homosexual experience, I spent part of my 20s partying and womanizing. It was amazing for the first 15 girls or so and then I was miserable and wanted to die until I resolved to find a single good woman to settle down with.

        • AG says:

          Perhaps because “countries” is still entirely too broad a category? The primary controlling variable here should be class. Do upper class gays have the same rates as upper class hets? Indeed, given that attitudes towards trans people haven’t made the same amount of turnaround, the trans population have worse outcomes than even the gays.

          In addition, the meaningless hedonism was itself rooted in the oppression. The AIDS crisis drove the “YOLO we all die tomorrow” attitude, and the normalization of homosexuality has led to more and more gays integrating into relatively more respectable lifestyles. You can find lots of gays now who proudly (pun intended) proclaim their not attending Pride because the heavy partying isn’t their thing.

          The hedonism of Pride is not unique to Pride, but an extension of the cooption of all things into meaningless hedonism by a market that makes money off of it. A thread above this notes how there’s just as much of the same partying for things such as St. Patrick’s Day, Chinese New Years, and Local Sports Team Wins Thing. Traditionalism doesn’t hedge against those things, rather, once established firmly enough, it defends the continuing of those hedonistic rituals.

          The gays spend just as much time desiring to find a single good person to settle down with.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The gays spend just as much time desiring to find a single good person to settle down with.

            Are there any good statistics on this? I went looking for some but googling for “statistics on gay promiscuity” finds a bunch of Christian blogs citing some survey from 1978 about 20-odd percent of gay men having over 1000 sex partners and most of them having over 100, and then gay advocates calling this a myth because of some OKCupid survey that says they all have less than 20, just like straights. This does not jive with my perception of reality, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

            Are there any good, modern statistics about gay male promiscuity?

          • soritical says:

            @Conrad Honcho

            I would be very surprised as well. The first study I could find was link text

            It contradicts the claim I made that gay men start having sex later.

            Edit: oops, it doesn’t appear to be modern, the data is from the late 90s

          • AG says:

            2015, queer women only, 8000+ responses. Over 70% definitely have less than 15 partners.

            However, there are likely even less than that. Likely due to selection effects, only 30% of those responses listed themselves as not in a relationship. However, the 2016 general survey for the site reported 46% single, though they don’t report the number of responses, other than a preliminary “over 3000” in another post. A 2018 survey on the site on another topic had over 12K responses. (Given, single people could still be having sex.)

          • Nornagest says:

            It wouldn’t surprise me if the norms around this changed a lot between 1978 and whenever the OKCupid survey was done. There was that little AIDS thing, for one…

            On the other hand, OKCupid isn’t exactly a great source either.

    • Douglas Knight says:

      A Catholic condemning priests for not reproducing?

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        …no? What are you getting at? The vast vast vast vast majority of the billion Catholics are not priests and are not expected to be.

        • soritical says:

          I think the point is that Pride doesn’t meaningfully affect population growth much more than the Catholic priesthood does, because both only apply to a small minority.

          • Plumber says:

            @soritical,
            It will be a long route but I’ll explain how “Pride” is anti-natal (SPOILER!: the rent is too damn high).

            San Francisco is in a boom economy, people are coming (and leaving) by the thousands, no where else have I seen so many Tesla’s and tents of the homeless (admittedly I don’t travel much), and housing is very expensive here.

            The link between housing prices and birthrates in the U.S.A. is pretty clear, women who live in cheaper areas tend to have their first babies younger than women who live in more expensive areas, and usually less children overall.

            The reputation for tolerance (and indeed celebration) of homosexuality that San Francisco has increases the demand to live here, yes while there are also those repelled by that, but they have a world of places to go, and while other American big cities aren’t too different on that score (even Salt Lake City has a “Pride” Parade), they don’t have the worldwide reputation that SF has, so demand is even higher, driving up rents, driving down births, as San Francisco now has the smallest percentage of it’s population being children than it has ever been in recorded history.

            But I suspect there’s more too it than just that, in the “blue tribe” culture, artistic expression, career success, academic success, being an “unique individual” are lauded.

            In my (admittedly based on stereotypes) understanding of the “red tribe” church-going and parenthood are more esteemed (and by “tribes” I don’t mean Democrats and Republicans, I’m well aware of red tribe Democrats, and blue tribe Republicans as well as the opposites), and simply put, if you come from a large family and are embedded in a church community especially one that has othet parents of young children who will trade off with you, it’s just easier to get babysitters, and you’re just more likely to have an additional child if you have help.

            It’s not malicious, but it’s real.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Is the argument that gays at the Pride parade are the priest class? I don’t think that holds because while the priests themselves may not reproduce, they give homilies on the importance of families and children, they officiate weddings and baptisms and the like. I don’t think the gays are particularly involved in facilitating or encouraging the reproduction of others but the priests very much are.

          • Randy M says:

            Is the argument that gays at the Pride parade are the priest class?

            Looks at post title
            I think it is.

          • blumenko says:

            @conrad. The role of gay uncle or guncle still exists. And gays are also the priests giving sermons about allowing your children to be who they are, this allowing the reproduction of out LGBTers and Pride.

          • blumenko says:

            @plumber Perhaps Pride is antinatal for SF, but people moving there leads to lower rents elsewhere and I guess higher birthrate. It really is a zero-sum game.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            The role of gay uncle or guncle still exists

            I thought that was a myth.

  27. Alex M says:

    The trouble with “social justice as a religion” is that it puts straight white males at the bottom of the social status hierarchy. Like many people in this country, I happen to be a straight white male, which means that I have no incentive to support this system – on the contrary, it is in my best interests to dismantle it as quickly as possible. I don’t buy into any system that doesn’t allow me to reach the top echelon. Why would I? I consider myself smarter and better than most other people, and there’s nothing wrong with trying to realize my ambitions. The world should be governed by the smartest and best among us. Maybe this planet wouldn’t be such an absolute shitshow on the path to complete environmental destruction if we actually allowed TALENT and INTELLIGENCE to rise to the top, instead of selecting leadership on totally arbitrary qualifications.

    For a religion to spread, people need an INCENTIVE to buy into it. What’s my incentive? Support this religion, so that a bunch of hysterical pink-haired weirdos can shriek at me to “check my privilege?” I’d much rather support a religion where rude idiots who shriek at me get my boot on their throat. This religion seems like it was expressly designed to position a minority of the population ABOVE the majority, which means that it’s not mathematically sustainable. Eventually the majority will say “Wait a minute, we have all the firepower here, why are we letting ourselves get pushed around by people whom we don’t even like very much? Maybe we should just kill them all and put OURSELVES in power.” You know, basically the same social dynamics as literally every group in history. It’s not pretty, but neither is human nature.

    For social justice to spread, the demonization of straight white males needs to stop, otherwise people like me have no incentive to buy in – on the contrary, we are incentivized to destroy it. And for the demonization of straight white males to stop, liberals need to actively punish the people who demonize straight white males (ie, the Sarah Jeongs of this world), otherwise THEY have no incentive to change their behavior. In other words, this religion is not sustainable in its current format because it is bigoted and discriminatory against the majority – which is possibly the only move dumber than being bigoted and discriminatory against the minority. And most importantly from MY perspective, it is bigoted and discriminatory against ME, which means that as far as I am concerned, it needs to either change or die. I have nothing against any minority, and I think many of the tenets of social justice are good. I fully support equality for everybody! But the one issue I have with your “social justice religion” – the fact that it defaults to putting smart people like me at the bottom of the social status hierarchy – well, that is a real BIG dealbreaker. I have zero tolerance for games which are rigged against me from the start. If the social justice movement ever eliminates the unpleasant SJWs who keep pushing the “Old White Dude BAD!” tagline and instead becomes a more meritocratic place where intelligent people of any race, gender, or sexuality (including my own) can talk down to dumb people of any race, gender, or sexuality (no matter how many “oppressed” characteristics they happen to have) without being accused of “racism,” “sexism,” or any other type of “-ism”… at that point, I’d be willing to reconsider my position. Until then, I oppose this movement because it discriminates against me. I hope to talk down to a lot of dumb assholes during the course of my life, and I don’t particularly feel like factoring in what ethnicity, gender, or sexuality they are when determining whether to call them out on their bullshit.

    • The Nybbler says:

      First, straight white males are not a majority. Straight people are a majority, white people are a majority in the US (barely, if you separate Hispanics as SJ does), males are a slight minority. Put them all together and straight white non-Hispanic males are less than a quarter of the population.

      Second, there’s a lot of straight white males who subscribe to SJ. SJ’s institutions (especially public schools and the media) spend a lot of effort demonizing straight white males, making them feel guilty. This allows you to have people who actively participate in the “marginalization and oppression” of their own group, with their incentive being to expiate their own collective guilt.

      Third, a minority ruling a majority is a rather common situation historically.

      I’d much rather support a religion where rude people who shriek at me get my boot on their throat.

      “Rude” is in the eye of those who define politeness, which are those aforementioned SJ-captured institutions. In today’s world, it’s rude to hold a wrong political position, and polite to wish hot flaming death upon anyone who expresses it.

      So, unfortunately, the future probably is indeed a rainbow-soled boot stomping on a straight white face, forever. (Or at least for my lifetime)

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        Maybe define the majority (or at least the plurality) as “straight while males and the women who love them.”

        • ARabbiAndAFrog says:

          Perhaps it should be “majority of the enforcement”. Ultimately, opinions of women don’t matter, because they are not capable of using violence to force their will on men. All their rights hinge on men policing other men to keep their oppression at bay.

          White men have strong tendency of protecting white women and enforce their will, but it would be interesting to see this norm to erode as their misandry becomes more visible; or what would would happen with minorities and homosexuals if they keep pushing white women away.

          • DinoNerd says:

            women … are not capable of using violence to force their will on men.

            Collectively, maybe not. Individually, it happens all the time. An average strength woman may need weapons, friends, or surprise to take down an average strength man, but all those things are available. And in the real world some women are stronger and fitter than some men, in spite of their testosterone advantage.

            For anecdata try family stories about just how great grandma convinced great grandpa to stop coming home drunk and beating on her. (The one I recall – not my own family – involved a cast iron frying pan, a husband too drunk to fight effectively, and a promise to kill him next time, if there was a next time.)

          • Aapje says:

            @ARabbiAndAFrog

            There are other means of coercion than just violence and those are actually far more common.

            For example, women have things that men want and cannot just take. A man might theoretically force a woman into a relationship, but it’s not going to be the kind of relationship that most men prefer. A man can force a woman into sex, but it’s not going to be the kind of sex that most men prefer.

            So women have the power to withhold these things from men and thus can demand things from men in exchange.

      • caryatis says:

        73.3% of people in the US are white. About 62 if you separate out Hispanic whites. Statistics from Wikipedia. So white people are still clearly the majority.

        • keaswaran says:

          But not straight white males. They are very clearly less than a third of the population.

    • DinoNerd says:

      The trouble with “social justice as a religion” is that it puts straight white males at the bottom of the social status hierarchy.

      That’s terrible. It’s OK to put anyone and everyone else at the bottom of a social status hierarchy. Women, gays, blacks, foreigners etc. are inferior after all. But straight white males? They are created in the image of their God, and deserve like Him to be worshipped.

      More seriously, I hear you about not wanting to convert to a value system that devalues you in particular. That particular objection pretty much permanently immunizes me to “conservative” values of almost all kinds, and much of the special pleading in favour of community as well. And being on the autistic spectrum, I am comparatively good at not absorbing the values of the people around me.

      But I’m not very good at it – people have all these inconvenient instincts encouraging conformity and assimilation. Captives wind up identifying with their captors and all that. Otherwise all the class hierarchies that have existed since humans left the forager stage would never have been workable. My instincts are a bit weaker than average, because of my overall social skills deficits – but they are still there. First you obey out of fear, but eventually you come to mostly believe what you’ve been told about your capacities. And if not you, then certainly your children.

      For social justice to spread, the demonization of straight white males needs to stop, otherwise people like me have no incentive to buy in – on the contrary, we are incentivized to destroy it.

      Of course you are, just as every slave who ever existed was incentivized to either run away or attempt to murder their owners. Some of them tried it, and mostly didn’t leave descendants. Those who adapted to their disadvantaged position survived. (At least the ones that weren’t worked to death, or capriciously murdered….)

      The older I get, the less I believe that humans can function without unjust oppression, demonization of subgroups, etc. etc. Less of that would be better than more, of course. But the argument you are making on behalf of people like you is an equally good argument for people like me. If someone’s going to be on top, for reasons having nothing to do with any social contribution they may be making, I’m all for having that be people like me 🙁

      Now frankly, I almost never encounter demonization of straight white males, but I don’t hang out with SJWs either. For the longest while, I figured that all the reports of it were from the kind of people who consider their religion to be persecuted if any other religion – or none at all – gets mentioned in any positive way. I’m still disinclined to believe it’s a major force – but then, it’s not something I’d be sensitive to, unlike demonization targetted at people like me. But it clearly exists, and while I consider it unfortunate from an ethical point of view, I’m not sure that a certain amount of it isn’t a practical adaptation to conflict between groups – the “bad cop” to juxtapose with a “good cop” involving inclusion for all, and inviting you – yes, you – to find some microscopic way in which you aren’t exactly part of the oppressor caste, and identify with it. (After all, you are a good person, so you can’t really be one of “them”….)

      • Weisshaupt says:

        You might note the strong correlation between “social justice” and socialism.
        SJWs are not looking to improve a meritocracy, but a system where they pick winners and losers based on other factors. Affirmative action is the government example, but simply looking at any SJW controlled institution (colleges, Tech Giant) it is clear the objective is not equality of opportunity, but increased opportunity for some and decreased opportunity for others based on subjective attributes -so subjective in fact that long standing constructs such as biological sex are now in question.

        “If someone’s going to be on top, for reasons having nothing to do with any social contribution they may be making, I’m all for having that be people like me”

        The SJW is offering exactly such a “us or them” proposition and it derives its moral authority by visiting the sins of the father upon the sons. The persecution of the Evil Hateful bigots is always justified – in fact it is a moral good. Its morally right to punch Nazis.

        The good of the community comes before the good of the individual.

        Yes, all hierarchies will have winner and losers but how those are determined and by whom is of utmost importance, as it affect if that loser has any chance of climbing the hierarchy at all- and if they can’t? It takes about 10% of a society to rebel to destabilize it irretrievably.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          Yes, all hierarchies will have winner and losers but how those are determined and by whom is of utmost importance, as it affect if that loser has any chance of climbing the hierarchy at all- and if they can’t? It takes about 10% of a society to rebel to destabilize it irretrievably.

          The justification for the hierarchy is likewise important in determining how things are going to be for those on the bottom. Are the people on the top of the hierarchy told that their position is a sacred trust and that they must use their authority for the good of society as a whole, or are they told that their position is a just recompense for the oppression their ancestors suffered and that only a bad person would object to how they use their new-found power?

    • For social justice to spread, the demonization of straight white males needs to stop,

      Even with that, what’s the appeal of the “gay religion” for straight people? Ancient religions said do these rituals and your harvests are good, modern religions have life after death, Judaism says you’re Gods chosen people and even America has the American Dream, which is aspirational even if not fully realized. What do I get out of celebrating gay pride?

      • eric23 says:

        You get to look down on the people not celebrating gay pride.

        • And what happens when everyone is pro-gay? Do we just get to look down on all the Less Woke Than Thou?

          • The original Mr. X says:

            If the last few decades are anything to go by, the standard for counting as “pro-gay” will grow progressively (heh) more extreme, furnishing a constant supply of less-woke people to look down on.

    • Anaxagoras says:

      Scott’s model does hold out some hope for you. See his point about how Jesus’s rather clear condemnation of wealth has given way to to the opulence of the Catholic Church and the modern prosperity gospel. To be adopted by a large portion of the population (Conrad Honcho’s formulation of straight white men and the women who love them is apt), any would-be civil religion will make room for that population. A role of flagellant doesn’t really count (as most straight white men aren’t too keen on doing that, and frankly most other people aren’t too comfortable being around flagellants), so I’m fairly sure that you’ll be able to just go on as you always have, modulo aesthetic differences.

      One of my favorite classes undergrad was one on the history of early Christianity. The Jesus movement was very fractious, and there were a lot of sects that made ridiculous moral demands that alienated them to the population they were trying to spread to. A pretty large chunk of early Christians pushed for celibacy not just for the priesthood but for all Christians. Many preached that no compromise was to be made with Roman society. No cops at pride? Gay marriage is heteronormative assimilationism? In Scott’s analogue, these are echoes of those long-dead heretical Christian offshoots. Yeah, you can say that they follow better from the founding principles of social justice, but those heretics would also say that they more faithfully the word of Jesus.

    • ejmoncrieff says:

      Most people in various social justice moments are not trying to put straight white males at the bottom of a hierarchy. The goal is equality.

      For people who are used to having a superior status, equality can look like oppression.

      • Ghillie Dhu says:

        For people who are used to having a superior status, equality can look like oppression.

        For people who are used to having an inferior status, oppression can look like equality.

        • Enkidum says:

          But can you actually give an example of it happening in this case? What is this demonization of straight white males I keep hearing about?

          • Ghillie Dhu says:

            I’m only interested in pushing back on the meta-level meme which can be used to dismiss arguments from the outgroup out of hand; discussing the object-level question is unlikely to produce a sufficient light:heat ratio to be worthwhile.

          • Enkidum says:

            Fair answer.

        • ejmoncrieff says:

          For people who are used to having an inferior status, oppression can look like equality

          True but irrelevant. Straight white men are not being oppressed.

      • Nornagest says:

        Oppression in the name of equality is, of course, historically unheard of and not worth talking about.

      • Weisshaupt says:

        Equality of Result or Equality of Opportunity?

        Sorry, but the treatment of dissenting opinion when SJWs are in power ( say in Universities) clearly shows that equal opportunity is not sought. Equality of results? That can only be achieved by taking what people have earned and redistributing it, and again, given what can bee seen when SJWs are in control, ( or any human for that matter) I don’t think that sort of power can be safely vested in human hands.

        • Aapje says:

          Even equality of result is not sought, but instead, benefits for the ingroup. When solving an inequality benefits the outgroup, it is rarely fought for.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Specifically, at minimum equality of result for “marginalized” groups. Harm to non-marginalized (i.e. “oppressor” or “privileged”) groups is considered neutral to positive.

    • AG says:

      Maybe this planet wouldn’t be such an absolute shitshow on the path to complete environmental destruction if we actually allowed TALENT and INTELLIGENCE to rise to the top, instead of selecting leadership on totally arbitrary qualifications.

      Maybe this planet wouldn’t be such an absolute shitshow on the path to complete environmental destruction if we hadn’t spent the last couple of centuries with straight white men as the major world, economic, religious, and social leaders. They’ve sure bollocksed up their shot, haven’t they?

      So yes, I absolutely agree that we should allow TALENT and INTELLIGENCE to rise to the top, instead of assuming that straight white men automatically have that, and nobody else does!

      • Maybe the present state of this planet wouldn’t be enormously better than at any past time in history if …

        So far as humans are concerned, the state of the planet is spectacular. Individual real income, the ability of people to get things they want such as food, housing, medicine, entertainment, has an average level across the globe about ten times what it was through most of history, twenty or thirty times in the developed world. And it continues to get better, especially in the poorer parts of the world.

        Humans occupy a lot of space, so there are fewer bison and carrier pigeons–although there is the possibility that the large bison herds were not a natural state but a result of the destruction of most of their human predators by Old World diseases in the 16th century. On the other hand, there are a lot more of the species that either are useful to humans or find humans a useful environment–cows, pigs, rats, pigeons.

        Claiming that the present state of the world is an “absolute shitshow” requires some evidence in support.

        One can always claim that it is on the path to complete environmental destruction, the future not being observable. It’s true that global temperature is rising–but it is still well below what it was at various times in the past. CO2 concentration is rising, due to humans, from its recent relatively low level, which is a considerable benefit to plants and those that eat them. It’s possible that at least one of the polar icecaps will disappear, although that will take a while, and a much longer while for the other.

        If both of them disappear we will no longer be in an ice age–the current one having lasted three million years or so. That will be a sizable change, but most of Earth’s past was non-ice ages, and the environment managed to survive.

        • jermo sapiens says:

          Person who was not alive when the same claims were made 30 years ago and didnt come true confidently sneers that anybody could be skeptical.

          News at 11.

        • AG says:

          @DavidFriedman

          Not sure why you replied to me instead of Alex M, who originated the phrase you’re objecting to. I’m ambivalent at this point towards climate change, but this response is utterly muddling the discussion this thread is trying to have.

          If climate change won’t be a disaster, how does that reflect on the demographics of who’s in charge?

          My repetition of the phrase was to point out how Alex M’s rhetoric was working at odds with the point they were trying to make.

    • Plumber says:

      @Alex M

      “…a more meritocratic place where intelligent people of…”

      I’m also a “cis”, straight, white, male, et cetera, and I despise “Meritocracy”, I’d far rather be ruled by “SJ’s” who at least give lip service to fairness than an aristocracy of test takers!

      I much prefer representative and direct democracy (such as my getting to vote on what charities we donate to and who the officers will be when I go to union meetings) to this westernized neo-confucian claptrap.

      Besides, from what I’ve observed actual job performance correlates poorly with pre-job “aptitude” tests, and SAT scores don’t correlate well with virtue, and I don’t care how “talented” someone is, a “winner take all” casino economy that shovels more wealth into fewer hands, without also bettering the majority is a lousy system.

      Enough incentives to encourage work sure, but the system that’s growing of distributing an increasing amount of the goods of society based just on the results of paper tests without much regard to how much work is actually done by an individual (the proliferation of light duty desk jockey jobs that are secured through credentials, while the remaining “hands” are pressed harder for production) is no improvement, and frankly “IQ uber alles” is working lousily for most, the 1946 to ’73 strong labor unions economy was better for the majority.

      The irony is that the test tyranny system was put in place to replace the “It’s who you know” system, yet somehow it’s even more “blood lineage”, and with gates increasingly closed to “working your way up” I see little merit to “meritocracy”.

      No thanks!

    • Ozy Frantz says:

      We dumbasses are the majority and we are gonna outvote you.

      • Plumber says:

        +1

        • The Nybbler says:

          Why are you +1ing a triumphant call for your own subjugation?

          • Plumber says:

            @The Nybbler,
            I feel far more subjugation by the white-collar cognitive elite than I do anyone else, and the call for even more “high SAT scorers to the front of the line” rankles, ‘sides I feel more solidarity with those who grew up in the same neighborhoods as me than those who look more like me, and I still remember being transferred from the mostly black “Intermediate” track class to the mostly white “Advanced” track class in the middle of the semester and how cruel the “Advanced” students and teacher were compared to the “Intermediate” track, I liked getting the books that we simply weren’t given in the “less advanced” class, but the company was lousy, and in over the over 35 years since I’ve seen nothing to show me that the cognitive elite are so much more virtuous than the rest of us that entitles them to their gravy lives.

          • The Big Red Scary says:

            I feel far more subjugation by the white-collar cognitive elite than I do anyone else

            Is this feeling of subjugation abstract or concrete? You live and work around Berkeley as a plumber, so far as I can tell. Do you have frequent, unpleasant interactions with the local cognitive elite? I’m an academic, and so far as I can tell, most of my colleagues have a healthy respect for people with useful skills like plumbing or welding. But maybe it’s different in Berkeley.

            As for the broader question of meritocracy, I presume you have plenty of it in your profession, no? Does your local union have quotas for groups under-represented as plumbers?

          • Plumber says:

            @The Big Red Scary,
            I live near Berkeley but I work for the City of County of San Francisco, and the feeling of subjugation mostly comes from desk bound University educated hire ups who implement policies that hinder actually getting actual work done, but they do have the benefit of mandatory meetings where we sit and rest for a bit.

            As for set asides for “unrepresentative ethnicities” my local union had that for it’s apprenticeship programs, there was a quota system, I got in so it didn’t harm me, the membership is a bit more Asian, black, and Latino, and less Irish, Italian, and Portuguese, but the majority still went to the same Catholic schools as our predecessors, so not that different, but I just don’t have much confidence in the scores in the tests I took to get in actually reflecting that well on how one will work anyway, I think a lottery wouldn’t be much worse, and may even be an improvement.

            There’s seperate tests to get hired by thr City, but it’s pretty similar to the union tests, and I noticed that when I worked with black guys who were hired as “Temporary Exempts” by ijust nterviews during the short windows that the test based lists of potential hires are expired but the new lists aren’t out yet, they were very competant and easy to get along with, but when they tested for permanent jobs their scores were terrible (I don’t know why black applicants tend to do worse in the tests, but they do) so they’d be replaced by those with higher scores (that’s how I got permanent), and the higher scorers just weren’t as good on-the-job (maybe including me).

            Between the University graduates making bothersome policies (frankly I don’t think those jobs should exist, hire more “hands” instead!), and seeing how little scoring well on “aptitude” tests correlates with on-the-job performance, I’m pretty down on credential and test based hiring.

            It would save a lot of trouble to just do lottery and interviews, but I guess people don’t want that it’s luck based being so obvious.

          • The Big Red Scary says:

            desk bound University educated hire ups who implement policies that hinder actually getting actual work done

            Heh. In this respect, at least, it sounds like working as a plumber for a city is not so very different from being a scientific researcher in a university. But perhaps this is just a universal aspect of modern life.

            The formal “metrics” used to “evaluate” scientific research are also imperfect, but I don’t really have any better ideas how to go about it. Somehow we all know what’s important when we see it, but it’s almost impossible to communicate it to the bureaucrats.

            I have been negatively affected by gender quotas, but in terms of lost additional opportunities rather than unemployment. It hasn’t gotten that bad yet, but I’m concerned about the future.

      • Aapje says:

        @Ozy Frantz

        I think that many dumbasses want competent leadership.

        Also, calling yourself a dumbass seems to be a falsehood. Do you really believe it?

        • Plumber says:

          @Aapje

          “I think that many dumbasses want competent leadership….”

          As long as it’s competant leadership for the benefit of we in the dumbest class, not just policies that benefit the cognitive elite i.e. “We should shovel more money to U.C. Berkeley”, um no I think those resources would be better put to use teaching high school kids in Richmond how to weld rather than giving a sub group with the privilege of an elite education an even better education.

          • Nornagest says:

            If you think the Social Justice agenda practically entails shoveling less money into UC Berkeley, I think you’re going to be disappointed.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Yeah, it’s going to be none of those things you want. It won’t be competent, it won’t go to the benefit of “the dumbest class”, and it will involve shoveling more money to UC Berkeley, and there will be no welding classes.

          • Eponymous says:

            and there will be no welding classes.

            I’m not sure about that. Thinking on trade school / shop class right now in America is rather interesting, because a lot of people have started giving some lip service to it, but it’s not strongly politically coded yet (that I’ve noticed), and neither side is really pushing it. Both right and left seem to bring it up sometimes — I noticed some dems bring it up at the debates. I’m curious how it will play out, since it seems a politically palatable path towards unwinding some of the worst excesses of the current higher education defect/defect equilibrium.

          • Aapje says:

            @Plumber

            The current problem seems to be that the smart self-segregate. So their concern for the working class seems filtered heavily by their own capabilities and by a view from a large distance, which doesn’t work very well.

            You note one example, where the working class gets seen as temporarily embarrassed college professors in waiting, so attempts get made to get everyone into U.C. Berkeley, rather than put a lot more effort in providing a path to a decent life for the less able.

            In the past, there used to be very smart people who didn’t get access to higher education or the middle/higher class in general, or at least not as early in life. They often put their surplus of smarts into helping their community, like by becoming union leaders or such.

            Now, this wasn’t very fair to those people, who didn’t get the same returns on their abilities that those from the middle/upper class got. However, it was a huge boon to the working class’ ability to organize and have people speak for them with both actual experience of living their life, but also with the ability to speak in a way that got them heard, rather than be dismissed.

          • Plumber says:

            @Nornagest and @The Nybbler,
            I suspect that you’re correct and the choice really is between being ruled by the smug or the shrill, but calls for even more winner-take-all based on “intelligence” and “talent” than the status quo which has increasingly gone in that direction for over 40 years really steps on a nerve, and as for the “S J’s”, they really seem to focus on the “commanding heights” stuff like who gets into Harvard and how many CEO’s are women, and while I know that’s about who rules us, it’s hard not to think of that stuff as Lancaster vs. York when most are just trying to get the harvest in.

    • Eponymous says:

      I have to agree with this comment on an emotional level. As much as I disagree with Trump and think he’s a horrible president, and fully intend to vote against him unless the democrats nominate someone even worse, the explicit anti-white male ethos of the SJ movement drives me within an inch of voting for him, if for no other reason than to give a tremendous FU to its proponents.

    • Reasoner says:

      Fun fact: I am a straight white dude. I’ve been to the local pride parade several times with a “Free Hugs” sign. Pride parades are a great place to meet women, but you can’t go direct or you will creep them out. The trick is to wave your “Free Hugs” sign in the direction of gay guys while women are watching. Gay guys are disinhibited, and they will come up and hug you, especially if you take care of your appearance. Then the women who go to these parades wearing skimpy outfits (for some reason there are loads of them, I think they are mostly straight) will be like “oh, hugs are happening” and walk up and hug you too. Good times.

      I’m not actually trying to help you meet women. I’m just trying to help you be less Extremely Online and give you a perspective that is based on how things are in real life. But you should go to the Pride parade with a “Free Hugs” sign anyway. Give everyone a hug and whisper “Happy Pride, I’m glad you could make it” in their ear as you are hugging them. Do it for the women at first, but then realize how stupid the trick I described above is, and do it for the people. Feel the warmth of human connection that you aren’t getting from Twitter or 4chan. Do this a hundred times or so over the course of a few hours. Afterward, if you are anything like me, you will feel as though you’re floating on a cloud, you will realize we are all human, and you will feel a sense of connection with everyone around you. Your soul will be at peace and you will feel compassion for the person you were when you wrote this comment. <3

  28. caryatis says:

    At DC pride, the CIA, NSA and other intelligence community folks were recruiting pretty hard. We’ve come a long way from the time when being gay would bar you from getting a clearance.

    • eyeballfrog says:

      My impression was that being gay used to bar your from clearance because you were more vulnerable to blackmail. “We have pictures of you frequenting a gay bar” just doesn’t have the force it used to.

      • caryatis says:

        You are correct. You can still be denied a clearance for sexual misbehavior, but just “being gay” isn’t enough anymore.

    • Matt M says:

      Could you get denied a clearance today for say, having posted controversial right-wing views on Twitter?

      Not under the logic of “We the government disagree with these views”, but under a similar logic of “If someone found out this was you, they could threaten to dox you and blackmail you over it”?

      • John Schilling says:

        If you’re working in one of the industries where a serious clearance is required, being doxxed and “blackmailed” by Bay Area progressives isn’t much of a threat, any more than e.g. Scott’s career would be threatened if Donald Trump were to tweet that he was an Enemy of the People.

        There probably should be enough flexibility in the system to look for that sort of thing among e.g. Bay Area nerds who are being hired to work black projects but will still maintain strong social and professional ties to the progressive community; I don’t know if that is the case.

        • Garrett says:

          What I find funny about this whole thing is that as I was on my way out, Google was facing a huge internal revolt over participating in the DoD’s project Maven. This means that by having an internal monoculture, they are unable to get people who would be willing to take on advantageous business opportunities.

  29. hollobollo says:

    As a tiny sidenote: those “straight-looking” people? (I don’t know what straight looks like – maybe mixed-sex?) Bisexuals exist.

  30. Luke the CIA Stooge says:

    I’m still amazed Scott has never done a piece contending with Mol…Voldemort’s central claim.

    That America isn’t a Liberal Democracy tolerant of various religions, it is a Theocracy that spends literally trillions of dollars on state church’s (universities) and has manditory bible school (grade and high school) specifically to assimilate and eliminate the countries native and historic religious movements.

    Even the structure of the government far more closely resembles the Iranian revolutionary government than anything the founders envisioned.

    The founders envisioned no standing army and no privileged enforcement class (citizen bounty hunters did much of the outlaw hunting) -> the country has a massive standing army of lowly paid serfs, essentially enslaved by their contracts and a separate revolutionary guard (ie the agencies) of the highly educated priestly caste with far better training, vastly better pay and privileges, and the self appointed role of safe guarding the revolution Ei. Islam/“democracy” fronthe elected members of the government.

    The founders envisioned the President would be the highest office, only accountable to congress and the electorate while the supreme courts job was essential to hold the judiciary accountable -> the legal priesthood’s highest offices (the Ayatollah/the judges) have defacto veto power over anything the president does with a combination of them and the revolutionary guard remaining able to depose of any elected politician, including a president with some wrangling.

    The founders envisioned a government which could not establish any state religion or religious test for government office > various heresies ( breaking the faith with Islam/“”rascism” or “nazism”), no matter what the electorate may think, are a death sentence for any career you might like to have in government.

    The only thing that separates the US from Iran in this respect is not the nature of the government structure its that whereas Iran tries to keep their state religion consistent, the American government has to iterate its civic religion to prevent outside cultural forces (the lay people) from being to check it’s hegemony via their knowledge of the religion, the religion must change every 20-30 years lest those outside the government be able to use their understanding of the states values to check the states arbitrary power.

    • InvalidUsernameAndPassword says:

      The founders envisioned no standing army and no privileged enforcement class (citizen bounty hunters did much of the outlaw hunting) -> the country has a massive standing army of lowly paid serfs, essentially enslaved by their contracts

      Ha, that’s a good one!

  31. jermo sapiens says:

    I think this analysis is mostly correct. I wonder if the stars and stripes can coexist with the rainbow. Only time will tell, and currently I can think of good reasons for predicting any one of the two outcomes.

    Both sides – the stars and stripes and the rainbow – contain individuals who want coexistence, and individuals who refuse coexistence. However, the relative numbers and the cultural power of these individuals is not symmetrically distributed. Also, the points of contention between the two sides do not appear to be symmetrical.

    For example, my social media bubble is quite conservative and pro-Trump, but most of the opposition to the rainbow takes the form of opposing drag queen reading to children, children being promoted as drag queens, and giving hormone blockers to children. Maybe this is because this is the only socially allowable way to oppose the rainbow, but the fact that gay people exist and deserve rights is something that seems to be genuinely held by the overwhelming majority of those who fly the stars and stripes.

    This is not what I see on the other side. It’s quite possible that my view is skewed, but I find this kind of attitude to be much more widespread, specifically among the high-status trend makers of those who fly the rainbow. This can be seen also in the way many blue checkmarks reacted to the assault on Andy Ngo by Antifa in Portland.

    • Ozy Frantz says:

      I went to the SF Pride Parade and there was no particular shortage of American flags. Patriotism is not a concept owned by people who vote Republican.

      • Error says:

        This past 4th, I found myself reflecting that the Red Tribe had made Real-American flag-wrapping so central to its public identity that it was probably no longer possible to credibly, publicly express patriotism without simultaneously signaling red loyalties.

        Your experience surprises me and suggests that some piece of my model is wrong. Which wouldn’t be that surprising, I suppose, given how thoroughly I avoid political spheres.

        (it may also just be that being at Pride is such a strong signal of blue loyalties that it outweighs the flag waving. I wonder if that’s symettric; do pride symbols appear at red-centric festivals, too?)

      • jermo sapiens says:

        I’m glad to hear it. I was using the american flag as a proxy for the red tribe, like @Error is suggesting above.

    • Plumber says:

      @jermo sapiens

      “I think this analysis is mostly correct. I wonder if the stars and stripes can coexist with the rainbow…”

      When I moved into a house in a “Blue Tribe” neighborhood in 2012 (no I don’t mean Democrats, I mean a neighborhood with a more than usual number of New York Times subscribers for California) I was amused to see lots of American flags and Rainbow flags flying, a few on the same houses.

      I haven’t seen any flying on the same house after 2016, but I have still seen a bunch of both flags on display this last week, with no “capture the flag” incidents that I’m away of.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        Interesting, and somewhat at odds over what Ozy is suggesting. I dont know if you are also talking of SF, but maybe because there are more unicorns in SF than red tribe members, blue tribe members feel safe flying the American flag.

        • Plumber says:

          @jermo sapiens,
          My house is 15 miles across the bridge and up the highway from my job in SF, but still a very “Blue-Tribe” neighborhood, still with both American and Rainbow flags flying in July, but as I noted, after Trump became President I haven’t seen any houses flying both flags, which I did before.

          But to go on a tangent about the “Tribes” thing, Democrat or Republican correlate with our host’s original list of the cultural aspects of the different “Tribes”, but there not a one-to-one line up, I’ve known some Blue-Tribe Republicans, and lots of Red-Tribe Democrats, I’ll even go so far as say that majority Democratic Party voter California are still more Red-Tribe than Blue-Tribe, as the cultural attributes of the Blue-Tribe in Scott’s original list looked to me more like those of most college educated women (but not all and only them), and the Red-Tribe more like most non-college educated men (but not all and only them), and in California, at least in some areas, the “Blue-Tribe” is more Republican than the Red-Tribe as we are a “minority-majority” state, and non-whites are on average less “Blue-Tribe” and also less Republican (see The Democratic Electorate on Twitter Is Not the Actual Democratic Electorate for more on “Red-Tribe Democrats”, for “Blue-Tribe Republicans” read the biographies of most The National Review and The Wall Street Journal writers, who tend not to be “beer and pick up truck” guys).

          • jermo sapiens says:

            So what you’re saying is that many whites in California are more likely to be blue-tribe and Republican but non-whites are more likely to be red-tribe and Democrats??

          • Plumber says:

            @jermo sapiens,
            Nope, most whites in the coastal areas of California will be Democrats as well (in-land the reverse is true), but a random white person is more likely to be “Blue-Tribe” and/or Republican than a non-white person.

            Mostly what I was saying is that the “Red-Tribe” (as I interpret it) out-numbers the “Blue-Tribe” even in a State where Democrats out number Republicans.

            For an example, the California electorate that mostly voted for Obama in 2008, also mostly voted to ban gay marriage.

            “Upper Middle Class” college graduates and areas where their culture predominates are a minority, even here.

            To find them you can look for neighborhoods that have a larger than average number of New York Times subscribers (the tell-tale blue bags are a give-away).

            The only “black lives matter” signs I see are in high-rent majority white neighborhoods that are near majority black neighborhoods, in the black neighborhoods themselves “Jesus is Lord” signs are more common.

          • jermo sapiens says:

            For an example, the California electorate that mostly voted for Obama in 2008, also mostly voted to ban gay marriage.

            Right. That makes some sense.

  32. FrankistGeorgist says:

    So then, how do we spin up some more Civil Religion? What will it take to make Arbor Day a proper Festival, with its yearly propitiations and pomp? Can we carry trees draped with garlands through the streets and then collect money to have them planted somewhere? Make the kids dig in the dirt a little bit, eat cinnamon flavored things or something tree-based?

    If we can’t impose it from on high, could a dedicated cult in one part of the country start some kind of trend?

    Any bets on what the next festival to arise might be?

    • AG says:

      Pi Day’s got a good amount of traction, though its reach may be limited to food establishments.

      Otherwise, the most recent new festival to have arisen is fucking Black Friday.

  33. Alex Zavoluk says:

    “Yes, this exactly captures the spirit of the original Stonewall rioters”.

    So… 2019 Berkeley is different from 1969 New York City? What reason is there to expect that these 2 events would be at all similar? Is it weird that 4th of July parades don’t involve shooting British soldiers?

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      It would be weird in the sense of the independence day parades involved veneration of the [UK] royal family.

      It’s trickier for 60s counter culture because ‘Secular Authority’ and ‘Corporations’ are more placeholders than fixed entities that can conform to any set of values, as they have.

      • Alex Zavoluk says:

        I believe the riots were largely in response to activity by the police and, secondarily, the mob. The caption I quoted was on a picture of people waving Blue Shield Flags. Insurance companies weren’t really involved, but we can dig a little bit. I don’t see any organized crime floats ([insert joke about group you dislike here]), and the police are now supportive of the cause being paraded. In some sense, it’s a bit fallacious to group the modern SF police with 1969 NY police at all, but even if we do, the UK and US have long been allies, so it isn’t weird that July 4th is not an expression of hatred for Britain, regardless of the history. (I realize this comparison oversimplifies the early history of US-England relations but you get this picture).

        Let me put it this way: Do you think the Stonewall Rioters would prefer if the LGBT community were all still treated the way they were in 1969? Where Pride would be impossible, cops saw them as targets, etc.?

    • Gobbobobble says:

      We don’t invite the Queen to come take part, though (do we?)

  34. Deiseach says:

    Well, thanks for giving me a good laugh, in the craziness that is winding down the old financial year and getting everything ready for auditors, service level agreements etc.

    (1) I missed the scene in the Bible where a winged mechanical lion drags the body of Christ in an intricate silver juggernaut, but the Guatemalans definitely didn’t.

    Neither did Dante! The culmination of Purgatorio, where in the Earthly Paradise Dante sees an allegorical procession:

    The procession consists of (Canto XXIX):

    “Twenty-four elders” (a reference to Revelation 4:4), representing the 24 books of the Hebrew Bible, as classified by Jerome
    “Four animals” with “six wings as plumage” (a reference to Revelation 4:6–8), a traditional representation of the four Evangelists
    “A chariot triumphal on two wheels,” bearing Beatrice, which is drawn by…
    A griffin, representing the conjoined divinity and humanity of Christ
    “Three circling women” coloured red, green, and white, representing the three theological virtues: Love, Hope, and Faith, respectively
    “Four other women” dressed in purple, representing the four cardinal virtues: Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Fortitude”
    “Two elders, different in their dress,” representing the Acts of the Apostles and the Pauline epistles]
    “Four of humble aspect,” representing the general epistles
    “When all the rest had passed, a lone old man,” representing the Book of Revelation]

    (2) The glorified and ascended Washington accompanied by (presumably) the Spirit of Liberty, wearing a Phyrgian cap and… bearing the fasces… OMG Washington is a Literal Fascist! If that California school wanted to get out the white paint for their mural, heaven knows what they’d do here 🙂

    (3) American Civic Religion – I mean, yes? I’ve been saying this for a while now?

    (4) Everyone should watch the SF Pride parade – ah, no thanks. Re: the gentleman in the cowboy hat and one hopes a lot of sun cream, if I wanted to see naked jiggly bits I’d just look in the mirror.

    (5) Big corporations go chasing money, you don’t say! (Rainbow) colour me surprised!

    (6) You can tell something’s still hip and countercultural and definitely hasn’t sold out when the Boy Scouts get involved Other way round on this one. The Boy Scouts are not infiltrating Pride with their conservative old-fashioned values, they’ve capitulated to the new paradigm and are now part of it as the – well, every good Roman triumphal parade had its noted and famous conquered captives marching, did it not? The Boy Scouts of America has given in on atheists, women, homosexuals, trans girls and very soon after cis girls as membership. There’s not much else they can do now to be any more acceptably progressive.

    (7) Nobody ever came out and said Jesus was wrong to love prostitutes, but Pope Sixtus V did pass a law instituting the death penalty for prostitution, in Jesus’ name.

    I’m going to need a citation for that. I had a quick look online, and while this does indeed seem like the kind of thing Sixtus V would do (if anyone still thinks the Franciscans are all hippy soft-hearted nature-lovers, Sixtus was a Franciscan), I’m not seeing any mention of it – yes he had a zero tolerance approach to crime (cleaned up banditry by literally executing thousands), yes he executed clergy and male and female religious who broke their vows (which would include the vow of chastity), yes he wanted to bring back the death penalty for adultery (but was foiled in that) and yes he was deeply, deeply unpopular and resented, yes his portraits do look like he’s the kind of guy who would do exactly all that and yes he was a reformer for both good and ill ends, but I’m not seeing anyone saying “as well he had sex-workers put to death” except for one site. I’m wondering if the 1586 date mentioned there is conflated with the “adultery punishable by death” mentioned below, also in 1586?

    The terrible condition in which Pope Gregory XIII had left the ecclesiastical states called for prompt and stern measures. Sixtus proceeded with an almost ferocious severity against the prevailing lawlessness. Thousands of brigands were brought to justice: within a short time the country was again quiet and safe. It was claimed that there were more heads on spikes across the Ponte Sant’Angelo than melons for sale in the marketplace. And clergy and nuns were executed if they broke their vows of chastity. …Sixtus also attempted in 1586 to introduce into the secular law in Rome the Old Testament penalty for adultery, that is death. The measure ultimately failed.[

    On the other hand, he does seem to have been relatively tolerant towards the Jews:

    LATIN AND ITALIAN MANUSCRIPT – SIXTUS V, Pope (1521-1590, pope from 1585). Christiana pietas , papal brief permitting the return of the Jews to the Papal States, 22 October 1586, in Latin and Italian . MANUSCRIPT ON VELLUM. Attested copy, dated Rome, 30 November 1587 216 x 160 mm. 4 leaves, COMPLETE, 1 4 , 27 lines written in two styles of italic script, autograph subscriptions of Bernardinus Paschatius, apostolic notary, and Jacobus Sabellus [Savelli], cardinal bishop of Porto, with inkstamp of Paschatius’s notarial mark. Small round hole through lower inner corner of blank margin for attachment of seal (seal not present). Modern calf, preserving early paper flyleaves (padded with a quantity of modern paper).

    TEXT An official copy of the papal bull, Christiana pietas , by which Pope Sixtus V permitted the return of the Jews to the Papal States, from which they had been banished in 1569 by his predecessor Pius V. The document permits Jews to settle in all the towns and territories, large and small, of the Papal States, and grants them full civic rights, as well as the right to establish their own schools, synagogues and cemeteries. They may practice medicine without any limitations, and take part in any aspect of commerce or industry. Taxes are reduced for the Jews of Rome and set at a level to promote immigration into papal territories. Jews are pardoned from all crimes except homicide, counterfeiting, rebellion and sacrilege, and the obligaton to attend Christian sermons is reduced to six times a year. Although Sixtus was motivated by his desire to place the finances of the papacy on a sound footing, primarily in order to support his massive building projects in Rome, his attitude toward the Jews was notably less harsh than that of most Renaissance popes.

    List of bulls issued by Sixtus V:
    1586 (January 5)
    Coeli et terrae (“The heavens and the lands”) Condemned “judicial astrology” as superstitious.
    1586 (October)
    Christiana pietas (“Christian piety”)
    Allowed Jews to settle in the Papal States, revoking Pius V’s 1569 bull, Hebraeorum gens sola.
    1588 (February 11)
    Immensa Aeterni Dei (“The immense [wisdom] of Eternal God”)
    Reorganized the Roman Curia, establishing several permanent congregations to advise the Pope.
    1588 (October 29)
    Effraenatam [Contra procurantes, consulentes, & consentientes, quocumque modo abortum [Against Those who Procure […] abortion]
    Declares that the canonical penalty of excommunication would be levied for any form of contraception and for abortion at any stage of foetal development.
    1588 Triumphantis Hierusalem
    Officially elevates St. Bonaventure to the status of Doctor of the Church

      • The Nybbler says:

        Do you mean the half-assed Hitler salute (really, Donald, your arm and hand need to be STRAIGHT), the symbol of oppression and slavery hung directly behind him, the explicitly religious slogan directly above him (no doubt intended to liken him to God), or the three sets of bundled rods (two with axeheads)?

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          I mean the fasces. But this is obviously a joke as those have been there forever.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      [Sixtus V] Condemned “judicial astrology” as superstitious.

      It tickles me that “judicial astrology” is an actual term. I imagine the College of Cardinals trying to Bork someone in a black robe for the sin of casting horoscopes from the bench.

    • MereComments says:

      Deiseach beat me to it, but Dante’s Purgatorio was the first thing I thought of with that winged lion picture. Here’s a decent translation of those verses from Canto XXIX:

      The space between the four of them contained
      A chariot of triumph on two wheels,
      Coming drawn at the neck of a griffin.

      And he stretched upward one wing and the other
      Midway between the bands — three here, three there —
      So that by splitting them he did no damage.

      They rose so high the wings were lost to sight;
      His limbs were golden where he was a bird
      And all the rest was white mixed in with red.

      Never did Africanus or Augustus
      Please Rome with such a splendid chariot,
      But even the sun’s cannot compare to it —

  35. Matt M says:

    I’m sure this wasn’t Scott’s intent, but I feel like this post has radicalized me even further, in the sense that it seems to be a confirmation/admission of what many on the right have long suspected: That pride/woke/SJ/whatever you want to call it has absolutely no intention of being “additive to” American culture in general, but rather, it intends to replace it entirely.

    If only there were a pithy chant that could adequately describe my feelings towards this proposition….

    • Bugmaster says:

      “One Two Three Four, I declare a sex war” ?

      On a more serious note, I think that’s one difference between the various American parades and official religious pageantry in other countries: our civil observances are explicitly working against each other to some extent — by contrast with something like that Easter celebration, which unifies the entire nation in a common purpose (or tries to, anyway). One major point of Pride is to show that gays are better than those ignorant backwater rednecks with their American flags; meanwhile, right-wing patriotic celebrations try to demonstrate the superiority of God and Country over those degenerate coastal liberal gays. Perhaps the divisions are less pronounced by now, since both sides have basically become wholly owned subsidiaries of Vryalar ™, but still, the underpinnings are there.

    • Deiseach says:

      That pride/woke/SJ/whatever you want to call it has absolutely no intention of being “additive to” American culture in general, but rather, it intends to replace it entirely.

      However, the presence of large corporations all clamouring for a share of the spotlight, the police and other bodies there shows a dilution of the activism. And you can see some pushback against it by those not so happy about the mainstreaming of LGBT; on the Twitter billboard someone has scrawled a message about them being anti-trans, the guy who is all hat and no clothes is probably the last hurrah of that kind of visibility, and the presence of families and straight (looking) people has stirred up some hornets’ nests about “when did Pride become about bourgeois family life?” and bisexuals complaining about erasure since they get mistaken for straight, or told they shouldn’t be there with an opposite-gender partner etc.

      So the re-making is happening in both directions – Pride may be going mainstream, but it’s also going mainstream – which means fewer BDSM dog collars on two year old twins (from a story about the Folsom Street Parade a few years back, happily reported on by a local SF paper seeing nothing wrong with proud gay dads togging out their toddlers in same and bringing them along to the Folsom Street bash) and more “two parents pushing strollers”. And some people do not like that prospect at all.

    • Artyoan says:

      I’m with you on this, Matt. My disillusionment regarding the social justice progressives has been deepening every year since about 2013 or so. I’ve definitely had a large rightward shift.

      At this point I feel as if its almost entirely either self-deception or delusion as to the ‘genuine’ community binding nature of this new religion. Most of the branding is of ‘love’ as you can see in the pictures but that is impossible to reconcile with the aggressive mobbing in academia, social media, and corporations. There seems to be no genuine capacity for disagreement as it is all uniformly declared to be an ‘ism’ of some sort. A cultural weapon honed so thoroughly it became a national death wish.

      When I see pride parades I don’t see anything that seeks to unify. I see what amounts to a middle finger to the face of the former cultural powerhouse religion. Pride parades are much like pussy hats or MAGA hats. People will wax all sorts of grand narratives to humor their virtuous delusions, but those symbols are to rub the noses of their opposition in their cultural losses. There is a reason they are naked and there is no shortage of public sex acts and its not out of ‘love’ or genuine ‘pride’.

      Christianity was a standalone religion. It has its strengths and faults but there was a strong bent towards forgiveness and non-aggressive neighborly behavior. The behavior of social justice adherents is impossible to define without knowing what they hate. The internalized rhetoric never matches the displayed behavior. Forgiveness and understanding are not central elements. The sacred cows of diversity and tolerance are ripe for a ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes’ moment in the next decade. There is already an observable backlash taking place in the youth, and not one I needed a GLAAD study to identify. Tends to happen when kids know they are being propagandized and the logic of their declared virtues is so absent that only fear of speaking the truth keeps the tapestry together.

      Dishonesty repels people. Walking on eggshells repels people. This is a new religion built on overly PC fashionable consensus. Its grounded in nothing. No Bible. If people want to adhere, they have to remain glued to ever changing PC dogma. If ‘Hell is other people’, social justice made the opinions of other people their God. Thus, the constant need for affirmation and representation. No wonder they are mentally breaking down.

    • soritical says:

      pride/woke/SJ/whatever you want to call it

      I think pride and SJ/woke are separate. Pride is the religion, social justice is a particularly vocal sect.

      • jermo sapiens says:

        pride pre-dates wokeness by decades. being woke means that you are into pride, but for maximum wokeness you can get pride cancelled for being insufficiently woke .

        TL;DR: a group of QTBIPOCS (Queer and Transgendered Black and Indigenous Persons of Color, for you uneducated simpletons) disrupted planning meetings and made outrageous demands for money and other benefits. The old-school gays who had worked for years to build Pride Edmonton knew that they were not going to win that particular game of intersectionality, and decided to cancel Pride instead of facing down the group of QTBIPOCs.

  36. crilk says:

    Did you know “pagan” is just Latin for “rural”?

    I think the jury’s still out on that one. “Paganus” might mean civilian or just outsider in a general sense.

    At any rate, the pagans who mattered (the ones of patrician stock who read Virgil and hosted convivia) were very much an urban and an urbane class. The Christian clergy had a lot more interest in disseminating its beliefs and values among the “flyovers” than the pagans ever did.

    Also if you’re looking for a historic moment to make the symbol of your colorful left-leaning American pseudo-religion I’d be more inclined to go with the Summer of Love or Woodstock than Stonewall, but what do I know?

    • Steve Sailer says:

      My theory is that Woodstock was a delayed victory celebration for the Anglo-American alliance that won World War II:

      https://www.takimag.com/article/exhortation_and_megalomania_steve_sailer/2/

      Everybody knows that the Woodstock rock festival was all about peace and love and equality. Yet, 46 years on, with the immediate controversies of 1969 receding into the long perspective of history, when I watch movies of the 70-foot towers of speakers blasting out power chords by helicoptered-in American and British rockers, I notice there aren’t too many Germans, Japanese, Italians, or Frenchmen up on stage making a colossal racket.

      Instead, the stars are the sons of the guys who won World War II. As we head toward the middle of the 21st century, Woodstock is beginning to look like a belated victory celebration by the English-speaking nations that ruled the world.

      • Randy M says:

        Seems rather confounded by the fact that people like listening to music with lyrics in their language.

  37. P. George Stewart says:

    It sounds like you’re constantly trying to convince yourself of something you sense, deep down inside, isn’t true.

    Meat that’s gone off also has a rather pretty rainbow sheen, at a certain stage.

    Fun fact: my father, who worked in a linoleum factory, was a humble charge-hand on a humble charge-hand’s wage. Over the course of 30-odd years he managed to own a house and car, support a family, and eventually buy and rent out the house next door, and even start a small taxi business for a while before retiring. This was in the UK from the 50s to the mid-70s or so; from what I’ve read, life was much more prosperous for working class people in the US than the UK at the time.

    But hey, at least we’ve got iPhones and social media now, eh? 🙂

  38. John Schilling says:

    Am I saying that gay pride has replaced the American civil religion?

    I should hope not. Gay pride has become San Francisco‘s civil religion, and it doesn’t scale.

    It can’t, because you can’t have a civil religion based on singling out a specific 10% or so of the ingroup population as uniquely praiseworthy and expect everyone else to show up and celebrate them. That trick never works. You can have a cult of personality where one person is defined as uniquely praiseworthy; that sometimes works but it usually requires artificial support by fairly brutal means. But we have encyclopedic history texts full of societies in which some <10% subset of the population was a literal upper caste or aristocracy or nobility with a full range of legal and social privileges that you'd be far worse than "cancelled" if you intruded upon, and I don't know of a single one that had anything like a Pride Parade for e.g. the English nobility. Or the Brahmins or the Nomenklatura or any of the rest. And if those privileged elites kept managing to lead the parades anyway, it was by putting on their champion-of-the-people hat and piously pretending that it wasn’t just or even mostly about them.

    What San Francisco is a whole is proud of, is not the glory that is Gay People, but the glory that is San Francisco’ particular role as a sanctuary and champion of the poor oppressed gay people of America. Which, to be fair, is a glorious thing that one ought to be proud of, to the extent that gay people are actually being oppressed in America at large. So, OK, maybe nobody really gets beaten to death or thrown in jail any more and even the debate over gay marriage is fading in the rear-view mirror; pride in past achievements is still a thing and will keep this going while it morphs into “Rainbow Pride” or whatever. And if the agenda keeps changing, if winning on gay marriage means now it’s about trans bathroom privileges, there will always be people who aren’t on board with the new agenda, and can be defined as the Horrible Oppressive Outgroup that we are all heroically resisting together.

    And yes, I know there’s little or no mention of the Horrible Oppressive Outgroup in the parades. I haven’t seen a 4th of July parade with more than passing mention of the British, nor a celebration of WWII Veterans that included Nazi iconography for everyone to boo. That’s not how it works. Victory celebrations usually celebrate the victory by reducing the vanquished foe to unmentioned irrelevance.

    But you don’t get 4th of July parades without the belief that the British ought to have been defeated, or a civic religion based on the special status of veterans without the belief that the Nazis et al that those veterans fought were a particular evil. And to keep all of San Francisco to be united, even though only a minority of San Franciso is gay, you really are going to keep on needing a powerful oppressive outgroup to be united against. Otherwise it’s not going to last. The 4th of July would never have lasted if it had been explicitly about celebrating wealthy New England merchants and Virginia plantation owners.

    For it to spread much beyond San Francisco, it has to convince people outside of San Francisco to join the “us against the hated outgroup” thing.

    At very most, this becomes the civil religion of Blue Tribe, defined by their opposition to Red Tribe. I’d really, really, really rather we just keep the 4th of July. Or Christmas, and even Easter would be an improvement over this.

    • Paul Zrimsek says:

      “We’re here, we’re peers, get used to it.”

    • johnvertblog says:

      I think you’re missing one key ingredient, because you’ve bought into the “Born This Way” narrative. Sexuality (and gender identity) isn’t actually an in-born trait. There are biologically inheritable aspects to it, but it’s controlled by memetic factors, not just genetic ones. Non-queer (or less queer) LGBT allies are in the outer cloud of the memetic black hole of queerness. Although the “Born This Way” narrative deliberately obfuscates this, people absolutely are converted into being LGBT, not just into supporting LGBT people. It’s not an immutable characteristic like race; their ideology just insists that they pretend it is. A kid who’s getting bullied at school for being white can’t turn black, but a kid who’s getting bullied at school for being a cishet can become queer. And as the pull of the memetic black hole of queerness grows stronger, people will actually have to become queerer and queerer as a sort of bravery debate. When LGBT acceptance was first starting, the numbers of LGBT people shot up because social incentives changed. I do not think that that process actually has an obvious endpoint.

      • Matt M says:

        Yeah. I’m willing to concede “born this way” on the LG, but the whole reason all those other letters are there is specifically to allow people to “opt-in”, regardless of what preferences they may or may not have been born with…

        • johnvertblog says:

          If you can opt into being bi, why can’t you opt into being gay or lesbian? Indeed, gays and lesbians are queerer than bisexuals, so there’s a strong and strengthening social current towards bisexual people suppressing their unseemly attraction to the opposite sex and identifying themselves as fully gay. If you’re really desperately attracted to the opposite sex but want to be gay anyway, you can always just find an unconvincing trans partner and pretend to believe.

      • John Schilling says:

        I think you’re missing one key ingredient, because you’ve bought into the “Born This Way” narrative.

        Tl,DR: It is demonstrably much much easier to convert straight people into straight people who turn out and cheer for a Gay Pride parade, than it is to convert straight people into actually gay people. To the first order, this is all you need to know to understand gay pride parades, so I haven’t missed anything important.

        It is to some extent possible to “convert” straight people to gay, yes, though the magnitude of that is highly debatable. Even if it is large, I don’t see how that’s relevant unless you expect that an overwhelming majority of the population are going to be converted into LGBTs of some stripe or another. And even then, it hasn’t happened yet. but the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade is still a thing and not just a gay thing. People who aren’t gay, don’t imagine they are going to become gay, aren’t enthusiastically waiting for the day when everybody is converted to gayness, are still turning out en masse for a “gay pride” parade.

        It would be unprecedented to the point of implausibility for this to reflect the emergence of a civil religion based around unilateral pride and celebration of a small minority of the population, so what happened this year isn’t that. I’ve given my best shot at explaining what I think it actually is and how far that thing might spread. And that’s true (or not) independent of whether today’s gay minority got that way by birth or conversion or how many conversions you expect to happen in the future.

      • Plumber says:

        @johnvertblog,
        Yes, the “Q” part is easy to adopt, as lots of young ladies (who only have had male romantic partners “but are totally open”) and a few young men, with imitation leather jackets and asymmetric haircuts, and hair dyed dayglow colors have embraced the “Q” label in these parts, and seem sincere.

        It does seem a little “Ali G”, but relatively harmless.

      • benwave says:

        Do you have studies for this? I used to believe it, but at some point I realised that I was falling prey to the typical mind fallacy. As a bisexual myself, I was imagining that everybody has a similar tolerance or ability to act more gay or more straight according to environment. But I was failing to take into account minds different from my own, for whom there was never really an option of being gay, or never really an option of being straight. Or for that matter, never really an option of being cis.

        • brianmcbee says:

          Agreed. I have heard of people who have managed to move themselves a notch or two one way or the other on the Kinsey scale, but that doesn’t seem like a recipe for some sort of mass conversion from straight to gay.

          It is almost certainly true, though, that when society is more open to gay behavior, that people who were closeted feel safer to come out, and that people might be more open to experimentation in ways that they wouldn’t have been in past decades. Neither of which seems like a bad thing to me.

      • eyeballfrog says:

        There sure do seem to be a number of gay people who would rather be straight if the choice were available. This doesn’t seem to fit your model.

      • Squirrel of Doom says:

        Big claim. No evidence.

    • Deiseach says:

      It can’t, because you can’t have a civil religion based on singling out a specific 10% or so of the ingroup population as uniquely praiseworthy and expect everyone else to show up and celebrate them.

      There’s a lot of people outside of San Francisco, and outside of America, who wish to emulate them in parades and public love-ins of their own. We’ve had our own march over here in Dublin, and I’m amused to see that the activist elements are also importing the American progressivism splintering and purity-demands; the trans lot had their own separate march later (because the main one wasn’t putting enough emphasis on the trans people). I’ve a feeling the majority of people who turned up to that march were allies, rather than trans themselves.

      • John Schilling says:

        There’s a lot of people outside of San Francisco, and outside of America, who wish to emulate them in parades and public love-ins of their own.

        Yes, but outside of San Francisco, they generally represent a much smaller fraction of the local population. Some of them are, as the name would imply, parades for gay and gay-adjacent people; others are targeted at the entire progressive-ish liberal population but outside of SF and a few other cities that still represents a minority overall. Trying to paint these as the basis of an emerging and all-encompassing “civic religion” would I think be clearly inappropriate. In San Francisco, Woke Rainbow Pride can be the One True Civil Religion. In Dublin, I’m guessing it’s just one more church.

    • AlexOfUrals says:

      Not that it undermines your point in any way or even particularly relevant at all, but I just can’t help noting:

      nor a celebration of WWII Veterans that included Nazi iconography for everyone to boo

      In Soviet modern Russia you can see exactly that. Well, it’s rather people dressed as Nazis and/or dummie Reichstag, but the “everyone to boo” part is totally there. Not very widespread and largely regarded as insane even by patriots afaik, but becomes more common year by year.

      More to the point, see my comment below about the parade in NYC which looked and felt exactly the same way as Scott describes the SF one. Though I’m not the best person to judge of course, sure we should have some born and raised American reader(s) over at NYC to confirm or deny this?

    • AG says:

      So what you’re saying is, Eurovision can scale…

      (And the Olympics’ budgets sure have! Ba-dump-ch)

  39. Well... says:

    An enjoyable and maybe salient post, but it reminds me a little of JB Lobsterman reading deep Christian themes into Disney movies.

    I went to the local 4th of July parade with my daughter, and I don’t think I’ll go again. Sure, it had all the civic religious elements, but halfway through, once the fire department and Rotary club and local high schools had given way to so-and-so’s karate school or such-and-such candidate for judge, and their minions jogging by the side of the road throwing out a mixture of candy and small flyers to children who stand palms-up in the gutter waiting to receive this junk, I realized it was really just an advertisement delivery system.

    That’s what these parades are. Advertisement delivery systems. Maybe it’s different in Guatemala? Maybe it isn’t?

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      That’s what these parades are. Advertisement delivery systems. Maybe it’s different in Guatemala? Maybe it isn’t?

      I would think that Guatemalan Easter parades are more pious and community-building with perhaps a tertiary advertising aspect, because they’re poor and morally superior to the San Francisco/corporate America community.

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Candy. Candy delivery systems. That was always the big draw to the 4th parade and, to a known lesser extent, Labor Day and Memorial Day. Kids line the streets to get candy. If there’s other shit being given out, sure why not. Flags and mini footballs are fun too. So is the spectacle of the whole thing when you’re young enough for it to be novel (fire trucks!!). The ads are for the adults and mostly wind up in the trash

    • Picador says:

      Yeah, the running gag about “most SF thing ever” got dropped when it got to all the corporate advertisements. The cynic would say that the health insurance parasite co-opting the gay rights movement is the real “most SF thing ever”.

  40. jhertzlinger says:

    “We don’t need to push chastity if we have good STD treatment and contraception…”

    When birth rates are below replacement?

    • brianmcbee says:

      > When birth rates are below replacement?

      That might become a problem eventually, but neither of us will be around to have any influence on the discussion by the time that happens.

      • Enkidum says:

        Not that I’m terribly sympathetic to this line of argument, but this is already the case in, I believe, most of the developed world. Which is, imho, a Good Thing, as there are too many people.

  41. AlexOfUrals says:

    Wow, fascinating! I’ve spent the last week in New York and seen the pride parade there, and my impression was very similar to yours in that it just takes place of the generic all-out street festival where everyone feel united. This year in NYC it did so quite literally – for all I was able to google or find by feet they didn’t even have a 4th of July parade! (Because of that I actually can’t compare the atmosphere directly, since I’ve never seen a 4th of July parade yet, but I can compare with the Victory Day in Russia which is quite similar in function except for being vastly more belligerent, grim and officious, but those are just cultural differences I assure you).

    To add to your observation that it’s an event unifying everyone and not just some particular group. As an experiment, I was wearing a t-shirt with a right-ish print on it – that is, it literally contained the word “right” – and through the whole day I received exactly zero negative comments on it, and in fact a couple of compliments. To my great surprise, people celebrating gay pride seemed to be quite welcoming to someone from supposedly the opposite side of the political spectrum.

    • The Big Red Scary says:

      vastly more belligerent, grim and officious, but those are just cultural differences I assure you

      As a foreigner living in Russia, my impression of Victory Day has been at best positive and at worst indifferent. Sure, the military likes to show off its shiny equipment, and while this can be rather intimidating, it is easy enough to avoid, but most people seem more interested in remembering the incredible suffering of their grandparents and great grandparents. It’s like the Holocaust times six, and would have been even worse if Generalplan Ost had been implemented.

  42. The original Mr. X says:

    Did you know “pagan” is just Latin for “rural”? The pagans, the people who kept resisting Christianity even after it had conquered the centers of power, were the Roman equivalent of flyover states.

    Actually, that seems to be a myth: “paganus” was used to describe non-Christians long before the urban centres had become majority-Christian, and hence long before any dichotomy between “Christian” and “rustic folk” would have made sense.

    The actual origin of the term seems to be from Roman military slang, which used the term “paganus” to refer to a civilian or non-combatant. Since early Christians frequently envisaged the Christian life as a kind of spiritual warfare against the Devil, comparing Christians to soldiers and non-Christians to non-combatants would have been a logical extension of the metaphor.

    We don’t need to push chastity if we have good STD treatment and contraception;

    There’s still the fact that promiscuity is associated with low self-esteem, low relationship satisfaction, and increased rates of divorce. Not to mention the risk of new STDs developing; pre-AIDS, the gay community tended to see STDs as a minor inconvenience (just go get a few pills from the doctor to cure the rash, then go back to sleeping around). Then people started getting a new disease which couldn’t be brushed off, and a lot of people died unnecessarily.

  43. Picador says:

    “Maybe a decade or a century from now, it has all the best values.”

    I understand there’s a gay dude from South Bend running for president on the basis of his Arab-killing boba fides, and all the woke people get mad at you if you opine that martial value isn’t your cup of tea. So I’d say that moment has already arrived.

  44. ajfirecracker says:

    Guest post by Mencius Moldbug, huh? Weird flex but OK

  45. PersonOfInterest says:

    This perfectly mirrors my experience going to one of the country’s top five largest Pride parades. Overall, it was actually pretty boring. I’m a straight man who went with my girlfriend, so maybe I just wasn’t in the spirit of things. But it really just seemed like a generic, rainbow-themed festival that happened to over-index for LGBT people.

  46. Jack says:

    Maybe stop writing about the gays if you don’t have anything to say.

  47. Auric Ulvin says:

    Does anyone else take issue with the obsolescence of ‘martial valor’ part of Scott’s writing. It’s just a few lines but I remember it in other essays, where Achilles was going to be mown down with a machine gun.

    I imagine part of this is a definitional game, where he might see it as some mix of the absurd bravery of the Napoleonic officer-class making perfect targets of themselves on horses and the idealised ‘fair’ hand-to-hand clash of medieval knights. Sure, hand-to-hand single combat is pretty much obsolete and officers don’t prance around on horses under artillery fire. But I think we still desperately need ‘martial valor’ in the Stalingrad, D-day sense of infantry advancing into heavy fire. We need boots on the ground, not just button-pressers. Drones can’t hold ground, they can’t man a checkpoint or clear an apartment complex. And what happens if we go up against enemies with sophisticated air defense?

    If the West had more martial valor, if we had the ability to commit ground troops and sustain heavy casualties (casualties that would be considered a rounding error in WW2 or Korea) to achieve political objectives then modern Middle Eastern history might look more like the Marshal plan and less like a disaster. Drones are replacing martial valor but I’m not sure this is a case of obsolescence so much as an ersatz replacement. In this case, it’s a replacement that helps radicalize our enemies.

    Perhaps, once we can create Terminator-equivalent AIs that can’t be easily tricked or spoofed, a feat which probably requires a human-level GAI, we can consign martial valor to the dustbin of history and wage world-wide war freely and frequently. But until then, we probably need infantry in the flesh.

    • Eponymous says:

      Hear hear! Indeed, our most recent wars (Iraq/Afghanistan) relied rather little on high-tech warfare (mainly useful for defeating a traditional standing army in the field), but rather on infantry undertaking counterinsurgency operations, often in urban environments within a sometimes hostile population. These sorts of operations definitely rely on individual martial valor.

      If the West had more martial valor…then modern Middle Eastern history might look more like the Marshal plan and less like a disaster.

      Eh. I’ll have to disagree with you there.

    • zzzzort says:

      It’s interesting that the excerpt that gets quoted twice ended up edited out of the original piece.

  48. Eponymous says:

    I don’t share Scott’s optimism that a civil religion necessarily and naturally comes to be favorable to a society. Some civil religions have been highly destructive historically, and I would argue that social justice is likely to fall into this category. I make this judgement based on its results so far, and due to its frank denial of basic facts about life.

    I may be old fashioned in this regard, but I do think that truth matters rather a lot — I’m by nature a conservative, but I cringe at arguments that false beliefs often serve socially useful purposes. While this is doubtless true in many cases as a matter of fact, I think that on the whole you’re better off going with true beliefs, and a civil religion based on a fundamentally wrong worldview is not likely to work out too well.

    I also think that Scott underestimates the importance of the belief system underlying a civil religion, relative to its outward manifestations and rituals. The latter serve not only to promote generic unity and common feeling, but to reinforce the underlying beliefs and stifle objections to its claims.

    • brianmcbee says:

      I don’t know which underlying beliefs you are talking about, so I don’t know if I agree with you or disagree 🙂

      I personally associate “gay pride” with accepting (and even loving) people for who they are, and for not trying to hide who you really are to try to fit in with societal expectations. As an aspie, this has great resonance for my life.

      Celebrating people’s differences seems like a good thing. It’s supporting values I hold dear.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        Celebrating people’s differences seems like a good thing.

        Unless you’re trying to build a functional society, of course, in which case celebrating the things people have in common is probably the way to go.

      • soritical says:

        Great, then it’s settled. We’ll celebrate what gay and straight people have in common.

        • Deiseach says:

          We’ll celebrate what gay and straight people have in common.

          Which is that a lot of people like parades and marching bands and having pieces of cloth on sticks to wave and balloons and floats and colourful costumes? 🙂

          • soritical says:

            @Deiseach

            Mostly that. But also, I suppose, our common humanity, if you believe in that sort of thing.

      • Aapje says:

        @brianmcbee

        I don’t feel accepted at all by Social Justice, which seems particular prone to sacrificing people like me on their altar (and in general, people with lesser social abilities, including aspies).

        Social Justice ‘love’ seems a lot like conservative Christian ‘love,’ which also loves everyone for who they are. Except for when who you are is gay, atheist, etc, etc.

        PS. I’m not the only one.

        • 420BootyWizard says:

          I don’t think Social Justice is “particularly prone” any more than any other group. It’s not like humanity as a whole is particularly welcoming of people with lesser social abilities.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            I’ve been in subcultures that welcomed aspies – anime fans, for example. Not all subcultures are equal, or identical.

          • 420BootyWizard says:

            I’ve been in subcultures that welcomed aspies – anime fans, for example. Not all subcultures are equal, or identical.

            Sure. I’m not saying such subcultures don’t exist, but I will claim that they are the exception and not the rule, that on the whole having “lesser social abilities” is a curse and not a gift pretty much anywhere you go. I’d further claim that on the whole SJ does better than most as long as long one can avoid saying anything too ie racist or sexist out loud too often.

            Individual mileage varies of course, but again I grew up with very little in the way of social skills and I’m pretty sure (80%+ confident) that I have some stripe of high-functioning autism (self diagnosed), and I’ve never felt unwelcome in leftist SJ-y circles. Even when I say out loud that, for example, I don’t think Depression Quest was a very good game.

            Like you said, not all subcultures are equal or identical. And I’d add that not all members of a subculture are equal or identical. It’s not as if subcultures represent a monolithic block of shared thought.

        • Weisshaupt says:

          You don’t feel accepted? That is by design.

          Christianity is of course prone to persecute the heretic as much as any other religion, because of people and a power structure.. but the actual dogma doesn’t justify this, as one is supposed to love the sinner, hate the sin, however imperfectly practiced. The individual- possessing a “eternal soul” -is valuable in their own right, and not to be sacrificed for the survival of the tribe.

          And the “old civil religion” falls along similar lines, being derived from similar concepts.

          “What is our group?” – The people who believe in individual rights, equality of opportunity, and the rule of law as agreed to by popular consent.

          Why is our group better than other groups? – Because the individual over the group, and group interactions are voluntary and by consent, encouraging a system of meritocracy and individuals being valued for their contributions.. those who dissent are those who wish to use force to make other people live their way, and value the “right” things and most importantly grant themselves benefits they did not merit or earn

          “What gives our social system legitimacy?” – A theory of natural rights and consent of the governed.

          Of course, people being people in a power structure, that doesn’t always work as intended either.

          The point is – the social justice Religion’s purpose is to categorize and force some people to the top of the hierarchy based on group membership other than individual personal skill, ability or merit, and force others to the bottom based on those same factors, with the intention of spreading the wealth generated by skills and abilities equally. The good of the community comes over the good of the individual …(where have I heard that before..)
          Of course, people being people in a power structure, that doesn’t always work as intended.

          You don’t feel accepted because our place in the social hierarchy is determined by your group membership based on sexual preference, race, gender and how each category is perceived to have been victimized in the traditional structure. Your personal attributes beyond skin color and sexual preferences and preferred pronouns are irrelevant.
          Its baked into the cake that the personal interests and rights of anyone not “deserving’ based on that hierarchy may be sacrificed to the common good. They want to arbitrate cosmic justice – balancing the rights and wrongs of history with almost no reference to individual experiences,visiting the sins of the fathers upon the son , and lacking any legitimate means or authority to makes such judgements other than their own claims to have been victimized ( as a member of a group) . Its why “Black lives Matter” is accepted dogma , but “All Lives Matter” is rejected as racist or bigoted.

          So yes, any social hierarchy will produce winners and losers, and to some extent persecute dissent and oddness. But there is huge difference in results between societies that discourage such persecution as morally wrong- -according to dogma and teachings at least, if not so much in practice- and societies where such persecution is actively pursued and praised as morally right.

          In the latter, the persecuted group is either wiped out, enslaved , or is forced to rebel violently.

          Further, At some point, the beautiful people in fancy cars have won their fight for “equality”.. and now are manufacturing problems and narratives of persisting bigotry so they can continue riding in fancy cars and being the beautiful people. (You can no longer claim to have moral authority as a disadvantaged minority,if you find yourself at the top of the new social hierarchy. )

          Further, the process of creating this new caste system will be inherently contentious as different groups within religion compete in the grievance Olympics to obtain the top moral authority/social hierarchy spots – and as each attains that spot – they loose the moral authority to occupy it.
          They can already be observed eating their own .. if this civil religion is adopted/imposed en-mass, it will self destruct the second there is no “other ” to play the role of the evil hateful bigots ..and invented Emmanuel Goldstieins will only work for so long. This cannot last long as a civil religion because it is inherently unstable – both socially and economically. But enjoy the parades while they last I guess.

  49. PhaedrusV says:

    BJ Campbell has an interesting take on one new difference in social justice’s take on the civil religion.

    https://medium.com/handwaving-freakoutery/social-justice-is-a-crowdsourced-religion-87dc3ae3a82b

  50. IdleKing says:

    Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” is an attempt to synthesize these two ideologies (Social Justice and the American Civil Religion) into one. He shows the founding fathers as products of a pluralistic meritocracy. I think that’s why it delivers such high-voltage warm fuzzies to a broad swathe of the American establishment: the secular power is supported by BOTH kinds of moral authority.

    By the way, Scott, you should review Barbara Ehrenreich’s book “Dancing in the Streets”. It’s a fascinating overview of the roles played throughout history by the kind of collective ritual you describe here. E.g. she reviews evidence that the growth of Protestantism was fueled by frustration with the Catholic Church’s crackdown on raucous festivals in the 15th and 16th centuries. She also dips into the anthropological record to make some surprising arguments that mesh well with “The Secret of Our Success”. It’s a quick read, and one of those books that slightly changes how you see an enormous swathe of topics.

  51. Houshalter says:

    There actually were a number of christian sects that promoted their members not reproduce and get chopped. None survived very long.

  52. Ryan says:

    Pride is a death cult. It forswears reproduction. It might take hold in the short term, but in the long run it’s a loser.