Archives for category: Social Criticism

Youtube’s algorithm recommended me a clip from the television show Mr. Inbetween. Given that my life is an empty husk papered over by the addictive black hole of video social media, I watched it. In the clip, there is the character Ray sitting in what I assume is a court-mandated anger management class – I haven’t seen the show, I am making this assumption based on the context given in the clip. Ray is nonchalant about his violence, and sees himself justified in it as the people whom he is violent toward “have it coming.” He describes beating the shit out of two young men who swore at his daughter after knocking her ice cream off the cone, an almost cartoonish stereotype. Yet Ray is the hero of his own story; he is providing the just desserts that society no longer feels comfortable distributing. The group facilitator, whom I take to be the personification of society in this clip, doesn’t care to have looked into the full story of Ray’s assault, and can only pipe up strawman assumptions that everyone would agree are morally impermissible. Ray gently corrects him, and in the end, the facilitator – somewhat sardonically – thanks Ray on behalf of society for his service in ensuring consequences for the assholes among us. We are left with the impression that Ray is in the right to have used violence to resolve his conflict, and while society may not believe he is right, it is left without an argument against it. That impression is reinforced by the ubiquity of agreement with Ray in the Youtube comment section.

I’m not going to lie, I would probably enjoy the show if I watched it. It’s rated 8.6 on IMDB!

As hopefully everyone reading this knows, stories aren’t reflections of reality, but manifestations of the perception of reality of the people who produce them. There is ideology behind every piece of media, not just the endless emesis of woke remakes. The ideology behind this scene is actually pretty straightforward: might makes right. It might be argued that the show is trying to portray an absolutist sense of “right” that needs “might” to defend it against the decaying moral fabric of society brought on by decadence and degeneracy, but it’s… not. I mean, it is in the sense that it’s trying to put forward that position, but it’s not because the core of that argument is still that might makes right.

Ray’s position is that the two young men have touched a hot stove and will now think twice before doing so again, but that’s a false analogy. Ray’s argument that it’s wrong to swear at little girls isn’t an immutable objective fact like the searing heat coming off a lit stove, it’s a proposition only backed up by his physical dominance. All it takes for his argument to flounder is those two men jumping him in an alley with baseball bats, and all of a sudden it’s okay to swear at little girls again. He’s not “right”; he won a fight. He becomes wrong again immediately after a successful retaliation. The argument is only valid so long as he possesses the capacity for violence necessary to defend it. The lesson learned isn’t likely going to be that it’s wrong to swear at little girls; that is not the inherent consequence to losing a fight. The lesson could easily be that additional violence is necessary to retain ideological dominance.

An excellent point, sir! Now for my rebuttal.

This fa├žade of justified violence to prevent social decay is endemic beyond the ideology of an individual bluffing his way through an anger management class. It is the ideology of Tough On Crime: criminals are the perfectly unreasonable; they are diametrically opposed to rational argument, and therefore can only be confronted and cowed by violence. It’s the only language they understand, dontcha know! When people demand Tough On Crime policies, they are demanding the irrefutable argument of violent state power. The reality is that it’s actually the abandonment of rationality because as discussed above, this approach is only a simplistic manifestation of might making right. It only appears more defensible because the government has a monopoly on violence – you can’t jump the State in a back alley if you disagree with your arrest.

This is only justifiable if we agree that people who commit crimes aren’t actually human in the Aristotelian sense. It necessarily demands the inherently flawed black and white thinking cognitive-behavioural therapists call a “cognitive distortion.” We must “show strength” against Russia because Putin is an unthinking monster and diplomacy is a waste of time! But in following this line of thought, we have to abandon our own rationality in order to justify it. We abandon our own humanity in order to pursue only the shakiest form of ideological dominance. Is then Putin not justified in his aggression against the West because we have ourselves become the unreasonable? How this self-perpetuating cycle of unexamined brutality has lasted throughout history is tragically obvious. The moral righteousness of imperialism always seems to have been determined by who has more guns.

It’s also how we determine which culture is more civilized!

Violence as an epistemology is a failure of civilization. Asserting its value as a first resort, as in Hawkish ideology or Tough On Crime rhetoric, is like beating the shit out of a waiter because your order was wrong. Even violence as a last resort is somewhat dubious in its discursive value. It’s anti-democratic in the sense that collective will and wisdom are secondary to the ideology of those directing the thugs with the batons. If you can’t convince or compromise, physically dominate.

The “why” behind someone’s actions matters. Even if the young men never verbally abused a child again, doing so out of fear of violence is the stupidest possible reason in the world. The rationale behind our actions, and the rationale behind our change, matters. When Ricky Gervais tweets about the absurdity of God’s threat of eternal punishment being the only inhibitor to social devastation, he’s making this same point. We have ways of measuring what is socially beneficial and destructive now, and it turns out that corporal punishment is quite categorically on the destructive side! Punishment does not deter crime; accountability does. It is measurably better to treat children with communal love and kindness because we know of its positive benefits to both the child and society – we’re far more likely to be accountable to that maxim if we are convinced of its merit.

Weirdly, there are some rather mainstream circles that decry that we’re not being violent enough in our noble pursuit of truth, with some even thinking it is the bedrock of discourse. Without the threat of violence, how will we even know how to behave rationally!? I guess fear drives rational thought better than a logical argument. Of course this is all nonsense, but the lamenting over the “pussification” of men and its impact on society at large has infected much of the right-wing discourse. Mr. Inbetween, at least in that one scene, is overt right-wing propaganda for exactly this. The facilitator, wanting to talk about feelings, fails to undermine the sanctity of violence as an epistemology. It is a celebration of posturing over reason. The strong construct castles of reality and defend them jealously and without thought, and this is encouraged. If someone says that maybe talking about your feelings is a good thing, punch them. Our castle walls must remain strong.

All in all

This is a crisis of masculinity. Society does not see violence as a particularly feminine trope, so its cultural obsolescence is only a threat to the men who don’t have anything else going for them. No one expects women to defend their ideas with violence; the sophists of violence don’t particularly expect women to have ideas worth defending at all. There’s a reason it’s called social pussification: the sacrosanct epistemology of masculine violence has been defiled by feminine influence. Personally, I’m offended, nay, triggered! that my gender has been inextricably associated with the laziest form of argument. The criticisms against feminists for their hysterical misandry pale in comparison to the notion that men need to stoop to the discursive style of chimpanzees in order to be considered men. Talk about an own-goal.

We don’t commit crimes or break social mores when we don’t have reasons to. When we understand those reasons, we’ll probably be a lot bettered prepared to actually address them. If we think we can fix complex social issues by beating up all the assholes, we ourselves have, by definition, become an asshole. If you can’t come up with a convincing argument as to why verbally abusing a child is wrong, then maybe you shouldn’t be chiming in at all.

I drive through your town, and while I am the one behind the glass, you are the one under the microscope, a grazing beast on my human safari. I am the looker; you are the looked upon.

I come to your home, my attention rapt upon you, a voyeur with a camera, legitimized by my passport. I am the visitor, you the local, yet you become the foreigner under my gaze. Your normal becomes exotic, your habit queer. Do not forget that this exchange is for the benefit of the intruder.

I watch you live. I see you cook your food and wash your clothes. I see you pray; I watch you grieve, documenting your life under my rapaciously curious gaze, snapping photographs – memories archived for amusing gossip with friends upon my return. Having witnessed it for a few days, I stake ownership over your story and tell it now as the expert, the wisdom of a worldly traveler.

You endure my objectification, smile at my unencumbered white skin, because more than you are here for my enlightened diversion, I am here for your necessity. The scraps you live on are viciously insufficient, forcing you to beg for some off my own gluttonous plate. I chafe at the expectation, indignant that the price of a beer has outrageously ballooned to three dollars a bottle when in the last town it was only two. If you are lucky, I will remember I pay eight dollars at home, and tip you the difference. Do you feel lucky?

You are examined, inspected, scrutinized, and then you are abandoned. You are left in your poverty. You remain without. I return to comfort, and declare your life “interesting.” Your role as an item on my bucket list has been fulfilled.

We the tourists are entitled to the world, colonizers with fanny packs.

Yet those who never leave their home cannot see. They are limited by a provincial myopia, and the world revolves without them. Your story is forever elusive. If you are seen at all, it is through the distorting prism of media gloss and political bombast. You are both monster and victim, your humanity buried under self-serving spin.

Is this an improvement? Are you better off ignored? Must I remain detached from your existence to avoid exploitation? How can I see you without looking? How can I engage with you equitably when my very status as visitor privileges me over you?

I aim to exemplify the virtues of the guest. I engage with you on the terms of your household. When there is discomfort, I tolerate it, recognizing the privilege of your hospitality and embodying the humility of one out of their element. You are my host, receiving me with gratitude and generosity. No longer taking, what I gain is what is shared.

We are no longer detached, observer and the observed. We embrace across borders. I do not return to a different, more comfortable world, recalling you as an alien Other. We persist in the same world, unfair in my favour. I seek you in solidarity, a global fraternity. May we remain united.

The woke left is merciless in their destruction of sacred institutions: marriage and education, obviously; the institution of baby making; and of course, language. In a world where everyone is is a Nazi just for harmlessly protesting against draconian mask mandates, the word has lost all meaning. If everyone is racist, then no one is, and we can all go home. It’s safe and warm at home, and the woke left can’t get you because of Stand Your Ground laws.

It takes a good guy with a gun to stop a bad guy with a chainsaw and a liberal agenda

Now. Marriage is obsolete in that it serves only to legitimize through legal recognition particular and rigid definitions of relationships. Education is classist and functions only to produce efficient workers for the ownership class. Abortion is health care and functions only to provide women control over their means of production. And finally, only racist things are racist. But Blog For Chumps, you might ask, not knowing that a human being with a name and feelings is writing this, how can we know what is and is not racist when the woke left keeps calling helpless truckers Nazis?

I agree. Racism can be hard to point out, but not always – sometimes it is really obvious! When the NFL handles concussion payouts racistly by paying black players less because they are assuming that black people have fewer brain cells than their white counterparts and therefore don’t require as much relative compensation for their loss, that’s pretty heckin’ racist! That was in 2021, after Trump was robbed of his permanent leadership position, and racism in America was supposed to have ended for the second time. I guess we’re still reaching for that rainbow that I don’t see the colour of.

If you see them, you’re a racist

Easy stuff! But like, now climate change is racist? Apparently rich, whiter countries only superficially care about the climate even as poorer, darker countries are literally disappearing into the ocean! It seems like this just might be a world-ending emergency that ought to have an equivalent urgency, but like… the value of bank-owned debt is going down, so let’s focus on that instead. Entire countries can be underwater, either temporarily or on the verge of permanency, but so long as predominantly white countries only have slightly warmer weather, it is politically and socially “no biggie.” Racism!

Also journalism is racist. Again, sometimes very obviously. But not always, because sometimes all racism needs is a mostly white authorship being edited by a mostly white editing team for a mostly white audience, and with all those blind-spots and biases, POOF! You’ve got yourself a racism! What gets labeled as “exotic” or “undiscovered”? Undiscovered by whom? How are stories about race treated? What language gets used? When the authors are a monolith, you typically get the same kind of answers.

How do you think they pronounce ‘pho’?

But Blog For Chumps, you might persist, ruthlessly obstinate in your sobriquet, how can climate change or journalism call someone the N word? If abstract ideas are racist, does that mean we have to actually educate ourselves on how systems work in order to understand why rabid woke mobs keep calling random things racist? Probably. I mean you could take their word for it, I suppose. Who has time for a university degree?

But you don’t have to worry about going into impossible amounts of debt, forcing a lifetime of indentured servitude to your capitalist masters, just to learn about racism, so long as you understand the most racist abstract concept of all: capitalism. It’s capitalism. It’s always capitalism. I just said it like, within the same run-on sentence. You really should have seen this coming.

A fair and reasonable depiction.

Capitalism is all about private ownership and the profit motive. If a business owner is content with their normal amount of sales, they’re not innovating new and exciting logos for their carbonated beverage, and a disaster worse than climate change will befall us all if Apple stops releasing numerically-sequential iPhones until the sun goes out. Capitalists always need more – that’s the profit motive. And the ownership of these businesses needs to be centralized to a minority who make all the decisions because… reasons. I guess maybe to sell the illusion that you too can become a billionaire? With so few of them, it’s a lot easier to learn their names, so we all can aspire to be just like Jim Emerald-Mine Jr.! You too can escape the grind if you just keep that grindset!

How can a violently-enforced hierarchy that exploits and oppresses its lowest rungs to maximize profit be categorized as racist? To understand this head scratcher, we have to turn to a controversial historical economist with an extremist ideology who would have strong criticisms of today’s capitalism: Adam Smith.

Smith teaches us that value comes from labour. When a miner extracts a mineral from a mountain, they are adding value to the rock by turning it into, say, lithium. When the driver takes that lithium from the quarry to the battery factory, they are adding value by changing the location of that lithium to a place where more shit can be done to it. When the factory worker turns that lithium into a battery, they are adding even more value to what was once a far-away rock. If that battery was sold as is, each labourer would get back what they added to the product. With capitalism, the owner of this operation needs money too, so they add what’s called surplus value on top of all this already-established value, and they get that money just for tagging along.

It was a Christmas miracle!

Now, the labour theory of value isn’t actually how market prices are determined: they’re determined by supply and demand. However, the importance of Adam Smith’s Marxist idea of a labour theory of value comes from how it shows the relationship of profit to labour. If the price of that battery is determined by supply and demand, the profits of the organization still need to supersede the value of the labour added to the original mountain rock (through wages, benefits, etc… the intrinsic value of the labourer to the labour process, i.e. the price of human dignity).

But what if… what if, Blog For Chumps, what if… we cut down on human dignity in a market where prices are determined by supply and demand? If we ignore the value of the labourers, ignore their dignity, then we could make MORE profit. If the price is fixed elsewhere, but the value of labour is lessened, then the surplus increases regardless of how the market sets the price! Capitalism, as established, is built on the profit motive, so the idea of ignoring the dignity of workers is inherent to the process. Crucial to the definition of capitalism, workers are not in charge of making any decisions, so they are necessarily secondary to the primary mandate – to make the owners money.

Of course, someone needs to buy that battery. That’s why Henry Ford decided that maybe the local community ought not to be entirely destitute, and decided to pay his workers a living wage. Talk about a rock bottom moment when capitalism is forced to take care of its workers because its contradictions have gotten to the point where no one has any money except for the ownership class who already get their Model Ts at the corporate rate.

This accident is perpendicular to the road, without an apparent intersection. This must have been before drunk driving laws were a thing.

Luckily for capitalism, it gets to have its cake and eat it too! What if there could be a middle class to buy all the random garbage we keep producing at a planetary expunging rate, and also a class of people that we could mercilessly exploit for profit? Enter racism, stage left.

What if we could move labour to countries of colour, murderously exploit the people there with low wages and inhumane working conditions, and then sell that shit back to white people? Seems like the best of both worlds! We can even utilize dog whistles like saying that these foreigners are taking the jobs of white people, and then the white people here will get angry at them coloured folks rather than the system that makes this method of doing business the most profitable! Remember how Asians took all our manufacturing jobs? They took them. It’s not that corporations moved their operations to where labour is cheaper and has fewer safety regulations, they took them. If we want those jobs back, we have to lower our OWN wages and eliminate our OWN safety regulations! That’s harder to pitch (though they will try!) so capitalists will keep killing Asian people, either by suicide or by explosion, just because the people buying the products made by these dying Asians do not give a single fuck – because, perhaps you’ve noticed the theme, of carefully manufactured racism.

If things are bad, it’s not because of anything we’re doing, it’s because of those funny looking people over there!

Radical Adam Smith fanatic Noam Chomsky argues that capital crossing borders under the guise of corporate personhood, with intra-corporate “trade” crossing the Mexican border unperturbed by any wall, reveals the hypocrisy of this ideology. There is unanimous political agreement that capital ought to be able to cross any border to maximize this exploitative phenomenon. The lithium ought to go to where it is cheapest to manufacture into batteries, and so rich countries need “free trade” deals with poorer countries in order to have the absolute minimal amount of value-added to their product before they sell it. But human persons can’t cross the border; they are told, “Do not come.” It’s equally unanimous. I mean, they do actually want you to come – who else is going to clean toilets on the cheap? They just want you to be desperate. The less value as a person you have, the more worth you have to capitalism. Republicans know that a wall won’t stop desperate people, they just want them to be that much more desperate so that they will complain less about the conditions of their exploitative labour. Or compete with white folks who will then have to accept worse conditions in competition with these desperate migrants and refugees! Wouldn’t it be wild if we convinced those white folks that this was the fault of the family running away from a cartel-backed death squad instead of seeing them as allies against those who would exploit them both? Wouldn’t it be absolutely wild? Such a group would likely fixate on culture war issues like the threats of race and immigration, pedophiles within the LGBT community, and the depiction of women in superhero movies while the policies they implement would focus on tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations, anything to make their followers myopically fixate on a hated Other. Surely such tactics would be so obvious that they would never be considered a serious organization.

I’m clearly hilariously satirizing the Republican party, but the Democrats aren’t much better. Welfare capitalism is at its core a strategy to ensure that those on the bottom rungs are just comfortable enough that they don’t rebel against the system that determines their lot. It’s the Henry Ford version of capitalism – adding a bit of seasoning to the scraps so that the poors have just enough to still participate within capitalism. Liberals are still very capitalistic, but the Right will still misname welfare spending as socialist because irrespective of how capitalistic it remains, they recognize the anti-capitalist nature of acknowledging basic human rights.

If we admit that we don’t want human beings to die, they might actually thrive and then demand even more rights like decent wages or living conditions! Better to dehumanize them to the point where their deaths are actively sought.

In theory, a free market would require the free mobility of labour equivalent to the free mobility of capital to ensure the invisible hand is determined by market forces appropriately, but because capitalism utilizes racism to maximize the profit motive, we get the Chinese Head Tax and all sorts of other racisms to keep racialized workers desperate enough to accept poor wages. I almost wrote “slave wages” there! Haha that would have been a goof! That would allude that capitalism has been relying on racist machinations for much longer than globalization has been around! I mean, is slavery an obvious example that I didn’t even touch on that highlights the blatant exploitation of a racialized class labouring for the profits of a rich, white minority? Have capitalists been using racism since slavery ended to divide a diversity of workers against their natural class solidarity? The answer, of course, is yes.

BECAUSE CAPITALISM IS A VIOLENTLY-ENFORCED HIERARCHY REQUIRING AN EXPLOITED CLASS TO ENSURE MAXIMUM PROFITS, AND IS SYSTEMATICALLY GEARED TOWARD DEMONIZING OTHERED GROUPS TO PERPETUATE THAT EXPLOITATION BECAUSE THAT’S MORE PROFITABLE THAN PROPERLY VALUING THE HUMAN DIGNITY OF A WORKER!

Deep breaths.

I mean… if a business was structured in such a way that there was no hierarchy and instead functioned democratically… that kind of a horizontal system would no longer require a necessarily exploited group! I mean, it wouldn’t be capitalist because businesses would be collectively owned instead of privately, but private ownership of the means of production is… kinda racist. It’s not that everything is racist, just the things that propagate capitalism are racist! Mystery solved!