By definition, a political movement needs a shared set of political goals. By that measure, there have been two feminist movements in history: first wave, which fought primarily for the women’s right to vote, and second wave (aka Women’s Lib) which fought primarily on issues of sexual liberation (abortion, contraception, recognition of rape within marriage) and equality under law.
Although there are still plenty of people calling themselves feminists, and one hears of third and fourth wave feminism (anyone raise me to fifth?), political feminism fizzled out in the mid-1970s, having achieved its goals. From that point on, we’ve been landed with cultural feminism, putting forward a vague, often contradictory set of values and beliefs, but no coherent political movement. I’ve often asked “feminist” friends what feminism is, and the answer generally goes something like: “I believe in women’s rights. Well, I guess I believe in human rights really. So…”
The basic problem is that feminism requires a set of goals that apply to all women. Unfortunately, it can’t seem to find any that weren’t already addressed 40 or more years ago. This doesn’t stop feminists claiming they know what women want or need; and in turn, this explains why most women have no interest in defining themselves as feminists any more. There are no identifiable political objectives that unite all, or even most, women, any more than there are issues that unite all men.
In place of political demands, which can be fulfilled, today’s feminists instead claim that women are “oppressed” or suffer from “structural misogyny” or similar. And thus, unlike the short-lived first and second wave feminist movements, today’s “movement” has no goals, and so can live forever. Feminism has morphed from a political movement to a quasi-religious one, railing against its own demon, The Patriarchy. Today’s feminism claims it wants to bring down The Patriarchy and end Female Oppression. Since The Patriarchy is imaginary, this movement can live on forever.
But what about female oppression? Given the widespread belief in this phenomenon, one would expect it to be easy to define and quantify. Once quantified, a political programme could be drawn up to end it, and feminism can be victorious once and for all. But it turns out that the idea of systemic female oppression has little or no solid evidence to back it. Indeed, it is based on a series of myths that, over the decades, have become cemented into articles of religious faith. Try to question these beliefs, and believers will respond like the disciples of any other religion: with anger and abuse. Blasphemy against this faith will make you a Misogynist, a Rape Apologist or a tool of the Patriarchy. You will be burned at the virtual stake.
In the following two articles, I will look at the evidence for female oppression: firstly, the economic case, and second the issue of gender violence.
British politics are getting more interesting. The two parties that have shared power for most of a century, along with the traditional third party, are all in decline. Scotland is undergoing a nationalistic surge, and has become – for the time being – a one-party state. Insurgent parties of right and left are in the ascendency. Much discussion goes on about the nature of UKIP, but the Greens have been under far less scrutiny. Urban liberals, disenchanted with Labour and the Liberal Democrats have drifted greenwards.
The Green Party has adopted the kinds of left-wing talking points that would appeal to disenchanted progressives in search of a new party, but its roots lie in environmentalism. Although the environmental movement has become associated with the left in recent decades, its instincts lie in true, small-c conservatism: a deeply-held belief that the old ways are the good ways. Because of this, the Greens have a dodgy relationship with science and high-technology solutions.
As I’ve blogged often, the intellectual collapse of the left in recent decades has left me bereft of a political home, forced to re-evaluate my beliefs in the absence of a tribe I can belong to. The idiot new left, having noticed that brown people are less wealthy than white people (on average), has made that most basic of all mistakes: confusing correlation with causation, and has decided that the economic dominance of Europeans in recent centuries is all about racism.
MoronWatch came into existence to take snarky aim, on Twitter, at right-wing stupidity, religious/superstitious fundamentalism, bigotry and state brutality – a mish-mash of interests which all come under the umbrella of “moron-watching”. Those who have followed my blog for a while will realise the wheels began to come off this objective a couple of years ago, as my eyes were opened to immense depths of stupidity on the left as well as the right. Having been active on the left for a while in the 80s, I’ve been shocked and saddened by the intellectual decline that has taken place on the left while I’ve not been paying attention.
When I were a lad (yes, even Londoners had northern accents back then), and a left-wing activist, we were greatly concerned about oppression; and in the 1980s, there was no shortage of examples. The South African police had shot dead schoolchildren in Soweto in 1976, and continued to gun down innocents on a regular basis. In Latin America, US-backed dictatorships kidnapped, tortured and murdered thousands of activists. In Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, US-backed terrorists attacked civilians on a wide scale, with a special love of atrocity. In Africa, civilians were slaughtered in proxy wars between the US and USSR. Asia saw brutality on an unimaginable scale.
The left stood for the rights of oppressed peoples, but understood clearly that oppression is primarily a function of economic means, not of race, sex or sexuality. While we also opposed prejudice on these grounds, and supported women’s rights, gay rights and anti-racism causes, we knew that ultimately, oppression and poverty were inextricably linked.
But the left slowly died as the Cold War came to an end, and capitalism (coupled with social democracy) proved itself more resilient than Marx had predicted. The death of the British left can be located to a particular date: 3rd March 1985, when the miners sadly walked back to work after their long strike. For me, and many of my friends, this marked the point when our activism ended and we drifted away to live our lives.
But the organs of the left remained, and were rapidly taken over by a new breed: overwhelmingly white, middle-class and rooted in academia rather than trade unionism. This new left failed to understand the economics of poverty and oppression (never having witnessed these things themselves), so set about writing themselves a new ideology. So we found ourselves thrust into the era of identity politics.
The new left lacked the intellect of the old, and found itself making the most fundamental of all mistakes: confusing correlation with causation. So the left now sought out new groups that appeared to oppressed. Because white people held the most economic power, the moronic left reasoned that skin colour was a cause of oppression, and labelled all non-whites as victims. And since laws had been rigged against women, the left decided that mere possession of a vagina was equivalent to oppression.
While paying lip service to the oppression of the poor, the overwhelming white, academic, middle-class left no longer had any links with the working class, and so they focused on rescuing the oppressed groups they knew best: themselves. Largely, this meant that the individuals with the most “oppressions” (yes, I’ve really seen it used in the plural) were fast-tracked to the top. Those who screamed their self-pity the loudest became the most powerful, fast-tracked into political power.
But the rise of gay and black (often both) individuals was orchestrated by the white people who kept a firm hand on the reins. Black people would only be allowed into the hierarchy if they accepted that they were oppressed. Gay and non-white people who didn’t see themselves as oppressed by their colour or sexuality were labelled self-haters, and side-tracked. Non-white activists like Linda Bellos, Lee Jasper and Diane Abbott were only acceptable because they echoed the view of the white, middle-class establishment that they were oppressed.
In the intervening years, the self-pitying rhetoric of “oppression” and “privilege” has only gained further ground, to the extent that the meaning of these two words has been twisted almost beyond recognition. Almost comically, white, middle-class women appear to have decided that they are the most oppressed of all. Now, oppression isn’t something that happens to you. It’s something that you are. Now, oppression isn’t having your children shot dead, or a daily struggle to feed one’s family. No, oppression is a white middle-class woman, with a good job, having to endure the fact that men like looking at pictures of breasts. The following is a genuine tweet from just such an oppressed woman:
On tube sat next to a man reading The Sun and thus I start my day feeling a continuing sense of oppression
One wonders if Prozac might be the solution to this sort of oppression… or perhaps just a nice spliff. But I digress.
The old left tried to overturn oppression, but to the new left, this is pointless. Rather than fix inequalities, the left has decided to cement inequality into place permanently. Now, anybody labelled Oppressed must be given special privileges as compensation. In a deeply Orwellian twist, the more oppressed one is deemed to be, the more privilege they must be given in return.
Thus, the woman who finds Page 3 imagery objectionable need not merely boycott the Sun (as I’ve done my whole life). Now she has the right to demand that Page 3 is removed from the Sun. As an oppressed woman, she has won the privilege of censorship. Don’t Page 3 models also have a right to work? Apparently not – the rights of the oppressed middle-class woman are far greater than those of the working class one.
The “black community” (an almost meaningless phrase) is also deemed to be oppressed. Those black individuals who accept their oppression (and scream loudly about it) are welcomed by the left. Black individuals who doubt their own oppression, or who see the dangers in teaching black children that they’re automatically oppressed, are screamed down as self-haters.
This was most clearly shown by the recent London art exhibition, Exhibit B, which was forced to close after the “black community” (or rather, a mob of 200 people) blockaded it. Thus, black people are SO oppressed that they too are granted the right of censorship of anything that offends them. Never mind that the exhibition had been critically acclaimed in multiple cities before reaching London, or that black people were far from united in hating it, or that those who protested against it had never seen it.
The irony with Exhibit B is that the mob was enabled by the white elite. Their oppression (and thus, their privilege) was granted to them by white people. Their language of “oppression” and “privilege” was forged by the white middle-classes in universities around the country. Far from being “conscious” or liberated, this black minority is determined to follow a white agenda to the bitter end. The left is determined to tell black people that they are doomed to fail; and give them a handy excuse for failure – their skin colour.
So now, the left doesn’t expect black people to conform to the rules affecting whites. And so, politics has turned full circle. In accepting that black people, women, and other groups, are oppressed, the left has attempted to destroy the very thing it used to fight for: equality. Now, groups deemed oppressed by the white elite are granted special allowances. And the fight for equality takes a huge step backwards.
So is it any surprise that groups have sprung up on the right to declare men and white people oppressed? Sure, these people are laughable – but no more laughable than the claims of oppression by the left. Self-pity is the new black.
If you’re born into a middle-class existence in the UK, you aren’t oppressed. This is true regardless of your skin colour, who you choose to fuck, or the shape of your genitals. It’s genuinely sickening to watch the pity-fest that has replaced left-wing politics in the 21st century. Get over yourselves.
As Israel slaughters its way through Gaza, it’s frustrating to watch discussions get confused by the daily complexities of the conflict, because the underlying truth is incredibly simple: the Zionists that now firmly control Israeli government intend to take permanent control of Gaza, making it a part of their nation. There is no nuance or balance needed to see the big picture. This might be illegal, brutal and savage, but nobody can claim not to understand it. To illustrate the point, here are four maps showing Israel and Palestine at various points in the past century. Gaza is the little strip of green on the coast on the left.
In Israel’s colonial plan, Gaza is a minor issue. The real prize is the West Bank, and as the map shows, that is being taken one settlement, one house at a time. Those spots of green are getting smaller every day. They are little spots of misery in a wealthy land, lacking the water, roads and other infrastructure available to the rest of Israel, and facing regular violence from Israeli settlers, who are backed by IDF forces. The biggest prize of all is Jerusalem, and as the map shows, that was once clearly part of Palestine, and is now being surgically extracted and grafted on to Israel.
From a historical point of view, the events in Israel-Palestine are fascinating to watch. Once, such land grabs were commonplace. In fact, every point on Earth was once inhibited by different racial and tribal groups: America and Australia were, of course, not white, England wasn’t Anglo-Saxon and China wasn’t Chinese. But blatant colonialism has mostly been banished into history. Israel-Palestine is (one can hope) the last example of a once normal class of human behaviour. It is also the only colonial takeover ever to be recorded in such minute detail on social media.
In 2005, Israel withdrew all Jewish settlers from Gaza. At the time, this was hailed as progress; but Israel had no intention of staying out, or of allowing Gaza to operate a normal economy or society. As soon as the withdrawal finished, a savage blockade was begun, ostensibly to prevent terrorist attacks. Gazans (including children) were terrorised, arrested, tortured, humiliated. Gazan fishermen were prevented by the Israeli navy from legally fishing, often coming under gunfire. Denied building materials and fuel, infrastructure crumbled. Disease spread and life expectancy fell. Gaza remained a desperate place, isolated even from the main body of Palestinian life in the West Bank.
The Hamas Myth
So it’s no surprise that support for the conservative Hamas grew in Gaza, creating a rift between Gazans and those in the West Bank who largely supported the secular Fatah movement. Hamas’ rise was aided by Israel, which benefited by sowing division in Palestine, and by creating for itself an “extremist” enemy. In the propaganda war, Hamas has repeatedly proven itself useful to Israel, as has been seen again in the current conflict, confusing observers into believing that Israel actually needs to defend itself against a mortal enemy.
Hamas was elected to power in Gaza in 2006, much to Zionist delight. Now the Israeli population could be whipped up into an eternal state of fear against the extremists, and the lines between Hamas and all Palestinians could be repeatedly blurred. It is often pointed out that Hamas calls for nothing less than the destruction of the state of Israel, and this is true, but it is falsely claimed that Hamas could never be persuaded to recognise Israel. Hamas has often proven itself far more pragmatic than the “terrorist” image crafted by Israel.
Hamas has come close, at various times, to reaching a peace agreement. But Israel has never wanted peace, and nor does it want a Hamas “monster” that turns out not to be monstrous after all. Conciliatory Hamas leaders have repeatedly been assassinated by Israel: this fact alone exposes the lie that peace has ever been on offer. In 2012, Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari was close to signing a peace agreement, and so Israel, true to form, murdered him. Hamas has never been a serious obstacle to peace: Israel is the only obstacle to peace, because accepting peace would mean abandoning the colonial Zionist project of taking all of Palestine.
Again, in the current conflict, Hamas’ demands have not been extreme. Hamas has offered Israel 10 conditions for a lasting truce. The conditions are all reasonable, and in most cases simply demand that Israel complies with international law. And yet, Israel rejects them, and thanks to the lies of global media and governments, the public is allowed to believe the “peace with Hamas is impossible” lie.
Hamas is widely disliked by most Palestinians, and is largely powerless; and yet the ongoing slaughter is presented as a “war” between two sides. Such is the comedy of Zionist propaganda.
Since withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, Israel has alternated between providing slow death and fast death for the people of Gaza. During Operation Cast Lead in 2008/09, around 1,400 Palestinians were killed. Around half of these were civilians; those classed as “fighters” included many Palestinian police, who had been deemed a valid military target by Israel. The UN’s report, carried out by Richard Goldstone (a Jew), made clear that Israel had been repeatedly guilty of war crimes and violations of humans rights.
Besides the human cost, Israel destroyed or damaged schools, hospitals and 20,000 homes during Cast Lead. Once the conflict was over, a resumed blockade ensured that these could not be rebuilt. Gaza became increasingly unfit for human existence: in 2009, the UN reported that Gaza’s water supply was close to collapse – and yet Israel continued to blockade any investment in infrastructure. This has been nothing less than slow genocide, carried out in full view of the world.
So Hamas has blindly fired puny rockets at Israel. Didn’t Native Americans have the right to fire arrows at white settlers, even if the act was futile? The firing of rockets is futile, and plays into Israel’s hands. But what. The fuck. Are Palestinians supposed to do? By way of comic interlude, here’s a cat being startled by a scary Hamas rocket.
The Anti-Semitism Shield
As a Jew, I have no fear in attacking Israel, but many of my non-Jewish friends tell me that they often hold back for fear of the standard “anti-Semite” attack. During this current attack on Gaza, I’ve been heartened to see increasing numbers of Jews, in the UK, US, Israel and elsewhere, standing up for Palestinians. Ex-IDF soliders too have been speaking out. In doing so, they help burst the myth that this conflict is about Jew against Arab, or Jew against Muslim.
It is true that anti-Semitism is, and has been for centuries, a powerful force, especially in Europe. It may well also be true that European anti-Semitism is on the rise. In part, that rise is the result of Israeli terrorism. Europe’s Jews can’t expect support from Israel’s Zionists; indeed, the Zionist wet dream is that an upsurge in violence against Jews in Europe will drive us to Israel, increase the Jewish population there, and add strength to the conquest of Palestine.
So it has been obvious, for years, that Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza was a temporary step, rather than an acceptance that Palestinians could keep hold of that little coastal strip of land. The question was when, and how, they would seize Gaza.
Today, we began to learn. The map below was tucked away at the bottom of a BBC news article. Israel, which has already killed over a thousand in the current conflict, and maimed countless more, declared a “buffer zone” in Gaza, and advised civilians to leave it. The problem with this announcement being that the zone takes up almost half of Gaza. Or, in other words, Gazans are being squeezed into half the previous space: and Gaza was, already one of the most densely populated places on the planet. Gazans (half of them children) are, as we speak, being driven into the sea.
I write this post with a heavy heart: there was once a time when I had a valid claim to be among Richard Dawkins’ greatest fans. There was a time when I would have treasured a tweet from the great man; but when my moment arrived (last Saturday), I was long past getting excited by it.
I had decided I was an atheist around the age of twelve, but on reaching my twenties, I realised I couldn’t fill all the gaps in my detailed understanding of evolution, and decided I needed to remedy that situation. The remedy was Dawkins’ book, The Blind Watchmaker, which I tore through in days, enjoying every page. A little later, I read Dawkins’ first book, and true masterpiece, The Selfish Gene, which blows away the idea that evolution necessarily favours the most violent, selfish individuals, and thus gives a little hope for mankind in a godless universe.
And then, in 2006, came The God Delusion, a highly ambitious project. This time, instead of using biology alone to undermine religious ideas, Dawkins travels across a wide range of philosophical arguments in order to destroy the basis of religious belief. Again, I bought the book almost as soon as it was available (OK, perhaps I waited for the paperback) and read it fast. Again, many of the arguments were fascinating and compelling. In his usual razor-sharp way, the author shredded any possible religious response. The God Delusion is a devastating blow to religious thinking.
But there was something a little different and disturbing about this book. For the first time (at least, the first time I had noticed), the mask of scientific impartiality slipped. Dawkins’ hatred of religion became more pronounced, most blatantly in Chapter 8: “What’s Wrong With Religion? Why be So Hostile?” On its own, this was no problem to me: I’ve never been a fan of religion either. But Dawkins was now attacking the basis of religious freedom, arguing that to teach a child irrational belief was effectively child abuse. The subtext was clear: child abuse cannot be tolerated in a civilised society, and so – if society accepts his argument that religion is indeed abusive – then religion cannot be tolerated either. It’s a position that any fascist would be proud of: “we are too tolerant to tolerate you!”
The intolerance of ideas is a deeply unscientific position, and thus an odd one to be coming from someone who has spent so much of his life promoting science. The Enlightenment – which laid the foundations of modern democracies – was based on the twin ideas of reason and freedom of thought. The fathers of the Enlightenment advocated a free marketplace of ideas as the only model for human advancement. Dawkins himself invented the word meme to model how ideas spread and mutate within such a marketplace. Either Dawkins has no faith that his own ideas could thrive against religious ones in a free marketplace, or his hatred of religion is driven by just that: hatred.
There seems to be a particular type of Twitter atheist that revels in attacking, and trying to upset, religious people. Many of these atheists were raised with religion before becoming atheists, and tend to blame their earlier intolerance on their religion rather than on their own innate wankishness. They seem not to notice that they’re just as intolerant as they used to be: they’ve just converted from being religious wankers into atheist wankers. Dawkins, since taking to Twitter himself, has attracted a large following of such people (and simultaneously lost many of his earlier admirers).
Dawkins’ Twitter rants have become infamous, and he has often been denounced as a bigot. Until recently, I haven’t subscribed to the idea that he is bigoted against any one religion or group; he clearly has a hatred for religion (and religious people) in general. But it has been hard to ignore that he, like so many “enlightened” people, has a special hatred for Muslims (although he would no doubt characterise it as a hatred of Islam rather than the religion’s followers). To my eyes, his crime has been far worse than just irrationally hating people: he has shown himself quite willing to abandon scientific principle in order to demonstrate his dogmatic view that religion is evil. Thus, he will happily tweet about the flogging of a woman for adultery (because the abuse has a religious justification) while ignoring mass slaughter in Congo or Sri Lanka (because he has no interest in rapes or murders that can’t be blamed on religion). This, from a man who was theUniversity of Oxford‘s Professor for Public Understanding of Science for over a decade. Cherry-picking data to suit your dogma is the very crime for which he has correctly castigated purveyors of creationism and Intelligent Design.
Dawkins is also happy to spread anti-Islamic mythology when it serves his purpose. His site purports to be dedicated to removing the influence of religion, and yet carries several articles about female genital mutilation; this is clearly done to perpetuate the myth that FGM is an Islamic practise. But it isn’t: it’s primarily an African cultural one, largely perpetrated by women against their daughters and granddaughters. What do articles about FGM have to do with Dawkins’ war on religion? In reality, nothing, but they help him demonise religion as evil, and stir up intolerance. Clearly, accuracy and truth – things that are at the core of science – matter less than creating hatred against religious people. In trying to destroy religion, Dawkins has adopted the methods of religion.
Is he just naively amplifying far-right propaganda against Muslims, or does he have a far-right agenda of his own? I have long supported the former view, but evidence is increasing for the latter. One of many generic far-right Muslim-baiting Twitter accounts is @JihadistJoe. Although Joe claims to be a running a JIHADIST PARODY, COMEDY & SATIRE account, he seems to have forgotten he’s supposed to be a PARODY. Besides forgetting to tweet in character, Joe also forgets he’s supposed to be tweeting COMEDY. Joe does retweet a lot of bigoted comedy, and yes I admit, some of it is even funny if you can get past the small-minded hatefulness of it all. But Joe’s own material is as funny as you’d expect from someone who’s too stupid to know what “parody” means (i.e. not funny at all).
Dickie’s view differs from mine, however, and on Saturday he tweeted:
I don’t know who Joseph Al-Qaeda (@JihadistJoe) is, and I can’t RT all his tweets, but he’s very funny and DEADLY accurate. Follow him.
Being attacked by Dawkins for being shit at biology would be hurtful, but being abused by one of the world’s most humourless men for my lack of humour? I can handle that. Note the “.” to make his tweet public – I was then, of course, bombarded with tweets from moronic Dawkins fans for a while; I make no protest, as I’ve frequently employed the same tactic.
So Dawkins has proven a huge disappointment to me, and many others who admired him as a man of science. Is he really stupid enough to fall for the anti-Muslim propaganda that’s become so prevalent? That seems unlikely; but he seems guilty of the anti-science crime of not questioning data if it backs his own bigoted views. And for that reason, however high his IQ might be, I think it’s fair to say that Richard Dawkins is a moron.