Thursday, September 13, 2018

Local Legal and Political Ties in the Context of Economic Globalization

theatlantic |  Judges, who are mostly technical people, help weave a fabric of practices, rules, regulations, customs, agreements, and working arrangements—some local and some regional, some formal and some informal. The fabric, like that of Penelope, sometimes comes undone during the night; but we must simply continue to work on the problems before us. I have always liked FDR’s advice: “It is common sense to take a method and try it: If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

Third, and finally, my legal examples suggest the importance of looking to approaches and solutions that themselves embody a rule of law. To achieve and maintain a rule of law is more difficult than many people believe. The effort is ancient, stretching back to King John and the Magna Carta, and still earlier. And the effort does not always succeed. I often describe to judges from other countries how, in the 1830s, a president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, when faced with a Supreme Court decision holding that northern Georgia (where gold had been found) belonged to the Cherokee Nation, is said to have remarked, “John Marshall [the chief justice] has made his decision, now let him enforce it.” Jackson sent troops to Georgia, but not to enforce the law. Instead they evicted the tribe members, sending them along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma, where their descendants live to this day.

Not for more than a century, a period that included the Civil War and decades of racial segregation, would the Supreme Court hold, in Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954, that racial segregation violated the Constitution. Yet the country did not abolish segregation the next year or the year after that. When, in 1957, a judge in Little Rock, Arkansas, ordered Central High School desegregated, the local White Citizens’ Council, supported by the governor, rallied in front of the school, letting no black child enter. It took more than judicial decisions to end segregation. It took a president’s decision to send 1,000 paratroopers to Arkansas. It took Martin Luther King Jr., and the Freedom Riders, and the words and deeds of countless Americans who were not lawyers or judges. Today the public has come to accept the rule of law. When the Court decided Bush v. Gore, a case that was unpopular among many, and was (as I wrote in dissent) wrongly decided, the nation accepted the decision without rioting in the streets. That is a major asset for a nation with a highly diverse population of 320 million citizens.

We do not have to convince judges or lawyers that maintaining the rule of law is necessary—they are already convinced. Instead we must convince ordinary citizens, those who are not lawyers or judges, that they sometimes must accept decisions that affect them adversely, and that may well be wrong. If they are willing to do so, the rule of law has a chance. And as soon as one considers the alternatives, the need to work within the rule of law is obvious. The rule of law is the opposite of the arbitrary, which, as the dictionary specifies, includes the unreasonable, the capricious, the authoritarian, the despotic, and the tyrannical. Turn on the television and look at what happens in nations that use other means to resolve their citizens’ differences.

For my generation, the need for law in its many forms was perhaps best described by Albert Camus in The Plague. He writes of a disease that strikes Oran, Algeria, which is his parable for the Nazis who occupied France and for the evil that inhabits some part of every man and woman. He writes of the behavior of those who lived there, some good, some bad. He writes of the doctors who help others without relying upon a moral theory—who simply act. At the end of the book, Camus writes that
the germ of the plague never dies nor does it ever disappear. It waits patiently in our bedrooms, our cellars, our suitcases, our handkerchiefs, our file cabinets. And one day, perhaps, to the misfortune or for the education of men, the plague germ will reemerge, reawaken the rats, and send them forth to die in a once-happy city.
The struggle against that germ continues. And the rule of law is one weapon that civilization has used to fight it. The rule of law is the keystone of the effort to build a civilized, humane, and just society. At a time when facing facts, understanding the local and global challenges that they offer, and working to meet those challenges cooperatively is particularly urgent, we must continue to construct such a society—a society of laws—together.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Fooling Yourselves About the Fair and Uniform Application of Rules

WaPo |  Both sides are missing a crucial dimension — one that ultimately bends in the direction of the pro-Williams camp. Just like the criminal-justice system, tennis and many other sports depend on the subjective discretion of neutral arbiters to apply a set of supposedly objective “rules.”

Ramos did indeed follow the code, and each of the three sanctions had some justification, thus satisfying the “rules” camp. But for two of the three violations (the racket smashing was unambiguous), he used his discretion to punish Williams for acts — coaching and heated exchanges with an umpire — that occur routinely in tennis but are seldom punished.

Within the criminal-justice system, the same principle of discretion also applies, with much more severe and damaging consequences on human lives than the outcome of a tennis match.

At every stage, criminal-justice officials regularly justify individual decisions based on their discretionary interpretation of a rule. When a police officer makes a “routine traffic stop” for a car that changed lanes without signaling, or decides to arrest someone found with recreational drugs, technically the decision is warranted — even if numerous other people commit the same “infractions” without any consequences. Prosecutors have tremendous discretion to decide, for example, whether to charge a child as an adult, add additional enhancements to press for a plea bargain or seek the death penalty. Judges often make discretionary sentencing decisions (recall the Stanford University swimmer case). And prison officials have almost full discretion in issuing disciplinary infractions and sending inmates to solitary confinement.

In all of these instances, one can always say, “Well, this person didn’t follow the rules,” and on an individual basis that may seem sufficient to justify the consequences. What gets lost, however, is that rules are rarely applied regularly, consistently or fairly.

Worse, in the criminal-justice area, these rules are without question applied unevenly, with overwhelming racial disparities at every stage. People of color are far more likely than their white peers to be arrested for the same behaviorcharged for the same crimesentenced to more time for the same conviction, sent to solitary confinement for the same activity and denied parole despite similar prison records.

Without diminishing Osaka’s level of play or achievement, and without excusing Williams’s behavior, the outcome of the U.S. Open may have been determined by an umpire’s discretionary decisions that were far outside the norm. Rather than fool ourselves about the universality of rules, we should question the vast and often unchallenged use of discretion in both sports and criminal justice.

The International Criminal Court MUST NOT BE Recognized...,

newyorker |  The I.C.C., from its inception, has been impossibly compromised by the simple, definitive fact that many of the world’s most lawless countries, along with some of its most powerful—including the U.S., Russia, and China, the majority of permanent members of the U.N. Security Council—reject its jurisdiction. After sixteen years with no major triumphs and several major failures to its name, it would be easier to make the case for it if there were reason to believe that it could yet become the court of last resort for all comers that it is supposed to be, rather than what it is: a politically captive institution that reinforces the separate and unequal structures of the world. Maybe the best that one can hope for the court, in its current form, is that it can yet inspire some people who seek the rule of law to find a way to achieve it. Bolton rejected the very idea that it could inspire any good, simultaneously exaggerating the power of the I.C.C. as an ominous global colossus and belittling it as a puny contemptible farce. The only historically proven deterrent to “the hard men of history,” he declared, is “what Franklin Roosevelt once called ‘the righteous might’ of the United States.”

So what, really, was the point of Bolton’s speech? Where was the news in this “major announcement on U.S. policy?” He noted that Israel, too, faces the prospect of an I.C.C. investigation and announced that, in solidarity, the State Department was closing down the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington. But then he said that the closure wasn’t necessarily about the court but rather a general punishment of “the Palestinians,” because “they refuse to take steps to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” Beyond that, nothing that Bolton threatened—by way of shutting out, sanctioning, and declaring war on the I.C.C., and treating its personnel or anyone in the world who assisted it as criminals—went much beyond a rhetorical amplification of what he acknowledged has been established in U.S. law since the American Service-Members’ Protection Act. This wasn’t foreign policy. It was swagger.

Bolton has, thus far, enjoyed an absence from the Woodwardian accounts of Trump White House backbiting, subterfuge, and dysfunction. So it is tempting to think that he was deployed to deflect attention from the White House chaos, while his boss spent the day issuing uncharacteristically Presidential tweets about the hurricane bearing down on the Carolinas. Bolton, however, left out one point from his old Journal piece in this week’s speech, and the omission seems telling: “The ICC prosecutor,” Bolton wrote, “is an internationalized version of America’s ‘independent counsel,’ a role originally established in the wake of Watergate and later allowed to lapse (but now revived under Justice Department regulations in the form of a ‘special counsel’). Similarly, the ICC’s prosecutors are dangerously free of accountability and effective supervision.”

So the threat comes from within, after all. The problem is the existence of the prosecutor, who endangers sovereignty, which in Trump-speak means being above the law. The President and the nation cannot be held to account or supervised, so the prosecutor has to be. The President and the nation cannot be criminals, so the prosecutor must be. The prosecutor cannot be recognized. The prosecutor must be disempowered.

Concerning Specific Forms of Masturbation...,

theguardian |  The game’s top umpires are considering forming a union because they believe Carlos Ramos was “hung out to dry” by the authorities during and after the US Open women’s final despite upholding the rules in sanctioning Serena Williams.

Many officials were also left angry with the fact that the International Tennis Federation took nearly 48 hours to defend Ramos, on Monday afternoon, by which time the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA) had supported Williams’s claims of sexism after she was given a game penalty for her behaviour during her defeat by Naomi Osaka.

Umpires are not allowed to speak out publicly under the terms of their contracts, and are employed by grand slams and men’s and women’s tours, which means many are reluctant to say anything for fear of losing their jobs. However, one senior figure told the Guardian that privately there was widespread concern about how the USTA and WTA had rushed to support Williams – which had led to vitriol and abuse on social media for Ramos.

“There is a lot of unhappiness in the umpiring community because no one is standing up for officials,” the senior figure told the Guardian. “Umpires keep asking: ‘What if it was me in that chair on Saturday?’ There is a widespread feeling that Carlos was hung out to dry for nearly 48 hours and that no one is standing up for officials.”

In the absence of any official support for Ramos until Monday, it was left to two former senior umpires, Mike Morrissey and Richard Ings, to defend the Portuguese official. “I have had lots of messages saying this is a joke,” said one source. “There is a lot of anger out there.”

Listen Little Man....,

telegraph |  As the sport continued to tear itself apart over the Serena Williams sexism row, the International Tennis Federation stepped in on Monday night to defend beleaguered umpire Carlos Ramos.

In the absence of any representative body to speak for tennis officials, it fell to the ITF to say what should be evident to all: despite Williams’s repeated insistence that Ramos owes her an apology, he was just doing his job when he penalised her a point and a game during Saturday’s tumultuous women’s US Open final.

“Carlos Ramos is one of the most experienced and respected umpires in tennis,” said the ITF, which is Ramos’s employer. “[His] decisions were in accordance with the relevant rules and were re-affirmed by the US Open’s decision to fine Serena Williams for the three offences.

“It is understandable this high-profile and regrettable incident should provoke debate. At the same time, it is important to remember Mr Ramos undertook his duties as an official according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.”

The statement might not have been necessary were it not for the further accusations of sexism that were levelled at Ramos on Sunday by two of tennis’ major stakeholders. First Katrina Adams, the head of the United States Tennis Association, told ESPN: “We watch the guys do this all the time, they’re badgering the umpire on the changeovers. Nothing happens. There’s no equality. There has to be some consistency across the board. These are conversations that will be imposed in the next weeks.”

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Nike Thrives On the Empty Stomachs and Other Hardships of Young Women Worldwide...,

counterpunch |  Nike changes its brand more often than Madonna and more profitably. In the company’s latest transformation, Nike has risked–make that sought–the ire of Donald Trump and his drones by making Colin Kaepernick the face of its latest campaign under the inspiring slogan: “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” 

Kaepernick’s brief presence in an otherwise sentimental ad triggered a tweet from Trump and a boycott by the Deplorables, who took to burning their overpriced footwear. It was precisely the response Nike wanted and sales of Nike products have surged over the last week. With social justice icon Kaepernick fronting the brand, no one will be thinking about Nike’s wretched labor practices inside its sweatshops in Honduras, Indonesia and Vietnam. 

This is a proven formula for the company. When Nike was under intense public scrutiny in the 1990s, it recruited civil rights legend Andrew Young to whitewash the company’s record. The image changed, but the cruel conditions didn’t. 

Now, with the company rocked by sexual harassment charges against some of its top executives, Nike’s betting that Kaepernick will refrain from speaking out against the dismal practices of his employer. Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and LeBron James have all remained mute about the savage treatment of the workers who make the shoes and apparel that are sold under their image. So as a reminder who Nike really is under the patina of its pitchmen, we’re running this excerpt from my book Born Under a Bad Sky.–J

Monday, September 10, 2018

Surprise, Surprise, Japanese Racism NOT a Homegrown Phenomenon...,

wikipedia |  Eugenics in Japan has influenced political, public health and social movements in Japan since the late 19th and early 20th century. Originally brought to Japan through the United States (like Charles Davenport and John Coulter), through Mendelian inheritance by way of German influences, and French Lamarkian eugenic written studies of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.[1] Eugenics as a science was hotly debated at the beginning of the 20th, in Jinsei-Der Mensch, the first eugenics journal in the Empire. As the Japanese sought to close ranks with the West, this practice was adopted wholesale, along with colonialism and its justifications.[2]
The concept of pureblood as a criterion for the uniqueness of the Yamato people began circulating around 1880 in Japan, while eugenics in the sense of instrumental and selective procreation, clustered around two positions concerning blood, the pure blood (純血 junketsu) and the mixed blood (混血 konketsu).[2]
Popularity of the pure-blood eugenics theory came from a homegrown racial purity or monoculture national belief that has been part of Japanese society since ancient times[citation needed]. The local movement was however less focused on modern scientific ideals and more on the "outside person" vs the "native or inside person" and blood purity.[2]
Later legal measures were supported by certain politicians and movements that sought to increase the number of healthy pure Japanese, while simultaneously decreasing the number of people suffering mental retardation, disability, genetic disease and other conditions that led to them being viewed as "inferior" contributions to the Japanese gene pool.[3][4]
Opposition to the eugenics movement persisted amongst several right-wing factions, including members of the Diet of Japan and obstetricians, who perceived eugenics as suggesting that the Japanese people were only animals, not inhabitants of the "country of the kami" (神国 shinkoku) as believed by the Japanese national Shinto tradition.[5] Yoshiichi Sōwa (曽和義弌), author of "Japan's Shinto Revolution",[6] wrote in 1940, "When we look up into the past, the people of our country are descended from the kami. Are they claiming we must sterilize these people?"[7] Similar resistance to these theories occurred within conservative and traditional Christian communities in the United States.

wikipedia |  Racial discrimination against other Asians was habitual in Imperial Japan, having begun with the start of Japanese colonialism.[62] The Meiji era Japanese showed a contempt for other Asians. This was exemplified in an editorial titled Datsu-A Ron, which advocated that Japan treat other Asians as other western empires treat them. The Shōwa regime preached racial superiority and racialist theories, based on nature of Yamato-damashii. According to historian Kurakichi Shiratori, one of Emperor Hirohito's teachers: "Therefore nothing in the world compares to the divine nature (shinsei) of the imperial house and likewise the majesty of our national polity (kokutai). Here is one great reason for Japan's superiority."[63]
According to the An Investigation of Global Policy with the Yamato Race as Nucleus, a classified report in 1943 of the Ministry of Health and Welfare completed on July 1, 1943, just as a family has harmony and reciprocity, but with a clear-cut hierarchy, the Japanese, as a racially superior people, were destined to rule Asia "eternally" as the head of the family of Asian nations.[64] The most horrific xenophobia of the pre-Shōwa period was displayed after the 1923 Great Kantō earthquake, where in the confusion after a massive earthquake, Koreans were wrongly maligned as poisoning the water supply. A vicious pogrom resulted in the deaths of at least 3,000 Koreans, and the imprisonment of 26,000. 

Attacks against Western foreigners and their Japanese friends by nationalist citizens, rose in the 1930s under the influence of Japanese military-political doctrines in the Showa period, after a long build-up starting in the Meiji period when only a few samurai die-hards did not accept foreigners in Japan.[65] For an exception, see Jewish settlement in the Japanese Empire

Racism was omnipresent in the press during the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Greater East Asia War and the media's descriptions of the superiority of the Yamato people was unwaveringly consistent.[66] The first major anti-foreigner publicity campaign, called Bōchō (Guard Against Espionage), was launched in 1940 alongside the proclamation of the Tōa shin Shitsujō (New Order in East Asia) and its first step, the Hakkō ichiu.[67]
Mostly after the launching of the Pacific War, Westerners were detained by official authorities, and on occasion were objects of violent assaults, sent to police jails or military detention centers or suffered bad treatment in the street. This applied particularly to Americans and British; in Manchukuo at the same period xenophobic attacks were carried out against Chinese and other non-Japanese.


Policing A Victorian Institution Built By Upper-Class Men

pbs |  Upper class men built and curated the U.S. Tennis and Lawn Association, now the USTA, toward the end of the Victorian era. Even though women played, men led the association for more than 100 years, wrote its rules — what players wore, when women played, how many sets in a match and more — and enforced them.

One of the first examples of this appears as an asterisk in its rules from 1903, clarifying that, “it was (officially) decided that ‘all matches in which ladies take part in tournaments … shall be the best two in three sets.’” Men continued playing five.

Historian Warren Kimball, a former volunteer for the association who spent years curating the association’s history for his book, “Raising the Game,” said he never found a documented explanation for this rule, but feels certain that men just decided that “women were not strong enough.”

That rule persisted for the better part of tennis’ history and still exists today for the biggest championship under the association’s governance: the U.S. Open. Except now, Thompson said, some traditionalists use this disparity as an argument to push against equal pay.

The association was also ignoring if not rejecting black players, even though Tuskegee Institute, an all-black college, held tournaments as early as the 1890s, according to the book. 

While it had black players on its Ivy League teams, it declined Howard University’s application for membership in 1922, according to minutes published in the book, because “southern clubs would ‘see red’ on that … there would be no chance in the world of a club of negros [sic] getting membership in the Association.”

By the late 1940s, white women were struggling with rules policing their femininity and how they should look on the court. American Gertrude Augusta Moran, known as “Gussie,” wanted to feel more feminine, and reached out to a top designer ahead of her Wimbledon tournament to ask for a colorful ensemble. 

The designer, knowing Wimbledon’s strict, all-white rules that are almost the same today, instead designed a short skirt and lace-trimmed underwear, which she wore for the first time at a pre-match tea party.

“Gorgeous Gussie’s Lace-Fringed Panties No. 1 Attraction on Wimbledon’s Courts,” was the headline that ran in The New York Times reviewing the party.

By the time she had to compete, she walked onto the court with the racket in front of her face, while photographers pushed for space on the floor to get a shot of the lace. She was eliminated from Wimbledon early and the designer was banned from hosting and dressing other players.

Even though she ranked fourth in the nation at her peak, because of the reaction to her lace, her legacy as a sex symbol consumed her reputation for talent. 

“I really couldn’t handle the pressure,” she told the Orlando Sentinel nearly 40 years later. 

Individual Game Changing Comes At Great Cost

theindependent |  “Everyone was in a very awkward situation yesterday. A lot of emotions. Serena was crying. Naomi was crying. It was really, really tough.

“But I have my personal opinion that maybe the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final.

“He changed the course of the match, which in my opinion was unnecessary. We all go through our emotions, especially when you're fighting for a Grand Slam trophy.”

After the match Williams accused Ramos of sexism, claiming that he had never deducted a game from a male player for calling him “a thief”.

The former world No 1 received backing on Sunday from Steve Simon, the Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Tennis Association, who claimed that umpires do not treat female players in the same way as men.

Simon said in a statement: “The WTA believes that there should be no difference in the standards of tolerance provided to the emotions expressed by men versus women and is committed to working with the sport to ensure that all players are treated the same. We do not believe that this was done last night.”

Sunday, September 09, 2018

When You Don't "Do The Work" Or Know How To "Do The Work"...,

nakedcapitalism |  Peggy McIntosh has described how she stumbled upon the reality of her white privilege. She began to brainstorm about what privileges she had that her black colleagues did not, but encountered fierce resistance from her unconscious mind.
I repeatedly forgot each of the realizations on this list until I wrote it down. For me, white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country; one’s life is not what one makes it; many doors open for certain people through no virtues of their own.
McIntosh was thus reluctant to see herself as having unearned advantages relative to her black colleagues, and this reluctance stemmed from a more fundamental commitment to believing that one’s life is “what one makes it” and that doors open for people due to their “virtues.”

She persevered, however, and understanding finally came. She was unable to keep silent about what she had learned, and her talk in essay form was soon being eagerly read by others; in the words of one facilitator,
[…] “white privilege,” was popularized by the feverish, largely grassroots, pre-World-Wide-Web circulation of a now famous essay by my now-equally-famous friend and colleague, Peggy McIntosh.
Readers followed in McIntosh’s footsteps, coming to grips with previously hidden and painful truths about their own privilege, and the rest is history.
But what actually happened cannot have been this simple.
A problem of chronology
Three years earlier, McIntosh had given a talk about how decent people often perceive “fraudulence” in
the myths of self-realization which go this way: “I came up from nothing, rags to riches, from pink booties to briefcase on Wall Street. I did it all myself. I knew what I wanted and I was self-reliant. You can be, too, if you set your sights high and don’t let anything interfere; you can do anything you want.” Now it seems only honest to acknowledge that that is a myth.
Did she at that time believe racial disparities were a thing of the past?
Women and lower caste or minority men are especially few in the tops of the hierarchies of money, decision making, opinion making, and public authority, in the worlds of praise and press and prizes, the worlds of the so-called geniuses, leaders, media giants, “forces” in the culture.
Let’s summarize.
In 1985, McIntosh proclaimed that meritocracy consisted of clearly “fraudulent” claims, noted how it was in conflict with racial and gender equality, and urged undermining belief in meritocracy as essential for the survival of humanity; in 1988, she said that she had been fiercely reluctant to accept that she was unfairly advantaged by being white because it entailed “giv[ing] up the myth of meritocracy.”

We could try to rescue this chronology by postulating, for example, that McIntosh composed her privilege lists and acknowledged her white privilege before 1985. She then… kept silent about it for years, perhaps because she was still embarrassed about white privilege? But wasn’t embarrassed about her opposition to meritocracy, which she shouted from the rooftops? This seems a bit… strained.

Or we could conclude, with Amber A’Lee Frost, that she is full of shit.

I will propose a more charitable alternative, which I think is also more likely.

Suppose McIntosh did experience a sort of epiphany in 1988, which involved new ideas and the renunciation of important previous commitments. If sufficiently traumatic, this experience could have played havoc with her sense of time, and of her past self – a development which has been amply documented in similar contexts.

To see whether this is at all plausible, we should look at what the pre-1988 McIntosh believed. For this, we do not have to rely on what McIntosh says she believed. There is in fact extant one piece of writing by McIntosh from prior to 1988. Maybe only one, although it is a difficult to be sure; according to Frost, McIntosh is “incredibly protective of her intellectual property.”

It is a talk from 1985, about a dozen pages long in text form, entitled Feeling Like a Fraud. It is, to say the least, fascinating.

What It Means To Be From An Unimportant Liminal Place

Guardian |  When affluent urban men in plaid flannel shirts let their hair grow wild and unkempt across their face and necks to affect a laborer’s style for doing laptop work in coffee shops, I think of my dad immaculately trimming his beard every morning before dawn to work on a construction site. The men closest to me took meticulous care with their appearance whenever they had the chance.

Mom, too, presented herself like her main job was to be photographed, when it was more likely to sort the inventory in the stockroom of a retail store. Her outfits were ensembles cobbled together from Wichita mall sale racks, but she always managed to look stylish. My favorite was a champagne-colored silk pantsuit that was cut loose and baggy. She wore it with a scarf that had big, lush roses on it like the satiny wallpaper she had glued and smoothed across our hallway. She had married a farm boy but had no interest in plaid shirts.

For me, country was not a look, a style, or even a conscious attitude, but a physical place, its experience defined by distance from the forces of culture that would commodify it. That place meant long stretches of near-solitude broken up by long drives on highways to enter society and then exit again.

Owning a small bit of the countryside brought my father deep satisfaction. The state had seized some of his dad’s farmland through eminent domain in the 1960s to dig the reservoir and move water east in underground tunnels for the people of Wichita. Sometimes Dad would park his truck on the shoulder of the two-lane blacktop that ran along the lake dam and take my brother and me up the long, steep concrete steps to look at what would have been his and then our small inheritance, now literally underwater. We couldn’t use the water ourselves; it was for Wichitans to access by turning on a faucet. We thus had dug a private well right next to a giant reservoir on what once was our land. It’s an old story: pushing poor rural communities out of the way to tap natural resources for cities.

Witnessing this as a child had affected Dad deeply, and he shared Grandpa’s attitude toward the value of land: “They don’t make any more of it.” He had plans to buy the bit of land north of the house and build an addition when my brother and I were older and needed more room.
Mom was less sure of these plans.

Some evenings, I’d watch her curl and tease her dark hair at the vanity mirror that my dad had built next to their master-suite bathroom. She smelled of hair spray and Calvin Klein Obsession perfume. She left in the darkness and turned her car wheels from our dirt road on to the highway for Wichita.
When Mom went to a George Strait concert at the small Cowboy Club in Wichita, when Strait was newly famous, Dad sat at the stereo next to our brick fireplace, listening to a radio broadcast of the show on a country station. George would pick a woman from the audience to join him on stage, the man on the radio said. Dad held his breath, worried that Mom would be picked and swept away by a handsome celebrity in tight Wranglers and a cowboy hat. The men I knew more often wore ball caps stained through by the salt of their foreheads.

Dad didn’t even like country music. Too sad, he said.

In college, I began to understand the depth of the rift that is economic inequality. Roughly speaking, on one side of the rift was the place I was from – laborers, workers, people filled with distrust for the systems that had been ignoring and even spurning them for a couple decades. On the other side were the people who run those systems – basically, people with college funds who end up living in cities or moving to one of the expensive coasts. It’s much messier than that, of course. But before arriving on campus, I hadn’t understood the extent of my family’s poverty – “wealth” previously having been represented to me by a friend whose dad was our small town’s postmaster and whose mom went to the Wichita mall every weekend.

Even at a midwestern state university, my background – agricultural work, manual labor, rural poverty, teen pregnancies, domestic chaos, pervasive addiction – seemed like a faraway story to the people I met. Most of them were from tidy neighborhoods in Wichita, Kansas City, the greater Chicago area. They used a different sort of English and had different politics. They were appalled that I had grown up with conservative ideas about government and Catholic doctrine against abortion. I was appalled that they didn’t know where their food came from or even seem to care since it had always just appeared on their plates when they wanted it.

There was no language for whatever I represented on campus. Scholarships and student organizations existed to boost kids from disadvantaged groups such as racial minorities, international students and the LGBTQ community. I was none of those things, and professors and other students often assumed from looking at me or hearing me speak that I was a middle-class kid with parents sending me money.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

Carlos Ramos First and Last Women's Singles Grand Slam Final

Why I Intuitively Adopted Aggressive Black Partisanship Instead of Submissive Intersectionality...,

nakedcapitalism |  If we consider modern privilege discourse as a sort of semi-animate entity, a part of its genius lies in its ability to convince its adherents that questioning it means claiming that no disadvantages distributed unfairly according to collective patterns exist.

Or that questioning it means denying the existence of subtle conventions that make certain people feel unwelcome in certain settings.

Or, closer to home, that critiquing McIntosh’s œuvre means dismissing all of her ideas.

I believe, on the contrary, that there are important questions that should be asked about all of these topics. Privilege discourse doesn’t exactly encourage asking them, but that doesn’t need to stop us.

First, the lateral/vertical world distinction is worth thinking about. The way in which the distinction is partially overlaid on gender in McIntosh isn’t really essential, even to her own treatment of the idea.
Real questions arise at this point. To what extent can things smacking of meritocracy be done away with? To what extent can the vertical world be marginalized? 

To what extent can people, even well-meaning people working towards similar goals, discuss ideas without sometimes tearing the social fabric? 

The lateral world seems less uncomplicatedly good than McIntosh suggests. The secretary praised by her for “keeping everything going” might be working for an elementary school, but might instead be working for an arms dealer. In a case like the latter, the lateral world’s relationship with the vertical world is not conflictual but symbiotic.

One thought I’ve had is that I think people respond better if treated as individuals who are potentially involved in larger group patterns, rather than as exemplars of groups, fighting an uphill battle in any effort to be seen as single people.

One way in which privilege discourse has been “efficient” is by separating the process of classification of something as a privilege from the process of assigning it a moral charge. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with trying to look at advantages as a single large category. But from this starting point, it seems clearly important to make distinctions about where these advantages come from, what they signify, and what can be done about them.

In the spirit of McIntosh’s vertical/lateral distinction, we could make a (not at all hard and fast) distinction between “vertical” and “lateral” advantages. Vertical advantages would include things like money, where people generally feel like having more is preferable. Lateral advantages would include things like speaking French versus speaking English, where either one can be preferable, depending on the milieu.

One problem, in fact, with classifying lateral advantages as “privileges” (and therefore presumptively bad) is that they are more or less coterminous with culture. If the goal is to make it so there are no environments where some people are more confident and others less confident, I don’t see how to do this without leveling all cultural distinctions. After all, one name for a place where a particular group of people feel disproportionately comfortable is home.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Dalits Hating Gandhi Related to the Necessity of BlackDOS Standing

Counterpunch |  Dalits call themselves Dalits because they reject what they have been historically called, “untouchables”, though most other oppressed peoples in India are included in the title. The word comes from the “dal”, crushed lentils, that is India’s staple food, as in a crushed and broken people.

Most of the leadership of India’s Dalit community see Gandhi as the main force in preserving the practice of Varna in post independence India for his opposition to reserved voting rights for India’s Dalits in India’s post independence constitution. This means all castes can vote for the elected Dalit leaders, for those seats in the Indian Parliament reserved for “minorities”.

Dalits believe that if only Dalits could vote for Dalit leaders than a more truly representative selection would take place. This is where Gandhi drew the line, that allowing Dalits to chose their own leaders directly was not to be allowed, and he went on his famous hunger strike to the death to prevent this from happening.

The Dalits leader, Dr. Ambedkar, finally gave in, accepted Gandhi’s demand and Dalits lost the  right to directly chose their own leaders. This loss of choice is what Dalit leaders say is what is most responsible for preserving Varna in India after independence. Without Dalit leaders chosen directly by Dalits there has been no one to fight for Dalit rights by the effective outlawing of varna through the enforcement of the Indian Constitution authored by the Dalit leader Dr. Ambedkar, or so most Dalit leaders will tell you. After over a half century of independence India’s Constitution is still not being enforced with only a fraction of positions reserved for Dalits in employment and education being filled.

One thing is for sure and that is caste/varna is king in India’s almost half a million villages where caste infested Hindus dominate society and Dalits are forced into the most menial and degrading professions. Even drinking water from the wells reserved for caste infested Hindus is forbidden.
Most Dalit’s lives in post-Gandhi India remain one of misery and hardship with basic education for their children still just a dream. Being unable to even chose their own leaders directly through reserved voting and with Gandhi playing such a pivotal role in this happening is the reason India’s Dalits hate Mohandas Gandhi.

The "Because It's Legal" Open Thread

Counterpunch |  Well, the harsh truth about the integrity and fortitude of billionaires is finally out in the open for all to see, and the results are repugnant: Billionaires are gutless, chicken-hearted cowards. The proof is found in the pudding as several Silicon Valley billionaires purchase massive underground bunkers built in Murchison, Texas shipped to New Zealand, where the bunkers are buried in secret underground nests.

All of which begs this question: What’s with capitalism/capitalists? As soon as things turn sour, they turn south with tails between their legs and hightail it out of Dodge. However, they feast on and love steady, easy, orderly avenues (markets) to riches, but as soon as things heat up a bit, they turn tail and run.

History proves it time and again, for example, FDR rescued capitalism, literally rescued it, from certain demise by instituting social welfare programs for all of the citizens as capitalists fled and/or jumped off buildings.

Then during the 2008 financial meltdown capitalists were found curled up in the corners of rooms as all hell broke lose. Taxpayers, “Everyday Joes,” had to bail them out with $700B in public funds, and even more after that. All public funds! Taxpayers, average Americans, bailed them out!

Capitalists can’t take the heat as well as gritty American industrial workers that ended up bailing them out of the “jam of the century.” As explained by Allen Sinai chief global economist for Decision Economics, Inc, discussing Milton ‘laissez-faire’ Friedman’s free-market dogma vis a vis the 2008 economic meltdown: “The free market is not geared to take care of the casualties, because there’s no profit motive.”

The chicken-hearts from Silicon Valley already have Gulfstream G550s ($70M each) readied at a Nevada airstrip for the quickie escape journey to NZ.

Escape, from what?

Well, of course, the 99%, you silly!

Thursday, September 06, 2018

Silly Kneegrows: I KNOW You Don't Believe Nike "Just Did It" For You!?!?

theconservativetreehouse |  From a pure economic/financial perspective this Nike  branding campaign doesn’t make sense…. unless, you realize a much bigger picture. A hidden bigger picture.

On its face, it just seems absurd. Why would any major corporation intentionally stake out a branding position that is adverse to their financial interests?

I’ve spoken to some very excellent business actuaries on this late today; and one specific conversation finally helped to make it all make sense.  During that conversation a good ally shared: “a multinational corporation would never make a branding decision adverse to their financial interests. Unless there is a hidden risk unrelated to what is visible on the surface.” ….

''BINGO, there it is, the lightbulb went on.

A hidden risk that likely has nothing whatsoever to do with Colin Kaepernick.

The bigger risk to Nike has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter, U.S. Consumers, or Antifa-like political advocacy. The bigger financial risk to the Nike Corporation has everything to do with geopolitics and a reset of international trade agreements.

Here’s the hidden aspect with research to back it up.  Nike Inc. has hitched its massive corporate existence to a 10-year business plan that is dependent on the continuance of recently negotiated manufacturing contracts.

The Nike political branding position is reconciled when you look at the bigger picture and see where the real financial risk aligns. The Nike economic decision is to align with China, and by extension North Korea, for a position of mutual benefit. It is all about the proverbial $$$$ and Nike’s best financial play is to mitigate risk and assist Communist China in their trade strategy.

China is willing to subsidize Nike (lower production costs), and replace any dropped revenue, in exchange for mutually beneficial political opposition against Trump and by extension his policies that are a risk to Beijing. As a result there is minimal financial risk to the Nike Corporation.

And with the current multinational Wall Street agenda now being confronted, we should not expect this approach to stop at Nike.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

The Theory of Property Supremacy

ineteconomics |  Buchanan, a 1940 graduate of Middle Tennessee State University who later attended the University of Chicago for graduate study, started out as a conventional public finance economist. But he grew frustrated by the way in which economic theorists ignored the political process.
Buchanan began working on a description of power that started out as a critique of how institutions functioned in the relatively liberal 1950s and ‘60s, a time when economist John Maynard Keynes’s ideas about the need for government intervention in markets to protect people from flaws so clearly demonstrated in the Great Depression held sway. Buchanan, MacLean notes, was incensed at what he saw as a move toward socialism and deeply suspicious of any form of state action that channels resources to the public. Why should the increasingly powerful federal government be able to force the wealthy to pay for goods and programs that served ordinary citizens and the poor? 

In thinking about how people make political decisions and choices, Buchanan concluded that you could only understand them as individuals seeking personal advantage. In an interview cited by MacLean, the economist observed that in the 1950s Americans commonly assumed that elected officials wanted to act in the public interest. Buchanan vehemently disagreed — that was a belief he wanted, as he put it, to “tear down.” His ideas developed into a theory that came to be known as “public choice.” 

Buchanan’s view of human nature was distinctly dismal. Adam Smith saw human beings as self-interested and hungry for personal power and material comfort, but he also acknowledged social instincts like compassion and fairness. Buchanan, in contrast, insisted that people were primarily driven by venal self-interest. Crediting people with altruism or a desire to serve others was “romantic” fantasy: politicians and government workers were out for themselves, and so, for that matter, were teachers, doctors, and civil rights activists.  They wanted to control others and wrest away their resources: “Each person seeks mastery over a world of slaves,” he wrote in his 1975 book, The Limits of Liberty

Does that sound like your kindergarten teacher? It did to Buchanan.
The people who needed protection were property owners, and their rights could only be secured though constitutional limits to prevent the majority of voters from encroaching on them, an idea Buchanan lays out in works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993). MacLean observes that Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged “prey” of “parasites” and “predators” out to fleece them. 

In 1965 the economist launched a center dedicated to his theories at the University of Virginia, which later relocated to George Mason University. MacLean describes how he trained thinkers to push back against the Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate America’s public schools and to challenge the constitutional perspectives and federal policy that enabled it. She notes that he took care to use economic and political precepts, rather than overtly racial arguments, to make his case, which nonetheless gave cover to racists who knew that spelling out their prejudices would alienate the country. 

All the while, a ghost hovered in the background — that of John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, senator and seventh vice president of the United States. 

Calhoun was an intellectual and political powerhouse in the South from the 1820s until his death in 1850, expending his formidable energy to defend slavery. Calhoun, called the “Marx of the Master Class” by historian Richard Hofstadter, saw himself and his fellow southern oligarchs as victims of the majority. Therefore, as MacLean explains, he sought to create “constitutional gadgets” to constrict the operations of government. 

Economists Tyler Cowen and Alexander Tabarrok, both of George Mason University, have noted the two men’s affinities, heralding Calhoun “a precursor of modern public choice theory” who “anticipates” Buchanan’s thinking. MacLean observes that both focused on how democracy constrains property owners and aimed for ways to restrict the latitude of voters. She argues that unlike even the most property-friendly founders Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, Buchanan wanted a private governing elite of corporate power that was wholly released from public accountability. 

Suppressing voting, changing legislative processes so that a normal majority could no longer prevail, sowing public distrust of government institutions— all these were tactics toward the goal. But the Holy Grail was the Constitution: alter it and you could increase and secure the power of the wealthy in a way that no politician could ever challenge. 

Gravy Train to Oligarchy
MacLean explains that Virginia’s white elite and the pro-corporate president of the University of Virginia, Colgate Darden, who had married into the DuPont family, found Buchanan’s ideas to be spot on. In nurturing a new intelligentsia to commit to his values, Buchanan stated that he needed a “gravy train,” and with backers like Charles Koch and conservative foundations like the Scaife Family Charitable Trusts, others hopped aboard. Money, Buchanan knew, can be a persuasive tool in academia. His circle of influence began to widen. 

MacLean observes that the Virginia school, as Buchanan’s brand of economic and political thinking is known, is a kind of cousin to the better-known, market-oriented Chicago and Austrian schools — proponents of all three were members of the Mont Pelerin Society, an international neoliberal organization which included Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. But the Virginia school’s focus and career missions were distinct. In an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), MacLean described Friedman and Buchanan as yin and yang: 

“Friedman was this genial, personable character who loved to be in the limelight and made a sunny case for the free market and the freedom to choose and so forth. Buchanan was the dark side of this: he thought, ok, fine, they can make a case for the free market, but everybody knows that free markets have externalities and other problems. So he wanted to keep people from believing that government could be the alternative to those problems.”

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Cymatics - Insights Into the Invisible World of Sound

soundtravels |  We live in a vast ocean of sound, whose infinite waves ripple the shores of our awareness in myriad patterns of intricate design and immeasurably complex vibrations … permeating our bodies, our psyches, to the very core of our being.

So begins the program, Of Sound Mind and Body: Music and Vibrational Healing and so begins this whirlwind account, unveiling the mysteries of sound. Perhaps because it is invisible, less attention has been paid to this sea of sound constantly flowing around and through us than to the denser objects with which we routinely interact. To those of us for whom ‘seeing is believing’, Cymatics, the science of wave phenomena, can be a portal into this invisible world and its myriad effects on matter, mind and emotions.

The long and illustrious lineage of scientific inquiry into the physics of sound can be traced back to Pythagoras, but this article will focus on more recent explorations into the effects that sound has upon matter. However, a brief sum- mary of the last three centuries of acoustic research will help to highlight a few of the pioneers who blazed the trail so that Cymatics could emerge as a distinct discipline in the 1950s.

READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE (PDF) - click this link (opens new window)

READ THE WHOLE BOOK - click this link (opens pdf)

Monday, September 03, 2018

Does Music Link Space and Time in Brain Dynamics?

opentheory |  I think all neuroscientists, all philosophers, all psychologists, and all psychiatrists should basically drop whatever they’re doing and learn Selen Atasoy’s “connectome-specific harmonic wave” (CSHW) framework. It’s going to be the backbone of how we understand the brain and mind in the future, and it’s basically where predictive coding was in 2011, or where blockchain was in 2009. Which is to say, it’s destined for great things and this is a really good time to get into it.
I described CSHW in my last post as:
Selen Atasoy’s Connectome-Specific Harmonic Waves (CSHW) is a new method for interpreting neuroimaging which (unlike conventional approaches) may plausibly measure things directly relevant to phenomenology. Essentially, it’s a method for combining fMRI/DTI/MRI to calculate a brain’s intrinsic ‘eigenvalues’, or the neural frequencies which naturally resonate in a given brain, as well as the way the brain is currently distributing energy (periodic neural activity) between these eigenvalues.
This post is going to talk a little more about how CSHW works, why it’s so powerful, and what sorts of things we could use it for.

CSHW: the basics
All periodic systems have natural modes— frequencies they ‘like’ to resonate at. A tuning fork is a very simple example of this: regardless of how it’s hit, most of the vibration energy quickly collapses to one frequency- the natural resonant frequency of the fork.

All musical instruments work on this principle; when you change the fingering on a trumpet or flute, you’re changing the natural resonances of the instrument. 

CSHW’s big insight is that brains have these natural resonances too, although they differ slightly from brain to brain. And instead of some external musician choosing which notes (natural resonances) to play, the brain sort of ‘tunes itself,’ based on internal dynamics, external stimuli, and context.

The beauty of CSHW is that it’s a quantitative model, not just loose metaphor: neural activation and inhibition travel as an oscillating wave with a characteristic wave propagation pattern, which we can reasonably estimate, and the substrate in which they propagate is the the brain’s connectome (map of neural connections), which we can also reasonably estimate.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

You Don't Have To Go Home, But You Gotta Get The Hell Up Out Of Here!!!

scmp |  Having obtained a dual bachelor’s degree from a US university and climbed to a senior software engineer’s position within two and a half years of working for an American company, Owen Wang was forced to dramatically scale back his salary expectations when he decided to come home to China.

Currently working in Kansas City – where the average annual senior software engineer’s salary is US$100,000, according to – the best offer from a Chinese firm he has received so far is a package from a Shenzhen-based start-up worth around 240,000 yuan (US$35,250).

But while he had expected salaries in the southern Chinese city to be lower than those on offer in the US – the per capita income in Kansas City is over four times more than the average in Shenzhen – he had been hoping someone would offer him a pay packet worth around 500,000 yuan a year.

“We’re still negotiating. I guess I will finally accept a compromise if there’s no better choice, but the quality of my life will drop significantly,” said the 27-year-old.

Wang’s plan to return home is not motivated purely by financial considerations – he worries that tighter US immigration policies will make it harder for him to stay and his parents have been hoping that he will be able to come home and visit them more often – but his disappointment is mirrored by many of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese who return home from studying and working overseas every year.

A recent survey by a Beijing-based think tank of more than 2,000 Chinese returnees found that about 80 per cent said their salaries were lower than expected, with around 70 per cent saying what they were doing did not match their experience and skills.

China's Exploitation of Africa

caseyresearch |  Justin: Is China exploiting Africa?  

Doug: Of course “exploit” is a loaded word; it implies one-sided, unbalanced dealings, and unfair business—although the word “fair” also has lots of baggage, and politically charged meanings.

But, yes, they’re definitely exploiting Africa. We’re seeing a veritable re-colonization of Africa. Every time I visit Africa I see more and more Chinese. It doesn’t matter which country; they’re everywhere.

It’s important to remember that Africa doesn’t produce anything besides raw materials. There’s close to zero manufacturing, like 1% of the world’s total, in sub-Saharan Africa. And almost all of that is in South Africa. The little there is, is only produced with the help foreigners—Europeans, but increasingly the Chinese.

The Chinese basically see Africans as no more than a cheap labor source. That’s at best. Other than that, they’re viewed as a complete nuisance. Basically an obstacle, a cost, standing in the way of efficient use of the continent itself.

What do the Chinese people think of Africans? They don’t hold them in high regard. Of course, you’ve got to remember that China has viewed itself as the center of the world since Day One. They see all non-Han peoples as barbarians, as inferiors. That was absolutely true when the British sent an ambassador, Macartney, to open relations at the very end of the 18th C. He was treated with borderline contempt—pretty much the way Europeans and Americans have treated primitive peoples since the days of Columbus. It’s actually the normal human attitude, when an advanced culture encounters a backward culture. The Chinese see their culture as superior to even that of the West, and believe—probably correctly—that they’ll soon be economically and technologically superior as well.

Africa doesn’t even enter the equation. The continent has no civilization, no economy, no technology, no military power. The famed Zimbabwe ruins are just some semi-finished rocks piled on one another—and they’re considered iconic. The Chinese see the place the way the Spanish saw Mexico and Peru in the 16th C. Of course they won’t say that in public. In fact it’s very non-PC for anyone to make that observation…

Nonetheless, Africa is going to be the epicenter of what’s happening in the world for years to come. It’s gone from being just an empty space on the map in the 19th C, to a bunch of backwater colonies in the 20th C, to a bunch of failed states that people are only vaguely aware of today. Soon, however, it will be frontpage news. And this is both because Chinese are moving to Africa in record numbers and Africans are leaving as fast as they can.

Many Africans are now trying to make their way to Europe. Every year scores of thousands of them—all young men by the way—cross the Mediterranean on rafts. When they arrive in Europe, they somehow survive by selling bobbles on the street, dealing dope, or stealing. And figuring out how to game the welfare system. Now, I realize this doesn’t sound very promising. But that’s the way things are headed. It’s a growing trend.

Mama Said Knock You Out....,

Guardian |  Historians have emphasised how male workers, humiliated by such repressive industrial practices as automation and time management, also began to assert their manhood by swearing, drinking and sexually harassing the few women in the workforce – the beginning of an aggressive hardhat culture that has reached deep into blue-collar workplaces during the decades-long reign of neoliberalism. Towards the end of the 19th century large numbers of men embraced sports and physical fitness, and launched fan clubs of pugnacious footballers and boxers.

It wasn’t just working men. Upper-class parents in America and Britain had begun to send their sons to boarding schools in the hope that their bodies and moral characters would be suitably toughened up in the absence of corrupting feminine influences. Competitive sports, which were first organised in the second half of the 19th century, became a much-favoured means of pre-empting sissiness – and of mass-producing virile imperialists. It was widely believed that putative empire-builders would be too exhausted by their exertions on the playing fields of Eton and Harrow to masturbate.'

But masculinity, a dream of power, tends to get more elusive the more intensely it is pursued; and the dread of emasculation by opaque economic, political and social forces continued to deepen. It drove many fin de siècle writers as well as politicians in Europe and the US into hyper-masculine trances of racial nationalism – and, eventually, the calamity of the first world war. Nations and races as well as individuals were conceptualised as biological entities, which could be honed into unassailable organisms. Fear of “race suicide”, cults of physical education and daydreams of a “New Man” went global, along with strictures against masturbation, as the inflexible modern ideology of gender difference reached non-western societies.

European colonialists went on to impose laws that enshrined their virulent homophobia and promoted heterosexual conjugality and patrilineal orders. Their prejudices were also entrenched outside the west by the victims of what the Indian critic Ashis Nandy calls “internal colonialism”: those subjects of European empires who pleaded guilty to the accusation that they were effeminate, and who decided to man up in order to catch up with their white overlords.

This accounts for a startling and still little explored phenomenon: how men within all major religious communities – Buddhist, Hindu and Jewish as well as Christian and Islamic – started in the late 19th century to simultaneously bemoan their lost virility and urge the creation of hard, inviolable bodies, whether of individual men, the nation or the umma. These included early Zionists (Max Nordau, who dreamed of Muskeljudentum, “Jewry of Muscle”), Asian anti-imperialists (Swami Vivekananda, Modi’s hero, who exhorted Hindus to build “biceps”, and Anagarika Dharmapala, who helped develop the muscular Buddhism being horribly flexed by Myanmar’s ethnic-cleansers these days) as well as fanatical imperialists such as Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scout movement.

The most lethal consequences of this mimic machismo unfolded in the first decades of the 20th century. “Never before and never afterwards”, as historian George Mosse, the pioneering historian of masculinity, wrote, “has masculinity been elevated to such heights as during fascism”. Mussolini, like Roosevelt, transformed himself from a sissy into a fire-breathing imperialist. “The weak must be hammered away,” declared Hitler, another physically ill-favoured fascist. Such wannabe members of the Aryan master race accordingly defined themselves against the cowardly Jew and discovered themselves as men of steel in acts of mass murder.

This hunt for manliness continues to contaminate politics and culture across the world in the 21st century. Rapid economic, social and technological change in our own time has plunged an exponentially larger number of uprooted and bewildered men into a doomed quest for masculine certainties. The scope for old-style imperialist aggrandisement and forging a master race may have diminished. But there are, in the age of neoliberal individualism, infinitely more unrealised claims to masculine identity in grotesquely unequal societies around the world. Myths of the self-made man have forced men everywhere into a relentless and often futile hunt for individual power and wealth, in which they imagine women and members of minorities as competitors. Many more men try to degrade and exclude women in their attempt to show some mastery that is supposed to inhere in their biological nature.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

The Sick Men of Asia

theatlantic |  This alignment of certain Asians with whites evokes historical instances of ethnic groups migrating from minority status to becoming part of the majority racial group. Sociologists have a name for this phenomenon: “whitening.” It refers to the way the white race has expanded over time to swallow up those previously considered non-whites, such as people of Irish, Italian, and Jewish heritage. In the next wave of whitening, some sociologists have theorized, Asians and Latinos could begin to vanish into whiteness, as some assimilate culturally into white norms and culture, and become treated and seen by whites as fellow whites. “The idea of who is white and which groups belong and don’t belong to it has been malleable and has changed. It is different across place and time,” Jonathan Warren, a University of Washington sociology professor who has written about whitening, told me.

The recent lawsuits echo the process by which whitening previously took place—in part, with the political and legal alignment of non-white groups with pro-white interests. While some Irish Americans once socialized and lived among black Americans and held anti-slavery views, they were courted by and ultimately joined the pro-slavery Democratic party, and came to pride themselves on their newfound whiteness and embrace anti-black stances. Centuries later, they are considered white people in the United States. Class, too, has influenced how minority groups have been viewed over time. According to Matthew Jacobson, a history professor at Yale, the idea of whitening stems in part from Brazil, where there’s a Portuguese phrase that translates to “money whitens.” The idea is that “if you move up the economic ladder you get magically whitened,” Jacobson says. “Some idea like that has been transposed into the U.S.”

Asians as a whole are not, of course, considered white people: The 2018 census form allows respondents to select from a number of Asian ethnicities. And not all academics agree that whitening will take place for Asian and Latino communities—Warren and Jacobson both say it isn’t happening, at least not to the degree it did previously. That’s partly because, as Jacobson notes, Asians and Latinos suffer from racial stereotypes such as the “model math student,” and the “immigration menace,” as he called it, that mark them as foreigners and non-whites.