In Defense of the Traditional Family (Response to Will Kymlicka)

In this post I will be responding to the political philosopher Will Kymlicka, as he wrote in his book Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction. The part I will be responding to will be in his section written on Feminism. The book is intended to be an educational text, but there is a clear (and intentional) bias throughout, so I will be working from the assumption that Kymlicka agrees with the arguments he put forward. In the chapter on Feminism, he breaks down three major arguments in favor of contemporary feminism in the West, the first of which being what he refers to as the dominance approach. In this argument, he tries to show that taking a stance against discrimination of women is not enough to achieve sexual equality. This is because the very manner of which society has been set up is for the benefit of men. If one wants to make society more equal for women, then one must rethink how society is structured. One such way that he demonstrates this is by critiquing traditional marriage, demonstrating that it is an oppressive institution that makes women dependent on men. I will attempt to represent Kymlicka’s argument on such a subject as accurately as I can and will then provide a rebuttal to his points.

The Feminist Argument Against Traditional Marriage

Kymlicka asks us to “Consider a society which restricts access to contraception and abortion, which defines paying jobs in such a way as to make them incompatible with childbearing and child-rearing, and which does not provide economic compensation for domestic labour.” These three conditions are the foundation upon which a patriarchal society is situated. As long as these three conditions are present, then society is sure to be structured in a way that oppresses women and privileges men. The fact that they do not have any legal means to avoid pregnancies through the use of contraceptives and abortions, and simultaneously are not allowed to raise children while working a full-time job, forces women to make life decisions that lead them towards dependence on men. Kymlicka argues that women’s means for doing this are becoming “sexually attractive to men.” They will inevitably not go for the same economic opportunities and will instead try to appeal to men. “This, in turn, results in a system of cultural identifications in which masculinity is associated with income-earning, and femininity is defined in terms of sexual and domestic service for men, and the nurturing of children.” This characterizes patriarchy. There are roles that men and women are prescribed to and they are specifically defined to place men in a position of privilege over women. As a result of these differing pressures on men and women, they go into the institution of marriage with differing outlooks. The woman is going in dependent on a man to help her survive, especially if she intends to have children. Then, as time goes by, the marriage only makes her more dependent, as she is expected to be the one who stays home to take care of the children. She is incapable of establishing a career so the prospect of a divorce is almost out of the question. If the woman can’t support herself outside of the marriage, while the man can, then that gives the man leverage over the woman. He has less incentive to maintain that marriage than she does, so he can use this to control her.

In response to the oppressive nature of the institution of marriage, Kymlicka claims that society needs to reject the three basic conditions that serve as the foundation for patriarchy. If abortion is legalized and contraception is made available to the population, if institutions of employment are structured in a way that makes them compatible with child-bearing and child-rearing, and if women are compensated for the all of the domestic duties done by them, then this will have a trickle down effect, where masculinity and femininity as roles in a society are defined equally. As is obvious, this argument is put forward purely in the abstract. Kymlicka is not claiming that any particular society, especially in the West, fits this characterization perfectly. He does, however, claim that all Western liberal democracies contain elements of what is described and are, therefore, all are patriarchal to some degree (1).

Problems With The Feminist Argument

There is quite a lot to unpack with this argument, so to begin, I will start by saying that I will be critiquing various elements of this line of reasoning followed by an argument for why the institution of marriage is actually preferable. Not only is it not oppressive to women, but it is specifically tailored for everyone’s benefit, as it acknowledges human nature.

Let us take a look at the three conditions that provide the basis for a patriarchal society:

Condition One

The first of which is not having access to abortion and contraceptives. Standing against this condition is the most reasonable of the three. If women are denied access to abortion and contraceptives, then that will severely alter their approach to everyday life, as they will have to either practice chastity while gunning for a career, or latch on to a man who will support them. Unfortunately for feminists, abortion in particular is something that is more nuanced than they would like it to be. Looking at it in the abstract terms of gender equality, it seems to be common sense that abortion be legalized. It is not that simple, though. There are detractors, many of them women, who believe abortion to be an immoral act, as it involves terminating the development of a fetus after it has already begun. I will not get into the weeds of this issue in this post; I am simply pointing out that there exists another dimension to this issue that feminist will happily ignore if they can get away with it. It is one of those issues where both sides of the debate are so uninterested in the other side of the argument that it inevitably devolves into moral grandstanding and accusations. But to get back on point, if we are going to involve the issue of abortion in this debate, whether you like it or not, it is not accurately characterized by giving the women a choice over whether she wants a child or not. Some people claim that the child has a life with value. Middle ground may be accessible with the acknowledgment of adoption centers, as they can serve as a replacement for abortion, but this will inevitably require concessions of the feminist side of the debate, as women will still have to deal with the implications of child bearing.

Condition Two

The second condition is a society where institutions of employment are defined so that they are incompatible with childbearing and child rearing. This is mainly referring to how institutions do not have employee benefits like paid maternity leave, which hurts women’s prospects of successfully maintaining a career while also having a child. This is regardless of whether that woman is married or not.

The first point I want to make here is that employee benefits like paid maternity leave will actually have a negative effect on women’s employment prospects. Something that is regularly being talking about in intersectional feminist circles is the concept of unconscious bias and how this affects women and minorities in their everyday lives. Studies have shown that men and women have their applications for jobs selected for at differing rates, even when the applications are identical. This is considered to be a great issue in the modern West, and it even has its own big, scary name to shock the masses into action: systemic oppression. Upon the adoption of paid maternity leave, I argue that what is referred to as systemic oppression will only increase. Place yourself in the shoes of the employer for a moment. If you have the possibility to hire a man or a woman, you would absolutely take into account the fact that the women will likely go out on paid maternity leave at some point or another, possibly multiple times. This will increase the amount of bias against women in hiring.

The first response to this is to provide paternity leave as well as maternity leave, but this is complicated by the fact that men rarely ever use their paternity leave, mainly because it is not necessary. They may be able to take time off to care for the child, but they don’t birth children, so it is not the same. It is unrealistic to expect that paternity leave will mitigate the amount of discrimination against women upon being hired. The second response to this would be to use social pressure to influence how people are hired. In other words, use quotas that prescribe the amount of people within a particular demographic that can be hired within that institution. An example of this would be an institution making sure fifty percent of their employees are women. This will eliminate the discrimination against women in hiring even in spite of paid maternity leave. The problem with this is that institutions that are now adopting this strategy are no longer hiring people according to their qualifications. Instead, they are hiring people on the basis of characteristics that say nothing about their ability to contribute to that institution. In the interest of maximizing the output of any institution, it is advisable to avoid such practices. Over time, it is possible that the market will be a disincentive to companies opting into this quota solution, as other companies could be more successful than them. If this happens, then government action would be required to maintain quotas. You can see where this is going.

Government control is a slippery slope. Government solutions often create problems, which require more solutions. Using the government to force paid maternity leave on business owners will ultimately lead to more systemic oppression of women in hiring, which will spur on even more government intervention to fix that new problem: quotas. It is questionable whether this will ever end. The issue is much broader, too: Requiring paid maternity leave is a government intervention in an employer’s business, which sets a precedent of government control of private property. Once this precedent has been established, it then opens up the possibility of other ideological forces using this government power to push whatever agenda they may espouse. If you can do it, so can they.

This strategy also involves throwing individuals under the bus. Men who are qualified for those positions can potentially lose out against women for no other reason than because they were born that way: mainly because of a presumption of inherent privilege. This privilege is conceived of at a collective level of understanding of human relations, and is then grafted on to individuals. In other words, they claim that men as a collective generally have it better than women as a collective, so it is okay to assume that every individual man has it better than every individual woman. This argument is obviously absurd. Men who are homeless are in no way more privileged than even a single mother on welfare. Group trends are nothing more than just that: group trends.

Paid maternity leave is the main employee benefit discussed here, and it mostly relates to women’s need to take time off as a result of child bearing. Child rearing is another matter. What Kymlicka is demanding here is that institutions of employment be structured so that it is compatible with the raising of a child. Working out the practical application of this seems to be an impossibility. Is it really possible to hold both a job and also raise one’s children? This is not how family structure manifests itself in reality. Usually one parent stays home with the children, and this is usually the mother. If the mother is single, then she is required to have her children cared for by another, which is generally not seen as desirable. It just strikes me as wholly unreasonable to think that this part of the condition can be avoided.

Condition Three

The third condition is a society that does not provide economic compensation for domestic labor. The stance against this condition is the most unreasonable of the three. The belief that women don’t get economic compensation for domestic labor is completely unfounded. Women who do domestic work in a patriarchal society, as described above, do get compensation for their work. The woman does the domestic work in exchange for resources acquired by her husband. This is what marriage is: an exchange of resources and services. The man gives the woman protection, resources, and his seed and the woman gives him sex, domestic services, and children. This is to achieve the common goal of raising a family together. The only gripe one can have with this is that the man doesn’t exactly give the woman a wage, but this is just being technical. The woman is receiving resources from the man and this is partly because of her domestic labor.

Kymlicka’s characterization of the institution of marriage eviscerates the exchange that I described. He completely ignores the nature of the exchange in order to claim that women are being exploited. This is exemplified in the following quote that I provided earlier: “This, in turn, results in a system of cultural identifications in which masculinity is associated with income-earning, and femininity is defined in terms of sexual and domestic service for men, and the nurturing of children.” Note how he slips in the phrase “for men” after his description of femininity to remind the reader that she is subject to the will of the man. At the same time, when he describes the conception of masculinity in society, he neglects to slip in the phrase “for women” despite the fact that that is precisely what the man is expected to do. This is one of those absurd double standards wherein when women do things for men, this is an example of women being exploited because it is for the benefit of men, often at the expense of women; but when men do things for women, this is also an injustice towards women because they are now dependent on men for those things.

I think the response to this would be to point out the nature of the exchange. What the man is providing are resources necessary for the survival of the woman, while the woman is simply giving the man things that he may desire, but does not necessarily need. This imbalance is what makes it unequal and gives men leverage over women. My response to this is going to be my biggest critique of this argument thus far. Kymlicka’s mistake is that he makes what I will call the humanist assumption.

The Humanist Assumption

The humanist assumption is the assumption that any two particular groups of people—men and women, in this case—are equal to one another, particularly in behavior and temperament, until proven otherwise. This is an assumption made by most people in the West that I believe is fundamentally flawed. Focusing in on men and women specifically, why is it that we work from the default position of equality between the sexes until shown otherwise? Have men and women ever been equal in temperament and behavior in any society throughout human history? If this is the case, how often is it? Couple this with the obvious physical differences between the sexes, you should wonder why this assumption is being made. Obvious physical differences like breast development and genitalia are not evidence of behavioral differences, in and of themselves, but they should make you question what your default position on this subject should be. Are men and women equal until proven unequal, or are they unequal until proven equal? I argue the latter. This is especially reasonable when you consider that these observable differences are not necessarily all biological in origin. There are environmental influences, as well as biological ones. The humanist assumption starts from the extraordinary position of zero biological differences.

Upon the removal of the humanist assumption, the assertion that marriage gives men power to control women starts to fall apart—this argument being that women are dependent on men to support them, so women will naturally value the marriage more than men, giving the man leverage over her. The problem with this stance is that they are ignoring biological drives in men that influence their behavior. Men evolved to be protective of women, as it was beneficial to the survival of the species as a whole. I discuss this more in depth in my post, The Curious Case of Sex Relations (2). This leads to social norms, such as men sacrificing themselves for the sake of their women that rarely, if ever, happen the other way around. The relevant point is that this shows commitment. It is hard to argue that men have less commitment than women to a relationship if men have a biological drive within them that sometimes leads them to kill themselves for the sake of their women. The feminist critique also completely side steps the emotional component to marriage, that being love. A major binding force to these relationships is this emotional bond that men and women have for one another. When looking at tendencies to dismiss romantic attachment across cultures, it was found that men were no more dismissive of this emotional attachment than women were (3).

Neither of these points show that women are not dependent on men, as I am sure a feminist will be quick to point out, but I am going to go one step further and assert that women, specifically those that have children, are inherently dependent. Two things should be established: most women want children, and children are tied to their mothers. A mother and her children should be treated as a single unit. Because of this, motherhood renders women dependent. Feminists are correct to point out that women are dependent on men in the traditionalist framework, but they are naive to think that this can be changed. Think about it this way: when a woman has a child, she must find someone to financially prop her up, whether that be her husband or boyfriend, the father through alimony, the state through welfare, food stamps, charity, or their employer through paid maternity leave (or any combination of these things). The prospect of being a single mother is horrible. This is for a reason. Mothers need support. Traditionalism recognizes this and specifically tailors itself for their benefit.

Kymlicka’s humanist assumption also leads him to make a presupposition in his argument about men and women. He assumes that both men and women are equal in their desires; he assumes that they have the same paths to fulfillment. Here is a series of relevant facts that I think one should consider: When looking at self-reported surveys of happiness, women tend to evaluate their self-esteem on how close they are in their relationships with others and with god, while men tend to evaluate their self-esteem based on their active leisure and mental control. Women focus on domestic and personal problems, while men focus on matters without, like their job. Women’s love life and family life are the most relevant factors in determining their happiness, while, for men it is their job and appearance. When looking at depression, women are more likely to be depressed because of family problems, while men are more likely to be depressed because of financial issues. When looking at stress, women are more likely to report stress being caused by other people (relationship issues), while men are more self-focused, reporting stress over academic success or other related endeavors (4).

These facts show an obvious trend that women are more focused on relationships, while men are more focused on their success in their career. And even if you do want to make the humanist assumption and claim that this is all neatly explained away by socialization, you would have to explain why there are cross-cultural trends in personality differences between the sexes. Cross-cultural trends are a strong indicator of biological underpinnings to human behavior. Given that women score higher on agreeableness and openness to feelings, it lends credence to the series of facts shared here (5). Women also prove to care more about resources and socio-economic status than men do when selecting mates (6,7). It’s almost as if men and women evolved specifically to fit the roles prescribed to them in the traditionalist framework. Finally, both men and women have been getting progressively less happy in the West within the past thirty years. Not only this, but women have been twice as likely to have depression than men for the past twenty years (4). This is not to say that the destruction of traditionalism is the cause of these things, as this is only some correlation, but if the progressive liberation of women from the private sector correlates with the regression of their own happiness, then it should at least make you stop and think.

Traditionalism

This established, men and women are proving themselves to fit into the traditionalist framework quite well. Traditionalism places women in a position where they interact with people, that being motherhood, and places men in a position where they are working at a job. Nothing I have said here necessarily translates into absolute and rigid roles for men and women, but the general trends will and should exist. Arguments about oppression are nonsensical. Given the fact that men and women make up about the same percentage of their populations, it strikes me as naive to try and argue that social norms like that of gender roles within traditional marriage do anything to suppress women as a collective relative to men. This would require extraordinary evidence. Feminists are presented with two possibilities: women’s oppression by social norms is a naturally occurring phenomenon in human behavior, or women simply exhibit interest in different things, leading to the two sexes taking up different roles in society. Either way, pointing out the apparently oppressive nature of the dynamics of these two roles is ultimately irrelevant, as biology is strongly suggested by how consistent these circumstances are.

Conclusion

Kymlicka’s feminist critique of the institution of marriage is flawed at best. Abortion is too contentious an issue to receive the treatment it does in this argument. Paid maternity leave is not the panacea it is pretended to be. The institution of marriage is fundamentally an exchange, which is ignored. And finally, it fails to take human nature into account and properly recognize the differences between the sexes. Because of this, it characterizes the male and female dynamic in the traditional sense as oppressive when it is actually preferable. It does not render women dependent on men; it recognizes that this dependency is inherent to the human condition and specifically tailors itself for that reality.

 

Sources:

Video: https://youtu.be/YYER604Wegw

(1) Book: Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction: Second Edition

(2) Post on gender relations: https://stateofthenihil.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/the-curious-case-of-sex-relations/

(3) Relationship attachment in men and women: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/1475-6811.00052/full

(4) This is a compilation of sources; the primary sources are at the bottom of the page: http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/courses/pospsydocs/oldwikis/2%20Gender.pdf

(5) Personality differences: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.463.9292&rep=rep1&type=pdf

(6) Male and female attraction: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-006-9151-2

(7) Another study on male and female attraction: https://www.cambridge.org/core/services/aop-cambridge-core/content/view/S0140525X00023992

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Unconscious Bias

In our every day lives we get judged by every characteristic you can possibly imagine. We are prejudged based on sex, race, height, looks, the sound of our voice, our physique, and so on. Human brains are biologically designed to recognize patterns in behavior, as this was an evolutionary adaptation that allowed us to survive in dangerous environments. The hypothesis is that humans who could recognize patterns in behavior in other species have higher fitness than humans who treated every organism they encountered as an atomized case. Human beings, on a mass scale, will never go against this adaptation. The point is that these unconscious biases are part of our every day experience.

Before I go on, I want to note that this post is talking about unconscious prejudice, not conscious prejudice.

The interesting thing about the examples I gave in the beginning is society’s response to these prejudices and how they differ from one another. The first two I mentioned, race and sex, have a very clear response: that these types of prejudice are wrong and should be curbed by any means necessary. Now we have studies on implicit bias and the like, showing things like applications for jobs being picked at different rates, and more. Now contrast that to something like height. If you are incredibly tall, then that affects how people will perceive you, especially when they first meet you. You come off as more imposing and dominant. And then the opposite is true for short people: you naturally come off as more submissive and less imposing.

And most people react to this reality in an incredibly different manner. We implicitly accept the fact that people are prejudiced according to height in this way, as it is just a fact of life, and usually end up ignoring it. The people being judged, instead of expecting society to change to suit their own conception of themself, change to suit society’s opinion of them. A short person will eventually accept that they will never be imposing to prejudiced onlookers and they will adopt a more passive approach to life. There are exceptions, but we all know of the stereotype of the scrawny, male teenager who thinks he’s a whole lot tougher than he is; and we all know how satisfying it is to see him get his ass handed to him when he crosses the line.

My question is why we aren’t treating race and sex based prejudice like this latter example. As I have already pointed out, prejudice is something that is inherent to us, so simply saying that it should go away is not feasible. Not only are you demanding perfection from imperfect creatures, but you are demanding that they go against their biology. This will never happen on a mass scale, unless you have an oppressive ideology to herd the masses. But people on the Left will never accept that bias based on race and sex is acceptable. I think much of this has to do with the history of racism and sexism, and I certainly think this would be the response. Ultimately, I do not think that this is a fair reason to make the demands that the Left makes.

The Left claims that the history of racism and sexism feeds into today and that this is why issues surrounding race and sex are so important. I can get behind this idea, but I would like to see how it would play out in a specific example of prejudice. Let us compare two examples: In the first example, say that a man prejudges another based on his height. He assumes that he is going to hurt him based solely on the fact that his is tall and imposing. And this is not a fair judgment, as the man is actually very nice. In the second example, a man prejudges another man based on the fact that he is black. He assumes that he is going to hurt him based solely on the fact that he is black. And this is not a fair judgment either, as the man is also very nice. Are these two examples not the same? Why should I assume that the second example of prejudice is worse than the first? Does the history of racism change anything in these specific examples? Why? Is it fair to just assume the prejudice based on race is worse “because history?”

I think the response to this would be to mention why prejudice is wrong in the first place. They would claim that prejudice is wrong because it hurts people’s feelings and that this is how history plays a role in the difference. Black people are conscious of a history of racism and that leads them to perceive these prejudices differently. It is the effect that matters, not necessarily the action.

There are two problems with this. First, this is a great generalization of people’s behaviors. We are talking about two individual cases and this response applies assumptions based on group membership to make the point. We do not know if the black man in the example will truly be mulling over the history of racism. Second, these instances of prejudice are not always something that the target is conscious of. If we look at biases in hiring, as I mentioned earlier, then we see that some applications are selected more often than others. This isn’t emotional hurt though; there is a material effect on the target and it is ultimately something that they are not aware of. How would a history of racism justify the claim that racial prejudice is worse than prejudice based on height when there is a material effect, but no emotional effect? Say that you could have hired the tall man and the black man, but rejected both after the interview because their respective characteristics intimidated you. Their personalities were exemplary and fit the job, but you ultimately rejected both because of unconscious prejudice. Are these actions equally bad, or is the racial prejudice worse? Why?

I don’t think it is worse. This is why I think we should transition into a society that shrugs off unconscious prejudice based on race and sex and deals with it in the same way that we do prejudice over someone’s height. Prejudice is inevitable, so people need to learn to accommodate that in their lives.

Video: https://youtu.be/HpUXud1ZnP0

The Curious Case of Sex Relations

The biggest problem with modern day politics is the fact that we get too bogged down in our own moral assumptions about the world. If you actually want to understand politics—and by extension, human behavior—you have to recognize that human beings are animals. We aren’t free agents trying to change the world for some higher purpose. Everything we do is fully informed by the interplay of our genetics and the environment we grow up in. Because of this, there are recognizable trends in human behavior that are observable across cultures and throughout history. The best way to understand these trends is to approach it from an evolutionary perspective.

When I think about sex politics, I don’t look at it according to what is just and what is not just, at least not when I want to lay down the basis for my understanding of the subject. Instead, I look at it through an evolutionary lens, because I think much of this is easily explained in this way. I want to note that this argument is not a one hundred percent proof of anything. Through Occam’s razor, this evolutionary explanation is the one I fall back on.

The first thing I want to do is refute a few common misconceptions held by many people about the biological explanation for behavioral differences. Claiming that there could be a biological reason for a difference in behavioral trends does not mean every individual person in these collectives are equally different from one another. We are talking about trends, not absolutes. The only way evolution can work is with genetic variation, so of course there will be exceptions to the trends I am talking about. Pointing to any exceptions does not negate the argument since the argument rests on the claim that these trends exist for a reason.

The next thing I want to refute is the false assumption that biological explanations for behavioral differences necessarily indicate that the differences are fully genetic. Things are rarely one hundred percent due to genetics. There is almost always some environmental component along with some genetic component. So when I say that there is an evolutionary explanation for a behavioral difference, this merely means that the basis is genetic; differences can certainly be amplified by the environment. For example, if a certain genetic population A has genes that make them predisposed to aggressive behavior relative to genetic population B, then it should be noted that population A will also construct a social environment that conditions people’s behaviors to be more aggressive, thus amplifying the aggregate aggression. Pointing out that the social environment in population A affects people’s behavior is not an argument for why there is no genetic component to their aggression relative to population B.

Finally, I think I should establish what men and women are, given this rise of postmodern deconstructionism. In many cases, I think postmodernism goes a bit too far with their deconstruction of some categorizations. This subject would be one of those cases. Here, we are talking about human relations as it pertains to our role in evolution. So the biological sexes are defined by their gametes, or by their role in sexual reproduction. Men create the sperm, women create the egg, and any deviation from this is an evolutionary dead end.

All of this established, I will get to the actual point of the post: When looking at sex politics throughout history, I have come to the conclusion that you can place men and women at opposite ends of a spectrum. This spectrum has freedom on one end and safety at the other. The closer you are to the freedom end the freer you are, at the expense of your safety, and vice versa for the other side. Men have been placed on the freedom end of the spectrum, while women have been placed at the safety end of the spectrum. Feminist scholars usually characterize this as patriarchy, where men take up the public sector of life, with women being relegated to the private sector. Basically, men are the ones out in the world working for a wage and women are left in the home for domestic duties. They generally are correct, though I think my characterization is better since I am not pathologically adhered to the idea of how unjust this is. Whether it is unjust or not is irrelevant. Biology does not care about your morals.

I think there is an evolutionary explanation for why the varying forms of patriarchy exist. As biological creatures, it is in our nature to reproduce and spread our genes on to the next generation. Much of our behavior can be traced back to our desire to do this. Because of this, the male and female roles in society are predicated on our respective roles in sexual reproduction. Given the fact that women are the ones who bear the children, and also given the fact that this is a long and arduous process that makes them incredibly vulnerable, it makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint for our species as a whole to value the safety of women. If women are not kept safe, then that will imperil the entire species. And this does not apply to men in the same degree, since all they need to do is inseminate and their deed is done. Ideally, he should remain alive so he can provide for the woman, but since their tribe can compensate, his value is less than that of the woman.

Put another way, a women who is prone to taking risks is less likely to successfully reproduce and pass her genes on to the next generation than a woman who prefers safety. Going through nine months of pregnancy is a severe handicap on reckless behavior. Through the process of natural selection, the genes related to risk averse behavior will begin to take up a larger and larger percentage of the female population. At the same time, if women are becoming more prone to safe behavior as a collective whole, then men necessarily need to compensate if the species is to survive. There needs to be someone to risk their life against the horrors of the natural world in order to retrieve the resources needed to live. A safety prone woman paired with a safety prone man is less likely to succeed in passing her genes on to the next generation than a safety prone woman paired with a bolder man. The result of these selection patterns is women who are collectively less likely to put themselves in harms way and men who are collectively willing to compensate for that.

And there is evidence of these sex differences up until today. These behavioral differences can also be looked at in terms of the five big personality traits. They are openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. If you score high on all of these, then you are inventive and curious, efficient and organized, outgoing, friendly and compassionate, and nervous and prone to worrying, respectively. They all score around fifty percent heritability based on our knowledge gained from twin studies, so genes have an effect.

A study with a sample size of 23,031, across a selection of 26 different cultures, has shown that there are recognizable trends in personality traits generally held by women relative to men. Women tend to score higher on neuroticism, agreeableness, an element of extraversion known as warmth, and openness to other’s feelings. Men tend to score lower on neuroticism, agreeableness, and higher on openness to ideas and assertiveness, the latter being an element of extraversion. There is some variability in the degree to which these differences exist, but the freer the society the more stark these differences get. This strongly suggests that there is some biological component to the differences in personality traits. Given these differences, women are more likely to have the personality traits of person who places herself in positions where there is little risk and low stress. This is consistent with my hypothesis for an evolutionary explanation for patriarchy.

Applying this to history, the further back you go the more dangerous the public sector gets. Depending on how far you go depends on precisely what horrors you may experience, but this trend absolutely exists. This correlates with another trend: the further back into history you go, the more likely it is that men dominate the public sector. In other words, the more dangerous something is, the more likely it is to be the domain of men. It was men who historically went out into the world as hunters, coal miners and soldiers. The only reason for the move of women from the private sector to the public sector as time goes by is because of western development that has made the public sector a much safer environment. Today the public sector isn’t coal mines and battlefields, but desk jobs with air conditioning.

So it makes sense, from an evolutionary standpoint, for women to be historically placed in the private sector where it is safe, with men placed in the public sector where it is free (but dangerous); our species would likely have gone extinct if it wasn’t otherwise. It also makes sense to have this rise of feminism to push women into the public sector today. The public sector of life has been softened, so there is no longer a severe existential threat to women or, by extension, the species as a whole. This is not to say that the public sector is as safe as the homelife, but this is explained by the influence of feminism and its desire to protect women. Our biological drive to keep women safe is still kicking.

The important thing to note here is that there will likely never be a society where men and women are equal in representation, when these institutions are specifically tailored for an output of the best of the best. Although our species has evolved in environments that are much different than it is in the modern west, our evolved behavior will not just disappear. Women prove to be generally more competent than men in some fields, and vice versa for men in other fields. In the event that we allow people to fall where they may in a free society, a least a soft form of patriarchy is likely to characterize our species.

Sources:

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x5ymdfB2B1o

Study: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.463.9292&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Re: Non-Binary Genders | Contrapoints

0:00-0:28

The first thing I want to comment on here is your mention of traditional gender roles. This is brought up as if to imply that these traditional gender roles are generally seen as the desired state to live in, as opposed to a state with non-binary genders. This is not necessarily true. You can reject both the traditional gender roles and the existence of non-binary genders, as I will detail later on in this post. It is likely that you know this, but due to the fact that this particular statement was not made in response to any individual person, rather a general response to the people on YouTube, I really can’t know for sure.

(I cut out about thirty-six seconds of introduction. 0:28-1:05)

1:05-1:50

I object to your claim that non-binary people don’t need to provide arguments in support of their own existence. The first problem I have with this sentiment is the idea that this can be characterized as an issue over their existence. This was your wording. And it is nothing more than loaded language. The issue is not whether people who identify as non-binary exist or not; it is over what their identity actually is and how it should be accepted in the mainstream. Rejecting this identity does not mean they, as a person, don’t exist in the world, but that this manifestation of their identity is objectionable.

The second thing is your actual claim that they don’t need to provide arguments in favor of the non-binary identity. They do. This isn’t some moral condemnation. Even if you agree with the widespread acceptance of non-binary genders, this argument still stands. What non-binary people are asking for is a change in social consciousness. The acceptance of non-binary identities runs completely counter to the current understanding of both gender roles and identities in the west. Practically speaking, if you want to bring about change, then the burden of proof lies on your lap, not the other way around. I certainly don’t think non-binary identities are a practical solution in society. It vastly over complicates things, and demands too much of other people. I could be convinced, but I don’t see any reason to accept it at this point.

1:50-2:48

This harkens back to what I previously said about going against the social consciousness. When you propose an idea that is counter to what people expect, especially something as heretical as introducing brand new genders, you not only cannot expect people to go along with it, but there is no reason for them to go along with it either. Why? You must provide an argument for that. As far as I am concerned, this non-binary shtick is just an ideological fad manifesting in the Left that will almost certainly die out in a few years or so. The modern day progressives have a pathological adherence to group identities and non-binary genders are an expression of this.

2:48-3:27

This is not as simple as an appeal to authority. An appeal to authority generally involves someone basing his argument off of something an individual person in an authoritative position said, particularly when that person actually has no authority on the subject at hand. What Blaire is referencing here is not a statement or opinion made by one person, but the general consensus in the medical community. Because of this, I think there is an argument to be made that non-binary people are not the same as those who are transgender. Basically what this consensus is is the best, most well educated, stance on the issue at this point. It isn’t perfect, especially due to it being a soft science, but it functions much like hard science in that it provides the best description/explanation of the universe around us given our current knowledge. If someone provides an argument for going against this consensus, I am happy to listen, but I won’t just accept it.

And I will grant you that non-binary could be included as a diagnosis at some point, but this simply means they don’t feel like they fit into any particular gender category. This does not mean that new gender categories ought to be magicked into existence to play into their delusion. Ideally, they should be treated psychologically since this is a problem with the mind. If not, then there is no point in diagnosing them in the first place. People with gender dysphoria are diagnosed so they can get treatment; what reason should non-binary people be diagnosed if the solution isn’t to change them, but the society that they live in? This is comparable to homosexuality, which you brought up yourself. Homosexuals are an evolutionary dead end. If a bunch of chemicals were dumped in the water that turned the friggin’ straights gay, we would go extinct, if not for artificial insemination. From a biological standpoint, there is no reason to believe that homosexuality is, in any way, natural. Yet, it is no longer a diagnosis. This is because we have decided that homosexuals do not need to change. Society changed, not the homosexuals. So you can only have one: either the social consciousness ought to change to accommodate non-binary people, or the non-binary people ought to change to fit society. Whether this non-binary phenomenon can actually be diagnosed, and is not just some ideological fad, will have major implications in this.

3:27-4:03

With regard to your comments about biological sex, intersex is nothing more than a birth abnormality. The entire reason that we, as biological creatures, are separated into two sexes is because of the need for sexual reproduction. The male sex creates the sperm and the female sex creates the egg; the sperm fertilizes the egg and the offspring is the result. Intersex does not come into this. There is no hermaphrodite middleman when two people have sex. And this also applies to the differing karyotypes that you brought up on the screen. XO, or just X, is what you would call Turner’s syndrome. This is when a biological female, yes, female, is born with only an X sex chromosome. The symptoms differ, but the sufferers from this condition typically have problems with spatial visualization and display certain physical deformities that include webbed neck, low-set ears, short stature, and swollen hands and feet at the time of birth. Sufferers also generally need hormone treatment in order to gain breasts and menstrual periods. Finally, they are sterile. Treatment can be given to help mediate this, but I think my point stands: people with Turner’s syndrome have a condition. This is not evidence of a third category of sex. In fact, they solely belong to the female sex. The other karyotypes share a rather similar story, including ones you did not mention, such as XXXY, XXXX, XXYY, and XXXXY. The XYY and XXX karyotypes are the two that display phenotypic effects that aren’t as severe as the rest, so they are the exception. But this does not address my point at the beginning that intersex people do not contribute to reproduction; so biologically speaking they have an abnormality. The biological sex binary exists for a reason.

I also want to make a point concerning gender roles/expression. You offhandedly mentioned these, but what I have to say will be relevant to my comments on gender identity. Gender roles are predicated on biological sex. They are socially constructed, with a general adherence to the biological reality of sex. When you look at gender roles throughout history the general rule is that there are two. Of course, there are exceptions, considering the fact that we are dealing with something that is socially constructed, but the emphasis here should be put on exceptions. There is a reason that, in most societies, there have only been two gender roles: the fact that it is predicated on biological sex.

Keep in mind that there is no objective way to look at gender roles, since gender roles are simply our way of perceiving people in society. This is supported by the fact that these exceptions people generally bring up all differ in what these extra gender roles are. Some societies consider the extra gender role to be a state between the two normal gender roles. Some think it is effeminate men. Some think there are four genders, which include the typical roles along with two extras: masculine women and feminine men. People are simply collectivizing themselves according to their behavior in a way that makes sense to them in their society. This can differ.

The main point I want to stress here is that there is no objective reason to accept any particular gender role in society, not even the ones we currently have in America.

Finally, your assertion that gender identity is what is in question here is dubious. Given the fact that non-binary people don’t feel like they fit into any gender category, it really is impossible to say what exactly this means. Do they feel like the current gender roles are too restrictive and they want a new role tailored just for them? Or are they experiencing something closer to what transgender people face, which is a deep inner feeling that something is wrong with their very psychology? These are not the same thing and the implications matter. If the latter were true, you would be right in classifying non-binary as partly an issue of gender identity. If the former were true, then I would say it isn’t an issue of gender identity at all, but that of purely gender roles. This is where medical diagnoses come in handy. They can act as the adjudicator. I am personally inclined to say the former is true. As I specified earlier, gender roles are simply our way of perceiving people in society. This can be take form in many different ways, for many different reasons. I think the progressive ideology today that emphasizes group identity is the reason for this new recognition of non-binary gender roles.

An added note for you to consider is that these so-called grey areas to biological sex don’t actually correlate with gender dysphoria or any of the extra gender roles. Hermaphroditic people don’t necessarily have gender dysphoria. And how often have these extra gender roles been ascribed to people with Turner’s syndrome, or any people with differing karyotypes, for that matter? The reason for this disconnect is because all of these things are each their own issue. They are all genetic defects of a different sort. If these were grey areas you would expect them to correlate, would you not? The grey areas in biological sex would overlay each other and on top of the grey areas of gender identity, and then these would be the extra genders roles that have popped up throughout history. But this is not the case.

4:03-4:32

This right here perfectly encapsulates the problem. Most people do not consider gender to be a major factor in their identity. We live in an individualist society and any sort of group identity runs counter to this. And this is all based on feelings. So how can you determine the difference between having a non-conforming gender identity and simply wanting a gender role tailored for you? As I said, medical diagnoses should be used.

(I cut out some funny bits Contra put in. 4:32-5:53)

5:53-6:39

By and large, you are correct here. Language is determined by its usage, not by any sort of rules that it follows. The dictionary is more descriptive than it is prescriptive. Though it is important to note that it is not as simple as you make it out to be. You can break the language down into two classes of words: open class and closed class. The names of these two classes explain just how flexible the words are when it comes to changing them. Open classes contain words like nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. These are open to constant change. Any speaker can modify these words with either inflectional or derivational morphemes. Respectively, these change the grammatical meaning of the word or change the word entirely. An example of this would be the word “fuck.” This word is rather unique, since it can become any of the open class words through its usage. It can be a noun: “You stupid fuck.” It can be a verb: “You want to fuck?” It can be an adjective: “This fucking guy.” And it can be an adverb: “Are you fucking stupid?” You can even invent new words, when it comes to open class words and they don’t necessarily have to be pre-established in order for it to have a comprehensible meaning. An example of this would be “verbing.” “Verbing” is a homological “word” that describes the process of adding an [-ing] morpheme to the end of a word to change it into a verb (usually from a noun). People do this often when they want to be playful with language, and the meaning of what they are saying is usually obvious. So this establishes the flexibility of an open class word.

The next group of words is closed class words. These words, true to the name, are words that are generally closed off to meddling. Words that fall into this category include: determiners, auxiliary verbs, coordinators, complementizers, and . . . pronouns. These words do not take on inflectional or derivational morphemes and their usage is quite prescriptive. This is not to say that they can never be changed—the second person singular pronoun “thou” is now “you,” which was formerly confined to the second person plural usage—but this isn’t something that just happens overnight. Unlike open class words, you can’t just invent new words on the spot and expect the people to understand what you are saying or to go along with it. It is entirely possible for the usage of the word “they” to naturally change as time goes by, but this is really a question of what comes first: will these pronouns become part of common usage, or will this non-binary fad fall out of favor? Only time will tell.

Finally, to address the onscreen claim that people use singular “they” whether they know it or not. Technically that is correct, but there is nuance attached to it. First, the singular usage of “they” is very informal, so there are many language professors who would never accept that in a formal setting, like if you are writing an essay. That aside, the singular usage of “they” is only used when the identity or the gender of the person being spoken about is unknown. It makes sense to use singular “they” in the following context: “The author states X. They then go on to state Y.” The subject of that sentence—the noun phrase, “the author”—is vague in that the author’s gender is unknown, so you can acceptably use the singular “they.” But there are interpretation problems when you use the singular “they” in contexts where the subject’s gender is hinted at through a name. This is evident in the following sentence: “Jack chose to quit work after speaking with an employer. They didn’t think the interaction went very well.” What does this mean? Is “they” the formal third person plural usage of the pronoun, referencing both parties mentioned in the sentence? Is this a sloppy, informal reference to the employer who is genderless? Or is Jack non-binary, using the “they,” “them,” and “their” pronouns? You need more context. This issue could be worked out some time in the future, who knows? But the point is that we don’t use singular “they” pronouns to reference specific people we are knowledgeable about, we only use them to informally reference people we aren’t knowledgeable about.

6:39-7:24

(I will skip ahead approximately 14 seconds to make a full response to two closely related questions. 7:24-7:38)

7:38-8:35

I completely agree with your statement that gender roles evolved in a time where it made more sense to have them. Especially in the modern day, people don’t always fit into their respective gender role set up by society nor do they need to. I part ways with you when you imply that these new gender roles are a step in the right direction. I have never understood the logic behind the idea of creating new gender roles. Here we have a problem: male and female gender roles are too rigid and some people just do not fall into either of the categories. This is because gender roles are basically the general behavior/expression of each of the sexes. Expecting people to fall perfectly in line with any gender role is like expecting everyone in a class with a grade average of seventy-two percent to each have a seventy-two percent. It does not follow. The solution to this should not be to increase the amount of emphasis we place on group identities like gender roles and then try to invent more categories by reaching up into our asses and pulling out the shittiest name we can find. The solution should be to reduce the amount of emphasis we place on gender roles as a group identity. Stop acting like these categories matter so much. Instead, emphasize individualism and personality. You don’t need to fit in with any fucking gender role. Just be you.

(I cut out the outro of the video. 8:35-9:27)

References

Video: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=tgMMKNbRp28

Original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36egVNVBqZU

Gender roles:

http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/men-women-pacific

http://nativeout.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Two-Spirits-Nadleeh-and-Navajo-LGBTQ2-Gaze.pdf

Alex Jones: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqWSzv7ESJY

Response to Noel Plum

I just watched your discussion with Dr. Moriarty on the debate of nature vs. nurture, specifically applied to gender differences. Both of you seemed to miss a point that I read about in a book on evolutionary psychology that is very pertinent to the discussion. Basically, it is a debunk of the nature vs. nurture dichotomy. To illustrate this, I want to present an analogy that was provided by the book, that I thought was amazing.

Say you are baking a cake. When you do such a thing, you have to follow through on a set of instructions, the first of which is combining all of the ingredients—the flour, the salt, the sugar, etc.—and mixing them up. These are the genes, or the nature element, of the analogy. The second step is putting the cake into the oven and cooking it. This is the nurture element of the analogy. Once the cake is done, you have this fluffy, bread-like consistency. So, then, the question would be: what makes the cake fluffy? Is it the ingredients or is it cooking it in the oven? Was it the nature aspect of it, or the nurture aspect of it? You may be thinking, “What? Why would you attribute this to only one or the other?” And you would be right! Both the ingredients and the cooking within the oven contribute to the fluffy consistency. The ingredients and the oven are not independent of one another; they work together for this common goal.

Now apply this reasoning to the nature vs. nurture debate in humans: both genes and the environment work together to formulate people into whom they are. Pointing out that genetics is involved does not mean the environment cannot affect people; pointing out that the environment has influence does not mean genetics is not involved. This will make more sense if I get more specific. Turn your mind to the development of a child. It is well known that children’s minds are more plastic than adult’s minds are. This is why it is so important to send children to school. This is the time at which humans learn the best. They are biologically primed for this. Our minds are biologically primed to learn at a young age, so this can be the nature aspect of it; at the same time, how we are raised, and what we learn during this period is important, so this can be the nurture aspect of it. As is true with the cake analogy, you cannot separate the nature from the nurture. A good example of this is a baby’s attachment to the mother. The general assumption in this is that the baby is born with a biological attachment to the mother. But it is not this simple. What is being realized now is that the baby actually acquires this attachment during its time in the womb. That is, the baby is biologically inclined to form an attachment with anyone, and it forms it with the mother because of its time in the womb. It is both nature and nurture.

Applying this to the gender differences debate, this will stray a little into theory. I want to address a point that Dr. Moriarty brought up, that was also agreed upon by yourself. He pointed out that in different geographical locations, gender differences varied, which demonstrates that these particular differences are quite susceptible to nurture. I postulate that this is not as simple as that, in line with what I detailed above. These geographical differences could be due to both nature and nurture. Children’s minds are more plastic than adult minds, so the way they are raised from a young age in geographical location A will shape their mind one way, while in another way in geographical location B. The important thing to note is that once someone’s childhood is over, their mind is no longer as plastic, and these behaviors become ingrained; it is unlikely that people will change after this. The reason this is so relevant is because of feminists’ push to get women into fields like engineering. They give scholarships to women as incentive. But it isn’t that simple. By the time women go to college, they are unlikely to change what they have already learned in the first years of their life.

Another very important point to make is that since nature and nurture work together to shape people into who they are, it is impossible to say what people are naturally like without any sort of socialization. Both you and Dr. Moriarty seem to be working from the assumption that there is a natural state for men and women, and you both want to keep things as neutral as possible so they can be as close to this natural state as they possible can. If it is true that gender is due to both nature and nurture as illustrated above, this implies that there is no natural state to men or women. A girl socialized in a way that makes her prefer math is just as natural as a girl socialized in a way that makes her prefer nursing. Through nature and nurture, they are both biologically inclined to these states. There is no natural state. Any worry that you may be influencing your child’s development to favor stereotypes may be unfounded, as you may be doing that no matter how you raise them.

I don’t definitively know how far this may go. If what I just discussed is true, then it could imply that men and women may very well have no psychological differences. But, it could also be said that men and women are biologically primed to learn different things. Women’s minds may be biologically inclined to focus on social interactions, which leads to them learning to interact in this way. Men’s minds may be biologically inclined to focus on spatial recognition, which leads to them learning to think in that way. The speculation could go on and on.

But this is just something you may find interesting.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=UfEAAImJOfM

Nihilism

If you claim to be a nihilist, that can mean a whole host of different things. I do consider myself a nihilist, but it is important to specify exactly what I mean when I say that. To communicate this, I will boil nihilism down into three specific categories: there is existential nihilism, moral nihilism, and rational nihilism. The first two of these reflect my view of the world quite well, while the last one is a bit more complicated, as you will see.

Existential Nihilism

Existential nihilism is the belief that life, specifically human life, is ultimately meaningless, or that it has no purpose. Since I consider myself an atheist, this belief naturally follows. There is no evidence of a god out there, particularly one that cares about human beings and holds them up as his prized creation. We simply exist as a result of many causal actions. Whatever meaning that is applied to our existences is self-applied, which is only natural for self-aware beings to do. This is a rather common belief amongst most atheists, but I am going to take it a step further. Even within the context of our own self-constructed world of meaning, there is really no purpose to be found. Even in the world constructed by humans, I likely won’t ever have an effect. The only reason why I follow politics and post these writings online to my scant following is because I am human, just like everyone else: cursed by a desire to matter in a world where that is impossible.

There is another dimension to my lack of purpose in this human world. For most people, having a purpose is tied to being a good person. A person’s purpose in life usually has to do with them helping others, in one way or another, but, being the pessimist that I am, I see this desire to do well to others as a way of making you feel better. You see yourself being “good,” and the resulting feeling encourages repetition of that behavior. I have two things to say in response: one, I don’t care for having a purpose or being “good” if it’s down to only good feelings; and two, more importantly, I think it is entirely fruitless. I have realized quite a while ago that there is no such thing as a “good guy.” Even the best of us have dark sides, and no matter what we do, people will suffer and die. So I don’t care about being good, I care about achieving my own political aims. This is no different from anyone else. A good example to illustrate this would be the migrant crisis. The left views itself as the moral stance on the subject. They see people fleeing from their country, which is at war, and they know they must help. These are the kinds of people with a childish view of the world. They have a simplistic understanding of what it takes to do something like this and they end up justifying horrible things to get this “moral” end they stand with. John Oliver has claimed that he has no care for how many people die in the terror attacks that result from letting in the migrants. He believes that all the death brought down on the American people is simply a worthy “risk” to take. And he naively thinks that he is still a “good guy,” or, he at least still has the gall to morally posture in front of everyone.

And this is seen on the other side of the aisle, as well, though not nearly as often. Some right-wing nationalists jump at the chance to show how immoral the left has become when they say things along the same lines as John Oliver. After a terrorist attack at a college university, at least one student blamed his fellow Americans, saying their racism drove the killer to do what he did. The right-wingers rightly pointed out the horror of this sentiment, but it was clear that they thought they held the morally correct position. They want to help the American people, so that is why they are supporting Muslim bans or other immigration crackdowns.

In my view, neither of these positions is moral. In both cases, people will die. If we let the refugees in, people’s lives will be risked in potential terrorist attacks; if we keep them out, people’s lives will be risked in their war torn country. To act like either position is morally better than the other is absurd. So, I have given up on having a moral purpose in my life. I am not a good person, and I don’t strive to be. I have values on which my political aims are based, but I no longer think this makes me a good person, nor do I think it gives me purpose. I’m just another cockroach, scrambling towards what I want in this world.

Moral Nihilism

Since having a purpose in life is usually intrinsically tied to morality, in that our purpose is striving to do well to others, this a perfect segue into the next topic: moral nihilism. I consider myself to be a moral nihilist. This is simply an acknowledgement that there is no such thing as an objective morality outside of the human species. In fact, I consider morality to be a social delusion (a common belief among those in society that does not exist due to reason or evidence). Morality is humans’ flawed attempt at trying to understand why there are behavior trends within human populations. As a result, I don’t think anyone has moral authority behind their words, not even myself, even though I play along with this social delusion from time to time.

But this is not to say that there is no reason for these aforementioned behavioral trends. If you want to understand this, you need to step back from the moral framework of right and wrong and instead look at things according to evolution. Things should now be looked at according to what is evolutionarily advantageous, rather than what is right and what is wrong. People get antsy when I say this, but it is important to note that I am not trying to argue for why some things, which are typically considered immoral, should be considered moral, but am simply providing an explanation for why these typically immoral things are considered immoral.

To begin: a brief explanation of evolution, to clear up any false assumptions. Evolution is the change of the overall genetic make up of a species over time. Through processes like natural selection, some genes are selected for more often than others, and, over time, these genes become more plentiful, thus evolving the species as a whole. This selection process happens primarily at the level of the individual. Basically, what this means is individuals that have traits that help ensure the spread and survival of their genes are the individuals that pass on their genes most often. As a result, they come to represent the species.

But there is another level at which selection must occur. This is at the group level. When something is selected for at the group level, a trait not only benefits an individual, it also benefits the group as a whole. This is an important point to make because, if a trait is selected for at the individual level, it does not necessitate it being beneficial for the group as a whole. If it isn’t beneficial, it is either selected against or the species dies out.

For example: if you only take into account what is selected for at the individual level, then something like rape would be selected for. Individuals that most successfully spread their genes are the ones most likely to survive, so, naturally, rapists would become more common. But this ignores selection at the group level. A rapist’s behavior may be beneficial for that individual, but it is not beneficial for the group, so it is selected against at the group level. This is because the only way the human species could survive is by evolving empathy. This empathy allows us to be social beings, in which we work together to survive. We were handicapped evolutionarily by the fact that human women can only give birth to one child at a time, generally, and only every year, at best. Our social behavior (empathy included) was compensation for this. By forming into groups, especially familial groups, we ensure the survival of our genes. It shouldn’t be a surprise that our species has a better chance of survival if we form into pockets for mutual survival, than if the men go around raping as many women as they can; and since these two behaviors are mutually exclusive, one will be selected for at the expense of the other.

Once this is established, this explains why behaviors like rape, murder and even simpler ones like lying are considered wrong by humans. The important thing to note is that we don’t think rape and murder are wrong because they are morally bad, but because that behavior is detrimental for our survival. We are biologically inclined not to do these things.

As I stated earlier in the post, I do play along with the social delusion of morality. Since I am human, I do have a capacity for empathy that leads me to formulate opinions about how people ought to behave. But I will say that my opinions have absolutely no authority behind them, no more than any other person in this world. It is simply my goal to convince others of my opinions on morality, rather than assert that I am objectively right.

Rational Nihilism

The third, and the last, form of nihilism that I will discuss here is rational nihilism. This form of nihilism is the belief that reason and logic, or rationality, is a social delusion. The argument is that if it makes no sense to assert that there is an objective morality due to there being no known source for it, then it makes no sense to assert that there is such thing as rationality without naming a source. Not only that, but everything, including rationality is based off of our understanding of the universe, and since our understanding of the universe is restricted to our own perceptions, it can only be considered subjective. There is no way anyone can say rationality would be the same if we stepped outside of our perceptions of the universe and saw it unrestricted. These arguments make sense on the face of it, but I don’t consider myself a rational nihilist because these arguments are self-refuting. I am using rationality to prove that there is no such thing as rationality. The more rock solid the argument I make for rationality being non-existent, the more I implicitly contradict that. No matter what I do, it is impossible for me to show rationality to be non-existent, because all of my thinking is based off of rationality. So, the only thing to do is to put this to rest.

To sum up all of this: of the three forms of nihilism that I discussed here—existential nihilism, moral nihilism, and rational nihilism—I consider myself to be two of them. I find it irrational to have any sort purpose to your life, especially if that purpose paints you as the “good guy” in the world, so I am an existential nihilist. There is no such thing as an objective morality. Morality is a social delusion, and a flawed attempt at understanding why human populations have certain behavioral trends. These trends are simply a result of us evolving into social beings for our common survival. So these acknowledgements lead me to be a moral nihilist. And finally, it is possible for rationality to be considered subjective, but the only way to reach that conclusion is to use rationality as if it is objective, so rational nihilism is self-refuting. All in all, my worldview is quite happy and invigorating.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=whAtZXNM_Mo

Brave New World: Assorted Musings

I just finished the book, Brave New World. All in all, it was a very interesting read. To give a basic summary of all of the relevant details, the story is about a “utopian” future, where community and stability are held at the utmost importance. Natural birth has been abolished. In place of it, humans are now bred out of test tubes, where they are genetically altered to conform to whatever caste the state designates to them. Because it is no longer necessary, the family structure has been abolished, as well. Now, all of these test tube grown children are raised by the state, where they are conditioned through hypnopedic processes and punishment to conform to society and do what the state desires. Hypnopedic processes are where messages or ideas are repeated to people on a loop as they sleep, so it becomes engrained in their thoughts. Punishment is self-explanatory, but to give an example, some babies are taught to hate certain things, by punishing them with loud sounds, whenever they go near them. People are taught to abhor individuality, and to desire community above all else. And to suppress any kind of displeasure with the world around them, the state distributes a drug called soma, which is an escape from all pain and suffering. The people in the world don’t know what actual suffering is, because they simply ignore the concept. Art and science are dead, because they both go against the state. It is established that good art is acquired through pain and suffering, so it is all but non-existent, at this point (people are writing about nothing); science is limited, so that new discoveries are only beneficial to the state.

This book is an excellent example of collectivism taken too far. Collectivism, putting the good of the community above the good of the individual, is something that I am incredibly skeptical about. Especially today, individual rights are curbed for the sake of communal good for a particular community. An excellent example of this would be quotas. Discrimination against individuals (white/male individuals, usually) is justified because various minority groups are not properly represented. Care for representation comes from a collectivist perspective, while care for an individual being discriminated against comes from an individualist perspective. Of course, this book is far more extreme than anything we are dealing with today, but it does an excellent job demonstrating why you cannot have both. You cannot fight for common good without curbing the individual; you cannot fight for the individual without curbing the common good.

I also am interested in the focus on pain as something that is humanizing. This is seen in two ways. First, the relationships between the characters are stronger when they share their problems with one another, while their relationships fall apart instantly in the superficial world they achieve with the drug, soma. Bonds form in the face of adversity. These bonds are virtually nonexistent in Brave New World, with it even going so far as to establish emotional loss after someone’s death as alien to their culture. They don’t understand what it is like to mourn the loss of a loved one. Second, as I briefly touched upon in the beginning, great art is achieved through suffering. Writings, like Shakespeare, are abolished because they are no longer consistent with the new world. The people in the new world are no longer conscious of the concepts of pain and longing for love, so they can never understand plays like Othello and Romeo and Juliet. I completely agree with this stance. As someone who likes to write stories myself, I know that I would have nothing packing my stories if I had no knowledge of pain or displeasure. My stories in particular are steeped in despair and horror, so my work requires this more than the average writer. Brave New World ends with John (the Savage) choosing pain over pleasure because of this fact. I agree (though he does take it a bit far).

There is also the idea of religion and god being discussed. The book has a pro-religious message, tying religion in with art, like Shakespeare. It is established that people turn to religion in times of adversity, and since people in that world do not know of pain, they no longer have need for religion. But it is also true that religion brings people together. So, to exploit this fact, there are meetings where people essentially tap into their spiritual side using drugs, but instead of becoming one with god, they become one with one another. It is almost like what hippies do.

Another interesting thing discussed in the book is the difference of cultures. The culture described above is considered civilized, while others are considered savage. Since families and natural birth have been abolished, the idea that everyone belongs to everyone is pushed around. As a result, sexual promiscuity is not only the norm, but it is encouraged. Attachment to one person or another is bad. So when a woman who grew up conditioned into this culture finds herself in another civilization, one considered savage, she hardly fits in. She sleeps with all sorts of men, and is physically punished for it, because these men belong to other women. She is called a whore, etc. and she is ostracized from their society. This is an interesting turn of perspective. Today, in America, things are changing, so that promiscuity is more accepted, but social conformity for us has always been chastity, not the other way around. It is also interesting that the book hints at the fact that chastity is what humans are inclined to do. The only way the “civilized” culture could hold this norm is by conditioning people into holding it up.

All in all, the book was enjoyable. There was this one part near the beginning, where it deliberately jumped around between perspectives, sometimes sentences at a time, and it was very confusing and poorly communicated. There were also parts where Huxley didn’t bother making new paragraphs, instead, letting them carry on for more than two pages, and that always strains my attention span. But, the rest of the story was very good. I liked the prose and the diction. It was much better than most of the garbage I have to read regularly, so it was rather refreshing.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=CmWOg95arkY

Free College is for the Entitled

In the wake of Bernie Sanders endorsing Hillary Clinton (and consequently leaving the race, officially), I have been looking closer at his policies, particularly his stance on college; free college. Of course, any knowledgeable person knows that college won’t actually be free: the government will tax everyone at a higher rate, and all of the money will be pooled together into one pot to collectively pay for everyone’s college. I find this idea of “free” college to be a bad idea. I understand the practical side of the argument: that it may help get more people into the work force, but this is not compelling in my worldview in any way. I personally hold to the idea of personal responsibility for all adults: each and every man or woman should be responsible for their own lives, and this includes getting any sort of formal education. If you desire further education in your life, then it is on you to pay for your own college.

This logic applies to pretty much everything else in your life: if you want a computer, or a house, or any sort of good, you have to work for it yourself. And yes, I think that college education can properly be compared to these goods I exemplified. College education is something more than a basis of knowledge: it is knowledge that is specific to your job, and is a choice that you make according to how you want to live your life. To most people, it would be absurd to think that we should tax everybody at a higher rate just so we could provide computers for everyone, so why should it be done for our college education? In both cases, they are something provided to people who choose to pay for them. Under democratic socialism it is essentially asserted that everyone desires these things, so we may as well distribute it out to all of them. This is not true. Not everyone needs college education to get through life: believe it or not, it is not a necessity for every job. Under democratic socialism, any person who makes the decision to not go to college will then be forced against their will to pay for everyone else’s education. I call this extortion. If this is to be avoided, it only makes sense to leave the expenses to each individual person.

A common objection to this idea is that our K-12 education in America is done the democratic socialist way. This is true, but you would be ignoring some important distinctions that set it apart. First, K-12 education is a requirement, so this removes the choice element that is so important when rejecting “free” college. Second, as I stated in the beginning, personal responsibility is something that every adult should have; this distinction matters. Children need to be provided for, even if they generally don’t want it. Every child needs to have a base education in order to get through life, so an exception must be made here. Once you graduate high school and become a legal adult, you enter a new phase of your life where you are forced to make a choice: where do you want to go with your life? And based on that decision comes the choice of whether you go to college; like any adult, you will then have to work to receive what you want.

Another objection would be the cost of college. College is so expensive these days; you literally see the complaints about student loan debts every day of the week. Students graduate college with debts ranging as high as eighty thousand dollars, if not more. This is incomprehensibly large. And colleges do this to them; they go for an education, and they leave worse off than before because they’ll be stuck paying debts for the rest of their lives. But whose fault is that? How could you possibly think that racking up a mountain of debt was worth it? If your education was too important, then you could have gone somewhere cheaper. Here’s a heartbreaking fact for you: not everyone can go to the big prestigious college. I recognize that people grow up being told they are special snowflakes, but they need to get it into their heads that there are some things you quite simply cannot do. Did you get accepted into Harvard? Can you also go into a smaller campus nearer to home? Which to choose? Well, if you want to choose, then you’ll have to break it down financially. If you find that you’ll be able to pay off all but twenty thousand dollars of your expenses each year at Harvard, then don’t go! And if you do end up going, don’t complain when you live the rest of your natural life smothered by debt; that was your choice, so it’s your fault; don’t listen to your parents if they tell you otherwise: they’re wrong.

I deliberately took steps to avoid taking out student loans. First, I worked nearly full time during high school; then I saved all of that cash. I also did well in school and applied for scholarships. Then I went to a local college and paid for all of my education upfront. I transferred to a larger college when my education required it, but this was because it was a requirement. I did really well and the college gave me even more money that carried over into the larger college. But the important bit is that I never took out a student loan. Ever. How could I want to? I didn’t want to land myself into debt, and fortunately, my parents agreed. So, if you want to, or need to go to college, then be smart about it. Most people want to stroke their ego and go to some big, prestigious college like Harvard, but that doesn’t make you intelligent; in fact, more often than not, it is probably one of the dumbest decisions you could possibly make.

So no, college should not be free. College is a choice made by individuals, and in the case that they choose to go some other route they should not have their cash forcibly taken from them through excessive taxes. Adults are responsible for their own lives, and this extends to college education. Just because people are incapable of being responsible when it comes to spending money does not mean they need to be coddled and helped along. Your choices have consequences, and protecting people from them will only make the situation worse: they will never learn from their mistakes. And it is fair by this world’s standards. Whether you like it or not, making people pay for their own college education is as fair as you can get.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=bnF8Eu03me4

Debunked Trump Card: Pseudo-Intellectual Moron

Every time you get into an argument about religion or politics or some other controversial topic you find yourself having to deal with people who think they can win arguments using underhanded tactics. Their methods are incredibly infuriating, and are nothing less than insufferable. Sometimes a fist through the wall is the only satisfactory response, but in an attempt to save you precious time and money I have decided to create a series exposing a class of these scumbags in short posts.

The losers on the table now are those types who like to take your arguments and twist them in such a way that it makes you out to be . . . you guessed it: a scumbag. This isn’t the same as Passive-Aggressive Emotional Bullshit: while the last one was manipulative and emotionally charged, this type of behavior comes from pseudo-intellectuals who think they can logically pin you down.

This can start with you making a statement, sharing your opinion on a controversial subject. Say you claim that drug users are pathetic. You give your list of reasons to make your case: some people have a needless dependency on something; if you have a needless dependency on something you are weak. And this pseudo-intellectual moron comes along and instead of addressing your argument or any of your points he accuses you of calling sick people using medical marijuana pathetic . . .

I have literally heard this accusation before.

I don’t fucking care if you think I should specify whom I am talking about. I don’t care if you think I am talking about you, and you personally use marijuana for medical purposes. I don’t fucking care about how my comments make you feel. If you honestly think I need to introduce my statements with a caveat that says: “I’m not talking about those who actually need it medically!” then you are a sensitive little bitch.

So maybe I was wrong in the beginning: maybe these people are a bit emotional.

And the same logic applies to obesity. The second you make a comment towards some morbid, grotesque blob of fat, mocking their lack of self-control, or their size, you get a hoard of nasty comments about how some fat people can’t help it. Some people are actually sick. Yeah? Really? And how much of the overblown obesity statistic is actually suffering from thyroid problems, and how many aren’t? Yeah, that’s what I thought . . .

So when you find yourself in the company of one of these morons leaving a comment like: “I suffer from anxiety and I need marijuana to quell the nerves, and you think I’m pathetic?” respond with: “Yes. Perhaps you should kill yourself. Remember to cut along the veins, not across.” They’ve proven to be unreasonable, so why bother engaging with them?

Video: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=bRytQ5jrnJU

#BlackLivesMatter and the Poison of Collectivism

As I am sure you’re all aware (or I hope you’re aware), there is a series of hot-button topics dominating the political stage, among those being the topic of race. It pains me to see such a vast amount of people being misled on this topic by a certain mindset: collectivism. Collectivism is not necessarily an inherent “evil”, but in today’s day and age it is leading to more injustice and bias. It encourages people to view themselves and others as collectives (or groups) instead of as individual human beings, and to approach social issues in that sort of retrograde manner. This can be dangerous because, although it shuns the idea of individualism, people tend to be individualist due to our self-centered nature. Everything we view is from our own perspective, and through our own biases. So people take collectivist assumptions and try to apply it to individuals, when that clearly does not work.

People generally don’t put all of their focus on politics and discussion of social issues, so they are generally unaware of the impact our mindsets can have on the way we view the world. But, unfortunately, this does not make the impact on society any less enormous. The lens you wear when viewing the world can drastically distort what you see, and can leave you in an entirely different world than the rest: an ideological world. Some have gone down this rabbit hole and have gone completely haywire from what they have seen, while others are just on the cusp. Despite this, I sincerely doubt the vast majority of people are bound to embrace ideological beliefs mainly due to one reason: I am not convinced that the majority of people are aware of the logical consequences of what they are doing, or what they are saying. This is what compels me to write this post. Explaining the logical consequence of people’s beliefs is probably the most effective way to dissuade them, and since I believe most aren’t set in stone on this debate of collectivism and individualism many are probably just waiting for it to happen.

So what does all of this abstract mean? Allow me to put it into more understandable context. I mentioned the race issue in America at the beginning of this post. This topic probably holds some of the best examples of the aforementioned collectivism: Black Lives Matter. This is not going to be a hit-piece on their behavior, as abhorrent as it is, but a hit on the movement as a whole. You often see members of the movement going around asking people, “Do black lives matter, or do all lives matter?” The point is that people are supposed to be focusing on the group of people who have it the worst. Black people have it the worst, so saying “all lives matter” includes people who do not need help. Black people need help. Black Lives Matter seemingly has a rock solid argument, and most critics only look stupid in contest. White people aren’t the ones consistently gunned down by police, so why the hell is the discussion going to include them?

But there is a problem with all of this. Remember what I said about the lens you choose distorts the way you look at the world? Black Lives Matter has adopted the collectivist lens when looking at the world. If you look at the world as collectives (i.e. black people, white people, yellow people, and so on), then all of their statements certainly are true. But this is because they are making broad generalizations about diverse groups of people. A better way to word the aforementioned claims of Black Lives Matter would be: black people have it worse, on average, and white people have it better, on average. You cannot use averages to make blanket statements about people, but this is certainly what Black Lives Matter does. Their line of thinking leads them to believe they can take this average and just assume that any black person in the country is oppressed and disadvantaged by the system. Even with people like Barack Obama in high positions of power. So any rational human, at this point, should be wondering why people are being viewed as members of a collective at all. If you are required to make generalizations, then why would you think you’re looking at the world in a valid manner?

Individualism simply argues that we scrap the focus of viewing humanity as groups of lookalike people in favor of acknowledging that each and every person is different from the last. This is does not necessarily mean you refuse to notice trends altogether, just that you stop categorizing people according to characteristics that are immutable, like skin color. Once you remove the collectivist lens, the world begins to look quite a bit different. You start to look at each particular event in the news as its own individual occurrence, and consequently stop associating unlike events. Black Live Matter would almost have you believe that police are systematically killing black people, and that each case you see on the media is another step in the process. But is there a connection between two black people being shot on opposite sides of the country, simply due to them and their perpetrators sharing skin color? No. There is no connection, they are individual cases, and they should be treated as such. This is not a denial of police brutality, this is not a denial of racist cops: this is simply an acknowledgement that individual people are the problem, not a coalition of racists. And probably the most important thing to accept, alongside the individualist approach is that this means not every case is a result of racism. People too easily jump on the “racism!” bandwagon whenever a white cop kills a black man. If there is evidence that racism is involved in an individual shooting, then the anti-racist rallying against the cop is warranted, but there must be evidence. And in the event that there is, it only qualifies as evidence of racism in that specific case. It seems that some people think they can justify claims of racism in Detroit because of one racist cop in California. No. They are individual cases. If you want people to believe they are connected, then you’ll have to go fishing for more evidence to support that claim.

These are all issues that need to be remedied if we want to effectively take on police brutality. Taking up an ideological lens does not make the problems go away, it just blinds you to the truth. There is far too much nuance in the world for such a simplistic approach. Collectivism only works in drastic cases, where a particular group is so disadvantaged, and so put down, that the only logical thing to do is generalize. A good example of this would be in the nineteen sixties during the civil rights movement. Jim Crow and segregation systematically held black people back, so it made sense to help them in a collective manner. The “all lives matter” claim would have less justification then. But things have changed so much since then, and even though black people still have it worse, on average, they have integrated enough to the point that it is impossible to treat them as a collective without being completely disingenuous.

As if this could not get any worse, this disingenuousness leads to prejudice and bias in people. And this applies to every demographic. I honestly believe that the country is now moving in the wrong direction, and that people are becoming more and more prejudiced. But you can only blame people so much. They bear a lot of responsibility, but much of it rests on the shoulders of those pushing these ideals (I’m looking at you, liberal University professors). Think on it. When you are constantly bombarded with claims that black people are on the bottom, what do you start to assume every time you meet a black person? When you are constantly told white people have it better in society, what do you start to assume every time you meet a white person? These prejudices plague our society in many forms, mostly in these two words: white privilege. It is essentially an excuse some people use to disregard hard facts like: twenty million white people are living in poverty, according to the latest statistics. White privilege is certainly the most prominent regressive trend in society and the fact that so many people think it is okay to make judgments based on skin color is quite scary, actually. It is almost like they ignored everything they learned in Martin Luther King Junior’s “I Have A Dream” speech. It is quite simple: if we honestly want to live in a world where bias and prejudice are all but extinct, then we absolutely have to take King’s words to heart.

Individualism is what leads you in the direction of Martin Luther King Junior’s dream. Individualism is what leads you away from prejudice and bias. Individualism is what pushes society towards a more fair and inclusive environment. Collectivism is a simplistic worldview that shutters your mind to the complexity of the human race and its interrelations. Don’t let yourself be fooled. I have hope that most people are capable of being rational if they truly want to: therefore everyone is capable of understanding the importance of nuance.

References

Video: https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=cYeMpmooRRA

My inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oW8piEF9Lhc

Poverty statistics by race: http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/

Martin Luther King Junior’s Speech:

Written: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkihaveadream.htm

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vDWWy4CMhE

Averages are only averages:

Written: https://stateofthenihil.wordpress.com/always-only-average/

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s80Ias-uA54

Bias and prejudice:

http://money.cnn.com/2016/04/28/news/economy/unstereotyped-white-historically-black-college/index.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6IlGoeDIUQ (Bernie panders)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gI9MCvK2MGs (Trump supporter is the least racist)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAeB_yl2E90 (Yes, black people aren’t hive minded)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YU3vcvGpALQ (All of them are morons)