The Disposable Male. Part II

The women’s liberation movement did a lot to free women from the shackles of their evolutionary imposition, but we often fail to see the biological and social constraints that men face as equally damaging or equally anachronistic.

Yesterday I mentioned the 10,000+ men and boys kidnapped or murdered by Boko Haram, and the Birkenhead Drill (women and children first), but these are not the only examples of male disposability. Men are much more likely to die on the job, to be the victims of violence and suicide, and men on average lead shorter lives. Our society places much greater value on the lives of women than it does the lives of men.

 

In thinking about this subject, I’m often lead to the question of why this is. Is this merely a symptom of patriarchal socialization, or is there a deeper, more fundamental reason? Full disclosure, I’m no evolutionary biologist. I’m not even a scientist. But, it seems to me that if there is a deeper reason for the association between male lives and disposability, it’s probably a link that stretches back far into antiquity- an evolutionary link. Let’s look at it this way, early man lived in family groups of ~150. These groups were then subdivided into “fission-fusion” tribes for foraging, where the composition of forage groups changes continuously. of that 150, half are women. Of that 75, how many are breed-able? Of those that are breed-able, how many of their offspring are A) female and B) post-pubescent? You end up with small numbers of child bearing women at any given time. A loss of just one of these child bearing women, could spell disaster for the larger group, purely in terms of genetic diversity.

Conversely, one adult male can sire many many children. There is no recuperative time between impregnation, and providing that “his females” have the proper caloric intake to sustain pregnancy and subsequent child rearing, one male has the ability to sire hundreds of children. His biological clock never really runs out. This is the origin of primitive gender roles. Each individual breeding female is too valuable to be lost to violence or famine. Males however are more or less interchangeable. This is why the males hunted (to provide the caloric intake necessary to bear and raise children) and warred (to primarily keep the females safe from harm). So when a male didn’t return from a hunting party or war party, I’m sure the tribe felt sadness for his loss, but better him than any of the breed-able women. This paradigm continued throughout the ancient, medieval, renaissance, and colonial world.

This may all seem far too archaic, but when you consider that human society didn’t change all that much until relatively recently, these biologically necessary gender roles remained in effect, despite the fact that they are no longer needed. The women’s liberation movement did a lot to free women from the shackles of their evolutionary imposition, but we often fail to see the biological and social constraints that men face as equally damaging or equally anachronistic. We are not equal until the lives of men are no longer considered disposable.

The Disposable Male. Part 1

What happened to those young girls, and continues to happen to women and girls throughout the developing world, was and is atrocious. But what often gets overlooked is the 10,000+ boys who were either kidnapped or murdered by Boko Haram since 2009. Yes, 10,000+.

On April 14 2014, the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped 200 school girls near Chibok, Nigeria. Motivated by the desire to impose Sharia upon Nigeria and claim the world for the global Caliphate, Boko Haram threatened to sell the girls into slavery if their (largely financial) demands were not met. The Western media response was swift. Every hour, every news channel featured in depth coverage, and even the then President and First Lady promoted the hashtag campaign #bringbackourgirls. Governments responded quickly as well, sending financial and military aid to Nigeria in order to counter the threat posed to women and girls by Boko Haram.

What happened to those young girls, and continues to happen to women and girls throughout the developing world, was and is atrocious. But what often gets overlooked is the 10,000+ boys who were either kidnapped or murdered by Boko Haram since 2009. Yes, 10,000+. Some of these boys were even locked in their homes and set alight or they had their throats slit as they slept, even with their sisters and mothers being set free. There was no hashtag campaign for them. In fact very few people even noticed because forcing boys into slavery in Africa is so common it hardly seems like news. Perhaps had we done something about the 10,000+ kidnapped or murdered boys prior to 2014, those 200 missing girls would still be studying in their dormitories.

But there is another reason why no one noticed. Men and boys are seen as disposable, and this isn’t simply a problem of third world barbarism. I think all men pray that they are never on a sinking ship with too few life rafts, lest the captain (in true Western tradition) shout “I’ll brain any man who touches a lifeboat. Women and children first!” Far from a trite patriarchal colloquialism, the “Birkenhead Drill” has been enforced famously several times, including on the RMS Titanic and more recently on the downed US Airways flight that landed in the Hudson River in 2009. Tom Brokaw gleefully reported that, thankfully, after all the women and children were evacuated, there were enough life jackets for the men. Oh, what luck. Every man reading this somehow knows exactly how the decision to evacuate was made on board. Every man looked at each other and resigned himself to his fate should the plane sink. If any of them stepped out of that sinking craft before all the women and children were evacuated, lifelong ridicule would certainly be their fate and they all knew it.

During the last election, it struck me painfully how easily Sec. Clinton was able to dismiss the question of whether or not women should be forced to sign up for the Selective Service without giving a moments thought to whether or not its morally appropriate to subject men to that system. Why would she? War is almost exclusively the domain of men whether they like it or not. Only a handful of women are combat veterans and more than 95% of all military casualties since the Korean war are male. Even among civilian deaths, men are as much as 10 times as likely to die or otherwise be victims of violence during war time as women. When talking about purely sexual violence, the numbers switch, but men are still around 40% of all rape victims.

I’m well over my 500 word mark here. Tomorrow I’m going to post about why I think men are seen as disposable and Wednesday I’m going to say a few words on how we might fix this.

Little Biddy Babies

This isn’t just about freedom of expression and safe spaces, this is about a re-juvenile devolution into profound social gridlock, driven by absurdity and nurtured by political fatigue.

In the dead of night a tragedy occurred. Starting at 3 in the morning, crews working in the city of New Orleans removed a famous statue of Jefferson Davis the first, and, thankfully, only president of the Confederate States of America. I call it a tragedy not because I especially like Jefferson Davis or sympathize with the Rebellion, but because of the temper tantrum which precipitated this removal and which may signal the removal of many other cultural monuments, perhaps including one to my hero Thomas Jefferson at Columbia University.

Human beings are complicated. It’s probably the thing I like about us the most. Human beings can be, and often are, a mixture of conflicts. We’re all hypocrites in one way or another.  Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson Davis (as well as many of the others on the proverbial chopping block) are no different. They can be loved and simultaneously despised. But perhaps its too much to ask a modern political society to think more holistically about historical and cultural matters- matters which often contain a great deal of nuance.

The drive to make these historical figures into “un-persons” (to borrow from Orwell) is only part of a much larger story of the infantilization of America. Whether left or right, Americans are becoming increasingly thin skinned. The Right likes to throw around the phrase “snowflake” when liberals shut down free speech rallies at Berkeley or lectures at Villanova,  but burn a flag in front of a conservative and they’ll become just as “triggered”. Even saying the word “rape” is apparently nearly the same as rape itself. We can’t seem to handle things we don’t like anymore. We have become children, wailing for mother. Notable lefty actor and comedian Stephen Fry even took heat for saying as much as Dave Rubin’s show.  To the millennial Left (and to a certain extent the Right) refusal to accept the whole slate of liberal positions makes you into an enemy of the people, and any act against you, whether violent or not, is justified.

This isn’t just about freedom of expression and safe spaces, this is about a re-juvenile devolution into profound social gridlock, driven by absurdity and nurtured by political fatigue. If you don’t like something, a statue, a speaker, an idea, then fight it. Throw eggs at the statue, protest the speaker, or come up with a better idea. Trying to erase those things you don’t like from the world is childish. If it’s really that traumatic for you to encounter something you don’t agree with that you literally can’t even, then maybe take a Xanax and get on with your life. Don’t deny me the opportunity to look at that statue of Jefferson Davis and reflect upon my own self and possibly come to greater conclusions about the world because of it. You don’t own my brain, so stop trying to control what goes into it.

Grow up.

Lament for Republican Intellectuals

Rush Limbaugh is no Ayn Rand

On January 13, 1978, notable Conservative intellectual and founder of the National Review William F. Buckley Jr. took on then Gov. Ronald Reagan about the pair of treaties that would divorce the United States from her control over the Panama Canal Zone. I have always been a fan of both Buckley and President Reagan (despite their faults), but I had never seen this particular debate until last night. Anyone familiar with either of them will no doubt be aware of how charming, amiable, and smart the two of them are, but Buckley stood out during the debate as the more erudite and the more intellectually rigorous.

This got me thinking about who among modern conservatives inherited Buckley’s mantle after his death in 2008. George Will is the obvious candidate. He is smart, largely impartial, and has a jovial style that reminds conservatives that it’s okay to take themselves less seriously. I also get the impression that Will see’s himself in this same light. But Will lacks the polysyllabic, ten-dollar-words Buckley is famous (or infamous) for. This is not a trite distinction.

But who else on the Right can claim Buckley’s intellectual inheritance? I don’t think anyone can. This has left the Right in a state of intellectual absence. There are few Republicans who can articulate positions and think through problems as clearly as Buckley, or even the much maligned Barry Goldwater. Rush Limbaugh is no Ayn Rand.

The left doesn’t seem to have this problem. They have Gore Vidal, the late Christopher Hitchens, Noam Chomsky, Ta-Nehisi Coates and others. Despite the many sins of the intellectual left, the fact remains that even the most capable of Right-wing thinkers, including my love Rand Paul, can’t stand up to the rhetorical challenge alone posed by people like Chomsky and Vidal. Perhaps this situation can be best explained by the fact that the left seems to have conquered the Académie, but I think the bigger issue is that conservatives no longer want intellectualism- and, without demand, the supply has simply dried up.

Look at Ted Cruz. Many on the right call Sen. Cruz an conservative intellectual heavy-weight, but I often find myself wishing he would make more thorough arguments rather than spending time trying to make himself seem like an “every-man”. Trying to appeal to the audience’s emotional senses is not the mark of true intellectualism. When a conservative does try to elevate the conversation, they are often maligned. This is not necessarily a new phenomenon. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was often the target of anti-intellectualism when he ran for Senate in 1976 (Moynihan’s Republican opponent, William F. Buckley’s older brother James,  often derisively referred to Moynihan as “Prof. Moynihan”). During the Republican primary race in 2007, Ron Paul was mocked for talking about the books he likes to read.

If sensible conservatives really want their party back from Trump’s vulgar populism, they have to start emulating Buckley and Will, not Bannon and Rush.

Where We Can Work with Trump

You’d think we’d be used to sleeping with the enemy by now, but even though there are several issues that can bring us on board the Trump Train, many of us feel a natural revulsion to racist, misogynistic, and nationalistic rhetoric. But let me make an argument to you: we can work with this guy.

As a good friend pointed out to me recently, we libertarians have to really take what we can get when it comes to federal politics. Gary Johnson’s lack luster performance during the last election means that over the next four years at least, we libertarians are going to have to make some strange ideological bedfellows. You’d think we’d be used to sleeping with the enemy by now, but even though there are several issues that can bring us on board the Trump Train, many of us feel a natural revulsion to racist, misogynistic, and nationalistic rhetoric. But let me make an argument to you: we can work with this guy.

Yesterday the President met with 12 of the nation’s most powerful CEO’s (including Elon Musk and Marillyn Hewson) to discuss his vision for the American economy. The whole opening speech he gives is worth a listen, but I’d like to zero in a several key points. First, I think it should be mentioned that meeting with corporations in this way smacks of corporate Fascism, but perhaps it’s not such a maniacal move. Many of these companies are more powerful than some nations, and so it makes sense in that context to meet with these CEO’s as the President might meet with foreign dignitaries.

There are two things the President said that really stroke my Capitalism boner. First he said that we are going to “cut taxes massively”. Of course libertarians jump at the opportunity to cut taxes but the obvious question that leaps to mind is “cut taxes for whom?” As long as he’s cutting taxes, I’m happy. But he stipulated that he wanted to cut taxes for the middle class as well as for business. If he can get the House to go along with him on this (and why wouldn’t they?), then I wholeheartedly welcome a major tax cut. Sure it will balloon the debt, but it’s unlikely that we were going anywhere on that front anyway.

Secondly, the President said that we were going to reduce the number of regulations “by 75%, maybe more.” And went on to say that if companies had their choice, they’d choose lower regulations over lower taxes every-time. He’s probably right on that account. We’ve seen a massive reduction in economic regulation before, during the Reagan administration, and it produced what is sometimes derisively called the “Reagan-Thatcher Economic Miracle”. I’m not saying that these policies were perfect then or will be perfect now, but what I am saying is that cutting regulations and taxes by as much as the President is promising is something that gives libertarians wet-dreams.

Of course, none of this is going to make me go out and buy a bunch of MAGA gear, and it’s also not going to soften my attitude towards the White Nationalist movement, but I’m personally reserving a lot of my criticisms of the administration until I’m convinced none of the above is actually going to happen. We’ll see. But I’m hopeful.

The Alt-Reich Within

“…as much as the alt-right has risen like a snake from within the GOP, occasionally that same snake has risen its head within “America’s Third Party…”

Despite what some media outlets would have you believe, libertarians, and the Libertarian Party, have very little to nothing in common with the “Alt-Right” phenomenon. The Libertarian Party has been at the forefront of Gay Rights and Civil Rights since the party’s founding in 1971. Most of my liberal friends understand this, but let me be clear. The Libertarian Party stands for equality, justice, and freedom- what was once called “the liberal ethic”. We just have a different perspective on how society goes about achieving those ends. However, it’s not as if the alt-right has no showing among libertarians. Indeed, as much as the alt-right has risen like a snake from within the GOP, occasionally that same snake has risen its head within “America’s Third Party”.

It seems like every time there is a major terrorist disaster carried out by Muslim extremists, there are calls from both sides of the aisle for the Muslim community to strongly condemn these acts. Perhaps its unfair to ask them to do so, but nevertheless, it’s time libertarians belly up to the bar and renounce the alt-right in the same way. There are figures associated with libertarianism that make most mainstream libertarians rather uncomfortable. Chief among these must be Lew Rockwell. For those of you unfamiliar, Lew Rockwell was, and has been for some time, an icon in the libertarian movement. Author of many books on liberal (small “l”) philosophy and government, and former Chief of Staff to Congressman Ron Paul, Lew is the person responsible (I’m almost certain) for Ron Paul’s racist and homophobic newsletters. Some of Lew’s whoppers include:

  • “…Given the inefficiencies of what DC laughingly calls the criminal justice system, I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal…”
  • “…even in my little town of Lake Jackson, Texas, I’ve urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense[…] for the animals are coming…”
  • “…Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressman. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day…”

I say that I’m almost certain that these were Lew’s words because he ran Congressman Paul’s newsletters in those days. No one has ever heard Dr. Paul say anything like that and everyone knows (in a ‘wink, wink, nudge, nudge’ kind of way) that Lew Rockwell has harbored more in common with neo-nazi George Lincoln Rockwell than anyone within the libertarian movement would like to admit. Well, I’ll admit it. I reject Lew Rockwell and his ilk.

I’m also not the first to do so. Libertarian blogger Jeremy Kolassa had this to say about Lew back in 2012.

Wait, that’s not true. He has done something [for the movement]: damaged it. I’m out here, trying to tell people about liberty and freedom, and all the time something comes up about how Ron Paul is a racist or that libertarians believe in crazy stuff or whatever. It hurts. It makes it difficult to spread the message of freedom to the country. And that’s what we have to do, you know: we have to convince others to join us, to educate them that it’s okay to hold onto their money and to have a small government (or no government at all, in some cases.) But how can I do that when I got Lew Rockwell sitting over my shoulder muttering something about how the Confederacy was the greatest thing on Earth, and how because I don’t have a paleo diet I’m not really a libertarian and thus nobody should be listening to me?

Come on.

Lew isn’t alone in the libertarian world, but if enough of us raise our voices in opposition to this peculiar form of Randian psychopathy, maybe we can double our vote counts again like we did this past election cycle.

This is the End of the West as We Know It?

I don’t feel fine.

The Independent reported yesterday that Marine Le Pen has taken a sizable lead over former French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the run up to the French general election next year. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ms. Le Pen, she is the leader of France’s Front National, a far-right political party founded in part by former Nazi collaborator Roland Gaucher. Among other things, Ms Le Pen promises to end immigration, strengthen French prestige and international influence, and pursue a slew of “France First” economic and social policies. If the margin of victory is strong enough, Le Pen is poised to deal another serious blow to European and global integration schemes such as the EU, the WTO, and others.

She is not currently projected to win the election, but those are the same sources which predicted that the Brits wouldn’t Brexit and that the Donald hadn’t a prayer of seizing the Oval Office. However, the French are far more liberal than the Brits or the Yanks, and polling data has Le Pen losing the race in the second round by more than 10 points. Still. The polls have been wrong about these things before. The rising tide of European nationalism and American populism has made many people (myself included) worried about the future of Western Liberal Democracy. Some have even gone so far as to lament that this is the beginning of the end for the West.

In the post WWII era, quality of life for most people around the globe has gone up. This is due primarily to the benefits of international free trade, and the democratic institutions which encourage entrepreneurship, creativity, and efficiency. But, despite the easily observable growth in living standards, many in the west favor globalization much less so than their former colonies and protectorates (see graph). It’s difficult to pin down exactly why this is, but some have opined that the growth of so-called 3rd world economies has left the working class in the West feeling like they’re being left behind. This is demonstrably false. Larger and larger slices of pie are going to the developing world, but the pie as a whole is also getting much larger. Everyone’s slice is bigger. That doesn’t seem to matter though. For the former great Empires, seeing a Cambodian prosper must mean that that has come at the expense of their own prosperity because, for hundreds of years, it was true the other way around.

During the age of the great European Empires, the economic principle of Mercantilism (that world wealth is fixed, and in order to have more wealth, one must take it from someone else), guided the policies of the British, French, Germans, Austrians etc. But Mercantilism was never the guiding economic policy of the United States. Instead, America pursued a system of (mostly/usually) free enterprise- the Smithian system. Freedom and liberalization is what leads to broad-based economic prosperity. The West can be saved if we keep that in mind.