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Why Did Oxford Let Me Debate for the Woke? | James Lindsay
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Critical Theory Exists to Tear Society Apart | James Lindsay
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The Woke Rejection of Equality | James Lindsay
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The Current Thing Did Not Take Place

The New Discourses Podcast with James Lindsay, Episode 130

The issue is never the issue; the issue is always the revolution. The issue is never the issue; the issue is always the revolution. This is a core maxim of Marxist activist thought, and it explains so much. In the early 1990s, the French Postmodernist philosopher Jean Beaudrillard put it another way, though, in a sense. He provocatively published a book with the title The Gulf War Did Not Take Place (https://amzn.to/3QHprG9). What Baudrillard meant is that the Gulf War was an event that happened in the Persian Gulf, but what we call the "Gulf War" was a propaganda and media creation by Western intelligence communities and mass media to achieve specific political warfare aims with the public. In that sense, just like how the issue, whether Covid, BLM, Drag Queen Story Hour, Ukraine, "Palestine," or whatever else, is never the issue; each of those Current Things did not take place, in the Baudrillardian sense. In this ...

The Current Thing Did Not Take Place
Degrowth Distributism and the Well-Being Economy

The New Discourses Podcast with James Lindsay, Episode 129

Degrowth is a death cult. Degrowth means starving while you freeze to death in the dark. That said, Degrowth Communism is something more. Specifically, it's something that should be called "Degrowth Distributism," and it's the overarching plan of the United Nations, World Economic Forum, World Health Organization, and the rest operating under the brand name of the "well-being economy." In this long and detailed episode of the New Discourses Podcast, host James Lindsay takes apart the Marxist manipulations of the key words, "scarcity," "wealth," and "abundance," necessary to lure the world into this devious trap. By tracing the seventh chapter of Kohei Saito's recent book Marx in the Anthropocene: Towards the Idea of Degrowth Communism (https://amzn.to/47x5nwL), he's able to unlock the mystery of the what, why, and how for the destination point of this global Communist revolution and explain its fascistic corporate subsidiary ...

Degrowth Distributism and the Well-Being Economy
Class Identity and Gnostic Election

New Discourses Bullets, Ep. 72

Woke Theory, which is to say Woke Gnosticism, requires identification with the class. Marxist socialists must identify with the workers as a class; feminists must identify with women as a class; antiracists must identify with people of color as a class; and so on. This is because they're Social Gnostics. Not only must they identify with their class, then; they do so willingly and as the "true" representatives of that class. This is not only a persistent and important feature of Social Gnosticism to understand; it is also indicative proof of their Gnosticism. In this episode of New Discourses Bullets, host James Lindsay breaks down this feature of Social Gnosticism (Woke) and helps you demystify some of their most important, confusing, manipulative, and perplexing tricks. Join him to learn how to handle it.

Class Identity and Gnostic Election

Sloth and envy are the parents of Communism.

Fear and desperation are the parents of Fascism.

Reason and faith are the parents of Liberty.

Liberty and wisdom are the parents of prosperity.

The Romantic Reaction wasn't part of the Enlightenment. It was an esoteric rejection of it.

It's going to be a tedious decade.

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Believing you need members of "historically marginalized groups" to speak for you as your sword and your shield is the coin of the Intersectional realm.

Now render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's.

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The Basis of Classical Liberalism

We are not God. We cannot become God, make God, or speak with the authority of God. This is axiomatic and the beginning of wisdom and prosperity.

Because we are not God, we cannot know the full nature of God, or even for certainty whether God exists at all. As a result, we cannot know any purpose, including ultimate purpose, each of our lives may have. Because we cannot know the full nature of God, should He exist, nor any purpose our lives may have in His sight, we lack the authority to compel the beliefs of others, lest we lead them into ultimate error. In particular, we therefore lack the authority to alienate anyone, self or other, from the possibility of fulfilling that purpose. In short, lacking the authority of God, we lack justification for the compulsion of our fellow man.

In that we all lack the authority of God and thus any justification for the compulsion of our fellow man, all men are created politically equal. Nothing in the world, which is also not God, justifies an intrinsically limited human being to hold political or social authority over another without the consent of both parties to that relationship. Any authority we can hold over any other person must therefore be earned, provisional, temporary, and voluntarily given and accepted.

Men, by their morally limited nature, which is sometimes called “fallen,” often seek to compel the belief, speech, and action of other men, both for good reasons and bad. The primary mechanisms by which a man can successfully compel another man to belief, speech, or action are through credible threats to his life, liberty, and livelihood, generally recognized in the last case as his property. Further, because of the nature of the ultimate privacy of conscience, which men may have any number of good reasons to keep private from other men, undue violation of the privacy of man and the contents of his mind can coerce him. Any who can destroy another’s life, liberty, or livelihood, or sufficiently violate his privacy, can compel his belief, speech, and activity and thus alienate him through destruction or compulsion from any potential ultimate purpose he may have. Only God could possibly hold such authority, and we are not God. No man can justify claiming such authority.

Thus, we hold these truths to be self-evident: that we are not God, and by virtue of that, we have been endowed by that which led to our existence, our Creator, whether the Laws of Nature or Nature’s God, with certain unalienable rights, and that among these are his life, liberty, and property, including the property of the private contents of our minds, and the ability to make use of these to pursue our happiness, fortunes, and whatever purposes, ultimate or otherwise, there may be within and of our lives.

These rights and the privacy necessary to maintain them shall be set aside and therefore, in light of the original meaning of the word, regarded as holy.

Because men must nevertheless live among one another in as much peace and in pursuit of as much prosperity as we may attain, some political system—a just government—needs to be instituted among them not for their rule but for the securing of these holy and unalienable rights. The primary purpose of a just government is therefore to secure these rights and to facilitate the peaceful resolution of conflicts and disputes that arise between men as a result of them and their individual differences.

What must such a government abide by, then, so that it can achieve this sacred task without itself alienating man from that which is unalienable? Government, too, is not God, no matter in what way it is instituted among men. It cannot become God, neither can it make God, nor can it speak or act with the authority of God. It must abide by limitations of nearly every imaginable sort and must secure the inalienable rights of man from itself and others.

Because a government lacks the authority of God, a just government has no intrinsic political authority over the men among whom it is constituted. That is, a just government cannot rule, and it cannot govern except with the consent of those whom it governs. Since government cannot usurp the authority to rule, law must rule in its place, subject to mechanisms of production and amendment that guarantee the participation and consent of those over whom it rules. In that none possesses any special political authority, none can be exempt from the law that is instituted among men for their own just governance. 

All governments, including a just government, must possess and wield political authority, however, including to produce and enforce the law, which rules in its stead. That authority in a just government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, and as such it is all loaned political authority ultimately answerable at any time to the people it governs, is provisional, and subject to limits of time, scope, and checks and balances on its power.

A just government must be democratic in nature to obtain the consent of those it governs, but it cannot secure the rights of the few against the many unless the democracy is republican in application. Servants must be consented to by the people they represent. Fair and impartial elections must be held at intervals to loan political authority to public servants and to pass it to others at want or need, or else it usurps an authority greater than itself to which it can claim no right. The greater must be given a say and the lesser must be granted enough representation to counter the tide of opinion held prejudicially or negligently against it.

A just government must secure the rights of speech, press, protest, and petition or it cannot be held to account and the consent with which it governs cannot be duly informed. Its powers must be limited, divided, and placed into a system of checks and balances to prevent it from any illegitimate claim to rule with political authority it cannot have. Government is not God because we are not God. Just governments understand this and keep it. Unjust governments reject this and run afoul of it and the men they are meant to serve.

A just government cannot compel the beliefs, speech, or actions of men because it lacks any such authority, which cannot even be given on loan, and consequently it cannot deprive men of their lives, liberties, or properties, or a reasonable expectation of privacy, without the due process of law pursuant to its solitary sacred objective: to secure the inalienable rights of those whom it serves and protects. It therefore must secure the right to believe, speak, and worship as well as the rights to defend oneself against any and all attempts to alienate men from those fundamental rights which he retains inalienably.  It cannot punish cruelly or unusually, torture, or compel any man to profess his own guilt.

Because individual belief and conscience is self-evidently inviolate, just government consequently must also secure a right to privacy without interference in private spaces and a reasonable expectation of limited privacy even in public spaces. In that governments are not God, because we are not God and they are instituted amongst us, they have no authority to violate the inner sanctity of the human mind in any person, neither to torture, nor to surveil persons without justified suspicion or manipulate their beliefs, actions, or environments so as to coerce them against their self-determined will. Instead, as with our other unalienable rights, just governments have a duty to secure a reasonable right to privacy between citizens and hold no right to violate that right themselves. Because we also are not God, none of us individually has any such authority over one another either.

As with just governments, just individuals must obtain any social or political authority they hold over another man by obtaining his consent. Because none possess intrinsic authority over others, consent to hold political authority must not be absolute and should be given freely and under contract according to merits and on terms determined by both relevant parties to be acceptable to each. Political authority between adults is therefore extended by virtue of demonstrated competence that is compelling to those in the relationship. Just governments should secure these arrangements and establish courts of justice to facilitate the resolution of conflicts between parties. The courts must adjudicate the law with impartiality, favoring neither the greater nor the lesser, and only under such judicial restraint should just men submit to the court. Arbitrary power must be resisted, and any doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind. Courts must therefore be impartial in carrying out the law.

Because belief cannot be compelled, likewise, none possess the authority to compel another to believe in any idea, right or wrong, true or false. Therefore, no proposition is to be regarded as true or good by virtue of he who made it. Every proposition earns its authority through processes of validation that demand it survive challenge by competing ideas that ultimately must be brought to bear against our best assessment of the laws of nature of objective reality or of God’s Creation, which by definition cannot be wrong or false and rest outside of but are accessible to each and every man. Men can establish themselves as authorities, to which others can consent or not, based upon their demonstrated capacities to determine that which is right and true through the successful applications of their talents and perceptions. In that every man is not God, which is to say he is limited and finite, no man obtains special or final authority on any of his proclamations of rightness or truth and must consent to seeing his own ideas challenged by those of others.

Because our right to our own property is inalienable, so is our right to do with our property what we will so long as it doesn’t violate the inalienable rights of others. In other words, we have the right not only to hold our property but to engage in commerce with it according to the principles of free enterprise under the law. Property can be exchanged by any two parties who mutually consent to the terms of the contract of exchange without undue interference by third parties, and a just government should secure this right to engage in commerce under its duty to secure the rights of each citizen’s property.

In summary, we are not God. The consequences of this self-evident proposition are vast. None of us possesses the authority to compel another or his belief because we lack in our limitation understanding of the significance of any error against his intrinsic value and potential purpose made in that way. We therefore self-evidently start the project of organizing our society from a position of political equality with certain rights that are inalienable, among these life, liberty, property, capacity for their use toward our happiness and purposes, and a reasonable expectation of privacy in which we can maintain their sanctity. Lacking authority to rule over one another, we are ruled instead by law and merit and lend social and political authority in limited ways as such through processes that are open in their nature and that may best determine these as objectively as we may. Individual belief is sacrosanct not because any man is God but because every man is not. The individual is politically inviolate because he is the vessel of his own sacrosanct individual belief.

Together, these provocative and humbling ideas and the social and political project they define have a name. These are classical liberalism.

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Rousing the American Judiciary

Woke Marxism undermines law, and for it to succeed, it must pervert law to advance its own ends. So far, it has been extremely successful at this, from the Critical Legal Theory movement in the 1970s and 1980s through Critical Race Theory and outright legal and judicial activism. If our remaining judiciary remains unaware of the infiltration and subversion, we will probably lose our country. If it wakes up and discharges its duty more… judiciously… we can save our country the same way they’re trying to take it from us: without firing a shot, as the saying goes. Such is the power of law, and such is the power of judges who adjudicate on the law.

The issue is that judges are very busy and asked to render legal judgments on an array of cases filled with subject matter in which they are not, cannot be, and should not be expected to be experts. This represents a major crack in the legal and judicial armor that’s susceptible to legal subversion. A great deal of this subversion has already taken place in both low courts and high, though we’re also seeing a wakening judiciary quickly starting to realize the problem and its underlying nature. This rousing of the judiciary is patently visible in the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, especially in light of Justice Clarence Thomas’s remarks about misapplications of substantive due process in that and other decisions. We see it also in the recent Supreme Court decision about racial discrimination in college admissions at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, challenging the entire basis for the “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” industry by reversing much of the logic of Bakke v. Board of Regents and Grutter v. Bollinger. The awakening of the American judiciary seems to be arriving just in the nick of time.

The fact is, law is being subverted and has been subverted. This has been the result of decades of intentional activism. Aside from the direct legal activism resulting from activists taking the roles of judges, another form of subversive legal activism exists as well, one that exploits the gap in the judicial armor in two ways: by having hijacked language and expertise. Busy judges have to go significantly on domain-specific information that they are given, prepared through testimony and amicus briefs and the likes. Their domain is the law, not necessarily the domains upon which they have to adjudicate the law. In that breech, the lies of activists flourish.

This activism is definitely intentional and purposed, and its purpose is to undermine the institution of American law and turn it toward Marxist ends. Going back to one of the fathers of Western Marxism, Antonio Gramsci, Marxist strategy in Western nations has been largely subversive rather than overt. Gramsci described a Western world that is ruled over not merely by a class of people but by a powerful cultural force he alleged is produced and maintained by those people for their own benefit. This force he called “cultural hegemony,” and he said the only way to bring socialism (and Marxism) to the West would be to infiltrate and subvert the cultural institutions that generate cultural hegemony and turn them from within so they instead produce a “counter-hegemonic” view that can then trickle out into the cultural milieu and make it ripe for revolution. The five domains Gramsci identified for infiltration and capture are religion, family, education, media, and law, with a special emphasis on education because all professional activities are downstream from schooling.

Gramsci wrote this in the 1920s and 1930s, and the thesis was picked up by Rudi Deutshke, who called it “the long march through the institutions” in the mid-1960s, and Critical Marxist thought-leader Herbert Marcuse, who demanded this march from his activists in his 1972 work Counterrevolution and Revolt, which has set the stage for Western Marxist activism ever since. The goal was to infiltrate the institutions and turn them from within. Simultaneously, using Marcuse’s Critical Theory, which he adapted from his Frankfurt School colleague Max Horkheimer, the entire fabric of Western Civilization and culture was to be hauled into “ruthless criticism” and turned inside-out.

Today, the results of these two initiatives—the Long March and Critical Theory—we have a credentialed expert class and expert-credentialing apparatus (the higher education system and professional organizations) that are effectively completely captured. When students pass through, even if they are not taken in by the Critical Marxist, or Woke, perspective, they’re flooded with it such that it no longer rankles their sensibilities when they encounter it later in life. Meanwhile, the professional class of experts who might show up to inform the judiciary on crucial cases is filled with purposed and well-funded activists who make sure to render their fake-expert opinion in the best professionalese in every case of relevant importance. If judges aren’t aware that expertise itself has been tainted, they’re likely to fall for the distortions of this bogus professional cadre and the bogus studies they use to back their activist claims. Justice, the domain of the judiciary, is the victim.

This professionalese is also laced with activist language, words that have obvious everyday meanings but specialized activist meanings that are easily equivocated upon. Some key examples are words like “diversity” (which actually means “expert in Diversity as a theory”), “inclusion” (which means excluding and censoring anything that can be construed to create a disparate impact of exclusion of discrimination), “hate” (which means not giving the activists their way), “harm” (which means the psychological discomfort experienced by the activists when not getting their way), and “trauma” (which means the result of the injuries of “hate” and “harm” as described above). These words are myriad, if not legion (in the biblical sense). Without awareness that Critical Marxism has equivocated much of the language itself—take “diversity” in the context of the Bakke and Grutter decisions, for example—rendering sound adjudications is simply impossible.

Our judiciary, insofar as it still cares about this country, needs to be made aware of these two gaps so that prudence and discernment can return to their rightful positions in rendering judgments on these important cases. I’m in no way calling for judges to become experts in “Woke” language or ideological subversion. Instead, I’m calling for a growing sense of awareness that both language and expertise are at least partly captured and being weaponized so that sound judgments cannot be made on prima facie understanding of expert testimony or the plain meanings of words. The experts are often fake, the expertise manufactured to purpose, and plain meaning of words plainly not meant.

While both of these issues are extremely important for our nation’s judges to be aware of and to take into account when rendering their decisions, the issue of captured, equivocal language is particularly important. Smart people—such as judges are—are some of the most susceptible to the wizardry of equivocal language because they’re the most likely to be certain they already know the plain meanings of many words. Furthermore, simply through these linguistic equivocations, the entire meaning of a law or ruling can be changed or even reversed without changing any of the relevant wording. As an example, the Fourth Amendment protects against government seizure of property, but it does not protect against the seizure of stolen property. If, through “land acknowledgements” or whatever other Marxist manipulation, a judge can be convinced that the property held by some entity is in fact “stolen,” whether from indigenous tribes or through the illegitimate accumulation of capital through exploitation of Man or Nature, the Fourth Amendment would cease to protect that property from seizure—a trick Communist countries used again and again in their own legal contexts. All of contract law is vulnerable to this kind of linguistic exploitation as well once certain activist clauses are inserted into the contract itself or the underlying set of assumptions upon which it is based.

If we are going to save this nation and restore and establish a fair Rule of Law, the Gramscian infiltration and subversion of law must be stopped. Much of this subversion takes place by taking advantage of a judiciary that does not fully comprehend how tainted expertise, expert testimony, and language are as a result of decades of Critical activism. My hope is that this essay sounds an alarm and starts a movement to shake them awake before it’s too late.

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Queer Education Is Child Abuse

Queer Theory, which nearly all of the gender and sexuality education in America is ultimately based upon, has nothing to do with "LGBT" education. This is evident to anyone who reads it, not only because its goals are diametrically opposed to LGBT acceptance and normalization in our society, but because they say so themselves very specifically over and over again. For one example, quoting Emily Drabinski, the openly politically Queer and Marxist current president of the American Library Association, from her 2013 paper “Queering the Catalog,” “Queer theory is distinct from lesbian and gay studies.” It could hardly be more blunt. She adds, “where lesbian and gay studies takes gender and sexual identities as its object of study, queer theory is interested in how those identities come discursively and socially into being and the kind of work they do in the world.” Her conclusion? “Lesbian and gay studies is concerned with what homosexuality is. Queer theory is concerned with what homosexuality does.”

What does Drabinski mean about “the kind of work they do in the world” when referring to “queer identities” and what they “do in the world”? She means activism. Nothing more and nothing less.

“Queer” is not an identity like gay, lesbian, or bisexual. It is by definition an explicitly and intentionally activist identity. That is, it is a political stance, not a fact of who someone is—in fact, not an identity at all. Again, this is by definition in Queer Theory. As David Halperin defined it in his 1995 book Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography, a few pages away from a rousing discussion of the transformative potential of “anal fisting” as an ideal sex act,

Unlike gay identity, which, though deliberately proclaimed in an act of affirmation, is nonetheless rooted in the positive fact of homosexual object-choice, queer identity need not be grounded in any positive truth or in any stable reality. As the very word implies, “queer” does not name some natural kind or refer to some determinate object; it acquires its meaning from its oppositional relation to the norm. Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily refers. It is an identity without an essence.

Halperin takes great pains to distinguish homosexual being from political homosexual doing and insists that the latter is all of and exactly what Michel Foucault meant by the term “the homosexual,” which he often employed. As he explains, “[Queerness] can now be constituted not substantively but oppositionally, not by what it is but by where it is and how it operates. Those who knowingly occupy such a marginal location, who assume a de-essentialized identity that is purely positional in character, are properly speaking not gay but queer.” Drabinski obviously drew upon this view to form her own.

And what is it Queer Theory does? It disrupts. By definition. The definition of “Queer” in Queer Theory, as we see, is that which resists and challenges all norms and expectations of normalcy. So bringing into education materials based in Queer Theory, including so-called gender-critical perspectives that separate sex and gender as though they are completely different phenomena, is meant to make children activists in this disruptive, destabilizing mode of misunderstanding the world. That has no place in our educational institutions, especially when it’s happening outside of parental knowledge and approval.

Think I’m exaggerating? Here is what the educational paper “Drag Pedagogy,” arguing for Drag Queen Story Hours in schools, says about the matter: “Ultimately, the authors propose that ‘drag pedagogy’ provides a performative approach to queer pedagogy that is not simply about LGBT lives, but living queerly.” Those italics are in the original. The authors elaborate upon this notion of “living queerly” by stating,

It may be that DQSH is “family friendly,” in the sense that it is accessible and inviting to families with children, but it is less a sanitizing force than it is a preparatory introduction to alternate modes of kinship. Here, DQSH is “family friendly” in the sense of “family” as an old-school queer code to identify and connect with other queers on the street.

In my professional work, I have struggled to find a word more adequate than the officially disallowed word “grooming” to describe “a preparatory introduction to alternate modes of kinship” based around “living queerly.” These unacceptable projects, hidden behind a street-slang pun, are core objectives of Queer Theory in education, described unambiguously in their own words. “As an art form,” they tell us, “drag is all about bending and breaking the rules, and so its aims are totally different from a normative classroom.” Because, they insist, “In a broader context, fostering collective unruliness also helps children to understand that they can have a hand in changing their environment.” This, they also tell us, allows both drag performers and children to “recognize the arbitrariness of rules,” engage in “queer play,” and “feel [their] fantasies.”

Queer educators damn themselves with their own words, so I'll quote one more to illustrate one more core, often-repeated goal of Queer Theory in education. As explained by Hannah Dyer, a Canadian researcher, in a paper titled “Queer Futurity and Childhood Innocence,” the innocence of childhood and the established understanding of child developmental psychology all needs to be Queered. She writes, “Here, I help to illustrate how some of the affective, libidinal, epistemological, and political insistences on childhood innocence can injure the child’s development and offer a new mode of analytical inquiry that insists upon embracing the child’s queer curiosity and patterns of growth.” What is that about? This paper is specifically about and contains a section heading on “Queering the child’s innocence,” which is perfectly in line with what the “drag pedagogy” people want. Queer Theory in education is therefore so destructive that it aims to rewrite the innocence of childhood as an evil that prevents children from developing “queer curiosity and patterns of growth.”

None of this is remotely appropriate, and the inherently activist position it takes and seeks to instill into our children (through damaging them) is in many respects the least of its problems. It is, at the least, deranged, though it is more properly cultic and evil. It is far past time to give these damaging materials and the people pushing them into our schools the benefit of the doubt. It is long past time to say “no more, not any of it; it all has to go.”

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