Tuesday, August 28, 2018
You CAN write at length and yet still tell only half the story
Under the heading "It’s OK To Be Right, But Careful What You Wish For Lauren Southern" there is an article in the far-left "New Matilda" by Dr Petra Bueskens, a Melbourne feminist, who offers several criticisms of Lauren Southern. Her article is very long-winded, like most offerings in New Matilda, but I will try to pick out a few salient passages to reproduce below.
She has obviously been collecting for a long time examples of female assertiveness going well back into history and she spends a lot of time giving us those examples. She uses those examples to claim that feminism is not a new thing and that it has always been influential in the development of Western civilization.
But there are two problems with that. The examples she gives are NOT representative examples of thinking in those times so any influence they had is purely conjectural. The second problem is that she assumes that her feminine protesters in the past were similar to feminists today. I would argue that they are a totally different ilk.
Female protest througout history was protesting about formal rules and customs that limited the opportunities for women to show all their talents. They protested discrimination against women. Modern-day feminists are not like that. They achieved equal opportunities long ago. Testimony to that is the fact that there are now more female graduates than male coming out of our universities.
So modern day feminsts, having overcome discrimination, now discriminate against men. They want equal numbers of males and females in all walks of life and are not at all slow to discriminate against men to achieve that. If there is, for instance, a vacancy on a company board, feminists clamour for a female to be appointed, even if there is a male available who is better qualified for the post. It is now males who are denied opportunities to show all their talents. Females are a privileged caste.
So modern-day feminists are hateful bigots. And that is what Lauren protests about. Dr Bueskens says Lauren cuts her nose off to spite her face when she criticizes feminists. She does not. She simply dissasociates herself from a gang of angry Harpies. Females do perfectly well without the "assistance" of female haters.
And the follies go on. Dr Bueskens says that the emergence of successful colonial societies such as Canada and Australia proves that multiculturalism is a good thing. It does not. It proves that SOME immigrants can form an integrated society. But that was never in question. What disturbs many conservatives is that all immigrants are not equal and that some immigrants -- mainly Africans and Muslims -- just create problems for society while contributing little that is positive. A big majority in the two groups mentioned are welfare dependent so do not even contribute their labour.
All men are NOT born equal nor are all immigrants . And all societies that I know of have criteria for who can be admitted and who cannot. So Lauren is not going far in arguing that "indigestible" groups should be excluded where possible.
Dr Bueskens sees Lauren only though the lens of her conventional Leftist prejudices, blindnesses, and contestable assumptions and therefore misses the real person. I could go on to challenge more of her assertions but I am in no doubt that I will never be able to clean out the Augean stables. But I think I have shown that, despite her lengthy article, she leaves out a lot of the relevant arguments and considerations.
Southern arrived in Australia wearing an ‘It’s okay to be white’ t-shirt, designed purely to stir controversy and point out what she identifies as an asymmetrical discourse on race. Her core message on this tour is that “multiculturalism doesn’t work”, with little attention to the fact that colonial settler societies like Australia (like her home country of Canada) were built on immigration.
One of the key platforms of Southern’s videos is that the discourse of “political correctness” has become an orthodoxy shutting down free speech, and that the left should respond with ideas and debate rather than with protest, aggression, public take-downs and no-platforming. On this we can agree!
It is something the globally famous intellectual Jordan Peterson has forcefully put on the map in the last two years. However, I invoke Peterson not because of his position on free speech or because, like Southern, he is a “darling of the alt-right”, rather it is to point out something he often says about people at the very beginning of adulthood: you know nothing! While I am not in full agreement with him on this (I have a daughter Southern’s age), it is clear, for all her defensive protestations, she knows nothing about the history of “western civilization” and nor, for that matter, do Peterson or Molyneux if they cannot see feminism as an integral part of it.
From Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the City of Ladies to the Querelle de Femme, from Mary Astell’s A Serious Proposal to the Ladies to Mary Wollstoncraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, from the bluestockings to the fight for the Married Women’s Property Acts, from the Seneca Falls Convention to J.S. Mill and Harriet Taylor’s The Subjection of Women, from the suffrage movement and the New Woman to Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex; from Betty Friedan’s ‘problem with no name’ to Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch we have the clear articulation of a feminist voice invested in reason and rights that is the very epitome of free speech marshalled against the prevailing orthodoxy.
In Southern’s infinite wisdom – though here she is following the ignorance that characterises the alt-right’s approach to feminism – she assumes that feminism had nothing to do with the creation of “the west”, by which she is mostly referring to the transformations in society and culture associated with the European Enlightenment. In fact feminism was an integral and defining voice! You weren’t anybody unless you were invited to Madame de Staël’s salon and all the well-known philosophes, with the notable exception of Rousseau, were “feminists” (though this of course was not a term in use at the time).
The other assumption – again commonplace on the right – is that feminism is anti-rationality and illiberal. This is patently absurd since it was the desire to have “Woman right” (as it was then called) and the vote enshrined in law that was central to early modern feminist campaigns, as was the desire to own property, including property in the person, and enjoy equal civil rights.
It is interesting to me that Canada is producing so many of these social media stars: people who were once on the left or saw themselves as liberals and have now undergone a YouTube conversion and seen the alt-right light – Jordan Peterson, Janice Fiamengo, Lindsay Shepherd and Karen Straughan, as well as more established stars such as Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux. In the US there is Sam, Harris, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro and, more recently, Candace Owens. The so-called “intellectual dark web” of left-to-right converts (as well as left-to-critical left converts) is growing apace.
In any event, the twist in this narrative is that with the institutionalisation of progressive agendas, the new right emerge as the “radicals”, the one’s “shaking the joint up”. Conversely, those shutting down free speech, the supposed progressives, become the face of the establishment, the arbiters of what is and what is not allowed to be said. Hence the concerns – that I too share – about the left’s more recent propensity to shut down free speech on contentious issues.