For Those Holding Other Views, an Invitation to Parrhesia

The other day, Max and I were discussing the idea of a universal basic income.  It was a pretty value-neutral conversation; we were merely exploring the potential impacts of various UBI proposals.  While Max doesn’t identify as a socialist (“I realized there’s a lot of detail involved here and I don’t understand it all,” he said recently, being that kind of analytic person), he’s inclined positively toward the values and ideas I tend to bring up.  So it caught me by surprise when he said at the end of our conversation, “I worry that I’ll say something wrong and incite your sense of justice.”

Oh dear.  That’s certainly not a feeling I want to engender.

So I was inspired to write this post.  As I hammer out this draft, I have just asked Max, who is sitting across the room, if he could give me some constructive criticism on anything I’ve been doing that led him to such concerns.  He thought for a moment and said that it wasn’t anything I had actually done; it was more that my Midwestern niceness had caused some abrasion of his East Coast ways.

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Well, I’m relieved to hear that I haven’t been unintentionally cowing Maxwell into faux fellow travelerhood.  But it makes me wonder if reluctance to say something that might somehow be “wrong” in my various circles of discourse might be more widespread.  Perhaps it even encompasses readers of this blog.  You guys do, after all, repeatedly show yourselves to be a highly civilized bunch, curious and erudite but courteous and respectful.

And this is in the face of my regular references to political ideas that might not seem to be mainstream: most significantly, that amorphous abstraction that I refer to as socialism.  It’s more morphous to me, of course, but I know I haven’t really given details here.  Defining the S-word a subject for another post (it’s in my pile of drafts); for today, it will suffice to leave it vague and let you attach whatever positive or negative sentiment to it that you will.

So given that this isn’t expressly a political blog aimed at like-minded individuals, I feel compelled to address any potential collisions between charged ideas (political or otherwise) and a norm of Midwestern manners.

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Max and I recently had a chance to visit with one of his buddies.  It was at a wedding, and afterward, a group had gathered and ended up discussing politics.  This friend mentioned that he’s a huge fan of Elizabeth Warren, but that given certain details about the context of the Senate vote, he had decided to vote for her opponent.  He went on to explain his reasoning.  And you know what?  That reasoning made sense to me.  I learned something valuable from considering it.  I wouldn’t have acted in accordance with it because I have a different short-to-medium term goal, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that his long-term goal is diametrically opposed to mine.  (And frankly, I learned something about how to further my own goals at the same time.  Altruistic intellectual self-sacrifice is not required, though if one is open to learning, one will from time to time hear something that makes one adjust one’s own views.)

The point is, my understanding of the world is richer for this discussion.  And so it’s troubling to me that this friend felt compelled to preface his remarks in such a way that suggested he thought the entire room (I think everyone else present had voted for Bernie in the primary) was about to jump on him.

I’m not well read in the classics, but Max is.  So I got pretty excited about a set of three conditions that he once relayed to me as necessities for the pursuit of truth through discourse.  (Max informs me this is from Plato, Gorgias 487a-b.)  I haven’t done more than cursory reading on what this meant to the ancient Greeks, so I may be getting some of the historical nuance wrong, but I know that the mere combination of these terms as we understand them in English today are excellent guidelines for this blog.  The three principles are episteme, Knowledge; eunoia, Good Will; and parrhesia, Fearless Speech.

Oh, wait, Max just looked the passage up for me.  I will share.  This is, of course, Socrates speaking:

For I conceive that whoever would sufficiently test a soul as to rectitude of life or the reverse should go to work with three things which are all in your possession—knowledge, goodwill, and frankness.  I meet with many people who are unable to test me, because they are not wise as you are; while others, those wise, are unwilling to tell me the truth, because they do not care for me as you do; and our two visitors here, Gorgias and Polus, though wise and friendly to me, are more lacking in frankness and inclined to bashfulness than they should be. . .

Coming back to the twenty first century, and putting it in my own words: if you’ve some claim to know what you’re talking about (or even if you merely know the limits of your knowledge), and you can trust that your conversation partner is not trying to troll you for kicks, but honestly shares your goal of furthering truth and goodness—then speak freely, so that this truth can be discovered and this goodness can most quickly be advanced.

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It’s worth noting that there are other circumstances where a slightly different approach might be more suitable.  For instance, rhetoric—which is less about pursuit of objective Truth and more about moving people through emotion in pursuit of some subjective goal—is a valuable tool, though it too can go very wrong without eunoia and episteme on the part of those wielding it.  Or take diplomacy: in some ways, this is the opposite of discourse, but it serves a noble purpose in its place.  Also, in general day-to-day living, I am a fan of the Buddhist concept of right speech, which the Pali Canon defines as abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, and from idle chatter; even a glance at these without studying the Pali Canon (which I have not beyond a brief college course back in 2002), suggests that those values are also ripe with eunoia.

But what of parrhesia?  That sticky, troublesome frankness?  Max has informed me that while it can be defined as “free speech,” it also has another sense that is closer to just being an obnoxious troublemaker.  If you just came in and said whatever you wanted without holding—and demonstrating—good will, you could come across as needlessly antagonistic (a particular danger in this medium, without tone and gesture to back up content).  And it does help if you know something about what you’re talking about.  Clearly, parrhesia shines only when paired with the other two values.

Though you know, an alternate translation of Buddhist Right Speech explains the precept as only speaking what is true and beneficial, when the circumstances are right, whether it is welcome or not.  Sounds like parrhesia found its way into the mix after all!  Defined this way, it seems we have good will, knowledge, and—at the right time—fearless speech.

In this forum, when you are interacting with me, I can say that speaking what is true and beneficial is always welcome.  Some might worry, knowing that I have emotional overexcitability, that I’ll be upset if you disagree with me or point out flaws in ideas I present.  But please don’t be: emotional OE determines and fuels my goals, but intellectual and imaginational OE are means I use to pursue them.

As I was preparing this piece, I also I stumbled across a passage from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, which is another thing I haven’t yet read but should.  Well, at least now I’ve read some of Chapter II, On Knowing Others’ Reasons, with which I’ll conclude:

The greatest orator, save one, of antiquity, has left it on record that he always studied his adversary’s case with as great, if not with still greater, intensity than even his own. What Cicero practiced as the means of forensic success, requires to be imitated by all who study any subject in order to arrive at the truth. He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. […] He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of, else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty. Ninety-nine in a hundred of what are called educated men are in this condition, even of those who can argue fluently for their opinions. Their conclusion may be true, but it might be false for anything they know: they have never thrown themselves into the mental position of those who think differently from them, and considered what such persons may have to say; and consequently they do not, in any proper sense of the word, know the doctrine which they themselves profess.

I invite you to keep this in mind while you are perusing this blog.  Paired with eunoia and even a small amount of episteme, I welcome your parrhesia, whatever your stand.

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Images from Pixabay, by lizzylizedibejkoAlexas_Fotos, and mkweb2. Owning to my delight in picking images that suggest an intuitive leap even when the connection may not be immediately explicable, I will explain that the cat in the header image is radiating nervousness, much like those who have something they wish they could say but are afraid to say it.  But that was obvious, right?  Also, cat photos make people click on stuff.

18 thoughts on “For Those Holding Other Views, an Invitation to Parrhesia

  1. Polished and persuasive, an excellent post. Thanks for your efforts composing it.

    It reminded me of the common adage regarding delivering a produce or service: you can have it: cheap | fast | good — pick two. Now, I realize we would want to have all three (and the analogy doesn’t really apply here) but it did remind me of it. Especially in light of talking with, say, a politician…

    You can take part in a discussion: factually | friendly | frankly — pick two. (Ooh, accidental alliteration, awesome!)

    Episteme, eunoia, parrhesia — the discourse Holy Trinity, two of which were new to me. Thanks for the learning and the research that went into it.

    Max sounds like a helluva guy. Say hi for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anony! I’m so glad you found it valuable. And thanks for the mention in your own blog; that’s a real honor. I’ll be over there soon with more ponderings. 🙂 And please excuse my delayed response; this week has been a giant basket of insane in terms of extracurricular demands but I FINALLY HAVE FREE TIME, HOORAY!

      Hmm, now I’m thinking of situations where you’d have only two of the three qualities:

      Eunoia/Episteme – Rhetoric in support of a cause, motivating people with positive feelings while brushing over troublesome details.

      Episteme/Parrhesia – Know-it-all who totally fails to advance his or her cause on Internet discussion forums.

      Parrhesia/Eunoia – Trying to give someone constructive criticism, not realizing that you actually have no idea what’s going on.

      So yeah, I think looking at those three pairs (and I’m sure we could come up with more examples), we see why it really is a Holy Trinity!

      I also passed on your kind words to Max, who really is one of the most wonderful people I know. 😀 He may also see them himself, as he lurks on this blog and reads my posts but doesn’t tell me about it at the time.

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  2. Max on socialism “I realized there’s a lot of detail involved here and I don’t understand it all” is a classic that sums up so much. It deserves to be a meme at least. How long did it take you to feel like you understood socialism? The first time I read Socialist Worker I thought “How the hell am I supposed to get my head around all this?” One version I heard is that it takes six years to become a useful socialist.

    Out of all the theory, ideology and lifestyle that come with socialism, are there aspects of it that you have doubts about or disagree with? I do, and it’s got far more intense recently. My apostasy has reached the point where the inside of my head feels like a hecatomb of sacred cows in the ruins of Stalingrad.

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    1. I was actually just talking to a national DSA leader about this very topic. We were discussing the fact that some people get into studying theory to the point of becoming pedantic; but socialism can’t work if average people can’t wrap their head around some version of it. So we’ve got to be able to put it in terms that everyone can understand. What good is a program that’s supposed to be for all if people get ahead even here by flashing about multiple degrees and making others feel inferior? Working class people know the problems; they just don’t have the letters after their names to confer respectability on their knowledge. (On that note, having a degree or not tells me nothing about a person’s intelligence or talents!)

      Fortunately, putting complex ideas into simple language and making it accessible to non-experts is one of my favorite activities! That’s how I ended up writing and delivering our chapter’s Socialism 101 talk. 🙂 And it was developing that presentation and soliciting feedback on the draft from others in our local who have studied a bit — forcing them to boil it down to 101, non-majors level — that made me feel like I finally got the point, beyond the vague sense that we have to be able to do better than capitalism. (I’ve been a member for 4 years, so I’m glad to hear that I still have 2 years’ time to really master this. 😉 ) Honestly, that’s a significant part of my motivation to develop a 200-level follow-up “course” for our local — that Alternatives to Capitalism in the Real World course that I mention here periodically. (This week was nuts in terms of steering committee demands, which is why I am so belated in replying to you, and am belated also in getting a draft of my proposal out to the group….)

      And as for doubts, of course. One can’t have the type of mind that makes all the flaws in capitalism evident without also seeing the flaws in any proposed alternative. What always feels weird to me is being at DSA conventions and realizing I am, for once in my life, toward the right of the political spectrum represented in the room. It messes with my head! And this has become more acute since our membership exploded after Trump’s election (though we’re a big tent organization and it doesn’t have to be a problem). But to the degree I don’t share the approach that is held by what may be an emerging hegemonic group, that encourages the pessimist in me. (What, schisms on the Left? NEVER!) Fortunately, a lot of those doubts there have more to do with PR and politics than with core substance. As far as economic feasibility, I still have much to learn; but I can say that I see reasons to hope and to persevere, and that’s key. I love this quote from Bernie Sanders from 1974: “Our job is to open their eyes and give them a vision.” There doesn’t have to be anything in the way of more and more people sharing that vision, which is what keeps me going to meetings.

      Lately I DO think that the problem with socialism is too many meetings. We had our own hecatomb this week at one of them.

      What form is your apostasy taking?

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  3. I wonder if socialism could be boiled down to a simple statement:
    altruism must supersede avarice.

    If society can nurture an environment where this premise grows true, holds true despite attempts by the few to dismantle it, then socialism might win out above all other ‘isms.

    The challenge would then be how to design, implement and maintain such an environment. Maybe humanity is not quite ready to adopt altruism over avarice, en mass?

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    1. That’s excellent food for thought. On one hand, after the whole New Soviet Man thing turned into Homo Sovieticus, people on the Left tend to be wary of that sort of way of thinking…. “Human nature can’t change” is a common retort that we have hammered into our heads.

      But it’s like Albert Einstein said, and I quoted on one of my posts (Physics, Politics, and Visionary Intelligence) — our educational system trains us to worship acquisitive success above all. We could certainly change that. We could change cultural norms and definitions of what it means to succeed. And while getting working economic models off the ground is the keystone, that culture that promotes and rewards something closer to altruism than to avarice should surely be a part of it.

      So I wonder…where would we start? How could we reward generosity instead of greed? There could be subtle shifts we could make that would shirt the center of gravity in that direction.

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      1. Grassroots approach you’re advocating — rather than a top-down gov approach. Okay. Rather like humanity’s current plight for gender equality, racial equality, sexual orientation equality. Start the cry and just keep at it until it changes. Now we just need to each find a drum, of any size, and keep beating it.

        Boom — only support corporation who pay equitably.
        Boom — only elect local and state reps who support progressive taxation.
        Boom — keep speaking out against exorbitant economic inequality.
        Boom — implement small local equal-income distribution programs.
        Boom.

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      2. I do think eventually the grassroots will need to get various governments (local, state, eventually national) to set some initiatives in motion, too, but it will indeed be launched and supported by the grassroots. But yes to all those things you described — and other “laboratories of democracy” experiments at the local level! The right wing has used these well; the Left needs to get to work with it. And happily, people are trying to get that vision out there. Once people see what is possible,there’s reason to hope that more of them will come on board.

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  4. The question of human nature has got me thinking about the psychology of socialism. What traits make the difference between people who seem to have been waiting for socialism all their lives and finally found there was a word for what they believe, those who can be convinced through reason and discussion, those who only change with the experience of struggle, and those who may never change? I also think if you reward altruism, then almost by definition, it stops being altruism. It may just need to not be punished, so it can become its own reward.

    What are you recommending to the steering committee?

    My apostasy is complicated so I’ll leave that until tomorrow, for it is warm and I am sleepy. 🙂

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    1. I actually have a draft in progress right now (was working on it this morning but reached the point where I needed to step away and ponder more) about the psychology of socialism as tied to the psychology of giftedness. 🙂

      As for rewarding altruism, yes…that was why at least in the post above, I said rewarding generosity, not altruism. But yes to not punishing altruism as well.

      And for the steering committee…right now we’re just trying to manage the growing pains of our chapter. And we’re proud of being a “big tent organization,” but when so many people come in all at once with quite a lot of different ideas, it can end up making an organization hard to steer.

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  5. I’ve never tried to explain my reservations in one go before, so this may be somewhat disjointed. Some of it is more fundamental questions, some just not liking how socialism is going at the moment.

    I had always learned that capitalism was the main driving force and all other oppressions served it, but I spent years trying to understand identity politics, even though that style of argument drives me to distraction. What it did finally convince me of, along with reading books like The Wages of Whiteness, is how different and how bad the position of different groups can be. But beyond that was how dedicated people can be to bigotry and how persistent it is. For example hippies took vast quantities of LSD, which is supposed to totally alter your concept of reality, yet still remained hugely sexist. I am no longer allergic to words like ‘patriarchy’ and ‘white supremacy’.

    I have seen so many cases where people will act against their own class interests to maintain their own group’s supremacy and feel better about themselves. For a lot of people this seems to be their primary loyalty. I’m starting to see capitalism as a ‘box of evil’ and any evil that can fit in the box without tearing it, goes in the box. The theory of Wetiko is looking better all the time. How are we supposed to improve the world when people are willing to do such incredible harm just to feel good about themselves? And even if we pulled off a fast revolutionary change, how do we stop these prejudices from coming back a few years later, once the high has worn off and people start looking for another way to raise their self esteem?

    Then there is the attitude towards work. There are two exremes of whether work will be life’s great satisfaction or be automated away as much as possible. The books Workers Against Work and Revolution and Counterrevolution: Class Struggle in a Moscow Metal Factory describe a proletarian identity crisis where workers didn’t know what to do with their power. Some rejected being workers and immediately tried to become managers and government functionaries, but most retained their pre-revolutionary attitude – sulking in the factories, being unproductive and striking over the slightest thing. The second book actually presents this as the working class retaining its power in the face of a rising bureaucracy, but it seems they had no real understanding of what seizing the means of production actually meant. I’m putting a lot of hope in the Vanguard Method to deal with this next time.

    Up to the present day the working class seems remarkably unenthusiastic about fulfilling its historic role. 🙂 In light of this a lot of anarchists go downmarket, the more precarious, the more lumpen the proletariat, the better. I’m going the other way. I want bourgois specialists. If someone has been an artillery officer and a chemical engineer, we’ll never run out of things for them to do. They’re never sleeping again. 🙂 And when discussing socialism, I’ve got some of the best responses from well educated, wealthy professionals. All who want in are welcome.

    What is the deal with socialists allying with Islamists? I don’t know how bad it is in America, but here it’s happened with the Stop the War Coalition, Respect Party, Unite Against Fascism and CAGE. Nobody knew what was going on as our constituency are Muslims who are sick of the Imam telling them what to do. In the 70s and 90s the Anti-Nazi League ran rings round the National Front and the British National Party, but in the 2000s UAF barely fought the English Defence League to a standstill. I suspect the involvement of Islamists was a big part of that. I had been thinking about this for a long time but it was watching Sara Haider videos that showed me just how far the left has gone astray.

    What the hell is socialist environmental policy, beyond ‘capitalism is killing the planet’? There are primitivists and deep greens who want humanity extinct, environmentalists hairshirting to atone for humanity’s sins, high tech and low tech solutions, some say renewables are an easy fix, others that they will finish the climate off faster. This ties in with the question of automation – can we provide the amount of power and resources it would require, do we want to become that dependent on computers and that seperated from the means of production and the natural world?

    There is one more thing, where I have been spending my time as an activist, and will probably cement my pariah status. I am gender-critical and an opponent of transgender politics. Obviously I oppose discrimination against trans people in jobs and housing, and any violence against them, but I believe the trans ideology is completely wrong and I can’t believe almost the entire left has gone along with it. The whole case against transgender is fiendishly complicated so I will point to 4th Wave Now which explains the position, and where I frequently contribute. I’ve been asked to write a Marxist analysis of transgender for them, but you may also be particularly interested in the comments of the ‘Adrift on the River Trans’ post and what happened when I brought up the subject of gifted children and transgender.

    And since we’re bringing up things we were hesitant to say…the three posts at the top of your website load last and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve tried to click on the latest post and ended up on ‘Wonkish vs Visionary Intelligence’ because it appeared under the arrow at the last second. I hope this last one isn’t #webdesigncriticism #unforgivableinsult #swords@dawn. 🙂

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    1. Oh wow. Lots to ponder there and I’m running out of computer time. For now I’ll just say, yikes, I knew those three pinned posts loaded last, but I didn’t realize it was causing such problems. On the contrary: thank you for letting me know! I’m not sure what to do about it (I use WordPress premade layouts…used to do my own CSS, but wanted to spend more time on content), but there might be something I can try!

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    2. Lots to say so let’s jump right in:

      On identity politics, I agree with you here. This is a messy area and can become a distraction, but the bottom line is that different groups experience that box of evils that is capitalism differently. And even if we were to achieve a socialist utopia from an economic standpoint, these prejudices would not go away. Sadly, there are some humans who will only ever feel good about themselves if they can compare themselves favorably to other groups. They will always need a lower class than themselves. Peer pressure and a higher social standard may be the only thing that can keep such people in line. My hope is that we can separate people who naturally desire superiority no matter what from those who are struggling and are using it as a crutch, and if you eliminate the other conditions that make them need the crutch (inability to provide for their needs and fulfill higher level desires), then they won’t be swayed to hate. That’s merely a hope. I don’t know if that’s what will happen. I worry about it; and I still see room for hope.

      On the two extremes views on work, I don’t see those as mutually exclusive. I would expect we’d automate as much as possible the work no one wants to do, and leave the fulfilling stuff for people to do. (One undesirable counterexample I’ve heard proposed: apparently they say that algorithms will soon be able to write novels, or whatever form near-future people prefer their entertainment to come in. I am sure there’d be an audience for an algorithmically produced thriller or drama, but I would not be in that audience. Maybe it’s just my neurodiverse friends who have impossible standards; I don’t know. But I don’t care about a story that doesn’t have a human mind behind it. If the algorithm can get at fundamental human truths and the experiences that give rise to them, well, maybe I’ll reconsider. But from my early 21st century perspective, it seems impossible by definition. I say this with the understanding that the gurus say we simply can’t fathom the great mechanical brains we’re developing.)

      But back to the idea of work. I’ll have to read this Vanguard Method book you keep mentioning, too (though I haven’t bought it yet!)

      I don’t disagree about bourgeois specialists, for the most part. Though I do think we should let them sleep. 😉 But I’ve gone on about the 40 hour week before so I won’t repeat that here. Suffice it to say: yes to big tent socialism.

      Though not everyone is likely to fit under the tent. I don’t know anything about allegiances between socialists and Islamists, but it seems humans have a certain Manichean impulse. The Iraq War was stupid and evil? Okay then, let’s be apologists for ISIL! Shades of grey don’t get you glorious martyrdom (either from the stereotypical Islamist youth or a certain subset of people identifying as socialists)…though as I write this, I’m realizing that shades of grey are precisely what often make real martyrs, usually at the hands of the Manicheans in any movement.

      On discussion of transgender questions, I think this is a particularly great example of a place where episteme, eunoia, and parrhesia are important, and it’s true that parrhesia is not being welcomed. It sounds from looking at that site you linked that these people are indeed speaking from a place of eunoia, and trying to further episteme, so I’d stand up for their parrhesia as well. Eunoia often manifests as compassion, and I don’t see a lack of that among such people because they have concerns about teens transitioning between genders. Among some groups, of course, eunoia toward trans people is distinctly lacking (this generally comes across more as an authoritarian or even hateful impulse, as opposed to genuine concern for the young person) and I do condemn those people, as it sounds like you do as well. But speaking frankly about what you perceive to be true is something quite different from having an authoritarian impulse and trying to make people conform to your view. I just looked up gender-critical and if I understand it correctly, it sounds close to what I believe: gender is not simply a state of mind, but linked in significant ways to a material experience. And at the same time, I think two-spirit and third-gender experiences are very real, judging from the stories I’ve heard from and about such people. Lacking otherwise in episteme, I can only assume that someone who wants to put his or her body through a difficult transition must be going through something that makes the transition worth the trouble. At the same time, I understand why a parent of a teenager would have significant concerns, particularly if that child’s desire to transition was very sudden, out of the blue, and lots of other kids were doing it. I’d be interested in reading your Marxist analysis.

      So putting transgender issues aside, I will say that when I read that it’s well documented that gifted people have less use for gender roles, that may have been one of the times in reading about the gifted experience that I got a little choked up. I’ve never had any sense of not being female or anything like that, but limiting people based on gender is lame, and puberty is traumatic even if you don’t think your body is going in the wrong direction. Given the option at age 11, I would have loved to take puberty blockers without ever intending to transition to the opposite sex, as everything that happened to both boys and girls seemed awful, but more awful for girls. And then there was the way they told me I had to start behaving so I wouldn’t violate gender norms, and so boys would like me. Who cares what boys think! UGH.

      I found a neat article on overexcitability and androgyny. I’m going to tie it in to one of my many drafts.

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      1. Now I really want to read a novel written by a computer. 🙂 It may miss things a human mind wouldn’t, but it may also write things no human mind would ever think of. When computers started playing chess it significantly altered the game as the computer has no sense of a move or strategy being ‘elegant’ or ‘old fashioned’ or any other subjective concept. It just plays to win. The new generation of grand masters who practiced mainly against PC opponents adopted this same ruthless efficiency. There was an open chess tournament for computers (including supercomputers), humans (including grandmasters and teams) or any combination. The winners were two humans who were good but not great players, helped by three ordinary PCs that had been programmed in an unusual way. So a novelist writing with computer assistance is an intriguing possibility.

        The idea of separating supremacists reminds me of a dream I had after reading Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution. It was like watching a film that started in a mansion with the Southern aristocracy at a ball in all their finery. The ‘camera’ then moved outside to show a fence all round the building and the gate was being guarded by black Union soldiers. They had a cannon pointing inwards. I understood that the Southern whites had traded all claims to social and political power in return for petticoats and grand pianos. They could have their white supremacy cosplay and pretend they still mattered, but there was no doubt who was really in charge. Martin Luther King had his dream, and I have mine. 😉

        “Everything that happened to both boys and girls seemed awful, but more awful for girls” – I think this is the most concise summary of the feminist case I’ve ever heard! For me the experience of puberty was the other way round – I had an early puberty and grew big, and when I realised I could hurt stupid and unpleasant people was the first time I was happy being a man. Then there were a few years of frequent fights and minor involvement in organised crime. I was coming to the attention of certain people and would likely have become a gangster if socialism hadn’t made me a better offer.

        Something I’ve been thinking about lately is what socialist victory music would sound like. When you imagine the triumph of socialism, what music is playing?

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  6. After careful consideration (and several lazy afternoons spent lying on the settee watching music videos on YouTube) I decided Jeff Beck Where Were You best represents the triumph of socialism. The name isn’t an accusation but more like veterans of the same battle reminiscing. The music conveys the monent when you realise you’ve won, but also what the victory has cost.

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    1. My replies are later than usual — apologies for that! Life has been too packed lately. (Such a great time for the Hoagies’ topic on downtime or burnout, which I wrote ahead of time and which posted automatically on the scheduled day.)

      You have a point that a novel written by a computer would be worth reading to see what happens! Though I also figure that computers are not “enjoying” playing chess even if they’re better at it, so what’s the point there? Which isn’t to say computers shouldn’t go ahead and play chess if they see a point that I do not.

      Beck’s Where Were You sounds spot on, now that I listen to it. I am having trouble coming up with some music, with so much interference from the schema of labor songs that we’re singing already at DSA meetings, which nevertheless aren’t exactly the right answer…what will probably happen is that I’ll have this in the back of my mind and eventually think of something.

      Oh, and I’m glad you became a socialist and not a gangster. 🙂 Given that puberty is often a period when people experience disintegration (often unilevel but potentially multilevel), that sounds like it might be an extreme example of the kind of evolution that I’m about to post about (today or tomorrow) for DSA members to ponder TPD and see if it’s of any value to them….

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