Friday, January 2, 2015

CM I: Wasps in a Windstorm

NOTE: I am starting a new series of informal posts, “Casual Musings,” which I will publish occasionally between lengthier pieces, mostly expressing a few of my thoughts on a variety of subjects for the consideration of others. This is part one of that, and all of it is, of course, just some “food for thought.”

Some individuals on the internet are, perhaps, mesmerized by the goings-on of sociopolitical advocacy and activists. Unable to remove or disconnect themselves, countless people engage in the endless ideological warring that takes place, and, even when things seem all but futile or stagnant, they continue to express their views and, in some instances, attempt to dictate to others, both passively and forcefully, what is and is not right, and what should and should not be tolerated or allowed to exist.

But most of the efforts of many individuals are not prudent, thorough, or meaningful. The internet’s nature is such that it creates an atmosphere wherein the majority of dialogues’ contexts are often episodic, rapidly streaming by like images on a reel of film, and events and subjects are mostly acknowledged only in sporadic bursts. For a brief time, an issue is at the forefront, a dire matter of justice and injustice, and then it is relegated to a largely ignored internet timeline without any clear resolution as another issue flashes to the front of the stage.

One’s mind is easily worked into a frenzy and dazed when it is inundated with information over extended periods of time, or frequently and repeatedly. And everyone wants to write and speak to prove their merit to others. People attack, are attacked, desperately wish to overpower their opponents, and their adversaries have the same desires. Usually, when a petty attack is thrust out, people will rush to respond in kind, unthinking and reactive, and fixated solely on the immediate gratification that permeates much of modern culture.

Indeed, in the ever-chaotic online war of words, the competition is not to be the person with the best thing to say at any given moment, but rather, it is to be the individual who can respond the fastest and most aggressively. Whether the response is measured and well-thought-out usually plays second fiddle to whether it is reactive and abrasive enough. Many people now simply do not have the attention spans or patience for most things which take some time (particularly, as a brief aside, when news stories are involved).

Despite the rapid shifting of events and people’s attentions and thinking on the internet, the debate over sex issues has largely churned to a halt and deteriorated. Today, for instance, MRAs and Feminists remain in a constant state of total war. They cannot agree, cannot compromise, must attack as often and as quickly and as cruelly as possible. A want to win is placed before compassion for humanity.

This is not exclusive to them or to the debate over the issues of women and men and all other permutations of gender, and in fact exists in all realms of internet debate to some degree. Nevertheless, it is certainly a problem amongst MRAs and Feminists, and contributes greatly to the current issue of virtually nothing of substantial value being accomplished in terms of larger end goals, and no genuine conclusions being met in a realistic sense to solve any actual world problems. Most of what we see today between internet advocates is hysterically theatrical at best, and ludicrously farcical at worst.

In truth, anyone who cares to present their views online for the purpose of advocating for social or political change in the world should consider the subject matters for a few hours daily. Especially before writing or speaking on any given topic. When subjects or issues have been studied and thought over at length, which to be genuinely comprehensive and objective ought to take many days, weeks, or even a few months or years, the views of each individual on said subjects or issues should then be reconsidered for errors, elaborated, and made precise.

That is, of course, if any activists or advocates online truly wish for the day to come when they shall no longer be forced to concern themselves with the issues that they face and combat today. So that they can then devote their minds to other problems and to new things, and so that people in the real world can be helped, and the human condition, significantly improved.

What would become of the discourse over sex issues today if everyone took a few longer moments to relax and thoughtfully deliberate over the issues that they quarrel over now for greater lengths of time? If they turned away from the paltriness of incessant squabbling, petty assaults, character assassinations, and viewed their opponents only as individual human beings, the represented demographics, all as worthy of fairness by way of being human, and the issues, as things of great importance which only the most well-studied minds and careful, thoughtful hearts should be permitted to attempt to modify.

Social and political changes are dictated by the age. Some ends are inevitable, and others must be meticulously forged and cautiously guided. In that sense, what is best for constructing an edifice of immense importance: quick, cheap, and rushed work, or attentive, calculated, and thorough planning?

In a time where instant gratification has become the anticipated norm, and popularity is relatively easy to come by for anyone who can throw together a few simple words that appeal to the simple inclinations of sporadically attentive thinkers, quick, cheap, and rushed is the go-to, nearly as a matter of principle, for anyone who feels the call to express their perspectives. But it ought not be.

What we require are considerate and careful thinkers who take their time and who do not engage in the petty layman’s bickering; true intellectuals with compassionate hearts, sound minds, and steady hands. Not those who view the world only through a flashing, narrow lens, or who sting at and attack everything in sight like wasps in a windstorm. We have far too many now in these categories.

Another contributor to the stagnation of the internet’s debates over sex issues is the ideological nepotism which plagues MRAs and Feminists alike, along with various other collectives, leading to the manifestation and continuous, deleterious reinforcement and propagation of a number of biases, extreme partiality, the fogging of facts, and blatant perversions of reality.

It is a pity that this tendency toward ideological nepotism and insularity, which many believe is something common to Feminists but not to MRAs, is so prevalent. A fair amount of MRAs, though they view themselves as being above it, in the near isolation of their ingroup, are becoming, each passing year, more reflective of the mentally distorted individuals which they claim to revile, and that cancerous growth is infecting other groups with similar views as well, on nearly all sides.

So long as that sort of nepotism and myopia remains exclusively with extremists, there is little danger of any discourse being derailed or of sensible people becoming the victims, or co-transmitters, of the delusions of those on the fringe. But now, since these mental maladies are becoming commonplace, countless individuals have opened themselves to the influence of demagogues, and much like most religious fanatics, are becoming zealous ideologues themselves. Self-interests before justice. My narrative, which must not be contested, above all else. No compromise or reasonable deliberation. To conquer or die.

When we also consider, and acknowledge, that many of these people have elevated, nearly to the status of prophets, a whole score of lunatics, as is comparably the case with both MRAs and Feminists, we realize why such extremism recurrently manifests. Fear, anger, resentment; an eye for an eye is not just a phrase in revenge and retribution, but also in opposition. And regardless of how people deny their willingness to stoop to the sordid levels of their worst opponents, they certainly will rise to their levels of intellectual degeneracy if they must to protect themselves, their own, and their narratives and ideology.

Any sane individual should be astonished and repulsed by most of this. To think that so many people could be so easily persuaded by the filth and drivel of selfish fanatics. One would hope, as well, that those with reasonable minds could equally see such faults in their allies as they do their adversaries when they are so hardly different from those which they ridicule and attack, but this rarely seems to be the case. We have a severe lack, in a sense, of checking and balancing.

And again, this is another manifestation of ideological nepotism. The us versus them mentality. Our ingroup above, the outrgroups below. Perpetual conflict. Unending escalation and promotion of extremes in increasingly equal measures, for the passively, and perhaps even partially subconsciously, foreseen sake of maintaining solid competitiveness in future standoffs.

It should enrage us all that, while people, women and men, suffer daily from the problems debated in sex issues discourse all across the world, fanatics in all circles, many of which are popular or lead simply because they are so zealous and their offensiveness catches the eyes of the those immersed in today’s belligerent and meandering internet culture, offer insane and undeniably broad bases, devoid of all honest depth, for the easily-persuaded to muddle, confuse, and convolute their issues to the point of near suspended animation, or lack of true progression.

This must end.

The only solution to these problems is that we must do everything humanly possible to protect, for all time, any new people from the dangers of intellectual degeneracy and ideological manipulation, whether the sources be Feminist, MRA, or any other. If we truly wish to solve the issues facing women and men today, we simply must take a stand. Zealots, fanatics, or extremists must not be given too much leverage in any case, and must be reprimanded, regardless of affiliation, for errors in reasoning, distortion of facts, or for otherwise muddling, convoluting, derailing, or infecting, to a major degree, discourse with their lunacy.

Such individuals must be shown, sternly, that their behavior has been wretched. Anyone can have a moment of weakness, can be overwhelmed by emotions, or can stray from the sensible path. It can be the case, and be forgiven, that someone passionate is so immersed that they forget to take into account, or appreciate, all of the truths surrounding some issue, subject, or collection of facts. But when this occurs, they must be held to the fire as quickly as possible, and they cannot be allowed to continuously stray and draw others along with them. This is, by its very nature, detrimental to all dialogues over any issues.

It is only after a person who has strayed, whether they have drawn others with them or not, has redeemed themselves that their slate can be wiped clean. All can be forgiven, and forgiveness should be reinforced as a common virtue, but what is harmful must be corrected.

Ethical purity, at least to the extent that it is possible and can be authentically evenhanded, can only exist as a result of self-discipline and education over long periods of time. Remember that charlatans and liars can offer nothing of value to any discussions beyond what they have in superfluity. And despite all that may come, the side which does the least abandoning of the truth must be the one which stands victorious in the end on every occasion. This is not always the case, naturally, but again, it ought to be.

When an individual enters a debate without having previously enlarged the basis of his or her knowledge, it shows a lack of maturity and forethought. However, if the individual then decides that he or she therefore must give up the idea of engaging at all, they become a bystander, and potentially even an enabler, which is nearly just as bad. People who enter into the fray of any discussion must simply remember their limits, strive to learn, and never push too hard until they are appropriately prepared so as to avoid disrupting conversations, convoluting issues, fogging facts, or worsening the state of things.

This, like all else, requires the assistance of others who are more informed and well-founded in their thinking, but they, too, must remember these same sorts of limitations and standards for themselves as well.

And finally, a few items or ideas to keep in mind when dealing with others in general, and considering the future:.

1) Humanity’s willingness to repeat its mistakes is timeless. Though events and faces may change, the underlying flaws of human beings rarely do. Every century, several new generations are born, and each will repeat many of the same mistakes that those before them did, at least on the rudimentary level. Nothing is a better teacher than direct experience, and for the majority of people, that sort of hands-on learning is necessary. Therefore, look to the past, and also observe current trends, when predicting the course of the future, and adjust, argue, and plan accordingly. Every individual makes a difference.

2) There will always be two sides in any debate; by the very nature of debating, this is true. Normally, there will be two primary sides, those in the middle, individuals on the fringes of each side, and a few active dissenters dispersed throughout. How much influence two sides have in any debate, though this rarely occurs but ought to happen far more, can be modified by those not aligned with either, and, again, should be. The two absolute sides will always weave within their narratives portions of what is true, but along with that will come many convoluted distortions. What exists in actuality will almost always be in the middle somewhere, between the narratives of the two absolutes, with elements on the outside that none of them see. Do not allow the absolutes to rule your life or to control any conversation. They will always get a lot wrong, embellish their issues, and dismiss too much. Seek the truth within, between, and around them.

Things to remember when dealing with extremists or considering their potentials:

3) Keep in mind that an extremist will not concede any losses, even when they are wrong, unless those in authority above them, who afford them greater power, take notice and become critical. In nearly all cases, they will only be harmful to any dialogue. Therefore, they must be rebuked when they go too far, and they must not be allowed any sort of monopoly as the “just” side of any discussions. They can be contributors, but they must never have control.

4) An extremist will push their fanaticism to its very limits. For them, their ends will always justify their means. Their only desire is to dominate, not to cooperate, and thus they are, by their very natures, toxic and harmful to the progression of humanity. They will go as far as they are allowed, but will stop at wherever their authorities and most cherished peers deem acceptable at any given moment. If they are provided an inch, they will push it as close to a mile as they can. Do not dwell on them with the assumption that they are rational, and also refuse to award them even the slightest weakness or misstep to misuse for the sake of their agenda and narratives. Often, when battling an extremist, particularly in public view, you are arguing to convince neutral observers; you are not debating points so much as trying to tell a convincing story, and you must offer something of a positive vision. Meaning, always proceed thoughtfully and carefully, and choose your words wisely.

5) Remember that any extremists, though they may not seem relevant or influential as an individual in the grander scheme of things, might be, and likely are, reflective of larger elements or more powerful actors with similar perspectives which work within the current system; and that, in and of itself, makes even the lesser agents dangerous. An extremist’s greatest wish in most cases is to have the ability to entirely remake culture and society to fit the molds which they prefer, usually starting at the earliest stages, for instance, in schools and with children. They seek to reform the minds of all in classrooms, and even in private homes, through literature, media, art, social networks, and any other systems and places where people, including those with impressionable minds, assemble. Children, who are often depicted as “the future,” will be targeted and cultivated as the instruments with which they will forge their desired outcomes or coveted “revolutionary” paths.

6) If they can have it their way, films, games, and other such media will be made depicting the glory, righteousness, and splendor of their ideological system and its outcomes, and they will exert their greatest effort, in accordance with that mission, to destroy all that opposes their vision in these realms. If they are given enough flexibility and leverage, you will even begin to see such propagandist works in plazas, squares, parks, on the streets, and wherever else they can be placed for public consumption, in the forms of banners, billboards, signs, and other similar types of advertisement. Much of the operations, as well, will be conducted online.

7) In their media, the mediums and vessels of their ideological narratives, not only will they attempt to make their views seem fashionable and “modern,” and all others outdated and even bigoted or violent, but they will make one of their primary goals the eradication of any and all positive liaisons between the sexes and races, and various creeds, in an effort to divide and conquer. Those who join them will be represented as enlightened and “on the right side of history,” and those who are not will be depicted, especially the “downtrodden” groups which they martyr and claim to care for, as misguided, manipulated, or both and more, and their alleged deceivers will be undermined and demonized via cleverly crafted, and frequently reiterated and reinforced, ridicule and shaming.

8) Unlike a great deal of religious fanatics, who in many places, at least in the West, are held at bay by distancing barriers between church and state, extremist social activists are not prohibited by quite as many blockades. Do not become complacent and grow apathetic toward the notion that they hold any real power which could someday bring you harm. If you allow this to happen, and simply do nothing, then you will one day find yourself stunned and terrified when your heads of state, your children and students, your politicians, your social representatives, your civic leaders, your industrialists, your media voices, your celebrities, and even your beloved ministers, if you are religiously inclined, become willing to surrender to their resolutions, and do (typically gradually). In fact, you may already be witnessing this sort of thing slowly emerging where you live right now. If you disregard it, you will eventually awake in a world that is entirely unfamiliar, and they will have infiltrated and become your system, making them nearly unstoppable, and the damages which they’ve inflicted, well-nigh irreversible.

9) Over longer periods of time, if they (extremists) have garnered for themselves enough authority, they will see to it that those with views which they find distasteful, regardless of whether those views are being egregiously misconstrued and misrepresented, be barred, and even automatically forbidden, from holding any positions of influence. And anyone who dares speak out will be tried in their courts, both social, in the media, and literal, in trials, and will be made invisible to the world. Dissenters will have no voices and no means of fighting back, and their suffering will be seen as justified, either based on arbitrary statuses attributed to them, or on past ancestral, or modern associative, wrongs which were out of their control, or that they had no part in.

10) Near the end of this process, extremists will rewrite history, if they are able. They will decry commonly acknowledged accounts of the past as being filled with misleading depictions and perversions of reality, and they will remake history in their desired image. They will portray all great leaders and thinkers who have shaped the world as the ones which best suit their narratives, undermining and villainizing all the rest who were once held in high regard, and they will argue that the qualities which they espouse as the right and greatest are inextricably linked with their perspectives, beliefs, and esteemed predispositions. These things will be considered as prerequisite, in their eyes, for true nobility and purity, and all else will be censured, suppressed, and systematically annihilated. By this point, and if any struggle is ever allowed to reach this stage in any broad sense, the war will nearly be over, and those on the receiving ends of the cruelty will be unable to fight back. Voiceless, faceless, and if the extremists have it their way, ultimately forgotten and vanquished from the face of the Earth.

Make no mistake, extreme individuals are, from time to time, necessary evils in many fights for sociopolitical transformation and positive progression of the human condition, but extreme collectives, or points of view, especially opposing ones, are almost always inherently deleterious, and must not be allotted significant control of any major narratives or agendas. It is the responsibility of everyone who considers themselves “moderates” in any fight to make their voices heard, to stand courageously against fanatics, and to say that they will not be allowed a monopoly on any discussions, in any case.

It always begins gradually, the advancements of extremists and the rise of their influence; creeping like a ball rolling slowly down a small hill. But once that hill steepens, the ball starts to pick up its pace, absorbing and collecting things around it on its journey, and it will grow and grow until it spirals out of control and begins to destroy everything which lies before it. Unless, however, someone steps in its way to stop it before it has become too great a monster to halt.

If we truly wish to solve the issues that we face and fight for, then a policy of friendship and cooperation between each of us is inevitable and necessary. Humanity cannot achieve what would be truly fair and help to improve the human condition otherwise, or in the way that many are going about things today.

But before we can move in any sort of proper direction, those who cannot bring themselves to submit dogmatically to the absolutist mindsets of extremists must take a stand and tell the destroyers and the zealots that enough is enough. We must say to them that we are all worthy human beings, that the truth of our individual values must always come first, and that it is time for us to set our petty differences aside and come together.

Simply tell the fanatics:

Your day is done. I will sit idly by no more.

Take a seat amongst us, listen, care, and strive to cooperate fairly, honestly, and reasonably.

There must be, as extreme as it may sound, an eventual utter rejection of those who would refuse to do so.

Author: Krista [@Femitheist]

P.S. Ideally, people should think for themselves, but if you are the type that follows causes and allows others to lead, never be afraid to challenge them. Good leaders must be good teachers. If they refuse to explain things so that you can understand them, then their motives may be suspect. Are they just posturing? Are they afraid that to even entertain a question would be to implicitly admit some sort of ideological or personal weakness or frailty? Then, in all instances, you must press even harder, for they may be leading you and others in a direction which you do not wish to go. It is better for everyone concerned to avoid a false path early on than to have to retrace your steps doing the careful consideration that you, and your leader, could have and should have done in the first place.
NOTE II: If you liked this post, feel free to share it, and if you have any thoughts on it or the general subjects discussed within, or even merely semi-related topics, please leave them in the comments below. I always enjoy reading the feedback of others whether they liked and agreed with what I had to say or not.

NOTE III: As always, assume that not all MRAs and Feminists are a part of the problems addressed above. This post, as it should make relatively clear, refers primarily to extremists within each collective, and other similar groups.