Discover more from Stoic Observations
Full Humanity for All
Except for white folks.
Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self: in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which robes one's nakedness can always be felt, and, sometimes, discerned. This trust in one's nakedness is all that gives one the power to change one's robes. -- James Baldwin.
One thing that almost nobody in America questions is the validity of humanism. Whether one is left or right, unless one is a strict interpreter of the conservative Edmund Burke, Americans absolutely believe in human rights. Burke tells us that there are no universal human rights, that only civil rights exist and they exist only within the context of their actual legal definition and credible defense by a nation state for its people. I logically follow Burke, so I think anyone who uses the disparaging term ‘dehumanize’ mistrusts him but they’re not all wrong. In fact I say that anyone and everyone who puts forward the argument that America is fundamentally wrong and the Constitution is arbitrary and subject to broad interpretation and immediate amendment is doing so from a humanist perspective contra Burke. Further anyone who looks forward to one world government or some utopia on Earth or Mars is also standing on the grounds of humanism. For them, civil rights are insufficient.
Animal rights activists are humanist. Trans activists are humanist. Feminists are humanist. Anybody with a gripe about how they are treated are seeking an ideal standard by which they should be respected, judged or treated are using humanist terms. The wokest of the Woke declare by fiat that every sort of individual is a full human and to treat them in any way deviant from that ultimate standard is a violation of their fundamental human rights. A man must be treated like a woman like a trans-man and every possible cultural, sexual, gender, racial, economic combination is equally and finally human. What sucks to them is the reality of inequality and the ‘self-evident’ immorality of standing on any platform which doesn’t serve the express train to full humanity for all, once and for all. Let’s call this goal ‘full humanity for all’. Let’s call these particular humanists the hard humanists.
I have but one argument against that, and it is to me, simple, obvious and practical. It is essentially what I consider a thermodynamic argument. It takes energy that we don’t possess to establish and sustain full humanity for all. You could call it an economic argument and perhaps economics is the framework best suited to make such a determination. But for the rhetorical sake of rationality, when I say ‘it costs too much’ I know this will be interpreted as an argument about greed. If I say ‘it takes too long’ this is interpreted as an argument about foot dragging and intransigence. So I want people to understand I mean those terms in thermodynamic ways. We don’t have the energy is not a moral argument. So I will express that as well as I can in this context.
We start with reality. Reality is that everyone is vastly unequal. Reality is that we are unequal for innumerable reasons. Ask 100 people why they are unequal and you’ll get 227 reasons. This is the nature of dissent and of dissonance. If it weren’t for dissent and dissonance, the Woke would all be Christians as they would have found a Christian reason to invoke the logic and power of Critical Race Theory and the One True Triune God would have ordained this in the beginning. If it weren’t for dissent and dissonance we would all think the same, eat the same, work the same, be the same. Our differences are natural and also a consequence of choice.
Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.[here]
Think of Newton’s First Law of Motion in sociopolitical terms. As soon as you say ‘no’ to anything or to anyone, your free will sets your body in motion, or arrests its own motion. Obviously other people will attempt to exert forces on you to change your direction or your speed. That takes energy. Humanists (and hard humanists) want to expend a certain amount of energy to change the direction of their rivals and opponents. They don’t have enough. Why? Because they don’t want to use oppressive amounts of energy. Well, the hard humanists are getting ballsy aren’t they? To that extent they take a loss for the sake of ethics. Good on them. What keeps them liberal in the best sense of the term are constraints on their energy and their direction. They bump instead of shove. They turn instead of twist. They grind instead of chop. But all this bumping and grinding is not getting enough people pregnant with the idea of full humanity for all. It makes most humanists simmer. It makes the hard ones boil over. But this is a tempest in a teacup. Keep in mind the lifestyles and the salons of the nice guys.
But then Burke creeps into the picture as well.
The foundation of Burkean conservatism is the recognition that human beings aren’t half as smart as they like to think they are. One implication of this recognition is that when human beings insist that the tangled realities of politics and history can be reduced to some set of abstract principles simple enough for the human mind to understand, they’re wrong. Another is that when human beings try to set up a system of government based on abstract principles, rather than allowing it to take shape organically out of historical experience, the results will pretty reliably be disastrous.
I cannot imagine that one person in that photo has the first clue as to who Edmund Burke is. Of course they don’t represent the USA, just USA For Africa; but they do a good job of setting an example about how people aren’t half as smart as they like to think they are. I doubt there are any governments in Africa dedicating so much as a mural to these nice humanists. As much as we all miss Robin Williams, Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal’s Comic Relief and its good intentions, we have to admit there is something slightly wacky about Red Nose Day. What could possibly go wrong is the critical question to ask.
So let’s bring it around to the matter of white people, or ‘ypipo’ as the younglings derogatorily tweet. When it can be taken for granted that the gloves are off on rhetorical dehumanization of such people as, oh say a Supreme Court Justice we know it’s dark. When there are racial presumptions about which people should automatically be suspect on the color of their skin and corporate HR departments get involved, we can well imagine that street demonstrations are around the corner. Add global warming and you have incrementally longer, hotter summers, which for those of you who didn’t know was a euphemism in the 60s for race riots.
The fashion these days is to be gobsmacked about the fact that so-called intellectuals get all befuddled by the simple question ‘What is a woman?’ A woman is an adult female human with two X chromosomes. Unless they are a biological oddity, i.e. freak of nature, it is categorically as simple as that. I’m not sure if I’m disgusted by this fashion or what. Honestly. Still I can’t resist asking rhetorically in the face of the concepts above ‘Are white people human?’ Well of course they are, but what if they, like Burke, suggest that there are no inherent human rights if nations and governments don’t defend them? What kind of human denies the existence of human rights? Actually the most likely answer is one who doesn’t practically get theirs defended. And this is where we separate the practical humanists from those who sing pop songs, and those other kinds who demand equity now.
As an aside, it should be noted that it is Marxist to demand equity. Equity as in the capital owned and not loaned. Equality is something that has nothing to do with money, per se, but neutrality in the eyes of the law. I know some folks get bogged down with opportunity and outcomes, but that’s nothing the HR department can guarantee in a free market. Hell, even soldiers in uniform know that every E3 will not have equal outcomes. So keep all that in mind and make the distinction please, between Civil Rights activists and Black Power activists. It was the latter that demanded capital. One day, for the sake of my own clarity, I might engage John Wood Jr. in determining how much of MLKs thought process was Marxist and leveraged by the threat of revolution as everybody demanding equity these days likes to argue. I’m very skeptical that the Reverend Doctor preferred to think of himself as Comrade Reverend Doctor. But let me simply assert it this way, MLK was a spiritually Christian humanist. He was not a racialist or a multiculturalist. His call was for human dignity and civil rights, one to be embraced by the society and the other to be guaranteed by the state. His famous dream speech was not to be interpreted as a policy prescription but as humanist goal. Did that make him Burkean? Stoic? Hmm.
I’ll say nothing more about King, his legacy is whatever it is. But it can be said that we’ve had a number of social leaders in this country who have rendered unto Ceasar and did their work outside of HR departments and government bureaucracies. Some of them were academics, and my mind turns to the likes of counterculturists Timothy Leary and militant radicals like Stokely Carmichael. Today’s counterculturists are somewhere in the crosshairs of multiculturalism and racialism, both of which are insufficiently humanist for my cosmopolitain tastes, but more importantly corrosive of liberal, ethical humanism.
The great and tragic irony is that there are tremendous amounts of energy being expended in this racialist and multiculturalist illiberal demand for equity. But as you can see, its roots are relatively deep and well-understood by the American peasantry. This is the energy of the long, hot summer. It’s not even trying to lift all boats, it’s trying to hijack several yachts and push owners off the plank, yarr! FWIW let me stipulate that the Alphabet People are multiculturalist, especially the queers who advocate for redefinitions of and advanced segregation of the genders of humanity. So the corpos whose livelihoods depend upon the sampled preferences of their mass consumer audiences roll along with racialized and multiculturalized narratives, marketing and general boorish platitudes. Seeing all sorts of Wakanda Forever everywhere leads the naive into mind numbing complacency which adds to the virality of insults like ‘colonizer’. This is our polity?
If that’s not clear enough let your mind simmer on the question of abortion rights, which I admit that I am fearful of putting in quotes. Surely the defense of this particular practical civil right has not come to us by any anything nearly universal. The first thing out of anyone’s mouth these days forces us to consider the difference between all of us and the poor minority women it will kill. The very idea of the humanity of a man to be involved the the crafting of policy for the benefit of women is rejected out of hand. So we have ‘womens rights’ without ‘mens rights’, especially not the rights of ‘cis-white men’. When they came for the cis-white men, were you silent? Only in America. Let us remember the caustic indifference of Ra's Al Ghul.
Left The Building
All of this is elementary thinking that finds interesting thought experiments in my expository duties, but I’ve been scratched by a cat named Peter Zeihan who pays attention to the larger spheres and orbits of hubris. Specifically, he’s focused on the demographic changes afoot that are likely to cost us our lovely American standards of living through the process of deglobalization. (The spell checker doesn’t ever recognize the word). Several years ago one of the economists on my reading list explained that there is no more low hanging fruit for the American middle class. That might turn around if we would bother to simply rebuild what we used to have, you know like a mighty DuPont and Dow Chemical. Hell, even Mattel used to have a license to manufacture military rifles. But as they say, the old man died with the recipe, and Americans net net have lost the knowhow and the willing capital to re-ignite basic industry. We are not demographically screwed with regard to age as compared with China, and I think the Social Security Lockbox is still intact, but we are geopolitically and strategically retarded. Nobody wants to be George HW Bush, and our polity is incapable of finding one, much less leading him to Potomac waters.
The implication then is that there is not likely to be a mature, educated professional class of Americans who are energetic enough to establish a sane and centered defense of humanity for all. In fact, it’s dubious whether or not after some economic disruption that we will be able to establish a deracialized and debabelized humanity for a privileged few. It kind of makes me miss WASPs. I am convinced that whomever is the crowd who is sipping cognac with Hillary Clinton and Jeff Bezos has lost the plot in their monetization of DEI and ESG neither of which make any strategic sense for this thing that is the United States of America. Dark times indeed.
The thing about humanity though, is that it adapts. It has adapted to the bogus rationalizations of race. It has adapted to the horrific conditions of war. It will adapt to whatever comes next be it hell or high water, or some Nazified combination of both and more. Baldwin understood that there is a path out of the corpo’s demographic panopticon, because he was never in it. Unlike those who yell and shout for clashes in the streets, Baldwin actually invested liberally in the prospects for humanity. He allowed us to change the clothes of our plural identities which we now take entirely too seriously. Baldwin was a practical humanist, as was Burke. Baldwin understood the universality of the social implications of Newton even when he himself was practically invisible to a social defense of his individual humanity. Burke understood the impossibility of marshaling the energies of the world onto a single non-dissonant track. Certainly both of them recognized the hideous perversions behind the marshaling of ‘a community’ onto express trains to their destiny.
Do we? Can we prove it? Do we trust in our naked humanity? Can’t we slip into something more comfortable?