Archive for the ‘commentary’ Category

Twisting the Armband: The Politics of Othering

April 12, 2011

Over the last three decades, academic leftists throughout the Anglosphere have attempted to rewrite their cultural past through a prism of shaming, in which Western history up to the mid-20th century is condemned as a lengthy dark age marked by sexism, racism and imperialism. In Australia, the term black armband theory has been used to identify the guilt-ridden cultural revisionism that’s currently espoused by that nation’s liberal elites; a syndrome largely reflected in modern American liberalism.

Outside academia, the chief engineer behind American black armband syndrome has been Hollywood, which has constantly used the cinematic medium to cast all the wonderful outcomes of capitalism and complementarity in a condescending light. Ill-documented chapters in American history have made for a sitting duck in these ideological exploits, for the voiceless past has no defense against a partisan present. Amongst those crowding this revisionary pulpit is feminist filmmaker Maggie Greenwald, who disemboweled the Western in her 1993 flick, The Ballad of Little Jo.

Greenwald’s flick takes biographical liberties over the life of Josephine Monaghan, a decorated 19th century frontiersman of whom a bizarre tidbit was revealed upon his obituary: the dude was a she. This germ of transgenderism sets the innuendo upon which Greenwald spins her black armband revisionism of life in the Old West. Jo has been expelled from her East Coast gentry for having bore a child out of wedlock, and so she travels westbound into the land where dignity is measured in beard length, thus prompting her to masquerade as a man. Flanking Jo at every turn is the behavior malaise that’s typically alleged of bygone, male-centric townships: belligerence, rakishness and vulgarity.

As with most feminist agitators, Greenwald’s insights into the male psyche are grotesquely misinformed. Her vision of man as savage rings all the more disorienting when coupled with the rosy veneers which she initially heaps upon the evil sex. The peddler Jo encounters at the outset of the story seems like a spirited, avuncular gentleman; that is until he announces her sale to the bandits. Likewise, Percy the stable-keeper comes off as a stoic man of modest intent; unlucky in love and perhaps rendered a eunuch. But then comes the gruesome incident between Percy and the goddess who serves as the unlikely whore in this story, and we’re left with nothing but disgust and hatred for the man. This schizophrenia which Greenwald depicts through men like Percy has confused some liberal viewers into praising her as a multi-dimensional character maker. To me it embodies the unsubtle  misandry behind the conception of this film; a jaundiced worldview in which bipolar disorder is endemic of men.

Redemption to the evil sex is served, consequently, by the token non-white character in this flick, Tinman, a Chinese emigrant whom Jo rescues from yet another round of backwoods banditry. The political innuendo of Tinman’s arrival is twofold. Since he’s the only non-female victim in this story, women and minorities are assigned comparative plights within Greenwald’s worldview. And since he’s the only non-female object of desire in this story, masculine sex appeal is now defined at the exclusion of white men within this worldview. It’s the politics of othering.

Implausible story threads and political innuendos aside, The Ballad of Little Jo is a genre film, and as such might adequately suffice with fans of the Western genre. For enlightened viewers of the 21st century, however, this film will appear dated and inflammatory, filmed as it was within the quagmire of third wave feminism during the 1990s. Liberals, meanwhile, will continue casting icons of otherness into their jaundiced rewrites of history. Personally, I’ll stick to true life heroines of the Old West, such as the one enshrined in singer/songwriter Andy Pratt’s 1971 classic, “Avenging Annie”:

Well, they call me Avenging Annie,
I’m avenger of womanhood,
I spend my whole life telling lies,
I’ll lead you on and mess you over good.

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Internal Divide: Torn at the Gulf between Love and Lechery

March 10, 2011

On his Oz Conservative blogspot, Melbourne-based traditionalist educator Mark Richardson has conceptualized that the “culture of relationships is formed from three inputs: marriage, romantic love [romance] and sex” (1) – inputs that have traded authority over the past two centuries. The influence of marriage, with its emphasis on etiquette and courtship, predominated until the late-Victorian era, at which point society yielded to the emotional impulses of romantic love, marked by chivalry and the pedestalization of womankind. Pedestalization stemmed from the 20th century gentleman’s romantic idealization of femininity, which in turn handed the moral guardianship of society over to women, who were thus deemed the ‘fairer sex’. Alas, romantic love succumbed to the torrents of third wave feminism in the 1990s, whereupon a cruder generation of women spurned pedestalization as the construct of an oppressive patriarchy; thus plummeting society into a culture dominated by sex, which has ‘liberated’ women to pursue their baser, hypergamous instincts. Within this new intersexual paradigm, gallant and cultured men have typically been rejected in favor of those who exhibit rawer features of testosterone, such as muscles, thuggish looks and recklessness (1).

Retrospectively, the inversion of women’s standards over the past century can be foretold in one classic tale of dichotomy, written at the dawn of the age of romance: Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In Paramount’s definitive 1931 adaptation, Fredric March enacts the title-sake dual role, in which Dr. Henry Jekyll embodies the cultured, romantic gentleman, and Mr. Hyde caricaturizes the vile, lecherous lowlife. In the body of March, Dr. Jekyll cuts a tall and slim figure of androgynous comeliness; the type of man who would have been much desired by women in the age of romance. Contrastingly, figments of Hyde have surfaced in some modern day celebrities (2), yet this film of old vulgarized his rakishness with such condemnation; it stands as a testament to the moral standards which upheld our culture during the age of romance.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde illustrates the protective nature of society towards women in the pre-hypergamous world. Interventions into female distress scenarios are a common occurrence in this film, most notably when Dr. Jekyll comes to the aid of a young woman named Ivy; lifting her from a sidewalk scurry and up to the safety of her room. Exhibiting loose ends, the inebriated Ivy tries to tempt Dr. Jekyll into staying, but true to his gentlemanly virtues, he declines. Sparing women of their own lesser tendencies is but one measure of chivalry from the doctor; saving women from the claws of his own fate is another. As his transformations spin out of control, Dr. Jekyll swallows the inevitable and breaks his engagement to Muriel, a woman of upstanding pedigree. Dr. Jekyll holds a romanticized view of womankind, and thus strives to protect the women in his life from the forces of evil, including that which overtakes him in the end. (more…)

Objectivism vs. Neutralism: The Crux of Today’s Socio-Political Divide

May 1, 2010

In paraphrasing the libertarian economist and philosopher Thomas Sowell, conservative comedian Evan Sayet has observed that the fundamental difference between conservative and liberal thinking is that conservatives are objective and liberals are neutral (1). I find this to be a fascinating and revelatory way of breaking down the emotional underpinnings of the ideological spectrum. These insights have helped me to clarify many of the philosophical stalemates which I’ve experienced in my personal conflicts of the past.

When one is objective, they are able to establish values of right and wrong based on the level of achievement that a given party reaches from a common set of criteria: this team won with strategy A while the other team lost with strategy B; therefore, strategy A can rightfully be declared the better of the two strategies.

When one is neutral, however, no standard of right and wrong can be defined because doing so makes you guilty of the politically incorrect act of discrimination. Strategy A is therefore prohibited because it made things unfair for those who lacked the ingenuity to employ it. Yet neutralists have been the biggest bullies in the realm of debate, precisely because of their blindness to standards of right and wrong. We as conservative objectivists will declare tactfulness and linear dialogue – with acknowledgement to the tangible truths of a given situation – to be the embodiment of civility. Liberal neutralists will tell us that our definition of civility is simply our ‘opinion’, and that it’s their right to be belligerent, disingenuous and selectively aware (read: dishonest) if they so please; for standards of right and wrong are mere opinions, and everyone’s entitled to their own. According to the neutralists, wrongfulness in the broader sense is only committed by those who actually attempt to establish an objective definition of right and wrong.

This is where liberal logic really falls on dangerous ground, for when no acts of behavior can be deemed as wrong, nothing can be declared a crime. Any act of violence from one group cannot be judged as wrong from anyone outside that group. Leftists might mourn the victims of 9/11, yet they find it wrong to judge the actions of the Taliban in any way, for the Taliban has its own definition of right and wrong. There’s nothing neutral, however, in the Islamofascist wish to decimate the West, as exhibited on 9/11. Neutralism thus becomes a self-defeating premise when its indiscriminateness takes no exception towards those who seek to discriminate against our very right to exist. In noting the Islamofascist wish to establish global sharia law, Lebanese American author and activist Brigitte Gabriel has stated that “political correctness is the disease that is killing the West; it is the apathy by which Muslims are killing us one-by-one… people have to develop a backbone to stand up and identify the enemy” (2).

Indeed, political correctness has dominated the American social discourse under the pretext of liberal neutralism. Radicals seeking to reshape the American way of governance will allude to imperfections within capitalism to argue the comparative merits of socialism: capitalism allows for a competitive meritocracy which ultimately benefits the lucky few, while socialism forcibly redistributes wealth at the expense of private ownership and personal freedom. Conservative objectivists, however, will not base their conclusions on how the two systems look in theory; conservatives will examine the outcomes of their respective implementations throughout the world. Capitalism has generated wealth, prosperity and a higher standard of living for its determined citizens, attracting immigrants by the millions who wish to reap its many opportunities; whereas socialism has inflicted poverty, despair and genocide upon every population its enslaved, spurring mass deflections from its binding tyranny. Therefore capitalism emerges – from the perspective of objective outcomes as opposed to neutral theory – as the system of freedom, liberty and justice for all, and thus the objectively better system of human governance.

In the realm of metropolitan discourse, liberal neutralism has been a convenient tool for preempting contrasting viewpoints and imposing liberal unanimity. In observing the modern liberal, Evan Sayet summarized their mindset in the following passage from his enlightening 2007 lecture before the Heritage Foundation:

If no one ever thought they were right, what would we disagree about? If we didn’t disagree then surely we wouldn’t fight. If we didn’t fight then we wouldn’t go to war. Without war there’d be no poverty; without poverty there’d be no crime; without crime there’d be no injustice. It’s a utopian vision, and all that’s required to usher in this utopia is the rejection of all facts, reason, evidence, logic, truth, morality and decency – all the tools that you and I use in our attempts to be better people – to make the world more right; by siding with right, by recognizing what is right and moving towards it (3).

Rationalism is thus discarded for the sake of neutrality. But where would these comfy liberal neutralists be today if it wasn’t for the objective rationalism of the many generations which preceded them? If our Western allies hadn’t decided that we were right and the Germans were wrong, would we not be living today under a global Nazi regime? If we didn’t deem certain physical transgressions – theft, rape, abduction, assault, torture, terrorism and murder – to be objectively wrong, then what sort of safety, security or stability would we have to function as a civilization? And if we didn’t establish a ‘better’ of two outcomes as the basis for reward, then how would we have developed the competitive sportsmanship in all the fields that have made this great nation thrive as a whole?

No, it’s not as though liberals actually carry their logic of neutralism to such nihilistic extremes. But when one examines the linear conclusion of neutralism, the entire fabric of liberalism comes undone, which ultimately proves conservatism to be the more solvent, rational and objectively right path to follow. Thus, liberals can go on clinging to their hollow, meaningless and much-vaunted mantra of political correctness, for conservatism embodies the logic that ensures the civil cohesion which guarantees both liberals and conservatives this freedom of mind: objective correctness.

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