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Shaking the Tree

Written By: - Date published: 11:35 am, December 11th, 2017 - 69 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, culture, feminism, gender, International, Media, patriarchy, Politics, Social issues, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags: , ,

Rebecca Solnit has a piece in the Guardian on how #MeToo is being hi-jacked for political ends by “people who don’t understand it and by people who oppose it. [and] against people who are feminists and allies”.

Was this not predictable?

Wasn’t the fact that liberal media outlets were pushing a crusade against individuals – plastering pages with moral outrage beside lists of the latest, greatest person to fuck up or be fucked up giving anyone pause for thought?

The tree was shaken. Bad apples fell out. Then some other apples fell out. And truth be told, keep shaking that tree, and pretty damned soon there’ll be no apples left.

In response, Rebecca Solnit suggests that people who’ve been thinking about gender politics and women’s rights should be in charge of this moment – suggesting that if only “the right people” are afforded some form of elevation, then we can happily proceed with the task of identifying the bad apples and separating them out from the good. Her piece ends with the following passage – 

Moving forward, we need to figure out who decides not just these individual cases but how we move past this era of impunity—and who “we” is going to be, because justice for women sure doesn’t include Project Veritas and Mike Cernovich.

So maybe the idea is to apply “approved hierarchies of wrongness” to sexual behaviour. Above the line, and you’re gone. Below the line, and you’re okay. But the line drawn between sexual behaviour and sexual abuse will not be at the same height or level of the line applied to other behaviours and abuses – if a line for other abuses is even drawn at all. Kate Jessica Raphael touches on that last point (more below). But before getting there, allowing or encouraging some agreed authoritative (suspect : “authoritarian”)  “inquisition on sexual behaviour” (if such a thing was even possible) is just going to go barreling down the same track and on the same bandwagon as every other moral crusade. We know how that ends. When large numbers of people get swept up in a fervour, it never ends well. One not inconsequential reason it never ends well is, that so focused is that bandwagon on barreling people over; so intent is it on its purpose, that it barrels right on past some screamingly obvious stuff sitting just off to the side.

Kate Jessica Raphael wrote – (facebook)

We have elevated sexual harassment to the level of the worst thing you can do and it isn’t. It is bad but all these things [previously listed in her post] are bad. So we say, “Oh, we must respect women, therefore Al Franken cannot be in Congress” but someone who voted to take welfare away from millions of women can be. Someone who voted to kill a million Iraqis can be. Someone who voted to prevent women from accessing health care can be. Orrin Hatch has a law named after him that prevents women from getting abortions, and he is fourth in line to the presidency and no one is demanding he resign. This campaign worked because it’s “sex” and sex gets people to pay attention.

She’s not wrong. But she’s still missing or avoiding the crucial element, which was pointed out by NZ Femme – (the standard)

the whole tree is infected from the roots up, and needs to be pulled up, surrounding soil dug out, and a new orchard planted

And that’s our problem right there. Very few people are up for that. Most people would far rather delude themselves that there’s no need to be ripping out the political, economic and social structures and systems that generate the attitudes and behaviours people are being condemned for. Most people want to satisfy themselves with the story of a few bad apples. Certainly, our liberal institutions want things to go no further than a few bad apples, and anyway… that’s all it is, or ever can be given the intrinsic goodness of our liberal institutions, right?

So the crusade will carry on until the crusade is ended. And it will be ended if and when it ever morphs into a serious challenge to existing institutional arrangements. At that point it drops off media pages and becomes vilified by them as a project of excess if need be. That’s how this shit goes. Nothing of substance or note is ever meant to change. And nothing of substance or note will change.

Unless…

 

69 comments on “Shaking the Tree”

  1. Pat 1

    “the whole tree is infected from the roots up, and needs to be pulled up, surrounding soil dug out, and a new orchard planted”

    that may well be true, however as that tree is where we live then alternative accommodation is required while the new tree grows, or in other words a transition policy…..if a convincing,realistic plan was developed then support may well follow.

    of course a rotten tree will eventually fall in any case….and our home with it.

    • Bill 1.1

      “Transition” is only ever always an excuse for inaction – in my book. You want a plan, or a route or a path to follow: a wise one, a guru or a blueprint?

      Sure.

      Let’s sit around for another 1000 years and argue, fight and kill over which plan, route, path, blueprint, guru or wise one is best to follow. That’s 1000 years all tangled up with this tree doing exactly as we do right now.

      Alternatively, there’re the axes. There’re the shovels. This is the tree.

      • Pat 1.1.1

        and therein lies the problem….you bemoan a lack of change (inaction) and yet offer no path for the support action requires….i fear you are to be always disappointed.

        As an aside the same can be said of most structural societal problems, be it the economic model or climate change, whatever….there is little to be gained by stridently pointing out fault if no alternative is capable of being proposed…indeed it is likely to have the opposite effect to that desired.

        Leadership….as much as it is criticised it is necessary.

        • Siobhan 1.1.1.1

          ‘Leadership….as much as it is criticised it is necessary.’
          You may well have a point there…hashtags are not Leadership.
          Hence the quick rise and quicker disappearance of issues hijacked by #’s…

        • Bill 1.1.1.2

          Seriously Pat? You’d have me believe that having been presented with a plate of toxic mushrooms, you’d eat the damned things because no-one was offering you an alternative on a plate?

          More than that, am I to understand, that in the absence of some alternative being presented on a plate, that you’d entreat one and all to just shut the fuck up and share in your culinary delight?

          That all ends predictably enough. And the problem isn’t so much the mushrooms (they could easily enough be left sitting) but the mind set you’re putting on display.

          You mention leadership. Absolutely. Who criticised it?

          There’s the axes. There’s the shovels. This is the tree.

          You want some-one to put the axe in your hand and stand above and behind you working your arms for you?

          • Pat 1.1.1.2.1

            Tear it all down by all means Bill….but don’t be surprised when what replaces it is worse
            Theres only one thing more dangerous than a man with a plan, and thats a fool without one.

            • Bill 1.1.1.2.1.1

              I’m taking it then, that you’re satisfied with this notion of taking out identified sexual abusers occupying positions of power or influence one, by one, by one; of not looking to other non-sexual abuses, and of never questioning the nature of the political, cultural, economic and social structures, traditions, laws and institutions that produce, encourage and/or excuse such behaviours in people – ie, that you steadfastly refuse to pick up an axe or pick up a shovel.

              Am I wrong in that assessment?

              • McFlock

                of not looking to other non-sexual abuses, and of never questioning the nature of the political, cultural, economic and social structures, traditions, laws and institutions that produce, encourage and/or excuse such behaviours in people

                Those statements are the antithesis of incrementalism. Approach each one as you can. Improve things.

                Because since Marx people have been wanting to rip out the tree, and pretty much every time they’ve actually tried, things have gone awry. But the incrementalists in northern Europe, for example, have managed to keep capitalism somewhat benign.

                • adam

                  Yeah, who cares at whose expense they been able to do that ah McFlock.

                  • McFlock

                    The thing about metaphors like “shaking the tree” is that when society shakes, it usually spills lots of blood.

                    • adam

                      And Europe did not extract lots of blood to keep itself in capitalism – So all that happened in Africa, South America and Asia – the wars , the genocides, the mass killing, and all the rest was not built on blood of the people living there. Mmmm let me know when you realise that the west is built on a lie, of racism and violence.

                    • McFlock

                      And “shaking the tree” in Europe will make things better in Africa?

                      Nope. Didn’t happen in 1917, what makes you think it’ll happen now?

                    • adam

                      Nope shake the tree, the whole tree and nothing but the tree.

                      Internationalist me, not a single statist like you – by the sounds of things

                    • McFlock

                      Maybe having your head that far up your arse is causing you to hear echoes.

                      I’m an incrementalist. Revolutions and tree-uprootings cause more harm than good, and never achieve the aims they originally stood for.

                      Oh, except yours. Your revolution will produce world peace and an eternal utopian ideal, unlike all the others who went before you /sarc

                    • adam

                      So the last 50 years of poor wages and debt peonage. Gets a tui add in your honour.

                      The continued violence against women, in the face of over 100 years of incremental women’s rights. Gets another tui add in you honour.

                      If you had even a modicum of a humanity left, you’d get that women are actually over living in fear of men and their anger – each and every minute, of each and every day. They are sick of having that make decisions for them. They don’t have the freedom you have as a white male, and incrementalism just looks like another excuses to keep them oppressed.

                      Personally I want women to have the same freedoms as me. But that’s asking too much, and being a revolutionary.

                      You seriously made me think less of you McFlock, and that was quite hard to do. Considering where you stand in my opinion to begin with.

                    • McFlock

                      50 years? That’s the timeframe you’re thinking in? You want global humanity to achieve utopia in the space of decades? You could call it a Great Leap Forward.

                      I don’t like the bad things in the world probably just as much as you don’t like them. But I listen to history, not the echoes in my own arsehole. Every dramatic change in society in the timeframe you speak of has not just resulted in massive upheaval and damage, but many of them have ended up back where they started. Even technological revolutions have created damage faster than they have been able to rectify it. The industrial revolution fucked our air and water and land. The information revolution is constantly heading us towards the surveillance state and swerving away a little later each time. You show me anything that is commonly called a “revolution”, nine times out of ten it’s on the back of a fucking calamity.

                      But your gas tells you your revolution is different, and anyone who disagrees doesn’t really care. Anyone who wants to oppose your revolution must really want to keep women oppressed, or [insert topic of discussion]. Anyone who wants specific steps, rather than handwavy comments about “uprooting” things is an enemy of every noble impulse. Good for you, you’ll need to hold onto that. Revolutionaries have to think their opponents are bad, because it’s the first step required to make good people line others up against a wall.

                      BTW, you’ve always struck me as being a bit of a “if not with me you’re against humanity” zealot. Your comments here are consistent with that.

                    • adam

                      Still avoiding the issue ah McFlock, here try reading this.

                      Open Mike 12/12/2017

                      But why bother ah, when you can make a straw man out of me and my ideals, to avoid the issue.

                    • McFlock

                      How will you solve it, then?

                    • adam

                      Have women decide.

                    • McFlock

                      Nice slogan. Decide what? And deciding implies power to follow through on the decision: is this power currently held, and if not how would you see it actually being obtained?

                    • adam

                      No wonder feminist don’t want to write much on the standard.

                      Sorry McFlock but I’m over your style of arguing let me know when you have dropped the condescending, I know best, I have to be right approach and we will talk. Till then – truck on.

                    • McFlock

                      Asking for specifics rather than slogans is a dirty trick, apparently.

                    • adam

                      Asking for equality makes you a revolutionary.

                    • McFlock

                      [edit]yeah, fair call bill.
                      I just can’t see the point to demanding dramatic and sudden change without offering a practical way of bringing it about.

                      [Not another day of you pair throwing personal insults at one another please? Cheers] – Bill

                • Bill

                  Wow. So now you’re being an apologist for those institutions that contain and/or sit behind or below cultures of abuse? Okay. That’s interesting.

                  And what leads you to assert that the abuses we’ve been reading about don’t happen in N. Europe?

                  • McFlock

                    Nothing.

                    But what I can assert is that the abusive PUA community seems to have greater difficulty in Denmark than the US. Sweden seems to aggressively prosecute sexual assault cases, too.

                    • Bill

                      The point (yet again) is about questioning why sexual assault is even a thing. Where’s that shit coming from?

                      Unless you’re going to assert that such behaviour is “in the genes”, then it can only be originating from our environment.

                      If that’s the case, then we should be looking at our social, cultural, political etc environment and dismantling or challenging those arrangements or deeper systemic factors that give rise to, or excuse, condone or whatever, fucked up abusive behaviours.

                      Shaking the tree (as is being done) can only ever be a very small initial step that barely scratches the surface. That reveals who. But it sheds no light whatsoever on why.

                      So unless we want people to be enduring this shit 1000 years from now, we have to do a tad more than point a disapproving finger and turn a key to a jail cell.

                    • McFlock

                      AFAIK, most behavioural research tends to indicate that antisocial behaviour is a mixture of the two, and that it’s perfectly reasonable expectation for people growing up in situations broadly similar to even the current political, cultural, economic and social structures, traditions, laws and institutions to not become a rapist or other type of abuser.

                    • ropata

                      It is worthwhile to remember that homo sapiens display many behaviours in common with other great apes, especially dominance hierarchies, and (for males) these are rewarded with greater access to females. Lower status males may have to resort to subterfuge and violence to further their own reproductive goals.

                      A society with a large underclass is going to be inherently unstable because humans are finely aware of their social status, especially the poor. Marriage and Democracy and Education are supposed to mitigate these issues. But IMHO human nature itself is much harder to reform, although it is certainly possible. We work better in small communities and tribes… modern materialist culture has disconnected us from our sense of belonging to each other and to the planet

                    • Bill

                      @ McFlock

                      I can’t remember denying the existence of free will and can’t imagine me doing that. The fact remains that free will is constrained by the environment it’s placed in.

                      I guess (by you’re reasoning) we ought to expect a prisoner locked up in solitary confinement for years to be “normal”.

                      But here’s the thing. I suspect you’d have no trouble with a suggestion that systems of solitary confinement be dismantled because they fuck people up. But then…well, you’ve got no social standing or privilege at stake in that instance, have you?

                    • McFlock

                      Or, maybe, I view the transition from neoliberal capitalism towards more egalitarian systems that still incorporate some capitalist elements (because: human nature in the face of scarce resources) while providing social services and vastly reduced inequality as being more of a continuum of change than “solitary confinement | not solitary confinement”.

                      That’s the trouble with analogies: the more dramatic they are, the less relevant they tend to be. Uprooting apple trees is all well and good, but what will grow in its place, and what will you eat in the meantime?

                    • McFlock

                      I thought I’d responded to this – must not have pressed submit.

                      Basically, a prisoner is either in solitary confinement or they are not. Society, on the other hand, is a continuum of economic systems and options.

                      I believe we can reduce or eliminate most ills by decreasing inequality and eliminating poverty.

                      I also believe that historically, most attempts to improve society/people that go from “X is bad”, through hand-wavy metaphors like “uproot the tree” and aim for “no more problems” have never even approached the final stage. quite the reverse.

                      However, those societies that have focused on incremental improvements have found those improvements to be longer-lasting and a firm platform for further gains.

                      My approach might be coloured by my privilege, I can’t rule that out. But it seems to me that maybe that criticism is just an easy way to dismiss the possibility that all these goddamn metaphors simply hide the fact that the people with the most dramatic analogies seldom have the technical skills or vision to actually change anything.

                    • Bill

                      But the post was about the response to sexual predators in positions of power and what, if anything, to do about the contributory systemic, institutional and cultural factors of that.

                      Here’s the link to the original comment made by NZFemme that contains that analogy.

                      See, I really struggle to see what reducing poverty will do in the face of that (only poor men abuse?!)

                      And why would you necessarily want to put anything in the place of toxic patriarchy? A fucking nice blank canvass of boundless possibility in the space where it used to be would just the ticket I reckon. (If you’ve imagination)

                      Maybe those who resile from that, as well as possibly viewing all this through a lens focused primarily on preserving and maintaining their privilege etc, are also the types who would go to the art shop and ask of the canvas they just bought – “But where are the numbers?”

                    • McFlock

                      Reducing poverty reduces some of the power imbalance that enforces silence. Reducing inequality reduces the power imbalance that forces people into sexual exploitation (why “roosh” didn’t have his “successes” in Denmark). Reducing inequality empowers currently-poor women and men who need to smile and “go along with the joke” just to keep their damned jobs and food on the table.

                      Strategically, reducing economic inequality is actually a concrete and achievable step towards changing society away from patriarchy. Metaphors provide no help or guidance in how to do that, whatsoever.

                    • Bill

                      If all of the women (and a few men are in there too, yes?) we’ve been reading about were piss poor, then you might – just might have a point. But power doesn’t simply stem from one person having more money,or much more money, than the next person.

                      And I suspect you’re being terribly simplistic in your reasons for why Roosh or whatever didn’t go down well in Denmark. Where else did he go and what “successes” and “failures” did he have. You can tie them all into levels of material inequality?

                      Reducing material inequality is a good thing, and a necessary thing in my opinion, but there’s nothing necessarily in that which would constitute actually a concrete and achievable step towards changing society away from patriarchy.

                      If you believe otherwise, then the misogynistic old fucks from the authoritarian left – those who told women (and other victims of oppression) to wait until after the revolution when everything would miraculously fall into place in a world of material equality – you’d have to say they were right enough.

                      And they weren’t.

                      Ignored cultures of oppression re-create or become reasserted through new institutions. So fuck it. Identify them now and get rid of them…the tree, the soil and the orchard is appropriate enough for signalling just how ubiquitous and embedded those cultures are.

                      Can you not imagine that to be the case? Is that why you shrink it down to just being something connected to money?

                    • McFlock

                      No, not all of the people assaulted were poor.

                      But almost all were more poor, and at the early stages of their careers, than the perpetrators.

                      I don’t think that economic power is the only imbalance used to exploit people, and no, I’m not one of those who says everything should wait until the economics is sorted out.

                      But I am indeed having difficulty understanding how saying “get rid of them” even vaguely indicates specific actions that would result in even a modicum of improvement, let alone a revolutionary uprooting.

              • Pat

                “– ie, that you steadfastly refuse to pick up an axe or pick up a shovel.”

                no Bill you’re not wrong…I wont pick up your axe nor shovel unless you can show me that by killing the forest a better forest will result….in the meantime i’ll spend my energy on tending the forest that is.

                • Bill

                  That’s interesting that you replace a human construct (an orchard) with a forest – that humanity has no part in creating…before asserting, rather “nobly” , that you will defend it.

                  I didn’t offer you “my axe” btw. My references were entirely neutral. Well done you, for so casually diminishing both our humanities by insisting things be viewed through a lens of leader and follower though.

                  • Pat

                    only as interesting as your own misrepresentation that I have ‘nobly’ offered to defend it Bill……I believe I stated I would ‘tend it’

                    Curious also you should assert our humanity is diminished as i oppose a directionless anarchic attack upon humanity…go figure!

  2. greywarshark 2

    All this discussion is a broad side avenue.
    The good world we had is vanishing, there was an opportunity in better times to try to repair wrongs and make changes and some was done. Now is too late, we just have to hold onto human fairness and kindness and look out for universally-oriented people, not those concentrating on narrow-grouphood, not the PC infected, not the obssessed. Perhaps the collection of wrongs against women should be written down and collated, and stored somewhere so it gets acknowledged, like in the Holocaust Museum.

    But there is the death of species and of human hope to consider and it will take all the time of intelligent, practical, caring people. If you classify yourself as that you need to limit the time you spend on matters that don’t deal directly to the great needs we perceive now, and the acknowledgment that we are well into a very evil time under the tinsel sailcloth of neo lib capitalism. Conserve your mind, your strength to helping one another where a better outcome will come for all, to joining together for some fun to make it all worthwhile, and limit your time on causes that put certain people forward as entitled.

    The important thing is to group with people who care about democracy, about having individuality and rights, but also being part of a broad community looking out for each other as possible. Everyone can’t have everything that has been talked about in the past or imagined for the future, the rights, the dreams, the world cannot meet them all as people demand and complain like children. Remember wrongs and try to repair them, find ways not to repeat them by understanding all about them and just not the favoured meme is what should be done, but not allowing them to build into a mountain that overshadows all our lives. There is enough darkness already,
    and I think of Jung’s ideas and visions of a shadow over Europe and the world.

    During the 1920’s, while most people gave “the Roaring Twenties” its name with their partying and blithe lifestyles, Jung grew more and more aware that the “carefree optimism” was a “groundless illusion.” He began to warn his students to avoid living in fantasy: he intuitively sensed the tension building and, while he did not then know just where it would manifest, Jung was sure there would eventually be another war. This was more than a decade before World War II began.

    General info on Carl Jung.
    Quotes http://jungcurrents.com/quotations-shadow

    http://www.awakeninthedream.com/shadow-projection-the-fuel-of-war/

    http://www.cgjungpage.org/learn/articles/analytical-psychology/841-the-heart-of-history
    https://academyofideas.com/2015/12/carl-jung-and-the-shadow-the-hidden-power-of-our-dark-side/
    http://www.pantheatre.com/pdf/2-LE11-Jung.pdf

    • Incognito 2.1

      Well said, thank you.

      Will read your links later, with great interest 😉

      • greywarshark 2.1.1

        Thanks. It’s a puzzle why we are still milling around in the same pattern, generation after generation. Maybe the links will show us an aspect of our thinking we have to stand back to see. And all the time the CC is there with its effects of species dying out fast. No going back, no luxury of time stretching out into another century to practice being thoughtful, controlled human beings. Fast learners only need apply.

  3. the whole tree is infected from the roots up, and needs to be pulled up, surrounding soil dug out, and a new orchard planted

    Back in the early 2000, some of my colleagues had a running joke about a technician whose response to any desktop support issue appeared to have been “Re-install Windows operating system.” Anti-capitalists are in pretty much the same league: if there’s a problem, the answer always is wholesale uprooting of capitalism and starting again from scratch. It’s not a realistic approach to problems.

    In this case, the whole tree needs to be uprooted by whom, and how, and replaced with what? It’s effectively a recommendation to fix a particular problem by not having that particular problem – well, yes, that would be nice, but in the meantime we’ve got this problem.

    • Bill 3.1

      Spoken like a true liberal there PM.

      Capitalism is essentially benign. Likewise the liberalism it’s imbued with.

      The fact that both repeatedly over very long spans of time display malign characteristics obviously merely means that “the settings” aren’t quite right. After (what?) 150 years of tinkering, you’d have thought that would have been cracked by now though – no?

      No. The problem must simply be a far more complex and subtle array of settings than initially thought – because well, is all intrinsically benign after all.

      • Psycho Milt 3.1.1

        Capitalism is anything but benign. My issue is with pie-in-the-sky stuff about how we just need to destroy it and replace it with something else. Well, yeah – religion also isn’t benign and should be destroyed and replaced by a lack of delusions. No argument there. But that doesn’t really help us much in dealing with the issues of either religion or capitalism, does it?

        • Bill 3.1.1.1

          In the post I talked about the political, economic and social structures and systems that generate the attitudes and behaviours people are being condemned for

          So, if you agree that abuse has environmental roots and that those are systemic and institutional as well as cultural, but then hold that those things ought to be ring-fenced, cordoned off or preserved in some way, then how are you not, at some level or other, condoning the ongoing sexual abuse of (mostly) women as well as other multiple forms of psychological and physical abuse of people?

          Or am I missing something?

          • Psycho Milt 3.1.1.1.1

            If I have a problem with UV light damaging my furniture and I decide the solution is to burn down the house and build a new one, it’s legitimate to question whether I’ve taken a logical approach to problem-solving, especially if I haven’t made any mention of how exactly the proposed new house would prevent UV damage to my furniture.

            • Bill 3.1.1.1.1.1

              In the context of this post, the sun can only be the patriarchy in whatever of its forms inflicting damage on women…who you own apparently.

              I can’t quite get past that bit PM. Welcome to 1985.

    • Matthew Whitehead 3.2

      Please.

      I’m against capitalism, but you don’t see my saying the simplest policy solution to every problem is the abolition of personal currency and moving business competition to include externalities and other factors consumers aren’t good at internalizing, do you?

      By the by, re-installing Windows is an excellent idea that home users should do every year, and is frequently an answer to tech support queries like “my computer is operating slowly.” For some problems, the answer really is abolish capitalism, the trick is not using it like a broken clock.

  4. adam 4

    How dare you suggest anything apart from incrementalism Bill. You will lose people.

    Incrementalism has given us all material wealth, who cares if it was at the expense of the third world. Who cares if we have all these problems, we will deal with one at a time, always progressing forward.

    We will ignore that culture of working people has been destroyed. We will crush the dreams and hopes of working people, because they are dangerous. Incrementalist all sounding sadly like Leninists it’s frieghtening.

    But most of all – don’t question liberalism for the love of God. Anyone would think you were a socialist.

    For commenters like north, let me point out the above is full of bitter irony. Because God save me from literalist incrementalist’s.

    • Bill 4.1

      Fuck, don’t I know it! 🙂

      Working my way through Peter Watkins’ “La Commune (Paris 1871”) at the moment. Paris newspaper clippings from the time that are melded into the script exhibit far more political maturity and insight than much of the commentary seen across NZs political blogosphpere these days.

      And that was 140 odd years of so-called progress ago. It could be depressing.

  5. Andre 5

    Uproot a tree without a clear plan for what is to replace it and what happens?

    The opportunists move in. The weeds spring up like nobody’s business, then the rats and the rabbits make a comfortable home.

    I can see what I want to be different. I want us to be more like scandinavian social democracies. That has the bonus of being easily achievable from where we are with incremental steps, with time to adjust for unintended consequences after each one.

    So if you want my support for tearing up what we now have to try to get something radically different, you need to present a clear fleshed out picture of of what that something different looks like, together with a plausible plan how to get there.

    A plan that amounts to *I don’t know what it is or how we’ll get there but it’ll be great, trust me* isn’t something that looks likely to gather broad support.

    • Bill 5.1

      The thing with analogies Andre. They are devices for aiding comprehension. That’s all they are. And of course, if you push them, they fall over.

      Anyway. Scandinavian social democracy would be quite nice. You’ll have seen me arguing for a shift away from liberalism and towards social democracy on this blog’s threads.

      But how desirable is social democracy if its organisational arrangements are still riddled through with the same asymmetries of power that result in precisely the abuses we’ve been reading about these past months?

      And how does any incremental shift towards social democracy eradicate the institutional, cultural and social ‘bedding soil’ those abuses grow from?

      You thinking that by closing your eyes and forging ahead that everything will be just fine? You think, in line with authoritarian leftists of old, that race and gender issues etc, should just wait until after the glorious step has been completed? You have a goal in your head that only involves different economic priorities. What about the rest of it?

  6. Ad 6

    I sure ain’t any expert in this field and quite happy to be taken apart by my betters on it.

    But a few things have given me pause.

    The big British instances of abuse have been through actual Courts. So abusers are in jail. They were scrutinised by the law, and were able to defend themselves. And they lost, and many of them will simply die in prison which is no bad thing.

    These recent United States versions have all been trial by media, where the complainants generally got nothing other than satisfaction solely through the rewards that media exposure can give. Weinstein and Spacey and O’Reilly have certainly lost some money.

    But let’s be clear: that ain’t justice. They have plenty salted away, and their future idea of hardship will be the effort of turning over for an even tan in Biarritz, and not needing to get the suit drycleaned for the Oscars.

    The second thing that gives me pause is how the Democrats handled Al Franken. The bold response from Franken and the Dems would have been: I will resign only when President Trump does. After all, the evidence in public is pretty clear.

    Or even: I will resign when Moore withdraws from Alabama. Fat chance.

    The Democrats have calculated that there is some extra votes to be gained by going with the full tidal flow of the media. But if they think they are going to win mid-term seats with feminist arguments, I would refer them to the Hilary Clinton campaign. The Republicans simply do not give a fuck, and they are in overwhelming power in the US.

    So, I prefer the British system. Hell, even the Australian process of child abuse that is about to take down Cardinal Pell is preferable.

    I have no idea about roots, branches, or whether one is being sufficiently radical. I only know that I prefer the version of justice that requires jail, not resignation from plum salaried positions.

    • McFlock 6.1

      The point of the Franken thing is that these issues should not be a political tool. When it was one case, I was cool that he referred it to ethics committee himself. At half a dozen, he was right to resign and others were right to pressure him do do so.

      Waiting for repubs to do the right thing is futile. Flipping one’s own offending into a political distraction is what Spacey tried to do.

      • Ad 6.1.1

        Neither of those U.S. instances are real punishments outside of a very specific media bubble.

        I agree that the focus on historic sexual crime is a good thing, worldwide. It’s not like the U.S. invented it. But the U.S. version of it is the least effective, least sustainable, and least just.

        • McFlock 6.1.1.1

          Well, against historic allegations it sucks to have a statute of limitations, but that also relies on a serial offender suddenly stopping. This is rare.

          But in general I think that the real change isn’t the resolution of individual cases, but the simple reporting of them. Yes, this will take a while to trickle down to the trumpists, but it does signify a social shift.

    • Bill 6.2

      Media trail versus court trial? Yup. With you on that.

      But, the argument I’m making is that those people and their behaviours stem from environmental factors (Social, political, cultural, economic etc) . So simply jailing them all…well, we’ll still be “jailing them all” a thousand years from now if that’s all we’re going to come up with.

      The root, branch, soil etc is simply those social, political, cultural etc aspects of our environment that produce these fruits we’re busy sorting through. Of course, some might say people is “born bad”. That’s a particularly easy (though intellectually bankrupt) way out.

      • Ad 6.2.1

        In the U.S. instances, you are not going to ever “root and branch” anything because Hollywood runs on the imagery and morality of sexual gratification and exploitation: they are the gearing of the entire entertainment industry.

        By internet traffic, most of the entertainment industry is U.S. manufactured pornography. By mainstream film theme, cheap sex with very, very low consent thresholds is a basic driver. Same with television, which slides between both.

        There’s billions to be made with this status quo, and the industry is just throwing enough victims off the back of the Russian sleigh to keep the pack of wolves at bay,
        which is a process that they can sustain endlessly.

        I know Dworkin’s “Intercourse” was controversial at the time, but it’s been borne out.

        The U.S. left elites have gone for a few high profile hits. They haven’t even started on the entire music industry, and of course they never will.

        • Bill 6.2.1.1

          Yeah. Crusades – somewhat shallow and cynical ones that (in this case) are tapping into and exploiting very real angers, fears and frustrations of “half” of humanity.

          I’d like it to blow up in their faces, but I’m inclined to agree it will be, at least for the most part, contained and directed in “favourable” directions.

          • In Vino 6.2.1.1.1

            We are failing to bring up our children well. If I were a National Cabinet Minister from last year, I would blame the bloody teacher unions. But since I am a teacher, I will blame poor parenting and penny-pinching politicians who undermine teachers’ best efforts. Plus the ignorant public who elect them.
            Nothing will improve unless we teach our children to be better than we are.
            Debate is a superfluity, given the number of ratbags currently in charge.

            (And queuing up to take over, with scant regard for whether anyone is shaking some metaphorical tree. Did Christ shake such a tree? We are taught so.. Did Marx? He is so hated that he must have uprooted it.
            But has anything really improved? I can believe that there was a very good level of debate among those in the Paris Communes of 1871. Not so sure about how much hope, given the circumstances.)

            • Bill 6.2.1.1.1.1

              You know how the basic features of oppressive systems are replicated when discriminatory dynamics are left in place?

              And you know how environments produce people with given thoughts, believes, attitudes and behaviours?

              So about that We are failing to bring our children up well

              It’s not about individuals or their choices. As a society, we’re dragging our children down into the same rotting mire we’re in, because of this notion that we can only move to the future via some preservation of the present (ie, reform, incrementalism)

              So those multiple systemic pressures that twist people, for example through incentive and punishment, into tortured harmful beings? It seems they’re precious to us. We seem unwilling to acknowledge them, and so preserve them in the frameworks we use – even through the most (supposedly) transformative of social revolutions. And then (blow me over with a feather!) they reassert themselves.

              • In Vino

                Except for the very best of us, we repress our children. A system of guaranteed repression. No wonder we struggle to improve. This is a depressing discussion, Bill.

                • greywarshark

                  The best way of encouraging children to be as free and self-controlled as needs be is to not be preaching and exhorting all the time, and to comment pleasantly when they are doing something right. The attitude is catch them out doing good things.

                  And as for the future we have to accept what we have and find ways to improve on it. There are people popping up all over the country with this and that small ideas, look at them, do a reality check on them, and an implementation plan. Do useful stuff and save the negative theory to the hour before breakfast when you read and listen to the news before you go and do something practical. Get the balance between talk and discuss and theorise and draw plans and implement and monitor, and go through circuit again.

  7. eco maori 7

    There are people in our state services that are still living in the 1960s and they have to retire it is these neo liberals that run our country. They are game players they play with us like we are toys and treat Lady’s like sex objects and baby makers not equally as is my view as Lady’s are a important part of our society they think that there views on reality is the only view and until they leave things won’t improve as fast as needed. The scenario is like getting a car from the sixtys and trying to beat and better the fuel mileage it the 1960 car will never better a 2017 car and this is one of the things that hampers our worlds society
    Kia kaha

  8. Incognito 8

    This is an excellent post with very good discussions and I can actually see some seeds of convergence emerging.

    Taking the metaphorical axe to the tree or the flame-thrower to burn down the forest is not going to work, in my view; you’ll replace something of great diversity that has grown & evolved over centuries with farmland & monoculture (e.g. ‘orchards’) and in the end all fertile soil will erode away and be flushed away out to sea.

    For me, this is the key bit in the post:

    … the political, economic and social structures and systems that generate the attitudes and behaviours people are being condemned for.

    It is (the) people who have been creating & generating these structures and systems; they did not come from outer space but are human-made, with human constructs and human concepts underpinning them. In a perverse feedback loop these structures and systems influence us and our behaviours: the good, the dad, and the ugly – all of it.

    In other words, we have planted & grown the tree and picked & eaten its apples and, at the same time, we are the tree as well as the apples – it is inside and outside and we cannot point a finger and not point to ourselves at the same time.

    This hasn’t just happened over the last 30-35 years or so but goes back much much further. To use a biblical reference: the sins of the father. Indeed, we pass on all this to our children (cf. 6.2.1.1.1.1).

    Rather than asking “why?” (cf. comment @ 4:38 pm) it might be more fruitful to ask “how?”. Moralistic crusades are not helpful either IMO. I believe that if we look in the mirror and we don’t like what we’re seeing it is time to change what we don’t like about ourselves and become who or what we do want to be. It doesn’t involve lipstick or (plastic) surgery but getting a grip and growing up to become human rather than the animalistic thugs we (sometimes) are.

    There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.

    ― Aristotle

    • Bill 8.1

      You do realise it was an orchard, not a forest that NZFemme used in their analogy, yes?

      So on the basis of your comment (that doesn’t want things diminished and/or destroyed), NZFemme’s analogy may be pointing out that we are already located in a toxic and/or denuded landscape of farmland & monoculture (e.g. ‘orchards’) and in the end all fertile soil will erode away and be flushed away out to sea.

      From the rest of your comment, it seems you don’t give much weight to the idea of systemic pressures shaping humanity. Self reflection and/or self improvement is all well and good. But if the structures, cultures etc that bent us out of shape are left in place (ie – the orchard) then we will (as a species) wind up back where we started – in front of a mirror being none too impressed with what we see looking back at us.

  9. jackel 9

    Until we get rid of some of these paedophile rings in high places, and put in their place some people who do actual work, nothing will change.

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