Is America an Oligarchy?

An article in the guardian claims to tell us How the oligarchy wins: lessons from ancient Greece. It is an interesting mixture of insights from the author’s sources and complete nonsense.

Is America really at risk of becoming an oligarchy? Our political system is a democracy. If the people don’t want to be run by wealthy elites, we can just vote them out. The system, in other words, can’t really be “rigged” to work for the rich and powerful unless the people are at least willing to accept a government of the rich and powerful. If the general public opposes rule-by-economic-elites, how is it, then, that the wealthy control so much of government?

Seems straightforward: You have a two party system with: both parties under control of well established status quos; both parties taking massive contributions from the wealthy; and both going out of their way to prevent dissenting voices like the Greens and the Libertarians from getting their messages out, for example by preventing them from participating in debates.

In his fascinating and insightful book Classical Greek Oligarchy, Matthew Simonton takes us back to the ancient world, where the term oligarchy was coined. One of the primary threats to oligarchy was that the oligarchs would become divided, and that one from their number would defect, take leadership of the people, and overthrow the oligarchy.

In other words, if the establishment allowed themselves to be split into two partisan factions, a  charismatic independent could come in with a populist message that appealed to a large fraction of one party’s base, and could take control of that party, win election to the highest office, and then proceed to drain the swamp.

While the ruling class must remain united for an oligarchy to remain in power, the people must also be divided so they cannot overthrow their oppressors. Oligarchs in ancient Greece thus used a combination of coercion and co-optation to keep democracy at bay. They gave rewards to informants and found pliable citizens to take positions in the government.

Like using wedge issues to divide the people and stacking government with political hacks and lobbyists.

In addition, oligarchs controlled public spaces and livelihoods to prevent the people from organizing. They would expel people from town squares: a diffuse population in the countryside would be unable to protest and overthrow government as effectively as a concentrated group in the city.

Much like the ideologues at Google, Facebook, and Twitter who control the public spaces, colluding with the establishment media to attack people’s livelihoods with demonetization, content restriction, and shadow banning to prevent them from talking about ideas they don’t like. A population dumbed down by the corporate media is easier to control.

They also tried to keep ordinary people dependent on individual oligarchs for their economic survival, similar to how mob bosses in the movies have paternalistic relationships in their neighborhoods.

Or how the welfare state keeps the poor dependent on government.

Reading Simonton’s account, it is hard not to think about how the fragmentation of our media platforms is a modern instantiation of dividing the public sphere, or how employees and workers are sometimes chilled from speaking out.

What? Fragmentation of media takes power away from the oligarchs. It gives people more ways to get their message out.

[Oligarchs] sought to destroy monuments that were symbols of democratic success.

Like statues of Lincoln and Jefferson?

Jeffrey Winters argues that the key to oligarchy is  “wealth defense,” and divides it into two categories. “Property defense” involves protecting existing property – in the old days, this meant building castles and walls, today it involves the rule of law. “Income defense” is about protecting earnings; these days, that means advocating for low taxes.

Defending property rights–how terrible. And of course, the only reason anyone would advocate for lower taxes is to defend their own interests.

The challenge in seeing how oligarchy works, Winters says, is that we don’t normally think about the realms of politics and economics as fused together.

Rational people know that you always follow the money. Who the hell thinks that politics are not driven by economics?

Democracy is vulnerable to oligarchy because democrats focus so much on guaranteeing political equality that they overlook the indirect threat that emerges from economic inequality.

Democracy is vulnerable because democrats sell out to big donors. Politicians do not care about political equality. They care about money and power.

In civil oligarchies, governance is collective and enforced through laws, rather than by arms. America is a civil oligarchy. To use the language of recent political campaigns, our oligarchs try to rig the system to defend their wealth. They focus on lowering taxes and on reducing regulations that protect workers and citizens from corporate wrongdoing.

Lowering taxes and decreasing the size of the government is the only way to combat the oligarchy. Regulations haven’t protected workers. The government works for the corporate donors, not the citizens.

If oligarchy works because its leaders institutionalize their power through law, media, and political rituals, what is to be done? How can democracy ever gain the upper hand?

If only there were a way to elect someone who wasn’t part of the establishment and would pledge to drain the swamp.

Winters notes that political power depends on economic power. This suggests that one solution is creating a more economically equal society.

By giving the oligarchs even more power? Wouldn’t it be better to vote for people who are not bought and paid for by the establishment? If you don’t like Trump, how about the Green party or the Libertarians? As long as you aren’t willing to change the government, don’t expect them to do anything to make society more equal.

Indeed, some commentators have suggested that the economic equality of the late 20th century was exceptional because two World Wars and a Great Depression largely wiped out the holdings of the extremely wealthy. On this story, there isn’t much we can do without a major global catastrophe.

The reason things changed after the wars was that a large segment of the male population was wiped out. This meant that soldiers returning from the war and women who had for the first time entered traditionally male occupations during the war effort had massive opportunities. Don’t fool yourself: the wealthy were not “wiped out” by the depression and the wars; they made good on them.

Simonton offers another solution. He argues that democracy defeated oligarchy in ancient Greece because of “oligarchic breakdown.” Oligarchic institutions are subject to rot and collapse, as are any other kind of institution. As the oligarchs’ solidarity and practices start to break down, there is an opportunity for democracy to bring government back to the people.

But not if you continue to elect the same establishment parties.

In that moment, the people might unite for long enough that their protests lead to power. With all the upheaval in today’s politics, it’s hard not to think that this moment is one in which the future of the political system might be more up for grabs than it has been in generations. The question is whether democracy will emerge from oligarchic breakdown – or whether the oligarchs will just strengthen their grasp on the levers of government.

We’ll see. Assuming Trump fails to drain the swamp, it’s still possible that the establishment Republicans will be sufficiently weakened and the Bernie wing will do the same for establishment Democrats. If so, who knows what will emerge from the wreckage.

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Review of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” (spoilers)

* * C

kingsman-gcThe original Kingsman movie was good. As expected, the sequel was inferior, though there were things I liked about it. Taron Egerton returns as Eggsy, with side kick Merlin (Mark “Sinestro” Strong). First spoiler: Despite being shot in the head in the previous installment, Colin Firth is back as the original Galahad. This time out, the villain, Poppy, is played by Julianne Moore. After Moore wipes out the Kingsmen (other than Eggsy and Merlin), they join forces with their American counterparts, the Statesmen.

They team up to foil Poppy’s evil plan to blackmail the US president into legalizing all drugs by poisoning drug users. This leads to the biggest negative (for me) in the film: the president agrees to sign an order to legalize (which is beyond the power of the president; the congress makes laws in the US) but secretly plans to let all of the infected drug users die. In the end, he is impeached and jailed. This rang hollow for me.

The president is not the only extra villain. There is also a traitor among the Statesmen. There are some excellent action sequences, and the performances are solid, with Colin Firth standing out. Still, on the whole, this film did not leave me wanting another installment. Also, this is one of the worst movie posters ever.

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Should We Boycott Hollywood Over Harvey Weinstein?

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal, fellow Canadian Stefan Molyneux published a video explaining why he is boycotting Hollywood movies as a matter of conscience. In this post, I’m going to explain why I’m not going to do that. Here’s Stefan’s video for those who are interested:

The first question I have is does a lack of integrity invalidate all of a person’s good works? What does integrity mean? It is a deep concept. A person with true integrity is consistent in every aspect of his of life. Clearly, Weinstein lacks integrity, by his own admission. That doesn’t change the fact that he produced the Lord of the Rings movies, which are my favorite movies of all time. It is possible for a man who lacks integrity to produce great things. Those works, while they may have been influenced by his flaws, stand on their own merits.

The second question I have is should a man be convicted in the court of public opinion? If allegations can be used to ruin Harvey Weinstein’s life, they be used to ruin an innocent man. Think of Julian Assange. The allegations of rape made against him seem highly suspicious. He has been forced to spend years in asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy rather than face extradition to a country who’s courts are arguably biased against him. I don’t know if Assange is innocent or guilty, but that there has been a smear campaign against him is undeniable.

While trading sexual favors for career advancement is repulsive, it is not an act of aggression. In other words, as long as Weinstein did not use force, what he did was unethical, but not immoral. If he did indeed rape women, he then crossed the line. In that case, he should face trial the court of law, not just the court of opinion. But even should that happen, I will still love The Lord of the Rings movies.

Weinstein’s actions are now yielding the consequences that he appears to have earned. He is unlikely to be given the chance to create another masterpiece. We must all face the consequences of our own actions. I hope that those accusing him of doing them wrong are not also taking actions for which they will have to pay the consequence in future. But though the man may have fallen from grace, his works will be his true legacy.

Getting back to the premise of this post, should we stop going to the movies because there are unethical people involved in their creation? For me, it’s a matter of your own conscience. If a product is being produced unethically and you don’t know that it is (for example, if you unknowingly buy clothing produced with child labor), you have contributed to the problem, but you’ve done nothing unethical. Even if you know that there are products out there that are produced unethically, that doesn’t mean you need to boycott all products, though you certainly may if you wish to.

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Is Automation OK After All?

The CBC’s Don Pittis is back with another article on automation: These Canadians are helping the world become replicant ready.

 

 

Generation R, a startup company that helps organizations prepare for the robot invasion, recently completed a study for Technical Safety BC, a self-funding organization charged with licensing and inspecting the safety of technical installations in the province. The technical authority recently began incorporating machine learning — the basis for modern artificial intelligence — into its system for deciding where to get the best bang for its buck in the use of its limited inspection staff.

Seems like a pretty mundane application of AI.

The job of Generation R was to spot where the new AI system was likely to encounter problems with the human-centred task. Workers at Technical Safety BC were worried that the new automated prediction algorithm would create ethical problems, missing or misjudging risks or stealing jobs rather than helping workers to do their jobs better.

The first concern, the accuracy of the AI, is important to test. The second, that the AI would “steal jobs” seems silly, considering that the AI is being used to allocate scarce human resources to inspections. The AI is being used to improve the efficiency of the human inspectors by targeting the most important problems. This might lead to the need for fewer human inspectors, but the AI is not stealing their jobs.

paul-the-robotIn a Media Market store In Switzerland last week, customers appeared disconcerted by a robot named Paul that can help find products on the shelves.

Given how hard it is to find help in large stores today, it’s hard to see why anyone wouldn’t be happy with such a service. Automated price checkers and bookstore kiosks that give you stock and location are limited forms of the same kind of automation, and they are vast improvements over searching for human help in an understaffed store.

Experts say automation is best when it is stealing jobs in what they call the three Ds, those that are dull, dirty or dangerous.

Dull jobs like factory assembly are often repetitive, and are well suited to automation. Dangerous jobs like inspecting nuclear reactors or bomb disposal are high paying, and therefore there is a bigger benefit to automating them. Today’s machines aren’t as good at dealing with dirty, chaotic environments, but, like dangerous jobs, dirty jobs have to pay a premium, so automating them when possible has a good payoff.

 

According to Elizabeth Croft, the idea that a higher minimum wage will take away dull and repetitive … low-wage jobs is inevitable. The trick is to make people happy about it. To maintain our standard of living we actually have to embrace this kind of technology.

Higher wages do increase the pressure to automate, particularly when we are competing with countries that have far lower labor costs, and against others who are aggressively automating to reduce them. The question is, whose standard of living will be maintained by automation? Certainly not those who lose their jobs due to it. A higher minimum wage doesn’t help if you’re out of a job. See my post Raising the Minimum Wage Can Backfire.

The way to do that is to be sure there are still plenty of good quality, complex and interesting jobs for human labour that, so far at least, only humans can do. That seems to be working out. Where robots are good is reliability, repeatability, the heavy lifting, able to untiringly do dumb tasks — pick-and-place pick-and-place, they can do that over and over again.

The key words here being “so far”.

You want to focus your labour to those high-value activities where there needs to be logic under uncertainty. Moving people into those higher-value, higher-wage jobs is the only way to increase Canadian productivity, leaving the bad jobs for the computers and robots.

But not everyone will be capable of doing such jobs. People are not interchangeable. Human intelligence exists on a bell curve. See my post Automation is not the Industrial Revolution and the site it references, Modern IQ ranges for various occupations.

“To be able to do that effectively there is a point where people and robots have to come together to really obtain that full value of that transition,” says Croft.

For the foreseeable future, robots will be mere tools, albeit very sophisticated ones. They will need to be usable, configurable, and safe.

Essentially, the robots have to be constructed and used in a way that makes people happy and comfortable.

This doesn’t follow. Not causing turnover in human employees is important, but overall cost savings will be paramount.

There have always been a few who were incapable of holding a productive roll in society. Now, for the first time, automation raises the specter of a world where more than a small minority are unemployable. If we aren’t far more careful with our spending, the welfare state may collapse under the weight of a whole class of people who have no place in the modern economy. As I’ve said before, things will thankfully change gradually, but the changes have the potential to reshape our civilization in ways it has never been before.

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Review of “Sleeping Beauty (2014)”

 * D

sleeping-beautyAccording to Shaw, the Space channel was airing Disney’s 1959 animated classic. Wrong. It was actually the 2014 live action version. This film is absolutely terrible, bordering on unwatchable. The effects are bad, the writing predictable. At least the acting is only mediocre. I’m not going to waste a lot of time on this film, other than to say don’t waste your time watching it.

The story begins much like the classic fairy tale. The evil fairy queen (who represents the Greek goddess Eris) is replaced by Queen Violet, who curses the king’s daughter to die by sewing. Her curse is then softened by the three good fairies. She then shows up just before the curse’s time limit to insure that it comes about. So far, the film has stayed on the rails, though it hasn’t been impressive.

A hundred years pass, and prince Charming’s stable boy (Finn “Iron Fist” Jones) finds a map to her now enchanted castle. Prince Charming is actually a sadistic asshole, and has four evil henchmen. They set of to find the sleepy kingdom’s treasure. When they arrive, they have to battle an army of undead crusaders and a very fake CGI lizard man (dragon?). They are then confronted by the evil queen, who has been alone for 100 years (what did she eat?) and yet still young and beautiful. She kills them all except for the stable boy, who turns out to be prince (Lonestar!) and you know the rest. Ugh!

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Gun Control: Vice vs. Conservatives

Note: I’m a Canadian; we don’t have a second amendment right to bear arms. We do gun-controlhave what I consider a fairly sensible compromise: no handguns off the range, no automatic weapons.

Vice has an article on The 12 Most Absurd Arguments Against Gun Control After Vegas. A lot of the arguments that Vice has collected are weak, but some are on point. Here are my thoughts:

1. Murder doesn’t account for most gun-related deaths

Most gun deaths are suicides. Suicidal people with access to guns are overwhelmingly more likely to actually kill themselves. That’s one reason gun control advocates want to limit access to guns!

While clearly no-one wants suicide, it is a voluntary behavior. This means that things like gun safety and access to mental health services are reasonable steps to take to combat it, but it is a weak argument for banning guns, IMO.

2. Guns aren’t the problem, murder is the problem

Stefan Molyneux, a popular Canadian conservative podcaster and YouTuber, seemed to suggest that we don’t need gun control legislation because gun crimes are already illegal. If you know what his point is here, let me know.

The point is that you don’t ban cars, you put people in jail for driving under the influence. Like cars, (some) guns have legitimate uses, particularly outside cities.

3. Don’t blame guns, blame ISIS

The terrorist group claimed responsibility for the Las Vegas massacre, saying that shooter Stephen Paddock had recently converted to Islam. Journalists who cover ISIS were immediately dubious of this claim. The FBI announced Monday, “We have determined to this point no connection with the international terrorist group.” But Curt Schilling asked “Why do I feel like our media is going to do ANYTHING it can to disprove this?”

I share the media’s skepticism regarding ISIS’s claims. Schilling’s point is that the media do treat ISIS with kid gloves. For example, headlines proclaiming that a truck ran into people in Paris, while completely omitting the fact that it was driven by an ISIS inspired terrorist, left me with a bad impression of the media’s dedication to truthful reporting on terrorism.

4. Gun control is fascism

The way convicted felon and conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza‏ sees it, more gun control is disarming “the people,” and will inevitably lead to our demise.

The purpose of the US second amendment is make sure that should authoritarians seize control of the government, the people are able to defend themselves against it. While this right is unusual, taking it away would be a move away from freedom. Note that I’m not saying that it’s wrong to restrict it. Personally, I think some freedoms are too dangerous to grant. I doubt that the second amendment could be revoked without triggering a civil war.

5. The Manchester bombing happened, and bombs are illegal

D’Souza also pointed that outlawing bombs didn’t stop the Manchester bombers from murdering 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in May. Laws that don’t prevent every tragedy are worthless, I guess?

While D’Souza’s argument is weak, the argument that there is less gun crime in places where carrying a gun is legal is compelling, and there is a lot of evidence to back it up. Gun control in large US cities has failed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Banning handguns almost entirely in Canada has not kept them out here either.

6. Why are we focused on guns instead of heart disease?

Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart editor who runs the DailyWire, wondered why we’re not talking about a “pizza ban,” considering heart disease kills hundreds of thousands every year.

I agree Shapiro’s argument is very weak. Eating pizza is voluntary, whereas being shot (other than in the case of suicide) is not.

7. Gun control is pointless because criminals don’t obey the law

In an appearance on Hannity, Fox News contributor Tomi Lahren said that firearms can be empowering and that a “good guy with a gun” can save lives—a routine argument. Taking a rather defeatist stance on gun control, she pointed out that mass shooters don’t obey the law. Then why do we have any laws to begin with? Makes you think.

It is absolutely true that a good guy with a gun can save lives. It’s also true that gun control doesn’t prevent criminals from getting guns, though it may make it harder. That doesn’t men we shouldn’t try to prevent crime.

8. This is just the price of freedom

“This is the price of freedom,” Bill O’Reilly wrote on his blog. “Violent nuts are allowed to roam free until they do damage, no matter how threatening they are.” At least O’Reilly is being honest here—he’s totally OK with mass shootings.

I highly doubt O’Reilly is OK with mass shootings. He is right that the shooting is a consequence of giving people the right to bear arms. Whether or not you equate that right to freedom is open to question. In my opinion, a country that bans all gun ownership by private citizens is not a free country.

9. We need guns to protect ourselves from people on Twitter

Andrew Mullins of the Republican Governor’s Association used a (now deleted) Nancy Sinatra tweet, which said that “the murderous members of the NRA should face a firing squad,” as a reason for why we need the Second Amendment now more than ever.

Suggesting that gun enthusiasts be killed because their hobbies offend you does seem pretty unhinged. There are enough people who think that violence is acceptable (punching “nazis”, AKA people you disagree with, for example) that I can see why others are concerned with being able to defend themselves.

10. I’ll only care about gun control when leftists start arming themselves

“There’s only one way we can lose our rights, unless a lot of leftists buy a lot of guns, conduct a lot of tactical training, and stop being little weenies,” said Kurt Schlichter. “We only lose our rights if we allow ourselves to be shamed, threatened, whined, and lectured into giving them up by skeevy tragedy-buzzard pols, mainstream media meat puppets, and late night chucklemonkeys whose names and faces all blend together into one unfunny, preachy blur.”

Classy, Kurt. This is why I think that removing the right to bear arms will lead to civil war. If, by some miracle, the US government amended the constitution and convinced the military to confiscate weapons, a large segment of the public are so heavily armed and feel so strongly that they have the right to bear arms precisely to prevent such confiscation by the government, that a civil uprising seems highly likely.

11. Don’t blame guns, blame the pharmaceutical industry

After it was reported that Paddock had a prescription for diazepam, an anti-anxiety drug better known as Valium, noted Sandy Hook denier and Infowars founder Alex Jones blamed the attack on psychiatric medication.

If there were contributing factors to the gunman’s actions, they should certainly be looked at. One thing gun control advocates have called for is restricted access to guns for psychiatric patients. It’s hard to see how even Alex Jones could argue against such restrictions.

12. We need more guns, not fewer

In an article on the ultraconservative Federalist, columnist D.C. McAllister argued, “A mass killing like the one we witnessed in Las Vegas is horrific, but we can’t extrapolate from this that gun violence is on the rise or that men who own guns are an inevitable threat. The fact is, mass shootings are still very rare, and most men who own guns aren’t out killing people. They’re mostly out saving lives or preparing to do so.”

Another weak argument. A furnace malfunction that burns the house down is very rare, Most furnace heat houses. That doesn’t mean I won’t keep my furnace maintained.

Gun control is not a black and white issue. A sensible compromise is probably out of the question in the US thanks to the fact that the right to bear arms is enshrined in the constitution. I was encouraged to see that the NRA have signaled their openness to discussing restrictions on bump stocks, which allowed the LA shooter to rapid fire his semi-automatic weapons. Hopefully this will lead to some sane conversation. If instead, gun control advocates attack the NRA, their cooperative mood is unlikely to last.

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Vice Lies About MGTOW

The last Vice article I reviewed (see How Helping Women is Hurting Women) referenced an older article on men going their own way (MGTOW): This Group of Straight Men Is Swearing Off Women. It turns out to be a hit piece.

Alshamel over the world, straight men are making the conscious decision not to be involved with women. This isn’t a decision in any sort of metaphorical sense. These men are literally cutting women out of their lives, completely. It’s not a spiritual choice—like becoming ordained as a Catholic priest—nor is it a socioeconomic problem, like Japan’s herbivore men. It is more of an ideological celibacy, one that crosses both national borders and religious divides. And the basic reason is the slow crawl toward gender equality.

As MGTOW are fond of pointing out, Title IX committees and the family courts favour women over men. In the areas MGTOW are concerned about, its more of a rapid slide away from gender equality.

MGTOW have a serious problem with feminism. To them, the feminist movement has all but ruined our society, and it just doesn’t make sense to participate in the dating game because women have been, in their eyes, programmed to ruin a man’s life. Around every corner they seem to see one-dimensional women who are just out to take their well-earned money and stick them with kids who aren’t theirs.

This is a fairly serious misrepresentation of the position of many MGTOW. First, most of them do not blame feminists as much as they blame the rest of us for allowing feminists to enact their agenda. Also, MGTOW are, as a rule, far more concerned with women taking their kids from them in divorce than they are being stuck with other men’s children.

Also false rape accusations: They are fucking terrified of those gosh-darn prevalent false rape accusations.

Being concerned about false rape accusations is eminently reasonable. Calling them “gosh darn” minimizes the fact that such accusations (false or not) can and do ruin men’s lives. Just ask Bill O’Reilly or Harvey Weinstein.

At first glance, it’s easy to lump MGTOW in with typical Men’s Rights Activists (MRAs) who also believe that female oppression is a myth and that it’s actually males who are oppressed—but that’s not the case. The two groups differ significantly in how they make sure those tricky, tricky women don’t pull any of their devious tactics.

Now its time to slime the MRAs. Yet MRAs (rightly) point out that there are places (like Saudi Arabia) where female oppression is a much bigger problem than it is in the west. They are also correct in saying that men have real problems and are treated unfairly in some ways. And for doing this, they are chastised by feminists and the media for being misogynists.

While MRAs are out to fix the problem through action and activism, members of MGTOW hold self-preservation above all else, and because of this the majority of the community seems to have decided to bow out.They’ve had enough, and they’re taking their balls and going home.

Most MGTOW hold self actualization above all else.

A major rule with Men Going Their Own Way is that no women are allowed in the community—something that differs from MRAs.

Well, it is men going their own way. Women are welcome to consume MGTOW philosophy, but they can hardly be men, unless you subscribe to the feminist myth that sexuality is a social construct.

The group also has a penchant for anti-Big Government rhetoric, but, in all honesty, that isn’t the most surprising thing in the world.

What is surprising is that anyone isn’t anti-Big Government. The US has already borrowed and spent 20 trillion dollars. Did you get your money’s worth?

Also, one can’t simply proclaim to be a MGTOW. There are stages. In fact, numerous MGTOWs have proposed that members of the community can track their growth with something called “The Four Levels of MGTOW.”

This is bullshit. There are no rules. Any man can claim to be a MGHOW. Of course, if he is married (like me), he is unlikely to be taken seriously. [Note: I’m not and do not claim to be part of their movement.]

Celibacy, which they refer to as Men Going Monk, is another option discussed routinely on the forum especially among the devout going their own way. For the extremely religious, being MGTOW causes a little bit of a conundrum. You can’t have sex out of marriage, but you have also vowed not to get married, so you’re essentially up virgin’s creek without a paddle. Going monk isn’t just for the religious—some men have also talked themselves into celibacy because they can’t have sex without love but can never love a woman.

The expression is “going monk”, not “men going monk”. MGTOW do not believe that you can’t have sex out of marriage. The implication that men have “talked themselves into” going monk is pejorative. If men decide to become celibate, who are you to criticize?

Like Men’s Rights Activists, some followers made their way to the MGTOW community out of completely spiteful reasons, but others have found themselves in the group after tough situations. Some have lost their kids in a custody battle and others have had their lives shredded by divorce proceedings. Some of these men credit the brotherhood they find within MGTOW as the catalyst that stopped them from ending their lives.

MRAs and MGTOW are not generally spiteful (though the author of the article certainly is). Men who come to MGTOW after being wronged in a divorce may unsurprisingly have hard feelings. This is seen by many MGTOW as a transitory stage on the journey to a life detached from women.

But most of it is pretty out there. Everyone but themselves and their brethren are blinded by the “feminist agenda” and are a “goddamn blue pill” or, my personal favorite, a “mangina.”

What a worthless, fact free criticism.

Once you move past the basic anti-feminist/blue pill rhetoric, any major similarities between MRAs and MGTOW come to an end. Their actions differ hugely. While the MRA’s victim complex parlays itself into a loud and screechy anger, a MGTOW’s anger is quiet and seething.

Most MRAs I’ve watched (Karen Straughan, for example) are anything but loud and screechy. Clearly the author of Vice’s article is completely clueless. MGTOW, when they have left their red pill rage behind, have little anger (or time) for women.

MRAs haven’t taken kindly to MGTOW culling their members with this kind of talk, so there exists an animosity between the two. But there’s also yet another men’s group that views them as a second-class movement: pick-up artists. The “hyper-masculine” culture of pick-up artists just doesn’t mesh with men who have decided to no longer pursue women. An article on Return of Kings, a PUA website, calls MGTOW “The creeping cult of male loserdom” and goes on to disparage the community.

MRAs I’ve listened to don’t have a problem with MGTOW. PUAs calling anyone losers is the pot calling the kettle black, IMO.

The “manosphere” snake is starting to eat itself.

Not that I’ve noticed. However, see my post Fractured Feminism: Is Identity Politics Failing? for an example of how feminism does seem to be eating itself.

However, MGTOW isn’t the revolutionary movement many of its followers hold it up to be, nor is it even a new concept. Throughout the ages, similar movements have popped up as pushback any time feminism managed a win. Communities similar to MGTOW and MRAs were around during the suffragist movement, when women began entering the workforce, and so on. In the 80s and 90s, the mythopoetic men’s movement developed as a response to the second wave of feminism.

Feminism has not existed “through the ages”. The feminist ideology really didn’t gain traction until the twentieth century. To my knowledge, there has never been a movement like MGTOW, which advocates merely walking away.

The cycle is a reactionary one.

Yes, MGTOW is reactionary (though not cyclical). So what?

But it’s hard to listen to any concerns—valid or otherwise—coming from the “manosphere” when these groups employ such disrespectful and, at times, hateful rhetoric.

The blatant lies and smears in this article are disrespectful and, at times, hateful.

A large portion of MGTOWs will not in any way participate in long- or short-term relationships. They preach using their lives for “productive pursuits” (work, I guess?) and get companionship from brotherhood. There’s a problem, though: your sexual drive isn’t something you can just turn off. A libido just can’t be satisfied, no matter how hard you try woodworking and hanging with your bros.

Just because the author can’t imagine being celibate, he assumes it’s impossible. For those who are unable to suppress their libido, there are plenty of ways to satisfy it without a partner, most commonly, with pornography. As sex robots become more advanced, they will doubtless become another alternative. Shaming MGTOW is not going to work; they no longer care what the mainstream think of them.

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