Posts Tagged ‘Identity Politics’


(The Moon and the Other, by John Kessell. New York: Saga Press, 596 pp. $27.99)

reviewed by Zeke Teflon

To understand The Moon and the Other, it’s helpful to be familiar with the reformist political current called identity politics. In the U.S., it’s been all the rage over the last few decades among liberals, especially among those in the corporate wing of the Democratic Party and those holding positions at Ivy League colleges and other elite East Coast institutions.

For those not familiar with the term, “identity politics” refers to the assumption that a person’s race, gender, and/or sexual orientation is the most important factor in politics, and that those in such groups should band together to further their own interests, making all other political goals secondary. The unspoken assumption is that everything is fine (or at least a minor problem) in comparison to the interests of the identity group.

This is a divisive, self-limiting political approach. It would be difficult to devise one better designed to distract from fundamental political and economic problems while fitting neatly into the existing political and economic power structure’s divide and conquer strategy.

More concretely, liberal political elites translate identity politics ideology into programs such as race-based admissions to universities and forced busing of school children to distant schools to give at least some poor minority kids access to better schools.

One wonders why those who foist such policies upon the public do not, instead, demand free higher education for all who want it (a fact in some European countries), and why they do not demand equal per-student funding for all public schools, thus ensuring reasonably high quality education for all students, not just some.

You’d have to ask those who advance such identity-politics “solutions” why this is so. My best guess is that they either: 1) see nothing fundamentally wrong with the existing politico-economic situation and just wish to make it marginally fairer to specific groups; 2) they see no hope of fundamentally changing that politico-economic situation and again just want to make it marginally fairer to specific groups; or 3) they’re conscious tools of the economic elites who fund their campaigns and their well paid positions in academia and the media.

The Moon and the Other’s background, the Society of Cousins (SoC), comes straight out of a virulent strain of this ideology, what one might term biology-is-destiny politics. The idea upon which the book revolves is that men are so violent and competitive that they must be disenfranchised, and that women, inherently peaceful and cooperative, must control society through a coercive political power structure — government. (On the surface, this concept is grossly insulting to men, but when you think about it it’s also grossly insulting to women, positing that they’re too weak to stand up to men in an egalitarian political and social structure.)

To provide contrast with his Society of Cousins, Kessell sets up Persepolis, another domed-crater society whose sketchily drawn political, economic, and social structure is all but indistinguishable from that of present-day liberal western democracies. (There’s also an all too brief, but perceptive, look at an Ayn Randist society.)

As the story begins, we meet the book’s protagonist, Erno who’s working as an immigrant in the bottom layer of Persepolis’ society after being exiled from the SoC for involvement in a “terrorist” dumb political stunt carried out by an extreme wing of the men’s right movement.

We shortly meet the novel’s two other central characters, both of them involved in the men’s rights dissident movement: Mira, the SoC’s unstable, immature, female version of Banksy, and Carey, her on-and-off boyfriend who resists being drawn into the movement despite his involvement in a high profile custody case.

All of these characters are well drawn, quite believable, as are several of the secondary characters, notably Hypatia, the charismatic, manipulative, intellectual leader of the dissident movement, and Sirius, an “uplifted” dog and leading newscaster in Persepolis.

Inevitably, years after the opening scenes, Erno, who has risen in life, is drawn back to the SoC as part of an Organization of Lunar States investigation of the status of men in the Society of Cousins, not incidentally at a time of the ascendancy of the men’s rights dissident movement.

The investigation is brought on, in part, by the SoC’s deletion of all published materials relating to its scientific and technical investigations over the previous thirty years. And here, Kessell posits not only internal deletion, but deletion by SoC hackers of all materials in electronic form everywhere, on both the moon and the Earth. Such an attempt would be ridiculous — doomed to failure — today, and it seems even more so set centuries in the future.

Worse, shortly after Erno’s arrival back in the SoC, Kessell throws the reader a curve. Rather than follow the struggle for men’s rights in this biologically determinist society — which, given how well the author has set up the situation, would be fascinating — Kessell presents the reader with two interwoven major events, which derail the course of the dissident movement.

Beyond that, the authors of the first event are never revealed, and their possible motives seem weak given the event’s drastic nature. As for the second related event, Kessell devotes quite a bit of space to establishing the motivation for the character responsible for it. However, a large amount of that motivation lies in the character’s resentment over his physical limitations — and those physical limitations would make his supposed actions all but impossible.

One minor problem with the book is that Kessell has an annoying habit of ending chapters or portions of chapters by revealing that something awful will happen, and then inserting pages of unnecessary material before revealing the nature of the event. That unnecessary material is there simply to keep the reader in a state of anxiety, and, for anyone who’s paying attention, that’s annoying.

In sum, the plot problems, unsatisfying conclusion, and manipulation of the reader outweigh the well drawn characters, interesting social background, and well set up social conflict. That’s unfortunate, because The Moon and the Other could have been a considerably better than average science fiction novel. As is, it’s a considerably more frustrating than average sci-fi novel.

Not recommended.

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Zeke Teflon is the author of Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia (pdf sample here). He’s currently working on the sequel and an unrelated sci-fi novel in his copious free time.

Free Radicals, by Zeke Teflon front cover

 

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Hillary Clinton’s new book, What Happened, will be released in a few days, so it’s time to remind people of why she would have been a lousy president — not as bad as Trump (a lobotomized Chihuahua could hardly be worse) — but lousy nonetheless.

The excerpts I’ve read have been notable for Clinton’s attempt to blame Bernie Sanders for her loss. Let’s be clear about one thing: Clinton lost because she was a wooden, status-quo, visionless candidate, who openly ridiculed Sanders’ calls for change, and whose only apparent reason for wanting to be president was personal ambition. She was a candidate who inspired no one beyond her identity-politics worshipers. (Her campaign slogan, “I’m with her,” exemplified this. What a call to arms.)

Seth Myers called her out on some of her b.s. tonight, but he didn’t go far enough: 1) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her to give three $5,000-a-minute speeches to Goldman Sachs; 2) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her to vote for G.W. Bush’s disastrous invasion of Iraq; 3) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her to oppose single-payer healthcare (favored by about 60% of the American public); 4) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her campaign and Super PAC to rely on big-money and corporate donors rather than small donors; 5) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her to take advantage of her allies’ at the DNC rigging of the primary system; 6) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her (as secretary of state) to engineer the disastrous intervention in Libya; 7) Bernie Sanders didn’t force her, during a debate, to brag about her friendship with war criminal and mass murderer Henry Kissinger. (Yes, a minor point, but one that’s particularly revealing.)

The list goes on; these are just some of the highlights.

To reiterate what I’ve written elsewhere, we’re in some ways fortunate that Trump won. If Clinton had won, we’d have had four years of gridlock, the corporate Democrats would have retained an iron grip on the Democratic Party, the Republicans would have blamed her for everything that went wrong while being held responsible for nothing, and they’d almost certainly have retained control of both houses of Congress in 2018 and won the presidency in 2020. And with a more competent, less overtly loathsome theofascist than Trump, who is stirring up massive popular resistance.

So, here’s a blast from the past from 2013. Enjoy!, if that’s the right word.

Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President

by Chaz Bufe, See Sharp Press publisher

There are plenty of reasons that no one should ever be president, but for now let’s focus on why Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be president.

She should never be president because of one single vote, the vote that authorized the illegal war of aggression against Iraq in 2003. No one in their right mind would accuse  Hillary Clinton of being stupid. It’s beyond dispute that she’s one of the sharpest political operatives in recent decades. So, it’s almost certain that she knew exactly what she was doing when she cast that vote. It’s almost certain that she knew it was wrong, that the “evidence” supporting the invasion had been cooked, and that the invasion would result in disaster–in untold death and misery. But she cast the vote anyway.

This is no small thing.

When the chickenhawks in the Bush Administration (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, et al.) began ginning up the case for invading Iraq, it was obvious from the start that they were doing exactly that–manufacturing evidence and support for an unnecessary, illegal war. The very concept that former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein was in league with Al Qaeda was mind boggling, absurd on the surface. Al Qaeda was and is a virulently fundamentalist religious organization. Saddam Hussein, for all his many and terrible sins, was a secularist. Al Qaeda considered Saddam a very bad Muslim.

Then there was the problem that the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, the head of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, was a Saudi, his number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was an Egyptian, and that Al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan. From all this, Bush and company concluded–more accurately, attempted to sell the idea–that Al Qaeda’s secularist enemy, Saddam Hussein, was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and, to make matters worse, had weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s).

And most Americans bought it. Not all of us, but most of us. How did Bush and company pull off this incredible con job? They grossly manipulated intelligence, ignored evidence that pointed away from their predetermined conclusions, relied on weak and even demonstrably false evidence supporting those conclusions, smeared those who pointed out false evidence (Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame), and even set up their own intelligence operation in the Pentagon to produce the “evidence” they wanted.

Even so, they’d never have gotten away with it if the press had done its job. With very few exceptions (notably some reporters at Knight-Ridder), the press rolled over and served as the propaganda arm of the Bush Administration. It did essentially no investigation of Bush et al.’s claims, let alone expose their falsity. Rather, the press served as Bush’s megaphone. In the run-up to the war, the networks (notably CNN) hired dozens of former high-ranking military officers as “expert” commentators, and fired anti-war reporters and pundits (among them, Phil Donohue, who had the top-rated show on MSNBC). So, not only were the TV news operations not doing their job of investigating and reporting, they were actively supporting the launch of an illegal war. A study of ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS in January and February 2003 by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) found that only 17% of guests on those networks’ news programs were opposed to or skeptical of invasion, while 83% favored it.

As well, a New York Times “reporter,” Judith Miller (now, appropriately, employed by Fox “News”), served as the Bush Administration’s stenographer. She reported as fact what they told her about supposed Iraqi WMD’s, and the Times ran Miller’s reports as front-page “news.” In one particularly egregious example, Miller’s September 13, 2002 article in the Times, “White House Lists Iraq Steps To Build Banned Weapons,” repeated White House-supplied disinformation about the “threat” of Iraqi WMD’s — and the next day Dick Cheney cited Miller’s article as “evidence” of the WMD “threat,” using the Times, the national “paper of record,” to lend credibility to his and Bush’s self-manufactured “evidence.” Of course, Miller and the Times didn’t call Cheney on his dishonesty.

Almost all of this (sans some details of the media manipulation) was obvious at the time–at least to those who were paying attention. And rest assured, Hilary Clinton was paying attention. Yet she cast a vote in favor of death and destruction on an industrial scale. Approximately 4,500 American troops died needlessly in that war, with tens of thousands more wounded, many of them maimed for life. Iraqi casualties were far higher. All of the widely cited estimates of the number of deaths caused by the war exceed 100,000, with some being much higher. The Lancet estimate, for instance, is 601,000. Then there are the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi wounded and the estimated 1.5 to 4 million Iraqis who lost their homes and became refugees as a direct result of the war.

Hillary Clinton couldn’t have known how destructive the Iraq War would be. No one could have known that. But she had to have known that it would cause death and destruction, and that it was unjustified, simply wrong. At the time, public opinion was heavily in favor of invading Iraq, with most polls showing support by roughly a 2-to-1 margin. So, Hillary Clinton made a cold political calculation and voted in favor of the war. She certainly wasn’t stupid enough to believe Dick Cheney’s b.s. that U.S. troops would be “greeted as liberators,” but she bet that public opinion would remain in favor of the war and that voting for it would be to her political advantage. Never mind the unnecessary death and destruction.

That alone is enough to forever disqualify her from being president.


PRIVILEGED, adj. As defined by the politically correct, the fortunate state of being mistreated—but not as badly as others. To illustrate this, let’s consider two prisoners in open-topped cells, one of whom is pissed upon by guards, the other of whom is shit upon by guards. According to PC ideologues, the prisoner who is merely pissed upon is “privileged” in comparison to the one who is shit upon.

According to these same ideologues, all prisoners should “struggle” to ensure that the “oppressed” shit-upon come to share the exalted status of the “privileged” pissed-upon, rather than “struggle” to end incarceration. In fairness, some PC ideologues would object that they do want to end incarceration—they just want to ensure that all are pissed upon first.

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–from the revised and expanded edition of The American Heretic’s Dictionary, the best modern successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover