A Brief History of Innate Ideas

 

We’ve been living in the latest version of western civilization for about 400 years now. For those who don’t follow philosophy, it’s called “modernity” and it’s been possibly the most destructive period of time in human history, having encompassed a handful of empires, at least a couple of attempted genocides and two world wars.

It began, more or less, with the ideas of two men, the  theologian John Calvin and the philosopher Rene Descartes. The first good and thoroughly booted the sacred feminine out of the long-standing culture known as Christendom, and the second all but booted out the sacred masculine.

I would like to consider Descartes’ theory of innate ideas, because I think it applies to the current notion of transgender identities. Descartes is famous for kick-starting the scientific rationalism of this modern age with the concept of doubt. He purported to doubt everything, including the existence of God, and then to work his way to a method of knowing what was real and what was not.

He eventually decided that we all have an innate idea of God, and because we have this innate idea, we can be assured that God must exist. An innate idea cannot be proven to be true or false, real or imaginary. It exists outside of reason. You believe it or you don’t. But he called innate ideas “clear and distinct” and gave them validity.

His philosophy was of grave concern to the established Roman Catholic church, as well as to the recently founded protestant denominations, most of which were influenced by the theology of Calvin.

The problem was that the innate idea of God was and must be a pretty stripped down idea. It doesn’t include all the accoutrements invented by the Christian tradition and clinging like barnacles onto the idea of God. The three gods-in-one doctrine, which was a necessary belief for any church in the Christian tradition. The crucifixation of one of those three for the purpose of the salvation of all humanity.  The punishment of humanity after the Eden debacle. The holy communion, whether literally the blood and flesh of Christ, or only a memory aid. None of these are implied by an innate idea of God.

In fact, as was pointed out fairly quickly, if all people have an innate idea of God, then who is to say which is the right one. Is there even a right one?

This led to a hundred or so years of pretty violent and vicious philosophical “debate”. It got personal. It was as ugly as the transgender wars on twitter. People were threatened with physical violence, and with the loss of their jobs (typically as philosophy profs at various universities).

Eventually the men who populated the public domain decided it was better to stop arguing the inarguable, and to look instead to ideas and theories that could be either logically proven/disproven, or were verifiable by observation and experiment. This was the philosophy of empiricism and it pretty much said to confine yourself to hypotheses that could be proven or disproven.

If we translate that sequence of events to today’s issues, we may conclude that the idea that we all have an innate gender is basically an innate idea, and like innate ideas, it can’t be proven or disproven. So maybe we should again confine ourselves to what we can prove. We know all humans, like all mammals, come in two biological sexes.

It could be argued that all the destruction of the last 400 years was and continues to be motivated by the greed and power-hunger of patriarchy. It could also be argued that it was all due to people (Europeans) insisting that they were innately superior and others (Jews, the indigenous peoples of the Americas, Asians, Africans) were innately inferior. Or insisting that their innate ideas (their God, their cultural and intellectual artifacts) were superior and that of others were inferior. All unprovable.

The thing about empiricism is that, if practiced rigourously, it doesn’t pander to anyone’s ego.

I vote that, as far as sex and gender go, we stick to what’s verifiable. If gender is innate, afterall, then children are born transgender, and it would be best to discover that as early as possible so that a massive medical assault can be initiated as soon as possible. Do we really want to consign thousands upon thousands of children to toxic drugs,  suppressed puberty, and multiple surgeries because of an illness that can’t be detected or verified by any scientific testing?

 

 

 

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The Patriarchal Rage

I’ve been thinking about the trans male whose rage at being called “Sir” instead of “Ma’am” by a store clerk has been on display all over Twitter. I wonder how it must feel to spend thousands of dollars on multiple surgeries, to have oneself castrated, and still to be seen for what one is — a man.

Surgery is an assault on the body, and since the consciousness (that non-material aspect of self) is intermingled with the body, surgery is also an assault on consciousness. What must it feel like to subject yourself multiple times to this invasion, and still have people see you for what you are — a man?

Trans males are showing how they feel by lashing out in rage.

But anger, rage, is a “cover” emotion. It’s the easiest of the emotions to feel, especially for men, because it’s associated with power. An angry man might just kill someone; if he’s angry enough he can do it with his bare hands or with his boots.

But anger is almost always hiding another, much less palatable emotion. In the stages of grief, anger is the first emotion after denial. And I think anger and denial are often tangled up with each other. Anger is a defense against the truth.

One of the most destructive consequences of the demands of patriarchy is male rage, which has become the only emotion men are allowed to feel. Without permission to feel what’s underneath, men can never get beyond the anger.

What’s under anger is often, if not usually, a cluster of emotions associated with helplessness — sadness, despair, emotional pain, grief. I think anyone who has allowed themselves to experience grief itself, the stark searing pure unadulterated pain of it, knows that it is a “clearing” emotion. It is rock-bottom. It is bedrock. Once you hit it, you are ready to let go of something.

What we have to let go of is almost always some kind of want. We realize we can’t have what we want (that may be life itself, if we’re grieving the loss of a loved one’s life, or the impending loss of our own). In this way we are helpless. Human life is driven by want, by desire, and yet we are all helpless to make the world give us what we want.

To grieve is to recognize and accept the limitations of our human ability. It is to stop striving for something we can’t have. But it is also to be face to face with truth. And that can be like facing god. It is so rare that it is revelatory.

It seems to me that the truth for trans males is that they can’t become women, and most of the time they can’t even be (mis)perceived as women. If they could get under their own anger, they could experience the “clearing” power of grief and arrive at acceptance of the truth. Then they could actually become “real men”, which is to say they could become more fully human, less trapped in their learned masculinity, more open to the  femininity which is so much more than a costume.

In a related vein, a recent article in Quillette by Geoff Dench (published posthumously) made the point that with gains in women’s rights and liberties, many men are feeling dispensable and are responding by refusing to grow up. The author felt the solution was to bind women back to men. Families, he pompously opined, are what give men a sense of purpose and meaning. So strengthen them by depriving women of the ability to support themselves and any children they may have on their own.

I think this is another example of male denial of the truth, which is that men are actually dispensable. Yes, they are. Like males of any mammalian species, they have only one and a half purposes. The one is to participate in procreation. The half is to defend females. I call it only a “half” because they need to protect females only from other males.

Women are also dispensable, once their children have reached maturity. Women have to deal with this, and so we see lots of middle-aged women re-evaluating the purpose and direction of their lives. No one is indispensable. Once we face this stark truth, we can try to find ways to make our lives meaningful to ourselves. Personally I think that’s the point of life. How might men’s choices change if they could accept that the only person to whom they are indispensable is themselves?

Woman as scarecrow

I’m reading a historical document from the 1960’s, a feminist article by Marlene Dixon, in which she describes what it is to be a woman:

“They know their lives are mutilated, because they see within themselves a promise of creativity and personal integration. Feeling the contradiction between the essentially creative and self-actualizing human being within her, and the cruel and degrading less-than-human role she is compelled to play, a woman begins to perceive the falseness of what her society has forced her to be. And once she perceives this, she knows that she must fight.”

Notice there’s a definition of woman here — a creative and self-actualizing human being forced to play a less-than-human role. Those were the days when it was still possible to define woman, the days when only misogynist gay men denigrated women with the term “breeder” — unlike today when we’re supposed to accept being called “menstruator” or “bleeder” or “vagina-holder” or simply “non-men”.

So I began to wonder what males see when they look at a woman. It’s pretty clear that a significant portion of males don’t see the essentially creative female human striving to actualize her potential, to grow in wisdom through searching for meaning. Trxns males, in particular, show what they see in how they present womanhood. They see only the skin, the costume. They claim a dress, a wig as woman — this is colonization as much as Europeans who, coming to American, saw only empty land, blind to the humans on the land engaged in the perpetual human task of wresting meaning from an infinite universe.

The fact that almost all the  male-dominated institutions of the public world accept this means it’s not only trxns males  who see women as nothing more than scarecrows, clothing stuffed with straw.

But you know, perception is subjective. What we see is often a reflection of ourselves, rather than the reality. If a man sees woman as straw, is that because he feels himself to be nothing but a sack of the same? If so there is no greater representation of the male lack than the trxns male decked out in makeup and heels.

I think a  case can be made that many modern western males are alienated. Capitalist patriarchy has seduced them for generations with roles that are supposed to gratify their egos: jobs that offer status and importance, and the role of “head” of a family. But a lot of men don’t expect to find meaning in work anymore. They’ve become disenchanted. We all know that if you want someone to talk about a job, hire a man, but if you want someone to do the job, hire a woman. And many women have no need anymore of a second head plopped on top of their own. A woman can do anything a man can do, and frequently better. So what role does a man have these days?

Women, on the other hand, have been fuelled by a couple of decades of “grrrrrl-power”, and special programs to boost girls’ self-esteem. Doors are still opening for women, and there’s excitement to being first at something. First high-profile defense attorney, first attorney-general, first neuro-surgeon, first presidential candidate. Women don’t hollow themselves out in pursuit of these goals. We continue to feel emotions, to monitor our inner state, to question whether what we’re doing is giving a sense of fulfillment. One thing patriarchy has not taken from us is an inner life.

But that’s exactly what patriarchy has taken from men. So when there is nothing external for them to hang onto, no job or role that tells them they’re important or valuable, they have nothing else. Straw men, that’s what we’re dealing with. Straw men who hate the women who are excited, dynamic, bravely pushing past barriers. Straw men who have to remind us over and over again that while we may *think* we’re important or successful or valuable, but we’re really just pieces of meat. A little sexual harassment accomplishes that very well.

And for those that don’t have that opportunity, there’s the ultimate ploy. Colonize the costume of “woman”, parade it in front of women to rub our noses in the image you have of us, the image you want us to have of ourselves. If that’s the case, trxns males are jealous of women. And they’re trying to drag us down to their level of hollowness and cynicism.

Finally, trxns males are ditching the responsibilities of manhood, which are the same as those of womanhood — to find some meaning and purpose to life on a tiny planet at the edge of a huge and indifferent universe. And while they disown the responsibilities, they’re holding on to the priviledges.

So there he is — pretending to be a woman as he lords it over us. Because he’s jealous. And because joining women as we conquer worlds would demean him. A sack of straw blowing away in the wind.

How “man” renders men invisible

I recently came across an article by Clifford J. Green on the German Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was involved in the German resistance to the Nazis and was eventually imprisoned and killed by them. Bonhoeffer questioned at length his own desire to be a Christian theologian, and Green argues that the personal issues Bonhoeffer faced in himself became part of his theology. That’s the overall thrust of Green’s article.

I was interested in how Bonhoeffer analyzed his own self-perceived egocentricity. He describes an egocentric as (1) “a man of impressive power” who (2) “dominates others”, viewing them as “things”. This way of relating to others (3) violates human relationships and destroys community. His conscience, instead of repairing what he destroys, (4)justifies his “autocratic solitude”.

The word “man” is used by both Bonhoeffer and Green as if it refers to humanity in general. But I ask you, does this four-fold analysis describe women? When Bonhoeffer generalized from what he saw in himself, does anyone think he considered women? Of course not. The idea is ludicrous.

YET — in pretending to talk about humanity through terms like “man”, academics like Bonhoeffer and Green lose the opportunity to discover insights about men.

Bonhoeffer made his remarks in the 1930’s. Green’s article appeared in 1967. Even though exactly the same thing continues to happen, I thought this article showed particularly clearly how men — in failing to see women — fail to see themselves.

Bonhoeffer’s analysis  is an acute indictment of patriarchally-conditioned masculinity. I am particularly struck by his conclusions regarding male “autocratic solitude”. It makes perfect sense that when people seek power to dominate others, they can have no true relationships with others. Masters and slaves aren’t intimate with each other, and that includes when the master is the husband, and the slave is his wife. As a consequence, men are alone. And lonely.

Recent male commentators are starting to suspect that men join misogynist and racist hate groups primarily for a sense of belonging. How desperately lonely do you have to be to join misogynist MRA groups where participants howl out their pain over lack of female companionship? Does serial rape fill the void in the heart?

I doubt that the patriarchy can be dismantled without male cooperation. So I think it’s essential that men figure out that they are half the human race only, and start paying attention to the other half. By that I don’t mean paying attention to women’s sexuality, or to all the other ways that men have coerced women into serving them.

I mean paying attention to them as if they were just as autonomous as men, living their own lives for self-directed purposes. I mean referring to men as men, not as “menandwomen”, thus leaving open a space for women. And I mean becoming curious about what’s in that space.

“Masculinity” , when it’s confused with “humanity” through such words as “mankind” is, if anything, anti-humanity. That’s because it offers the human being as a uniped rather than a biped ( to use a very appropriate metaphor). Human beings’ personalities comprise countless attributes. Men in patriarchy divided them all into two large categories — the masculine and the feminine. These categories are ideas only. They don’t actually exist.

Still, the world men see contains people with the “leg” of femininity bent and bound at the knee, forcing people to stump along on only the “leg” of masculinity. It doesn’t work. Humanity has not progressed since patriarchy began about 8000 years ago; it simply cycles between less brutal and more brutal. We cannot progress until men unbind the “leg” of femininity and unpack and legitimize the contents of that category.

Both men and women need the attributes of both categories. Feminine compassion without masculine discernment leads to the enabling of all kinds of things that should be contained rather than enabled. And masculine judgement without feminine empathy leads to state-sanctioned murder.

The problems with identity

The subtitle of this blog is “deconstructing identity and culture”. The culture part is patriarchy of course. But in these days of “identity politics”, of identity being used as a weapon for exclusion or inclusion, of the proliferation of ideas about identity, I think it’s time I said something about why I feel identity needs to be deconstructed.

Identity is more or less a synonym for what Freud called the “ego”. He coined the word to describe that part of the self that says “I”. In other words the part of us that recognizes ourselves as autonomous and discrete on the one hand, and a unified package consistent over time on the other. That is our sense of self, or of identity as a self.

It’s a challenge to develop a healthy ego/identity/sense of self, and that development is overwhelmingly affected by external circumstances. It takes years for a child to accept that she (or he) is autonomous and discrete, separate from all others. It’s frightening. It means that in some way we are alone on the planet, in the universe. That “alone-ity” can be terrifying. Those who can’t handle it become needy and clingy, always looking for someone to merge with. Then look at whose job it is to guide the young through the journey to selfhood. Ordinary people. Flawed people. People with all kinds of ideas about how to do it. People who don’t care. People who are themselves needy, who’ve had children for the purpose of keeping the aloneness away.

The end result is an ego that is a mess of scar tissue. Wounds to the sense of self can’t be undone, only covered up. Our sense of identity, then, often becomes a clutch of claims we make to make ourselves feel like we matter. It’s like saying, “if I am a discrete, autonomous individual then I want to be a special one, an important one, I want my difference from others to be significant.” But that means we’re not truly autonomous. A truly autonomous being simply gets on with life, being who they are without having to make claims about who they are or measuring themselves against others.

A lot of these claims are really limiting, and I think one purpose they serve is to create walls to box us in like the walls of a house. They’re comforting and they ensure we don’t have to experience the infinity of time and space, which is really, really scary. Think about “identifying” simply as one of billions of human beings who have lived on the planet earth — an outlier planet in the milky way galaxy which is itself an outlier galaxy in the bit of the universe our machines have access to — over the past million or so years. Talk about reducing your importance to nothing.

So on the one hand we make identity claims to make a place for ourselves in the universe and in our specific time and place, in our society. But that brings us back to the second problem, which is that identity is created through interaction with a world of other people. I’m referring now not to the flawed immediate family, but to the public, political world. This world is not unbiased. The world around us has an agenda.

No society wants authentic members. No society wants people of integrity. No society wants self-aware people.

What society wants are copies of itself. It wants people who fit into easy stereotypes.  It wants to tell you the size and shape of your box and amputate parts of you until you fit. It wants people who conform, which means people who are controllable. If you want to be authentic, it’s likely you’ll need to withdraw from society so that you can try to liberate yourself from its expectations.

And while we go about making claims about our identity, society is also making claims about our identity. Society identifies us largely by externals: as male/female, white/brown/black, rich/poor, sophisticated/ignorant, handsome/ugly, fat/slim. In that way it imposes identity on us. Then our identity is a box that imprisons us.

Most of us don’t identify with large parts of ourselves. Who identifies as a liar? As a cheat? As selfish? In order to maintain a sense of identity that makes us feel good about ourselves we have to tell ourselves lots of lies because, frankly, most of us are selfish lying cheats, aren’t we?

Identity becomes a barrier to authenticity and to genuine individuation. Our sense of identity stops us from growing up.

Most spiritual paths are about either transcending or dissolving the ego self. Whether or not you think there’s anything “spiritual”, the fact that lots of humans have thought getting beyond the ego was a good thing is itself evidence that the ego self is a problem.

So I think personal happiness and fulfillment requires that we explore who we are beyond identity. But there’s yet another permutation to the problem of identity. If we “identify” in some ways acceptable to our families and to our culture, we perpetuate that culture. When that culture is as harmful and destructive as patriarchy, we bring that destructiveness inside ourselves in order to replicate it outside of ourselves. We internalize patriarchy.

If we want to end patriarchy we need to deconstruct our patriarchally-constructed identities. We need to find ways to be human that go beyond the limitations of identity.

 

 

Is kindness possible?

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I read something in the New Yorker magazine yesterday that I really needed to read as an antidote to the interminable, depressing and infuriating news that keeps streaming into my reader about the assaults of the war on women. I almost — but not quite — begin to understand women who refuse to know, who want to keep it light. Just before reading the New Yorker article, in the actual paper magazine, I received an online post from weirdward in Dusk is Falling who referred to patriarchy as a “death cult”. It occurred to me that she’s right. In my early postings on this blog I referred to it as “POP culture” and then “POP Cult”. These were meant as black humour. Patriarchy means the leadership of the father, and Pop is an American slang word for father, right? Get it? I’m not sure that anybody did. But I also meant POP as an anagram for “People of Power”, because patriarchy can be defined as organization of a populace by gradations of power, and some patriarchs can be female. And I changed “culture” to “cult” because there’s nothing cultured about it. We are all brainwashed as thoroughly as the poor souls who drank the koolaid in Jonestown.

But I think “death cult” is more to the point, not only because it leads to all kinds of death including soul or spiritual death but because death was the original purpose for which patriarchy was instituted. Patriarchy spread across populations between 8000 and 5000 years ago, at exactly the same time as the greatest wars we know about were fought. As Marilyn French reported, the world suddenly exploded into mass violence, death and destruction. It seems that men all around the globe, from the middle east to south American, decided to start killing each other. Historians don’t yet know why. They speculate that populations might have grown to the point that various communities began impinging on each other.

Another possibility is that men had been developing team play and competitiveness through the hunt and killing of animals, particularly big animals, for long enough that they became drunk with the need for competition and for greater and greater hunting challenges. It has recently been discovered that as human populations spread across the earth, the largest animals disappeared, hunted to extinction. It’s not such a stretch to think that some hunting teams decided that men of another population group would be the perfect prey. At any rate, after they killed the neighbouring men, they enslaved the women and children. It’s also possible that access to those women and children was the point of the killing.

And so patriarchy, as a hierarchical system of power in which men were trained to kill, and women were enslaved, was slowly and painfully born. You’d think it would be out of date now. It’s not. What I see all around me here in North America is a population of men powerfully conditioned with the attributes that a killer needs, and a population of women still powerfully conditioned with the attributes that keep a slave alive.

That’s the only explanation for why men keep sexually harassing, stalking and killing women at a time and place where women are supposedly equal to men and supposedly free to enter the public world of work and politics alongside men. What the patriarchy gives with the right hand, it takes away with the left.

In patriarchy the whole ladder of competition, power and status is reserved for men. And men are placed on it whether they want to be or not. A man who refuses to compete finds himself at the bottom of the ladder. There is no way for him to remove himself from it. Women are never on the ladder, even when they work alongside men, even when they are better than men at the job, even when they are men’s superior officers. A man scores no points for beating a woman at work, but loses many points for being beaten by a woman. This is why men prefer to have male-only workplaces. They sexualize women in the workplace to remind women of their role, which is only one. Women are, first and last, men’s reward. They are the silver cup given to the winning team. That’s it.

And so many women provide the appropriate response. They smile. They compete to be the best trophy. They say “pick me! pick me!” The highest status male gets the best reward, whether that is the most beautiful wife, the best mother of his children, the best servant or the most elegant prostitute. And women compete in all those categories because being picked by the highest status male offers a better guarantee of continued life.

There have always been some men who don’t want the life of a master and who romanticize the life of the slave. The history of imperialism doesn’t say much about them except for the curious description of men who “turn native”. I suspect this includes men who wanted to outdo the slave in slavery, or who continued to dominate the enslaved class while pretending to be one of them. Is that what the trans movement is about? Is it men who have romanticized femininity and believe they are better women than women and want to teach women how to do it right while they continue to treat women just as men have always treated women in patriarchy — through domination and subjugation? I despair at all the women who welcome them and at all the men who must be laughing up their sleeves as they record male victories over women as if they were women’s victories.

My opinion of humanity has never been all that high, but it is sliding to new lows. Then I read Elif Batuman’s Letter from Tokyo about a booming business in renting family members and friends. It seems as Japanese society becomes more like western society, with more people than ever before living alone due to divorce and children leaving home, the Japanese have invented a service of renting people to replace missing friends and relatives. A man whose wife had died, and whose daughter had left home, hired a woman and daughter pair to have dinner with him occasionally. A woman no longer in contact with an abusive husband hired a man to play the role of father to her child. Some of these arrangements go on for years. The man who played the role of father read books and watched videos to prepare for the role, to learn how to be a good dad. There are services for middle-aged married woman, where men will romance them for a fee (no sex included or allowed). You can hire a young man to help you cry by showing you sad videos and crying with you. You can hire a groom for a false wedding. You can even hire an entire wedding party.

It struck me as I was reading that these are kindness services. The Japanese are hiring people of both sexes to be kind to them in one context or another, and the people they hire do what actors do by preparing for their role.

I wonder if such a service would be possible in North America. Would young women be willing to hire themselves out for an evening as “girlfriends” to a man without (no sex included or allowed). Would such a woman study up on how to be a good girlfriend so she could play the role well? And would men be willing to rent themselves out to be companions to lonely women, also preparing for their role through research? And what effect might such role-playing have on the customers and on the actors? If you’ve researched how to be a kind girlfriend or boyfriend, mother, father or grandchild would that learning carry over into your real life relationships?

There’s not much kindness between the sexes here in North America. Oh, people seem to learn to be “nice” at daycare and preschool, but “nice” is a tactic for avoiding conflict. Kindness, on the other hand, has a morality about it. One has to deliberately choose to be kind, often over easier options. I suspect that’s what “incels” really want from women, despite what they say. And I know that’s what women want from men.  Could men and women choose kindness rather than the gendered stereotypical behaviours we’re accustomed to?

Psychologists know that role-playing can be a powerful force for change. We all know the phrase, “fake it til you make it”. If we started by giving kindness for a fee, might we not end up choosing it for its own sake?

 

“American Idea” excludes women

This month The Atlantic had a fascinating article by Yoni Appelbaum in which he ruminated about the lack of enthusiasm some Americans feel for democracy as an idea. In all its two or three thousand words, not one was the word “woman”.  This is not in itself unusual among political historians — one can read entire histories of European societies which were apparently populated only by men, and historians have been erasing women’s histories since they began applying their pens to paper.

But this substantial essay occupying the “Dispatches” slot in the magazine occurred in a year when the election was polarized between “woman” and “anti-woman”, when sexism determined the outcome of the election, when an orange orangutang’s visible misogyny was accepted and reiterated by a majority of white men and a majority of their white wives. That an essay on American democracy could not contain a single reference to “woman” in a year when the election of a blissful woman-hater  led directly to 2.5 million people, mostly women, marching in cities around the world for the sake of democracy — that’s  about as careless as a man can be.

What kind of blindness is it that leads a man like Appelbaum to open his drapes on January 21 and not see the hundred thousand women in pink “pussy hats” thronging the streets of his city? What did he see instead?

Appelbaum refers to statistics indicating two thirds of people born after 1980 do not place the highest value on living in a democracy and do not think civil rights are needed to protect people’s liberties. Who are those young — well, youngish — people? Surely those statistics were broken down by race and gender, perhaps by education level? I’m betting not a single African-American woman is complacent about democracy. The consequences of patriarchal authoritarianism haven’t bled out of her system yet, surely.

In a time when American politics is polarized not just between left and right, but between male and female and between white and non-white, and when those categories align so that right means male and white, and left at least includes female and non-white, I’m betting those not repulsed by the idea of living in an authoritarian state are exclusively white right-wing male pseudo-Christians and their unfortunate stepford wives.

It is telling of the unforgiveable ignorance of men that Appelbaum, a man who has spent years as a professional political commentator in Washington, is not aware that democracy, as an idea, is being fought for harder now than it has been fought for in a long time — by those who always fight for democracy, that is, by the oppressed.

Democracy has never been the ideal of wealthy power-brokers. Democracy has been forced on them bit by bit over hundreds of years through the growing power of less-powerful groups. First aristocrats wrested some democratic rights from absolute monarchs, then the gentry, the bourgeousie, the merchant classes managed to extend democracy to include them. Eventually non-landowners, and non-white males were included in democracies in the west. The hardest fight, though, was always that waged by women.

Women, particularly women of colour, are still the most oppressed group in America and their access to democracy is minimal. They can vote, yes, but not for women. There are almost no women to vote for and that says everything about American men.

Appelbaum’s entire essay is a lie by over-generalization. It’s not young people who are complacent — it’s the inheritors of priviledge who are complacent. It’s white men who see democracy isn’t giving them the wealth, status and priviledge that their ancestors got from the vote. They’re simply thinking that maybe a return to brute patriarchy will give it to them.