Stolen Land, Superior Cultures, Racism, & Divorcing Family (33m) – Episode 324

Episode 324 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following entries to r/unpopularopinion: qwesrst writes, “It’s dumb to complain about native land being stolen every single bit of land on the entire earth has been stolen”; Kingen232 writes, “Some cultures are better than other, and disliking the culture of a people doesn’t make you racist.”; Kat_nu writes, “Racism is not the same as Cultural stereotyping.”; and kayasphotographs writes, “It’s fine to not love your family members or in-laws.”

Listen to Episode 324 (33m, mp3, 64kbps)

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The Deeper the Disagreement, the Higher the Stakes, the More Important the Honesty

Man, I thought the culture wars were bad when I was a kid. It’s cliche to say now that people are more divided along political lines than ever, so I’ll spare you. You know it. And that divide is particularly evident when people try to communicate with each other.

There’s the name-calling and expletive-flinging and straw-manning and worst-case-assuming, of course. But there also appear to be two sets of “acceptable” facts/statistics/anecdotes on any given issue. And there is a great deal of distrust between the warring parties (the right and the left) about the validity of those facts. This precludes any progress beyond a discussion of the facts of a case into the actual meat of what to do about something. Police brutality, racism, immigration, abortion, gender, climate change – these are all heavily politicized subjects with heavily politicized media on both sides supporting opposite viewpoints. It becomes hard to believe any facts which seem to be embraced by the other side, so both sides are left with not just different conclusions, but different premises.

This dynamic is worsened with each and every “fake news” story, doctored or selectively edited video, and false accusation promulgated by one side against the other. Targeted half-truths and falsehoods don’t just distort our ability to act – they destroy any of the trust needed for an actual conversation. As we lose and lose more agreements on the base reality of an issue (and we lose confidence that our opponent is trustworthy), talking becomes less and less worthwhile.

It’s ironic. The more passionately opposed we become to each other, the better we feel about “bending the truth” just a little. Yet this bending of the truth is the thing that ultimately defeats any chance of “winning” an argument or coming to a compromise. Telling the truth to your opponents – even when it’s hard – becomes all the more important as disagreement reaches a fever pitch.

You can be rude, loud, trenchant, critical, and the conversation can still happen. Some people even respect a passionate opponent more. But if you are deceitful, you and your “facts” will gain a reputation for deceit. No one will listen to you, and you will be doomed.

People often talk about the responsibility of news readers to reject fake news. This is good. But it is just as much our responsibility to reject lies and corruptions of truth in our own words and lives. We are now the media (if CNN hasn’t made a news story out of one of your tweets, it’s only a matter of time), and we do have some control in what happens next.

Originally published at JamesWalpole.com.

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A Modest Proposal for Compromise on “Confederate” Military Bases

In July 1864, Confederate forces led by General Jubal Early attacked Fort Stevens and Fort DeRussy on the outskirts of Washington, DC. Union forces drove them away after two days of skirmishes, but the battle threw a scare into the capital city and constituted a high point in the Confederacy’s Shenandoah Valley campaigns.

More than a century and a half later, the Confederates are back in Washington, meeting stiff resistance on Capitol Hill but garnering support from the White House.

This June, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sought the removal of portraits and statues honoring Confederate figures from the Capitol and its grounds.

Meanwhile,  the US Senate’s Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the annual National Defense [sic] Authorization Act, offered by US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The amendment would give the Pentagon three years to re-name military bases named after Confederate figures.

US president Donald Trump says he’ll veto the NDAA if it comes to him with that amendment intact.

Will he? Almost certainly not.

The NDAA is the US government’s largest annual corporate welfare and middle/lower class workfare bill. This year’s version isn’t even at full pre-passage bloat yet and it already tops $740 billion in sweetheart payouts for “defense” contractors, plus salaries and benefits for more than three million jobs in, or related to, the military.

If Social Security is a political “third rail” (touch it and you die), the NDAA is the train that runs down the tracks on either side of that rail (get in its way and you’ll be run over and smooshed).

So no, Trump’s not serious about a veto. He’s just virtue signaling to those members of his southern and rural base who were weaned on pro-Confederate “Lost Cause” mythology (basically every southerner and most midwesterners who came of age before the 1990s). And yes, Pelosi and Warren are virtue signaling to their side of Culture War, 2020 Election Edition, too.

Both sides will drag this fake, silly fight out until after Election Day because it’s the fight itself, not the outcome, that brings in the campaign contributions and the votes. Style over substance, as usual.

But just for laughs, let’s think about what a compromise could look like if the two sides actually worked for the taxpayers instead of for the military industrial complex. How about this:

Don’t rename those “Confederate” bases. Instead, shut them down. Completely. Move or destroy the weapons, move or discharge the troops, and sell the real estate (with contract clauses forbidding use of the bases’ names or namesakes in subsequent uses).

For the sake of balance, shut down an equal number of bases named after Union military figures, on the same terms.

Then cut that NDAA by $100 billion or so, and call it a good start.

No, that’s not going to happen, at least while we keep sending Republicans and Democrats to Washington. They’ll occasionally slap new labels on their wicked and murderous behaviors, and sometimes assign blame to the old labels for those behaviors, but they won’t willingly change.

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Politics Fears (or Hates) Reality

Reality seems to offend the noisiest people these days. It’s not just that they don’t like it, they want to deny it even exists. And they demand you go along with them.

Especially when it contradicts their political agenda.

To this way of hallucinating, science isn’t real to them because it has too much “western, white male” influence. It doesn’t lead where they want to go. Nor (the belief goes) can you expect others to behave ethically when that’s not a path that their culture created.

And on and on and on.

Reality is reality even if you don’t like it. Even if it goes against your desire to force other people to pretend otherwise while facing the guns of government or the censorship of corporations. Or the wrath of the W0ke.

Maybe humans can’t really know reality in its deepest sense. It’s possible that’s how it is. I can still recognize non-reality when I encounter it. And some reality isn’t that hard to figure out.

One reality is that every human being has equal and identical rights. Every last one of us. It can’t be logically otherwise. No one can have the right or imaginary “authority” to violate those rights for any reason. No one has special rights just because they choose to see themselves as a victim or are otherwise mentally ill. You aren’t obligated to act as though someone’s mental issue dictates reality for the external world. Anyone who attempts to use force to achieve this goal is committing archation.

I get it: Sometimes reality sucks. I want to be able to time travel and change the past. I want a Firefly-Class spaceship and a real lightsaber and a collection of sci-fi guns of various kinds. And to easily accomplish something that earns me a billion dollars. But I’m not going to attack you just because reality is what it is and doesn’t hand me everything I want. That would be stupid. That would be politics.

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Middle Ground, Victimology, Cancel Culture, & Fighting Racism (38m) – Episode 312

Episode 312 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following entries to r/unpopularopinions: HotAshDeadMatch writes, “The ideological middle ground is gone and that’s a terrible development”; snub-nosedmonkey writes, “Constantly telling people they are victims is harmful and disempowers them”; _ImperialCereal_ writes, “Getting people fired from their jobs for posting ignorant/racist bs is too far”; wishinonaprayer writes, “I know you guys absolutely live for it but believe it or not, beating the shit out of racists doesn’t make them any less racist”; SOwED writes, “Racism is a useful tool the upper class uses to keep the middle class and lower class fighting each other rather than disrupting the upper class”; and MimikyuMimikyu writes, “The growing obsession with racism is influencing more people to become less interested in addressing it.”

Listen to Episode 312 (38m, mp3, 64kbps)

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Aphorisms in Honor of Liberty, Part One (20m) – Episode 309

Episode 309 has Skyler giving his commentary on the following aphorisms written by Jakub Bożydar Wiśniewski: “A bad economist believes that he knows what to do to make the world prosperous. A good economist believes that he knows what to do to let the world make itself prosperous.”; “A barbarian believes in coercion as a means to establish cooperation. A civilized person believes in cooperation as a means to eliminate coercion.”; “A civilized person believes that what matters is not whether wealth is equally distributed, but whether it is justly acquired. A barbarian believes that the latter depends on the former.”; “Achieving peace of mind is the dual process of maximizing self-awareness and minimizing self-consciousness.”; “A commercial culture is a tautology. A political culture is an oxymoron.”; and “A civilized person uses reason to evaluate his instincts. A barbarian uses reason to justify his instincts.” (Please excuse the audio anomalies that occur a few times throughout.)

Listen to Episode 309 (20m, mp3, 64kbps)

Subscribe via RSS here, or in any podcast app by searching for “everything voluntary”. Support the podcast at Patreon.com/evc.

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