Photo ID: A person with a tuba, labeled “Bigoted people on their 19th national newspaper interview” yells “I AM BEING SILENCED!!1!!” while another person, labeled “marginalised people with no platform at all” has their head stuck in the tuba.
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There's No Such Thing As Apolitical
From having 6 empty homes per homeless person in your country, to the free publicity the mainstream news gave to people like Donald Trump and helped him win, because he was good for ratings... to the snail pace society progresses, from civil rights for minorities to accepting people in the LGBTQ community, to selling arms to oppressive regimes overseas we know are used against innocent people...
Neoliberalism chases what is profitable, before it chases what is right. Once you understand that, it is easy to see why things are broken. Especially if there is a profit motive to keep them as they are. We live in a neoliberal society and it's enmeshed in everything. It's hard not to see it sometimes, like a fish doesn't notice the water it is swimming in.
That brings me to so-called nonpartisan or apolitical people. People who think they are apolitical are doing a politics. They're embracing the status quo. The status quo is not without an ideology. The status quo is neoliberalism, the predominant ideology we are all living under. These so-called apolitical people are just people who have fully bought into the politics that dominate our society and just don't notice it. Like how you don't notice a smell after sitting with it for a while.
Have you ever gone away for a while and smelled your house upon return? It's like that. People who reject the status quo - we bring attention to the thing that was always there. Hearing objections to the status quo we have all been indoctrinated under is like going away for a while and noticing how your house smells when you first get in the door.
The ones that these apolitical people and centrist types think are somehow more ideological than they are. We are not, we have just adopted a different set of politics that challenges the hegemony we are all living under.
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No ruling class survives merely by exercising force; it has to establish a ‘hegemony’, a prevalent discourse that makes sense for many actors in society because it responds to their interpretation of the issues at stake and their responses to them. Hegemony is manifested as institutions, procedures and practices, which respond effectively to commonsensical demands and claims of people.
Giacomo D’Alisaa and Giorgos Kallis, Degrowth and the State
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I want to talk about the whole “you must vote for the least worst candidate thing”, as if this is always the moral option.
Especially doubled with “you vote for the least worst candidate and then pressure them towards your policies afterwards”, as if that’s the only moral stance.
And to quote Santan Dave, “least racist is still racist”. Least terrible is still terrible.
Even if one believes voting and elections are legitimate, that’s not how voting works. Voting for a candidate is an endorsement of their policies. Getting a large share of the vote gives candidates a mandate to carry out their policies.
The time to influence candidates, if ever, is before they are elected. It is powerful to say to a candidate “if you don’t do X, I won’t vote for you” particularly on a mass scale. Once elected, it is far easier for candidates to ignore you. If you want to influence candidates, not voting has to be a credible threat.
However, furthermore, to vote is to endorse the system. Some people- revolutionary anarchists and communists, for example- believe that the system in its entirety is corrupt and beyond reform. Voting, for them, brings about no change. The only solution is armed resistance. Even if one disagrees with this stance, it’s clearly not apathy, and it is certainly no less moral than voting for a corrupt, bigoted, warmongering candidate (for example) in the hope that one can nudge him ever so slightly to the left.
To create a slightly extreme or straw man example, given the choice between Hitler and Mussolini, presumably most people would choose not to vote, and indeed might well think about armed resistance.
By insisting that the only moral choice is to vote, even if all candidates are awful, all you do is perpetuate hegemony, and weaken the power of people’s votes. It is certainly not the moral high ground in any context.
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tbh what i don't like is that a lot of the "hey we shouldn't mock/belittle religious people" stuff was rooted in or began with people defending the religious rights of certain marginalized religious communities (for example, SWANA christians such as Copts who are persecuted by the Muslim majority) but then the argument was co-opted by people belonging to hegemonic religions to mean "people should never criticize hegemonic religion Ever and christianity Always Bad and other religions Always Good and Oppressed" which isn't true, bc the experience of a minority like French Muslims, for example, go through is not comparable to the experience of Sunni Muslims in, say, Saudi Arabia, where Sunni Islam is hegemonical and thus the perpetrator of religious persecution to minorities within that country, so I think in this very sensitive conversation we need to like, separate the two situations. so i think what we should all be doing is instead of making blanket statements like "oh christianity is horrible and terrible and every christian ever is a horrible terrible person" and "(x PERCIEVED nonwhite religion) is so great in comparison to (x) etc etc" we should be analyzing the idea of religious hegemony and the marriage of religion and state, because most religions, including the nonwhite ones that are persecuted in the West, have been a hegemonical religion in some state or other and have been responsible for terrible acts of persecution against minorities. while i think that victims of religious trauma have every right to express their anger at their experience, and this isn't about them btw, i just want to kind of move past blanket statements when it comes to like, genuine discussions of religious power dynamics. its really reductive and also really global north-centric to reduce the whole debate to "christianity bad", and it also kind of erases the very real damage and trauma that many other members of non-christian religions have inflicted on other religious minorities or gay people or women etc etc. i think it would be more constructive and inclusive if we analyzed it from the point of hegemony and power dynamics instead of trying to find flaws in the religions themselves
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[ID: tweet by @fatimaayaz042 quote-tweeting @Ali70018955 whose tweet contains an attached video. Because it is so vitally important that you understand this, I shall be including a transcript of the video for once.
[Video is of an interview with former CIA operations director John Stockwell.
There are other functions [of the CIA] however, some of them more legitimate than others. One is to run secret wars. Another thing is to disseminate propaganda to influence people’s minds. And this is a major function of the CIA. And unfortunately of course it overlaps into the gathering of information. You have contact with a journalist. You will give him true stories, you will get information from him. You’ll also give him false stories. You also work on their human vulnerabilities to recruit them, in a classic sense, make them your agent so that you can control what they do so you don’t have to set them up sort of, you know, by putting one over on them so you can say, “Here, plant this one next Tuesday.”
Can you do this with responsible reporters?
Yes, the Church Committee brought it out in 1975 and then Woodward and Bernstein put an article in Rolling Stone a couple of years later: 400 journalists cooperating with the CIA, including some of the biggest names in the business, to consciously introduce the stories into the press.
Give me a concrete example of how you use the press in this way.
Well, for example, in my war, the Angola War, that I helped to manage, 1/3 of my staff was propaganda. I had propagandists all over the world, principally in London, Kinshasa, and Zambia. We would take stories which we would write and put them in the Zambia Times, and then pull them out and send them to a journalist on our payroll in Europe, but his cover story, you see, would be that he’d gotten them from his stringer in Lusaka who had gotten them from the Zambia Times. But after that point, the journalists at Reuters and AFP [and] the management was not witting of it. Now our contact man in Europe was, and we pumped just dozens of stories about Cuban atrocities, Cuban rapists. We didn’t know of once single atrocity committed by the Cubans. It was pure raw false propaganda to create an illusion of communists, you know, eating babies for breakfast.
[End of video. Punctuation based on my best guesstimate.
For those wondering how CIA forms propaganda narrative. They have been doing this against the Taliban for almost 30 years.
No way they would do that in their new cold war on China right?
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By: Bari Weiss
Published: Mar 10, 2021
The dissidents use pseudonyms and turn off their videos when they meet for clandestine Zoom calls. They are usually coordinating soccer practices and carpools, but now they come together to strategize. They say that they could face profound repercussions if anyone knew they were talking.
But the situation of late has become too egregious for emails or complaining on conference calls. So one recent weekend, on a leafy street in West Los Angeles, they gathered in person and invited me to join.
In a backyard behind a four-bedroom home, ten people sat in a circle of plastic Adirondack chairs, eating bags of Skinny Pop. These are the rebels: well-off Los Angeles parents who send their children to Harvard-Westlake, the most prestigious private school in the city.
By normal American standards, they are quite wealthy. By the standards of Harvard-Westlake, they are average. These are two-career couples who credit their own success not to family connections or inherited wealth but to their own education. So it strikes them as something more than ironic that a school that costs more than $40,000 a year — a school with Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right hand, and Sarah Murdoch, wife of Lachlan and Rupert’s daughter-in-law, on its board — is teaching students that capitalism is evil.
For most parents, the demonization of capitalism is the least of it. They say that their children tell them they’re afraid to speak up in class. Most of all, they worry that the school’s new plan to become an “anti-racist institution” — unveiled this July, in a 20-page document — is making their kids fixate on race and attach importance to it in ways that strike them as grotesque.
“I grew up in L.A., and the Harvard School definitely struggled with diversity issues. The stories some have expressed since the summer seem totally legitimate,” says one of the fathers. He says he doesn’t have a problem with the school making greater efforts to redress past wrongs, including by bringing more minority voices into the curriculum. What he has a problem with is a movement that tells his children that America is a bad country and that they bear collective racial guilt.
“They are making my son feel like a racist because of the pigmentation of his skin,” one mother says. Another poses a question to the group: “How does focusing a spotlight on race fix how kids talk to one another? Why can’t they just all be Wolverines?” (Harvard-Westlake has declined to comment.)
‘If You Publish My Name It Would Ruin My Life’
This Harvard-Westlake parents’ group is one of many organizing quietly around the country to fight what it describes as an ideological movement that has taken over their schools. This story is based on interviews with more than two dozen of these dissenters — teachers, parents, and children — at elite prep schools in two of the bluest states in the country: New York and California.
The parents in the backyard say that for every one of them, there are many more, too afraid to speak up. “I’ve talked to at least five couples who say: I get it. I think the way you do. I just don’t want the controversy right now,” related one mother. They are all eager for their story to be told — but not a single one would let me use their name. They worry about losing their jobs or hurting their children if their opposition to this ideology were known.
“The school can ask you to leave for any reason,” said one mother at Brentwood, another Los Angeles prep school. “Then you’ll be blacklisted from all the private schools and you’ll be known as a racist, which is worse than being called a murderer.”
One private school parent, born in a Communist nation, tells me: “I came to this country escaping the very same fear of retaliation that now my own child feels.” Another joked: “We need to feed our families. Oh, and pay $50,000 a year to have our children get indoctrinated.” A teacher in New York City put it most concisely: “To speak against this is to put all of your moral capital at risk.”
Parents who have spoken out against this ideology, even in private ways, say it hasn’t gone over well. “I had a conversation with a friend, and I asked him: ‘Is there anything about this movement we should question?’” said a father with children in two prep schools in Manhattan. “And he said: ‘Dude, that’s dangerous ground you’re on in our friendship.’ I’ve had enough of those conversations to know what happens.”
That fear is shared, deeply, by the children. For them, it’s not just the fear of getting a bad grade or getting turned down for a college recommendation, though that fear is potent. It’s the fear of social shaming. “If you publish my name, it would ruin my life. People would attack me for even questioning this ideology. I don’t even want people knowing I’m a capitalist,” a student at the Fieldston School in New York City told me, in a comment echoed by other students I spoke with. (Fieldston declined to comment for this article.) “The kids are scared of other kids,” says one Harvard-Westlake mother.
The atmosphere is making their children anxious, paranoid, and insecure — and closed off from even their close friends. “My son knew I was talking to you and he begged me not to,” another Harvard-Westlake mother told me. “He wants to go to a great university, and he told me that one bad statement from me will ruin us. This is the United States of America. Are you freaking kidding me?”
Woke-Weaning for Harvard
These are America’s elites — the families who can afford to pay some $50,000 a year for their children to be groomed for the eating clubs of Princeton and the secret societies of Yale, the glide path to becoming masters — sorry, masterx — of the universe. The ideas and values instilled in them influence the rest of us.
That is not the only reason this story matters. These schools are called prep schools because they prepare America’s princelings to take their place in what we’re told is our meritocracy. Nothing happens at a top prep school that is not a mirror of what happens at an elite college.
What does it say about the current state of that meritocracy, then, that it wants kids fluent in critical race theory and “white fragility,” even if such knowledge comes at the expense of Shakespeare? “The colleges want children — customers — that are going to be pre-aligned to certain ideologies that originally came out of those colleges,” says a STEM teacher at one of New York’s prestigious prep schools. “I call it woke-weaning. And that’s the product schools like mine are offering.”
The parents I spoke with for this story are savvy and smart: they realize that it’s bizarre — at best — for a school like Harvard-Westlake to hold forth constantly about social justice as it drops more than $40 million on a new off-campus athletic complex. This is a school that sends out an annual report to every Harvard-Westlake family listing parents’ donations. Last year, the “Heritage Circle” group — gifts of $100,000 or more — included Viveca Paulin-Ferrell and Will Ferrell. A red paw next to Jeanne and Tony Pritzker’s names indicated more than a decade of cumulative giving.
Parents say that it is a school where giving more gets you more. Big donors get invitations to special dinners, and, most importantly, time and attention from the people in charge. Meantime, their children are taught radical-chic politics, which, of course, do not involve anything actually substantively radical, like redistributing the endowment.
“These schools are the privilege of the privilege of the privilege. They say nonstop that they are all about inclusion. But they are by definition exclusive. These schools are for the tippity top of society,” a young mother in Manhattan tells me.
Power in America now comes from speaking woke, a highly complex and ever-evolving language. The Grace Church School in Manhattan, for example, offers a 12-page guide to “inclusive language,” which discourages people from using the word “parents” — “folks” is preferred — or from asking questions like “what religion are you?” When asked for comment, Rev. Robert M. Pennoyer II, the assistant head of school, replied: “Grace is an Episcopal school. As part of our Episcopal identity, we recognize the dignity and worth common to humanity.” He added that the guide comes “from our desire to promote a sense of belonging for all of our students.”
A Harvard-Westlake English teacher welcomes students back after summer with: “I am a queer white womxn of European descent. I use [ she | her ] pronouns but also feel comfortable using [ they | them ] pronouns.” She attached a “self-care letter” quoting Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
Woe betide the working-class kid who arrives in college and uses Latino instead of “Latinx,” or who stumbles conjugating verbs because a classmate prefers to use the pronouns they/them. Fluency in woke is an effective class marker and key for these princelings to retain status in university and beyond. The parents know this, and so woke is now the lingua franca of the nation’s best prep schools. As one mother in Los Angeles puts it: “This is what all the colleges are doing, so we have to do it. The thinking is: if Harvard does it, it must be good.”
‘Educated in Resentment and Fear’
“I am in a cult. Well, that’s not exactly right. It’s that the cult is all around me and I am trying to save kids from becoming members.” He sounds like a Scientology defector, but he is a math teacher at one of the most elite high schools in New York City. He is not politically conservative. “I studied critical theory; I saw Derrida speak when I was in college,” he says, “so when this ideology arrived at our school over the past few years, I recognized the language and I knew what it was. But it was in a mutated form.”
This teacher is talking with me because he is alarmed by the toll this ideology is taking on his students. “I started seeing what was happening to the kids. And that’s what I couldn’t take. They are being educated in resentment and fear. It’s extremely dangerous.”
Three thousand miles away, in Los Angeles, another prep-school teacher says something similar. “It teaches people who have so much to see themselves as victims. They think they are suffering oppression at one of the poshest schools in the country.”
It seems to be working. One Los Angeles mother tells me that her son was recently told by his friend, who is black, that he is “inherently oppressed.” She was incredulous. “This kid is a multimillionaire,” she said. “My son said to his friend: ‘Explain it to me. Why do you feel oppressed? What has anyone done to make you feel less?’ And the friend said: ‘The color of my skin.’ This blew my mind.”
‘We Don’t Call Them Newton’s Laws Anymore’
The science program at Fieldston would make any parent swoon. The electives for 11th- and 12th-graders, according to the school’s website, include immunology, astronomy, neuroscience, and pharmacology.
But physics looks different these days. “We don’t call them Newton’s laws anymore,” an upperclassman at the school informs me. “We call them the three fundamental laws of physics. They say we need to ‘decenter whiteness,’ and we need to acknowledge that there’s more than just Newton in physics.”
One of her classmates says that he tries to take “the fact classes, not the identity classes.” But it’s gotten harder to distinguish between the two. “I took U.S. history and I figured when you learn about U.S. history maybe you structure it by time period or what happened under each presidency. We traced different marginalized groups. That was how it was structured. I only heard a handful of the presidents’ names in class.”
Brentwood, a school that costs $45,630 a year, made headlines a few weeks back when it held racially segregated “dialogue and community-building sessions.” But when I speak with a parent of a middle-school student there, they want to talk about their child’s English curriculum. “They replaced all the books with no input or even informing the parents.” The curriculum no longer features classics such as The Scarlet Letter, Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Lord of the Flies. New books include: Stamped, Dear Martin, Dear Justice, and Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass.
“The dean said to me, basically, it’s important to change with the times,” said the Brentwood parent. In a statement, Brentwood’s director of communications said: “Diversity, equity and inclusion are critical components of our education and our community at Brentwood School. The events of last summer created a call to action for all of us, in our school community and beyond.” Brentwood has announced a late-starting school day on March 10 for the lower school “due to our faculty book study of White Fragility.”
At Fieldston, an elective is offered to high school juniors and seniors called “historicizing whiteness.” At Grace Church School, seniors can take a course called “Allying: Why? Who? and How?” The curriculum includes a ’zine called “Accomplices Not Allies” that declares “the work of an accomplice in anti-colonial struggle is to attack colonial structures & ideas,” alongside a photograph of a burning police car. Harvard-Westlake, in its extensive antiracist plan announced this summer, included “redesigning the 11th grade US History course from a critical race theory perspective,” among many similar goals.
[ A screenshot of “Accomplices Not Allies.” ]
To question any of the curricular changes, parents say, is to make yourself suspect: “Every group chat I’m on with school parents, with the exception of my concerned parents’ group, they have a pattern of shaming anyone who shares anything remotely political or dissents from the group narrative,” one Brentwood mother wrote to me. “Once someone shames one person, many chime in agreement. The times I speak up to defend those they shame, they attempt to shame me.”
In this worldview, complexity itself is a kind of racism, nuance is a phobia, and skepticism merely a type of false consciousness. Ibram Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist, plainly spelled out the logic on Twitter recently: “The heartbeat of racism is denial. And too often, the more powerful the racism, the more powerful the denial.”
One teacher told me that he was asked to teach an antiracist curriculum that included a “pyramid” of white supremacy. At the top was genocide. At the bottom was “two sides to every story.”
“‘Two sides to every story,’” he said. “That was on the racist pyramid.”
[ The pyramid of racism includes “we all belong to the human race.” ]
‘Mom, I Just Found Out I’m Racist’
But the most important consequence of the woke ideology isn’t a lesser English curriculum. It’s that the ideology, which seems to touch every aspect of schooling now, has changed children’s self-conception.
Consider this story, from Chapin, the tony all-girls school on the Upper East Side, involving a white girl in the lower grades who came home one day and told her father: “All people with lighter skin don’t like people with darker skin and are mean to them.” He was horrified as she explained that that was what she had been taught by her teachers. “I said to her: that’s not how we feel in this family.” It’s worth taking a look at Chapin’s various affinity groups, which have become de rigueur at all of these schools. (Chapin did not respond to a request for comment.)
For high schoolers, the message is more explicit. A Fieldston student says that students are often told “if you are white and male, you are second in line to speak.” This is considered a normal and necessary redistribution of power.
At Harvard-Westlake, the school recently administered the debunked implicit-bias test to tenth-graders. It was technically optional, but several parents I spoke with said that their children felt compelled to take it. One mother confided that her son said to her, “Mom, I just found out I’m a racist and I prefer White Europeans.” Her child is mixed race. “For my kid to come home and be told by his school you are a racist—I was aghast. I was so, so angry.”
A Brentwood parent says that she has tried, in small ways, to stand up to this. “They say I don’t understand because my skin is white.” Children like hers are being taught to give up ambition and yield positions that they might earn through hard work to others who are more marginalized. “My child is asking me obvious questions like: If I work really hard, shouldn’t I get rewarded?”
[ A chart used at Brentwood includes the phrase “I yield positions of power to those otherwise marginalized” as part of “becoming anti-racist.” ]
Doublethinkers in American High Schools
All of this “has made me think about race more,” said one teen boy in Manhattan. The curriculum, he explained, was trying to teach him to feel obsessed with his whiteness, the opposite of what his parents had taught him to do. Making students separate out by race in affinity groups is racist, he said. “MLK would condemn my school.”
Some students are rebelling, which, in this case, looks like becoming a Republican. But others go all-in on the ideology, which has created conflicts with parents who don’t. “The school has taken over as the moral guide, with me being the irritating person in the background who doesn’t really get it,” says one Harvard-Westlake mother.
So children learn how the new rules of woke work. The idea of lying in order to please a teacher seems like a phenomenon from the Soviet Union. But the high schoolers I spoke with said that they do versions of this, including parroting views they don’t believe in assignments so that their grades don’t suffer.
In Brooklyn, a STEM teacher known to be friendly among skeptical students laughed when he told me the latest absurdity: students told him that their history class had a unit on Beyoncé, and they felt compelled to say that they loved her music, even if they did not. “I thought: they aren’t even entitled to their own musical preferences,” he said. “What does it mean when you can’t even tell the truth about how music affects you?” One English teacher in Los Angeles tacitly acknowledges the problem: she has the class turn off their videos on Zoom and asks each student to make their name anonymous so that they can have uninhibited discussions.
No reliable survey data exist on free expression among high schoolers, but last week, Heterodox Academy published its annual Campus Expression Survey Report, which found that, in 2020, 62 percent of college students surveyed “agreed the climate on their campus prevents students from saying things they believe.”
Relying on word of mouth, parents are trying to suss out which, if any, of the private schools in their city avoid this ideology. They ask me what I know. “I don’t know where to move him to. I yank him and it’s the same thing. But I have a pit in my stomach about sending him back for third grade,” says a mother at Riverdale Country Day School in the Bronx, in a concern echoed by many parents. (Riverdale declined to comment.)
A Conspiracy of Silence
When I began working on this story, I didn’t feel that much sympathy for these parents. Some 18 million public school children have not set foot in a school in the past year. A study released in early December by McKinsey and Co. found that virtual learning hurt all students, but students of color the most: remote school set them back by three to five months in math, for example. Such numbers do not begin to capture the crippling effects, including suicidal ideation, that this past year has had on what experts are already calling a lost generation.
The parents in this story are not parents with no other options. Most have the capital — social and literal — to pull their kids out and hire private tutors. That they weren’t speaking out seemed to me cowardly, or worse.
The cynical answer for their silence is two words: Ivy League. “There are definitively rumors that the school has like, say, three picks for Duke and that if you stand up against this your kid will get blackballed,” says one mother.
Another explanation is groupthink and social pressure. “Sometimes the smartest people are the easiest ones to fool,” says a father who recently moved his son from one school to another that he judges to be marginally better. “If you made a decision to go on the board of Dalton having espoused all these leftist views forever and you want your kid to get into Harvard, you are not going to stand up and say, ‘wait a second, guys.’ You’re just not going to do it. Most people want to be members of the club.”
I think it’s true that many people would rather violate their stated principles than be iced out of their social network. But this is a situation that goes beyond getting shunted to a bad table at the Robin Hood gala. To resist this ideology is to go against the entire institutional world.
It’s not just Dalton, a school that has committed to being “visibly, vocally and structurally antiracist.” Bain & Company is tweeting about “Womxn’s History Month.” The Cartoon Network is imploring children to “see color.” Coca-Cola employees were recently instructed to “be less white.” You cannot buy or sell the newly problematic Dr. Seuss titles on eBay.
This ideology isn’t speaking truth to power. It is the power.
Most alarmingly, the ideology is increasingly prevalent at the local public school. The incoming New York City schools chancellor is a vocal proponent of critical race theory. In Burbank, the school district just told middle- and high school teachers to stop teaching To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men. The Sacramento school district is promoting racial segregation by way of “racial affinity groups,” where students can “cultivate racial solidarity and compassion and support each other in sitting with the discomfort, confusion, and numbness that often accompany white racial awakening.” The San Diego school district recently held a training in which white teachers were told that they “spirit murder” black children.
“I don’t mean to get emotional, I just feel helpless,” said one mother through tears. “I look at the public school and I am equally mortified. I can’t believe what they are doing to everybody. I’m too afraid. I’m too afraid to speak too loudly. I feel cowardly. I just make little waves.” Another tells me: “It’s fear of retribution. Would it cause our daughter to be ostracized? Would it cause people to ostracize us? It already has.”
I have a friend in New York who is the mother to a four-year-old. She seems exactly the kind of parent these schools would want to attract: a successful entrepreneur, a feminist, and a diehard Manhattanite. She’d dreamed of sending her daughter to a school like Dalton. One day at home, in the midst of the application process, she was drawing with her daughter, who said offhandedly: “I need to draw in my own skin color.” Skin color, she told her mother, is “really important.” She said that’s what she learned in school.
Religious fanatics corrupt children’s education and sacrifice their future prospects in order to Indoctrinate them into the hegemonic totalitarian ideology of institutional neoracism.
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Mature love is not a surrender of the self but a surrender to the self. The ego surrenders its hegemony of the personality to the heart, but in this surrender it is not annihilated. Rather it is strengthened because its roots in the body are nourished by the joy that the body feels.
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Cishet society teaches you unequivocally that cisgender, and straight is the DEFAULT. Every person, every story, every song, every novel, every film is “normal” and made especially for cis straight people to relate to, and enjoy. The burden of proof is entirely on marginalized people to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that something they love was made by someone gay/trans/person of colour/disabled person/so on AND that the narrative of their beloved property is so far away from cishet polite society that the only conclusion left is that it wasn’t made with them in mind. Especially when art is made, put out into the world, and much later is the artist revealed to be something other than “the norm”. Even then, most people will never believe that the thing they love was an allegory for something they could never understand.
This enables the most selfish, sheltered, and entitled people who can never accept that something is real or valid if they’ve never experienced it. Everything was made for them. The Matrix (made by a pair of incredible trans sisters) has always been a trans story for anyone with the lived experience to see the details only they know. Some people after all these years still believe this is a story made for incels, or men’s rights, or a metaphor for realizing that Jews secretly rule the world. Many more level headed cishets will still never believe this story is uniquely trans. The love story about a relationship so secret it is life and death, is made for straight couples who weren’t allowed to date until they were 16. The story about love being impossible because you’re so terrified of the consequences, that’s for the straight people who fall in love with someone who doesn’t like them back. Stories about discrimination and oppression are relatable to people who’s biggest concern is their annoying coworker or an in-law they don’t like. Neurodivergent characters are actually just normal people who are a little awkward and quirky.
You are straight and cis unless proven otherwise (actually no you’re still straight and you’ll come to your senses but could you stop talking about it that’s making me uncomfortable)
The amount of small towns you could go to and ask if any random stranger knows a trans person or what life might be like for someone in the closet and they wouldn’t have any real idea. You ask a queer person, or someone with disabilities, or a person of colour, if they understand the range of life experiences certain groups have in society, pretty much all of them would have a good answer. We’re all shoved through the conveyor belt, taught by our peers who made mistakes, how to act when you want to get through the day in peace. Taught how to silence ourselves, the most convincing lies we can tell if someone senses our difference and gets aggressive. Taught how to suppress every “uncomfortable” characteristic, how to make sure our stories are “marketable”, how to craft a persona that society will accept without too many questions, how to speak to each other in code for our own safety. We listen to every word, watch the way you move through life, always trying to figure out how much we need to be worried should you ever learn our truth.
Every characteristic of “normal life” is drilled into our head at every turn and yet, no one believes a trans woman that the song you like has trans themes. No one believes queer people that the movie is really relatable to their experience. No one believes that a character from a show they like is autistic. People who neatly fit into the status quo don’t believe we could possibly recognize our lived experience when we see it, because they so fundamentally misunderstand the way the world works for people who aren’t like them.
And then, we’re interrupted in our self made spaces and told we’re being exclusionary. We create our own movies, songs, books, games, and we’re told that those belong to them anyway. Our lives are a “slippery slope” and a debate. Existing, loving, struggling, grieving, without straight/white/cis/able bodied people will never be real unless they say so.
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In their #Accelerate: Manifesto for an Accelerationist Politics (2013) Srnicek and Williams charge the broad left and anti-capitalist movements of today with being “disappointingly unable to advance an alternative beyond mid-Twentieth Century socialism” (1). Taking particularly acerbic aim at those new social movements that have arisen since the formal “end of history,” and which gained significant currency in the wake of the global financial collapse of 2009, such as Occupy, they charge that they have:
"[B]een similarly unable to devise a new political ideological vision. Instead they expend considerable energy on internal direct-democratic process and affective self-valorisation over strategic efficacy, and frequently propound a variant of neo-primitivist localism, as if to oppose the abstract violence of globalised capital with the flimsy and ephemeral “authenticity” of communal immediacy (1)."
A useful analytic in interpreting this comes from the, presumably parody, Facebook group the Intergalactic Workers’ League-Posadist. In their own acidic take downs of contemporary left-wing theory and praxis they describe the anti-capitalist movement of today as mired in a ‘ritualistic repetition of past failures’ and engaging in ‘necromancy-as-praxis’.
And this is, we would contend, precisely what the left, at least the left within the First World settler colonies, engages in; lost in the cultural cybermesh of capitalist realism, unable to dream into existence new futures, new alternatives, new possibilities and new socialisms.
This is especially so for those who in some way or another claim the lineage of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917: Trotskyists, Marxist-Leninists and Maoists.
For these necro-Leninists, the rhetoric, theorization, organization and programmatics of the right-now are largely a repetitive, pastiched emulation of past political forms and visions, vaporwaved into retrofuturist images of Stalin, columns of Soviet tanks and recycled and looped renditions of L’Internationale and Slav’sya, Otechestvo nashe svobodnoye.
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Terms You Should Know
Politics has everything to do with how we do drugs and who we fuck.
ABOLITION Political vision with a goal of eliminating imprisonment, detention, policing, and surveillance while creating lasting alternatives to incarceration.
INTERSECTIONALITY A term created by Kimberlé Crenshaw that means people disadvantaged by more than one form of oppression based on how they are identified by the dominant culture (ex: Black women, queer immigrants)
FUTURISM Speculation that is concerned with shaping the anticipated future through technology. There are different types of futurism like Afrofuturism, Latinofuturism, etc.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE Legal philosophy which focuses on healing and rehabilitation through a human rights lens.
PRISON-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX The legacy of slavery and the Black Codes in the Jim- Crowe us south. The PIC is a system of control that organizes the overlapping interests of government & the private sector that uses surveillance, policing, & imprisonment as solutions to economic, social, political problems.
EUGENICS A set of beliefs and practices to "improve" the human race by excluding & eliminating groups that are considered undesirable by the dominant culture. Ex: The Jewish Holocaust, the Black Holocaust
HEGEMONY "Hegemony is defined as the predominant and pervasive influence of one state, religion, region, class, or group. A hegemonic society functions not just to establish a homogeneous way of thinking, but also to try to make any alternative disappear. One might say hegemony is the language of conquest." -- Paul Kivel
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page 490 - Joan Robinson’s biography as written by the hegemon.
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SSS here with an announcement to make. Hegemony, TWN’s mirror universe fanfic, will not be completed. There are a number of factors involved, but the short version is that it became more difficult and less fun to work on over time, and its final chapter is Chapter 12: Among the Ghosts (My Love Is Vengeance), which has fortunately already seen release.
For the few wondering where the story goes after the fact, these are the arcs that would have ensued. Think of it as a sort of “Where the Band Went Next” epilogue. These will feature spoilers for the current story. The arcs are:
Catra would have manifested the power of She-Ra in a climactic duel with Adora in the Fright Zone. From here on out, the story would have depicted Catra and Adora both as She-Ra. Catra would ultimately abdicate the throne of the Fright Zone, which Hordak had offered her, and choose to instead help rebuild with her powers.
Adora would have fought alongside the Hegemony until Catra defeated her in the Fright Zone. After a lengthy time of rethinking, Adora would have broken her own sword and gone rogue. In the climax, when facing Keldor, (We’ll elaborate on him) Adora would have joined hands with Catra and held the sword alongside her, allowing them to defeat Keldor. Adora would have walked Etheria, with plans to return at some point and marry both Bow and Glimmer.
Hordak would have faked his own death and retired to Dryl alongside Entrapta after revealing a suit of high-powered armor and engaging in a lengthy brawl with Empress Angella. While defeated, Hordak would have revealed that there was no outcome in which he failed, having cut off the Hegemony's escape; he would explain that, having taken all factors into account, he had arranged the downfall of the Hegemony at the hands of his successors.
Shadow Weaver, after being soundly outwitted by Catra and Hordak, would have been imprisoned. In a last act of defiance, she would have held out against Empress Angella, only to be atomized. Only her mask would have remained, which Angella would present to Hordak. She would be mourned by Catra and Adora.
Bow would have created an elaborate ruse in which he seemed to have killed Glimmer, only for it to turn out to be Double Trouble disguised as Glimmer. He would have also revealed that his apparent murder of Light Hope was a falsehood, and he in reality saved her onto his data pad. Bow would have then taken control of the Hegemony and abandoned Angella in enemy territory, escaping and putting the falsely-dead Glimmer on the throne. Bow would have ensured he went down in history as a villain, but would have offered to let Glimmer marry Adora if she wanted. The three would conclude on the idea that if Adora returned, they would all marry one another.
Glimmer would have taken the throne of the Hegemony and become Empress. She would have wasted no time in issuing reforms and reparations, freeing the prisoners of the Hegemony and giving them jobs. After a hard-fought effort, she would have made peace with the Horde and achieved victory against the forces of Keldor.
Sea Hawk would have met a sad fate at the hands of Empress Angella in the Fright Zone due to his and Mermista’s repeated defiance of her. As he died, Mermista helpless to do anything but watch, he would have told Mermista to achieve justice for the commoners of the Hegemony.
Mermista would have sided with Angella after the battle of the Fright Zone, only to betray her in epic fashion, lighting the fleet of Salineas aflame as her boyfriend would have, with a dismissive comment of “Sea Hawk sends his regards.” She would have become a good queen to her people.
Frosta would have built a new world out of Snows, earning defense for her people and ultimately aiding the new Hegemony in its reforming.
Perfuma would have regained her voice in Glimmer’s rule, her first words being “Scorpia” after they fought in the Fright Zone. She would have pursued Scorpia and eventually married her, combining Plumeria with the Horde and helping in the rebuilding effort.
Netossa and Spinnerella would have seceded, aiding in repair efforts and helping as many refugees as they could after the war ended.
Scorpia would have become ruler of the Fright Zone, being a good ruler who reclaims her territory and ultimately initiates democratic elections, following in Hordak’s footsteps with an empathy-fueled twist. She would have been the greatest monarch Etheria had ever known.
Imp would have turned out not to be the only Imp; a series of multicolored Imps would have existed in the Fright Zone, created by Hordak for espionage and company purposes. They would have become vital assets to the Horde after their unification with Plumeria.
Angella would have revealed herself to command the Spell of Obtainment. After killing Shadow Weaver, she would have won her fight with Hordak only to be abandoned by her own forces after wasting time gloating rather than killing him. Outwitted, she would have summoned Keldor with the Heart of Etheria, who would have killed her out of disappointment before Adora’s eyes. Her delirious last words would have been “Adora... promise me something. Fix what I have broken. Amend my mistakes. Create a world where you can... be good to each other.”
Kyle would have turned out to be a Horde spy, and would have incapacitated Perfuma, saving Lonnie and Rogelio. After heartfelt apologies from both sides, they would have helped rebuild as a romantic polycule.
Double Trouble, after masquerading as Glimmer, would have switched sides repeatedly, verbally destroying Adora with their brutal breaking speeches and kickstarting her change of heart. Double Trouble would work for whichever faction was the most fun, until ultimately joining the Horde and bringing essential information on how to defeat Keldor.
Entrapta would have used her machines to aid in rebuilding both sides, alongside marrying Hordak. The forces of Dryl would have a vital role against Keldor, ultimately helping to save Etheria.
Prince Keldor would have been the story’s ultimate antagonist. Summoned to Etheria with a small army, he would have murdered Angella and immediately began commencing mass executions at every prison. Both sides would have allied against him, and he would have revealed he controlled a massive, slave-based trade empire throughout the known galaxy. Keldor would have threatened to control the entire galaxy if not stopped, but would have been slain by Catra and Adora just before he could wield the Heart of Etheria, although not without costing hundreds of lives in the war. After seeing real war at his hands for the first time in decades, Etheria would have come to understand the value of peace.
Major plot points would have been:
The Battle of the Fright Zone was an elaborate battle in which Hordak lured in the Hegemony’s forces, destroyed the land bridge linking the two continents and cutting off their way out. In it, Hordak and Angella would have had their climactic battle, which Angella won, Mermista would have lost Sea Hawk at Angella’s hands, Bow would have turned on Angella and seated Glimmer upon the throne, and Catra would have defeated Adora in a fight by summoning the power or She-Ra, proving Madam Razz’s prophecies true.
The Hegemonic Split saw the Hegemony divide into two factions: The Keldor-led Traditionalists and the Glimmer-led Reformists. The Reformists would have believed in rebuilding and repairing so as to create a beautiful new world, whereas the Traditionalists would have fought for nothing but the false ideals they clung to. The Reformists and Horde would have allied against Keldor’s army.
Keldor’s Arrival would have featured the coming of Prince Keldor and his army, who would have killed many people and reintroduced true war. He would have destroyed most of Plumeria, annihilated Angella’s loyalists, drove Adora to turn on him, and destroyed Bright Moon’s royal palace, before taking up a new throne as King of Etheria. Despite dying, he would have been defiant, exclaiming “I will not die as though some common coward! Break yourself upon me, She-Ra!”
The Rebuilding would have been the last two chapters of the story, showing how, after peace was found, both sides would have repaired Etheria together, using their combined power to fix the world they destroyed. The Hegemony would have slowly moved out of its classist ways, the Horde under Scorpia’s leadership would prosper and grow to be a home for the lost and outcasts, and Etheria would have seen a brand new day.
That is all. This was a fun project to work on, even if it ended sooner than intended, but TWN isn’t done releasing content quite yet. Keep an eye out for the next story in the Horror Horde duology, and the final three chapters of Safety In Her Arms (Which Are Also Her Hair).
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reading the prison notebooks. it’s about 600 pages but im probably going to read the most significant/important essays on history and hegemony
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In acquiring one’s conception of the world one always belongs to a particular grouping which is that of all social elements which share the same mode of thinking and acting. We are all conformists of some conformism or other, always man-in-the-mass or collective man. The question is this: of what historical type is the conformism, the mass humanity to which one belongs?
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Your tax dollars at work.
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If your reaction to seeing one religion oppressing another is to say “This is why religion needs to be abolished,” consider how that would look to the religions being abolished, whether it would look any different from the thing you’re criticizing
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