True Knights

True Knights

Just a picture/wallpaper I made with GIMP. I kinda was going for part of the style of the True Detective credits, so I called it True Knights. Picture is 1920×1080, so it’s big enough to serve as a wallpaper.

The Complexity of Simplicity

 I had a thought yesterday, there’s a complexity to simplicity. The thought first popped into my head because I was thinking about a picture I recently made. There’s an elegant simplicity to it, but there are a bunch of layers and parts to it that only I will see. I see the complexity, the minor details that only a few people will ever even notice and how it came together, but most people that see the picture will see something very simple. Then I realized that the thought is true for everything that is created and invented. I don’t know how a car works, but to the people building them and inventing and designing them they’re highly complex. For me though, it’s a matter of sitting down and turning a key. Similarly, everyone loves the minimalist, sleek design of OSX, but you know the designers that made the OS see all the little gradients and options, the complexity in the simplicity.  

George R.R. Martin – Forgotten

George R.R. Martin - Forgotten

I put this together with GIMP. I mixed a picture of some knights with a cool picture of some mountains and they came together in an almost True Detective-y feel (The title cards I mean) and then I went searching for a quote that fit and found this one. It’s always weird to make something that is by all appearances fan art when you’re not really a fan and this is no different. I just like the picture and I thought the quote fit. Image is 1920×1080.

Columbia River Crossing

Columbia River Crossing

I took this picture today of the Lewis and Clark Bridge on the Columbia river. It’s a passable, but not great picture that only managed to reach passable thanks to GIMP. I need a better camera.

Random Thought About Putin

I realized while I was falling asleep last night that Putin is a late 19th/early 20th century man stuck in the early 21st century. It explains everything if you expect him to think the way a Teddy Roosevelt type would. And yes, I do have trouble sleeping.  

Why I’m Not a Progressive

I want to make an argument that seems incredibly obvious to me, but seems to be lost in the various social justice, equality movements — And I mean lost, not just considered of relative unimportance because this is a fairly trivial point, but it’s important for understanding why there’s so much resistance to these movements. I’ve been thinking about that little addendum and I don’t think it’s fair to say it’s lost totally, but it is lost on many of the people who vocally support these movements. I’m not the first person to ever have this thought, I guess that’s my point.

People, especially so-called ‘Progressive’ white people, assume people who are resistant to equality are simply prejudiced, which no doubt many are, but if you consider their position it isn’t simply a matter of hating, disliking, or feeling better than some group, it’s about protecting their privilege — which is exactly the same as protecting their rights. Very few people willingly give up a right. And why would they? I don’t think it’s really fair to expect them to. The obvious exception to this is when people give up a right they realize they shouldn’t have, usually on moral grounds. It seems incredibly short-sighted and ethnocentric to expect people to willingly give up rights and privileges they don’t have a problem with. Beyond that, the left needs to focus more on the universal issue of economic justice instead of falling into the paradigm of identity politics.

The first point I probably need to address is my claim that protecting a privilege is the same a protecting a right. What is privilege? Well, from memory it’s an advantage available to one group or person and not others. I have the privilege of driving, as the manual reiterates regularly, but I also have the privilege of driving without being molested by the police unless I do something obviously illegal and dangerous — which isn’t a privilege everyone in the country can claim. What is a right? It’s something I’m allowed to do, usually granted by the social contract. I, along with everyone theoretically, have the right to write and publish this post. If I didn’t know the difference between a privilege and a right would I see any difference between being allowed to drive unmolested and publish this? Not really, they’re both something I’m allowed to do because of who and where I am. Sure, if I know people who don’t have the same privileges as me I might think ‘what the fuck,’ but it’s just as possible to know someone with different rights — well nearly, I’ll give you that everyone knows a woman at least. Do you know any felons? I do. Do you know anyone that only has a green card? I do. Do you know anyone from another country? I do. The balance of rights is different everywhere, just as is true of privilege. Before anyone yells, well posts, at me, I just want to reaffirm that I know from the perspective of someone who knows what a right and privilege are they are fundamentally different. To the average American — who, need I remind you, isn’t actually doing a whole lot better than you even with most of the privilege the world offers — a privilege is experienced in the same way a right is experienced. It’s just something I can do.

I began by arguing that expecting someone to give up a privilege or right willingly, especially if they don’t have a problem with it, is foolish and labeling them as prejudiced is shortsighted. I hope it’s obvious that people don’t just give up rights, but maybe not so let’s consider points in history where people lost a right. Think hard, it’s actually pretty damn hard to think of anywhere that people just willingly gave up rights. I mean in the a democratic context, obviously dictators and the like have come to power and curtailed rights with force of the state, but people rarely just say ‘hey, I don’t want free speech anymore!’ Progressives are usually people who have learned about the social structure of power in the country and realize that’s it’s fucked and unfair. The best of us, I’m not counting me in the this group, have just realized how fucked things are. Either way, Progressives have learned about the inequality in this country — we’ve been convinced of the immorality of much of the privilege we have — and are willing to give up some of our privilege. Is it fair to expect uneducated people to just give up privileges — which they perceive as rights — that they don’t even know they have? I don’t think ignorance is the entirety of the problem though. It’s just the biggest reason I think a lot of Progressives are assholes, there’s so much fucking arrogance on the left when it comes to being smarter, you’re not, and kinder, you’re also not, but there’s so little credence given to the problems people with privilege suffer. Do you really think life is significantly better for the white guy working a shitty minimum wage job in rural America than it is for people working minimum wage anywhere else? Sure, they don’t face the same judgment and discrimination while driving and looking for a housing, beyond the inherent discrimination that comes with poverty, and in any number of other circumstances, but they both slide the identical EBT card at the grocery store and they both worry about paying for heat and rent in the same month and they both live in drug ravaged apartment complexes. Being poor sucks regardless of race, gender, or any label used to divide us. I hate that poor white Americans have been convinced that minorities are the problem — and that shit isn’t an accident — but to judge them, to feel better than them isn’t any fucking better than being one of them; feeling the only little bit of pride they can because they work hard and deserve their food stamps and that Mexican family next door never seems to work and don’t deserve them. I don’t know if the modern Progressive movement in the U.S. is anything more than the tool for educated middle-class white people to feel better about themselves for knowing that people suffer; which is why I refuse to label myself a Progressive. It just hasn’t shown itself to be a crowd I want to be a member of. Sorry, you’re not fucking special, some of us realized that there’s no food in the house at a young age — we don’t need a college course and journal articles to realize there’s such a thing as food scarcity and deserts. We don’t need to learn that some people get followed around a store assuming they’re going to steal something, we experience that shit every time we go into a slightly nice store in our raggy clothes. Sorry, I got a little angrier than I wanted to there, my point is that kindness and education — and if those fail, simply pointing out the rich will usually get a poor person pointed in the right direction — is the right course, not feeling better than those ‘other’ white people.

More than anything I feel like Progressives put too much of their energy into identity politics and too little into the only issue that matters, economic justice. Do I want everyone to be treated equally? Absolutely, but I think by focusing on issues like race, privilege, abortion, gay marriage, and all the other distracting issues the right and the left are letting themselves be distracted while the rich exploit us. It’s ironic, I suppose, to believe that I’m smarter than most Progressives for not letting myself be distracted while lecturing them for judging poor white people, but I’m not going let that stop me. Progressives, you need to stop worrying about shit that isn’t economic inequality until we’re way closer to economic justice than we are now. People disagree about abortion and gay rights and most other social issues, for the worse in my opinion, but we all know life sucks for poor people. That’s why populism and Progressives were popular and effective in the late 19th century and early 20th century. They wanted to do things that helped poor farmers and poor immigrants in urban areas. We need to focus on economically helping everyone around us. Of course back then they convinced us Anglo-Saxons that Irish and Italians were evil Papists and the Chinese and Japanese of the West Coast worse. We’ve always been divided by the rich. There’s a reason the labor movement and socialism didn’t succeed in this country and it’s not for trying. This country has a history of being unnecessarily divided by issues that are far less important than throwing our capitalist overlords off our backs. We need to be better than identity politics on the left, our socialist fore-bearers knew that and we need to learn that lesson too.

Endnote: It’s probably best for me to admit that it’s far easier for me, as someone with most of the privilege that society bestows, to believe that economic justice is more important that social justice, but I fundamentally believe that social justice is impossible without economic justice and that any apparent social justice the elite have relinquished to us is an illusion to draw our eyes away from them. It’s the next morning while I’m typing this endnote, but just look at the Prison population. Slavery -> Jim Crow -> Prison, are we really all that different? Give people economic justice and the social and economic forces channeling young men into prison will mostly disappear. I’m not suggesting racism and prejudice aren’t issues, just that it seems incredibly difficult to be anti-racist while supporting an economic agenda that forces more people into poverty and prison.

End-Endnote: I wrote this a couple of days ago, but just yesterday I heard this interview which sums up most of my point.