The Bureaucratic Tyranny of DEI

A few days ago, Fox News posted an article, “Parents push back on American colleges promoting DEI initiatives: ‘DEI is dangerous’,” by Elizabeth Economou and Nicole Pelletiere. They write, “Some universities across America are requiring compliance from faculty in the form of signed diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) statements, as conditions for tenure or promotion—arguing that DEI across college campuses is a top priority.” Their article then sounds an optimistic note: “However, there may be growing pushback in some areas from faculty as well as from parents—who claim that the DEI agenda actually challenges the diversity of viewpoints and opinions of students within the college environment. Some say it also promotes a culture of fear and intimidation.”

With little clamoring from the public, DEI is now everywhere.

The DEI agenda is indeed becoming ubiquitous these days and, while there is some pushback from faculty, parents, and students, it is not nearly enough. The lack of resistance, especially among faculty and students, is in part because of the culture of fear and intimidation that controls discourse and interaction on the modern university campus. I work at a university, and the fear and intimidation is palpable.

I have written about DEI programming on Freedom and Reason (e.g., The Origins and Purpose of Racial Diversity Training Programs. It’s Not What you Think; Can I Get an “Amen” to That? No, But Here’s Some Fairy Dust). Many of us are required to attend DEI workshops or perform online trainings as a consequence of our necessary existence in helping, learning, and working spaces where DEI ideas and practices are the guiding objectives. The notice just went out at my institution that new staff and faculty are required to undergo DEI training. It is incorporated in the program of employee orientation. Given what universities are turning out, I am sure many of the new arrivals will be eager to express their wokism. For those who aren’t so enthusiastic, they will sit silently or forced into pronouncements of bad faith.

Achieving diversity at any institution, according to DEI doctrine, requires drawing employees, students, etc., from a myriad of identity groups based on gender, race, religion, etc. If, e.g., blacks are “underrepresented” at an organization, then administrators and managers will aggressively seek black applicants and prefer those applicants over white or East Asian applicants. The same is true for advancement and promotion. Managers are not looking for the most qualified individual, but instead looking for personifications of an abstract demographic category to build an institution that “looks like America,” or more ambitiously, since universities are international, that “looks like the world.” (As the most racially, ethnically, and religiously diverse society on the planet, America looks like the world.)

Management is also, it must be said, looking for personifications (it goes beyond tokenism) who agree with the progressive agenda of the institution. A black conservative or Republican is highly undesirable. (Is he even black?) It is important to recruit those who are also woke as they will promote the agenda and extend progressive hegemony in their “community.” This is functional, as Swedish Marxist and populist Malcom Kyeyune argues, as “progressive theories of race and gender” secure “influence, employment, and prestige for underemployed university graduates.” He characterizes wokism as the highest form of managerialism. (His participation in Oikos suggests he also understands wokism also as a denationalizing force destructive to individual liberty and civil rights.)

One of the objectives of DEI, whether explicit or not, is to achieve a reduction in the number of straight white men at an institution by replacing them with representatives of the various groups deemed significant and useful to the establishment justified by the problem of “underrepresentation.” East Asians are increasingly unwelcome to help fulfill the scheme, as well, as they tend to excel in various fields central to the work of the university. One finds justification for the diminishment of straight white men, hereafter SWMs, in institutional life in the claim, informed by postmodernism and critical theory (critical race, gender, and queer theories), as well as postcolonial ideology and third worldism, that SWMs reside at the intersection of oppressor categories. (The question of why oppressors are leading the way in disempowering themselves through the deployment of DEI rules left unexplained.)

Achieving equity, a euphemism for SWM depowerment, requires eliminating aggregate differences among individuals in bureaucratic life, a goal that often demands the elimination of any norm or standard that prevents individuals from achieving parity with SWMs, norms and standards said are erected by SWMs to achieve systemic privileges—cis privilege, male privilege, straight privilege, white privilege. However, since all modern institutions are structurally bureaucratic and thus necessarily order roles and statuses hierarchically, parity requires, independent of merit, deliberate promotion of those mired in the intersections of oppressed categories to stations with more power and prestige. In this fashion, members of minority groups possessing victim subjectivities are integrated into the structure of power where their loyalty to the goals of DEI becomes useful for tightening the hegemony of the command-and-control structure.

Inclusion means adopting interaction rituals that, on the surface, make members of various identity groups feel included (hence the inclusivity rhetoric—but we might also say “useful” and “welcome”) in a world unjustly run by SWMs, rules of engagement necessarily requiring that individuals accept the very ideology that, with required speech acts all members are expected to affirm, manufacture and sustain the identity groups based on the oppressor-oppression matrix. Thus by officially treating individuals as personifications of abstract groups, the system reifies the progressive ideology of identity. It is a desire to live in air castles that denies their lords.

This desire leads to am authoritarian end. Why, if employees and students are tolerating the behaviors (that do not physically harm or interfere with the liberty of others), identities, and opinions of others, is that not good enough? That is all that is required in a free society. Why must employees and students affirm behaviors, identities, and opinions with which they disagree? Perhaps the chief difference between the liberal and the authoritarian is that the liberal advocates toleration while insisting on cognitive liberty, while the authoritarian, intolerant of opinions with which he disagrees, desires to censor and compel the speech of others. This desire reveals a deep and pathological insecurity, no? Why is it so important to have others affirm one’s beliefs and behaviors? Is the authoritarian unsure of them? Are these delusions that require illusions to sustain? (Recall what S. Freud said about the difference there.) I think so.

What is the character of the modern bureaucratic institution? Is it liberal or authoritarian? A member of a modern organization shaped by DEI goals and objectives is compelled to adopt ideological, political, and subcultural ideas that he may in fact, and for good reason, oppose. These goals and objectives run contrary not only to the individual’s rational interests but to the principles upon which free and open societies are based. The demands of DEI force employees and participants to either change their way of thinking by affirming doctrine and rehearsing slogans drawn from it or to act in bad faith, thereby simulating adherence to doctrine.

The rules so imposed are arrived at neither democratically nor rationally, but developed by largely unelected committees, checked by administrators and managers, and imposed bureaucratically. Bureaucratic rationality, however instrumental its rules may appear, is very often and in an emergent way routinely highly irrational. Moreover, as I have shown on my blog, the theory upon which DEI programming is based is irrational (see Critical Race Theory: A New Racism; What Critical Race Theory Is and Isn’t. Spoiler Alert: It’s Racist and Not Marxist; Crenshaw Confesses: Critical Race Theory is About Racial Reckoning; Awakening to the Problem of the Awokening: Unreasonableness and Quasi-religious Standards).

Why would freedom of thought and opinion be constrained in the modern university? Isn’t free thought and debate the main purpose of the modern university—it’s raison d’etat? Did we not win the right to be free from compelled speech in centuries of struggle with authority and tradition? No, diversity in the DEI scheme does not mean diversity of ideas, or cognitive liberty, where individuals at an institution can refuse to affirm the ideology of the various groups represented in that space without discipline, ostracization, or punishment. Intellectual diversity is subordinated in this scheme, even negated by the principles of inclusion. If criticism of or non-adherence to an ideology, such as transgenderism, makes trans people feel excluded, then it follows from the goals of inclusivity that such criticism is to be excised from the common space, which may involve removing from that space the critic, redefined as a bigot. Criticism of ideology is replaced by affirmation of the ideology in question, which must be, without any attempt to achieve a consensus, accepted as truth.

Oftentimes, the ability of a critic of one ideology or another to make his criticisms is not only restricted on the grounds of specific form and content, but the meta-act of criticizing the system that disallows such criticisms (the sin I am committing in this blog) becomes itself the target of suppression. Individuals may be disciplined, ostracized, or punished for asking whether such a system that excludes a range of opinions or recruits, hires, and promotes people on the basis of their race, is fair and just. It is the same here as it is in strict religious systems where criticism of both the doctrine and the mindset and the ruleset that insist on adherence to doctrine is blasphemous and heretical.

That the practice of censoring heretics may not appear as rampant as the defenders of DEI demand it should be for it to be considered a real problem, self-censorship is rampant. What people talk about at social gatherings where they can let down their hair is a lot different than what people talk about at the office. They know—or at least believe—that if they were to express their real opinions publicly they would be risk desired committee and teaching assignments, positions and promotion, and their reputation.

For those of us who are genuinely on the left, it is crucial to understand that, in this way of thinking, equity does not mean achieving class or economic equality but rather obtaining arbitrary advancement in the bureaucratic hierarchy by virtue of membership in imagined communities, the relative aggregate inequalities of which are “explained” by the theorized matrix of group-level oppressions. If not designed to do this work (and I am convinced it is so designed), DEI programming functions to entrench corporate power by directing management to marginalize and make disreputable ordinary understanding and the majority standpoint.

For example, Chris Rufo has documented that, at San Diego Unified School District (and he has found this elsewhere), teachers and students are being taught that heteronormativity, the fact of natural history that heterosexual relations are normative, simply meaning standard and ordinary (not arbitrary), a necessary truth found throughout the animal kingdom of which human beings are a part (necessary for perpetuation of the various species), is “straight privilege.” This notion is especially absurd in light of the fact that same-sex activity is documented among thousands of other animal species. But the goal, or at least the function, of DEI ideology is depicting ordinary understanding as bigoted and hateful in order to marginalize the majority and fracture the proletariat. As a general rule, DEI program exaggerates, manufactures, and promotes inter-group antagonisms and ressentiment and then provides the means to act on those psychological feelings of envy and hatred.

DEI is authoritarian and oppressive because it orders it program with a narrow range of theories selected by elites from a plethora of theories explaining various societal inequities—and the theories selected are the worst of the plethora from an objective and scientific standpoint. However, they are selected not because they are rationally valid or enjoy empirical soundness, but because they advance the interests of the corporate state or some interest group, which for the former functions in much the same way as a king in securing popular legitimacy for his rule by tapping members of the various tribes to sit on his court.

Have readers ever considered this function of DEI before? When you start going through the program with the ethic of individualism in mind and determined to rationally adjudicate its logic, it becomes very obvious very quickly what the program is about: DEI is a corporate state strategy of control that integrates into the command structure individuals drawn from a myriad of groups each of which is created and sustained by the strategy itself. It works by reducing individuals to personifications of imagined communities and, on the basis of a “theory,” determines their “rightful” place in the order of things. It moreover requires all individuals accept the overarching ideology that rationalizes all this. In other words, it is a racist and sexist project governed by a racist and sexist ideology. And, like racism and sexism historically, it functions to divide the working class and advance the interests of elites.

The assumption that inequality in demographic representation is de facto racism has smuggled into recruitment a new racism where concrete individuals are regarded as personifications of abstract categories and discriminated against on this basis. This should be illegal (and the Supreme Court will take up the matter soon). But affirmative action is only one of the more explicit ways the corporate state transgresses the principles of liberalism. There are more subtle maneuvers.

Consider the lie that critical race theory is not being taught in our nation’s public schools. There is a slight-of-hand at work in this claim. Finding few lesson plans specifically identifying CRT as the learning objective, we are supposed to believe that CRT is not present in the curriculum. But CRT doesn’t need to be explicitly taught to be present in the curriculum. What is required is that CRT is part of the operating system of the school system. The curriculum is then developed consistent with the “normative” framework of the institution. And so it is (see The Ethic of Transparency in Public Education—and the Problem of Indoctrination; Banning CRT in Public Instruction). We see the same thing with normalization of gender and queer theory in public education (see If QAnon is Not a Deep State Construct, It Certainly Functions that Way; The LGBTQ Lobby Sues Florida). I raise the issue of CRT and other ideologies because these are in back of DEI training.

DEI is antithetical to the struggle for free and open societies based on the ethic of individualism and equality. DEI and its guiding ideologies are anti-Enlightenment and illiberal. They are anti-democratic and anti-republican. That DEI is a major component of the prevailing corporate operating system, which also marks the university (which pioneered it) indicates that the institutions of the West have been hijacked by a powerful force the goals of which are contrary to the principles establishing and sustaining western nation-states, especially the United States. These forces are not mysterious. It is the work of transnational corporate power.

* * *

“Disagreement is not oppression. Argument is not assault. Words, even provocative and repugnant ones, are not violence. The answer to speech we do not like is more speech.” —Douglas Murray

Have you ever wonder how society became confused about the role of words in our lives? The errors that disagreement is oppression, argument is assault, and words are violence are, in part, the result of a theory derived from literary thinking wherein words do the work of actions in the minds of readers who have difficulty living in the real world. It may be said that words do violence to one thing or another, but words don’t do actual violence. The figurative is not real. However, those who live in fictional worlds find the things in it real.

It is very much the same with religious doctrine. This is why challenging the speech of the (quasi)religiously-minded produces such a profound reaction—up to and including actual violence. Short of that, excommunication, ostracization, and disciplinary action.

Some Sunday Thoughts: Speech, Progressivism, mRNA shots, and FBI Plots

“Disagreement is not oppression. Argument is not assault. Words, even provocative and repugnant ones, are not violence. The answer to speech we do not like is more speech.” —Douglas Murray

Here with some Sunday thoughts. There is so much that can be thunk. First up are some of the things I am not going to talk about.

The Biden Administration has quietly resumed building the wall at the southern border. Biden’s press secretary characterized it as cleaning up the mess Biden’s predecessor left.

The mayor of Washington DC has called out the National Guard to deal with the problem of illegal aliens who have been arriving in large numbers to her city on busses. Other cities are also experience large influxes of illegal aliens.

The economy is in recession, but the Biden Administration changed the definition of that term (and so did Wikipedia for a short time), so it’s okay.

Speaking of changing definitions, Merriam-Webster has changed the definition of “girl.” A girl is now “a person whose gender identity is female.” While they were at it, they changed the definition of “female,” too. A female is now a person “having a gender identity that is the opposite of male.”

And speaking of gender identity, more sports associations are banning transwomen in female sports.

* * *

I have been involved in a long twitter thread started by Laurence Fox:

The point of contention in the thread is free speech. I defended free speech as a human right. Humans rights, the counter ran, are invented by law, so their restriction is tautological.

“If rights are invented,” I pointed out, “then they can be anything—even their opposite.” I them demonstrated how one can know that rights are a priori: “There is no reason to deny women the franchise, therefore they must be allowed equal access to the ballot box. Women, therefore, a priori, possess the right to vote. The law denies—not gives—them that right.”

There was a lot more to back-and-forth, but I will summarize my argument and move one: Humans come with rights. See Maslow’s hierarchy. Human nature. Natural history. Law does not create rights. Rights are not given by men. Rights are discovered and recognized. Or denied. Rights were not established by the United Nations in 1948 or the United States in 1789. They are progressively found and articulated in law and defended by government—if law and government are just.

The notion that rights are invented is a dangerous subjectivist game with very real consequences. As I note in a recent blog, The Behemoth Returns: The Nazis Racialized Everything, it is a characteristic of National Socialism to see the law as politically constructed, unmoored to any universal ethical or moral system. This makes human rights merely a tool of social control.

* * *

Some on the left appeal to populism and progressivism in the same breath. They used to do it a lot more. Awareness that populism comes along with nationalism has causes a general distaste for the term. However, progressivism was invented to supplant populism. And, so far, progressivism has been winning.

Want to know why the left today pushes the agenda of the corporate state? Progressivism. The problem with the left is not, as the conservative believes, creeping socialism or communism. The problem is that progressivism cannot lift up working people because it was evolved to do the opposite.

I have a blog pending on this topic, but it may be a while before I post it, so this earlier blog will have to tie you over: Why I am not a Progressive.

* * *

I am Dr. Ian Malcolm.

The “explanation” for the marked increase in “unexplained” (non-COVID-19) deaths (heart attacks and strokes) among 18-49 year olds now appears to be “cold showers. These deaths have nothing to do with being injected with the spike protein associated with cardiovascular trauma. Right. Textbook instantiation of “blame the victim.” Nobody forces you to take a “cold shower.”

Okay, so tell your loved ones in this age cohort—especially if they’re young men—to avoid “cold showers.” Make sure you to enlighten them about euphemism while you’re at it. Buried lede: At least the corporate media and sellout physicians and scientists are admitting that it’s not just selective attention that’s causing all these young healthy people to drop dead.

(With all the synthetic estrogens in the environment, why do young people even need cold showers?)

It will be damn hard for many more than the tens of millions who have expressed regret at taking the shots and repeating the corporate state narrative to admit regret after they fell for the deception hook, line, and sinker. Admitting regret reveals gullibility. Gullibility indicates a larger judgment problem. Moreover, they’d have to admit that the Dr. Ian Malcolms of the world were right after all. Good Lord, we can’t give those insufferable skeptics any encouragement.

I knew from the beginning the medical-industrial complex and the administrative state were lying and that they will keep on lying. It has been fascinating to watch people around me buy into obvious lies and then scold those who told the truth. Of course people can’t admit they were wrong. Their gullibility goes to judgment.

* * *

I applaud Republicans for exposing the persistent FBI strategy of manufacturing the threat of “white supremacy” by entrapping dumb and confused Americans in plots to commit domestic terrorism hatched and bankrolled by the FBI themselves. Remember how outraged progressives were when the FBI did this to Islamists? They don’t care at all if the targets of FBI machinations are Christians conservatives.

What we need to know (and there is evidence indicating this) is whether and to the extent January 6, 2021 was at least in part an DHS/FBI operation. But how can we in the context of a hearing that does not follow the basis rules of rationally adjudicating facts?

The establishment, including many Republicans (Liz Cheney, most prominently), does not care about the truth. The establishment only cares about thwarting the populist-nationalist movement, because the movement threatens the corporate state and its ambitions.

* * *

What Lies Behind the Popular Reracialization of the Human Population?

Remember Casey Kasem? The voice of Shaggy on Scooby Doo? Those sweet tones lulled you to sleep as a kid—not the cartoon character, but American Top 40. You always knew Kasem was white. His full name was Kemal Amin Kasem. He was Lebanese Druze. Does his Middle Eastern origin make him nonwhite? Of course not. Remember Jamie Farr? Maxwell Q. Klinger, the crossdressing corporal from M.A.S.H.? Farr was Lebanese, too. But you also always saw him as white. To be sure, Farr was thought by many to be “ethnic.” But, then, most Americans are in some sense ethnic. Italian. Jewish. Greek. Polish. German. If assimilation works right, those differences go away over time. But all the people remain racially white.

Casey Kasem was the original host American Top 40.

As I explained in a recent blog, Almost Everybody in the Bible is White, I agree with the late Harvard professor Richard Lewontin that race is not really about types but about ancestry. Offspring look like their parents and, given thousands of years of relative geographical and sociocultural independence, albeit fuzzy around the margins thanks to admixture, inherited traits cluster. However, they do so in a manner that corresponds with long-standing intuitive understandings of racial groups operationalized by physical anthropologists in the twentieth century: Amerindian, Australoid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid—with the last three groups comprising most of the world’s population. So the matter is not as straightforward as the “race is a social construction” line would have it.

I have argued in the past that, if racial is a social construction, then we should stop socially constructing it. However I think about the matter today, I still don’t care personally whether Kasem and Farr are white in some essential way. I never thought about it growing up. In fact, by the 1970s, most people didn’t think much about race at all. But it appears that people today are obsessed by race, so much so that they feel the need to center it and engage in a project to reracialize the world’s population. That there is a project underway to disrupt common-sense understanding that Arabs, Indians, Jews, and Hispanics are for the most part white is undeniable. You don’t have to be obsessed with essentialist notions of race to wonder what’s up with that.

In this blog, which is a followup to Almost Everybody in the Bible is White, I argue that the reracialization of selected world populations, in particular the majorities of peoples of West Eurasia and Central and South America, functions as a gaslighting project with two ulterior motives: (1) redefinition of Western resistance to foreign culture as not merely nativist but racist (of course the negative connotations nativism has assumed does much of this work itself); (2) the reflexive portrayal of Western civilization as intrinsically white supremacist and the spread and entrenchment of its ideals, values, and norms as representing the imperialist expansion of white-racial power.

Using this frame, the rational humanism that conceptualizes humans as individuals equal in moral worth is supplanted by romantic schemes depicting humans as personifications of abstract demographic and racial categories arrayed in a hierarchy of oppressed and oppressor. Moreover, race and culture are conflated. Even science is under attack, with the postmodernist offering up “indigenous” and “marginalized” “ways of knowing” as alternatives to fact and reason, which the disaffected zealously put central to a leftwing identitarian ideology.

The war on the West is prosecuted with an arsenal of lies and half-truths—and that’s why I care about this issue. Race could disappear tomorrow for the right reasons, namely colorblindness and individualism, and I would be ecstatic. But when race is used as a weapon to advance racism in another form, I can’t standby. And racism in another form is, as I have documented in numerous blogs on my Freedom and Reason, is what antiracism represents. As somebody who has opposed racism his entire life, I have to be concerned about this. Indeed, I would describe my ethic as “antiracism,” except that today’s antiracism is a euphemism for anti-white. (See Is There Systemic Anti-White Racism? and The Metaphysics of the Antiracist Inquisition.)

We see growing awareness of the racism against whites. Douglas Murray tells Lex Fridman in a recent interview concerning his book, The War on the West, “that today in America the only group you’re actually allowed to be consistently vilely racist against are white people. If you say disgusting things about black people in America in 2022 you will be over. You will be over. If you decide to talk about people’s white tears, their white female tears, their white guilt, their white privilege, their white rage, and all these other pseudo-pathologizing terms, you’ll be just fine. You could be the Chairman of Joint Chief of Staff. You could lecture at Yale University. Absolutely fine. And the white people are going to have to suck that up as if that’s fine because there was racism in another direction in the past.” (I have been on to this for some time. See Reparations and Blood Guilt; For the Good of Your Soul: Tribal Stigma and the God of Reparations; A specter is haunting America—the specter of reparations.)

I feel the need to define a few terms before proceeding. Reracialization is when a population known to be of one race, for example, white, is redefined to appear as nonwhite, often in unusual ways, such as redefining culture or, more specifically, ethnicity as race, as in the cases of Arabs and Hispanics, or identifying faith in a religious doctrine as a differentiating racial types, as in the case of Muslims. (See (“Race, Ethnicity, Religion, and the Problem of Conceptual Conflation and Inflation”; “Muslims are Not a Race. So why are Academics and Journalists Treating Them as if They Were?” “Sinead O’Connor and the Conflation of Race and Religion.”)

To be sure, races may be redefined over lengthy periods of time; however, when race is redefined over a relatively short period of time by elite and popular forces hailing from a particular political-ideological framework, it is reasonable to assume an agenda. Moreover, while concepts may make non-things appear real, they do not in the final analysis create reality; whatever a people may call something does not change what it is. A man remains an adult human male regardless of whether the Merriam-Webster dictionary redefines “male” as a person who identifies as such. Being a male, whatever word one wishes to use, is ultimately defined by natural history. Unless, of course, one is a postmodernist, in which case he is useless as a source of knowledge.

Gaslighting is when a person or persons attempts to disrupt common sense understandings by disordering perceived reality. When all your life you have understood some thing or situation in a certain way and would continue to understand that thing or situation that way but for efforts to disrupt your understandings, then either you’re being enlightened or you’re being gaslit. The difference depends on whether there is a rational or empirical reason for disrupting common sense understandings, such as in educating a person with knowledge, i.e. validated or verified belief, serving greater benevolent interests, or whether the disruption is motivated by some ideological or ulterior purpose, such as to deceive or manipulate for destructive or selfish reasons. (I have written quite a bit on this. See, e.g., Intelligent, well-meaning, young people are willing to call white black and The Future of a Delusion: Mass Formation Psychosis and the Fetish of Corporate Statism.)

Race, however much the prevailing typology is supported by evidence, is neither a matter of genotype nor indicates essence. The claim that the races ascertained through common sense represent distinct genotypes of the human species (apart from rare anomalies, there are only two genotypes in our species, namely female and and male), has been debunked by the scientific fields of genetics and physical anthropology. There are indeed clusters of phenotypic constellations, but the differences are small. This does not, however, necessary mean the differences are insignificant (we want to avoid the Lewontin fallacy), but it does mean that the differences do not amount to distinct genotypes. Race, if we wish to keep the term, refers to factors revealed by statistical analysis of genetic traits (factor analysis).

The claim that race is the manifestation of an essence of one sort or another is a mystification that comes with a catalog of irrationalisms, such as the fallacy of cultural appropriation. Again, what we call race is the product of a long historical practice of categorizations organized around selected phenotypic characteristics acquired through inheritance of allele pairs across geographical areas. We are beneath the skin and hair and behind the color of our eyes the same with the same basic needs of happiness, liberty, life, and love. It follows that culture is neither produced by nor belongs to any particular race. Our outward appearances may not be pleasing to all who scan us, but we are not more or less on account of them. Moreover, the averages differences and overlapping distribution between racial groups are abstractions. Concrete individuals may be anything and each has his own intrinsic worth.

What we have in a common-sense fashion referred to as race all these years is thus actually reference to ancestry (see Richard Lewontin’s “Confusion About Human Races”). Those with white or light skin, anomalies aside, are descended from those who had white or light skin in the past. Of course, different races may have light skin. Or dark skin. There are individuals on the Indian subcontinent who are dark. A team of geneticists led by Sarah Tishkoff has documented a remarkable amount of variation of skin color within Africa, ranging from skin as light as some Asians to the darkest skin found in the world (see The varying skin colors of Africa: light, dark, and all in between). There are light-skinned people in the West and in the East who are said to be of different races. However, majorities in North Africa, Western Asia (ethnic Arabs), Central Asia, and much of South Asia, Europe, and North, Central, and South America (descendants of ethnically Europeans) with light skin have historically been classified as white. Light-skinned East Asians have not been, but are often treated as such either analogically in hierarchies or similarly in Western societies.

Factor analysis finds that phenotypic traits cluster consistent with historically intuitive conceptions of race

There is a conversation that can be had about the history of race as a concept in the development of science and the current notion of clines as described by scientists that I will leave to one side except to express concern that such a standard might become in the hands of the new racialists a tool to further Balkanize populations. I discuss these matters in other entries on Freedom and Reason, but it should suffice to reiterate that we know from large-scale populations genetics studies, archeology, and physical anthropology that our common sense notions of race align with the geographical distribution of phenotypic features. It is not likely that, despite common sense understandings existing on a different plane from scientific ones, populations around the world, operating from varied worldviews, would arrive at a simultaneously false yet uniformly common understanding of race. The evidence would have to be radically different from what we know or what we expect to undermine those common-sense understandings.

As noted earlier, the inspiration for this blog entry is a meme claiming that nobody in the Bible was white. As if this “truth” is common knowledge among those who are not made stupid by white supremacy, something that the wise meme-maker already in the know already know, the meme obnoxiously condescends: “Take all the time you need.”

Popular meme on Facebook.

I encounter this argument quite frequently. Here is a recent example from the Mission Resource Network (MRN): “Why There are No White People in the Bible.” The article gives itself away in the opening paragraphs. “Did you know there are no white people in the Bible? Does that surprise you? It’s true, I assure you. Not Adam, Abraham, Moses, Deborah, David, Elijah, Jezebel, Daniel, Jesus, Peter, Paul, or even Lydia or the church in Rome were white. Most of the people in the Bible were Jews of middle eastern origin. The few people in the Bible from the region we now call Europe may have had light-colored skin and would be considered white today, but they were not white in their day.”

The author of that MRN essay, Dan Bouchelle, the president of the organization, offers this as his reason for making the claim: “How can I say this? Because the concept of whiteness didn’t exist yet.” Whether he knows it or not, Bouchelle is making a postmodernist move, one that means to deny the existence of some thing or situation by noting that it was not known as then by the name it goes by now, as if something exists only because language creates it—and, moreover, that language is but the oppressive expression of power asymmetry. If people of today were able to time travel, would they not find that the people living in “the region we now call Europe” were white? Or, by some yet unidentified process underpinning an unobserved phenomenon, would their minds be caused to forget the common racial terms we use to describe people? This is a bizarre conclusion, but one nonetheless following from the claims made in the essay.

The reality is that reality is not called into existence by words. That is the work of religious mentality. If you were to time travel to the Levant of biblical times and see people you would recognize as white, then those are white people. Of course. They don’t suddenly become not white because somebody told you that these people did not define themselves as white. Moreover, the color “white” is a shorthand for the constellation of phenotypic traits identified as caucasian, which, as I have documented, covers West Eurasia (as far east as the Indian subcontinent) and North Africa. The “There are No White People in the Bible” thesis could not be more incorrect from a scientific standpoint—or a common sense one.

Ashkenazi Jews were white Europeans, many of whom were blonder than the Nazis who exterminated them. This did not make the Nazis less white.

This rhetorical move does not save Bouchelle (it couldn’t anyway) from the claims he made in the essay regarding middle eastern Jews and light-skinned Europeans. As I explain in Almost Everybody in the Bible is White, the natural history of skin color runs in the other direction. It is a common error to assume that light-skin originates in Europe. Light skin among those understood to be white (however they may have been understood in the past) are the result of mutation and natural selection, migration patterns, and large-scale changes in food production in the Fertile Crescent, an area that extends from Northeast Africa through Mesopotamia in Southwestern Asia. This history means that white skin first appears in the geographical area from which the myths taken up by the ancient Hebrews lived and spread to Europe from there.

If white skin originated in the Levant, which all archeological and anthropological evidence demonstrates, confirmed by population genetics studies, then the Hebrews, the focal tribe of the Bible, and the tribes around them, were white people, differentiated in their day from those who were not—those in East Asia and in Sub-Saharan Africa (they could not have known about the Amerindian). The white farmers of the Levant migrated to Europe, spreading the genes for white skin and other phenotypic traits there. The original inhabitants of Europe, those who had not developed large-scale agriculture, were dark-skinned (it is likely that those who built Stonehenge, for example, where dark-skinned). Over time, through assimilation, conquest, and interbreeding, dark-skinned Europeans were replaced by light-skinned people. The fact is that, while Abraham, Isaac, Moses, and, yes, even Jesus, may be (and very likely are) mythical figures, they would have been, were their historicity actual (which is doubtful), white.

Those of us who have always known that the leading characters in the biblical stories we read or heard as children were white are not wrong. There is no rational or empirical reason to suggest we were. So why the gaslighting? Our common-sense understandings are not being disrupted to enlighten us. Except for the attempt to purge scientific language of terms disliked by woke progressives, the science hasn’t changed. If anything, advancements in genetics and biomedicine are strengthening claims about human variation (which is why I do not as easily as I did in the past reduce race to social construction). Those who make and spread these memes and write and promote these essays do not have privileged knowledge. Their condescension is not justified. Either they are ignorant themselves or they are gaslighting those they mean to manipulate. Manipulate to what end? We’re coming to that now.

Bouchelle’s motive is ostensibly a religious one: “Jesus wasn’t white. Seventy percent of Christians globally are not white. And all people matter equally to our creator.” In fact, of the approximately 2.2 million Christians in the world, more than 60 percent of them are white. I doubt those who make these arguments or most of those who share them are ignorant of this fact. They have reasons, and Bouchelle’s reasons does not exhaust the catalog. At the very least, the reracialization of selected human populations has functions and consequences. Bouchelle’s argument is therefore essentially political. There are two reasons that emerge from this effort to gaslight the world that strongly suggest that reracialization is not being pursued for the sake of enlightenment (in which case it would still be wrong).

First, it is not the case that the West became the most highly developed civilization in world history because the people there are white. As documented, Europe became white with the westward migration of near eastern farmers from the Fertile Crescent. It is thus the case that modern Europeans are white, as are the peoples of North Africa and Southwest Asia, etc., because they descended from those with white skin. The West developed for many reasons, including norms and values associated with European culture. Only white supremacists claim it is the result of racial superiority, and white supremacists are a vanishing segment of western populations.

Sumerians, the first civilized people, were white. But they were not civilized because of their skin color.

But critics of the West, on the basis of the skin color of Europeans, claim that Western civilization and its values represent white supremacy. The spread of Western ideals around the world are interpreted not as the great civilizing force in world history that developed humanity, abolishing slavery, liberating women, freeing people from grinding poverty and autocratic rule, etcetera, but instead as racist colonialism—even an instantiation of metaphysical evil. It is true what Murray says: anti-white racism is deep and dangerous. Yet this is the standard history now being taught in the Western university; it is no accident that this interpretation is widespread. And this interpretation has been pushed down into public education. Our children are being taught race hatred and the white kids in particular self-loathing.

What is the function of all this? Is it no obvious? To delegitimize the civilization that gave the world the modern nation-state with its democratic-republican form of government, and its liberal values of humanism and secularism, by claiming that it is the work of the white race which carries in its heart great evil. Why would such a thing be desired? In order to advance the globalization project of denationalizing the West while transnationalizing corporate power. Thus nationalism, that great detribalizing force that liberated humanity from ancient institutions, becomes redefined as a racist and oppressive force that itself warrants dismantling.

In contrast, those ancient institutions supplanted by western norms and values become exoticized, heroized, and romanticized, and its backwards-kept populations portrayed as the racialized victims owed the wealth of the West “stolen” by the “white oppressor.” The notion that the wealth and progress produced by the ingenuity not of white people but of Europeans is portrayed as an expression of eurocentrism, of racist chauvinism. To avoid implicating all Eurasian populations, non-European whites are redefined as non-white. What are they? Nobody can answer that question. They have become either raceless or their geographic location or ethnic and religious identities are substituted.

But race is not culture. Race is not ethnicity. European culture is superior to other cultures not because most of its population is white, but because it does a better job of realizing, among other things, human rights. If this culture were the product of whiteness, then why is the Middle East so underdeveloped? (The Third Worldist has a quick answer, and it is not entirely wrong, but I assure you that it will fail to account for the atavistic force of Islam. Such is ideology.)

In light of all this, since the antiracists are representing not only nonwhites, but also whites in much of Africa, Asia, and the Americas, there is a need to redefine these white populations as nonwhite in order to divide the world in a clean way: Europe, with its nation-states modeling and serving prominent role in the interstate system, recast as the source and sole expression of white supremacy, over against the rest of the world, over against the oppressed masses, so oppressed because they are not white, having been redefined as such.

We are thus witnessing to the emergence of a false ideology that serves the transnationalization project. It should not escape anyone’s attention that you are to pay attention to all this and not the fact of world economic forces who establish the class systems that finds the vast majority of us, whatever our racial identity, as exploited labor or labor made redundant by technological development—a development not made available to the masses to end their suffering, but to stuff the coffers of those who run the system. And those who run the system are the very ones who are gaslighting the masses.

The strategy to change the dynamic is to feed resentment, to provoke reracialized populations to demand racial reparations for colonialism, for Europe and the United States open their borders to the world, for example, in the European case, Arab populations that are overwhelmingly Muslim. The end goal is to transfer the wealth of the West to the transnational administrative state. European elites, convinced of antiracist revisionism, have opened their borders, much to the suffering of Europeans. When elites and masses seek to restrict the flows because of the chaos it brings even to their doorstep, they are accused of racism. Why? Because they are closing the borders to nonwhites? No. They’re closing the borders to culture-bearers who refuse to assimilate to western norms and values who will do the work they used to do. But reracialization permits the recasting of resistance to incompatible culture and to economic displacement as racism.

Thus we see the hypocritical demand that the world observe the right of nonwhites to cultural integrity, whether in their own nations or as minorities in western nations, while at the same time depictions of the demand for the same right to cultural integrity of whites as racist and chauvinist. Europeans have no right to their culture because they’re white. This is racism. This racism incentivizes groups external and internal to the West to redefine their populations as nonwhite in order to portray themselves of victims of racist colonialism (external and internal) and justifying their demand that Europe given them the things they want, especially access to the wealth produced by other people. The project is expressed in the West as postcolonialism, third-worldism, critical race theory, etc., all of this underpinned by cultural and moral relativism relativism, cultural pluralism, postmodernism, and New Left critical theory.

This portrayal of race and history obscures deep truths about the world. The first is the role of Western culture in the development across economic, legal, moral, and political domains throughout the world. The modern nation-state and human rights are but a couple of these developments. Reaching the zenith of historical and social development testifies to the superiority of western norms and values. The second deep truth is the role of capitalism, a class system organized on the basis of the private ownership and control of the means of production for purposes of profit generation and capitalist accumulation, in the development and expansion of western culture, the good and the bad of it. Capitalism is an economic force that is at once founded upon the exploitation of human labor while raising the living standards of the majority of people incorporated in the system.

This is the real struggle: the struggle of the peoples of the world against transnational corporate capitalism. The real struggle, if it is just, requires democratization of the means of production in the context of responsive nation-states in an international liberal order that preserves the values and practices of civic nationalism, equality before the law, humanism, individualism, liberalism, republicanism, and secularism. The reracialization project functions to derail the development of the shared proletarian consciousness and politics that threatens the power of corporate elites.

By disrupting common-sense understandings and manufacturing and promoting antagonisms based on racial animosity, corporate elites rule via a divide-and-conquer strategy. Because the most developed regions of the world are majority white, shrinking the numbers of those understood as such, turning white people into a pariah, incentivizing populations to escape association with such a pariah, the transnational powers-that-be seek to denationalize the trans-Atlantic system and appropriate its technology and wealth.

When I was in graduate school in the 1990s, the prevailing (and I still believe correct) explanation for global inequality and the dynamic of development and underdevelopment identified the capitalist mode of production and its attendant class system as the primary causal forces. From the standpoint of the materialist conception of history, the history of the racialization of human populations was theorized as false consciousness justifying exploitative economic relations.

I became interested in the possibility of a synthesis of historical materialism and critical race theory in which the latter would be articulated in language indicating the ontological status of the former. I was drawn to this synthesis because, as I was preparing the proposal for my dissertation, I became increasingly frustrated with description of racism as largely ideological (see the work of Barbara Fields, whom I now believe to have been correct) and endeavored instead to conceptualize racism as a material relation in the manner of social class. I used the model in my dissertation, which I successfully defended in the summer of 2000, a two-volume 800-plus page study of America’s history of class, race, and criminal justice.

However, as time went on, it became increasingly clear that this synthesis confused categories of things and, moreover, lacked empirical support, especially with respect to criminal justice. Whereas economic modes of production and social class relations are material, objective, oppressive, and protected in law, oppression on the basis of race had been abolished in law and the explanation for inequality along lines of race as the work of race oppression was not compelling; too many other factors (breakdown of family structure, culture of idleness and violence, neighborhood disorganization, progressive politics) were in play.

The core problem in theorizing inequality today is the centering of race in the explanation, a centering that works to obscure the actual source of exploitative and oppressive social relations: the system of social class. I write about this in my essay The New Left’s War on Imaginary Structures of Oppression in Order to Hide the Real Ones. This problem is why I write so much about the problem of racism.

“DeSantis is a Nazi” and the Hysterical Left’s Anti-Working Class Politics

“The crisis of education in the United States presents not only a danger to American democracy, but also the ideological and structural foundations for the emergence of a fascist state.” —Henry Giroux

“If history weren’t so important, people wouldn’t get so upset by it.” —Howard Zinn

A few days ago, Henry Giroux published an essay, “The Nazification of American Education,” in Counterpunch that strongly implies that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a Nazi. Giroux, a leading proponent of critical pedagogy and critical theory (the 1960s deviation), the intersection at which academics and administrators intensely and incessantly toil to infuse educational practices with anti-Western sentiment and ressentiment, finds in DeSantis a personification of the emerging fascist state. The tone of Giroux’s essay is hysterical—as in confused and delusional; the argument is at every point absurd and hyperbolic.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

To begin with the obvious, if teaching students about the ideals and deeds of the United States amounts to the “nazification of public education,” then one must presuppose that the historic character of the United States is in some substantial fashion National Socialist. Of course, in creed and accomplishment, the United States has not historically been a National Socialist endeavor—at least not before the rise of the corporate state. America was founded by liberals as a secular republic with an emphasis on individual rights and liberties. How can teaching students to appreciate American values and celebrate its successes—abolishing absolutism, ending slavery, empowering women, defeating National Socialism on the world stage, to name but a few—in any way represent “nazification of public education”? It just doesn’t follow.

What a nasty assumption at work in Giroux’s essay. It’s an assumption that runs throughout his popular writing.

Despite having the evidence directly in front of him, and (not meaning to patronize), being a smart man, Giroux nonetheless manages to mentally invert the situation. “Nazi education was designed to mold children rather than educate them,” he writes. “The Nazi educational system was deeply anti-intellectual and created modes of pedagogy that undermined the ability of students to think for themselves.” Moreover, Giroux recognizes that the Nazis used the educational system to weaponize identitarian division in order to advance hate and resentment of certain racial and ethnic groups. All true.

But is it not plainly the case that the progressive takeover of education is fundamentally marked by divisions along identitarian lines and resentment among groups, especially focusing on one racial group in particular and blaming it for a myriad of manufactured grievances? (See Is There Systemic Anti-White Racism? Reparations and Blood Guilt; The Metaphysics of the Antiracist Inquisition; Debunking a Sacred Text in the Church of IdentitarianismYou are Broken. We Will Fix YouNot All White People Are RacistThe Psychological Wages of Antiracism.) Have we not seen the engineering of a comprehensive process to mold children in the spirit of critical gender and race theory? (Banning CRT in Public Instruction.) Are these not the ends of Giroux’s critical pedagogy? Clearly the current style of public education is not to encourage the nation’s youth to think for itself, but to stuff full its head opinions derived from particular standpoints—“theories” they call them—selected from a myriad of explanations about why the world appears this way or that.

It really isn’t that hard to stand back just a bit and see that it’s the agenda of woke progressivism that moves with the spirit of National Socialism. Yet Giroux thinks it’s the other way around. He can’t take that step back to gain perspective. He doesn’t even understand his source material, which is here critical theory. Giroux believes that families, mostly proletarian, and legislatures opposing the indoctrination of their children in critical race and gender theory—the goal of which is to transgress the norms and values of western civilization and the liberal ordering of social life—is fascistic and not the corporate state takeover of public education because he is invested in promulgating the ideology that legitimizes these arrangements. Giroux is a functionary for the technocratic apparatus, a tool of the administrative state. It is with considerable irony, then, that Giroux, well known for his concern for public education in the face of neoliberalism, works against his explicit standpoint by characterizing the populist movement against neoliberalism as fascistic.

His error occurs in part because of misunderstandings of National Socialism and the theory of it offered in the writings of leading Frankfurt School scholars before the New Left and postmodernist deviations. It’s almost as if he’s running a misdirection play for the establishment, distracting the masses from the administrative and technocratic systems commanding their time and minds. Perhaps he is. In a recent interview with Lex Fridman discussing his latest book, The War on the West, Douglas Murray responds to Fridman musing about identiarianism working from some ulterior motive by suggesting that indeed it is. It is, after all, a characteristic of what Franz Neumann describes in Behemoth as “totalitarian monopoly capitalism” to fracture the proletariat through division. (See The Behemoth Returns: The Nazis Racialized Everything. So Do CRTs; Totalitarian Monopoly Capitalism: Fascism Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.)

Giroux writes that, under Nazism, “Race consciousness was a crucial pedagogical goal which was used to both unify young people and elicit political loyalty based on national honor and a ‘budding nationalistic fanaticism.’” Giroux appears oblivious to the “crucial pedagogical goal” of indoctrinating America’s youth in critical race and gender theory to both divide the people and “elicit political loyalty” to the corporate state and the transnationalist methods of cultural pluralism and globalization by rewarding those who toe the ideological line. Giroux really can’t see that the greatest source of race consciousness in today’s America comes from his side? (I have written extensively on this subject on Freedom and Reason. See Critical Race Theory: A New Racism; What Critical Race Theory Is and Isn’t. Spoiler Alert: It’s Racist and Not Marxist; Crenshaw Confesses: Critical Race Theory is About Racial Reckoning; Banning CRT in Public Instruction; Awakening to the Problem of the Awokening: Unreasonableness and Quasi-religious Standards.)

In 1959, in “The Meaning of Working Through the Past,” Theodor Adorno writes, “I consider the survival of National Socialism within democracy to be potentially more menacing than the survival of fascist tendencies against democracy.” Although Adorno is fascinated by the authoritarian personality found among conservative thinkers and concerned about the implications (see The Authoritarian Personality), the body of his work, succinctly wrapped in this quote, indicates that he wasn’t as worried about the antidemocratic forces at the margins of society (which doesn’t in any case accurately characterize the ever-growing populist-nationalist movement that threatens to derail the new world order transnationalists are establishing) as he was about the antidemocratic and illiberal corporate state tendencies animating what Adorno referred to as the “administered world,” an intrinsically authoritarian situation emerging from technocratic rationality antithetical to egalitarianism and individual liberty.

Adorno understood, as did C. Wright Mills (see The Power Elite and The Causes of World War Three) and others, that the real fascistic threat in the post-war period emerges from the guts of corporate bureaucratic arrangements, with its social logic pressed into the prevailing cultural and educational institutions, not from the handful of Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who show up with street corners with “shirts, stickers, and flags” adorned with images of the late Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet (an instantiation of the fascist threat Giroux, following Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Counterpunch, offers in his essay).

It is, therefore, with some bemusement that one finds Giroux using Adorno to frame his argument. Indeed, the deployment of an Adorno quote in diametric opposition to the claims Giroux’s makes reveals a profound misreading of Adorno’s position, which differs from the critical theory Giroux apes, i.e., Herbert Marcuse and his ilk, a deviation that, with the help of postmodernism, finds its way into the transgressive methods of CRT, queer theory, and the like, which in turn find their way into the heads of children.

Perhaps some time spent with Adorno’s correspondence with Marcuse might help clarify matters for Giroux. The exchange of letters concerned student harassment of Adorno not unlike Brett Weinstein’s experience as Evergreen State College, a situation about which I can easily imagine Giroux taking the wrong side. Adorno was (as was Jürgen Habermas) highly critical of the New Left tendency, seen in the student movement of the latter 1960s, detecting in it the potential for leftwing fascism. Marcuse, who became a New Left guru during that period, while admitting to Adorno the irrationalism of those politics, was nonetheless swept up in that tendency, even advocating the repression of the speech of those with whom he disagreed (see The Noisy and Destructive Children of Herbert Marcuse; see also Mao Zedong Thought and the New Left Corruption of Emancipatory Politics and my Project Censored piece Defending the Digital Commons: A Left-Libertarian Critique of Speech and Censorship in the Virtual Public Square).

Giroux writes, “Education under the Third Reich offers significant insights into how repressive forms of pedagogy become central to shaping the identities, values, and worldviews of young people.” Indeed. As an active university teacher, I see everyday the effects of woke progressive indoctrination of our nation’s youth. The disregard for cognitive liberty, rejection of reason, loathing of Western culture, and the depth of identitarian thinking does not bode well for the future of liberal society—and how the institutions won’t even assess itself to determine the extent of the problem (see Science Politics at the University of Wisconsin—Deliberate Ignorance About the State of Cognitive Liberty and Viewpoint Diversity on College Campuses see also Refining the Art and Science of Propaganda in an Era of Popular Doubt and Questioning). “Nazi educational policies,” writes Giroux, has “made visible how in the final analysis education is always political in that it is a struggle over agency, ideology, knowledge, power, and the future.” He then raises the specter of Hitler. “For Hitler, matters of indoctrination, education, and the shaping of the collective consciousness of young people was an integral element of Nazi rule and politics.” Giroux quotes Mein Kampf: “Whoever has the youth has the future.”

Giroux might have pulled from George Orwell, who writes in Nineteen Eighty-Four: “He who controls the past controls the future; he who controls the present controls the past.”(You will recall that O’Brien invites Winston to rehearse the sloan.) That way Giroux could have referenced another proponent of critical pedagogy, the evangelist of “New History” Howard Zinn, who interpreted Orwell to be saying “that history is incredibly important in shaping the world view of the next generation of people.” However, Giroux would write such words without awareness that he is describing the prevailing social logic of American public education, a social logic, as I have said, in the service of corporate state governance.

Giroux has a woefully impoverished understanding of cognitive liberty and the point of government in a free society. He believes that good government is one that protects the power of administrators and teachers in public schools to indoctrinate children with the preachments of Wokism. In his writings, which are filled with glittering generalities, he goes about “democracy” and whatnot. But good government obtains when the state establishes and maintains the conditions that enable self-government. By self-government, we mean the power of individuals to govern their personal destinies and the collective endeavor represented by the republic to make certain the availability of such power for that purpose. The function of the state in a free society is not to mold citizens, to shape them towards ends that are not their own, to tell them what to think, but to protect their rights and liberties from others and from the state and otherwise get out of their way as they travel the path to self-actualization. Good government empowers citizens, not tosses obstacles before human development. This is the substance of any democracy worth practicing.

I write above that the current method of public instruction involves indoctrinating youth with opinions derived from particular standpoints selected from a myriad of explanations about the world. Critical race theory teaches students not to demand evidence that racism has occurred when an accusation has been leveled, but to look at every circumstance of differential outcome and imagine how racism manifests there using a “theory” that finds racism one way or another—while excluding alternative explanations on the grounds that they are also racist. (See Committing the Crime it Condemns.) Critical gender theory teachers students that gender, and now even sex, are arbitrary social constructs. A doctor does not risk misidentifying a baby’s sex at birth (an extremely rare occurrence), but rather “assigns” babies one sex or another based on a heterosexist (and patriarchal) worldview. And so on. These are opinions—opinions that run contrary to fact and reason, but opinions nonetheless. (See The New Left Practice of Eschewing Anthropological Truths; The LGBTQ Lobby Sues Florida; If QAnon is Not a Deep State Construct, It Certainly Functions that Way; The Strange Alchemy Turning Criticism of Patriarchy into Bigotry; The Ethic of Transparency in Public Education—and the Problem of Indoctrination; Can I Get an “Amen” to That? No, But Here’s Some Fairy Dust.)

Yet they undergird public school curriculum as if they are the final truth, parading as enlightened insights into the fundamental human condition, which is either fixed or fluid depending on which advances the agenda. This is what Adorno and Max Horkheimer, in their 1944 Dialectic of Enlightenment, as “enlightenment as mass deception.” Teachers are today part of the technocratic apparatus that serves the corporate state agenda. Woke progressivism is the ideology that lubricates the machinery of what is essentially totalitarian monopoly capitalism. It is a false enlightenment that dominates the culture industry, mass media, public schools, and the university in contemporary corporate America.

As I earlier alluded to, the nation has already fallen well away from the republican principles upon which it was founded, the teaching of which Giroux thinks are fascist. But it is the illiberalism of Giroux’s worldview that’s in line with the fascist threat he decries. Progressives have, by systematically misrepresenting history, cleverly argued that liberalism was fascist along (after all, the founders owned people, subjugated women, and colonized the world) and that the new fascism, i.e., “social justice,” will correct all that. It’s how they use the term “anti-racism” to continue racism in an inverted fashion, rationalized by a rhetoric of asymmetrical power. Not even a year ago, in a move symbolic of wrenching historical figures from cultural contexts, Thomas Jefferson’s statue was removed from city hall in New York because the founder and third president enslaved people. The man who stated in the most eloquent terms imaginable the fundamental principles of human freedom delegitimized because he lived with the legacy of slavery, a world-wide and millennia-old economic practice. There are countless instantiations of this move.

It was the Enlightenment principles of humanism and liberalism that eventually ended the practice of slavery, but Giroux and progressives like him, rejecting liberalism, appear as romantics, mired in a worldview that sees the public not as agents but as objects to control; not as citizens of a republic, but as subjects in a bureaucratic collective; not as individuals, but as personifications of abstract demographic and cultural categories. Like a clergy, progressive educators see education not as a system of empowerment but as a system of indoctrination. This is because the children given over to what administrators and teachers see as their institution will likely bear the wrong and regressive thoughts of their families and communities. Teachers see other people’s children as their own children. They are the new parents who know better than the real parents. They even keep from the parents secrets with the children. Progressives enjoy hours of control over the minds of children—more than half the conscious day of the little ones—and they mean to use that time to condition a generation to think in their terms. The progressive seeks to push out of the heads of America’s youth those ideas that are contrary to their own—ideas they characterize as “racist,” “sexist,” “transphobic,” etc.—and replace them with allegiance to the corporate state and its operating system, i.e., the identitarian divisioning of human populations.

No doubt this image triggers progressives who see fascism and racism in everything

I don’t mean to be dramatic, but the notion that Governor Ron DeSantis is in any fashion a Nazi or a fascist or anything remotely approaching that ideology is so absurd as to raise questions about the Giroux judgment overall—even if one did not already know this from acquaintance with his recent work.* Giroux is wrong because he works from a standpoint that is wrong. In thought and in deed, Governor DeSantis is pro-individual, pro-family, pro-American, and pro-West. To be sure, in the eyes of those who see the world in abstractions and endeavor to cancel individualism and dismantle the family, America, and the West, these are terrible things to be. But this is what passes for much of the left today: a pathological loathing of patriotic Americans. As a leftist, I am embarrassed to read the nonsense produced by other leftists. But, then, my leftism is liberal and republican, not bureaucratic collectivist. Like many other things, leftism is not monolithic. Nor is the New Left tendency in any fashion communist (there are misunderstandings left and right).

I want to close with a few remarks about Adorno and Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment to help readers understand how to read critical theory. Adorno and Horkheimer are neo-Marxist, and the Marxist method of historical materialism is what we might describe as a moving critique. Adorno and Horkheimer’s analysis is therefore useful for what it might tell us about the present-day situation, and for this one needs to understand the underpinning logic of critique in order to adapt the argument, not slap it on top of the contemporary. The passages I am critiquing focus on the way language is used to direct behavior in an administered fashion that serves the interests of corporate power. It is this use of language that marks present-day public instruction, which has become in the period between Adorno and Horkheimer’s writing and today fully integrated into the administered society.

The social logic of totalitarian monopoly capitalism has colonized public education. The divisioning of human populations into identity groups is entirely consistent with the phenomenon of branding in consumer culture. One is encouraged, even compelled to adopt an identity as one adopts a style, with attire, banners, flags, placards, and standards—and an imperialist attitude—in tow. Adorno and Horkheimer identify this as the work of the “culture industry.” We see it in what George Orwell termed “Newspeak” in his dystopian novel Nineteen Eight-Four penned only a few years after Dialectic of Enlightenment. The language is changed on the premise that language creates reality. It’s a theological notion, the Christian notion of logos, that in the beginning there was the word. Those who control words thus control reality and the people in it. They determine who is in the circle of respectability and who is not. They determine what passwords access institutional privilege. They write the code.

“The blind and rapidly spreading repetition of words with special designations links advertising with the totalitarian watchword,” write Adorno and Horkheimer. “The layer of experience which created the words for their speakers has been removed; in this swift appropriation language acquires the coldness which until now it had only on billboards and in the advertisement columns of newspapers. Innumerable people use words and expressions which they have either ceased to understand or employ only because they trigger off conditioned reflexes.” We can see here that the authors have detected the colonization of the popular lifeworld of tactics that secure corporate governance; by the mid-1940s, consumerism had already entrenched in the depths of mass consciousness. Over the next several decades, the repetition of words with special designations would come to dominate public instruction. They were very clear that this is a fascist development.

We often hear from the political right that the cultural Marxists, on the command of Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, have accomplished a long march through the institutions of Western society, and that such methods as social and emotional learning are marks of a communist sensibility translated to a rhetoric about an intersecting array of identity groups. But the long march though the institutions was really the colonization of republic society by corporate ideology. Enlightenment as mass deception replaced Enlightened democratic practice (republicanism). What is kept from consciousness by the teaching of critical gender and race theory are the material interests of the working family. What is missing in the theory of intersecting oppressions is class analysis. So the correct historical account is obscured. (See The New Left’s War on Imaginary Structures of Oppression in Order to Hide the Real Ones.)

Why would one expect anything else? Are we really to suppose that corporations actively deploy (not merely tolerate) critical theory and critical pedagogy because they want to subvert corporate power? Or do we suppose the dominant institutions are woke because they function to perpetuate and entrench corporate power? What benefit do working class families derive from having public schools teach children to despise their race or question their gender? Who bankrolled Black Lives Matter? (See Corporations Own the Left. Black Lives Matter Proves it; What’s Really Going On with #BlackLivesMatter.)

What is happening here should be obvious. Corporate power is unhappy with DeSantis because he is their enemy. Corporate power is unhappy with Donald Trump because he is their enemy. Corporate power is unhappy with the populist-nationalist movement to reassert republican, liberal, and enlightened democratic values and practices. Enlightenment principles—humanism, individualism, self-government, and all the rest of it—are antithetical to the social logic of corporatocracy. A return to the principles of the Enlightenment threaten to derail the transnationalist project to establish a world government that would oversee the final destruction of capitalism and stand up its replacement: a global neofeudalist order secured by the Balkanization of everything. With its insistence on cultural pluralism and moral relativism and its program of managed decline of the modern nation-state, the goal of progressivism has never been about dismantling the intersecting oppressions against which they rail, but rather it has been about establishing and entrenching a consciousness that sees division everywhere except where it truly matters. The Enlightenment led to the emancipation of slaves and women. In time, it will lead to the emancipation of the individual from collectivist structures. So it obviously must be delegitimized.

The social logic of bureaucratic corporate arrangements has infected everything. Adorno and Horkheimer saw it coming. Giroux misses it. “The minister for mass education talks incomprehendingly of ‘dynamic forces,’” write Adorno and Horkheimer; “and the hit songs unceasingly celebrate ‘reverie’ and ‘rhapsody.’” Adorno and Horkheimer find that “the culture industry has taken over the civilizing inheritance of the entrepreneurial and frontier democracy—whose appreciation of intellectual deviations was [admittedly] never very finely attuned. All are free to dance and enjoy themselves, just as they have been free, since the historical neutralization of religion, to join any of the innumerable sects. But freedom to choose an ideology—since ideology always reflects economic coercion—everywhere proves to be freedom to choose what is always the same.” How does Giroux leverage Frankfurt-style critical theory and not grasp what it is telling him?

Adorno and Horkheimer conclude that “the choice of words in conversation, and the whole inner life as classified by the now somewhat devalued depth psychology, bear witness to man’s attempt to make himself a proficient apparatus, similar (even in emotions) to the model served up by the culture industry.” Public instruction has become fused with culture industry method and the intended result is youth making itself a proficient apparatus for corporate needs, which are essentially totalitarian in character. Perhaps Giroux doesn’t know this, but his arguments serve the interests of the establishment, not the interests of those with whom he claims to stand. And the establishment is the present-day manifestation of National Socialism, which the idea of nation is replaced by every conceivable imaginary community. In the final analysis, Giroux’s essay is an exercise in anti-working class politics.

* * *

* In “The Ugly Terror of a Fascist Abyss Lurks in the Background of This Pandemic,” published in TruthOut during the burning of American cities by Antifa and Black Lives Matter in the summer of 2020, Giroux writes the following: “There are lessons to be learned regarding how history is reproduced in the present. First, there is the Trump administration’s caging of children on the southern border. Second, there is Trump’s threat to use ‘dominating force’ and unleash the National Guard and police upon demonstrators peacefully resisting police violence against people of color. Third, there is Trump’s relentless language of violence designed both to embolden second amendment gun rights activists toward committing violence and to dehumanize certain populations while attempting [he quotes Jason Stanley] ‘to harness the emotion of nostalgia to the central themes of fascist ideology—authoritarianism, hierarchy, purity and struggle.’”

Everything about this paragraph is demonstrably wrong. Giroux has more than enough time to know that the images of children in cages at the US border were from the Obama era, a presidency he describes elsewhere as “an unprecedented moment in the fight against the legacy of racism while at the same time offering new possibilities for addressing how racism works in a post-Bush period.” Giroux also writes that the Obama presidency “puts the brakes on many authoritarian and anti-democratic tendencies operating both domestically and abroad, while offering a foothold not only for a fresh critique of neoliberal and neoconservative policies, but also an opportunity to reclaim and energize the language of the social contract and social democracy.” How on earth anybody thought these thoughts astonishes me. I knew and blogged before Obama was president that he was a corporate state tactic. Moreover, his politically-motivated pivot on the matter religion revealed his duplicity. (For the religious pivot, see Barack Obama: Doing the Lord’s Work; Mixing Church and State: Is Obama Un-American? Obama’s Religious Speech. See also Migrant Detention Facilities are Not Fascist Concentration Camps; Ocasio-Cortez and the Powers of Expectation and Identity; Immigration, Deportation, and Reductio ad Hitlerum.) )

Giroux seems to believe that American citizens have no right to expect that the government will act to protect them and their property. The problem with Trump’s threat to deploy the National Guard to defend persons and property from rioters who operated on the false premise that police specially target black people for violence was that he did not in any significant way follow through with the threat. Giroux is thus wrong here on two counts: (1) by the summer of 2020 it was obvious to anybody who bothered to look at the vast body of literature on the matter that the claims of systemic racism in lethal civilian-police encounters were mythic (see The Problematic Premise of Black Lives Matter; The Far Podcast: The Myth of Systemic Racism in Lethal Police Officer-Civilian Encounters; The Myth of Systemic Racism in Lethal Police-Civilian Encounters; Again, The Myth of the Racist Criminal Justice System; Debunking Mythologies Surrounding the American Criminal Justice System; The Police are Sexist, too); (2) the federal government has an obligation to defend the civil liberties and rights of American citizens even when state governments fail to do so. Every one of us is first a citizen of the United States. Yet the federal government allowed state and city governments to allow thugs to overrun our cities, causing dozens of deaths scores of injuries, and billions of dollars in damages. (See Fake News, Executive Power, and the Anti-Working Class Character of Street Crime; On Riots and the Postmodern Corruption of the Culture of Protest; Unacceptable: Evers and Biden Inflame Insurrectionist Passions; Antifa, the Proud Boys, and the Relative Scale of Violent Extremism.)

To this claim about Trump emboldening gun owners and rehearsing central themes of fascist ideology, an obvious and cynical attempt to raise the specter of Brownshirts, I can only say that Giroux has a penchant to chase phantoms. Again, the only real fascist threat to American democracy is from above, forces that have mobilized millions of subalterns to eat at the foundations of the republic—and I’m not talking about those Hillary Clinton called the “deplorables.” What’s going on here is part of a large-scale campaign to delegitimize the working class of America. (See The Establishment Project to Demonize Conservative White Males. What’s This All About? “A New Kind of American Radicalism”: The Campaign to Portray Ordinary America as Deviant and Dangerous; Suppressing the Rabble: Portraying Conservatism and Republicanism as Fringe and Dangerous; Rittenhouse’s Real Crime and Corporate State Promotion of Extremism; The Wages of Victimism: Leftwing Trauma Production for Political Ends; A Peaceful Transition of Political Power.) Giroux is the paradigm of the professional-managerial attitude animating the present-day academic. This stratum loathes the proletariat while claiming to stand with racialized and sexualized elements they “discover” in it.

Almost Everybody in the Bible is White

Are any of you sharing this pic? Don’t. It’s 100 percent factually incorrect.

This popular image is entirely wrong.

White skin comes from a expression of a handful of genes making their appearance in the Middle East and Caucuses as long ago as twenty-eight thousand years from present. Fair or light skin is thus a characteristic of the people of the Fertile Crescent, and that includes the Levant and civilizations in the Tigris-Euphrates River Vally, the Indus River Valley, and even the Nile. A subgroup of white skinned people migrated westward from these places into Europe and replaced darker skin populations that had lived there for thousands of years previous. White-skinned people in Anatolia who, some ten thousand years ago, sparked the Neolithic Revolution, which formed the economic and technological foundation of civilization.

Several thousand years later, in the Levant, white people collected stories about mostly white people and produced what we know today as the Bible. Noah, Abraham, Moses, and all the rest of them were white. Noah, whose legend the ancient Jews derived from Sumerian myth, the oldest involving the hero Ziusudra whose exploits are nearly identical to those attributed to Noah, would have been, if an actual person, among the earliest white people mentioned in the written records. Of course, there is no record of these folks having ever existed outside of the Bible, but given where their adventures took place and the time frame, they would have been white.

It may interest the reader to know that the earliest hominids were very likely white. The great apes are white under their fur and we are, after all, a great ape. A great naked ape. Chimps are mostly white if you shave them. Black skin is an adaptation emerging with the progressive loss of fur in the various genera associated with our species (Australopithecus, Homo, Paranthropus). White skin reemerged later on as a dominant trait (or possibly due to mutations, as it may not necessarily be the useful recovery of atavistic traits) among West Asians, North Africans, and Europeans as an adoption to large-scale agriculture and the receding of the ice sheets opening up land to the north for habitation where there is less sunlight.

One might ask themselves whether Spaniards are white. You might be inclined to say so, but not a few people are confused about this. A few years ago I noted that, at an academic institution, a professor from Spain, who is clearly white, won the annual Woman of Color award. That her white colleagues nominated her for the award is revealing of the profound ignorance about race, geography, and history shared among progressives. Why no colleagues of color spoke up is a curious thing.

What about Greeks and Italians? For the most party, they’re white. Arabs? Yes, white, for the most part. Yet here, people treat Muslims from that part of the world as non-white (see Muslims are Not a Race. So why are Academics and Journalists Treating Them as if They Were?). Jews? The largest subpopulation of Jews, the Ashkenazi, are Germanic European. The Sephardim are Hispanic (North Africa, Portugal, and Spain), the Mizrahim (Levantines) are Arabic—all white.

These are of course nations and ethnicities, but nonetheless nations and ethnicities who majorities are historically white. That the skin tone of many of these populations is darker than a Swede’s makes no difference. Whites are no more all of one shade of color than are blacks.


Somebody shared the image of the woman with the sign on Twitter and judging from the upvotes, it was quite popular among the Twitter folk, especially those with Ukrainian flag emojis. I wondered aloud in the thread, if the Biblical characters aren’t white, then what are they? Somebody said “Middle Eastern.” That’s a region, I responded. Try again. Every answer I was provided revealed a profound ignorance of history, hominid evolution, and anthropological classification. (I have been thinking that it might be more useful to teach these subjects in our public schools than social and emotional learning and critical race and gender theory.) I find the notion of race problematic. I don’t believe it’s an intrinsic thing.

Following Richard Lewontin and other (see Lewontin’s “Confusion About Human Races”), I argue that what we understand as race is ancestry. Since offspring look like their parents, both parents and offspring are subject to the force of natural history, and human populations tend to mate with those who look like them and live in the same geographical area, a scheme can be devised to identify different subpopulations based on constellations of phenotypic traits. As history would have it, no scheme needed devising, as humans rather uniformly came to see the world in these terms, which, we later found out, enjoy empirical support. Nonetheless, since racial groups are primitive concepts that fray at the edges when confronted with more in-depth genetic analysis, the ideal would be to shift our language.

Human geneticists are curbing use of the term race in scientific papers

However, if people are going to make claims about race, such as that Arabs and Jews are not white, which necessarily presumes that there are people who are in fact white (and racial groups cannot define themselves since there are no elected leaders to define them nor can they demand others change their perceptions), then they should work from the prevailing framework, which divides most of the global human population into three primary racial groups: Caucasoid (white-skinned people living in Europe, North Africa, and West Asia), Mongoloid (yellow-skinned people living in East Asia), and Negroid (black-skinned people living in most of Africa).

You have heard that race is a social construction. You might have heard it for me. I have certainly said it enough times. My students are probably sick of hearing me say it. But it’s interesting that the genetic evidence is consistent with the popular understanding of racial groupings. Geographically speaking, the world breaks up into (1) most of Africa, (2) Australia; (3) East Eurasia (except for North Africa), (4) West Eurasia, and (5) North and South America (before colonization of the new world by Eurasians). Note that the genetic distances indicate evolutionary time. American Indians are the most recent human population genetically-speaking. Black Africans are the oldest.

The neighbor-joining method allows scientists to calculate when different species, or variations within a species, diverged by analyzing differences on a molecular level. This illustration maps the relationships between 18 human populations, using the method to create an evolutionary tree built on genetic data. (Credit: Alison Mackey/Discover after Jason Spatola/Wikimedia Commons)

I have in-depth writings about this in Freedom and Reason, so I am directing readers to the following blogs rather that repeat those points here: Race, Ethnicity, Religion, and the Problem of Conceptual Conflation and Inflation and Casual Conflation of Categories. But I want to emphasis the color scheme appearing in the parentheticals does not refer to the actual neutrals and the color yellow. I am fully aware that “yellow” is offensive to many of East Asian descent, just as “red” is offensive to many American Indians, and my intent is not to offend. I don’t like this scheme. Nobody is actually black, yellow, or white (or red). The color schemes is shorthand for the constellation of superficial traits. I don’t believe in race. But clearly the woman holding the sign believes in it, since she is presuming the characters of the Bible belong to one or many—none of which are white.

All of this is well-established. But scroll up and look at the woman holding the sign again. Do you think she cares about facts? She’s woke. What else would possess a person to hold such a sign? She didn’t for a second wonder whether this claim was true or false. Facts don’t matter to her. Ideology does. So confident is she of the truth of the claim that she adds an snark at bottom suggesting that you may be too dumb to get it. What do you think? A BLM rally? I’m guessing so. The intent of the sign at an anti-racist is to express white self-loathing manifest in a desire to deny even the Judeo-Christian religion to white people, as if it were their race that produced those myths—or civilization itself. The deep error of the intent is that race and culture have nothing to do with one another and it is the racist who think they do. (See Culture and Race—Not the Same Thing; Multiracialism Versus Multiculturalism; The Myth of White Culture; Smearing Amy Wax and The Fallacy of Cultural Racism.)

I want racial thinking to go away. But it appears some people care. A lot. And they’re trying to disrupt our common-sense understanding and traditional classification of most Arabs, as well as most Hispanics, etc., as white. You don’t have to be obsessed with essentialist notions of race to wonder what that’s all about. So I will follow up in the coming weeks with analysis of why the left is reracializing selected human populations.

For the record, if he were an actual person (he may have been), Jesus would almost surely have been white. Maybe not blue eyes and blonde hair (although it’s possible), but white. Most whites don’t look like Hitler’s wet dream. But there is an effort to make it appear this way.

Joe Biden Caught a Cold

The President of the United States has contracted a coronavirus. Like most people who contract this virus, the President is experiencing mild systems. But he is old and frail, so there is reason for concern. Cold and flu viruses present some risk to the elderly and the infirm. One worry here is that Kamala Harris could be president. Of course she won’t actually be in charge (neither is Biden). It just means that America will be represented by an airhead.

Just days ago, too frail to genuflect, US President Joe Biden fist bumps Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Saudi Royal Palace.

Speaking of COVID, when are we going to have our reckoning with the public health madness that first threw billions into unfreedom and then the world economy into calamity? Some have suggested that we moved on from COVID too quickly. Have they not seen this New York Post headline: “Unvaccinated Americans up to 9 times more likely to die from COVID-19: CDC”? The fear porn has not gone away. But neither has our access to information. The buried lede tells us where to find the data that reveals the scam.

Getting past the drama of the headline, which doesn’t really convey risk despite appearing to, one finds that, of those who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and a booster dose, only 0.23 per 100,000 cases led to a COVID fatality between September and May. However, the risk of COVID fatality was only 1.60 per 100,000 among those who did not receive the vaccine. The per 100,000 calculation for the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA products is presumably similar, but those numbers don’t change the numbers of those who did not receive the vaccine, the so-called “unvaccinated” (a construction not unlike “uncircumcised,” which functions to normalize circumcision, an unnecessary medical procedure).

Working out the risk for the unvaccinated in percentages produces a fatality rate of just 0.00106 percent. The difference between the groups may be nine times, but the difference is very, very tiny. This difference is likely explained by confounding variables, such as the likelihood of those at greater risk of dying from COVID to escape vaccination, i.e., black, brown, and poor people, the later factor (i.e., poverty) associated with an increased risk of metabolic disorders, which are the conditions most associated with COVID fatalities. Since black and brown people more likely to be poor, the associations are obvious.

Returning to the case of Joe Biden, his positive test and his advanced age remind us the risk of death from COVID is not equally distributed across the population. For those fifty years and younger, the risk of death from a coronavirus is vanishingly small. The vast majority of those who died from this virus were over the age of 65 and mostly unwell. The median age of death was in the mid-80s. I have discussed this extensively on Freedom and Reason so I will refer you to my past blogs.

Moreover, all the deaths from blot clots, strokes, heart attacks, etc., from the vaccine are left out of the tolls. The Health and Human Services Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) indicates that, through June 2022, tens of thousands of deaths occurred within hours of injection with a COVID-19 vaccine or mRNA product. According to CDC data, there have been more than 1.3 million adverse events following COVID vaccines reported to VAERS, including 29,273 deaths and 241,910 serious injuries between December 14, 2020, and July 1, 2022 (see this article for details).

The upshot is that the COVID hysteria was irrational and the lockdowns, vaccines, etc., harmful to human populations. There was never a need for healthy adults or children to get vaccinated. Despite claiming that the vaccines would prevent infection and transmission, the authorities knew they did neither. This ordeal will stand as the worst public health disaster in history, not because of a (lab-enhanced) virus, but because the actions of a public health system that has been entirely captured and corrupted by the corporate state.

I called bullshit from the beginning. Remember that. I was mocked. But I was right. I followed science.

Ted Cruz: Supreme Court “clearly wrong” about same-sex marriage. Here’s why Cruz is Clearly Wrong.

Ted Cruz says Supreme Court was ‘clearly wrong’ about 2015 same-sex marriage ruling,” is the CNN headline. Here’s why Ted Cruz is clearly wrong about the landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision.

The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1, plainly states: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” 

Pay attention to this part: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States….” By denying the franchise of marriage to same-sex couples, states were abridging the privileges of US citizens. Marriage is a civil right. Civil rights are not a matter for majority rule. As James Madison understood, applying the principle of majority rule to civil rights constitutes tyranny of the majority. Madison designed the Bill of Rights to prevent such a thing. (He had early sought to explicitly articulate this federal power in the Constitution itself. See The Supreme Court Affirms the Tyranny of Majorities.)

The Ninth Amendment states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Read that again. You may be unfamiliar with the Ninth Amendment. It is rarely referenced. Just because same-sex marriage—or marriage in any form—goes unmentioned in the Constitution does not mean marriage is not a right retained by the people. The Ninth Amendment very clearly states the principle here. Read it once more: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

Why do conservatives rarely if ever talk about the Ninth Amendment? Now you know why: it’s the linchpin of the liberal order established by our nation’s founders. The American Republic, as Glenn Loury put it so well in 2020, is an instantiation of Enlightenment principles of individual liberty and civil rights. That’s right, the founders were liberals.

Conservatives love the Tenth Amendment, of course: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This is a statement concerning our federal system.

However, conservatives mislead their public by referring to the amendment as recognizing “states rights.” States don’t have rights. People do. States have power (and so do people). The amendment is not talking about rights. Read it again. It’s talking about powers. Marriage is a civil right. States officially recognize marriage to give it the force of law, but states do not have the power to deny civil rights to American citizens (at least states do not have the authority, i.e., legitimate power, to do so, which is the form of power manifest in law in a just civil order). You and I are first and foremost citizens of the nation, whether we are gay or straight or black or white.

Richard and Mildred Loving, whose marriage was deemed illegal according to Virginia state law, found justice at the Supreme Court, further realizing the American Creed for everybody. 

Think about it. If Cruz were correct, then the Loving v Virginia ruling, which recognizes the right of interracial couples to marry, is bad law and should be overturned. Does anybody believe that governments should be allowed to decide whether a black woman marries a white man? Are you a racist?

Exploding the Apparent Conservative Hypocrisy on Abortion and Other Private Matters—It’s Deeper than Paradox

The latest from La La Land: rationalizing exceptions to anti-abortion laws as “not an abortion” after a ten-year-old Ohioan, raped by 27-year-old illegal immigrant Gerson Fuentes, crosses state lines to obtain an abortion in Indiana.

In a House hearing on Capitol Hill last week, Catherine Foster, head of the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life, told Congressman Eric Swalwell she didn’t think terminating a pregnancy constitutes an abortion when it involves a ten-year-old rape victim.

“If a ten-year-old with her parents made the decision not to have a baby that was a result of a rape, if a ten-year-old became pregnant as a result of rape, and it was threatening her life then that’s not an abortion,” Foster told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.

Catherine Glenn Foster, President and CEO of Americans United for Life speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill, July 14, 2022.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists defines abortion as a “medical intervention provided to individuals who need to end the medical condition of pregnancy.” An abortion is a medical procedure. The definition doesn’t change when a child needs one.

The specifics of the case at hand are horrifying. The young girl was raped by her mother’s boyfriend. The mother is reportedly carrying Fuentes’ baby. She appears to deny Fuentes is the rapist; however, the child identifies him as the perpetrator, Fuentes has confessed to the police, and the state of Ohio has charged Fuentes with felony rape. The mother, who maintains that the accusation against Fuentes is a lie, appears to have lied herself in telling medical staff in Indiana that the father was 17-years-old.

Ohio has banned abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat, which occurs at about six weeks into pregnancy, a point long before quickening, which is the traditional mark of fetal life. Ohio does not provide exceptions in cases of rape or incest. The girl therefore had to travel to Indianapolis to obtain an abortion. Not satisfied with his state having provided the appropriate medical care to the little girl, Indiana’s attorney general indicated that he plans to investigate Caitlin Bernard, the doctor who helped the girl get the abortion.

Not all anti-abortion activists agree with Catherine Foster’s take. James Bopp, lead attorney for the National Right to Life Committee, told Politico that the girl should have been forced to carry the pregnancy to term, citing model legislation he authored as NRLC’s general counsel. Several states are adopting the NRLC’s model “She would have had the baby,” said Bopp, “and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child.”

In Protecting the Lives of Women: Addressing Counterarguments Concerning Reproductive Freedom, I note the plight of an Argentinian child forced by the state to give birth. In a case otherwise highly similar to the Ohio case, authorities denied an abortion to an eleven-year-old rape victim. The victim attempted suicide twice upon learning of her pregnancy and was placed in state care as a consequence where she underwent a Caesarean section in the twenty-third week of her pregnancy. The baby died a few days later. Clearly, this young girl did not understand the reason and benefit of having the child.

In Segregating Liberty by Sex and the Matter of Religious Freedom, I observe that several hundred women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications. I go on to argue that, while folks portray pregnancy as if it presents no risks to girls and women, the condition does present serious risks to the mother, including death. Moreover, pregnancy affects almost every aspect of a woman’s life. To force any woman to bear a child is unjust; to deny a ten-year-old child an abortion is horrifying.

The understanding among those whose conscience is not distorted by the pathologies of authoritarianism that this case challenges the anti-abortion argument explains Foster’s rationalization. She cannot reconcile her anti-abortion position with the real-world consequences of her activism. Her’s denial is a textbook instantiation of cognitive dissonance. Bopp’s take is a textbook manifestation of the authoritarian personality.

A popular cartoon by Nick Anderson

Let’s drill down a bit further on the hardcore anti-abortion standpoint to understand all this. I’m sure you’re familiar with this complaint from progressives: “Why do conservatives care so much about fetuses in the womb but not about babies after they’re born?” The complaint is well illustrated in Nick Anderson’s famous political cartoon shared above. However, the contradiction is only apparent. The problem with America’s brand of rightwing conservatism is not hypocrisy; it’s a deep loathing of girls and women.

The apparent contradiction evaporates as soon as one recognizes that conservatives use both cases to run down women they shame for having sex and being poor, sentiments that come with assumptions about who is seeking abortions. The conservative attitude towards either those who have pregnancies they didn’t want or those saddled with children they didn’t want is that both are just deserts for having had sex (whether they wanted it or not). A ten-year-old rape victim doesn’t fit the underlying narrative, and so many conservatives are struggling to explain themselves. Not all conservatives speak with the callousness of a James Bopp (but many do).

Don’t be fooled by rhetoric. Conservatives have written and spoken about Margaret Sanger and the classist and racist program of reducing black fertility through contraception and abortion. There are concerns to be found there. But when conservatives make the case that Planned Parenthood aborts a disproportionate number of fetuses carried by poor and black women, they don’t care that such women are disproportionately affected by family planning clinics; they mean to saddle vulnerable populations, disproportionately black, with unwanted children, keeping them mired in poverty, and then shame them for resort to public assistance. Their’s is a countermovement against the freedom of women to live autonomous, dignified, and self-directed lives.

To understand right-wing conservatism one has to understand the source of moral desire that lies at the heart of their atavistic worldview. It is one of controlling others at the most personal level based on moral understandings derived from the perversions of religious devotion—perversions independent of what scripture actually says (see Abortion is Not Murder. At Least According to the Bible. It’s Not Even Criminal).

The authoritarian and punitive sentiments undermining rightwing conservatism are not unlike those underpinning fundamentalist Islam. Indeed, cosmetics and fashion aside, today’s Christian conservatism represent something of an American version of Islamism. Like fundamentalist Islam, rightwing conservatives loathe sex-for-pleasure (at least publicly) and women generally, whom they view as inferior and subordinate to men. Women are the possession of men in both worldviews.

This loathing lies behind opposition to abortion as much as it does the cloaking of women’s bodies in public in many majority-Muslim countries. That there are conservative women in the West who embrace these controls alongside the men in their communities does not obviate the fact of them. Oppression may be deeply internalized. False consciousness is a powerful force governing the lives of those who rely on faith-belief for spiritual guidance and emotional needs.

It is not just women who suffer under fundamentalist religious traditions. The loathing of homosexuality common to religious conservatives everywhere is obvious, even if the mechanisms to achieve control over homosexual bodies differs. But for America’s strong secular culture, there would probably be very little difference between how conservative Christians in the West and Islamic activists, such as ISIS, deal with gay men. It seems like every other day, some preacher in some church somewhere in America rants about the biblical punishment for homosexuality (it’s death, for the record).

Denied his theocracy, the conservative’s call for putting same-sex marriage to a popular vote is a wish to use majorities to deny a man his right to marry the man he loves. The same is true for his call for putting abortion to a popular vote. These are both expressions of the tyranny of the majority, in this case a majority guided by primitive religious belief.

Both Christian conservatism and fundamentalist Islam are profoundly illiberal in these and a myriad of others ways. As such, both are incompatible with the national culture that has guided the American Republic for centuries—however warped here and there by the factions that so worried James Madison (see The Supreme Court Affirms the Tyranny of Majorities).

The concrete reality of policing abortion reveals its totalitarian character. In the first place, whether a woman is pregnant is nobody’s business. It’s a matter between her and her doctor just as her cancer is—whether she talks about her cancer (or any other illness) openly. To prevent women from having abortions and punish doctors for performing them, the state must surveil both and dictate to them their actions concerning what ought to be a matter of choice and appropriate medical care for their situation. Not content with God’s all-seeing eye and punishment in the afterlife, the Christian conservative wishes to do the work of surveilling the intimate lives of women and punishing them for their choices himself.

As with all superficial moralists, conservatives are quintessential busybodies. Possessing a self-righteous and scolding persona, they fancy themselves moral entrepreneurs. They tell us that they want government out of our lives, but they have no problem putting the government in charge of those they loathe.

This desire to know and control women in every aspect of their lives is rooted not merely in the loathing of women as inferior, but in a loathing of sex for pleasure by others. Not far from any argument conservatives make about controlling the body of a pregnant woman is an argument that blames her circumstances on her sexual behavior, which they regard (often hypocritically) as sinful. This loathing of human sexuality also lies at the root of the loathing of homosexuality.

Conservatives want to tell women not just when they may terminate a pregnancy but whether they may prevent pregnancy at all. They want to tell poor women what foods they can buy, where they can live, with whom they may cohabitate. They want to determine who has sex with whom and who can marry whom. They want theocratic instruction in our public schools to raise up a generation who possesses the same loathings and desire to control others.

* * *

As I explain in Segregating Liberty by Sex and the Matter of Religious Freedom, that men have the right to defend life, liberty, and happiness but women do not—and women have the more profound experience since the fetus is literally inside their bodies—indicates patriarchal assumptions in opposition to abortion. Indeed, it testifies to the deep misogyny we see in the desire to shame women for their choices with respect to their reproductive capacity.

What explains these attitudes? What lies at the heart of totalitarian desire? The rightwing conservative is a primate who presents with a classic authoritarian personality: conformity to rigid and extremist ideology and destructiveness towards things that differ and dissent from that ideology. This pathology disorders cognition and conscience.

Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm identifies the characteristics to this disorder decades ago in his landmark Escape from Freedom. The key elements are conformity, narcissism, necrophilia, and sadistic destructiveness. In sum, the authoritarian is a primate who seeks to control others and punish and even destroy those he cannot control.

The narcissism Fromm operationalizes is not self-love or an over-secure sense of self, but self-loathing and intense insecurity masquerading as belligerent self-confidence. Considering that Christianity depicts man as having been betrayed by a woman and forced to live his life as a lesser being under God’s judgment—a belief terrifying in the absence of knowledge of one’s ultimate fate—, the narcissism Fromm describes is the predictable result of the ontological uncertainty generated by this faith. Uncertainty is often associated with ritual and magical thinking.

To be sure, a lot of people have insecurities, but the authoritarian is an individual who takes pride in his ignorance and has little genuine love to give others—he puts his faith in another world and gives that dimension his love. Deep down he hates himself, for he is a sinner. He is unclean. He has taken to heart that he will always fall short of the glory of God. He envies that glory and so he takes it upon himself to chastise and control others in God’s name—even if the rule he evokes is not found in scripture.

Rather than learning and accepting and striving to achieve the beloved community, the narcissist demands attention for himself, insisting on acclaim for his righteousness, since the accomplishments he boasts about are superficial and self-serving.

Rage coupled with rightwing ideology, which is based fundamentally on hatred of difference, generates aggression, a sadistic desire to punish and destroy, either literally or symbolically, those who enjoy life differently from the sadist’s narrow and rigid ideas of the normality in which he wraps his anxieties. Sadism is about more than jealousy; it’s an intense hatred of one’s own self and one’s own life, which his religion has told him is worthless. He is moreover very likely to experience a material life not too superior to those he loathes.

This situation is what the existentialists called ressentiment, a French word conveying something more than resentment or envy. The sadist seeks to dominate others, and the ability to destroy is the ultimate expression of control. These are the bullies we knew in high school who picked on those they perceived as weak or different from themselves, who delighted in practical jokes of a hurtful nature, who, often high in emotional intelligence (a characteristic of sociopathy), knew exactly how to get to push emotional buttons. The spiteful are overrepresented among the conservative persuasion. The desire to control through majorities is a projection of sadistic desire.

By necrophilia, Fromm did not mean to convey a sexual fetish for corpses. Necrophilia is not simply a love of death, but a desire to suppress and in the extreme crush sentiment that signifies passion for humanity. The necrophilic loves things that are cold and mechanical: weapons of war (guns, tanks, armor, planes), prisons (cold hard steel and concrete structures and isolation), and hierarchy. Necrophilia flows from and reinforces missing or sharply diminished empathy.

This fetish is associated with a tragic cycle in which children damaged by authoritarian family structures impose their damage on their children. Spare the rod, spoil the child. Believe as I believe. And so forth. This explains the pull of Old Testament-style “justice” or lex talionis—“An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.” The easy advocacy of the death penalty and the reflexive celebration of authority in uniform fit easily alongside the hatred and loathing of women.

It is great concern that this attitude is found not in a handful of pathological individuals, but embraced by tens of millions of people. At present, polls show that near twenty million of our fellow citizens openly profess a politics that projects this pathology. And for every one of them, there are many more who are sympathetic. And the number of fellow travelers appears to be growing.

There is indeed a great divide in our nation. It’s a struggle between those who hate and those who love. Between those who want war and those who seek peace. Between those who want to punish and those who are merciful. Between those who want to control others and those who wish to be left alone.

Conservatives need to stop rehearsing liberal rhetoric if in reality they believe in authoritarian control over the personal choices and private decisions of citizens. And, in reality, they do believe this. Libertarians on the right end of the spectrum should unhitch their political aspirations from rightwing conservatism and join freedom-lovers everywhere in a movement to reinvigorate the American republic.

Majoritarianism is Antithetical to Freedom: On this July 4th, Let Us Rededicate Our Political and Moral Selves to the American Creed

The notion that we should put the locus of control over a woman’s body to a popular vote—that is, put the matter in the hands of the majority and let people who do not know her (or even those who do) determine whether her body is her’s or the state’s to command—is tyranny masquerading as democracy.

This form of tyranny has a name: majoritarianism. Majoritarianism is the political philosophy that holds that a majority of the population, often manifest as an ethnic group, political party, race, or religion, has the right to make decisions that affect everybody regardless of whether that which is affected is intimate and personal.

On this Fourth of July, as we celebrate the establishment in principle of a free society, I want to reflect on the problem of putting the liberties and rights of citizens to a popular vote and whether this notion could ever truly represent the will of the governed.

Steve Bova traveling with the People’s Convoy to protest covid-19 restrictions. He opposes abortion.

Majoritarianism is a drastic departure from the organic spirit of America. Whether you think the country should operate as a direct or popular democracy, America was precisely neither inspired nor founded as such (see The Supreme Court Affirms the Tyranny of Majorities). Those who fought a war for independence from the most powerful empire of the day sought and installed a republican form of government.

As a liberal, I am dedicated to the founding principles of the American Republic, as these root in such core Enlightenment ideas and values as humanism, individualism, rationalism, and secularism. However, I am well aware that my commitments are not shared by others. Indeed, I am surrounded by those who reject those values. The conservatives on the one side who vote to force women to have babies are matched on the other side by the progressives who demand citizens, including pregnant women and children, receive an experimental gene therapy.

In Federalist No. 10, James Madison, the principal author of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, openly worries about the mob, what he calls a “faction,” which he defines as a group “united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.”

Consider that the majorities in several states whose views on abortion, many backed by religious sentiment, are adversed to the right of their fellow citizen to the bodily autonomy necessary for safe and effective family planning. Consider how violating personal liberty—in this case for an entire category of being—damages the permanet and aggregate interests of the community. In the end, do not all citizens benefit from defending the rights of persons over the enforced opinion of the faction? Same holds for mandatory vaccination. How did authoritarian attitudes become so deeply embedded on the right and the left of the American political spectrum?

The short answer (the longer answer you will find in several of the blogs on Freedom and Reason) is that conservatives are obsessed with a rightwing interpretation of Christianity, while progressives command and submit to corporate governance and the administrative state. In its erasure of individual liberty, progressivism represents a statist and technocratic worldview no less undesirable than Christianism.

What readers must understand is that today’s authoritarianism hails from two diametrically opposed standpoints; the situation we find ourselves in is thus simultaneously tyrannical and polarized. This is why it is so important in this moment that we reassert the liberal foundation of the American Republic and the utility of its governmental scheme for the protection of individual liberty and rights.

In his pamphlet, Madison warns his audience that a direct or popular democracy “can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction.” So the Framers designed a constitution-based system, a representative republic, wherein officials elected by the citizens would serve the public interest in a system of checks and balances. Moreover, with a bill of rights, the Framers set core freedoms beyond the reach of the state—and the mob.

Among these freedoms are the right to be secure in one’s person—a right to privacy, implicit in the logic of the Fourth and Fifth Amendments—and a right to be free from the preachments of the various religions, a right explicit in the First Amendment, rooted in the principle of freedom of conscience. The Framers were determined to defend the individual from unwarranted and unreasonable government intrusion and from the desires of organized religion.

Where does democracy fit in all of this? In collectively controlling and directing the agency of citizens whose decisions and actions would impinge upon the rights and interests of other citizens. What I would do with my body is my business. What you would do with my body is also my business. Both are protected by the system of rights and effective democratic power. Democratic processes are therefore liberal to the extent that they give the citizen effective control over what others do that may affect him. The same principle applies in the case of the scope of state action. Those personal decisions and private matters that do not harm the rights of others are not properly subject to democratic or state control and the government exists to protect and defend those rights.

The partisan politics of all this—all this noise on legacy and social media—are beside the principle; it’s just as wrong for technocrats to govern through public health policy as it is for conservative majorities to call the state to control a woman’s body. Both sides forget who we are. I am tempted to say, who we are beyond politics, but it is via politics that we must engage and defend the American Creed.

This has been true down through history. A constitutional amendment formally recognizing the right of women to vote is appropriately subject to democratic action since it defends women against the attempt to deprive them of their proper role in determining their fate collectively and individually in a representative republic. As rational adults, women must also enjoy representation.

Crucially, the Nineteen Amendment does not give women the right to vote; it formally recognizes that right. Had it not been for laws depriving women of the vote, no amendment would be necessary—at least no amendment should have been necessary.

Perhaps now, in the wake of the overturning of Roe, we need to consider a constitutional amendment to protect the right of women to control their reproductive capacity. It is a shame that this should be necessary. This should never have been a question in light of the thousands of years of a natural right of individuals to make such decisions for their families. But since it is a question, democratic action may be necessary to explicitly recognize that natural right in the Constitution.

Appearing to understand the importance of liberty, conservatives are fond of reminding all of us that America is a republic. “This is not a democracy,” they tell us in strident terms whenever there is talk of putting some matter dear to them to a vote. Conservatives are right; America is a republic, a liberal democratic order, not a popular one. As explained above, the liberal part has to to do with the individual and his rights, which are to be protected by the state from the mob and the ballot box, not violated by the majority either in mobs in the streets or as voters at polling stations.

Yet conservatives insist that who an adult can marry should be left to the majority. That rights don’t work this way, that rights inhere in the individual, that rights are only circumscribed by the rights of others and then only when they have a legitimate grievance—all this conservatives forget when it comes to the question of homosexuality.

In Obergefell v. Hodges, the US Supreme Court held in a 5–4 decision that the Fourteenth Amendment requires states and the District of Columbia to recognize same-sex marriages across all fifty states. The Fourteenth Amendment states: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Conservatives want this precedent overturned and the question of whether homosexuals have access to the franchise of marriage to be a state-determined matter. Suddenly the question should be subject to democratic action. In other words, Conservatives want majorities to have ability to take away the rights of individuals based on their sexual orientation. Now they want the tyranny of the majority.

The rights that inhere in the logic of Constitution should be explicit enough to not require an amendment guaranteeing same-sex couples their right to marry. Maybe we need an amendment for that, too.

Let me illustrate the way rights work: One has a right, codified in the First Amendment, to speak freely and to freely hear others speaking given time and place restrictions, these to prevent the interference of other free speech activities. By freely we mean talking and listening, writing and reading, without consequence. One cannot be censored, disciplined, or punished for uttering thoughts or for receiving them. Government, the First Amendment tells us, shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. The manifestation of this right means that the speaker and his audience must be protected from those who would disrupt and derail their communications. When protestors at a speech raise such a ruckus that the speaker cannot be heard by his audience, and then in their defense claim they have a right to do so because of the First Amendment, they are in fact obviating the guaranteed right and properly removed from the site of the speech to a location far enough away where they can no longer interfere with the free communication of ideas.

Imagine our right to freely exchange ideas put to the mob for a popular vote. If you say that it depends on the content of the ideas exchanged, then you have straightaway confessed your authoritarianism. Imagine putting a man’s right to pray to a referendum. You will find authoritarians here, as well, Now imagine the government telling us who we can marry or what we can do with our body. You don’t have to imagine it. Governments have done or are doing this.

In The Supreme Court Affirms the Tyranny of Majorities, I report that James Madison was so concerned about states violating the rights of individuals that he designed a constitutional mechanism to veto any such laws. His mechanism rejected in the give-and-take of deliberative committee work, he wrote the Ninth Amendment, which was accepted by a majority of states. The amendment states “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” 

The Fourteenth Amendment is the proper mechanism in conjunction with the Ninth Amendment to identify and recognize unenumerated rights and remove barriers to those already recognized. This is substantive due process. Conservatives want to do away with it. For all their talk of republicanism, they want majorities to determine the fate of individuals and minorities.

Obergefell is good law because it prevents states from violating the marriage rights of citizens on the basis of sex in the same way that Virginia v Loving (1967) prevents the states from violating the marriage rights on the basis of race. Equal protection of the law is obvious. Roe (1973), whatever is flaws, was correct in identifying a right to privacy in the Constitution (if there were no such right, then the Fourth and Fifth Amendments are arbitrary) and the role of the government in protecting that right from state majorities. How do women enjoy equal protection of the law when a freedom specific to their sex is denied while in principle is available to men? (See Segregating Liberty by Sex and the Matter of Religious Freedom.)

Again, conservatives are not the only problem here. Earlier today on Facebook, I noted that progressives not standing up for bodily autonomy with respect to vaccine mandates weakened the fight for reproductive freedom. A powerful argument from principle is available on the abortion question with which to win allies for the argument—or at least point out the hypocrisy of their opponents.

But a different message was sent out instead when progressives argued that a person can be compelled to receive experimental gene therapy for the sake of other bodies. The message was clear: it’s not your body, your choice. The government can commandeer your body for the interests of the administrative state and corporate profits.

When one side’s position is as hypocritical as their opponents, and the two sides comprise the majority of the country, and the tyranny of the majority becomes the political desire, the rational citizen finds the way forward difficult, if not impossible. Progressives will tell us that conservatives are the problem. Conservatives will tel us the inverse. The truth is that both sides are the problem. The solution to the problem to rediscover the liberal commitments that founded the American Republic.

During the pandemic, very early on in the crisis, I wrote extensively about how the Supreme Court ruling allowing forcible sterilization was based on an overly broad application of an early Court decision concerning the smallpox vaccine (see The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the fallopian tubes; On the Ethics of Compulsory Vaccination; Social Engineering and the Jacobson Precedent). The Jacobson precedent was thus made pertinent to the question of reproductive freedom by applying it to forced sterilization of citizens and residents in America—a precedent that has never been overturned.

If the government can put a person on a table and cut her fallopian tubes, if the government can force citizens to receive experimental gene therapies in the name of public health, then why can’t the government force a woman to have babies? Does preventing abortion not save lives? In this way of thinking, it’s not your body. It’s the state and the mob’s body—whether the mob comes in the form of Christian conservatives or woke progressives.

Our only path forward is to reassert the foundational ethic of individualism that animated the actions of the Framers all those centuries ago. On this July 4th, let us rededicate our political and moral selves to the American Creed and fight to preserve these United States.

Protecting the Lives of Women: Addressing Counterarguments Concerning Reproductive Freedom

I want to clarify and reinforce key points from recent blog entries concerning abortion rights (The Supreme Court Affirms the Tyranny of Majorities; Abortion is Not Murder. At Least According to the Bible. It’s Not Even Criminal; Segregating Liberty by Sex and the Matter of Religious Freedom). This issue is far too important to not talk to death—and the death I’d like to see in all this is that of the tyrannical impulse to control women’s bodies.

New York City, May 3, 2022. 

At the start, however, let me say two things I haven’t said, or at least, for one of them, need to clarify. The first is that abortion is birth control. I see rhetoric differentiating contraceptive methods that prevent pregnancy from abortifacients and medical procedures that end pregnancy. There is a fuzzy area in there where methods of preventing the fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall prevents a pregnancy but still ends the life of a potential human being. We can dispense with ambiguity by noting the literal meaning of the term in use, namely birth control. Everything we’re talking about is about preventing a baby from being born. I may be warned about putting ideas in people’s heads, but preventing a woman from having an abortion is preventing her from practicing birth control and this must be said.

Secondly, I have been criticized for using the castle doctrine to justify terminating what I regard to be a human being. I steel man my argument in defense of abortion by granting the personhood of the fetus (see, for example, The Fetus is a Person. Now What?), so arguments operating on the premise that the fetus is not a person are not available to me. (The premise that denies the personhood of the fetus comes with a myriad of problems, not least among them euthanization of those government and medical authorities deem non-persons because they lack the characteristics of personhood also absent in fetuses.) Because I grant personhood, I have to identify a legal excuse for fetal homicide when this is the desired outcome. The castle doctrine is not the only legal excuse available to me. Not all killing is murder and there are several avenues open to those who kill but wish to avoid murder charges. These are: wartime killing, killing to overthrow oppression, killing in self-defense, and killing to protect those who cannot defend themselves (the latter is an extension of the former).

Any good patriotic conservative will recognize all of these types of killing as undeserving of the charge and stigma of murder. Americans have gone off to war and returned heroes. If the war was just, and soldiers followed the rules of combat, then so was their killing. The founders of the American Republic initiated a war of independence to establish a new order of things—or, more precisely, to make manifest the promise of the Enlightenment, an act that in time ended the legacy of slavery and realized the right of women to be full political actors (a right that is at present very much in jeopardy). Any good patriotic conservative recognizes the right of a man to defend himself, his family, and his home from interlopers.

It should be clear that I am using the castle doctrine not as the crux of the legal justification for abortion (although I would throw it in the mix in judging a case), but as an instantiation of the foundational right to defend one’s life, liberty, and happiness, the inalienable rights identified in the Declaration of Independence. It is more than an analogy; such a principle must be assumed or there is no mechanism for defending inalienable rights. In other words, if a woman cannot defend life and liberty, then how can a man appeal to the castle doctrine? In both cases, killing is a means to a just end. This is why the Second Amendment is important—and why it is a collective right available to all. The question for conservatives is why they make an exception for women.

A counterargument presented to me in debate is that pregnancy, except for rape and incest (presuming the incestuous intercourse is involuntary, which makes it rape), is one hundred precent preventable. If you don’t want to be pregnant, then just don’t have sexual intercourse. Moreover, there is contraception that, when used correctly, and if the correct one is used, almost never results in pregnancy.

Previously I argued that, consistent with Nuremberg, another instantiation of the foundational rights identified above, women enjoy a right to withdraw from circumstances they may have voluntarily chose. However, even if we agreed that women aren’t allowed to change their mind after becoming pregnant by choice (and I do not agree), the reality is that sex without the intent to have children results in unwanted pregnancy all the time. Arguing with intent in the mix loses the argument in all cases where intent cannot be demonstrated—and it would be the burden of the state to demonstrate intent, an impossible task in most cases; having sex is not in itself indicative of intent to become pregnant.

Having made clear that the claim that sex and procreation are intrinsically linked is a religious perversion, let me emphasize that sex, which is for the most part intended for fun, is linked then to the right to happiness, which is among a woman’s inalienable rights (see Declaration of Independence). Not to go on about it, but sex is, for many people, one of the greatest things about being alive. It’s why humans do it so much. Unintended pregnancies are therefore inevitable. And this is why abortion has been practiced nearly everywhere for millennia—yes, even in the US at the time of our founding.

There is a related issue that is highlighted by the categorical attack on men suggesting that men should be the target of state reproductive control—vasectomies and whatever. This argument undermines the struggle for reproductive freedom by denying principle. If it is wrong for the state to regulate a woman’s reproductive capacity, then it is wrong to regulate a man’s. This extends to the man’s responsibility for the care of a child. If the women who does not intend a pregnancy or who wished not to continue with it can abort the fetus, then the man who did not intend the pregnancy or wishes it to continue can also walk away. Since having sex is not intrinsically linked to having children, the man can no more be on the hook for the fetus than the woman.

I have written that pregnancy comes with risks. When a person can, she should be allowed to voluntarily accept—or not be prevented from refusing—risks to her health and wellbeing. In this case, the risks are subject to choice. Whatever the probabilities associated with contraception, whatever the rate of failure of its various methods (and individuals should take time to learn about these), the methods of ending a pregnancy, if correctly used or performed, enjoy success rates approaching one hundred percent.

To be sure, there are risks to birth control. However, again, a person must be free to choose those risks. If one determines that having an abortion is less risky than methods of contraception available to them, then a rational choice has been made. If a person is prepared to accept the risks associated with having sex, including having an abortion, then a rational choice has been made. Of course there are risks to having sex. In a free and secular society, individuals must be free to choose those risks. They must also be allowed to have consensual sex without state-imposed consequences.

I have also criticized the defenders of abortion for the manner in which they defend the practice, especially over the language of rape and incest. Granting life of the mother (even those who resist my argument concerning the castle doctrine surely must be accept this exception), my argument goes like this: if the fetus is a person, and the person’s life must be preserved even at the cost of the mother’s desires, then why should the fetus suffer because the father is a rapist or a family member? Remember, I have granted the claim that the fetus is a person. Why should a person die for the sins of the father?

I make this point because I want those who defend abortion by appealing to the horrors and tragedies of rape and incest to reflect on the possibility that their suspect exceptions may becomes part of the regime that regulates abortion. Indeed, across Europe, and much of the United States, abortion is regulated with these exceptions in mind. But there should be no exceptions. The argument for abortion must focus on bodily autonomy and personal liberty, not on a presumption that some fetuses are more valuable than others. Birth control is not about protecting the lives of fetuses. It’s about protecting the lives of women.

I also push back against arguments that use cases where the mother forced to give birth is a minor. In some of these cases, the person is very young. It is hard to not respond in shock to the plight of a child forced by the state to give birth. Indeed, when three years ago, in Argentina, authorities denied an abortion to rape victim eleven-year-old “Lucia,” we were rightly horrified. Lucia attempted suicide twice upon learning of her pregnancy. She was placed in state care as a consequence. So the state literally forced her upon a gurney and cut her open. Lucia underwent a Caesarean section in the twenty-third week. The baby died a few days later. But why is this any less horrible if the person facing all this is an adult?

Finally, and this should be obvious in everything I write, the state must not force women to practice birth control any more than the state can force women to have babies. Observers are estimating that China’s one-child policy, a past program that included forced abortion, has resulted in the termination of 400 million pregnancies. I adamantly oppose any policy that compels women not to have the children they want or that forcibly limits family size. It is one thing to educate and persuade (and we do have an overpopulation problem). It is another to indoctrinate and coerce. America is a republic, not a tyranny. Family planning is not up to the majority or technocrats to determine. People own their bodies and control their destinies in a free and secular society.

In closing let me iterate that the United States of America was not established as a majoritarian democracy. The founders loathed popular democracy. They saw this style of government as not only destructive of individualism, but of progress and justice. We were founded as a liberal democracy—a constitutional republic with a bill of rights that specifically protects personal liberty from government overreach. The United States is explicitly organized around individual liberties and rights. Women are as entitled to those rights as men.