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Subreddit Demographic Survey 2020 : The Results

2020 Childfree Subreddit Survey

1. Introduction

Once a year, this subreddit hosts a survey in order to get to know the community a little bit and in order to answer questions that are frequently asked here. Earlier this summer, several thousand of you participated in the 2020 Subreddit Demographic Survey. Only those participants who meet our wiki definition of being childfree's results were recorded and analysed.
Of these people, multiple areas of your life were reviewed. They are separated as follows:

2. Methodology

Our sample is redditors who saw that we had a survey currently active and were willing to complete the survey. A stickied post was used to advertise the survey to members.

3. Results

The raw data may be found via this link.
7305 people participated in the survey from July 2020 to October 2020. People who did not meet our wiki definition of being childfree were excluded from the survey. The results of 5134 responders, or 70.29% of those surveyed, were collated and analysed below. Percentages are derived from the respondents per question.

General Demographics

Age group

Age group Participants Percentage
18 or younger 309 6.02%
19 to 24 1388 27.05%
25 to 29 1435 27.96%
30 to 34 1089 21.22%
35 to 39 502 9.78%
40 to 44 223 4.35%
45 to 49 81 1.58%
50 to 54 58 1.13%
55 to 59 25 0.49%
60 to 64 13 0.25%
65 to 69 7 0.14%
70 to 74 2 0.04%
82.25% of the sub is under the age of 35.

Gender and Gender Identity

Age group Participants # Percentage
Agender 62 1.21%
Female 3747 73.04%
Male 1148 22.38%
Non-binary 173 3.37%

Sexual Orientation

Sexual Orientation Participants # Percentage
Asexual 379 7.39%
Bisexual 1177 22.93%
Heterosexual 2833 55.20%
Homosexual 264 5.14%
It's fluid 152 2.96%
Other 85 1.66%
Pansexual 242 4.72%

Birth Location

Because the list contains over 120 countries, we'll show the top 20 countries:
Country of birth Participants # Percentage
United States 2775 57.47%
United Kingdom 367 7.60%
Canada 346 7.17%
Australia 173 3.58%
Germany 105 2.17%
Netherlands 67 1.39%
India 63 1.30%
Poland 57 1.18%
France 47 0.97%
New Zealand 42 0.87%
Mexico 40 0.83%
Brazil 40 0.83%
Sweden 38 0.79%
Finland 31 0.64%
South Africa 30 0.62%
Denmark 28 0.58%
China 27 0.56%
Ireland 27 0.56%
Phillipines 24 0.50%
Russia 23 0.48%
90.08% of the participants were born in these countries.
These participants would describe their current city, town or neighborhood as:
Region Participants # Percentage
Rural 705 13.76
Suburban 2661 51.95
Urban 1756 34.28

Ethnicity

Ethnicity Participants # Percentage
African Descent/Black 157 3.07%
American Indian or Alaskan Native 18 0.35%
Arabic/Middle Eastern/Near Eastern 34 0.66%
Bi/Multiracial 300 5.86%
Caucasian/White 3946 77.09%
East Asian 105 2.05%
Hispanic/Latinx 271 5.29%
Indian/South Asian 116 2.27%
Indigenous Australian/Torres Straight IslandeMaori 8 0.16%
Jewish (the ethnicity, not religion) 50 0.98%
Other 32 0.63%
Pacific IslandeMelanesian 4 0.08%
South-East Asian 78 1.52%

Education

Highest Current Level of Education

Highest Current Level of Education Participants # Percentage
Associate's degree 233 4.55%
Bachelor's degree 1846 36.05%
Did not complete elementary school 2 0.04%
Did not complete high school 135 2.64%
Doctorate degree 121 2.36%
Graduated high school / GED 559 10.92%
Master's degree 714 13.95%
Post Doctorate 19 0.37%
Professional degree 107 2.09%
Some college / university 1170 22.85%
Trade / Technical / Vocational training 214 4.18%
Degree (Major) Participants # Percentage
Architecture 23 0.45%
Arts and Humanities 794 15.54%
Business and Economics 422 8.26%
Computer Science 498 9.75%
Education 166 3.25%
Engineering Technology 329 6.44%
I don't have a degree or a major 1028 20.12%
Law 124 2.43%
Life Sciences 295 5.77%
Medicine and Allied Health 352 6.89%
Other 450 8.81%
Physical Sciences 199 3.89%
Social Sciences 430 8.41%

Career and Finances

The top 10 industries our participants are working in are:
Industry Participants # Percentage
Information Technology 317 6.68%
Health Care 311 6.56%
Education - Teaching 209 4.41%
Engineering 203 4.28%
Retail 182 3.84%
Government 172 3.63%
Admin & Clerical 154 3.25%
Restaurant - Food Service 148 3.12%
Customer Service 129 2.72%
Design 127 2.68%
Note that "other", "I'm a student", "currently unemployed" and "I'm out of the work force for health or other reasons" have been disregarded for this part of the evaluation.
Out of the 3729 participants active in the workforce, the majority (1824 or 48.91%) work between 40-50 hours per week with 997 or 26.74% working 30-40 hours weekly. 6.62% work 50 hours or more per week, and 17.73% less than 30 hours.
513 or 10.13% are engaged in managerial responsibilities (ranging from Jr. to Sr. Management).
On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), the overwhelming majority (3340 or 70%) indicated that career plays a very important role in their lives, attributing a score of 7 and higher.
1065 participants decided not to disclose their income brackets. The remaining 4,849 are distributed as follows:
Income Participants # Percentage
$0 to $14,999 851 21.37%
$15,000 to $29,999 644 16.17%
$30,000 to $59,999 1331 33.42%
$60,000 to $89,999 673 16.90%
$90,000 to $119,999 253 6.35%
$120,000 to $149,999 114 2.86%
$150,000 to $179,999 51 1.28%
$180,000 to $209,999 25 0.63%
$210,000 to $239,999 9 0.23%
$240,000 to $269,999 10 0.25%
$270,000 to $299,999 7 0.18%
$300,000 or more 15 0.38%
87.85% earn under $90,000 USD a year.
65.82% of our childfree participants do not have a concrete retirement plan (savings, living will).

Religion and Spirituality

Faith Originally Raised In

There were more than 50 options of faith, so we aimed to show the top 10 most chosen beliefs.
Faith Participants # Percentage
Catholicism 1573 30.76%
None (≠ Atheism. Literally, no notion of spirituality or religion in the upbringing) 958 18.73%
Protestantism 920 17.99%
Other 431 8.43%
Atheism 318 6.22%
Agnosticism 254 4.97%
Anglicanism 186 3.64%
Judaism 77 1.51%
Hinduism 75 1.47%
Islam 71 1.39%
This top 10 amounts to 95.01% of the total participants.

Current Faith

There were more than 50 options of faith, so we aimed to show the top 10 most chosen beliefs:
Faith Participants # Percentage
Atheism 1849 36.23%
None (≠ Atheism. Literally, no notion of spirituality or religion currently) 1344 26.33%
Agnosticism 789 15.46%
Other 204 4.00%
Protestantism 159 3.12%
Paganism 131 2.57%
Spiritualism 101 1.98%
Catholicism 96 1.88%
Satanism 92 1.80%
Wicca 66 1.29%
This top 10 amounts to 94.65% of the participants.

Level of Current Religious Practice

Level Participants # Percentage
Wholly seculanon religious 3733 73.73%
Identify with religion, but don't practice strictly 557 11.00%
Lapsed/not serious/in name only 393 7.76%
Observant at home only 199 3.93%
Observant at home. Church/Temple/Mosque/etc. attendance 125 2.47%
Strictly observant, Church/Temple/Mosque/etc. attendance, religious practice/prayeworship impacting daily life 56 1.11%

Effect of Faith over Childfreedom

Figure 1

Effect of Childfreedom over Faith

Figure 2

Romantic and Sexual Life

Current Dating Situation

Status Participants # Percentage
Divorced 46 0.90%
Engaged 207 4.04%
Long term relationship, living together 1031 20.10%
Long term relationship, not living with together 512 9.98%
Married 1230 23.98%
Other 71 1.38%
Separated 18 0.35%
Short term relationship 107 2.09%
Single and dating around, but not looking for anything serious 213 4.15%
Single and dating around, looking for something serious 365 7.12%
Single and not looking 1324 25.81%
Widowed 5 0.10%

Childfree Partner

Is your partner childfree? If your partner wants children and/or has children of their own and/or are unsure about their position, please consider them "not childfree" for this question.
Partner Participants # Percentage
I don't have a partner 1922 37.56%
I have more than one partner and none are childfree 3 0.06%
I have more than one partner and some are childfree 35 0.68%
I have more than one partner and they are all childfree 50 0.98
No 474 9.26%
Yes 2633 51.46%

Dating a Single Parent

Would the childfree participants be willing to date a single parent?
Answer Participants # Percentage
No, I'm not interested in single parents and their ties to parenting life 4610 90.13%
Yes, but only if it's a short term arrangement of some sort 162 3.17%
Yes, whether for long term or short term, but with some conditions (must not have child custody, no kid talk, etc.), as long as I like them and long as we're compatible 199 3.89%
Yes, whether for long term or short term, with no conditions, as long as I like them and as long as we are compatible 144 2.82%

Childhood and Family Life

On a scale from 1 (very unhappy) to 10 (very happy), how would you rate your childhood?
Figure 3
Of the 5125 childfree people who responded to the question, 67.06% have a pet or are heavily involved in the care of someone else's pet.

Sterilisation

Sterilisation Status

Sterilisation Status Participants # Percentage
No, I am not sterilised and, for medical, practical or other reasons, I do not need to be 869 16.96%
No. However, I've been approved for the procedure and I'm waiting for the date to arrive 86 1.68%
No. I am not sterilised and don't want to be 634 12.37%
No. I want to be sterilised but I have started looking for a doctorequested the procedure 594 11.59%
No. I want to be sterilised but I haven't started looking for a doctorequested the procedure yet 2317 45.21%
Yes. I am sterilised 625 12.20%

Age when starting doctor shopping or addressing issue with doctor. Percentages exclude those who do not want to be sterilised and who have not discussed sterilisation with their doctor.

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 207 12.62%
19 to 24 588 35.85%
25 to 29 510 31.10%
30 to 34 242 14.76%
35 to 39 77 4.70%
40 to 44 9 0.55%
45 to 49 5 0.30%
50 to 54 1 0.06%
55 or older 1 0.06%

Age at the time of sterilisation. Percentages exclude those who have not and do not want to be sterilised.

Age group Participants # Percentage
18 or younger 5 0.79%
19 to 24 123 19.34%
25 to 29 241 37.89%
30 to 34 168 26.42%
35 to 39 74 11.64%
40 to 44 19 2.99%
45 to 49 1 0.16%
50 to 54 2 0.31%
55 or older 3 0.47%

Elapsed time between requesting procedure and undergoing procedure. Percentages exclude those who have not and do not want to be sterilised.

Time Participants # Percentage
Less than 3 months 330 50.46%
Between 3 and 6 months 111 16.97%
Between 6 and 9 months 33 5.05%
Between 9 and 12 months 20 3.06%
Between 12 and 18 months 22 3.36%
Between 18 and 24 months 15 2.29%
Between 24 and 30 months 6 0.92%
Between 30 and 36 months 2 0.31%
Between 3 and 5 years 40 6.12%
Between 5 and 7 years 25 3.82%
More than 7 years 50 7.65%

How many doctors refused at first, before finding one who would accept?

Doctor # Participants # Percentage
None. The first doctor I asked said yes 604 71.73%
One. The second doctor I asked said yes 93 11.05%
Two. The third doctor I asked said yes 54 6.41%
Three. The fourth doctor I asked said yes 29 3.44%
Four. The fifth doctor I asked said yes 12 1.43%
Five. The sixth doctor I asked said yes 8 0.95%
Six. The seventh doctor I asked said yes 10 1.19%
Seven. The eighth doctor I asked said yes 4 0.48%
Eight. The ninth doctor I asked said yes 2 0.24%
I asked more than 10 doctors before finding one who said yes 26 3.09%

Childfreedom

Primary Reason to Not Have Children

Reason Participants # Percentage
Aversion towards children ("I don't like children") 1455 28.36%
Childhood trauma 135 2.63%
Current state of the world 110 2.14%
Environmental (including overpopulation) 158 3.08%
Eugenics ("I have 'bad genes'") 57 1.11%
Financial 175 3.41%
I already raised somebody else who isn't my child 83 1.62%
Lack of interest towards parenthood ("I don't want to raise children") 2293 44.69%
Maybe interested for parenthood, but not suited for parenthood 48 0.94%
Medical ("I have a condition that makes conceiving/bearing/birthing children difficult, dangerous or lethal") 65 1.27%
Other 68 1.33%
Philosophical / Moral (e.g. antinatalism) 193 3.76%
Tokophobia (aversion/fear of pregnancy and/or chidlbirth) 291 5.67%
95.50% of childfree people are pro-choice, however only 55.93% of childfree people support financial abortion.

Dislike Towards Children

Figure 4

Working With Children

Work Participants # Percentage
I'm a student and my future job/career will heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis 67 1.30%
I'm retired, but I used to have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis 6 0.12%
I'm unemployed, but I used to have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis 112 2.19%
No, I do not have a job that makes me heavily interact with children on a daily basis 4493 87.81%
Other 148 2.89%
Yes, I do have a job that heavily makes me interact with children on a daily basis 291 5.69%

4. Discussion

Child Status

This section solely existed to sift the childfree from the fencesitters and the non childfree in order to get answers only from the childfree. Childfree, as it is defined in the subreddit, is "I do not have children nor want to have them in any capacity (biological, adopted, fostered, step- or other) at any point in the future." 70.29% of participants actually identify as childfree, slightly up from the 2019 survey, where 68.5% of participants identified as childfree. This is suprising in reflection of the overall reputation of the subreddit across reddit, where the subreddit is often described as an "echo chamber".

General Demographics

The demographics remain largely consistent with the 2019 survey. However, the 2019 survey collected demographic responses from all participants in the survey, removing those who did not identify as childfree when querying subreddit specific questions, while the 2020 survey only collected responses from people who identified as childfree. This must be considered when comparing results.
82.25% of the participants are under 35, compared with 85% of the subreddit in the 2019 survey. A slight downward trend is noted compared over the last two years suggesting the userbase may be getting older on average. 73.04% of the subreddit identify as female, compared with 71.54% in the 2019 survey. Again, when compared with the 2019 survey, this suggests a slight increase in the number of members who identify as female. This is in contrast to the overall membership of Reddit, estimated at 74% male according to Reddit's Wikipedia page [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reddit#Users_and_moderators]. The ratio of members who identify as heterosexual remained consistent, from 54.89% in the 2019 survey to 55.20% in the 2020 survey.
Ethnicity wise, 77% of members identified as primarily Caucasian, consistent with the 2019 results. While the ethnicities noted to be missing in the 2019 survey have been included in the 2020 survey, some users noted the difficulty of responding when fitting multiple ethnicities, and this will be addressed in the 2021 survey.

Education level

As it did in the 2019 survey, this section highlights the stereotype of childfree people as being well educated. 2.64% of participants did not complete high school, which is a slight decrease from the 2019 survey, where 4% of participants did not graduate high school. However, 6.02% of participants are under 18, compared with 8.22% in the 2019 survey. 55% of participants have a bachelors degree or higher, while an additional 23% have completed "some college or university".
At the 2020 survey, the highest percentage of responses under the: What is your degree/major? question fell under "I don't have a degree or a major" (20.12%). Arts and Humanities, and Computer Science have overtaken Health Sciences and Engineering as the two most popular majors. However, the list of majors was pared down to general fields of study rather than highly specific degree majors to account for the significant diversity in majors studied by the childfree community, which may account for the different results.

Career and Finances

The highest percentage of participants at 21.61% listed themselves as trained professionals.
One of the stereotypes of the childfree is of wealth. However this is not demonstrated in the survey results. 70.95% of participants earn under $60,000 USD per annum, while 87.85% earn under $90,000 per annum. 21.37% are earning under $15,000 per annum. 1065 participants, or 21.10% chose not to disclose this information. It is possible that this may have skewed the results if a significant proportion of these people were our high income earners, but impossible to explore.
A majority of our participants work between 30 and 50 hours per week (75.65%) which is slightly increased from the 2019 survey, where 71.2% of participants worked between 30 and 50 hours per week.

Location

The location responses are largely similar to the 2019 survey with a majority of participants living in a suburban and urban area. 86.24% of participants in the 2020 survey live in urban and suburban regions, with 86.7% of participants living in urban and suburban regions in the 2019 survey. There is likely a multifactorial reason for this, encompassing the younger, educated skew of participants and the easier access to universities and employment, and the fact that a majority of the population worldwide localises to urban centres. There may be an element of increased progressive social viewpoints and identities in urban regions, however this would need to be explored further from a sociological perspective to draw any definitive conclusions.
A majority of our participants (57.47%) were born in the USA. The United Kingdom (7.6%), Canada (7.17%), Australia (3.58%) and Germany (2.17%) encompass the next 4 most popular responses. This is largely consistent with the responses in the 2019 survey.

Religion and Spirituality

For the 2020 survey Christianity (the most popular result in 2019) was split into it's major denominations, Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, among others. This appears to be a linguistic/location difference that caused a lot of confusion among some participants. However, Catholicism at 30.76% remained the most popular choice for the religion participants were raised in. However, of our participant's current faith, Aetheism at 36.23% was the most popular choice. A majority of 78.02% listed their current religion as Aetheist, no religious or spiritual beliefs, or Agnostic.
A majority of participants (61%) rated religion as "not at all influential" to the childfree choice. This is consistent with the 2019 survey where 62.8% rated religion as "not at all influential". Despite the high percentage of participants who identify as aetheist or agnostic, this does not appear to be related to or have an impact on the childfree choice.

Romantic and Sexual Life

60.19% of our participants are in a relationship at the time of the survey. This is consistent with the 2019 survey, where 60.7% of our participants were in a relationship. A notable proportion of our participants are listed as single and not looking (25.81%) which is consistent with the 2019 survey. Considering the frequent posts seeking dating advice as a childfree person, it is surprising that such a high proportion of the participants are not actively seeking out a relationship. Unsurprisingly 90.13% of our participants would not consider dating someone with children. 84% of participants with partners of some kind have at least one childfree partner. This is consistent with the often irreconcilable element of one party desiring children and the other wishing to abstain from having children.

Childhood and Family Life

Overall, the participants skew towards a happier childhood.

Sterilisation

While just under half of our participants wish to be sterilised, 45.21%, only 12.2% have been successful in achieving sterilisation. This is likely due to overarching resistance from the medical profession however other factors such as the logistical elements of surgery and the cost may also contribute. There is a slight increase from the percentage of participants sterilised in the 2019 survey (11.7%). 29.33% of participants do not wish to be or need to be sterilised suggesting a partial element of satisfaction from temporary birth control methods or non-necessity of contraception due to their current lifestyle practices. Participants who indicated that they do not wish to be sterilised or haven't achieved sterilisation were excluded from the percentages where necessary in this section.
Of the participants who did achieve sterilisation, a majority began the search between 19 and 29, with the highest proportion being in the 19-24 age group (35.85%) This is a marked increase from the 2019 survey where 27.3% of people who started the search were between 19-24. This may be due to increased education about permanent contraception or possibly due to an increase in instability around world events.
The majority of participants who sought out and were successful at achieving sterilisation, were however in the 25-29 age group (37.9%). This is consistent with the 2019 survey results.
The time taken between seeking out sterilisation and achieving it continues to increase, with only 50.46% of participants achieving sterilisation in under 3 months. This is a decline from the number of participants who achieved sterilisation in 3 months in the 2019 survey (58.5%). A potential cause of this decrease is to Covid-19 shutdowns in the medical industry leading to an increase in procedure wait times. The proportion of participants who have had one or more doctors refuse to perform the procedure has stayed consistent between the two surveys.

Childfreedom

The main reasons for people choosing the childfree lifestyle are a lack of interest towards parenthood and an aversion towards children which is consistent with the 2019 survey. Of the people surveyed 67.06% are pet owners or involved in a pet's care, suggesting that this lack of interest towards parenthood does not necessarily mean a lack of interest in all forms of caretaking. The community skews towards a dislike of children overall which correlates well with the 87.81% of users choosing "no, I do not have, did not use to have and will not have a job that makes me heavily interact with children on a daily basis" in answer to, "do you have a job that heavily makes you interact with children on a daily basis?". This is an increase from the 2019 survey.
A vast majority of the subreddit identifes as pro-choice (95.5%), a slight increase from the 2019 results. This is likely due to a high level of concern about bodily autonomy and forced birth/parenthood. However only 55.93% support financial abortion, aka for the non-pregnant person in a relationship to sever all financial and parental ties with a child. This is a marked decrease from the 2019 results, where 70% of participants supported financial abortion.
Most of our users realised that did not want children young. 58.72% of participants knew they did not want children by the age of 18, with 95.37% of users realising this by age 30. This correlates well with the age distribution of participants. Despite this early realisation of our childfree stance, 80.59% of participants have been "bingoed" at some stage in their lives.

The Subreddit

Participants who identify as childfree were asked about their interaction with and preferences with regards to the subreddit at large. Participants who do not meet our definition of being childfree were excluded from these questions.
By and large our participants were lurkers (72.32%). Our participants were divided on their favourite flairs with 38.92% selecting "I have no favourite". The next most favourite flair was "Rant", at 16.35%. Our participants were similarly divided on their least favourite flair, with 63.40% selecting "I have no least favourite". In light of these results the flairs on offer will remain as they have been through 2019.
With regards to "lecturing" posts, this is defined as a post which seeks to re-educate the childfree on the practices, attitudes and values of the community, particularly with regards to attitudes towards parenting and children, whether at home or in the community. A commonly used descriptor is "tone policing". A small minority of the survey participants (3.36%) selected "yes" to allowing all lectures, however 33.54% responded "yes" to allowing polite, respectful lectures only. In addition, 45.10% of participants indicated that they were not sure if lectures should be allowed. Due to the ambiguity of responses, lectures will continue to be not allowed and removed.
Many of our participants (36.87%) support the use of terms such as breeder, mombie/moo, daddict/duh on the subreddit, with a further 32.63% supporting use of these terms in context of bad parents only. This is a slight drop from the 2019 survey. In response to this use of the above and similar terms to describe parents remains permitted on this subreddit. However, we encourage users to keep the use of these terms to bad parents only.
44.33% of users support the use of terms to describe children such as crotchfruit on the subreddit, a drop from 55.3% last year. A further 25.80% of users supporting the use of this and similar terms in context of bad children only, an increase from 17.42% last year. In response to this use of the above and similar terms to describe children remains permitted on this subreddit.
69.17% of participants answered yes to allowing parents to post, provided they stay respectful. In response to this, parent posts will continue to be allowed on the subreddit. As for regret posts, which were to be revisited in this year's survey, only 9.5% of participants regarded them as their least favourite post. As such they will continue to stay allowed.
64% of participants support under 18's who are childfree participating in the subreddit with a further 19.59% allowing under 18's to post dependent on context. Therefore we will continue to allow under 18's that stay within the overall Reddit age requirement.
There was divide among participants as to whether "newbie" questions should be removed. An even spread was noted among participants who selected remove and those who selected to leave them as is. We have therefore decided to leave them as is. 73.80% of users selected "yes, in their own post, with their own "Leisure" flair" to the question, "Should posts about pets, travel, jetskis, etc be allowed on the sub?" Therefore we will continue to allow these posts provided they are appropriately flaired.

5. Conclusion

Thank you to our participants who contributed to the survey. This has been an unusual and difficult year for many people. Stay safe, and stay childfree.

submitted by Mellenoire to childfree [link] [comments]

CMV: Proportional Representation (PR) is the Superior System

It is more fair

I was inspired by the American elections on this one. That's because hearing Trump complain about election fraud seems rich considering he would not have come close to beating Hilary or Biden in the last two elections without the Electoral College system (in both instances he lost the popular vote).
Of course, the Electoral College system is law, so gerrymandering cannot legally be "fraud" but come on - if a candidate wins the popular vote they should, morally speaking, win the presidency. The Electoral College system is even worse than British First Past the Post (FPTP) it seems, as a party that wins the Electoral Colleges still does not necessarily have control over the senate.

It reflects the voting majority better

Here in UK recently we had an election where the Prime Minister won an 80 seat majority the size of which he would never have gotten with proportional representation. While Johnson would have always stayed on as PM, he would not have had a "democratic" mandate to push through the policies he wants to: a hard Brexit, Americanising the Supreme Court, questionable Civil Service reforms (Cummings) and the Internal Markets Bill to name a few. That's because a stronger Opposition under PR would have opposed a lot of this.

You get more local representatives that may reflect your point of view

I have heard it said that FPTP returns you a constituent politician that can dedicate themselves to representing local issues. But with PR there may be several local representatives in population dense areas that reflect different political perspectives. So if you have an issue you think a socialist would understand better you can contact them, or if it was a conservative or a liberal you wanted to talk to, you'd be more likely to have those options as well.
Obviously in some communities, you might find there wasn't as broad an array of representatives. However you'd have a better shot at that under PR as well as a wider choice of representatives to talk to even if they are from the same party.

It is just as "stable", if not more so

First, I disagree with the premise that opponents to PR subscribe to that a constitution is stable if it does not require a coalition government and government can more easily enact policies in accordance with their voting base (and get those through parliament). Firstly, "more stuff done" is not better: quality, not quantity.
When we had a minority conservative government before 2019 I actually thought parliament were doing a good job of scrutinising and making amendments to Brexit legislation so that the country could come to a positive consensus on what would be a stable result. Being able to rush stuff through parliament just leads to chaotic mistakes like the Iraq war, where Blair was able to rush a decision to go to war even though the decision was very popular among the public at large.
Would he have been able to do this under a proportionally representative parliament? Also would Cummings have as much sway in bullying his vision for the country if parliament was proportionally representative? Neither of these seem likely. The other objection related to the point about is that FPTP means the largest group can get their voice heard whereas with a coalition government the negotiations result in a compromise that represent no particular group.
But actually PR just treats what the majority want a lot differently. For example if 40% of people want a No Deal Brexit but 60% of people are divided between Remain and Soft Brexit, sure the largest minority group wants a hard break from the EU. But it would seem that the majority of people (60%) would prefer to at least remain in a customs union with Europe. So FPTP has a twisted idea of what it means to represent the majority.
The idea that it would be less stable and more democratic to force a vision through parliament that most people don't want because ideology exists as a spectrum rather than a binary categorisation seems perverse. If a National Unity Government was strong enough - necessary in fact - to face Hitler, it seems that coalition governments should be able to fare well enough during times of lesser crisis.

It won't particularly lead to racist parties forming, or it might but it is not that substantial

So, with the vote split between two large parties partially "left" or "right to the Overton window people will generally vote for centrist governments, or centre-right if you consider UK and America are to the right of most other countries. This doesn't really give much breathing space for racist parties in general as racist parties tend to have radical ideologies that deviate far from the centre-ground.
But with proportional representation, people no longer consider voting for a party that deviates too far from centre a "wasted vote" since those parties now have a legitimate shot to either get into power, or simply to veto government. Whereas before, they would be stealing votes from a mainstream party closest too them, enabling the party you hate most to get in, now that doesn't matter because your favourite party can form a coalition with the enemy of your friend (whether in power or opposition).
Or they can form a coalition with your enemy, softening the blows and impacts of that party's policy making. This can lead to authoritarian and racist parties forming, some say. But the thing is firstly, racist parties can get in power even with FPTP.
For example, when the Reformed National Party won most of the seats in the 1948 FPTP election leading to apartheid South Africa (1). The Nazi Party had actually arrested all of the Communist deputies and changed the rules to make it easier to pass the Enabling Act in 1933 (1), thus making the system less proportionally representative.
Meanwhile, Karl Popper has this to say about tolerating (or not tolerating) intolerance in modern democracies:
Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.
More relevantly to my argument, he says:
as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise.
I extend an interpretation of this (my words, not Popper's) to mean that it could be prudent, even on a political level to occasionally hand the racists a platform so that we can debate and repudiate their ideas. Whereas complete suppression can occasionally lend credence to the idea that a person's logic is "irrefutable" and that is why their expression has been muted. Letting the racist party's a small portion of politic representation to refute their ideas can quash such a notion.
And besides, we can defeat racist parties through legal mechanisms to defeat or obstruct them when their policies become too extreme. For example, the British National Party (BNP) "gained all the borough council seats in parts of Burnley despite getting nowhere near a majority of the vote" (1).
However, the BNP were also obstructed by legal democratic mechanisms when a court ruled the party was legally required to allow ethnic minorities membership in the party, thus morphing the whole focus. Popper sort of makes a similar argument to this as well though neither of us have outright claimed racist or anti-democratic authoritarian parties should be banned entirely:
[W]e should claim the right to suppress [those who are intolerant] if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, in the same way as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping, or to the revival of the slave trade, as criminal.
I'm not saying that there is no threat from racist parties under PR as quite a few European proportionally representative democracies have them. I am just saying that the threat is firstly exaggerated and secondly we are not exactly protected from them by FPTP either. Could you imagine how bad it would be if a country were facing the same instability, economic depression and racial divisions as a country like Germany during the Weimar Republic but instead of a PR democracy, a racist anti-democratic government were able to gerrymander constituencies to their benefit through FPTP? (1)
___________________________________________

Resources

(1) Electoral Reform Website: "Did Proportional Representation put the Nazis in power?"
submitted by data_rights to changemyview [link] [comments]

Reason for Hindutva (Request the Mods to pin this if they wish to)

Big long post coming up. Okay. This is a reply to one person's comment about Hindutva in this sub, and I felt that anybody who is looking for the reason for Hindutva should read this, hence I'm posting this as a separate post here. Any changes to my post are welcomed and I apologize beforehand for the looong post and any mistake/error that may have crept in. Please suggest changes if any needed.
There is a direct comparison between Indian conservatives and (usually) American/Western RW. Thus, Western definitions and interpretations of social & political issues (binaries like Left Wing vs Right Wing, secular vs communal, etc.) are mapped directly onto India with little to no understanding of either the dynamics of Indian society, or its history.
Let's talk about one: Islamophobia. In countries like America, Islam is a micro-minority that is growing slowly, and because of the appearance of being harassed by Right Wing Americans for over two decades (and the general perception of Muslims, their unnecessary harassment at the hands of law enforcement & general public), there exists sympathy for their community from the "inclusive Left", just like there's sympathy for the Black community ( bec. of higher levels of poverty, ghettoisation, etc.). This exists for Brown skinned Hindus too.
There's an appearance of their community being 'otherised' in society over the last 20 years, and because of diversity, inclusion, & identity politics, Muslim community has found a new supporter in the Left Wing (SJW, Democrats, etc.). Other than 9/11 and a few other isolated terror incidents, Islamic terrorism has not impacted America to the level White supremacist & police shootings/killings have, and the vast majority of deaths have not happened at the hands of Muslims. There are jihādi nutjobs in the Muslim community, and I'm sure the FBI is tracking every single one of them down to keep America safe. Then there's the case of RW White supremacists who are literally "phobic" about Muslims and Islam, thinking that all Muslims (in America) are terrorists by default, and want to halt immigration to Muslim countries, and want to send Muslims back to their home countries. The majoritarian Christian community has the (relatively) large American conservative population in a tight grip, so the question of Islamic proselytism, and the establishment of a Shari'a state simply doesn't exist as a major threat to America right now. Let's just say that there's currently no major threat from their community to America as a whole (I don't think the govt and intel agencies would allow that to happen). Islam is a slightly different flavour in America than in India.
Let's walk (fly?) over to India. The Muslim community is the second largest majority. Their population in India is nearly 3/4th the population of America. ~200 million Muslims live in India. India is surrounded by 2-3 Muslim countries (Pak, Afg, Bang).
The history of the relationship between Hindus and Muslims is NOT peaceful. Muslims ruled tyrannically over the Hindus for over 500 years, oppressed them, destroyed thousands (>30000) of holy sites & temples and then just as a Hindu empire was being re-established, the British swooped in to lord over India for ~150 years. India is probably the only major failure of Islam, since they were unable to convert majority Hindus to Islam. Countries like Syria, Jordan and Israel/Palestine, which were Christian & Jewish lands were fully occupied by Islamic forces. Powerful empires in ancient & medieval Iraq - Iran fell to Islamic forces, who gave the locals two options: convert or die. To save their lives, the entire stretch from Turkey and Israel/Palestine to Iran converted to Islam. Millions of non Muslim pagans have died at the hands of Muslims. Buddhist majority countries like Afghanistan fell to Islamic invaders and Central Asia was also taken over by them. Over the centuries there was a forceful adoption and integration of Islam in these societies and historic native pagan and non Muslim religious sites were systematically destroyed and mosques established atop them. Simply put, Central, West and South West Asia converted to Islam under the sword. Not due to choice. Islam is an extremely regressive faith that refuses to evolve.
Coming back to India. In 1947, an entire country was ripped apart from the motherland India and was formed on religious lines (Pakistan and later, Bangladesh). Now, every nation from Turkey in the West to Afghanistan & Pakistan in the east was one large Muslim bloc. East of India, countries like Malaysia and Indonesia became Muslim, China was atheist and Myanmar and Sri Lanka were/are far too weak to stand up with India to counter these foreign invading Islamic (& Christian) forces.
After Independence, the government tried to establish a secular state (again, trying to copy paste from the West), with no real understanding of the real India, or what it meant for the average Indian to be part of the Dharmic faiths (Hinduism and it's daughtesister religions). Separation of Church and State is a very Western concept, and shouldn't have been implemented in India. The British had divided Hindus to such an extent that there was no real identity for Hindus to mould or shape their community, and start fresh. On the other hand, Muslims did have a model to look up to: Saudi Arabia version of Sunni Islam, the medieval Indian Islam, and Iran's Shia Islam.
Now, successive governments slowly began to appease Muslims for their vote, because the Muslim community was less fragmented than the Hindu community, and tended to vote as a bloc for certain political parties. The Hindu community on the other hand, was broken up into several small caste based fragments, and regional political parties rose to represent may of these individual communities. Hindus tended to vote as a caste instead of as a religion. Politicians being politicians, and with ample amounts of interference from foreign actors, Hindu community has never been united as a single bloc in the last 70 years.
Add to this the shift of the Hindu populace towards the left (socialist, non religious) post-independence, and the majority Hindu community slowly lost touch with its faith, religion and Hindu social & religious issues.
Coming back to the topic of Muslim invaders: as I stated earlier, Islamic invaders brought in their own tribalistic culture, and negatively influenced India's own historically superior society. For many Indian Muslims today, they see this Islamic rule as a kind of "Golden past" and the means to establish Islamic rule over India.
However, for us Hindus, it is a matter of life and death and most importantly, self-preservation of the native culture and ideologies. Check out the Kashmir issue, and the cultural genocide and exodus of Kashmiri Pandit community from Kashmir at the hands of Islamists. There has been a slow but constant deracination in Kashmir, to establish it as a Muslim country following Shari'a law. 5000 villages and town names in Kashmir were changed to Islamic names from their historic Hindu/Buddhist names in the last 50 years.
Hindu nationalism arose because of an anger of the Hindu population verily against this. "Hindutva is Hinduism that resists": Hindutva merely resists such attempts to erase Hindu and associated Dharmic faith history, it is a movement for Hindus to stand up for themselves and establish a Hindu state along Hindu Dharmic principles. It is a movement that resists the Muslim & Christian conversion activities in Indian states like Kerala, Kashmir, Assam and West Bengal (and their goal to establish a Islamic state very much like Kashmir, to drive out non Muslim 'kafirs'). This is a concerted campaign, bankrolled by foreign state actors like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan towards Islam, and Western countries like UK, France, and US for Christianity.
Thus, Islamophobia cannot exist in India, because the term has no meaning here. Hindus are not irrationally scared of Muslims. The fear is justified in more ways than one. There is a brutal bloody history of Hindu oppression at the hands of Muslims (and even to this date it continues in Muslim countries), and there is a visual live evidence of what goes if India becomes a Muslim country. In countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, religious minorities do not have any rights, and women are traded and sold like slaves. Hindu and Sikh women are kidnapped, forcefully converted to Islam and married off to men much older than them. In India, a similar practice is going on: i. Love Jihad - Muslim men take on Hindu names and prey on gullible girls from the Hindu faith and forcefully convert them to Islam after marriage. ii. Little girls as young as 7-8 years old are kidnapped and sold in Arab countries to rich sheikhs. Both of these have an overwhelming amount of evidence and reportage.
Hindutva is a self respect political movement for the Hindus. The whole of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is Islamic, so many South American and European countries are state Christian, and some South East Asian countries are Buddhist too. There doesn't exist one single Hindu country for the self preservation and development of Hindus. Heck, a global minority religion like Judaism has a home state in Israel.
And just to clarify, no, the establishment of a Hindu state does not mean Muslims or other minorities cannot live in India, or cannot practice their religion. A Hindu state would allow Muslims and Christians to practice their faiths without impinging and infringing on local faiths, without exploiting the natives, especially the poor and sub altern communities. A Hindu state would truly be a model for multi religious, multi cultural, diverse society because the nature of Hinduism itself is to accept and tolerate a multitude of diverse opinions and thoughts. Islam and Christianity have a history of killing alternative opinions and heterodox schools, while Hinduism accepts them, or at the least, tolerated their presence. If religions like Sikhism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism (Parsi), native tribal faiths, Buddhism, Jainism and even atheism can live in peace with Hindusz for over 1000 years of history, why cannot Muslims? Why can't Christians? End.
submitted by kartosis_97 to HindutvaRises [link] [comments]

Binary Options Review; Best Binary Options Brokers

Binary Options Review; Best Binary Options Brokers

Binary Options Review; Best Binary Options Brokers
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submitted by Babyelijah to u/Babyelijah [link] [comments]

Where’s the best place to live in light of collapse?

Ok we are 323 comments in on the collapse post and 98% didn’t bother to make even a slightly thoughtful answer. So... i guess i will be the change i want to see in the world
First off, If you are the fatalistic nihlistic type you can just go where you think it will be nice to die, maybe that is with friends and family, maybe it is on a beach in mexico, or feeding your body to the last polar bear. For everyone else that still has the instinct and drive for self-preservation….
What are the best places to be leading up to or during collapse?

First let's question the question.

What difference does it make to know "What are the best places to be leading up to or during collapse"?
The answer is dependent upon your own personal situation. Your personal situation has limiting factors.
Your personal Limiting Factors constrain you usually somewhere between those extremes, everyone has different options.
If we assume you are asking the question "What are the best places to be leading up to or during collapse" because you want to have the best standard of living available for as long as possible or simply survive the incoming population bottleneck, then the practical question becomes ...
"What are the best places to be, leading up to or during collapse, that i can get to, and establish myself in such a way that I can maintain the best standard of living possible for as long as I can or simply increase my probability of surviving the incoming population bottleneck."
It is important to ask this question to constrain the search space to the possible. It makes fuck-all difference if a somali goat herder knows about the ToP SeCret ElitE mULtibiLLioNaIre New ZEaLand sOUth IsLaNd ReDoUbt BuNkeR CoMmUnITy It is not going to help him and should not be in the search space as a survival strategy.
TL:DR Constrain your search space to what is realistically achievable for you.
  1. Start with your baseline probability of survival and increase it.
  2. Don't let a search for "best place" stop you from achieving "good enough place" or "better than where i was previously place".
  3. You are just trying to be an early adopter of increasing your survival probability stats before the non collapse-pilled masses.
  4. Think of surviving bottlenecks like surviving a charging bear attack, you don't need to be able to outrun the bear, you only need to be able to outrun the slowest people in the group up to the point the bear's appetite is satiated.
  5. Remember working with others can leverage group synergies and massively increase the realistic capabilities, but this requires you establish social cohesion with sane cooperative people that have a similar goal orientation. /greencommunes
.............................................................................................................
What are the best places to be, leading up to or during collapse, that i can get to, and establish myself in such a way that I can maintain the best standard of living possible for as long as I can or simply increase my probability of surviving the incoming population bottleneck." 

Ok now lets question the new question some more...

In order to answer this we need to untangle some of the subjective and objective elements.
The objective elements of human survival are well known.
Optimizing location is a series of subjective trade-offs. There is no perfect place, they all have advantages and disadvantages.
So you must decide your personal preference of which goods and bads you most desire and what your scenario expectations are of the future.
Your personal preferences and collapse expectations mean the “best area” is specific to you.
What you can achieve and what do you desire, find the overlap between the two, then do research to find the place that gives you the most goods with the least bads and increases your probability of survival and standard of living.
One of the best strategies is to adapt yourself to your local circumstances to take advantage of the advantages, and plan ahead to mitigate the disadvantages, it is really all most people can do for themselves.
Do you like not living in unbearable heat, maybe moving to greenland is NOT a better option than just buying 400watts of solar panels and attaching it to a small efficient AC that keeps one room of your house cool even during summer electricity blackouts. Most problems have multiple solutions, it is worth it to take time and think about things from an economic perspective and different time horizon perspectives.
Increasing your optionality is better than narrowing it when it comes to survival, rather than the binary thinking, of “go way out into the northern mountains, farm and live in a bunker” versus “be a full time yuppie and ignore collapse issues”. Getting 2 acres you can put a cheap used rv camper on and go do permaculture on during weekends, near enough your place of employment/where you live, is probably a better plan. Indeed the small dacha’s and country gardens helped many people survive the collapse of the USSR. They would spend weekends and haul potatoes/veggies back to the city with them on the bus. Hedge your bets to cover the most scenarios including the most likely scenarios like losing your job or getting in a car accident. Survival and thriving always has and always will involve dynamic adaptation.
Here is a very short list of some of potential trade-offs that you may need to think about and some brief descriptions of how they can affect things. This is NOT meant to be a systematic or exhaustive analysis, this is just me stream-of-conscious flowing on strong coffee to help others start thinking about it for themselves. There are unlimited variables
Most of these maps are of the USA. If you have other maps please post them in the comments and i will edit this post to squeeze them in. From these maps and a little critical thinking you can figure out where is best for YOU. If you need to figure something out go to google images and search for maps it is easier than ever to find what you need. But remember the map is not the territory, there are great spots maps don't have the resolution to show.These are just some random things i pulled up real quick. mapporn is a good source
https://gain.nd.edu/our-work/country-index/
https://ourworldindata.org/charts
https://ucanr.edu/blogs/dirt/blogfiles/37486_original.jpg
https://www.plantmaps.com/
There are a lot of submaps,for example if you click california then it brings first and last frost date maps, heat maps etc…
http://www.bonap.org/
On the left hand side there are lots of links to climate and biogeography maps
https://www.firelab.org/sites/default/files/images/downloads/whp_2018_classified_midsize.jpg
Firehazard map
https://imgur.com/a/drI7nZB middle of nowhere
hdd+cdd= change in energy requirements for climate control https://energyathaas.files.wordpress.com/2017/10/caldeira.png
https://fitzlab.shinyapps.io/cityapp/ Find out what your city will be like in 60 years
human development index https://imgur.com/a/VDmTac7
https://imgur.com/a/XoGw1Ic solar and wind potential combined
https://imgur.com/a/97XEe22 1% of population lives here
https://imgur.com/a/Ki4Zegq land quality
https://imgur.com/a/kYzus5H Fig. 2 Spatial distributions of projected damages. County-level median values for average 2080 to 2099 RCP8.5 impacts. Impacts are changes relative to counterfactual “no additional climate change” trajectories. Color indicates magnitude of impact in median projection; outline color indicates level of agreement across projections (thin white outline, inner 66% of projections disagree in sign; no outline, ≥83% of projections agree in sign; black outline, ≥95% agree in sign; thick white outline, state borders; maps without outlines shown in fig. S2). Negative damages indicate economic gains. (A) Percent change in yields, area-weighted average for maize, wheat, soybeans, and cotton. (B) Change in all-cause mortality rates, across all age groups. (C) Change in electricity demand. (D) Change in labor supply of full-time-equivalent workers for low-risk jobs where workers are minimally exposed to outdoor temperature. (E) Same as (D), except for high-risk jobs where workers are heavily exposed to outdoor temperatures. (F) Change in damages from coastal storms. (G) Change in property-crime rates. (H) Change in violent-crime rates. (I) Median total direct economic damage across all sectors [(A) to (H)].
https://i.redd.it/x9a2x7627vm31.png Nuclear targets
https://i.redd.it/s8stxdk9a6i31.jpg Chernobyl fallout, demonstrates the nonlinear patterns of distribution
https://i.redd.it/al06n7nofwi21.png Reliance on nuclear energy.
https://i.imgur.com/AbcjwaD.jpg
https://imgur.com/6o2XcHD
https://i.redd.it/jvp1e7maxhr01.jpg Global solar potential
https://i.redd.it/zk0hbo2bhf4z.png Renewable electric supply
Power plants http://i.imgur.com/esUA6iN.jpg
https://i.redd.it/6s781fax1cs21.jpg Red and orange have same populations
https://i.redd.it/cbndvblgz0x21.jpg Agricultural suitability
https://i.redd.it/cpkaqv5h11d31.jpg how america uses its land
https://i.redd.it/2w1va9h2w7431.png Life expectancy by congressional district
https://i.redd.it/kgrz9rweksx21.jpg food for humansgreen versus animal feed purple
https://i.imgur.com/TOlZ2SD.gif line that separates wet and dry USA
https://imgur.com/oqJXKsV Is food a human right? See paupericide
https://i.redd.it/xbvng0ul8nz01.jpg food self sufficiency
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315066937/figure/fig2/AS:[email protected]/Worlds-hybrid-PV-Wind-power-plant-cumulative-FLh-map.png combination wind+photovoltaic capacity
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/images/content/95539main_fig1.jpg human appropriated net primary productivity
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/images/content/95543main_fig2.jpg avoid the pink and orange unless your strategy is cannabilism in fast or hard crash.
https://nimaehsani.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/water_scarcity_map.jpg?w=748 water shortage
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Global_malnutrition.png malnutrition
https://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/354/6309/aaf8957/F5.large.jpg
submitted by MakeTotalDestr0i to collapse [link] [comments]

‘They are us’ – an urgent, uncomfortable call to action

"By Morgan Godfery | Contributing writer March 13, 2020
A proper reckoning with March 15 2019 demands that we take up a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism. An essay by Morgan Godfery.
This work is made possible by Spinoff Members.

1

I was cleaning out the garage the other day and found an old Crusaders jersey. If I remember right it’s their team kit from 2005, the white knight sewn into the chest and the old Ford logo printed in the centre. The jersey itself is still as fresh as new paint, a novelty purchase from when we were passing through Christchurch on our way to Christmas in Oamaru. I was a year 9 in school and a Super 12 jersey was the kind of item you had, just so you could say you had one. This is about the same time it was still acceptable to whisper things like how the white players in the Crusaders were responsible for their team’s championship success, playing their footy with brains, and the problem with mid-table finishers like the Blues were too many brown boys who only knew how to throw their weight around.
I’m not quite white-passing, but my upper middle-class accent, generally preppy affect, and not-quite-pasty-not-quite-brown skin makes me ethnically ambiguous enough that people are happy to share their thoughts about big Polynesian units, Asian immigrants, Muslim terrorists, and the Jews. The first time I remember running into entirely casual racism was in Christchurch, on the way back from that Christmas in Oamaru, when a retail worker caught up with me on the street apologising for short-changing me in store. I didn’t realise or particularly care, but years later I thought about his apology. “Sorry, I just Jew-ed you”.
At the time it was nothing to me. In high school and later in my flat at Victoria that was just what people said. “Jewing” someone was a verb for ripping them off, taking an advantage, or just a way to give someone a bit of stick. In my experience it was especially popular with the Christ’s College boys, which probably has something to do with the city’s private schools inheriting their culture from Britain’s public schools. “A Jewish boy at a public school almost invariably had a bad time,” wrote Orwell in 1945. Things probably aren’t that much better in 2020. The other day I read an old mate – a private schooler too – on Facebook joking about how Jews are useless at sport.
I suspect for good liberals this is probably shocking. This isn’t language that ever sneaks through our circles. But outside of our cosy hermetic world words like coconut, boonga, fob, wog, gook, curry muncher, towelhead, the hundred variations on the N word, and “Jew” as more than a noun are common currency. The stains from that vocabulary seep into every part of the culture and society, and nothing much has ever been done to wash it out. The first time I remember encountering deliberate, menacing racism is on the rugby paddock when a white coach was yelling at my mate on the wing “run you BLACK bastard”. I thought about that moment when spectators in Christchurch were caught vilifying Fijian player Sake Aca in 2015, screaming from the stands “black cunt”.
Fandoms like to imagine their sports, multicultural rugby especially, as pure and independent realms (“a level playing field”) absent race, politics, or any disadvantage other than skill. It’s a seductive argument, I’ll concede that much, but it’s so self-evidently false it still surprises me every time someone insists on it earnestly. Sport? Not racist? In 2012 talkback callers and trolls went after then Blues coach Pat Lam and his family for the great crime of simply being Polynesian. In 2010 former All Black Andy Haden was put through the wringer for telling media the Crusaders only recruit a maximum three “darkies”, presumably to preserve the team’s famous brain-brawn balance.
Even in the laudatory histories New Zealand rugby was, and probably remains, a notorious nexus for down home conservatives, know-nothing administrators, and out and out racists. In 1960 the rugby union sent the All Blacks on tour to Apartheid South Africa, waving the team off without any Māori players or officials in a remarkable sop to the country’s colour bar. In 1976 the national team were sent back, this time defying international calls to cut sporting ties with the racist state. In protest at the tour more than twenty African countries led a boycott at that year’s Olympics, a moral stand that should perpetually shame New Zealand Rugby. Not racist? As if.
In an ideal world the Canterbury Crusaders would study this history, carefully considering whether their decision to retain the team name is another brick in rugby’s wall of shame. The managers might consider how “deus vult”, meaning God wills it, a battle cry from the first Crusade, and “Acre 1189”, a reference to a siege in the third Crusade, are URL shorthands and postscripts for white supremacist users constructing a historiography for their neo-fascist movement. The managers might also reflect on how real-life white supremacists in countries like Brazil, Norway, and Australia are adopting the Knights Templar, the Christian warrior monks who made up the crusading hordes, and the literal white knight that was formerly the Canterbury team’s logo, as their saints.
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CRUSADERS MASCOTS AT AMI STADIUM IN CHRISTCHURCH IN 2019. PHOTO: DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES. FEATURE IMAGE: FRIDAY PRAYERS AT AL NOOR MOSQUE ON MARCH 22, 2019. PHOTO BY SANKA VIDANAGAMA/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
As it happens the team’s managers, after kicking the issue to a “market research” firm shortly after March 15, made the call to save the name. It’s an unconscionable decision, for obvious reasons, but the team bosses seem cognitively incapable of reasoning through the issue and its implications beyond mere “branding”. In a statement announcing the name-stay the team’s PR people wrote “for us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community,” as if it’s possible to just reframe the holy war using a press release. It’s a cretinous thing to do when not even a year earlier an alleged shooter undertook a massacre at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques as part of his own “crusade”.
A28-year-old man is before the High Court facing 52 murder charges relating to the events of March 15. What we know about his life is little, save the things he was curating about himself online, which in this essay I treat with caution and scepticism. But it seems clear enough the Australian citizen was an obsessive for the Crusades, scribbling references to the religious war for the Holy Land across the weapon police accuse the man of using to carry out the massacre. Investigative reports note in his pilgrimage to Europe the 28-year-old – who pleaded not guilty to all charges – made particular visits to Christian-Muslim battlegrounds in the former Ottoman Empire, apparently as a tribute to the crusading warmongers he was so keen to match.
To outsiders the obsession with this particular historical episode is probably bizarre, if not creepy. But in the nether world this man and his neo-fascist comrades inhabit they imagine they’re acting out the thesis and title in Samuel P Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations. In his 1993 essay the American political scientist argues that in the immediate past global conflicts were between warring ideological factions – capitalism and communism – but post-Cold War conflict will centre between clashing civilisations. The West vs the rest. Christianity vs Islam. The Crusades II.
In Huntington’s telling, and in the alleged shooter’s head, the West and the Islamic world are fated to compete. Yet that competition won’t centre over economic issues like stable oil supply lines, or even political issues like the territorial integrity of Western allies in the Middle East, instead the clash is meant to happen over Islam’s apparently regressive values and the West’s progressive tradition. It’s a striking thesis, especially for the generals and politicians who were hunting for cover for their military adventures in the Middle East and East Africa in the late 80s and early 90s. But it was always a notion that was impossible to apply, reducing the Islamic world to a series of stereotypes (it never had its enlightenment) and setting it against an equally reductive West (it did have its enlightenment).
The late Edward Said, the Palestinian scholar, cut right to the heart of Huntington’s argument in identifying it wasn’t an argument at all – rather, he was “a partisan, an advocate of one so-called civilisation over all others” who maps billions of people into “vague” and “manipulable” abstractions and then presents it as a true account of the world. “Thus to build a conceptual framework around the notion of us-versus-them is in effect to pretend that the principal consideration is epistemological and natural – our civilisation is now and accepted, theirs is different and strange – whereas in fact the framework separating us from them is belligerent, constructed, and situational.”
In other words, the thing separating the Christian us from the Islamic them, to the extent a clean separation is possible at all, is history – of colonialism, of Cold War power politics – and not immutable categories like “the West” or “the East”. That the categories exist at all are a function of history and political convenience, not a universal law stipulating conflict as the only end. Yet for the neo-fascists like the alleged shooter every thought they cherish orbits this particular rock: that the entire Islamic world is one dirty blob of terrorism, rape, and invasion, and that all its more than one billion members act with a single purpose and co-ordination unknown in the entire history of humanity.
But why commit to a dichotomy so obviously stupid at all? The 28-year-old grew up in Grafton, a waterway town in northern New South Wales, and in his time on the Eastern seaboard it seems unlikely he ever actually met many Muslim people at all. In his own family’s account they were just ordinary Aussies. It’s impossible to interrogate the claim – every family thinks itself the norm and we can’t penetrate their private lives to investigate how true it is – yet the family were probably ordinary in one sense. They were unremarkable. Just another white family. The alleged shooter’s parents were in traditional jobs. Mum a teacher. Dad a rubbish man.
The people who were closest to him – cousins, old school mates – pinpoint his OE to Europe as “the moment”. As RNZ reports in his manifesto the alleged shooter recounts his trip through North Korea and Pakistan, paying tribute to the locals’ kindness and hospitality (noticing the contradiction he explains he doesn’t hate the yellows and blacks who stay in their own “homelands”). Eventually he lands in Europe, road tripping France. In one passage he despairs that he can’t seem to find an all-white town or city. In another passage his travels take him, quite conveniently, to a cemetery for the European dead of the world wars. “I broke into tears, sobbing alone in the car,” he writes, mourning the apparent Islamification of Europe. “Why were we allowing these soldiers deaths to be in vain?”
He didn’t realise that the dead he mourned died trying to kill people like him.
In 2018 I wrote (presciently, without claiming too much credit for an insight this awful) that “white nationalism is, for the basement dwelling 4chaners, mouth breathing Redditors, and Youtube philosopher kings, nothing more than a desperate search for an alternative fatherland”. That search is what drove the alleged shooter from his Australian home. “The origin of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European… most importantly, my blood is European”. To the alleged shooter his actual home was irredeemable. “What is an Australian but a drunk European?”
In each claim is a desperate narcissism, reaching for an imaginary identity when your existing accomplishments don’t match your personal ambitions. It’s tempting to extend that psychoanalysis. The alleged shooter’s fetish for imaginary “whites” is a cover for the trauma of being a nothing, disembodied. Or maybe the urge to order and rank the world into competing civilisations is a neurosis, like stacking your knives and forks in a row. Perhaps the pleasure he takes in trolling is jouissance, a momentary transgression in the service of briefly feeling. Yet those readings are weightless if they stand alone. The alleged shooter’s interior life is relevant, certainly so for a conviction on murder, but studying the actually existing politics that shaped his positions and actions seems more important than base speculation.
In The Invention of Tradition the historians Terence Ranger and Eric Hobsbawm argue that traditions, far from the ancient wisdoms of old, are often nothing more than recent beliefs that help foster a common identity when – to borrow from Said – “organic solidarities” like the family or village break down. The inventions are easy to spot in the courts and parliament where British ritual connects the two institutions to a pedigree and past that their move half away across the world broke. In the neo-fascist movement the inventions are slightly more subtle, taking actual historical happenings like the Crusades and pick-and-mixing the symbols (Knights Templar), battles (Acre 1189), and language (deus vult) that they can contort around the various anti-Muslim bigotries.
The idea that traditions are a kind of stand-in where old connections break down seems especially apt in settler colonies where the relationship to the past and a present community often amounts to nothing more than a shopping list of shared habits and references. Gumboots as culture. I appreciate that description could come across as banal, or even malicious, but it gets close to the impulses apparently guiding the alleged shooter: the search for meaningful political connections and political community. As he saw it Australia had no identity to offer. Instead he found his connection in an “imagined community” – in violent European nationalisms – and online.
“I am a racist”, the man writes in his manifesto. His neo-fascists comrades were too.

2

One of the first inspirations he cites is Luca Traini, a 28-year-old Italian neo-Nazi who, with a 9mm glock, went on a drive-by shooting injuring six African migrants in Macarata in 2018. The racist rampage lit a fuse under that year’s Italian general election. The left went after Matteo Salvini, the League Party leader, the same party in which Traini stood as a mayoral list candidate, for inspiring his violent work. In an ordinary election a political leader would make an immediate climb down, condemning Traini and his crimes. But Salvini, best known in the English-speaking world for closing harbours to refugees crossing the Med, was surprisingly consistent. He said the left had “blood on its hands” for packing the country with “illegal migrants”. The unspoken implication: Traini was doing his patriotic duty.
The alleged shooter, watching on from another hemisphere, found a brother in arms. The two men had built their identities around all the same hatreds and had clothed their boogeymen in all the same threads. One stitch for migrant “invaders”. Two stiches for liberals and Marxists, and a needle for the “race traitors” among them. But where the twin gunmen’s hatred really met, transforming from online big noting to a real-life passion, was in protecting “their” women. Traini undertook his crime as an apparent act of revenge against the three Nigerian refugees in court for killing 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro.
In his manifesto the alleged shooter offers a similar provocation, taking 11-year-old Ebba Akerlund’s death as his red pill. In his self-mythologising, the Stockholm truck attack, a deadly terrorist attack that took Akerlund’s and four other lives, was his waking moment. “It was another terror attack in the seemingly never-ending attacks that had been occurring on a regular basis throughout my adult life,” he wrote. “But for some reason this was different”. What was that difference? Akerlund. An innocent. It’s a vile misuse – he doesn’t care for anyone or anything beyond himself – but the narrative demands an affect, the shooter turning in his coward’s rags for a knight’s armour.
For neo-fascists it’s essential to tell their origin stories through the opposite sex. For aspiring movement leaders like the alleged shooter it’s the fight to protect the “virtue” of “our women” against “Muslim rapists” that forces their hand. For lurkers, shitposters, and like-avores it’s the feminists and “Staceys” who never recognise the genius and vigour of their own race (plain meaning: “women don’t want me”) who lead them into fascism. Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger, a martyr for beta males, undertook his crimes and suicide as an apparent act of “retribution” against women for denying him the sex and love he thought of as his by right.
This, not the customary declarations of love for the race, or even the thrill of sharing the same enemies, is usually the heart of online fascism – it’s a reaction against women.
In Male Fantasies the German sociologist Klaus Theweleit argues the fascist men who fought against the Weimar Republic from 1918 to 1933, and who went on to prominent positions and a political home in the Nazi regime, were in their heads and hearts afraid of women. For the “Freikorps” there were two womanly classes: White Women, “the nurses” representing order and servitude to men and country; and Red Women, “the communists” representing disorder, whoring, and the end of patriotic men. The latter were the women the paramilitary movement were under an obligation to kill. In one speech a general complains that when “a few old girls get blown up the whole world starts screaming about bloodthirsty soldiers”.
“As if women were always innocent,” he said.
This is why every fascist movement purges women first – metaphorically and actually. In Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema the American historian describes how films under the Duce’s regime “remove the Italian woman from the colonial space”, portraying the colonies as where men might find purpose through trans-national thuggery, and attacking women’s emancipation at home as a “corrupting” force and a check on the people’s success. The alleged shooter undertook his killings with similar illusions. That he could forge a new identity in gun fire and blood, and that liberated women (and Jews) were responsible for his personal and racial decline. In his manifesto the opening line is “it’s the birth rates”, repeated three times.
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THE WELLINGTON 15/3 VIGIL HELD AT THE BASIN RESERVE (PHOTO BY ELIAS RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES)
It’s easy to diagnose the same pathologies in his comrades. Game developers Zoë Quinn, Brianna Wu and media critic Anita Sarkeesian – the victims in 2014’s Gamergate troll – were made targets for harassment for no other reason than they were women crossing the border between a man’s stuff (the spacies) and a woman’s role (sex and housework). In New Zealand the death threats against Golriz Ghahraman, our first MP who arrived in New Zealand as a refugee, are so frequent Parliamentary Services ensures special protection for the Green MP. The critics go after Ghahraman for everything from fakery (her “CV” is a lie, she isn’t a “real refugee”) to acting as part of a globalist conspiracy to wipe out the white race. It’s impressively stupid, of course, but the point isn’t the truth in the charges. It’s that an Iranian-born woman sits in our parliament.
The same trolls go for the prime minister on Twitter’s #TurnArdern hashtag too, condemning Jacinda as a lazy woman (#parttimePM) who coasts along on nothing more than her femininity (“she’s a pretty communist”). That’s hardly out of the ordinary, of course. In the 2000s print commentators were comfortable enough to throw equally chauvinist slurs at Helen Clark, using “Helengrad” for Clark as the controlling woman and “political dominatrix” for ball-breaking the men around her. The difference is today’s trolls serve their sexism with Islamophobia on top. Last year activist Rangi Kemara found a telling correlation between tweeters of Turn Ardern and tweeters of Islamophobia. The Christchurch man selling MAGA hats – “Make Ardern Go Away” – on TradeMe once wrote he would destroy “mosque after mosque till I am taken out”.
Give me the misogynist, to corrupt an old saying, and I’ll show you the Islamophobe.
Simone Weil, the French philosopher, would recognise in the turn to Europe – and the turn against women – a classic “uprooting”. In almost every country material comfort and security often rely on cutting the cord between a person, the past, and a present community: removing Indigenous people from their land; separating citizens from their homes and families in one place for work in another; and reducing people to their supposedly “innate” categories (race, gender, etc). These uprootings, in Weil’s words, are a “sickness of the soul” that leave men especially vulnerable to demagoguery. In their search for past and present connections they turn to “false conceptions” like patriotism and national greatness, and at the core of each in 2020: hatred for and fear of women.

3

What’s notable about this neo-fascist movement isn’t necessarily its reach but its mode. Online, yes, but more importantly: politically free. Other than finance, the alleged shooter had no political or bureaucratic restraints. He could post all the tell-tale things he apparently did, and it seemed neither the police nor the spy agencies would ever flag it. He could acquire the semi-automatic weapon the Crown charge him with using with nothing more than a gun licence – and the seller was under no obligation to log the purchase. And he could move between Australia and New Zealand’s practically open borders with only a passport and a straight face for the eGate.
I hope you register the irony in this. Borders were the very thing the alleged shooter was desperate to enforce against the Muslim hordes. After moving to New Zealand, ostensibly to plan an attack back home, the 28-year-old found instead that “the invaders were in all of our lands”. Even at the bottom of the world in formerly lily-white Christchurch. “Nowhere was safe”, he wrote. The alleged shooter, in a bonfire of pomposity and self-regard, actually did think himself at the centre of a civilisational struggle between the out-bred West and Islam. In the mind of the manifesto writer, massacring Muslims would enforce the borders the supposed sell outs in government wouldn’t.
But in allegedly killing the innocent people he did he wasn’t taking on a powerful soon-to-be majority. Rather, on one side is the 28-year-old with all his political and social freedoms, and on the other are the shooting’s victims who were living their lives under significant political and social restraints. The spy agencies were dedicating their resources to “Islamic terrorism”, not the alleged shooter’s terrorism. Police commit more resources to “street gangs” – that is, Māori – and barely even bother with the alleged shooter’s brothers and sisters in white power. The immigration department, as any anecdote can confirm, focuses disproportionate attention on non-white entries, and the only people who move freely between borders are people like the 28-year-old.
In short: non-white people live their lives under scrutiny and surveillance.
The government’s official response to the Christchurch shooting is to extend that scrutiny and surveillance to, well, white people. Jacinda Ardern is leading reforms to gun laws and the rules governing how online users share violent, racist, and other objectionable material. Last month the country’s top spies told a parliamentary select committee that they’re keeping watch on dozens of suspect characters. Police, even a year on, are still making home visits to destroy illegal weapons and otherwise interview lurkers and posters. The changes, taken together, rightly remove the freedom and options the alleged shooter had, and make it almost impossible for his comrades to organise.
Yet as good and necessary as those changes are some of the structural conditions that produce the racial distinctions the alleged shooter holds so dear are left intact.
In organised debating one of the famous moots is the “balloon debate”. In it each speaker, usually arguing on behalf of someone famous, proposes why the others shouldn’t toss him or her over the side of a hot air balloon in order to save the others. It’s a riveting hypothetical, placing six people in disaster’s mouth and exercising the collective choice to doom one and rescue the others. But for anyone who understands how it feels to have their apparent merits and demerits subject to “debate”, with someone else drawing up a balance sheet in red and black, it’s horrendous. The idea is we’re born equal, but after that all bets are off. This is what women, takatāpui, Māori, Muslims, and other deviations from the “norm” deal with most days.
Are we worthy?
It’s the same principle that organises immigration to New Zealand: who’s worthy? In our system the government literally attaches “points” to the world’s hopeful according to their potential for improving the lives of the hosts. Good English? Points. A tertiary qualification? Add to the tally. Assets? You’re basically in. The system’s political champions admire this approach for its rationality. Unlike the US where immigration sometimes relies on a lottery – eg the American Diversity Immigrant Visa – or just keen racism – i.e. the Muslim travel ban – New Zealand immigration is hassle-free and non-discriminatory.
It’s a self-serving argument, of course, because an immigration system where the purpose and function is defining inclusions and exclusions (who’s in and who’s out) is never neutral. When Winston Peters calls for tighter English language requirements, for example, that’s really an argument for conferring an advantage on applicants from the Anglosphere over people with equivalent skills or greater need from other parts of the world. This isn’t explicitly discriminatory, at least in the sense the exclusionary threshold doesn’t depend on a person’s race, but the impact is racist in that one group of people (mostly white) enjoy an advantage over another group (mostly non-white) thanks to nothing more than the great good fortune of being born an English speaker.
It’s a perversity. Yet this is what border systems, including our points system, do: they force you to think about inners and outers. The threshold between the worthy and the unworthy. This is one reason the refugee-led campaign to end the “family link policy” was so important. In removing the rule barring African and Middle Eastern refugees from settling in New Zealand (unless their family were already here) the campaigners saw to one of the worst racial exclusions our border system made. If you’re an optimist you might hope the other racist exclusions in our border laws – like The Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act, the legislation stripping Samoans of their Privy Council-confirmed New Zealand citizenship – are but a campaign away from abolition.
I’m a pessimist.
I suspect most people imagine borders as objects, a line in the ground demarcating our country from theirs. Yet the American southern border, as one example, is notable more for “the Wall’s” absence than its presence. The northern border is even less dramatic, a largely wide-open space with fences here and there to pen in the farm animals. In New Zealand airlines usually enforce the country’s borders thousands of kilometres from our actual line on the map. Under the Advance Passenger Screening programme carriers only board passengers with the appropriate documentation.
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A POLICE OFFICER DEMONSTRATES ILLEGAL GUN MODIFICATIONS. (PHOTO: RNZ / ANA TOVEY)
It’s another marvellous technocratic achievement, appointing airline staff as de facto border patrol agents. But like the points system the screening programme’s impacts can end up perverse and racial making it almost impossible for refugees and asylum seekers from “non-visa waiver countries” (i.e. the developing world) from ever making it far enough to lodge a claim for protection in New Zealand. The programme, more than anything else, exposes borders for what they really are – a list of biased inclusions and exclusions – and the structural violence borders perform are in whom they include (the English-speaking, the educated, the wealthy) and who they exclude (the desperate, the poor, the mostly brown and black).
The alleged shooter and the neo-fascist movement understand a struggle is happening over the nature and function of borders. This man recognised new borders – the “balkanisation of the US” – as the only way to guarantee “the future of the White race on the North American continent”. His comrades, like the neo-Nazi who went on a stabbing riot on a train in Oregon, claim their end goal is smashing the US into competing ethno-states. For them – and their king in President Trump – reconfiguring the borders, whether as policy changes to the inclusions and exclusions or new border lines entirely, is the best way to guarantee their political supremacy this century.
Are borders by their very nature racist?

4

I took my last trip to Christchurch a month and a half after March 15. I had a speaking engagement with Network Waitangi Otautahi, the local tauiwi Treaty group. I thought about putting it off. Post-March 15 the only conversations that seem urgent and necessary are about March 15. Taking up space felt wrong, and even stepping off the plane felt intrusive. The city was grieving. Even the affect was off. People were unusually quiet in public spaces. In private one person I spoke to was literally in tears. We weren’t talking about March 15 at all but she was thinking about it every day. Even that felt like I was taking up space. Am I here to grieve too? I thought about Sam Neill breaking down in a taxi when the news broke, openly weeping, and how he took comfort from his Muslim driver.
Hmmm.
I spoke, in the end. Not entirely comfortably, but an intervention of one kind or another felt right after the racism debate went from “individual hate” to “firearms access” to “the internet”. Each is its own valid connection, sure, but it felt as if all the most important connections were missing. In the English-speaking world it’s fashionable to name private, individual acts as “racist”. The intolerant, unfair, or simply racial things that fall out of people’s mouths. Like “cheeky darkies” on the 7pm telly. But it’s unfashionable, of course, to name racist systems. Instead bureaucrats and opinion-makers opt for euphemisms like “unconscious bias”, reducing racism to a state of mind and not a systemic design.
This is why I thought it important to issue a reminder, in the very small way that I could: racism is a social relation. It’s the principle governing the relationship between coloniser – the people who took this land and built the institutions to control and profit from it – and colonised, the people from whom the land was taken and the institutions built to protect and exploit the founding theft. The same principle shapes the relationship between citizens – people who enjoy all the rights the state confers – and non-citizens, outsiders who must prove their worth through their contribution to citizens.
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These are the systemic conditions that produce racism – unequal power relations – and it’s what makes it so easy to condemn the Māoris or the immigrants or whoever else. When one people are up and the other are down, and the scales are apparently resistant to any remedial attempts to balance them with Treaty settlements or an increase in the refugee and asylum seeker quota, it makes it seem as if their disadvantage is a state of nature and not a centuries-long project to exclude certain people from prosperity. To the alleged shooter his victims were by their very nature irredeemable, abusing the West’s generosity, and he understood himself as enacting the same permanent exclusions his ancestors made, from the Crusades to the war on terror.
In this sense, the alleged shooter was an individual racist. Of course he was. But in another sense he was taking our exclusionary systems to their logical end.
Is there any response to savagery like this? The government’s reforms are one. I entirely support them. And yet they fall so short. People will still define their identity in different nationalisms, just like the alleged shooter did, so long as there are racist border system to enforce them. Neo-fascists will still define their identities against women as long as there is an unequal “domestic sphere”, an unequal workplace, and a society where one group – men – accumulate and exercise disproportionate power over another – women, trans people, non-binary people. That makes the struggle against the alleged shooter’s politics longer than his trial, his probable conviction, and his probable imprisonment. It’s a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism.
On my read Simone Weil’s original, vital insight is that as people and communities we find our identities in the obligations we owe – and in the obligations owed to us. In those reciprocal relationships we find meaning and purpose. In the give and take, in its delights and frustrations, and in the everyday work of making a home in these islands. This is where we find our roots, connecting to each other in different ways – whether as Māori or women or Muslims – but never excluding. “They are us” is an inclusion. They are us is an affirmation. They are us is also an urgent and uncomfortable call to action. As New Zealanders, it’s our responsibility to take on every exclusionary system, whether it’s racist borders or enduring gender roles. The memory of those who lost their lives on March 15 demands no less."
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Joe Walsh Will Not Save Us (G-File)

Dear Reader (including the poor Biden staffers who have to white-knuckle their armrests when not sucking down unfiltered Marlboros every time Joe Biden gives an interview),
If you’ve never heard the Milton Friedman shovels and spoons story, you will (and I don’t just mean here). Because everyone on the right tells some version of it at some point. The other Uncle Miltie (i.e., not the epically endowed comedic genius) goes to Asia or Africa or South America and is taken on a tour of some public works project in a developing country. Hundreds of laborers are digging with shovels. Milton asks the official in charge something like, “Why use shovels when earth moving equipment would be so much more efficient?”
The official replies that this is a jobs program and using shovels creates more jobs.
Friedman guffaws and asks, “In that case: Why not use spoons?”
The story might not be true, but the insight is timeless.
Here’s another story: When I was in college, we were debating in intro to philosophy the differences between treating men and women “equally” versus treating them the “same.” At first blush, the two things sound synonymous, but they’re not (indeed the difference illuminates the chasm of difference between classical liberalism and socialism, but that’s a topic for another day). I pointed out that there were some firefighter programs that had different physical requirements for male applicants and female ones (this was before it was particularly controversial—outside discussions of Foucault—to assume there were clear differences between sexes). Female applicants had to complete an obstacle course carrying a 100-pound dummy, but men had to carry a 200-pound dummy, or something like that. A puckish freshperson named Jonah Goldberg said: “I don’t really care if a firefighter is a man, a woman, or a gorilla, I’d just like them to be able to rescue me from a fire.”
A woman sitting in front of me wheeled around and womansplained to me that “you can always just hire two women.”
I shot back something like, “You could also hire 17 midgets, that’s not the point.”
(I apologize for using the word midget, which wasn’t on the proscribed terms list at the time.)
But here’s the thing: Sometimes it is the point. Whether you’re talking about spoons or little people, the case for efficiency is just one case among many. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s an important one, but it’s not the only one. Sometimes older children are told to bring their little brothers or sisters along on some trip. They’ll complain, “But they’ll just slow us down!” or, “But they aren’t allowed on the big kid rides.” Parents understand the point, but they are not prioritizing efficiency over love. Or, they’re prioritizing a different efficiency: Not being stuck with a little kid who’s crying all day because he or she was left behind.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie Searching for Bobby Fischer is when the chess tutor Bruce Pandolfini, played by Ben Kingsley, tells the chess prodigy’s parents that they have to forbid their son from playing pickup chess in the park because he learns bad chess habits there. The mom says “Not playing in the park would kill him. He loves it.”
Kingsley replies, accurately, that it “just makes my job harder.”
And the mom says, “Then your job is harder.”
I love that. I love it precisely because it recognizes that good parents recognize that there are trade-offs in life and that the best option isn’t always the most efficient one.
This is one of those places where you can see how wisdom and expertise can diverge from one another.
The Unity of Goodness
Efficiency can mean different things in different contexts. In business, it means profit maximization (or cost reduction, which is often the same thing). In sports, it means winning. Always giving the ball to the best player annoys the other players who want their own shot at glory, but so long as he can be counted on to score, most coaches will err on the side of winning. Starting one-legged players will wildly improve a basketball team’s diversity score, but it’s unlikely to improve the score that matters to coaches—or fans.
I’ve long argued that there’s something in the progressive mind that dislikes this whole line of thinking. They often tend to find the idea of trade-offs to be immoral or offensive. I call it the “unity of goodness” worldview. Once you develop an ear for it, you can hear it everywhere. “I refuse to believe that economic growth has to come at the expense of the environment.” “There’s no downside to putting women in combat.” “I don’t want to live in a society where families have to choose between X and Y,” or “I for one reject the idea that we have to sacrifice security for freedom—or freedom for security.” Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were masters at declaring that all hard choices were “false choices”—as if only mean-spirited people would say you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
Saint Greta
Nowhere is this mindset more on display in environmentalism. Everyone hawking the Green New Deal insists that it’s win-win all the way down. It’s Bastiat’s broken window parable on an industrialized scale. Spending trillions to switch to less efficient forms of energy will boost economic growth and create jobs, they insist. I’d have much more respect for these arguments if they simply acknowledged that doing a fraction of what they want will come at considerable cost.
Consider Greta Thunberg, the latest child redeemer of the climate change movement. She hates planes because they spew CO2. That’s why she sailed from Sweden to a conference in New York. As symbolism, it worked, at least for the people who already agree with her. But in economic terms, she might as well have raised the Spoon Banner off the main mast of her multi-million-dollar craft (that may have a minimal carbon footprint now, but required an enormous carbon down-payment to create). The organizers of this stunt had to fly two people to New York to bring the ship back across the Atlantic. And scores of reporters flew across the Atlantic to cover her heroic act of self-denial. Her nautical virtue signaling came at a price.
The organizers insist that they will buy carbon offsets to compensate for the damage done. But that’s just clever accounting. The cost is still real. And that’s not the only cost. It took her fifteen days to get to America. In other words, she actually proved the point of many of her critics. Fossil fuels come with costs all their own—geopolitical, environmental, etc.—but the upside of those downsides is far greater efficiency. If you want to get across the Atlantic in seven hours instead of two weeks, you need fossil fuels. The efficiency of modern technology reduces costs by giving human beings more time to do other stuff.
The Conservative Planners
The unity of goodness mindset has been spreading to the right these days as well. The new conservative critics of the free market see the efficiency of the market as a threat to other good things. And they’re right, as Joseph Schumpeter explained decades ago. For instance, just as earth-moving equipment replaces ditch-diggers in the name of efficiency, robots replace crane operators, and the communities that depended on those jobs often suffer as a result.
I have no quarrel with this observation. My problem is with the way they either sell their program as cost-free, or pretend that the right experts can run things better from Washington. They know which jobs or industries need the state to protect them from the market. They know how to run Facebook or Google to improve the Gross National Virtue Index. Many of the same people who once chuckled at the Spoons story now nod sagely. I don’t mean to say that there’s no room for government to regulate economic affairs. But I am at a loss as to why I should suspend my skepticism for right-wingers when they work from the same assumptions of the left-wingers I’ve been arguing with for decades.
Embracing Trumpism to Own Trump
Instead I want—or I guess need—to talk about another trade-off. I’ve been very reluctant to weigh in on the Joe Walsh project for a bunch of reasons. The biggest is that I am friends with some of the people cheering it on. But I think I have to offer my take.
I don’t get it.
Oh, I certainly understand the desire to see a primary challenger to Trump. I share that desire. And I understand the political calculation behind the effort. It’s like when one little league team brings in some dismayingly brawny and hirsute player from Costa Rica as a ringer. The other teams feel like they have to get their own 22-year-olds with photoshopped birth certificates in order to compete. My friend Bill Kristol is convinced that Trump must be defeated and that Walsh is just the mongoose to take on the Cobra-in-Chief.
I try not to recycle metaphors or analogies too much, but this seems like another example of a Col. Nicholson move. As I’ve written before, Col. Nicholson was the Alec Guinness character in The Bridge Over the River Kwai. The commanding officer of a contingent of mostly British POWs being held by the Japanese, Nicholson at first follows the rules and refuses to cooperate with his captors in their effort to use British captives as slave labor for a bridge project. But then his pride kicks in and he decides he will show the Japanese what real soldiering is like, agreeing to build the bridge as a demonstration of British superiority in civil engineering. [Spoiler alert] It’s only at the end of the film that he realizes that building the bridge may have been a kind of short-sighted moral victory, but in reality he was helping the Japanese kill allied troops because the bridge was going to be used for shipping Japanese troops and ammunition. When this realization finally arrives, he exclaims, “My God, what have I done?”
Walsh’s primary brief against Trump is that Trump is temperamentally unfit for office and a con man. Fair enough. But he has to focus his indictment on Trump’s erratic behavior. Why? Because he’s a terrible spokesman for much of the rest of the case against Trump. I may not call myself “Never Trump” any more, but I was in 2016. And back then, the argument against Trump wasn’t simply that he was erratic. It was also that he wasn’t a conservative, that he happily dabbled in racism and bigotry, and that he was crude, ill-informed, and narcissistically incapable of putting his personal interests and ego aside for the good of the country. I’m sure I’m leaving a few other things out. But you get the point.
Walsh may be sincere in his remorse over all the racist and incendiary things he said in the very recent past. He may regret supporting his anti-Semitic friend Paul Nehlen, though I haven’t found evidence of that. But none of that history should be seen as qualifications for the presidency, the Republican nomination, or support from conservatives.
And yet, it is precisely these things that make him attractive to his conservative supporters. Trump is an entertainer who trolls his enemies with offensive statements for attention, so let’s find someone who does the exact same thing!
Walsh may have been a one-term congressman, but his true vocation was as a shock-jock trolling provocateur. It’s ironic. As I’ve argued countless times, much of Trump’s bigotry in 2016 stemmed less from any core convictions than from a deep belief that the GOP’s base voters were bigoted and he needed to feed them red meat. Trump's reluctance to repudiate David Duke derived primarily from his ridiculous assumption that Duke had a large constituency he didn’t want to offend. He may have believed the Birther stuff, but he peddled it because that’s what his fans wanted. And Joe Walsh was one of those fans.
It may also be true that Walsh never really believed most of the bilge he was peddling and that he was doing the same thing Trump did—feeding the trolls—on a smaller scale. But if that’s the case, then he’s a con man, too.
I don’t want to beat up on Walsh too much because, again, his epiphany may be sincere. There are lots of people who pushed certain arguments too far only to recognize that the payoff was Trump and the transformation of conservatism into a form of right-wing identity politics. There are a lot of Col. Nicholsons out there. And I have too much respect for Bill Kristol to believe that he would lend his support to someone he believed to be as bigoted as the man Walsh seemed to be a few years ago.
But from where I sit, the prize we should keep our eyes on isn’t defeating Trump; it’s keeping conservatism from succumbing to Trumpism after he’s gone. This isn’t easy, and no tactic is guaranteed to be successful. We’ve never been here before. My own approach is to agree with Trump policies when I think they’re right—judges, buying Greenland, etc.—and disagreeing when they’re wrong. My own crutch is to simply tell the truth as I see it, regardless of whether it fits into some larger political agenda or strategy. Truth is always a legitimate defense of any statement.
But for those who see themselves as political players as well as public intellectuals, I think this is a terrible mistake. Intellectually and morally, the case for continued opposition to—or skepticism about, Trump cannot—or rather must not—be reduced to simple Trump hatred. But by rallying around Walsh—instead of, say, Mark Sanford, or Justin Amash, or, heh, General Mattis—that’s what it looks like. Because you can’t say, “I’m standing on principle in my opposition to a bigoted troll and con man as the leader of my party and my country and that’s why I am supporting a less successful bigoted troll and con man for president.” Walsh isn’t a conservative alternative to Trump; he’s an alternative version of Trump. And his candidacy only makes sense if you take the “binary choice” and “Flight 93” logic of 2016 and cast Trump in the role of Hillary.
Let’s imagine the Walsh gambit works beyond anyone’s dreams and Joe Walsh ends up getting the GOP nomination (a fairly ludicrous thought experiment, I know). If so, I have no doubt that my friend Bill Kristol will say, a la Col. Nicholson, “My God, what have I done.”
Various & Sundry
Canine Update: It’s good to be home. The beasts were delighted to see us. Everything is settling back to normal, except for one intriguing development. I think Zoë has finally had enough with Pippa’s tennis ball routine. The other day on the midday walk with the pack, Kirsten managed to film Zoë putting an end to the tennis ball shenanigans. She took the ball and buried it. It was, to use an inapt phrase, a baller move—and she was unapologetic about it. Maybe she just didn’t like all the commotion with the other dogs, because she’s tolerant of the tennis ball stuff again. Or maybe she was being protective of her sister given that many of the other dogs in the pack are known thieves. Regardless, they’re doing well and having fun.
If you haven’t tuned into The Remnant lately, please give it another try. The first episode of the week was with Niall Ferguson and the feedback has been great. The latest episode is with my friend and AEI colleague Adam White on all things constitutional. Word of mouth is really important in building up audiences, so if you can spread the word about The Remnant or this “news”letter, I’d be grateful.
submitted by Sir-Matilda to tuesday [link] [comments]

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