This record of political commentary, this statement by the Secretary of the Cascadia Chapter of the Pacific Green Party, will not be the first to note, in this post, the intolerable contradiction of present-day activists who uphold human dignity by, on the one hand, encouraging and supporting the free expression of homosexual, transexual, or gender-denying personal behaviors and public statements while, on the other hand, attacking in an endless flood of intolerance, behavior and public statements of people who do not share that viewpoint.
We are as progressives enjoined to support the rights of people who wish to identify as neither male nor female, and in order to do that we are supposed to enlist ourselves in the fight to abolish bathrooms which are divided by sex. Expecting the people who are transgender to adapt to a world where bathrooms are designed to accommodate the 99.7% of the population which acknowledges its division into two sexes has become quite rapidly an “oppressive” act.
When the public pools in the South were integrated, it led to the abandonment by local governments of public pools. Private country clubs opened up instead. Does that mean I believe the public pools should not have been integrated? Not at all. But I think it’s what were going to see here too.
If people can’t sex segregate public toilets, a lot of them won’t maintain public toilets. Instead there will be pay toilets. They probably won’t discriminate; they will be nice, single-use facilities that anyone can feel comfortable in. But they won’t be free.
So the question becomes, does the entire public want to give up free public toilets so that a tiny sliver of that public does not feel discriminated against in their choice of bathroom?
[8 July 2016 Atlantic Monthly]
I’m not saying that the progressives of the country cannot sustain this intolerable contradiction in its advocacy — expand without limit the support for individual exotica, while enjoining using the force of law restriction on the conventional behaviors of the majority. The evangelical churches in the 2016 election went from hostility to Russia to support for Russia within months, given that their nominee was regarded as friendly to Russia; this hypocrisy among many others has not led, and may not in the forseeable future, to the abandonment of the evangelical churches by reason of offensively high levels of hypocrisy.
People have a capacity to believe contradictory things: I taught high school with a biology teacher who professed, as a Christian of conservative stripe, not to believe in Darwinian evolution. (I found her to be evasive on the topic, and not forthcoming about how she reconciled the entire structure of the topic, for the last century or so, but it is not unfair to speak of contradiction held more or less permanently, and in public.) Leftists, such as those who supported Stalin, are no strangers to Doublethink.
For the contradiction goes a lot broader and deeper than the hot-button issue of gender identity. We on the side of greater human dignity regale our audiences endlessly about the evils of capitalism, and how the movement in which we participate (not to exclude the Green Party — of which this blog is a representative outlet) opposes such an evil institution. Explicitly communist states have led to mass slaughter of enormous proportions; Russia collapsed as a Communist regime as soon as people had a choice, and the Chinese version has survived only by jettisoning any pretense to the abolition of corporate enterprise. Even more damaging, the roots of capitalism go back into the early Middle Ages, and not only in Europe, where even after the collapse of the Roman Empire there remained a significant long-distance trade network.
The networks of Jewish merchants also stretched all over the world. Their success story was even more ancient than that of the Armenians: from Roman antiquity, the Syri, whether Jewish or Gentile, were present everywhere: in the nineth century AD, using the communications opened up by the Muslim conquest, Jews from Narbonne “were traveling to Canton by way of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf “; the Geniza documents [explanatory footnote omitted –MM] show an overwhelming preponderance of trading links operating for the benefit of Jewish merchants from “Ifriqya”: from Kairwan to Egypt, Ethiopia and the Indian sub-continent. In the tenth to twelfth centuries, in Egypt (and in Iran and Iraq) certain very rich Jewish families were engaged in long-distance trade, banking, tax-collecting — sometimes for entire provinces.
[Fernand Braudel, Civilization and Capitalism, 1982 English translation, volume II, p. 157.]
It seems to me that not only the practical experience of recent history — take the country of Venezuela as a currently topical example — but also the global historical roots of the practice of capitalist enterprise argue that the effort to extirpate capitalism has always been and still remains, a fool’s errand. Admittedly, despite the efforts put forward, the Green Party has not subscribed (yet!) to the war against capitalism, but there exists a sort of armed truce between the environmental, communitarian aims of the Party and the profit-focused aims of corporate enterprises. We are subversive of capitalism practices, if not the entire institution.
Moving on to other aspects of the contradictory mind-set of my political allies, how can we advocate for greater democracy, yet have so little respect for the democratic result of the 2016 election? Since Trump, since Clinton, were both of them toxic, and yet our own Party got significantly less than one percent of the vote in an election in which we articulated quite reasonably the hypocritical, brutal worship of just that capitalist ethic which is bringing our country, and the world, an endless stream of war and bloodshed, how could we speak of “Not My President” on the day after the election? Ninety-nine percent of the voters rejected rational political policies, for Heaven’s sake! More like, Not My Electorate. Insofar as we honor democratic rule, the Green Party, after half a dozen elections in which we are ignored by the electorate, are failing to treat the results as the will of the people. Indeed, we are now engaged in expensive, apparently pointless, efforts at recount. How that effort is going to change a 99-to-1 vote against us is unclear to me.
Peace, economic sustainability, inclusion of everyone into the public sphere — these are goals worth fighting for. At the moment, although I am reluctant to admit it, I doubt any of the efforts of the Left, including those of my Party, are bringing any of them closer to realization. The pronouncements by Jill Stein’s campaign director and 2004 Party nominee for President Cobb, that we may engage in forceful (not to say violent) suppression of speech by “fascists” does nothing to reassure my misgivings.