A world without judgemental language

An editor-in-chief of an influential scientific journal has received a text about wolves with the following introductory definition:

The wolf is a large predator or a carnivore i.e. it feeds on hoofed animals but also on rodents and insectivores. It is native to Europe, Asia and North America. The wolf lives in families in which the alpha male and alpha female are the most important. Wolves mark their territory by scent and howling. 

My goodness, he thought. It runs foul of all our guidelines! So he replied – politely – to the author:

We would like very much to publish your text. Sadly, what you have submitted is in violation of our community guidelines. As soon as you make your text conform to them, we will be more than willing to accept it. Find attached the guidelines. With best regards.

The author opened the guidelines and began reading.

Well, Just You Wait! (Russian: Ну, погоди!) Soviet cartoon.

Our community guidelines lay emphasis on inclusive language and aim at avoiding terms that establish hierarchy, terms that discriminate against any species of animals, that are prejudiced against their biological roles, words that might incite hatred or be perceived as judgemental. We sincerely hope that you not only understand our policy but also wholeheartedly identify with it. Continue reading

At the political crossroads

It is very often a small step, a small decision and the course of history runs in a different direction. If the past has anything to offer, it is – among other things – a series of social experiments that have been conducted and yielded particular results. Admittedly, we cannot repeat a historical experiment in a laboratory, factoring in the same circumstances. That’s why history is not – strictly speaking – referred to as one of the sciences. Yet, historical experiments are performed and it would be unwise not to learn a lesson from them.

Before World War One both Imperial Germany and Imperial Russia had a number of political movements or parties. One of the most pronounced were the social-democratic parties. True, whereas in Germany social-democrats could act openly, in Russia it was usually not the case. Social democrats – like today’s environmentalists, proponents of Third World immigration to white man’s countries and activists of homosexual movements – sought to uproot the political system, cost it what it may. They saw nothing positive in the world they lived in: all they wanted to do was to destroy it and transform it. No picturesque towns located in picturesque landscapes could ever make them reconsider: they believed that the world was rotten and it needed revamping.

Like their modern political counterparts – the said environmental, homosexual and pro-immigration movements – social democrats were internationalists (in today’s parlour: globalists), anti-nationalist (or, better: anti-patriotic) and they wanted to protect and elevate the downtrodden, the unhappy, the exploited as they were used to defining the poorer sections of society. They saw exploitation and injustice everywhere. They recruited gifted writers who produced novels and stories that described societal ills, thus fuelling general discontent. They had followers among the young and the intellectuals, among people who not being talented enough to assert themselves in a branch of economy, science or agriculture, strove to assert themselves as saviours of humanity, as saviours of the poor and the needy and the downtrodden. Isn’t such a goal noble? 

Rosa Luxemburg – Leon Trotsky

In both cases – among German and Russian social democrats – there were followers of moderate or extreme views. Some members wanted a rather evolutionary change through parliamentary action, through propaganda and the like; others demanded that something be done soon or else. They only believed in violence and enforced changes. They justified the atrocities of the French Revolution of 1789 and the Commune of Paris of 1871. Anything that was believed to hasten the establishment of a new, social order, was welcome. No wonder then, that both the German and the Russian social democrats gradually underwent internal splits. With the collapse of the German and Russian Empires in the aftermath of the First World War, social democrats were voted into took power in Germany. Pretty much the same occurred in Russia: true, it was not the social-democratic party that took the power but socialists-revolutionaries, whose political agenda was close to that promoted by social democrats. That was the time when Germany and Russia stood at the political crossroads. Continue reading

Cry-babies in search of meaning

It used to be the family, but nowadays young people delay having a family or do not want to have one at all. It used to be the struggle for mere survival, but nowadays the affluent state takes good care of anybody, so you do not need to work at all. It used to be patriotism, but – again – the word has been tarnished and replaced with the negatively charged nationalism. It used to be the strong sense of identity, but then European identities are frowned upon to say the least and European people are made to feel guilty and ashamed of themselves. It used to be the care about religious salvation, hence a preoccupation with a virtuous life, but Christianity has died out. For all the vacuum that has been created, man needs a purpose, man needs meaning. This purpose, this meaning has been duly suggested to the young, and these are:

[1] environment protection – climate change – sustainable development;

[2] veneration of non-Europeans – migrations – anti-racism, and

[3] gender mainstreaming.

Yes, these goals have been whispered into the ears of the impressionable minds, then reinforced and eventually imposed by the three powerful tools that shape the human mind: education, media and entertainment. Why do we say that these goals are by no means spontaneous but have been suggested? Simply, because they are all recognized, endorsed and backed by governments, mainstream media and main organizations. On the other hand, the things that have disappeared – patriotism, religious salvation, the family – are glossed over, critiqued, ridiculed or banned as topics of acceptable conversation. Make a thought experiment like this one: students cut classes and instead join street demonstrations in support of environment protection (Fridays For Future). Do you think the students will be expelled from school? Perhaps they will be disciplined otherwise? No, you don’t think so. Now picture to yourself the same students cutting school for the purpose of joining a demonstration against the ever rising numbers of immigrants. The school authorities would be very quick to act. You know they would. The students would be denounced as insensitive, xenophobic racists and what not. How about media coverage? Well, those protesting against environment pollution would receive warm attention. The few comments pointing to the controversies of such actions would only serve the purpose of making the reader, listener or viewer believe that the protesters are evaluated objectively. How about those who would dare to express their indignation at the changing ethnic composition of the society they live in? Do you think they would be spared any harsh criticism? 


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A League of Discontent

THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. Life on Earth is in crisis. Our climate is changing faster than scientists predicted and the stakes are high. Biodiversity loss. Crop failure. Social and ecological collapse. Mass extinction. We are running out of time, and our governments have failed to act. Extinction Rebellion was formed to fix this.” This catastrophic prediction assails the reader when we visits https://rebellion.global. Up to the 20th century such ghastly, disturbing and bleak visions were conjured up by individuals who the modern man is inclined to call religious fanatics, religious fundamentalists or – more scientifically – mentally deranged. It is the proverbial Middle Ages that were fraught with itinerant preachers who would scare their listeners out of their wits, who would call on them to repent and put their life to rights or else. It is by no means different nowadays. Present-day moralizers have merely changed the religion. It is no longer imaginary hell – spiritual death – but extinction of all life; it is no longer eternal salvation but comfortable existence here and now; it is no longer Satan and his devils but technology and governments; it is no longer God and his angels but humanity in its many manifestations like “ethnicity, race, class, gender, gender identity, gender presentation, sexuality, age, income, ability, education, appearance, immigration status, belief or non-belief and activist experience” (the usual string of words); it is no longer moral sin but pollution of the environment; no longer virtuous life but life dedicated to ecology; no longer God’s wrath but nature’s wrath; no longer the Mother of God but Mother Earth.

The 21st century crusaders – operating in 75 countries and forming 568 local groups that are present at Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube – demand aggressively that governments:

1. TELL THE TRUTH i.e. declare a climate and ecological emergency;

2. ACT NOW i.e. halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025; and

3. GO BEYOND POLITICS i.e. create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

Whoop-de-doo! Net zero greenhouse gas emissions in just four years’ time! Climate and ecological justice! What does the latter mean? An equal spread of precipitation and temperature across the globe? Wow!  Continue reading

Mass graves in Canada!

It is a month or so now that Canadians have been fed a sensational story about hundreds of unmarked graves found in British Columbia and Saskatchewan, graves allegedly filled with corpses of the hundreds of the children of the indigenous peoples, graves which are – as dramatically highlighted – located in the precincts of Catholic residential (boarding) schools. All the national news outlets and these from abroad seem to be obsessed with but one story: atrocities of the white man in Canada, trauma of the Indians, who today go by the name of First Nations, writ large, and the empathy offered by all decent people. The United States has its Black Lives Matter, heralding the interests of Africans, now Canada can boast its counterpart: the Idle No More movement, championing for the interests of the descendants of the primordial inhabitants of the country.

Down with Queen Victoria!

The appalling discovery was made just ahead of the national holiday – Canada Day – and prompted calls aimed at abolishing the festivity or at least changing its character to wit that Canada – at least as we know it today – needs to be cancelled. That’s at least the belief of the Idle No More movement activists. Their leaders exploit all the techniques of disrupting society that have been successfully used in Ukraine, Libya, Yugoslavia or Georgia, to name just a few countries. They

  • propagate rallying calls, like No Pride In Genocide;

  • apply poignant symbolism like placing large numbers of children’s shoes (memorials of shoes) or putting up small solar lights at the places marked as graves;

  • call on their supporters to wear orange (in keeping with all those colour revolutions) to lend them high visibility;

  • go on a rampage of pulling down monuments of white historical figures (the devastation of the Queen Victoria monument, pictured);

  • create nationwide support by e.g. opening a crisis line where citizens are invited to express their support;

  • stage sit-ins, service disruptions, marches, rallies, round dances, banner drops – all in the spirit of Rules for Radicals written by the old chap known as Saul Alinsky, Hillary Clinton’s mentor and guru;

  • call for the empowerment of the minorities that are – of course – exploited, discriminated against, and what not;

  • protest against police violence and demand that the police be defunded, and

  • honour the many lives lost to the Canadian state that is (i) indigenous lives, (ii) black lives, (iii) migrant lives, (iv) women lives, (v) trans lives and (vi) 2Spirit lives (look the last term up in the internet if you have any stomach for it).

No Pride in Genocide (Source: idlenomore.ca)

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Cinematography in the service of hate

Reality finds expression in and is depicted by words, pictures and symbols. These in turn have a life of their own in that they are potent enough to impose the perception of the world through the meanings that they convey. An animal or a particular species may be perceived as a part of higher matter or a being endowed with a soul. Correspondingly, it can be disposed of without compunction or venerated. Think about cows in India; think about the treatment of dogs and cats in Europe as opposed to that in China; think about the attitude towards pigs in the Semitic and non-Semitic world, about clean and unclean animals, about edible and inedible species in different parts of the world.

Much the same is valid for humans. Depending on time and place they – or rather different categories of humans or – to be precise – different classes or groups of them are viewed as a legitimate booty or an object of veneration. Vera Mukhina’s Worker and Kolkhoznitza Monument of 1937 was a homage paid to the underclass people elevated to the highest status of veneration in the first socialist country. The perspective was changed and so the category of people once looked down on was transmuted to the category of people regarded as the pillars and pinnacle of society. Reversely, monuments to the heroes and members of the once ruling classes were pulled down, their memory tarnished or obliterated. Before that epic change could happen, hundreds of books, poems, pictures needed to be produced, hundreds of literary works or works of art that assailed the perception of reality and transformed it stepwise, thus paving the way for that change. The process is slow but very effective. It begins with casting doubt on the sacred and the acceptable, it continues with critique of the hitherto untouchable and sacrosanct, it ends up with the overturn of the scale of values, with elevating yesterday’s slaves and servants and debasing today’s lords and patricians. 

The Worker and Kolkhoznitza, a monument in its own right and a logo of a Soviet film studio: the once downtrodden elevated to the pinnacle of society.

In this manner the ancient gods of Egypt, Greece and Rome, the deities of the Celtic, Germanic and Slavic peoples were dethroned; in this manner the value of honour and dignity has been supplanted by the value of productivity and effectiveness; in this manner women are given preferment over men and adolescents are given advancement over adults. Animals are treated with reverence – at least in the white man’s world – so eating meat, wearing natural furs and using cosmetics tested on living creatures is frowned upon. These and many other changes take some time before they come to fruition. The champions of new ideas are assiduous and canny, their opponents – stupefied and won over or at least rendered ineffective.

The way for profound, revolutionary, enormous changes have always been paved by thought, thought put across to ever larger masses of people by literature, visual arts and – especially nowadays – the combination of the two: the movie industry. This is one of the most effective and compelling tools with which those who run the industry can shape the perception of the world in the minds of tens and hundreds of millions. The majority of people learn their history, moral and political lessons from (predominantly) feature and (less frequently) documentary films.  Continue reading

Burning man – a nascent cult

Humankind has since time immemorial had two categories of people: those who accept and even embrace reality and those who rebel against it and attempt to flee it or remedy it. Perhaps it is a psychological thing: there are individuals who can cope with the world as it is, whatever may happen, and individuals who cannot and need to take the sabbatical every now and again.

Every year in ever increasing numbers young, professional, mainly white Americans and Canadian zero in on Black Rock City, Nevada, somewhere in the Black Rock Desert, north of Reno, in vehicles turned into juggernauts to spend their time – eight days – pleasing themselves, doing yoga, listening to music, sharing and gifting, as they say, and bowing down to all the present-day forms of superstition. The seemingly ad-hoc created community has its ten commandments called principles of burning man and these are:

 1 radical inclusion (everyone is welcome);

 2 gifting (without expecting reciprocity);

 3 decommodification (no commercial sponsorship);

 4 radical self-reliance (reliance on the inner resources of one’s self);

 5 radical-self expression (meaning determinable by every individual);

 6 communal effort (cooperation, collaboration and – to quote the third synonym used on the Burning Man website: interaction);

 7 civic responsibility (compliance with the law);

 8 leaving no trace (cleanliness of the environment);

 9 participation (being through doing); and

10 immediacy (immediate experience). 

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