Tag Archives: Marxism

Can feminism be defended with reason and evidence? Jordan Peterson vs Cathy Newman

Can radical feminism be defended rationally and evidentially?
Can radical feminism be defended rationally and evidentially?

There was a short discussion recently on UK Channel 4 between Canadian university professor named Jordan Peterson, and a radical feminist with an undergraduate degree in English named Cathy Newman. While you watch, imagine that she is teaching some non-STEM course that you’ve enrolled in. Would you dare to disagree with her?

First, the video, which has over 33 million views:

And here is an article from the UK Spectator: (paywalled)

Whatever else anybody might think of him, Professor Peterson is a man of remarkable learning and experience, and does not appear to have arrived at any of his views by the now common means of ‘I reckon’. Yet Newman, who approaches the interview with the trademark sourness she employs for everyone she expects to disagree with, treats this is just another chance to burnish her own social justice credentials and expose her guest as a bigot. Big mistake.

Storming straight in with the differences between the sexes, in the opening minutes it is clear that Professor Peterson is willing to back up all his views with references, data and calm analysis. 

By 11 minutes in she is saying ‘I think I take issue with (that)’, before demonstrating that she can’t. Soon she is reduced to dropping the bombshell observation that ‘all women are different’. By 16.45 there is a palpable win, as Peterson points out that Newman has exactly the disagreeable and aggressive qualities that allow certain types of people to succeed. By 19.30 she is having to throw out things to him that he hasn’t even said, such as ‘You’re saying women aren’t intelligent enough to run top companies’. A minute later and she is reduced to countering empirical evidence with anecdote. Peterson presents the data about men in general and Newman responds with the ‘I know plenty of men who aren’t (like that)’ card. Shortly after that (at 22.25) Newman is reduced to spluttering and then silence. She tries to pull herself together. But she can think of nothing to say.

To be honest, Cathy Newman is nothing like the women I’m friends with. All of my closest friends are Christian women. All of them are anti-feminist to some degree, with the most successful one professionally (Dina) being the wisest and most anti-feminist of all. When I think of my panel of wise Christian women advisors – each with one or more STEM degrees – I don’t recognize Cathy Newman in them. But Cathy Newman does remind me of the radical feminists I encountered when I was doing my BS and MS degrees in computer science at the university.

In my experience, radical feminists debate using six tactics:

  1. Deny facts or evidence because men were involved in researching them or discovering them
  2. Countering empirical data with anecdotes and personal experiences
  3. Taking arguments and evidence as if they are personal attacks
  4. Becoming hysterical and crying
  5. Claiming that disagreement with feminism will produce violence against women and women committing suicide, etc.
  6. Trying to get you expelled, fired or silenced – often by making false accusations or faking hate crimes against themselves

It’s important for everyone to understand the views of others in order to know how defensible our own views are. In order to get the best scholarly case for radical feminism, I like to read feminist academics like Christina Hoff Sommers, Camille Paglia, Jennifer Roback Morse, etc. who evaluate and critique radical feminist scholarship. That’s how I encounter the ideas of those I disagree with (as well as listening to and watching debates).

Here’s a short Factual Feminist video:

I understand the claims that are made by radical feminists, but I am also aware of what the evidence says. I don’t try to stop feminists from making claims, I just study how to refute their claims.

But what about the radical feminists? Do they do a good job of understanding those who disagree with them? Let’s take a look at an example which I think is representative of feminist tolerance and open-mindedness.

The Toronto Sun reports on a sociology professor who gave her students an assignment – an assignment with some very peculiar constraints.

Excerpt:

A Ryerson University student who wanted to write a paper on the “myth” of the male-female wage gap was told by her prof that not only was she wrong, she should only rely on feminist journals for her assignment instead of business sources which “blame women,” her sister says.

Josephine Mathias, 21, a fourth-year political science student at University of Toronto, took to YouTube Wednesday to criticize the assignment given her twin Jane for a sociology class.

[…]After Jane sent an email describing her intention to write about the wag gap, her instructor replied that her premise was wrong, Josephine said.

Here’s what the professor said:

“Perhaps you want to write your paper on the glass ceiling. You need to look at feminist sources on this issue…Do NOT use business sources. They blame women. The reality is patriarchy,” says the instructor’s email, posted online.

In a copy of the assignment provided to the Toronto Sun by Josephine, the instructor also notes that Ontario and Canada government websites and Statistics Canada will not be considered scholarly sources.

“Government websites state government policy that is devoid of analysis, and usually reproduces mainstream stereotypes, assumptions and misconceptions,” the assignment says.

What is interesting is that the professor makes about $167,000 a year – higher than the average professor’s salary. And she’s not teaching computer science or petroleum engineering. I find it interesting that another Canadian university reprimanded a grad student for showing a debate clip that offered both sides of the transgenderism debate. Leftist tolerance. Leftist open-mindedness.

Once you’ve paid your tuition, and the leftist has the grading pen, you lose every argument. Either you get an F, or you get expelled. If you’re in the workplace, you get fired. False charges are often made. Hate crimes are faked. Anything to play the victim, rather than address the arguments and evidence. This is how people on the left “debate”.

As I wrote previously, the more women embrace radical feminism, the more toxic they become to men. Not just in the classroom or the workplace, but in relationships. Who wants to marry someone whose only response to reason is fury? Men might be OK with temporary arrangements with abusive women. At least while those women have youth and beauty. But men don’t marry abusive women. At least, not if they have any wisdom.

(Image source: Independent Man)

What can we learn about communist leaders from the record of history?

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Now that we have atheistic communists in the majority of the House, Senate and White House, it might be a good idea to take a look at what atheistic communist leaders have done in history. First, let’s see how the atheistic worldview of communist leaders affected religious people.

Here is what Josef Stalin did during his rule of Russia in the 1920s and 1930s.

The Library of Congress offers this in their “Soviet Archives exhibit”:

The Soviet Union was the first state to have as an ideological objective the elimination of religion. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. Actions toward particular religions, however, were determined by State interests, and most organized religions were never outlawed.

The main target of the anti-religious campaign in the 1920s and 1930s was the Russian Orthodox Church, which had the largest number of faithful. Nearly all of its clergy, and many of its believers, were shot or sent to labor camps. Theological schools were closed, and church publications were prohibited. By 1939 only about 500 of over 50,000 churches remained open.

What’s the attitude of Democrat candidates to Bible-believing Christians? My read is that they think that Christian values need to be suppressed by the government lest they offend Democrat voters, who seem to be very easily offended these days. You can already see their animus towards Christians in their Equality Act, which eradicates conscience rights in order to protect (some) LGBT people from feeling offended.

The Ukraine Famine

Take a look at this UK Daily Mail article about Josef Stalin.

Excerpt:

Now, 75 years after one of the great forgotten crimes of modern times, Stalin’s man-made famine of 1932/3, the former Soviet republic of Ukraine is asking the world to classify it as a genocide.

The Ukrainians call it the Holodomor – the Hunger.

Millions starved as Soviet troops and secret policemen raided their villages, stole the harvest and all the food in villagers’ homes.

They dropped dead in the streets, lay dying and rotting in their houses, and some women became so desperate for food that they ate their own children.

If they managed to fend off starvation, they were deported and shot in their hundreds of thousands.

So terrible was the famine that Igor Yukhnovsky, director of the Institute of National Memory, the Ukrainian institution researching the Holodomor, believes as many as nine million may have died.

[…]Between four and five million died in Ukraine, a million died in Kazakhstan and another million in the north Caucasus and the Volga.

By 1933, 5.7 million households – somewhere between ten million and 15 million people – had vanished. They had been deported, shot or died of starvation.

The Holodomor is just one of the atrocities committed by Soviet Union communists. You may also have heard that they operated a system of labor camps for dissidents that killed millions more. The total number of people killed by Stalin is estimated at 20 to 40 million.

Stalin actually wasn’t very good at mass murder compared to another communist, Mao Zedong.

Can you name the greatest mass murderer of the 20th century? No, it wasn’t Hitler or Stalin. It was Mao Zedong.

According to the authoritative “Black Book of Communism,” an estimated 65 million Chinese died as a result of Mao’s repeated, merciless attempts to create a new “socialist” China. Anyone who got in his way was done away with — by execution, imprisonment or forced famine.

For Mao, the No. 1 enemy was the intellectual. The so-called Great Helmsman reveled in his blood-letting, boasting, “What’s so unusual about Emperor Shih Huang of the China Dynasty? He had buried alive 460 scholars only, but we have buried alive 46,000 scholars.” Mao was referring to a major “accomplishment” of the Great Cultural Revolution, which from 1966-1976 transformed China into a great House of Fear.

The most inhumane example of Mao’s contempt for human life came when he ordered the collectivization of China’s agriculture under the ironic slogan, the “Great Leap Forward.” A deadly combination of lies about grain production, disastrous farming methods (profitable tea plantations, for example, were turned into rice fields), and misdistribution of food produced the worse famine in human history.

Deaths from hunger reached more than 50 percent in some Chinese villages. The total number of dead from 1959 to 1961 was between 30 million and 40 million — the population of California.

[…]Mao kept expanding the laogai, a system of 1,000 forced labor camps throughout China. Harry Wu, who spent 19 years in labor camps, has estimated that from the 1950s through the 1980s, 50 million Chinese passed through the Chinese version of the Soviet gulag. Twenty million died as a result of the primitive living conditions and 14-hour work days.

Whenever I bring up the historical record of communism to Democrats, they always tell me that their leaders have good intentions. But the communist leaders of the past aren’t any different from the communist leaders of today. Communist leaders all start out with noble ambitions of wanting to help the poor. The problem is that they don’t know anything about economics, so whatever they try doesn’t work. Communist policies like nationalizing private industries, printing money, purging wealthy people, imposing tariffs, and imposing price controls cause enormous poverty. And then they need someone to blame for their failure to produce the results they promise.

If we were serious about helping the poor, then we would elect leaders who had experience lifting the poor out of poverty. A business leader or a governor of a state. It’s not a popularity contest. We need to choose someone who has already had success at helping the poor. And the best way to help the poor is by helping them to find work so they can earn their own success and chart their own course. After all it’s not words that affect our lives. Or the feelings we have about words we like. What affects our lives is policies that produce results. Intentions and rhetoric don’t matter, ultimately.

Why are teachers and other talkers paid less than engineers and other doers?

Basic Economics: Prices are set by supply and demand
Basic Economics: In a free market, prices are set by supply and demand

This meme makes fun of unionized public school teachers, who feel entitled to the same salary and benefits as doctors, software engineers, etc. in the private sector. So, the point of this meme is simple, it’s to point out that the teachers who belong to teacher unions are ignorant of basic economics, specifically, the law of supply and demand.

When there is more demand for a product or service than there is a supply for it, then prices go up. When there is more supply for a product or service than there is a demand for it, prices go down.

A good place to see this explained is in a book by famous black economist Thomas Sowell. Thomas Sowell has written many books, but he wrote one book in particular for people who have no knowledge of basic economics. It’s called “Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy“. And the first few chapters explain how prices are set by supply and demand:

  1. What is Economics?
  2. The Role of Prices
  3. Price Controls
  4. An Overview of Prices

It turns out that there are two views of how wages are set in an economy:

The labor theory of value (LTV) is a theory of value that argues that the economic value of a good or service is determined by the total amount of “socially necessary labor” required to produce it.

LTV is usually associated with Marxian economics… The LTV is central to Marxist theory, which holds that the working class is exploited under capitalism, and dissociates price and value. Marx did not refer to his own theory of value as a “labour theory of value”.

Mainstream neoclassical economics tends to reject the need for a LTV, concentrating instead on a theory of price determined by supply and demand.

Marxists economists believe that the value of a good or service is determined by the “social utility” of the work produced. But classical (“free market”) economists believe that value is determined by the scarcity of the good or service relative to the demand from consumers.

So, a Marxist economist might say “teaching English to 5 year olds is valuable because it is relevant and meaningful”. But, a classical economist would say “conducting a security audit on distributed point-of-sale system is valuable, because very few people can do it, but many people want it”.

I’ve noticed that school teachers and non-STEM university students and professors are very likely  to hold to the labor theory of prices and wages. Robert Nozick wrote a paper about why this happens. It turns out that “wordsmiths” (his word) are conditioned by their performance in the classroom to expect success in the free market economy. But when they find that their “brilliance” in English poetry, Medieval history, or lesbian dance theory has no value to anyone else, they complain that the economy is being manipulated by powerful people. Marxism is a coping mechanism for people who value academic acclaim more than doing something useful for their neighbors. The Marxists study easy things that no one cares about, and then they can’t get paid because millions of people can do them. The free market people focus on the customer, so they study hard things like computer science and petroleum engineering that are in demand from customers. And they get paid more.

Starting and Mid-Career salaries by profession (click for larger image)
Starting and Mid-Career salaries by profession (click for larger image)

Consider this article from College Pulse about a survey of 10,590 undergraduate students:

Students with certain majors are far more likely than their peers to approve of socialism. Philosophy majors, in particular, have a positive view of socialism. Nearly 8 in 10 (78%) say they view the economic system favorably, followed by 64% of anthropology majors, and 58% of both English and international relations majors. Accounting and finance majors are least likely to view socialism positively (20% and 22% respectively).

Do you know what accounting and finance students have to study? Basic economics.

As soon as I got my first job as a software engineer, and finished my study of Christian apologetics, the very next thing I studied was economics. It was Dr. Jay Richards who got me interested in it, when I heard him speaking about economics in an apologetics lecture for Stand to Reason. I contacted him, and he recommended the works of two famous economists, F. A. Hayek and Thomas Sowell. And that’s what I want to recommend to you, too. Our continued liberty and prosperity depends on ordinary Americans taking the time to educate themselves about basic economics.