Batman vs Superman, Seriously

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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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199 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Meritocracy (Done Right) has a WrongThought at its core: Some People Are Better Than Others.

    Above and beyond “people who are good at baking should be bakers and people who are good at plumbing should be plumbers and people who are good at teaching should be teachers”, there is a hidden “People who are good at telling others what to do should be telling them what to do.”

    I’m sure that there’s a “no, no, in an *IDEAL* system, what would happen is…” rant waiting to be written in response to this but, in a less ideal system, you’d end up with fascism.

    And the fact that you’ve already got Batman punching criminals between Dusk and Dawn indicates rather strongly that you’re not in an ideal system. Introduce the Joker and you’re now you can’t even pretend you’re in the same ballpark as ideal.

    There are a handful of (Elseworld) stories where Superman goes bad and the other heroes have to stop him and, as I get older, I realize that what makes the good stories good isn’t the fight between Batman and Superman at the end, it’s the exploration of exactly how Superman went bad. In The Dark Knight Returns, it’s that Superman does whatever Reagan tells him to do. In Superman Annual #3, Superman takes it upon himself to rid the world of nukes and Batman fights Superman because the US government asks him to.

    It always involves Great Men fighting Great Men.

    But that also implies people who can’t be described as “great”.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      “Meritocracy (Done Right) has a WrongThought at its core: Some People Are Better Than Others.

      There’s an interesting conversation happening with the IDW crowd where they are starting to talk about how it’s okay to say there are differences between races and especially between sexes. The latter part I enthusiastically agree with, but the former goes against most of my academic training. All of my physical anthropology professors went out of their way to minimize the biological differences between various racial groups. Seeing academics suddenly embracing these differences as OK To Talk About is still really hard for me to move past. With that said, from a cultural side I’m very comfortable with the idea of Some People Are Better Than Others, nature and nurture being what they are.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      “Meritocracy (Done Right) has a WrongThought at its core: Some People Are Better Than Others.”

      I kind of wanna hit the buzzer on this on behalf of meritocracy. Meritocracy doesn’t say some people are better (full stop better) than others. Meritocracy does say some people are better at doing certain tasks than others. That is a big distinction.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        And there are some tasks that are “better” than others.

        And some people who are more better at doing more tasks than others.

        And some people who aren’t very good at tasks in general.

        I suppose we can just agree that, in a meritocracy, moral worth isn’t tied to being good at things.

        We just have to not be good at noticing things. Or be good at *NOT* noticing them.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          “And there are some tasks that are “better” than others.”

          And there is my hand on the buzzer again. Better full stop? That’s nonsensical. Better in a given scenario? Absolutely. Is being good at a fire fighter better than being good at gardening? If your house is on fire it sure is but if there aren’t any flames in sight and your hydrangeas are beginning to form a growers Soviet to invade the beds of the neighboring plants you’d better hope you’re a better gardener.

          But yeah, we can agree that in a meritocracy moral worth isn’t tied to being good at doing things. At least not in a liberal meritocracy.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Yes, better full stop.

            “Plumbing” is probably the first such job to come to mind.

            The fact that plumbers are only idolized with money rather than prestige should be a huge indicator that we don’t live in a meritocracy.

            And certainly not a liberal meritocracy.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Uh… why? I mean I love modern sanitation as any right thinking person does and thus have deep appreciation for people who are capable plumbers but that doesn’t make them better than coders or preachers or university professors or politicians anywhere outside of the context of plumbing.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Eh, I put it in a “how long would a liberal meritocracy last without X?” context.

            How long would a liberal meritocracy last without coders? Well, we might quickly find ourselves in 1958. How long would a liberal meritocracy last without Preachers? University Professors? (I would be willing to entertain “indefinitely” arguments.)

            Plumbers? Less than a week.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Sure, and for the task of maintaining the infrastructure of a modern liberal meritocracy plumbers are perhaps better than others but better full stop better? I still dissent.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            And so we find ourselves saying “well, more important doesn’t mean *BETTER*”. “Essential to survival vs. non-essential doesn’t mean *BETTER*”.

            To the point where I’m not sure what would mean “better”. I only know what doesn’t mean it.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Perhaps, then, “better” is not a meaningful or content containing descriptor when used by itself.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @north Perhaps, then, meritocracy is not a useful word, given that it describes who is given power over others according to some system of judging their relative worthiness to rule. (which is where the -cracy part of the word comes in – the bit where it’s just about who has what jobs, not about who has more power, is a later obfuscation, clearly betrayed by the etymology of the word and by analogy to any other -cracy word.)

            Unless one thinks that “better at having power over others” is an actual thing, worthy of tying a system of rule to, rather than (as the word’s coiner intended when he wrote “The Rise of the Meritocracy” in 1958) seeing how it would just become a new system of oppression.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Good point. I don’t think one could point to an objective measure of someone’s having power over others skills.Report

          • Avatar The question says:

            @jaybird
            I feel like you’re stealing a base here when you say how long would liberal meritocracy last without x when no modern society lasts like more than a week without plumbers because we all like shitting indoors you can’t take away something vital to modern society and say well your system doesn’t work because if we take out X it fails.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            If you agree that plumbers are vital in a way that other jobs (feel free to come up with an absurd example so I don’t have to and accidentally hurt the feelings of, oh, the people who run the Painting With A Twist boutiques or something), then I’m down.

            I’m of the opinion that if plumbers are so important that every modern civilization would fail without them, without exception, then I kinda think that bolsters my point.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            If all the plumbers disappeared tomorrow, would we give up on civilization, or would we learn how to fix pipes?

            Plumbing is vital. Plumbers are important but replaceable.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Great. Use that same measuring stick on everything else.

            Seems to me that plumbers are still near the tippy tippy top.

            The only people who are irreplaceable are people like Pierce Brosnan.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

            Not bankers, certainly, for all that they’re so well paid. Lots of people could march lemming-like off obvious cliffs.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Jaybird, you could to all the plumbing in your house after watching a few Youtube videos. What you probably couldn’t do with only a few hours of training is … well … the job you currently do.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I could maintain, I suppose (I mean, I do…) but I couldn’t create.

            But my job could disappear with zero impact. My field could disappear with minimal (given that it didn’t exist in living history).Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            So we’re supposed to imagine a world where computer technology doesn’t exist but advanced water systems do?

            Is this a call back to the great old days of the 1950s? 🙂Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            If you’d want to argue that Computer System Administrator is now a much more important job than other jobs, I suppose I’d agree… but notice that it doesn’t undercut the original point of how some jobs are “better” than others.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I think it undermines the claim that some people, by virtue of their jobs, are indispensable. Since The Dawn Of Man people lived without plumbing. Until recently anyway. It’s also something just about anyone could do (not efficiently mind you…)Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            I’m willing to only go back to the point where we, as a society, started discussing “(insert prefix here)ocracies”.

            Which takes us back merely to the dawn of civilization rather than the dawn of man.Report

  2. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Great post Kristin. I 100% agree with this:

    “Everyone has a secret fascist streak. At the end of the day, we believe in doing whatever works to accomplish the goals that we think are good and right.”

    However, this part I am am a bit hesitant to cosign:

    “Most of us are fully ok with making other people get on board with our morality even if we have to bully them into it. Even if we have to use the law to make them.”

    I tend to see the regressive Left and Right following this. Jaybird one may a comment about conservatism that I thought was so insightful that I saved it. He said, “The number one problem that I see with Conservatives is that they want to pass laws that express sentiments. People shouldn’t do drugs. People shouldn’t have abortions. People shouldn’t be gay.”

    I think the social justice Left has also embraced this idea and are willing to bully the rest of us into aligning with their morals. Where I probably disagree with you though is about the vast majority of people in the middle. Maybe it’s a technical question of values vs morals but I think there are a lot of dispassionate policy geeks that may forcefully fight for their ideas, but don’t paint it as a black & white, good vs. evil decision. Their policy preferences may reflect their values (eg. public school has value because I want there to be less dumb people) but it’s not necessarily a moral choice. For me, when morals come into play, reason goes out the window.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      I think she’s right. We all have some X we believe in deep down inside where we think it would just be best if we could force everyone to do X. Even I do, and I am about as hands off a guy as it gets (except for maybe Joe Sal).

      I just also recognize that trying to force everyone to do X is wrong and would have unintended consequences that I haven’t fully gamed out. So I keep those little X’s to myself.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        Agreed on having pet issues we would enforce with an iron fist. Several of the boards I sit on, clubs I am involved with, etc would quickly become dictatorships if I was in charge, which is why I stay in a support role.

        My issue is with the moral component. I think a lot of people are able to compartmentalize their moral convictions and their policy advocacy. For me, abortion is a good example. If I was commander of the world I would do things very differently than the current policies I am willing to agree on in the name of progress.Report

        • Avatar JoeSal says:

          If I ever fall of the wagon, it will be hard to not pick up biblical objectivism. Those folks have their truth component written down, pretty much resolved, and is word of god stuff.

          I think Jay attempted to explain how strong that stuff could be. I took it pretty lightly back then, but the older I get, I think he was on to something bigger than I was seeing.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Agreed on the clarity that comes with that worldview. As someone who has really struggled with faith all of my life, not just in spiritual ideals but also in secular ones, I have sometimes wished for the clarity that it seems like that certainty provides.

            I’ve been reading a lot lately about this idea that the social justice Left is essentially a secular religion. That Good vs. Evil, moral certainty component explains so much of what I have seen over the last couple of years but couldn’t articulate. It reminds me so much of the late 90s, early 2000s when the devil’s bargain between Republicans and the Christian Right reached its zenith.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            One thing that has helped me understand the ‘religious’ component of the left is that it is based on need. I first came to think of it as a Church of Need, worshiping the God of Need.

            I had many discussions with a anarcho-communist to find out the origins. He pointed to Kropotkin and Berkman outright. If you have read those (which I did) it is riddled with the needs of people, and this idea of just adjusting society then all the needs of humanity are met.

            What was odd, is he never outright acknowledged the complete saturation of the concepts by Marx that socialism was supposedly the answer to satisfy everyones needs.

            I have even seen it in what is supposed to be moderate liberalism on this site, in that ‘“A necessitous man is not a free man.”(*) The origins of that tell how thorough the religion has seeped into the national conscience.

            (* That developed the concept of the two freedoms that the nation didn’t previously have, and somewhat degraded pluralism )Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            “I have even seen it in what is supposed to be moderate liberalism on this site, in that ‘“A necessitous man is not a free man.”

            In the past, here and elsewhere, we have sometimes seen from the Left a confounding of Need vs. Right. I remember during the (many) SSM debates some of the most passionate supporters of SSM would say that it was a Human Right. Others would counter that no, it was a civil right. So IMO there is sometimes a hyperbolic tendency of the Left to elevate their needs/wants to the level of Right. This becomes even more difficult to do because so many of them are secular and they can’t just point to the relevant chapter in the Bible, so they do some philosophical tricks to use Natural Law in its place.

            But you are also correct that a person in need is not free. This has been one of the most convincing arguments against robust social programs for me. I like safety nets but when they become activism I lose my enthusiasm.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            In a individual republic with individual sovereignty, SSM wouldn’t have been a big deal. When it was made a social construct within a supposed democracy, then there becomes a big problem.

            When regulation against government is thrown to the side for some greater ‘social objectivity’ and opens up the gates, it’s not surprising that biblical objectivism finds its way in.

            As to the safety nets and social programs, I do not agree with a type of freedom that would forcibly take from one person to provision another.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            I’ve always loved the libertarian position on SSM. Entirely coherent, self contained, rational, free of animus and entirely irrelevant to the question of SSM as it existed in any real world scenario ever.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            @ Mike
            I think I figured out the social justice/police abuse thing. There is a personal emotional need to live in a world where there is no injustice(or injustice of a particular type). Therefore there is strong personal advocating and championing the need for justice, until the injustice is gone.

            I think Dave was correct in saying the numbers don’t really matter, the goal is total elimination of injustice.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            John McWhorter believes it’s about atonement:

            “Fifty years ago, a white person learning about the race problem came away asking “How can I help?” Today the same person too often comes away asking, “How can I show that I’m a moral person?” That isn’t what the Civil Rights revolution was about; it is the product of decades of mission creep aided by the emergence of social media.”

            https://www.the-american-interest.com/2018/05/24/atonement-as-activism/Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            @North
            As an answer, I will defer to Tucker’s only moral lawReport

          • Avatar North says:

            Joe: even a stopped clock is right twice a day (once if it’s digital).Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            I disagree in the atonement as being internal to the left. They want the rest of the world to atone for injustice. The need is a selfish one that derives for a desire to live in a world that is perfectly ‘just’.

            -This is why calls for something more than absolute zero human failures would have been ineffective.

            -Also It is why there is some what a ‘punish’ the world for being imperfect thing going on.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            @ North
            “It seemed that the difference of opinion, tastes, and purposes increased just in proportion to the demand for conformity”Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            @joesal

            “I disagree in the atonement as being internal to the left. They want the rest of the world to atone for injustice. “

            Ahhh….then let’s consider Bo Winegard (emphasis mine):

            “More broadly, Woke dogmas lead to a sacred narrative about the nobility of perceived victims’ groups (e.g., blacks, women, Muslims, gays, transexuals, et cetera). Members of these groups are to be considered the innocent victims of an oppressive and iniquitous patriarchy. Whites, on the other hand, are born burdened with the original sin of privilege, and are therefore presumptively complicit in the system unless they declare fidelity to Wokeness. This creates a Manichean moral doctrine that purports to reverse the current power hierarchy. Victims’ groups are revered, and the powerful are despised. However, as we will argue, this hierarchy is not so simple because it actually elevates a healthy proportion of the powerful, namely the white educated elites who profess unquestioning devotion to Wokeness. So, in the end, it is not really a status reversal so much as a way to distinguish one group of whites from the rest.

            He also adds a list of questions that I think are worth considering:

            – Why do Woke norms change quickly and why are they so complicated (thus alienating many potential allies)?

            – Why do Woke preachers often denigrate those who fail Woke purity tests (thus alienating many potential allies)?

            – Why do people in Woke culture expend so much effort sending signals to each other and so little quietly working to improve people’s lives?

            – Why don’t more Woke preachers strive to make as many friends and partners among hoi polloi as possible, since such partnerships would help them to achieve their stated goals?

            https://quillette.com/2018/09/21/the-preachers-of-the-great-awokening/Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Joe, I’d say that encapsulates post World War II history pretty succinctly.Report

          • Avatar bookdragon says:

            I think I figured out the social justice/police abuse thing. There is a personal emotional need to live in a world where there is no injustice(or injustice of a particular type)

            Or a personal emotional need to just, you know, not have to worry about yourself or people you love being shot or otherwise abused by police…

            Sometimes caring about social justice really isn’t about ideology or penitence or humanist version of religious zealotry. Sometimes, it’s just plain old self-interest.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            @ bookdragon
            I have no illusions about the self interest of folks who need to not have to worry.

            This is the world that is, not the world people wish it was.

            To be honest, I had to stop telling myself nice things about a world that never was and never will be.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            @ Mike
            That looks pretty close. There probably are internal subfactions with residual atonements, but it appears the main faction is directing atonement outward upon the world.

            Take a look at previous offerings of accountability and consequence. They were never really acknowledged, because it wouldn’t have completely eliminated the injustice. It would have only reduced it.

            Reparations will be the same thing. A black hole that can never be filled. An attempt to make the world something it is not.

            I seriously recommend reading a few paragraphs of Berkman, to get the flavor of it. The intensity will look very familiar.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @oscar-gordon Well, and there’s the thing about forcing everyone to not force everyone to do X – or even get close to it. Which is my personal bug bear and the one I’m constantly running up against – both myself (like, weekly), but also when I study non-coercive political systems (or at least, systems that attempt to be non-coercive).

        “Stop trying to make people stop making each other do things! sometimes other people like being made to do things! it has to be situational! you cannot insist on anarchism!”Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I think the social justice Left has also embraced this idea and are willing to bully the rest of us into aligning with their morals. Where I probably disagree with you though is about the vast majority of people in the middle.

      I agree with both those views, to some extent. I think most people – the vast majority of people – are in the mushy middle, a place where they know iron-fisted, fascistic enforcement of simplistic policy positions is not only morally wrong, but would create more problems than it solves. On the other hand, they most likely *do* fantasize about how much better the world would be if people like The Equalizer, or The Punisher, or John Reese, roamed the streets cleaning the plaque off society’s teeth. So one difference between the SJW left (and the fundamentalist conservative right) may be that those folks view themselves as the protagonist of a righteous comic book drama being played out in real life while the rest of us are content to watch *other people* (ie. comic book heroes) do the things which, for a multiplicity of reasons, we aren’t inclined to do ourselves.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        “…those folks view themselves as the protagonist of a righteous comic book drama being played out in real life while the rest of us are content to watch *other people* do the things which, for a multiplicity of reasons, we aren’t inclined to do ourselves.”

        Well said.

        I will say that the old adage about how easy it is to become the monster with a little nudge is also true. During the trial I was on a couple of weeks ago they brought in one of the shooters, who is currently in prison, scheduled out in 2 years. We listened to a recording of him telling someone he was sure he would be back in prison for another shooting within a year of getting out because, “If someone touches me, I’m going to kill them.” While they were playing the tape he just sort of sat there with a smug look on his face. I am adamantly opposed to the death penalty for a variety of reasons, but if I am being honest, would the judge have authorized the sheriff deputy in the courtroom to shoot this guy for the good of society, i don’t think i would have felt anything other than relief. It was a sobering moment.Report

  3. Avatar bookdragon says:

    I agree with your analysis overall, especially as it relates to superhero stories as a modern mythology within which to examine our own moral/ethical ambiguities. And there is also an analogy to ‘Good King’ vs ‘Tyrant’ – definitions which often depend on where you sit in society or the world.

    I will however quibble on the idea that ‘fascist’ is hard to define or that’s it’s defined by a dry economic description. For instance, Merian-Webster has this definition of fascism:

    ” 1 often capitalized : a political philosophy, movement, or regime (such as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

    2 : a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control”

    That seems pretty clear to me. One can talk about fascist tendencies, especially using the second definition, but overall when I call something fascist it’s because it’s using a racial/group based nationalism to promote unquestioning allegiance to a party or leader. Particularly when that includes approving violent suppression or elimination of anyone who stands in opposition.

    So “Law enforcement officials found to support Nazi groups should be fired because they can’t be trusted to enforce the law equally” strikes me as a potential 1st Amendment case, but not fascist. However I would consider “Anyone found to support Nazi groups should be shot on sight” to be fascist and would oppose it (even though I really, really hate Nazis).

    In fact, Superman’s aversion to killing to me is the thing that keeps him from being a fascist or whatever ever term might be relevant, because despite having the power to do whatever he pleases, he *chooses* to follow a moral code that includes respecting the rule of law decided upon by the less powerful and the idea that even super criminals deserve a fair trail instead of summary execution. (also, it’s not really Batman counterbalances him. When Sup and Batman fought, it was Wonder Woman who pulled them apart and put Sup on the mat. She is actually his equal wrt strength, but more frequently uses her brain and persuasive skills rather than raw physical power).

    I like the Marvel universe better in many ways for the humanity of both its heroes and villians – something you described well. (In fact, I find myself in sympathy with Magneto enough to wonder about my own tendency toward the Dark Side). But I think Captain America vs Iron Man serves the same role of balance there, even if both characters wrestle with their place in it more. Also, if you appreciate that sort of story, where you see both the good and evil, strength and weakness, wisdom and folly, in all sides, I’d highly recommend Amazon Prime’s remake of “The Man in the High Castle”.Report

  4. Avatar veronica d says:

    Here is a good start: http://www.eruditorumpress.com/blog/notes-on-fascism/

    The author is a Marxists, and this shows throughout his analysis, but even if you don’t drink the Marxist koolaid (I don’t), I still think he captures the ethos of fascism.

    Fascism is structural. It is the revolt of a downwardly mobile middle-class, resentful of the powerful, but contemptuous toward those below. It is a mass movement. It requires foot soldiers. But more, it requires a certain kind of amoral, opportunistic leadership to grab the reins.

    Thus to say Trump is a fascist is different from saying some dipshit “Proud Boy” is a fascist. Indeed, they are, but each plays a different role in the drama.

    The United States might not collapse completely into fascism, although we might. It depends. Trump and the Proud Boys (etc.) would certainly like for it to, but this depends on social and economic forces that are unpredictable.

    #####

    Neither Batman nor Superman are fascists. Batman, in his modern incarnations, is an icon for edgelords. Superman is — well fuck I don’t know what superman is. I’m tempted to say he’s a carryover from a much earlier ethos, for whom modern writers struggle to find a place. Maybe. I suppose.

    In other words, it is easy to reinvent Batman for the “guys who liked Fight Club” set. Superman — what the hell do you do with him?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Superman — what the hell do you do with him?

      I recommend Action Comics #775 “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?“. (If you don’t want to commit to a comic book, they also made an animated film of the story called Superman vs. The Elite. Watch it in another window while you’re doing something else.)Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:

        @jaybird hey, supergirl is running this storyline as a multi-episode supergirl story (part of the main seasonal arc), so now a jillion people are getting introduced to the CW’s version. Dunno if that makes it better or worse for you, but I feel compelled to share.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Are they doing a good job with it?

          (It’s a story that is rich enough to dig into for several hours…)Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @jaybird I like it but I’m unfamiliar with the original. It’s also complicated by the context – it’s not exactly the same story but rather the US govt is flirting with the anti-alien extremist faction at the beginning of the arc, and the Elite starts out as wanting to be gloves off, murder is OK, with those humans (the ones who want to wipe out all the aliens) rather than with some discrete group of invaders. It’s a defensive set up rather than a policing set up?

            But I think they’re doing a really good job with it. Basically everyone is in some degree of impossible situation, and everything is really muddy and at times any given faction / actor can be extremely sympathetic – AND YET – the good guys are still the ones who pull their punches, bad guys don’t….Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            PS The Elite are also of differing levels of idealism, and the nobility of each members’ ideals is, if anything, inversely correlated to the amount of harm we seem them do to other people’s persons.

            It’s not exactly subtle, but it is nuanced…. if that makes any sense.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            * in that first comment I should have said, a reactive set up rather than a policing set up.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Well, the comic book used an alien invasion rather than Atomic Skull as the big moral conundrum so that’s true to the story… I’m not sure that alien invasion stories involving Superman can really be handled with nuance (too easy to ignore Superman’s extraterrestrial origins, too easy to accuse of hypocrisy if Superman thinks the aliens should live elsewhere) but if there are multiple reasons to be sympathetic to The Elite, that’ll make the speech at the end that much better.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Apropos of nothing, I looked at the wikipedia summary of the comic and the animated film. Have you seen them? Because it reads to me like the comic is thoughtful and intelligent but the film adaptation absolutely butchers it into something a 10 year old would write. I’m curious about if that’s truly the case or if whatever volunteer (bless them) wrote the films’ summary just didn’t do a good job at it.

        Have you seen the film?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The comic is thoughtful and intelligent and the film adaptation does add a couple of levels of action… but the speeches are still pretty much the speeches and the moral lessons are still the moral lessons.

          If anything, I think that the Atomic Skull adds a little bit of interesting nuance because, hey, Atomic Skull kills some people. When The Elite kills Atomic Skull instead of putting him back in jail, the viewer is left wondering “what in the hell do you do with someone like Atomic Skull?”

          And, after that question is raised, we go back to Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

          I thought it was pretty good.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Gotcha, sounds like the summary was just a bit bad.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter says:

            When The Elite kills Atomic Skull instead of putting him back in jail, the viewer is left wondering “what in the hell do you do with someone like Atomic Skull?”

            You kill him. In Real Life this would be easy, Superman would be licensed by the gov, he’d be authorized (and encouraged) to use deadly force against someone like that in the same way the police are. If Superman won’t kill then the authorities will kill him after capture. This is not a hard case.

            Wearing the Cape is close to getting this right(*) but the reality would be closer to Anita Blake. Criminal Vampires are killed. Period. Every other solution results in piles of “normal” corpses. The normals are the ones creating the laws.

            The hard cases would be someone with uncontrollable powers who is also a child or other innocent. A two year old who magically infects everyone within a ten mile radius with ebola or a zombie plague. The kid in wildcards whose temperature was going to increase exponentially until he became a star. A two year old with the power that everyone who sees him kills themselves.

            Assuming there’s no magic “plot” fix, my expectation is that all three of those get executed by the State. And the level of difficulty doesn’t even come close to stopping there. How about instead of ebola, that effect that is ten mile radius makes everyone sneeze every 10 minutes? Or converts them to Islam? How about a guy who makes people younger, i.e. offers quasi immortality for the rich?

            (*) Among other things WtC points out that “secret identities” are nothing of the kind. Even with Superman’s abilities there are far too many ways to figure it out and then information is shared. A “secret identity” is a legal fiction mostly respected to protect his friends and family, who mostly know.Report

  5. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Excellent work Kristin. Fascism appears to be one of those words that shifts in meaning as time marches on.Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David says:

    “As you say, the war is not over. This incident is only one sign—there are other and far graver ones—that there was more truth than one would like to believe in Huey Long’s cynical observation that if fascism came to the United States it would be called Anti-fascism. Needless to say, I am not suggesting that you desire any such thing—but I think your very natural abhorrence of Pound’s conduct has led you to take the first step which, if not protested now, will be followed by others which would horrify you.” – WH Auden

    Excerpt from a letter to Bennett Cert regarding the removal of Ezra Pounds poetry from a Modern Library anthology.

    Fascism was the coordination of a political organization with a private organization to achieve certain results. Boiled down, using NGO’s to achieve extra-republican* actions. Or, in other words, sidestepping the legislative process, often quasi-legally, to achieve that political bodies goal.

    I don’t know from comics, but that seems to hold with your description. Batman is not a gov’t actor. But he is needed by the city to fight crime extra-judicially. The same for Superman. The speaks to the failure of legislative bodies to craft adequate crime prevention policies, to enforce those policies. Part of that is the republican governmental churn, witnessed by NYC in the ’70s era which morphed into the ’90s. But that is natural, a part of time and attitudes that change. When a gov’t feels it has to call in outside actors to deal with a problem that it cannot overcome due to a body of law that sits there like a fatberg, blocking progress on an issue. We can all think of recent issues where this has come up, but they mainly rely on our politics for identification, and so aren’t worth mentioning.

    If a gov’t cannot perform the desired mission itself and must rely on outside, extra-legal actors, maybe the desired mission isn’t something that gov’t should attempt to tackle at that time.

    *small r republican, not the party.Report

    • Avatar bookdragon says:

      Though the attribution is in question, the phrase I always remember seeing is ““When fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in the flag and waving a cross”. Sometimes the last part is changed to “waving a bible”.Report

      • Avatar Aaron David says:

        I see it as coming from Progressivism and social “justice” at this point. But then, my roots run straight to Berkeley.

        As I said, ” We can all think of recent issues where this has come up, but they mainly rely on our politics for identification, and so aren’t worth mentioning.”

        When I was young, I was a D for the reason you mention. Now, the D’s are the ones who scare the bejesus out of this jew. The point being that power changes, and to quote Nietzsche “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

          It’s kind of a weird thing because when the regressive Right was at its height the religious wing scared the crap out of me, probably because I have such an aversion to evangelical strains of Christianity but also because I believe in things like science. The secular, flag-waving part also troubled me, but beyond their political nonsense and the uber patriotism, those are my people. What was perhaps the hallmark of all of those people though is that i always felt like they were all just a bit dumb.

          With the rise of the social justice crowd, they terrify me in large part because they are well-educated, but bring the same religious zeal to their kooky beliefs. That’s a potent combo. At the same time, I’m actually probably a bit more sympathetic to their impulses., whereas I had almost zero sympathy for the impulses of the Religious Right or the Tea Party crowd. So…it’s a confusing time.Report

        • Avatar veronica d says:

          You can argue that they SJ Left can be authoritarian, but they won’t be fascist. Fascism needs “men with guns, kicking down your door.” SJ folks don’t do that. They post call outs. They might notify your employer that you said something racist. They’ll try to expose you dickery to your friends, but they don’t kick down your door with guns.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            @veronicad

            We live in a world now where people kill themselves over internet bullying. The worst of the SJ Left don’t need guns and brownshirts anymore.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            That’s not a reasonable comparison. Indeed it is tragic that people kill themselves — which in fact is related to my comments on the “Real Talk on Fake People” thread about social identity. Sure, but that is not the same as men with guns kicking down your door, not even close. The comparison is facile.

            And honestly, in the age of Trump, trying to pull a “But the SJW are the real fascists” line is preposterous. No we are not. We don’t have guns. All we have are words.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            Protests turn violent all of the time. Heather MacDonald was de-platformed by a mob at Claremont McKenna. Megan Murphy kicked off Twitter, etc.

            Organized violence in any form (speech, physical, internet mobs, etc) is very much something we should be watching for with the social justice Left. I’m not going to call it fascism because that word has become so muddled (thank you to Kristin for trying to parse it out). But every religion has it’s violent moment. Abortion clinic bombings, hate crimes, etc. Those kinds of things could easily happen on the Left.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            Certainly the left could potentially become as violent as the right. Historically, they did in Europe. Occasionally I hear, on Twitter, some ranting tankie preaching about gulags. So yeah, those people exist.

            Your chance of being murdered by a leftist is waaaay lower than my chance of being murdered by some right wing dick. It doesn’t compare. It’s obnoxious to try to compare them, like bitching about your headache in a cancer ward. Dumb, potentially violent leftists might be a “problem,” but not the way fascism is a problem.

            America has the potential to become more socialist. I hope it does. But this is socialism in the form of “democratic socialism.” It mean “look more like Sweden.”

            It could happen. It might even work.

            This is different from fascism. The fascists kick down your door. They have the cops on their side, and little hesitation to employ immediate, brutal violence. Furthermore, you have no recourse against the violence, because democracy is at that point gone.

            (Which political movement in the US is keen on false conspiracy to justify voter suppression? Oh yeah, that one.)

            The Trumpists want this. I suspect they’ll fail, but I am uncertain.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I want to make sure I am clear here: I understand that in terms of physical violence, this has historically mostly been a problem with the Right. I really don’t want it to sound like I am suggesting that the Left is going to start killing people. All I am saying is that there are other ways a group with an agenda can be aggressive and destructive. Having a teenage daughter who had to navigate the ‘mean girls’ of high school and talking to school counselors and teachers about what they see in their classrooms, amplified by social media, is pretty scary. That same stuff gets regularly deployed by political actors on both sides of the aisle.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Yeah the way I put it, is to ask for the worst-case scenario frome ach side.

            The worst possible scenario for the right is that they have to pay a bit more in taxes, or tolerate other ways of living they don’t care for.

            The worst scenario for the left is that they would be stripped of their rights and dignity.

            Its not to say that there is some magic bubble that makes it impossible for the left to be fascist, but as its currently constructed, that doesn’t look like any plausible outcome.Report

          • Avatar bookdragon says:

            And even in terms of online harassment and threats, the right is far, far worse. Rightwing trolls delight in bullying and degrading anyone they deem too liberal or at all SJ Left.

            But the real problem is the threats. Why use mere bullying when you can threaten to shoot, maim, rape, and direct that not only at one person but her whole family? And amplify that by turning it into a team sport with gangs of other commenters.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            “But the real problem is the threats. Why use mere bullying when you can threaten to shoot, maim, rape, and direct that not only at one person but her whole family? And amplify that by turning it into a team sport with gangs of other commenters.”

            Tell that to the kids at Convington Catholic and their families.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            I would dissent Chip. You’re describing the worst case for, maybe, libertarians or establishmentarian right wingers. The publicly stated worst case for the right is considerably more dire than you’re presenting it-tucked neatly as it is under that anodyne phrase “tolerate other ways of living they don’t care for”.
            No, for the social right the worst case scenario for them is that they be a despised minority; their beliefs and lifestyle belittled, mocked and persecuted; their businesses and institutions harassed both legally, socially and physically and their ability to live their deep felt identity made intolerable. Or, more succinctly, their worst case scenario is that they’ll be treated the way they treated sexual minorities when they had the power to do so (and still, note, seek to return to a state of being able to do so).

            But I dissent because the true worst case scenario for the social right is not the mild phrasing you used or the expanded version I laid out above; the true worst case scenario for the social right is basically this:
            “That driven away from the reins of power they fortify their homes, schools, churches and businesses against the vengeance of those they poured out their vitriol on. But it was in vain because then everyone on the left went on to live their lives, paid little mind to the dethroned social conservatives and left them in their corner to wonder why the evil gays et all didn’t, when they could have, do to the social cons what the social cons did to them.”

            Social conservatives desperately need our hatred and vengeance; you can almost hear their commentators panting for it while they signal boost every sign of it from the illiberal left (see Dreher at his worst for instance). Christianity knows how to endure persecution and hate- it’s baked into its bones. It would be our indifference and their irrelevance that’d cut them to the quick.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            @chip-daniels

            “The worst possible scenario for the right is that they have to pay a bit more in taxes, or tolerate other ways of living they don’t care for.

            The worst scenario for the left is that they would be stripped of their rights and dignity.”

            If you sub in plausible for possible and put a “in the United States” or “in a Western democracy” in there somewhere, I’d agree with you.

            As it is, and this is coming from possibly the most SJW person on the board in that my *entire job* is structured around supporting and mentoring students to not only excel at what they do, but also at being anti-racist, anti-discrimination, and many other things…..

            Your claim is ridiculous and easily debunked by anyone who takes five minutes to look at the history of Eastern Europe..

            SMH.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            @North
            Indeed.
            “First they tolerated the feminists, and I did nothing for I was not a feminist.
            Then they tolerated the gays, and I did nothing for I was not gay.
            Then they tolerated me, and there was no one left to persecute me.”Report

          • Avatar bookdragon says:

            Tell that to the kids at Convington Catholic and their families.

            Are you seriously comparing that to having to go into hiding or fear for the lives of your kids because of threats of rape and murder?Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            The danger of some kind of Marxist revolution in the US is, in any foreseeable future, laughably improbable. The danger of actual fascism, with cancelled elections, widespread arrests of political opponents, martial law, and prisons swelling with “degenerates” is quite a bit higher.

            But to explore something more probable, the danger is the right will have exactly enough power to almost achieve that, but not quite, but in their bitter attempts to cling to dominance, they will kill a lot of people trying.

            US context, politically realistic right wing: attempted fascist takeover with fighting in the streets.

            US context, politically realistic left wing: Sweden.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            @Mike Dwyer — We were exploring why you were concerned about the left in particular. Showing that some on the right have been bullied and harassed is fine, but this is a case where I think a BSDI argument is on point. If you said, “I fear the right and the left,” I would not be challenging you.

            I don’t want to diminish the trauma of being bullied and threatened, but I’ve had “angry white men” threaten to kill me to my face, while riding the subway, never mind the constant online harassment I get for just existing.

            My point: internet vigilantism sucks for everyone, but to single it out to “one side” is dishonest.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            No, for the social right the worst case scenario for them is that they be a despised minority; their beliefs and lifestyle belittled, mocked and persecuted; their businesses and institutions harassed both legally, socially and physically and their ability to live their deep felt identity made intolerable. Or, more succinctly, their worst case scenario is that they’ll be treated the way they treated sexual minorities when they had the power to do so (and still, note, seek to return to a state of being able to do so).

            See, I think even this is an illusion, from the false narrative that the modern evangelical movement has much genuine connection to traditional rural Christianity. This is, I believe, false. Instead, the modern, right-wing, politicized flavor of evangelical Christianity is a reactionary construction, which has more to do with suburban megachurches than it does the small town rickety wooden church of ruralia.

            Reaction poses as tradition, but don’t be fooled.

            Regarding ruralia itself, the angry redneck who wants to kick my ass probably doesn’t go to church.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            Fascism does not need “men with guns, kicking down your door.” No, it simply needs to use the power of the state to deprive the peoples of their civil rights, much like SJW’s using Title IX to remove due process from college campuses with the express approval of University authorities. Or removing free speech from divergent viewpoints. Again with university approval.

            Punching a nazi? If OKed by police or the courts, then it is fascism. For no matter if you disagree with them, they still have all the civil rights due to them.

            So, yes, when non-governmental actors are given tacit or explicit powers to deprive people of civil rights by the state, that is a fascist act. And the ironically named Antifa, a direct call back to the KKK, are explicitly fascist when they converge on a pre-approved demonstration And The Police Do Nothing To Stop Violence. It matters not if we like or dislike them

            I lost an innumerable amount of family in the Holocaust and loath nazi’s. But depriving them of civil rights would brings us down to their level. Worse, as we know better. Antifa is worse.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            @Aaron David — That’s not fascism. Fascism is that thing that happened in Italy, German, and Spain. It was real. It can happen again. It could happen here. Trump is manifestly such a leader, and his core followers are indeed fascists — in the full sense of the word, not in some watered down “that damn mall cop is a fascist” sense.

            If Trump had never happened, I would be quite okay with throwing around the word “fascist” to mean “stuff I don’t like.” But now that actual fascism in its full historic sense is a real threat, I think we should use the word correctly.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            Yes, it is fascism. That you can’t see it, mores the pity.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            @aaron david

            You realize that your definition of “fascism” describes the every day life of about a third of Americans, ever since the founding?Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            Yes, I do. And we have struggled, always will be struggling, to move away from that. That is why the left scares me so. They want to treat civil rights as a zero-sum game. The worst of all worlds.

            Not that the right is much better, but they simply do not currently control the culture in the same way at this time. This will change eventually, but right now is right now.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            So, yes, when non-governmental actors are given tacit or explicit powers to deprive people of civil rights by the state, that is a fascist act.

            No, that’s just government allowing people to violate each other civil liberties *regardless of political ideology*. Government could, for example, allow anyone to punch anyone else without repercussion. Doing so wouldn’t be evidence of fascism, just lawlessness, or the rejection of that particular civil liberty.

            On the other hand, government actually engaging in a violation of civil liberties – like, by depriving racial minorities of their ability to vote – seems to fit even your definition of “fascism” quite well. 🙂Report

          • Avatar Aaron David says:

            (I think I am replying to Stillwater)

            “No, that’s just government allowing people to violate each other civil liberties *regardless of political ideology*. Government could, for example, allow anyone to punch anyone else without repercussion. Doing so wouldn’t be evidence of fascism, just lawlessness, or the rejection of that particular civil liberty.

            On the other hand, government actually engaging in a violation of civil liberties – like, by depriving racial minorities of their ability to vote – seems to fit even your definition of “fascism” quite well. 🙂”

            First, a government depriving others of voting rights, or any organizing rights, is fascism. In this the Obama admin, what with its using the IRS to deprive the Tea Party groups status, was a fascist group. Placing a restriction that applies to everyone, is not fascist. It is totalitarian. So asking for a voter ID that applies equally under the law, is not fascistic. The same with gun registration, if it applies to everyone. If one can only get a firearm if one is connected, that is another story.

            And if a government allowed punching sans repercussion, that would not be fascism. Heinous, yes. Fascist, no.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            First, a government depriving others of voting rights, or any organizing rights, is fascism.

            The GOP is already and as-we-speak doing that very thing, yet you claim to be terrified of the SJW left? Aaron, the Supreme Court agreed that North Carolina instituted its voter ID laws specifically to limit the African American vote. Everyone, even the NC GOP’s counsel, agreed with this.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            “First, a government depriving others of voting rights, or any organizing rights, is fascism. In this the Obama admin, what with its using the IRS to deprive the Tea Party groups status, was a fascist group. ”
            Dude! That was flat out debunked! The IRS policy you’re referencing here hit liberal groups just like it hit conservative ones and had nothing at all to do with Obama. This is not quite Benghazi level bull but it is bull.Report

        • Avatar bookdragon says:

          I guess most of the D’s I know, I know from temple, so they don’t strike me as particularly scary even when they talk about social justice since it’s mostly in the context of tikkun olam ideas we already agree on.

          Now extremes in both parties do worry me. But having seen a lot of college age radicals grow up to be moderates with full time jobs, kids, and mortgages, I’m a lot less worried about the radical lefties than about the radical right, who seem to become more rather than less extreme and entrenched with age.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            Fascism needs more than a small collection of authoritarian assholes. It also need broad structural support, and a sociopathic leader who can exploit structural weakness. It also need violent foot soldiers, such as the alt-right and the cops who support them. The left simply does not have these things — and antifa does not fetishize gun violence, nor do they have any meaningful support from the police. The alt-right does.

            Big picture: Trump is literally the President and literally a Fascist. The “Trumpist base” is the same frustrated middle-class that fuels fascism. The hard left are mostly bored intellectuals and pissed off queers. We simply don’t have the structural capacity to “do fascism.”

            http://www.pegc.us/archive/Articles/eco_ur-fascism.pdf

            Read Eco. Think.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I guess for me the question is what constitutes structural power?If someone can lose their job or their company because an internet mob comes for them, that’s power. If a company can scrap a million dollar ad campaign because some celebrities organize an outrage gang, that’s power. One could argue what AOC did with Amazon is the SW Left flexing their muscles. Right? Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren both launched pretty progressive platforms with their presidential bids. If one of them managed to get elected, who knows what that would look like? There are all kinds of ripple effects right now from #metoo and BLM that are a long way from playing out. All of that does represent power shifts, just not in the traditional sense.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            One could argue what AOC did with Amazon is the SW Left flexing their muscles.

            Uh, yeah that is a certain kind of power, but by that analysis no democratic system could be non-fascist. After all, elected representatives will do stuff. Furthermore, comparing AOC’s idealism with Trump’s cynical madness — it’s ridiculous. She is nowhere near as narcissistic or corrupt. As far as I can tell, she isn’t narcissistic or corrupt at all, but I don’t watch Fox News.

            The “structural power” I’m talking about needs to command men with guns, the cops and the military, to undermine democracy. It needs violent foot soldiers willing to murder and intimidate. It needs (at least at first) the backing of a significant core of the middle class, and the complacency of the elite. AOC will never have those things, not the way Trump almost does (nor how some more intelligent and competent Trump 2.0 certainly could).

            I’m talking about fascism, not “unpleasant politics that I don’t like”.

            Plus, if you say some dumb, racists shit, and you get fired — well that’s rather different from violent young men shooting up schools. Likewise, it’s different from manifest voter suppression backed by cops. Please understand the difference. People in my social group get unfairly fired all the fucking time, except we’re invisible, so no one cares.Report

        • Avatar Maribou says:

          (PS to my own comment: it’s not that my ideals are shaped by what my job pays me to do. it’s that i’m willing – in fact far more selfishly comfortable – to take a job where my ideals are useful rather than detrimental to the job, for way less pay; than the other way around. Which isn’t to knock on anyone who can’t afford to do that – just… here I am making money that I’ve seen a few of the left-leaning people on this board scoff at as “not a living wage” in the abstract, mostly because it lets me work at a job that I think actually makes the world better… and yes, I’ve done the math, I could live on it, and I work hard at any living outside my own personal means that happens being a thing I don’t depend on, or a medical or taking-care-of-other-people emergency. Not bragging, just self-categorizing in an ambiguous and not uncomplicated manner.)Report

  7. Avatar North says:

    I think it’s much like socialism. The term just gets slung at almost anything the speaker doesn’t like as a pejorative. I see more and more lefties screeching “fascist” the way the entire republican wing has been shrieking “Socialism” for my entire adult life.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      The closer analogue to “socialism” is “nationalism”. There are people who use the word as an accusation, but there are also people who proudly claim the title. This article is the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a defanging of the word “fascist”.Report

  8. Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

    “Who watches the watchers? That’s what DC is really about. Who watches the watchers and what might it mean if the people who hold the power are not deserving of it? If they were weak? If they were angry? If they were compromised by substance abuse or anger issues or blackmail or some other type of personal weakness? We understand on some level that if anyone who wasn’t Batman and Superman had their abilities, if someone who lacked their purity, their sense of purpose, their self-control, humanity was given such powers, humanity would be royally screwed.”

    This is a great analysis. I had this conversation with a loved one last year regarding this topic-Batman, the clever detective, the anti-hero is technically without a cape because he’s the mortal with leadership qualities. Man of steel is naive to how the world works and holds an idealism that everything should be like Smallville. Iowa, farm country, simplicity, fighting evil for the greater good. Whereas Batman, the clever detective, is a capitalist like Tony Stark. Both mortal. Both wealthy, both understand that defeating evil isn’t black or white-its forever in the grey. Batman’s analogy is sure, he’s a fascist. He’s willing to use whatever means necessary to achieve the greater goal for what he believes is the greater good. Batman, Bruce Wayne can only rely on his wits, and those wonderful toys. Superman relies on his imortality-he sees it one-way and has the means to do what is necessary. Superman cannot lead. He is not the politician-Batman is. He can dip his toe in the darkness to justify his sadistic tendencies. Superman cannot. He’s not mortal. Superman is like Thor. Their mindset is about honor and justice… Batman knows he can defeat the evil within-corruption of everyday human greed.

    That to me is the difference, and you summed it up perfectly. From a writer’s perspective -Batman doesn’t trust the system. He needs allies from the inside for his cause. Superman has no concept of the hidden evil from within because he’s good inside and out. The only time his ethics are questioned is when it comes to saving Lois Lane over the greater good–and this is why Batman will always be the leader of the JusticeLeague.

    Hire a capitalist and you’ll never go wrong.Report

  9. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    I’ve mentioned elsewhere that comparisons to Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia are weak if only because even within the universe of tyrannies, those two stand out as freakishly totalitarian.
    So comparisons tend to be easily waved away as hyperbole, ironically raising the bar from simple “loss of freedom” to “No gas chambers? No problem!”

    I think a more realistic fear would be one of the myriad of lesser tyrannical and authoritarian states like Pinochet’s Chile, or the East Bloc states like Romania or Yugoslavia, or one of the African banana republics.

    That is, America can conceivably fall into a place where a sufficiently large group of people continue their lives relatively unaffected, while a vulnerable minority endure suffering and oppression.

    Because, well, for most of our history, this was the exact reality.Report

  10. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    @veronica

    I’m going to respond to you down here because the threading for the new site is a bit ‘challenging’.

    “My point: internet vigilantism sucks for everyone, but to single it out to “one side” is dishonest.”

    I don’t think I am singling out one side here. I’ve already mentioned at least a couple of times that the Right has a long history of bad, sometimes violent, behavior. I’m talking about the social justice Left because Trump has been talked to death, I think his days are numbered, and I think the rise of the regressive Left is something we should be keeping an eye on.

    One thing to keep in mind is that this isn’t something like the Tea party that sprang up really quickly and kind of caught a lot of people (myself included) off-guard. Progressives have been arguably been building to this moment for close to 60 years. As I heard one person put it recently, it’s like the Left spent years perfecting this virus in a lab and found just the right time to release it onto society. I also share the opinion of several classically liberal academics that progressives are perhaps most to blame for the Donald Trump policy, not some underlying strain of fascism on the Right. (Perhaps that is a conversation for another time).

    The point I want to make though is that we live in a digital age now where people are very interconnected through social channels. As Claire Lehman, founder of Quillette has put it,

    “One might reasonably ask the question: what does it matter if an obscure culture war thread was shut down and the blogger associated with it experienced distress? Isn’t this the risk you take if you venture into the public square? What does it matter if a forum closes, if we can continue to live in nations that have free markets as well as scientific and technological progress?

    It matters because forums that give rise to organic intellectual discussion are ground zero for free thought. Scientific and technological progress cannot happen without people thinking freely—so to clamp down on it is to clamp down on progress itself. One could argue that such forums have parallels with the salons which sparked the French Enlightenment or the coffee houses where Scottish Enlightenment thought catalysed. The cross-pollination of ideas is important. While this used to happen within the university, it is now increasingly happening online.”

    So…to you it might seem trivial if someone is de-platformed or bullied into silence on a chatboard or, has been the case on this site many times, they just go away, THAT is a suppression of ideas and free thought. Just because people aren’t committing physical violence does not mean it should be taken lightly. One of the parts of the definition of fascism is, “…forcible suppression of opposition…” I think in 2019 that can look a lot different than it did in 1939.

    Again, I know this sounds hyperbolic or like the conservatives are trying to flip the tables on the Left. I don’t think we’re there…yet. But I also couldn’t imagine having half of the interesting conversations I did in college on today’s campuses, and that feels like a big step backwards for me.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      * Correction: “…progressives are perhaps most to blame for the Donald Trump presidency

      (I seem to no longer be able to edit comments after the timer expires.)Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        *takes another bong hit*

        But dude, when you think about it, aren’t conservatives actually the most to blame for progressives?
        Like, how Batman actually made the Joker? So Batman actually is to blame for all those people getting killed!Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        * Correction: “…progressives are perhaps most to blame for the Donald Trump presidency…

        Personally, I think the group most directly responsible the election of Donald Trump is the (pre-Trump) establishment GOP.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          Maybe. Maybe it was the progressives,maybe it was the moderate Republicans.

          But the one group who had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the election of Donald Trump, was the people who voted for Donald Trump!

          The trump voters are of course, wholly responsible for the Democrats taking the House, and especially the election of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez because, well, y’know, that’s how it works.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            But the one group who had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the election of Donald Trump, was the people who voted for Donald Trump!

            Heh. Just saw this. Yes, of course you’re right.

            …Well, I mean, you’re right as far as it goes. But how far is that, really? Consider the following hypothetical… …Report

          • Avatar The question says:

            hey man once you accept the fact that conservatives don’t have agency and they can only react to outside stimuli it really becomes much simpler to figure out everything.

            I mean it turns out that everything is actually our fault because we’re the ones trying to do things instead of just giving massive tax cuts to the rich.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          I believe that in the context Mike is using here he means that the GOP and conservatives are responsible for Trumps candidacy but the Dems are responsible for not beating him once he conquered the Republicans and got the nomination.
          Which, I suppose, does work on a certain level. I mean after Bush and then the rights behavior during the Obama era how can they be expected to be responsible for anything?

          For more on this consider Douthat’s “The Democrats have a Culture Problem” article. Though at least Ross vaguely through gritted teeth admits that the GOP might have played some minor part in Obama’s failure to produce bipartisan legislation.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            but the Dems are responsible for not beating him once he conquered the Republicans and got the nomination.

            My dad used to say stuff like this about baseball. “If you can get your glove on it, you can catch it.” What if you’re already stretched out to the limit and can’t stretch anymore? “Then you just stretch a bit more, son.”

            Add: My father was a died in the wool Nixon-loving Republican.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            North,

            Thanks for trying to clarify but I was actually thinking something different. Rather than try to explain, I’ll just link to this, since James Lindsay articulates this better than me. (I finally learned how to link to a specific spot in a YouTube video so it will start just as he is making this point). His point is about 3 minutes long but it’s a powerful one.

            https://youtu.be/97FuO-hEhQo?t=3265

            I’ve been essentially saying the same thing here and elsewhere for years. Lots of Americans are tired of getting beat over the head and told how racist/bigoted/dumb/white privileged they are for the last 10+ years by the Left (and I think this extends beyond the SJ crowd). There was always going to be an inevitable push-back and I think Trump accidentally tapped into it.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Mike, Trump ran on protecting SS, Medicare and Medicaid, hinted at supporting single payer but guaranteed protections for pre-existing conditions, made a bit of hay about increasing taxes on the rich, criticized the Iraq war as the biggest mistake in US history, was pro-gay marriage and pro-choice early in the campaign…. All those are what you (I think) would call progressive issues. Meanwhile, he *also* rejected PC culture.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            @stillwater

            I am aware of his policy positions, but I also believe he won by giving voice to people that are tired of being told they are bad by the SJ Left. I only know a couple of admitted Trump voters. One was a cop who served 20 years in black neighborhoods and never shot anyone, but retired around the same time BLM really got cranking and felt like his career was being insulted. The other guy I know has been married to a black woman for 20 years, has two interracial kids but consistently gets told he is racist on chatboards and he told me that when he made the mistake of citing his family as proof to the contrary one time he was told they were tokens so that he could keep saying biggoted things. He told me that was when he decided to vote for Trump, basically as a protest.

            I’ve also seen a growing under-current of men pushing back on the toxic masculinity thing. Norse paganism is growing within the military and elsewhere because it emphasizes ‘manliness’. I’m seeing fitness/ cross-fit guys in my IG feed who are talking about ‘reclaiming their masculinity’ and stoicism.

            All of this is obviously anecdotal but I feel like I have a good feeling for the pulse of the mainstream Right at the moment. There are just a lot of people that believe they are good people and constantly get told they are actually racists or something like that.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            but I also believe he won by giving voice to people that are tired of being told they are bad by the SJ Left.

            Sure. But he also gave voice to the pussy grabbers, to the thieves and the corrupt, to the ignorant who think smart people are lying to them, to haters, to white nationalists, racists and bigots *as well as* people who wanted deregulation on environmental standards, a dismantling of governmental institutions, NATO and other international treaties torn up, self-dealers installed in positions of power, etc and so on.

            Everyone knew all these things about Trump. None of it should have come as a surprise to anyone. It certainly shouldn’t be viewed as anything other than it is.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I will say one thing for Trump: he hasn’t gotten us into the until now obligatory first-term military conflict/escalation. Still early tho. And his poll numbers are flagging.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            “giving voice to people that are tired of being told they are bad by the SJ Left”

            To paraphrase…If you are supporting Trump ironically to own the libs, you are still supporting Trump.

            Or in my own words-
            If your ego is so fragile and brittle that you would knowingly support someone like Trump just out of spite…yeah, you’re a bad person.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            A lot of those groups you are talking about though? They don’t vote. You know who does? White middle class folks that have been told they are guilty of white sin.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            @chip

            You are making my point for me.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            A lot of those groups you are talking about though? They don’t vote.

            They’re the white working class and voters with a HS education, Mike. You know, the people who pushed Trump over the finish line (err, I mean, the people who Dems are to blame for pushing into Trump’s lane or something).Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            According to the story we were told after the election it was white suburban women that elected Trump. Has tbat changed?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I think the story goes the other way: that after Trump won white suburban women who’d been reliably R were leaving the GOP in droves.

            The story about the election *I* remember is that white working class and HS educated voters went for Trump in doves. That was a pretty widely promulgated narrative, anyway.

            Could be wrong tho.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I thought the whole narrative of the Women’s March was white women atoning for their Teump votes while black women shook their heads at them? I wrote a post about it at the time and it seemed like I quoted a bunch of women of color that felt like it was too little too late.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Well, we run in different circles.:)Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            THo, thinking about it a bit more, that story doesn’t really make any sense. The women’s march took place during the inauguration. Trump hadn’t done anything for his voters to feel remorseful about yet.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Yeah, the intersectionalists have a lotta rules, no doubt.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            When I say that Progressives helped get Trump elected, what I mean is that after years of Obama, when I think he gave a lot of encouragement to the social justice Left, by 2016 there were a LOT of people who felt under attack from the Left for a variety of reasons. For example, it was my daughter’s first presidential election that she got to vote in and she was a big Bernie supporter (Millennials!). What cranked her up was Hillary telling her that she was a bad feminist for not supporting her. So I’m pretty sure she voted for Jill Stein, which meant a lost vote for Dems. And for me that is sort of emblematic of the way that Progressives shoot themselves in the foot. They are so quick to criticize. Two of those questions I posted above from the Bo Winegard piece specifically point to that:

            – Why do Woke preachers often denigrate those who fail Woke purity tests (thus alienating many potential allies)?

            – Why don’t more Woke preachers strive to make as many friends and partners among hoi polloi as possible, since such partnerships would help them to achieve their stated goals?

            So I think Chip is expecting too much of the electorate that they would suppress their hurt feelings/anger over how they were treated for the last 8 years and make a rationale choice. Presidential elections especially are just as much about emotion as reason IMO. And then what happened afterwards? We were told that white people elected Trump because they felt their power slipping away and it was sort of the last gasp of institutional racism. I have seen that exact charge levied on this site countless times, even though all of us to the right of Progressives have tried to explain it’s a lot more complicated than that.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            I’ve also seen a growing under-current of men pushing back on the toxic masculinity thing. Norse paganism is growing within the military and elsewhere because it emphasizes ‘manliness’. I’m seeing fitness/ cross-fit guys in my IG feed who are talking about ‘reclaiming their masculinity’ and stoicism.

            Yes, this is happening, because of course it’s happening. From Eco’s article on fascism:

            Since both permanent war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to play with weapons – doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.

            Gender dynamics play a big role in the rise of Trump, but I will insist that the misogyny was always present, even if latent. Furthermore, I will suggest that the psychological drive of so many of these men is narcissistic injury, which explains the appeal of outward, but fragile, expressions of masculinity, such as Trump.

            “You called my masculinity fragile! Grrrr! Stomp!”

            Um, it appears such masculinity was indeed fragile.

            And the Norse Paganism thing: the appeal to the golden past, the heroic age. Again, classic fascism. Mussolini promised to return to the glory of Rome. Hitler called back to German paganism, at least in its fantastical, Wagnerian forms.

            Yes. Indeed. Exactly.

            “Guys who like fight club.”Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            @veronica

            I’m not seeing the reclaiming masculinity stuff from the Right. They never lost it. I’m seeing it from the Left.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            The “reclaiming masculinity” crowd are largely suburban men who indeed move to the right. These are the proto-fascists.

            I’m not talking about “good old boys” with their gun racks. They’re a different population entirely. They’re no doubt just as sexist and homophobic — although they can surprise you — but they don’t have the same fragility and ensuing rage.

            I’m hesitant to say too much about the “good old boy” types, since they’re so far outside of my culture space. The suburban alt-right type, however, I know them very well.

            Both groups likely voted for Trump.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            @veronica

            Again, these are not people that even lean a little to the right. The ones that are politically engaged probably fall into the IDW / classical liberal group. Many of the other ones I am seeing embracing this are outdoorsy types (not rednecks), alt-fitness folks, etc. I think it’s just a big group of guys that don’t associate with the Right but also don’t see a home on the Left (I’m raising my hand as a fellow traveler). At the same time they feel like traditional masculinity is under attack and are looking for ways to express it that y’know, won’t get them called fascists.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Mike,

            This is definitely off-thread, but I can’t help but notice that your obsession with the far left exactly mirrors what you view as Sam’s obsession with racial politics in law enforcement. I don’t mean that as a criticism of the views you express on the topic (just as I don’t criticize Sam for focusing narrowly on only a handful of topics in his posts). But if you’re interested in how the intersectional left *actually* views the world, as opposed to reading conservative critiques of why intersectionalists are a dangerous threat to liberty and all that is holy, there are people on this site who could help you. Maribou and Veronica, and maybe others, seem pretty plugged into that scene.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            That said, it’s always good to remember that every great idea begins as a movement, becomes a business, then degenerates into a racket. 🙂Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            @stillwater,

            Everything I have been reading on the topic lately is actually coming from slightly left of center. Nearly everyone I am hearing on this topic self-identifies as a liberal or at most a centrist. It’s that big ‘mushy middle’ you were talking about, but these are politically engaged folks that are interested in not letting the same thing happen on that side of the aisle that happened on the Right.

            My personal interest is that the folks having this conversation are the ones I identify with the most these days (and arguably I have been an unknowing member of this group for much longer). A majority of Americans are in the center these days so I think it’s productive to call out extremism on both sides of the aisle. I don’t know what more could be done to criticize the Far Right but I am glad the Far Left is getting its due as well. I am also happy to admit there’s no small amount of house cleaning that needs to be done on this site with regards to social justice and identity politics, so I’m doing what I can to shine some light on that as well. if the social justice warriors here are a representative sample (and they seem to align with pretty much all of the critiques I have read lately) then I feel like I have a pretty good understanding at this point.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Mike,

            Well, I don’t think you’re doing a very good job of it, primarily because (in my view) you don’t understand the arguments and perspectives which generate social justice critiques of the status quo. Instead, you merely reject them and then move (quickly!) to providing a psychological account of your opponents motivations. As a matter of argument, there is plenty of space to criticize what you call “SJW” arguments and positions without begging the question or crawling inside people’s heads. But one type of criticism that makes no sense, to me anyway, is to observe that (conservative) reactionaries will oppose the SJW movement and their arguments. I mean, of course they will. That’s obvious.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I don’t think you should assume that my armchair analysis of Sam extends to the entire SJ movement. I’m keenly aware that people arrive at political and policy preferences from many different directions.

            I don’t follow the point you are trying to make here:

            “But one type of criticism that makes no sense, to me anyway, is to observe that (conservative) reactionaries will oppose the SJW movement and their arguments.”Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            You mentioned a growing undercurrent of men pushing back on the “the toxic masculinity thing”. Of course they push back on that. You’ve said that the SJW is responsible for Trump winning. etc and so on. Reactionaries will oppose the lefty identity based arguments. This is obvious and trivial. You proposed that Trump won because people were tired of being shamed by the PC left. So what? I mean, of course that may be an interesting view of how electoral politics works but it doesn’t have any bearing on whether the PC-based critique is correct or not.Report

          • Avatar Maribou says:

            ” there’s no small amount of house cleaning that needs to be done on this site with regards to social justice and identity politics” (quote from Mike Dwyer)

            Just to be clear, since Mike’s never been quite that clear about his animus before that I noticed:

            No one and no person is getting “house cleaned” with regards to social justice and identity politics on this site. Not on the pro side, not on the con side. Even were I not here, or Sam, there is no way any of the other editors, especially Will, would let that happen. And Mike is, frankly, not in a position to do that, though as long as he stays within bounds he can “shine a light” on whatever he wants, as any commenter can. In the rare instances where someone really can’t be a productive commenter here, that’s when Will deals with it within the moderation process that he’s established. Which is almost never sudden (sometimes someone is, say, porn spamming the site or something, and we react quickly).

            Just wanna be really really clear about this to anyone who might’ve read that other comment and felt nervous, since people of various political stripes, who weren’t even on the editors’ radar as needing some kind of moderation, have explained before that they felt chased off from commenting or chased off from the site. Heck, I’ve felt that way myself more than once or twice. And for the vast majority of other people who felt that way, including those who were really pissed off at me, I could totally see why they did.

            But:

            It’s not happening, and it’s not going to happen. Will is both not going to let it happen and has set up structures to protect it from happening in how he deals with moderation decisons.

            No one gets “house cleaned” around here.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            @Stillwater

            We’re talking about two separate things:

            1) The pushback from average citizens against the more broad criticisms from the SJ Left. That’s where the reluctant Trump voters and the non-political folks ‘reclaiming’ their masculinity come in.

            2) The more specific, academic critique of the SJ Left. This is coming from a lot of politically-engaged and intellectual folks, who again, mostly self-identify as left-of-center.

            I think #1 has a lot more room for disagreement than #2. Most of the folks engaged on #2 have already established their bona fides and I see no reason to doubt them. They are not activists, only academics discussing a troubling trend both on campuses and off.

            * Also, to clarify my previous remarks….you don’t have to remove people to clean house. Often it’s enough just to shine light on problems and try to encourage bottom-up leadership in the form of new ideas. In the couple of years I was an editor I don’t think I ever once advocated that a commenter or writer be removed from the site, even Sam. And even if I wanted to, I can’t imagine anyone is under the confusion that I could somehow make that happen. It seems silly to need to clarify that, but there it is.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            1) The pushback from average citizens against the more broad criticisms from the SJ Left. That’s where the reluctant Trump voters and the non-political folks ‘reclaiming’ their masculinity come in.

            The pushback against the SJW-left from “average citizens” is probably no more nor less than the pushback from those people against the fundamentalist right, or the alt-right, or the blow-up-the-deficit right. That’s because the average citizen doesn’t give a rats ass about these types of things. IMO. 🙂

            I think you’re playing a bit of a game here, tho, by identifying yourself as solidly in the political middle and speaking for the average person (you’re now their advocate, whether they like it or not!). If your comments on Sam’s posts are any indication you are solidly *not* in the middle on these issues, Mike. In fact, you’ve admitted as much yourself when you said, somewhere on this thread I think, that you’re terrified of the SJW left. In my view, that’s not rational, dude.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            @Stillwater,

            I don’t know if you were here when I was still using the handle, but my original screen name was ‘Progressive Conservative’. Dennis Sanders and I were both involved in centrist website for a while and I have pretty consistently advocated for moderate policies for a long time. I’m only an advocate for the ‘average’ person in the sense that I talk to a lot of people from various political persuasions in the real world every day and I see a lot of common themes from both Democrats and Republicans.

            The Hidden Tribes study says Progressive Activists are about 8% of the population. They lump Traditional Conservatives and Devoted Conservatives together on the other end of the spectrum as 25%. The ‘Vast Middle’ is the 67% of people in between. According to their quiz I’m a ‘Traditional Liberal’ which puts me just to the right of Progressive Activists. And yet on this site, I’m considered one of the conservatives, according to you at least in part because I disagree strongly with Sam (and others) on police shootings. And I think that neatly sums up what I have been saying which is that the social justice crowd is so influential that it makes a traditional liberal look like a Righty by comparison.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            This comment is bizarre to me, Mike. I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

            (I know you’ll respond, but I think we’ve gone as far as we can on this topic.)Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            As I said, I think it reflects either how Far Left many of the commenters are here or the polarizing effect of only knowing people through chatboard comments.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            @ Stillwater
            I think there needs to be a calibration on reactionary. If someone stays in the same position in the center, and the far left departs from reality, it isn’t the person in the center that has moved as a reaction of a movement, it is the far left reacting away from reality. I won’t claim that is purely whole cloth, but it probably needs to be accounted as a possibility.

            Is there anything that separates Mikes political position from yours?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Well, by today’s standards Nixon would be viewed as a progressive liberal, right?

            At the level of the two political parties, the GOP has moved radically to the right over the last few decades while the Dems have been pretty constant. At the level of the electorate, conservatives have moved to the left over the last few decades while liberals have probably *also* moved to the left.

            I saw a great paper which highlighted this distinction by way of a graph in which conservative voters preferences were waaay to the left of the federal level GOP voting record and liberal voters preferences were also to the left of national level Democrats voting record but much closer (and very close to Nancy Pelosi’s positions, actually).Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            @ Stillwater
            If the GOP has moved to the right, where are the really hard cuts to social spending?
            Maybe you are seeing something I am not?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            The GOP’s rightward turn is exemplified, seems to me, in the narrowness of their positive policy proposals which are limited to cutting taxes on the wealthy, deregulation of business and seating conservative judges. But just because they haven’t passed cuts to social spending doesn’t mean they haven’t turned to the right. More importantly to the point I was making above, the conservative voting base has moved to the left relative to the GOP (on the scatter plot of preferences vs. voting record). Personally, I think the GOP has moved to the right in the ways I mentioned while its base has moved to the left, but teasing out which is which is beyond my abilities.* The way I’d account for this phenomenon is via one of Will Truman’s concepts: negative partisanship. The GOP is increasingly reliant on negative partisanship to gain electoral support since the policy suite it offers is pretty profoundly different than the preferences of its voting base.

            *well, except for easy cases like increasing taxes on the rich, gun control, healthcare issues, etc and so on. Stuff that’s pretty current.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            @Stillwater
            Most of the GOP turn, doesn’t look like much a turn, as those policies are almost expected when that party comes to power yes?

            Also what indications are you showing movement in the conservative base leftward?

            At times I think I see the social constructs being injected with leftist noise, but that is different than the actual base pulling the constructs leftward by choice.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Conservative voters are closer to Democratic positions than the GOP’s on healthcare, taxing the rich, gun control, gay marriage, transgender in the military (OK, they were only at 40% support :), environmental protections, climate change… Hell a majority of conservatives support Medicare for All…Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            I don’t think the medicare for all is a big move, in that it is already a construct, its just a shift in function.

            Is this polling data?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Yes, polling. Also, could you explain what the term “social construct” means up there?Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            Ah, polling, that makes more sense.

            Which social construct would you like to consider, education, enforcement, healthcare, military, etc. It’s a big list, more noise in some than others, more pulling in some than others.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            Lemme tell ya about a poll down here that showed a high percentage of support for Licensed Carry.

            The news ran with a story that Constitutional Carry had little support based on polling data.(because if you prefer licensed carry, there is no way you could be for constitutional carry right?)

            They never polled for Consitutional Carry data.

            Its difficult telling if these news people and polling people are attempting false propaganda, or are just fishing dumb as rocks.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Its difficult telling if these news people and polling people are attempting false propaganda, or are just fishing dumb as rocks.

            Heh. I knew that was coming. “The polls can’t be trusted!” 🙂Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            Meh, polls are a social construct subject to the gravity well of leftists being leftists. I don’t think many on the right take that shit serious anymore.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            “Meh, polls are a social construct…”

            🙂Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            If the polls are wrong, I’ll eat a bug.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            That truth component of social objectivity can be a little fickle at times.

            It’s not like someone would mistake it for empirical objectivity……that would just be silly.
            😉Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Polls nothing Joe. Trump was the one candidate who went off the reservation on cutting social spending (he claimed he wouldn’t do it) and he beat the other GOP candidates like bonga drums. Most of his conservative heresies were left wing heresies and the GOP voters rewarded him with the nomination. That is very consistent with the polling.

              This has been a problem for the GOP for decades now but they’ve resolved the problem so far by simply drowning it in red ink. The wealthy money people of the GOP don’t care too much about debt so long as they get their tax cuts so this works fine for them.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                The GOP is not moving Rightward or there would be signs of anarcho-capitalism showng up in policy. What is seen is bog standard GOP policy, and no cuts in social spending.

                There hasn’t been a hard dip in welfare spending created by a politician since Reagan.

                Trump could be said to be neo-liberal by some past measures/people identified by the term.Report

  11. Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

    Absolutely correct. Democrats elected Trump, and they’re about to do it again. Are they progressives or far left populists? I cannot keep up but the debacle today in the house is a prime example on how to get your own leg caught in your own bear trap. Identity politics is the democrats dark demon. As long as they remain addicted to their radical soapboxes Trump isn’t going anywhere.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      {{This reads like sound bites lifted from Laura Ingram.}}

      {{Sounds like read bites…?}}Report

      • Avatar North says:

        What I love about this comment is that if the Dems weren’t trying to tackle the anti-semitism question you could keep this comment almost exactly the same message wish with only a couple changed words.Report

        • Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

          Point is the democrats have a hypocrisy problem. They cannot attract center voters for 2020 if they’re no different than current GOP. Worse, they cannot condemn GOP while defending anti-Semites in their own party. Cannot attack Kevin McCarthy, Pelosi is no better. Cannot attack Steve King or Ghomert -they need to take the speck out of their own eye first. It becomes the lesser of two evils decision once again-and that will split the rust belt. .Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            The D’s passed a resolution today condemning all sorts of ethnic hatreds. Is that enough? Is that more than the R’s have done? Have R’s have had reps saying far worse things for many years why is now somehow exactly equal because a first term rep has erred. It didn’t seem to hurt R’s in the past to have steve king or his ilk around. But now it hurts D’s?Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            See, this is why I get so irked by this horserace sophistry.

            We get derailed into talking, not about our ideas or opinions, but about what some mythical Median Voter out there
            *waves hand vaguely in the direction of where Real Americans live*
            believes, or allegedly believes, or is offended by, or attracted to.

            Who is actually holding these views?

            Who actually says “Wow, the Democrats are a bunch of racists! I’m so offended, I’m voting for Steve King!!”Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Point is the democrats have a hypocrisy problem. They cannot attract center voters for 2020 if they’re no different than current GOP.

            Even if both parties are equally hypocritical, there’s plenty of difference between the Dems and the GOP.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter says:

            The D’s passed a resolution today condemning all sorts of ethnic hatreds. Is that enough?

            Depends on how happy you think BLM should have been about “all lives matter”.Report

          • Avatar Dark Matter says:

            Even if both parties are equally hypocritical, there’s plenty of difference between the Dems and the GOP.

            True. The Green New Deal goes a long way to convince me the Dems shouldn’t be trusted near the economy. Ditto AOC’s recent successful efforts to destroy jobs because capitalism is evil.Report

      • Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

        Reality bites sometimes. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Gosh I’m showing my age…loved that movie.Report

  12. Avatar Aaron David says:

    @stillwater

    “The GOP is already and as-we-speak doing that very thing, yet you claim to be terrified of the SJW left? ”

    If it applies equally than no, I don’t have a problem. And yes, I am much more scared of the Dems right now, even with this.Report

  13. Avatar Aaron David says:

    It isn’t a Nietzsche thing, it’s an equality thing. I think many voter things are deeply shitty. I also think that we should take more steps to ensure the integrity of a vote and political action. Take Obama’s IRS for instance. But if they apply equally, then they are equally shitty.Report

  14. Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

    “The D’s passed a resolution today condemning all sorts of ethnic hatreds. Is that enough? Is that more than the R’s have done? Have R’s have had reps saying far worse things for many years why is now somehow exactly equal because a first term rep has erred. It didn’t seem to hurt R’s in the past to have steve king or his ilk around. But now it hurts D’s?”

    The person who should’ve been reprimanded for Anti-Semitism not once but *twice* just commented on the resolution about Muslim hate. It’s pure whataboutism. This isn’t the first time she’s erred and Clyburn’s defense of her is outrageous. 6 million Jews gassed is less an atrocity than what Omar has been through? This will backfire on democrats. Pepsi failed to reign in her caucus-and she’ll pay a price for it. Jewish democrats are furious with her.Report

    • Avatar Jesse says:

      “Jewish democrats are furious with her.”

      In reality, nobody outside of Twitter or the Beltway cares about this – https://twitter.com/NateSilver538/status/1103762073241223168Report

    • Avatar bookdragon says:

      Funny. I know a lot of Jewish Democrats. I’m married to one. Can’t think of many furious with Pelosi. But then the ones I know actually read and have mostly watched the context of Omar’s second remark, so they know it wasn’t directed at Jews but at rightwing Christian Republican who told her she shouldn’t be allowed on a certain committee unless she pledged support for Israel.

      Also the rank hypocrisy of R’s who go straight to anti-semitic tropes in their frequent Soros attacks, is astounding. Not to mention the hypocrisy of objecting to *also* condemning racism and anti-Muslim bigotry.Report

      • Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

        I was referring to House Jewish democrats. Elliot Engel for one.Report

        • Avatar bookdragon says:

          I’m not in his district, so not terribly familiar with him, but I hope he bothers to listen to his Caucus, and to read the local paper of record. Paul Waldman’s Washington Post article, “The dishonest smearing of Ilhan Omar,” lays bare the dishonest dual loyalty charge.

          The dishonest smearing of Ilhan Omar

          At this point, I think the only House Jewish Dems who continue claim fury at Omar are either deliberately ignorant or deliberately pushing a false narrative (as many R’s clearly are) for calculated political gain.Report

    • Avatar The question says:

      I don’t see how it’s anti-semitic to point out that aipac enforces and almost religious level of support for Israel in both parties and that were somehow conflating speaking up about Israel’s government into being anti-Semitism y’all are going to make the same mistake you made with socialism where you just call everything you don’t like anti-Semitism to enforce loyalty to a right-wing government in Israel.

      Maybe stop shooting peaceful protesters and people wouldn’t say things like hey y’all should stop shooting peaceful protesters.Report

      • Avatar bookdragon says:

        The even greater irony is that by a lot of the measures used here close to 50% of Jewish Israelis would have to be counted as anti-semitic for criticizing Bibi or his collation’s policies. 😛Report

  15. Avatar greginak says:

    My family has a lot of jewish democrats. Not one seems to care about here fwiw. The D’s did respond, but it isn’t good enough i guess. The R’s have done little to nothing and it’s the D’s who will pay the price. That is how this reads.

    No whataboutism here. If antisemitism is something to care about, and it is, then everybody needs to be accountable. The D’s did something. You don’t’ think that’s enough. Okay, that’s your choice. The R’s have had far more anti S and done far less about it. It’s hard for me to see how that resounds to a major problem for the D’s.Report

    • Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

      Oh, I’m not disagreeing with you re: republicans at all. But no, the vote today and the defense for Omar in my opinion is going to backfire.Report

  16. Tracy Downey Tracy Downey says:

    ee, this is why I get so irked by this horserace sophistry.

    We get derailed into talking, not about our ideas or opinions, but about what some mythical Median Voter out there
    *waves hand vaguely in the direction of where Real Americans live*
    believes, or allegedly believes, or is offended by, or attracted to.

    “Who is actually holding these views?

    Who actually says “Wow, the Democrats are a bunch of racists! I’m so offended, I’m voting for Steve King!!”

    Steve won in spite of his comments, remember? When center voters are forced with lesser of two evils they’ll always vote on the culture wars they agree most with. If democrat leaders cannot stand up to reason, they fail building rapport with disgruntled republicans. On the fence voters want a solid reason to seeing against their party, their moral fiber, and culture. If it’s not presented they’ll stay home or vote for the party more in line with their beliefs. Democrats proved today they’re just as tribal as GOP. How does that appeal to moderates?Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

      What makes you think Steve King won despite his comments?Report

      • Avatar The question says:

        I mean it’s pretty accepted fact that he wins because his voters know he’s a racist piece of s*** right I mean they’re not like under the illusion that Steve King’s really a nice guy but sometimes his mouth malfunctions and he says dumb s*** like calves like cantaloupes.

        I mean there’s not a lot of subtext to the guy he’s pretty blatant about the fact that he thinks white people are awesome and the rest of y’all can just go burn in a tire fireReport

  17. Like Bookdragon, I’m not quite on board with your statements about fascism. That’s mostly for the reasons Bookdragon cites, but also because the temptation to using whatever means necessary to accomplish something is so widespread, and so evergreen, that it can be applied to pretty much anyone at any time–which suggests to me that “fascism” should be reserved for something more specific, otherwise it won’t be much use.

    That said, I also agree with Bookdragon that I like your analysis in this OP. I’m not at all a connoisseur of comics (I don’t think I’ve ever read more than a handful of comics, and don’t know the difference between DC and Marvel aside from what you present here), and I know only the rudiments of the superman and batman legends/myths. But I really like your discussion of the problems they face and their temptations to abusing their power, and the problems posed by the nature of the villains they encounter.Report

  18. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    @Stillwater

    This:

    “At the level of the electorate, conservatives have moved to the left over the last few decades while liberals have probably *also* moved to the left.”

    and this:

    “Conservative voters are closer to Democratic positions than the GOP’s on healthcare, taxing the rich, gun control, gay marriage, transgender in the military (OK, they were only at 40% support :), environmental protections, climate change… Hell a majority of conservatives support Medicare for All…”

    I agree with you on both of those statements, so why is it so hard to believe I would end up as a Traditional Liberal on the Hidden Tribes quiz? Are you basing all of this on a debate over the single topic of police shootings? And keep in mind, I’m in favor of trials for EVERY officer involved in a shooting, body cameras, more training, etc. I just don’t like Sam’s narrative and I think he’s incredibly dishonest about what the actual data shows. That doesn’t make me some extreme conservative.

    Just to throw out a random sample of positions…

    – I am anti-death penalty
    – I am pro public schools
    – i am anti-vouchers
    – I am pro science
    – i am pro social safety nets
    – I am willing to discuss a comprehensive handgun ban in the US
    – I am pro drug legalization
    – I am pro public lands
    – I am pro jobs training, infrastructure, federal jobs programs

    I get that the (frequent) police shootings posts get heated and people make assumptions, but it’s a little more nuanced than that.Report

  19. Hey just wanted to thank everyone for reading and the great comments.

    Also want to apologize for the plethora of typos in this. Not sure what happened with some of those. I’ll do better next time.Report

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