Friday, April 26, 2019

The Case of the Abusive Mother-in-Law

Surely, we understand the decisions. A husband tells his wife that he wants to cut all ties with his family, especially his mother. His wife does not want to help precipitate a major family disruption. She wants a harmonious and inclusive family environment. We understand her reasoning perfectly.

Husband accepts her reasoning and continues to try to maintain good relations with his mother. It is not working out well. Mother-in-law continues to abuse her son at every opportunity. So, the daughter-in-law writes to Carolyn Hax:

When I married my wonderful husband, he asked if we could cut ties with his family. I thought he was joking.

He grew up in a verbally and emotionally abusive household — something I will never fully understand, but definitely didn't grasp pre-marriage. While his mother was also a victim (her father was the abuser), she is the one we have the most problems with. I spent the first part of our marriage telling my husband he should be more supportive of her because she was a victim and has clear untreated mental illness. What I didn't understand was that she filled his childhood with manipulation, passive-aggression, severe OCD and hoarding, and helicopter parenting.

Now she continues to unload her untreated anxiety on him. He tries to set boundaries, she ignores them. Many people have suggested therapy, she refuses treatment. She blames every problem she's ever had, including things that happened four decades ago, which she still ruminates about constantly, on any- and everyone but herself. Every 20-minute call leaves my husband drained and frustrated.

She wants to be around her grandchildren. How do we let this woman into our life without feeling depleted? How do we set boundaries with someone who ignores them?

— Distraught Daughter-in-Law

Carolyn Hax offers a wise and correct observation. This woman created the problem by refusing to accept her husband’s suggestion the first time. She bears some considerable responsibility for the current state of affairs. Thus, she owes him a large apology. Once he receives it, and once he knows that his wife is with him, he will have an easier time standing up to his abusive mother.

Surely, this is totally correct. And it is very important to note that his inability to deal with his mother derives from his wife’s disloyalty. Kudos to Hax:

You laughed off your husband’s cry for help! And then sided with his tormentor against him.

This history must be addressed before you deal with the present. Why? You owe him a massive apology. And because your husband needs strength to hold the line with his mother — wherever he draws it, which we’ll get to — and healthy relationships with the primary people in our lives are, for any of us, a significant source of emotional strength.

As his wife, you are likely the primary person.

Maybe you get it and have long since repaired the trust you damaged by siding against him. My apologies, if so. But your letter doesn’t have that “WOW I messed up” vibe, and his mother is still tormenting him — and that tells me there’s still work to do on your marital trust. That means a full reckoning with your part in his pain. Such as: “You asked sincerely to cut ties with your family and I treated it as a joke. I’m so sorry. I left you to deal with her unsupported.” Show him you get it and you’re safe to lean on now.

As a full and fully comprehending partner, you can join him in learning about boundaries: namely, that when properly set and held, they aren’t subject to anyone’s disrespect. You decide what behavior you’ll accept from people, and become unavailable to those who behave otherwise. She gets blamey on the phone? He says, “Sorry to interrupt, but I have to go,” and hangs up. She screams? He screens.

She keeps hurting him? He cuts ties.

Ultimately, cutting all ties is the right thing to do.

I would only add one point. We understand that the new husband accepted his wife’s suggestion because he wanted to ensure harmony within his family. In a better world he would have politely refused from the onset. After all, he had known his mother his entire life. His new wife did not know her at all. He should not have suggested it, he should have explained that he has no other choice but to cut ties with his mother. A loyal wife would have acceded. It’s fair to say that the wife created the mess, but her husband allowed her to do so. If he could not stand up to his wife, why would we expect him to be able to stand up to his mother?

Climate Change Hysteria

Here’s a story that will brighten your day. I promise. OK, those who hang on the drool issuing forth from one Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will not find this very amusing. After all, the bug-eyed buffoon from New York City has already told us that the world as we know it is going to end in twelve years. If you actually believed that, you should stop reading now. And you should bow your head in shame.

Because, guess what, climate change hysteria has been with us for quite some time now. Peter Baggins, at (via Zero Hedge) has done us a great service. He has gone back in time and unearthed the dire prophecies pronounced by climate change hysterics in 1970.

You will not be surprised at what you are going to read. Here they are:

  1.  “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
    — Harvard biologist George Wald
  1. “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation,” 
— Denis Hayes, Chief organizer for Earth Day

  1. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human
    — Washington University biologist Barry Commoner

  1.  “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100–200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years. … Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born. … [By 1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.
    — Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich

  1. “Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions …. By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.
    — North Texas State University professor Peter Gunter

  1. “In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution… by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.”
    — Life magazine

  1. “At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable. … By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate … that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, ‘Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, ‘I am very sorry, there isn’t any. … The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
    — Kenneth Watt

You will note that most of these prophecies were offered by people who held serious titles in serious American universities. They were scientific thought leaders.

Climate change hysteria has been with us for decades now. It will likely be with us for many more decades.

Bringing Rape Culture to Sweden

You would think that the Feminist Paradise called Sweden would be tough on rape. After all, feminists in this country have been militating against rape culture. Thus, by logical deduction, a nation that was run by feminists would naturally be far more strict when it comes to punishing rape. Surely, it would not suffer from patriarchal toxic male solidarity and excuse rape as a simple misunderstanding.

You would be in for a big surprise. In the Feminist Paradise of Sweden they go soft on rapists. Especially on Muslim migrant rapists, like this one from Somalia. You will note that the man, convicted of rape, was originally sentenced to one year and ten months in jail. Thus, felonious rape merely gets you a slap on the wrist. As crimes go, it’s slightly more serious than jaywalking, but not by a lot. I have long since considered multicultural Sweden to have embraced human sacrifice. I still do. 

But, then the tough hard-assed feminists in Sweden have added an additional punishment. A migrant rapist should be deported from the nation. After all, they do not want to have convicted rapists wandering around their thoroughly “woke” nation. 

At least, such was the case up to now. Recently, the Supreme Court of Sweden has decided that the expulsion order was unfair or not very nice or racist or whatever. Thus it overturned prior court rulings and is allowing the convicted rapist to stay in the country.

Here is the story, from the Swedish paper, called The Local:

Two lower courts had ruled that the man, a 33-year-old Somali citizen, should be deported after serving a jail sentence for rape, but the Supreme Court overturned this decision while extending his jail sentence by four months. The reason for ruling against deportation was that his ties to Sweden were considered to be strong, although two of the five Supreme Court justices argued the seriousness of the crime outweighed this and that he should be expelled.

The man was first found guilty of rape by Linköping District Court, after he forced himself on a woman he did not know while they both stayed overnight at a mutual friend's apartment.

He was found guilty based on witness statements from the victim and the apartment owner, as well as SMS messages and the fact his DNA was found on the victim.

That court initially sentenced him to one year and ten months in jail, followed by expulsion from Sweden and a ban on returning for the next ten years.

Perpetrators of serious crimes can be expelled from Sweden as part of their punishment if they do not hold Swedish citizenship. If the perpetrator has been resident in Sweden for at least five years, though, Swedish law dictates the court must find that there are "extraordinary reasons" for ordering a deportation.

A Supreme Court spokeswoman explained the reasoning:

Lina Zettergren, a Judge Referee at the Supreme Court with responsibility for preparing the cases and presenting proposals for decisions, told The Local.

"But consideration should also be taken to the foreigner's ties to Swedish society. In the judgment, consideration should be taken to factors such as living conditions, for example if the person has a property, is socially integrated, has learned Swedish, and so on, if the person has children and is in contact with them, if there are other family members, and the length of time the person has spent in Sweden," Zettergren said.

"The idea behind the requirement of 'extraordinary reasons' [if the perpetrator has been in Sweden for over five years] is that there should be a point where a foreigner has the right to feel secure in Sweden. It's a complete judgment where all factors are weighed up, and which factors are decisive depends on the circumstances in the individual case. If the foreigner has a strong tie to Sweden, typically a more serious crime is required for deportation to occur."

Put that one in your pipe and smoke it. It has to be a “more serious crime” to merit deportation. Apparently, in “woke” Sweden rape is not a very serious crime. A migrant raping a Swedish woman is not a very serious crime. After all, it merits a mere twenty-two months in prison.

So, there you have it, the properly feminist attitude toward rape. It is not a very serious crime. Those who perpetrate it should receive limited jail time and should not be deported to Ilhan Omar’s home country.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

She Is Bottling Up Her Emotions; or Is She?

It’s difficult to imagine that New York Magazine columnist, Ask Polly, can get any more stupid, but here she is, this week, outdoing herself. She is advising a woman who is clearly in pain. What is Polly’s advice: become an emotional basket case. Don’t just be an emotional basket case: show the world that you are totally unhinged. Rant, rave, yell, scream, abuse, confront… tell everyone what a complete mess you are. Tell them that you can’t hold it together… and lo and behold, Polly suggests you will free yourself from repression and walk bravely into the light of day. In truth, this road leads straight into a ditch.

In short, Polly reaches down into the depths of her ignorance and decides that the woman in question is suffering because she is bottling up her emotions. The letter writer seems to have alienated just about everyone around her… from which we can easily conclude that she has let them all know how miserable and dysfunctional she is. Thus, they have walked away from her, not because she is charming and functioning, but because she is wearing her emotions on her sleeve. Polly does not see it. As always, that does not deter her.

In truth Polly is advising this woman to have a nervous breakdown. The result will almost surely be commitment to a psychiatric institution, a rehab facility. And some serious medication. Polly does not think about this because Polly does not know how to think.

As for whether I am exaggerating her response, here are some excerpts, without even sharing the letter:

But for you to tell the truth about how angry you are, you’re going to need to accept that you have things to say that fly in the face of your fun, upbeat-seeming, perfectionist former self. That girl is gone. She might reappear in some other form in the future, but if you want to feel your feelings and be an authentic person in the world moving forward, you’re going to have to reckon with just how disappointed you are in the life you’ve created for yourself and the people you’ve pulled close and the successful, charming, exhausting DIY strategies that landed you here. You were raised by withholding ghosts who don’t want to face themselves or address what’s real. You were raised among smaller ghosts who mimicked their parents and wound up with drinking problems (and many other maladies, I’m sure). And now you have a choice. You can become a contemptuous, withholding ghost who never has sex with her husband and never tells her friends or co-workers the whole truth, or become something new: a ragged, ineffectual, melting woman who tells everyone everything.

That’s right: tell everyone everything. Forget about your self-respect. Forget about your dignity. Let it all hang out. In the normal course of human events, this tactic is self-defeating and self-destructive. If  the letter writer is suffering from an absence of human connections, Polly has told her how to have fewer human connections.

Polly continues:

If you’re going to save yourself, you need to start melting out in the open. Right now you are tidying. Stop it. This is no time to seem fine. This is no time to be good. This is no time to play along with our culture of weak substitutes and tenuous connections and fake friendships and imaginary alliances and never-ending, around-the-clock bullshit.

She advises the woman to become “an authentic raging, sobbing mess.” Seriously? How better to get yourself committed than to follow this advice:

This is a moment to be an authentic raging, sobbing mess. This is a moment to say to someone, anyone, “I am falling apart. I need you.” This is a moment to show up, in all of your wretchedness and fear, and ask — no, actually, demand — that your brand-new spouse very quickly learn to show up, too. He will express disappointment, too, of course: My brand-new wife is mean and sad and won’t fuck me. Prepare to hear that. When he begins to peel off the layers of how he feels, the top layers will be gross and you’ll hate him even more. Be patient with that part, knowing that there’s something underneath that you want.

As for the letter itself, I will now offer some excerpts. Because it is uncommonly long and detailed. This does not make it uninteresting, but here are some of its highlights. As it happened, this woman lost her brother, presumably to alcohol, while he was imprisoned and at roughly the same time that she was getting married. Evidently, she was facing a death and a birth at the same time… which confused her.

My husband and I were married five months ago. A lot of my family couldn’t make it to the wedding, most notably my older brother, who reported to county jail on the morning before we walked down the aisle. When I finally did get to see my brother, just after Thanksgiving, it was at his funeral. He died of alcoholism a few days before his birthday. The proximity of these two events — our marriage and the death of my closest sibling — has had the effect of blurring the lines between grief and the “marital adjustment period,” after a year of family drama and mind-numbing, reluctant wedding planning.

Apparently, she is the only functioning member of her family, so everything fell on her shoulders:

My parents are scatterbrained, secular baby-boomers with few family traditions and no aptitude for modern technology, and my other siblings are distant and self-absorbed, so after planning the bulk of our wedding, it was then up to me to plan my brother’s viewing and memorial service, write his obituary, field questions from friends and family, make a photo board, and buy cheese platters at Costco. I had to remind my husband that we needed a cat-sitter while we were both out of state for the funeral. Meanwhile, a friend asked if I could still perform in a show we had booked that weekend, and my father convinced me to scoop out some of my brother’s ashes into an old makeup bottle for his estranged alcoholic girlfriend. I became bitter and hopeless in the face of other people’s incompetence, selfishness, and inability to grasp the weight and significance life events such as marriage or death.

Do you really believe that no one noticed that she was bitter and angry at everyone else’s incompetence? Polly does, but Polly’s mind has been occupied by psychobabble.

The letter writer’s problem is clear: no one has reached out to her. No one has offered to help. The reason might be that she is so overwhelmed by emotion and is showing herself thusly that they are avoiding her:

No one in my family checked in to distract or comfort me, and friends I saw at work couldn’t be convinced to visit me at home where I might be safe to shed a tear on their shoulder without embarrassment. All I wanted was someone who would give me permission to be real with them without having to travel to a church or after-hours support group in the middle of winter, but the thought of asking for these things felt selfish and entitled. The fact that no one would take it upon themselves to extend an unsolicited caring gesture of friendship or familial concern left me simultaneously disillusioned and disgusted with myself for wallowing in self-pity. By conventional standards, one would consider me a popular person — a former model and sometime performer with flattering Google results and a successful career — but now I was a cliché whose entourage turned out to be comprised of vapid, indifferent acquaintances. After a few weeks, I felt confident enough to host a New Year’s Eve party, and that night I had to ask my husband kindly not to finish the fourth drink that he was spilling all over the floor, reminding him how my brother died.

Friends and family knew that if they saw her alone she would implode. Thus, they avoided her. If you care, it all means that she feels sorry for herself. She feels sorry that her brother died and ruined her wedding and her marriage. She feels bad and put upon that she must do everything. The solution is for her to get over herself, certainly not for her to show the world that she is emotionally overwrought.

Since Polly was babbling about how this woman is bottling up her emotions, you can feel confident that the woman did succeed in expressing her feelings. About what, you might ask? Why about her husband’s failure to cook dinner. That’s right, folks. She is also a true believing feminist and she threw a tantrum over her husband's inability to cook dinner. Neither she nor Polly consider that to be a problem in her marriage:

Then I got angry. To be fair, I had been angry the whole time, but for some reason it all came out after I asked my husband if he felt like spearheading dinner some time and he described his disinterest in cooking. In general, my husband is objectively a very kind and sentimental person, but I know now that he is not thoughtful and probably never will be. I let out a wail and sobbed something about how no one does anything just to be nice anymore, and then lectured him about how spouses who don’t like to cook subconsciously just want a maternal caregiver to take for granted for the rest of their lives. I recalled the last time I blew up at him, just after the wedding. I had asked him why he didn’t help me plan anything; why he took more time and spent more money for his bachelor party than he did for our honeymoon, and why he didn’t try harder to spend time with me on our wedding day. He gave me a sullen hug.

Yes, indeed. She needs her husband to support her, so she pushes him away. Brilliant strategy.

I will spare you the rest. Clearly, the woman has a problem. Just as clearly, Polly has offered just the wrong advice. The letter writer should get over herself, should stop indulging her negative emotions, should stop letting everyone know how miserable she is, and should start making kind gestures of her own. When you sit around looking sullen, angry and depressed, people will avoid you. When you ask them to spend time with you, they will demur. The solution is to start making kind gestures toward them. And to ignore everything Polly said.

Did Russia Steal the Presidential Election?

The point is so obvious that I’m sure it’s been made before. I might even have said something about it myself, though I cannot recall.

The issue is this: amid the hue and cry about Russian election meddling, how may people have asked exactly what it is that the Russians were supposed to have done. And whether that constitutes real meddling. Two days ago White House advisor and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner declared that the Mueller investigation and the media screeching about collusion had done more to delegitimize the election than a few Russian Facebook ads.

The point is too obvious to bear repeating. Since it came from Kushner it was widely denounced by the collusion-obsessed media.

Be that as it may, Dartmouth professor Crispin Sartwell throws some light into our national darkness. He asks precisely what it means to make an election illegitimate. You would have thought that the great minds of the mainstream media would have taken a step back from their unprocessed rage … to ask this question. That they did not speaks volumes about their intellectual dishonesty.

Sartwell explains what it means to rig an election:

It’s worth pondering what really would throw an election’s legitimacy into question. Directly compromising the vote by hacking voting machines or disposing of absentee ballots does the job—the latter triggered the invalidation of a North Carolina House race last year. So does jailing opponents, banning political parties, or threatening or bribing voters.

I am confident that I did mention, at one time or another, that the 1960 presidential election in Illinois was probably rigged by members of organized crime and local labor unions… at the behest of Joseph Kennedy, father of the candidate. At the time Richard Nixon could have called for an investigation, but chose not to do so. Today’s Democratic Party, consumed with McCarthyite rage, has no such compunctions. They are much more interested in claiming that Donald Trump was a Russian agent. Isn’t this just a return of McCarthism? When you make Richard Nixon look like a moral beacon, you have some serious problems.

Sartwell then tells us what does not constitute rigging an election:

But a social-media campaign, even coordinated by a foreign government, does not. Divisive, misleading or bizarre stuff was coming from every direction at once in 2016. Of the allegedly Russian-generated material, I myself retweeted the “Satan: If I win, Clinton wins” meme because I found it hilarious. It’s true I didn’t vote for Mrs. Clinton (I wrote in Vietnam Veterans Memorial designer Maya Lin), but I don’t blame the Russians for that.

You will notice that the mini-minds of the American left cannot imagine that they failed to persuade enough people to think as they think. The issue is mind control. The left craves it. What with the Obama administration it thought that it had achieved it.

If you prefer some context, consider the episode within the context of the story of the Emperor’s new clothes. The problem arises when a little boy screams out that the emperor and his local subjects have been duped into thinking that the emperor is decked out in the finest of imperial finery. In the fictional world inhabited by the American left, the little boy must be shut up and shut down. Thus, they are unfazed by the fact that the Russians spent so little money. A mere whisper sufficed to destroy the illusion they had created. 

Which illusion was that? Why the illusion that Hillary Clinton was a highly qualified presidential candidate. In truth, Hillary Clinton was an incompetent fraud, a woman who owed her erratic and failed career to her husband… and to nothing else. This means, to put a finer point on it, that when Obama said that HRC was the most qualified candidate in American history, he was joking. It was irony, stupid. Her post-election behavior is a constant reminder of why she lost. She lost because she is a loser decked out in raiments that bespeak winning. 

The other illusion was that Barack Obama was a great president, who had saved the nation from the Bushes, who had restored American standing in the world, who had rid the world of bigotry, who had saved the economy and whose derelictions in selling out Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq were for nothing considering how charming he was. And let’s not forget that Obama saved the planet with the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran Nuclear Deal. Anyone who says otherwise, who sees through the cant, must be shut down.

Anyway, Sartwell asks about the rust belt voters who were apparently targeted by the Russian propaganda machine. How much were they really subject to nefarious influence? And besides, weren’t they capable of questioning the information that was being thrown at them, and not just by the Russians:

Likewise, that Wisconsin and Michigan voters were targeted by Russian propaganda or nefarious Instagram accounts does not mean their votes were invalid. The same internet that shipped Russian misinformation makes it easy to double-check its veracity through independent sources. If citizens are too busy or lazy to do that, they still have the right to vote. The hacking and publication of John Podesta’s emails was criminal and should be prosecuted—but even that does nothing to throw the election’s legitimacy into question. It was emails, not votes, that were stolen.

The founders of the American Republic had confidence in the intelligence of the American people. To which we feel obliged to add that, at the moment the founders wrote the Constitution, they only allowed a very small percentage of the people to vote. Now that suffrage is universal, could it be that the less educated products of America’s defective educational system cannot tell the difference between news and propaganda?

America’s Founders rested the legitimacy of government on the will of the people, mediated through institutions such as the Senate and the Electoral College. They knew voters could be ignorant, gullible or manipulated by demagogues. To mitigate those concerns, they recommended education and free expression, so that false or dangerous claims could be exposed or refuted. They did not prohibit foreigners access to the American press. Soon enough, they were dealing with propagandists and would-be dictators, foreign and domestic, such as Aaron Burr and Napoleon. But whatever the drawbacks of the electorate and of a free press, they reposed their trust in the people to come to their own conclusions.

Is it all, as Sen. McCarthy would have said, the fault of Russian influence and interference. Sartwell dismisses the claim:

If we were able to quantify the effect of the Russian social media campaign, I suspect we’d find it to be infinitesimal. But even if it wasn’t, the election was free and fair.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Jordan Peterson vs. Slavoj Zizek: Clash of the Midgets

It was billed as the clash of the titans. It ended up being a bland discussion between overhyped intellectual midgets. People were paying absurd prices for tickets to the show down—not at the OK Corral—between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Zizek. The Canadian Jungian psychologist was going to face off against the Slovenian philosopher clown. Why anyone thought that anything was going to come of it, I have no idea.

At the least, it received very little press attention. When push came to shove nothing really happened. Nothing was said of very much interest. The two men are symptoms of the general degradation of our educational system. They are, as Stephen Marche writes in the Guardian, defined by their enemies. Peterson has courageously confronted the police state scolds of political correctness. Zizek, radical leftist to his roots, has been taken to task for not supporting identity politics and political correctness.

Marche explains:

Peterson has risen to fame on the basis of his refusal to pay the usual fealtiesto political correctness. The size and scope of his fame registers more or less exactly the loathing for identity politics in the general populace, because it certainly isn’t on the quality of his books that his reputation resides. Žižek is also defined, and has been for years, by his contempt for postmodern theory and, by extension, the more academic dimensions of political correctness.

And they are both redolent of psychoanalytic theories, the kind that have basically gone out of style and favor. Peterson is a self-proclaimed Jungian, thus, a supporter of a man who was an anti-Semite and Nazi sympathizer, someone who happily promoted pagan idolatry. Peterson pretends to derive his theorization from Judeo-Christianity, but you cannot be a good Jungian and accept Biblical teaching. It is self-contradictory and embarrassing. 

In truth, Jung has been such an embarrassment that his work has found its way into the dustbin of history. The only living Jungian today is Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. That should tell you all you need to know about Jung.

If you are curious to read an effective takedown of Peterson, check on the essay by Nathan Robinson. True enough, Robinson is a man of the left, but his critique gains value from the fact that he quotes extensively from Peterson himself. It’s one thing for Robinson to dismiss Peterson’s ramblings as gibberish. It’s quite another to quote extended passages of Petersonian gibberish. Anyone who thinks that this is great thinking does not know how to think.

Zizek derives his theorization from famed French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Given that I was once a disciple of the great French obfuscator, I feel qualified to tell you that Zizek is bitterly clinging to a great deal of double talk and mumbo jumbo. Not because Lacan was always wrong—far from it—but his legacy has been largely superseded, except perhaps in France and South America, where anyone who rejects Anglo culture is a hero. In any event I wrote about Zizek and about Lacan in my book The Last Psychoanalyst.

As for the substance of the debate, Marche was largely disappointed. Neither man seemed very well prepared and neither had very much to say about the topic: Marxism, capitalism and happiness.

He summarizes Peterson’s opening statement:

Peterson’s opening remarks were disappointing even for his fans in the audience. They were a vague and not particularly informed (by his own admission) reading of The Communist Manifesto. His comments on one of the greatest feats of human rhetoric were full of expressions like “You have to give the devil his due” and “This is a weird one” and “Almost all ideas are wrong”.

I’ve been a professor, so I know what it’s like to wake up with a class scheduled and no lecture prepared. It felt like that. He wandered between the Paleolithic period and small business management, appearing to know as little about the former as the latter. Watching him, I was amazed that anyone had ever taken him seriously enough to hate him.

He said things like “Marx thought the proletariat was good and the bourgeoisie was evil”. At one point, he made a claim that human hierarchies are not determined by power because that would be too unstable a system, and a few in the crowd tittered. That snapped him back into his skill set: self-defense. “The people who laugh might do it that way,” he replied. By the end of his half-hour he had not mentioned the word happiness once.

In short, Peterson had nothing to say. As I say, it was disappointing. As for Zizek, a fully fledged man of the radical left, Marche was no more charitable:

Žižek didn’t really address the matter at hand, either, preferring to relish his enmities. “Most of the attacks on me are from left-liberals,” he began, hoping that “they would be turning in their graves even if they were still alive”. His remarks were just as rambling as Peterson’s, veering from Trump and Sanders to Dostoevsky to the refugee crisis to the aesthetics of Nazism. If Peterson was an ill-prepared prof, Žižek was a columnist stitching together a bunch of 1,000-worders. He too finished his remarks with a critique of political correctness, which he described as the world of impotence that masks pure defeat.

The great surprise of this debate turned out to be how much in common the old-school Marxist and the Canadian identity politics refusenik had.

One hated communism. The other hated communism but thought that capitalism possessed inherent contradictions. The first one agreed that capitalism possessed inherent contradictions. And that was basically it. They both wanted the same thing: capitalism with regulation, which is what every sane person wants. The Peterson-Žižek encounter was the ultra-rare case of a debate in 2019 that was perhaps too civil.

Marche continues:

“We will probably slide towards apocalypse,” he said. And Peterson agreed with him: “It is not obvious to me that we can solve the problems that confront us.” They are both self-described “radical pessimists”, about people and the world. It made me wonder about the rage consuming all public discussion at the moment: are we screaming at each other because we disagree or because we do agree and we can’t imagine a solution?

Both of these men know that they are explicitly throwbacks. They do not have an answer to the real problems that face us: the environment and the rise of China as a successful capitalist state without democracy. (China’s success makes a joke out of the whole premise of the debate: the old-fashioned distinction between communism and capitalism.) Neither can face the reality or the future. Therefore they retreat.

Quite frankly, at the risk of triggering masses of people, I find this remark to be cogent and useful. It’s not so much that the two disagree. The more salient point is that they see no solutions to the current dissolution of the Western world. Forget about the mewling over the environment, Marche makes clear that the problem lies in how best to respond to the only real threat to democracy: Chinese-style authoritarian capitalism. It does not make sense. It is not our way. And yet, it seems to be the wave of the future.

If you want to know what was said, substantively, the only live blog of the event was offered by Nathan Robinson. Like Marche he is anything but enamored of the two combatants. He opens his live blog with this expression of personal feeling:

You may have your own personal idea of Hell. Mine is an eternity trapped in a room with Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Žižek. I do not like these men. I consider Peterson a toxic charlatan and Žižek a humiliating embarrassment to the left. I believe they both show how far you can get in public life without having anything of value to say, if you’re a white man with a PhD who speaks confidently and incomprehensibly. In fact, this is not really a debate at all, because these men are nearly identical as far as I am concerned. I sincerely believe that history will look back on this moment as a dark human low point. 

You might not like anything that Robinson says, but he is very smart and very clever. He is a graduate student, and a man of the left, which means that he spends far too much time trying to figure out why Communism failed, but still, he is worth taking seriously.

Is Charlize Theron Mother of the Year?

Just in case you missed the story, famed actress Charlize Theron is bringing her son up as though he were a girl. Why so? Well, the boy, when he was aged three, announced that he was a girl, not a boy. And after all, we all respect the absolute truths uttered by three year olds. The child is apparently now seven years old.

Lucianne links to the story (via Maggie’s Farm):

Actress Charlize Theron has been raising her biologically-male son as a girl even since the child told her he wasn’t a boy when he was three years old.

That’s all it took for Theron to start raising her son Jackson, now seven, as a girl, the actress told The Daily Mail:

'Yes, I thought she was a boy, too,' Charlize agrees, briskly. 'Until she looked at me when she was three years old and said: 'I am not a boy!'

'So there you go!'”

Theron clothes young Jackson in dresses because “Who they (children) want to be, is not for me to decide.

I am not reporting on this story to show, yet again, that Hollywood celebrities are functional idiots. I am not suggesting, though I am sorely tempted, to recommend that the child be removed from an abusive home and put into foster care. I am not even recommending that Theron be indicted for child abuse. 

Not for today, I am not. I am reporting the story because Theron recently complained that she is having trouble getting dates.

In her words:

I've been single for 10 years, it's not a long shot. Somebody just needs to grow a pair and step up. I'm shockingly available.

Considering that Theron is shockingly attractive and even famous, it is somewhat surprising that so many men have shown such good judgment. Considering the propensities and proclivities of some men—why we even have a fetishist, a hair sniffer, as a leading candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination—it is shocking that so many men have had enough good sense to avoid getting involved with Charlize Theron.

Just when you were losing faith in men....