Philosophy Survival 101
Is a philosopher chasing you with an axe?
Here is how to stop them.
1) Shout “Is Judith Butler a philosopher or a social critic?” at the top of your lungs.
The philosopher will be drawn into a catastrophic loop of liberal guilt (“But what if I’m just including her because she’s fashionable? But what if I’m just excluding her because she works in feminist theory?”) and will stop at the nearest coffee shop to contemplate the matter at appropriate length.
To expedite this process, you may wish to throw them a tweed jacket with elbow patches, and a matching pair of corduroys.
CAUTION: this method will not work on Kantians. (“That distinction is nothing more than a VAPID WORD GAME!”)
This method will also not work on objectivists, but objectivists are full of shit anyhow.
Anonymously ask me 3 things you’d like to anonymously ask me, anonymously. Askingly.
Accelerators, Inc. was a small high-tech company in Austin, Texas. It was founded in the 1970s, and manufactured advanced laboratory equipment until it went bankrupt in the mid-80s.
This is its fanpage, established and maintained by former employees.
Nearly 40 years after many of these people actually worked for this organization, they still have reunions, they still make funny t-shirts, they still maintain blogs and contact lists, and they still remain in contact with one another.
This relatively unimportant, relatively small, only-moderately-successful company nevertheless established such strong loyalty and identity that literally dozens of people still identify with it, with its products, and with the people involved in their manufacture, decades later.
And that’s pretty interesting, right?
But this all raises a very interesting question.
Can you see our generation doing this?
Unless we end up working for large, bureaucratic organizations (civil service, univerities, etc.) or start our own companies, I don’t think any of us have any illusions about staying with the same company for very long. 3 years sounds good, 5 years max, and then we’ll move on, either by choice or by force.
One-year contracts (hell, six-month contracts!) are the norm. Periods of unemployment are to be expected and planned for, as are temp work, piecework, and outsourced work.
You don’t build loyalty to an organization over a six-month contract.
You don’t make friends when you work as a temp.
You don’t identify with your employer when you work as a home-based data-entry clerk.
And even for those of us who get into those large bureaucratic organizations, working conditions are often so lousy that employees grow to resent, rather than adopt the identities of, their employers.
Yes, I agree: there IS something sad about your employer becoming part of your identity, especially if it’s a part that lingers on decades later.
But this nevertheless represents an interesting social bond: a sort of consciousness and joint awareness which we’ll never have. Our parents and grandparents didn’t go to work in order to make friends, but they nevertheless did. They had good experiences and good times with these people, and even decades later, they still hang out with each other.
We get paid.
That’s all we get.
That’s all we’re allowed to expect.
If we behave ourselves especially well and feign enthusiasm, we might get a coffee mug, too.
And thirty years later, I suppose our savings accounts will attend our reunions.
I need political oriented pick up lines now!
Hey baby, I know I promised just the tip, but how about we move onto a three-fifths compromise?
expectation: capitalism breeds competition which encourages companies to work hard to provide the best possible product / service to the american people!
reality: capitalism breeds greed which encourages companies to make the biggest possible profit at the lowest possible costs, which results in planned obsolescence, exportation of manufacturing jobs, use of exploitative and abusive labor, flouting laws and regulations, complete disregard for human safety / needs / emotions, and an overall shitty and toxic society that forces people to either play the game or die
A fun game to play with out-and-out capitalists: “If labour laws are unnecessary because the market will always auto-correct, since exploitation will generate consumer complaints and force firms to adopt better practices and standards, can you provide a single example of a firm who, through demonstrated commitment and loyalty to its employees, triumphed over race-to-the-bottom competition in a sustainable, long-term, mass-market way?”
See also: the environment.
Even in markets which are supposed to be primarily about quality (e.g: education, music, performing arts, etc.), it’s hard to think of examples. (Harvard? Let me tell you something, smartypants: the University of Phoenix literally enrols 10x more undergrads than Harvard. One business model is clearly triumphing here.)
Disclaimer: this idea belongs entirely to someone else. Sadly, it has been several years since I read the piece in question, and Googling around for “dick werewolves” is mostly just generating excuses to delete my browser history. Therefore, I reproduce it here, in my own words.
The Dick Werewolf is a mythical creature which appears throughout human history.
He looks like an ordinary man.
He talks like an ordinary man.
He even smells like an ordinary man.
But sometimes… sometimes he gets an erection.
AND HE BECOMES INSATIABLE.
He cannot rest, or sleep, or clear his mind until he has had sex. No mortal force can control or contain his urges. No logic or restraint can invade his twisted mind. Lock up your daughters and get out the shotgun, because he’s not going to rest until he either gets laid or dies trying.
Concepts like “consent”, “respect for other people”, “bodily autonomy” and “not sticking his penis inside people who do not want his penis stuck inside them” are completely alien to his lust-filled brain.
But you know what?
He can’t help it.
He’s a Dick Werewolf.
This is what nature made him. A weak, pathetic creature: a creature incapable of rational thought, of caring about the emotions or wishes of other people, of engaging in ordinary, healthy adult relationships.
It’s all he can do. It’s all he can be.
And he can’t help it.
Remember how I said this creature is mythical?
I was half-lying.
I am not a dick werewolf. Most of the men I know are not dick werewolves. (And if I learn that someone of my acquaintance considers himself a dick werewolf, he doesn’t remain in my circle for long.)
But there are people who believe that these things are real: that dick werewolves actually roam the earth. Even worse, these people argue that men who think they aren’t dick werewolves are merely in denial, or are lying about it: that dick werewolfdom is the natural, inescapable state for all men.
And that? That’s pretty fucked up.
So I’m equipping you with this language, and this concept. Go forth and call it out. Go forth and fight it. Go forth and undermine the ludicrous notion that any psychologically-healthy man is, by nature, so utterly in the thrall of his dick that he can’t bring himself to parse ideas like “she doesn’t want to have sex with me”.
This concept is nearly as insulting to men (who it treats as fundamentally weak, pathetic, brainless creatures incapable of having rational thoughts or controlling their urges) as it is dangerous to women. It serves nobody, it enables considerable violence, and it needs to be stopped.
City People Are So Mean
"City people are so rude. They’re always so mean and angry and unfriendly."
One of the most annoying things about my daily commute is when people get to the top of an escalator, and then stop.
They gawp at the ceiling. They unfold a map. They look for directions. They take out their phone. But, in all cases, they stop walking and just stand there.
This is inconvenient—and it’s also legit dangerous. The escalator doesn’t stop moving just because you got off, buddy. The rest of us are coming up behind you, and we can’t stop.
Some of us will move past you wordlessly. Some of us will politely ask you to move. Some of us will be snippy. A small number of us will even deliberately bang into you as we pass in order to emphasize the point and “teach you a lesson”.
And that’s kind of cruel, right?
What this person is doing—stopping at the top of an escalator—is merely inconsiderate. In the context of evil or menacing actions, it’s not that huge of a deal. It’s really a pretty trivial mistake, especially if you aren’t used to big cities. and high-traffic areas, and the etiquette which goes with them. Back home, in Grover’s Corners, they don’t even have escalators!
But… that’s the point.
When there are this many people trying to share space, and share facilities, and share resources, small inconsiderate actions quickly become big problems. And we develop etiquette and ground rules in order to allow us to inhabit this space together with minimal friction.
Let people get off the elevator before you get on.
If you can avoid it, don’t bring a stroller on public transit in rush hour.
You think you’re too special to stand in line with everyone else? (Hint: you aren’t.)
The appropriate time to make change for the bus is while you’re waiting at the stop, not while there are thirty people standing behind you waiting to climb on.
This is our etiquette.
These are the rules that the rest of us live by.
And while they are not without their exceptions, they are nevertheless very, very good rules.
I get it. If you’re here for the first time, you may not know them. You may not understand them.
There’s etiquette back home in Grover’s Corners, too. And when outsiders move to your town, and they violate that local etiquette, you punish them for it. You gossip about them. You click your tongue. You judge them, silently or verbally. And, above all else, you blame them for not knowing how things work.
That’s fair enough!
When you move into a new culture, it’s incumbent upon you to acclimatise yourself: to ensure you understand enough of the local customs and etiquette to participate peacefully in that society.
So why is the city any different?
Because that’s what’s happening when someone pushes past you to get off a subway train while you stand in the doorway: you’ve violated the etiquette. You’re breaking the rules. You’re making life difficult for everyone else around you, and it’s your blissful ignorance of local customs which is at the root of the problem.
It’s not that we’re rude.
It’s that you need to pay more attention, be more considerate, and appreciate the fact that things here work differently than they do back home.
Chavez Was Not A Very Nice Man
For the record, Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela was not paradise. Under his government, political opponents were routinely arrested, voters were pressured (often with physical force) to join his party, TV networks were nationalized and forced to broadcast propaganda, the judiciary was stacked with unqualified and partisan figures, and when independent NGOs (including Amnesty International) issued reports concerning the status of human rights in Venezuela, many of them had their offices closed and their officials expelled from the country.
On several occasions he seized legislative powers for himself (on one occasion he effectively became a one-man government, with no legislative checks or balances whatsoever, for 18 consecutive months), and many NGOs gave the country exceptionally poor marks for freedom of the press, independence of the judiciary, levels of corruption, personal safety of citizens, status of opposition groups, and transparency in government.
But finally, and most importantly, people are very, very willing to give him credit for the economic and social success seen in Venezuela, and that’s misguided. Venezela is not experiencing a resurgence because of enlightened policymaking, Venezuela is experiencing a resurgence because 95% of their exports are in oil. Even Sarah Palin can balance a budget when you’ve got scads and scads of oil money sloshing into the economy.
His economic programme has not been especially successful at developing a domestic economy, nor have exports in anything but oil risen to healthy levels: Chavez’s Venezuela is an oil state, with no other significant exports.
It’s certainly the case that Chavez has been more eager than many to nationalize and keep those oil revenues within Venezuela (rather than allowing foreign companies to come in and pocket the profits), and that may well be an excellent idea from the perspective of a country in the global south.
It’s also the case that Chavez, by adopting this conservative and domestically-oriented oil policy, has funded a whole raft of social programs which have lifted hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty and created a growing middle class, as well as growing prosperity, even for those in the bottom 20%.
But I’d like to point out that it’s possible to have a country which adopts a conservative and domestically-oriented oil policy WITHOUT also shutting down newspapers and jailing political prisoners and shuttering the legislature for upwards of a year at a time. It’s possible to have government-subsidized food stocks and adult-literacy programs WITHOUT arresting judges and journalists who refuse to co-operate. It’s possible to have a constitution which enshrines and entrenches the rights of aboriginal people WITHOUT shitting all over NGOs when they raise concerns about the extent of corruption within your bureaucracy.
None of this is to say that Chavez wasn’t an improvement upon the governments which came before: he unquestionably was. But certain elements of the left are trying very, very hard to turn him into superman: a flawless, perfect leader who is universally-beloved, except for a few angry one-percenter capitalists, and that’s simply not the case.