Cultural Marxists are the Real Capitalists: A Critical Critique of Critical Criminology

Critical Criminology claims that:

  1. The legal system was created by and for the ruling class (cishetero white males) in order to keep the rich rich and the poor and oppressed poor and oppressed.
  2. To this end, crimes the poor commit (such as burglary) are heavily penalized, while crimes the rich commit (such as racism or insider trading) are not.
  3. Many of the “crimes” of the oppressed (like rape, assault, mugging, and mass rioting) shouldn’t be considered crimes at all, but are just desperate attempts at survival
  4. The “real crimes” are things like racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., which create the oppressive capitalist society that creates common street crime
  5. When racism sexism, homophobia, etc. are outlawed, then we can create the perfect socialist state which will have no crime.

Creationism is more factually solid than Critical Criminology, but Critical Criminology is taught in real universities alongside real theories about how the world works.

But let’s step back a moment. #1 is at least partially true–the rich do have a disproportionate influence on the legal system and the poor are often at its mercy. Corporations and wealthy individuals do use their money and influence to get legislation written and enforced in ways that benefit themselves.

But which crimes, exactly, are the rich interested in prosecuting? Do they care if a drug addict steals wallets down in the ghetto? They don’t live in the ghetto. They use their money to insulate themselves from violent crime by buying houses in nice, gated neighborhoods with private security forces.

It’s the poor who are the primary victims of crime, and it’s the poor who’d like murderers to be arrested. Only someone who is rich enough not to live with the threat of violent crime could possibly say something as stupendously idiotic and  insensitive as “rape and assault aren’t real crimes.”

If critical criminologists are the wealthy, then wouldn’t they, logically, be trying to reshape the legal system to benefit themselves?

Meanwhile, they accuse the wealthy of  racism, sexism, homophobia, etc., but these attitudes are actually associated with the poor. Rich whites absolutely pride themselves on being open-minded, tolerant, anti-racist, feminist, etc, and are horrified at all of the racist, sexist, Islamophobic bigotry embodied in low-class Trump voters.

So the crimes these wealthy critical theorists are trying to get outlawed are not things that the rich are doing, but things the rich want the poor to stop doing.

Here I could cite a dozen examples, from Hate Speech laws in Britain being more strongly enforced than rape laws to Hillary Clinton’s “Would bringing down the banks end racism?” speech to Piers Morgan complaining about Islamophobia.

Why are the capitalists so intent on smashing bigotry in all its forms?

Simple: Capitalism wants to make money. Capitalism doesn’t care about oppressing brown people, or women, or gays, or Muslims, or foreigners, or anyone. Capitalism just wants the best possible ratio of worker quality : worker cost. If Mexicans can do the same job as Americans for half the cost, then capitalists want to hire Mexicans and they want Americans to stop trying to pass laws limiting the number of Mexican immigrants who can come work for the capitalists. If Europe is facing a labor crisis because Europeans haven’t made enough new workers to fill the factories and finance the welfare state, then European capitalists must import new workers and they want European workers to stop complaining about the terrorist attacks. Capitalism just wants to hire “the best person for the job” or at least the cheapest person who’ll do an adequate job.

The only odd part is that capitalists are wrapping themselves in the Communist flag while imprisoning people for objecting to the importation of cheap, union-breaking labor. We could accuse them of lying–or gaslighting–except many of them seem to really believe it. Perhaps socialism provides the necessary tool for lying to themselves. “Oh, I am not actually screwing over the poor by advocating on behalf of my own profits.” Most people don’t like to think of themselves as nasty, evil, and self-serving, but they will often project those qualities onto others. (“I’m a nice person, it’s everyone else who’s backstabbing cheaters!”) By casting their enemies (middle and working class white males who don’t want to lose economic security)’s concerns onto the cartoonish figure of the evil capitalist, they simultaneously dismiss those concerns and recast themselves as heroic defenders of the “oppressed.”

Wikipedia has an interesting theory on self-deception:

Some evolutionary biologists, such as Robert Trivers, have suggested[6][page needed] that deception plays a significant part in human behavior, and in animal behavior, more generally speaking. One deceives oneself to trust something that is not true as to better convince others of that truth. When a person convinces himself of this untrue thing, they better mask the signs of deception.[7]

This notion is based on the following logic: deception is a fundamental aspect of communication in nature, both between and within species. It has evolved so that one can have an advantage over another. From alarm calls to mimicry, animals use deception to further their survival. Those who are better able to perceive deception are more likely to survive. As a result, self-deception evolved to better mask deception from those who perceive it well, as Trivers puts it: “Hiding the truth from yourself to hide it more deeply from others.” In humans, awareness of the fact that one is acting deceptively often leads to tell-tale signs of deception, such as nostrils flaring, clammy skin, quality and tone of voice, eye movement, or excessive blinking. Therefore, if self-deception enables someone to believe her or his own distortions, they will not present such signs of deception and will therefore appear to be telling the truth.

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Women in Science–the Bad Old Days

Once we were driving down the highway when my husband said, “Hey, a Federal Reserve Note just flew across the road.”

Me: I think you have been reading too many finance blogs.

 

Oh look, Silver Certificates:

800px-US-$5-SC-1896-Fr.270 Hey, did you know we still have two dollar bills? 800px-US-$1-SC-1896-Fr-224-(3923429)

 

These bills, from the so-called “Education Series,” were printed in 1896 and feature, rather prominently, women. The $1 bill has Martha (and George) Washington. The other bills feature women as allegories of science, history, electricity, commerce, manufacturing, and you know, I can’t really tell if the steam and electricity children are supposed to be male or female.

If someone wants to put women on money, I totally support bringing back these bills, because they’re gorgeous.

There’s a certain sadness in looking at these and thinking, “Gosh, maybe people in the 1800s really were smarter than us.” Today, the five dollar bill would offend too many people (it has a breast on it!) and couldn’t get printed. We’ve become Philistines.

There’s also a sense of, “Wait, are you sure this the bad old days of women’s oppression, when people thought women were dumb and couldn’t handle higher education and shit?” Why would people who think women are dumb use women to illustrate the very concept of “science”?

Here’s a painting of MIT’s Alma Mater (Latin for “Nourishing Mother,”) finished in 1923:

e2b6e964ec0c2ea35ee1cba8f4edc95a

(Sorry it’s a crappy photo. I couldn’t find any good photos.)

“Alma Mater,” of course, is used synonymously with “university.” That is, the university itself (all universities,) is female. From the description:

“The central panel is rigidly symmetrical, with the centrally enthroned Alma Mater approached by two groups of acolytes extending laurel wreaths. The composition deliberately recalls the tradition in Christian art of the ascending Madonna attended by saints and apostles. Alma Mater is surrounded by personifications of learning through the printed page, learning through experiment, and learning through the various branches of knowledge. They hover above the Charles River Basin, with a spectral hint of the MIT buildings in the background.”

Here’s a detail:

Blashfield-popup

Unfortunately, I haven’t found good photos of the side paintings, but they sound dramatic:

“The two side panels … bring the elevated scene down to earth with trees that appear to grow straight up from the floor. Unexplained spectral figures glide through this grove. … The right panel, which has been identified as Humanity Led by Knowledge and Invention depicts a mother and children of varying ages progressing from Chaos to Light, accompanied by cherubs bearing the scales of Justice. On the left, the most dark and dramatic mural squarely faces the ethical challenge that has confronted science from the outset. The Latin inscription (from Genesis) in the roundel spells out: “Ye Shall Be Us Gods Knowing Good and Evil.” The lab-coated scientist is crowned by a figure said to be Hygenia (goddess of Health). He stands between two giant jars containing beneficent and malevolent gasses, symbolizing the constructive and destructive possibilities unleashed with every new discovery. With the horrors of the First World War still fresh, soldiers and diplomats gather at the Council table of the World. Dogs of war lurk near evil gasses, while Famine threatens the background. The strangely out-of-scale, dark colossal head within the shadow of the Tree of Knowledge is said to represent Nature; her relation to the rest of the drama is (perhaps deliberately) unclear.”

If you squint, you might be able to make them out:

morss_center_large

Before art went to shit, the world was full of lovely paintings of things like “Liberty leading the People” or “The Arts and Sciences,” using allegorical human forms that relied upon people’s understanding and knowledge of ancient Greek mythology–not so ancient when people were actually reading it. I suspect there are so few good photos of this painting because people forget, when surrounded by splendor, that splendor is no longer normal.

This habit of using women as allegorical figures to represent science and learning goes back hundreds, if not thousands of years:

These guys thought women were dumb?
12th century illustration of the Seven Liberal Arts: Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music Theory, and Astronomy

The “Liberal Arts” did not originally refer to silly university classes, but to the knowledge thought essential to the education of all free (liber) people, in order to participate properly in civic life. These essential studies were Grammar, Logic, Rhetoric, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music Theory, and Astronomy (one may assume that the functional ability to read is considered a basic prerequisite for learning, not an endpoint in itself as it is in our modern system.) These studies all culminate in their purist expression in Philosophy, the very love of wisdom.

Notice that all of these allegorical figures are women. Did the depiction of women as the purist ideal of mathematical knowledge make male students doubt their own self-worth and drive them away from serious study?

Then why do people think the inverse?

The trend can be traced back further:

Botticelli, Primavera
Botticelli, Primavera

Boticelli depicts the Spring accompanied by the Greek Graces.

Raphael's Parnassus
Raphael’s Parnassus

The Greek Muses were goddesses of inspiration for literature, science, and the arts. Different people list them differently, (I doubt there was ever any widespread agreement on exactly what the muses represented,) but the lists generally look like, “epic poetry, history, music, poetry, tragedy, hymns, dance, comedy, and astronomy,” or “music, science, geography, mathematics, philosophy, art, drama, and inspiration.”

1280px-Muses_sarcophagus_Louvre_MR880

And who can forget Athena herself, goddess of wisdom and warfare?

280px-Athena_aigis_Cdm_Paris_254

220px-Mattei_Athena_Louvre_Ma530_n2

310px-NAMABG-Aphaia_Athena_statue

(Take your artistic pick.)

Who needs Nobel Prize Winners, anyway?

You may have noticed that I like science. I also like scientists–heck, let’s expand this to most of STEM. Good folks.

Scientists tend to be quiet, unassuming folks who get on with the business of making the world a better place by curing cancer, inventing airplanes, and developing the germ theory of disease.

I don’t like it when political ideas try to dictate science. It was bad enough when the Soviet Union tried it (and Maoist China, remember that exciting time when Mao declared that the concept of diminishing returns was bourgeois capitalist lies and that just planting more seeds in your fields would result in more crops, and then millions of people died? Fun times!)

Sometimes scientists say or think unpopular things, like that humans evolved from apes or that some human populations have lower IQs than others. Or that women cry easily or that Global Warming is real.

The mature reaction to someone saying something you find offensive is to make a logical counter-argument. (Or, you know, ignore them.) Indeed, as I’ve said before, one of the beauties of science is that the whole point of it is to disprove incorrect ideas. If there’s an idea floating around in science that you don’t like, well, disprove it with science!

If you can’t, then maybe you’re the one who’s wrong.

Republicans have traditionally been the anti-science side. 49% don’t believe in evolution, versus 37% do. Throwing Democrats and independents into the equation doesn’t help much–overall, 42% of Americans don’t believe in evolution, versus 50% who believe in some form of evolution, (including god-directed evolution):

At least evolution is getting a tiny bit more popular
From Gallup

Unfortunately, a lot of those people who claim to believe in evolution don’t.

For example, according to Gallop, 2005, the majority of Americans–68%–believe that men and women are equally good at math and science. Only 10% believe that men have an innate advantage in math and science, and 8% believe that women are superior.

Do you know how depressing this is? I mean, for starters, the question itself is badly worded. Men and women are about equal on average, but men are disproportionately represented at the high end of mathematical ability and at the low end. As I noted yesterday, this is a natural side effect of Y chromosome variation. But for the purposes of doing math and science as a career, which takes rather more than average talent, men do have an innate advantage.

But instead of getting intelligent discussions about these sorts of things, we get people shouting insults and trying to ruin each other’s careers.

This popped up on FB today:

*winces*
Does this count as a microaggression?

“Sexist,” of course, is an insult, akin to saying that you hate women or believe that they are inherently inferior. So according to these people, anyone who thinks that, IDK, men are more aggressive on average because their brains produce more testosterone is a bad person. Never mind that science supports this notion pretty soundly.

(BTW, it’s pretty hard to argue that society’s anti-woman views are nefariously keeping women out of STEM when the majority of people think men and women are equally talented. For that matter, if there’s any group of people that I’ve found to be extremely accepting of and decent toward women, it’s the folks in STEM. Seriously, these guys are super awesome.)

So you may remember that whole kerfluffle in which Tim Hunt–some nobody who’s contributed nothing of worth to humanity except maybe Nobel Prize-winning work in Medicine/Physiology, small stuff on the scale of human achievement–made some comments about women in science and the entire world spent about 5 minutes losing their collective shit and then a lot of pictures of female scientists got posted on the internet. (Actually, the pictures are kind of nice.)

Oh, and Tim was forced to resign from some honorary professorship.

“The days that followed saw him unceremoniously hounded out of honorary positions at University College London (UCL), the Royal Society and the European Research Council (ERC).

“Under siege at his Hertfordshire home, he sank into despair.

“‘Tim sat on the sofa and started crying. Then I started crying,’ his wife, Professor Mary Collins (herself a prominent scientist) later recalled. ‘We just held on to each other.’”

When it came to light that Tim Hunt may have just been trying to make a joke–a bad one–the provost at his erstwhile University indicated that, (in The Guardian’s words) “Professor Hunt would not be reinstated, it was impossible for an institution to tolerate someone to whom they had awarded an honorary post, even a 71-year-old Nobel prize winner, expressing views even in jest that so comprehensively undermined its own reputation as a leading supporter of female scientists.”

I am just thrilled, oh so thrilled, that university science departments now see their primary purpose as public works programs for women, rather than, IDK, the pursuit of actual fucking science.

Do you know what happens to your science department when you stop focusing on science and turn it into a pity-festival for women? You end up with a bunch of women who can’t hack it in science. Accept men and women on their merits, and you end up with quality scientists. Accept people based on their qualities other than merit, and you end up with hacks.

BTW, I’m female.

You might think Hunt’s comments were totally silly (in which case, go ahead and ignore them,) but I’ve known couples that started in labs. I don’t think it’s any big secret that people sometimes fall in love with co-workers. Is this a problem? I don’t know. Do women cry more than men? Anecdotal experience says yes.

The intelligent response to Hunt’s comments (if you want to do anything at all,) would have been to document whether or not women cry at a higher rate than men when you criticize their lab work and whether lab romances are a problem–and if gender segregated labs would actually work any better, or end up with their own issues. The unintelligent response is to make a big deal out of how offended you are and try to get someone fired.

So what does Connie St Louis, the female scientist journalist who’s actually not a scientist (The Daily Mail claims that St Louis made up/faked a large chunk of her CV, if you believe anything the Daily Mail prints,) and so probably has less experience running a lab than Hunt does, but never mind, we’re all experts now, have to say about starting the whole firestorm that made Hunt lose his probably not very important honorary position?

“The likes of Richard Dawkins and Brian Cox should focus on taking up the real issue of sexism in science. It is absurd to say that scientists can do and say what they like in the name of academic freedom.”

Let’s read that again. “It is absurd to say that scientists can do and say what they like in the name of academic freedom.

What else does St Louis have to say?

“…eight Nobel laureates, plus the ubiquitous Richard Dawkins, have come out in support of Hunt. There are over 2,000 signatures on an online petition to reinstate him to his honorary post at UCL. Contrast this with 200+ signatures on a petition that I started calling on the Royal Society to elect its first female president. The Nobel eight made an idiotic attempt to equate the upset caused by Hunt’s ill advised and sexist comments with some kind of “chilling effect” on academics.”

Of course it has a chilling effect. No one wants to get fired. How does a journalist even presume to claim to know what does and doesn’t have a chilling effect on someone else’s profession, when rather respected people in that profession are claiming that chilling effects exist?

Hell, there’s a reason this blog is anonymous, and it’s people like Connie St Louis. But she continues:

“This is an absurd idea and deserves to be outed for what it is, a deeply cynical attempt to say that scientists can do and say what they like. In the name of academic freedom? Is science so special that any old sexist (or for that matter racist) words that they utter are allowed? The answer is and must be a resounding no.”

Free inquiry is dead.

Remember whom to thank when we all die of cancer plague.