“our situation is unique”

I generally find radical transparency kind of creepy, but I think Gawker Media opening up its internal discussion about a union effort is useful, so I encourage you to check it out. [edit: useful to me. Maybe not so useful to individual employees who feel intimidated about it, it occurs to me.] The particulars of Gawker Media’s union drive are not my business. But whether or not a workplace like Gawker Media can be unionized is everyone’s business. Especially in an industry like online writing. Because the lives of employees in that industry, if you ask me and others, are about to get markedly worse.

I’ll just say this. Stef Schrader says “our situation is unique.” I don’t blame her really, as that’s a trope in union organizing. Nothing about the situation as described in the comments is unique, most certainly including people claiming that the situation is unique. In fact, all of the complaints I’m seeing from those who oppose the union are absolutely commonplace to organizing efforts, again including the notion that those complaints are unique to that context. In particular, meta-issues of fairness, communication, and transparency as as common to union organizing as you could imagine. So too are the claims that people voting no are themselves deeply committed to unions and organizing in general even as they oppose the current effort in specific. That’s something longtime union organizers hear all the time. None of this means that the complaints are wrong, or that the current union push is a good idea. Like I said, it’s not my business. It also doesn’t mean that people are insincere when they say that they support unions. It just means that frequently a big impediment to a real union is the hypothetical union, the next union, the future union.

I guess the union efforts of the 21st century are going to look a lot like those of the 20th.

the problem with experimentation

I thought that this piece by J.K. Trotter on Tom Hardy’s past partial admission, then sort-of-denial of having sexual encounters with other men was interesting. It simultaneously made me feel a little sad that Hardy (or more likely, his people) would feel the need to be aggressive in defining the story, while also making me understand why they would react that way. After all, people made a really big deal about it, as Trotter notes. It demonstrates that, while gay people have faced and continue to face a unique level of discrimination and threat of bodily harm over their sexual identity, there remains something uniquely controversial about same-sex attraction or sex between people who don’t identify as gay. (Or queer, or similar.)

Two points: one, I think it’s a shame that so many of the pieces that discuss such issues use the terminology of experimentation. It’s natural, I suppose, but it really limits the world of same-sex activity by people who don’t identify as gay. What if a straight-identifying person wants to have sex with someone of their gender without viewing it as an experiment? What if someone wants to avoid self-identification in that way entirely, but is not in any sense experimenting?

Second, the way in which same-sex sexual activity is inherently newsworthy (whether on a large-scale for celebrities or small scale for one’s personal social circle) stems from some progressive attitudes as well as regressive ones. The latter, traditionally, view same-sex sexual activity as sinful, or dirty, or shameful, or otherwise pathological. But though they view same-sex sexual experiences positively, some progressive (I stress: some) mimic one aspect of regressive attitudes — namely, that same-sex attraction or activity are inherently a really big deal. In other words, a lot of good, decent, well-meaning people have replaced the notion that same-sex sexual activity is a terrible shame that is unmentionable and worthy of condemnation with the notion that same-sex sexual activity is a wonderful act of discovering one’s identity that should be celebrated. Obviously, the latter is worlds better than the former. But both treat such acts as existential — as defining the person in one particular way. And self-definition is, well, terrifying, in a lot of ways, and difficult and personal and private. What we should pursue is the right of the individual to determine how big of a deal it is for him or herself — for some to be defined through their sexual identity and some not to be.

Under those conditions, the language of experimentation makes sense; it’s a way to linguistically preempt the notion that one’s identity should be inextricably bound to who one has sex with. It’s useful, in other words, even if it’s somewhat distorting. But I think better alternatives are possible.

don’t lampshade me, bro

In what I truly hope is the nadir of pop fans whining about the mere existence of people who don’t like what they like, Rob Harvilla deploys a tactic I’m seeing more and more of lately: preemptively acknowledging a broader controversy as a way to avoid having to comment on it, when the subject of your piece demands engagement. Harvilla is mad that a single indie rock guy dared to publicly express his  distaste for a popular artist. Because pop hegemony is now so complete, and the social pressure to like pop music so intense, Harvilla has to trot out every cliche and produce some obligatory, exhausted pro-pop shaming. This is, undoubtedly, a part of the great Poptimism vs. Rockism “debate”– a debate as real and evenly matched as the Harlem Globetrotters vs. the Washington Generals– even if Harvilla would prefer not to cast it in those terms.

Rather than confronting that facet of his argument, though, he’d prefer to avoid it. So he lampshades that debate: he nods briefly in its direction as a way to placate criticism for avoiding it, but doesn’t actually do anything to satisfy his need to talk about it. It’s a very neat trick: I don’t have a way to respond to this kind of criticism, or else I just don’t want to have to be bothered to respond to it, so I’m going to throw in a few words that wink at the fact that it exists and carry on my day. I see this all the time from professional opinion writers now, and it’s so, so lazy. “I know that this criticism exists, now let’s move on” is not cutting it, you guys. What’s your response to that criticism?

As for the debate itself, well, I think it’s as tired as Harvilla claims it is– and yet he still finds it necessary to embrace its most tedious cliche, which is the poor lamented downtrodden millionaire pop star. Taylor Swift has millions of dollars; she’s an idol to millions of people;  her records receive not just critical respect but critical acclaim; she is literally broadcast into all of our homes. There are very few laurels our species gives out that we have not already awarded to Taylor Swift. And Bejar goes so far to try and ward off criticism like Harvilla’s. It’s as mild and unassuming as criticism gets. But in today’s world of total pop hegemony, even that’s too much for Harvilla: someone else out there doesn’t like something he likes, so it’s time to take to the battlements and punish the apostate.

This is just true in my own life: when people tell me they don’t like what I like, I  say “It’s not for everyone.” If it’s a friend or someone who I think is on the fence and could find an explanation of what I like helpful, sure, I’ll tell them why I think the stuff I like is good. And I’m not going to change my mind and say “you’re right, it’s bad, only pop is good.” But always, I’m willing to say: it’s not for everyone. Like its inverse, “it’s not for me,” saying “it’s not for everyone” is a way to acknowledge the wonderful diversity of legitimate tastes. That’s what makes art great, difference, difference of opinion and of method and of style and of genre and of goals. When I tell people online that I don’t like Taylor Swift? They tell me that I’m out-of-touch, snobby, elitist — “you like things other than the things I like, so you are a bad person” — or even worse, they tell me that I’m lying, and that I don’t really like the things I say I like — “no one can possibly like things other than the things I like.”

I will never in a million years understand it. Why is the existence of differing opinions about music so immensely threatening to people?

it’s all in there

My discussion with Jay Caspian Kang, about online activism and the future of the left, has drawn to a close. I really want to thank Jay for the invitation and for the spirited pushback. It’s been a great opportunity to flesh out my ideas, and to do so with direct and muscular disagreement, which is always useful as a writer. I also want to say that I think I am ready to move on from this line of criticism. I have one last piece on these issues that I’ve been working on, for some time, for another venue, but it’s more a personal story of my own evolution and much less a critique of current practices. (And honestly I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to get it into a form they’ll  want.) At this point, I’ve made and remade my argument, everyone remotely interested knows how I feel, and I don’t want to pile on or have it become my only shtick. (I have many other shticks I’m more than happy to flog.) So, in the future, I think that this conversation with Jay is a good way to understand what I mean with this line of thinking– if people are, in fact, interested in knowing what I’m thinking, which isn’t always the case.

Ultimately, I have only tried to stress that there is a difference between sharing a vision of a better world with people and agreeing with them about how best to achieve it, and to make a case that today seems like a radical departure: that being good is not a instrument of doing good. I’ve made the case and it will stand or fall as wisdom or folly in time.

Mad Max’s moderate feminism and radical egalitarianism

max furiosa rifle

Spoilers ahoy.

At the end of writer and director George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road¸ a rebooted continuation of his classic post-apocalyptic series, a quote appears: “Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves?” The quote is attributed to “The First History Man,” a nod to the time before the apocalypse in question. The sentiment, then, comes not from the world of Tom Hardy’s Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa, the warrior woman at the center of the film’s plot and themes and the indelible figure of the movie. It comes from our world, from the pre-apocalyptic world, which means it confronts us in our figurative wasteland as thoroughly as it does those characters in their literal one. What do we have to do in a world that, though lush and bountiful in comparison to the starved world of Mad Max, is still filled with injustice?

We might see some of that challenge in the negative response to the film from a particular, particularly troubling perspective. The film has earned, and thoroughly deserves, a reputation as a modern action masterpiece, a hyperkinetic journey that proves the continuing relevance of practical effects and character-driven storytelling. Rapturous reviews have implored audiences to go see the film, in order to reward the faith of Miller and his team in the ability to create a summer spectacle that has heart, vision, and integrity. But dissent has bubbled up from a noxious source: the Men’s Rights Activists, or MRAs. The MRA movement believes that feminism has corrupted contemporary gender relations, relegating men to the status of second class citizens and upsetting a natural order where men are born leaders, warriors, and workers, and where women are better served in roles of domestic nourishment. MRAs have made news lately for loudly decrying the plot of Fury Road, in which Theron’s noble warrior and a cast of powerful women drive the action and make the most noble sacrifices. To MRAs, this constitutes an inherent degradation of the character of Max and through him, of men writ large.

(Some have complained that the MRA rage over the film is largely a media exaggeration, thinly-sourced and replicated endlessly. Maybe so! But, I mean, this guy exists. It’s not a wholesale invention.)

Some of the film’s champions have played into this narrative, with many reviews calling the film an inversion of the traditional action film trope of heroic men rescuing at-risk women. Deadspin’s Will Leitch, for example, writes that “Max himself is oddly passive and unimportant to the plot: It’s the women, particularly Theron’s Furiosa, who drive the action and make all the difference,” standing in contrast to “idiotic men and their overcompensating toys, killing each other and everyone else, just as they’ve done since the beginning of time.” That seems to confirm the MRA’s take on the plot, though hardly their political stance towards it. Certainly, such a movie could be made and made well, a radical tale in which men are revealed as inherently incapable of reform. I’d watch that movie with interest.

But that isn’t the movie Miller made. It’s just inaccurate, for example, to call the men passive characters. Max takes many crucial actions in the film, as does Nicholas Hoult’s renegade “Warboy” Nux. Without either of them, the caravan of heroes would never have survived. Indeed, the film’s screenplay is as comprehensively egalitarian as I can imagine: every single character within the group of protagonists plays some essential role in the conflict. Yes, Furiosa is the linchpin of it all, the one whose courageous decision starts the plot into motion, and the most effective combatant and driver in a world where fighting and driving are everything. And it’s indeed great to see a blockbuster action film that is so unambiguous and direct in its portrayal of heroic, competent women. But it seems to me to be a misreading to say that the many potent women characters in the movie succeed by replacing the men. The hero of Mad Max is really a family of heroes. The movie’s commitment to a truly communal vision of heroism is perhaps its most radical, most affecting stance.

Watch this scene.

God, I love this movie.

Yes, in this scene, a man in a group of women advocates for the eventual course of action. But he’s been brought to that place by the decisions of a woman, acting on behalf of other women. And the decision is not his alone. Multiple women join in the dialogue, and the person they are trying to convince, the closest thing the group has to a leader, is a woman. People make their appeal; they state their point of view. The group comes to a decision. This isn’t some Amazonian warrior woman leading by imperious decree. It is, instead, a story of a family of spontaneous heroes who, in a world begging them to focus only on their own survival, find within themselves the courage to sacrifice for the good of others. Watching the film a second time, I felt a kick of aggravation at the endless “Chosen One” narratives that are heaped on us again and again in modern movies. Max Rockatansky is the opposite of a Chosen One. He is a guy who wants to care only about survival, and yet finds within himself angels enough to put his life in danger in the defense of others. I think of Ratatouille’s claim that a great cook could come from anywhere, and realize that the claim here is the same: heroism emerges from the flux of life in the hearts of those who are brave enough to choose it in the face of adversity.

These themes are explored in a brilliant essay by Maria Bustillos. Bustillos has, in a low-key and patient way, explored the relationship between feminism and reconciliation for years now. See, for example, her review of Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men, in which she writes: “I believe that each of us — all human beings who share the same seemingly limitless abilities, and the same unfathomable doom — should be able to develop his or her potential and live freely and on equal terms in a condition of mutual respect and support.” This statement is remarkable in that it is simultaneously natural and unobjectionable, on its face, and yet in context risky, as Bustillos is pointedly contrasting this with the zero-sum school of feminism that she accuses Rosin of. (Accurately.) In the context of contemporary dialogues, such a stance could be easily misrepresented. Some could take Bustillos’s claim as the equivalent of #AllLivesMatter or similar weaksauce derailing, attempts to neuter passionate political rhetoric with waves to vague universal claims as a replacement for the specific demands of outraged people. That isn’t Bustillo’s project, as I understand it. Her goal seems simple and radical, uncomplicated yet challenging: to find within contemporary culture the blueprints for the better society that we must build in order to survive. And she recognizes that we can only make that world together. “Max leaves her at the end of the movie, still the quiet loner who shows no emotions,” she writes. “But I think he’ll be back.” I hope to god George Miller proves her right.

No, men aren’t sidelined in Mad Max. They aren’t considered irredeemable, either. Redemption is in fact that movie’s strongest theme. Max is plagued by visions of the people he has failed to save in his life, a series of hallucinations that strike him at the worst time and contribute to his stance of proud hopelessness. He is granted at least a small reprieve in the course of a film where he helps many women, even though these women are perfectly capable of helping themselves. Nux, meanwhile, is a character that should be as hard to rehabilitate as possible, an angry young man constantly hopped up on chemicals who endured a lifetime of brainwashing and was raised only to be a killer. Yet he is judged and, ultimately, redeemed. When Furiosa leads her caravan to her old clan, a pack of keen-eyed elder warrior women, they initially distrust the two men traveling with her. But Furiosa makes her case, telling them that the men she travels with have helped her and her friends, that they are worthy. So the wise warrior women accept them into their band.

The moment is crucial: yes, men are capable of being redeemed, even in a world ruined by men. But first they must be evaluated. There has to be a reckoning of their individual characters. After all, redemption requires judgment. In order to be redeemed, one most wrestle with one’s past. When Furiosa presents her companions to her clan, she is required to make her case, to assuage their worries, by telling them about the specific actions and character of the men in question. In a similar way, we as thinking, progressive people must be willing to grapple with the past and present of gender relations before we can feel like integrated and valued members of an equal society. None of us are required to answer for the crimes of our gender, and despite MRA rhetoric, essentially no men ever are. But all of us must take stock of the continuing horrors of patriarchy if we are to be part of a feminist, equitable world, and we must be willing to be interrogated on our contribution to the building of that world. Redemption is possible, but only with a willingness to be judged and a commitment to being our better selves.

Mad Max: Fury Road refutes the MRA worldview, then, in two ways at once. It refuses to play to the zero-sum gender narrative that they’ve imagined, where women acting as leaders and warriors must necessarily leave men in the (figurative and literal) dust. But it is unflinching in its portrayal of a world destroyed by men and their violent, rapacious acts. A modern masterpiece, Fury Road doesn’t compel us to hate its titular character or men in general. The film embraces equality, but it’s a hard-won, brutally honest, and adult kind of equality, not the greeting card variety. Without ever falling into moral didacticism or the stereotype both critics and supporters have made of it, the new Mad Max film shows us how rich, entertaining, and challenging blockbuster films can truly be.

all things go

PhD Daddy and Me

Well folks, grad school has come and gone.

It’s beautiful on campus. I grew up on a college campus; my earliest memories are of playing under my father’s desk while he met with students. My parents met on campus. My maternal grandfather ran the post office and general store at a college; my paternal grandfather was a professor. I have spent a majority of my adulthood in school. While it’s a bit embarrassing to say, I really don’t function well anywhere else. Campus is really the only place I’ve ever fit in or made sense.

Now I’m in a spot where it’s unclear if I’ll get to return. I am a good academic. I love to teach and I can really do it. I really can. I really come alive in the classroom. And I’m built to be a researcher, as I am a compulsive writer (in the old school sense of it being out of my control) and habitual reader. I think my stuff is good. But I hardly need to tell you that many talented academics are left out in the cold in current labor conditions. I am hardly giving up. I have a very strong CV, and I’m still applying now, and there’s some jobs I’ve interviewed for lately that would be awesome. I will also give it another go next year if it doesn’t break for me this spring or summer. If it doesn’t work out for me my second go around, then we’ll see. Obviously, my compulsions to write, and my style in writing, do not always help. Like the lady sang, “I need to tame this wild tongue if I’m to touch these white streets,” but all these years later I’m still learning, still regretting. I left my last class a few weeks ago hoping that it won’t be the last I ever teach. I am not complaining. I am in a really rare spot of freedom. I can go anywhere and do anything. I just may not get to stay on campus any longer. If not, I’ll figure it out. You don’t always get what you want in life!

I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve made a lot of mistakes.

I have more regrets than I can count, but the last six years of MA and PhD, the decision to commit myself in this way, aren’t among them. I am a far healthier and more functional human being than when I started, although there too the work is ongoing. Going to grad school was the best decision I ever made. Looking back, I think of the work. The endless hours of reading books, of chewing through terrible old facsimile PDFs, of drafting and redrafting papers, of staring at a paragraph of text from some 19th century Scottish rhetorician and trying to make it make sense, of laboring over a graphing calculator as I agonizingly dragged myself to competence in stats, of grading huge stacks of papers, of mildewy lecture halls, of the stacks in the library, and always of the paper, the paper and the ink. The work is what I was in for. I know that sounds impossibly pious, and I promise that I’m not trying to prove my virtue. I’m only saying that, as the person I am, the work is ultimately the  only satisfaction, the only tool to quiet my unquiet mind. I only regret that those who built this smokeless  fire inside of me and left too soon were not there to see any of it. If I get to stay, I will give thanks every day. If I leave, I will be OK, and I will leave behind a folder on my computer that houses within it 2000 nights of grinding, grinding, grinding away, for my own self, 2000 nights of purpose. And I did it all for you, dear father, nurturing mother, for you.

conversating on #CancelColbert and related

Jay Caspian Kang and I are starting an exchange about hashtag activism, #CancelColbert, and related issues over at Medium. Please check it out.

I’ve got some really cool professional gigs coming up in prominent places. They’re longer pieces so it’ll take some time before you see them, but it’s super gratifying to get these opportunities. (And the money doesn’t hurt!) Stay tuned.

species of compassion

Last night TNR unleashed this thoughtful, restrained profile of Suey Park by Elizabeth Bruenig. I thought Bruenig played her hand well. The profile genre elicits sympathy for the profiled by its nature, and Bruenig was investigating with compassion, and yet she does not dismiss or trivialize the reasons many turned on Park.

Unfortunate, then, that some are reacting to the piece by minimizing the damage Suey once did. Because she hurt a lot of people and took a hatchet to solidarity in doing so. One strange aspect of social media politics lies in the inconsistent reputation of their power. At one moment, social media is capable of sparking revolution. The next, it couldn’t hurt a fly. “They’re just tweets!” Claims to revolutionary power do not live well with claims to that power’s harmlessness. That tension will be, in the long term, the computer virus that replicates its way into the operating system of Twitter political movements and eventually shuts them down.

I think Suey Park deserves forgiveness. Definitely. But forgiveness implies recognition of bad behavior. And I find it telling, and disturbing, that some feel compelled to whitewash her many cruel statements and proudly politicized callousness in order to make an argument for forgiveness. That’s not how forgiveness works. And it plays into the misjudgment that Park and so many others have made, in this new world of purely moralistic politics: the presumption that blamelessness is a necessary requirement for those whom we would treat well, the notion that only those unstained by imperfection deserve sympathy and respect. If you take nothing else from Bruenig’s profile, take the bare notion that we all have to forgive each other because we all need to be forgiven.

a non-exhaustive list of reasons I am in love with Mad Max: Fury Road

This post contains minor spoilers about the movie Mad Max: Fury Road, which is one of the best movies I’ve seen in ages and my favorite blockbuster in forever.

1_Max

1. Because hot damn, real physical objects look good on camera. I know it’s a cliche by now to complain about CGI and nothing being or looking real, but this movie justifies it all. It just looks fantastic. Compare the average scene in Mad Max to the average scene from, say, The Hobbit movies and you’ll probably just get mad, you know what I mean? Why are we being forced to endure so many beautifully rendered movies that look… beautifully rendered? Why can’t I look at real people in real places interacting with real objects in big-budget movies anymore?

2. Because it doesn’t explain everything.

3. Because, as goddamn dorky as this to say, Tom Hardy looks and sounds really cool.

4. Because it demonstrates that you can have a tough, near-silent, ass kicker of a protagonist who isn’t some terrible aphorism-spouting cliche or macho goon.

5. Because every since Skins I’ve known that Nicholas Hoult has had a great career in him if he could just find the right vehicle, and he found it in this movie and he’s fantastic.

6.

Not just that moment, though. It’s a movie with almost no romance, in the typical sense, but which is achingly romantic. It just shames so many other movies with explicitly loving relationships or “will-they-or-won’t-they” structures. There is so much tenderness in Furiosa and Max’s brief, quiet, concise conversations with each other. When Furiosa approaches Max and says “Can I talk to you?,” it’s more affecting than every romantic relationship in all the Marvel movies put together.

7. Because it doesn’t do what many of its admirers are saying it does — it doesn’t, actually, replace Max with Furiosa. It doesn’t think that making a feminist movie necessarily involves rejecting the male characters. Instead, it demonstrates the power of shared strength, mutual commitment, and communal goals. Its politics are the radical notion of spontaneous family and leaderless community.

8. Because Charlize Theron plays an impossibly impressive warrior figure without doing some dumb robot voice or similarly affected way to signal “strong female character.”

9. Because of the Doof Warrior, obviously.

10. Because it understands the difference between portraying bleakness, suffering, and pain and falling into teenage grimdark portentous nonsense. Because it portrays a world of terrible darkness without acting like human beings are irredeemable. Because it knows that representing humanity as an unbroken string of senseless cruelty and universal selfishness is the opposite of mature. Because it satisfies the call Anthony Lane has been making for years in marrying the portrayal of violence to a consideration of suffering. Because it’s a sad, hopeful, bleak, uplifting story. Because it’s adult. Not serious. Not grim. Not “dark” in the usual sense. Adult. Of all things. Imagine that.

11. Because it’s an action movie with a plot that isn’t fundamentally driven by revenge.

12. Because, as someone said in a tweet that I can’t find now, it’s a modern tentpole film with strong themes and ideas where no character ever comes out and says what the point is or how we’re supposed to feel.

13. Because its world building is monumental while seeming effortless. Because it has tons of obscure slang that is understandable without some character making a groan-inducingly obvious statement to explain. Because the parts seem to fit together without seeming like some executive is trying to build a franchise or sell me an action figure.

14. Because there’s no goddamn stinger or other commercials for the next movie that make me feel like a chump while I’m watching it. Because the movie itself is not an advertisement for some later experience that we’re assured will be better than the one we’re getting now. Because it’s a blockbuster where I’m allowed to be present in the actually-occurring movie that’s in front of me.

15. Because it is resolutely feminist and unmistakably political without once being preachy or seeming like the type of exercise in moral hygiene that the internet’s culture industry constantly calls for.

16. Because everything about the movie — the plot, the themes, the politics, the characters, the genre — agitates against a romantic relationship between Max and Furiosa, and I agree with that completely, and it makes so much better dramatic and artistic sense for everything between them to remain implicit and unspoken, and I think it would be a worse movie if we saw anything happen between them, and yet I wanted to see them kiss sooooooo baaaaaad and I kind of hate myself for it but I don’t care. They speak a dozen lines to each other and yet their chemistry leaps off the screen, and it’s an earned attraction driven by shared adversity and admiration and a mutual protective instinct, and yes, by the fact that those are two goddamn gorgeous human beings who have never looked better. I’ve always thought shipping was a little juvenile but man I ship those two so hard. Sorry!

17. Because it’s a character-driven, intelligent, action-packed, well-developed, romantic, genuinely epic blockbuster film that doesn’t insult its audience or play down to low expectations, a story with high dramatic stakes that are fully earned and an ending that is deeply satisfying and ultimately positive, achieved with real sacrifice.

That’ll do, for now.

the “not left-wing” claim

Since I frequently get praise and attention from conservatives and libertarians for my pieces critiquing the current state of progressive argumentative and political practice, I am also frequently accused by more partisan progressives of not being left-wing. The funny thing is that these people are frequently incapable of naming a single substantive policy on which we disagree. Well, let me go through the perennial activity of laying it out for all of you.

I am a socialist who believes in the short term in instituting a dramatically more progressive tax system in order to fund a far more redistributive and robust social state, and in the long term in a system of market socialism whereby a guaranteed minimum income is paid to all citizens in order to ensure minimal material security and comfort. I’m in favor of nationalizing the banking industry, or failing to do that, enforcing far more limiting and vigorous regulations on speculative financial trades and rent-seeking. I believe in universal health care partially funded by taxpayers, with something like a one third/two thirds individual/government split on routine care and caps on individual payouts for catastrophic or perpetual care. I believe in free tuition at state-built and controlled public universities, in a system similar to our K-12 system. I support robust protections for teachers and wages that reflect their effort. I advocate for government funding for the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. I think that despite decades of merciless attacks from the moneyed, unions represent one of the most essential and powerful systems for positive progressive change, and I call for enforcement of existing labor laws that benefit unions and the passage of more powerful legislation besides. I believe in the need for an empowered, activist regulatory state to ensure consumer protections and public safety. I am opposed to all forms of sexual conservatism, and regard all consenting, adult sexual and romantic relationships between freely choosing partners to be of perfectly equal legitimacy. I believe in addressing historical inequality and oppression along racial, gender, ethnic, and similar lines. I support race-based and gender-based affirmative action where necessary in colleges and in governmental jobs. I support reparations for slavery and for our aggression and atrocities against Native American tribes. I support an Equal Rights Amendment to ensure gender equity. I believe in abortion rights without restriction, complication, or prior review. I advocate for access to birth control for all people of sexual maturity and comprehensive sexual education in middle and high school. I am a strict believer in civil rights and civil liberties and call for robust government enforcement of equal access to housing and employment, strong protections of free speech, practical freedom both of religion and from religion, and powerful rights for the accused. I am opposed to the Drug War and to the incarceration state. I am against all forms of the death penalty in all cases and without exception. I support vast reforms of our corrupt, violent, and inhumane prisons. I recognize the existence of patriarchy, white supremacy, heteronormativity, Western cultural and military hegemony, and neocolonialism, and believe in a moral duty to end them. I support comprehensive gun control. I support immigration without restriction. I am antiwar in almost all cases. I call for an immediate cessation of hostilities against the Muslim world, the closure of vast numbers of American overseas military bases, and drastic cuts in our defense budget. I advocate for a comprehensive dismantling of the NSA and CIA and the end of all programs of mass electronic espionage on the citizens of this country and those abroad. I believe in the need for prosecution of America’s large body of war criminals who have wrought ceaseless devastation on innocent, defenseless people. I call for the immediate, comprehensive, and permanent dismantling of our nuclear arsenal. I support strong environmental regulations and robust efforts to reverse global warming, end the depletion of our natural resources, and save endangered plant and animal species and their habitats. I believe that the most profound moral task of the 21st century is to redress a world of terrible inequality and oppression, a task which can only be completed with a vast effort to dismantle systems of human inequality and to close the vast material gulf between those who enjoy historic, economic, demographic, social, cultural, political, and practical privilege over those who don’t.

But, yeah. Other than that I’m a regular William F. Buckley.