RE: Enoughness, was Re: Vicious Racism

From: Russell Blackford (
Date: Fri Aug 03 2001 - 17:08:20 MDT

Harvey Newstrom wrote

>Lee Corbin wrote,
> > Oh great. Here we have an issue that taxes the emotional
> > control and objectivity even of extropians and... sure
> > enough, someone wants to ban it. Do you not wonder then,
> > that people want to ban cloning and everything else that
> > makes them feel uncomfortable?

<Note, I think Sean (I think it was) has answered this well. -- R.B.>

>We don't have list rules against uncomfortable subjects. We do have list
>rules against ad hominem. Stating that blacks cannot achieve as well as
>whites is ad hominem. It attacks the person as invalid rather than
>discussing any person's actions, topics, theories, actions, statements,
>It was persuasive rather than objective.

A few reflections in what I hope is now the aftermath. I think Lee agreed
that there was a racist element in the article in one of his posts, even if
he has not agreed with every aspect of Harvey's criticism. I don't really
see Lee as an opponent here.

I haven't actually used the word "racist" myself - I merely said that the
article is impatient with blacks, bordering on hostile, sometimes crossing
that border. Such hostility may well be motivated by racism, but it may just
be motivated by a "fed up" feeling with contemporary black culture and black
leaders (as opposed to thinking black people are evil or inferior). For me,
even such a "fed up" feeling would be worthy of rebuke for various reasons.
Furthermore, I had a look at the site which Joe Dees posted. Sorry Joe, but
I have to say that I am politically incorrect enough to have found some good
sense in some of the articles on that site, eg the attack on the egregious
Andrea Dworkin in one article seemed quite justified. However, there is an
uneay drift towards and into racism and sexism in some of the material.

I do largely agree with Harvey's literary critical analysis, though I'm
surprised it was necessary to do such an elaborate piece of practical
criticism to make the point. With a piece like this, skilled readers (which
is all of us, no?) can be reasonably confident of their perceptions of tone
without taking the piece apart line by line, which sometimes just raises the
(wrong) question as to where the "tone" came from (a little like taking a
brain apart and failing to find the conscious bit).

OTOH, I am uncomfortable about list rules. I think anyone should be free to
say pretty much what they like. If someone becomes too annoying, he or she
will simply get universally plonked. Moreover, if offensive material is
being posted the answer is surely to reply with more speech, not to impose

I do understand Sean's (I think) comment about the list having to be a
secret from his friends. For me, there is a dissonance between, on one hand,
the emphasis on science and technology and social freedom (which I like very
much) and economic freedom (which I also favour, despite reservations about
corporations and private property that I express from time to time) and, on
the other hand, the impatient attitudes to racial issues, for example, that
sometimes come out. There's a whole sophisticated literature *in Australia
alone* about these issues. I know that there's a much vaster literature in
the US, but I tend to focus more on our local problems arising from
Aboriginal dispossession etc. Surely, as good, intelligent citizens of our
countries, we should be reading this and responding to it thoughtfully and,
above all, patiently. In the Australian context, I don't think anyone can
discuss the issues sensibly without having read, say, Raimond Gaita's work,
with care. Olga and others can name the American equivalents.

>From my pov, one of the good things about the modern global mercantilist
economy is that it generates vast wealth, some of which (not the majority,
or there is no incentive for the system to flourish) is available to be
redistributed into disadvantaged communities and so on (not to mention
hospitals, universities, medical research centres etc). To me, this kind of
redistribution *is* a legitimate role for the state - whereas a decision by
the American theocracy to impose moral views about stem cell research or
therapeutic cloning or safe reproductive cloning is *not* a legitimate role
for the state - as I argue ad nauseum in my off-list work. I think that
these distinctions are rationally sustainable, but that is a point for
another thread.

My point for the moment is that I think people like Sean and Harvey, who
evidently share some of views above (which seem to be called, pejorativley,
"welfarist" on this list), should simply be prepared to put them more often
and change the balance of the opinions expressed here. Perhaps the opinions
being expressed are not typical of the views actually held by list members.

I am glad that J.R. has gone a bit quiet overnight my time (got to sleep
some time eh, J.R.?), but I wouldn't like to see his colourful (shit, that
word was not intended as a pun, Damien) views suppressed in any way.


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