women’s wisdom falls on deafened ears

in light of my recent turn towards “traditional gender roles,” in theory and in practice, I have somehow unearthed a memory of a conversation I had with my mother ~15 years ago, when I was a teenager. I won’t pretend to understand why this conversation attracts my attention and imagination, for the risk of going full freudian, but I find it newly illuminated and illuminating, so here you go:

I was at home or in the car or whatever with my mom, and she told me that she had had a strange exchange with our neighbor recently. (for reference, the neighbors are a married couple about 5 or 7 years ahead of my parents with two somewhat older children, and of similar middle to upper-middle class SES). the context was something like, my mom saw the neighbor come in from a walk, or vice versa? and neighbor casually remarked something to the effect of: “oh, gotta stay in shape for our husbands now that we’re getting older!”

of course, my mom in relating this to me, feigned bafflement and mild offense at (and even pity towards) our neighbor. but here are some things our neighbor definitely did not mean by her comment:

  • all men are pigs.
  • abandonment is inevitable, but you can delay it maybe?
  • that husband of yours sure seems like a cheating scumbag.
  • my husband is a scumbag, and I want to worry everyone else about theirs now too.
  • marriage vows and promises of fidelity mean nothing.
  • a woman’s only value to the world is her beauty.
  • every married man just wants a newer model once he’s gotten kids from his wife.
  • I worry every minute of every day about my appearance. 
  • I don’t trust my husband, and you shouldn’t trust yours either.

I’m not sure what my mom’s motivations were, in even telling me about this exchange. was it out of “wow just wow,” in that she was very deeply offended by our neighbor’s insinuations, and she needed to vent? on the other hand, perhaps she was genuinely concerned that our neighbor was on to something but she just didn’t like it. I don’t know.

but here’s the point: as an adult woman who has by now gathered her own experiences in the realm of gender relations (and even marriage), I can begin to appreciate what really happened here. our neighbor was, in some combination, expressing a bit of natural anxiety about the major life change of becoming an empty nester, offering solidarity with my mother, gesturing towards common-sense advice, and making small talk of what she presumed was mutual interest.

I now believe that there was nothing at all wrong with what my neighbor said to my mom; it was mildly overly personal at worst, and reflected the honest truth: that marriages work best when people try at them, that men and women are expected to bring different blends of goods to the marriage table, and that to pretend otherwise doesn’t make your marriage more liberal-progressive, it makes your marriage more fragile. I don’t know why my mom wasn’t prepared to acknowledge this (obviously, it’s tempting to blame feminism), but that refusal didn’t do her any favors and, though I don’t care to make a victim of myself, the attitude that she passed on to me has heretofore threatened my life prospects at the margin as well.

though this is just an ungeneralizable n=1 situation, for what it’s worth, I can’t resist adding that that marriage, and related wealth, and the family, remain intact today – while ours do not.


Rawls for Reactionaries

This is long but good. You should read it if you are interested in academic political philosophy and/or the proper nature of political consent and/or new and bizarre directions in the reaction. You should not read it if you think it’s pointless to deconstruct – or even understand – liberalism, and/or if you are kinda dull. Good luck.

I was assigned some Moldbug on a second date with a stranger from the internet (lulz) but I honestly haven’t made it through much yet (mea culpa). However, in the middle of doing some late-night browsing recently, I came across his 2007 treatment of Rawls, the cryptocalvin (<– totally viable candidate for naming my firstborn son, btw). As Moldbug rightly notes, Rawls has already been taken down pretty thoroughly and, I think, at least somewhat enduringly by none other than Robert Nozick in Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Incidentally, I have it on good credit that Bob Nozick used to attend and lecture at libertarian summer camps, where he did lines of coke and hooked up with the college- and grad school-aged students. Much to my chagrin, I missed that era of the Liberty Movement (gag).

Anyways, thinkers like to tread our own, ostensibly novel intellectual paths even if the existing ones are pretty well-worn… maybe it’s hubris, in which case I have plenty. Moldbug has taken the time to put his stamp on the argument against Rawlsianism, but it’s unfortunately pretty off-base. If you just want to critique liberalism in general, cool – it assumes many forms and expressions, and whichever you take as an example, that’s fine. But if you want to critique Rawls, per se, then you must first represent Rawls accurately. Anything less discredits an already marginal body of thought, and should be intellectually embarrassing. No need to become a Rawls scholar – that would raise the barriers to entry to the discussion unacceptably high – but you should have a good command of the fundamentals at least.

Rawls is still wrong, but Moldbug strawmans the hell out of him here. In my experience, and admittedly, it’s a common misinterpretation of the veil of ignorance. So it’s important that we identify the misinterpretation for what it is, correct it, and then take down – maybe even repurposing – Rawls properly. Here goes. If I may quote from the scripture Moldbug at some length: Continue reading