The Failures of Masculinity

There are few things in society that can be perpetuated that are so plainly false yet never have their merits questioned. The concept of masculinity is one of these things. It can take many forms, not just as a mindset but also through actions in our daily lives. Masculinity is believing that men need big muscles, hair on their chest, never to show emotions – and especially – never to cry. It is a repressive force that keeps men at a standstill, keeps women in a nuclear home holding cell, and adds absurd amounts of anger to the world we live in. First, once we fully understand the roots and causes of masculinity it will be easier to tear it down and place a functional belief set in its place.

Most of the things said throughout this essay are coming from the point of view of a white male that grew up with the typical ideas of masculinity. Because of that, this polemic is aimed mostly at men since we are the ones that must change our actions and mind states to help resolve the issue. But we shouldn’t forget that to end the patriarchal attitudes in society then it takes the effort of both men and women to remedy it.Read More »

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Capitalism and Nostalgia

The only way capitalism can survive is if we’re all consumers. We constantly have to buy new things so new things can be made and the system reproduces itself, spinning into a showboat auction of who can sell the most stuff. There are whole fields of study dedicated to making consumers purchase the most stuff, which is a somewhat frightening thought given all the consequences. One way to win that profit race to the top is to figure out what consumers want to buy, and the easiest way of doing that is ensuring them of what they want to buy.

For instance, have you noticed all the sequels and remakes that Hollywood has been pumping out? We’ve just gotten a whole slew of new Star Wars films, Disney is releasing all their old films but with live animation this time (Jungle Book, Lion King, Mulan, etc), kids sequels like Toy Story 4 or Frozen 2, the list could go on. It’s not just direct sequels either, symbols and themes from the past appear in supposedly original work. Take for instance the Netflix series Stranger Things, which although an original work plays heavily into 80’s nostalgia; same with the much of our pop music, in which I’ve noticed New Wave motifs being played into heavily.

I’ve heard the phrase that “Hollywood is running out of ideas” but that’s hardly satisfying. What the media manufacturers are doing is far more calculated and in fact quite intentional.Read More »

Workplace Democracy (How to be Your Own Boss)

Introduction.

If you ask the average American why they believe their country is great they’ll usually mumble something about free speech, civil liberties, and eventually they’ll get around to democracy. In recent years the concept of democracy has lost its weight due to forces all around us working to diminish democracy; because at its core, true democracy is still a radical idea. I for one still believe in democracy. But it is curious that we continue to strive for a democratic process in our politics but not where it matters most: in the workplace.

The mainstream discussion about social issues does not even consider the idea of a democratic workplace because of the radical implications of democracy. But, if anything, it makes more sense to focus on democracy in the workplace. We are told to go participate in politics every 2-4 years when elections roll around to help shape our futures the way we see fit, but we spend far more time shoved into a workplace where we have no control at all about what happens there. People’s entire livelihoods – their entire means to keep surviving – are all the result of their time in the workplace, yet we have less control over this than we do the entire workings of our government.

If we truly believe in the principles of democracy, then those principles need to be extended to the most consequential parts of our lives. If our society promoted the idea of democratic workplaces then not only would that give people far more control over their own lives, but it would make society more productive and more equitable. The majority of our days would not be going to work to serve some boss that was placed over us arbitrarily, but instead every day when we go to work we would be working for ourselves to reap the benefits of our own labor.Read More »

Gandhi Flip-Flops and MLK Day

Yesterday it was reported that outrage has stirred in India due to a consumer item advertised on Amazon. The item was a pair of flip-flop sandals with an image of Mahatma Gandhi’s face on the top of them. The sandals cost 16.99$ and required that the user put their feet directly on Gandhi’s face while wearing them, which would almost be comedic if it weren’t so sad.

This incident comes a short while after another consumer related scandal, this one being a doormat with India’s flag on it for guests to wipe their feet on. The people of India’s anger is understandable, although it’s important that they direct their anger towards the right place.

gandhi-sandals
Amazon’s image of the sandals being sold.

What would propel someone to wear flip-flops with Gandhi’s face on them? I imagine that it would be someone that superficially idolized the man, meaning some hipster in the U.S. that vaguely knows the man’s actions and think it’s a sign of rebellion to wear them. I imagine it being the same crowd that wears Che Guevara t-shirts despite never reading his work and never studying the Cuban revolution. Read More »

The Real Meaning of Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand

Modern economists would attribute pretty much any market function to the mystical “invisible hand” that Adam Smith wrote about. In fact it’s been argued that the core message of Smith’s “The Wealth of Nations” was the argument about the invisible hand of the free market. Being the bad business student that I am, I decided to actually read Adam Smith instead of just worship him.

The term “invisible hand” only appears once in the entire “Wealth of Nations” and only three times in all of Smith’s writing. The next use we’ll look at it comes in his “Theory of Moral Sentiments” and the third time, curiously enough, in an essay about the history of astronomy. I’ll analyze all three uses to find some coherent meaning to the phrase. Read More »

The Maxim of Strength

One of the prevailing ideologies from our past comes to us in the form of the slogan “Might is right”. It is the ideology of the strong taking what they can, what they deem to be rightfully theirs and attaining from those that have. It separates the haves and the have-nots. More poetically, Jack London would have called it the law of Club and Fang. Another form, although slightly different, comes to us from one of the greatest sophists of the 19th century.

Nietzsche writes in Beyond Good and Evil:

Physiologists should think twice before positioning the drive for self-preservation as the cardinal drive of an organic being. Above all, a living thing wants to discharge its strength — life itself is will to power -: self-preservation is only one of the indirect and most frequent consequences of this.

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Protest on College Campus

Throughout the day on Thursday students on the University of Tennessee campus gathered to protest the presidency of Donald Trump. At the height of the protest there was up to 300 students participating in both the protest and the counter-protest. Students, forming a ring around the sitting ‘marginalized’ students, chanted and repeated slogans from the speakers of the event. In an explanation of the purpose of the protest, one of the speakers elaborated that it “is not a pro-Hillary protest, it is a fuck Donald Trump protest.”

I joined the protest around 2:00 pm on my way to class and stayed for a few spare hours. Just walking close to 100 meters away from the gathering I knew instantly what it was, the police cars parked along the road with flashing lights only confirmed my suspicion. I gathered later that it was organized by the campus diversity organization. After positioning myself in the crowd I found myself chanting along with them, although abstaining once or twice when I found their slogans distasteful. A few of the favored rallying cries were “Not my president”, “Fuck Donald Trump”, and the now famous “No Trump, no KKK, no fascists USA.” The chorus to Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright” was also frequently chanted, which is always expected.Read More »