Monday, November 28, 2016

Liavek 7! Now available! Longest collection yet, only $3.99!

Contains five stories:
"Portrait of Vengeance" by Kara Dalkey
"The Skin and Knife Game" by Lee Barwood and Charles de Lint
"Strings Attached" by Nathan A. Bucklin
"The Tale of the Stuffed Levar" by Jane Yolen
"An Act of Love" by Steven Brust, Gregory Frost, and Megan Lindholm

And a poem:
"Spells of Binding" by Pamela Dean
 Originally published in 1987 in Spells of Binding. For more information, see A Liavek publication FAQ.

Available now at: Liavek 7: Spells of Binding 
Barnes & Noble: Liavek 7: Spells of Binding 
Smashwords: Liavek 7: Spells of Binding

"A colorful, likable setting: a crowded port city so well-drawn that readers soon feel they could walk through it..." —Publisher's Weekly

"Fresh and compelling tales." —Science Fiction Review

" entertainment as well as an exercise in shared-world fiction." —Fantasy Review

"Beautifully written, with detailed characterizations, the short stories are amazingly well integrated...a collection of quality fiction...Liavek is a place worth visiting. Get there before another volume comes out." —Voya

"For a world conceived in the 1980s, Liavek was notably forward-looking... As a counter to the default whiteness of fantasy at the time, Liavekans are dark-skinned, as are the indigenous S'Rian people on whose older town the city was built. A same-sex relationship is central to some of Dean's stories, and the city has multiple religions, but also atheists — no easy feat when the various gods regularly take an interest in human affairs." —Elizabeth Graham, NPR

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Thursday, November 24, 2016

No, identity politics is not civil rights

I left this comment at Stop Calling It Identity Politics — Its Civil Rights:
It’s sad that you’ve appropriated King to argue that identitarianism is civil rights. Two things he said may illustrate the problem:

“In the treatment of poverty nationally, one fact stands out: there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.” — Martin Luther King

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.” — Martin Luther King

Left-identitarians prefer the King of 1963 to the later King who spoke more bluntly about justice. They fail to note that the 1963 Dream speech was given at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, not the March on Washington for Racial Respect. To democratic socialists like King and Bayard Rustin, fighting racism and sexism were just part of what socialists do. That’s no different for the most famous democratic socialist in the US today, Bernie Sanders.

King’s unfinished project, the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign, was not the Black People’s Campaign. He wanted poor people of all hues to march together and call for Basic Income to end poverty for everyone.

But left identitarians only want to fight racism and sexism. If you doubt this, notice how many of them denigrate the white working class. 
And if you ask for specifics about how they can fight racism and sexism alone, their solutions are vague. They have to be vague because wealth in the US will always be disproportionately distributed without a solution like Basic Income. Which is why Malcolm X was right when he said, “You can’t have capitalism without racism”.

The history of left identitarianism in the US begins after King died. Privileged black academics in the Ivy League under the guidance of Derrick Bell developed Critical Race Theory as an alternative to King’s universalism. One of Bell’s students, Kimberle Crenshaw, coined “intersectionality”, but her intersection was only about race and gender — the black bourgeoisie is no more interested in the working class than the white bourgeoisie. Later thinkers have tried to add class to the identitarian intersection, but the problem is class is not a social identity. It’s an economic identity, and very few poor people want to preserve their identity as poor people.

On Facebook,David Hajicek said,
Will, I don't quite get the second paragraph. I can see that capitalism is good at creating poor people. And as you noted, poverty is not unique to blacks. So why, “You can’t have capitalism without racism”?
I answered,
Because generational poverty from our history of chattel slavery and wage slavery means the class system will look much like it does today without a huge change in the way we distribute wealth: disproportionately black, Hispanic, and American Indian at the bottom, with large groups of poor whites in places like Appalachia and the Dakotas, and disproportionately Jewish and Asian at the top, with large groups of rich whites in the places where the rich gather.

Interestingly (to me, at least), the distribution of white people in general is not as disproportionate as anti-racists think. A while back, Walter Benn Michaels noted, "White people, for example, make up about 70 per cent of the US population, and 62 per cent of those in the bottom quintile."
David said,
Or is it because racism is a useful too to get poor whites to accept their unfair circumstances?
I said,
It is, but I think most capitalists really would like to see an end to racism so they could feel that capitalism was fair. They just don't want to redistribute the wealth to do that, so we're stuck in this situation where capitalists talk endlessly about diversity and never offer anything that will actually help the people at the bottom of the pyramid.

Marcus H. Johnson, the author of the piece that inspired this post, responded to my comment with
There are plenty of socialist countries where Black people are at the bottom of society with the least money, the fewest resources, and the least power. Socialism =\\= antiracism. Not even close.
I replied,
I notice that you don’t name any examples of those countries, but I agree that many countries still have a problem with racism.

A few relevant facts:

During the height of Jim Crow, the Communist Party USA took up one of the most famous court cases of the day when they defended the Scottsboro Boys from charges of raping two white women. CPUSA also ran black candidates for office when segregation was the law of the land—James W. Ford was their candidate for Vice President three times.

W.E.B. Du Bois, who first wrote about white skin privilege, was a member of the Communist Party. He said in the foreword to the 50th anniversary edition of Souls of Black Folk, “I still think today as yesterday that the color line is a great problem of this century. But today I see more clearly than yesterday that back of the problem of race and color, lies a greater problem which both obscures and implements it: and that is the fact that so many civilized persons are willing to live in comfort even if the price of this is poverty, ignorance, and disease of the majority of their fellowmen; that to maintain this privilege men have waged war until today war tends to become universal and continuous, and the excuse for this war continues largely to be color and race.”

Famous black people who didn’t join a communist party but worked with communists and attended some of their meetings include Rosa Parks, Langston Hughes, and Paul Robeson.

That said, I agree that socialism =/= anti-racism. Derrick Bell had no interest in socialism; he liked being at the top of the US’s class system. So he took a different path than King and Rustin and Malcolm X and Rosa Parks did when he began developing Critical Race Theory.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why leftists criticize the extremely profitable Southern Poverty Law Center

Two organizations are being promoted by those of us who want to fight Trump. I've always loved the first, the ACLU.

But I've had doubts about the Southern Poverty Law Center since I learned about their profiteering ways in the '90s. Wikipedia has a little on the controversy over its finances.

In 2010, I learned how very white its ten highest-paid executives were: SPLC — “Whites Only” 2010 « Watching the Watchdogs.

The Wayback Machine makes This Week in Babylon—By Ken Silverstein (Harper's Magazine, March 2, 2007) available. Here's the entire part about the SPLC:
Southern Poverty: richer than Tonga

Back in 2000, I wrote a story in Harper's about the Southern Poverty Law Center of Montgomery, Alabama, whose stated mission is to combat disgusting yet mostly impotent groups like the Nazis and the KKK. What it does best, though, is to raise obscene amounts of money by hyping fears about the power of those groups; hence the SPLC has become the nation's richest “civil rights” organization. The Center earns more from its vast investment portfolio than it spends on its core mission, which has led Millard Farmer, a death-penalty lawyer in Georgia, to once describe Morris Dees, the SPLC's head, as “the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker of the civil rights movement” (adding, “I don't mean to malign Jim and Tammy Faye”).

When in 1978 the Center's treasury held less than $10 million, Dees said the group would stop fund-raising and live off interest when it hit $55 million. As he zeroed in on that target a decade later, Dees upped the ante to $100 million, which the group's newsletter promised would allow it “to cease the costly and often unreliable task of fund raising.” At the time of my story seven years ago, the SPLC's treasury bulged with $120 million, and the organization was spending twice as much on fund-raising as it did on legal services for victims of civil-rights abuses–yet its money-gathering machinery was still running without cease.

It's still going. Last week, a reader sent me the SPLC's 2005 financial filing with the IRS, which is required by law for charities. In five years, the SPLC's treasury had grown by a further $48 million, bringing its total assets to $168 million. That's more than the annual GDP of the Marshall Islands, and has the SPLC rapidly closing in on Tonga's GDP.

Revenues listed for the 2005 filing came to about $44 million, which dwarfed total spending ($29 million). Of that latter amount, nearly $5 million was spent to raise even more money, and over $8 million was spent on salaries, benefits, and other compensation. The next time you get a fund-raising pitch from the SPLC, give generously—but give to a group that will make better use of your money. Like Global Witness.
Since the Bakkers aren't as famous as they were, I'll note for young readers that Jim and Tammy Faye were notorious televangelists.

Sadly, a couple of the original articles on the Southern Poverty Law Center's profiteering are behind paywalls:

The Conscience Industry - Alexander Cockburn - The Nation | HighBeam Research

The church of Morris Dees - Ken Silverstein - Harper's Magazine

But if you wonder how very profitable SPLC is, this article includes pics of Morris Dees' mansion: Southern 'Poverty' Law Center's Cayman Islands bank account.

King of the Hate Business by Alexander Cockburn concludes,
...How about attacking the roots of southern poverty, and the system that sustains that poverty as expressed in the endless prisons and Death Rows across the south, disproportionately crammed with blacks and Hispanics?
You fight theatrically, the Dees way, or you fight substantively, like Stephen Bright, who makes only $11,000 as president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights. The center’s director makes less than $50,000. It has net assets of a bit over $4.5 million and allocates about $1.6 million a year for expenses, 77 percent of its annual revenue. Bright’s outfit is basically dedicated to two things: prison litigation and the death penalty. He fights the system, case by case. Not the phony targets mostly tilted at by Dees but the effective, bipartisan, functional system of oppression, far more deadly and determined than the SPLC’s tin-pot hate groups. Tear up your check to Dees and send it to Bright, (