Bad Faith and Deadwood

I was watching Deadwood today with my partner today–two things shocked me when watching it that I didn’t notice the first time I watched it when I was in college:  the race relations are obviously strained but the contempt is a community bond.  The way having someone to spit on keeps the fact that you are precarious and being spit on yourself seem easier to take.   The show being an HBO production obviously overplays this for shock value, and a lot of the people involved are probably not even thinking the problematic of the situation out.   It is refreshing, however, for poverty to be show as ugly and spiteful as desperation makes people.  In situations like that “race”–or more precisely ethnicity–stops and fills the gaps.   The ugliness of poverty doesn’t excuse it, and the proximity between poor people makes that hatred harder to maintain, but the structures are their to maintain it.  That is in the fictive subconscious of the show.

Racialism is the last hope for those who, at root, have very little.  Racism may be endemic in both its structural and individual forms in all classes at all times of stress, but racialism is turning that frustration and foolish reaction into a political ideology.  It is a way to imagine a kinship the way border creates the imagined community.  Deadwood, after all, has no formal borders and as such this is likely to be rampant.

This brings up UKIP, the National Front, the Tea Party, etc.   It is not that these voters are the most disadvantaged–they feel besieged.  They look around, and being that they can’t get to the people actually besieging them.  Well, aren’t those brown people over there more than you remember?   Honestly, one of the strange things about Euro-racialism is that it puts the lie to the American binaries:   Why would Farrage care about Poles and Romanians?   The Slavs are more religious, more skeptical of socialism, and more distrust of central Asian immigration according the stereotypes these things are made of.  I mean, from a reactionary stand-point, it would seem like the ideal “white person.”   Of course, this is nonsense.   You have to kick someone and those Slavic peoples are the exotic people with an EU passport.

As I write this, I just saw that the National Front won the Euro-elections in France, UKIP lost council percentage in local elections but won the Euro-elections in the UK, and the Danish People’s Party grew in size.   It is sad when you wish people could learn from a HBO historical exploitation drama. Are all these parties racist?   I doubt all the voters for them are, but nationalism is always based on exclusion and this kind of nationalism is the blood and soil variety. Draw your own conclusions.

Conversely, UKIP did not do as well as predicted in local elections–loosing a percentage of council seats. Anyway, my liberal and left friends will need to ask things about the situation they are been unable to alter or deliver on, and what that will be mean for them.  The numbers are complicated.

Back to the television show, nominally.

The other shocking thing about Deadwood is the way the show treats women.  Some of it is exploitative writing, but it is also very realistic in showing the twisted way male-female violence distorts everyone’s emotions, and ruins the women involved.  What I noticed, however, is the bad faith most of the men have towards women.  That reminded me, for some reason, of an article I read this morning about MRAs.   While not the same as the kind of abuse you see on Deadwood, the entitlement and focus on interrupting and interfering.. and thus controlling is definitely there.   The talk about “men’s issues” seems to be bad faith.

What do I mean about bad faith:  What ever issues I might have with a specific type of feminism–as there are many and we should not lump them together all the time as if “feminism” was this monolith of an abstraction that could enforce uniform beliefs–MRAs I see are the ideological manifestation of a butthurt ego at best and more generally hatred of women.  Why do I say that?  To focus on derailing.  The lack of theoretical grounding.  Feminism has competing theoretical groundworks because there are many different ideas to parse out multiple ways to look at it.  MRA does not have this.  There is no theory and little praxis other than showing up on feminist blogs and maybe posting to Return of Kings or the defunct In Mala Fide–and probably participating in Pick-up Artist forms. I have met a few men who flirt with some of Men’s Rights ideas because of a particularly unfair divorce, or what have you, but generally, those guys either man-up and see through it or they become hateful douchebags.  

The concerns such a male-on-male rape seem lost in the actual trolling concerned.  Furthermore, one of the reasons male rape is not taken seriously is that rape is seen as feminizing, so this whole “cover-up of male-rape because of the dominance of women” seems to be rooted in a profound hostility to femininity in the first place. It is not somehow a sign of the dominance of a feminist cabal.   Sometimes MRA’s like my writing, sadly, because of a critique of Stand-point epistemology or a rant about “the end of men” arguments of Hanna Rosin. They eventually realize that I like many feminist thinkers even if I am wary of a man, like myself, donning a feminist mantel.

Like in Deadwood, however, the reason for all the derailing and controlling are often lost on those doing them. The saloon owners convince themselves they love one of the “girls.”  The MRA convince themselves that they are aimed at men’s issues instead of just derailing.

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