15 March 2019

White supremacy

White supremacy is the idea that, because you are easily sunburnt, you are innately blessed to such a degree that it is right and proper for your to loot, rape, murder, and enslave.

Put it accurately like that and it's obvious nonsense.

Why is it such wretchedly persistent nonsense?

Bunch of reasons; if you want to enforce inequity of social organization, you need really committed people, because the social costs to the enforcers are high.  (This is a good test for inequity; do the people responsible for keeping the system functioning have worse outcomes than you'd expect from purely economic and background factors?)  It's pretty easy to get commitment by telling the incompetent that they deserve more status than their capability can earn them, and then letting them exact that status through threats of violence.

If you're an oligarch, an explanation for why you should under no circumstances blame the oligarch for anything, and should blame the powerless instead; that's useful, too, and explains where a lot of the money comes from to keep these ideas going.  The long habit of looting has a lot to do with the oligarchical position on this, too.

How do you get rid of it?

If you're trying to get rid of bad insecurity management, you have to do better insecurity management.  That means a respect for facts, quantitative analysis, and calling things by if not their right names then consistent accurate ones.  (This is difficult habit to get into when the culture around you is a big machine for asserting a moral norm.  It's a highly dynamic moral norm, and it claims to be completely immutable.)  It also means being very careful what society rewards.

In the white supremacy case, well.  It's at least eleven kinds of false, but pointing that out doesn't help; the problem is not whether or not it's factual, the problem is that it's an excuse to hurt people until they grant status.  That's a basic basic primate thing; the form of the excuse is irrelevant.  The fix is to not grant status, and to make any attempt to do so materially expensive.

Facebook delenda est.  Youtube, too.  Feedback with no constraints is going to catch fire and explode soon enough; we're not obliged to wait for the boom.  Anti-vaxxers (functionally another weird-ass flavour of white supremacy) are engaged in something that meets the material criteria for a conspiracy to commit bioterrorism -- the B in the NBC abbreviation for "weapons of mass destruction" -- and they've already killed specific, identifiable people. Might-maybe be time to treat it like what it is.  (This would be an excellent test for whether or not a law enforcement organization was itself hopelessly corrupted by white supremacy; can they look at anti-vaxxers and do the material analysis around what happens, rather than how people feel about what they are doing?)

Medium term, do what is necessary to secure the general prosperity in the time of angry weather, which means food security for all, above all.


Deborah Fitchett said...

Before this all erupted and stole my brain (all other concerns aside, too many environmental signals like sirens and helicopters are reminding my lizard brain of post-earthquake times) I saw a twitter thread that, if true (and the author certainly seems qualified as someone who knows a lot more that me), struck me as cause for optimism around anti-vaxxers: he argues that actually, they're such a minority that we needn't really worry about them. Yes, too many people are unvaccinated but that number is made mostly of a) people who are hesitant rather than anti, and therefore are persuadable; and especially b) material barriers to healthcare, which are a complex but nevertheless tractable problem that the government could, if sufficiently motivated by its constituents, do something about.

Moz said...

The trouble is that, as we're seeing with anti-vaxxers, wealth is no defense. Some of the natier outbreaks of disease are in rich communities who can afford to vaccinate and in fact have to go to some lengths to avoid it (starting/repurposing childcare centres for their children for example). If we can work out how to persuade them to vaccinate other than by "see that pile of dead children? That's why" I'll be very happy.

Susan Devoy has actually done her job for once (she's been controversial) and as usual The Conversation has some useful bits but even there some of the comments are scary (also, don't read the terrorist's 'manifesto', it is really disturbing).

The bad news there is that it doesn't look as though we can prosecute an Australian MP just for being a far right extremist who supports terrorists. The other MPs have to vote to expel him and ... that seems unlikely.

Graydon said...

@Deborah Fitchett --

The absolute numbers of anti-vaxxers is pretty low, yes. But they're generally concentrated and we're seeing (in Anglo NorAm) serious outbreaks and actual deaths. The overall population immunity for something like measles isn't where it needs to be because most adults haven't been maintaining their every-ten-years boosters because it hasn't been perceived as a risk. I don't know if the current scholarship has the city-emptying plagues in Asia Minor as measles anymore, but three-simultaneous-start-points looks like it could be bad. Making that worse strikes me as bad even from low absolute numbers.

The other thing is that it's turning into a full blown virtue display; the parents who refused to vaccinate their miraculously-survived-tetanus child, for example. that's not just "I have fears, and lack the skills and training to address them". That's someone creating a moral position glorifying death and suffering. That's the thing I think is materially equivalent to bioterrorism and which the machinery of the state should treat as such.

Graydon said...

@Moz --

White supremacy, when you get right down to it, is a claim to be innately special. Anti-vaxxers are making a claim to be innately special, too, and I don't think there's any meaningful difference between the positions. It's deeply embedded -- merely watching your kids suffer through measles doesn't seem to affect it at all in most cases -- and, well, so far as I can tell it's just a mildly different flavour of supremacy.

Deborah Fitchett said...

@Graydon - Of course now I think of it the tweet thread in question was about New Zealand in particular: Nor.Am. and its demographic spread will of course be different.

"Every ten years boosters" isn't a thing I've heard of though, not for measles. (For tetanus it used to be a thing, but doctors in NZ now don't recommend it, I think because the immunity fades so quickly.) The normal schedule here is the first MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine at 15 months, which provides 95% immunity, and a booster at 4 years to try and increase that. (These are timed for when you're bringing the kid in for scheduled checkups anyway, to increase uptake. During the current outbreak they've said as early as 6-12 months for the first and a month later for the second will work.) Official word is that you're considered immune if you've had both vaccinations; or if you've had the measles; or if you were born before 1969 because then it was circulating so widely that if you never got it you must just be naturally immune anyway.

Graydon said...

@Deborah Fitchett --

Here it's two shots as a kid, "first birthday" and "age 4-6" for MMR, so not quite the same schedule.

(http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/immunization/static/immunization_tool.html gets fearsomely detailed, as I suppose it ought.)

The official definition of immune is similar, but they're finding that there's been a certain amount of optimism leak in about how long immunity lasts. I think it's still at the "if you ask" stage, but you can get MMR boosters for asking as an adult.

Moz said...

Aotearoa had some early MMR vaccines where they thought a single shot was enough.

In New Zealand between 1969 and 1990, it was standard practice for doctors to give just one vaccine. People born during this time should confirm that they have had two MMR vaccines.

Australian advice is that it's a maybe, but there's a test so you can have that if you'd rather not risk an extra MMR or MMRP dose.

IMO it's just one of those things that's not worth risking. Unless you died from a previous vaccination event stuff like measles is not worth the risk.