The Case for Ad Hominem

This is a postscript to A Strange Loop.

What I want to emphasise, more than before, is the reasonableness of the complaints about sexism in technology that gave the blacklisters their foot in the door.

It would be easy to think, that because I’ve been critical of the social effects of women working on equal terms with men, that I would be in favour of maintaining hostility to women in technology, as a means of moving society towards Patriarchy, which I support. It rather looks like I’m doing exactly what I accuse leftists of doing, and lying about my true motives.

That’s not actually true. I am opposed to women in the workplace on equal terms with men, and I ought to have made that clear. But the vast majority of working women work in areas that are in no way as male-dominated as information technology. The idea that being offensive to women technologists is a step on the road to restoring patriarchy is a complete non-starter.

It does mean that I would not accept arguments that sexism in technology is infringing the “rights” of women to equal treatment in the workplace. But I think I made my opinion of rights arguments fairly clear in the piece.

In fact, as a working technologist, I have a small number of female colleagues, and I have no wish to drive them out or disadvantage them in the name of incremental social change. All the working female computer programmers in the country would not make much impact on fertility if they were to go home and make babies. Incremental social change is not an option for the right; any actual social change of the sort we wish for is likely to be cataclysmic in nature.

Also, just to be absolutely clear on this, I do not hate them. I personally like having females around as colleagues, particularly if they’re pretty. That is no doubt a “sexist” attitude, but it is not motivating my view of the culture war in technology. Leftists love to talk about hatred. They will resort to it at the drop of a hat, to avoid addressing contrary arguments on their merits. If you want to reduce welfare benefits, you hate the poor. If you want more women to have families, you hate women. If you notice differences between races, you hate all races but your own. And, as they have themselves demonstrated in the way they talk about Curtis Yarvin, it is quite possible to internalise a political position emotionally to the point that it resembles hatred. But we neoreactionaries are a very cerebral bunch (much to the disgust of others in the alternative right). We are, far more than most other groups, able to separate our theoretical positions from our personal relations, though the question is sometimes raised as to whether this is a bad practice. (There was a considerable flap when Justine Tunney entered our forums with sympathetic ideas, and the predominant, but by no means unanimous, attitude was to interact with her and her ideas politely, and put aside the widespread view that “transsexualism” is a mental illness).

Certainly the only hatred visible in the Strangeloop controversy is coming from leftist agitators who have raised their disagreement with traditionalist political ideas to the level of hatred of those who advance them.

The reason I did not refer to my support for patriarchy when talking about the question of women in technology is that it never struck me as relevant. If my pro-patriarchy position were grounded in hatred of women, it obviously would be highly relevant to the question of women in technology, but again, that never occurred to me. I want a future where most women marry once and have children, in part because I think that would make them happy. I would, as I wrote recently, also like women to be involved in the economy sufficiently to engage their need for fulfilling work, though this is tricky to square with the modern workplace. I hope for better solutions to that than those I have so far advanced. I do not expect to easily convert new readers to my pro-patriarchy viewpoint, but I think they ought to recognise that, even if it is wrong, it is not motivated by hatred.

It is true that I have written previously that women need to be kept out of technology to save technology, but that is essentially the same argument that I made in A Strange Loop: that the culture war is now on and as such it tends to make women in technology into the enemy of technology (sometimes against their will). If there were no culture war, that argument would vanish.

The point of this is that I believe that the argument “You shouldn’t make sex jokes at technology conferences because that will drive women out” is fundamentally a sound and good argument. It is obvious, it is fine, I accept it as an argument. The reason the argument should have been rejected from the beginning is not that it is a bad argument, it is that those spearheading it had a different, hidden agenda of introducing political blacklisting into technology, one which now is beginning to bear fruit.

What do you do if a good argument is put forward in bad faith? Within a community, you have to reject it. That is because the standards of discussion in the community assume common goals and good faith, and those with divergent goals and bad faith will take advantage of the assumptions to achieve far greater change than they otherwise would be able to. In a venue acknowledged to be hostile—a political forum, the same does not apply. A politician is not blindly trusted, but a member of a goal-oriented community like the software industry more or less is.

The other path is the one Alex Miller feared and tried to avoid, which is to acknowledge that the community is in fact a hostile, or political, venue. That is what has happened to the gaming community, for example. There are obviously parallels between that and what is going on in software, but as I haven’t really played any games made this century, I’m not well placed to discuss them.

My conclusion, made to political neutrals in communities affected by politics, is that you need to be extremely distrustful of people who come into your community and attempt to change it, who have any kind of political loyalty. I offer this advice in good faith, though I have a political agenda of my own. You should be suspicious of my advice because of my political agenda. (And if you are, then you are following my advice). But unlike leftists, I have nothing to offer but the truth—that is why I have gone to the length of writing this second post on the subject, to point out that I actually am what today is called “sexist”, and to explain that that is not the motivation behind my advice, though at a glance it might seem probable that it would be.

[Nobody has yet objected to my previous post pointing out that I was concealing my support for patriarchy. That can only be because nobody has read it with a sufficiently critical attitude, so this is in a sense a reply to criticisms that have not yet been made but should have been]



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