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The Inevitable Scolding

It's a challenge to hang tough with the Peak Oil narrative these days. The general (and false) conception of Peak Oil theory was that it predicted that industrial society would run out of oil and that everything would grind to a halt. The perception today is that we are awash in oil from hydro-fracking and horizontal drilling and that this will be the case forever. I would argue that this is also false, but that's a discussion for another time.

Today I was poking around on a Facebook group called Anarcho-communism. Yes, I know. That's just looking for trouble, but I did it anyway. The post at the top of the group, just below a pinned post from an admin, was what looked like a screenshot of someone's Tweet:

Tweet about white people.jpg
Text of Tweet: Why are white people scared about becoming a minority in the 2040's? [sic] Are minorities treated badly in America or something?

I replied asking what this Tweet says about anarcho-communism, and someone replied that it tells us that anarcho-communism ("ancom") needs to be more inclusive. The problem is that ancom POC (people of color) are vastly outnumbered by cis white men in online discussions.

Rather than react to that directly, I decided to relate a story. I described how I used to attend a fair number of Peak Oil-themed events and that most of the people in attendance were white Baby Boomers. At least once at each of these events, and sometimes more than once because breakout sessions gave the illusion of new audiences to harangue, some white person would castigate the assembly for being so white. I think someone may have chastised one assembly for not having enough young people in it, but these scoldings usually focused on race.

Have you ever had someone tell you something completely banal and inane but do it with a theatrical air that suggested they thought they were imparting some monumental but hitherto unguessed truth? Cross that delivery with an unself-conscious sense of moral superiority and you've got the flavor of these scoldings. They were so de rigueur they might as well have been printed on the schedule of presentations.

At one such event, someone chastised John Michael Greer for being a white man talking to a room full of white men and women, and why didn't he speak in a way that was accessible to black people? His response was, I thought, needlessly self-effacing. He said something to the effect that a clueless white guy like him had nothing of interest to offer to people of color, or words to that effect.

Peak Oil, like anarcho-communism, may appeal primarily to white men, but I am personally acquainted with some people of color who are tuned into the narrative. Sometimes they would attend these Peak Oil gatherings, and my heart went out to them at these moments as, inevitably, a good portion of the eyes in the room would turn to them. It was always a white person scolding the crowd for being white, but in the moment just after the scolding, as the eyes of the white folks sought out the people of color, it was as if those rare representatives of the non-white world were expected to either take up the sword and breath fire on the quivering sinners or else grant absolution to the assembled white folk and bless their conference. I imagine they just wanted to be out of that room and away from all those expectant, pleading eyes.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 16th, 2017 03:10 pm (UTC)
Reminds me of the Slate Star Codex essay Black People Less Likely (the title is a riff on this piece in The Onion entitled New Study Finds Blacks More Likely).
Feb. 16th, 2017 04:22 pm (UTC)
Where's the "like" button on this thing?
I've read about half of the Slate Star Codex article. It seems very good. Haven't reached the conclusion yet, though. Returning to it now.
Cloudwalking Owl
Feb. 16th, 2017 11:54 pm (UTC)
Not just anarchism and peak oil.
It doesn't have to be an issue of black folks not being interested. It could simply be that most of them don't have the money or time to get to the conference. The first and only time I went to a professional baseball game was in St. Louis six years ago. My now wife and her sister were with me. I noticed lots of black players, lots of black people selling food and drink---but only one black man and his son watching in a sea of white. I asked my fiance if black people liked baseball and she was so surprised to see how white the crowd was that she actually stood up and looked all over in real shock.

I actually think lots of black folks like baseball. But I suspect most of them can't afford a ticket. No big mystery, folks. That's what systemic racism looks like. But think about this---. I heard some black, female musicians on the local campus radio. It was a performance somewhere. The lead singer ended the set with a state that said something to the effect that if you have any privilege---don't feel guilty, use it to make the world a better place.

I'm an old white man with a good education and other opportunities. I don't feel guilty about there not being black people at an event. I feel guilty when we waste our privilege and don't actually accomplish anything.

Edited at 2017-02-16 11:56 pm (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2017 05:02 am (UTC)
how does a facebook group become More inclusive? are they currently engaged in the practice of excluding people, and considering putting a stop to it? should they print up some pamphlets and try to sell the group on the other side of the tracks?

this is all rhetorical of course, because everyone knows that the best way to be more inclusive isn't to actively try to include people, but to shame the perceived majority for some trait or "privilege" that they have no control over. everyone step into the circular firing squad please!

Edited at 2017-02-17 05:08 am (UTC)
Feb. 20th, 2017 06:50 pm (UTC)
Tried that Facedbook group, didn't like it
I joined what I suspect was that same Facebook group in order to have a look around and see what they were talking about. Based on that "Politicaql Compass" thing, I thought my views would be a good fit. They were in a middle of a big discussion abut having to be a vegan to be an Anarcho-communist. Anyone who disagreed got soundly trounced.
I grew up on a beef farm and hold the (admittedly unusual) opinion that farm animals have a better life than their wild cousins.
I lurked for a few days and then "un-joined".
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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