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Dirtbag: Essays

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While there are plenty of woke types queuing up to ‘call out’ Frost, Khachiyan and their collaborators – even accusing them of being Nazis – let’s hope the dirtbag left can resist being ‘cancelled’ altogether. Voices like these, challenging woke orthodoxy and standing up for traditional left values, are needed now more than ever. Here’s to the dirtbags.

Of course, co-parenting relationships will still involve pretty regular negotiations. The administrative division of labor will still exist after socialism and will still be decided within the home. And there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be the case—some people prefer different aspects of the job. My father was a frustrating, sometimes dangerous person, but I have no anger for him. I’m told he’d often be assailed with the regrets that any self-aware absentee father is bound to experience, and I feel nothing but pity for a sad old man who missed so much.

The benefit of societies

We move from jealousy to hate, and to the alleged epidemic of racism or even fascism often talked up by the left. Hate speech, we’re told, must be contained. Khachiyan takes a refreshingly liberal line: ‘You should be able to hate and hatred should be protected, as long as it doesn’t spill over into physical violence.’ ‘There’s this idea that we live in a white supremacist country when we fundamentally don’t’, says Khachiyan. She mentions antifa, the self-styled anti-fascist group that, since our conversation, has hit the headlines for beating up a right-leaning journalist in Portland. ‘Antifa have manufactured a threat to have some semblance of an identity’, she says. ‘All these people who say they are anti-fascist don’t know what it means to be persecuted.’ Alex Deane and Matthew Porter, as co-chairs of the Young Democratic Socialists share a vote on the NPC. [3] With the promise of a revived left politics gaining improbable traction on the American scene, it’s high time we took a long unsentimental look in history’s distant mirror, analyze our victories, and conduct some honest post-mortems of previous failures. How can we develop a workable strategy for movement-building and coalition-nurturing in a broader political culture that thrives on the psychology of possessive individualism? How can we bring together a diverse array of agendas and constituencies without obsessing over the disabling complex of small-bore purity tests and deviation-spotting that Sigmund Freud memorably dubbed the “narcissism of small differences”? How can we affirm the messy human quest for pleasure and sardonic wit along the oft-competing mandate for vigilance and ideological rigor? Most of all, how can we transcend the subcultural left, stop acting like power is a dirty word, and go about seizing it in the service of a socialist future for all? Join fearless Baffler dispenser of all-purpose wisdom Amber Frost on this brave new intellectual sojourn—the answers may surprise you! And even when the economy makes way for the culture, you still always run the risk of ending up with a nogoodnik—however rare they may be in a just (and subsequently more enlightened) economy. (Sorry honey, some men are just duds. There’s nothing to be done for it, but a problem without a solution is not, per se, an insoluble problem—it’s just a fact of life.)

If you want to socially engineer a loving and responsible masculinity, men themselves must become thoroughly optional. Romantic love and the nuclear family are lovely ideas, but history has clearly shown them to be unreliable economic models. I am empirical evidence of this fact. Another recent favourite author among Guardian feminists is Kristen Roupenian, whose short story, ‘Cat Person’, went viral. The story is about a young woman who realises – slightly too late in the day – that the sexual encounter she is about to embark on is not what she wants. When the man finally realises he has been rejected, he lashes out. ‘ Guardian feminists liked it because it “proved” men are trash because the man called her a whore at the end’, says Khachiyan. ‘Actually what it showed is that men can be sad and pathetic’, adds Frost. He could be very charming and funny. He could also be very irresponsible, negligent, abusive, and downright mean. He was not fit for the task of fatherhood, not for me or for any of my biological siblings or step-siblings. Gospel Half-Truths

She was a miracle to me, but when she was eight years old I had to leave her daytimes with the woman downstairs to whom she was no miracle at all, for I worked or looked for work and for Emily’s father, who “could no longer endure” (he wrote in his goodbye note) sharing want with us. Compared to the Times, the reporting is usually more in-depth; the reporters generally have more expertise; the coverage is more comprehensive both geographically and substantively; even the op-eds are better (likely because they are far fewer, and they’re not used to pad the paper with “content”—confessionals, puff pieces, listicles—rather than reporting). Most refreshing, the FT does not lose itself in the mire of myopic American culture wars, which very rarely breach the surface of material politics and/or economics. When it does run soft news, it’s higher quality (Rana Foroohar’s “Lunch with the FT” with Rebecca Solnit, for example, transcends the genre of fawning celebrity profile into an understated but scathing critique). As a “big S” Socialist, my reading habits often surprise liberals. I’m a writer, though my biggest audience comes from the listenership of Chapo Trap House, a popular leftist comedy podcast. This makes me something of a curiosity among my colleagues at traditional media institutions—staffed largely by liberals—so I often find myself explaining my preference for the pink paper of liberal capitalism over the Gray Lady of cultural liberalism. The answer is simple: by literally any measure, the Financial Times is just a better paper. It covers the world as it is—a global battle not of ideas or values, but of economic and political interests. By the time our little family’s finances got out of the absolute pits—a state of precarity created in no small part by the enormous amount of student debt my mother would not pay off for many years and the many work hours she spent away from her latchkey daughter—I wasn’t little anymore. And that was the end of that. Walkouts and Walkabouts

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