About 'Alpha+Good'

Alpha+Good (a bad wordplay on Orwell's "double plus good" and old machismo - I'm the realest after all) is a side project that belongs to 'Onklare taal' ('Unclear' or 'Unripe language'), the umbrella of several literary projects in Dutch.

This section is almost exclusively in English and comprises my ongoing thoughts on progress, gender, politics and various other social themes. Why is this in English why everything else in Dutch? Because I want to gun for a much wider audience here. Also, my literary English isn't good enough, otherwise I would always write in English.

Are you a little lost? This link will take you right back to my home page.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The crime of accusation

Quick: what do sexual assault, racist practices, structural poverty and religious fanaticism have in common with each other? If you answered that they are the excesses of four major oppressive systems - patriarchy, imperialism, plutocracy and superstition - you are right. They also share a number of other remarkable similarities.

Most societies on Earth more or less recognise that these four things are destructive and dangerous, perhaps moreso in the West, although I could be saying that because I live in the West. Regardless, they also have in common that despite being touted as great evils, most people poorly understand their realities, origins and causes.

Thought leaders and mainstream media will depict rape as a vile crime, a crime in fact so vile that only the vilest people will commit it. As such, being accused of rape is a sufficient battle cry for people to suddenly proclaim that the alleged rapist is innocent until proven guilty (which is true), while these same people will have no problem calling for severe and disproportionate punishments for people accused of various other crimes.

Racism, too, suffers from the stereotype that it's Apartheid, segregation, slavery and Hitler: gross manifestations of racism that lead to a defensive backlash if anyone is accused of racist attitudes and acts who doesn't fit this extremely brutal narrative.

And yes, we think poverty is bad and pitiable, but pinning the blame for poverty on those that hoard wealth and use every bit of power they have to unfairly keep it that way, is treated as an insane call for communism and the gulags. Instead, we prefer to blame people for their own poverty - a parallel with sex crimes - and demonise the poor as incapable, lazy and stupid.

Finally, we're good at puncturing the cuckoo beliefs of religious fanatics elsewhere, but few people ever point out that the belief in unfettered capitalism traces back to a similar false notion of certainty that this will somehow clearly work out.

The blames for these crimes are put on others, on the victims themselves, and the true perpetrators and the system in which they are movers and shakers, remains unchallenged. In fact, to challenge it is to commit a moral transgression yourself.

Despite the concern for false rape accusations potentially destroying the accused's life, we don't talk about rape culture and how rape is terrifyingly common. We are shocked when we watch 'Schindler's List', but admitting that racism is still alive on the job market, the housing market and in our courtrooms is too terrifying to contemplate. The 1% is destroying our economy, but all they are their acolytes do is to complain about how unfairly they're being treated by perceived left-wing bias in the media (which is bogus). Lastly, religious leaders and thinkers hasten to distance themselves from fanatics, but these fanatics are merely the extreme consequence of the superstitions they themselves hold.

Obviously, the mechanisms with which oppressive structures cloud their worst excesses in uncertainty, extremes and distance from their own core principles are much more complex and contain more moving parts than merely making the accusation of these crimes almost criminal in themselves.

But, I think there is merit to see how clever these systems are to single out their own worst consequences and pretend how they are somehow not present in their mainstream versions.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

20 people I admire (III): Soraya Chemaly

Who? Feminist and writer for a diverse array of American publications, most notably appearing in the Huffington Post.

Why? Chemaly is not only very much in tune with the fast-moving world of the Internet (and its memes, its soundbytes, the fickle stuff that catches the world's attention), but also manages to take the big perspective without being someone who preaches only to the choir. She is never shy for sources and back-up of the statements she makes, and I admire the fact that even in the face of the daily misery that faces a lot of women on this planet, she looks facts in the eye with an unflinching determination, never using it for self-aggrandizing, but always for the greater good.

What resonates with me? Her blend of "iron fist in a velvet glove" is something I wish I could adopt more often. Also, if I'm feeling a little burnt out on all this activism and the pessimism is invariably brings, it takes a Chemaly article to rekindle my fighting spirit and realise why I'm doing this.

Best bit? I would probably say her article on the epidemic that is violence against women worldwide, which reads as both a sad roll call of the atrocities that many would wish to forget, while at the same time connecting them all into a meaningful statement on the existence of patriarchy as a global force.

Next up: Will Bevan, also known as Burial, a British electronic musician.