When power is seen as the only reality, all relationships are seen as sado-masochistic

Sebastian writes:

I have not read your extended discussion on the phenomenon of game and I do not know what “Roissy” is, though I assume you mean that “Mystery” method of the so-called pick up artists. Personally, I find the defenders of game vaguely embarrassing. Your entry on Game and dominance and the worldview behind contemporary social interactions, however, really gets to the heart of perhaps the greatest shift in human relations I’ve lived through, which has been entirely ignored by social commentators.

There is today a whole new language prevalent among young (under forty) people to describe social relations based on the grim supposition that all human interactions are based on power and that treats social hierarchies as forms of subservience and, importantly, humiliation. Whether this worldview arose because of the reductionist social science of the last fifty years, the loss of our reminders of transcendence, atheism, Hip-Hop, Foucault or a combination of these and much else also, I do not know. But it is very real. One of the most disturbing phenomena I observe is the constant use of the word “bitch” to describe relationships once understood as that of mentor and apprentice/protege. The word, of course, comes from prison. This word is now casually used to refer to anyone who willingly puts themselves in a position to learn and benefit from the expertise of someone older or more knowledgeable. It is used as a substitute for good manners, caring, doing a favor for someone—anything that does not assert ones domination. The inverse of domination, of course, is being “dissed.”

At an investment bank I worked at before law school, any analyst who befriended an older, more established professional was talked about as being “the bitch” of that person. I mean, one really does hear it daily. If someone “disses” you, the response is to make that person “your bitch.” Middle-class white people use this language in their professional careers and personal life, and a change of language reflects a change of worldview. In the sexual arena, I cannot tell you how many women have told me they will not be the bitch to so and so. Evidence of this subservience can be something like making coffee. So now we have a situation in which women will engage in the most depraved sexual acts imaginable at the drop of a hat, but the person who makes coffee in the morning—the person who shows humane care and feeling—is a “bitch.” Coffee? That’s going too far!

This new language reflects a very cold, atomized world and a solipsistic and ignorant one. The mindset shatters any opportunity the young may have from learning. Kathleen is absolutely right: people now think themselves the masters of the universe; no humility; no sense that they have much to learn. It’s a strange development in light of the corresponding mass castration of the white male. Perhaps it’s a reaction to it, as one of your commenters has said. Whatever its ultimate origins, it is one of the least discussed phenomenon of the last twenty years. It has seeped into everyday conversations (along with the word “disrespect” as a verb, which is grammatically correct but was unused when I was growing up). Obviously, Hip-Hop is the main conduit, but the worldview behind it is more than Hobbesian: it’s actually an S&M perspective on the human condition that increasingly forestalls the capacity for intimacy, friendship and love.

LA replies:

Thank you very much for this. Your account of the common use of “bitch” among young professionals to mean anyone in an apprentice-mentor or assistant-boss relationship, a usage I was not aware of, perfectly illustrates my point about the reduction of everything to power, a tendency that is seen more and more in our culture at large, and in subsets of the culture such as Roissyism. And your account also amazingly fits my illustration of dominance in the prison movie Fortune and Men’s Eyes, with its portrayal of a world in which everything has been reduced to the dynamics of homosexual sex and power/submission. One wonders how a culture can get any lower than this, when intelligent young people routinely describe the normal disciple-teacher relationship in terms of the lowest pit of human degradation. It’s the kind of thing that can make you throw up your hands like radio host Bob Grant used to do and say it’s time for a comet to hit the planet earth. Of course, to the Roissyites, the nihilisstic reductionism expressed by people today is cool, since it amounts to getting rid of “pretty lies,” which is Roissy’s declared mission. And by pretty lies, he means everything that is not power and sex. There are always some people who believe such things, that is nothing new. But when large numbers of people believe them, including large numbers of self-described conservatives, we are in trouble.

I just recently encountered the use of “bitch” in a somewhat similar context. After I had criticized Justin Fenton of the Baltimore Sun in early June for his article covering up the fact that all the perpetrators in a recent string of muggings in downtown Baltimore were black, a VFR reader sent me an e-mail that he had sent to Fenton. Here is the entire exchange:

From: Reader
To: justin.fenton@baltsun.com ; Lawrence Auster
Sent: Saturday, June 06, 2009 5:39.p.m.
Subject: Larry Auster just made you his little bitch


Bark for me, little doggie

From: Lawrence Auster
To: Reader
Sent: Saturday, June 06, 2009 6:07.p.m.
Subject: Re: Larry Auster just made you his little bitch

I don’t like language like this and I don’t understand your point. Language like that is not what VFR is about or what I’m about.

From: Lawrence Auster
To: Reader
Sent: Saturday, June 06, 2009 8:21.p.m.
Subject: Re: Larry Auster just made you his little bitch

I missed before that that was directed at the Baltimore Sun reporter.

Again, I completely disapprove of that kind of insulting, demeaning, disgusting, language, and even more so when it’s done in connection with me, even if it’s taking my side.

Never do anything like this again.

From: LA
To: Justin Fenton

Mr. Fenton,

I am revolted by what the reader of my website sent to you. I just want you to know that.

Lawrence Auster

From: LA
To: Justin Fenton

Mr. Fenton:

This is written to you, not to ___ _____, who is not going to be welcome at my site or my Inbox for a long while after the disgusting language he used….

(The exchange with Fenton, which returned to the issue of the coverage of race in his article, continues at VFR here.)

- end of initial entry -

August 22

James N. writes:

Then everything includes itself in power,
Power into will, will into appetite,
And appetite, a universal wolf,
So doubly seconded with will and power
Must make perforce a universal prey,
And last eat up himself.

William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida (I, iii,119-124)

August 23

D. from Seattle writes:

Very interesting comment from Sebastian on the use of prison terms (bitch, dissing, etc) among young professionals. I haven’t been following the recent discussion at the In Mala Fide site on the various aspects of the game—I am married so I don’t really care, although I am vaguely familiar with what the Game is.

Anyway, back to the topic: I am a Gen X myself, and have been in the software industry on the West Coast for a decade (both start-ups and big multi-nationals). I have never heard that type of disrespectful and unprofessional language (bitch etc) used at work. I wonder if that is specific to some industries or some professions or some regions? I honestly don’t think that sort of language would be tolerated in the high-tech industry. Back in the dot-com days every start-up was bending over backwards to attract qualified people, and if you felt “dissed” at one place it was very easy to jump to the next one, so behaving like that would have been hugely unproductive for the employers. Even in today’s economic climate with many people out of work, I can’t imagine tech companies tolerating that sort of behavior, both for the fear of lawsuits for workplace discrimination as well as to avoid risk of people jumping ship for nicer places to work.

Keep in mind also that tech industry is nerd central… however most people are smart and would be considered successful (at least economically), so I guess they don’t have that hard of a time finding girlfriends.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 21, 2009 11:49 PM | Send

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