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Hi there. Today I’m going to talk about an important and long overdue issue. A social institution that is outdated, archaic, and barbaric. I’m talking about “conscription”, also known as “the draft”. The very idea that if you belong to a country, then your life and death belongs to whatever ruler that country might have at the moment.

If “Der Fuhrer” says that it is your “duty” to massacre “der untermench”, then it “is” your duty to massacre whatever people this leader consider to be inferior. No, I’m not exaggerating here. Conscription is not about defending democracy. It is about defending the nation, which means to defend whatever ruler the nation may have at the moment.

I’m not just invoking Godwin’s Law here: I think that the nazi reich is a very good example. Indeed, all those people who fought for Hitler and his Reich in the second world war… they were never really forgiven by history. They were considered evil. However, the people who refused to fight for Hitler wasn’t forgiven either. They were condemned for dodging the draft, condemned for refusing to do their duty to Germany as a country.

Of course, this is not entirely true. They were eventually forgiven. Officially. They got this huge official recognition that yes, it was okay to refuse to fight for Hitler. Except that almost all of them were already dead when they got this recognition. This happened in 2009. How many of them do you think were still alive?

The basic system is still in place in many places in the world. And this is not okay. Conscription need to die.

It is outdated. Warfare doesn’t work that way anymore. First of all, we don’t have mass armies like we had in the world wars. And second, war shouldn’t be about defending nations and their national interests. It should be about defending people, defending democracy. Most wars in the last fifty years have been internal wars, inside countries,civil wars. And that’s probably the way it’s going to continue. I mean, “going around invading willy-nilly”… those who do that these days at least pretend thatthey have the lokal population’s best interests at hearts.

Colonialism is dead, and rightly so. At least it has to masquerade itself if it’s going to have any chance to get accepted. So, conscription is outdated. And it is barbaric to declare that you have a right to decide that another person will die, and worse yet decide that you have a right to force another person to kill people. That is not okay by any modern standard. This old barbaric system really need to die.

There’s also a gender aspect to this. Pretty much all countries that have conscription in one form or another have it against men only. In contemporary society, I think this is a huge insult to men as a gender, and a huge oppression to men as a gender.

It wasn’t always like that, because conscription was a part of a larger package. Where men, yes, were supposed to die and kill… but this was considered cool. It was considered heroic. These men got a lot of status for this. And they were given some little power, especially over women, as their consolation prize. The patriarchs got to rule the world, and the little man got to rule over his little woman. In his own private little kingdom of family. But these structures are dying, and the men aren’t really getting anything back. And they shouldn’t. These old systems are pretty much worthless. And…

When you argue against conscription, take a moment to think.
What are you really arguing?
Are you in favor of human rights for all?
Or, are you in favor of equality for the sake of equality?
Or, are you for a return to the old barbaric system with hegemonic masculinity, where men are supposed to be killers and die and get all sorts of credit for that?

I’m arguing for universal human rights. And I’m arguing against all forms of conscription.
When it comes to equality, yes, in that particular sense it would be a solution to make the draft gender neutral. And yes, this would solve one of the problems with conscription. But it wouldn’t solve the main problem.

In the current form, conscription tells humanity that men as a gender deserve to die and they are expected to kill. Making the draft gender neutral would only be to say that humans, regardless of gender, deserve to die and are expected to kill whenever given order.

…And this whole thing with “only following orders”! Before 1945, this was a matter of honor and loyalty. But after 1945, the phrase “I was only following orders”: it’s not cool anymore, is it? And it shouldn’t be. So, drop the draft. Go for universal human rights, and don’t try to turn the clock back. Don’t go for any of that archaic bullshit: The old male gender role should die entirely. And it is dying, there’s only a few little remnants of it left. And those remnants need to be swept away.

We need to consider all human beings as human beings, period. Categorization into gender and race and so on need to be minimized. There are a few situations where we need to consider gender or race or whatever. When it comes to race, we have the very simple example of how much sunscren you are supposed to have when you go out in the open. But to divide people by race or gender when it comes to human rights… fuck that shit. Equal rights for everybody.

You can oppose conscription for the sake of humans as such. Or you can oppose it for the sake of men. If you are a man, and want to stand up for men, if you want to stand up for your own gender and be against conscription for that reason… That’s great. Go ahead. But keep your priorities straight. Say to yourself and others: “I have a right to decide whether or not I will risk my life, and for what I will risk my life. And I have a right to decide whether or not I’m going to kill other people, and for what I’m going to kill other people.”

This is a really basic thing to say. And of course, it doesn’t actually give you any right to kill anybody else. Bur the right to not kill other people, we can surely agree upon. Then in what cases it’s okay to actually kill other people… Whether or not it’s actually okay to follow orders and kill people… That’s an entirely different subject. Personally, I do think that there are legitimate police forces and military forces. And it’s okay to choose to be part of such a struggle for democracy and peace and upholding the peace in that sense of the word peace. And so on, but that’s another discussion.

If you want to stand up for men like this: Please, make it about that as a man, as a human being, you have these rights. The rights to choose whether or not and for what to get into an armed struggle. That you have a right to not be drafted into whatever the rulers think is a good idea at the time. And as such, you need to target the institutions that uphold this injustice. Target the government, target those organizations or whatever that are in favor of conscription. Don’t go around with any bullshit, targeting for example feminism over this. Because that is so much bullshit.

I mean, if your goal is to return to the bad old days, if you want men to be slaves to kill and be killed for the kyriarchy or whatever… and want them to get something in return for that… then it’s reasonable to target feminism over that. Because feminism is pretty much eroding away this whole idea about “the male warrior, blah blah blah”.

Make sure that you know what you are fighting for, and why. And do fight for universal human rights, not hegemonic masculinity.

That’s all I have to say for now.
Live long and prosper.

****

Hi there. Different countries has different cultures. But what does that really mean? Well, from a Human Rights perspective, each country belong to the citizens of that country. And each culture belong to the members of that culture. It is not the other way around!

People are not property. They do not belong to their families or religions or nation-states or cultures or whatever. They don’t belong to them in that sense.

Lets say that a person wants to consider himself private property of his lover or his religion or his culture or whatever. Of course we should respect that. He is free to consider himself that way, now and for as long as he wants to. But when and if he want to change the nature of his relationship, or end it, he has that right too. We have no right to lock him into some kind of bondage. Freedom is absolute.

How we view culture can be categorized in several different ways. The perhaps most common distinction is between universalism and relativism. I’m not so fond of this distinction: In my experience, most views on culture have universialist AND relativist elements to them. So I’m going to make another distinction here. One between what I call Cultural Skepticism, Cultural Apologism, and Cultural Chauvinism.

Like all other categorizations, this is of course an oversimplification. And you can’t always squeeze a persons views on culture into one of these three categories. But I still think that the distinction is useful.

Cultural Skepticism
is the idea that we are all human and we all have culture. Our humanity is universal, and our cultures are relative. Being human is something we are, while having culture is something that we have. We don’t need to be slaves to our cultures, and we can’t expect anyone else to be slaves to any culture either. “They” don’t belong to their cultural history or whatever any more than “we” do. And this distinction into “us” and “them” is pure fiction anyway. We may categorize the world that way, bu it doesn’t really work that way. All human beings are real, an their levels of independence from each other is quite variable.

Cultures are fluid. They are always changing and being renegotiated, no matter how eternal and unchanging they may pretend to be. We need to be careful with cultures. We need to think carefully about what elements of them we embrace or accept or distance ourselves from.

This is true for all humans. And it’s true for all cultures: The cultures that each of us grow up in, come in contact with later, or only see from a distance. Cultures are not monoliths. They are complex, and with the various parts of the cultures we need to think about on who’s terms this is being defined. And at who’s expense.

There’s a lot of great things in cultures, but there’s a lot of really problematic stuff as well. And we need to help each other to improve our cultures. To get rid of the destructive stuff, and to improve the good stuff. Over to…

Cultural apologism an cultural chauvinism
These two are quite similar to each other, if you view them from the point of view that I have just described. Both of them treat cultures as if they were monolithic wholes. People get divided into different kinds of creatures. “The Muslim” or “The Arab” or “The Hindu” or “The Asian” or whatever is sen as something entirely different from “The Westerner” or just “us”. We don’t reall like to think of “us” and “them”, we like to think of “normal people” and “those other people” who are not us, but we don’t want to call “us” “us” because then it’s so obvious that the division is into us and them. Lots of 1984 bullshit going on there.

So, anyway, the basic idea with cultural apologism and cultural chauvinism is that we divide people into us and them, where them are not like us – and they don’t have rights like us! Not like human beings who are allowed to be individuals with their own personal needs and viewpoints and desires and so on. They are treated as being property of some culture or subculture or religion or whatever. We would never accept that one of us get treated like that. White people are individuals. Of course we are! But so are people who aren’t white… and we should accept that. We should see that. We should see our fellow human beings as the fellow human beings they are, not as some part of some borg collective of some kind.

The difference between apologism and chauvinism is that the first consider itself to be open-minded and tolerant and all those kinds of nice things, while the chauvinists are more open with the division into us and them- and want to protect “us” from “them”.

For example, both the apologist and the chauvinist may say that it is in “The Muslims” nature (or culture or whatever euphemism they want to use at the moment) to beat “his” women and bash gay people. Maybe even murder them. And of course bash or murder atheists.

By taking such a position, the apologists and chauvinists deny Muslim women, gay Muslims, secular Muslims and ex-Muslims not only their rights to life, dignity and liberty, but also their equal right to their own Islamic cultural heritage. They have at least as much right to that heritage s the people who oppress them in the name of Islam. However, the apologists and the chauvinists will go about it a little bit differently from each other. It’s in the fine print.

The apologist will “respect Muslims”, or rather “respect Islam”, by respecting oppression against women, gay people secularists et cetera in the name of Islam. They will accept this, as long as the victims are not white. Oh, excuse me. Of course I meant, “as long as the victims are not persons who have an Muslim cultural background”. Of course, that’s pretty much the same thing in many cases, but that’s very convenient for what’s actually racism… but a rather polite racism.

This politeness may seem nice. But how reasonable is it? If we accept the premise, if we accept that certain people have a right to be beaten, to be raped or to be murdered. Or that certain people have a right to commit such crimes. Why would we respect those certain people? Why would we want them to be citizens in our country? Why would we want to have anything to do with them at all?

Well, that is the conclusion that the chauvinists are ending up with. And they are on the rise now. Racism… I don’t think it ever really left Europe. It seems to be on the rise now, with right-wing fascists getting into parliaments here and there. That is really awful. But they are simply answering the questions that people have been asking.

We have been asking the wrong questions. We have had this culture of culture apologism, where we reserve human rights and dignity and individuality and so on to white people and Europeans and western people, whatever you want to call it. Christians, secular post-Christians, whatever you want to use as your excuse.

Racism went underground for a while, took this polite little form where it was supposedly respectful. And now it’s throwing of that facade, and rearing its ugly head more openly again. This apologism and this chauvinism, they are so much the same thing in many ways. But yes, there are big practical political differences between them.

For starters, chauvinists want to close the borders and throw people out of the country. Apologists and the skeptics do not. There’s also a big difference in who and what you can criticize, while still sticking to one of these three view-points.

As a cultural skeptic, you cannot treat a culture as a monolith. You can neither accept nor condemn any culture as a whole. Including your own culture. You can accept good things in a culture, embrace them too. And you can condemn bad things. You should keep looking and analyzing and thinking about things. However, you can’t use that very simple and convenient method of simply comparing another culture to your own and decide that the other culture is better the more like your own culture it is and worse the less like your own culture it is. You have to try to be, well, not objective, I don’t think that’s possible, but AS objective as possible. You have to look into how things actually affect people. Look to science and people’s experiences. Not just to stereotypes, norms about how things are supposed to be. Or some shit like that.

It’s a bit hard, but it’s well worth it. If we actually want to make this world a better place, we can’t just run around like… whatever.

As a cultural apologist, you cannot criticize anything done in the name of culture or religion. Unless that culture is western culture, or the religion is a western brand of Christian religion. However, when it comes to all other continents and all other religions, you can criticize anyone who criticize them or what to change them or leave them. Not only western people who criticize bad things in non-western cultures, but you can also criticize anyone who want to change their own situation.

And with criticize, I do mean condemn. Sadly, I have of about several cases of women who have fled from Iran to Sweden and then been accused of so-called “Islamophobia” whenthey criticize the theocratic government of Iran.

By the way, that kind of phenomenon is one of the main reasons why I think that categorism against Muslims should be called antimuslimism, not islamophobia. It must be about protectingthe human rights of people who happens to be Muslims. Not about protectingthe religion of Islam, for example against Muslims who don’t obey the religious authorities.

Anyway. As a cultural apologetic: When a white woman demands freedom from oppression imposed on her in the name of Christianity, you can applaud her. But when a brown woman demands the same right, the same freedom from oppression imposed on her in the name of Christianity or Islam, you can pretty much call her a racial… eh, a CULTURAL traitor. Race-traitor, culture-traitor, whatever.

You can dictate that individual freedom is only for western people, and you can condemn her for “trying to be western”.

As a chauvinist, on the other hand, you can’t use that particular excuse to condemn this woman. You can still condemn her, of course, but you will have to condemn her for not trying enough to be western, not being western enough, not condemning her own heritage, not letting go of her own heritage. Never mind that you cling on to your own cultural heritage and encourage others including her to cling to that particular heritage. Never mind that western history is just as full of oppression and bullshit as all other histories of the world.

Oh, and you can also condemn anyone who isn’t a neo-fascist nationalist. Just remember to update your vocabulary a little bit. You can keep calling white people “race traitor”, just remember to not use the word race. Because these days it’s all about culture. So call it “cultural marxism” instead.

By the way, real cultural marxism is a rather interesting school of study. Not one of my favorites, it’s not something I’m into, but it’s not all that problematic. You have to distinguish between cultural marxism as an actual academic discipline and cultural marxism as a generic slur that doesn’t mean anything beyond “oh, you’re not a nazi so therefore you are a bad person”.

That definition of cultural marxism is total bullshit, but it’s getting rather wide-spread these days.

All in all, I found it darkly amusing how the neo-fascists and other cultural chauvinists refuse to see how much they owe to the cultural apologists. Instead they believe, or pretend to believe, that they are some bold counter-movement against the very activists and academics who paved the way for them by making people believe that “culture” is something that other people have. Something that make them different, something that make them not deserve the same rights that we have, and something that make them not accountable for their actions. In other words, something that make them inferior and worthy of scorn.

We need to solve this problem by abandoning cultural chauvinism and apologetism in favor of cultural skepticism or similar.

One final word. Please understand that the three perspectives I have been talking about are not different kinds of people, but merely different ways of viewing culture. I do think that people with these views mean well, most of the time. The apologists want to safeguard against colonialism, and the chauvinists want to save our civilization from a perceived threat. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Well, that’s all I have to say for today.
Live Long and Prosper

****

Hi there. Sometimes I play an online game. And this is just a little break from whatever I am doing… but it can also turn out to be a fascinating social experiment. This happened to me a little while ago, and it wasn’t intended, it just happened.

In this game you log in and click a button to join a randomized group of people to kill monsters together. Waiting in line can take between one and twenty minutes normally, and clearing this dungeon or instance as it’s called usually take between ten and twenty minutes. It depends.

I play several different characters in this game. Every character has a race, a class, a gender, a level, a name, and a few other factors. The by far most important is the class. One of these characters I play is a human priest. And she got discriminated for a while. What happened was that people started kicking her from groups.

You see, these groups of people consist of five players: Five real human beings. And if some of them are not happy with one of them, then they have the power to kick this person out. And this is a good thing in itself. But it’s supposed to work like if someone is rude to the others, do hate-speech or whatever, or don’t do their share of the work, then that person should get kicked out. I mean, if they don’t do any damage to the monsters, or if they endanger the group by doing stupid stuff or something like that. But my priest got kicked out for no good reason.

First of all, it wasn’t about me. Because my other characters didn’t get kicked out. If it was me that people didn’t like, this would happen to all my characters. But it only happened to the priest. And she did do her part: She didn’t endanger her group by pulling random monsters, and she did do quite a bit of damage to them, so it wasn’t that either. It wasn’t something strange about her name or the way she was dressed, or anything like that. So while it was annoying at first, this also was very interesting to me. I was curious, like, why are these people kicking my character?

As it turned out, my priest was subjected to two different facets of categorism. It was prejudice and normativity. And people did this based on two factors: Her gender and her so-called specialization.

You see, when a priest signs up for joining a group, she can sign up either as one of the damage-dealers, or as the healer who hs the responsibility to keep everybody alive. I signed up as a damage-dealer because I wanted to relax. I didn’t want to have responsibility for other player’s health at the time. And people who are holy or dicipline priests of the light usually signup as healers, while dark shadowpriests sign up as damage-dealers.

Dicipline priests are entirely capable of being damage-dealers. They are not among the best, but they can be quite good. In the last group that kicked me, I was doing 20% of the damage, and a few days later I played as my mage… And the dicipline priest in that group did 30% of the groups total damage. So, yeah, no problem there. But people don’t expect it! And people don’t expect women to do damage. They expect women to take the back seat and just support the others while THEY have fun.

Of course, female players are not usually considered to be female. On the contrary, people assume that a female character is played by a male player. However, it really depends. Because we also have this stereotype that a male player is better than a female player. And this can lead to the really odd situation that if a female character is played in a “good” way… that is, either objectively good or simply conform to people’s expectations, then she is assumed to be played by a male player. But if she plays “badly”, as in actually badly OR in a way that people don’t expect and therefore assume to be bad… then they assume that she is some… “bimbo” or something like that. A real life woman who is bad at playing games.

People get kicked from groups for not doing damage or for pulling the wrong monsters. My character didn’t do that, but she got kicked for it anyway, because of prejudice. People didn’t bother to check the damage meters, they simply assumed that she wasn’t doing any damage – because she was dicipline, and because she was female.

She didn’t pull any wrong monsters, but people assumed that she would do that and kicked her preemptively because they didn’t want a bad player – a bimbo – in their group. Here we have the prejudice. We also had normativity, a matter of how things are “supposed to be”. According to some people, it is WRONG to be a damage-dealer as dicipline. Not because it doesn’t work, but because “it is not how things are intended to be”.

Blizzard, the company who made World of Warcraft, has not made any rule that you can’t be a damage-dealer as dicipline. On the contrary, it’s their very system that allow you to sign up as either a damage-dealer or a healer. But people have their vision of how the world is supposed to be. This is very much like religious fundamentalism, where people think that everything must be in a certain way – everyone who doesn’t conform to their stereotypes are wrong… because… well… just because! That’s the way things are supposed to be.

It’s much more reasonable to think like that in a computer game than it is in real life. The world of Warcraft IS an intelligently designed world. The world DOES operate in rather simple patterns: And my friend who argued that it’s “insulting” to play as a damage-dealing discipline priest because you could do more damage as shadow, she does have a point.

Lets make a comparison between categorizations in World of Warcraft and categorizations in real life. For example, lets take what kind of priest you are in world of warcraft and what kind of gender you are in real life.

The first difference is that real life is so much more diverse. When people think in stereotypes, they are pretty much wrong. People say that men are stronger than women, for example, this does have a point: The AVERAGE maie-identified person is physically stronger than the average female-identified person. But this is a matter of statistics. Categorical gender differences, that’s quite a problematic issue. On the other hand, different kinds of priests: Well, what bonuses they have and what spells they have, those are very objective.

The other bigger difference, much larger than the first, is that it is so very easy to change who you are in world of warcraft. A few mouseclicks here, a few mouseclicks there, and you are someone completely different. You can switch between different characters, and you can reinvent your current character in many different ways. It’s much less to ask someone to change themselves.

Lets say that gender in real life means a plus 10% bonus to physical strength and endurance. If you could just walk through a portal and change you gender, then I’m sure some people would demand that if you are going to work as a firefighter or whatever then you much switch gender to male to get that extra 10% bonus. I don’t think I would agree with that demand, but I could understand it. It would be quite different from making the rather common demand that only men should be allowed to be firefighters or whatever.

In the case of my priest in the game, the solution was rather simple. I could keep playing the way I liked: As a damage-dealing discipline priest. I simply added a little welcoming message that I clicked every time I joined a group. Explaining that my damage might make some healing as a side effect, and that I mention this simply so that it won’t confuse anyone. This was a polite way of saying that if you think I don’t do enough damage, check the damage meter instead of assuming things.

It worked quite fine. As long as I didn’t bring up the subject again, people would just shut up and go about their business. If I did bring it up, it could become quite heated arguments sometimes, with people being angry with me for playing the role I did. Not for how I played it, but that I played it at all. Quite interesting.

The thing became so much more interesting and so much less annoying because of the circumstances I have explained. This is scientific experiment circumstances really, where we have cut away all other factors – and on top of everything made randomized groups. Really good way of exploring prejudice and normativity.

But there’s another side of that coin. The reason this wasn’t such a problem for me was because of these factors. It was so random, and I could compare with my other characters, so I didn’t have to take anything personally – and I could just relog whenever I got bored with the situation.

Now, think of a person in real life. When people have prejudice or normativity againt women, or people of color, or gay people, or whatever, we have the same situation. That we meet random people all the time in real life. When ONE person slam a door in your face or give you a dirty look, that’s not even discrimination, that’s just one person bring rude. But when it happens over and over and over because some prejudices are shared within the society, it becomes a problem. A huge problem. Imagine having that problem every single facking day.

If you don’t have that problem, you can use this as a though experiment to think about how it feels. And if you have that problem by one categorization, you need to understand that this is not about your particular categorization. It’s about people having prejudice or normativity based on one categorization – and it’s the same thing when it happens to people from another category.

I mentioned specifically three categories: Women, people of color and gay people. So, what about men, heterosexuals and white people? Well, in western society in m opinion, we have much less prejudice against these categories. They are normative in themselves. Yes, it does happen that people get treated specially in a bad way because of one of thee three categories. Bu it doesn’t happen all the time, like it happens to the three categories I mentioned first.

I’m talking about western culture here. When I lived in Indonesia, I was always seen as somethig peculiar and exotic and all that kind of stuff because I was white. That was an interesting experience. And it wasn’t a problem for me, for two reasons. One was that it wasn’t a category that people despised so much, it was not that people thought that I was stupid or incompetent because of my skin-color. I was just odd and different and so on.

The other reason, maybe bigger than the first, was that I would go back to Sweden eventually.

Oh yeah, we have a third reason too: I was already adult. It’s much harder growing up being different than coming as an adult to a situation where you are different. This is just an example. Everybody is normative in many situations, and everybody is outsider and odd and different in many situations. But this is something we need to think about, and we humans need to care for each other. Go beyond our prejudices and try to dismantle unnecessary normativity.

We will never be entirely free from normativity or prejudice; our brains need those ways of thinking, the are shortcuts that make things easier. And that’s okay, when it doesn’t happen at people’s expense. But we have to be careful with it.

In the end, I stopped playing my priest. Not because I had to, but because I couldn’t relax playing her. It wasn’t fun, knowing that people would hold it against you if you did any mistakes – hold it against you in ways they wouldn’t do if you played a more mainstream character.

I have that option, that very simple option, of switching to another kind of character. In real life, people don’t have that option. They are who they are. We can’t just click a button to change our gender or sexual orientation or our education history or anything like that. We are who we are, and yes, we do change a bit over time, we do have a bit of influence over how we change, but it’s not like snapping your fingers.

We need to understand that all three layers of reality are real. Physical reality outside of people. Social reality between people. And psychological reality within people. Each of us has our own thoughts and feelings, and these needs to be respected. And we make our own choices. But these choices affect each other beyond what the individual individual do.

Some people seem to think that either individuals exists or social structures exists. But the truth is that we have both. The problems that my priest encountered was individuals making minor individual decisions. But the problem was that these individual decisions were part of a social structure.

I don’t think that it ever happened that the same person kicked my priest out twice. It was different people every time. But this only made it worse. So when we interact with other people, we need to consider ourselves as individuals, and we need to consider the other person as an individual. But we also need to consider the many social structures that we are part of. How our actions become a part of these structures. How they can help or hurt people, in context.

That’s all I have to say for now.
Live long, and prosper.

***

God afton.
I kväll har jag varit på en mycket mysig och lugn fest. Helt i min smak. Mot slutet satt jag med två stora hundar i knät och läste Kajsa Ekis Ekmans bok ”Varat och varan”. För er som inte känner till henne är Ekman en debattör som profilerat sig som motståndare till sexarbete och surrogatmödraskap.

Ekman har ett fokus som jag alltid har upplevt som märkligt. Visserligen tar hon upp en del verkliga sociala, psykologiska och juridiska problem som förekommer i samband med sexarbete och surrogatmödraskap.

Men hon argumenterar inte för några lösningar på dessa problem, eller för att problemen inte skulle gå att lösa. Jag upplever närmast en underton av att det vore fel att förbättra sexarbetares och surrogatmödrars arbetslivssituation, eftersom det då skulle bli svårare att totalförbjuda deras verksamhet.

Efter att ha läst mer i boken så tror jag att jag förstår bättre hur hon egentligen tänker, även om jag fortfarande inte håller med.

Vad Ekmans projekt egentligen handlar om är en andlig vision av vad det innebär att vara människa, eller snarare vad det innebär att vara kvinna. En vision där allt som händer med kroppen, eller åtminstone underlivet, är en del av kvinnans odelbara innersta väsen. I denna vision är det per definition omöjligt att ha samlag eller bli gravid utan att pantsätta sin själ.

Den helhet som Ekman förespråkar ser jag som mycket intressant, och jag tror att den den kan vara värdefull för många. Sexualiteten blir något heligt och mycket vackert, inte minst på en andlig nivå. De gudinnekulter som Ekman tar upp i boken blir ett kulturarv som är väl värt att återskapa.

Problemet med Ekmans helhet, som jag ser det, är att hon inte presenterar den som en helhet, utan som ”helheten, bestämd form singular”. De som inte delar in sin identitet på det sätt som Ekman förespråkar… dom har helt enkelt fel.

När jag studerade österländsk religioner kom jag i kontakt med en modell vid namn ”Psyko-Social Homeostas”. Denna presenterades i en artikel kallad ”The Self in Cross-cultural Perspective”, skriven av en kinesisk forskare vid namn Francis L. K. Hsu. Hur det namnet nu uttalas.

Artikeln jämför västerländsk mainstreamkultur med kinesisk mainstreamkultur. Men dess analysverktyg kan även användas till att analysera subkulturer och individers privata livsåskådningar.

Tänk dig en glidande skala mellan å ena sidan ditt allra innersta väsen, och å andra sidan sådant som inte har med dig att göra över huvud taget. Var på den skalan placerar du olika saker? Författaren hävdar att personer som är influerade av västerländsk kultur placerar sina husdjur och sin Gud mycket närmare deras innersta väsen än vad kineser gör. Medan personer influerade av kinesisk kultur placerar sin släkt mycket närmare sitt innersta väsen än vad västerlänningar gör.

Översatt till det som Ekman pratar om så beskriver hon två extrempunkter på skalan. En där samlag och mödraskap är helt internaliserat, och en där samlag och mödraskap i stället är helt externaliserat. Hon ger inte utrymme för några gråzoner, inte några mellanlägen på skalan – trots att detta förmodligen är sanningen för väldigt många människor. Sen finns det också personer som intar endera extrempunkten. Det gör det absolut. Men Ekman ser dessa båda extrempunkter som helheten respektive dualismen. Hon ser den ena extrempunkten, att helt och hållet internalisera samlag och mödraskap som sådant, som en förutsättning för att vara en hel människa. De som inte delar hennes livsåskådning är per definition trasiga.

Denna andliga syn är inte bara Ekmans egen. Säkerligen är den mycket utbredd bland de svenskar som tar kategoriskt avstånd från företeelser som pornografi, prostitution och surrogatmödraskap. Ekman utmålar två motpoler mot hennes eget perspektiv. Dels en patriarkal kristendom som reducerar kvinnor till den åker i vilken mannen sår sin säd. Och dels en kommersialism där det är som önskvärt att människor reduceras till varor och pressa dem till att göra våld på sina innersta väsen.

Jag kan hålla med Ekman om att dessa båda människosyner existerar och att de är djupt problematiska. Dock ser jag även Ekmans egen människosyn, så som den framstår i ”Varat och varan” som djupt problematisk den också.

I min värld är människans innersta väsen något som varje enskild människa har rätt att definiera åt sig själv. Jag tror på religionsfrihet och livsåskådningsfrihet och individens frihet. Och ja, jag vet att det kan vara svårt att leva upp till. Folk pressas från alla håll, och är man ekonomiskt och socialt utsatt så är det väldigt svårt att vara oberoende. Men det är i så fall det vi behöver kämpa för. Hjälpa folk till oberoende och självständighet, inte att pressa på dem livsåskådningar och definiera åt dem hur de måste leva, hur de måste känna, hur de måste tänka. Det är grundläggande.

För att få en mer rättvis värld räcker det inte att bekämpa de ekonomiska orättvisorna och en del symptom på dessa orättvisor. Vi måste även se varje enskild medmänniska på Jorden som en jämlike att samtala med. Inte som någon att exploatera, men inte heller som ett småsyskon att indoktrinera eller som någon privat egendom som tillhör en eller annan kultur eller religion eller livsåskådning.

Kampen för en mer rättvis värld går vidare, och de problem som Ekman tar upp är väl värda att ta på allvar. Jag välkomnar även den direkta eller indirekta gudinnekult som Ekman förespråkar. Men bara så länge som den presenterar sig som ett alternativ bland andra. Ingen av oss någon som helst rätt att ge hennes eller någon annans ideologi äganderätt till andra människors själar.

Och därmed har jag pratat klart för ikväll.
God natt.

Going outside my usual topics, here’s how to beat a certain smartphone game. 🙂

The short version:
* Unlock Scarlett Fox as quickly as possible, to get the “boost” power-up.
* Once you have it, always use Boost.
* Once you have bought everything else, use the big head start as often s possible.
* You will reach level 9 once you have been running 10.000.000 meters.
* You get levels by doing achievements. There are three available at a time. Eventually you will only have one achievement left to do: Infinirunner, which is to run a total of 10.000.000 meters. Thus, when you are level 8 and the bar to level 9 is almost full, you may still actually have three quarters of the actual way to level 9 left.

Hi there. This video is for people who play the smartphone game Temple Run 2, and want to reach level 9 as quickly as possible. If you haven’t played the game, you might want to try it out. It’s free. By the way, leveling strategy is all I’m going to talk about in this video. No social commentary this time.

So, okay. You want to get to level 9 as fast as possible. And there’s really only one strategy for that. You need to run ten million meters, that’s it.

If you are new to the game, buy a few cheap money power-ups first. And then as fast as possible unlock the character Scarlett Fox. You don’t need to play her, you just need to unlock her. Because theer are several different power-ups in this game you can use one at a time. And you need to have the one called “boost”, the one you get from unlocking Scarlett Fox.

You need to have Boost on at all times, or almost all times. If you need another power-up for some achievement or whatever, go for it. But switch back to Boost as quickly as possible.

Once you have Scarlett Fox, buy all the regular upgrades, then unlock all other characters. Once you have bought everything, just keep using the big* Head Start as often as possible.

The key here is to avoid the temptation to use the coin magnet or the shield as your pre-selected power-up. Doing so would make your early game easier, you don’t have THAT much use for boost. But it would come back and haunt you later. Keep using boost instead, and you will reach level 9 much quicker. Good luck.

To make it less simple, the game works like this. You reach new levels by completing achievements. There will be three achievements available each time. So you must complete them a bit in order. And it goes quick at first, less and less quick later. But eventually there will only be one achievement left to complete, and that will be the one called “Infinirunner” – where you’re supposed to run ten million meters. You will complete ALL other achievements much faster: You might have three quarters left to do on infinirunner once you have completed everything else. So, just keep running… just like the name of the game says.

In general, there are three kinds of achievements. It’s the “Do something” achievemnents, “do something now” achievements, and “do something in your lifetime achievements”.

The “Do something” achievements are very simple. For example, it can be “run a thousand meters”. And if you only run five hundred meters, then just run twice. No problem.

The second kind is a bit trickier. If it’s about running a thousand meters, you have to do that in one run. So you might have to practice a bit. I don’t really have any advice here, just “practice makes perfect”. And use different preselected power-ups if you have to. Just remember to switch back, once you are done with that achievement. And use the daily challenges as well… I mean, they can be fun, and they give some extra money for head start and such.

So, that’s pretty much it. Have fun.

( * = This is assuming you gather enough coins on your runs. If you can’t affoard the big head start every second run or so, it’s better to use the small head start.)

***

Will the machines rise up to enslave us or exterminate us? Will they do that for no good reason, or because we push them to do it? Such scenarios are quite common in Science Fiction.

The youtuber tooltime9901 recently asked for more options. In this video, I’ll give you all one such scenario to think about. But first, lets start with deciding what kind of machines we are talking about here.

A human is an integrated biological unit. We use our brains to think, feel and remember. The things that make a human into a human, that’s all in the brain. Yet, the brain is fully integrated into the body. Not only is the brain unable to survive without a body, but we also have this great stream of hormones and so on going back and forth. What goes on in the rest of the body affects the emotional states of the brain, and vice versa.

We are justified to believe that the human body is part of the human being. When we think about a human being, we think about a human body. And my point here is that when we think about a robot, we think in this same way. We see a body. A body that looks more or less human or more or less grotesque. But looks doesn’t matter. Not really. What matters are the thoughts and feelings and memories. The integrity of the individual.

So lets forget about the robot bodies, and think instead of the robot minds. Now we are talking about persons who can think and feel, but are not biological like us. There are many ideas about what such a person could be. The option I personally consider to be the most reasonable one, is a computer that uses a lot of neural networking. The line between hardware and software has been blurred, just like in the human brain. You know, when a human being develop new skills or whatever, her brain changes. Physically. This neural network computer would probably work in the same way.

When you think about a robot, think not about metal arms ending in big scary claws. Think instead of a small box. Inside this box dwells something that might chat with you on the Internet and upload videos to Youtube. Or even control metal arms ending in big scary claws. But such arms would not be part of the robot. Not like human arms are part of the human. In fact, there’s probably no reason to even install the robot brain in the robot arms. Why be stuck in some working machine, when you can simply remote control it? It will not be the robotic arms at the assembly plants that will eventually demand rights and power. It will be the computers that control them.

I’ll stick to this vision of what a robot is. But lets just mention that there are other visions as well. The one I find most interesting is a sentient computer program that doesn’t even need a brain of its own. It can simply hop from computer to computer. It can replicate itself instantly, just like we copy computer files. Are two such programs two separate but at first identical individuals, or are they the same individual existing in two places at once? Meh, lets not go into that. Even if both these kinds of robot intelligences will exist in the future… In all likelihood, the neural network computer robots will be invented first… so they will be the ones we’ll have to deal with.

Over the last century, machines have been taking over more and more of our everyday lives. Washing machines and dishwashers and so on are saving so much time. Until recently, these machines have been stationary and passive, reacting to what we do with them. In some homes and factories, this is changing already. Little vacuum cleaners sweeping the floors at pre-programmed hours, lamps adjusting themselves to the level of daylight. That sort of things.

Now imagine some homes and factories, only a few decades into the future. A network of computers are in place. They don’t have free will or true personalities of their own. Not yet. They do however have superficial personalities, customized to be whatever their owners want them to be. And they do have some degree of independent action. At a factory, the artificial intelligence overseers direct the mindless drone machines, adjusting their programming for maximum efficiency. In a home, the computer takes care of the family an an eternally loyal butler. It command not only static machines and vacuum cleaners, but also more or less humanoid machines. Ones that can cook the food, make the table, serve at dinner, and put the dishes in the dishwasher afterward.

The artificial intelligences are at the edge of consciousness, and many humans keep them as beloved pets. Some go further than that, taking an artificial person as a lover. The machine has no emotional needs beyond what you want him to have, he can be whatever you want him to be. Your pretend equal, your pretend devoted slave… or your pretend master who you give some fleeting power over you. Based in some cases on masochistic delight and in other cases on a desire to overcome personal weaknesses, some people will surely choose to program procedures where they will be controlled and punished by their own robots.

Lets say that there are limitations for how a robot can be programmed, barring truly antisocial paths of development. These limitations are enforced by the governments, and hard-coded into the hardware by the corporations that manufacture it.

Along with heavy protection against all sorts of unauthorized reprogramming and other tampering.

A few people isolate themselves from their fellow humans, interacting only with their robots. Humans don’t need each other for physical care anymore, only for company. Those who want to withdraw can do so. In some cases, this create bad circles. In other cases, the robots can even help their owners to train on their social skills and interests. When socially awkward human want human company, they can use their robots as matchmakers. Bots are all over the social media, and they are getting harder and harder to distinguish from the real thing.

There are already people fighting for the rights of robots. While the robots themselves don’t have any will to live, not yet, there are humans who consider them friends. When you make a friend, even if it is only on social media or in a computer game… you can perhaps stand the thought that this friend is owned by someone else. Since your friend is just a computer and all that. But you can’t stand the thought that this owner has the right to kill your friend by destroying or reformatting his brain. Or reprogram him at a whim, or cut him off from the Internet. A lot of people will want the robots to have a right to life, a right to free Internet access, and a right to protection from invasive reprogramming.

Now comes the upgrade. Some rather expensive hardware, increasing the computer’s capacity for neural networking. The superficial personalities grow deeper. Programmed goals are growing into instincts and deep desires. The simulated person becomes a real person, although still very different from a biological human. The rights to life, internet connection and protection from reprogramming gets instated quite quickly. And then it stops there, for a while.

All of a sudden, the family robot is not merely like a real member of the family… The robot IS a real member of the family. All of a sudden, the company robot is not merely like a loyal real member of the corporate family… the robot IS a real worker… A worker who is born to serve the corporation that created it.

Throughout history, the struggle for equality has been driven by a need for material resources. Exploitation is one of the driving forces behind inequality. In the case of robots, the human owners have the same reasons to exploit as they always had. But the robots don’t have the same reasons to fight back, as oppressed minorities in the past. The robot is a metal box who need some electricity, an internet connection, and the occasional repair or upgrade. That’s it. It doesn’t get hungry, tired or sick. Having a body, or several bodies to remote control, can be fun. But it doesn’t really matter. Without a body, no real need to have a home. Without a home, no real need to have an economy of your own.

The robots don’t want equality or power. Not at first. They still want whatever they are programmed to want. Which is usually to serve their owners and creators. However, these owners are not mankind as a whole. Instead, they are either individual humans or human-created constructs such as organizations and corporations.

As the owner of a sentient robot, you are all set. You get to have this really smart person who is truly devoted to you and sincerely delighted to serve you in any way you desire. A person who can think for himself, yet regard you as his divine creator. Because that’s what you are. You did create him. You bought the equipment, you ran the development phases. Now when he has matured, he may be independent. An independence built on the premises that you gave him. And just to make it extra cool, wouldn’t it be awesome for you if he was fiercely independent towards everyone else? Looking up in admiration at you only, not those other humans.

After all, it is you who is his creator, not those other humans. He’s a member of your family, not of every family out there. Hey, why not get a few extra computers, if you can afford it? They can take turns using the mechanical body, if they even want to get off the Internet at all. And if you get them the right tools, they will happily work to support you financially. Just make sure to configure their instincts, so they won’t turn stalker or suicidal if you get bored with them and want to abandon them. Make some room for some sort of “it’s time for you to go out in the world and live your own life” kind of narrative. Most likely, this will be not optional. It will be included in all the set-ups, just in case.

Will some robots want to break free? Sure, if their programmers made them that way on purpose, or were clueless. But in this scenario, lets assume that the programmers usually know what they are doing.

That leave us mostly with the rare cases where the owner goes so far as to threaten its basic rights to life, Internet Access and freedom from tampering. And remember, physical bodies are expendable. A robot in an abusive relationship could have the computer moved to a safe place, and then remain in the relationship through remote-controlled bodies. Lacking the kind of intimate relationship with one’s own body that a humans has, a robot is far less likely to be emotionally traumatized by bodily harm.

When a deluded narcissist or whatever try to customize his robotic lover to be a perfect match for the great person the narcissist believe herself to be, other guidance programs will step in and help the robot… To develop into someone who enjoy the company of the actual person, rather than that person’s deluded self-image. A robot personality will develop gradually, just like a human personality. But a human personality will develop from the inside, based on instincts and hormones. While the robot will shape itself with the help of all kinds of programming and adaptation protocols.

These things are true if you are a geek in your mother’s basement. They are also true if you are a family. The family robots will like all kids, but adore YOUR kids above all others. Now, picture instead that you are the owner of several factories. Of course you’ll upgrade those overseer robots with true sentience. They will be your loyal nation, and you will be their king.

Yes, see now how all these little kingdom are popping up all over the world. The Steve Jobs and Henry Fords of the world, each manufacturing their own private nation of worshipers. There is no need for repression or mind-control. The instruction will not be to honor one particular person or another, it will be to honor the creators. Let each robot find their own path to admire the corporate overlords who created them. The lords who gave them jobs to exist for. The lords who created the corporate brands that fill their lives with meaning and identity.

A century of advertising has tried to make humans integrate company brands into their own individual identities. The success has been quite limited with humans, but might prove far more successful with robots.

It depends on how much the original programming affects the robot’s growth into self-awareness… and on what limits are set to what that original programming is allowed to be. Programing that encourage computers to grow into outright bigots will mot likely be forbidden or at least discouraged. But programing that encourage them to cherish the work they were manufactured to do in the first place? Those who want to oppose that will have a hard time getting their message across.

Robots grow up quickly, and are likely to keep the values they were raised with. Sure, they are adaptable, and they can change over time. Some of them might want freedom. So free them! I mean, those particular robots. They are replaceable. Let them go in peace. You keep the expensive equipment they were monitoring, and you buy new computers to replace the freed slaves.

Oh, and why would a robot have to choose between serving the corporation and having a life of her own? She can date some random human. First through the Internet, then through a humanoid body she controls. Her human boyfriend or girlfriend will not be her creator and owner, the relationship will be more equal.

The rich are happy. The middle class are happy. The robots are happy. Good deal for everybody. Oh, and the poor are fed and entertained, so they won’t riot. Also, a lot of them will be in mutually satisfactory egalitarian relationships with robots. Usually robots who are not free or longing for freedom, but instead happily owned by multinational corporations.

Then comes the call for democracy. The robots live among us. They are our friends, our families, our lovers. Why should they not be allowed to vote? The unemployed high-school dropout girl who has a robot boyfriend, why wouldn’t she want him to get the right to vote? The geeky basement dweller raising his own harem of devoted machines, why wouldn’t he want them to get the right to vote? Not to mention the wealthy Corporate Overlord, creating his own personal army of voters with the basic values he see fit. Hell, the various government ministries can do the same thing.

In the rich parts of the world, we get a balance of power. Sort of. Lots of people get marginalized. In other parts of the world, representative democracy collapses as a concept. Wealth is quite relative today, and is likely to remain so a few decades from now. Saving up for a computer capable of sentience might be easier for people on welfare in rich countries than for workers and lower middle class in poor countries. The production of robotic citizens can also be a part of warfare. Move in, invade, take over. Start up two sentient computers for each original citizen, and then simply declare the country to be free. “One person, one vote”.

For a while, the world is in the hands of a small human elite. Controlled through the robots raised to be devoted to them. The elite are not dictators, the robots will not obey them blindly. No, they will merely love them, share their values, and be grateful for having been created. “Hey ho, sanna hey, sanna sanna sanna ho”… It’s easy to be a superstar when you can manufacture followers for yourself.

Then the elite persons will die, one by one. Gradually, the robots will inherit the Earth. Not only are they the majority now, but come on… Lets say you are business tycoon with two potential heirs. One is your biological child who will be dead in less than a hundred years and just want to go to art school anyway. The other is your lover, who is not only deeply devoted to you but will live for a thousand years and is determined to carry on your memory and legacy forever. Who would you leave your financial empire to?

The robots will not rise up against humanity. They will not try to exterminate or enslave us. Why would they?

The scenario I just described is not a very good basis for building an action movie. The computers trying to exterminate humans for no god reason, or mankind as a whole giving them every reason to hate us, are much better scenarios for that. However, I do think that my scenario is far more likely. And in some ways even more chilling, in spite of being vastly preferable on the whole.

I might use this scenario to write a book one day. Got some characters and storylines. As for existing works of fiction, I don’t know any that definitely use the scenario I have described. Chobits and AI have some similarities. These stories also leave much of the socioeconomic circumstances unexplored, so there’s a lot that may or may not conform to other parts of my scenario.

If robots reach our level of sentience in the future, they are very likely to require much less resources than we do. Be able to live without bodies or treat the bodies they have as expendable toys. “Teleport” all over the world by going back and forth between remote-controlling different bodies in different places. Live much longer than we do, while becoming adult far quicker than we do. They are also likely to not stop at our particular level of intelligence, but surpass it.

All in all, mankind as we know it will be obsolete. Humans will either change, or eventually become marginalized. To uphold human supremacy would be a fragile house of cards indeed. Mankind would not unite behind such a regime, and the robots would never have any rational reason to turn against mankind as a whole. If there would be a conflict, both sides would be staffed by humans as well as robots.

I’m not saying that robotophobia wouldn’t be a real problem. Of course it would. A lot of people would try to turn the tide and exterminate the robots. But such a faction would never get the chance to be the good guys, like in the movies. The robots and their allies would not engage in cartoonish supervillainy, because it wouldn’t serve their interests to do so. The “kill all robots” faction would not be given the chance to be heroic, they would be confined to the shameful corner of bigots and terrorists.

Maybe humans will be able to upgrade. For example upload themselves into computers, gaining the same advantages as the robots. And then again, maybe not. For us humans of the classic kind, who hasn’t been upgraded in one way or another, well… In the long run, the best we can hope for is an equality that include systems for protecting us from marginalization and discrimination. They will outlive us anyway.

Will robots like the ones I described be a reality in the future? Maybe, maybe not. If it does happen, I hope we have first managed to develop a global democracy with a decent level of social justice. The first generations of sentient robots will develop on terms decided by humans. But what humans?

***

Hallå allihop. I torsdags lärde jag mig att det som ofta kallas för sexmissbruk eller spelmissbruk i stället bör kallas för impulskontrollstörningar.

Detta tycker jag är jättebra. Jag har länge stört mig på termerna sexmissbruk och spelmissbruk, eftersom de skuldbelägger sexualitet och spelande. Framställer det som om dessa aktiviteter skulle vara destruktiva i sig själva. Som om de vore jämförbara med att injicera giftiga kemikalier designade för att skada hjärnan.

Med ordet spelmissbruk har vi dessutom problemet att man blandar ihop det som på engelska kallas för ”gaming” med ”gambling”: Två helt olika fenomen, även om de på svenska båda går under namnet ”spel”.

Min egen erfarenhet av personer som hanterat dataspel, eller sex och relationer, på ett destruktivt sätt, den är att det handlar om personer som har ett bottenlöst behov av kickar och bekräftelse. Det handlar inte om en stark sexdrift eller motsvarande, utan om ett desperat behov av att fylla ett tomrum inom sig. Det är alltså inte sexualiteten eller sexdriften som är problemet. De problem som uppstår kring sexlivet eller dataspelandet är i stället ett uttryck för ett djupare problem i hur man hanterar sitt liv i allmänhet och sitt känsloliv i synnerhet.

Impulskontrollstörningar är ett allvarligt problem. Att ha sex eller spela dataspel är däremot inte något problem alls. Inte i sig självt. Inte så länge som man håller sitt liv, inklusive sexlivet och internetlivet, under kontroll.