Picking Your Battles

History is class struggle, but within this class struggle exist the individual struggles that make up our lives. In these individual struggles, one must pick and choose the right battles to fight or not to fight in order to have any chance to survive getting involved in the class struggle. There is an interesting historical anecdote about General Robert E. Lee regarding his life after the Civil War. At a mass at his local Southern Episcopal Church right after the War, at communion time the first person to get in line to receive communion was an elderly Black man recently freed from slavery as a result of the War; this was the congregation’s first encounter with the supposedly new integrated South and it simply sat in stunned silence with no one knowing what to do. Until, one elderly but distinguished man got up from his pew and got into line behind the Black man; then, others joined the communion line. According to the story, the man second in line was the recently discharged veteran General Lee. At some point, even after the greatest and most hateful of struggles, if one actually believes in life more than death as meaning in life, one has got to let go and get on with life. Unlike the concepts of race and racism, getting involved in language self-identity battles — be they sex, gender, feminist, or whatever — are not battles worth fighting and should be let go quickly if begun. Once one accepts that language including its words and the meaning of its words is a social construct, it is conceptually inconsistent, holistically illogical, and practically hypocritical and wasteful to engage in individual battles of self-identity either with the proverbial Self or any of the so-called Other or Others and to get involved with self-identity politics unless they have a class struggle component. Fighting worthless battles distracts and detracts from the class struggle that really does ultimately identify and define us.

 
I have contemplated elsewhere the reality of self-identity. The existential reason for one’s existence that makes up one’s soul or the spiritual reality of the proverbial Self precedes the social construction of language and is not something of which we can speak in language — except perhaps at best indirectly or implicitly through the illusions and delusions of aesthetics. The battle for one’s soul and its demons will always be a private battle fought in silence. But, the unfortunate or fortunate reality is also that the meaning of the words “one’s self-identity” or anything similar trying to mean the self-identity of the Self is a social construction created by social construction through the Self’s struggles with Others and by struggles among Others. It is fortunate that there is no self-identified purely private self-identity because if there really were a “self-identity” created only by the Self, there will be no way to avoid solipsism and the possibility that we spend our whole lives talking to ourselves — either as a mind of ideas or as a material brain in a vat. The unfortunate reality is that “one’s self-identity” is what society says it is; you are what Others say you are even if your Self disagrees with it. It is only through the social construction of language that we know we are not alone. Take away social behavior and its resulting language in either direct form or indirect form such as by the experience that makes up memory and there is nothing remaining of “self-identity”. The unfortunate and fortunate reality is that if society and its social construction of language call you or name your identity as a wimp, tomboy, feminine male, masculine female, A or B type personality, as Blackness or Whiteness or whatever race, or as whatever, regardless of how distasteful you find it or how much you dislike being called such words, those words are your identity including your self-identity.

 
Can you try to change your self-identity created by social construction? Yes, struggling for such change is an option. At one time, a social construct “feminine male” for example would start lifting weights, getting involved in physical sports, and be socially aggressive in order to change how social construction identifies them. Now, the option exists to do actual physical surgery converting the physical appearance of someone in order to avoid the “feminine male” identity. The same is true for the reverse. It may work, but it may not. It may occur, as is occurring now, that the concept of “feminine male” will be phased out, be considered bigoted, and replaced by concepts such as transgender or one of the many new socially constructed genders; or, the entire social construct process of assigning feminine and masculine attributes may eventually be phased out in favor of unisex attributes. This latter progression is not that unusual in English because English lacks the grammatical genders contained in Romance Languages such as Latin, French, Italian, and so forth. Unlike these languages, many of our English words and their meanings are and have always been unisex. (As always, the French post-modern and other continental intelligentsia and their worshipers here in American intelligentsia who are so quick to criticize and ridicule English and American language use and usefulness should look at their own glass houses first before throwing stones at ours.) In which case, your new social construct self-identity may be transgender or apparently whatever you want it to be seems to be the new language fad. Regardless, no one controls their self-identity, it is controlled by what social construction is willing to accept. It may be willing to accept only two genders, it may be willing to accept six billion genders; either way, your self-identity is what society and especially its ruling class says it is. Sure you can disagree with it and thus add to the struggle that is life, but is it worth the battle? Is it worth the battle for your Self to fight with the Others who are struggling with their self-identity?

 
Whether one needs or wants to fight their social construct self-identity is a personal struggle all individuals should be free to make. Frankly, if “acceptance” of your self-identity requires that you physically or surgically start cutting off or cutting out healthy parts of your healthy body, I would suggest that you would be better off in acceptance of your social construct self-identity and in the forgetting of whatever your Self’s self-identity may be; however, ultimately, it is your body and your decision to make and you will get no struggle from me on making it.

 
However, what about when this self-identity struggle becomes a public struggle? That is, what about when individuals start demanding social support and perhaps social expenditure upon their individual struggle to change their socially constructed self-identity? This is when intelligent choices need to be on what battles to fight and which not to fight. The guide to use is: first, determine how the battle will affect class struggle; then, if there will be no adverse effect or it will be minimal, go onto more important battles and let the individuals struggle and perhaps even change social construct self-identities.

 
Perfect examples of how this process ought to work are the present ongoing feminist demands and resulting disputes on whether transgenders and the like will be allowed to compete athletically with their social construct opposites or to use their bathrooms — such as allowing transgender females to compete in women’s sports and to use women’s bathrooms and the reverse though the reverse seems to be much less common. This is simply a battle not worth fighting. If feminists really want transgender females to compete in women’s sports, let them. The worse that can happen is that the transgender females will win. This is not a class struggle; if women have a problem with feminists advocating and successfully getting want they want in society, let them work it out among themselves. Similarly, there is the issue of bathroom use. Feminists want transgender females to use female bathrooms, fine, let them. If this is a problem, let them work it out among themselves, it is not a class struggle. I have no problem with a transgender male using a male bathroom with me; compared to some of the things I saw in public bathrooms growing up in the Chicago area and while in the Navy, I doubt this would even raise an eyebrow if I saw it (try imagining what a Navy shipboard crew’s head looks like after sanitary tanks were inadvertently blown inboard instead of outboard — not a pretty site or smell). If you are concerned about a daughter who might not feel safe in such a public bathroom with a transgender female, teach her to deal with it as necessary. A truly independent woman should be able to deal with and know how to feel and be safe in a lot worse things and experiences in life then what may be or may not be a dude using her public restroom. When the feminists start feeling unsafe in their bathrooms, they will quickly abandon the transgender source of their discomfort anyway and amend feminist dogma so as to oppose it.

 
The same is usually true of most feminist struggles: better just give them what they want and avoid the battle. Feminists want women to be treated equally as men treat each other? Fine, treat them so. Men treat each other very badly is the reality of the patriarchy; if feminists want the same treatment, fine. Such surrender to the feminist struggle is much better than the present state of affairs in which feminists want and usually get all the benefits of being in control of a patriarchy without any of the adversities. They want forced affirmative action so that 50% of all professions such as doctors, lawyers, and academics are women; fine, use the same force also to make 50% of all soldiers, sailors, and first responders women.

 
One self-identity battle that is worth fighting is the self-identity politics of Whiteness and Blackness. Here we are 150 years after General Lee got in line beyond someone identified at the time as a Black man; it is universally accepted that race defined by skin color is an unnecessary social construct so that no man or any person should any longer be identified as Black or White; and yet concepts such as Blackness and Whiteness are still fueling all sorts of trouble and racism. They do so because race and racism not only are social constructs maintaining a ruling class but are also economic social constructs that make money for the ruling class and its intelligentsia thus not only conceptually but materially are empowering the ruling class. As I have written in other essays, sycophants and intellectual proletariats such as Ta-Nehisi Coates get rich and become ruling class elitists by complaining about race and racism and would be nothing without them; thus, they have no incentive to eliminate them, and they promote new school race and racism as the source of meaning for their lives. “Race is more than a biological category or a social category. It has become an industry, with its own infrastructure, branches, incentives and agendas.” — Sowell, Thomas. Intellectuals and Race. p. 128. Fighting both the old school racism of the past and the new school racism of the present new school racists such as Coates and the like is not an individual struggle of self-identity but class struggle that must be fought.

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