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  • Group Identification

    Posted by Assistant Village Idiot on December 20th, 2018 (All posts by )

    Cross-posted from Assistant Village Idiot.

    I was listening to a podcast that included female pastors talking about Methodism, both noting with approval that John Wesley encouraged women as preachers, but both getting immediately sidetracked, one into Wesley not giving his wife any credit for their joint research, the other for two thousand years of men running things in the church and not including women. There was laughing, but it was not really good-natured. I thought again, as I have many times, This happened to other women.  It didn’t happen to you.  You are now complaining in anger at men who didn’t do this. Taking it a bit further this time, I thought Your experience has been closer to the opposite.  You are young and well-educated, and thus have spent most of your life at schools, which favor females strongly. It is in fact so foreign to you that you can’t even read about it happening in other times and other places without getting quite angry. 

    That I don’t understand it, not about sex, not about race or ethnicity, not about type of grouping may come from always regarding myself entirely as an individual, which may in turn come from not being part of a disfavored group.  I had difficulties of poverty, of being stigmatised because of divorce, of being personally rejected by those who should have had more concern for me, but none of those was because of any group membership.  They were all my own burden, my own battle. Whatever prejudice the groups I belonged to experienced was not recent, other than the general prejudice against the poor. All immigrants experienced prejudice and some disdain, but Swedes and Nova Scotians had far less of that than others.

    By the time I did experience group prejudice because I am male, my general outlook and self-definition were pretty much formed.  It was mild in college, and when I experienced it more forcefully in my career, I resented it, but personally, not on behalf of all men. It was also restricted to my departments, not to the hospital as a whole. So it wasn’t 24/7/365.

    Update:  It occurs to me that I have had some prejudice against me at work because of being Christian and being conservative, but as it didn’t even occur to me, it must not be too terrible.  It was worse in my earlier years, when the Freudian types were the most anti-religious. They are gone now.

    Still, it just strikes me as puzzling as much as anything else. Those people weren’t me, neither the oppressors nor the oppressed.  There was a guy at Columbia getting upset that white men were accused of ruining everything, saying that he was proud of being a white man because they had built all of Western Civilisation. Dude, you personally didn’t build any of it, and I at 65 can only lay claim to a small lifetime contribution.  That other white males did do that doesn’t count toward my basket, as far as I can see.  I suppose I can understand the rant in the context of white males being accused relentlessly.  Also, when one tries to step aside from that and say “Whoa, that wasn’t me” and the counter is that you are somehow still to blame because you have benefited, and you still participate in structures that perpetuate the oppression, it does perhaps beg for an answer. Yet that answer to those lies along different roads, I think, by refusing the premises.


    22 Responses to “Group Identification”

    1. David Foster Says:

      “That I don’t understand it, not about sex, not about race or ethnicity, not about type of grouping may come from always regarding myself entirely as an individual, which may in turn come from not being part of a disfavored group.”

      I expect that much of the bad treatment experienced by individuals is NOT a function of their membership in a “disfavored group”….although it sometimes is…but rather a function of their individual attributes which are not respected by the group they are in.

      A young woman at U-Delaware, was being badgered by an Indoctrinator to respond to the question: ““When was a time you felt oppressed? Who was oppressing you? How did you feel?”

      …answered: ““I am oppressed everyday on basis of my undying and devout feelings for the opera”

      Whether she indeed loved opera, or was just kidding, it was a great answer, and the Indoctrinator didn’t like it at all

    2. Mike K Says:

      Most of the people complaining about oppression are in fact privileged.

      Black girls at Harvard and Princeton (like Michelle Robinson-Obama) have a golden opportunity that I did not have.

      My father did not finish high school and his favorite greeting to me was “Get your nose out of that book !”

      I have zero sympathy. Michelle had an intact family. They lived about six houses from the house I grew up in.

      That neighborhood had sadly declined but not the houses. The crime and poverty were imported along with the residents who followed us as we moved out of the neighborhood. My father was assaulted on the front porch of our house one night. You could say we were encouraged to move. He sold the house soon after that incident.

      I was back one time about ten years ago and stopped in front to take a photo. I posted some photos a couple of years ago. It was an ideal neighborhood for kids to grow up in. I felt so sorry for the owner who came out to see h]who I was and insisted on giving me a tour of the house. He asked me to send him photos of it when we lived there.

    3. Jonathan Says:

      This happened to other women. It didn’t happen to you. You are now complaining in anger at men who didn’t do this. Taking it a bit further this time, I thought Your experience has been closer to the opposite. You are young and well-educated, and thus have spent most of your life at schools, which favor females strongly. It is in fact so foreign to you that you can’t even read about it happening in other times and other places without getting quite angry.

      The above seems related to this:

      Today I want to come back to a topic I have not covered for a while, which is what I call knowledge or certainty “laundering” via computer models. I will explain this term more in a moment, but I use it to describe the use of computer models (by scientists and economists but with strong media/government/activist collusion) to magically convert an imperfect understanding of a complex process into apparently certain results and predictions to two-decimal place precision.

      David Foster has written many times about metaphors. People confuse words, scientific models, stories, visions etc. with tangible things or with logical arguments or with evidence or with physical connections between things.

    4. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      There is an argument that the strongest force in human behavior is Peer Pressure. Perhaps the Methodist ladies were complaining about the patriarchy because that is what university-credentialed women expect women to do?

      One can’t help noticing the huge differences between people of African heritage who grew up in the US versus those who grew up in the UK. Especially when one remembers that the people of the US fought the nastiest war in their history to free the slaves, whereas the English transported slaves from Africa to work on their Caribbean plantations and tossed them aside when they were no longer useful. What the visitor sees in London is that the descendants of those English slaves who found their way to London now talk like Londoners, behave like Londoners (for better or worse), and don’t appear to have chips on their shoulders. Talk to one of them on the phone and you could not tell if his ancestors were European or African — in marked contrast to the situation in the US.

      One speculation is that the relatively small number of Caribbeans who moved to London had no choice but to integrate fully with the local London population, and were subject to the same English peer pressures (again, for better or worse). The larger concentrations of people of African heritage in the US allowed (and still allows) enough separation from the rest of the population for different peer pressures to control.

    5. Helian Says:

      You seem confused about what are really fundamental aspects of human nature. We categorize, not just about other humans, but about many things, because that is an efficient mental technique for creature without infinite brain power. For example, it is far more useful to use the category “trees” than to remember the individual characteristics of every instance of a tree we encounter, thus avoiding the sin of “treeism.” Similarly, it is a universal human trait to perceive others in terms of ingroups and outgroups, applying different versions of morality to each. We generally despise the outgroup, considering its members immoral, abject, disgusting, unclean, etc. Chicago boy Robert Ardrey described the phenomenon in the Freudian terms popular at the time as the “Amity/Enmity Complex.” At one time this trait obviously improved the chances that those who carried it would survive and reproduce. It is not difficult to understand why. There was no ambiguity about the identity of the outgroup. It was simply the next group over, competing with our own for resources and territory. Hence, our brains allowed a great deal of flexibility in recognizing the particular traits that defined the outgroup. In the meantime we have developed large brains and knowledge of virtually every human group on the planet. In spite of that, our flexibility in defining the outgroup remains, with disastrous results. We can perceive the outgroup in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, ideology, preferred color, sports fandom, and a virtually infinite variety of other categories. History is full of examples of hatred and wars between groups that have defined themselves in these and many other different ways.

    6. Daniel Lumis Says:

      An Aside : “Wesley not giving his wife any credit for their joint research”.
      Wesley’s wife hated him and tormented him at every opportunity. Some report she became a witch as a way to cause him pain. Makes you wonder who else might be witches in this story?

    7. Anonymous Says:

      Your point about the disparity in the integration of former Caribbean blacks in London and those of African descent in the US is very insightful.

      While the relative concentration of their populations is no doubt a significant factor, I can’t help but think there are other important factors as well. Things like the significant geographical move from the Caribbean to London compared to largely remaining in location in the US. I also think that the long term existence of the Jim Crow environment followed by the co-opting of the civil rights movement into group identity were unique to our experience here. The growth of the entitlement welfare structure had a disproportional effect on turning blacks inward both geographically and culturally. Intentional divergence in language, dress, behavior, attitudes, and mythology became more and more extreme. Not to mention the perception of victimhood subject to political exploitation.

      I believe Thomas Sowell’s work in this area (with an emphasis on the economic and social norms) indicates that despite Jim Crow, blacks in the US were making significant strides in integration through the 1950’s which sharply reversed itself after the “war on poverty” and the strategic decision of the Democrat party to purse them as voters using governmental subsidies and victimhood narratives. Obviously this was predicated on the fact that they were a numerically significant and cohesive potential voting block.

      Thanks for the post.

    8. Mike K Says:

      The larger concentrations of people of African heritage in the US allowed (and still allows) enough separation from the rest of the population for different peer pressures to control.

      American blacks talk like their white neighbors in the southern states where so many lived for generations until World War II stimulated migration.

      I grew up around blacks who were hard working and, while subject to discrimination, had intact families and followed social norms for the Bourgeois society. Lyndon Johnson destroyed the black family with his “Great Society,” which would pay black women with children if no husband or father was living with her.

      I taught medical students for 15 years after I retired from Surgery. Some of them were black. All but two were foreign born. There was one woman from Trinidad who was married to a white Engineering grad student. One was from Eritrea, who had been taken out by her parents, first to South Africa, then to Guadeloupe then to Los Angeles where she lived with a grandmother. She was too poor to buy a laptop, which functions as the microscope did for my generation. They graduated with no trouble.

      Two were American born. One flunked out after repeating Year I. The other had so much trouble talking to patients that I feared he might be schizophrenic. It turned out that his parents were Black Panthers in Oakland and he did not know how to talk to white people. I wrote a script for him to use in talking to patients and he went on and graduated.

    9. Brian Says:

      Didn’t Caribbean immigration to England not really start in any large numbers until after WWII? I thought that’s what I remember from discussion of the topic in Kynaston’s Austerity Britain. So the timing, history, reason, etc., for the migration are all massively different from the black experience in America.

    10. MIker K Says:

      Brian, I think the black experience was different in the Caribbean. Jamaica blacks sound like Brits and have never been out of Jamaica.

      I attribute a lot of the Jim Crow stuff to Lincoln’s assassination and the “Reconstruction” by radical Republicans. Grant tried to keep the lid on but he was basically run out of office by the crooks who surrounded him. There were black Republicans in Louisiana and Texas in 1896. The Progressives, especially Wilson resegregated the government. The 1920s were the worst period for American blacks. The Second World War gave them opportunities but the Great Society wrecked the family and their culture regressed.

    11. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      @ Helian – you can be forgiven for not being familiar with what I have been writing the last ten years, but you should be cautious in general about calling other people confused.

    12. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Mike K: “I grew up around blacks who were hard working and, while subject to discrimination, had intact families and followed social norms for the Bourgeois society.”

      Reportedly, following emancipation, many male former slaves in the US embarked on long journeys and went through incredible troubles to reunite with their common-law wives & children from whom they had been separated by sale to different owners. The contrast with the behavior of today’s taxpayer-supported under-class (of both sexes and most ethnicities) is obvious.

      I became interested in the significance of peer pressure some time ago following a discussion with an electric utility executive about nuclear power. Per the executive, there was a time when every CEO felt he had to invest in nuclear generating capacity in order to be able hold up his head when meeting other utility company executives … and then a time when they all felt they had to disinvest in order to avoid embarrassment when meeting their peers. In this executive’s view, economics, technical factors, and politics were all secondary to the peer pressure among senior businessmen.

      It can be tough to determine what drives the hot topics for peer pressure. But Spanish conquistadors arriving in the New World gave most landmarks names based on their Christian religion, while university-credentialed women today whine about the patriarchy. Are both examples of individuals conforming to what they think their peers expect appropriate behavior to be?

    13. Helian Says:

      @Assistant Village Idiot

      I sorry that you were offended by my use of the word “confused.” Next time I’ll include a trigger warning for you. Meanwhile I’ll consult with Titania McGrath over at Quillette to see if she can compose a suitable apology for me.

    14. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      @ Helian – I responded politely. You have doubled down and been even more insulting. Or did I misunderstand? Perhaps you just have a social clumsiness about you and mean no harm. It could be. Many of my friends are engineers, so I am used to that.

      But if not, try this instead. Go to my site and enter the search term “tribe” and read my 400+ posts on the topic over the last ten years there, then see if you still think you know more than I do about the subject.

    15. Helian Says:


      Very impressive! How can one possibly doubt that one who has written 400+ posts about a subject actually knows something about it?

    16. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      Less than thirty minutes later, you have read those 400 posts and evaluated the depth of my insight? I defer to your superior abilities.

    17. Helian Says:


      Most adults do not consider going into full snowflake mode and showing everyone how butthurt you are over an adjective that was used absolutely without malice or any intent to insult as “responding politely.” If you’d wanted to “respond politely” you would have simply agreed or disagreed with the content of my comment as the case may be, and left it at that. I advise you to do that in response to future comments, and assure you that they won’t be coming from me.

    18. Kirk Says:

      The irony of all this is that the minority group complainers behave as though the “white male patriarchy” was both a monolith inhabited by every white male ever, and that it actually existed outside their feverish imaginations.

      It’s striking that when you listen to the complaints, all you ever hear about are the bad guys that are white, and never anything at all about the various abolitionist and civil rights groups that were majority white. To hear it told, it’s an epic battle waged by blacks against whites, and that they won against fearful odds. Reality? If the “white monolith” was as they imagine it, they’d still be in chains and suffering from Jim Crow. The “white oppressor” was never more than a highly visible minority, and was disapproved of by a significant swathe of that supposed “white monolith”.

      Same-same with the gender-based crap; it’s the same delusions, re-written for the helpless little woman victims. When you look at the claims, they’re ludicrous–Even the majority of the most onerous abuses were perpetrated mostly by other women on their only real competitors–Women. The social norms have always been taught and enforced by women, starting from the cradle. Men just go along for the ride, and could really care less what their women get up to, so long as they just quit nagging at them. Otherwise, you’d have never seen suffrage work.

      The whole thing is just a bunch of immature and childish types who’ve grabbed the microphone and some of the reins of power. Which, over the long run, they’re going to lose control of, and not least because of their childish overreach. The grown-ups in the room are going to tire of the BS, and put a stop to it, one way or another.

      Through a certain lens, one can read the social history of the US as being the gradual usurpation of power, a soft coup, by a certain segment of feminine culture, and not the healthy and positive aspects of it, either. Note the refusal to even entertain the idea, let alone look at the evidence, for what the current environment is doing to the young men of the coming generations. The feminists howl that “girls are the future”, and want to tread the boys into the mud–Forgetting all the while that those young women are going to want equals as husbands and partners, and when they can’t find them because their mothers and grandmothers conspired to destroy the males of those girl’s generation? Oh, how they will howl; what will come of that? Who knows, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if most of those young men become believers in faiths that better answer their needs, and those young women will join them, seeking affirmation and male company.

      It’s a weird world the activists are creating, in their fevered destruction of the old. The new things coming will be unrecognizable to them, and they’ll probably blame the patriarchy for it all…

    19. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      @ Helian – you’ve done a great job proving my point. thanks.

    20. Mike K Says:

      To hear it told, it’s an epic battle waged by blacks against whites, and that they won against fearful odds. Reality? If the “white monolith” was as they imagine it, they’d still be in chains and suffering from Jim Crow.

      This is mostly recent and, except for a few groups like the Black Muslims and Father Devine, most blacks sought Bourgeois virtues and many still do.

      The development of the race hustlers, like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, is a phenomenon since about 1950.

      While home from college, Jackson joined seven other African Americans on July 16, 1960 to participate in a sit-in at the Greenville Public Library in Greenville, South Carolina, which only allowed white people.

      This was valid civil rights activism. However, When King was assassinated, Jackson became a Charlatan.

      Jackson became involved in SCLC leadership disputes following the assassination of King on April 4, 1968. When King was shot, Jackson was in the parking lot one floor below. Jackson told reporters he was the last person to speak to King, and that King died in his arms – an account that several King aides disputed.

      It has also been asserted that Jackson smeared King’s blood on his shirt to support his story.

      Al Sharpton has never been anything but a charlatan.

      Alfred Charles Sharpton Jr. was born in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York City, to Ada (née Richards) and Alfred Charles Sharpton Sr. The family has some Cherokee roots. He preached his first sermon at the age of four and toured with gospel singer Mahalia Jackson

      His career as a race hustler includes a number of criminal actions but he has evaded punishment.

      Sharpton led a protest in Harlem against the planned eviction of The Record Shack. Sharpton told the protesters, “We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business.”

      On December 8, 1995, Roland J. Smith Jr, one of the protesters, entered Harari’s store with a gun and flammable liquid, shot several customers and set the store on fire. The gunman fatally shot himself, and seven store employees died of smoke inhalation.

      Wiki is very solicitous of Sharpton in avoiding blaming him for the deaths. He led the riot.

      Obama, after being elected President in hopes he would heal the racial divide widened by the race hustlers, used racial hatred to stimulate black voting,.

    21. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Kirk: “… what the current environment is doing to the young men of the coming generations.”

      If Chicago Boys allowed upvoting, I would upvote you a thousand times! The path our society has chosen is truly astonishing. Stalin could only have dreamed about a society which would willingly put very large numbers of young boys on long-term psychotropic medications without any thought for the long term consequences — so much more effective than Gulags! And the justification for this giant risky drug experiment? Those boys allegedly suffer from “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” … or, in other words, they are typical boys.

      If one were conspiracy-minded, how would one characterize a society which offshored actual productive manufacturing jobs (mostly previously held by men) and vastly expanded unproductive government jobs for cubicle-bound paper stampers (mostly held by women)? Yet even a conspiracy nut could not blame the White Matriarchy. Think about how many male-dominated Boards of Directors have appointed female CEOs, and how many political old boy networks have promoted female politicians. This has happened despite the evidence from Hillary!, Merkel, May, Carly Fiorina and many more that incompetence is not solely a male characteristic. It seems likely that peer pressure among males has played a major role in the significant over-promotion of women in business and politics. Of course, there should be no sexist obstacles to a Catherine the Great or a Marie Curie pursuing her chosen career — but nor should there be a sexist hand-up for the mediocre individual whose main claim to the job is that she is female.

      The only thing we can predict with certainty is that this is not going to end well. It is impossible to predict precisely what is going to crash our society — but we know beyond doubt that we are on an unsustainable path.

    22. Mike K Says:

      Drove over from OC to Tucson today with heavy traffic at both ends. Took 12 hours for a 7 hour drive. Listened to Pat Buchanan’s “Nixon’s White House Wars. This is the second time I have listened in the car and it is truely a great book. I think it was written in 2016 and maybe before the election. Published and some references to 2017 and Trump but some sounds like he assumed Hillary would win.

      It is really worth reading/listening because he predicts Trump. In 1970 he was trying to get Nixon to go after the white ethnic vote. He says they were The “Reagan Democrats “and they are the Trump voters. I saw a good article last week that compares Trump and Nixon and refers to the Deep State which was beginning in Nixon’s term. I’ll have to find it.