Why that Moral Arc Idea Convinces

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That quote popularized by MLK Jr and originated in a different form by an abolitionist preacher in the 1800s has appeal for a lot of people, not just to our sense of optimism but also to our sense of reason and observation. We see injustice spark resistance, we see how some great injustices of the past were defeated, or at least greatly diminished by long struggle. It makes sense that given enough time, all injustices will fall, right?

With more recent history we can see resurgence, re-empowerment, and expansion of old injustices, which is a really useful reality check for those naturally inclined to optimism like (believe it or not) myself. And while outside of the worst environments for these prejudices (such as being trans in the UK) it can still be easy to see the resistance and feel optimistic they will overcome again, what would that mean long-term, if anything?

I’m not going to say that this process is perfect equilibrium, with history swinging between justice and injustice in equal measure. There does seem to be some staying power in some of the successes justice has achieved. People aren’t willing to lose the freedoms they earn with blood. But the arc idea is too simple to describe how the world works. A more accurate way to look at this fight, I think, is that there is an ecosystem of ideas in which selection plays a role.

Injustice species Misogyny rex rules the land unopposed, king of ideas. But wait, opposition appears. Justice species Feminism ceratops evolves defenses so effective that M rex dies out. But a subset of M rex mutated bigger teeth that can overcome F ceratops defenses, and do so well against them that F ceratops goes extinct. But lo, there were a few survivors of F ceratops and they evolve into the next progressive resistance.

In this model, injustices in their existing forms do go extinct – the phenomenon that makes the moral arc model seem convincing – but something always seems to evolve to replace them. What replaces them isn’t always equally bad, so it is still useful to keep fighting. But without the absolute destruction of these injustices, some form of them always survives and has a chance to grow again.

And now, from my reality-checked place of diminished optimism, I feel like even if every ounce of racism misogyny homophobia transphobia ableism antisemitism islamophobia colonialism etc. were magically extirpated from the minds of our species, some new injustice would arise de novo, due to the angling of the power hungry.

The arc of the natural universe is long, but it bends toward everything going extinct in ways ranging from miserable to horrible. Humans have time and again shown ourselves collectively unable to overcome our animal nature. As much as hippies like to separate man from animals to say industrialism is unnatural, it is not. Human decimation of the biosphere is the natural result of a species becoming too fucking successful – something we’ve seen many many times before in nature. The difference between freshly evolved plants causing a mass extinction and what we’re doing now are mostly cosmetic.

My only hope is in the unnatural. Not Elon Musk pipe dreams of technology saving us. More like Gene Roddenberry pipe dreams – the idea we can somehow overcome human nature to create a lasting utopia. And where I said the difference was mostly cosmetic? There’s a fundamental difference that might offer a sliver of hope. The tool of our decimation is a social construct, and we have the power to change those within the space of a single generation sometimes – if rarely. Whether that happens or not, praise for all of the warriors for justice, whatever your part of the struggle. Power on.

Texas Wisconsin Nebraska

I sign out of Outlook and it takes me to msn.com. I generally avoid news but some imp of the perverse makes me look at the headlines on the scroll there. And today, I was treated to the following:

Mass shooting in Texas. Mass shooting in Wisconsin. Orange prick John Boehner says mass shootings are national embarrassment. And Mass shooting in Nebraska.

I’m not looking into those articles, but short question for anyone with more fortitude: Did we literally just have three mass shootings in one day? Is this fucking nonsense for real?

Chicken Lady – No Not That One

Had a long drawn out dream last night, revolved around trying to hang out with a group of friends I don’t have in real life. Not interesting, but there was this amusing side bit. I did some mild violence to a chicken, you know, just playing with it. I forget how, like it grabbed my finger by the beak and I shook it or something. Anyway, a huge amount of its feathers instantly fell off.

I didn’t feel too guilty because I know they can grow back and I knew the injury was more a matter of the beast’s surprising fragility than my own malevolence. There was fleeting moment of shock replaced by amusement.

Then I was walking through the halls of the same building – I forget where or why – but I saw a conventionally attractive young lady talking on her cellphone with a friend. She was talking about how her feathers are more sturdy now, but they used to “shed like a bonfire” when she was younger. I knew then that she was a chicken. Not like the lady in the gross Kids in the Hall skit, but just a pretty girl who is somehow also a chicken.

She noticed feathers twirling around the corners of the hall and touched her hair. I knew she was nervous that they came from her – that she was indeed still shedding like a bonfire. But I tried to set her mind at ease, by telling her that it came from the other chicken. That’s all.

Return of the Mikla

Kælan Mikla has a new video debuting like seven hours from the time of this post. I’ll be sleeping, then rushing to work, and unable to truly dig it til Friday evening. Kælan Mikla is a divisive band, with some of the most shrieky lady vocals out there. They’ve veered hard into gothy territory on recent albums and by the design of this thumbnail I expect more of the same. Will this be more chilled out, or still have the shrieks? No idea. Anyway, these girls always amuse and entertain me with their earnest ice witch theatrics. Lemme know if you love or hate them, as by the time you see this post, you can find out for yourself.

Lil’ Nas X? More like, Lil’ Naw. X.

All I can say is that my life is pretty
plain. I like to watch the puddles gather
rain. That’s the opening lines of a lovely
idyll by Sir Basil Exposition of England.
Life should be about gentle tedium, safe.

Frankly, when people like this Nas X character
open up their mouths and use them to lick devils,
or themselves, through the power of CG satanisms,
licentiousness runs rampant through our society,
sowing the seeds of ruination. I can’t stand it.