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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Vivi and Gigi, or, Who Is Vivian James and What Is GamerGate?




Vivian James, Gamer Girl


 Vivi and Gigi - A Love Story, 
or,
Who Is Vivian James
and What Is GamerGate?
(About Feminism, Volume II, Number 1)
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)
(see the end for disclaimers and disclosures)


Who is this red-headed girl, and what does she have to do with Gamergate?  What is GamerGate?  What is all this about?  Isn't this some kind of anti-feminist thing?  What does #NotYourShield mean?  Are the colors of her hoodie really based on a vile rape gif?


#NotYourShield



[Prefatory Disclaimer:  I should note that some of the videos and links here will lead to content which some may find objectionable, primarily due to the amount of "profanity" used;  this language does not phase me (primarily because I am very much aware of the origin and history of "taboo words" in the English language, and how they came to be viewed as "taboo" in the first place), but I am aware that some take offense at it.  You have been warned, but if you want to know what "Gamergate" is all about, you'll have to sit through some things which you might consider to be offensive.  I do not, however, in any way condone the use of slurs by anyone in any of the external references, pro- or anti-GamerGate.]


Two years have passed now since Gamergate became a thing with a name (actually two years and one day since the name was tweeted out as a hashtag and subsequently became associated with the movement known as "GamerGate" or "Gamergate").  A number of dates in August of 2014 could be considered anniversaries of sorts for GamerGate, and so I might have chosen from among them for a specific date to publish this post.  I opted to publish on 28 August 2016, the two-year anniversary of the date on which "TotalBiscuit" published his blog post decrying the Bifurcation Fallacy then being promoted about Gamergate, and criticizing people in both pro- and anti-GamerGate circles for falling into the trap of the Bifurcation Fallacy and engaging in simplistic stereotyping of one another.  I chose the anniversary of this particular event to publish because I have been, for 15 years or more, calling attention to the harm done to Western societies by various manifestations of Bifurcation Fallacy, and because this particular post was, in my opinion, one of the best manifestations of the entire affair in the earliest days.  As it happened, the 28th was also the date on which the push-back from gaming journalists occurred, with the "Gamers Are Dead" articles, and the resulting anger from the gaming community.  28 August seems to be one of the dates regarded by some in GamerGate as the anniversary of GamerGate (see, for example, this video by the YouTuber "Netscape," originally a livestream which occurred on the 28th of August and which was subsequently published as a video on the same date, with the title "#GamerGate Two Year Anniversary Stream").






So then, to reiterate:

Who is this red-headed girl, and what does she have to do with Gamergate?  What is GamerGate?  What is all this about?  Isn't this some kind of anti-feminist thing?  What does #NotYourShield mean?  Are the colors of her hoodie really based on a vile rape gif?  These are questions I shall answer in the course of this blog post, the answers being the results of my researches into the origin and history (and not merely the early history) of Gamergate.

To begin, let's look at the charges of anti-feminism which have been made against GamerGate.  If you google "Vivian James," the first result you get is this:  Meet the Female Gamer Mascot Born of Anti-Feminist Internet Drama.  As you continue exploring your Google search results, you'll find more such allegations.  The author of the just-linked piece, though, admits to not being clear on why Gamergate dislikes Zoë Quinn, not being clear on why they would dislike someone they believe to be a pretend-feminist, and not being sure how someone would go about faking Feminism.  She links to a reddit discussion about Quinn, which she apparently never quite understood, but then in spite of all her unclearness and unsureness, goes on to repeat the accusations against GamerGate, without any apparent critical consideration of the truth of those allegations, and makes accusations of her own which do not reflect what actually happened (she says, for example, that the people of /v/ came up with the idea of designing their own character for Afterlife Empire, but that's not what happened, as you'll see later in this blog post).  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

You want to know what this claim is about?  What it's really about?  Let's start with the tale of a young woman who never liked video gaming, who decided she was going to do a series of videos about gaming from her perspective of anti-choice Feminism and have them crowdfunded, and the ensuing censorship which some gaming development companies undertook in an effort to cater to her bias.  That's right, anti-choice.  No, that doesn't mean anti-abortion.  It means she doesn't believe in individual liberty;  she wants all women to unite under HER vision of Feminism, and help to push HER agenda.  It means she is an authoritarian.  This young woman's name is Anita Sarkeesian.  And gaming journalism took her bullshit, and their own annoyance with being called out on their unethical journalistic practices, and ran with it, in collusion, with insulting claims like "Gamers are dead," accusing gamers of being almost exclusively cisgender, heterosexual, white males, and ignoring the reality that the gaming community is actually, and has been for a long time, very diverse.




In response to Sarkeesian's brand of Third Wave anti-choice Feminism, gamers who weren't interested in having any of her neo-puritanism affect the games they loved (and who later became known as "GamerGate" or "Gamergate" [the name is given both ways, and I'll alternate between the two ways in this blog post]) decided to fund a group of Second Wave Feminists who developed a video game called "Afterlife Empire" through the funding.  This was a charity project called a "Game Jam," and the company (The Fine Young Capitalists) restricted eligible contestants, who would design the game, to women only.  The eligibility restrictions included Trans Women, but any contestant had to have self-identified as female prior to a certain date, and was also expected to use a name which matched her legal name (which led to charges of transphobia from certain anti-Gamergate persons, which is not the case, seeing as Trans Women were also eligible, since Trans Women are Women, and one of the criteria to make sure they were actual Trans Women, and not Men posing as Women in order to win the competition, was that they had to use their legal names and provide identification from before the date chosen which identified their gender as female).  Into the game was put a character created by Gamergate, named Vivian James (sometimes called "Vidya," but usually "Vivian James" or occasionally "Vivi" or "V" for short, whose name was a play on "vidya games," a dialectical pronunciation of "video games").  This red-headed girl in the image here below is one artist's conception of Vivian James, accompanied by an attempt at a sort of mission statement for Gamegate.




That objection to Sarkeesian's anti-choice Feminism being imposed on the gaming industry became the main focus of Gamergate for some involved (while for others, the main focus was objection to unethical practices on the part of video gaming journalists, and for still others, it was both), although its origins had little to do with Anita Sarkeesian, and for most of the people in GamerGate, Anita Sarkeesian herself isn't really the issue;  rather, the issue is that there are people, such as Sarkeesian, who have attempted to impose their intolerant perspective of anti-choice Feminism on the gaming industry, which, when realized, would result in unnecessary and pointless limitations on gamers, such as the elimination of any attire for female characters which these neo-puritans believe (or pseudo-puritans pretend to believe) to be objectifying.  I was fighting with these people years before the origin of GamerGate, but I never heard of (or at least I don't recall having heard of) Anita Sarkeesian until I started looking into the history of Gamergate, how it got started, what it was and is about, and whether the accusations about the people involved in GamerGate were true or not.

Let me therefore back up and give the origin story of Gamergate and a bit of pre-GamerGate history.

Before Gamergate arose, Sarkeesian was already doing her bit to promote her particular brand of Third Wave Authoritarian Feminism, and had already expanded that to an effort to limit choices in games.  The catalyst for the rise of Gamergate, however, was a bit of "he said, she said" involving a female games developer named Zoë Quinn and her now-ex-boyfriend, named Eron Gjoni.  I'm not going to get into the "he said, she said" in this blog post (apart from the inclusion of links to other sources which discuss it to a greater or lesser extent), because I frankly wasn't there and have no idea which one is telling a story closer to the truth, but apparently, she had at least one affair while she was involved with him (the allegations made by Gjoni say there were more instances of infidelity).  One of the people with whom she is alleged to have had an affair was a Kotaku (a video game website and blog that was at the time part of the Gawker Media network) gaming journalist named Nathan Grayson, and there were accusations that he had promoted a game Quinn developed due to his relationship with her.  Some say that the relationship in question did not start until after he had merely mentioned her game in a single article.  Again, I wasn't there, and I don't know.  But when Gjoni wrote a post about her alleged infidelities and abusive behavior toward him, and the alleged favoritism of Quinn by Grayson due to her alleged affair with the latter, it served as a catalyst for what eventually became Gamergate.  The concern was ethics in gaming journalism, and those who would later be known collectively as "GamerGate" believed that Grayson had violated journalistic ethics.  Much has been made of this, with some opponents of Gamergate claiming that people involved in GamerGate were guilty of slut-shaming Quinn (and some were), but many anti-Gamergate people have attempted to portray the origin of the movement as nothing but slut-shaming, and that is not the case.

This concern also included charges of collusion between several gaming journalists in the "Gamers Are Dead" narrative.  Eleven articles were published in 24 hours, ten of them in the same day, with the same basic claims, characterizing the gaming community as predominantly made up of heterosexual white males, alleging that gamers were largely homophobic, misogynistic, and racist, and accusing the gaming industry of catering to those prejudices.  This happened in 2014.  To this day, articles are still being written with claims that there have only been a small number of playable female characters in video games, which is absolute tripe, because more and more games have been allowing considerable character customization, including gender choice, since well before 2014.  These claims may have been a case of projection, since games journalism was itself not particularly diverse (unlike the gaming community itself, which is, and has been for some time prior to all the false and offensive claims by gaming journalists, extremely diverse):


(Click image to view larger.)


But let's go to the catalyst of Gamergate and work our way through the origin and early history of the same.




The date was 16 August 2014.  On that date, Eron Gjoni published "The Zoe Post," in which he enumerated his grievances with Zoë Quinn (I have provided the link for those who wish to read it;  bear in mind that the material which you will see is a public airing of dirty laundry by one person in a relationship, and gives his side of the story).  On the same date, a YouTube user calling himself "MundaneMatt," after having read "The Zoe Post," published a video on YouTube in which he discussed Quinn's alleged behavior and video gaming journalism corruption in connection with her alleged behavior.




The next day, 17 August 2014, a thread was posted on The Escapist website, critical of Quinn's alleged behavior and the lack of coverage thereof by gaming blogs.  On the same date, a reddit user called MannoSlimmins, looking into Quinn's past claims, supplied evidence against her claims, and in the course of the ensuing discussion, The Fine Young Capitalists, a Second Wave Feminist group which was interested in helping women make video games, said that Quinn had ruined their Game Jam (that's the link to the original reply, which was edited two days later, the text replaced with a link to an audio statement, but the original reply can be seen here)  and later (?) started her own, which, according to The Fine Young Capitalists' reply (as you can see), had no start date, no location, and no judges.  (Evidence of later similar behavior on the part of Quinn can be found here.)  Remember this.  It will be addressed in references provided later in this post.

Also on 17 August, a female games developer using the handle "KC Vidya Rants" published a post on tumblr in which she criticized Quinn's behavior for having hurt the status of women in the gaming industry.

On 18 August 2014, a YouTube video was published by "Internet Aristocrat," in which Quinn was criticized for allegedly using sex in exchange for influence on gaming journalists, and for playing the victim as a means of soliciting financial donations.  This video, "Quinnspiracy Theory:  The Five Guys Saga," is, at the time of my composing this post, "unavailable."  However, it was later mirrored elsewhere on YouTube.




On 19 August, a news/opinion piece was published on Games Nosh by Chris "Zabant" Heeley, called "Depression Quest Dev (Zoe Quinn) Scandal; Exploiting Games Press for Coverage."  A few hours later, the site host asked Games Nosh to take the article down, and it was later removed, but is available again at the time of this writing (linked above).  On the same date, Quinn claimed that her Twitter and Tumblr accounts had been hacked and that she had been doxxed by members of the /v/ community (a community of video gamers) on 4chan.  This, it appears, was an attempt on Quinn's part to play victim, as inconsistencies were pointed out by another Tumblr user, "The Spectacular Spider-Girl."  Also on this same date, The Fine Young Capitalists released their audio statement, and edited their previous reply on reddit to link to the audio statement.  Also on this date, John Bain, better known as "Total Biscuit," published a post on TwitLonger in which he weighed in on the events up to that point, primarily discussing Quinn's abuse of the YouTube DMCA complaint feature (in an effort to censor the video published by MundaneMatt on the 16th), and criticized games journalism for what he called "nepotism."  Total Biscuit subsequently linked the article in reddit's gaming community the same day, and the editor of that community, the same day, deleted replies to that post.

The next day, 20 August, Quinn posted thanks to the editor of the reddit gaming community for deleting the posts, again playing victim, alleging that she had been doxxed and that all the comments amounted to nothing but harassment and slut-shaming about her private sex life.  As the comments are gone, I can neither confirm nor deny their content;  however, it should be noted that "Internet Aristocrat" had stated in the video first published on 18 August, linked above, that the outrage was not about her sex life or her alleged infidelities, but rather, it was about the fact that the people she allegedly engaged in infidelity with were in a position to further her career, which, he said, made it a piece of public discourse and "helps to highlight a massive flaw in the fifth estate [by which he meant internet journalism], ... [a] lack of ethical standards."  Also on the 20th, Aja Romano published an opinion piece on The Daily Dot, accusing opponents of Quinn of being sexist, and concluding, somehow, that "gaming culture continues to be a threatening place for women."  Remember, this was all in 2014.  Women had been involved in the gaming industry for years by this time, and while there have been challenges for us (and I speak as a woman who has been involved in gaming for decades and who has work experience in the gaming industry, who therefore knows these things first hand), a claim that the industry or the culture is somehow dangerous or threatening for women is, frankly, not even a remotely credible claim.  Later on the 20th, Invision Community published a piece on the story, in which they released a comment from The Fine Young Capitalists pertaining to Quinn's interactions with their game jam.  Also on the 20th, Kotaku released a statement in which they claimed that Grayson's "romantic" relationship with Quinn began at some point after he published his article about her.

On 21 August, Heeley published another news/opinion piece on Games Nosh, concerning the harassment and trolling which Total Biscuit had received after he dared to offer criticism of Quinn's work and alleged behavior.  So far, not much has been said about Anita Sarkeesian.  How exactly does she come into the picture to become the central foe of GamerGate?  The answer is rather simple.  Quinn was an admirer/follower of Sarkeesian, and eventually, once most of the shitstorm over the so-called Quinnspiracy faded into a dull roar, Sarkeesian remained a focus of some of Gamergate's ire, with good reason, but we'll get into that in more depth a bit later.  For now, I've simply detailed how she was part of the original genesis of GamerGate in that she was someone admired by Quinn.  Also on 21 August, the 4chan /pol/ board community's ("/pol/ - Politically Incorrect" is 4chan's board for discussing and debating politics and current events) idea (which started the day before) of donating to The Fine Young Capitalists' game jam charity, to support women in gaming and expose Quinn as a hypocrite, spread to the /v/ board community ("/v/ - Video Games" is 4chan's imageboard dedicated to the discussion of PC and console video games, or at least it was, before and during the beginnings of GamerGate, although most of the people who were involved later migrated elsewhere) on 4chan, which eagerly joined in contributing to the charity due in part to their disdain for Sarkeesian's attempts to get the gaming industry to support her anti-choice agenda.  The result was The Fine Young Capitalists announcing, on the 21st, that 4chan had, for the second day in a row, been the number one contributor to their game jam charity, Women in Gaming Project, and asking 4chan's /v/ community to suggest a topic for a video they were going to produce.  The request from 4chan was "Tell us about great female [games] developers."

The next day was very eventful.  On 22 August, The Fine Young Capitalists published the requested video:




Also on the same date, 22 August 2016, the /v/ community on 4chan, having by then as a group raised over $5000 US for the TFYC charity, had earned the right to design a character for the game which would be published by The Fine Young Capitalists after it had been developed (this was not the /v/ community's idea as some opponents of Gamergate have claimed;  it was part of the stated rewards to those who donated to the charity, that if some person or group contributed at least $2000, they would be given the opportunity to design a character for the game, as an image later in this blog post will show), and the first suggestion was "just an average female gamer."  Two threads and over 500 straw polls later, /v/ had reached an agreed-upon design.

The Original Design Concept of Vivian James


Initially, the character was referred to only as "/v/'s daughter."  However, /v/ then decided to give her a name and a personality:





Thus was born Vivian James, daughter of /v/, on 22 August 2014 (the date still regarded as "Vivian James' birthday").  In addition, the /pol/ and /v/ board communities were asked to select a charity to receive the excess donations to the Game Jam (the final total was $71,496, which was 110% of the fixed goal), and they decided that the excess should go to colon cancer charity, in order to "chemo the butthurt."  This choice, for some unfathomable reason, enraged some of their adversaries, who managed to make themselves look like really hateful people as a result of their rage.


Vivian James in the opening credits of Afterlife Empire



So let's recap, before we continue, with a captioned image ...




Also on the 22nd, Aja Romano published another piece on The Daily Dot, in which she reported claims (and her article title certainly suggests that she believed those claims) that 4chan (and specifically /v/) had hacked and doxxed Quinn and Phil Fisher.  The comments section of the article is full of objections to the headline and examples of inconsistencies in the idea that anyone from /v/ had done it (for one thing, the alleged hacker had put /V/ in one of the messages posted, and that capital letter isn't right;  it's always been /v/ to anyone who was part of that community), as well as a few conspiracy nuts babbling about whatever their particular pet conspiracy theory was (claiming that Quinn is a Freemason, for example, which is blatantly ignorant [there are good reasons Anti-Masons used to be called "Know-Nothings," but that's another topic], since women cannot be members of any regular Masonic body).  It was as a result of Fisher then quitting the gaming industry, selling off Polytroncorporation and the IP rights to a game he was supposed to have been working on, and abandoning social media, that I first heard of Gamergate, some time later, after the name "Gamergate" had been given to the group (in a tweet on 27 August, Adam Baldwin used the hashtag #GamerGate, which was the first time the name had been used, and as a result of this, the group began to be known as GamerGate, Gamergate, or GG).  My introduction to the whole thing was through two articles, and that was the first I heard of any of this;  my only knowledge of the whole thing at the time came from those two articles, and I was still working in the gaming industry at that time, so I was at least somewhat interested.  I recall showing it to a couple of colleagues on Staff, but neither knew enough about what was going on to have an opinion.  But again, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Still on the 22nd, "Internet Aristocrat" released another video, "Quinnspiracy Theory:  In-N-Out Edition," in which he offered further speculations that Quinn had used her relationships in the gaming industry and gaming journalism for personal gain.  This video has since been removed, but was mirrored later and is still available here.  If you would prefer to watch the series of his GamerGate videos together, you can find them here:




Night fell, but the next day, 23 August 2014, more developments were brought forth into the light.  An Imgur album was published with collected evidence that Quinn had asked moderators at reddit to remove any posts about the whole incident on the 19th.  Some time after this, reddit admins removed the moderator who had leaked this information.  That Imgur album is no longer available (or at least not at the original URL address).  However, another Imgur album published on the same date, which supplies evidence of mass auto-banning of reddit users for even talking about Quinn and the gaming journalism scandal, is still available.

Also on the 23rd, Vivian James was referred to (I am uncertain if this were the first time, but it may have been) as "Vivi" in a thread on Know Your Meme:




On the 24th, another YouTube video was published (which has since been deleted), discussing "what really happened" with Phil Fish and Zoë Quinn.  What this video said, I don't know, since it's gone, and apparently gone from all of YouTube (a search turned up no mirrored uploads).  It was also on the 24th that the IndieGoGo page being used by TFYC for their Game Jam charity was hacked, by someone claiming to have done it in support of Quinn:


Note the perk for contribution of $2000 or more still shown on the right side.


On the same date, the 24th, an article by Danielle Riendeau was published on Polygon, a review of a game by Steve Gaynor, with whom she appeared to have at least a close friendship.  Her review gave his game a 10/10, and was alleged to be another example of the nepotism in gaming journalism, as seen here.  Further evidence of apparent corruption in gaming journalism, this time involving Kotaku, was also brought to light on the same day, as shown here.  Related to this were still more revelations on the 24th, not only of alleged corruption, but also of obvious hypocrisy (apparently, sexual themes in video games are perfectly acceptable, if they discourage sex, or at least discourage sexual behavior of which some disapprove ...), some in connection with Kotaku again, as can be observed here.  But wait!  That's not all!  Remember Nathan Grayson?  One of the people who was involved in the catalyst for all of this outrage?  Yeah, him.  On the 24th, yet more revelations of what appears to have been shady behavior on Grayson's part were published, available for your review here.

Then on the 25th, Quinn's Twitter attacks on The Fine Young Capitalists were exposed:




Also on the 25th, someone presented evidence that some gaming journalists were providing financial support to some of the games developers whom they were promoting with their articles, which can be seen here.  At this point, one of the claims of Gamergate as to what their concerns are is fairly undeniable:  "Actually, it's about ethics in video games journalism."  We have seen evidence of attempted censorship, on reddit and YouTube and elsewhere, on the part of Quinn and/or her allies and supporters.  We have seen dubious claims of victimhood by Quinn herself, as well as some of her allies.  We have seen evidence of hacking attacks on The Fine Young Capitalists by someone claiming to be a supporter of Quinn.  And we have seen evidence of inappropriate behavior on the part of gaming journalists.  But foes of Gamergate want to make this all about anti-feminism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, and harassment of women (and, occasionally, charges of transphobia and/or transmisogyny are also included), by (cisgender) heterosexual white males.  And we haven't even gotten to the naming of GamerGate yet.




The 26th of August brought tacit admission by some companies in the gaming journalism industry that there had been some lack of integrity, as they began to revise their ethical standards.  First to do so was Kotaku, which published a note admitting that they had listened to (and discussed internally) concerns of the as-yet-still-unnamed GamerGate, and agreed that personal connections which their journalists had with games developers should and would be disclosed, and that their journalists funding developers created a conflict of interest and that such contributions were to be nixed (a later update allowed for a single exception, which was a reasonable exception).  Readers of Polygon issued a statement critical of Polygon's new ethics policies the same day (see the image below this paragraph), and, before the day was over, Polygon announced that they would thenceforth be requiring disclosure of any contributions to games developers by their journalists.


Statement of readers critical of Polygon's ethics policies


On 27 August 2014, actor Adam Baldwin tweeted links to both of the videos by "Internet Aristocrat," and included the hashtag "#GamerGate," thus giving a name to the movement of gamers who had been speaking out about nepotism and other unethical behavior in video games journalism:


The origin of the name "GamerGate" is traced to this tweet by Adam Baldwin.


On 28 August 2014, rather than graciously admit that they had been held to a higher standard of ethics which would improve games journalism, several games journalists, apparently acting in collusion, published the notorious "Gamers are dead" articles, with another published the next day, insulting their own audience, a rather stupid thing to do, which did NOT result in whatever they thought it was going to do.  Here are the articles, with the date and time each was published, for reference (not all of these are considered to be part of the "Gamers are dead" articles):

28 August 2014 (no time stated)
'Gamers' don't have to be your audience. 'Gamers' are over.

28 August 2014, 6:00 a.m.
Anita Sarkeesian Threatened with Rape and Murder for Daring to Keep Critiquing Video Games

28 August 2014, 10:50 a.m.
Feminist Video Blogger Is Driven From Home by Death Threats

28 August 2014, 11:16 a.m.
It's Dangerous to Go Alone: Why Are Gamers So Angry?

28 August 2014, 11:25 a.m.
Sexism, misogyny and online attacks: It’s a horrible time to consider yourself a ‘gamer’

28 August 2014, 11:54 a.m.
Fanboys, White Knights, and the Hairball of Online Misogyny

28 August 2014, 1:21 p.m.
An awful week to care about video games

28 August 2014, 1:30 p.m.
[UPDATED] A Disheartening Account Of The Harassment Going On In Gaming Right Now (And How Adam Baldwin Is Involved)

28 August 2014, 3:29 p.m.
Gaming Is Leaving “Gamers” Behind

28 August 2014, 4:05 p.m.
Misogynistic Trolls Drive Feminist Video Game Critic From Her Home

28 August 2014, 7:57 p.m.
A Guide to Ending "Gamers"

28 August 2014, 8:00 p.m.
We Might Be Witnessing The 'Death of An Identity'

28 August 2014 (no time given)
The End of Gamers

29 August 2014, 12:00 a.m.
The death of the “gamers” and the women who “killed” them

At least one of these articles includes a video in which gamers are mocked for seeing what the video refers to as "a conspiracy."  And yet, fourteen articles all published within 24 hours containing essentially the same narrative, in multiple games journalism outlets ought to suggest at least some sort of collusion.  The collusion would later be confirmed by Milo Yiannopoulos (I'm no fan of Yiannopoulos, due to his intentionally provocative antics and some of his socio-political and economic views, but he has at least occasionally done some decent journalism).

The first video response to the "Gamers Are Dead" articles was published on the same date as the majority of the articles, 28 August 2014, by MundaneMatt, and can be seen here:




Some of the articles repeated claims by Anita Sarkeesian that she had been subjected to harassment including threats to the point that she had left her own home.  In response to these claims, I will offer a video by one "Sargon of Akkad," a gamer and YouTube personality who was involved in Gamergate (although this video was published nearly 8 months after the "Gamers are dead" articles, it is relevant to the claims she has made about harassment;  the Dorito earrings are in reference to an earlier scandal involving gaming "journalism" which is sometimes called "DoritoGate"):




Also relevant in this connection is a discussion by "One Angry Gamer" published in September of 2016 called #GamerGate Never Harassed Anita Sarkeesian, According To Crash Override Network.

Another video made in response to the "Gamers are dead"narrative was this (also published after the fact, but not as much later as the video from Sargon above, this one published with less than a month having passed, on 24 September 2014):




Also on 28 August 2014, the International Game Developers Association, concerned over reports of harassment and the like, published the IGDA Board of Directors Statement on Harassment.

Also on 28 August 2014, "TotalBiscuit" published a blog post titled "This game supports more than two players," in which he leveled criticisms at both pro-Gamergate persons and anti-Gamergate persons, but mostly criticized the Bifurcation Fallacy which was being used to oversimplify the situation and the stereotyping being done by both sides.  There were and are more than two neat little packages into which the various people on both sides can be put.  This more complex reality would soon contribute to the rise of the #NotYourShield hashtag, but that would be a few days later (3 September).




Also on 28 August 2014, Christina Hoff Sommers, a noted Second Wave Feminist, tweeted out a defense of gamers:




On the 29th of August 2014, "The Co-Optional Podcast Ep. 47 Ft. JonTron" was published on YouTube, recorded on the 26th:




Also on 29 August 2014, an article was posted at Return of Kings by Eric Crowley, questioning the origin of the threats against Anita Sarkeesian:  Did Anita Sarkeesian Fake Death Threats Against Herself?

On 30 August 2014, Chris "Zabant" Heeley of GamesNosh published the article "#Gamergate: The silly sounding, but sincere call for Fair Representation of ‘Gamers’ within the media."  In this article, Heeley attempted to make some sense out of what this was all about, and noted that the narrative being pushed by anti-Gamergaters was not supported by the "sheer amount of civil and rational discourse" going on at Twitter by those who identified with the hashtag.

Also on 30 August 2014, Alexander "Archon" Macris of The Escapist published a post in the fora there, affirming the site's dedication to journalistic integrity, noting that standards would be revised for contributors being included in their Twitter feed, and noting that The Escapist has been, since its first issue, about gamer culture, that they would continue to use the term "gamer" to refer to "a games enthusiast," and rejecting the "Gamers Are Dead" narrative.

On the same date, "InternetAristocrat" published his third video (which is, I believe, linked above in the full collection of his GamerGate videos, but here's another mirror for this video by itself), and "MundaneMatt" released another video, suggesting a possible conflict of interest on the part of Leigh Alexander in working for a gaming PR consulting firm while also writing for Gamasutra:




For her part, Leigh Alexander had also done something, less professional than MundaneMatt's video, on the 30th of August 2014, on Twitter:




Also on 30 August 2014, someone anonymously posted (at Pastebin) information given by a former co-worker of Maya Felix Kramer (Zoë Quinn's PR rep), which alleged bullying, career sabotage, and other unethical behavior on Kramer's part, and specifically mentioned TFYC.

Christina Hoff Sommers, on 30 August 2014, tweeted again, this time talking about how gamers were being bullied:




On 31 August 2014, Vice blogger Helena Horton tweeted out that Gamergate was a reason to kill all men, as preserved in this tweet.  I'll reproduce the image here for my own archive:




On 1 September 2014, Milo Yiannopoulos published an article in which he wrote:

Instead of addressing allegations of corruption, examining their own prejudices and giving consideration to an industry-wide failure to provide any kind of acceptable service, the games press rounded on its own readers, accusing them of bigotry and misogyny and refusing to acknowledge that the community was sick of being lectured to and guilt-tripped on a daily basis by hypocrites and liars.

You can read the full article here (and it is worth reading, especially if you would like some idea of what has been going on under the name of "Feminism" in the past few years, because it's not the same thing as the Feminism women in my generation grew up with;  I will advise you to take a few grains of salt with you when you go to read it, as Yiannopoulos has an axe or two to grind, and seems to revel in his reputation as a "provocateur"):  Feminist Bullies Tearing the Video Game Industry Apart.

Also on 1 September 2014, Jenn Frank published an Op/Ed piece in The Guardian in which she devoted a single sentence to gamers' concerns about corruption and the lack of integrity and ethics in gaming journalism, and dismissed it as nothing but a tactic to conceal what she alleged was the actual agenda of gamers, namely, a sexist attack upon Sarkeesian and Quinn.  The focus of her article was on these two women and how they were, in her mind, being harassed for being "brave" women.  Here is a link to the article:

How to attack a woman who works in video gaming

The first comment on the op/ed is worth quoting.  It was written by Jennifer Reed:

"We" including countless women are not harassing Anita and Zoe. A SELECT MINORITY within the gaming community are harassing her, and that is extremely offensive to people such as myself who love the gaming community and have never been harassed for being female. Those people do not represent gamers. We do not hate women. This hasn't even been about Anita or Quinn for the past several days. If you want to see some positivity, check out the #GamerGate tag. A lot of us are supporting women including Christine H Sommers.

The second comment, by one "BearMode," is also worthy of note:

The entire crux of this conflict has not been about harassing women, but about exposing the incestuous relationships between various gaming journalism outlets and the game developers they clam to be there to criticize.

Before the day was over, someone on Reddit exposed connections between Frank and Quinn and Kramer, asking rhetorically if there be "any cases where gaming journalists aren't corrupt."  Further, a video was released by Walter Bryn, wherein he narrated the results of the investigations done by "CameraLady," pointing to still more corruption in the independent games scene, PR connected thereto, and the Independent Games Festival (IGF):




On the same date, 1 September 2014, "Operation Disrespectful Nod" was launched.  This was consumer activism, in which gamers contacted the companies which were buying advertising on the sites which had published the "Gamers Are Dead" articles to complain about those sites' mischaracterization of the gaming community, and to ask the companies in question to stop advertising on those sites.

On 2 September 2014, "A Woman’s Perspective on #GamerGate" was published at GamesNosh, in which the author pointed out that the core message of Gamergate was being lost in much drama over gender, but that GamerGate is not about gender.  I reproduce this important portion of the article:


The gaming media is what matters to many supporters of #GamerGate. We are asking for a better standard of ethics from gaming bloggers. We are asking for more transparency and more disclosure. We are asking that all indie game devs get a fair shake and there is no favoritism. We are asking that opinions and editorials are not reported as news and/or fact.

The opposition of #GamerGate seems to be systematically ignoring those of us who are women and who support #GamerGate. In the past few days, I have connected with countless other women on Twitter through this hashtag. We are ignored by many members of the media who make this out to be a gender issue. We don’t fit their narrative. If we were not ignored, then #GamerGate would no longer be a gender issue and the requests for a better standard of ethics would be at the forefront.

Also on 2 September 2014, "TotalBiscuit" released a parody of Shania Twain's song "That Don't Impress Me Much," satirizing pretentiousness among some independent games devs.

On the same date, Boogie2988 started an online petition "asking indie developers, AAA developers, and other folks to stop branding gamers as neckbearded, misogynistic, hatefueled, ignorant, homophobic, idiots."

Also on 2 September 2014, Benjamin Quintero published a blog post on Gamasutra called "Can We All Just Get Along?"  Among other things, Quintero wrote:

I'm trying to find reasoning in what game's journalists are thinking when they set out on a tirade against the people who basically keep them employed.  I could be wrong about this, but I never considered players of games to be nearly as enthusiastic about combing the web for articles and clicking on ad riddled pages to read singular opinionated pieces that belittle their intelligence.

On 3 September 2014, "Ninouh90" created the hashtag #NotYourShield which, according to the GamerGate Wiki, << has many different meanings to many different people, but one of its primary focuses is to highlight the diversity of gaming and of "Gamers". It also stands to be a symbol that corrupt journalists, media companies and bloggers are 'not your shield' from criticism. >>  This hashtag has been used by many who support Gamergate who were being ignored (or worse, accused of being sock puppets) by both gaming journalism and mainstream media, as well as Sarkeesian and Quinn themselves, pushing the narrative that GamerGate was nothing but a lot of teen and twenty-something, cisgender, heterosexual, white males.  I (Giovanna) am a bisexual woman of mixed ethnic origins and a member of Generation X.  These "journalists" do not speak for me, and I will not be their shield in their attempts to deflect valid criticisms by accusing the critics of sexism, homophobia, racism, and so on.  I myself will criticize them for the same lack of journalistic integrity, and I will myself criticize Sarkeesian's Authoritarianism masquerading as Feminism, and I myself will condemn efforts of neo-puritans and pseudo-puritans to impose their own neurotic desires for censorship on the gaming industry.




Also on 3 September 2014, "MundaneMatt" published another video:




Other videos also published on the same date, 3 September 2014, include this one by "EventStatus":




A great deal more occurred after the 3rd of September 2014 and before the end of 2014 which could be included in this post about the origin and early history of Gamergate, but 1. they are, for the most part, beyond the scope of this post (a notable exception is the question concerning the colors of Vivian James' hoodie, which I will address below), and 2. I need to stop somewhere.  I reckon the creation of the #NotYourShield hashtag, and the videos by MundaneMatt and EventStatus on the same date, are a decent stopping point, as these were challenges to the narrative being pushed by the anti-GamerGate people, and showed the narrative to be false.  Gamergate continued on after the end of the year, and in fact continues to this day.  I will therefore add a few notable references as what might be regarded as "appendices" to the main body of the post.  There were also events which preceded "The Zoe Post," and I have touched upon these to some extent, but, while several of them produced underlying tensions which contributed to the birth of GamerGate, they are themselves not considered to be part of Gamergate, except as "prehistory."  In any case, both this "prehistory" and a more complete history of GamerGate have both been presented elsewhere (notably here and here, which were my two main sources for this post, supplemented by my own searches, the GamerGate community on Google Plus, and links supplied to me by il mio caro).

A claim which has been repeated often is the allegation that the "purple and green" of Vivian James' hoodie was chosen because the colors featured prominently in a "meme" (actually a .gif) which was apparently at one time posted fairly often in 4chan.  I'm not going to include the .gif file, nor a link to it here.  This blog may be intended for mature audiences, but it's not intended to be X-rated.  Those whose curiosity gets the best of them can find the image with relative ease.  On 19 September 2014, The Fine Young Capitalists issued a statement "On conspiracies," wherein they addressed the question of the colors used in Vivian James' hoodie (pointing out and explaining apophenia, for example), and on 30 October 2014, the question was posed at reddit, which led to a discussion thread, in which was said, among other things, that since the artist was "Anon" (an anonymous user) of the /v/ board at 4chan, getting an answer would be difficult.  In the same thread, reddit user ThriKr33n posted:
Purple is also the main background colour of /v/, and the green for the clover, 4chan's logo.

I personally would like to point out that a cartoon redheaded girl wearing green and violet predates any Dragonball imagery by decades, and that my first view of the original design of Vivian James put me in mind of the same girl:


Daphne Blake of Scooby Doo, Where Are You? who became a part of our culture in 1969


As has been pointed out already in the link to the reddit discussion on this question, it would be difficult to get an answer from the person who anonymously posted on /v/ almost two years ago and gave the gaming world the first image of Vivian James.  If I had to hazard a guess, however, I would think that Daphne would be a more likely inspiration in the choice of colors.  In short, there's no way to know, but it seems like a baseless allegation in an attempt to cast further aspersions.  I think Vivian James is a cute design, and I've used violet and green together for several years in my signature art, and was intentionally picking out clothes that had both violet and green or purple and green, a long time before any of this.  The colors go well together, and ultimately, I am going to go with aesthetics as the explanation of the colors of her hoodie.

On 5 September 2014, The Young Turks Community Contributor and avid gamer Nick Daneliak broke down the real issues behind Gamergate in this video:




On 25 October, TYT Nation did a livestream about GamerGate, later published on YouTube here (warning:  this video is over four hours long):




On 27 October 2014, Christina Hoff Sommers released the following video:




On 15 November 2014, this video was published by "Video Game Journalism (YTheAlien)":




And I think that video alone says a considerable amount.

On 18 January 2015, this video was posted, showing why Sarkeesian is so disliked by Gamergate:




On 16 April 2016, the findings of a study on sexism in video games and its relation to sexist attitudes in real life, "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers? A Longitudinal Study on the Relationship Between Video Game Use and Sexist Attitudes," by Breuer Johannes, Kowert Rachel, Festl Ruth, and Quandt Thorsten, was published in Volume 18, issue 4 of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.  Among other things, the abstract says:  "Controlling for age and education, it was found that sexist attitudes—measured with a brief scale assessing beliefs about gender roles in society—were not related to the amount of daily video game use or preference for specific genres for both female and male players."




As the two-year anniversary of the beginnings of GamerGate drew nearer, on 22 June 2016, we got this commentary from Christina Hoff Sommers and Camille Paglia (for anyone who's been living under a rock for the past 50 years, Camille Paglia is one of the icons of Second Wave Feminism;  while I disagree with her on Transgender issues, she's generally one of the rational voices in the spectrum of Feminism):




In a related discussion published two days earlier, the two touch upon some of the underlying causes of the sort of anti-choice Feminism espoused by Sarkeesian:





On 5 July 2016, Liana K published a video on YouTube called "Objectification Theory in Video Games: Just the Facts (Gamer's Guide to Feminism)," which may be seen as a response to the *ahem* exaggerated claims of such "critics" as Anita Sarkeesian.

On 21 August 2016, Brad Glasgow published a post on the social network Allthink, with the title "No, Gamergate is Not Right Wing."  While I do not agree with all of his conclusions (and I note that I was not consulted for any of his polls, but I will also admit to not being well-known as a supporter of GamerGate), I do agree that Gamergate is not a Right Wing or Reactionary movement;  it's a consumer revolt movement, which is made up of a very diverse group of people, who have a wide variety of perspectives on any number of questions.  The solidarity we share is based on our love of games and gaming, our general agreement that video games journalism ought to be held to a standard of integrity, transparency, and professional ethics, our tendency to believe that censorship is generally undesirable and unnecessary, and our affirmation that video games do not belong to any one social, political, or economic demographic.

We are gamers.  We are alive.  We are diverse.  We are Not Your Shield.  We are GamerGate.




Now, "Where's the 'love story' in all of this?" you ask?  Is is not obvious?  The love story is the story of gamers and our love for the games we play, our love for our hobby, our love for our already very diverse community, our love for gaming and gamers being treated fairly and represented honestly.  So "Vivi and Gigi" in the title represent Vivian James ("Video Games" or Vivi) and GamerGate (or GG).



...


#GamerGate #Gamergate #NotYourShield














Post Script:
It turns out the FBI investigated all of the reports of harassment, threats, etc, and concluded their investigation finding no credible evidence to support the claim that Gamergate was or is a harassment campaign, as reported here:

The FBI Investigation into Gamergate is Closed

and here:









Disclaimers and Disclosures:

Disclaimers:  Yes, my name is Giovanna.  Yes, it's my real name.  No, I'm not Giovanna Barreto, Head Producer of The Fine Young Capitalists, and in fact I had never heard of her before I dug deeper into the origins of GamerGate for this blog post.  The identity of name had no bearings on my findings.  The only "vested interests" I can be accused of having in my examination of these questions are the fact that I am (and have been for a long time) a gamer, that I have worked in the gaming industry, that I find anti-choice (that is, authoritarian) Feminism to be an affront to rationality and tolerance, and that I support variety and choice for gamers in games.  This latter does not mean that I believe that "anything goes" should be the policy, but merely that I think many limitations are unnecessary, irrelevant, pointless, and even detrimental (in several ways).  Giving players more available options is good for both the gaming community and the gaming industry, and, for what it's worth, society as a whole (because presenting bifurcation fallacies betrays limited imagination, contributes to limiting the imagination of others, and serves to perpetuate the poisonous assumption which I and others have at times referred to as "monopolistic dualism").

A few Disclosures (some of which are probably not revelations to people who have read my blog or followed me on Google Plus), in order to nip in the bud any allegations against me by opponents of Gamergate:


  • I am female.
  • I am of mixed ethnic origins.
  • I am bisexual (while this should not require a disclaimer, I feel the need to provide one, since bisexual persons are still subject to considerable misunderstanding and misrepresentation:  bisexual does NOT mean polyamorous, and I am not polyamorous, although I don't condemn those who are, as long as they respect the exclusivity of the relationship I'm in;  I am involved in an exclusive monogamous relationship, and not interested in being unfaithful to my man).
  • I am of Generation X.
  • I am progressive, which refers to my views on social issues.
  • I am a civil libertarian, which ought to be self-explanatory, but in case it's not, it means I support the protection and increase of civil liberties, and oppose infringement on those liberties;  it does NOT mean that I support the irrational pseudo-philosophy of Ayn Rand or the so-called Libertarian Party.
  • I am to the left of center (but not quite far left), which refers to my views on economics.
  • I am not A feminist, but I am feminist (sex-positive, mind you, and by no means androphobic, and also in support of autonomy instead of kissing the ring of whichever "feminist" is trying to impose her own personal vision of Feminism on the movement as a whole), which is to say that I am informed by some of the things which some feminists say, but Feminism (or rather, some perspectives under that umbrella) is only one of many philosophies which inform my perspective, and it is not my worldview.  I absolutely do not support Authoritarianism masquerading as Feminism.
  • I believe in social justice and human rights for all, including all the colors of the LGBTI rainbow, and have advocated for the same for a considerable amount of time (I was also a Moderator at an LGBTI support group for a few years, beginning back before all the Gamergate stuff got started, and would still be in that position had the group not been deleted by the host somewhat recently, for reasons which have not been made plain to me or the group owner, but we do know that the host deleted all groups, and not just ours), but I am NOT part of what is sometimes referred to as "the regressive left," and I am NOT what some people mean when they speak of "SJWs."
  • I have been playing and refereeing RPGs since the first hardback rulebooks for AD&D were coming out, and video games for about the same length of time.
  • I have worked in the gaming industry, for more than one company, on no less than three different games, in a variety of capacities, and my work experience was almost ten years (and yes, I could still be working in the industry, but my reasons for not doing so are currently my own reasons which I may eventually discuss, but not at this time).




Previous blog posts in my "About Feminism" series:

A Few Comments about Feminism (aka "About Feminism, Volume I, Number 1")

Art About Feminism (aka "About Feminism, Volume I, Number 2")






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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Menagerie, Part 1, or, Dimensions of Perspective




The Menagerie, Part 1,
or,
Dimensions of Perspective,
by Liviana (Giovanna L.)


For at least several decades, we have been presented with a single line continuum, which purports to explain "politics" in terms of a one dimensional view.  Here is a typical example:




This old one-dimensional line continuum going "Left to Right" and equating one end with "Liberal" and the other with "Conservative" (and the center with "Moderate") is an expression of bifurcation fallacy, the plague of Western societies for some 1,500 years.  It's part of monopolistic dualism, the metaphysical, ethical, and political worldview of those who have not liberated their minds from this dogma.  It is also extremely simplistic.  It is a limited perspective, and it seeks to limit our own perspective.

Reality, though, is not simple.  In fact, there are no less than six or seven distinct axes on which all of this can, and should, be measured, not just one.

Left/Center/Right is about Economics.  Liberal/Moderate/Conservative is about Society and Culture (these are two distinct axes, and ideally, distinct terminology should be used for the two separate axes, but the two overlap at some points, and people are accustomed to looking at them in similar ways, even when they recognize the distinctions).  There have been times when "liberal" was used in Economics, but in those cases, it has always meant "Right Wing," in that it's about license for the corporation, and not economic liberty for people.

I shall elaborate on these more, a bit later, and give some explanation of terms, but before I get into that, I will present some other schemes for understanding perspective, which expand from one dimension.

One of the earlier efforts was what is sometimes called "Horseshoe Theory," which took the one-dimensional line and bent it to form a parabolic or horseshoe-shaped line.  This was a transformation from one dimension into two, and, while it left the two poles assigned to "Left" and "Right" or "Liberal" and "Conservative," it also posited "Tolerant" and "Intolerant" dividing the line into an upper and lower, with the curve above and the two ends below.  It was said that those above the line were "Tolerant" and those closer to the poles were "Intolerant."  That those closer to the poles had very different ideas, but very similar practices.  However, the horseshoe makes it seem like the only "Tolerant" perspective is somewhere in the center of the parabolic line, and that's just not so.  You have an entire sheet of graph paper, but the only possible points in the horseshoe are on that one parabola, and not all over the page;  this was obviously better than the one-dimensional line, but still left quite a bit to be desired.  While this theory is attributed to French writer Jean-Pierre Faye, and dated to 2002, I know firsthand that the concept was in use as early as the 1970s, as I saw it in the doctoral dissertation of one of my professors back in the early 1980s, as he was showing it to me and explaining, one afternoon when I had gone to his office to discuss religion and politics, so I do not know where Faye got it, but I do know it was not a new idea when he published.

Perhaps the best known of these efforts to expand understanding of perspectives is the two-dimensional (employing two axes, whereas the single line continuum uses but a single axis) diagram used in the "My Political Compass" test, which, as far as I have been able to discover, came out sometime in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, but which is based on earlier conceptions like the Pournelle chart and the Nolan chart, both devised in the 1960s.  The "Political Compass" chart looks like this:




This is certainly a more complete picture than what we have seen for so long, in that it separates what it labels a "social scale" from the economic scale.  While an improvement, it is still too simple for a complete understanding of the way in which we think, because it has omitted other axes which are also relevant.  I have taken this test a number of times over the years, and my score is fairly consistent;  I am always in the green quarter of the graph, which results in my being labeled a "Left-libertarian."  This term is more widely used outside the United States, and has no reference to the American political party known as "The Libertarian Party."  Due to this political party, "libertarian" when used in the US to refer to a perspective which is generally called "civil libertarianism" in the US (and it certainly is used in this sense in the US), is usually if not always left without the initial letter capitalized.  The results I get are usually something like this (this is the result I got sometime back in the latter years of the past decade, so sometime around 2009):

My Political Compass Test Results (circa 2009)
Economic Left/Right: -7.12
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.72
(Left-libertarian)

My Political Compass Test Results (August 2016)
Economic Left/Right: -7.5
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -7.79
(Left-libertarian)

I'm not satisfied with the older result, for a number of reasons, but mostly because I view myself as more "socially libertarian" than that test showed (I also think the more recent test doesn't measure my views on "social libertarianism" accurately).  The first time I can recall having taken it  (sometime around 2007), I scored a bit less Leftist and a bit less "Social Libertarian," and on a more recent test (sometime in the past 2 years), I was about the same as far as Left and Right, but a bit more "Social Libertarian."

In 2002, Max Barry published an online "political simulation" game called "NationStates."  In this, he had devised a scheme using three dimensions to understand perspectives.  These three dimensions were explained in three axes pertaining to Politics, Civil Liberties, and Economics.  A cube was used to illustrate, with names for his game which are not very helpful for my present discourse.  However, someone (perhaps Barry himself) did another graphic illustration, which I reproduce here:




Now we're starting to get somewhere.  During the time when I played this game, my rating hopped around between what the image above would characterize as "Everyday Liberalism," "Utopian Socialism" and "Liberated Socialism."  I however must disagree with the characterization of "Economic Freedom" positing the Far Right as "libertarian."  While such a usage is consistent with the irrational pseudo-philosophy of Ayn Rand, which forms much of the basis for the American political party known as "the Libertarian Party," it's not particularly realistic (and therefore not particularly helpful for explaining perspectives).  Economic Freedom should be seen in terms not of corporations, but of people.  The further to the Right a society's economic system goes, the less economic freedom the ordinary citizen will have, while economic freedom will become increasingly limited to an ever-shrinking number of citizens, the wealthiest.  This is because economic freedom is not freedom of corporations from government regulation, but rather, the freedom of people to act, to consume, to strike, and so on.  The less wealth the masses have, the less freedom they have to act, to choose what they consume (and how much), and to risk their employment by going on strike.  Nevertheless, a three-dimensional scheme for understanding perspectives is superior to a two-dimensional scheme, and certainly superior to one which is merely one-dimensional.  However, even this is too limited to explain all that makes up perspective.  Unfortunately, moving on to additional dimensions becomes challenging to represent with imagery, or even to conceive as a shape within the mind.  However, we must press on if we are to gain a more complete picture, and I will offer a very ... "allegorical" ... attempt to represent the more expanded dimensional measure later.

The Center for a Stateless Society, more commonly known as "C4SS," an anarchist group which holds as its ideal a society without government, came up with a five-dimensional measure.  For several years, their quiz has not been giving results.  However, sometime very recently (I believe it was in August of 2016, so this very month, as I looked near the end of July of 2016, and it was still saying that it wasn't giving results), that changed.  That is not all which changed at the time;  the test is now different, the results are ordered differently, and the names of the categories have been changed.  Here is a comparison:



My C4SS Ratings (circa 2009)
58% Economic Leftist
63% Anarchist
79% Anti-Militarist
67% Socio-Cultural Liberal
80% Civil Libertarian


My C4SS Ratings (August 2016)
67% Economic Leftist | 33% Economic Rightist
89% Social Liberal | 11% Social Conservative
100% Civil Libertarian | 0% Civil Authoritarian
48% Antistatist | 52% Statist
90% Anti-Militarist | 10% Militarist


In the older scheme, I objected to the conflation of Social with Cultural, because the two are similar and related, but not identical.  In  the newer scheme, the name has been altered from "Socio-Cultural" to "Social," but I think the test still measures both as if they were the same thing, and this is not so.  In my view, a sixth axis should be added, to distinguish Social and Cultural into the two dimensions which they represent.

So what exactly do all these terms mean?  What are these different dimensions and the axes used to measure them?

~ Right/Center/Left is, generally, about Economics.  This concerns wealth, production, management, regulation, labor, and so on.  The extreme Left would be Collectivism (Communism or Communalism), and the extreme Right would be Unbridled Capitalism ("Rugged Individualism" and "Greed is Good" perspectives typically associated with "Objectivism," an irrational pseudo-philosophy which was produced by a damaged personality) or even further right, State-Supported Corporatism (Fascism).  There are also Socialists who are on the left, but are not Marxists, and don't believe in Collectivism.  They believe the producers should own the means of production;  that's not Collectivism because the factory/farm/workshop would not belong to everyone, but only the workers.  And a bit less to the Left are Tribalists, who also don't believe in Collectivism, but rather, in Cooperativism.  I myself am a Tribalist (which is probably fairly accurately measured both in the Political Compass results above which have me at "-7.12 Economic Leftist," in the earlier results and "-7.5 Economic Leftist" in the more recent Political Compass results, and the more recent C4SS results which have me at "67% Economic Leftist").

~ Politics is about who has a voice in political decisions, and ranges from pure Democracy, where every damned thing is determined by referendum, and a majority rules (without necessarily having any concern for the rights of the minority perspectives, and so may be nothing more than mob rule), where everyone  who is a citizen votes, to autocracy, where one person decides everything for everyone else.  C4SS used to say "Anarchy" is one end and "Autocracy" is the other end, but that's because C4SS is "Center for a Stateless Society" (an anarchist group), and therefore idealizes Anarchism.  I'm in favor of a democratic-republic with sophocratic tendencies.  Politics is also about centralization vs decentralization, which should probably be its own dimension/axis.  On this question, I'm somewhere in the middle, in that I am inclined to prefer decentralization of government power, but still believe that some centralized authority should deal with foreign powers, mediate between member-states, and ensure civil liberties for all citizens, regardless of the views of the smaller, more local communities.  In either case, the C4SS rating I have on Anarchist/Antistatist vs Autocraticist/Statist puts me somewhere near the center, the older results putting me more in favor of Anarchy/Antistatism, and the more recent test having me fairly centered on the question, but slightly toward the opposite direction.  I suspect the more recent results are more accurate, not in putting me on the side of Autocracy/Statism, but in putting me nearer the center.  I do believe in the need for government, but I believe it should be limited in what it can do, especially insofar as it might interfere with individual liberties.

~ The next dimension has to do with "Militarism" and "Anti-Militarism."  I prefer to see it rather as a contrast between "Imperialism" and "Non-Interventionism."  You can have a military for defense without going around waving your penis in everyone's face.  In fact, I think it's important to have a military, but I do not think using it for conquest, or imposing one nation's will on other nations, is a good thing.

~ Social and Cultural.  Two different things.
So here we have some different options.  First, let me distinguish between "Social" and "Cultural."  It's not a huge challenge to see the distinction, although those who have not thought about it may assume an identity of the two.  Society in the U.S. is one thing, and I'm not going to get into social classes in American society here, because social classes in America overlap, to a large extent (but not entirely) with economic classes, and that's not a natural way of making distinctions.  The natural way has to do with family, work, and proximity, and not with who has the most wealth.  Since I don't want to get into social classes in this post, I'm just going to focus on society as a whole.  America has its own society, and Americans are all part of it, regardless of our social and/or economic class.  However, in spite of there being only one overarching society in America, there are multiple cultures within that society.  Gaelic was spoken widely in North Carolina until the beginning of the 20th century.  There are vestiges of Broad Scots throughout the South, especially in the Smokies and the Ozarks and Ouachitas.  Certain areas of Louisiana are still very much Cajun French.  San Francisco has Chinatown.  Any large city likely has a barrio.  There is an area of Texas where the majority of settlers were of German and/or Austrian origin, so you have German communities, Bohemian communities, etc, where they continue some of their ancestral cultural traditions and have festivals every year, like the Wurstfest in New Braunfels, and most of them have a very prominent Oktoberfest.  Boston has a strong Anglo-Irish culture.  Chicago and Brooklyn have strong Italian communities, also a Greek community in Chicago and a Jewish community in Brooklyn.  There are a lot of Italians in northern New Jersey, too.  Minnesota and Wisconsin have a lot of Norwegian and Swedish cultural tradition.  And so on.  Point being, there is one society here, and that has to do primarily with how society is ordered by concepts of what is "acceptable" or "not acceptable," but there are many cultures, and that has to do with tradition and heritage (by "heritage," I mean not DNA, but culture;  culture is not genetic, but must be taught/learned).

Both society and culture are considered in terms of Modernist (or Liberal) to Conservative.  The extreme Modernist would be iconoclastic and radical, and the extreme Conservative would be traditionalist and reactionary, and of course there's some Moderate in the middle in each case.

I think society should always be open to change, so I'm more or less Modernist (Liberal as in permissive/relaxed rather than uptight and insisting on maintaining the status quo, or Progressive as in being in favor of progress rather than resistant to [or cautious about] change which is Conservative, or hostile to change to such an extent as to want to roll it back which is Reactionary) on questions of Society.  The more recent C4SS rating I have on this question puts me at "89% Social Liberal."  I suspect that's probably fairly close to an accurate assessment.  But next is where we go all aglee.

Culture, I think, should only change when there's an actual need to change, but even then, it should only change in ways which will not add things inconsistent with the underlying worldview of the culture.  So here, I'm somewhere between being resistant to change and hostile to change.  I do not think, for example, that a culture should be eclectic.  I think that if any external concepts are brought in, they should be consistent with what's already there (so syncretic rather than eclectic).  I'm not absolutely opposed to change, nor even to adapting things from other cultures;  I'm just extremely cautious about it, to the point that I think some things which have been added may need to be removed.  Like societies which are predominantly Celtic in culture?  Should be speaking a Celtic language as their first language, should teach a Celtic language from birth and certainly in school, should teach all classes in that language, should have their own television stations, radio stations, and newspapers in their own language, and NOT in English (Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, Ireland) or French (Britanny).  English is certainly a very useful language internationally, but it should not erase distinct cultures, and language is the primary vehicle of culture.  That all said, however, I will note that the kind of "change" to which I refer is not growth.  Living cultures grow and change as a result of that growth;  without growth, a culture is dead.  We will not always sing only the same limited number of songs;  more will be composed.  We will not always tell only the tales which exist now, read only the books which have already been written, watch the television shows and movies which have already been made, play the games which have already been made, etc.  Innovation is perfectly acceptable, if it be done within the cultural context, and in a manner consistent with the worldview of the culture.  If the C4SS test no longer conflates Culture with Society (and it may well not, seeing the rather significant difference between my earlier results and my more recent results, and my own perception that it is probably a fairly accurate measure of my Social viewpoint), then I would have to rate myself in this dimension, and I would put myself somewhere around "70% Cultural Conservative."  Bear in mind that I am distinguishing Social and Cultural, as I have been at some pains to explain.  Also note that what some in the US refer to as "culture wars" are actually "social wars."  America has not yet developed a unique culture of its own, although it is on its way to doing so with things like Baseball/Softball, American Football, Star Trek (which I regard as the American Epic in the same sense that Homer's works are the Greek Epics, the Aeneid is the Roman epic, the Nibelungenlied is the German epic, etc), and assorted other "pop culture" from previous decades, as well as having developed its own musical genre, Jazz, which, however, has spread beyond the US and is now part of multiple cultures.  What these ideologues are battling over is not culture, but society.

~ The last category is about civil liberties and goes from libertarian to authoritarian.  the extreme on one end is licentiousness (absolute permissiveness, no law) and the other extreme is dictatorship wherein everything is legislated, what you can do, what you can't do, with no room for individual or tribal or cultural or whatever choice, but rather, everything dictated.

Obviously (to those who know me), I'm on the libertarian side of this, but not so far as to be licentious (so I think that 100% rating I got in my more recent results from the C4SS test is inaccurate;  it's probably somewhere between 90% and 100%), far enough that most people wouldn't consider me to be a moderate on the question and would recognize me as libertarian and opposed to authoritarianism.

Although representing six or seven dimensions visually, even in three dimensions, is challenging, I shall nevertheless offer what might be an "allegorical" attempt to represent them here in a two-dimensional image:




We see the blue triple intersection as our traditional three-dimensional axes, with X representing depth, Y representing width, and Z representing height.  The other letters here are shown at the corners of the cube.  A line from A to H would symbolize a fourth axis, another line from B to E would symbolize a fifth dimension, another from C to F a sixth dimension, and one more from D to G a seventh dimension.  We might then say that the the X axis represents Politics in the sense of Statism vs Anti-Statism, the Y axis represents Economics, and the the Z axis represents Civil Liberties, just as in Max Barry's ideocube.  But then we have A-H, B-E, C-F, and D-G as well.  I will arbitrarily assign these as follows:  A-H = Centralization/Decentralization, B-E = Imperialism vs Non-Interventionism, C-F = Social Views, and D-G = Cultural Views.

So then.  If I were going to rate myself, using the six or seven dimensions I perceive, and as I understand them, my perspective would be something like:


59% Decentralist
90% Non-Interventionist
90% Social Liberal
70% Cultural Conservative
50% Statist/Anti-Statist
70% Economic Leftist
95% Civil Libertarian


Finally, on each of these axes are a number of positions;  to engage in polarization, seeing only the perspectives at the poles of each axis, is still Bifurcation Fallacy.  The extremes are not the only options, but instead, there are many shades of grey between black and white.  All of these schemes have ratings along the various axes to plot a person's position on any given axis, as you can see from the percentages given in the C4SS and my own schemes, or the -10 to +10 ratings on the My Political Compass test.








The title of the post comes from Star Trek (The Original Series), Season 1, episode 11;  episode 12 overall;  production code 16.








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