False Consciousness & Kafka-Trapping
Lecture No. 9
“Never mind whether it’s Critias or Socrates who is the one refuted. Just concentrate on the argument itself, and consider what on earth will become of it if it is examined.”
– Socrates of Athens
It is necessary, at this point, to set aside the the thread I have been weaving, and take a detour into the deep wilderness of feminist logic. The phrase feminist logic will strike most of my readers as a misnomer – if not an oxymoron! – so let me reassure you that what I really mean is feminist attempted logic. And there is nothing logical about that, I assure you!
First, why is the use of logic so threatening to feminists? We know, assuredly, that it is – with some feminists going so far as to claim that logic is nothing but a tool of the patriarchy. Of course, this is absurd. Logical argument is, by definition, a collection of valid inferences – so it is not possible to argue against logic. To put it another way, you cannot reason against reasoning, because the very attempt to do so involves the (attempted) use of reason. The only way to attack logic without using (or attempting to use) logic would be to attack it most randomly – that is, without entailment. The argumentative points you make, in attacking logic, would have to have no relation to each other whatsoever. You could not say, for instance:
Men use logic to defeat women in argument, therefore logic is a tool of the patriarchy
because the use of “therefore” indicates a logical consequence, i.e. it indicates entailment, which is a matter of logic! This leaves the feminist with two unfavorable choices: she can state that logic is a tool of the patriarchy, without reference to premise, evidence, example, definition, and so on – without any reference, indeed, to reality; or she can accept that her own argument, because it attempts to link two propositions together on a logical basis, is itself a tool of the patriarchy – and as the proponent of the argument, so is she!
Hence, the appropriate response to the feminist argument that “logic cannot be trusted, because it is a tool of the patriarchy,” is to say: “and so are you! Hey – as a patriarch, I appreciate you doing my job for me!”
But again, why is logic so threatening to feminists? Could it be that feminists are simply misguided about the nature of logic? That is doubtful. Having seen feminists defeated by logic many times, I am quite sure that they fear it because that their beliefs cannot withstand it. Like any cult, feminism does not allow its members to investigate the truth, nor does it tolerate free and open discussion of its core beliefs. Still, none of this makes a bit of difference to us – as non-feminists, there is no human authority obliging us to hold our thoughts or tongues on the matter of feminism.
Yes, feminists fear logic because it contradicts other ways of ‘knowing’ the world – e.g. being told what to think. They also fear that logic will discredit ideological ‘truths.’ Feminists want you to see the world as they say you should see it – they certainly don’t want you coming to your own conclusions! Particularly not conclusions critical of feminist orthodoxy, derived, for instance, from the process of asking questions and receiving unsatisfactory answers. And yet this is precisely the outcome that feminists guarantee, when their anxieties over criticism and the consequences of open discussion cause them to react, kneejerk-fashion, with shaming tactics.
What would a discerning neutral observer think, when he hears a reasonable question answered with an attack against the interlocutor’s character? Will this inspire him to adopt all tenets of the questioned set of beliefs? Is he more likely to feel threatened into submission by the shaming tactic used against the gadfly, or to feel offended by proxy at the ideologue’s evasiveness and insulting manner?
Ideologues don’t tend to ask themselves searching questions like these. Small wonder, then, that the word ‘ideology’ began life as a term of abuse. It was not until Marx and Engels wrote The German Ideology that the phrase took on the characterization we associate today with identity politics. One’s ideology, they claimed, is the product of one’s social position – that is, whether one is a proletariat or a bourgeois. The socialist proletariat are the possessors of the ideology which reflects truth, while the capitalist bourgeoisie possess only ‘false consciousness.’ It is never explained how it is known that things are this way around and not the other – i.e., why can’t the bourgeoisie possess true ideology, and the proletariat be subjected to false consciousness? That question does not need to be answered, because Marxism is a closed system of thought. It is like a man who stands not on the ground, but somehow, on his own feet; any one part of Marxism stands upon the other parts of the theory, and does not depend upon the vagaries of the experiential world for support. In other words, what happens in the real world does not matter – Marxism is self-verifying. The truth which backs up its claims is located within the theory, utterly independent of any contrary evidence that can be gathered from the actual experiences of actual people.
It is much like feminism, then – being abstract and anti-contextual, deciding upon the story before the facts are known. Feminism, to feminists, requires no justification outside of itself. It is impenetrable by external argument, and thus irrefutable – because it is inherently unreasonable. That is to say, it cannot be reasoned with. It is a waste of time trying to get feminists to see sense, and every MRA soon learns that he will more easily squeeze blood from a stone. The only discourse which will make feminists sit up and change their ways is the discourse of power: and this is a discourse that must be backed by action. Anti-feminists must be comfortable with the idea of wielding power over feminists, at least enough to marginalize them into irrelevance. This is the end game. Building critical mass is how we get from here to there, but we take a step backwards every time we indulge feminists in their sophistry.
Take, for example, the feminist sophism that we are ‘locked in’ to a perspective determined by the sex we belong to. Any counter-feminist argument launched by a man, no matter how accurate his observations, no matter how evidenced his claims, can be dismissed on the grounds that it was made by a man. The argument goes like this: “you’re only saying that because you’re a man. If you weren’t a man, you wouldn’t have a male perspective, and so you wouldn’t be saying that.” The implication is that a male perspective is inherently wrong – that a man, owing to his being a man, is incapable of grasping truth. So you see, this is really the same ‘false consciousness’ trick as practiced by Marx and Engels and their followers – the feminist has not explained how or why it is that a woman’s perspective, owing to her being a woman, is necessarily the one which yields to truth.
The ‘false consciousness’ trick is, ultimately, an evasion. In one dishonorable move, the feminist has sidestepped the argument itself and attacked the interlocutor – “you can’t possibly be right, because you are male.” For the feminist, this is enough. She considers the matter closed, and moves on. By the same undisclosed reasoning by which Marx knew that the proletariat possessed the truth, the feminist ‘knows’ (i.e. strongly feels) that her own ideology possesses the truth. But that undisclosed reasoning, whatever it is, does not work in reverse. The feminist is confident enough that a counter-argument, using the same tactic – “you wouldn’t be saying that if you weren’t a woman” – is inapplicable and impossible. The implication is that feminist women view the world objectively, whereas mere men are ‘locked in’ to a privileged perspective and cannot see the way things truly are. An attack on the perspective of a man, for it being a male perspective – even the identification of a perspective as peculiarly ‘male’ – is nothing less than a statement of female supremacy.
As for non-feminist women, they too are oppressed by ‘false consciousness.’ You see, when women use their own minds to decide things for themselves, they are being manipulated by the patriarchy! But when they stop thinking for themselves, and defer to feminist consciousness without question, then their minds are ‘liberated!’ Do you see how this works?
Now, I hate to ruin their fun by being a man who says things he wouldn’t say if he wasn’t a man, but there’s something that doesn’t quite make sense about all this. What the feminists are trying to impart is a kind of sexual determinism. That is, the notion that they are attempting to propagate is one which states that our actions and behaviors are determined according to our sex, and we have no freedom of choice in the matter. We are moral robots, hard-wired from birth to view the world in one particular way, from which we cannot deviate.
This theory would only be meaningful if it could tell us how men and women will act or think. Yet, both men and women are far less predictable than the pigeon-holers of the world would like them to be. There are, for instance, feminists who are men, MRAs who are women, and people of both sexes who buck all the trends we can imagine. Feminist sexual determinism, then, has become a useless theory; if there is any truth to it, it is limited to those aspects of human behavior that cannot be identified. It has been reduced to tautology: we will always do those things which we will always do!
It hardly needs stating that men and women are not two opposed and internally homogeneous classes of people. Feminists would very much like them to be. Indeed, feminism rests upon this faulty perception. The idea that men and women should be opposed to each other is a feminist construction, and any deviation from this is a threat to the whole feminist enterprise – hence the imperative of familial destruction. This is also why the most venomous attacks are reserved for male ‘feminist allies.’ That small number of men who exert the strictest self-discipline in accordance with feminist orthodoxy come under the most fire for being not feminist enough. This happens because every man who is pro-female in the slightest is a thorn in the side of feminism, just as much as the most outspoken anti-feminist woman (perhaps even moreso: in the case of feminist men, there is no equivalent to the ‘false consciousness’ argument used to dismiss anti-feminist women). It must be denied that feminist men could ever be feminist enough! The illusion must be maintained that men are ‘the enemy’ – and this means repudiating the friendly intentions of male allies. In declaring themselves feminist, those men fail to conform to feminist sexual determinism, thus contradicting feminist theory and threatening the progress of the movement as a whole. It is not so easy to paint them as atavistic brutes, and this is largely down to their own efforts to make themselves amenable – which is precisely why they receive such vitriolic scorn.
To get back on track: there is more that Marxism and feminism hold in common than the Appeal to False Consciousness. Both fit a certain template, upon which we could map any modern radical ideology. Again, it is developments in language and thought which allow for the theoretical configurations making possible social movements like feminism. Socialism was only possible once the state and the economy were conceptually distinguished – in feudal times, no distinction between the two was discernible, rendering moot the possibility of a socialist system being idealized. It was in response to the rise of capitalism, with all that this entailed – Enlightenment thought, economic individualism, free markets, free labor, an end to tax farming, the formation of the business and working classes – that Utopian socialism and (later) Marxism became possible in the realm of the imagination.
Similarly, nationalism – in its modern form, as an ideology – only became possible once society and culture were distinguished in language and thought. Our question here is, what had to be distinguished before feminism could become a possibility?
This is a question which would take a great deal of space to answer – more space than I have available here. It will suffice to say that the escalating liberties being granted to men resulted in a divergence of expectations between men and women. Reasonably enough, we might think, a small number of women began to question why the Enlightenment notion of individual freedom extended only to men. However, what is often missed is that these women began from a position of strength – they were already the beneficiaries of Gynocentric cultural codes that placed them high above men, atop pedestals. Over the coming decades, men tripped over themselves delivering whatever women demanded. It is likely that most of them sincerely believed that individual freedom should be extended to women as to men. But the very fact that Gynocentrism was already in full force meant that female supremacy was the only possible outcome of feminism. The ‘equality’ feminists sought was an ‘equality’ to do all the things men are permitted to do, and to retain their traditional advantages over men, accrued through centuries of Gynocentrism. The recipients of additional advantages are, of course, not equal at all, but privileged at the expense of all others. This was always the intention.
Despite the occasional claims of feminists that they are dispensing with all forms of male thought and creating anew, feminism slots in neatly with other radical ideologies which preceded it (and which were, of course, dreamed up by men). To take the most obvious fact about modern radical ideologies, their basis is in forms of association – Marxists oppose the proletariat to the bourgeoisie, nationalists oppose their own culture or race to a culturally or racially diverse society, and feminists oppose women to men. The key relationships, used by ideologues as total explanations for all human phenomena, correspond to the forms of association which are emphasized. For Marx, the key relationship is economic – the control of the workers by the capitalists is an economic relationship, and all else (politics, religion, culture) is mere ‘superstructure’ atop this ‘base.’ The superstructure may change, but nothing fundamental will alter unless the economic relationship of the classes is reconfigured. Similarly, for nationalists, the key relationship is cultural (or racial, if the two are differentiated). This is the ‘base,’ upon which everything else is built. Changes to the superficial structures on top of the ‘base’ (e.g. modifications to political and social institutions) are irrelevant; the only fundamental change will come about via transformations in culture and/or racial demographics.
We find the same pattern in feminism. Opposing women to men, the key relationship for feminists is, of course, sexual. It is the relationship of men to women which determines all else (politics, economics, culture, religion, and so on). The elements of the superstructure may well change, but until the domination of women by men is smashed at the base level, nothing fundamental will be achieved.
It is this belief which ultimately explains feminist attempted logic. Their attempts at rational argument are clouded by a belief in collective guilt – that all problems or inconveniences faced by women result from this base relationship (the domination of women by men), so that, as long as problems or inconveniences remain, it must be the case that men (collectively) are dominating women (collectively). It does not matter if a particular man is innocent – he is still ‘the enemy,’ as feminists are more than willing to admit (see: The Redstockings Manifesto). Nor does it matter if a particular woman is guilty – she is absolved in the name of collective innocence.
And on these grounds, we encounter the peculiar feminist debating tactic called Kafka-Trapping. I did not invent the term; the credit must go to Eric S. Raymond, whose original article on the subject is linked below. Nor did Eric intend the term to be used only for feminists – any member of a victim ideology can effectively Kafka-Trap their opponents. The name, Kafka-Trapping, is a reference to Franz Kafka’s work The Trial, in which the protagonist is told that he is very, very guilty, although his crime is never specified; and, as he soon discovers, the only ‘way out’ is to admit his guilt (though he knows not what of), thus acquiescing in his own destruction.
In Eric’s own words, a Kafka-Trap is:
an unfalsifiable claim, about thoughtcrime, intended to induce guilt so the subject becomes manipulable.
The most chilling thing about this tactic is that the Kafka-Trapper declares your mind to be out of bounds to you – her judgment is a dismissal of your own opinion about your own thoughts. Think you know what you think? Think again, buddy!
Now, I shall reproduce, from Eric’s blog, six models of the Kafka-Trap which feminists will use against you. Learn them. Know them. Recognize them for what they are: nothing more than ad hominem evasions. Calling out the tactic, as a Kafka-Trap, is sufficient for its refutation.
(Note: in the following examples, I have used the terms ‘sexist’ and ‘sexism’ but these may be replaced by ‘misogyny,’ ‘woman-hating,’ ‘patriarchy,’ etc.)
Model A Kafka-Trap
Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of sexism confirms that you are guilty of sexism.
Model C Kafka-Trap
Even if you do not feel yourself to be guilty of sexism, you are guilty because you have benefited from the sexist behavior of others in the system.
Model P Kafka-Trap
Even if you do not feel yourself to be guilty of sexism, you are guilty because you have a privileged position in the sexist system.
Model S Kafka-Trap
Skepticism about any particular anecdotal account of sexism, or any attempt to deny that the particular anecdote implies a systemic problem in which you are one of the guilty parties, is itself
sufficient to establish your guilt.
Model L Kafka-Trap
Your insistence on applying rational skepticism in evaluating assertions of pervasive sexism itself demonstrates that you are sexist.
Model D Kafka-Trap
The act of demanding a definition of sexism that can be consequentially checked and falsified proves you are sexist.
It is the last model, Model D, which I find the most intriguing. It implies – and my experience with feminists verifies – that simply asking how to not be sexist will be taken as evidence of one’s sexism. The reason why I focused so heavily on definitions in my earlier lectures is because of the utility of attaching concrete meanings to terms. If we have a concrete definition of sexism, for instance, I could check my own behavior against this definition, and potentially discover that I do not fulfil any of the criteria – i.e., I am not sexist. But this does not satisfy the feminist notion of collective guilt. It feels like a panicked response on their part, then, to insist that any man who tries to discover whether or not he is sexist is automatically sexist simply for trying to find this out. In other words, he is a sexist for not wanting to be a sexist. Could there be any clearer indication that feminists want men and women to be two conflicting classes of people?
The purpose of the Kafka-Trap is to leave absolutely no room for the trapped individual to believe in his own innocence. A denial that he is oppressive is further evidence that he is oppressive; the only other option is to admit that he is oppressive, which is also evidence that he is oppressive. (Note the following from the Violence Wheel, designed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project: “saying the abuse didn’t happen” is abusive. So, you see, whether you plead “guilty” or “not guilty” in a court of law, both pleas are evidence of your guilt.) Oppression is alleged because the individual is a member of a group – but not necessarily one that he identifies with. The in-group identification is ascribed to the individual by the operator of the Kafka-Trap. To quote from Eric once more,
Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.
That actual transgressions are not specified is true for all models apart from Model S, in which a specific transgression is specified, but any doubt regarding the alleged victim’s account of things is taken as evidence that the doubter is guilty along with the alleged perpetrator. How familiar this all sounds! Is it not the precise experience of anyone who encounters feminists while discussing the prevalence of false rape accusations? On that note, I shall refer you to a comment from the feminist Amanda Marcotte, which she quickly deleted, but not before Fidelbogen saved a copy:
Let’s talk about Amanda Marcotte some more, shall we? In fact, in her honor, I would like to define a seventh model of the Kafka-Trap, Model J:
Model J Kafka-Trap
Even if your innocence is proven in a court of law, this not only confirms your guilt; it also confirms the guilt of the (legal) system that found you innocent.
Exhibit A for Model J is a series of comments that Amanda Marcotte made in the wake of the Duke Lacrosse false rape accusations. Unable to accept that the accused men could possibly be innocent (hey, why do we even have trials?), she said the following:
In the meantime, I’ve been sort of casually listening to CNN blaring throughout the waiting area and good fucking god is that channel pure evil. For awhile, I had to listen to how the poor dear lacrosse players at Duke are being persecuted just because they held someone down and fucked her against her will—not rape, of course, because the charges have been thrown out. Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair.
Leaving aside the content of her raging diatribe, doesn’t the style of her writing strike you as that of a twelve-year old, perhaps one who has only just discovered swear words, and believes that using them as much as possible is ‘cool’? In the spirit of this post, then, and given the evidence before us, I hereby believe that Amanda Marcotte is, in fact, twelve years old. Any argument to the contrary, from Amanda or anyone else, will be taken as further evidence that she is twelve years old.
All right then. Since she has clearly not been brought up properly, I shall recommend a regimen of discipline that will soon have her speaking as a proper young lady should! I suggest, first, that Amanda Marcotte shall have her mouth vigorously washed out with soap; next, that she shall receive a stern, bare-bottom spanking (over some patriarch’s knee, of course); and then, that she shall be sent to bed without dinner for a week. This will soon set her straight! And since I refuse to believe any evidence to the contrary of my opinion that she is twelve years old, any disagreement with my opinions on this matter shall only reinforce my contention that she is utterly deserving of this punishment. Now, what do you think about that?