On Thursday, the President of the United States caused quite the furore both at home and across the world when he reportedly said, referring to Africa and Haiti, 'Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?' before adding that he would prefer more people from Norway and similar countries coming to America. Spokesman Raj Shah polished this turd, saying, 'Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people. Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.' Now, Trump has a long history of racism both in word and deed, from practising housing discrimination against black people in the '70s and not complying with requests to end this practice to calling for the Central Park Five to be executed despite their proven innocence (saying 'Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!') and continuing to call them guilty as late as 2016 to saying that Barack Obama was not born in the United States to opening his 2016 campaign by saying that Mexicans are rapists who are bringing drugs and crime to personal attacks on black athletes for not standing for the national anthem to saying that there were some 'very fine people' in the fascist Unite the Right rally in August. But this is something even more incriminating. It is an open admission from Trump himself that he is a white nationalist and a eugenicist. White nationalists in the United States have long made their primary objective the establishment of a white ethnostate by either severely limiting or completely halting immigration by people of colour and incentivising immigration by white people. In short, a eugenics-based immigration policy. Eugenics has a long history in American immigration law: the Naturalization Act of 1790 restricted citizenship to 'free white persons'. The Act to Regulate Immigration of 1882 prevented 'any person unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge' from moving to the United States. The Chinese Exclusion Act of that same year specifically restricted Chinese people (and, as the result of ignorance on the part of white people, East Asians in general) from entering the country. And in 1924, the Immigration Restriction Act, which was deliberately created to prevent immigration from Italians and Jews, who were deemed to be 'dysgenic', was signed by Calvin Coolidge just before he remarked, 'America must stay American.' The words shat out of the President's anal mouth two days ago are not new and not 'un-American'. Indeed, they are in line with a history of racism, eugenics, and genocide that has defined the United States for centuries. But what is so shocking about them is that they are an explicit acknowledgement and affirmation of this bloody history—the essence of American white nationalism. Now, a sceptic might point out that Trump also reportedly suggested that he'd be more open to Asian immigration. Yet still, this comes with the addendum that Asian immigrants may be 'economically useful'. Modern eugenicists have frequently extolled the alleged superiority of East Asians, with white nationalist Jared Taylor saying that they are 'objectively superior to [w]hites' and 'human biodiversity' blogger Steve Sailer frequently extolling the alleged benefits of prioritising immigration by East Asians. Many white nationalists have maintained that a small East Asian immigrant population is acceptable so long as the majority remains white. Ever since he began his campaign, many people have alleged that Trump is a white nationalist. The case has remained open until now, for we finally have the smoking gun. The verdict is in: Donald Trump, the President of the United States, is a white nationalist.
[Content warning: Transphobia, minimisation of trans people's experiences, nonbinary invalidation, and mentions of and comparisons to racism.] I stumbled upon an article from the Conservative Tribune titled 'Johns Hopkins Psychiatrist Reveals Truth of What Really Happens to Transgender Men'. Needless to say, no 'truth' is 'revealed' and much less so of 'what really happens' to transgender 'men', by which the author means 'women'. For some ungodly reason, I decided to dissect it point-by-point and offer a rebuttal.
In the space of just a few years, political correctness dictated that anyone who dared deviate from the rubric that individuals were whatever gender they called themselves (or had themselves surgically-altered to resemble) was “transphobic.” This idea was based not off of science, which has been sorely lacking on the matter.
The science is not 'sorely lacking': there is a difference between biological sex (which, in itself, is simply a gendering of the spectrum of sex characteristics—it's not so much a biological 'fact' as a categorisation of a variety of different sex characteristics according to our perceptions of gender) and gender identity. Multiple studies show that the brains of trans women, trans men, and trans people in general differ in several key aspects, especially the superior longitudinal fasciculus, the right anterior cingulum, the right forceps minor, and the right corticospinal tract, even before hormone replacement therapy. (The same can safely be assumed for nonbinary-identified people.)
Instead, it’s based off of a feeling—the feeling that if a man says they were really born a woman, […]
First of all, even if it is 'just a feeling', so what? If someone feels bad because they have acne, would you tell them to suck it up and discourage them from seeking dermatological treatment? Second of all, gender dysphoria is much deeper than a 'mere' feeling. Take the case of David Reimer, a boy whose penis was accidentally removed during a botched circumcision. His parents took him to see John Money, a sexologist at Johns Hopkins University (curiously enough), who persuaded them that sex reassignment therapy was in his best interest. He later underwent hormone replacement therapy. None of this helped, and indeed, he developed severe gender dysphoria due to the fact that his gender identity was male but he was forced to live as a female. He committed suicide due to this. Now consider that this is what all trans people go through: we are forced to live as a gender we do not identify with and suffer significant mental distress from it.
[…] damn the chromosomal evidence and call them a woman, or else we call you a bigot.
This is a picture of women who have XY chromosomes:
They were assigned female at birth, lived their entire lives as women, never underwent gender confirmation surgery, never underwent hormone replacement therapy. They have androgen insensitivity syndrome. The vast majority of people with said syndrome never find out, and live their entire lives as women. Given that, would you call them 'men' simply because they have XY chromosomes?
There’s a good reason why the cultural left doesn’t mention science when it comes to the transgender debate. That’s because it isn’t on their side.
Strange, because I just provided plenty of sources supporting the side of the 'cultural left', and will be providing even more 'cultural leftist' sources below. As well, it would be a mistake not to mention Julia Serano, a transgender activist and biologist who's published multiple refutations of arguments about trans women not being 'real' women and myths around 'biological sex'.
In a 2016 piece for the Witherspoon Institute, one of the doctors who ran (and subsequently shut down) one of the pioneering sex-change surgery centers in America says that’s it’s an incontrovertible fact “transgendered men do not become women, nor do transgendered women become men.” Dr. Paul R. McHugh is a Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. He was also in charge of psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins, which pioneered sex change operations from 1975 to 2001. In 1979, he made the decision to halt operations after he saw what science had to say about those suffering from what we now call gender identity disorder — and it’s decidedly different than what the left would have you believe.
First: 'Gender identity disorder' is a deprecated term. The accepted medical terminology is 'gender dysphoria'. The Witherspoon Institute is a conservative think tank which funded the New Family Structures Study, a study of parenting by lesbian, gay, and bisexual parents which allegedly demonstrated a negative impact on said parents' children. The liberal American Independent News Network released emails between Mark Regnerus, who conducted the study, and Witherspoon employee Brad Wilcox which demonstrated that the Witherspoon Institute improperly influenced the study. Cynthia Osborne of the University of Texas-Austin (the same university at which Regnerus works) argued that it was unable to show 'whether same-sex parenting causes the observed differences' and that '[c]hildren of lesbian mothers might have lived in many different family structures, and it is impossible to isolate the effects of living with a lesbian mother from experiencing divorce, remarriage or living with a single parent.' Several writers criticised it for classifying children as raised by gay parents merely if one of their parents ever had a same-sex relationship before the child turned 18. Regnerus himself acknowledged that several other factors, including 'a lack of social support for parents, stress exposure from persistent stigma, and modest or absent legal security for their parental and romantic relationship statuses', might explain the differences observed in the study. Simon Cheng and Brian Powell, writing in Social Science Research, the same journal in which the original study was published, reanalysed the data from the study and found numerous measurement errors, concluding that its conclusions resulted from these errors and other methodological choices (including conflation of family structure and the parents' sexual orientation, anti-gay bias on the part of half of the peer reviewers, and the use of paid consultants to review the paper); they repeated the analysis with sound methods and concluded that the '[d]ifferences in being raised by gay/lesbian and heterosexual parents are minimal.' Dr. Paul McHugh's report for The New Atlantis, a journal published by the openly conservative Ethics and Public Policy Center, titled 'Sexuality and Gender: Findings from the Biological and Psychological and Social Sciences', was disavowed by multiple other faculty at Johns Hopkins University in an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun for, among other things, its lack of peer review, underemphasising the role of stigma in the mental health of LGBTQ+ people, and potential contribution to further stigma.
Jon Meyer, who headed up the university hospital’s Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit, studied a small sample of patients who had undergone sex change surgery. According to the Baltimore Sun, he found that while the surgical procedure may be “subjectively satisfying” for patients, there was “no objective advantage in terms of social rehabilitation.”
Subjective satisfaction is ultimately the point of gender confirmation surgery and other medical interventions for transgender people; 'social rehabilitation' is completely irrelevant and its mention implies that transgender people are somehow delinquent or criminal. Zinnia Jones, a trans woman and interdisciplinary researcher, points out the many, many flaws in Meyer's study in this article.
“With these facts in hand,” McHugh wrote, “I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness.” Almost 40 years after he shut Johns Hopkins’ operation down, McHugh still believes that transgenderism is fundamentally an illness — and one that the media is enabling. “The idea that one’s sex is fluid and a matter open to choice runs unquestioned through our culture and is reflected everywhere in the media, the theater, the classroom, and in many medical clinics,” McHugh wrote in the 2016 piece. “It has taken on cult-like features: its own special lingo, internet chat rooms providing slick answers to new recruits, and clubs for easy access to dresses and styles supporting the sex change. It is doing much damage to families, adolescents, and children and should be confronted as an opinion without biological foundation wherever it emerges.” *Sadly, the medical field has been taken in by the fashion of the moment, according to McHugh, which he says has left him as a lonely voice of reason speaking truth to power.* *“I am ever trying to be the boy among the bystanders who points to what’s real,”* McHugh wrote. “I do so not only because truth matters, but also because overlooked amid the hoopla — enhanced now by Bruce Jenner’s celebrity and Annie Leibovitz’s photography — stand many victims. “Think, for example, of the parents whom no one — not doctors, schools, nor even churches — will help to rescue their children from these strange notions of being transgendered and the problematic lives these notions herald.”
As a psychiatrist, Dr. McHugh might do well to revisit the literature on persecution complexes and look up the Galileo gambit. Also, he might do well to consider that the 'problematic lives' lived by transgender people are not due to the simple fact that they're transgender, but rather to stigma against transgender people, including the very stigma that he himself perpetuates.
Unlike the champions of transgender causes in the media, McHugh has 40 years experience working with transgender individuals. He’s not only seen the studies, he’s seen patients firsthand. Which means, of course, he’s considered a bigot by the left.
Many segregationists and eugenicists had decades of experience working alongside black people. Not only did they see the arguments and studies for and against eugenics, they'd met and even worked with black people firsthand. Yet they were still segregationists and eugenicists, which still made them bigots. Note the non sequitur in that paragraph. It's not his work and experience that causes the left (and liberals, and pro-trans libertarians and conservatives, and even pro-trans reactionaries) to call him a bigot, but rather his continuing attitudes as well as his advocacy against trans rights. Remember that individuals can contribute to structural prejudice, and through his dismantling of Johns Hopkins' gender clinic and his continued publication of anti-trans articles, he certainly is contributing to structural prejudice against trans people. As well, although I have a distate for standpoint theory, I must note that despite his experience working with trans people, he is not trans, unlike the aforementioned 'champions of transgender causes'. As such, he does not know what it is like to be a transgender person, and cannot speak from a place of experience as a transgender person.
A 2015 piece on McHugh by liberal online rag ThinkProgress was unsubtly titled “Meet The Doctor Social Conservatives Depend On To Justify Anti-Transgender Hate,” presumably by someone who has zero experience working with transgender individuals and has seen roughly zero patients suffering from gender identity disorder. Another piece from the folks at The Daily Beast identified McHugh as an “Anti-LGBT Doc.”
It takes only a quick check of the author (Zack Ford) to see that he's the LGBTQ editor at ThinkProgress and undoubtedly works with trans people daily, although he doesn't appear to be a doctor. I read the article and it seems like a fair, albeit biased, assessment. I recommend reading the article; it's well-sourced and well-cited and points out information demonstrating that his work is unscientific bullshit (especially the stuff about 'autogynephilia'). Also, Conservative Tribune could much more easily be categorised as a 'conservative rag' than ThinkProgress as a 'liberal rag'.
McHugh insists that he’s “not against transgender people,” merely that he’s “anxious they get the help they need.” But that’s the kind of attitude that doesn’t get you plaudits from MTV or courage awards.
This statement seems suspiciously similar to 'I'm not racist, I just think if those lazy blacks stop sagging their pants and get actual jobs, they'd be fine.' Any time someone begins with something along the lines of 'I'm not prejudiced against x, I'm just…' you know they're prejudiced.
That shouldn’t matter in the medical field — but alas, it does, including at the program which Dr. McHugh used to run. Thirty-eight years after McHugh made the decision to shut the sex-change surgery unit down, Johns Hopkins resumed a transgender health service with an accompanying surgical program.
And good on Johns Hopkins! Studies have demonstrated that gender confirmation surgery is indeed helpful at least 96% of the time for those who seek it. Trans people often don't get the care they need, so the more transgender health providers there are, the better.
On so many issues, we’ve come to a point where popular feeling can override scientific debate, or even established scientific facts. […]
[…] In this case, the danger isn’t just to a society where modishness is valued over facts. The biggest peril is upon those who are suffering from gender identity disorder, people who are being fed lies by a media and medical community whose sails are so rigged to be blown wherever the winds of public opinion may take them.
I agree that there is a peril to transgender people, but not from increasing acceptance and a medical community that is slowly adapting to us and to our concerns. The peril to us is from the still-lingering structural transphobia, which manifests itself in medical gatekeeping, sensationalist transphobic media, government action such as 'bathroom bills', and everyday invalidation such as deadnaming, misgendering, and various other little acts that only serve to reinforce our gender dysphoria and invalidate our very identities. To conclude, I must recommend three brilliant essays on gender identity. The first, 'The Case for Non-Binary Genders', summarises several arguments in favour of nonbinary identities and demonstrates the presence of nonbinary and transgender people in various cultures. The second, 'Non-binary biology', shows how each of us are a mosaic, and that no one is totally male or female biologically speaking. And the final, 'The Categories Were Made for Man, Not Man for the Categories', is one of my all-time favourites from one of my all-time favourite blogs, Slate Star Codex. I'll close with a quotation from that essay:
[M]ost people seem to assume that the ultimate tiebreaker in man vs. woman questions is presence of a Y chromosome. I’m not sure this is a very principled decision, because I expect most people would classify congenital androgen insensitivity patients […] as women. The project of the transgender movement is to propose a switch from using chromosomes as a tiebreaker to using self-identification as a tiebreaker. (This isn’t actually the whole story—some of the more sophisticated people want to split “sex” and “gender”, so that people who want to talk about what chromosomes they’ve got have a categorization system to do that with, and a few people even want to split “chromosomal sex” and “anatomical sex” and “gender” and goodness knows what else—and I support all of these as very important examples of the virtue of precision—but to a first approximation, they want to define gender as self-identification.) This is not something that can be “true” or “false”. It’s a boundary-redrawing project. It can make for some boundaries that look a little bit weird—like a small percent of men being able to get pregnant—but as far as weird boundaries go that’s probably not as bad as having a tiny exclave of Turkish territory in the middle of a Syrian village. You draw category boundaries in specific ways to capture tradeoffs you care about. If you care about the sanctity of the tomb of your country’s founder, sometimes it’s worth having a slightly weird-looking boundary in order to protect and honor it. And if you care about… […]If I’m willing to accept an unexpected chunk of Turkey deep inside Syrian territory to honor some random dead guy—and I better, or else a platoon of Turkish special forces will want to have a word with me—then I ought to accept an unexpected man or two deep inside the conceptual boundaries of what would normally be considered female if it’ll save someone’s life. There’s no rule of rationality saying that I shouldn’t, and there are plenty of rules of human decency saying that I should.
This immediately activated my esoteric instincts. So, naturally, I added up the numbers in 2018: 2 + 0 + 1 + 8 = 11 Now, 11 has many interesting correlates. The Basque word for 'eleven', hamaika, also means 'infinite'. The expression 'the eleventh hour' refers to a situation of urgent danger. After Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ Jesus, the rest of the Disciples numbered 11, potentially signalling a 'casting-away' of a traitor. In Liber 777, 11 is associated with the Hebrew letter א, Ruach in Asiyah, the element of Air, the path between Keter and Chochmah, the Fool of the Tarot, the Scintillating Intelligence in the Sefer Yetzirah, the Egyptian goddess Nu and the god Harpocrates, the Valkyries, Zeus or Jupiter, St. Matthew the Evangelist, the eagle, the human being as the Cherub of Fire, the aspen tree, topaz, the Dagger or Fan as magical weapon, the perfume galbanum, the peppermint plant, the Coptic letter ⲇ, the Arabic letter ا, the Greek letter α, the letter ו in the Tetragrammaton, the sense of smell, the direction of East, the Archangel Raphael, the world of Yetzirah, the element of Mercury, the Princes of the Tarot, the Blue Circle (Vayu) of the Tattvas, the breath, and the bodily function of speaking. And Aquarius is the 11th sign of the Zodiac. Using akira's gematriculator, I got a lot of interesting results. The ones most interesting to me are 11 =
BEHOLD! IT IS REVEALED BY AIWASS THE MINISTER OF HOOR-PAAR-KRAAT
CALIFORNIA RISING [maybe something to do with Silicon Valley?]
COMMUNICATIONS INFRASTRUCTURE [ties in with 'CALIFORNIA RISING' a bit I guess]
DEHUMANIZE YOURSELF AND FACE TO BLOODSHED
DOING THE RIGHT THING AT THE RIGHT MOMENT
ENTIFICATION OF REALITY
EVERY CRADLE IS A GRAVE
FIRST TRUE AI
FOURTH TURNING [!!!!!]
GIVE UP ALREADY
GOD HAS WILLED
HANDBOOK TO THE GAME
HE SHALL OPEN, AND NONE SHALL SHUT; AND HE SHALL SHUT, AND NONE SHALL OPEN
HYPERSTITION IN ACTION
IMAGE OF GOD THE FATHER
INFORMATION GATHERING AND UTILIZING SYSTEM
IT IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE
ITS A DOUBLE EDGED THING
ITS SUCH A BEAUTIFUL DAY [good film, by the way]
JESUSJET PROPULSION LABORATORY [read about Jack Parsons and his Babalon Working]
JORMUNGANDR ENCIRCLES THE EARTH
L ANUS SOLAIRE [The Solar Anus]
NEHUSHTAN [the serpent Moses erected on the pole]
NOT ECONOMICALLY VIABLE
NOTHING TO LOSE [...but our chains?]
OCCITAN [Catalan is very closely related to Occitan; Catalonia recently attempted to declare independence. What could result of this in 2018?]
ONE BIG RHIZOME
QIYAMAH [the End of Time in Islamic eschatology]
SATAN OF CYBERSPACE
STAR OF DAVID
SYMPATHY WITH THE DEVIL
THE APOCALYPSE OF APOCALYPSES
THE BORNLESS RITUAL [!!!!!!!]
THE GREAT GAME
THE JEWISH QUESTION [uh oh...]
THE KEY TO THELEMA
THE ORIGIN OF THE MONTAUK
THE SON OF GOD
THOU HAST MADE ME AN ABOMINATION ['Thou hast put away mine acquaintances far from me; thou hast made me an abomination to them; I am shut up and I cannot come forth.' (Psalm 88:8, Lamsa.)]
TOHU BOHU [Hebrew: 'formless and empty', 'chaos and desolation']
TREBLINKA [very bad…]
TREE OF LIFE
TRIBE OF JUDAH
TRULY WEIRD [you can say that again!!]
TSALAL [Hebrew: 'to become darker']
TWO ZERO NINE 
UMBRA SUPRA OMNIA [Latin: 'shadow/ghost above all']
UNDERSTANDEST THOU WHAT THOU READEST 
V.V.V.V.V. ['Vi veri universum vivus vici' (Crowley's motto as Magister Templi); Latin: 'By the power of truth I, a mortal, have conquered all creation.']
VAE VICTIS [Latin: 'Woe to the vanquished!']
VON NEUMANN MODEL [one of the most important architectures in computing history]
XAPHANIA [leader of the rebel angels against the Authority ('God') in _His Dark Materials_]
Y2K [does this point to another mass hysteria and/or world-historical esoteric event?]
ZAHAK [Zahhåk, an evil serpentine figure in Zoroastrianism who ravages the world and is thrown into a pit (roughly)]
ZERO DEGREES KELVIN [the lowest temperature possible; may indicate something to do with superconducting]
In any case, it appears that 2018 will be a year of great upheaval, probably a resurgence of fascism, and possibly (hopefully if fascism returns) even insurrection. Let's hope and pray for the best.
'And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things says he who is the holy one, he who is true, he who has the key of David, he who opens and no man shuts; and shuts, and no man opens; I know your works: and behold, I have set before you an open door, which no man can lock, for you have but little strength and yet you have obeyed my word, and have not denied my name.' (Revelation 3:7-8, Lamsa.) 'And it shall come to pass in that day, says the LORD, I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah; And I will clothe him with your robe and will gird him with your girdle, and I will commit your government into his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place upon his shoulder the keys of the house of David; so he shall open and none shall shut, and he shall shut and none shall open.' (Isaiah 22:20-22, Lamsa.)
209 = 'ADOLF HITLER', 'BLACK SQUARE' (a Suprematist painting by Malevich), 'CHORONZON', 'EPOTHILONE' (a class of potential cancer drugs), 'GHATANOTHOA' (a Great Old One who mummifies anyone who looks at it), 'INACCESSIBLE', 'NECROPHILIA', 'REDEMPTION', 'WHODUNNIT?'
'And the Spirit said to Philip, Go near and keep close to the chariot. And as Philip drew near and heard him reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah, he said to him, Do you understand what you are reading? And the Ethiopian said, How can I understand unless some one teach me? and he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The portion of the scripture which he was reading was this: He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and like a ewe sheep before the shearer, so he opened not his mouth: In his humiliation, he suffered imprisonment and judgment: none can tell his struggle, for even his life is taken away from the earth. And the eunuch said to Philip. I pray you, of whom does this prophet speak? of himself or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth and began at that same scripture and preached to him concerning our LORD Jesus.' (Acts 8:29-35, Lamsa.)
They've built a strong, interesting political philosophy entirely through blogging. That's the short answer. Here's the long answer: There are many strains of neoreaction, each with its own points of interest. I'll start with the techno-commercialists/futurists. The techno-commercialists are intriguing first on an aesthetic level: their aesthetics are cyberpunk, and they dream of a cyberpunk future. But rather than view this hypothetical cyberpunk future as a nightmarish dystopia, they see it as an ideal society. They offer an alternative vision of liberalism, one without the trappings of democracy and human rights. Moldbug's neocameralism, when you get down to it, is essentially a reductio ad absurdum of liberalism: if you define liberalism in a Lockean manner, viz. that every person has the natural rights to life, liberty, and property, then it becomes clear that the 'property' part is in conflict with the 'life' and 'liberty' parts. The non-aggression principle, or NAP, makes this much clearer: liberty is equated with property, and the right to life is merely the right to own oneself—I am my own property. As such, the most extreme extension of this is the concept of 'exit rights': when each land-owner becomes the liege of vis property (or, in Moldbug's vision, when each piece of land is owned by a joint-stock company, whose shareholders have absolute power over the land they own), the only right afforded to the tenant/subject is the right to say 'no' and move to a different piece of land. Nick Land's writings and lectures, both before and after he converted to NRx, are spectacular in my opinion. I occasionally browse the Ccru archives just to see the far-out philosophy he and the rest of the collective produced, and I have a PDF of Fanged Noumena. Plus, they tend to make good art and software. I'm looking forward to installing Urbit when I get my new computer, and akira's Gematriculator is indispensable as far as techno-esotericism goes. And have you heard any of vis new album? The traditionalists have a different kind of appeal: they often border on being palaeoreactionaries who reject liberalism as a whole as illegitimate. I share a number of positions with them: anti-liberalism, pro-life, pro-religion, social cohesion, etc., but I also believe strongly in LGBTQ+ rights and socialism. Honestly, one of the most appealing things to me about communism is that true meritocracy can emerge—a natural 'aristocracy' of the most skilled, accomplished, and virtuous. I have little use for the 'human biodiversity' crowd, as at best, they're working from an unintentional misreading of the data on IQ and other traits and drawing the wrong conclusions, and at worst, they're eugenicists deliberately misrepresenting psychological data for racist, sexist, and classist ends. The tiny bit of 'HBD' that's worthwhile, such as correlations between personality traits and political leanings, is very interesting to me and probably highly important for understanding how to make politics work. All in all, most of them are pretty cool (or at least interesting) people and I enjoy reading their theory as a challenge to my own biases.
There's been a lot of criticism—a decent amount of it politically motivated—of Depression Quest and Gone Home. I'll stay away from the political part of it here, but I'd like to note my own opinions on the two games first. I've played Depression Quest, and I didn't see it as particularly good. It's okay; it captures what having depression is like to an extent and the visual and sound design were pretty cool, as was the feature of crossing out certain options depending on the player character's emotional state in order to drive home how depression can cripple its sufferers to the point that they're virtually incapable of certain normal things. But it's rather generic and, speaking as a depressive myself, it isn't realistic enough on its topic and doesn't really go deep enough into its exploration of depression. I haven't played Gone Home, but I've seen playthroughs of it and it doesn't seem particularly bad. The story is not particularly great: it's essentially a generic coming-of-age story that's been repeated dozens of times in young adult literature. But the framing of a graphic adventure game is certainly interesting, and the way the gameplay functions primarily as a means of exposition is certainly a good idea. However, they've come under attack for various reasons. But the reason that bothers me the most is that they're 'not games'. And why does that bother me? Because these allegations are patently false, and their intent is primarily to denigrate them without addressing them on their own merits. So why, exactly, are they games? What is it that makes them games, as opposed to simply pieces of interactive software? To start with, Depression Quest, when it comes down to it, is a text adventure. The choices you make while playing it affect certain variables and lead to multiple endings. Although you're limited to a certain amount of choices, this is not unique among text adventures. Prompt-based text adventures, which require the player to type in commands, still have this type of constraint, although instead of simply presenting a list of options, an unrecognised command prompts a response along the lines of 'I didn't understand your command'. To say that Depression Quest is not a game is to dismiss Zork, Curses, and even Steins;Gate, a visual novel which similarly only has text-based choices as its gameplay, as non-games. As for Gone Home, it is a graphic adventure game. Although it contains no puzzles, its primary focus is on uncovering the story. This makes it what is known as an exploration game, in which exploration and atmosphere are integral parts of the gameplay. Yet this is at the root of what makes people accuse it of 'not being a game'. Kentucky Route Zero, a game which similarly has no puzzles or challenges, had its first two episodes released the same year as Gone Home was, yet I haven't heard any complaints that it's 'not a game'. (This is why I suspect political motivation in these accusations: an exploration-based game without puzzles or challenges but isn't an 'SJW game' (whatever that means) receives few to no accusations that it's 'not a game', but an exploration-based game without puzzles or challenges yet has LGBTQ+ themes receives a lot of accusations of that sort.) Roger Ebert defined what, to him, distinguishes video games from art in one of many highly controversial essays:
One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite a[n] immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.
By this definition, Depression Quest would be a game, but Gone Home would not. Yet I would dispute a certain part of his definition: namely, that there must be points and objectives. Telltale's episodic game The Walking Dead, based on the comic series by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore and inspired by the success of its television adaptation, received universal acclaim from critics and players alike. It received over 80 Game of the Year awards among many more awards. Metacritic, which aggregates game reviews, gave the Xbox 360 version a rating of 92/100, the PlayStation 3 version 94/100, the PC version 89/100, and the PlayStation Vita version 82/100, adding up to a total average of 89.25/100. Steam users, a good enough representative sample of gamers, rated the game 'Overwhelmingly Positive' based on an aggregate of 26,274 user reviews, only 4% of which were negative. I've played it twice and loved it each time. And yet there are arguably no points or objectives in the game. There are occasional puzzles which have to be solved in order to progress in the game, but they're heavily de-emphasised. Each episode has five moments in which the player must make a crucial decision between two options—when you think about it, a very similar game mechanic to Depression Quest—which dramatically alters the course of the game. There are also conversations in which the player is given a limited amount of time to choose which response to say, which can have a major impact on how the other characters feel about the player character, Lee. There are quick-time events in which the player must keep Lee or other characters alive; sometimes, these quick-time events require the player to choose which of two major characters to keep alive. But unlike in other games, in which the choices made result in rewards or punishments for the player, there is nothing of that sort in The Walking Dead. The results of each choice are ambiguous: there are no 'win' or 'loss' conditions. The only purpose of the player's decisions is for the player to see how the story unfolds. There are rules by which one must play and there are outcomes of the player's decisions, but there are no points (unless by 'point', one means 'purpose') or objectives. And no one that I know of has claimed that The Walking Dead isn't a game. Gone Home has rules and an outcome, although it has no points or objectives. Depression Quest has rules, points, multiple outcomes, and even, arguably, objectives—that is, to reduce the player character's level of depression, to get them into therapy, and to get them on medication. So both Depression Quest and Gone Home are games. Feel free to dislike them—I don't see them as particularly great—or even hate them. Call them 'SJW games' or dismiss them entirely. But don't say they aren't games unless you're willing to present your case as to why.