Questionable Motives

March 18, 2020

Why is Critical Social Justice theory the Covid-19 of liberal democracies?

Filed under: Uncategorized — tildeb @ 8:25 pm

Here is a long article by James Lindsay that articulates what I have been railing against for two decades: the rise of anti-liberalism in our western societies – including religion. I think it is by far the best explanation I have read to date and urge readers to take the time to read it.

Lindsay likens this anti-liberalism he calls Critical Social Justice (CSJ) to a viral infection – for good reasons as you shall read! But this deadly infection has gone viral and deeply pollutes our politics and public policies today – including the Inevitable Big Problem that occurs as a push back to its ideology when acted upon: the rise as a counter force in the equally dangerous form of populism in the form of electing Dear Leaders. The Western world has lots of recent examples. The anti-liberal infection – the Critical Social Justice ideology – is deadly when believed… not just because it attacks all of our individual rights and all of our individual freedoms whenever they threaten to limit the expansion of the ideological viral load but now to the extent that self-censorship in response to this never-ending attack is now not just the norm but a polite social expectation. Shut up or be banned because you must be a bigot to criticize it. This is new social apologetic tactic.

I have tried my best to use the skills of critical thinking to support my reasoned criticisms of this slowly erupting mass movement and how it has come to be but have noticed that these skills themselves, as well as elevating extraneous context – usually in the form of unacceptable tone or TL;DR – are often categorized as part of the problem… by social justice warriors who insist I should recognize my privileges and atone for them by shutting up and going along if I do not want to be seen as part of the power imbalance I supposedly represent that continues to victimize those group members they think they champion. It’s a mass infection.

(Critical Social Justice) is best understood as an injection of viral RNA into the liberal system, turning us away from the means and methods that can produce liberal progress toward seeing them as just another form of political dominance and exploitation by white, Western, men. The virus is seeing everything through this kind of political and politicizing lens, and by infecting one field of thought, work, or life after another, critical methods spread exactly like viruses do. They infect those susceptible cells they can (maybe the theoretical humanities in the academy, maybe sociology, maybe academic publishing, maybe aspects of the media) and then convert those liberal organs into critical theory virus-producing machines that eventually spread the virus to other cells and organs, one by one, claiming to “wake them up” to a better purpose, from their perspective: creating more viruses.

Just as producing a vaccine against a physical virus, like Covid-19, requires first isolating the virus, identifying its genome, and understanding how it works, both in isolation and in concert with the human immune system, an inoculation against critical theory begins with understanding it and its interactions with liberal societies. Luckily, this information is readily available because, perhaps in their hubristic certainty in their own agenda, critical scholars have been writing about this in very clear—if dense and academic—language for a long time now. Everyday people can learn to read it, and existing scholars can learn to read it faster and with more authority.

We are the solution. Liberal democracies need us. We  – each of us – need to fight against this infection to the limited extent we can. We can win this fight, beat the infection with a return to liberal principles. If we don’t the host body will either die from the infection itself or from the policy cancers implemented by a malignant Dear Leader in response to it. That’s our individual choice and the last one we truly own.

3 Comments »

  1. Peter Boghossian describes one of the common tactics by social justice warriors that I have encountered many times:

    “One of the easiest ways to understand how illiberal Social Justice can be is available to anyone who attempts to criticize it. Those who criticize Social Justice are not thanked for helping to improve its tenets. Rather, they’re called bigots, homophobes, Nazis, grifters, misogynists, or, the trump card meant to silence all conversation: racists.

    Proving its commitment to illiberalism even further, when the accused denies these accusations and demands evidence to substantiate claims that they’re racist, this denial is taken as evidence of guilt. To ask for evidence of racism is considered a form of willful ignorance of racism, according to Social Justice. Then, when the accused points out the obvious, that name calling isn’t an argument and they’d like to have a conversation about the manifestation of Social Justice that led them to be accused in the first place, nobody comes forward to converse. In the Social Justice ideological paradigm, conversing with someone who’s been accused of being a racist, sexist, or bigot would be acting in complicity with racism. (There’s even a word in their lexicon for this, “platforming.”) So conversation is a priori ruled out.

    Social Justice cannot continue to be taken seriously on its own terms, which it has literally made up. It must be taken seriously in terms of the threat it poses to liberal and civil society, which it is actively undermining and seeks to destroy.”

    Comment by tildeb — March 19, 2020 @ 10:01 am | Reply

  2. Helen Pluckrose looks at the rise of this illiberal ideology, which we see being played out today in Canada through supportive laws of it regarding the immutability of gender-fluid identity (I know, just look at thee language!) and criminalizing criticisms of it:

    “Most recently, in 2015–20, these emerging themes of intersectional activism and left-wing resistance to intersectional activism escalated rapidly, and Critical Social Justice notions of diversity, equity, and inclusion became culturally powerful, institutionalized, and overtly authoritarian in disposition and activity, particularly within administrative architectures, trans activism, and anti-racism. Many radical activists, particularly radical feminists (radfems) began to reject the intersectional approach more visibly, as intersectional and postmodernist queer Theorists and activists, especially trans rights activists, increasingly bullied and intimidated them and, occasionally, showed up to events to physically assault them, primarily in service of denying the existence of biological sex and the objective reality of being a woman.”

    Comment by tildeb — March 19, 2020 @ 10:24 am | Reply

  3. A fundamental point made by Professor Charles Lipson from the University of Chicago, who tells us clearly that “universities need to act now, on their own, to reassert the core value of free speech in education. Free inquiry depends on free speech. These values are the bedrock of liberal education in democratic societies. Right now, that bedrock is being washed away in a tidal wave of irrational outrage.”

    Comment by tildeb — July 25, 2020 @ 2:33 pm | Reply


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