Encouraging a more generous activism to reflect who we are

Balanced Perspectives, Bullying & Mobbing, Social Justice Ideology

Many of us who work for social justice have learned to be silent in some communities for fear that we will called out, labeled with reputation-compromising epithets or accused of something we have not done.

In 2016, Frances Lee published a well-known essay around this phenomenon called “Why I’ve Started to Fear my Fellow Social Justice Activists”. This was one of several watershed pieces that have been coming out over the past few years in response to “cancel culture” and the increasing patterns of bullying, ideological fixation, and de-platforming that has occurred in social justice movements.

In the recent essay, titled “No Justice without love: why activism must be more generous”, Lee goes further into their understanding of what really matters in our pursuit of a just world and why we need to operate out of love and humility rather than reducing our activism to outrage, cruelty and contempt.

What makes this piece particularly powerful is that Lee, a transgender intersectional activist and cultural studies scholar, has identified the unproductive elements that have crept into many of today’s social justice movements with more precision. The following passage about how information and dogmas are sometimes shared in these movements sums this up:

“But the way they [ideas for change] are presented, re-shared and absorbed into activist culture as infallible gospel truths removes people’s agency to think for themselves. I want to be a member of a thriving and diverse social movement, not a cult or a religion.”

“Furthermore”, they continue, “I worry that identity is being deployed as a way to separate people rather than to create coalitions to work together en masse.”

Lee’s new book, Toward An Ethics of Activism: A Community Investigation of Humility, Grace and Compassion in Movements for Justice, addresses the “relational aggression” that is common in some of the communities that form around these movements and explores some of the ways in which the inevitable conflicts can be surfaced, understood, and healed.

If the book reflects the basic decency and humanistic outlook of this essay, it could make a big difference in bringing more people in alignment with movements for social change.

For a similar treatment of how we can build a sense of welcome, authentic solidarity and a spirit of generosity in human rights/social justice movements, please read Starhawk’s essay on “How to Build a Welcoming Movement”.

 

Conflict Mediator and Zen Teacher Promotes “Healthy Inclusion”

Balanced Perspectives, Bullying & Mobbing, Social Justice Ideology, Theory as Weapon

In recent years, spiritual communities, including Christian churches from different traditions, temples, meditation centers, yoga centers, and other practice communities have experienced a rise in intergroup conflicts and ideological schisms since the adoption of diversity and inclusion measures that are based on the ideological assumptions of Critical Race Theory, Standpoint Theory, Queer Theory, and other postmodernist ideologies that are built upon the oppressor vs. oppressed frame of reality.

While these programs are almost always well-intentioned, they are often implemented in unhealthy ways.

To work with this challenge, organizational consultant, conflict mediator and Zen teacher, Diane Musho Hamilton developed a program called “Healthy Inclusion 2.0” in collaboration with teachers, mediators, and organizational theorists. Although this blog post is not an explicit endorsement of the program, we feel it’s important to support campaigns for healthy inclusion like the one that Hamilton has designed.

The following list, taken from Hamilton’s 10 Directions website,  describes what “unhealthy inclusion” looks like, and calls for a new approach to inclusion, equality, diversity and social justice in communities and organizations.

UNHEALTHY INCLUSION

* Oppressive rules around speech and “political correctness”. – – There can seem to be a hypersensitivity to language and behavior that can create a culture of fear.

* Endless processes of blame and accusation that don’t seem to ever resolve.

* A victim-oppressor framework that doesn’t allow any other narratives to come forth.

* The inversion of power hierarchies instead of their transformation (with a new group of oppressors at the top instead of no oppressors there).

* Devaluing of assertiveness and aggressiveness that can breed innovation, both inside a team and with competitors.

* Creating a talent drain as some leave rather than speak out.

* A monoculture that only values a narrow range of attitudes, politics, personality types, and communication styles.

* The demonization of those with differing views.

* A focus on internal politics and policies which draws too much attention away from action and movement forward.

 

Mark Fisher’s Suicide and Social Justice Mobbing

Bullying & Mobbing, Suicide, Theory as Weapon

Here is a link to one of the best articles that examines the complexities around Mark Fisher’s life and death

Mark Fisher was a Marxist activist who worked all his life to advance the rights of working people from all backgrounds. But, after he dared to critique the emerging culture of weaponized victimhood and bullying in the social justice movement in his famous essay “Exit From the Vampire Castle“, he was viciously crucified by the social justice mobs. He committed suicide last year.
 

Early on, at the beginning of the rise of what Fisher called “Identitarianism” in leftist/social justice political movements and subcultures, he was one of the first publicly known activists to sound the alarm. And that his death was ridiculed, mocked and even celebrated by his critics should give us pause.