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”.

 

Graduate Student Explains Why We Need More Standpoint Theory

Balanced Perspectives, Social Justice Ideology, Social Theory

Sonia Zawitkowski, a graduate student in applied social psychology, has written an interesting essay arguing for the positive aspects of Standpoint Theory.

Put in the simplest possible way, this is one of the main theories in modern Social Justice Ideology (SJI) that asks who is in power and who stands to gain more power by holding a specific position on an issue. It is a higher resolution justification for the beliefs and behaviors of those who practice what some call “identity politics”

But, as to be expected from the Electric Agora online philosophy forum founded by philosopher, Daniel A. Kaufman, this essay presents a more subtle perspective that is worthy of consideration. 

This site hosts essay writers from all persuasions who present deep perspectives on issues, which makes its tagline ” a modern symposium for the digital age” earning of its name. Not surprisingly, the site has been awarded as one of the top 100 philosophy blogs.

Below are a few notable titles:

All Philosophy is Activist Philosophy by David Ottinger

Postmodernism as Truth in Advertising by Kevin Currie-Knight​

Random Reflections on Intellectual History, Abstraction and Social and Political Values by Mark English

Adolf Reed Jr. Critiques AntiRacism™ Ideology

Balanced Perspectives, Social Justice Ideology

Dr. Adolf Reed Jr., a noted scholar and professor of politics and the history of race, published a paper in the Dialectical Anthropology Journal in June of 2018. While the writing and citations is highly academic and erudite in its expression, the insights and critiques of the ideology known as AntiRacism™ and its parent ideology, Critical Race Theory are an important contribution to the conversation around the impact of hardline ideologies on the solving of society’s problems.

Social Justice Ideology’s Introduction into K-12 Schools.

Education & Social Justice, Social Justice Ideology

In recent years there has been a wealth of proposals for uprooting the Eurocentric curriculum that has undergirded the American educational enterprise for decades. The basic idea is that we need to center the voices, experiences, narratives, and ways of life of people who have lived their lives at the margins of American life due to either negligence, oppression, or both. 

But, the important project of building a multicultural approach into teaching and learning environments and correcting imbalances in the stories we choose to tell about our country has begun to appear more like indoctrination into a specific ideology rather than a systematic implementation of more inclusive perspectives.

Real Clear Investigations has just published an interesting article that details some of the ideological artifacts that have made their way into the proposed curricula for K-12 education in California and many other states in recent years.

This article’s title unfortunately contains the word “woke” which appears pejorative. But, it’s a worthy read in that it examines the different reasons why several different groups of people object to (or wish to reform) this proposed curriculum.

Helen Pluckrose and What Social Justice Gets Right

Balanced Perspectives, Social Justice Ideology

Helen Pluckrose, editor of Areo Magazine has written a balanced essay, inviting the reader to consider the genuine insights and important contributions to social harmony and justice in the concepts and practices that social justice scholarship has advanced in recent years.

In What Social Justice Gets Right, a case is made that we can work to structure our systems, design public policy, and treat others in all the ways that social justice theories encourage without falling into the trap of extremism, dualistic thinking, or ideological fixation.

Here is an excerpt:

“Liberal critics of the postmodern conception of the world, currently most visible in Social Justice activism, don’t claim that these ideas have no validity. They do. Given the choice of believing that culture strongly influences what a society accepts as true and believing that it has no impact, rational people who value evidence and reason must conclude that it does. The idea that recognition of this belongs to postmodernists or Social Justice activists, while the rest of us wander around in a comfortable haze of common sense waiting for them to make us woke to it is simply false. Humans in general have been aware of the existence of culture, the power of narratives and the tendency of humans to hold biases they are not fully aware of since long before Social Justice came into existence. Where liberals with progressive aims disagree with the Social Justice scholars and activists is on how to understand these biases and address them. It is essential to be clear about this if we are to make any kind of balanced and fair critique of Social Justice, and if we are to do so confidently en masse.”

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.

 

Helen Pluckrose Explains Postmodernism’s Impact on the West

Postmodernism, Social Justice Ideology

We added another piece to what we are calling an “emerging canon” of works by thoughtful writers and thinkers who seek to bring us back to a more balanced and reality-based approach to social justice and human rights. Without a doubt, Helen Pluckrose of Areo Magazine has worked diligently and rigorously to educate people about the theoretical underpinnings of Social Justice Ideology (SJI).

Below is the description from the Social Justice Reformation home page.

How French Intellectuals Ruined the West: Postmodernism and Its Impact Explained

This piece is also from Areo Magazine, and it was written by Helen Pluckrose, the current editor. While both Pluckrose and James Lindsay gained wider recognition for a 2018 experiment in which they exposed the theoretical over-reach and support for abusive practices in postmodernist/social justice academic journals, they have been laying the groundwork for understanding SJI for several years.

The Perils of Toxic Shame

Psychology, Social Justice Ideology

In recent years, collective guilt and internalized personal shame have become mainstream, particular among adherents of group identity-based ideologies that use Privilege Theory as a single defining framework for all of social reality.

For some people, the belief that they belong to an inherently bad demographic group fulfills an unconscious psychic function, where their sense of self feels more complete by identifying with a grand narrative that casts them in a role that requires continual self-doubt, self-blame, contemplation of their own flaws, and a never-ending search for a redemption that will never come.

For others, toxic shame is a weapon that can be used to inflict emotional or spiritual suffering onto other people to gain the psychic reward of sadistically hurting people or in the best of circumstances to gain a sense of moral domination and superiority.

Toxic shame, and the never-ending search for “wrongness” inside and outside is becoming the norm in our media, educational institutions, and even the workplace of companies that have taken on the programming of regressive ideologies that purport to be the only way to create a better society.

But, while it’s popularly accepted to inflict accusation, shame, self-hatred and generalized guilt onto ourselves and other people we consider “wrong-doers” or wrong-thinkers, it is a form of spiritual violence that will eventually need to be healed.

What Gaslighting isn’t

Postmodernism, Psychology, Social Justice Ideology
This article explores the details of gas lighting behaviors and warns the reader not to overuse the term to describe behaviors that are not in fact gas lighting.
 
 Victims of genuinely sociopathic behaviors and relentless bullying campaigns often develop hypervigilance later in life where they see bullying, gas lighting, abuse and evil everywhere. This hypervigilant style also occurs in those whose ideology trains them to seek out heresy and wrongness everywhere.
 
 It’s a tricky thing. We don’t want to be caught off guard by those who are truly sociopathy and wish to play with us for their own amusement. Yet, we also want to make sure we’re not throwing around words like “bullying”, “gaslighting”, “hate”, and “abuse” when we are having disagreements with people. These words not only cast unfair aspersions upon innocent people.
 
 They also lose their value when we do this because people begin to roll their eyes when the real thing finally comes along.