1. “Everything is Problematic: My Journey into a Dark Political World and How I Escaped”
This piece explores the life of a social justice activist and how she was drawn into the extremely bleak world of punishment, hostility, paranoia, and political cultism. Over time, she allowed herself to see what was really going on and found her way out and back to a more sane relationship with reality. In some ways, this piece was a kind of watershed piece written at the beginning of the explosion of Social Justice Ideology (SJI). For a more recent piece written along the same lines and from a similar perspective, please read “Sad Radicals”, which came out in December of 2018. For an in-depth study of the labyrinthine doctrines and intentionally subversive practices of radical “woke” ideology, we highly recommend “#AltWoke Manifesto”.
2. “Men as Stereotypical Perpertrators of Harm”
In this podcast, Heterodox Academy interviews Tania Reynolds, the researcher of a recent study that revealed how men and boys are seen as less deserving of empathy, protection and mercy and are unfairly perceived as perpetrators. This podcast is especially poignant given the American Psychological Association’s recent adoption of the first-ever APA guidelines for working with men and boys. It is notable that even practicing female therapists are questioning the pathologizing of males in the APA and beyond. Another piece by a female psychotherapist is called “Masculinity is Not a Sickness”.
3. “The Waves of Feminism, and Why People Keep Fighting Over Them, Explained”
This piece teaches us how this movement has grown from being centered on women’s rights to championing the rights of all marginalized groups in a world that is seen as a vast network of interlocking systems of oppression. It is a great primer for people who both support these movements and question some of their more problematic aspects.
4. “The Rise of the Post New Left Vocabulary”: The Language of the Modern SJI Movement
This article examines the differences between the New Left (1960’s and 70’s) and what this writer has termed the Post New Left (more popularly known as Social Justice Left, Intersectionality, Anti-Oppression, Call-out Culture, etc.) This piece will likely be helpful to Baby Boomers and generally older human rights and economic justice advocates who may wonder why the modern Left feels so utterly different.
5. “Social Justice and the Weaponization of Empathy by Bad Actors”
This piece examines how academic theories and clever language are used as weapons by bad actors who seek to destroy and punish rather than heal and transform. The New York Times published a similar piece called “The Industrial Revolution of Shame” which focuses on the public’s online participation in heresy-hunting and reputation destruction. For a clinical perspective of online mobbing and blacklisting, we also recommend “The Apocalyptic Culture of Cancel Culture”, published in Psychology Today.
6. “Why I’ve Started to Fear My Fellow Social Justice Activists”
In this recent essay, cultural studies scholar Frances Lee -a transgender person of color- introduces the reader to the increasingly abusive culture of social justice activism in the media, activist spaces, and other communities. The second part of the headline reads, “We are alienating each other with unrestrained callouts and unchecked self-righteousness. Here’s how that can stop.” Lee has also written another essay called “No Justice Without Love: Why Activism Must Be More Generous”in which they argue that “part of honoring our humanity means honoring the humanity of others, including our enemies and oppressors”.
7. “I Was the Mob Until the Mob Came For Me”
In this article, the anonymous writer speaks about how his life was destroyed after fellow activists went after him due to a single instance of offensive remarks. Unfortunately, some targets of online campaigns haven’t had the ability to remain anonymous, including journalist Jonathan Kaiman who became radioactive and isolated after an accusation. For advice about how to deal with the individual SJI adherents who use dogmatic language and bullying tactics, click on this essay by John Faithful Hamer, “How To Deal With a Progressive Bully”. Hamer also reflects on how abuse and mobbing by SJI adherents alienates supporters from otherwise good causes in a piece called “I’m Nobody’s Ally”.
8. “Shame Storm”
This thoughtful essay was written by a moderate conservative writer who recounts her experiences and insights around public shame and humiliation and what it’s like to have your name and negative statements about you permanently accessible on the internet.
Towards the end of this piece, Helen Andrew offers sound moral advice to media editors and social media users:
“The solution, then, is not to try to make shame storms well targeted, but to make it so they happen as infrequently as possible. Editors should refuse to run stories that have no value except humiliation, and readers should refuse to click on them. It is, after all, the moral equivalent of contributing your rock to a public stoning. We should all develop a robust sense of what is and is not any of our business. Shame can be useful—and even necessary—but it is toxic unless a relationship exists between two people first. A Twitter mob is no more a basis for salutary shaming than an actual mob is for reasoned discussion. That would be true even if the shaming’s relics were not preserved forever by Google, making any kind of rehabilitation impossible”.
9. “Why Can’t We Hate Men” By Suzanne Walters
This infamous essay from the Washington Post was written by Suzanne Walters, the Gender Studies Department Chair at Northeastern University. Rather than including the original accompanying photo of an infamous man accused of being a serial perpetrator, we’ve chosen this photo from an essay on misandry by Dissent Mama, which explores in simple terms the bigotry and ideologically-driven stereotypes and rhetoric that modern social justice theories use to dehumanize and disempower people from the out-of-favor demographic groups these theories deem worthy of punishment. Cultural critic Jonathan Pageau explores a related theme in this YouTube video, where we can clearly see the intentional reversal of perceived power hierarchies in contemporary films that portray males as weak, as incompetent buffoons, or as subjects bending the knee to female warrior and heroes.
10. “It’s a Man’s World and It Always Will Be” by Camille Paglia
This essay by dissenting academic Camile Paglia would seem to be a response to the above misandrist opinion column by Suzanne Walters, but it was written -most presciently- several years before. Mark J. Perry has written another short and interesting essay that compares these two strikingly different visions for the way we need to consider and treat men and boys. For a more in-depth look at the particular burdens placed on men, here is a talk given by Karen Straughan at the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE).
11. “I’m Done Pretending Men Are Safe (Even My Sons)”
This short piece reflects on the viral fallout of a Washington Post article in which the author reflects on her belief that her teenage sons -like almost all men- will never come to accept the non-redemptive reality of being a male in what she views as a rape culture. What’s most notable about this piece is the ease with which the writer is willing to reveal her lack of faith in the goodness of her sons and her lack of appreciation of how it might feel for her sons to have identities publicly known. A related article was published in the UK Telegraph in 2015 and places the shame of being suspected of being potential perpetrators at the center of the educational lives of boys and young men.
12. “What Isn’t Gaslighting”
This essay explores the ways in which the more ideologically conditioned adherents of Social Justice Ideology (SJI) see bullying, gas lighting, manipulation, and malevolence everywhere. This stems from the ever-broadening definitions of what constitutes as harm (i.e. Concept Creep) and the rigid belief in the oppressor-vs- oppressed framework of reality. For another insightful piece about the overuse of the term “gas lighting,” here is a piece with a similar title, Gaslighting: What it Isn’t.
13. “No, I Will Not Debate With You”
This piece demonstrates how ideologically-based hatreds and stereotyping against “those people” from out-of-favor demographic groups has led to the widespread belief and practice of refusing to engage with them. This has often resulted in severely distorted perceptions, rigid thinking, and the further dehumanization of perceived enemies. For an example of the insightfulness of both women and men when invited to respond to ideas, this is a collection of responses to a New York Times opinion piece about “raising boys not to be misogynists”.
14. “On Anti-Racism w/ Glenn Loury, John McWhorter…”
This podcast features four black men (academics, political commentators and writers) who discuss the drawbacks of the specific ideology of “Anti-Racism” that has become mainstream in the Western world since 2011. Though these men identify as liberal, some of them advocate a commitment to personal responsibility and don’t attribute all struggles and difficulties to systemic bigotry -views that are similar to black conservatives like Larry Elder.
PARTICIPANTS: Glenn Loury, Professor of the Social Sciences and Economics at Brown University and host of The Glenn Show @ bloggingheads.tv … John McWhorter, Linguistics professor at Columbia University … Coleman Hughes Writer, Quillette Magazine …… Thomas Chatterton Williams author of, “Losing My Cool”.
15. “Equity and Symbolic Paranoia: or What Makes Today’s Left So Toxic”
This long-form essay gets to the heart of the matter in its respectful, sharp, and incisive critique of the symbolic paranoia and hatred that has begun to surface in modern iterations of Social Justice Ideology (SJI)
EXCERPT: The psychological tendency which unifies all these equity stances within the modern left is symbolic paranoia.
Symbolic paranoia is when you cease to see the reality of an empirical situation because you’ve projected a symbolic narrative onto it. The symbolic narrative makes you want to fight against a grave injustice, which now suddenly seems both pervasive, and something the rest of society displays a callous indifference towards. But this appearance of injustice is actually an illusion, an illusion borne out of an inability to perceive the features of reality that clash with the symbolic narrative.
When one acts on behalf of a symbolic narrative, the clash with reality makes the act counter-productive and destructive. In the name of helping the powerless and the vulnerable, one winds up hurting everyone, because ‘help’ is impossible outside the constraints of reality. What’s particularly fascinating about symbolic paranoia is it’s almost always coupled with hypocrisy. The person trying to enact justice on behalf of a symbolic narrative is normally doing a greater injustice than the purported injustice he or she is trying to fight. This is partly because when one is in the grip of symbolic paranoia, one confuses solving problems with prohibiting symbols one associates with the problems one would like to solve. When one is in the grip of symbolic paranoia, one typically tries to solve problem X, primarily by prohibiting symbols associated with X…
Symbolic narratives are, in effect, ways of explaining the world that block out empirical (and indeed, psychological) information. They block out the very information relevant to how one should explain the world, if one is to react to the moral demands of the world, rather than simply make childish demands upon our world. When we are mature adults, the way we see the world is fluid, capable of constantly shifting and adjusting, as new and incoming information pours in.
In contrast to this, the 21st century left has rigidly confined itself to a symbolic narrative that explains (and decides) all social conflict and change, prior to having investigated the particulars of situations. This prejudgement of situations and people is hence, why the modern mainstream left is awash in so much bigotry and authoritarianism. Judging people based on assumptions that cannot be altered with new information is the genesis of bigotry. And when one experiences discomfort because of incoming information one would rather block out, the more comforting solution is to ban its expression…
To fix it, we need a more thorough appreciation of our liberal democratic tradition, a tradition that allows most of us a level of freedom, prosperity, lawfulness, and health that would be unthinkable for most humans that have ever lived on planet earth. Without any gratitude, our tradition will atrophy and wither away, because of activists who are less like Martin Luther King than Veruca Salt.
16. “STAR HAWK: Building a Welcoming Movement”
In a world of increasingly hostile and cruel activism, this essay by a seasoned advocate is a precious pearl. Starhawk has been an activist and a feminist since the 1960’s and has organized protests, social action, and liberation movements for many years. While this piece of writing may occasionally turn to the rhetoric of the oppressors versus the oppressed, Starhawk’s insightful message contains ten workable strategies for building a welcoming movement. Below is the tenth strategy:
10. Be kind.
Not necessarily to the oppressors, but at least to your own supporters, friends, co-conspirators and allies. That doesn’t mean to stifle constructive critique, but don’t turn organizing into an episode of Mean Girls. Support people when they are down. Share burdens. Be there for your comrades in jail, in illness or disease or injury or other troubles.
Understand that kindness, compassion and caring are the cornerstones of the world we want to create, and they take practice. So begin with one another.
This is a terrifying and challenging time, but it is also a great time of opportunity. If we commit ourselves to valuing the inherent worth in every human being, to using inclusive language and to educating everyone, we can build a broad-based, welcoming movement that will be an enormous force for positive change.