Author’s Note: We write this not to divide the left, but to reclaim it for the academics and working class activists that made us proud to identify as liberal.
A petite, Asian girl walks into the center of a “safe space” for unburdening herself about the racial tension she faces. Ten seconds into this confession, the multiracial, cis and non-cis gendered crowd screams at her until she cries. These same Social Justice Warriors demand colleges punish students who use the words “Free Speech,” but consider it “respectability politics” to ask that SJWs not break windows. As hate crimes and victimization of homeless black and trans youth rose, black and trans college students focused on getting Deans fired for writing emails discouraging the policing of Halloween costumes. Self-described activists hold a self-described direct action at the University of Missouri, only to physically attack the press members who show up to give them coverage. Liberal professors, who were once afraid of being rooted out as “cultural Marxists” for using “offensive” texts like those by Mark Twain or Harper Lee, are now scared of their liberal students getting them fired for using “offensive” texts like those of Mark Twain and Upton Sinclair. When a female academic tries to challenge a male-dominated University over sexual assault policy, the Social Justice Warriors angrily protest her for weeks. They then scream bloody murder when anyone fails to challenge the “heteronormative culture” around sexual assault. It is the first priority of SJWs to teach the people the truth about oppression, except the expert on American segregation in the west can’t talk on a panel about segregation because she is white.
These bizarre examples are actually a consistent set of behaviors enabled by the effects of a growing wealth disparity. Everything commonly associated with the ills of Social Justice Warriors can be traced to, and fixed by, the close analysis of how the wealthy are increasingly divorced from helping the most marginalized members of every race and gender. Where noblesse oblige traditionally motivated the rich to charity balls, SJWs are additionally motivated by the systemic misuse of postmodernism, Critical Theory, and intersectionality. What results is a socially fragile ecosystem which will crumble if even remotely challenged. This fragility can only be sustained through the kind of massive purges that led to college “civil rights advocates” making a mockery of Martin Luther King Jr.’s nonviolent struggle and calling John Lewis a “sellout.” So-called “urban fighters” attacking Killer Mike for being politically active in national elections. During the 2016 election, they acted as though Amy Schumer was seen as more deserving of personal vitriol than Donald Trump (who was only “as bad as the neoliberal Hillary”).
Academia on the left have been unsurprisingly silenced in any attempt to create a historiography of Social Justice Warriors. On the other hand, while conservatives and the purged victims of SJWs have had more freedom to write, their one-sided, negative experiences have led many to understandably see SJWs as cartoonish, compulsive liars with no motivation beyond implementing their impossible dystopic vision. They have also tended to focus on the more practical aspects of “fighting back against SJWs.” For instance, alt-right icon Vox Day’s “SJWs Always Lie: Taking Down the Thought Police” does a wonderful job pinning down the behavioral traits of an SJW while leaving less practical psychological and sociological explanations for another day (1). This article hopes to elucidate those very philosophical, sociological, and psychological factors.
SOCIAL VALIDATION AND DISSONANCE
To begin with, consider fancy charity balls. If the rich can just donate $2,000 to Orphans ‘R Us, Why go to a $2,000 per plate fundraiser where $1,500 goes to expenses?
In the television show Billions, the main character attends a charity ball with his employee. When the presenter asks who will give $500,000, the main character urges his employee to also donate that amount to prove that he gets paid enough.
It is no mistake that women wear their fanciest jewelry and men wear their fanciest clothing at these events. Charity, when “performed” in public, comes with the social reward of the admiration/envy of others. The most extreme donors (those who donate the most) are socially validated as good, valuable members of the community. The billionaire would not have forced his employee to donate that much money if the amount given was kept private. So, as a public event, charity always risks becoming a “performance” motivated not by good will but by an urge to be socially validated.
Now, consider a rich, Beverly Hills brat forced by his parents to serve food for a single day at a homeless shelter. Prior to seeing the homeless, the brat considered himself the most oppressed person he knew. His adolescent struggles with girls and a scream or two from the parents remain the most “emotional discomfort” he has experienced to date.
At the homeless shelter he runs into a bunch of homeless youths his age. But, to his surprise, these youths look relatively clean, go to schools near his, and want desperately to stop starving. Suddenly, the brat’s problems seem so insignificant that feeling bad about girls becomes a source of guilt.
Like every other person, the brat wants to see himself as a “good, valuable person.” Any facts contrary to this interpretation creates “dissonance” between the brat’s ideal world and the current one. When the brat feels pained by a girl rejecting him, his urge to feel sorry for himself is in dissonance with his understanding of others suffering being so much greater. This cognitive dissonance is uncomfortable, and the human brain copes with this by reducing dissonance in whatever way possible.
There are a multitude of ways to deal with cognitive dissonance. The brat could reduce dissonance by believing the homeless youths deserve their current position or are not even worthy of sympathy in the first place. Alternatively, the brat could reduce dissonance by evolving into a champion for homeless youths, fighting tooth and nail to give them housing and support. This has the added bonus of social validation by bragging about “performing activism” to girls. If the brat is truly sympathetic to the plight of the homeless youths, regardless of his motive he may be a greater savior to them than the nice-but-idle masses.
But what if, after one day at the homeless shelter, this champion is suddenly given free reign to single-handedly design a multi-million dollar “House the Homeless Youth” program. If the champion is not in touch with the day-to-day problems of the actual grievance group (the homeless youths), his policies may end up not benefiting or even hurting other youths his age.
Similarly, if the consequences for and input from the grievance group can be ignored, the brat may be completely satisfied with just the reduced dissonance and social validation from “performing activism.” The fact that the grievance group is left worse off is not relevant to the brat’s feelings of success and moral superiority.
WOKE? WASN’T SLEEPING
A working class woman, born destitute in North Highlands in a majority-minority neighborhood, would be extremely confused upon entering Stanford University to find students asking her if she was “woke.” They informed her that woke people knew that “the system” was oppressing the poor, that mass incarceration was based on racial dynamics, that employers discriminate based on physical traits, and other such revelations about “the man.” The woke must fight this oppression and do their best to “wake” others to fight it!
Her confusion stems from the fact that, according to this definition, everyone over six years old who grew up in a working class neighborhood is woke. Even the most rabid, slobbering stereotype of a white trash racist is well aware that discrimination against blacks exists. The difference is that the working class racists either don’t care about discrimination, are in favor of the discrimination, or don’t consider anti-black discrimination as severe as the discrimination they face. It is extremely hard to find a working-class black, indigenous, LGBT, etc. student who was “woke” by college. That’s because, since birth, they are the most direct targets of all systems of oppression.
However, it is hard NOT to find “woke” marginalized upper class students on college campuses. This creates a relatively unique possibility: activists seeking to “perform charity” for a grievance group they are disconnected to while simultaneously identifying with that grievance group. From an outsider’s perspective, what appears to emerge from this dynamic is similar to a scenario where rich, white men go “perform charity” at a fancy ball dedicated to helping rich, white men get richer. And to the outsider’s surprise, everyone at the ball screams down and insults the homeless man who suggests that they are only helping when they give to those with less money. However, to understand the rhyme and reason behind this shouting, we must take a quick look at the academic theories Social Justice Warriors have exploited to argue against basic facts of reality.
IDEOLOGICAL ROOTS OF SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS
A tumblr of the Social Justice Warrior’s most bizarre quotes rightfully appears incoherent to anyone not already versed in the legitimate academic theories that SJWs abuse for rhetorical gain. Most SJWs do not actually understand postmodernism, intersectionality, or Critical Theory yet will bludgeon their opponents with them. When properly demystified, however, their misuse by SJWs will become apparent.
In fact, a proper understanding of intersectionality is key to the undoing of the entire movement.
The SJW’s approach to the goals of academia is best understood as a fundamentalist form of Critical Theory: the idea that social and philosophical theories are only “critical” to humanity insofar as they can be used to “liberate” humanity. It is not enough for a theory to simply describe or explain society; the theory must reflect or critique society in a way that battles ideological obstacles to the people’s enlightenment. While Critical Theory originated in the neo-Marxist Frankfurt school, American universities stripped its application to social class in response to anti-communist pressures. Instead, critical studies of every other marginalized group (ethnic, feminist, gender, etc) filled that theoretical vacuum.
The next puzzle piece involves the misuse of that most obnoxious of theories: postmodernism (2). While the term is tossed around everywhere, the common factor between them is that postmodern works involve some recognition of the “rules” or “artifacts” behind traditional subjects of study. A postmodern movie might break the fourth wall in order to alert viewers to the fact that they are watching light projected onto a wall. An artist takes a crap on cardboard and calls it art because it is created with the goal of getting traditional art critics to say “crap on cardboard isn’t art.” Recognizing the hidden assumptions behind how scientists talk about fertilization lead to new discoveries on how eggs react to sperm. Postmodernism’s method of deconstructing once-unquestioned assumptions has increased academia’s ability to perceive commonalities and differences between cultures. (3)
However, whereas scientists, anthropologists, and other discipline-specific departments have mostly used this analytical lens responsibly, Social Justice Warriors drowned in it. Instead of recognizing decades of work in post-positivism and other theories that do not resort to nihilism, SJWs weaponized postmodernism to argue that objective truth either did not exist, could not be determined, or was personalized to each individual’s life experiences.
Their argument revolves around their favorite aspect of postmodernism: the existence and pervasiveness of “narratives.”
Postmodern narratives can be viewed as the languages, stories, myths, assumptions, ideas, beliefs, and worldviews that humans overlay on the “raw reality” existing outside their minds. A twenty dollar bill in its “raw reality” is no more valuable than any other green, paper rectangle. However, when everyone in a society believes in a “money narrative” then suddenly the green, paper rectangle gains “twenty dollars” in value without physically changing. If, the next day, society stops believing the money narrative, the twenty dollar bill goes back to solely being a green, paper rectangle. The money narrative has no reality outside of society’s beliefs.
At the same time, this doesn’t negate the fact that a “twenty dollar bill” is worth twenty dollars. That twenty may decide whether a working class family eats which may decide whether or not a child lives. The effects of the narrative on the “raw reality” of that family is immense. Yet the narrative has no existence independent of a society’s shared belief system.
An activist from a starving family would find nuance in the statement “money is a narrative.” However, what if the activist kept arguing “money is a narrative” without encountering any starving families until after he designed a “comprehensive anti-poverty plan?” Fighting the narrative of money itself could be seen as valuable (not to mention socially validating), even though the working class family would starve for lack of money.
Once weaponized, postmodernism can be used to refute or at least nullify almost any statement that does not explicitly differentiate between “raw reality” and “narratives.” To those without extensive philosophical education, these arguments can feel intellectually overwhelming. However, at their core, weaponized postmodernism is quite simplistic.
Their first step is to note that no intellectual concept, by definition, can be reduced entirely to “raw reality.” The next step is to also point to the fact that the metrics by which we measure the success of theories (accuracy, coherence, statistical probability, practicality, completeness, simplicity, soundness, validity, etc) are also irreducibly bound up by narratives. Because two people can hold mutually exclusive narratives about the same “raw reality,” we must either say that “one narrative is true while the other is not” or “the narratives are equally true.” (4)
Another technique is to discredit the opponent by accusing them of being unwittingly biased by a narrative. For instance, an SJW responding to this article would say that the overuse of “he” in situations where “she” or “they” were also appropriate proves the author is under the influence of misogynistic impulses. They will, by now, have also prepared to attack this article for the insensitivity of using a word like “abuse” when talking about how they are treating academic theories. (5) My transphobic biases, it will be said, are also evident since earlier I mentioned LGBT youth instead of LGBTIQ youth. And as a last ditch effort, it will be said that the very act of challenging the SJWs is indicative of or a precursor to a denial of racism, sexism, classim, etc. Once the source is successfully discredited in the minds of other SJWs, the intellectual merit of the argument can be ignored. Whether or not non-SJWs are convinced is beside the point, since anyone who is not an SJW is not “woke” and therefore will by definition be incapable of understanding the “woke discussions” of “woke people.”
Applying this weaponized philosophy has some familiar results. When presented with scientific evidence, an SJW may counter that “western science” is a narrative that is no more superior than narratives based on “traditional knowledge.” Trying to find similar rhetorical ground with a common metric (accuracy, soundness, validity, etc) will be met with another sneer and the (technically correct) proposition that the value of any metric is bound up in yet another narrative. For an outsider, this appears to be a complete denial of the very utility of truth and reason. And when postmodernism is taken to absurdist lengths, it is.
However, while postmodernism gives SJWs cannon fodder against hostile facts or critiques, it creates a huge social problem for them. If there is no objective truth, how do activists figure out which grievance group is most deserving of help? Without modification, SJWs run into a stalemate where no one can agree on who is more oppressed because this fundamentalist postmodernism recognizes each individual’s lived experience of oppression as “equally valid.” The performance of charity becomes impossible as the ability of activism to sustain social validation degenerates. Their social ecosystem, it could be said, collapses.
The SJW’s solution came in the form of hijacking and bastardizing yet another theory: intersectionality. Intersectionality, as originally intended, explores the interconnections and interdependence of multiple systems of oppression. A black, working class woman faces different struggles from a white, working class woman. Both face different struggles from a black, upper class woman. However, SJWs abandoned the intellectually rigorous side of intersectionality: how systems of oppression interact to effect the most marginalized.
Instead, intersectionality became a simplistic arithmetic: having a particular trait assigns you to a “race privilege” system or “gender privilege” system. The SJWs flipped intersectionality into the study of “oppressive systems in isolation.” Instead of intersectionality as a matrix of oppression, intersectionality became a hierarchy of oppression.
How oppressed an individual is can be determined automatically by how superficial their marginalized traits are. Dark skin and transexuality, being most immediately observable, rest at the top of this pyramid. The very concept that “being white and poor” could under ANY circumstances be more oppressive than “being rich and latino” is heretical under this ideology. A white former child soldier and sex trafficking victim with AIDs is less oppressed than Oprah Winfrey. Black women who grew up in Beverly Hills scream down at poor, white transexual boys who were raped for their sexual preference (6).
In the unlikely event that two SJWs get into an argument, the winner by default is whoever ranks higher on this Intersectionality Pyramid. A pyramid which, it should be remembered, considers poverty to be a less oppressive “privilege system” than even the mildest microagression against a marginalized race or gender. How SJWs manage to peruse the most basic works of Zinn or Freire while failing to grasp the basics of intersectionality is beyond the scope of this article.
A noteworthy aspect of this simplistic, compartmentalized “privilege systems” worldview is that oppression is not based on “being black” but by “having dark skin.” This is because of that pesky little irritant to the many who have tried to manifest race as solely a function of skin color: recessive genes. The existence of “white women” with two biologically African parents forced them to resort to the term “white-passing” (7) in order to ignore the genealogical roots of black men and women who did not have the appropriate skin color. This has devolved into accusations of “colorism” as darker-skinned, rich blacks harangue lighter-skinned, poor blacks for having so much more privilege than them. This entire dialogue would come as a great surprise to those of all skin tones who lived through the “One-Drop Rule” era.(8) Within society, the definition of race has never been exclusively the domain of one party. The complexity of race stretches far beyond the intersectionality pyramid’s naive, one-dimensional “darker skin equals lacking more white privilege equals more black.” As Langston Hughes put it:
“You see, unfortunately, I am not black. There are lots of different kinds of blood in our family. But here in the United States, the word ‘Negro’ is used to mean anyone who has any Negro blood at all in his veins. In Africa, the word is more pure. It means all Negro, therefore black. I am brown.”
The intersectionality pyramid, a static representation of fluid power relations, is the SJWs solution to social validation in the face of postmodernism. It is also at the core of the SJWs most bizarre behaviors (re-check the SJW Tumblr quotes and see if they make more sense now). Hierarchical intersectionality, or the Intersectionality Pyramid, is a pseudo-intellectual bastardization of what promises to be a truly cross-discipline, holistic understanding of systemic oppression. Many pockets of academia still hold to the actual definition of intersectionality, but they risk targeting by SJWs if they dare say so in public.
But why target academics whose policy positions are so close to the SJWs? Why purge every intellectual? Why consider it success to take up lofty goals even when the activism is ineffective or even counterproductive? And why are they so scared of working class activists actually speaking their mind?
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Imagine a charity ball full of the coolest, rich white people around. The cause is “helping white men.” There is a photo of a homeless man on the billboard with the words “white man” over it. Instead of outbidding each other for validation with greater and greater sums of money, these donors can only bid more and more extreme “ideological performances.”
However, a performance is only validating if it is considered “successful.” So while “let’s violently overthrow the government” is an ideologically extreme stance, the failure in performance would invalidate the worth of that stance. A statement without performance is the charity ball equivalent of publicly refusing to pay for whatever amount was originally bid. It would be better to be silent than risk that humiliation.
This means that donors get the greatest social validation with the least risk if they take as extreme a stance as possible while simultaneously taking on as vulnerable an opponent or as easy an obstacle as possible. “Let’s overthrow the government” can be socially validated when accompanied with “by blocking a freeway to increase awareness.”
But say then that a homeless white man enters the charity ball and says “why not just spend time feeding the homeless? You’d do much more good that way than by any of these extremist stances coupled with easily attainable, instantly gratifying goals.”
If this hobo is correct, all the social validation that the rich, white men have received from charity balls over the years would be revealed as a self-serving sham. The cognitive dissonance from this fact would be overwhelming. This homeless man is a greater threat to the charity ball than the very existence of homelessness. However, because the donors don’t believe in harming white people, they won’t call security. Instead, they will tell the other cool kids that the white man is a “traitor” who does not want to help other white men. When confronted, they can only defend themselves by saying “homelessness is based on money which is a narrative, so by spreading awareness of the microagressions against rich whites we are attacking the money narrative and thus eliminating poverty.”
Lacking this reaction, either the hobo must be destroyed, his ideology must be invalidated, or the charity ball degenerates into a madhouse of socially co-dependent children seeking comforting words. No matter how smart, charismatic, strategic, and invaluable a dissident may be, he must be purged or silenced or else the movement collapses under its own anti-intellectualism. But where does the SJW’s “charity ball” take place? Is it an actual physical location?
Charity balls have a set time and location for “performing charity;” there is no such thing as “flash mob charity benefits.” This is because socially validating charity can only be performed in front of an audience. The performance ends once the charity ball ends because that is when social validation through charity ends. But what if charity goers had to live inside a continuous charity ball? What if there is no chance to stop “performing” without risking social alienation in an enclosed environment?
College campuses, insulated from outside opinions, act as the perpetual “charity ball” in which Social Justice Warriors must either constantly perform or lose social validation. But, in the end, the only necessary elements are a closed social network and a group-oriented ideological firewall against dissonance-inducing facts. So it is not surprising that what began in colleges migrated to online social networks. There is no need for a physical charity ball when social media acts as a perpetual, virtual arena for social performances. And, enticingly, instead of simply shouting donations into the ether, ideological bids made online become permanent visual monuments to be tagged and shared in perpetuity.
More interestingly, this can explain the phenomena that Vox Day perceives to be the “infiltration” of SJWs into institutions outside of college. In previous generations, student activists whose actions were guided by a need for social validation performed activism until they graduated. After that, they would then enter environments where social validation no longer depends on activism. The socially malleable hippie, upon entering the financial industry, soon seeks social validation through money, power, and other markers of status in those circles.
But with the predominance of social media, alumni SJWs no longer shed their extended social network when they graduate. Instead of occasionally keeping in touch with close college friends, every public update means exposure to the same social network that only sees validation through performed activism. The alumnus SJW becomes a node between the SJW-dominated college network and the alumnus’ post-graduation social and employment-based networks. The ideological bidding process which once ended in college now continues as long as the alumnus seeks social validation from that group. SJWs who enter environments with this pre-existing network may not even feel the need to make “new friends” since they already have so many sources of social validation.
However, to do so creates a “siege mentality” as the SJW alumnus finds increasing dissonance between once-validating ideological bids (“overthrow the government by blocking freeways”) and the day-to-day encounters with social and employment networks that do not value that kind of extremist rhetoric. In response, the SJW may attempt to increase the number of “woke” people in their new networks so as to receive validation for continuing old behaviors. Or, if the SJW socially “disavows” their work colleagues and depends solely on the alumni network for validation, they may engage in daily “performed activism” regardless of how grating and demoralizing it is for those around the alumnus.
With this in mind, it is not that hard to predict what a SJW almuni would do if given the power to introduce new people to the environment (such as an SJW boss with hiring power). Namely, they will fill the environment with those who reinforce the socially validating processes they have spent years adhering to. It is also not hard to predict what the SJW alumnus would do to anyone in that new environment that directly challenges their supremacy: work colleagues and employees would become the new targets of the SJW’s “bidding process” at their perpetual, virtual charity ball.
But what exactly is this “bidding process?” Do a collection of egomaniacal bloggers select targets while chomping on lit cigarillos in a shadowy corporate room? Or is it something much more familiar?
MEAN CIS-GENDER, GENDER-CONFORMING HETERONORMATIVE FEMALE YOUTHS
In order to explain the systemic targeting by Social Justice Warriors of individuals and groups, we need not break new theoretical ground. It should be remembered that the aim of SJW performances is to take as extreme a position as possible while choosing victims weak enough to ensure success. These dynamics play out in a manner best categorized by Rosalind Wiseman, known for providing the source material behind the movie “Mean Girls.”
Rosalind describes the two primary mechanisms which lead to the targeting of victims in social arenas. The first, and most well known, is when the “SJW Queen Bee” chooses a target as a means to validate their status as top dog. The Queen Bee is determined mainly by their relative position on the intersectionality pyramid. Those lower on the intersectionality pyramid are unable to ever reach the heights of “really marginalized.”
In order to make up for their low status on the pyramid, these pleasers and wannabes will choose whatever targets they can successfully bully into submission. This is usually the case with white, heterosexual SJWs. They wish to be the Queen Bee’s sidekick but are unlikely to gain that status due to low ranking on the intersectionality pyramid. In order to prove themselves to SJWs of a higher status, they are especially intent on “outbidding” each other in extremist performances.
A figure many victims of SJWs also recognize is the Torn Bystander who is conflicted between considering themselves “nice people” but also wanting social validation from SJWs. They are usually the unwitting middlemen of the Queen Bee and Wannabees. This is because the easiest way for a Torn Bystander to reduce their own cognitive dissonance is to try and convince the victim to act in a way that placates the Queen Bee or Wannabees. This can be disastrous for the victim, since the Torn Bystander’s version of placating can include asking the victim to resign from their job. While standing up for the victim would also reduce dissonance about being a “nice person,” the Torn Bystander considers the personal social cost too great.
As some commentators noted, once an attack has started there appears to be a “swarm” of SJWs joining the attack. These are the wannabees, sidekicks, and others who want to tear off some social validation before the victim is totally consumed by the Queen Bee and adventurous Wannabees.
A Social Justice Warrior might object at this point, claiming that the problem lies not with the SJW ideology but with the implicit influence of a capitalist environment. If the SJWs had prior control over the education system and environment, these problems might disappear.
Unfortunately for that SJW, this question has already been asked and answered. And the answer isn’t pretty.
SOCIAL JUSTICE GUARDS
In 1965, Mao had a problem. If Communism was correct, then a revolutionary change in China’s base and superstructure should have ended divisions among people based along class lines. However, over ten years had passed and the new generation of Communist youth were showing some disturbing trends. His attempt to right the ship, his infamous “16 Points,” triggered the Cultural Revolution and the violently radical “Red Guards.”
In Communist China, children were initially divided into “good-origins classes” (parents were involved in the revolution or were peasant/factory workers), the “enemy classes” (parents were capitalists, had a history of publicly denouncing Mao, or were Nationalists), and the “ally classes” (parents were peddlers, store clerks, teachers, doctors, etc.). Revolutionary cadre (offspring of party members and military officials) were “more good” than the offspring of peasants and factory workers. The offspring of non-intelligentsia ally classes were “more good” than the intelligentsia ally classes.
While Education Minister Yang Xiufeng fought for a science-oriented curriculum to modernize China with expertise training, Mao cared more about instilling revolutionary ethics through schooling with minor attention paid to “bourgeoisie book learning.” Ironically, this resulted in a generation who only understood Communism through editorials, a smattering of party history, and a simple textbook explanation. Neither articles by Marx nor even an entire book by Mao was required reading even by high school seniors (at the time they had 12 year schooling like America). Instead what counted was the “emotive and moral elements” and how students acted out those elements in everyday life. (9)
This led to a distinction between “formal activists” who signed up to get ahead in the party and “informal activists” who helped others without official support. While there were formal activists who were truly interested in helping fellow students, at the same time the limited membership in official activist groups meant those classmates were also competition. Since deciding who had the “most good” attitude could only be determined by observing behaviors, increasingly absurd rounds of “play-acting” ensued. Students fought to wake up first and sweep the floors “anonymously.” Some wrote “secret diaries” full of praises of Mao and left them open on their bed. When presented with speakers from tragic backgrounds, former Maoist youths recall the temptation to publicly demonstrate the depths of their feelings by breaking into tears. The other easy means of demonstrating purity was by “criticizing and publicizing other’s flaws in small group sessions.” For the activists who were truly genuine in their commitment, this hypocrisy rankled them even more and increased pressure to perform what they considered “real activism.
Party campaigns and even school administrations encouraged this mix of “truly felt values and play-acting” since it encouraged conformity even when students were not totally heartfelt in their commitment. Others thought that repeated posturing, even if phony, would eventually internalize in the stragglers. Good Origin students who weren’t interested in politics were pressured to join the Communist League in order to be “awakened.”
However, Mao began to see his enemies among the corrupted good origins class to be a greater threat than than those in the now-suppressed former capitalist class. He tried to mobilize the students to campaign against his enemies within the Communist party by releasing “16 Points on the Cultural Revolution” on August 8th, 1966. But to Mao’s apparent surprise, students only responded to Mao’s directives “in a manner that was most favorable to their class circumstances.” The sons of well-connected party members and military officials announced their endorsement of the “Bloodline Theory” which privileged university and league admission to whoever was born into the “most good” class regardless of political attitude. They argued that only a small minority of the revolutionary cadre were bad apple “capitalist roaders” and so the class as a whole still warranted respect. Although ostensibly for the working class (pre-revolutionary peasants and factory workers), the Bloodline Theory in practice led to cliques of revolutionary cadre taking advantage of resources at the expense of the working class of good origin. The “purest” good origin students declared themselves to be the “Loyalist Red Guard.”(10)
An important aspect of the Bloodline Theory is that along with class label, students inherit their parent’s “class feelings.” Regardless of their behaviors, a student of the wrong class can never be trusted because he cannot be separated from his “class feelings.” As purists competed with each other, factions emerged that even denied “good origin” class to the offspring of factory workers whose grandparents were not also factory workers.
This environment created enormous pressure on students from the “allied classes” to demonstrate their devotion to Mao. These students along with purged good origin students merged into a “Rebel Red Guard.” The Rebel Red Guard believed that political attitude in the present, not class inheritance, was what was important. Because they could not rely on inherited class, they could only surpass the Loyalist Red Guards by emphasizing a willingness to die in defense of Mao and his ideals. Their targets, unsurprisingly, were Mao’s purported enemies in the good origins class. The Loyalist Red Guards, on the other hand, targeted those of non-good origins.
The Loyalist Red Guard had a very basic reason for trying to keep the focus on teachers and other non-good origin victims; their parents and elders were part of the “good origins” ruling group Mao wished to target.
It began when Mao asked that the students participate symbolically in a protest against a good origins playwright and newspaper editor he considered a threat. Interviewed activists at the time remember not knowing the exact issues involved but that they were exhilarated at the chance to take their “petty campus activism” to a national stage. They became enraptured with a “grand drama” in which they were the sole legitimate defenders of good in the face of “demons.”
Things began spiraling out of control when Loyalist Red Guards at Peking University hung posters claiming the campus was controlled by “bourgeois anti-revolutionaries.” Within days, revolutionary cadres across the province were hanging posters denouncing their school’s administration and teachers. An activist competition between informal groups sprung up to see who could produce the greatest quantity. When entire walls, from floor to ceiling, were covered with these posters, new posters were overlaid on them (see photo at top).
The play-acting used to torment fellow students then turned on the elders. The majority of teachers were from non-good origins, making them targets for verbal and physical attacks. The author notes that the good origin, high class parents showed little consideration for what happened to teachers since these parents were “of considerably higher political status than even their school’s party head” and thus “already stood little in awe of the teacher and school head’s authority.”
Being targeted by a poster could mean the end of a teacher or administrator’s job, if they were lucky. The less lucky were imprisoned in classrooms and brought out only to be berated and beaten by Red Guards. Teachers could be targeted for not emphasizing Mao enough, for “laziness in labor,” for their style of clothes, and for every “slip of the tongue” ever made. When speaking of their enemies in the non-good origin classes, former Loyalist Red Guards use words like “demons” and “devil” with conviction. The dehumanization made the murders and torture that much easier.
The author also noted a stark difference in the goals of the Loyalist Red Guards versus the coalition making up the Rebel Red Guards. Namely, Loyalists wanted to abolish entrance examinations for universities (making admission entirely origin and attitude-based), keep attacks focused on those who weren’t of good origin, and ensure that there was freedom of speech to criticize individuals (a freedom which did not extend to criticizing Mao or Communism). Meanwhile, Rebel Red Guards were focused on overthrowing elements of the upper classes that they thought were trying to undermine Mao’s directives.
Eventually, Mao had to send thousands of soldiers into the cities to put down the marauding Red Guard factions. Even with a decade of time and a total blank slate on how to shape the minds of the youths, Mao had failed at trying to erase the effects of class from a nation of self-described Communists. Ignoring this “Great Contradiction,” as he later described it, was at the heart of why the revolutionary cadre got out of hand. As Mao learned the hard way, even total control of the economy and culture cannot fix the exploitation of “performed activism” by the ruling classes.
Does this mean social justice itself is impossible? That because Communism is flawed beyond repair, there is no way to reconcile democracy with a nation where children aren’t starving and veterans are not homeless?
Far from it. However, the answer lies not in trying to control others. In fact, it lies in exactly the opposite direction.
TAKING “SOCIAL JUSTICE” BACK FROM SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS
Equity and other admirable causes of social justice must be taken back from those who exploit activism for personal social validation. However, this is actually not as hard to attain as might be imagined. By incorporating two practices to liberal discourse on the college campus, Social Justice Warriors will be forced to either take more reasonable stances or silence themselves for fear of seeming a fool. These practices can be dubbed Critical Criticalism and Your Ears or Your Head.
The first practice, Critical Criticalism, posits a basic standard for any self-proclaimed social justice ideology. Namely, that regardless of how moral, valuable, noteworthy, or beneficial some aspect of a critical theory may be to humanity, the whole must stand up to intellectual rigor. If not, then no matter what benefits the ideology may bring, it will remain unstable and open to challenge by anyone with intellectual rigor. The only way for direct beneficiaries of that system to ensure the continuance of their benefits is to silence any voices that challenge the provision of those benefits. This culture of withholding criticism creates inefficiencies as proactive intellectuals are purged and submissive ones are too intimidated to point out even the most disastrous tactical decisions by the beneficiaries. Many would rather watch the movement crash and burn than risk the repercussions of being socially purged.
However, any ideology that can withstand intellectual challenges has no need to silence opposition regardless of who is benefited or harmed. The heart of individuality is the ability of an individual to challenge the collective beliefs and actions of the whole. So it is no exaggeration to say that individuality can only co-exist with social justice when criticism remains an acceptable intellectual activity.
The second practice can be called “Your Ears of Your Head.” In short, any attempt to ameliorate a grievance group’s problems will likely fail without input from relevant members in critical planning stages. This “relevance” must be intersectional: the needs of working class blacks and latinos are best understood by students who are working class blacks and latinos. The input of rich blacks or latinos is needed to plan social interventions to help racially marginalized students in higher socioeconomic rungs.
When the leadership is held by those members of the grievance group who best understand the on-the-ground struggles of those they seek to emancipate, student movements have found success. This is also why upper class college students in marginalized demographics have found success in advocating for policy change that benefits themselves (trigger warnings, safe spaces, changing words on buildings on college campuses). Meanwhile, their leadership in advancing any kind of “social justice” for working class marginalized demographics has been almost non-existent.
At the same time, the leadership from first generation and working class student groups has led to many noteworthy advances for other working class youths both on and off the campus. While SJWs at UCLA shouted down mothers whose sons were gunned down by illegal immigrants, homeless UCLA students created the Bruin’s Shelter for other homeless students. While Stanford University SJWs protested the appointment of Donald Rumsfeld to the semi-independent Hoover Institute, the student-founded First Generation and Low Income Partnership (FLIP) succeeded in creating the first “First Generation and Diversity Office” in the nation.
And recently, as UC Berkeley’s “First Generation Professionals” mentors working class law students and its sociology department engages in cutting-edge research on social class, a gang of cowardly, masked SJWs harassed and attacked civilians who were hoping to see a gay conservative speak about radical ideologies. This makes sense. What harm would the rich marauders come to, having the campus shut down? They can afford to choose another campus to wreck (11).
That said, over the past few years there have been multiple incursions by Social Justice Warriors into university First Generation and Low Income groups which has led to the purging of some of the country’s most effective student activists.
While there are many ways to determine which working class members are most qualified to lead movements that aim to alleviate the intersectional oppression of marginalized groups, suffice to say the leaders should not be those who would continue to demand the maintenance of the intersectionality pyramid. Any leader who fears Critical Criticalism will inevitably create a movement based on silencing the intellectuals. Any movement where intellectuals dare not correct tactical mistakes is inherently ineffective.
Challenging the intersectionality pyramid is not only career suicide for professors, it is social suicide for working class activists in movements led by the middle and upper classes. Without reservation, we can say that all the smartest, most successful working class activists we know have been purged or silenced by Social Justice Warriors over the past five years. Why? Because it would be heresy to allow the priorities of the working class to ever raise above the priorities of the richest, most pampered student who also belongs to a marginalized race, gender, or sexuality.
Yes, it is terrible being a trans youth, even if you are rich. But “my parents are ashamed of me” and “my friends think I’m a freak” is not quite as severe as “my parents kicked me out, I am constantly sexually assaulted while camping on Skid Row, and the police beat me especially hard when they pick me up because I make them uncomfortable about their sexuality.”
SJW’s fair no better on race. They call the dissident working class blacks “coons” and “uncle toms” because they refuse to play the rich man’s game of radicalized, trivialized one-upsmanship against increasingly vulnerable victims. They call them “coons” because these dissidents attack oppressive institutions instead of offensive people. Because these dissidents see others as “potential brothers” instead of “obligated allies.” Because they insist on having goals and strategy instead of instant gratification and herd instincts. Because they refuse to back down from the claim that they are here to liberate “the people” not “my people.”
And the despicable truth is that intellectual working class blacks and LGBTIQ, ESPECIALLY conservative ones, are more of a threat to the SJW’s social fabric than any oppressive institution run by rich, white men. They purge and attack their own kind because to do otherwise risks reducing the Social Justice Warrior’s ecosystem into the absurdity that underlies it. Even acknowledging the existence of black or gay conservatives is so dangerous to the SJW ideology that such people are immediately labeled race/gender traitors or useful idiots.
For too long, rich college students have been allowed to hijack social justice for perverse, self-serving needs. They have institutionalized their own biases instead of liberalizing academic discourse. They ruin lives and mock the destitute without a second thought as long as the victim does not appear too high on the intersectionality pyramid. And may god have mercy on the soul of any black transexual, rich or not, that dares point out all the roots of intersectional oppression.
Two stark choices remain. Either the Social Justice Warriors must adopt “Critical Criticalism” and “Your Ears or Your Head” or they must crumble like every anti-intellectual, quasi-fascist, reactionary, rudderless, paranoid faction before them.
1. The Alt-Right is a funny lot. According to Vox Day’s “16 Points on the Alt-Right,” this group “doesn’t care what you think,” believes in securing a “future for white children” that is “unadulterated” by immigration, believes white people are more intelligent than black people, believes “diversity + proximity = war,” yet will throw unimaginable temper tantrums when it is publicly suggested that they are in fact “racial supremacists.” That said, this may well be a misunderstanding, and the Alt-Right is in fact a radical indigenous rights advocates for Native Americans. As the 16 points note, the Alt-Right is ” opposed to the rule or domination of any native ethnic group by another, particularly in the sovereign homelands of the dominated peoples.” As the comments section of our social media feeds are likely to soon show, quite a few in the Alt-Right certainly do care what others think. The previous sentence will be erased if we are proven wrong.
2. For the sake of clarity, I am restricting discussion to postmodernism that is NOT based on philosophical idealism or anti-realism. Similarly, I am consciously avoiding discussion of how pre-existing mental precepts can influence the very act of perception.
3. It’s also enabled a lot of extremely untalented artists to get filthy rich.
4. More exotically one could also argue the narratives are both equally false, both simultaneously true-and-false, or incapable of receiving a truth value of any sort. The SJW assumes their audience is unaware that these possibilities exist and therefore lets them conclude the “natural” answer is that a contradictory narrative prove that the audience holds a “personal truth” that is equal to the speaker’s “personal truth,” but there is no “objective truth” to be argued over. Once you lift the smoke and mirrors, this line of reasoning is analogous to “you and I can have different opinions over the best flavor ice cream, therefore ice cream does not exist.” Or, as the upper class activist might say “the ice cream I am holding in my hand does not exist.”
5. Not to spoil the surprise, but on several occasions a child sex trafficking victim was accused of “abusing” SJWs that she was verbally critiquing.
6. Trigger Warning: This article contains references about sexual assault and/or violence which may be triggering to survivors.
7. “White-passing” is yet another foreign concept in most working class neighborhoods. It takes middle and upper class de facto segregation to keep races so far apart that they don’t dare “interbreed.” Barring incest, it takes an extraordinary amount of effort for a working class family to maintain the worthless concept of a “pure white lineage.”
8. Under the intersectionality pyramid’s definition of race, an interesting thought experiment arises if we imagine a world where Rachel Dolezal is unwittingly raised, since birth, to think she is black and permanent make-up makes the rest of the world think she is black. If she fails to experience “white privilege” and instead experiences institutionalized oppression, would she be capable of “racism” towards white people? Or would she only be “prejudiced” towards white people? What if she hated “other” black people? Intellectual rigor demands answering, not snidely dismissing, these kinds of questions.
9. This and other selections concerning the cultural revolution were taken from Jonathan Unger’s “Education Under Mao: Class and Competition in Canton Schools, 1960-1980.”
10. To know Mao’s thoughts on the Bloodline Theory, it should be pointed out that the theory’s main proponent was soon arrested and publicly executed. A breakdown of which Red Guards were exiled to the countryside after the Cultural Revolution reinforces this interpretation.
11. Any leftist or ideologically-driven anarchist engaging in violence are at best morons and at worst agent provocateurs. Compare the abject stupidity of the Antifa’s screed arguing for violence versus a rigorous analysis of nonviolent versus violent revolution. To put it very mildly, this “ideology” is not compatible with Critical Criticalism.