I think that the only way I can make this comprehensible to you is to talk in terms of pain. We can follow the faultlines along my body, and trace the damage. Let’s start at the feet, the nerve damage the developed when he would hold me down while he raped me as a toddler. The nerve damage from the hard labor. I’m 29, and some days my compression socks are the only thing standing in the way of me being fully bedridden. These aren’t from the Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. We’ve traced my injuries back to every single memory. The damaged shoulder is from it being dislocated by my parents when they raped me and I struggled.
The knee? I injured that resisting rapes (it turns out that if a small child locks her knees together, it takes a lot of force to separate them and my knee paid for that).
The neck? Is that from the attempted stranglings?
Those scars on my wrist? The time they tried to kill me.
My hands? Hard labor, intentionally sprained wrists and the push to succeed did that.
My ankle is worse because of the rapes while I recovered from surgery after I broke it.
You can see the damage of oppression in my medical chart.
All this physical evidence and no one saw it until my husband did.
Because I was poor. Because I was white. Because I was accomplished. Because I didn’t look and sound like a victim. Because I was resistant.
Resisting made things so much worse. They did everything they could to break me. They raped me in front of my siblings. They beat me. They punished me when I volunteered to take those hits for someone else. There was nothing they hated more than after ALL THAT, after decades of torture and abuse, after even being exposed to the different forms of oppression at Stanford, I was still kind. Resistant as hell, but not once could they convince me to hurt innocent people. They couldn’t make me into a monster.
If you think that in the course of this time I never wanted to be violent or that being resistant without being violent was easier, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about. It took a tremendous amount of discipline and strength to endure all of that and come out the other side still preaching love and nonviolence. But I have been tested and I have been through the fire, and I have risen out of the ashes over and over again to say the same thing.
We can talk about the morality of violence. It is just wrong to hurt innocent people, if you don’t think so, then you are the monster. But doing violence changes you in ways you can’t take back. I know because I watched the way they destroyed my sister. Her fury and the way she beat my brother and me was never a sign of strength but a sign of profound pain. I didn’t envy her, I just felt bad for her, which is why I often took those beatings.
But violence is also ineffective against actual monsters because we will never out-monster them. True pyschopaths and sociopaths WANT us to be them. They won’t respond badly to violence because that is the world they believe in. We will never be as cruel as them. We will never be able to hurt people as well as them. This is asymmetrical warfare and when you up against a stronger enemy, you have to be more careful and strategic.
There are so many times I would have died if I had made a single mistake. Had I been just a few seconds delayed, the fire might have engulfed my brother and me both. Had I freaked out instead of putting the fire out while in extreme pain, I would be dead.
If the train hadn’t come at exactly the right time, something I had planned and stalled for, I would be dead.
And if I hadn’t told my neighbor to keep an eye on the house the night they tried to stab me, I would be dead. There was no room for error. I could not make mistakes. I could not let emotions drive me. I had other people’s lives on the line, and had I died, more would have followed.
So I’m not someone who is saying this without experiencing oppression. If you know an American with an more harrowing story of oppression, I’d like to meet them so I can have more friends. I’m not saying this as some pansy nonviolent advocate. I have family in the military, and I believe there is a time and place to fight. I’m not saying this because I’m conservative and I think peace and harmony are more important.
First of all, if you showed up to the radical circles I hang with, we’d all be like, “I don’t know her.” I was giving lectures on the way racism is used to divide the masses in 2010 before it was cool. I helped start the movement for poor and working class kids on college campuses. I’m an anti-racist trained teacher with a Master’s degree in education who once got in trouble in grad school for including the Black Panthers in her curriculum. I’ve worked at domestic violence shelters, as a special needs paraprofessional in one of the roughest neighborhoods in the Bay. I wrote one of my admission essays on how the homeless man on the bus who was missing an arm and a leg was the person society should most revere.
You wanna play out-radicalize, kids? Well, you in the big leagues now, sweethearts. And in the big league, we do our homework. So you can’t make that argument.
I disagree with you because I think what you are doing is wrong and ineffective based on life experience and a comprehensive study of social movements around the world. I’m against it because I don’t think it is going to work, and seeing as how I’ve never seen an explanation for how pepper spraying old people would have stopped Hitler, I’m not holding my breath that you even know why you are doing what you are doing.
But this isn’t even close to our only option. And these so-called “antifas” aren’t even close to our only option for leadership in solving the serious problems we face. They don’t know this because they have NO FUCKING IDEA what they are doing. Do you really think MLK didn’t weigh the benefits and consequences of your actions? That you are better at the game than him? That you know more than your grassroots folks? That you know more than people who have been studying and doing this for longer than you’ve been alive? Is it because your parents told you that you were special too many times?
But I also want to be clear. I think the so-called “antifas” are weak willed children who demonstrated that they aren’t fit for leadership. I don’t think they are “strong” or showing Trump who is boss. I think they are fucking babies. I endured actual torture for years and I still have the discipline to plan my actions around how they affect others. I have severe PTSD. My childhood makes McCain’s torture experiences in Vietnam look relatively tame. And I am telling you that this violence and chaos is not strength.
It is the refuge of weak-willed monsters. And if you think it is going to be you dumb fucks that are going to turn me into a monster when my own mother couldn’t do that, you are arrogant at a disturbing level.
I blame your parents, for raising you to believe you are gods among men.
And babies, my sweet, dear babies, I know exactly how to take down Goliaths.
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.
I got dragged into meetings a lot while I was in college, because if you are really a threat to the status quo, people will try to change your behavior. Fortunately for me, people took the time to help me develop, so as irritating as these meetings were, occasionally I learned something important from attending them.
I was talking to one of the university administrators that dealt with diversity issues and who was also queer identified. Complaining about my classmates and the enormously awful things they used to say in class This isn’t mild microagression stuff where people were being vague in their bigotry either, this is stuff like, “poor people deserve to go to war more often because they are better at killing. ” And stuff like, “don’t you just hate everyone in your neighborhood because they are like, trash, and you aren’t.”I mean, don’t get me wrong, I got the milder stuff too. Except when people asked me where I was from, they were sometimes black. The world was dark for the most outspoken, strongly self-identified working class activist on campus.
But the administration team had high expectations for me, and so they said, “honestly, Heather, a lot of this has to do with your age. Your classmates are still learning. So are you.”
Boy was that administrator right.
I WAS A FUCKING NIGHTMARE IN COLLEGE.
You know how radical the current crop of college activists is? Yeah, well, add some actual well-read Marxism, some righteous anger about having been poor and abused, and the influence of punk rock. I probably had a conduct disorder, but I was at Stanford anyway. And I drank, like a fish, to cope. So a typical Friday night involved me making my classmates cry about how privileged they were for sport. All the kids coming up after me who think they do this now are just pretenders.
I talked about incest at actual dinner parties. Freshman year, I made one of my male classmates hate me forever when I made a public performance of my personal protest about his having the Latina girls in my dorm do laundry. I made people break down in class, often. Men feared me, and some would go to parties just to see what crazy stuff they could get me to say.
And I was pissed about really valid shit. Don’t get me wrong or mistake what I am trying to say. I was right to be angry about classism, about sexual violence, racism and I was right to hate everything about that culture. But I had no idea how to express that anger in a constructive way, and I was too angry to see anyone else’s pain even when it was obviously there.
This was partially a function of my age. At 19, no matter how smart you are, or how much life experience you have, or even how talented an activist you are, there are certain things you just don’t know that you still need to learn.
One of those things, impulse control which (as evidenced by the professor that just got beaten by her own students) is a challenge that developmentally comes with time. Another thing is how to not follow a crowd, or not act like a complete asshole just because everyone else is doing it. I learned that one much younger than most, but others tell me that ideally children are supposed to learn that sometime before college. Based on the behavior of the college students who keep having struggle sessions against other marginalized people, this is clearly not a skill many of our college students (who to be honest are almost entirely rich and middle class) currently possess. No one who is getting lectures should be giving lectures.
I was part of the founding team of folks who were working on class and first gen issues. My work at 19 can be traced to the existence of first gen offices and the resurgence of class identity on college campuses. I’m damn proud of what I accomplished as a dumb kid, and my resume is far more stacked than most of the kids that are operating now.
BUT EVEN WITH ALL THAT, I can promise you that I am grateful everyday that an administrator or professor at Stanford encouraged me while keeping my voice on campus.
Freedom Summer participants weren’t given the control over their movements either. They operated, with extensive training, under the direction of activists like Bob Moses and Fannie Lou Hamer. And, frankly, I believe that the entire Civil Right’s movement of the 60s, pretty much got off the rails the minute the rich kids got back to their campuses and started treating activism like a popularity contest and rock concert.
That’s who I blame for the failures of the 60s and so does most of the rest of the country.
The elite college grads don’t have a great track record overseas either: the entire Cultural Revolution can be traced to largely the same phenomena.
Don’t get me wrong, we need their voices and we need their work. And they need to be trained during these years, but I think they’ve demonstrated that they can’t be IN CHARGE OF SETTING THE AGENDA and making the final call about tactics anymore. No one gave me that power at 19 and I had very serious problems, like PTSD, to discuss. I’m not sure why we are allowing them to set the agenda now.
What I am even more grateful for, is that I was raised with an ethos that you respect your elders.
These college kids think they know better than the people who have been doing it longer than them. And here’s the thing, those people are just as smart as them but have more experience, which makes them MORE QUALIFIED TO BE IN CHARGE. The fact that the college kids can’t recognize that makes me worry about the future.
Being in charge is a real and painful responsibility. I know because I never had a childhood, and I’ve been appointed a leader in my community for longer than I can remember.
It is hard. And if it is fun, you are doing it wrong. The responsibility and the the enormity of the task should haunt you.
Playtime is over when lives are at stake, and since I saved my brother from a fire when I was four, I’ve been keenly aware of that responsibility. So it worries me whenever someone wants to be in charge, but what worries me even more is when people lack the self reflection to even recognize when they shouldn’t be in charge.
One of the best classroom teachers I’ve ever met once said to me that the difference between a good teacher and a great teacher was the process of self reflection. We have to instill the belief that people should examine themselves.
All day, everyday.
Not scream about how mean people are when they point out that your tactics are likely to backfire during planning discussions where we are supposed to be professionals who care about others and serving the masses.
But I’ve also been loved by elders, and there’s something special about the people who DON’T HAVE to take an interest in you, who don’t have to deal with your incredibly shitty attitude, and who take aside the time to save you. I’ve got tons of those, and I learned from them.
They taught me that I was no smarter than prostitutes, or my grandparents or my teachers. They taught me that even if I was, I still had things to learn. They taught me about when grown folks was talking and in the process taught me how to be a grown folk.
At 19, I would have been a BAD LEADER for a national movement. I would have been mostly because my rage was still uncontrolled, but also because there are a lot of things that come with life experience. I have gained a lot of empathy and ways of speaking in the last few years just from my relationship with my husband. The fact that I fell so in love with someone with such a different background changed everything about how I approach my work. The fact that I’m now married has forced me to accept responsibility and maturity in a way I otherwise wouldn’t have. Pre-married Heather was likely to light some fires and go out like a crazy person when Trump got elected. Married Heather has responsibilities and has to plan better.
I was a much worse activist before I became a teacher, and I wouldn’t be half the teacher I am if not for the mentoring and wisdom of an veritable army of older men and women who guided me through that process. And I know this because I’ve had the time and distance to reflect on my actions and behaviors. 19 year old Heather was not this smart, reflective and mature, and 19 year old Heather was arguably one of the most qualified college students of that time to be leading a movement.
So here is my plea to the adults: Let’s stop pretending we don’t know this is true because we are afraid of discouraging people. Anyone who is unwilling to put the work in, and listen to other people or reflect on their behavior does not have leadership qualities in the first place.
Anyone who resorts to physical violence or emotional bullying hasn’t learned how to behave like a grown up. They’ve demonstrated that they are not developmentally ready for the task.
Real leaders can control their behavior. These should be baseline qualifications for who gets mentored and handed the microphone. Even Malala had her dad, and Malala has yet to see her best work. I can basically guarantee that.
College is a special time and place, and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to argue, debate, and learn from my classmates. I’m a better speaker, writer, and activist because of every white boy who was willing to engage me and learn from me, and I think most of them would say they are better at what they do because of their friendship with me (unless they were traumatized by what I did to them in which case, I’m sorry, I was young).
The funny thing about those white boys is that they are people too. (Edit note: ACTUALLY IN COLLEGE IT WASN’T JUST THE WHITE FOLKS. AND ALSO IT WAS GIRLS TOO, STOP LETTING THEM OFF THE HOOK, SOME OF THE GIRLS SAID SOME OF THE WORST STUFF, THEY DON’T GET A PASS BECAUSE OF THEIR GENDER. NO ONE GETS A PASS. NOT EVEN ME).
They were people when they were learning in college, and as awkward as it was to be invited to lunch to talk about my childhood like a token, I’m happy about every lunch I went on. Either they learned something or I learned how to talk to people better. If all of our activists behaved this way, it’d be a lot easier to push an anti-racist, pro-working class and feminist agenda.
So here is my plea: stop treating this struggle like it can be run by a bunch of self-contained and disconnected brats who have no life experience.
There are people who are really truly suffering who need our help and these college kids need to be trained before they are useful. No one should be leading on a national level without some frontline service work behind them. They should have some actual success and the demonstrated commitment to the cause of the suffering of all before they are given a national platform to operate. They need to learn how to do research, and care for kids, and show up and take down chairs, and sweep floors before they can make themselves useful to any of the people they claim to serve.
They need to know what it is to serve.
They need to know who the masses are.
They need to not put their issues at the center of the struggles for people more marginalized than them.
They should be able to recognize those people without their professor’s checklist for what the marginalized are (First of all, most of the professors can’t remember either because they haven’t seen the masses in a long time, but secondly, the word oppressed has meaning and they should be able to recognize it independently without help before the training wheels come off).
The fact is, we aren’t even serving them when we give them as much power as we have over the last few years. We should all be ashamed of ourselves. The adults fucked up real bad by abdicating their responsibility in the name of self esteem.
And like adults, we should roll our sleeves up and get to work.
It’s already too late.
Because Trump is President and the left lost so badly, they still are trying to develop amnesia about it.
But the conservatives may be in power a long time, so the time to be forgetful is over.
Now is only the time to plan and to sweep and to teach.
Some of you must remember what that’s like?
You sure remembered it in my case.
And for that, I am grateful.
I’m sick of these so-called “anti-fas” cowardly fucks on the left who claim they are fighting on behalf of the oppressed while showing up in masks hurting innocent citizens and failing to actually effectively get our message across. They make us look weak and they make it hard to determine who the actual fascists are. They also just look like cowards. This is NOT how real men handle their problems where I come from, so let me show you how this is actually done.
Your issue is with what Milo is saying, right? You believe our side is right, correct? You believe we got the evidence and we are strong enough to handle a debate like grown ups, right?
Ok, well, then I’m calling Milo out.
Milo, I challenge you to a debate. You pick the stage and the time and I’ll be happy to come and debate you on some issues I think are important to our side. Here are some terms I think both sides can agree to.
- This is an intellectual and academic debate, which means intellectual and academic rules hold. No fallacies and both sides get a fact checker of their choosing to check the other side. As a classroom teacher, I banned the basic fallacies including ad hominem and hasty generalization, but I’m willing to talk out a list in advance of possible fallacies we can take off the table as well as other logic rules you might want to hold me to.
- Three topics chosen each, in advance I’m telling you mine are: poverty, education, and veterans issues. I think the questions should be chosen and moderated by an independent body and given to both sides in advance for research purposes in the interest of fairness and because I want this to be a thoughtful and intelligent debate. You are welcome to pick any topics you like. For the purposes of preparation, I’ll be happy to give you the contents of my body of work.
- I want a panel moderation that represents a broad ideological spectrum of hard hitting elders. We can negotiate how that is selected and who will serve on that panel. I suggest three, one selected by each of us, the third selected by the other two panelists.
Email me if you down to handle this like a real man. The rest of these leftists are pretenders. My email is Mrs.Raffin@Protonmail.com
Editorial Addendum 9/8/2017: When I first asked my husband to write this post, he thought he didn’t think it would be necessary. Since this post was written, the need for it has only grown.
guest post by Ross Raffin
In order to lead a successful movement, it is not sufficient to simply state “I don’t believe in violence.” Activists must be able to explain to their most extreme colleagues why nonviolence will succeed where violence will fail. And make no mistake, violence will fail.
But will nonviolence succeed?
SUCCESSES IN NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE
In just the past twenty years, repressive, violent dictatorships were overthrown by nonviolent conflict in the Philippines (1986), Czechoslovakia (1989), Bulgaria (1989), Mongolia (1990), Latvia (1991), Thailand (1992), East Germany (1993), Serbia (2000), Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004), Lebanon (2005), Nepal (2006), Tunisia (2010), Egypt (2011), and Ukraine again (2013). The Global Nonviolent Action Database has recorded nearly 70 successful, nonviolent regime changes in the past 100 years. The same techniques used by Martin Luther King Jr., Gandi, and Harvey Milk lead to the overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic (killed major political opponents), Victor Yanukovych (imprisoned one opposition candidate and poisoned another), and Ben Ali (top world contender for freedom of press violations in 2000).
As is evident from above, sympathetic state leaders are not necessary for success. Initial approval from the masses is not necessary either. Under Milosevic, many citizens feared that protests would lead to worse conditions. Because they did not believe they were capable of resisting the state, they tried to stop a nascent group of young Serbians called “Otpor.”
This is a commonly ignored part of nonviolent struggle: empowering the masses to resist on their own terms. Otpor’s strategic use of nonviolence chipped away at the myth of Milosevic’s omnipotence and showed the people how they could resist tyranny. By the time they launched the final round of protests, hundreds of thousands of Serbians participated. However, had they acted violently they would never have attained participation from the masses. This makes more sense when considering the motivation behind violence by the state against activists.
VIOLENT REVOLUTION IS INHERENTLY FLAWED
The goal of government repression is to silence and discredit current and potential activists in order to maintain their power. This means state violence not only aims to inhibit activists, it also aims to PROVOKE activists into behaviors which can be used to inhibit their recruitment of potential activists. This is the entire reason for “agent provocateurs.” It is ironic that some activists, then, are preaching the violent doctrine that the repressive state most desires.
Those who see benefits in revolutionary violence do not understand its natural consequences. Violent revolutions depend on secrecy and concentration of power within a core of people with access to weapons and the perceived authority to direct violence. After this new government of killers takes control, the people will remain unempowered against this violent core unless they wish to engage in their own counter-violent revolution.
On its most basic level, violence simply isn’t as effective. A study of conflicts between states and non-state actors found that between 1990 and 2006 violent revolution succeeded only 26% of the time. Nonviolent resistance succeeded 53% of the time. Controlling for level of repression does not change the trend.
The proponents of violent activism also tend to have a tenuous grasp of history. For instance, the American revolution would have been crushed by England’s naval superiority and economic blockades without France’s navy on their side. During the Chinese Revolution, the Nationalists were fighting an invasion by Japan while looting and raping the countryside. Even then, the result was a concentration of power at the expense of the masses. This out-of-touch clique was single-handedly responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of the very people they claimed to represent. The French revolution resulted in the Reign of Terror and Napoleon. The Haitian Revolution was against a distant colonial government; they fought mostly well-armed slave owners who were outnumbered 10:1. France eventually sent in an extra 6,000 soldiers, but Spain invaded mid-way through the revolution and fought alongside Toussaint Louverture. At both stages of the revolution, the rebels firepower matched their opponents.
Considering the on-the-ground experience of most activists, it is entirely understandable that they have bought into the myth of violent revolution. The difference between their experiences and the above campaigns, however, are rooted in differences in how they view a dictator’s power in relation to his subjects.
GOALS OF NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE
A campaign of nonviolent struggle aims to produce certain behaviors from opponents (for instance, congress passing a Civil Rights bill or a dictator fleeing the country). These behaviors come about from one of four end results:
1. Conversion – The opponent accepts the views of activists due to rational argumentation or emotional appeals. For a variety of reasons, this is unlikely to work, namely that conversion of the opponent doesn’t happen without changing their worldview and core beliefs. Among hundreds of recorded cases of nonviolent struggle, only a handful of conversions of opponents have ever achieved anything of value.
2. Accommodation – Opponents do not change their beliefs but give in to activist’s demands because it is calculated to be in the opponent’s best interest. Continual nonviolent conflict creates a spectrum of problems for opponents (internal dissent, hurt profits, hurt reputation, etc) which may not be worth the trouble of fighting.
3. Nonviolent coercion – Widespread noncooperation and other methods paralyzes the opponents ability to stop activists from achieving their goals. A dictator faced with a civilian protest may call for his army to open fire, only to find that they refuse to shoot their own people. A trucking company with unethical practices might find itself economically crippled by mass strikes and cross-industry union support.
4. Disintegration – The destruction of the opponent’s entire system to the point where no organization remains even to accept defeat. While this may make sense when dealing with dictatorships and even managed democracies, there has yet to be a good case for disintegrating a constitutional democracy. Any constitutional amendment imaginable can result from conversion, accommodation, and nonviolent coercion.
These four goals can each be achieved through the same set of nonviolent methods. But to understand why these methods lead to the above goals, it is necessary to talk about the relationship between a dictator and his subjects.
WHY NONVIOLENCE WORKS
A dictator’s ability to suppress dissent depends on maintaining the following myth: “Rulers hold and exercise power, using it to coerce others. The dictator will suppress any who challenge him, and his overwhelming firepower guarantee victory. “
The truth is that no leader, including the most brutal dictator, can rule without the consent of their subjects. That obedience is what gives the dictator power, so power is sapped from a dictator by convincing people to withdraw that consent. The dictator can respond by calling for the army to gun down these activists… except the army happens to be full of “people” as well. The dictator can buy mercenaries… except no tax revenue is coming in because the people refuse to pay, workers are on strike, and bureaucrats refuse to help process existing returns.
Nonviolent struggle, then, aims to sap or sever the sources of the dictator’s power as well as increase the power of the grievance group (those directly effected by the dictator’s oppression) until one of the above four goals is achieved.
THE ORIGIN OF POLITICAL POWER
Power comes from six main sources. Authority or perceived legitimacy leads people to accept the right of a person or group to lead and be obeyed voluntarily. Even with authority, the ruler cannot turn his desires into a reality without human resources (specialists, labor force, bureaucrats), some of whom must possess the necessary skills and knowledge to keep the country’s infrastructure, equipment, and economy running smoothly. Psychological and ideological factors like habit, feelings of moral obligation, self-interest, cultural attitudes towards obedience and submission, presence of a common faith ideology, and other intangible measures contribute to a ruler’s power. The degree to which the ruler controls a country’s material resources (property, natural resources, financial resources, communication and transportation, etc.) also impacts his power. Perhaps the most important resource available to a dictator is is sanctions, the enforcement of obedience. Sanctions can be violent (stopping a protest with deadly force) or nonviolent (seizure of property for those who do not obey).
In order to increase these sources of power, the dictator must rely on a set of institutions and people such as the army, police, business community, religious leaders, working class laborers, and other pillars of support. If the opponent is a business, pillars of support might be their consumers, their suppliers, regulatory agencies, and legislators. Withdrawal of support from enough pillars will diminish the opponent’s power until they must accept the activist’s demands or risk disintegration.
The purpose of nonviolent methods is to withdraw the consent of an opponent’s pillars of support, weakening the opponent’s relative power until they agree to the activist’s terms. This is not done by alienating or trying to destroy pillars of support. Instead, this is done by eroding the loyalty of those institutions until they withdraw their support from the opponent. This is how Slobodan Milosevic, a genocidal maniac who killed anyone who challenged him, was overthrown nonviolently by a student group call “Otpor.”
HOW TO ERODE A DICTATOR’S POWER
When activists are properly disciplined and trained, then any ensuing state repression will drastically erode a dictator’s pillars of support. While Gene Sharp listed nearly 200 different nonviolent methods to erode the opponent’s pillars of support and increase relative power, he grouped these into three overarching categories.
1. Nonviolent Protest and Persuasion – This is what most people think of when they hear “nonviolent activism:” Public speeches, rallies, marches, petitions, symbolic displays, street theater, walk outs, and teach-ins. These are intended to send messages to the opponent as well as shape the perceptions of people the opponent depends on. In democracies, this usually means shaping the perceptions of the voting public.
At the same time, this method aims to empower the grievance group (those most directly oppressed the opponent) to join activists in their efforts. Unfortunately, modern activists have focused almost exclusively on this category. As Gandi learned when fighting for human rights in Africa, the opponent group (oppressors and their core supporters) rarely undergoes conversion. However, if the opponent has vulnerable pillars of support (in the case of the British government, their businesses and the popular support), then protest and persuasion can decrease the opponent’s relative power by eroding the loyalty of those pillars.
2. Noncooperation – This involves people withdrawing consent by choosing not to participate in certain public actions. The most common manifestations are strikes, boycotts, withdrawal of bank deposits, refusal to acknowledge government institutions, nonobedience in absence of supervision, even simple bureacratic footdragging. This is a safer option when struggling against the most repressive dictatorships. Eroding one pillar of support can indirectly erode others. If noncooperation erodes a dictator’s ability to gain tax revenue, he cannot pay his military. The military pillar of support then depends entirely on loyalty to the dictator which depends on the pillar related to perceived legitimacy.
3. Nonviolent Intervention – these methods actively disrupt the normal operations of policies or systems psychologically, physically, socially, economically, or politically. This involves sit-ins, fasts, nonviolent obstruction, guerilla theater, alternative social institutions, overloading facilities and administrative systems, among other active measures. However, they are also the riskiest for whoever is participating.
The risk involved for any given nonviolent method depends on the country’s responses to actions outside their particular range of normal political action. In a constitutional democracy writing letters to politicians, voting, and public campaigning constitute normal political action and will not be repressed. As long as it is not considered a serious “public disturbance” or sense of challenge to authority, many democracies will even permit nonviolent methods technically deemed illegal (majority of 2003 Iraq war protests without permits or in violation of municipal laws.) Those same actions in a ruthless dictatorship could lead to extra-judicial executions.
While no one should seek out high risk situations, violent repression can drastically increase the ACTIVIST’S power. But this only happens if they can manage how they are perceived by constituents of the relevant pillars of support. A single rock thrown through a window can turn a perceived “peaceful march” into an “anarchic riot.” Opponents, especially those with influence over the media, will use any excuse possible to prove that the activists are so dangerous that violent repression is justified. Appealing to the public’s perception is especially important in democracies where the politicians must justify their repression to potential voters. The same applies if a business’ consumers are the average citizen as well as if the business’ suppliers primarily depend on average citizens as a consumer base. For more repressive regimes, perception by the entire country’s populace may less important than the perception of those in charge of economic and military pillars of support. If activists can maintain nonviolence, they have access to one of the most powerful weapons in their arsenal: political jui-jitsu (covered in the next article).
Whether by conversion, accommodation, nonviolent coercion, or disintegration, nonviolent struggle has accomplished incredible things over the centuries. But this will be impossible if all activists not only practice nonviolence but understand why nonviolence is superior. It isn’t a matter of morality of religion; it’s a matter of history, strategy, and power.
Next week, we’ll look at the most powerful weapon in an activist’s arsenal: political jiu-jitsu.
There are a lot of skill gaps among folks on the left that need to be addressed if we are going to deal with the problems we now face as a result of the fact that the Democratic party can’t get its shit together. Therefore, I am reluctantly coming out of retirement to start addressing those issues since no one else has stepped up to do it and everyone is running around still acting like delusional morons and pretending we didn’t just get our asses handed to us electorally. Instead of spending the last month and a half grieving this loss and coping with the fact that my holiday season involved the unlocking of memories that included my family trying to kill me, I’ve been busy trying to organize and think through the best way to do this. I kept coming back to the fact that we’ve failed to communicate to people in a language they understand. Since text, and especially academic text, is accessible to only a small portion of the population we are now adding a video series on organizing in the age of Trump. Fans of my actual writing will still see long form essays. We are also looking to expand voices that aren’t normally heard by the left. I’m especially interested in giving space to working class writers who can’t get published elsewhere. If that sounds like you, please email Mrs.Raffin at protonmail.com.
Wake up and get to work.
For more videos check out the You Gon Learn channel.