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"3 Reasons It’s Irrational to Demand ‘Rationalism’ in Social Justice Activism"

11 Post author: PhilGoetz 29 March 2016 03:16PM

The lead article on everydayfeminism.com on March 25:

3 Reasons It’s Irrational to Demand ‘Rationalism’ in Social Justice Activism

The scenario is always the same: I say we should  abolish prisonspolice, and the  American settler state— someone tells me I’m irrational. I say we need  decolonization of the land — someone tells me I’m not being realistic.... When those who are the loudest, the most disruptive — the ones who want to destroy America and all of the oppression it has brought into the world — are being silenced even by others in social justice groups, that is unacceptable.

(The link from "decolonization" is to "Decolonization is not a metaphor", to make it clear s/he means actually giving the land back to the Native Americans.)

I regularly see people who describe how social justice activists act accused of setting up a straw man.  This article show that the bias of some SJWs against reason is impossible to strawman.  The author argues at length that rationality is bad, and that justice arguments shouldn't be rational or be defended rationally.  Ze is, or was, confused about what "rationality" means, but clearly now means it to include reason-based argumentation.

This isn't just some wacko's blog; it was chosen as the headline article for the website.  I had to click around to a few other articles to make sure it wasn't a parody site.

But it isn't just a sign of how irrational the social justice movement is—it has clues to how it got that way.

The author came to hate "rationality" because s/he thought "rationality" meant "conventionality".

In fact, by American standards, my very existence is irrational. For many, I simply do not exist as a queer, Vietnamese femme who is neither a man or a woman. Living in my body, wading through my truths, is not a rational act. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Based on my experiences as a marginalized person, being rational just means going easy on my oppressors.

The narrow bit of room that rationalism gave me wasn’t enough for me to envision new possibilities for my gender, to escape the confines of impending manhood. It wasn’t enough for me to understand my personhood as infinitely more complicated than the models of personhood fed to me by white cis people.

S/he didn't realize that white cis people don't use rationality either to understand their gender and social role.  These are cultural values that parents deliberately program in before a child can become rational and come up with their own version.

Making my own inferences, I'd guess that

1.  The author has had many unpleasant social experiences because of zis refusal to adopt a gender, and

2.  The author is not a good reasoner, and while arguing over these experiences, often makes bad arguments, and gets told ze is irrational, and

3.  The author is unable to distinguish discomfort with zis gender non-choice, from resistance to zis bad ideas, as having separate causes.

 

The 3 reasons are:

1. Being Rational Has No Inherent Value

2. Rationalism Is a Tool Made to Hurt Us

3. We Are Enough Without Rationalism

 

Also see the same site's recent article "4 Reasons Demanding ‘Objectivity’ in Social Justice Debates Can Be Oppressive".

ADDED, since I'm 50 karma in the hole anyway:

Ironically, today's "social justice" program demands a radical rationalism.

Social justice used to be a rationalist program on its surface, pointing out the irrationality of prejudice and the illogic in narratives used to justify oppression.  But as society adjusted its pre-judgements closer to targets that were rational but still unequal, e.g., from "Women can't do engineering" to "Most women don't want to do engineering", the emphasis switched from being rational about our beliefs to irrationally assuming equality of everyone and everything, not just as a default starting point, but as a mandated endpoint.  (Historically, this was tied to an influx of reality-denying continental philosophy into social activism in the 1960s.)

De-emphasizing rationality on its surface requires a more radical rationalism for its practical implementation.  Changing social conventions has a cost.  When we extend social justice beyond respect for difference that people have no choice over, such as race or sex, to roles that they choose, such as religion or gender, the justification for allowing everyone to defy any particular social convention must be a rational cost-benefit assessment.  Many people enjoy the ritual interactions specified by social roles; they are part of their identities and one of their terminal values.  A demand to give up these values must fall back onto consequentialist arguments.

(Is constant social pressure on the person doing the defying more important than thousands of irritations to the people who don't know how to deal with zim, and who feel their own identities inhibited in zis presence?  I don't know.  It's torture vs. dust specks.)

The new social justice program is ultimately to strip from human consciousness all shortcuts, biases, prejudices, pre-computations, and priors.  This requires making each individual a rational consequentialist capable of reasoning zer way from every situation to a rational behavior.  To know how to use social roles, people require either social heuristics (which will inevitably oppress somebody), or radical ends-based rationality. This is particularly true when people are allowed to unilaterally opt in or out of social roles, so that every situation has a mix of people demanding to be treated differently.

(It isn't clear whether priors are permissible in this rationality.)

Even the oppressed classes must be ideal rationalists (Homo economicus).  If women are still allowed to prefer not to be computer programmers, or men are allowed to prefer not to raise children, a free market will make mandated equality cause, rather than alleviate, injustice.

Alternately, we could possibly say that social justice doesn't require radical rationality, provided that we allow no social roles (a commitment to radical individuality).  This also imposes a cost in so far as social roles serve to increase social utility.

Comments (254)

Comment author: Alia1d 29 March 2016 09:07:57PM 17 points [-]

I think there is another reason SJWs (and others) may dislike “rationality” that is getting buried here:

  1. The author is not a good reasoner, and while arguing over these experiences, often says stupid things, and gets told ze is irrational

There is a difference between an argument not being phrased in a reasonable way and the argument itself being stupid. When my husband and I were first married I would win must of the arguments NOT because I was necessarily right (as later came to realize) but because I was a better rhetorician. I could lay out my case in an orderly fashion. I could work commonly agreed statements into my arguments. I could anticipate counter arguments and set-up to counter them. I could model possible external circumstances and present those that supported my view. This lead to a situation where my husband constantly felt steam rolled. He might not be able to articulate logical fallacies but he could feel the effects of his preferences constantly being overruled by mine. I needed to learn to back off and respect his views even if they weren’t phrased as elegantly as mine. Even though I could use a rationality is winning approach to maneuver the situation so that “we spend all the entertainment money on sci-fi books and none on cable” looked like the “rational” decision, I eventually came to realize that, to serve my overarching goal of a flourishing marriage, our hedonic preferences needed to be weighted equally and split the money between our preferences “I really, really want X,” is never stupid or irrational in and of itself. It’s just a preference. To the extent that some SJWs seem to want to say “I really, really want X,” and leave their argument at that, then rationality is irrelevant to them.

Comment author: RolfAndreassen 30 March 2016 04:44:53AM 12 points [-]

To the extent that some SJWs seem to want to say “I really, really want X,” and leave their argument at that, then rationality is irrelevant to them.

Rationality is also irrelevant to my daughter, and for the same reason, as for example in this exchange:

Daughter: I want TV. Me: No more TV now. Daughter: But I want it!

This is rather a common 'argument' of hers; from the outside it looks like she models me as not having understood her preference, and tries to clarify the preference. To be sure, she has the excuse of being four.

Comment author: Alia1d 01 April 2016 03:16:14AM 2 points [-]

I’m not saying that a little more rationality wouldn’t be helpful. I’m saying the pointing to this and saying it’s irrational and maybe stupid is not the most interesting thing that can be said about it. It is more fascinating to look for what is incentivizing the irrationality.

There’s a very rational (in the sence of effective for getting what you want) negotiating tactic I heard about in one of Eric Flint’s books. The negotiator points at Crazy Joe muttering to himself in the corner and says ‘He and his friends are saying that if you don’t double their salaries they are not only going to strike, they’re going to be throwing rotten eggs at you come into the office and showing up at your house at midnight with bullhorns. But I know these people and can talk their language. I can get them to calm down. But you have to give me something in exchange. A ten percent raise doesn’t sound so crazy compared to double the salaries, does it? And besides, if you don’t make a deal with me, you’ll end up having to negotiate with Crazy Joe.’ And the business manager is so aghast by Crazy Joe’s demands that he ends up agreeing that ten percent is not as extreme as he first thought.

The fact that there is a crazy extreme getting a lot of attention, can make the only rationally extreme seem moderate. This sort of tactic doesn’t have to be disingenuous, or even conscious. In fact, If you eject (or steam roll into moderation) too many people for being more extreme than you are, not only do you weaken your negotiating position, you can get evaporative cooling in the direction of agreeing with your opponent.

Of course the people of the extreme extreme don’t need to know, and certainly can’t admit in public, that they are just being used to make other positions look good. When you combine that with the fact the SJWs have trouble coming to terms with the fact you can’t make everyone happy all of the time, the extreme extreme can spiral out of control in a way that is very hard to stop.

Nor is the basic tactic of preference statement counter productive on its own, if there is a significant enough presence of preference utilitarians in the audience to produce a reasonable hit rate. The problem is a coordination one where with enough people pursuing that strategy they end on having to be shriller and more negative to compete with one another. So they have to dwell on their misery, increasing its impact, and he audience gets bombarded. So even though everyone started out just wanting to create a little happiness actually end up creating a fair amount of unhappiness. And that's a much more complex problem solving situation then just pointing out that some people are being irrational.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 March 2016 09:35:48PM *  16 points [-]

To the extent that some SJWs seem to want to say “I really, really want X,” and leave their argument at that, then rationality is irrelevant to them.

The problem is that some SJWs say "I really, really want you/everyone to do X" but the rest of the world is not married to them and is not particularly interested in their hedonic preferences. This means that they need to negotiate for what they want and at this point rationality jumps right back in.

"I really want X and don't care about anything else" is the attitude of a small child.

Comment author: Alia1d 29 March 2016 11:00:59PM 3 points [-]

You are right that there is commonly an implicate argument for action on someone else’s part that is irrational. There was originally an argument from Mainline Protestantism* that somewhat bridged the gap from. But most SJWs don’t want the rest of the baggage from Christianity and so don’t want to examine that foundation. But SJWs do commonly carry forward as assumptions ideas like “true” desires aren’t going to be contradictory and therefor don’t need to be put in a hierarchy:

This is not to say that there are many roles [sic] to be filled among those who resist, none of which should be placed in a hierarchy of value. People come from different places of knowledge, ability, and history which makes each person equipped to participate (if they so choose) based on their unique position in society.

In the meantime, the main audience that SJWs are talking to has the cultural value (inherited from Christianity) that we want to increase people’s happiness. So saying you want something, and therefore it would make you happy, is at least some small amount of weight in favor of that thing.

*(God loves all humans greatly and as imitators of Christ we should love all humans too. Also Christ has redeemed people from their sins and therefore they are going to be (and already are in some non-manifest way) made perfect. Since they are made perfect, their deepest and truest desires will partake of the Good. The Good is non-self-contradictory and innately desirable. Therefore these “true” desires, which are in the process of being brought out in them by the grace of God, should be catered to.)

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 12:38:01AM 3 points [-]

There was originally an argument from Mainline Protestantism* that somewhat bridged the gap from.

Interesting. Do you think it was a sort of convergent evolution or there's actually a traceable line of descent from this bit of Protestant theology to SJWs?

SJWs do commonly carry forward as assumptions ideas like “true” desires aren’t going to be contradictory and therefor don’t need to be put in a hierarchy

Yes, but I read it as, basically, refusal to consider the consequences. It's like you make a list of what you want and pay no attention to the costs or likelihood or even whether things you like are compatible with each other.

SJWs certainly do have utopian tendencies and utopias rarely tolerate close scrutiny.

the cultural value (inherited from Christianity) that we want to increase people’s happiness.

I think this value is deeper and more ancient that Christianity -- it's a consequence of being social animals. If I scratch your back, I make it more probable that you'll scratch mine when I need it. As long at the cost is not high, sure, whatever makes you happy.

But I don't think that's what SJWs are all about.

Comment deleted 30 March 2016 01:30:53AM [-]
Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 01:47:32AM 0 points [-]

It's most evident in the Unitarian Universalists

Very interesting. I had them pegged as The Mild Ones, those who got so wishy-washy and all-embracing about religion that the only thing left afterwards was the "Thou shall be nice" commandment. The SJWs look to have more of Maoist DNA...

Comment deleted 30 March 2016 11:25:28PM [-]
Comment author: Lumifer 31 March 2016 02:08:55AM 0 points [-]

And why would they do that?

Comment deleted 31 March 2016 02:15:22AM *  [-]
Comment author: Lumifer 31 March 2016 03:18:19AM 0 points [-]

since they don't have an a priori reason to distrust them

Um, they don't..? As in, entirely unfamiliar with Chairman Mao and his ways?

such passion means the Maoist-types are expressing their "true desires"

That assertion strongly smells of straw.

Comment author: Alia1d 30 March 2016 04:01:24AM *  0 points [-]

Do you think it was a sort of convergent evolution or there's actually a traceable line of descent from this bit of Protestant theology to SJWs?

Yes, they weren't the only influence but they were an influential and founding one. All the seven sisters have on going involvement with Social Justice today.

I read it as, basically, refusal to consider the consequences

There is certainly a lot of that, especially among the more extreme radicals, which Pham's article is certainly part of. But the reason this can flourish in the discourse community is that it is being buttressed from the side by a sort of 'men of good will can always come to a reasonable agreement' article of faith. Even though Pham themself would reject this believe the fact that others in this community hold it enables Pham's disregard of feasibility. This is one big contribution that Mainline Christianity has been making to Social Justice, providing cohesion with this sort of ballast.

this value is deeper and more ancient ... As long at the cost is not high, sure, whatever makes you happy.

I would agree that this is an ancient value with regards to my family/my friends/my tribe , predicated on their continued acceptable behavior as members of the in group. But I'm doubtful about how far beyond that it would extend. In fact for those defiantly identified as out-group I would think it would be more "As long as the cost is not too high, whatever makes you miserable."

Christianity, as part of its universalizing, had a founding goal of drawing all peoples, languages, and tribes into one family group. Treating everyone as brothers and sisters meant having a care for their happiness.

I agree that SJWs don't seem very interested in making people happy (in fact I think this is one of those Moloch situations and everyone is actually producing unhappiness because of their incentives inside the situation) But SJWs do rely on general happiness goals in their audience. I do also think a lot of Social Justice thinking started out as a genuine desire to help people and make them happier, regardless of how that goal turned back on itself do to inconsistencies in other places in the philosophy.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 02:49:55PM *  10 points [-]

'men of good will can always come to a reasonable agreement' article of faith

That's an interesting observation given that SJWs are very... forceful about separating everyone into sheep and goats. They have come to heavily depend upon the existence of "the enemy" fighting which constitutes most of their raison d'etre. There are, of course, parallels with the devil, but the machinations of Satan figure much more prominently in Catholicism and are (almost?) completely absent in the UU doctrine.

this is an ancient value with regards to my family/my friends/my tribe... But I'm doubtful about how far beyond that it would extend.

For low-cost help I think pretty far. Imagine yourself travelling in some non-Christian country where you are clearly not a native (say, China for most people here). You had a minor accident and you are standing at the side of the road over, say, a broken bike and bleeding from a minor gash. You think random strangers won't stop and help you?

I do also think a lot of Social Justice thinking started out as a genuine desire to help people and make them happier

I've come to realize that my view of SJ is insufficiently steely. Do you happen to know of some text that presents SJ in a reasonable way and:

  • Is not written by an idiot
  • Is not written for idiots
  • Handwaves as little as possible
  • Does not descend into the post-modernism morass
  • Does not reduce SJ to humanism and/or XIX-century liberalism writ large

?

Comment author: Viliam 31 March 2016 10:33:41AM 2 points [-]

Not sure if this guy is sufficiently SJW, but once in a while I notice him writing something smart. Here are some quotes:

A few months back I got into a Twitter argument about the uselessness of complaints about cultural appropriation, in particular a muscular form that takes it as offensive to consume the goods of cultures to which one does not belong — food, clothing, music, and so on. I pointed out the usual problems with this thinking. All culture is hybrid; there is no place where legitimate appreciation ends and shameful appropriation begins; a world without cultural borrowing is a bleak and terrible place; and as I’ve said many times, saying “you should only consume that which comes from your own culture” is functionally identical to the efforts of white supremacists to keep the people pure.

-- the sublime narcissism of getting offended on other people’s behalf

One of American liberalism’s many abundant problems is an ingrained sense that the people it most needs to convince are somehow not worthy of the effort.

-- I wonder why people are so angry

My many unhappy debates with liberals have demonstrated to me that, for every one of them that is motivated by a sincere desire to help everyone, another is motivated by the base instinct to place him or herself above others on the hierarchy of righteousness. American liberalism has become so deeply habituated to the practice of ceaseless and totalizing moral judgment that it seems incapable of expressing itself with any other kind of vocabulary. And the inevitable outcome of a politics of personal righteousness is an ideology made up only of commissars, an army of inquisitors who must by necessity believe in a vast throng of sinners and a small band of saints, with themselves standing as the greatest among this latter group. That’s the opposite of what I’m interested in. I’m not invested in politics out of a desire to be one of the elect. I am invested in politics because I want to destroy the concept of the elect.

-- in the simple foundation

For good or for bad (and you can guess how I’d adjudicate that), progressive politics have adopted cruelty as a core function. Those who are deemed politically unclean — often, I will fully admit, for very good reason, as the world is full of people with shitty opinions that are naturally offensive — are widely believed to be worthy targets of mass character assassination, subject to petty personal insults and existential moral denunciations. I find that so banal a statement of reality I’m not sure anyone could deny that it happens with a straight face. (...) It’s remarkable, on social media, how many of the insults and attacks boil down to more-or-less naked statements of, “I am a member in good standing of this group, and you aren’t, and my group has agreed on your irrelevance and your lack of value.”

-- if you’re not careful who’s in and who’s out becomes the only question

Comment author: Lumifer 31 March 2016 03:05:23PM *  5 points [-]

The guy is criticizing them. Lots of liberals are uncomfortable with SJWs. I'm looking for a steelmanning, for someone to explain why they are doing the right thing (bonus points for linking it to Christianity or UU specifically).

Comment author: mantis 10 June 2016 09:41:04PM -1 points [-]

In case you're still looking, I think you might find Chris Brecheen's "Social Justice Bard" blog edifying, though he doesn't connect social justice ideas to Christianity that I've seen. For that, some of the blogs on the Progressive Christian Channel at Patheos.com might help (Slacktivist is particularly social-justice-oriented), as well as some of the ones on the Atheist Channel whose authors are ex-Christians and still draw inspiration from what they see as Christianity's good points (e.g. Love Joy Feminism, Roll to Disbelieve and An Atheist in Dixie).

Comment author: Lumifer 13 June 2016 02:50:26PM *  4 points [-]

Chris Brecheen's "Social Justice Bard" blog

On a quick glance he seems enthusiastic and voluble (smartness TBD) and I don't really want to dig through his piles of content in the hope of finding a pearl or two.

I'm looking not for a blog, but for a piece of text, a thoughtful write-up of reasonable size. An single essay, if you wish.

Comment author: [deleted] 14 June 2016 10:35:27PM 2 points [-]

In case you're still looking, I think you might find Chris Brecheen's "Social Justice Bard" blog edifying

Looking at this blog I'm having trouble not coming to the conclusion that he's an idiot. Could you cite some of his posts you found particularly edifying?

Original thread here.

Comment deleted 11 June 2016 03:34:06AM [-]
Comment author: Alia1d 31 March 2016 04:17:56AM 2 points [-]

That's an interesting observation given that SJWs are very... forceful about separating everyone into sheep and goats. They have come to heavily depend upon the existence of "the enemy" fighting which constitutes most of their raison d'etre

Of course people of good will come to agree with them, isn't it self evident that if any normal person realizes here is someone who as had a life accident and is doing the emotional equivalent of bleeding, of course they would stop and help, giving what ever validation and encouragement that want. It's hard to imagine how anyone could think so callously. They must be down right evil and we don't want them around. Of course it's only a few people who are like that, most people just haven't realized there is really someone hurting in their feelings here, they will gather round to help and kick the few bad people out of decent society.

Seriously, even though are plenty of instances of SJWs doing the normal human thing and lashing out with hurtful words and people they are angry at, I also think a lot of them would expect most people to agree with them, if only they understood. They see the specific small group they are targeting at the moment and think of that as the problem and don't step back and view the SJM as a whole and realize how many people are targets or potential targets.

In a non-Christian country I would not expect the majority of people to stop and help me after an accident, though I would expect some. But I would expect more of the people who stopped to help to be think that I looked like a rich westerner at that either my high-status would boost theirs through even a brief association or that I was a good opportunity for a hustle.

As for the reference req request, I don't know of any. This is possibly because I am not part of the SJM and don't know as much as an insider. But I can think of a couple of reasons such a reference might not exist. One is that generally the people in the movement don't want to examine their assumptions and open them up to criticism. Second is that, while from the outside the SJM is identifiable as a distinct thing, from within I think SJM just looks like the right way to act on liberalism writ large or the natural progression of progressivism.

I would also note that an emotional impulse to make someone who is sad feel better, however genuine, is not the same thing as an intellectual commitment understand the problem and find ways to solve it.

Comment author: Lumifer 31 March 2016 02:45:54PM 1 point [-]

They see the specific small group they are targeting at the moment

The SJ movements tends to target what they see as large oppressive systems. Cis white men is not a particularly small group, for example. Or take the commonly expressed sentiment that everyone has a racist inside so we have to be constantly on guard and fight it (a very Christian notion, by the way).

In a non-Christian country I would not expect the majority of people to stop and help me after an accident

That's curious. I would encourage a bit of self-reflection about how you came to believe that :-/ To remove the "rich westerner" part, let's replace China with Japan, for example.

from within I think SJM just looks like the right way to act on liberalism writ large

That might be so, but given that I lack the inside view, I don't know. However the militant left-wing streak is just too strong to be compatible with straight XIX century liberalism...

Comment author: Alia1d 01 April 2016 03:47:35AM 0 points [-]

To clarify I wouldn't expect most people in a Christian country to help without an alterative motive either. ( this study comes to mind though I think my option was formed more from general experience.) I have met a few people how genuinely like to help for helping's sake but I think a larger percentage need some additional motivation like an expectation of a likelihood of reciprocation or perceiving the person to be helped as in-group like.

Also, I apologize but my dyslexia kicked in and I mis-read 19th canter as 21st century. If you're willing to settle for 21st century liberalism that is the intellectual foundation of social justice activism I have heard interesting things about "The Givingness of Things: Essay" though I haven't read it.

Comment author: Jiro 31 March 2016 02:38:40PM 1 point [-]

In a non-Christian country I would not expect the majority of people to stop and help me after an accident

Why? Is there something special about non-Christians in this regard which makes them less likely to help you after an accident?

Comment author: Brillyant 31 March 2016 02:49:37PM *  2 points [-]

Well, Christianity, according to many traditional interpretations, involves an omniscient, omnipotent Observer who keeps tally of such good Samaritan-esque acts and provides a reward in a paradisaical life after death. This same Observer might also deny you entry into said paradise if you show a consistent disregard for the welfare of others.

Seems to me this is a pretty rational reason why Christians, among others with similar metaphysical beliefs about the universe, might be more likely to help.

Comment author: Viliam 30 March 2016 07:56:20AM 3 points [-]

I agree that SJWs don't seem very interested in making people happy (in fact I think this is one of those Moloch situations and everyone is actually producing unhappiness because of their incentives inside the situation) But SJWs do rely on general happiness goals in their audience. I do also think a lot of Social Justice thinking started out as a genuine desire to help people and make them happier, regardless of how that goal turned back on itself do to inconsistencies in other places in the philosophy.

I see it as a set of originally well-meant goals that later spiralled into virtue-signalling competition. Now they run on the classical cultish behavioral patterns.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 30 March 2016 02:59:49PM 0 points [-]

There is a simpler and stronger argument to that end from evolution.

Comment author: bogus 01 April 2016 05:38:19AM *  2 points [-]

This is the difference between simple epistemic rationality (having good arguments) and the virtue of actuzlly being a good negotiator (and 'good' encompasses both a narrowly instrumental and an ethical viewpoint, as you've learned. Norms of all sorts and at all scales tend to align incentives - who would've thought!). But to the extent that good negotiation skills lead to good consequences for oneself, being a good negotiator is rational in an instrumental sense. Politics is really just the real-world art of negotiation writ large, so this sort of instrumental rationality (what some people would perhaps call 'the art of the deal') is nearly as important there.

Comment author: Lumifer 31 March 2016 03:18:57PM *  9 points [-]

Here is an interesting personal account of a someone who was a Social Justice Warrior but then escaped (while still remaining a leftist social democrat). Sample:

This particular brand of politics begins with good intentions and noble causes, but metastasizes into a nightmare. In general, the activists involved are the nicest, most conscientious people you could hope to know. But at some point, they took a wrong turn, and their devotion to social justice led them down a dark path. Having been on both sides of the glass, I think I can bring some painful but necessary truth to light. ...

There is something dark and vaguely cultish about this particular brand of politics. I’ve thought a lot about what exactly that is. I’ve pinned down four core features that make it so disturbing: dogmatism, groupthink, a crusader mentality, and anti-intellectualism. I’ll go into detail about each one of these. The following is as much a confession as it is an admonishment. I will not mention a single sin that I have not been fully and damnably guilty of in my time.

P.S. For some comic relief look at the top left corner of the linked webpage. There is what looks to be the paper's byline -- "ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WRONG SINCE 1911" -- and right underneath it there is a more recent notice: "THE MCGILL DAILY IS LOCATED ON UNCEDED KANIEN’KEHÁ:KA TERRITORY".

Comment author: buybuydandavis 03 April 2016 09:21:41AM 0 points [-]

In general, the activists involved are the nicest, most conscientious people you could hope to know. But at some point, they took a wrong turn, and their devotion to social justice led them down a dark path.

Are they still purported to be the "nicest, most conscientious people you could hope to know" after "they took a wrong turn"?

This particular brand of politics begins with good intentions

Does it? What evidence do we have for that?

Comment author: Lumifer 03 April 2016 10:48:17PM 2 points [-]

The link is to an account by an "escapee" from SJ. As such, it's a personal account, it does not claim to be an "objective" or an outside view.

Comment author: gjm 01 April 2016 02:14:10PM 0 points [-]

P.S. For some comic relief [...]

Could you be more explicit about what's funny here?

(I'm pretty sure "Absolutely nothing wrong since 1911" is meant to be funny and is not at all a serious claim to have committed no mistakes or misdeeds in a century.)

Comment author: Lumifer 01 April 2016 02:53:54PM 3 points [-]

Oh dear, explaining jokes...

What I find funny is the juxtaposition of two elements. One element is clearly a playful light-natured wink-wink claim of "Oh, no, we certainly haven't been up to no good, how could you possibly think that". It implies both some misdeeds and not taking oneself very seriously.

The other element is dead serious, expresses guilt and wish for atonement, and would probably find humour on the topic to be inappropriate and in bad taste.

I like how these two elements stand together.

Comment author: gjm 01 April 2016 04:17:54PM 0 points [-]

Oh dear, explaining jokes...

Yeah, I know. Sorry!

playful light-hearted wink-wink [...] dead serious, expresses guilt [...]

Aha, gotcha. My guess at what you had in mind was some way off base. Thanks.

(I happen not to find it so funny, but if there's one thing less fun than explaining a joke it's explaining why a joke doesn't work for you so I'll leave it there :-).)

Comment author: The_Bird 29 March 2016 11:37:38PM 5 points [-]

Changing social conventions has a cost. When we extend social justice beyond respect for difference that people have no choice over, such as race or sex, to roles that they choose, such as religion or gender, the justification for allowing everyone to defy any particular social convention must be a rational cost-benefit assessment. Many people enjoy the ritual interactions specified by social roles; they are part of their identities and one of their terminal values.

Not to mention that many social conventions serve a purpose beyond people enjoying them.

Comment author: Viliam 29 March 2016 08:28:57PM *  36 points [-]

Yeah, it's nice when your opponents volunteer to remove from you the burden of proof whether they are irrational.

But seriously, I don't even know where to start. Perhaps here: Articles written on most popular websites are clickbait. It means that their primary purpose is to make you read the article after seeing the headline, and then share it either because you love it or because you hate it. And that's what you did. Mission accomplished.

Another article on the same website explains why animal rights movements are oppresive. (I am not going to link it, but here are the arguments for the curious readers: because it's wrong to care about animals while there are more important causes on this planet such as people being oppressed; because vegans and vegetarians don't acknowledge that vegan or vegetarian food can be expensive; because describing animals as male and female marginalizes trans people; and because protecting animals is colonialistic against native people who hunt animals as part of their tradition.) Obviously, the whole article is an exercise in making the reader scream and share the article to show other readers how crazy it is. This is exactly what the authors and editors get paid for; this is how you shovel the sweet AdSense money on them. So the only winning move is not to play this game.

.

I may be too extreme in this aspect, but when I talk with most people, I simply assume that almost everything they say is a metaphor for something (usually for their feelings), and almost nothing is to be taken literally. This is a normal way of communication among people who couldn't program a Friendly AI if their very lives depended on it.

When someone says "rationality is bad", the correct translation is probably something like "I hate my father because he criticized me a lot and didn't play with me; and my father believes he is smart, and he makes smartness his applause light; and this is why I hate everything that sounds like smartness". You cannot argue against that. (If you try anyway, the person will not remember any specific thing you said, they will only remember that you are just as horrible person as their father.) This is how people talk. This is how people think. And they understand each other, so when another person who also hates their father hears it, they will get the message, and say something like "yeah, exactly like you said, rationality is stupid". And then they know they can trust each other on the emotional level.

Here is a short dictionary containing the idioms from the article:

  • everydayfeminism.com = "I hate my father"
  • we should abolish prisons, police = "I hate my father"
  • cisheteropatriarchy = "I hate my father; but I also blame my mother for staying with him"
  • those who are committed to social justice = "my friends, who also hate their fathers"
  • we have to stop placing limits on ourselves = "we should steal some money and get high"
  • Being Rational Has No Inherent Value = "I don't even respect my father"
  • my very existence is irrational = "my father disapproves of my lifestyle"
  • The only logical time for abolition and decolonization is now = "I wish I had the courage to tell my parents right now how much I am angry at them"

You are overanalyzing it, searching for a logical structure when there is none. If you treat the article as a free-form poem, you will get much closer to the essence. You don't share the author's emotions, that's why the text rubs you the wrong way.

And by the way, other political groups do similar things, just in a different flavor (and perhaps intensity).

Comment author: Jacobian 30 March 2016 09:18:18PM *  7 points [-]

I simply assume that almost everything they say is a metaphor for something (usually for their feelings).

It has taken me many years to realize that, but the more I look for it the more I notice it. I have a friend on Facebook who's a Syrian living in NYC, she keeps posting things like "Here's the proof Assad is actually a spy planted by the Israeli Mossad to cause genocide in Syria". I kept asking her how she could possibly believe it and got very confusing responses that didn't really address the question. And then it hit me: for her and for many Arabs "X is a Mossad spy" is simply an eloquent way of saying "I hate X", it has literally nothing to do with the Mossad at all. My friend was confused why I even bring facts about the Mossad into a discussion of whether Assad is a Mossad spy.

Viliam gave enough SJ examples, so I'll give one from the other side: there was a campaign by some famous PUA to boycott Mad Max: Fury Road because it's feminist propaganda. Hold on, isn't that the movie where the attractive women in skimpy clothes are called "breeders" whose job is to make babies? And then I realized:

  • For PUAs "X is feminist propaganda" = "I hate X"
  • For some Russians "X is a CIA plot" = "I hate X"
  • For some Evangelical Christians "X is from the Devil" = "I hate X"
  • For some communists "X is capitalist" = "I hate X"
  • For some capitalists "X is communist" = "I hate X"

Etcetera, etcetera.

Comment author: knb 04 April 2016 10:03:15PM 7 points [-]

Viliam gave enough SJ examples, so I'll give one from the other side: there was a campaign by some famous PUA to boycott Mad Max: Fury Road because it's feminist propaganda. Hold on, isn't that the movie where the attractive women in skimpy clothes are called "breeders" whose job is to make babies?

A lot of feminists agreed with the PUAs' assessment of the movie as being pro-feminist. The guy who treated women as breeding stock was the antagonist. You aren't supposed to sympathize with Immortan Joe.

Comment author: The_Jaded_One 21 July 2016 02:04:00PM 1 point [-]

famous PUA to boycott Mad Max: Fury Road because it's feminist propaganda.

I've seen PUA stuff and I've seen the movie. Whilst it's true that the protagonists are mostly female and the bad guy is male, I wouldn't say it's pushing a feminist message. I don't think that the film vilifies men as a whole. I'm much more annoyed about ghostbusters actually.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 09:29:33PM 4 points [-]

for her and for many Arabs "X is a Mossad spy" is simply an eloquent way of saying "I hate X", it has literally nothing to do with the Mossad at all.

Don't forget to notice that this works both ways. Your friend could easily segue into posting things like "Israeli government ordered the genocide in Syria" because hey! Assad is a Mossad agent, everyone know that.

I am not arguing that such statements should be taken literally. I'm arguing that they establish linkages in the minds of the speaker and the listeners and these linkages may well have real-world consequences.

Comment author: Viliam 31 March 2016 09:19:38AM *  13 points [-]

Well, this is exactly the problem. First step is that people say random things just because they reflect the emotions they have at the moment. Second step is that later they sometimes derive logical consequences of what they previously said. Then bad things happen as a result.

Usually there is a boundary; people often have crazy beliefs in far mode, while having quite sensible beliefs in near mode. They can keep talking bullshit as long as it does not concern them directly, but when it becomes personal they can either conveniently forget to apply the bullshit, or have some general excuse such as "but this specific case is different". This can work surprisingly well as long as there is a social norm of not requiring people to actually act on their abstract beliefs.

Nerds usually lack the social skills to follow this strategy (because no one tells them about it explicitly; because applying this strategy to itself means never talking explicitly about it), usually harming themselves as the result, by following the norms that everyone applauds but no one except a few nerds actually follows. Sometimes they harm the others as the result, for example when they take the norm of killing unbelievers literally and become suicidal bombers; while for most of the society the same words in the holy scripture simply mean "boo unbelievers" without any impact on their everyday life.

And then there is the complication that our civilization became too complex and has too many channels where the far-mode beliefs translate into actions without people noticing that the boundary was crossed. For example, a person holding a stupid belief in far mode could never directly act upon the belief, but they might still vote according to the belief -- and then the politician in the office might actually do it.

It is a useful tool of propaganda to channel these emotions into far-mode beliefs that benefit some specific group. For example, any kind of frustration with various failures in coordination problems (what SSC readers would call "Moloch") can be channeled into hate against "Jews" or "capitalism" or "decadent western civilization", which can in turn influence the political orientation of people.

Comment author: Lumifer 31 March 2016 03:03:31PM 5 points [-]

Yep, that's a problem and an additional problem is that this mechanism is often exploited by agitprop and, generally, dark arts at the social scale.

Nerds usually lack the social skills to follow this strategy

I don't think it has anything to do with nerds or social skills. If I had to come up with an expression for what prevents people from applying their abstract beliefs in practice, it would be the trite "common sense" (which, yes, I know, isn't exactly common).

Essentially it's the matter of being able to recognize consequences when they appear in front of your eyes. Most people, thankfully, require a large amount of pushing and shoving to make the transition from "Ethnicity X is bad" to "We will go and set fire to our neighbour's house and throw stones at his children". It's not that avoiding that transition is a social skill, it's more that watching a house burn and children cry has direct emotional impact that you need very high levels of ideological belief to override.

Comment deleted 01 April 2016 02:11:25AM [-]
Comment author: Lumifer 01 April 2016 02:44:45PM 1 point [-]

I believe you meant

Your belief is mistaken.

Comment deleted 01 April 2016 09:21:04PM *  [-]
Comment author: Lumifer 02 April 2016 12:31:05AM 0 points [-]

In that case, you appear to have no idea how most people behave.

I'll take your opinion under consideration.

Well, not really.

the Illiad

Fiction.

Arabian knights

Ain't no such thing.

the bahavior of modern gangs

And what percentage of modern society is a gang member?

Comment deleted 02 April 2016 12:48:59AM [-]
Comment author: cousin_it 30 March 2016 12:07:38PM *  5 points [-]

Harsh but mostly true, I think.

Many social movements base their popularity on texts that are basically free-form poems. Eliezer, Moldbug, Ayn Rand, even the Sermon on the Mount :-)

Comment author: Carinthium 12 November 2016 05:43:27AM 0 points [-]

cousin_it, if you're still paying attention- I'm curious why you think this about Eliezer.

Comment author: TheAncientGeek 12 November 2016 12:33:49PM 1 point [-]

Why Massimo Pigliucci thinks something like that

But then I noticed that the post was a follow up to two more, one entitled “If many-worlds had come first,” the other “The failures of Eld science.” Oh crap, now I had to go back and read those before figuring out what Yudkowsky was up to. (And before you ask, yes, those posts too linked to previous ones, but by then I had had enough.)

Except that that didn’t help either. Both posts are rather bizarre, if somewhat amusing, fictional dialogues, one of which doesn’t even mention the word “Bayes” (the other refers to it tangentially a couple of times), and that certainly constitute no sustained argument at all. (Indeed, “The failures of Eld science” sounds a lot like the sort of narrative you find in Atlas Shrugged, and you know that’s not a compliment coming from me.)

http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/eliezer-yudkowsky-on-bayes-and-science.html

Comment author: Carinthium 13 November 2016 12:37:37AM 1 point [-]

Got it. Thanks.

Comment author: formido 30 March 2016 06:13:07PM *  0 points [-]

...or like women's suffrage or abolition!

Not all poetry is equally valid or has equally defensible aims.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 07:10:34PM 0 points [-]

Not all poetry is equally valid

What does it mean for poetry to be "valid"?

Comment author: The_Bird 29 March 2016 11:28:33PM 1 point [-]

my very existence is irrational = "my father disapproves of my lifestyle"

In fact, one is inclined to suspect that he adopted his lifestyle largely to spite his father.

Comment author: username2 30 March 2016 07:20:47AM 2 points [-]

Welcome back, old friend.

Comment author: Jacobian 29 March 2016 04:13:55PM *  15 points [-]

Phil, I think you're falling into the trap you accuse Pham of: getting confused about words and how people use them. Like you've noticed, Pham doesn't use "rationality" to mean the same thing we do. From the article:

What if those imperialism-driven Europeans, all passionate and roused about Manifest Destiny, were encouraged to stop and reconsider whether their violent plans were rational? We might possibly have a world that isn’t filled to the brim with oppression.

In the article Pham vacillates between using "rational" to mean "reasonably likely to be achieved" and to mean "culturally acceptable". The point of their article is that being told that decolonization is "irrational" (i.e. unlikely to be achieved and/or unpopular) doesn't mean that people shouldn't pursue it as a goal. Let's call these definitions Pham.rationality. They, especially the second one, have very little to do with "representing an accurate picture of reality" or however you want to define LW.rationality.

But it isn't just a sign of how insane the social justice movement is—it has clues to how it got that way. The author came to hate "rationality" because s/he thought "rationality" meant "conventionality".

Let me get this straight: you define Insane = NOT(LW.rationality), see an article that says: SJ = NOT(Pham.rationality), and then happily conclude that SJ = Insane because "rationality".

You could have attacked the article for having an undesirable goal (i.e. abolishing the police). You could have attacked it for jumping between two definitions, and creating a deepity: one interpretation is banal (we should push for decolonialization even if it's unpopular), the other is plain false (we will achieve decolonialization even if it's utterly impossible). You could have attacked the article for incorrect facts, incoherent structure and extremely poor writing. There's enough ammunition there to make whatever denigrating point you want to make about SJ writing.

What you shouldn't get away with is seeing someone else define a word in a confusing/misleading way to make a point and then immediately doing the same thing.

My most charitable interpretation of your post is that you think that:

  • A. Pham is just a stupid person and was thus told by her friends they are irrational (i.e. NOT PhamFriends.rational).
  • B. They have thus decided that being stupid is a virtue.

A is both unfounded speculation and unnecessary ad-hominem, B still fails as a logical argument because Pham doesn't use her friends' definition of rationality in the article.

Phil, I have read a lot of the great stuff that you've posted here on LW, this post does your reputation a disservice.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 29 March 2016 04:20:52PM *  2 points [-]

Criticizing the positions in the article would not be relevant to LessWrong. I posted this here for 2 reasons, and I pointed them both out:

  1. It is of interest to LW as an indicator of the status of, and the level of, "rationality" in the social justice movement. I am always accused of straw-manning SJWs when I recount how they've actually behaved. This is a useful example to point to when accused of straw-manning. The author doesn't understand clearly what "rationality" means, but ze has learned to included under the umbrella of "rationality" everything I would call rationality. Ze is advocating irrational goals such as abolishing prisons and giving the land back to the Indians, and is saying the ze shouldn't defend these goals via rational argument. At this point, ze knows what ze's doing.

  2. It suggests how Pham got zis prejudice against rationality, which I tried to explain, and which you noticed I tried to explain.

So I don't see the problem. But thanks for commenting.

Getting five downvotes on this immediately after posting is bizarre, and I'd appreciate explanations from other people, except most likely they're just part of an anti-PhilGoetz contingent. Without explanation, your downvotes do nothing except further convince me of the LessWrong community's irrationality and/or Machiavellan standards of behavior.

Comment author: Vaniver 29 March 2016 06:36:55PM 5 points [-]

Getting five downvotes on this immediately after posting is bizarre, and I'd appreciate explanations from other people, except most likely they're just part of an anti-PhilGoetz contingent.

I didn't vote, but I considered downvoting because this article was somewhat short, about a touchy subject in a way that seemed unlikely to change minds, and had strange formatting (copied from the original article, probably).

Comment author: Error 29 March 2016 08:54:03PM *  17 points [-]

Getting five downvotes on this immediately after posting is bizarre, and I'd appreciate explanations from other people, except most likely they're just part of an anti-PhilGoetz contingent.

Having successfully asked for similar explanations before, I feel obligated to answer this. I downvoted this post because 1. the topic is known to be heavily mindkilling, 2. the post is devoid of the sort of context that might make it interesting, and 3. the motivation behind the post appeared to stem from a "My political enemies are Wrong on the Internet" mentality. I come here to get away from that sort of thing, not invite it.

Posting in Main did not help, although I think I would have downvoted it anyway.

For context, I don't attach any particular good or bad affect to you as PhilGoetz. I've seen both good and bad posts from you, although perhaps higher variance in that respect than most. This one seemed sufficiently trolly that I considered asking if someone had hijacked your account. It was only after checking your recent post history and noting this that I concluded it was probably legit. That suggests my opinion of you as a poster is considerably higher than my opinion of this specific post.

Also for context, my affect for the tribe you're attacking (or, perhaps, counterattacking) is neutral-to-slightly-negative -- an affect borne of opinions that cancel out rather than a simple lack of same.

Without explanation, your downvotes do nothing except further convince me of the LessWrong community's irrationality and/or Machiavellan standards of behavior.

That is a fact about you, not about the downvotes. If you don't understand the downvotes, by all means ask, but don't follow up with "if you don't answer I'll think bad things about you." That's appealing to exactly the same monkey brain crap that I thought we were trying to outwit, not encourage.

[Edited to add: I should modify complaint #2 above. Your post-downvote addition actually is interesting, although #1 and perhaps #3 would still apply. I'm not revoking the downvote, but you may be able to learn something by comparing that to what came before.]

Comment author: Dagon 29 March 2016 10:49:24PM 5 points [-]

I started to write a rebuttal and explanation of why I don't care to see this on LW, but then gave up and just downvoted. I try not to do so very often, but honestly it's happening more that it used to; I see something useless or irrelevant, and rather than taking the time to say why, I just downvote.

Sorry.

Now that I'm actually writing this, I guess I'll expand on my "useless or irrelevant" claim. I don't think LW is a reasonable community for the discussion of politics or specific in/out group behaviors. It's a fine place to talk about them in the abstract, and using SJ as examples would be fine, but that's not what this is. This is just "here's a group I disagree with, and here's an example of them being dumb".

Comment author: Viliam 29 March 2016 07:30:42PM 5 points [-]

Getting five downvotes on this immediately after posting is bizarre

What's your prior probability for "at least five readers didn't like this article or didn't want to see a political discussion on LW"?

Without explanation, your downvotes do nothing except further convince me of the LessWrong community's irrationality and/or Machiavellan standards of behavior.

Nice try.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 March 2016 04:55:14PM 3 points [-]

Getting five downvotes on this immediately after posting is bizarre

You are surprised? LW automatically downvotes polarizing/uncomfortable content and that goes double for anything that mentions SJWs.

Or, to be a bit more precise, you are allowed here to make people uncomfortable with the scenario of a giant paperclip chasing them. But you are not allowed to make people uncomfortable about their tribal allegiances.

Comment author: Dagon 29 March 2016 10:51:52PM 7 points [-]

You are absolutely allowed to make me uncomfortable about my tribal allegiances. But you must do so by making a point and explaining what conclusions you are drawing from your examples.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 29 March 2016 05:06:09PM *  4 points [-]

I don't think LW is a hotbed of SJW activity. I could be wrong.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 March 2016 05:07:21PM 0 points [-]

Mentioning SJWs is a microaggression and tends to trigger some individuals :-P

Comment author: Jacobian 29 March 2016 05:40:56PM *  3 points [-]

LW automatically downvotes...

I would love to hear the evidence you have to back that very broadstatement. It sounds like you're against doing this yourself, and so am I, and so is Phil. That's 0/3 so far here.

I upvoted Phil's post about word per person and rigor because it was an interesting and novel idea backed by actual research and analysis (whether I agree with it or not). I downvoted this post because it's a trite idea backed by no analysis other than taking word definitions out of context.

If you really feel that LW is now entirely populated by people who wage petty wars over tribal grievances (like 90% of the rest of the internet), then what are you still doing here?

Comment author: Lumifer 29 March 2016 06:00:09PM *  3 points [-]

That's 0/3 so far here

Except for the post itself being -6/+1 at the moment...

LW is now entirely populated by people who wage petty wars over tribal grievances

That's not what I said and adding straw to the discussion does not make it better.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 29 March 2016 06:30:39PM *  1 point [-]

Presenting proof that denouncing reason is acceptable within the social justice community isn't an "idea". It's data. That in itself is worth a post.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 March 2016 06:37:08PM *  1 point [-]

It's data

No, that was a single post/article and so an anecdote or an example. In any case, your conclusion seems obvious and self-evident to me, but we probably have different expectations with respect to SJWs...

Comment author: Brillyant 29 March 2016 06:04:10PM 0 points [-]

the scenario of a giant paperclip chasing them

lol

Comment author: Viliam 29 March 2016 07:33:15PM 0 points [-]

I hope someone will use "trigger warning: Clippy" in one of those articles.

Comment author: Error 29 March 2016 09:35:26PM 1 point [-]

I want an avatar of a smiling paperclip with bloody ends, like it just stabbed someone.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 30 March 2016 06:55:14AM 2 points [-]

Getting five downvotes on this immediately after posting is bizarre

When people arguing with VoiceOfRa got several downvotes in a row, the conclusion drawn was sockpuppets.

So to be fair, lets assume there's an SJW with a sockpuppet army too. Now both sides can claim its just tit-for-tat.

Comment author: JoshuaZ 30 March 2016 04:34:50PM 4 points [-]

When people arguing with VoiceOfRa got several downvotes in a row, the conclusion drawn was sockpuppets.

There was substantially more evidence that VoiceOfRa was downvoting in a retributive fashion, including database evidence.

Comment author: casebash 04 December 2016 08:06:07PM 0 points [-]

I think that you are being extremely generous to the author of the article, which would be a good thing, except that you are being extremely ungenerous to Phil. The most ungenerous part of this comment is when you say that this post does his reputation a disservice. Even if Phil has misunderstood the author, a great deal of the blame has to lie with the author who has written an article that could very easily be understood to be rejecting both kinds of rationality.

Comment author: [deleted] 31 March 2016 02:27:25AM *  3 points [-]

I don't usually upvote top-level discussion posts but I'll lend you one upvote until you break even.

This is an important topic of discussion. I reckon your downvotes are because of your subpar formatting.

Based on my experiences as a marginalized person, being rational just means going easy on my oppressors.

shudders

Comment author: PhilGoetz 31 March 2016 09:14:15PM 2 points [-]

How else would you format it?

Comment author: [deleted] 01 April 2016 12:56:50AM 1 point [-]

Have less big font quotes. Unless, like I sometimes do, you're intentionally trying to filter out people from your audience without the patience to search for meaning in discordant font sizes in order to maximise the quality of your responses.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 01 April 2016 02:15:06AM *  1 point [-]

I don't see any big font quotes. You must have different fonts.

I really wish the LW editor would strip font specifications out of the HTML when I do a paste into its editor. It's a huge pain in the ass to remove them from the HTML by hand.

I used vim to remove the remaining font specifications just now.

Comment author: TomM 01 April 2016 04:42:56AM *  6 points [-]

I think it is worth pointing out that the article selected for 'review' is not entirely typical of the site (most articles seem to discuss lived experience, activism activities and how to get by in unfriendly circumstances rather than philosophy or logic per se).

Additionally, the Facebook thread for the article has a lot of discussion, dominated (in my view) by self-described "SJW"s who had big problems with the anti-rationality stance of the article and made strong arguments in favour of logic and reason.

This article show that the bias of some SJWs against reason is impossible to strawman.

The emphasis is mine.

I think PhilGoetz does not strawman the author of the reviewed article, but by going on to say:

But it isn't just a sign of how irrational the social justice movement is...

does strawman the social justice movement as a whole.

Note: Edited in the first couple of minutes to fix formatting problems.

Comment author: skeptical_lurker 30 March 2016 07:19:49AM 7 points [-]

I've heard everydayfeminism.com mentioned before, and I think its meant to be a more mainstream feminist site - thus the name.

(The link from "decolonization" is to "Decolonization is not a metaphor", to make it clear s/he means actually giving the land back to the Native Americans.)

And they are arguing for ethnic cleansing.

I think it is interesting that what we call the far-right and the mainstream(ish) left are using almost isomorphic (meaning structurally identical) arguments. I've met people openly advocating for Maoist revolution (presumably armed, violent revolution) as an official university society. This normalisation of left extremism is starting to worry me.

Comment author: Viliam 30 March 2016 08:17:51AM *  4 points [-]

And they are arguing for ethnic cleansing.

There is probably some clever "ethnic cleansing = ethnic cleansing plus privilege" argument that makes it okay. :(

I think it is interesting that what we call the far-right and the mainstream(ish) left are using almost isomorphic (meaning structurally identical) arguments.

This is called "horseshoe theory". I suspect the reason behind this observation is that there are some psychological traits that make people enjoy extreme versions of political opinions, regardless of the political direction, so all extremes will be inhabited by people who are psychologically similar to each other; and then they will converge on similar ideas about what should be done.

Alternatively, this is simply our corrupted hardware which is programmed by evolution to manifest in situations where we have sufficient political power. But because the society today is much larger than in our ancestral environment, this behavior may appear prematurely -- when we are surrounded by a group of fellow believers sufficiently large than in the ancient tribe of 150 members they would be a knockdown force. Then we suddenly realize that the best course of action would be to kill our opponents and threaten all neutrals into submission.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 03:01:59PM 3 points [-]

The horseshoe theory (also known by a variety of other names) can be explained simpler by pointing out that some people are really interested in power and both extreme left and extreme right share that interest.

If you arrange political movements by their degree of statism, for example, you'll find anarcho-libertarians on one end and both communists and nazis bunched up on the other end.

Comment author: cousin_it 30 March 2016 12:15:58PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, I like horseshoe theory too. Like most good ideas, it isn't new. It's a rediscovery of Voegelin's "political religions", Eric Hoffer's "mass movements", etc. You can probably find it in Plato if you dig hard enough.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 03:06:07PM *  1 point [-]

its meant to be a more mainstream feminist site

X-0 Out of morbid curiosity, any links to SJ sites which do not strive to be mainstream and where SJWs can say what they really think?

And they are arguing for ethnic cleansing.

The world needs a final solution to cleanse it of the parasitic plague of white cis het men!

Comment author: gwillen 30 March 2016 06:41:14AM *  7 points [-]

I would just like to note / point out that "SJW" is not a particularly neutral way to refer to the group of people in question -- it smuggles in (at least for some readers, and I suspect for most) a distinctly negative connotation about the group described.

Obviously if that's your intention, then by all means use the language you prefer; but if some of the commenters didn't mean it that way, and are just trying neutrally discuss a movement, I'd encourage picking a different term for it. (I normally say "the social justice movement".)

I will borrow from Error's very apt disclaimer in another comment, and note that my feelings toward the movement in question are more or less neutral -- "an affect borne of opinions that cancel out rather than a simple lack of same."

Comment author: Ixiel 01 April 2016 11:06:06AM *  4 points [-]

Really? I thought it was a self-identified term trying to smuggle in positive connotations, at least among the ingroup. I mean, justice is good, right, and who doesn't want to be a warrior... I don't really know any of those people so I defer, but I tend to prefer the overlapping (but not identical) term "Bigoteer" to strip "SJW"'s -positive- connotation, though the fact I have never wanted to keep a positive connotation exposes my bias.

Comment author: LazyDave 13 November 2016 05:35:03PM 1 point [-]

I'm not sure about its origins, but in the MSM I've only seen the term described as something members of the "alt-right" use to describe the group in question (obviously in a pejorative way), so generally when I use the term I enclose it in scare quotes (as I evidently do with "alt-right" for some reason), as I do not want to improperly signal that I hold certain beliefs.

Comment author: gwillen 03 April 2016 07:34:08AM 1 point [-]

Hmm, I'd previously thought it was always a pejorative term; now (after checking out Wikipedia) I have the impression that it was originally a positive self-identification, now primarily pejorative in modern usage. So I don't really know what to think about it it anymore.

Comment author: Articulator 11 April 2016 07:26:18AM 1 point [-]

They've done a really good job of making it a pejorative. Anything's a slur if you hate them enough.

Comment author: Will_BC 30 March 2016 02:25:25PM 7 points [-]

Perhaps that connotation is because of the group in question? I dislike playing word games, the words we use should be interchangeable if they refer to the exact same thing. It's kind of like how we went from Negroes to Black to African Americans in an attempt to combat racism, but the racism was the problem, not bad words, and it only gets confusing when you word police. I was talking to some social justice types before the term was used in a derogatory way online and they described themselves that way, and the first place I saw it online was as a self-description of those groups. Words get loaded with bad affect because people have negative thoughts about the thing being referred to. I think any decision to use a new word that predates changing the thing to which we are referring is premature.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 03:07:37PM 8 points [-]

Words get loaded with bad affect because people have negative thoughts about the thing being referred to.

Or, y'know, because people who call themselves these words do bad things.

Comment author: Will_BC 30 March 2016 04:11:07PM 2 points [-]

I was trying not to kick the bees nest too hard, but I agree with you, doing bad things does tend to make people think bad things about you.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 30 March 2016 03:11:35PM 5 points [-]

Someone told me yesterday that airline stewards don't want to be called stewards anymore; they want to be called, I think, flight attendants. The funny thing is that "steward" used to mean a very high-ranking individual, the person who ran a great lord's estate. The airline industry used it for their stewardesses to artificially inflate their status. Over time, the role, at least in the opinion of flight attendants, degraded the word, until they didn't want it anymore.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 03:27:31PM 4 points [-]

The thing is, there used to be very few airline stewards but a lot of stewardesses. Back in those ancient days when jet travel was an upper-class thing the airline stewardesses were supposed to be pretty girls. And no, I don't think the word "stewardess" implied any high status. Great lord's estate or no, a steward is still a servant (Gondor notwithstanding).

The change to "flight attendant", IMHO, was done to eliminate the gender reference.

Comment author: LazyDave 13 November 2016 06:02:58PM 1 point [-]

Wow, I find that really surprising; I am hardly in tune with the "proper" terms one should use these days, but the flight attendant thing has been second nature to me for at least 10 years, and thought it was for everybody. I'd be really curious as to why you only became aware of it recently; do you not fly very often? I want to stress that I am not criticizing you or anything, my curiosity is just piqued.

Comment author: LazyDave 13 November 2016 05:56:16PM 0 points [-]

Yeah, I've noticed that when the word used for something is intentionally changed, oftentimes it is because the thing being referred to is viewed negatively by many. In addition, once the new word has widespread adoption, use of the old word is a signal that you indeed do view what it refers to negatively. A recent example is some politician who talked about what the NAACP should do if they wanted to help "colored" people; it was widely derided as a racist statement, even though he was simply expanding part of the acronym of the organization he was referring to. Similarly, afaik the word "retarded" was not considered pejorative back when it was in common use (nor was "idiot" a long time before that). The fact that "black" is still perfectly acceptable even after the introduction of "African American" gives me hope that there is a recognition that race relations are markedly improved.

Comment author: PhilGoetz 30 March 2016 02:56:19PM *  1 point [-]

How about SJM? I want a noun, not a long noun phrase.

Why did the description change from "civil rights" to "social justice"?

Comment author: 27chaos 12 April 2016 10:22:45AM 2 points [-]

Social justice is about culture, not just legal rights.

Comment author: ChristianKl 12 April 2016 01:46:16PM 0 points [-]

It's the change from second wave feminism to third wave feminism.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 03:10:13PM -2 points [-]

How about SJM?

Single Jewish Male

X-D

Comment author: The_Jaded_One 29 March 2016 08:36:13PM 4 points [-]

should abolish prisons, police, and the American settler state

Maybe they should just create an SJW state somewhere, with no prisons, police, cishet males or white cis females? I'm all for empiricism on this one! I'm sure it'd be a world renowned centre of excellence for postmodernism and gender studies, as well as being economically vibrant and politically stable.

Comment author: Lumifer 29 March 2016 08:45:43PM 5 points [-]

no prisons, police, cishet males or white cis females?

No gay men either, they are insufficiently oppressed.

Comment author: The_Jaded_One 30 March 2016 02:14:26AM 2 points [-]

oops sorry I should have checked my privilege, yes homosexual cis males will be cast out of SJWtopia too.

Comment author: [deleted] 04 April 2016 06:24:41PM 2 points [-]

Hi. LessWrong purports to be about decision theory, cognitive psychology, behavioral economics, and a whole hell of a lot of Bayesian statistics. It also purports to have a policy that "Politics is the Mind-Killer".

Since this post does not belong to any of the normal LW topics, and appears very very angry in a distinctly mind-killy way, I'm downvoting it.

It would perhaps be considered appropriate content on Rationalist Tumblr or /r/slatestarcodex. Enjoy your flame-war -- somewhere else.

Comment author: kilobug 30 March 2016 03:49:03PM 2 points [-]

First, "Social justice" is a broad and very diverse movement of people wanting to reduce the amount of (real or perceived) injustice people face for a variety of reasons (skin color, gender, sexual orientation, place of birth, economical position, disability, ...). Like in any such broad political movement, subparts of the movement are less rational than others.

Overall, "social justice" is still mostly a force of reason and rationality against the most frequent and pervasive forms of irrationality in society, which are mostly religion-based, but yes it varies from subparts of the movement. It is, historically, a byproduct of the Enlightenment after all.

That said, there are several levels of "rationality" and "rationalism", and it might be very rational to make irrational demands.

When you make demands in social and political context, you know your demands will usually not be completely fulfilled. Asking for something "impossible" may be the best way, from a game theoretical point of view, to end up with having something not too far from what you really want - the same way that when you're bargaining the price of an item in an informal market (like in latam or maghreb).

It can also be a powerful way to make people think about a question in novel ways and try to find alternative solutions which aren't part of the hypothesis space they usually wander. "Abolish prisons" may seem an irrational demand, and it's very likely that something "like prison" will be required for a few very dangerous individuals, but it can make people think about possible alternatives to prison, something they don't usually do, and which could very well be used for 90% or even perhaps 99% of people currently in prison.

Of course, making "irrational" demands can also be counterproductive, it can discredit the movement, may you appear to be a lunatic, ... but it's a powerful tool to have in your toolbox when you rationally pursue some deep changes in society.

Comment author: Lumifer 30 March 2016 03:57:21PM *  11 points [-]

Overall, "social justice" is still mostly a force of reason and rationality against the most frequent and pervasive forms of irrationality in society

Citation needed.

it might be very rational to make irrational demands

This is true. But then are you claiming that the irrational demands we are discussing in this thread are the result of such gaming of negotiations or dark-arting of the memesphere?

Comment author: The_Jaded_One 30 March 2016 06:09:03PM 4 points [-]

Overall, "social justice" is still mostly a force of reason and rationality

Are you living in the same universe as me or have the LW admins enabled some kind of cross-branch commenting capability and you're here from an alternate reality?

Comment author: bogus 01 April 2016 05:16:36AM 1 point [-]

It is, historically, a byproduct of the Enlightenment after all.

True, inasmuch as almost all modern worldviews may be called 'a byproduct of the Enlightenment'. It certainly applies to Marxism, which SJ is a fairly direct successor of.

Comment author: WalterL 16 June 2016 01:53:44AM 1 point [-]

Meta-comment here. Fighting about Social Justice is just about the least Less Wrong thing I can think of. But on the other hand this post has a billion comments at a time when Less Wrong is kind of dying.

Any port in a storm?

Comment author: buybuydandavis 03 April 2016 09:00:27AM 1 point [-]

ADDED, since I'm 50 karma in the hole anyway:

In for a dime, in for a dollar!

Comment author: [deleted] 30 March 2016 09:35:27PM 1 point [-]

By implication, m most compelling argument is violence.

Comment author: Viliam 31 March 2016 10:02:42AM 0 points [-]

The usual problem with violence is that when you start using it, others may reciprocate. And then suddenly things stop being so funny.

Comment author: [deleted] 01 April 2016 12:41:14AM *  -1 points [-]
  • The usual problem with communication is that when you start using it, others may reciprocate. And then suddenly things stop being so funny.

  • The usual problem with satire is that when you start using it, others may reciprocate. And then suddenly things stop being so funny.

  • The usual problem with identifying usual problems is that when you start using it, others may reciprocate. And then suddenly things stop being so funny.

Comment author: Viliam 01 April 2016 09:18:05AM *  1 point [-]

Yeah, the point was that most people really dislike the idea of violence used against them. Especially those who write long texts complaining about "microaggressions". Yet, it's as if they somehow fail to realize that the easiest way to invite violence on themselves is to promote social norms that encourage violence (of course only against the other side, but this is the part that can easily get out of control).

Comment author: bogus 01 April 2016 05:13:07AM 0 points [-]

It's no coincidence that, according to the forerunner of 'social justice' activists, 'power flows from the barrel of a gun'. But then we don't like guns these days; they've become uncool, I guess.

Comment author: LessWrong 31 March 2016 06:05:54AM -1 points [-]

What does social justice even stand for these days? It sounds like a noble cause but it's also somewhat unrefined.

Comment author: bogus 01 April 2016 05:10:57AM *  6 points [-]

What does social justice even stand for these days?

I like to think of it as the newest incarnation of Mao Zedong Thought. Complete with grandiose claims about 'bourgeois privilege'; demands for an actively enforced 'Great Cultural Revolution' sweeping away all that's old and encrusted with so much bias and oppression; and a deeply puzzling attitude of almost complete fascination with the 'movement' by some portions of Western academia. (Remember, Pol Pot actually studied in freakin' Paris!)

Comment author: Viliam 01 April 2016 09:26:34AM *  4 points [-]

Maybe except that there is less emphasis on economical privilege, because... surprise, surprise... it costs a lot of money to get education in "oppression studies" at an expensive university, and also people with connections are more welcome in media.

This is why using a wrong pronoun is a supreme evil, but someone starving to death is just "meh". Okay, that's a bit exaggerated, but the idea is that only the bad things that can also happen to rich people are considered real problems. For example, a rich black person can still be a target of racism, which is why there is an emphasis on racism; but a rich person is unlikely to starve, which is why there is no emphasis on starvation.

Comment author: gjm 01 April 2016 02:05:32PM 1 point [-]

This does not seem to me like an accurate description of the thinking of the people I know who are "social justice" types. They tend to make a big deal of economic privilege and oppression. Contra bogus, though, although they certainly tend to be leftist there's nothing particularly Maoist about them.

There may of course be a substantial difference between people writing about "social justice" in the media, and random individuals who consider themselves part of the social justice movement.

Comment author: Viliam 01 April 2016 09:55:48PM *  5 points [-]

Imagine a poor cishet white man. In Marxism, he would be among the archetypal examples of the oppressed. In Maoism... well, I am not very familiar with Maoism. But in SJW-ism, he would be considered a privileged oppressor.

When I see SJWs mentioning poverty, as far as I remember, the poverty is always framed as something that happens to women or black people or trans people etc. Like it is just another injustice that happens to people who are already disadvantaged along some of the recognized axes. Instead of being a standalone axis, a cause of disadvantage. (In other words, it is never "poor people have it bad", but it could be "women have it bad, especially poor women" etc.)

You are allowed to complain that there are too many male CEOs. You are allowed to complain that women only make <insert random number> cents for each dollar men make. But you should never compare a poor man with a rich woman (unless your point is that the poor man is still more privileged).

Comment author: gjm 02 April 2016 09:53:02AM 1 point [-]

In Marxism [...] In Maoism [...]

I also know about Maoism only what I find on the internet. And what I find on the internet doesn't indicate to me that Maoists were dramatically less concerned about economic (in)justice than other Marxists, and certainly doesn't suggest any particular similarity between "social justice" and Maoism. The most distinctive social preference of the Maoists seems to have been for rural agrarians over urban intellectuals, which really doesn't seem to line up with anything in present-day "social justice". It's true that Mao said that women should be treated equally with men, but that's hardly unique to Maoism.

I just had a look back at posts from the two SJWiest people I'm friends with on Facebook, and it looks to me as if their look-at-these-oppressed-people comments cover (e.g.) women, gay people, trans people, poor people, people in poor countries, people whose religion others around them don't like. So no, they aren't cookie-cutter Marxists, but I don't see that they're any more Maoists than they are Marxists.

(And honestly, this whole discussion seems rather odd to me. "Social justice is just warmed-over Maoism!" "Really? Show me how it's Maoist." "Well, look, here's a way in which it isn't typical of Marxism." Huh?)

Comment author: bogus 02 April 2016 12:14:14PM *  3 points [-]

and certainly doesn't suggest any particular similarity between "social justice" and Maoism.

Look, not only are there basic similarities (For instance, Maoism was the first variety of Marxism to really put cultural concerns at the forefront. People dispute whether 'cultural Marxism' is actually a thing and I think you can argue this either way, but there's no disputing that the 'Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution' really was called that and that Mao argued for it on Marxist grounds) but there is in fact a clear cultural lineage from Maoism to student movements in Western Europe starting from the late 1960s and extending into the 1970s and 1980s, to modern 'Social Justice'-ish theorizing as that generation gradually rose up the academic totem pole. It's not something that there's serious controversy about.

Comment author: gjm 03 April 2016 04:46:45PM 1 point [-]

not only are there basic similarities

The example you give is that Maoism made a big deal of "cultural concerns". I find this less than convincing. Not least because Maoism's cultural concerns do not seem to have been at all the same as those of "social justice". E.g., the avowed aim of that "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution" appears to have been to purge China of capitalism and to put Mao loyalists in charge. Its famous Sixteen Points don't say anything about any of the themes that dominate "social justice" discourse -- sexism, racism, etc.

It's not something that there's serious controversy about.

You started off with "I like to think of it as ...". Now apparently it's the expert consensus. Can you tell me where to find evidence of this consensus? I'd have thought, e.g., that if it were uncontroversial that present-day "social justice" is basically a variety of Maoism then something like Wikipedia's article on social justice would at least mention Mao somewhere. It doesn't. (It does mention Marx, but only in the specific context of "liberation theology".)

Comment author: bogus 03 April 2016 08:34:58PM 0 points [-]

Now apparently it's the expert consensus. ... I'd have thought, e.g., that if it were uncontroversial that present-day "social justice" is basically a variety of Maoism then something like Wikipedia's article on social justice would at least mention Mao somewhere.

Wikipedia has a neutrality policy, so they're not going to say "SJ is just warmed-over Maoism" or anything like that. But, again, it's simply not controversial that student protest movements starting in the late 1960s looked up to Maoism as a sort of utopia and were heavily influenced by it. And it's not even under dispute that, in many ways, current "social justice" theorizing and practices are rooted in the attitudes of these same social movements. These assertions may not be mentioned in Wiki, but they're common knowledge among people who are reasonably informed about such things; and sources to this effect could be found quite easily, e.g. by perusing these movements' printed or otherwise preserved output.

Comment author: gjm 03 April 2016 10:03:58PM 4 points [-]

they're not going to say "SJ is just warmed-over Maoism"

No, but they might reasonably be expected to say something like "It is widely agreed that the history of the social justice movement can be traced back to a Maoist movement among students in the United States in the late 1960s" or something of the kind. If that's true, that is.

it's simply not controversial that student protest movements starting in the late 1960s looked up to Maoism as a sort of utopia

If you mean that some student protest movements did, I bet you're right. If you mean that most or all did, I bet you're wrong. If you mean that some, including in particular ones that are responsible for the present state of the social justice movement did, then I'm afraid I'm going to repeat my request for some actual evidence that it isn't controversial.

(For the avoidance of doubt: I am not saying you're wrong. I am saying I don't know enough about the relevant history to know whether you're right or not, and that merely telling me repeatedly that what you're saying is uncontroversial doesn't convince me.)

sources to this effect could be found quite easily

Let's just be clear about what claim it is you originally made:

I like to think of [present-day "social justice"] as the newest incarnation of Mao Zedong Thought.

So far, what you've offered in support of this is:

  • Pol Pot studied in Paris.
  • Maoism was concerned with culture, and "social justice" is about culture.
  • Maoism and "social justice" both complain about "bourgeois privilege".
  • Maoism and "social justice" both want to sweep away things that are old and encrusted with bias and oppression.
  • (Some?) student protest movements in the late 1960s admired Maoist China.
  • There is some as-yet-unspecified link between these movements and present-day "social justice".

This seems to me to fall outrageously short of saying that present-day "social justice" is an incarnation of Maoism. And many of these claims seem very doubtful in themselves. E.g., "bourgeois privilege": so far as I can tell, the Maoists weren't much interested in the sort of "privilege" social justice folks complain about, and the social justice folks aren't much concerned with bourgeoisie versus proletariat (or versus any other particular group). There just isn't much actual similarity there.

Comment author: Lumifer 02 April 2016 12:36:55AM 1 point [-]

Imagine a poor cishet white man

The kismet of a cishet...

Comment author: gjm 01 April 2016 01:45:40PM 1 point [-]

Do you have evidence showing an actual line of descent from Maoism to "social justice", or is this just conjecture?

According to Wikipedia (which is always right, except when it's wrong) the term was first used (with something resembling its modern meaning) by a Jesuit priest and its history continues with the likes of Louis Brandeis and John Rawls. And that history -- which is clearly not Maoist in any useful sense -- seems to me like a more obvious antecedent to today's social justice movement than Maoism does. Even if Pol Pot studied in Paris.

(Perhaps I'm taking you too literally and "is the newest incarnation of Mao Zedong Thought" just means "is kinda leftist and boooo, I hate it"?)

Comment author: Viliam 01 April 2016 10:07:46PM 4 points [-]

There seem to be similarities in behavior to the "Cultural Revolution", such as rebelling at universities, and requiring teachers and classmates to toe the line or publicly apologize and/or get fired, etc. (I don't know if the similarities are sufficient, or if this is more or less a standard pattern for every political movement.)

Comment deleted 02 April 2016 12:51:37AM [-]
Comment author: Viliam 02 April 2016 08:24:19PM *  2 points [-]

Cultural Revolution = SJWs + "Lord of the Flies"

Imagine the current student protests, except that they would happen during a revolution, so instead of getting teachers fired you could simply hang them and no one outside the school would really care. The accounts of Cultural Revolution that I have read were pretty much this.

Cultural revolutionaries had the options that SJWs currently don't have. (Similarly how current neo-Nazis don't put people into gas chambers, because they don't live in an environment where they would be allowed to build the gas chambers. That doesn't make them mentally different.)

Comment author: gjm 02 April 2016 10:03:17AM 0 points [-]

I don't know about every political movement, but it's certainly a thing that happens a lot; see e.g. the list at the end of Wikipedia's article on student protests. You'll notice that there's quite a variety of causes there, enough so that from "Maoism and X both had rebellions at universities" I don't think you can infer any interesting similarities between X and Maoism.

Comment author: Lumifer 01 April 2016 03:12:02PM *  1 point [-]

SJ had multiple influences of course, the existence of one line of descent (e.g. Rawls) does not invalidate other ancestors.

Comment author: gjm 01 April 2016 04:04:42PM 3 points [-]

For sure. Which is why, having observed one obvious non-Maoist line of descent, I'm asking "any evidence for the Maoism thing?" rather than saying "you're obviously wrong about the Maoism thing".

Comment author: Alia1d 01 April 2016 01:42:01PM 0 points [-]

Keeping in mind that I'm not part of the group and might even be cynical about them, here is my definition of Social Justice Activism:

The idea that everyone should be equal in the social sphere, That everyone should have equal access to being cool, to being popular, to being the center of attention, to feeling liked, to feeling part of any group they want to belong to, to being liked by anyone else, to feeling comfortable and at ease in any situation. That everyone should be welcomed and accepted into any group they encounter, regardless of their race, gender, or any permeate aspect or demographic characteristic. Imagine a nice middle class kindergarten class were if a child comes to the teacher and says “I am sad, no one will play with me,” the teacher takes that child to a group and instructs them to include the lonely child. If someone’s feelings are hurt the teacher will go to the other student and explain that stupid, ugly, or scardy-cat are “just not words we use” and extract an apology. This is a sort of Social Justice Utopia were everyone is included, everyone is required to be nice, and no-one is allowed to hurt anyone else’s feelings. I can see how this would seem like a nice, safe society you would want to be part of, especially if you think that other people get to experience this sort of world as adults and you are being unfairly excluded because of the color of your skin or something else you can't help. There is awareness that just going up to someone and demanding that they like you and/or your friend doesn’t work. But so many things from networking to find a job to getting peer awards can depend on social standing and whether people you meet like you and whether you feel comfortable and relaxed with them. So there is a feeling that anyone with any sort of authority or influences in a business, organization or semi-formal group (or even just officially sanctioned membership) needs to at least act like they like everyone ( at least individuals that might potentially be discriminated against) and behaves in ways that make them feel comfortable and welcome. And that the business or group as a duty to punish or expel anyone who doesn’t do this. The idea is especially relevant to college campuses were much social activity is at least some what connected to official groups that could in theory take the role of the kindergarten teacher.

Comment author: Lumifer 01 April 2016 03:10:19PM 11 points [-]

The idea that everyone should be equal in the social sphere

Only eventually. In the meantime, right now, because there are terrible oppressive structures in place, SJ wants explicitly to take power away from some social groups and give it to other social groups. The goal is not NOT equality now, the goal is to create inequality which will compensate for the oppression and, to some extent, balance it.

Look at the lists of demands made by SJ students at colleges (Missouri, Yale, etc.). They don't want to be race-blind, for example. They want to be very very race-conscious to, um, hand-correct for oppression. They want racially segregated housing, FFS.

And, of course, everyone is to be equal except for the enemy which must be cast out and stoned.