What is wrong with social justice warriors?

Curious if you’ve read this (has a PDF link):

Is this paper bad? If it is bad, what is bad about it? How would you describe “what is bad about it” in a way that would connect to a college freshman who finds his/her economics and critical race theory classes to be equally interesting and deserving of further study? This extends to broader questions about “what precisely is undesirable about the state of social-justice-oriented academic study?” I have seen a lot of backhanded stuff from you on this topic, but not a centrally articulated, earnest answer.

That is from my email, and I would broaden the question to be about social justice warriors more generally.  Most of all, I would say I am all for social justice warriors!  Properly construed, that is.  But two points must be made:

1. Many of the people who are called social justice warriors I would not put in charge of a candy shop, much less trust them to lead the next jihad.

2. Many social justice warriors seem more concerned with tearing down, blacklisting, and deplatforming others, or even just whining about them, rather than working hard to actually boost social justice, whatever you might take that to mean.  Most of that struggle requires building things in a positive way, I am sorry to say.

That all said, do not waste too much of your own energies countering the not-so-helpful class of social justice warriors.  It is not worth it.  Perhaps someone needs to play such a role, but surely those neuterers are not, or at least should not be, the most talented amongst us.

No matter what your exact view of the world, or what kind of ornery pessimist or determinist or conservative or even reactionary you may be, you should want to be working toward some kind of emancipation in the world.  No, I am not saying there always is a clear “emancipatory” side of a debate, or that most issues are “us vs. them.”  Rather, if you are not sure you are doing the right thing, ask a simple question: am I building something?  Whether it be a structure, an institution, or simply a positive idea, proposal, or method.

The answer to that building question may not always be obvious, but it stands a pretty good chance of getting you to an even better question for your next round of inquiry.


SJWs ruin everything, specifically the Ghost Busters movie.

I couldn’t agree with you more, Tyler.

P.S. you’re interview with Dave Rubin gave me hope, and I do hope you’re right that the future seems to be getting better.

SJWs actually make everything better. Creative destruction. You should read up on it some time.

I did scan read the link and imagined myself in the situation at the start of the article where a group of white workers are being lectured to: "We are facing a group of white people who are seated in front of us. We are in their workplace, and have been hired by their employer to lead them in a dialogue about race. The room is filled with tension and charged with hostility." Yes, I would have been hostile at having a couple of people forcing their beliefs down my throat, independent of those beliefs.

At a national meeting, I was talking to a very long time friend from grad student day who is now a tenured professor at a Midwest state university. He was one of the most creative people in our field and one of the few that I have respect for (I have borrowed a lot of his ideas and concepts over the decades). He was telling me how he and the fellow professors were required to participate in Diversity and Inclusiveness training trying to civilize a bunch of STEM type people. After about half an hours of listening to this SJW nonsense, he got up and left and when challenged he said he didn't have time for this BS and walked out.

His reaction probably would have been viewed by SJW types as "White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes, intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. " when the reality is that he "doesn't suffer fools gladly" and they sounded like fools. He, like myself, value the quality of the character and thinking and despise sloppy thinking.

The thinking of the SJW types seems to be circular with little connection to reality. It makes me think of the religious nuts who think the earth is only 7,000 years old and that they are not primates. Their circular reasoning is equally impervious to observation while being absolutely true in their minds.

What scares me is how this SJW thinking is evolving into a religious belief with religious police now forcing it upon the STEM areas where we need absolute brilliance and merit to succeed, not their silly beliefs.

I am all for creative destruction, but creative must be creative not just the destructive power from "true believer". If one of the SJWs wants to do what I do, fine. However, they will have to have the knowledge and understanding of highly technical areas and mathematics to my level. Noting that most of them can fix their own toilet, let alone write and solve a differential equation describing the dynamics of said toilet, I am not woried. They don't understand that power is related to competence.

I might be able to solve the differential equation. I definitely wouldn't be able to fix the toilet.

I don’t think I understand how SJWs ruined Ghostbusters... seems like there is a good joke awaiting but I don’t get it.

In any case, I also agree with TC here. The problem with SJWs generally is that their focus is many times in the wrong place. Their efforts are focused on pointing out the splinters in other people’s eyes rather than on the planks in their own. That is not to say that SJWs like MLK are not valuable and useful... it’s just that the current SJWs seem to have forgotten that successful SJWs pay a price (self-sacrifice). When they are not paying a price, they ought examine themselves and their motives. Am I just virtue signaling... is this about me and how I am so superior to you and your bigotry? Am I praying on the street corner so that people will see me? Am i doing this to feed my ego? When I give, do I sound a trumpet so that others will see my giving?

There is a role for SJWs, and I am all for them too (when properly construed)... but for most of us... if we want to change the world... then we should go home and love our families.

In America the SJW are the brown shirts of the left. They intimidate, divide and spread violence. They are with few exceptions openly fascist.

Exactly right. Tyler's comment is basically there are no true Scotsman.

He likes social justice warriors he just doesn't like the ones that act like social justice warriors

Wow, that didn't take long...

I think the joke with the Ghostbusters movie is due to the new "all female" version of it.

Of course it is, which is dumb because if you have a problem with the new one you can just not watch it. This is kind of what Cowen was alluding to above, if SJWs must be confronted and debated, is it a good use of anyone's time to break bad because they made a new version of a movie? Is that really the problem with SJWs? Is Matt McAlexander just the other team's version of the internet warrior who types opinions that don't matter or mean anything or advance the discussion?

Yeah the “backlash” to the movie and the blind defense of it by the other side is one of the dumber things to happen in the 21st century.

"if you have a problem with the new one you can just not watch it. "

That was surely the most common reaction.

Indeed, and yet Matt couldn't just stop there.

If you dont like NSDAP conventions, just dont go.

If you disagree with anti-semites, just ignore them.

If you think fracking is wrong, just look the other way.

You think those have anything to do with seeing or not seeing a movie? LOL

Can anyone name a SJW? I can name white supremacists, muslim terrorists, and other problem groups but I cannot recall an actual in the flesh SJW. I'm more concerned that we are inventing a boogeyman to attack like old superstitious villages with the annual stoning of the devil reenactments. I'm not a PC person myself but I'm also looking to stay out of the next wave of politically driven mass hysteria.

For an obvious example, see here:


Wow, I triggered everyone with a couple sentences, a bad joke, and a compliment. Cool.

...."lead the next Jihad." Poor choice of words. "lead the next crusade" would be equally poor. May be lead the next stuggle for a marginally better world?

Well, small steps is what this web site believes in, if its title is to be believed.

They can't figure out which latrine to use. How can they lead the next revolution (preferable to 'crusade' and 'jihad')?

Okay, that was a pretty funny reality check.

Good thing Texas and North Carolina have laws telling everyone how to use the bathroom. Small government at its finest.

Either would actually be a great choice of words, given the fervor of SJWs in spreading their religion, cutting down apostates and blasphemers, and forcing conversion "or else."

I think the quasi-religious fervour of the SJWs is one of their defining features.

Pace Peterson, it is clear that the withdrawal of religious meaning leaves huge holes in many people's lives. There is a terrible hollow and neediness for fulfilment in many of the SJWs. We're more evolved for belief than we would like to think.

Everybody worships.

Speaking of Peterson, he just got disinvited to speak at Cambridge.

When will this guy just go away amirite?

Honestly, what is this guy's obsession with SJWs?


I have been trying my best to be over Peterson, but ..

Can't you see his gig, which you are drafted for, is to make himself a opposite world SJW drama queen?

He plays the one foot in, one foot out, game and gets called on it. That's all.


It's a horrible thing to say about a person, but you are beyond help.

In the spirit of this post, I pledge to spend zero brain cells on you in the future. Happy trails.

Hey, I linked to the Petersonite discussion itself. If you ask me, the most damning bit was this:

"Part of the VIP package (which costs $150 or something like that) is that you also get a picture with JBP."

You should recognize that Cambridge might not trust grifters as "public intellectuals."

The hype about Peterson on the right is overshadowed only by the anti-Peterson hysteria on the left.

AFAIK only one of these sides is adamant about shutting down speech.

I agree, but I also think Peterson is conscious in making it about him. It's what makes the YouTube subscriptions and $150 fan photos roll in.

By the way, Nunes' lawsuit is a wonderful example of right wing confusion on tech and free speech.

We must be heard!

We must silence the cow!

Nunes should be mocked relentlessly and the lawsuit should be thrown out with prejudice.

Great example of the Streisand effect btw.

I don't know the scorecard for the current century, but in the previous, the historical record of "who Cambridge trusted" is not an entirely flattering one.

Sure, and maybe their distrust of commerce is reduced in this new age.

I'd like Peterson more if he studied something harder than psychology.

What is bad about that paper? well, for one there is no, like, new data/observations or analysis of data, or discussion of data, or a model that can be critiqued. Or insight even if only backed by observation of the world. It's social justice warrior A referencing social justice warrior B, C, D who each in turn reference each other ... is solipsism the word? And is it actually addressing an actual real problem to be solved?

whats good about the paper?
it has a new buzz phrase/fakepsychopathology?/social construct
"white fragility" poorly defined, unfalsifiable just the sorta thing
take our minds off the all the previous bias research that
didn't reproduce

that can be

I decided to read most of the paper out of curiosity. It reads like an isolated internet echo-chamber with academic pretenses. Subjective opinions dressed up as incontrovertible truths building off of academic citations of former subjective opinions dressed up as incontrovertible truths.

The list of "triggers" reads like the opposing side of the argument you win against yourself in the shower. Laughable betrayals of subconscious rationalization.

The answer to the question "what is wrong with social justice warriors" is simple. It rewards a feedback loop of amplified catastrophizing and other cognitive distortions. It is a mechanism that seeks self-righteousness, not justice.

Disclosure: have not yet read the link (pdf on phone is a dicey proposition)

The issue with SJW is the SJ part. Injustice is something that can only happen to individuals. The notion that people can experience Injustice or justice via membership in a group, and the correlate that they can perpetrate Injustice via membership in a group is incompatible with liberalism. Full stop. There is no such thing as "social justice", and warrioring for it can only result in actual injustices.

Legal drinking age = 21

Please tell me injustice is not experienced by the group of young people between 18-21 years old.

OK. Injustice is not experienced by the group of young people between 18-21 years old. injustice is experienced by the individuals between 18-21 years old.

The drinking age in Canada is 18. So you could double down on groups and say this is where intersectionality comes into play, the group of 18-21 that is also in the US is oppressed. But what about when US 20 year olds visit Canada? You have to add nearly infinite circles to the Venn diagram, or admit Injustice is faced by each individual when and where it is visited upon them.

A major reason we should not treat people as members of groups is because individual variation is greater than between group variation. Malia Obama has more privilege than a poor kid in Appalachia. 20 year old non-drinkers are not oppressed by 21 year age limits on drinking. Black people attending Harvard stand to have far more lifetime privilege than white kids who can't afford college.

The only answer to this madness is to treat people as individuals. We should be striving for a gender and race blind society that only judges people by their individual strengths and weaknesses. But this will never happen so long as there is political advantage in collecting people into voting blocs and ginning up their outrage for fundraising and publicity.

I agree, though I think a point many people make is that race matters and a person's racial background is an important context. You're not really seeing the whole individual if you are ignoring their race or other aspects of the socioeconomic context they grew up in.
The author of the linked piece condemns individualism as a way of avoiding addressing the issue of race, but I would invert that, I think avoiding race is a way of not really seeing individuals for who they are.

It's certainly true that race and gender can influence your background, but so can many other things which are not visible. This is why judging people on their visible characteristics is a bad idea.

Agreed, race is merely one of many factors. You don't really know that much from simple observing race either. For all you know that black guy could be a Nigerian immigrant, or Jamaican, with zero experience of African American culture.

>Injustice is something that can only happen to individuals.

I agree that there is a lot of confusion about populations and individuals. It is an important distinction and a lot of discussion conflates the two.

But when a clear pattern emerges, it is usually ok to simplify things and talk about groups. For example, we can call the Rwandan Genocide an injustice that happened to the Tutsi, a group, and we haven't made a meaningful logic error.

...... but genocide is specifically a word that means killing all individuals of a group, so using it as an example of group Injustice is weaseling.

If I said I flew around the world and slapped every left-hander in the face, it would be incorrect to assert left-handed people suffered as a group from being left-handed. They suffered individually from being slapped in the face. We can say 'left-handers suffered' without committing a logical error, but we're grouping the individuals who suffered, the group didn't suffer.

>it would be incorrect to assert left-handed people suffered as a group from being left-handed.

I agree that this is an example of a meaningful logic error. I don't think that undermines my point though.

We can shorten "individual black Americans suffered injustice as a result of Jim Crow laws" to "black Americans suffered injustice as a result of Jim Crow laws" without committing a serious logic error or even changing the meaning of the sentence.

But black Americans didn't suffer because of some nebulous white hegemony looming over the country like smog. They suffered because specific individual people in positions of authority behaved unjustly to black individuals when and where they interacted, even of directed to do so by policy. So your still grouping people who were harmed, not describing harm to a group. Since 'black' was defined by a single drop, many people who had black ancestry in the 1/4th or 1/8th (or less) quanta 'passed' as non-black, often claiming Mediterranean or Native American ancestry to explain an olive or tan skin tone. Conversationally you've identified a level of abstraction that is reasonable, but it's not rigorous in any sense.

>They suffered because specific individual people in positions of authority behaved unjustly to black individuals when and where they interacted, even of directed to do so by policy.

Yep, and that is exactly what people *mean* when they say "black Americans suffered injustice as a result of Jim Crow laws". My claim is that if you read that simple statement to mean something about "a smog of white hegemony", then it is a communication problem on the receiving end.

It is almost as if I said "this shipment of apples is rotten" and you retort that a shipment of apples cannot be rotten, only individual apples can be rotten. You are correct, but only in a useless technical sense.

"They suffered individually from being slapped in the face."

We're social animals. When 20% of employees of a company are fired, who suffers? Certainly, the ones that lost the job but also the remaining 80% experience a feeling of dread. Why? Empathy? No idea, I'm not psychologist but I've been part of the 80% and felt disquiet. People you only talked once or twice by the coffee machine, even tough...that gloom.

In the case of genocide, imagine the sense of dread an individual experiences when 10, 20, 50% of the people the person knows have been murdered simply because of ethnicity/religion. Can you really say only the murdered suffered and the ones still alive are fine?

Is the difference between "the group suffered" and "all individuals in the group suffered" that meaningful? I'm sure the difference matters in math or group theory, for social animals I think not.

If an asteroid field starts hitting Earth, and 50% of people are killed, and there are plenty of asteroids still to come, I would feel dread, but have I experienced injustice? When I was younger I was beaten up by a cop. To this day when I see a cruiser in my rear view I feel anxiety; has the officer in the car behind me treated me unjustly?

And again, dread can only be experienced by individuals, not by groups. If I say I'm going to fly around the world and slap all left handers, I've not inflicted dread on all left handers, since almost all of them will never hear the threat, and the rest won't find it credible. Fear only exists within individuals, it's not possible to make a group afraid unless you're able to make each individual in the group afraid.

The whole point of terrorism is to instill fear in a larger group of people. When the 9/11 hijackers crashed those planes into the WTC, they didn't just kill 3000 individuals who happened to live in New York, they attacked "America", with the intent of altering the state of consciousness of all "Americans". The 3000 dead people were not even really the target, the target was us.
Similarly, when a KKK group burns a cross on the lawn of a black family, the target is not just the individual black family on whose lawn the cross is burned, it is implicitly a threat against all other black families in the area.

The most important two questions are 1. whether white fragility is actually a thing, and 2. whether it is widespread. The paper fails to address either. It is accepted as a matter of faith because it is convenient for, and consistent with, the ideology of those in the field. It is, in no uncertain terms, unchecked confirmation bias blanketing almost an entire discipline. They may as well be writing about what color Russell's Teapot is, and all agreeing that it's rainbow-colored because LGBTQ.

The paper also suffers from the thoroughly untenable over-generalizations that plagues these disciplines. The very first sentence, "White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress," is case in point. Some do. Some don't. "White people" is not some monolithic object. Much of this could be made tenable by writing "many white people" or "some white people," but in practice that is rarely done because doing so would compromise the activist salience of the paper -- intellectual rigor be damned.

What jumps out to me from the abstract is that pretty much *any* behaviour seems to be considered ‘defensive’. Which is my main problem with SJW’s: their assertions are unfalsifiable, as every response is manhandled into a demonstration of their correctness.

Cet animal est très méchant,
Quand on l'attaque il se défend.

dog bite, on my leg, not fair, he's supposed to beg

I always distinguish between social justice and Social Justice.

99% of world, i.e. those who are not psychopaths, are in favor of social justice. Of course, those with functioning minds all have their own unique opinions of what constitutes social justice and there is much room for actual debate and conversation on the matter.

Social Justice, on the other hand, is the dogma followed by left-wing fanatics who've appropriated the sanctimony and thought-policing that used the characterize the (religious) right. As Cowen says, they are not worth engaging in.

White Nationalists and Jihadis commit more terrorism than SJWs. This means you can't ignore the former but you can be firm with or ignore the latter. Perspective is important.

Why would the metric be terrorism? SJW's aren't trying to destroy the state, they are trying to control the state. IE terrorism is generally counter productive to their goals.

Granted, they're not above intimidation as a tactic. Riots, etc. But that's not terrorism. They aren't trying to shut down society, but instead to intimidate their enemies and make them afraid to speak in public.

'rather than working hard to actually boost social justice, whatever you might take that to mean'

Well, Prof. Tabarrok's notable efforts to reduce injustice in the American justice/prison system certainly make him the sort of social justice warrior that anyone can respect. This would be an example - https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2018/09/a-win-for-justice.html

' Most of that struggle requires building things in a positive way, I am sorry to say.'

Well, Prof. Tabarrok seems to have a different perspective, being more interested in tearing down the structures involved in things like civil forfeiture and mass incarceration.

'am I building something? '

Sad to see that Prof. Tabarrok's attempts to make a more just world do not meet your apparent criteria for approval. Nor, apparently, would an institute attempting to reduce mass incarceration with this introduction to their work - 'Criminal Justice Reform

What kind of policing and criminal justice system allows people to live in dignity?' (Strangely, if past experience is any guide, linking directly to this particular institute to provide readers an ability to judge for themselves concerning its initiative to tear down America's mass incarceration system would not be allowed.)

"do not waste too much of your own energies countering the not-so-helpful class of social justice warrior"

Generally agree with this sentiment. However, I can't resist pointing this one out, just for laughs: "behaviors such as argumentation, silence...function to reinstate white racial equilibrium."

So, arguing is racist, but so is not arguing (remaining silent). Got it. Contributing humor is building something positive, isn't it?

"If you are not sure you are doing the right thing, ask a simple question: am I building something?"

Agree that building something positive is more productive than "countering" SJWs. How should we go about rebuilding our institutions so that stuff like this stops happening: [https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/jordan-petersons-offer-to-speak-at-cambridge-is-rescinded/]

Learn and employ, "Fuck off."

Wise post. Focus on building something constructive, rather than the negatives of manipulative political rivals.

It is easier to destroy than to create.

Not if the American mass incarceration system is considered as an example.

There's an inversion of principles in the identitarian left that's troubling and counterproductive (and I'm aligned with their end goal on many, if not all, issues). To demonstrate with a few examples:

Problem: some people in America are constantly given negative reminders of their race, while others are free to live without that hyperawareness. Solution: constantly insult those people about their race; everyone is miserable together.

Problem: black first-time criminals are more likely to be locked away for a long time, while white criminals are given empathy and leniency. Solution: protest the white criminals who are given second chances; ensure that judges give no one empathy or leniency.

Problem: white criminals are allowed to surrender peacefully, while black criminals are taken roughly and suffer violence/shootings. Solution: tweet six billion times about how police should shoot more white people.

As Tyler mentions, it's this destructive mindset that really is actively making the world a worse place. It works in conjunction with guilt-by-association where the line between Nazi, alt-right, Republican, centrist, and "had a centrist on his podcast once to talk about 80s horror movies" disappears depending on rhetorical usefulness -- there's a list kept of people who are on the right team, and if you're not on the right team, the above collapsing of distinctions applies.

Good comment. Maybe it's my white privilege talking, but there also seems to be a real lack of a sense of proportion in the social justice cocoon.

Black criminals receive longer sentences because of The New Jim Crow, for example, and this is simply accepted by serious people on the left without criticism or reservation, not just by activists and useful idiots.

Reparations haven't been paid to Ta Nehisi Coates yet because America is a white supremacist nation, and that time someone in New York City was rude to him proves it.

The black white wealth gap is due to redlining that ended fifty years ago.

You can fill in your own examples.

How was that a good comment? It was complete nonsense. No solution mentioned has ever been proposed by SJW afaik.

Not always. Harder to get rid of nuclear waste than to create it.

"That all said, do not waste too much of your own energies countering the not-so-helpful class of social justice warriors. It is not worth it. Perhaps someone needs to play such a role, but surely those neuterers are not, or at least should not be, the most talented amongst us."

I wish I could share your optimism. I worry that the SJWs are essentially infected with memetic mind viruses and are being trained to tear everything down.

Further, the solution to this problem may be complex on the level of hunting for a cure for AIDS. Or perhaps more complex than that. It's an education problem and a government problem and a politics problem and a philosophy problem working from different vectors, with inputs from different actors, among which are the most powerful of actors.

I'm all with you that we need for the SJWs themselves to learn to build and create, but the devil is in the details. These are Sauron-sized details.

'These are Sauron-sized details.'

They really are - imagine that Frodo had not been so dedicated to destroying the ring.

"I wish I could share your optimism. I worry that the SJWs are essentially infected with memetic mind viruses and are being trained to tear everything down."

+1 Agreed.

But their ends are not to tear everything down - their ultimate ends are power. The destruction is to remove all obstacles to it.

'I worry that the SJWs are essentially infected with memetic mind viruses and are being trained to tear everything down.'

That is a profoundly wrong statement regarding Prof. Tabarrok, and with an institute (mentioned above) using its considerable resources to try to change America's mass incarceration system.

I'm all for fixing terrible systems and agree with Tabarrok's focus in these cases. But that's not what is generally meant by Social Justice Warrior. We can push for justice without becoming professional activists who see Nazis around every corner, which is what the SJWs are, essentially.

'But that's not what is generally meant by Social Justice Warrior. '

Really? I though someone opposed to mass incarceration and a justice and policing system that does not deal equally with all citizens was exactly the sort of thing that those interested in social justice are noted for.

'without becoming professional activists who see Nazis around every corner'

Without saying anything about 'professional' regarding Prof. Tabarrok, America's civil foreiture laws bear more than a passing similarity to German laws from the 1930s concerning who was and who was not entitled to their personal property, regardless of whether they had been found guilty of a crime or not. Perhaps Radley Balko's writings would be interesting in this regard?

'Mr. Trump met with a group of sheriffs, who, as they groused about their critics, seem to have extracted a new policy position from a credulous and apparently ill-informed president. The sheriffs spoke about “civil asset forfeiture” — a bizarre police power prone to abuse yet beloved by law enforcement — and Mr. Trump concluded that only “bad people” would pressure them to change the practice.

If that is so, there are a lot of “bad people” in the United States. An ideologically diverse, bipartisan movement that includes many Trump supporters opposes civil asset forfeiture, because it allows police to seize property from Americans on shockingly flimsy legal grounds.

Officers do not have to show that those deprived of their property ever committed a crime. Often, all they need to show is suspicion that cash or cars might have been related to criminal activity. In practice, officers have noted the presence of energy drinks and junk food in cars, a motorist’s facial twitches under questioning, the presence of duct tape, “inconsistent” statements from motorists who do not speak English well, and other hardly damning details to gin up the required “suspicion.” Under a state-federal program, police departments then get to keep a slice of the money they take. Owners of seized property can appeal, but it is on them to show that the goods were legally acquired, and it is expensive to lodge the necessary legal objections.' https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/civil-asset-forfeiture-doesnt-belong-in-the-law-enforcement-arsenal/2017/02/16/73d845f0-f22f-11e6-a9b0-ecee7ce475fc_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.adf91fe3395e

Radley Balko would seem to fit better into that 'professional activist' category (his activism has been supported by a number of prominent libertarian organizations and donors), though he generally does refrain from making any Nazi references.

I don't categorize Radley Balko as a SJW because I think that he, like Tabarrok, generally engages problems with a high enough focus and without using the issue to attack and overwhelm people.

So, by that definition Martin Luther King Jr or Gandhi wouldn't be SJWs either.

Which would likely strike both of them as being absurd, actually.

No, it wouldn't, because neither of them were fanatics. You keep insisting on using your own idea of what is meant by "Social Justice Warrior" and, oddly, ignoring the meaning everyone else is using. Why you would even bother trying to have a discussion while relying strictly on your own terminology that no one else shares is incomprehensible.

You are mistaking a term "social justice warrior" for a definition and assuming they are the same. They are not. You should know what a SJW is before posting. Then again the same could be said for Tyler

Didn't the Brown Shirts "build" something? I'm not sympathetic to supposed academics who aren't able to - or willing to - define their terms. I think they're lazy and are seeking followers or likes and while they are "building" something, it ain't anything to be proud of. I guess once we rehabilitate the word "Nazi", that the SJW meme will be high on the list of terms ripe for meaning something different that it does. Right after we stop littering and change to a phonetic alphabet.

It might help if the warriors stated specific attainable objectives (with some estimate of costs and probability of negative unintended consequences) and then The People could calmly decide whether We want to go that way (or pay the price not to). But then, maybe leaving it vague and emotional it's really what it's all about. Some people post retarded things on Youtube just to get the views and ad fees. And some people just want to be the center of attention, don't care how they do it.

' stated specific attainable objectives'

You mean like this? 'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.'

Seems to have worked out pretty well in a broad sense, even if most people outside the U.S. were skeptical whether such objectives could ever be attained at the time those words were written.

And then throw in the Bill of Rights for a truly radical framework designed to advance social justice, with liberty and justice for all. Admittedly, as Prof. Tabarrok does note quite often, we are still working on the justice for all part.

Specific.....not "establish justice".
Concretely, what is the proposal? What are specific people supposed to specifically do in specific cases?
And attainable. How will we know when "Justice" has been established?
Cost and consequences. What exactly do We want police officers to do to protect individual rights of some while protecting the individual rights of others?
Or is everyone just expected to know and agree what the "right thing" is and then always do it? Seems not to have worked out so well, except in the Broad Sense and at high cost.
I'm in favor of doing the right thing. Folks with hungry kids should be able to take what they need from Walmart or the local bodega. Or even if they themselves need money for drugs, through no fault of their own, After all, they're only human and it wouldn't be right to penalize them for something they aren't responsible for and can't control.

So, a shorter version -

'Specific.....not "establish justice".'

The United States of America is not specific enough for you? One can argue endlessly about justice, but to argue that the Constitution is not a clear and profoundly important document that establishes justice is simply obtuse.

'How will we know when "Justice" has been established?'

Well, since the Constitution allows for changes, I guess the answer is 'never'? On the other hand, women now have the right to vote and chattel slavery has been outlawed, to give two concrete examples of goals that were attained.

'Or is everyone just expected to know and agree what the "right thing" is and then always do it?'

Thankfully, as part of the Constitution no one need know or agree - however, they are still obligated to follow the law. For example, chattel slavery was legal, and now it is not. You are of course welcome to defend chattel slavery, and push for changes to the Constitution so as to reinstate it, assuming that enough people would agree with that, including whether it would be 'just'.

'Seems not to have worked out so well, except in the Broad Sense and at high cost.'

Wow - and people here think I am anti-America. America, and its Constitution, represents one of the most successful political systems in human history, whose attempts to establish justice remain one of the leading beacons of human affairs since the adoption of the Constitution (obviously, the Declaration of Independence is equally important, but is in another category). Of course, as with all human institutions, political or otherwise, it has flaws, and will never be perfect.

(Hard to imagine there is anything objectionable, but this is the MR comments section.)

TC:"you should want to be working toward some kind of emancipation in the world"

I would argue you really shouldnt. Rather its exactly this stance that directly causes SJWs to politicise every field they're involved in (a mark of totalitarianism), invent fantasy problems that don't exist, demonise others as oppressive in every field they ate involved in.

Conceptualizing themselves as *needing* to be involved in some sort of liberation struggle (which they understand in most cases through a narrative lens and with the emotional maturity and nuance of a teenager) is exactly why they are able to fool themselves into believing that nakedly bullying, mobbing, conforming and power grabbing behaviour is all justified, and why they a plague on every social environment and every creative and intellectual venture.

The world would be a much better place if most people were simply people working to their own moral excellence and the collective good of their people and avoided orienting themselves in working towards "emancipation".

'I would argue you really shouldnt. '

If I recall, you are not American. Americans, however, generally believe what the Preamble to the Constitution says (it is quoted above), and view things like chattel slavery as something to be ashamed of.

'and the collective good of their people'

Yes, das Volk really does need someone ensuring its collective good - and of course, that certainly does not sound like a mark of totalitarianism. The occasional historical road bump aside.

When your go to example of why people should be working to "emancipation" in their lives today, is a approximately 200 year old dead social issue, this is not a persuasive point.

The other point was a quick leap to Godwin even for you prior. The allergy to mention of anyone having a people (your ultra-patriotism to Germany withstanding I guess) is pretty strong. I guess the topic is SJWs though, so we needed a public demonstration of their level of psychology at some point.

'is a approximately 200 year old dead social issue'

The major Civil Rights and Voting Acts are from the mid-60s, and as can be seen recently in states like North Carolina and the attempts of its legislature to restrict voting rights, still completely relevant. Admittedly, this is within the U.S.

'your ultra-patriotism to Germany withstanding I guess'

Still amazing to see how many people refuse to accept that an American citizen, whose praise of the Constitution has been apparent in several recent threads - not just this one - is still somehow considered a German ultra patriot. What makes this particularly bizarre is that modern Germany is one of America's prouder and successful examples of 'emancipation.'

Americans are not, and have never been, part of something that Germans understand as 'das Volk.' Americans are citizens of a republic that is based on ideals, not blood. A fact that I consider a mark of real pride as an American, actually, compared to those people still thinking that citizenship is somehow attached to ancestry. It isn't - anyone can become an American, which just might explain why the Constitution and the nation it created remains one of the greatest known in human history, regardless of its flaws.

And as final note, I will never be a German. Which of course is the not the same as being a German citizen (not that I ever plan to give up my American citizenship for German citizenship), in case that was not clear enough, since I will never be considered German by any actual German.

prior, to clarify again, I'm not arguing that there are no injustices in the world; we can find quite easily that homeless people, or the old, or animals, for instance, are treated less well than they ought to be. If a person does what I suggest and tries to develop a holistic ethical basis of character to their personality, they will naturally come into conflict with these things.

I'm arguing that making a drive to participate in a sort of "liberation struggle" an essential and central part of your existence that dominates and intrudes every aspect of your life, as it does for the SJWs, is a bad, distorting framework, and is directly bad advice that leads to the SJWs being what they are, people for whom it is paramount that they are part of whatever liberation struggle is popular in their society, but who have no internal moral compass or conscience.

As for your comments on why you're not an ultra-patriot towards Germany, I do not follow your every utterance; the general impression I got was that you describe every single facet of present-day German life, social institution, economic model as being utterly the supreme of the United States, and the United States as nothing to envy, beyond perhaps its diversity and e pluribus unum. You know yourself and perhaps I'm mistaken.

As to your comments on a "Republic of Ideals", I find the Americans that seem best to be those who say "We may have different ideals. We may believe different things. But, we share a culture, a history and ancestors who shared a culture and a history, so we can agree to disagree and be one people nonetheless, on the basis of our shared culture and our shared history" to be the very best of Americans. The Americans who insist that only those who share their ideals should really be Americans, and that all those Americans with a shared history who do not share those ideals should be excluded, those seem like the very worst of Americans.

Shared ideals seem about the worst thing to base any citizenship on, because in any healthy society, people *should* be free to have different ideals. A society built on the idea that everyone should conform to the same ideology in place of the natural "glue" of culture and history and shared ancestry, that would seem to me to be a very dystopian society indeed. Forbid that Americans ever achieve it.

And I may add, it is completely fair to point out that America's involvement in other people's affairs has generally not led to a good result for those other people.

Ask a South American for details.

Would that include the citizens of France, Germany, Italy, and Japan?

Of course, given your German ancestry, you may have sympathies with the First America First movement rather than the current one.

France, Germany, Italy and Japan? Personally, I believe that the U.S. should have never gotten involved in WWI (though I disagree with Patrick Buchanan's take on the subject), and without the U.S. getting involved, WWII would never have happened. Obviously, this is all speculation, but to a major extent, it is extremely debatable whether the U.S. getting involved in WWI turned out to be a benefit for anyone.

'given your German ancestry'

Not sure how to put this to you, but I am unaware of any particular German ancestry, though apparently one grandmother had a German mother/grandmother (that uncertainty should give you a hint how much I care about the subject) - making me an utterly typical American in terms of ancestry. The other grandmother's parents were Irish - yep, still utterly typical American in terms of ancestry. Admittedly, I don't have any interest in genealogy.

But maybe this article will help - 'German-Americans are America’s largest single ethnic group (if you divide Hispanics into Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, etc). In 2013, according to the Census bureau, 46m Americans claimed German ancestry: more than the number who traced their roots to Ireland (33m) or England (25m). In whole swathes of the northern United States, German-Americans outnumber any other group (see map). Some 41% of the people in Wisconsin are of Teutonic stock.

Yet despite their numbers, they are barely visible. Everyone knows that Michael Dukakis is Greek-American, the Kennedy clan hail from Ireland and Mario Cuomo was an Italian-American. Fewer notice that John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Rand Paul, a senator from Kentucky with presidential ambitions, are of German origin.' https://www.economist.com/united-states/2015/02/05/the-silent-minority I do understand how non-Americans who consider themselves to be an ethnic group first have an exceedingly difficult time understanding what it is like to a citizen of a republic based on ideals, not blood.

'sympathies with the First America First movement rather than the current one'

See the point about Buchanan - I actually have a lot of sympathy for American isolationists in terms of WWI. Of course, in WWII, Japan attacked the U.S. Navy, and Hitler declared war on the U.S. first. As for a foreign funded movement claiming to represent Americans - no, I do not support the idea of political movements receiving support from those who oppose the U.S. Regardless of when, or what slogan they use (think of the poor Belgians, right?)

Why would you include Japan? We nuked them. Twice.

They deserved it, and they prospered after.

'politicise every field they're involved in (a mark of totalitarianism)'

The source of your error, right there.

In a free democratic society anyone can *try* to politicize anything. It's up to us if we care or not. e.g. Freedom Fries

Of course, people are free to try, and others are free to criticize them for doing so and free to point out what life in a society is like in a society where everything is politicized, using the examples we have.

Of course you should not respond reflexively to every single ridiculous SJW flareup. It's not worth the effort - who really cares about people hyping up a bunch of silly superhero blockbusters on racial and gender lines for'ex? (Well, unless they really fuck up economic and political history like Black Panther, then it might be worth a paragraph at least.).

But in the general picture, I don't happen to feel going "Nuh, uh, not listening, lalala" rather than being at least slightly critical of the broad trend, is actually a very good response.

"Many social justice warriors seem more concerned with tearing down, blacklisting, and deplatforming others, or even just whining about them, rather than working hard to actually boost social justice, whatever you might take that to mean. "
Perhaps their criticism can serve a useful purpose? Peter Bauer's work on development economics can also be described in the way you describe SJWs. Bauer argued that yes, he is mostly criticising ideas rather than creating new ones but to quote him, just because a qualified doctor is not available do we have to accept a quack?

" Many of the people who are called social justice warriors I would not put in charge of a candy shop, much less trust them to lead the next jihad."
But much the same could be said of "many of the people" who aren't called social justice warriors.
Ditto the "whining" etc.

True. He probably should have said: "All of the people who are called social justice warriors I would not put in charge of a candy shop, much less trust them to lead the next jihad."

The "article".

It certainly makes me think why people stopped calling them essays and try to sell them as scientific articles. In spite of the idiocy of the text I can see what the author tried to describe. What the author poorly describes as white fragility is simple the stress we experience when all of us have to learn to be in a new environment or situation. This stress happens to all of us no matter the skin color. My cousins in a Chicago are perfectly described by "a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves" and they're not white. I think the kid needs a hug and a talk over a few beers, not derision.

The situation leaves me wondering, what happened to the non-academic intellectuals? Columnists on newspapers, some novel authors that foray into essays, journalists, or old school activists? I don't remember any peer-reviewed article published in a scientific journal of Gandhi, MLK, or Mandela. What I remember is famous discourses, books, essays, personal letters. Even the sacred cow Michel Foucault wrote opinion columns for Le Monde, il Corriere de la Sera......what better peer review than a newspaper accesible to everyone?

" I don't remember any peer-reviewed article published in a scientific journal of Gandhi, MLK, or Mandela."

Which is a shame. Think of how influential they would have been had they published in a top 5!

"Do not waste too much of your own energies countering the not-so-helpful class of social justice warriors. It is not worth it. Perhaps someone needs to play such a role, but surely those neuterers are not, or at least should not be, the most talented amongst us."

That attitude is self-recommending. No one should waste their energy helping university professors who won't help themselves.

What, answering a bleg where to eat is a waste of energy?

(Though if one was expecting to be credited for a suggestion as a reason to make a suggestion, that could be considered a waste of time.)

The same old advice as Proverbs 24:6 or George Carlin's "don't argue with idiots...".

For clarity I should've said, "No one should waste their energy defending non-SJW university professors who won't defend themselves."

and why the sillier ones should be countered them

Step by steady step, Tyler is answering the call of the IDW. Soon he will stand beneath our banner.

All men of goodwill shall, before the end. Few can remain neutral in the fire to come.

The distinction is between a social justice warrior and a shaming warrior; it's the latter that I believe Cowen is criticizing. Shaming warriors are a byproduct of social media, which has become a platform for vigilante justice against those with whom one either disagrees or is in an inferior position. The odd thing about shaming warriors is that it's non-partisan: shaming warriors exist on the right as well as the left. It's the act of shaming that is what's important not the ideas that may differentiate the shaming warriors from the shamed. Social media has, through shaming, facilitated a leveling between the obscure and the famous, giving the latter a sense of power over the former. Indeed, the shaming warriors who attacked Chelsea Clinton for her supposed bias against Muslims were given a platform at BuzzFeed to spread their vigilante justice from the NYU campus to across the country. Conor Friedersdorf has an excellent piece in The Atlantic describing the tactics of the shaming warriors in what he calls the call out culture (another term for shaming culture). He writes this about them:

"The NYU students did not invent this doomed mode. They learned it through peer acculturation, perverse incentives, and adults who indulge in question-begging arguments, irresponsible accusations, and careless callouts, all of which are epidemic on the social-justice left and the Republican right. . . . Imagine an alternative civic culture in which Republicans applied their purported disdain for callout culture to their own, and where the left worked toward a public discourse with better incentives, lauding participants not for zero-sum callouts but for substantively engaging ideas, people, and policies on the merits. Everyone would be better off." https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/03/chelsea-clinton-gets-caught-call-out-culture/585397/

Correction: "giving the former a sense of power over the latter"

I like this exercise. edit: just kidding I do not.

From the abstract, it's not clear what the words "race-based stress", "racial protection", "racial comfort", "White Fragility", or "racial equilibrium" mean. The abstract also asserts that white people in NA live in a certain social environment, but it doesn't even claim to support that assertion -- it takes it for granted. Suppose whites in North America actually live in a range of fundamentally different social environments -- could I refute this false assertion? No, because it lacks any supporting evidence.

From the paper, the introductory anecdote isn't cited, and it's not clear that it isn't merely a fiction.

In the paper the term race based stress is connected to a footnote, but it doesn't explain the term at all.

Oh god I actually don't want to continue reading this paper (#fragility) -- how did this get published? It's just a bunch of made up words and negative sounding phrases juxtaposed with "white" and "whiteness".

> Whiteness is a location of structural advantage

Wait does this mean that having fair skin isn't even a prerequisite for "Whiteness"?

AAAAAAaaaaaak here's how you get a freshman to recognize this as crap: make them take a class on basic rhetoric.

I left Twitter when I saw Deborah Soh attacked for her 'white privilege', she pointed out that she was Asian, and her attacker responded that Asians have white privilege now because of their college graduation rates. There's no way to navigate this mine field anymore.

I recently read a paper (I think on MR) about some people who enjoy the smell of their own asparagus pee. The paper concluded that this was significant because they had discovered a new "olfactory privilege".

it's 2019 time to wake up and sniff your own piss, privileged shitlords

Let me say that I am shocked – shocked – that idealistic college students at elite institutions, with more passion than wisdom, have taken a fundamentally good principle – in this case, opposition to oppression based on identity – stripped it of all nuance and perspective, and extrapolated it wildly beyond anything even their most radical professors would recognize. When has that ever happened???

I think the main way (some) social justice types go off the rails is to fall into binary thinking: Group A all Good & Powerless, Group B all Bad and Powerful. Power is a thing, but it is a continuum - ironically, the concept of intersectionality should provide a corrective to the false binaries: the average straight white woman has more advantages than the average woman of color. Second, power is influenced by individual factors (health, education) in addition to identity. For example, a black man with a college degree and a successful consulting career has more power than a black man who grew up in a single-parent household in a high-poverty area and who dropped out of high school. Collapsing all these distinctions to fit a "good vs evil" dichotomy is lazy, innaccurate, and is not going to win converts.

The college students make silly demands and have no sense of proportion because they're mostly 18-21 year olds with little experience in the world. There's no shame in that--it's unreasonable to expect a kid to have an adult's perspective. But then a bunch of adults who should know better either give in to the silly demands of the kids, or use them to win their own battles (usually local politics), and there's a fair bit of collateral damage done. When the adult leadership of a university allows student protesters to drive invited speakers from campus or harass professors for their views or writings or research, it's an indication that the adult leadership needs to be fired and replaced with someone who won't tolerate such nonsense.

" Collapsing all these distinctions to fit a "good vs evil" dichotomy is lazy, innaccurate, and is not going to win converts."

The evidence indicates that they will win converts or we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Wow Tyler, that's some pretty strong phrasing from you.

"I would not put in charge of a candy shop, " ... "more concerned with tearing down, blacklisting, and deplatforming others, or even just whining about them"

All of that's pretty obvious, but it's rare to see our host take such direct language.

The post's words and phrases

Sound like language

Grandpa Simpson would use.

isn't it more likely that pseudoscience/sociology&
poorly defined buzzwords
creeping into the sciences
are gonna make science less productive,
more ideologic less replicable
and will in the end reduce social justice&
increase measles mumps typhus
and other easily preventable

could you see yourself here in a couple years

if so sign up for biology next semester

Problem #1: The model of the world used by most visible SJWs seems to me to be a really bad fit for reality. As more and more people use that model of the world to propose policies, they will tend to propose dumb and counterproductive polices. For example, I think discrimination and bias accounts for a fairly small amount of the problems with women getting jobs in STEM fields, blacks doing well in schools, and similar things. I think "structural racism" or "structural oppression" is the SJW version of the god of the gaps--it can spackle over any cracks in your theory's predictions.

Problem #2: The tactics of a lot of the most visible SJWs (probably almost never the most serious thinkers on that side of things, though) are really destructive, to the point where a lot of people at some tech companies and some universities report being unwilling to discuss their beliefs in public, or to disagree with some bit of SJW dogma in public, lest they get a bunch of hassling and maybe even in trouble with their employer. People respond to incentives, and this kind of thing can and does lead to the parts of our society that should be producing most of the new ideas and insights being a lot less freewheeling and interesting and productive.

Problem #3: As best I can tell, a lot of SJW ideas seem to work to *narrow* the worldview of their adherents instead of *broadening* them. Declaring lots of old literature, movies, historical figures, music, etc. problematic (and campaigning to take them out of the college curriculum in favor of more recent politically acceptable writings) seems like a good way to cut off the adherents of that movement from understanding the ideas and beliefs that shaped the world we live in, and to convince many of them never to read the best of what our civilization has produced. The way cultural appropriation is often talked about in public (probably as much by stupid outrage-farming on social media as anything else) seems to me to discourage falling in love with a foreign culture and immersing yourself in it--a wonderful way of broadening your horizons.

A fourth problem is that this movement encourages (and indeed, is intensely focused on) identity politics. As best I can tell, identity politics is a force for evil in the world even when it's confined to minorities, and can get really ugly when it's picked up by powerful identity groups. Backlash to the identity politics of the SJW crowd seems like a real risk, something I suspect we're seeing now, and we probably will continue to not like the outcomes we get from that (like the fellow now sitting in the white house).

Oh man, I was so looking forward to the fake-anonymous take on this.

I agree with Tyler that we should all be making small steps toward a better world. Beyond that, categories are pretty arbitrary. People on the left to try to make their better world, and some of them are called SJWs. People on right try to make a world and, some of them are called RWNJs. Both sides have nuts, no surprise.

People who can keep their eye on the prize, and not descend into squabbles, are probably neither SJWs nor RWNJs.

For a moment, i thought you were advocating a change from SJW to LWNJ, which would be an improvement. But I was disappointed.

It would add symmetry.

On white fragility, check out the "it's ok to be white" meme.

"ask a simple question: am I building something?" No, ask a better question: am I maintaining something worth preserving?

+ all the marbles
A much humbler question, and far more likely to insulate one from the thoroughgoing nonsense that has taken the place vacated by scholarship.

Back to the headline question: "What is wrong with social justice warriors?"

By and large they are twats, that's what's wrong with them.

From a low number to a still very low number.

What's that, small steps to a not so much worse world?

See my comment about inability to recognize proportions and put things in a proper perspective. I promise I wasn't talking about you, but I suppose I might as well have been.

I might as well hang this year because it is a good example.

We are going into 2020 with a very strange condition. Assuming Trump is still there, he will have few overt supporters. Sure, there is some Twitter troll level base, out there attacking Dan Crenshaw today ..

But most right partisans have fallen into sullen silence, defended only by an ability to avoid intra-right conflict. They are the ones who sub-tweet Trump by saying something vague about war heroes, and hope they can get away with it.

They know the train is going the wrong way, but they are on board.

I can see how they can maintain that. Avoidance is a valuable mental defense, and doesn't require much of the practitioner.

But I really wonder what would happen if it came down to 2020 ballot with Trump on it.

How many of them, of you, are going to check the box to say you really want more of this?

The real irrational base is already down with "but ___ would be the end of the world" without that Democrat blank filled in. But I hope most of you are better than that base.



But just think, give four years to some Democrat, and you can come back in 2024 with a president you can be proud of.

I say this a lot, but I don't think you have gotten the memo yet. If the economy holds up, Trump probably wins again. Definitely so if the Dems nominate someone way too progressive, like they seem itching to do: Warren, Sanders, etc.

Obviously I can't comprehend that. It's one thing to get this as an unexpected outcome. It's another to sign up for more of the same.

(Especially recognizing that more informed voters will see business cycles as not strongly tied to politics.)

That's because you are refusing to see that around 40% of the country actually quite likes Trump, even now. And many of those people are in electorically useful places for Trump.

Believe me, I'm not happy about it either. But part of your narcissism is you literally cannot fathom the other side. And there is an other side, that has no problem with Trump, or even loves him. There are Republicans who will vote for him no matter what even if they don't like him, because partisanship.

Not saying it's right, but those are the facts. I understand why you can't comprehend it, but it's real.

Why the heck would you call my recoil at the president's treatment of John McCain as my narcissism?

I think you might be inverted on some terms.

Your narcissism is shown by your belief that only your take on Trump is valid, and literally being unable to comprehend (your words) how others see him.

What you just did in that last post is goal post shifting, another of your specialities

I am hardly unique, just an outlier for this group. Note:

"A poll from Quinnipiac University found 64 percent of American voters believe Trump committed crimes before assuming office, while 24 percent did not believe he had (another 13 percent said they weren't sure.) 45 percent said they think Trump committed crimes since taking office, compared with 43 percent who believe he did not."

I am not unique at all in my assessment ..

Tell me, does it take a "narcissist" to stand in this group and call for morality in high office?


The argument isn't that no one shares your view. The argument is that you don't understand the other side.

anonymous - "Obviously I can't comprehend that. "

If you had even a smidgen of introspection, you would have stopped at that point and actually thought about the points that msgkings had made. You don't "win" by being the last person posting a reply, you "win" by learning something new.

So don't drag things down to that level.

Take this thread, I talk about attacks on Crenshaw and McCain, I talk about crimes, about morality and high office, and you don't want to have that conversation.

You want to make it about me, in a way that I am very obviously trying not to make it about you.

Step up to the higher questions of public morality and civic responsibility.

We've already had that conversation ad nauseam. You and I know Trump sucks, his supporters think he's great.

I was telling you that Trump has a good chance of re-election and you literally couldn't comprehend it. I replied that's due to your narcissistic blinders, you did your thing and changed the subject to another convo about how shitty Trump is and how much better you are than everyone else for saying so every day over and over.

Back to the topic: Trump has a good chance of re-election, you literally can't understand that, because you are way too far up your own head. That was the topic. Not how shitty Trump is. Which I agree with you about.

Note: the thing I can't comprehend is that you so assiduously avoid questions of morality and responsibility.

Never mind me, literally.

I am not what is critical here.

If you want dangerous narcissism, maybe look at the people who think they're on a mission from God.


That's if the KKK doesn't get me by then!!!

Oh, man. That article made my eyes glaze over.

I would personally opt to differentiate between message and methodology. The core message of SJWs is an obviously worthy one, but their underlying intellectual framework is bonkers. There may be situations in which people of "privileged" demographics need to speak less and listen more, but you don't need to establish an academic concept of "privilege" or "fragility" in order to say that. Just, you know, say it.

This has been my long-standing critique of many social equality movements. If the goal is equality, then the message should be equality. No need to construct academic jargon and circular reasoning when a simple and direct message will do. And be prepared for the eventuality that your position will never be unanimous, even if it is right.

We've already achieved equality on any reasonable frame. So the only way to propose change is to say we haven't. Since that isn't true, you need a crazy theory.

"We've already achieved equality on any reasonable frame"

Need to clear my throat and take a sip of water here.....ok, I'm all set


Oh man that was fun. OK carry on.

Consider that you might be unreasonable.

I will if you consider that statement from asdf to be far more unreasonable.

I would consider asdf's point to be somewhat more unreasonable, but not by a whole lot. There's no certain indication that society will ever be much more equal than it is today. I do suspect that society will be much more richer in the future and know one will care about equality as much. But that's different than making it go away.

There will always be women that are hot and guys that are charismatic. There will always be somebody with more power or money and somebody else that got a raw deal. Some nice girls will die young and some evil bastard will live way longer than they should. Some group will be aggrieved and some other group will be responsible. Nature (and evolution) thrive on differences. Differences will always lead to inequalities.

It's not clear to me that a human society could ever achieve perfect equality without perfect mediocrity.

If you don't believe me then read the story Harrison Bergeron.

That's a lot of words addressed to me that aren't really on point regarding my take on that. I am not advocating 'total equality' or anything like that, and I have read Harrison Bergeron many times and I'm on your side on the sentiment.

I was just having a laugh at asdf's stupid statement. And let's be clear, he was talking about racial equality, not the stuff you just posted. We may never have total racial equality, but attitudes like asdf's are what has the SJWs and black people with a chip on their shoulder, and rightly so.

Inequality between the races is due to genetics. No efforts to change that have worked and are doomed to fail. The only way you could achieve equality between the races is to drag white people down to black peoples level...which is exactly the only thing SJWs ever accomplish.

But Tyler! You made such a convincing case that we should be warry of people building naratives....

You're confusing TC5.7 for TC5.1 -- It's a common error.

Candy shop? I wouldn't put these people in charge of a vending machine.

And a fortiori the libertarian sjw.

At the core, my problem with all of this is with what we find at the bottom of the philosophical stack of "social justice," which traces its roots in part to Catholic Liberation theology--the idea that "salvation" has a particular collective political context. The heretical part is that it shifts the idea of "salvation" from an individual concept (that we must all individually seek salvation) to a group or collective idea--where institutions and groups, not individuals, seek salvation.

In other words, we are no longer responsible for our own behavior; instead, responsibility lies with groups and with institutions.

You can see this idea reflected in various articles attempting to define Social Justice: "Social justice assigns rights and duties in the institutions of society, which enables people to receive the basic benefits and burdens of cooperation." (from Wikipedia)

And so the nasty racist behavior of a handful of cops (who should be individually punished severely for doing things like arresting a black veteran for moving into his own home in Kansas because he "looked suspicious") gets translated into ideas of "white privilege", where people who aren't black are said to be "privileged," and thus *as an institution* at fault for these Kansas cops.

That is, somehow it is my fault (because I look white, despite being part Native American and having experienced my own discriminatory events in my life) that some cops in Kansas are morons who richly deserve to be fired.

It's why when I hear the phrase "Social Justice" I roll my eyes, and why most social justice "warriors" aren't fit to feed themselves using sharp implements--because the entire concept of social justice is philosophically corrupt from it's very foundations.

Instead, I would rather see individual justice as a way to encourage individual "salvation." Institutions aren't corrupt; **people** are, and institutions can only function as well as the people who run them. And I would prefer we go after people who are guilty of specific crimes, but allow them to find salvation and forgiveness when, for example, a 10 year old indelicate tweet is found in someone's twitter feed when someone was still a comedian trying to break out.

Socializing justice, however, is just a way to escape real justice and real responsibility. Which is why I seldom waste my energy on them, other than to point out this fundamental flaw.

One of TC's best posts


Addressing just the term 'White Fragility,' because it's very telling.
It's an expansion of the definition of racism to include defending oneself against claims of racism. It thus cuts off debate.
"You are a racist."
"I am not a racist."
"That statement was racist."
The term 'White Fragility' is just a formalization of that third, meaningless, quote.

The James Damore episode was a sex-based example of this. Damore didn't make an unwanted gross pass at anyone. He didn't hire men over better qualified women. He didn't pass over a woman for a promotion. He didn't ignore a woman's contribution to a discussion. He wrote a paper defending against claims of sexism and the definition of sexism was expanded to include writing of such a paper.

In summary, terms such as 'white fragility' or 'male fragility' are terms created to cut off the search for truth, not to further the search for truth.

One major problem with SJ is that it lacks data to show whether these claims are the result of being white, or whether they are broader social/human/cultural issues.

For example, the authors discuss the frequent SJ issue "if you describe a third party, lacking any context, white people will often assume that the third party is white."

They suggest that this is bad, and imply that it's *because* people are white. But they don't give any data to evaluate it.

Do non-white people also make the same assumptions? Do non-white people make opposite ones? Does it really have to do with the speaker's local community, which is to say "who they are likely to be discussing when they use generic terms?" Does it have to do with the race of the listener? Do people use the same defaults in Maine (97% white) as they do in Hawaii (25% white) and DC (39% white?) What do Ethiopians, Mexicans, Japanese, or Iraquis assume, when they're in their own country? How does that change if they immigrate here? What do white or black South Africans assume?

If you're going to talk about generic assumptions, it's perfectly interesting. But if you're going to make specific accusations, I want data.

did anybody read the
sociology narrative referenced?
it ishalf pop psychology and half scientology
change the colors of the populations in the narrative
and it reads like a 1920s eugenics textbook

It's interesting how the social justice narrative mirrors the white supremacist narrative from 100 years ago. Most importantly, both narratives assume that whites are somehow extraordinary and have powers that others can't hope to emulate. Both also regard the white vs. non-white dichotomy as the most important division in the world, never mind how absurd and arbitrary a coalition "people of color" is.

To be fair to identitarians both past and present, I personally do have extraordinary powers that others can't hope to emulate. So they've got an n of 1, at least.

Lots of spilled ink--especially virtual--on this SJW stuff. Can't recover the ink or the time.

The paper uses a broad brush to paint all white attitudes towards race as "white fragility". The same could be said for the attitudes of virtually any group towards another. Lack of familiarity is always more stressful and creates awkward reactions, so effectively the paper is meaningless. You could substitute just about all groups with differences throughout the history of the world in place of "White" and "Black" to describe another form of "white fragility".

Case in point, the paper reminds me of the book, "Hillbilly Elegy" by JD Vance. He describes his journey out of the poverty in Kentucky's Appalachia to Yale. The discrimination against him and his ilk by other whites could just as easily have been a story about a black's journey out of the ghettos of Harlem. Discrimination takes many forms against many social classes. SJW's singling out all whites as the perpetrators of injustice against their cause du jour is just another form of ignorance and discrimination.

My guess is that most SJWs have very little understanding of the progress made since the "Great Compromise" in the original Constitution to Brown vs. BOE, the Civil Rights Acts, Gay Marriage, etc. The ability of our country to evolve progressively is, as suggested by TC, far more encouraging than most SJWs are willing or capable of acknowledging. The real work is in ensuring our institutions are devoid of bias. TC's emphasis in that arena is correct and admirable.


We are amidst a multi-decade right wing program of deconstruction of our laws, institutions, judicial system, informal social structures, media system, and economic systems up to and including the tax code, regulatory code, criminal code, voting and election campaign laws, employment law. I mean, just to scratch the surface.

And you are outraged about social justice?

Cool fallacy of relative privation, bro.

seemed like a reasonable response to a false equivalence

"Seriously? [Insert more horrible thing here, just to scratch the surface] and you are outraged about the politics of the world's most successful and privileged country?"

See how that's an intellectually dishonest, zero-sum mindset?

Because Social Justice is doing its best to make the left even less attractive, yes. If you are tired of the right and want the left to succeed, then you have to be willing to challenge and prune the uglier things the left has to offer. Shallow tribal loyalty isn't going to lead to a damn thing if the left's platform is allowed to deteriorate.

Without critique it is often difficult to name the boundaries of a thing, or even the thing itself. If I were to be generous, I would argue that this post is more a reflection of the frustration between analytical discourse - embodied by the disciplines that generate the groups that Cowen has saddled with the SJW epithet - and generative discourse, which focuses on designing or moving forward from assumed first principles.

Note, however, that it is not a crime to question those principles, and in many ways you can't get to a good place without doing so. If you don't question those principles you get the kind of bewildering gobbledygook coming from Jordan Peterson.

Is it actually true that white Americans live in an "insulated environment of racial protection" that "builds white expectations for racial comfort", especially compared to non-whites and the "racial protection" that they may enjoy? For one thing, it seems unlikely that an academic journal would publish an article that attacked some non-white group in similar terms. Even racialist, implicitly white nationalist fringe journals, something like The Mankind Quarterly, use more neutral language than that article. Similarly, history and social science classes in high schools and colleges, popular movies and tv shows, articles in high-circulation newspapers and magazines, corporate diversity training programs etc. attack whites in terms not that far removed from the "white fragility" article. Given that non-whites are not regularly exposed to such hostile treatment of their group (unless they purposedly search for it online), might it not be the case that at least when it comes to his kind of public discourse, whites are much less "fragile" than non-whites?

Most black people don't spend most of their time in liberal places like college campuses. To me it is quite plausible that black people are actually regularly exposed to hostile treatment of their group. Much more so than the average white person. There are many more white people than there are black people, so it only takes a relatively small percentage of white people behaving in a hostile manner towards blacks to become threatening. It's entirely possible that there are more racist white people than there are black people at least in some places in America, and it's much easier for white people to avoid interacting with blacks than it is for blacks to avoid interacting with whites. The statistical likelihood to high that most black people have at some point or another experienced at least racial epithets if not physically threatening behavior at some point in their lives.

Firstly, the social justice discourse contrasts whites and non-whites, not whites and blacks. The black experience is not generalizable to all non-whites. Most non-white people in America not black. Secondly, racial discrimination is not necessarily that prevalent, e.g. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0183356 Blacks are more likely to face hostile treatment from other blacks than whites. Thirdly, even less educated blacks are exposed to movies, tv shows, school classes etc. that are much more likely to contain negative messages about whites than blacks. The "white privilege" discourse is not limited to college campuses.

Sure, but let's be bluntly honest here. The black-white racial divide is obviously the largest and most entrenched and most difficult to address.

As far as black experiences of racism or not, I would think this would be an empirical matter that data could be obtained about by interviewing black people about their racial experiences. I think that would be an interesting data point. Perhaps someone could poll African Americans about and find out the percentages that have had racial epithets yelled at them during childhood, up to being threatened with violence, or been the victim of a beating or other hate crime. We could then compare that to other minority groups like gays or Asians.

Not the same M as above*, but isn't this exactly the kind of data that you usually insist should be hidden from the general public? E.g. it seems pretty similar to the data on education gaps, the degree to which this is heritable, inter ethnic differences violent offending rates in general, which you normally state that the general public can't handle and should be hidden away in academia.

* someone else seems to have decided to use the nick as well for this thread, I've no particular problem with that I guess, but this should explain if you see content that looks inconsistent with prior conversations.

I'm not sure if you are replying to me, but the only thing I think should be not-so-publicly-discussed is group-average IQs, because of the bad interplay that has with identity politics and race relations in the US.
I don't really see that big of a downside to knowing how racism is really happening, though, because it's not going to be used to say one group is superior or inferior. I guess there could be some "we're more victimized than you" type competition, but that's different than saying some other group is genetically inferior. Levels of victimization are not immutable genetic characteristics.

"Rather, if you are not sure you are doing the right thing, ask a simple question: am I building something? Whether it be a structure, an institution, or simply a positive idea, proposal, or method."

I agree with Heinlein that we are rationalizing; not rational. I believe it enough that it's my first internal check against significant decisions. How is my take on this just me lying to myself? And I think it breaks apart your suggestion, though I think I do understand your plain meaning.

Many "sjw" could readily give you a plausible answer if asked what they believe they are building. Some might have the self-awareness to admit they're purely trying to destroy something. But I don't believe it would be a substantial percentage.

How can you know if you are doing good? Maybe you can't. So have some humility.

I actually read the entire thing. Very interesting and I have not fully digested it. I would urge everyone to read it in full and think it through what the author is trying to say, because it's worth engaging with your opponents in good faith instead of dismissing it as biased. it might actually be biased, but you can still learn to understand the perspectives of others, biases and all.
I do think white fragility is a thing, and though I might not put it into the same terms as she does, it gets at a central problem. There's a basic inability in US society for people to honestly engage on the subject of race. We talk around the subject, and it leads to this vast gulf of understanding and an inability for people to genuinely bridge racial divides. Most white people simply never hear directly from black people about their experiences of racism. It's a subject that is never broached. It's like the ancient grudge that poisons the mood at the dinner table, while everyone picks at their food in silence. We have this carefully balanced workplace equilibrium , where everyone is supposed to pretend that there's no racism, and yet we all go home to our segregated neighborhoods at the end of the day, often with vastly different socioeconomic conditions. The only time the subject ever comes up is in one of these diversity training sessions where someone explicitly brings the subject up, whereupon half of the white people flip out because the taboo of never talking about race has been violated. That is white fragility - the defensivness that comes with any suggestion of being implicated in a system of racial inequality, justified or not. The tendency to react defensively when someone else tries to broach the subject of race.
I do think her tone is unnecessarily strident, and if you think white fragility is a thing, maybe it's actually a good idea to coddle your white listeners a bit. If you actually want to make some progress, instead of being all in-your-face check-your-privilege point-scoring, that is. Even if you genuinely think that all white people are implicated in structural racism, it's generally not a good idea to put people on the defensive when trying to influence them. Confrontational interactions usually don't change anyone's minds. To me that is the main problem with "SJWs" - the tendency to get highly confrontational instead of trying to bridge the divide and have a real conversation.

"Most white people simply never hear directly from black people about their experiences of racism. It's a subject that is never broached."

"The only time the subject ever comes up is in one of these diversity training sessions where someone explicitly brings the subject up, whereupon half of the white people flip out because the taboo of never talking about race has been violated."

This is flatly contrary to my experience, but I do not suggest that my experience is (or isn't) a representative sample of reality.

The problem with SJW-ism, in a nutshell: "Shutup, they explained, or we'll shut you up!" is not an argument.

The problem with SJWs is the arrogance, the assumption that they possess the Truth. And therefore if you disagree you must be evil. And therefore BAMN: By Any Means Necessary, you may be suppressed.

And, yes, BAMN is not a pejorative label applied by enemies of SJW, but one freely chosen by them. It is this certainty in one's righteousness that makes SJW's morally repugnant.

It's what happened when Winston Smith is asked (in Orwell's 1984) if there are any limits on what he is willing to do for The Cause:

"You are prepared to commit murder?" "Yes."

"To commit acts of sabotage which may cause the death of hundreds of innocent people?" "Yes."

"To betray your country to foreign powers?" "Yes."

"You are prepared to cheat, to forge, to blackmail, to corrupt the minds of children, to distribute habit-forming drugs, to encourage prostitution, to disseminate venereal diseases – to do anything which is likely to cause demoralization and weaken the power of the Party?" "Yes."

"If, for example, it would somehow serve our interests to throw sulphuric acid in a child's face – are you prepared to do that?" "Yes."

It is the echo of this smug moral certainty in the SJW response to practically anything that forever taints them as people who should never, ever, have the authority judge anyone other than themselves. For it is this very moral smugness that is the core of essentially all of the merciless totalitarianisms of the 20th century.

they seem to be making stuff up!
so when a toxic masculinity loves
a white fragility very much
they make what we are a guessing is
one of those cute little microaggressions

"rather than working hard to actually boost social justice, whatever you might take that to mean"
What do you take that to mean Tyler?

"you should want to be working toward some kind of emancipation in the world"
I am most definitely interested in an emancipation, however I'm not exactly sure what the best way is to work towards it. Some things I might do and say would prevent me from living in the world I hope to change. It's a difficult thing.

At this point there's 181 comments and I don't know if I'm contributing anything new, but here goes.

"What's wrong with [poorly specified group]?" I don't know.

If SJWs were a well specified group, we could possibly identify some problematic group characteristics, and these would probably turn out to be variations on confirmation bias, availability heuristic, or some other fault found in every human being, including myself.

Looking at the PDF file, the behavior described as "fragility" could also be described more simply as believing that you are in a zero-sum game and protecting your share of the pay off. And there are other simpler explanations. I think the behavior described is real, but the Fragility theory is a bit vague. My initial reaction was "How could this be restated in order to allow empirical research?" As it stands, I'm not sure it's refutable.

If "fragility" actually exists, and if we could do meaningful research on it, we would probably discover that it consists universal human behavior. We would probably discover that "fragility" isn't white, but exists in any group under the right circumstances.

But basically, the paper does a poor job of specifying what fragility is, and supports it only with anecdotal evidence.

“what is bad about it” in a way that would connect to a college freshman who finds his/her economics and critical race theory classes to be equally interesting and deserving of further study?”

That my tax money is used to finance the student loans for this nonsense line of inquiry as well as to fund the public universities facilitating these programs and that unelected officials with little accountability to tax payers make it all happen.

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