Education, History, Politics, Top Stories

Thinking Critically About Social Justice

Yesterday, the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released a memo written by an attorney, Jayme Sophir, which determined that Google did not violate United States federal law when it fired James Damore. Sophir reasoned that references to psychometric literature on sex differences in personality were “discriminatory and constitute sexual harassment,” and on these grounds, Damore’s firing was justified. Following the release of the NLRB memo, a number of scientists on Twitter expressed alarm at the justifications provided within the memo, which appeared to relegate the discussion of sex differences outside the realm of constitutionally protected speech.

The NLRB’s determination has emerged after Damore, together with another former Google engineer, filed a class action lawsuit against the company alleging an institutionalised culture of harassment towards people with conservative or libertarian political views. Their complaint is eye-opening. Damore and Gudeman lay out in detail the many ways in which this harassment occurs: a pervasive environment of disparaging jokes and demeaning language amongst colleagues; a climate of bullying, mocking, and personal attacks from superiors and others in power; an open endorsement by superiors of bullying (referred to internally as social pecking); an unwillingness by superiors and administrators to act upon threats of violence; the use of incentive programmes to promote and celebrate harassment; a set of training programmes that foment hostility through emotionalised and unnuanced company-endorsed lectures; and a number of other mechanisms that disincentivise or punish political expression, which in Damore and Gudeman’s case eventually led to their dismissals.

Google is far from the only Silicon Valley company where this occurs. A recent survey suggests the vast majority of conservative and libertarian employees at Silicon Valley companies are hesitant of being themselves at work, and that all but the very liberal feel less comfortable expressing their political views in the aftermath of Damore’s very public dismissal. Some of the responses were remarkable. One libertarian respondent claimed there’s a “concerted purge of conservative employees at Apple.” A conservative respondent experienced colleagues openly mocking conservatives and had to sit through “cruel mockery of my home state while others nodded and laughed along.” A Google employee claimed to have lost multiple talented colleagues who resigned rather than continue in “an increasingly extreme, narrow-minded, and regressive environment.”

Silicon Valley has historically had a reputation for being quite libertarian, but it appears to be becoming increasingly intolerant towards conservatives and even libertarians. Companies seem to be rapidly adopting a culture of social justice that is far more consciously activist than the libertarianism and/or moderate liberalism that preceded it. As a consequence, conservatives and libertarians are now viewed less as people with different views, and more as obstacles to moral progress, thus justifying their harassment.

A similar trend seems to be taking place in other parts of society as well. The last few Oscars and Grammys clearly demonstrated a more overt embrace of social justice ideology by the mainstream entertainment industry than before. (Although undoubtedly due in part to Donald Trump’s election.) Likewise, psychologist Jonathan Haidt has been outspoken about the cultural shift towards social justice that has taken place at universities in recent years. Haidt also co-authored a 2015 paper which documented instances of discrimination and a hostile climate towards conservatives, as part of the explanation for why the number of conservatives in academia has been declining. And it’s not difficult to see how a conservative or libertarian would find working in the mainstream entertainment industry uncomfortable.

What has caused this rapid cultural shift? Haidt suggests it’s a combination of ideas that have been developing in left-leaning academic fields for a long time with recent societal shifts that have made these ideas more attractive or powerful to university students, including a more hands-on parenting style and the invention of social media. The ideas, as Haidt notes are: “organised around victims of oppression, it’s a vertical metaphor of privileged and oppressor people, and victims. This idea that everything is power.”

*   *   *

The methodology underpinning much of the social justice perspective is known as critical theory, which draws heavily on German philosopher Karl Marx’s notion of ideology. Because the bourgeoisie control the means of production in a capitalist society, Marx suggested, they control the culture. Consequently, the laws, beliefs, and morality of society come to reflect their interests. And importantly, workers are unaware this is the case. In other words, capitalism creates a situation where the interests of a particular group of people—those who control society—are made to appear to be necessary truths or universal values, when in fact they are not.

The founders of critical theory developed this notion. By identifying the distorting effects power had on society’s beliefs and values, they believed they could achieve a more accurate picture of the world. And when people saw things as they really were, they would liberate themselves. Theory, they suggested, always serves the interests of certain people; traditional theory, because it is uncritical towards power, automatically serves the powerful, while critical theory, because it unmasks these interests, serves the powerless. All theory is political, they said, and by choosing critical theory over traditional theory one chooses to challenge the status quo, in accordance with Marx’s famous statement: “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

Gradually, critical theorists broadened their attention to other forms of oppression—gender, race, and sexual orientation especially—but the methodology remained the same: to identify the hidden and complex ways in which power and oppression permeate society, and then dismantle them. A simple illustration of this is given in this short video.

The video presents a historical analysis of the word marijuana, showing it to be rooted in ethnic stereotypes of Mexican immigrants. It then argues that using the word marijuana perpetuates an image of Hispanic people as drug-users, and then finally suggests people stop using the word marijuana and instead use the word cannabis, which is Latin and has no ethnic association.

*   *   *

There’s something missing from the social justice narrative though, demonstrated by the situation in Silicon Valley and those other fields I mentioned: it doesn’t take into account the power and oppression it exerts itself. In a society where social justice advocates are outside the dominant power structure—as was the case when these ideas were originally articulated—this doesn’t matter much, since their power is negligible. That’s increasingly no longer the case, as social justice advocates have come to exert major influence over central areas of society, and consequently have also gained substantial power over society as a whole. Clearly, an accurate model of societal power must include social justice ideology and its advocates.

If this seems strange, it’s because social justice advocates have created a portrayal of themselves as being outside the flow of power; everyone else is exerting power or being oppressed by it, while they are simply observing it, and any power they do exert is selfless and unoppressive. Oppression is class-based, we’ve been conditioned to think, or based on race, gender, or sexual orientation. We therefore don’t see the power and oppression exerted by social justice advocates, because it’s based on none of those things; it’s based on values. And there’s nothing selfless about it. People exert power to shape the world according to their values, while preventing others from doing the same. In fact, there are close similarities between value oppression and other forms of oppression.

Take for instance morality. Marx proposed that a society’s morality serves the interests of its ruling class, while purporting to be universal. Capitalist societies, he argued, have a morality centred around classical liberal principles such as the sanctity of private property and the freedom from government intervention, combined with religious virtues such as the Protestant work ethic, self-reliance, accepting one’s lot, and expecting to be rewarded in the afterlife. Workers internalise these values as their morality, thus preventing them from questioning the status quo and improving their situation. Instead, they dutifully work hard without complaining, while considering attempts to change the system immoral. Morality is a tool the bourgeoisie uses to ensure that workers act in its interests, rather than in their own.

An analogous claim can be made of a social justice society, it seems to me. This is most obvious in parts of society where social justice ideology is strongest. In those parts of society, values like equality, liberation, and cosmopolitanism aren’t just treated as values—organisations of society that different people prefer to different degrees—they’re considered moral. Consequently, conflicting values are considered immoral: people who value a more competitive society, or a smaller government, or a stronger national identity, or a tougher culture, or more traditional family structures, or less immigration aren’t just regarded as having different values; they’re regarded as bad people.

This is especially clear in the context of immigration, which is something I’ve witnessed myself. I grew up in a part of Europe undergoing significant changes due to immigration, and I lived close enough to troubled areas to see how working-class people were especially affected by rising crime rates and cultural clashes. Yet there was a virtual ban in mainstream society on people expressing their concerns. Anyone doing so would be met by a unified front of academics, journalists, and cultural figures expressing their moral outrage, wrapped up in sophisticated words and scientific-sounding terminology like xenophobia. (Further implying that being critical of mass immigration is a psychological disorder.) And being morally tainted could have serious consequences for a person’s career and personal relations.

This is unquestionably an exertion of power. Morality is used here by the intellectual and cultural elite as a tool to suppress the expression of values by people they disagree with. By embedding their morality in thick moral concepts like xenophobia, producing academic theories supporting their position, and filling the culture with idealisations of their values, they produce an impenetrable web of power that—combined with the threat of direct moral condemnation and its social consequences—shuts down any expression of alternative values, or even of information that threatens the idealised picture of the dominant values. Hence, you get situations where people in these areas are afraid to come home at night and are wondering how things could have changed so quickly, yet no one is allowed to talk about it. And when someone does say something, they are met with a wave of sophisticated terminology backed by academic credentials that they have no way of parsing. All they know is something is wrong, but they’re unable to parse the academic discourse, and so they’re effectively shut down. And as conservatives and libertarians become increasingly scarce in academia, academia becomes more and more a tool of power to oppress their values.

*   *   *

So, assuming we accept that power and oppression work on values, what do we do about it—should we make conservatives and libertarians protected groups and add them to the oppression hierarchy? No, I don’t think that’s the answer. The larger lesson from including value oppression in our societal power analysis is that it reveals the limitations of social justice ideology. We can’t simply set as a goal to ‘fight oppression’ and ‘dismantle power structures’ because social justice ideology doesn’t just do those things, it simultaneously creates its own power structures and oppression. Social justice advocates don’t see this because their power analysis is incomplete; it doesn’t include value oppression.

Including values in our power analysis makes it clear there can be no such thing as simply removing power, because it takes power to remove power. Consequently, power doesn’t disappear, it redirects. In order to remove what they perceive as oppression—say by class, or race, or gender—social justice advocates have to erect their own power structure. They reshape morality, the culture, the language, and the legal system to make people do what they otherwise wouldn’t. And the more they try to eliminate those other forms of oppression, the more tightly they have to oppress people’s values. To increase freedom on one dimension, one must remove it on another.

This isn’t just theoretical speculation. Some of the most explicitly social justice-oriented societies ever to exist were the communist regimes of the 20th century, and they were characterised by tremendous oppression of their citizens. Why—when the explicit aim of these regimes was to liberate their citizens from oppression—did the opposite occur? The answer, surely, is that they made the same mistake contemporary social justice advocates make: not including themselves in the power analysis. (Which is especially questionable when you’re the dictator.)

This means they could send millions of political opponents and dissenters to prison camps, have a population living in terror of a secret police ready to pounce on any word deemed subversive, erect walls manned by armed guards to prevent people from leaving, yet consider themselves liberators for having reduced class differences. This is what happens when you: 1) base your ideology on the dismantling of power, 2) leave out important dimensions of power in your analysis, including your own exertion of it.

The irony of doing a proper power analysis—not the selective power analysis of social justice ideology, but a complete one—is that you end up with something not that far from the Hobbesian view of human nature that formed the foundation of classical liberal thought, and which social justice advocates dislike. Granted, you have a much better understanding of the way power permeates language and culture and morality, but the underlying idea is still the same: people try to shape the world to their values; these values often conflict; the best way to deal with this is through an open society that allows for free debate and which has mechanisms in place to limit the power of any person or ideology.

Social justice ideology thinks it can remove power from society, but it thinks this only because it omits value oppression from the analysis, which is the dimension in which its advocates are exerting their power. Societal power doesn’t go away, it simply accumulates where there’s a gap in their analysis. In the extreme case, you get the absurd situation of communist dictators proclaiming themselves liberators while running some of the most oppressive regimes in modern history.

*   *   *

Social justice advocates need to acknowledge this and improve their analytical approach. The main problem, I think, is that they’ve been misled by their own rhetoric, especially the notion of criticality—derived from critical theory—that permeates the social justice literature. A common theme is that they are critical, while other people accept things as they are. Some writers have even suggested that social justice advocates are the true inheritors of the Socratic approach to philosophy and/or of Enlightenment thinking.

This confuses two types of criticality. It’s certainly true that social justice advocates are highly critical, but this is not what distinguished the Socratic approach or Enlightenment thought from previous traditions. In fact, the most critical people are usually religious people, especially fundamentalist religious people. Why? Because they have an explicit norm, such as The Bible, to which they can compare everything and criticise whatever doesn’t match up. It’s not criticality that distinguishes Socratic and Enlightenment methodology from religious tradition, it’s meta-criticality: the process of continually digging up one’s assumptions and methods and questioning them, potentially indefinitely. In religion, especially fundamentalist religion, certain beliefs are beyond question; they are sacred and must if necessary be taken on faith. This is what Socratic and Enlightenment thought diverged from, regarding nothing as sacred and treating all beliefs and methods as provisional.

There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach, of course. Explicitly declaring one’s own beliefs provisional reduces the force of their criticism of society or other people’s beliefs, which is part of why religions can be so powerful; they offer certainty and their adherents can criticise everything around them with confidence. Social justice ideology is far more like this than like the Socratic or Enlightenment methodology. Its advocates are highly critical of society and other people’s beliefs, but they mostly reject meta-criticality, often going so far as to shut down anyone who criticises their beliefs.

A recent article by undergraduate student Coleman Hughes describing the teaching style of his two different philosophy courses demonstrate this well. His one course, a standard philosophy course, is full of meta-criticality; all theories are critiqued—often by the professor presenting them—and nothing is sacred. This is the Enlightenment approach that has become the norm at Western universities. The second course, a social justice course that combines intersectional feminism and philosophy, is entirely different; while the professor is highly critical of society, the theories presented are treated as sacred and criticism of them is unthinkable. Hughes compares it to being in a temple. This is neither Socratic nor Enlightenment-inspired, it’s a return to a pre-Enlightenment approach to knowledge where beliefs are sacred.

There is certainly value in analysing power and oppression in society, including the many ways in which they work beneath the surface. But any such analysis must include value oppression, and describe the mechanisms through which power is used to suppress views that dissent from the dominant discourse. And this requires including social justice advocates in the analysis, which invariably means criticising social justice ideology itself. The fact that many social justice advocates try to prevent this should be a major red flag to anyone genuinely interested in the pursuit of truth. Furthermore, as the failures of the many 20th century communist regimes showed all too clearly, there are few things more dangerous than trying to dismantle power structures while simultaneously having major gaps in the framework through which power is identified. It’s a recipe for disaster.

 

Uri Harris is a freelance writer with a Masters in Science (Business and Economics).

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77 Comments

  1. Rod McLaughlin says

    ‘references to psychometric literature on sex differences in personality were “discriminatory and constitute sexual harassment”’

    This is a declaration of war against the west. Joe McCarthy couldn’t exaggerate the degree, and danger, of leftist infiltration of government. ‘Cultural Marxism’ is not a paranoid right-ring conspiracy theory.

    • I assume, drawing from other sources of more reasonable Damore criticism, that the logic is that referring to literature is discriminatory if it is selective and agenda driven. I am not convinced that Damore’s selection meets those criteria – and anyway he is a 26 year-old non-specialist venting on a forum, not a serious researcher that we should hold to the highest standards of scientific reasoning – but let us, for the sake of argument, assume that this criticism is justified.

      Then we run into the next problem. There is no way to read the Damore memo without seeing that the brunt of his argument is that there are many a better way to engage women better. Some of his suggestions are excellent, some misguided – but at the end of the day, i find it fully plausible that in a world of social networking (and making narrow supply meet narrow demand more commercially as well as socially) the stereotypical male nerds would get nowhere without the strengths that women are more likely to bring to the table. The obstacles are indeed partly biological, but also cultural: most computer engineers used to be women until the mid 80s, when computing took on aspects of gaming that attracted mostly men (read that somewhere; the argument made sense at the time).

      If we very much want to attract women and make use of their talents, I honestly do not see why Damore’s ideas, removing some of the edges (like referring to neuroticism in women – true in a clinical sense, but obviously divisive and unnecessary to the argument he was making given the popular definition of the term), and minor instances of amateurish or misguided reasoning, is not the most reasonable, long-term oriented approach to the issue.

      And on leftist infiltration: none of the people on the left that I know actually agree with these extreme sentiments. The problem is more that few have enough incentive or enough courage to speak out about them. Partly because they agree with the objectives (which we all do on some level), but also partly because the right is already doing that, heaping enough vitriol on top to make any association with them unattractive. Is it not remarkable that despite our biologically rooted disgust towards sexual assault and our commitment to justice and civil rights, we now have a metoo debate that sees the left focus only on the former and the right only on the latter? To my mind, most reasonable people would agree on how to address these issues – but the polarised discourse makes people more radical, or at least ostensibly blind to the immense trade-offs involved.

      So I would not say infiltration is the problem. There will always be radicals, and the US right has its fair share on issues like abortion, gun control, and national security (the hysteria and Muslimophobia post 911 was for me, as a European observer, at least as irrational as the extremes of the metoo movement – indeed, 9-11 killed 100 times more people on the road as people opted for the car instead of the plane over the following decade, so the only one who should be celebrating success is Al Qaida). Rather, the issue is a two-party system and a divided country and media that lends itself to polarisation – even on issues where our basic moral instincts and concerns are more or less the same.

      • ga gamba says

        I am not convinced that Damore’s selection meets those criteria – and anyway he is a 26 year-old non-specialist venting on a forum, not a serious researcher that we should hold to the highest standards of scientific reasoning – but let us, for the sake of argument, assume that this criticism is justified.

        This is a mischaracterisation. He wasn’t venting. He attended mandatory diversity training and was told to provide feedback. He did. Probably more so that most others who simply write a few paragraphs and move on. He posted it on one of Google’s in-house smaller discussion groups, received feedback from peers (but not the instructors), and revised. Still no feedback from the instructors. After several weeks he posted it on Google’s most open, yet still internal, message board. Some colleagues noticed it, some hell broke loose, someone leaked it to the press (in violation of Google’s policies), and then all hell broke loose. All his points were supported and footnoted by scientific research. He earned a masters degree in system biology, and was engaged in doctoral-level studies, but didn’t complete his PhD, so he’s familiar with the research. This is a bit more than a vent. Now, you may choose to dismiss his scientific reasoning, but since these points were backed up by academic papers, and he was summarising these papers, you’re now disputing academic research. What are your credentials do to so? How do we know you’re not simply a ____ -year-old non-specialist venting on forum?

        “but at the end of the day, i find it fully plausible that in a world of social networking (and making narrow supply meet narrow demand more commercially as well as socially) the stereotypical male nerds would get nowhere without the strengths that women are more likely to bring to the table.”

        Hmmm… since most social networking is still in written form (wastebook, twitter, message boards, enthusiasts’/gamers’/readers’ forums, etc.) it mitigates the weaknesses of those who are awkward, uncomfortable, and shy speakers. If what you think is “fully plausible”, it’s an irony social networking was invented by these same stereotypical male nerds, presumably socially adverse, who are getting nowhere without the aid of women. Seems this would be the last thing that would cross their minds given their aversion to social interactions. Further, Wastebook has about 2 billion users. That’s somewhere isn’t it? It and Twitter were credited with aiding the Arab Spring. Say what you like, but helping to topple a few autocrats who control militaries and aren’t afraid to issue shooting orders is getting somewhere. We haven’t yet looked at their market valuations. Seems these nerds have gone far. How do you square this circle?

    • While those presently being labeled cultural Marxists do have an agenda, the background of the term “Cultural Marxism” is associated with pre-War Nazi conspiracy theories. Since there isn’t confusion or controversy over terms like “critical theorists, due to its use for self-identification by the intellectuals in question, we might as well use it. “Social justice advocate” is also an unambiguous and uncontroversial term, although pejoratives like “SJW” or “social justice ideologues” are now common.

    • TarsTarkus says

      No, this is a declaration of war against reality and sanity. If men and women were the same, they would look the same, have the same basic genetics (everyone would be XX, XY, or some combination), and act the same, and we wouldn’t be having this lunatic argument. However genetic dimorphism is a fact, and just because someone thinks it shouldn’t be doesn’t make it any less a fact.

  2. Nigel Noname says

    This is a great article. I hope this will be read by the many colleagues in social sciences departments. Unfortunately, I doubt this will happen. I have worked too long as an academic in the social sciences.

    I noticed that many academics in the social sciences actually themselves disagree with critical theoretical approaches to gender and sexuality. They will say so in private, but they stay clear from subjects now dominated by the feminist scholars with a critical approach. Indeed, staying clear from anything related to gender is a wise thing to do for any young social scientist, unless they agree with the standard dogma.

    This because you seriously limit your career progression opportunities. The 2 main problems: You won’t get any grant money! If you want a grant on issues related to gender and/or sexuality, it must adhere to what is today the standard theoretical view; one based on feminist positions, one that assumes that differences between men and women are entirely due to society, one that masculinity is toxic, that sexism is around every corner, that women continue to be enormously oppressed by the patriarchy, and I can go on. This makes that certain questions can simply not be addressed, which is sad but true.

    The second problem is that certain articles can simply not be published. Yes, it sounds crazy, but there are editors and many reviewers who will just block any article that deviates from the orthodoxy. This means that papers either will have to go through endless submission chains at different journals (until you are lucky), or you just give up at some point — not because the papers are bad, but because the ideas are just not acceptable to journals with a focus on gender (e.g., the idea that women are not perpetual victims of a patriarchy).

    Because the critical mass of social “scientists” in these gender-related now almost all seem to follow the same ideology, I doubt this will change any time soon. Why would they? They have created an ideal place for themselves — indeed, they are in full and complete power.

  3. Michiel van Haren says

    Thank you for one of the better overviews of what’s wrong with “social justice” ideology and why. It’s very interesting to see how quickly social justice advocates themselves are targeted and ousted by their comrades the instant they suggest to question, or even just nuance some of the social justice ideology’s fundamental propositions.

  4. Thank you so much for writing this piece, Uri.

    You’ve aptly summarized what bothers me about self-identified social justice warriors. Virtually every encounter I’ve had with these folks results in me being demonized and shouted down – not because of what I have said, but because I dared criticize their presumption of being correct. And I’m far from being some right-wing nutjob.

    It seems like so many SJWs are itching for a fight, and pining for an excuse (however tenuous), to falsely accuse people of being part of this oppressive system that they so despise. It’s bizarre, and nothing like anything I’ve encountered in past discussions. The very fact that you don’t unreservedly support their cause paints you as an opponent to be vilified. No matter how well-reasoned and nuanced your arguments, they find a way to characterize you as the enemy and twist your words, with blazing speed, into something you never said.

    About a year ago, I created a separate Twitter handle to discuss autism, as well as engage in low-key promotion of a book I wrote about growing up as an autistic young person. I was diagnosed as an adult in my early 40s, and have tried to help people understand what that’s like, as well as to educate the general public about what autism looks like. My purpose in going public about my diagnosis wasn’t to attack people, but to share information in a winsome and anecdotal way. How can I get mad at people who simply lack information?

    So I started following a bunch of accounts with autism-related hashtags. I assumed at the time that people on the spectrum would welcome my participation in online discussions. I was quickly disabused of that notion. What I found instead was a community of people who were highly skeptical of anyone who didn’t know their shared language, and who didn’t fit the mold of a social activist. With a few exceptions, everyone I encountered reacted to me with deep suspicion and angry responses. The fact that I didn’t buy into their “victim” narrative was deeply problematic to them. After many failed attempts at civil dialog, I got discouraged and deleted my account.

    I know that’s just one small corner of the SJW universe, but it was enough to show me that something is unbalanced about a mindset that sees everyone else as the problem, without regard for how their actions and attitudes affect the dynamics of our culture.

  5. This was a very thought-provoking piece. I always located the current ideology of the Far Left as stemming less from Karl Marx and more from Michel Foucault and other post-modern writers. But I will definitely take another look now that you’ve brought up Marx’s concept of ideology.

    I’ve taken a look at the James Damore firing, and I feel a bit conflicted about it. On one hand, the culture described sounds very toxic to people not heavily identified with the Far Left and the current application of social justice. As a Leftist myself, I disagree with conservatives, centrists and even some liberals on a number of issues; but I’m appalled at the idea of demonizing them or creating a hostile work environment for them because they think differently from me.

    But I do vehemently disagree with what Damore said and feel that his comments are rooted in gender stereotypes. But firing him for expressing these views sets an incredibly troubling precedent that disallows disagreement and dialogue. Google could have used the situation to create an internal initiative to spark dialogue around gender inequality and gender stereotyping.

    If we on the Left continue to act on the impulse to eject those who disagree with us, we are never going to see the social progress we claim to be fighting for. And let’s not kid ourselves that we only do this to conservatives, centrists and liberals – we do it to each other. We scan each other’s comments for the slightest deviation from the ideology of the sacred church of social justice and burn each other at the take for those deviations. And we engage in ad hominem attacks on the person and their character rather than focusing on disagreement with an idea. I.e. “You’re a sexist asshole.” rather than “I disagree with your point and would argue that your ideas are rooted in gender stereotypes.”

    • Re: “We scan each other’s comments for the slightest deviation from the ideology of the sacred church of social justice and burn each other at the take for those deviations.”

      There’s a pretty clear eyed analysis. How can you continue to associate yourself with such awful, misguided people? How many stake burnings before you are out of there?

      • I’m already out of there, but I don’t think they are awful people. Labelling people with misguided views as “awful people” contributes to the problem. I agree with the analysis around inequality, but I disagree with the approach that demands ideological purity and demands punishment for people who disagree.

    • David Straat says

      “But I do vehemently disagree with what Damore said and feel that his comments are rooted in gender stereotypes.”

      I am curious, what in Damore’s memo did you feel rooted in gender sterotypes? When I read it, I found it fairly balanced. He was explicitly stating that he spoke of gender differences as averages in large populations, not about the traits or capabilities of any specific individuals.

      • I admit that “vehemently disagree” was not an apropos characterization of my reaction; and, yes, part of my decision to characterize it as such is my own conditioning that seeks to appease Leftist orthodoxy. It’s still something I am working on.

        However, statements like these give me pause:

        “I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership.”

        Which “biological causes” precisely can he point to that explains this “distribution of preferences”? Is there really any science to back up a biological link between distribution of preferences/abilities in jobs?

        I agree with his commentary on allowing for more expansive ideas around masculinity, but, I believe that this is about addressing socially constructed norms – not about pinpointing genes or biological characteristics inherent to “men” that “cause” certain traits.

        I don’t think he’s a “bad person” for writing the “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” nor do I believe he should have been fired for writing it. I just simply disagree with parts of it, particularly parts that I believe draw upon antiquated gender stereotypes.

    • “But I do vehemently disagree with what Damore said and feel that his comments are rooted in gender stereotypes.”

      So you disagree with his notion that the gender gap needs to shrink? That the last 15 years of the same SJW bullsht which has caused that gap to grow needs to be replaced with a system that better helps women?

      How could you possibly disagree with that?
      Why do you hate women?

    • Do any of you people know what “right-to-work” is? It means that companies can fire people without cause. California is a right-to-work state, and that’s why James Damore lost. Also, I’ll bet you didn’t know Google also fired a leftist transgender employee for politicking on the job. Please spare me your fake concern-trolling regarding free speech. You only care if its speech that you like. The reality is that companies will fire anybody who rocks the boat, regardless of whether it’s right or left politics.

      • @reddskeletor, you’re confusing right-to-work with at-will employment. Right-to-work refers to laws on unionization and has nothing to do with Damore’s case. Also, at-will employment doesn’t mean a company can fire one if its employees for any reason whatsoever; the cause for dismissal may not violate anti-discrimination laws. So, for example, an at-will employer cannot legally decide it’s going to terminate all workers who are over 45 years old, because age is a protected class under federal law. Furthermore, the state of California prohibits discrimination based on several additional factors, one of which is individuals’ political activities/affiliations.

        That’s not meant to be a statement of any opinion about Damore’s case specifically or whether the NLRB was correct in its ruling, nor is it a statement on Tim Chevalier’s lawsuit. (I assume that’s the leftist you mean.) I just think it’s necessary to be factually accurate if we want anything genuinely constructive to come out of these discussions. The fact is, a company might fire an at-will employee for an ostensibly valid reason or without giving any explanation at all, but if the individual can demonstrate that the real cause was something else, there could be grounds for legal action.

  6. Sigh,
    great article but it appears that Uri Harris has never actually “managed” a group.
    Several items are very clear in the SJ world and others

    ..a) they “religiously believe” what they are saying
    ……Examine want they say and do, and the religious passions of the past 6000 years
    …… are very clearly displayed. They want to be “tribe boss” and everyone else
    …….must kow-tow to them and “follow orders”

    ..b) the “pursuit” of money is the root of all evil
    ….The biggest problem in a modest corporation I was recruited/worked for was when
    …..a few folk “convinced” the bean counters that “hiring from local schools” was cheaper.
    …..Before that, it was the “best of the best” from the “top 20” colleges/universities.
    …..After that, people hired their “friends” because it was “cheaper” and “quicker”,
    …..and, because, they “were hired”, they *must* be the “best of the best”.
    …..Bullying and suppressing YOU worked better than ability.

    .c) “My mommy told me I and the ‘best and brightest’ ”
    …..the first 4 years of new-borns is critical in the programming of a humanoid.
    ….The basic intellectual, skill set, and “tribe” learnings are indoctrinated.
    …..We see, today, the results of urban kids being “protected” and “brainwashed”
    …..about their value and role in the “urban” jungle and how they are “better” than others.

    d) the actual “Strategic Goal” is to get the kids and grand kids off this marble and
    ….out into the universe: Moon, Mars, Alpha Centauri,…
    ….The SJ folk “talk huge stories” about how they are wonderful
    …….yelling and bullying YOU does wonders for their bank account,
    ……but not able to actually “help” as they “religiously follow orders”

  7. In fairness to Marx, he wrote very little about ideology. That comes more from his later followers.

    Marx was concerned more with the ‘dull compulsion of economic relations’ rather than ideology.

    People get up and go to work every day because they have to, whether they believe in capitalism or not. Capitalism might shape ideology but for Marx that ideology isn’t a necessary condition for capitalism.

    SJWs follow the obsession with ideology you find in Marcuse or Althusser because they aren’t concerned with economic realities of having to work in shitty jobs – because they aren’t going to be working in shitty jobs themselves.

    They are destined for high paid jobs within the capitalist system they claim to despise, many for companies that don’t even pay taxes.

    That means they concentrate on inequalities that are not actually contingent on capitalism so they can signal their virtue without endangering their own economic interests.

    There’s nothing socialist or egalitarian about virtual monopolies like Google. They are driven entirely by profit. Recruiting more women won’t stop them collaborating with the Chinese authorities in the suppression of dissidents if it means they get to make money in China.

  8. MitziShin says

    Dr. So is trying imply that we should not call people who sexually harm children child molesters and instead call them minor attracted. We’ll get to the point were Stranger Danger is oppressive to that group and a new topic where the left will be bragging that Toxic Parenting should be wiped out.

    And also the term marijuana is not a derogatory term for Mexican. It’s a term that describes a medical plant.

    • TarsTarkus says

      Cannabis is also a un-PC word to use because it is botanical Latin, and who were the original Latins? White people! (sarc).

  9. Brilliant! The best thing I have read on this topic in over twenty years of interest in the subject. Congratulations.

  10. I am a staunch advocate of “employment at will”. If you, as the guy signing the paycheck, determine that the employee is hurting rather than helping, for whatever reason, then you don’t sign anymore paychecks. Deviate from this and Damore happens. It’s great for the ink stained wretches who write about it, the lawyers who collect their fees, the bureaucrats who justify their existence and the groups who raise money from it but for the rest of us it just sucks the sun right out of the sky.

  11. Frank Tisdale says

    “which is Latin and has no ethnic association”

    Suck it, Roman Empire

    “Use this word, not that word, because this word [has something to do with currently-anointed victim group], and other does not, at least for now”

    … amounts to a vacuous, circular argument based on the pretense that language has fixed implications which – because they are important and/or offensive to the arguer, are supposed to be important and offensive to anyone else. Its nothing but a pathetic-appeal to their own narrow-mindedness, juvenile willingness to use “feelings” as the ultimate basis for claims of authority.

    I’m pretty sure there’s probably some social-justice-seeker elsewhere arguing that science must abandon all use of latin-terms because they reinforce the oppressive notion that Science relies on Western culture and tradition. (which it does, naturally) “Latin is inherently oppressive”.

    You can do this all day, and insist that any term has potential to offend people desperately seeking offense.

    And they certainly will do this, endlessly demanding people submit to their claim of moral authority, because the goal isn’t really the perfection of language or the creation of some child-proof world where no one’s feelings can ever be hurt; the goal is simply to claim authority for its own sake.

    • TarsTarkus says

      And compel absolute, unthinking obedience to their slightest pronouncements on any subject. Stand and cheer with all your might and clap your hands lustily, and don’t ever ever be the first to stop or sit down, or even look like you might.

  12. Wayne Hall says

    As an aside, here is why you should use the word ‘marijuana’ instead of ‘cannabis’.

    Discouraging the use of the word marijuana in favor of ‘cannabis’ constitutes cherry-picking of cultural history. The 1960s counterculture that flowered across the US actively embraced many elements considered ‘forbidden’, ‘subversive’ or ‘taboo’ in mainstream society at the time. Elements of this movement included ideas like ‘black power’, ‘black is beautiful’, long hair for men, the rejection of materialistic lifestyles (“tune in, turn on, drop out”), an interest in the conditions of the poor, Cesar Chavez and rights for migrant workers, ‘ethnic’ and world music, communes, and so on. Even before the 1960s, jazz – a genre of music once considered subversive – and jazz musicians were sometimes the basis of a moral panic over a mythological condition called ‘reefer madness’.

    Marijuana (the recreational drug) came into widespread use despite its illegality, *precisely because* it was taboo. That is a key element of the social history of the use of recreational drugs. Because it was non-mainstream, because it was ‘forbidden’ and illegal, it became popular in the counterculture in order to mock and deride all the ‘hangups’ and taboos of mainstream society. People started to enjoy smoking marijuana, and called it marijuana, partly to mock the xenophobic fears of ‘squares’. Regardless of whether or not marijuana has ever been a significant part of Latino culture, American society at the time also became more accepting, and respectful, of things like Mexican/Latino food, language, music, and so on.

    For many people who grew up in the 1960s, the word ‘marijuana’ will forever be associated with shocked but delighted middle-American white people watching the movies like Woodstock and seeing naked teenagers blowing enormous cigar-sized joints, listening to Santana and chugging back tequila. Or the image of Senator Edmund Muskie, candidate for the Democratic Party’s 1972 presidential nomination, turning down in front of TV cameras a marijuana cigarette offered to him from a member of the youth demographic whose support he was actively trying to solicit.

    ‘Cannibis’ is a nice, medical, sterile, apparently inoffensive word. But it carries no social history. It gives none of the social context or lineage of how the use of a widespread, common roadside plant has caused so much controversy, divison, racism, moral panic, police brutality, hypocracy, unjust incarceration, and sheer misallocation of police and state resources around the world over the past 100 years. If there is a racist origin for the word marijuana, then said racist origin is an argument in favor of the word’s continued use, so that we can be reminded that these attitudes once existed.

    I don’t see a large number of people getting all up in arms and demonstrating in droves over the use of this word. What I see is a very small number of overly fussy and prissy language police, cherry-picking our collective social history, in order to justify their desire to control other people’s language.

  13. “Social justice advocates need to acknowledge this and improve their analytical approach”

    There is no way on earth they’ll do that. When is it those nice souls @quillette will get it? That everyone is going back into line because some random writer is calling for common sense?

    Mr Harris, if you think for one second that anyone who’s on the top of the food chain is going roll over, you’re deluding yourself. On top of having no sense of history. You want the other side to agree with you, and to be happy to agree with you. You’re a wimp.

    Why am I still reading these kind of stuff, I’m not sure.

    • Re: “There is no way on earth they’ll do that”

      No, there isn’t. You can’t reasonably expect people to give up the beliefs and behavior that animate them. Maybe someday individual SJWs will rethink and mellow. But generally, they need to be crushed and kept away from our children to the greatest extent possible, not reasoned with.

      • Finally, some common sense! This SJWs tribe is a mafia financed on public money.

        When is it that Quillette is going to make an essay on the logistics of SJW, instead of vapid pieces like the one above?

        All stories of totalitarian rule are stories of (near) perfect logistics. And they all fell for the same reason. Sloppy logistics.

  14. Last but not least. This Quillette thing is turning into a support group for PTSD ridden seculars.

    Before long, there will be just enough to fill a pub.

    Shame.

  15. Wouldn’t it also be helpful to shine a light on the many flawed and factually inaccurate narratives that social justice adherents perpetuate? Criticizing the social justice ideology itself is great (though I’d also like to see a psychoanalysis of these supposed progenitors of ‘truth’) but this article would also have benefited from using real data. Can we please shut down these ignorant social justice fanatics who perpetuate the white police officer/black victim lies, the campus rape myth, the very real problems of Islamic immigration etc? How about also exponding on the sickening irony of how ‘social justice’ often results in a worse society and higher crime? See the Ferguson Effect. Peace and love.

  16. Nobody of you ever lived in Soviet Union. I lived. After soviet experience you would change and discarded your Marxism. Hope so. It’s time to grow up.

    • Kessler says

      My parents lived in the Soviet Union. A drunkard, incompetent worker would get paid more then my father, who was better educated, more skilled and hard-working, because communism was about equality of outcome. “We pretend to work. They pretend to pay us.” This social justice is the same kind of ideology, that kills human spirit, by removing incentives to work for your success.

      • They kill initiatives. They saying keep low profile, не высовывайся

  17. “We can’t simply set as a goal to ‘fight oppression’ and ‘dismantle power structures’ because social justice ideology doesn’t just do those things, it simultaneously creates its own power structures and oppression. Social justice advocates don’t see this…” This is a mistake. They do see it. They are choosing a side and fighting to give their side the power. They do not mind oppressing the people they call oppressors, just as Antifa does not mind punching anyone they think to call Nazi. As liberals tend to do, you are naively assuming people who say they are against bigotry are on your side. They are not on your side. Marxists shoot liberals. Those are not your friends. Stop playing with them.

  18. This hopelessly, foolishly wrong.

    The belief that our “vulgar unenlightened premodern” ancestors, vulgar meaning those closest to the roots of origin without scientific means of proof, did not know of sex differences, did not know a man accroaching on the image of woman was absurd, and any attempt to validate the masquerade through coercive speech would be constituted as violence against our language is an ahistorical falsehood.

    This is pure revisionism. The Enlightenment is not the solution, it is the root cause of the disintegration. “Communists, Bolsheviks, Revolutionaries, Liberals, Post Modernists, Gender Theorists, Critical Race Theorists” are all heirs of the Enlightenment, because they all work backwards from the Enlightenment’s birthing concept, equality, or rather equality as certainty, and all observations and theories there-within are meant to either prove such or go about the most appalling means to accomplish such. These are all permissive, corrosive, systemisations of erasure and death.

    The Enlightenment was the void, it was a decoupling of not only the mind, but the teleological foundations of the world, and its relations. The Pinkerists, Classical Liberals, Enlightenment apologists are tragically lost, or purposely misleading.

    • augustine says

      Sounds like you are on to something interesting here, but the trail is difficult to follow. What do you propose as a more truthful and fruitful direction?

      • CentristGal says

        This essay might help. Marx was a ‘child of the Enlightenment’.

        http://isj.org.uk/enlightenment-and-anti-capitalism/

        “From these doubts came the radicalised Enlightenment at the heart of Marxism.24
        In the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) Marx and Engels summarised the role of the Enlightenment in the bourgeois revolution: ‘When Christian ideas succumbed in the 18th century to rationalist ideas, feudal society fought its death battle with the then revolutionary bourgeoisie.’ Capitalism needed to free the power of rational thought, but reason is not the possession of single class, and once it became apparent that human beings had the power to transform their world along capitalist lines, the question inevitably arose of a further transformation: ‘The weapons with which the bourgeoisie felled feudalism to the ground are now turned against the bourgeoisie itself”

  19. @Telegram To Miami. Not sure if you to call it marijuana or cannabis. But it’s some killer stuff you have.

    • The Flyoverland Crank says

      Kurt I am to be thanking you for the laughing out loud.

  20. ccscientist says

    Quillette does an amazing job finding good writers, and this essay is amazing. I would even go further: fundamentalist Christians are often quite aware of the arguments against their faith, whereas SJWs have their fingers in their ears and hear nothing.
    One of the consequences of failing to be critical of themselves, is that often the policies put in place by SJW ideology have negative consequences (often easily forseen or predicted), but which the SJW ignore. For example, raising the min wage leads to unemployment, especially of young minority men. College admissions affirmative action has led to many blacks particularly getting accepted into schools where they are not prepared to succeed, and actually flunk out when they could have succeeded at a state school. I personally did not apply to the Ivy League, though I might have gotten in, for just this reason (I’m not a minority person). Rent control leads to housing shortages for low income workers. And so on.
    A second type of consequence is the enforced belief in fake statistics such as 1/4 college women being raped, inflated numbers for homeless populations, etc. These statistics are necessary to maintain the dogma of oppression, and will not be admitted to be false. If blacks are admitted to be progressing economically, the whole oppression narrative blows up.

  21. LFP2016 says

    “references to psychometric literature on sex differences in personality were “discriminatory and constitute sexual harassment”

    Wow, that was news to me. The Damore affair just reach a new low — SJWs now explicitly and proudly identify themselves as anti-science. Disturbing indeed.

  22. ccscientist says

    Some other dogmas of SJW Left: America is the root of all evil, the worst country, but then none of them leave the US for the pleasant paradise they imagine elsewhere. Companies are reaping huge profits, but they never start a company themselves to take advantage of these huge profits. Women make 77cents/dollar of men, but they don’t start a woman-only company to take advantage of this windfall (a 23% cost advantage would really give you a leg up on your competition). And of course, they praise brutal dictators like Castro and Chavez. It is serious blindness.

  23. This is a very agent – focused analysis that ignores the structural influences of behavior. Any individual or group that takes power within a structure that necessitates dominant over others, will become the dominant power. Capitalism necessitates competition, winners and losers. In order to win within a capitalist structure, there must be a loser. Social justice, or any activity whatsoever, within a structure that requires there to be winners and losers, will have a winner and a loser. Cooperative structures, which do exist successfully, minimize the degree to which there are winners and losers. The rules of the game are inherently flawed and will result in the same Dynamics no matter who is on top.

    Actual structural change requires changing how power is arranged, not how it is distributed Within an inherently zero sum structure. The flaws in your argumentation will no doubt lead conservatives to turn this article into a rallying cry against egalitarian social change while justifying further dominance and control.

  24. Pingback: The Grim Joust: a Reply to Ravikant | Cuardach

  25. Epaminondas says

    Anyone who thinks we can “discuss” our way out of this morass obviously has not been reading much history. Once a critical mass of radicalism has been reached, it becomes self-reinforcing. To put it in economic terms, it attains “economies of scale.” The leftist Long March through our legal and educational institutions will not simply fade away. It must be removed. You may not like the idea of counter-revolution, but that is the only way out of this Cult-Marx cul-de-sac we find ourselves in.

    • Kertch says

      This is true, but you need to arm your counter-revolutionaries with a sufficiently strong and well thought-out ideology. Part of the reason that SJ Socialism has gained such momentum is the intentional undermining and disintegration of the old societal ideology and moral structure. Without this “power vacuum” or empty “ecological niche”, SJ Socialism would likely remain a small, unimportant ideological outlyer.

  26. Will Shetterly says

    You err in connecting liberal identitarianism to Marx. Modern “social justice” comes from Derrick Bell and Kimberle Crenshaw and their circle in the Ivy League. Neither Bell nor Crenshaw have any connection to Marxism or socialism that I have been able to find. Bell originally called his approach “racial realism”. It was renamed Critical Race Theory in order to sound more respectable, not because it had any connection to socialist thought.

  27. Robert Franklin says

    Another remarkable oversight on the part of the SJWs is their contradiction of Marx. After all, according to dialectical theory, nothing is forever. History proceeds by theses creating their own antitheses that are then synthesized to create a new thesis. SJWs assume that theirs is the Eternal Truth, but according to their own analysis, it can’t be.

  28. Pingback: New top story on Hacker News: Thinking Critically About Social Justice – Tech + Hckr News

  29. As It Is Written says

    GOOGLE IS A PRIVATE COMPANY: NO FREE SPEECH AT WORK

    Damore took an oppositional stance against the Hierarchy of a Private Company while at work.

    Damore is free to form his own Corporation, & fire his employees who oppose his Hierarchical Dominance by promoting Social Justice at work.

    Damore could have published his ideas outside of work and his employment at Google probably would be unaffected. Damore choose to circulate his Thesis at Google using Google’s email system.

    There is no right of free speech while you are sitting in the offices of a private corporation where you are a paid employee.

    Damore wasn’t being paid by Google to be a Social Conservative Warrior.

    It doesn’t matter whether Damore’s Thesis was fully correct, partly correct, or fully incorrect.

    Google had every right to fire him for taking an oppositional stance against the Leadership Hierarchy of Google, a PRIVATE company, for for assigning to himself a role at Google that he was never hired to do: that of working as a Social Conservative Warrior.

    • Esmon Dinucci says

      An interesting little tirade, but if you read the article, that is not what happened. Having done what he was asked to and been ignored he tried to move up a scale to get someone in a higher plane to respond to him. this is the way it goes with all whistleblowers in either corporate or public institutions,

  30. Brilliant article Uri Harris (again!). The point you make about SJW’s omitting their own value oppression from their narrative is a key one, and I worth meditating upon and remembering when one is under attack for daring not to toe the social justice line.

  31. “for for assigning to himself a role at Google that he was never hired to do”

    Except he responded to a request for input. His manifesto wasn’t completely unsolicited, just more than was bargained for.

    And were the SJWs exposed in his lawsuit’s appendix hired to spend their time politicking and intimdating on the company dime?

    I know I know, private company. If it’s ok by Google that some are free to roam the halls hunting for idioligical opponents to fire and blacklist from the industry, while others are fired for answering the call for input with a scholarly analysis, so be it.

    Kudos to Mr. Damore for taking the arrows in order to allow the rest of us to make more informed consumer decisons.

  32. Pingback: Google and the diversity debate - Page 11 - Hong Kong Forums - GeoExpat.Com

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  34. Grumpy Lemonade says

    Me on a good day: life is great, things are wonderful.
    Me on a bad day: SJWs are communists and we’re all going to die.

  35. Pingback: Quillette: ‘Thinking Critically About Social Justice’ | CauseACTION

  36. Dionysus says

    This is a great article however I doth protest – it does take a rather optimistic view on the SJW’s lack of self-awareness and their motivations.

    They are 100% cognizant of what they’re doing. Regressivism is not a position but a process without morality and there are no ‘gaps’ in their thinking. It always has been about the power and always will be, they all know it.

  37. As It Is Written says

    Google is PRIVATE company.

    That should be the END of the discussion for people who believe in the rights of owners of private property.

    As a private company, Google is free to fire any employee for any reason, other than national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, or familial status.

    Damore was not the owner or founder of Google.

    At Google, Damore sat in a cubicle that he did not own, used a chair that he did not own, used computers that he did not own.

    Damore has (so far) not originated any significant development in science or technology. The founders of Google have changed the World. Damore has not.

    John Galt at least was the inventor of a revolutionary new motor.

    Howard Roark at least was an authentically accomplished architect.

    Both Galt and Roark gave speeches of their ideas, but their prior competence and accomplishments in science or technology gave us reason to respect their ideas.

    Let Damore found a company that surpasses Google, and then people will listen to him, and he won’t have to play the victim.

  38. As It Is Written says

    SOCIAL CONSERVATIVE WARRIORS = SJWs

    The outrage by Social Conservative Warriors at what happened to Damore at Google reveals that they act, feel and think as mirror images of the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) that they hate so much. Social Conservative Warriors (SCWs) say that:

    (1) Damore is a victim of a cruel, unjust world; that he’s a weak, pitiful creature in need of protection, help, comfort, and perhaps vindicating legislation or victory in a lawsuit.

    (2) Damore is part of Victim Class (Social Conservative Warriors)

    (3) Damore’s competence or lack of competence as a computer engineer doesn’t matter; what makes him valuable and important is his membership in an IDENTITY GROUP (Social Conservative Warriors)

    (4) The owners of every privately-owned workplace must allow their workplaces to become a battleground within which Social Conservative Warriors can agitate to bring about the Conservative Utopia. Owners who refuse to accept this must be branded as evil deniers of “free speech.”

    I think that all this shows that the Social Conservative Warriors who are proclaiming Damore to be a victim DO NOT believe in Private Property or Liberty as first principles.

  39. As It Is Written says

    My favorite passage in this good article by Uri Harris:

    “The irony of doing a proper power analysis—not the selective power analysis of social justice ideology, but a complete one—is that you end up with something not that far from the Hobbesian view of human nature….”

  40. As It Is Written says

    DID OPPRESSION ORIGINATE IN 1917?

    “Under capitalism, man exploits man; under communism, it is the other way around.” (old joke from Eastern Europe, quoted in “Journey to Poland and Yugoslavia” (1958), by John Kenneth Galbraith)

    In the period of 1917 to the present, life for most people was always profoundly more just, free, and prosperous in the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, etc.,than it ever was during the existence of the U.S.S.R. (1917 to 1991). Still, it seems incomplete and skewed to write as if oppression first appeared in human civilization in 1917.

    This article seems to suggest that there was no serious, large-scale oppression or injustice in human history prior to 1917. Jordan Peterson, in all his monologues, seems to say the same thing.

    Some SJWs have a blind spot about oppression in the Soviet Union and Mao’s China.

    But some SCWs (Social Conservative Warriors) have a blind spot about pre-1917 oppression in human history.

    It seems that some people on both the Left and the Right select their facts to fit their theories.

  41. As It Is Written says

    Another favorite passage in this good article by Uri Harris:

    “There is certainly value in analysing power and oppression in society, including the many ways in which they work beneath the surface.”

    This certainly sets Uri Harris apart from nearly every Conservative commentator (Jordan Peterson; Ben Shapiro; Dennis Prager; Ann Coulter), for whom ANY analysis for power and oppression in society is labeled as a form of MARXISM that will soon bring on mass murder on par with what was carried out by Stalin and Mao.

  42. As It Is Written says

    DON’T FORGET DARWIN

    I believe that in the Age of Darwin, every philosophical or sociological analysis must keep Darwin’s ideas in mind.

    This is what Jordan Peterson does, and I believe this is the basis of his popularity. Peterson preaches that the evolutionary, biological “structure of life” supersedes everything else.

    I believe that the final passage from Darwin’s “Origin of Species” has great relevance to Uri Harris’ fine reflection on Social Justice:

    “These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction ; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse : a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a STRUGGLE FOR LIFE, and as a consequence to NATURAL SELECTION, entailing Divergence of Character and the EXTINCTION of less-improved forms. Thus, from THE WAR of nature, from FAMINE AND DEATH, the MOST EXALTED object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. THERE IS GRANDEUR in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms MOST BEAUTIFUL and MOST WONDERFUL have been, and are being evolved.”

    Once you really grasp and accept that this passage from Darwin fully applies to human beings as well as to lower animals, I think all hopes of a Better World for All, whether a Conservative’s hopes or a Progressive’s hopes, vanish.

    All there shall ever be, all that there can ever be, is the “struggle for life,” “war,” “famine and death,” and eventually “extinction.”

    H.G. Wells’ “The Time Machine” dramatizes this dismal, Darwinian reality and destiny very well.

    No amount of philosophical or sociological analysis, or preaching by religious, libertarian, or Marxist believers, can overcome the Laws of Biology that Darwin described.

    The Laws of Biology that Darwin described eliminate not just Social Justice, but also Criminal Justice, Libertarian Justice, Divine Justice, and every conception of Justice. Darwinism shows us that Justice is a feeble social/cultural construct. This view is expressed by Thrasymachus in one of Plato’s dialogues.

    Whether there really is “grandeur in this view of life,” as Darwin wrote, is a matter of taste, I suppose.

    But I think most people find this “view of life” to be disgusting and horrifying, not grand. This revulsion accounts for the persistence of religion, fiction, and all the various hopeful, inspiring right-wing and left-wing ideologies.

  43. As It Is Written says

    “THEY’RE REGARDED AS BAD PEOPLE”

    Another favorite passage in this good article by Uri Harris:

    “Consequently, conflicting values are considered immoral: people who value a more competitive society, or a smaller government, or a stronger national identity, or a tougher culture, or more traditional family structures, or less immigration aren’t just regarded as having different values; they’re regarded as bad people.”

    But don’t leading Conservative thinkers, such as Jordan Peterson, play the same game in reverse: They say that those who promote the values of equality, liberation, and cosmopolitanism “aren’t just regarded as having different values; they’re regarded as bad people.” Isn’t this so?

    Haven’t those of us who’ve watched lots of Jordan Peterson videos seen him viciously vilify Progressives in the most direct and personal way, accusing them all of intending to commit mass murder just like Stalin and Mao, accusing them deliberating disguising their Marxism under the name Postmodernism, and accusing them of having serious psychiatric personality disorders?

    • Kessler says

      I think there’s a bit of sleight of hand in your argument, as people like Jordan Peterson don’t regard people who promote values of equality, justice and cosmopolitanism as bad people, but they do so about people who claim to promote such values, while pursuing something different. For example, I would not regard a person promoting equal representation between males and females in all levels of society, as promoting value of equality, as while this makes society equal in terms of gender, it violates the principles of equal opportunity, which I see as superior to equal representation.

      As for issue of mass murder, the ideology of postmodernism encourages feelings of victimhood, grievance and emotion over reason. If people, who believe themselves and certain classes of people to be victims, are empowered by the ideology to control society, it is more likely, they would resort to oppression and violence, which in most severe historical cases resulted in mass murder. It is not that ideology calls for violence, it is that it can reduce people to individuals, so limited and fundamentalist in their believes, that they would resort to atrocities in the name of said ideology. I think any ideology can potentially do this to a person, including conservatism, but right now postmodernism is the most dangerous and powerful in that regard.

  44. The treatment for James and another plaintiff is the same as I was dealt. He was accused for sexual harassment like I was. Any rebuttals were not accepted and the company said they are harassment, too. I was managed to hit the manager through their bullying.

  45. ga gamba says

    This is a well researched and argued piece. Damore’s statements are backed up by the best data we have available. If a freaking technology company staffed by the ostensibly smartest people on the planet can’t frankly discuss gender differences when backed by hard data, who can? What hope does any organisation have?

    Jayme Sophir’s memo states that Damore’s paper contained “stereotypes” that were harmful to women.

    Women score higher on tests of neuroticism (one of the Big 5 personality traits, and, by the way, neuroticism is something that everybody experiences to some degree):

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2031866/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3149680/

    And second, that men have wider IQ variance:

    http://itp.wceruw.org/hyde%20science%2008.pdf
    http://personal.lse.ac.uk/kanazawa/pdfs/PAID2011.pdf
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/269/5220/41/tab-article-info

    One thing I can’t find, however, is anything approaching a peer-reviewed scientific publication that found the opposite results, ones that would support Sophir’s conclusion these are stereotypes.

    What next? “Women give birth.” “Stereotype!”

    One omission I noticed in this article, though. Mr Damore dropped his complaint with the NLRB and decided to pursue civil litigation in California where state law prohibits workplace harassment and termination based on political views, unlike federal law and those in most other states. It seems he has a stronger case since alleged hostility to political views is permitted to be entered as evidence.

    I find it strange that though Damore’s NLRB complaint was dropped, Sophir continued her investigation. Damore filed his complaint in August 2017 and dropped it in September of the same year. Nothing else to do at the NLRB? If so, it appears discrimination has largely fallen by the wayside.

    The NLRB did not issue any finding, though it’s being spun this way by many in the legacy press. Ms Sophir’s is an advice memo, which is simply a recommendation, albeit an influential one, to the board. Here’s the memo, https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4380791-NLRB-Advice-Memo-On-James-Damore.html, and you can see it was written by Sophir and addressed to Valerie Hardy-Maloney, director of region 32. No board ruling was ever made.

    I’ve checked numerous reports of Sophir’s memo and have yet to find one where the reported that contacted the NLRB to ask why the investigation continued despite the fact the complaint was dropped. Is this a customary practice? When a complaint is dropped, how do the investigators proceed with testimony?

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