Conformism, Features, Politics, Top Stories

The Institutionalization of Social Justice

Over the past few years, social justice activists have demonstrated an increased ability to suppress controversial viewpoints. To take a few examples:

A few months ago, mathematician Theodore Hill described in a Quillette essay how progressive groups were able to get a research paper of his on a biological phenomenon known as the “Greater Male Variability Hypothesis” removed from two separate journals, as well as to intimidate his co-author into silence.

Hill’s article was published just a week after another article by endocrinologist Jeffrey Flier, former dean of Harvard Medical School, who described how social justice activists had managed to get an academic journal to initiate a review of an already-published research paper by Brown University medical researcher Lisa Littman on gender dysphoria. Brown also deleted a reference to the paper from its website.

Both Hill and Flier point out that they’ve never experienced anything like this before. Hill wrote: “In my 40 years of publishing research papers I had never heard of the rejection of an already-accepted paper.” Flier noted: “In all my years in academia, I have never once seen a comparable reaction from a journal within days of publishing a paper that the journal already had subjected to peer review, accepted and published.”

Pressure to suppress controversial viewpoints isn’t just coming from external activists. In many cases, social justice activists within organizations have managed to exert pressure.

Last year, Google engineer James Damore was fired after an internal memo he wrote was leaked to technology website Gizmodo, causing an uproar within the company. His resulting lawsuit offered some insight into how social justice ideology has become institutionalized through training programs and lectures, and is now being implemented into a variety of company policies. This extends to Google’s products as well. Podcast host Joe Rogan announced on his podcast in February about having dinner with a highly ranked YouTube executive who, when asked why a user had received a community guidelines strike for putting a video of a conversation between authors Sam Harris and Douglas Murray on his playlist, was told that it must have been “hate speech.” (Murray is a prominent critic of contemporary European immigration policies.)

Ex-Google engineer James Damore. Photo: Andy Ngo

That same person, when asked why videos with psychologist Jordan Peterson are often flagged and demonetized, reportedly responded that he’s “a troublemaker.” Last year, Peterson was locked out of his YouTube account due to allegedly violating its Terms of Service, in the midst of widespread crackdown from YouTube against conservative channels. When Peterson reported the story to a conservative news outlet, his account was restored without explanation. (YouTube is a Google subsidiary.)

It isn’t just Google. A recent survey suggested that intolerance towards non-progressives is spreading throughout Silicon Valley, with one respondent claiming there’s a “concerted purge of conservative employees at Apple.”

It’s important to note, of course, that these are select incidents. Controversial research papers are published all the time. Harris, Murray, and Peterson all regularly speak in front of large audiences without issue. Peterson has sold two million copies of his recent book and is in the midst of a worldwide tour.

But it’s also clear that if the most ardent social justice activists could have their way, these restrictions would become the norm. And given what appears to be an increased ability of these activists to exert influence, especially through powerful corporations like Google and Apple, it would be foolish not to take this possibility seriously.

Indeed, many centrists and conservatives are deeply concerned. Following the forced resignation of Ian Buruma as editor of the New York Review of Books, Quillette founder Claire Lehmann wrote an editorial assuring readers that her publication wouldn’t give in to activist pressure and that its decentralized organization made it tougher to attack. Immediately, several commenters pointed out with seemingly genuine concern Quillette’s dependence on a payment and technology infrastructure run by companies that could be pressured to decline its business.

This isn’t just limited to speech. Under the charge of cultural appropriation, social justice activists (both inside and outside organizations) have tried to use cultural power—and in some cases institutional power—to restrict the clothes people wear and the food they eat.

Following the birth of the #MeToo movement, activists have in many cases succeeded in convincing universities and other organizations to introduce stricter regulations on interpersonal contact. As an example, Netflix has reportedly implemented a set of rules that prohibits lingering hugs, flirting, asking for a colleague’s phone number, and looking at anyone for longer than five seconds.

Recently, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has said it will ban advertisements that encourage gender stereotypes, after reportedly conducting a year-long inquiry into the matter.

In some cases, efforts by social justice activists involve not just restrictions on speech and behavior, but compulsion. UCLA now requires all professors applying for a tenure-track position to submit an “Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion” statement.

Taken together, these incidents suggest a desire by social justice activists to regulate a wide range of speech and behavior and an increasing ability to do so. But what are they ultimately working to achieve? Perhaps the best place to try to understand this is at universities, where social justice activism seems to originate and where the culture that supports it is strongest.

*     *     *

Earlier this year, former Evergreen State College professor Bret Weinstein testified to the US House of Representatives on challenges to the freedom of speech on college campuses. Weinstein and and his wife, Heather Heying—also a professor—left Evergreen last year after they were targeted in a series of escalating student protests that threatened to become violent.

In his testimony, Weinstein claimed there’s a “de facto code of faculty conduct” at Evergreen, where “one’s right to speak is now dictated by adherence to an ascendant orthodoxy in which one’s race, gender, and sexual orientation are paramount,” that student protestors are “unwitting tools of a witting movement,” and that “what is occurring on college campuses is about power and control.”

A VICE documentary report conducted shortly after the protests noted that “many students told us they’ve been hesitant to publicly dissent,” and a former student of Weinstein told the reporter she was “afraid of having a nuanced opinion, because I’m afraid my opinion will be stigmatized.” Evergreen president George Bridges commented that, “there is this issue of what I can say and what I can’t say, and who’s going to dismiss me or demean me for saying it, and that is new in the American discourse.”

These issues aren’t unique to Evergreen. A months-long investigation into the state of free speech at elite private school, Tufts University, by The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education last year found that students have been “systematically investigated, interrogated by police, and punished by Tufts for speech the university claims, generally, to permit,” and that “numerous students told us the campus climate is ‘toxic’ for free inquiry, with a passionate but small and exceptionally like-minded student body attempting to silence ‘offensive’ or disfavored speech—even reporting it to administrators and police, or characterizing it as a literal act of ‘violence.’”

Also last year, writer William Deresiewicz argued in a long essay based on personal experiences that elite private colleges have become “religious schools,” where “[t]o attend those institutions is to be socialized, and not infrequently, indoctrinated into that religion.” There’s a narrowly defined “dogma,” he argued, and to defy it is to commit “heresy.”

Now, there has been pushback against the narrative of campus intolerance from some social scientists, which in turn has led to further counter-arguments. Psychologist Lee Jussim suggested in a comprehensive overview earlier this year that there is an intolerance problem, but that it has been overblown in the conservative news media.

That said, these discussions have naturally focussed on larger incidents where invited speakers have been protested or faculty members fired. The more interesting phenomenon described by Deresiewicz and Weinstein is a shift in the everyday culture on campuses, characterized by students policing themselves and others according to a narrowly defined dogma. Consequently, this policing is not primarily directed at conservatives, but at other progressives.

But why care so much about what’s happening on college campuses? In his testimony, Weinstein suggested this “happened on college campuses first because colleges are soft targets,” and is now spreading to other institutions, including “the highest levels of the tech sector and the press,” with the courts not far behind. There’s good reason to pay close attention to highly progressive colleges as a potential window into the future. Indeed, this does appear to be happening, as described earlier.

*     *     *

How do we make sense of this? It might seem strange to invoke French philosopher Michel Foucault, since he is often associated with the contemporary social justice movement, but few people have been able to understand and critique conformity as well as him. If we want to understand why so much conformity is being produced in progressive environments, and why it is spreading, Foucault is a good place to turn.

I would argue, in fact, that many of the mechanisms that Foucault characterized as producing conformity in the earlier criminal justice system have close analogues in what we might describe as the emerging social justice system. Two are especially central:

  1. Individualized Reformation

Conformity comes from people adhering to shared norms, which have existed throughout history. But what changed with the modern criminal justice system, Foucault argued, is the focus on reformation rather than punishment. This shift brought with it a methodology of categorizing and studying criminals as individuals so that they could be reformed more effectively. The more individualized the analysis, the more tailored the reformation process could be.

So, while individuality is often celebrated as an accomplishment of modernity, Foucault pointed out that it could actually be used as a tool to produce more conformity. By examining people as individuals, one can determine more precisely how and why they deviate from the norm and figure out more accurately how to make them conform.

And indeed, what separates contemporary social justice activism from earlier approaches like Marxism is the extent to which it has become more fine-tuned, most notably through the development of the analytic framework of intersectionality. What characterises intersectionality is that it allows for many dimensions of privilege. In principle, each person has their own unique combination of privileges.

This individualized conception of privilege clearly has its advantages over, say, the sweeping class accusations of former communist regimes, which in many cases condemned people for privileges they didn’t have, but it also has its downsides. The more precisely privileges can be specified, the more precisely they can be corrected for. So, while this might be more effective at reducing inequalities, it’s also more effective at producing conformity.

Kurt Vonnegut illustrated an extreme version of this idea quite vividly in his dystopian 1961 short story Harrison Bergeron. In the story, equality laws require that every person be fitted with “handicaps” that make them equal. These handicaps cover a variety of different personal traits. While satirical, it demonstrates the notion of individualized equality-enforcement. The more accurately a person’s privilege can be ascertained, and across the more dimensions, the more accurately the handicap can be designed to correct for them.

Of course, no social justice advocate thinks like this, but the principle is similar. An example is the “progressive stack,” which attempts to rank various combinations of privilege and directs people to speak in reverse order.

More importantly, people can be reformed through privilege training, which can be broken down into specific types of privileges based on race, gender, sexuality, class, and many other dimensions. People are taught their specific privileges and how to correct for them. The more their privileges can be broken down and individualized, the more precise the reformation process can be.

(A video assembled by Evergreen alumnus Benjamin Boyce demonstrates this kind of reformation process. Footage of a staff meeting showing staff members standing around in a circle while a white staffer says: “I refuse to let whiteness consume me.” At that same meeting, staffers were asked to play “the believing game” if they had questions about a proposed equity plan and to board a metaphorical canoe to signal being on-board with the plan.)

  1. Self-governance.

Before the French Revolution, Foucault showed that criminal trials were conducted in secret and were often quite arbitrary due to the absolute power of the monarchy and its appointed judges. After the Revolution, there was an emphasis on making criminal justice as transparent as possible.

This, of course, had many benefits. Yet, a by-product of it was that regular people became more familiar with the system; to some extent they internalized the system and became participants, rather than subjects. The logical conclusion of this was represented in British philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, a hypothetical prison where the prisoners could be watched at all times, not just by the guards but even by the general public. The Panopticon represents the idea of the transparent and democratized criminal justice system, instituted during modernity, taken to its endpoint.

Here, again, there are obvious parallels to social justice. In fact, far more so than criminal justice, social justice is conducted in this fashion. Activists internalize the norms of social justice and monitor their surroundings for people violating them. College campuses, and increasingly social media and even broader society, are becoming more Panopticon-like, where everyone is observing everyone else for violations of the rules of social justice.

What’s interesting is that there is very little formal authority directing this. Students internalize the rules of the system and essentially become its agents. They perform the work that in the criminal justice system would fall to judges and prosecutors, but because they’ve internalized the norms of social justice, they do it entirely of their own accord, providing them with a sense of purpose.

Even more interestingly, perhaps, is how academics, especially in the social sciences and humanities, do what in the criminal justice system would fall to lawmakers. Because social justice is essentially defined by a single norm—equality—defining its laws is reduced to identifying behaviors that produce inequality. So, passing laws in the criminal justice system is replaced with identifying behaviors that produce inequality. Here, also, this is mostly self-motivated as academics too have internalized the norms of social justice.

So, what for criminal justice is a vertical system of lawmaking and prosecution becomes for social justice a horizontal system, where academics identify inequality-producing behaviors which are passed on to activists, who monitor society for these behaviors and utilize shaming and other mechanisms to punish the people who perform them.

There are other similarities one could point to. For example, Foucault pointed out how crime novels and other cultural products helped reinforce the legitimacy of the criminal justice system in the eyes of regular people. Something similar could be said about contemporary social justice-oriented books and movies: they both reinforce and help legitimize the system.

Also, there is the notion of docility. Foucault showed how the criminal justice system inherited military methods of discipline and combined them with scientific insights to develop practices to make criminals docile and thus more receptive to being reformed. Here, also, there are parallels to social justice. Privilege training, implicit bias training, and other forms of training function as a means of disciplining people to become more docile over time and thus less resistant to social justice reformation, even when faced with severe accusations.

*     *     *

These parallels are interesting, I think, because they suggest we might be experiencing an institutionalization of social justice in a way we haven’t seen before, perhaps mirroring the development of the modern criminal justice system, which it might eventually replace, at least in part.

Here it’s useful to realize that, while the modern criminal justice system with its transparency and democratized lawmaking seems natural, it’s a very recent phenomenon. There’s nothing in principle preventing something similar happening with social justice.

As part of this process, contemporary social justice has increasingly let go of what now look like naïve Marxian ideas of revolution and universal liberation. Instead, it has solidified from within to encompass large parts of society, from academia to the culture to major corporations to the legal system to politics, while adopting a more incremental and pragmatic approach. This is what happens when something becomes institutionalized.

But there’s a lot to be concerned about. The extent to which highly progressive universities have become conformist and dogmatic as they have adopted this is troubling. But we can now see why: use of analytic individualization tools to reform people of their privilege combined with a self-governing structure where people internalize the norms of social justice and continually monitor themselves and each other for violations is bound to produce a high level of conformity.

Yet, even these concerns of conformity and suppression of dissent pale in comparison to what might happen as technology continues to develop. China, which has already instituted a system of social credit combined with wide-ranging surveillance technology, provides a glimpse of this. This could become totalitarian very rapidly, especially as governments continue to work with Google, Facebook, and other technology companies to regulate speech.

Feature photo by Andy Ngo.

Uri Harris is a freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter @safeortrue.


  1. harrync says

    I don’t think it is fair to true social justice advocates to call these people “Social Justice Warriors”. Some of them may actually favor “social justice”, but their actions as described are not advancing social justice, just suppressing free speech. It would thus be more accurate to describe them as “Free Speech Suppressers”.

    • Sydney says

      Or, even more succinctly but still factually, tongue depressors.

      • Innominata says

        “It would thus be more accurate to describe them as “Free Speech Suppressers”…”

        This seems a circular discussion and not quite balanced to me.

        Except for the fraction of a fraction of uber-libertarians and anarchists who really believe one should be able to say ANYTHING to anybody, virtually everyone wants speech restricted; even if it’s only to restrain those who scream threats of physical violence at others, say lewd things to children, or those who share their organization’s trade secrets or state secrets with rivals and bad actors (that is “intellectual property theft” and “treason”).

        So virtually everyone believes in freedom FROM speech in some regard. The social justice crowd has a much different definition than we’ve had in the past.

        The American founders seemed to believe that freedom FROM speech should be as circumscribed as possible, to allow as much discourse and healthy dissent as possible.

        Nevertheless, America’s freedom from speech ballooned through its history. American evangelicals, fundamentalists, and social crusaders passed laws banning the writing of works with profanities, obscenities, abolitionist ideas, sexually explicit content and libertinism, atheist and religiously critical ideas, communist and anti-capitalist ideas, pacifist ideas, fascist ideas, among many others.

        Now, the chickens are coming home to roost. The American population has been acclimatized to have freedom from speech; and a new brand of social fundamentalists, evangelists, and social crusaders have seized the machinery and are coopting it to suppress their version of obscenity (“hateful”, racist, sexist, etc. utterances), economically harmful ideas (unfettered capitalism), harmful ideas on war (colonialism and imperialism), religiously critical ideas (Islamophobia), and harmful ideas about sexuality (homophobia, transphobia, promulgation of traditional family and sexual values, anti-abortion, etc.).

        The more things change, the more they stay the same. In fact, one of the most popular arguments is EXACTLY the same in both movements: “We must not allow this speech, because it corrupts young minds!” And of course the Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests said the same thing about the speech of that disruptive and dirty Nazarene.

        Will we always be in the frying pan or the fire? Or can a society find a way to keep the desire for freedom from speech running amok?

        The driving force behind both instances of overreach seem to be the emotions of fear, resentment, disgust, outward-facing blame, and narcissism (egoism). Emotions can’t be legislated. So we talk it out, or better yet lead by example, the most potent solution to change someone else’s emotions (I have often thought of this when I see an overwrought mother yelling at her kid to “calm down!”).

        That, or we just keep screaming at one another to calm down.

        • Der Gorghast says

          Great reply. Sortuv. Essentially TLDR

          … however you err in the lede The First amendment is clear – government may not abide the “abridging the freedom OF speech”.

          The rest of your article built on the fake “FROM” thesis = fail.


          Too bad!

          • @ Der

            No, Innominata get an “A.”

            In the US, the scope or range of what might be covered under the term “free speach” has vasty expanded since Gitlow v NY (1925).

            Prior to Gitlow, the 1st Amendment did not limit the states and both state and the federal governments routinely suppressed unwanted speach and publications.

            Innominata’s summary is accurate.

        • Πέτρος says

          BAHAHAHAHA! “Same as it ever was.”

          “We are not your old, hidebound, bigoted Pharisees and Sadducees; we are the new, improved, nothing-like-the-one-before Pharidducee Reformed Alliance! 2.0 Deluxe Edition!”

          Didn’t the Pythons do a bit kind of like that? “Life of Brian”, I think? Those wise limeys.

          But remember the scribe who did hear, and said, “Well spoken, teacher … to love the neighbor as oneself is more than all holocausts and sacrifices [e.g. outward-facing blame].”

    • D-Rex says

      We shouldn’t call them warriors anyway really, the idea of a warrior has a certain nobility about it that these people certainly do not possess.

      • No, the expression means that it’s literally WAR. That’s key to this horrible movement.

      • It’s an ironic term like ‘armchair general’. It’s not meant to imply they aren’t a bunch of pussies afraid of the mildest criticism let alone armed opponents.

    • ga gamba says

      I have a novel idea. How about the pursuit of justice rather than the double-speak gobbledegook of social justice. At the very least it’ll restore a framework of sanity to the process. At it is now, progressives, especially those engaged in social justice grooming, don’t bother attempt even the pretense of consistency. It’s a large bundle of completely contradictory rules, and what determines the operative is what advantages the progressive at the given moment.

      • A C Harper says

        “It’s a large bundle of completely contradictory rules, and what determines the operative is what advantages the progressive at the given moment.”

        It appears very much like courtiers scrambling for position and patronage amongst themselves, using intersectionality rather than fashion. Yet still the Emperor has no clothes.

      • Of course, all lawyers in the anglo-sphere know that justice is a process, not a result.

        • Der Gorghast says

          EK 🙂

          Sadly it is not clear to me what “all lawyers” know?

          Is their understanding premised on knowing justice as it arises out of truth & fact, or simply a knowing process?

          Probably theirs is a sophistic process.

          A process that serves lawyers…in the baffled consternation of all else.

          Society is orderly ??????? lawyers, not ??????? of lawyers?

          Show us otherwise …

          • @ Der

            It follows from the presumption that the law itself is just and so justice is done when the process is followed. Lawyers are not philosophers.

            In the anglo-sphere only juries and congress or parliament have power to decide the law itself is unjust.

      • Alan D White says

        We have courts for civil justice and courts for criminal justice and now it seems we need courts for social justice together with thick volumes of social justice case law. and large contingents of social justice lawyers and judges. Great for the law profession…

        • Der Gorghast says

          What is your etiology that dictates that social justice is not adequately & well contained as a subset of criminal & civil justice law, and therefore NEEDS its own unique ring fenced circus?

          Because trannies cannot pee where they want to?


          Trannies cannot defy the laws of biology?


          That Out-of-African’s the world over are incapable of the steatopygian TWERK?

      • Evander says

        @ga gamba

        Do you mean ‘the pursuit of justice’ within society at large or within the university? If it’s the latter, you’re stuck with the same problem of an entrenched (and self-perpetuating) group defining ‘justice’ on their terms.

        From own experience, whenever social justice elements were included into a university subject, it suffered intellectually. The priority is the propagation of official morality, not free inquiry.

        One of the subjects in my graduate teaching course was entitled ‘Special and Inclusive Education.’ In the very first tutorial, students were issued with a Mosaic lexicon of right and wrong words and phrases. That document received no critical discussion; compliance was taken for granted. The penalties for divergence were obvious.

      • harrync says

        @ ga gamba – harrync here, the guy who started this firestorm. “Worker in the pursuit of justice.” Yeh, I like that. A little long, but accurate. My “work” includes volunteering with the “Feed the Kids” program at the local Boys and Girls Club [it makes some of my co-volunteers feel good; me, I get depressed that this is needed in a country as wealthy as the US. But I still show up to pitch in.] I also give to our county’s “Dream Scholarship” program. In my state, even if you are an honor graduate of your high school, if you were brought here across the border as, say, a one or two year old, you have to pay out-of-state tuition. The scholarship supporters include everything from Catholics, to Episcopalians, to Unitarian Universalists. [No Southern Baptists, I’m afraid.] It makes up some of the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. By a quirk of fate, currently I am the person who actually signs the checks for these Dream Scholars. Proud to do so.

      • Steve says

        “I have a novel idea. How about the pursuit of justice rather than the double-speak gobbledegook of social justice.”

        They have redefined “justice”. Ergo from their perspective they are pursuing justice, whereas you and I are hindering it.

    • Michael Joseph says

      Social Justice Warrior, sounds noble but could become simply another term that sounds good yet labels oppressors. Alternatively, don’t we just love succinct catchy labels. Like replacing the word soldier with warrior when Bush and Cheney expanded a righteous military action in Afghanistan to a debacle in Iraq. There are cute catchy labels on all sides.

    • Warriors also implies some level of honor and even decency toward one’s opponents. Social Justice Terrorists perhaps?

    • scribblerg says

      Please, do not use the “No True Scotsman” defense here, that’s absurd. For common ground, can we say that say Judith Butler meets your definition of a social justice warrior?

    • Calling them “social justice warriors” or the “regressive left” is just clickbait pandering to an outrage machine, but all of these ridiculous names don’t really capture their true nature. They have an intense presence in communities historically associated with Puritans and their decendants, and I think that explains in part why, for example, it’s never a place like Arizona State that makes the big news for a ridiculous protest, even though that is a very large university.

      While formal religion has mostly disappeared in these communities, the spirit of Calvinism lives on. It’s not really “suppressing free speech” so much as building a utopia; a kingdom of God on the Earth and that means burning the witches. Of course, the difference between utopias and dystopias is none at all.

    • MadKangaroo says

      I’m partial to “vicious bigots”. Just plain “bigots” for short, but the word lends itself to a variety of modifiers: Vicious, Sanctimonious, Scolding, Facist etc.

    • Nick Ender says

      I agree. It’s really unfortunate that social justice is the term used to identify this movement. In fairness it is the term the SJWs have adopted themselves. I recently saw a poster to participate in a “social justice” event at my local university. They had a picture of what appeared to be a 1960’s civil rights march on the flyer. They really do see themselves as the inheritors of the civil rights movement.

    • Lee Hickman says

      “Free Speech Suppressors” is a very accurate description! The 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to the unwashed masses – just to the SJW’s!

  2. Got to love woke bro’s. That poor fellow in the picture accompanying the essay thinks he is going to get women with that sign. He is sadly mistaken.

  3. thefrankest says

    I really enjoyed this thoughtful essay. How to make sense of all this? There certainly is a historical element of explanation, a growing movement now perhaps reaching new and shocking heights of power– the power to suppress, the power to silence. The question for me is–will all this really produce the kind of utopian reality the academics pushing this stuff think they are creating? Will all the social and economic and environmental challenges facing humans be solved? Will we all live in harmony— sharing all the world—–? There is no doubt that Karl Marx’s fantasy about the proletarian utopian new world order sounded good. It sounded good enough to millions of people to embark on the road to nowhere but misery, fear, injustice and most importantly –a world of SUPPRESSION OF FREE SPEECH. Hence we see the problem at hand. Perhaps there is meaning in this world after all and something truly worth fighting for?

    • D-Rex says

      The soviets actually thought that capitalism would destroy the US and by extension, the west. When they realised this wasn’t happening, they infiltrated American universities with communists and mounted a gradual takeover that continues to this day with Stalin’s “useful idiots”.
      These people are not trying to create a utopian society, they are trying to cripple and destroy the west so that Russia can just come in and take over.
      Watch this video: “” Yuri Bezmenov: Deception Was My Job.

      • Michael Joseph says

        At least you were smart enough to update the nemesis to “Russia”. So what’s the plan when they take over? They going to institute Putin’s special brand of capitalism where we all carry on as usual and just give him our profits?i

        • Ray Andrews says

          He isn’t planning a takeover, he simply wants us to rot.

      • Alan D White says

        If true, that is more a comment on the gullibility of American academics than anything else

      • Ray Andrews says


        Naturally we long for some ‘simple’ and external explanation. Your theory is perfectly plausible even if it’s not correct, or at least if it’s not the whole truth. Sure, what better way to destroy one’s adversary that having him rot out from inside? Rather like catapulting plague victims over the walls during a siege. I don’t put it past the Commies or Putin.

        But my theory is that the major vector is that the Davos people have decided to divide and conquer. Brilliantly, they have figured out that the best way to divide a society is to homogenize it with folks from around the world who have nothing in common with each other and thus are unable to mount any sort of defense. Follow the money. Who subsidizes our universities? Cui Bono?

    • Alan D White says

      “…There is no doubt that Karl Marx’s fantasy….sounded good.” Possibly to today’s social justice warriors but to anyone who knows world history since 1917

  4. Nicolas says

    In a case of bemusing irony, Vonnegut denied that Harrison Bergeron means what it quite obviously does.

    • jakesbrain says

      Vonnegut’s contention was that “Harrison Bergeron” was not This Is What The Progressive Left Wants To Do To The Country, but more like This Is What The Paranoid Right THINKS The Left Wants To Do To The Country, Ha Ha Ha Isn’t It Silly, Also F–k You Ayn Rand.

      • Michael Joseph says

        But doesn’t affirmative action work similarly to Bergeron’s world? Of course you’re not physically handicapping people, however, it economically handicapped people who had more talent. I think the story is right on as a metaphor.

      • JWatts says

        If so, (and I don’t really doubt it), it marvelously backfired on him.

  5. Andrew Leonard says

    Because social justice is essentially defined by a single norm—equality—defining its laws is reduced to identifying behaviors that produce inequality. So, passing laws in the criminal justice system is replaced with identifying behaviors that produce inequality.

    The contrast of social justice with criminal justice is interesting, but another way of looking at this is in economic terms.

    Basic economics instructs us that the economy is there to produce goods and services. What appears to have occurred is that the economy is now seen as producing goods and services and statistics. Rather than statistics being used, and only used, to measure economic output, certain statistics are now regarded as part of the output.

    Women in STEM is the classic example. The economy must produce an outcome of at least 50% female participation in STEM roles, otherwise the economy is regarded as functioning in an unjust manner. To question this is like questioning the desirability economic essentials – something only a truly perverse mind would suggest. By contrast, the promoter of correct statistics can marinade in their moral goodness, at the mere thought of supporting numerical outcomes that bring aesthetic joy to the minds eye of oneself and ones comrades.

    The are severe problems with the notion of statistics as output, however. The scope and range of desirable statistical outcomes is infinite, and therefore so is the scope for disputes. Pushing for a preferred outcome costs little or nothing, in contrast to goods and services, which cost money. This results in infinite “demand”. The other issue is that the change from money purchases to political pressure, requires a corresponding expansion of political power. The expansion of political power then results in competition for access to this expanded power. Who is most likely to succeed in such a struggle – those at the bottom of the intersectional framework, or those at the top?

    How obvious is it now that intersectional and political correctness dogma exists for little more than a justification for a political power grab?

    • Peter From Oz says

      Well said Andrew. I like your point that the progressives want the economy to produce statistics. It riffs off the fact that so many of our people are really ignorant of commerce and find profit making vulgar. They have been imbibed with the civil service mindset where success is not determined by profit, or even by the results of government programs, but by the size of the budget and the number of civil servants employed by the relevant department.

      • Even the notion that government’s role is to enhance the economy rather than provide the level playing field where citizens run the economy.

      • Andrew Leonard says

        Thanks Peter.
        I think ‘statistics as output’ betrays a lack of intellectual discipline.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Andrew Leonard

      Are we reminded of the five years plans? Never mind real progress, pig iron production has risen to 500,000 tons as planned. Mao did something similar with the Great Leap Forward — millions might starve, but pig iron production did increase. Here: GNC (Glorious News Comrades) female electrical engineers have risen to 30%.

      • Andrew Leonard says

        @Ray Andrews

        Excellent observation. The intellectuals of that era celebrated the statistical outcomes, and ignored the startvation. What is being ignored this time?

  6. joh tramzon says

    When applying for professorships in Germany, I was also asked for equality and diversity statements.I have no idea what to write in such sections, except stating that one fully supports all efforts to get more gender diversity, and ideally point to one’s own contributions in this regard.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @joh tramzon

      I have a solution: ‘Trans’ to other races! If I am whatever gender I want, why can’t I be whatever race I want? We just get sufficient numbers of Asian students applying to Harvard to trans to negros and, as if by magic, all quota problems are squared.

  7. Nearly Normal Frederick says

    Meanwhile even if there is such a monolithic left-wing social justice movement it does not have anything remotely like the Proud Boys, Incel, Stormfront etc etc. Nor anything like the 250 or so right wing armed militias.
    Are there any left wing militias?

    And who or what does exercise real control over the people altogether.

    If there a left wing equivalent of the Klu Kluk Klan, the John Birch Society, or Charles Coughlin

    Many of these militias are full of murderously reasonable intentions, and waiting for the right moment to “cleanse” the USA body politic of non-conformists, as defined by them.
    Furthermore the various legal law and order institutions in the USA, namely the local police, the
    national guard, the FBI, the CIA etc, and the military too are are generally right wing in their sympathies, and their actions too – have you read the news!
    Always have been in fact, the FBI under J Edgar Hoover was a classic example of this.

    Since Sept 11 there has been a hugely enormous growth of the security state apparatus involving many private companies.
    How many of these companies would be even remotely left wing or progressive in their world-view.
    There are now more private security officers than official state police.

    • You must be as high as a kite to think that “Incel” is an organised militia, while completely ignoring the regular destruction, violence, intimidation caused by Antifa. They basically control Portland OR with the approval of their Mayor.

      • TheSnark says

        Nick, I live in downtown Portland, AntiFa does not control anything. They are a couple hundred spoiled kids playing at revolution that need to be spanked and have their allowances taken away. Their only virtue is that are from the city, whereas the Proud Boys and Patriot Prayer groups are a bunch of out-of-state thugs coming to Portland looking for a fight.

        Every few weeks these two groups get together to get mad at each other, run around a few blocks of the city for a few hours, and then go home. It’s a marginal bother, but the national media portray is as city-wide riot. For anybody who remembers the late ’60’s, these “riots” are a joke.

        By the way, Nick, antifa hasn’t been caught with guns yet. Patriot Prayer and Proud Boy regularly carry their (admittedly legal) guns with them.

    • Dave B says

      Oh Good Lord, are you kidding? Never heard of Antifa? Never heard of the constant attacks on conservatives in public, such as the recent threats against Tucker Carlson and his family at his home? How about the threats against GOP congressmen by the BIG25left? The congressman shot by a leftist a year or so ago. Never heard of these? And as far as the right-wing is concerned, the KKK? Really? There are an estimated 6000 members today, down a bit from the 4,000,000 members in the 1920’s. You probably believe that Trayvon Martin was an innocent 12 year old and that Michael Brown was a “gentle giant”. That’s what you get from reading the NYT and other leftist mainstream “news”.

    • This Guy says

      “Meanwhile even if there is such a monolithic left-wing social justice movement it does not have anything remotely like the Proud Boys, Incel, Stormfront etc etc. Nor anything like the 250 or so right wing armed militias.
      Are there any left wing militias?”

      My takeaway: you tell us how it is, then explicitly state you in fact don’t know what you’re talking about. That … is a fascinating way to argue. I must look into this. If it works … much less reading for THIS guy!

      And to answer your question: Yes, and I have met them. They are called “Faculty hiring committees.” They are less noticeable because they arm themselves with sheepskins rather than rifles. But it doesn’t mean they aren’t looking to cleanse their environs of “them.”

    • Both the radical left and radical right want to use the coercive monopoly of government force to implement their authoritarian agendas. The common good and equal protection replace special interests and focused tax incentives to benefit the few: socialism and fascism are just branches of the same call for authority to rule over “messy humanity.”

    • Evander says

      @ Frederick

      Why the extended tu quoque? Hardline rightist groups aren’t a good thing. Neither are hardline leftist groups like Antifa. Members of both groups have been arrested for violence. Good. Civilisation is threatened when violence becomes a mode of political discourse. It has no place in our society.

      Why can’t you criticise your own side? This article is about a left-driven push to censor left and right-leaning people who don’t align with the most up-to-date and pure dogma of The Movement, however loosely defined. The penalty is purification.

      Where do you stand on free speech?

    • Stephanie says

      If you’re aware of Proud Boys, but not aware that they came about because conservatives were tired of getting beat up by antifa, chances are you’re consuming the same propoganda that fuels antifa.

  8. Pando says

    A “Society of Propagation” and the notion that “Social Justice” is some “New” phenomenon. The only thing new in this Communal Delusion is Technology and of course an underlying effort by an obscured Source; The New Mob with a collection of “Golden” ideas dug from their fantastical Utopia ( I’m not sure; But, not much different than a Golden book found buried in a back yard ).

    Community Policing based upon the propagation of Mores and it’s reality –

    Truly, is there a difference within the Tribunal for a Mob? Should we be asserting a complexity to what is Human within our collective experience?

    Consider the lengths to which Pharmaceutical Companies will go to Market a product and raise your awareness to the onset of Neuro Stimulation –

    Now consider the interactive use of such a device within Communities and Social Networks. Frightened yet?

    Beyond the Dystopian nightmarish thoughts provoked; Christian Crusades, Indian Concentration Reservations, Nazi uprisings, Plagiarized Tales to drive “Snakes” out and A Golden book buried in the backyard; I’d say we should be more than concerned.

    Truly, I apologize for my Rant; But, it sickens me. The Tuskegee Airmen given Syphilis, Innumerable children Sterilized in North Carolina and we remain unaware and somehow befuddled. How many are wandering around with a resonant noise in their ear and the secondary symptoms that would accompany that kind of Induction? I’m thinking more than we realize.


    • ga gamba says

      The Tuskegee Airmen given Syphilis

      Ah, when the poorly informed combine two separate groups of two separate events, adds an action that never happened, a creates a new fictional reality. The cocktail of confusion.

      • Pando says Choice, Force or Coercion? No informed Consent. Choice, Force or Coercion? No Informed Consent.

        Confused? There are innumerable examples available. Each demonstrates a lack of what? Is there some “Complexity of Nuance” that is difficult to understand?

        Social Platforms : Google, Apple, Facebook, WhatsApp etc. etc. Choice, Force or Coercion? Passive Consent and the never ending Coercive application of the “Disclaimer”. Have any truly read any of it? All without Regulation, Traffic Lights, Stop signs or Crosswalks. Another “Complexity of Nuance”? Pump the Brakes taking on some new meaning?

        Medical Tech has little to no regulation at all. In fact, combined evolving Tech requires a very low threshold that can be applied after proven failure.

        “Social Justice”, and “The Milgram experiment”. Choice, Force or Coercion?

        It isn’t just a matter of the “Tongue depressor”/Oppressor. Cell phones, Connected Tech and an evolving set of coercive tools.

        This- is not Health Care without Informed Consent.

        Meaningful Conversation can’t happen when it is Forbidden, Forced or Coerced.

        Thank you Uri for raising Awareness.

        I need to Lay down; My left ear is resonating, my upper jaw is sore and the left side of my skull is numb. Add Uni/Multifocal muscular twitching, drainage from my tear duct, exhaustion and it begins to form a snapshot. This conversation doesn’t begin and end with speech or Tech.

        I am a Human Being; Nothing Human is Alien to me.

      • xyz and such says

        Not only are the ‘Tuskegee Airmen’ not the same thing as the Tuskegee syphilis experiments- and this is not in any way to say that the tuskegee research wasn’t horrific and a good case for the problems of institutionalized racism – but no one was ‘given’ syphilis, they had the disease and were not treated for it.

        It matters to understand what happened and what is and isn’t true. Once people start making ‘facts’ up to rationalize their arguments, those arguments become unstable and weak, and you unwittingly give fuel to those who want to argue against any valid points.

        The fact that people in the study weren’t given accurate information about the study or told they had the disease is unethical, and additionally that in the course of the 40 year study a treatment for the disease became available and wasn’t administered to the study participants (there was actually no treatment available when the study was started) is also horrific and unethical. But it does matter that they weren’t ‘given’ the disease; and the misrepresentation of what happened significantly alters the understanding of the nature of the abuses that occurred. It’s important to understand your history if you want to prevent it from happening again.

        It’s perverse that the progressive movement, as it seems to function today, makes regular use of misstated and misrepresented facts, out of context information and information of a dubious nature as a base for their arguments. It becomes nonsensical and you lose the upper ground. People really need to stop making arguments about things they’ve ‘heard’ but haven’t taken the time to research and understand. And research should include ‘primary’ research – that means read the original or take the thing in its full context; not just reading other people’s opinions about what happened, since it seems that some things are routinely taken out of context and misreported over and over again. sometimes due to laziness and sometimes due to the pursuit of a particular agenda.

        Research done to ‘prove’ an already decided thesis isn’t good research- it won’t tell you anything that you haven’t already decided. If you care about the truth and real justice then you should actually be interested in the information that is out there and allow it to point you toward something you didn’t expect. Everything isn’t black and white and often times answers and truth are more complex than a meme that feels good.

  9. E. Olson says

    Are you an alumnus of a school where administration has condoned or encouraged “social justice” disruption of free-speech, has not backed up faculty/students who conduct/express not sufficiently Leftist research/opinions, and does not expel and/or criminally prosecute “social justice” students and staff who vandalize property or physically attack “opposition”? Then please write letters to the President and VP of Development at the school telling them that you will never give another dime in contributions, not send your children to the school, and discourage all your friends and fellow alumni from supporting the school until all this nonsense is stopped. Share your letter with members of the alumni association and encourage them to write similar letters. Does your state fund schools involved in any social justice nonsense? Then please contact your state representatives (at least the Republican ones) and tell them that they should cut public funding to schools that restrict the constitutional rights of students, faculty and staff to safely and peacefully express opinions and gather in public places – encourage your friends to do the same. You might also tell your state representative to use their influence to push law enforcement to actually enforce the law and throw the book at social justice warriors who threaten, physically attack and vandalize. Support with your vote, contributions, and time the elected officials and judges who support law and order and the constitutional rights of all citizens.

    If you use Facebook, Google, Twitter and any other social media sites that support the social justice agenda and discriminate against non-Leftist content, then stop using and/or advertising on those sites. Write to the advertisers on those sites and tell them you will not be doing business with them until they stop supporting the sites that restrict the constitutional rights of users. Unsubscribe or stop viewing any mainstream media that supports the the social justice agenda in their reporting and editorializing and/or ignore or unfairly report and villainize alternative points of view. This craziness will only stop when the silent majority stop staying silent and act with their pen, voice, and wallet to stop all support for this social justice rampage.

      • E. Olson says

        Public opinion polls generally show that most SJ issues only receive support from only small minority of the general public. For example a very recent poll finds that only 1 in 7 believe in the more than 2 genders being pushed by SJW. Support for open borders and disbanding ICE is also very low, as are beliefs that blacks, women, etc. are total victims of a racist/sexist society. Given that these are all “politically correct” issues and that poll-takers are mostly Left leaning and likely to word questions to juice up the SJ side results, it is highly likely that whatever weak support that polls find for SJ issues is actually smaller than the results show. Of course the threat of having SJWs dox, scream, attack with bike locks, and call for your firing for speaking out against SJ falsities and law breaking means that much of the silent majority is likely to stay silent, but it only would take a few brave souls for the whole thing to collapse on itself because the facts do not support their positions.

    • @ E. Olson

      Organizations everywhere are being called upon to pick a side. They have to weigh which side is more dangerous and has more numbers. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Right now, the far left are being incredibly squeaky. It’s going to take a lot of people making a lot of noise just to match them. Considering the sheer numbers they have working for them, I think the universities are a lost cause.

      The next battleground is the corporations. Big tech might be a lost cause too, but now much more mainstream companies are getting in on the fun. The case in point is Nike. They don’t have the kind of numbers the universities and big tech have, and yet they still managed to cash in on the social justice insanity.

      I suspect the universities will eventually eat themselves and the education of the future will be online. Big tech will be subject to antitrust regulations and competition from startups. But it’s really scary that mainstream companies are picking sides and that this has proven a successful strategy.

      There’s opportunity costs we should consider. I say let the universities rot from the inside. The organizations we have a hope in swaying also happen to be the ones most vulnerable to consumer choice — the mainstream corporations. We should focus our boycott and letter writing efforts there.

      • E. Olson says

        Marshall, I’ve got a family member who has worked in non-profit fund raising for much of his life, and he has told me that if college presidents, etc. started to see sharp drop offs in financial gifts and student applications that could clearly be attributed to protests against overzealous SJW activities, most will be responsive. Facebook and other social media sites would be in big financial trouble if they lost 30-50% of their account holders, so it can happen (not to mention most people would probably benefit from less social media activity).

        • Cassandra says

          The attempt to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College , Oxford (an attempt, ironically,instituted by one of the beneficiaries of the Rhodes Scholarships) was foiled by the overwhelming number of letters from alumni to the College, informing them that they would not be receiving further donations or legacies if this went ahead.

          It did not.

          This is not hearsay. A friend of mine is an alumnus, wrote on these lines, and told me that all his college contemporaries had done the same. He also told me that this was not an expression of support for Rhodes ‘views’, which were of their time, but are now disregarded, ( witness the fact that a black African was receiving a major scholarship), but concern that retrospective standards and judgements are increasingly being used to ‘purge’ history. He was also slightly irritated that the SJW recipient is an extremely wealthy and privileged person within his own society ( his father is head of the ‘state’ broadcaster ), who could easily have afforded to pay for his tuition, and leave the scholarship funds for a less privileged applicant.

  10. MeanAsCustard says

    The phenomenon of woke capitalism has blindsided coservatives and centrists. That private enterprise can be used for collectivist ends doesn’t really compute for the right; entrepreneurs should do what they like with their private property even when it is anti-individualistic is a canny argument which leaves liberals (in the Lockean sense) nowhere to go. It’s worth examining how this came about. On the one hand it is the product of successful activism – Social Justice knows one big thing, bad publicity is costly and twitter mobs are cheap. CEOs who pride themselves on being tough guys have been complete pusillanimous in the face of this blackmail. And secondly, oligopoly Big Tech has learnt a new trick of strangling competition at brith by suppressing publication models other than their own by describing them as “hate speech”. A concert (not conspiracy) of interests then.

    • Event Horizon says

      “And secondly, oligopoly Big Tech has learnt a new trick of strangling competition at brith by suppressing publication models other than their own by describing them as “hate speech”. A concert (not conspiracy) of interests then.”

      Perfectly stated. This is what a lot of people don’t get: capitalism with its anti-monopolistic laws normally would work AGAINST large multinationals like google with monopolistic positions. The only way for google to survive is to get in bed with and ultimately control the government. Essentially google has the same economic needs and incentives as China’s largest state owned corporations. So they behave identically.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Well said, Event Horizon. Google is not a capitlaist organisation, but a corporatist one.

        • Imogen88 says

          We have been living in a corporatist, cronyism market for quite some time, but most people still falsely believe that we have some semblance of a free market.

  11. Pando says

    More likely a Crescendo. Loud is only successful in the moment; As is a Stun Gun. It’s about what follows.

  12. Rose M. says

    “Recently, Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority has said it will ban advertisements that encourage gender stereotypes.”

    How about an advertisement for pregnancy clothes and breast pumps with pregnant men as actors?

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Alan N

        If a man gives birth, is he a mother or a father? And if he is a father — he being man — does that mean that the sperm donor is the mother? Or does the child have two fathers — the sperm donor and the womb provider?

    • Burlats de Montaigne says

      I sent a somewhat mischievous email to Mothercare (A British high street parenting chain) ‘complaining’ that the gender-specific definition of ‘mother’ was sexist and discriminated against male child rearers and non-binary ‘mothers’. I suggested ‘Parentcare’ might be more apt. I received a fulsome and detailed history of the business in reply together with a totally ‘woke’ explanation of how ‘inclusive’ the term ‘mother’ really was and how they accepted anyone who raises a child and self-identifies as a ‘mother’ to feel welcome in their stores. I replied that the name still smacked of outdated and parochial attitudes to raising children which only served to reinforce cis-gendered orthodoxy and which militated against the more progressive and contemporary view that men can be ‘mothers’ too… and sometimes ‘fathers’ as well.
      I was extremely amused that they took any of my nonsense seriously enough to answer.

  13. Interesting analysis. But I think the author is mistaken when he characterizes intersectionality as an “individualized conception of privilege.” That gives intersectionality far too much credit.

    There is no ‘intersection’ of group privileges that describes any individual’s privilege. The reason for this is that group characteristics don’t apply to individuals in the group. When the group is taken as the unit of analysis, the analysis can not tell you about individuals (See The Strange Truth About Alternative Facts).
    If the group-level trait fails to apply to individuals in the group, it doesn’t matter how many non-applicable traits you try to ‘intersect’; they still don’t apply.

    So this type of “individuality” can’t actually determine more precisely how and why people deviate from the norm, nor figure out more accurately how to make them conform. This fake individuality can only create a delusion of knowing what people do and why.

    • Ray Andrews says


      Thanks very much, that video is the equal of Dr. P’s stuff, and should be required viewing.

  14. Farris says

    These people have always been with us. They are genome type. At times they gain more prominence. They are the zealots. History is often marked by their prominence. They are the enforcers and were the manifest in the Puritans and the Brown Shirts. They rule by fear. They kept Southern whites indifferent or opposed to segregation in line. Today the jihadist cast their shadow over moderate Muslims, silencing them with fear. Today they have traded their white robes and hoods for black hoodies and masks. Eventually they will push too far and history will again judge them harshly. However the rank and file will escape history’s judgement and spend the rest of their lives denying their zealotry.

    • Sydney says

      Just as it’s time to put to rest the misnomer ‘Social Justice Warrior’, it’s time to put to rest the misnomer ‘Moderate Muslim’.

      There might be some truth to ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ distinctions around the two billion Muslims in the world’s 50 Muslim-majority nations; but when Muslims move into non-Muslim countries they impose their culture and faith on the non-Muslim community around them. They make social, cultural, political, and financial demands on the nation that no other faith group makes. (Does that make the ground fertile for the Jihadism you mentioned?) They don’t seek to integrate into the larger community. NOTHING ‘moderate’ about that.

      This is a big issue of our time, and one of the final taboo public conversations. The dangerous, invented word, ‘Islamophobia’, has been a huge help to the wrong people in this regard.

      Lots of fair questions around this issue of ‘moderate’ Muslims and Islam. Quillette needs to find some writers on the topic (unless everyone is scared for their safety, which goes back to the question).

      • dellingdog says

        @Sydney, I think you’re overgeneralizing. I live in a rural/suburban region that has seen a large influx of Somali immigrants in the past two decades. Although there have been some tensions between native-born citizens and their new Muslim neighbors, overall the immigrants have successfully integrated into the broader community. Aside from their practice of Islam, Somali children raised in the U.S. are almost indistinguishable from their native-born peers. Like every previous generation of immigrants, they’re assimilating and becoming proud Americans. However, your analysis may apply to Muslims in parts of Europe who live in isolated communities and have high unemployment rates.

        I agree with you that Muslims should be criticized when they violate human rights in the name of religion. However, Islam is not going to disappear — according to current estimates it will overtake Christianity as the world’s largest religion sometime during this century. Instead of condemning all Muslims, I think we should encourage and support more humane versions of the faith. Contrary to your implication, moderate Muslims do exist.

        • Stephanie says


          It’s important to keep in mind that no one is saying every single Muslim is an extremist or that there’s no such thing as a “moderate” Muslim. Your personal experiences aside, statistics have been collected that address the question of the extent of extremist opinions.

          On average, 30% of Muslims under 35 living in the West tell Pew that suicide bombings is justifyable in defense of Islam (high of 40% in France). Over 75% of British Muslims believe it should be illegal to criticise the Prophet Muhammad. Statistics like these reveal that what Westerners might call “extremist” opinions are terribly common in the Muslim community. It’s so common we can’t even call such regressive beliefs “extreme.” It is simply mainstream Islam.

          Unless we can separate Muslims from these beliefs, their high birthrate will mean that Western countries will get less free and more dangerous with every generation.

          • Ray Andrews says


            And consider the analogy with spontaneous combustion: one oily rag by itself, no issue. Two oily rags, still no fire, the combustiphobes should seek treatment for their hate. Three, four, five, see! Still no problem, there is no such thing as spontaneous combustion.

            We would not expect to see the majority of Muslims demanding sharia when their numbers are so small that success is unlikely, but when their numbers rise above (what? 20% or 30%) we might see that now is the time to make your country part of the ummah. There are any number of friendly Muslims who will tell you this — it is simply a matter of time till they take over. The jihadis are only being too hasty not doing anything fundamentally wrong.

  15. Isn’t the real problem with the boards of trustees and governors who appoint the presidents and deans who then control the hiring committees and allocate resources to the various departments?

    The fish does rot from the head.

  16. There’s nothing new or scary about conformity, gossip, shaming, and self-censorship based on social norms. Men who didn’t behave like gentlemen and women who didn’t behave like ladies felt pressure by the community. This was the primary policing mechanism humans have always used. It’s really effective and quite simple. It’s actually anti-totalitarian because the more we can self-govern our behavior based on social norms, the less we need to rely on the state to do it for us.

    What’s new and scary is the pace of the changes and the severity of the consequences for breaking the rules. It used to be that the social norms were so old as to be common sense, and everyone agreed on them. The norms were simple and easily explained to a child. Say please, say thank you, say pardon me, hold the door for people, etc. Multiculturalism wasn’t hard to integrate into this. Don’t use racial slurs, treat people the same irrespective of their skin color or gender. Basically, be nice to people who are different from you. Pretty simple stuff.

    But suddenly we have microaggressions and dog whistles and no one really knows what they all are. There are new ones every day, like people are making it up as they go along.

    There’s also a huge amount of disagreement on them. According to Hidden Tribes, only 8% of the population are far leftsts who push this sort of political correctness. National Review says 80% of people surveyed think political correctness has gone too far. So, not only are these new rules not common sense, most people actually think they’re ridiculous.

    The new consequences for even minor infractions, including accidental slip-ups, are breathtaking and horrifying. Twitter takes gossip and public shaming to a global scale in a matter of minutes. People aren’t just snubbed by a few friends. They’re blacklisted by the entire world, with no end in sight. They lose their careers.

    As this essay explains, these norms and consequences becoming institutionalized, initially in the universities and rapidly in other parts of society, so it’s no longer anti-totalitarian like it once was. The state is increasingly being called upon to enforce these new norms.

    • The penalty for violating social norms has included lynching, burning at the stake, stonings, drownings, ostracism/banishment, acid to the face, being set on fire, crucificion….humans have a long history and humans continue to show hatred through conformity.

      • @david of Kirkland

        You’re right, and this is a good point. I did not account this long horrific history in my comment.

        Steven Pinker in The Better Angels of Our Nature talks about the need for a leviathan, a mediating entity such a government with a monopoly on violence to intervene in grievances. As these entities have refined over the years, we’ve seen a decrease in the need for such extreme measures by individuals and mobs to enforce social norms. Most recently, the outlawing of lynch mobs is a good example of this.

        This discourages violence and limits the enforcement by individuals and mobs to much softer tactics such as shunning. Most importantly, the scale of this behavior was very limited because the scale of communities was much smaller and the ability to transmit gossip was limited to word-of-mouth. Only the worst infractions led to ostracism.

        My point was that the rules are changing and the punishments mobs have at their disposal due to new technologies are a lot more dangerous than simple shunning within a small community. Changing the rules is good, and that was already happening. But the rules are changing so rapidly and haphazardly now that no one really knows what they are anymore. Famous phrases uttered by Martin Luther King Jr. are now called microaggressions.

        And now the leviathan is also being called upon to police not just the worst grievances but also rules of social decorum that used to be left to individuals and small communities to enforce through simple common courtesies. This is straight out of Orwell’s 1984.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Marshall Mason

          Some believe that the only possible answer to this is in the decency and integrity and courage of individual people. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our systems but in ourselves. I’d say that the last time we had an outbreak of fundamentalism — and Correctness is a fundamentalism — was the McCarthy red scare thing, but note the differences, it was short and limited. The majority of educated people found it appalling and many had the guts to take a stand. The body healed itself because it still had an intact sense of values.

  17. Yet the SJWs aren’t crafting laws that use government coercion to restrict free speech (the right we all have); they are using their speech to counter arguments, to demand those with “bad” ideas are not heard, etc. You may not like their viewpoint or methods, but they do not block free speech because they are not creating a law that restricts it. Social opprobrium, shame and ostracizing are age-old.
    In the end, the only reason any of us even know about Bret Weinstein and Jordon Peterson are because some tried to make them into monsters, and now they are likely richer and more “important” (speeches, books, interviews) than they could have dreamed of had they remained conforming cogs.

    • Re: “…but they do not block free speech because they are not creating a law that restricts it. Social opprobrium, shame and ostracizing are age-old. In the end, the only reason any of us even know about Bret Weinstein and Jordon Peterson…”


      Jordan Peterson came to prominence specifically because he spoke out clearly against a new law intended to compel speech in Canada, a law intended to enforce not only what one cannot say, but what one *must* say in its place.

      In short: you’re wrong.

    • @ david of Kirkland

      Their behavior is not a violation of the first amendment, if that’s all you mean. But they are finding loopholes, utilizing new technologies and boycotts to severely limit free speech within legal bounds. They are employing the “heckler’s veto” to effectively cause the same results that government coercion cause. See

      You’re right that SJWs have free speech just as much as speakers, and we should stand up for these rights just as much as anyone else. As long as they use their free speech for its intended purpose, to engage in civil dialogue and challenge bad ideas, they are an extremely valuable part of the process and I welcome them.

      It is an irony of censorship that it creates martyrs, bringing the censored far more fame and wealth than they would have otherwise. Weinstein and Peterson have been through horrifying ordeals, but you’re right that they came out smelling like a rose. My concern isn’t so much for them, but for the many people who never got international attention for their ordeals and now must live their lives in disgrace for no crime aside from disagreeing with ideologues. An even greater concern is for the chilling effect this has on the sort of dialogue that democracies and universities absolutely require in order to thrive.

    • Stephanie says

      @ David of Kirkland

      The SJW types using their speech to express dissatisfaction with a speaker are themselves protected by the 1st Amendment, but when they use violence or intimidation, that is no longer protected. As the 1st Amendment relates to the government’s responsibilities, technically it is the government responsible when such SJW succeed in stifling speech. Failing to do so opens up the possibility for the government to use these groups to stifle free speech, something that’s arguably already happening. Antifa is the Democrats’ brown shirts.

      Also, SJWs are indeed attempting to craft laws restricting free speech as well. That’s the fuss about bill C-16 that Jordan Peterson spoke out against.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @david of Kirkland

      “but they do not block free speech because they are not creating a law that restricts it”

      Suppose we said that folks were ‘free’ to speak, but that in any case where something Incorrect was being said, that person would immediately have a Cone of Silence (remember ‘Get Smart’?) put over them. Would that really be freedom of speech? Surely freedom of speech is both my freedom to speak and your right to hear what I say? Or of course to decline to hear it as you choose?

      It is true that many of the Warriors’ efforts to excoriate JBP and others backfired and rather brought them to greater attention, but that was not by design.

  18. Ken A. says

    A few questions about “social justice”:

    Is social justice inherently a bad thing, or is it a good thing that has been hijacked by bad people?
    If good, is there a better way to say “social justice” than this hijacked way?
    Is a social justice activist better or worse than a social justice warrior? Or are they basically the same thing?
    How can I tell if some of my friends or family might be social justice warriors?
    How should I react if I come to believe they are?
    Is “justice” itself a good thing? Or just a code word for the elimination of all class distinctions?
    How can I stay “sociable” without supporting “social justice”?

    Any advice appreciated!

    • @ Ken A.

      The dictionary defines social justice as “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.” I believe it’s a good thing within limits. Reasonable people disagree about where those limits should be, but most understand that there are limits somewhere.

      Justice of all forms has always had a problem of diminishing returns. Striving too hard for perfect justice at all costs can be devastating because those costs can be extremely high. Communism is an example of utopian vision of a world of perfect social justice at all costs. Every time it was tried, the costs were devastating and unbearable. Ironically, when it’s pushed to its extreme like this, it actually leads to LESS social justice.

      I don’t believe social justice has been “hijacked by bad people.” Social justice activists are not bad people. They care deeply about fairness and rectifying ancient injustices, and they’re willing to fight for this at great personal cost. The problem isn’t that they’re bad, but that they’re misguided about the limits of social justice, through no fault of their own. They’re victims of groupthink and propaganda by Marxist demagogues, often their college professors.

      I believe what they misunderstand is the source of inequality. They’re taught a “blank slate” theory, that language and culture construct reality. Therefore, when one person is better off than another person, that is an injustice. If there are group-based patterns where membership in a group is correlated with being better off, that is a cause for social justice.

      There is some truth to this, but things are not that simple. Some people are born with genetic advantages. IQ is a big example. High IQ is correlated with far more success than white skin or male gender. Even being born into a wealthy family is a sort of genetic advantage, although social justice activists rightly point out that this is often caused by historical injustices. Furthermore, there is a huge number of groups one can use for the correlations, and the activists only focus on a few of their favorites. Then when you try to incorporate the intersections between the groups, the problem becomes intractable.

      My understanding is that “social justice warrior” is a derogatory term for “social justice activist.” I usually call them social justice activists when they’re being reasonable and social justice warriors when they start behaving like, well… warriors. Too often lately I see the latter.

      You can usually identify a social justice warrior by the language they use. See

      Honestly, I haven’t yet figured out how to reasonably engage with a social justice warrior. Most of us are still grappling with this problem. I suspect it’s impossible. One can only reason with people who are being reasonable.

      • dellingdog says

        @MM, I completely agree. Many critics of SJA/Ws imply that they’re incipient fascists who don’t care at all about issues of justice. According to this view, supposed concern about racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc. is just a ruse to gain power and establish a “woke” tyranny. I don’t think this is true. In my experience, far-left activists care deeply about fighting injustice and promoting equality. Like you, however, I think that they’re misguided on both a conceptual level (the blank-slate ideology) and a strategic one.

        One question: when you refer to “Marxist demagogues,” do you mean actual Marxists or do you have something like “cultural Marxists” in mind?

      • Ken A. says

        That was truly a great response, very thoughtful and well-stated.
        Best regards,

        • Stephanie says

          @ Ken

          I think social justice is an appealing idea on its face, because it seems reasonable to assume all groups should be proportionally represented in all things. When that doesn’t happen, it’s for all kinds of cultural and biological reasons. Women are wired to be more nurturing, so they dominate the child care industry. Asian culture emphasizes academics, so Asians dominate the best universities.

          The problem with social justice is that it takes all disparity to indicate discrimination. When it’s pointed out that people’s careers are freely chosen, SJW ideologues will say that those choices aren’t truly free, because they are impacted by the residuals of historic injustice. This is true to some degree, but the question is what is to be done about it.

          The SJW position is that we need positive discrimination to compensate for cultural or biological controls. Only for select domains, of course; no one on the left is complaining that ICE is predominantly Hispanic men.

          The more reasonable approach is to make it known that there are no legal or institutional barriers to success, and that an individual’s intelligence and worth ethic are the dominant controls on their success. The SJWs don’t like this approach, because it’s bottom-up, and fundamentally they don’t believe that the people they advocate for are capable of it. Scratch the surface of SJW beliefs, and you often find an insidious racism of lower expectations.

          You either believe everyone should be treated the same, or you don’t. The SJWs are heirs to a long line of Democrats who believe people should be treated differently. Now, it’s just their favoured race that has changed.

          • Cassandra says

            Very perceptive post.

            Interestingly, the only arenas (pun intended) in which concepts of enforced equality do not apply are sport and athletics. There does not seem to be any disquiet, still less a desire to ‘ quota’ outcomes when most athletic disciplines are dominated by people of African genetic heritage. Nor should there be.

            Of course, where this principle is beginning to break down is for female events, where genetic men are able to take the prizes because of their superior strength and musclature, simply by claiming to be women.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Ken A

      It is a bad thing because it presumes that deliberate injustice is some sort of cure for what is taken to be other ‘systemic’ injustices.

      At the shooting range, I’m handed a rifle and I put 10 bullets through the target and, nuts, they cluster on the right of the bullseye. Conclusion (I’m a white male): I need to correct my aim. Next the rifle is handed to a woman and her bullets cluster on the left. Conclusion: the gun is defective and patriarchal, it must be re-calibrated such that the woman’s bullets cluster in the center. Next the gun is handed to a negro, and his bullets cluster above. Conclusion: the gun defective and has white privilege and must be re-calibrated to aim lower. Next the gun is handed to a lesbian and …. you see the problem?

  19. annaerishkigal says

    The U.S. Department of Education should STOP funding financial ad and student loans for ANY course of study which does not have at minimum a 70% employment rate in the graduated field within 2 years after graduation -AND- provide an income at a return-on-investment to the student of effectively paying off their entire student costs (tuition, room, board, books, fees) within 5 years of having graduated. Any college, or college department, if certain degree-fields are dragging them down, should be defunded, with “poor return on investment” warnings given, in writing, to students and parents for any course-of-study which doesn’t provide the expected investment, one which they’ll have to sign, and get notarized, that they are sending Little Junior to college for a degree that will leave them unemployable.

    This would cause most of those “humanities” and “studies” classes to disappear overnight, leaving only business and STEM classes, along with just a smattering of art, literature and history classes that will help students achieve their General Education Requirements.

    Along with those departments would disappear most of these radical sjw professors. Send them out into the real world, where their bizarre rants about social justice can be tested, and disproven. Right now, the only reason these people exist is because WE allow the government to subsidize colleges filled with idiots who leave our kids propagandized, unemployable, and a quarter of a million dollars in debt.

  20. Kevin says

    annaerishkigal: an interesting idea, though perhaps unfortunately, unconstitutional and illegal in a hundred ways.

    • annaerishkigal says

      How is it unconstitutional? You wouldn’t be targeting speech. You’d merely be forbidding the allocation of taxpayer money to classes and courses of study which don’t have a demonstrable return-on-investment of public funds.

      Pell grants = taxpayer money
      Equal Opportunity grants = taxpayer money
      Stafford Loans = taxpayer subsidized loans

      It’s OUR money. Taxpayers have standing to make sure it gets wisely spent.

      Now if you specifically said, “we’re going to defund any class which talks about XXX-issue” (like Hungary did), then that might be unconstitutional. That’s what happened when government tried to forbid abstinence-only education in high schools. You can’t -forbid- a specific kind of behavior, but you can withhold taxpayer funding from any institution which doesn’t -include- some kind of desirable behavior (i.e., you can teach abstinence-only, but you can only get the goodies if you ALSO teach about birth control for X number of credit-hours).

      So, no, it’s not “illegal in a hundred ways.” Schools can still offer gender studies. They just won’t get public funds unless they can PROVE that a very high percentage of graduates from that program will get X job earning X amount of money over the next 5 years.

      That’s what corporations have to do when they offer stock on the public market.

      • dellingdog says

        You’re presupposing that the only (or primary) purpose of higher education is job training. As a Philosophy instructor at a publicly-funded community college, I respectfully disagree.

        Also, I think you’re exaggerating the scope of the problem. What percent of college students pursue degrees in “grievance studies”? At most universities, Business, Education and Communications are already the most popular majors.

        • Andrew Leonard says

          You’re presupposing that the only (or primary) purpose of higher education is job training.

          Whatever ones opinion on that subject, pushing a political agenda must surely be regarded as outside the legitimate bounds of publicly funded higher education. However, it should be regarded as very much within the bounds of corruption.

          Also, I think you’re exaggerating the scope of the problem. What percent of college students pursue degrees in “grievance studies”?

          The idea is to cut out the cancer before it spreads any further.

        • Stephanie says

          Dellingdog, the primary purpose of universities might not be job training, but a degree that fails to provide someone with an employable skill is not providing a benefit to the broader society. The intellectual enrichment of the student is a good thing, but if it’s not applicable in the outside world, it’s more like a hobby than anything. Taxpayers and students alike have an interest in avoiding wasting money on such an expensive pass-time. A mechanism that renders departments accountable for their performance would do much to improve the university system.

  21. ester for sanity on twitter says

    A great piece of thinking and writing. I am a moderate liberal who has become more and more concerned by totalitarianism on the LEFT. That is, I see hordes of academic types who think they are progressive, socialist and woke, telling women that they cannot talk about certain things, including the differences between “sexes” and gender, and aspects of gender ideology that are problematic or sexist. Other voices of dissent being silenced are gays and lesbians who point out that the take over of LGBT orgs by privileged, heterosexuals claiming to be “queer” in fact is not progressive. I see enforced conformity to the new Social Justice dogma, they have a diversity dress code, they drown out debate with slogans, and they call any disagreement “hate speech.” None of this is progressive or non-conforming. It is infact enforced conformity to and ideology that benefits the privileged while billing itself as the opposite. I ask more people to reconsider SJW dogma, especially when it uses force or coercion. I ask people to ask call out angry SJW who are really just angry and aggressive people pretending that their aggression is okay because of a “social justice” smoke screen. real social justice is compassionate to individuals, and is powered less by theoretical dogma and outrage than actual tolerance for thoe who disagree with us.

    • dellingdog says

      @ester, I completely agree! According to the recent “Hidden Tribes” report, “Traditional Liberals” outnumber “Progressive Activists” by a significant margin. We need to resist the regressive left’s efforts to redefine liberalism in an illiberal way.

      • Peter from Oz says

        Well said, my son.
        It is the same on the right. We don’t want nutjobs giving us a bad name either.
        Both sides have the ”moderate muslim” problem.
        In the UK surveys show that large portions of the muslim community are in fact sympathetic to extreme notions such as death being appropriate for blasphemy. Yet the members of this minority are probably moderate in their everyday behaviour.
        Many on the right believe that a substantial number of liberals secretly sympathise with the progressives’ aims, even if the liberals themselves would never actually try to no-platform anyone or get too interested in intersectionality and other such progressive rubbish. After all the progressives are mostly interested in ”equality” which is top of the liberals’ desiderata.
        The same occurs on the right with MRA fools or other weirdos tainting the conservative brand.
        I think both conservatives and liberals need to go hard on the extremists on both sides. I have to say, however, that the progressives are far mor of a problem than any right wing groups, because the progressives manage to get weak liberals to agree with them. Hence, liberals need to jon with conservatives in erradicating the progressive menace. Once the liberals withdraw support, the progressive cause will die.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Peter from Oz

          “Both sides have the ”moderate muslim” problem”

          Because both sides, if they consider themselves mainstream, suffer from Correctness. That is, both sides pretend to believe in the same obligatory lies. One is automatically an extremist if onesimply points out that the emperor has no clothes. Thus, whereas the ‘mainstream’ is itself increasingly totalitarian — one branch totalitarian left, the other totalitarian right — it seems that the so called ‘extremists’ are mostly folks of moderate centrist disposition who would rather tell the truth. For example the plain truth that Islam is incompatible with Western values. The Correct, both left and right, will label this as ‘Hate’, whereas it is simply telling the truth. The mainstream don’t realize that it is themselves who have become extremists.

    • Andrew Leonard says

      I ask more people to reconsider SJW dogma, especially when it uses force or coercion.

      What is your expectation when you ask a dogmatist to reconsider their dogma?

  22. X. Citoyen says

    I liked the use of Foucault. Let them eat their own poison.

    If I may, I would suggest having a look at the brilliant Brazilian philosopher Olavo de Carvalho. His analysis of what’s happened to our academic and cultural institutions is the best I’ve read:

    He’s also been quite influential there.

    • Ray Andrews says

      @X. Citoyen

      “But we can “create” universals through propaganda, making all people share in the same beliefs or, better said, in the same illusions.”

      Thus The Patriarchy?

      • X. Citoyen says


        Absolutely. It’s no coincidence that a heretofore unheard of form of oppression is discovered every other week and is believed in as fervently as longstanding ones. Nor does oppression ever seem to lesson. Just look at all the laws, money, and social changes that have been thrown at liberating women. Yet oppression is still everywhere for women—one would be forgiven for thinking it’s gotten worse. Why? Because oppression is one of those invented universals that can never be eradicated because, in a strict sense, it never existed in the first place.

  23. Eric Blair says

    The BBC is an institution which has been captured by the feminist theocracy. It has a flagship political discussion programme called question time. 2weeks ago, Mairead McGuiness [MP} scolded the moderator : “Your freedom of speech shouldn’t interfere with mine” But who was interfering with her freedom of speech? The show has is watched by 3 million. The most vocal opponents of free expression on the panel were two women. The women on the show every week are problematic; the chairman is unable to shut them up. An islamic version of question time, with no women, might work.

    British institutions are no longer using George Orwell’s 1984 as a warning from the past but as a guide to the future. And they are doing well so far; feminists are hell bent on furthering the revolution. At some point men are going to have to start to fight back. Donald Trump is possibly the first to order back the incoming tide of feminazism but, like King Canute, it is still coming in !

    “As soon as a philosophy begins to believe in itself. It always creates the world in its own image; it cannot do otherwise; philosophy is this tyrannical impulse itself, the most spiritual Will to Power, the will to ‘creation of the world,’ ” – Nietzsche

    • annaerishkigal says

      There is nothing “feminine” about “feminism.” REAL women appreciate a gentleman, at some point in their lives will have children, and want a well-ordered society to RAISE those children. There is nothing “feminine” about the radical left. They are anti-male, anti-child, and anti-society.

      • dellingdog says

        @anna, you’re failing to make a distinction between “equity feminism” and “gender feminism.” The former are not, in fact, anti-male. I would encourage you to broaden your horizons instead of making sweeping generalizations that contribute to tribal polarization.

        • Peter from Oz says

          You are correct about the difference between the two kinds of feminism, but falsely accuse anna of being unaware of them. Her villain in fact the radical left. From that it is clear she meant gender feminists and their allies.
          So it’s anna 1: dellingdog 0

          • dellingdog says

            @Peter, I was responding to her statement “There is nothing ‘feminine’ about “feminism.” If she had referred to “radical feminism,” I wouldn’t have any objection. As I read her statement, she’s implying that *all* feminists are part of the “radical left.”

          • Ray Andrews says

            @Peter from Oz

            Exactly. @annaerishkigal makes it very clear what sort of feminist she is talking about simply by description — labels are unneeded.

  24. Not PC, but often correct anyway says

    If the claim of “social justice activists” is that they are acting to right wrongs that the traditional (real) justice system isn’t addressing than they are essentially the modern version of a lynch mob.

    Lynch mobs were formed to right what their members considered was a social injustice, one that they felt the normal justice system wasn’t willing to address.

    Both types of mobs are convinced that they’re morally correct and justified in their actions, even if they are breaking the standard law in bringing about their interpretation of “justice”. The only real difference is that the social justice mobs of today aren’t killing people. Yet.

    • Andrew Leonard says

      If the claim of “social justice activists” is that they are acting to right wrongs that the traditional (real) justice system isn’t addressing than they are essentially the modern version of a lynch mob.

      Listen to Robert McNamara @1:14

      Now ask yourself; do I really understand the social justice activists? RSM thought he understood the North Vietnamese, but unfortunately never bothered to check his assumptions. Don’t make the same mistake.

      Are Social Justice Revolutionaries really claiming to right wrongs? (Yes, they do see themselves as revolutionaries. Witness Antifa’s common display of the hammer and sickle logo.) On the contrary I see SJRs as perceiving a world in which members of non-dominant identity groups are hyper-fragile. These people must be protected from the assaults of everyday life. These “assaults” are what everyone else would regard as behavior toward others that is well within the bounds of the acceptable. The War for Social Justice is therefore a behavioural territorial war – a war over abstract territory.

      It is also a war on the unconscious minds of dominant group members. The unconsciousness is such a fantastic concept because it can be used to explain, or explain away, almost any behavior one wants it to. In the case of SJRs, it can explain any socio-economic imbalances as being the result of unconscious biases. Dominants can protest all they like, but the SJR just knows that is the unconscious mind attempting to rationalize anti-social behavior, and conceal its non-dominant prejudices. Therefore, the War for Social Justice is also the latest incarnation of the psychological charlatanism that began with Sigmund Freud.

      • James Lee says


        Good points. I highly recommend “The Demon in Democracy” by Ryszard Legutko. He draws parallel after parallel between communist and modern Hyperliberal (to use John Gray’s term) ideology and tactics.

        Variant forms of the concept of “False Consciousness” or unconscious motives are mainstays in both ideologies, and allow the communist/SJR to impute whatever motives he or she wants to impute.

        Argue against the concept of white privilege? Well, I have superior knowledge that you just do that to protect your white privilege, you either are unconscious of your privilege or you are lying.

        Hence we see the heavy use of the concept of “dog whistle”. The SJR, like Freud, understands the true underlying motives behind the “dog whistle”.

        • Andrew Leonard says

          Thanks James, I will have a look at the book. Having said that I am slightly weary of books that reach conclusions by drawing parallels. For example
          An interesting read but sort of join-the-dots for grown-ups too. The concept of the ‘slippery slope’ could do with a lot more focus. At the moment is a bit too easy to dismiss positions using the slippery slope argument.

          Your point about white privilege is well taken. How is that entire departments can construe any criticism as evidence for their own theories, and continue to be funded and taken seriously? Were are the standards? Perhaps academic independence is not compatible with externally imposed standards, or is that just a convenient excuse for not having any?

    • Ray Andrews says

      @Not PC, but often correct anyway

      “Lynch mobs were formed to right what their members considered was a social injustice, one that they felt the normal justice system wasn’t willing to address.”

      Very well said.

  25. @ester for sanity on twitter
    Yes, it is an “ideology that benefits the privileged while billing itself as the opposite.”

    @A C Harper
    Yes, they are “like courtiers scrambling for position and patronage amongst themselves.”

    This is what Peter Turchin calls “elite over-production/intra-elite competition.” When there is an oversupply of labor, as the U.S. has had since the 1970’s, largely caused by new technology and automation, but also by immigration and women entering the workforce en mass, it produces a large immiserated populace and a small competitive elite, jockeying for power and status.
    Turchin and his colleagues at UConn have gathered data from many societies in many historical periods and found that when these conditions come together, it inevitably leads to crisis, chaos, and violence. See Turchin’s blog : and his book “Ages of Discord.”

    The old divisions are no longer relevant; the elites include both GOP and Dems. We need a new paradigm and new approaches.

    • James Lee says


      I just read the blog post by Turchin, it’s good, thanks. Tucker Carlson makes many similar points in his recent book (who would have thought he would become a 1970’s era liberal). Life expectancy for white males is going down in the US, suicide rates are up, opioid addiction is way up.

      If you look at the younger generations, anxiety/depression is way up, and suicide among adolescent girls is up.

      The average person is doing worse than their parents, and everyone knows it except our elites. I loved Pinker’s “Blank Slate”, but as of late he has completely missed the boat. As Turchin points out, humans don’t compare themselves to abstract societies across the planet, or to humans who lived 100 years ago. They compare themselves to the humans around them, their families and communities. And by that comparison, they are doing worse.

      Carlson makes the reasonable assertion that a healthy society doesn’t elect Donald Trump- a desperate society does.

  26. > “perhaps mirroring the development of the modern criminal justice system, which it might eventually replace, at least in part”

    So scary, the arbitrariness, the random emergence of new “thought crimes”. Where are the boundaries to hate speech ? There seem to be none.

    Orwell wrote 1984 as a satire while Huxley wrote Brave New World as a warning. Neither thought their respective novels would become manuals – yet they have. The Disenlightenment continues apace.

    The only useful question now is a modernised version of that from the Dark Ages/Medieval Period – how to avoid being publicly, although metaphorically, burnt at the stake in Auto de Fe’s.

  27. Minor fan says

    Re the image, did Peterson actually say “men can’t control crazy women”? Wasn’t it more like “men don’t know how to handle crazy women”?

    • Actual Quote:
      “Here’s the problem, I know how to stand up to a man who’s unfairly trespassed against me and the reason I know that is because the parameters for my resistance are quite well-defined, which is: we talk, we argue, we push, and then it becomes physical. If we move beyond the boundaries of civil discourse, we know what the next step is,” he claims. “That’s forbidden in discourse with women and so I don’t think that men can control crazy women. I really don’t believe it.”

      Regarding the necessity of the “underlying threat of physicality,” Peterson says, “If you’re talking to a man who wouldn’t fight with you under any circumstances whatsoever, then you’re talking to someone to whom you have absolutely no respect.”

      Peterson also offers an example in which he claims that a female activist organized a movement against him and compared him to Nazis. “I’m defenceless against that kind of female insanity because the techniques that I would use against a man who was employing those tactics are forbidden to me,” he says.

      Peterson concludes that “sane women” should “stand up against their crazy sisters.”

      What he is talking about is the social barriers to interaction between men and women that do not exist between two members of the same sex. Men can punch men when they have been wronged, but at no time can they punch a woman (unless he is actually fearful for his life… like she has a gun). This has nothing to do with Peterson ‘trying to control women’.


  28. Constantin says

    The author seems to suggest that social justice appears to follow a similar path to “normalization” with the concept of fundamental justice as adopted by Western Democracies. Not all “normalized” values are good and desirable. If “normalization” is a valid test for legitimacy, then the Nazis were pretty close to achieving legitimacy. The modern concept of justice, includes such fundamental and far from being popular (it seems) notions such as the “presumption of innocence”. If the author is correct and the social justice is getting momentum as a groundswell increased and focused adoption of the need to restrict speech, any rational person should be very deeply concerned. Free speech is the mechanism by which people resolve differences without having to resort the violence. It is one thing to restrict such things as yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theatre just for giggles, or even to outlaw direct and explicit credible threats or incitement to violence. It’s another completely, when you conflate any disagreement with your worldview as “hate speech” and resort to mob justice in order to silence dissent. Just like Nazi Germany did not mark a normal and desirable evolution for a culture that gave us Goethe, Nietzsche, Kant, Freud, Jung, Heine, etc.), mob driven efforts to build up “consensus” about silencing , as in this case even science, does not seem to be an organic process of re-adjustment of social mores and values. As other commenters astutely noted, grabs for power and domination have been with us a long time and are not new by any stretch of the imagination. Universities and other institutions would be completely protected from this nonsense but for the moral laziness of so called “intellectuals” who leave these battles for someone else to fight and are effectively cowed into submission. It is also very hard not to observe that the social justice movement is almost exclusively founded on coercion, rather than persuasion. The notion that the result would be a peaceful coexistence appears to me completely ridiculous. Call “Nazi” enough normal people concerned with the preservation of the freedom of speech in its most unconstrained interpretation as the bedrock of resolving differences peacefully (even if not comfortably for the rightly daubed “snowflakes”) and what you will get is anger and resentment and you may end up reaping what you rightly deserve.
    Academics – as far as I could see – are not at all doing what would otherwise be within the ambit of a legislator’s function. Instead, those who are not yet brainwashed and avatars of this movement) are engaged in staged acts of submission (something a legislature very rarely does and only in the most extreme circumstances). The others are part of the problem in a culture war, where the attack on the foundations of the Western Civilization metastasized in Universities. Most students are coerced, rather that persuaded, at least those still capable of realizing this fact. Technology remains and always will be a tool. Irrespective of how powerful such technologies may become, our concern should always be to ensure that those inclined to achieve their ends through censorship do not end up controlling monopolies capable of silencing dissent. Once we do that, the human propensity for selfishness and cruelty will ensure the immediate demise of the naïve believers in a future utopia, and the awful experiments of the 20th Century will repeat themselves, possibly at a much larger scale and with the added bonus of having nowhere to run.

  29. It’s more than a little disingenuous to call these ideas “controversial viewpoints.” First, the examples given are not, as I understand it, “viewpoints,” but science. And it’s only science that does not align with social justice views that is being attacked.

  30. scribblerg says

    The term “social justice” is a huge problem in and of itself. What is a “just” social order? A “just” social outcome? Well, we already have an answer. We’ve made “crimes” of certain “social” actions such as theft, assault, murder, rape etc. We already had a system of “social justice”, in this way. So what “justice” is it these rabid delusional ideologues seek? It’s class justice. It’s grievance settlement. It’s about setting protected classes up with privileges in the social order.

    Funniest about these academic leftists? They miss that all they’ve really done is setup social privileges for those who’d ideology or identity they favor for one reason or another. They oppress, coerce, shame and deny “personhood” too all who don’t by into their post-modern, neo-marxist gibberish.

    • codadmin says

      Exactly. ‘SJW’ is an ironic term, but it masks who they actually are. It gives their fascism cover.

  31. D.B. Cooper says

    For what it’s worth, Harris deserves a degree of good language, if for nothing more than his shrewd insight, concerning the similarities between the criminal justice & social justice systems. Harris is consistently one of the more perspicacious contributors at Quillette and this article, in my humble opinion, does more to support that proposition than not.

    While reasonable people can disagree about the extent to which the institutionalization of social justice accurately approximates to a first-order threat to the cannibalization of Western society – e.g. “This could become totalitarian very rapidly…” – I am, admittedly, a bit more (quite a bit more, actually) pessimistic about America’s long-term prognosis than Harris seems to be. Sadly, I think the he’s undersold the problem.

    Before I continue, I should add that I earnestly hope that I’m wrong about my opinions on the subject. And they are opinions – mere opinions at that. So, just to be clear, while it’s possible that my doubts about the rehabilitation of “traditional” American ideals are born from a weak excess of optimism; I can assure you, they are not the manifestation of nascent SJW tendencies.

    The short answer is, I do think this will manifest towards a totalitarian state. Furthermore, I think the national disunity we see is only going to get worse in the long-run, much worse. As distasteful as that idea might be – and I do find it distasteful – we should awaken to the possibility that America may, in fact, be trending downward in all the wrong metrics and there may not be any recovering from this barren path, at least not within the constraints of our governing tenets.

    But, before you accuse me of exaggerating the novelty of this situation, here are a few things you should first consider:

    (1) People who keep account of such things seem to agree that America is growing more diverse with every passing year. At the risk of asking us to commit to the indiscretion of withholding judgement on the hackneyed platitude apotheosis decree that “diversity is our strength,” we might consider the implications of the following statement:

    As diversity grows, so too does the question of whose opinion will rule.

    No one’s suggesting – at least, no one at last count – we should arrest the dignity and self-agency of those intransigent migrants holding “non-Western” ethical intuitions. But as I’ve said before – and no, I’m not above quoting myself – the anthropological reality is that discrete differences in our moral framework may not be so easily overcome. That is to say, very often, they are not; whether it be at the level of the individual (are your friends values dissimilar from yours?) or at the group level (monolithic cultures #winning). In marital law, I believe they call this ‘Irreconcilable Differences’ or some such thing.

    But take it on a larger scale, look at a country like Somalia (a lovely place to go on holiday, I understand), where just last year the ethical intuitions of Al Shabaab led to a mother of eight being stoned to death for… A-D-U-L-T-E-R-Y. But in fairness to our Somalian American contingency, all else being equal (controlling for Somalia’s general jihadiness, among other factors, e.g., piracy) stoning women to death appears to be the standard prescription for adulterers in more than few Muslim majority countries (hey, Saudi Arabia) – never mind the standard treatment for homosexual behavior. In what must have been a surprise to no one in the eager crowd in Raqqa, Muslim gays do not fly when thrown off the rooftop of a multi-story building.

    Maybe I’m being overly dramatic about what otherwise might be considered insignificant in a different light of Hell, but I’m not too proud to admit that self-preservation comes natural to me. At any rate, the point I’m trying to press is that sometimes irreconcilable differences can apply to group differences just as succinctly as they apply to individual differences. Lastly, group differences (in cultural values) between balkanized factions of a native population may be just as substantial, if not pernicious, as those of any other. When what is “true” is no longer the same for everyone, we’ve arrived at a place of nihilistic relativism; and I’m not entirely sure we haven’t arrived.

    (2) The unmitigated rise in SES inequality.

    In the interest of brevity, I will assume that most reasonable people can adduce the derivation of these inequalities. The through line here is that as SES inequality grows, and it WILL continue to grow (see Walter Scheidel’s, The Great Leveler for a defense of this position), so too will America’s Gini coefficient. If you’re unfamiliar with the Gini index, familiarize yourself with it. If you have some understanding of the concept; then you should take seriously the potential consequences of an unremitting rise in SES inequality.

    So, what’s the upshot here? What can be done to right this ship? Can ‘we’ (the more reasonable souls) right this ship, may be the more appropriate question. And if we can’t, do we simply wait (hope) for the tide to turn?

    In truth, I don’t know, but I can say, that in many ways, this feels like an intractable problem; since, I’m not at all convinced the Left’s equality sycophancy can reconcile their vision of political and social equality with the implications of biological inequality. Moreover, the notion that things can go on more or less the way they are, while waiting for a rehabilitation of American ideals to enact itself is not a strategy.

    Sure, I would like to think better explanations are available – and if you know of any, tell me; I’ll take your call day or night – but the idea that we can or will excise ourselves from the necrotic socio-cultural norms of our current dispensation is (in “my opinion”) either unwarrantedly charitable to the point of naïve optimism, or evidence of a sudden onset of amnesia. Personally, I’m more convinced of the latter; since, it is no sign of health to be well-regulated to an exceedingly thickheaded culture – although, I wish, I had such optimism.

    In either case, there seems (to me) little point in bandying rational arguments as an ad hoc remedy (for Leftist doublethink), since what is at stake is an article of faith. If you want to know what God thinks of social justice, just look at the morally untethered charlatans he entrusted it to. The beliefs that catalyze their governing tenets are not unlike an emotional jihad, i.e., crazy effective. Of course, they’re obviously bat-shit insane, although I don’t think the two (diseased mental faculties & effectiveness of their arguments) are mutually incompatible. Ultimately, I fear we may be trying to control what won’t. It should be said… It should be said.

    • James Lee says


      You make many good points.

      “In either case, there seems (to me) little point in bandying rational arguments as an ad hoc remedy (for Leftist doublethink), since what is at stake is an article of faith.”

      That’s my general take too, in that we aren’t going to convince the Sarah Jeongs of the world that their worldview is insane and dangerous. I do think we have a chance to influence the nonzealots, though, and that’s where the battle is being fought. The problem is, the ideology has spread to the public schools, and humans tend to be conformist learners.

  32. Kevin says

    Great article. The phenomenon of “ritualized apology” would actually be comical if it was featured in some sort of satirical vehicle such as a play or an SNL skit. Unfortunately, it’s all too real, this bowing down to Liberal/Democrat/Socialist idealogical demands; the re-making of acceptable societal “norms”, the constant pounding of the “my way or no way” baseball bat into the rational, reasonable, “non-conformist” head. If we bow too low, we won’t even see the bat coming. Unfortunally as well, it’s just a small part of the blatantly obvious, vicious overall assault on freedom of speech, choice, interest, study, curiousity, simple, rational, thoughtful discussion, objection, dissent and disagreement.

  33. codadmin says

    They aren’t ‘social justice warriors’. They aren’t ‘do gooders’. They certainly are not ‘well meaning people with good intentions’.

    What they are is fascist. We know that by their behaviour.

    So, call them fascist. By all means, call them the fascist left, but, don’t get fancy. Leave your ego at the door and call a spade a spade.

    • dellingdog says

      Out of curiosity, how do you know what their intentions are?

      I think you’re defining “fascist” *very* broadly, using it as a derogatory term to describe your ideological opponents. People on the left make the same mistake when they refer to Republicans like President Trump as “fascist.” The concept loses its meaning when it’s used so carelessly. In my view, terms like “illiberal” and “regressive” are more useful and more accurate.

      • Peter from Oz says

        The meaning of the word ”fascist” has evolved. From what I can see it has two meanings, one of which is respectable and one of which is not.
        The more acceptable meaning is someone who is an extremist or zealot of a cause with whicch the speaker disagrees. I don’t mind that definition, because extremists and zealots are usually the kind of people who make trouble in the world and therefore need to be abused.
        The second and less acceptable meaning is someone who strongly asserts something with which the speaker disagrees. Thus, people who lable Donald Trump a fascist are using this definition, because it is clear that Trump is neither a zealot nor an extremist.

        • Ray Andrews says

          @Peter from Oz

          Well said. Trump is a narcissist and an opportunist and a showman, but he is not an fascist.

      • codadmin says

        The fascist left blames all of the worlds problems on white people. Their ideology is indistinguishable from the fascist right except for who they hate and blame.

        You have to be thick as two planks, or wilfully blind, to their intentions. They never stop ranting about evil white. They have a rigid hierarchal demonology that has white people in the same position as Hitler placed Jews.

        Trump is not a fascist. Liberals are not fascist. But, this movement of ‘SJW’s’ IS fascist.

        Technically, its wrong to associate them with the left, as that gives their hate legitimacy, as if they are one side of a genuine debate. But, for want of a better term, the fascist left is the most descriptive title out there.

      • The same goes for the term Nazi and now, unfortunately, racist. It started with the election of President Obama where anyone, of any party, who had a political disagreement with the President’s policy views was deemed a racist. As a result, racist got watered down the same way sexual assault is now water down to include “he looked at me in a way I didn’t like.” Nazi and facist are just the latest now with anyone to the right of Ocasio-Cortez being an “alt-right, white nationalist, Nazi, grand-wizard of the KKK, islama-homo-transphobe-sogynist.”

        • Ray Andrews says


          Rule: every emotionally overloaded term will eventually ‘inflate’ to uselessness.

        • Words shift in meaning. Facist and Nazi are good recent examples but the word ‘soon’ used to mean ‘immediately’ so it is far from a recent phenomena.

          It most definitely did not start with the election of Obama. There is an old British Comedy called the young ones in which one of the characters (Rick) is an immature naive student who is a wannabe leftist. He calls anyone who disagrees with him a ‘facist’. It was first broadcast in 1982. I am sure there are examples way before this.

  34. R Henry says

    It has been fascinating to observer how the term “justice: has been entirely co-opted by the progressive left. “Justice” no longer means getting what one deserves. Now, “justice” is ensuring the slothful, the vagrant, and the immoral possess the same things the ambitious, stable, and moral possess.

    “Justice,” in the contemporary vernacular is it’s own antithesis.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Well said, R Henry.
      As long as the progressive left believes that people are only identified by their group membership, then true justice cannot prevail.

  35. Michel says

    Great article–and lots of great comments. It’s stunning how “social justice” has come to mean almost the exact opposite of what we mean when we say “justice.” In the universities it has become entrenched, where it even takes the form of “social justice pedagogy,” i.e. discriminating against some students for the sake of others and substituting race/gender/sexuality studies for traditional course content. For a great example of how this takes place, see John Tierney (NYT science writer) on the “First-Year Experience” in universities: Getting into the usually soft target of first-year programs is a goal of social justice activists. The author here is right that Foucault is useful because a version of Foucault–that everything can be reduced to power relations–justifies the takeover of educational institutions by social justice activists. It’s all just power anyway.

    Administrators are totally clueless about what most of this. They are willing to throw some meat to activists to keep them occupied and out of their hair. Who really cares about what happens to the hearts and minds of students?

    People are starting to notice, but not much is being done. Too high a price to be paid if the social justice people target you. Nice parody of the whole thing here–it helps to laugh sometimes:

    • Peter from Oz says

      If everything is power, that means we are justified in putting all the SJWs in prison for being annoying little prats. There is no justification for their power, if they believe that there is no objectivity.

      • Ray Andrews says

        @Peter from Oz

        Better to hoist them by their own petards by sending them into the fields to learn from the peasants, as comrade Mao would have done. Tho, in this case perhaps they should be exported to Somalia to learn from the Somalis how wonderful multiculturalism is and how true it is that Islam is the religion of peace, and such an improvement over rotten old Christianity and how Afrocentrism is the key to future progress.

  36. Alphonse Credenza says

    Social justice, as used by the American Nazis in the 30s and through to the present day, has always been a utopian phrasing of nihilist ideals, propaganda designed to distract the weak-minded with promises of easy money and sex, to draw similar fraudsters into the oligarchy of control and to divest the liberty and property of the strong, who are unwilling to fight back. Now they have a real fight on their hands, these Regressives. It’s all over for them, now that it’s all out in the open.

    • dellingdog says

      You sound more like a Nazi than most SJWs I’ve read …

      • Ray Andrews says


        I admire your sticking it our here sir, your positions are not in the majority, it seems most commenters are not friends of SJW/Correctness. But you do not start shrieking that you’re being Oppressed. You maintain your civility.

        • dellingdog says

          @Ray, I don’t usually resort to ad hominem attacks, even though that’s the most common “argument” made against SJWs by commenters. (I’m an traditional liberal, for the record.) However, AC’s post *does* sound rather fascist to me, talking about how the weak have swindled “the strong” out of liberty and property and now the latter are ready to “fight back.” We can agree to disagree about the most plausible interpretation. That said, suggesting that I’m “shrieking” about “being oppressed” is a complete non sequitur. I’m a upper middle-class white male who has time to waste on message boards because I’m currently on sabbatical from my tenured teaching position. No oppression here.

          I read the comments because there are occasionally insightful posts, but there’s also a great deal of hysteria about how SJWs and the new Nazis and the West is on the brink of a fascist takeover. Although I fully support free speech and think that SJWs are generally misguided, I wish Quilletters would tone down the paranoid conspiracy thinking and apply the principle of charity to opposing views.

  37. a bee ee? says

    “Because social justice is essentially defined by a single norm—equality—defining its laws is reduced to identifying behaviors that produce inequality.”

    Wrong, Winston. Social justice is not concerned with equality, just power, pure power. It intends to replace white privilege with non-white privilege, patriarchy with matriarchy, etc. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

    • Michel says

      Mostly true. Power is the “good” that contemporary social justice activists, especially in universities, want to redistribute. And you are right that they don’t want simple equality of power. “Justice” for them is a little like criminal justice. They want to redistribute power unequally in order to redress the “structural” and unconscious ways that some groups will otherwise keep coming out on top (or so they fear). They want to discipline these groups and prevent them from having power that is equal to everyone else’s.

      “Power” for social justice activists requires tight control by a vanguard who knows better than anyone else how much power should be taken from some groups and given to others. That’s why they want speech under their control and why freedom of speech is their first and primary target and what needs to be abolished. For them, it is justified anyway because they do not believe that real knowledge is possible–it’s just a form of power to be used instrumentally (and so: grievance studies as this use of “knowledge” is sometimes now called). What’s interesting, too, is that this is now not only a field of study (social justice/grievance studies) but it is also a way of teaching, a way of structuring and conducting classes and forming behavior and speech patterns in students.

    • dellingdog says

      Please provide evidence that this is what social justice activists intend. In the absence of evidence, this is an unfounded conspiracy theory which says more about your psychology than that of SJWs. The amount of paranoia and projection in these comments is mind-boggling.

      • Aerth says

        Then why did they redefined racism so it is pretty much impossible to be racist towards white, while it is perceived as racism when whites make tiniest of slip? Why they make it such that pretty much disagreeing with black person over anything can be immediately branded as racism, while people like Yusra Khogali can puke out their anti-white bullshit and there are snowflakes ready to defend them if anyone say a word?

      • Michel says

        It’s happening across the US. Middlebury, Berkeley, Evergreen. Just follow the news. But, for a good start, read the City Journal article referenced a few posts above: First year programs in all their forms, including politicized academic courses, are often a focus of social justice politics/movement attention. It’s really brilliant. Who can oppose something called “social justice?” For a sober, very low-paranoia source of info, go to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education: Although you might change your mind about what is paranoid and what isn’t. It’s absolutely true that there are American universities that are still isolated from this, but increasingly few.

        • Pando says

          Sobriety suddenly speaks to discourse; I don’t need you or anyone to think for me. I can do that all alone. However, the contribution in any form can assist in the solidification of it’s under pinning’s. I am Human; Nothing Human is Alien to me…..

          • Pando says

   To my Daughter; I never thought would be mine. I’ve exhausted all other avenues. Speak to the Nature of that which surrounds you; Know an Echo for what it is and always be a product of Roger Williams. What we find is Muted; Until we understand………………. I am Independence and all else is Subjective circumstance……… Until it isn’t………..

  38. Indie Wifey says

    It’s so ironic that social media’s citizens united is comprised of those 1) anonymous ones with 2) the most free time on their thumbs – the babble of the rabble is the essence of a Darwinian inversion that will only dilute, weaken and lower all bars. Next up?the virtue vetted elimination of all great works and deeds – recent to ancient. Censorship and erasure potential is limitless. We will not only lose the pivotal works of Mankind; we will lose precious source materials from which any solid critical foundation could be built. No mirrors no lenses no windows or doors. Only vapid pretense with its underlying toxicity of unearned handout pseudo “accomplishment”

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