Social Justice is a dangerous, illiberal ideology that is taking over society. Although often associated with “liberalism” in the United States, it is explicitly anti-liberal. One of the core pillars of Critical Race Theory, upon which one dimension of Social Justice ideology rests, is a critique of liberalism, where “critique” is meant as Karl Marx used it and “liberalism” is the broad philosophy of individual liberty upon which the United States was founded.
One of the easiest ways to understand how illiberal Social Justice can be is available to anyone who attempts to criticize it. Those who criticize Social Justice are not thanked for helping to improve its tenets. Rather, they’re called bigots, homophobes, Nazis, grifters, misogynists, or, the trump card meant to silence all conversation: racists.
Proving its commitment to illiberalism even further, when the accused denies these accusations and demands evidence to substantiate claims that they’re racist, this denial is taken as evidence of guilt. To ask for evidence of racism is considered a form of willful ignorance of racism, according to Social Justice. Then, when the accused points out the obvious, that name calling isn’t an argument and they’d like to have a conversation about the manifestation of Social Justice that led them to be accused in the first place, nobody comes forward to converse. In the Social Justice ideological paradigm, conversing with someone who’s been accused of being a racist, sexist, or bigot would be acting in complicity with racism. (There’s even a word in their lexicon for this, “platforming.”) So conversation is a priori ruled out.
But Social Justice’s illiberalism is actually far worse. In many situations, because nobody comes forward to speak with the accused—in spite of the fact that he has pleaded with adherents and enforcers of Social Justice ideology to have a conversation—a narrative is then constructed that paints the accused as someone who does not want to have a conversation with anyone with whom he disagrees. Moreover, this is often reframed as the accused being unwilling to have a conversation about racism!
And this is exactly what has happened to me. I have called out Social Justice ideology for being dangerous, illiberal, and unjust. I have stated that it’s an ideology for which not only is there at best scant evidence for its particular claims, but there is actually an entire body of established scientific literature (biology, up against gender studies and queer theory, for example) that contradicts many of its underlying assumptions (e.g., that differences between men and woman are entirely social constructs). I have asked my colleagues and the administration at Portland State University, where I teach, to provide evidence for policies and practices that may be institutionalized (trigger warnings, safe spaces), and I have sent them evidence (Scott Lilienfeld’s or Jon Haidt and Greg Lukianoff’s work) that contradicts these policies. I’ve either been ignored, or ridiculed, or told I’m committing a microaggression and making people feel unsafe. Requests for evidence have even been characterized as having caused them trauma.
From the outside, of course it looks like I’m not having conversations with those who have substantive disagreements, but this is because in Social Justice communities if anyone has a conversation with me they’re contributing to a platform where their claims about reality can be questioned and where alternative views can be explained. And why would they want to do that, given the moral certitude they place in their conclusions? They wouldn’t, especially because Social Justice has been remarkably effective at spreading throughout the society—government (see Benjamin A Boyce’s videos on YouTube), media, tech (note the controversy around the infamous “Google memo”), and, quintessentially, the academy.
The unwillingness of Social Justice adherents to speak with me—or others who challenge their doctrines—does not stop them from accusing me of not wanting to speak with them. In fact, it escalates those accusations. This is because the primary method of Social Justice is to accuse, whether true or false, sensible or insensible, and to manipulate everything that follows into further accusations.
Sadly, this is exactly the response one would predict given that Social Justice ideology is highly aggressive, intrinsically political, and completely in conflict with science, evidence, and reason. If it were backed by science, evidence, and reason, science evidence and reason would be presented in conversation and there would be no need to call anyone names or accuse people who want to have conversations of not wanting to have conversations. The Social Justice canons would also not need to build an infrastructure that insulates itself from criticism and uses name calling and accusation as the primary tool to dispense its ideological enemies. Rather, it would encourage dialogue, conversation, and even debate. Instead, it sees discourse not as an effective means for determining truth but as yet another political project to oppress people.
Social Justice cannot continue to be taken seriously on its own terms, which it has literally made up. It must be taken seriously in terms of the threat it poses to liberal and civil society, which it is actively undermining and seeks to destroy. I am just one man, of course, but the problems I’m facing are becoming commonplace throughout society—in workplaces, schools, academia, hobby groups, online, and even in churches. As Social Justice creeps into everything and rewrites it with illiberalism, accusations, unfairness, and a conspicuous refusal to have a reasoned conversation about anything it proposes, we put ourselves and our societies at tremendous risk of losing the norms civil society needs to function. We must stand up to Social Justice ideology. We must fight. New Discourses is helping us do exactly that.