I’m squarely within your target audience for this piece, being someone who generally enjoys (most of) the consequences of capitalism, and who also is critical of SJ. I feel like you wrote this for me. But I liked your piece quite a bit, and I’d like to pose an analysis framework that goes beyond it, for the purposes of discussion.
Your piece can generally be summarized by the phrase, “Capitalism is just as much a bunch of made-up bullshit as Social Justice is. There’s nothing more ‘inherently true’ about it than there is about the SJ program.”
And I agree completely.
The very idea that money is of value at all has no real roots in hard science. No other animal has money. If we all quit believing it was of value, it would fail. Money itself is a great big consensual hallucination that we universally adopt because of its utility, and capitalism, by extension, is built on that hallucination.
But I take a wider view. Ethics itself is similarly made up bullshit. Government is a made up thing. Nationalism is a made up thing. Religion is a made up thing if you’re an atheist, and even if you’re religious then (all the other religions) are made up. Our lives as modern humans consist of a nested layer of indoctrinations that are almost entirely made-up-bullshit, which sit in a behavioral layer above the primate hardwiring and guide most of our actions throughout the day. And these indoctrinations are helpful to us, because they’re what allow us to have a society more advanced than primate hunter gatherer tribes. They also make it much easier to think, because in most of our daily scenarios we just run the programming.
I agree with you (I think) that identifying certain indoctrination programs as “made up bullshit” does not necessarily devalue their utility. “Look, social justice is made up bullshit!” is not a great critique of it, in the same way that “look, capitalism is a Grand Narrative!” is also a poor critique. In order to pose an honest critique of any of these things, we need to start by admitting they’re nothing more than societal framework indoctrinations, and then evaluate them based not on their inherent truthiness, but on their utility.
And if we do that with a pure scientific lens, the indoctrinations that have the most utility are the ones that help us emulate ants…
…because the ants were, are, and will remain, much more successful organisms that we are.
Money does this, and by extension capitalism (in the non crony form) also does it, because it facilitates decentralization of decision making in the same way that ant pheromones facilitate decentralized decision making. Other things help us emulate ants in other ways, such as golden rule indoctrination, and nationalist indoctrination.
A far more honest and useful critique of Social Justice would not be to point out it’s lack of inherent truth, but instead look at its utility in maintaining a strong ant colony analogue. In its current form, SJ is very poor at this.
I think one of the reasons it’s so poor at it, is it was developed in a crowdsourced, decentralized mode, without realizing what it actually is. It’s a set of societal operations indoctrinations that are directly analogous to a religion. Because they didn’t seem to realize what they were doing, they accidentally dragged in a bunch of the baggage that other religions dragged in. Further, their virtue framework is completely upside down, because it rewards victimhood, creates a victimhood matrix, and encourages people in different spots in the victimhood matrix to attack each other.
Social Justice is a Crowdsourced Religion
Future historians chronicling the Grand American Culture War of the Twenty Teens will identify three mostly distinct…
That’s a terrible way to run an ant colony, especially when there are other ant colonies at the gates who don’t work that way.
If everyone on both sides of the argument just stepped aside from the battle lines and realized what SJ is, then I think the discussion could be much more fruitful for everyone involved. It might also afford the SJ folks some better tools to fix the broken stuff within it, to make an operational meme with more utility. SJ is interesting in that unlike classical religions, it has an update mechanic built in, because of the crowdsourcing. But it’s not self aware enough to know what needs to be fixed within it.
I find it fascinating they were able to get the thing off the ground through a primarily crowdsourced model. I think if that methodology could be unpacked better, it could be rolled out for existing world religions to adopt as an update, or for new 21st century religions to use. That’s one thing they pioneered, and did very well at.