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Keeping the Praxis Straight

Today was (probably) the end of my affiliation with CFI-NYC. I came to the tenative conclusion last night, but hoped to leave on a high note; today's philosophy gathering was quite a good one, and happened to touch on some of the reason I'm leaving (although I didn't mention the leavitude while there). Largely, I'm frustrated with the recent focus on intersectionality and how it's led to many events being qualified (need to be ex-Christian, or ex-Muslim, or non-straight (which I'm qualified for, but this is not a matter of personal inconvenience so much as a philosophical dislike of qualified groups), or under-30, or similar.

Broadly speaking, we talked about social justice and activism for the whole session, particularly the recent events at a CFI "Women in Secular" conference that've been controversial.

One idea visible from the conversation (but not an explicit topic): two kinds of activism

  • Type 1: Activism based on sharing of experiences of victims of injustice, those inspiring the form and shape of activism. People who are not victims who wish to take part in activism are "allies".
  • Type 2: Activism based on broad philosophical consideration of injustice, that judging what is (actionable) injustice and what is not, and that defining the form and shape of activism. People are activists for things that fit their philosophy, regardless of identities involved, and there are no "allies".
I am strongly for Type 2; Type 1 turns activism into being about individuals one knows, and invites unthinking membership in a community inspired by this idea of being a "good ally", discouraging independent thought or the importance of a convincing argument. Any movement based on Type 1 should, I think, be torn apart so its energy can be directed towards a Type 2.

Many of my other criticisms and efforts to shape activism fit into this distinction; the idea that victims have a special (or defining) role in deciding on praxis comes naturally from type 1, and is equally repugnant from a type-2 perspective.