Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Defining SJ

(Latest in a long series of efforts to communicate part of this cluster of ideas; if you're bored of my endless restatements on this, skip this)

As I generally find a lot of fault with social justice warriors, yet still consider myself to solidly believe in their causes, I think it may be worthwhile to lay out a "manifesto for the sensible". I could call it a manifesto for moderates, but moderation is not something I think to be intrinsically good; there are times when being immoderate is not only acceptable, it is the only acceptable thing. That said, I think there's an unfortunate set of ideas floating out there, well-defined and not opposed by any other well-defined positions, just a mainstream that cares but doesn't bother to explain its views. This leads to obnoxious ideas derived from critical theory having center stage.

I assert that my perspectives on these topics are:1) Sufficient to solve the problems worth solving2) Sufficient to analyse historical and current injustices3) Balanced against the rest of my values, and4) By extension, easy to balance against reasonably-mainstream values, as they are not tailored narrowly to focus on a few problems in a way that damage the implementation of a lot of other values

The fourth point bears some elaboration; there are things that we think are generally good ideas for legal and social mechanisms, based on posibilities and often actualities of abuse. "Don't accept assertions of guilt without evidence", "permit a variety of perspectives to comfortably in society", "be extremely reluctant to accept strong notions of group responsibility", "be civil", "be data-driven", and so on. A reasonable person who is interested in many problems of society will have a longer list than this, and many of them will be reasonably firm commitments; if they discover a new activism, they're not likely to give up on general principles in order to pursue specific causes; instead, they'll try to persuade, they'll only police actions that cause a very concrete (if not always material) harm, and they'll take the long view that enough of this kind of activism will usually eventually achieve their ends.

Moving into the specific; racism and sexism. I see racism and sexism as being significantly about intent, and failures in them as being about a lack of personal virtue; the centre of my position is that, on the topic of race, we are one species, and we should emphasise that unity and accept some level of obligation towards each other regardless of race, and generally reject special obligations or treatment of specific races. On the topic of gender, I assert that while there are two sexes and our genetics shapes some of our tendencies and generally our body specifics, the social implications of whether we're male or female should be very small, not limiting who we can love, what jobs we can have, how we're treated in the workplace, or what hobbies or roles we're suited for.

I accept limited exceptions on both of those basic principles, but they need to be strongly justified, and the bar for doing so is, for me, very high. I accept/support affirmative action in schooling (and nowhere else), until certain conditions are met in which case the programmes will no longer be justifiable. I accept differences relating to birthing (meaning I think a longer maternity leave should be mandatorially offered than a paternity one). I accept different bathrooms, on the other hand, of being of trivial effect and as a comfort issue.

I see intent as being crucial for evaluating barriers to the radical weakening of gender/race roles in society; I trust that if we can root out actualised racist/sexist intent, the other problems worth solving will sort themsort out in time, and I am wary of stronger actions. I am also wary of calling things racist or sexist if they are not clearly driven by racist/sexist intent; to me, that's what those terms mean and absent the intent, the terms are misused.

I think we need to retain the ability to talk about culture that is sex-and-or-race-linked. By talk about, I include criticism, praise, and shaping.

I entirely reject use of guilt or race/sexual identity to exclude people from a conversation. Some forms of feminism are particularly broken on this front, and those forms are to be criticised for this failing. There are other aspects of bad discourse that occur in SJ-movements, and criticism of those problems is, I hold, mandatory if we are to keep those movements working properly. Finally, I hold that activism needs to be tailored primarily to move policies, and to move views of the mainstream. Radical theories, like Dworkinism or most forms of Trans-activism, should be rejected; they may have shades of truth in their analyses, but their end-goals trample reasonable diversity of perspective and their activism is not capable of producing more than backwards motion.

I significantly but do not entirely reject the goal of working for more than material notions of nondiscrimination. I believe the desired end-state of activism is a society that is deeply divided between perspectives on most issues of philosophy (including definitions of race, gender, and the like), where the philosophies are rival and oppose each other, where everybody mocks and feels free to disapprove of any and every other perspective and every identity, but where there is a solid expectation of physical safety, harassment along these lines is significantly absent, and an expectation that neither identity nor perspective will usually be relevant to employment nor will identity or perspective generally create special legal privilege, role, or disability. There will be no dignity, no enforced respect, and no allowance for history on these fronts. Appropriation is to be celebrated, and even revival of historical elements that were once tainted by racism or sexism, provided that revival is done absent real intent along those lines, is acceptable. People who want something more than that are marked by me as intolerant, even if they are liberal and working on behalf of traditionally disadvantaged groups, and I vow opposition.

This is my liberalism. It is rude. It celebrates mockery. It is also tolerant, and it achieves social justice. Its rudeness is a strength, like the medieval jester; it is not politically correct - it speaks truth to power, and speaks truth to weakness. It does not mandate dignity; it considers dignity something people and groups must pursue on their own, with no special support and with little ability to nag people into. It is, in my case, paired with a technocratic socialism that aims to materially provide for the well-being of society with strong social programmes, an academic bent, and well-designed policies.


  • Typing in Colours

    (Cross-posted to G+, but it's more of a definitive statement of views so it goes here too) A recent instance of 「Wasted Talent」: here I'm not…

  • Loyalty

    This is meant to address three ideas: Don't blame the victim If you care for me, you'd support me unconditionally Safe zonesAnd to be a topic in…

  • What Do We Owe Each Other?

    One of the central questions in political philosophy, or perhaps one of the most intuitive initial framings, is "what do we owe each other?". I…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded