Saturday, June 16, 2018

Definitions of and for identitarians, neoliberals, and social justice warriors

Neoliberalism: Contemporary capitalism that promotes privatization and deregulation. Replaced Keynesian/New Deal liberalism in the late 20th century. Prominent neoliberals include Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Tony Blair, Justin Trudeau, and Emmanuel Macron. Extreme neoliberalism practiced by people like Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and the Presidents Bush is also known as neoconservatism.

Socialism: The belief that our economic class—whether we can live off income from what we own or must work to survive—matters most, and therefore wealth must be shared. Socialism can be democratic or authoritarian. Though socialists prioritize class, the history of the struggle for equal rights for women and people of color is filled with socialists, from Charles Fourier who gave feminism its name to Martin Luther King, a democratic socialist.

Identitarianism: The belief that our social identities—race, gender, nationality, religion, and so on—matter most. Right-identitarians believe people of certain identities are superior. Left-identitarians believe people of all identities should be equally represented from the top to the bottom of society.

Right-identitarianism is ancient. The belief that men are superior to women is, as Marx and Engels noted, as old as the class system, and the idea that white people are superior dates back to the invention of race and “white people” in the 17th century.

Left-identitarianism is much younger. After the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Ivy League academics like Derrick Bell, father of Critical Race Theory, rejected the anti-capitalism of thinkers like King and Malcolm X. Where socialists saw sexism and racism as tools of the rich to divide workers, liberal reformers saw unique forms of prejudice and oppression that could be addressed in isolation. This reductionist approach sometimes put feminists and anti-racists at odds. To resolve this tension, one of Bell’s students, Kimberlé Crenshaw, developed the theory of intersectionality.

Intersectionality: Originally, the belief that race and gender are independent forms of oppression that sometimes intersect, creating unique hardships for people like women of color who are doubly oppressed. Left identitarians have added class to their analysis, but it fits awkwardly: people with social identities want respect for their identities, but poor people want an end to their economic class.

Social justice: Originally, the belief that the rich should treat the poor with respect and kindness. First developed by Catholic priests in the early 1840s as an alternative to the growing movements for democracy and socialism that resulted in the revolutions of 1848, social justice remained a religious concept for over one hundred years—the famously anti-semitic Father Coughlin published a magazine called Social Justice, and during the civil rights era, people like King and Malcolm X did not use the term.

In the 1980s, the name was appropriated by left identitarians to describe their concern for social rather than economic justice.

Social justice worker: Someone who works in the world to help the poor. Social justice workers like Dorothy Day and Dom Hélder Pessoa Câmara treated everyone with love and respect. Their tactics include civil disobedience and peaceful protest.

Social justice warrior: Someone who rages online about social identity. Social justice warriors reject civility and “tone policing”, and treat their targets with contempt. Their tactics include censorship, doxxing, blacklisting, and death threats. For an early example of SJWs doxxing and terrorizing a woman in the science fiction community, see The Outing of Zathlazip.

Possibly of interest

Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems by George Monbiot.