Cancel Culture as a Religion
What with Good Liberals like Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan getting disfellowshipped from the Church of Big Media over the last week, it gives me an excuse to descant on the whole question of the religion of the Church of Woke America.
Even the wokies at La Wik admit the concept of the Duck test.
If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck and burns witches like a duck, it is a duck.
What do religions do? They have a belief system. They have an orthodoxy, and if you don’t conform to the orthodoxy you are a heretic.
Here in Seattle Spiked reports that the “Office of Civil Rights has come up with a ‘race and social justice’ curriculum which the city government’s 10,000 employees must undertake.”
Staff are expected to go through various humiliating exercises, including ‘processing white feelings’ of ‘sadness’, ‘shame’ and ‘confusion’ (don’t black people ever feel those emotions?), considering their ‘relationships with white supremacy’, describing their own ‘white silence’ and ‘white fragility’, and noting the supposedly internalised white values of racism, among them ‘objectivity’, ‘perfectionism’ and ‘comfort’ (also unique to whites according to woke types -- and therefore bad).
This is what the Inquisition did. This is what the Soviets did. This is what the Maoists did. This is what the Wokies are doing. Any questions?
And when the ruling class gets the bit in its teeth and goes beyond simply stringing people up for violating the criminal law and starts canceling them for evil thoughts, then you got Trouble with a capital T right here in River City.
Now, Rav Dov Fischer says that if you are a rabbi or a high-stakes lawyer, both of which he is, you cannot do your job unless you get into the minds of other people, and figure out how and why they think the way they do. Doesn’t matter if they are idiots, if you want to help your congregants or demolish your opponent in a lawsuit, you have to figure out how they tick.
Here’s how lefties tick. They take the received notions about science and declare that they are the only people that can read the runes. So Marx analyzed the caribou bones of classical economics and declared the “immiseration” of the working class. Therefore, Marxist rich kids should have absolute power to change the world.
Today we have the interpreters of what I call the German Turn -- adepts of Max Horkheimer and Herbert Marcuse -- saying that everything is interpretation; there is no absolute truth. Horkheimer made the point that Enlightenment leads to domination, of things and of men. So today we have the wokies, mentioned by James Lindsay, who believe that
reason, rationality, science, evidence, epistemic adequacy, and other Enlightenment-based tools of persuasion are the very thing they think produced injustice in the world in the first place… Their methods are, instead, storytelling and counter-storytelling, appealing to emotions and subjectively interpreted lived experience, and problematizing arguments morally, on their moral terms.
So the wokies look at the caribou bones of German psychology and decide that reason and logic are the tools of oppression. Therefore Critical Social Justice Theory kids should have absolute power to change the world.
Notice the pattern?
When the reigning worldview was logic and reason, lefties said that logic and reason required that they should have absolute power. Now that the reigning worldview is about psychology and feelings, lefties say that feelings require that they should have absolute power.
At least they are consistent.
The one consistent thread in all human politics derives from my maxim, that “the only warrant for government power is existential peril.” If you want to deploy government power, you have to persuade people -- or bully them -- into believing that force is the only recourse. The capitalists are coming! The white supremacists are coming!
But then, of course, there would be no need for socialists and cancel cultures and all the delicious bullying and doxxing and mostly peaceful protesting and yard signs and all.
Because not everyone in the world wants to slay the monsters. As Sarah Hoyt says to people like you and me:
you’re something quite new in the world. You neither want to be ruled, nor to rule. You want to rule yourself.
But think of the poor would-be activist hero. What kind of a world would it be if everyone were living their life and just minding their business? It would be a world with no place for activist heroes. It would be a horrid hobbit sort of place, with annoyingly placid Bilbos and Frodos puffing away on their pipes.
The Eternal Church of Activists and Social Justice Warriors is determined to conduct an auto da fé of all Bilbos and Frodos before they do any more damage.