This might seem ridiculous. It’s certainly ironic. But before you write me off, read what I mean in this week’s edition of “Isn’t That Ironic?”.
What is social justice today? Of course, the term means many things, but it’s not your “summer church camp—Kumbaya—peace and equality for everyone” experience of yesteryear. Today’s beast is something completely different. The images you’ve seen on TV of social justice warriors rioting through cities, vandalizing black-owned businesses in the name of racial justice, assaulting passersby for their “white privilege” even if they’re not white, and screaming “racist” at everyone who disagrees with them, did not spring from summer church camps. From whence did they come?
That requires a little understanding of philosophy. Let me digress into Critical Theory. It’s necessary.
I’ve recently come across a few articles and interviews that have helped me understand what seems incomprehensible to most of us. One is an article called, The Cancel God, by Peter Limberg and Lubomir Arsov. They propose that our cancel culture has actually created a man-made, nihilistic “god” who wants to cancel everything. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, and their ideas shined a new light on what’s happening.
Even more helpful to me, was a podcast interview with Keri Smith on the show Triggernometry, titled, “How I Left the Social Justice Cult”. It’s a great interview. I encourage you to watch the whole thing. But like I said, before we can understand these, I think we need a little background on the philosophy behind the world’s currently dominant ideology that you’ve probably never heard of: Critical Theory.
In sociology and political philosophy, "Critical Theory" means the Western-Marxist philosophy of the Frankfurt School, developed in Germany in the 1930s and drawing on the ideas of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud.
Keep that in mind. This ideology is a variant of Marxism, a fatally flawed set of ideas that have been completely debunked in theory (Read “Socialism” by Ludwig von Mises) and totally disgraced in practice (Read “The Gulag Archipelago” by Alexander Solzhenitsyn).
…it argues that social problems are influenced and created more by societal structures and cultural assumptions than by individual and psychological factors. Maintaining that ideology is the principal obstacle to human liberation… it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them."
That is, the problems humans face are outside themselves, created by society not by themselves, therefore, only by changing others can an individual solve his own problems. The ridiculousness of this should be obvious. How can all of us solve our own problems by trying to change everyone around us, while everyone else is trying to do the same thing?
All religions begin by understanding that our problems are within us. Only by changing ourselves can we solve our problems. All religions aim at individual personal transformation (or conversion) as the route to both personal enlightenment (or salvation) and for progress in society as a whole. Therefore, Critical Theory is fundamentally opposed to all religions. There is no reconciling these two divergent views of reality. And they lead to completely different results in society. I would almost be tempted to call them heaven and hell. (More on that next week.)
Let me put these heady intellectual concepts into practice for a moment. If you believe, “that social problems are influenced and created more by societal structures and cultural assumptions than by individual and psychological factors” then it’s logical to believe that the black high school dropout who just got busted for selling illegal drugs is a victim. It’s not his fault that he fell in with the wrong crowd, went along to get along, fried his brain with cocaine, choose not to get the free education that the state provided him, and turned to a life of crime instead. Oh no. He’s an innocent victim. He doesn’t need to change himself. All his problems are caused by institutional racism, white privilege, or whatever other bogus names you can invent as excuses. It’s all you folks who need to change. And I’m going to tell you how to change! This is the practical outcome of the insane philosophy of Marxist Critical Theory.
Keri Smith’s Experience in the “Cult” of Social Justice
But let’s return to the experience of Keri Smith. In her interview, she described social justice.
“Social justice (or Identitarianism) is a mutated form of Marxism that is based around identity and power rather than around wealth and class.”
She was indoctrinated into this ideology in university 20 years ago. In “Women’s Studies”, she learned about critical race theory, queer theory, and every other variant of Critical Theory. It became a kind of religion.
“It’s a way of feeling like you are doing good in the world. It gives you a moral plan for how to operate in the world. It contradicts itself a lot. It’s not internally consistent. But for a lot of people, it functions in the place where religion might be. I was in it for 20 years and it operates like a cult.”
We are starting to get a sense of the quasi-religious aspect of this ideology. As with all forms of Marxism, it is aggressively atheistic to the point of being anti-religion.
Here’s another thing. If you, like me, wonder why the words are always changing—why “global warming” became “climate change”; why “homosexual” became “gay”, and then morphed again and again until now we don’t even have a name but an acronym, “LGBTQ+”; why “colored” became “negro”, then “black”, then “African-American”, then diverged so much we have another acronym, “BIPOC”, read on. It’s about confusion and control, just like George Orwell wrote about in “1984”.
“They are very concerned with language. You can control people if you can control their thought and you can control their thought if you can control language.”
Ah, so this philosophy is not about freedom and equality and respect. It’s about control. That sounds like the Marxism I know.
“Early on they redefine terms, such as, ‘Racism and sexism are prejudice plus power.’”
This is institutional racism and sexism. Simple racism is different, it’s not real racism, she says. “So I can call you all kinds of slurs as a white male and that’s not racist or sexist.”
I’m starting to understand why all the “racism” talk is so obviously slanted, even racist—why people can think that a name like “Black Lives Matter” is not racist but “White Lives Matter” is incredibly racist.
The Problem with Ideological Marxism
As with all ideologies, it is a world view, a way of perceiving and interpreting the world, a pattern of thinking. But as with all patterns of thinking, it is both a blessing and a curse. It helps us to understand certain things about reality, but by doing so it constrains our minds so that we do not perceive other aspects of reality. We perceive in the world around us that which we have already created in our minds. That’s a spiritual understanding. If you prefer a psychological understanding, we could see it as the confirmation bias at work.
Critical Theory uses Marxist thinking about groups rather than individuals as the actors in life. Most normal folks recognize that it is individuals who act in the world. But Marx figured otherwise. He thought only groups act. Groups are the locus of identity, not individuals. In Critical Theory, the focus is on groups struggling for power rather than classes struggling for wealth. Therefore, instead of the classical Marxist desire to redistribute wealth, the social justice warriors want to redistribute power. Keri says,
“The best way to look at the world is as a struggle for power. Power is at the center of this belief system. The world is a struggle for power between identity groups, and we need to redistribute power.”
You will likely remember the three temptations that Jesus faced in the desert. They are the classic temptations of the world—the biggest temptation is that of power. All religions teach us to turn away from these temptations. Critical Theory teaches its adherents to covet it.
The Connection to Cancel Culture
“Today, several times a day, there will be news articles about somebody being outraged over something. It’s all a part of this belief system that tells people, “you need to find this hidden racism and sexism and homophobia in everything.’”
Social Justice—Critical Theory encourages people to cultivate their “oppressed” identities, even ones they don’t have, because it’s a badge of moral superiority. Herein lies part of the current glamor of the popularity of sexual deviancies, addictions, finding your oppressed heritage, your skin color, your counter-cultural beliefs (as long as that’s not Christianity), even obesity. It’s a narcissistic, self-destroying ideology where you raise your social standing by exaggerating the worst, most base, and primitive aspects of who you are.
You are encouraged to “identify” with all that is negative, weak, evil, joyless, despicable in yourself. Yet all religions, especially Christianity, encourage people to find the best in themselves and others. Turn away from the seven capital vices and turn toward the seven theological and cardinal virtues.
This Social Justice ideology of evil encourages pride instead of humility; lust instead of purity; avarice instead of charity; anger instead of joy; sloth instead of industry; envy instead of justice; gluttony instead of temperance. It replaces a supernatural God of religion with a “god” of human origins that more resembles what we think of as Satan.
As Winston Churchill astutely observed many years ago, this, “… is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
Since all your problems are caused by others, all those other people need to change—to suit you. Hence the cancel culture, the eternal offense-taking, the constant blame-finding and shaming of others. Social Justice Warriors are always looking for someone to resent. They will find you.
Most of us are operating from the church camp—Kumbaya mentality. We think, “Sure, we want to be respectful to everyone, treat everyone fairly, don’t discriminate against anyone.” So we go along with an ideology that is nothing like what we imagine. That’s how we end up at a Black Lives Matter march, thinking we are supporting equality, and are surprised when people beat up bystanders, vandalize buildings, even take control of part of Seattle and set up a new “country”.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Sheri got out of the cult of Social Justice. After 20 years, she realized she was now being asked to justify censorship and violence. It started to wake her up. Maybe it will wake up others. Maybe the riots and violence of 2020 are starting to wake you up. Maybe the cancelling of people you know, like Don Cherry, Rex Murphy, Jessica Mulroney, Michael Kornberg, Stockwell Day has you questioning how this can be “justice” in any meaningful sense of the word. Perhaps people will gradually come to see that true tolerance means being tolerant of everyone, especially those with whom you disagree. True peace means attacking no one, not even those you think are attacking you. True love means being kind even to those who mistreat you. Is this starting to sound familiar? Isn’t this what Jesus taught? This isn’t what Social Justice-Critical Theory teaches.
Social Justice—Critical Theory has become the dominant belief system in media, in education at all levels, in government, and in our “elites” throughout the Western World. Yeah, that list represents the control of just about everything. So is there hope? I think so.
I’ve been saying for years that we are reliving Germany in the 1930s. At that time and place only a tiny minority of people really supported Hilter’s ideas. The vast majority just “went along” because they didn’t want to make waves, didn’t want to lose their jobs, didn’t want to be shamed. They didn’t to stand up to the bully, so they were eventually destroyed by him. We can’t do that again. We can’t just “go along” with this insane ideology any longer. What happened then is summarized in the famous poem by Martin Niemoller.
First they came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up, because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak up for me.
The first step in dealing with a bully is to call him out. That’s what I’m doing right here. I’m calling a spade a spade. Social Justice is bullying. It’s a Marxist ideology that is anti-God and anti-humanity. Just like other forms of Marxism, it is inherently unjust, leads inexorably to violence, and ends up destroying people and civilizations.
There are other steps we need to take. But those are for subsequent posts. This one has been far too long already. For those of you who still think social justice is about doing good and saving humanity, and not about grabbing power, let me end with this comment by the famous and insightful journalist (back when journalists were still insightful), H.L. Mencken.
“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it.”
God Bless You!
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