Free Markets, Free People

“Cultural libertarians” v. “Social Justice Warriors”

Or said another way, anti-authoritarians v. authoritarians.  Although the author of the cited article would like you to believe his “coined phrase’ describes a new movement, yeah, not so much.  Some of us have been fighting this battle for over 25 years.  That said, it’s an interesting article.  Here’s the intro (read the whole thing):

A new force is emerging in the culture wars. Authoritarians of all stripes, from religious reactionaries to left-wing “social justice warriors,” are coming under fire from a new wave of thinkers, commentators, and new media stars who reject virtually all of their political values.

From the banning of Charlie Hebdo magazine across British university campuses on the grounds that it promoted islamophobia, to the removal of the video game Grand Theft Auto V from major retailers in Australia on the grounds that it promoted sexism, threats to cultural freedom proliferate.

But a growing number of commentators, media personalities and academics reject the arguments that underpin these assaults on free expression, in particular the idea that people are either too emotionally fragile to deal with “offence” or too corruptible to be exposed to dangerous ideas.

In a recent co-authored feature for BreitbartI coined a term to describe this new trend: cultural libertarianism. The concept was critically discussed by Daniel Pryor at the Centre for a Stateless Society, who drew attention to the increasing viciousness of cultural politics in the internet age.

There is a reason for the sound and fury. Like all insurgent movements, the emergence of cultural libertarianism is creating tensions, border skirmishes, and even the occasional war with lazy incumbent elites. Some of these rows can be breathtakingly vitriolic, as self-righteous anger from social justice types collides with mocking and occasionally caustic humour from cultural libertarians.

It’s not a new trend, folks.  It is as old as anti-authoritarianism – and that’s hardly new.  But it seems, given the nature of man, that opposition to authoritarianism has always been an “insurgent movement”.  For whatever reason, but primarily false “security”, we, as human beings seem to tend toward various aspects of authoritarianism.  My guess is because freedom is hard and it allows a lot of things many of us find a bit hard to tolerate (which is part of the irony, since SJW claim to be “tolerant” but are mostly intolerant of any ideas but their own – and don’t mind looking for ways to stifle those they don’t agree with).

Anyway, I’ve been fighting that battle in this format (blog) for 12 years.  Before that, a few years on usenet, and before the internet, on multiple BBS sites (you remember BBS’s where you used your dial up and nifty PK zip and PK unzip to send message packets).  Authoritarianism didn’t begin when the internet was invented nor has resistance to it been a recent phenomenon.

That said, it’s good that it continues and, in the age of the internet, is growing even more than it was prior to the internet.  That’s because people can find each other no matter where they may be.  And, it seems, they’re doing so.  That’s a very good thing.  It allows “calls to arms” and those of a like mind to rally in opposition.  Of course, that works for the other side as well, but, as has been my experience, when confronted with their own words, especially as they’ve tried to redefine them (especially when you deconstruct them), well, they are rarely ever able to explain the hypocrisy. The phrase “I don’t think that word means what you think it means” has never been more true with confronting SJWs.

The other important thing that happens is the anti-authoritarian arguments are now broadcast more widely, so for those who are interested, they’re readily available.  Some folks know that what they’re hearing from the SJWs isn’t quite right, but they can’t put their finger on the explanation or counter argument.  With the number of well written arguments now published on line in opposition to the authoritarian/SJW arguments, that’s no longer a problem.

Because of the internet, that formerly insurgent movement isn’t necessarily isolated to a geographic region or cultural group.  It’s no longer necessarily “insurgent”.  It now has the ability to spread and spread quickly.  I find that to be a consummate “good thing”, even if some guy at Breitbart who is likely in his mid 20s, thinks this is all “new”.


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9 Responses to “Cultural libertarians” v. “Social Justice Warriors”

  • One of the great things about being young is enjoying the delusion that you just discovered a new big deal, when all you did was stumble across something your elders have known for…like…ever.

    It’s kinda fun to watch, truth to tell…

  • I see it as a millennium long battle between people who want to centralize power and people who want power decentralized. After a 1000 year crawl out of the muck, centralizing power was anathema to our society until 100 years ago. About then Serfdom was dusted off and re-tools slightly for the industrial age and the turd polished with modern advertising techniques and sold as new, aka socialism (which includes Communism).

    Also, imho, the only thing I see that the internet enabled were echo chambers. The same echo chambers that might enable ‘anti-authoritarianism’ moments has enable the religious fever for ‘authoritarianism’.

    • Nah, centralizing power has been the goal all along.
      Religions have been centralizing power forever and ancient governments did their best to build communication infrastructures that would permit faster communication for getting the word out and in, but it was always gated by your fastest means of moving meaningful information in any volume. But the object was always extending control.

      But effective centralization of power results in centralizing information. And while information usually results in many improvements in control it also results in the formation of ‘insurgents’ with their crazy ideas like freedom and rights and other foul anti-authoritarian ideas! Worse yet, they proceed to use the very mechanism intended to extend control to spread their insanity!

      Information flow has always been the key – Everyone blames the fall of the Soviet Union on economics, but it was information flow too. The Russians could no longer be convinced that urban New Jersey was a Potemkin village to fake out Kruschev and his advisers.

      When the authoritarians can’t control the flow of info any more it upsets their applecart.
      Witness the sudden Chinese realization that they may have let the genie out of the bottle too (and again, they’ve seen it too late).
      Witness the fury of the Islamic fundamentalists in trying to eradicate not just crazy westerners, but their crazy ideas. There’s a reason they want to go back to the 12th century that has nothing to do with a simpler life or Allah.

      From Gutenberg on it’s been the battle of more readily available information and ideas spreading from place to place that has continued to thwart permanent implementation of authoritarian goals.

      Damn the Appian way! Damn Gutenberg! Damn the internet!

  • If a person has spent a life in today’s educational system, and not studied any history or philosophy on the side, then these ideas probably *are* new – to that person.

    Doesn’t excuse lack of research, though. Especially since research no longer requires trudging down to a dusty building, anyone claiming to describe something new ought to be checking on that. My respect for a writer or “thinker” who does not do such research goes down.

  • I like to say we all wear the Smithsonian in our pockets or on our hips, but actually that’s too limited. We have WAY more than that accessible! One of the reasons that…if we can get past the next few years…the future of humanity is so BRIGHT! (Apologies to our resident Eeyores.)

    • Oh don’t mind us, we’ll just sit in our twig houses and remind ourselves why we have to be glum 🙂

  • To quote Ken White:

    A robot must not link to Breitbart, or, through inaction, allow a human to link to Breitbart.
    A robot must not read Breitbart, except where not reading Breitbart would conflict with the first law.
    A robot must protect itself from Breittbart links, except where such protection would conflict with the first or second law.

  • Some folks know that what they’re hearing from the SJWs isn’t quite right, but they can’t put their finger on the explanation or counter argument. With the number of well written arguments now published on line in opposition to the authoritarian/SJW arguments, that’s no longer a problem.

    >>>> The problem is that it will most likely take lead pipes and baseball bats as opposed to well written arguments to deal with these people. I don’t advocate this violence at all, I merely foretell what’s coming, and right soon. Human nature makes it easy to see coming.