I was sitting at a stop light this morning. It was 9am, window down, cigarette in hand and yet to take the first soul-restoring sip of my coffee when I heard a noise that my brain connected as human language. It was the driver beside me. My brain reeled. He was talking to me. Was my gas cap hanging? Did my car have some unforeseen doom the kind motorist was trying to point out? Not at all. He was admonishing me. For smoking. In my car.
Welcome to Vancouver. Capital of the Social Justice belt.
While this amusing anecdote is by no means the cause of the fall of Western Civilization, it is a symptom of a greater disease. I had spent over a decade in China, away from Vancouver and its evolving sensibilities, so when I returned in 2013 the contrast was both stark and immediate. People expressed themselves in polite but overly dysfunctional ways. Friends I had considered intelligent and well reasoned obsessed over social faux pas like which side of the escalator to stand on. They complained about affordable housing while insisting that they would only work for an ethical employer with in office yoga. It had seemed that Vancouver, this once great bastion of commerce, had become infected with something other.
The other in question goes by (or rather has co-opted) many names; Social Justice, Social Welfare, Social Equality…you get the idea. These are all, on the surface, noble ideals. As we can see all around us, however, the consequences of the way they are being implemented is proving to be catastrophic and may well lead to the end of Western Civilization as we know it.
Enter the Social Justice Warrior
The Social Justice Warrior has become a loaded term so before I continue let’s create a little background here. I am an unabashed Libertarian. I believe drugs should be decriminalized, I believe that you should be able to live any lifestyle you choose with anyone you choose to live it with so long as it doesn’t infringe on another persons free will or self determination. On the other hand it also means I believe you can’t legislate thoughts or ideas, no matter how backward, stupid and counterproductive. It’s that latter belief that puts me at odds with today’s Social Justice Warrior.
To give you a bit a anthropological background, the Social Justice Warrior evolved from the Keyboard Warrior and the Keyboard Warrior evolved as a defense for internet trolls to keep from being removed from threads. The issue with the Social Justice Warrior (and what separates them from your functional activists) is they don’t have a call to action. That’s the key word there; ACTION.
Let’s take an example; the day after Trumps inauguration, there were women’s rights rallies all over the world. As I was scrolling through my social media feeds, a trend became to form; there was no salient, actionable cause to which they were coming together and striving to achieve. Some wanted equal pay, others wanted to end discrimination for maternity leave. Madonna wanted to bomb the White House. Now let’s be clear, I am not in any way diminishing or disregarding those ideals. They are good ideals to have and we as a society should be striving to make those ideals a reality. The problem was this; what action would you like people to take to change the situation?
The purpose of a rally in a democratic society is to make the lack of action untenable for elected officials. Stop ‘x’ pipeline. Enact ‘x’ protection. Do away with ‘x’ law. You put elected officials in a position where they have to do something or they risk losing votes and thus their job. Women’s suffrage, ending segregation, LGBTQ marriage equality, these were actionable causes that could be implemented. The issue with those I talked to was that they didn’t want legal reform, they wanted thought reform. They wanted businesses to stop weighing the costs of potential pregnancy in key positions. They wanted men to change the way they see women. They wanted everyone to accept people and lifestyles they had no understanding or exposure to. And they demanded it. Right. Now. And therein lies symptom # 2…
A lot of amazing things happened while I was in China. The US had it’s first black president. The first black president then became the first president to acknowledge the need for marriage equality and then against all odds passed that through the Supreme Court. Just for a cherry on top he started the largest economy in the world down the path to universal health care. And he did it ending with some of the highest approval ratings in history. Everyone should be popping champagne and partying like its their team just won Superbowl. That, of course we know, is far from our current reality.
When the dust settled and laws were enacted, things started to get weird. It wasn’t enough that the conservative right had lost multiple, consecutive fights to their progressive opponents. They needed more. They wanted them to admit that their cause was evil. They wanted them to fall upon their swords in shame for their ideals. And they demanded it. Right. Now.
Many colleagues and acquaintances of mine were suddenly getting harassed for their opinions on the various social debates that were raging. These weren’t racists or homophobes. These were people that, for whatever reason, didn’t agree with some specific change that was going on. Whether it was the bathroom debate, or minimum wage, they weren’t trying to stop the change. They weren’t going out and actively opposing the change. Their only crime was to disagree. Somewhere along the way it stopped being a debate. It’s started being a crusade against the infidels and those that would not convert would be put to the sword.
History teaches us that persecution does funny things to a society. During the Communist hold on Russia before the fall of the USSR, you certainly wouldn’t find a person waving a “Go Democracy” flag. What persecution of people’s beliefs does is force people to have a sort of double-life. Publicly, George is going to keep his mouth shut about the fact he thinks people on minimum wage should be striving to gain experience and find a better paying job instead of waiting for government intervention. But privately he’s sharing his thoughts with like minded people. Privately he’s looking for a way to throw a wrench into the liberal machine. To escape persecution. Privately, he’s voting for Trump.
What Rough Beast Slouches forth to Bethlehem to be Born…
Enter THIS guy. Look up the term “Black Swan Event”. It’s like the worst case scenario had a baby with the sum of all fears. Talking to my customers south of the boarder, it started to become clear to me that normal, everyday people were looking at Trump as an escape hatch from what they perceived as a zealous progressive left encroaching more and more into the mainstream. As one of my customers put it; “I am 100% pro gay marriage. I have employees from every culture and I pay them a living wage. But if Clinton or Sanders get in I’m really worried what will happen to me and my business.” There was enough fear of the far-left that reasonable, mild-mannered people thought THIS lunatic was preferable. The social justice wing of the left through their hubris drove throngs of Americans to the voting booth. It was just for the wrong person.
I will leave you with this, my final thoughts. You cannot legislate beliefs, no matter how distasteful. You cannot force a society at gunpoint to your worldview. This has been tried again and again throughout history. The USSR failed. The Russian Oligarchy before them. The Nazi’s and the Holy Roman Empire before them. Even the great civilization of Rome fell. The center cannot hold. Civilizations are fragile things and we must be united, even in disagreement, to avoid the perils that lay outside our gates, patiently waiting for the first disaffected warrior to throw open them open.