Archives For Social Justice Warriors

Details about Simone Weil’s life and thought are enigmatic. Other than what’s included in the general encyclopedic biographies circling the internet, I know very little about her. Unlike someone such as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, there is no long, authorised biography written by her friends. What knowledge I have been about to find out about her, is padded by what I’ve learnt from conversations with internet friends, whose admiration for her work has increased over the years.

Simone was a French intellectual. Like Jacques Ellul, Weil worked in the French resistance, was an admirer of Karl Marx, and a contemporary of Albert Camus.

Weil moved back towards Roman Catholic Christianity and took an interest in Catholic mysticism. This detached her from the French intellectual trends of her day. Weil also made a break with Marxism. Whilst Weil remained a fan of Karl Marx, alongside her criticism of [crony] capitalism, she also wielded a heated criticism of Marxism.

Some of these criticisms are set out in Oppression & Liberty, 1955. Weil’s major criticisms begin with the monopoly of centralisation. This is what Weil says fuels forms of ‘bureaucratic oppression’ from a ‘bureaucratic caste’[i]:

‘All exclusive, uncontrolled power becomes oppressive in the hands of those who have the monopoly of it… instead of a clash of contrary opinions, we end up with an “official opinion” from which no one would be able to deviate.’ (pp.15 & 16)

Three bureaucracies exist: these are ‘state, capital industries and worker’s organisations (trade-unions)’ (p.17). Given the right environment (such as Germany in the 1930s) all three can merge into one. The state takes control of the market and runs it from a centralised politick, with a salaried and bureaucratic hierarchy. Weil calls this ‘state capitalism[ii]’. This means that the economy is managed by the government and government approved capital industries. In 1930’s Germany, this manifested as a dictatorship resting on the twin supports of trade unions and the national-socialist movement[iii]’ (p.25).

The zenith of all of Weil’s criticisms is when she calls Marxism ‘a fully-fledged religion in the impurest sense of the word’ (p.165). Two other earlier statements back this up: ‘‘Marxism is the highest spiritual expression of bourgeois society’ (p.124); ‘Marxism is a badly constructed religion; it has always possessed a religious character’ (p.154).

In a similar way to Jacques Ellul, Weil advocates the truth in Marx’s critique, but is not a believer in Marxism.  For her, the social, economic and political mechanisms of bureaucracy and industry, turn men and women (the working class), into machines. The working class becomes a means to an end.

Weil’s praise for Marx doesn’t go any further than this:

the truth in Marx’s critique is found in how he ‘defined with admirable precision the relationships of force in society […] Two things in Marx are solid and indestructible. First: method; study of and defining the relationships of force. Second is the analysis of Capitalist society as it existed in the 19th Century – where it was believed that in industrial production lay the key to human progress ’ (p.152).

Weil’s short lived praise for Marx ends here: ‘Marx was an idolater; he idolised the Proletariat and considered himself to be their natural leader’ (p.151); Marx made oppression the central notion of his writings, but never attempted to analyse it. He never asked himself what oppression is’ (p.154)

Oppression & Liberty concludes with Weil’s summary of Marx’s failings. This includes his obsession[iv] with production, class war and moralism.

‘The only form of war Marx takes into consideration is social war – (open or underground) – under the name of class struggle.  Class struggle or social war is the sole principle for explaining history. Marx was incapable of any real effort of scientific thought, because that did not matter to him. All this materialist was interested in was justice. He took refuge in a dream and called it dialectical materialism.’ (pp.178 & 180)

As Weil explains,

‘Marx fell back into the ‘group morality which revolted him to the point of hating society. Like the feudal magnates of old,  like the business men  of his own day, he had built for himself a morality which placed above good and evil the activity of professional revolutionaries; the mechanism for producing paradise’ (p.182). Marx’s ‘moral failing was that he do not seek the source of the good in the place where it dwells.’ (p.183).

When I was given a copy of Oppression and Liberty, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I hadn’t planned on reading the book, but I’m thankful to have had the chance to make a careful study of it.

The subject matter is dense. This is made more complex by Weil’s writing style. However, this complexity doesn’t make Oppression & Liberty unbearable to read. Weil takes aim at a lot of relevant themes which pose serious questions for our contemporary setting. These themes include unintended consequences, ‘bureaucratic oppression’[v], monopolies, power, materialism, group-think morality, sociopolitical force, the mechanisms of power, and subjectivism.

The latter coming out through her discussion and warning about seeking morality in places other than where genuine goodness and authentic morality dwells. This can be interpreted to mean that God is the only means by which humanity has a moral anchor. Weil’s example of this is Karl Marx and his obsession with justice, production and power. These led to contradictions in his theory and its application. His subsequent moral failing was that his quest for morality searched everywhere, but where the source of goodness and authentic morality is, can, and therefore, ought to be found.

Oppression & Liberty is a book that teaches something new each time it’s opened. Weil’s book is a gold mine, with a complex nature and a variety of themes which require careful navigation. Because of this it’s difficult to take ownership of Weil’s main points with just one reading.

Oppression & Liberty’s main theme pivots on an analysis of Karl Marx. Within this analysis, Weil yields a critique of Marxism. This criticism is balanced by her agreement and disagreement with Marx. For Weil, any centralised control of an economy (monopoly), leads to the oppression and tyrannical rule over those who work under it, or are made to serve it. In sum, this criticism states that despite appearances, Marxists, plutocrats and bureaucrats alike, all pose a threat to equity and morality.

The warning from Simone Weil in Oppression & Liberty is loud and clear: those who chose to entertain Marxism, big bureaucracy or crony capitalism, ride the backs of monsters.


References:

[i] Weil, S. 1955, Oppression & Liberty, 2001. Routledge Classics, ‘the dictatorship of the bureaucratic caste’ (p.14)

[ii] Weil credits Ferdinand Fried with the term and its definition.

[iii] An interesting add-on to this is Weil’s statement: ‘The communists accuse the social-democrats of being the “quartermaster-sergeants of fascism”, and they are absolutely right.’ (p.27)

[iv] Ibid, (p.178)

[v] ‘the bureaucratic oppression; the bureaucratic machine’, (p.13)

Judgement based on raw emotion is the reason for why we have due process and habeas corpus. This system is not without flaws, but erasing due process is equal to denying the right of habeas corpus. If that happens then everyone is bound; subjected to the whim of the mob or the mood of the ruler.

Due process is as important as habeas corpus. Habeas corpus being ‘the removal of illegal restraint on individual liberty.’ (Burke) [i]  Any removal, or denial of due process, would easily lead to the same thing happening to habeas corpus. Conclusions based on raw emotions about accusations, without any regard for evidence is regressive.

Emerging from a week drenched in the Ford vs. Kavanaugh debate, you’d be right to feel a little more cynical about American Democrats and the mainstream media.

It doesn’t really matter whether you or I, think Ford or Kavanaugh was lying. The fact is that there are hard fought for and won judicial principles, which are grounded in liberty and equity, that came under attack for the purpose of trying to win some political gain.

It’s right to be angry about the chorus beaten out violently from those seeking to side-step due process and subjugate it to serve their own self-interests. When, in 2016, we were all told that “Trump was Hitler”, we saw this attempt at side-stepping. It was applied during the 2016 election and has been applied to Donald Trump ever since.

We’ve witnessed the slander of American Evangelical and African-American voters who supported Trump, dubious claims about Brexit, the blanket tar and feathering of Tommy Robinson in the U.K, and the dehumanizing of anyone who stands in disagreement with where many in the progressive Left, currently stand. In addition to all of this, we’ve heard of celebrities calling for an economic crash in the United States, so as to take down Trump. They didn’t seem to give any thought to how their imprecatory wish for an economic disaster by which they could impeach Trump, might impact the rest of the world, especially the poor.

The actions of many during the Ford vs. Kavanaugh debate, shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise. Many of those who voted “yes”, or support same-sex marriage, do so based on raw emotion. They didn’t want to hear the evidence or consider the opposing viewpoints. LGBT agitprop successfully manipulates voters into falsely believing that all opposing viewpoints are unloving, fear-based and therefore irrelevant. Thought is suspended in favour of whatever feels right.

Given the success of the S.S.M campaign in the West, it’s no surprise that those same malicious tactics are now applied en masse to other areas, in an attempt to suppress, maim, destroy and control.

Edmund Burke was right:

‘…Parties are but too apt to forget their own future safety in their desire of sacrificing their enemies. People without much difficulty admit entrance of that injustice of which they are not to be the immediate victims.’ [ii]

Although anger about these attempts to side-step due process, is justified, this anger shouldn’t drive those opposed to it, to fight back in kind. Raw emotion may inform, it should never govern. It should drive us towards prayer, sympathy, concern and action.

First, prayer and sorrow for the people placed at the centre of this tug-o-war.

Second, deep concern for what could have been the undermining of a system, which legitimately requires evidence from the prosecution in order to back up an accusation, and allows the accused to have the benefit of the doubt. (Innocent until proven guilty is an imperfect gift, handed down to us by those who knew no such protections. The system isn’t perfect, but it’s a system that emerged to protect innocent victims from the mindlessness of the mob and the malevolence of the tyrannical ruler.)

Third, this anger should empower action. Vote accordingly. It’s time to start to read more carefully, reflect and look at the reality of where the West currently is. This reflection should prompt us to ask, why is speech being stifled, why is responsible discussion in some cases forced into silence, by angry mobs threatening individuals and businesses, and how will this inevitably affect each and every individual who lives, and benefits from living in the West?

The heart should inform the head, but the head should never become a slave to the heart. C.S. Lewis identified this necessary tension, when he wrote:

‘the heart [should] never take the place of the head. But it can, and should obey it.’
(The Abolition of Man, 1944) [iii]

Judgement based on raw emotion is why I don’t see white nationalism or cultural Christianity as a refuge or safe harbour. As I’ve stated quite a few times without apology, pride is the enemy of grace. That pride is an enemy of grace is also why I wrote and argued that ‘Social Justices Warriors Are The Brethren of Iscariot, not Christ‘. For those who currently stand in disagreement with most on the Left and their tactics, the struggle is real, but the response has to include discernment, wisdom, tact, consistency, and reflection.

Judgement based on raw emotion is the reason for why we have due process and habeas corpus.Suspending one, will lead to the suspension of the other. Due process and habeas corpus anticipate the whim of the mob or the mood of the ruler; it acknowledges original sin and the corrupt condition of the human heart. Due process and habeas corpus are imperfect gifts handed down to us by those who knew no such protections. The protections inherent within both are worth holding onto and fiercely defending.


References:

[i] Burke, E. Letter To The Sheriffs of Bristol, (Sourced 10th October 2018 from https://archive.org/stream/sheriffsbristol00burkrich#page/42/mode/2up/search/liberty )

[ii] Burke, ibid.

[iii] Lewis, C.S, 1944. The Abolition of Man, HarperCollins Publishers

©Rod Lampard, 2018.

Photo by Anthony Garand on Unsplash

silence-at-onceHere are some comments that I received in relation to  Why Social Justice Warriors Are The Brethren of Iscariot, Not Christ , posted last week. I’ve also added my responses to them.

The comments come from a few members of the 1,600 strong Karl Barth Discussion Group on Facebook.

First, I’ll state that I don’t intend to make a habit of sharing lots of dialogue like this. My goal here is to share the overall complex reaction to a relatively simple and straight forward post. It gives an a good insight into how online discussions go when you post something people that challenges the gathering storm. Secondly, I took valuable time to respond carefully to each comment and reasonable question, which makes what I had to say in response worth adding onto my original post.

The final exchange went further. The larger part of that can be located here. My interlocutor appeared to want to bog down my argument in semantics and selective argument. Feigning to want to ”understand” and ”hear me clearly”, my comments were isolated and picked apart with question, piled upon question. The general claim being that my point was not clear and that my logic (”non-argument”) was all over the place. Therefore, it left him “confused”. Once the tone of that particular conversation moved towards a cross-examination, I decided to politely disengage.

Facebook is not the greatest place to discuss theology, but we do what we can, and work with what we’ve got. I’m thankful that ‘Christ doesn’t build his church on opinions, but on revelation.’ (Bonhoeffer paraphrased, DBW 12: Sermon, 23rd July 1933).

 

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And finally,

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*Surnames and profile pictures have been redacted out of consideration for those who did comment.

for-sale_rl2016According to the Oxford Dictionary, a Social Justice Warrior is ‘a person who expresses or promotes socially progressive views.’

The online Urban dictionary offers a more substantial explanation:

“A pejorative term for an individual who repeatedly and vehemently engages in arguments on social justice on the Internet, often in a shallow or not well-thought-out way, for the purpose of raising their own personal reputation. A social justice warrior, or SJW, does not necessarily strongly believe all that they say, or even care about the groups they are fighting on behalf of. They typically repeat points from whoever is the most popular blogger or commenter of the moment, hoping that they will “get SJ points” and become popular in return. They are very sure to adopt stances that are “correct” in their social circle.” [i]

In case you’re doubting the credibility of the Urban Dictionary, take as further evidence, examples highlighted by The Observer in an article called, The Totalitarian Doctrine of Social Justice Warriors’.

Their standout point:

“Since new “marginalised” identities can always emerge, no one can tell what currently acceptable words or ideas may be excommunicated tomorrow.”

I’m not in full support of every claim made by The Observer in that article, but the majority of it makes sense. It’s a poignant observation and it draws a line in the sand between S.J.W’s, their bulldozers, and those they’re told it’s trendy to hate.

The Observer points out the monstrous maelstroms of confusion that S.J.W’s create.

Such as:

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We get that S.J.W’s like to protest. Their right to protest is respected, but what it is that their protests are trying to achieve? What is the end goal? Who benefits? If asked the majority probably couldn’t give an adequate answer.

Take the S.J.W’s support for a war on the rich; their counter-productive boycott of business. Movements such as Occupy Wall Street and the anti-Israel, Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS).

Poverty is to be challenged and real injustices responsibly corrected, but how does boycotting businesses, just because they don’t line up in total ideological conformity with something like same-sex “marriage” fight poverty?  Putting people out of work because they hold an opposing view on these issues seems to only create poverty, not remedy it.

There seems to be confusion in what and how S.J.W’s protest. For example, they’re either against poverty or for same-sex “marriage”. In the end one will trump the other. As we’ve seen in well documented court cases, where Christian businesses have been sued for making a conscientious objection to same-sex “marriage”. It’s logical to conclude that putting people out of a legitimate business, in order to support same-sex “marriage”, means supporting poverty.

Take, for instance, the costly interference in the long standing business relationship between Coopers Beer, and The Australian Bible Society.  S.J.W’s protested that relationship, simply because of the position the Bible Society took on same-sex “marriage”. The precedent that event set is this: businesses can only be friends with those whom S.J.W’s approve of.

The manufactured industrial process of “boycott, hashtag, hashtag… people lose their jobs. Company shuts down. Capitalism is blamed [24hrs passes]. Next victim”. Is a radical cycle that only pads ego, wallet and blog stats. It’s not only narcissistic, it’s exactly what fascists do.

What real purpose does this manufactured “outrage” serve, other than to boost approval ratings, celebrity funding drives or ignite social media with a feel-good fifteen minute hashtag movement, that may live longer if (and that’s a big if) it s attractive enough to go viral?

Is the real concern of S.J.W’s, the marginalised, the minority and the poverty-stricken, or is it their own personal level of “social media influence”?

The militancy of all progressive ideologies are not about “…and justice-for-all.” They stand above, over and against us. They raise themselves to a sinless plain of existence. Sinners are those who’ve been accused of opposing, are being a threat to the prevailing ideology.

Militancy like this rejects original sin. There is no recollection of the equality spoken about by the Apostle Paul when he said, ”for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:23-24).

S.J.W’s forget that there is only one who is sinless, and His name is Jesus Christ. They raise themselves to godlikeness, and operate from within a sphere of sinlessness, and by doing so they place Jesus under humanity, and raise themselves up as saviours of it.

From within this sphere the S.J.W can feel justified in calling for the punishment of those they deem sinful. Failing to comply is an act of treason or blasphemy. Such is the pressure applied to State, Church, business or community groups, who are forced to sign onto the S.J.W agenda without question.

S.J.W militants hand justice over to pseudo-politicians who judge from people’s courts, controlling popular opinion with image, idea, internet, and an index-finger pointed in judgement against blasphemers who speak out against idiotic statements, double standards and the toxic ‘isms which encourage them.

The S.J.W therefore tends not to ask ‘…what can they do for their country?” (John F. Kennedy). Instead they demand that their country do for them what their free country tries to empower them to do for themselves. The power of state and church is wielded in whatever direction the S.J.W commands it to go.

It’s reminiscent of the Soviet leadership who, in the early 1980’s, sort to remind Poland’s Communist leaders that any hint of counter-revolutionary blasphemy among Poland’s largely Christian population, should be suppressed:

“…You should say openly that the law forbids any statements against socialism”
 (“Theses For Conversation With Representatives of the Polish Leadership“, 1980. Vladimir Bukovsky, 1995)

This was not affirmative action. It was bullying through fear, suspicion and threat. The type that coerced people to support the Nazis. It incites the same self-serving action as ‘Judas Iscariot, who went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver Jesus over to you?” Who in return paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment sought an opportunity to betray him.’ (Matthew 26:14-15/ Mark 14:10-11/ Luke 22:3-6) [ii]

The same ‘Judas who protested, after seeing Mary take a pound  of expensive ointment , anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair:

“Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the money-bag he used to help himself to what was put into it.’ (John 3:6)

The same Judas who, as the anti-Nazi theologian, Karl Barth wrote:

‘Perverted his office [of Apostle] into the exact opposite; placing Jesus under humanity, instead of humanity under Jesus – to deliver Jesus to sinners, not sinners to Jesus…Judas prepared for Jesus the fate of John the Baptist.’ [iii]

Because Iscariot thought that:

“Jesus was for sale.
He reserved to himself the right to decide for himself, in the face of Jesus, what the way of apostolic discipleship really involves.
It is an indication that his nature and function are those of the apostle who ultimately regrets his own devotion and the devotion of others to Jesus, who would prefer ultimately to use the power of this devotion for something which his own judgement considers to be better […]”
(Barth, [iv])

These statements form Barth’s critique of a people who, in their rejection of Christ, reject themselves; suffering a similar fate of self-destruction that consumed Judas:

‘The one who kills Jesus also kills themselves […]’ [v]

S.J.W’s, by placing Jesus under humanity, make Jesus a slave of ideology. There is no acknowledgement of His Kingship as LORD over all lords, the one who is and was, and is to come! In this way, the power of state and church is wielded in whatever direction the S.J.W commands it to go.

‘Neither man’s headship or humanity’s dominion (lordship) over the earth equals ownership of woman or creation. Humanity’s rule exists, as a gift. It exists in the light of God’s rule and therefore cannot be absolute.’ (Barth. [vi])

The Social Justice Warrior is in many ways the soldier for hire of the progressive ‘liberalist religion’, identified by Eric Voeglin in his 1968 work, Science, Politics & Religion. The Leftist ‘liberalist religion‘ preaches a gospel of ”self-salvation” through works-righteousness and blind allegiance to it’s sinless spheres.

The bloodshed of the 20th century shows that what lies behind this is pride. This coincides with the will-to-dominate, which is, today, masked by the veneer of social justice. This veneer hides the nature of its true intent.

Those who give in to pride, are determined to devour those who stand opposed to it. In this context, pride serves no one, and is guided by nothing, but its own lust for power. Its only interest in mercy, justice and love, is that which advances its own cause.

So goes the Social Justice Warrior and their banner: “peace, love and bureaucracy” [vii]. Preaching a confusing message between #loveislove and the more accurate, God is love.  Then moulding God’s throne of mercy and justice in their own image.

The late, political scientist, Jean Bethke Elshtain was on point when she stated that viewing Christianity As An Ethic Of Universal Niceness Misses The Point:

‘Misunderstandings of Christian teachings are rife. Christianity is not an exalted or mystical form of utilitarianism. Jesus preached no doctrine of universal benevolence. He showed anger and issued condemnations.
These dimensions of Christ’s life and words tend to be overlooked nowadays as Christians concentrate on God’s love rather than God’s justice. That love is sometimes reduced to a diffuse benignity that is then enjoined on believers.This kind of faith descends into sentimentalism fast.’ [vii]

As Paul the Apostle encouraged a young Timothy. Take heed, stand ready to answer with a loving “no”, those who would preach a different doctrine; a different Jesus Christ than the one the early Jewish Christians walked with, witnessed and spoke of:

‘If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing.
He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.’
(1 Tm.6:3-5 & 20-21)

Jesus isn’t a Marxist rebel clad in olive drab. He isn’t a golden-haired, blue-eye, bearded, robe wearing guru, sitting on a cloud with rainbows coming out of His ears; sprinkling love dust, answering the lamp rubbing wishes of a group of “super-nice” people, who claim for themselves the moral high-ground [xx]*.

Any person who hands Jesus over to a corrupted, enslaving ideology; any person who chooses to measure Christian discipleship by allegiance to Leftism’s ‘liberalist religion’ , or any equivalent on the Right, are the brethren of Iscariot, not Christ.


References:

[i] Social Justice Warrior, sourced 29th August 2016 from urbandictionary.com

[ii] English Standard Bible, Crossway Publishers

[iii] Barth, K. 1942 The Doctrine of God: The Determination of the Rejected, Church Dogmatics, Hendrickson Publishers  (p.481)

[iv] ibid, 1942 (pp.462 & 463)

[v] ibid, 1942 (p.471)

[vi] Barth, K. 1958 Creation & Covenant: Creation as the External Basis of the Covenant, CD.3:1 Hendrickson Publishers (p.205, paraphrased)

[vii] O’Sullivan, J. 2006. The President, The Pope & The Prime Minister: Three Who Changed The World Regnery Publishing (p.4)

[viii] Elshtain, J. 2008, Just War Against Terror: The Burden Of American Power In A Violent World Basic Books Kindle Ed. (p. 100-101).

[xix] Voegelin, E. 1968 Science, Politics & Religion Regnery Publishing, Inc.

[xx] J. Gresham Machen: ‘The prophets said, “Thus saith the Lord,” but Jesus said, “I say.” We have no mere prophet here, no mere humble exponent of the will of God[…]Jesus here represents Himself as seated on the judgement-seat of all the earth[…] Could anything be further removed than such a Jesus from the humble teacher of righteousness appealed to by [the cult of] modern liberalism?’ (Christianity & Liberalism)

*Charles Spurgeon: ‘some two faced men are hypocrites by nature; slippery as eels, and piebald like Squire Smoothey’s mate. Like a drunken man, they could not walk straight if they were to try…They are born of the breed of St. Judas. The double shuffle is their favourite game, and honesty their greatest hatred. Honey is on their tongues, but gall in their hearts.’ (The Complete John Ploughman, p.115) [added, 23rd November 2017]

(Slightly edited 2nd Edition, updated 2nd November 2018)

©Rod Lampard, 2018