The Revolution Will Not Be Televised On The APA Website.

 

I.  Introduction

The Punch-and-Judy show that is masquerading as the current US Presidential election pits a bigot, demagogue, and would-be tyrant (Trump-Punch), against a seasoned Establishment insider and card-carrying member of the military-industrial-university complex (Clinton-Judy).

So, for a philosopher, there really isn’t much to think about: we temporarily put aside our worries about Clinton-Judy/insider-politics-as-usual, and we vote against Trump-Punch/would-be-Mussolini.

More explicitly:

They’re both political puppets of a profoundly messed-up political system; but Trump-Punch is a categorically worse puppet; and it’s an all-too-close two-puppet race; therefore we should vote for Clinton-Judy.

But leaving aside Presidential Puppetry, some truly important ethical and political issues for philosophers to think about can be found right here at home, inside professional academic philosophy itself.

The social justice agenda is a set of ethical, social, and political commitments, issues, and goals that have all been officially encouraged and legitimated by the Professional Academic State: feminism, civil rights, equality, environmentalism, animal rights, multiculturalism, diversity, inclusion, and so-on.

It’s interesting and important that the social justice agenda, as it is normally construed, does not include: poverty and universal basic income; the global crisis of displaced humanity and open borders; gun-violence and repealing the Second Amendment; police-violence and law enforcement reform; health and universal free healthcare.

Two common pejorative terms for the social justice agenda are “political correctness” and “identity politics.”

“Social Justice Warriors” aka SJWs, is another pejorative term, this time referring to people who (i) pursue the social justice agenda and (ii) are coercive moralists.

The basic argument of this edgy essay has a simple but decisive structure:

1. There are many SJWs in contemporary professional academic philosophy: indeed, SJW-ethics and SJW-politics are the official ethics and politics of the American Philosophical Association, aka the APA.

2. There is at least one other alternative ethics and politics for contemporary philosophers: e.g., the basic ethical and political principles espoused by APP.

3.  SJWs are coercive moralists.

4.  Coercive moralism is immoral, not to mention obnoxious.

5.  Therefore the SJWs in professional academic philosophy are acting immorally, not to mention obnoxiously.

6. But the SJWs in professional academic philosophy, by using powerful coercive mechanisms available to them inside the Professional Academic State, have effectively silenced alternative ethical and political voices in contemporary philosophy.

7. So, contemporary philosophers both inside and outside the Professional Academic State should stop being afraid of thinking for themselves and speaking their own minds, and not only look for but also speak out about an alternative ethics and politics, e.g., the basic ethical and political principles espoused by APP–but, more generally, any reasonable alternative.

Notice that according to this argument, there’s nothing wrong, per se, with the social justice agenda.

Indeed, much of it turns out to be perfectly consistent with the ethical and political principles formulated in the next section.

What’s wrong are (i) the coercive moralism of the SJWs in professional academic philosophy and (ii) their effective practices of silencing alternative ethical and political voices in contemporary philosophy.

 II.  APP’s Basic Ethical and Political Principles

By human dignity, I mean the absolute, intrinsic, objective, non-denumerable value of human persons, aka people, i.e., human animals capable of consciousness, caring, intentionality, and rationality, a value that is beyond any possible economic or otherwise instrumental equivalent.

By oppression, I mean treating people in ways that fall below what is minimally required by respect for their human dignity.

By coercion, I mean:

either (i) using violence (e.g. injuring, torturing, or killing) or the threat of violence, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (primary coercion), or (ii) inflicting appreciable, salient harm (e.g. imprisonment, termination of employment, large monetary penalties) or deploying the threat of appreciable, salient harm, even if these are not in themselves violent, in order to manipulate people according to certain purposes of the coercer (secondary coercion).

Coercion, whether primary or secondary, is rationally unjustified and immoral, precisely because it entails treating people either as mere means or as mere things, which undermines or violates their human dignity.

All oppression is coercive and all coercion is oppression.

The only salient difference between oppression and coercion per se is that oppression usually also includes various other kinds of mistreatment, especially including unkindness and intolerance, in addition to coercion.

For example, many or even most black people in America, especially many or even most young black men, are highly oppressed by being subjected to a great many kinds of mistreatment, over and above the evil of coercion itself–e.g. gun-violence coercion by the police–especially including poverty and lack of adequate health care.

Black lives matter, because all lives matter, and oppression is always immoral.

Now since all States or Statelike institutions are inherently coercive and therefore inherently oppressive, requiring obedience to their imposed rules and laws irrespective of their moral content, backed up by force or the threat of force–in a word, since all States and Statelike institutions are authoritarian–it follows that all States and State-like institutions are rationally unjustified and immoral.

In view of all that, APP’s basic ethical and political principles are:

(i) universal respect for human dignity,

(ii) universal anti-oppression,

(iii) universal mutual aid and kindness,

(iv) universal tolerance for any and all human bodily colorations, bodily shapes, and characteristic bodily modes-of-operation, e.g., sexuality, and for any and all expressions of opinion and lifestyle, that adhere to what is minimally required by respect for human dignity, and

(v)  global ethical anarchism.

All five of these ethical and political commitments are non-consequentialist and wholehearted.

This means that APP is passionately committed to principled action in accordance with these commitments not for the sake of good consequences even if there are, as it happens, good consequences, and whatever the consequences.

Or more simply put, APP’s ethics and politics are all about rage: rage against coercion and oppression, and rage for human autonomy and human dignity.

The main point of this section is that the SJWs in professional academic philosophy do NOT have a philosophical monopoly on defensible ethical or political principles.
For example, APP has its own views, and is fully capable of rationally defending them; and no doubt many, or at least some, professional academic philosophers who are not SJWs hold and are capable of publicly defending other kinds of non-APA-style ethical and/or political views too,

were it not for the sad fact that the SJWs in professional academic philosophy, together with the APA, have effectively browbeaten and frightened almost all of them into never expressing them out loud or in print.

Indeed, as the next three sections will show, not only are the SJWs in professional philosophy NOT the ONLY ethical and political (potential) voices in contemporary philosophy, they are themselves in fact acting immorally, not to mention obnoxiously, and also effectively silencing alternative ethical and political voices in contemporary philosophy.

III.  The SJWs in Professional Academic Philosophy Are Acting Immorally, Not To Mention Obnoxiously

 As I mentioned in section I, here is the simple but decisive structure of the basic argument I want to make:

1. There are many SJWs in contemporary professional academic philosophy: indeed, SJW-ethics and SJW-politics are the official ethics and politics of the APA.

2. There is at least one other alternative ethics and politics: e.g., APP’s basic ethical and political principles.

3.  SJWs are coercive moralists.

4.  Coercive moralism is immoral, not to mention obnoxious.

5.  Therefore the SJWs in professional academic philosophy are acting immorally, not to mention obnoxiously.

6. But the SJWs in professional academic philosophy, by using powerful coercive mechanisms available to them inside the Professional Academic State, have effectively silenced alternative ethical and political voices in contemporary philosophy.

7. So, philosophers both inside and outside the Professional; Academic State should stop being afraid of thinking for themselves and speaking their own minds, and not only look for but also speak out about an alternative ethics and politics, e.g., the basic ethical and political principles espoused by APP–but, more generally, any reasonable alternative.

Step 1, I take it, is uncontroversial. One need only read the Statements, Policies, ad Reports of the APA, the APA’s new Code of Conduct, or the professional blogs, to verify this.

Step 2 is proven in section II above.

What about Step 3?

By moralism, I mean any ethical or moral opinion, or set of such opinions, that is held, expressed, and applied to others in an accusatory, hectoring, nagging, or sanctimonious way.

It is obvious that moralism is obnoxious. Nobody likes to be treated in an accusatory, hectoring, nagging, or sanctimonious way.

Since the SJWs in professional philosophy are moralists about the social justice agenda who also believe that, and act in such a way that, if other professional academic philosophers have opinions or lifestyles that put them at variance with the the SJWs’ social justice agenda, then those others should be and are actually censured, censored, publicly shamed, reprimanded, suspended, blacklisted, or fired, it follows that the SJWs in professional academic philosophy are coercive moralists.

Here is step 4.

Coercion is rationally unjustifed and immoral, therefore coercive moralism is immoral, not to mention obnoxious.

Then, step 5.

Since the SJWs in professional academic philosophy are coercive moralists, and since coercive moralism is immoral, not to mention obnoxious, then it follows that the SJWs in professional academic philosophy are acting immorally, not mention obnoxiously.

But what, more precisely, has gone wrong with SJW-ethics and SJW-politics? That’s what the next section is about.

IV.  The SJW Fallacy

Being oppressed, as spelled out in section II above, is the condition or situation of someone who is being treated in ways that fall short of what is minimally required by respect for their human dignity.

Every oppressed person is being treated coercively, and every person who is being coerced is, to that extent, being oppressed.

By sharp contrast, being offended is having a strong negative psychological reaction to someone else’s bodily coloration, shape, or characteristic bodily mode-of-operation, e.g., sexuality, or their opinions or lifestyle, or to some social institution or situation.

Normally, being offended, or taking offense, leads to anger, outrage, or hatred.

But being offended by X clearly does NOT entail being oppressed by X: only if someone is being coerced by X, is that person being oppressed by X.

The SJW Fallacy is to confuse being offended with being oppressed.

Now consider the term “hate speech.”

“Hate speech” is a highly vague term that runs together abusive speech and edgy speech.

Abusive speech is speech whose primary intent is to be nasty, which covers everything from mild insults and obnoxious insults, to slander, incitement to violence against its target, and coercive threats.

Edgy speech is speech whose primary intent is to be disobedient, resistant, and subversive, in the face of those who possess coercive power, often via humor, irony, or sarcasm.

Edgy speech is almost invariably offensive to coercive moralists.

According to the ethical principles spelled out above, ONLY slander, incitement to violence, and coercive threats are immoral. Call that oppressive speech.

All speech other than oppressive speech should be tolerated, even if it intensely offends you.

Indeed, treating merely offensive speech–e.g., edgy speech–as if it were oppressive speech, is itself oppressive and immoral, because , in the context of States or other Statelike institutions, it almost inevitably leads to either the tyranny of the majority or the tyranny of the minority, and tyranny is always oppressive and immoral.

For example, every administrative implementation of The SJW Fallacy by the Professional Academic State entails either the tyranny of the majority or the tyranny of the minority.

But since tyranny is inherently coercive, and since all coercive acts are acts of oppression, then all administrative implementations of The SJW Fallacy by the Professional Academic State, especially including implementations brought about by professional academic philosophers who are SJWs, are themselves acts of oppression, rationally unjustified, and immoral.

V.  SJWs, Guns, and Silencing Alternative Voices: A Thought-Experiment

Now for steps 6 and 7.

Consider the following thought-experiment, that explores a very nearby possible world.

Suppose–as is not actually the case–that anti-gun violence and repealing the Second Amendment were on the social justice agenda.

Further suppose–as indeed is actually the case–that I am deeply personally, ethically, and politically anti-gun-violence and pro-repealing the Second Amendment.

Then also suppose, this time again counterfactually, that I’m a SJW against gun-violence and for repealing the 2nd Amendment.

Now here’s a scenario under those suppositions.

One of my younger colleagues often wears an NRA t-shirt to department meetings, speaks out loudly in favor of 2nd Amendment rights, describes his favorite guns in loving detail, and also teaches all this in his classes, not to mention inviting his favorite graduate students to shooting ranges, and drunken parties where people pull out their concealed weapons and show them to each other, etc.

Now I am deeply and personally offended by all this, in the light of my social justice agenda and my SJW tendencies.

(It’s also possible that I am jealous of his publications in top journals or at top presses, and annoyed by his flippant 30-something or 40-something attitude towards me, his aging Senior Colleague; but of course those nasty emotions play no role whatsoever in my being deeply and personally offended by his overtly pro-gun opinions and lifestyle.)

Nevertheless, even despite the intensity of my moralistic feelings, my younger colleague is NOT oppressing me, or anyone else.

But if I then say nasty things about him behind his back; put pressure on graduate students who attended his shooting range parties and drunken concealed weapon parties to file official University complaints against him, weeks, months, or even years after the fact, saying that although they’d fully participated in the parties, they now feel deeply threatened by all that shooting and gun-unconcealment; report him to the University administration as a possible “active shooter”; leak his name to the local newspaper as having been reported by “several” of his “concerned” colleagues as a possible “active shooter” with “mental health issues”; vote against his tenure or promotion; or get him reprimanded, suspended, blacklisted, or fired–then I am oppressing him and acting very immorally, not to mention effectively silencing his alternative voice.

Finally, substitute any of the other more familiar social justice agenda causes–feminism, civil rights, equality, environmentalism, animal rights, multiculturalism, diversity, inclusion, and so-on–for anti-gun-violence and repealing the Second Amendment, and re-run the example, mutatis mutandis.

Now do you see how and why professional academic philosophy’s “social justice warriors” aka the SJWs, are not only acting immorally, not to mention obnoxiously, but also effectively silencing alternative voices in contemporary philosophy?

VI. Conclusion

SJW-ethics and SJW-politics, the official ethics and politics of the APA, are immoral, obnoxious, and grounded on a serious moral fallacy; moreover, by using coercive mechanisms available to them inside the Professional Academic State, they are effectively silencing alternative voices in contemporary philosophy.

So, contemporary philosophers both inside and outside the Professional Academic State should not only look for but also speak out about an alternative ethics and politics: e.g., the basic ethical and political principles espoused by APP–but more generally, any reasonable alternative.

Without a doubt, many, or at least some, non-SJWs inside professional academic philosophy already hold, and are fully capable of publicly rationally defending, various kinds of non-APA-style ethical and/or political principles:

We just need to hear from them.

Gil Scott-Heron’s justly famous poem and song, “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” was all about how truly radical ethical and political thinking can be brainwashed out of existence by Establishment-controlled media and their groupthink.

In short, it was a brilliant Black 1960s civil-rights radical artist’s way of saying: dare to think for yourself and speak your own mind!

So I’m saying:

The revolution will not be televised on the APA website.

Gil Scott-Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised ...

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About Z

Z is a 50-something cosmopolitan anarcho-philosopher, and previously was a tenured full professor of philosophy at a public university somewhere in North America, but still managed to escape with his life.