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>If we zoom out a little, we find that most of human history involved enforced ideological conformity, censorship, and repression. Maybe the most available reference point for this sort of thing is the US in the 1950s. There were certain ideas everyone knew were off limits - atheism, communism, marijuana legalization, gay rights. If you supported those things, you might not go to jail, but you'd be excluded from most good careers and most of polite society. This system was very stable - everyone knew the limits, and people generally didn't push against them unless they really wanted to and knew what they were getting into.

No. In reality, communism was 100% cool among cool elites and the "Red Scare" was a short-lived reactionary populist movement among uncool peasants.

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"Get in a discussion with a real Defund The Police supporter you know and like, and see if one of you can change the other one's mind. Sign a petition or something. Campaign for a politician whose policies you agree with. Just do anything, anything at all, other than tweet."

Hey Scott, I've been pointing out your extremely obvious mistakes regarding the basics of Marxist theory for a long time. Yet you've never acknowledged them or fixed any of your mistakes. Why is that?

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I feel the claim that it's harmful when liberal talk about how bad and horrible situation with academic freedom misses the benefits of forming a tribe around it. I mean there are lots of harms too which is one reason I try to avoid this but look at Fox news or even your remarks about the power of the term sjw. Surely, part of getting people to form a useful coalition is to encourage them to all be mad and hyperbolic at some common target of anger.

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A bit of a nonsequitur, but it's kinda amazing how the CHAZ security guy assassinating a random joyriding black guy got rapidly memoryholed. What happened to that guy? Did it even make front page news outside of Seattle? Was it one guy he killed, or two? The fact that no one knows anything about this is pretty crazy.

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> There's an oversupply of tweeting and an undersupply of everything else

I wonder if by some act of God or awful terrible terrorists or any other way, Twitter just disappeared - I mean, completely, the site stopped resolving, the app stopped working, etc. etc. - would the society be better off overall? I know there is some good content there - but good content existed way before it, and so did people producing this content, and communicating, and having discussions and so on. And I wonder if the answer is "yes", what we as a society should be doing about it? Because I suspect the answer is "yes". I stopped using Twitter as soon as I arrived to this conclusion, but obviously that changes nothing. Can anything help there?

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One post, three different useful things (parts 2, 3 and 6) I hadn't thought about. You deserve fair value; I have become a payin' subscriber. Thx.

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My take is that it is wrong to organize boycott campaigns against Coca Cola for child labor.

Which sounds monstrous! But I think what's going on is mostly just that our state power and our morality are so misaligned that we have to do these weird manual end runs when what should be happening is that child labor should just be reliably illegal, and the CEO of Coca Cola should be in prison. "But how does that work if a small group of people are against child labor but they can't form a societal consensus?" Well, first of all in a democracy, small groups of people can effect legislative change as long as the broad masses aren't *against* the thing they're pushing. But second, I'd say they should just all move to the same area and enforce taxes against Coca Cola imports. "But that breaks free trade!" Yes, and you're beginning to see what I mean by all of our state being misaligned with morality. A boycott is effectively equivalent to a local import tax, except it uses a weird ad-hoc enforcement mechanism that relies on people's novelty seeking and temporary outrage. We *have* systems for this already. They're just bad. If we just make new systems (but this time without the monopoly on force and institutional experience that the state has) I see no reason to expect why they should be better. We should fix our model of federalism and get better at border enforcement of morality instead.

In a totally unrelated point, it seems your point 3 relies on allowing people to suffer huge reputational damage by not warning them about risk points so that their suffering can be used as a cudgel in the culture war. I don't think this is necessarily *wrong*, but I think it's at least a harsh moral sacrifice to ask.

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Sam Biddle was a staff writer for Gawker. Nick Denton was the CEO.

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Could it be that a social change is an inevitable effect that accumulates over multiple generations ? There's always some percentage of rebellious teens who rail against the zeitgeist. In the first generation, their numbers will be few, but nonzero. In the next generation, the next wave of rebellious teens would be able to find some adult sympathizers. Fast-forward a few generations, and the zeitgeist changes to the opposite of what it was, and the pendulum begins its swing in the opposite direction.

That is to say, I think that all those brilliant non-conformist artists, intellectuals, etc., are a symptom of social change rather than its cause.

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Also I'd just like to raise the general methodological question of how do you figure out what counts as more or less conformity/repression. All societies have lines which you get punished for crossing and other areas you have certain latitudes.

I think we can look and see how much the societal rules *feel* oppressive to those in the society but if you want an absolute measure it's hard to imagine how that could work. I mean are we more or less repressed than Italy in the Renaissance? Women have jobs and freedoms now but we wouldn't tolerate someone pushing Renaissance era moral and legal norms for sex discrimination. either.

I don't see how you disentangle things like the fact that our wealth and healthcare enable different lifestyle models from changes in repression or count up the number of off limits and on limits topics without assuming our sensibilities about what kinds of views are important and which are silly (but that kinda just assumes the new consensus when saying gender identity isn't silly).

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There were shootings in CHAZ that killed two people. This in an ordinarily safe part of Seattle (especially given that the police station is right there).

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Is 1950s actually a good comparison?

For one thing, it sounds like it was a right-wing totalitarian time, rather than the current left-wing totalitarian time.

For the other, currently totalitarians are in near complete control of media and higher education. Was that the case in 1950s?

I'm worried that you might be comparing two different situations, and that we might be looking at a state that can last for a very long time. I have two white male kids growing up, and I have no idea what I'm going to tell them about how not to get their lives ruined in the next witch hunt over something we cannot now predict.

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I'm the straw man libertarian with black wife and kids who thinks that the government motion to ban discrimination was stupid and ill-advised.

We already have moderate evidence that the economic costs of discrimination are pretty darn high on the discriminator, given markets that are open. We also have moderate evidence that it required government action to get strong discrimination to happen. Economic discrimination is pretty hard to find without active government intervention in favor of the discrimination. And the costs of compliance are moderately high.

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"Massachussetts in 1692 may have been one of the most repressive societies ever to exist. Anyone who spoke out against it was burned as a witch or exiled. Fine, okay, point taken, don't speak out against Puritanism. But by the 1820s, Massachussetts was one of the most open societies in the world. The Puritan Church turned into the Unitarian Church (I swear this is true, the Unitarian Universalists are the direct descendants of the 1600 Puritans)."

Any proof that by the 1820's Massachussetts was one of the most open societies in the world? In 1692 there were *many* things you couldn't say in Massachussetts about religious matters. In 1820 you could say anything you want about religion, but you had to subscribe to certain rigid theories about politics, culture and society (for example, the Romance / Victorian era belief that women were chaste angels only tempted into sin by lecherous men.)

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To me, the line between cancel culture and things like boycotting a company for child labor is that the point of traditional boycotts is to pressure a person or company to change policies or apologize, whereas the purpose of cancel culture is to destroy someone's life to set an example. I think it's pretty clearly wrong to deliberately destroy someone's life outside of punishment through a fair legal system. I might make an exception for someone who has done something so bad they clearly should be in jail for the rest of their life, but for some reason they got away with it.

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> "Liberals lose the culture war if there's ever such a strong culture of fear that nobody is willing to assert any unpopular opinion, publish any heterodox research, or stand up for anybody who's gone against the mob...So all else being equal, liberals' goal should be to prevent a culture of fear. Partly this is an actual battle, one where we try to protect people and stand up against the forces of authoritarianism."

Couldn't agree more. As a liberal, this is one big reason why I'm building https://spartacus.app/

It’s an online platform for creating or joining campaigns for collective action in adversarial situations - using the concept of Assurance Contracts to solve game-theoretic coordination problems.

Think “Kickstarter,” but instead of crowdfunding, it’s for de-risking the process of recruiting and organizing participants for any project/campaign that can only make a difference with a group effort, like workplace organizing, whistleblowing, open letters, direct action, event attendance, coming to the defense of someone being "canceled", formation of clubs or affinity groups, etc.

"I'm Spartacus!" "No, I'm Spartacus!" "I'm Spartacus!" "I'm Spartacus!" (I think you get the drift)

I know this is not an entirely novel concept - many of the underlying principles have been validated by other successful platforms like GoFundMe, Change.org, and The Point, (before it pivoted to become Groupon).

Unlike those other platforms, the focus of Spartacus will not be fundraising or social signaling, but the formation and enablement of group solidarity for specific collective actions in the real world. The aim is to increase the expected value of organizing around concealed preferences by lowering the courage requirements for taking action (from heroic to average) and reducing individual actors’ risks (from potentially catastrophic to marginal).

I'll preemptively address some common points of feedback:

- Spartacus will prohibit any campaign encouraging illegal actions or violence of any kind.

- The app will have several mechanisms built in to abate the risk of trolls, spammers, or bad faith actors sabotaging or gaming the system, such as requiring a small financial stake to join a campaign.

- The explicit political position of the app is one of J.S Mill-style liberal pluralism, and it will be defended as such. Use cases will be ideologically agnostic. There will be no partisan bent, and both “blue” and “red” campaigns will be equally welcome, regardless of who it pisses off. Campaign curation will strike for balance to try to avoid the app taking on a partisan valence.

If you'd like to get involved or have questions, you can DM me at https://twitter.com/AppSpartacus.

I’m currently looking for volunteers for proof of concept and beta testing.

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Allow me to the the annoying Objectivist know-it-all and flesh "Don't Cancel People" out. It's really simple, and it's one word:


Not "social justice". Actual justice.

There's a reason she carries scales: justice requires proportionality and that the punishment fits the crime. Now, funnily enough, everyone gets this when they want to: the same people who think one tweet should be enough to ruin someone's life, are aghast when someone is shot in the back for running from the police. Again, justice requires proportionality.

So, in this context:

Words get words.

Deeds get deeds.

Let's take white nationalism. If someone doesn't bring that to work, and confines themselves to arguing the case for white nationalism on the internet, then the response should be to answer him with words on the internet, not to get him fired. And, yes, I'll happily prove that I can take it the other way: the same should be true for any non-violent Islamist. Say a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir who argues for the caliphate, but has no connection to violence and does not cause problems for his fellow workers.

On the other hand, it is very easy to find WN types bragging about how they are deliberately cruel to brown and black people (denying them raises, getting them fired etc.). Similarly, it's easy to find technically non-violent Islamists talking about ways to be cruel to Infidels, gays etc. Such people should be "canceled" with maximum prejudice.

Words get words. Deeds get deeds.

Notice that this is not just moral but practical. If you keep your response to the (currently) peaceful WN to arguments, you have a chance of changing his mind. Wreck his life, and what incentive does he have not to go full Combat-18? Same thing with the Hizb ut-Tahrir member.

(And, oh yes, I am totally behind building a "Too Woke To Hire" database, listing everyone who has ever gotten someone fired or blacklisted for nothing more than an opinion - and then sharing that database with all future employers. I assure you, that'll end cancel culture and right quick).

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Your Point 3 implies that discussing cancel culture based on specific cases thereof is harmful when those cases are unrepresentative, because it does censors' work for them by creating a culture of fear; however, if such cases *are* representative, then it doesn't matter, because anyone who ignored them & spoke freely would soon be pressured to stop. This indicates that this sort of chilling effect could be counteracted to some extent just by somehow credibly estimating the chances of being fired, having your reputation damaged, &c. for expressing some heterodox opinion in some social context, so that people in that context worrying about unrepresentative cases of cancel culture will know that they're unrepresentative. I'm not sure how to do this, but one way might be through polling; e.g. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rabble-rouser/202005/political-biases-in-academia shows that the problems he discusses *are* typical in social psychology by citing polls showing that a majority of people in the field do discriminate against politically opposed researchers & politically inconvenient ideas.

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Best point here? "Stop Tweeting!" Agreed. Twitter is literally the Devil. Change my mind.

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Regarding respectability cascades, how do the hippies fit into it? Many would argue that what broke the stifling world of the 50s was the counterculture movement of the 60s, and it was far from respectable. It wasn't even half concerned with being respectable, it was all about "f you and your idea of society, we're doing what we want". And yet, after the 60s were done, so was the stifling atmosphere.

Or are you saying that in the respectability cascades, first came respectsble people and the hippies only followed-suit because of them? That doesn't sound like the hippie movement I grew up hearing about, because once again, they didn't sound like they gave a crap about what any respectsble people thought.

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Maybe I'm just drunk (I am), but I get the vibe that you think our culture is going through a bad time. Other than the pandemic, I don't see that at all. I feel like we are going through very normal times for America. When Carter gave his malaise speech, it bummed everyone out. Nobody knew they were suffering from a malaise, and then Carter said they were.

Your last post was great. What you experienced was what I experienced. A lot of us minor ex-bloggers probably related, maybe even felt some nostalgia for those times. Not to mention the fact we are all now gathered here, because the blogosphere is dead and this is all that remains.

Anyway, I'm drunk. I think I said that at the beginning.

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Maybe Western liberalism, in the sense of freedom, democracy, and equality, is possible only for a fleeting moment in human history. Once upon a time all the stars aligned; now that the moment is coming to an end, never to return. Very few societies in all of history were representative democracies with universal suffrage. Almost none had no unquestionable dogmas. Maybe liberal democracy requires an industrial society with high unionization rates, a large middle class, a relatively homogenous population, and an existential external threat to unite the ingroup. Now that the economy is service based, unions are declining, the middle class is shrinking due to skyrocketing inequality (at least in the US and UK), the population is becoming more and more diverse, and WWII and the Cold War are distant memories, democracy might not be stable anymore. We might return to the representative oligarchy of early America or pre-industrial Britain, or become an authoritarian autocracy like Russia or Syria. In the worst case scenario, ethnic tension explodes into civil war and we get a Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Congo, or modern Ethiopia.

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having lived through 50s I wish to correct some of your generalizations. first, in your list of forbiddens - atheists, gays - you forgot the most important one: being black. the derogation of Blacks was an absolute right, and it was on the back of this that most repression found its footing. (in the South cities weren't known as cosmopolitan in the modern sense, but where all those uppity ni**ers lived. marijuana was a ni**er drug.) second, the fall of the general repression: beatniks were the wedge, hippies were the floodgates. as a youngster in a conservative community you'd see beatniks then hippies and it was literally like being flooded by sunshine. it helped that TV advertisers were going after the "youth market" and there was no Fox News to put up a unified field theory of resistance.

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> Still, it might be worth having coherent principles, at least in order to assuage our own consciences. Are we actually committing to never exerting social pressure on anybody in any way?

While I'm all in favor of having coherent principles, I think it's more important to start by establishing a baseline here, rather than immediately jumping to making sure we can handle all the harder cases. Your Coca-Cola case is, at best, a noncentral example and I don't think it's the right thing to start with.

As for that baseline -- well, ThePrussian already remarked below "words get words, deeds get deeds", but I don't think that goes far enough. After all, "cancelling" *is* words. A baseline standard we should seek to establish, IMO, is "arguments get arguments". (Where -- to be clear -- ad hominem, Bulverism, and other similar forms of the genetic fallacy don't count as arguments. A key part of "cancelling" is that once you're declared to be bad, that alone counts as a rebuttal to any of your arguments. That can't stand.) Non-value statements are to be evaluated for truth or falsity, not moral rightness or wrongness.

That's the baseline I'd seek to establish -- freedom to argue.

And, yes, OK, you're not going to apply that in literally *every* case; as you discussed[0], you're still going to ignore the worst of the worst (neo-Nazis and such). But the garden needs to be retaken. (This may require establishing that just because you don't agree with the SJers, this does not, in fact, make you a "Nazi"...)

[0] https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/02/23/in-favor-of-niceness-community-and-civilization/

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"First a few mad geniuses, then the coolest artists and writers, then the brightest academics, then journalists, then well-educated people in general, then the population in general, and the last step was reaching the government (still not really complete; marijuana remains illegal at the federal level)."

Well then, lump me in with the non-geniuses (sane or otherwise), the dull, the non-academic, the ill-educated, because I don't happen to think that marijuana legalisation is the most pressing issue and a sin crying out to Heaven for vengeance that it is illegal either in your country or my own.

I suppose it really does depend on one's experience of its use and those who use it. I wonder how it is used among the "weird Bay Area intellectuals and creative types who are really into sex and drugs"? What is their attitude to drinking alcohol? How would they regard someone who liked, and claimed to need, to drink a six-pack of cheap beer every day, and showed not a whole heap of ambition other than somehow managing to scrape together enough money for that six-pack? Because down among the lower-class types where I am, that's the level of marijuana usage. This site is probably not too pro-alcohol, and they measure the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol: https://arg.org/news/cannabis-causes-fewer-harms-to-others-than-alcohol/

So if we're talking about "legal drugs, the consumption of which makes you a waster", then marijuana is probably better than booze. But it still causes harm, and what I'm getting at is that yes humans have always found ways to get off their faces, but to understand where some of us anti-reefer madness types are coming from, flip it around: do you really think that "yeah, sitting around skulling beer all day is just the thing?"

"From an analysis of a representative survey series focused on alcohol and marijuana use and related topics among Washington adults, 8.4% of respondents reported experiencing harm because of someone else’s marijuana use compared to 21.5% from alcohol use in the past 12 months. The types of harms reported included threats or harassment, vandalism, physical harm, harms related to driving, or financial or family problems. Similar to alcohol use, the most common harms from someone else’s marijuana use was harassment, vandalism, or family problems. However, these harms, while substantial, were three times more likely to occur from drinking than marijuana.

Women experienced more harms from others’ use of either alcohol or marijuana than men, and for alcohol, the people harmed differed by age. Alcohol’s harms from others was highest among people under 40 then declined with those 60 and older reporting the lowest rate. Marijuana harms did not vary significantly by age."

"But by the 1820s, Massachussetts was one of the most open societies in the world. The Puritan Church turned into the Unitarian Church"

If you want to hear griping about Unitarians, here's some quotes from William Cobbett writing in 1821 in his "Rural Rides" (and he's none too happy about Catholics and Jews either being loosed from the legal religious restrictions of the day):

"Ah! say the Dissenters, and particularly the Unitarians; that queer sect, who will have all the wisdom in the world to themselves; who will believe and won’t believe; who will be Christians and who won’t have a Christ; who will laugh at you, if you believe in the Trinity, and who would (if they could) boil you in oil if you do not believe in the Resurrection: “Oh!” say the Dissenters, “we know very well, that your Church Parsons are[Pg 250] commanded to get, if they can, dying people to give their money and estates to the Church and the poor, as they call the concern, though the poor, we believe, come in for very little which is got in this way. But what is your Church? We are the real Christians; and we, upon our souls, never play such tricks; never, no never, terrify old women out of their stockings full of guineas.” “And, as to us,” say the Unitarians, “we, the most liberal creatures upon earth; we, whose virtue is indignant at the tricks by which the Monks and Nuns got legacies from dying people to the injury of heirs and other relations; we, who are the really enlightened, the truly consistent, the benevolent, the disinterested, the exclusive patentees of the salt of the earth, which is sold only at, or by express permission from our old and original warehouse and manufactory, Essex-street, in the Strand, first street on the left, going from Temple Bar towards Charing Cross; we defy you to show that Unitarian Parsons....”

"However, the Baron was a staunch churchman as this fact clearly proves: several years he had become what they call an Unitarian. The first time (I think) that I perceived this, was in 1812. He came to see me in Newgate, and he soon began to talk about religion, which had not been much his habit. He went on at a great rate, laughing about the Trinity; and I remember that he repeated the Unitarian distich, which makes a joke of the idea of there being a devil, and which they all repeat to you, and at the same time laugh and look as cunning and as priggish as Jack-daws; just as if they were wiser than all the rest of the world! I hate to hear the conceited and disgusting prigs, seeming to take it for granted, that they only are wise, because others believe in the incarnation, without being able to reconcile it to reason. The prigs don’t consider, that there is no more reason for the resurrection than for the incarnation; and yet having taken it into their heads to come up again, they would murder you, if they dared, if you were to deny the resurrection."

So if I believe Cobbett, and that's a large "if", even the Unitarians had doctrines they were very insistent upon were correct and must be held.

"What about the gradual secularization of Ireland during the end of the 20th century? There are so many interesting stories of societies going from more to less repressive without obvious outside intervention."

"Money" is the short answer. Your weird Bay Area intellectuals and creatives who are really into sex and drugs get to be that way because of money. Lower down the scale where there's less money or none at all, there is the same interest in sex and drugs, but it's serial monogamy or several baby mommas on the go at once instead of polyamory and compersion, and opiods instead of nootropics. Money dissolves a lot of old restrictions, as we see by the idea that once women in Third World countries get access to education, then birth rates go down, as mentioned here: https://www.kcl.ac.uk/news/women-are-the-key-to-economic-development-in-third-world-countries

"Providing women and girls with more educational opportunities contributes to: "reductions in fertility rates and increases in labour force participation rates, and in which thereby better quality of human capital of the future economy and generations."

Once you have more money sloshing around the economy, and people can get richer, then they have options. There are more choices, and consequences of those choices are lessened or can be avoided. 50s America became less repressive and more open as the economic situation improved and the post-war boom kicked in. If you have the choice between going to church on Sunday or access to some form of amusement, be that a golf course or shopping or just going for a drive in the country, then church often loses out. There's more to it than that, of course, but to pick Ireland, society loosened up as our economy improved and no longer were we exporting people to other nations but could give them jobs at home. There's even a book about it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pope's_Children

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Feel like while you are talking about internet culture you should point out what a negative thing Steve Sailer has been. He puts up a civil front, but his comment section is racist as shit and has been for years and has probably been the biggest alt-right blog.

I still read read him because he is funny but if you are going to call out the feminists by name you should call out Sailer.

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One obvious difference is punching up (against Coca Cola) instead of punching down while pretending to punch up (against SV nerds).

A grassroots movement starts by punching up, speaking truth to power and all that. While still weak, it does not have to pull its punches, either, they do not destroy the fabric of the society. In contrast, the powers that be know they can't punch too hard, or else they risk self-destruction, their predecessors learned it the hard way, and proportionate response became a part of the culture.

The rising powers, like SJWs-turned-Cancelists (I don't dare to mention the other groups), do not have this built-in restraint because they never needed it, not being a strong enough destructive force. After all, they are punching up, right? But with time, if they get stronger and stronger, so do their punches, and yet they still have the self-identity of the oppressed sticking it to the man, long after they, inevitably, became the man. And so they end up punching down while believing they are punching up, and don't bother holding back to keep the society functioning.

As a result, "the cancer gets its own cancer", the revolution eats its own children, and this continues until the new group at the top realizes where they are and starts behaving like one, holding back to avoid breaking the structure that let them rise to the top. And so they learn proportionate response and the society stabilizes, once again (hello, Hegel, Marx and Engels) in another cycle of dialectics/dialectical/historical materialism (that ought to appease one rather vocal commenter here).

It may well be that, once the current vicious attackers realize that they have gained the upper hand, they will evolve into a more mellow version of power, one that doesn't tear itself apart with its own unrestrained force. Or it might be that they will go as fast as they came, and someone else will emerge in their ruins, a group that can realize that being in power means being selective, proportionate and forgiving, everything the currently dominating groups are not. One can hope.

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"Instead of thinking of ourselves in the middle of a new Salem Witch Hunt, we should think of ourselves as just coming out of a rare period of unusually high freedom of thought - a weird 1990s moment that gave us South Park, the phrase "if you don't like it then don't watch it", and most of the early Internet. That period wasn't part of an inexorable trend toward rising freedom, it was a weird anomaly that has to be actively defended lest we sink back into the normal regime that typified the 1950s and pretty much every other time period ever."

...I'd like to suggest instead that these socio-cultural phenomena move in approx. 30 years cycles. You get intense periods of cultural-political strife roughly every 30 years of so, with periods of relative calm in-between.

The underlying force behind this cycle is the generational transition. A new generation must grow up that has no clear recollection of the previous intense period. They raise hell in their own particular way, gets burned, calms down, and the world moves on until a new generation which has no recollection of what went on, comes on to the scene. Mixed up with this is an element of ritual father-killing, i.e. getting even with your parents' generation by discarding what they stood for.

If we limit the geographical scope to Europe/the Americas/Oceania, after the intense cultural/political events of 1934/45 you had - as a reaction - the extreme conformity of the late 1940s, 1950s/1960s; till 1968(Paris)/1969(San Francisco) triggered ten years of turbulence (the 1970s), followed by the calm of the 1980s, until 1989/92 (fall of European Communism) with its ten-year fallout; and then the relatively uneventful 2000s/2010s. We were overdue for a new cycle, hence the woke-period we experience now is on target.

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"It seems intuitively obvious that if Coca-Cola is using child slaves to pick cocoa beans or something, boycotting them until they stop is a perfectly acceptable and even commendable thing to do."

You know coca leaves and cocoa beans aren't the same thing, right...?

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"If someone were to write this all up into a 2000 word blog post "Here's Why Defund The Police Probably Won't Work" which is sober and friendly and decent enough to send to your leftist aunt, then you could send it to your leftist aunt and maybe convince her."

This is what Matt Yglesias is doing at Slow Boring and if people want to learn about how to rein in their sides excesses they should read what he's done. A big part of it is not going all Yascha Monk and being a full-time "rein in my sides excesses" guy, but instead writing mostly stuff that's about getting the details of progressive policy right, how Republicans are bad, and then every now and then dropping in a hot take about how refund the police is bad.

Is Yglesias going to de-radicalize the most committed, of course not. But he does provide argumentation and a permission structure for dissenting while retaining progressive credentials for normie blue tribers.

I don't think Scott or other Grey Tribe people could accomplish something similar because they simply do not write enough about how the red tribe is bad to have credibility with blue tribe.

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You sound depressed. I don't think that has anything to do with what is actually going on.

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Regarding the waxing and waning of the respectable versus the liberated, I think this really does come in cycles. If we take the current cycle of "cancel culture" and all the rest of it, it's a reaction to the (relative, looking back) Wild West free and open range of the 90s.

Invoking the Victorians as in the last paragraph of the essay, before Victoria came to the throne, the monarchy was not well-regarded; her uncle the king was "Silly Billy" https://www.regencyhistory.net/2012/01/who-was-silly-billy.html and matters had come to such a pitch that royal carriages were pelted by the public. Victoria's mother brought her up under a *very* rigid system precisely to avoid the ill-repute of the monarchy, and when Victoria married Albert they deliberately set out on a campaign to raise the status of the monarchy in the eyes of the public, and to inculcate 'respectable' values in society as a whole.

The Gin Craze led to the Temperance movement. Public immorality led to the Great Awakenings in Britain and the US; the Methodists were an alternative (set up as an internal reform movement by Wesley) to the rather moribund Church of England. This is why the joke/pun about "the Great Awokening" works, because now we're back in the "respectability" arc of the cycle.

There have always been, and will always be, public and social pieties to observe. Perhaps before it was "Mom and apple pie" while today it is "birthing parent and veganism", but the same forces are at work. Yes you can have sex'n'drugs'n'rock-and-roll as much as you want in the varieties that you want - so long as you adhere to the list of options of the most scrupulously correct around what is the proper description of your orientation and gender status (I think I now understand why young people are allegedly having less sex; by the time all parties concerned have negotiated the entire list of options, everyone is too exhausted to actually do anything). Picking up from the comment thread on the previous post, I have seen people clawing at one another over what is the difference, if any, between being bisexual and being pansexual (for one thing).

Greater and greater liberalisation leads to the reaction towards respectability which then becomes ossified and perceived as repressive by the rising generation which then loosens things up once they get their hands on influence and/or power, and so on and so forth.

Trump's infamous taped remarks about "grab 'em by the pussy" was representative of that particular era, of Howard Stern and the shockjocks and cock rock, where that kind of strutting, exhibitionist cocksmanship was seen as cool and upfront and sticking it to The Man who was the repressed prudes and squares, like Stern's battles with the FCC where Stern's juvenile fart humour was perceived as the heroic side.

The reaction to that was probably at its crescendo in the MeToo movement, and we're still feeling the effects of that wave even as it recedes with the ebbing tide. But the manner in which Title IX morphed from "colleges must fund women's sports equally to men's sports" to "sexual harassment/assault policies" https://www.huffpost.com/entry/in-defense-of-the-title-ix-dear-colleague-letter_b_59bddb9ae4b06b71800c3a2f is one example of the reaction in action.

We're in the Moral Rearmament phase of the cycle right now, in another five years or so we may be starting to swing to the "New 70s" (God help us all, say I, having lived through the 70s first time round).

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...FFS. Scott, I know I should be focusing on the meta-level points, fighting the culture war here defeats the whole idea, and ultimately I disagree with point (2) more generally - that is, I don't think long blog posts are inherently better than Twitter, en masse. Twitter is terrible, yes, but that's because social media is terrible (although still far better than legacy media alone would be), and I don't think its character limit is actually the cause for its dysfunction. At least most of the people arguing about a tweet have actually read that tweet....

But your comments on (2) just utterly break my mental model of you. That is: you, apparently, support police officers in any and all brutality, up to an including choking a man to death for nine minutes *while being aware of being filmed*, and your proposal for improvement is more police. Similarly, CHAZ's interesting part was an attempt at ~anarchist commune, and like any anarchist experiment it got suppressed by the government, as was obviously going to happen from day 1, but the very concept of which not happening terrified Fox News; if you ignore that and just treat it as a riot, it doesn't really stand out in summer 2020 America. And, I mean, I'd understand if there was a tribal bubble, but I know you're not in that bubble. Eliezer Yudkowsky was tweeting suggestions for comprehensive police reform, FFS. You know full well that "defund the police" was supposed to be an alternative to "abolish the police", not a rephrasing of the same statement, referring to cutting police budgets - obviously the slogan was a terrible one, and its amplification was probably because it was *selected* for terribleness by social media, but I know you're aware of that.

(And yes, I already know most of the commenters here support authoritarianism, no need to confirm that.)

BLM-2020 was the first time in a while that the left side of the culture war centered itself around a real and blatant injustice, namely the lack of police accountability (specifically about black people, yes, but if you're going to play identity politics it's worlds ahead of the norm, since it's actually dealing with real harm being caused to real people and disproportionately affecting the group in question). Certainly there were issues with i.e. the extent to which it was made about race, or the way that the discourse was taken to other countries in ways that's likely to make their police forces worse; but on the basic level, police officers kill more people in the US than other Western countries, and the absolute shamelessness in covering the brutality up in basically every incident is something that's... I mean, I guess if you're literally incapable of anger, it might not enrage you.

And this is also kind of blatantly opposed to the civil libertarianism and freedom of speech you're talking about. Empowering police to do anything in the name of stopping violent crime will not lead to them stopping at violent crime - maybe they'll stop at black people, but there's enough pressure on that point nowadays that I'm doubtful. It's this level of hand-wringing about riots that - yes, obviously riots are bad. They are also an inevitable side effect of social change. But the threat gets amplified, especially now with global media, to create fear that's entirely out of proportion to the actual danger. The left had its own version with the Capital riot. Frankly, when a national legislature has less than 20% approval, they shouldn't be too surprised to see an angry mob show up. And then you have the people paranoid about crime rates that do 100mph during their daily commute, to say nothing of the 92% of US deaths that come about due to disease of some sort.

I know you tend to do the thing - which is a natural human impulse, and which I've certainly been guilty of myself - where you try to demonstrate those of your beliefs that fit the in-group, such as citing Alex Jones and global warming in "If You Can Be Bad, You Can Also Be Good". This tends to backfire because people see the tribal signal is being faked, but human nature is what it is. But still, if that's what you're doing here, those signals are fundamentally true beliefs - I'm sure you really do believe Alex Jones is insane, and that oil companies are funding bunk global cooling "science". And there's definitely been a lot of people in rationalist-adjacent Twitter, at least, that have been authoritarian in the name of Safety for a long time, and maybe this has been getting worse as the founders age into believing that any change will probably harm them (not only financially but physically, financially, emotionally, financially, spiritually, and financially). And yes, getting murdered is a primal fear, and for a number of low-openness people that's more important than any claimed rationalist principle; and in the end it's a spectrum. But I did have you at a different position on that spectrum, and it's disappointing to learn otherwise.

(For what it's worth, as ever, I'm posting this because I do think your posts are usually amazing. This includes the previous post on the Culture War's history - certainly I hadn't realized the ebb of Internet feminism, but it's definitely real now that you mention it. And the basic question of when cancel culture becomes a problem is also valid, though I feel like there's a simple solution to at least most of the question that reduces it to a similarly where-do-you-draw-the-line but more familiar question.)

I suppose this post has wound up becoming, in itself, a test of the theory that longform anger is just as bad as shortform. I'll reread it in the morning and think about whether I agree.

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Does it make sense to think of societies as generally more closed or open?

Let's take fundamentalist Christianity. From my point of view, their society is closed. But from their point of view, they're creating space for celebrating a Christian viewpoint, and giving all the corners of fundamentalist Christian thought room to breathe. If I wanted to become a Catholic priest and hear people's confessions, I can't do that unless I'm in a Catholic society. If I'm a mystic who has religious visions, I lose that role in a secular society and just seem crazy.

Alternatively, consider the military, another stereotypically closed society. But I expect that, if I wanted it, I'd find more tolerance for machismo, aggression, and uniformity than I have access to in civilian life.

What are the enthusiasms, eccentricities, and quirks that we'd find tolerated and appreciated in an apparently "closed" society, that would simply disappear in an "open" society where the defining paradigm of the "closed" society was no longer in control?

Rather than asking if a society is "more open" or "more closed," we should specify: "open/closed to what?"

What, specifically, would we like American society in 2021 to be more open about, and in what ways?

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We live in a period of high polarization, not enforced conformity. This is very different from the 1950s! In the 1950s there was an broad society-wide consensus on a large range of issues. Extreme polarization can feel like forced conformity if all the people you're interested in interacting with belong to one of the poles, but structurally they seem very different. For example, "such a strong culture of fear that nobody is willing to assert any unpopular opinion" does not seem like a real risk. Almost any opinion that is suppressed by one side will have an audience on the other. No idea can be made off-limits because if you're interested the other side will be happy to tell you about it.

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Just a bit of clarification, the Puritan Church split roughly geographically. Eastern New England churches became Unitarian churches under the influence of Harvard, while Western New England churches remained Puritan, now called Congregational, under the influence of Yale.

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This might already be buried under a number of comments, but there's been a lot of work done on Quebec's 'quiet revolution', in which Quebec went from the most conservative and religious province in Canada to one of the the most liberal and secular within a decade. The wikipedia page is actually a pretty good summary (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiet_Revolution, it's better in French if you can read it!)

The overall culture changed dramatically from 1960-1970: "The lifetime average number of live births per woman of child-bearing age) falling from 3.8 in 1960 to 1.9 in 1970.", expectations for staying in education changed dramatically in response to falling behind English Canada (with economic support in the form of heavily subsidised university education and a sort of pre-college prep school), and although a number of schools were (and are) still technically Catholic, the education became effectively secular.

There's a lot of debate as to exactly why it happened (beyond the proximate causes of a Liberal government coming into place), but the one I find the most compelling is simply a fear of falling behind the rest of Canada which overcame the broader cultural inertia.

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Point of clarity: I initially read "concerned about social justice" as meaning "caring about social justice; part of the social justice movement", got confused by the rest of the paragraph, and had to go back and re-parse it as "worried about the overreach of the social justice movement".

I think a lot of people will read it the first way, especially if they're coming from outside the context of the movement being dangerously overreaching and just think of "social justice" (lower case, compositional) as an obviously good thing.

Also: really good article; I found the bit about not contributing to the culture of fear especially thought-provoking.

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>And what about the Victorians in England? What about the gradual secularization of Ireland during the end of the 20th century?

This isn't quite what you asked for, but I wrote something about how Victorian Britain maintained its social norms here (https://wyclif.substack.com/p/victorian-values-a-practical-guide), here (https://wyclif.substack.com/p/a-practical-guide-to-victorian-values) and here (https://wyclif.substack.com/p/victorian-values-conclusions).

Why it changed is a different matter. In some sense Victorian England was indeed quite repressive - enough for John Stuart Mill to worry about it:

"it is the opinions men entertain, and the feelings they cherish, respecting those who disown the beliefs they deem important, which makes this country not a place of mental freedom. For a long time past, the chief mischief of the legal penalties is that they strengthen the social stigma. It is that stigma which is really effective, and so effective is it, that the profession of opinions which are under the ban of society is much less common in England, than is, in many other countries, the avowal of those which incur risk of judicial punishment."

At the same time, it was one of the freest countries in the world in terms of what you could publish – arguably freer than we are now. You could call for the violent overthrow of all existing governments. You could scandalize society with your sceptical poetry (http://classics.mit.edu/Khayyam/rubaiyat.html). You could imply that humans were descended from apes.

I think "Victorian repression" does not look very like the modern version. It was more localized, and had more holes in it. Aristocratic eccentrics could do what they liked (Mill again: "Those whose bread is already secured, and who desire no favours from men in power, or from bodies of men, or from the public, have nothing to fear from the open avowal of any opinions, but to be ill-thought of and ill-spoken of...") It was also more focused on behaviour than opinions.

We have the opposite situation. We have a huge focus on what you can say, but few sanctions on behaviour. I think the reason is that what people or corporations say in public is easy to check from behind a keyboard. Checking real behaviour isn't. So our norms focus on things that you can find out and get angry about with little effort.

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Great stuff!

The last two posts have struck me as such a healthier outlook to CW stuff than I usually see from either side.

One thing I want to focus on is what Scott only briefly mentioned, which is working on better cultural, social norms as a replacement.

I also don't have the full answer to this, but in my opinion, we need to be pushing super hard on two specific values: Charity and Gratitude.


This is a natural one for Rationalists and so sorely lacking in CW discussions. Even if you're totally sure your opponent is "bad-faith" treating them that way only makes things worse. We need to be patient, understanding that we're all only humans, and work as hard as possible to respect the other side's views and intentions. The truth is that the vast majority of humanity really does have good intentions and I honestly believe that the more we treat this as a given the more it will become manifest in our discourse.

How does having charitable social norms look like?

It should be awkward and embarrassing when someone on our side is mean and uncharitable to the other side. Assuming good faith should be rewarded always! Even if the assumption is wrong!

What's the opposite of this? Searching for "dog-whistles" or "trojan horse agendas".


My biggest issue with obsessing over who's more or less "privileged" is that this heavily incentives people to look for reasons they're suffering or more disadvantaged than others. We've already had tons of research into how to live happier lives and the answer to the best of my knowledge is a gratitude journal, ie listing every day or week the number of reasons to be grateful (please don't get replication crisis-ed!).

Lets all be proud of the blessings in our lives and share them publically. Let's all be thankful that the lives of women and minorities have been steadily improving instead of using this as a weapon to prove a point.

So on one level, we should practice Gratitude simply to be happier, and obsessing over categorising the privileged and oppressors makes as all sadder.

But I'm actually pushing Gratitude for a higher purpose. The best defence of Liberal Values is their huge success story. We need cultural norms that celebrate humanity's success just as much as pointing out our failures. Now you can (and maybe should) shove Steven Pinker's books down people's throats all you want, but this needs to be coupled with a social norm that looks down on people complaining all the time. And we need to reward the optimists and cheerful among us much more.

I think this is something Rationalists are a bit weaker about than with Charity.

We absolutely need people screaming to high heavens at how terrible our system is/was at reacting to Covid. But we equally need those same people giving humanity a pat on the back for using cutting edge technology to churn out a bunch of highly effective vaccines within a year.

We need to be immensely grateful for the world we find ourselves living in. This is how we keep the shortsighted revolutionaries at bay.

I know Scott does this (https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/02/23/in-favor-of-niceness-community-and-civilization/) of course, so um, more of that.

Bonus third social norm to be pushing: Julia Galef's Scout Mindset.

We need to actively be thinking about these norms when arguing on Reddit or whatever and reward and look down on actors based on this.

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Society isn't so bad. The standard of living is greater than ever before, in the USA and globally. All the complaints about today seem localized. Like, who gives a fuck about what people are talking about on the Internet? I don't like people getting cancelled but that's about 0% of the population, and even those are kinda assholes.

The world is better off. Who gives a fuck about internet culture?

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I feel like the key difference between the current moment and most other moments of repressiveness is that usually the ideas getting repressed are unpopular new ones, whereas right now we're repressing mainstream and well-established ideas. Some of the ideas that will get you fired if you say them out loud are ideas which are believed by at least 40%+ and possibly 50%+ of the population.

This isn't unprecedented I'm sure; ideas like "Boy, the ruling party sure are a bunch of moronic jerks" would get you in serious trouble in 1980s Poland or 2020s Iran despite being quietly believed by (I'm guessing) most of the population. But I do think it _might_ be unprecedented within the context of a modern western democracy.

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I think one underlying assumption is unfortunately kind of a stretch - that we are all in the same boat trying to find an equilibrium. I think at least a big chunk of people will always tend to fend in their own interests - just because you are unfairly disadvantaged does not mean you are not a power-hungry ass-wad who will ride the moral backwind as far as it will take them. And they will in the right too while doing this; the ability to lie to yourself in order to lie better to others is a crucial feature of a social being.

So those types will use all kinds of sucker-punches and pocket sands to shut down any rational recognition that their movement might have reached its goal. On the flip-side of course the establishment will try to downplay them right away, because they really don't want to suffer the virtually insurmountable pain of changing their language or uninstalling WhatsApp.

I think the line of cancel-culture should be drawn at things that directly influence the real world - I get the urge to cancel people who say awful things, have it myself. But in the end it is a difference if someone just declares themselves a fan of police states (which I abhor) or actually demands the firing of some guy at Mozilla because he tweeted something a few years ago. The latter types are definitely evil, power-drunk self-righteous bastards who deserve being canceled themselves for their crimes. The former just needs someone talking to them.

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>My point is that the 1950s cultural regime was good at censoring things quietly and through general social pressure, with a minimum of Red Guards breaking people's kneecaps.

Also a gratifying lack of Homosexual Liver being served at parties. Credit where it's due.

I think the reason people are worried about Red Guards is that they were a student-led attempt to change wider culture, and one of the very few examples of such. That said, without Mao/Jiang Qing and with millennial violence-aversion we can hope this isn't going down the same road.

>Cancel culture itself has shown us how wrong that is - when the culture is pressuring companies to behave a certain way, they'll all cave in together, and nobody will dare try profiting off bucking the trend.

I mean, you are writing this on the website of a company that dared and profits immensely. I'm not saying segregation like this is not itself a problem, but to force outright cutting of service takes some serious hurdles to entry.

(That said, I haven't seen a competitor to PayPal/VISA/Mastercard pop up the way they have for most things. Financial accreditation seems to be a pretty big bottleneck for entrepreneurs.)

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>Good thing everyone agrees on objective standards for badness!


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Surely the relevant part about cancel culture isn't whether you can refuse to go, or whether you can encourage others to refuse to go, but whether you can STOP others from going even though they want to, either by sabotaging the event or applying pressure on the organizers?

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Weird experience for me to read this coming from my own perspective where liberalism is important but I'm primarily a leftie, and fixing the cost of living seems like so much more of an urgent and more logically prior problem than does solving cancel culture does. Probably also a reflection of the different realities of where you and I live. But yeah, like I want a liberal society where people are free to express different views and live in different ways but there's too many people in New Zealand spending way too much just in order to live. That doesn't allow time to think about ethics or governance, or invest in communities. I don't know how one could make a serious attempt at communicating with people of diverse opinions and trying to find points of agreement on which to build greater movements under these conditions.

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> And if it's okay to boycott them yourself, surely it's also okay to use social media as a platform to ask other people to join your boycott.

For what it's worth, that is where I answer "no" and make that my line in the sand. If you quietly and politely refuse to do business with people who you despise, then that is your own affair, and if people make themselves despicable they therefore run the risk of ruin when large numbers of people decide, independently of each other, to not do business with those despicable people. However, telling others that they must not do business with people that you find despicable or else they're not good people is spreading hate and should not be allowed.

I could see some edge cases wherein someone might say, "hey, did you hear about this bad thing that such-and-such company is doing?" without making an overt calls for boycots, but I think that by and large I'd be okay with that. There is only so much you can do by hinting and passive-aggressiveness.

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This post would benefit from some context and examples of what you think "the current moment" is and what you think is bad about it. Terms like wokeness don't really have agreed definitions, and depending on who you ask are either tautologically good or bad things. Which means that the applicability of the various responses is hard to assess

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"6. Somebody should explore the fall of Puritanism in Massachussetts

Massachussetts in 1692 may have been one of the most repressive societies ever to exist. Anyone who spoke out against it was burned as a witch or exiled. Fine, okay, point taken, don't speak out against Puritanism. But by the 1820s, Massachussetts was one of the most open societies in the world. The Puritan Church turned into the Unitarian Church (I swear this is true, the Unitarian Universalists are the direct descendants of the 1600 Puritans). "

Cotton Mather (of salem infamy) is my great great great ?x grandfather. It's a bit unfortunate that the trials are the one thing he is known for (he did eventually come around to opposing them) because it overshadows the rest of his accomplishments.


"Among the most significant chapters in his life are his role in the Glorious Revolution in New England (April 1689); his involvement in the Salem witchcraft debacle (1691–1693); his Pietist ecumenism; his millennialism; his promotion of reform societies (1700–1728); his advocacy of smallpox inoculation (1721–1723); and his numerous writings on history, biography, natural science, medicine, theology, and biblical criticism. In all, Cotton Mather published more than 450 titles on virtually every subject of significance at the time. He owned the largest private library in the English colonies of North America and left behind in manuscript form several major works that only recently have begun to appear in print. Most important, he was at the forefront of the scientific and hermeneutic debate (early Enlightenment) and tried to reconcile the old with the new cosmologies in the first American Bible commentary, his Biblia Americana. In light of his numerous publications, only a selection of some of his most important and thematically linked publications can be treated in this bibliography."

And if you are more interested in the religious evolution than there is this one:

"The Mathers: Three Generations of Puritan Intellectuals, 1596–1728"


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Writing from the UK context here, if you care about academic freedom of speech then the number 1 issue you should care about is employment conditions for researchers. 1/3 of academic staff here are on fixed term contracts so have very high incentive to self censor in order to get another job. https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/10899/Precarious-work-in-higher-education-May-20/pdf/ucu_he-precarity-report_may20.pdf (this is a union report so take as you will). The number of departments having their funding squeezed doesn't help, you don't want to be known for being awkward and having dissenting views when inevitable redundancies come to your department.

On the other hand the number of researchers who've been cancelled and lost their careers for it is very small. Not accusing SA of this, but there are a large number of authors who say they want to protect academic freedom, but talk about students trying to deplatform external speakers from time to time, which I see as a total fringe issue.

What I'm saying is that I find a lot of the discourse around academic freedom to be pretty disingenuous, although I don't deny it's an important issue

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I get the impression that in 1950s America, journalism and academia already had significant far left (cultural and economic) sympathies which kept the torch alive. I don't believe an imagined return to sanity can or will occur by that process simply applying in reverse.

Even if they act neurotic at times the people who responsible for bringing us to our current situation are extremely brilliant political operators. They can smell dissidents a mile away and they're not going to allow the institutions they worked tirelessly to transform to pass into anyone elses hands.

>But keep in mind that if you tell people "the enemy is all-powerful and omnipresent and if you make the slightest effort to fight back he will destroy you", most of them will answer "wow, thanks for the tip, I'll make sure not to fight that guy". If you're too good at conveying the magnitude of the threat, you risk doing authoritarians' work for them, creating exactly the culture of fear you hoped to prevent.

Henry VIII would be fine with people thinking he was all powerful and to never mess with him, but the system would not. The system would prefer people to think of it as the underdog, fighting against the all powerful bigotries of reactionary society.

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Re: 5., "straw" libertarians and government interventions:

I wonder how much of an elephant in the room are hostile workplace environment law, and perhaps guilt-presuming anti-discrimination laws in explaining the ubiquity of corporate "wokeness". It's not just that companies have an incentive to fire any employee who might pose a harassment liability (e.g. Damore, according to many commentators and the EEOC) and push anti-harassment propaganda. The farther-reaching indirect effect is that it's too much of a liability risk to hire an outspoken opponent of SJWism as a manager; so managers are either true-believer SJWs who push it far beyond what the law requires, or else they stay quiet and don't speak up against it. The dictatorless dystopia effect may be present as well—any entity that goes against the stream gets boycotted, because any entity that doesn't boycott it would get boycotted itself—, but the laws are needed to keep the equilibrium stable. (Btw wasn't Jim Crow to a large extent government-mandated too?)

As I'm more interested in practical matters, like laws, than people yelling at each other, I'm not sure how much I agree with your timeline. To me, the main phenomenon is the ideology whose implicit assumptions are (1) racism/sexism etc. are the most evil thought possible; (2) in any debate between a more anti-racist (etc.) and a less anti-racist position, the former is right, and the latter is racist; (3) if a phenomenon *may* be explained by racism (etc.), it definitely *is*; and (4) anyone who associates with a racist is racist (sexist etc). This inevitably leads to a relentless ratchet of anti-racism, and overreach within decades. (The original inception among intellectuals was perhaps in the 1960s?) The 2010s social justice movement is just another quantitative escalation, not a qualitative novelty. The main milestones include when the courts first decided that companies could be held responsible for discrimination with little evidence of discriminatory intent (1970s?), and the Civil Rights Act of 1991, which codified hostile workplace environment. Speech policing by employers didn't start in 2020, and overbearing enforcement against sexual harassment didn't start in 2017; they started in the early 1990s. People yelling on the internet wouldn't be interesting if one side didn't have the power of law behind it.

I have a hunch that if hostile workplace environment law were repealed, and anti-discrimination laws were amended such that the plaintiff must prove discriminatory intent, the whole edifice would quickly collapse; or at least there would be much more diversity in the stances companies adopt. Of course that won't happen as long as repealing these laws is far to the right of even the Republican side of the Overton window, and people like Scott keep voting Democratic. If repealing these laws is not on the table, making new laws against hiring or firing for political views might be an improvement, even though I'd prefer to have neither those, neither the current laws.

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To quote another internet subculture that's fallen in the meantime, Cthulu may swim slowly, but he always swims left. Notice: not liberal, left. All your examples are of oppressive right-wing orthodoxies; do we have examples of oppressive left-wing orthodoxies falling as described?

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The use of the 1950s for a catch-all for a period of repressive conformity in the United States needs some pushback.

Civil rights: Two landmark episodes occurred--the 1954 Supreme Court decision on Brown v Topeka Board of Education, and the day in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, thus kicking off the Montgomery bus boycott.

Literature: Scott alludes to the Bay area beat culture of Kerouac and Ginsberg, but there was much more, including Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, Flannery O'Connor, James Baldwin (black AND gay), and many more.

Art: Abstract Expressionism... de Kooning, Pollock, Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns and many more.

Film: Masterpieces by aging auteurs like HItchcock, Ford, Hawks, Welles. Edgy films by Kubrick, Lumet, Preminger, Ray, Fuller, Lupino.

Theater: the 1950s were truly the high-water mark, with Tennessee Williams, William Inge, and Arthur Miller exploring America's dark heart on Broadway stages (and Miller is the reason we think so much about the Salem witch trials)

Music: This rebellion against convention speaks for itself: rock and roll (Presley, et al), jazz (Miles Davis, Coltrane, et al), classical (John Cage)

For the avant-garde, like Cage, Merce Cunningham and their acolytes, there was the existence of Black Mountain College.

I'm sure the 1950s sucked if you were subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee, but in many other ways, I think this was a pretty good time to be an American. Aside from the robust cultural achievements noted above, there were the material achievements, including the investment in rocketry and the space program that would be poised to rival the Soviet Union in the 1960s, the polio vaccine, the creation of the interstate highway system, and much more.

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Here are some ideas:

* ABOVE ALL ELSE: Have faith that reason can sway people. If you imagine living in the 1950's, you can't be an asshole when you try to persuade people about gay rights. You need to be calm and reasonable, above all else. If you think everyone is being narrow minded assholes, you definitely can't say this - which means you probably should stop thinking it. Say your piece, calmly and succinctly, and don't push people. Tweets don't persuade people. Neither does anger. You can persuade people with reasoning, but you have to be calm, patient, and think through this stuff in advance. Ideally, focus on _one_ single fact or instance. You can't make them see the forest ,but you can zoom in on one tree, and for a lot of these people, they don't want to see a singel tree. The pattern is just too obvious once you're open to it.

* Let minorities do the work. The rule that says 'white men shouldn't have opinions on this stuff' is stupid, but you aren't going to challenge it - just link to the plenty of minorities who have called bullshit ask, 'how should i respond to this' :

- This essay by John McWhorter: https://www.persuasion.community/p/john-mcwhorter-the-neoracists

- This interview with Van Jones: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/28/magazine/van-jones-can-empathize-with-trump-voters.htm

The only 'legal' challenge to the rule is to point. out that this rule makes minorities responsible for persuading large groups of white people they are wrong, if that ever happen. If white people wont' listen to other white people on the topic of racism, this means that either a) large groups of white people will never be wrong about racism, or b) minorities will be solely responsible for talking large groups of white people out of their bad ideas on racism.

* Cancel companies, not people: This one is straightforward. We should all vote with our wallets and avoid giving money (or our attention!) to businesses that have shitty principles. People should all be off limits, with the _possible_ exception of journalists.

* Replace opinion polls with something that doesn't suck. All you'd have to do is argue "black americans dont' want fewer police", and you can just stick with this, if there's a credibel place where this information lives. Here's a FREE BUSINESS IDEA: create a system to replace polling with something like a national election, every week, where people vote on 'ideas' or 'principles' . People can provide as much or as little PII as they want. The aggregated information is available to the public, and you can charge for access to much more detailed information such as zip code-level breakdowns of support for different ideas or principles.

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Re #2: One useful distinction between "classic boycotts" and "cancel culture" would be that the former is aimed at causes (tell everyone to drink Pepsi until Coca-Cola stops their hypothetical child slavery), whereas the latter is aimed at individuals (tell everyone to drink Pepsi until Coca-Cola *fires the person we don't like*).

The cancel culture boycott tends to be much more effective. It's cheap and easy for Coca-Cola to fire almost any employee, and if they can avert a boycott that way they will. It's much harder for them to change how they do business, so they'll often try to weather the storm.

Also, targeting individuals creates exactly the climate of fear you mention, which I guess is a bonus in a cynical way!

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"Liberals lose the culture war if there's ever such a strong culture of fear that nobody is willing to assert any unpopular opinion, publish any heterodox research, or stand up for anybody who's gone against the mob."

Liberals lost the culture war long ago. It was their job to stand up and defend Western values, and instead they folded faster than Superman on laundry day. *Leftists* are the ones dynamiting our culture with Critical Theory. How do you tell the difference between liberals and leftists? Easy. Liberals believe in freedom of speech. They might disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.

Leftists, on the other hand, freely use censorship as a weapon of first resort. Their own positions are so weak that if people are allowed to point out the many problems, they would collapse.

Here's a quick two-page rundown on Critical Theory, in case anyone needs a link to share with that aunt of yours.


“Unlike traditional approaches to civil rights, which favor incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory calls into question the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and the neutral principles of constitutional law.”

From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, first edition (2001), by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, p. 3.

“Crits [Critical Race Theorists] are highly suspicious of another liberal mainstay, namely, rights.”

From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, first edition (2001), by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, p. 23.

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"If we had a general theory for how repressive societies transitioned into open ones, we would have a better idea which levers to push." I urge you to consider parliamentarism before dismissing that we do not have such a theory. The people in Victorian England definitely thought that it was such a theory.

From Selinger's "Parliamentarism":

"In the introduction to his now classic book, After Virtue, Aladair MacIntyre proposed a striking thought experiment. Suppose that the study of the natural sciences is prohibited. Then, generations later, a movement emerges with the aim of reviving them—but by this point nobody has any scientific training, and “fragments” of books and articles are all that remain. What would happen next? According to MacIntyre, many people would begin using scientific terms and ideas in conversation. They would argue over “the respective merits of relativity theory, evolutionary theory, and phlogiston theory.” But what it actually meant to do scientific research would remain ungraspable. “Almost nobody” would realize “that what they are doing is not natural science […] at all.”

This book is motivated by the following conviction: we have failed to understand much of European political thought during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the same way that MacIntyre’s imaginary individuals failed to understand natural science. We read authors such as Edmund Burke, Benjamin Constant, Germaine de Staël, François Guizot, Alexis de Tocqueville, and John Stuart Mill. We argue about how to properly interpret their texts and over the meaning of “liberalism.” But we have forgotten the concrete, overarching project in which these figures all were involved, the one that made their thought intelligible. That project was parliamentarism.

For each of the authors just named above, the defining feature of a free state was that it contained a space for parliamentary politics—an assembly in which political actions were discussed and deliberated and in which executive officials were held responsible." (Selinger, 2019)

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> Maybe the most available reference point for this sort of thing is the US in the 1950s. There were certain ideas everyone knew were off limits - atheism, communism, marijuana legalization, gay rights.

Did every facet of society, even those not really involved, constantly have pressure on it to affirmatively support these things? Or was it acceptable to remain silent? What makes today seem different is that everything is beginning to have to justify itself in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. For example, in many universities, job applications require "diversity statements" and all classes must prove to the administration they are promoting social justice before they are approved. Was this ever the case with anti-communism? Did professors have to write an "anti-communist statement" before being allowed to teach?

This sounds strange, but the period today most reminds me of is the revival of scholarship in Europe in the Late Middle Ages. Classical scholarship was about all sorts of things. Medieval scholarship is also about all sorts of things, but at the beginning and end of every chapter, the author had to write, "which proves the glory of God and our Lord Jesus Christ" or something similar.

If things today go a similar direction, we might still have all the same science and scholarship, except that, instead of an article titled "Cancer Biomarkers and DNA Mutagenesis", we'll have "Cancer Biomarkers and DNA Mutagenesis: its Importance for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion".

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Boomers look back at the 1950's as a period when squares pushed "normal" above anything else. Everyone else just takes the Boomer's word for it.

However, the people pushing "normal" in the 1950s still had the open wounds and PTSD from WW2 and The Great Depression.

They didn't want "normal" because they were squares - they wanted "normal" because they had just left hell.

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In the past, very few people had voices. Communication came from the top-down and was determined/controlled by a very small number of choke points.

Today, there are millions of voices out there and everyone can have a platform. Peers talk to peers and build on each other's points rather than serve as passive participants in a top-down information flow.

In 2021, all the young/trendy people are able to share their own opinions and create "common knowledge" of what other young/trendy people think in a way that was not possible in the past.

If this information dynamic existed in the 1950s, the zeitgeist would have been very different.

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This: https://uudb.org/articles/unitariancontroversy.html is a semi-official history of how the modern Unitarian church came to be. The short answer for how the puritans liberalized is that the kids pushed the church to the left, and occasionally it's most conservative elements would schism away from it. In the early days, moving to the left meant "okay, so you don't have to be born again twice to be a full member of the church, it's sufficient that you kept all of the ways of the church since childhood" The leaders of the church continued to make intentional pushes towards greater diversity of ideas in order to keep as many of the kids as possible coming every Sunday.

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Don't you think "Defund the Police" is essentially shorthand for "Demilitarize the Police" and retrain? And if so, how would that be a bad thing? (cf. UK, etc...)

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I now semi-routinely observe people unironically saying publicly how dangerous it is to criticize some of these movements publicly. This pretty much sums it up.

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Concerning cancel culture:

Activists are a very crafty sort and they'll keep pounding at the perimeter of what is de jure or even de facto legal until they find a way to exert leverage over everyone else. To say that this isn't conspiratorial, that there are no ulterior motives, and that the people who do this are sincerely convinced that they are doing the right thing (which I think is mostly correct) only makes this phenomenon scarier IMO.

Getting people fired for crime-think, or holding them accountable, or cancelling them, is essentially a risk free strategy to enforce an orthodoxy. The worst case scenario for someone who tries to cancel another person is that nothing happens. There's no reason not to try cancelling someone if they can't reciprocate the financial harm.

Suppose there is a credible threat that individuals who engage in cancellation will criminal charges, or a civil tort. Also, will businesses who participate in cancellation will also potentially face harsh fines. I'm guessing that most people who engage in the behavior will cease engaging in it. Businesses don't need to risk being accused of various isms to retain their employees, they simply need to point out that complying with the demands of activists would put them in violation of the law.

There are practical problems with enforcing this: 1.) There are legitimate reasons to fire employees, even for things related to speech 2) There are legitimate reasons to boycott businesses.

However, I don't think this kind of law needs, or should have, significant and frequent enforcement mechanisms. One or two high profile cases of people/companies paying massive fines

In practice though:

1) You need a strong infrastructure of people willing and enthusiastic about enforcing this rule

2) You haven't done anything about the activists, and they'll go back to pounding at the perimeter to find new weak spots to exploit.

3) You still need a general social conception of acceptable and unacceptable forms of speech, and the aforementioned activists will be ten times as motivated as any regular person to see their conception of acceptable speech made canon.

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Re: point 6: Not Massachusetts, and it doesn't go all the way up to 1820, but there is a classic history book on this topic for Connecticut: Richard L. Bushman, From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1765 (1967). I read it two decades ago so my memory isn't fresh, but I recall it being a superb book. It doesn't, however, give you "buttons to push"; rather, history happens, in the sense of religious change, economic change, social change, in lots of complex & interacting ways. But it's not something to just enact because it's not a simple process. (If it weren't too late this would be a great book for the book review contest...) I'm sure there are more recent ones on the topic too. Similarly, as far as the other cases Scott mentions, the sort of liberalization processes that Scott refers (and all the parallel ones elsewhere) are the bread & butter of social history, the backbone of the field for decades from the 60s until it's-complicated. There's books on all these things; dig around.

And since a lot of people in this thread are saying dismissive (and ill-informed) things about the impact of McCarthyism in the US, let me also recommend Ellen Schrecker's Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998). It was not, of course, anything like e.g. the cultural revolution in its violence and disruption; but "not as bad as other terrible things" doesn't mean it wasn't repressive. It was, in fact, a pretty good parallel to cancel culture in a lot of ways: job losses & social ostracization were central, a lot of it was done by private organizations, and there was a real fear of overstepping boundaries leading to some poorly-thought-out conformity such that some true things which needed saying were not said, while at the same time the core of the thing being repressed (communism, racism) were, in fact, actually bad things, even if the targeting by the repressive social movements was wildly over-broad. If you think actual racism is bad but the left tends to think everything is racist, then you should have a good sense of what went wrong in the 50s, substituting "communism" for "racism" and the right for the left. By the way, as to how *that* ended, another historian has a good metaphor, different from Scott's barber pole: Stephen J. Whitfield calls it a "thaw": no dramatic turn-around, just a gradual lessening of intensity until one day it's mostly gone (even if people tried to pull it back for years—hell, some still are). I bet that's how cancel culture will end, too.

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The recently-reviewed A Brief History of Neoliberalism by Harvey seemed to suggest that the 1950s conformity was eroded by a process like like "your economy collapses; you now need a new economy; the new economy you get is also tied up with an ideology of personal freedom; you end up on a personal freedom crusade". Granted, the book suggests that the ideology dragged the economics in tow, not the other way around; I'm not sure whether I believe the causality either way, but it seems plausible that "free markets" (=less government interference in markets) and "personal freedom" (=less societal interference in lifestyle choices) would form a good synergy, so that once they got started simultaneously, they'd reinforce each other.

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I'd say that your thesis is interesting, but flawed in that the past culture wars were largely about personal prestige vs. the present culture wars being about Studebakerian Song Dynasty excess/wannabe imperial mandarins.

Nor were there social media companies using their market presence. Broadcast TV and radio are certainly more centralized but are push media whereas social media companies re pull media. Or in other words: Cronkite had to speak to all Americans but Facebook and Twitter enable the stasi-esque deployment of the masses to diktat ideological conformity.

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My personal strategy is to wait a week before canceling anything. I think if that was normalized we'd be in a better spot. I developed this as a teenager. I noticed lots of controversies had the 'bad' and 'good' side change around. (i.e that python developer conference fiasco) By committing to waiting a week your own emotions cool down and you have time to understand what behavior they were actually charged with and if you even care. My personal experience is that in the past five years or so I haven't cared that much about anything. Not enough to cancel it anyway.

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"Liberals lose the culture war if there's ever such a strong culture of fear that nobody is willing to assert any unpopular opinion, publish any heterodox research, or stand up for anybody who's gone against the mob."

Liberals *win* the culture war if there's ever such a strong culture of fear that nobody is willing to assert any illiberal opinion, publish any illiberal research, or stand up for anybody who's gone against the liberal mob.

OK, maybe you're saying that's oxymoronic because that's a fundamentally illiberal outcome and so not a victory for liberals

"This isn't how I see real liberals behaving."

Yeah, the "real" in "real liberals" is doing the heavy lifting here. I think you need a better word here, because the liberals you would classify as "not real" are the majority, and the majority defines the usage. All I've got to offer is "libertarian", which I gather doesn't sit well with you. But find something, please.

Because at this point, between the woke liberals wanting to suppress unwoke thought, the anti-Trump liberals wanting to silence those damn Trumpists who won't shut up about e.g. election fraud, and the mainstream center-left position that COVID misinformation needs to be suppressed in for the public good, I'm pretty sure that a large majority of the people who self-identify as "liberal" would be quite happy with an outcome where all their "illiberal" enemies are afraid to speak or publish or stand against the mob. And that they believe this sort of victory is within their reach, and to the extent that they engage in political behavior, are in fact behaving this way.

Saying that these people aren't "real liberals", is mostly just confusing and unhelpful. Whatever they are, they are a powerful and dangerous thing and they will use some of that power to make sure the word "liberal" points to them.

And I'm not convinced that simply relaxing and having rational long-form discussions with the people who are willing to listen, expecting that the "real liberals" will defect from the censorious mob Real Soon Now because of that mob's inherent illiberalism, is going to be an effective strategy. We need not just a new word for what liberalism used to point to, but a new strategy to defend that valuable thing. I wish I knew what that was.

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I find these posts interesting, but feel a little disconnected from them. Where I'm currently living (S.E. USA) certainly the ideas of social justice are present, but they don't feel suffocating or unduly restrictive in the same way that this post seems to make them out. In all honesty, most of my exposure to "cancel culture" have been Fox anchors complaining about it, which I've usually dismissed as neo-reactionary kvetching.

Maybe I'm unusual in the sense that I don't have a Twitter and haven't ever used it, or maybe the social dynamics of the southeast are just very different. Either way, I wonder if this analysis is actually reflective of "wider culture" or just Scott over-extrapolating based off his experiences on Twitter and people from the Bay Area (a region stereotypically known for having crazy off the wall politics compared to the rest of the country)

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The rise of Abolitionism in England in the second half of the 18th century was, it seems to me, the rise of a new religious dogma, promoted mainly by Quakers and Evangelical Anglicans. But, by golly, it was a pro-freedom dogma. And it won: first the English courts agreed that there could be no slaves in England (a finding quickly echoed in the Scottish courts); then the slave trade was banned; then slavery itself was prohibited in the British Empire, and the Royal Navy was set the entirely improper task of suppressing other nations' slave trades.

Looking back it seems to have been the first part of a wave of liberalism - absurdly oppressive old laws repealed; the vote restored to Roman Catholics; the union of Ireland with Great Britain, with Ireland over-represented in the House of Commons; the great Reform Act; the Second Reform Act; Darwinism, ...

But you could look back further to the 17th century to the Glorious Revolution and the end of the Divine Right of Kings. Look at the English Parliament's Bill of Rights or the Scottish Parliament's Claim of Right. Part of the latter seems to me just wonderful: the complaint that James VII had

changed “the fundamentall Constitution of this Kingdome ... from a legall limited monarchy to ane Arbitrary Despotick power”.

Americans might reasonably wonder whether their elected monarchy has undergone, or is undergoing, a similar transition.

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One of the major events that lead to the drastic changes in the Puritan church was the "Halfway Coventant" (https://www.britannica.com/event/Half-Way-Covenant). Basically they gave up one of the core tenants of the church and allowed everyone to be baptized (and therefore a member of the church). This lead to an influx of unconverted individuals in the church, who over time started to change church government.

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> It seems intuitively obvious that if Coca-Cola is using child slaves to pick cocoa beans or something, boycotting them until they stop is a perfectly acceptable and even commendable thing to do.

It's not obvious that this is acceptable at all

The same reason that pretty much every thing asserted as an 'obvious' human universal isn't: you could be wrong.

It might be all fine and good if a dude walks up to you and says "hey give me some money and I'll enslave this orphan" and you say "uh, no thank you". But the real-world situations are never like this.

To use the instant example, just based on the one sentence presented, I have the following concerns:

1) What is a 'child'?

2) What is a 'slave'?

3) What is a 'boycott'?

4) How do you know that coca cola is doing this?

5) How do you know that you can trust the entity telling you that coca cola is doing this?

6) How do you know that your actions will meaningfully influence coca cola?

7) What is coca cola's professed reason for doing this?

8) What is coca cola's internal reason for doing this?

9) Who benefits from me attempting to harm coca cola?

The reason we want to avoid universalizing morality, _**even when it seems "intuitively obvious"**_, is because sometimes our intuitions are wrong, and if you have universalized your morality and imposed it by force or coercion on millions of people before you figure out your error, that's bad. That's why everyone with reasonable perspectives makes a healthy allowance for this.

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I posted this same link yesterday in another context: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1033027/fertility-rate-us-1800-2020/

If conformity briefly lost its hold following the 1950s, well, there was the most massive spike in young people ever in the history of the United States and young people tend to be nonconformist compared to older people.

As other have pointed out, though, I think you're ignoring Jim Crow. A lot more of American society, leadership, advertising and studio execs, had absolutely no clue what was going on. When they learned, largely due to the curiosity and agitation of those young folks, they were appalled. The natural reaction to learning that real world people were being strung up in trees and having their scrotums cut off for looking at the wrong woman, while 8 year-old children watched and laughed at them and police either ignored it or joined in, was a severe correction in the other direction of maybe not so strictly enforcing norms about what counts as deviants, especially with respect to immutable characteristics a person has no control over.

But I think the younger generation at that time became more open than usual to countercultural ideas in general when they discovered the dominant culture had elements to it so clearly repugnant. Most people eventually adopt roughly the same values as their parents, but it might hopefully work in the opposite direction when the parent's values are rotten and hateful. For instance, my grandparents disowned my mother, took away her car, and kicked her out of the house for dating a nearly pure-blooded Native Mexican man with dark skin. That was still late 70s. Thankfully, by the time I was born or at least old enough to form memories, they seem to have gotten it over and I still got to know my grandparents, who died with better values than they were born with.

It's not like this changed overnight. The Mathew Shepards, Brandon Teenas, and James Byrds of the world were still being shot, beaten to death with tire irons, and dragged behind trucks until all their skin burned off in the 1990s.

But those days are mostly behind us, so I suspect people today aren't nearly as suspicious of conformity and strict norm enforcement when "cancel" means get a person fired and not brutally and publicly murder them.

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Regarding point #5, here are some general principles

0) Speech is not violence, because you can control how you respond and react to speech. If someone punches or shoots me, I can't choose to not experience physical trauma. But if someone says something hateful, I can choose to react with something other than emotional trauma, like a sense of righteous pity. It may take practice, but it *is* possible.

1) Since the free exchange of ideas is essential to the discovery of truth and human progress, it's better that "bad" (hateful, hurtful, etc) speech go unpunished than "good" (respectful disagreement, etc) speech be silenced. That doesn't preclude shunning, but it does mean one should proceed with caution and forethought to the chilling effect it might have.

2) If one is going to shun people based on their speech, then the response should be proportional to the level of offense.

3) The level of offense depends on more than just the subjective reaction of the audience. The intent of the speaker, social and historical context, and recency all matter.

4) Always seek to act with grace and forgiveness. (Almost?) everyone can change.

5) Be humble. Don't assume your norms and values are perfect and beyond question.

"Cancel culture" (as that terms is currently understood) seems to violate all of these.

In the spirit of my point #5, I'm quite happy for people to challenge any of these.

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> But once you're using social media to arrange boycotts of companies you don't like, how is that not "cancel culture"?

One is boycotting a corporation until they make a policy change (at which point you stop). The other is targeting rando individuals over speech rather than action or for past rather than ongoing action.

> were those people morally obligated to continue giving Gawker money anyway?

A defining characteristic of cancel culture is the campaign to exert social pressure on everyone else to not patronize the target, not just yourself.

It's the difference between saying that Alex Jones is full of it and not listening to him, and saying that Alex Jones is full of it and organizing a boycott of anyone who doesn't censor him.

> Cancel culture has proven that one wrong too - a small minority of very dedicated people can impose a heckler's veto on the entire rest of the culture, and nobody else will stand up to them.

There is a specific reason for this though, and it's corporate consolidation. The hecklers can get you booted off of Twitter and Facebook because they're both culturally aligned with the hecklers. It's sort of the corporate equivalent of regulatory capture.

The market solution to this is supposed to be that another competitor appears to serve the demand not satisfied by the incumbents. Except that anybody who tries to do this then gets booted off of both major app stores.

It's too easy for the hecklers to capture the whole market when there are such a small number of participants.

So this is really an antitrust problem.

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In retrospect the 2000s were a very weird time. The Christian Right, seemingly in decline in the '90s, came roaring back into power, and immediately set the FCC on punishing trivial offenses that were seen as "harmful to the children," most famously a few seconds of Janet Jackson's nipple. There was also a good deal of self-censorship to avoid offending the right wing: look up the changes to the poster for the movie "What a Girl Wants" for a particularly silly example. To go from that to having Howard Zinn and Peggy McIntosh as our holy texts in little over a decade's time, with only a brief moment of relief around 2010, still gives me whiplash with how fast it happened.

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1. The most effective censorship is when we censor ourselves. In fact, censorship is I think most effective, the less it relies upon overt repression. Making martyrs and all that.

2. The fall of Puritanism may be interesting, but for an example closer in time to our own, you could look at the Quiet Revolution in Quebec. In the space of fifteen years or so (1960-1976), Quebec went from a poor, priest-ridden province dominated politically and culturally by the Catholic Church, to the Quebec we all know and love today. And it all happened pretty much without a fight.


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Regarding "2. There's an oversupply of tweeting and an undersupply of everything else"

I think of this as communication pollution, modeled on light pollution.

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Very nice as always. A few thoughts. 1.) I wish I could write good. 2.) When I was reading your SSC post recently, https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/04/04/the-ideology-is-not-the-movement/ I realized that it's tribes all the way down. And tribes are not by themselves bad. Tribes include; my family, my church, my community, my sports teams, etc. And that humans like and need tribes. We want to be part of them. (I think it would be pretty easy to make an evolutionary case for tribal formation.) This makes all sorts of stuff easier for me to understand. There is lots of tribal signaling, letting others know your tribe. Perhaps the worst thing you can do is go against your tribe. To say something not of the tribal canon, is to call for you to be shammed by your tribe. And you either apologize profusely, or maybe consider leaving that tribe. (Hard to do since we all want to belong to a tribe.) So having one neo-nazi on the redit SSC/ CW thing means that a true blue blue triber should do his best to get you cancelled. It doesn't excuse the behavior, but maybe helps explain it. Way too many other examples of people being cancelled for not staying in their tribal lane.

I like your idea of the barber pole of fashion. But applying it to tribes, seems harder. The blue tribe has to stay within the blue tribe canon. It can move 'upwards' Atheism to SJW. But it's hard for me to see how it jumps to the other side. Still I can see much merit in the barber pole idea. I remember in grade school there would be some certain 'craze' that would take over your grade. And suddenly everyone wanted to have a troll doll. And then something new next year/ term.

Re UU's origin. As a (mostly former) UU I don't doubt that it grew out of the puritan church. But the ideology is not the movement :^) And as a UU I mostly learned to claim Joseph Priestely, as a founding father. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Priestley. A pretty cool dude!

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An argument on the topic of "banning universities from issuing ideological diversity statements" - the University gets many protections from the state in regards to the freedom of their speech that don't apply to normal government employee, they also get much in the way of state subsidies in terms of both the real value of land, tax dollars, and subsidized tuition.

The argument for maintaining these institutions is that a rich and vibrant intellectual community is the source of great societal advancements, and proper intellectual communities need to have the ability to discuss ideas freely , without fear of persecution by their host state.

However, I would argue that ideological litmus testing is a violation of that contract, as are field of inquiry and study with an explicitly activist mission. You could justify these things purely on the basis of "the institutions who we trusted in this regard have been consistently failing to keep up their end of the bargain, and thus deserve no such special treatment.

The reason why liberals are constantly shouting about the enemies at the gates - is that Normal, Nice, Liberal people still have yet to be convinced that this is a problem on par with the Alt Right, let alone the Religious Right (which was much more powerful and influential). I still have to deal with people who are In Intellectual Spaces saying things like: "(I haven't written the blog post because I have only a limited amount of involvement in the culture wars before people write me off as a culture warrior and stop listening to me, and I try to ration this pretty heavily. But if I was going to get involved by making 100 tweets about it, I would decide not to make those 100 tweets, and write the blog post.)". Why is this true of your writing about the culture war, but not of the entire media culture deciding that Trump Must Be Stopped, Truth Be Damned?

The Nice, Liberal, Intellectual grouping that you happen to inhabit has a decades-long engineered blind spot to leftist excesses, and are now quietly watching as more and more of their colleagues get taken out behind the chemical sheds to be replaced by the new, Woker candidates. The reason that there's an importance to sounding the alarm is that your average upper-middle-class college student who is in the thick of it in these terms has not yet understood the gravity of these problems and is totally ok with the ACLU despite the fact that it's filing legal briefs defending racism.

I know that you're a fan of Mistake Theory - but the people who want to Defund The Police do not hold to your views, and have absolutely no interest in analyzing the costs or benefits of defunding the police. Their view is rooted in the idea that the institution of "having police" is inherently racist and needs to be destroyed - despite the fact that every successful society of any cultural majority has had a police force, with some doing worse than others (and by those standards - our police are *phenomenally* laid back). In addition, by even suggesting "actually, if you want better police, you have to pay them" - you are taking a fundamental risk to your status as a Nice, Liberal, Intellectual.

You do not have to be Arthur Chu to be willing to stand up for yourself once in a while, and the alarm-sounding is necessary to convince the grouping you happen to inhabit that they actually must fight, lest they be destroyed either today by the rise of illiberal Wokeism - or a further defeat later when all the cool kids decide that the Alt-Right is the new thing (which may still happen - internet censorship stemmed the tide, but all of the sources of new, viral internet content that sticks are all still profoundly right wing).

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I have a feeling the changes in Puritanism were a lot like the atomic bomb being a Budapest high school project: there was some property that was inherent to their culture all along. Atomic bomb physicists from Budapest tended to be Ashkenazi Jews. Likewise, Puritans probably had something that was unique all along - a good guess would be a culture of being educated and questioning. Once you have that, a society is just a feedback loop away from giving up the repressive parts.

Or to put it a bit differently, Puritans already "had what it took", so they just needed to set some things up differently. Trying to liberalize a tribal culture would involve overcoming entropy. There's work in building up concepts and cultural institutions that can't be done easily.

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Some thoughts on what I've encountered exploring the question of Puritan slide to unitarianism

1. puritans largely believed you had to have a conversion experience to be a Christian. Their kids didn't have one, and they wanted their kids baptized, so they came up with the half-way covenant to baptize their grandkids when the parents weren't really sure they were converted.

2. puritans were anti-tradition, and were open to education and learning. This led to people learning new ideas and being crypto unitarian (Isaac Newton, not a puritan, was an example). Education was in the classical greeks, neoplatonists, etc. Theology was by Ramist Rationalism, where everything is a binary. Trinitarianism seems less "rational" to the crypto-enlightnment mind, and perhaps is an invention of popery like Christmas and Easter.

3. Newtonianism was the hotness, and showed a world that seemed wound up and didn't need interventions, which is somewhat determinist and seems Calvinistic. You can encounter God through study of the natural order: why need divine revelation? Educated people in close communities like Harvard and Yale were independent of church control and could think this in cabals

4. Puritans were congregational. If your pastor became a unitarian heretic, there wasn't a heirarchy to sus out the heresy and punish it.

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>Somebody should explore the fall of Puritanism in Massachusetts

Scott, you might want to check out From Puritan to Yankee: Character and the Social Order in Connecticut, 1690-1765, by Richard Bushman. Different state, but very relevant to what you're interested in.

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Thanks for reminding us of having “compassion” for those we disagree with in hopes of having a discourse rather than a “conversation of rage”.

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> Is it just because child slavery is actually bad but the occasional offensive tweet isn't?

Basically, yes. Also, Gawker was a company whose business model was to make money from the (shitty) content they posted, so boycotting/canceling/whatevering them over that content seems justifiable. Individuals who post dumb tweets generally aren't profiting from those dumb tweets; they're usually earning a wage for something unrelated.

The point about "misalignment of state power and morality" from https://astralcodexten.substack.com/p/theses-on-the-current-moment#comment-1947315 is also important here.

One could also take the consequentialist viewpoint that canceling people over dumb tweets doesn't actually advance the cause of social justice, which is supposed to mean helping minority and disadvantaged groups. Instead, it just incentivizes a lot of energy to go toward performative acts that help no one, and creates a chilling effect that also helps no one.

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>This isn't to say the 1950s US was good!

Was the amount of Per Capita Happiness lower in the 1955 US than it is in the modern US? And is that an appropriate metric for determining whether the 1955 US is "good", in political/cultural terms, compared to the modern US? If not, what's a better metric?

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> But once you're using social media to arrange boycotts of companies you don't like, how is that not "cancel culture"?

Convincing 100,000 people to boycott Coca-Cola is not remotely the same as having 100,000 people direct hate mail at Miriam K. Blogspot and then call her employer to demand she be fired.

How did you not spot the difference?

Corporations aren't people, and big corporations can take a bigger beating than, say, Dr. Leslie Neal-Boylan, who was fired for saying "BLACK LIVES MATTER, but also, EVERYONE’S LIFE MATTERS".

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the cancel is coming from inside the government

the problem of cancel culture is not cultural but systemic

by now every government in the west (and every *private* institution that is strongly connected to the gov like finance, education or health) has DIE officers in every department

even at the height of the red scare there wasn't an anti communist commissar at your local bank

I'll bet everyone of you who is living in the USA , Canada or the "old" EU that if you asked your bank manager she will point you to the person responsible for Diversity Inclusion and Equity at your local branch

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Great article, but I think what you really need for greatness are 89 more theses

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Isn't the very presence of this post proof that we aren't in some sort of suppressive authoritarian moment?

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<i>If someone were to write this all up into a 2000 word blog post "Here's Why Defund The Police Probably Won't Work" which is sober and friendly and decent enough to send to your leftist aunt, then you could send it to your leftist aunt and maybe convince her. Instead we have 10,000,000 people dunking on some stupid thing someone in CHAZ did which may or may not even turn out to be real, and zero people writing the blog post. The tweets preach to the choir and make angry people angrier; the blog post might make a real difference.</i>

Reminds me of a recent report which the British government commissioned into the prevalence and impact of racism in the United Kingdom. The report found that, whilst there was some racism, it didn't appear to play a major impact in differential outcomes for various subsections of the population, and that Britain was, in comparison with virtually any other country, very accepting of racial minorities. And, to their credit, all my woke friends engaged seriously with the report, accepting it as a powerful counter-argument to their beliefs, and re-evaluating what they thought they knew about the state of British society.

Lol jk, they didn't do that at all, instead they instantly dismissed it, cast aspersions upon the people writing it, accused the government of engineering a cover-up, and shamelessly misrepresented the report's conclusions and methodology in order to ridicule it.

Which is to say, I think you're being unusually naïve here. Writing a polite, evidence-based blog post might work with people like you, but most people -- including most intellectuals -- aren't like you, and won't be convinced using the same sort of methods that work for convincing you and your friends.

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I think it is missing a core point.

1600s Massachusetts or 1950s America, were flawed and those flaws had consequences, but they weren't objectively wrong.

SJWs make statements and hold beliefs that are factually incorrect and easily testable and plenty of scientists and layman know that.

The obvious similar case is Lysenkoism.

I think your article on Kolmogrov captured a lot of what happens in this kind of situation. I also suspect their ideology is very fragile in the Taleb sense. They can't co-exist with modern genetics, IQ tests, twin studies, any violation of the Tabula Rasa model, they need to invent crystal spheres like kids being influenced by how many books were in their house when they were three.

I am not sure how it ends, but there are clear contradictions. SJW leading figures are becoming less intelligent, more unpleasant and less healthy as this disregard merit and emphasize lived experience and encourage social media abuse. Teachers are realizing that some of the things they are meant to believe aren't possibly true I don't know how widespread it is and SJW principles in medicine, policing etc are causing disasters that are hard to hide.

Eventually I suspect people will speak out and the system will rapidly collapse but not sure when and how, I don't think 1990s liberalism was rare, most recent western societies have had freeish speech as long as you didn't attack the ruler or the church directly, in 1950s it was perfectly acceptable to call for homosexuality to be legalised and leftism was fine unless people suspected you of wanting to overthrow the country.

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Dear Leftist Aunt,

How are you.

I am fine.

Remember when The Rolling Stones thought it was a good idea to The Hell's Angels provide security for Altamont? Defunding the police will probably work out about as well.


Your nephew Gunflint

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"The Puritan Church turned into the Unitarian Church (I swear this is true, the Unitarian Universalists are the direct descendants of the 1600 Puritans). "

Sort of. It is kind of The Ship of Theseus. There was no organizational entity that ran the Puritan Churches. Individual congregations governed each church. They had the power to hire and fire clergy and to determine doctrine for the congregation.

The original 17th Century Puritan emigres from England were hard line Calvinists. They believed in predestination and a strict code of morality. By the 18th Century the doctrines of Arminianism became popular and the congregations fell away from the hard line. In the 1730's Jonathan Edwards preached the Great Awakening at Northampton MA to stem the Arminian tide. In 1750 the congregants of Northampton had had enough and they terminated Edwards pulpit.

(Little known fact about Edwards. He was the grandfather of Aaron Burr)

Also at the middle of the 18th Century, Jonathan Mayhew became the minister of the Old West Church in Boston. He preached a Unitarian doctrine. He was also a political radical who opposed the Stamp Act and preached the cause of liberty and the right and duty to resist tyranny.

In 1782, King's Chapel in Boston became the first congregation to officially accept Unitarianism and hire a Unitarian Minister. By 1785 they adopted a Unitarian liturgy. By the first quarter of the 19th Century, most of the congregations in Massachusetts were Unitarian.

In the middle of 19th Century the energies of New England focused politically on Abolitionism, and intellectually on Transcendentalism, (Emerson and Thoreau referenced above).

The development of religion in New England was not an inevitable progression. The Dutch Calvinists who settled in the US in places like western Michigan have retained much more of the old faith.

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> ive or ten years ago, it felt like 5% of my social circle was openly concerned about social justice. Now it's more like 50% or 60%, including a lot of the brightest people who I respect most (I don't think this is because I've changed my social circle - it's stayed pretty constant over that period).

How do we distinguish between a respectability cascade and what seems to me as equally plausible: as social justice became more powerful, then it tripped more and more people's this-is-not-ok circuit breaker.

In other words, couldn't it be that if social justice's effects and power and spread stayed at the level of five or ten years ago, then it'd still be only 5% of people in your social circle who were concerned about it today?

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On the question of government intervention/not intervention, Bryan Caplan makes a really good point here:


"The slippery slope looks something like this:

1. The law initially bans conscious decisions by employers to base hiring, promotion, or compensation on race or gender.

2. Discrimination gradually gets reinterpreted to include “unconscious” behavior with similar effects.

3. The next step is to blame employers for saying “the wrong thing,” even if there’s no discernable effect on workers’ objective career outcomes.

4. Then you blame employers for failing to deter their employees from saying “the wrong thing” to each other. This is when workers go from looking over their shoulder before they say something negative about a specific person, to looking over their shoulder before they say anything that would upset their most hypersensitive colleague.

5. Finally, you blame employers for failing to induce employees to say “the right thing” loudly and often. In other words, for failing to build a “culture of inclusion.”"

To the extent the current environment is driven by a dynamic like this, working to interrupt that slope is a coherent, principled project that doesn't require asking for government intervention.

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I've been struggling how to parse the last post for a while, and now this one. It might just be that the implicit context I need was provided elsewhere, but I think I get hung up on the idea that the dominant culture has shifted so demonstrably that cancel culture now embodies this obvious and undeniable threat to all free speech norms. Its not that I'm not aware of examples, but those examples seem confined mostly to online forums like Twitter, and to college campuses, which are basically the closest real world equivalent of online forums like Twitter. And I agree that those places should have more ideological freedom! But as an accountant who does not have a famous blog or teach college classes....I don't know...I don't live my life in fear of getting canceled?

I get why its important to Scott, he has a very high-profile online presence, one that bled over into his personal life in ways that he documented the stress of (and its possible it was even more stressful than he disclosed), but again, a similiar scenario impacting my happiness or well-being seems...well pretty unlikely.

Is this the privilege of mediocrity? That no one cares? In the context of the 50s metaphor should I think of myself as similiar to the average....I guess accountant still works just fine, who went to work every day and no one ever asked if he was a communist or homosexual, because why would you demand a special pledge of allegiance or heterosexuality from Joe the accountant, that's reserved for people in Hollywood and high-ranking politicians. I know normal people CAN get swept up in things like this, like the lady who tweeted about Africa and it caused all sorts of problems for her but, I mean, it still happens less than getting struck by lightning, something I do not alter my whole behavior around avoiding.

So how am I supposed to think about this? Is it just supposed to be one of those things where if intellectuals and celebrities are afraid, it means we are being deprived of fresh ideas and perspective in ways that will damage us long-term (I think that was the point of the "Against Lysenkoism post on the old blog)? Or is this also a "First they came for the X" type thing, where I'm supposed to be worried that if today people on Twitter are being mobbed, then tomorrow it could spread so that I, walking down the street, might be assailed by a mob of rabid feminists and antiracists unless I'm wearing a BLM t-shirt? Because I'm just not sold that that is what is happening, or at least, not happening more often than people are getting struck by lightening.

I was tempted to call this post histrionic, but I guess it isn't really. Its deliberately trying to avoid being that, and doing a pretty good job of it. But the downside is that now I'm not certain why I should care. I think I'm supposed to feel like some walled garden is under siege but...I never felt like I had a walled garden in the first place. This is going on a slight tangent, but I grew up in Georgia, and I remember going to a special summer educational program where one of the teachers was gay, and I remember him telling the kids "if you feel like coming out to your parents...don't do it until you have some place you can go safely if they kick you out." That wasn't in 1950, that was in 2008. Now again, that guy was a teacher, an award winning one who was allowed to teach at high-prestige special summer education programs, so obviously the culture wasn't universally repressive to gay rights. But it was repressive enough that he felt like he had to warn kids that being open in their identity might cost them shelter in their own communities. So when Scott talks about the "high-freedom water mark" of the 90s...I guess he means freedom to be blogging on the internet, not freedom to be a gay teen in a small town in the deep South.

I don't mean to be uncharitable. I know the two aren't mutually exclusive, and a lot of people on the internet were fleeing the persecution in their communities, which probably made that internet freedom all the more intoxicating. But now gay marriage is legal, the government is at least making gestures towards fighting for transgendered rights. Its not that Scott is against any of these things, obviously, but saying that somehow things are worse now...I feel the dissonance of that.

I guess part of me does feel like whatever this current moment of "wokism" we are experiencing is, it feels like a small price to pay for what feels to me at least like obvious social progress. Unless you are saying we never had to pay it, or that the two aren't really related to each other. Which I would like to see someone argue. Because on the surface the way that progress has looked is that people blog about their experience being marginalized online, sometimes this takes the form of calling out people (fairly or unfairly) for not acknowledging their plight, eventually this discourse snowballs until suddenly people like me (who wasn't aware that transgenderism was even a thing until a few years ago) suddenly realize that there's a whole marginalized community out there I was ignoring and start to advocate for their rights, and eventually at least some portion of politicians want in on the action by doing things like setting policies allowing, for example, transgenderism in the military. Which, yeah, I think the military is a dumb institution, but if I were stuck in it, and realized I was transgendered, I would rather be allowed to continue to serve than feel like I had to hide it or risk getting kicked out with some sort of blight on my record.

So in conclusion, maybe its unfair of me, a person who doesn't feel like they have to worry about stuff like cancel culture to say to Scott, who obviously does, "hey stop making such a big deal out of cancel culture." Put in those terms, it might be the definition of entitlement. But Scott wasn't really framing it as something that's bad for him personally, it was something he was framing as obviously, universally bad for all of us. And I think in other posts he has made a pretty good case why that might be, but those arguments always come down to "free speech is a really good thing," and I agree! But I'm not actually sure there's less of it now than there was before. Maybe on the internet. Maybe even on college campuses. And that's obviously a loss, but it feels like a more specific loss than the tone of posts like these imply.

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I think one point Scott overlooks is the previously compartmentalized nature of speech in the pre-internet age.

The moral and political guardians only really cared out about the consensus in the mass culture, because that's where changes would be destabilizing to the social status quo. But in the old days, radical ideas could still seep into the mainstream slowly from above and below. For example, French philosophes or Bertrand Russell-type English intellectuals could freely write and debate about Marxism or free-love, or whatever. But I think that highbrow philosophizing was understood to be broadcast on a whole different channel that was not part of the mass culture. So that made it a fairly tolerable safe space.

Likewise, there were always guys with the equivalent of the kooky "underground" newsletter pushing their pet radical ideas. But these fringe ideas were so obscure that they were also unthreatening.

But the internet has jumbled all the channels together in a chaotic information soup. All of the speech and all of the the reactionary backlash are constantly occurring in real time on the same channel open to the masses. On balance it's probably good for free speech and inquiry, but it's like a non-stop Hegelian dialectic running at 10ghz.

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"If we can draw some kind of general principle from that, then I like where this is going. Five or ten years ago, it felt like 5% of my social circle was openly concerned about social justice. Now it's more like 50% or 60%, including a lot of the brightest people who I respect most (I don't think this is because I've changed my social circle - it's stayed pretty constant over that period)."

This corresponds to... the dramatic rise of "social justice" among people with similar demographics as your social circle. What % of your social circle thought Black-White gaps in various outcomes were primarily due to discrimination ten years ago? Now five years ago? And now?

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I needed this. Thanks for writing it. I'll be reading it a few times, I think, to try and work out what I should be doing. I've had the good sense to stay away from Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, but the phenomenon is encroaching on other online spaces I'm in and there are faint traces of it in my workplace (harmless at the moment, but I have no idea if that's a stable constellation). Your point #4 is really important to my sanity; I am way to skittish at the moment.

For what it's worth, I tried to hammer out some of the nuances of what I mean when I say "don't cancel people" in a private conversation with some people recently. A situation had happened where someone who had previously been on-staff of a site (but inactive for nearly a decade) was kicked out and all of their contributions to the site purged. The announcement thread was very generic and vague about what happened (did not even name the person, ostensibly because they did not deserve "the attention"), delivered a "we have zero tolerance for racism, sexism, etc and anyone who espouses such views is not welcome on this site" punchline, was instra-locked before anyone could respond to it, and all discussion of the topic elsewhere was aggressively shut down by the remaining staff. Now, from what I know about the ex-staff person, they were not the sort that one ought to defend, but I still think a lot of things could have gone better, and I've been trying to explain to people why (elsewhere, obviously).

I think I would have reacted with a lot less terror if (1) the announcement thread had included a line along the lines of "we thought long and hard about this and while we regret having to do this and think this sort of thing should be the absolute last resort, in this case the situation had been technically intolerable for several years already", (2) the person's contributions (completely unrelated to their political views) had not been purged, (3) discussion about it in any shape or form was not verboten, if necessary with some clear rules laid out about what kind of conversation would be allowed or not (e.g. "no discussion of [political topic] is allowed at all, not to defend it, and not to denounce it"), (4) some kind of warning would have been nice for the purging of the content.

The part in that list that I think is the most important is #1. Yes, there's a degree of "vapid disclaimer" to it, but it wouldn't be important to me that the staff members necessarily *mean* it. But a disclaimer like that would help to slow the spread of a meme I find problematic - that it's okay to react with righteous vengeance to burn someone's life down to the degree it happens to be in your hands. Combined with the lack of any open discussion about it, the kids playing this game (because of course there are kids) now get to update their worldview a very slight bit toward "This is how you should deal with people whose views you find reprehensible. It's socially acceptable to do it, and it has results. If I ever run a popular site, I can do this and improve the world with it."

In other words, I think this is one of those cases where society should teach the rule "don't do this", and occasionally, after thinking long and hard about it, there are exceptions, because there are exceptions to most rules (e.g. "don't kill" typically having a self-defence exception).

Nothing in this instance gave me an impression that anyone thought long and hard about whether it was the right thing to do. I *did* get the impression of a flash fire and the distinct additional impression that it would be directed at anyone who didn't sufficiently distance themselves from the -ism definition du jour. Which, all right, the solution here is to stop frequenting this site, obviously. But I do find the spread of the aforementioned meme troublesome.

I'm sure this entire point could be made in a more coherent fashion, and equally sure a much better point could be made - this was literally my first attempt at engaging with people who didn't understand why I could possibly object to someone that obnoxious getting kicked out in this particular way. But it's the tentative beginnings of a direction I'm forming for my cancel culture thoughts.

Anyway, as always, thank you for sharing your thoughts with the world. I really appreciate it. I know I don't comment much, but I read all your articles. (Same for the commenters, really. I definitely don't read all comments, but even skimming them is often enlightening.)

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Here's the long post you didn't want to write, about "defund the police".


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>Anyone who spoke out against it was burned as a witch or exiled

Surely you mean hanged as a witch; no one was ever burned in Salem.

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"I still don't have a great sense for how 1950s-era conformity and repression failed"

"I admit that my social circle is tiny and highly atypical. It's just a bunch of weird Bay Area intellectuals and creative types who are really into sex and drugs."

What's obviously missing today is rock-n-roll. I'm not joking. It was a real thing that seems to have been forgotten.

One thing rock-n-roll meant in cultural terms was young people living for the moment and not giving a shit about the future. If you don't give a shit about the future, it is really easy to flout conventions. I'm shocked by how much young people today care so much more about their careers than their freedoms. You are the greengrocers with the signs about socialism in the window.

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Scott, cancel culture is not boycotting! These are equated often by proponents of cancel culture to make it seem much more innocent than it is.

Boycotting is the act of persuading people to voluntarily abstain from engaging with a company/person/etc. Cancel culture typically involves the opposite: making it impossible for people to engage.

This is a boycott: sending out a mail to all students explaining why they should not go to an event with X.

This is cancel culture: appealing to the university leadership to get the event cancelled.

This is a boycott: holding a demonstration against the event, while letting people past.

This is cancel culture: interfering with the event so it can't go forward or people can't get to it.

This is a boycott: asking people to not take the classes by a professor

This is cancel culture: asking for the professor to be fired

This is a boycott: trying to persuade people with arguments

This is cancel culture: creating lists of those who engage and harassing them

This is a boycott: telling potential buyers that a certain book is problematic

This is cancel culture: demanding that publishers censor all their books (for example, with 'sensitivity readers')

Again, the key distinction is that boycotting is about people having a choice and cancel culture about taking that choice away. It's the difference between choosing to not vote and not being allowed to vote and between choosing S&M and being in an abusive relationship. From a certain perspective, these look very similar, but from the perspective of freedom, they are very different.

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"Tweeting" is the current manifestation of the capability of broadcasting your thoughts with minimal effort. Before, everyone thought their thoughts, and only some people wrote or spoke widely about them. Now instead of just thinking thoughts, mass quantities of people also have those thoughts broadcast online.

To be irritated at vast quantities of the public tweeting dumb things is to be irritated at vast quantities of the public *thinking* dumb things. People verbalize the idea that it's pointless to get worked up over dumb tweets from 0-follower randos, but the sheer bug-in-the-human-mind irrationality of it doesn't seem to easily set in at the emotional level, for some reason. Imagine if you got annoyed every time someone anywhere in the country thought something bad about you; this is nearly what happens when you get annoyed at a tweet.

To pull this tangent back to the topic of the post: Advising people to do something impactful instead of tweeting is to advise people to do something impactful instead of doing *nothing*. While it may be fair to call out to those doing nothing to do something instead, I think the superficial appearance of a tweet as being something more concrete than it really is, is probably having an effect here.

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It's a little ironic that the Unitarian Church is showing it's own type of Puritanism again: https://www.gofundme.com/f/bring-civil-liberties-back-to-the-uuma?utm_campaign=p_cp_url&utm_medium=os&utm_source=customer

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I’m not sure why, but this post doesn’t feel like it was written by Scott. Something in the tone and sentence structure.

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> 6. Somebody should explore the fall of Puritanism in Massachussetts

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Puritans_in_North_America says that the Puritans fragmented into sects, spinning off Quakers, Baptists, and others. Another key divide was over the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-Way_Covenant, which was so divisive because the Puritans at that point had choose whether to maintain their control over civil life (via the Halfway Covenant), or the purity of the congregation (no Halfway: keep the non-elect out of the congregation).

(Kidd 2005 p. 32) says that "once the Glorious Revolution [1689; replaced the Catholic king with a Protestant] was embraced by New Englanders, their religious and political agenda had so fundamentally changed that it doesn't make sense to call them Puritans any longer." Also, "The new Massachusetts charter of 1692… required the former Puritans to tolerate all Protestants, even Anglicans", and, "New Englanders became intensely devoted to the British nation, empire, and monarchy, especially as Britain fought perceived Catholic enemies… They came to see the new British government as the leader in the fight against world Catholicism, and thought it foolhardy to undermine the power of the monarchy or the empire in the name of intra-Protestant squabbles."

(Noll 2002 p. 21) says, "By the 1740s Puritan theology was indeed breaking apart into different strands of pietists, rationalists, and conservatives."

But none of these answers are what you want, because today we don't care as much about whether or not someone believes you must recount a personal conversion experience to have the right to vote, or their exact understanding of original sin and predestination, as whether they're down with having the Church rule the State, enforce a strict puritanical moral code, and be allowed to execute people for religious dissent. That stuff didn't go away in 1740; in fact, it came back with a vengeance in the Great Awakening of 1740, whose "New England theology" was a reactionary movement to return to a more-puritanical Christianity. IIRC, most New England states interpreted the US Constitution's "freedom of religion" as "freedom to be some kind of Protestant" until something like 1830 (and we still have laws against prostitution today).

A better answer is to check "God" and "Christian" (separately) on Google n-grams. Both dropped sharply around the Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution. These two revolutions both took the wind out of Christian fanaticism. Then the US Constitution separated Church and State, maybe because otherwise none of the colonies would have joined in a union with New England, which was still infamous for its crusading, intolerant Calvinism.

(In retrospect, perhaps they still shouldn't have.)

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I think the more-interesting half of Scott's question 6 is, How did the formerly-Puritan Yankee elite, while living in the same places and controlling the same institutions, change from fanatical "right-wing" Christians in 1830 to fanatical "left wing" progressives and Unitarian Universalists by 1900?

The best book I know on this is (Hutchinson 1976), The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism. It only outlines the period before 1860, and doesn't talk about Puritans at; but it covers the more-inflectional part of the transition of New England's elite from radical Puritans to radical progressives: the period from 1860-1900, when liberal theologians (Unitarians, Universalists, Hegelians, Social Gospel, & New Theology) struggled with old-school Calvinists for control of universities, theological seminaries, and congregations, notably in NYC and Chicago. (San Francisco could be on that list, but Hutchinson ignored the west coast.) It also names some of the important earlier links, like Hegel, Schleiermacher, & the Concord Transcendentalists.

The book is quite boring, and not very illuminating without some additional context. Many important connections are unstated. For instance:

- The University of Chicago was founded in 1856 as a Baptist school (Wikipedia, "Old University of Chicago"), despite the fact that, to avoid honoring its 1886 bankruptcy debts, it now claims to have been founded in 1890 with Rockefeller money.

- Baptists, along with Pilgrims, Puritans, Congregationalists and Presbyterians, are Calvinists.

- Andover Seminary is now part of Yale.

- Princeton was founded by 7 ministers, all from Yale or Harvard, all radical Great Awakening preachers, to educate new ministers in reactionary theology (https://blogs.princeton.edu/mudd/2016/01/who-founded-princeton-university/).

- Most colleges in New England before perhaps 1850 were in effect seminaries, founded and directed mostly by ministers, primarily to teach the next generation of ministers, who were the true leaders of most New England communities.

- The doctrine of "living moral experience" (p. 127), derived from writings of Rudolf Lotze and Albrecht Ritschl by at latest (Brown 1902), seems identical to the Nazi doctrine of Erlebnis (from Heidegger) and the Woke doctrine of "lived experience". All three fight science's claim on epistemology by arguing that personal experience and feelings are more foundational than data or logic.

- The close ties between the key liberal theology reformers, who are very often from Harvard, Yale, or the U. of Chicago, are never pursued, and sometimes unclear (e.g., some ministers are "from New Haven"; does that mean they were from Yale?)

- As often happens, some of the dominant ideas driving the change of that period are left unmentioned, probably because everybody at the time thought they were too obvious to mention. The most-disruptive influences on American Protestantism in the 19th century were Hegel and a revival of Plato. Doctrines of Plato (e.g., p. 11, 79, 125) and Hegel (p. 2, 5, 16-18, 92, 121, 123-126) are scattered throughout (Hutchinson 1976), but unmarked as such; Hutchinson says "Plato" and "Hegel" only once or twice each.

Ivy Calvinism became secular in the 19th century much like how Marx became secular: Begin as Christian; try to reconcile Christianity with the Enlightenment and Romanticism using Hegel; give up, rip out some sentences from Hegel that you think you understand, and construct your own theory around them.

Starting with Friedrich Schleiermacher and Hegel (both Platonists), theologians throughout the 19th century struggled to reconcile Christianity with both Romanticism, which taught love of nature, liberalism, and a non-theological morality; and the Enlightenment, Newton, and empirical science in general. They came up with many bizarre rationalizations to let them call themselves Christans without taking the Bible seriously. See (Hutchinson 1976; Wikipedia, History of Harvard University: Science; Muirhead 1928) for three almost entirely disjoint threads of how 19th-century theologians tried to use Plato and Hegel to unify Christianity with science.

Some Hegelians picked up the mostly-empirical tradition of Biblical criticism, which we can trace back to Spinoza and Erasmus, trying to explicate Hegel's claim that (my paraphrase) the Bible was entirely false, but essentially true. This led American ministers liberalized by Unitarianism and Romanticism to see if adding Hegel to the mix could clarify things. According to (Muirhead 1928), they didn't understand Kant or Hegel at all, and became Transcendentalists, claiming they could reach the ding an sich via divine inspiration.

This inspired further bizarre Hegelian rationalizations for how people could be Christans without taking the Bible seriously, none of which worked. See (Hutchinson 1976; Wikipedia, History of Harvard University: Science; Muirhead 1928) for three disjoint threads of the influence of Plato and Hegel on 19th-century American theology. What came out at the end of the 19th century was an American Calvinist church split in two: one half which had given up on the Enlightenment; and another half, including the elite colleges except for Princeton, which had replaced the Bible with Hegel to produce some "essence" of Christianity with all the irrelevant bits like sin, the crucifixion, and the historical existence of Jesus stripped away.

(Witness this 2018 advertisement for a lecture series on Hegel, quoting a recommendation by Marcuse, given by a Unitarian Universalist church: https://lcuuc.weebly.com/hegel-hegel-hegel.html)

Chapter 5 hints that this new, secular yet still evangelical Christianity motivated and eased colonialism, because a "Christianity" stripped of its Western cultural baggage was easier to foist onto strange cultures. It would be a delicious irony if we could show that the same Ivy League institutions leading our "anti-colonialist" movement today had in fact been responsible for colonialism. I have some evidence from (Dennis..Bartholomew 1911) that this was the case by 1911, when on the order of 1/3 of the world's funding for Protestant missions to non-Western nations was given to missionary organizations based in Boston and NYC.

I think a larger lesson here is that right-wing and left-wing are closer to each other than to the center. The more-constant dimension is "moderate and pragmatic" vs. "fanatic radical".

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As far as I can tell, the best way to word the opposition to canceling is: If you don't have any social power but need it, a boycott is a way of transmuting economic power into social power. It becomes immoral when you already have all the social power and are using boycotts to keep it that way.

It's also worth mentioning that canceling individuals is very different from canceling institutions. *That* opposition is very easy to put into simple words: what happens outside the workplace stays outside the workplace.

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The Puritans became the Unitarians? A small splinter faction of dissenters did. Not the religion as a whole. Seriously, religious history is so often neglected because our academics lean so atheist. But it's really vital to understanding anything resembling cultural movements. It's only maybe in the last fifty years that culture war didn't mean religious war.

Anyway, the Unitarians are their own branch with a direct lineage to the 16th century. They united with the most liberal of the Puritans over opposition to the Congregationalist structure of more traditional Puritanism. This conservative branch remained more in line with Calvinist principles and Congregational government but has at least an equal claim to descent from the Puritans. The conservatives eventually became the United Church of Christ, which is about ten times bigger than the Unitarians. It's still liberal, though less so than the Unitarians.

Perhaps more importantly, they're far less cuddly about their liberalism. Hellfire, sin, and damnation is still very much a thing. They've just changed their view of their city on a hill to something much more liberal. Considering liberalism is dominant in New England, I'm not sure that's too much of a change from even the historical status quo. After all, they were Parliamentarians back in the day. They were drawn from the political ancestors of the British left and their opponents were the Tories.

Ralph Waldo Emerson's family was Unitarian and his father was a forerunner of that liberal splinter group. In fact, his father's specific church would be a center of the splinter in time. And he was very much within that tradition. So he is less of a comment on the transformation of the Puritans as from an unrepresentative family that heralded the change. A change that would be rejected by the majority, both for reasons of conservatism and because of theological reasons I can get into. But pointing out that Unitarians are like Unitarians is tautological. I've met a few that have their own headcanons of Hinduism living in Boston.

Henry David Thoreau's parents were also part of a reformist splinter group and left the Unitarian Church. Thoreau was so disgusted by the purity tests, group think, and pointless drama over small stakes (sound familiar?) that he basically abandoned organized religion altogether.

Victorian morality has been greatly exaggerated. I'm straining to think of any moral laws that passed unless you want to count things like ending slavery or the ten hour workday. Persecution of homosexuality and prostitution was not new: the police simply got better funded and more efficient and so were able to enforce those laws more efficiently. Meanwhile, the Victorian era saw the birth of the porn industry and huge booms in sex toys, condoms, etc. The "censorship" of books was mostly just offering a censored version. And the rapid advance of literacy and wealth meant new people were reading who may well have been just as big prudes the previous century.

You start seeing extensive regulation of such behavior, socially and legally, mostly towards the end of the century. The Progressive Era. That's when a group of radical progressives began to push for things like banning condoms and porn, organizing boycotts, producing restrictive ideas of politeness, having linguistic shibboleths, etc. I think a lot of the cultural image of the period is actually towards it's end. That's why Queen Victoria is almost always portrayed as old. Which means they're remembering the moral puritanism of the Progressive Era, not the entire period.

And while modern Progressives share only some direct policy positions with 19th century Progressives, they both are animated by the same fundamental belief. That the improvement of society, its progress, towards an ideal state must be driven through their actions politically and socially. If they've changed, it's only in what that ideal state is, just as the more traditionalist Puritans remained brimstone and hellfire and only changed what they considered a sin.

I can't comment as intelligently on Ireland. But social patterns are far, far more durable than most people realize.

(Also, secondary point: extreme religiosity is a sign of conservatism today, especially in the US. This was not the case historically but we project that belief backward. There are plenty of examples where the less religious faction was the more conservative.)

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Maybe I am missing the point, but isn't the core policy prescription to make in the midst of the cycles, trends, and fashions of the day to focus one's attention on things that will still matter in 100 years? The higher things - as they say. Trends are like winds. Sometimes the winds are good and one can harness them, sometimes bad and one should tack against them. But they are winds... prophecy to the wind, Scott, only the wind will listen.

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Apologies if someone has already said this, but I don't think that the situation for anti-woke views in the US is much like the situation for gays in the 1950s (probably marajuana too, but I have less sense what people thought about it in the 50s.)

In the 1950s, there was pretty much no segment of mainstream society anywhere in the United States that was accepting of gays. It wasn't just like it was uncool but large parts of society that were accepting while upper-middle class dinner parties were filled with homophobia. The gay rights movement was a tiny marginalize group largely ignore. Scott himself has mentioned that the NYT ran nasty anti-gay stuff (actually, not 100% sure if this is 40s, 50s or 60s)(See Section 3.2.2 of the Anti-Reactionary FAQ: https://slatestarcodex.com/2013/10/20/the-anti-reactionary-faq/) The public generally rejected gay rights.

Meanwhile with wokeness:

1) As non-woke liberals often point out (especially when discussing optimal Democrat message strategy), one of the most important things to realize about the kind of hyper-wokeness that shows up in for example, some parts of academia, or some feminist blogs, is that it's *widely disliked* by the American populace, including the young and the non-white: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/10/large-majorities-dislike-political-correctness/572581/

'Among the general population, a full 80 percent believe that “political correctness is a problem in our country.” Even young people are uncomfortable with it, including 74 percent ages 24 to 29, and 79 percent under age 24. On this particular issue, the woke are in a clear minority across all ages.

Youth isn’t a good proxy for support of political correctness—and it turns out race isn’t, either.

Whites are ever so slightly less likely than average to believe that political correctness is a problem in the country: 79 percent of them share this sentiment. Instead, it is Asians (82 percent), Hispanics (87 percent), and American Indians (88 percent) who are most likely to oppose political correctness. ' Yes, people mean different things by "political correctness", but this hardly suggests a hegemonic ideology. Furthermore, these stats are consistent with the general useful rule of thumb that the general public is more socially conservative than the elite in the vast majority of Western democracies. (No source for this one to be fair, but I doubt many disagree.)

2) There's a massively popular conservative media system where wokeness is the subject of withering scorn. I know some people will argue this doesn't count because it's "low status", but whilst that might be true, gays had nothing like this in the 50s at all. Better a working-class coded, uncool, but massively popular, widely consumed media system backing you up than nothing at all.

3) Even outside of that conservative media system, there are plenty of successful elite media writers who's selling point is partly that they are anti-woke. That's what the recent twitter moral panic about substack was about: people were upset because anti- or non-woke liberals, socialists and libertarians and heretic moderate conservatives like Jesse Singal, Glenn Greenwald, Matt Yglesias, Freddie deBoer, Andrew Sullivan, Scott himself, were making loads of money off substack. There was no gay rights equivalent to these people in the 50s.

I'm not saying that this means there is nothing to worry about here on anything, obviously it would take far more argument to establish that, and I'm not really sure I agree with it anyway. There is, for example a lot of woke and leftish dogmatism in academia, and insofar as academia a) is influential and b) has an important function that should be performed well, that is plausibly bad. But even there it doesn't reign unchallenged in the way that some people seem to think. My experience in philosophy-admittedly, probably the least woke humanity-is that most people hate the stuff. The popular philosophy blog Daily Nous got rid of the like button on it's comments a few months back, and it was widely, and I think somewhat plausibly believed that it did so precisely because anti-woke comments always got massive numbers of likes. Go on philosophy twitter and you'll find it's the people who comment sneeringly about "cis white males" who tend to regard themselves as the embattled minority.

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> For example, if I remember correctly, there's actually a huge amount of formal academic evidence showing that policing decreases crime a lot, that decreasing policing increases crime, that the alternatives to policing that CHAZ etc propose don't work very well, that increasing crime hurts minorities the most, and that minorities are generally against this kind of thing.

My question is, where are the researchers who presumably have studied these things and why aren't they speaking up? Presumably, if CHAZ or defunding worked they would be speaking up because it's the fashionable sentiment at the moment, so are they staying silent for fear of censure and harassment? That's the chilling possibility.

> Still, we had exactly that same fight in the 50s, and the weird Bay Area drug users won completely and overwhelmingly.

Sure, after the old guard died off. We can do better than progress one funeral at a time.

> But once you're using social media to arrange boycotts of companies you don't like, how is that not "cancel culture"?

If a mob is piling on a single person trying to get them cancelled, that's punching "down" and is wrong. It's wrong even if that person is a celebrity, because you're not really going to hurt that celebrity by "cancelling" them, but you are going to hurt everyone who they employ and all of the people who enjoy their content. This just sows dissent and a counter culture to this sort of protest.

If a mob is piling on a faceless corporation, that's punching up. Those are legitimate boycotts like you describe.

There many be a few exceptions to the above rules, but I think they hold as general principles.

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It occurs to me that even if woke terms are being used less now than they were at their peak, this doesn't prove that wokeism (possibly with different terminology) couldn't rev up again.

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I am duly chastened for spending too much time tweeting and not enough time on real work.

As for the puritans, a very similar thing happened in france in a similar time frame. It went from Louis XIV suppressing non-catholics to widespread atheism among the elites. So it might be a mistake to focus on local history instead of the history of memes. The enlightenment happened. I should read Pinker's latest book.

Additionally, perhaps the same psychological traits that led to joining a nonconformist sect that took ideas seriously also led to faster-updating when better arguments for atheism etc came out.

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<i> But once you're using social media to arrange boycotts of companies you don't like, how is that not "cancel culture"?</I>

It is, which is why we need a different term for what most people are actually objecting to when they use the term. The hallmarks of the worst form of Cancel Culture include:

(1) A transgression that exists because of rapidly shifting rules. E.g., Barack Obama was still officially opposed to gay marriage through April of 2012 (he was lying, of course). His official position was still not a firing offense. But if you still have tweets up from that period where you take the same position... watch out. Related prediction: within five years, it will be a transgression in a small but noisy cohort to use certain euphamisms for slurs. Saying "he used the n-word" will be a transgression.

(2) The "Has Justine Landed Yet?" phenomenon, where absolute nobodies can be shamed into oblivion by Twitter mobs (and New York Times mobs) for their minor transgressions. While you can reduce your risk of this by going anonymous online, you never know if this is going to be the day when you stumble into a Covington Catholic situation and your behavior is filmed and broadcast to Twitter.

(3) Disproportionate consequences: Coca-Cola isn't going bankrupt because conservatives get upset about Critical Race Theory. Any decline in sales or stock price isn't going to have first-order effects on anyone. Even if sales drop enough that some employees need to be laid off, they haven't been rendered unemployable. The same cannot be said for a pizza parlor in the middle of nowhere. The Memories Pizza incident was personally harmful to the owners and people who worked there, and the owner's name will always be connected to that incident.

(4) Dopamine hits from ruining someone's life. Shaming the outgroup is FUN, especially when we can gather in a circle around a dispicable member of the outgroup and throw stones. Those of us who can throw the heaviest stone earliest get bonus Status Points in the ingroup.

This isn't an exhaustive list, but I think it covers the main problems with "Cancel Culture." I tend to use "Twitter mobs" (or some variant) because Twitter seems to be the common denominator in harmful Cancel Culture, but I don't think it's the best term.

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"We all agree government authoritarianism is bad. But is banning guns the bad type of government authoritarianism? Nationalizing industries? Banning gender transition? Forcing everyone to wear a microchip so the police can track them at all times? There will always be debate about the exact limits of what's unacceptable, but our lack of coherent principles doesn't mean we're not allowed to object to specific acts of government authoritarianism in the meantime."

This could not be more wrong: we all (except for anarchists, maybe) agree that government authoritarianism is *good*.

Everyone agrees that the government should ban Really Bad Things once we determine that these things are sufficiently harmful. If you believe that words (e.g., certain ethnic slurs) can cause actual "trauma," then of course you want them banned, just as you want punching people in the nose to be banned. If you think that only sticks and stones can break your bones, then you don't want speech to be banned. Everyone is pro-"free speech" to the extent that they believe the speech is harmless or low-harm. What we call a "Libertarian" is someone who thinks that a relatively great proportion of activities that one person can engage in don't harm others all that much. That's not a principled commitment to "free speech"; that's a moral and ontological claim about "harm."

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Boycotting Coca-Cola if they use slaves is not cancel culture because they're using the slaves to *make the Coca-Cola that you're boycotting*.

And it's hard to fix the example to actually be cancel culture because Coca-Cola doesn't have a private life. If you change it to the president of Coca-Cola, it would be a lot closer to cancel culture if the president of Coca-Cola owned Apple stock, Apple was accused of using slaves, and you and your friends boycotted Coca-Cola until they fired the president for supporting slavery in his spare time by owning Apple stock.

Even that isn't a good example because it's really hard to exert pressure on a president of a company this way, so it would be ineffective cancel culture and we don't see much like it

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In terms of "every study says increasing policing decreases crime"- well, no. I feel like you may have read certain studies, but it depends on different circumstances, what type of crime, etc. The source of the study is also relevant, as well as the sources of data used.

Frankly, this entire post was a little short on data and pretty big on emotional reaction.

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Pretty much all of those studies use data provided by the police and local govenrments, which are obviously biased.

One issue for police reform activists is getting consistent data published on police actions. Crime data is notorious political.

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Everyone loves to hate the Puritans, but were they wrong? Intent to do good in the world really is the most important thing you have personal control over. It is the heart of what makes a good person. Yes, there are problems with organizing a society around purity tests of good-heartedness, but it's also kind of works wonders. The Puritans and their heirs won the American Civil War, two World Wars, the Cold War, and now they're winning the Culture Wars.

As for legislating morality, having society or government enforce standards is worth it in some cases but not all obviously. The trick is figuring out which cases are which. Given how much people argue about this very question my own take away is that most people should be much less confident about enforcement of their preferred moral system. And if that self-blindness applies to other people it probably applies to me also. I guess another takeaway is that we should have priors against government intervention, but we should try to test small enforcement programs in various ways to see which ones work. This testing regime should apply to existing programs which seek to maintain a mandate every bit as much as new programs. Doubt but verify.

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5. 'Cancel culture' is a non-formalized rule enforcement procedure. As such, it is liable to excessive zeal, selective enforcement, arbitrariness, etc. The alternative to cancel culture is simply to have clear rules and enforce them accurately. If any mobs (twitter or otherwise) try to enforce their own rules, we simply ignore them, or if the problem is bad we make a rule against doing so and enforce that accurately.

6. The Puritans did not die. They rule the world now. Remember that the Civil War was the conquest of America by Massachusetts, and the World Wars were the conquest of Europe.

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People have started creating "solidarity lists", which are basically lists of problematic individuals that one should avoid doing business with. We can financialize these, facilitating bets like "Will Scott Alexander appear on the ACLU's solidarity list?". Here are the benefits:

- We can be precise about what cancellation means

- There is an incentive to be the canonical solidarity list, which requires temperance

- People can hedge their cancellation risk

- You can get real-time feedback on how close you are to cancellation

- Moloch smiles down upon you (A C C E L E R A T E)

- The flood of resources into predicting cancellation may make it unfashionable or collapse under the weight of its own absurdity

- There will be right and left solidarity lists, which will polarize the issue on an authoritarian-liberal axis instead of a left-right axis

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My experience is that societies get less repressive because they contain within themselves the seeds of less repression.

Puritanism, for all the hate it gets, was fundamentally a utopian project. The authoritarianism wasn't the point; the point was to create God's Kingdom On Earth, and the New World seemed as natural and free and pure a place as any to get that project started. Puritans were overwhelmingly well-educated and used social control as a means of enforcing a (contemporaneously) progressive public morality: the town drunk wasn't allowed to stay a drunk for long, but rounded up and basically forced to either make a productive member of society out of himself, or be banished.

Now, along the way, there were the witch hunts and the scarlet A's and all that oppressive stuff. But that stuff doesn't hold up very long against a deep-seated cultural value of education and utopianism. And because the point of the oppression wasn't oppression itself, but the utopianism, the utopianism eventually won out. Insularity and congregationalist theology also led to experimentation: every congregation was profoundly independent and somewhat democratic, so they could come up with wierd ideas; and those ideas wouldn't necessarily be impinged upon or even make it to the ears of the next congregation over, so there was a broad latitude for experimentation. Although the narratives always make a big deal about the Puritan obsession with rooting out heresy, the reality is that it was so visible precisely because they had such a thin line between heresy and theological innovation. It really was just a crap shoot as to whether a new idea would get banned or celebrated, so innovators saw reward in trying new things - bringing their brethren closer to God! - but could not accurately pre-assess whether they'd cross any lines, thus leading to the famously frequent backlashes.

The other half of the story is economic integration with their liberal/libertarian-minded Dutch neighbors in New Amsterdam. In 1692, NYC had only been an English holding for 30 years. It was still a tiny trading post. By the 1820s, NYC was a burgeoning metropolis with well-established trade links with Boston. The Puritans living mostly between those two cities benefited from all of this. By 1820, they'd had the benefit of over a century of cultural exchange with the Dutch, whose mercantilist and secular attitudes were legible to their fellow mercantilist Puritans.

The Dutch had a custom of tolerance through segregation - preventing conflict between groups by siloing them away from each other and having them negotiate with the central authority. To them, the Puritans were merely another group to deal with. Conversely, the Puritans' isolationism and sense of superiority meant that they saw little threat from the Dutch's secularism. The Dutch were "heathens" anyways, and their society would presumably fail without Puritan ways. Trading with them kept Puritans strong, and although Puritans would be on the lookout for assimilationism, it's impossible to keep out all assimilationism

The last part of it is also the big, dumb, obvious elephant in the room... "it's the American Revolution, stupid". Gee... the region we're talking about starts out with widespread oppressive religious utopianism led by a highly educated professional class... then spawns a successful civil-libertarian tax revolt led by that same professional class... and then 40 years later the professional class are all hippy-dippy religiously tolerant liberals? What a surprise.

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I'm sure this is just rhetorical hyperbole, but I don't think anyone was ever burned as a witch in Massachusetts.

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The problem as I see it is not that *cancelation* is wrong inherently, at least not for obviously bad examples like the child slave one, but rather that this amorphous neo social-justice/D'Angelo-ism/intersectionality ideology is wrong. But the fact that it's so difficult to pin down and name is part of its memetic defense, and deflects critique of it towards its *methods* instead.

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It is time for the federal government to rethink its approach to northern development in light of recent events, including the change in government, the slowdown in the economy due to falling global commodity prices, the urgent need to address climate change, and the emergence of a new generation of leaders and engaged citizens in the region. Dissertation writers can and should rewrite their work. <a href="https://nursingstudybay.com/">Health Care assignment and Life Sciences paper writers</a> In the past, the federal function was based on studies and assumptions that have been around for a long time and have been proven to be true. As the country gets ready for the challenges that climate change and huge changes in the global organization of production will bring, new plan to deal with these problems that takes advantage of the North's current strengths and assets as well as any new strengths and assets that may come up in the future.

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