Recently, activists have pursued the goal of racial equality with particular vigour. Using Critical Race Theory, their strategy is to take the fight to individuals by directly accusing them of involvement in racism. Non-woke citizens are unconsciously reproducing racism’s assumptions and tropes, activists say, and are thus propping up the system. Simply living in a racist society, without disrupting its structures, makes you complicit. In fact, the more successful, productive and socially useful an individual or organisation is, the more complicit they are likely to be, because they are helping this society to function effectively.
What makes the activists’ approach particularly effective is that they can now harness enormous numbers of supporters through social media. This can be seriously alarming for all potential targets. Individuals live in fear of being singled out and ostracised, shamed and condemned. We need to belong and be accepted, and we will rush to join a witch hunt to avoid being burned as witches ourselves. Leading the witch hunt makes us even safer. Much online condemnation is virtue-signalling to protect ourselves.
Businesses and other organisations are staffed by such vulnerable private citizens, who can no longer shrug their shoulders and blame the system. In addition, businesses are so geared to maximising profit, that they can be destroyed by even a partial boycott, . Civic organisations, especially governmental ones, must be seen to represent the wishes of the people to have legitimacy. The leaders of both are increasingly being held personally accountable for the practices of their institutions (how else can they justify their vast salaries?)
This approach has reaped emphatic rewards. In a consumerist society, commercial enterprises have become the most flagrant racial virtue-signallers as they try to increase or retain their market share. Their endorsements and ad campaigns are depressingly influential, despite being nakedly insincere. Their appointments herald a new age of racial equality. The prominence all this gives to social agents of colour has markedly enhanced the status of these groups. There are more people of colour presenting television programmes or publishing novels, histories and social-political commentaries. There are more books about the Black and Asian experiences of racist Britain, more post-colonial, non-white histories; more popular sociological studies. More Black actors are getting major roles in theatre, television and cinema. And this is all brilliant.
HOWEVER, I’m not sure the ends justify the means, because traditional campaigning methods have already reaped substantial rewards – marked progress towards racial equality – and would continue to do so. I also don’t think the modern social activists’ gains are secure. In fact, I fear the methods may be fundamentally weakening our core values, so that these proximal successes do not betoken genuine advancement and thus long term universal gains, solidly built on firm moral foundations. We have seen fierce push-back against our projects, and not just from the fascists, so I worry this progressive edifice may eventually collapse in on itself, into tribal conflict.
If you were to arm fundraisers so they could demand money at gun-point, you might see an initial increase in charity donations without creating a more generous society. In fact, you might be fostering catastrophic resistance, resentment and hostility below the surface.
I worry this might be happening, here.