What's Social Justice Dogma? (Start Here)

I've written a lot about it over the past few years. And other people have too. Here's a list of articles to get acquainted.

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For 14 days now I’ve been writing daily essays about dogmatic activism for my “Social Justice, Minus Dogma Book” (I don’t know what it’ll be called in the end, but that’s what I’m calling it for now).

When I started that series, I assumed that anyone who followed along on the mailing list would’ve already been familiar with my other writing on social justice dogma (SJD). I was wrong – and that’s great! It’s been fun to hear from so many people for whom this was their first touch with SJD, or even my writing, work, and activism. Welcome!

So, with all of you beautiful new people in mind, as well as anyone else who is just getting started learning about SJD, I put together the following collection. It’s a curated starting place for learning about SJD.

I’ve arranged all of these articles based on the order I’d recommend, not based on when they were written. You are, of course, welcome to pick and choose, or read in whatever order sparks your fancy.

First, let’s start with a definition for social justice dogma. What are we even talking about here?

Definition

The Social Justice Dogma (SJD) is the set of beliefs, stances, and acceptable actions laid down by the authorities within the social justice movement that we hold as incontrovertibly true.

The beliefs show up as accepted facts, truths, and principles that we learn as we become part of the social justice movement, and work to teach others.

Stances show up most strongly as things, ideas, or people that we are – or should be – against. They also show up as things we should be for.

Acceptable actions are the tactics we should use to put our beliefs and stances to work – all the ways we’re supposed to show up, interact with others (both inside and outside of the movement), and advance the cause.

The authorities part is the trickiest, because within the movement we have a lot of different authorities, but you can think of authorities generally as anyone, or any source (platform, org, publication, etc.), who is writing the rules above that we follow, and enforce amongst ourselves. Authorities are the “they” when someone says, “_They_ said you shouldn’t say/think/do that.” Authorities as sources show up when people say “I read on [source] that we should now say/think/do this.”

I can’t stop thinking about the “Social Justice Dogma,” or keeping quiet.

“It’s time for me to break the first rule of the social justice dogma: don’t talk about the social justice dogma.”

My first essay on the topic, where I introduced the phrase, and started down this road back in 2017.

Why I Finally Broke My Silence about the Social Justice Dogma

The usual suspects: crushing guilt, nosy neighbors, and lots and lots of death threats.

3 Tenets of Social Justice Dogma that are Getting in Our Way

A list of ways we’re doing social justice that might be undoing social justice.

Excommunicate Me from the Church of Social Justice

By Frances Lee, and not about “Social Justice Dogma” in name, but identifying many of the same trends, and the parallels between social justice and evangelical Christianity, and the potential harmful byproducts of them.

The Problem with Wokeness

A video featuring Ayishat Akanbi, and also not about “Social Justice Dogma” in name, but answering the question “Has wokeness replaced compassion with moral superiority?” (Transcript available on YouTube)

Social Justice Dogma and the Problem with “If X, then Y”

By Kai Niezgoda, an article identifying a tenet of SJD that allows us to do math that says if someone does one thing (or doesn’t), then they are another. For example, “If you don’t share this post, then you don’t care.”

One Huge Prickly Reason Why Anti-LGBTQ Folks Don’t Change Their Views

Why folks double-down on oppressive beliefs, how we make it harder for them to change, and what we can do differently.

Social Justice Fandom (AKA Creating New Barriers in the Name of Dismantling Others)

Are you a fan of social justice fans?

The Social Justice Power Inverse

An aspect of holding dual citizenship in society-at-large and the microsociety of social justice.

Replacing One Binary with Another

How the social justice movement has ended up on both sides of the same argument: for and against nuance.

How much injustice can we justify on the path toward social justice?

Ask yourself if what you’re doing now fits into the world you’re trying to create

Maybe we should stop using “White supremacist” and “bad” interchangeably?

This trend also includes “patriarchal” and lots of other oppression-related jargon.

👋 Hey! This is part of a book that I (publicly!) wrote all throughout January about Social Justice, Minus Dogma. Do you want to join the list to get an email when it's coming out?

How do I sign up?

Bonus: You'll get a .PDF of select chapters (over 100 pages 👀) of the work-in-progress book as soon as you sign up 📩

What do you think? 🤔

I opened up replies on this post because I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm @Killermann on Twitter if you'd rather talk there.