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"Tell people something they know already and they will thank you for it. Tell them something new and they will hate you for it."
- George Monbiot's blog motto

I recently wrote in defence of protesting against diffuse, complex, faceless social issues. (I concluded that, yes, it's silly, but so's everything else.) We are subjecting activism to a lot of sneering and scepticism of late.

And so we should. Anything this vulnerable to tokenism and ignorant "Yeah! What she said!" posture deserves the scrutiny. What about delusory, guilt-displacing, one-click "slacktivism"? What good does raising consciousness do against:

In particular, a friend recently demanded an answer about those petitions decrying corrective rape. I'm the philosophy type - honour-bound to know exactly why I think everything that I think - so I should be able to tell her why they matter.

  • Answer #1 is just that giving a shit is important.

  • #2: Something like: "entry into discourse is a necessary condition for progress" (if not actually progress itself). This is the old admitting that there's a problem is half the battle, where we're forcing the admission. This stems from the originally Marxist idea of "false consciousness", and has that idea's attendent problems -

"they control you so effectively, you don't even know you're oppressed!"

  • #3; Some things actually can be solved just by understanding them better, like gender roles and other neuroses. (This symbolic repression is obviously highly secondary in the homophobic-rape scenario, but it happens because of brutal socialized ideas certain people have about lesbians. Giving the women shotguns would be a treatment of a symptom.)

  • Answer #4 is pessimistic psychology: some people need to be Righteous in public, others just get a kick out of it. The social validation of one's beliefs (or frottage).

  • Answer #4.1 is optimistic about that pessimism, saying that, in a world blind and hostile, righteousness is a good way to keep yourselves going.

It might well reduce down to what you think of the proposition
"I believe that ideas are powerful".


"However, any activism that uncritically accepts the marketisation of social change must be rejected. Digital activism is a danger to the left. Its ineffectual marketing campaigns spread political cynicism and draw attention away from genuinely radical movements. Political passivity is the end result of replacing salient political critique with the logic of advertising."
- Micah White

This tastes wrong.


Even if you're not convinced (and it's not a strong case), don't go thinking that all remote support is useless.