Sad Radicals

Want to know what Westboro Baptist Church would look like without an explicitly religious ideology?

  • Radicalism is like a clan too suspicious of outsiders to abandon cousin marriage, and, like incestuous offspring, radicalism’s intellectual offspring accumulate genetic load. Narrow theories must perform increasingly convoluted explanations of the world …
  • No worldview maps reality perfectly. But when a worldview encounters discordant knowledge, it can either evolve to accommodate it, or it can treat it as a threat to the worldview’s integrity. If a worldview treats all discordant knowledge as threat, then it is an ideology. Its adherents learn to see themselves as guardians rather than seekers of the truth …
  • To see every interaction as containing hidden violence is to become a permanent victim, because if all you are is a nail, everything looks like a hammer.
  • The paradigm of suspicion leaves the radical exhausted and misanthropic, because any action or statement can be shown with sufficient effort to hide privilege, a microaggression, or unconscious bias … “we can never allow ourselves to think that we are ‘done,’ that we have identified all of the sites, structures, and processes of oppression ‘out there’ or ‘in here,’ inside our own individual and group identities.” Infinite responsibility means infinite guilt … All that the activist can offer to absolve herself is Sisyphean effort until burnout.
  • Escape from the paradigm of suspicion is hindered by kafkatrapping: the idea that opposition to the radical viewpoint proves the radical viewpoint. Minorities who question it have internalized their oppression, and privileged individuals who question it prove their guilt.
  • If an individual wants to end suffering, she should think hard about why she’s joined communities that glamorize violence, vengeance, and anti-intellectualism. Having left that scene, I am amazed at how much effort we put into making the world a more painful and difficult place than it is in service of a post-revolutionary utopia.

Conor Barnes, Sad Radicals, Quillette. Barnes apostatized from a community like this: “passionately, sincerely, radically woke.”

Reader John @ReaderJohn
My main blog is the Tipsy Teetotaler,