Thinking Critically About Social Justice: A List of Resources
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kier here is a free digital newsletter sent out every Friday at noon PST.
Last week’s newsletter—Why I Left Social Justice—asked you, dear readers, whether you’d be interested in resources for finding your way after leaving the SJW subculture. Today’s resource list is the first of several newsletters that will be based on the excellent suggestions you sent me. My inbox is always open for more: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This probably goes without saying but just to be clear: I have complex opinions on a number of the titles listed below. For me, part of recovering from social justice culture is reading outside of my own bubble, and being able to see a writer as a complicated human who I can learn from, even if I find myself disagreeing with components of their work.
Thinking Critically About Social Justice
Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, by Paul Bloom
Black Feminism Reimagined: After Intersectionality, by Jennifer C. Nash
The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
Conflict is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair by Sarah Schulman
Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else), by Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò
Give Them an Argument: Logic for the Left, by Ben Burgis
Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right, by Angela Nagle
The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity, by Kwame Anthony Appiah
Mistaken Identity: Mass Movements and Racial Ideology, by Asad Haider
The Panthers Can’t Save Us Now: Debating Left Politics and Black Lives Matter, by Cedric Johnson
The People’s Republic of Walmart: How the World’s Biggest Corporations are Laying the Foundation for Socialism, by Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski
Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills, by Jesse Singal
Racecraft: The Soul of Inequality in American Life, by Barbara J. Fields and Karen E. Fields
Race Experts: How Racial Etiquette, Sensitivity Training and New Age Therapy Highjacked the Civil Rights Revolution, by Elisabeth Lasch-Quinn
The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality, by Bhaskar Sunkara
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson
Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, by Tara Isabella Burton
Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman
Toward Freedom: The Case Against Race Reductionism, by Touré F. Reed
What White People Can Do Next: From Allyship to Coalition, by Emma Dabiri
Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, by Anand Giridharadas
Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America, by John McWhorter
Essays & Articles
Advice Column Response, by Kai Cheng Thom
Anatomy of a Cancellation, by David Rovics
Cancel Culture sucks, but Big Tech sucks more, by Molly Frances
The Cost of Call-Out Culture, by Andrea Gibson
Exiting the Vampire Castle, by Mark Fisher
Feminism Without Identitarianism, by Clementine Morrigan
illegal thoughts volume 1, by gem
Misinformation is Here To Stay (And That’s OK), by Isaac Saul
Nothing Changes if Nothing Changes, by Jay LeSoleil
An open letter: why I’m leaving the cult of wokeness, by Africa Brooke
Planet of Cops, by Freddie deBoer
Power Under Abuse, by Poplar Rose
The Sobering Lessons Behind the Death of Porn Star August Ames, by Graham Isador
This Is a Bully’s Language, by Marcel Slimjim
Trashing: The Dark Side of Sisterhood (1976), by Jo Freeman
Understanding ‘accountability abuse’, by Tada Hozumi
Using force to create any social change will never work, by Natasha Coulis
How to Think Like a Vietnamese Communist: An Intro to Dialectical Materialism, by Luna Oi
Log the Fuck Off, with Amber Frost, Matt Christman, and Ben Fong
The Problem with Wokeness, with Ayishat Akanbi
This is How I ESCAPED The Cult Of WOKENESS, by Kimi Katiti
Conspirituality: a weekly study of converging right-wing conspiracy theories and faux-progressive wellness utopianism.
Fucking Cancelled: a podcast for leftists who dream of a left grounded in solidarity, freedom, and responsibility, rather than coercion, authoritarianism, and punishment.
The Good Fight with Yascha Mounk: the podcast that searches for the ideas, policies and strategies that can beat authoritarian populism.
Out of the Woods: a podcast for stories about not-quite-cults but not-quite-not-cults.
Accountability, Exile and Social Media, by Diana Heather Pearson
Ledger of Harms, by the Center for Humane Technology
The Tendency for Interpersonal Victimhood: The Personality Construct and its Consequences by Rahav Gabay, Boaz Hameiri, Tammy Rubel Lifschitz, and Arie Nadler
The Traumatic Impact of Media Humiliation, Misrepresentation and Victim-Shaming on Narrative Identity and Well-Being, by Dr. Christine Marie Katas
If you’re craving that sweet ‘n’ spicy snark
StupidPol: A Subreddit for Marxist Critique of Essentialism
Special mention: if there’s one project in particular that has renewed my hope for a humane, pragmatic and resurgent left, it’s Jacobin.
Between their magazine, their YouTube channel and their podcast, they’ve created such a wealth of material that, rather than recommending specific articles or videos, I suggest you browse through and dive into whatever jumps out at you. Their network of thinkers and organizers will lead you to all sorts of interesting and unexpected places.
Thanks for reading! This resource list is a living document—feel free to share what you make of my recommendations, as well as what you think is missing:
As a courtesy to everyone involved, please take in an essay, video or episode in full before commenting so our discussions can be fruitful and informed. I will do the same.
Kier Here finally cracked and joined social media! You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and in various gardens, libraries and living rooms sprinkled around the Salish Sea.
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I meant to add this recommendation ages ago, but I highly recommend the book "I Hope We Choose Love: A Trans Girl’s Notes from the End of the World" by Kai Cheng Thom.
As someone who's gotten minor celebrity status in queer communities in so called canada, Kai's book describes amongst many topics, issues that have plagued activist/social justice/queer communities in the pre-covid era such as the dogmatic social behaviour and hypervigilance associated with certain in-groups. She writes from a nurturing, nuanced, and understanding perspective, while shedding light on some of these social phenomenons and the consequences she has experienced and witnessed as a trans woman of colour.
From a blurb: "In a heartbreaking yet hopeful collection of personal essays and prose poems, blending the confessional, political, and literary, acclaimed poet and essayist Kai Cheng Thom dives deep into the questions that haunt social movements today. [...] I Hope We Choose Love proposes heartfelt solutions on the topics of violence, complicity, family, vengeance, and forgiveness. Taking its cues from contemporary thought leaders in the transformative justice movement such as adrienne maree brown and Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, this provocative book is a call for nuance in a time of political polarization, for healing in a time of justice, and for love in an apocalypse. "
You have so many good books on this list! And so many I haven’t read as well