Let’s be perfectly clear


I field a fair number of requests about joining Freethoughtblogs — usually, I just tell them the the procedure is spelled out right here. This time, though, I got an easily answered query.

Chased him right off with a friendly one-word answer, I did.

Comments

  1. Bruce Fuentes says

    Do you think he hadn’t followed many of the blogs here? I guess he had read enough to notice that that is a recurring theme, but it seems odd that someone would want to join a group that they do not fit into. People are weird.

  2. Rob Bos says

    I imagine a social justice wizard or druid might also be helpful to round out the party.

  3. says

    We do allow for a little latitude in the specifics. I, for instance, am a social justice necromancer. We all get along fine.

  4. JoeBuddha says

    I’m an SJW wannabe which is why I don’t blog here. If I ever gain that status, I’ll send in my app.

  5. PaulBC says

    Seriously, I think it should be possible not to identify as a warrior and still be welcome if you have a strong interest in social justice. I don’t consider myself a warrior (except when I’m shooting at the walls of heartache, bang, bang). I prefer non-violent solutions.

    I would question the motives of anyone who uses the phrase “social justice warrior.” It’s like someone showing up at the science fiction club meeting asking “Do I have be a big nerdy weirdo to join this group?” Well, maybe not, but I bet we don’t really want you based on that question and you probably wouldn’t like us much either.

  6. kathleenzielinski says

    As with “cultural Marxism”, “social justice warrior” is not a well defined term, and anyone who uses it is a sloppy thinker who doesn’t write or speak well. Which is probably enough reason not to offer him (of course it’s a him) a blog all by itself.

  7. says

    I tried to answer a question in the backchannel but the reply buttons seem to have disappeared after an update.

    My experience of “sjw” as it appeared was to deal with it as the label it was, make the people using it justify the accusation that a particular means of social justice was iligitimate (that seemed to be the most charitable assumption that I rhetorically offered). In addition to that I jumped on the band-wagon with the reference to the Hellraiser movies to mock the supposed term.

    I think that the term was useful because “warrior” is very vague and one can fight for social justice for good and bad reasons. Almost no one even tries to justify the “term” and those who have boil down to “social justice I don’t like”, or tone complaints. The rest falls under behavior that “sjws” already don’t like, like abusive comments among harsh and valid criticism.

  8. says

    That should say “… with good and bad means…” instead of “… “…for good and bad reasons… ” in my #8.
    Though there’s bound to be stuff with reasons too. Maybe “WOKE” will do some of that.

  9. Rich Woods says

    @kathleenzielinski #6:

    As with “cultural Marxism”, “social justice warrior” is not a well defined term

    ‘Cultural Marxism’ is an extremely well-defined term: it was made up purely to mislead and to denigrate. Whenever you hear it used with approbation you can safely class the speaker as a small-minded reactionary.

  10. says

    All SJWs know that the warrior part of the term is a joke. We also know that the term was invented as an insult by people who thought Social Justice was a horrible idea.

    All it really means is, “are you forthrightly in favor of social justice?” Everyone here is.

  11. birgerjohansson says

    I am a social justice Gollum. I inadvertently do some good sometimes. Like, I might run over Boris Johnson with a car when drunk.

  12. consciousness razor says

    All it really means is, “are you forthrightly in favor of social justice?” Everyone here is.

    It seems like you think this settles it. But what’s that about? The term has been used in a wide variety of different ways over the centuries, so it’s not nailing down anything when you say you’re in favor of that.

    Also, it’s extremely common for people to merely say that they’re “in favor of” something (in the abstract), yet have little or no interest in actually doing something to advance the thing they ostensibly favor (whatever it may be). Indeed, they may still act against it. Even if they’re very “forthright” — perhaps verging on “theatrical” and maybe especially when this is the case — real progress can be derailed when the only genuine requirement is that a person needs to speak the right magic words at appropriate/convenient times, in order to be thought of as one of the good ones, on the same team, and so forth. So, shouldn’t you be unsatisfied without a whole lot more?

    Putting all of that to the side, the apparent redundancy in the term itself is a bit mysterious…. What could it mean for there to be a non-social kind of justice? If there is no such thing, what exactly is “social justice” supposed to indicate that “justice” doesn’t?

  13. consciousness razor says

    Putting all of that to the side, the apparent redundancy in the term itself is a bit mysterious….

    I mean, I understand that it’s not “divine justice” or “cosmic justice” or what have you. But it’s not clear why we’d be taking those sorts of things seriously anyway.

  14. John Morales says

    cr:

    The term has been used in a wide variety of different ways over the centuries, so it’s not nailing down anything when you say you’re in favor of that.

    There’s a link at the top bar here: “About FTB”, where you can read
    “About Freethoughtblogs

    Freethoughtblogs is an open platform for freethought writers. We are skeptics and critics of dogma and authoritarianism, and in addition, we recognize that the nonexistence of deities entails a greater commitment to human values, and in particular, an appreciation of human diversity and equality.

    We are for feminism, against racism, for diversity, against inequity. Our network of blogs is designed to encourage independent thinking and individual autonomy — freethoughtblogs.com is a vehicle for giving vocal secularists a venue for discussion of their values and interests.

    […]

    We demand that our contributors are in favor of social justice causes. If you’re not for feminism, or racial equality, or trans rights, you are going to clash with our values and won’t last long here.”

    I put it to you that, were you to include that datum to what you quoted from PZ, you’d realise that there are specified criteria. So, not all that vague.

  15. consciousness razor says

    John Morales:

    I put it to you that, were you to include that datum to what you quoted from PZ, you’d realise that there are specified criteria. So, not all that vague.

    But if you consider the wiki link I posted in #15, in order to get some sense of what the broader population thinks about it, it’s definitely not limited to being “for feminism, or racial equality, or trans rights.”

    I submit to you that the wiki article (whatever its inadequacies) gives us a better handle on how people in general think about it than does the “about” page for a small blogging network, which of course is seldom read and hasn’t been through a long process of dispute, deliberation, research, etc. by lots of different people.

  16. John Morales says

    cr, but it’s not about people in general, is it?

    It’s about the featured questioner and readers of this blog — all of whom have access to that “about” page.

    (I mean, it’s pretty obvious the featured question is disingenous, since a look at that page would have elucidated matters)

  17. William George says

    I bet a buck that within 24 hours they were contacting Ben Shapiro or some other shitbag right-winger with a media platform to complain about the intolerance of the left.

  18. PaulBC says

    Hey, would Winston Churchill count as a social justice warrior? Unlike myself, he would probably be comfortable with the “warrior” part. And here he is eulogizing Franklin Roosevelt:

    But all this was no more than worldly power and grandeur, had it not been that the causes of human freedom and of social justice to which so much of his life had been given, added a lustre to all this power and pomp and warlike might, a lustre which will long be discernible among men.

    I hadn’t seen this before but it came up in my web travels just now.

    Phrases change meaning over time, but I don’t think this is too far off from the current meaning of “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society” (supplied by Google) (i.e. as opposed to criminal justice, which while “social” in some sense is not covered by the term as normally used).

    Whether or not one himself, Churchill is at the very least praising FDR for being a social justice warrior. I would say that SJWs are in illustrious company even by pre-woke standards. That it’s now a term of derision says a lot about current society. Actually caring about the good of society is considered contemptible in some circles, which apparently it wasn’t as recently in 1945 and by as conservative a figure as Churchill.

  19. Bruce says

    PZ, it must be a heavy burden for you to be controlling all the internets in your spare time. At least, I think that guy assumes you do, or why would he think asking you was the best or only way to get a blog? Apparently, there are no non-SJW spaces. All bow before the terrible power of our overlord.

  20. hemidactylus says

    In a way cultural Marxism indicates something, but not very well. Original Critical Theory focused heavily on superstructure, especially media, in how Western Marxism went bust and failed to generate much enthusiasm for doing the revolution thingy amongst the Proles. So their ideological focus was on culture more than base (fancy Marxist terms), BUT they weren’t entirely smitten with Marxist views. They branched out to other ways of thinking and interpretations Marx lacked at the time. Many used ideas, especially concerning instrumental reason, that Max Weber had developed. They had their own way of putting us into that “iron cage” where people become things and things supersede and control us. They also utilized some of Freud’s works. They kinda start off with Marx but branch away in their own ways. Habermas is one of the most branched off of the lot. He incorporated developmental psychology stage ideas from Piaget and Kohlberg and was influenced by people he initially clashed with (eg- Popper). He lacked the pessimism of Adorno and Horkheimer who tended to disdain popular culture for its programming effect on passive recipients. He allowed for similar influence in a more constrained manner (money and power colonize the lifeworld) and idealized language and communication as a means for intersubjective understanding and consensus, hence we proles are far less passive than assumed. Other Critical Theorists aren’t as sanguine as Habermas. But superficially they all reflect on cultural factors more than economic, look to Marx as a forerunner, but are critical even of him, so…

    Postmodernism is distinct. Where Critical Theory emerged in a German milieu pomos were mostly French and had different proximal influences (Saussure, Lacan, Lévi-Strauss…). They may share distal background influences, such as Marx, Nietzsche, or even Weber, but their trajectories are different. Habermas famously critiqued Derrida and Foucault as suffering some form of performative contradiction which is a typical response to pomo gone wild.

    Yet reading Wendy Brown’s Undoing the Demos gives me an appreciation for Foucault’s “bipolitics” in that he seems to have converged upon a Weberian critique of instrumental reason as applied to the emergence of neoliberalism on the world scene. I thought I had read somewhere Foucault was kinda ignorant of German Critical Theory at least in his early years. Foucault focused on cultural, historic, and genealogical notions, but was he predominately Marxist? Marxism is too overarching an ideology for pomo in general no?

  21. PaulBC says

    John Morales@22 Well, my point was that Churchill would probably not have considered it a term of derision. I hope nothing in my comment suggested that I am a big Churchill fan (I do admire FDR though there’s plenty to criticize there too).

    So I find it very odd that people sniff about “social justice” like it is this new thing invented to annoy them, when it’s a term with a long history and even racists like Churchill had no problem using it, though clearly they may have set the scope differently than today.

  22. PaulBC says

    SC@24 Yes, I know. I must have phrased my comment very badly, because this is besides the point.

    My point was that even a racist like Churchill had no problem referring to social justice as an equivocally good thing. I also imagine that plenty of people who accuse others of being “SJWs” would express their deep admiration for Churchill.

  23. PaulBC says

    Sorry for th triple post, I admit since I just woke up I’m a little peeved here. In @21, maybe I should have written:

    Hey, would Winston Churchill count as a social justice warrior? ;) ;) ;)

    and I would have been spared the serious responses. I would think that a comment that ends “as conservative a figure as Churchill” would already suggest that I had answered my own question in the negative.

    But maybe not. I have no idea. I suppose it is sort of tough to communicate with people you don’t really know and without the benefit of voice and facial expression.

  24. PaulBC says

    And (no smileys) in 1945, the most conservative elements of Western society were proclaiming themselves unabashedly anti-fascist and in favor of social justice. (In the 1930s, Life magazine was praising fascism–at least in Italy–as the best thing since sliced bread, so times can change pretty fast.)

    As I said already, words change their meaning, and whereas I would consider the Civil Rights movement, the Stonewall riots, or the Berrigans’ anti-nuclear activism to be events moving in the direction of greater social justice, one assumes that Churchill would disagree vehemently (he is on record as no fan of Niels Bohr’s attempt to avert nuclear arms proliferation).

    But he did use the term, and his intent was essentially the same. It really comes down to other assumptions about what is equitable. I still find this a useful quote that to bring up the next time I hear SJW used derisively. Maybe I’m just bringing it up in a place where it’s superfluous.

  25. says

    PaulBC, your question and comment were rife with equivocation, and you outright said “Whether or not one himself, Churchill is at the very least praising FDR for being a social justice warrior.” Rather than thanking people for providing relevant information about Churchill’s attitudes on social justice issues, you retreat to some muddled position in which you were entirely joking. Honestly, you seem very fond of hearing yourself opine on every issue whatever the limitations of your knowledge. I think it’s unlikely you knew about what John and I posted at the time you commented, and I doubt that if you had known you would have written it.

    hemidactylus @ #28:

    Wasn’t Churchill part of Antifa? ;) ;) ;)

    So just for the record – from my link @ #24:

    Churchill is on record as praising “Aryan stock” and insisting it was right for “a stronger race, a higher-grade race” to take the place of indigenous peoples. He reportedly did not think “black people were as capable or as efficient as white people”. In 1911, Churchill banned interracial boxing matches so white fighters would not be seen losing to black ones. He insisted that Britain and the US shared “Anglo-Saxon superiority”. He described anticolonial campaigners as “savages armed with ideas”.

    Even his contemporaries found his views on race shocking. In the context of Churchill’s hard line against providing famine relief to Bengal, the colonial secretary, Leo Amery, remarked: “On the subject of India, Winston is not quite sane … I didn’t see much difference between his outlook and Hitler’s.”

    Just because Hitler was a racist does not mean Churchill could not have been one. Britain entered the war, after all, because it faced an existential threat – and not primarily because it disagreed with Nazi ideology. Noting affinities between colonial and Nazi race-thinking, African and Asian leaders queried Churchill’s double standards in firmly rejecting self-determination for colonial subjects who were also fighting Hitler.

    Many anti-fascists in this era were also “SJWs.” Churchill was not.

  26. KG says

    Churchill and fascsm. I wouldn’t trust everything this source says, but AFAIK it’s completely accurate in this case. Churchill didn’t oppose Hitler because Hitler was a fascist, but because he (rightly) considered him a threat to the British Empire.

  27. says

    The description of social justice provided in the network description quoted by John Morales @ #17 is both the relevant one here and I think broadly the accepted one:

    -are skeptics and critics of dogma and authoritarianism
    -have an appreciation of human diversity and equality
    -are for feminism, against racism, for diversity, against inequity
    -are in favor of social justice causes: feminism, racial equality, trans rights,…

    There’s much that can be added to this, but these are the bare bones.

  28. says

    From KG’s link @ #34:

    In an article published in the Evening Standard in January, 1934, he declared that with the advent of universal suffrage the political and social class to which he belonged was losing its control over affairs and “a universal suffrage electorate with a majority of women voters” would be unable to preserve the British form of government. His solution was to go back to the nineteenth-century system of plural voting – those he deemed suitable would be given extra votes in order to outweigh the influence of women and the working class and produce the answer he wanted at General Elections.

    Sounds familiar.

    Winston Churchill also supported General Francisco Franco and his Fascist forces during the Spanish Civil War. He described the democratically elected Republican government as “a poverty stricken and backward proletariat demanding the overthrow of Church, State and property and the inauguration of a Communist regime.” Against them stood the “patriotic, religious and bourgeois forces, under the leadership of the army, and sustained by the countryside in many provinces… marching to re-establish order by setting up a military dictatorship.” (33)

    BBC coverage was pretty pro-Franco during this era as well.

  29. PaulBC says

    SC@33 Look, I cannot change whatever impression you have of me and the subtext it adds to my posts. I will weakly protest that you probably have me pegged wrong and might have a different perception if you knew me better. Again, it’s weak and unsupported, but that’s I have.

    Rather than thanking people for providing relevant information about Churchill’s attitudes on social justice issues, you retreat to some muddled position in which you were entirely joking.

    Why should I thank you or John Morales? I knew Churchill was a racist already.

    I was not “entirely” joking, but the rhetorical question was intended facetiously. And yeah, you don’t have to believe this. I gave some textual evidence, but you can discount that as weasel words and that is a fair assessment.

    You don’t like my use of language, muddled and rife with equivocation, and perhaps you don’t like me, or what you perceive of me from these conversations. I dislike myself for getting into protracted arguments, though you don’t have to believe that either. It’s a compulsion and takes some discipline to pull away from.

    My hunch is that you would give other people the benefit of the doubt, if they had written the exact same words, or at least qualified it with “Maybe you are trying to make a joke here, but…”

    I would like to say honestly I don’t care, but I wouldn’t be writing this if I really didn’t care at all. Consider that an aspirational statement. I shouldn’t care.

    FWIW, I find your writing interesting and usually agree with your conclusion. You don’t have to like me or my writing. If PZ wishes to admonish me for irrelevance or verbosity, I will accept that.

  30. PaulBC says

    Honestly, you seem very fond of hearing yourself opine on every issue whatever the limitations of your knowledge.

    And this is exceptional? Yes, I like thinking about things and writing my thoughts. It’s always nice when the thinking aligns with things I know about (and there are some). Note: I am not being compensated in any way, make an effort not to insult others in the process, and can be skipped as fast as you can scroll past by whatever means available.

    I think it’s unlikely you knew about what John and I posted at the time you commented, and I doubt that if you had known you would have written it.

    Yes and no. I did not know the specifics you cite such as “Churchill is on record as praising “Aryan stock” and insisting it was right for “a stronger race, a higher-grade race” to take the place of indigenous peoples.” If someone had asked me was Churchill as racist, I would have said “probably”.

    My main ax to grind against Churchill is his shameful treatment of Niels Bohr, and thus his direct contribution to the nuclear proliferation of the Cold War. And I have read about that in some depth, though it was years ago. Needless to say, I’m not a fan.

    I still would have written the same post, because my point was that it’s ironic to see those words “social justice” used by Churchill.

  31. PaulBC says

    me@38

    “a stronger race, a higher-grade race” to take the place of indigenous peoples.”

    On second thought, I may have read these exact words at some point attributed to Churchill. In all honesty, this does not come as a surprise.

  32. says

    PaulBC @ #37:

    SC@33 Look, I cannot change whatever impression you have of me and the subtext it adds to my posts. I will weakly protest that you probably have me pegged wrong and might have a different perception if you knew me better. Again, it’s weak and unsupported, but that’s I have.

    I (and I assume John, too) was quoting the initial question, but responding to the entirety of your comment. If you knew Churchill was a racist, then it makes no sense to suggest that he was praising Roosevelt in that vague snippet for advocating social justice in the way it’s generally understood (which fundamentally includes anti-racism, along with several other positions Churchill opposed).

    I’m not going to engage in a discussion about you, your opinions of you, my opinions of you as presumed by you, your opinions of my presumed opinions of you,…

    FWIW, I find your writing interesting and usually agree with your conclusion.

    Thanks. Kind of you to say.

  33. PaulBC says

    SC@40

    If you knew Churchill was a racist, then it makes no sense to suggest that he was praising Roosevelt in that vague snippet for advocating social justice in the way it’s generally understood (which fundamentally includes anti-racism, along with several other positions Churchill opposed).

    Fair enough. I assume Churchill meant something specific by it. My guess would be FDR’s anti-poverty programs.

    My understanding of “social justice” is probably woefully behind the times and I kid myself to cling to my initial understanding. It is more or less fixed when I first heard it used in the late-70s, early-80s in a Catholic context (encompassing the equitable distribution of wealth, but also equitable treatment in racial terms). This would limit it, but I see its nature as expanding rather than changing.

    This is the main reason I take strong personal offense at “SJW” being used as a term of derision.

    I still think it is ironic at least at a word-game level to see those two words come from such a surprising source. Sorry, maybe I am the only one who laughs at my own jokes (but it does make me a pretty cheap date; even a cat needs a ball of yarn to stay amused).

  34. birgerjohansson says

    Anyone who knows anything about Churchills views on India knows he was a fucking racist.
    And he at first thought Hitler might be tolerable, if he just toned down the thing about Jews (putting other people in camps was apparently OK).
    There were even talks in the 1930s of him meeting Adolph face to face, but it got called off when it was obvious he would not budge about hating on the jews.
    Mussolini did not have a jewish thing. If he had been smart and stayed clear of the nazis, he might have lived on just like Francisco Franco.

  35. PaulBC says

    birgerjohansson@42

    Anyone who knows anything about Churchills views on India knows he was a fucking racist.

    True. And though I’m now well past protesting too much, I honestly did think that any suggestion of Churchill as “social justice warrior” was ludicrous enough at face value not to require a serious correction and admonishment that I educate myself.

    To be completely upfront, I was looking up a definition of “social justice” to address CR’s comment about the “apparent redundancy” and then thought, oh, that’s funny how Churchill used it in 1945.

    Basically, my comment might have been more to the point if it had been like Beavis and Butthead

    Huh huh… Churchill said ‘social justice’

    because that’s the level at which it amused me and I am sorry I dressed it up in, what was that? Muddled equivocation. I call it nuance. Sigh. No, whatever. I suck. Sometimes I bore myself too.

    It’s interesting nobody took me up on FDR. I do admire him, and not Churchill, but, no obviously he was not a “social justice warrior” in any reasonable sense. Notoriously, he approved the internment camps for Japanese Americans, and I’m sure that only scratches the surface. Still, the New Deal did a lot of good, and he presided over a war not only about justice but survival. Mixed bag. No, not a social justice warrior.

  36. consciousness razor says

    John Morales:

    cr, but it’s not about people in general, is it?

    Why wouldn’t it be? I wasn’t under the impression that all we had to do was say something in response to the disingenuous “featured questioner,” in a language that maybe only some here will understand.

  37. says

    PaulBC @ #21:

    Hey, would Winston Churchill count as a social justice warrior? Unlike myself, he would probably be comfortable with the “warrior” part. And here he is eulogizing Franklin Roosevelt:…

    Phrases change meaning over time, but I don’t think this is too far off from the current meaning of “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society”…

    Whether or not one himself, Churchill is at the very least praising FDR for being a social justice warrior. I would say that SJWs are in illustrious company even by pre-woke standards.

    That it’s now a term of derision says a lot about current society. Actually caring about the good of society is considered contemptible in some circles, which apparently it wasn’t as recently in 1945 and by as conservative a figure as Churchill.

    PaulBC @ #32:

    But he did use the term, and his intent was essentially the same. It really comes down to other assumptions about what is equitable.

    PaulBC @ #37:

    I was not “entirely” joking, but the rhetorical question was intended facetiously.

    PaulBC @ #38:

    my point was that it’s ironic to see those words “social justice” used by Churchill.

    PaulBC @ #43:

    I honestly did think that any suggestion of Churchill as “social justice warrior” was ludicrous enough at face value not to require a serious correction and admonishment that I educate myself.

    Basically, my comment might have been more to the point if it had been like Beavis and Butthead “Huh huh… Churchill said ‘social justice’”…

    FDR…No, not a social justice warrior.

    Enough already. It was a stupid fucking comment. This is at the heart of the problem:

    John Morales@22 Well, my point was that Churchill would probably not have considered it a term of derision.

    It’s evident that Churchill didn’t support anything meaningfully related to what we (and our opponents) mean by social justice, so the fact that he used the two words together on one occasion and you found it in a Google search bears no relation to the contemporary discussion – ironic, amusing, useful, or otherwise.

  38. says

    birgerjohansson @ #42:

    Anyone who knows anything about Churchills views on India knows he was a fucking racist.

    From my link @ #24 (the article was published in the Guardian last week):

    Scholars who explore less illustrious sides of Churchill are treated dismissively. Take the example of Churchill College, Cambridge, where I am a teaching fellow. In response to calls for fuller information about its founder, the college set up a series of events on Churchill, Empire and Race. I recently chaired the second of these, a panel discussion on “The Racial Consequences of Mr Churchill”.

    Even before it took place, the discussion was repeatedly denounced in the tabloids and on social media as “idiotic”, a “character assassination” aimed at “trashing” the great man. Outraged letters to the college said this was academic freedom gone too far, and that the event should be cancelled. The speakers and I, all scholars and people of colour, were subjected to vicious hate mail, racist slurs and threats. We were accused of treason and slander. One correspondent warned that my name was being forwarded to the commanding officer of an RAF base near my home.

    The college is now under heavy pressure to stop doing these events. After the recent panel, the rightwing thinktank Policy Exchange, which is influential in government circles – and claims to champion free speech and controversial views on campus – published a “review” of the event. The foreword, written by Churchill’s grandson Nicholas Soames, stated that he hoped the review would “prevent such an intellectually dishonest event from being organised at Churchill College in the future – and, one might hope, elsewhere”.

    It’s ironic. We’re told by government and media that “cancel culture” is an imposition of the academic left. Yet here it is in reality, the actual “cancel culture” that prevents a truthful engagement with British history….

  39. Tethys says

    Remember when Thunderfoot blogged here for a few days and managed to piss off everybody by attacking SJW’s?

    Several commenters responded by adding social justice _____ to their ‘nym.

    I myself was a social justice calmar garou, with the were squid title already a troll gift from a slymepit French dude.

    It feels like the flame war went on forever starting with elevator/gamer-gate and escalating into the slymepit schism.
    Those guys were uber-creeps who cyber-stalked many commentors, and
    attempted to dox me for years after I was among the hordelings that were unkind to them for their pro-rape comments.

    Mr pink berries even found me on FB, where he was still a creepy asshole who was summarily blocked before he connected my nym here to my real name on FB.

  40. PaulBC says

    SC@45

    ironic, amusing, useful, or otherwise

    I still find it amusing. This subjective, right?

    Definitely not useful, and yes, clearly annoying to you. That’s not my intent and I’ll keep it in mind for the future but I’m kind of dug in on this one.

    I disagree that there is no meaningful relation. As I said (and yes, it’s one my uniformed opinions) my guess would be that Churchill had something like the New Deal in mind with its anti-poverty emphasis, or maybe he was just trying to say in his pompous way that FDR “had a big heart.” Given the modern definition “justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.” there is a meaningful relation between these notions of social justice and something nice that might be said about FDR, even by someone as appalling as Churchill. They don’t just appear out of the blue.

    meaningfully related to what we (and our opponents) mean by social justice

    Maybe so. It is meaningfully related to what I mean by social justice, and this use was current as recently as 35 years ago.

    It was a stupid fucking comment.

    Sure. It wasn’t one of my best thoughts ever.

  41. says

    PaulBC:

    I disagree that there is no meaningful relation. As I said (and yes, it’s one my uniformed opinions) my guess would be…

    But you have no idea what he meant in this context, and as KG’s link @ #34 shows, he was an active fascist sympathizer in the years Roosevelt was enacting the New Deal. It’s an irrelevant quote out of context.

    Sure. It wasn’t one of my best thoughts ever.

    Agreed. ;)

  42. says

    One of the people they analyze on the Decoding the Gurus podcast (one of the Weinstein brothers, I believe) referred to himself as a “conspiracy hypothesizer,” and now some of their Patreon supporters are dubbed “Conspiracy Hypothesizers.”

  43. Rob Grigjanis says

    KG @34:

    I wouldn’t trust everything this source says, but AFAIK it’s completely accurate in this case.

    I wouldn’t trust anything that source says, and if that’s the best reference you can find, your ‘AFAIK’ ain’t worth shit.

    Southern Poverty Law Center;

    The authors repeatedly cite a website, http://www.spartacus-educational.com, run by British history teacher John Simkin, as authoritative. But in fact the site simply reproduces a host of conspiracy theories that first appeared elsewhere.

    There’s plenty to hate about Churchill, but this smacks of “someone said something bad about him, so I’ll take it at face value”.

  44. says

    Rob Grigjanis, there are also the links @ #22 and #24 with their numerous quotes and sources. Here are a handful of quotes from a standard Mussolini biography (Mussolini: A Biography by Jasper Ridley, 1997):

    Churchill giving a press conference in Rome in 1927:

    He said that he had been charmed, like so many other people, by Mussolini’s ‘gentle and and simple bearing and by his calm, detached poise in spite of so many burdens and dangers’. He told the Fascists: ‘If I had been an Italian, I am sure I should have been wholeheartedly with you from start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism’. Churchill said that in foreign affairs the Fascist movement ‘has rendered service to the whole world’. Italy ‘has shown that there is a way of fighting the subversive forces… She has provided the necessary antidote to the Russian poison’.

    Churchill’s statement was warmly welcomed by the Fascist press in Italy….

    In January 1933, a few days before Hitler came to power, the Union at Oxford University passed a pacifist resolution:

    Churchill…called it a ‘disquieting and disgusting symptom’ which would arouse the contempt of the ‘splendid clear-eyed youth’ of Germany marching eagerly to join the army, and in ‘Italy with her ardent Fascisti, her renowned Chief, and a stern sense of national duty’. He then went on to praise ‘the Roman genius of Mussolini’, who was ‘the greatest lawgiver among living men’, and a zealous enemy of Communism.

    When the Italians had successfully invaded Ethiopia:

    Churchill suggested [to Alberto Pirelli, President of the Italian Exports Association] that it would be wiser if the Italians agreed to rule Ethiopia through native princes, as the British did in parts of India; but he added that if Mussolini insisted on annexing Ethiopia, he had better do it quickly and confront the League of Nations with a fait accompli.

    In 1937, Mussolini reassured the British that Italian actions in Spain wouldn’t threaten Gibraltar or British shipping routes:

    Churchill was pleased, for he still admired Mussolini. He paid tribute to him, to his great role in world history, and to ‘the amazing qualities of courage, comprehension, self-control and perseverance which he exemplifies’. By establishing Fascism he had defeated the hammer and sickle of Asiatic Communism. ‘Liberty was lost, but Italy was saved’.

    And so on.

  45. Rob Grigjanis says

    SC @53: It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Churchill (and his wife) admired Mussolini. Linking to crappy websites to support that is what I object to.

    I’ve read articles in Answers in Genesis which show a better understanding of physics than a lot of comments I’ve seen on FtB (of course, they go on to either misuse that understanding, or render it irrelevant). But I’m not going to cite AiG to make a point about physics, because there are better sources.

  46. Pierce R. Butler says

    PaulBC @ # 41: … “social justice” … I first heard it used in the late-70s, early-80s in a Catholic context …

    A “Catholic context” involving major ignorance or chutzpah, considering that probably the most widely-circulated US Catholic publication in the 1930s, which regularly endorsed Hitler and his weltanschauung, was a tabloid weekly (with matching radio broadcast and national organization) called … Social Justice.

  47. says

    Rob Grigjanis:

    Linking to crappy websites to support that is what I object to.

    OK, so you accept the historical argument. That wasn’t clear from your previous post.

    From your link:

    The authors [Belzer and Wayne] repeatedly cite a website, [Spartacus Educational], run by British history teacher John Simkin, as authoritative. But in fact the site simply reproduces a host of conspiracy theories that first appeared elsewhere. “It’s very shoddy, not well-sourced,” says Arthur Goldwag, author of Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies and The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right. In fact, many of the books repeatedly cited in footnotes are other conspiracist tracts offering their own speculations — speculations that Belzer and Wayne elevate to ostensible facts by footnoting them as if theirs were an academic thesis.

    It’s hard to tell whether the entire paragraph is supposed to be about Spartacus or if the last two sentences are about the Belzer book. But in any case, I’m not sure what precisely they’re referring to. I assume it’s the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Enclyclopedia, which does appear to have an encyclopedic format. Simkin does seem to have a conspiratorial bent on this subject, but the site as a whole is pretty straightforward.

    To make matters more complicated, the post KG linked to is on the blog, which is a separate section which is more like…a blog. The post cites sources, and they’re biographies (including Churchill’s autobiography), mainstream newspaper articles, speeches, letters,… I just noticed that some of the quotes overlap with the ones I provided @ #53 (which are from a book he doesn’t cite). I’m not sure if you’re suggesting the other citations are fake or misrepresented or what. It would be strange if just those that happen to appear in a book I had at hand are authentic and the rest he provides are fake.

    You could argue that it takes an overly hostile approach here, but given that so much writing about Churchill takes a hagiographical form and that powerful forces are right now working to shut down critical investigation of these topics I’m not too moved by that objection. (This isn’t to say that every bit of evidence and argument in the post should be taken at face value, but that wasn’t what KG was suggesting – just that Churchill admired fascists and shared their racist worldview and that his motives in opposing them were geopolitics and self-defense.)

  48. PaulBC says

    Pierce R. Butler@55 Oh wow. I did not know actually know Father Coughlin used the term. (And yeah, I know about him and his antisemitism though clearly not much.) That does kind of force a re-evaluation. Thanks for the link.

    My data point was a religion class at a Catholic school around 1981 called “Peace and Justice” that was taught from a Catholic textbook called “Faith and Justice” (and I once managed to find a reference to online but it’s not worth the effort now; it’s very obscure and out of print). It was pretty standard Catholic social teaching, e.g on poverty, for its time, and maybe a big fixation of “lifeboat problems” but that might have been a different class. As far as I can tell, Catholics have become a lot more conservative since then and less interested in addressing human suffering. I am not religious now, by the way.

    Now I admit I’m less certain of what “social justice” would mean to anyone hearing it in 1945. (And no, I will not ask if Father Coughlin was a “social justice warrior” though I am sorely tempted.)

  49. Rob Grigjanis says

    SC @57:

    The post cites sources

    I chose an endnote at random ([11]) and it’s a dead end. There may indeed be such a letter Churchill wrote to Clementine, but I don’t think you’ll find the source on that site.

    You could argue that it takes an overly hostile approach here

    I don’t care about hostility. I care about credibility.

  50. PaulBC says

    I will add that now I am very embarrassed because of the Coughlin connection. Yikes.

  51. says

    Rob Grigjanis @ #60:

    I chose an endnote at random ([11]) and it’s a dead end. There may indeed be such a letter Churchill wrote to Clementine, but I don’t think you’ll find the source on that site.

    I said cites, not links to. But the things he can link to, like books, he does, and provides the page number. Again, are you suggesting the letter was invented? The books? The quotes? What?

    (The letter is presumably with the other letters in the Spencer-Churchill Papers in the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge.)

    I mean, enough evidence has been provided to support the points several of us have made, and all you’ve offered are a few sentences from an SPLC article about a completely separate book, which may or may not show something about some part of this site and has nothing to do with this particular post. Since you’ve basically acknowledged the facts about Churchill, I’m fine with leaving it there.

  52. says

    PaulBC @ #59:

    Now I admit I’m less certain of what “social justice” would mean to anyone hearing it in 1945.

    It could have had some referent that was shared in his circles. I think it’s likely that “the causes of human freedom and of social justice” (could as easily have been “the causes of human justice and social freedom”) in context was a lofty phrase meant to claim the meaning of the (still ongoing) war for the Allies and an early anti-Soviet dig.

  53. says

    More from the eulogy:

    In war he had raised the strength, might and glory of the great Republic to a height never attained by any nation in history. With her left hand she was leading the advance of the conquering Allied Armies into the heart of Germany and with her right, on the other side of the globe, she was irresistibly and swiftly breaking up the power of Japan. And all the time ships, munitions, supplies, and food of every kind were aiding on a gigantic scale her Allies, great and small, in the course of the long struggle.

    But all this was no more than worldly power and grandeur, had it not been that the causes of human freedom and of social justice to which so much of his life had been given, added a lustre to all this power and pomp and warlike might, a lustre which will long be discernible among men. He has left behind him a band of resolute and able men handling the numerous interrelated parts of the vast American war machine. He has left a successor who comes forward with firm step and sure conviction to carry on the task to its appointed end. For us. it remains only to say that in Franklin Roosevelt there died the greatest American friend we have ever known and the greatest champion of freedom who has ever brought help and comfort from the new world to the old.

    He was a skilled rhetorician.

  54. PaulBC says

    SC@63 It seems like a strange phrase to use in a eulogy for FDR, considering its connection with Father Coughlin but you’re probably right that there is not that much significance to the specific word choice.

  55. PaulBC says

    SC@64

    He has left a successor who comes forward with firm step and sure conviction to carry on the task to its appointed end.

    I remember reading this last night and thinking he was laying it on pretty thick. Of course, he’d say that about any successor under the circumstances. I have trouble believing he really felt that way about Harry Truman in particular (but I am not a mindreader so who knows?).

  56. KG says

    Rob Grigjanis@52,

    Oddly, I notice you give not a single reference to justify trashing the source I used. Could it be because we are exchanging comments on a blog post, not writing academic papers?

  57. Rob Grigjanis says

    KG @67: The author is a crank. If you want to link to articles by cranks, well, as you say, it’s just a comment on a blog post.

    If the subject comes up, you could also link to his theory on the JFK assassination.

  58. KG says

    Rob Grigjanis@68,
    I looked for links on Churchill and fascism. This was the first that covered a number of the points I already knew about: his admiration for Mussolini (including apologism for the genocidal invasion of Ethiopia), support for Franco, opposition to extending the franchise, poisonous racism. On all these, Simkin appeared to be accurate – that’s where my “AFAIK” came from. You haven’t actually shown that he made any errors, let alone told any lies, in the article I linked to. You say he’s a crank, but you don’t provide any links demonstrating this (including to his theory on the JFK assassination – there’s a sizeable section about this on the website, but no obvious place where “his theory” is laid out).

  59. Rob Grigjanis says

    KG @69:

    Did Jenkins and Quintero organize the assassination of John F. Kennedy? I think they did and posted my views on the subject in December 2005.

    https://spartacus-educational.com/JFKjenkinsC.htm

    Life’s too short to waste checking the possible non-crankishness of any article by a crank (see Richard Carrier). In #34, you said you wouldn’t trust everything this source says. Why not? And agreement on several points is enough to earn your trust in this case? OK. As I said earlier, there’s nothing Simkin wrote that would surprise me. I just have a preference for reputable sources.

  60. hookflash says

    I’ve always interpreted “SJW” as a sarcastic term, like calling someone “Einstein” or “a model citizen” (or like calling your blog network “Freethought Blogs” while requiring your bloggers to basically sign a statement of faith). The implication of the term (for me) is that you don’t actually care about social justice at all. If SJWs cared about social justice, they’d do a better job of changing people’s minds and bringing them over to the cause. Instead, they spend all of their time hurling racist / sexist zingers on Twitter and writing snarky blog posts about how shitty everyone and everything is.

  61. PaulBC says

    SC: Since you’re back on this thread, I am going to indulge in a comment I resisted making yesterday through sheer force of will. If I had done a little work, I could have produced documentary evidence of my participation in a thread last September where Churchill was identified as a racist, where I evinced no surprise, and concurred (weakly and vaguely in “bugnuts”@37) that I was “not a big fan” of Churchill (equivocating as is my wont that “[t]hings could have gone a lot worse”… probably with respect to WWII).

    So in short, while I’m not very informed on Churchill (nor interested in taking the effort to become so), yes, I know he was a racist even allowing for the standards of his times.

    On the other hand, Pierce R. Butler@55 really does pull the floor out from whatever “fucking dumb” thing I was trying to say, because it becomes a lot less notable that Churchill used “social justice” once in a speech when a fascist demagogue like Father Coughlin had already turned it into his rallying cry. That’s a fact that I hope will be forever seared into my brain.

    Finally, though I made this point at length, I don’t consider it a vice to be fond of formulating and expressing uninformed opinions. There are many worse things people do.

  62. PaulBC says

    SC@74 Good grief to you. I think a lot of people are capable of ignoring and skipping.

    KG is someone I know from over 20 years back and worked with in a very different context. My clumsily phrased comment was intended to lend support to his point and nothing else.

  63. John Morales says

    hookflash @71:

    (or like calling your blog network “Freethought Blogs” while requiring your bloggers to basically sign a statement of faith)

    Every now and then, along comes someone who knows not to what freethought refers.

  64. hookflash says

    John Morales @76:

    Every now and then, along comes someone who knows not to what freethought refers.

    Kind of a strange way to introduce yourself…

  65. John Morales says

    I gave you an opportunity to ameliorate your ostensible ignorance, hookflash.

    (Up to you whether you care to avail yourself of the opportunity)

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