The Other, Hypocrisy and Virtue Signaling
Us and Them is such a famous political tactic that it made it as a song on Dark Side of The Moon. While it is commonly applied as a top-down concept, used by political forces to control masses, it is just as common, and just as damaging, as a bottom-up concept. The individual will create a distinction between himself, or people like himself, and the other. The result of this is a form of virtue-signaling among the in-group by attacking the out-group.
This may seem vague, but it’s worth diving into. Even more so due to it’s transcendent quality, floating in the individual below their basic political leanings. A conservative Christian is just as susceptible to this mode of political activity as a college activist.
Example: Those young folk who have a socialist leaning, candidates for a future Occupy Wall Street rally, say, will identify an enemy to their cause: the 1%. And while Adbusters, the organization who sparked the protest, are very politically engaged, the run-of-the-mill university student is not. Rather, they engage with their friends, in circular conversations about the destructive nature of capitalism. “Fuck the 1%” they say, on twitter, with an iPhone, using a 5G internet connection, in their 4 star hotel. Here, the division is clear. There is a system of oppression, capitalism, and those who benefit from it, therefore those who created it, maintain it and spread it, the rich. There’s even a catchy name: the 1%. Ignoring, of course, that as North-Americans at a university they are very likely to be in the 1% of the world in most, if not all, metrics of well-being. Ignoring further the fact that they live, make use of, and consider indispensable, the very products of the system they are attacking.
I want to emphasize the distinction between Adbusters and those I dubbed “the young folk”. The former is actively taking advantage of all the tools at their disposal to push for the change they desire. Regardless of the veracity of their claims, they work hard for the maxim they are imposing. The latter, of the other hand, doesn’t seem to take seriously the maxim they are proposing. If you truly believe that “capitalism is a cancer”, then you should invest a lot of your time addressing that fact. Conversely, they satisfy their disgust for consumerism with a endless stream of hashtag activism.
If they don’t seriously care, why do they do it. Well, some, those with whom this article is concerned, do it to look good. In other words, they are virtue-signaling. They are conscious of the social trend of being an environmentalist, say, and they’ll bandwagon with the movement, but only to the extent that doesn’t require them to get off the couch. For if the current progression of the environment is truly, in your estimation, going to severely damage the lives of dozens of thousands of people, one would think you’d go to great lengths to assist a cause that attempts to halt that harmful progression.
That is not to say that their whole lives should be dedicated to a single noble cause. Yet, if you genuinely care about a cause, you will make some significant sacrifices for it. Without such sacrifices, a hashtag simply shows off your imaginary caring. And how noble you are, caring about Mother Earth!
I know how this works, I’ve ‘attacked’ a left-wing movement — though really just a dishonest subsection of its supporters — and I’ll get flack for it. Probably get called a Nazi, as seems to be the present trend. I’ll now risk attacking a right-wing movement, and risk being attacked on the grounds of cuckolding, in the hope of demonstrating the apolitical nature of this attitude.
SJWs exist, unfortunately. But in the same way that the “1%” correctly labels a group of people taking advantage of the poor in the interest of their — already opulent — wealth. And yet, by far and wide wealthy people are just regular people, who care just as much and just as little about “world issues” as you do. In the same vein, those unfortunate folk who’ve been dubbed “the Alt-right” — thereby being unfairly associated with white supremacists — have developed the same reflex for attacking social-justice warriors. The reflex, just like in the previous example, may be very well founded, but it is trigger-happy, and brutal. These people, who should be named anti-SJW, not alt-right, have found themselves disgusted by an issue, and proceed to attack it with hypocrisy. While the anti-capitalist criticizes consumerism with an iPhone in hand, the anti-SJW attacks identity politics with identity politics. In the same way the SJW calls an opponent to the Black Lives Matter movement a racist, the anti-SJW calls anyone who attacks Trump a cuck.
In the same way someone who dislikes consumerism will limit his purchases, the true opponent of SJW’s will avoid identity politics, and engage in honest reasoning.
In all situations, whether we talk of about SJWs the anti-SJWs or the environmentalist, many individuals will abuse those causes by free-riding on the virtue-signal admitted by being associated with them. By attacking capitalism, you make yourself look better to those who think the same. By attacking ‘racists’, you make yourself look better to those who think the same. And it goes on, and on, and on. The politically-absent individual attacks an identified out-group to gain the favour of those who associate with the in-group.
All this to say that if you identify a villain, make sure that you yourself, to the neutral eye, are not considered just the same.