I’ve been using the Freedom Fighter label for a while now. It’s more evocative than libertarian, less pejorative than market fundamentalist, and furthermore alliterative. In the following note, I am pleased to report some evidence that Freedom Fighters may become a sound meme.
Like many other ClimateBall episodes, it started at Judy’s. AndréF posted a video where the origins of political correctness (or PC) was discussed by Christine Brophy & Jordan Peterson, and then gloated a bit about Social Justice Warriors (SJWs):
One of the traits that characterises Leftists is so-called agreeableness (although its expression can turn out to be very disagreeable). Part of agreeableness is seeking consensus, which although nice-sounding, concludes by identifying those outside the consensus as a threat.
It took a few hours for a Denizen to appreciate the finding: Great stuff! PC authoritarians have a high incidence of personality disorders. Since I’m too impatient to watch a 15 mins video, I tried to find the paper presenting the results being discussed in it. I could not (and still can’t) but could find a review by Barry Kaufman, a researcher who works in the same field. I found this passage noteworthy:
While this study wasn’t specifically examining general political beliefs, they shed some light on overlapping policy issues. For one, the findings on PC-Authoritarianism highlight some similarities with right-wing authoritarianism. A common finding in the psychological literature is a positive association between conservative belief and sensitivity to disgust. In the current study, contamination disgust and the order and traditionalism dimension were all related, suggesting a greater similarity between PC-Authoritarians and Right-Wing authoritarians than either side would probably like to admit!
It made me conclude that the study revealed more about Freedom Fighters than about SJWs and underlined why we need to be thankful for contrarian concerns. AndréF contested that reading, claiming that the study was very specifically about SJWs, rather than freedom fighters (at least according to authors). SJWs being usually associated with the Left (see his first quote above), I quoted BarryK a bit more, under the heading “The 2 Shades of Political Correctness”:
The researchers found that PC exists, can be reliably measured, and has two major dimensions. They labeled the first dimension “PC-Egalitarianism” and the second dimension “PC-Authoritarianism”. Interestingly, they found that PC is not a purely left-wing phenomenon but is better understood as the manifestation of a general offense sensitivity, which is then employed for either liberal or conservative ends.
The whole tactics of blaming the Left (and by extension SJWs) for political correctness thus falters.
While waiting for this ClimateBall episode to subside, I searched a bit more on Peterson’s work. You may have heard of his role in the controversy over gender-neutral pronouns. But what caught my eye was his message to millenials. In it, Peterson recalls a piece by Jonathan Haidt, in which there is this gem:
Marx is the patron saint of what I’ll call “Social Justice U,” which is oriented around changing the world in part by overthrowing power structures and privilege. It sees political diversity as an obstacle to action. Mill is the patron saint of what I’ll call “Truth U,” which sees truth as a process in which flawed individuals challenge each other’s biased and incomplete reasoning. In the process, all become smarter. Truth U dies when it becomes intellectually uniform or politically orthodox.
One obvious problem with that dichotomy is that it’s self-serving. Fancy this: our most important heterodox academic in the world does not always takes sides, but when he does, he sides with Truth. And of course Mill (whose conception of truth deserves due diligence) gets opposed to teh Karl himself.
Haidt’s caricature is pure and unadulterated crap, since the issue is orthogonal to left-right orientation. For instance, many Freedom Fighters that self-identify as “cultural libertarians” are leftists. It misrepresents the main area of contention that we can find in just about every online discussion, or at very least my own experience: the fight between individuality and community. A similar opposition is expressed between self-transcendence and self-enhancement (H/T Moshpit):
[P]eople with a higher self-transcendence value demonstrated an interest in reading articles about the environment, and people with a higher self-enhancement value showed an interest in reading articles about work.
A priori, those who value more self-transcendence should emphasize social justice, while those who value more self-enhancement should emphasize personal freedom. No one owns Truth, except perhaps Nature verself.
The opposition between Justice and Freedom just looks more coherent to me. Choosing between Justice and Freedom seems less obvious than between Justice and Truth. Moreover, the opposition between Justice and Freedom is mostly rhetorical. Philosophers usually connect the two one way or another. For instance, Sen argues that:
[A] theory of justice based on fairness must be deeply and directly concerned with the actual freedoms enjoyed by different persons -persons with possibly divergent objectives- to lead different lives that they can have reason to value.
Thus, Social Justice Warriors, meet Personal Freedom Fighters, or Freedom Fighters, or even shorter FFs.