An Emerging New Canon
Welcome to Human Rights Evolution.
This home page presents a basic intellectual framework for understanding the larger cultural landscape of contemporary human rights movements and a variety of lenses for understanding these movements. For those who wish to skip immediately to the content, please click HERE.
This site is for people—including those who identify as progressive, post-progressive, liberal, moderately conservative, libertarian or nonpolitical—who are interested in human rights and equality and in learning about the growing influence of contemporary social justice scholarship on society’s institutions in general, and on education, the social sciences, human rights work and activist and spiritual communities, in particular.
Educators, policy-makers, human rights activists, developmental psychologists, social justice advocates, and peace activists will find this pro-human rights and pro-social justice site useful in understanding the current trends in social justice, its positive developments, and the critiques around its excesses.
For the latest blog posts about the use of language in social change, the problem of ideological conditioning, and other issues related to human rights movements and social justice ideologies, please click HERE.
The Challenge of Sense-making in the 21st Century
With the advent of the internet’s great expansion in the early 21st century, the world of ideas has become far more accessible to the average reader than we could ever have thought possible just a few decades ago. This has brought about a crisis in sense making, in which we must contend with competing information and an untold number of frameworks in making sense of a world in which tribalism and the culture wars are escalating alongside the steep rise in readily available disinformation and propaganda.
There is much at stake for the planet and for its inhabitants in the 21st century, so it has become increasingly important for thought leaders, elected officials, and everyday people to grapple with the big questions, moral aims, and potential outcomes of the frameworks that we are considering in our efforts to make sense of the world and to act in accordance with the sense that we have made.
This is no easy task. In their remarkable essay, The Memetic Tribes of Culture War 2.0, authors Peter N. Limberg and Conor Barnes deftly point out that the political landscape of the digital world can no longer be understood in the traditional terms of left versus right, but rather as an arena in which people “across the political spectrum… are cloistering themselves in tribes” that “are defining themselves against the tribes closest to them”.
Some of these tribes, such as the Transmodernists and the Metamodernists, posit frameworks that attempt to transcend and include other frameworks into a larger, integrated whole, while others champion the modernist frameworks they believe have already been successful by deepening our understanding of Enlightenment values. Still others are warning us against the incomplete worldview of the pre-modernists and the distortions that have arisen under the influence of the most zealous of postmodernists with the aim of bringing culture back into the fold of reason, egalitarianism and less reliance on totalizing ideologies.
Having presented a very basic outline of some of the larger cultural frames we have encountered in the post-postmodernist era, we will now narrow the focus back down to the frame of human experience on the individual and collective level in the here and now. In the pages that follow, we will examine the influence on that experience by policies and cultural norms that have been inspired by postmodernist conceptions of social justice.
Civil Rights, Universal Social Justice and Critical Social Justice (CSJ)
It will be helpful for visitors to this site to begin with the distinction between the Civil Rights movements of the 1950’s and 60’s, -which were inspired by the principles of universal liberalism- and contemporary Critical Social Justice (CSJ) movements, which draw upon a different set of principles including social constructivism and group identity. For a concise examination of these differences, we recommend the essay, “Identity Politics Does Not Continue the Work of the Civil Rights Movements”.
It will also be helpful to understand the distinction between the general principles of social justice -which most people rightly support- and the specific ideology that many are now calling Critical Social Justice. For a brief primer on this distinction, we recommend this short essay by Rohan Loveland called Universal Social Justice: A Necessary Alternative to Critical Social Justice.
While most of the sources linked to on this site strive for tonal balance and open-ended inquiry into the human condition in a non-polemical way, this essay offers a candid study of the differences between Universal Social Justice and Critical Social Justice (CSJ). As with all of the sources chosen for this collection, not all of the views expressed in this essay will be in perfect alignment with the views of readers. However, for those who are concerned about the modern forms of social justice theory and activism, the general thrust of the essay will resonate.
Echo chambers and Epistemic Bubbles
We also recommend this article, Escape the Echo Chamber which explores the differences between echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. This piece goes into some important details about the impact of us-against-them ideologies that are kept firmly in place by a lack of diverse information networks (epistemic bubbles) and the pre-emptive discrediting of all other sources of information, including the character and trustworthiness of individuals, groups, and beliefs systems that are seen to be one-dimensional, malevolent “enemies” (echo chambers).
Though the article above focuses on far right echo chambers, we believe the insights are relevant for an understanding of social justice echo chambers, many of which, have fallen into an increasingly adversarial mindset that has not only increased polarization in Western societies, but threatens to further embolden opposing forces who are not likely to advance their own causes for the good of all.
Alongside the development of these echo chambers and epistemic bubbles, a kind of evolution has emerged over the past few years to champion the freedom to step beyond (evolve past) ideological conditioning and fixed frameworks and to diagnose the world’s problems and promises in concert with others, including those who may appear to us as adversaries.
Though there is no centralized or formally guided “evolution movement” in the world of human rights (or social justice), a growing number of people are recognizing the emergence of a canon of thinkers, reformers, and dissidents who are questioning some of the central tenets of what can be reasonably called an orthodoxy— Critical Social Justice (CSJ)—and who offer an alternative vision that is more balanced, egalitarian, and multi-dimensional. This site aims to provide a portal into this emerging canon to help people navigate the sometimes muddy waters of social change, ethics, ideology, public policy, culture, and institutional control.
Why the focus on critiquing Critical Social Justice (CSJ) movements?
This page was set up as a resource for people who are committed to the general principles of protecting human rights and working for a socially just world in which all can thrive free from fear, inequity, and oppression. We want that outlook to be protected and to succeed, which is why we aim to critique those elements that we feel are interfering with this vision.
We recognize that mass movements can often deteriorate into mobbing behaviors that bring fear, violence and cruelty into the world and that this can occur across the political spectrum. We want to focus on the movements and frameworks that claim to speak on behalf of empathy, human rights and social justice because the troublesome patterns that have been arising over the past few years in the world of Critical Social Justice (CSJ) are likely to escalate if these patterns are left unchecked.
We also recognize the growing pattern of heresy-hunting and the constant search for hidden beliefs and motives that the more ideologically-driven adherents of CSJ engage in. Therefore, we want to assert that none of these resources are so-called right-wing or part of an elaborate plan to put social justice in a bad light in order to maintain “the status quo” and protect the power or perceived advantages of any demographic group.
We simply wish for other perspectives, frameworks, and experiences to be considered in the overall dialogue around society, human rights, civilizational progress, and social change -knowing that dialogue, access to diverse viewpoints, and the active consideration of those viewpoints has always been the way forward for progressive societies.
How this site can be useful
In these pages and posts, we have archived a collection of what we consider to be the best and most fair arguments for a further evolution of the beliefs, culture and practices in modern social justice movements. We also explore the subject of ideological conditioning and the patterns of fanaticism, mobbing, and bullying that have been occurring with increasing frequency over the past few years in social media, mainstream media outlets, on the college campus, and in our institutions.
These resources will also be helpful for people who are being negatively impacted by the misapplication or abuse of social justice theories and don’t understand what’s happening to them. Important topics are covered that can help targets to discover not only what is happening to them but why.
If any of these resources speak to you or help you understand or heal, please share them on your social media accounts, emails and in private conversations with friends and acquaintances.
A better world
There is a better world in our midst populated by people with a humane ethos and a pro-intellectual and pro-inquiry stance that does not shy away from engagement, debate, and thoughtful analysis unrestricted by ideological commitments. These are people who are willing to see things as they are, without romanticism or fear. Above all, these are people who are confident and self-respecting enough to listen to other perspectives without suspicion and without over-reliance on ideological frameworks that create distance between and within people’s hearts and minds.