Slate Star Codex on SJWs Eating Their Own

The Slate Star Codex blogger, Scott Alexander, is an inconsistent, all-over-the-place dude, but he does have some good insights every now and then, when he drops the nootropic pharmaceuticals and phasic sleep experiments.

Case in point: A good post at SSC about Social Justice Warriors, the modern Stalinists, attacking each other.

Alexander discusses an episode of SJWs eviscerating one of their own. The basic structure of the episode was as follows. Some SJW man adult male spread some particularly harmful feminist lies, presumably in an attempt to curry favor with feminists. (Facepalm. Dude… seriously?) Of course this bought him no leeway whatsoever when they decided later that he’d said something politically incorrect. Their attacks on him were as vicious as we’ve come to expect from this sort of incident, and occasionally so extreme that they were funny. E.g., when the victim (a guy named Clymer) took their “criticisms” to heart and changed his behavior accordingly, one SJW tweeted,

Reading @cmclymer’s latest tweets makes me sick. He is taking all the critique and adapting behavior, which is what abusers do. #StopClymer


Alexander discusses all this, and the general tendency of SJWs to attack their own, then says,

I think all of this touches on a much more important question: why don’t whales get cancer more often?

Keep reading; this actually is the first sentence of a vividly-exposited insight. (BTW, I’m dispensing with blockquotes in this post in favor of bold font, on the technical grounds that blockquote is as annoying as fuck when you have a lot of quotes.) He continues,

Cancer results from a series of mutations occurring by chance in a single cell. …If a whale is a thousand times bigger than a person, it should have a thousand times more cells and therefore get cancer a thousand times more often.

But apparently that doesn’t happen. One explanation:

Whales are very big, so in order to threaten a whale, a cancer must also grow very big. In order to grow very big, a cancer must evolve a complicated internal structure determining which cells expand where and who’s going to secrete the factors necessary for blood vessels to grow and so on… But as tumors grow bigger and more intricate, and cells have to spend more and more time altruistically working for the good of the tumor rather than just reproducing, some cells will inevitably defect from the plan and just divide uncontrollably.

That is, since by hypothesis these cells have defected from the body’s mutual cooperation agreement, it’s not surprising that they also defect from the cancer tumor’s mutual cooperation agreement.

In other words, the theory is that whales survive because they are so big that their cancers get cancer and die. … a good definition for “social cancer” might be any group that breaks the rules of cooperative behavior that bind society together in order to spread more quickly than it could legitimately achieve.

Like, e.g., doxxing, electoral fraud, violent thuggery, firing people from their jobs for having different political opinions, taking over academia and the media and engaging in censorship, launching personal attacks at people who disagree with them, using law in blatantly one-sided ways, etc.

Does any of that sound familiar?

Long before a group can take over society, it reaches a size where it needs to develop internal structure and rules about interaction between group members. If you collect a bunch of people and tell them to abandon all the social norms like honesty, politeness, respect, charity, and reason in favor of a cause – then the most likely result is that when your cause tries to develop some internal structure, it will be overrun by a swarm of people who have abandoned honesty, politeness, respect, charity, and reason.

Ya think? First, if you set up your movement to ignore common decency and attack people, it attracts those who like ignoring decency and attacking people. Second, not only have you disproportionately recruited people like that, but you then further train them (along with any decent people you may have recruited) to ignore common decency and attack people. So in both the kind of personalities you initially attract, and in the ways that you encourage people to behave once you’ve attracted them, you’ve done what? Filled your movement with people who reject any kind of decency toward those they disagree with, and instead viciously attack them. And when they disagree with you…?

If you elevate jerkishness into a principle, if you try to undermine the rules that keep niceness, community, and civilization going, the defenses against social cancer – then your movement will fracture, it will be hugely embarrassing, the atmosphere will become toxic, unpopular people will be thrown to the mob, everyone but the thickest-skinned will bow out, the people you need to convince will view you with a mixture of terror and loathing…

…you’ll constantly be in conflict with your own so-called allies, your energy will be largely diverted to attacking them and defending yourself from their attacks, and overall you’ll doom yourself to an irrelevant strife-ridden hell of your own making.

And it couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of people.


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