There are basically three strategies for social change: 1) Be an ungovernable minority who it's too expensive to oppress, 2) win at the ballot box via technical majorities, 3) impose new social norms via holding an overwhelming majority.
Anarchists have historically focused on 1 with forays into 3. But social justice focuses on 3 with forays into 2. There is a tension there.
While some norms are enforceable with strong majorities at the ready, others are not. Since social justice primarily focuses on norm enforcement rather than persuasion and is inclined to codified approaches, their political ratchet leads them into situations where they keep trying to leverage norm-setting power that they don't have on some issues. This approach thus conflicts with what it takes to win at the ballot box.
The problem is that social justice -- as a liberal/leftist departure from anarchism proper -- is broadly infected with an assumption of operating from a position of strength. It's a triumphalist perspective where we're already won so let's hunt down and exterminate the problematics. This is a radically different perspective than the sort of framework you get when you're a losing minority scrambling for survival.
Social justice would do far better shifting over to an anarchist approach where you see yourself as outgunned and primarily focus on disruption and cost-incurring and then occasionally seize a new norm when and where the numbers are overwhelmingly in your favor. Trying to bootstrap new norms and rapidly impose and enforce them mostly just leads to a performative hierarchy of wokeness that's impotent at achieving social change.
We of course need to change our social norms and it's important to cleave out spaces for people to get a breath free from oppressive norms/institutions and advance prefigurative politics, and this means advancing and enforcing new norms internally. But the preening reactionaries are correct that a lot of folks are getting overconfident about what new norms can be enforced (and where) just because they're ethically correct.
@rechelon Nicely put.
I feel that social justice, as a movement, has so far not found effective, repeatable actions to become that ungovernable minority. Squatting in Europe faces much higher penalties recently, and small groups are less likely to act without the risk being distributed.
Out of interest, have you heard of the 'smashing, healing, building, taming' activism compass? I came across it here https://www.redpepper.org.uk/shock-doctrine-of-the-left-a-strategy-for-building-socialist-counterpower/ and I find it to be useful and graspable for a diversity of people.
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