We make many choices every day of our lives, we choose to do things, to not do them, to procrastinate choice, however we can rarely select to not make a choice at all. The catch-22, a double-bind, Hobson’s choice, Cornellian dilemma, Kobayashi-maru and Zugzwang, a child of many names that all attempt to articulate the same concept, the unwinnable scenario. While there are small differences, between the above, Hobson’s choice presents two choices, where there is really only one, a Cornelian dilemma is a choice between two different, yet unfavorable outcomes, a double-bind is a situation where you are put in a situation where completing one task, would result in failing the other, where a requirement is that you are successful in both. A catch-22, from the novel by the same name written by Joseph Heller, is best represented by the example of needing experience to get a job, but needing a job to gain experience. Zugzwang is a German chess-term meaning that you are forced to move, but any move you make would put you in a worse situation than if you did not move. They are all terms that amount to a no-win scenario.
The ideology of social justice is based on Marxist principles, and as such becomes authoritarian. Like most ideologies except those based on enlightenment principles, the logical conclusion of such ideologies is a collective narrative that is maintained through manipulation and coercion, from the perspective that the end justifies the means. Such ideologies frequently make use of various manipulative methods to maintain their malignant narratives.
The Catch .22
The original catch-22 comes from the novel of the same name by Joseph Heller, where a pilot who is declared crazy is not permitted to fly more combat missions. However, in order to be declared insane, the pilot has to request an evaluation, which is taken as a sign that the pilot is sane. My favorite example of a catch-22 is that you cannot be a social justice warrior unless you check your privilege, but you cannot buy into the need to check your privilege unless you are already a social justice warrior. The catch-22 is one of those things that rarely pops up in day to day life, unless you are in a highly organized, procedural and process oriented organization, such as public service, the military or the police. These are places where rules, regulations and procedures are often developed without regard for how they actually interact as a system.
An example I heard of from a military unit was that in order to submit an anonymous complaint about your direct superior, the complaint had to be approved by your direct superior. Perhaps one of the more interesting catch-22s from a philosophical perspective is the tolerance paradox within liberalism, where the question becomes “should on actually be tolerant of intolerance” if you are tolerant of intolerance, then it follows that you will be an accessory to intolerance. However, if you are intolerant of intolerance you are not really a tolerant person, and thus you have to be intolerant of yourself.
The double-bind comes to be when there is communication on two levels, for instance a mother telling a child “you have to love me” on the surface this is an order to do something, while implicit is the fact that love is spontaneous. Another example could be your boss telling you “You have to enjoy your work“, when in reality enjoyment of ones work is the result of a complex interplay of psychological mechanisms that differ in varying degrees from person to person.
Bateson describes the mechanism of a double bind in that a superior (boss, parent, or other) places a condition in one (or both) of the following forms:
Injunction 1: “Do X or I will punish you”
Injunction 2: “Don’t do X or I will punish you”
The superior then adds a second and potentially a third injunction on the person on a higher and more abstract level that is conflicting with the first. Finally, they may add another injunction to prevent the person from escaping from the double-bind. From using only one of the two the person has the choice of action/inaction or punishment. If under both binds, punishment is the only outcome. However, the two levels of communication have the effect of obscuring such a bind as to not make it immediately apparent that you are in the no-win scenario.
Social justice warrior: You have to check your privilege because you want to.
In this case, the communication on two levels are as follows:
A) Check your privilege or I will punish you. (Injunction 1)
B) Only check your privilege because you want to. (Injunction 2)
Hobson’s choice comes from a story about a liveryman who would give people who came to take out a horse two choices, either take the horse closest to the door or no horse at all. This creates an illusion of choice, when in reality a person in need of a horse would have to take the horse closest to the door. “You can pick any horse you want, as long as it is this one” is in many ways a method to present an ultimatum, where an unsatisfactory option that leaves you a little better off is viewed as better than one that does not change your situation at all. This is the choice many people make when they elect to enter an unsatisfactory relationship rather than being alone. In feminism this takes the form that every woman can choose to live the life she wants and have the right to self-determination, so long as it does not conflict with what feminism thinks she should want. Utilizing universality, it follows that any man should be given self-determination as well, and a man can be anything he wants, as long as it is aligned with what feminism thinks he should want.
This particular no-win scenario is in many ways common to authoritarian ideologies, anyone who fought communism is the former Soviet Union, North Korea, or many of the other failed states was faced with the choice “Communism or Punishment“. In the same way, when you find yourself under attack from SJWs, the only options are to accept their narrative or face pain until you accept their narrative. However, even once you accept their narrative, they will frequently not let up, resulting in both choices you are able to make in this scenario, being sub-optimal.
The Cornelian dilemma comes from a play entitled “Le Cid” where the protagonist is given a choice between the love of his life and avenging his family that has been wronged by his love’s father. This creates a scenario where if he chooses the love of his life, he loses his honor, and if he avenges his family, he loses the love of his life. This takes the form of a choice wherein both choices would have a detrimental effect on the person making the choice. The Cornellian dilemma has a third unstated option, which is to not make a choice at all, however while this is implicit, it may result in the consequence of both negative outcomes.
The most famous Cornellian dilemma of social justice is that you are either a sexist (or in the case of intersectional feminism, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, islamophobic…) or you are a social justice warrior. This places you in a situation where either you have to agree with something you disagree with, or you are attacked with ad hominems. This works by threatening the target with a loss of one or more of the required levels embodied in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We have seen social justice warriors attempt to take away people’s ability to make a living, their sense of security, have them ostracized in their communities, or take away their right to self actualization.
The zugzwang is very similar to the Cornelian dilemma, except that unlike the Cornelian dilemma, the third unstated choice, namely not making one is not available. The Kobayashi-Maru from Star Trek is a famous example of a case where a captain was faced with a scenario that could not be won, yet did not have the option of deferring or refusing to make a choice. When a social justice warrior challenges you to check your privilege or calls you out for some imaginary slight towards the hive-mind, and presents the choice to apologize or suffer the consequences, this is actually not a Cornelian dilemma, but a case of zugzwang, because any action including the apology will result in you suffering the consequences. If you present an apology, you will be attacked further as they smell blood in the water, if you refuse to apologize they will double down. Finally if you attempt to make no move at all, they will double down. So, any action in this situation results in the SJW doubling down on their narrative.
Summary and conclusions
You can tell a manipulative person from their use of manipulative strategies, and you can tell an authoritarian ideology from its use of manipulative methods to take away freedom from those it seeks to infest. Techniques to influence, manipulative and take away people’s right to self-determination, free expression, free thought and informed choice.
As I’ve outlined, social justice warriors are experts at utilizing the various methods above in order to control the game. I referenced the Kobayashi-Maru earlier, and this offers the solution to the problem. Captain James T. Kirk is the only person to ever beat the Kobayashi-Maru, and he did it in a very straight-forward manner, he changed the rules of the game. This is what #Gamergate did as well, rather than accept the SJW positions of “Either apologize or face the consequences” gamergaters changed the rules and counter-attacked. Utilizing many of the same methods as SJWs do, such as trolling, doxing, social media attacks and various others, they launched their own counter-narrative, which ended up with social justice warriors having to fight their own tactics for the first time.
When facing a no-win scenario, you feel trapped, but in many ways you are completely free for the first time as a man with nothing to lose has everything to gain. The important things to remember when launching a counter-offensive is law 15 from the 48 laws of power; Crush your enemies totally. The challenge in the social justice battle is that as the character V from the movie “V for Vendetta” says, “Ideas are bulletproof“. As I’ve written about before bad ideas are in many ways like the ebola virus, you can quarantine the infected, you can attempt to cure them of it, some pull through and live on, however until you can identify the host of the virus in the wild and thus eliminate the reservoir as well, infections will keep happening.
You can find the other parts of the social justice series here