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Activism is not a Social Club

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the concept of "simulacra levels" in the context of political activism and engagement. It argues that much of online political discourse and activism is focused on status-seeking and performative outrage rather than concrete actions to improve people's lives. The author contrasts "level 1" activism focused on real-world change with "level 3" activism that is more about gaining social prestige and belonging to a group. The article emphasizes that true activism should be about winning and using power to enact tangible improvements, not just posturing or "political masturbation."

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Activism is Not a Social Club

1. What are the different "simulacra levels" of political engagement described in the article?

  • Level 1: Trying to change the world for the better and taking direct actions to make the world more liberal/progressive.
  • Level 2: Passively supporting Democrats or liberal/progressive causes because you broadly identify as liberal or progressive.
  • Level 3: Supporting various liberal/progressive causes because your in-group supports them, and there are social benefits and prestige to be gained from looking like you care a lot.
  • Level 4: Wearing a Free Palestine T-shirt and not being able to locate Palestine on a map.

2. What is the author's main criticism of "level 3" political engagement? The author argues that "level 3" engagement is focused on status-seeking and looking like an activist, rather than actually trying to improve people's lives or enact real change. They state that this type of engagement is "poisonous" when it comes to politics.

3. What does the author say activism should be about, according to the article? The author states that activism should be about "winning" and "changing the world in real, concrete ways." They argue that it is not about "looking cool to other activists" or "dunking on people on social media," but rather about using power to improve the lives of everyday people.

[02] Two Dumb Arguments

1. What are the two political arguments the author criticizes in this section? The two arguments are:

  1. A leftist comedian's routine criticizing people for not voting for Joe Biden, despite factual inaccuracies and lack of actual jokes.
  2. Arguments against calls for Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to retire, which the author sees as being more about defending Sotomayor's status than about achieving Democratic priorities.

2. How does the author characterize the motivations behind these arguments? The author argues that these arguments are not actually about achieving concrete political change, but are instead operating at a "simulacra level" focused on status, group belonging, and performative outrage, rather than real-world impact.

3. What does the author say these arguments miss the point of? The author states that these arguments miss the point of actual activism, which should be about "winning" and "changing the world in real, concrete ways," rather than just posturing or defending the status of certain individuals.

Shared by Daniel Chen ยท
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