The Collision of Social Justice Perfectionism, Rival Faiths, and Ordered Liberty: Review Essay: Mark T. Mitchell, The Unholy Marriage that Spawned America's Social Justice Warriors
38 Pages Posted: 8 Feb 2021
Date Written: January 25, 2021
Amid the nation’s swelling social discord, Mark T. Mitchell’s new book, Power and Purity: The Unholy Marriage That Spawned America’s Social Justice Warriors, avoids sterility, sclerosis, and nostalgia, while offering a creative understanding of the origins of the nation’s divisions that have seen the rise of social justice warriors (SJWs). Endeavoring to unravel the undemocratic forces advancing in our republic, his analysis forecasts the rise of totalitarianism and the possible return of “separate but equal.” He argues that social justice activists, after embracing Nietzsche’s rejection of Christian Platonism, the notion of truth, and traditional morality, have now, paradoxically, embraced many aspects of Puritanism. Additional issues arise because, despite their adoption of Nietzsche’s intuition, SJWs frequently emphasize goals, which are orthogonal to his vision.
Mitchell’s book provides answers to a number of salient issues including the provenance, consequences, and morality of social justice approaches. In an epoch featuring (1) the rude collapse of metanarratives; (2) an uprising of mimetic rivalries within the political, religious, and economic realm; (3) spreading social irruptions signaling democracy’s end and totalitarianism’s beginning; and (4) the self-immolation of the liberal project accompanied by the rise of illiberal liberalism; Mitchell poses a crucial question: whether social justice policies grounded in postmodernism, are reconcilable with contrary views grounded in rival faiths and the notion of ordered liberty within a constitutional republic? Without resolving this conflict, Professor Mitchell implies that common ground cannot be found between individuals and subgroups who are driven by claims of social justice and those who are not.
Keywords: Race, Religion, Gender, Identity, Systemic Racism, Victimhood, Privilege, Moral Dysphoria, Postmodern Elites, Autonomy, Mimetic Rivalry, Illiberal Liberalism, Neutral Adjudication and Planned Parenthood v. Casey
JEL Classification: K36, J71
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation