Is social justice a legitimate movement?

So these days, the Linux Foundation decided to adopt the Contributor Covenant , which caused great anger in the developer community. The news seem optimistic about it, while the community itself is furious. As the news seem to offer only one side of the story, I would like to offer a Brazilian insight into what is happening in a country that is not my own but that produces a lot of software that I use.

For developers, the code of conduct adopted by the foundation, based on a document produced elsewhere, represents a political intrusion into fully objective and functionality-driven business, in this case programming. The code would, a priori, be unnecessary, since many of its policies are already adopted without its presence. Finally, the code is highly relative and vague, allowing virtually anyone to expel another person from the Linux project with allegations of harassment or discrimination, which may have hurt only feelings. This is aggravated by the fact that the people who contribute most to the code are not minorities, so that people who contribute less can eliminate those who contribute the most. The community argues that this has happened in other large projects that have adopted similar policies, which they summarize as “diversity over skill”, causing deterioration of services provided. The response from the most active developers was threatening to remove the parts of the Linux code that were contributed by them from the project, which would hurt both clients (like me, as I use Manjaro, and Android users) and servers (since most of the popular sites today, even pornographic ones, are powered by Linux).

That is an extreme attitude, but, in my opinion, understandable. I have been thinking about this for some time and I published a short comment elsewhere in English about what is happening and I decided to put these ideas here for my six or so readers. But before going into detail, I have three trans friends and I go as far as referring to them using desired pronouns (although they themselves do not mind being referred to by their biological sex), and although I do not consider myself left, I am not right-leaning either. In fact, still lean left. And that is why I worry about social justice, but not because I think it is good: social justice does not cease to shame the left.

Let me explain: Contributor Covenant allows minority groups to attack major groups for small or even hypocritical reasons, which actually increases the majority’s hatred towards the minorities. This is because social justice has an original sin inherited from feminism, which is the quest for equality by the consideration of just one side of the scale. That is why it is called “feminism”: only women’s problems are taken into account. Everything for feminism is a women’s issue. Men and boys only enter these discourses as oppressive entities, even if real men and boys you meet on the streets are not oppressors. But to make an analogy, can we balance a scale without knowing the contents in the other side, especially when all we do is put more and more weight on the side we priorize? No, the tendency is that the side we pay attention to will become increasingly heavy, eventually tipping the scale to it’s side, rather than balancing it. Social justice is, perhaps inadvertently, the application of the same principle to all minorities. That is why there is no social justice for men, for example.

The point I want to make is that the social justice movement is ruining more and more things because it is not assessing the costs of its actions. Evergreen University lost three teachers, had a 40 percent drop in enrollment, and lost millions of dollars in funds because enraged students expelled a white teacher from the classroom during a special protest day in which no white people could enter the campus. This, of course, is just an example. But does not it seem strange that a movement that preaches equality and justice has approved and perhaps suggested a “special day” in the academic calendar in which no white person, whether student or teacher, could enter the campus? For me, this is hypocrisy, but it is also injustice . Thus, a movement that speaks of social justice gains hypocritical outlines. This legitimizes the reaction of the majority groups. But now comes the key question: How many people who are against these attitudes blame the movement as a political entity and how many people blame the minorities that such a movement claims to protect?

Again, the example of feminism: this movement claims to represent the best interest of all women, although most women are not feminist. Thus, an attack on feminism can be interpreted as an attack on women and is readily labeled as misogyny. The problem is that the use of such language and meanings reinforces the connection between feminism and women in general, giving rise to the emergence of true misogyny. The same is true for social justice. With a movement that behaves this way, the tendency is for more and more people to blame blacks, women, immigrants, trangenders and other minority groups for all the bad things that happen. They do not blame the movement or ideology, but their visible material causes, which are the ones that make up the movement, whose attitudes are generalized, because they claim to act in the best interest of the groups they represent. To check my theory, just look at voting intentions surveys in Brazil: Bolsonaro, leader of the far right, has a serious chance of winning. Thus, the social justice movement strengthens the right wing, because, by acting in a fundamentally unjust and hypocritical way, it feeds reactionary attitudes. And yes, the social justice movement was imported by the Brazilian media and inoculated into the general population, so much so that citizens in a nation where everyone is mixed are able to point out who is “black” and who is “white” when our very genes, which descend from Europeans, Africans and indigenous people, betray these labels. There are no “pure races” in Brazil. Yet, there has never been so much racism here.

Suppose that the protest of the developers takes place and a lot of lines of code are removed from the Linux kernel, we can prepare ourselves for the falency of the Internet. Linux is the safest kernel today, which is why many servers use it. Removing Linux code represents the removal of security from various sectors of the Internet. To illustrate how serious this is, do you remember shellshock ? Well, shellshock was a bug in the GNU Bourne Again Shell , better known as bash , which allowed arbitrary code execution from remote sources by using environment variables. In layman’s language, this means that anyone who discovers a way to pass environment variables to a server would take control of it. This would not have caused the panic it caused if most Internet servers did not run Linux, after all bash is shipped in distributions of that kernel. Imagine if the developers who solved this problem took back the solution they implemented. The vulnerability would return. Thus, with the damage caused by social justice and the rage accumulated against this movement, the population would stand on the side of developers. I would stand by their side, because one should not mix politics and science, politics and programming: that the most skilled be able to contribute, this does not harm diversity, but prioritizing diversity may exclude the skilled. This is meritocracy, but I am forced to admit that it is the meritocracy that made Linux suitable to power Tumblr.

To sum up: social justice as a radical movement acts against the interests of minorities that it claims to represent and, by claiming to act in the best interest of all these minorities, it increases hatred against those minorities at every clearly unjust or hypocritical act, fueling reactionary discourses and giving power to right wing, all because its fundamental premise, of considering only one side without assessing the costs of its actions, harms everyone. So the question I wanted to ask is: Is social justice a legitimate movement? I don’t think so. The social justice movement is likely to be a “false flag” operation. I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory, but just imagine: what if key people in social justice movements are actually proponents of the right, who instrumentalize people from the left to achieve their goals? Maybe I am wrong, but the fact is that social justice has been the right wing’s greatest ally in this decade.

I urge that minorities who stand against the extreme acts of the social justice movement to vocalize their displeasure at these actions, to publicly repudiate what is happening. Again, the example of feminism: more and more women and girls are leaving feminism upon realizing that it is unfair to men and boys, as well as harmful for their desires to build relationships (as more and more men are avoiding women ) . After all, if the public sees that not all minorities are in favor of extremism, the tendency to attack the ideology, not those that are “protected” by such ideology, will be greater, and there will be bilateral pressure against such ideology. It doesn’t mean that minorities should abandon hopes of acceptance, but that no attitude in that direction should be taken without regard to the other side of the scale or without considering the social damage that could be caused as consequence of such attitude (in this case, the implementation of Contributor Covenant by the Linux Foundation may put Linux users at risk with or without the developers’ protest). Second, I humbly ask to the Linux Foundation to create its own code of conduct, rather than adopting one that comes from outside, and that the creation of the code itself should be done in a democratic way, with the voices of the developers being heard in the process, aiming at the best interests of those who use the kernel. In the worst case scenario, fork the kernel. Finally, we all should appraise the consequences of our acts and also of the acts of others, so that we know which brands of activism are worth supporting and which are not. After all, if the consequence of an attitude is harmful even to the one who proposes the attitude, the person is either a fool… or a troll.

Publicado por Yure

Quando eu me formei, minha turma teve que fazer um juramento coletivo. Como minha religião não me permite jurar nem prometer, eu só mexi os lábios, mas resolvi viver com os objetivos do juramento em mente de qualquer forma.

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