The Rise of the Culture of Victimhood Explained

Replacing honor and dignity with victimhood



Over at the Righteous Mind blog, New York University moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt is signposting a fascinating article, "Microaggression and Moral Cultures," by two sociologists in the journal Comparative Sociology. The argument in the article is that U.S. society is in the midst of a large-scale moral change in which we are experiencing the emergence of a victimhood culture that is distinct from the honor cultures and dignity cultures of the past. If true, this bodes really bad for future social and political peace.

In honor cultures, people (men) maintained their honor by responding to insults, slights, violations of rights by self-help violence. Generally honor cultures exist where the rule of law is weak. In honor cultures, people protected themselves, their families, and property through having a reputation for swift violence. During the 19th century, most Western societies began the moral transition toward dignity cultures in which all citizens were legally endowed with equal rights. In such societies, persons, property, and rights are defended by recourse to third parties, usually courts, police, and so forth, that, if necessary, wield violence on their behalf. Dignity cultures practice tolerance and are much more peaceful than honor cultures.

Sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning are arguing that the U.S. is now transitioning to a victimhood culture that combines both the honor culture's quickness to take offense with the dignity culture's use of third parties to police and punish transgressions. The result is people are encouraged to think of themselves as weak, marginalized, and oppressed. This is nothing less than demoralizing and polarizing as everybody seeks to become a "victim." 

To give readers some idea of what is being argued, I include below a couple of sections highlighted by Haidt. Bracketed comments are by Haidt. 

A) Microaggression as Overstratification
According to Black (2011), as noted above, changes in stratification, intimacy, and diversity cause conflict. Microaggression complaints are largely about changes in stratification. They document actions said to increase the level of inequality in a social relationship – actions Black refers to as "overstratification." Overstratification offenses occur whenever anyone rises above or falls below others in status. [Therefore…] a morality that privileges equality and condemns oppression is most likely to arise precisely in settings that already have relatively high degrees of equalityIn modern Western societies, egalitarian ethics have developed alongside actual political and economic equality.As women moved into the workforce in large numbers, became increasingly educated, made inroads into highly paid professions such as law and medicine, and became increasingly prominent in local, state, and national politics, sexism became increasingly deviant. The taboo has grown so strong that making racist statements, even in private, might jeopardize the careers of celebrities or the assets of businessmen (e.g., Fenno, Christensen, and Rainey 2014; Lynch 2013). [p.706-707] [In other words, as progress is made toward a more equal and humane society, it takes a smaller and smaller offense to trigger a high level of outrage. The goalposts shift, allowing participants to maintain a constant level of anger and constant level of perceived victimization.]

B) Microaggression as underdiversity
Microaggression offenses also tend to involve what Black calls "underdiversity" – the rejection of a culture. Large acts of underdiversity include things like genocide or political oppression, while smaller acts include ethnic jokes or insults. The publicizers of microaggressions are concerned with the latter, as well as more subtle, perhaps inadvertent, cultural slights…. Just as overstratification conflict varies inversely with stratification, underdiversity conflict varies directly with diversity (Black 2011:139). Attempts to increase stratification, we saw, are more deviant where stratification is at a minimum; likewise, attempts to decrease diversity are more deviant where diversity is at a maximum. In modern Western societies, an ethic of cultural tolerance – and often incompatibly, intolerance of intolerance – has developed in tandem with increasing diversity. Since microaggression offenses normally involve overstratification and underdiversity, intense concern about such offenses occurs at the intersection of the social conditions conducive to the seriousness of each. It is in egalitarian and diverse settings – such as at modern American universities – that equality and diversity are most valued, and it is in these settings that perceived offenses against these values are most deviant. [p.707]. [Again, the paradox: places that make the most progress toward equality and diversity can expect to have the "lowest bar" for what counts as an offense against equality and inclusivity. Some colleges have lowered the bar so far that an innocent question, motivated by curiosity, such as "where are you from" is now branded as an act of aggression.]

C) Victimhood as Virtue
When the victims publicize microaggressions they call attention to what they see as the deviant behavior of the offenders. In doing so they also call attention to their own victimization. Indeed, many ways of attracting the attention and sympathy of third parties emphasize or exacerbate the low status of the aggrieved. People portray themselves as oppressed by the powerful – as damaged, disadvantaged, and needy. [They describe such practices going back to ancient Rome and India] … But why emphasize one's victimization? Certainly the distinction between offender and victim always has moral significance, lowering the offender's moral status. In the settings such as those that generate microaggression catalogs, though, where offenders are oppressors and victims are the oppressed, it also raises the moral status of the victims. This only increases the incentive to publicize grievances, and it means aggrieved parties are especially likely to highlight their identity as victims, emphasizing their own suffering and innocence. Their adversaries are privileged and blameworthy, but they themselves are pitiable and blameless. [p.707-708] [This is the great tragedy: the culture of victimization rewards people for taking on a personal identity as one who is damaged, weak, and aggrieved. This is a recipe for failure — and constant litigation — after students graduate from college and attempt to enter the workforce].

Haidt's analysis is well worth your attention (and awfully dispiriting).

NEXT: Cops Need Your Help to Find This Public Menace: A Man Who Asked a Young Girl for Directions

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  1. …we are experiencing the emergence of a victimhood culture that is distinct from the honor cultures and dignity cultures of the past.

    The next distinct culture to crop up? Self-reliance and thick-skinnedness.

    1. That’s an optimistic view. I think we seeing the beginning of a takeover of our culture by an internally inconsistent culture. Once it reaches critical mass, we’ll have some kind of social or ethical calamity that will grind a generation or two under it’s stagnating boot. Then maybe people will wake up, if we’re not already irreparably harmed as a society by that time.

      2500 years of the world’s best ethics, philosophy, legal principles and institutions down the drain, is what I think we’ll see happen.

    2. Actually, that’s pretty close to the dignity culture. In the dignity culture, the law is a last resort.

    3. That would be the dignity culture.

      1. Or what Nikki said.

    4. even if it is, this stuff manifests over generations.

      We won’t be alive to see it.

      1. Yes, you’ll be alive to see it. It’s happening right now, right before our eyes.
        My theory is that, socialists have had a hard time advancing their cause in America. So, rather than try to sell a large-scale social program (universal healthcare, free housing, etc) sell victimhood instead. Thus, people should receive free healthcare because their poor health is not their own fault, it’s those tobacco companies and coal companies, etc. If you don’t already know, check out how Barny Frank’s “redling” of the 1990’s became the housing meltdown of the 2000’s.

  2. This is the great tragedy: the culture of victimization rewards people for taking on a personal identity as one who is damaged, weak, and aggrieved.


    1. The question is why, and I have an idea. As government hands out more and more benefits to more and more specialized groups, fraud increases, and others resent seeing people get benefits they don’t deserve. But there are so many degrees of deserving that questioning any individual’s deservedness is an unwinnable argument. So instead people try to get in on the deservedness pool, to find some means to rationalize receiving benefits they know they don’t really deserve. Publicly declaring oneself a victim of some sort is the easiest way, because most benefits are targeted to victims of one sort or another, and being a victim makes it harder for others to refute.

      Eventually people have self-declared their victimhood so much that they come to believe it, and hearing others protest about too many benefits increases this sense of victimhood.

      1. And benefits can be a broad category; beyond material support is a governmental policy grant prmiae facie status to anyone of a “protected class” to claim discrimination, placing the burden of proving themselves innocent upon the accused. This of course came about as a result of a perceived need to redress a legacy of wrongs, but as Mr. Johnson put it, the road to perdition is [paved with] good intentions. We now have successive generations of persons who believe they are perpetually entitled to unlimited redress to the extent that it has become a way of life, and victim hood a permanent entitlement. And of course there are no end of politicians who play on this; I need not name them as I am sure you know who they are.

      2. “Eventually people have self-declared their victimhood so much that they come to believe it,”

        Is this sort of like the hollywood actress who “portrayed a prostitute once“, so now believes she has moral authority to insist that they be jailed?…. to prevent their “exploitation”….

      3. Did Rand not nail this decades ago, when she noted that societies like this use misery as a currency?

        1. Yes. But Rand went much deeper in explaining where these collectivist cultural trends come from: it’s about morality. Though a society where wounds and failures are exalted would seem a nightmarish hell on earth, it is an entirely predictable consequence of altruism.

          1. Rand made a disingenuous definition of altruism, looking only at the case where it is used to steal from the wealthy, to transfer (not give) to needy. In the case where a person wants to give HIS OWN wealth for altruistic purposes, Rand blindly ignores that.

            I begrudge Rand for this and several other big faults.

            1. In her non-fiction she explicitly says that giving if you want is perfectly morally defensible. It inheres in property rights, something of which she was undoubtedly a champion. The problem is that she saw the inevitable downside to altruism and so she “mostly” became known for her railings against it. But I don’t necessarily disagree with you.

            2. My recollection is that Rand in fact regarded charitable giving as virtuous, as it imbued both giver and receiver with moral and material benefits. Government-forced giving, however, results in the giver being deprived of the virtue of altruism and instead feeling resentment, while the receiver develops a sense of entitlement.

    2. In Soviet America, the victim oppresses you.

      1. No shit, Sherlock! That’s what ah’m talkin’ about!

        In the old days, you saw a blind or crippled person, you took pity on them, helped them out.

        In these days, you see a “victim”, you grab your wallet and go hide it, ’cause you know, in the next second or two, the “victim” is going to gang up with the cops and the politicians and the tax-man, and come and ROB your ass!!!!

  3. Maybe these people should squat more.

    1. Now you’re just expecting too much.

      1. I’m just saying: firm, attractive buttocks and whining are incompatible. It’s math. Trust me, I’m a doctor.


          Dr. Warty, do you think my buttocks are firm and attractive enough?

          1. Do you have too much money? Do you have too much cocaine? Have you had sex with too many high school girls? Ponder this on the Tree of Woe. CRUCIFY HIM.

            1. I don’t understand the question, Dr. Warty. What is this “too much” and “too many” you speak of?

              1. Follow-ups are for the weak.

            2. You killed my father, you killed my people, Dr. Warty! Also, unrelated to my surplus excess, I have this discoloration on my privilege…

        2. Using this anatomically correct model, show the court exactly where Warty touched your firm and attractive buttocks…

          1. It’d be much quicker to show where he DIDN’T touch them.

  4. Jeez, Ron, way to steal the best post I had lined up for PM Links.

    1. That’s what you get for holding out. What if you had died before then?

    2. Maybe now you won’t have any reason to enter the PM Links post at all. Once you’re away from it for a couple of days the stench is unbearable.

      1. I’m not surprised you have no sense of fun.

      2. There hasn’t been any reason to enter the PM Links for like two years now.

        1. Are you kidding? The PM Links contain dozens of informative articles about Donald Trump, what other presidential candidates think about Donald Trump, and analysis of polls gauging reaction to Donald Trump.

    3. Dude, Elizabeth Stoker Breunig has three articles up since August 25 and they’re all retarded.

      I’ll tell you what, I’ll post one in PM links and you get your pick of the other two. In one of them she claims welfare is causing Sweden’s startup boom, completely ignoring that evil Capitalist America is the number one country on Earth in that category and no other social democracies perform very well. So she cherry picked one example and claimed it was because of their welfare system.

      And she refers to a company called Klarna as an ‘e-commerce giant’ that is ‘Sweden’s Amazon’ despite the fact that Klarna has 1200 employees and Amazon has 120,000. It’s like a smorgasbord of obtuse idiocy and confirmation bias.

      1. I hate it when you two fight.

        1. But the makeup sex is SO good.

          1. Irish becomes a victim of ESB’s pterodactyl tooth.

          2. I talked to her on twitter and I don’t think she likes me. 🙁

            I pulled her pig tail because it’s my understanding that’s how you let a girl know you like like her instead of just like her, but then she was all ‘let’s discuss communism’ and I was all ‘the Pope is the leader of a religious cult built on unfathomable human suffering’ and so I don’t think it’s going to work out.

            1. Wait, no Gibbs slap? Come on, Irish, you’re slipping.

            2. NEVER make her pancakes, Irish. Make HER make YOU pancakes.

            3. She’s like 12 right?

              1. She certainly looks that way. I don’t get the infatuation at all.

      2. Amazon doesn’t serve Sweden?

        1. Amazon does not ship to Sweden because the only thing Sweden imports is Iaqis, Iranians, Syrians, and Somalis.

  5. I’m a victim he’s a victim she’s a victim we’re all victims wouldn’t you like to be a victim to? Be a victim, drink of the Kool-Aid…

    1. I am a victim of this comment.

    2. Kool Aid is a dog whistle, racist.

    3. Didn’t the Kool-Aid man explain it was Flavor-Ade?

  6. Note the incredible amount of victimhood among today’s fundamentalist Christians. Their religion is constantly “under attack” by the media, government, and secular forces.

    1. You’re the one who always claims to be a victim of fundamentalist Christians.

      1. Only to the extent that they control the government and limit freedom.

        Personally, I don’t have to deal with them.

        1. Only to the extent that they control the government and limit freedom.

          So, hardly at all. As shown by the fact that you don’t have to deal with them.

          Good to know.

          1. He will stagger into the comments one night, down the road, all coked up or drunk and whinging about being in SOCONland – it has happened before, it will happen again. Persecution complex, I reckon.

    2. Yeah, they are part of it too. Everyone wants to be a whiny fuck.

  7. This is all quite true, and ties into something I read in a fanzine in the early ’70s. It was a table, supposedly from a work of sociology, of the differing characteristics of patriarchal and matriarchal cultures. The former were concerned with honor, the latter with fairness, etc. Everything lined up with the Old Establishment/Age of Aquarius split of the day, with one exception: the fear of patriarchies was homosexuality, and the fear of matriarchies was child molestation. At the time, one could see fear of homosexuality going away, but there seemed to be no corresponding rising fear of child molestation. But of course, by the ’80s, there was.

    I have periodically searched Google to find a copy of this table, but haven’t been able to.

    1. Yeah, we got a similar thang when I was in law school in the eighties.

      The big issue, I think, was “what matriarchal culture are you talking about”?

      Also, the assumption that “fairness” was superior in some way to “legality” (our take on it, where compliance with known rules (“legality”) was somehow an inferior evolutionary stage to going with my feelz (“fairness”)).

      1. I have periodically searched Google to find a copy of this table, but haven’t been able to.

        Wasn’t this in Prometheus Rising?

        1. I read that and didn’t remember it from there. I just searched a PDF of it for “matriarchal” and “patriarchal” and they get no hits.

          1. Aha! I found it. It was in Ishtar Rising, not Prometheus Rising. (Or as it was originally known, The Book of the Breast.)

            I’m not sure if this is the chart you were thinking of, but there’s a good chance it is. If you don’t have a copy of the book, email me and I can send you the chart. It’s in chapter four.

            1. Thanks Jesse, I actually have a copy that I hadn’t read (though I’ve read most of the rest of RAW). And it looks close to, but not exactly, what I remember. So there might be variations floating around. But now that see this, I remember that it was “incest” that was the fear, not “child molestation.”

              Thanks again!

  8. “…the emergence of a victimhood culture…”

    So, I’m assuming the use of the word “emergence” is so they can avoid being called racists?

  9. So these incentives to become a victim are because victimhood confers a… privilege.
    When will all these SJWs check their damn privilege?

  10. Victimhood is a very comforting thing to embrace because it places all the blame for failure on others, rather than on the group and/or individual who claims to be a victim of something. Plus, victims can never be criticized because they’ve suffered too much already. Needless to say, the vast majority of so-called victims make me want to puke my guts out.

    1. Victimhood culture has a bedrock foundation of the rejection of personal responsibility. Nothing is a person’s fault; it’s everyone else’s fault. It’s society, or racism, or poverty.

      A lot of people hate personal responsibility. And it seems these people are finding victimhood culture to be very attractive because it advocates rejecting personal responsibility. Of course, if no one is responsible for their own actions…who is responsible for anything? And this is why they have to have some hated enemies who are responsible for everything bad.

      It’s almost less of a culture and more of a religion.

      1. “It’s almost less of a culture and more of a religion.”

        Absolutely, since it relies on ‘faith’ (I feel victimized, therefore I am) more than demonstrable evidence (identifying who victimized them and in what way). These victim wannabes are an affront to actual victims who have actually been harmed.

        1. “I feel victimized, therefore I am”


          1. “I feel victimized, therefore I am”

            It does do away with that pesky existentialist requirement that thought precedes existence.

          2. “I feel victimized, therefore I am”

            It does do away with that pesky existentialist requirement that thought precedes existence.

            1. Although it doesn’t do much about those pesky squirrels.

      2. I hate personal responsibility, too. It’s too much like blaming me for my own problems! But then again, I’m not finding comfort in the idea that it’s not *really* my fault – it just makes me MORE miserable, since it holds that there’s nothing I can do to help myself. It’s sort of like what that Shakespeare guy said:

        Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
        The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
        Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
        And by opposing end them.

      3. everybody hates personal responsibility. ive always seen it as a cop out to blame anything on anyone else. i dunno how much control i actually have over my own life, but i bet it’s more than anyone else

    1. Her entire talk is so sick that I think she’s joined ENB, Cathy Young, Aki Muthali and Christina Hoff Sommers on my list of Good Feminists.

      1. As far as I am aware, most of her work is directed at fighting the British surveillance state, as opposed to women’s issues.

  11. We cannot allow a victimization gap!

  12. On the plus side, all these people who see themselves as aggreived victims are not likely to be terribly successful in life, which may be a self-limiting factor. In 20 years, they will be object lessons for children to learn how NOT to respond to minor sleights.

    1. That’s assuming they haven’t taken over the institutions of enforcement and punishment that the authors acknowledge as the hallmarks of a dignity society. Grievance mongering on the taxpayer dime.

      1. They already own the academic world and the media and they seem to have congress and pretty much all public officials terrified of them and doing their bidding. Anyone who tries to stand up to them is immediately attacked and silenced.

        I don’t see how this ends well.

        1. Yes, one of the horrors of bloated, intrusive government is that it gives excessive power and influence to academics, who train and indoctrinate the bureaucrats. Without the statist bureaucracy to reify their ideas, liberal arts academia would just be a bunch of relatively harmless kooks.

          1. Yes, one of the horrors of bloated, intrusive government is that it gives excessive power and influence to academics, who train and indoctrinate the bureaucrats.

            Something Eisenhower warned about in his Farewell Address and the left deliberately ignored for the last 55 years because they didn’t want to acknowledge that the MIC was just a symptom of this mentality, not the cause.

            1. “Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

              In this revolution, research has become central, it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

              Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

              The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present ? and is gravely to be regarded.

              Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

        2. I don’t see how this ends well.

          It ends with Trump winning the presidency and the Second Era of the Fascist State. We will have the Honor Culture that goes to war with other Honor Cultures over the least of slights.

        3. There’s also the reality that some of the “victimized” are people who are victims of being associated with the victimizing class. I know a couple people who are always seeking out avenues to self flagellation to make them feel better about the fact that they were white, with two parents, and went to private school from preschool to graduate school.

          I of course, am now the oppressor for paying my way through school and not loosing a whole lot of sleep over the self defeating behaviors of the oppressorless oppressed.

      2. “That’s assuming they haven’t taken over the institutions of enforcement and punishment”

        Demolition Man

    2. If there are enough of them, they will find ways to change things to work to their advantage. Just voting for more free shit is already happening. Getting student loans dismissed will be another. And so on.

    3. Precisely. What are the self-enforcing characteristics of this culture? Honor/dignity cultures can thrive because people have the incentive to protect their own, and they’re able to do so without directly infringing on others’ interests. Don’t take my stuff, I won’t take yours, no one gets hurt.

      It seems like the culture described here can only exist at the expense of others. It necessitates conflict. And the authors’ major point is that victimhood culture produces divisive and sad people. Won’t that naturally lose steam? Haidt suggests they provide historical examples of such cultures, so maybe this is answered in the paper. I need to find my Kindle.

      1. And the authors’ major point is that victimhood culture produces divisive and sad people. Won’t that naturally lose steam?

        This is a very salient point, because there’s plenty of examples just in the 20th century of the evolution of Marxist states. It’s no coincidence that these victim movements employ the methodologies of cultural Marxism as their keystone, because it’s a philosophy that has the victimhood of the proletariat as its foundational ethos.

        Marxist nations and peoples thrive on drama and conflict. Isolating them actually exacerbates the problem because it gives them a narrative of further victimhood–“See, those running-dog capitalists continue to oppress you!!”–as we’ve seen in Cuba and North Korea. When they’re compelled to engage outside their ideological bubbles, they tend to fall apart as their narratives existentially break down. In a related fashion, this is why academia has become so intellectually inbred, especially in libarts/humanities–these are people who deliberately and unapologetically isolate themselves within a very narrow professional and personal circle, and typically can’t engage opposing arguments without erecting strawmen and employing the most grotesque caricatures.

    4. Yes, but they are useful idiots for those who know how to manipulate them. Which frankly, isn’t all that hard.

  13. The thing is, this “culture” of which they speak is not across all people. There are people who absolutely engage in what the article discusses, and for them, that analysis is pretty spot-on. But there are lots and lots of people who want no part of their new culture. So even though the analysis makes interesting points, it fails to analyse the friction point that is being created between those who want the victimhood culture, and those who would prefer to stick with the dignity culture (or even go back to an honor culture).

    That friction is where a lot of the action is going on. That friction is what is producing support for Trump, for instance. They analyse this new emergent culture, but in no way examine how it competes with the existing cultures. And that is where things are going to matter.

    1. “That friction is what is producing support for Trump, for instance.”

      Yeah, I think at least some of his appeal to people is that he refuses to apologize or pander to every twit head who gets their panties in a bunch over what he says.

      1. You know who else refuses to apologize or pander to every twit head who gets their panties in a bunch over what she says does?

        1. Helen Keller?

        2. Tyler Durden?

        3. Everett True? (Got that one from Jesse W.)

    2. So even though the analysis makes interesting points, it fails to analyse the friction point that is being created between those who want the victimhood culture, and those who would prefer to stick with the dignity culture (or even go back to an honor culture).

      Someone didn’t RTFA.

  14. Meh… for one thing, like a lot of Haidt’s work, this nice model of distinct cultures sounds like a pleasing, just-so story. There probably is a lot of truth to it and the model can be useful, but I think they should never be taken that seriously.

    More importantly, do we realistically think this culture will find widespread acceptance? I live in a predominantly black neighborhood, and I don’t hear any bitching about being microaggressed. Will the gas station attendant in Michigan complain about her petty grievance? A farmer in Iowa? A bank teller in Reno? There will always be opportunistic dbags using whatever they can to screw over others, so I’m sure we will see instances of “victimhood culture.” Some people/companies will be successfully sued. But I still don’t see this phenomenon as moving too far beyond idle, college-educated whites.

    I hope I’m right, anyway.

    1. Good point. The academic/cable news/blogosphere world doesn’t always bear a lot of resemblance to the real world we experiance daily outside of social media. You run into it but most people you meet just have no interest in that shit.

      1. But it matters because the academics create the next generation of government bureaucrats. They will have the power to force that culture on us in many areas whether it gains widespread acceptance or not.

        1. See, also, the metastasizing of “yes means yes” “affirmative consent” into the criminal law.

        2. Some of them. And some of the judges and legislators will be, too. I still don’t see it as that threatening, as I think all but a few of the hardcore naturally grow out of it.

          1. A few hardcore people can lead an army of the disinterested off the cliff to genocide. Ex: Germany

    2. ” I still don’t see this phenomenon as moving too far beyond idle, college-educated whites.”


    3. It could also be that the right has taken virtually random, disparate instances and inadvertently mashed together an over-the-top strawman caricature of the SJW idea and just ran with it. No one’s immune to self-pity and playing the victim.

      1. I have no doubt that the victim culture is alive and well in the USA on the left and the right. Because victimhood confers an advantage, mostly political, everyone is angling for it.

        At the same time, everyone knows that libertarians are the most picked on.

        1. I have strong doubts about the “advantage” part, but whether there are or not, self-pity is a very powerful, very seductive feeling. People will go for it even if it’s to their disadvantage (especially 18-24 year olds) and even if they really have to stretch to find something to feel victimized about. And there’s always going to be someone ready to play to that feeling and take advantage of it.

          1. It gives a political advantage primarily because it mobilizes voters. Victimhood and Honor cultures are the logical results of identity politics that play one tribe off another.

      2. Nope. Not “random, disparate” at all. We’re seeing this “culture” being codified and imposed through codes of conduct, personnel policies, regulatory policies, civil case law, criminal law (“yes means yes”, “hate crimes”), etc. The Victimhood Culture has actual victims.

      3. Article, paper – read them?

        1. Yes, and I don’t really buy it. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If this is indeed a vast conspiracy controlling everything I need more than the grumpings of some mediocre academics.

          Now, what I see is people – ordinary, normal people, acting independently, overreacting to scare stories and moral panics, and doing things that will cover their asses in a legal situation or make them look like they’re “doing something”. What I don’t see is the cadre of Evil Socialist feminzai homofascists who you claim to be orchestrating this. And I don’t think they’re there to be seen unless you have some extraordinary evidence to prove otherwise.

          1. People in large numbers “doing things that will cover their asses in a legal situation” is having a devastating impact on personal liberty and our economy.

            1. I’m not denying that. Ron Paul once referred to this type of situation as “a conspiracy of ideas”, and I think that’s at the heart of this situation.

          2. I didn’t read the article yet. I will try to.

            I agree that there isn’t some vast conspiracy. There almost never is. These things tend to be emergent phenomena, like most cultural shifts.

            But I do think there are people that are trying to take advantage of and co-opt and steer the culture in ways that give them more power and prestige.

            How widespread is it? I don’t know. I see it in my professional sphere, no doubt. I see a little of it in my personal sphere, but not much. Reason may very well bias my views by focusing on these types of stories.

            1. I don’t know what to say. Personally, I find myself being where George Carlin used to be – kinda to the left of center but absolutely no patience for the language games and bullshit a lot of people on the left have gotten mired into.

              I’ll agree that there are people who are really a pain in the ass over this, that there people who do and say stupid things. But I’ll stick with my premise that a lot of the hue and cry over PC comes from yet another dreary round of victim poker. To the extent that “something big” is going on, I’d guess that it’s part of the GenX/Boomer culture that people indulge in, that you have to feel bad about yourself regardless of whether you need to, regardless of politics.

    4. The original paper is not Haidt’s. His commentary is in brackets.

    5. I hope you’re right. The thing is, the dominant culture in a society ultimately doesn’t need to reflect everyone, or even a majority of people. It really only needs to reflect those who are in the key cultural, political and commercial touchpoints. And it doesn’t really seem too much of a stretch to see these touchpoints as within the reach of the victim culture.

      1. Barring evidence to the contrary, I think I am. I take a cue from “The Great Satanic Rock and Roll” moral panic. At the time, as a teenage Ozzy fan, I would have said yes if asked if I thought “The Man” was coming after my records.

        As the years passed and I took a look back, I really saw the whole thing as people taking advantage of the latent fears of others in order to sell books, be famous and others giving in their fears, not of Lemmy corrupting American youth but of getting sued or hassled because they weren’t doing enough to suit the people caught up in the panic.

        I may be wrong, but I kinda think the American Way of Life will pull through, as always.

        1. I think you might be misunderstanding what I’m saying. I don’t think there’s some master villain twirling his or her mustache to ruin our way of life. I think the “conspiracy of ideas” reference captures the problem.

          Still, I think there’s a tremendous amount of damage that something like this can cause. And it isn’t clear to me that its a phenomenon that will necessarily burn itself out. As the hyper-regulatory state continues to grow and as the Attendance Ribbon generation continues to become the dominant demographic, this phenomenon is only reinforced.

          1. Yeah, I kinda missed a bit.

            Still, I don’t think there’s much to worry about. There will always be idiots doing damage and setting bad precedents, but there will always be some successes to balance that out (FIRE, for example, has a rather tidy sum of successes and they’re still going strong). So long as people keep an eye on things I don’t see the situation getting out of hand.

            1. As I said before, I hope you’re right.

              But, let me ask you a question. How many people that are engaged in the victim culture games do you really ever see having a change of heart? To me, they’ve gone so far with their actions that I really don’t ever see them being able to turn back. To do so would be to admit that they’ve been behaving like monsters (destroying people’s lives, acting like a lynch mob, etc.). While I understand redemption is possible, I tend not to think it’s very plausible in large groups.

              1. While I understand redemption is possible, I tend not to think it’s very plausible in large groups.

                A good example of that is the resolute unrepentance of most Jim Crow southern racists. They died with their hoods on.

  15. The Western world is committing a slow and painful suicide.

    1. It’s really only painful for those who won’t give in and embrace the downward spiral.

  16. “it also raises the moral status of the victims”

    It’s interesting because I have talked to young people who confered almost a status of nobility on members of a victim group solely based on that fact. People that they do not personally know. I would ask them how they know that person is not a total asshole. It seems like they had never thought of that before.

    1. They don’t think. They trade in symbols and totems and absolutes as much as any orthodoxy.

  17. of a victimhood culture that is distinct from the honor cultures and dignity cultures of the past. If true, this bodes really bad for future social and political peace.

    Hey, when you can get invited to the white house because you told a wild tale of something that didn’t happen to you, the incentives are strong.

  18. I was thinking about this a bit the other night. Why don’t transgender people want to be called whatever gender they wish to identify as? Why can’t you call a transwoman a woman and a transman a man? If gender is a meaningless social construct, then why be any gender at all?

    The best answer I could come up with is that it has to do with victimhood and specialness. Transpeople need to be transpeople because that’s more special than being man or woman. Plus, this way they can avoid taking on the privilege of whatever gender they’re switching to thus allowing them to retain their victimhood.

    1. You are absolutely supposed to call (most of) them “women” and “men.” Transwoman does not contrast with woman, it contrasts with ciswoman. That’s the whole point of introducing “cis” for this purpose.

      1. You are absolutely supposed to call (most of) them “women” and “men.”

        But, dude, that’s like gayer than sucking 37 dicks. In a row.

        You wouldn’t suck 37 dicks in a row, now would you?

        1. “Hey, where are you going?!”

      2. I guess I must be reading the wrong Internet garbage.

      3. “Social justice” nuts can scream “cis” all they want, but when that realistically translates to “normal” for an overwhelming majority of human beings, their politically correct rebranding terms are not going to gain much traction.

      4. The whole point of introducing “cis” was so that transpeople wouldn’t be the only ones with prefixes. Which, once again, puts the lie to the “What does it matter to you?” claim about gay and trans rights. They say that, and the next thing you know, you’re “cis” and you’d better approve of gay marriage, or we’ll end your career.

    2. The intuitive concepts of “male” and “female” so closely link gender and sex that there will always be a separate term for trans people. A transwoman is literally not the same as a biological woman, and everyone on Earth knows it, even the LGBTLMNOP “activists” who claim otherwise. There will be no future utopia where trans people are perceived to be exactly the same as everyone else.

  19. You get more of what you reward . . . .

    Setting up incentive structures that reward weakness and the rejection of personal agency and responsibility will lead to . . . what?

    1. A stay in the Lincoln Bedroom?

        1. +1 John Lee Hooker

          1. Needs one more.


            There, I feel better.

  20. I think you can trace it back to rise of socialism from the upheaval caused by the industrial revolution.

    Those early socialists were concerned (and rightly so) about some real power imbalances between the working class and burgeoning upper class. Their solutions were awful but they identified some real problems.

    Fast forward 100 years and most of the institutional power imbalances, and many of the cultural ones, are largely gone. But the intellectual heirs of the early socialists need *some* injustice to fight against, or else they are irrelevant. So they champion anyone that can claim to be oppressed or marginalized. And the iron laws being what they are, you get more of what you reward. So in 2015 we have an emerging victimhood culture.

    Incidentally, Trump is a distilled version of the “right’s” reaction to this. It’s all the anger of the people who have been accused of being oppressors manifesting itself.

    It’s not pretty. I hope it’s not sustainable, either.

    1. I don’t think you need to go back 150 years.

      I think this is almost entirely people who are desperately trying to replicate the lifelong moral authority of those who were on the right side of the civil rights movement 50 – 60 years ago.

      Since there isn’t any oppression going on now that is within an order of magnitude of the Jim Crow era, they have to invent some terrible injustice that they can righteously attack. The fact that the best they can do is gay marriage and (now) tranny rights shows just how far we have come.

      And nothing pisses them off more than living in a society that really is very tolerant.

      1. You’ve got it. The activists, who are in my experience usually people with a specific mindset and worldview, didn’t disappear. They accomplished their big goals, and with nothing else to do, they’ve focused on smaller and smaller “crimes” until they have reached this point.

      2. The campaign for marriage equality (and the earlier campaign for abolishing sodomy laws) involved very little participation on the part of the “SJW” crowd, and were not based on what I’ll sloppily call postmodern theory (IMHO, those are the reasons why they succeeded). The hard SJWs insist both campaigns only benefited upper-middle-class white men and the Proud Queer Warriors insist that at least the marriage campaign was “assimilationist”. I think the real complaint here is that the gains made by gay men and lesbians didn’t come at the expense of anyone else (except maybe blowhards like Kim Davis). Progressivism seems to value sacrifice for its own sake, especially sacrifice imposed on others. The idea of something good with no offsetting downside seems impossible for some to contemplate.

        I should point out that in the SJW hierarchy, male-born gay men, especially if they’re white, are at best Junior Shitlords, barely distinguishable from the Enemy. We’re considered a priviliged group, and therefore more Oppressor than Oppressed.

    2. Those early socialists were concerned (and rightly so) about some real power imbalances between the working class and burgeoning upper middle class. Their solutions were awful but they identified some real problems.

      It was the Bourgeoisie that the Proletariat was so concerned about, and so hateful toward, that they would consider Marx’s and Engel’s call for their annihilation. As I mention below, I think that the lower classes and the upper classes had worked out a balance of sorts in the Patronage system. But then along came the Bourgeoisie and their meritocracy to throw a proverbial wrench in the works. Of course Marx’s followers wanted a system owned and run by themselves, and they wanted to do away with the power of the upper classes. But they were/are OK with Top Men filling the emptied palaces of the upper classes and assuming the role of patron. They were not OK with a continuing role for the Middle Class of professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners.

  21. Part II:

    We are seeing a paroxysm of public participation investigations against elderly men in the U.K. which have already lead to lengthy prison sentences and suicides with rarely more than the testimony of one, now middle-aged “survivor”, necessary to destroy the remaining years or months of feeble pensioners often caught unawares while they were enjoying what was supposed to be their sunset years. Now those years will be spent in Her Majesty’s prisons in the conceit that the old men (and they are almost always men) actually pose a terrible danger to the public.

    You can wake up now, or later, depending upon just how great of a fool you would like to see yourself as but, like it or not, we are in the middle of a very great social justice debacle including, or especially, here in the U.S.

    It’s time we all take a moment to ask ourselves what kind of a world we want to live in and to come to the inevitable conclusion that one run by obsessives, hysterics and sadistic tyrants is not a future we would want for ourselves or our children.

    1. one run by obsessives, hysterics and sadistic tyrants is not a future we would want for ourselves or our children.

      Well, unless you are an obsessive, a hysteric, and/or a sadistic tyrant.

      Then it is the future you want. Which explains the voting returns for the last several elections.

  22. We are now seeing, wholesale, the confabulation of victimhood where no genuine article, by any rational standard, exists. Extravagantly choreographed by those self-proclaimed, these victims assert their sexual victimization years, or even decades, after they are said to have been committed and “discovered” by them, retrospectively, through newly-gained, and previously unavailable, sensibilities .

    Key to this process is a ready accessibility to an elaborate, if infantile, sort of Hammurabic Code authored, most visibly, by feminists, who have conferred upon it a legitimacy which it ill-deserves but which is, nonetheless, legitimated by the silence of those who have watched its rise with some alarm but who have remained disengaged and unresponsive.

    This code affords the nascent victim with the armaments necessary to properly reinterpret sexual acts engaged in willingly and eagerly in their youth as rape, given today’s gloriously encompassing – and rapidly expanding – standards for what comprises it.

    Continues below

    1. Didn’t we already have that debacle here in the states? The ‘recovered memory’ horseshit that has been, as far as I know, completely discredited?

      Y’all are just now getting around to that? Until it was thoroughly discredited here it was the ideal powerful weapon for SJWs to crush undesirables.

      1. This is different. The people in question remember the sexual encounters, but they’ve been convinced by extremist feminists that those encounters were actually non-consensual. (Because they involved alcohol, because they weren’t in the mood but did it to keep their S.O. happy, because they were willfully engaging in self-destructive behavior, etc.)

  23. “…the culture of victimization rewards people for taking on a personal identity as one who is damaged, weak, and aggrieved. This is a recipe for failure- ”

    “The purpose of demoralization is to make it so that no matter how much information a demoralized person has they cannot draw a sensible conclusion. So they cannot defend themselves, their families or their country.” – Yuri Bezmenov, former KGB propagandist turned whistleblower

    1. I get a kick out of Bezmenov. My son turns 13 this year and one of his assignments from me is to watch the Yuri interviews.

      1. Nice! Good job Dad.

      2. That is most excellent.

    2. I should add that the entities that hope to profit from this are not foreign. There is no looming foreign enemy ready to storm our shores. Rather, they are those of our own who wish to fundamentally change our nation from within. They, of course, will be our new leaders.

      1. You give them too much credit. In more civilized times, we would’ve called these people bullies. That they’ve found bulletproof method of bullying people via PC standards rather than, say, medieval theological standards we’d consider obscure today is coincidence. As a fellow son of the South, I’m sure you’ve noticed the same creepy similarities between blowhard fundamentalist Christians and blowhard SJWs that I have. I’m to the point where I think of them as exactly the same people, with their ideologies being basically window dressing that excuses their real goal, which is to be as obnoxious and inhumane as they like.

        This type of personality wants to sneer at others and establish a pecking order with themselves at the top, and the victimhood narrative just happens to be the one that works for today’s lefty culture warriors.

        1. I have noted many times in my life that the most viciously militant atheists were often the most fire-and-brimstone theists before they discarded religion.

        2. Rebecca Bradley sees the same thing: http://www.skepticink.com/late…..-movement/

        3. …I’m sure you’ve noticed the same creepy similarities between blowhard fundamentalist Christians and blowhard SJWs that I have.

          They also have millenarianism in common, although for the SJWs the apocalypse is environmental rather than divine.

  24. We’re all victims now.

    1. Victim privilege?

  25. Could you imagine having a boss who espouses this world view?

    1. If you work in HR then you probably already do.

    2. But, no worries?the company will fail quickly and you’ll be out of there.

  26. Dunbar’s Number. It explains a lot of what is going on.


    1. ^This^

      Even on this forum (nearly from the first post), you can see “Poe’s Law” type of situations where people who are obviously satirizing something are being co-opted into one culture or the other and actual perceptions and inferred biases are whittled away to fit the poster’s narrative.

      Dignity culture, where people are peacefully ushered into the Gulags under the rule of law, doesn’t do violence the way the honor culture does. Not to say that it’s better to have two leaders, on a point of honor, facing off against one another with nuclear weapons, even if they don’t end up using them, but that we’re talking about a best-guess judgement of two vaguely distinguished classes as applied to nondescript populations/governments throughout history.

      IMO, honor and dignity are opposite sides of the same coin and acting like a culture or person can’t have or exchange both (and still be a victim) is a gross over-simplification.

  27. I wonder whether this development is not merely a resurgence of Patronage. The victims, in this case, are the clients and government is the patron. Clients beseech their patrons by arguments of victimization and needs beyond their capability, while giving them the honor they desperately seek. Patrons buy honor from their clients with material and and non-material gifts.

    The Patriarchy is a bad patron(s) while Matriarchy is the more caring and nurturing patron.

    Furthermore, the main three socioeconomic classes seem to represent and subscribe to different cultural systems. The upper classes are still very much representative of honor/shame. The middle classes are dignity or meritocratic. And the lower and victim classes are still clients of various patronages.

    Does this make any sense?

    1. Lower and middle class are not that easily divided. The employer, presence of a union, and location are much bigger factors in what type of society a middle or lower class person subscribes to than if they are middle or lower.

      1. Agreed. When I think of Class, though, I think of Paul Fussell’s definition. As you may know, Fussell defines Class as more a matter of the social culture that one is born and raised in rather than one of economic status. As such one’s worldview and motivations are inherent in one’s class.

  28. A really insidious part of this phenomenon is how we call people murdered by terrorists or crazy people “heroes”, regardless of whether they were actually doing anything heroic. Of course Reason does this too when it comes to Charlie Hebdo.

  29. To combat this trend, I propose we return to the classic retort “Oh shut up, you snivelling little maggot.”

  30. “victims, emphasizing their own suffering and innocence.”

    But this only works in a Christian culture, where identification with the “innocent victim” resonates with the Christ image.

    Cultures that are not Christian likewise have no particular empathy with victims. For instance, traditional Chinese culture will not exhibit microaggressions in the same way or for the same reason, assuming it exhibits microaggresions at all.

    This is most clearly seen in the way the Chinese, both mainland and Taiwan, treat hit-and-run victims. Upon striking someone with their car/truck/bus, Chinese drivers typically hit the victim again, repeatedly, until the victim dies. Why? Because Chinese law and custom requires the perpetrator to pay lifetime support to an accident victim, while only a one-time payment is required to compensate for a death. Thus, being the victim in China assures only that you will likely end up dead.

    1. “Non-Christian cultures have no particular empathy.”

      I did not know that.

      1. That’s because it’s nonsense.

    2. “Cultures that are not Christian likewise have no particular empathy with victims.”

      Somehow I doubt that Siddhartha would agree with that statement. The chief difference is that rather than celebrating passive victimhood, they would instead celebrate active compassion, which also happens to be the distinction that separates non-pathological Christianity from its crazier variants.

    3. “Chinese drivers typically hit the victim again, repeatedly”

      It’s not all that typical.Incredibly, it’s more typical for the driver to assist the victim.

  31. What’s sad is that there really isn’t equality to lead to overstratification. By this I mean that I, as a net payer of taxes that doesn’t receive any government assistance of any kind (beyond the basic public goods like fire dept. and police protection that everyone else gets), I am WAY ABOVE the leeches and moochers who think they’re so equal to us net-payers-of-taxes.

    It’s not even close, because a welfare recipient who has never had a job can’t survive without me and other net-payers-of-taxes like me, but I can survive and even thrive without the welfare recipients.

    And yet they have the gall to get bent out of shape about ever smaller slights?

    At least in a caste culture, the undercaste knew they were the undercaste and didn’t think of themselves as any better. That was sad in and of itself, but at least it is an honest way of living. Now, the underclass is living a lie and doesn’t even know it.

    1. Yeah man, you over-lord you!!!

      You advertised your rental abode to me, the potential renter, as having a “walk-in closet”, and I am in a WHEELCHAIR, dammit, you are discriminating against the walking-challenged!!!

      AND you said it has “a fine view of the beach”, showing your intent to discriminate against us seeing-challenged folks!!! PREPARE for my lawsuit, dammit!!!!

  32. This is the natural consequence of the political strategy popularized by Alinsky, Chavez, and King and part of the broader strategy of the serious socialists for more than a century.

    When your constant complaint is that the proletariat has been systematically exploited by the bourgeoisie via the theft of their labor, it’s a small step to transform every aspect of civilization into the victim/victimizer framework with zero nuance. My favorite example was when they destroyed Paula Deen’s career following the revelation that she used a racial slur decades ago after being the victim of armed robbery, though the recent attacks on the battle flag of a nation that was invaded and destroyed was an impressive display of hard-heartedness that would do imperial Japan proud.

    It’s too easy to say that these people are insane and/or evil, but the truth is that they’re only responding to the incentives that have been worming their way into western culture for a long time. And the elevation of victimhood is the perfect recipe for a series of inane moral panics.

    1. This is an insightful comment in a thread full of them.

  33. If you’re an anarchist you’d better be ready to accept the return to an honor culture. If you’re not ready for that, you’re probably not an anarchist.

    1. Nope. And the dividing line between “honor” and “dignity” cultures is pretty fuzzy. There is still self-help violence and its deterrent effects today, and there was still delegation to third parties before the egalitarian ideas of the 18th/19th century.

  34. Microaggressions violate the NAP.

    We are going to need equal restitution for each microaggression experienced.

  35. What would Mad have as the stages beyond the honor, dignity, & victimhood societies?

    The 3 Stooges society (self explanatory)?
    The dog & cat society?
    The gym rat society?
    The hitchhiking society?

  36. The victimhood culture began to arise with the invention of Christianity – the religion of slaves.
    Islam has tried to repair the damage. . . but has gone too far toward the honor culture and ended up shooting itself in the foot with a bazooka, in the eyes of dignity cultures. In the eyes of victimhood cultures, Islam is a disease.

    As far as the victimhood culture “also raises the moral status of the victims” – it only does so to other victims – to everyone else it reduces their moral status to as near absolute zero as is possible.

  37. How does this paper counter the argument that points out sociology is a made up science?

    1. I disagree on that point.

      Just because the current sociology mainstream is churning out collectivist drivel doesn’t mean that the field as a whole is bunk. Herbert Spencer was a sociologist (among other things) who made a strong case for free markets, individual rights, and shrinking government authority.

  38. The critical changes are: a) this society recognizes a wider circle of victims than were recognized before; and b) our response is quicker than before.
    We are not a nation of victims. We are a nation devoted to becoming a “more perfect union”.

  39. – “Righteous Mind blog, New York University moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt is signposting a fascinating article, “Microaggression and Moral Cultures,” by two sociologists in the journal Comparative Sociology.”

    Translation – Americans are now total pansies.

    The fact that this is a discussion topic is proof positive that the backs of the strong have been broken by the pussies. It is over. The campaign to marginalize the producers and the once tough American entrepreneurial independent penchant for challenge has succeeded.

    At least these dipshit professors have figured out how to run the scam for their profit.

  40. Spoken like a true white, male, cisgender, neurotypical, oppressor.

    1. Be careful, or someone will comma shame you. The nice thing about being willfully ignorant (and what other kind of ignorance is there these days) about the definitions of them big words is that they don’t make me feel inferior or inadequate in the least. Beginning to think that a language with too many words is on the road to extinction.

  41. Feelings nothing more than feelings…”victimhood” seems to have a lot in common with what’s considered to be scholarship methinks. Or drug addiction. People who get stuck too far up their own asses are eventually no longer of any use to themselves or anybody else.

    1. …which probably means in the long run they’ll do just fine.

  42. It comes to real Life.

    Racial profiling claim, dash cam, arrested

    Dash cam audio released after professor charged with falsely claiming racial profiling during traffic stop


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