The Cancel Culture Mob knows few limitations. While social media has empowered people to speak their minds, it has also empowered the masses to attempt to “cancel” those who express controversial opinions. Victims of cancel culture often end up jobless, friendless, and helpless.
Those engaging in canceling people, however, gain nothing but empty satisfaction. In a Cancel Culture, everyone loses the ability to understand differing perspectives, making echo chambers and their disastrous consequences inevitable.
What is Cancel Culture
Cancel Culture has been described as accountability by its proponents, but that is not a fair assessment of this phenomenon. If Cancel Culture implied accountability, then there would be an avenue for redemption. When the mob controls justice, there is no means by which you can regain their respect.
In the research paper, “Does Apologizing Work? An Empirical Test of the Conventional Wisdom,” Richard Hanania of Columbia University shows that public apologies typically have no effect or make the mob want the offender to be punished even more. In other words, Cancel Culture is not about Accountability.
Jeff Deist, president of the Mises Institute, provides a great definition: “Cancel culture means shutting people out of jobs, opportunities, platforms, & social settings- attempting to impoverish people, financially and otherwise.” The point of Cancel Culture rests in the name — eliminating thought criminals from polite society. If the mob cannot control what you say, they will attempt to control your ability to function in society. To put it another way, Cancel Culture is the necessary tactic the mob adopts when the conventional tactics of Political Correctness fails.
Weaponized Political Correctness
Jeff Deist defines Political Correctness as “the conscious, designed manipulation of language intended to change the way people speak, write, think, feel, and act, in furtherance of an agenda.” The goal of PC is to shape modern humanity into something that goes against our very nature. It destroys individualism and distinct communities and replaces our nature with mob-imposed values. It is not about good manners; it is about control.
But what happens when people refuse to be controlled? What happens when the programming fails? When people push back against PC, the mob must resort to more drastic measures. In the same way fascism emerged as a socialist’s last resort to impose their unnatural worldview, Cancel Culture emerged as a means to achieve a politically correct society. If you do not bend your knee to the mob, then the mob will unperson you.
This works remarkably well against ordinary people. But with someone like Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire who imposed racist “Stop-and-Frisk” upon millions of people, there is no way to cancel him. Bloomberg’s money and financial connections shield him from being canceled. Those engaged in Cancel Culture do not fight for justice. Rather, they target vulnerable individuals and preclude them from ever redeeming themselves (assuming what they said was actually wrong). Rather than have a conversation with people who hold different opinions, the Cancel Culture mob would prefer to dehumanize their adversaries.
Cancel Culture not only harms individuals who fall in the mob’s crosshairs, it harms all of society. When you hold a view that the PC Mob may disagree with, the Herd Psychology of the canceler imposes fear upon your psyche. Because of this fear, you either don’t express your opinion or you only express your opinion around people you know to agree with you. In other words, Cancel Culture curbs public discourse and creates echo chambers. A 1996 MIT study prophetically predicted that the internet would lead to more echo chambers, areas of conversation in which no differing views are expressed.
This study indicated that echo chambers lead to increased radicalization and decreased understanding of the “other side.” In a study on links between echo chambers, radicalism, and violence, Nature Research indicates that such an atmosphere is a breeding ground for violence. People internalize their beliefs. Rather than you believing in your politics, you become your politics. If someone disagrees with your perspective, they do so with ill will according to PC culture. Society confirms this grim prediction as people become more hostile about their politics. Radical organizations like Antifa and other groups engage in violence against their political opponents. To lay it bare, politics drops its pretenses and exposes itself as the violent struggle it truly is.
Cancel Culture benefits no one. Rather, it gives a false sense of dispute resolution and gives the “canceler” a false sense of improved social status while isolating people from civil society. The time to fight back is now. First, refuse to “cancel” anyone. Don’t engage in the mob’s tactics. Talk with people with whom you disagree. Second, engage in alternative media. The State Linguistic Complex has its filthy fingers in all mainstream media. Provide your own counter-narrative. Tell the Truth. Unless we fight back against Political Correctness and Cancel Culture, discourse will die.
Roberts was a participant in the 2019 Ron Paul Scholars Seminar.
Reprinted with author's permission from Advocates for Self-Government.