Try This Instead Of Conspiracy Theories
How harmful social systems actually arise.
When people try to explain complex social systems, they often resort to conspiracy theories. A conspiracy theory is an attempt to explain aspects of the world by suggesting that a person or group is secretly creating those events and circumstances. Conspiracy theories often feature people or groups secretly working behind the scenes to cause harm for nefarious reasons.
In Children’s Justice, I explicitly oppose conspiracy theories.1 While there might be some who intentionally cause harm, these theories often fail to explain why everyday people support and participate in harmful systems.
Instead, critical social justice instead explains collective action through socialization.2 If people are socialized into the same cultural systems, they will behave in similar ways.3 This collective action might look like a conscious conspiracy, but it is actually unconscious beliefs, social constructions, and cultural assumptions playing out across large groups of people.
Critical social justice does not explain cultural systems through conspiracy theories. There is no secret cabal responsible for racism or group sitting around a table conspiring to create sexism. These systems are the result of decentralized beliefs repeated through culture rather than the conscious will of clandestine organizations.
If social systems were the result of conspiracies, they’d be a lot easier to solve. If all problems in the world could be traced back to a dark underground organization of villains, activists could just go full action hero and stop the bad guys. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Social justice requires the slow and difficult work of cultural change.
While there is no hidden conspiracy, there is a culprit. Critical social justice holds social systems and socialization responsible for causing people to participate in harm. These social systems can include culture, religion, school, institutions, social constructions, shared ideas or beliefs, or almost any aspect of society. Individuals are also responsible for their complicity in those systems.
Since socialization begins in childhood, if we change how we raise children all other social justice issues will be impacted. This is why how we treat children is the most important social justice issue.
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