The cancel culture is ravaging through the West.
It’s a loosely connected movement based on aggressive virtue-signaling, guilt-tripping, and imposing one’s own system of (supposedly liberal) values and worldviews onto others.
The “imposing” sometimes entails efforts to “cancel” the culprit, which includes shutting him off social media, removing his audience, firing him and, more frequently, just plain shaming him (“shame attacks“).
Hence the name “cancel culture”.
The cancel culture will eventually end.
Or lose steam, or morph into something else, or change name.
What will stay though are the psychological and power dynamics underlying this movement.
Because those are about human nature, and will not disappear.
So in this website’s spirit of writing timeless articles, we will use a more appropriate label that describes the effects of the cancel culture on its victims: “guilt-tripping”.
Guilt-tripping consists of aggression and anger directed at a target who supposedly behaved in a manner that is unethical or unfair in the eyes of the aggressor.
The goal is to shame the victim, socially ostracize him -or more often make him feel like he’s being ostracized-, make him feel bad about himself, force him to apologize to the world and, if the attack is most effective, cancel him or push him towards self-canceling.
Sometimes of course the anger can be called for and the victim can be a real SOB.
But some other times guilt-tripping is about power, manipulation, and self-manipulation. It’s aggression hiding behind the guise of fake social justice. And the guise of “justice” also serves for self-enhancement through virtue-signaling.
In this article, we will focus particularly on guilt-tripping targeting the supposedly “privileged” ones. That’s the most manipulative form of guilt-tripping, and some of the most effective.
The Power Dictionary calls it “privileged guilt-tripping”, and defines it as such:
The hostility or outright aggression, either overt or covert, directed towards certain groups of people who are accused of enjoying or exploiting an unfair advantage to the detriment of others.
Depending on the severity of the attacks the accusations of “unfair advantage” can become accusations of bullying, abuse, or crime.
The groups under attack are sometimes referred to as “privileged”.
And if you are in any of those groups now considered as “privileged”, you must watch out.
The guilt-tripping movement is out to get you.
Let’s analyze how it works, so we can overthrow its controlling yoke.
The Sneaky Double-Bind of The Guilt-Culture
The guilt-culture is nothing new under the sun.
It’s just the way with which loosely connected groups of people with somewhat of a common goal fight the war for influence and power. But today, it happens to be sneakier than in the past.
In a way, the guilt-movement is a big, society-wide form of double-bind.
This is how it works:
I despise you because you are abusing of your privileges to oppress me and bully me.
But you can’t despise me because, if you do, you confirm that you are oppressing me, and that I am right for despising you.
Be damned if you accept their finger-pointing, and be damned if you seek to rebel against it.
People who don’t see the double-bind and accept that frame, end up feeling guilty and without any recourse -and often, without having done nothing wrong-.
The Aggressive Nature of Attacking the Privileged
Let’s be clear about this:
There is value and heroism in standing up against abuse.
The first woman who stood up for the right for divorce, was a hero. And the people who campaigned until divorce was legalized were part of a force for good.
The first women to face backlash for demanding the right to abortion were civil heroes.
Rosa Parks refusing to stand up was also a hero.
There might still be a few kinks we need to iron out.
But today most of the basic rights are already in place. Today women, blacks, gays, trans and whatever group was previously marginalized can do pretty much anything that straight white men can.
Today, there is no more value in keeping up the incendiary and aggressive rhetoric.
Going on the assault against (white) men today is about power and other darker motives, not about civil rights, freedom, or equality.
To me, much of the guilt-movement attacks fall into one of these categories:
- Exercises in excuse-making (ego-protection): it’s not that I didn’t work for the things I wanted, it’s hat the system is crooked, and it’s your privileged ass’ fault (not mine)
- The search for a sense of importance: today people have lots of free time and no obvious reason for living. Some people can feel lost, so they make up an enemy and embrace a (made-up) fight to give a sense of purpose to their existence
- An excuse to vent personal bitterness: I’m angry, but I blame you for my own anger so that I can keep a better self-image
- Manipulative warfare: I make you feel guilty so that you will become more submissive, less assertive, and easier to control and win against
- Strawmanning for power: construct a made-up enemy, lead the charge against them, and win easy accolades without taking any real risks
Oprah Winfrey is a good example for that last one:
Typical burning stake power move.
Here is a transcript of Oprah’s widely applauded incendiary rhetoric:
She lived as we all have lived, too many years in a culture broken by brutally powerful men. For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.
Their time is up?
Whose time? Powerful men? Men in general? That’s fucked up. Many powerful men are good people.
To most of the readers, I’d candidly ask: do you feel like you’re living in a culture “broken by brutally powerful men” that you need to break free from?
I’m pretty sure most readers would reply “no”.
We live in a blessed world of freedom and democracy where everyone can work on themselves to improve their lives.
Oprah Winfrey, a woman extremely high in power, is not describing reality. She is fabricating a distorted reality for her own personal gains (straw-manning).
She paints a strawman of oppressive (white) men, and she frames herself the brave one fighting against it.
Oprah paints a bigger enemy to get more power and exposure. Unluckily, she is the only winner, while everyone else loses.
It might seem a stretch to you, but the dynamics at play here are no different than Hitler scapegoating the jews.
Or the Bolsheviks scapegoating the small landowners (and deporting them en-masse).
You could easily turn Oprah’s speech into any speech that throughout history had led to the prosecution and massacre of whole classes of people:
The Jews (landowners / Christians, etc.) are bad, taking advantage of us, disempowering us… Are we gonna stand up and teach them a lesson or what?
Death to the Jews (landowners / Christians, etc.)!
We don’t need more Oprahs fanning small flames of discontent into a huge fire. We need more conciliatory men and women building bridges.
If you want a fairer and better world, don’t fall for the war rhetoric of Oprah’s style of charismatic leader. Social psychologist Roy Baumeister said it best: there will never be a war to end all wars (Baumeister, 1999). This is all the truer and more important when there is nothing to fight about, as it’s in this case.
Anger only leads to more anger, and to more lose-lose for all.
If you want things to be better, today is the time to join the collaborative movement:
Life Strategy: The Enlightened Collaborator
The Manipulative Guilt-Tripping
The guilt-tripping movement also serves to disempower others -and to empower the attacker-.
I’ve already discussed a few instances of systemic manipulation, like feminism, for example.
The guilt-tripping movement is the same.
Accusing historically powerful classes of still being abusive and unfair serves as a moralizing manipulation tool.
How does this work?
The more you can make others feel bad, the more those others will give up their rights and act submissive. And the more competitive advantage the guilt-inducers will enjoy.
You make that white, pretty woman feel guilty for being white and pretty?
She will be less assertive in going after that executive suite because she feels “she already got enough privileges”.
You make that white man feel bad for his “toxic masculinity”? He will not defend himself when he actually needed to defend his rights. And if things get heated and the police show up, in doubt, they will charge him (Smith, 2017).
And if the privileged ones can do little to make up for their supposed wrongdoing, all the better: they are going to be victims -and submissive- for life.
You are eternally in debt for your Y chromosome, brother.
Manipulation: Techniques, Strategies, & Ethics
Out of Control Guilt
The guilt movement has grown so big that it has not stopped at gender and racial issues.
Today, we have all kinds of people wanting you to feel guilty for all kinds of issues:
- Guilty for polluting
- Guilty for having exterminated animals
- Guilty for global warming -you know, you drive, fly, eat too much meat, etc.-
And don’t take this wrong: I am 100% sold on reducing pollution, protecting animals, and doing something about global warming.
I always tell people not to give me a bag with my fruit, I always say no to disposable cutlery, and I never owned any car.
Indeed, rejecting guilt is not about rejecting responsibility for being good citizens.
It’s the opposite: it’s especially when we are being considerate humans that we should not feel guilty for, you know… Living.
Guilt is not only useless and irrational, but it’s unhealthy.
It’s unhealthy for individuals to feel guilty for things that are either natural, or that they didn’t commit.
Let’s get real for a second.
It’s natural that, as we go about life, we do pollute at least a little bit (Pinker, 2020). Electricity pollutes. Taking a shower pollutes. Doing anything will create some human waste.
Now we should aim to pollute less, but not feel guilty for a minimum amount of pollution that’s needed to live.
And it’s natural that the species that becomes the most dominant will drive a few other species to extinction. That might not sound “nice”, but at a certain point, you need to get real. Being emotionally mature also means accepting that there are certain trade-offs in life.
And it’s either lions, bears and tigers roam the planet as they please, or you roam the planet as you please -which you’re probably already doing-.
Our responsibility is to avoid any unneeded animal suffering. But it is not to preserve any single species on earth, no matter what.
Because if you want all animals to reclaim their space, then take the first step and go back to living in a cave.
If you like embracing extreme measures without being willing to make extreme compromises, then you’re a hypocrite.
Great is both part and victim of the guilt-culture.
She jumped in the movement while also being duped by it.
The guilt-culture stole Greta’s childhood and turned her bitter, not the “elites of power” she accuses
I cannot think of any other time in human history that we’ve been inundated with so many messages about how bad we are.
In a way, it’s a sign of opulence.
As we live in a world largely free of major risks, people have enough time and resources to dedicate mental cycles on abstractions like “fairness”, “equal opportunities”, “animal rights”, etc.
And, by and large, it’s a great thing we are tackling these issues.
This is the pinnacle of human enlightenment: taking responsibility not just for us, but for the planet and the other living creatures as well.
But it should be done rationally, and intelligently.
Finger-pointing and guilt-tripping are neither intelligent, nor helpful ways of going about it. They are abusive ways of going about it.
If you allow it, that guilt-culture is going to disempower you.
So now let’s discuss the effects of guilt-tripping, and then some solutions.
SJWs & The Emotional Harm of the Guilt-Culture
The extremists of the guilt-movement want you guilty for everything that is wrong in the world.
The funny thing?
For many of the items you should feel guilty for, you bear no direct responsibility.
And, most importantly, you bear no control over.
- Being born in the West
- Being born in the middle class or above
- Being attractive
- Being a man
These all fall under “being privileged”.
And unluckily, it’s a common sentiment not only among liberal circles, but also in some self-development circles.
Writes Eckart Tolle in a particularly disheartening passage of his best selling “The Power of Now”:
Of course, there’s something wrong with you, and you are not being judged. Don’t you belong to the human race who killed over 100 million members of its own species in the 21st century alone?
-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now
Oh, thank goodness I’m not being judged, Eckart.
Imagine if I was :S.
Victims of Cancel Culture
Everyone can be a victim of guilt-tripping and cancel culture.
But on average, the group most liable to self-harming guilt are white, progressive women.
Women tend to have lower self-esteem, and are more prone to guilt. Sensitive women can end up suffering the most under the guilt-culture.
Example 1: Cameron russell
White, beautiful model Cameron Russell amassed 24 million views on a speech that she should have had at a shrink’s office.
Cameron Russel: I’m on the stage because I’m a pretty white woman.
But mostly, it was difficult to unpack the legacy of gender and racial oppression when I am one of the base beneficiaries.
She says she is the beneficiary of a culture that makes her privileged. Instead, I see the emotional pain of a woman under the yoke of the guilt-tripping culture.
To begin with, she is most likely selling herself short by saying she is only pretty.
And most of all, she is blaming herself for all the “gender and racial oppression”, which is, how to put it mildly… Pure fucking nonsense.
SJWs: Duped and Self-Duping
How do social just warrior fit here?
SJWs are mostly followers.
They follow the bigger leaders, like Oprah, to either get some scraps of power, to gain acceptance or, in some cases, because they actually believe it.
There are two kinds of social justice warrior:
- Privileged people who play the guilt game for their own gains: these people seek to gain acceptance in liberal circles and in society at large. They include white knights, male feminists, and the people who stood up at Oprah’s speech. Also see: virtue-signaling strategy
- More sensitive privileged people who do actually feel guilty: like for example Cameron Russel we saw above. Or German women in this example below:
Example 2: Jenna Marbles
See if you can spot the unneeded guilt in this video (hint: it’s all over):
Jenna Marbles had a successful YouTube channel with millions of subscribers.
Some guilt-trippers “got offended” and accused her of:
- Offending non-binary genders: she made a video of “boys be like / girls be like”
- Being racist and offending black folks: she once colored her face
Jenna Marbles does NOT seem to be racist, transphobic, or mean towards anyone or any group.
But she let guilt-tripping get to her, she posted her apology, and self-canceled.
Example 3: German Women
To people who are not much prone to guilt, guilt-trippers are annoying.
But to people who are prone to guilt, these messages are emotionally harmful.
A third interesting case is a group of people. And it’s German nationals.
Nazism is history, it’s done and dusted.
The only empowering way to approach is to learn the lessons, learn human nature, and make sure it won’t happen ever again.
But the guilt-culture is not about empowering people, the guilt-culture is about disempowering people, and making them feel bad for things they aren’t even responsible for.
Within this culture, decades after nazism, many Germans still feel awkward towards national pride, as that reminds them of nazism.
My ex-girlfriend and a bunch of her leftist progressive friends always felt bad for being German for things that she had no control over.
They had this big emotional burden they were carrying over, accompanied by the guilt-induced feeling they needed to repent and make it up… But there was no way to make it up, of course.
So they were trapped in their feelings of guilt, which is the definition of emotional abuse.
At times, it was becoming an issue in our relationship. It’s unhealthy to take too much guilt upon yourself when you can’t do anything about it.
Without judging whether that was right or not, in my opinion, part of the reason the German government accepted millions of immigrants without performing much control at all, is because of the guilt-feelings of their past.
Now let’s look at a few solutions against the feelings of guilt.
Life Isn’t Fair: Accept It
Behind much of the guilt-fever, there is the wish for fairness.
Fair is good.
Unfair is bad.
And if you got an “unfair advantage”, you should feel bad.
And again, same as before: it’s good to strive towards fairness. It’s also an important value of this website.
However, approaching fairness with emotional maturity means that you strive towards fairness, while also accepting that the world is an inherently unfair place.
Until we evolve into a different species, we are also an inherently unfair species.
And that’s OK, you must be at peace with that.
As you strive to treat people fairly, you also must know that you are not responsible for life’s unfairness.
And again, same as before: it’s because you personally strive to treat people fairly that you can accept all the luck that’s come your way without feeling guilty about it.
If anything, feel grateful for it. Gratefulness is good. Guilt is not.
Three Antidotes to Guilt
There are three more antidotes to guilt:
- A healthy sense of entitlement
- A focus on how you’re going to use your privileges in service of a bigger goal
- Accepting responsibility only for what you have done (not your group, your tribe, your ancestors, etc.)
I was reminded of the importance of healthy entitlement when I read a post on Facebook.
Someone asked to a group of digital nomads if they felt a national belonging, or if they felt world citizens.
Look at some of the comments:
She feels privileged for having a strong passport.
And the likes pour in with crying faces, likely from other guilt self-harmers.
And the other champion there, chiming that “he’s not a citizen, but he’s a “guest”.
How cute of him, tiptoeing his way through life.
A typical case of “nice” that’s not “nice”, in the sense of adding any value to others, but it’s actually useless nice at best, and virtue-signaling nice at worst.
It’s good to be “nice”, as in warm and kind -see: mix power with warmth-. But you should not feel like a nuisance when you are not being a nuisance.
Don’t confuse privileges with rights -or with what you can safely claim as a right-.
In this example, instead of seeing the privilege of having a strong passport, why don’t you see it as your right?
Hopefully, you’re not a thief, and you’re not a scumbag. Hopefully, you are a value-adding human, you treat people deserving respect with respect, and you’re bringing your money to whichever country you visit.
You should be entitled to travel, see, and meet people from all over the world as an equal -just like any other value-adding human being should-.
Do Your Best Towards Your Goal, F*ck the Privileges
An empowered mindset doesn’t think about the “privileges” it’s got.
An empowered mindset thinks how he can do more with whatever he’s got.
Strong passport? Great, how can I use it. Poor passport? Too bad, how can I change it.
Rich family? Great, how can I leverage these resources. Poor family? Too bad, how can I change it.
You got what some people would refer to as “privileges”?
Leave the guilt behind, and start focusing on doing something good with them. Because the ultimate sin is having a chance to do something good, but wasting it.
Once you focus on doing something constructive with whatever you’ve got, then your guilty feelings will disappear in a heartbeat.
- Enlightened Self-Interest: this article helps cure both the tendencies to finger-point on others, and the tendencies to feel guilty about the finger-pointing