Virtue in an Age of Identity Politics: A Stoic Approach to Social Justice proffers Stoicism as a more constructive approach to social justice activism than Critical Social Justice, the current core framework for social justice activism in the 21st-century. Critical Social Justice examines ideologies that underlie the stratification of society in ways that confer ongoing benefits to some groups at the expense of other groups and aims for a radical reshaping of prevailing institutions because they purportedly, and irredeemably, underlie a set of norms, beliefs, and attitudes which will continue to perpetuate social inequalities if we do not undertake efforts to rethink, disrupt, and restructure society. Stoicism, the ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, is chosen specifically to help navigate the contentious discourse on “systemic” power and privilege which dominates the Critical Social Justice paradigm. In emphasizing intent over impact, as well as the distinction between the circumstances of our lives and the living of our lives, the Stoic approach highlights the vital importance of reason and virtue in achieving a connection between the individualistic concern with cultivation of a good character and the collective concern with making the world a better place.
Jonathan D. Church is an economist, CFA charter holder, and writer who has been published in Areo, Quillette, Arc Digital, The Agonist Journal, Merion West, The Good Men Project, DC Examiner, Culturico, The Federalist, and other venues. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.
Chapter 1: Why a Stoic Approach to Social Justice?
Chapter 2: Social Justice Activism in the Twenty-First Century
Chapter 3: The Philosophy of Stoicism
Chapter 4: What Does Stoicism Have to Say about Social Justice Activism?
Chapter 5: Abraham Lincoln: A Stoic Model for Social Justice Leadership
About the Author
Virtue in an Age of Identity Politics: A Stoic Approach to Social Justice is a thoughtful book. Church challenges both Stoics and Critical Justice Theorists alike, while drawing out what’s needed from both traditions.
In the age of intersectionality where identity trumps intent, Virtue in an Age of Identity Politics reinvigorates the idea that prioritizing values and principles over identity politics is the key to human flourishing and social progress. This book powerfully lays bare the time-tested philosophy understood by the Stoics: that the circumstances which constrain our choices and actions matter much less than the choices we make in response to these circumstances. A must read for counselors and teachers alike.
In an age of identity politics, victimhood culture, and siren calls of virtue-signaling, Church turns to the ancient Stoics to show us how social justice is best served by virtue—that is, by reason, good character, and objective judgment. Virtue in an Age of Identity Politics will endure well beyond the current cultural moment.