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Guest Post: Fighting the Good Fight in an Age of Unreason—A New Dissident Guide
a bold shot across the bow against efforts to stifle academic freedom, free speech, and impose ideology in academia by ANNA KRYLOV AND JAY TANZMAN
Soviet dissident, poet, and human rights activist Natalia Gorbanevskaya at the commemoration of the 1968 demonstration in support of Czechoslovakia against Soviet “liberation” in Red Square, Moscow, in 2013. The participants are holding a replica of the 1968 banner, which says: “For your freedom and ours” (За вашу и нашу свободу). Image Source: Wayback machine snapshot from Gorbanevskaya’s LiveJournal blog.
This week, Anna Krylov and Jay Tanzman published, in Heterodox STEM, a powerful and comprehensive piece describing in depth the attacks on free speech and incursion of ideology in academia, and equally importantly discussed actions that many of us can take to combat these creeping dangers. Anna has given me permission to repost it here. It is long, but worth reading in its entirety, and it is full of great links and references for those who are interested in examining this issue more. —LMK
The Enlightenment, humanism, and democracy are under attack by an illiberal, postmodernist movement known as Critical Social Justice. We briefly document the extent of the threat, discuss what is at stake should the movement succeed, and suggest strategies and tactics to fight back.
Note: A version of this article will appear as an invited chapter in the forthcoming volume The Free Inquiry Papers edited by Robert Maranto, Lee Jussim, and Sally Satel.
1. An age of unreason
The liberal enlightenment, humanism, and democracy are under siege. A once-obscure postmodernist worldview, Critical Social Justice (CSJ) [1-3], has escaped the academy and is quickly reshaping our institutions and society at large. Long-standing merit-based practices in science are rapidly being subordinated to practices based on the tenets of CSJ theory . Increasingly, scientists must compete for funding, no longer only on the basis of scientific merit, but also on the basis of how their proposed research will promote the goals of CSJ. As an example, an NIH neurology program requires grant applications to include a “plan for enhancing diverse perspectives” with the goal to “bring about the culture change necessary to address the inequities and systemic biases in biomedical research….”  Similarly, funding for fundamental research in chemistry and physics now depends on researchers demonstrating their commitment to “promote equity and inclusion as an intrinsic element to advancing scientific excellence” .
In the academy, faculty hiring and administrative appointments are increasingly made on the basis of the candidate’s identity [7-9]. Merit-based admission to schools and universities is being weakened, with standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT being abandoned on “social justice” grounds [10,11]. K–12 is affected as well. Some school districts have stopped giving D and F grades in order to improve “equity” . In math classes, activist teachers claim that getting the right answer and showing your work are white supremacist concepts and are advocating, instead, a supposedly anti-racist CSJ pedagogy [13,14]. Accelerated mathematics programs for gifted students, necessary to prepare them for advanced training and careers in STEM , are being dismantled in the name of “social justice” [16-18]. Many school districts have eliminated honors classes altogether in the name of “equity” . The resultant weakening of the workforce has already contributed to the fall of the US from its position as the world leader in science .
In the university, faculty and staff are instructed to use Newspeak—neopronouns and other neologisms—in their written and verbal communications for the purpose of “inclusivity” [21,22]. To be avoided are such apparently un-inclusive terms as “strawman,” “brown-bag lunch,” and “picnic” [22–25]. Professional societies and corporations are following suit, proscribing terms such as “field,” “dark times,” “black market,” “double-blind study,” “nursing mother,” “hip-hip hooray,” “smart phone,” “homeless,” and “the French” [26–30].
In biology, an education paper recommends that teachers emphasize the sexual diversity across species in nature, which includes “organisms such as ciliates, algae, and fungi [that] have equal-size gametes (isogamy) and do not therefore have gametic sexes [that is, binary sexes, as mammals do].” This is supposed to promote inclusivity of LGBTQIA2+ students in the classroom . Chemistry education also needs to be reformed, according to the journal Chemical Education, which published a virtual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) collection of 67 papers exploring such topics as decolonization of the chemistry curriculum, chemistry and racism, and gender and sexual orientation identities in the chemistry classroom . A recent paper in the same journal describes “a special topic class in chemistry on feminism and science as a tool to disrupt the dysconcious racism in STEM,” which explores “the development and interrelationship between quantum mechanics, Marxist materialism, Afro-futurism/pessimism, and postcolonial nationalism.” “To problematize time as a linear social construct,” the paper says, “the Copenhagen interpretation of the collapse of wave-particle duality was utilized” . No, Deepak Chopra was not a co-author of the paper.
In STEM, prospective faculty are asked to pledge their commitment to the ideology of CSJ and to document their activism in advancing DEI [8,9,33,34]. Medical schools are abolishing long-accepted assessments of competency in order to improve racial parity in residency programs . A pamphlet published by the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health claims that public health anti-obesity campaigns are an example of “fatphobia,” that public health’s “focus on body size is rooted in racism,” that “higher weight is not causal to worse health outcomes," and that “focusing on weight ignores systematic injustices” [36,37]. Under the doctrine of gender-affirming care, adolescents are offered life-changing transgender treatments, often after only perfunctory psychological assessment, despite the poor understanding that medicine currently has on the risks and benefits of these treatments [38–40].
Free speech itself, the cornerstone of liberal democracy, is under attack. As viewed by CSJ activists, free speech is dangerous, harmful, and equivalent to violence . Adherents of DEI ideology believe that DEI should trump academic freedom . Institutions essential for providing a platform for the marketplace of ideas, information exchange, and debate have largely abandoned their mission in the name of social justice activism. Articles in the press are infused with CSJ ideology . Scientific publishers from Scientific American to the flagship journals Science and Nature have become mouthpieces for CSJ [43–56]. Universities, whose primary mission is education and truth seeking, have become complicit in censorship, scholarship suppression, indoctrination, and intimidation [57–59]. Universities and professional organizations have compromised their mission as seekers and communicators of objective truths by abandoning traditional institutional neutrality in favor of political activism, taking official positions on elections, police reform, abortion, wars, and other social issues [60,61], leaving dissenters out in the cold. Where debate, constructive disagreement, and discussion were once cultivated, conformity and dogmatism, enforced both top-down (by CSJ-infused DEI trainings [62,63]) and bottom-up (by ideologically driven activists ), now reign.
On campus, another essential provision of democracy, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, no longer guides procedures for resolving conflict. Suspensions and terminations of professors without a hearing in response to offense taken by students, faculty members, or administrators has become commonplace (see, for example, Ref. 64–67). A predictable consequence is that there is now an unprecedented level of self-censorship by students and faculty [57,68,69]. Proposed changes to Title IX regulations will further erode the free speech of students and the protection of due process .
CSJ adherents accuse dissenters of being indifferent to existing inequalities and historic injustices, of being bigots, of having nefarious motives, and of perpetuating existing power structures. We reject these accusations. We oppose the practices of CSJ because they harm everyone, including those groups they purport to elevate [71-73]. It is precisely because we care about the existing problems in the world and about realsocial justice that we oppose CSJ.
What we are witnessing today—curriculum “decolonization,” the elimination of honors classes in schools, the ubiquitous war on merit , the imposition of political litmus tests for academic positions, Newspeak, the renaming of everything in sight, and on and on—are not isolated excesses perpetrated by a handful of overly zealous but otherwise well-meaning individuals; they are symptoms of a wholesale takeover of our institutions by an illiberal movement that currently has the upper hand. The current situation is not a pendulum that has swung too far and will self-correct ; it is a train hurtling full speed toward a cliff. Those of us unwillingly to go over the edge can either jump off—leave academia (or maybe start up alternative institutions)—or fight to get the brakes applied before it is too late. The remainder of this chapter is about the latter course of action.
2. Why we should fight
To put it simply, we should fight because it is the right thing to do. It is not only our duty to the next generation, but an opportunity to pay our debt to the previous generations of dissenters who fought against forces of illiberalism to create the free and prosperous world that we enjoy today [75,76]. By fighting, we, too, can fend off the forces of unreason and restore the values of humanism, liberalism, and The Enlightenment. Inaction and submission will only enable the further spread of illiberalism. The history of past illiberal regimes, such as the USSR and Nazi Germany, provide ample lessons and motivation to stand and fight today. The train is gaining momentum; the longer we wait, the harder it will be to stop it. We must act now, while we still can.
Although there are uncanny parallels with totalitarian regimes of the past [23,77–80], we are still living in a free, democratic society. Despite the advances of illiberal ideology, manifested by the rise of censorship, the spread of cancel culture [23,57,58,81–83], and the proliferation of institutionalized structures (such as DEI bureaucracies) to enforce CSJ ideology, the dissenters of today do not face incarceration in prisons, labor camps, and mental hospitals. Nonetheless, we can learn from history.
In his book To Build a Castle: My Life as a Dissenter , Vladimir Bukovsky  describes his experiences as a dissident who refused to comply with the Soviets and challenged the regime. Bukovsky describes the apathy and complacency of the majority of the population at that time. People understood the corrupt and inhumane nature of the regime, but they chose to keep their heads down because—as the Russian proverb goes—“No man can splay the stone” (in Russian: плетью обуха не перешибёшь).
Because of this complacency, the economically bankrupt, oppressive, and inhumane Soviet regime lasted as long as it did (70+ years). But it was the actions of dissidents that ultimately catalyzed its downfall. Consider, for example, the impact of the books of Solzhenitsyn, who told the world the truth about the atrocities of the Soviet regime . In addition to meticulously documenting the scale of the atrocities, Solzhenitsyn explained that they came to be, not due to deviations from the party line or shortcomings of its individual leaders, but as the direct result of Marxist-Leninist ideology.
In Bukovsky’s time (the late 1950s to mid-1970s), open dissent was rare. Growing up in the Soviet Union, I [Anna]—as most of my peers—did not even know dissidents existed. It wasn’t until Perestroyka in the late 80s, when I read Solzhenitsyn’s books and learned about Sakharov  that I found out. Yet, it is through the actions of the dissidents that the West came to understand the Soviet regime as an “evil empire,” and this understanding propelled the political forces in the West that ultimately decided the outcome of the Cold War. The impact of the dissident movement on the Soviet regime has been illuminated through a series of memoranda of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, stolen and published by Bukovsky in his book Judgment in Moscow . The acts of individuals splayed the stone after all.
I [Anna] was born (in the then-Soviet state of Ukraine) into the luckiest generation in the history of the USSR—the generation that witnessed the fall of the Wall when they were still young. We could escape to the free world, live as free people, and build successful and fulfilling careers in the West. Had the regime lasted another 20 years, my generation would have been yet another of the long list of those whose lives were ruined by the Soviet regime. I feel a personal debt to the dissidents of the day.
Now, it is our turn to be the dissidents and to fight the good fight.
Fighting for what is right is not just the right thing to do; it is empowering. Standing up and speaking your mind is liberating, even exhilarating; while hunkering down in fear, hoping the storm will pass, is a bleak experience. Being honest feels good, while being complicit in lies is dispiriting. Fighting the good fight puts you in control, whereas passive submission leaves you helpless. Whether we ultimately win or lose this fight, those who choose to remain silent will look back and ask themselves why they did not act when they could. As Martin Niemöller wrote after World War II,
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Eventually, this illiberal movement, like those of the past, will come not only for the dissidents, but for the silent bystanders as well (and, eventually, for its own vocal supporters).
There are myriad excuses, as old as the history of totalitarianism and oppression itself, invoked to justify inaction, complacency, and collaboration. Bukovsky  enumerates a few of the more familiar: “What can I do alone?”; “I’ll be more effective after I get the promotion”; “It’s not my job; I’m a scientist.” “If I don’t collaborate, someone else will anyway (and I’ll probably do less harm).” These reasons may seem logical, even compelling; however, they are self-deceptions. Not pushing back against bad ideas allows them to spread. Not fighting back against illiberalism allows it to grow. Not standing up for truth permits the lies to flourish. Not confronting the CSJ ideologists permits them to advance. And when they advance, we lose. It is a zero-sum game.
The choice to fight in the face of potential consequences is personal  and not an easy one to make. But as you contemplate whether to act or to lay low, consider the importance of truth and integrity in your life. To paraphrase Bari Weiss: Worship truth more than Yale. As she says:
[D]o not lose sight of what is essential. Professional prestige is not essential. Being popular is not essential. Getting your child into an elite preschool is not essential. Doing the right thing is essential. Telling the truth is essential. Protecting your kids is essential. 
Sure, no one wants to become a martyr for free speech or experience bullying, ostracism, and professional damage [81,91–93]. Cancel culture is real, but the risks are not what dissenters to totalitarian regimes faced historically or face today—cancel culture does not put you in jail. One still can write a dissenting op-ed without the fear of being stripped of their citizenship and expelled from the country, as Solzhenitsyn was for his writings . We still can criticize DEI policies without fear of being put under house arrest, as Sakharov was for his vocal opposition to nuclear weapons and his unwavering defense of human rights . But if we delay, some of the totalitarian nightmares of the past may become a reality. There are already worrying signs of this totalitarian-style repression in America: parents opposing CSJ in schools have been accused of terrorism and investigated by the FBI ; a journalist who wrote about collusion between the government and social media was paid a surprise home visit by the Internal Revenue Service ; a student who questioned the concept of microaggressions  at a mandatory training was expelled and forced to “seek to psychological services” . These incidents in America today are chillingly similar to practices in Russia in the Soviet era, when the KGB routinely investigated dissidents, and dissent from Soviet ideology was considered a psychiatric disorder [84,88]. In the absence of resistance, this illiberal movement, like illiberal movements of the past, will gain ever more power, and we will face ever worse repression and erosion of individual freedom.
Inaction does not guarantee survival, but fighting a successful fight does. The only way to defend yourself against repression by an illiberal ideology is to stop the spread of the ideology.
The dangers of inaction are real, but how much risk one should take must be a personal decision . Above all, it rarely does any good to get fired. Getting fired is playing into their hands. It’s one less enemy in the organization to fight against its ideological capture. Should all the dissidents get fired, the ideology wins. Full stop.
But it’s not hopeless. As we elaborate below, there are ways to maximize the impact of your actions and minimize the chances of negative consequences of resistance.
3. How to fight
Although there is no sure-fire roadmap to solve the current crisis, there are some do’s and don’ts. A recently published handbook, Counter Wokecraft (which we highly recommend), written by an anonymous STEM professor, provides concrete recommendations for staging the resistance . It convincingly explains how small but deliberate actions add up to big change and elaborates on the perils of delaying action. In what follows, we offer our view on how to fight, and we share examples of successful acts of resistance that give us reason for hope. Small contributions add up, so do something rather than nothing. As Gad Saad writes in The Parasitic Mind:
The battle of ideas knows no boundaries, so there is plenty to do. If you are a student and hear your professors spouting postmodern nonsense or spewing anti-science drivel, challenge them politely and constructively. If you are a graduate and your alma mater is violating its commitment to freedom of speech and freedom of thought, withdraw your donations—and let the school know why. If your Facebook friends are posting comments with which you disagree, engage them and offer an alternative viewpoint.... If you are sitting at your local pub having a conversation about a sensitive topic, do not refrain from speaking your mind. If your politicians are succumbing to suicidal political correctness, vote them out of office. 
1. Educate yourself; knowledge is power.
To effectively counter the ideology of CSJ, it is crucial to understand its nature and the tactics it employs. As two-time Nobel Laureate Marie Sklodowska-Curie said:
Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so we may fear less.
Although Curie was referring to phenomena of the natural world, the observation applies equally to the world of ideas. By understanding the origins and tenets of CSJ, we can fear less—and fight more effectively.
For me [Anna] and my former compatriots, who were forcibly schooled in Marxist-Leninism and experienced its implementation as Socialism firsthand, it is easy to recognize the current illiberal movement’s philosophical roots [78,79]. We recognize the familiar rhetoric and the Orwellian co-option of the language: the media outlet of the Communist Party, which disseminated its lies, was called Pravda (Правда), which is Russian for “truth”; victims of Red terror were called “enemies of the people” (враги народа); Soviet troops invading other countries were called “liberators” (освободители); and nuclear weapons were developed with the slogan “nucleus for the cause of peace” (атом—делу мира). We are used to looking behind the facade of nice-sounding words and seeing their real meaning to those in power . It is not hard to see that today’s “Diversity,” “Equity,” and “Inclusion” have about as much in common with the noble concepts of diversity, equality, and inclusion as Orwell's Ministry of Love had to do with love or his Ministry of Plenty had to do with plenty. (A more-fitting operational definition of DEI would be Discrimination, Entitlement, and Intimidation.) This linguistic tactic is used because it works. It has fooled many STEM academics and ordinary citizens and has enabled the illiberal ideology to get its foot in the door .
As Counter Wokecraft explains, the tactics CSJ employs to gain power in our institutions include the use of liberal-sounding “crossover words” to shroud the illiberal aims of the movement . The concise essay “DEI: a Trojan Horse for Critical Social Justice in Science” by the same author offers insights into the philosophy that undergirds the CSJ movement and clearly elucidates its aims . For a deeper dive into CSJ, we recommend the book by Pluckrose and Lindsay .
2. Use all existing means of resistance, but first and foremost, the official ones.
Mechanisms of resistance are available through existing institutions, even if the institutions themselves are failing to protect their mission . These mechanisms can be exploited to change the institution from within.
Bukovsky describes how their dissident group worked within the legal boundaries of the Soviet regime . He contrasts this approach with anarchism and revolutionary destructivism, which, he argues, lead to outcomes that are worse than the original evils. Bukovsky and his dissident comrades structured their activism and resistance within the framework of the Soviet constitution—which many legitimately considered to be a joke. When allowed to speak in court, Bukovsky framed his defense to emphasize the constitutional rights of Soviet citizens, for example, to peacefully demonstrate. Bukovsky attributes their success to this strategy. As an example of an important victory, he describes how he and his fellow political prisoners managed to resist and ultimately eliminate mandatory “corrective labor” for political prisoners. Following legal protocols, they rolled out a concerted effort of filing official complaints. Although isolated complaints never had any effect (they would be registered, duly processed, and dismissed), by flooding the bureaucratic system with a massive number of such complaints (which each had to be properly registered and responded to), they pushed the system beyond its limits. The sheer number of complaints compelled administrative scrutiny of the prison and its officers. And the prisoners won the fight.
Today, we can work within the system of our universities and professional organizations, even if they have already been ideologically corrupted. We can participate in surveys; communicate our concerns to leadership; nominate candidates committed to liberal principles to committees and leadership; vote against CSJ ideologues; speak up against practices that violate the stated mission of the institution [43,102,103]; publish well-reasoned opinion pieces [4,14,15,23,82,83,102]; and insist that our institutions adhere to their stated institutional (and legal) commitments to free speech and non-discrimination, such as being equal opportunity employers. Counter Wokecraft  provides concrete suggestions on how to effectively oppose the advances of the CSJ agenda by simply insisting that standard protocols of decision-making be followed—that is, through formal meetings with organized discussions that adhere to a set agenda, vote by secret ballot, and so on. In short, the existing governance structures and institutional policies can still be utilized to defend and even restore the institutional mission, even when the institution’s workings have been undermined by CSJ activists.
The following success stories illustrate the effectiveness of working within the system.
At the University of Massachusetts, a faculty group fought—and won—against a proposed rewriting of the university mission statement, which would have redefined the purpose of the university as engaging in political and ideological activism, rather than pursuing the truth .
Faculty at the University of Chicago succeeded in having departmental statements that violated institutional neutrality (by voicing collective support for specific social and political issues in violation of the University’s Kalven Report ) rescinded .
Also at the University of Chicago, in response to faculty complaints to the institution’s Title IX coordinator and general counsel, at least seven programs that gave preferences to specific races or sexes in violation of Federal regulations were discontinued .
The faculty of the University of Washington voted down a proposal to require DEI statements for all tenure and promotion candidates . As reported to us, an email campaign initiated by a single faculty member was decisive in defeating the proposal.
At the University of North Carolina (UNC), the Board of Trustees adopted  the Chicago Free Speech Principles  and Kalven Report . The former articulates the university’s commitment to free speech and is considered to be a model policy on this issue; the latter ensures institutional neutrality, prohibiting units of the university from taking stands on moral, political, or ideological issues, unless they directly affect the mission of the institution.
Also at UNC, responding to a faculty petition, the Board of Governors moved to ban diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements from its hiring and promotion process. The mandate states that the university “shall neither solicit nor require an employee or applicant for academic admission or employment to affirmatively ascribe to or opine about beliefs, affiliations, ideals, or principles regarding matters of contemporary political debate or social action as a condition to admission, employment, or professional advancement” .
In California, mathematicians organized a petition that has, so far, blocked the implementation of radical, CSJ-based revisions to the K–12 math curriculum . At the time of publication, the fight is not over; but they’ve won so far.
A new nonprofit, Do No Harm, has been formed to fight against the encroachment of identity politics in medicine . Among their successes, filings with the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights against two medical schools has resulted in the elimination of race as a requirement for certain scholarships. Scholarships “meant for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, [a] worthy goal, can and should be met without racial discrimination,” writes the organization’s founder .
Adverse publicity and mockery, too, can cause Universities, which are sensitive to their public image, to roll back woke policies, as the following examples illustrate.
The administration of MIT reversed its own decision and reinstated the use of standardized tests for admission , the elimination of which had been mocked by dissidents .
The Stanford University “Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative” website, which listed 161 verboten expressions, including “beating a dead horse,” “white paper,” “insane,” and even “American,” was taken down after sustained mockery in the press and on social media. The university’s president ultimately disowned the initiative and reaffirmed the university’s commitment to free speech .
At the University of Southern California, the interim provost made a clear statement that “the university does not maintain a list of banned or discouraged words” in response to the mockery  of an earlier memorandum the university's School of Social Work announcing the cancellation of the word “field” as racist [26,29].
At Texas Tech, the administration announced that it was dropping mandatory DEI statements from the hiring process , after details of how these statements influenced hiring decisions had been publicized .
These examples illustrate the maxim that sunlight is the best disinfectant . We can use social media and the press to shine a light on the excesses of CSJ to bring about change.
Pressure from state governments can also force universities to change course away from DEI ideology. Facing threats from the state assembly to cut funding, the University of Wisconsin system has announced it will eliminate mandatory DEI statements for job applicants. As we are writing this chapter, the state assembly is also threatening to eliminate funding for administrative positions at UW dedicated to DEI .
Arizona has also dealt a blow to DEI ideology. The state’s Board of Regents has mandated that public universities drop the use of DEI statements in hiring. The move was in response to a finding by the Goldwater Institute that DEI statements, which were required in over three-fourths of job postings, were being used “to circumvent the state’s constitutional prohibition against political litmus tests in public educational institutions” .
Organizations such as the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) and the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) have successfully used institutions’ own governing policies and bylaws as well as the law to defend scores of scholars who have been attacked for their extramural speech and threatened with administrative discipline or firing [120,121].
A move is afoot to strengthen universities’ commitment to academic freedom by encouraging them to officially adopt the Chicago Trifecta (the Kalven report, the Chicago Principles, and the Shils report). The “Restoring Academic Freedom” letter , which calls on universities to do so, has garnered 1700 signatures so far.
3. Don't play their game: You can’t win.
We are trained to seek compromises and solutions that bring different groups on board; we seek consensus. That is a fine approach under normal circumstances, when all agents are acting in good faith. But we must recognize that we are up against agents who are driven—knowingly or unknowingly—by an ideology whose goal is to take over the institution. Every compromise with them brings them closer to their goal [1,3,74,98,123]. Therefore, we must stand our ground.
A major advance in the spread of illiberalism has been the establishment of DEI bureaucracies in our intuitions to enforce CSJ ideology through policy [3,8,98,124-127]. It is important to understand the power of this system and to distinguish the system from the people. A DEI apparatchik can be a nice, well-meaning individual, who has been fooled by the movement’s deliberately deceptive language [1,98]; a cynical opportunist who seeks power and career advancement; or a True Believer. A DEI administrator may be completely unaware of the philosophical origins of CSJ, whose goals the DEI machine has been installed to implement. But just as a Soviet apparatchik need not have read Das Kapital to have been an agent enforcing conformity to Marxist doctrine, a DEI apparatchik need not have read the works of the critical theorists Gramsci, Derrida, Foucault, Bell, Crenshaw, and Delgado to be implementing CSJ-inspired ideology. But even participants who are naive of the movement’s history, philosophy, or ultimate goals are furthering its aims; they are still cogs in the machine. Do not be fooled by DEI administrators who may naively or deceptively deny that they are advancing CSJ ideology. They are, whether or not they know it or acknowledge it.
The power of the system—the DEI bureaucracy—and its ideological foundation make the motivations of the individual participants irrelevant. The story of Tabia Lee illustrates this point . Lee—a black woman who directed a DEI program at a community college in California—questioned anti-racist and gender orthodoxy, declined to join a “socialist network,” objected to land acknowledgments and Newspeak terms such as “Latinx,” “Filipinx,” and neopronouns, and supported a campus event focused on Jewish inclusion and antisemitism. Lee describes her non-orthodox worldview as follows:
I don’t have ideological or viewpoint fidelity to anyone. I’m looking for what’s going to help people and what will help our students and how we can be better teachers and our best teaching selves. 
This attitude was found to be incompatible with the ideology of DEI. When Lee refused to change her worldview to comply with the orthodoxy, she was terminated from her position .
The establishment of the DEI bureaucracy in our institutions represented a tectonic shift from CSJ as a grass-roots movement to CSJ as an official power structure within the university equipped with a massive budget to promote its ideology [124,126,129-132].
A 2021 report by the Heritage Foundation , which documented the size of this new bureaucracy, identified 3,000 administrators with DEI responsibilities among the 65 universities they surveyed [124,131]. This number is in addition to the already extensive staff of Federally mandated Title VI, Title IX, and disability offices, who also perform DEI-related tasks. The new diversicrats already outnumber the mandated staffers. For example, the average university examined had 4.2 DEI personnel for every one ADA compliance administrator . Given the sheer number of DEI officials and their generous salaries (one-third of chief diversity officers are paid more than $200,000 annually ), it is not surprising that DEI budgets are enormous; for example, in 2021, UC–Berkeley dedicated 41 million dollars to DEI .
The DEI bureaucracy is given official status within the university and is empowered to interfere in faculty hiring, to disseminate CSJ ideology by means of mandatory trainings, to infuse the ideology into teaching [10,13,16,25,31], and to curtail academic freedom [42,127]. Khalid and Snyder provide insight into the logic and financial incentives behind the DEI machine:
DEI Inc. is a logic, a lingo, and a set of administrative policies and practices. The logic is as follows: Education is a product, students are consumers, and campus diversity is a customer-service issue that needs to be administered from the top down. (“Chief Diversity Officers,” according to an article in Diversity Officer Magazine, “are best defined as ‘change-management specialists.’”) DEI Inc. purveys a safety-and-security model of learning that is highly attuned to harm and that conflates respect for minority students with unwavering affirmation and validation.
Lived experience, the intent–impact gap, microaggressions, trigger warnings, inclusive excellence. You know the language of DEI Inc. when you hear it. It’s a combination of management-consultant buzzwords, social justice slogans, and “therapy speak.” The standard package of DEI Inc. administrative “initiatives” should be familiar too, from antiracism trainings to bias-response teams and mandatory diversity statements for hiring and promotion. 
The DEI bureaucracy is a categorical enemy. Don't deceive yourself that you can work with it to accomplish good for your institution . This bureaucracy is founded on ideas that are in direct opposition to the liberal enlightenment and humanism [1,3,4,42,79,99,125–128,133,134]. Their goals are not your goals; consequently, you cannot ally or compromise with them. We must, instead, focus our efforts on stripping the DEI bureaucracy of its power, ideally, ridding the institution of it completely. This will not be an easy fight, but neither is it an impossible dream. State legislatures are already taking action against DEI. At the time of this writing, 35 states have introduced bills that would restrict or ban DEI offices and staff, mandatory DEI training, diversity statements, and/or identity-based preferences for hiring and admissions . Recognizing that such bills could go too far and compromise academic freedom, the Manhattan Institute has drafted model legislation that would abolish DEI bureaucracies on campuses while preserving academic freedom . To date, at least one state, Texas, has enacted legislation based on the Manhattan Institute’s model .
Another reason not to attempt to work with the DEI bureaucracy is that CSJ ideology leaves no space for rational dialog. As explained by McWhorter , Pincourt [3,98], Pluckrose , Saad , and others, CSJ is not a rational or empirical worldview, but an ideology whose adherents have accepted a set of unfalsifiable tenets that may not be questioned. Thus, CSJ ideologues are not open to reasoned arguments that contradict their worldview; it is, thus, futile to argue with them. We need, instead, to reason with those of our colleagues who have not yet drunk of the Kool Aid.
Finally, since the goal of CSJ is to take over the institution, small compromises with them ultimately lead to large losses for us. Give CSJ an inch, and it will take a mile. Consider, for starters, the following example, in which the dean of the Duke Divinity School made the mistake of conceding to student activists, which led to ever-increasing demands and personal attacks on the dean herself . “The chickens have come home to roost at Duke’s divinity school,” writes John Staddon. Dean Heath, the dean of the school, fully allied herself with the CSJ agenda, rolled out a variety of DEI initiatives, issued a self-flagellating editorial admitting the “structural sins” of the school, and forced non-conforming faculty to resign. Yet, despite these concessions, the demands of “marginalized groups” only grew stronger, culminating in uncivil acts, such as the disruption of the dean’s state-of-the-school address by “four dissident female students bearing bull-horns and chanting, ‘I am somebody and I won’t be stopped by nobody,’ followed by a rap, a little theatrical performance [of a rude nature].”
There is poetic justice in this incident. Despite the dean’s earnest attempts “to provide a welcoming and safe place for students,” even after she designed “a space for the work of Sacred Worth, the LGBTQIA+ student group in the Divinity School”—even after disciplining, and losing—Professor Griffiths [a non-conforming faculty], in spite all this, she has apparently not done enough! The LGBT folk want more, much more, in the form of 15 demands. “We make up an integral part of this community, and yet our needs remain deliberately unheard.”
The demands include:
“To appoint a black trans woman or gender non-conforming theologian” as well as “a tenure-track trans woman theologian” and a “tenure-track queer theologian of color, preferably a black or indigenous person.”
A dissident MIT website, the Babbling Beaver , illustrates the same point by a mock resignation statement by MIT’s former President Reif:
You would think giving them a Women’s and Gender Studies Program, hiring six dozen DEI deans and staffers, most of whom couldn’t pass 18.01 [MIT’s introductory math course] if their lives depended on it, and cancelling invited lecturers to appease shouting Twitter mobs would be enough,” lamented the weary lame duck. “But noooo ... The only thing I accomplished by giving in to the incessant demands was encouraging additional demands, each more strident than the last.” 
The statement is satire, but the concessions made by the president and the ever-increasing demands were real.
Stories of how CSJ, once it is let in the door, rapidly infiltrates the organization and eventually takes it over are too many to enumerate. We present but one example, where the process has been meticulously documented. The report, sponsored by the organization Alumni and Donors Unite, explains how CSJ took over University of San Diego “first gradually then suddenly.”
Gradually, over the course of a decade, CSJ-DEI became sown into the university’s fabric through changes in hiring committees and curriculum. Then suddenly in 2020–2021 the administration, outside all normal channels of decision-making, initiated a hostile takeover of USD and adopted a radical woke agenda into nearly all facets of the university’s life. 
The devaluation of merit and intellectual honesty in the guise of social justice that we now witness will inevitably lead to the decline of our institutions, if not to their destruction . A case in point is The Evergreen State University, which, in 2017, experienced a notorious CSJ uprising on campus . Since then, the university has suffered a 25% drop in enrollment and has lost 45 faculty through lay-offs and attrition .
Learn how to recognize and take on categorical enemies . Remember—it is a zero sum game.
4. Focus on truth, not partisanship. Do not fear verbal attacks.
When you take on CSJ, there is something you will need to come to terms with: you are going to be called names, and your views and beliefs are going to be distorted and misrepresented. These are standard tactics of the CSJ movement. Since the adherents of CSJ have adopted an ideological, rather than a rational, worldview, they cannot rationally defend it; so they use the only tools they have: personal attacks and strawman arguments. They will call you transphobe, racist, misogynist, alt-right, Nazi, etc., no matter what you say or do. They will use deliberate misrepresentation of your expressions to subvert and discredit them . They will use the “Motte and Bailey” trick  to derail conversations. Learn about these tactics so that you can anticipate, recognize, and counter them . As Gad Saad explains:
The name calling and accusations are locked and loaded threats, ready to be deployed against you should you dare to question the relevant progressive tenets. Most people are too afraid to be accused of being racist or misogynist, and so they cover in silence.… Don't fall prey to this silencing strategy. Be assured in your principles and stand ready to defend them with the ferocity of a honey badger. 
Because you will be attacked no matter what you believe, what you say, or how carefully you say it, there is no point in affirming in your interactions with CSJ ideologues that you are committed to traditional humanistic, liberal values. They don’t care. In her essay “I'm a Progressive, Please Don't Hurt Me,” Sarah Haider calls this practice of hedging “throat-clearing” and explains why it is not effective . She also points out the hidden bigotry of it, that is, the implicit assumption that those on the other side of the aisle are inherently evil. Haider writes:
Before touching on any perspective that I knew to not be kosher among other Leftists, I tended to precede with some version of throat-clearing: “I’m on the left” or “I’ve voted Democrat my whole life.”
I told myself that this was a distinction worth insisting on because 1) it was the truth and 2) because it helped frame the discussion properly—making clear that the argument is coming from someone who values what they value.
But there was another reason too. My political identity reminders were a plea to be considered fully and charitably, to not be villainized and presumed to be motivated by “hate.”
The precursor belief to this, of course, is that actual conservatives should not be taken charitably, are rightfully villainized, and really are motivated by “hate.”
But I’m done sputtering indignantly about being mischaracterized as “conservative,” or going out of my way to remind the audience that I really am a good little liberal.
She goes on to explain that throat-clearing is counterproductive because: (1) it doesn’t work, you won't be spared; (2) it is a tax on energy and attention; (3) it is bad for you; and (4) it is bad for the causes you care about.
So we should stop worrying about our group loyalties and focus on our cause. Truth wears no clothes, so do not try to dress it up in partisan attire. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and move on.
It may be tempting to stay out of the fight in order to preserve friendships. It is true that some people you thought of as friends may turn against you—privately or even publicly. It has happened to us, and it hurts. But it also lets you know who your real friends are—those who stick up for you whether they agree with your views or not. And you will find new friends and allies who share your values. These relationships, forged fighting the good fight, will be enduring and empowering.
5. Do not apologize.
We cannot stress this enough. Your apology will be taken as a sign of weakness and will not absolve you—in fact, it will make matters worse. Apologies to the illiberal mob are like drops of blood in the water to a pack of sharks. Additionally, your apology can be interpreted as an admission of guilt, which can come back to haunt you in the event you need to defend yourself legally or in an administrative proceeding. The Academic Freedom Alliance advises: “If you confess to an offense you didn’t commit, or if you concede to a claim or accusation that is factually inaccurate or not truly an offense, the admission can and will be used against you.”  Recognize that the CSJ activists on Twitter do not care about your apology; they care about publicly flaying you in order to sow fear among other potential dissenters . Someone claims to have been offended by your speech? Someone claims it caused them pain? Fine, that's their problem . You know what your views are. And your friends do too. Stay on message.
6. Build a community and a network.
Communities and networks provide moral support and there is safety in numbers. Some groups already exist. The Heterodox Academy (HxA), for example, provides a platform to organize communities (e.g., HxSTEM is a community of STEM faculty) and to connect with colleagues who are open to reasoned debate, as per the HxA statement, which each member is asked to endorse: “I support open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement in research and education.” The Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism (FAIR) also provides resources and support to those who push back on anti-humanistic policies, especially in schools, universities, and in the medical profession.
Organizations like FIRE and the Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) provide educational resources, opportunities to network, and—most importantly—protection, including legal representation. Join and support them. Build groups and act as a group—e.g., write an op-ed piece with a group of co-authors. Ten people are harder to cancel than one. Counter Wokecraft describes how to identify the allies among your colleagues and how to build effective resistance at your workplace .
Stand up for others. Next time they will do it for you. When you see a colleague being ostracized for what she said, think first, “Which parts of her message do I agree with?” not “Which parts do I disagree with?” If you agree with the main message, say so, and be charitable about imperfect expression. Way too often do we hear colleagues justifying their silence with excuses like “I agree with her in general, but she should have been more careful about how she said this or that.”
Some communities, including mathematicians and psychologists, in response to CSJ takeovers of their professional societies, have simply started new ones [149,150]. Perhaps we need more of these to send a strong message to the old societies that they need to change course. We see evidence of the effectiveness of this strategy; for example, the American Mathematical Society  cancelled its CSJ-dominated blog shortly after the establishment of the new Association for Mathematical Research , whose apolitical mission is simply to “support mathematical research and scholarship.”
In 2022, in response to increasing ideological influence and censorship in their profession, behavioral scientists founded the Society for Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences, dedicated to “open inquiry, civil debate, and rigorous standards” in the field . It publishes the Journal of Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences, which commits to “free inquiry,” “rigorous standards,” and “intellectual exchange” . Notably, its terms and conditions state that the journal will base retraction decisions strictly on the basis of the widely accepted COPE guidelines ; otherwise, the terms and conditions state, “We will never retract a paper in response to social media mobs, open or private letters calling for retraction, denunciation petitions, or the like....” 
There is even a new university—The University of Austin (UATX)—established in response to the current crisis in higher education . The message on the UATX webpage—“We are building a university dedicated to the fearless pursuit of truth”—makes clear what void in the American academy UATX aspires to fill . That the university received over $100 million in donations and over 3500 inquiries by professors from other institutions within six months of the project’s announcement, makes clear the demand .
The success of such new initiatives will inspire more educators and scientists to stand up and defend the key principles of science and education. And it will send a strong message to our leadership. Even if we cannot appeal to their sense of duty, the financial considerations (Go Woke, Go Broke ) and the effect of negative publicity of the excesses of CSJ (such as DEI loyalty oaths, “decolonizing” the curriculum, renaming everything, and Newspeak [9,23,24,139]) may provide incentives to straighten out their act.
Will we succeed? Will we stop the train before it goes over the cliff? We do not know what will happen if we fight. But we know what will happen if we don’t. The task ahead might look impossible. But remember the USSR. It looked like an unbreakable power, yet in the end it collapsed like a house of cards. The Berlin Wall looked indestructible, yet it came down overnight. Recalling his 20 years’ experience in the gay marriage debate, Jonathan Rauch told us: “I can tell you that the wall of received opinion is sturdy and impenetrable...until it isn't. And that it's the quiet people in the room who are the swing vote.... and please illegitimi non carborundum .”
We are not helpless. We have agency and we should not be afraid to exercise it. We should fight not just because it is the right thing to do, but because fighting brings results. If we behave as if we were living in a totalitarian society, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A Russian proverb says, “Fear has big eyes” (у страха глаза велики), meaning that people tend to exaggerate danger. Accordingly, it may feel like resisting the mob will inevitably lead to career damage. But this is not the case; the flip side of risk is reward. In recognition of her activism, including her publication of “The Peril of Politicizing Science” , which “launched a national conversation among scientists and the general public,” Anna Krylov, co-author of this chapter, was awarded the inaugural Communicator of the Year Award, Sciences and Mathematics, by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences . In “Victory Lap” , Lee Jussim, co-editor of the book in which this article will appear, documents how as a result of his public resistance to a mob attack on a colleague falsely accused of racism, his career enjoyed a variety of benefits including additional conferences invitations, massive positive public support for his activism, national attention to his scholarship, and an appointment to a departmental chair (with commensurate increase in salary), which he was offered because he had demonstrated that he could take the heat.
—ANNA KRYLOV AND JAY TANZMAN
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129. Impact Report 2020-2021 by Division of Equity and Inclusion, UC Berkeley; accessed 03/22/2022. Page 91 of the report gives the breakdown of the total 2021 budget of 41 million USD: 65% was used for compensation (i.e., salaries of the diversicrats), 9% for student awards, including scholarships and fellowships, 2% for materials and supplies, and 24% for other operational expenses. Only 9% were used for student support (for "student awards, including scholarships and fellowships”).
130. Greene, J.P. and Paul, J.D. 2021. Diversity University: DEI Bloat in the Academy, The Heritage Foundation.
131. From the report (Ref. 130): “The average university has 45.1 people tasked with promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion. Some universities have many more. For example, the University of Michigan has 163 DEI personnel. Nineteen of those people work in a central office of DEI, headed by a Vice Provost for Equity and Inclusion & Chief Diversity Officer, who is subsequently supported by three people with the title Assistant Vice Provost for Equity, Inclusion & Academic Affairs. Five people are listed in the Multicultural Center, another 24 are found in the Center for the Education of Women, and the LGBTQ Spectrum Center has 12 people. Eighteen people are listed on the Multiethnic Student Affairs website with another 14 found at the Office of Academic Multicultural Initiatives. Moreover, colleges and departments at the University of Michigan have their own DEI staff.”
132. Alonso, J. 2023. Diversity Officer Survey Shows Range of Pay, Budgets, Worries, Inside Higher Ed.
133. Sullivan, A. 2021. Removing the Bedrock of Liberalism. The Weekly Dish.
134. Khalid, A. and Snyder, J.A. 2021. How to Fix Diversity and Equity: Ritualized Regimes of Political Expression Must Be Rejected. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
135. Lu A. et al. DEI Legislation Tracker. The Chronicle of Higher Education.
136. Rufo, C.F., Shapiro, I., and Beienburg, M. 2023. Abolish DEI Bureaucracies and Restore Colorblind Equality in Public Universities. Manhattan Institute.
137. Beeghly, S. 2023. Texas Governor Signs Bill Banning Diversity Initiatives in Public Universities. Jurist.
138. Staddon, J. 2018. Duke Divinity School’s Race to the Bottom. The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.
139. Babbling Beaver (https://babblingbeaver.com/) is a dissident website that exposes and satirizes the Woke at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They disseminate what they call “Real Fake News"—satirical news-like articles that refer to real programs and events at MIT.
140. Anonymous. 2022. MIT President Cancels Himself. Babbling Beaver: Real Fake News.
141. Princetonians for Free Speech. 2021. The Woke Takeover at the University of San Diego.
142. Harris, U. 2020. How Activists Took Control of a University: The Case Study of Evergreen State. Quillette.
143. The Editorial Board. 2020. A Lesson in Campus Consequences. Wall Street Journal.
144. The Motte and Bailey rhetorical ploy is explained, for example, in Counter Wokecraft. The name comes from a type of medieval castle comprising a motte, a well-reinforced tower, and a bailey, a courtyard around the motte, protected by walls and a ditch. The motte is easy to defend but uncomfortable to stay in. The bailey is more comfortable, but also more vulnerable. “The Motte & Bailey strategy involves a proponent who wants to advocate a difficult-to-defend, extreme position (the bailey). When (or if) the extreme position is challenged, the proponent retreats to an easily defendable and easily acceptable position (the motte). The key to the strategy is a hidden false equivalency of the extreme and easily defendable positions." For example, a Woke professor can propose that a faculty search committee advances female candidates. When confronted with objections—e.g., by pointing out to the unfairness of such proposition—the Woke advocate might say: “What, you do not believe that sexism had held women back and limited their professional advances?” This move—retreat to the motte—aims to destabilize the opponent and to distort the nature of the argument. I witnessed this trick in action—its effectiveness is based on the false equivalency between the uncontroversial claim that sexism affected women in the past and the extreme proposition that female candidates should be given a preferential treatment by the search committee.
146. Downs, D., George, R.P. and Whittington, K. 2021. So they’re Trying to Shut You Up: How to Defend Yourself in a Free-Speech Crisis, Whatever Your Politics. The Chronicle of Higher Education; short version is available on the AFA website.
147. Weiss, B. 2022. On Decency and Double Standards at Georgetown. Common Sense.
148. Krauss, L. 2022. Why the Easily Offended Are a Threat to Scientific Progress. National Post.
150. Jussim, L. 2022. Introducing The Society for Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences. Unsafe Science.
151. American Mathematical Society. “The American Mathematical Society is dedicated to advancing research and connecting the diverse global mathematical community through publications, meetings and conferences, MathSciNet, professional services, advocacy, and awareness programs.”
154. Terms and conditions of Journal of Open Inquiry in the Behavioral Sciences.
155. Bartlett, T. 2022. A Controversial College Takes Shape, The Chronicle of Higher Education.
156. University of Austin in Texas, UATX; “Universities devoted to the unfettered pursuit of truth are the cornerstone of a free and ﬂourishing democratic society. For universities to serve their purpose, they must be fully committed to freedom of inquiry, freedom of conscience, and civil discourse. In order to maintain these principles, UATX will be ﬁercely independent—ﬁnancially, intellectually, and politically.”
157. Weiss, B. 2022. The New Founders America Needs. Common Sense.
158. Unsigned. 2020. When brands go woke, do they go broke? CIM: The Chartered Institute of Marketing.
159. “Don’t let the bastards get you down”, see 'Illegitimi non carborundum' Wikipedia article.
160. Dornsife Communication Staff, 2022. Inaugural Communicator of the Year Awards honor scholars who engage with the public.
161. Jussim, L. 2023. Victory lap. Unsafe Science.