‘Counterweight – Keeping the Lights on for Liberalism.’Counterweight is a liberal humanist organisation which values individualism, universalism, viewpoint diversity, and the free exchange of ideas while defending science, reason and rigorous, empirical approaches to knowledge production and addressing issues of justice and equality. Counterweight has been set up to focus specifically on Critical Social Justice (CSJ) as a threat to all of those values but opposes authoritarianism and censorship consistently. We do not support attempts to ban CSJ ideas which people must have the right to hold as a matter of freedom of belief (but not to force on anyone else). Members of Counterweight and users of our services come from all over the political spectrum and have a variety of cultural, ethical, religious and philosophical views. They do not need to identify as liberal humanists. We do, however, expect them to support equal freedoms, rights and opportunities for all humans under the law and the equal value of all humans regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or any other identity category.
LiberalismWe define liberalism as a non-partisan conflict resolution mechanism, not a political ideology. Liberalism is a system that makes use of the sheer diversity of human thought and the plurality of views that exist on almost every subject imaginable to encourage civil, reasoned debate for the purposes of advancing knowledge, finding common ground and making reasonable accommodations for divergent viewpoints Liberalism is not the solution to disagreement, but it does enable the societal conditions where resolutions can be achieved without recourse to violence or authoritarianism. As such, we believe that principled people from across the political spectrum have a vested interest in protecting the foundations of liberal society.
Humanism, Individualism and UniversalismWe centre human wellbeing and tolerant co-existence in our work, and believe our shared humanity transcends shallow political and ideological divides and identity groupings. We reject ideologies that seek to diminish individual agency and the rich diversity of human thought through homogenizing group categorization and the idea that knowledge or values are determined by identity. We oppose erroneous and unethical prejudices like racism, sexism and homophobia, which violate values of universal human dignity and equality. We reject fatalistic explanations of the continued existence of prejudice that hold that everybody is unavoidably socialised into white supremacist, patriarchal or homophobic beliefs. We believe that individuals can choose not to hold bigoted views and we seek to defend and advance the moral consensus that they should be expected to do so. We contend that remaining injustices in our societies should be addressed seriously and conscientiously using the most rigorous scientific, empirical and rational methods at our disposal. This entails being able to investigate all potential causes of social disparities including those which contravene the social constructionist views of Critical Social Justice without fear of cancellation or censorship.
Our Aims○ To continue building a community and creating a groundswell of people who feel confident that they understand CSJ and can oppose it in principled ways.
Who are we?Counterweight is an organisation that provides individuals with practical information and expert guidance to resist the imposition of Critical Social Justice (CSJ) ideology on their day to day lives. Our primary focus is on the individual in trouble and connecting them with the specific resources, advice and guidance their particular problem requires. However, we also offer a refuge for casualties of the culture wars and a supportive, non-partisan community which connects people with others in their particular sphere of work. Counterweight was founded by Helen Pluckrose and is run by her team, with the support of dedicated volunteers from the Counterweight Community.
Why was Counterweight formed?Following the death of George Floyd and the BLM protests, new policies and training programmes based on contested Critical Social Justice ideology suddenly began to be proposed or implemented in many workplaces, universities and schools. Individuals who found CSJ at odds with their own principles, values or beliefs felt a responsibility to speak out against the imposition of it in their institution. Many who did so were formally censured, disciplined or fired for voicing their conscientious objection to the new orthodoxy. Many more self-censored their dissent for fear of such consequences. Thousands of such individuals then turned to public figures who had spoken against the threat to liberal societies posed by Critical Social Justice beliefs for help and advice and the demand was unmanageable. Counterweight in the form of a Discord Server was created to triage the incoming appeals for help, prioritise people facing immediate danger of disciplinary action while providing practical information, community support and effective tools of action to people with less urgent problems. Resistance to authoritarian impositions of Critical Social Justice beliefs is most effective when individuals speak from a place of knowledge of CSJ and feel confident to articulate their opposition in a principled way. Counterweight supports people to understand the theoretical basis of the CSJ ideology as it manifests in their lives and provides a community space where liberalminded people from across the political spectrum can network and engage in civic discourse.
What does Counterweight do?
○ We receive referrals of individuals facing a CSJ-related problem and take the details of their case. We can then determine whether they can be helped by being directed to appropriate advice pathways or if they need referring on to a legal adviser, a more senior person in their own field, a theoretical advisor or a formal or informal group designed to serve their needs.
○ We encourage and facilitate the forming of action groups within certain spheres of work and support them to develop their own networks for pushing back at CSJ.
○ We unite these groups under the Counterweight umbrella so they can work co-operatively across spheres.
○ We network with other organisations in the same general sphere.
○ We gather data and file incoming information about individual cases and policies and training programmes to build a picture of what precisely is happening and where.
○ We liaise with people in influential institutions. People sympathetic to our aims and concerns keep us abreast of developments in their institution
○ We are in communication with schemes to develop ‘non-woke’ employment schemes.
○ We research people’s legal rights and liaise with trade unions.
○ We solicit helpers with various kinds of expertise who volunteer their time. These range from lawyers to artists. We are especially proud of our volunteer mental health support network.
○ We produce accessible scholarship in the form of books, articles, podcasts and videos.