Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Navigation

The Atlantic: The Folly of 'Purity Politics'

By Julie Beck
The Atlantic

Against Purity (Alexis Shotwell)There’s no way for a person living in the world to truly do no harm.

Take the environment. Even if you only eat vegetables that you grow in your own garden and only travel to places you can bike or walk to, if you still use electricity, or throw away garbage, you’re still somewhat contributing to the forces behind climate change.

And yet, people are still enticed by paths that promise purity. This is the diet that will keep your body “clean” and “toxin-free.” (Whatever is meant by “toxins.”) These are the clothes to wear without contributing to bad labor practices. This is the political philosophy that is 100 percent morally correct.

In her book Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times, Alexis Shotwell argues that “personal purity is simultaneously inadequate, impossible, and politically dangerous for shared projects of living on earth.” Focusing on maintaining your own innocence or goodness is counterproductive, she says, to actually fixing the world’s problems.

Read the full article.

Related content
Against Purity