In an explosive and controversial new book, The Victim Cult: How the Grievance Culture Hurts Everyone and Wrecks Civilizations, public policy analyst and think tank president Mark Milke, Ph.D. explains how society’s current obsession with victimhood has grown toxic to everyone and detrimental to the potential progress of those who cling to it.
In The Victim Cult, he argues that victimhood – always acting the scapegoat – has infected college campuses, corporate boardrooms and family dinner tables alike. Through well-researched and poignant historical examples from the post-Civil War South to today’s debates over institutional racism, Milke explains how and why continued reliance on victimhood as an excuse for a lack of progress and success will doom those stuck in its cycle.
Ethnic and racial prejudice, for example, are perceived as ubiquitous and all but insurmountable. Even the cultural advantages of privilege are now regarded as a cross to bear.
“No one disputes that some people are victims of the wrongdoings of others, and of life. But reparations are an art, not a science,” he says. “Those harmed recently deserve redress from those who harmed them. But going back 100 years or more is an attempt to enforce intergenerational justice. That blames individuals alive today for the sins of the long-dead.”
Milke is no stranger to courting controversy. Over the years, on TV and in keynote speeches, he has addressed issues ranging from the follies of cancel culture and identity politics to why cultural appropriation can actually be good for society. Here he lends valuable context to the longstanding historical phenomenon of self-pitying victimhood. In The Victim Cult, he also shows how early on, one successful American cohort—Asian Americans—rejected victimhood narratives in favor of carving out their place in the American Dream.