What Is Critical Theory?
Critical Theory is a worldview: a lens through which one perceives the world and their experience in it. If you’re a Sapient subscriber you’re likely a Christian or conservative. The values in these worldviews shape your opinion, and thus, your actions. You probably support capitalism, traditional marriage and go to church on Sundays. Generally speaking, you do so because of the values in your worldview. A counter example is leftism. Leftists’ opinions and actions are shaped by a worldview with opposite values. This is the fundamental cause of differences between Christian conservatives and Leftists.
Critical Theory originated in the Frankfurt School at the Goethe University of Frankfurt. It debuted on the social-philosophy scene with the publication of Max Horkheimer’s essay “Kritische Theorie” in 1937. Discontented with the 1930s socio-economic landscape, Frankfurt School theorists began to publish literature based on this new “Critical Theory”. Critical Theory views the world in power dynamics. According to them, all social dynamics are embedded with power struggles–baked into the cake. An oppressor group is perpetually suppressing another and such are the systems the oppressor creates. A Critical Theorist would view laws, legislative actions and cultural systems as vehicles of oppression to keep lower classes surpassed–irrespective of intention.
Critical Theorists aim to “expose” embedded suppressions. Hence, their social-philosophy theory is “critical”.
If you hear someone say “All of these structures stem from the patriarchy–even if they don’t mean to, they oppresses women. You, as a man, suppress women by participating in society.” the person’s idealogical framework has Critical Theory underpinnings.
Examples of Critical Theory
Marxism is a classic example. Marxism is also a worldview, though it’s aligned closely with Critical Theory–one could say itself is a “critical theory”. Marxism submits society is ultimately composed of two classes: The Proletariat and The Bourgeoisie. The Proletariat is broadly defined as the working class, the men and women at the bottom of the social-socioeconomic hierarchy. The Proletariat works in the factories and businesses owned by The Bourgeoisie; the upper-middle class who are of a higher social-socioeconomic status. They suppress The Proletariat, and thus are undeserving of their position and power, according to Marxism.
Critical Race Theory is now the most known Critical Theory. CRT originated as a way to view laws, and claimed all laws had racism “baked into the cake” and oppress a people of color. In the Harvard School of Law, CRT held a respectable reputation at one point if you can believe it.But contemporary CRT theorists claim racism is not an individual sin. Rather, racism is an omnipresent, abstract miasma. According to CRT, American culture and all of the systems in Western society suppress people of culture. White people are considered racist a-priori, before any evaluation of individuals. Yes–CRT theorists go as far as making psychoanalytic claims.
From Kimberlè Crenshaw, arguably the well esteemed CRT scholar:
“The end of Jim Crow has been accompanied by the demise of an explicit ideology of white supremacy. the white norm, however, has not disappeared; it has only been submerged in popular consciousness.”
What Have Been The Consequences?
The USSR embraced Marxism, building their government and economic system on it. This application of Marxism turns into communism. Per communism, all things are equal and there are no power struggles. There is no Bourgeoisie or Proletariat–there are simply citizens. All citizens have the same wealth and status as many everyday life things are provided by the government.
But this resulted in the centralization of power, wielded by Joseph Stalin. This effectively resulted in the death of ~15 million people, a result of starvation and forced labor camps. Stalin ordered the exile of 1/3 million Kulaks into the Siberian tundra–those who were successful peasant-farmers. This was in efforts against “The Bourgeoise”.
CRT hasn’t had enough time to grossly infect The West, though I predict much of today’s racial divide is the effect of CRT thinking and application. Most of the popular Woke books stem from CRT thought. Robin DeAngelo’s and Ibram X. Kendi’s books are widely circulated and are recommended reading in universities–and in the military.
These books are rife with CRT thought, both authors suppose that racism is embedded in the fabric of America. White people, no matter how much they repent, cannot rid themselves of their racism according to these authors. Their books have sparked an era of unconscious bias trainings and programs. Some universities beginning to segregate students based on color in the name of “Anti-racism”– which is applied Critical Race Theory.
Critical Vax Theory
First it was Proletariat versus Bourgeoise. Then, it was Black versus White. Now, it’s The Unvaccinated versus The Vaccinated. From The White House:
“The bottom line: We’re going to protect vaccinated workers from unvaccinated co-workers. We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increasing the share of the workforce that is vaccinated in businesses all across American. We cannot allow these actions [of the unvaccinated] to stand in the way of protecting the large majority of Americans who have done their part and want to get back to life as normal.”
These words imply oppression. The Unvaccinated are framed to be a life-hindering force. The oppressed ones are The Vaccinated. When looking at further remarks from Biden he doesn’t exactly make it subtle.
“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin. And your refusal has cost all of us. So, please, do the right thing.”
Once again, we see two “classes” given names, and the surrounding rhetoric places them opposed to another. Assumptions of the individuals in each class are made–just like Critical Theories of the past have done. Marxism assumes The Bourgeois oppress The Proletariat via socio-economic means; CRT theorists assume all Whites are racist, oppressing people of color by carrying out everyday tasks. Now, Critical V*x Theory assumes The Unvaccinated oppress The Vaccinated. Unvaccinated have “cost all of us”, according to Biden, and “stand in the way” of “protecting unvaccinated workers”. It’s eerily similar to the aforementioned Critical Theories.
White people oppress people of color by existing. Unvaccinated oppress Vaccinated by breathing, apparently.