Friday, April 1, 2022

Critical (Everything) Theory

Traditional theory vs. Critical Theory.

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids
 — the Stickies
 — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted. 
Best perused on a screen large enough for even your parents to see and navigate easily.   

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating meltdown.  

Featuring Dana: Hallucination, guest star, and charming literary device  

"It is much easier to be critical than to be correct." -Benjamin Disraeli 

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP), a critical theory "...must be explanatory, practical, and normative, all at the same time." This concise definition is a distillation of the broken-hearted Marxist's philosophy developed by the scholars of the "Frankfurt School," who developed the theory back in the 1930s.

This was prior to them fleeing Germany and heading for the USA so as to understandably avoid being rounded up by Heir Hitler and friends who had devised a rather unpleasant final solution to rid themselves of all sorts of folks they didn't much care for that Ghengis Khan would've envied.

{Explanatory, practical, and normative?}

From the SEP: " must explain what is wrong with current social reality, identify the actors to change it, and provide both clear norms for criticism and achievable practical goals for social transformation" (my emboldening).

{Right... Okidoke.}

From me (well, from my research): A mere traditional theory attempts to account for/explain the reason something occurs in the world. 

Critical Theory starts with a conclusion, that the traditional social arrangements most H. sapiens take for granted, particularly those folks who are the children of what used to be called Western Civilization, are an unmitigated mess. 

And furthermore, most of the he/she/theys who take them for granted are too damn dumb to realize that we need to burn 'em down and start over, from scratch. Hey hey, ho-ho, current social reality's gotta go.  

One of my heroes, James Lindsey, explains the big three thusly. A critical theory: 

1. Must have an idealized vision for society.

2. It must explain how the existing society doesn't live up to that vision

3. It must inspire social activism on behalf of achieving that perfect world. 

{Bend over. This is going to hurt for a bit, but in the end, you'll thank me? Wait-wait-wait. Heartbroken Marxists? What's critical theory got to do with Marxism?}

Ever hear one of Lenin's "useful idiots" declaring that communism is actually a good idea, that it just hasn't been properly implemented, yet? Well, the critical theorists were upset about what had happened in Russia after the revolution and which was becoming harder and harder to ignore/explain away. 

Also, they were pissed off at the working class for not overthrowing the corrupt bourgeoisie in various and sundry countries and setting up dictatorships of the people. 

Marx had got it wrong, the proles were easily duped by rising standards of living, consumer goods, and "...the technological developments that allow cultural products, such as music, movies, and art, to be distributed on a massive scale," among many other things

{You made that quote up!}

Nuh-uh! it's from Simply Psychology and an article that was the first hit that came up when I googled critical theory. Not exactly light reading, although an excellent analysis, it explains in (mostly) everyday English what critical theory is, but without much in the way of details as to how its acolytes are going about implementing it. 

What's a Wokie to do? After all, "cultural hegemony" ensures that "...the rule of the dominant group is achieved by the spread of ideologies—beliefs, assumptions, and values—through social institutions such as schools, churches, courts, and the media, among others."

Easy-peasy. Train and indoctrinate a dedicated guerilla army whose soldiers think they're saving the world, and then turn them loose. There are now Critical Theories of pedagogy, law, gender, globalization, race, geography, literature, etceterature. 

Critical Race Theory is currently getting a lot of attention, Dick and Jane (dated Boomer reference) feel guilty about their white privilege. 

“Let’s be clear: Critical race theory is not taught in elementary schools or high schools. It’s a method of examination taught in law school and college that helps analyze whether systemic racism exists,” -Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers

Technically speaking, that statement is not a lie, your honor. 

The ball did get rolling in law schools and colleges, but it's now bouncing all over the country. CRT ain't being taught in grade schools, it's being implemented in grade schools, as outlined in this article

Remote learning and helicopter parenting aren't all bad. Joe and Joan Bagadonuts, and Zach and Meadow Bagabrie, now know what's going on in this, that, and even that other school, the one they can't afford to send Dick and Jane to. 

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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