What Is Critical Theory?
We’ve prepared this post to explain Critical Theory, and how this is playing out in New Zealand.
** You can also view and download the full Critical Theory fact sheet here… Fact Sheet
THE GROUND IS SHIFTING. ARE YOU READY?
While the cultural heat rises around us, we sit like a frog in the pot not noticing the rising temperature. Despite an ever deepening appreciation for social justice; we see racial, ethnic, class and gender divisions growing bigger. Despite widespread acceptance of the bi-cultural beauty of Aotearoa, New Zealand, and the increasing use of Te Reo Māori; racial hostility and tribalism continue to increase. Terms like “Systemic racism”, “White guilt” and “White privilege” are being enthusiastically embraced by schools, organisations, and governments – yet do we even understand what they mean?
“We are going through a great crowd derangement. In public and private, both online and off, people are behaving in ways that are increasingly irrational, feverish, herd-like and simply unpleasant. The daily news cycle is filled with the consequences. Yet while we see the symptoms everywhere, we do not see the causes.”
Douglas Murray, The Madness of Crowds
There is a cause, and it’s a radical and dangerous new way of thinking about human identity and value, and how it presumably plays out with power, privilege, oppression and justice.
KNOWN BY MANY NAMES
Like a mist constantly changing, it goes by many names including:
- Critical Theory or Critical Race Theory (CRT): CRT is a sub-set of Critical Theory focused on race.
- Cultural Marxism, Neo-Marxism and Intersectionality: The more formal academic terms you may hear from time to time.
- Anti-Racism: The term used to avoid using Critical Race Theory.
- Identity Politics: An older term used outside of academic circles.
These may sound daunting and complex, but don’t be intimidated. The ideas behind these terms are actually quite simple and can be recognised easily, once you know what to look for. We will use the term Critical Theory in this Fact Sheet since this has become the most commonly used term.
WHAT’S “CRITICAL” ABOUT THIS THEORY?
The term Critical Theory refers to a way of seeing and thinking about the world around us in a “critical” way; that is to look critically for ways in which people are being unjustly oppressed. It wants to deconstruct all traditional systems, structures and institutions, particularly when they are being used to impose social, political or economic power by one group over another.
Like so many dangerous ideas, there is a kernel of truth to its core assumption: That racism, sexism and discrimination are ever-present. Prejudice against people who are different from us is a sad reality of the human heart, and one which we constantly need to fight if we are to have the just and fair society we desire. But unfortunately, Critical Theory goes far beyond rightly identifying this universal problem, and proposes a cure which is far worse than the disease. Ironically, the theory itself is not being “critically” examined for flaws by those who promote it, so we have identified the following eight assumptions it makes so you can recognise it when you see it.
Here are 8 flawed assumptions that underpin Critical Theory:
- All minority groups are oppressed
- Groups are either Oppressed or Oppressors
- All suffering of someone in a minority group is evidence of oppression
- You can be guilty of a crime based on your group identity
- You can be innocent of a crime based on your group identity
- Active discrimination is acceptable against “privileged” groups
- Someone’s “Lived Experience” of oppression must not be questioned
- Equity and Freedom can coexist
Read about these flawed assumptions in more detail in our CRT fact sheet.
INTIMIDATION AND CENSORSHIP
In the past, these obscure ideas may have been debated in the halls of academia. But now they are infiltrating every part of culture; from media, to corporate offices, schools and government departments. There is no shortage of examples and you’ll see it everywhere once you are equipped to recognise it.
Businesses are adopting “Diversity & Inclusion Training” programs to brainwash their staff into accepting these assumptions without question. In this training you are told to “be less white” and “be less oppressive” . In truly Orwellian fashion, “Equity and Inclusion” departments are springing up to serve as political offices to search for, stamp out and re-educate any dissenters.
Dare to question, and you will be called “racist”, “sexist” or whatever-phobic. Everyone is walking on eggshells for fear of failing the “woke” purity test. The threat of “cancel culture” is an ever-present warning that your job, career and reputation are on the line.
WHAT IS WOKE?
To be Woke is to have been “woken up” to the important social justice issues of the day and hold a more radical progressive view on issues of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality and identity. Under Critical Theory, to be Woke is to have one’s eyes opened to the hidden power dynamics that are assumed to exist at all levels of society.
WHAT DO NZ’ERS THINK?
** You can also view and download the full Critical Theory fact sheet here…