Posts Tagged ‘Critical Theories’

Helen Pluckrose Explains to Conservatives that the Left Is also Resisting Woke Postmodernism

August 15, 2022

Helen Pluckrose is one of the trio of academics with Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay who are determined to write about, expose and combat that woke postmodernist theories and ideologies now threatening academia and society. While James Lindsay seems to be a man of the right, with a real hatred of communism, Pluckrose is far more left-wing. She describes her values and beliefs as socialist, but has also said that she now describes herself as a liberal from determination to preserve and uphold liberalism’s essential philosophical values of free speech, logic, reason and individualism. These vital pillars underpinning modern liberal, democratic society are denied and threatened by the new postmodernist disciplines of Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Post-Colonial Theory and so on.

These disciplines reject factual analysis, replacing it instead with language and discourse, and replace logic and reason with assertion and feeling. In her book with James Lindsay, Cynical Theories (Swift Press, 2021) she quotes various postmodernist writers, who make it very clear that they reject facts and logic because that’s not how Blacks and people from ethnic minorities view and interact with the world. Instead, according to these ideologues, non-Whites use instead legend and ‘lived experience’. This irrationalism is shared by White Fascism movements. The Nazis and Italian Fascists also celebrated irrationalism, particularly in the latter’s anti-positivist movement, instead proclaiming that there were certain truths that only members of the nation (Fascists) or Volk (Nazis) could know. Instead of universalism, the Fascists and Nazis also declared that the races had their own set of values, and that modern, democratic civilisation was alien to the Italian and Aryan, Germanic peoples. Despite claiming that they’re fighting racism, the supporters and ideologues responsible for Critical Race Theory repeat some of the same racism as the Fascist right, just from an anti-White quasi-Marxist postmodern perspective.

And I imagine that a number of Blacks and other people of colour are, or would be very annoyed by Critical Race Theory’s assumptions that they are somehow less rational, less capable of using logic, than Whites. This is, after all, the same assumptions White racial theorists made to justify the system of laws keeping Blacks down, in slavery and segregation.

Pluckrose has posted a long essay, ‘A Short Letter to a Misunderstanding Right’ on Lindsay’s New Discourses channel on YouTube. The right frequently claims that the left uniformly supports the postmodern, ‘Critical’ Theories. Matt Walsh does this, as do the Lotus Eaters. In her essay, Pluckrose explains how the Critical Theories have arisen and co-opted parts of standard left-wing ideologies and concerns, but attacks the attitude that the left is solidly behind them. She states that the left is a coalition of different groups, just as the right is. She explains why Communists, Socialists and pro-capitalist liberals also reject the Critical Theories because of their intolerance, their neglect of economics and abandonment of the working class. Gender critical feminists are also strongly opposed to them because they reject the reality of biological sex.

She concludes

‘Nevertheless, while most conservatives are more keenly aware of the problems with Critical Social Justice, they are slow to understand that, like on their own side of the aisle, “the left” is a coalition made up of several factions that do not agree with one another. Just as free-market libertarians cannot reasonably be blamed for the beliefs of anti-capitalist Christian conservatives, who in turn disagree strongly with anti-capitalist conservative Muslims, and center-right classical liberals and center-right social conservatives both also exist and disagree with each other and all the rest of these groups, so too is the left comprised of people with very different ideas who fully understand and consistently oppose each other. We frequently hear much confusion from some conservatives who seem to think Marxism and postmodernism are variations on the same thing and that (in the US) all of them fall into the broader category of “liberal” despite the gallons of ink spilled over the disagreement between all of these factions for decades if not centuries. Very often, we will hear: “The left is all [Critical] Social Justice (Warriors), and if it’s not, why aren’t any of the other lefties opposing them?”

In response, the Marxists, radicals, and most socialists respond with exasperation: with something like, “Are you serious? We were the first to address the issue of postmodernism. We’ve been telling you that postmodernism is a problem for half a century now. Read our critiques of it. Begin with Chomsky vs Foucault in 1971, move on to Fredric Jameson in 1991, and then have a look what the World Socialist Web Site has to say about it right now. Liberal lefties (like me) wonder what more we have to do for you to notice both our existence and our opposition to the irrationalism and illiberalism of postmodernism and Critical Social Justice. I’ve just spent five years criticizing them full-time while advocating liberalism, and yet conservatives who found me precisely because of the criticism (and who often then leave again because of the liberalism) will still ask me why the reasonable left isn’t doing anything, if it even exists. Most of “the left” rejects Critical Social Justice every bit as much as you conservatives do, and it would be both nice and wise if you would start recognizing it and get away from the factionalist power-games mindset yourselves.

So, let’s have a deal. If conservatives can agree not to blame liberals or socialists (or even the radicals, kind of!) for Critical Social Justice, which has co-opted all of our movements and efforts against our will, we on the left can agree not to blame right-leaning libertarians and classical liberals for conspiracy theorists and religiously social conservatives who try to ban teaching of evolution and who want to render homosexuals as second-class citizens again. Your side is a coalition of factions, some of which need cleaning up, and so is ours. Most of us on “the left” are realizing we need to fight those on our Critical Social Justice fringe, and we hope you’ll start to notice.’

It’s a great piece and needs to be read by anyone concerned about the way sections of the right are using these Critical Theories as a weapon to smear and discredit the left.

The essay can be read at: https://newdiscourses.com/2020/03/letter-misunderstanding-right/