Friday, September 10, 2021

A Provocation

- Identity politics, white privilege, social justice warriers, cancel culture, political correctness, wokeness, safe space, critical race theory...What is critical race theory?
- Critical theory is the view that all institutions are the disguised vehicle of power struggle, the strong against the weak. Critical race theory is the view that all institutions are disguised vehicles for oppression of blacks by whites.
- What about the use of institutions by men to oppress women, the rich to oppress the poor?
- Not the concern of those involved in critical race theory.
- How can that be?
- Because like with religion what is involved here is a play of symbols, not reality. This is what Karl Marx had to say about religion in 1844:
[....] The criticism of religion has been essentially completed, and the criticism of religion is the prerequisite of all criticism.

The profane existence of error is compromised as soon as its heavenly oratio pro aris et focis [“speech for the altars and hearths,” i.e., for God and country] has been refuted. Man, who has found only the reflection of himself in the fantastic reality of heaven, where he sought a superman, will no longer feel disposed to find the mere appearance of himself, the non-man [Unmensch], where he seeks and must seek his true reality.

The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.
Because a play of symbols is involved, not reality, we can interpret what is going on here as ritual practice. Inviduals who feel weak in personal life get together with others of their kind to rehearse a story of death and rebirth, fighting an enemy to the group, a story of their group dying of their weakness but reborn in the strengh of victory, and in the course of the secure practice of the known-in-advance action of the ritual in the company of others recover a sense of security and personal power. This script or story telling is unchallengeable because it is the vehicle of security and strength of those practicing the ritual. Thus the demand for safe space (free of micro-agressions) for blacks in which to rehearse their rituals, that whites be sensititve to this need for safe space (wokeness), that speech be censored of any criticism of themselves (blasphemy), that whites never make a claim to be invidivually guiltless (white privilege), etc.
- If all institutions are the carrier of racism, what exactly do these social justice warriers want? Anarchy?
- Far from it. What they want is the same as neoliberals: a marketplace left to itself, free of restrictions on efficiency that institutional interference brings with it. When all institutions have been purged of their prejudiced members (cancel culture) the free market will finally be just to members of all races.
- That's absurd. We know after 50 years of practice that when you end government regulation of the market you get monopoly, corporate capture of the government to force privitazation resulting in even more monopoly and control of the market. Don't the critical race theory people know this?
- They don't. They can't.
- Why not?
- Because their identity is tied up with, is in actual fact produced by rehearsal of the ritual in which the innocent blacks die at the hands of whites yet are reborn in their successful striving to equalize their place in the free market.
- You and many others have claimed that the world of international corporations has supported identity politics because it is divisive, since as long as one oppressed group is at the throat of another nothing is done about the rich using the captured government and monopoly to transfer to themselves the wealth of the rest of the country. Now you are arguing that identity politics is directly a form of free market, neoliberal politics. Is that correct?
- Yes.
- Yet the claim that all whites are guilty and that all whites must watch every word they say is made not only or primarily because white words and deeds restrict access to markets, but because they interfere with the practice of ritual story telling which produces racial identity. Maybe these social justice warriers, Black Lives Matter activists believe that once they've freed up the market to themselves and whites have attoned for their original sin, at this judgment day they will be able to put aside their racial, tribal identity.
- Not a chance. In the history of the human species, before the dominance of the state, individuals living in tribes were fierce defenders of their individual autonomy while having little or no self-affirmation, vanity: they valued instead humility. They collectively took measures to block the emergence of hierarchy, by obedience to leaders being made entirely voluntary, by making leaders subject to total tax on their wealth or making them the constant butt of jokes.* These stateless tribes understood the danger to themselves of hierarchical institutions developing. Not so the cancelling, safe space tribalists. They are the opposite. They see themselves only through a ritual of changed places in hierarchy; only within the group of ritual practice do they feel a sense of personal power, can they gloat in getting fired from their jobs those guilty by original sin whose words interfere with the ritual practice of the eternally innocent.

Further Reading: