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Critical Theory and Social Change

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Published on: January 9, 2017

As we approach the much anticipated end to the Obama presidency, it would be difficult to argue that much of his agenda has not been accomplished. He set out to “fundamentally transform” our culture and looking at America today, it is almost completely unrecognizable. Our culture has changed and American society has come to accept many things that once, would have been unheard of. Homosexual “marriage,” transgenderism, racial riots, the acceptance of government control in health care and the idea that people should be able to freely cross our borders at will are new realities that we live with everyday. While the election of Donald Trump is certainly a repudiation of these new realities, the truth is that nearly half of the electorate is still willing to fight for them while our education system indoctrinates new leftists everyday. How did America, a nation once steeped in Judeo-Christian morals come to accept an agenda that is antithetical to the very values the nation was founded on? The answer can be found by examining a doctrine known as Critical Theory.

Critical theory was developed in The Frankfort School of Social Research, which was an institute designed to study and implement cultural change. This is the birthplace of Cultural Marxism. In 1933 Nazi Germany found the school to be teaching precepts that were in disagreement with the national socialist movement, as Marx and his followers advocated for global communism, so the school was forced to relocate where it found a new home in the United States, at Columbia University.

Critical theory is often times disguised as critical thinking. As students are challenged to critically think about social issues affecting society, they are actually being encouraged to criticize mass culture and view American society as the cause of the problems being discussed. Many people make the assumption that critical thinking implies a thoughtful analysis on how to solve a problem. While the traditional definition of critical thinking supports this idea, all too often left wing professors are offering an alternative view point in the hopes that students will see the culture in which they live as the problem and accept their solution. This is the true purpose of critical theory, to get Americans to criticize their own culture and accept socialism as a solution. Critical Theory could be described as a practical application of the Hegelian Dialectic.

Critical thinking, as traditionally defined, is a method of analyzing information in a disciplined manner with the sole purpose of discovering truth. According to the Critical Thinking Community web page, critical thinking should be based on universal intellectual values that are unbiased while seeking evidence based on consistency and sound reason. The fact that many of our students today are advocating for universal healthcare, laws limiting free speech, gun control and even in some cases, segregation on college campuses shows that there is a serious lack of analytical skills where conclusions are being formulated based on an application of critical theory as opposed to critical thinking. Again, real critical thinking is a process of how to think and come to reasonable conclusions, not the conclusions themselves. Students trained in critical thinking would see the problems inherent in government controlled healthcare and issues they typically advocate for. The following are some key points of critical thinking from the Critical Thinking Community web page.

  • Raise vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
  • Gather and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively while coming to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
  • Think open mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences;
  • Communicate effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems.

Critical theory on the other hand, in an effort to change culture, leaves many of these important elements out. First and foremost, it eliminates a students ability to come to their own conclusions based on reasonable inquiry, as an alternative viewpoint is generally presented as a predetermined solution to the problem being discussed. Secondly, the ideas being discussed are often being presented by a left wing professor acting as a facilitator of change, the sole intent is to convince the student that American society is at fault. The following is the definition of critical theory from the Encyclopedia of Philosophy-

The critique of modernity’s and of capitalist society, the definition of social emancipation and the perceived pathologies of society. Critical theory provides a specific interpretation of Marxist philosophy and reinterprets some of its central economic and political notions such as commodification, reification, fetishization and critique of mass culture.

Here’s how it works. Students in class may be discussing the idea of universal healthcare, and the so called implications of uninsured people on society. First, government run healthcare will be presented as compassionate and effective while citing many of the countries across the world who have socialized medicine. The American system will be presented as one run by greedy insurance companies and being inaccessible by poor people because of capitalism and wealth inequality. The overall goal is to completely discredit, in the minds of students, American society. In other words, they are presenting capitalism as a problem and socialism as a solution. If students were truly trained in critical thinking they would have the wherewithal to discover the ineffectiveness of universal healthcare; however, this is not the case as many of today’s young students demand it.  We see this playing out in the media with issues such as gun control as well. Every time there is a mass shooting, European countries who have strict gun control laws are cited as being a solution to America’s alleged gun problem. Again, America is discredited as a nation where mass murder is rampant and access to murder machines is too easy compared to Europe where they have gun control. A true critical thinker would seek out the numerous studies which indicate that gun control does nothing to reduce crime rates; instead, many in our society are simply trained to just go along because they lack the ability to do anything but criticize our culture. This is the main purpose of critical theory and in many universities they are using critical thinking as a smoke shield to push their agenda for change.

Article posted with permission from David Risselada.

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