Critical Theory has an activist agenda that goes far beyond social reform and carries serious risks. It promotes an activist agenda that has spilled out of university campuses and into our schools, businesses, defence forces, the not-for-profit sector, the churches, the medical profession, and much of the media.
In Cancelling the Culture: Critical Theory and the Chasm of Incoherence, Centre for Independent Studies researcher Peter Kurti explains that the influence of Critical Theory on our language, culture and institutions raises three significant dangers.
“Firstly, we are confronted with the erosion of tolerance when ‘unacceptable’ opinions are denounced,” Kurti says. “Secondly, there is the emphasis of difference by promoting discrimination as a good thing. And thirdly there is the incitement of rage and anger that makes reasonable discourse impossible.”
Critical Theory is obsessed with the idea that biases and imbalances of power in society are hidden from view by dominant cultural structures, such as use of language and the ways in which knowledge is imparted. It rejects an ordinary understanding of truth and meaning. Instead, truth is arrived at by listening to the ‘lived experience’ of members of marginalized groups which can be expressed in terms of purely subjective feelings and intuition.
When words — such as ‘racism’ — lose their ordinary meaning and have a specialised meaning applied, it becomes impossible to pursue intelligible conversations about not only social, cultural, and political matters — but about anything. When words no longer mean what we think they mean, Critical Theorists can evade calls for accountability or explanation.
Society’s structures are deemed ‘problematic’ by Critical Theory which claims the structures need to be identified, exposed, and overturned in the name of Social Justice. This makes Critical Theory a dangerous, revolutionary ideology.
Critical Theory does not aim simply at social reform but at revolution. This revolutionary taint makes it especially dangerous and heightens the importance of both understanding and resisting its agenda. Kurti outlines four key actions to which we must commit:
- Take courage, because broad public opinion is on our side.
- Restore reason and shun Critical Theory’s inherent incoherence.
- Reclaim truth, so ordinary meaning will be restored and promoted.
- Never surrender, because Critical Theory will prevail only if we allow it.
“Chaos beckons,” he says. “As words lose their common meanings, making intelligent community ever more difficult, we edge ever closer to the deep and forbidding chasm of incoherence.”