-James Lindsay on ‘Critical’ Theory, with some references to the radical roots.
Merely pushing back against the influence of Foucault and Lacan in the academy, or perhaps questioning the motives of student radicals during Paris ’68, can be enough to torpedo an academic career:
My two cents: If your metaphysics is hung upon the bones of a failed theory of (H)istory, with the goal of dismantling civil society, through violent revolution if necessary, then guerilla-style tactics are your best bet.
You don’t have much influence if you don’t gain traction within universities, co-opt many administrative and political institutions, and come to control the largesse of many wealthy donors, seeking to sway opinion through ‘culture.’ Many aesthetes and good critics can end up here, too.
This seems to be the case now in many quarters.
Many other products of the Enlightenment, the rather Romantic idea of (M)an, and (M)an returning to (N)ature through the exultation of the Poets and the Romantic genius, or the mission of bettering all (H)umankind through Western (R)eason and (P)rogress, these seem to be default ideals within the West, often pursued through political idealism.
Liberal idealists, from my point of view, tend to live on similar real estate as many radicals when it comes to change as a first principle (generally a good), and can share similar attitudes regarding religion, tradition, and the rule of law as things which should be looked at, primarily, to change.
If your primary personal, professional, and moral commitments are to the (E)nvironment, (W)omen’s Liberation, or (L)iberation in general, then you are possibly sympathetic to the aims (if not always the methods) of critical theorists. They often speak your language. Fairness and Equality, against some injustice, or perceived injustice, are likely shared moral lights.
As previously posted:
Of some note:
‘There is no morality in art. There is morality in religion; there are philosophical objectives embedded in politics. The two are intertwined in a society and reflected in its art. When you sever art from its cultural moorings and make “newness” the overriding criterion by which the merits of a work are judged, then anything is possible. This results in crap. Not always’
James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Ezra Pound, the Bauhaus, the imagists, the futurists etc. Some of those influences have morphed into post-modernism or where such currents have flowed and keep flowing. Were they the best models, or has much been lost in translation?
‘The primary urge of the revolutionary and the modernist and the adolescent: impatience.’
So, do we aim for maturity? Reverence? Good old Longfellow? Sonnets? Rhyming couplets delivered by higher powers to monks in haylofts?