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Welcome to New Discourses! We like to think of this place as a home for the politically homeless, especially for those who feel like they’ve been displaced from their political homes because of the movement sometimes called “Critical Social Justice” and the myriad negative effects it has had on our political environments, both on the left and on the right.
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A Biological Foundation for Socialism?

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Breaking the Woke Strategy | OnlySubs with James Lindsay, Ep. 47

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The Virus of Critical Social Justice

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When Critical Theory Took on Race

by Matthew Nielsen
Introduction
Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been gaining traction in organizations throughout the Western world for over 50 years, but increasingly so for the past 5 years leading up to 2021. It is either highly criticized or highly-regarded, with little room for fence-sitting—a phenomenon facilitated by the widespread adoption of social media. This essay will attempt to provide additional information about the connections between Critical Race Theory and its philosophical parent Critical Theory (CT).
A thorough reading of the historical development of both philosophical disciplines reveals a genealogy that is closer than simple intellectual similarities.
A brief overview and explanation of Critical Race Theory will be followed by its history. Next, we will discuss Critical Theory, its origins, supporters, and key assumptions. Lastly, we’ll look at how CRT and CT are related by exploring their common genealogy and conceptual frameworks.
Critical Race Theory
What is it?
Everything in our world is power, the distribution of which is mediated by race (e.g. broad categorizations of Asian, Black, Caucasian, Hispanic, Native, Pacific Islander, etc.).[1] Every human construction, from governments to homeschool co-ops, are embedded in racial structures that fundamentally build or dismantle racism and white supremacy. All people, regardless of socioeconomic status, location, or personality cannot help but perpetuate or undermine systems of racial oppression. This is Critical Race Theory in a nutshell.
For adherents of this theory, Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream is idealistic nonsense. The only path of progress is through the rubble of a completely dismantled America. Why? Critical Race Theory (CRT) asserts that the very structure of society is systemically oppressive to minority populations, and that racism is built into the very fabric of social life. So much so, that even when overtly racist policies, practices, or actions are ‘removed’ or ‘rectified,’ racism still exists—it is simply manifesting in new ways.[2]
As a result, racism cannot ever truly be solved, according to CRT. This belief creates a truly dangerous situation. Children are being taught that they live in a society that is riddled with racism and hate. They are being told that, due to factors outside their control—their melanin levels—they are oppressed, or they are the oppressors. They are also being taught that there is no resolution to this problem. Consider what havoc this is likely to wreak on young minds. “We have a problem. You are the problem, and there is no way to fix it. You’ll never be able to do enough to repair the damage that you perpetuate simply by existing.” CRT is incredibly disempowering. Children who are placed in the ‘oppressed’ category are told that the system is rigged against them. In such a situation, why should a child make any attempt to succeed?
Where did it come from? 
Like many ideas, CRT is the product of the combining of other, older ideas. In this case, it started as Critical Legal Studies—the combination of race relations (arguably the social issue of the late 1960’s in America) and the study of the law. A man particularly well-positioned to push this new theory forward, the founder of Critical Race Theory, was Harvard Law professor Derrick Bell. Bell (1930-2011) was the first black tenured law professor at Harvard. He was 40 years old at the time of his hiring.
The ideas and works of Derrick Bell are largely variations on a theme that was laid out over 65 years earlier by W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963). While Bell continues to be seen as the modern founder of CRT, his ties to Du Bois, if only conceptually, are readily acknowledged by CRT scholars.[3]
Du Bois was a political economist who began his undergraduate studies at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, then moved on to Harvard University. At the time, some of the most prestigious universities in the world were in Germany. He spent two years in Germany studying on a scholarship from the Slater Fund, which ended before he could complete his PhD. While he was there, he wrote letters in which he mentioned several of his professors—some of them more than others. W.E.B. Du Bois completed his studies in Germany in 1894.
Critical Theory
What is it?
Everything in our world is power. Systems and structures are created to maintain and build upon that power. Governments, organizations, businesses, and even hobby clubs exist solely to maintain and build power. Critical Theory’s goal is to intellectually emancipate society from oppression. Critical Theory is “…practical in a distinctively moral (rather than instrumental) sense.”[4] In other words, “critical” arguments are formed and founded in rhetoric—only. You cannot test their claims with any instrument of measurement. This is Critical Theory in a nutshell.
So, if you can’t test its claims, how can anyone know whether its claims are true or not? This requires faith or ‘suspension of disbelief,’ whichever you prefer. What value does it really have to anyone? So far, it’s been a very effective method of creating additional faculty jobs at universities. It has the added benefit of creating for its proponents social protections that are granted to ‘allies of the oppressed.’
Where did it come from? 
Goethe University Frankfurt was one of the preeminent universities during the interwar period of the early 1900s. During this time, the Institute for Social Research was created by Friedrich Pollock and Felix Weil with a professor of political law and economy at University of Vienna named Carl Grunberg installed as its first director. The Institute was bankrolled by Weil, a wealthy student at Frankfurt. All of them were neo-Marxists. While they agreed with Marx, they felt many gaps were left in his writings that required development and explanation. The Institute (now commonly referred to as The Frankfurt School) was formed with the vision of filling in those conceptual gaps through the work of its members. Most notably, these scholars argued, in effect, “Not only was the Social Democratic leadership too wishy-washy and compromising, its voting constituencies among the working classes were themselves clueless about their real needs and their real but masked state of oppression.”[5] By this time, the leading lights of the Institute had agreed that what the Marxists really needed was an aristocracy—a role they could fill. The major result of this work is what is now known as Critical Theory.
Some of the Frankfurt School’s more recognizable names include Horkheimer, Marcuse, Adorno, and Grunberg. Of course, they each differed from one another on particular points of their ideology, but the fundamental theoretical underpinnings—noted above—of the School were largely undisputed among members of the Institute.
Max Horkheimer—who was involved with the Institute from the beginning—pursued his doctoral studies under Hans Cornelius, a neo-Kantian philosopher, at Frankfurt. Horkheimer was a major influence on The Frankfurt School, becoming its second director after the departure of Grunberg due to illness. Both Grunberg and Horkheimer were skeptical of epistemology and reason. They fostered that skepticism among others through their writings and speaking events. While they nurtured doubts about shared reality and objectivity, they pursued Kant’s anti-Enlightenment ideas that prioritized subjectivity and emotion.
The ideas that emanated from the scholars of the Institute for Social Research—Critical Theory—continue to influence the Western world today.
A Common Thread
Gustav von Schmoller was one of the frequently-mentioned professors in W.E.B. DuBois’ letters back home. Carl Grunberg also studied under Schmoller during his stint at Strasbourg from 1872-82.
While no one can be completely sure exactly how much influence Schmoller had on either DuBois or Grunberg, it seems perfectly reasonable to surmise that it was more than zero. And, given both of Schmoller’s eminent students went on to espouse similar positions on the proper framework through which to judge reality, the possibility seems even more likely.
So, who is Schmoller, then? He was born in Heilbronn, Germany in 1838. His father, as a civil servant in Wurttemberg, was a wealthy and influential man with connections to those in power. Gustav was entrusted with the operations of some of his father’s affairs which gave him experience with government, bureaucracy, the economy, and other integral systems that are constituent pieces of a functioning society. At the time, a prerequisite for consideration of an appointment within the government was completion of a university degree in Kameralwissenschaft a discipline “…which combines public finance, statistics, economics, administrative science, history, and even sociology.”[6]
After working for his father for some time, rather than stick to government work, Schmoller decided to teach at a university. He was already a committed “communitarian,” having gained and retained full faith in the state’s ability to manage the entire economy in such a way that productivity and efficiency would be maximized.
For Schmoller, economic theory required a thorough consideration of all potential factors that could affect economic activity. And, as he himself had prescriptions for what the ideal society should look like, he provided social commentary willingly.
Economic behavior is embedded in a cultural style specific to one epoch, one historical structure of meaning, which happens to favor an economic style marked by certain "habitual moral sentiments" (Schmoller 1923a, 22), values, and norms. Therefore, if the most elementary object of economic analysis, economic action, has an ethical, cultural, and religious dimension, then the economic theory purporting to explain it must also encompass the interrelationship of ethical, cultural, and religious factors.[7]

Schmoller sought and advocated for social reforms in the name of social justice that aligned with his prescriptions. He reasoned that the study of political economy was properly oriented when it was focused on the psychology of economic action. “The true desideratum of economic research was, therefore, a psycho-social description of the motivations of human action.”[8]
Conclusion: Intellectual Brothers
Schmoller’s ideas about the psychology of economics found expression in W. E. B. Du Bois’ work on the influence of racism in American economic and political life. Carl Grunberg’s Institute for Social Research was the birthplace of Critical Theory—an admixture of Schmoller’s psychology of economics and Marxism, where Marxism is the interpretive structure and economic psychology is the object of study. Both Du Bois and Grunberg were communists—with Du Bois writing a series of articles in support of Marxism during the 1930s and ultimately joining the Communist Party very late in life in 1961.[9] Both of them believed in a worldview that categorized everyone as oppressor or oppressed. Du Bois critiqued society using race as a frame of reference. Grunberg used social class as his.
Both Critical Theory and Critical Race Theory have at least one common progenitor: Gustav von Schmoller. Their common teacher joins Du Bois and Grunberg as intellectual brothers if their works did not show enough similarities to comfortably make that claim.
This article is adapted from the forthcoming book, Critical Condition: Destructive Ideologies in America’s Classrooms.
  1. Biologists do not use the term “race” to differentiate between people with variations in melanin levels. Race is a purely cultural and rhetorical phenomenon, which has no basis in biology.
  2. Delgado, R., Stefancic, J. (1998). Critical Race Theory: Past, Present, and Future, Current Legal Problems, 51(1), 467–491, https://doi.org/10.1093/clp/51.1.467
  3. Avshalom-Smith, D. (n.d.) Toward a philosophy of race: W.E.B. Du Bois and critical race. 1619: Journal of African American Studies. Retrieved on 2021 May 10: https://www2.ccsu.edu/afamjournal/?article=419.
  4. Stanford University (2010). Critical Theory. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/
  5. Hicks, S.R.C., (2004). Explaining postmodernism: Skepticism and socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. Ockham’s Razor. 140.
  6. Fischer, W., (1968). Schmoller, Gustav. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. New York. The Macmillan Company and The Free Press. 14(60).
  7. Nau, H. H., Steiner, P. (2002). Schmoller, Durkheim, and old European institutionalist economics. Journal of Economic Issues. 36(4)1005-1024.
  8. Nau, H. H., Steiner, P. (2002).
  9. Jackson, J. E. (1961). W.E.B. DuBois to Gus Hall: Communism will triumph. I want to help bring that day. The Worker. Retrieved on 2021 May 10: https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/from-the-peoples-world-archives-w-e-b-dubois-joins-the-communist-party/.


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Be a Rebel: Enjoy Life | OnlySubs with James Lindsay, Ep. 46

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Why You Can Be Transgender But Not Transracial

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History Killers: New Historians Ignore Anti-capitalist Arguments by Southern Slavers

by James M. Masnov

In his “Letter from a Pennsylvania Farmer, Letter VII” (1768), John Dickinson argued—in protest to the taxes imposed by England’s Parliament against those living in the American Colonies, that those “who are taxed without their own consent, expressed by themselves or their representatives, are slaves. We are taxed without our own consent, expressed by ourselves or our representatives. We are therefore—SLAVES.”[1] The language of slavery by resistors and revolutionaries during the years that preceded the American Revolution challenges modern sensibilities due to the overt hypocrisies involved in a slave-practicing society arguing for natural rights while simultaneously denying those very liberties to others in their midst. It is an enormous task in the field of American Revolutionary History to recognize this challenge and not attempt to evade it. The discipline required for reasoned and rigorous scholarship regarding the matter means approaching the subject with sober analyses and dispassionate observations. It is not a historian’s role to deify nor to vilify, but to elucidate the inherent complexities of a difficult past. The intersection of slavery, the American Revolution, and the founding of the constitutional republic of the United States can also inspire, for some, an impulse to assume the worst of the revolution’s participants, and conclude that their language of liberty was nothing more than self-serving rhetoric. To do so is to offer a reductionist view lacking in nuance or insight, and only serves to provide for a politically convenient though historically dubious position. Facts counter to a particular narrative are dismissed and surface-level evidence is amplified. Enter: the new historians of capitalism.
A so-called new history of capitalism is currently very much in vogue and has been in ascendance over the past decade or so. It is promoted by various prominent academics, including Sven Beckert and Christine Desan at Harvard University. The introduction in their book, American Capitalism: New Histories (2018), declares, “Slavery’s relocation into capitalism is only the beginning point for a group of scholars studying racialization as an enduring American strategy for the coercion and control of labor, particularly African American labor.”[2] There may well be quality scholarship within the work of the new historians of capitalism but the assertion above obscures rather than explicates the relationship between natural rights, capitalism, and slavery in Colonial America and United States history.
Capitalism, as market economies came to be known, was advocated by seventeenth-century philosopher John Locke through his championing of private property rights. Locke promoted the cultivation of land as a means of self-fulfillment and as part of a natural human impulse to facilitate a private sphere. He asserted that the labor “of [man’s] body and the ‘work of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labor with it, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property.”[3] Locke also believed that reciprocal trade was beneficial to humankind and fostered good relations. Eighteenth century Scottish philosopher and economist, Adam Smith, made similar arguments for what he called the invisible hand of the free market. Smith’s The Wealth of Nations (1776) would prove to be influential upon American thought. Through the influence of Enlightenment thinkers like Locke and Smith, the United States became a nation designed upon natural rights principles which included free markets and private property rights.
Some Marxist scholars, including participants in the new history of capitalism, seek to conflate market economies, private property rights, and the history of American slavery. Doing so encourages a narrative that capitalism is a tool of oppression and that slavery is merely a market economy in its most naked form. It presumes a disingenuousness among American founders who struggled publicly and privately to address the institution of slavery, particularly framers like Thomas Jefferson and George Mason who confessed to slavery’s immorality even as they participated in the practice. Worst of all, the new history of capitalism ignores well-documented evidence that the natural rights thesis which gave birth to liberal capitalism and individual rights was, at its core, antithetical to slavery. Framers like James Wilson saw the birth of the new republic and the reining in of the slave trade, outlined in the Constitution in 1787, as a sign that slavery in America would soon be in decline. Furthermore, his state of Pennsylvania had passed legislation that put slavery on a gradual path of extinction and Massachusetts had ended slavery by decree of its highest court a few years earlier. Perhaps most damning of the new history of capitalism’s scholarship is the ignoring or diminishing of the fact that some of slavery’s most vocal defenders in the nineteenth century were themselves critics of capitalism. As the institution of slavery exploded in the American south in the decades following the American founding, slave apologists identified themselves as ardent critics of both natural rights and market economics.
Possibly the best case for discounting the premise that slavery was a capitalist scheme (or is it that capitalism was a slavery scheme? The new historians essentially argue both theses simultaneously) is the writings of nineteenth century slavery apologist, George Fitzhugh. Fitzhugh’s 1856 book, Cannibals All! Or, Slaves Without Masters, is three hundred pages of anti-capitalist/pro-slavery prose. His condemnation of free labor in the North rests upon an explicitly anti-Lockean, anti-natural rights thesis:
It seems to us that the vain attempts to define liberty in theory, or to secure its enjoyment in practice, proceed from the fact that man is naturally a social and gregarious animal, subject, not by contract or agreement, as Locke and his followers assume, but by birth and nature, to those restrictions of liberty which are expedient or necessary to secure the good of the human hive, to which he may belong. There is no such thing as natural human liberty, because it is unnatural for man to live alone and without the pale and government of society.[4]

Fitzhugh, incredibly, asserted that slaves were treated better by their masters in the South than they were under free labor by their employers in the North. He recommended that people in the North:
set your miscalled free laborers actually free, by giving them enough property or capital to live on, and then call on us at the South to free our negroes. At present, you Abolitionists know our negro slaves are much the freer of the two; and it would be a great advance towards freeing your laborers, to give them guardians, bound, like our masters, to take care of them, and entitled, in consideration thereof, to the proceeds of labor.[5]

Fitzhugh’s paternalistic tone betrayed the egregiousness of his message. Free labor, he argued, should not be free, and should instead be cared for by their employers through property and other accommodations. On the surface the message appears empathetic, but at its heart is a declaration that slavery is a more generous and moral institution than a laissez faire market economy.
Among the most glaring and explicit pieces of evidence among Fitzhugh’s polemic that counters the new historians’ thesis is his overt denunciation of the American founding and its principles:
We do not agree with the authors of the Declaration of Independence, that governments “derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.” … All governments must originate in force, and be continued by force. The very term, government, implies that it is carried on against the consent of the governed[6] … Physical force, not moral suasion, governs the world. The negro sees the driver’s lash, becomes accustomed to obedient cheerful industry, and is not aware that the lash is the force that impels them.[7]

Natural rights principles, including property ownership and liberal capitalism, were tenets that broke history out of the long tradition of slavery and the supposed necessity of human bondage. Once natural rights was overtly asserted and a new nation was founded on such principles, the conflicting character of slavery stood in stark contrast. Justin Buckley Dyer observes, “What seems obvious to us now – that it was a gross contradiction to hold some men in chains while declaring the right of all men to live free – was equally obvious to many during the founding era.”[8] If anything, the language of natural rights and the system of government instituted during and after the American Revolution to carry out such a philosophy shed further light on this blatant hypocrisy and subverted slavery’s legal and moral legitimacy.
One of the most important voices of abolition in the nineteenth century, Frederick Douglass, argued that slavery was not a feature of the American project, but a bug. His arguments reveal that the case against slavery was the same American, natural rights case against indiscriminate power. The evil of slavery was not due to its force alone but in its violation of natural rights. Douglass observed, “you may surround the slave with luxuries, place him in a genial climate, and under a smiling and cloudless sky, and these shall only enhance his torment and deepen his anguish… [It is] absolute power over the body and soul of his brother man… [that degrades the] moral nature.”[9]
As Justin Buckley Dyer observes, “The Constitution, according to Douglass, was morally justified as supreme law because it was, in its essence, opposed to the exercise of arbitrary power.”[10] Furthermore, Douglass saw the American system as an emancipating influence and referred to the Constitution as a “glorious liberty document.”[11] Douglass’s condemnation of slavery was thus part of the legacy of natural rights arguments against capricious rule.
One need not be a free market absolutist to recognize that the new history of capitalism, not unlike the 1619 Project, seeks to manipulate history—and exploit the historical illiteracy of many Americans—to forward a particular Marxist narrative. The practitioners of this project have every right to do so, as free expression and academic freedom are hallmarks of a healthy, liberal society. Conversely, other historians should be prepared to provide some public peer review of such scholarship and note the historical inaccuracies and evasions within the work.
Conflating slavery with capitalism may appear to possess some surface-level logic upon first glance. There is a record of institutions exploiting their labor force for the sake of profit and there is no more blatant example of the exploitation of labor than slavery. That is where the similarities begin to fray, however, as the history of liberal capitalism also includes slave apologists who attacked both capitalism and natural rights, while figures like Frederick Douglass—who experienced slavery first-hand—defended natural rights, the Constitution, and the role free labor and property rights played in empowering free people. The new history of capitalism is an argument well-suited for the kind of shallow-thinking activist who reads nothing more than headlines and can’t be bothered with the details. It is not worthy, however, of the kind of deep analysis and evidence-based scholarship that academic history requires. By that metric, the new history of capitalism deserves a failing grade.
References
[1] John Dickinson, “Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer, No. VII,” reprinted in The American Revolution: Writings from the Pamphlet Debate, 1764 – 1772, edited by Gordon S. Wood (New York: Penguin Random House, 2015), 450.
[2] Sven Beckert and Christine Desan, American Capitalism: New Histories (New York: Columbia University Press, 2018), reprinted at Harvard Business School site: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-new-history-of-american-capitalism.
[4] George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, Or, Slaves without Masters(1856) (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1988), 71. https://hdl-handle-net.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/2027/heb.04951. EPUB.
[5] Ibid., 223-224.
[6] George Fitzhugh, Cannibals All!, Or, Slaves without Masters (1856) (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1988), 243. https://hdl-handle-net.proxy.lib.pdx.edu/2027/heb.04951. EPUB.
[7] Ibid., 248-249.
[8] Justin Buckley Dyer, Natural Law and the Antislavery Constitutional Tradition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 17.
[9] Frederick Douglass, The Frederick Douglass Papers, Blassingame, ed., 3:8
[10] Justin Buckley Dyer, Natural Law and the Antislavery Constitutional Tradition (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 180.
[11] Frederick Douglass, “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro,” Life and Writings Volume 2 (New York: International Publishers, 1950), 202.
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Burning Through Trust | OnlySubs with James Lindsay, Ep. 45

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A Summary of Neo-Marxism

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I Act; Therefor I Am. Dear Trans Kids: Stop Feeling and Start Thinking

by Donna M.

A few weeks ago, a teacher at my kid’s school shared a bit of wisdom that has rocked my world. She taught the kids that there are four mental stages; feeling, thinking, planning, and doing. People can only be in one stage at a time, and people get frustrated when others are in different stages than they are. If you’ve ever had to bite your tongue while you listened to someone vent, you know this is true. If you’ve ever been married, you know this is true. If you’ve ever parented, you know this is true.
Recently, I joined the twitter world to exchange ideas (that’s the “thinking” stage, there) about the concept of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) and the impact of this on teen boys. While many people have shared insights and resources, I’ve observed a typical accusation that certain trans-identified people toss out: “You are saying we don’t exist!”
At first, this struck me as a bewildering non-sequitur. Are they really saying because I have different ideas about transgender theories or gender identity, that I must think their bodies aren’t present in the world? How would I explain that their typed grievances are popping up on my screen? Must I subscribe to a complex superstition of phantoms in the machine? Debating the points of trans identity in fact implies the opposite: I don’t spend time arguing about the Loch Ness Monster or fairies or unicorns, because they do not exist.
On second thought, I utilized the old psychology switcheroo to better understand this: projection. This makes sense. These twitter people are actually questioning and barking about their own existence. Somewhere along the line they got stuck. They are frozen in the “feeling” stage, and are under impression that feelings = existence. And deep inside, despite their passionate feelings, they realize that an existence centered on feelings isn’t very satisfying. They worry that they don’t exist.
As babies, our first mental flickers are indeed feelings. Instinct and our reptilian brain process hunger, cold, discomfort, warmth, rough, cozy, full, poopy. Miraculously, within a few weeks, we begin to think: that face brings comfort. That food tastes good. Soon after, we get to planning: I want that Cheerio on the tray. Then action: I’m going to grab it and put it in my mouth.
Of course, as we all know, mastering this feeling, thinking, planning, acting process can be pretty complex. Impulsively, we leap before we look. We sink into the sandpits of depression. We fill our lives with meaningless activities without stopping to smell the roses. Getting everything right all the time is hard. This is human nature.
And within our lifetimes, we see a broader pattern of this story. Childhood is for mastering feelings. High school and college are for mastering thinking. In our twenties we learn to plan and act. Later in life, we circle around to better know ourselves; our feelings and our thoughts. To wisely evaluate the effectiveness of our planning and actions. To confirm our plans and actions align with our values (aka “thoughts”).
But development on both the individual level and the societal scale requires moving up this ladder from feelings to action. We do not beat the Nazis, cure polio, or reform the justice system by looking at our navels and wallowing. Feeling is just the first step. We think, plan, act. That’s progress.
This is what our parents, grandparents, and teachers have been telling us for years. Get off the couch. Get a degree. Grow that garden, write that book. Yes- your feelings show you are alive. Congrats – you exist just like everyone else. But your thoughtful, considered actions prove you are living. Your obituary will list the things you have done, the relationships you have built, not the emotions you have felt.
To these trans twitter activists, I urge you to pull yourselves out of your sink hole of emotions. You are more than your feelings, truly. Your dramatic displays of outrage may temporarily satisfy a primal itch, but true self-knowledge and self-actualization comes with some effort and work. It’s got nothing to do with your gender- believe me. Do not circle in that flotsam. No “gender feeling” will ever bring you meaning or true fulfillment.
The only way forward is through your brain -- not your sexual organs. You got your "dysphoria." Fine – that’s a feeling. Now start thinking: why would I suddenly feeling like I dislike my body? Is there something actually physically wrong with it? Is there something appealing about the stereotypes associated with the other sex? Is there some trauma I’ve experienced or observed associated with my sex? Would external changes truly affect my internal feelings? Am I actually trying to avoid sexuality? Or growing up in general?
It’s about your brain and your hands. Get out there and get to work. You’ll feel better, I promise, and you’ll stop wondering if you exist.
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Five Ugly Truths About Critical Race Theory

by James Lindsay
Critical Race Theory is currently getting a ton of attention on the national and international stage, which is long overdue, but there are also many misconceptions about it. Here are five questions that many people are asking about Critical Race Theory along with straight answers, explanations, and a raft of proofs from the Critical Race Theory literature itself. My hope is that people will be able to use these proofs to show people that Critical Race Theory is every bit as bad as its critics contend.
Since these proofs run rather long in some cases, here are the questions and answers as a summary:
  1. Is Critical Race Theory racist? Yes.
  2. Does Critical Race Theory advance the vision and activism of the Civil Rights Movement? No.
  3. Does Critical Race Theory say all white people are racist? Yes.
  4. Is Critical Race Theory Marxist? Yes and no.
  5. Is Critical Race Theory an analytical tool for understanding race and racism? No, not really.

Question: Is Critical Race Theory racist?

Answer: Yes.
Critical Race Theory begins by asserting the importance of social significance of racial categories, rejecting colorblindness, equality, and neutrality, and advocating for discrimination meant to “level the playing field.” These things lead it to reproduce and enact racism in practice. It also explicitly says that all white people are either racist or complicit in the system of racism (so, racist) by virtue of benefiting from privileges that they cannot renounce.
Examples:
“We all can recognize the distinction between the claims "I am Black" and the claim "I am a person who happens to be Black." "I am Black" takes the socially imposed identity and empowers it as an anchor of subjectivity. "I am Black" becomes not simply a statement of resistance but also a positive discourse of self-identification, intimately linked to celebratory statements like the Black nationalist "Black is beautiful." "I am a person who happens to be Black," on the other hand, achieves self-identification by straining for a certain universality (in effect, "I am first a person") and for a concommitant dismissal of the imposed category ("Black") as contingent, circumstantial, nondeterminant. There is truth in both characterizations, of course, but they function quite differently depending on the political context. At this point in history, a strong case can be made that the most critical resistance strategy for disempowered groups is to occupy and defend a politics of social location rather than to vacate and destroy it.” From “Mapping the Margins,” Stanford Law Review, by Kimberlé Crenshaw, p. 1297.
“The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist. … The only remedy to racist discrimination is antiracist discrimination. The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” From How to Be an Antiracist, by Ibram X. Kendi (pseud. for Henry Rodgers), p. 19.
“Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.” From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, first edition, p. 3.
“Critical race theorists (or “crits,” as they are sometimes called) hold that color blindness will allow us to redress only extremely egregious racial harms, ones that everyone would notice and condemn. But if racism is embedded in our thought processes and social structures as deeply as many crits believe, then the “ordinary business” of society—the routines, practices, and institutions that we rely on to effect the world’s work—will keep minorities in subordinate positions. Only aggressive, color-conscious efforts to change the way things are will do much to ameliorate misery.” From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, first edition, p. 22.
(See also below, in proofs for the question of whether Critical Race Theory says all white people are racist.)

Question: Does Critical Race Theory advance the vision and activism of the Civil Rights Movement?

Answer: No.
Critical Race Theory refers to that vision as “traditional approaches to civil rights” and calls it into question. The Civil Rights Movement called for living up to the foundational promises of the United States (and other free nations) and incrementally changing the system so that those original ideals were met. Critical Race Theory rejects incrementalism in favor of revolution. It rejects the existing system and demands replacing it with its own. It rejects the liberal order and all that goes with it as being part of the system which must be dismantled and replaced. It is therefore fundamentally different than the Civil Rights Movement (and is explicitly anti-liberal and anti-equality).
Examples:
“Crits are also highly suspicious of another liberal mainstay, namely, rights.” From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, first edition, p. 23.
“Unlike traditional civil rights, which embraces incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.” From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, first edition, p. 3.
“We all can recognize the distinction between the claims "I am Black" and the claim "I am a person who happens to be Black." "I am Black" takes the socially imposed identity and empowers it as an anchor of subjectivity. "I am Black" becomes not simply a statement of resistance but also a positive discourse of self-identification, intimately linked to celebratory statements like the Black nationalist "Black is beautiful." "I am a person who happens to be Black," on the other hand, achieves self-identification by straining for a certain universality (in effect, "I am first a person") and for a concommitant dismissal of the imposed category ("Black") as contingent, circumstantial, nondeterminant. There is truth in both characterizations, of course, but they function quite differently depending on the political context. At this point in history, a strong case can be made that the most critical resistance strategy for disempowered groups is to occupy and defend a politics of social location rather than to vacate and destroy it.” From “Mapping the Margins,” Stanford Law Review, by Kimberlé Crenshaw, p. 1297.

Question: Does Critical Race Theory say that all white people are racist?

Answer: Yes. 
More specifically, Critical Race Theory says that all white people are either racist or that they are complicit in a “system of racism” (so, racist) that they wittingly or unwittingly uphold to their own benefit unless they are “actively antiracist” (and usually even then). Those benefits of “whiteness” are labeled “white privilege” in general and are said to be outside of the scope of things that white people can intentionally renounce. The most they can do is “strive to be less white” and to become aware of and condemn “whiteness” as a system.
Examples:
“Wildman and Davis, for instance, contend that white supremacy is a system of oppression and privilege that all white people benefit from. Therefore, all white people “...are racist in this use of the term, because we benefit from systemic white privilege. Generally whites think of racism as voluntary, intentional conduct done by horrible others. Whites spend a lot of time trying to convince ourselves and each other that we are not racist. A big step would be for whites to admit that we are racist and then to consider what to do about it.”” From Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy, by Barbara Applebaum, p. 15.
“The relevant point for now is that all white people are racist or complicit by virtue of benefiting from privileges that are not something they can voluntarily renounce.” From Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy, by Barbara Applebaum, p. 16.
“The white complicity claim maintains that all whites are complicit in systemic racial injustice and this claim sometimes takes the form of “all whites are racist.” When white complicity takes the latter configuration what is implied is not that all whites are racially prejudiced but rather that all whites participate in and, often unwittingly, maintain the racist system of which they are part and from which they benefit.” From Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy, by Barbara Applebaum, p. 140.
“The white complicity claim maintains that all whites, by virtue of systemic white privilege that is inseparable from white ways of being, are implicated in the production and reproduction of systemic racial injustice.” From Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy, by Barbara Applebaum, p. 179.
“Here we find a claim about complicity that is addressed to all white people regardless of and despite their good intentions. What I refer to as “the white complicity claim” maintains that white people, through the practices of whiteness and by benefiting from white privilege, contribute to the maintenance of systemic racial injustice. However, the claim also implies responsibility in its assumption that the failure to acknowledge such complicity will thwart whites in their efforts to dismantle unjust racial systems and, more specifically, will contribute to the perpetuation of racial injustice.” From Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy, by Barbara Applebaum, p. 3.
“White privilege protects and supports white moral standing and this protective shield depends on there being an “abject other” that constitutes white as “good.” Whites, thus, benefit from white privilege in a very deep way. As Zeus Leonardo remarks, all whites are responsible for white dominance since their “very being depends on it.’” From Being White, Being Good: White Complicity, White Moral Responsibility, and Social Justice Pedagogy, by Barbara Applebaum, pp. 29–30.
“Many critical race theorists and social scientists alike hold that racism is pervasive, systemic, and deeply ingrained. If we take this perspective, then no white member of society seems quite so innocent.” From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, first edition, pp. 79–80.
“…a positive white identity is an impossible goal. White identity is inherently racist; white people do not exist outside the system of white supremacy.” From White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin DiAngelo, p. 149.

Question: Is Critical Race Theory Marxist?

Answer: Yes and no.
It is accurate to say that Critical Race Theory is mostly Marxian but not specifically Marxist. It is more accurately adapted from neo-Marxism, which is in turn adapted from Marxism.
The main difference is that Marxism is concerned primarily with economic class and rejects racial categories in favor of workers’ solidarity. What this means is that Critical Race Theory operates like Marxism but using race instead of economic class as the line of “social stratification,” above which people are “privileged” or “oppressors” and below which people are “marginalized” or “oppressed.” This social order is assumed in Critical Race Theory as “the ordinary state of affairs” and analyzed in the same way Marx analyzed across class stratification. Namely, Marx’s “conflict theory” (a.k.a. “critical philosophy,” so Critical Theory of Race, i.e., Critical Race Theory) is the tool for analyzing society, which is assumed to be totally racialized (by white people).
For those who understand Marxism, where Marxism sees capitalism as a superstructure that organizes society and determines the outcomes of the privileged (bourgeoisie) and oppressed (proletariat) classes, Critical Race Theory sees “white supremacy” as a superstructure that organizes society and determines outcomes of the privileged (white) and oppressed (BIPOC) classes. From there, it is functionally identical except that it operates primarily in the realms of cultural production rather than in the realm of economic and material production.
Critical Race Theory is most accurately “critical constructivist,” which is to say a form of race-based neo-Marxism (Critical Theory) with some postmodernist (social constructivist) characteristics.
Examples:
“The critical-thinking tradition is concerned primarily with epistemic adequacy. To be critical is to show good judgment in recognizing when arguments are faulty, assertions lack evidence, truth claims appeal to unreliable sources, or concepts are sloppily crafted and applied. For critical thinkers, the problem is that people fail to “examine the assumptions, commitments, and logic of daily life... the basic problem is irrational, illogical, and unexamined living” (Burbules and Berk 1999, 46). In this tradition sloppy claims can be identified and fixed by learning to apply the tools of formal and informal logic correctly. 
“Critical pedagogy begins from a different set of assumptions rooted in the neo-Marxian literature on critical theory commonly associated with the Frankfurt School. Here, the critical learner is someone who is empowered and motivated to seek justice and emancipation. Critical pedagogy regards the claims that students make in response to social-justice issues not as propositions to be assessed for their truth value, but as expressions of power that function to re-inscribe and perpetuate social inequalities. Its mission is to teach students ways of identifying and mapping how power shapes our understandings of the world. This is the first step toward resisting and transforming social injustices. By interrogating the politics of knowledge-production, this tradition also calls into question the uses of the accepted critical-thinking toolkit to determine epistemic adequacy.” From “Tracking Privilege-preserving Epistemic Pushback in Feminist and Critical Race Philosophy Classrooms,” Hypatia, by Alison Bailey, p. 881.
“Our analysis of social justice is based on a school of thought known as Critical Theory. Critical Theory refers to a body of scholarship that examines how society works, and is a tradition that emerged in the early part of the 20th century from a group of scholars at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany (because of this, this body of scholarship is sometimes also called “the Frankfurt School”). These theorists offered an examination and critique of society and engaged with questions about social change. Their work was guided by the belief that society should work toward the ideals of equality and social betterment. 
“Many influential scholars worked at the Institute, and many other influential scholars came later but worked in the Frankfurt School tradition. You may recognize the names of some of these scholars, such as Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, Walter Benjamin, and Herbert Marcuse. Their scholarship is important because it is part of a body of knowledge that builds on other social scientists’ work: Emile Durkheim’s research questioning the infallibility of the scientific method, Karl Marx’s analyses of capitalism and social stratification, and Max Weber’s analyses of capitalism and ideology. All of these strands of thought built on one another.” From Is Everyone Really Equal?, by Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo, second edition, p. 50.
“As the reader will see, critical race theory builds on the insights of two previous movements, critical legal studies and radical feminism, to both of which it owes a large debt. It also draws from certain European philosophers and theorists, such as Antonio Gramsci and Jacques Derrida, as well as from the American radical tradition exemplified by such figures as Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Black Power and Chicano movements of the sixties and early seventies.” From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, first edition, p. 4.

Question: Is Critical Race Theory an analytical tool for understanding race and racism?

Answer: No, not really (there’s a tiny sliver of yes here, in a misleading sense).
Critical Race Theory describes itself as a movement of activists and scholars. This is not exactly what one would expect from a mere “analytical tool.”
More accurately, Critical Race Theory is a worldview, not a means of analysis. Critical Race Theory begins from the underlying operating assumptions that race is constantly being imposed by a “white supremacist” society (“systemic racism”) and that racism is therefore the ordinary state of affairs in society. It believes further that racism is effectively impossible to eradicate within the existing “white supremacist” system and therefore that it has merely hidden itself better, when it seems to be diminished or less impactful. Critical Race Theory is the tool that allows the people who have awakened to a “Critical Consciousness of race” (i.e., Critical Race Theorists) to detect hidden racism in everything. This is a way of viewing the world, however, not a way of analyzing the world as it is.
Examples:
“Racism exists today, in both traditional and modern forms. All members of this society have been socialized to participate in it. All white people benefit from racism, regardless of intentions; intentions are irrelevant. No one here chose to be socialized into racism (so no one is “bad’). But no one is neutral – to not act against racism is to support racism. Racism must be continually identified, analyzed and challenged; no one is ever done. The question is not ”did racism take place”? but rather “how did racism manifest in that situation?” The racial status quo is comfortable for most whites. Therefore, anything that maintains white comfort is suspect. If you are white, practice sitting with and building your stamina for racial discomfort” -Robin DiAngelo (Link)
“The critical race theory (CRT) movement is a collection of activists and scholars interested in studying and transforming the relationship among race, racism, and power. The movement considers many of the same issues that conventional civil rights and ethnic studies discourses take up, but places them in a broader perspective that includes economics, history, context, group- and self-interest, and even feelings and the unconscious.” From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, first edition, pp. 2–3.
“First, [most critical race theorists assume] that racism is ordinary, not aberrational—“normal science,” the usual way society does business, the common, everyday experience of most people of color in this country. Second, most would agree that our system of white-over-color ascendancy serves important purposes, both psychic and material. The first feature, ordinariness, means that racism is difficult to cure or address. Color-blind, or “formal,” conceptions of equality, expressed in rules that insist only on treatment that is the same across the board, can thus remedy only the most blatant forms of discrimination … The second feature, sometimes called “interest convergence” or material determinism, adds a further dimension. Because racism advances the interests of both white elites (materially) and working-class people (psychically), large segments of society have little incentive to eradicate it.” From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, first edition, p. 7.
“Many critical race theorists and social scientists alike hold that racism is pervasive, systemic, and deeply ingrained. If we take this perspective, then no white member of society seems quite so innocent. The interplay of meanings that one attaches to race, the stereotypes one holds of other people, and the need to guard one’s own position all power- fully determine one’s perspective. Indeed, one aspect of whiteness, according to some, is its ability to seem perspectiveless, or transparent. Whites do not see themselves as having a race, but being, simply, people. They do not believe that they think and reason from a white viewpoint, but from a universally valid one—“the truth”—what everyone knows. By the same token, many whites will strenuously deny that they have benefited from white privilege.” From Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, first edition, pp. 79–80.
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America's Overseers: How the Example of Harvard Discredits the Meme of Black "Marginalization"

by Alexander Zubatov

Among the many spells the wicked witches of the woke West have cast upon us is the one that compels us to believe that blacks (and other minorities) are eternally “underrepresented” and “marginalized” in America. This shibboleth is repeated uncritically again and again until we are bludgeoned into accepting it as a cornerstone of the hastily erected, shoddily constructed, lightning-rod-tipped imaginary tower that goes by the name of “systemic racism.” But whatever truth it might have had in earlier epochs, the marginalization thesis is, in the 2020s, a patent exaggeration and, in many respects, a gross error. It is high time to dislodge this bit of bad code from the program.
I should confess, first, that I have never really understood what “marginalization” is supposed to mean or why it is problematic for any nation to have its default settings, whether institutional, cultural or linguistic, calibrated to the majority rather than to all its multifarious minorities. A majority of voters in a democracy will predictably seek to institute its preferences; this, indeed, is the very purpose of people coming together to form a nation in the first place, as the late conservative philosopher Roger Scruton has argued in England and the Need for Nations. So long as others are treated with dignity and respect and accorded an equal legal right to participate in significant opportunities, I see no particular reason for them to be “centered” rather than “marginalized.” Because of the logic of collective action and dynamics of block voting that are easier to navigate for smaller, more tightly knit interest groups than for the diffuse majority, any ethnic or racial minority that grows sufficiently substantial will rapidly gain the ability to wield political influence disproportionate to its population percentage, as the economist Mançur Olson has explained. The majority should not have the additional obligation to refurbish its entire culture to cater to all the disparate and conflicting preferences of all the possible Others who may live within the nation’s borders or who may later find their way in by hook or by crook.
But, be that as it may, taking “marginalization” and “underrepresentation” on their own terms, any intellectually defensible notion of these phenomena cannot content itself with merely throwing out numbers purporting to show facial disparities and blurting out “racism!” as Ibram X. Kendi would have us do, but rather, should consider why any disproportion exists. Thus, for example, one cannot look at a university physics department and complain that black faculty are underrepresented without dealing with the glaring fact that blacks account for only around 3% of bachelor’s degrees in physics, so that, if anything, it is the latter rather than the former fact that needs to be explained.
Even without delving down to this more granular level of analysis to look behind surface disparities, however, the reality is that, at this point in time, taking only bare population percentages, blacks are no longer underrepresented and marginalized in many respects that matter. First, despite the fact that the corporate media, especially lately, sometimes seems to be spending something like 90% of its air time on coverage of what it deems anti-black racism, blacks actually represent around 13% of the American population. Notwithstanding the endless gripes about purported racism in the entertainment industry, as of 2018-19, blacks accounted for 24% of all lead acting slots on broadcast t.v., 12.9% of cable t.v. leads, and 18% of cast members on broadcast and cable shows. Blacks were also cast in 15.7% of top film roles as of 2019. These numbers are, of course, from before the Great Awokening of 2020, and we should have every expectation that the numbers are still more skewed today.
But black faces are not only getting significantly more than their proportionate share of airtime in fiction on t.v. The overrepresentation and blanket coverage of issues of race and racism, both real and imaginary, whether on t.v., on the radio, in print news or on social media and other online media, are not, I would hope, facts I need to prove empirically at this point. For those interested in what data has to say, however, there is a good argument to be made — one that, indeed, has been made in compelling fashion by Zach Goldberg here — that the divisive racial hysteria that has engulfed much of the country in the last few years is driven by the media’s sensationalized and relentless coverage of race and alleged racism rather than the other way around, viz., any actual uptick in racism driving the spate of media coverage. This is a point given further substantial support recently by the University of London’s Eric Kaufmann’s report on the subject of racism’s social construction, which shows that perceptions of racism in America are largely motivated by larger political affiliations rather than by real-world circumstances.
With black people and issues of alleged anti-black racism at the very front of so many stages today, then, in what sense are black people still “marginalized”? In the sense that actually matters, the marginalization/underrepresentation narrative tells us in response. Conspicuous displays of melanin, the story goes, are reserved for frontstages, i.e., smiling black faces on t.v. screens and in glossy company and university brochures, while all the power behind the scenes is still exercised by the usual suspects: old white men.
In response to this artful dodge, I want to tackle an actual and conspicuous example: Harvard University. Harvard, we can surely agree, is at the epicenter of institutional power in America. But like many contemporary universities, and especially elite universities, Harvard is hard at work using that institutional power to lead an attack upon the culture that created it. Harvard’s English major, for example, was revamped in 2008 to eliminate the chronological survey courses that had given our ever-more functionally illiterate and culturally ignorant students a fundamental background in English literature and substituted electives that would allow them to avoid substantial portions of the British canon and go globetrotting through the diaspora instead. In 2017, Harvard added a requirement that English majors take a victimology course in “marginalized” authors. As it stands now, the revamped English curriculum goes further still, requiring our already intellectually backward contemporary students starting with the Class of ’23, lacking any proper grounding in the English literary tradition, to begin at the end, with a class entitled “Literature Today,” i.e., since the year 2000, which “address[es] current problems of economic inequality, technological change, structural prejudice, and divisive politics.” The subtext is on the surface: this is a prescriptive class in contemporary progressive politics, with the pretext of literariness failing to disguise the bait-and-switch.
The radical agenda is not limited to the curriculum, of course. In 2016, Harvard’s law school, for example, shamefully caved to a student-led pressure campaign to cancel its official seal reproducing the family coat of arms of its founder, Isaac Royall Jr. The reason was Royall’s ties to slavery, despite the fact that the actual crest in no way indicated so much as Royall’s name, such that anyone wishing to uncover the tenuous link to slavery would have had to go to the trouble of figuring out what the design was about and then research the gentleman at issue. Illustrating the hypocrisy of these newly woke institutions, moreover, Harvard, while vanquishing its symbolic ties to Royall, did not see fit to sever its far more substantial material ties to Royall by returning the valuable piece of real estate that he had generously bequeathed to the university to found its law school.
Harvard has also notoriously discriminated against Asian-Americans, downgrading them on intangible “personality” metrics to increase the share of blacks admitted (almost 15% of those admitted, as compared, again, to blacks’ 13% population share), such that an Asian-American with a 25% chance of getting into the university would have a 95% chance of admission if he or she could only check the “African-American” box on the application form. Asian-Americans, moreover, have to score at least a whopping 250 points higher on the S.A.T. than black Americans in order to gain entry to the university. What all of this means is precisely what one would expect: blacks have the highest “admit rate” at Harvard, while Asians rank lowest.
But, once again, the marginalization advocate’s retort might go, such overtures may fall into the category of gestures meant for show, while behind the scenes the usual powers-that-be remain firmly in control.
So who is really in charge at Harvard?, one might wonder. According to the university’s website, one of Harvard’s two governing boards is somewhat infelicitously called the “Board of Overseers.” “Formally established in 1642, the Board plays an integral role in the governance of the University. As a central part of its work, the Board directs the visitation process, the primary means for periodic external assessment of Harvard’s schools and departments.” The Board is composed of 30 Overseers, nominated to serve by the Harvard Alumni Association’s Board of Directors (along with those nominated by petition) and then elected for six-year terms by Harvard alumni.
It is as a member of that last, largest grouping that I recently received my ballot to vote for five out of the newest slate of 11 candidates on offer. I graduated from Harvard Law School in 2000. This is a fact that I used to be embarrassed to admit because of the usual “looking like you’re bragging” problem that graduates of elite universities face (yes, there are much larger problems in the world than that!) but which I am now also embarrassed to admit for a very different reason: as I have explained at length elsewhere, I have lost nearly all respect for these universities, once elite but now coasting on their reputations, because they have all-but-entirely abandoned their educational missions and their missions to serve the important goal (one T.S. Eliot saw as primary) of preserving culture against the unremitting incursions of barbarism and have become, instead, politicized ideological monocultures that are at the heart of sowing divisiveness across the land and unraveling the already-frayed political fabric holding this nation together. Motivated by this consideration among others, I have refused to give any charitable donations to this over-endowed institution and do not so much as keep my current address on file with them. All their mail goes to my parents’ address. This keeps everyone happy: my parents can go on receiving perpetual reminders that their son went to Harvard, while I can avoid those same reminders. Thus, in any event, it was only while I was visiting my parents on a recent occasion that I chanced to come upon one of Harvard’s mailings asking me to vote in their upcoming elections for the Board of Overseers. I decided to take a look.
Here are our candidates, consisting of three men and eight women. Among these 11 individuals, there are:
| exactly one white male, a gentleman named Mark J. Carney, described as a “a globally recognized economist, public servant, and climate action advocate”; and
| one white female, Terah Evaleen Lyon, who somehow, despite only graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree from Harvard in 2014, served in the Obama Administration, with her roles including “advis[ing] on issues of diversity and inclusion in the technology industry.”
As for the rest, we have:
two black men:
| Raymond J. Lohier, Jr., a Hatian-American “[d]edicated to equal justice for all,” who “previously served in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department, combatting employment discrimination nationwide”; and
| Christopher B. Howard, described as “the great-great-grandson of an enslaved person,” who did not highlight any other notable “diversity” credentials in his bio but still made sure to give all the “right” answers to the pointed D.E.I. questionnaire pushed on all the candidates by the Coalition for a Diverse Harvard;
two black women:
| Kimberly Nicole Dowdell, the “past president of the National Organization of Minority Architects,” “committed to … equity and inclusion,” who “championed numerous initiatives to increase opportunities for architects of color;” and
| Yvette Efevbera, who, “[a]s a global health specialist, … [has] seen the consequences of inequity and advocated for organizations to bring community voices to the table,” “develops strategies and investments addressing barriers girls and women face in her role as Advisor, Gender-Based Violence and Child Marriage, Gender Equality at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,” received the NIH’s “Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research,” and states that “[r]acial injustice, gender inequality, and climate inaction impact Harvard students’ success”;
two Latina women:
| Maria Teresa Kumar, “[f]ounding president of Voto Latino, … [t]he country’s largest Latino voter registration organization,” who is “passionate about a just, equitable, and enfranchised country,” “believe[s] education is our best means to achieve greater equity [and] inclusion,” “received the Hispanic Heritage Foundation’s Leadership Award,” and “helped revamp the Harvard Hispanic Journal as a student”; and
| Natalie Unterstell, a “Senior International Expert at the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund and founder of a groundbreaking, cross-sector data initiative to protect the Amazon rainforest and its Indigenous inhabitants [who is] working to build a zero-carbon economy and deforestation-free world,” who “believe[s] Harvard has a responsibility to lead on climate action and racial justice through research, education, responsible investments, and recognizing the impact of climate inaction on the most vulnerable communities throughout the world”;
two Asian-American women:
| Sheryl WuDunn, “[t]he first Asian American to win a Pulitzer Prize in journalism,” who, with her husband, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, has co-written five books, “including Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”; and
| Chrstiana Goh Bardon, who, aside from letting us know that she is “[a] proud immigrant who came to the U.S. when she was four,” shockingly has nothing else to say to us about her race, gender or passion for diversity, equity, inclusion or social justice, but, just as in the case of Dr. Howard above, managed to convey her pre-commitments to the usual party line on these subjects on her D.E.I. questionnaire (though, perhaps, with a bit more formality and less enthusiasm than some of the other candidates exhibited);
and one Native-American woman:
| Megan Red-Shirt Shaw, who puts her particular tribal affiliation (“Oglala Lakota”) in parentheses immediately after her name as though it were (as it likely is) a career credential comparable to a Ph.D., describes herself as “an advocate for greater Indigenous presence and commitment to Native student success in higher education,” is pursuing an actual Ph.D., including a minor in American Indian Studies, “is the Director of Native Student Services at the University of South Dakota” and tells us that, “[a]s a Lakota educator studying higher education, I’ve challenged the institutions I’ve attended and worked for to think about their impact environmentally, academically, and racially on both a local and national level.”
So, there we go. We have a diverse panel (do we not?), albeit not at all politically diverse. These are the individuals vying for spots as the newest additions to Harvard’s leadership class. I do not make want to make light of them or their credentials or suggest that most of them are in any way less than qualified for the job. Mr. Lohier, for example, is a judge on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals (appointed by Barack Obama), and Dr. Howard is a Rhodes Scholar and decorated military veteran, who has served as president of several universities. The qualifications of these candidates have nothing to do with my point, which is focused solely on the racial and gender categories and obvious political commitments of nearly all these individuals.
But perhaps, one might object, this is just the Harvard Overseer Class of 2021, presenting a much-needed corrective to the old white male establishment undoubtedly comprising the bulk of Harvard’s Board of Overseers. Objection overruled. Here are the members of the current board. Their photos and bios do not seem to be online, but here is a photograph I took of my own copy of Harvard’s mailing:
We have here, out of 30 people — assuming the genders of these individuals can be judged by appearances — 11 men and 19 women. Judging, again, largely by appearances (i.e., names and faces), coupled with a bit of targeted Googling to clear up some ambiguities, there are four white men and seven white women (though one of these women, Thea Sebastian, seems intent on pulling a Rachel Dolezal on us by surfacing on lists like this), for a total of just 11 white people out of 30. There are four black men and seven black women, so 11 black people total, exactly equaling the white contingent, both in race and gender. There are four Asian-American women and one Asian-American man. There are two Latin-American men. And there is one Native-American woman.
For those interested in keeping score, what we have here, on one of the governing bodies of one of America’s most powerful institutions and its most readily recognized, most well-endowed university, is that white people, who represent over 76% of the American population, are under 37% of Harvard’s Board of Overseers, a percentage almost certain to diminish still further when the current slate of candidates is voted upon. Black people, representing, again, around 13% of the population, likewise stand at just under 37% of the Board. Marginalization and underrepresentation? No.
I would add here in passing — and to make clear that the demographic underrepresentation of white people that I am seeing is not some unique aberration limited to the Board of Overseers — that the candidates for Harvard’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, the ones responsible for nominating the members of the Board of Overseers for election to their posts, break down along similar racial lines. Among the nine, there is one white man, two white women (neither Anglo-Saxon, for what it is worth), one black man, one black woman, one Latin-American man, one Latin-American woman and two Asian-American men.
Far from a place where blacks are marginalized, Harvard is one that has been completely taken over by woke politics and their aggressive “diversity” agenda that elevates a tribalist concern with superficial racial, gender and sexual characteristics to the highest value in the pantheon. We have every reason to expect the same set of norms and priorities to be in place in other, similar institutions, whether elite universities or professions where graduates of those same universities, and especially of their radicalized humanities departments, predominate, viz., journalism, education, politics and the entertainment industry. I have never seen any proof, however, that the dumbing down of educational standards and the infusion of identitarian tribalism into such elite institutions actually improves in any substantial respect the lives of the large contingent of black Americans disproportionately living in poverty and who are not the ones gaining entry to Harvard or its peer institutions. In that respect, the entire notion of “marginalization” is inherently, down to its rotten core, all about putting on a show to mollify intemperate activists and lighten the load on the guilty consciences of wealthy white liberals.
Let me make this much crystal-clear: I have gone through the motions of engaging in the racial bean-counting exercises above not because I personally think them necessary or desirable, but rather, because the proponents of the marginalization and underrepresentation thesis have made such contemptible calculations necessary to rebut their ungrounded claims. In reality, however, odd as it would be for a majority-white society to yield such an outcome, I would have no problem whatsoever with — and, indeed, would happily vote for — a 100% black Board of Overseers if all the members of that Board were committed to refocusing Harvard on its abandoned educational mission and to defending and restoring respect for learning and high culture rather than attacking these abiding values.
But how, you might wonder, am I going to vote on the current candidates actually on offer, candidates who, I have every reason to believe, will further the politicization and continuing self-destruction of a once-great university? Rest assured that as soon as I am done with using it for the purpose of writing this article, I will be throwing my ballot in the same place all of Harvard’s entreaties for my financial contributions go: the trash.
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A Manifesto for the Based

by James Lindsay
When Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, author of The Gulag Archipelago, gave in his Noble Lecture the credo, “Let the lie come into the world. Let it even triumph. But not through me,” that was based. Not participating in transparent lies or mass delusion is based. Doing so against the madness of the following crowd is based. Nearly everything that it means to be based is either contained within or predicated upon this one trait of character.
Solzhenitsyn wrote those words as a result of his observations living in what may have been the most brutal tyranny of human history: Stalin’s USSR. That simplest of refusals—the refusal to lie on command, or even to fit in—is, in the end, the summary of his observations of what kind of people had what it took to resist a totalitarian regime. Keeping your head down while you hope the unconscionable blows over, say, so you can keep your job but none of your dignity, is not based.
Being unwilling to lie, which is to say being based, is what set Solzhenitsyn’s various heroes apart from the weakness of character, cowardice, and greed that allowed others to survive, if that’s what it can be called. Solzhenitsyn’s brilliance was in observing that, in the end, this trait of character—the willingness to resist lies, be yourself, and tell the truth even when people won’t like you (or will kill you) for it—is one of the small number of necessary characteristics to grind true tyranny to a halt. The other, if you want to know, is laughter. Both of these things, mixed in the right proportions and applied in the right circumstances, make what it means to be based.
Solzhenitsyn’s time in the USSR under Josef Stalin was extreme, but it was not unique. China, Cambodia, and other places saw similar, or even perhaps worse, depending how one counts untellable horrors. While “it could never happen here” is a bit of wishful thinking applied to the question of whether the Nazi regime could ever be repeated in the United States, the ideological conditions and general cowardice that enable these sorts of catastrophes have already come knocking at our door. Their reception has been, from those with the power to answer, troublingly warm.
Though, for the moment, better conditions generally prevail in our day-to-day lives in our teetering Western liberal democratic republics, we have also found ourselves in yet another period in human history when the many millions believe—or at least pretend to believe—outright, transparent lies about the nature of reality, both social and material. What’s more, our elites and the institutions they command have taken the repetition and promulgation of these lies as sure marks of both status and, believe it or not, sanity. That is, once again the lie is coming into the world, and we have been forced to ask ourselves: will it triumph?
That’s an open question, and its answer depends, in turn, upon the answer to the more personal question Solzhenitsyn answered firmly in the negative. Will it come through me? The fate of the future of Western Civilization and Mankind may well hang in the balance of how that question gets answered, and by who, and how many. That is, its answer depends on how many people are willing to get based and stay that way.
The risk is in a peculiar way perverse. If lots of us get based, there’s very little risk to any of us. On the other hand, if only a few of us do, the risk is immense. It’s the prisoner’s dilemma writ large. If a few get based and most don’t, I lose my skin where you might not. If a lot get based, there will be some damage, but it will be minimal. The trouble is that everyone’s self-interest calculation looks straightforward: getting based is a fool’s errand. This misunderstands both the stakes and the truth of the situation. Going based en masse breaks the spell and eliminates the danger. Failing to do so will bring ruin upon all but a few. Put more plainly, you should take the radicals running this show seriously when they say “liberals get the bullet too.”
To me, then, there’s just one option. It’s time to get based and help other people get based. It’s time for based nation. It’s time for a based movement.
Before we begin on such an ambitious venture, however, the origin of the term “based” should be addressed forthrightly because it is profoundly limiting and, in fact, something that prevents being properly and fully based. The term arose online in talking about various ideas that might justify biological racism and referenced being unafraid to say those things because they are politically unfashionable. It arose in being intentionally, and often crudely, politically anti-correct. It arose, frankly, in crowds rightly identified as being “alt-right.” One could say it has expanded from there into something mostly more commendable. I contend something further: that these new early adopters of the mentality were merely re-inventing, typically crudely, something that has been known since time immemorial, while lashing out at the absurd and illegitimate powers of our absolutely ridiculous day. Forget all that edgelord garbage. The Declaration of Independence was based as hell and still is, and no sane person could mistake Thomas Jefferson for some douchey shitposter just looking to rile up some Libs.
Now we can begin. To be based, simply enough, begins with being willing to speak your mind and state objectively true facts about the world even when people don’t like you for it. It means neither lying nor apologizing just because the crowd expects you to, least of all under the absurd implication that doing so makes you more virtuous and brave. It is the refusal to be concerned with what other people think of you when you’re being yourself and the recognition that it doesn’t even make sense to apologize for being true to yourself and your values, telling the truth as well as you can see it, or making a joke, even a bad one. In judo and jujitsu, base is what keeps you from getting thrown, swept, or flipped. Having base is based.
Being based means tolerating most of what’s done in good faith or to lighten the mood. It’s being real with lots of room to play. It elevates the worthy without falling into the indulgent trap of “celebrating” the ordinary, mediocre, and fake. It includes forgiving the trespasses of others when they aren’t rooted in malice and being unwilling to be a doormat when they are. It also means being sensitive but never hypersensitive. When you’re throwing a tantrum, you’ve definitely stopped being based.
Put another way, fitting to our contemporary circumstances, being based is the opposite of being Woke. Woke is wholly intolerant of everything but itself. It, because it is cynical of every motivation, it never acts in good faith. It brings down every mood and celebrates the worthless and the ugly so long as these take no shame in themselves for being worthless and ugly. Woke forgiveness is impossible because, to the Woke, forgiveness would justify the sin. It demands absolute conformity and tolerates no dissent. It defines hypersensitivity, elevates it as a virtue, and, as a result, is always throwing a tantrum.
Obviously, Solzhenitsyn wasn’t writing about the Woke in The Gulag Archipelago, but what he was writing about was another species in the same totalitarian genus. He was writing about people who, due in large part to their ideological commitments, had become “conscious” of a pseudo-real distortion of the world that we otherwise all must share. The lies he admonished us not to live by might be different lies in specific, but they hold up the same sort of regime in general: a tyranny simultaneously doomed to fail and, according to the preposterous theory informing it, unable to fail. The lies serve this intolerable contradiction, and, in the end, so does the censorship, the gaslighting, the caprice, and the murder, by the tens of millions, if necessary. According to Solzhenitsyn, the one remedy to this sort of incomprehensible (and avoidable) tragedy is to, in a word, get based.
There are, in the end, only two things that can tear such a regime down, and they are, as it happens, interrelated. They are the two most powerful weapons against tyranny in the human arsenal: telling the truth, including by refusing the lie, and laughter. Both are based, and to win both are necessary. While Solzhenitsyn tells us that the whole of a tyrannical regime can be brought down in the end by a single person repeatedly telling the truth, the fact is that the USSR that tyrannized him actually fell when its subjects—for citizens they were not—began to laugh at it. So, where being based begins in a certain stoicism, it’s the most based when it’s stoicism with a sense of humor.
Humor isn’t necessary but is the key to being truly based. Absurdity must be exposed, and no acid is more corrosive to the absurdity of tyranny than laughter pointed in its general direction. So, while being based begins with being unapologetic in yourself and the truth, whatever anyone thinks, it does this ideally while being funny. Power, as it happens, abhors a laugh, at least when it’s not based (based power abides). The more seriously anything takes itself, then, the less based it is, and, in turn, the less able to withstand the based it can be. Voltaire was based; John Oliver is an asshole. This is why the left can’t meme. Meme culture is based. The left is not based. (All your base are belong to us, indeed.)
In a very real sense, being based means being able to roll with the joke and knowing that when someone can’t, it’s on them. The based don’t apologize for jokes because they understand that, simply enough, the only people who would demand an apology for a joke didn’t get it—and that’s not at all based. Jokes are meant to dissolve pretense, and there’s nothing more pretentious in the world than asking someone to take back a joke. Some jokes aren’t funny, and in that case, all that’s needed is to let them fall flat.
This isn’t to say, of course, that being based means being disparaging. Far from it. That’s an earlier and more pitiable iteration of based. As noted above, the based are a tolerant lot, unless it’s of pretense, unfairness, cruelty, or bullshit. Disparagement and bullying aren’t cool—and thus they are primary modes of the Woke—so they sure as hell aren’t based. Jokes are subversive. Jokes erode power everywhere it is abused. Jokes burn off the dead wood and leave what’s green, what’s authentic, untouched. Being based includes understanding the difference.
In fact, the subversive humor of being based is what makes being based so open instead of being closed. It is by its very nature irreverent and sometimes crude, but it always punches up, as they say. It is, after all, based, meaning being planted squarely on the ground. In that regard, being based means recognizing the plain fact that life is, on the balance, a comedy rather than a tragedy, and the more pretentious and unaware those in power are of this fact, the funnier their absurdities become.
To strike a more philosophical tone, being based means having common sense in a postmodern context. Like it or not, “Postmodernity” is the name for the time in which we live. It’s a time of images, corporate gloss, and a certain imposed detachment from the real. If you’re Woke, you think this is a weapon. If you’re based, it’s funny as hell, and, let me tell you something, brother, we’re not going to hesitate to drop our best memes from the top rope. The politics of parody are infinitely lame against the relentlessly subversive power of kayfabe. The cream, after all, rises to the top. You may not like it, but you have no choice but to accept it.
To put that somewhat more seriously, the difference between being based and being Woke is the difference between laughter and shame. Comedy and satire have always had incredible subversive potential against illegitimate power because they get those seduced by that power to laugh at themselves for being a bunch of rubes and fools. That makes them based. Shame has no subversive potential. It’s the tool of tools and scolds. It bends people only to a certain point, and that point is precisely the moment at which they finally laugh. This is why based will always defeat Woke. Because Woke is dumb.
The subversive world of the based is one of pushing boundaries so that the arbitrary and pretentious ones fall even while the real ones are allowed to stand. In this observation is all the difference between humor and shame and thus all the distance between based and Woke. Humor washes away the absurd in a tide of laughter and leaves behind what’s real and what really matters—that’s based. Shame doesn’t. It just knocks everything over in its ridiculous attempt to prove that it’s the only thing that isn’t absurd—so not based; totally cringe, in fact. That is, humor is gentle while shame is crude, and humor is alive where shame is afraid to live. This is why the based roll with the joke. This is why the Woke laugh at nothing. It’s because they have no base.
Tyranny is knocking, and we need to get based. Solzhenitsyn told us what it would take to stand up to the end of the world, and what it boils down to is being based—and being based for our times. Our times are absurd, but this doesn’t diminish the threat. Still, in the end, there’s nothing new under this yellow Sun, and, as ever, the truly absurd cannot possibly abide people who completely refuse to take them seriously. The future, then, belongs to the based, not to the clowns. That future is ours because the future is based.
Freedom is ours for the taking. The lies are coming into the world, and, for the moment, they have begun to triumph. Lord, though, are they funny. Being based is little more, then, than a laughing refusal to be pushed around by the preposterous. It’s a refusal to go along with the crowd when the crowd has gone mad. While many people seem to realize that there is some problem, only the based realize not only that its safer and healthier to break away, but that it’s also hilarious. The based aren’t about to live by ridiculous lies because they’ll be too busy laughing the bottom out from under them.
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