by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sumantra Maitra writes for the Martin Center about a disturbing trend in academia.
A question of power is at the heart of the new and interesting book by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay. The Anglo-American liberal duo did a tremendous service to the academy in 2018 by hoaxing several “grievance studies” journals that publish shoddy activist scholarship. Their book, “Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything about Race, Gender, and Identity—And Why This Harms Everybody,” explains the theoretical foundations of activist disciplines in the academy and warns policymakers about the threats they pose.
The central thesis is thus: Our institutions of higher education are under attack from the virus of post-modernism, along with its various sub-fields of post-colonialism, queer theory, gender studies, intersectional feminism, and so forth. They are all revolutionary theories and subversive in nature. They share some common themes, such as a blurring of boundaries, an excessive focus on the power of languages and words, ahistorical cultural relativism, and a penchant for collectivism at the cost of both the individual and the universal.
This elimination of boundaries and differences, in effect, is a rebellion against anything “normal”—an actual rebellion against the very concept of normal—that rejects “anything considered normal and innate” in society.
When nothing is normal, there are no rules. The very structure of civilization collapses into anarchy, and that is the ultimate aim. …
… Post-modernism is a virus with a “practical aim that was absent before: to reconstruct society in the image of an ideology which came to refer to itself as ‘Social Justice.’” Post-modernism is also culturally relativist to the point of criminality where post-modernists would consider a culture which practices female genital mutilation to be practically indistinguishable from a civilized society, the concept of civilization itself being “problematic.” The aim, as always, is to subvert.