Are you a Cultural Marxist? Are they? How would you know?
The first column in this series defined postmodernity, a form of society in which, I suggested, we all now currently reside.
I am not claiming that all of us all the time think as postmodernists. Engineers and physicians, at least on the job, think as heirs of the (modern) Enlightenment, while historians and social scientists think in terms of (modern) historical consciousness. Instead, I have argued that postmodernity is now common, even typical, in our society.
In the current controversies over “cancel culture,” “BLM,” “critical race theory,” and the like, the philosophical school known as “Critical Theory” bobs up frequently. Critical Theory is sometimes depicted as an early form of postmodernism that gives rise to these other cultural developments.
But it mostly isn’t.
Critical Theory refers to a group of twentieth-century German philosophers known as the Frankfurt School. The most famous among them are Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, and Jürgen Habermas—the last of whom is still productive in his 90s.
The “critical” in Critical Theory echoes Karl Marx’s famous dictum: “”Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it” (Theses on Feuerbach, 1845). Critical Theory has combined philosophy and the social sciences so as to expose the true workings of modern life and to formulate a way toward a better future than the paths offered by communism, fascism, or democracy wedded to runaway capitalism.Read the rest of this entry »