I have decided to both clarify and explain what is actually meant by Critical Theory and closely related terms like Marxism and put it all into perspective, and in the proper context so the average person can grasp that with which they are faced and threatened in the society in which we live today, but is steadily getting worse.
For this purpose, I have chosen a recent work by George Friedman, from his Geopolitical Futures organization, or, as I would express its content, Where are we going, and why?
Caveat: This is my opinion as to what Mr. Friedman is saying, and it may or may not be completely valid.
He says in his opening statements that his reason for going to graduate school was to learn all he could about political philosophy and, in particular, the very strange way political terms like “communism” and “marxism” are used in the same context, but fail to connect in their everyday usage. Here he mentions that Hegel and Nietzsche, both German philosophers of the 18th century, have contributed to the doctrine of Communism/Marxism. I have taken the liberty of adding to it Charles Darwin.
The advent of atheism allowed men to become gods, at least in their own minds if not in actuality.
So “justice” and “the value of life” take on a brand new meaning.
“What about justice”; where does that come into play? Ostensibly both of the two political systems try to help the worker and the poor underprivileged who are oppressed by the ones who own the new technology or means of production, and while those means are constantly in a state of flux or technology adaptation, the worker is always poor.
Communism and Karl Marx remained the subject of intellectual endeavor, and practical applications of either one, but neither one ever seemed to work satisfactorily.
According to Mr. Friedman, the big change occurred in the 1930s when “The Frankfurt School” created “Marxism” as we have it today.
It is an entirely new approach because it forces the capitalist who owns the means of production (the source of wealth) to include the worker in the distribution of the wealth.
As you well know, Karl Marx himself wanted to make an end to capitalism because the workers never received proper remuneration for their part in making other people rich. But, there was a big problem associated with doing it! For one, it was typical of unhappy workers to riot and revolt. Another was that a revolution might satisfy some small private interest, but no permanent good or improvement was ever obtained.
Then Marx and Engels had a revelation: the workers had no conception of what it was they really wanted that would elevate them to a permanent status of wealth and independence and an authentic lifestyle, (e.g., they might not be comfortable in a higher class of living that required a good education, good IQ, good work ethic, etc.).
Critical Theory tries to get over these limitations by inserting Marxism into capitalist countries, with designs on developing a new way of thinking for the owners of the means of production.
The first thing that is done is to establish an authentic lifestyle for the subjects to be elevated to, and not try to force-fit them into an artificial suburban one.
This attempt to create an authentic liféstyle for the elevation of the working class is helped along by inserting these subjects into high-level jobs in the industrial sector so they will be an active participant in the pseudo-capitalist economy. This is done regardless of personal and intellectual limitations!
This new standard of living would be fueled by creating something peculiar, called “consumerism”! “We will let other people build for us, and produce goods and services, and we will spend and spend and spend.”
The “revolution” was on, and everyone who was in it was instantly satisfied. They had money to spend and an infinite supply of goods and services from which to choose. The real economic difference was in the fact that what used to be made in America was now made in some foreign country for a fraction of the cost of making it by an evil capitalist. The strength of the economy would be based on consumption and not on production.
The other big change in the “revolution” factor is that the horror of a revolt of the proletariat has been largely avoided. But, terror must be maintained to keep them in constant fear and in a state of strict compliance, so a pandemic, or a nightmare of illegal aliens, or climate changes, or inflation, or any other thing that someone can invent will be tried.
Despite the apparent changes for the good, the fact still remains that Marxism and Critical Theory will inevitably fail because it is built on the lie that the man who works on the airplane while it is on the ground can, at any time, assume command of the airplane and fly it across the Rocky Mountains. It is also true that if you consume everything today what will you eat tomorrow?
When capitalism fails so does everything else in the world.