Why Critical Race Theory Could Impede Progress & Innovation
One of critical race theory’s biggest issues is its epistemology of knowledge
Today, I want to talk about one of the most controversial ideas found in critical race theory (CRT), and indeed, in all forms of postmodernized critical theory more generally: the view that certain values, ideas and forms of knowledge can be tied to a specific identity group. In CRT and adjacent thinking, we see this manifest as things like saying that traditional math education is ‘white’, liberalism is ‘white’, or the idea of meritocracy is inherently ‘white’. In more extreme cases, even the objectivity that underpins science could be considered ‘white’.
What I want to note here is that this form of thinking is certainly not limited to CRT. For example, many of the aforementioned things can be accused of being ‘patriarchal’ too, using the lens of some feminist critical theories. Indeed, postmodernized critical theory has plenty of influences to make them think this way. These include the core critical theory view that all dominant ideas in society are there to serve the dominant (or oppressor) groups, and the Foucauldian postmodernist idea that all knowledge and discourse is primarily shaped by power dynamics. The contemporary Theory Left’s habit of assigning cultural ideas to identity groups is not limited to the dominant groups either, it is also seen in some theories about minority cultures. Obviously, the culture in question must, in the first place, be defined as the property of an identity group, for these theories to work.
The main problem I have with this model of thinking is that it impedes the impartial discovery of objective truth. It also impedes the exchange of ideas between cultures, and ultimately the freedom of innovation that is required for social progress. In other words, what we have here is a model of thinking that essentially wants to throw out the best things about the Enlightenment, the very things that underpinned the great progress in science, technology and civil rights alike in the past two to three centuries. What I’m concerned about is that, many people don’t quite fully grasp how important it is to defend these things.
What we need to be able to say is that, there is objective truth and knowledge, and it is a worthy endeavor to discover and learn it in the most robust way, regardless of race or other identity characteristics. A strong commitment to the objective truth, via the study of science, math and so on, cannot be tied to any race, because we’re talking about the objective truth, and it is by definition valid for all. Good ideas, good music, good designs and so on can’t be ‘white’ or ‘black’ or belong to any other race either, because the power of innovation belongs to the whole of humanity, and shouldn’t be limited by the boundaries of identity. I believe that, if we fail to defend these fundamental truths, we will have failed the future of humanity.
TaraElla is a singer-songwriter and author, who recently published her autobiography The TaraElla Story, in which she described the events that inspired her writing.
She is also the author of the Moral Libertarian Horizon books, which argue that liberalism is still the most moral and effective value system for Western democracies in the 21st century.