Four Academic Doctrines Moving the West from Triumph to Decline

Several academic doctrines, namely critical theory, postmodernism, social justice, and critical race theory, significantly influence the world, particularly in the West. While these doctrines claim to advocate for equality, peace, and social cooperation, they reject core Enlightenment values such as open inquiry, individual autonomy, free speech, scientific skepticism, and reason. Instead, they promote identity politics, elitism, and centralized control, which has led some to view them as the four “doctrines of the apocalypse.”

These doctrines are primarily activist and political in nature, seeking not just to interpret the world but to actively change it. Critical theory, in particular, is often misunderstood as critical thinking, which involves reasoning, explanation, critique, and challenges. However, critical theory’s purpose is condemnation rather than critical thinking. It relies heavily on ideological assertions rather than data or deduction, often leading to predetermined conclusions.

Critical theory encompasses various approaches and variations, defining it as a singular school of thought challenging. Its history is complex and convoluted, and its scholarship can be verbose, incoherent, and difficult to penetrate. Nevertheless, these doctrines have become the intellectual foundation for the rising ideology of woke progressivism, characterized by its severity, uncompromising nature, and vengefulness. They have permeated Canadian society, where cultural contrition is ubiquitous, with claims of systemic racism, white privilege, misogyny in the nuclear family, oppression by capitalism, and environmental destruction caused by private property rights and prosperity.

The ultimate goal of the cultural revolution driven by these doctrines is to establish a new way of thinking as the prevailing norm. The most significant threat to the West is viewed not as external forces like China or Russia but rather as cultural self-hate. When people turn against themselves, it represents a more effective coup than any external influence.

The origins of critical theory can be traced back to scholars at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt, who sought to understand why Marxism did not gain traction in the West. They expanded Marx’s focus on economic oppression to encompass power and oppression in all aspects of society. This led to the development of critical theory, which posits that knowledge is socially contingent and calls for the collapse and reconstruction of unjust Western institutions. Over time, critical theory and its variations made significant inroads into universities, influencing disciplines such as sociology, literary criticism, and linguistics. It also infiltrated professional schools, including teachers’ colleges and law schools, and dominated programs like women’s studies, gender studies, and media studies. Today, critical theory’s influence extends to almost every field in the arts and social sciences, and it is now making inroads into science, technology, engineering, and medical faculties.

From a political standpoint, critical theory and related doctrines are strategically effective. Any challenge to their legitimacy can be interpreted as reinforcing their central thesis: that reason, logic, and evidence are manifestations of privilege and power. Consequently, challengers risk being stigmatized as bigoted oppressors. Critics like James Lindsay describe critical theory as a “kafkatrap,” where accusations of racism are effectively inescapable. The absurdity or lack of coherence in critical theory’s assertions is not the primary concern, as making sense is seen as a Western and privileged concept.

Double standards regarding speech and conduct have become ingrained in the current political order. Actions such as burning churches and blocking railways are viewed as supporting social justice, while peaceful protests against vaccine mandates are treated as public order emergencies. Defying pandemic lockdown rules is seen as threatening public safety when it involves church services but not when thousands gather for Black Lives Matter marches. Furthermore, the authorities vilify law-abiding gun owners while simultaneously reducing minimum sentences for gun crimes. These inconsistencies and hypocrisies are not accidental but rather deliberate and calculated choices made by those in power.

James Lindsay states this treatment is rooted in a 1965 essay by critical theory philosopher Herbert Marcuse titled “Repressive Tolerance.” Lindsay summarizes its theme as follows: “Movements from the left must be granted tolerance, even when they are violent, while movements from the right must not be tolerated, including suppressing them through violence.”

With the aid of critical theory and related doctrines, liberalism has transformed into the dominant ideology of woke progressivism. Once considered essential to protect the left, free speech is now deemed unnecessary as progressive values prevail. This realization led to the understanding that progressives were more interested in promoting their values than upholding the principle of free speech.