Trick or Treat: Social Justice Warrior as Constant Cultural Appropriator

Of offensive costumes and red social justice warrior cheeks

Ah, it’s that time of the year again. Autumn is in full force: The leaves change color; the days get shorter; the weather gets colder; the social justice warriors (SJWs) croak louder, as the attire for the final day of October gets sluttier and more stereotypical. I am of course talking about that most socially unjust and frivolous of holidays, Halloween, and the torrent of pumpkin spice, politically correct opprobrium it draws.

Image result for cultural appropriation

It’s a wonderful day — that is unless you’re of the sort of moral fiber made of intertwined strands of victimhood instead of actual moral fiber. You take issue with some girl donning a slutty Pocahontas costume not so much because of its rank immodesty but rather more for its “cultural insensitivity.” The wearer is guilty of “cultural appropriation” from indigenous peoples even though most of her accusers, preferring a Trail of Tears-fits-all rubric, are insensitive to distinguishing the individual Chinook, Apache, Choctaw, Miami, Sauk, Sioux, Powhatan and plethora of other tribal cultures and histories from one another.

No matter though, as this willful ignorance hasn’t stopped MTV Decoded host Franchesca Ramsey, who decries “dominant groups ‘borrowing’ from marginalized groups who face oppression or have been stigmatized for their cultural practices throughout history.” Nor has it prevented the likes of YouTube personality Kat Blaque from lecturing on the “taking of different aspects of culture, and in the process, kind of erasing the meaning and the importance of these aspects.” Both Ramsey and Blaque also indict the commodification of these cultural “aspects,” e.g., white models with dreadlocks strutting the runway to sell fashion.

For a more formal definition of cultural appropriation, About.com’s “Race Relations Expert” Nadra Kareem Nittle (2016) quotes Fordham University law professor Susan Scafidi, who defines it as in Who Owns Culture?: Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law:

“[The] taking [of] intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. It’s most likely to be harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects” (para. 4).

So, according to SJWs, cultural appropriation is a big no-no. So heinous is it, Nicholas Christakis, formerly of Yale, was hounded in Red Guard-like fashion after his wife downplayed the gravity of culturally insensitive Halloween outfits in an email last year. More recently, Tufts University put its Greek community on notice, threatening “consequences for wearing an offensive costume.”

This all sounds super serious, and I promise to apologize for my daily, mint julep-spiked yoga sessions just as soon as the Ramseys, Blaques and Scafaldis of the world apologize for their daily cultural appropriation.

As Alfred North Whitehead noted, philosophy is just a “series of footnotes to Plato.” So as adherents to an philosophically-based ideology, from whose footnotes do SJWs liberally borrow, all without giving credit to whom it’s due, mind you?

Enter Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, Erick Fromm, Leo Lowenthal, Walter Benjamin and company of the Frankfurt School. These Germans pioneered and developed what’s known as Critical Theory, of which critical race theory, critical gender studies and critical queer theory – all the fetid domain of SJWs – are offspring.

The Frankfurt School vs social justice warrior

What is Critical Theory? There isn’t a straightforward, simple answer, nor did Critical Theory’s originators intend it to have a positive definition or serve as a finalized philosophical system purporting eternal ontological first principles. In fact, they purposefully argued for it not to be and despised philosophies and schemas of metaphysics that laid claim to ahistorical absolute truth. University of California-Berkley professor Martin Jay (1996) describes it as a “gadfly of other systems” in his history of the Frankfurt School, The Dialectical Imagination (p. 41).

In the broadest sense, Critical Theory criticizes: It’s supposed to be normative, practical, critical, directed at radical social change and disruptive of the status quo. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article paraphrases Horkheimer as identifying it as “seek[ing] human ‘emancipation from slavery,’ acts as a ‘liberating … influence’, and works ‘to create a world which satisfies the needs and powers’ of human beings” (Bohman, 2005, para. 1). Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, et al. operated by the Marxist dictum (Vallicella, 2016): “The philosophers have only variously interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it” (para. 1, trans. Vallicella).

So do SJWs. As exponents of Critical Theory in this broadest sense, they criticize to liberate the oppressed from the “circumstances that enslave” them (Bohman, 2005, para. 1), psychoanalyze indiscriminately, believe the notion of classically liberal tolerance is a sham and repressive like Marcuse did, e.g., safe-spaces, disdain absolute truth and collapse the distinction between subject and object, preferring subjective narrative to objective fact. SJWs are undoubtedly the children of the neo-Marxist Institute for Social Research.

Image result for The Frankfurt School
Creation of the Institut für Sozialforschung, Martin Jay, 1973.

They also are very much bastards. For while they are certainly intellectually descended from the likes of Horkheimer, Adorno and Marcuse, many show they know nothing of their parentage. Sure, they wax about “being on the right side of history” and chant, plagiarizing Marx, “we have nothing to lose but our chains.” But for as much as Jonathan Butler, the hunger-striking student behind the University of Missouri protests last year, fancies himself a radical, does he really know what he primarily criticizes is what Marxists identify as the “superstructure” as differentiated from the “substructure” of society? If someone asked Trigglypuff what is Hegelian dialectic, should that person expect anything but a confused response along the lines of “Dia-what?” between exasperated shrieks of indignation. And while anti-racism activists get protective of black music as exclusive property of black culture, chastising whites for daring to cover particular songs that were apparently intended for black ears only, they seem way too comfortable with the status quo-reinforcing, praxis-stymying culture industry that drew Adorno’s ire.

Indeed, one of the hallmark differences between SJWs of today and their social justice forefathers is how provincial the latter are in their thinking compared to the former. Marx and his Frankfurt School disciples were Hegelian. They saw society as an intertwined, interacting “totality” of contradictory social relations of which everything exists as merely “moments” to eventually be negated, overcome and assimilated back into the whole to form a new, better, more rational status quo just until the same process of change, dialectic, begins again. On the contrary, as much as SJWs insist institutionalized oppression exists in the marrow of the West’s bones and proclaim the pervasiveness of “cultures of hate,” most never feel obligated to flesh out an underlying mechanism, as the Frankfurt school did, about how social injustice works.

Perhaps, as I strongly suspect, they don’t acknowledge this inefficiency in mere rhetoric and are mum about the details largely because they are not cognizant of these problems and don’t view social reality nearly comprehensively enough. For example, tut-tutting about whites culturally appropriating the black struggle via popular music affirms the freedom-crushing culture industry perpetuating false consciousness. Rather, most emote and have a penchant for anti-intellectualism masked by specialized academic jargon. If they do any critical thinking, it’s not dialectical. It’s easy to see they have almost nothing. What they do have, however, is a diluted Critical Theory, largely bereft of its intellectual context, nature and meaning, that they shamelessly appropriated.

Damning objections…for those who would raise them

Now, I anticipate an objection that SJWs, often being comprised of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, can’t culturally appropriate; they lack the institutional power, while Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, et al. – Germans that they were – were white and never faced oppression and discrimination. They had white privilege, so the retort goes.

But this dodge is so inept, it would further indict its user, betraying his ignorance, confirming his guilt of appropriation. Yes, the Frankfurt School was made up of people whom would be considered white, but they were also predominantly Jewish academics who lived in the death throes of the Weimar Republic. In the 1920s and early 30s, they witnessed the rise of Nazi fascism. They literally fled Germany in 1933 to avoid the persecution of the Third Reich. To claim that the members of the Frankfurt School never experienced anti-Semitism is unequivocally false.

Likewise, it’s equally dubious to declare, as I expect SJWs would do, America and the West as somehow qualitatively on par with or even worse than Nazi Germany, even in the regime’s early days prior to the Final Solution. After all, it is the progressive fashion to fetishize victimhood as virtue. In order to regain the moral high ground, they would try to out-victim the victims of Nazi institutionalized racism in an effort to once again to evade the charge of cultural appropriation. SJWs like Black Lives Matter would likely equate urban black communities as the new concentration camps. Others would cite Donald Trump and his base of “deplorables” as ascendant American fascism akin to Adolf Hitler and goose-stepping Brownshirts. These calumnies are so outrageous, they practically refute themselves in the view of anyone sensible and honest and fall one step short of Holocaust denial – talk about marginalizing the experiences of historically oppressed identities.

Image result for Trump as hitler

Consider the fact the members of the school departed Germany. Nazi authorities also shut down the Institute (Jay, 1996). On the contrary, SJWs today thrive on American campuses. They’re free to form their own organizations, institutions and do so unimpeded. Culture and gender studies departments face no impending threat of closure and seizure of research by a hostile government. Favored “diversity” or “cultural sensitivity” training curricula are commonly imposed on all campus students, staff and faculty. The social justice cause is funded on the taxpayer’s dime, no less.

Furthermore, before Adorno left Europe for America in 1938, Forward’s Benjamin Irvy (2015) quotes a letter to Horkheimer from Adorno therein which the latter predicted the Jews remaining in Germany would be “extirpated” (para. 6). Contrast this telling insight and the facts concerning the Institute members’ exodus, from not only Germany, but Europe as well, with the behavior of current SJWs. Many never truly leave their cushy university habitats, becoming “diversity” officers and such within the administrative leviathan; they are not bolting the country nor the continent despite professing fear of a rising authoritarian regime, comparable to Hitler, that’s proactively antagonistic to racial, sexual and religious minorities.

Despite persistent cries of enduring hourly oppression, their conduct strongly suggests life here is not nearly as unbearable as they assert. They say one thing, while their feet do another. Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse and company literally fled for their lives. SJWs can find the time to hyperventilate about oppression in the form of Kylie Jenner sporting cornrows – that is privilege, and it doesn’t belong to Jenner. Indeed, the Kardashians are undoubtedly evil, but not Nazi-level evil.  The point is the members of the Frankfurt School, being both Marxist and Jewish, weren’t afforded the same luxuries in pre-war Germany their spoiled 2016 counterparts, being superficially Marxist but often not Jewish, so thoughtlessly enjoy.

“…to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”

The Nazism, the Holocaust and anti-Semitism the Frankfurt School saw overtake Germany is crucial to understanding Critical Theory, especially the Institute’s analysis of American culture while in exile. In short, Critical Theory is essentially interconnected with Jewish identity, and the Institute members perceived it throughout American bourgeoisie culture. Ivry (2015) explains in his review of Jack Jacobs’ The Frankfurt School, Jewish Lives, and Antisemitism:

Adorno wrote home to his parents in 1940: “Fascism in Germany, which is inseparable from anti-Semitism, is no psychological anomaly of the German national character. It is a universal tendency …The conditions for it – and I mean all of them, not only the economic but also the mass psychological ones – are at least as present [in America] as in Germany…and the barbaric semi-civilization of this country will spawn forms no less terrible than those in Germany” (para. 8).

Indeed, they were emotional about racism against Jews – Adorno perhaps most of all. According to Irvy (2015), the Critical Theorist opined, “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric” (para. 10).

Mic race identities kendrick lamar blackpeople

One wonders then how Adorno would feel about Kendrick Lamar’s Platinum-selling rap album, To Pimp a Butterfly, and its verses peddling the critical race theory-inspired diatribes that are popular today on the left. Then there are the demands, purportedly justified by critical race theory, for safe spaces segregating “people of color” from whites, many of whom could be Jewish in descent. Moreover, the conclusions of critical studies departments have become so reified as a form of “instrumental rationality” that people are literally re-educated and indoctrinated like when the Soviet Union transmitted to its denizens its ideology, the “vulgar Marxism” the Frankfurt School detested. This is nothing to say about the commodification of their intellectual tradition and lives’ work by university, government and big business bureaucrats. These entrepreneurs assume the Critical mantle but make a living selling “diversity” and multiculturalism to those who want to stay up to date with the latest political correctness fad.

Are these not examples of cultural appropriation, as so described by Ramsey, Blaque and Scafidi? They show sacred culture – intellectual property intimately tied to Jewish history as it relates to anti-Semitism and the Holocaust – demeaned by SJWs who stripped it from its philosophical and historical context and now implement it in ways its creators arguably would not have intended. Moreover, these hypocritical puritans are clearly more privileged than the people from whom they’re appropriating.

Self-liberation as oppression

Truly, it now seems the social justice that nominally references Critical Theory is oppressive by both the Frankfurt School’s and its own standards. So-called “self-liberation” is now the subjugation of not just dominant groups, but historically marginalized ones too. This is the new contradiction in the status quo, the cultural appropriation of Critical Theory, which seemingly demands now negation. The critical theory of the sort appropriated and employed by hordes of today’s facile SJWs is just a ideological veneer of objectivity to mask their wills to power for dominating and reshaping the world from the top downward.

The paradox, of course, escapes them, as most SJWs show no robust understanding of the radical thought to which they are indebted. Nevertheless, they face three options:

  • A) Abandon social justice activity as the Critical enterprise it exists as today to preserve the injunction against cultural appropriation
  • B) Abandon the injunction against cultural appropriation to preserve social justice activity as the Critical enterprise it exists as today
  • C) Familiarize themselves with the literature of the Frankfurt School and become full-blooded, Hegelian-style Marxists to diminish their cultural appropriation

As a trilemma, none of the horns are appetizing. C) is embracing Marxism, the Dark Side of the Force. “Marx,” after all, is a dirty, four-letter word that brings to mind 100 million, discrediting it in the public eye. They wouldn’t want to be associated with its bloody rhetorical baggage. B) is the most palatable, but both it and A) would never happen.

SJWs won’t stop wielding Critical Theory and cultural appropriation as weapons out of some sense of intellectual honesty and upstanding rectitude. It’s not in their nature to desist and be content. Well, so be it because it’s now even harder to see why everybody else should heed their gnashing of teeth about anything, much less cultural appropriation. By all means, celebrate Cinco de Mayo by doing the Haka, kimono-clad, all the while taking Tengri’s name in vain.

Just some candy for thought.

Happy Halloween.


Jay, M. (1996). The Dialectical imagination: A history of the Frankfurt school and the institute of social research, 1923-1950. Berkley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press.

Jan Sobieski IV

For Jan Sobieski IV, the West is on the precipice of ruin again. With interests in journalism and philosophy, he’s a millennial convinced we’re living in another Vienna, 1683. Sobieski IV aspires to help lead the pivotal charge for Western civilization against those seeking to overrun or open her gates—these days, they’re one and the same, deserving nothing but the fury of the winged hussar reborn.

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20 Comments

  1. The fact that some people — what you call cultural appropriators — do not know what could possibly justify them — (critical theorists) is a red herring against whether or not those critical theorists are right about their claims. Notice you make no real argument against that perspective, but instead commit a strawman fallacy about their complexity by reducing them to your caricature view to which everyone here would assent to you as great. Yet, it’s a D understanding at best as you neglect the philosophical complexity of the view. Moreover, one can very well be a critical theorist but not a Hegelian, and even more to the point, one can critical of tradition and/or capitalist society and not be a critical theorist nor a Leftist.

    • Jim,

      Out of genuine curiosity, I’d like to ask you: could you say a bit about the “complexity” involved, and how, when properly appreciated, you think it sheds light on the issues?

      Is your suggestion that, when the intricacies of Critical Theory itself are rightly understood, the behavior of SJW takes on a new light, and actually becomes less comical, even perhaps justifiable? Or if the standard SJW behavior populating university campuses is still no good, then what does your own conception of Critical Theory have to say about where and in what respect the SJW movement has gone wrong?

      • Jim,

        [Out of genuine curiosity, I’d like to ask you: could you say a bit about the “complexity” involved, and how, when properly appreciated, you think it sheds light on the issues?]

        This could be the subject of an entire post or series of posts. To answer you briefly, there isn’t much complexity to a generalized account of what critical theory is, especially above. I would say that we need to be more nuanced. There’s a Marcuse out there, or what Adorno said etc.. My claim is that we should truncate our efforts to specific texts and authors when making claims about this “tradition”. Oversimplification and strawman occur when we understand systems of thought in their most general way when we should know philosophical works in terms of particular authors. So if I object to natural law theory, I should really be grounding such a discussion in one of Aquinas’s texts unless it is a conceptual claim.

        I[s your suggestion that, when the intricacies of Critical Theory itself are rightly understood, the behavior of SJW takes on a new light, and actually becomes less comical, even perhaps justifiable?]

        I’d object to talking about SJWs. SJWs is an internet meme level term of discourse, a way to patronize and condemn some discourses by employing this term of art to ridicule them. It’s a polemical term that easily degenerates into ad hominem.

        [Or if the standard SJW behavior populating university campuses is still no good, then what does your own conception of Critical Theory have to say about where and in what respect the SJW movement has gone wrong?]

        Ultimately, the SJW is not a movement as much as it is a a generalization on the part of conservatives to find universalism in a host of movements–some of which may be legitimate in terms of their normative concerns and others that may not be legitimate at all. I would rather talk about particular moral claims and see if those moral claims are problematic because of how human beings organize themselves structurally.

      • Hi Jim,

        Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

        I think I agree with your point about the importance of not painting an entire philosophical movement or school with too broad a brush. It it always good to examine specific texts and figures on their own terms.

        That said, we do speak of “Critical Theory,” and I don’t think doing so is completely misleading or useless. Would you agree that there’s at least a “family resemblance” that unites the thinkers and texts commonly lumped together? It seems to me that, regardless of whatever problems doing so might present, there is still a great use in addressing Critical Theory and its heirs at that level of generality at which the original post addressed it. As a matter of philosophical exegesis, someone might object that it doesn’t get the story entirely right. But for the purposes of the political point the author was making (namely, that many today have attempted to appropriate Critical Theory without any serious understanding of that tradition), the general account suffices. In fact, in a way, the author implicitly agrees with you: the texts and ideas of Marcuse and Adorno are much more complicated and subtle than the “tolerance” and “anti-hate” campus brigades would have it seem. Here I would use the term “SJW,” but you make an interesting point about the use of the term.

        I agree that the term might not be particularly helpful; I would even go so far as to say that sometimes people use the term as a license to dismiss things they dislike without actually explaining themselves. But again, the “family resemblance” phenomenon appears to be in play. Until very recently, there simply were no “safe spaces,” or “no platforming,” or twitter campaigns, etc. This is all very recent, and I do think it would be misleading to deny that the events we are beginning to treat as normal transcend any particular moral or political issue that might be otherwise at issue. People minds and words are being policed in ways we just haven’ seen before (that’s partly why the contributors on this blog remain anonymous!), and I don’t think it’s at all misleading or an oversimplified to lay the responsibility for this climate of silence and fear in our profession (and society in general) at the feet of the so-called “SJW.”

      • That Single Individual,

        “As a matter of philosophical exegesis, someone might object that it doesn’t get the story entirely right.”

        What did I misrepresent about their views? Where did I err with the story? I ask out of genuine curiosity and a desire to learn for improvement. Jim has not yet offered specifics other than it was generally abysmal. I know it’s interdisciplinary between the social sciences and humanities and it features heavily in literary theory. I get that the Frankfurt School’s thinkers’ complex views evolved and they got more pessimistic about class consciousness. I didn’t go into earlier Marxism — maybe I should have to give better context — but I don’t think any of these omissions were fatal for the purposes of an informal, polemical blog post that already stretched 2,500 words. Was it because I perhaps too boldly asserted that they wouldn’t like what Critical Theory has become when it’s more likely arguable they would because they’re hardcore leftists? That, if alive today, they would support the diatribes of Black Lives Matter, for example, because they disruptive of the status quo even though philosophically, given their criticisms of other forms of leftism and non-dialectical Marxism, critical race theory is not at all dialectical in the Hegelian framework Horkheimer and Adorno adopted.

        On the term SJW:

        As pejorative as it may be, it still picks out phenomenon, a very totalitarian and vicious group of activists on the left, that are doing the very sorts of things you list and worse, just in the same way “troll” picks out the phenomenon of those who harass people on the internet out of spite and sport. Pejorative internet meme or not, they both apply to very real things. And although Jim asserts that it lends itself as a prescriptive bludgeon, I still think it still is descriptively useful and accurate. So to object to using it, by default, because it could and sometimes been used as term of abuse against any left-leaning discourse isn’t really an argument but an empty appeal to the the moral high ground to avoid argument when it’s this pretense of the moral high ground that is very much in dispute.

        It’s also ironic given that the Left has a vast arsenal of semantic clubs, “homophobic, xenophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, bigot, sexist, racist, ageist, etc.” They have lost meaning due to their overuse, and don’t just lend themselves to ad hominem polemics, but are largely already ad hominem polemics — more so than “SJW,” which was coined largely in response to this sort of politically correct censure and behavior done by a certain type of person — deployed to demonize almost all conservative discourse and opposition to leftist ideology. Sound familiar? It again begs the question: To insist that we can’t use the term that accurately, and for the particular example of the words above, applicably describes this real leftist penchant for character assassination and the verbal weapons used to carry it out, although much more subtle, is the very self-serving political correctness conservatives find fatuous and worthy of criticism.

      • Jan IV,

        When I wrote that someone might object to your article’s presentation of Critical Theory, I didn’t mean that someone who chose to do so would be doing so because there was something obviously flawed with your presentation of it. I am no expert on Critical Theory, but I found what you had to say quite illuminating. I simply meant that someone who is an expert, as Jim seems to be, might take issue with the way you’ve presented things for any number of specialist reasons that happen to escape me. That’s all.

        But my main point was that, even if someone as Jim were to do so, the larger point you were making still seemed to be a sound one to me. Namely, regardless of however one chooses to characterize Critical Theory (and indeed regardless of however one sees your characterization of it), the “SJW” movement has in any case gone badly wrong.

        Same goes for my remarks concerning the issue of the term “SJW.” I myself have no problem with the term. I was simply asking Jim why he thought it was inherently less than useful.

        And yes, I agree wholeheartedly: leftists use a battery of loaded terms to silence and intimidate those who disagree with them, which is why it would be just another classic example of leftist hypocrisy if someone who routinely does so were then to suddenly object to the term “SJW.” I was simply giving Jim the benefit of the doubt by assuming that he’s not the sort of person who does so, in which case he wouldn’t necessarily be a hypocrite for objecting to someone’s use of the term “SJW” as a pejorative. He might have bad reasons for objecting to the term, but I did want to hear what those reasons were.

        As I said, the term “SJW” in my opinion picks out a real and troubling phenomenon, and I do disagree with what I took Jim’s suggestion that it doesn’t.

        Anyway, sorry if I gave the wrong impression that I thought anything was seriously wrong with your piece. I actually enjoyed it, and think it’s spot on.

  2. “Moreover, one can very well be a critical theorist but not a Hegelian, and even more to the point, one can critical of tradition and/or capitalist society and not be a critical theorist nor a Leftist.”

    Not if someone wants to include cultural appropriation in their Critical Theory. That’s the point. It’s a polemic. I assumed that “cultural appropriation” was a justifiable moral charge and applied it those who who accuse others of culturally appropriating. It’s not supposed to be a treatise on Critical Theory from the Frankfurt School to today. Critical Theory has been fetishized. “Diversity” is sold like a commodity. As self-serving as Critical Theory is, you really don’t think that politically correct status quo doesn’t have its own contradictions and now needs to be negated?

      • [It’s not supposed to be a treatise on Critical Theory from the Frankfurt School to today. Critical Theory has been fetishized.]

        Two things. You should give the most charitable view to even those with whom you disagree. In the post above, that’s not even done well. If you do it better, then this blog should be taken more seriously rather than the fluff piece above. N

        Next, you’re right in part. It has become fetishized. Religion has also been fetishized too. What frees us from ideology is philosophical argumentation.

        [As self-serving as Critical Theory is, you really don’t think that politically correct status quo doesn’t have its own contradictions and now needs to be negated?]

        Some forms of political correctness are norms of respect. I don’t see a problem with those forms of political correctness. I also think power and privilege are not universally distributed in ways that many on the Left claim it is. A friend of mine attended a conference in DC in political science. She told him some things about being a White Male that did not apply because he was the son of a laid off steel worker from Western PA, and she was the child of some under-secretary in the State Department that had attended the best prep schools in the country. Obviously, she had more power and privilege than my best-friend, so it depends. Some generalizations are just that inductive generalizations. Again, I’d be context-sensitive to the case involved, but would not see to take issue with all forms of political correctness.

        [“logic is not independent of content,”]

        I don’t know what this means exactly. If you found something I said to be at fault, argue it and tell me. As far as I am concerned, logic is independent of content since logic is the science and study of argumentative form. The normative dimension of logic proceeds from the fact that some forms of reasoning are better than what occurs. As you suggested above, you were engaged in polemics, and I think there’s a way to disagree with ideas, and better ways to extend charitability to those ideas. Again, I don’t know what you mean and it’s hard to tell what this means exactly.

      • Jim,

        Fair enough. I can understand that my treatment of Critical Theory was shallow from a philosophical standpoint, and things could have been tighter overall in presentation and topic. SJWs could have used a definition that differentiated who exactly was subject to my scorn. Though, I thought it was abundantly clear who I was giving both barrels due to the fact there are lots of examples of the sort of people I’m lambasting in there. Putting aside the style and polemics, I still maintain that:

        A) For anyone who both adopts a Critical stance and maintains cultural appropriation, as defined above, as an element of their critical theory is being hypocritical. My appeal to dialectical philosophy and definition was insufficient, but my appeal to the history of the first generation of Frankfurt School thinkers as contrasted with progressive activists on campus was dead on.

        B) Those people I was ridiculing thoroughly deserve it. They fired the first shots, and I was returning fire.

        C) Critical Theory as now critical theory (the stuff your typical campus feminists, transgender and LGBT activist, Black Lives Matter peddles) is fetishized, abstract, oppressive and been incorporated into capitalism and mass popular culture. Political correctness is part of the ossified status quo and resistant to change, a social contradiction that needs to be negated. I will put out there tentatively that any critical theory whose proponents fashion it as a radical, in the above broadly critical sense, without being consciously dialectical, especially risks becoming “vulgar” like the Leninism and Stalinism were “vulgar Marxism” just as “multiculturalism” has become now.

        “Some forms of political correctness are norms of respect. I don’t see a problem with those forms of political correctness.”

        That’s just begging the question. The wholesale regimen of political correctness, its moral content and underlying suppositions, is disputed by the right. To kowtow to those “norms of respect” is to commit intellectual suicide for us. Arguing with a transgender activist about why gender is not merely a social construct subject to voluntary whim while using that person’s preferred pronouns is to tacitly concede the debate.

        It’s just ascribing oneself the moral high ground by mere assertion without arguing for it and using that unearned pretense of moral superiority to avoid any sort of real constructive dialectic.

        Unless, you had something else in my when you refer to political correctness?

        “I don’t know what this means exactly. If you found something I said to be at fault, argue it and tell me. As far as I am concerned, logic is independent of content since logic is the science and study of argumentative form. The normative dimension of logic proceeds from the fact that some forms of reasoning are better than what occurs. As you suggested above, you were engaged in polemics, and I think there’s a way to disagree with ideas, and better ways to extend charitability to those ideas. Again, I don’t know what you mean and it’s hard to tell what this means exactly.”

        It’s a famous quote from Horkheimer. He was a proponent of substantive logic.

    • The Dialectical Imagination by Martin Jay is good. The book review I linked to seems good, thought I haven’t read it. There’s some lectures on YouTube about the Frankfurt — and not just right wing polemics — but also people with no conservative political axe to grind and are even sympathetic to it.

  3. “Cultural appropriation,” as an accusation, can only arise from a society that values “property” and “ownership.” So, employ the accusation in order to allegedly defend the integrity of minority cultures is itself a very free-market, Western, white thing to do.

    • Yeah, I notice that too. Property and ownership have the twang of the sort of classical liberalism SJW’s reject.

      As it’s been pointed out above, I don’t argue much about cultural appropriation conceptually. The idea that “culture can be owned” akin to property seems objectionable. Perhaps a proponent of cultural appropriation explains how this is so, but it definitely needs positive argument for it.

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