I am going to warn you right up front: this is long – and most (if not all) readers will not need the level of specificity contained within. You guys are smart and already get it, but I wrote this for sharing with people who have not yet “got it” to help them understand some of the irrationality and chaos they may be sensing these days, so please bear with me for a few minutes of your day. There is just no other way to till this ground without using multiple plows.
Here we go down the rabbit hole.
It seems the progressive left and their allies in the collectivist and radical camps have decided “white supremacy” is the cause, reason, and outcome for everything these days – even when blacks commit crimes against Asians or each other, it is due to anger caused by white supremacy (or Donald J. Trump, which in their lexicon is just another term for “white supremacy”).
People need to understand from whence this tactic arises and they need to understand the concepts of postmodernism and Critical Theory (the parent theory that gave birth to Critical Race Theory). To do so, they should be familiar with the term “metanarrative” and the names of some people – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, you should already know – but you should also know Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Herbert Marcuse, and Jean-François Lyotard.
The “metanarrative” is a concept much like the One Ring to rule them all of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. In the books and the Peter Jackson movies, the One Ring is essentially a physical manifestation of a metanarrative, one grand narrative to rule all narratives.
Casey Given, writing at the Foundation for Economic Education, describes the metanarrative concept this way: “As the word’s etymology implies, metanarratives are narratives about narratives, giving a grand structural story to human history. In plain English, they’re the tales we’ve been told all our lives about existence from various perspectives. Christianity’s metanarrative, for example, is that humans have been sinful since Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden, but there is hope for salvation in accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. The Enlightenment’s metanarrative is that rational thought grounded in empiricism leads to human progress. Marxism’s metanarrative is that the history of the world has been one of class oppression, and a revolution of the proletariat is the only solution to end poverty, scarcity, and injustice.”
As the definition indicates, metanarratives are typically built from the bottom up. Individual narratives are collected into common group narratives, and then the common group narratives are combined into one grand narrative. As one would expect, through the combination of narratives, the metanarrative that remains is the result of an “averaging” of sub-narratives, the result of a process of “sanding off the corners” as it were while retaining the critical substance that glues all the sub-narratives together.
The world has always had metanarratives – it can be argued that nations themselves are metanarratives. We each live separate lives, each of us with our own stories, and yet we are united by a common national bond, that of being American. In a sense, even our Constitution is a metanarrative and that Western civilization is also a metanarrative.
Whew. Done with that for a moment – now, if you aren’t bored to death, I’ll go to the names mentioned earlier.
Jacques Derrida invented the concept of “deconstructionism”. Deconstructionism is based on two ideas: first that no passage or text can possibly convey a single reliable, consistent, and coherent message to everyone who reads or hears it and second is that the author who wrote the text is less responsible for the piece’s content than are the forces of culture (such as language) and the author’s unconscious biases and ideology. While deconstructionism seeks to define the “real meaning” of something said or written by delving into the cultural context and individual biases and ideology of the speaker or author, one can see how it can also be used to twist meaning when the “deconstruction” is based on assumption or a willful misreading of history or context.
Michel Foucault is generally credited with the birthing of philosophical postmodernism, “a movement characterized by broad epistemological skepticism and ethical subjectivism, a general suspicion of reason, and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.”
Herbert Marcuse, a member of the Frankfurt School, taught at Columbia University, Brandeis University, and the University of California at San Diego. While Marxism was generally accepted as an economic theory (as Marx himself intended), Marcuse sought to facilitate the translation of Marxism into cultural terms. By applying Marx’s theories of oppression of economic classes to cultural and racial groups, Marcuse gave birth to a new form of class warfare based on ethnicity and race, resulting in both Cultural Marxism and Critical Race Theory.
In his 1979 book, “The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge”, the French philosopher François Lyotard defined postmodernism this way, “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity towards metanarratives”. Simply put, postmodernism is about the destruction of metanarratives – but in truth, even postmodernism has a metanarrative. Somewhat unsurprisingly, that metanarrative is contradictory because postmodernism’s metanarrative is the destruction of metanarratives.
Ouch. Sorry if that caused a small brain aneurism, but postmodernism and its political vehicle, progressivism, is rife with logical contradictions. Neither can exist without them, which seems to be impossible because in nature, anything opposed to itself cannot exist.
I guess drugs help with that cognitive dissonance.
Now think of how a metanarrative like the United States could be destroyed – one could either attack it from the bottom up, destroying all the individual sub-narratives, or attack it top down, by creating a competing metanarrative to overwhelm and dispel the metanarrative that defines our nation.
As the Marxists finally realized, a bottom-up attack does not work in the US because so many sub-narratives have the defense of being true. Economic division is impossible in an economic system where everyone defines their own success and has the open opportunity to pursue the best way to achieve it. Given the lack of success of the bottom-up attack, they settled on the top-down competing metanarrative approach, giving birth to the OTSR, the Oprah Theory of Systemic Racism: “You are a racist white supremacist, and YOU are a racist white supremacist, and YOU – yes, you over there – are a racist white supremacist, too! Everybody is a racist white supremacist!”
As in the old Ted Turner “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” eco-propaganda cartoon, contemporary Marxists combined the five powers of Marx, Engels, Derrida, Foucault and Marcuse and summoned Earth’s greatest champion, Captain Progressive.
The problem is that top-down metanarratives are not based on existing sub-narratives, they are the opposite, top-down metanarratives assume that they explain all the sub-narratives, that the sub-narratives are dependent on the grand narrative, not that the grand narrative is built upon them.
And that is why top-down metanarratives are typically wrong and almost always political rather than philosophical.
If you are confused, just imagine the synaptic short circuits that go on every nanosecond inside the skulls of postmodernists. It is like a Pink Floyd laser light show at the Hayden Planetarium or living inside a massive thunderstorm cell. No wonder they do not make a lick of sense.