Claudine Gay, president of Harvard, resigned after being questioned by a parliamentary committee on anti-Semitism at the University. Asked whether calling for Jewish genocide violates Harvard’s ethical code, Gay replied that “it depends on the context.” This outrage generated a scandal. The conservators studied her work and found plagiarism in her doctoral thesis and in several of her works. Finally, he resigned. A political scientist, she belongs to that university caste forged in postmodernism and critical theory, committed to racial and gender demands. Her task is not science, but deconstructing what exists to prepare the way for “transformation.” That’s why, When he said “it depends on the context” he meant that ethics or the contrasted and empirical fact are only subjective perspectives, manageable according to the interpretation of whoever hears or sees it. This denial of truth is the cynicism that is destroying our culture.
Steven Pinker, psychologist, demonstrated in “Rationality” (2021) that at the University ideological bias prevails more than reason and science. This is devastating in the Humanities and Social Sciences, where tribal codes, militant ideology and the commitment to a transformative social function operate that, in the end, ends up overshadowing the meaning of the profession and suffocating research and cultural progress.
The key word in this process of degradation is “postmodernism”, which consists of deconstructing history, science and reason because they are considered instruments of domination. Instead, priority is given to redressing identity groups considered oppressed: women, non-whites, LGTB, or those who have some physical peculiarity, such as obesity. The purpose is social justice, Hence they present themselves as vindictive and condemn those who do not agree with their evangelizing work. Their weapon is language, the creation of new words and the banishment of others considered “oppressive.” This involves destroying classical values, traditional education, customs, culture, and the exclusion of those who do not agree with postmodernism. They call this “progressive.”
Rhetoric of farce
That mentality emerged decades ago and had a twist at the beginning of the 21st century, when it went from the University to street activism and politics. Which has led to the imposition of moral obligations in research, such as, for example, the gender perspective although it is not relevant, or the prioritization in the study of the “oppressed” due to their sex, race, class and others, above all, if there is intersectionality, that is, the combination of several “oppressions”. Anyone who is in college knows what I’m talking about. Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay analyze this phenomenon in “Cynical Theories” (Alliance) with the subtitle: “How academic activism made everything about race, gender and identity, and why it hurts us all.” .
The two authors began their journey with an article titled “The conceptual penis as a social construct”, published by the scientific journal “Cogent Social Sciences” in 2017. The text was a parody but it passed the test. The authors said that the penis is not biological, but a cultural artifact for patriarchal dominance and oppression of women. In his thesis there was no scientific foundation, but rather postmodern rhetoric. The article made the academic world look ridiculous because it showed that it was not science that mattered, but political discourse. Now both authors have gone one step further and have cataloged the farce in what they call “cynical theories.”
Lindsay and Pluckrose point out the four themes of university postmodernism, which draws on twentieth-century philosophers such as Derrida and Foucault: the erasure of limits (anyone can feel like a woman, for example), the creative power of language (Orwellian newspeak), cultural relativism (the London Symphony is the same as a guy with a bongo) and the denial of the individual for the benefit of oppressed and victimized identity groups. From here, they analyze four cynical theories that we are going to illustrate with examples.
Postcolonialism is based on lowering the importance of Western civilization, making it guilty of the situation of the rest of the world. In fact, postmodernists say that literacy or traditional medicine were imperialist tools. An example of this trend is Urtasun, Minister of Culture, who announced on December 30 actions against “colonial culture” in Spain due to its presence in America and Africa.
Then there is queer theory, which is based on saying that biological sex is a sociocultural construct for oppression and that gender is the obligatory norms for that domination. They thus speak of “phallocentrism” in a society built for “the macho” and the need to erase the categories of man and woman, as the Ministry of Equality has done in Spain. This is insulting to those who feel their biology is deprived of their identity, say Lindsay and Pluckrose, or to those who do not make their sexuality a political issue. The matter goes further: the American Psychological Association considers “traditional masculinity” a mental illness.
Critical race theory, that of Claudine Gay, It is based on exalting non-white women as a way to dismantle the “heteronormative white patriarchy.” Their culture and history are better than “the white one”, and if they have not stood out more it has been because of racial oppression. How do you prove that you are not racist? Well, appointing a postmodern black woman as chancellor of Harvard without verifying her resume, like Claudine Gay. By the way, Gay victimized herself by saying that she was criticized not for plagiarizing and relativizing the request for a Jewish genocide, but for being black and a woman.
The same thing happens with fatness, defended as a contrast to the “fascist” oppression of the perfect body. This theory is prone to intersectionality with discrimination against women. It is the so-called “fat feminism.” An example is Ángela Rodríguez, former Secretary of State for Equality, who claims that she is discriminated against for being “feminist, fat and bisexual”, and who says that “fat women are also raped.”
In short, Lindsay and Pluckrose’s magnificent book observes that the problem is that this University is creating an elite that is skeptical of science and reason, obsessed with identity, that sees oppressive power dynamics everywhere, that politicizes private life and that applies ethics unequally, depending on the group affected. That’s why those Harvard students called for Jewish genocide and Claudine Gay didn’t condemn it.