Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Critical Theory: First Thoughts

Coming to post-colonialism theory the class safari fully enters into the realm of critical dialog. I come to this region with some fear and trepidation realizing the basis in conflict/warfare thesis and some of the consequences of this model from the past. It is rather easy for me to buy into liberation for the oppressed, social justice, and political empowerment, but then I realize an unforeseen caveat, a sort of Pandora's jar or pot (it was really not a box folks). What is hidden under the lid of this pot is not hope, but rather vested/conflict of interest.

On the one hand, critical theory does seem to focus on the oppression of the masses. On the other hand, the masses seem to be faceless and individuals are rather expendable. So critical theory is willing to empower the masses while at the same time disenfranchising the individual. I believe that it is important to consider that the revolution often proposed by critical theory, either social, economic, or military, does not propose to liberate all people, but only the oppressed of a certain sort, usually economically oppressed or those on the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

Should we be satisfied to offer humanity bread and circuses, considering the task accomplished? What of those who are spiritually or ideologically oppressed, those who lack transcendent purpose, and those who oppress others because of ignorance? I would consider all of the foregoing candidates for liberation, though usually not the liberation of which the revolutions of the past have focused. Maybe humanity does not live by bread alone and possibly those who are well fed, clothed, and housed also suffer a type of oppression that is beyond the ken of current critical theory with its monolithic and myopic origins. What if by liberating a few spiritually they in turn would use their means to liberate the masses economically, forgoing the cruel and bloody revolutions that dogged the so called liberators of the past.


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