The Alchemy of Critical Theory and Destruction of Public Discourse | Colin Wright
Being Cancelled Isn't Personal
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ABOUT COLIN WRIGHT
Colin Wright is an evolutionary biologist, academic, and editor at @Quillette magazine.
Colin writes about the biology of sex, the intersection of evolutionary biology and gender politics, and more at his substack.
Colin Wright and I discuss:
- Why you shouldn't take "getting cancelled" personally
- The thing that made me realize Critical Theory is Alchemy
- How a focus on power dynamics critically wounds public discourse
Being Cancelled Isn't Personal
Carl Jung once said that if you can not figure out motives for an action, just look at the results and infer the motive. In alchemy, we call this "Operational Success."
If a large change seems irrational, yet achieves the ends of the involved parties - it wasn't so irrational.
Using "Operational Success" as a metric... one of the most powerful forms of alchemy in today's world is Critical Theory.
People use the framing and language of critical theory and the world bends to their will.
Some on the right believe critical theorists to be "wrong."
If saying "2+2=5" convinces everyone around you that 2+2 does equal 5, is it still wrong?
And the answer is: Depends who's asking.
I would posit that public discourse has been near critically wounded due to this dichotomy.
Critical Theorists have found a way to make verifiable lies into the truths that shape our cultural narrative.
Gnosis (inspired, mythic wisdom) has been turned against Veritas (scientific fact).
This has destabilized our culture's grasp on the Logos (articulatable truth).
One example of such an issue is in the realm of biological sciences.
Colin has spent much of the recent years documenting the encroaching influence of leftists into Biology through the discourse on Gender, which has now given way to a full on debate of sex.
5 or 6 year ago, discussion of Transgender people's experience became a mainstream topic.
Activists posited "sex is different than gender. There are two biological sexes, and gender is a spectrum between 2 poles."
Now the idea of "gender" has clearly changed and people are discussing how differences in biological sex might not be meaningful. This is a form of pacing and leading.
In hypnosis (a form of alchemy), the trick is to get your mark saying "Yes." You say things that are obviously true. They agree. This is pacing.
Eventually you posit a claim, they continue to agree - this is leading.
A: Racism is bad
B: Yes (pace)
A: Historically, some white people owned slaves
B: Yes (pace)
A: White people are the root of racial animosity in America
B: Yes (lead)
Once a "lead" claim has been widely accepted, it's basically a "fact" and leads can go further.
Here's another example:
A: Some people don't fit traditional gender roles
A: Sex and Gender are different
A: There are more than 2 genders
A: Gender identity matters more than biological sex
A: Biological sex has no impact on behavior
As scientific inaccuracies become accepted narrative, our social world will change.
You can argue that it's "wrong" all you like, being "wrong" doesn't stop people from the operational success they're seeking.
Of course, part of the alchemy is forceful erasure of the ability to pace and lead in the reverse direction.
This is cancel culture. It's an interesting function because many who have been cancelled don't truly understand it.
Cancel culture is now impacting ordinary Americans in their work places. We all watch our tongues out of fear of management and HR.
Customers, colleagues and angry mobs may defame us on social media and ruin our careers. This may seem bad, but is an "operational success"
@SwipeWright was defamed and cancelled by someone he thought was a close friend.
At first he took it quite personally. "I thought we were friends" But it's like this - it's only business.
I don't think people want to cancel or shun their friends. But some people aren't willing to lose THEIR jobs because YOU don't want to accept this giant lie being perpetrated on the population.
Unfortunately that means associating with you is a professional liability. You must not think this is your friend actively turning on you.
Unless your friend is a "true believer," or ideologue, cancellation is a somber and calculated political move to defend themselves from punishment.
Unfortunately, this has created a culture where we may not be ourselves to any large degree at work.
We may be soulless automatons in the shape of humans, performing our jobs and speaking the correct words to propel the alchemical spell forward. This is operational success.
And unfortunately still, this will create a world without Veritas - and with a very ideologically possessed "Gnosis.
Our sciences will halt, our understanding of our reality on reality's terms will diminish, and material progress will reverse. This is operational success.
Stop saying the radicals don't know what they're doing. Stop saying they're misguided.
Was ISIS misguided when they created a culture of terrorism in their "caliphate?"
No - it was a near operational success. Radicals are radicals, no matter what flavor they are.