aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

A primer on class warfare and all that -- part IV

Class warfare gets mixed in with a lot of other things these days. The default position of many (most?) academics these days is heavy influenced by Conflict Theory, which means that if you've attended college in the last thirty years, you've either had it spoon fed to you, had it as sauce over stuff the professor thought was original, or at least had the slogans repeated endlessly. So, what is it?

Sociology asks two primary questions. 1) Is the individual or the group the primary building block of society? 2) Are people basically consensual or conflictual (i.e., do they innately seek to get along or do they seek to get what they want in despite of others)? How you answer those two questions determines your basic outlook on society.

Conflict Theory assumes that your primary identity is that of your group, and that all groups are in perpetual conflict over the resources of society. "Resources" in this statement means not only money and power, but also the right to define words used in common. Furthermore, resources are finite; any gain for you is automatically a loss for me. So conflict is inevitable.

Conflict Theorists (sometimes called neo-Marxists) say that when you act against your group because you think it is "right," you are guilty of False Consciousness. "Right" means "whatever is good for my group." All covenants and relationships are merely tactical; no societal relationship is ever settled, it's only resting until I have the resources to finally win for my group. So, all men oppress all women. All whites oppress all blacks. A black woman must sometimes identify her interests with black males because she is oppressed by both male and female whites; on the other hand, she must sometimes identify her interests with white women because she is oppressed by both white and black men. But no relationship, whether in society at large or between any two "friends" is ever settled. My needs may call for me to repudiate what you thought was an on-going understanding at any time. And the conflict cannot ever be settled.

Any behavior I adopt that came from you means you gain in influence and I lose in influence, and both of us are being proxies for our groups. This is why African-American kids in school are sometimes criticized by their peers for studying hard and getting good grades. Their friends call it "acting white." It's another way of adopting False Consciousness, which is the ultimate no-no.

Here's the thing, though. If person in Group A (a "victim" group) behaves or believes in accordance with the values of Group B (an "oppressor" group), then that person is guilty of False Consciousness. BUT, if a person in Group A persuades a person in Group B to yield some societal advantage in order to make up for the disadvantaged position of people in Group A, what is that? Well, that, too, is False Consciousness. Which makes the appeal to higher values by the practitioners of identity politics a massive con job. If you buy into what they're selling, then you're a dupe. You're guilty of False Consciousness. And they'll take what you're giving up, Fool, but never believe that your changing your behavior means you're going to be really accepted. Whaddya think we are? Consensualists?

So, the use of moral suasion by those who don't really believe in Truth, except for "my/our Truth," is a crock. That doesn't prove other social theories right, but it does prove that Conflict Theory is a particularly nasty idea, particularly for high-achieving, Middle Class white males (everybody's favorite oppressors).

Actually, my case against Conflict Theory is not sociological (the questions, above, have no empirical answers, and therefore cannot be determined); rather, my case against Conflict Theory is religious. In the Apostles' Creed, it says,
I believe in the holy catholic Church . . .
One can argue (many do argue) that that phrase describes a particular organization. As a Methodist, I don't think it has to. But leave that for a moment. The whole idea of catholicity implies that the gospel is True, and can be truly expressed in the heart language of every people.

This is not admitted by all. We have "Christian" theologians who believe that Christianity is a very white, European kind of thing, and our dogma has to yield to different formulations of God in different cultures. But historic Christianity says that God is the Father of all mankind, and that Jesus is the Savior sent to everybody. So, the Apostles' Creed, while it is not exhaustively true (other statements about God can also be true), is absolutely true in everything it says, and this can be truly understood, one way or another, by every culture and tongue and people throughout all times and places.

Like [pick your sociological theory], the Creed cannot be proven empirically, either; I'll admit that. But that's where I start, and that means that neo-Marxist clergy who want to swap old Conflict Theory slogans and call them "Liberation Theology" or something are simply heretics. If you are a Christian, you are under no obligation to listen to anything else they say. Whatever moral arguments they make, their metaphysical compass is faulty, and even when they point in the right direction, it is only by chance.


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