The Ampulex Compressa is a fascinating creature. This feat of nature, known as the jewel wasp is even more endearing, like other creatures in this magnificent world of ours, when their story is narrated by Sir David Attenborough, i.e. the man whose chronicling skills could turn a sequence of my daily breakfast into an unforgettable diamond for posterity.
In a nutshell, the jewel wasp is best known for finding unsuspecting cockroaches, stinging them, and then injecting them with toxins that take over their freaking minds. Once under the zombifying power of the toxin, the wasp uses the still living cockroach as a dumpster for its babies, who hatch inside it, feast on its body from within, bit by bit, eating non critical parts first so as to keep the cockroach fresh and yummy until, chubby and rosy-cheeked, the little wasps emerge from their hollowed host's corpse to start their lives as equally terrifying sons of bitches.
Did you vomit yet? Let me give you the juicy parts (pun intended). The first step in this gore fiesta is for the wasp to find a cockroach. Usually, the Australian one does. This winged satan proceeds to sting the cockroach on the thorax and its venom has the effect of paralyzing the front legs of the victim, turning it into an exposed target. You see, the wasp likes its cockroach like it likes its morning coffee, black and quiet. So, when the cockroach is at the mercy of its murderer, the latter calmly combs the area searching for the perfect spot where the brain can be reached better. Like a deluded Doctor Frankenstein drunk with power, the jewel wasp takes its time and, wham!, it stings but now right in the spot where the control box for the escape reflex is. At this point, technically the cockroach is able to run, but since the part of the brain that says "get the hell out of here, you fool!" is short circuited, it simply doesn't. The cockroach has no free will at this stage of the match. It doesn't even complain. Hell, it is in such a sorry state that the wasp, too small to carry the cockroach, grabs its victim by an antennae and walks it back to his crib like a submissive pet. Once at the wasp's place (#metoo alert!) the abdomen of the cockroach is used as in the film Alien and stuffs its eggs right in the tummy. Then leaves for a beer with the lads.
The horrorshow doesn't stop there, though. This is where the story gets even wilder. The cockroach is still alive, ok? And it's in a sorry state, one in which everything is happening but it can't go away. But it isn't because its legs don't work or because it can't find the car keys of the wasp, but because the part of the brain that takes care of that instinct is literally dead. Picture yourself waking up inside your coffin, buried 6 feet underground. You're alive but you have been thought dead and, thus, buried, and nobody can hear you scream. Something like that, but with wasp babies inside you. These little bastards hatch inside the cockroach and feed from its insides, careful enough not to eat the critical parts until there's no more. The cockroach, then, remains there, knowing that it has turned into a body sized sushi platter for a tiny baby wasp, which emerges triumphantly, with a full belly, as the cockroach perishes in the most horrendous agony. By the time wasp junior leaves the house, the scene is like a crime scene investigation.
This, my friend, is what Critical Theory does to young, unsuspecting minds. But before we talk about that, let's lay the groundwork.
Here's a quote from Nietzsche, from the webpage of one of my favorite philosophy teachers right now, Stephen Hicks. Although sometimes convoluted, the German here makes it succinct, elegant, and to the point. There are two ways of going about life. One is to fully subscribe to an already built, tested and prepackaged dogma and go through life in autopilot. There are some tradeoffs to be made, for sure, but it is a feasible and respectable way of avoiding anxiety, adhering to a community, and adding a drop of certainty to an existence that is already complex as it is. Time tested answers, moreover, have the advantage of echo chambers and confirmation bias, unless a particular set of beliefs falls into a disarming disrepute from which it can't recover or, like Zoroastrians, for example, they're wiped off the map and there's nobody to pass on the knowledge to newer generations.
The other option, more daunting, is to make one's own path. This does not translate into creating an entire cosmology and worldview from scratch, entirely original and bulletproof. It is impossible, actually, and not because there aren't people who don't have the intellectual muscle and the motivation to do so. In the contrary. However, human nature is bound by its biological reality and the commonplaces of the world and of society represent goalposts, within which humans, for millennia, have been asking the same questions over and over again. It is only natural that very similar ideas, theories, debates, and musings recur in what could be oxymoronically but quite sexily called an intergenerational crowdsourced soliloquy.
This is where the jewel wasp of ideologies kicks in. Now, Critical Theory isn't the proto-wasp by any means, but it is the latest incarnation of Marxism, the epitome of dogmas built on resentment and utopianism. Check this baby out, for example, a solid 150 pages of hatred and facile explanations.
The Frankfurt School, the term used to define the dudes who birthed this school of thought can be best defined as ripping off Sigmund Freud in order to add a psychological element to the Marxist obsession with their favorite tool, i.e. base and superstructure. A model in which the base is comprised of the means and relations of production shaping the superstructure (ideology) which in turn shapes the base. The key element to distinguish here is why Critical Theory was fundamental in Marxism's survival. You see, the prophecies of Marx failed miserably, and the moral and economic debacle of the national projects founded on his ideas would have been catastrophic for any other ideology. However, it is very sexy to have at hand a reductionist explanation for all of existence's ailments and, even better, a quick "solution" pointing at a beautiful utopia. In that sense, Critical Theory takes from where Marxism started failing to provide an accurate description of the world, removing its teleological and logical positivist strains and replacing them instead with a gooey, catch-all and paranoid view of enslavement and strife everywhere, i.e. ethnicity, race, gender, and even reason itself, seen as a proxy for the Enlightenment, is out to oppress everybody. This is where there's some confusion between Critical Theory and postmodernism, but worry not, for they are skin changes of the same snake. Critical Theory is modernist in the sense that it talks about injustice in broad terms within the corporate capitalist system, while postmodernism does away with any conception of rationality employed in categorizations and systematizations, and plays sneaky with cultural contexts, going into "tribal" strife to remain relevant in what they consider late stage capitalism. While Critical Theory still uses binaries, like left and right, high and low culture, and economic and political, postmodernism does not even have that, making it more foggy but harder to pin down.
For practical purposes, I see Critical Theory and postmodernism as Neomarxism, i.e. Marx on steroids; true manifestations of the same desire to bring down the beliefs of classic liberalism that have brought so much progress for humankind: reliance on reason, free enterprise, and individualism. Thus, it is easy to see how this dogma is like what the jewel wasp does. Watch videos of snowflakes on university campuses picketing conservative speakers, scientists, and any thinker who does not submit to their ideology; those who demand safe spaces, denounce micro-aggressions, and claim that all men are rapists, all white people are racist, and that the tenets of biology don't apply and thus everything is socially constructed. Men are emasculated, societies are kneecapped, and families are fair target. They even support religious fanatics who are hellbent on destroying everything that smells of Western culture!
It is out there for everyone to see that these kids have been stung by the jewel wasp of the resentment gospel. They have lost their instinct to run away, all while their professors lead them into their cave, feeding them unscientific venom and the toxins of Marxism, so the next generation of gulag officers hatch inside them.
Welcome to the land of the zombies, son.