Global Research, July 04, 2021
All Global Research articles can be read in 51 languages by activating the “Translate Website” drop down menu on the top banner of our home page (Desktop version).
Visit and follow us on Instagram at @crg_globalresearch.
Let us be clear. The recent rise in Wokeness is another symptom of America’s “reality deficit disorder (RDD),” a condition that continues to proliferate across the American landscape since the Age of Enlightenment and the 19th century’s advent of scientific materialism as a secular religion. The proponents of modern behaviorism and the neurosciences are likewise saturated with RDD. The gurus of modern Critical Race Theory, the Woke self-congratulating experts and false prophets, are its public face. These are plastic intellectuals who have found a righteous purpose to spread the message in the Woke Critical Race movement’s bible, Robin DiAngelo’s bestseller White Fragility. Identity politics, efforts to consolidate groupthink in order to promulgate illusions about race, social status, and gender have found their voice in DiAngelo’s and Ibram Kendi’s writings.
Despite the widespread adulation DiAngelo has received from liberal educators, the mega-corporate elite, and the liberal media, she has managed to jockey herself away from the deep scrutiny her writings and lectures deserve. An exception is Jonathan Church, author of Reinventing Racism, who brilliantly exposes DiAngelo’s flaws and deconstructs her façade of being objective. Church takes a more philosophical offensive to shed light on DiAngelo’s implicit biases and contradictions that in turn distort the very ideas she attempts to proselytize. While we agree wholeheartedly with Church’s polemic, we would take a more scientific approach and state that DiAngelo’s racial theories of irredeemable Whiteness have no basis in reality whatsoever.
White Fragility reads like a tantrum by an author deeply confused about her own identity and with a third-rate intellect. “All white people,” DiAngelo wants us to believe, “are invested in and collude with racism.” If you were born White then racism is built into your genetic inheritance. There can be no escape from this curse, DiAngelo suggests, no redemption or purification by fire regardless of how much penitence, public service or charity you perform for the greater good. We wonder whether she would include the indigenous White Finno-Ugric peoples inhabiting the most northern forests and tundra of Scandinavia and Russia’s Kola Peninsula are also genetically colluding in perpetuating the world’s racism.
The author reminds us of someone who has read every published book about chocolate and thus feels qualified to write one of their own; however, the person has never actually tasted chocolate. Philosophy and postmodern sociology in general, notably the modern philosophies of science and mind, suffer from this mental affliction. They write books about other philosophers’ books who in turn wrote books about their predecessors’ scribbling. Many authors writing about religion suffer from this same malady. Right-wing critics to RCT Wokeness likewise indulge in a similar cognitive hallucination built upon feeble-minded pre-Galilean superstitions. When the time comes to take their last breath, they will have failed to achieve any conscious lucidity to read the last page in the novel of their lives. Their perceptions of themselves and the world, their righteous anger and biases, will be revealed as dreamscapes –nevertheless the phantoms they have conjured will have had dire consequences to the welfare of innocent victims prejudiced and canceled by their vitriol and condemnation.
There have always been conflicting ideologies, cherished beliefs and inflamed emotions towards racial discrepancies, social order or how the nation should be governed. But today these cognitive afflictions, masquerading as passions and righteous causes such as Woke Culture’s anti-racism, have disintegrated into tribalism. This is now fomenting new class and racial distinctions and struggles as well as media turf wars. No one can accurately predict where this collective reality deficit disorder will lead ultimately but it certainly won’t contribute to any positive advancement of human well-being. It repeats the old adage of garbage in, garbage out.
“The greatest need of our time,” the Trappist monk Thomas Merton wrote in his Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, “is to clean out the enormous mass of mental and emotional rubbish that clutters our minds and makes all political and social life a mass illness. Without this housecleaning we cannot begin to see. Unless we see we cannot think.” Merton believed that this “purification must begin with the mass media.” We would suggest it also begins with our educational institutions. Teachers who embrace White Fragility’s social folly, need to introspectively gaze and observe the destructive ataxia nesting in their own minds. If anyone wonders why the nation is so angry, screaming and protesting, it is because the failed neoliberal experiment, the culture of political nepotism, a captured and biased media, and a thoroughly corrupt judiciary have created this horror show. DiAngelo seemingly wants to gather tinder to keep racial conflagrations burning.
“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous,” Martin Luther King lamented, “than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” It is our deep ignorance about not knowing ourselves and appreciating our intrinsic interconnections with each other and the environment that perpetuates the suffering around us. These deeper existential relationships outsmart and surpass any value Critical Race Theory might offer. This includes our attachments to whatever accomplishments and failures we experience in our lives through racial identity, which lead to a reality deficit with all of its superiority complexes, apathy and depression.
First, there is sufficient empirical science to reach a consensus that we are a culture that has become habituated to mistaking its unfounded perceptions about itself and the world as reality-based. This applies to our cognitive conceptions of Whiteness, Blackness, Yellowness, etc. Church makes this clear; DiAngelo’s use of the term Whiteness is “nebulous” and “vague.” He points out that her logic falls into a Kafka Trap, referring to Kafka’s novel The Trial when an unassuming man is dragged into court and accused for an unspecified crime; subsequently his unwavering denial is itself interpreted as absolute proof that the accusation is true. “Yes, all white people are complicit with racism,” writes DiAngelo, “People will insist that they are not racist… This is the kind of evidence that many white people used to exempt themselves from that system. It is not possible to be exempt from it.” Consequently, for DiAngelo and Kendi, Whites can only speak about their “whiteness” in terms of how it reinforces systemic racism. But from a neuro-scientific perspective, all colored racisms are skewed perceptions of reality.
For example, when we gaze into a deep azure sky we immediately assume there is physical blue over our heads. However, there are no blue-colored photons reaching our retinas. Rather, our brains receive the emitted photons and through a complex channeling of information from the eye to the visual cortex the brain then Photoshops the color azure and projects it through our glance into the empty space of the sky. The same is true whether we gaze at a verdant forest canopy, a fiery sunset, the fluorescent, shimmering hues of a fanning peacock’s feathers or observing an African, Asian or European person crossing the street.
There is nothing mysterious behind this; it is visual brain science 101. No neuroscientist questions this visual phenomena. We reify the sensory stimuli the brain receives from the objective world and then grasp and cling to these as being factually real. Theoretically race may be understood as only a conventional or relative appearance arising to our mental perceptions. No absolutely objective claims can be made about it; therefore, there cannot be any absolute analyses or solutions for confronting racism either.
In striking contrast to White Fragility’s cognitive deficiencies, we may consider an argument posed by the great German and Jewish existentialist philosopher Martin Buber. Buber speaks of an I-You relationship when we engage with another person as another subject instead of as an object. There’s a subject there, and that subject is every bit as real as the subject over here. As much as I care about my own well-being, then so do you. To transcend Critical Race Theory’s divisions and its many shortcomings, which relate to others as I-Its — as mere objects — we simply need to be aware of Buber’s advice, and become fully engaged with that reality. Buber highlights this as a profoundly existential problem in modern society. It is debilitating. It is dehumanizing and horrid, although for DiAngelo and Critical Wokeness preserving racial I-It relationships is not only valid but essential. When we regard others simply in terms of whether the color of their skin is appealing or unappealing, pleasant or unpleasant, superior or inferior, and so forth we are bifurcating impressions that have no substance in reality. We are simply treating other sentient beings as if they have no more sentience, no more subjectivity, no more presence from their own side than a robot or computer. But that seems fine for DiAngelo and her tragic dehumanizing dogma, the output of a massive reality deficit disorder.
If DiAngelo were unintelligent or had severe brain damage, we might understand and would certainly sympathize. But she and Ibram Kendi — and we would argue all of their followers who carry White Fragility’s banner into school classrooms — are likely very educated people. That is the calamity and the clear evidence for the deep-seated spiritual impoverishment when a person is viewed as nothing more than the race of their physical bodies.
If anti-racial Wokeness is true, then the more deeply we probe and investigate it, the truer it should appear. This is one of William James’ fundamental principles when he made efforts to turn the psychology of his day into a real science. If James’ methodololgy had not been obliterated by the rise of behaviorism in 1910, psychology would be completely different today. We would actually be treating and curing people of mental disorders, and without life-long medications. On the other hand, if DiAngelo’s hypothesis is false, the more deeply you investigate, which includes introspection, the more false it will appear. That is where robust inquiry comes in: to determine what is simply true regardless of whatever your personal unsubstantiated and biased beliefs about it might be. What you believe has absolutely no impact upon whether something is true or not. This is also basic Buddhist epistemology that has been repeatedly replicated by contemplatives for several millennia. However, for the Woked who cling to their beliefs most fiercely they are trapped in a cave of their own system’s illusions.
Neuroscience, including its gross failures and tendencies towards metaphysical realism, has more to tell us about the inherent dangers in White Fragility’s doctrine. First, modern brain science has not produced an iota of evidence to confirm that the mind and consciousness are solely a product or output originating in neuron and synaptic activity. None. Contrary to the evidence, most neuroscientists and evolutionary biologists nevertheless embrace this opinion as being a settled matter. But it is ridiculous to believe that evolution somehow dragged along our ancient single-celled ancestors until some point was reached when a conscious mind — a “nothing” that is not observable, not measurable, not quantifiable, without atoms or photons, mass, electric charge or spin – mysteriously arose out of something, such as genes and biomolecular phenomena. Therefore cognitive scientists pretend to know something about the mind and consciousness when in fact they haven’t a clue.
If the genetic determinism of DiAngelo and other materialists populating the evolutionary and biological sciences is correct, then it would break the fundamental physical laws of energy conservation and causal efficacy. Rather the absolutist determinism that underpins White Fragility’s entire message is just the inverse side of the coin with Evangelical creationism. In effect, DiAngelo is saying White people have no choice. It’s genetic chemistry or its genetic chemistry; either way its genetic chemistry. By disguising and recasting an evolutionary and genetic determinism about racist Whiteness into her critical race theory, DiAngelo is in fact admitting that her own perceptions about reality are fundamentally flawed.
Why is that?
Dr. Donald Hoffman has been a professor of neuroscience at the University of California at Irvine for over three decades. He has an impeccable background having studied artificial intelligence at MIT. But unlike the vast majority of his colleagues, Hoffman broke ranks and passed beyond neuroscience’s 19th century mechanistic base and dared to study modern quantum physics and relativity theory. Theoretical physics is almost anathema in human biological research and medicine, which is why these soft sciences have made so little progress to improve human health and well-being. Hoffman has performed hundreds of thousands of simulations comparing different species and their chances for survival based upon their ability to perceive and comprehend reality more accurately or not. His discoveries are startling and utterly revolutionary.
Hoffman discovered, across the board, species that best perceive reality go extinct more rapidly than competing species that only perceive what is necessary for them to remain fit and survive. During an interview following a TED Talk, Hoffman stated, “according to evolution by natural selection,” – and here he is limiting himself solely to evolutionary biological theory not quantum theories about the natural world or the deeper theories about the nature of consciousness – “an organism that sees reality as it is will never be more fit than an organism of equal complexity that sees none of reality but is just tuned to fitness. Never.” In other words, evolution has nothing to do with perceiving reality more clearly, but only to be more fit in order to adapt, survive and procreate. And now physicists are even telling us that perceiving reality accurately is consciousness itself, which has no association whatsoever with natural selection. Yet this only occurs after we have subdued our connate perceptual obscurations, which are not hardwired, and conditioned mental and emotional afflictions that keep us chained to reality deficit disorder
For example, Professor Edward Witten, regarded as “the world’s smartest” physicist at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton, has been compared to Newton and Einstein. Witten doesn’t believe science will ever understand consciousness. “I think consciousness will remain a mystery,” Witten stated during a lecture, ”I have a much easier time imagining how we understand the Big Bang than I have imagining how we can understand consciousness.” Or we can listen to Stanford University theoretical physicist Andre Linde:
“The current scientific model of the material world obeying laws of physics has been so successful that we forget our starting point as conscious observers, and conclude that matter is the only reality and that perceptions are only helpful for describing it. But in fact, we are substituting the reality of our experience of the universe with a conceptually contrived belief…”
One may feel our critique is too abstract with no practical application; however to at least conceptually understand race in terms of our sensory perceptions can have enormous benefits to cut through and lessen the false semblances that arise from reality deficit disorder and then produce books such as White Fragility and How To Be An Antiracist.
Therefore, if neuroscientists and modern neo-Darwinists such as Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Robin DiAngelo, who believe they are telling the complete story about human existence, racial differences and a physical causality to the human mind, and that all of these emerged from natural selection, then Hoffman has shown they undermine their own credibility. The entire course of natural selection that gave rise to these scientists and the intellectuals behind Critical Race Theory has nothing to do with knowing reality as it is, including Blackness or Whiteness. Consequently, there is no reason to believe their sociological and scientific convictions are accurate. If we did not evolve to know reality as it is, then their science and philosophies are also irrelevant. They are birdbrained beliefs because none of us – if we take their Darwinian assumptions to their full conclusion — did not evolve to perceive reality in the first place. Our sole purpose is to make babies and try to survive contently into old age.
Finally, contrary to DiAngelo, British journalist Melanie Phillips offers a clearer understanding for why we should not rely upon the pundits of anti-racial wokeness to save us from ourselves. Despite disagreeing with Phillips on many of her other socio-political positions, she correctly identifies the fundamental flaws being voiced by arrested development Wokeness across our campuses and within the Democrat party. First, it is unable to establish a hierarchy of values and morals. For example, if one refuses to say that any lifestyle or culture is better than another, then it cannot be said that liberalism is better than conservatism or any other ideology. Consequently, faux Woke liberalism cannot legitimately defend the very principles upon which it defines itself: racial and gender equality, freedom of speech and religion, tolerance, and class struggle. It contradicts its own principles and follows DiAngelo’s footsteps to remove the dignity of the individual, which in the past was at the heart of authentic liberalism and once served as its moral backbone. What we are witnessing therefore in Woke liberalism – and in DiAngelo’s and Kendi’s reinvention of racism — is “the strong dominating the weak,” and this is an ill-liberal ideology that is already showing signs of having catastrophic consequences in classrooms and the workplace.
Note to readers: Please click the share buttons above or below. Follow us on Instagram, @crg_globalresearch. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.
Richard Gale and Gary Null PhD direct Progressive Radio Network. They are frequent contributors to Global Research.