“The law of gravity is nonsense. No such law exists. If I think I float, and you think I float, then it happens.”
—O’Brien, talking to Winston Smith in 1984
Grievance scholarship is ideologically focused scholarship, not legitimate inquiry into topics like race or gender. In that sense, grievance studies are no different than university study under a totalitarian regime like Naziism or Stalinism. Or Big Brother. The point of inquiry is not increased knowledge, it is to advance the ideology. It is propaganda to advance the Big Lie. Grievance studies professors are not so much liberal arts scholars but missionaries: they do not exist to investigate the world but to change it.
The Big Lies around which all grievance studies are organized is the theory of intersectional group oppression and its solution—“equity.” They are just-so stories appropriated from Marxist theory that contain a kernel of truth, but also massive, fatal flaws. The theory’s essential purpose is to justify the ressentiment (in the Nietzschean sense) of the theorizers. You can tell this by simple reasoning: “Hate” in itself is not a societal problem for grievance theory. Only the supposed hate of men for women or whites for blacks is a problem for society. The very real hatred of (some) women for men and (some) blacks for whites is never an issue.
The classical definition of totalitarianism is a society where everything, from ethical norms to moral principles and truth itself, is subjugated to a political end, a foregone conclusion. Each area of study—Gender Studies, African-American Studies, Queer Studies, etc.—is its own reality, a totalism. Each of these realities has its own internal logic. In the so-called grievance studies, the foregone conclusions are the oppressions of the varied aggrieved groups: Women’s Studies proves the supposed oppression of women; African-American Studies the “oppression of blacks in the US, and so on. In other words, the question answered is not whether these groups are aggrieved, but how.
Ideological scholarship is revealed, almost as a prophecy, not empirically observed. Empirical observation that supports the prophecy is useful, but of course any thought or knowledge that does not further the ideology is heresy. Heresy is either attacked as heresy (“Misogyny!””Transphobia!”) to invalidate it, rooted out in a witch hunt (moral panics about male heterosexuality) or defined out of existence (e.g. the existence anti-male sexism) depending on the circumstances. It is never confronted directly with reason and facts because it cannot be.
The problem is not the study of alternate theories of society itself. The problem arises when disciples of the alternate theories exclusively impose their lens on the real world the rest of us live in and refuse to account for the fact that ALL lenses distort. The theory then becomes a flawed “truth.” Some of the theory can overlap with legitimate real world concerns, e.g. women should have equal rights. Some aspects of the alternate theories are extremely problematic in their real world implications, e.g. “All men are rapists and that’s all they are.” The grievance studies view does not acknowledge the problematic aspects of the grievance.
To understand the difference between actual scholarship and grievance “scholarship” it is important to understand the religious nature of its revealed truth and the difference between revealed truth and truth derived from reason and facts.
A physics paper would have its origin in empirical observation, theoretical proof and controlled experimentation. It would undergo peer review to rigorously examine the soundness of the theory, the math and methods. Once published, other scientists would tear it apart looking for the flaws, trying to disprove it. If the paper were on an experiment, then the experiment would be duplicated by other physicists in their own labs and the results observed. If the paper was a theory, then the implications of the theory would be tested in lab conditions. If the paper is disproved, either by inability to duplicate results or the repeated failure of predictions, the scientists modify the theory or start over.
Compare that to “White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack” (1989), an essay by feminist “scholar” Peggy McIntosh, that is a foundational text of Grievance Studies, outlining the important concept of “privilege.” It basically consists of a woman’s feelings, but it is received as Gospel. There is actually a word, “autoethnography,” for the genre of “scholarship” that consists of this sort of anecdotal “lived experience.” Of course only the “autoethnographies” of the “oppressed” are valid. This ridiculous mockery of actual scholarship is the bread and butter of grievance studies. And their attempts at actual “science” are not much better.
The damage this has done to society by lending credibility to grievance-based activism and undermining societal institutions is beyond calculation.
And speaking of mockeries…
The largest blow against this pseudo-academic sham thus far has just come to light with the activities of the so called Sokal Squared group. They authored 20 papers and sent them to prestigious journals in the grievance studies (a term they coined to distinguish them from legitimate scholarship into gender and race). Seven passed peer review and were accepted for publication by the time they were exposed, and who knows how many others would have been if their cover had not been blown. And these were ludicrous papers: Studies of male behavior in “Breastaurants” (like Hooter’s), “rape culture” and heteronormative policing in dog parks, a chapter of Mein Kampf rewritten as intersectional feminism, etc… All with completely made up methodologies, data and conclusions.
If academic experts cannot tell their pretentious, post-modern BS from Nazi propaganda, well let’s just say Rush Limbaugh’s epithet from the 1980s* was right after all. And no one should make the mistake of listening to them.
Academics need to purge their institutions of these toxic grievance studies departments for the good of their institutions and the good of society. If they do not do it on their own, taxpayers will be forced to use the blunter instrument of across the board funding cuts at public institutions. Hopefully this is a turning point.
*He is a right-wing radio personality who famously called feminists “feminazis.”