Edward Feser, PhD, is Professor of Philosophy at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California. Called by National Review “one of the best contemporary writers on philosophy,” he is the author of many books including Five Proofs of the Existence of God, By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed, The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, Aquinas, and Scholastic Metaphysics.
His most recent book is All One in Christ: A Catholic Critique of Racism and Critical Race Theory (Ignatius Press, 2022). Ryan Anderson, president of Ethics and Public Policy Center, describes it as “the best book I’ve read on the topic.” And Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers states it is an “absolute must-have for all Catholics who want to be well informed about racism and Critical Race Theory.”
CWR: “Like Marxism,” you write, “CRT is a grave perversion of the good cause it claims to represent, and it is utterly incompatible with Catholic social teaching.” First, does CRT—historically, politically, philosophically—have a relationship with Marxism? Secondly, what is the crux of the incompatibility you mention?
Feser: Individual Marxists like Antonio Gramsci had a direct influence on the movement. Gramsci famously held that oppressive bourgeois power maintains itself by way of “hegemony” over the cultural assumptions and institutions of society. CRT posits the same sort of thing, except that it puts “white supremacy” in the driver’s seat instead of bourgeois economic power. Gramsci also advocated countering this hegemony by working to get an alternative, revolutionary Marxist worldview to permeate the institutions of society. CRT has adapted this into its own playbook, and the prevalence of CRT ideas in the universities, schools, government agencies, corporate human resources departments, and popular entertainment is the result.
In a more general way, CRT has been influenced by Marxism by way of the central Marxist theme that social life and history are at bottom about the struggle between inherently hostile classes. For the Marxist, these classes are to be understood in economic terms, with the struggle between them being the conflict between oppressive capitalists and exploited workers. CRT alters this by interpreting social life and history instead in racial rather than economic terms, as a war between the oppressive forces of “white supremacy” and oppressed “people of color.”
In this respect, CRT is disturbingly similar to German National Socialism, which also replaced the Marxist’s obsession with class with an obsession with race. The players are different insofar as for the Nazis the alleged oppressors were Jews and the allegedly oppressed group was the German nation. But the basic worldview is in other respects alarmingly similar. For CRT writers, as for the Nazis, absolutely everything is about race, no one can escape the perspective of his or her race, and races are inherently at odds….
The above comes from a Sept. 8 interview in Catholic World Report.