You are One of a Collective — a Bad Idea

From: L. Michael Hall
2021 Neurons #49
August 6, 2021
How Self-Actualization
Can Save Politics #7


Critical Theory and its derivative, Critical Race Theory (CRT), does not see you as an individual person. No. Instead you are viewed as a member of a collective. You are defined in terms of your Race, your Economic Status, your Politics, Your Gender, your Religious, etc. Who you really are is a function of your group identity with several identities, and because of that you may be defined in terms of multiple identities— which leads to the idea of intersectionality.

Now once you are a member of a collective, you are seen and related to not as the unique person that you are, but stereotypically through the group that you belong to. So if you are black, then you are expected to be a Democrat. That’s how “black people” think and what they value. If you don’t, then something wrong with you. In this bad idea, your group identity is supposed to be the most critical and dominating factor about you. Yes, I know it sounds like sci-fi, like the Borg Collective on Star Trek who wants to assimilate you.

By this theory, if you belong to the group that historically created problems long ago, you now have “white guilt.” And this is so regardless of how non-prejudiced you actually are. CRT posits that we are to identify and treat people according to their group identity— which ironically is as racist an approach as there is. Next, to make this bad idea even worse, if people in your race did something bad— you share a collective guilt with them. CRT asserts this about “white people.” If you are “white,” you automatically inherit white guilt, white racism, white superiority, etc. Supposedly, it is inherent in you so inescapable that there’s nothing you can do about it. Talk about a determinist ideology.

Now in General Semantics, Alfred Korzybski defined this as the problem of identification. Whenever we identify one thing with another, we make them equal to each other, the “same.” Yet in reality, there is no sameness, so to identify is a form of unsanity. We have made ourselves less sane. Taken to the extreme, it leads to insanity. Language is part of the problem here. It is so easy to say “he is X.” Or, “they are Y.” The other side of the problem is the inability to make important distinctions between things.
∙ All black people are not the same.
∙ All white people are not the same.
∙ All members of X group are not the same.

Identification is the process of lumping a whole group of people into a single category and then treating them all the same. Of course, that’s irrational. They are not all the same. Ultimately this idea is bad because it is so disrespectful of people and so dismissive of individual uniqueness. It leads to misunderstanding each person in his or her own right. And such stereotyping is just another form of prejudice and racism.

Imposing group identity or identities on people is one of CRT’s bad idea. Here’s something else that makes identifying people via a group a bad idea — with group membership personal responsibility vanishes. It gives way to group responsibility or more accurate, group blame. A much better idea comes from NLP, the idea of personal responsibility. How you personally respond arises from your unique personal abilities to think, feel, speak, and act as an individual person. Your response-ability gives you the personal power to think, speak, and act on your own behalf. This empowers you to never be a victim! And this arose, as did NLP, from the Humanist Psychology movement that Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers inspired from the 1940s onward to the 1970s. Here the emphasis is on the dignity and value of each person. You are more than, and different from, your group association. It is your differences that makes you special and unique.