Critical Race Theory in the field of architecture? Where will it end?

It’s no secret that the Biden administration is imposing the race-based ideology called Critical Race Theory (CRT) on impressionable children (through government schools) and on federal institutions nationwide. Like other race-based theories — which can encompass everything from the eugenics of Francis Galton to the program of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party of the Nazis and its persecution of Jews and other Untermenschen — CRT requires the imposition of politically defined penalties based on politically defined racial designations. What could possibly go wrong — especially when it is applied to the architectural profession?

A Key Fallacy of Critical Theory

The “punishable” classifications of critical theory extend far beyond race and include “intersectional” categories such as biological sex, gender identity, sexual preference, overweight status, and other classifications that multiply like rabbits in a giant field of alfalfa without Mr. McGregor or his cat to thin them out. But one thing CRT theory never examines is the individual himself. The concept of the individual is replaced by group identity. Never mind that conceptual categories, or groups, do not suffer, bleed, undergo cancel culture and censorship, or die a painful death. They don’t even exist in the same way that individual human beings do. Recognizing the important distinction between real individuals and the mere concept of a group is one of the chief accomplishments of medieval thinkers such as the 12th-century nominalist, Roscellinus of Compiegne. He rejected the extreme idealism (extreme realism) of Plato and his Neoplatonist followers, and he accurately characterized the notion of a concept as a mere flatus vocis (puff of air). We now label such extreme conceptualization as the reification fallacy. This fallacy is precisely what lies behind critical theory and all of its variants, including CRT. Once we realize that a group is only a concept, we can properly evaluate the damage inflicted on real individuals by such thinking. So if you hated the injustice of “group punishments” as a child, chances are you’ll also despise the totalitarian practices of CRT.

A Fetid History Opposed to the Western Liberal Tradition

Never mind that the worst crimes against humanity have been perpetrated by governments that enforce the collectivist concepts of race membership, economic crimes, unauthorized success, and other envy-based designations. They have been used against Jews (Nazi Germany), Slavs (by Nazis), marginally successful farmers (kulaks in the Soviet Union), ethnic Chinese (outside China), blacks (in Africa, Europe, and the Americas), and whites (throughout the ancient world, with etymological roots in the word Slav).

In contrast to these dismal episodes in history, the existential reality of the individual and the related concept of individual justice help form the foundation of “negative” human rights — the idea that one must not commit aggression (initiate violence or its threat) against another person. This also is the basis for many protections we currently enjoy by inheriting the Western classical liberal tradition. Ironically, CRT aims a dagger at this legacy of genuine tolerance and the inviolable nature of human beings in the Western tradition. Instead, the slippery faux “tolerance” of the inclusion-diversity crowd is the enactment of Herbert Marcuse’s “repressive tolerance.” As it plays out before our eyes, careers are ended and books banned. People forget the warning of Heinrich Heine as they cheer the elimination of Mark Twain from the curriculum of the poorly performing Grosse Pointe Public School System, rescind award categories for Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Little House on the Prairie, and cease production of a series of books by Dr. Seuss Enterprises: “Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people.”

Throwing Martin Luther King, Jr. under the Bus

Despite the intentionally deceptive claims of CRT advocates, CRT runs in complete opposition to the civil rights tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Instead of being judged by the content of their character — which is something we can improve upon and develop throughout our lives — CRT defines us by our most superficial characteristics, many of which we cannot change. Everything must bend the knee to the crude leveling tortures of the Procrustean critical-theory dungeon masters. Even in what is considered their most “benign” form — the uncovering of implicit/unconscious bias — the products of critical theory have been debunked and proven to be unreliable pseudo-science as explained, by psychology professor Jordan Peterson again and again.

Architectural Firms Attempt to Cash In on Critical Race Theory

I wondered how long it would take for architects to cash in on the latest academic scam, and this week, I found an example. Huckstering CRT consultants are about to contaminate the visual environment by collaborating with building-designers! An outfit called SXSW EDU is hosting a critical theory-based “learning experience” to “confront negative cultural messaging in the built environment.” They add that “Critical Race Theory provides a lens for exploring and dismantling these expressions of socioeconomic power.” And look! An architectural firm called SmithGroup has taken the bait. These people proudly announce their desire to “create more inclusive educational settings.”

What a great way to pump up the bottom line and recover from the Fauci-inspired economic collapse! After all, the absurd COVID cult lockdown panic has all but destroyed the commercial real estate market, normally a great source of income for design firms. Imagine the cash flow as woke architects use their Biden-supplied cash to remake public-school designs and space plans. As if last year’s injections of cash weren’t enough! I can just picture it: daily changes in the spatial configuration of classrooms as they reflect each intersectionality complaint stemming from today’s Oppression Olympics mentality. Each new case of hurt feelings among teens with thin skins and woke unionized teachers will feed the bottom line!

Perhaps the new “inclusive” structures will be able self-dismantle. This would correspond to the down-the-memory-hole censorship of dumbed down schools as they mimic the grievance study pseudo-disciplines that implode on their own contradictions. I can’t wait to see the new visual bathos as it infests my local schools. But how will woke designers possibly compete with the hilarious hoax papers concocted by Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay — the ones that were published as “serious science” a few years ago by leading grievance studies journals? It’s time for all of us to read their great book, Cynical Theories, but don’t buy it from Amazon.


The upshot of all this? It’s time to oppose woke corporations. Why should collectivists have all the fun? Inflict the same ridicule on CRT-based companies that they’ve been dumping on everyone else — from employees to customers. How? By publicly identifying, publicizing, and laughing at woke corporate cowardice wherever it shows its yellow butt cheeks! Let’s stop the spread of racist, authoritarian Critical Race Theory. At best, to quote our friend Roscellinus, CRT concepts are a mere flatus vocis. At worst, they are the building blocks for the next wave of crimes against humanity. Identify, publicize, and ridicule the new corporate racism!

Lawrence M. Ludlow provides international location analyses, marketing, and business writing services. He holds an M.A. in medieval studies from the University of Toronto’s Centre for Medieval Studies and has lectured on manuscripts, early printing, and art history at the Newberry Library in Chicago and the San Diego Public Library.

Image: TheDigitalArtist via Pixabay, Pixabay License.

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