We are conditioned to be scrutinised by people. Algorithms teaching themselves to second guess us will be an abrupt break with the past. AI has arrived just in time.

This era will soon be harshly graded. Despite a concerted power play among elites at various western universities and news organisations to sabotage institutions and traditions central to social stability, the pushback has been feeble.  

While Critical Race Theory and gender-neutral pronouns have received much media attention, these are secondary battle lines. The role of the traditional family is under fierce attack. School boards, legislators, doctors and teachers, particularly in North America, seek to thwart parents’ rights while they encourage gender transitioning among teenagers and even young children.

Undermining the foundations of modern societies is a preliminary step. The objective is to indulge the cultural pretensions of intellectual elites while purging capitalism.

The wrecking balls and sledgehammers being used include identity politics and framing issues within an oppressor/oppressed context. Thus the traditional family structure, the role of parents, and binary gender identification are labelled oppressive and attacked alongside ‘white privilege’.

Law and order are also targeted as per ‘defund the police’.

SA’s battles are mostly about economics and political power. Measuring economic prospects for a country’s median twenty-year-olds reliably gauges a government’s concern for the next generation. Barely a handful of countries score as badly as SA on this telling metric. We probably have the world’s most entrenched youth unemployment crisis. While it is reasonable to worry that this will be our last legitimate national election, it is unrealistic to think our youth unemployment crisis will have noticeably improved five years from now.  

Never had it so good

Most societies have never had it so good. Survival pressures had always encouraged pragmatic decision making until, in the late 20th century, massive wars and famines were vanquished while various health threats succumbed to scientific advances. Pragmatism’s downgraded status is evidenced by the hollow hyperventilating that frequents today’s political and social dialogues.

Soon however, baby boomers will be among those marvelling as powerful AI programs – offering enhanced objectivity – explore how the national decision-making which shaped their lives was hijacked. The contours of how our collective decision-making has been ideologically hacked are well documented. AI will soon offer detailed mapping.

Validating biases

To survive amid fierce online competition, the news business became less local and more partisan. Journalism now contends with countless online entertainment options and fickle customers by stoking a desire to judge and then feeding that desire while validating biases. Consider how Fox News and MSNBC depict events very differently to cater to their constituencies.

Whereas the internet’s influence dates to the 1990s, the trend of leftist elites gaining dominance over many esteemed Western universities and most news outlets traces back at least twice as far. More recently, primary and secondary schools have begun to similarly indoctrinate students.

Programmers write code to teach computers to teach themselves while classroom teachers condition students to judge while stunting their ability to understand tradeoffs. As the economist Thomas Sowel says, ‘There are no solutions, only tradeoffs.’

We live in a time when the most prominent gatekeepers of our knowledge repositories persuade people to prioritise judging groups of people using oppressor/oppressed constructs. Conversely, earlier generations had to manage tradeoffs to improve their, and their children’s, survival prospects.

Big data

Storage of digital data has surged and AI programs will soon easily reference what was known as of a specific date and then assess the appropriateness of how the challenges and goals were framed alongside the validity of the decisions taken. This will highlight how issues are politically framed by downplaying, if not fully side-stepping, the tradeoffs which needed to be managed.

A solution-focused approach of balancing interests gave way to judging using identity politics and oppressor/oppressed framing. The interests of the more successful were routinely downgraded. This was all quite intentional; it followed a game plan hatched many decades ago.

The heroes of the leftists who dominate so many universities and news organisations are the neo-Marxists and postmodernists who applaud intellectualism while abhorring capitalism. These complementary groups have long sought to capture the commanding heights of knowledge governance, the universities and news organisations. They have made much progress.

The backlash against divisive activism, such as Cultural Marxism and Critical Race Theory, has begun but the battlefields of today’s culture wars are still largely shaped by elite knowledge curators sympathetic toward, if not devoted to, woke-styled agendas. Rather bizarrely, SA manages to straddle laggard and leader roles.


While the demise of the Soviet Union was devastating the remnants of Communism’s credibility, Nelson Mandela personified post-colonial possibilities. Unfortunately, neither the ANC’s numerous communists nor the leftist intellectuals who were gaining dominance at prominent Western universities and newsrooms were willing to sign off on capitalism.

Both groups weaponised the politics of inequality. The ANC does this to distract from its horrendous performance. Western intellectuals are often horrified by the wealth of many far less erudite people who merely create, or efficiently provide, things people want.

ANC elites aspire to rule in perpetuity over a Soviet-styled South Africa. Their dreamy scenarios involve unravelling the economy and constitutional protections.

Undermining traditions

Somewhat similarly, the cultural-Marxists who populate the commanding heights of Western knowledge curation seek to undermine the traditions fundamental to their societies. They recruit fellow intellectuals by ridiculing pop culture and the extreme wealth of corporate chieftains. Yet their seemingly astute call-to-arms, Critical Theory, is not credible.

Marx demonstrated the disruptive potential of exploiting social justice grievances. But his analyses and solutions were misconceived – as was his glaringly erroneous prediction that a class struggle would inevitably provoke workers to revolt against capitalism to install communist governments across the world.

Neo-Marxists abandoned hopes of workers revolting and, instead, chose to become intellectually intoxicated with Critical Theory. As the term suggests, its adherents are keen to judge.

Many of today’s Critical Theory advocates believe that, as language is a highly imprecise social construct, all interpretations are equally valid. This stymies their shifting from criticising to solving.

Maintaining that all interpretations are equally valid should also severely limit their ability to criticise. Their creative, though unworkable, workaround is to identify the inconsistencies in the solution paths favoured by others.


Critical Theory is fabulously flawed, as what they insist are internal inconsistencies are the inherent tradeoffs which solution-focused people seek to balance for the betterment of all. Income inequality is not an inherent inconsistency of capitalism, it is a tradeoff that often accompanies high growth.  

As depicted by their cancel culture, the well-educated leftist elites who are prominent among so many universities and news organisations don’t want to debate solutions or acknowledge tradeoffs. Instead, they want to use Critical Theory to advance a chaos that might then lead to oppressed groups rejecting capitalism.

They seek to disempower those leaders who lead by solving. Due to their success at conditioning societies, we need AI to reveal how we’ve been programmed.

[Image: OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay]

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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For 20 years, Shawn Hagedorn has been regularly writing articles in leading SA publications, focusing primarily on economic development. For over two years, he wrote a biweekly column titled “Myths and Misunderstandings” without ever lacking subject material. Visit shawn-hagedorn.com/, and follow him on Twitter @shawnhagedorn