“Stage theory… Is BS?” — pt. 12

a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.


Bateson’s “Stage theory… Is colonial BS” critique hits target

Gathering the pieces

We’ve been looking at the modernist artifacts of stadial theory and how critical race theory [CRT] formed the critique of liberal race theory [LRT] — what we’ve called ‘Boas’s proto-form of antiracism’ — and the next step toward long-hoped-for transformation.

LRT overemphasizes the individual, inter-personal dimensions of racism to the exclusion of the systemic dimensions: racist structures and institutions, i.e., artifacts of White supremacist ideology. Voices like James Baldwin’s, those engaging in Black Studies, and the Black Power movement, finally identified the White hegemony of Boas and Co,’s LRT. Then, CRT stepped into the breach between the civil rights movement and the change that it and LRT sought, but failed, to produce. 

So, let’s begin today with a continuation of our contextualization through this excellent six-minute CRT explainer:



Perhaps a more direct way of describing one problematic aspect of the resistance to ‘critical race theory’ [CRT]: it deems CRT ‘racist’ and

“…. has in some circles become a dog whistle that communicates resistance toward racial justice progress.” —Vox [text story: “What the hysteria over critical race theory is really all about.”]

Politics, DJT/MAGA and the ‘Phelps Effect’

The video above is embedded in a recent WaPo analysis story by Dan Balz. It is entitled, “Racial attitudes shifted over the past decade, leaving the two parties further apart than ever.” Balz cites two revealing studies that add insight to our ongoing inquiry regarding present Life Conditions.

The first, a Pew Research Center study, “Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology, reports: “Perhaps no issue is more divisive than racial injustice in the U.S.

The second is a study designated as the ‘Democracy Fund: Voter Study Group’ and is described in a piece entitled: “Racing Apart: Partisan Shifts on Racial Attitudes Over the Last Decade.” Regarding the growth of support for antiracism, the authors write: “But another factor stands out, particularly in the last four years: Donald Trump himself. His rhetoric helped push Democrats toward more liberal positions on race.”

DJT/MAGA apparently produced something analogous to what I’ve previously called the The Phelps Effect: i.e., the dramatic impact that the express hatred of Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church had on growing the number of LGBTQ+ allies and activists.




Excellent Vox “Today Explained” podcast:


Primary sources

Mark Anderson piqued my interest, and so I’ve borrowed A Rap On Race — a piece that I’ve described as “a magic mirror” of Black and White perspectives, even for us today — from Inter-Library Loan. So, I’m looking back to the source material that Anderson used as conversation partner for the powerful Prologue that he wrote for his book, From Boas to Black Power.

Thanks and props to Dr. Anderson for noticing that mirror and his timely writing about it!

I mentioned on my TheFacebook page that I’d borrowed, and was presently reading, A Rap On Race. An old friend — Thanks, David! — kindly steered me to a YouTube video of an audio (record-album) recording of portions of Margaret Mead’s and James Baldwin’s conversation.

I urge you to read the book. I pass along the link to the recording:



The recording highlights that Mead and Baldwin were constantly talking over each other. I read this as passion.

A ‘magic mirror,’ indeed.

My impression is that Mead is very bright, yet displays misplaced faith in the modernist project. Baldwin’s words are brilliant and disturbing.

Some comments from under the YouTube video:

“…great minds at full force with each other …”

“…it is interesting that Mead talks about her not being responsible for the atrocities committed in this country. Baldwin explains that we are ALL responsible for creating a society where hate is the widespread norm.”

“She still feels inherently, the need to teach James. That’s why she never picks up on his subtle and nuanced jabs at her arguments.”

His epilogue was devastating.”

“Progress,” then?

I don’t think there are many voices trying to argue that, universally, no advance in racial justice has been made over the fifty years since A Rap On Race. Still, the events of January 6, 2021, clearly indicate that it’s very fair to say that in some quarters, no advance has occurred whatsoever.

—These days, as an illustration analogous of ultimate polarization, acquiring editorial rights to Escher’s “Day and Night” will prove a wise and oft-used investment.



The problems we have in modernism’s wake are a paradoxical mix of blessings and curses that we find in its artifacts — often within the same artifact. 


Next week: “‘Stage theory… Is BS?’ — pt. 13.” Come see.  [this post ~800 words (~3 min. read)]

Your thoughts? 

I never know what I’ve said until I hear the response. What did you hear me say?


New non-stadial graphics:


One thought on ““Stage theory… Is BS?” — pt. 12

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