You will find a more detailed description of my work as a social critic on my professional website, ManyPeoplesOneNation.com. On that website, I also describe my qualifications, and more detail about my approach and my program.
On this page, I describe what social criticism is, my particular position, and what I do as a social critic.
Our society does not have a good single term for what I do. Words like “criticism” and “critique” have a negative ring for some people. “Critic” implies that I criticize people’s tastes, like a theater critic. “Social critic” implies that I take issue with people’s social habits (‘you’re going out wearing that?!?’) or their social media presence (‘too many memes, not enough selfies!!’). But I do none of those things.
Social criticism is the critique of society itself. It involves looking at where we are as a society, looking at our values, judging our actions, and recommending alternatives. Social criticism is about keeping us honest—and directing us to good.
People have used terms for this role like “public intellectual,” “public philosopher,” or even “pundit.” But I’m going with social critic, as the least pretentious and most action-oriented term.
As a country, we need a new sense of what it means to be an American.
America was not founded as a homeland for a particular race or ethnic group. It is not a ‘nation’ founded upon a particular religion. It was not founded to define some sex, gender, or preference as superior or natural.
America was founded upon core values, clearly set out in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: equality before the law for all people; the rule of law, not some powerful leader; a separation between the power of the state and religious belief.
Beyond that, America was a product of the Enlightenment era. As such, America was meant to embody values like rationality and respect for facts, aiming for the uplift of all.
At the same time, America was always meant to have a heart, as well. Abraham Lincoln, born in the waning years of the Enlightenment, spoke of an attitude that should reflect the heart of America in a stirring phrase from his Second Inaugural Address: “with malice toward none, with charity for all”—‘charity’ here meaning compassion, a quality of which our national life could stand to see a great deal more.
I call for a New Enlightenment, updating the values of the European Enlightenment for the 21st century.
For America was founded to be the land of many peoples, but one nation.
Beyond even this, I have a program for our society—a program that recognizes that humans are basically explorers and builders, and that we prosper as a society when we embrace that sort of direction. For more on my program, see my website at ManyPeoplesOneNation.com.
In addition to writing in this area, I speak at conferences, colleges, and universities about social issues.
Again, those interested in this aspect of my professional life should see my professional website, ManyPeoplesOneNation.com. That website also lists the talks that I am available to give at your organization.
Copyright © 2019 Mark Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D. - All Rights Reserved.