The left denigrates an America that is itself largely a creation of the left, believing (or at least pretending to believe) that this leftist-created America is really "conservative." In reaction to the leftist denigration of America, conservatives celebrate this same America that is largely a creation of the left, also believing this leftist-created America to be "conservative."
If we get sucked into this political dynamic we are lost. We need to keep in mind that those on the left, no matter how much they like to think of themselves as dissenting outsiders, form an influential part of the political establishment.
Nor is it an adequate anti-leftism to react to this "dissent" by supporting every aspect of the modern West - as this means that we endorse much of what the left itself has brought about.
The left denigrates an America that is itself largely a creation of the left, believing (or at least pretending to believe) that this leftist-created America is really "conservative."ReplyDelete
This isn't particularly true. Many leftists would be perfectly capable of distinguishing between the different strains of rightism that exist within the US. In any case, the US is loathed by the left principally on the grounds of its repulsive foreign policy, which is not 'conservative' per se, but rather, imperialist, or something like it.
Not that you'll ever hear conservatives protesting when brown people get bombed by the US...
Thr, Auster is writing as an American about the American left. So his point is that the American left castigates as "conservative" a society which is really a product of their own advanced liberalism.ReplyDelete
You would think that the American left would identify positively with their own country as a society which, under their own influence, has taken a liberal path - but they don't.
They continue to see it as morally illegitimate in a general sense - as not being a "perfect union" - rather than for any particular single issue, such as foreign policy.
Here is an excerpt from Sam Francis' essay "Equality as a Political Weapon", found in the collection "Beautiful Losers":ReplyDelete
...The argument is that "Western", heterosexual, and Caucasian institutions and beliefs are corruptive, repressive, and exploitative encrustations of a hegemonic environment that, when scraped away by egalitarian social (and now psychic) engineering, will yield the same kind of egalitarian utopia the Progressives envisioned. Only the specific targets have changed, and indeed the targets have always changed throughout the history of the Left, as each new utopia turns out to be fake. In the Enlightenment and in much of classical liberalism, the target was the state--the established churches, aristocracies, guilds, and dynasties of the eighteenth century. When liberation from these political "chains" failed to bring about the promised land, the target became the economy--private property, classical economics, and the distribution of wealth--and it was mainly an economic target that the Progressives had in their sights. In the twentieth centruy, the target shifted yet again to social and cultural environment--the family, the school, religion, social class, and race as a social phenomenon. Eventually, we can predict, egalitarians will discover--and indeed are now discovering--that nature itself is the source of inequality...
But it won't make any difference. Whether egalitarians, recongnizing at last that inequality is ultimately rooted in man's nature, accept that lesson, or whether, through genetic engineering and state-funded lobotomies, they launch yet another revolt against inequality and against nature itself will depend less on who and how many really believe in the egalitarian lie than on who stands to gain from wielding the egalitarian sword.
So watch for genetic engineering as the next big thing on the left.
Jaz, you might be interested in an article I wrote on the theme you've just raised: The humanist as mad scientist.ReplyDelete
In 2005 Lawrence Summers got into trouble for suggesting that there might be intrinsic differences between men and women which led to fewer female professors of science.
Time magazine ran an article on the controversy. The Time journalist accepted research showing significant differences in the male and female brain. But he thought there was a positive to this: if differences in the brain led to "inequality" then it was possible to "tweak the biology" and therefore to achieve, once and for all, a cure for gender differences.
This is how Time magazine put it:
"Now that scientists are finally starting to map the brain with some accuracy, the challenge is figuring out what to do with that knowledge. The possibilities for applying it to the classroom, workplace and doctor’s office are tantalizing. “If something is genetic, it means it must be biological. If we can figure out the biology, then we should be able to tweak the biology,” says Richard Haier, a psychology professor who studies intelligence at the University of California at Irvine. Maybe Summers’ failure was not one of sensitivity but one of imagination."
"Eventually, we can predict, egalitarians will discover--and indeed are now discovering--that nature itself is the source of inequality..."ReplyDelete
Quite a lot of left liberals already new this back in the 1920s, and hence supported eugenics movements.
However, in doing so they had to move further to the centre on social and economic matters since no one could really be blamed for drawing the short genetic straw.
Sorry, to make that last paragraph clearer:ReplyDelete
.. in doing so they had to move further to the centre on social and economic matters, as society couldn't really be blamed for problems that resulted from someone being genetically unlucky.
You wouldn't by any chance have the citation for the Sumers (2005) piece and the Time magazine issue - I would like to follow this up at the library.
Kilroy, I might be able to save you that trip to the library. The relevant page of the Time magazine article has been archived here.ReplyDelete
There's some background to the Lawrence Summers affair here.
This is a key observation, the reality is there is NO non-liberal thought out there to speak of. Conservatives are simply a species of liberal (the very term conservative is without meaning unless opposed to liberal). So the "discussion" is really between two groups who share all the same assumptions but only differ on the details.ReplyDelete
Right now most Westerners cannot even think in non-liberal categories so the postmodernist has a lot of work to do to expose the root assumptions of liberalism - itself simply the political manifestation of a larger ideology, or we could say religion i.e. secularism - and introduce new ideas and ways of thinking about reality.
The deconstructionsts do this by dispensing with reality altogether - the nihilistic culmination of modernity; but there's another way in a return to an authentically Christian view of reality that is not compromised by modern categories - Radical Orthodoxy.