The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, September 20, 2019


Roger Kimball make what amounts to rather a obvious comparison between the upheaval of the 1960s (for those of us old enough to remember those years) and the even more extreme actions now occurring as part of the Trump era. At the center of the upheaval within both eras is the Left, provoking change that is occasionally good, but far more often bad. Kimball offers useful insight when he writes:
... many of our most prominent cultural figures seem to believe that they occupy a unique perch at the very apogee of virtue and moral rectitude and are therefore entitled, O how entitled, to discard the achievements and admonitions of the past as so many false starts and dead ends on the way to true enlightenment, which is to say to whatever they happen to believe at the moment.

It is important to remember how general was the assault on our civilization in the Sixties. It wasn’t just protests against the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, the new hedonism. What was aimed at was nothing less than what Nietzsche called the transvaluation of all values. Among other things, it represented a categorical repudiation of the American consensus, not just its engines of prosperity and individual liberty but also the basic tenets of our self-understanding, tenets that went back through English liberalism and the Scottish Enlightenment to the political meditations of the Greeks and the Romans.

We see something similar today in a different modality. In some ways, indeed, the assault on the fundamental values of our civilization is more thoroughgoing today than it was in the 1960s. This is partly because those conducting the assault are not launching their fusillades from outside the establishment but are themselves well integrated into and often highly-placed members of the establishment. They are, in a word, the Elite. It is also partly because the assault is no longer undertaken in the name of freedom and truth, however spurious, but, strange though it sounds, against both.

George Orwell was right when he observed that the first indispensable step towards freedom is the willingness to call things by their real names. We — which is to say, our masters in the media and cultural establishment — have lost that fortitude. The triumph of political correctness has encouraged an epidemic allergy to candor. The hope is that the embrace of euphemism will alter not only our language but also the reality that our language names.
It's a cliche to note that not only the gray-headed elites who grew up in the 60s, but many of their children, now are in leadership positions in business, media, entertainment, academia, and the deep state have to a great extent adopted the ideology of the Left. That means that those who follow them, younger millennials, are being mentored to act, think, and respond in ways that parrot that same ideology, and as a consequence, will set the stage for a massive change in governance.

That's a probable future reality, but here's the problem. This is the era of the euphemism—changing the name of something is believed to change the reality of that thing. It's nonsense, of course, it's authoritarian by design, and its intent is to warp reality to fit a particular worldview.

But why? The reason, I think, is that the worldview promoted so vigorously by modern elites will fail in its effort to achieve its utopian promise. Deep down, I suspect that at least some of the elites know this, but their thirst for power is so strong that they suppress it. As a consequence, when faced with the failure of their ideas and the unrest that will likely result, the elites must be able to control the language, the medium, the history, and the actions of those among them who might begin to ask questions. Those questions will be deemed "racist," or "misogynist," or "classist" or any of a growing number of epithets that describe thought crimes.

Orwell was right—freedom is the ability to call things by their real names, to use appropriate adjectives to describe people who have done despicable things, to jettison magical thinking and rely on reality (even if that reality collides with political correctness). That won't happen under the governance of the modern elites. As massive change in governance occurs, freedom will be lost.