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

Saturday, May 01, 2021


Some of the best thoughtful writing/commentary currently available can't be found in propaganda outlets like the NYT or WaPo. It's unavailable at tediously woke sources like The Atlantic or The New Yorker. And it certainly can't be found in Pravda-like, left-wing organs like CNN or MSNBC. Much of it has migrated to substack, where contributors on both the right and the left comment on today's culture and politics in ways that make the aforementioned media sources look like a third graders who look at the world like the uniformed children they are.

In an opinion piece, Paul Kingsnorth (subscription required) writes about the United States (and the West in general) and it's current political leadership, its dominating media, entertainment industry, academics, and even a growing number of its government bureaucrats. Why is it, he asks, that the current narrative tells us that we are "systemically racist," that "privilege" precludes any possibility for others to advance and succeed? Why is it that the woke tell us that we are irreparably broken and need an authoritarian socialist "reset" to continue as a nation? He writes:

Why is this happening and what is going on? Looked at through a wide lens, it is a deeply weird (not to mention WEIRD) phenomena. What sort of country is ashamed of itself? What people wants to be governed by a ruling class that holds it in contempt? What historical precedent is there for a lasting culture whose story-makers are embarrassed by their own ancestors? How can any culture continue into the future if it is teaching its children a deeply disturbing form of racialised self-loathing?

    Defenders of the current moment will usually respond that such accusations are hysterical. What is happening in the West, they say, is a long-overdue ‘reckoning’ with our culture’s past: the empires, the colonies, the imposition of our ways of life on the rest of the world. They’re not wrong about much of that history, however partially they tell the story. We know, or we should, that there were plenty of dark chapters in the Western past. If any culture takes to the high seas with cannons blazing and proceeds to paint half the world red (on the map and often on the ground), then at some point a reckoning will arrive. Actions have consequences. God is not mocked.

    But this is not a good enough explanation for what is now clearly a process of accelerating cultural disintegration. After all, plenty of other parts of the world – pretty much all of them in fact, humans being what they are – have dark pasts too, but you don’t see Russia’s cultural elites collapsing into spirals of performative shame over how Lenin and Stalin brutalised eastern Europe or killed millions of their own people (on the contrary, Uncle Joe is very popular there these days.) Japan’s murderous history in southeast Asia doesn’t seem to have led to a desire to dismantle its historic identity, and China is certainly not about to start apologising for the last four thousand years – count them – that it has been engaging in imperial expansion.

    No, something else is surely going on in the West, and especially in the Anglosphere, which can’t be explained purely by historical karma. Over the last few years, a new and still-coalescing ideology, which has been gathering steam in the post-modern catacombs of America for decades, has burst out onto the streets and into the studios, and is now coursing through the culture, overturning what was until recently uncontroversial or unquestioned. The energy around it is not that of the self-declared love and justice. It tastes of deconstruction, division, intolerance, hatred and rage. 

The ugly "deconstruction, division, intolerance, hatred and rage" is often masked by platitudes about "unity," fairness, and "equity," but just beneath the surface the ugliness remains. I'm not sure where this is going, but it's pretty obvious the destination won't be a good place.