Departing from the spasmodic passion of political blogging (lest we despair over the blatant run-up toward unnecessary war with IRAN) let us now return to the serialized essay on modernism.
My detailed arguments about this administration's ideological and other motives can be found on two essay-sites:
NeoConservatism, Islam and Ideology: The Real Culture War
War in the 21st Century: Maturity vs. Neocon Panic and the True Role of Pax Americana
Modernism Part 11: Under Assault from All Sides
Last time, in Part 10: How Liberalism has betrayed Modernity I talked about the slow but steady alienation that has grown between two former allies, the liberal left and progressive modernism. This chasm is not as total and devastating (yet) as the one on the other side.
The Democratic Party is still marginally led by modernist pragmatists. But the selection of Howard Dean as party chairman shows which way the wind is blowing. Soon, not a single national political institution will remain un-radicalized by one form or another of romanticism.
Of course we have seen extreme examples on the left, who at times make Jerry Falwell sound like a believer in tolerance and science! The latest poster boy for the "Romantic Che" complex is Ward Churchil, who compared denizens of the Twin Towers to Eichmann. The neocons love guys like this because they serve as wonderful strawmen-bogeymen, helping to consolidate their hypnotic hold over decent, conservative Americans who might otherwise notice their leaders' monstrous habits.
In my last posting, I spoke of how the growing romanticism of the left began banishing former allies - space, nuclear power, engineers, the military, the churches.
And then... "Liberalism began reflexively assuming that everything white, rural or suburban, bourgeois, American, or socially demure was automatically suspect, until people with those traits began responding with hostility of their own. The very word “liberal” became a weapon in the hands of its enemies. And when this happened, the movement’s elites only made things worse by diagnosing that the common citizens had been brainwashed by propaganda. Contempt for the masses, invigorating and satisfying, thereupon displayed its deadly side-effect -- political suicide."
Meanwhile, scientists were being driven off by conservatism. For that movement, too, had been taken over by dogmatists. By a triple alliance of groups who actively hate science and all that it represents.
--By a clique of aristocratic kleptocrats who do not believe in economics.
--By apocalyptic sects that reject geology and biology.
--By neoconservative imperialists who repudiate climatology, ecology, chemistry, pharmacology and... ultimately... history.
Why has nobody commented on this? The Left has nothing but contempt for engineers, spurning can-do projects in favor of a single party line prescription for saving the world. Puritanical conservation. We must quickly abandon our cars and shiver in the dark. (Political suicide, but boy does it feel virtuous.)
Meanwhile, the Right - while willing to pay engineers for near-term guns and toys - will have no truck with ambitious research into technologies that might save a planet through assertive conservation -- vastly improved efficiency standards and sustainable energy supplies.
Neoconservatives smile and shrug at petitions signed by scores of Nobel Prize winners, since egghead boffins obviously cannot possess any common sense. The neocons’ oft-expressed contempt for objective reality -- as opposed to a subjective/ideological model of the world -- mimics that of the postmodernist left with eerie perfection. (Foucault or Leo Strauss? The common theme is a belief that elites can redefine reality however they like, as a matter of magical will.)
(As they have redefined "freedom." And now they are talking themselves into redefining IRAN....)
Oh, there are differences. The Left is certainly sincere in fretting about tomorrow’s dangers. But meanwhile, no one seems to notice how closely their dark forebodings of ecological collapse resemble the apocalyptic visions of right-wingers who confidently expect an imminent end to this world, amid a reckoning foretold in the Book of Revelation.
These gloomy visions are not only eerily similar, they are chillingly compatible.
... next in Part 12... Michael Crichton and Margaret Atwood: fanaticism in fiction illustrates the alliance of romantics against science...
Or return to Part 1 of this series: The Radical Notion of Modernism: Is it relevant for the Twenty-first Century?