Allan Bloom, author of the Closing of the American Mind,1987, wrote that many of us find our purpose and our intellectual and spiritual connection to the world through the stories and wisdom of the Bible, unlike many people who live with “an open-ended future and the lack of a binding past” and are in “a condition like that of the first men in the state of nature spiritually unclad, unconnected, isolated, with no inherited or unconditional connection with anything or anyone.”
The west is at war. A battle between two cultures that are diametrically opposed to each other. I believe this war is only possible because we stopped teaching the Judeo/Christian ethic that underpins freedom. Niall Ferguson wrote in 2011: “Maybe the ultimate threat to the West comes from our own lack of understanding and faith in our own cultural heritage.”
The West, promoting freedom, free will, free speech, the knowledge that one is the subject of their destiny because one has the right and the obligation to choose his/her path, and this new culture; Cancel Culture, what writer Wesley Yang refers to as “the successor ideology;” is a culture that takes us back to a time of an artificially designed hierarchy which promotes the belief that one is the object of one’s fate, hampered, held back, by race, colour, creed religion or sexual orientation. A culture that promotes standing on the shoulders of giants, not to rise up and reach for the stars, but bury them in the dust and then blame others for their personal failures.
Cancel culture is the Siamese twin of Progressivism: “Given the predilection to progress, the past is viewed as an inferior state of existence with various afflictions that wither away over time.”
Cancel culture has no use for the individual.Instead of uniting behind the social contract, the general will and the COMMON good, cancel culture is intent upon dividing us into competing tribes:divide and conquer. Cancel culture did not insidiously infiltrate ours; rather it hit us head on, without mercy and little resistance.
While western Culture is firmly rooted in the Judeo/Christian ethic, cancel culture is firmly rooted in critical race theory.
Angela Harris explains it in her foreword to Critical Race Theory: An Introduction:
Unlike traditional civil rights discourse, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, critical race theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.
Bari Weiss writes:
“Critical race theory says there is no such thing as neutrality, not even in the law, which is why the very notion of colorblindness—the Kingian dream of judging people not based on the color of their skin but by the content of their character—must itself be deemed racist. Racism is no longer about individual discrimination. It is about systems that allow for disparate outcomes among racial groups. If everyone doesn’t finish the race at the same time, then the course must have been flawed and should be dismantled.
“In fact, any feature of human existence that creates disparity of outcomes must be eradicated: The nuclear family, politeness, even rationality itself can be defined as inherently racist or evidence of white supremacy, as a Smithsonian institution suggested this summer. The KIPP charter schools recently eliminated the phrase “work hard” from its famous motto “Work Hard. Be Nice.” because the idea of working hard “supports the illusion of meritocracy.”
“The most powerful exponent of this worldview is Ibram X. Kendi—who, it should be noted, now holds Elie Wiesel’s old chair at Boston University—believes that “to be antiracist is to see all cultures in their differences as on the same level, as equals.” He writes: “When we see cultural difference we are seeing cultural difference—nothing more, nothing less.” It’s hard to imagine that anyone could believe that cultures that condone honor killings of unchaste young women are “nothing more, nothing less” than culturally different from our own. But whether he believes it or not, it’s obvious that embracing such relativism is a highly effective tool for ascension and seizing power.”
It was Franz Boas, in the early 20th century, who brought us the term cultural relativism, suggesting that all cultures are equal. I wrote about this in my book Back to the Ethic Reclaiming Western Values.
Cancel culture is in the business of “linguistic engineering.” What words are correct and others that must be eviscerated. I wrote about the attack on the N-word many years ago. It is a derogatory word. Like Mick and Jap and Wop and Kike. But it is one word, 6 letters, with a 400 year history. A history of slavery, civil war, Jim Crow and civil rights. Books that tell the story of slavery are attacked and removed from libraries because of that one word. Yet, it is a word that is thrown about in rap music.
We walk on dangerous ground when we attack language.
Wilhelm von Humboldt said, in the eighteenth century,
“Language is, as it were, the external manifestation of the minds of the peoples. Their language is their soul, and their soul is their language.”
In the twentieth century, Roland Barthes wrote;
“Man does not exist prior to language, either as a species or an individual. We never find a state where man is separated from language, which he then creates in order to ‘express’ what is taking place within him: it is language which teaches the definition of man, not the reverse.”
More recently, poet Muriel Rukeyser wrote: “The universe is made of stories, not atoms.”
Cancel our words, cancel our stories and we are bereft. Alasdair MacIntyre wrote:
“Man is in his actions and practice as well as in his fictions essentially a story telling animal. It is through narratives that we begin to learn who we are and how we are called on to behave. Deprive children of stories you leave them unscripted anxious stutterers and their actions is in their words.”
We are colluding in the spread of cancel culture with silence; often out of fear. And that fear could lead to the downfall of our hard fought for way of life. The late, great journalist, George Jonas wrote “Don’t let Western civilization the best and most humane form of civilization developed by mankind to parish by default.”
Western culture was born 3000 years ago in a desert in the Middle East. It is based on the teachings of the Hebrew Bible. It is an ideology that demands of us to honour life because ALL life is sacred. ALL LIFE. That all people are born with equal intrinsic value; a worthy ideal. That we have free will: moral agency that demands of us that we choose; and choose wisely from the ethics it bequeaths to us. It is an ethic, a culture that honours the majority while protecting the individual.
“In every genuine democracy today, majority rule is both endorsed and limited by the supreme law of the constitution, which protects the rights of individuals. Tyranny by minority over the majority is barred, but so is tyranny of the majority against minorities.”
This ethic also broke with the understanding of time which was considered circular, no beginning and no end, living life like a hamster in the wheel, one’s contributions unimportant to the future. The Bible teaches us that time is linear. That means that each of us matters. Our actions matter. We learn from the past to improve the future and bring about an equitable way of life. History, culture is accumulative. Sigmund Freud wrote that culture is:
“the sum of the achievements and institutions which differentiate our lives from those of our animal forbears and served two purposes namely that of protecting humanity against nature and of regulating the relations of humans among themselves.”
In his 1927 edition of The History of Philosophy, Will Durant wrote,
“history can become philosophy only by being not analytic but synthetic: not shredded history, but wedded history, history in which all phases of life in a given period shall be studied in their correlation in their common response to similar conditions …That would be the picture of an age…”
The Judeo/Christian ethic is the ideal to which we should aspire. It is the ethic that urges us to look at the past and be able to say:
“And while America’s founders were guilty of undeniable hypocrisy, their own moral failings did not invalidate their transformational project. The founding documents were not evil to the core but “magnificent,” as Martin Luther King Jr. put it, because they were “a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” In other words: The founders themselves planted the seeds of slavery’s destruction. And our second founding fathers—abolitionists like Frederick Douglass—made it so. America would never be perfect, but we could always strive toward building a more perfect union.”
The fifth book of the Bible, Deuteronomy implores us to:
“Remember the days of old, consider the years of ages past.”
In this war of the worlds, what will it be? Will we go forward considering the years of the past or will we view the past as an inferior state of existence with various afflictions that wither away over time?
From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”