I have been mulling politics instead of wine this season. Maybe not the most propitious sign. Liberals lament the strength of Donald Trump and his reality TV style hyperbole, WWE scripted drama and camera mugging helmet head of orange hair. Rightists have split into a sputum of angry white men, uncle Toms of opportunity, oligarchical conspirators, increasingly incoherent and sissified bible verse pickers and peculiar Texans. The left, having accomplished most of its social engineering, has withered on the vine that has been watered by the same moneyed puppet masters. Out of this has sprung a social iconoclast from Vermont, Bernie Sanders; the left’s answer to Ron Paul.
As the culture embraced more vitriolic rightist views, the academy became the monasteries of pompous leftist sentiment, their journals mere echos of false fields of verbiage and style as devoid of substance as the fuming commentators on Fox. Now the internet enabled membranes that divided the culture into camps are failing and the hypocrisy of academic double speak about diversity, freedom of speech and “safe zones” are colliding with an increasingly dubious external world concerned about the value and costs of the whole academic enterprise.
This has been a great year for race. The prevalence of rogue police and abusive tactics has been exploded by cell phone videos and body cams. The shame of the blue wall of silence is now clear. Despite the many police who are professional and fair in their duties, it is now clear that many of these must also have some quiet complicity in the abuse of black Americans. This indicts our whole society to the extent that we have heard complaints of this for many years and found ways to dismiss them or, just as bad, given them a smug acceptance and used it as vehicle for a superiority combined with inactive detachment. Obama has filled out his second term with dignity and professionalism that has eluded the office for many years and helped turn young people against the subtly indoctrinated racial contempt of their parents.
Additionally we have an ever more naked academy in its indoctrination of blacks, minorities and other groups into the culture of victimization and newspeak with its tired old vehicles of protest and simplified slander of those who don’t merely fit into their class of approved oppressors but simply doubt the substance and integrity of the their claims and character. Probably the most valuable thing to come out of Fox, shock infotainment and fictonews is that the old social barriers of language and unspoken standards are broken. Language control in the form of manufactured slurs such as “racist”, “homophobe”, “anti-semite” and so on, have now been wielded against their leftist promoters and are losing power over the population.
The sad shocker to the would-be Vidals of the left is that they have never carefully analyzed the motivations of their selected social villains. As closeted or overt atheists, reason was their supposed moral foundation. Having this revealed to be just a wordy veil of superiority is the most devastating discredit they can be handed. Without this, what has been their legacy in the academy and their valued influence on the minds of students and, most importantly, what is the justification for their hefty subsidy by the taxpayers? As the cost of education grows due to the exploding ranks of university administration, filled by the same smug slanderers, this is a threat not just to their world view but their financial security as well. The circle now completes itself with the aging social warriors and their anointed progeny now shown guilty of the same shallow impulses as the ones they maligned. Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Because of this, there is little hope that the leaders of these movements will budge in their views and opinions but there is reason for optimism.
It is now possibly the best time in our history (or maybe all history) to begin a meaningful discussion of the nature of racism, sexism, and all the other afflicting isms of society. Social change has gone far and there has been no settling of things to a new equilibrium beyond a battle and scandal weariness on all sides. Up to now, the discussions of these isms has been in terms of “privilege”, “oppression” and variations on white hats and black hats. Anecdotes and superficial statistics complied by zealots has been the fodder for much “research” on these topics. What is rarely discussed is the universal psychology that drives these dynamics. Why do we need to find some class to belong to that is in some way opposed to others? How does one distinguish when slights or unfavorable treatment is unfair or, when it is unfair, being dispensed on us because of our membership in some group? How do we keep opportunists from inflaming and manipulating us by such opinions to drive us into some such class that they then profit from and control?
It is my opinion that everyone in America needs a serious study of psychology and that is democracy’s best hope of breaking the cycles of authoritarian puppeteers of both the left and right. The last century of research puts us in a position to begin a journey of self understanding and empathy only attained by rare spirituals in the past. It is our own need to be followers, joiners, fighters and profiteers that has fueled the ugly machine we are all accountable for. Beginning a lifetime of self criticism to inform our tendency to rapidly condemn is the greatest step any of us can take to improve things. It is not that the ills we see in others are so mistaken but that the ones they see in us are so invisible to ourselves that is our undoing. Sadly, looking inwards is one of the hardest, thankless and most neverending tasks. It is also only ourselves that we have the most power to change.