12 November 2009

CULTURAL TRIBALISM UNLEASHED













The brotherhood of men without the Fatherhood of God would make men a race of bastards.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Life of Christ










I. There is a recently issued brief in The Spectator (UK) where the author, Melanie Phillips, discusses the Mohammedaninspired murderer of 13 military personnel at Fort Hood, namely Nidal Hasan. She writes: "It turns out that fellow students of the army psychiatrist... had complained to the faculty about his antiAmerican propaganda but were too afraid to file a formal complaint for fear of being accused of prejudice". Further: "no one filed a formal, written complaint about Hasan's comments out of fear of appearing discriminatory". Her conclusion: "It seems that multiculturalism kills"... The Spectator brief was a cue.

II. In the late 1990s during the pre9/11 era I wrote an review of a fairly good book entitled: The Menace of Multiculturalism: Trojan Horse in America, by Alvin J. Schmidt (Praeger Publishers, 1997, 211 pp.). The multiculuralist worldview, with the false claim of a social panacea to which its proponents believe it fosters, is now more than ever exposed to be a pernicious ideology that foments only civilizational breakdown of a once superiorly singular Western civilization, that is; not "culture", which is a term that generically appertains to any society, malevolent or benign. Given this, TH2 figured it would be warranted to post the aforementioned book review (follows next).

III. Most conservative commentators in North America have now come to acknowledge that the agenda of the radical Left has permeated into the very foundation of the infrastructure of Western culture. Deconstructionism, situational ethics, nature worship, paganism, nihilism, historical revisionism, biological determinism, the politicization of all aspects of personal and public life such worldviews and others have formed into an ideational superstorm that rages against the bastions of civility and common sense. Family and social life, government and business, the judiciary, universities and the entertainment industry, the media and art all have been poisoned. Although the origin of this crisis can be traced back much further in time, it can more immediately be fingerprinted to have burgeoned during the 1960s Antinomian Revolution.

IV. In the thirty or so years since, the response to this crisis has effectively been silence. Politicians, companies large and small, the churches, administrators and educators have increasingly submitted without protest to the demands of a leftliberal elite. The new elite are not liberal in the sense of classical liberalism, where freedom was kept in check by assuming truths. Rather, modern liberalism proclaims total relativism in matters moral and epistemological, often euphemized with the word pluralism. Now that the young radicals of the Sixties have surpassed middle age, they effortlessly disseminate these relativisms as they wield positions of immense power and influence.

V. It is this crisis in culture that the American sociologist Alvin J. Schmidt addresses in his book. Schmidt, a former Canadian of German extraction, provides a dauntless assault on what he believes to be the chief cause of the decay in American society, viz. multiculturalism. It "is a leftist political ideology that sees all cultures, their mores and institutions, as essentially equal. No culture is considered superior or inferior to any other". Except Western JudaeoChristian culture, that is. The celebration of nonWestern cultures, says Schmidt, is really a disguised attempt to supplant the Western value system. In all aspects of American society, multiculturalists are imposing an ideology which discourages the recognition and judgement of people based on qualification and ability. Rather, race, gender and ethnicity determines one’s worth in society.

VI. Schmidt contends, quite convincingly, that multiculturalism is rooted in neoMarxist ideology, whose purpose is to instill antiAmerican sentiment into the population. Other cultural commentators have made this observation, noticing that the Marxist rhetoric of a violent "class struggle" has been transposed to areas other than class. The struggle is now more politic, it unhurriedly works within institutions, it influences policy making, and is perpetuated by focussing on racial and gender differences. It is my personal theory that this process of quiet interpenetration has a striking similarity to the notion of "passive revolution", as advocated by the Sardinian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (18911937). Gramsci said that social change would come not by direct revolutionary confrontation, but by the gradual influx of insurrectionist principles into an already operating cultural matrix. Thus Schmidt’s use of the term "Trojan horse" is an apt analogy.

VII. Schmidt states that antagonisms between variegated communities are heightened by multiculturalism’s emphasis on "diversity". The politicizing of differences between various cultural groups does not promote intranational harmony. Rather, it partitions cultures into uncompromising units of selfassertion. Physical endowments, state in life, or feelings about the world are the factors that empower the citizen. Properly so goes the argument of those naive, multiculturalism should encourage unity in a pluralistic society by highlighting similarities between various cultures, promoting common ground for a productive public discourse that acknowledges the limits and benefits of each; and likenesses should be made preponderant (in actuality, however, differences between groups are exacerbated). But oil and water do not mix. Theocratic Islamism and democracy, for example, are mutually exclusive units. The divisiveness associated with "group identity", states Schmidt, merely fosters cultural tribalism. The days of the American melting pot have ended. America has travelled, he writes, "from Melting Pot to Boiling Pot". If the situation does not turn around, Schmidt forecasts that the ruinous effects of multiculturalism will pilot the U.S. to a condition of chaos and brutality comparable to that of the former Yugoslavia.

VIII. Schmidt speaks of the euphemistic absurdities of "politically correct" vernacular. He underscores their consistent vilification of the Christian belief system. He identifies their omission of Western cultural achievements from educational curriculums. He demythologizes multiculturalism’s onesided portrayal of aboriginal peoples (which is silent about, for example, their slavery, destruction of the environment, cannibalism, human sacrifice). He denounces Afrocentric revisionist history. He unabashedly comments on the vulgarities and health consequences associated with polymorphic sexual activity. Many other insights are provided which prove devastating to those enamoured by half truths and politicized descriptions of the contemporary cultural condition.

IX. As a former Canadian, Schmidt has especial concern for the Quebec sovereignty problem. His view is one of sheer pessimism. He sees the dilemma as starting from the very beginning when in 1763 the British issued the Royal Proclamation Act, permitting the French language to have equal status with English. The federal government’s policy of bilingualism is, states Schmidt, "a basket case". After the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, Canada’s "bilingualism problems with Quebec were exacerbated when it adopted a promulticulturalist posture in 1971". More recently, the "distinct society" status conferred upon Quebec is "unrealistic". No solution can be found since "inevitably Quebec will secede". Schmidt’s bases his prediction upon the assumption that the survivance and unity of a country are dependent upon a single language. He also sees Quebec separation as primarily beneficial for Canada. However, Schmidt fails to mention or does not know of the multilingual Swiss federation, formed many centuries ago, as a case which challenges his own stance. His unilinguistic stance is valid, but it only goes so far. I would argue deeper and say that morality (as intimately connected with religion) sustains a country. As falls morality, so falls society. It is the lesson of history.

X. Another concern is Schmidt’s contention that English is the best of all languages in Western civilization. He opines this on the fact that the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus, and the American Declaration of Independence, amongst others, are composed in English. He acknowledges the dangers of linguistic determinism, yet his justifications otherwise still do not preclude the assumption that language alone (English in his case) determines whether a society will be freer and more democratic. This, I believe, is a dubious argument. I do not understand why Schmidt fails to recognize the monumental importance of Latin and its fostering by the Catholic Church, be it reflected in, say, the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas or, going back to ancient Rome, in Cicero’s Orations. For that matter, until 1918 all international treatises were first written in Latin.

XI. Schmidt’s book is more of a compilation of facts and figures rather than systematic philosophical analysis of the culture wars. He does not delve into the origins of America’s cultural crisis, though he is acutely aware of the signs of the times. Nevertheless, his work acts as an excellent supplement to such works as Robert H. Bork’s Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline, which is a more thorough examination of the American cultural crisis, even with relevance beyond America’s borders.

Share/Bookmark

10 comments:

Anita Moore said...

I would argue deeper and say that morality (as intimately connected with religion) sustains a country. As falls morality, so falls society. It is the lesson of history.

Said John Adams in 1776:

Statesmen, my dear Sir, may plan and speculate for Liberty, but it is Religion and Morality alone, which can establish the Principles upon which Freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free Constitution is pure Virtue, and if this cannot be inspired into our People in a greater Measure than they have it now, They may change their Rulers and the forms of Government, but they will not obtain a lasting Liberty. They will only exchange Tyrants and Tyrannies.

A semi-tangent re the pre-eminence of English: I am mostly a chauvinist when it comes to English. I think it is superior in many respects, not least because it is my mother tongue; and I could wish (if it were of any avail) that everybody in the whole world spoke it. But when it comes to the Church and the liturgy, I favor Latin. Toward the end of his life, Bl. John XXIII, seeing the direction the Church was headed in respect of Latin, produced an apostolic constitution in which he clearly and concisely explained why Latin is and should be the language of the Church. Among other things, Latin, as a "dead" language, arouses no nationalistic pride and is ideal as a vessel for unchanging truth. (Plus, Gregorian chant just doesn't work in English. The English translation of the Te Deum cast into chant is just...glunky.)

A full-fledged tangent: a world that can take seriously a guy with a hairdo as stupid as Chairman Mao's is a very sorry world indeed.

TH2 said...

Anita: I am always impressed by your knowledgeable, well-considered and detailed responses - here and on other blogs. Thank you for taking the time.

Adams: Your quotation is one of the reasons why TH2 loves the American people.

"Semi-tangent": It is interesting that you brought up the English v. Latin issue. When writing the review, it was one point which TH2 figured would be challenged. Point taken. It would seem that commercial aviation agrees with you as English is their universal. Also, you make the distinction - clearer than TH2 did - between English spoken as such and the use of Latin by the Church with your discerning point that it "arouses no nationalistic pride and is ideal as a vessel for unchanging truth". Re: English specifically - my concern is with the unforeseen consequences of linguistic determinism. For example (and I'm not equating this with English), the German/Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger, mostly reflected in his book "Being and Time", extolled that German was the most superior of all languages in that it was most apt at understanding "being as being". You know... that Pagan-Nordic-Berserker belief about "rootedness" in the "soil", in the "blood", and all the rest of it.

"Full-fledged tangent": You're hilarious. Stop making TH2 laugh. He has to go to sleep soon.

Anita Moore said...

Thank you for your kind response.

[...]the German/Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger, mostly reflected in his book "Being and Time", extolled that German was the most superior of all languages in that it was most apt at understanding "being as being". You know... that Pagan-Nordic-Berserker belief about "rootedness" in the "soil", in the "blood", and all the rest of it.

You know, I studied German in college, and it was my favorite foreign language for reasons that must be set down as purely romantic. But the fact that you have to plow all the way through to the end of a sentence to find the verb totally neutralizes Heidegger's notions of superiority.

Mark Twain's essay "The Awful German Language" is, as TH2 might say, spot-on.

TH2 said...

TH2 has nothing against the German language. In fact - even though I do not understand/speak it - I like its phonetic particularities, so to speak... or should I say, so to listen. When spoken, people I know claim it sounds "harsh". But these claims have come from persons of with heritages in the Romantic languages.

I recall a professor telling us once how the word piety is written/spoken and translated in/from German (please correct if spelling is off):

" Blutphflictverbundenheit "

Now that's a doozy, where:

blut = blood
phflict = duty
verbunden = tied together
heit = ness

It is interesting that this is a word that Luther used and - this is highly suggestive on my part (but I cannot help but say it) - its translation has a Nazi twang to it. And is it not more interesting that most of the influential secular philosophies / worldviews after Luther came from Germany.

I will look for Twain's essay and read it.

TH2 said...

Just to clarify, TH2 was not advocating a linguistic determinism with the piety-German translation. He just finds it interesting. As the saying goes: "correlation does not equal causation".

Anita Moore said...

Re the Luther angle: I don't think it's a coincidence that Blutpflictverbundenheit rings today of Nazism. I will go so far as to say that totalitarianism, as it blossomed in the 20th century, is a direct product of Luther's revolt. Luther himself advocated the primacy of the state, and encouraged princes to assert their "independence" from the Church. It's no wonder the Reformation gained such ground.

TH2 said...

Absolutely agreed. TH2 explores this whole matter in the "Voyage to Planet..." essay, Pt. 10, especially starting at para. XCIII. "J’ACCUSE".

Gotta run. Later on I will visit your blog and comment on your recent post. Had brief scan - looks like another V-Girl classic.

Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Oh yeah, multiculturalism works. Don't believe me? Just ask the residents of -

1. The former Soviet Union.
2. The former Czechoslovakia.
3. The former Austro-Hungarian Empire.
4. The former Ottoman Empire.
5. The former Roman Empire.
6. The former French Department of Algeria.
7. The former British colony formerly known as Greater India.
8. The former Yugoslavia.
9. The soon to be former Dominion of Canada.

TH2 said...

Caves - did you have to remind me of no. 9 ? TH2 was having a good day - and then you arrived ;)

Al said...

Growing up in an Italian neighborhood with plenty of Mexicans as well i saw how well the melting pot worked. We had our Italiano traditions, yet we were also good Americans. (Ditto for the Mexicans). We gave the best & made it part of the American whole while at the same time taking all the good from America as well. I am very proud of my Italiano heritage, but I am an American 1st.

I also hate the way terms like Italian-American have been hijacked to make a political statement. Growing up the phrase had no political implications, it was just a statement of your family history.

the root problem of the hijacking on diversity & multiculturalism goes back to the relativistic view that all cultures, religions etc are equally good &/or true. & we all remember what Papa Benedetto said about the dangers of relativism right before he was elected Pope. (Another reason the left hates him.)

I could go on & on, but I won't. I will just say that there won' be true unity or true diversity unless we turn back to God & our Judeo-Christian roots that say there are absolute truths. (I hope I am making myself clear because I am trying to do a Reader's Digest version of what could be a book about what is wrong with the relativistic multicultural diversity BS being promoted these days.)

Post a Comment