Monday, 11 September 2017

Since 1989 the world has been remade by nihilists, intellectual nihilists and ones who kill

Image result for derrida smoking

I was at Cambridge in my second term when Colin McCabe was denied tenure because he was a structuralist.

No one had any idea what a structuralist was, not even people reading English. Certainly not the people who wrote for the papers, who descended on Cambridge in a scramble. I tried to understand it and read a book by Roland Barthes but failed. Then I started work and forgot it.

Today, this very day, I see I have understood almost nothing about the story of my own lifetime. It was French Marxist intellectuals like Derrida who made the Sargasso Sea in which we are becalmed. He taught that categorisation is a form of exclusion, serving the interests of maintaining power, discriminating against excluded groups. Words are oppressive. It is morally necessary that language has to be remade to avoid victimising oppressed groups. Political correctness, a new kind of Stalinism.

Nature abhors a vacuum. In the place of Christianity, which seemed to have been defeated by science, came belief in art and progress.

Art didn’t help us make sense of the universe, but ceased to make much sense of any sort. Since 1950 it is clear that in artistic terms Western civilisation is almost dead.

Progress took a big knock after Auschwitz, but the Cold War was a fight for survival in which we believed in freedom, democracy and a modified form of free market economics.

And after the Cold War ended what did we believe in?

The ideas of French Marxists moved into the vacuum. The non-discrimination secular religion, a sort of godless Catharism, which condemned the actual world as evil. An engaging British lecturer in English literature told me, it’s not that academics particularly believe in feminism and leftism – it’s that these things give then something to write about.

Then, 16 years ago today, September 11 hit a world where not excluding or discriminating against oppressed groups was paramount, a quasi-religious source of transcendence. The result: what was once Christendom has continued to take in many millions of Muslims, ignoring at all costs the possibility that this might have consequentiae.

I suddenly realize that I need urgently to read a history of philosophy from Kant to 2017, plus Aristotle, Plato and the Gospels.

But I knew the only solution when I was a precocious ten year-old. It lies with the conservative philosophers. We need to rediscover and reassert the virtues of hierarchy, inequality, tradition and anomalies, of inclusion and exclusion, rather fast.

1 comment:

  1. Yes - completely agree with that.

    The Great Chain of Being is the vital metaphor we've lost.

    Mark Griffith