Monday, April 16, 2012

The Closeting Of Western Values


Culture & Politics

What "multiculturalism" boils down to is that you can praise any culture in the world except Western culture — and you cannot blame any culture in the world except Western culture.
Thomas Sowell

One of the oddest sights to behold is a university professor with tenure, working in cushy and well-paid job in the United States, finding huge failure and great fault with Western ideas and ideals from which they themselves benefit greatly. In any other profession this would be considered biting the hand that feeds you. Not so in the Academy, which has taken academic freedom and tenure to ridiculous and baser levels. Academic tenure as we know it today essentially began in the early 20th century. [For a history and discussion on academic tenure see here  here here; there are good arguments on each side, those that want to maintain the system and those that want to abolish it.]

Academic tenure, which was was supposed to secure freedom of speech and conscience, has become much more. It has become, essentially, job security, which few professions outside academia have. It allows professors to roam where they will, which might be good if they were truly interested in academic inquiry and the betterment of humanity. Some are, notably in the hard sciences and medicine, and they stand out for their contributions to humanity.Too many, however, delve into useless theories of the post-modern school, advancing little that is good or meaningful. Many come from the New Left, and were influenced by Herbert Marcuse's Frankfurt School and its radical Marxist theories, which views liberalism as an anathema.

Truly, these anti-Western Leftists really have nothing good to offer humanity, and they probably know it. But they sense they ought to do and say something, if only to increase their academic publications—if not for A-list publications, perhaps for B ones. At times, they make public pronouncements, becoming media darlings, pontificating on some evil that the West has done. Such ensures that they will not only continue their media presence, but become media stars.

What is often lost on such academics is that such pronouncements are often done within the tradition of liberal democracy that allows and accepts freedom of speech. Criticism of a nation's policies is fair game, especially if if you have a viable solution to the problem or problems plaguing it; criticism without a better plan is venting your spleen and nothing more. Too many academics fall under the latter, offering vague inchoate and often incoherent and unproven solutions. Or radical ones. Having a doctorate in a particular field does not make you an expert in all things political; it might not even make you a good expert in your own field.

This shame of Western values that in some cases borders on hatred demands analysis.The West has been blamed for a host of illnesses, from slavery, patriarchy, imperialism, monetary inequality, and racism of all sorts. You could probably add to the list any current social ill and a tenured university professor will make a career of writing about that particular "social ill" that has scarred a subset of humanity. In a climate of righting all wrongs of the past, any special-interest group—the narrower and most anti-Western the better— can call up a grievance and demand redress. If not judicially, at least in the court of public opinion.

This is not to say that social ills are not present in the West—they are—and I have written about these extensively. But I have done so with the purpose of working within the fundamental framework of Western values. Do you actually believe that all social ills stem from Western ideas and ideals? I don't, hence, my purpose is not to undermine or destroy, but build up what I suspect is today a weakened edifice.

In the calculation of the anti-Western writers, many from the New Left, any tradition is better than the Western tradition. All monumental scientific discoveries were done elsewhere, and the scientists not given credit for it. The Great Books canon deserves to be cast aside, since it is steeped in imperialism. History has to be rewritten from the side of the losers, the so-called victims, and thus have the claim to a morally superior position. In the New Academy of the New Left, all victims can rightfully claim the morally superior position, based on the new secular morality of moral equivalence, hurt feelings and fairness.

This belief in victimization is highly popular, for example, in Quebec where I reside; having cast away the Catholic Church in the 1960s and the central place of the Christian religion, its French-speaking majority, among others, became open to any and all new radical ideas, including nationalism and tribalism, where language more than anything becomes the barrier that separates the French from the English. It's also used as a cudgel. Quebec still maintains restrictive language laws with the ostensible aim of protecting its French-speaking majority. Enforced language legislation, although legal, is not moral and defensible, no matter how many laws are made to its establishment. Such measures rob a society of its natural richness and diversity. Quebec, as many economic and social studies have clearly shown in the last 40 years, has been suffering its effects.

This example in my home province of Quebec is a small example of the ill effects of social engineering and the ideas of the universal collective superseding individual rights and liberty—ideas central to Marxism. The anti-Western academics, many of them Marxists or closet Marxists want to destroy the greatest edifice that humanity has built, steeped in the moral and ethical traditions of Judaism and Christianity. But they have hatred and anger in their hearts; and violence and revolution is their aim. What they propose is a secular Utopian vision, where humanity would be better served by a socialist model. Well, this has been attempted before in the Soviet Union and other satellite states, with deadly and disastrous results. But this does not deter such anti-Western types. Their purpose is not to create, but to destroy.

A great part of the problem, and it is evident in their use of language, is a false morality, based on a distortion of the Enlightenment ideas and ideals. In the end, it's not really about fairness, morality or making humanity better. It comes down to an old-fashioned emotion called Hate fueled by its twin, Vengeance, an ugly, brutish sight to behold. It will lead to nothing good. It's high time that Western values are acknowledged as the moral force for good they have always been.

It's time Western ideas and ideals be given the due recognition and respect they deserve. It's time they come out of the dark closet of political correctness. It's time they see the light of day.

2 comments:

  1. Some decades ago, an op-ed that I wrote entitled "Affirmative Action Has Been a Failure," appeared in the Staten Island Advance, the daily newspaper of the borough of Staten Island. Many of my colleagues stopped speaking to me. If I hadn't had tenure, I would have been fired. I appreciate tenure.

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  2. Dear Lao Qiao;

    My piece was not essentially about tenure, but about the absurdity of professors with tenure speaking out unfairly against the Western values that granted them tenure. In your case tenure served its purpose, securing your right to speak freely about controversial public matters without severe consequences. Much speculative research in the Academy results in nothing worthwhile, not even meriting serious debate.

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