Do you ever feel like people like to make the same mistakes over and over again? Consider the unhappy character of Sarah in the 1977 horror classic, Suspiria. While trying to escape the Tanz Dance Akademie, Sarah falls into a razor wire pit, allowing her attacker to slit her throat. It sounds like the behavior of much of our intellectual culture, with many brilliant minds determined to fall into razors over and over again, offering their throats to the worst people in society.
There is a common pattern that people fall into when trying to make sense of the latest outrageous incident. It starts when someone is criticized and then fired for a harmless non-offense – or when a public thinker, business, or NGO pulls out a ridiculous new totem of identity politics. Instead of looking for the concrete, economic and material roots of the conflict, intelligent people like to be distracted by the “bad ideas” exposed and the need to “convince” people to think more clearly. You often hear something like, “Come on, folks, don’t you realize all this madness is only hurting the very goals you’re trying to achieve!”
After about 1000 rounds of this “war of ideas”, it is time for our very rational, totally reasonable and so just-minded Harper’s Friends who signed letters took control. Changing a quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg on women’s rights to make it non-sexist is not really on “erasing the meaning of femininity”. Firing a random chick over an altercation at God’s abandoned Brooklyn dog park is not really about “empowering people, all of you”. For our so-called class of cultural revolutionaries, the cause is not the main thing, the objectives are not the main thing, and for the peddlers of facts and logic behind: the ideas are not the main thing. The point is to get attention, to be recognized and paid.
In his 1943 book, The MachiavelliansJames Burnham made the critical distinction between the “formal” or declared meaning of a set of ideas and their “real” meaning, that linked to tangible facts about the world. As Burnham did not have any Italian horror films from the 1970s to work in his analysis, he had to stick with the Italian writers of the late Middle Ages. By analyzing Dante’s polemical political treatise, Of the monarchy, he distinguished Dante’s formal arguments for “eternal salvation in heaven” and “the development of the full potentialities of all men” from Dante’s real program: a politically united Italy.
In one of the most serious passages ever printed, Burnham states that Dante’s formal arguments “consist of unnecessary metaphysical and logical distinctions, distorted analogies distorting historical references, calls to miracles, and arbitrarily selected authorities. “. This is followed by the sharper statement that “taking the treaty at face value and judging it as a study of politics, it is worthless, totally worthless”. He further states that “we cannot take words at face value nor limit our attention to what they explicitly state; we must adapt them to the specific context of Dante’s time and his own life.
Gathering over coffee to debate whether “the fact that the Incarnation of Christ took place during the temporal reign of Emperor Augustus” should mean anything for political legitimacy could be interesting or stimulating. But in terms of really existing political arrangements, that doesn’t mean anything. The current Italian Prime Minister is in power for various historical reasons, whether or not his position is “repugnant to nature’s intention” and therefore “contrary to the will of God”.
Likewise, many of the ideas put forward under the banner of social justice are divisive, corrosive and doomed to failure. But engaging with them as ideas will not dislodge them from our institutions and stop the horrible behavior of their adherents. The plane of ideas is the court. First you have to attack there, take out a few people on the fringes, and understand how absurd our culture has become. But you can’t stay there, because it’s loaded with trap doors leading to one razor wire pit after another. You have to look up at the motte to see the fortress of class and economic necessity.
By sending so many people to college with the promise of high paying jobs, financial stability and “making a difference”, we are surpassing the economy’s ability to keep that promise. And if there aren’t enough positions in the productive economy, an oversized aspiring class has only a few options. One is proletarianization, which they often dismay with horror, considering themselves “too good” to stock shelves or deliver food. Another takes another route, like trades or other essential eternal jobs – which, again, their own narcissism cannot handle. And the third is the most relevant, being the creation or expansion of jobs that only extract existing value from the economy.
Few examples highlight this more clearly than the proliferation of diversity, equity and inclusion departments on college campuses. Colleges and universities (along with healthcare and several other industries) were already overloaded with unnecessary administrative functions before the 2010s. But the discourse on gender issues and racial justice – itself emerging from academia, like all elite ideas – has created a powerful raison d’être to solidify this trend.
According to research conducted by the Heritage Foundation, “one of the central goals of DCI’s efforts is to create a more positive and welcoming environment for students.” However, looking at the results of these efforts, the researchers found that “student reports of campus climate are not better – and often worse, especially for minority students – at universities with DEI enrollments. most important “. The report rightly concludes that “the employment of dozens of DCI professionals – in the form of Diversity Officers, Vice Deans for Diversity and Directors for Inclusive Excellence – can best be understood as employment programs that subsidize political activism without improving the climate on campus. “
This is why, obviously, terrible ideas have taken root in so many institutions, have so much cultural value and have such terrible social consequences. Entering the world of cushy red tape requires the most ruthless attention to personal branding and a willingness to commodify every facet of your identity. By demonstrating a poverty of principle and a wealth of despair, you are well positioned to enter the ego market. The problem is that this administrative swelling is unsustainable. You only need a limited number of human resource managers, community outreach coordinators, and deputy advocacy directors. In terms of the formal economy, a typical McDonald’s burger is more productive than any “director for inclusive excellence.” Many people know this and their behavior reflects their fear.
This is why the rules and norms of language and identity change so quickly and can exist in total contradiction to each other. Someone recently asked me why professional class women would do well to erase the concept of biological sex, as this concept and its consequences are the basis of feminism and women’s rights which allowed the entry of women. in that class. The reason is that an immutable, fact-based concept places limits on the generation of new categories, new identities, and new causes to advocate. This limits the growth of new protected classes that require even more departments, staff and hiring to meet these needs. In that sense, just presenting yourself as a woman is like trying to sell someone a typewriter with a laptop. The need is already taken care of, so you’ll have to find something else.
It is not a question of striking the administration in general. Any economic system requires a number of people who are good at numbers, paperwork, organization, processes and labor relations. In addition, I think there is a place for people who are good at handling and mediating issues related to people from different backgrounds who meet at school or in the workplace. Most reasonable people had reached consensus on these issues by around 2012. The insanity we have witnessed since then is the result of these concepts being exploited, altered and reused by desperate people ready to debase and destroy everyone around. from them to get their due. .
Desperation is the goal, and it is the calling card of any class of people who realize at some level that they have become obsolete. As Eric Hobsbawm shows us in The era of revolution, today’s use of personal branding and self-commodification is similar to the old feudal aristocracy wielding “birth and status, with ever greater intensity” at the end of the years. 1700. The culture of the time still reflected the gentleman and his domain, reigning over his peasants. But economically, his time was up, especially in Britain and France.
The eventual wreckage of this class can be seen portrayed in Edgar Allan Poe The Fall of House Usher: “An installed apathy, a progressive withering away of the person, and frequent although temporary ailments of a partially cataleptic character. The most notable aspect of the Usher family was that they “never produced a lasting branch; in other words, that the whole family was in the direct line of parentage. As the story unfolds, Roderick Usher ends up burying his sister alive, then dies of terror when she comes out of the grave and attacks her. The narrator of the story then escapes and sees the mansion split in two and sink into the water.
It serves as a metaphor for much of our rotten, bloated and economically obsolete professional class. Unable to reproduce in any meaningful way, he has been left in a position where the only logical action is to conjure up every possible justification for burying his competitors alive, lest the world realize what it really has done. Everything to enjoy their mansion long enough before it also collapses and crumbles.