American culture is broken, and badly. It’s broken to the point where there’s a civil war going on – thankfully, still at the “civil” part, mostly – and that civil war is going to break the national identity and bring chaos into America, first, and spread to the rest of the world, to humanity’s detriment.
The war is not between blue and red, between Democrats and Republicans. Those poor souls arguing back and forth are victims of the war, not combatants.
The war is between reason and irrationality.
The Democrats and Republicans are both largely on the side of irrationality. “Why do they fight, then?,” you ask. It’s because that’s what irrationality dictates, of course. There is no reason, there’s only the pursuit of power; there is no consistency, there’s only perspective guided by the moment.
It’s how the Democrats can howl at a Donald Trump for being a sexist pig, ignoring that they championed Bill Clinton. Why not sacrifice a few of our uglier sisters, after all, if it helps elect Bill Clinton instead of someone from the other team?
It’s how the Republicans can screech at a faithless Joe Biden, ignoring that they held up Donald Trump as the “champion of Christendom” while he proudly claimed that he’d never repented, never asked for forgiveness, because he’d… you know, never done anything to repent of. It’s not an understatement to suggest that Trump should have been the exact opposite of what Republicans should have been supporting.
To be fair, pragmatism sets in: you endure the warts of “your guy,” whether those warts are physical flaws (which are easy to look past but less easy in the television age than it should be), or flaws in presentation (like being a poor speaker, like Nixon or Bush or Biden or, for that matter, Trump), or more serious issues… like philosophy (Obama’s, or Harris’, willful ignorance of the Constitution) and actual moral failings (aaaaand we cycle back to Trump).
You endure those warts because you’d rather your ideas have proponents in power, as opposed to the “other side’s” ideas. If the other side is wrong, and all you have to do is suffer a blow to your conscience to do “right,” well, there you are: you’re an evangelical supporting Trump, for example, or a true and genuine feminist deciding that twelve women being abused by Clinton was an acceptable cost.
The Actual Combatants
The real war, as stated, isn’t between those poor sad sacks using incredibly flawed beings as the avatars for their political parties.
The war is between postmodernism and pretty much any other philosophy.
Postmodernism is a relatively recent branch of philosophy in human history; it started in the late 1800s but really took off in the 1960s… in America. In Europe it underpinned a lot of subversive political approaches, like Marxism.
Some of the questions of postmodernism are actually pretty understandable, even from a rational perspective: Is there a way to understand truly objectively? Is there an axiom or set of axioms that can be derived purely from reason? Can we actually know something that doesn’t rely on prior knowledge?
It’s a little like a problem dictionaries have: can you define a word without using the word itself in the definition? That kind of self-reference is a “tautology,” like saying “a pizza is pizza-shaped,” and if your dictionary uses those, it’s not a good dictionary.
What postmodernism does, then, is ask – seriously – what knowledge we actually know, if we take our ability to observe out of the picture. What knowledge is axiomatic? Is there anything?
Let’s be clear, too: these questions are absolutely worth asking. I have no issue with exploring to the edge of the envelope.
The problem is that these questions are barbed. Asking questions like this is fine as long as you can ask without having to be fully committed: you have to be able to accept negative responses.
And that’s really the problem: postmodernism asked questions about the boundaries of human knowledge, and since humans are the ones asking about removing humans from the questions… the questions end up being unable to be answered by humans.
This is important: given that humans are asking the questions, there is no human knowledge that exists without humans.
Thus, postmodernism manages to destroy the concept of the “knowable,” in an attempt to find the boundaries of knowledge. Just like the opposite of an atom’s existence is its nonexistence, postmodernism destroys the idea of anything being concrete.
Postmodernism’s god is irrationality. It has no other choice. To assert reason is to assert the knowable, and the knowable is exactly what postmodernism destroys in its own definition.
When reason flees, mayhem rules. Dogs lie down with cats. Frogs fall from the sky. I watch “The Bachelor.” Republicans support Donald Trump, a lifelong Democrat, and Democrats support Kamala Harris for the position one heartbeat from the Presidency, when she couldn’t even get her campaign to survive to the first Democratic caucuses… and Biden accuses the Ukraine of corruption.
Remember, Donald Trump got impeached for talking to the Ukraine about corruption. It’s not quite the same circumstance – Trump implied that there was a quid pro quo that benefited his campaign, and I’m not sure Biden’s cognitive facilities would even allow him to think about that even if he wanted to – but it’s still rather ironic.
I’m (hopefully) rather clearly on the side of reason. I don’t care what actual philosophy dominates the lives of others, really, with one exception: I reject postmodernism.
I have no problem with what you, or with what anyone else, believes – as long as it’s something, which is something postmodernism wouldn’t allow.
As soon as you say two and five is seven, you’ve made an assertion incompatible with postmodernism.
My thought is that we could fix American culture relatively easily, but it’d take time, because of the hold that postmodernism already has.
But it can be done.
My plan would be to vet every teacher at every educational level. College, high school, primary, kindergarten, every person given the authority to teach our young people.
The vetting would be a litmus test. You’d first ask about postmodern philosophy and its implications: “how does one know that two and four are six?” and “how do you define ‘green?'”, progressing through the basics until a simple question of whether the teacher agrees with postmodernism or not.
If the questions indicate that the real answer to that final question should be “yes” – after all, they might believe postmodernism lock, stock, and barrel without calling it postmodernism – then we gently remove them from their role and put them somewhere where they can cause no harm.
Perhaps we put all of them together on a farm, where they can learn a useful skill other than wrecking our youth. They can even feed themselves on that farm, which would have the secondary benefit of instructing them rather definitively on the errors of asserting that knowledge doesn’t exist: they’d either learn that it does (and thrive) or die from starvation because all their wishes and hopes and dreams won’t help them grow anything.
Every teacher would be vetted like this, and they should be! After all, their job and function is to impart knowledge to future generations, and if they believe that knowledge does not exist, how can they possibly fulfill their role?
It would take a while to really have an effect; after all, we have had sixty years of postmodernism in America, and the last fifteen years have shown us a cruel philosophy taking root at every societal level. We’d have to endure the momentum we’ve already ceded, and fight it daily.
But if we want to survive as a country, and as a species, we’d better get to it.