9.9.11

THE SHAPE OF THE WORLD TO COME.

A New York Times columnist writes complimentary words about Sarah Palin.
What is seldom said is that human flourishing is a complex and delicate thing, and that we needn’t choose whether government or the market jeopardizes it more, because both can threaten it at the same time.

Ms. Palin may be hinting at a new political alignment that would pit a vigorous localism against a kind of national-global institutionalism.

On one side would be those Americans who believe in the power of vast, well-developed institutions like Goldman Sachs, the Teamsters Union, General Electric, Google and the U.S. Department of Education to make the world better. On the other side would be people who believe that power, whether public or private, becomes corrupt and unresponsive the more remote and more anonymous it becomes; they would press to live in self-contained, self-governing enclaves that bear the burden of their own prosperity.
Put more simply, the old "vital progressive center" (in which "bipartisanship" is the enrichment of the political class, no matter which set of mascot constituents gets a marginally larger share of the current earmarks) is unsustainable.  Legal Insurrection offers one working hypothesis about what is next.
Liberals and conservatives alike have been played for fools by their media and their parties.
Yes, so the talking heads representing the Vital Progressive Center can pretend to disagree, oh so earnestly, before those images of the Capitol Dome that decorate their Sunday sets. One yearns for a Cromwell to say "You have sat there for too long."
But hopefully it is a starting point of the recognition that Palin stands alone among major political figures in the United States seeking a transformation of the country consistent with its founding principles, not against them, principles which used to appeal to liberals.  Palin’s anti-statist anti-crony capitalism message has the power to reach across parties, which is why that message gets buried in Palin Derangement Syndrome.

With Palin, liberals will not get their nanny state, but that nanny state is disappearing by economic necessity anyway.  But they also will not get a crushing corporatist/unionist state serving the interests of the politically well-connected, which is where we are heading rapidly, and there is no offender worse than Barack Obama.
Writing for the National Association of Scholars, former Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy William H. Young suggests the influence of the postmodernists and deconstructionists has become sufficiently pernicious that the unanointed are catching on.
While it is surely a dead end, postmodern thinking has been spread throughout our society by college-educated elites. Anyone’s belief or opinion, however uninformed or ill-formed, has become equally as valid as that of well-informed individuals or knowledgeable experts. Ironically, “many faculty members are finding now that students in their classes believe that they have a ‘right’ to their own opinions, quite independently of questions of truth and falsity, right or wrong,” notes Tom Wood  in Slouching Toward the Theraputic, Part 2 Unfortunately, our youth have learned from Athens only how to be philodoxers. They have become, as Peter Wood has described them, “unmoved by any abiding sense of reality.”

In national politics, sophistry based on opinion, illusion, and subjectivism has replaced rhetoric based on knowledge and reason. An increasingly uneducated public has its illusions and passions fostered by demagogic and dissembling elite sophists. Postmodernism and relativism have debased the veracity of not only reporting by our media, but political speech at the highest levels of government leadership. As Lewis Lapham has observed, “passion as truth” has replaced “truth as passion.”

But the mathematical actualities of economics and finance now confronting our nation’s unrealizable entitlement promises and expectations; the educational and family actualities of a new underclass of unemployable youth, including numerous college graduates; the scientific actualities of theories about anthropogenic climate change; and the divisive social actualities of the diversity ideology are converging to confound the notion of social construction of knowledge and reality. Fallacious illusions lead to failed policies and outcomes in the actual world.
That's more dignified than my response to Roland Barthes twenty years ago (Deny coherent beliefs of any kind? Enjoy the incoherence), and perhaps it will be more widely read and received.  Mr Young goes on to revisit some of the classic Canon Wars themes from the academy.  Perhaps the failure of the academy to contribute much by way of serious though about the failures of the secular institutions will inspire the public to identify who has been calling the shots in the academy, and by what fruits we will know them.

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