If there is one narrative that unites the Western World it is that we do not have a narrative. ‘Educated’ people increasingly did not have knowledge about their own culture. Allan Bloom, “It was not necessarily the best of times in America when Catholic and Protestants were suspicious of and hated one another; but at least they were taking their beliefs seriously…” Today, what do we take seriously? Not the ‘liberal arts,’ certainly not ‘politics’ and not even the sciences. Perhaps we take ‘fairness’ seriously, but as any parent can tell you the Fairness Doctrine is not a whole lot better than the egocentric peaens of an eight-yearold.
If writers like Robert Jenson (“How the World Lost Its Story”) are right, what does that mean for the identity politics of the 21st Century? The purpose of portraying your own identity as a victim presupposes the idea that there is a great oppressor out there who is willing to deny you your voice. But what story is holding the commanding heights? If there is a ‘in’ group, that is self-validated by its narrative, what is that narrative? The answer, it seems, is increasingly incoherent. There is no more universal history and, relatedly, there is nothing to be a victim of. The enemy of the 21st Century, if there is one, is the splintering of our attention. Facebook-Tumblr-Email-Facebook-TV-FACEBOOK! Fighting it is not very exciting. More importantly, reversing the trend would take actual effort.
Effort, as many commentators have noticed, is the last thing we have (after a basic understanding of the English language, a conception of American history, or the ability to put on a condom/solve anything requiring geometry). Women have, as it were, ‘won.’ The 21st Century world is their’s for the taking. Is it no surprise, then, that this wave of feminism’s authors are more concerned with their orgasms and managing Target excursions than fighting the ‘patriarchy’ (a word that reaches fewer and fewer students studying to become middle-managers, which is to say the vast majority of the student body)?
Feminism is the first, but certainly not the last, victim of ‘the Man’ losing his story. How far is Gaydom behind? If I wasn’t poor I would throw down for the answer ‘not far.’
The true issue seems to be that the splintering of the American mind, which is so closely related to its closing, has undercut the production value (as it were) of these various movements. Without a nice, dominant culture that is relatively ambivalent about being the contrast to every right action then where does that leave the cadres of professional activists? Well, it leaves them to build a culture that is not bound up in the increasingly hollow perception of a dominant, normative one.
As we all well know, we are the most elequoent on the subjects of ourselves and what we don’t like. How eleqouent could anyone be on the subject of ‘not-ourself’ and something we like? I doubt the results will be noteworthy.