Tuesday, August 02, 2022


It might not last. I sense that a lot of the enthusiasts of the New Consciousness are like the Red Guards of China's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. They will be swept along by their zeal and enthusiasm for quite a while, wreaking considerable damage during that time. They will impose the characteristics not of real but of ideological multiculturalism: they will replace the truly inspiring notion of greatness with the tepid concept of representativeness. They will push people to adopt, not a personal philosophy, but ethnicity, race, or sex as the principle of personal identity. They will exalt racial and sexual rage over reason. They will cover us over with a thick glue of piousness, which, in turn, will smother argument. They will undermine the quest for objective truth with a riot of subjectivities. They will turn almost anything they do not like into one of the new cardinal sins - racism, sexism, sexual harassment, homophobia - and they will try to punish those who commit those sins. They will confuse knowledge and an appreciation of other cultures with cultural chauvinism, the superpatriotism of the small group. They will turn reading into an exercise in ethnic boosterism and the cultivation of "self-esteem," forgetting Kafka's admonition that a book should be "the axe that breaks the frozen sea inside us." And then their immoderation and mindlessness and the fact that they do not fulfill basic needs will get the better of them. The pendulum will swing eventually in the other direction.

- Richard Bernstein, Dictatorship of Virtue: How the Battle Over Multiculturalism Is Reshaping Our Schools, Our Country, Our Lives (1994)

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