Posted by: Loran Blood | December 15, 2012

The Culture Wars: No Substutute for Victory

The Culture Wars: No Substitute for Victory

Long ago, General Douglas MacArthur said that “there is no substitute for victory” in military matters.  When the nation goes to war, if and when it goes to war, there are to be no half measures, no timid, unsure, inconsistent tactics, and no sending of mixed signals to the enemy that would create the impression that one’s own nation was uncommitted to or bereft of the will and dedication to see the conflict through to its end.

Also long ago, the Left learned and mastered the art of political war and came to understand something that conservatives, collectively speaking, have yet to learn and the Republican party and establishment, institutionally speaking, appear incapable of grasping: that politics is, indeed, war by other means.  The “culture wars” along its various fronts, are a direct manifestation of their mastery of the tactics, strategies, and weapons of political warfare and the will to use it in pursuit of MacArthur’s ideal state, the state of victory.

The “long march” through the institutions, originally the brainchild of Italian socialist intellectual Antonio Gramsci and made a real and effective strategy for the attainment of cultural and political hegemony (or, more to the point, a counter-hegemony) by the cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School and their progeny, has been essentially over for several decades.  Somehow, in some manner, while “America slept,” the major institutions of society that generate, interpret, and disseminate ideas were colonized and assimilated by the Left.

K-12 education and the teachers colleges; the humanities and social science professorate within academe; the major print and electronic news media; Hollywood and the arts, the Foundations etc. came to be thoroughly dominated by the Left and came to reflect its beliefs, values, and vision.

The present conflict at Rutgers University over a syllabus for a undergraduate political science coarse which, like many such syllabi within modern academia, prescribes not what students will learn but what and how they will think and the core values they will or will not hold, is a direct manifestation of the degree to which the Left has actually come to dominate such institutions and what, given that domination, they believe they can get away with even in this modern “information” age.

The syllabus, for Political Science 201: Research and Analysis, stipulates that students are “to write and speak in a way that does not assume American-ness, maleness, whiteness, heterosexuality, middle-class status, etc. to be the norm.”  As has always been the case, the focus of culture war is, and remains, control of language and the forging of language into a weapon of political struggle.

“Language that is truly inclusive affirms sexuality, racial and ethnic backgrounds, stages of maturity, and degrees of limiting conditions” states the syllabus, and at the center of the professor’s concerns is, of course, “a fundamental issue of social justice.”  The concept of “social justice” is, of course, unintelligible in a free society whose core ideas of legitimate government and a viable social order are grounded in the rule of law, equality under the law, and unalienable individual rights.  “Social” Justice and the rule of law, as the late Balint Vazsonyi once said, “are mutually exclusive. One cannot have it both ways.”

The war for the control of language has raged across the cultural landscape for thirty to forty years now, and the epicenter of those particular battles have been in K-12 and higher ed, those institutions where minds are molded, the boundaries of discourse established, and stubbornly resistant attitudes instilled.  The humanities and social science classroom long ago became a kind of shorthand for ideological indoctrination, reeducation (sans  “education”) the fundamental goal of which is the utter destruction of classical liberalism.

The fundamental problem of “political correctness,” and the problem conservatives face in the arena of ideas in which we find ourselves, is that what we think about ourselves, our relations with others, and about the great and greatest questions of life, including the central questions of ethics (what is the good, the true, the beautiful, and the just?) and politics, depends to a great extent upon the way we use language.  As our language is altered and corrupted to reflect what Thomas Sowell has called “the vision of the anointed” (which is, in a nutshell, the totality of the worldview and psychology of the Left across a number of schools of thought, movements, and causes), we begin, year by year, decade by decade, mind by mind, and from one generation to the next, to confront the Left more upon its own terms than upon those of the conservative/classical liberal/Judeo-Christian terms which are the key to its ultimate containment and defeat.

It’s a cardinal rule of military strategy that it’s far better to engage an enemy upon one’s own terms, and force that enemy to fight under the conditions you choose, than to allow him to engage you on his terms.  Imagine, if you will, that over the last thirty to forty years the West and American in particular has found itself in a battle, the stakes of which are the very legitimacy of its own core civilizational assumptions and values.  Now imagine that, battle by battle, the war progressed either to one’s own benefit, or to the benefit of one’s adversary.  There are skirmishes, ambushes, harassment and intimidation, and sometimes, pitched battles.  The primary weapons in this war are the signs and symbols through which we understand, describe, and negotiate our experience.  The major weapon here is language, and the battle is for the hearts and minds of a people and, most especially, its children and rising generations.  In some cases, the weapons are also imagery, but in every case, even the images must be justified or defended with words.

Now imagine that one’s adversary, in a very subtle manner and over long periods of time (generations, ideally), can create a situation in which, even when one engages the adversary or his supporters in a vigorous defense of truth, core principles, and the weight of evidence, one finds oneself using the very same terms, and unwittingly making some of the very same assumptions as one’s adversary.  One finds oneself, even if quite unconscious of it, fighting against the enemy even while allowing him to control the terms of the debate and limit the degree to which one’s own defense can deviate from boundaries he has set.

Imagine that he can, through carefully inserting the terms he wishes you to use (carrying as they do, implications beyond their normative usage) into a society’s common lexicon through endless repetition in the popular news and entertainment media, books, novels, magazine articles, song lyrics, product advertisements, and public education textbooks, get you to use their terms to describe your positions.  Your parents may have gotten wise to it as it developed, but the next generation knows only the altered meaning of terms, and tends to assume that those terms describe real things, when in fact they may not be descriptive at all, but prescriptive.  The new terms may carry unspoken but assumed ideological or philosophical assumptions that place us in covert agreement with the adversary culture even when we know we are not in agreement at all.  Welcome to reality.

The saturation and pervasive feel of the normal to all of this is fascinating, as well as alarming.  Even distinguished and popular conservative pundits and social critics, from Mark Steyn to Rush Limbaugh (just as two well known examples) frequently, as a matter of course, use terms such as “gay” (instead of homosexual) and “African American” instead of “black” to describe certain classes of people.  I have rarely met first generation immigrants from Africa in my 54 years (although I have known and worked with a number of black people from the Caribbean).  Most of those I have known, had friendships with, worked with, and practiced martial arts with, have family lines in America going back centuries.  And yet, I am to call these indigenous Americans African Americans, as if they were displaced foreign nationals sojourning in a foreign land.

If one understands the concepts promulgated by critical theory (the academic umbrella under which various Frankfurt School doctrines are situated on the modern campus and the theoretical basis upon which most of the “studies” disciplines in contemporary academe are founded) and understands the role “political correctness” (the tactical weapon of linguistic and conceptual warfare most favored by the Left) plays in the ongoing struggle to marginalize and delegitimize ideas that are subversive of leftist ideology, then one understands why I should call an indigenous American with black skin an “African” American, a male homosexual “gay” (not a descriptive term but a psychological reference), a classical liberal a “conservative,” a critic of socialism/communism a “fascist,” and a leftist a “progressive.”

One then understands how one can use the term “social” and “justice” in the same sentence and understand themselves to have made a conceptually coherent statement and not an ideological claim.  As this is being written, the terms “Husband” and “wife” are in process of being stuffed down the progressive memory hole by the Anointed and being replaced with “partner,” and this inconspicuous but key alternation in the language used to describe the central organizing institution of civilization — the family — has now moved from its past haunts of network television sitcoms and pop entertainment magazines into the real world of political power and its very real effects.

The last election was not just what appears to be a mandate by a clear majority of the American people to live at the expense of everybody else (in Frédéric Bastiat’s classic formulation), but the careless opening of a social, cultural, and economic Pandora’s Box marked “the fundamental transformation of America.”

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