"Many people bitterly resent it when members of the other group hold power," notes former liberal mugged by reality Roger L. Simon:
Members of the knowledge class tend to think that Republican leaders are simple-minded, uncultured morons. Members of the business class tend to think that Democratic leaders are decadent elitists. In other words, along with the policy and cultural differences that divide the groups, there are disagreements on these crucial questions: Which talents should we admire most? Which path to wisdom is right? Which sort of person deserves the highest status?
That's the kind of stuff that really gets people riled up . . . with their overwhelming cultural and financial power, these elite groups do frame the choices the rest of the country must face. If not for the civil war within the educated class, this country would be far less polarized.
We are reminded of Australian Scholar Keith Windschuttle's argument in The Killing of History, where he "tackles head-on the pernicious but widely held ideas that objective truth is an illusion and that history is nothing more than a fancy kind of literature," as Roger Kimball wrote in his Wall Street Journal review in August of 1996, plucked from our snail file this very day:
The focus of his attack is the cult of so-called "theory" -- that poisonous combination of radical skepticism, left-wing politics and deliberate obscurantism that has overtaken the study of the humanities everywhere.
Indeed, he shows that this form of intellectual incontinence now affects many disciplines outside the humanities.
We noticed the phenomenon with horror in the air-headed discourse of some of the faculty members at the Harvard Design School (known in our day as the GSD) during our otherwise luminescent studies there in the late nineties.
Most academic writing these days is deliberately obscure and jargon-laden. A follower of Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, put it quite baldly when he dismissed another critic's work because of his "unproblematic prose and the clarity of his presentation, which are the conceptual tools of conservatism."
An anti-Western bias is a common if not quite universal feature of the attack on objective, empirically verifiable truth that Mr. Windschuttle documents. This breeds the consummate irony that by jettisoning one European perspective -- theory-mad academic radicals merely wind up with another entrenched European perspective: cultural relativism.
It is around such issues that the arcane theories of Derrida, Foucault and other academic radicals collide with the real world. For the cultural relativism that stands behind the attack on history is part and parcel of what Mr. Windschuttle calls "a revival of tribalism in thinking and politics" . . . and it is in this sense that the postmodern academics who busy themselves denying the possibility of objectivity and truth are complicit in political as well as intellectual barbarism.
Written five years before 9/11, how these words resonate in our day.
Note: This post was published late July of 2007. We accessed it years later on September 11 of 2018 to make a grammatical correction but were unable to republish with original date. Frustrated.