Category Archive 'Left Think'
17 Jul 2019

Portlandization: An Especially Annoying Version of Communism

, , ,

Nancy Rommelman notes how, in Portland hipster culture has turned downright totalitarian and urges caution, lest Portalandization come to your own neighborhood.

I have a friend, let’s call her Karen. Karen bootstrapped several Portland businesses, including a coffee shop. She walks in one day and the barista, who is trans, says she had a man come in earlier wearing a MAGA cap and is she obliged to serve people like him? Karen asks, did he say something to you? No, says the barista, but he’s a white supremacist. Karen tells her, first, you don’t know that, and second, you cannot discriminate based on the way someone is dressed. And that, Karen thinks, is that, but no, the barista relays the story to another barista we will call Jen, who goes onto Facebook and posts, “My boss Karen is a Nazi.” Karen learns of this while she is on vacation. She calls her manager and tells her to get Jen into the office. Jen may intuit as much, as when the manager says she needs to speak with her, Jen gets on the floor behind the espresso bar and curls into a fetal position. And you might think, if anyone should maybe not be in customer service, it’s Jen, but no, people prove sympathetic to her and the other barista’s fears and start an online inquisition and can Karen prove she is not a Nazi? And should she not be more concerned with the safety of her employees than some random Republican wanting a cup of coffee?

By 2017, some defenders of diversity and safety were learning how variously those concepts could be construed, could bring the future they wanted a little closer; could be fashioned into tools that got the job done. Sharp tools would be used to cut out those deemed a threat to inclusivity, including two girls who during a road trip in Mexico fell in love with the tortillas made by local cooks. The girls were young, and snoopy, and hung around the cooks until they learned the techniques. Once back in Portland, the girls told the paper Willamette Week, they scraped together enough money to open Kooks Burritos, a food cart they shut for good later that week after receiving multiple death threats due to their not being Mexican and thus, according to the alt-weekly blog post that incited a campaign against them, having no right to make Mexican food.

    Week after week people of color in Portland bear witness to the hijacking of their cultures, and an identifiable pattern of appropriation has been created … After the fury continued online, a different resource emerged and quickly went viral: a Google doc showing exactly how prevalent this epidemic is. The list titled “White-Owned Appropriative Restaurants in Portland” provides a who’s who of culinary white supremacy.

I’d cite more of that post, clipped here from a Willamette Week follow-up, but when you go to the Portland Mercury website, you get the following message:

    Dear readers: Due to new information that has recently come to light, we have taken down our blog post, “This Week in Appropriation: Kook’s [sic] Burritos and Willamette Week.” It was not factually supported, and we regret the original publication of this story.—eds.

Too late to help the Kooks’ girls, but, oh well. As for that restaurant list, that’s been deleted, too, which shows me people are not willing to stand by their weapons of destruction, and also, that Portland is pulling off the pretty slick trick of beaming to the world an image of tolerance and inclusion, while concurrently denying certain of its citizens a place at the table. That’s some scary-strong juju, and maybe one best kept in check lest exclusionary tactics be taken for progress, be enshrined by some centralized authority.

RTWT

30 Jun 2019

The Irony is Exquisite

, , , , , , ,


Washington with slaves picking cotton.

At the height of the New Deal, government contracts for “works of art” by Bohemian radicals to decorate public buldings were passed out like salted peanuts.

One prominent beneficiary of all this public largesse was the very left-wing Russian muralist Victor Arnautoff who got to paint an endless series of “socially conscious” works taking pokes at both American history and the contemporary American scene all over the San Francisco Bay area.

Arnautoff started off as a Tsarist officer and fought for the Whites before fleeing into exile in the United States, but once in the New World, he fell in with the Mexican communist painter Diego Rivera, became Rivera’s assistant, and converted to Communism himself. He was investigated by HUAC in the 1950s in connection with a caricature he drew of Richard Nixon. Arnautoff in retirement returned to Russia to live out the end of his life, happily, under Communism.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s WPA naturally chose Arnautoff to decorate San Francisco’s George Washington High School. Araunoff’s series of Washington murals came out precisely as everything the left-wing heart could desire. Bari Weiss describes it, in the New York Times:

    [His] “Life of Washington,” does not show the clichéd image of our first president kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge. Instead, the 13-panel, 1,600-square-foot mural, which was painted in 1936 in the just-built George Washington High School, depicts his slaves picking cotton in the fields of Mount Vernon and a group of colonizers walking past the corpse of a Native American.

There is a happy ending though. The ultra-leftwing SF School Board is so stupid that they have voted to spend $600,000 of the tax-payer’s dollars, not to cover up, but actually to destroy the communist series of paintings. Not because they are pretty crappy paintings abusing the Father of Our Country and treasonously siding with Stone Age Savages against the pioneers, but because the left-wing dimbulbs out there feel threatened and offended by these dreadful images which they interpret (erroneously) as glorifying Colonialism.

Here we have a case of Life not resembling Art, but rather approximating with perfection a satire based on extreme exaggeration.

You go, SF School Board! Trash that obnoxious Communist Colonialist bunch of paintings!


Evil, ruthless white settlers (one equipped with a pick to violate the landscape) advance past the body of the noble Indian they killed.

11 Jun 2019

A Visual Demonstration of How Fast the NYT Got Woke

, , , ,

18 May 2019

That’ll Teach Them!

, , , , ,

Actress and Model Emily Ratajkowski certainly showed those “25 old white men” in the Alabama State Senate who voted for the new Anti-Abortion Law. She punished them, and the rest of the male reactionaries in America, by posting the above photograph of herself on Instagram.

We’re bad. We deserve it. She needs to punish all of us some more.

24 Apr 2019

Life in Leftlandia

Deana Chadwell points out that liberals are spoiled children living in their own self-indulgent fantasy land.

Leftlandians actually believe that the world’s climate is something they can control, that man is so much greater than the God Who created the world that humans can use so much toilet paper, or so much gasoline that they can undo creation. They also believe that using fossil fuels to generate electricity with which to run our cars is somehow more environmentally sensible than just using the fossil fuels directly. When someone points out the damage –- both human and environmental –- done by building all those lithium batteries, the Leftlandians just cover their eyes and holler La-La-La-La.

In their unicorn-inhabited world they can pass laws forbidding plastic straws and shampoo bottles and assume that this terrible sacrifice will clean the oceans of the trash dumped into it by billions of people in the third world.

They actually believe they can impose tax hikes on the wealthy and on corporations and said entities will just sit and take it. It doesn’t occur to the left that anyone smart enough to get rich in the first place will be smart enough to hide their money offshore, or move their business to a less onerous tax environment. Remember the little girl in your neighborhood who always wanted to boss everyone around and how mad she’d get when no one would obey her? That’s the left. “I’m the boss!”

They continue to pretend that Marxism is a useful worldview. Evidence, preserved in gruesome history (and the current starvation of the Venezuelan and North Korean people) notwithstanding, they insist on the efficacy of the destruction of capitalism. And they do this while eating food produced by businessmen-farmers, driving cars manufactured by corporations, and wearing clothes created by designer-entrepreneurs. They fail to see the contradiction. Bernie Sanders, the consummate socialist, just declared that, “If you write a bestselling book, you can be a millionaire, too,” evidently unaware of the about-face he had just committed.

They believe they can tell doctors that they now work for the state and can only earn a state-approved salary. It never occurs to them that many of our doctors will just quit being doctors. Free healthcare is a delicious fable, but not if there is no healthcare to be found at any price. It’s not a magic bean.

They believe they can pretend to be a gender other than what they were born with and that if they can browbeat the rest of us into playing their game, that it will be true. They even believe they can make up new genders no one’s ever heard of before. They might as well imagine themselves to be unicorns as far as reality is concerned, but they’re not concerned with reality. It’s all play-acting.

They believe that they can fake their way into college, go there and spend four years sitting in classes like “Vegan Studies,” smoking dope and drinking beer at frat parties, then walk into the real world and get rich. They think they can do this with college loan debt in six figures and no practical skills. And they think that their plan to soak the rich won’t apply to them.

In Leftlandia, folks are comfortable with declaring women’s rights with half their words and supporting Islam, with its wife-beating, woman-hating, girl-mutilating way of life, with the other. They don’t find it weird that Linda Sarsour, outspoken proponent of Sharia law, should be leading a women’s rally.

They do have trolls and goblins in their world, but they aren’t real. Leftists are afraid of Christians, but not of Muslims — who clearly state they want to kill us all. They are scared of Jews, and white people and men. They evidently see infants as dangerous as well since they seem so comfortable about killing them.

They believe, all evidence to the contrary, that humans are all basically good — not including Christians, Jews, white people, and men. Therefore any failings they’re faced with are the fault of “society” or, in other words, the aforementioned groups –- and the NRA. Can’t forget that. As a corollary, they believe that war and crime can be erased by everyone “just getting along, “ which somehow doesn’t mean that they have to be kind to Christians, Jews, white people or men – especially men who belong to the NRA.

They are staunch defenders of license (not liberty), but even more staunch believers in equality, for which they are willing to ditch freedom –- especially freedom of speech. Speech is dangerous and can pop their balloons, so that’s got to go.

Speaking of language, in their postmodern, deconstructionist, intersectional world, words aren’t important. They can mean whatever a leftist wants them to mean. A white nationalist used to be a neo-Nazi skinhead, but now it refers to conservatives in general. A racist used to a person who based his opinion of people on the color of their skin. Now it means anyone who would write an essay like this. Words are bludgeons and no good leftist has any reverence for the sacred contract of language. In their fairytale world no actual truth exists and no moral code either, so there is no needs for honesty.

They believe that the color of their skin matters. They believe their country of origin is important and should be worn like a battle scar.

Which brings up another whole facet of their narrative –- they pretend that they aren’t really individuals, that they are nothing more than cogs in whatever gear they think they’ve been “oppressed” into. I suppose this saves the trouble of actually having to take responsibility for their own lives, but it also makes them slaves and they don’t seem to notice. They also think they can right the wrongs done to one group of long-dead people by taking from modern-day people who had nothing to do with the original transgression.

And they believe they can’t lose. The Trump win in 2016 cracked the magical snow-globe they live in and now the emptiness of the Mueller report has dealt it another terrible blow. Not to worry, though. The fantasy must go on. They are sure that if they yell, “Collusion!” loud enough, Trump will dissolve into a flurry of fairy dust and be gone.

RTWT

23 Apr 2019

22 April 1519: Hernan Cortes Lands in Mexico

, , , ,

Yesterday was the 500th Anniversary of the arrival of the Spanish conqueror of Mexico, the man who overthrew the Aztec Empire, bringing Christianity and European civilization to Mexico and putting an end to cannibalism and large scale human sacrifice.

It is typical of our insane and twisted times that no celebration of this hugely important anniversary has been scheduled, and that, last month, the president of Mexico sent letters to the Vatican and the King of Spain demanding apologies for Cortes’ Conquest of the Aztecs and the Conversion of Mexico to Christianity. (BBC — March 26)

The current Marxist lie is that the harmless and peaceful Aztecs were brutally conquered by avaricious and rapacious Europeans, out only for power and gold. The truth of the matter is that the Aztecs themselves were the brutal and tyrannical conquerors. They built an empire covering roughly a quarter of modern Spain, fueled by a faith in their own superiority based on a special relationship with Huitzilopochtli, the hummingbird god of war, who required frequent, and abundant human sacrifices.

The conquered and subjugated tribes living under Aztec rule provided the sacrificial victims as well as slaves. The conquistador Bernal Diaz relates what the chief of the Totonacs told the Spaniards about Aztec rule.

He related so much of the cruelties and oppression they had to suffer, and thereby sobbed and sighed so bitterly that we could not help being affected. At the time when they were subdued, they had already been greatly ill-used; Montezuma then demanded annually a great number of their sons and daughters, a portion of whom were sacrificed to the idols, and the rest were employed in his household and for tilling his grounds. His tax-gatherers took their wives and daughters without any ceremony if they were handsome, merely to satisfy their lusts. The Totonaques, whose territory consisted of upwards of thirty townships, suffered like violence.

Hernan Cortez with only 600 soldiers, 15 horsemen, and 15 cannons was able to overthrow an empire with an estimated population of 5 million precisely because large numbers of warriors from the oppressed subject tribes eagerly joined him in the fight against their Aztec rulers.

William H. Prescott, in his 1843 History of the Conquest of Mexico, observed:

a government, which does not rest on the sympathies of its subjects, cannot long abide; that human institutions, when not connected with human prosperity and progress, must fall, if not before the increasing light of civilisation, by the hand of violence; by violence from within, if not from without. And who shall lament their fall?”

Obviously, today’s Woke Marxist Social Justice Warriors will lament their fall, cover up their crimes, and vilify the liberators.

20 Apr 2019

“The Injustices of Capitalism”

, ,

Alyssa Ahlgren has some choice words for complaining leftists.

I’m sitting in a small coffee shop near Nokomis trying to think of what to write about. I scroll through my newsfeed on my phone looking at the latest headlines of Democratic candidates calling for policies to “fix” the so-called injustices of capitalism. I put my phone down and continue to look around. I see people talking freely, working on their MacBook’s, ordering food they get in an instant, seeing cars go by outside, and it dawned on me. We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we’ve become completely blind to it. Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose. These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don’t give them a second thought. We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times. Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful.

RTWT

20 Apr 2019

He Embraces His White Guilt

, , ,

Jarvis Dupont in the Spectator:

As a child, I was horrifyingly oblivious to what it meant to be a white male. I ignorantly assumed that skin color should never be an issue. I went around treating everyone the same regardless of gender or race. I look back on those days now and cringe. Thank goodness I ‘woke up’ so to speak!

I was lucky to grow up on a moderately large 20,000-acre estate in a 23-bedroom Georgian house which had been in my family for at least six hundred years. For the first few years of my life, I was blissfully unaware of my standing within society. This glorious childhood utopia did not last long.

At the tender age of 12, I watched a film which put it all into perspective: Ratatouille. I remember the impact this movie had on me as if it were yesterday. My mind was awash with confusion. How could a rat control a cook?! Even if it were possible, how is it doing it? It’s simply holding his hair! What method of ungodly witchcraft is being employed here?! Then it hit me. This film was an allegory of slavery. There was no actual rat, it was brilliantly symbolizing white man’s need to dominate. The fact that the ‘rat’ is hidden underneath the chef’s hat cleverly illustrates how white society in America turned a blind eye to the way black people were being exploited. The ‘rat’ is a metaphor for the detached way in which white power was used to oppress African slaves, the ‘food’ it cooks represents the benefits white Americans have enjoyed as a result of this inhumane hierarchical structure. I was gobsmacked that a children’s movie could encapsulate a complex multi-layered issue in such a devastatingly simplistic way. …

I remember that first wave of White Guilt washing over me. It was like an epiphany. I bathed in it, swam in it. Immersed my disgustingly pallid complexion in it until I was spent. Looking back, I’m not ashamed to admit it was an almost erotic experience. From then on, I was transformed. I found myself telling people to ‘educate themselves’, and would begin conversations with ‘FYI’, or ‘Dear fellow white people…’. I was using the word ‘problematic’ at least three hundred times a day, and it was wonderfully cathartic. The first time I called Father a ‘bitch-ass white cracker skank’ was an incredibly liberating experience.

I demanded to be sent to a university for the lower-orders so that I could experience poverty first-hand. After a few heated arguments, Father acquiesced, so long as he could purchase a townhouse nearby for me to live in and set up regular allowance payments to my bank account via direct debit. I reluctantly agreed to all of this on the condition that my allowance would not exceed 5k per month.

I’ve taken surprisingly well to my self-inflicted destitution and university life has proven to be ideal for my new found woke lifestyle. Many of my student chums are also aware of their White Guilt, and we regularly meet up to admonish those who do not acknowledge theirs. Only last weekend we berated a white homeless man sitting outside Taco Bell for his appalling lack of self-awareness regarding not only his own privilege, but his flagrant disrespect towards cultural appropriation. Eventually he became so violently agitated the police came along and forcibly removed him and his filthy blanket from the pavement. Of course, if he were black the police would have shot him dead, so I hope he realized just how privileged he is.

Despite my early awokening, the opulence of my youth is something which still plagues me to this day. I see racial bias all around me. The amount of opportunities I have as a white male are staggering compared to those of a BAME. We need to do more, and I am determined that when I inherit my family’s estate, I will make damn sure I only employ people of color to maintain it.

RTWT

17 Apr 2019

Worse Than the Notre Dame Fire

, ,


Sofia Leung, Teaching & Learning Program Manager and Liaison Librarian at MIT.

The Radical Left’s pathological animosity toward Western Civilization and everyone of European descent, dead or alive, is having a destructive impact on our culture and institutions far worse than any single fire.

Rod Dreher yesterday lost his temper over two extreme, but entirely typical, examples.

this below is what it means to have barbarians march through our institutions.

The Teaching And Learning Program Manager at MIT libraries, Sofia Leung (“I believe that social justice work is library work and that we should all be collectively engaged in our liberation”), has detected impurity in the stacks. She writes:

    If you look at any United States library’s collection, especially those in higher education institutions, most of the collections (books, journals, archival papers, other media, etc.) are written by white dudes writing about white ideas, white things, or ideas, people, and things they stole from POC and then claimed as white property with all of the “rights to use and enjoyment of” that Harris describes in her article. When most of our collections filled with this so-called “knowledge,” it continues to validate only white voices and perspectives and erases the voices of people of color. Collections are representations of what librarians (or faculty) deem to be authoritative knowledge and as we know, this field and educational institutions, historically, and currently, have been sites of whiteness.

    Library collections continue to promote and proliferate whiteness with their very existence and the fact that they are physically taking up space in our libraries. They are paid for using money that was usually ill-gotten and at the cost of black and brown lives. In the case of my current place of employment, the university definitely makes money off of the prison industrial complex and the spoils of war. Libraries filled with mostly white collections indicates that we don’t care about what POC think, we don’t care to hear from POC themselves, we don’t consider POC to be scholars, we don’t think POC are as valuable, knowledgeable, or as important as white people. To return to the Harris quote from above, library collections and spaces have historically kept out Black, Indigenous, People of Color as they were meant to do and continue to do. One only has to look at the most recent incident at the library of my alma mater, Barnard College, where several security guards tried to kick out a Black Columbia student for being Black.

She hates old books because white people wrote them and loved them. That’s what it amounts to. This woman is not some SJW kook beavering away in the basement of Evergreen State, or a dyspeptic grad student in Grievance Studies. She is an important librarian at MIT. What’s more, the venerable trade publication Library Journal tweeted her blog entry. The blog entry in which she calls for the purging of library collections because white people wrote them and loved them and collected them. Their existence offends her sense of justice.

Do you not see what’s happening here? Those who control a culture’s memory control its people. Sofia “Social Justice Work Is Library Work” Leung wants to throw certain books down the memory hole because they are racially impure. If this catches on, then some sane institutions stand to inherit some valuable books tossed out by woke universities … unless Sofia Leung Thought requires the burning of those whiteness grimoires so they can’t pollute the minds of others ever again.

Why can’t universities simply expand their collections to include books and documents from a greater diversity of writers, scholars, and artists? If Leung was calling for that, who could possibly object? Not me. But she’s not calling for that at all. She’s calling for getting rid of books and documents that incarnate “whiteness,” whatever the hell that is.

—————————–

Or how about this thread of SJW responses to the Notre Dame fire compiled by Andy Ngo (of Quillette) on Twitter?


(just click on the image)

09 Mar 2019

Leftie Journalist Takes Two-Month Safari Guide Course (And Then Sends Management a Stern Letter of Complaint)

, , ,


Rachel Aspden, tattoos and all.

God! how I detest narcissistic, self-important, leftist-conformist scribbling members of the international urban community of fashion. Heads inserted deeply up their fundaments, they go busily around the entire world applying their warped, twisted, and fundamentally wrong aggrieved-victim’s-eye-view of everything, then they insist on telling us all about it, in the process appointing themselves dictators-of-the-universe with every intention of imposing revolutionary change to everything they touch.

This Rachel Apsden is a sort of professional journalist chick, who studied Arabic in Cairo, and who in 2017 published her one big book, Generation Revolution, an account of the failed Arab Spring revolution “from the front line between tradition and change,” as shown through the viewpoints of four young Egyptians.

But, the role of wise, judgmental journalist rooting for change, man! was not enough, evidently. Off goes Rachel to South Africa to enroll in a two-month course qualifying her as a White Hunter/Safari Guide.

I wasn’t a guy, I had no idea how to use a gun, and the only wild dogs anywhere near my own home were part of a research project at London Zoo. But I was learning to change the tires on an old Land Cruiser and memorizing the birth weight of hyena pups because, at thirty-seven, I had burned out. I had just spent several years living in Egypt, reporting on the 2011 revolution and the cruelty and suffering of its aftermath. When I returned to work in the UK, I was angry, heartbroken, and guilty at being able to leave. Though my life in London was safe and easy, as I went through the motions of commuting and sitting in the office, everything felt dark. That was when the dreams began: huge open spaces, empty skies, light—places I’d seen when I’d visited friends in South Africa. That wild nature felt like a lifeline, something I could believe in as an absolute, uncomplicated good, a unifying and healing force that was somehow separate from the moral tangles created by humans. I didn’t think about where these beliefs had come from.

It seems unlikely that she intends to do any Safari guiding though. What this is about is judgmental and condescending tourism with an article in the New York Review of Books, to be followed by the second big book, as the real goal.

Her chief insight seems to have been that her instructors were unconsciously sexist and racist, and unreasonably resentful at finding themselves “at the bottom of the pile” in today’s South Africa.

Rachel knows better. She understands that any White Presence in Africa and Apartheid were terrible Wrongs, and Big Game Hunting a highly questionable part of the Culture of Masculine Machismo and Colonialism. Native Africans were treated unequally. Atonement is due.

“Black Africans just aren’t interested in nature,” a white South African student said, as we sat by the campfire one night. We’d been talking about how dominated the country’s safari industry still was by white people, who owned and managed most of its private reserves, and made up the vast majority of guests. “It’s not PC to say it, but it’s true.”

Bit by bit, I pieced together the true nature of the land I was hiking and driving over every day. It was an Apartheid-era cattle farm that its owners had designated a game reserve in the 1990s when foot-and-mouth disease made beef farming unprofitable, and the law changed to allow landowners to “own”—and therefore benefit from—wildlife. However wild it looked, it was as carefully managed as any London park: the conservation manager showed us his spreadsheets recording the number of animals on the reserve, each species kept in a precise balance with the others in rounds of buying, selling, and culling. As in the Kruger and Botswana’s reserves, elephants, which multiplied quickly thanks to the artificial water sources, posed a problem no one quite knew how to solve.

I admired the reserve owners’ efforts to rewild land that had once been exhausted by intensive farming: uprooting invasive vegetation, reintroducing wildlife, clearing the detritus of old fencing and machinery. This was the story of many South African protected areas (and a reason that some wealthy tourists dismissed the country as “not wild enough,” preferring the remote wildernesses of Zimbabwe and Botswana). But as elsewhere, the land’s human history was obscured. Empty, untouched wilderness was what tourists wanted to see, and this was the illusion the safari industry aimed to recreate.

It wasn’t the only hangover from the days of empire. Guides weren’t simply responsible for providing expert knowledge and ensuring their guests’ safety. They were also expected to administer first aid, mix drinks, change tires, host dinners, clean vehicles, defuse complaints, and assist their guests in every way. Our textbook offered blunt advice on everything from hosting what it called “Oriental clients” (“Do not call the Japanese ‘Chinese’ and vice versa”) to dealing with a client’s corpse (“Under no circumstance may the body be transported by the vehicle used for transporting other clients”). Part of our training was to entertain our “guests” on each drive we led, serving up drinks, snacks, and small talk from behind a folding table.

I wondered whether these expectations began to explain the weirdly fluctuating sense of bravado and victimhood that seemed to dog our instructors. Part of it was economic. Guides worked in a luxury industry, but the majority of them were paid very little. A single night at a high-end safari lodge in South Africa could cost $2,000 (including game drives, but excluding French champagne), but the monthly wage of a guide might be less than a quarter of that, with the workers living in basic rooms hidden from the luxurious guest accommodation, working three-week stretches without a break.

Spending your days fixing 4x4s and tracking lions was also a way of avoiding some of the troubling consequences of being a white South African in general, and an Afrikaner in particular. One was the trappings of middle-class life in a high-crime country: the electrified fences and rapid-response signs, guard dogs, window-bars, and lockable internal gates that made me feel caged and edgy when I stayed in Johannesburg or Cape Town. Once past the fortified outer boundary of the game reserve, all these disappeared—along with much of the impact of the Black Economic Empowerment policies that the company official had alluded to, under which non-white South Africans were preferred for most business and employment opportunities. The safari industry, like agriculture and wine farming, had been shaped by historical patterns of land ownership and perceived expertise. At its senior levels, white men still faced little competition.

But the most significant escape, I thought, was probably psychological. In democratic South Africa, to be a member of the minority that had implemented Apartheid was to find yourself in a particular psychic bind. That uncomfortable sense wasn’t one of identity alone: pre-1994 South Africa had made military service compulsory for white young men, and now and again, the older instructors alluded in half-sentences to serving in the army or draft-dodging in small towns along the southern coast.

Although they seemed to have little compunction about the language they used toward others, these men were acutely resentful of even the possibility of being thought racist. When they taught us Zulu or Shangaan animal names, or explained how “local people” harvested honey from mopane trees, I understood that they saw themselves as liberal. And by the standards of the Afrikaner community, which tended to be socially, religiously, and politically conservative, they could well have been right. I thought of the small farming towns I’d driven through in the remote Northern Cape, where everyone seemed to drive Toyota Hilux pickups and listen to Afrikaans country music, and I saw signs for the controversial right-wing pressure group AfriForum, which focused on the ownership of farmland that lay at the heart of Afrikaner national identity. …

Though we had complained both to the staff members themselves and to company management, the behavior and demeanor of the instructors didn’t change, and Dionne and I spoke often about leaving the course. In the end, we resolved to qualify as guides. Perhaps, we thought, we could eventually help to change the industry. After studying and training every day for two months, we took our exams: drawing diagrams of katabatic and berg winds, describing the flagship species of the succulent karoo biome, and discussing the action of neurotoxic venom. Each of us then had to guide a four-hour game drive, with David as our assessor. I sat beside Dionne in the front of the 4×4 as she led her drive; later in the day, she did the same for me. We were both passed as competent to lead 4×4 safaris in dangerous game areas. When we returned to London and New York, both of us submitted detailed written complaints to the company.

RTWT

19 Feb 2019

NY Lost $27.5 Billion in Revenue and 25,000 $150,000+ Jobs

, ,

12 Nov 2018

Camille Paglia Speaks Out

, , , , ,


Yale Professor Cleanth Brooks 1906-1994, leading figure of the New Criticism.

In Quillette, Claire Lehmann interviews Camille Paglia on the current state of the Humanities in the universities, Leftist Ressentiment as Religion, and Feminism.

Claire Lehmann: You seem to be one of the only scholars of the humanities who are willing to challenge the post-structuralist status quo. Why have other humanities academics been so spineless in preserving the integrity of their fields?

Camille Paglia: The silence of the academic establishment about the corruption of Western universities by postmodernism and post-structuralism has been an absolute disgrace. First of all, the older generation of true scholars who still ruled the roost when I arrived at the Yale Graduate School in 1968 were not fighters, to begin with. American professors, unlike their British counterparts, had not been schooled in ferocious and satirical debate. They were courtly and genteel, a High Protestant middlebrow style. Voices were hushed, and propriety ruled at the Yale department of English: I once described it as “walking on eggs at the funeral home.”

An ossified New Criticism was then still ascendant. I had been trained in college in that technique of microscopic close analysis of the text, and it remains a marvelous tool for cultural criticism: I have applied it to everything from painting to pop songs. However, my strong view at the time (from my early grounding in archaeology) was that literary criticism had to recover authentic historical consciousness and also to expand toward psychology, which was still considered vulgar. Harold Bloom and Geoffrey Hartman (whose Yale careers had begun amid tinges of anti-Semitism) were moving in a different, more conceptual direction, heavy on European philosophy.

By the early 1970s, when I was writing my doctoral dissertation (Sexual Personae, directed by Bloom), change suddenly arrived from outside: deconstruction was the hot new thing, hastened along by J. Hillis Miller, who left Johns Hopkins for Yale. I thought Derrida and DeMan and the rest of that crew were arrant nonsense from the start, a pedantic diversion from direct engagement with art. About the obsequious Yale welcome given to the pratlings of one continental “star” visitor, I acidly remarked to a fellow grad student sitting next to me, “They’re like high priests murmuring to each other.”

The New Criticism desperately needed supplementation, but that opaque hash (so divorced from genuine art appreciation) was certainly not it. I was disgusted at the rapid spread of deconstruction and post-structuralism throughout elite U.S. universities in the 1970s, when I was teaching at my first job at Bennington College. The reason it happened is really quite prosaic: a recession hit in the 1970s, and the job market in academe collapsed. Fancy-pants post-structuralism was the ticket to ride for ambitious, beady-eyed young careerists on the make. Its coy, showy gestures and clotted lingo were insiders’ badges of claimed intellectual superiority. But the whole lot of them were mediocrities from the start. It is doubtful that much if any of their work will have long-term traction.

As I argued in my long attack on post-structuralism, “Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf” (Arion, Spring 1991; reprinted in my first essay collection, Sex, Art, and American Culture), Lacan, Derrida, and Foucault were already outmoded thinkers even in France, where their prominence had been relatively brief. There was nothing genuinely leftist in their elitist, monotonously language-based analysis. On the contrary, post-structuralism was abjectly reactionary, resisting and reversing the true revolution of the 1960s American counterculture, which liberated the senses and reconnected the body and personal identity to nature, in the Romantic manner. It is very telling that Foucault’s principal inspiration, by his own admission, was Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, which I loathed as a college student for its postwar passivity and nihilism. (As a teacher, I admire Godot as a play but still reject its parochial and at times juvenile world-view.)

Post-structuralism, along with identity politics, made huge gains in the 1970s, as the old guard professors proved helpless against a rising tide of rapid add-on programs and departments like women’s studies and African-American studies. The tenured professoriate seemed not to realize that change of some kind was necessary, and thus they failed to provide an alternative vision of a remodeled university of the future. I myself was lobbying for interdisciplinary innovation in the humanities—something that remained highly controversial right through the 1980s, when there were fierce battles over it where I was then teaching (during the merger of the Philadelphia College of Performing Arts with the Philadelphia College of Art to form the present University of the Arts). Another persistent proposal of mine has been for comparative religion to become the undergraduate core curriculum, an authentically global multiculturalism

Most established professors in the 1970s probably believed that the new theory trend was a fad that would blow away like autumn leaves. The greatness of the complex and continuous Western tradition seemed self-evident: the canon would surely stand, even if supplemented by new names. Well, guess what? Helped along by a swelling horde of officious, overpaid administrators, North American universities became, decade by decade, political correctness camps. Out went half the classics, as well as pedagogically useful survey courses demonstrating sequential patterns in history (now dismissed as a “false narrative” by callow theorists). Bookish, introverted old-school professors were not prepared for guerrilla warfare to defend basic scholarly principles or to withstand waves of defamation and harassment.

However, it is indeed difficult to understand why major professors already in safe, powerful positions avoided direct combat. For example, although he had made passing dismissive remarks about post-structuralism (“Foucault and soda water”), Harold Bloom never systematically engaged or critiqued the subject or used his access to the general media to endorse debate, which was left instead to self-identified conservatives. The latter situation was clearly counterproductive, insofar as it enabled the bourgeois faux leftists of academe to define themselves and their reflex gobbledygook as boldly progressive.

In October 1990, I sat with my longtime mentor Bloom at a presidential dinner preceding his Shakespeare lecture at Bryn Mawr College in the Philadelphia suburbs. I told him about the exposé of post-structuralism that I was writing for Arion (and that took six months to do). He flatly replied, “You’re wasting your time.” I must suppose there was simply a generational divide: as a product of the 1960s, I still passionately believe in reform as an ethical imperative. Furthermore, most of my teaching career has been spent at small art schools, which have always spurned the conformist formulas and protocols of traditional universities.

Nevertheless, the poisons of post-structuralism have now spread throughout academe and have done enormous damage to basic scholarly standards and disastrously undermined belief even in the possibility of knowledge. I suspect history will not be kind to the leading professors who appear to have put loyalty to friends and colleagues above defending scholarly values during a chaotic era of overt vandalism that has deprived several generations of students of a profound education in the humanities. The steady decline in humanities majors is an unmistakable signal that this once noble field has become a wasteland.

Do you believe that politics and in particular social justice (i.e., anti-racism and feminism) are becoming cults or pseudo-religions? Is politics filling the void left by the receding influence of organized religion?

Paglia: This has certainly been my view for many years now. I said in the introduction to my art book, Glittering Images (2012), that secular humanism has failed. As an atheist, I have argued that if religion is erased, something must be put in its place. Belief systems are intrinsic to human intelligence and survival. They “frame” the flux of primary experience, which would otherwise flood the mind.

But politics cannot fill the gap. Society, with which Marxism is obsessed, is only a fragment of the totality of life. As I have written, Marxism has no metaphysics: it cannot even detect, much less comprehend, the enormity of the universe and the operations of nature. Those who invest all of their spiritual energies in politics will reap the whirlwind. The evidence is all around us—the paroxysms of inchoate, infantile rage suffered by those who have turned fallible politicians into saviors and devils, godlike avatars of Good versus Evil.

My substitute for religion is art, which I have expanded to include all of popular culture. But when art is reduced to politics, as has been programmatically done in academe for 40 years, its spiritual dimension is gone. It is coarsely reductive to claim that value in the history of art is always determined by the power plays of a self-referential social elite. I take Marxist social analysis seriously: Arnold Hauser’s Marxist, multi-volume A Social History of Art (1951) was a major influence on me in graduate school. However, Hauser honored art and never condescended to it. A society that respects neither religion nor art cannot be called a civilization.

RTWT

Even well-educated people on the Left,like Paglia, recognize the disastrous state of contemporary culture.

Your are browsing
the Archives of Never Yet Melted in the 'Left Think' Category.











Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark