Sunday, April 4, 2021

The 'Woke' New Appeal of Totalitarianism

I don't know Roger Kimball, the bow-tie-wearing editor of the New Criterion (which I do not read), and the editor (publisher?) of Encounter Books.

But his essay today is quite good, and it's interesting to me, because I could've written it myself. I've been saying the exact same things all semester, in my (at least) twice-weekly "all class" announcements, where I sometimes add an "optional" section below the "all business" section that starts my messages, and then I offer some of my own (humble) thoughts on the news of the day --- providing links to books, as needed --- and if students read those or not, I tell them, it doesn't matter much to me, because, I also tell them, they are "free to choose" what's best for themselves; and they might not care one whit what I might have to say on the bloody, horrific violence, mayhem, and organized "mainstream" media hypocrisy that's very likely propelling us to a new --- and very "hot" --- civil war, not a "cold war," which is probably what we've been in since the 1970s, in the aftermath of the mayhem and murder inflicted back during the 1960s, care of the "Destructive Generation" that grew out of the "rights revolution" of the era, and especially the "antiwar" movement that arose in opposition to the alleged U.S. "imperialist" war in Vietnam (which was, actually, a war of the most vital national security interests), and one that's a shame we lost, as I doubt Vietnam today is anywhere near as successful, as, say, South Korea, which was not "unified" by the force of arms of both Chinese and Soviet military power.

All that said, just read Kimball, who, although he can't stomach baseball (which is strange to me, indeed), is a good guy, and a darned good thinker and writer.

At American Greatness, "The Appeal of the New Totalitarians":

It’s easy to understand and reject the horrors of totalitarianism. It is much less easy to grasp its inexorable logic or its seemingly implacable attractions.

I am not a follower or a fan of baseball. But I understand that it is, or has been, an important national pastime, beloved by many, not least, as Andrew McCarthy observes in a recent column, because it offered its acolytes a respite or oasis from politics, an arena where our differences of opinion could be redeemed or at least temporarily forgotten in the benign if intense partisanship of fandom.

It is for this reason that, impervious though I am to the charms of the sport, I regard with disdain the decision on the part of the woke commissars who run Major League Baseball to abandon Atlanta, Georgia. The reason they gave was that Georgia had passed new voter rights legislation requiring, among other things, that voters present valid identification in order to be eligible to vote. They called that a violation of “fair access to voting” when in fact it is legislation, very similar to that in effect in many other states, whose chief effect will be to make elections fairer. You need an ID to board a plane, check into a hotel, enter most urban businesses, but not to vote?

I see that Delta Airlines has also joined the woke brigade by taking a public stand against the Georgia legislation. How will the airline respond if you refuse to show a valid identification before boarding? (After Delta finished with its woke high horse, American Airlines borrowed it to present its own little exhibition of politically correct grandstanding with respect to similar legislation in Texas.)

This is all just business as usual in what more and more seems like the twilight of the republic. The cultural critic Stephen Soukup has anatomized the phenomenon in a new book that we just published at Encounter called The Dictatorship of Woke Capital: How Political Correctness Captured Big Business. Quite apart from its illuminating historical analysis, the book is a plea to turn away from the politicization of everything that stands behind such phenomena as sports concessions and airlines—to say nothing of Hollywood, the media, and the fount of it all, academia—insinuating politics into every dimension of life. “The choice here,” Soukup writes in his conclusion, “is simple.”
If we, as a civilization allow even the spirit of capitalism to become part of “the political” and part of the total state, then we will have order—for however long that lasts. If we resist the politicization of business and of capital markets, however; if we determine for ourselves that disorder and depoliticization are the preferable options, then we not only preserve liberty but also preserve the spirit of innovation and expression that harnesses liberty to create wealth and prosperity. I think Soukup is correct, and his analysis of the way the totalizing process of the politicization of everything has proceeded in other situations should give us all pause.

Political correctness has always had a silly as well as a minatory side. The silly side is evident in its juvenile narcissism. It is so obviously a product of a rich and leisured society that it is hard to take its antics seriously. There is a reason that it had its origins in the academy. Those privileged eyries could afford to allow their charges to prance around whining about how oppressed or “triggered” or offended they were since they occupied the coddled purlieus of a place apart—apart from the serious business of everyday life and in this country, anyway, apart from the less forgiving imperatives of genuine want...

Later, I'll write a full post linking this new book from Soukup, of which and whom I was unaware, but appears to be a real winner, and, obviously, reflects back well on Mr. Kimball.

And I should have more blogging tonight, or tomorrow, so thanks again for reading. 

Plus, there's still more of the American Greatness piece at the link.