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View Diary: Brad Carson speaks - and pens a brilliant TNR article (348 comments)

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  •  the end of 'God' (4.00)

    Modernity is...basically, theism and the Divine Order Of The World being given up.  (A famous book on it is titled "All That Is Solid Melts Into Air".)  To be replaced by nontheism/post-theism/varieties of humanism.   Post-Modernism is the atheistic intermediate phase.

    Theism failed in a one-two punch over the course of 1850-1945.  Theism is a hypothesis derived from trying to account for Nature and History.  Science knocked out the need for theism in understanding Nature during the late 19th century, and the grotesque genocides during the first half of the 20th more or less knocked God out of a directing role in History.

    These resisters are the unadaptable people, who reject Science's work except that they use it every day, and who use the grotesque human behavior in History to beat other people over the head and yet assert that the Past was better than the present.

    You can't be a conservative without being a parasite or a hypocrite.  Still, they have something of a point in that the transition out of theism and Divine Order 'thinking' is messy and bitter and requires a lot of information- look at how they beat up on liberal Christians- and that the halfway house called Atheism is a nasty place.  They just can't accept that the place beyond that is far better and wiser than anything they know about.

    Politically- there's nothing to be done but wrest power away from the 'Believer' leadership and remarkable numbers of the lower tier will just walk away from it.  And they know it.  The vulnerable points for getting to that situation are the death rate of the old people who vote that way, and the way the young can be dissuaded from it at a pretty high rate- we can bring about a net die-out of the hard core that is beyond reason.

    •  Be careful (none)
      Some of the most ardent modernists were the Italian futurists who paved the way for Italian (corporate) fascism.  And the "intellectual" Nazis were strongly into explicitly anti-Christian paganism.

      We have to be careful about which "modernism" we are eager to defend.  I for one reject a lot of American and global cultural innovations.  Globalization, as it destroys labor rights, native cultures, natural environments, etc., is certainly something "modern" that few of us would defend.  The disappearance of much of what passes for entertainment in this culture would not dusturb me, though I would not censor it under color of law.  And kids today!  Jeeesh!

      I suspect though that we have our codewords just as they do in Jesusland.  We're both just peddling our views about abortion and gays -- they couch their fear and disgust in terms of "values" and we wrap our acceptance of human bodily hegemony in "modernity".

      But if they really do reject the French Enlightenment (the -- to us -- inexplicably bizarre selection of the French as an American low-brow whipping boy is maybe not so flatly stupid as it seems), then we really are in a war.  We are unwilling to go back even as far as the Gilded Age, while they seem to be on an express train (or carriage) back to the Age of Absolutism.

      I wish I were young enough to see how this is going to turn out.

      •  just a little faith will do (none)
        >Some of the most ardent modernists were the Italian futurists who paved the way for Italian (corporate) fascism.  And the "intellectual" Nazis were strongly into explicitly anti-Christian paganism.

        We have the occultists, paganizers, and fascists on the other side.  You worry that we may be provoking them and acting too early, that they still have appeal to far more than 2/3 of Americans.  I strongly doubt that's the reality- look, a major point of debate is about immorality to an innovation, gay marriage, that didn't seem like a viable idea at all five years ago.  It is taken seriously by the other side- it has appeal to them and they can't deny a certain amount of the inherent merit of to their opposition's argument.  Now, I wouldn't underestimate human depravity.  But these people- there is only so much actual suffering they will undergo for their ideas, they're fanatics until it actually costs them something dear.  There's no martyrdom in them, only loudness.  They want to be convincingly conquered, overwhelmed, by the Modern, in my opinion.

        >We have to be careful about which "modernism" we are eager to defend.  I for one reject a lot of American and global cultural innovations.  Globalization, as it destroys labor rights, native cultures, natural environments, etc., is certainly something "modern" that few of us would defend.

        It's not Modern.  It used to be called Colonialism in its lesser plutocratic formulations.

        >The disappearance of much of what passes for entertainment in this culture would not dusturb me, though I would not censor it under color of law.  And kids today!  Jeeesh!

        Well, 'entertainment' is always diagnostic, holds a mirror up to the society it is a part of and portraits the things that are grotesque and soul-killing in it.  Parents who can't adapt, the ghettos, the fads, the materialism, the selfrighteousness, the foolishness and provincialism of Mayberry- it has to be distorted in a most garish fashion for the desensitized to be made aware of their delusions.  Nothing Modern there either, except in contrasts.

        The youth of Constantinople used to dress in the garb of the Huns and use Hunnish expressions to vex their parents.  The problem as a whole is even older.  But, as one wag pointed out, the one thing all youth do is critique and then try to repeat the mistakes of their parents.

        >I suspect though that we have our codewords just as they do in Jesusland.  We're both just peddling our views about abortion and gays -- they couch their fear and disgust in terms of "values" and we wrap our acceptance of human bodily hegemony in "modernity".

        But the kind of hegemony/authority, the specifics of the contract or Covenant, absolutely make all the difference.  You can't so trivially level that distinction.

        >But if they really do reject the French Enlightenment (the -- to us -- inexplicably bizarre selection of the French as an American low-brow whipping boy is maybe not so flatly stupid as it seems), then we really are in a war.  We are unwilling to go back even as far as the Gilded Age, while they seem to be on an express train (or carriage) back to the Age of Absolutism.

        Most of the Christian Right is occultist in its practices, if not its views.  That's a rejection of the Enlightenment, perhaps even a rejection of real theism, perhaps even a rejection of the Renaissance.  As for why we should want to go back to "even" the Gilded Age as a negotiating point- there's no going back beyond Pearl Harbor in any case, just by demographics, and absolutely no reason to even go back to when Auschwitz was considered neglectable as a problem.

        >I wish I were young enough to see how this is going to turn out.

        I like to think that my personal model for the political trends of the present, which shows a massive turnaround in 2006/2007, holds up.

        •  Let's violently agree, you bastard! (none)
          "I like to think that my personal model for the political trends of the present, which shows a massive turnaround in 2006/2007, holds up."

          Last first, me too.

          All I meant is that I'm seeing "they reject modernity" expressed by a lot of people who very likely don't share among themselves a common definition of "modernity".  Most people, most of the time, use "modern" to mean "novel" or even "new and improved".  Some use it in a technically narrow historic or art-historic sense.  Regardless, I think we have to be careful what we're saying the Jesuslanders are rejecting.  We have to be open to areas where we can make a case for agreement or at least acceptable mutual accomodation.  Not because I like them very much, but because there may be some opportunities to turn them (fat chance) or mellow them (unlikely) or fool them (hey, the repugs do it every day!).

          The one thing I think is an error is to use important words so sloppily (without clear agreement about meaning) that we end up doing little more than expressing our distaste for the other guys.

          So, if you want to disagree with some of the ways I used "modernity", great, that's just my point.

      •  French (none)
        Why is it so surprising that the French are whipping boys?

        They were the last colonial power to give up that dream, in the 1970's, well after WW2 when everyone else divested.  The attempts to prescriptively control the French language are their own parody.  The recent banning of religious clothing shows a real tension with multiculturalism.  Their atomic weapons program had highly publicized issues.  They haven't established themselves as a first-tier technological nation like Germany, Japan, or the U.S. (The top three patent holders in the world)  Who was the last French Nobel Prize winner?  Astronaut? etc?

        While I can think of things that I admire about the French, they certainly seem to be hypocrites who over-estimate their own importance in world affairs.

        •  Snarky waiter? (none)
          Jeez, sounds to me like you had a bad experience with a French waiter.

          Seriously, you didn't list (I assume because you're not a fool) "surrender monkeys" or "genetically rude" or any of the flatly stupid things that the wingnuts and their tools repeat endlessly.  You've chosen mostly areas of criticism that repugs would say show that even the French aren't all bad.

          Before you point at the French as the last colonialists, ask yourself what you might call a country that maintains today over 600 military bases virtually everywhere.

          I'll gladly swap technological "progress" for a really good Bordeaux and universal health care.

          Of course the French are hypocrites -- who isn't?

          And you are mute on the actual point: that the cradle of the Enlightenment is perhaps not accidentally the major object of 24/7 derision from the most regressive elements of our society.

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