From a reader: Tim Black at Spiked Online reflects a little as we near the New Year’s Eve:
‘But as the past couple of decades have demonstrated, there has been a twist to this tale of liberal progress. Censorship, far from disappearing, has changed form. What was once the prerogative of the state has become the prerogative of the individual. What was once grounded on morality, on what the state decreed to be right or wrong, moral or corrupting, is now grounded on emotions, on what the self decrees is hurtful or hateful. Speech no longer corrupts, or causes the will to deviate from the path of virtue; speech now upsets feelings, and causes people emotional harm. It is not the old-fashioned rational self that’s deemed at risk here; it’s the new-fangled emotivist self.’
It seems to me that the choice of ’empathy’ and walking a mile in another man’s shoes is relatively neutral, a choice that ought always to be ours to make.
For all the genuine injustice out there, publicly rewarding victimhood and airing grievances can soon become an exercise in punitive redress. Once folks start exploring themselves with certain ideological tools and ideas, it can be easy to start grafting genuine injustices along with their own failures and slights in life onto someone/something else without much thought at all.
And there, many can stay, in perpetual grievance, seeking constant social change, but often without much thought at all to what exactly that change would look like; the potential costs to all of our freedoms.
Personally, I’m hoping that all the self-help temples out there, the confessional couches a la the commercial populism of Oprah don’t decide to indulge too much in this direction…
As this blog sees it: A vague, shared emotion is no stamped passport to civilized society.
Much more is required of us all.
Christopher Hitchens had some interesting ideas (yes, a man, generally, of the Left no matter how contrarian):
The late Ken Minogue had some thoughts which might shed a little light on our own natures, lest you get too pumped-up.
‘What most people seem to want, however, is to know exactly where they stand and to be secure in their understanding of their situation.’
From another reader (a record at this blog!): Robert Tracinski at The Federalist also offers reflection upon the year’s events, so reserve your right to be free from culture warriors of all stripes:
‘This is why I’ve written far more about the culture war this year than I ever expected (and the excerpts above are just a sampling). It has become an urgent necessity to push back against the resurgence of totalizing political correctness, to carve out room for the freedom to disagree—and to lay down the outlines of what a third alternative in the culture war looks like.’
Looking back, was this the most important development of the year?