I announced to the world last week that we are descending into the dark ages (following the Giambattista Vico philosophy of history model). Historian Victor Davis Hanson must have read my "dark ages" and cycle of history posts of last week, as he has written his own analysis on our descent into dark age barbarism.
There is a discussion of populist Hillary, mattress girl, and trigger warnings, among other CE favorites. Here is an excerpt:
History is not static and it does not progress linearly. There was more free speech and unimpeded expression in 5th-century Athens than in Western Europe between 1934-45, or in Eastern Europe during 1946-1989. An American could speak his mind more freely in 1970 than now. Many in the United States had naively believed that the Enlightenment, the U.S. Constitution, and over two centuries of American customs and traditions had guaranteed that Americans could always take for granted free speech and unfettered inquiry.
That is an ahistorical assumption. The wish to silence, censor, and impede thought is just as strong a human emotion as the desire for free expression — especially when censorship is cloaked in rhetoric about fairness, equality, justice, and all the other euphemisms for not allowing the free promulgation of ideas.
George Orwell devoted his later years to warning us that while the fascist method of destroying free expression was easily identified (albeit only with difficulty combatted), the leftwing totalitarian impulse to squelch unpopular speech was far harder to resist — couched as it was in sloganeering about the “people” and “social justice.” It is easy to object to the speech codes of a self-interested, corrupt dictator in sunglasses and epaulettes, but difficult to fight censorship that allegedly helps the poor, minorities, and the helpless.
We can all but write off today’s university as a place of free expression. In the age of Obama, zealots in the university have clamped down on any thought deemed reactionary. “Trigger warning” is a euphemism for trying either to censure literature or to denigrate it. “Safe space” is another term for the segregation of campus areas by race, class, or ideology. “Hate speech” has become a pejorative for uncomfortable truth.
A final symptom of an un-Enlightened age is the assumption that lies are truth because untruth offers collective benefits, while veracity disrupts social justice. Take Obamacare. Almost every promoted tenet of the Affordable Care Act proved false: premiums went up; so did deductibles and co-payments. Millions lost not just their doctors but their existing health care plans as well. The much ballyhooed health care website proved dysfunctional. Newly passed mandates were unlawfully suspended to enhance the Obama reelection effort.
Nationalized health care did not per se reduce the deficit, nor will its protocols contain escalating costs without radical curtailments in service. Mandatory electronic record keeping did not free physicians up to spend quality time with their patients, but often resulted in the very opposite with doctors typing into computer screens while distracted from patients’ inquiries. Again, no matter. Obamacare is now hailed as the president’s “signature achievement” and is becoming institutionalized in the manner of Social Security.
The country is terrified about having a rational and logical discussion about almost every great issue of our times: unsustainable national debts and deficits, the new nexus between leftwing plutocracy and populism, the viability of Social Security and Medicare, deteriorating race relations, the Soviet-style American campus, global warming, and the deterioration of medical care. Instead, to preclude honest talk, we offer perfunctory charges of sexism and racism, and seek cover in “fairness” and “equality.”
The redistributionist, equality-of-result state — fueled by a national progressive ideology — is the new deity that determines what is free expression. Blasphemy is now defined as daring to use logic and evidence to expose the state’s failed, deductive tenets.
This descent into the Dark Ages will not end well. It never has in the past.