At the urging of Lew Rockwell, I am offering these afterthoughts about my newest book Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt, which the University of Missouri Press began distributing earlier this month. While thematically related to two other books, one published by Princeton two and a half years ago and the other still in the planning stage, this slim volume also deals with topics specific to itself. It shows how a deteriorated Christianity became a helpmate of the managerial state, and looks at the pivotal role of welfare government as an enforcer of political correctness.
Unlike After Liberalism, which explores the plunge from a bourgeois age into mass democracy, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt investigates the ideological foundations of the present managerial politics. This regnant ideology stresses a cult of victims and defends the need for public administration, as an instrument for overcoming the insensitive past. It also draws heavily on the manifestations of Western self-hatred and social guilt that permeate mainline Protestantism and which are now seeping into the Catholic Church and the Evangelical movement.
Contrary to the view that the American state and American churches treat each other with suspicion, my book maintains that liberal Christianity in its updated form helps sustain contemporary political life. It goads on managerial government, providing it pursues a policy of radical resocialization and Western self-rejection. Whence the subtitle of my book "Toward a Secular Theocracy," which is meant to underscore the paradoxical nature of political secularism, which calls on the state to destroy traditional religion for the sake of an alternative worldly faith. In the 1930s Eric Voegelin recognized this phenomenon when he coined the phrase "political religion."
There are two arguments made in my book that should interest readers of this website. One, I refuse to treat political correctness as an academic eccentricity and present it instead as a tool of managerial control. Universities are not the only context in which pc and its accompanying mantra about diversity have taken over. Churches, corporations, and the media push the same partylines, but without government interventions we would not be worrying about the legal consequences of not paying sufficient respect to state-designated victims. This fact is so obvious that one has to speculate on the reasons it is ignored — particularly on what today passes for the Right.
The spreading thought control promoted by government agencies escapes notice for the same reason that the quasi-totalitarian situation that the post-Marxist Left has imposed on European societies escapes the notice of Freedom House. Such recognition interferes with other agendas, such as global democratic imperialist ones that require the vigorous assistance of "democratic" regimes.
Two, there is no way to separate multicultural ideology from an imperialist mission. Anyone who doubts this should read the international press, to sense the ideological baggage that surrounds American imperial expansion. Fighting "fascism" outside the American empire, building a "multicultural and multi-religious society," as Gen. Wesley Clark in April 1999 gave as the reason for raining bombs on the Serbs, bringing feminism to Arab countries, and diluting their religious traditions, a process that the New York Post (Sept. 8, 2002) rejoiced had already successfully eroded Christianity, which was once "more barbarous and more intolerant of other faiths than Islam," are the everyday justifications for American triumphalism.
Nor does the bogus Right either here or in Europe pull out these justifications simply to win over the Left. Like the other side, which opposes globalism for wacky neo-Marxist reasons, the Right-Center believes in the open-borders and multicultural ideology it preaches. A lead editorial for the Wall Street Journal (Dec. 31, 1999), "It Could Have Been the German Century," written by Francis Fukuyama to welcome the new millennium, recalls ecstatically the defeat of the Central Powers in World War One. Without that fortunate bloody disaster, the "twentieth century might have remained a bourgeois century," that is, one that would not have promoted feminism and a multiracial society.
Although the historical connection between an Allied victory in 1918 and the present hypermodernity seems arbitrary, the revolutionary social values of the neoconservative theorist Fukuyama and of the internationalist paper that showcased him are clear. What distinguishes this Fukuyama Right from the ordinary Left is the willingness to unite with multinational corporations and to appeal to an idiosyncratic (anti-particularistic) American nationalism, based on human-rights language, to achieve the vision of global reconstruction.
A second division between the current Left and the current Right pertains to the concern expressed by neoconservatives about the Left not displaying enough regard for the historical victim status of Jews. Whereas neoconservatives wish to go on exploiting Christian guilt for their purposes, the Left has chosen the Palestinians over the Israelis as preferential victims of Western society. Note this difference is not about the value of victimology but about what guilt trips should be laid on whom.
The neoconservative war against academic radicalism is fuelled by similar concerns: Universities have turned against Zionist nationalism and balk at the military interventions proclaimed by neoconservatives and neoliberals, to spread human rights and democracy. Far be it from me to defend those academic kooks now under attack, after having endured their assorted lunacies for more than three decades. But they are not key players in the political battles of our time and do not seem any worse than governments, journalists, and churches as subverters of an older bourgeois civilization.
In the last chapter an explanation is given about why multiculturalism does not furnish beliefs and sentiments that are useful in the long run for managerial elites. No hope is expressed about converting these elites, who believe as they do because of a moral disposition as well as because of concrete interests. Besides, these elites and their minions will make sure my ideas are not widely advertised, except as an illustration of psychopathology.
Nonetheless, let me sum up this final argument for the benefit of LRC readers. Multicultural beliefs inevitably create a condition of cultural fluidity, characterized by xenophilia and by a weakening of bourgeois morality. The faithful bearers of such beliefs thereby set up conditions favorable to their own replacement. Although state planners, social engineers, corporate pals of big government, and American imperialists all benefit from our ideologically driven regime, they are reaping what may be short-term gains.
Neither the politics of guilt nor the glorification of diversity leads to real patriotism; though they can contribute to political expansion at home and abroad, they also undermine the respect for tradition and ordered liberty that is necessary for social stability. And porous borders here and in Europe that bring foreign populations that are an economic drain and represent alien national and civilizational loyalties will test the system even more. Such problems are apparent to the more rational elements of the political elite, particularly the neoconservatives, who advocate "democratic" indoctrination in public schools and the propagation of their own form of civil religion.
While no attempt is offered to defend these intended mind washers, I do point out that they have some awareness of what can happen if diversity spins out of control. Unfortunately most of those in power and their considerable cheering gallery are wedded to a radical concept of diversity, which rules out a more moderate pluralistic version of the American creed. Moreover, given the firmly entrenched politics of guilt and the support of Latin American immigration from all parts of the political elite, including Christian denominations and the media, it is doubtful that the current multicultural formulation of pluralism is about to change.
A warning may be in order. The long digression in my footnotes about the relative ranking of victim groups by the powers that be was not written tongue in cheek. It is intended to show what every schoolchild and certainly college student in our country knows in his bones. That non-victims put up with being jerked around in this way indicates how desperate they are for government favors, how anxious they are about not conforming, and/or to how extensively what Nietzsche called "slave morality" has eaten away their brains.
September 24, 2002