May 23, 2019

ROGER KIMBALL: Restoring The Lost Consensus.

Looking around the cultural landscape today, I conclude that we are in the midst of a sort of negative religious revival: let’s call it America’s First Great Awokening.

Evidence of our society’s wokeness—a false awakening sparked by political grievance—is all around. I’d like to begin with what the philosopher Nicholas of Cusa called the “coincidence of opposites.” Unpacking exactly what Cusa meant by that arresting phrase would take us into the thickets of metaphysical speculation. But we see pedestrian examples of that strange coincidence everywhere. Indeed, one of the great tests of our wokeness is the extent to which many things have mutated into their opposites—not awake but awoke. Inversion is a dominant principle of our social life.

Consider, to take just one example, the fate of our colleges and universities. Once upon a time, and it was not so long ago, they were institutions dedicated to the pursuit of truth and the transmission of the highest values of our civilization. Today, most are dedicated to the repudiation of truth and the subversion of those values. In short, they are laboratories for the cultivation of wokeness. This is especially true, with only a handful of exceptions, of the most prestigious institutions. The tonier and more expensive the college, the more woke it is likely to be.

There are two central tenets of the woke philosophy. The first is feigned fragility. The second is angry intolerance. The union of fragility and intolerance has given us that curious and malevolent hybrid, the crybully, a delicate yet venomous species that thrives chiefly in lush, pampered environments.

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