“[O]ne cannot abstract from the historical situation of the nation or attack the cultural identity of the people. Consequently, one cannot passively accept, still less actively support, groups which by force or by the manipulation of public opinion take over the State apparatus and unjustly impose on the collectivity an imported ideology contrary to the culture of the people.”
– Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Clearly it is not science but rather scientism which is central to the society depicted in Aldous Huxley’s 1931 science fiction classic, Brave New World. Toward the end of this dystopian novel about a hedonistic global order comprised of shallow, self-absorbed clones, one member of the ruling elite admits that he and his fellow rulers are deeply suspicious of any sort of intellectual exploration. “Science is dangerous,” explains the World Controller, “we have to keep it most carefully chained and muzzled.” True, the elite constantly bombards its biomanufactured subjects with propaganda about scientific achievements, yet what slogans like “Science Is Everything” actually refer to is not science as traditionally understood but a kind of god, an absolute authority figure which demands unquestioning obedience to the status quo in exchange for the creature comforts of advanced technology. Science as the pursuit of truth has long since been banished by the soft-totalitarian global government, since such truth might provoke reflection about the ultimate nature of the cosmos and thereby destabilize society.
I found myself recalling all this as I read James Kalb’s new book, Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It (Angelico Press, 2013). A timely, incisive work, Against Inclusiveness builds upon themes introduced in Kalb’s previous work, The Tyranny of Liberalism, and presents a precise, methodical examination of the real-life dystopia we inhabit. “[S]cientism and postmodernism go together,” Kalb observes, “and the two can exist independently of actual science.” The rationalist who denies the soul, the deconstructionist who denies the ability to know anything at all, and the globalist who denies national identity are all working together to dehumanize the planet, as it turns out:
In effect scientism tells us that there are no transcendent goods, just desires, that there are no essences of things that we should respect, and that the world is what we make of it. From this it follows that the rational approach to politics, social life, and morality is to treat the world as a resource and turn the social order into a kind of machine for giving people in equal measure whatever they happen to want, as long as what they want fits the smooth working of the machine.
Human beings themselves become mere cogs, continues Kalb. “To demand inclusiveness is to demand that these human components be distinguished only by reference to the demands of the machine and otherwise be treated as interchangeable.”
Neutral though the social machine purports to be, it inevitably exhibits de facto preferences. Those motivated solely by individualistic appetites for “career, consumption, and diversion” fit the machine’s operation far more neatly than do those trying to live by complex and demanding traditions. In the short run, at least, it is much simpler to satisfy the self-absorbed hedonist of a brave new world than the man with deep attachments to a religion, family, homeland, and culture. From the point of view of the globalist technocrat, the desire for stuff is much simpler to satisfy than the desire for a particular way of life lived in a particular community.
Upon closer inspection even the technocrat’s supposed enthusiasm for efficiency and empiricism proves phony; whenever new evidence casts doubt on the feasibility of the hallowed liberal paradigm, both efficiency and empiricism go straight out the window. Data suggesting affirmative action policies have lowered educational standards—and even harmed their intended beneficiaries—are rarely aired before the public. Feverish witch-hunts directed against former Harvard president Lawrence Summers and eminent scientist James Watson suggest that the left’s reputation for thoughtful, civil, and rational discourse is more than a little exaggerated. Nor did the slaying of more than a dozen soldiers by US Army officer and openly militant Muslim Nidal Hassan inspire serious, high-level reflection about the practical impact of political correctness on American military policy. No, to the contrary, the Army Chief of Staff saw in the massacre an opportunity to reiterate his quasi-religious devotion to diversity as a sacred end unto itself.
It is the enlightened egalitarian progressive who most earnestly wages a “war on science,” argues Kalb, and that war is but part of a broader campaign to ensure anyone and everyone is able to feel at home anywhere and everywhere. This absurd quest translates into the abolition of home as such:
In fact inclusiveness destroys community by reducing the importance of personal ties, making us interchangeable with others and making our goals as much a matter of individual choice as possible. There is nothing special to distinguish shoppers at a shopping mall from each other, so there are no divisions among them. They do not constitute a community, however, because there is nothing that brings them together other than a common interest in acquiring consumer goods. Each has come for his own purposes. They have very few positive duties toward each other and they could just as easily be somewhere else, if they found some minor advantage in doing so.
The only people who belong in the godless and nationless unity envisaged by John Lennon’s “Imagine,” then, are narcissistic consumers.
Part of the problem today, Kalb contends, is that a great many Christians have been duped into taking inclusiveness for the quintessence of Christian ethics. To the contrary, progressive Christianity is little more than “poeticized liberalism,” and the contemporary tendency to conflate the Gospel with liberal inclusiveness is a distortion resembling the subservience too many English churchmen offered to Henry VIII. The Apostle Paul, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and various popes seem to be on Kalb’s side here: Pius XII, for instance, tells us that “[t]here exists an order, established by God, which requires a more intense love and a preferential good done to those people that are joined to us by special ties,” while Bl. John Paul II speaks of spiritual gifts we receive via our history, our culture, and “the national community to which we belong.”
Kalb believes such statements to be both important and grievously overlooked. They imply, after all, that no one genuinely concerned with man and his soul can embrace inclusiveness as now understood:
If particular cultures and national communities have such importance for the way we become human and connect to God, then an understanding of diversity and inclusion that abolishes legitimate boundaries between them and so makes them nonfunctional cannot be acceptable, and multiculturalism, which deprives every culture of any setting of its own in which it can function as authoritative, must be wrong.
By no means does this review exhaust the topics addressed by Against Inclusiveness, for as brief as the book is, it succeeds in carefully exploring and connecting an astonishing variety of issues. Why is modern man so obsessed with being cool, and for that matter what is “coolness”? Might liberalism tend to promote the very hatred and divisiveness it claims to suppress? How are the conceptions of rationality held by Cardinal Newman and Blaise Pascal critical for any attempt to improve how we think about God, the world, and ourselves? By asking provocative questions such as these Kalb and other authors and thinkers strive to revive the moral framework of the West, to recover the only vision potent enough to supplant a stale liberal orthodoxy that has long since outlived its usefulness.
Hopefully books like Against Inclusiveness are just the beginning. Our civilization will pull out of its downward spiral into dystopia only if more men dare to stand up and ask politically-incorrect questions of their own.
Against Inclusiveness: How the Diversity Regime is Flattening America and the West and What to Do About It
By James Kalb
Angelico Press, 2013
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