17 October 2010

Has the tide of cultural imperialism turned?

When grandees travelled to the provinces of the Roman Empire, they would observe with often ill-concealed scorn how the provincial elite did not just copy metropolitan fashions, but over-did it in their eagerness to show how up-to-date they were. So it has been with the American Empire, with the servile British leading Europe in the rush to embrace whatever pseudo-ideological fad the vast US academic establishment spewed forth, principally political correctness, eek!-o-freakery, and multiculturalism.

When the first British eek!-o-freaks started to get air-time, they even pronounced "pollution" in the American way (pol-oo-shun), and British academics fell over themselves to adopt PC and multi-culty verbiage, some in the hope of getting a much better-paying job in the States, the rest for the same reason the pseudo-ideologies swept through the American academy: they attracted new funding and gave birth to whole new departments.
Actually, it all started with the last significant example of reverse cultural imperialism, which was when the American humanities faculties uncritically adopted post-modernism, post-structuralism, and the technique of deconstruction drawn from the convoluted writings of the Jewish pied-noir Jacques Derrida.* Amplified back at Europe through the prism of American power and wealth, it took hold in a manner that it could never have achieved on the basis of its limited intellectual merits. 

Since the majority of academics are possessed of weak, furtive personalities, there was the additional attraction of being able to disguise their mediocrity with impenetrable verbiage, savagely and fairly satirised by the Postmodernism Generator, which produces a completely meaningless and randomly generated essay every time you click on it. Thus also the self-protective language of the other fads that swept across the Atlantic to be embraced by a European academy that abandoned self-respect in the rush to seem up-to-date.  

During the great, American-led economic boom of the twenty years up to 2006, universities over-expanded and faculties filled up with ever more conformist mediocrities, creating a declining spiral of quality and value for money that seems certain, now, to result in a higher education bust. The revelation that the economic boom itself had been in most respects a Ponzi scheme must lead to critical attention being brought to bear by governments, at last, on the poor returns obtained by pumping money into the higher education bubble.

I have previously gloated, more than enough I think, on the hissing sound as hot air leaks out of the climate catastrophist bubble. So it is with great pleasure that I can now gloat over the fact that German Chancellor  Angela Merkel has denounced multi-culturalism for the pernicious, ghettoising, and demoralising cult it has always been. I take further pleasure in underlining that the Merkel link is to a BBC report, since in Britain the Bitchy Boys have been the main multiculty evangelists.

Just a thought - but is it possible that all of this may relate to the fact that American-led liberal imperialism has failed so spectacularly in the Middle East, simultaneously with the failure of the US economy to emerge from the bust part of the last boom-and-bust cycle as quickly it has always done in the past? 

Watch this space. The Brits, of course, will be the last to desert the sinking ship. But if you look carefully, there are signs even in Westminster of doubts whether the "special relationship" is worth the candle. Can intellectual emancipation be far behind?

* Long before that, US sociologists copied not only the ideas but even the badly translated terminology of German exemplars, which has been a stone around the neck of that particular pseudo-science ever since.

1 comment:

  1. It is totally unfair of you to say that the American Humanities faculties adopted an 'uncritical' attitude towards Post Modern analyses of texts. In fact it was with the most
    attentive and understanding motives that they adopted a reductive and nonsensical Newspeak language of literary confusion. What a glorious reflection on the integrity of their scholarship.

    Apart from the usual excitement over new French Sociology, the American 'teachers' ( I am unsure whether to call them that) were motivated by the purest motives of completely self-serving self-promotion, aiming at a take-over of Literary faculties by pseudo-marxist feminists along with minority allies well equipped with post-colonial approaches to the falsification of the meaning of standard texts.

    The wonderful advantage of these nouveau Derridavistas was that they no longer had to exhibit actual textual scholarship (as indeed Derrida himself had done) but only to talk the talk and to confuse the motives of older authors (Jane Austen) with guilt-tripping modern class warfare analyses.

    After a boring decade or two of this faux- Marxist propaganda, and the attendant harm that it did to the young entrusted to the charge of its mouthpieces, much of this nouvelle vague seems to have ebbed. Thank God for small favours if indeed this is true.