We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Roger Kimball is one of too few conservative writers who can lend deep erudition to connect the central tenets of Western civilization with today’s immediate events and concerns. Kimball’s influence is not only through his own writings but his featuring of that of others at his The New Criterion and its blog Arma Virumque (I’ve been overhonored to appear at the blog) and his publishing house Encounter Books.
Now, you have the chance to get in depth with Kimball’s learning and lessons in his new book The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia. Order at this link.
Why does relativism, which begins with a beckoning promise of liberation from “oppressive” moral constraints, so often end in the embrace of immoral constraints that are politically obnoxious? Part of the answer lies in the hypertrophy or perversion of relativism’s conceptual enablers— terms like “pluralism,” “diversity,” “tolerance,” “openness,” and the like. They all name classic liberal virtues, but it turns out that their beneficence depends on their place in a constellation of fixed values. Absent that hierarchy, they rapidly degenerate into epithets in the armory of political suasion. They retain the aura, the emotional charge, of positive values. But in reality they act as moral solvents, as what Gairdner calls “value-dispersing terms that serve as an official warning to accept all behaviours of others without judgment and, most important, to keep all moral opinions private.” In this sense, the rise of relativism encourages an ideology of non-judgmentalism only as a prelude to ever more strident discriminations.
[T]he fruits of egalitarianism are ignorance, the habit of intellectual conformity, and the systematic subjection of cultural achievement to political criteria. In the university, this means classes devoted to pop novels, rock videos, and third-rate works chosen simply because their authors are members of the requisite sex, ethnic group, or social minority. It involves an attack on permanent things for the sake of the trendy and ephemeral. It means students who are graduated not having read Milton or Dante or Shakespeare—or, what is in some ways even worse, who have been taught to regard the works of such authors chiefly as hunting grounds for examples of patriarchy, homophobia, imperialism, or some other politically correct vice. It means faculty and students who regard education as an exercise in disillusionment and who look to the past only to corroborate their sense of superiority and self-satisfaction.
"...an exercise in disillusionment" --yessiree --the physical signal, the gang sign, the genuflection, is the 'smirk', expressing the deliverer's power of trivialization.
Most commonly applied to 'judgementalism', the smirk is itself pure judgementalism --thus commencing a civilizational ping-pong tournament between meaninglessness and trivialization, where the loser wins, and the championship playoff is played in the dark, play-by-play announced by whomever is left alive after the secret silent knife fight in the padlocked press booth.