Let’s tear it all down at the dawn of Great Awokening

Let’s tear it all down at the dawn of Great Awokening, by The Australian’s Editorial Board.

A horrible death in Minneapolis has unleashed a scramble for moral supremacy. The fight is not waged in a robust contest of ideas but through the silencing, deplatforming, bullying and defaming of opponents. It’s a brazen attempt to overthrow what we value in liberal democracy by those who slander it as a system of minority oppression and impoverishment.

An ordinary person, not knowing whether to laugh or cry, may wonder: How did we get to this miserable place? Yet liberalism has been under assault for some time, from within universities and political parties, by oligopolist tech titans and those with control of the cultural ramparts.

Around 1990 the left adopted identity politics, which leads to tribalism. We are now reaping the bitter harvest of the left’s strategy:

The killing of Floyd has exposed an America where trust has evaporated. As US social psychologist Jonathan Haidt observed, the battle between conservatives and progressives is a struggle between “different cultures”, with a descent into tribal identities and inter-group conflicts a threat to democracy itself.

Once a society goes tribal, it’s very hard to detribalize it.

This degradation has its roots in the progressive takeover of universities in the West. The dominant fashions of postmodernism and critical theory junked any pretence of searching for the truth or objectivity, opening the space for rampant identity politics, purity tests and the shutdown of free speech.

The arrival on campus at the turn of the century of millennials, followed soon after by younger, anxious snowflake siblings, supercharged the dynamic. Some have labelled it the “Great Awokening”.

Truth is being killed by a postmodern quest for power, goodies, and moral status by the left. Ignorance reigns, insults rule.

As we’re seeing in the rush to topple monuments, cancel culture shows a profound failure to understand history, where horror and glory are intertwined, often in the same person, and great civilisations have atrocious failings, including near universal slavery. The revival of unironic cheer squads for socialism among Gen Z, who drop “Nazi” as a weapon like grandparents dropped acid, is dispiriting. They clearly know nothing of communism and the bastard symbiosis between Nazis and Stalinists. There’s narcissism at play, for sure, but also a wilful, luxuriant ignorance of history. …

On many measures, the world has never been a better or safer place, although COVID-19 has shocked us out of any complacency about risks to health and harmony. Our enduring values are from the Enlightenment, where science, technology and reason prevailed. That legacy is not completely lost, nor faith in democracy.