2004 June 21 Monday
Roger Kimball On Samuel Huntington

Writing in The New Criterion Roger Kimball has an interesting discussion of the ideas Samuel P. Huntington in an essay entitled Institutionalizing our demise: America vs. multiculturalism.

The threat shows itself in many ways, from culpable complacency to the corro- sive imperatives of “multiculturalism” and political correctness. (I use scare quotes because what generally travels under the name of “multiculturalism” is really a form of mono-cultural animus directed against the dominant culture.) In essence, as Huntington notes, multiculturalism is “anti-European civilization… . It is basically an anti-Western ideology.” The multiculturalists claim to be fostering a progressive cultural cosmopolitanism distinguished by superior sensitivity to the downtrodden and dispossessed. In fact, they encourage an orgy of self-flagellating liberal guilt as impotent as it is insatiable. The “sensitivity” of the multiculturalist is an index not of moral refinement but of moral vacuousness. As the French essayist Pascal Bruckner observed, “An overblown conscience is an empty conscience.”

Compassion ceases if there is nothing but compassion, and revulsion turns to insensitivity. Our “soft pity,” as Stefan Zweig calls it, is stimulated, because guilt is a convenient substitute for action where action is impossible. Without the power to do anything, sensitivity becomes our main aim, the aim is not so much to do anything, as to be judged. Salvation lies in the verdict that declares us to be wrong.

Multiculturalism is a moral intoxicant; its thrill centers around the emotion of superior virtue; its hangover subsists on a diet of nescience and blighted “good intentions.”

Steve Sailer has made a similar argument (which I'm not doing justice here) that left-liberal elites take a number of positions on questions of public policy and culture in order to appear in their peer group to be morally superior to other whites (notably whites with less education, whites in the Old South, and whites who do less intellectual work). Striking these moral poses is in most cases not motivated chiefly by genuine concern about other ethnic or racial groups. The utility of the poses derives more from being able to appear and feel superior to others. But it is also a means by which to signal one's membership in a smaller group to others of that group. So then many intellectuals are promoting ideas that are causing decay of our civilization simply in order to position themselves at higher points in status hierarchies.

Also see my previous posts Samuel P. Huntington Comes Out Against Immigration From Mexico and Samuel P. Huntington On Nationalism Versus Cosmopolitanism and William H. McNeill On Samuel P. Huntington.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 June 21 02:43 AM  Immigration Societal Decay

noone said at June 21, 2004 5:36 AM:

I use the phrase "moral exhibitionist" to describe such people.

A few years ago Rob Riener spent $1 MM of his own money to push thru a tax hike on tobacco.As anyone who bothered to look would know,most of the 25% of people who smoke are down the socio-economic ladder.

Reiner spent $1MM of his own money to raise taxes on poor people and for this he was celebrated in Hollywood.

Now you know why they call him Meathead.

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