Friday, November 25, 2005
Replacing indiviual freedom with collectivism, limited government with statism, equal opportunity with group entitlements, free markets with redistributive economics, and American sovereignty with transnational governance.
Why There Is A Culture War
Gramsci and Tocqueville in America
By John Fonte, in Policy Review
The slow but steady advance of Gramscian and Hegelian-Marxist ideas through the major institutions of American democracy, including the Congress, courts, and executive branch, suggests that there are two different levels of political activity in twenty-first century America. On the surface, politicians seem increasingly inclined to converge on the center. Beneath, however, lies a deeper conflict that is ideological in the most profound sense of the term and that will surely continue in decades to come, regardless of who becomes president tomorrow, or four or eight or even 20 years from now.
As we have seen, Tocquevillians and Gramscians clash on almost everything that matters. Tocquevillians believe that there are objective moral truths applicable to all people at all times. Gramscians believe that moral "truths" are subjective and depend upon historical circumstances. Tocquevillans believe that these civic and moral truths must be revitalized in order to remoralize society. Gramscians believe that civic and moral "truths" must be socially constructed by subordinate groups in order to achieve political and cultural liberation. Tocquevillians believe that functionaries like teachers and police officers represent legitimate authority. Gramscians believe that teachers and police officers "objectively" represent power, not legitimacy. Tocquevillians believe in personal responsibility. Gramscians believe that "the personal is political." In the final analysis, Tocquevillians favor the transmission of the American regime; Gramscians, its transformation.
While economic Marxism appears to be dead, the Hegelian variety articulated by Gramsci and others has not only survived the fall of the Berlin Wall, but also gone on to challenge the American republic at the level of its most cherished ideas. For more than two centuries America has been an "exceptional" nation, one whose restless entrepreneurial dynamism has been tempered by patriotism and a strong religious-cultural core. The ultimate triumph of Gramscianism would mean the end of this very "exceptionalism." America would at last become Europeanized: statist, thoroughly secular, post-patriotic, and concerned with group hierarchies and group rights in which the idea of equality before the law as traditionally understood by Americans would finally be abandoned. Beneath the surface of our seemingly placid times, the ideological, political, and historical stakes are enormous.
Posted at 4:51 PM