The Triumph Of The Trite

The opening chapter of Paul Johnson’s Modern Times: A History of the World from the 20’s to the ’80s, relates the reporting, academic as well as journalistic, of the discovery of the theory of relativity – and the intellectual shockwave it sent through the intelligentsia and technocracy of the day.

Which was dwarfed, over time, by the side-effects of what it helped introduce – relativism, a version of the universe very much at odds with the Western Judeochristian notions of truth, creating an intellectual climate where materialistic philosophies like Progressivism, Marxism, Socialism and all manners of intellectual and (eventually) political totalitarianism throve.

Modern Times goes on to relate the history of that struggle – both World Wars, the (first) apex of Marxism, the West’s (first) attempt at suicide in the ’60s and ’70s, and ends (in its first edition) right around the elections of Reagan and Thatcher – both hopeful developments (that led, in the second, early ’90s edition, to a little burst of unaccustomed triumphalism from the normally utterly sober Johnson, relating the collapse of Communism.

Reading this piece in Federalist, it appears relativism won the rematch – at least, in regards to how the latest generation views “reality”:

Reading this piece in Federalist, it appears relativism won the rematch – at least, in regards to how the latest generation views “reality”…

“In 1998,” Derek Thompson wrote, “The Wall Street Journal and NBC News asked several hundred young Americans to name their most important values. Work ethic led the way—naturally. After that, large majorities picked patriotism, religion, and having childre“Twenty-one years later,” Thompson continued, “the same pollsters asked the same questions of today’s 18-to-38-year-olds—members of the Millennial and Z generations. The results, published last week in The Wall Street Journal, showed a major value shift among young adults. Today’s respondents were 10 percentage points less likely to value having children and 20 points less likely to highly prize patriotism or religion.”

The good news: there’s a vacuum out there. Nature – and the human mind and soul – abhor vacuums.

The bad news: the “other side”, being intellectual empty carbs, are much better at filling vacuums quickly than the hard-to-digest protein of the cultural right.

I suggest reading the whole thing.

3 thoughts on “The Triumph Of The Trite

  1. The sequence went something like this:
    God is truth.
    There is no god, material reality is truth.
    Material reality is a creation of the human mind.
    Human minds are the creation of power.
    Power is the truth, the truth is power.

  2. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 08.18.21 : The Other McCain

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