On the procedural front, its members believed that bureaucratic organizations had grown so large that they outstripped the reach of democratic accountability. The New Left followed the sociologist C. Academics, of course, often found themselves lumped right in. The story of that transformation has been told many times, often in tones of threnodic despair.
The participatory ethos, with its emphasis on decentralization, interacted with the politics of racial solidarity in unforeseen ways. Expectations, moreover, rose faster than conditions could change. If society as a whole seemed unbudgeable, perhaps it was time for specialized subsocieties to rise and flourish. For this reason. On the model of black demands came those of [radical] feminists, Chicanos, American Indians, gays, lesbians. One grouping after another insisted on the recognition of difference and the protection of their separate and distinct spheres.
Gitlin saw this as a tragedy. The culture wars amounted to the Right occupying the heights of power as a miscellany of interest groups identified with the Left marched on the English department. Twenty years ago, this was a conventional view. While the Democrats were busy making concessions to the Republicans, the Left had become sullen, arcane, and merely observant.
It had become Henry Adams with tenure and a ponytail. Its goal is to recast the culture wars so that they seem important in their own right. His point is that these episodes now look less like distractions from one grand struggle and more like harbingers of another. They appear more significant now that the host of every awards show makes nervous jokes about the whiteness of the nominees, the CEO of a major corporation is forced to resign for having a view of marriage that was nearly universal twenty-five years ago, and even a liberal lion like Stephen Colbert is attacked within days of his first show because of the racial makeup of his writing staff.
Hartman is right that elements of the New Left goaded us in this direction. So did mainstream liberalism.
But A War for the Soul of America does not sufficiently explain the relationship between the two. However, it is possible to flip the emphasis. As Louis Menand wrote in ,. It was in a sense the epitome of life in the liberal society.
It produced the series of Supreme Court cases, beginning with Mapp v. Ohio , that applied federal due process requirements to the states via the 14 th Amendment; the criminal rights cases— Escobedo v. Illinois , Gideon v. Wainright , Miranda v. Sims —one man, one vote; the Voting Rights Act of ; the free speech cases Times v. Sullivan and Brandenburg v.
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Cultural war argumentative essay
Wade ; the Fair Housing Act of The New Left was not responsible for the enduring conflict over abortion, to take one especially striking example. Hartman points to changing attitudes about homosexuality to support his contention that the culture wars are finished. Homophobia is on the wane and public support for gay marriage is up, dramatically so. Hartman is undeniably right that homosexuality is no longer such a divisive subject in our national conversations but it is worth making a distinction between culture wars issues that may be blunted and others that will always be sharp. Most important of all, arguably, are the controversies that linger in public education.
Under these conditions, the capacity for passionate disagreement about what to teach the 50 million children and adolescents enrolled in public school is enormous. Curriculum disputes in the culture wars idiom are not going away anytime soon. Is American history a triumph or a tragedy? Should it be celebrated or critiqued? There is still a fierce and irreconcilable tension between the Howard Zinn expose exploitation-and-injustice approach to history, and the promote patriotism approach favored by Lynne Cheney.
Grassroots and underground media keep the tribes up to date on opinions, with wildly different perceptions of the same event. Memetic armadas are being crafted in neighboring ports. Fake news has only just begun. Atomization is the reduction of a thing to its elementary particles. It is the state of separateness.
Social atomization, or social alienation, is the process by which individuals come to experience themselves primarily as separate individuals who are not part of a greater whole. The resulting freedom is accompanied by feelings of isolation, alienation, and depression. In an atomizing society, the roles and responsibilities that were the province of kith and kin are increasingly commoditized into transactions with strangers. This incentivizes individuals to treat one another as instruments.
In Buberian terms, they engage in I-It relating. By doing so the individual transforms himself into an instrument, ready to be used by the other. When the marketing mentality reigns supreme it indicates that a Gemeinschaft , a society of subjective binding, has been replaced by a Gesellschaft , a society of contractual binding. This leaves us in a new normal of alienation from self and other.
This is the belonging crisis. Without it we are bowling alone, longing for a team to play on. To mitigate loneliness, anxiety, and other adverse conditions related to lack of belonging, people are primed to fly into the arms of others. All they need is an offer of togetherness — and a few convincing memes. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected. If he had, it might have softened the utopianism of this mission statement. McLuhan, a man ahead of his time, was no Pollyanna.
He foresaw that the new media would have a retribalizing effect on man. Why is this? Philosopher Byung-Chul Han has an elegant answer: Distance, or lack thereof.
A society without respect, without the pathos of distance, paves the way for the society of scandal. When everything is laid bare, respect vanishes; our proximity exposes all of our ugliness. This is the proximity crisis. Good fences make good neighbors, and the power of media has flattened all social fences. McLuhan eventually favored a global theater analogy over the global village, to indicate that we are all becoming actors in a repertory of theatrical performances. Thanks to their mutual exclusivity, these performances are becoming increasingly warlike and less theatrical by the day.
Twitter, a platform that lends itself to sharing propositional memes, has become a central battleground of the new culture war. It is where mutex memeplexes cannot escape from each other. It is where distance evaporates.
Is the image of a beetle hopelessly attempting to have sex with an empty beer bottle the perfect metaphor for the state of humanity? This phenomenon is known as an evolutionary trap: adaptive instincts turn maladaptive due to exposure to supernormal stimuli; magnified and more attractive versions of evolved stimulus. Nikolaas Tinbergen, the ethologist who coined the term supernormal stimuli, demonstrated that he could trick birds, fish, and insects into evolutionary traps using exaggerated dummy objects designed to trigger their instincts.
Whether it be junk food, laugh tracks, pornography, or likes on social media, these artificial triggers addict us and hijack our agency. Tristan Harris, a former Design Ethicist at Google and founder of the nonprofit Time Well Spent, makes the argument that there is an asymmetrical battle for our attention. On one side, we have evolved instincts suited to a bygone ecology. On the other is an army of high-IQ engineers, informed by Ivy League persuasion labs, who are tasked with creating algorithms aimed solely at capturing and holding our attention. In the interest of appeasing shareholders, large social media companies battle over the attention economy, reducing our agency and turning us into memetic addicts along the way.
The pervasiveness of social media has created the sobriety crisis. Addiction, simply defined, is the compulsive engagement in pleasurable substances or behaviors despite their negative consequences. This is our new norm, and it leaves us highly vulnerable to the predation of self-interested actors. Like the jewel beetle being devoured by foraging ants, our reduced agency leaves us blind and defenseless to actors with misaligned agendas.
The U. They even arranged pro- and anti-Trump rallies to occur at the same time, all in the service of destabilization. A study by marketing professor Jonah Berger showed that anger increases the likelihood to share memes. Outrage porn is the supernormal stimuli of the culture war. It is not only Russia who engages in information warfare.
Other state actors, terrorist organizations, lone wolf hackers, and big data mercenary firms like Cambridge Analytica engage in memetic operations. Minds are being weaponized around the world, to advance agendas they may not support or even know about. We find ourselves in a warfare crisis. Without a Geneva Convention to govern how unfriendly actors must conduct themselves in information warfare, we are in memetic anarchy.
To summarize:. N one of these crises alone created the new memetic tribes, but the combination of all six made them unavoidable. The meaning and reality crises created longing for a collective is and ought. The belonging and proximity crises put the existentially isolated in close memetic quarters with those they can love and hate.