Leo: You argue that a college class today on World War II "might emphasize Japanese internment, Rosie the Riveter and the horror of Hiroshima, not Guadacanal and Midway." How can we overcome the obsession with race, class and gender in studying military history?
Hanson: I'm afraid an entire generation must pass first. Those who came of age in the university in the 1960s and 1970s — now department chairmen, deans, senior theses advisors, scholarly associations' presidents, etc — wanted this revolution of easy arm-chair therapeutic moralizing and self-appointed censure of perceive contemporary sins, got it, turned off the students, forfeited hard-won standards, and lost their public readership — and now must suffer the consequences of irrelevancy for a generation. It is not an accident that a David McCullough or John Keegan or Martin Gilbert now writes outside the campus. Vibrant military history has gone on despite, or perhaps even because of the failure of the academia.
Sadly, Hanson is talkin' 'bout my generation. I know firsthand how all that nonsense from the 60's and 70's has totally screwed up academia, because I have had to function in that environment for most of my career.
And the dysfunction is not confined to the field of Military history, but extends to virtually all subject areas in academia. My own field has certainly not been immune to the postmodern perversion; and some might argue that it was actually psychiatry and psychology which unleashed the "therapeutic psychobabble" that has become the predominant vehicle of postmodern rhetoric, with its emphasis on self-esteem, feelings, multiculturalism, political correctness, and the eternal entitlement of endless victimhood.
In the postmodern world, reason, truth and reality are mere subjective constructs and nothing is absolute; what happened in the past is to be interpreted only by the standards of the moment; and morality is also relative, except when you are a member of an approved victimhood group and are automatically granted absolute moral authority (except in certain cases, apparently).
As I noted in a previous post:
One of the wondrous aspects of postmodern rhetoric, where reality and truth are only relative, is that anybody's "reality" is as good as anybody else's. For the dedicated postmodernist, polls and opinion are the final arbiters of truth; and the results of a poll or two, constructed along ideological lines to fit a particular template, is all you need to confirm your reality. Reality is a matter of opinion (simply ignore any polls that don't agree with your reality, of course).
This type of micraculous rhetoric can even determine today, what history will say many tomorrows from now. With enough repetition and passion, "history" can be set in stone in the temporal present! Extremely convenient for anyone who wants to avoid confronting their own contradictions in the present.
The rhetorical passion and word play is mere camouflage for the inherent philosophical and psychological contradictions that the postmodern left exploits in order to achieve and maximize political power. They are perfectly aware that their positions don't make any sense and can be refuted by anyone with basic knowledge of logic and logical fallacies; but their goal is to maintain the psychological denial necessary to believe in the left's ideology. Interpreting this defense and exposing it is essential to countering that ideology.
Stephen Hicks asks this important question (page 184):The pattern therefore raises the question of which side of the contradiction is deepest for postmodernism. Is it that psotmodernists really are committed to relativism, but occasionally lapse into absolutism? Or are the absolutist commitments deepest and the relativism a rhetorical cover?
The possibility that the relativism is primary can be ruled out with some thought. If the modern leftist truly embraced relativism, then you would not see the uniformity of their politics or their reactions to events in the world. Instead, you would be able to observe an infinite number of postmodern leftist opinions and beliefs from all over the political spectrum. And, have you? Or, have you noticed that their opinions march completely in lockstep with their political ideology?
I must conclude from that observation that the moral relativism they preach so relentlessly as part of their multicultural drivel; and which equates the unceasing and institutional barbarity of terror groups like Al Qaeda (see here) with U.S. troops in Iraq; equates the deliberate targeting of innocents with herculean efforts to spare innocent life; equates Bush with Hitler; Iraq with Vietnam; etc. etc. are simple rhetorical devices that are being used to manipulate and advance their fundamentally socialist / totalitarian agenda.
That is why they can easily ignore any evidence that contradicts their arguments; never acknowledge that their arguments (or more precisely, their beliefs) have been debunked; instead, they simply redefine words or resort to word games (the various meanings of "is" for example); or move the goalposts (those aren't the WMD's we were looking for) when convenient.
At any rate, it occurs to me that perhaps I am wasting my time fighting so relentlessly against all this postmodern psychobabble. Most of the people on the left are not going to experience an epiphany and see the light of reason (a few may); nor are they about to abandon their dysfunctional and warped perpective of the world, because it is far too convenient and pleasurable to imagine their feelings are the center of the universe. For the committed leftist, slavery and death are not too high a price to pay just to be able to feel good and virtuous about themselves.
But perhaps, as Hanson suggests, all it will take is a generation or so to sweep out all the intellectual garbage that now clutters our campuses, warps our political discourse, and undermines Western Civilization. Maybe--just maybe--the postmodernists are a merely a transient evolutionary diversion (sort of like the Dodo) that arose out of the decaying remnants of failed 20th century socialist utopians; and which will quite naturally and deservedly become extinct after their nihilistic antics take them out of history and into the annals of comedy.
That is, if the Mohammedan angels don't take them-- and the rest of us-- out of history first.
Makes you want to Howl with exasperation doesn't it?
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,
who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats
floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tene- ment roofs
who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the
scholars of war,
who were expelled from the academies for crazy & publishing obscene odes on the windows of the skull,
who cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burn- ing their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror
through the wall....