In her book, “Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning,” Nancy Pearcey traces the different types of modern, post-modern, and post-Christian Western thought and the resultant effects on culture (especially art). While the book is relatively straightforward and non-technical, the amount of cultural and intellectual history covered can be a bit daunting for many, so I have chosen to focus on the idea of deconstructionism and Political Correctness, to show how “ideas have consequences,” and why certain things are taught today, especially in universities.
In a nutshell, deconstructionism is a literary and artistic theory that assumes that the meaning behind a given text or work is found in the reader, not in the author or creator. This means that literature is simply a “tissue of quotations,” that are supposed to be sorted out and explained. There is really no limit in the meaning, since the meaning is found in the reader or interpreter alone. One is then supposed to be “creative” in interpreting, choosing the meaning to be found, and this has been expanded to include areas such as theology or history. Oddly, many deconstructionists become angry when people “misinterpret” what they say, which seems to imply there is meaning to be found after all. One wonders what the point of writing in the first place is in such a view.
Regardless of this contradiction, certain remnants of Marxist are thought are still clinging in certain circles, even though it has been discredited as an economic theory. These two streams (deconstructionism and Marxist thought) are then combined in many arts and humanities departments. This leads to individuals associating themselves with certain “victim groups” and viewing any sort of historical, artistic, or theological study through this identity politics lens. Also inherent in this view is suspicion of any sort of “metanarrative” (an overarching idea or system that explains everything from the beginning of man to the end). This suspicion is what leads to buzzwords and phrases such as “diversity is a value,” or “multiculturalism.” I will now quote Pearcey demonstrating where this thinking leads:
“…only select groups are singled out to represent “diversity”-certified victim groups based on race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. And the analysis of the problem is typically derived from Marxism. Some group is said to be victimized and oppressed, and the path to liberation is to revolt against the oppressors.
This explains why art and literature departments on the university campus have become thoroughly politicized…Politically correct regimes are not liberating students to think for themselves. They are turning students into cadres of self-absorbed reactionaries ready to take orders from the faddish theorist of the moment.” (Pearcey, 241-242)
This is also why any sort of artistic endeavor that is “innovative,” “revolutionary,” “subversive,” or “liberating,” is automatically better than anything traditional, religious, etc…Because the west has abandoned the Classical Christian worldview in favor of such nonsensical relativism, is it any surprise why new types of “rights” and the glorification of “democracy” take place? Even though the view is inherently self-refuting, it is extremely popular because it allows one to choose an identity, rather than be accountable to the created order. While it claims to be liberating, the view actually is imperialist, insisting that it alone “has the ability to see through everyone else’s underlying interest and motives-to deconstruct and debunk them. Thereby it effectively silences every other perspective.” (Pearcey, 242). This also leads to labeling any sort of counterargument as “bigoted,” “patriarchal,” any sort of phobic, etc. as a means of silencing opposition.
Classical Christians and western traditionalists need to be ready to challenge such suicidal (the view kills itself) thinking and offer a better and more truthful alternative (of course that means I’m part of the “problem” because I have a “metanarrative” and am therefore bigoted). Any thoughts?