Modernity has turned out to be not so much an innovation as a conclusion, a feverish squandering of the European cultural legacy. The incessant “transgressing” of boundaries, the eradication of hierarchy and distinction that promised “emancipation” have ultimately yielded cultural and social vacuity.
At its most basic, civilization is the imposition of form upon chaos. It is the elaboration of contrasts, distinctions, hierarchies. It is what happens in Genesis when God creates the world and puts everything in its proper place, the invention of culture allegorized as the articulation of nature.
This arising is always a signifying erection, a triumph of the phallic power, of the father over the mother, Marduk over Tiamat. Conversely, the now-reflexive denigration of the phallus and the elevation of inclusion over distinction are signs of a regression into chaos. What is promoted as diversity turns out to be the abolition of diversity, an excrementalizing homogenization that dissolves even the fundamental distinction between the sexes. Like every other demolition of supposed conventional infringements on “human rights,” this postmodern queering of distinctions has delivered us into the clutches of an even straiter dogma. As Jacques Lacan once quipped, “if God doesn’t exist, then nothing at all is permitted . . .”
The abolition of patriarchal authority does not lead to greater freedom but paradoxically to less because it removes the regulating agency that protects us from unmediated oligarchical tyranny. The destruction of tradition turns out to be the removal of any cultural impediment to the dictatorship of an elite whose moral superiority is predicated on contempt for common mores, values, and sense. Thus, on the principle that no form of discrimination is tolerable, we end up in a topsy-turvy world intolerant of its own most deeply ingrained traditions. Today no culture is more hostile to Western values than Western culture: White guilt is now the supreme expression of white culture, eagerly promoted by corporations and individuals who are themselves paragons of “white privilege.” In a similar vein, in the manner of South Park’s PC Principal, white male virility now displays itself as an exaggerated recoil from maleness and whiteness.
It’s a queer world alright, on its way to turning turtle.