Cultural Revolutions

Immoral Triumphs

Clyde Wilson once remarked that, if one were to distill multiculturalism to its essence, one would be left with nothing at all.  As he put it, multiculturalism means many fashions, mutable and discardable, but no culture.  An unintentional corroboration comes from a recent article dismissing “declinism” in our northeastern magazine of empire, The New Yorker.  It’s entitled “Decline, Fall, Rinse, Repeat: Is America Going Down?” (September 12), and as one can guess from the sarcastic tone, the answer is no.  Staff writer Adam Gopnik disdains all theories of civilizational decline from Spengler onward as curmudgeonly or idiosyncratic variations on a Shakespearean theme of “much ado about nothing.”  There is little of substance to any of them, he says; and besides, they have all been proved wrong.  He then reduces “Western” civilization to three great “moral achievements”: feminism, civil rights for homosexuals, and anti­racism: “What’s worth saving about the ‘West’ is the moral achievements that have flowed from it.  The emancipation of women and their integration on equal terms in education, the granting of civil rights to homosexuals, the removal, at least formally, of racial discrimination—these are not a common feature of prosperous or declining empires but unique moral achievements of this one.  There’s no pattern...

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