If there is anything that the Covid phenomenon has shown us, it is that in the third decade of the 21st century, it is precisely our most putatively literate classes that are least capable of accepting the various states of contingency implicit in the work of engaging with the vast complexity of the world.
The book is an act of intimidation. It presages growing governmentalization, it advocates growing governmentalization, and communicates: Obey us or get hurt. Knuckle under or we will hurt you. The book is not only anti-liberal in its political outlook, it is illiberal in its manner of discoursing. Its whole manner is dishonest; the book is disagreeable to any dignified and self-respecting reader.
Government actively steals time. Other peoples’ time is never, ever a consideration. Abject fear is the tool, or in the case of a Census Bureau survey, fear of inundation with “official” emails is the tool. The census bureau (and IRS) actively steal my time. Three years were stolen from the world’s population when fear of a virus overrode rational analysis of its characteristics and effects.
During lockdowns, I opposed prolonged public school closures (and lost my job over it), it was not just children and their right to an education I was standing up for. It was women too. Women who disproportionately are primary caregivers for their children, even while they work full-time. And it was women who dropped out of the workforce in droves during covid, out of sheer necessity in order to educate their children when Zoom school proved useless.
Such attacks are bound to occur, virtually on a daily basis, such as the spectre of renewed lockdowns and mask mandates, alluded to above. This calls for resolute, ingenious activity, modelled on those of Odysseus, as well as perseverance in the quest for reaching one’s cultural and spiritual home. With determination and confidence this can be achieved.
Post-Covid, the crusades of our polarized country continue to play out in the area of children’s literature. Why? Because adults have co-opted the art that used to be a sanctuary for the readers and seekers and thinkers of a new generation. By using school libraries as a battering ram for their political positions, grown people continue stealing from the experiences of children. There is no privacy, or autonomy, for teens in America. Their stories are nothing but cannon fodder for the culture wars.
The same dynamic that Jesus encountered in Nazareth held true today; bringing “glad tidings to the poor” is a popular slogan but very often those who embrace it most quickly care little for being called out for their own sins which prevent delivery of these glad tidings. Sadly, this is precisely what has happened to those whose political history has been tied up with what was once called the labor movement.
That still leaves us with 65-70 percent of the population who are not quite ready to accept the reality of the intense disdain our predatory government and corporate elites have for them, and who still want to believe, in some measure, in the possibility of justice and dignity under the rules of the game as currently constituted.
There are always forces in this world that pull us down into the muck and mire. In our day-to-day pursuit of happiness, desire, entertainment, and survival, it is easy to forget what we have the potential to become. It is easy to get lost in technicalities, in ego trips and in reactionary indignation. If we are the victims of atrocities, it is all the easier to seek our justice in retaliation, viciousness, and brutal revenge. But in a world where everybody sees themselves as the primary and true victim, where does that ultimately leave us?
The only thing that the current, deliberately orchestrated onslaught against culture has in common with Spengler’s diagnosis, a century ago, of the demise of Western culture, is precisely that: the controlled demise of culture. Except that, for Spengler, this was an inescapable process that unfolded in the course of centuries (going back to the European Renaissance), whereas at present we are witnessing a hubristic, megalomaniacal attempt to torpedo both Western and other cultures for the sake of retaining financial and hence, political control over world affairs.