From my recent browsing around the internet – specifically the site I linked to yesterday – it is becoming apparent to me that many conservative Americans do not like academia. They accuse it of being too liberal, as if liberal were an insult rather than a position. They dislike, it seems, post-Copernican science, and the break down of the believe that one can be absolutely certain of something.
Academia, I seems to me, is an ever-lasting debate. One researcher proposes a theory, which is countered by another, and another. The truth is entirely down to perspective; thus, we can never know absolute truth despite the fact we are forever moving closer towards it. His, to me is logical, and as it should be. But to a conservative brought up, perhaps, with the absolute certainties of religion, this is probably very scary. This is why, I think, they are attacking academia; it is why, as Mark rightly pointed out in the comments section of my previous post, they are so insecure.
Moreover, mark is also right when he says ”[American conservatives] have to try to stamp their crooked ideology onto every cultural outlet, and can’t bear the fact that the intelligentsia is overwhelmingly liberal-minded even though the conservatives are (by default) the ones who hold the reigns of power.” Yet I see an irony in this: in positing a contrasting view, are they not, by definition, entering into the same never-ending academic debate which they seem to dislike? The truth can never be absolute because it is perpetually argued over. Thus, their position is paradoxical: they want a certainty of truth which can only (theoretically) be imposed by entering into a framework which negates any such possibility.
A similar paradox is at the centre of creationism: the proponents of this belief want it to replace science, but to get this achieved they have to enter into the scientific debate structure. Hence, in both cases they inadvertently become part of the debate they actually want to do away with, which is why both are doomed to failure. They say academic debate is unnecessary, and want to replace it with an absolutism, but in doing so they enter into the debate. They cannot help but re-enforce the thing they want to do away with.
It is this absolutism, I think, which gives rise to American patriotism, although you could have a good chicken-and-egg debate here. Nevertheless, the logic that ”there is no truth save ours” will duly give rise to an over-confidence in one’s belief system, government system. To concede that there are opinions other than one’s own, which are equally valid, is to concede that one may be wrong. This is why I think the essay I linked to yesterday was written by a conservative American: he could not conceive of a future not ruled by his beliefs; it is why he was attacking star trek, misguidedly accusing it of Fascism – it dared to posit a world where his belief system was not in command, thereby proposing that the American system may be flawed, and we can’t have that, can we? With it’s view of inter-planetary harmony, Star Trek was anything but fascist, as star fleet was devoted to science rather than conquest, but the writer off this text could not allow any idyllic vision of the future to exist without it’s being under rightist American terms.
If there’s one thing that winds me up about such people, it is their belief that their way is best, and will always be so. It seems very arrogant. In writing this, I know I am only presenting my opinion, which others may disagree with. It’s why I have the ‘comments’ screen. Opinion is the closest thing we have to the truth; depending on the evidence supporting them, some opinions carry more weight than others. Hence absolute truth can never be attained, but this should not stop us trying.