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Annihilate American Culture, YES!

October 20, 2009

Patriotic Religious Kitsch

CULTURE IS SORT OF a dead institution, isn’t it? At least the kind of culture Catholic League President Bill Donohue writes about in America’s secular saboteurs in the Washington Post:

[Emphasis added.] Yesterday’s radicals wanted to tear down the economic structure of capitalism and replace it with socialism, and eventually communism. Today’s radicals are intellectually spent: they want to annihilate American culture, having absolutely nothing to put in its place. In that regard, these moral anarchists are an even bigger menace than the Marxists who came before them.

If societal destruction is the goal, then it makes no sense to waste time by attacking the political or economic structure: the key to any society is its culture, and the heart of any culture is religion. In this society, that means Christianity, the big prize being Catholicism. Which explains why secular saboteurs are waging war against it. [Donohue]

Societal destruction would be great and all, but us “nihilists” don’t have to bother with attacking religion or culture. To hear Guy Debord tell it, that shit’ll burn itself down. Debord says* “[The] whole triumphant history of culture can be understood as a progressive revelation of the inadequacy of culture, as a march toward culture’s self-abolition.”

Donohue is making a bit much of the alleged persecution of Catholicism. Religion and culture are targets only insomuch as they are entrenched in the political and economic structure. The system appropriates culture and bends it to its own ends, while the cultural elite, Donohue et al, in turn embrace the power they are granted in reward for their service to the system. The result is a culture alienated from the very people that culture is supposed to regulate. In this alienation, culture becomes obsolete.

The culture warriors won’t go quietly though. Donohue’s parting shot:

The culture war is up for grabs. The good news is that religious conservatives continue to breed like rabbits, while secular saboteurs have shut down: they’re too busy walking their dogs, going to bathhouses and aborting their kids. Time, it seems, is on the side of the angels. [Donohue]

Good thing about cultural self-negation! It was always to be expected that this, along with the provision of cannon fodder for the system, (a la the quid pro quo mentioned above,) was the impetus behind the pro-life movement.

Screw that! Annihilate American culture!

* 180. Culture is the general sphere of knowledge and of representations of lived experiences within historical societies divided into classes. It is a generalizing power which itself exists as a separate entity, as division of intellectual labor and as intellectual labor of division. Culture detached itself from the unity of myth-based society “when human life lost its unifying power and when opposites lost their living connections and interactions and became autonomous” (The Difference Between the Systems of Fichte and Schelling). In thus gaining its independence, culture embarked on an imperialistic career of self-enrichment that ultimately led to the decline of that independence. The history that gave rise to the relative autonomy of culture, and to the ideological illusions regarding that autonomy, is also expressed as the history of culture. And this whole triumphant history of culture can be understood as a progressive revelation of the inadequacy of culture, as a march toward culture’s self-abolition. Culture is the terrain of the quest for lost unity. In the course of this quest, culture as a separate sphere is obliged to negate itself. [Debord]

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