to the Multiculturalism of the 90s
From the Youth Culture to Generation X
Challenges to the Counter Culture:
a. Analyze and explain the postmodern phenomenon of the Counter Culture.
b. Cultural indicators of the Counter Culture.
c. More passive adherents of the love generation, those who specialize in dropping out.
Marcuse, Reich, Toffler and Roszak have become celebrities in both the counter culture and the straight society. Both are read by thousands both within and without the academic community. There are two common elements in Reich and Marcuse--Epistemological and Ethical Relativism. Relativism is no foundation to critique American Society, but Christianity is a valid criticism of the American Society. Throughout the Counter Culture relativism leads to absurd or self-defeating consequences. The Counter Culture rejects reason and opts for subjective feeling (creativity and imagination). There is rejection of logic, language and true truth.
Counter Culture Literature: Herbert Marcuse, One Dimensional Culture; Charles Reich, The Greening of America (was on the best seller list for months); Theodore Roszak, The Making of the Counter Culture (Doubleday, 1969); Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy, 1984 (New Age Pantheism); A.J. Ayer, Language, Truth, Logic; Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, 1964; Toffler, Future Shock, 1970; The Third Wave, 1980; Power Shift; Carl Becker, 1931; Ruth Benedict, 1934.
I. The Law of Contradiction: Flight from Reason, Reality; from Agape to Eros; see Aristotle’s Metaphysics on the ontological status of law of non contradiction, therefore not simply a law of thought or a law of being--take it or leave it. Denial leads to absurdity (loneliness). It is impossible to meaningfully deny the law of non-contradiction, laws of logic/structure of law and meaning (cf. road to sociology of the legal foundation (see my “Changing Paradigms and the Hermeneutics of Law”). The denial of logic precludes significant thought and significant action becomes impossible (self-identity/meaningful relationship/self-God-others). The denial of logic has consequences not only for epistemology and metaphysics but for ethics as well. If all predictions are true then there is no difference between reading the Bible and shooting your grandmother. If there is no true truth there is no difference that makes any difference.
II. Reason and Logic: Reason and Logic have cosmic significance for the Christian (contra the Counter Culture). God has created order. Plato and Aristotle stopped with the postulation of objective moral and rational order! The Counter Culture denied valid inference; then how can the Counter Culture argue for its view against the views of others? If truth is relative, the Counter Culture should not expect us to accept their truths as absolute against the pervading culture. If beliefs are conditioned by economic and social matters, they should recognize that this vitiates their view as well.
III. Herbert Marcuse, Guru of the Left Wing: Marcuse is a critic of all advanced industrial societies, especially the United States. IF our culture is corrupt, why not do something about it? Marcuse’s answer is that “we cannot.” Marx believed that the worker would carry the revolution. Marx did not perceive that workers in an advanced industrial society would become corrupted by the affluence of society until they have the same values of the Bourgeois. Technology eliminates dissent and conflict that arises in less advanced societies. It does this by raising false needs and providing false satisfactions. It deceives people into false security by wanting better homes, cars, and securities. Man becomes so obsessed by the gadgets he wants to possess that he ignores the possibility that his obsessions may destroy him. Marcuse states that “the so-called consumer economy and the politics of corporate capitalism have created a second nature of man which ties him libidinally and aggressively to the commodity form.” (An Essay on Liberation (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969, p. 11) Man becomes dominated/controlled by consumerism, i.e., “this dependence of man in a market ever more densely filled with merchandise.” (ibid) Marcuse attacks all forms of false mass contentment. The goods produced by the system provide false satisfaction. Advertising produces compulsive consumers who are irrational and inhuman. Do things make us happy? Marcuse claims that the needs are the false products of a repressive society.
What is needed is for men to free themselves from false needs and false consciousness to true needs and a true consciousness. What is needed is a new type of man who cannot be seduced by affluence (ibid, p. 24,25) Marcuse does tell us how this freedom is to be gained--only Christian conversion to the God of the truth is the source of this necessary freedom. Man’s lost estate in the advanced industrial society is incapable of self-liberation and absolute autonomy to free self from the bondage of consumer dynamics. Without the living presence of God, man will be seduced by affluence. The oppressive influence of false needs imposed by a repressive society cannot be overcome within a dominating system of oppression, i.e., specifically democratic capitalism, according to Marcuse. He asserts that democracy contributes to the plight of society.
Advanced industrial societies are tolerant of minority views because they knew that these views cannot have any effect (c. Marcuse, “Repressive tolerance,” i.e., suppression of free speech and free assembly. Freedom of speech only insures the propagation of lies). Truth is carried by revolutionary minorities. This view is opposed to democratic legality and thus proposes extra-democratic rebellion. In Marcuse’s words, “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right, and tolerance of movements from the Left.” (A Critique of Pure Tolerance) (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967, p. 109) “Critical Theory” locks transcendence to move beyond any present society,” (Ibid, Liberation p. xiv)
Marcuse’s justification for revolutionary intolerance is the claim that his minority possesses the truth. But what is Marcuse’s view of the truth? He rejects the actual state of affairs on truth, and he also rejects correspondence with fact and test for truth. If truth is context bound, not merely context specific, why should anyone believe that the words of Marcuse’ standard of truth is any more true than any other alternative? (cf. Liberation, xv.)
IV. The Powerlessness of Critical Social Theory: (cf. The Great Refusal, i.e., the revolution in Vietnam, Cuba, China and Latin America, strains in the fortress of corporate capitalism, stirrings among ghetto populations, the student revolutions.) How is opposition possible in a repressive society? How can all people be controlled by the repressive influence of capitalistic society and yet there be effective revolution? Is it a cultural paradigm shift? If all people are in a repressive, controlled, manipulated and brainwashed culture, how could anyone “see” or “understand” societies’ faults? Marcuse’s thesis is self-refuting.
Marcuse says in The One Dimensional Man: “Technical progress, extended to a whole system of domination and co-ordination, creates forms of life (and of power) which appears to reconcile the forces opposing the system and to defeat or refute all protest in the name of the historical prospects of freedom from toil and domination.” Is Marcuse’s position trivial or merely self-defeating? The Marcuse Syndrome is expressed again from One Dimensional Man, “The idea of formal logic itself is a historical event in the development of the mental and physical instruments for universal control and calculability. In this undertaking, man had to create theoretical harmony, out of actual discord, to purge thought from contradictions, to hypostatize identifiable and fungible units in the complex process of society and nature.” (Marcuse, One Dimensional Man, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1964), p. 137).
Marcuse seems to believe that history can be divided into two periods. During the After Logic (A.L.) period, men reasoned syllogistically and generally speaking, observed the logical rules set down by Aristotle. During the Before Logic (B.L.) periods, however, men “reasoned” according to principles other than the law of non-contradiction. Forms of reasoning which are valid after logic were invalid before logic. But it is nonsense to talk about a period of history when human “thought” and “reasoning” were not subject to the laws of logic (cf. logic is a late development in the universal development according to the Darwinian Model). It would be most interesting to see Marcuse provide one example of thought not in accordance with logic (cf. Marilyn Ferguson’s Aquarian Conspiracy attacks language, logic, i.e., rationality, i.e., suggests emphasis from Eastern Pantheism as an alternative to Left/Right Brain research as “proving” that the logical side of the brain must be replaced by the imaginative, creative side. Why? This polarization of the brain requires logic to rationally adjudicate between alternative interpretive schemas!!
V. Charles Reich and Consciousness III: Consciousness III is the intellectual foundation of Generation X. In Reich’s The Greening of America, he makes distinctions between (1) Consciousness I, (2) Consciousness II and (3) Consciousness III. Consciousness I is the traditional outlook of the American farmer and the small businessman and worker who is trying to get ahead (Toffler in his Future Shock divides three periods of radical cultural change as Agricultural, Industrial and Informational areas). Consciousness II represents the values of an organizational society. Consciousness III is the new generation. The advanced industrial society, the spirit of technology that Marcuse criticizes is essentially the Consciousness II that Reich is concerned to attack. Consciousness III is a new stage of consciousness that will include a “higher reason” along with a more human community and new, thus liberating, individuals.
Reich tells us that the idea of consciousness includes “a person’s background, education, politics, insight, values, emotions and philosophy . . . .” (Reich, Ibid., pp. 4, 16); In this quote Reich clearly includes logic within philosophy and consciousness. There is no principle of reason that transcends all the stages of consciousness. He further states that “Each person has his own individuality, not to be compared to that of anyone else. Someone may be a brilliant thinker, but he is no “better” at thinking than anyone else; he simply possesses his own experience.” (Reich, pp. 226,227) In these words Reich becomes a guru for a relativistic, multi-cultural emphasis on open mindedness and tolerance. Each man is the measure of all things. Not this emphasis in Carl Becker and The Heavenly City of the 18th Century Philosophers, 1931; and in Historicism and Ruth Benedict’s work Patterns of Culture, 1934--cultural intellectualism, relativism and radical contextualization.
We must not presume to judge another person’s thoughts or beliefs or reasoning. Reich’s thesis is extended to a man’s culture, politics, philosophy, religion and logic. All categories are determined by social and economic conditions (see my critique of Marx’s theory of “Alienation”). Reich asks Christians to give up their failed faith. He tells us that Christianity has failed for 2000 years and should not be confused with the new generation. Christianity asks men to give up power, aggression and materialism for a promise of something better in another world, a world after death. “. . . unlike Christianity, the new way of life proposes a better life now. It offers something that is immediately more satisfying, the sensual beauty of a creative, loving, unrepressed life (a la Freud). It offers something that is real, not remote. Christianity is just another form of giving up the present for some goal, a religious form of the very repression that characterizes technological man in the corporate state.” (Reich, p. 346) Reich presents us with pure Marxism. Reich’s tolerance has been dashed upon the structure of the Judaeo-Christian worldview. Only Christian thinking is not to be tolerated. Reich’s condemnation of Christianity rests upon his own assumption that belief systems are conditioned by a person’s social and economic conditions. This assumption also destroys his own belief system. His relativism has absolutized!! If Reich has abandoned Aristotelian logic he must also abandon his relativism. No wonder Reich admits that “Consciousness III is deeply suspicious of logic, rationality, analysis and of principles.” (Reich, p. 257)
VI. Values of Consciousness III: The second half of Reich’s Greening of America is a Manifesto regarding ethics and values (compare with Bill Bennett’s book, Virtues and Values. He begins by saying, “The foundation of Consciousness III is liberating. . . . The meaning of liberation is that the individual is free to build his own philosophy and values, his own lifestyle and his own culture from a new beginning.” (Reich, p. 225) “Consciousness III postulates the absolute worth of every human being, every self... instead of insisting that everyone be measured by your standards, the new generation values what is unique and difficult in each self. No one judges anyone else. This is a second commandment. Consciousness III rejects the whole concept of excellence and comparative merit that is so central to Consciousness II. Consciousness III refuses to evaluate people by general standards. It refuses to classify people or analyze them.” (Reich, p. 226)
There are three basic commandments for Consciousness III people: (1) “Thou shalt not do violence to thyself (be true to thyself); (2) No one judges anyone else; (3) Be wholly honest with others, use no other person as a means.” Consciousness III starts with Self. In contrast to Consciousness II, which accepts society, the public interest and institutions as the primary reality, III declares that the individual self is the only true reality. To start with, the self does not mean to be selfish. It means to start from premises based on human life and the rest of nature rather than premises that are the artificial products of the corporate state, such as power or status. It is not an ‘ego trip’ but a radical subjectivity designed to find genuine values in a world whose official values are false and distorted. (Reich, pp. 225-26)
What does Reich mean by false values of the Corporate State and the genuine values he proposes to find? The phrase “discover genuine values” implies that there are objective values, which the individual does not create. The phrase “false values” implies again that there are “true values” which serve as normative which judge human actions and decision. Neither Reich’s epistemology nor his claim that Consciousness III believes the individual should be free to build his own values from a new beginning. If a person's values are determined by economic and material conditions, then not even Reich is free to choose or create any values. Only if there are objective standards of evaluation could Reich have written The Greening of America. But then such a person would not belong to Consciousness III. All experience has value, none of it is to be rejected because it does according with pre-existing scheme of evaluating reality (cf. for analysis of logic see Irving Copi. “Any and every conclusion follows logically from inconsistent statements taken as premises. Inconsistent statements are not “meaningless”--their trouble is just the opposite.” (Copi, Introduction to Logic, 3rd ed., NY: MacMillan, 1968, pp. 267-278)
How can Reich say that all experience has value and some experience (rape, murder, etc.) does not have value? The work of Marcuse and Reich is all well and good but do they speak for the Counter Youth Culture? (cf. compare with Voices from The Love Generation or poems of Allen Ginsburg, Abbie Hoffman, Woodstock Nation (NY: Random House, 1969. Reason and theory are tools of historical development, not vice versa. Human alienation from reality can be overcome through dialectical clash of opposites in revolutionary confrontations. Both Marcuse and Reich oppose the “bourgeois” preoccupation with “absolutely Cartesian, unconditioned, universally valid knowledge.” (Marcuse, The Concept of Essence in Negations: Essays in Critical Theory (Boston: Beacon Press, 1963), pp. 43-87) Can the dialectical logicians prove the validity of the dialectic? Can he ever know if he is right? (On the role of reason in society, see A.F. Holmes, “The Concept of Natural Law” Christian Scholars Review, 2 (1972), p. 195); see my “Theories of Logic from Deduction to Induction/Probability Calculus; e.g. Mathematical Foundations of Modern and Postmodern Philosophy and Theology;” also, “Whatever Happened to True Truth?) Marcuse, Reich and Roszak have many important things to say to Generation X and the Church in our postmodern maze. The Counter Culture, Generation X, is hungering for experience and meaning. In Theodore Roszak’s, The Making of a Counter Culture, he emphasizes that the experience the Counter Culture seeks is “fullness of experience” and “first hand experience.” Generation X is in flight. The flight appears to be grasping for reality rather than retreat from it!!
The 80s and 90s express the intellectual/cultural revolution that exposed the radical implications of Kant, Lessing, Herder, Hegel, Marx, Freud, Dilthey, Darwin, Nietzsche, Dewey, Heidegger, Sartre, Gadamer, Layotard, DeMan, Fish, Quine and Bernstein.
The term Post Modern becomes the cultural narrative. After Kant’s First Critique he maintained that all reality was reducible to thinking and acting. Western culture progressively grew more hostile to the classical Christian faith. The first scientific revolution from Galileo, Newton, Kepler and Maxwell removed God from the explanatory hypothesis and reduced the Judaeo/ Christian God to a “god of the gaps!” Two of Kant’s students, Lessing and Herder, played fundamental roles in the new historiographical revolution, which leads directly to Heidegger and the historization of all reality. By the time of our postmodern cultural maze, the thesis of epistemological and cultural relativism controls at least all perimeters of the humanities departments of the universities. (Peter Berger and Thomas Luckman, The Social Construction of Reality (Anchor Doubleday, 1966) expresses the widespread conviction of the validity of the Sociology of Knowledge Thesis. (see the brilliant critique of Richard F. Hamilton, especially The Social Misconstruction of Reality (A response to Berger and Luckman (Yale University Press, 1996). Some of the crucial consequences result in revisionist history, anti science, outcome based education and multicultural pluralism. These influences are critically examined by the following: Keith Windschuttle, The Killing of History (Paddington, Australia: Macleay Press, 1994); Paul R. Gross/Norman Levitt, Higher Superstition (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1994); Pauline M Rosenau, Post Modernism and Social Sciences (Insight, Inroads and Intrusion) (Princeton University Press, 1992, pub). For the consequences of these developments on language, see my paper, “Narrative Displacement, The Corruption of Language.”
By the 1980s the multicultural post modern, anti true truth and the death of absolutes, i.e., objectivity, had entered the public area. But the new post modern absolutes are (1) Freedom from (not of) religion; (2) Death, what a beautiful choice; (3) I do, for now; (4) Family is who comes home; (5) Love the one you are with; (6) Deal deviant for normal; (7) I am a woman, hear me roar; (8) Race colors everything; (8) History in the remaking; (10) The politically correct life. See especially William A. Watkins, The New Absolutes, (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1996).
Between the works of Weaver, Reich, Toffler and Marcuse, the brilliant work of Allan Bloom exposes the general cultural malaise. In his book, The Closing of the American Mind (NY: Simon and Schuster), Dr. Bloom, a professor at the University of Chicago, claimed--“There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of; almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1987, p. 25). What Bloom declared in 1987 had a much longer history than the decade in which he brilliantly exposed our postmodern fears. Bloom’s prophecy that Western culture was on a self-destructive course seemed too negative to some but the evidence which the Counter Culture produced (e.g. the 1960s) confirmed his analysis. The symptoms of mass psychosis--“The signs of disintegration arouses fear and fear leads to desperate unilateral effort toward survival, which only forwards the process.” (p. 2) The cultural chaos that raises in our multicultural pluralism radically repudiates that Weaver’s analysis was a misdiagnosis.
“A new vogue in the late 1980s when it began to be used, first on college campuses and later by the media as a pejorative term to describe a loose collection of feminist, Marxist, multiculturalists and deconstructionists together with their assorted left wing positions on race, sexual orientation, gender, class, the environment and related issues. . .to oppose the wearing of fur coats, to decry American capitalism and consumerism, to abhor the pernicious influence of advertising and T.V. to support women’s rights to abortion, to use “native American” instead of Indian and “African American” instead of black. . .American history is primarily a narrative of exploitation and oppression and that Americans ought to celebrate the “otherness” or “difference” of the women, homosexuals, ethnic groups who had long been denied a voice by the white males who traditionally controlled Western society. . . . The most controversial feature of politically correct behaviour, however, was an inclination to suppress. . .books and viewpoints and even social activities that regardless of how innocuous, were believed to be racist or sexist. The apologia for political correctness alternately remains: (1) political correctness does not exist, or (2) if it does exist, the phenomenon is grossly overstated or (3) if not exaggerated, it really isn’t so bad.” (From Don Feder in The Washington Times, October 4, 1991), p. 459)
This movement has become so widespread and controversial that the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Modern Language Association (MLA) have felt compelled to issue statements concerning this phenomenon. It has become the subject of comic strips and feature stories on PC and its attendant “isms” have appeared in such publications as TIME, NEWSWEEK and THE NEW YORKER magazines. Even ABC’s “Nightline” devoted an entire show to the impact that political correctness and multiculturalism has had on the teaching of history. Everett E. Dennis calls “the conceptual companion in the campus debate” of political correctness The War of Words (see The Freedom Forum, Media Studies Center, Columbia University, Fall, 1991, pp. 6,7).
Just a brief trek through New York’s Curriculum of Inclusion. The report of the Commissioner’s Task Force on Minorities: Equities and Excellence (published July, 1989), was taken from an “on line” abstract.
“This report reflects the work of a task force charged with examining curricular materials used by the New York State Department of Education to see if they adequately reflect the pluralistic nature of society, and to identify areas where changes or additions may be needed. The Task Force concluded that African American, Asian American, Puerto Ricans/Latinos, and Native Americans have been victims of curricular materials that negatively characterized or omitted the contributions of these groups to U.S. society and culture, and demonstrated a systematic bias factoring European culture and its derivatives. After highlighting some of the contributions to U.S. society by non-European cultures, the report documents how these contributions have been systematically distorted, marginalized, or omitted. The report goes on to identify some curricular materials that are of high quality, indicating that some progress has been made. Because the entire structure of the curriculum is shown to be flawed, an alternative conceptual approach is presented. The Task Force promotes the idea that all curricular materials be prepared on the basis of multicultural contributions to the development of all aspects of U.S. society. Such a balanced, integrated approach is seen as serving the interests of children from all cultures. Children from Native American, Puerto Rican/Latino, Asian American, and African American cultures will have higher self-esteem and self-respect, while children from European cultures will have a less arrogant perspective of being part of the group that has “done it all.” The Task Force makes nine recommendations to accomplish what it sees as necessary reforms in New York State’s curriculum, ranging from a revision of many curricular materials to a revision of teacher education and school administrator programs. Several appendices are included, featuring those that review the New York State curricular materials K-12 from the perspective of African American culture, Asian American culture, Latino culture and Native American culture.”
These postmodern educational modes introduce us to massive immorality. There is an enormous anti Christian bias in Disney, Fox, and ABC media expression of postmodern immorality. In the TV show, Ally McBeal, which was on Fox (12.21.98), a man and two women ask the law firm to petition the courts for the right to marry. The man is already married to one of the women and his mistress has borne him a child out of wedlock. It is the strong defence of polygamy. Richard, head of the firm, says he cannot take the case because he is already “fornicating” with the judge. The situation gets worse. Ally successfully argues in court to have the judge put a woman in a coma so she can enjoy her “dream world” when the woman remarks to a priest, “God, forgive me” and Ally answers emphatically, “She will!.”
In L.A. Doctors (CBS, 1.11.99), one doctor is consulted by a mom who is convinced that he 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. As it turns out, she in on steroids preparing for a sex change operation when she turns 18. Her mother remains against such surgery, but the episode ends, it appears, that the father intends to help the daughter through this stressful event.
On ABC, in an episode of The Practice (1.3.99) sex is the only subject of this program. Eugene gets a call for help from his friend Jerry who has been arrested for soliciting sex with another man. Jerry is a married father and is also a cross dresser. Another sub plot focuses on a local politician, the man who tried to pick up Jerry.
The episode of Will and Grace (NBC, 1.5.99) contained sexual humor about homosexuality, transvestites, adultery, fornication, prostitution, lust, genitals and breasts. It also takes repeated swipes at Christianity. When Grace criticizes a neighbor for cheating on her husband, Will sarcastically calls her “Church lady” and jokes about breaking the commandment against sexual covetousness (see particularly the vital journal, The American Family Association) March, 1999.
One of the most vital issues of “Christian education” for our post modern culture is to inform the Church, especially parents and young people, about the powerful anti Christian forces expressed in on line Internet--pornography, homosexuality, and all forms of perversion, and the need to except “sexual perversion” as only a private alternative life style, and that it is no one else’s business as long as it happens among consenting adults and does not interfere with “work” (e.g. the immorality of The White House).
“There is a group of older people that will never accept it (the TV show Ellen) but there are a lot of empty cemeteries, and when they’re filled, the world will be more tolerant,” said Dava Savel, executive producer and head writer of the Ellen show. See especially Ed Vitagliano, in the American Family Association Journal, “Targeting Children” March, 1999, p. 4 ff.
Patricia Neil Warren, lesbian author, writes, “whoever captures the kids, owns the future.”
The response of these gnostic gurus to every “Christian response” is an attack on “religious extremism.”
The success of this Machiavellian stance of radical homosexual agenda is partly dependent on persuading children today that homosexuality is “normal,” i.e., merely as an acceptable alternative life style.
More than 150 of the United Methodist Church clergy joined in the holy union of two lesbians in Sacramento, CA. Both women are co-workers in the California-Nevada conference of the UMC.
The council for the Ecumenical Student Christian Ministry sponsored a conference for mainline denominations such as the United Methodist Church (UMC), the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). According to Mark Tooly of the Institute of Religion and Democracy, the best-known speaker to address the gathering was South African Archbishop, Desmond Tutu, who called the Church to fully accept homosexuality. “We should celebrate sex as a wonderful gift of God. We should accept different sexual orientation. God made us who we are,” Tutu said to an applauding audience.!
In the recent ACTION LETTER from Donald Wildmon, President of the American Family Association, he tells his readers that the AFA is being muzzled and their good name is being smeared. The CyberPatrol, the most popular Internet filtering software that blocks out objectionable material on the Internet, is keeping people from reaching the AFA’s web site because of the stand the AFA has made on homosexuality. CyberPatrol states that AFA falls into the following CyberNOT categories: “Racist/Ethnic Intolerance.” This is simply because AFA opposes the normalization of homosexuality in our culture--and CP states that “there is a great deal of material that refers to a group of people in what we considered an intolerant manner.” “As a private company, CP has the right to censor the site but they don’t have the moral right to claim AFA is a racist bigot because it believes the Scriptural position on homosexuality.”
James Strauss, Lincoln, IL