Sunday, July 18, 2021

"Righteous indignation abounds..."

From a review of Minds Wide Shut in which the term "fundamentalist" refers to a category that is not necessarly theological:
...[N]ow more than ever, we need the kind of mindset that a true liberal-arts education fosters. At a time of worsening polarization, a style of thinking the authors term “fundamentalist” is eating away at productive discourse, making the kind of back-and-forth necessary for a democratic society to function all but impossible. Surveying the cultural landscape, the authors offer a grim diagnosis: “Dialogue is dying, and righteous indignation abounds.” ....

Morson and Schapiro write, “the essence of fundamentalism is to deny the existence of a principled middle ground.”

Viewing one’s opponents as irredeemable means one will view any compromise with them as inherently illegitimate. So it isn’t difficult to see the threat that fundamentalist thinking poses to democracy. The authors warn that the logical endpoint of this mindset is the kind of totalitarianism that marred so much of the 20th century. The appetite for denouncing one’s opponents as evil, immoral, absurd, etc. does not dissipate with time or with victory over any particular enemy. Instead, the authors point out, “as soon as one side has won, the logic of hatred is applied to divergences among the victors, and when one faction of the victors wins out, it divides in the same way.” The result is a societal “slide” in which positions once thought so extreme as to be inconceivable can quickly become not just acceptable but compulsory. ....
Nat Brown, "The Cure for Fundamentalist Thinking," National Review, July 15, 2021.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated. I will gladly approve any comment that responds directly and politely to what has been posted.