Streetwise Professor

December 29, 2021

In Which I Agree With Nikole Hannah-Jones!

Filed under: History,Politics — cpirrong @ 4:48 pm

Nikole Hannah-Jones claims that we are entering a new dark age. I agree! To a point. For Ms. Hannah-Jones is projecting. She and her ilk are the harbingers of a dark age, not its victims. It is the likes of her 1619 Project, and its widespread adoption as instructional material, not the scattered resistance to it that Ms. Hannah-Jones bewails, that represents the advance of the enemies of truth and knowledge and the suppression of Enlightenment values. (It is, alas, but one example of this.)

The Enlightenment was–sadly, use of the past tense may be very appropriate here–a movement against obscurantism, superstition, and most importantly, official “truths” decreed by institutional powers like the church. The Enlightenment allowed individuals to challenge institutions. It undermined traditional power structures and contributed to the liberation of mankind from feudalism and its variants. The Enlightenment has seen its share of excesses and errors, but it is what pushed back the darkness of the Dark Ages. Indeed, it is by contrast to the Enlightenment that the Dark Ages are considered dark: those living during them did not consider them such.

Post-modernism–which infuses Hannah-Jones’ work, and cognate movements like CRT–is profoundly, avowedly, and unapologetically anti-Enlightenment. It denies all of the basic principles of the Enlightenment. It denies that there are things that are true independently of the beliefs of subjective observers operating in systems of power. It is profoundly anti-scientific. And here I mean science as a method, not Science as it is used and abused by post-modernists in power. And it is collectivist and anti-individualist.

So yes, as Hannah-Jones says, we are at serious risk of entering a new Dark Ages. But she is just one of a phalanx of anti-intellectuals posing as intellectuals who threaten to return humanity to the dark days that preceded the Enlightenment they hate so much. Post-modernism is big on irony. It doesn’t get much more ironic than that.

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  1. That may be your truth, Prof.

    Comment by dearieme — December 29, 2021 @ 4:50 pm

  2. @dearieme. Who are you to question my lived experience?

    Comment by cpirrong — December 29, 2021 @ 4:55 pm

  3. The whole collectivist/post-modern movement is just the most recent excrescence of the Romantic counter-Enlightenment. It consists of the people, then and now, who lack the psychology to live as individuals in a free society.

    Such people are almost certainly in the majority for reasons that can be (qualitatively) traced to human social evolution. Social group conformity was central to early human survival. Co-evolution put the psychology of conformity into our genes. Collectivists are the result — people who yearn to live in a slave society.

    This is the deep irony around Nicole Hannah-Jones. A free woman descending from the enslaved (as we all do) and gaining her salary from the milk of historical outrage, Ms. Hannah-Jones promotes a return to slavery.

    Comment by Pat Frank — December 29, 2021 @ 7:39 pm

  4. Prof(s): wishing you both a better new year than the two that passed!

    Comment by Tatyana — January 1, 2022 @ 5:08 pm

  5. @Tatyana–Thank you! A low bar, but I’ll take it 😉 Wishing you a great year (in absolute terms) too.

    Comment by cpirrong — January 1, 2022 @ 6:59 pm

  6. Thank you.
    Although judging by this first piece of news, the prognosis is not great

    Comment by Tatyana — January 2, 2022 @ 8:05 am

  7. @Pat Frank. I agree–a very Hayekian diagnosis. Read what Hayek says about “the atavism of social justice”: he makes the same social evolutionary diagnosis.

    As an aside, like Hayek, I am much more favorably disposed to the Scottish and English enlightenment thinkers than the Continentals, especially the French. Much of what we are seeing now are the bastard children of Romanticism and the French Enlightenment.

    As another aside, Hannah-Jones’ mother is Czech/English. She is arguably an example of a phenomenon that Thomas Sowell wrote about 40+ years ago: the light-skinned needing to show that they are “blacker than thou.” The hysterical reaction to his two columns in the WaPo in which he expounded that thesis suggests that he hit very close to home.

    Comment by cpirrong — January 3, 2022 @ 2:34 pm

  8. “…a phenomenon that Thomas Sowell wrote about 40+ years ago:…”
    So – like Rachel Dolezal, then?

    Comment by dcardno — January 3, 2022 @ 9:44 pm

  9. “The Enlightenment was–sadly, use of the past tense may be very appropriate here–a movement against obscurantism, superstition, and most importantly, official ‘truths’ decreed by institutional powers like the church.”

    This is the Masonic story. The fact that we are where we are in 2021, in the grips of the THIRD world-bestriding totalitarian movement in a century, seems to me a clue that that narrative is b*llsh*t.

    Comment by Ninco Nanco — January 4, 2022 @ 11:26 am

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