Here are some of the fruits of the movement for full inclusiveness in religion, and more generally of the search for this-worldly transcendence: a mini-conference on homosexual sado-masochistic religion at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion, a leading scholarly organization (search for the word “gay” on the linked page), and a respectful review in the New York Times Book Review of a new book by former Balanchine ballerina Toni Bentley on transcendence through getting buggered. (The same issue of the Times Book Review, by the way, also features an immensely long front-page review of what appears to be a hate-filled fantasy in the form of a novel by Philip Roth about the apparently notorious tendency of his non-Jewish fellow-citizens toward Nazism.)
When is Chicken Little right? The world is big and complicated, and it’s very hard to predict when something will go radically wrong or even to distinguish crisis and catastrophe from the normal bumps and scrapes of life. Accepted ways of looking at things today make that all the harder. The view at present is that to think something has gone basically wrong is to demonstrate that one is uncomprehending, out of touch, weak, rigid, fearful, resentful, attached to unjustified privilege, socially and intellectually marginal, and what not else. Even legitimate conservatives agree that you discredit yourself if you don’t get with the program.
The accepted view’s an odd one. Human society is flexible, but not infinitely so, and a functional system as complex as a civilization can’t be perfected but it can assuredly degrade and collapse. Indeed, the attempt to perfect a complex functional system in accordance with a single standard is almost certain to destroy the system. No line of development can go on forever. People admit that in general but deny it in particular. They are too sophisticated to believe in progress, but insist on it nonetheless and find anything else inconceivable. What else can explain things that are as utopian as PC, the international human rights movement, and the attempt to abolish the social ordering of something as basic to human life and social relations as sex?
To all appearances, some sort of tipping point has been achieved in the collapse of the West into modernist utopianism and inhumanity. No legitimate place is now ecognized for resistance to the attempt to end sexual distinctions, abolish historical peoples and cultures, mainstream homosexuality and other perversions, and drive all authority other than desire and technical administration and expertise out of what passes for public life. If you’ve got a problem with any of those things it’s assumed you’re a fundie or maybe one of Philip Roth’s Nazis. After all, it is universally understood among respectable people that diversity, openness and tolerance, understood in as radical a sense as possible, are the very essence of America and the West. If someone says leather gear or buggery is his religion, that’s just another possibility in the great supermarket of being and should be respected as such. Is it really out of touch though to think all this won’t work?