Restoring the Lost Consensus

Looking around the cultural landscape today, I conclude that we are in the midst of a sort of negative religious revival: let’s call it America’s First Great Awokening.

Evidence of our society’s wokeness—a false awakening sparked by political grievance—is all around. I’d like to begin with what the philosopher Nicholas of Cusa called the “coincidence of opposites.” Unpacking exactly what Cusa meant by that arresting phrase would take us into the thickets of metaphysical speculation. But we see pedestrian examples of that strange coincidence everywhere. Indeed, one of the great tests of our wokeness is the extent to which many things have mutated into their opposites—not awake but awoke. Inversion is a dominant principle of our social life.

Consider, to take just one example, the fate of our colleges and universities. Once upon a time, and it was not so long ago, they were institutions dedicated to the pursuit of truth and the transmission of the highest values of our civilization. Today, most are dedicated to the repudiation of truth and the subversion of those values. In short, they are laboratories for the cultivation of wokeness. This is especially true, with only a handful of exceptions, of the most prestigious institutions. The tonier and more expensive the college, the more woke it is likely to be.

Read the rest in The New Criterion.

Photo Credit: Brian Blanco/Getty Images

About Roger Kimball

Roger Kimball is editor and publisher of The New Criterion and the president and publisher of Encounter Books. He is the author and editor of many books, including The Fortunes of Permanence: Culture and Anarchy in an Age of Amnesia (St. Augustine's Press), The Rape of the Masters (Encounter), Lives of the Mind: The Use and Abuse of Intelligence from Hegel to Wodehouse (Ivan R. Dee), and Art's Prospect: The Challenge of Tradition in an Age of Celebrity (Ivan R. Dee).

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