On December 25th, 1991, the Soviet Union, one of the most powerful empires ever known, officially dissolved. Literally overnight, Russia balkanized, losing 30 percent of its land as 15 Soviet Republics declared their national independence.
Fast forward to our time. New Orleans Saints star quarterback Drew Brees, in an interview with Yahoo! Finance’s Dan Roberts, was asked whether he supported calls for NFL players to kneel during the national anthem in protest of police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death. “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America,” Brees said. Almost instantly, he was deluged with a torrent of anger and criticism against his supposedly ‘insensitive’ comments by black athletes and teammates, forcing Brees to apologize on his Instagram.
While these two events may seem completely unrelated, they both revolve a common theme: they are fallouts from the collapse of the political left.
Yes, you heard me correctly. In the midst of the current woke wave flooding our nation, you might think that anyone even hinting at the suggestion that the left is dead must obviously be delusional. But make no mistake: the rise of Black Lives Matter means the death of the left, and anyone who thinks that recent events have been a victory for liberal activism is the one suffering from delusion.
To see what’s really happening in our nation, we first have to understand that the political left is rooted in a philosophical commitment known as modernity. Born out of the 18th century Enlightenment, modernity involves the enthronement of scientific rationalism as the one true way of knowing the world, a one-size-fits-all form of knowledge for all peoples, times, and places. Moderns believe that premodern tribal, ancestral, and monarchical beliefs and practices have ceded their authority to forms of truth and reasoning derived from autonomous human reason.
The Soviet Union was one political and economic outworking of this modernist one-size-fits-all conception of the world. For the Marxists of old, the key interpretive paradigm for human history was that the world was governed by a constant dialectic of power discrepancies centered on the notion of class-based inequities. It is thus incumbent on all modern-minded people to destroy this power hierarchy and replace it with a social system comprised of a new humanity liberated from inequality. This is how the political left became associated with the commitment to ushering in what Aldous Huxley termed a ‘brave new world.’
But then something catastrophic happened to this leftist utopia. Since the publication of the French philosopher and sociologist Jean-François Lyotard’s 1979 study entitled The Postmodern Condition, scholars have noticed that the modernist notion of a one-size-fits-all political and economic system has collapsed philosophically in the hearts and minds of Western populations, most especially for those living under the Soviet Union. More and more people were characterized by a postmodernist conception of the world, which valued diversity, pluralism, and multiculturalism. The tribal and the ethnic once again became exotic, while the scientific and the rational became increasingly sterile. As a consequence, the fundamental tenet of modernity, the universality of scientific rationality as the sole objective way of knowing the world, had in effect collapsed in the hearts and minds of most Westerners in favor of cultural plurality.
The major geopolitical consequence in this increasingly postmodern world is the unraveling of modernist political and economic systems, as we saw with the Soviet Union and as we are seeing with the liberal globalized political order as represented by organizations such as the EU. More and more populations are rejecting liberalism and turning back toward nationalism, tribalism, secession, balkanization, and social fission. Since 1991 and the fall of the Soviet Union, over 35 nations have been added to the world map. From Lithuania to Bosnia to Chechnya, Rwanda and Barundi, from South Sudan to Slovenia to Scotland, and most recently Catalonia, populations have been turning increasingly inward for civic and cultural identity.
However, what’s vitally important to get is that this backlash against modernity and the consequent erosion of the political left is actually morphing into two versions of the political right; that is, two kinds of right-wing nationalisms: civic and ethnic. Civic nationalist movements are seeking to restore their respective national sovereignties, as we saw in the back-to-back victories of Brexit and Donald Trump. However, while civic nationalists defend the generally polyethnic nation-state, ethno-nationalism is characterized by a more homogenous racial and cultural makeup, where populations are increasingly balkanizing as they turn towards ethnic identity and loyalties based on kin and race as the basis for a postmodern social order.
Here in the States, the media’s focus on ethno-nationalism has been entirely fixated on the white nationalism of the so-called Alt-Right, represented by figures such as Richard Spencer. But this is incredibly myopic. The Drew Brees fiasco is every bit as exemplative of such tribalist dynamics. While Brees defended civic nationalism and respect for its symbols such as the flag in his original comment, the Black Lives Matter backlash he faced rejected that nationalism in favor – not of a brave new world of leftism – but rather in favor of a distinctive appeal to ethno-nationalism. From this vantage point, the Black Lives Matter movement is every bit as Alt-Right as is Richard Spencer, since they are mutually committed to the defense and perpetuation of their respective ethnic identities they both believe to be under assault.
But isn’t BLM the darling of the political left? How can we credibly call it an ethno-nationalist movement of the Alt-Right?
Though its modernist roots have rotted out, the contemporary left has been able to remain on life support by changing its conception of Marxism. Keeping with the postmodern times, contemporary Marxists re-envision culture rather than class as the primary location for the proletariat struggle. Led by a group of pseudo-intellectuals known as the Frankfurt School, cultural Marxists argued that dominant ethnic cultures in the West could be effectively overthrown by a coalition of oppressed minorities. And so, leftist cultural Marxists in the Democrat Party have offered ethno-minority groups such as BLM a home in their party to exercise political power.
And thus far, the modern left has been largely successful in holding a coalition of oppressed minorities together, largely by focusing on an enemy common to all oppressed minorities: the white male. And this is where the role of blaming white supremacy and male patriarchy for every evil under the sun becomes so important to maintaining cultural Marxist norms.
But what’s key here is that BLM is leftist in so far as its proponents want to destroy the prevailing socio-political order; but unlike Marxist visions of old, BLM has no intention of replacing the current order with something wholly new, such as a global utopia for the new Soviet man. Instead, BLM wants to replace the current order with a premodern primitive notion of a thoroughly tribalist vision of ethnocentricity. They want to exchange the prevailing order, not with a progressive one, but with a primeval one; there’s nothing new or modern about this supposed brave new world so many contemporary leftists are hellbent on embarking on. But progressives like Nancy Pelosi and Chris Cuomo will soon learn that no amount of racial repentance, self-loathing, or contrite kneeling on their part will appease tribalist sentiments; Chris and Nancy are simply the wrong color, and as such, they represent an ethno-cultural tradition that is and always will be an existential threat to minorities.
But alas, with the death of its modernist roots, the Marxist fruits of leftist progressives are beginning to rot. Already we’re seeing the cultural Marxist coalition of oppressed minorities begin to unravel into competing tribalisms. Inter-minority racism is becoming an increasingly recognized problem in the U.S. There has been a long-running interracial animosity between blacks and Latinos that is growing in hostility. Korean Americans still harbor a deep-seated hostility towards blacks over the way Asian store owners were abused in the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Moreover, the cultural Marxist propensity to blame whites is causing a massive backlash: a 2012 study found that more than half of white Americans believe that “whites have replaced blacks as the ‘primary victims of discrimination’.”
Indeed, we need look no further for this unravelling than the very place where cultural Marxism first flourished: the college campus. Racial segregation is now a widespread phenomenon in our universities, such as black-only dorms and graduation ceremonies. In a recent a study, 42 percent of the 173 schools surveyed offered segregated residences, 46 percent offered segregated orientation programs, and 72 percent hosted segregated graduation ceremonies. With the latest Black Lives Matter activism in the wake of the recent race riots, we can expect these numbers to go up significantly.
With the death of modernity, Americans have a choice: we can either embrace a unifying vision of civic nationalism as defended and championed by President Trump, or we can choose to ultimately balkanize along ethnic and tribal loyalties. Civic nationalism or ethno-nationalism: these are our only two options.
Either way, make no mistake: the political left is dead; they just don’t know it.