AccueilLa bataille autour de la "culture de l'annulation" risque de mal se terminer - ses gardiens recherchent le pouvoir à tout prix.ÉducationUniversité Atlas
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La bataille autour de la "culture de l'annulation" risque de mal se terminer - ses gardiens recherchent le pouvoir à tout prix.

La bataille autour de la "culture de l'annulation" risque de mal se terminer - ses gardiens recherchent le pouvoir à tout prix.

October 12, 2021

En dressant la liste des innombrables exemples de ce qui constitue la "culture de l'annulation", on risquerait de devenir un statisticien de la trivialité. Cela impliquerait d'élever un grand nombre de détails journalistiques au niveau de la contemplation morale d'une manière qui finirait par devenir épuisante.

Whether we are dealing with an Oregon teacher removing the American flag from the classroom on the premise that it stands for menace, violence and intolerance; statues and monuments being taken down in many cities; canonical texts being scrapped from college syllabi under the new “decolonization” movement, or people losing their jobs because of some transgression they might have committed decades ago — there are fundamental characteristics shared by all iterations of cancel culture. There is a conceptual common denominator that unites all manifestations of their varied expressions.

Cancel culture asserts itself as a form of Puritanism. It attempts to establish a homogeneity of social codes, moral attitudes and framing of narratives around issues of sex, politics, economics, cultural proprietorship and the politics of identity.

It purports to function as a comprehensive doctrine in the realm of conflict resolution by holding ready-made infallible and agreed-upon values and norms that, really, is a form of prescriptivism that has usurped the organic and democratic unfolding of ways in which language changes overtime.

Cancel culture, in effect, cancels the traditional ways of adjudicating disputes and competing truth claims by dispensing with the methods of adjudication: rational argumentation, philosophical give-and-take, the production of tenable evidence, and a dispassionate appraisal of the meaning tests that judge claims, arguments, assertions and competitors to competing viewpoints.

Cancel culture annihilates that which makes us human — not just by abolishing reason, but in compromising the process of reasoning together in a dialogical and social manner. We make sense of the world often by reasoning together as members of a social community. Since none of us is infallible, we rely on the reasoned scrutiny and philosophic meanings tests of others to test the validity and soundness of our truth claims. Although, in the end, each must exercise his or her thinking for himself or herself, in the beginning we think as members of a community by sharing our thoughts and ideas. We offer up reasons (not feelings or unsubstantiated assertions) for our viewpoints, values and ideas. Those reasons are appraised by others according to objective standards.

Cancel culture is a hubristic phenomenon in that it bypasses the dialogical processes by which social reasoning takes place. The proclamation of its edicts is by fiat, and it destroys the community in which shared exchanges take place. At its core, cancel culture is arrogant, misanthropic and anti-social. It recuses broad swaths of moral and social reasoners from the domain of the ethical and the pantheon of the human community, and it asserts the orthodox sensibilities of the anointed few onto humanity at large. You obey the diktats, and you atone for past sins — or you are “canceled.”

In canceling the shared vocabularies on which we rely to remedy seemingly irreconcilable tensions or intractable problems that may not yield a consensus but, instead, require concessions and compromises on anything but fundamental principles, the advocates of cancel culture attempt to bypass the subtle ways we do arrive at concessions and mutually agreed upon compromises — via an appeal to subtext, irony, ambiguity, paradox and an appreciation for the metaphorical nature of language.

The vanguards of cancel culture not only hold that feelings are infallible and are tools of cognition and reliable gauges to apprehending truth, but they also assume something much worse: that the emotional discomfort caused by the vagaries of navigating life’s complexities are a sufficient condition for silencing and punishing dissent and unorthodox discussion.

Theirs is a well-thought-out plan for establishing compliance and conformity vis-à-vis norms, protocols, mores, values, beliefs and principles by way of invoking the moral notion of unity. A phalanx of cultural gatekeepers, appointed by no one in particular, controls the framing of narratives around all aspects of human life.

Cancel culture turns out to be a comprehensive doctrine that aims to define a totalizing conception of the good in all spheres of life for human beings. Part of what constitutes a good liberal order is that it prioritizes the right over the good — which means, the liberal state allows persons to choose their own conception of good for themselves, and to live by it.  

When a phenomenon such as cancel culture begins to involve itself in this comprehensive life enterprise, we should not be surprised that its practitioners are advocating for the erasure of history, toppling statues of historical figures and destroying monuments. The cancelation of cultural and personal history results in the same disaster: a failure to appeal to one’s historic track record, the codified record of one’s values, principles and traditions that function as defenses against crises and tragedy. They are the source of one’s goodness, upon which one will draw for healing when bad things happen. They are part of our moral apparatus that constitutes our humanity. We hold these up for moral appraisal for others to judge us by.

The biggest threat to cancel culture is that phenomenon known as the “marketplace of ideas.” The guardians of cancel culture seek power and control at all costs, along with the concomitant elimination of autonomy and sovereignty and liberty in human beings. Sovereign and autonomous individuals cannot and will not permit their culture, or themselves, to be canceled. It is only those whose agencies have been expropriated and whose dignity has been eviscerated who are candidates for cancelation. Confident and efficacious people who wield their agency confidently are existential antipodes to those bereft of life-affirming counteracting values and vitality.

This battle between the upholders of civilizational values and those who are the perpetrators of cancel culture may not end well. Cancel culture is made possible by a value vacuum in the souls of persons, and in the culture at-large. The right to choose for ourselves, and the right not to be punished for manufactured crimes by moral inverts unwilling to face their malignant narcissism, will need to be asserted.

The battle is being lost right now by default — by the moral masochism of the apologists of American and Western civilization, and by those who are afraid to stand up and intransigently defend their unassailable values. But it is not too late. A vacuum not filled by the sacrificial and cowardly sanction of its victims eventually will atrophy and die. It is up to those who care for liberty, freedom and American civilization to destroy that vacuum by steadily exercising our fundamental values, first principles and virtues.  

This article was originally published in The Hill and was reprinted with the author's permission.

Jason Hill Ph.D.
About the author:
Jason Hill Ph.D.

Jason D. Hill est professeur de philosophie à l'université DePaul, Honors Distinguished Faculty et auteur de cinq livres : What Do White Americans Owe Black People : Racial Justice in the Age of Post Oppression, We Have Overcome : Lettre d'un immigrant au peuple américain, Devenir un cosmopolite : Ce que signifie être un être humain dans le nouveau millénaire, La désobéissance civile et la politique de l'identité : Quand nous ne devrions pas nous entendreet Au-delà des identités sanguines : La posthumanité au XXIe siècle. Le professeur Hill est titulaire d'un doctorat en philosophie et exerce la profession d'écrivain et d'auteur depuis plus de trente ans. Il est spécialiste de l'éthique, de la psychologie morale, de la théorie politique et de la politique américaine. Il est également diplômé en littérature anglaise et en poésie britannique.

Il a donné de nombreuses conférences et enseigné sur le sujet aux États-Unis, en Europe et en Asie. De 2010 à 2012, un consortium de quatre universités anglaises a organisé une série de conférences consacrées au cosmopolitisme post-humain de M. Hill et a adopté la vision morale qu'il contient dans le cadre de son énoncé de mission. Ses articles scientifiques ont été publiés dans des anthologies et des revues en Allemagne, en République tchèque et aux Pays-Bas. En outre, il a écrit pour divers magazines et journaux dans lesquels il a présenté les principes du cosmopolitisme à un large public. Il est également un orateur national très respecté. Il a été régulièrement interviewé par divers médias, dont le Today Show de NBC, le Daily Caller Show, Fox News, Fox and Friends, Spiked Magazine, Fox Business, Billy O'Reilly's NO Spin News, NPR, NRATV, des dizaines de podcasts et plusieurs autres médias grand public/syndiqués. Il est Shillman Journalism Fellow au Freedom Center, où il rédige une chronique bimensuelle pour Front Page Magazine. Le professeur Hill écrit également fréquemment pour THE HILL, The Federalist, Commentary Magazine, The American Mind, American Greatness et Quillette Magazine. Il travaille actuellement sur deux nouveaux livres :Jamaica Boy' in Search of Ayn Rand et Leading in the Midst of Chaos : Creating America's New Manifest Destiny.

Il est profondément attaché au fondamentalisme moral, à l'universalisme moral, à l'absolutisme de la raison, à l'individualisme intransigeant et au capitalisme sans entraves.

Le professeur Hill est arrivé aux États-Unis à l'âge de vingt ans, en provenance de la Jamaïque, et il y a prospéré au-delà de ses rêves les plus fous. Il reste incroyablement reconnaissant à ce pays pour les nombreuses opportunités qu'il lui offre.

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