Introduction:

The linguistic turn was now complete, the death of science had been “verified” by the advent of quantum mechanics and the pronouncement of death was delivered by the praised champion of logical positivists, Ludwig Wittgenstein. The ensuing scramble of the scientific community to regain its stronghold over our country’s cultural sensibilities was accompanied by an onslaught of scholarly research from many of the marginalized segments of society that had been previously relegated to second class status within our society because of their ideological affinity to primitive sensibilities.

O.K., I know what you’re thinking. You feel that now that we understand how the entire history of privilege that served as the foundation for the accumulation of wealth into the hands of the few or preferred race of White Anglo Saxons, we should, perhaps, seek to introduce a more egalitarian distribution of wealth. That is profoundly absurd. We must realize that in this society truth has no inherent value. There is a difference between a coherence theory of truth and a correspondence theory of truth. If you have read my story to this point and you believe that it represent what has transpired in Western European “civilization”, then what you have taken is a correspondence approach to truth. That is, you see truth as being based on a relationship to what actually occurred in the world, between what happened and what we believe. This will get you nowhere. Western European societies employ a notion of truth that is based in the logical coherence of its own self serving propositions. In this way American society has been able to maintain a position of privilege for the social and economic elite based on a foundation of self-serving logical constructs.

The Collapse of Science

Let us briefly recap my favorite part of the story, the collapse of science. As you may recall, it all started with the advent of quantum mechanics. Specifically, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle incontrovertibly denies the ability of science to pinpoint the existence of matter. In other words, scientists were no longer able to tell what is “real”.

Willard Van Orman Quine (1908 to 2000), in Two Dogmas of Empiricism, set out to attack the basis of scientific methodology in the analytic tradition following the lead of Ludwig Wittgenstein in his linguistic turn away from the logical positivists. The two dogmas to which Quine referred were: first, the distinction between analytic truths and synthetic truths, and; secondly, the scientific notion of reductionism or the idea that meaningful statement get their meaning from some logical construction of terms that refer to immediate experience. You may recall that in our story I address the first dogma in terms of the difference between a coherence and a correspondence theory of truth. The philosophical significance of this dogma was that it was now necessary to give up the scientific prejudice of the logical positivists in claiming that the language of science was empirically verifiable.

[Sidebar]: Don’t think for a minute that the scientific community lost any sleep over this turn of events. To play the role of an apologist for the scientific community, an American philosopher by the name of Karl Popper was quick to introduce the theory of falsifiability. As a philosophical “do over”, the notion of falsifiability maintains that a scientific theory, a theory generated following scientific methodology, is taken to be true until it can be falsified by empirical evidence. Can you say, “kiss my ass” in French?

The Critique of Culture

Over the course of the past 75 years or so, since quantum mechanics pulled the foundation of truth out from under the scientific community, it would appear that humanity as a whole has made tremendous strides in industrial and technological advancements. Shall we consider it irony that once we realized that the modernist programmatic had been based on sheer fabrication and self-delusion that the very same sense of order that had been tarnished would produce so much wealth and luxury for all humanity? Certainly there are those that would argue very convincingly that humanity is better off for having followed the modernist path regardless of the fact that in some technical sense absolute justification as we know it may rightly be withheld. However, there is more to life than meets the eye and the spiritual and psychological state of the human condition is a valid consideration.

Let us briefly and albeit superficially examine the contemporary status of the human condition within the context of Critical Theory and our relation to nature. I would like to point out that in my considerations of critical theory I will be considering the relations between the use of language, power and authority. Following such considerations I will address the ontological relationship between humanity and nature that can be said to run through the entire evolution of the modernist programmatic and compare this relationship to that of the indigenous indio from whom my mestizo ancestors have descended. In this context we will come full circle to my underlying thesis in the story. That is, I have been telling you in my review of Western European civilization why I have entitled my story “Surviving Modernist Ideology”.

On Critical Theory: Revealing The Culture Industry

At the beginning of the twentieth century a group of German Jews gathered together to give rise to the academic discipline of critical theory. It was, of course, during the beginning of the twentieth century that German Jews were faced with unprecedented forms of oppression leading up to the holocaust. Shortly after the turn of the century two of these scholars, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno, published their groundbreaking text, The Dialectic of Enlightenment. There are two points that I would like for you to come away with from my discussion of the meaning and significance of this text:

1. Western European societies have witnessed the entrenchment of modernist ideology in the consciousness of its people since the very beginning of the Enlightenment on the grounds of a developing culture industry. The basis or underlying objective of this culture industry was the fabrication of accepted truths that would ultimately lead to the production of power and authority for the social and economic elite.

2. This system of fabricated truths was then used very successfully to consciously and intentionally dominate and oppress all those not willing to subsume their world views to the allegiance to science inherent in such truths that, in their own right, sought to follow the scientific programmatic to control nature to produce goods for the betterment of mankind. Naturally, this process had the added advantage of simultaneously leading to the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the privileged few.

It is this, then, that is the true significance and legacy of Western European civilization. Can you say “self-righteousness” with a symbolic gesture involving the use of your middle finger?

The Significance of A Counter-Culture

I am a born and raised member of the social class or group of people often simply treated as the “other” in our advanced society; one of those people that are often grouped together with absolutely no commonality except their opposition to the dominant culture of this Western European society. For example, as a “Chicano” (read: blood thirsty, human-heart sacrificing, mestizo savage, gang member), I stand side-by-side with Muslims and Gypsies to name but two of many culturally inferior groups of people with world views that are lumped together under their catch-all classification as “other”.

In this context, I may not have a clue what it means to be a “Muslim” or a “Gypsy” but I know exactly how they feel about being invisible in terms of human worth or value in the eyes of Western European societies. I know how they feel about being totally disrespected for their own world views and how they have been forced to live by the standards of what is believed to be right in the eyes of Western European society. Most importantly, I know what it feels like to have your land and all of its natural wealth seized through militaristic dominance and ideological self-righteousness used by the dominant culture to cloak its own ugliness. The people they have slaughtered, women they have raped, children they have murdered, mean nothing when it is done in the name of the dollar, the gun and the holy war, Amen. While I do not condone the acts of terrorist suicide bombers and I am an American Veteran that would defend my equally duped bothers and sisters in combat (right or wrong), I can very easily empathize and imagine how they must feel to prefer death over life under conditions of cultural and ideological domination.

As an intelligent man I realize that my position requires an advanced knowledge base and many years of study that has managed to remain free of cultural assimilation, not to mention a willingness to suffer the wrath and disdain of even my own family members, I cannot and will not pretend that I do not see the ugliness that is at the heart of my own society. For example, none of the social contract theorists we considered bothered to take an approach to developing their understanding of the social contract that includes or incorporates the existence of individuals with differing world views.

We live in a degenerate society. Can any fair minded American take pride in what this country did to the Native American Indians, or the way the land of the Mexicans was taken over, the enslavement of the Negro and prolonged oppression of these various groups of people in the name of assimilation? For a country that professes equality, is the second class status of women justified? Did the spread of world-wide Western European colonialism ever take into consideration the world-view of a colonized people?

We can even completely ignore the significance of the “other” and concentrate on the American ethic in and of itself and still find evidence of why our society is degenerate. Consider the dog eat dog rat race of the business world. Not only is it not pretty, nor is it for the faint of heart, it will surely require the most successful among us to alienate themselves from their families and loved ones to the point of being totally dysfunctional. The activities engaged in by the wealthy leading up to our current economic crisis are perfect examples of what I’m talking about.

[Sidebar]: Since I know and love my people, because, as a bilingual-bicultural Chicano, they are, after all, still very much my people, let me say a few things to shut the cry babies up that, out of ignorance and blind hatred, are at this very moment telling me what I can do with myself and with my life if I don’t like being an American. First of all, I believe that the United States is one of the greatest if not the greatest country in the world, skin heads, red necks and gang bangers notwithstanding. I also believe that I am perhaps in the best country to be able to face and overcome historical injustice. It takes a strong character to face your own shortcomings and the fact that I believe that things must change is not based on a hatred of the country but a love of the country that is not unlike the love we feel for a family member that has taken the wrong path in life and needs our support and encouragement to right themselves.

In the same way that a beautiful flower can grow in a field filled with mud and shit and dirt, so too has the American landscape been able to produce much beauty among the ugly remains of the modernist programmatic and the self-righteous deeds of those that have intentionally dominated and oppressed others in an effort to maintain their own status of privilege, power and wealth. As an equal part of the legacy of this country, such behavior can never be denied.