THE CENTRE CANNOT HOLD: WHEN A CIVILIZATION’S CORE VALUES AND BELIEFS ARE SO FUNDAMENTALLY FRAGMENTED, FRAYED, TORN, AND ECLECTICALLY DIVERSE AND DECONSTRUCTED THAT NO SENSE OF ‘WE-NESS’ CAN ANY LONGER BE SAID TO EXIST AS A COHESIVE FORCE WITHIN OUR SOCIETY AS CORE PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH THE DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTENANCE OF THE PERIPHERY OF SOCIETY CAN BE PREDICATED.
I think I was taking one of my daily 45 minute health walks the other day as I recently finished my first semester in Social Service Work at Niagara College and have been going through another one of my twice-yearly periods of debriefing and reflective ‘summing up’, when it struck me as to just how fundamentally flawed western civilization has become and just how unsustainable it really is.
I mention this because all throughout my first semester at school I learned about some pretty interesting, yet very diametrically-opposed principles. First off, I learned about Diversity in Canada, and how it has evolved and gotten to be even more profoundly complex and eclectic as yet ever more minority constituencies lobby for a place on the various levels of government’s policy agenda and policy outcome process as well as the all-important process of ‘awareness-raising.’
I learned about the very concerted efforts not only of the homosexual community’s efforts to be heard, but also a whole wide range of other alternative manifestations of human sexuality such as transgender, trans man, trans woman, trans sexual, transvestite, queer, two-spirited, questioning and so on, the list just seemed to grow ever larger and more complex and eclectic the more the alternative sexuality lobby was permitted to have free reign to express itself and have unlimited access to the public forum for the airing of its concerns and demands for change.
Then there was the mental health lobby, of which I can say honestly I am a part. We had a gentleman, who is a friend of mine, come in and tell his story about how he recovered from Schizophrenia and now leads a normal life with a wife and two kids. We learned a lot about bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder and schizoaffective disorder, which is what I’ve got, and the tremendous cost to society of these things.
Accompanying the mental health concerns was the addictions aspect of things, and that there was over 450 BILLION $ spent every year on the planet on illicit narcotics alone, excluding alcohol and tobacco, and another equivalent amount on prostitution. Blew my mind.
Then there was the disability constituency. Or should I say the ‘ability’ issue, because we are no longer supposed to speak of a ‘dis’ ability, which is pejorative, focusing on what we cannot do, but rather on the ‘ability’ to do something to our potential. All a question of massaging and spin doctoring the message to suit the political correctness of the times. We covered a wide array of issues here, especially concerning ‘universal design’ in buildings, and how the current level of accommodated design with door openers and ramps is just ‘not good enough’ and that all public buildings, if the ‘ability’ lobby has its way, will have to be totally redesigned AGAIN.
All this made me wonder: what are the limits, if any, on the politics of inclusion? Do all of these disparate and non-cohesive lobbies see any sort of limit on their ability to wrest further and further accommodations from a secular state, whose resources, especially its fiscal fortitude within the context of a sluggish economy and flat if not negative population growth situation, is limited at best, and declining at worst, especially given the tendency for the neo-conservative element within society to willfully and systematically deconstruct all of the elements of the 20th century welfare state which came before us?
My Mother always said, in her flights of French-Canadian fancy: ‘y’a une limite à toute, là!’ In other words, ‘there is a limit to everything!’, at least in this mortal coil, with the possible exception of God’s Divine Mercy and Love, which is arguably eternal and unlimited. What I’m saying is, I think, in fact I know now, that Mom was right. I’m currently reading ‘I’m OK, you’re OK’, the now famous book by Dr. Thomas A. Harris, a psychiatrist from California who made quite a stir in 1968 with this book all about what he called ‘Transactional Analysis’, basically breaking down all interpersonal relationships into four life positions: 1) I’m not OK, you’re OK, 2) I’m not OK, you’re not OK, 3) I’m OK, you’re not OK and 4 I’m OK, you’re OK.
In the book, Dr. Harris talks about how these four ‘life positions’ interact through three different registers, Parent, Child and Adult, whereby what our parents tell us between the ages of 0-5 years of age gets recorded and replayed as well as relived later in life as we grow up. As well, our Child within us records all of the aspects both good and bad from being a child of 0-5 and our Adult self tries to reconcile the two as we get older and selects or discerns whether or not what our Parent within us, based on what our own parents taught us, jibes with our own lived experience as children as we grow up to be adults ourselves. Meaning, was Mom actually right when she said ‘watch out when you cross the street’? Was Dad right when he said to always hand someone a tool with the handle facing the other person?
Basically if the answer is ‘yes’, then we have a much better chance of our Adult self being OK eventually. So getting back to Mom and there being limits to everything, I can’t help but wonder, ‘where is it all going to end?’ Or ‘where are we going with all of this fragmentation of our social fabric?’ As I understand the denizens of this deconstructionist agenda, their goal is to establish a new Post-Modern, Post-Industrial order based entirely upon diversity alone and diversity of and for its own sake, with explicitly no common denominator or common thread weaving its way through it all so as to give this eclectic pastiche and mish mash of special interest initiatives and outcomes any semblance of cohesion based on any sort of common set of ethno-linguistic matrix of norms, values, monotheistic beliefs, linguisto-cultural standards of say Gallo-Roman and Anglo-Saxon juridico-legal and socio-political, socio-religious and socio-cultural standards of practice and so on.
Again, blows my mind. On the other hand, another one of my courses in Social Work this time, the one focusing on Group Work, was big on ‘Cohesion’ and building ‘Group Cohesion’ through greater participation, attendance, commitment, which leads to greater cohesion and goal attainment. This being said, I’m sure we could say that these rules apply just as much for the overall societal ‘group’ in Canada as a whole as they do for a therapy group.
So how are we going to attain a greater level of achievement of goals through greater group cohesion, through engendering a greater level of commitment, attendance and participation in society as a whole ‘group’, when we are actively discouraging the development of any sort of group cohesion based on a common adherence to group norms, values, beliefs and standards, apart from saying that ’everybody is unique, everybody is special and needs to potentially be accommodated through some sort of special treatment.’
Basically by saying that, we have just Balkanized Canadian society down to the most atomistic, even sub-tribal level, essentially fragmenting the totality of all of Canadian society down to the individual level and saying that each individual needs to have tailor-made solutions and outcomes fitted to their own particular circumstances, irrespective of any form of collective vision or outlook towards promoting the greater good of society. So essentially, these Post-Modern lefties have got it backasswards, they’re trying to promote a vision of what they believe to be the common, collective good, by essentially deconstructing the collective down to its smallest atomistic, fragmentary and individualistic components, then assuming that all these fragments will somehow, of their own accord and volition, reconstitute themselves, like some sort of Bad Cop Terminator entity that gets blown to smithereens by Arnold the Governator, but which instinctively pools itself back together by itself back into a whole entity, by slithering in silvery pools of ooze on the floor back into its original shape. Again folks, blows my mind!
Is not the common good or greater good just that? It’s finding the ties that bind us together and raising ourselves up and out of the devolutionary spiral that we find ourselves in increasingly in the face of an increasingly vocal, demagogic, misinformational, disinformational and very well-monied neo-conservative onslaught, which seeks nothing less than to utterly discredit and discount the left out of hand as being utterly morally bankrupt, perverted, corrupt, and constitutionally dishonest, desanctified and desacralized.
I can only hope that my fellow Liberals, Social Democrats, and Progressively-minded Conservative fellow travellers can find it in their hearts, minds and souls to see through, above and beyond the eclectic and fragmentary deconstructionist tendencies of today’s Post-Cold War Progressive politics and to make an effort to coalesce into something worth fighting for. Funny how a 45 minute walk around the block will do that to you.