The title of my essay was the expression of the epiphany which the Leftist French philosopher, Jean-Francois Revel (1924-2006), experienced after visiting the U.S.A. in the 1960s.
That is, after actually seeing what America was like, he woke up to the real dynamism and greatness of her freedom, as opposed to the caricature from all the anti-American propaganda he had, until then, taken for granted.
Years later, after 911 and after seeing anti-Americanism rear its ugly head yet again around the world, blaming 911 on American foreign policy as some kind of deserved “blowback”, he published a book in 2003, Anti-Americanism, bringing together all the various threads of his reawakening.
As a former Leftist, he had lauded Communism and Socialism as the agents of righteous change for the 20th century. But after his epiphany in America, he saw that the real revolution was happening in America — that the real revolution is, in fact, America herself.
I now quote more extensively from Revel from a paragraph that ends with the titular sentence above:
“As I stressed in my book Without Marx or Jesus, what I meant by “revolution” in the context of America was less a political phenomenon at the highest levels of power than a series of transformations spontaneously occurring within society at a deep level. These radical changes had been born, were evolving and would continue to evolve independently of political transitions at the national level. You can change the government without changing society; conversely, you can change society without changing the government. The American Free Speech Movement sprang forth and continued to grow as vigorously under Republican presidents as under Democrats; it was able to do so largely because it never–or very rarely–regressed into the backward ideologies of the nineteenth century or the Marxist pseudo-revolutionary theoretical straitjackets of the twentieth. In my book, I argued that a revolution in this sense is a phenomenon that had hitherto never taken place, an event that would develop along lines other than the known historical ones and that could not be thought about–or even perceived–in terms of the old categories. It was obvious to me that the real revolution was taking place not in Cuba, but in California.”
While Revel is right to revel in this American achievement of becoming the global driving force of a powerful “liberal democracy”, his enthusiasm seems a bit one-dimensional and vulnerable to a simplistic optimism.
I.e., the very same revolution Revel champions also carried with it the pathogen, so to speak, of PC MC (Politically Correct Multi-Culturalism) — a pathogen that would be far more successful than Leftism or its more radical forms of Communism, Marxism or Fascism in influencing the hearts and minds of millions of Westerners. On all sides of the political spectrum — Left, Right, Center and that nougaty center, the Comfortably Apolitical — and on all levels of sociological existence — whether rich, poor or middle class — PC MC has had enormous effect.
Certainly, many people on the Right may resist the pathogen of PC MC with respect to some sociopolitical issues. With regard to one issue, however, the majority of Westerners agree to see it through the lens of PC MC. And that one issue is the problem of Islam. The majority of the West persists — sincerely and obtusely — in resisting the only conclusion which a reasonable mind can draw after assessing the mountains and oceans of dots of data about Islam and about Muslims. When those dots are connected, they lead to the following conclusions:
1) Islam is a deadly seditious ideology, deadly to all cultures and nations
2) All Muslims who enable Islam are therefore deadly seditionists
3) While there may exist a certain number of Muslims who do not wish to advance the deadly sedition of their Islam, our problem is that we cannot tell the difference between them and the millions of Muslims who do — and so, if we want to honor our #1 priority, the safety of our societies, we are forced to treat all Muslims as equally deadly.
Because of the effects of PC MC on millions of Westerners, they cannot think the three propositions listed above. They positively recoil from them, and fear that if they even thought this thought crime, they would be guilty of “bigotry” and “racism” — and that sooner or later they would be unable to stop themselves from going down the slippery slope toward concentration camps and genocide against Muslims.
And the reason for this massively successful mainstream dominance of the PC MC mindset throughout the West is, precisely, this shift in worldview that occurred in the 20th century, given a tremendous boost by the “cultural revolution” of America in the 1960s.
Along with the waves of genuinely good social change which Jean-Francois Revel rightly celebrates, unfortunately also came surf-riding the axioms and givens of PC MC.
Let’s hope we can separate these two currents of the modern West reasonably, and see — before it’s too late — that Islam is the worst enemy of liberal democracy and of classical freedom the world has ever known; and that PC MC, in enabling Islam, is only shooting itself, and its own West, in the foot.
Anti-Americanism since 911 (the essay by Jean-Francois Revel, published in 2003 on the Front Page website)