Mayhem. It can be taken as another word for “chaotic transition”, or even Nietzsche’s “two centuries of nihilism”. Etymologically the word “mayhem” is related to the word “maim” — to cause injury or harm – but which has also come to mean disorder or chaos.
Very often, I’ve found, what is often excused and justified as the “war on political correctness” is not what it paints itself to be, for what has also fallen under the rubric of “political correctness” includes civility, politeness, responsibility, and what we might call “common decency”.
In reaction to “political correctness”, its opponents paint themselves as, contrariwise, “plainspeaking” or “telling it like it is”, which are merely self-rationalisation and excuse-making for incivility, irresponsibility, or even the outright feral and barbaric. “Plain-speaking” or “telling it like it is” becomes a mere euphemism for the abandonment of any and all civility, obligation, self-discipline, and sense of responsibility, and therewith the jettisoning of all norms of civilised conduct in exchange for an orgy of sheer libertinage in speech and conduct.
Nihilism by another name, it is also probably a result of the post-modern “loss of self” and sense of identity, and in some sense is only the inverted mirror image of that which it pretends to despise as an intransigent “political correctness” as mandating an excessive degree of self-constraint and self-inhibition. The politically correct are over-civilised, while the “plain-spoken” are under-civilised.
To the mind, light. To the heart, warmth. To the will, strength. So says the Bulgarian Christian mystic Peter Deunov. In this formula, thinking, feeling, and willing are covered as aspects of the human form.
But with this formula also the bias that is fairly typical of the merely religious, and especially of Christian mysticism, is revealed, for what is missing is the sensuous, and therewith beauty. And so, to this trinity we might add a fourth: to the senses, beauty.
Only then is the human form complete, and perfected in truth, in love, in strength, and in beauty.
Monomania, in which one direction is pursued to the exclusion of the others, is deformation. The True, the Good, the Beautiful are not separate things. They are aspects or facets of one thing which is still hid to man’s clear perception and comprehension, but which is called by Gebser “diaphanon“.
“The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty, the hands and feet Proportion.” –( Blake, The Proverbs of Hell).
One of the classical meanings of the word “liberal” is “generous”. That’s not what think, today, in the term “neo-liberal”, which has come to mean the opposite — piracy and greediness. And one of the classical meanings of “conservative” is “prudent”. But that’s not what it means in the term “neo-conservative”, which by its embrace of “creative destruction” is anything but prudent. Conservatives now think of themselves as revolutionaries. In fact, the ancient tension between the liberal and the conservative was a conflict of values — between the generous and the prudent.
In the “new normal” something has happened to language. In a thousand ways we have betrayed it. And now it begins to betray us.
Robert O. Paxton, author of The Anatomy of Fascism and an authority on fascist movements, thinks we shouldn’t be too hasty in calling the negative or nihilistic aspects of the “new normal” by the name “fascism”. But while it is true that too many people bandy the word “fascist” about far too loosely and without comprehension, we don’t have to wait until fascism becomes full blown, mainstream, established fact and “objective reality”, or wait for it to strip away “the mask of sanity” and declare itself explicitly as “new normal”, to recognise fascism. How long do you wait until you call the negative and nihilistic aspects of “post-truth society”, “the culture of narcissism”, “post-Enlightenment” or “end of history” by its name — fascism?
…the language is that of Mordor, which I will not utter here….” — Gandalf the Grey
You may have noticed it. What was once unspeakable has become speakable again. Even if not respectable or decent it has gained some measure of “legitimacy”. What was once on the margins or periphery of mainstream culture and the public discourse has insinuated itself into the mainstream. It no longer even pretends to disguise itself as something other than it is or impersonate what it is not. It’s the language of fascism which, I am very sorry to say, has become something of a fate for post-modernity and our “end of history” and is probably the instrument by which Gebser’s dreadful “law of the earth” will be fulfilled.