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Yet Wolman and Colamosca recall a truth the left tries to soft-pedal: The End of the End of the End of Ideology 25 The economic pathology of communist and socialist states does not by itself prove the case against government. The state has done enough good and the unfettered free market enough harm in the industrial countries of the West during the twentieth century to raise serious concerns about the ultimate impact of the right-wing drift of economic policy throughout the industrial world.

To be sure, these authors harbor no far-reaching vision of the future. They anticipate crises and limited employment, but call for only limited reforms, "grounded in the possible," a better balance between labor and capital. In short, they believe "capitalism must be saved from itself. The point is hardly that improved air, enhanced welfare or a broader democracy is bad.

The question, rather, is the extent a commitment to reasonable measures supplants a commitment to unreasonable ones—those more subversive and visionary. Can liberalism with a backbone exist if its left turns mushy?

The End Of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy by Russell Jacoby (5 star ratings)

Does radicalism persist if reduced to means and methods? Does a left survive if it abandons a Utopian hope or plan? Adorno some years ago, has "disappeared completely from the conception of socialism. Thereby the apparatus, the how, the means of socialist society have taken over any possible content.


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This is only half right. Marxism and utopianism did not exist as simple opposites. These thinkers protested an idea of the future as an improved model of the present, where labor was not abolished or minimized, but simply better compensated.


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  • Lafargue argued that not only economists and moralists, but socialists and laborers, believe that more work is the cure for social and personal ills. His pamphlet opened with a parody of the opening of The Communist Manifesto: "A strange delusion possesses the working c l a s s e s. This delusion is the love of work, the furious passion for work. Though the ancient world understood that work was a curse, modern industrial society spreads its gospel. The working class, Lafargue hopelessly hoped, must reject the work fetish.

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    It must demand "the Rights of Laziness," restricting labor to three hours and "reserving the rest of the day and night for leisure and feasting. Even the poorest would eat five times a day with a choice of twelve types of soup, twelve types of bread and wine and twelve dressings for meat and vegetables.

    Unlike Kuttner, who proposes policy juries, Fourier commended tasting juries; he anticipated, as his biographer puts it, "a day when the wars of civilization would be The End of the End of the End of Ideology 27 replaced by what amounted to international cooking contests. A nation's true greatness, what the economists regard as its true glory, is to sell more pairs of trousers to the neighbouring empire than its buys from them.

    Amid the revolutionary surges following World War I, the Hungarian Georg Lukacs set forth a theory of the "old and new culture" in which he argued that the socialist economy was not the goal; it was simply a precondition for humanity to advance to a new and humane culture. Most radicals do not understand that political power and economic reorganization is not the end-all, stated Lukacs. The goal is not a new economic order, but freedom from an obsession with economics.

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    We can clarify this with a very simple example: someone is racking his brain over a complex scientific problem but during his work he contracts an unrelenting toothache. Clearly, in most cases he would be unable to remain in the stream of his thought and work until the immediate pain is relieved. The annihilation of capitalism, the new socialist reconstruction of the economy, means the healing of all toothaches for the whole of humanity.

    According to Hardison, the motto derives from a poem of Virgil that gave a recipe for a cheese ball, a favorite of Roman farmers. The originators of the great seal of the United States, who sanctioned the saying, included Jefferson, Adams and Franklin.

    They commissioned a Swiss-French artist to design the seal, and either he or Franklin borrowed the words from a well-known English journal, The Gentleman's Magazine, where E Pluribus Unum regularly ran on the title page. The Gentleman's Magazine, in turn, had picked it up from an earlier periodical published in London by a French Huguenot, Pierre Antoine Montteux, who seemed to have invented the motto.

    In adopting the epigram for The Gentleman's Magazine, its editor, Edward Cave, seemed to have something else in mind. Cave's magazine often consisted of material abridged from other sources. Early English magazines often sported mottoes that alluded to their diversity. Cave, who also had the habit of pinching, altering and fabricating material for his magazine, earned a reputation as a literary buccaneer. One nineteenth-century historian who reflected on this tangled history found the story shameful: We have been singularly unfortunate in our choice of a motto, and it would be difficult to find one more infelicitous or more inappropriate for a great nation than "E pluribus unum.

    Every citizen who has the besr interests of his country at his heart must regret that our present motto was so unfortunately chosen and is so utterly unfit for a great republic. The phrases kick off a thousand speeches and articles; they appear in hundreds of essays and books. Government officials, college administrators, corporate executives, museum curators and high-school principals—to name just a few— declare their commitment to multiculturalism.

    One sign of the times: The American Council on Education published a guide to programs and publications on cultural diversity that runs four hundred pages.

    The End of Utopia: Politics and Culture in an Age of Apathy

    Publicly at least, they hesitate to forcefully protest a larger multiculturalism. To establish its credentials, a conservative foundation put out a magazine called Diversity edited by an African American with the name David S. They define themselves by their enthusiasm for multiculturalism—the more you support it the more virtuous you are.

    Scholars have finally set about exploring and amending and expanding the notions of pluralism. Multiculturalism was not always so popular. Horace 3vl. Kallen, who virtually copyrighted the term cultural pluralism, stated in that the idea was "popular nowhere in the United States.

    The End Of Utopia: Politics And Culture In An Age Of Apathy

    Vast immigration and World War I aggravated the public's fears of foreigners; Americanization and assimilation, not pluralism and diversity, became the watchwords. We can "still argue about the details," but multiculturalism is here to stay; its victory is "complete. By the s, however "a sea change had taken place. Christopher Newfield and Avery F. Gordon, two University of California professors, rebuke Rush Limbaugh, the conservative commentator, for his attacks on multiculturalism, observing he "rightly feels marginal to a diversity that is becoming an accomplished fact in the realm of culture.

    Diversity commands the mainstream; the conservative nay-sayer is on the margins.

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    How come? Has a program supported by Kallen and a few other dissenting intellectuals simply won everyone over? Has a new and varied immigration forced recognition of cultural diversity? Have cultural groups become more assertive and Americans more tolerant, liberal and cosmopolitan? Is the applause for multiculturalism a straightfoward success story, one of increasing enthusiasm for an increasingly diverse America? Or is it the result, as Nathan Glazer believes, of "the failure to bring a larger share of blacks into the common society? Multiculturalism also plugs a gaping intellectual hole.

    Stripped of a radical idiom, robbed of a Utopian hope, liberals and leftists re- The Myth of Multiculturalism 33 treat in the name of progress to celebrate diversity. With few ideas on how a future should be shaped, they embrace all ideas. Pluralism becomes the catch-all, the alpha and omega of political thinking. Dressed up as multiculturalism, it has become the opium of disillusioned intellectuals, the ideology of an era without an ideology. The issue is not cultural pluralism itself.

    Ideas of diversity and its kin: pluralism, variety, cultural pluralism and multiculturalism are neither false nor objectionable; on the contrary, they arc true and attractive.

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    Diversity characterizes the natural, physical and cultural worlds—and we generally take delight in differences, not uniformity. Most people, and probably most philosophers, prefer pluralism and diversity to totality and the absolute.