|(E) "Evil" Syntactical Minimalism
|By Nenad N. Bach |
(E) "Evil" Syntactical Minimalism
"Nacionalizam je grobar imperijalizma"
Onward and Upward
By George F. Will
Tuesday, March 12, 2002; Page A21
Throughout the six months since Sept. 11, Americans, who have a sociological
itch and a psychoanalytic bent, have examined themselves for signs that, as
was said immediately after the attacks, "everything has changed." Actually,
almost everything is almost always very much as it was six months earlier.
But since the attacks, there have been some welcome changes, manifested in
many things, from rhetoric to music to manners to reading.
President Bush's rhetorical style -- syntactical minimalism: Midland, Tex.,
meets MBA-speak -- is what it was before Sept. 11, but it suits the new
sobriety. Were Bush to attempt the Ciceronian flourishes of John Kennedy
("Now the trumpet summons us again -- not as a call to bear arms, though
arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are . . .") it
would be like Handel played on a harmonica. Bush's terseness is Ernest
Hemingway seasoned by John Wesley.
His promiscuous use of the word "evil" is partly an unself-conscious
expression of his religiosity. But he also uses "evil" for a policy purpose
similar to Ronald Reagan's in calling the Soviet Union the "evil empire" and
"the focus of evil in the modern world."
Reagan intended to re-moralize foreign policy, which had been de-moralized
by detente, which Reagan believed had demoralized Americans. Bush
understands that the heat from burning jet fuel made the national mind akin
to hot wax -- malleable. Gone is the judgment that "judgmentalism" is
intolerant, hence intolerable. Gone, too, is the intelligentsia's consensus
that the only absolute is relativism -- the doctrine that all values are
mere "social constructs," hence equally arbitrary and evanescent. Since
Sept. 11, America's mind is no longer so open that everything of value falls
Soon after Sept. 11, Wal-Mart's shelves held Little Patriots Diapers,
spangled with little blue stars. Americans are not only virtuosos of
marketing, they are famously patriotic. Nationalistic, too. Patriotism is
love of one's country; nationalism is the assertion of national superiority.
Nationalism is the rejection of cultural relativism, the basis of
"multiculturalism." Hence nationalism is anathema to the avant garde.
It is axiomatic that everything changes except the avant garde, which in
America is frozen in an adversarial pose toward the nation beyond the campus
gates. But who cares? It has been 40 years since the Kennedy administration
was stocked with academics chattering about a confluence of the Charles and
Potomac rivers. Sept. 11 sealed the self-marginalization of the adversarial
The world has moved onward and, for now, upward, as Terry Teachout, the
distinguished music critic, discovered in an epiphany at a Manhattan
McDonald's. There a radio was playing music, and the music was neither rock
nor rap. It was Diana Krall, the jazz singer, elegantly rendering "The Look
"Beauty," Teachout wrote in early January, "is becoming fashionable again."
Which means it has become mentionable again. The idea of beauty was another
casualty of the silly socialization -- "Everything is relative" -- of the
idea of relativity in physics. Beauty, like truth, was declared "relative,"
meaning "socially conditioned" and a matter of opinion. Then, says Teachout,
came Sept. 11's brutal reminder "that some things aren't a matter of
When Teachout wrote that, Krall's "The Look of Love" was eighth on
Amazon.com's list of best-selling CDs. Two months later it is still high on
the list, at 15th. It includes such standards as "S'Wonderful," "Cry Me a
River" and "I Get Along Without You Very Well."
Are standards out of date? Certainly. They always are out of date. That,
says playwright Alan Bennett, is why we call them standards.
Chippendale-style furniture, crystal chandeliers and the wearing of suits on
no-longer-quite-so-casual-Fridays are back in fashion. To the lingering
1960s sensibility, formality, decorousness and etiquette seemed
authoritarian. Since Sept. 11 they seem respectful and reassuring.
The New York Times bestseller list includes two hefty biographies of dead
white males, David McCullough's "John Adams," already a bestseller before
Sept. 11, and Edmund Morris's study of Teddy Roosevelt, "Theodore Rex."
Perhaps Sept. 11 strengthened the public's immunity to the theory of many
academic historians ("history from the bottom up" or "history with politics
left out") that any biography -- other than of, say, a midwife in
14th-century Barcelona -- is reactionary because it suggests that some
people matter more than others in the human story.
These have been six difficult months for diversity-mongers who preach that
America is a mere "mosaic" -- coagulated groups rather than united
individuals. And difficult months for the "everything is just a matter of
opinion" chorus. These have been good months.
© 2002 The Washington Post Company
Gorge Will je i prije razumno pisao o nacionalizmu, na primjer u WP od 11.
kolovoza 1991. :
"Nu u moderno doba, demokracija pretpostavlja nacionalizam. Nacionalizam je
osjecaj zajednicke sudbine baziranoj na zajednickoj povijesti i civilnoj
kulturi unutar odredjena podrucja. Ukljucuje pozitivan ponos--preferenciju
za bastinjenu tradiciju i mjesne posebnosti. Kao sto pise Noel Malcolm,
demokracija je vladavina naroda, a nacionalizam je preduvjet za oblikovanje
naroda. Ruzno je, kaze, od diplomata iz nezavisnih drzava dijeliti lekcije
porobljenim narodima u Sovjetskomu Savezu i Jugoslaviji o nepozeljnosti
Demokracija je postala moguca kada su razliciti narodi postigli nacionalne
radije nego vjerske ili dinasticke lojalnosti. Demokracija moze napredovati
u staroj sovjetskoj sferi samo kad cvjetaju nacionalizmi, koji su bili dugo
potiskivani od anti-nacionalnih ideologija."
Nacionalizam je grobar imperijalizma i imperijalnih tvorevina. To
imperijalisti ne mogu nacionalizmu nikad oprostiti.
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