I now know what Emerson meant. The people who believe that it takes one to know one, who know exactly who and what they are, to whom and what they belong, want no single person ever to survive as singular. They aim at complete possession. One may be tempted to cooperate out of fellow feeling or from weakness of will — two things that are sometimes hard to tell apart. But in moods like these it is useful to recall two further sentences from “Self-Reliance”: “Your goodness must have some edge to it,—else it is none. The doctrine of hatred must be preached, as the counteraction of the doctrine of love, when that pules and whines.” Against the bureaucrats of sexual, racial, ethnic, and religious purity, who invoke with such misleading intent the language of community, a resistance that amounts to hatred may be the sanest feeling to cherish. It gives, at least, some edge to whatever integral humanity one must call upon, and serves as a reminder that the caring groups are really as hard as nails: they want to destroy us, each of us, and always for the sake of all.
— David Bromwich, “The New Fundamentalists,” Politics by Other means: Higher Education and Group Thinking
I don’t read any of the so-called “Dark Enlightenment” bloggers, but I will happily borrow their clever term, “the Cathedral,” which Urban Dictionary defines as “the broadly left leaning ‘media academia complex’ in which Western Liberal democracy is steeped.” (“Media-academia complex” is an apt and amusing twist on an old cliché as well.) I especially like the connotations of it being a state religion (and let’s be honest, when even janitors and school bus drivers in wealthy suburbs are forced to sit through privilege-indoctrination seminars, I think it’s fair to call it not only a state religion but a persecuting religion as well, and none of us are insignificant enough to be allowed to remain beneath notice).
John McWhorter is working on a new book about the people whom he calls the “Elect,” his term for the woke, especially the race-obsessed variety. Joel Kotkin has referred to the “clerisy” for many years. In my idle moments, I’ve often wondered what we should call that hard-to-define class of people. “Upper class” or “cultural elites” seem to imply a certain economic bracket, but if I can paraphrase something I vaguely remember Tom Wolfe saying a long time ago, economics doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how it is that a freelance clickbait writer in Brooklyn making 20K a year can feel superior to a Midwestern electrician or plumber making 60k. “Diversicrats” is witty, but a little too specific. “Woke” itself has obviously caught on, but it also implies zealous fervor, and I’m more interested in the way these specious beliefs are held unthinkingly by those who just absorbed them from the atmosphere, as it were. Similarly, “progressive” political opinions just seem to be the default, even for people who don’t follow politics very closely. I think I’ll start referring to the type as “lay parishioners” as shorthand for the kind of superficially-educated, media-savvy serfs who work the manorial lands of academia, nonprofits, and H.R. departments, blissfully ignorant of anything beyond the tenets of their religion.