by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jacob Howland offers City Journal readers a comparison between today’s progressives and the builders of a famous biblical structure.
Fear and pride raised the old Tower of Babel, built by anonymous wanderers who sought to “make us a name, lest we be scattered over all the earth.” Their anonymity is fitting, for there was then only “one language, one set of words. . . . one people” in the world. The Babylonians formed bricks out of the soil—adamah in Hebrew, the same stuff God breathed life into to make the first human being (ha’adam)—and began to “build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens.” These hard-baked bricks, all cut to the same measure, are images of human beings from whom the breath of individual life and particularity has somehow departed.
Modern attempts to construct the Tower have unfolded before, most notably in the Soviet Union and China. Today an inhumanly univocal tongue, asserting itself as the measure of all things, once again threatens to swallow the rich particularities and multiple languages of individual thought, speech, and creative expression.
The foundations of the new Tower have already been laid. In a recent interview, the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei was asked if he thought that Donald Trump was an authoritarian. He did not. …
… “Many things happening today in U.S. can be compared to Cultural Revolution in China, like people trying to be unified in a certain political correctness,” he said. “That is very dangerous.” …
… While ordinary Americans seem to be souring on political correctness, it remains a booming business in the centers of wealth and power. For corporations, philanthropic foundations, and individuals, purification—surely driven as much by fear of exposure as by true belief—requires the public affirmation of woke orthodoxy. … An entire industry of consultants has sprung up to profit from what, for some, is little more than a political protection racket.