It was a only a few weeks ago that UC Berkeley descended into a riotous hotbed of anarchy. Leftists at Berkeley repressed free speech, vandalized public property, and assaulted innocents.
(Meanwhile, where outright violence failed, Berkeley’s foil has been taken down by conservatives who were not happy with his being welcomed at CPAC and being, ipso facto, welcomed into the intellectual conservative movement.)
Whether the same self-destructive provocateur will rise from the ashes remains to be seen… What is clear is that Berkeley’s own decline has reached rock bottom ideological incoherence.
Berkeley loathes itself.
It has become the kind of place that spends $20 million annually on diversity in order to decrease diversity. It has become the kind of place that violently imposes inclusiveness that excludes conservative, rural, religious, or traditional voices.
It has become the kind of place that pushes its social justice utopianism so far that not only Red State Texans but also Left Coast leftists are berated for falling short of utopia.
Berkeley is so pure that Berkeley hates itself for being impure.
The Inequality and Exclusion Office
The latest example of berating oneself for imperfection are these posters. Take a look at the poster here.
The LA Times explains:
UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity and Inclusion has placed vertical banners across the main campus reminding students of the contemporary university’s paramount mission: assigning guilt and innocence within the ruthlessly competitive hierarchy of victimhood. Each banner shows a photo of a student or a member of the student-services bureaucracy, beside a purported quotation from that student or bureaucrat. No rolling cadences here, no exhortations to intellectual conquest. Instead, just whining or penitential snippets from the academic lexicon of identity politics.
(Read the rest here.)
What the posters drive home the revelation that being a non-white non-cis non-male is longer enough to satisfy the social justice nannies. Gone are the days when a female Asian could safely assume she contributed to diversity simply by existing. Now she has to (smile and) “acknowledge how power and privilege intersect” in her daily life.
Of course all white people are racist, but even people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people who are otherwise high the hierarchy are not safe. For example…
- Even if you celebrate fat people, you might still be promoting white privilege.
- Even if you work for social justice activism, you might still be ableist.
- Even if you advocate for feminism, you might not be intersectional enough.
- Even if you advocate for black feminism, you might still be exploiting the poor.
- Even if you are gay or lesbian with a preference for one kind of genitals, you might still be transphobic.
Whew… Imagine how hard you will have to work if you are low on the “competitive hierarchy of victimhood.”
Is this the bottom?
There are at least two takeaways from this story.
First, letting leftism run to its natural limit, we can see its natural incoherence. That incoherence is coded into its DNA from the beginning, but it comes to light at end-stage moments.
And Berkeley is a pitri dish sample of peak leftism. They have carried out Herbert Marcuse’s recommendation in Repressive Tolerance of viciously excluding any but the most stringent leftist thinking.
Unlike even Harvard (Sandel) and Yale (George) which have token conservatives, Berkeley seems pretty well under the lockdown of the herding, conformity, and homogeneity. As Edwin Friedman says in A Failure of Nerve:
Leaders in chronically anxious America today—whether they are black or white, Jewish or Christian, liberal or conservative, young or old, male or female—tend to support or adapt to the most incessantly demanding members of their following… And in some institutions the togetherness forces put such a premium on inclusivity that those who do not agree with making it the overriding principle of the organization are isolated or rejected, thus creating Orwellian “Animal Farms” in which diversity is eliminated in the name of diversity.
By letting the poster child of social justice nihilism make posters, we can watch in real time as it cannibalizes itself. The social justice program amounts to the political will to eradicate all immorality, in oneself and others. But, as Roger Scruton points out in Thinkers of the New Left, “The search for a policy to overcome original sin is not a coherent political project.” And and overcoming all original sin, even in the movement’s most devout members, is exactly the goal. Scruton continues:
…the goal of ‘social justice’ is no longer equality before the law, or the equal claim to the rights of citizenship, as these were advocated at the Enlightenment. The goal is a comprehensive rearrangement of society, so that privileges, hierarchies, and even the unequal distribution of goods are either overcome or challenged.
I said that Berkeley has reached rock bottom. On second thought, if this is as bad as it gets, perhaps Berkeley can recover after all.
Dwell on the Good
A second take away is that Lea Bruno, the quite gifted photographer behind UCB’s self-contradicting and self-loathing propoganda, makes beautiful pictures. When detached from the incoherent and self-loathing labels, some of these portraits are worth enjoying.