In the good old days they had a meta-narrative

The Agonist has a long, thoughtful discussion about the lack of a meta-narrative today both at the national level and for the left. There’s no overriding and unifying belief structure to provide focus and direction. The same thing is happening on the right too, they’re just as splintered.

We do live in strange, almost surrealistic times, to be sure. Micheal Moore’s new anti-capitalism movie was at least indirectly funded by Goldman Sachs. “A capitalist will sell you rope on Monday for a revolution on Tuesday in which he gets hung on Wednesday.” In the fantasies of some Marxists maybe. But a revolution like that has zero chance of happening in the US now.

A large part of the problem might be that people want to construct a current meta-narrative based on past narratives. Tha labor unions were mighty forces in the 30’s so a resurgence of union power must be the way to go. Or, kids in the 60’s were revolutionary, let’s bring back that spirit. Well, uh, which spirit would that be? One thing that made the Chicago 7 trial so absurd was that SDS and Yippie were barely speaking to each other, much less acting as co-conspirators.

New ideas and philosophies are needed for our increasingly tumultuous times. We won’t find them by looking backwards or trying to recycle old ideas.


  1. I read somewhere today “An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.”

Comments are closed.