An interesting book review in the WSJ, Truth Has Nothing to Do With It, discusses the environment of theory in the American academy.
Paragraph that spoke to me most:
If challenged, theorists often vilify their opponents as right-wingers or worse. Kwame Anthony Appiah observes that when Susan Gubar, a leading academic feminist, raised questions about the state of feminist theory she “found herself condemned, astonishingly, as a troglodyte, perhaps even a racist.” Ironically, Theory may harm the very politics it purports to defend. Noam Chomsky finds it “remarkable” that leftist intellectuals, with their attacks on rationality, “should seek to deprive oppressed people not only of the joys of understanding and insight, but also of tools of Enlightenment.” Meera Nanda laments that when postcolonialists repudiate the “objectivity” and “universalism” of science, they give “aid and comfort to Hindu chauvinists who display many symptoms of fascism.”
When there is no truth, there is only politics, and anyone who has the wrong politics is wrong, period. Hopefully, truth will prevail.
UPDATE: Ameinu, the new progressive Zionist alliance, has a great article by Jeffry V. Mallow on the results of this age of deconstruction. He writes:
There are no facts. This is the mantra of radical deconstructivism. All knowledge is relative, temporary, subjective, and ultimately political. No one has a greater claim to truth than anyone else, certainly not by virtue of birth or class, but not even by education and training. So, for example, science is no more valid a “narrative” than astrology, because science is the product of white male Europeans, and therefore its methods and conclusions are dependent on its practitioners.
This is a very brief summary of what is known in academia as the Culture Wars. But the mind set has also spread into the general society. Facts have been relegated to a lower status than theory. That is of course not entirely new. Totalitarian ideologies have always chosen theory over actual data (and murdered the data that didn’t fit). The transcripts of Stalin’s purge trials of the late 30’s explicitly dismiss the question of factual guilt or innocence as a bourgeois construction. Holocaust revisionism is another prime example of a counterfactual theory.
The last sentence of the article is key: “When theory trumps facts, deconstruction can be dangerous to your health.”