Sunday 10 November 2013

80s Contradictions

Eighties types fought straw scientists (high priests telling a “triumphalist narrative”) - while trying to make their own disciplines as much like science as possible (graphs, impenetrable jargon).

They thought that intellectual analysis was the answer to everything – but you had to attack science and believe in magic.

They insisted on everyone being politically correct – but were rude and unfriendly.

They were working for liberation – but believed the subconscious was pulling your strings.

They were passionate feminists, but disapproved of girliness.

They said they were changing the world – but they insisted that “we create our own reality”.  (They never acted as if they believed it.)

They said they were creating a perfect world – but there was always a reason why we couldn’t be happy now (or even have any fun).

They had goals for society – but none for themselves.

They told us to rebel against conformity – but not during work hours.

They told us to smash capitalism – and get a mortgage and pension.

They told us that men and women were equal – but women had to avoid any behaviour that men might find “threatening”.

They were against censorship – but many opinions were unholdable and unspeakable. (Eg that intelligence is heritable. Or that your life could be changed by “life-changing” events.)

They said “We can talk about anything now” but they made many things undiscussable by banning their names ("We don't say that any more").

They were anti-hierarchy – and incredibly bossy.

They weren't strident so much as authoritarian – while complaining about oppression, repression, patriarchy, colonialism, cultural hegemony...

They condemned things and people as oppressive, elitist, judgemental ("value judgements" were out), while judging you according to their own brand of elitism (more PC than thou).

They thought people should be given more self-esteem, but complained about the “arrogance” of science, and thought we needed a "sense of awe".

They were so keen on changing society – but they never offered solutions to problems.

They insisted everyone was an individual, while being rigidly conformist.

They were very keen on “identity” – but claimed “there’s no such thing as the self”.

They were all for freedom – but they insisted there was no such thing as free will.

They insisted the universe is deterministic – but it was still all my fault, somehow.

They said they wanted to change the world – but told you to stay at home and change yourself.
They thought that everybody was created by their circumstances, but said that change comes from within.

But perhaps it was only the masses who were created by circumstances, or experienced false consciousness induced by capitalism. They hated you to try to change your circumstances, or do anything practical. They preferred theory to facts. Maybe since logic was a male conspiracy, they couldn't see a contradiction.

More about the 80s here, and links to the rest.
Read about the middle classes in the 80s here.

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