Clyde Wilson once remarked that, if one were to distill multiculturalism to its essence, one would be left with nothing at all.  As he put it, multiculturalism means many fashions, mutable and discardable, but no culture.  An unintentional corroboration comes from a recent article dismissing “declinism” in our northeastern magazine of empire, The New Yorker.  It’s entitled “Decline, Fall, Rinse, Repeat: Is America Going Down?” (September 12), and as one can guess from the sarcastic tone, the answer is no.  Staff writer Adam Gopnik disdains all theories of civilizational decline from Spengler onward as curmudgeonly or idiosyncratic variations on a Shakespearean theme of “much ado about nothing.”  There is little of substance to any of them, he says; and besides, they have all been proved wrong.  He then reduces “Western” civilization to three great “moral achievements”: feminism, civil rights for homosexuals, and anti­racism: “What’s worth saving about the ‘West’ is the moral achievements that have flowed from it.  The emancipation of women and their integration on equal terms in education, the granting of civil rights to homosexuals, the removal, at least formally, of racial discrimination—these are not a common feature of prosperous or declining empires but unique moral achievements of this one.  There’s no pattern in history to compare us to because nothing like us has ever happened before.”

The last sentence is a classic statement of left-wing exceptionalism.  And notice also how the prideful theme of exceptionalism—“nothing like us has ever happened before”—is coupled with a nihilistic dismissal of the past: “there’s no pattern in history.”  George W. Bush and Francis Fukuyama, meet Adam Gopnik.

I found it curious that Gopnik called his favorite policies moral.  Moral according to whom, and by what standard of authority?  Have we not heard a million times from liberal-progressives that all moral values are relative?  That it’s wrong to impose them on others?  That the universe is the result of chance, and mankind the product of evolutionary biology?  So whence comes morality?

Not one of Gopnik’s three “moral” achievements would stand for a moment without the aid of the repressive apparatus of the American national-security state, reinforced by the propaganda apparatus of the American news media, entertainment business, and multihued commercial advertising.  Leftists know this, which is why they react with hysteria to the slightest manifestation of populism, and why they systematically ignore any writing or thought outside the narrow neocon/neoliberal axis composed of FOX News and MSNBC, National Review and The New Yorker.