I have been sorely tempted for some time to write an essay on the fallacies and moral fripperies of the #METOO movement.
Boorishness, insult, and unwanted sexual advances – or, God-forbid, assault (whatever that now means) – are never acceptable from either sex, and never have been.
But it seems to me that the descent of modernity from the lofty cultural and moral elevation supplied by verbal and gestural connotation, nuance, manners, graciousness, and so many other subtleties of human intercourse, to the baseness of mere literalism: the impoverished notion that a word or gesture conveys only what a speaker intended it to mean, or think they intended it to mean, at the most literal level, points to a sorry decline in human self-understanding.
Then, I stumbled on the following essay on this theme written by my colleague Professor Harley Price, who has kindly permitted me to publish it here. It forms a part of his upcoming book, Give Speech A Chance, about which I will say more when it appears in the coming months.
For now, do enjoy this multi-layered, deadly serious, but also seriously amusing critique of #METOO
Me-Tooism, and the Progressive Legal Principle of Subjectivity
It is admittedly hard for social conservatives not to take pleasure in the discomfiture of so many sanctimonious, progressive males who have been cut down by the biblical scourge known as the #MeToo movement.
In its long evolutionary ascent from unconsciousness to rationality; in its perennial struggle to emancipate itself from the tyranny of the group mind, the individuating human psyche has suffered innumerable regressions. There is no evidence that in the modern era we are beyond them, in spite of the cheery liberal historical myth of “progress.” Indeed, progressives, if for no other reason than their complacent faith in this self-congratulatory dogma, are more prone to psychic atavisms than any other group.
The #MeToo movement is surely one of the most terrifying irruptions of the primitive unconscious in recent memory. It is easy enough to enumerate its legal or logical errors, as so many commentators have already done, as though the movement were based on a set of coherent principles that can be rationally refuted. But no such refutation could possibly appreciate or contend with the demonic energy, boiling up from the deepest strata of the human psyche, that propels it along at reckless speed.
The first injunction of the #MeToo movement is to “Believe The Women”. Now, father Adam, when he was still in the state of innocence, might have been exculpated for following this advice and accepting the apple from Eve (as Eve might have been forgiven for taking Satan’s advice to “Believe The Serpents”). But we are no longer in Paradise, when crediting with immutable veridicality an entire gender (or species) might have been intellectually pardonable.
The myth of Paradise, as psychology correctly understands it, is an allegorical transcript of the pre-conscious infancy of the race. The same pre-conscious (or unconscious) phase of human psychic evolution is, of course, reprised in the infancy of every human life, when the child’s individual personality is so completely subsumed within and undifferentiated from that of his mother as to be identical with it. In the infant’s state of psychic identification, there are no dichotomies: no subject and object (only subject), no good or evil (only absolute conformity with the mother’s benevolent Will). It is only with the Fall that an awareness of these opposites emerges. The Fall is tragic because the emancipation of the individual personality from its unconscious submergence in the collective soul of the tribe brings with it painful choices and responsibilities, as does the fateful moment when the child’s blissful (paradisal) dependence upon its all-providing mother must end, and the child emerges as an autonomous Subject in confrontation with the recalcitrant Objects of a hostile world.