All modern politicians speak incessantly of unity, but unity in politics is inevitably a fascistic concept, and a highly dangerous one.
From the perspective of a passionate artist, I speak of disparity, which is the soul and driving force of liberal democracy and particularly of America’s superb free speech culture: a culture that continues to thrive not only in spite of, but partly because of, the current president’s famously autocratic personality. We cannot control him; but he cannot control us, either.
The proper basis for appreciating this strength is through the lens, not of party politics, which always seek uniformity, but through art and literature, which thrive under the protections of our beautiful Constitution. In hip hop and heavy metal, for example, there are conservative and left-wing elements, and pagan, anti-Christian camps warring with vociferously Christian artists. But these creators do not eradicate each other, nor do they swallow one another in bland collectivist unity. On the contrary, Christian writers are, today, more powerful and witty because of their conflict with the brilliant atheist Christopher Hitchens: Every heresy invites counter-heresies, and all blossom and multiply under the individualist prism of the Bill of Rights. We refine each other through conflict, not passive agreement.
Rather than live in fear of this surging, wild complexity and the complicated relationships and connections to which it gives a voice, I suggest that we re-embrace it with great enthusiasm and use it as a force to counter-act the increasingly insistent cries for unity from both left and right. The classical liberal basis for our exuberant, pugnacious and competitive creative culture remains superior to thin partisan media rhetoric and the flimsy “identities” that it enforces.
For those bored by polarization without deep content, and conflict without subtlety, art and literature are not only a wonderful substitute, but a proper political retort. Reinforcing our diversity of perspective is the way to resist the temptations of unity, and to rebuild a civic culture that has color and real life, not merely demagoguery and histrionics.
If this should give rise to a more individualist American culture, one in which every politician is expected to run as an independent, thereby destroying the two-party system, so much the better. Bring it on.
283 Pearl St.