WHAT REALLY HAPPENED TO IAN BURUMA?
What happened to Ian Buruma is that he was perceived by younger members of the literary herd to be out-of-step and slow, and so he had to go.
Step back, gain perspective, and you’ll see what’s happening is that English-speaking culture is in the midst of an ongoing cultural revolution, which is really a hundred mini-revolutions occurring simultaneously. Miscreants shamed, editors toppled, with accompanying cheers from twitter mobs and in halls of the academy.
What’s happening is as old as humanity. An energetic young generation wishing to displace those in their way, grabbing any excuse necessary.
Yes, the old system, populated by decaying icons like Ian Buruma, is corrupt, clueless, patriarchal, fossilized. Some of its members are toxic– but not as toxic as what’s coming.
It’s akin to what happened with the Bolshevik Revolution. The very flawed Czar and his aristocracy were removed. Those who took their place– Lenin, Stalin, and the like– pursued the cause of social justice but were in fact another level of corruption and ruthlessness from what they replaced. As history demonstrated.
In today’s cultural scene, the ambitious newcomers seeking to topple the gatekeepers are another level of volatility and drive from the likes of Buruma, David Remnick at The New Yorker, or The Boston Review‘s Joshua Cohen. Cohen, Remnick, and Buruma perceive themselves as leftist, maybe even as Sixties-style radicals, but they aren’t really. They’ve been playing. They’ve held to long-time liberal principles of open debate, free speech, the pursuit of objectivity. Now they’re seeing with the arrival of the Jesse Browns and Monica Byrnes onto the cultural scene genuine revolutionaries whose only principle is the pursuit of power and self, letting nothing stand in their way.
Don’t kid yourself. Instinctively, the Joshua Cohens, David Remnicks, and Ian Burumas are the actual targets of those who want to clean house of toxic debris. Not consciously, but instinctively– and the Jesse Browns, Monica Byrnes, and Zinzi Clemmons of the social justice mob run chiefly on instinct. Their ideology is simply the available weapon– the justification– allowing them to achieve their actual ends. Their unconscious needs.
Targets such as Jian Ghomeshi and Junot Diaz are collateral damage. Objectives to take out on the road toward the big guys.
What of that Old Guard? Remnick, Buruma, Cohen, and others yet to be discredited?
They’re akin to Stepan Trofimovitch Verhovensky in Fyodor Dostoevsky’s masterpiece novel The Possessed, (aka Demons or Devils). Feckless liberals seeing the world around them change, in unpredictable and dangerous ways.
COMING: Part II of these speculations.
-Karl Wenclas, New Pop Lit NEWS