chapter
10 Pages

Introduction

It is a conceit of postmodernity that it stands on a point of the highest morality achieved through the erosion of all previous moral institutions. Today we are told to jettison the old fashioned belief in unique values that cannot be exhausted by their practice. We consider the practice of any belief constitutes an ultimate value while nevertheless holding that such values are entirely expended in their use. In this, we are wholly ruled by prejudice and politics while believing that never before has the human mind been more open nor the human community more close to the hearts of men or of women. At the same time, we are asked to believe that human beings are now so speciated by gender and race-though we are silent about class-that there can be no universal knowledge, politics or morality. These ideas have not grown up among the masses defeated by the empty hopes of our kind. It is not the masses who have sickened of the injustice and exploitation that grinds their lives, weakens their families, starves their children, murders and terrorizes them each hour of the day and night in every corner of the world. No, it is not these people who have abandoned idealism, universalism, truth and justice. It is those who already enjoy these things who have denounced them on behalf of the others. The two sides, of course, never meet. Each remains on the other side of the great wall of class upon which there flickers the imagery of mass culture, on one side, and the imagery of élite, professional culture, on the other. No one appears to own the wall. This is why those on each side of the wall see only themselves in their own cultures. Worse still, since the masses have no reason to believe they own anything-let alone the wall-those on the élite side have persuaded themselves that the wall is culture rather than property. This idea appeals to the cultural élite since what they own —

as well as what they disown-is largely symbolic capital, especially language and its professional practice.