In his speech yesterday, Putin expressed the anti-nationalist worldview perfectly. I first heard it in North American academia in the late 1990s. I was young and was completely incapable of seeing how this way of thinking could lead to bad things.
Here’s how it goes. Nations were artificially created. They are ‘imagined communities.’ Borders were arbitrarily drawn. There’s nothing (or very little) natural about them. So far, so good, especially since it’s all true.
It’s the next step that gets dicey. If the nation (the gender, the race, the family) is simply a construct, it can be dismantled. More than that, it should be dismantled because it wasn’t chosen by me. It’s an imposition, a violation of my free will. So let’s deconstruct it. First, theorically, and then practically. Today we are experiencing the practical stage of the theory developed in the 1980s and popularized in the 1990s.
The birth, the development, the popularization and the praxis of this theory neatly coincide with the introduction of neoliberalism. It’s not a coincidence. Deconstruction theory is the battering ram of neoliberalism.
The theory became so dominant that it entered our consciousness as a manifestation of common sense. Not every ideology is born of economic necessity. But this one was.
Our biggest problem is that we approach this deconstructionist neoliberal worldview as blind people who are palpating an elephant. We see little bits but often miss the whole. We forget how it was born, how it gestated, and how it was unleashed into the world.
I started this post with Putin but I hope you understand that it’s not about him. He’s rolling out a little bit of the elephant because it’s convenient. But we are all being smothered by this beast because we missed the moment when it was still a cute little elephant baby. I’m not saying it’s hopeless but I do believe that without seeing the entire extent of the problem we won’t be able to do anything about it.