The Superstitions of Modernity

Max Weber’s disenchantment thesis posits that modernity would lead to the gradual decline of traditional beliefs and values, leading to the rise of rationality and scientific thinking. According to Weber, modernity would gradually strip away the layers of religious and cultural superstitions that have clouded human judgment, leading to a more rational and objective understanding of the world. However, the last decade of politics in the West seems to contradict Weber’s thesis, as modernity seems to be manufacturing new cultural superstitions.

The rise of identity politics, cancel culture, and the proliferation of conspiracy theories all point to the emergence of new cultural superstitions in modern Western societies. Identity politics is the belief that one’s identity is defined by their race, gender, sexuality, or other social categories. This belief has led to the rise of group identity and tribalism, which has fueled social and political polarization. Cancel culture is the practice of boycotting individuals or groups who hold different beliefs or opinions, leading to the suppression of free speech and the creation of echo chambers. Conspiracy theories have also gained significant traction, especially in the era of social media, where misinformation can spread like wildfire.

All of these cultural superstitions lack the socially stabilizing virtues of traditional beliefs, as they promote division, intolerance, and irrational thinking. Identity politics, for instance, is based on the assumption that social categories such as race or gender are the most important aspects of human identity, and that individuals are defined by these categories rather than their individual traits or accomplishments. This belief has led to the creation of identity-based interest groups, which have further polarized society and eroded the idea of a common human identity.

Cancel culture, on the other hand, suppresses free speech and creates echo chambers, which prevent individuals from engaging with diverse perspectives and challenging their own beliefs

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