From the Greek, orth, meaning straight, and doxa, meaning opinion — straight or correct opinion — the central pillar of a society’s worldview — “don’t upset the orthodoxy” – at its most powerful, the orthodoxy is so prevailing, all-encompassing, and pervasive that individuals within the orthodoxy cannot even see its outlines, for it is the background for the way in which thoughts are constructed. Israel — the Wrestlers — become impossible in this context — and orthodoxy inevitably leads to intellectual ossification. Western culture, with its scientific method and liberal politics, is a new innovation, where the prevailing orthodoxy presumes fallibility, limits to knowledge, and encourages experiment, examination, interrogation — and yet a) this impulse ossifies into an orthodoxy of denial, skepticism, where because nothing is certain, nothing is believed and b) is relegated to its limited sphere because of the underlying power of orthodoxy to stifle dissent — leading to liberalism as a religion, free markets as a dogma, the struggle against socialism as a holy war — and now, to the unrelenting triumphalism of the Post-Cold War Era.
After the autumn, market orthodoxy has been shaken; the victors have been humbled by their hubris. Now, perhaps, during this moment of crisis, some Luther will come to nail his theses on the church door of Wittenberg, and reenact some new reformation that may in turn lead to a new protestant revival.
While the lobotomized sheep and the dull-eyed shepherds worry, and the shepherds begin to grudge the sheep its clothing, those with thought and those with memory may find some opportunity to free themselves, their neighbors, and the world from a metapysical justification that no longer serves —
what shall rise in its place? how long until this too feels the vigor leach from its veins, leaving a new idol for the masses.
A plague on you, Mr. Greenspan. A plague on you, Mr. Bernanke. You have failed us.