Comment of the Day: “A Brief Message From The Ethics Bunker”

divideandconquer

No doubt about it: the longer comments have an edge when it comes to getting  Comment of the Day recognition. Quantity isn’t quality, of course, but these special reader-composed musings constitute both useful elaborations and extensions on the themes raised in the original essay, and also a chance for me to recognize and reward the thoughtful people who make Ethics Alarms a colloquy rather than a one-man megaphone.

It is a the height of irony that my recent post about the fall-off in traffic here of late has generated more comments and traffic than almost any other May post. It also generated two fascinating comments in succession about objectivity and political orientation by prolific commentator Humble Talent. I have combined them:  The comment began in response to Beth, who wrote in part,Maybe you will start attracting a more moderate or left of center audience. I would love to see positions here debated by people on both sides of the aisle. Increased civil discourse is never a bad thing.” Here is HT’s Comment of the Day on the anxious post, A Brief Message From The Ethics Bunker:

Do you really think that’s possible in today’s political climate? I think there are very few people who straddle American ideologies like I do: For Marijuana. Against abortion. For gay marriage (a position that evolved, in no small part to discussing the issue here.), Against corporate welfare. Fiscally conservative, except that a safety net of some size is beneficial. socially liberal, except that those things growing in pregnant women are actually children. Atheist. Canadian. And maybe that’s given me a different perspective than the average onlooker.

I can’t count the number of left leaning friends I’ve lost this last election cycle. I find that people who identify ideologically as progressives, especially but not uniquely, are by and large intolerant. And unforgiving. And prone to get angry when confused by facts. Freedom of speech, which used to be a cornerstone of liberalism, is now treated like physical violence. This is the first time I can think in history where the grassroots of any party are looking to retard the rights of everyday citizens…. But that’s exactly what’s happening.

Now how does any of this effect this blog specifically? Well, first off: Whether the blog is centrist or not, the blog is perhaps accidentally counter-culture. Whoever is in power is more able to give Jack ammunition. For the longest time it could appear that Jack was picking on the democrats, because they were supplying him with the most actionable material, they were in power, they did things that effected larger audiences. Sure, there might have been some selection bias, and sure, there might have been some lensing going on… But that just makes the switch that’s happened more profound. Over the last two years, there have been more republicans to talk about, because republicans had gained more power two years ago when the senate swapped. Even then: Hillary was front and centre, because she’s presumably the next president of the United States. Now we’re talking about Trump, oh yes, Hillary’s still there, on a back burner, oh yeah Paul Ryan’s still there, somewhere in a shadow, maybe playing poker with Sanders, Warren and Obama. But forget them, we’re talking about Trump, and why? Because he’s more important than we really want to give him credit for. And that’s perhaps frightening.

Second, as the blog moves centre, you might see some of the elements on the right peel off. They might come back after a cool off, and especially if Hillary wins, and starts pumping out actionable material like it’s the 80’s all over again. Ideally, what that would mean is that more centrist readers would jump on board. But this isn’t ideal. This is 2016, and left of centre, there are fewer and fewer moderates. I think the average moderate liberal is probably 40 years old or better, Wow. WOW. The point I was going to make is that the left is less forgiving, and suffers from a homogenization of conformity of though, and that in order to get liberal readers, you’d have to censor your comments and stop posting negatively about Hillary, except I was going to make it about three more paragraphs.

But then I wrote “I think the average moderate liberal is probably 40 years old or better” and whenever I write “liberal” or “left” I try to picture the mirror of it, what does the right look like, what are conservatives doing? I bet the average moderate conservative is over 40 too.

Oh sure, that might be the prime demographic for religious fundamentalism, but they aren’t quite as eager to agitate for change. The status quo worked for them, and they’re generally in a pretty good place.

You look at the Bernie and Trump voters: They’re young. They’re ignorant, they were unengaged, but they’re angry, and so they’re agitating.

Maybe we have to stop thinking of the paradigm as left vs. right. Maybe the paradigm is Authoritarian vs. Liberal. Or even young vs. old.

When it’s one person, he’s a jerk, when it’s two people, they’re coincidentally jerks together, but when it’s an entire fucking generation, maybe we need to look at how we got here.

Young people don’t have the opportunities their parents did. You basically need a BA to stack cans in a grocery store, and that’s about all a BA is good for. There are so many more ways for them to fail, and fewer ways for them to recover. Welfare is a trap. Education is hostile. Economics are not their friend. And yeah: They seem entitled. They like their gadgets and toys, they want the newest and greatest, while never really taking care of the things that matter. But they’ve been taught that, and they learned from the best.

Maybe it explains the safe space culture, and what’s happening on campuses….. The world is scary. The most frightening question to a lot of these kids will be something like “What are you going to be when you grow up?” And they realize that “Shitposter on Reddit” isn’t a viable career. And so there’s an attempt to mould the world around them into something more… comfortable. I’m thinking back to that screaming girl who yelled at the husband of a professor who said something disparaging about cultural-appropriation: “This isn’t a place of learning, this is our home!”

And so their vehicle to make the world… safer… for them is to agitate for laws that infringe the rights of others, to take money that is unearned, because they don’t see a vehicle to earn it… They become authoritarian.

I think I need to think about this for a while. This might be just as paradoxical as the black reparations that weren’t reparations scenario Jack made a couple months back.

 

22 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “A Brief Message From The Ethics Bunker”

  1. For what it is worth, it appears to me that the “center” has moved steadily to the left. While in college, my views were considered liberal…less government, fewer rules, less official intrusion into my life…now-a-days, these views make me a conservative, although, like Humble, I also hold some liberal views. However, one of the things I have also noted is that, if you hold a single conservative view, liberals consider you the enemy. No matter what other liberal views you may hold, you are the enemy. You are also (parenthetically) a Republican (I’m not, by the way).

    • It has, and the “by any means necessary” crowd see that as validation of their essentially undemocratic and totalitarian methods. The Left= entropy and disorder, and the ratchet naturally moves that way. Conservatives recognize that problem, but when their ideology is represented in the culture as “automatic and reflexive resistance to change,” its ability to add prudence to the culture is dangerously weakened.

      Herman Kahn told me that what happens is that society forgets the good reasons why certain things are done as they are, changes them, and then the lesson forgotten becomes obvious–and it is frequently too late to go back.

      See: current attacks on due process and “beyond a reasonable doubt”

  2. I wonder if we could have a Frank Capra-like director now to produce some films to educate Americans on Why We Do What We Do.

  3. I just got hold of the book ‘Right-Wing Critics of American Consevatism’ (University of Kansas, 2016) and it seems a valuable source for understanding where Conservatism may tend in the coming years. I looked in the index and noted the names of some folks I happen to know on the so-called Alt-Right, both in Europe and in the US.

    https://kuecprd.ku.edu/~upress/cgi-bin/978-0-7006-2193-4.html

    Also: http://www.amazon.com/Right-Wing-Critics-American-Conservatism-George/dp/0700621938

    In my limited understanding of things I yet have the sense that no one in the conservative camp seems to have any really clear idea at all just what needs to happen to ‘return’ from out of the grip of hyper-liberalism. Perhaps some part of the problem is that there will be no ‘return’ but only a going-forward to some new Conservatism? If I were to develop an argument along these lines (I hope to over time) I would suggest that we seem to have tremendous difficulty ‘defining our present’ and being able to describe it clearly. I see this as one of the main problems. Total confusion and lack of clear description.

    In this sense we no longer quite know where we are and even in what exactly we are occurring (I mean this metaphysically: we don’t even understand the *stuff* in which we are occurring). This sounds like a silly observation but it isn’t I don’t think: a feature of Medieval metaphysics was a concrete understanding of our *location*, in what and in relation to what. We have lost this to nearly 100%. We fall forward in time – toward what?

    Humble Talent laments that a whole generation has gone astray, and this would imply tracing the steps by which this occurred. What exactly occurred? When? Why? How?

  4. Excuse me, but haven’t these “What’s the matter with the younger generation?” questions appeared before? Is it because they can’t be like we were, perfect in every way?

  5. One of the terms I’ve always found very interesting is “reactionary” as used by Communists (and their various derivatives and fellow travelers) to define any one or thing that does not agree with them wholeheartedly. It’s a terribly cleaver use of language.

    I used to think of myself as being a moderate but I think I’m now defined as a nearly radical conservative. I think what I am is a reactionary. When the left and young propose yet another shiny object as the greatest thing since canned milk, I REACT by asking, “Is that really such a good idea? Do we really want to scrap something that’s worked pretty well for an idea or concept that has just dropped off the academic assembly line this semester?”

    I think this is what the right has been reduced to presently but I suspect it’s always been a large element in any conservative philosophy or movement (see, eg. the verb ‘conserve,’ tr.).

  6. In chapter one of ‘Right-wing Critics of Conservatism’, George Hawley includes a quote from James Davison Hunter’s ‘Culture War: The Struggle to Control the Family, Art, Education, Law, and Politics in America (NY, 1992):

    “As we have seen, the cultural hostilities dominant over the better part of American history have taken place within the boundaries of a larger biblical culture – among numerous Protestant groups, and Catholics and Jews – over such issues as doctrine, ritual observance, and religious organization … The older agreements have unravelled. The divisions of political consequences today are not theological and ecclesiastical in character but as a result of differeing worldviews. That is to say, they no longer revolve around specific doctrinal issues or styles of religious practice and organization but around our most fundamental and cherished assumptions about how to rder our lives – our own lives and our lives together in society. Our most fundamental ideas about who we are as Americans is now at odds”

    From my perspective I find this interesting. Hawley further develops his idea that conservatism and liberalism have become terms that are not very useful to understand the division that Humble Talent referred to, above.

    He suggest that the essential division might now be understood as between those who feel and believe there exists a ‘transcendent’ reality that is a backdrop to the manifest world, in contrast to a person who feels and believes that we are ‘making it up as we go along’ and there is no generative past, as it were, to which we have to recur. Thus the ‘progressive’, linked to Rousseau and other Enlightement intellectuals, has no issue with dismissing and demolishing the older conceptual structures and allowing present hierarchical structures to fall away as some new ‘progressive’ present takes shape.

    This division is consistent, largely, with my experience.

    I was drawn to the use of the word ‘reactionary’, just above. I am interested in developing a platform of ‘reactionary conservatism’ and I note that in myself I am a sort of ur-religionist. Like the so-called Traditionalists such as Guenon and Evola who seek a metaphysical structure to their religious principles that transcends any immediate form, I found that Johannine Chistianity allowed one to conceive of a metaphysical structure to creation which (logically) precedes the manifestation of the world. This notion is contained in the idea of Logos which links it immediately to an intelligible and dialectically-expressible philosophical base. There are many advantages in that.

    If there are principles that exist, they are principles that have always existed, and indeed they must be seen (logically) as always having existed, and as existing into the future. So, if one is going to think in ‘true conservative terms’, one has to think in metaphysical terms which transcend the present absolutely. Neither the Christian form-as-form nor any other religious form can necessarily express such Principles, indeed they might rather confuse them and render them very difficult to discern and define (one religion battling another, one sect holding itself away from union with another on the basis of an arbitrary distinction).

    A reactionary impulse – and this means of course reaction against the absolute hyper-liberalism, which at its most extreme is the complete severing of any connection at all with any constraining principle or metaphysical structure of restraint, and which manifests itself in all manner of different ways: in unmooring from conventionally-conceived morality, in radical new sexual relationship modes, in unfettered and uncontrolled consumerism which, at its base, is unrestrained material enjoyment in contradistintion to an inner platform of restrain and even asceticism – a reactionary impulse however that has no solid metaphysical base on which to locate itself will, I suggest, flounder. If it has no clear root in a metaphysical or transcendent idea it is essentially in the same or similar boat as that of the hyper-liberalism of the present. It likely occupies the same or a similar conceptual space: We are just making this up as we go along, and your Vision is just as valid and *real* as mine or the next guy’s.

    What I find curious is that someone like Buchanan says that what America requires is not a political solution but that it needs ‘St Paul’: and obviously he means a spiritual and religious awakening. But I do not think that is going to happen. We are in a very strange post-Christian phase and I don’t think there can be any ‘return’ to anything previous, but only going forward into uncharted and unknown territory.

    So, to define a ‘reactionary conservatism’ that also conceives of itself as founded in metaphysical and transcendent principles requires, as I see things, a whole other manoeuvre: a radical opening-up to new formulations of idea but ideas mediated by – to put it in simple terms – a Greek rationalism.

    So, instead (to put it in Hereclitian terms) of ‘wetness’ as a mode of being we need ‘dryness’. Wetness is emotionalism, unfettered supposition, emotionally-laden politics, desire-politics, but also wetness as confusion or perhaps profusion, we require a ‘dry’ relationship to idea, to strict definition, to strict fact, and to sober exposition.

    “Dry, the soul grows wise and good”

    “Moisture makes the sould succumb to joy”

    My argument is that we require a definition of ‘seduction’ and to apply a definition of seduction to much that goes on in our present. In my view, and at every turn, in hundreds and thousands of different ways, we are seduced away from understanding, strength, power, effect, decisiveness, and all the necessary soul-conditions upon which, in fact, our civilization has been constructed (in one way or another). This all occurs in the mind. If this is so, it is the mind’s territory that has to be reclaimed, and Discourse has to supercede sentimentalism and emotionalism in all areas.

  7. Other Bill writes: “I used to think of myself as being a moderate but I think I’m now defined as a nearly radical conservative. I think what I am is a reactionary. When the left and young propose yet another shiny object as the greatest thing since canned milk, I REACT by asking, “Is that really such a good idea? Do we really want to scrap something that’s worked pretty well for an idea or concept that has just dropped off the academic assembly line this semester?”
    ________________________

    Lionel Trilling (in ‘The Liberal Imagination’) wrote:

    “In the US at this time liberalism is not only dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that nowadays there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation. This does not mean, of course, that there is no impulse to conservatism or to reaction. Such impulses are certainly very strong, perhaps even stronger than most of us know. But the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.”

    That was written in 1950 which seems to me like a century ago. Sort of amazing that it was so well articulated then.

    Again, I have been attempting to locate a cogent conservative and reactionary-conservative position that is succinctly and clearly expressed, and have been unable to locate it. Almost everything that claims itself to be ‘conservative’ is anything but. Today, to be a conservative (as someone above said) is really to be a classical liberal!

    A sane and cogent structure of definition seems to be absent. Why? I suggest (tentatively) that it is because conservatism does not have, and cannot define for itself, a solid metaphysical platform. I’d suggest this is not ‘a lark’ (as EC wrote in another context) but a very serious requirement in our present. The ‘right’ is forced to fend for itself within an ‘excluded middle’ that it shares with liberalism. The Left seems to have an advantage insofar as – and though ‘wet’ to the point of sogginess – it argues from a solid pole that is at once vaguely philosophical (egalitarial, equality, blending of all distinctions into one blobbish Whole, a lovey-dovey everything is the same and equal) and also intensely emotional and sentimental, and thus very attractive to the feminized mind. It captures everyone who can’t seem to think in hard and realistic terms. And the more that a infantilized intellectual culture is inculcated, the less hope that people can move to the ‘dry’ or ‘masculine’ pole.

  8. Liberals are caught in a cognitive dissonance trap. Espouse the ideology and that means Hillary. No discussion. No dialogue. Otherwise, the dissonance would be too great to bear.

    Similar with Republicans. Too much dissonance here, too. How can a loyal Republican not vote for Trump, even though they are aware of his basic idiocy? Perhaps he needs to eat a dog for dinner before they’ll have to face what he really is.

  9. “Maybe we have to stop thinking of the paradigm as left vs. right. Maybe the paradigm is Authoritarian vs. Liberal. Or even young vs. old.”

    I think that what we’re seeing is that some approximation of the new economy: government, education, software, high tech, medical, finance, media, entertainment, universities and foundations, and professions have all reached the point where they are overlapping and reinforcing each other, and the people in these groups are forming into a textbook social Upper Class.

  10. Do you like being challenged, HT? I am going to make an effort to do it.
    __________________________________

    Humble Talent wrote: “Do you really think that’s possible in today’s political climate? I think there are very few people who straddle American ideologies like I do: For Marijuana. Against abortion. For gay marriage (a position that evolved, in no small part to discussing the issue here.), Against corporate welfare. Fiscally conservative, except that a safety net of some size is beneficial. socially liberal, except that those things growing in pregnant women are actually children. Atheist. Canadian. And maybe that’s given me a different perspective than the average onlooker.”
    ___________________________________

    I find this quite curious: By your own definitions you are anything but, and everything except, a ‘conservative’ in any sense of the word. You are a conservative leftist and citizen of a semi-Marxist state, a state run in accord with Marxian-influenced principles. These guding and moulding ideas have become so settled that they appear as ‘normalcy’.

    I’d suggest that you are a ‘conservative’ without any defined base in ideas or, it would seem, political ideology. And you are likely not unique. Rather, you are one of millions and millions of people who orient themselves, if I can put it this way, ‘sentimentally’ and who have a sentimentally-based idea-structure. It does not seem to be defined by and in relation to ideas, but rather in relation to the present. It is not grounded in principles but rather in relationship to circumstances.

    ____________________

    HT wrote: “I can’t count the number of left leaning friends I’ve lost this last election cycle. I find that people who identify ideologically as progressives, especially but not uniquely, are by and large intolerant. And unforgiving. And prone to get angry when confused by facts. Freedom of speech, which used to be a cornerstone of liberalism, is now treated like physical violence. This is the first time I can think in history where the grassroots of any party are looking to retard the rights of everyday citizens…. But that’s exactly what’s happening.”
    ______________________

    ‘Confused by facts’? You deal that surely in facts, do you?

    What you are saying is that your left-leaning friends are simply more extremist than you are. They have veered away from your centrist position. That is, if I am correct in my assessment, that you must be seen as anything but ‘conservative’ as it is more truly defined. If you are ‘conservative’ you are quite obviously, and stated simply, a little right of center, and the center is indubitably left-leaning. The left has coopted you and if not completely than generally. But then the left effectively dominates the entire political scheme. Nothing new under the sun.

    ______________________

    HT: “Now how does any of this effect this blog specifically? Well, first off: Whether the blog is centrist or not, the blog is perhaps accidentally counter-culture. Whoever is in power is more able to give Jack ammunition. For the longest time it could appear that Jack was picking on the democrats, because they were supplying him with the most actionable material, they were in power, they did things that effected larger audiences. Sure, there might have been some selection bias, and sure, there might have been some lensing going on… But that just makes the switch that’s happened more profound. Over the last two years, there have been more republicans to talk about, because republicans had gained more power two years ago when the senate swapped. Even then: Hillary was front and centre, because she’s presumably the next president of the United States. Now we’re talking about Trump, oh yes, Hillary’s still there, on a back burner, oh yeah Paul Ryan’s still there, somewhere in a shadow, maybe playing poker with Sanders, Warren and Obama. But forget them, we’re talking about Trump, and why? Because he’s more important than we really want to give him credit for. And that’s perhaps frightening.”
    _____________________

    ‘Counter-culture’ as a term is meaningless unless it is clearly defined. I read this paragraph and my eyes gloss over. What, in truth, are you talking about? I mean, what does it come down to? You seem lost in a swirl. There is nothing in this that indicates, to my mind, a thinker involved at any level in conservative ideas. This is all chitter-chatter about stuff going on. To what structure of ideas do you refer to politically, socially or intellectually? In what way do your ideas critique any substantial aspect of political life? It would take a few days to sort through some of this chaos. What would one gain from it? I do not see anything that resembles a conservative platform as I understand it.

    _____________________

    HC writes: “Second, as the blog moves centre, you might see some of the elements on the right peel off. They might come back after a cool off, and especially if Hillary wins, and starts pumping out actionable material like it’s the 80’s all over again. Ideally, what that would mean is that more centrist readers would jump on board. But this isn’t ideal. This is 2016, and left of centre, there are fewer and fewer moderates. I think the average moderate liberal is probably 40 years old or better, Wow. WOW. The point I was going to make is that the left is less forgiving, and suffers from a homogenization of conformity of though, and that in order to get liberal readers, you’d have to censor your comments and stop posting negatively about Hillary, except I was going to make it about three more paragraphs.”
    _______________________

    It seems to me that, taken on the whole, the blog is nearly entirely within a centrist political position. If it is conservative it is of a rather dilluted variety. It seems to me as well that in the 80s and 90s a neoconservative movement, composed by many individuals originally dedicated to Marxist principles, chose to turn toward a psuedo-conservative pole. In many ways, according to my limited analysis, they raided and took over conservatism and have radically rewritten it, such that it is not conservatism at all, but slightly right-leaning liberal-progressivism.

    Why and how has this occurred? What exactly do these factions and these idea serve? What concrete and defined structure of ideas are they located in?

    I still think this is the place to start: You wrote: “…but when it’s an entire fucking generation, maybe we need to look at how we got here.”

    Got where exactly? To where you are? If this is so, we need to understand better what made you you.

    An interesting quote by Stephen J. Tonsor (in 1989):

    “It has always struck me as odd, even perverse, that former Marxists have been permitted, yes invited, to play such a leading role in the Conservative movement of the twentieth century. It is splendid when the town whore gets religion and joins the church. Now and then she makes a good choir director, but when she begins to tell the minister what he ought to say in his Sunday sermons, matters have been carried too far. I once remarked to G. Cambell of the Hoover Institution that had Stalin spared Leon Trotsky and not had him murdered in Mexico, he would no doubt have spent his declining days in an office in the Hoover Library writing his memoirs and contributing articles of a faintly neoconservative flavor to ‘Encounter’ and ‘Commentary’ ”

    My understanding – open to reasoned criticism – is that ‘we’ have veered so far away from Conservatism that it will take a concerted effort and study to ferret-out how this happened, and to sort through the corrupting ideas that have infected us. The first order of activity is a radical critique of the present, and ourselves as spokesmen for it.

    • I tried. I copied your entire wall, I read it, I tried to understand it, I tried to respond. My give a shit broke. I deleted everything.

      I refuse your offer. The main breakdown in communication is that we don’t speak the same language. Too many words mean too many drastically different things, and I’m not interested in learning yours. I don’t think it would be useful anywhere else, because it is so drastically removed from the common usage of today. If you want to have a conversation with me, it’s on you to attempt to carry on in my language, or fuck off. I don’t really care which.

      • Well at least you did try, and that is appreciated. I might suggest taking just one paragraph – even of those I included but did not myself write – and commenting. You said earlier that you felt it has been a ‘lack of an occurance’ that has led to the generational problem you described. Can you talk a bit of what ‘occurance’ has been lacking?

        Another thing to consider is my syntax – the order of my thoughts I guess – is in Spanish. I find myself thinking in Spanish and translating to English sometimes. And it is true that I am reading a lot of pretty difficult material and, apparently not so well, trying to express some of my understandings. Despite appearances I am trying to write more clearly. I though I have been doing that.

        Or – I say this with a sardonic smile – your brain has just been addled by too much marijuana? 😉
        ________________________

        Take it for what it is worth:

        I’ve made some notes, based on my present reading, of the different areas that seem critical and necessary to understand some of the issues in a Conservati- in-trouble. My contention is that the Right is going through a profound revision. One pillar has basically collapsed and several others are in the process of being constructed. I think the conversation will have to do with:

        1) Questions of race and culture. The Conservative right does not like to acknowledge that race has been, and still is, a crucial category. Conventional Conservatism of the WF Buckley variety has ‘purged’ those thinkers who dealt on racial/cultural issues openly. The issue is coming back and will have to be talked through.

        2) The Jewish question that no one can speak about openly. That is, the marriage at a political-military level between the US and Israel, as well as the over-representation of Jews in neoconservatism (and hence our unfortunate invasions, occupations and adventures of ‘nation building’). The reflexive support of Israel by American Evangelicals will have to be examined much more closely. (It is in the Alt/Right). These things must be talked about by conservatives. Obviously, the Jewish-critical so-called ‘far-right’ exists, from which the conservative and centrist pole tries to distance itself. Yet that rejected or suppressed pole is showing itself again.

        3) The question of war generally. Some argue – I share their conviction – that it is war-making and a militaristic orientation (the creation of a perma-war culture and also of a perma-warrior class) that may show itself as being one of the most destructive factors operating in our present. I could make an argument that a perma-war mind-set is completely destructive to a mental frame that would construct a sane (and conservative) society. I do not think that the Right is capable of even speaking to this issue. The militaristic focus may in fact lead to the destruction of the Republic. It is not impossible.

        4) Muddled thinking. The incapacity of large swaths of the populus to reason. The failure of the education system. I mean the basic skills of ordered thinking. But yet this ‘swath’ has been welcomed into so many different areas and their lack of thinking (emotional thinking I have called it) creeps where it should not and is severely destructive to the Republic.

        5) Christianity. Evangelical religiosity of the sort practiced today. This sort of religiosity is deeply emotionalized and irrational. Yet Christian thinking is very profound. For example: The Oxford Companion to Critical Thought is a huge volume with hundreds of different entries on all topics of thought. But Christians, generally, and certainly the Conservative movment is made up substantially of evangelicals, seems to struggle to think in clear and free terms. There are numerous right-wing critics of modern American religiosity (that is, Evangelical Christianity) which note that this religosity produces a slavishly-minded individual. A complex issue.

        6) Entertainment. Infotainment. I don’t even know how to speak about this. It seems though that this ‘industry’ is in many ways the enemy of thought, critical thought, and the sorts of skills a responsible individual must have in order to participate in society. It seems to me that the industry of entertainment undermines so much.

        7) The handing over of power and authority to a way-too-powerful Federal authority. I came acorss a reference to ‘the therepeutic state’. The state as solution. The state as the entity that will ‘save’ people. I guess this means the weakening, essentially, of community and neighborhood. Or regions. States obviously. The right-wing critics of conservatism have many things to say about this.

        8) There are some other interesting categories that have to be examined: Feminism. Atheism. Automation. Music.

        9) A revision in careful detail of the meaning of The Sixties to American civilization. I see The Sixties as a sort of third Cane Ridge Revival. All of it is so profoundly American! that there is no way to sweep it away or imagine it did not happen. It may have been one of the most powerful cultural events in American history. Yet some elements in it can be said to be ‘conservative’, if especially in a religious sense.

        • “Well at least you did try, and that is appreciated. I might suggest taking just one paragraph – even of those I included but did not myself write – and commenting. You said earlier that you felt it has been a ‘lack of an occurance’ that has led to the generational problem you described. Can you talk a bit of what ‘occurance’ has been lacking?”

          It’s a strange concept. It’s both scarcity and abundance. At the same time the system is rigged in such a way that our kids can never really succeed, it’s also padded in a way that they can never really fail. We’ve removed both the carrot and the stick and what we’re left with is a generation of “meh”. What they need is either 1) A disaster. 9-11 doesn’t count, because aside from a massive blow to America’s collective ego, it didn’t create the scarcity previous disasters had. We’re talking about something that tears the safety net enough that despite a system still stacked against them, they’re required to at least try to participate, or starve. Or 2) A miracle. Something like everyone over 60 who is still working gets taken up in a rapture and frees up the labour market enough to give them a real path to success.

          “Or – I say this with a sardonic smile – your brain has just been addled by too much marijuana?😉”

          Not for years, although sometimes I’m sorely tempted.

  11. Alizia Tyler wrote: ”Humble Talent laments that a whole generation has gone astray, and this would imply tracing the steps by which this occurred. What exactly occurred? When? Why? How?”

    Humble Talent wrote: “I actually think it was the lack of an occurrence.”
    _______________________________

    Yet if the question is taken seriously it will I think lead to ‘actionable material’ in the realm of ideas. Couple of quickly sketched ideas:

    In ‘Right-wing Critics of American Conservatism’ (University Press of Kansas, 2016) there is an attempt to locate and define what is the real ‘conservative position’. The more obvious origins of Conservative ideas are glossed in the first chapter, and in the second he sketches the contemporary figures who intellectually defined a Conservative position: The Southern Agrarians, Richard Weaver obviously, then Wendell Berry, Robert Nisbet and then on to Christopher Lasch who, while starting on the Left-spectrum ended up, according to the author, well on the Right. Lasch wrote ‘The Culture of Narcissim’ (1979) and I will focus on this for a brief second since it seems to me that to understand ‘our present’ and the nearly ridiculous, and yet powerful, presence of a certain type of personality, one has to attempt to define how it is that this Narcissist arrived on the scene. According to Hawley in RWCOAC:

    “The narcissist has no grounding in the past and no real social connection to the present. Lasch argued that the emergence of this personality type was the inevitable and reasonable response to contemporary social trends”.

    Paraphrasing Hawley: [The rise of the Narcisstic individual as a result of] changes in family structure and parenting, ‘surrogate parents responsible not to the family but to the state, to private industry, or to their own codes of professional ethics’. Permissiveness exhibited by modern parents, ‘as well as a growing obsession with authenticity. Lasch believed the family was the bedrock of a decent society, and the outsourcing of parental duties and the absence of parental authority was resulting in a generation of narcissistic adults. These trends were amplified by the permissiveness of advertising and a culture that celebrates consumption and hedonism’.

    He writes: ‘Because liberals had abandoned the old republican ideals of discipline, responsibility, and self-denial, they had no grounds to oppose the culture of immediate gratification that modern capitalism requires. Further, while the demise of feudalism and authoritarian priests and kings presumably ushered in a new era of egalitarianism, Lasch argued that American capitalism had simply transferred earlier forms of authority to the authority of corporations and the managerial class.’
    ___________________

    What interests me in this is that it bolsters a sense I have of the typical semi-educated American* of today. Very un-serious about ideas and intellectual life and yet very present with opinions and sentiments which are shared in a ‘narcissistic’ fashion. Ideas are not discussed coldly, but the personality of the holder of semi-ideas (henids) presents himself as the entity to be debated. Thus conversation seems to become a rumble between childish personalities and far less a discussion of actual ideas. This self-centered personality is not concerned for ‘idea’, he is concerned for the extension of his own self, and self-validation. I’d suggest that if there is a ‘conservatism’ to be defined, that it should seek and must seek to remediate these trends in the individual. How could that come about? That the issue and the problem is one of the individual who has veered off of a soild base and cannot become actualized and relevant until he ‘returns’. When you try to talk to this sort of person it always seems to go off the tracks. He gets evasive, belligerent and non-cooperative. You wind up in a personality-battle with, well, the narcissitic personality.

    (* I don’t mean to exclude you HT).

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