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Monday, February 19, 2007

David Brooks Goes Fetal

I never really understood the mind-set of those among us who accept authoritarianism as a necessary aspect of human life. I mean, I understand the words that come out of their mouths, and I will grudgingly concede a form of coherence (albeit tautologous) in their world-view, but I have never been able to quite wrap my mind around it.

It must be a terrible horror to live with such a mind. It appears that David Brooks has such a mind. In a recent column in the New York Times (Human Nature Redux), he opens his column with:
Over the past 30 years or so, our belief in natural human goodness has been discarded.

I am not going to bother taking his propositions apart here, as he is especially well-handled by Arthur Silbur and J. Goodrich over at The American Prospect. I want to merely point out the hubris in Brooks' projection: "our belief."

This is why these people are so dangerous. It is certainly good for Mr. Brooks to vent how he really feels, if only to allow us a glimpse at his terrible madness, so that the sane and good-hearted may ken some sort of soothing remedy for such infantilism. Perhaps to watch for signs of it in our children so that we may take some corrective action. But the fact is that people like this are constantly in a fever, maneuvering within society to discover their "place" and perhaps get a grip on the security which so eludes them. When they look at me, they do not see me. They see themselves, and they assume that I am motivated by the same nefarious motives. And they act accordingly.

Some people are trained this way, with unfortunate life circumstances driving them further and further into cynicism. There are some who resist this regardless of the hardship or cruelties they may face. Then there are the sociopaths who are inexplicably incapable of empathetic experience (around 5% of us, according to some.)

I don't know whether David Brooks came by his cynicism "honestly" or is one of the five percenters, but I will make this observation. It is this kind of thinking which causes a wealthy and powerful nation to destroy itself in its ever-elusive quest to "nail down" its place in the "natural order."

And this man pontificates from the edifice of the New York friggin' Times.

Update: More writhing.

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