MONDAY, APRIL11, 2022
...as opposed to the kids left behind: We've begun to think that David Brooks has been receiving instruction from the same disconsolate major experts who have been instructing us in the past five or six years.
We refer, of course, to Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, the disconsolate group of future scholars who report to us through the nocturnal submissions the haters refer to as dreams.
Through that ancient medium, they report to us from the years which follow the cataclysmic global event they still refer to as Mister Trump's War. Have these same despairing experts been counseling columnist Brooks?
We suspect that columnist Brooks has been having those same "dreams!" Yesterday morning, he offered this analysis in the New York Times:
BROOKS (4/10/22): The fact is that human behavior is often driven by forces much deeper than economic and political self-interest, at least as Western rationalists typically understand these things. It’s these deeper motivations that are driving events right now—and they are sending history off into wildly unpredictable directions.
First, human beings are powerfully driven by what are known as the thymotic desires. These are the needs to be seen, respected, appreciated. If you give people the impression that they are unseen, disrespected and unappreciated, they will become enraged, resentful and vengeful. They will perceive diminishment as injustice and respond with aggressive indignation.
Global politics over the past few decades functioned as a massive social inequality machine. In country after country, groups of highly educated urban elites have arisen to dominate media, universities, culture and often political power. Great swaths of people feel looked down upon and ignored. In country after country, populist leaders have arisen to exploit these resentments: Donald Trump in the United States, Narendra Modi in India, Marine Le Pen in France.
Is man (sic) really "the rational animal," as we've long been told?
At the start of that passage, Brooks rejects one form of that ancient construct. Employing a term we always eschew, he discusses the potent "thymotic desires" of our persistently war-inclined species.
Meanwhile, beware the resentments generated by those groups of "highly educated" urban elites! (We place one term inside scare quotes, perhaps for obvious reasons.)
Just imagine! Le Pen could imaginably win in France, just as Trump once triumphed here! Meanwhile, at the Washington Post, one of our rattled urban elites is still selling the rest of us rubes the moral uplift—and the pleasing sense of identity—contained in this featured video:
‘We’ve made it’: Jackson on being first Black woman confirmed to Supreme Court
We're invited to watch that video and believe that we're moral and good.
A "highly educated" journalistic elite is handing us a Storyline we can use to build our identity. We're asked to thrill to the ascension of the "double Harvards" (Senator Booker)—to thrill to their triumph over adversity—but also to blow past the many others, the millions of kids left behind.
It would make sense to let this topic go, but we've decided to continue with it this week. Against our better judgment, we've decided to discuss the novelized plight of the double Harvards, along with the plight of the millions of kids we're fecklessly leaving behind.
We first met one group of those good, decent kids in the street-fighting autumn of '69. We met them in a tumbledown, turn of the century small brick school right here in Baltimore.
They were in a "forgotten village" back then. On balance, quite a few things haven't changed.
At present, we're taught to attend to the concerns of the double Harvards, and to ignore the millions of kids we're agreeing to leave far behind. We'll continue with this topic for one more week because, after all these years, we remember that group of good, decent kids, and quite a few others besides.
In the past few weeks, our tribe's journalistic and political elites have tirelessly offered us novelized "narrative product" concerning the plight of the double Harvards.
That isn't the fault of the double Harvards. Also, the double Harvards are just people, just like everyone else.
Increasingly, though, the mental world of our failing tribe is formed by a series of novelizations. We're just a stack of simplified tales. We're novelized all the way down.
We're endlessly served simple narrative product; we endlessly gobble it down. Around the world, and in the U.S., many Others are pushing back. Le Pen may win in France!
We're endlessly served this narrative product; we endlessly gobble it down. This is what we humans are like, despondent top experts insist.
This doesn't mean that we're bad people. It simply means that we're people people—human beings all the way down.
Tomorrow: "Affirmative action" versus "Have to be three times as good"