Q. Why do little children and their grandparents have such a special and loving relationship?
A. They have a common enemy.
Those of you who, like me, are in “the sandwich generation” it will be especially obvious that the common enemy referred to is the responsible, working adults who take care of both the child and the grand parents. I offer this joke for two reasons. The first is as an introduction to the central point of this post which revises the concept of this Cultural Insanity series. The other reason is that it is a allusion to the plethora of issues having to do with my elderly parents and young children that have contributed to the unusual amount of time that have elapsed between my last post and this one.
I have been away for a while but I have also been busy. As I outlined in the first two posts of this series, I believe that Western Civilization is threatened by cultural pathologies both from within (the latest incarnations of the socialist/communist/progressive left) and from without (Caliphate Islam). I have also remarked that although the left and Caliphate Islam have virtually nothing in common and, in fact, have diametrically opposed values they share two things, a virulent hatred for western civilization and a problem with visualizing the future. These basics have not changed but I need to take this time to tell you about a major realignment of my underlying theory.
As I have been toiling at what I had envisioned as the last post of this series I have gotten some very important input from a few very astute commenters. They have helped me evolve my ideas on the fly. It is now clear to me that I will actually need four more posts after this one to bring this series to its full development. Each of the ensuing installments will focus on one of the four cornerstones of the program I envision to revitalize Western Civilization.
The most recent and galvanizing of these new influences came in the form of a very insightful comment from an anonymous but very perceptive person who comments under the name of MeTooThen. So that you don’t have to go look here are the lines of the comment that hit me the most directly:
“I'm not so sure BPD is the right fit.
Personality Disorder might be a better fit but in reality the personality
disorder of the left and the Islamists is what a former colleague called "A
dirty Axis-II" to describe the constellation of signs and symptoms.
There is much to the notion of Narrative and the Self in the world
today, especially with so much of our politics seemingly an extension of
It's also true that the Islamists and Leftists use the
identity or narrative of victim as a way to shape their intrapersonal and
Rarely do we hear that the Palestinians (or
Islamists) are the agents of their own behavior (Bret Stephens wrote a very
powerful essay about this, but I can't seem to find it), rather the vectors of
force and initiative are always acting upon them, e.g. Hamas' brutality is the
result of occupation.
Again, these are notions of Self and Narrative.”
Hmmm..., Narcissism and identity- narrative…, being compelled to feel and act in certain ways by powerful forces (imagined or real). Among the several bells this comment set off in my mind the loudest was a connection to a theme that I have come back to in my ruminations repeatedly but have always shied away from. In many ways, the behavior of the left is not so much an analog of mental illness more like an analog of normal human adolescence.
The Caliphateists are, in many ways like the senescent but imperious widow of a wealthy man. They know their days are numbered and that theY hold more power and wealth than they deserve. They are quick to take offence because they are not so stupid that they cannot see how futile and ineffectual they are. They are alternately (or even simultaneously) invincibly confident in their power to cause pain and menace, pathetically fearful on account of their vulnerability to the effects of time and, above all, humiliated by the obvious emptiness of their pose of power and the unearned nature of their wealth. They spend their tortured days in a defensive and agitated rage against the world that is passing them by.
Like a nightmare version of the doddering grandparents in the joke, the Caliphateists want to return to and live in the past- they long for the “good old days” when the Muslim empire was young, strong and spreading by the sword. They would like to obliterate the modern world and return to that simpler time when truth was proven at the point of a scimitar.
The leftist, like the unruly, sullen and ungrateful child in the joke, basks in the comfort and protection Western Civilization and even though he knows that it is that very same civilization which provides his food, safety, resources and most ironically, the protection of his rights, he looks down upon it with condescension and even contempt. Although he cries out for “everything to be different” and he expresses vile hatred. Deep inside he doesn’t really want to bring it down; he just wants to irritate and impede it from growing, improving and passing him by. He pretends to want to change it even as he depends on it to support his life. He lives in fear that the incompetent recesses (such as much of academia) where the left thrives will someday become part of the competitive marketplace and be made to respond to its evolutionary pressures.
In fact, if senile Islam and the idiot teenager of the left ever formulated and verbalized their separate visions of the future they would be so diametrically opposed that they would recognize each other as mortal enemies. The two are both so phobic of and in such denial about the future, though, that they, for the time being at least, allow their shared resentment of mainstream Western culture to be the foundation of an alliance between them.
Indeed the left, with its petulant attitude and specious attempts to undermine the moral and intellectual standards of our culture has always seemed to me to be behaving in a very similar way to a manipulative teenager.
Leftists indulge in startling feats of moral blindness that are redolent of adolescent immaturity. For example, when they equate, or even hold as morally superior, the Palestinian use of children as suicide bombers in the killing of innocent civilians to the Israelis’ occasional accidental killing of bystanders while eliminating known terrorist leaders, they, analogous to a bright but immature teenager have merely shown that they are capable of performing logical manipulation of ideas but have not gained the level of engagement with reality to be able to distinguish the moral values needed to fully understand what they are saying. When they ignore or reason away human nature and the economic realities of the world in order to advance the impractical and unworkable progressive (or social democratic or whatever other pseudonym they are hiding the essential socialism with this year) doctrine, they are engaging in the adolescent penchant for wanting to believe that the world could be fair and “nice” if only people would stop being the way they are. In short, he is aping the alienation and compensatory anger of a teenager. The leftist is often only saying the equivalent of “I hate you; you are so lame” -being angry, manipulative, moody, and verbally aggressive after the fashion of a confused teenager who has been allowed too wield much power in the family by an over-tolerant liberal parent.
So, the question arises: If there are more or less normal (in the sense of non-pathological) models for this behavior, does this mean that I no longer think that the left and the Caliphate represent Cultural Insanity? Not in the least- in fact this is even more scary than my original scenario. When thirty, forty and fifty-year-old people continue to behave and think like sixteen-year-olds and when a moribund, outmoded, unproductive culture like The Caliphate gets hold of the kind of underserved but vast wealth and power that oil has handed them it is a very abnormal situation and very serious harm is being done. When found in these new contexts, the usually irritating and counter-productive, sometimes infuriating and sometimes dangerous behavioral complexes of the adolescent and the senescent become dangerous both culturally and physically.
The good news is that it would seem as though these twin models of arrested development and agitated senility offer more promising and intuitively accessible paths to resolution than the ones based upon either Borderline Personality, Narcissistic Personality Disorder or even Dirty Axis II. In the next four posts I will be offering four distinct approaches of what might be called Civilizing Cultural Therapy that can provide an antidote for the anti-civilizational poison we are fighting. The Story, dealing with the power of personal narrative as a civilizing influence, is the first of them, (I hope to have that up by next Monday or Tuesday) Science, God and Law will follow.