In Part I we described salient cultural developments of the 1960s, particularly the civil rights and anti-war movements. Some of us still alive can take pride in our roles, but by now they seem quaint. What follows outlines the devolution of our societal discourse since then.
As in other entertainments, so it is in politics: something
has to replace the last thing before it gets stale. Soon Negroes (using the
word then current) were pushed off the screen to make room for Lyndon Johnson’s
Great Society, then anti-war protests drove him off the screen and out of
office. There followed a succession of new competitors, making their claims
against society. They said in effect, “What about me? I too deserve redress.”
And, “I deserve it more than those
others do.” Professional activists promoted themselves, claiming to have
uncovered suffering the rest of us were too thickheaded to notice, too
insensitive to care about, or too slow to fix. “Great” in Great Society became
a sneer. It became commonplace to say injustice was endemic to our polity, our
economy, our culture, and our very psychology. Eventually the power game
swamped whatever good will was left among us.
Continue reading “The Altruism Industry – Part II”
Each generation that comes along has the comical notion that they are the first to discover sex. The generation of the 60s thought it was the first to discover America’s materialism and complacency. It was not; we inherited that awareness from the Beats and other less theatrical critics of the 1950s.
A golden moment
We came up in a golden moment of postwar prosperity. There
was enough money to pay for tuition at the best schools. We had great teachers,
the best libraries in existence, music and food in abundance, and friends with
whom to enjoy them. We were excused from military conscription and protected
from anti-drug laws. Our parents, after the deadliest war in history, seeing
life as something of a miracle; sent us love upon request.
Continue reading “The Altruism Industry – Part I”
In Part I the Owl described the perverse devolution of
misery into a market good. A corner has been turned. Aggrandizement and
titillation (the old fashioned words have no good replacements) act on people
like a drug habit; it takes a new evil every
day to keep the party going. Reporters will find it for us. Delight in
ourselves comes to include identification with the unhappiness we started out
to change. Solidarity, however imaginary, with degraded people becomes more
important than ending the degradation.
We are entertained by misery. One need only turn to recent
entertainment media (never forget that is what they are): television, movies, social
media even chichi advertising. They gain attention by including what we enjoy
so much: human oddities, disasters, injustice, and misery.
Continue reading “Spiritual-Political Hazards – Part II”