Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Closing of the American Mind

I finished listening to Confederacy of Dunces.  I really do believe that Ignatius Reilly--with his continual outrage, compulsive lying, emotional detachment, grotesque self obsession, and delusions of grandeur--really does represent an Ideal Type in a Weberian sense of the typical Leftist.  If you take Michael Moore, he even more or less LOOKS like him, although he likely has trouble sourcing Dr. Nut.

Likewise Myrna Minkoff (spelling approximate, since I listened to the book) is obsessed with saving people.  She wants to save HERSELF through her crusades to save others.  This, too, is the model behind the Daily Cause.  You have large numbers of emotionally fucked up people who want to feel better about themselves by finding--or inventing--people in "need", who in turn need them as saviors.  Being saviors, their lives are not without meaning, and being saviors, they are superior to SOMEONE at least.

I would add in that vein that it is odd to juxtapose the obsession with material wealth which suffuses socialist thought with the grandiose, Olympian detachment which intellectuals direct at the "bourgeois".  On the one hand we are to believe that only material equality matters--social inequality merely being a means to material inequality--and on the other that the culture of intellectuals is superior to the mere pursuit of material things, which are thus signalled as unimportant.  Unimportant, to be clear, to THEM, but not the poor fools who need them to agitate on their behalf.

Bloom himself, turning to my main point (as a segue I should note this is the new audiobook I am listening to), noted all this 30 years ago.  He points out that the intellectuals want to make of minorities the majority, with themselves as aggregators and shepherds of the minorities taken as a whole.  This is where we are today.

But the main point I wanted to make is that he predicted the outrage at Trump 30 years ago as well.  Trumps absolute core sin is positing such a thing as "American Interest", which might also be called the "Public Good".  He speaks of improving the lot of the "American People".

This is a sin because it posits as an absolute truth that such a thing exists, that positive coherent action is possible in support of clearly defined objectives; and positing an absolute truth is exactly equal to Fascism.  Since he speaks of the Public Good he is therefore, through a short chain of tortured logic, a Fascist.

I would encourage our public intellectuals, such as they are, to revisit this book, which was describing 3 decades ago the world we live in today.  It has simply become much worse.  Public lunacy is now tolerated in far too many places, and embraced by far too many people in power who should know better.

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