A New Social Agenda: A Selective Lexical Guide by American Litterateur, Part Two


“Santorum believes Head Start should teach manners to children.”

(Santorum believes that poor children should be seen but not heard: that the poor need to remember their place.)


“Santorum’s policies on tax reform, entitlement reform and the other big issues are similar to Mitt Romney’s and most of the other Republican candidates. But he seems to understand that simply cutting is not enough to build a healthy society. To avert decline, America has to restore its values.”

(Santorum like his fellow Republicans believes the Party to be the instrument of the will of the plutocrats that finance it, so ‘tax reform’ and ‘entitlement reform’ mean lower taxes for the wealthy and slashing demonstrably successful social programs. To avert our precipitous moral decline we must in self-defense reassert Patriarchal authority, from the top down.)

“Santorum understands that we have to fuse economics talk and values talk.”

(The economic hegemony of the Market must be framed in the moralizing rhetoric of the Abrahamic Tradition.)

“But he hasn’t appreciated that the biggest challenge to stable families, healthy communities and the other seedbeds of virtue is not coastal elites. It’s technological change; it’s globalization; it’s personal mobility and expanded opportunity; it’s an information-age economy built on self-transformation and perpetual rebranding instead of fixed inner character. It is the very forces that give us the dynamism and opportunities in the first place.”

(Here is where Mr. Brooks become prescriptive rather than descriptive: ‘stable families’,’healthy communities’,’other seedbeds of virtue’ (what entity might this be?one can only wonder at this rhetorical creature) not ‘coastal elites’ meaning the decadent, the irreligious, the blasphemers, the degenerates who wish to seduce our virtuous children to a life of moral degradation, of sin. Then Mr. B. speaks glowingly of the Market and the wonders of its technological gifts and then quite mysteriously of an “economy built on self-transformation and perpetual rebranding instead of fixed inner character. It is the very forces that give us the dynamism and opportunities in the first place.” Is not the ‘self-transformation and perpetual rebranding of fixed inner character’ the absolute moral opposite of the entirety of his argumentative stance: is this encomium to the liberating character of the products of the Market just the opposite of the value of a conformity to Patriarchal values? Or does Mr. B. get lost is his poetic evocation of the wonders of the technology produced by Modern Capital?)

“Santorum doesn’t yet see that once you start thinking about how to foster an economic system that would nurture our virtues, you wind up with an agenda far more drastic and transformational.”

(Santorum must be led by intellectuals, platonic philosopher kings like Mr. B., toward the right path of the marriage of authority, capital and the cultivation of virtue.)

“If you believe in the dignity of labor, it makes sense to support an infrastructure program that allows more people to practice the habits of industry. If you believe in personal responsibility, you have to force Americans to receive only as much government as they are willing to pay for. If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that both encourages marriage and also supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable.”

(Is the ‘dignity of labor’ to be defined as the production of things on an assembly line, or as the labor that a speculator in the market place uses to inflate the price of commodities he has invested in? As an advocate of the failed Free Market Ideology, Mr. B. is the least credible source to advocate ‘wage subsidies’ instead of a fair living wage for the 21st Century. Or is that what he’s advocating,its hard to decipher his meaning.)

If you believe social trust is the precondition for a healthy society, you have to have a simplified tax code that inspires trust instead of degrading it. If you believe that firm attachments and stable relationships build human capital, you had better offer early education for children in disorganized neighborhoods. If you want capitalists thinking for the long term and getting the most out of their workers, you have to encourage companies to be more deeply rooted in local communities rather than just free-floating instruments of capital markets.”

(If you believe that ‘social trust’ is measurable by the ‘fairness’ of the tax code, you are David Brooks but for the rest of us ‘social trust’ could be simply defined as the assumption of the good will of your fellow citizens and acting on that faith. Human capital could also be expressed as human potential and early childhood education makes all things possible. The awful problem with Capitalism that Mr. Brooks refuses to face is that the interests of Capital and the interests of Labor are very frequently antithetical.)

I doubt Santorum is going to win the nomination. Main Street Republicans like Romney usually beat social conservatives like Santorum because there are just so many more of them in the Republican electorate. But social conservatives and libertarians often provide the ideas that Main Street leaders co-opt.”

(Santorum reminds me of the aggressive, grating and condescending moralizing of Newt Gingrich. He managed to make a lot of enemies, while in the Senate, using his hyperbolic style. Mitt Romney is less threatening to the American sensibility than Mr. Santorum, put succinctly. American political life is alive with a variety of ideas good and bad ,but usability and appropriation are it two constants.)

America is creative because of its moral materialism — when social values and economic ambitions get down in the mosh pit and dance. Santorum is in the fray.”

( Mr. Brooks uses his talent for the telling contemporized aphorism to conclude his essay)

American Litterateur


About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer.
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