O tempora o mores! David Brooks on our current deplorable moral/political state

David Brooks cares about the ‘little people’ like Maddie Parlier getting by, but aspiring to better herself. But Mr. Brooks likes his corporate allies and friends just a bit more than he cares for the welfare and aspirations of Ms. Parlier, even though he devotes a great many words to establish in the mind of his readers, that he too can express concern for his fellow citizen: David Brooks expresses his concern as a convoluted rhetorical cousin of noblesse oblige. His maxim is: higher taxes on the 1% (the rich) will not improve the lot of Maddie Parlier, not, of course, based on any empirical evidence, but his simple assertion of its validity. The key to better the chances of Ms. Parlier is to combine Free Market Capitalism with the Moral Regeneration of America. This Regeneration will take its master ideas, its formulas for success from the naturally superior and ascendent Patriarchy. This is Mr. Brooks’ favorite intellectual hobbyhorse, it never fails to illumine his opinionating, yet the hortatory tone does wear thin after so many iterations. Mr. Brooks gets into trouble when he stops ‘reporting’ and begins ‘opinionating’: he does however have a talent for the acid,the illuminating one liner, one might even compliment his talent by calling some of his sentences and paragraphs epigrammatic:

(“Davidson’s article is important because it shows the interplay between economic forces (globalization and technology) and social forces (single parenthood and the breakdown of community support). Globalization and technological change increase the demands on workers; social decay makes it harder for them to meet those demands.”)

The hobbling of Capital with too much government regulation, the phenomenon of globalization: the rise of rapacious Global Capital, are linked to American Decadence, expressed as moral and community fissure and decay.

(“Tens of millions of children have poor life chances because they grow up in disorganized environments that make it hard to acquire the social, organizational and educational skills they will need to become productive workers.”)

(“Tens of millions of men have marred life chances because schools are bad at educating boys, because they are not enmeshed in the long-term relationships that instill good habits and because insecure men do stupid and self-destructive things.”)

These two sentences might suggest that Mr. Brooks strikes a rhetorical pose utterly Spenglerian in it moral/political gloom, a tempting conclusion, but we must look elsewhere, to the comforting intellectual bromides of modern day American Conservatism for the root of his pessimism.

(“Democrats, meanwhile, have shifted their emphasis from lifting up the poor to pounding down the rich. Democratic candidates no longer emphasize early childhood education and community-building. Instead they embrace the pseudo-populist Occupy Wall Street hokum — the opiate of the educated classes.”)

Here Mr. Brooks takes his revenge on errant Democrats, New Democrats i.e. ‘Liberals’ and the great unwashed Occupy Wall Street movement, that he characterized as ‘milquetoast radicals’. He very handily uses a paraphrase of Raymond Aron’s very famous book title to pillory his opponents.

American Litterateur




About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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