Mr. Luce, armchair psychologist: a comment by Political Skeptic

Mr. Luce in his race to meet his deadline simply appropriates/reinterprets Mr. Niall Ferguson’s decline of the West political fatalism, decline/degeneration, and places it within the rhetoric of a question framed by glib yet vacuous pop psychology: is the west clinically depressed? He practices armchair psychology with a quick succession of metaphors: Today’s pessimism, miserabilism, technological revolution,personal freedom the west’s creed, our gloom that he posits as the pervasive psychological condition of the west. It’s simply not a maladroit description of the present quandary of the west but a defense of the utterly failed western experiment with Neo-Liberalism. From the rise of Thatcher/Reagan to the economic collapse of 2008 happened in less than a generation. All this chatter about the return of prosperity is so much window dressing. A quote from the essay is instructive:
‘It would be tempting to say yes. The average westerner lives far longer, is far less affected by war and has vastly greater choice than any people in human history. To be alive and free ought to be a giddy privilege. Perhaps we are so historically ignorant in our bliss that we do not appreciate what we have. Maybe something deeper, the continuous distraction of technology, perhaps, has so altered our neural wiring that we are less capable of appreciating what is under our noses. Or perhaps we are so unimpressed with the quality of public life nowadays, we suffer that misery that can come only from self-knowledge. All are types of depression. Each, in one form or another, has been suggested as an explanation for the west’s gloom. None strikes me as a killer diagnosis.’
After this praise for the ‘west’ and cynical dismissal of ‘self-knowledge’ as the crux of misery, it is quickly followed by the rise of others e.g. China and India,then comes the assertion that the west is growing old i.e. the onset of political sclerosis. In the Free Market mythology equaling shrinking risks brings shrinking rewards, for the risk averse pool of entrepreneurial actors, if any. The ‘grey lobby’ enters as anti-political actor: Tea Party,UKIP, National Front i.e. ‘western gerontocracy’. And mercifully enters the final player in this shopworn psychodrama, the greedy, the selfish ‘baby boomer’. The reader realizes more of Mr. Luce’s political/moral concerns than of the clinical disposition of the west in this essay.
Political Skeptic

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.'
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.