Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Dark Ethic of Corporatism

And my good buddy Hank thought I was down on the USA - check out this brilliant article.

Like all Jeremiads, it has some of the chicken little quality - like did things really turn to shit in 1919, as opposed to 1819 or 1865 or 1957 or any number of other dates we could pick? Or do things cycle slowly through periods of downturn and renaissance?

But, some trenchant analysis and some awesome quotations, such as:

"Education in the United States has become vocational. ... Why? Because the Humanities ask the kind of broad questions of meaning that those systems that prize above all else vocational workers do not want to ask. "

"The liberal church has failed us, and they've failed us on two levels. (First), they have defined spirituality as 'How is it with me,' which is a form of narcissism.... And secondly, they have failed us because they did not stand up to the Christian right."

Ha! He even calls Christopher Hitchens "repugnant"! Anybody who hates the Christian right AND Christopher Hitchens is okay in my book!

ZOMG he even references "Notes from Underground"!! This guy's my NBFF!!

And this quotation from the end is right out of Kim's blog on many an occasion:

"God is a human concept. God has been given by various theological systems – our own and others – numerous attributes, some of which are morally repugnant. But the reality of the transcendent is something that artists and religious thinkers — who of course in early history were fused into one — have struggled to document."


Blogger Sir Otter said...

Lots of good stuff in there, but your point about niggling over the date it all began to go to hell is well-taken. I think the point the author misses is that the evils he described were inherent in the American psyche from its onset as a separate identity from its British origins, and maybe before. Every sin he attributes to the age of mass media (post-WWI) was there in the debates about the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. 'Rugged individualism' as our peculiar expression of short-sighted narcissism was present ab ovo, our founding fathers were our first celebrities, and slavery was the ultimate consumer issue pitting property against enlightened policy. The amazing thing is that we did so well for so long in spite of these deficits; it should be no surprise that the house of cards is in peril of collapsing into either fascism or feudalism.

7:24 PM  
Blogger KPaffenroth said...

Thanks for a historian's perspective Otter! You put some of my vague concerns in a specific context.

And how about that "rugged individualism" that leads (often) to trouble? I put that in GOTLD and some reviewers balked: their conclusion was, of course, that the message of the films was that we needed MORE guns and MORE training to use them and then things would be swell (before or after the dead rise)! I love this country as much as my ersatz nemesis Hank does, but I don't turn from its strangely compelling ugly points.

10:55 PM  

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