Thursday, August 25, 2011

More reasons not to glamourise the 60s culture

Erica Manfred grew up in a communist family in America. She writes that she and her family considered themselves morally superior to other folk:

As a teenager, I was secretly disdainful of my peers because they were oblivious to the suffering of others. My family and I were part of a morally superior secret society that cared more about the fate of the world than did our bourgeois, materialistic neighbors. We - whose showplace home could have been in House and Garden - worried about poverty, racism and injustice, while they worried about how to keep up with the Joneses.

But did caring about "social justice" really lead to morally superior behaviour? It doesn't seem to have done so. If you read a column she wrote about her love life in the late 1960s, you get a sense of just how destructive the morals of the era could be. In short, she decided to pursue married men. She writes about her first affair with a married man that:

His wife wasn't real to me--she was just an obstacle.

When that relationship ended, she decided to pursue another married man named Michael:

The only hindrance to our budding romance was his pregnant wife and their young child. His marital status made him a challenge to seduce and I couldn't resist. Michael and I fell madly in love and had a steamy affair. I reveled in his adoration of me. I tried desperately to talk him into leaving his wife, invoking the power of our love. I was a romantic to the core and never questioned that love should always triumph. It never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with breaking up his marriage.

When the relationship with Michael ended, she moved onto Larry:

I fell in love with Larry, yet another romantic writer, and moved in with him. After he dumped me a year later--he was tired of me hassling him to get married--I called Michael to see if he wanted to take up where we'd left off. Although he said he still loved me, the answer was a resounding no. It seemed his wife, who was pregnant when we'd met, had found out about us and then committed suicide after the baby was born. She was devastated by his infidelity, and was also undoubtedly stricken by post-partum depression as well, an unknown malady at the time. He now had two small children and felt too massively guilty to have anything to do with me ever again. I was shocked, horrified, but it never really occurred to me to feel guilty about his poor wife--or poor kids-- my ethical development was sorely lacking I'm afraid. To my eternal shame I only felt sorry for myself. No man, no place to live, no job.

It seems that growing up communist and worrying about "poverty, racism and injustice" didn't really create a genuinely morally sensitive woman.

The story gets worse. Erica eventually married a younger, unemployed man who became the primary carer for their adopted daughter. But he left them for another woman when the daughter was seven:

my adopted daughter, who, at age seven wound up in a psychiatric hospital diagnosed with a mood disorder. She felt abandoned both by me, since I was too depressed to be there for her emotionally, and also by her father who left me for another woman. He had been her primary caretaker as well, so that compounded the injury. She cried every night for a year, and then became progressively more angry, destructive, violent and even suicidal. The poor kid--whose birth mom had been an addict--really didn't have the inner emotional resources to deal with divorce.

Erica Manfred did have a moral vision. This, for instance, is what she wrote in 1997:

What remains of the left in today's me-first political climate leaves no room for grand social visions. The younger generation of leftists has splintered into interest groups - each defending its turf with more arrogant political correctness than my die-hard Stalinist parents - without any unifying vision of a just and compassionate society.

Though I long ago dropped the torch, my upbringing has had certain long-term effects. I cannot cross a picket line. I am constitutionally averse to Republicans. I feel guilty every time I miss a demonstration for a good cause. (Lucky for me there aren't too many of those these days.) As with other wishy-washy liberals, my political life consists of voting for the least objectionable candidate.

I still long, though, for a political movement I could wholeheartedly embrace. In my fantasy party we would support the interests of the poor and working classes, not the rich; we would fight for the rights of animals and the environment; we would combat discrimination wherever we found it, and, most important, we would not only tolerate but encourage dissent.

Maybe the next generation.

But it's a moral vision that is deficient. Erica Manfred can spout all the boilerplate she likes about a just and compassionate society or combatting discrimination or encouraging dissent - but none of this "grand social vision" seems to have encompassed creating a workable culture of family life or personal relationships.

17 comments:

  1. It doesn't occur to most people that such a black hole of evil should be put away somewhere and never exposed to other people again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nice post. It made me laugh so hard, especially about her fantasy party...LMAO

    ReplyDelete
  3. "In my fantasy party we would support the interests of the poor and working classes, not the rich; we would fight for the rights of animals and the environment; we would combat discrimination wherever we found it, and, most important, we would not only tolerate but encourage dissent."

    At one time, I could get behind this party of hers. The utopian ideals of liberalism are perhaps the fairest, most humane, and compassionate ideals ever devised. However, Erica Manfred needs to realize what I realized years ago. while a utopian society remains a noble ideal, it is an ideal that can never be realized because it is antithetical to human nature.

    The attempt to institute such a society is doomed to fail in exactly the way she bemoans. It is human nature to be selfish, greedy, and violent. No matter how charitable we may be, it is our nature to put ourselves and our families first. The socialist ideal promotes laziness and plays into these tendencies by creating a "me first" sense of entitlement that decreases motivation and increases dependence on others. for this reason, her fantasy can never be realized.

    While I firmly believe we should hold to such ideals, we should hold to them on a personal level, not as a society. We should stribve to be fair, honest, and charitable while realizing that society at large will not be. Liberalism is idealistic, conservatism is realistic. We must be realistic in our striving to be idealistic.

    TDOM

    ReplyDelete
  4. I still long, though, for a political movement I could wholeheartedly embrace. In my fantasy party we would support the interests of the poor and working classes, not the rich; we would fight for the rights of animals and the environment; we would combat discrimination wherever we found it, and, most important, we would not only tolerate but encourage dissent.

    Ironically, but with an asterisk on that bit about animals and the environment, the best fit for her politically would actually be the alternative right.

    ReplyDelete
  5. No surprise for an ideology cobbled together from three very mentally ill people. Rousseau, Marx and Darwin were all nuts. Each one in his own right was a force amplifier for an emerging cosmology of political theory. Restrained from engaging in the mass murder inflicted elsewhere, contemporary North American socialists inflicted it on unsuspecting victims at the personal level.

    Her self depiction is that of a moral psychopath, who by repetitively elevating her own desires to a value results in nothing but tragedy for the objective props in her lust driven fantasies.

    It's so strikingly similar to all ancient pagan cults, innate human moral interaction being trespassed by abstract human intellectual inventions with always the same results.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous: yes, she is a psychopath. That so many people like her roam unhindered--no, assisted!--in our society is criminal.

    ReplyDelete
  7. It seemed his wife, who was pregnant when we'd met, had found out about us and then committed suicide after the baby was born. She was devastated by his infidelity, and was also undoubtedly stricken by post-partum depression as well, an unknown malady at the time.

    What a tragedy.

    But it's a moral vision that is deficient.

    Unfortunately no matter how morally deficient and incorrect their worldview is they won't stop and give up. Many don't seem to learn from their mistakes and continue to repeat the same errors over and over again.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Elizabeth, only a small percentage of psychopaths transcend into the criminal realm. Most seem aware enough to limit their behaviour to actions against vulnerable subordinates, associates and family members.

    As though intellectual support of an abstract concept gives one license to intrude upon third parties sounds like a shallow justification.

    It makes liberalism potentially even more perverse, as acceptance of the creed will likely appeal to the worst kind of people. Imagine, a demented self serving cynicism, where an actual cognitive link exists in the mind related to verbalizing the creed as psychic therapy to excuse any form of personal misconduct.

    ReplyDelete
  9. "In my fantasy party we would support the interests of the poor and working classes [...]"

    Since massive third-world immigration exerts a downward pressure on the wages of the poor and working classes, does she therefore support closed borders and an immigration moratorium?

    Didn't think so.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I don't see why people think she is a psychopath. She seems like your typical progressive to me. I don't have a good opinion of progressive ideology, but it doesn't seem to line up with psychopathy.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Her personal behavior didn't seem either just or compassionate to me. Evil, selfish, and destructive is what I'd call it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The problem with the left is that they "support the interests of the poor and working classes" even when doing so would be unjust to the rich, and "fight for the rights of animals" when doing so would be unjust to humans.

    ReplyDelete
  13. someday all the boomers will be dead. <3

    ReplyDelete
  14. These people are essentially moral free-riders.

    They espouse a suicidally benevolent morality as a way of elevating themselves in moral status above others, notwithstanding that the particular morality that they espouse hurts the group (society) overall, of which they are themselves are part (therefore they are also hurting themselves in the long-term).

    So, despite the fact that the morality they espouse hurts the group overall, and that the degree to which their morality hurts the group overall is much much greater than the degree to which the espousers of that morality benefit themselves at societies expense, all the espousers of that morality really care about is elevating their relative position to everyone else in their society. Therefore they can damn everyone in the long-term as long as they get theirs (advance their position/moral status) in the short-term.

    Or put another way, the sum total of the harm caused by their morality to the whole group (of which they are a part and are therefore also harming themselves) is offset by the relative position that they can advance themselves within the group (at least in their minds, (although they might not consciously be making this determination, what matters for our purposes is not the proximate cause but instead the ultimate cause. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proximate_and_ultimate_causation)).

    Simply put, they'd rather be the king of losers (sum value of the group is small but their relative position is high) than be the loser among kings (sum value of the group is high but the relative position of the subject within the group is low).

    So they selfishly get a minor increase in moral status while damning the rest of society in the long-term, or put simply, they act as moral free-riders.

    ReplyDelete
  15. That, is very good, Chris.

    ReplyDelete
  16. someday all the boomers will be dead.

    That won't help anything if the ideology they made "hegemonic" is still as dominant as it is today.

    ReplyDelete
  17. At one time, I could get behind this party of hers. The utopian ideals of liberalism are perhaps the fairest, most humane, and compassionate ideals ever devised.

    Baloney. They are not fair, humane or compassionate. They're lazy and selfish.

    Liberalism/progressivism is fundamentally a philosophy that has no place for individual personal responsibility. Everything is a collective responsibility, "we" are responsible for getting something done, which means "I" don't have to do it.

    That's it in a nutshell - "we" (meaning everyone else) does the work and makes the sacrifices while "I" indulge in whatever selfish endeavor catches my fancy, sponging (materially and morally) off the rest of society.

    The problem with her philosophy isn't that it goes against human nature, it's that it takes advantage of human nature to reward sociopaths at the expense of the rest of society. Human nature isn't perfectly greedy and selfish, not in the majority of well-adjusted people anyway.

    Well-adjusted people balance selfish and communitarian instincts. Our species would never have made it to where we are if the majority of humans didn't have social instincts.

    But a small minority - maybe 15%? - of people lack those instincts. They are parasites - free riders as Chris said - on civilization. They are properly called sociopaths. This woman is one of them.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.