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The new American Jacobins

The basic philosophy at the center of the tea party movement, explained:

The new Jacobins have two classic American traits that have grown much more pronounced in recent decades: blanket distrust of institutions and an astonishing—and unwarranted—confidence in the self. They are apocalyptic pessimists about public life and childlike optimists swaddled in self-esteem when it comes to their own powers.

Yes, I had to look up what a Jacobin is.

5 Comments

  1. Sorry, the quote is absurd. Yes, they’re overconfident. Yes, one way that comes out is in an idealized individualism that neglects any analysis of what (or why) a society is.

    But they do not have a “blanket distrust of institutions”. They are prepared to place absolute trust in institutions that they regard as being controlled, at a point in time, by their friends. This is a very important distinction.

    Both the overconfidence and the selective trust are infantile.

  2. That’s a good point. I do think it’s more “selective distrust” than “blanket distrust”.

  3. “They are prepared to place absolute trust in institutions that they regard as being controlled, at a point in time, by their friends.”

    But then they are not trusting the institution (i.e., laws, processes, etc. that persist even as the people in charge change), they are trusting their friends.

    Put another way, these folks fear and/or do not comprehend abstractions (such as justice or equality or meta-processes and policies designed to ensure things like justice and equality). They are much more comfortable with concrete (but meaningless) metrics like “good to have a beer with” “talks like me” and so on. Abstraction is difficult. Appreciating a well-designed set of processes that help an institution to persist requires non-trivial intellectual sophistication.

    It’s a societal systems problem to enable that appreciation. And there are plenty of forces at work who would be disadvantaged by such. So here we are.

    Beat your anti-govt, anti-regulatory, ‘freedom’ (for corporations) drum long enough.. and what you get are millions of gallons of oil spilling into your foodstream, but hey, government is bad, right?

    headdesk

  4. Oh, did I get a mite carried away there? Oopsie… 🙂

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