Sacred Disorder | Cliff Bostock's blog – 'Finally, I came to regard as sacred the disorder of my mind' (Rimbaud)

David Brooks grieves rapacious commerce

I read a good bit about how out of touch the political, corporate and pundit classes are, and I always tend to take it with a grain of salt. Glenn Greenwald often borders on shrill in his rants about this.

Then I read something like David Brooks’ latest column and I feel beyond flabbergasted. Here’s some of it:

In short, the United States will never be Europe. It was born as a commercial republic. It’s addicted to the pace of commercial enterprise. After periodic pauses, the country inevitably returns to its elemental nature.

The U.S. is in one of those pauses today. It has been odd, over the past six months, not to have the gospel of success as part of the normal background music of life. You go about your day, taking in the news and the new movies, books and songs, and only gradually do you become aware that there is an absence. There are no aspirational stories of rags-to-riches success floating around. There are no new how-to-get-rich enthusiasms. There are few magazine covers breathlessly telling readers that some new possibility — biotechnology, nanotechnology — is about to change everything. That part of American culture that stokes ambition and encourages risk has gone silent.

We are now in an astonishingly noncommercial moment. Risk is out of favor. The financial world is abashed. Enterprise is suspended. The public culture is dominated by one downbeat story after another as members of the educated class explore and enjoy the humiliation of the capitalist vulgarians.

Washington is temporarily at the center of the nation’s economic gravity and a noncommercial administration holds sway. This is an administration that has many lawyers and academics but almost no businesspeople in it, let alone self-made entrepreneurs. The president speaks passionately about education and health care reform, but he is strangely aloof from the banking crisis and displays no passion when speaking about commercial drive and success.

But if there is one thing we can be sure of, this pause will not last. The cultural DNA of the past 400 years will not be erased. The pendulum will swing hard. The gospel of success will recapture the imagination.

Hello? Is he not aware that for the last eight years, American enterpreneurship of the type he’s describing was quashed by an administration that did all in its power to create a plutocracy?

I love this comment someone left. It says in part:

When we recover from our debilitating malaise, Mr. Brooks, should we return to our former greatness, producing bigger houses, bigger cars, and more objects to fill them, consigning ourselves to an ever-churning, insatiable obsolescence?

What happened, Mr. Brooks, to the conservatism that once treasured family, love, beauty, and virtue? Were they just a veneer, hiding from us the great gifts of production?

I hope your America never returns. This country, at its heart, is a wonderful nation – for so many reasons that you fail to mention and may not fathom. And none of those reasons are commercial in their provenance.

Seriously, read Brooks’ column and the entire comment (#38).

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