Friday, July 17, 2009

Robert Edgerton’s ‘Sick Societies’ (1992) Revisited: Is Culture Adaptive?

By Thomas F. Bertonneau on Thu, 2009-07-16 07:54

[…] Self-criticism is central to the Western tradition, from Plato and Aristotle to Immanuel Kant and Edmund Husserl. The currently prevalent self-hatred, urged on the commonality by the elites (who certainly never show any similar hatred of themselves or their own beliefs), differs radically from genuine introspection. One might trace the history of this self-hatred, while cataloguing its destructive results, from Rousseau, who directly influenced the French Revolution and provided theoretical justification for its enormities, through Karl Marx’s inspiration of the Bolsheviks, with their homicidal record, to the deliquescence of civic society consequent on the socialist-and-multicultural policies of existing Western governments. Not least of these inimical governments would be the increasingly radical and dictatorial Democrat-Party regime in the USA, whose idea of economics resembles the magical thinking of primitives and whose social policies, administered by “Czars,” mimic the most non-productive notions of Soviet-era Third-World governments.

[…] One cannot blame the current sickness of the West on governments solely, which after all acquire their mandates through majority endorsement at the ballot box. To turn slightly an old observation: everyone in a democratic polity, no matter how wisely he votes, gets the government that the gullible majority deserves. Many widespread traits of Westerners qualify as “sick,” from the willingness of the underclass to live on welfare, letting producers subsidize their destructive habits, to the willingness of elites to defend anti-social behavior, to the unwillingness of the middle class to assert morality, crippled as the bourgeoisie is, spiritually, by a metastatic “White Guilt.” The elites have carefully inculcated same “White Guilt” through the educational system for decades. That again is “sick.”

A friend of mine, a psychologist specializing in corporate culture, recently asked me, in my capacity as a “humanist,” whether I could think of any historical precedent for the current “norm-hatred” of the elites. I could not [bold added]. I can also not think of any historical society that was as absorbed in diversion as the modern Western society, whether it is the ubiquitous pornography of the Internet or the gangster-ethos of “youth-culture” or the stupidity of TV game shows and glitzy amateur hours and so-called reality-dramas.

Insofar as they abet the laziness caused by enthrallment to diversion, other practices, such as those that encourage “self-esteem” in individuals who have no real claim on it, also qualify as maladaptive and therefore as “sick.” These customs and proclivities satisfy the conditions of all three of Edgerton’s operative definitions of maladaptation.

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