Friday, October 23, 2009

Prosperity and the Roots of American Order

by J. R. Nyquist (article link)

It has now been 30 years since Christopher Lasch wrote The Culture of Narcissism. According to Lasch, "The psychological patterns associated with pathological narcissism, which in less exaggerated form manifests themselves in so many patterns of American culture - in the fascination with fame and celebrity, the fear of competition, the inability to suspend belief, the shallowness and transitory quality of personal relations, the horror of death - originate in the peculiar structure of the [modern] American family.... Industrial production takes the father out of the home and diminishes the role he plays in the conscious life of the child." Today one might add that the mother, too, has been largely taken out of the home. Thus the way is paved to the collapse of parental authority and the sinister process of state usurpation of the parental function.

The collapse of order has many causes, and results in a growing sickness within the American soul. "Before a person can live tolerably with himself or with others," wrote Russell Kirk, "he must know order. If we lack order in the soul and order in society, we dwell" in a land of darkness. Life becomes insufferable without harmony, meaning or purpose. Of the many signs of a breakdown, our instincts have become attenuated; we do not know our enemy (as we do not know ourselves); we do not know where we stand in history, as we do not care to know any history - imagining ourselves somehow separated from history, even to the point of being "above" history. This sense that we are excepted from history comes from a corollary sense of unreality.

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