Tuesday, August 17, 2010

An acute case of liberal affluenza

I've recently finished reading Thomas Sowell's latest book entitled "Intellectuals and Society". Among many interesting things, Professor Sowell noted certain patterns of liberal-slash-intellectual behavior - and it always amuses me to find the examples of such behavior in the media. Here are a few obvious examples from the article "Feeling the pinch? Cheer up – affluence made us miserable" recently published in a British newspaper. ...

1. An affluent liberal (who comes from a very prosperous family) believes that people don't really need wealth.
The author of the aforementioned article, Oliver James is a graduate of the most expensive and selective boarding school for boys in the world, Eton college. (For some perspective it is sufficient to note that Eton is popular with the British Royal Family; Princes William and Harry are Eton graduates.) After Oliver received a degree in Social Anthropology (what the hell is that?) at Cambridge University and a psychology degree from Nottingham University, he did a quick stint at Brunel University  and Cassel Hospital in Richmond. But a normal hard-working life was not for Oliver, so instead he became a movie producer for the government-run BBC (apparently, his connections from Eton and Cambridge helped him to get the necessary financial support by the government-run media outlet).  Oliver is an author of multiple books and documentaries criticizing "consumerism" - or, in other words, he is upset when the plebs dare to purchase colored TVs at the time when he had to sell one of his prize-winning horses. Oh, the injustice of free market economy!

2. The liberal in question makes far reaching pronouncements on how societies should operate, while demonstrating obvious economic ignorance.
In his article, Oliver mistakenly equates affluence with high indebtedness - which tells you how much this genius understands basic economics. On the other side, it's quite plausible that a man with Oliver's pedigree (British nobility no less) would think that truly rich people are up to their necks in debts (prostitutes and gambling are the main sinks of income for nobility in all countries) - in fact any one who comes off the pages of the Dickens's books would have reached same conclusions.

3. Same liberal asserts without any evidence that the time during right-wing president/prime minister was unusually egotistic and that economic liberty equals greed and is evil, while the economy run by the government is virtuous.
According to Oliver:
"Incubated in the 1960s, the virus [i.e. the attempt of the prols to improve their living conditions] was spread wider and in more virulent form by Mrs Thatcher and her Blatcherite successors (Blair and Brown). This selfish capitalism (free market economics) has greatly increased our likelihood of mental illness: we are twice as likely to suffer (23% of us) than our mainland Western European cousins (only 12%), who have relatively unselfish capitalist economies....
Less materialistically motivated populations tend to be more family and community minded. In societies like Denmark, for example, people are much more liable to be concerned about the well being of a child who seems distressed in public. If a wallet is dropped, it’s much more likely to be handed in. There are much higher levels of trust between people of all ages, less cynicism about government."

4.The liberal intellectual asserts that people don't need to earn more money - and anyone who does so is simply misguided, or suffers from what Marxists call "false consciousness".
Oliver puts it this way:
"...I believe there will be a gradual increase in the extent to which people come to realise that they do not need such high incomes if they spend less. As we rediscover the difference between real needs and false wants – confected by advertising and peer pressure – we will start to wake up and smell the coffee: compared with much of the population of the world, nearly all of us are incredibly wealthy. If we can just get on with enjoying that wealth through better family lives, intimate friendships, communities and enjoyable hobbies, we will be a whole lot more mentally healthy."
And true that - who would be more prepared to distinguish between the real needs and false wants of prols than Oliver James, a man who shared his bedbunk with British royalty? I cannot think of anyone else, honestly- his name is always the first in the list.

5.The future is bright if only people do exactly as the liberal tells them to

The article arrogantly proclaims - "The shift to healthier valuesfrom having to being – will not happen suddenly." But what does Oliver believe are healthier values (I will ignore the false contradition between having and being)? Well, less wealth, less work, less personal responsibility. In short, Oliver wants adults to become more like children - and he means it literally.
"Instead of these materialistic values, we need goals and motives that are driven by real satisfaction of authentic needs. That means a greater concern with the pleasure of an activity for its own sake, rather than possible external benefits. Like children’s play, this kind of activity takes the person into a state of “flow”, where time passes without your noticing, a state of full absorption. I witness this in my children every day, but adults can have lives like that too. It’s often achieved by pursuing paid work that is interesting to you rather than seeking promotion or greater salaries – within a corporation, for example, putting interest in the work ahead of material or promotional gains. Oddly enough, that can actually lead to greater success, although it is not the goal."

It's evidently only a matter of time before liberal psychologists will declare competitiveness and desire to succeed as a new and dangerous mental disorder. As Beatles sang - "Back in USSR" - a country where a citizen who did not believe in the communist ideology was pronounced mentally sick, and was sent off to a psychiatric  hospital for compulsory medical treatment.

The true value of Oliver's insane pronouncements could be best understood if one were to imagine the Eton grad repeating these obnoxious claims in front of a janitor, a waitress or a mechanic. It would be interesting to see what would be the reaction of a working man who has to support a family - when he is advised to give up his bread-n-butter profession and instead emulate children and find some fun activity. After all - who wants to be a janitor? Just satisfy your authentic needs and find an interesting and engaging job. For example Oliver did just that - with a little help from his ancestors and millions of dollars from the government subsidies. This is surely beyond Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake" insanity - this is more akin to "Why do they need to eat bread - it is so fattening - let them pick a hobby instead".
The real question is - why does Oliver, a British blue blood, highly educated in liberal sciences would desire to suppress the people's desire to improve their living conditions? The answer is simple - and I will use slightly modified wikipedia's quotes to explain the root causes of Oliver's mental illness. Oliver has caught the "liberal affluenza".

Liberal affluenza:

liberal affluenza, n. a painful, contagious, socially transmitted condition of overload, anxiety and occasionally violent outburst resulting from either the dogged pursuit to control over people's life or envy of someone's achievements.
liberal affluenza, n. 1. The bloated, sluggish and unfulfilled feeling that results from desire to feel morally superior to others; 2. An unsustainable addiction to feeling of self-importance.
Proponents of the term consider that prizing of endless increase of one's power over other people's lives may lead to feelings of worthlessness and dissatisfaction rather than experiences of a 'better life', and that these symptoms may be usefully captured with the metaphor of a disease. They claim some or even many of those who became important members of political society will find the political success leaving them unfulfilled and hungry only for more power, finding that they are unable to get pleasure from the limited amount of influence they have on other people, and desire for more power may come to dominate their time and thoughts to the detriment of personal relationships and to feelings of happiness. The condition is considered particularly acute amongst those with inherited wealth, who are often said to experience guilt, lack of purpose and dissolute behavior, as well as obsession with holding on to power. Given the inability of those people to succeed on their own accord, they put particular emphasis on attacking and denigrating the people who achieved their position in life through hard work.


Anonymous said...

An interesting read. Well done fellow <a href="http://www.conscientiousequity.com/>conservative</a>.

Anonymous said...

Word up, conservative dude

Hyphenated American said...

Hey, thanks for the comment. Do you want a link exchange?