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The Road to Collectivism Starts Here

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HA, did yall try to leave a comment? There is a little box that pops up saying something to the effect of "NYTimes.com editors aim to highlight the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views."

Somehow, the commentors did appear to find this sham of an article "insightful"

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Thanks for posting this Kat. I would have made a comment but they aren't accepting them anymore.

From the article:

This approach is deeply consistent with the individualism of modern culture, with its emphasis on personal inquiry, personal self-discovery and personal happiness.

This is the approach he wants us to eschew in favor of an approach where we "are defined by [our] devotion to an institution", an approach where one's "social function defines who she is."

In other words he wants us to overthrow the approach of Locke, Washington, Jefferson, Paine, and Henry in favor of the approach of Hitler, Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. Indeed he even explicitly describes those he admires as the ones who have "subjugated themselves to their profession, social function or institution." And that when institutions "impede personal exploration" and "enforce conformity" they are only "supposed[ly ...] bad."

Wow, I knew that Brooks was bad but this is truly disgusting. He not only proposes an alternative between collectivism and individualism and chooses collectivism -- acht du meine gutte!!!! But what he proposes, either ignorantly or dishonestly, is a false alternative. He is either evading what individualism actually is or he doesn't know. Notice his description of the individualist approach:

“The aim of a liberal education” the report declared, “is to unsettle presumptions, to defamiliarize the familiar, to reveal what is going on beneath and behind appearances, to disorient young people and to help them to find ways to reorient themselves.”

The report implied an entire way of living. [...] They should be skeptical of pre-existing arrangements. They should break free from the way they were raised, examine life from the outside and discover their own values.

This is what he thinks is entailed by the maxim that: "Individuals should learn to think for themselves." That first paragraph could have been written by Plato and might have come out of the mouth of Kant.

In Brooks' universe the choice is between a disoriented, unfamiliar, disintegrated world of appearances in which nothing is certain and no knowledge is possible OR a world in which you are just a cog in the machine, a world in which personal happiness should not be pursued but rather your social function defines you.

When these are the alternatives I guess it should come as no surprise that Brooks has no clue what caused the financial crisis or how to solve it. This is what passes for intellectualism today.

You are right Kat, we are in deep trouble.

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I thought it worth devoting a column to institutional thinking because I try to keep a list of the people in public life I admire most. Invariably, the people who make that list have subjugated themselves to their profession, social function or institution.

Yuck. This sounds like something Ellsworth Toohey would write. It's one thing to devote yourself to what you do, and stirve to excel in it, but to subjugate one's self. Hey -We could use this to assuage slaves: don't ever contemplate disrespecting your master... just subjugate yourself to his authority. IT's a long standing tradition in human history, so it's ok. Do what you're told to do and do it well; not because you wnat to , but because you should. Don't you feel better now? ;)

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