Friday, October 05, 2012

Old Lefty

I work with a social worker about my age who comes from the old school.  A lot of those things we believed in the 70's have not fully dislodged, just been given an updated spin.  Thursday it was the idea that the military operates on the same principle as gangs, fostering camaraderie and group rules, substitute family... and he delights in making it be "gangs" every time he announces this, not accepting my hints that all groups, clans, tribes, and associations also work from the same basic principles.  Plus, he always goes on to mention that the military "targets the most vulnerable members of our society" for membership.  He doesn't say it meanly, just patiently explaining it to all of us who might not have grasped the deep truths he is explaining to us.

Today, when I mentioned that in 1990's Romania people were kept in hospital for long periods of time, mostly because not much real medical help could be given and families needed a break from care, so the hospital waited a polite amount of time before sending them home.  It also gave the patient some attention and a feeling of being treated well.  My colleague thought this was an excellent example of how our Western intrusion had not been entirely positive: Oh, I know it's been economically better but they've lost something that was valuable. His thinking was that families took care of each other more under the old regime, and we disrupted their adaptive patterns.

That this is exactly backward - that the hospitals were not adopting some modern Western idea but were perpetuating an older socialist one - did not occur to him.  That I wasn't speaking about elders in the least went unnoticed.  That in all societies, care for elder relatives declines as life expectancy increases - went missing.  That no Romanian would endorse his opinion as being anything other than insane he is unaware of.  Only his previous narrative remains - that there were good things in the old Soviet system that we blindly ignore now because of our simplistic, uninformed narrative.


Texan99 said...

I suppose to be completely fair I'd admit that the analogy is tighter when you have a very close-knit group that routines faces physical violence together and has significant obstacles to casual resignation from the unit. A clan that lived together and faced frequent dangerous raids from neighboring clans would be a better match to a military unit or a gang than would be, say, my loosely extended family or my local bar association. Hmmm. Cults? Sororities? Unions? Social worker professional associations?

Sam L. said...

Their beliefs are too valuable to them to accept any possibility that they could be wrong, even minutely.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Blogger treats many anonymous comments as spam and doesn't display them. But I had a good one on this post that I want to make sure gets in: Actually, the really sad part is that a young, inner city black male is less likely to end up dead by violence if he joins the military than if he stays put as a civilian (excepting special forces and infantry during wartime). I spent 22 years in the Army Signal Corps, and almost all of the poor recruits viewed it as an escape from insanity to get into the military. The middle class kids who joined for college always thought they could bail out and go back to Mom's basement if it got hard-- the poor kids knew they didn't have any place to go if they were thrown out. They'd seen people get beaten to death, shot, stabbed, you name it; going back was not an option. Give them an honest chance to stand on their own, and they usually took to it like a fish to water. Thanks, anonymouse. We know these things or knew them once, but it pays to be reminded.

Sam L. said...

Seems like some folks hate the military just because that can happen.

Gringo said...

Plus, he always goes on to mention that the military "targets the most vulnerable members of our society" for membership.

He is apparently not aware of The Demographics of Enlisted Troops and Officers.And I quote:

U.S. military service disproportionately attracts enlisted personnel and officers who do not come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Previous Heritage Foundation research demonstrated that the quality of enlisted troops has increased since the start of the Iraq war. This report demonstrates that the same is true of the officer corps.
Members of the all-volunteer military are significantly more likely to come from high-income neighborhoods than from low-income neighborhoods. Only 11 percent of enlisted recruits in 2007 came from the poorest one-fifth (quintile) of neighborhoods, while 25 percent came from the wealthiest quintile. These trends are even more pronounced in the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, in which 40 percent of enrollees come from the wealthiest neighborhoods-a number that has increased substantially over the past four years.
American soldiers are more educated than their peers. A little more than 1 percent of enlisted personnel lack a high school degree, compared to 21 percent of men 18-24 years old, and 95 percent of officer accessions have at least a bachelor's degree.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, minorities are not overrepresented in military service. Enlisted troops are somewhat more likely to be white or black than their non-military peers. Whites are proportionately represented in the officer corps, and blacks are overrepresented, but their rate of overrepresentation has declined each year from 2004 to 2007. New recruits are also disproportionately likely to come from the South, which is in line with the history of Southern military tradition.

But like many libs, your friend probably does not let the facts get in the way of a good argument.