Friday, July 10, 2020


In my day, the problem with capitalism was the soul-destroying conformity it created. Now its problem is that it creates soul-destroying individualism. It seems we are hard to please.  Ann Althouse has been on this topic the last few days.  It will shock you to learn that she is pro-individualism.

In the ancient days of the 1950s-80s Corporate America turned out indistinguishable automatons, company men who had to dress alike and parrot the approved line.  They had Donna Reed wives and 2.3 children, and all the cool kids shuddered because they didn't want to be like that, so they all wore blue jeans and let their hair grow. Myself included.  The schools were no better, we were told, only there to produce obedient slaves who would become part of The Machine.

It was ludicrous, of course.  By the time Pink Floyd came out with this teachers in the UK had been celebrating the rebellion against the old guard for more than a decade.  But Waters and the boys soldiered bravely on anyway, fighting a culture war already won. No one was going to make them conform.  In the US, the remarkable innovations in industry and the enormous restless migration about the country, remaking the nation also counted for naught.  They were horrible suburban conformists, all of them.

So, people remain unhappy and they are still just sure that capitalism is the cause. If it can't be conformity that is the problem, it must therefore be individualism.  It couldn't possibly be their own decisions, it must be the decisions of those in The System, against which they and all right-thinking folks are nearly helpless, except held at bay by constant vigilance. I admit I am not sure what they mean by "individualism."  Perhaps they are unsure themselves. It may just be a word to conjure with, stripped of denotative meaning while retaining all connotation.

There is no System.  There are forces. Until that thought is clear in your mind, you will change nothing except by accident. This evil old society doesn't value the right people as it should, Ms. Tolentino thinks.  Yes, many people have said so before, as long as I can remember.  It used to be that America was terrible because we  didn't value cancer researchers but paid professional athletes instead. These days the professional athletes are valued as spokespeople for woke causes, while cancer researchers work for Big Pharma, so that is reversed.

Allow me to explain this to you.  There is a thread that runs through all these contradictions, across the generations. Those complaining think the wrong people have made money and have prestige. The wrong sort of people. Those bad people wear the wrong clothes, have the wrong hair, work for the wrong industries, and it's all just so unfair. They want this for themselves and their friends instead. Then all will be right with the world. "We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little hobbitses! Wicked, tricksy, false!"


Christopher B said...

It will shock you to learn that that she is pro-individualism.

Not really. She's stayed close to the original hippie non-conformist line, especially equality feminism.

Texan99 said...

I'm baffled by other people's willingness to trade their wealth for a number of things: plastic surgery, cigarettes, lawns, cosmetics, sports events. If they observed my own preferences, they'd be buying arcane foodstuffs, musical instruments, teak patio furniture, and extra acres of frog habitat. For years I traded something I was good at but had almost no personal use for--legal services--for cash that I could spend on whatever I liked. (I never pursue legal remedies against people, I just cut commercial ties with them if necessary.) What I like about free markets is that this was a win-win for my clients and myself. They wanted to pursue legal remedies against people, while I wanted to save up money to retire in a sturdy house with enough land around it to provide privacy and endless entertainment. I was puzzled why people would spend so much money taking other people to court, but they'd have been equally puzzled by the things I preferred to buy. If we'd had identical preferences and abilities, there would have been no basis for an economy. We'd all either have to produce everything we needed for ourselves, or go around knocking other people on the head to take what we needed but could not produce.

stevo said...

Didn't Karl Marx invent the word capitalism so he could hate on it?

basher20 said...

"...Doctors, and Lawyers, and business executives, and they're all made out of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same." springs to mind.

There's a point I've been making for the past few years: Antifa isn't so much made up of anti-fascists; it's made up of people who think the wrong fascists are in charge.

Linda Fox said...

Amazingly, I never saw that video before. Actually, I'm not a music-y type of person, so I doubt I could identify the song without a memory prod.

But, as I was watching it, I suddenly realized where the AntiFa are getting their ideas about Revolution.

Pink Floyd.

They really do see themselves as those children, And, that their cause will prevent a horror such as the sausage-making at the end.