“Then, after Vietnam, an ethos of exposure swept the culture. The assumption among many journalists was that the establishment may seem upstanding, but there is a secret corruption deep down. It became the task of journalism to expose the underbelly of public life, to hunt for impurity, assuming that the dark hidden lives of public officials were more important than the official performances.”
The personal is political? A culture of spectacle?
I’ll take serious liberties here: Perhaps there’s a broader theory in the piece, which contains important truths : The 1960’s was a period of cultural excess and an excessive pursuit of freedom, without sufficient responsibility. The excessive individualism (bordering on narcissism) of the boomer generation has left a serious impression. Upon this period of excess, we have been culturally replacing deeper religious traditions which maintained a more shrewd, realistic general opinion of public life…with a shallower, more idealistic (more European left?) set of ideas. At the very least, this idealism ignores the duties maintained by the public for its public officials in the old setup.
Incidentally, this is why I deeply mistrust progressivism; behind the idealism and very occasional moral high ground are the same old desires to have one’s ideas triumph in policy and government. Often this means to centralize power and threaten personal liberty. I don’t see sufficient checks upon those desires, at the moment.
If it is a spectacle, don’t we all bear responsibility despite the blame?
Of course, there’s also new technology. Use at your own peril:
“Then came cable, the Internet, and the profusion of media sources. Now you have outlets, shows and Web sites whose only real interest is the kvetching and inside baseball.”
Brooks ties this in to Stanley McChrystal, who acted pretty recklessly:
“By putting the kvetching in the magazine, the reporter essentially took run-of-the-mill complaining and turned it into a direct challenge to presidential authority. He took a successful general and made it impossible for President Obama to retain him.”
Are you convinced?
I’m not sure Charles Murray has convinced me, but he is a loyal contrarian: Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People…and maybe you should still go to college if you can: Repost-Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?