What’s Ailin’ the Moderns

David Lewis Stokes gave some consideration to the work of sociologist Philip Rieff, who died in 2006. Not being familiar with Rieff’s work, I can’t say how much Stokes has added or subtracted, but this strikes me as profoundly insightful:

In antiquity the ideal of what it was to be truly human was to become either hero or sage. In the Middle Ages it was to become a saint. In our own time the best we can hope to become is — well-adjusted. But without the backdrop of a sacred order and in a culture predicated on gratification, self-fulfillment and well-adjustment remain malleable terms, in constant need of redefinition. …
… The nature of our therapeutic climate is such that instead of reaching an ideological dead end, it simply reinvents itself to explain why its dead end is not a dead-end at all. Simply put, therapeutic technique has become an ever-expanding maze without a center.

Progressives see it as an ever-expanding definition of liberty (somehow always entailing more pervasive power for government agents). I see it as a back-filling prevarication, forever redefining consequences and detriments as simply the next order of complications to be resolved. Only our unprecedented technological and economic advancement, over the past few centuries, has allowed this illusion to obtain, and that advancement has been built on the very cultural foundations that progressives seek to disassemble.

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Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Wrong again, Justin.
Progressives are not scared of their own greatness. The internet based world of today allows each of us to become vastly more of a saint, a linchpin (read the book) or a sage than ever before.
The end of the industrial era does the same. It is no longer the ideal to be a cog in the great game of the corporate model – that is why so many jobs have been lost!
Rather, we each are now…finally…allowed to prosper FROM OUR IDEAS AND Innovations more than ever before.
It is fitting that we should revisit the entire idea of public ed and all these other things, since they were created for a time when you had to either be a worker or a manager or a farmer.
All in all, these are great changes – I must assume you are not an optimist if you hold dear the model of 1,000 people working on the line to make one other man great.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“Progressives see it as an ever-expanding definition of liberty (somehow always entailing more pervasive power for government agents). I see it as a back-filling prevarication, forever redefining consequences and detriments as simply the next order of complications to be resolved.”
They move from industry to industry, slowly destroying each one with new regulations and taxes in the name of fairness, then advocating for government takeover when the industry becomes dominated by an uncompetitive, oppressive oligopoly with lobbying power and the resources to comply. Look at what happened with the insurance industry.
Progressives see passing new laws the same way that the old lady who swallowed the fly saw swallowing the spider.
We all know how the song ends.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Uh, danny boy….
So Steve Jobs and the google dudes and all the other progressives who started industries were just drive-by shooters of our economics?
Wrong! Fact is that smart people – progressive almost by definition (or at least Liberal), are responsible for much of the stuff you use every day.
Heck, Henry Ford was a progressive who got all the other business guys mad at him when he voluntarily paid his workers double ($5 a day at the time) what others did. He was also anti-war big time, and took place in a world wide protest.
I understand how it can get quite lonely looking for real heroes on the right – still, making up your own stories and history won’t do it.
Many of the same elite and educated folks you righties like to malign are responsible for much of the computer revolution we all enjoy today. After all, conservative thinkers cannot be good programmers! You have to think outside the box, not backwards, to innovate.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

The above comment is a good example of why I have stopped responding to Stuart. That was, by far, the most incoherent rant I have read in a long time.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

The claim that Henry Ford was a “Progressive” is laughable on its face to anyone who has read his biography. Stuart is obviously ignorant of any real history and only knows what he reads on TPM, Kos and HuffPo.
Ford knew that paying his employees a middle-class wage was the secret to selling his cars by the hundreds of thousands and making more money than his competitors dreamed of.
It was extremely encouraging to see today’s Ford refuse to bow down to the .gov and deal with its issues independently. Ford has reaped much benefit from that decision as awakened Americans appreciate the company’s patriotic spirit. If I ever need another car, Ford will be the first place I look.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

Ford paid the folks that much so the workers would be happier – if I am not wrong, that is a progressive policy! All the other detroit capitalists and bankers were very angry with him for doing so…..that in itself shows you that he was progressive.
In todays world where employees are dumped out like trash, that is something to look back on.
Oh, and I have read many a Ford bio and history book. As you well know, his anti-war fervor had him organize a Peace Ship with anti-war protestors that went to Europe and elsewhere trying to stop the war.
That is progressive.
He advocated for Utopias and even started one – he imagined cars being sustainable and made out of soybean plastics grown locally.
Surely you know about this stuff?

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“They move from industry to industry, slowly destroying each one with new regulations and taxes in the name of fairness
And that is the scariest aspect to all of this. How can you say no to “fair”? There is nothing that cannot be implemented in the name, to advance the goal of “fairness”.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Yes, Stuart, you poor misinformed child, you are wrong. You are misapplying the term “Progressive” because you want to associate it with something positive.
A modern example of what seems “Progressive” but is actually just good business is Costco. Costco’s wage scale is significantly higher than those of its main competitors. But that translates into employee motivation and low turnover that generate very high productivity.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

I agree Costco is progressive in that manner….so we agree!
But most of the country does not work that way and many of the righties here seem to be championing for replacing every skilled and highly paid worker with whoever will do the job for LESS.
That is Wal-Mart and most everyone else…..heck, your local bank probably pays tellers about what burger flippers make.
This is the race to the bottom, which is a result of misguided policies of the last 30+ years.
We forget that PEOPLE come first, and all that other stuff (industry and commerce) is for the happiness of the people, not for it’s own warped goals of growth by any means.
BTW< Apple and Google also pay way more than Silicon Valley competitors. They also welcome gay folks and diversity of every sort. They are winning with these progressive and liberal values. The future belongs to the innovators.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

No, Stuart [snip]. My point was precisely that there is no connection between your precious “Progressivism” and Costco’s, or Ford’s, business policies. So no, we do not agree and your attempt to state so is a self-congratulatory lie.
If you think you have a better way of doing business, why don’t you get out there and out-compete Wal-Mart or those cruel banks or burger houses you hate so much? Sounds like a good way to get rich.
If you think people come first, then can I presume that you believe that individual rights are paramount and any interference with those rights by government is tyranny? Or by the “the people” do you mean some subgroup of the population that has more rights than others? On what basis do you claim that those people have more rights than other people?
Can you tell me who creates industry and commerce?
Can you write anything that isn’t a snarky insult for a change?

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

>> individual rights are paramount and any interference with those rights by government is tyranny
——————–
Close, but no cigar.
Human rights are paramount, but interference by government might be just a mistake with good intentions, tyranny or anything in between.
Your black and white thinking is far away from how the world works. Government, especially in America, is a great and ongoing experiment which will never end. Mistakes are made, adjustments are made, and hopefully we progress.
Most government policies have some method behind the madness. Anything can be micromanaged by the likes of you – I could pull apart just about any largess of Government and show how it favors one class or another.
As Human Beings we are capable of very complex thought as well as decent memory. This entails thinking and action which go well past the talking points of the day.
I feel more free than most times in my life. I think the same could be said of many minorities, and creeds (gay folks, etc.).
The government has mostly left the bedroom and is not in the process of leaving our heads along (legal marijuana, etc.). These are improvements, yet you seem to see some diabolical tyrant behind all these movements.
You do have it right that Bush and his admin were headed quickly back into the tyranny thing – but hopefully we got rid of them and won’t soon forget.

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