Into the Shallows, aka World Update

The U.S. Congress has passed, and President Biden has signed into law, The Inflation Reduction Act. This law will bring sweeping changes to the United States economy and society, and, indirectly, to the world. None of those changes will be in any way related to inflation per se, let alone to reducing it. So why, the innocent child might reasonably ask, is it called The Inflation Reduction Act? The better to fit you to your chains with, my dear.

To state this more directly, since today’s innocent child is unlikely even to recognize the reference in that last sentence, let us say that if they called this law The Economic Enslavement and Entrenchment of Perpetual Federal Limitations on Every Citizen’s Control of His Property and Private Choices Act, people might be annoyed by the fact that the name did not seem to be addressing the immediate crisis of runaway inflation, whereas with this simple and pithy name, The Inflation Reduction Act, the U.S. government may rest assured that everyone will go to sleep secure in the knowledge that the State has tucked him in so well that he hardly has to think at all, let alone worry about anything.

Every day, it seems, I meet a headline informing me that marriage and “the traditional family” are no longer necessary, and should no longer be “privileged” by society. From a progressive point of view, of course, this is very logical. For the single most recalcitrant social obstacle blocking the drain of totalitarian reform is the family, being the individual human being’s first and most natural buffer against complete absorption into the machinery of the political collective, i.e., the state, which absorption, of course, is the very essence of totalitarianism. John Dewey, the greatest intellectual force of democratic tyranny, made this case explicitly and with perfect reasonableness over the course of his long and storied academic career, in the guise of his theory of education — understandably much admired by the Soviets and the communist Chinese, and absolutely dominant throughout the advanced world today.

I will not bother with relevant citations — I have already done that to death, to no effect — since no one reads philosophy anymore, and Dewey does not have a podcast or a YouTube channel. In any case, why read his ideas, when we are living them?

But the ultimate aim, revealing the specific reason the family is so repugnant to progressives, is to debunk and dismantle the natural capacity for love and devotion. For these passions, rather than any particular social structure arising from them, are the real threat to the forces of political submission and conformity. Love in the proper, non-pop-song sense, the feeling of unbreakable attachment beyond all practical considerations, immediate gratifications, or social duties, “in good times and in bad,” is precisely the single greatest threat to tyrannical authority, trumping all calls to obedience and obliterating all attempts by authoritarians to induce self-interested fear and exploit men’s material desire for self-preservation. 

Over the past few years, I have spent a few minutes here and there, whenever I can work up the energy for a little self-abuse, sampling (and I mean ever so lightly) some of today’s celebrity thinkers: the self-help psychology scolds, the acid trip meditation gurus, the physics and cosmology popularizers, the comics-cum-preachers, and the rest of the internet-age intellectuals. Salesmen and attention-seekers, nothing more, whatever a few of them may have been at some earlier stage of life. Take away the cash registers, and their microphones would all fall silent tomorrow. They are thriving parasitically off the general public distrust of modern universities, much as Donald Trump cynically exploited the general loss of faith in the Washington political elite. And like Trump, the pop star demagogue, these pop star intellectuals are living proof of one of the oldest and most annoying grade school bromides: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

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