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First Principles

False Crucibles

Every American generation has been tested and tempered by crises. But this generation is different—and we should be worried.


- August 28th, 2019
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Every generation in modern American and, indeed, Western history has had its crucibles. We’ve had the Great War, the Depression, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, and various economic crises and foreign policy challenges. There always have been existential threats to our society requiring maximum exertion.

Through that hardening effort and the concurrent sacrifice, such effort requires, many generations have risen to the occasion. They have gone through their own bloodletting, their own walk through fire, to ensure their survival and the success of our nation and people. In this way, the inner steel of generations of young Americans was tempered.

But not so much for this one.

Pop Culture Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Through a combination of great material affluence and relative economic and military superiority, the young of today did not have to face the life-and-death struggles endured by their recent ancestors.

Given that, there is  a profound narcissistic boredom and we are living with the resulting intellectual lethargy. They have searched for and found the false crucibles of cultural nihilism, political animism, and masochistic socialism.

A sizable number of this generation does not want to grow up, does not wish to mature. It is natural that they would embrace the childish cultural and political norms more usually associated with angst-filled college sophomores.

They engage in a deep conformity to these ersatz deities, startlingly afraid to dig deeper and past the leftist indoctrination of the recent past, lest they arrive at a philosophical or political location that would make them unpopular among their peers and with their institutional leftist superiors. Few have the courage to be an outlier in relation to a popular culture that demands fealty as the price for being considered au courant.

Though these predominantly twentysomethings have come to consider themselves rebels against a supposed white male oligarchy, they parrot the same tired dried out nihilistic clichés and irrational platitudes made intellectually stylish by white males themselves only a couple generations prior. They are offering nothing but warmed-over 1960s schtick.

For a timeline comparison, it would be akin to F. Scott Fitzgerald or Hemingway thinking they were on the cutting edge of culture by obsessing on a U.S. Civil War-era ideologue, say Bernie Sanders as today’s Jefferson Davis, and pronouncing his rebellious ideas the height of fashion.

Enduring Adolescent Tropes

The real rebels are not those kids who play up to the cacophonous choir of Bolshie pseudo-elite opinion prevalent in our society. These wannabe rebels are little more than lap dogs for the status quo; no iconoclast points for them!

The young who deserve that insurrectionist moniker are the kinds of kids who would wear a MAGA cap to an Ivy League gender studies class; the ones who want to stir the pot and inspire real conversations and thinking.

We have seen the culture shaken by this false crucible phenomenon, as those who have little life experience and have been overly cosseted in the playpen of non-traditional parenting our effete society now perpetuates, somehow think their old new broom will sweep the world clean. Granted, every young generation is prone to this idiocy. I was a Randian in my youth. (Shudder.) Like many sentient adults, however, I grew out of the propensity for flights of fancy.

But what we are seeing today, especially in youngish politicians of the Beto and Buttigieg variety, is the tendency to hold on to the adolescent leftist tropes that brought joy to the hearts of their sociology professors. Champions of these ideas are not revolutionaries. They are brown-nosers.

A sizable number of this generation (with seemingly more to come given their propensity for elongated parental housing support) does not want to grow up, does not wish to mature. It is natural, then, that they would embrace the childish cultural and political norms more usually associated with angst-filled college sophomores.

There is more than a bit of the whiff of Daniel Bell’s The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (best summed up with the aphorism “The first generation makes the money, the second generation spends the money, the third generation majors in art history”) in this situation. The strength derived through noble struggle seems to be missing in their makeup.

Abandoning Their Birthright in a Vain Worship of False Idols

This also leads to their love affair with dirt.

Trendy environmentalism has been around since Rachel Carson, she who condemned millions in the Third World to starvation, and Paul Ehrlich, a guy whose Chicken Little predictions have been wrong so many times over the last 50 years that he himself won’t even admit to them anymore. All this before we even have to mention our last bringer of the mistaken apocalypse, Al Gore. In fact, it is surprising that I can write this and that you can read it, given that by the lights of Gore’s crystal ball, we either should be drowning in rising sea levels (first iteration of the con, global warming) or beset by monster freak storms of hemispheric totality (subsequent con when the first one came a cropper).

This profitable (for them) watermelon communist ideology has gone down well with the slow-witted hordes of a gullible generation looking for something, really anything, to believe in tandem with the Kardashians and video games. Forgotten is mankind’s long hike from the trees to the skyscrapers. Ignored are the cultural sophistication and sublime beauty of civilization seen in the Pan Am building and Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” They are replaced with an animistic political worship of trees, rocks, and various natural phenomena. Mankind is a bacillus that has raped nature, or so it goes. That the rapey bacterium also paid their tuitions and still foots their credit card bills seems to escape their notice.

This plethora of symptoms leads to their self-diagnosis. It is a course of action that defies empirical analysis and is so intrinsically masochistic it can only be explained by a tendency towards delusion, eschewing rational thought. And that is socialism, a failed utopia supported by more than 50 percent of the under-40 set.

As a reader of American Greatness, you’re likely already familiar with socialism’s greatest hits like the gulag, the Cultural Revolution, the Cambodian killing fields, and the laogai/laojiao. Thus, I won’t belabor the record. That an American politician like Bernie Sanders willingly and enthusiastically could embrace such a system and not be shunned should seem anathema to any cogent adult who has the slightest knowledge of history.

Herd Instinct Overtakes Historical Curiosity

Are there no younger people who can tear themselves away from an online game to really think about it? Ah, but there’s the rub.

The record has been wiped clean by leftist academics to showcase and exaggerate the faults of the West and airbrush out of the record. Much like The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, any pesky little comments regarding the murder of hundreds of millions of innocent people and the impoverishment of many more across the globe are wiped clean.

Hence thinking there are only enemies on the right, political toddlers without much sense of historical curiosity, but with an advanced sense of the herd instinct, gobble what self-hating pablum they are fed and ask for second helpings.

This fuels their contempt for the West and their white guilt; drives many nonwhites into resentment and bitterness; propels them toward their children’s crusade of misguided goals like socialism. That socialism’s bête noires, the free market and free societies, enable them to lotus gaze these questions at leisure without standing in soup lines or storming a foreign beach with a pack and rifle attached is a fact that has not yet permeated their bubble.

It is likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future as false crucibles masquerade as rebellion, co-opting those without the life experience to know better.

If only they’d pick up a history book not written by a leftist automaton. But nah, there’s always something better to do on Instagram.

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