MORAL NARCISSISM AND THE LEAST-GREAT GENERATION: Roger Simon has an excerpt of his new book, titled I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already, in the new issue of Commentary:
Whatever the case, the popularity of narcissism as a descriptive term for the behavior of our society is not a new phenomenon. As far back as 1979, Christopher Lasch published a now famous book The Culture of Narcissism that described the American behavioral patterns as largely narcissistic. According to Lasch, our family structure had produced a personality type consistent with “pathological narcissism.” We were constantly seeking attention from the outside world, making us a nation of insecure weaklings forever in search of validation to tell us we were alive, to give us a raison d’être. Lasch saw the radicals of the ’60s, like the Weather Underground, as manifestations of this pathology. He also cited the “personal growth” movements of the seventies—est, Rolfing, Hare Krishna, various forms of Buddhism, organic food, vegetarianism, and so forth. These belief systems and quasi ideologies continued to gain adherents during the ’80s and ’90s and on into the current century with writers like David Brooks and Charles Murray documenting how what was once youthful rebellion became the norms of the contemporary bourgeoisie. The Generation of ’68 and its followers had gone mainstream, transmogrifying radical symbols into specific forms of conspicuous consumption. Everything was smeared. A trip to Whole Foods in a Tesla became the equivalent of striking a blow against world hunger.
The election of Barack Obama was the apotheosis of this melding of lifestyle with political worldview. That he celebrated his victory in front of Grecian columns was symbolic in more ways than one. Narcissus was in the house—both on stage and in the audience. The “me” generation had found its perfect leader. Hope and change were never specified, because we all knew what he meant. How could it be otherwise? He was speaking, as was said in an earlier era, to “our crowd.” But our crowd had become everyone who saw himself as politically correct, even if we weren’t sure what that meant or implied. It sounded good. Whatever it was had to be true. Obama was cool and his adversaries were not. He was our image in the reflecting pool, preening in front of those Greek columns, nose slightly elevated.
When something obtains that much popular acceptance, one is tempted to think it is nonsense, mere cant, or at least overstated. Not true.
Read the whole thing; Roger’s new book will be available at Amazon and your local bookstore on June 14th. And if you’d like to meet Roger in person, he’ll be at Bullets & Bourbon in December in Texas, discussing his book in detail.