David Brooks has an interesting article in today’s Times, “The Strange Failure of the Educated Elite.”
It’s actually the failure of our parents to inculcate all of us in the ethical norms of sociability and the civic virtues that follow from that.
In pursuing a society of meritocracy, we glorified a hyper-individualistic career-achievement ethic, to the detriment of a wider conception of human meaning and purpose. My own comparison for this would be George H.W. Bush—the epitome of heroic civic virtue, with George W. Bush—his wayward son. Narcissism glories over sacrifice and harmony.
The result, Brooks argues, is Donald Trump!
Well, that’s perhaps a stretch, but it’s an interesting argument, and points are compelling:
“If you base a society on a conception of self that is about achievement, not character, you will wind up with a society that is demoralized; that puts little emphasis on the sorts of moral systems that create harmony within people, harmony between people and harmony between people and their ultimate purpose.”
“Those dimwitted, stuck up blue bloods in the old establishment had something we meritocrats lack — a civic consciousness, a sense that we live life embedded in community and nation, that we owe a debt to community and nation and that the essence of the admirable life is community before self.”