Friday, July 31, 2009

Postmodern Elites and Premodern Masses

This lapidary observation from Victor Davis Hanson:
"Our cynical intellectual elites are becoming ever more postmodern even as the undereducated majority becomes premodern."
A recipe for catastrophe.

Source: here.


Mike O'Malley said...

So Gil Bailie reads Victor Davis Hanson! Such good fortune! … for us!

Say Gil:

Dr. Hanson has written on occasion about the Western way of war and the Western mind and violence. I’ll have to find some time one day to mine Hanson’s essays for a few choice quotes to ask you about.

Mike O'Malley said...

Thank you for the link Gil. Dr. Hanson’s thought under the subcaption Our own Ravenna brought me to reflect. For century after century, in university after university, in parish school after parish school, day by day in homily after homily, The Church engaged in long public works project. The fruits of that project created a bounty of human capital from which we derive the benefits of the modern world. One of the benefiting institutions fostered by The Church is what we today call “Traditional Marriage” which has provided an untold cornucopia of human capital, personal and social well being.

The institution of marriage in America has been under Gramscian assault for well over a half a century, but I think you focus rightly upon the American population control movement. It motives were mixed. There was the desire to control population growth which the white Ivy League elite, the generation and social class to which Robert McNamara aspired, found threatening and upon which it affixed blamed in part for the devastation of WWII. The population control movement also sought to promote the reduction of the population growth of “non-white” racial groups. At that time “non-white” was a term that was by used to encompass Jews and Italians in addition to African Americans and others. This hidden dark side of the population control movement peered out for a moment in a recent interview of Justice Ginzberg about Wade vs. Roe. Yes genocidal racism had its part in the origins of the population control movement. The elite powerful wealthy “white” males who financed the population control movement in America had the additional motive of getting out of their marriages and into the marriages of other less powerful men at a far lower cost than was often extracted in Victoria England and “Victorian America”.

What strike me about Hanson’s piece are the “externalities that the population control movement imposed upon American society. For example, in 2005 the United States used 100 quadrillion BTUs (105 exajoules, or 29000 TWh) of energy. One peered review study I’m acquainted with estimates that the breakdown of the American family from the 1960s to today adds 15% to the total energy consumption, or around 15 quadrillion BTUs. Approximately 30% of America’s energy consumption is supplied by imported fuel, petroleum, most of that from Mexico and Canada. Lesser amount are imported from the Middle East and Venezuela.
From these rough calculations, we find that the breakdown of the American family, fostered by the American population control movement, doubles America’s energy imports. So we can see concretely how much of America’s wealth is being wasted on the “social frictions” caused the breakdown of the traditional family. That 15% of energy waste would also account for all of America’s petroleum imports from the Middle East and Venezuela and much of America’s ongoing balance of trade problems.