David Brooks is a disillusioned conservative. In his book, The Second Mountain, he writes:
“I have become radicalized … I now think the rampant individualism of our current culture is a catastrophe. The whole cultural paradigm has to shift from the mindset of hyper-individualism to the relational mindset.”
For fifty years, we have been living with the hyper individualism preached by Ayn Rand and Neo-liberals. That Randian Dream has crept into all our political parties. Glen Pearson writes, that it has left in its wake a lunar landscape of cynicism:
The disillusionment of the politically inclined roughly reflects what the average citizen with little party loyalty has felt for years. The pervasive affiliation between capitalism and democracy, between privilege and power, partisanship and pandering, has, Brooks believes, removed political power from responsibility and, ultimately, effectiveness: “We have become too cognitive when we should be more emotional; too utilitarian when we should be using a moral lens; too individualistic when we should be more communal.”
In so easily abandoning our institutions, we forgot that through them we learned and practiced our responsibilities towards one another. They were how we discovered one another and drew strength in a world that could easily be alienating. For all their flaws, they reminded us of our accountability to things beyond merely our own persuasions. South of the border, in the world where Brooks is attempting to navigate his doubts, we are witnessing what happens when raw power defies law, the public good, the institutions of democracy, global responsibility, and ultimately the welfare of the people themselves. It’s an abandonment that manifested itself in both parties through recent decades of power but has now reached its ultimate betrayal of collective responsibility to each other. It’s what comes about with the privatization of public accountability.
We yearn for public accountability. But that disappeared in the fog of 19th Century economics -- which were reborn fifty years ago. Some resurrections shouldn't be celebrated.
Image: Slide Serve