Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The March Toward Realism

Over at RealClearPolitics.com David Paul Kuhn has a piece analyzing the cynical turn of the nation's youth toward politics.  (I say "analyzing" as I find his tone just short of lamenting.  You decide.)  The source of  their cynicism?  Dashed idealism, in particular the frustration of the idealistic spirit they brought to the campaign and presidency of Barack Obama.  I don't think he's quite right about this.

First of all, insofar as he is correct, the seeds of that cynicism were first sown, and have been carefully cultivated ever since, by the Left.  At least since the 1950s, when it began to take hold in popular culture, think the Beat Generation and "Catcher in the Rye", and especially since the 1960s, recall "Don't trust anyone over thirty", when it became aggressive, the Left has inculcated this "hermeneutic of suspicion", the notion that nothing, no idea, no institution, is ever as it appears.  Among those who fathered this abiding contemporary cynicism we should include, of course, the usual suspects of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud.

Moreover, again, insofar as Kuhn is correct, liberalism has always carried with it a sure dose of cynicism along with its idealistic prescriptions.  Why?  Because it over-promises.  Liberalism intends to remake the world and it always fails in that enterprise because man, alone, is simply not up to the task.  He is, let us say, ill-equipped.  Think "original sin".

Nevertheless, as I say, I believe Kuhn misses the mark.  Cynicism in the young, especially the young of America, is for the most part simply a pose, a way to look "cool".  But needing to look cool will be for most of them, as it was for most of us who are a little longer in the tooth, a passing phase, a passage to maturity.

As I've said before, I believe, I hope, we, as a nation, are in the midst of a Great Reckoning.  As such, we all, young and old alike, are marching not toward an ultimately useless cynicism, but rather toward a refreshing and liberating realism.  The bill has finally come due.  I don't like having to pay it any more than you do.  But when I do, I feel good.  I feel like a grown man.  Really.

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