Friday, March 10, 2006

The Adolescent Rebellion Syndrome

AnalPhilosopher makes a good point in "Childishness on Campus":
Academics are in a state of arrested emotional development. They have no real-world responsibilities, so they can—and do—revert to childishness. Their students, who are in adolescent rebellion against their parents and other authority figures, are all too happy to emulate them. They absorb the jargon, the modes of thought and feeling, and the attitudes of disrespectfulness and incivility. These students are in for a rude awakening when they enter the working world, where seriousness, respectfulness, discipline, and civility are not just encouraged but required.
In fact, he echoes my thoughts about adolescent rebellion and other forms of intellectual immaturity, which are to be found mainly -- but not exclusively -- among "artists," academicians, and the Left generally:
The truth is that in art -- as in "serious" music -- the best work that could be done had been done by about 1900. That left Picasso, Braque, and their ilk -- like Schoenberg, Berg, and their ilk -- with two options: Create new works using the tools that had been perfected by the masters who came before them, or disown the tools in a fit of adolescent rebellion. The artists and "serious" composers of the 20th century, in the main, took the second option. (07/24/04)

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If you can't defend Clinton on his own merits, make up an absolutely silly reason to discredit his opponents [as Paul Fussell does:]
"Conservatives know that I cannot be trusted... I hate them in general, I grew up in that atmosphere, my father was a corporate lawyer and always voted Republican -- that's one reason I decided not to. It's a standard boy's reaction. If your father's a dentist you either become a dentist or you ridicule dentists for the rest of your life."
At least he admits that his liberalism arose from adolescent rebelliousness, which I have contended is a primary source of liberalism. (08/04/04)

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There's surprisingly little chatter in the libertarian-conservative segment of the blogosphere about this:
About 70% of voters agreed to add this sentence to the Missouri Constitution: "To be valid and recognized in this state, a marriage shall exist only between a man and a woman."
. . . Stanley Kurtz at The Corner adds this:
Apparently, ...Democrats outnumbered Republicans at the polls. That makes the already dramatic 71 percent vote in favor of the Missouri marriage amendment all the more impressive. The Post-Dispatch also notes that gay marriage advocates outspent opponents, and launched a major television ad campaign to boot....
In a post that predates the Missouri vote, the usually sensible Virginia Postrel opines that:
People support abortion rights out of fear. They support gay marriage out of love.
A lot of "people" support abortion rights and gay marriage simply because it's the politically correct thing to do -- a litmus test of one's open-mindedness and liberality -- and a form of delayed adolescent rebellion against moldy reactionaries and religious fundamentalists. (08/04/04)

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It's obvious that Osama favors a Kerry victory. Why else would he go to such lengths to try to discredit Bush and remind American voters that the "choice" is ours?

Does that equate Osama and the American left? It would by the left's vilely strident, anti-war, anti-Bush rhetoric. But I won't stoop to the left's level of illogic. I'll say only that some on the left sympathize with Osama's ends and means because they're essentially acting out a form of adolescent rebellion. (10/30/04)

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[A]lthough Ward Churchill and his ilk are despicable human beings, I don't care what they say as much as I care that they represent what seems to pass for "thought" in large segments of the academic community. Clearly, universities are failing in their responsibility to uphold academic standards. Left-wing blather isn't knowledge, it's prejudice and hate and adolescent rebellion, all wrapped up in a slimy package of academic pretentiousness. (02/28/05)

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The Left will bitterly oppose any nominee for the Supreme Court if the Left finds in that nominee a scintilla of opposition to legal abortion.

What I want to know is why that issue is of such great importance to the Left. What is it about abortion (or the "right" to have one) that seizes the passions of the Left? Is it the notion of self-ownership, that is, the "right" to do with "one's body" as one will? If the Left were consistent about self-ownership it wouldn't also encourage government to take money from others in order to provide "free" programs, ranging from health care to bike trails.

The Left's selective embrace of self-ownership indicates that its elevation of abortion to sacramental status has deeper, more psychological roots. The Left is in an arrested state of adolescent rebellion: "Daddy" doesn't want me to smoke, so I'm going to smoke; "Daddy" doesn't want me to drink, so I'm going to drink; "Daddy" doesn't want me to have sex, so I'm going to have sex. But, regardless of my behavior, I expect "Daddy" to give me an allowance, and birthday presents, and cell phones, and so on.

"Daddy," in the case of abortion, is government, which had banned abortion in many places. If it's banned, the Left wants it. But the Left -- like an adolescent -- also expects government to cough up money (others' money, of course) to quench its material desires.

Persons of the Left simply are simply unthinking, selfish adolescents who want what they want, regardless of the consequences for others. The Left's stance on abortion should be viewed as just one more adolescent tantrum in a vast repertoire of tantrums. (07/21/05)

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The effort to portray conservativism as an aberrant psychological disorder goes back to the publication in 1950 of The Authoritarian Personality, about which I was instructed by Prof. Milton Rokeach, author of The Open and Closed Mind (related links). Here is how Alan Wolfe, who is sympathetic to the thesis of The Authoritarian Personality, describes its principal author:
Theodor Adorno, the senior author, was a member of the influential Frankfurt school of "critical theory," a Marxist-inspired effort to diagnose the cultural deformities of late capitalism.
Hmm. . . . Very interesting. . . .

How does Rokeach's work relate to Adorno's? Here's Rokeach, in his own words:
The Open and Closed Mind grew out of my need to better understand and thus to better resist continuing pressures during my earlier years on my intellectual independence, on the one side from orthodox religion and on the other side from orthodox Marxism-Leninism.
Research as a continuation of adolescent rebellion? Hmm. . . . I wonder what Dr. Freud would make of that? (02/01/06)

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The point is that liberty and happiness cannot be found in the abstract; they must be found in the real world, among real people (or totally apart from them, if you're inclined to reclusiveness). Finding an acceptable degree of liberty and happiness in the real world means contending with many subsets of humankind, each with different sets of social norms. It is unlikely that any of those sets of social norms affords perfect liberty for any one person. So, in the end, one picks the place that suits one best, imperfect as it may be, and makes the most of it. . . .

[But t]here is a kind of pseudo-anarcho-libertarian who asserts that he can pick and choose his associates, so that his interactions with others need consist only of voluntary transactions. Very few people can do that, and to the extent they can do it, they are able to do it because they live in a polity that is made orderly by the existence of the state (like it or not). In other words, anarcho-libertarian attitudes are bought on the cheap, at the expense of one's fellow citizens. (03/02/06)
Yes, radical libertarians tend to be just as jejune as their counterparts on the Left.