Articles

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Where Is All That White Liberal Anger Coming From?

It's a bit of a paradox, but in politics it's hard not to notice that the angriest people are not small town folk "clinging" to guns and religion or racial minorities in the inner cities, but upper middle class white liberals.

These are some of the same people who will often talk about the anger of inner city blacks or Muslims abroad, or the working class people... but rarely if ever do they talk about their own anger. Yet it's their anger, their barely suppressed simmering rage that is driving our political process.

From the black ski cap wearing protesters hurling bags of cement at both conventions, the Code Pink women hoping for Cindy Sheehan sized stardom, the upper middle class authors and directors who flirt in fiction with the idea of assassinating Bush to your average DailyKos diarist, the white middle class liberal of both genders is vastly overrepresented when it comes to furious political tantrums. But where then is all that anger coming from?

We are after all talking about people who aren't starving, who aren't oppressed, except occasionally in their own minds, and who live better than the other 99 percent of the globe. And yet paradoxically that may be exactly what drives their anger.

Prosperity without purpose breeds egotism, it gives rise to both the manchild who is the focus of so much of the east coast and west coast's popular culture, and his accompanying tantrums. The manchild is not driven by rational political discourse but by the eternal tantrum that his parents and society at large have indulged until now. Debate becomes surface, insults become the ultimate trump card and political commentary degenerates to the snideness of the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. Comedy after all is just anger with a mask on and the mask isn't much of a disguise anymore.

In the conventional liberal narrative anger is the product of deprivation, in reality anger is the product of entitlement. If political anger in this election is so much more clearly manifest among white middle class liberals, it's a natural product of both their immaturity and entitlement.

Naturally they find themselves drawn to the most radical elements at home and abroad who appear to mirror their own anger, and have the courage to not only express anger, but act on it. Generations of enabling and encouraging domestic and international radicalism, the anger of the entitled feeding the anger of the disenfranchised. That is the paradox of radicalism.

Marx and Lenin were just as much members of the upper middle class as Bill Ayers or many of the The Weathermen. For that matter Jeremiah Wright may not be white, but he was just as much a product of a comfortable upper middle class upbringing.

If anger is the product of entitlement meeting frustration, there is still one missing ingredient, projection. Someone must be to blame for generations of the entitled who find that despite everything they lack the ability to make themselves happy. And there is nothing so frustrating for an egotist as to realize that he cannot be happy, and that is when he must find someone else to blame.

The anger of the entitled isn't premised on any actual deprivation, but a free floating anger that settles on the socially accepted "Other", the Red Staters, the people who paradoxically seem to be happy despite having less money, less "culture" and less choices. Their "inferiors". How dare those people in their small towns actually decide elections against the will of the people in the Hamptons and Beverly Hills.

But behind all that political anger is a very personal anger, it is the anger of people who have tried very hard to learn how to be happy from the self-help section, from Prozac, from following trends and remain baffled that the more they talk about "following their dreams" and "doing their own thing", the less happy they actually are.

Their numb drive toward greater centralization, toward the UN or the EU, toward gathering by the tens of thousands to hear a messianic speaker preach to them about "hope" and "change" puts one in mind of Europeans battered by WW1 listening to the promise of a new era, one of Utopian socialist peace or Fascist national empires.

Yet this modern generation of prosperous Americans and Europeans, college educated, afflicted with the latest gadgets and trends have not seen a generation of their friends die in the trenches of the Somme. It is not horror that bedevils them, but the wrong life choices that their parents and themselves have made. Their Kaiser was Dr. Spock, their killing fields were a social revolution that robbed their lives of meaning, their education of context and their character development of self-control. Their ranks age anything from the teens to their sixties. Their problem is that they have had their own way for too long and that has only crippled them as surely as any poison gas ever did.

9/11 served as a wake up call to many, to put aside childish things and grow up. To others it only became a symbol of their bitterness at even having to consider growing up and they have channeled it into the 9/11 denial movement (and what after all is more childish than denial), into radical political defenses of terrorism and the minimization and mockery of the events of that day. Because the ultimate tantrum is to rage against the birth impulse, the drive that forces you toward adulthood, responsibility and commitment. And if you can't commit to being an adult, you can always embrace childish things, vandalism, anarchy, taunts, paranoia, unreason and anger. Anger after all is the best mark of the perpetual child, the crib toy and the tantrum rattle of arrested development.

And who better to symbolize that arrested development than a manchild, Barack Obama, a man whose biography is still rooted in his adolescent identity struggles, who speaks openly of his drug use, who panders shamelessly, delivers empty speeches and offers concerts, beer and circuses. The messianic figure of the infantile is always infantile himself, but a stage above on the ladder, allowing him to be worshiped for having made that smidgen of progress that his own audience is unable to make.

And what better trigger for those tantrums of anger than the adult rejection of that messiah to turn the self-entitled progressive liberal into the ugliest of brownshirts. As the adults depart the Democratic party, the manchildren remain trotting out their design schemes, partying beneath Styrofoam Greek columns and certain of their victory over adulthood, commitment and maturity. Over their nation.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Brilliant.

Lemon said...

Its parenting 101:
The anger comes from guilt and knowledge of being wrong.
They are children who rebel at adult authority, knowing full well they are in the wrong but not having mature control of their emotions and actions so they act out just to get their own way.

Keli Ata said...

Yep. They want their own way and don't want to be told no.

That and the fact that they have no real hardships that they personally or their relatives have overcome (slavery, the Holocaust, the Great Depression)--so they latch on to the hardships of others, in this case, blacks.

Of course Obama hardly represents an oppressed black in America. But G-d forbid these selfish little brats should show genuine support for genuinely oppressed people.

So they howl at any insult real or perceived at the upper middle class Obama, who is like them in terms of culture and immaturity but also carries the history of an oppressed people that liberals find so fascinating and always want to identify with.

No Apology said...

Spot on, SK. Two sayings come to mind:

1. be careful what you wish for (you just might get it)

2. When the gods want to punish us, they answer our prayers.

This liberal dream will run smack into the dream-catcher, called Death.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article, great analysis as usual

Greg RN said...

There is a greater evil at work today, and these adolescent Liberal minded agenda folks simply reflect that age old fallen man fleshyitis, they have not or will not humble themselves and admit that there is a God who manifested himself as human and there is indeed an answer. Thus they are stuck,selfish little tools driven by their emotions and feelings and used by the the "Father of Lies".
Erickson's theory applies as far as development goes,and the guilty silver spoon complex, a pity actually,but they keep looking for answers in all the wrong places.The great deciever is pretty busy these days because he knows he has but a short time.
Thanks for the engaging article Daniel.

Greg RN

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