CLASS WARFARE  11:57 am January 27, 2009

David Brooks Explains Why We Should Honor The Sacred Rites And Rituals Of Our Crappy Jobs

by Sara K. Smith

Career assclownOh goodness we spent all day yesterday saluting Bill Kristol, who had to leave the New York Times because he was TOO PERFECT TO GO ON, without noticing a gem of a column by his fellow token conservative David Brooks. He wrote about the profound reverence with which we should approach our professions because they are sacred “institutions.” David Brooks comes from a magical time when people could have a single profession or employer for their entire working life, and might feel like their personal sense of self-worth was related to how well they did their jobs. (This was long before the invention of men’s room attendants, debt collectors, and fryolater de-greasers.)

This leads him to write silly things like this:

Faith in all institutions, including charities, has declined precipitously over the past generation, not only in the U.S. but around the world. Lack of institutional awareness has bred cynicism and undermined habits of behavior. Bankers, for example, used to have a code that made them a bit stodgy and which held them up for ridicule in movies like “Mary Poppins.” But the banker’s code has eroded, and the result was not liberation but self-destruction.

Dude, you are trying to blame the collapse of the global economy on bankers being less “stodgy”?

David Brooks writes like what he is, which is a career journalist who has tripped lightly from one cushy sinecure to another by virtue of connections he made in college. In other words, he has spent his entire life surrounded by august Institutions, and now thinks that everyone should honor the sacred rites and ethics of their professions when in fact most people just want to collect one last paycheck from whoever will give it to them. David Brooks sucks institutional balls.

What Life Asks of Us [New York Times]

 

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{ 92 comments }

actor212 January 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

TRANSLATION: Shut up and eat your soup, prole.

loudmouthredhead January 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

Someone should tell David that the serfs have also discovered literacy and no longer view the landed gentry with a mixture of awe and fear. Alas, Alack! Who will hoe the turnips?

Kaylub January 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

It may sound insane, but man, what if the reason for the collapse WAS a lack of stodginess? An injection of stodginess into the banking system would be a lot cheaper than an injection of moneys.

queeraselvis v 2.0 January 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

You had me at “sinecure.”

Larry McAwful January 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Chimney sweeps were also ridiculed in “Mary Poppins” for how much they used to sing and dance. Now they no longer do either, and just look at what it’s done to the profession.

gournay45@gmail.com January 27, 2009 at 12:06 pm

It’s tough to have a Protestant work ethic when you’re working three jobs and still can’t make the bills.

donner_froh January 27, 2009 at 12:06 pm

David Brooks writes like the last movie he saw was “Mary Poppins” in 1964 after which he was frozen in that all but perfect world.

magic titty January 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

$10 for anyone willing to de-grease my fry-o-later.

Oh yeah – David Brooks is a schmuck, etc.

loudmouthredhead January 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

[re=229417]donner_froh[/re]: Are you suggesting him and Disney are freezer-buddies?

Aurelio January 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

David Brooks obviously reveres the basic rules of his own profession as a whore, including (1) never reveal the name of a John, (2) always make your work product as sexy and sleazy as possible, and (3) above all, give good service to the richest clients.

Colander January 27, 2009 at 12:08 pm

I’m gonna email this article to my pimp. He’ll get a kick out of it.

Bjorn January 27, 2009 at 12:09 pm

If my job were to write columns while sucking on a pacifier, tucked in his blanky while watching Disney movies, I’d also appreciate instutions, like those that are magical kingdoms with merry go rounds and jolly cartoon characters.

Doglessliberal January 27, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Wow, I haven’t heard the “just pull up your bootstraps and work a little harder, little people” argument for a while. Nice to see some things never go out of style for white, conservative males who never have had to worry about paying the rent versus feeding the kids. Maybe his next column can be on trickle down, and how it works so well.

Mr Blifil January 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

I owe a lot to David Brooks. After his column about the Scooter Libby commutation, I got off my subway (it had stopped), threw my copy of the NYT into a trash bin, and made it back on the train before the doors closed. At that moment I decided to boycott the NY Times for life for having offended their readers so by printing Mr. Brooks’ tripe.

But this left me with a hole in my commute. What to read? I resolved to read some author I didn’t know well. I have now read the works of Dickens in chronological order from Pickwick Papers up to Dombey and Sons, which I am about to begin. This has edified me greatly as a reader and as a person. So Kudos to you David Brooks! May you likewise drive millions to devote themselves to reading the shit they should actually be reading instead of wasting time on your bilious self-serving twaddle, you dickless fool.

magic titty January 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

[re=229416]gournay45@gmail.com[/re]: Sounds like you’re a citizen of that ‘Nation of Whiners’.

Crazybroad January 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

[re=229411]loudmouthredhead[/re]: Hey look, the poor guy has to keep some aura of the landed gentry about him — that’s the only way to command top dollar for the BS he spouts, what with the serfs being able to do his job on the blogosphere and all.

P.S. Bwahahahahahaha!

obfuscator January 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

What a fucking asshole.

SayItWithWookies January 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

“…I try to keep a list of the people in public life I admire most. Invariably, the people who make that list have subjugated themselves to their profession, social function or institution.”

Well, Mr. Brooks — Islam does mean “submission.”

actor212 January 27, 2009 at 12:12 pm

[re=229411]loudmouthredhead[/re]: Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

loudmouthredhead January 27, 2009 at 12:14 pm

[re=229423]Bjorn[/re]: You forgot having his feet rubbed by an undocumented philippino dressed up like snow white.

MarieDeGournay January 27, 2009 at 12:16 pm

[re=229429]magic titty[/re]: It’s a mobile republic of drunken angry sexstarved liberals. Care to join?

Min January 27, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Can we blame Reaganomics and the incipient culture of greed for this decline in institutional faith? Please?

Scaggsvillain January 27, 2009 at 12:18 pm

“Dude, you are trying to blame the collapse of the global economy on bankers being less “stodgy”?”

Hell, yes, SKS! Lenders with no standards (and the lawmakers who enabled and looked the other way) started this mess!

Gorillionaire January 27, 2009 at 12:18 pm

[re=229427]Mr Blifil[/re]: Ditto except for me it was Oscar Wilde.

Delicious January 27, 2009 at 12:19 pm

David Brooks sucks institutional balls.

I’m putting that on David Brooks’ tombstone.

Mr Blifil January 27, 2009 at 12:21 pm

[re=229417]donner_froh[/re]: That is a bit condescending don’t you think? There’s no arguing that Dick Van Dyke as the bank president gives an incendiary performance detailing the ravages of greed, the perverse aims toward which wealth may be directed, and the hilarity of how old people with canes have trouble walking, particularly on steps, even if they only have to deal with three or four of them. I know his portrayal is burned into my brain as if it was yesterday. I will admit that his butchery of Cockney dialect should have earned him a private audience with the Krays wherein they might have cut off his dick with a butcher’s knife and stuffed it in his mouth while he bled to death.

And then he went on to play an English inventor in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Fuck.

lenorecutie January 27, 2009 at 12:21 pm

As crappy as his columns are, I do enjoy him on PBS. He is a much smaller Asshat then most of Republicans on the cable news shows.

Larry McAwful January 27, 2009 at 12:21 pm

My grandfather took pride in working at that steel mill for fifty years or so. Of course, he entered this country with forged documents supplied by whatever the Polish equivalent of a coyote was called, back before World War I. Those immigrants are a hard-working bunch. Especially the illegals, like Grampa. Conservatives never quite know how to talk about people like him, so they pretend they didn’t exist until all those Messcans started streaming across the Bravo del– er, across the Rio Grande.

NunnaTheSOBs January 27, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Back when I was trying to get through
college in TX, and worked summers in a foundry,
pouring molten magnesium, aluminum, and
bronze, while it was 98 degrees outside,
and 120 degrees inside the building, I
REALLY should have dedicated myself
to that “institution”, rather than cursing
the tax dodging bastard who hired all the
illegal mexicans who worked beside me.

If this fucking prick had EVER lifted
anything heavier than a double latte in
his phony fucking life, he might KNOW
why people don’t attach their self worth
to some fucking MacJob.

Mr Blifil January 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

[re=229431]obfuscator[/re]: I wish I had said that.

SayItWithWookies January 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

I believe the last historically significant time a manicured fey bottom in salmon lipstick exhorted the masses in this fashion, they tossed him and his wife into tumbrils and lopped off their heads in the public square. Not that I condone such activity.

Lascauxcaveman January 27, 2009 at 12:23 pm

My takeway? Brooks is still ticked off at Mr. Banks for being such a meanie. Give the kid his damn tuppence already! He wants to feed the damn birds. (Stimulate the bird food sector, too.)

Gorillionaire January 27, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Brooks is the kind of conservative that even Archie Bunker would love to punch in the face.

populucious January 27, 2009 at 12:24 pm

If the ‘publicans are basing their political philosophy on making the world just like Mary Poppins, I think we’ve discovered the source of their extreme failure.

Now I’m going to go to a pretty church square and feed some pigeons.

Oh, no, WAIT. I have a MEETING at my JOB. Dang.

Perrys Mollycoddler January 27, 2009 at 12:24 pm

All these comments just reinforce David’s argument that cynicism is bringing down the World. Or….maybe the crappy economy is just breeding cynicism. Or….maybe David is just a douche.

AxmxZ January 27, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Actually, guys, Brooks is kind of right. Read Michael Lewis’ book “Liar’s Poker” – it details precisely the time when this stodginess was eroding at top speed. The key here is the separation between investment and commercial banking since the late 1980s. That’s when the previously conservative and “stodgy” financial giants that used to make a good amount of money but not a CRAZY amount of money suddenly realized that they too can be wild irresponsible speculators making stock calls with a stop-watch.

Inadequate Blackmail January 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm

The only thing I know for certain is this: If there’s a problem, it’s Bill Clinton’s fault.

lenorecutie January 27, 2009 at 12:27 pm

[re=229450]SayItWithWookies[/re]: I was thinking about that last night when I heard that CitiBank spent $500 million bailout dollars on a new corporate jet. This is the kind of shit that made the French bust out the guillotine.

freakishlystrong January 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

What color is the sun where these assholes live? How can you really be that massivly out of touch?
Back to my Hobo beans in my “cube”….

V572625694 January 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm

I was gonna say he’s really complaining about how Jews have gotten into the boardroom, country club, bank presidencies, etc., but in a rare fit of diligence I learned through the magic of that wonderful institution Wikipedia that Brooks is Jewish. And Canadian!

One thing he isn’t is a “journalist” — that is, a reporter, somebody who goes out to the fire and asks the guy whose house burned down how it feels to have your house burn down. Odious as that sort of “journalism” may be, it at least entails more effort than sitting in your Aeron chair and whiffing funnies into keyboard, as Brooks does.

Or to put it another way: an op-ed columnist does not deserve the sobriquet “journalist,” unless he actually was one at some point.

Plus he talks like a pussy.

Terry January 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm

“Dude, you are trying to blame the collapse of the global economy on bankers being less “stodgy”?”

Worse, he blames the financial collapse on Mary Poppins.

Monsieur Grumpe January 27, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Hey everbody. Working 3 jobs, if you can find, is OhhhhhhhhhhKay! Just sing along with me…
Supercalifragbalisticupbrooksassalidocious!

donner_froh January 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm

[re=229432]SayItWithWookies[/re]: subjugated themselves to their social function?!!?

Make sure the hewers of wood and drawers of water don’t get ideas above themselves.

groove January 27, 2009 at 12:30 pm

Very well. I shall dedicate myself to stodginess by wearing a monocle, top hat, pocket watch, and spats to my job.

shortsshortsshorts January 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm

[re=229460]lenorecutie[/re]: What did you think the bailout was for? Honestly. These white men need their jets. Can you imagine what would happen if they did not have their jets? Or Feraris? Or 8 houses? Or helicopters?
Society would fail.

sati demise January 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm

[re=229416]gournay45@gmail.com[/re]: exactly. zing!!1!! mr. brooks.

[re=229456]AxmxZ[/re]: paging mr. gramm, phil gramm please pick up on line one.

Neon Trotsky January 27, 2009 at 12:32 pm

David Brooks comes from a magical time when people could have a single profession or employer for their entire working life, and might feel like their personal sense of self-worth was related to how well they did their jobs.

Or he’s from Japan! Yellow Peril will impose its model on America! Stage 1, the destruction of the U.S. auto industry is complete–watch for Stage 2…

Mr Blifil January 27, 2009 at 12:33 pm

[re=229451]Lascauxcaveman[/re]: Problem is: Yes, it was tuppence a bag…of HEROIN!

Mr Blifil January 27, 2009 at 12:34 pm

Personally I don’t see how David Brooks made it through the “Step In Time” number to get to the bank sequence. That’s always where my interest wanes. I will say that watching Julie Andrews pull out the music hall stylings in the animated section makes me tingle in the loins marvelling at her bangability.

Doglessliberal January 27, 2009 at 12:35 pm

[re=229465]donner_froh[/re]: you know, I think maybe he is advocating for Communism, now that I parse that sentence.

Kev-O-Tron January 27, 2009 at 12:36 pm

[re=229466]groove[/re]: Don’t forget the pipe and smoking jacket. Never forget the pipe. That’s what this recession bizness has taught me.

V572625694 January 27, 2009 at 12:38 pm

As if additional proof that Brooks is an idiot were needed:

http://select.nytimes.com/2006/08/10/opinion/10brooks.html?_r=2&oref=slogin

The McCain/Lieberman Party! Genius!

WadISay January 27, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Translation: David Brooks enjoys hearin’ your sweet singin’ in de ebnin.

donner_froh January 27, 2009 at 12:39 pm

[re=229456]AxmxZ[/re]: Great book. Life inside the cocaine fueled trading floor at Solly when Wall Street learned it could securitize home loans made by S&Ls and make big money selling them to the unwary.

Wow. We certainly learned a lot from that fiasco.

Hooray For Anything January 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I kinda wish they’d do a remake of “Trading Places” where Bill Kristol and David Brooks switch roles with say two people from inner city Baltimore (people like Dookie and Bodie from “the Wire”) and see just how well their belief in tax cuts, hard work, and the role of “institutions” hold up. In this version, however, Kristol gets shot in a drug gang related drive by and is sent to an inner-city hospital to recover from the gun shot wounds and Brooks can’t find any work anywhere so winds up having to be a corner boy and sell crack to rich white kids.

accidental_tourist January 27, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Hmm. Is Peggy Nooningtonshire single?

SayItWithWookies January 27, 2009 at 12:43 pm

[re=229456]AxmxZ[/re]: Yeah, but what kept bankers in line wasn’t so much their sense of honor or (as Brooks puts it) their subjugation and reverence for their walk of life. Rather, it was regulation and oversight. Don’t forget that in Liar’s Poker, Salomon Brothers lobbied hard to get Congress to legalize the types of securities they wanted to sell, which was the seed of the subprime mortgage debacle.
Unfortunately, in the laissez-faire capitalists’ ideal deregulated world, the only thing coming between them and looting their customers’ accounts is this mythological sense of honor and devotion to one’s cause. Why we everyday folks shouldn’t look askance at the Church of Finance when we’re the ones getting screwed by the corrupt and cynical people at its head, Brooks doesn’t care to explain.

Lemming Caution January 27, 2009 at 12:44 pm

[re=229456]AxmxZ[/re]: It’s a sad state of things where Brooks is probably making a true point, but not the one he thinks he’s making. The truth – greed, including the erosion of a sense of propriety and obligation (“stodginess”) amongst bankers, as exemplified during the Reagan years, did a lot to erode institutions. No longer was there *any* sense of obligation (what there was) by the superstructure to the base; everyone was interchangeable, and one’s personal financial success was far more important. Sucking what few “values” could be attributed to American capitalism in the mid-20th century, in terms of a good day’s pay for a good day’s work, and a promise that the job would be there when you came back the next day, destroyed the classic capitalist institutions down the road, but that didn’t matter.

The ideal barely existed in reality to begin with, but removing what few controls there once were in terms of regulation, externally, and a general sense of “how things work,” internally, threw it out the window. The only jobs left that promise security and a decently-paid retirement involve getting shot at and screwed over in other respects, from what I can tell.

(blah blah nonsensical old man ranting prunes. sigh.)

Mustang January 27, 2009 at 12:47 pm

[re=229456]AxmxZ[/re]: I know and also because Mary Poppins was disrespectful to Mr. Banks.

Red Zeppelin January 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm

The second I saw this steaming pile of loose-stooled ruminations, I knew it was destined for the Wonkette treatment. Good job Sara K!

Brooks hasn’t changed his style since he wrote for the Chicago Maroon–it was excusable for an undergraduate; now, not so much.

Mustang January 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm

And I’m still waiting for proof that Bill Kristol and David Brooks are not the same person, and no one has stepped forth, so I’m afraid I’ll have to say I’m right again.

donner_froh January 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm

[re=229473]Doglessliberal[/re]: He does come across more than a bit Pol Potish there.

BadKitty January 27, 2009 at 12:50 pm

[re=229448]NunnaTheSOBs[/re]: What you said.

Sussemilch January 27, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Right. Because the addition of more bureaucratic thought is exactly what we need to increase worker productivity.

psilage January 27, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Yes. This is some of the mystique of Kristol as well and many of the others. They earnestly play the parts of 50′s authority figures, upholders of institutions. They don’t frighten us by admitting to us that the truth is hard an has fuzzy edges. They make up simple truths and valiantly repeat, repeat, repeat. Bless ‘em.

BigBrainOnBrad January 27, 2009 at 1:10 pm

One of the institutions I hold in high esteem is that one they started back around 1792. You know, where they drag the rich priveleged people out into the town square and cut their heads off with a guillotine.

psilage January 27, 2009 at 1:11 pm

“Institutional-ball been bery bery good to mi.”

hobospacejungle January 27, 2009 at 1:16 pm

[re=229470]Neon Trotsky[/re]: “Yellow Peril will impose its model on America! Stage 1, the destruction of the U.S. auto industry is complete–watch for Stage 2…”

Stage 2: collect underpants

masterdebater January 27, 2009 at 1:28 pm

I know it’s a shallow sentiment, but I can’t help it…Look at the man’s picture. You would actually listen to this douche?

Capitol Hillbilly January 27, 2009 at 1:34 pm

if people had just respected the institution of slavery, we wouldn’t be having all these problems.

stopmebeforeitypeagain January 27, 2009 at 1:35 pm

[re=229432]SayItWithWookies[/re]: Hey, wait a minute. This john is talking about “subjugation”?

Like the kind where she puts on a black rubber corset, ties the guy in a chair, makes him lick the filthy soles of her shoes, and then pees on him?

Sorta like the Congressional GOP leadership?

Are we into allegorical porn here?

For this they fired Kristol and kept Brooks?

At long last, sir, has the NY Times no shame?

Tra January 27, 2009 at 1:37 pm

Brooks is right. We should approach our professions with a profound reverence, but not to the point of ever stooping to do actual work as opposed to making lots of shit up. Let’s not get crazy here.

Mr Blifil January 27, 2009 at 1:39 pm

[re=229486]Lemming Caution[/re]: Look, if you work behind the counter of a soda shop, at some point you will rationalize to yourself that it’s OK for you to make yourself a tall frosty sundae parfait with whip cream and cherry without having to pay for it. That’s how bankers eventually come to feel about money. It’s there, they are there, it’s a match made in heaven.

Dr. Weird January 27, 2009 at 1:41 pm

I apologize if anyone else already pointed this out, but:
Can anyone tell me what the fuck is up with DB’s ever-pink/magenta/lavender ties/shirts?! I mean- how am I supposed to take this guy seriously as a “conservative,” when he’s dressed like my preppy gay cousin?

actor212 January 27, 2009 at 1:57 pm

[re=229463]Terry[/re]: Hey, a spoonful of sugar here, spoonful of sugar there, and next thing you know, you’re on the verge of a financial collapse!

Neon Trotsky January 27, 2009 at 2:10 pm

[re=229558]hobospacejungle[/re]: Stage 3: ???
Stage 4: Profit!

P.T.T. January 27, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Mr. Sophist Schmarmy, that’s our lil’ Dave. But what I really don’t understand is why anyone would set out to be a talking head. It’s a peculiar ambition.

IceCreamEmpress January 27, 2009 at 2:33 pm

Fuckstick belongs in an institution.

Seriously, HISTORY! READ YOU SOME! Who the fuck does Brooks think were the “robber barons” of the 19th and early 20th century? Like some smart person said upthread, the thing that kept the bankers of the Roosevelt through Carter eras reasonably aboveboard was regulation, not some internal code of ethics.

genevieveyorke January 27, 2009 at 2:50 pm

oh shit, here i go attempting to defend brooks:

first of all, if you can’t see the difference between kristol and brooks, you simply haven’t been reading their columns. kristol is a republican hack, plain and simple. brooks actually attempts to be a moderate and think outside the box. this article is a perfect example. his argument here is actually a neoliberal one. he’s DEFENDING institutions, which is a classically liberal proposition. republicans hate institutions because they supposedly are inefficient and limit human freedom. see: hating on government, hating on the UN, hating on big public universities, etc.

what this article actually is is a gigantic diss on laissez-faire financial policies and the entire bush/cheney view of government. the main, underlying problem of the bush/cheney years was their fundamental distrust of the institution of government. this is why they hoarded as much executive power as possible. they felt the other branches of government to be a hindrance to them and so ignored them, when in fact the other branches of government are crucial to the institution; they (theoretically) provide the checks and balances.

so anyway, brooks is proposing the remarkable idea that people try to recognize that they’re part of something bigger than themselves, literally. and that, while thinking critically, they should not simply rebel against institutions for their own sake. likewise, ceos should recognize the importance of their workers and the long-term health of their company; they should respect the institution. they should not just kowtow to shareholders and seek destructive short-term profits.

anyway. so yeah.

Links January 27, 2009 at 3:03 pm

[re=229440]Min[/re]: Yes we can!

One reason I think Brooks is a tool is the structure of his columns:

1. summarize the latest book you read on culture.
2. Draw inane and conveniently self-serving conclusions about the current political climate.

But the bigger reason is the pink-on-pink shirt and tie combination he is wearing in his NYT photo:
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2006/04/02/opinion/ts-brooks-190.jpg

AnnieGetYourFun January 27, 2009 at 3:07 pm

I actually enjoy David Brooks quite a bit, but I seriously doubt that the lack of public faith in institutions has less to do with casual Fridays and more to do with the over-the-top corruption and scandals ala Enron combined with a decreased salary (taking inflation and living expenses into account). I actually have more faith in my government than I do in my bank. In addition, Cheney et al didn’t distrust government, they simply loathed the idea of any oversight of any kind.

[re=229711]genevieveyorke[/re]: I am impressed with your analysis, but I doubt that that was Brook’s point.

S.Luggo January 27, 2009 at 3:30 pm

[re=229711]genevieveyorke[/re]: Brooks always has a disguised subtext. But in his column it shows up in citation of Hugh Helco’s “Thinking Institutionally”. The gist of Helco’s writings is that by leaving matters up to individual conscience, the Left is without a universal moral core.
*******
http://rmberra.blogspot.com/2008/08/christianity-and-american-democracy.html

Re: Christianity and American Democracy by Hugh Helco
4) Christianity can help preserve the role of reason in democratic discourse (note that traditional Christianity upholds the importance of both reason and faith, not simply blind faith)
*******
http://eagle.gmu.edu/newsroom/702/
“Thinking Institutionally” [by Hugo Helco] Provides Antidote for Corruption and Scandal in Society
*****************
http://www.springerlink.com/content/bqe3hw1gkuurjjdg/fulltext.pdf?page=1
Spiritual Politics on the Left by Jon A. Shields

….
“As the political scientist Hugh Helco has argued, whereas the civil rights movement
was bound together by a common transcendent center, the foundationless Left that followed was selfrighteous in the sense that political evaluations were fundamentally personal rather than determined by a higher law. Such individualism endlessly splintered the Left.
Of course, Protestantism itself has been vulnerable to fragmentation given the high value it places on believers’ fidelity to their own conscience. But unlike Protestants, who express their spirituality in churches and cooperate on political issues on which they agree, the heirs of the New Left express their spirituality on urban streets and fight the secular equivalent of theological questions within political organizations. Leftists would do well, therefore, to follow the Right’s example and practice politics because of their spiritual life rather than seek a spiritual life in politics.”

peachgirl January 27, 2009 at 3:40 pm

[re=229711]genevieveyorke[/re]: David Brooks role has always been to present the conservative picture to us NPR folk, hence his constant yammering about his radical parents. (Hence also the pink shirt and purple tie. He’s trying to blend in.) Following the power shift occasioned by Prince Obama DB seems to have morphed from NeoCon to NeoLib. Let’s watch to see if he’ll switch to flannel shirts and emo glasses.

S.Luggo January 27, 2009 at 3:41 pm

[re=229711]genevieveyorke[/re]:
Brooks always has a disguised subtext. In his column it shows up in his citation of Hugh Helco’s “Thinking Institutionally”. The gist of Helco’s writings is that by leaving matters up to individual conscience, the Left is without a universal moral core.
*******
rmberra.blogspot.com/2008/08/christianity-and-american-democracy.html

Re: Christianity and American Democracy by Hugh Helco
4) Christianity can help preserve the role of reason in democratic discourse (note that traditional Christianity upholds the importance of both reason and faith, not simply blind faith)
*******
eagle.gmu.edu/newsroom/702/
“Thinking Institutionally” [by Hugo Helco] Provides Antidote for Corruption and Scandal in Society
*****************
http://www.springerlink.com/content/bqe3hw1gkuurjjdg/fulltext.pdf?page=1
Spiritual Politics on the Left by Jon A. Shields

….
“As the political scientist Hugh Helco has argued, whereas the civil rights movement
was bound together by a common transcendent center, the foundationless Left that followed was selfrighteous in the sense that political evaluations were fundamentally personal rather than determined by a higher law. Such individualism endlessly splintered the Left.
Of course, Protestantism itself has been vulnerable to fragmentation given the high value it places on believers’ fidelity to their own conscience.
But unlike Protestants, who express their spirituality in churches and cooperate on political issues on which they agree, the heirs of the New Left express their spirituality on urban streets and fight the secular equivalent of theological questions within political organizations. Leftists would do well, therefore, to follow the Right’s example and practice politics because of their spiritual life rather than seek a spiritual life in politics.”

genevieveyorke January 27, 2009 at 3:48 pm

[re=229754]AnnieGetYourFun[/re]: good point. i probably took it a little too far. but i guess “loathing the idea of oversight” is basically the same thing, except more so. oversight = institutions. and i’m pretty sure this is an issue that’s been floating around in the back of brooks’ head for a while now.

a brooks column from last september discussed why palin is an awful politician, and it touched on the awfulness of the bush years, the bush admin’s lack of respect for government, and the idea that you have to respect the institution you’re leading if you want to be good at leading it. here’s the money quote:

Look at the condescension and snobbery oozing from elite quarters, her backers say. Look at the endless string of vicious, one-sided attacks in the news media. This is what elites produce. This is why regular people need to take control.

I would have more sympathy for this view if I hadn’t just lived through the last eight years. For if the Bush administration was anything, it was the anti-establishment attitude put into executive practice.

And the problem with this attitude is that, especially in his first term, it made Bush inept at governance. It turns out that governance, the creation and execution of policy, is hard.

later on he says,

Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. … The idea that “the people” will take on and destroy “the establishment” is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right.

i can’t really support his argument w/r/t corporations, but i’m sure this is where he’s coming from w/r/t government. also, -1 for that “sarah palin has many virtues” line. pretty sure he only put that in to make himself feel better.

anyway, so part of this institution message is that republicans can’t just be reflexively anti-big-government because as politicians they have a responsibility to the institution they’re involved in.

also, contrary to appearance, i don’t have every brooks column memorized. i just remembered that one about sarah palin ’cause it was awesome, and this institutional respect (aka, not being reflexively anti-establishment) and governance issue is something i’ve been thinking a lot about recently.

S.Luggo January 27, 2009 at 3:56 pm

[re=229812]genevieveyorke[/re]: Re Brook’s statement: —- “the people” will take on and destroy “the establishment” is a utopian fantasy that corrupted the left before it corrupted the right. —

This ties in with Brooks’ (neocon) column on respect for institutions.

Kev-O-Tron January 27, 2009 at 4:28 pm

[re=229821]S.Luggo[/re]: [re=229812]genevieveyorke[/re]: [re=229754]AnnieGetYourFun[/re]: What’s going on here? Take it over to TPM with your “analysis” and “reading” and “critical thinking.” This space is reserved for jokes about anal sex and closet case Republicans.

sanantonerose January 27, 2009 at 6:06 pm

[re=229486]Lemming Caution[/re]: Wild applause!

sanantonerose January 27, 2009 at 6:08 pm

[re=229711]genevieveyorke[/re]: More wild applause!

loislane1939 January 27, 2009 at 11:08 pm

I was going to give this guy a chance but he started talking about baseball. Every time someone tries to make real life metaphors using sports, I want to cock punch them.

schvitzatura January 28, 2009 at 1:10 am

FiDi is no place for any man unless he’s willing to crawl to Geithner. You’ve got talent, son.
You get yourself an education. Then get out of here.

Brooks, do you want a shock? I think you’re a great guy.

Meh!!! Get bent you pusillanimous windbag!

NunnaTheSOBs January 28, 2009 at 1:27 pm

“Sarah Palin has many virtues.
If you wanted someone to destroy
a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman.”

Anybody who tries to ban books from a library

(http://archives.chicagotribune.com/2008/sep/07/nation/chi-palin-book_bdsep07)

or who abuses her power as a government official in a family vendetta

(http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/story?id=6004368&page=1)

isn’t a likely candidate to “destroy a corrupt establishment” — she IS the corrupt
establishment.

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