Brooks’s latest dime-store theory of the world

David Brooks writes:

The crucial fact about the new epoch is that creativity needs hubs. Information networks need junction points. The nation that can make itself the crossroads to the world will have tremendous economic and political power … In fact, the U.S. is well situated to be the crossroads nation.

That’s the sort of thing that only a liberal Jew could write. Liberal Jews get no end of pleasure out of redefining America as not a nation in the concrete sense but as a “multicultural, diverse country,” as a country that “has never had a culture of its own, but is a collection of immigrant cultures,” as a country “that does not yet exist, but is in process of becoming,” and now, as a “crossroads nation.”

In fact, throughout history, it has been understood that the worst fate for a society was to be a crossroads nation, because a crossroads nation, on which other nations and powers are constantly impinging, is not free, but is subject to the alien peoples and empires which are always crossing through it. Only a person who essentially hates the historic America would wish for it to become a crossroads nation.

Samuel Huntington had a much better understanding. He said that in the period to come, the crucial distinction would be between nations that act, and nations that are acted upon. Only the nations that act are free and can survive. A crossroads nation is acted upon, and will not survive.

- end of initial entry -

LA writes:

By the way, ancient Israel was a crossroads nation, and its freedom and very existence were thus continually threatened by the Assyrian empire, the Egyptian empire, the Babylonian empire, the Persian empire, the Hellenistic empire, and the Roman empire.

Jeff W. writes:

Despite what Brooks may say, the American nation is real. It exists. It consists mainly of the descendants of British and Germans, but also includes others from many other nationalities who have made (or whose ancestors have made) a conscious decision to join. Of the 300 million who live in the U.S.A., at least 200 million comprise the American nation.

While the American nation has many problems, it is more numerous, wealthier, and militarily stronger than the Germans, the Russians, or the Japanese. Each of those nations has its own serious problems. And while the Chinese are much more numerous, and will soon have greater total wealth, it will be a long time before they are able to conquer us or enslave us. The same goes for the Islamists.

The Federal government is the only thing that is now holding the U.S.A. together. When it defaults, when Social Security and Medicare payments stop, when Treasury debt becomes worthless, then the American nation, in the interest of survival, will reassert itself. Americans will not then view themselves as a crossroads nation or a multicultural nation, but as Americans who are determined to survive and thrive in a vicious, competitive world.

The American nation is a hardy growth, and it has a great deal of cohesiveness. I believe it will survive as a distinct nation and culture for a long time to come.

* * *

Keep up the good work. VFR is the liveliest and has the best content that it has ever had.

N. writes:

David Brooks has always struck me as something of a dilettante. This latest scribble is beyond that, it is degenerate. He’s taking a kind of feminine approach to the world, expecting others to bring nice things and interesting people, to the “crossroads” nation, in exchange for what? For our good will? Our sparkling conversation?

David Brooks appears to have confused some fin de siecle Paris salon of the late 18th century, presided over by Madame and her consort, with an actual functioning nation.

LA replies:

Yes, “degenerate” is a good word for him. I had posted a comment by myself in which I described him as decadent looking based on his photo, but I realized that others wouldn’t necessarily see the photo that way, so I deleted it.

I was also thinking that there is something homosexual about him—not that he is actually homosexual, but that he is, as it were, symbolically and spiritually homosexual.

A. Lee writes:

David Brooks has always been primarily interested in the importance of culture, and in that sense, he is an intellectual ally of VFR. His first work that drew my attention was his Atlantic article named “The Organization Kid.” It is publicly available. In it, he write a fairly incisive and damning account of the moral and intellectual vacuity of our new class of elites, the ostensibly meritocratic, Ivy-League-credentialed child. You might even say it was prescient, it was written in 1999, long before the age of Obama. He has recently written a fairly daring (given his perch in the NYT) op-ed about the dangers of the multi-cultural meritocracy, and the advantages of the previous WASP ruling elite.

Yet at the same time, he has written drivel, such as that mentioned above, and his more infuriating pieces on the “slow, elegant” retreat of the WASP class. But that bit of writing is fairly instructive. In it, he argues the essentially successful nature of the British-Protestant-descendant culture, and that it has been universally adopted by the aspiring immigrant classes. But, of course, he fails (or more likely, is unwilling) to grasp the connection between cultural vitality and its ethnic origin. In this recent piece, he makes essentially the same mistake. While embracing the Western virtues of free thought and rational inquiry, he would have Western civilization totally exposed to unlimited foreign influence. He again fails to see that Western values are not universal, and must be guarded and protected jealously.

Mr. Brooks is unquestionably both a member and a product of this elite, and as such, he can never bring himself fully to admit the implications of what he so keenly observes. Yet, he is useful. If the project of VFR is to bring more men to American traditionalism, than David Brooks can be the first paving stone. He understands the value of culture, even if he doesn’t understand the ultimate sources of culture. VFR and fellow-travelers have few friends, and someone like Mr. Brooks should not be quickly dismissed as degenerate.

I believe David Brook’s ideal America would be a Norman Rockwell painting, although he thinks it can be achieved with a diverse cast. But at least he believes that the Rockwell vision of America is admirable and worthy of pursuit. This already makes him better than most.

LA replies:

I disagree with the notion that Brooks is a conservative or any kind of ally of traditionalism.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at November 09, 2010 02:23 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):