Changing Human Nature

Shrinkwrapped has an excellent post on the temptation to try to make people better, and the misery it inevitably entails. I trace the tendency to Rousseau’s second Discourse, which argues that private property makes people artificial, making them try to seem to be what they are not. This leads to Marx’s concepts of alienation and false consciousness, Sartre’s notion of bad faith, and massive, disastrous … Continue reading Changing Human Nature

Obama’s Latent Marxism?

Bill Kristol has observed that Obama’s shares Marx’s assumption that religion is the opiate of the masses. More broadly, he assumes with Marx that economic factors determine cultural ones, which are mere superstructure. Pennsylvania voters feel frustrated economically, Obama thinks, so they adopt certain cultural attitudes as a displacement of their real concerns. Sharing Marx’s assumption, of course, doesn’t make one a Marxist, something Joe … Continue reading Obama’s Latent Marxism?

No longer a “brain-dead liberal”

David Mamet writes revealingly of his political awakening: As a child of the ’60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart. These cherished precepts had, over the years, become ingrained as increasingly impracticable prejudices. Why do I say impracticable? Because although I still held these beliefs, I no longer … Continue reading No longer a “brain-dead liberal”

Roger Kimball on Will Smith and Utopianism

Roger Kimball has intriguing reflections on the utopian impulse and the underlying thought, stemming from Rousseau, that one can reshape human nature—all from thinking about Will Smith’s remark, “Even Hitler didn’t wake up going, ‘let me do the most evil thing I can do today’,” said Will. “I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to … Continue reading Roger Kimball on Will Smith and Utopianism