(Page 2 of 2)
Never underestimate leeway available to scolds possessing proper political views. From a recent New York Times profile of Ehrenreich:
“No one can call me a sourpuss,” [Ehrenreich] declared. “I have a big foot in the joy camp.” She is the author of Dancing in the Streets, a history of “collective joy,” she notes, and a lot of fun at parties. So her new book, Bright-Sided, should not be mistaken for a curmudgeonly rant.
Insisting you are “a lot of fun at parties” is a bit like
saying, “I’m hilarious when I’m drunk”-i.e., something that really
requires independent con-firmation. And penning a fusillade against
of cheerfulness” places one further outside the joy camp than that irrepressible Pollyanna Frie-drich Nietzsche, who averred in the very first line of Twilight of the Idols, “It requires no little skill to maintain one’s cheerfulness when engaged in a sullen and extremely responsible business; and yet, what is more necessary than cheerfulness?”
Still, Ehrenreich’s negative think is, it’s true, selective and conditional, the love affair with steely-eyed realism cooling substantially whenever she veers within spitting distance of her predictable left-wing hobbyhorses, winsome creatures apparently sustained solely by a steady diet of bromides. Why, Ehrenreich muses, aren’t self-help seminar enthusiasts “working for social changes that would benefit all” (like me!)? Why isn’t this underemployed computer scientist not “joining a social movement working to create an adequate safety net or to bring about more humane corporate polices” (like me!)?
This is, of course, all ludicrously subjective, especially coming from an honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. Advocates of positive thinking encourage “deliberate self-deception, including a constant effort to repress or block out unpleasant possibilities and ‘negative’ thoughts”? Well, of course. Does Ehrenreich, with her standard-issue petite-bourgeoisie Ethan Allen-armchair soupy radicalism, seriously believe she is engaged in a more intellectually circumspect pursuit?
The iconoclast so contemptuous of admittedly noxious “prosperity gospel” once wrote of Barack Obama, “We, perhaps white people especially, look to him for atonement and redemption.” (Er, what we, kemosabe? Also: Genuflect much?) “In the West…leading proponents of positive thinking are entrepreneurs in their own right, marketing their speeches, books, and DVDs to anyone willing to buy them,” sniffs the positive thinking opponent who…just sold me a book.
“Perpetual growth, whether of a particular company or an entire economy is of course an absurdity, but positive thinking makes it seem possible if not ordained.” Endless expansion of government to institutionalize/enforce Ehrenreich’s political manias, though? Eminently reasonable! “[W]hat was market fundamentalism other than runaway positive thinking?” asks the woman who hasn’t met a social or economic problem that won’t be solved by a trade union or a government regulation in the fantastical Thousand Year Ehren Reich.
“My own Calvinist impulses…tell me insistently to get the work done, save the world, and then maybe there’ll be time for celebration,” Ehrenreich writes in Dancing in the Streets.
No starry-eyed delusions there.
“One must have the nerve to assert that, while people are entitled to their illusions, they are not entitled to a limitless enjoyment of them and they are not entitled to impose them upon others,” Christopher Hitchens posits in Letters to a Young Contrarian. It isn’t as simple as Ehrenreich believes. She puffs herself up in Bright-Sided as a wily chimera slayer, but her enthusiasm for her own illusions and unwillingness to challenge the sensitive sensibilities of her upper-middle-class white liberal clientele casts doubt on her motivation for deconstructing of others. As Lenin said, “Who — whom?”
Bright-Sided is best contextualized as an ahistorical luxury. Ehrenreich lounges in her cozy First World abode, snarking Who Moved My Cheese? is “a classic of downsizing propaganda.” I recall well a long chat with a young Kenyan man on the outskirts of Nairobi, an escapee from primeval poverty who now distributed that book, along with other business and inspirational texts, to villages and slums as part of a program to raise the entrepreneurial IQ and life expectations of poor Kenyans.
None of Ehrenreich’s self-aggrandizing, you-be-a-victim-so-I-can-feed-my-messiah-complex tomes made it into his distribution sack. I suppose when “downsizing” manifests itself beneath your ribcage, navel-gazing about the horrors of a cult of cheerfulness isn’t much of a priority.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?