Monday, April 11, 2011

I Know This Subject Like The Back Of My Hand

I've had a problem with The New York Times' David Brooks for quite a while.

For instance, after telling us "Obama and Clinton were completely irresponsible,..." he backed Obama (and his Secretary of State) based on his feelings about the crease in Obama's pants.

Later, I noted that Brooks had gone NewAge on us (funny that no one else picked up on that) just after the other smartest guy on the web - Robert Stacey McCain - agreed with me that "David Brooks is a useless son of a bitch."

Now comes a Sp!ked review of Brooks' latest book, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement, where they, too, catch his NewAge tendencies in full flight:
Brooks’ argument against reason culminates in an attack on the Enlightenment. Following Gertrude Himmelfarb (The Roads to Modernity), he writes of a ‘French Enlightenment’ that is overly rationalist and violent and a ‘British Enlightenment’ that emphasises sentiments and is moderate. Three hundred years later, the research finds, ‘the British Enlightenment wins’.

But this is a thoroughly flawed understanding: Enlightenment thinkers on both sides of the English Channel were defenders of reason, from science to politics. Brooks quotes Edmund Burke approvingly, and cites him as a leading member of the British Enlightenment – even though Burke became the leading opponent of the Enlightenment. The concept of reason was central to the American and French revolutions: it provided the basis for widespread social cooperation and was inherently democratic, because it was considered that everyone had the capacity to act rationally and play a role as a citizen.

The implications of Brooks’ anti-rationalist views are drawn out in his recommendations for social policy. He believes that the state can mould emotions and culture for positive ends. What this means in practice is the state intruding into the most personal aspects of people’s lives. Schools need to take over from families that don’t instil the right values to learn; state policies need to inculcate ‘the habits, knowledge and mental traits’ for success. He wants to take the latest findings about the brain and use them to control people’s behaviour.

But, all this said, the problem with The Social Animal is not just that Brooks simply elevates emotions and denigrates reason. It is that (despite protests to the contrary) he sets up a false dualism between the two.
You can read the rest for yourself, but I will point out that, not only have I been reminding you of the NewAge concept - and threat - of "duality" since I started this blog, but that I choose my topics carefully.

You see, having been schooled in the NewAge belief system, I don't need to have the word "NewAge" mentioned, or the landscape explained - I spotted David Brooks as having gone over to The Dark Side a long time ago, and without him having said much - just as I know Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and all the others I cover are NewAgers.

They don't have to openly declare it - as so many, wrongly, demand Obama should about Islam - it is revealed:

Just as I knew with Jared Lee Laughner, their associates, behaviors, words (evasions, really, which are another tip-off) and political positions, say far more about their occult beliefs than they ever imagine.

But, then, it's a lack of imagination that gets people into NewAge in the first place - and why the rest of you keep listening to them.