Tuesday, June 11, 2013

David Brooks' Brand New Big Beefy Cruncheesy Chaluparito Supreme

I know a guy who knows the guy David Brooks hired to write the algorithm that extrudes his "column" twice a week. The fifth of gin he burns through every day does nothing to ease his fear that he may have destroyed Western Civilization.
driftglass, January 2012

Yeah, he did another one of those.

Go read it if you're fresh out of glue to huff or have misplaced your hitting-yourself-in-the-head mallet, but if you'd rather not I can save you some time.

See, just about every David Brooks column ever written is like the menu at Taco Bell:  the same, few, cheap ingredients glopped together is slightly different configurations, each with a different name and shiny wrapper.  

On the menu today...

...everything sucks because dirty hippies ruined everything nice and now something something disordered families (if Mr. Snowden had been a poor, Mr. Brooks would have thrown in having irresponsible sexy sex time at no additional change.)
Though thoughtful, morally engaged and deeply committed to his beliefs, he appears to be a product of one of the more unfortunate trends of the age: the atomization of society, the loosening of social bonds, the apparently growing share of young men in their 20s who are living technological existences in the fuzzy land between their childhood institutions and adult family commitments. 
Judging by his comments reported in the news media so far, Snowden was obsessed with the danger of data mining but completely oblivious to his betrayals and toward the damage he has done to social arrangements and the invisible bonds that hold them together.
..the pearl-clutching teddible teddible that no one trusts Gummint and Corporations no more!
But Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country. Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.
...and, worst of all, how that no good ingrate guttersnipe turned on his benevolent employer.  Bit 'em 'e did!  Bit 'em right in th' hand wot was feedin' 'im!  Blimey!
He betrayed his employers. Booz Allen and the C.I.A. took a high-school dropout and offered him positions with lavish salaries. He is violating the honor codes of all those who enabled him to rise.
You know, if the weakening of families actually had more to do with knitting and common gooding and less to do with a corporate system which decided to overthrow the basic social contract of an honest day's work for an honest day's pay and loyalty repaid with loyalty, for a system that methodically destroyed the stability of the middle class in order to extract more and more wealth for fewer and fewer people...then Mr. Brooks might have a fucking point.

And If the American government and corporations hadn't worked overtime over the last 50 years to richly deserve the suspicion and mistrust of the American people...then Mr. Brooks might have another fucking point.

But what Mr. Brooks has instead is larder full of the same, few, cheap ingredients and no incentive to ever add anything else to his menu.

Also let me add that it is incredibly petty for Mr. Brooks to do an entire column on Mr. Snowden and never even mention Glenn Greenwald's name.  Every reader knows I have my differences with Mr. Greenwald, but I do not pretend he hasn't done important work and I do not pretend that without his intermediation, this story would exist in its present form, hot and ready for Mr. Brooks to lard up with his dime store Whig sociology.

Finally, as to the question of outing his employer, hanging a "Gone Leakin'" sign on his cubicle, and heading over the horizon, outside of drawing some well-founded conclusions about his ideals I would not presume to do as Mr. Brooks has done and weave together a few wisps of Wiki data into a comprehensive psychoanalytic profile of Mr. Snowden that just so happens to fit every one of Mr. Brooks' predilections like a Saville Row suit.   However I will say that while Mr. Brooks and I are approximately the same age, I would venture guess that my overall view of the working world is probably much closer to Mr. Snowden's, who is 20 years my junior.

In Mr. Brooks' world, success and wealth are bequeathed from above and dog-loyalty to your employers -- even if your employer is a blood-soaked scumbag -- is the great, granite plinth upon which the entirety of Mr, Brooks's Conservatism (and therefor all of Western Civilization) rests.  A Brooks Man never violates Reagan's 11th Commandment.  A Brooks Man never admits to fundamental ideological failures, even if that means inventing a menagerie of fake Liberal sins so that the Brooks Man can retain his smug sense of entitled superiority secure in the knowledge that whatever trivial errors might have been made in implementing Conservative ideas, they are nothing compared to the awfulness of the Dirty Hippies.

And a Brooks Man never needs to be told twice that you never take sides against the Family:

In my world, people from 20 to 50 have not learned to distrust corporations and bosses by living  "a life unshaped by the mediating institutions of civil society": we have earned this lesson by a method that appears to be completely mysterious to Mr. Brooks.   We learned the value of always having our bags packed and never assuming that hard work and loyalty will ever be lead to anything other than a pink slip at Christmas by direct experience -- by watching our own careers or the careers of our parents and our friend's parents sacrificed in their millions on the altar globalization, right-sizing, outsourcing, reengineering and generally making Mr. Brooks' wealthy and powerful friends -- those with their hands on the tillers of our society's mediating institution -- incrementally wealthier and more powerful:

We have learned our lesson this by being caught in the pulverizing path of four decades of sweeping Conservative-led rollbacks of worker's rights, environmental regulation, workplace safety, retirement benefits, union protection, etc ad nauseum.

Then again, as a loyal and successful Conservative, Mr.  Brooks has made a career out of being completely oblivious to Conservatism's betrayals and toward the damage it has done to social arrangements and the invisible bonds that hold them together.

So you can bet the rent money that revelation will never be on Mr. Brooks' menu.


Orion Jacoby said...

But I like my beefy crunch craprito. Flaming hot fritos in a burito seriously only innovative Taco Bell item in years.

I think I might have missed the point.

Anonymous said...

I caught this on FSTV the other day. Turns out is is free to watch here.
It is pretty dry..and a tad too Chomsky-esque in parts...but fascinating in a historical perspective kind of way.
It also really lays out what happened to Old Red very succinctly.

Karen Crosby said...

The picture of Taco David is just sublime. Thanks.

Lumpy Lang said...

"We have learned our lesson this by being caught in the pulverizing path of four decades of sweeping Conservative-led rollbacks of worker's rights, environmental regulation, workplace safety, retirement benefits, union protection, etc ad nauseum"

But somehow Droneglass still cherishes a touching faith that the encroaching police-state has as its main purpose to 'protect us from terrorists.'

Anonymous said...

I find it funny Brooks (and others) have freaked out that the guy didn't have a college degree.

As someone who works in IT, works in the Beltway/village in IT, and got started in IT in the military and as a defense contractor... not having a degree is kinda normal. For starters college is horrible for learning IT. Sure you can get some basic computer science and other stuff, but it's not worth nearly as much as all the certifications out there for doing your damn job. Of course there is also the fact that since different jobs are configured differently, not all networks are the same, your prior work history counts far more than any formal education for proof that you can do the damn job. Lastly it's the security clearance itself that makes you so valuable.

All of which is to say, formerly enlisted members of the armed services like me and Snowden, landing in IT jobs that pay fairly well, as not ab-fucking normal or odd at all. It's one of the few paths to the middle class that remain.

But Brooks not knowing what he is talkinga bout is nothing new.

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

Ian Welsh on "The Logic Of The Surveillance State":


I apologize that I lack the cyber-savvy to make "hot" links on this bare-bones comment thread.

Best part:

"Liberalism, in its classic form, is, among other things, the proposition that you get more out of people if you treat them well. Conservatism is the proposition that you get more out of people if you treat them badly."


Anonymous said...

"Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear"? Bravo, Driftglass!