Friday, March 15, 2019
A New Type of American
The latest Range magazine has picked up on the thread that is increasingly dominating American life; and it's very, very sad. Most of us have been alert to it for some years, but this last election cycle brought it into full bloom.
Through decades of systematic maneuvering in the shadows and in closed meeting rooms, with a widely-shared agenda built more on self-serving hatred than on any optimism, a new type of American was spawned: a type whose modus has been scorn for history, for establishment, for caring, even for sharing. The overt aggressiveness of these outlooks expanded across the landscape like a growing dust storm. At the time, most Americans looked with puzzlement upon the anti-everything credos and generously allowed them their say; living in the most free, most prosperous nation in history made it easy to to indulge the occasional tantrum.
Being a free and prosperous nation is not always a peoples' goal, however. Many, many nations embroiled in generations-long political combats looked upon our placid success not with admiration, but with resentment, envy, sarcasm, and absolute rejection, preferring their own evolutions and revolutions to a clear path. And, it must be said, there is always, in any structure, a presence of flaws and inadequacies which, artfully magnified, can demolish any effort or hope to replicate.
Enter political opportunism: arguably the fastest-growing and politically profitable human initiative of the 20th Century human race: farther-reaching than the successful quest to the Moon; more profoundly effective than the fight against smallpox; for it is an unfortunate fact of human nature that with nurturing, the most bright and optimistic outlook can be spoiled to a dark, suspicious, defiant, and hostile world view. There was a wealth of fertile ground for such nurturing in our complacent educational system; a system which in hindsight rather too generously gave free rein to any store of ideas, and supplied a steady market of guileless young people to consume them. In fact schools were regarded with the same indulgence as churches; and no one wanted political involvement in churches.
A generation later the replacement of education with carefully-planned dogmas and manipulated histories, had largely accomplished its intent: Alexis de Tocqueville's conscious citizens of the 1830s had been mostly replaced by stunted, repetitive, unanalytical behavior a century later; and this latter outlook was lavishly rewarded by the entrenched governors of the educational process who themselves had been broadly beguiled by the apparently fabulous successes of Soviet Marxism. So much so, in fact, that even the total collapse of that regime in 1989 made no impression to the dogmas now turned into religious fervor.
We are now living among the most recent generation of that florid past, with rewards accorded by State agencies rather than by fellow students, and success measured by those same agencies according to their own formulae. And meanwhile... the success of the American Republic has been so formidable that even burdened by the rapidly-expanding anti- and naysayer culture, we were coasting over the top of a success trajectory unmatched in all history.
The gilt-edged beneficiaries of that long, arduous struggle of humanity towards that success, ironically, are the one generation to have been virtually free of any of the barriers constraining earlier generations: war, disease, information, education, travel, finance, imagination, entertainment, ...and motivation. As a generation they won The Big Prize, simply by the fortune of being born at the right time and place.
It is a well-known truism that people do not value what they have not been forced to earn. The current generation has now reached the (unearned) political milestone of voting age, in a country that has diminished the significance of almost everything of true value, unaware of the labor and the burden of the previous generations that gathered the wealth which is now being squandered and scattered at every whim.
Eric Schwennesen is a commercial beef rancher in the Mogollon Rim country. He grew up in Belgium, cowboyed in Nevada, and helped Navajos and many African peoples with rangeland conflicts for over 35 years. He recently published "The Field Journals: Adventures in Pastoralism" about his experiences.