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David Brooks: Plutocracy’s Most Beloved Hug Box

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David Brooks vs. Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, 1857:
...
Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reform. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of earnest struggle. The conflict has been exciting, agitating, all-absorbing, and for the time being, putting all other tumults to silence. It must do this or it does nothing. If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.

This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress...

David Brooks, today:
How Not to Advance Gay Marriage

...At this point, Craig and Mullins had two possible courses of action, the neighborly and the legal.

The neighborly course would have been to use this situation as a community-building moment. That means understanding the concrete circumstance they were in.

First, it’s just a cake. It’s not like they were being denied a home or a job, or a wedding. A cake looks good in magazines, but it’s not an important thing in a marriage. Second, Phillips’s opinion is not a strange opinion... Third, the tide of opinion is quickly swinging in favor of gay marriage...

Given that context, the neighborly approach would be to say: “Fine, we won’t compel you to do something you believe violates your sacred principles. But we would like to hire you to bake other cakes for us. We would like to invite you into our home for dinner and bake with you, so you can see our marital love, and so we can understand your values. You still may not agree with us, after all this, but at least we’ll understand each other better and we can live more fully in our community.”

The legal course, by contrast, was to take the problem out of the neighborhood and throw it into the court system. The legal course has some advantages. You can use state power, ultimately the barrel of a gun, to compel people to do what you think is right...

But the legal course has some disadvantages. It is inherently adversarial. It takes what could be a conversation and turns it into a confrontation. It is dehumanizing. It ends persuasion and relies on the threat of state coercion. It is elitist...

This is modern America, so of course Craig and Mullins took the legal route. If you want to know why we have such a polarized, angry and bitter society, one reason is we take every disagreement that could be addressed in conversation and community and we turn it into a lawsuit. We take every morally supple situation and we hand it over to the legal priesthood, which by necessity is a system of technocratic rationalism, strained slippery-slope analogies and implied coercion.

...I don’t think the fabric of this country will be repaired through the angry confrontation of lawyers...
Spoken like a man whose ex took him to the cleaners during the divorce. 

Mr. Brooks believes what he believes so fervently because he is the personification of establishmentarian privilege.  He has made himself rich not by discovering anything, or creating anything or refining anything.  He puts his shoulder to nothing.  He militates for nothing.  He risks nothing to make the world a better place, because for men like Mr. David Brooks, the world could not possibly be any better than it already is. 

Instead, Mr. Brooks has made himself rich and wields wildly outsized political and cultural influence by methodically applying his very limited skill set to writing some variation of the same fucking plutocrat-comforting fairy tale over and over and over again.  His function in their system is the same as Temple Grandin's cattle hug box:  applying a constant, enveloping pressure to calm down the beeves on the slaughter line. 

Don't make a fuss.  Don't cause a ruckus.  Don't upset the good order of Mr. Brooks' world by using the tools the founders gave you to redress your grievances.  And for fuck's sake, don't protest.  

From Mr. David Brooks of The New York Times in January of this year writing incredibly condescending claptrap scolding Liberal protesters for being frivolous, self-involved narcissists who are completely missing history's moment (with emphasis added):
After the Women’s March

...
All the big things that were once taken for granted are now under assault: globalization, capitalism, adherence to the Constitution, the American-led global order. If you’re not engaging these issues first, you’re not going to be in the main arena of national life...

Without the discipline of party politics, social movements devolve into mere feeling, especially in our age of expressive individualism. People march and feel good and think they have accomplished something. They have a social experience with a lot of people and fool themselves into thinking they are members of a coherent and demanding community. Such movements descend to the language of mass therapy....

...identity politics is too small for this moment. On Friday, Trump offered a version of unabashed populist nationalism. On Saturday, the anti-Trump forces could have offered a red, white and blue alternative patriotism, a modern, forward-looking patriotism based on pluralism, dynamism, growth, racial and gender equality and global engagement.

Instead, the marches offered the pink hats, an anti-Trump movement built, oddly, around Planned Parenthood, and lots of signs with the word “pussy” in them...

...now progressives seem intent on doubling down on exactly what has doomed them so often. Lilla pointed out that identity politics isolates progressives from the wider country: “The fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life.”...

The central threat is not the patriarchy. The central challenge is to rebind a functioning polity and to modernize a binding American idea...

If the anti-Trump forces are to have a chance, they have to offer a better nationalism, with diversity cohering around a central mission, building a nation that balances the dynamism of capitalism with biblical morality...
And here is Mr. David Brooks scolding the same dirty hippies in very much the same way 14 years earlier for daring to oppose George W. Bush:
My third guess is that the Bush haters will grow more vociferous as their numbers shrink. Even progress in Iraq will not dampen their anger, because as many people have noted, hatred of Bush and his corporate cronies is all that is left of their leftism. And this hatred is tribal, not ideological. And so they will still have their rallies, their alternative weeklies, and their Gore Vidal polemics. They will still have a huge influence over the Democratic party, perhaps even determining its next presidential nominee. But they will seem increasingly unattractive to most moderate and even many normally Democratic voters who never really adopted outrage as their dominant public emotion.
Mr. Brooks has always written to aid and comfort a small cabal of wealthy, doddering shut-ins who have no fucking clue what is going on out here in the real world, and do not want to know.  They want the sidewalks rolled up at 9:00, that damned music turned off at 9:30 and those damn carpers and complainers to sit quietly, smile sweetly and wait patiently for their fundamental human rights to be generously bestowed on them by their betters.

Because Trump or no Trump, there is still a Club.

And that Club concedes nothing without a demand.



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