Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Off The Tracks

Peggy Noonan has an interesting piece in the WSJ today which is basically about how she has the general feeling that the trolly is off the tracks, and everyone knows it at some level, but sees the problem as too big to deal with and is just enjoying things while they can, and waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Our elites, our educated and successful professionals, are the ones who are supposed to dig us out and lead us. I refer specifically to the elites of journalism and politics, the elites of the Hill and at Foggy Bottom and the agencies, the elites of our state capitals, the rich and accomplished and successful of Washington, and elsewhere. I have a nagging sense, and think I have accurately observed, that many of these people have made a separate peace. That they're living their lives and taking their pleasures and pursuing their agendas; that they're going forward each day with the knowledge, which they hold more securely and with greater reason than nonelites, that the wheels are off the trolley and the trolley's off the tracks, and with a conviction, a certainty, that there is nothing they can do about it.

I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."
Hard to say. When does a cultural or political system reach the point where instead of a number of single problems that need to be dealt with, it has instead an overwhelming load of interconnected problems that will, sooner or later, result in collapse or revolution? Did the Western Empire in Augustine's day know that the world was changing? Could they smell it in the air, feel it in the earth, and taste it in the water?

Or is it just more of the same?


John Farrell said...

I like Peggy. But part of me thinks she needs to sit down and have a Canadian Club with soda and lime.

Or perhaps just read the Book of Wisdom.

The kind of collapse she and Fatboy--excuse me, Ted Kennedy, seem to expect, sounds like the kind we can't be prepared for, no matter how diligently we try.

Kevin J. Jones said...

Rather typical Irish pessimism on display, I think. Not that the sentiment is always inaccurate, but journalists and politicians so often run on fear that I'm a bit doubtful of the domesday scenarios we hear of weekly. I'm almost with Walker Percy on this one: Man is not afraid that civilization will fall, but that it will not fall.