…a better title for us would be the Least Great Generation, because that’s what we were.
Roger Simon is author of I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already. Simon describes the defining characteristic of this generation not just as narcissistic, but something far more dangerous and pervasive:
That form is moral narcissism—a pathology that underlies the whole liberal left ethic today and some of the right as well.
The short form is this: What you believe, or claim to believe or say you believe—not what you do or how you act or what the results of your actions may be—defines you as a person and makes you “good.”
If your intentions are good, if they conform to the general received values of your friends, family, and co-workers, what a person of your class and social milieu is supposed to think, everything is fine.
It doesn’t matter that they misfire completely, cause terror attacks, illness, death, riots in the inner city, or national bankruptcy.
The pathology is even worse: it includes the certainty of being right…about everything.
The Founding Fathers and Mothers
Simon names names of this Least Great Generation:
We were pre-boomers. I, only a foot soldier in this cohort army, was born in November 1943, but look at the icons: John Lennon, born in 1940; Tom Hayden, in 1939; Abbie Hoffman, in 1936; Gloria Steinem, in 1934; Allen Ginsberg, 1926; and Timothy Leary—apostle of “turn on, tune in, drop out” and virtual patron saint of hippie culture—born in, wait for it, 1920.
The baby boomers merely followed along.
Morpheus: You are the One, Neo. You see, you may have spent the last few years looking for me, but I have spent my entire life looking for you.
This least great generation found their One, also:
The election of Barack Obama was the apotheosis of this melding of lifestyle with political worldview….The “me” generation had found its perfect leader. Hope and change were never specified, because we all knew what he meant.
Peter Berkowitz expands: Symptoms of those afflicted with this most terrible pathology include “intellectual rigidity, self-righteousness, and disdain for those who disagree.” Climate change; racism and sexism are to be found everywhere; progressive policies on gun control and affirmative action.
Berkowitz, like Simon, also points to Obama:
Citizens, it turns out, do not like to be regarded as “bitter” individuals who “cling to guns or religion or an antipathy to people who aren’t like them,” as Barack Obama, speaking on the 2008 campaign trail, characterized working-class residents of the Rust Belt.
Obama’s defining acts as president offer no benefits to sizeable segments of the American population:
…the Affordable Care Act; a path to legalization for people in the country unlawfully; costly measures to reduce the country’s carbon footprint; and the Iran nuclear deal.
Worse than no benefits…only costs (although I am OK with the Iran nuclear deal).
The reaction is growing throughout the West: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, Brexit and the many nationalist movements in Europe. Yet, Berkowitz offers hope to those afflicted with this pathology:
The establishment is not without options. By listening to the people’s concerns, understanding their anxieties, and grasping the reasons for their choices, elites could take a significant step in reestablishing that democratic debate on which constitutional self-government depends.
This would require introspection and self-examination; it would require the ability to feel empathy. Is there any chance of this?
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a long term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance, an excessive need for admiration, and a lack of understanding of others' feelings. People affected often spend a lot of time thinking about achieving power, success, or their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them.
Therapy is often difficult as people frequently do not consider themselves to have a problem.
Nope, not a chance. It is easier for them to believe that the fault lies with the rest of us, with those of us who are “too stupid” to know better. Even more so when, like many of their fellow leading lights, they have made their billions and can buy their safety.
We are left to clean up their mess.