I can't help, meanwhile, but think that our education "System" is responsible for some of the carnage.
"and sitting right across from me--there was sort of a coffee table
with settees on either side in the lobby--I saw the god Prometheus himself. You
can imagine--well, what a strange mixture of awe, and pleasure, and . . .
confirmation, in a way. And--believe me, when you see a god you know it--I said,
"Sir, sir, how good to see you here . . ." and he said, "Yes, well, I have come
from a long long way away today, on a very special mission. I have noticed you
sitting here and I can tell from your demeanor, and from your--wardrobe, that
you are probably in the mind business, and I wonder if you could answer a
question for me. I'd like to know about that gift I gave you and all of your
friends--you remember a long time ago I gave you a certain gift, and I spent a
long time paying for that, but now that I'm free to wander I thought I'd check
up and see what you're doing."
"Our "education" is, therefore, dying. That is not a prophetic
utterance, but only another way of describing it as secular. All institutions
are dying. The time will come, if we can survive as a species, when no one will
remember, or care, what we did in schools or even whether we had such things.
Who, a thousand years from now, will know or care what energy and wealth we
spent in moving from the self-contained classroom into the open classroom and
back? How many would now remember Socrates, had he held off questioning his
listeners until he could generate some findings about their comprehension
levels, and their cognitive styles, learning disabilities, and occupational
aptitudes? Our very science, which we love, and our soft pseudo-science, which
we worship, will pass away or be changed beyond anything we can imagine, if not
in a thousand years, then two. Or ten. It doesn't matter. Only what souls have
spoken to souls will endure as long as humanity lives. Unless, of course, our
schools and their brand of "education" should triumph utterly..."
I shall forever owe Dr. Michael Bauman of Hillsdale College for introducing me to Richard Mitchell.
Political questions, are in the end, questions about justice, but not merely justice. They are questions of truth, beauty & goodness, of "Soul" (or whatever else you want to call it). Which is why I can't share Lilla's skepticism that "we don't know the causes of what is happening to us". Well, maybe not. But we could. But that would be to obviate many of those causes in the first place.
"The West’s victory in the Cold War was, however, the first to
be achieved explicitly by the economy in its own name. Perhaps it is for this
reason that the economy received a new nom de guerre: globalization… The growth in the economy’s power and
prestige after 1990 was not confined to its functional efficiency but came to
touch areas of society previously monopolized by religion and nationalism. if
people looked toward anything in the hope of salvation or in fear of damnation,
it was increasingly the economy. having lost faith in God, the nation, and
utopian politics, they credited the economy with the power to both create
paradise on earth and to destroy life as they knew it. In the West, the threat
of collective extinction attached no longer to war — which had in any case
become a long-distance media event — but rather to the economy, with its doubt
threat of devastating the environment and wiping out jobs..."
"Heightened partisanship in Washington and declining trust in
government have many causes (and the latter slide predates the Great
Divergence). But surely the growing income chasm between the poor and middle
class and the rich, between the Sort of Rich and the Rich, and even between the
Rich and the Stinking Rich, make it especially difficult to reestablish any
spirit of e pluribus unum. Republicans and Democrats compete to show which party
more fervently opposes the elite, with each side battling to define what "elite"
means. In a more equal society, the elite would still be resented. But I doubt
that opposing it would be an organizing principle of politics to the same extent
that it is today..."