Putting The Kids Off The Idea Of Society

Many of the parents of the Boomers were accustomed to ask for whatever they wanted in the first or third persons plural. Either they claimed that third parties needed the thing that they wanted, thus appealing to community loyalty, or they pretended that it was in the interests of the “family”, meaning themselves. This was because for better or worse, they no longer had the moral confidence of previous generations, or else they were too cowardly to express their instructions in terms of a universal ethic. For the latter proceeding might involve their having to live up to their own injunctions. If the children wanted to do X, therefore, they would be told that it would upset Mrs. So-and-So and put her in hospital; if they wanted to do Y, they would be warned that they would spoil the day for “all of us”. Who is this “us”, Kemosabe?

Truly this technique is not difficult to see through, and their children duly saw through it. The result was not, as the parents hoped, that their offspring both developed a social conscience and also did exactly what they, the parents, required in their unacknowledged private interest. Rather, it was that the children learned to suspect and ignore all appeals to the interests of Society, which they identified entirely with the self-interest of their parents and their cronies in the same generation. For Society, in this parental idiom, never encompassed anyone younger than themselves. The unavoidable implication was that their children were not themselves a part of Society, but merely creatures created to serve Society, flatter its vanity and live up to its often quite unreasonable expectations. The Boomers therefore took them at their word and decided that Society was rotten and had to go. That conclusion may make no sense, but the reaching of it is understandable.

Posted on August 3, 2011 at 12:06 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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