tv After Words Jonah Goldberg Suicide of the West CSPAN June 2, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT
jonah goldberg that we progressive americans, all of these are actually a radically new development in the history of humankind, number one and number two, are unnatural. but western civilization as we understand it or contemporary civilization is unnatural. what do you mean by that? mac first of all, great to see you. [laughter] following the brian lamb model acting like we have never met each other but to constantly exchange info on twitter but i did want to adhere to the c-span model maxell part what
i do in the book it isn't so much to say i have the fax with a perfect version of what happened in the history, not claiming that that amassing people tilt their head a little bit to step back and look at the world around them with fresh eyes. a big part of my argument is just to simply say that human nature is a thing. it is a constant one my favorite definitions is human nature has no history. take a baby from today you send it back 1000 years then it will grow up to be a viking. if you take a viking baby grows up to be in orthodontist.
because every generation of western civilizaon is invaded by barbarians and we call them children. the place where children are born into at first is the family that symbolizes them into the culture than other institutions play that role. but with you just take it as a human species, it is a natural the natural environments are 250 of 300,000 years fighting for food lling each other with fears we were not even apex predators until fairly recently. if you take a jar of and and dump it on virgin soil, they will instantly start to behave like aunt.
but if you take humans in clear them of all civilization and education implicit in their natural environment, we would not have conversations about books or podcasts we would team up into little bands of troops to defend ourselves against animals or other bands of troops that is our nature. that is the point of lord of the flies the kids are the pinnacle of western civilization from a british boarding school and almost instantly with ar in their natural environment they go all tribal superstitions, kill each other and attack each other, that is humanity. if capitalism were natural, individual right, democracy, then they would have shown up a little earlier in the evolutionary record or from
300 years ago the only way they show up in a sustainable way basically the late 1500 when. >> you say in the epilogue to make the point for thousands of years according to every serious economic student of human history effectively 0% economic growth on the planet earth and people live the equivalent on two or three dollars a day everywhere on the planet. the subsistence existence is what it meant to be a human being to make there were of creativity or moments of intellectual creativity but this was the fact. it seems counterintuitive to have all this wonderful
history of rome in china but the rich people left cool stuff in words and written the that they were living off of the wealth created by subsistence farmers and all the rest and a very fault one -- small stratum of humanity. >> and then around in the 1700 basically to draw a chart showing human progress and he, progress like this the beginning of homo sapiens, then it goes like this. so that as you say, 96% of people were living on two dollars a day and that number is 9% on earth today. 90% of humanity and now it is
three or four times more people on the planet than there were in 1750. so parents and grandparents, we think this is what it means to be human that you live for free speech, certain level of income, even if you are poor even the poorest person in america today, it's not clear the richest person in america today in 1900 would want to change places because you can get infections and eyewear that is unlikely to happen now just from walking down the street. but we do think this is the natural order of things so this.
of 300,000 years is what people really are is custom-built to undergird our wealth and freedom and it is precarious in part because it is new and also because it is a construct of ideas and with that and against it is a construct of ideas that looks at this and said, as you do it is unnatural and it's amazing and a sounding in the greatest thing that ever happened, they say i don't feel like this is authentic and you call that romanticism. you want to layout a conflict be mike yes.
one of the people i'm deeply indebted to the economic historian in her book she has several of them and she runs through the theories of what i called the miracle i should start by saying the reason they say they are unnatural is there is no god in this book i'm not saying i meet ps but to say part of what i'm trying to do to persuade people which i think we agree on this the art of persuasion has been lost with political discourse so i'm trying to model best behavior to persuade people and you can't say we have this great stuff because god wanted us to have it because you can
only appeal to authority when everybody agrees on the authority and so much the liberals are the left and so much of their touchstone is secularism and evolution and if i make the argument from god and i do need to listen to you. so according to the most generous understanding on the left, they care about income inequality, edition of the four, tolerance and inclusivity, literacy, go down the list if you had a sincere argument with what liberals care about to say this is why they are a liberal and this is what they would last. i try to make the point that all of these things get better not just that we get richer but live longer, literacy goes through the roof, we are much
more tolerant so part of my problem with the suicidal part of my in is that because first of all we take is miracle for granted we board into it and just assume and then we don't defend it. but also because capitalism is unnatural, it angers the inner primitive. if you need intellectual history going back to complaints about capitalism and commercial order is constant formed in every generation but with a guy wakes up in the twilight zone different actors are playing the same character over and over and it appears in different math over time.
so to largely being credited with the father of romanticism a french philosopher's work really begins to take shape around 1750 and he is responding in great measure to the philosophical tradition that was revolutionized by john locke b mack and was a contemporary. so he lays out the idea that there are natural liberties. and that civilization is to protect the individual right. and then to come along to generations later, hold on a minute.
and then allow people to live authentic natural live and he describes himself to visit his friend in jail and find an advertisement for the essay writing competition asking the question have the arts and sciences improve? and the essay was for torah fall like at bryn mawr to say does adversity make us stronger? of course you are supposed to say yes. now to look at this the road
to damascus moment. and it is a bit of a drama queen but basically the essence of his few backwards it is very inspired by separate and christianity with the classic religious tale of your individuals that are totally not true and that science corrupts. the first person to put up the to say this is mine it is very different. and with that whole
orientation and then the father of romanticism. and then to argue from his own personal family that the feelings are more authentic than your faxing and personal authenticity with our highest in the motion tell us so much more. but then to say when everything is in perfect harmony, everybody's society has to work together and for that contrast is very strong with the fruits of the labor belong that the group is more
and 14 and the individual and private property is evil and morality is determined by the group but i reject this idea to do the intellectual history. so they reject impulses from the very beginning of miracle, this bizarre fact they say in the column that something happened in the late 17th century where a door was open human possibility and human creation and 300 years later, we invented a worldwide communication system of who we are or how and all of that
unimaginable to anybody make it sounds like heaven on her. xo the miracle start and the counter miracle for the counterargument happened along simultaneously because these are the two sides of humankind feedback the difference of the two is really the divide that goes straight through the human heart. we all want to have a sense of belonging that is more important than individual or to subscribe what gives a meeting in ways of individuality and we recognize as unique person to make
unique contributions and with the inherent tension in our hearts and in our civilization part of the suicide part is that romanticism never really went away with the compulsion to think it is a natural and it doesn't feel right. to come up in different forms than just to bring socialism there are tribalism store social solidarity and a fundamental flaw of capitalism it is the greatest system ever created for peacefully improving the state of mankind
and it doesn't feel like it. but we don't notice the cooperation. by a guy that is pointed out but everything every college kid should read said all of these people my rubber comes from indonesia would come canada my zinc comes from being planned or wherever that is. different customs and languages working aimlessly from all around the world to
have a pencil or a fraction of a penny that nobody knows how to make a pencil they put together the last bits of ingredients to make a pencil. there was an exhibit in england where a guy need a toaster from scratch. he mind the copper and galvanized rubber in a think it took eight years and it was crappy with several thousand dollars but the beauty of capitalism we come together it just doesn't feel like it so they talk about alienation. capitalism is inherently alienating. it can only work if you have institutions of society that
can provide that meeting for people because if they're not there we start yearning to look for meaning like tribalism is human nature comes roaring in. there are governments in the individual if there is nothing between them to drive and restrict and tyrannize individual. and then to prevent from being walked.
because that proceeds society anything you have the neighborhood and the unions and the other organization, your bowling league but the suicide that you layout has to with the weakening of the situation partially as a result of those corrosive effects that ideological assault that is oddly from the perspective of the crazed authenticity to say these institutions are robbing. the church abuses us.
and then it turns out you attack them and then some pretty lousy things start to happen. essentially we have autoimmune syndrome those that are attacking the healthy organs. in the economist that predicted the end of capitalism to projec project -- predict they are intellectuals and then he turns on his head. it was that relentless efficiency of capitalism but that doesn't stop but to
the coroners here and then from others perspective it is usually important to talk about how you have savory but every civilization had slavery but then we got rid of it it only comes after the agricultural revolution because and then to kill the man but there wasn't a lot slavery but instead 12,000 years there has been a lot of slavery everywhere.
but people don't understand is the reason why we should be slavery in america is to detest the moral apocrypha the. into this up to that. this up to that. but there is the argument that the self was intended to inflate people there are a lot of people who think it is somehow recess for conservatives to quote martin king judge people by the content of their character not by the color of their skin.
but what it was perfect but in with that logic into work its way through american consciousness and then living up to those ideals. but they wrote the promissory note that all men that are created equal concern to be treated within the law and to appeal to that ideal was incredibly compelling at is in
tatters that people basically say you can never get past your white white supremacy and everything but celebrating all the other differences and then to reduce that diverse a startled even based on their skin color. so try to find all those if you are a visitor from mars ybor continuity today and this identity politics is deeply human and normal that you need to be taught we have been distrust strangers babies are
born with cry that they almost instantly like people of their own parent. when how much of this comes and goes. so identity politics is just the very end of the human tendency so one of the greatest thing the founders did they got rid of titles of mobility with the notion of aristocracy they didn't think just because it was an accident of your birth to be better or worse and the people
we will come out of this and define and not some four-story er done if we are finished. with charles murray escort the dark ages are upon us. this is amazing. 3% unemployment in the united states. i agree with all of that. but the reason that it has five for the south, 53000 then to work really hard to keep memories alive.
it is out of years later we still express gratitude for delivering. and gratitude is part of my argument that conservativism if you look around then pass them on to your children and that was understood and that liberalism not to say conservativism is no i started to say this before that dear drive deals with the
explanation where capitalism comes from it is overwhelmingly persuasive to knock them down. but it is better than almost everybody else it is the way we talk about ourselves and the rhetoric for almost all of history innovation was considered a sin because economics was dominated by the monarchy and the church with the establishment of guilt and nobility in church but did not like any of the uber so innovation was considered a sin. then the weird bottom-up reason this off thing emerges where celebration is celebrated with the fruits of
your labor that belong to you but it happened in england places that have property right chinese have a printing press but time and again they shut down innovation for whatever reason because it had a week until government the way france did and all sorts of reasons genie is out of the bottle in the way we talk about ourselves. so for me a big part of the argument is simply if we don't talk about this, we will forget about it. remember this happened. it is an activity.
it is and recall that we can physically do and we don't do that right now in our culture. >> into your point how recent this is on page nine, think of it this way my father was born oliver wendell holmes is on the report and lincoln was a young man working on a farm in indiana when john adams was president. in 1775 he was a boy carrying gunfire where george washington commanded the forces he was born at the dawn of a miracle that was five lifetimes in washington's father was born died at 4814 years past the average life expectancy for the englishman at the time. and even in just getting started for most of my life he
lived no better on two legs than he did on four. in the average english citizen with no better than the average roman citizen and poverty wasn't believable and in six lifetime that changes. there are clubs in oxford i have been to better older. they've been there since the 1300 block it is striking what comes up if you go through the 2016 election, would you do toward the end with the current political situation and what it tells us about where the west is, you have two narrative, one is pretty
solid which is the trump narrative the democratic narrative shifts around largely because it decide to center itself on the trump narrative so trump america got off track is wrong and all the people who have been left out i'm speaking for you. i am your voice you got nothing. no raises your financial situation basically encoded your cultural dominance is taken away from you. it isn't fair. it is right and i will take it back then you have hillary clinton and the democrats remarkably the first time in my lifetime really from the democratic committee one -- convention say this country is great.
this is terrible this is michelle obama eight years earlier the first time she's proud of her country. now they are merle haggard. [laughter] so from make a tribal appeal to white america and democrats become universal with even though they are the party of identity politics. with proportional representation by race and gender but political convention and all of that. so trump is effectively the first really successful national identity politics politician but it is identity
politics that the identity politics people never expected would be identity politics. which if the majority was plurality that it would act as though it was people press minority, no telling where that we where that we it is amazing if you look at the polling, everybody thinks they are oppressed right now. [laughter] the demographic group that doesn't feel they are not oppressed or demeaned or put upon beef -- by the other people. and historically i think i have considerable sympathy for a lot of people in the trump coalition feel they are put on and the way in which popular culture or campus culture
consistently and denigrate the flyover people for lack of a better word. >> gun owners, god of the gun and hunters. i think some of that some of those feeling of cultural resentment are legitimate in the sense they are looked down upon you can get away with making fun of the people that you never could or others. with the cultural unity. but i also think something that is very controversial with the left these days that whenever he talked about the left having some responsibility with the backlash to donald they say
this is you the way the republican party have gone for a long time blah blah blah. we have been beating up the republican party but you can't go around saying yes all white people are racist and how it's amazing the white working class blue-collar guy, joe bunche bucket take a piece of the democratic coalition from fdr up until the day before yesterday. that's where the votes came from the union guys, second the vote for donald from there all champions of racist and white supremacy city before the 26th election the electoral college the blue wall democrats touted that and celebrated that but the date worked against them now it is
the contusion of white supremacy. the point i'm getting at is you cannot demonize people forever and expect them to say you are right i am horrible. filthy way. my dad was a pretty good guy and my grandfather fought world war ii great-great-grandfather fought for the union and the civil war. white people did some pretty good thing and get defensive. that is a normal human response. that is a normal human response. increasing numbers of white people that was not the case 25 years ago when pat buchanan rose against george hw bush. they started here in certain
precincts when the people ronstadt working for buchanan populated the early trump stuff and they started to talk about the european american. then europeans were -- you can't so they were of an oppressed minority while being the majority. that was a -- that was a forerunner to what's happening now where --
white americans still constitute this -- takes electorate so they are not, but the idea is somehow that they, the only way you get standing in a society that isedn this fashion is to retreat into a sub tribe right -- and to have greefntion grievance and i think this is a huge problem, and again, i'm all for calling out the problems on our own side but this is a problem that is -- that is a cultural problem and the last demanding heights of most of our cull to say they have no role is bizarre and again i'm not trying to scapegoat et weapon but persuade them and house at npr now, and -- i do want to say one thing i heard this from trevor noaa and
people on the left it is funny so in the -- subtitle i've got the rebirth of tribalism and identity politics is destroying democracy all of the liberals agree with populism and nationalism and pretty much with me on tribalism and get furious at the identity of politics an i've done conservative talk radio and they're all with me on the antipolitics but they don't like the other side, and -- you never get rids are of ethnic politics i have no problemwet nick politics right from ben franklin talking to germans in pennsylvania to those in tammy hall not necessarily a good thing but it can go too paren all of the rest. but it's -- it's very different than this -- than the identity politics thing which is essentially trying to create an abstraction of, you know, that -- that i can tell all i need to
know about you by some abstract adherence to something and one of the things that make it is possible an so great is is that we can have many different identity one of the thing about tribal mind is that -- all politics was personal in our natural environment. the tribe or or the troop or platoon whatever you wanted to call it was -- our nation, it was our family. it was our politics. it was our spirituality we worshiped our group. the group was in relation to god. everything all of the meaning was stacked up on each other and one of the great things downside alienating is instead of stacking up meaning we kind of spread it out and so -- sat one moment in church another moment going to the movie and another moment you can be committed to your job or your family and we -- we split pup the sources of meaning and that's one of the
things to make it possible is because it gets complicated with the pluralism but if you haven't buy-in different institution you're willing to create this open space for other people to have different points of view. right, in the tribe -- everyone has to agree on everything, and we're losing a lot of that. and in politics it shall -- >> so amy tribes she has that what america can be, what it should be and can be again is that definition of being an american is what you call the supergroup. so that your tribe can be part of the larger tribe. which is -- cannot be a rule of tribes -- >> right if you're an israelite you -- you're not -- you want to [inaudible conversations] so the supergroup but the problem here i used to talk about this spreading out as institutions in the idea being
that because you want your -- you also understand that for yours -- to remain healthy and free to be what it needs to be you can't poach on a different guy different from you because you give permission to go with yours so it is a mutual also sort of a mutual defense agreement where there's the dmz cultural you don't attack me. i don't attack you so the question is how do we -- so your argument is that -- teaching our history and creating space in which we allow our children we have both teenage children and i have younger children, so we're going through this experience of having them educated without this. that we need to give them tools to feel the gratitude for -- what we have. even if they "don't ask, don't tell" want to accept ideological basis or miracle or anything like that but to say given a
time machine go back to 1600s and see -- how many minutes you could survive. >> that's right. opposed to living now. and this is sort of -- i see distracting melf on this that's the suicide part is that -- what i don't think he appreciates is that anything that can be created by words and destroyed by words. we can talk ourselves out of this. and -- we seem to be doing a pretty goods job of doing this. and the reason why it is fragile is -- it's the only thing that differentiates us from -- the jungle are the institutions and institutions that are in bad shape. and -- starting with the family -- and so -- you know, people keep asking me so what are you -- what do you do about it and your policy suggestions and -- i don't do a lot of policy in here. but one of the things that i do say and that i really firmly
believe -- is that we need to shove as much power to most local level possible for a bunch of reasons. primarily, the first is -- so much of this resentment and tribalism and all of the rest comes from -- this sense that it is roots in capitalism but the sense that there are people out there who are controlling my life. ive no power over my life. people are making decision for me. people are inspiring against me. the system is rigged. keep hearing this right that idea of system is rigged. an some is paranoia but the way you fix it if you sending as much power to the local level possible -- you know the powers and so at
church there's a accountability fix in there you can't claim the powerful unseen forces of global cysts are doing everything. right -- you know and sometimes when had people talk about globalist they make it sound that -- at age 13 every globalist gets a bar mitzvah that going on too did you you have cultural war fight but vearntion they have to see them they're going to be the parents of their kids 'friends and that creates certain amount of humility and open heartenedness to these kinds of question and also -- you know, it -- people don't live in the united states of merck that's one of the reason why is nationalism doesn't do what people want it to do in network. right americans live in cleveland and that is, you know, cul-de-sac -- in san diego, whatever.
they live in actual communities with real human beings. a number to know as human beings but 5200 people, and -- that's where all of real life happens is with other human beings virtual communities aren't communities. they're only like five things that give us happiness in life. arthur brooks has a list and i mess it up like faith, family, friends, experiences -- oh, people are born miserable but earned success which is not necessarily or even often money but a feeling -- that you made a difference in people's lives that you respected for making a contribution -- and government can't give you earned success it can increase your -- network it can't increase your self-worth only people to give earned success are people who love you. and -- who care about you or who respect you. and that has to be done at the
ground level and give being people more resources to find that where they actually live -- is i think really the only answer, and has to start with the family because mary did a wonderful piece for weekly standard about how identity politics is offshoot of the break down of the family because of this desire tribal desire to feel like you're part of something doesn't go away and if you didn't get those feel physician satisfied in your family or your local communities, you -- go off and look for abstraction that's >> what you feel with idiots on the the right -- who think that they'll find meaning in their lives recalling themselves -- or whatever, and it is all how you fix with reaching tout human being, so you say this is started by saying this is a booklet of and this tip to
conclude where we began you nonetheless referred to this seismic intellectual event 350 years ago as -- a miracle that is -- pages of my magazine -- this month and miracle is a supernatural event because it otherwise wouldn't happen but it is an interesting one because what it suggest this is also a thing with with gratitude even though this is a book that is not atheist what you're supposed to do with a miracle is kind of gulp at the it and -- realize gratitude is one thing but there's something awesome about them and miracle is something awesome. this simply laying out this fact of what happened to mankind over
the last 250, 300 years to say if these people in england for whatever reason had britain, ire land, had not -- had these ideas had this common concert of -- we wouldn't, this set is -- wouldn't be here. we wouldn't be here. i don't know where we would be but in some -- [laughter] but -- there's that aspect as i read this book and i read it twice. it's awe inspiring thing i went to see the cathedral in france which is built in the -- 11th 1th century and you walk through it like the greatest building on earth. i can't believe they did -- how did they do this? how is this done?
didn't even have power tools nothing and that' what -- suicidal even though it is extremely depressing title but made me feel is that -- is that you know we -- we are witness, we are the living witnesses to a thing that is without precedent in the, you know, in the way of america. of the world. >> i really appreciate that and that was sort of what i was going for so i really appreciate that the miracle part for me but we have to wrap this up is that it isn't supposed to suggest define intervention but things that are inexplicable and no one extended this miracle to happen. it was an accident and i virtue of the fact that it is an accident and, you know, that it was created it -- not through human will but through this weird contingency. we should be all the more grateful for it because like --
our reaction should be oh, crap i don't to mess this up and have about and so story that lead, it is talked that story of greed it is really a sry of gratitude no matter what version it is it is giving you this unbelievable treasure and ask for more it says it can't and out of range or entitlement or arrogance of intellect, they kill a goose where -- what we should be doing is building, you know, protecting from everybody you know backoff this is valuable and that's what i'm trying to convey so -- we live so this book is building cage around a goose. that's exactly -- that's why everyone should read is it. absolutely. it would take eight years to build that cage. [laughter] if you didn't have 200 around the world to get mexico to pay for the gauge. [laughter] so --
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