I AIN’T MUCH, BUT I’M ALL I THINK ABOUT
I’m a fan of blues music, and as I was listening to it the other day, I was struck by a song recorded by Tinsley Ellis. I did a kind of auditory double take when I heard the title – “I Ain’t Much, But I’m All I Think About.” That was it, I said to myself. That’s the anthem of AOC and her band of Idiot Savants. No one, in recent memory, has done more to thrust narcissism into the forefront of public dialogue. In an almost superhuman effort she has brilliantly and skillfully played the mainstream and social media, while being criminally stupid about everything she talks about.
Almost every cultural commentator, these days, references “narcissism” to decry the sorry state of political and business life. Few understand what it means. Narcissism is childhood self-interest. It’s basic premise is simple: I get all my needs met, and you get nothing in return. It is the driving force of infants and children, and it is necessary for their survival. Adult self-interest is quite different. It’s based on reciprocity. I get my needs met, only if you get your needs met. It demands responsibility, accountability, and mutuality. So, free everything – healthcare, education, and income, reduces everyone to the status of children. It is “Lord of the Flies” on steroids. It is chaotic, insulting and degrading. Self-worth is gone. When I give you something for nothing, you become nothing. Welfare has been a colossal failure because of its unstated message – we require nothing from you because you are inferior and worth – less than us.
I have been amazed and disappointed that very few in public life have had the guts or courage to call out AOC’s stupid ideas. In fact, people have come to her aid and support. On the various mainstream opinion shows, people who I assume have greater than room temperature IQ’s, have been championing the idea that giving people a guaranteed basic income will inspire them to get a job and take charge of their lives. No one calls it what it is – more welfare; even worse, recipients don’t even have to qualify for it. They call it an “experiment.” I could douse myself with gasoline and light myself on fire and call it an “experiment.” No matter how I do it, I will still end up incinerated and dead. You have to have been raised in a closet to believe that giving people money for doing absolutely nothing, will motivate them to turn their lives around. (We could try “micro-loans” which have been successful in Bangladesh and other countries, but they require reciprocity and initiative.)
AOC’s ideas are not simply stupid. They are moronically destructive, brainless, and callously manipulative. They seek to play on the fears of millions of people who feel lost and puzzled by an information-driven culture that is forcing them to dramatically raise their level of risk. As a society, we have been no less than deceitful in presenting the painful reality of contemporary life with all of its new requirements for success. Chief amongst these is the demand to make scary choices with risky consequences for choosing poorly. Couple this with the disappearance of institutional security, and you have fertile ground for exploiting fear and unpredictability. And this is precisely what AOC and her band of cynics is doing. Don’t mistake the stupidity of her ideas for the lack of a plan. That plan has a singular focus: To disable and punish those who have understood the fundamental changes in our culture and have made the difficult and challenging adaptations, in order to have a meaningful, creative and full life. Ironically, the assault on “privileged” old, white men, has produced a new group of “privileged” people – young, white and stupid.