Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.
NEW: A Collection of Pebbles from The Philosopher's Stone
Volume I: 2009 Now Available at box.net
Volume II: 2010 Now Available at box.net
Volume III: 2011 Now available at box.net
Volume IV: 2012 Now available at box.net

Total Pageviews

Saturday, October 20, 2012

THE MYTH OF THE SELF-MADE MAN

My son, Tobias, alerted me to this interesting article about the life of Romney's oldest son, Taggert:

http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/108815/tagg-romney-myth-self-reliance?page=0,0
There are a good many things to be said about it [including a bit of snarking at the creepy image of Mitt and Ann as they went up to bed each evening], but what is important in it is the account of the perpetuation by the Romney clan of the myth of the self-made man -- be it father George, or son Mitt, or grandson Tagg. 

It cannot be repeated too often that no one, absolutely no one, is self-made in any plausible sense of that expression.  For the past million years or more, pre-hominids, hominids, and humans have been coming into a world they did not make and relying for life itself on the accumulated knowledge and material culture produced by their predecessors.  No one, not a cobbler, not a farmer, not a hunter-gatherer, and certainly not a business tycoon, makes himself or herself [although this does seem to be a peculiarly male fantasy.]

As the article wisely and astutely concludes by observing, the self-indulgent myth of self-creation is transmuted in the political realm into the brutal stripping away of all the collective social protections that generations of struggle have put in place to help those who need the assistance of their fellow citizens.

The thirty-five year project to destroy those protections is well under way, and should Romney be elected, they will be further destroyed.   The benighted and bigoted working class and middle class voters who cast their votes for Romney will suffer from this destruction, and they are simply too stupid to realize that simple fact.  I realize that sophisticated social theorists like myself are supposed to offer profound and subtle explanations for systematic acts of self-destruction, but sometimes, when I grow weary of the game, I cannot resists calling it stupidity when I see it.

Sixteen days.

12 comments:

Chris said...

So isn't it just less stupid to vote Obama, and really smart to vote Jill Stein? I mean if everyone was operating on an enlightened field, she's the superior candidate.

P. J. Grath said...

By coincidence, yesterday I was reading Melville, who says the same thing in Chapter 72 of MOBY-DICK. We are all dependent on each other in this life, as the wisest are well aware.

James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

"When [Mitt] created a trust fund for his children, valued at some $100 million, he made the disbursements discretionary rather than have them pay out at regular intervals or when the kids reached a certain age. He wanted to send the message that Romneys don’t join the leisure class. "

it makes me laugh when you hear repeated the delusional belief of rich people who believe they're only giving their kids the teeniest bit of their wealth, like Warren Buffett. Why, Buffett only gives his kids 22 years of support, and then cuts them off after they graduate college! (said in shocked voice)

Robert Paul Wolff said...

The capacity of the Masters of the Universe for self-deception never fails to astonish me.

Richard Baron said...

I am reminded of a play by George Bernard Shaw, The Millionairess. The text is here:

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0300121h.html

The play is a delight, even if the point that sticks in the memory is the minor one that the law will not stand in the way of your calling someone an unmitigated rhinoceros. Shaw's preface is a rich trove of acerbic comments with contemporary relevance (as well as some without). Here is an example:

"A late rich shipowner, engaged in a quarrel with his workmen in which he assumed that I was on their side, rashly asked me what his men could do without him. Naturally I asked him what he could do without them, hoping to open his eyes to the fact that apart from the property rights he had bought or borrowed he was as dependent on them as they on him. But I fear I impressed him most by adding, quite untruly, that no gentleman would have asked that question."

Don Schneier said...

The shoddiness of the product shows the conceit of being 'self-made' as even more laughable.

Matias Vernengo said...

I agree, and don't get me wrong Obama is much better than Mitt, like Gore would have been better than Bush. Yet it is important to remember that a good part of the pro-business side of the Dems do want to privatize Social Security, and it's far from clear that this agenda would be closed in an Obama 2nd term.

The Ultimate Philosopher said...

What if, um, the "self-made" idea might be, in some versions, quite modest - say, in effect, that all it's affirming is free will. For example: How Kant came from a modest background and eventually made quite a name for himself through hard work, dedication, etc. Sure, he didn't create his own hardwired thinking powers, but presumably he is due moral credit for having applied them diligently. Or is this one of the "delusions" of mainstream Western thought/culture? (It appears that a certain Prof. Rawls had some things to say against that around p. 102 or so of A Theory of Justice. . . .)

The Ultimate Philosopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Ultimate Philosopher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
W said...

I think I've always found it strange that the Working & lower Middle Class will vote for people that wish to pay them less, probably whilst getting them to work harder for longer. Often the only reason I can find for this is wrapped up in racism, usually hiding behind dumb patriotism.

A poor person has as much right to patriotism as a rich man in the same country but will often wave the flag higher & harder because they see it as elite club, they're in it together against anyone that isn't. So a rich man can send a peasant thousands of miles to kill other peasants because the rich man is on their 'side'.

You can see what other 'self made men' of Romney's ilk are achieving in the UK, where the current (mostly Conservative) government is more extreme than the Thatcher government of the '80's i.e bailout the bankers sack the workers.