The Age of Entitlement review ì 103

summary The Age of Entitlement

The Age of Entitlement review ì 103 ☆ A major American intellectual makes the historical case that the reforms of the 1960s reforms intended to make the nation just and humane instead left many Americans feeling alienated despised misled—and ready to put an adventurer in the White HouseChristopher Caldwell has spent years studying the liberalA major American intellectual makes the historical case that the reforms of the 1960s reforms intended to make the nation just and humane instead left many Americans feeling alienated despised misled and ready to put an adventurer in the White HouseChristopher Caldwell has spent years studying the liberal uprising of the 1960s and its unforeseen conseuences Even the reforms that Americans lo. Not since the eve of our cataclysmic Civil War has the American nation been so perfectly agonized between two militantly distinct and irreconcilable political cultures Far afield from superficial policy disagreements Christopher Caldwell argues that since the 1960s Americans have effectively divided their allegiances between rival constitutions that are engaged in a generation spanning zero sum contest for supremacy On one side is what may be called the “democratic republican” constitution that prevailed largely unmolested from the founding of the country to the Kennedy assassination under which nearly all political uestions were resolved by legislative majorities civil rights jurisprudence exercised only the slightest editorial touch upon majoritarian norms and initiatives cultural traditions and expectations that would later be excoriated as institutions of “bias” and “systemic oppression” were regarded merely as the normative flowering of a collectively shared democratic history most Americans identified themselves fundamentally as members of a European nation displaced across the Atlantic and issues of racial euality were viewed as one episode of a greater epic about the creation of a constitutional republic Though the country was framed by the geometries of written law rather than emerging from the mists of tradition the operation of this original constitution was in practice organic and democratic; it could not be one without being the other Beginning with the “Rights Revolution” of the 1960s and particularly with the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and its concomitant case law a new “de facto” constitution emerged that would gradually supersede its majoritarian predecessor; and would by the turn of the twenty first century command nearly all the levers of institutional and ideological power emboldening a triumphal new elite culture and alienating the displaced adherents of the old order who regarding most of the major social issues of the last half century had comprised a substantial majority of the population before their prerogatives were undermined by civil rights litigation The new constitution subordinated the ideal of democracy to that of liberalism traditional majoritarian norms were overruled by legalistic imperatives of individual autonomy freedom of choice the liberation of subjective identities and substantive euality and inclusiveness within every public and private institution Because the supposed subjection of “marginalized identities” was seen to constitute a civil emergency and a moral blight upon the nation civil rights activists found it unconscionable—even degrading—to appeal to the halting gradualisms of the democratic process in order to achieve a status and recognition they considered their birthright The civil rights constitution was thus spearheaded by litigation and top down institutional imposition rather than by any campaign of public persuasion Its methodology was akin to that of Rosa Luxemburg who held that popular consensus conformed to the usage of institutional power instead of the reverse Much of American social history since the 1960s has confirmed the efficacy of this approach When the Civil Rights Act was first signed into law most Americans viewed it as a temporary expediency that would address a very uniue and specific situation the legally mandated racial segregation of the American south and the “sham democracies” that defrauded the black populations of the southern states of full and eual participation in the nation’s democracy and civic life Americans from other parts of the country viewed the south almost as a foreign country with backwards people who needed to be educated primitive laws that needed to be corrected and brought into conformity with those of the rest of the nation and villainous governors and sheriffs whose power needed to be subverted Civil rights legislation most believed was needed to dismantle these alien institutions and to “Americanize” the south In some important respects it succeeded But in others its effect was the opposite of what many of its supporters intended because the enormously invasive powers granted to the federal government by civil rights legislation to scrutinize public and private institutions for racial bias and exclusion extended to the entire country eliminating a traditionally recognized right to freedom of association and nationalizing the southern fixation on racism Rather than Americanizing the south the civil rights regime southernized America creating in its wake a permanent legal and political machinery that could be employed in the service of any kind of subjective identity that felt itself excluded from or marginalized by the nation’s traditional democratic culture In the following decades on issues including immigration policy abortion same sex marriage feminism and transgenderism civil rights jurisprudence would be used to effect massive political and cultural changes on the United States allowing its proponents to go over the heads of a resistant public by taking their causes beyond the scope of the democratic process and placing them behind the barrier of civil rights law Of particular interest to me is Caldwell’s surprisingly negative take on the Reagan Administration Elevated to the Presidency by a tidal wave of populist resentment that had arisen in the 1970s the most conservative decade of the twentieth century according to Caldwell in reaction to the excesses and failures of the Johnsonite civil rights ideology Reagan simply applied the individualistic and countercultural impulses of the sixties to the realm of business and economics The “Reagan Revolution” was merely the economic counterpart to the cultural revolution of the sixties “Do your own thing” applied to CFOs and hedge fund managers just as it did to hippies and folk singers who were often the same people the eighties marked the height of baby boomer workforce participation Rather than addressing the hard uestion of whether the tax dollars of conservative America should continue to fund the integrationist ambitions of the Great Society programs that millions resented but millions had come to rely upon Reagan financed tax cuts and a military buildup with unprecedented levels of debt What that debt “bought” according to Caldwell’s understanding was one generation of brittle and superficial social harmony It bought a temporary truce between America’s two constitutions allowing the left’s program of economic justice to continue unabated without compelling the right to share in its costs The 2008 financial crisis was a major signal that this truce was beginning to unravel Since the Reagan presidency virtually all of the nation’s major corporations have aligned themselves with the liberal jurisprudential ideology The “movement” for same sex marriage unified the corporate world than any other political cause in American history and thus had hundreds of billions of dollars at its disposal By the time of the Obama presidency the total consolidation of institutional control by the liberal constitution over the democratic one had been accomplished and Obama himself seemed to acknowledge this reality in his second inaugural address in which he framed American history— all of American history—as a struggle for the civil rights of various groups against a prevailing through increasingly demonized and alienated conservative culture The stage was set for a revolt

review ´ eBook or Kindle ePUB Õ Christopher Caldwell

Et cookies In doing so he shows that attempts to redress the injustices of the past have left Americans living under two different ideas of what it means to play by the rules Essential timely hard to put down The Age of Entitlement is a brilliant and ambitious argument about how the reforms of the past fifty years gave the country two incompatible political systems and drove it toward confli. Caldwell an alternate view of our crises All the problems we see today have roots that most don't think about This is important reading for those who desire wisdom

Christopher Caldwell Õ 3 read

The Age of EntitlementVe best have come with costs that are staggeringly high in wealth freedom and social stability and that have been spread unevenly among classes and generations Caldwell reveals the real political turning points of the past half century taking readers on a roller coaster ride through Playboy magazine affirmative action CB radio leveraged buyouts iPhones Oxycontin Black Lives Matter and Intern. A thoughtful look at the United Stated since the 60s It is a mix of history social commentary and politics—yet reads like a novel Completely engaging A must read