Fwd: Attacks and Modernism
Wed, 10 Oct 2001 22:11:35 -0700
Some thoughts from my father
on what we've been calling
> I've been thinking about Thorstein Veblen's contrast between
> modernism and the older strains of thought that predate it.
> I think Veblen would characterize a modern state of mind as
> doing business with people you don't know, treating everyone
> equally, and generally being "live and let live". An archaic
> state of mind would be clannish and hierarchical. It would
> also feature a religion with strong do's and dont's.
> Since September 11 I think I've seen the U.S. grow more
> clannish and hierarchical. The press coverage of current
> affairs and the upsurge of patriotism reminds me of the
> It seems to me that people move in the direction of becoming
> modern so long as they are not threatened. In the history of
> the U.S., for instance, people were becoming modern fast
> in the twenties. Then came the depression and the country
> became more conservative. Pearl Harbor[*] put an end to the
> development of modernism until the sixties. Maybe the
> nineties, the first time people though in terms of a global
> community, will turn out to be the most modern decade for
> some time.
> It's easier to understand the truculent behavior of the Israelis
> if they can't help but respond that way to attacks, and the
> attacks make them quite incapable of seeing things from
> the other side.
> I'm especially troubled by George Bush's assertions that
> you're either with us or against us. That's surely an archaic
> sentiment, and logically quite indefensible.
* more likely the Soviet threat, in the writer's current opinion.
Perhaps Lorenz is right: threaten
people, and they think with the
hypothalamus instead of the cortex.