David Brooks’ “Telos Crisis”

The NYT’s idea of a “conservative” is liberal ethnocentric Jew David Brooks. His column today, complete with a romantic picture of ‘Puritans leaving England for America, circa 1635’, is “The Unifying American Story”:

One of the things we’ve lost in this country is our story. It is the narrative that unites us around a common multigenerational project, that gives an overarching sense of meaning and purpose to our history.

For most of the past 400 years, Americans did have an overarching story…

So far, I’m with him. But then he goes very Tribe:

The Puritans came to this continent and felt they were escaping the bondage of their Egypt and building a new Jerusalem.

The Exodus story has six acts: first, a life of slavery and oppression, then the revolt against tyranny, then the difficult flight through the howling wilderness, then the infighting and misbehavior amid the stresses of that ordeal, then the handing down of a new covenant, a new law, and then finally the arrival into a new promised land and the project of building a new Jerusalem….

The successive immigrant groups saw themselves performing an exodus to a promised land. The waves of mobility — from east to west, from south to north — were also seen as Exodus journeys. These people could endure every hardship because they were serving in a spiritual drama and not just a financial one.

In the 20th century, Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders drew on Exodus more than any other source. Our 20th-century presidents made the story global. America would lead a global exodus toward democracy — God was a God of all peoples. Reinhold Niebuhr applied Puritan thinking to America’s mission and warned of the taint of national pride.

The Exodus story has many virtues as an organizing national myth. It welcomes in each new group and gives it a template for how it fits into the common move from oppression to dignity. The book of Exodus is full of social justice — care for the vulnerable, the equality of all souls. It emphasizes that the moral and material journeys are intertwined and that for a nation to succeed materially, there has to be an invisible moral constitution and a fervent effort toward character education.

Brooks then puffs up his chest to show he is, to some cuck degree, against P.C:

Today’s students get steeped in American tales of genocide, slavery, oppression and segregation. American history is taught less as a progressively realized grand narrative and more as a series of power conflicts between oppressor and oppressed.

This is a mere preface, before he then doubles down on his ‘Telos Crisis’ thesis:

We have a lot of crises in this country, but maybe the foundational one is the Telos Crisis, a crisis of purpose. Many people don’t know what this country is here for, and what we are here for. If you don’t know what your goal is, then every setback sends you into cynicism and selfishness.

It should be possible to revive the Exodus template, to see Americans as a single people trekking through a landscape of broken institutions. What’s needed is an act of imagination, somebody who can tell us what our goal is, and offer an ideal vision of what the country and the world should be.

Hunter Wallace nails it in his response to Brooks’ column:

Around the mid-20th century, the Eastern Anglo-American elite was overthrown in the United States and was replaced by a new cosmopolitan elite dominated by David Brooks’ people. After their arrival in power in our elite universities which was a product of the switch to the meritocratic system, they have spent the last 65 years or so destroying any sense of a common American identity. Now that they have destroyed it, they’re like what are we going to do now?….

David Brooks is right that we lack a national Telos. In the 20th century, the common experience of the Great Depression and World War I and World War II had a great homogenizing effect on American culture. The same is true of the creation of the consolidated, vertically delivered mass media which for a time papered over enduring regional and cultural divisions. The Immigration Act of 1924 ended mass immigration from Europe which never returned. The Cold War allowed Americans to maintain a weak sense of national identity based on ideological opposition to the Soviet Union.

By the 1960s, the American elite was able to take the unity of the country for granted. America was 85 percent White. We shared the English language. We had a strong Christian culture. We had an economy that was the envy of the world. We had a common popular culture. The media was trusted. Virtually all national institutions still had a strong sense of legitimacy which has evaporated in our own times. The federal government could embark on projects like declaring a War on Poverty whereas today the simple act of passing a national budget has become a legislative ordeal.

Personally, I believe the damage inflicted on the country by our cosmopolitan elite is so severe that it will prove to be terminal. We are in the earliest stages of a national collapse. Consider the fact that the American elite is ideologically committed to multiplying and exacerbating our existing divisions because “diversity is our strength” and “we are a nation of immigrants” according to the dominant narrative. Even if they wanted to do so, they are incapable of reversing course without betraying their sense of identity. We’re going over the falls and nothing can stop our dramatic unraveling.

Amen, brother.

There is a profound difference between the positions of ‘civic nationalism’ and ‘race realism’ (or ‘ethnic nationalism’ or whatever you choose to call it.)

Telos is crucial.

And a perfectly legitimate way to interpret the dilemma posed by Alisdair MacIntyre is to posit a racial component to the Aristotelian lens.

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