I’ve been listening, over the last day or two, to some of Rick Roderick’s lectures. They are amazing, and are absolutely worth checking out.
I was particularly struck by his ‘Marcuse and One-Dimensional Man‘ lecture. There’s a lot in it, but this section on the existential situation of young people in contemporary, Western society was one I found to be frighteningly on point:
We are blocked in a way by an unprecedented structure of what I have called here… cynical, sceptical reason. To me it’s historically unmatched. I have never read or heard of a period like this one.
Now, I have read about many historical periods. But not one in which you can talk to young people the way you can at the college level today, and find out that they believe… nothing. Want… nothing. Hope… nothing. Expect… nothing. Dream… nothing. Desire… nothing. Push ‘em far enough and they’ll say: “Yeah, I gotta get a job. Spent a lot of money at Duke.” That’s not what I am talking about here. They hope nothing. Expect nothing. Dream nothing. Desire nothing.
And it is a fair question to ask whether a society that produces this reaction in its young is worthy of existence at all.
I identify with this in a fairly extreme way, which I say not to communicate some unhappiness or other; but simply to state the kind of social affect I feel myself to be part of. In this way, I guess, I understand myself to be under siege (to borrow from the title of Roderick’s lecture series), due to the realities that enlightenment reasoning has opened up to and brought upon us.