Notable and Quotable (II)

“[John] Carroll’s précis of the burden of The Triumph of the Therapeutic (1965), and of Rieff’s aphoristic polemic on the ”˜alternative culture’ of the1960s, Fellow Teachers (1972), is among the most arresting passages in New Makers [of Modern Culture]. ”˜Culture is interdicts””a central body of commanding “Thou shalt nots”’, Carroll summarizes.

They are contravened at the individual’s peril. Every society depends on orders of authority””from parents to teachers, priests to rulers””whose fundamental responsibility is to maintain the interdicts, and by means of guilt-inducing repressions. . . . Cultures go into decline when the interdicts are not defended by the elites, and the remissions take over. This is the condition of the modern West, where it is increasingly forbidden to forbid, and the trend is towards everything being permitted. In place of the traditional response to feeling bad: ”˜Pull yourself together!’ which assumes that individual character is responsible for its own malaise, the modern reflex is remissive. The therapist replaces the priest as society’s central authority figure.”

–Richard Davenport-Hines, “More Muslims” (review of New Makers of Modern Culture, ed. Justin Wintle), Times Literary Supplement, 14 September 2007, p.10. (Hat tip: SP)


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A.