Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Banality of Guilt

I just finished reading a review of a new book that sounded interesting. The title is what caught my attention: The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism. It's an extended essay on the phenomenon of white liberal guilt by the French writer Pascal Bruckner. I'm not familiar with him nor his work, but if the title of yet another essay of his is any indication, The Tears of the White Man, then I suspect I'd discover that he and I were simpatico. Anyway, back to the new book, while I haven't read it, if I accept the reviewers take, I think Bruckner may be missing a key aspect of the subject, something new about it.

An old aphorism of mine is that liberals confuse self-hatred for selflessness. That confusion is compounded because to all appearances there is absolutely nothing selfless about their posture. Rather, their public expressions of self-hatred seem more like exercises in demonstrating their own moral superiority, moral preening, if you will, than in anything like genuine humility.

This posture used to grate mightily when I encountered it. But, and this is what's new, it now seems to have lost that power. Now it's yawn-inducing, if not downright pathetic. It's become, in a word, banal. And, in case you were wondering, that's a good thing.

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