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Douthat is so wrong. Millennials are NOT individualistic. The age of individualism was from late 60s to early 70s when so many young people--and older people--were forced to ask big questions about social changes, rights and wrongs, and meaning of life. This was before political correctness set in, when the boomer young were divided and fragmented along many lines and expressions.

Today's young may seem to care about freedom, but they are mostly 'free' in the same way. The fact that so many of them are for 'gay marriage' means they were brainwashed enmasse by PC education and mass culture of decadent hedonism. Being braindead fans of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus is to be minions, not individuals. And notice that everyone is into selfies cuz it's the cool thing to do. It's instant conformism spread via twitter and facebook. At least in the 60s, young people tried new drugs to find themselves. Now, young people just wanna smoke weed to tune out and think/feel alike with everyone else. They are adrift in the same cloud.
They don't rebel against their professors but spout the same PC nonsense fed into their heads.

Millennials are globo-conformists. The rich ones are neo-aristocratic admirers of fancy 'gay' style. The less fortunate ones are minions glued to celebrity news on the internet and twittering about the same thing; they imitate he rich-hedonist 'gay' style. Not a single one has the guts or fortitude to have a real individual thought or emotion. It's minionism.

4 2017-06-27 15:51:28 - Sandy Bates

World control is what Republicans want. They wish to own it and strangle the last cent out of it or our just to heighten their political power. "Republican intransigence", certainly correct, to make the president fail and our economy not recover, so they can gain power to go after that world, just as Cheney/Bush went after Iraq oil and war contracts. Draft dodgers, non combatants, but enormously wealthy people wishing to take control of the world, and to be placed in that position through their voting base. Their base which is blasted by midcentury European propaganda to be afraid of everything except the real threat, Republicans. Oh boy, now they have IS, created through their actions, but a president that's not eager to go to war. That's not what Republicans want, after all, war is a good vehicle for going after that world control. We have had a do nothing house for 4 years, no help just wanting the president and economy to fail. It's the Republicans' House, correct, elected by less than a majority of the electorate, but the politicians chosen by the Plutocracy. It's the Peoples' House is history, just like peace in the Middle East is history, thanks to the Cheney/Bush administration. Has anyone noticed that the "body count" (Vietnam term) of our dead soldiers has gone down with this administration. Once made afraid of Communistic counties, now our businesses voluntarily outsource at our workers' expense to them. Yeah, it's world control their after and propaganda works.

1 2017-05-29 01:34:47 - Rogerlee

Seeing even the much vaunted Pesh Merga flee the field of battle, one wonders if the armies of our presumed partners--Turkey, Iraq (still deeply inept and infiltrated despite change at the top) and Jordan will have what be it takes to be "victorious" on the ground, even with air support. I doubt it.

ISIL are fiercely devoted fanatics with wide experience in real fighting. Their esprit de corps is over the top, in stark contrast, I suspect, to all of these opponents. They can slip away into sunni areas if need be and be tough to flush out.

But even if our allies do sweep the field, then what?

Much of ISIL's success comes from providing basic government services free of corruption. We--or our proxies-- will have a tough time duplicating that while simultaneously dealing with a guerilla war, bombings and sabotage as ISIL goes underground.

They are far smarter in many ways than Al Qaeda in Iraq ever was. The latter--mostly foreigners-- wore out their welcome by arrogant annexing or property, too many public executions, messing with old smuggling routes, and a little reported fact (somewhere in the middle of this paper once): they tried to ban cigarettes! This perhaps the broke camel's back (the monkey on it must have helped).

Don't expect the same from ISIL.

Meanwhile our ally Saudi Arabia cut off about 80 heads this year, almost all foreign nationals or religious minorities, many for thought crimes. Zero outrage.

ISIL must be contained. But this plan is weak.

35 2016-12-25 07:15:14 - SDD

Our plutocrats encourage an unfortunate illusion, that we are having a rational public policy discussion as to what is best for the general welfare. “Oh, if only your arguments were more rational and you were focused on the real culprit, broken families.”

The truth is that no rational argument will ever ever ever convince our plutocrats to give up any money or power whatsoever, no matter how rational or obviously beneficial for the public welfare.

We evolved a sense of fairness, because in our ancestral environments, if a group of people were hogging all the resources and food for themselves, we understood that that would lead to chaos and worse outcomes for everyone.

Yet, when Wall Street bankers, whose wealth, whose ability to extract labor, goods and services, and economic activity out of the nation is obscene, there is no recourse.

No argument will ever convince our plutocrats to give up any money or power, because there is no punishment for being a selfish, horrible person.

The millionaires in Congress, who are happily cutting food stamps, are completely deaf to the voices and interests of those who are not rich and powerful. The illusion that some rational argument will convince our elites to serve the people and not themselves has been broken. So we should not only be angry, we should question their legitimacy.

“We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” –Louis Brandeis

12 2016-02-18 20:00:51 - Pete C.

All these posts sound so reasonable. A lot of reasonableness got us into this mess in the first place. Wasn't it reasonable to bring democracy to Iraq, since everyone wants democracy? It’s all a bunch of just so stories. If it's plausible, it must be true. God I hope it's true! Arming the nice Jihadists in Syria to fight ISIS and Bashar at the same time sounds so reasonable, until you take even an opaque look and realize fighting ISIS means removing the last real obstacle to Bashar al-Assad and Iran that we haven't already removed. Luckily, the Free Syrian Army (FSA; i.e., the nice Jihadis), Syrian National Coalition, Syrian National Council and others of the "moderate opposition" are so fractured they aren't any threat to ISIS or Bashar. The arms we send to them (whoever them is, depending on the day of the week and who's up and who's down and who is talking to whom, or not) will end up with the al Nusra Front, which has ties (?) to some of the Syrian opposition groups as well as an on again off again relationship with ISIS. Even if they don’t have ties to the FSA, al Nusra can fight and will take those arms away for their own use, or perhaps give some to ISIS, depending if the two groups are talking or not.

Here’s another just so story. What if we establish a clandestine link to ISIS and tell them we won't bomb them if they leave the poor Kurds alone, then have them provide the check on the Iranian hegemon that we removed when we overthrew Saddam. Just a thought.

0 2015-12-18 09:59:33 - Maurie Beck

At a time when we are seeing the disintegration of America - real and imagined - it is comforting I am sure to find the paper tigers who stalk the world - financial meltdown, racial wars, terrorism, plague, all of the end-of-days boogeymen.

And it is difficult to see who the bad guys are, mostly because they are wearing suits and work in office buildings, busy defrauding us and debilitating the economy in service to their own greed.

And we are mostly unprotected by our government which simply cannot deliver the needed services to areas and populations struck by cataclysmic events - Sandy, Katrina, 9/11.

And Americans have understood - imperfectly perhaps - the ramifications of the reality of disasters and the unrealized expectations for government service; hence the rise of prepper culture with its attendant passion for gun ownership, protecting our own rather than reaching out to neighbors to work together to survive.

Sadly, the latter was how we made America great: we cooperated in the face of disaster, even when the social contract was stretched to its limits.

The preppers are, as many have pointed out, delusional paranoiacs who fear others and aggrandize their own abilities. Killing an animal to skin for food is difficult and unpleasant. Killing another human to protect oneself is nearly impossible - even cops and soldiers flinch.

My guess is the vendors of this stuff will not just survive - they'll prosper.

1 2015-08-28 10:34:03 - DDH

"If you have a primitive zero-sum mentality then you assume growing affluence for the rich must somehow be causing the immobility of the poor, but, in reality, the two sets of problems are different, and it does no good to lump them together"

THIS is nothing more than what anthropologist George Foster called "The Principle of Limited Good" from his study of traditional societies in the 1960s. That is the notion that there is a limited amount of "good" to go around. If one person profits, another loses.

Foster observed that there was less interest in opportunity because of a perception that society is a competitive game that causes a high level of social distrust. I wonder if this translates into failure of civil institutions through constant shifting patterns of alignment and undermines creation of new opportunities.

All the practices cited by Mr. Brooks- perverse compensation schemes, assortative mating practices, and the superstar effect- for the upper class of workers follows the same logic as the seemingly quaint practices of the growing underclass. The upper look to protect their "share" vs. the lower that does not see there is a "share" to strive for. Is the underlying commonality here that there hasn't been the kind of investment to produce a real increase of the "good" accessible to the many? Are "bad schools, no jobs, broken families, neighborhoods lacking mediating institutions, (etc.)" all results of disinvestment undermining society?

0 2015-07-12 17:58:54 - MoralMage

Mr Kristoff,
This has been an issue forever, and the Great Society, all of those social programs would solve it. Where did all the money go? What good has it done? Proven once more that government throwing money at a problem does nothing. Many have stated , and you acknowledge, other immigrant groups have come to America, faced discrimination and hardship, yet have persevered and succeeded. Any conclusions from that? It is a cultural issue and I see no way to solve it. It most definitely is not a white issue, it is a issue within black culture, it is for them to solve. When anyone speaks some cold hard truths within the black community, they are either uncle tom’d , ostracized or ignored.
Bill Cosby, a successful role model has spoken out on this, but where are his supporters. The silence is deafening.
Single parents (now a problem across all races), generational poverty, generational acceptance of living off government handouts , make the issue of raising black youth as a whole a daunting one, one that I see no answers to. And that is sad. This is a problem not of white privilege, and as standards of living decline for all Americans in the next generation, there will be less resources applied to the failed policies of The Great Society.
Real leaders need to be found within the urban black community, leaders that help 1 family, 1 child at a time, as opposed to the media driven ambulance chasers that call themselves leaders today.

9 2015-06-30 14:08:55 - Scott

This confirms some of my suspicions about ADHD. I identify with the characteristics noted in the article, including being bored by the routine and the ability to hyperfocus. These traits made school hellishly boring for me, but the same traits later made me unbeatable at work -- creative, energetic, always looking for and taking on the most difficult and challenging problems -- and I know others who have prospered for similar reasons.

I have to wonder then whether the real problem here isn't a system of schooling that rewards the tedious and routine and punishes kids who are creative and seek intellectual challenge (the two are not, I think, unrelated).
I'm also deeply troubled that we feed powerful stimulants to children -- particularly toddlers, for which there is no conceivable justification.

Where were all the kids who needed stimulants when I was in school 50 years ago? It's hard to avoid the suspicion that many of these diagnoses are diagnoses of convenience, made to quiet poorly raised kids or keep active boys seated when recess has been cancelled and class goes on too long. Or just trendiness, or diagnoses made at the behest of ambitious parents who want their non ADHD children to have the study drug advantage conferred by powerful stimulants without asking themselves what these drugs will do to their kids in the long run. Friends who were heavy users of stimulants like cocaine have aged terribly -- they look 10 or 20 years older than they should.

36 2015-05-06 11:29:48 - Josh Hill

I don’t think Kristof goes far enough. We need to be more radical in our willingness to expose the racism of whites who insist on the pathology of blacks. Kristof talks about the “quiet obliviousness” of whites. In my experience, many whites are not quiet at all, but loud and abrasive in their seething hatred of the anti-racist left. Many seem to have two deep-seated convictions that they are utterly unwilling to question.

First conviction: that there is no way they can ever be racist because they know deep down in the inviolable core of their whiteness that they are “not racists” and that anyone accusing them of racism is simply being aggressive. Second conviction: that there is something deeply wrong with black people that must correspond to statistical and empirical data in the real world, which white people are absolutely entitled to point to all the time, and which needs to be disciplined with force.

These two convictions are contradictory, but many whites seem to feel an absolute intellectual entitlement to them—indeed, they seem to be indispensable to many people's white identity, to the point that they will actually hoard data about violence in black communities in order to “prove” the “truth” of black “pathology”. And its clear these whites do not actually really care AT ALL about this violence! They only bring the issue up when they want to bolster the empirical “truth” and “validity” of their racism, and then throw temper tantrums when people call them racist.

10 2014-11-06 12:08:55 - Gil

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