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Here’s me on generosity.

Carl and Pete have some great posts: I do have to say that “acid” is objectively overrated as a drug that fosters social transformation. It didn’t having the staying power in the life of anyone of any consequence that heroin did in, say, Charlie Parker’s. The Sixties may have been, in principle, a descent from oligarchy into democracy. But, given the unsustainability of pure democracy, it’s not surprising that by the Eighties we had the bourgeois bohemian mixture of oligarchy and democracy, with bourgeois trumping bohemian at every turn. Even or especially today, the lives of bobos are remarkably unpathological, acid-free, and generally unerotic. Is the mixture of oligarchy and democracy really pure modernity? It’s not the pure modernity described by Marx as communism. If pure modernity means the victory of contract and consent in every nook and crannny of human existence, then it’s not quite nihilism or even the triumph of the liberated will.

It’s unclear to me whether the key moment in “social progressivism” (as opposed to economic progressivism—which is quite different) was the pill or the liberation of women. It’s true enough that they’re interrelated. But the liberation of women to be wage slaves just like men was far more bourgeois than bohemian—it certainly wasn’t liberation to do your own thing. It was also an offense against the spontaneity celebrated by any true bohemian. It’s less sexual liberation than safe sex, which is as unerotic as sex can be. Still, we can’t deny the justice and even the service to oligarchic meritocracy of the liberation of women to show their stuff in politics and business.

It’s arguable that it was oligarchy more than democracy that trampled on American aristocracy understood is a classy devotion to formalities or “knowing your place” (in the good sense). The liberation of women was originally a Republican idea, opposed by the more family-friendly and natalist Democratic party of the fifties. Certainly both oligarchy and democracy had their roles in trampling on American “timocracy,” or the citizen-soldier we still celebrate in the populist or unoligarchic rural South.

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