Saturday, September 10, 2005


Yglesias thinks my previous question about national greatness being for other people boiled down to an accusation of hypocrisy. There was an element of that, I suppose but it certainly wasn't the central point of the question. It isn't simply a matter of "why ask others to sacrifice for your notion of greatness when you aren't willing to yourself." Whether or not David Brooks joins the military or the peace corps, or did previously (no on both accounts) should not necessarily impact his ability to imagine that the country would be better if more people did so. What I was referring to was more along the lines of what Yglesias has in the post linked. This "national greatness" stuff is largely about appealing to a few peoples' aesthetic desires, and its an aesthetic desire largely borne out of inability to participate in anything which personally gives you that sense of greatness. It's imagining that if only your favorite football team wins, you'll feel good. You will, probably, for a day or two but that's about it. You'd get a lot more satisfcation out of joining the local flag football league and winning your own championship.

I don't think David Brooks need to join the peace corps before he tells me I should, but I think maybe if David Brooks would just go and join the goddamn peace corps himself (peace corps here being symbol of any number of things he might participate in) he might get something out of it which will make him less concerned with the rest of the country conforming to some aesthetic.