David Brooks, the sensitive middle-aged man ostentatiously reading a Steven Pinker book in hopes that a beautiful woman will ask him about it, has (as you would expect) a fuzzy and useless analysis of our gun problem. But it hints at a path forward for this lost soul.
For David Brooks, politics is not a power struggle between competing interests; rather, everything political that happens can be explained by a soft-focus psycho-sociology theory about which nothing can be done except to “build the national character,” or some shit. Just as Maureen Dowd filters every political problem through a trash can full of Hollywood tropes, Brooks shoves everything into a frame of grossly simplified morality worries. Both of them are ultimately wastes of time for the same reason.
In the wake of yet another mass shooting, do we need specific gun control laws? No... because, according to David Brooks, “The gun issue has become an epiphenomenon of a much larger conflict over values and identity.” Yeah, like everything else, Brooks! Big surprise!
Yet—perhaps without even knowing it—Nice Republican David Brooks may have stumbled upon a political solution for his woes:
The only way to make progress on guns control is to forge some sort of synthesis on the larger postindustrialization/populism war. Over a century ago, industrialization brought on a culture clash between agrarian populists and the genteel Victorian aristocrats. Theodore Roosevelt transcended the fight by inventing a new American nationalism. Meanwhile, the progressives cleaned up elite corruption and nurtured a square deal for those being left behind by technological change. Cultural leaders introduced new institutions and community forms, like the Boy Scouts and the Settlement House, that drew from both cultures and replaced them.
Today we need another grand synthesis that can move us beyond the current divide, a synthesis that is neither redneck nor hipster but draws from both worlds to create a new social vision. Progress on guns will be possible when the culture war subsides, but not before.
Let’s see... a grand synthesis... a sort of dialectic, if you will. The sort of belief system that could unite the working class and intellectuals. The sort of political program that can overcome a culture war based on shallow, unimportant issues, wash away the silly divisions in society, and get to the heart of what is really driving our problems—the amoral and inhumane expansionism of capital, which is willing to crush as all in its ceaseless quest for growth.
Yeah what you’re looking for is communism, David Brooks. Look forward to seeing you at the next meeting.