In President Me, Adam Carolla takes the pulse of the social contract, a pulse that is slackening. Narcissism is the sapping beast.
Carolla sees an insidious minority that has turned out to be “assholes.” Predictably, the trait has infiltrated what is now known anachronistically as “the fabric of society.”
The death of God, absent fathers, subversive pop culture, unassimilated immigration, and infantilizing, cradle/grave government all factor as threats to destroy from within America’s exceptionalist sovereignty.
Carolla’s admonition is about a stratum of quasi-pathological narcissism breeding within our culture.
The following formulization often comes up in discussions about Islamic extremism: even if only one percent of Muslims are radicalized, that means 16 million people are in solidarity on some level with jihad.
In Carolla’s equation, even if only one per cent of our nation’s population is at least borderline pathologically narcissistic, that’s approximately three million, one hundred and sixty thousand assholes.
Unfortunately, these figures are probably low.
PJ Lifestyle’s Kathy Shaidle previously laid out Carolla’s organizational outline for the book, a collection of indictments handed down for each department of the federal government, plus random, related take-downs of entities like the United Nations. Shaidle’s mention of the explicit language that peppers the narrative will serve here as well.
President Me serves as both grand thesis and field guide. The comedian and author, who started funny and grows ever more trenchant in his observations, brings to the phenomenon of narcissism on the march a noteworthy specificity; readers will find themselves adding personal worsts to his gallery of self-centered rogues and counterintuitively manifested government entities.
Narcissism is not the only target of Carolla’s brawling cultural assessment, but it’s the metastasizing thread that holds the book together. Often laugh out loud, the larger context of the work has humorless implications for Western societies under threat from virulent ideologies and belief systems, and the madness inherent in a refracted society disassociated from rigorous self-appraisal.
In his third book, Carolla—though scarcely the first to call out cultural narcissism—makes narcissism his bitch, pardon the vernacular, roughing-up by decree everything from big-boxes to the airline industry, bumper stickers to the Department of Homeland Security.
The question becomes, how best can conservative counterculture counter the galloping solipsism of our times?
One answer may be to join the rugged individualism of American conservatism with conservative valuation of the social contract. These components of an individual and/or group ethos must oppose on all fronts an electronics-generated, nanny-statist, broken home-enabled reanimation of the “Me Decade.”
Reading Carolla suggests that contemporary narcissism’s sweep makes the ’70s Me Decade look like the “Mother Teresa Decade.”
A culture beset by multitudes afflicted with narcissistic personality disorders is weakened by over-association with the “me” orientation, and a disassociation from the “we.” Such a flaccid culture is threatened by cultures in which the “we” construct is established, and the guiding motivation is negative.
In Islamic extremism and its terror component, ideas of self esteem and individual rights are violently abrogated.
In the United States, untrammeled immigration breeds narcissism both from the standpoint of the trespassers who think the laws don’t apply to them and come expecting to share the benefits of a nation for which they hold no modern claim, and from the standpoint of progressive segments of we the people, who are so narcissistic as to think that we can absorb the globe’s unwashed masses, that we’ve got it under control enough to pick up a gigantic tab in perpetuity. We can’t.
Country clubbers and chambers of commerce who want to open the floodgates to cheap labor out of greed are among the most virulent progenitors of the narcissism plague.
It is a counterculture’s job to be vigilant.
Narcissism reflected reveals the triumph of equalitarianism over merit, entitlement over responsibility, immigration (both cultural and quantitative) over sovereignty, and raises the chillingly retrograde specter of globally administered social justice.
Our current administration propagates the idea that America is no better or worse than any other country, a position that would seem to be the opposite of nationalized narcissism. Dig deeper and the truth is that for those who loathe our capitalist republic and everything it stands for, dismantlement becomes the ultimate objective. For any person, administration, or movement to think they have the right to transform the country by any other means than the consensus of the governed represents narcissism gone over the edge.
If traditionalists and conservatives don’t adamantly conceptualize and defend who we are as a culture, our children and grandchildren will absorb the message that narcissistic obsession, and a corollary disregard for the principle of societal cohesion—a disregard clothed in shallow adherence to political correctness and empty homilies about inclusiveness and diversity—is the stuff of post-millennial life.
However micro his targets, or amusing his characterizations, Carolla’s prognosis might best be distilled by appropriating an infamous lyric which surfaced in 1999’s debut by the heavy rock band Disturbed.
Our culture may be “Down with the Sickness,” but conservatives must not be.
It is the job of the conservative counterculture’s rugged individualists to indentify rends in a social contract that upholds freedom, independence, and personal responsibility, and ride into the breach wherever and however they appear.
To join societal critics like Carolla in calling out the corrosive influence of individuals and entities which threaten our way of life with the whirlwind of self, and the vortex of decadence.
This essay is part of an ongoing dialogue between the writers of PJ Lifestyle and Liberty Island regarding the future of conservatism and the role of emerging counter-cultures in restoring American exceptionalism. See the previous installments in the series and join the discussion (email DaveSwindlePJM AT Gmail.com if you would like to respond):
- Sarah Hoyt, March 22 2014: Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island
- David S. Bernstein, June 20 2014: What Is Liberty Island?
- Adam Bellow at National Review, June 30 2014 kicking off the discussion: Let Your Right Brain Run Free
- Dave Swindle on September 7, 2014: Why Culture Warriors Should Understand the 10 Astounding Eras of Disney Animation’s Evolution
- Dave Swindle on September 9, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part I
- Dave Swindle on September 19, 2014: The 50 Greatest Counter-Culture Films of All Time, Part II
- David S. Bernstein on November 19, 2014: 5 Leaders of the New Conservative Counter-Culture
- Dave Swindle on November 25, 2014: 7 Reasons Why Thanksgiving Will Be My Last Day on Facebook
- Dave Swindle on December 2, 2014: My Growing List of 65 Read-ALL-Their-Books Authors
- Mark Elllis on December 9, 2014: Ozzy Osbourne and the Conservative Tent: Is He In?
- Aaron C. Smith on December 22, 2014: The Villains You Choose
- Paula Bolyard on January 1, 2015: 7 New Year’s Resolutions for Conservatives
- Susan L.M. Goldberg on January 1, 2015: The Plan to Take Back Feminism in 2015
- Kathy Shaidle on January 4, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part One)
- Andrew Klavan on January 5, 2015: In 2015 The New Counter-Culture Needs to Be Offensive!
- Clay Waters on January 5, 2015: The Decline and Fall of Russell Brand
- Mark Ellis on January 5, 2015: How Conservatives Can Counter the Likable Liberal
- Audie Cockings on January 5, 2015: Entertainers Have Shorter Lifespans
- Aaron C. Smith on January 6, 2015: How Mario Cuomo Honestly Defined Zero-Sum Liberalism
- Stephen McDonald on January 10, 2015: Why the New Counter-Culture Should Make Strength Central to Its Identity
- Stephen McDonald on January 16, 2015: The Metaphorical War
- Kathy Shaidle on January 19, 2015: Did the 1960s Really Happen? (Part Two)
- Frank J. Fleming on January 20, 2015: What if Red Dawn Happened, But It Was Islamic Terrorists Instead of Communists?
- Mark Ellis on January 21, 2015: Adam Carolla: The Quintessential Counterculture Conservative?
- Aaron C. Smith on January 29, 2015: Objection! Why TV’s The Good Wife Isn’t Good Law
- David Solway on February 2, 2015: For a Song To Be Good, Must It Tell The Truth?