I COULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS ARTICLE ON “The Perpetual Adolescent”, and really wish I had.
Be sure to read Stanly Kurtz’s thoughts on it, as well.
UPDATE: Meanwhile in England, Theodore Dalrymple writes that “Mass drunkenness has turned us into a nation of barbarians”:
There is something peculiar about modern British drunkenness, when you observe it close up. There is a quality of desperation, or hysteria, about it. The women shriek and scream in public, and no one laughs except at the top of his or her voice: it is as if everyone is trying to persuade everyone else what a good time they are having, the better to deceive themselves. A feeling of sadness overcomes the observer: these are people who do not know how to enjoy themselves and must therefore pretend.
The drunkenness has an ideological component as well. To lack social or personal inhibitions is to distinguish oneself from those poor, misguided older generations who believed that self-restraint, at least in public, was a virtue. What terrible harm all those inhibitions and ideas of self-respect did! Everyone knows that you have to let your hair down at frequent intervals, and that if you do not, you will harm your health and emotional well-being most terribly.
The young drunks in the centre of our towns and cities are not just drunk, they are triumphantly, ostentatiously drunk. They are celebrating the triumph of the egotistical lowest common denominator that has so thoroughly vanquished any idea that there is a higher and a lower, a better and a worse, in our culture.
The impotent police, who would once have arrested people behaving in like fashion, wander through scenes of drunken debauchery that all too often turn to violence, but do absolutely nothing about them. If by some miracle they did, there would be hundreds of thousands of arrests each night. The drunkenness of the masses in effect taunts them, and represents the liberation of modern man from the social inhibitions that make him a civilised being. The drunkenness in our streets is the victory of brute impulse over all refinement, of stupidity over intelligence; and those who drink in this fashion challenge the rest of us insolently to do something about it.
“To foreigners”, Dalrymple writes, “we are a nation that has lost all self-respect, that is charmless, brutal and stupid. They are right: we are barbarians, savages. If you think I exaggerate, visit the centre of any British town or city on a Saturday night”.
Thanks to my parents, I got just a taste of grown-up culture. How I long forlornly for its return.