‘What Do America’s College Students Want? They Want to Be Oppressed’
The psychological woes of the "The Wannabe Oppressed" are analyzed by Stanley Kurtz at NRO:
In his important new book, The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings, French intellectual gadfly Pascal Bruckner does the most thorough job yet of explaining the climate movement as a secular religion, an odd combination of deformed Christianity and reconstructed Marxism. (You can find Bruckner’s excellent article based on the book here.) Bruckner describes a historical process wherein “the long list of emblematic victims — Jews, blacks, slaves, proletarians, colonized peoples — was replaced, little by little, with the Planet.” The planet, says Bruckner, “has become the new proletariat that must be saved from exploitation.”
But why? Bruckner finds it odd that a “mood of catastrophe” should prevail in the West, the most well-off part of the world. The reason, I think, is that the only way to turn the prosperous into victims is to threaten the very existence of a world they otherwise command.
And why should the privileged wish to become victims? To alleviate guilt and to appropriate the victim’s superior prestige. In the neo-Marxist dispensation now regnant on our college campuses, after all, the advantaged are ignorant and guilty while the oppressed are innocent and wise. The initial solution to this problem was for the privileged to identify with “struggling groups” by wearing, say, a Palestinian keffiyeh. Yet better than merely empathizing with the oppressed is to be oppressed. This is the climate movement’s signal innovation.
But of course. In his new book, The United States of Paranoia, Jesse Walker of Reason magazine observed how easy it is for the proverbial blogger in his basement to feel like he’s in the command center with Ike and Churchill and Monty, leading the struggle against oppression:
Even if you set aside purely partisan fears, the 1990s, a time of relative peace and prosperity, were also a golden age of both frankly fictional and allegedly true tales of conspiracy. There are many reasons for this, including the not unsubstantial fact that even at its most peaceful, the United States is riven by conflicts. But there is also the possibility that peace breeds nightmares just as surely as strife does. The anthropologist David Graeber has argued that “it’s the most peaceful societies which are also the most haunted, in their imaginative constructions of the cosmos, by constant specters of perennial war.” The Piaroa Indians of Venezuela, he wrote, “are famous for their peaceableness,” but “they inhabit a cosmos of endless invisible war, in which wizards are engaged in fending off the attacks of insane, predatory gods and all deaths are caused by spiritual murder and have to be avenged by the magical massacre of whole (distant, unknown) communities.” Many middle-class bloggers leading comfortable lives spend their spare time in a similar subterranean universe.
See also: the guys from the Big Bang Theory, who believe that the Nobel Prize for scientific research is theirs for the asking, in between rounds of “Dungeons and Dragons” and Star Wars lightsaber duels.
Everybody, particularly when they’re young, wants to feel larger and greater than they are. The whole self-esteem movement in school is based on that assumption. Once they’re in college, is it any wonder that a kid playing guitar in a bar band thinks if he could just get that big break, he’d be the next Jimmy Page? The student filmmaker with a handheld 16mm camera is convinced that he’s the next Stanley Kubrick. A budding author is sure he’s the next Saul Bellow, etc. TV series such as Taxi and Fame were filled with people who were convinced that the big break was just around the corner and superstardom was theirs for the asking. Scorsese and DeNiro’s The King of Comedy was essientially the darker funhouse mirror version of the same obsession. And because so much of the left’s mythology is built on “the moral equivalence of war” and action for its own sake, and storming the barricades for chaaaaaange, maaaaan, of course global warming obsessives feel like they’re refighting either civil rights or World War II – the two analogies that Big Oil spokesman Al Gore swaps out in every speech he makes.
That in reality, the earth isn’t coming to an end just makes them feel more emboldened, like a Kennedy assassination theorist or 9/11 truther who's convinced that only he knows how big the conspiracy truly is. “You petty bourgeois people just can’t see it, can you? If you don’t turn off the lights in your kitchen, the world is doomed!”, to paraphrase NBC’s goofy message to its viewers in the middle of a nighttime professional football game.