Dieter: “Ve are Nihilists, Lebowski. Ve believe in nothing! Nothing!”
–Joel and Ethan Coen, “The Big Lebowski”
“And let us recognize above all the 228 who voted no — the authors of this revolt of the nihilists. They showed the world how much they detest their own leaders and the collected expertise of the Treasury and Fed.”
–David Brooks, “The Revolt of the Nihilists,” September 29, 2008
That’s David Brooks tearing his hair out yesterday over the failure of the bailout bill. It’s interesting that Brooks characterizes people who resist the idea of privatized profits and socialized loss as “nihilists.” If you’re not willing to let Brooks’ “new establishment” play with up to $700 billion in tax dollars, if you don’t offer up your wallet the moment an expert cries “crisis!”–why then, you must believe in nothing! Nothing at all!
Interesting, but maybe not all that surprising. Brooks is, after all, the architect of National Greatness Conservatism, the philosophy that says “American purpose can only find its voice in Washington.” Inside Washington: purpose, meaning, fulfillment–glory. Outside Washington: a vast and pitiless void. “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state,” as a prominent theorist of national greatness once put it.
David Brooks’s latest, a disquisition on the difference between ‘geeks’ and ‘nerds,’ is cringe-inducing throughout, the sort of chatty exercise in pointless faux-hipness that makes you long for the cool logic of Maureen Dowd and the mellifluous metaphors of Thomas Friedman, but it was the following sentence that nearly made me swear off reading entirely:
Barack Obama has become the Prince Caspian of the iPhone hordes.