Thursday, March 08, 2012

Book Rec - The Bluest State

The The Bluest State is a terrific book about the horrible place I grew up in. And I especially recommend it for anyone who's ever *done any time* in the People's Republic of Massachusetts.

The author refers to the bad guys as *Boomer Liberals* even though as far as I'm concerned, and as he admits, he is in fact one himself.

I didn't expect to take any notes on this one so I was without paper and No. 2 pencil when I sat down to read it. Consequently there are no less than about 20 pages dog-eared!

But I'm only going to type up one little excerpt:

Years later, Googling the slogan, I found the consensus meaning of "The personal is political": the "broad texture and character" of our personal lives are not a result of our personalities and life choices, but are "defined by the broader political and social setting." We are what a corrupt political system makes us, and thus we suffer from "a totality of oppressions." It's a wonder, given Hanisch's depressing no-exit spin on this, that we even get out of bed.

But my peers in Cambridge didn't have quite the same gloomy, humbling take on it. "The personal is political" was a slogan from heaven for my generation, endowed with limitless self-esteem by our parents, instinctively understanding that the center of the universe looks back at us from the mirror every morning. We took it as a green light to let our gut feelings and personal biases - often mistaken for moral principles - dictate our civic behavior. We used it to justify a new brand of politics that valued personal identity over communal interests, all the while insisting they were one and the same. Widespread protests in the streets of Cambridge during the spring of 1970 were described as antiwar, but they were really a convention of grievances from feminists to anti-Zionists and everything in between. The uniform of choice that spring was a T-shirt with a red fist on the back, a generic but satisfyingly defiant symbol. Exotic concepts of discrimination with made-up names like "lookism," and "heteronorming" got their start from "The personal is political" and its comforting premise that if you believe strongly enough in your own oppression, just as the children in Peter Pan believed in fairies, it must be real.

That just about describes all of my Mass Boomer uncles and my father to a "T". Every time I see them they are complaining about a *totality of oppressions*!

Never, and I mean never, do they ever convey the outlandish notion that, perhaps(!), they themselves have any responsibility for or any control over whatever the particular grief is.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm ... I'm a boomer and never heard that term, "totality of oppressions." Maybe we have a different catch phrase out here on the left coast.

Seriously, history will soon pass its judgement on my generation and I expect it will be severe.

But do beware: it's not just boomers afflicted with the symptoms you describe!

CaptiousNut said...

Not just Boomers?

Oh yeah, it's the children raised by Boomers too!

Anonymous said...

>>Oh yeah, it's the children raised by Boomers too!

No, as much as I'd like to blame the fools in my generation for _everything_, that's not the totality of it. (Ugh, there's that phrase.)

A very large fraction of the younger people I encounter seem to be quite sensible. They make me think it's not all lost after all. And they were definitely raised by ... boomers.