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The Missing Link

June 1, 2020 (371 words)

My slow-but-steady march through Rich People Things: Real Life Secrets of the Predator Class, a book of social criticism originally published by Chris Lehmann in 2010, and followed the next year with an expanded edition, continues apace. Some things are meant to be savored, and should not be rushed.

So the other night I’m reading his short chapter on Ayn Rand, and come across the following:

“Nowhere in Rand’s baby-simple sociological narratives is there the slightest room for any deviationist lurch toward the acknowledgement of any shared good, or even notional communities of interest, that her angry, atomistic ideal-type characters might have in common with each other, let alone with society at large.

“In no other works of fiction, ironically enough, does the parodic mantra ascribed to the Beat Generation’s critiques of conformist culture – I blame society – apply with such complete, totalizing force.”

This passage nicely encapsulates Mr. Lehmann’s primary message: Rich people only look out for themselves and this undermines the social fabric.

His sentences are chock full of descriptive references. The descriptions may be a little dense at times, and the references a bit arcane. But if the general reader takes his or her time, and maybe re-reads certain sections once or twice, the beauty of Lehmann’s language should open up for any interested bystander.

Chris Lehmann is as entertaining as he is intelligent, and his perceptive analysis is a joy to read.

Though I am starting to wonder just what he considers to be the antidote. What does a bright and exuberant progressive-minded polemicist think is the restorative principle that can save our most successful citizens from their self-absorption?

He has half the problem nailed. In this tome he diagnoses and lays bare the fatal flaws in our founding philosophy of enlightened self-interest as it pertains to economic behavior.

But isn’t it the same philosophy of self-interest behind the progressive insistence we indulge our every whim in the realm of personal behavior, aka personal morality?

Will Mr. Lehmann one day choose to analyze how this “letting it all hang out” when it comes to sexual preferences and pursuits also undermines the fabric of our community, every bit as much as the inclination to avarice?

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr
June 1, 2020

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