This book was an unexpected surprise, and well worth recommending to our readers. Read on to find out why.
This is quick read by a newer writer in the mix being described as “the Ann Coulter of Millennials.” In it, the author briefly covers the evidence that Western Civilization is dying, how leftist professors of the Boomer generation contributed to it, and boomer conservative pundits, the immigration problem, the specific clash of Islam with Western Civilization roots, how Millennials also made the problem worse, and what we all need to do to save Western Civilization.
The brief synopsis of political party history is particularly interesting because it digs into the origins of the neocons on the Republican side, giving a good answer for questions we’ve raised here previously.
- General knowledge, or highly specific? General. Consists mainly of opinions on trending news and US current event themes of the last several years.
- Level of Detail? Medium. A light and quick read, but gives citations to heavier academic sources when appropriate.
- Readability? Great; 5 out of 5. Easy reading, entertaining tone, stays away from heavy analysis.
- Immediate Usefulness? Low. This is a book to get if you’d like to have some fresh ideas about why the US is culturally struggling as it is today.
- Overall Rating? 5 out of 5. Worth every penny. About 8o pages total, can be read in less time than a typical movie. Good insight from author. Citations lead to more in depth coverage of topics if needed.
You may have seen generation bashing competitions popping up in some web areas where folks discuss how the USA has gone so horribly wrong. Commenters will say Millennials are lazy, Boomers are selfish, and the Greatest Generation is amazing.
Stereotyping a generation doesn’t answer many questions though. No generation exists in a vacuum. How did Boomers give rise to Millennials? What is it about their parenting methods in general, and their activities in society, that produced the Millennial generation with all of its shortcomings and strengths? And while most folks like to heap praise on the Greatest Generation, how did they mold the Boomer generation? How were their mistakes rooted in the generation before that, even?
Asking these questions does get at some interesting answers about the trajectory of the culture, but that’s a subject for another post.
Yet the author of Barbarians, Lauren Southern, doesn’t leave a feeling of heaping blame on a particular generation, which is refreshing. Rather, she explores the growth of political ideology with a climax occurring in the adulthood of the Boomers. Her criticism of the Boomers on both sides of politics is phrased as “The Tenured Hippies” and “The Think-Tank Fogies.”
Lauren Southern explains that on the left in the universities, the previous generation of professors fell in love with communism and out of love with religion. Their teaching gave rise to the Boomer left, the New Left, which pushed the old guard out of the universities. The New Left in universities is most of the hyper-PC professors teaching there today. The old guard had stopped teaching the hard virtues of the West, and the New Left that rose to replace them as the Boomers reached adulthood were the chaotic result, now teaching the next generation to come. The New Left in the professor ranks is the result of the long (successful) march of communism through the institutions. The old guard opened the door, and the New Left is what came in.
On the right, the author takes time to explain the roots of the “Never Trump” movement amongst older conservatives. Simply put, the neocons defined the brand of conservatism that despised Trump. But where did the neocons come from? They are the standard bearers for the ideology of the old guard, which was pushed out of the universities by the New Left. Neocon is short for “neoconservative,” with the prefix “neo-” highlighting that they were different from those older (and truer) conservatives. They are the folks who opposed Barry Goldwater, and tend to love the idea of a large and powerful technocratic government by experts.
“They weren’t so much interested in converting to the right as in running away from the left, co-opting the right, and remaking it in their image.”
The neocons then began the purge of stronger conservative views and sanitizing of conservative publications by “writing out” or kicking out everyone to the right of themselves, a shift that became dominant by the Reagan era but became more absolute in recent years. When the Boomer children of these first neocons came of age, they formed the backbone of today’s Never Trump movement. Many of the names you’d recognize from conservative writing today had parents active in the previous generation of political writing.
The neocon angle combined with the “boomer riding on parents’ coattails” angle does much to explain the deep divide in the Republican party today. McCain is openly neocon, and if they are essentially light leftists kicked out by the hard left, that explains the love for big global government and all powerful security forces which is so contrary to founding American ideals.
In the chapter on Millennials, the author gives a good explanation for the current cultural malignancy of Social Justice Warriors, quoting the work of some PhD psychiatrists.
Today’s SJW’s fall into two, mutually reinforcing and equally toxic camps: PC Authoritarians and PC egalitarians.
The authoritarians include those SJW’s with truly clinical levels of mental behavioral disorders. The self esteem-reinforcing public education system and parenting raised a generation with childlike mental faculties who go into true meltdowns when reality does not conform to their ideals. Here you find all the pathology of extreme narcissism and the underdeveloped amygdala.
The PC egalitarians on the other hand have high verbal intelligence and empathy; good traits by themselves. But they lack judgment and basically step in as a mothering figure to the authoritarian crowd. Thus, they cannot believe the authoritarians could do any wrong, and any who object are just haters. They rationalize and defend the authoritarians’ behavior, which only leads to more of the same. You could call this the bleeding heart of the left, or the misplaced heart of a generation of women who took the advice of feminism and skipped child-rearing but are now belatedly living out those natural mothering urges.
The author makes the case that nationalism is the antidote to what ails the West, and so supporting Trump and other nationalist movements might still save our civilization. SJW’s and Neoconservatives are opposed, but the rise of Trump shows the hardline group of the traditional right who’ve had no outlet for several decades, coupled with the younger folks who have no respect for the hypocrisy on both sides of the political aisle.
The citations to more in-depth work have added perhaps four weightier books to my reading pile.
Lastly, I must highlight how entertaining this book was. The author makes several comical jabs against critics and opponents; jabs which caused my to laugh out loud. Some of the zingers that would really sting the target add a citation to a news article, suggesting a basis in reality for the well-phrased zingers. This isn’t simple name-calling, but satirically calling something (or someone) according to the most embarrassing features.
Because the writing is light, the pages turn quickly. I didn’t set a stopwatch, but probably finished this book in little over an hour. It gave me some great laughs. It gave me some solid points to ponder. It gave me some recommended reading for further study. Those are all things which far longer books often fail to give the reader.
Altogether, it was well worth the cover price and I’m glad I took the chance to try this newer writer. I’ll definitely have an eye out for future books by Lauren Southern.