From Sandy’s War in National Review by Kevin Williamson:

The disastrously unsuccessful social experiment of the early 21st century has been attempting to substitute hundreds or thousands of superficial and transitory instant relationships for genuine community and family, which require time and a different kind of effort to cultivate. Like Fromm’s medieval burghers, they live in a time of uncertainty and status anxiety, and so they seek big, important things to which to attach themselves: big crowds on social media, big crises in politics. Which is to say, the passionate and fanatical denunciation of “climate deniers” or billionaires or Mike Pence’s wife is only the Instagram photo of the braised beef cheeks at Hunky Dory in political disguise: consumption that literally could not be more conspicuous.

Eric Hoffer, author of The True Believer, offered observations similar to those of Fromm, linking what would become the two most powerful forces in our community life today: glory and hatred:

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.

“Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” is, at 16 syllables, a mouthful. The day before yesterday, she was “Sandy,” a pleasant-seeming young woman who liked to dance, worked in a bar, worried about her family, and chafed that her advantages and elite education (Boston University shares Case Western’s academic ranking and is significantly more expensive than Princeton: Is there a more appropriate preparation for life in Washington?) left her struggling, obscure, and unsatisfied. And so she set after glory and personal significance in politics, to which she is relatively new — the hatreds and grievances she dotes on are obvious enough and familiar enough that one assumes she has been in possession of those for some time. They are not newly acquired.


This reminds me of a the General Bethlehem character played by Will Patton in the Postman (Kevin Costner).  The General is a brutal tyrant who pretends to bring great meaning to the lives of his men. Before the apocalypse he was a copy machine repairman.

from my 2011 post about Hayek, Why The Worst Get on Top:

The “docile and gullible” with no strong convictions will be swayed with a simplistic ready-made system that appeals to this common denominator. The final ingredient is that tendency to focus more on a negative program than any positive task. The “us and them” mentality flourishes in this planned environment.  At its worst it created the virulent anti-Semitism that Hayek was viewing; but its far less virulent exhibition is the class warfare mentality we currently witness.

Perhaps this explains how some of the intellectually vacuous have risen into national leadership positions. But Hayek’s analysis should be fair warning to the many intelligent who think “they” can plan a better economy or a better “health care system” than the market.  The eventual need for raw power to enforce the common ends that such planning requires will betray the very democratic principles many planners hold so dear.