The New York Times will sometimes let writers come pretty close to realism, but only to a certain depth. When it comes to talking about causes, the paper’s standards of coherence and apt evidence disappear. The job, after all, is to make nonsense out of what might otherwise make deep and dangerous sense.
To wit, consider the wildly irrational op-ed by Bianca Vivion Brooks on “the cycle of waste and consumerism” in today’s paper-of-record.
According to Ms. Brooks, the world is in deep trouble from booming material waste because of defects in “our collective desire for goods and services.” And these defects, Ms. Brooks asserts, arise from us ourselves:
[T]he accumulation of things is still at the essence of what it means to be American. Ownership of property and the gospel of prosperity are so deeply tied to our ideas of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that few seem willing to renounce the materialism that lies at the core of our national identity.
That, of course, is at least highly debatable.
Brooks certainly provides no reference(s) to support the claim, nor does the NYT require such things, apparently.
Meanwhile, Brooks, who says she’s still in her twenties, seems unacqainted with any careful, classic criticisms of capitalism, so perhaps we can excuse her sloppy speculation. But, as her piece shows, this “consumer culture” stuff is damned toxic to realistic thought.
Brooks concludes that it is high time for us to “reassess our relationship to things.” The problem, of course, is our relationship to one another.
At this late date, in our corporate media ecology, it remains all but forbidden to describe these pertinent relationships.