This progressive belief in the nobility of childhood led to a higher regard for the positive attributes of childhood: innocence, unrestrained emotion, bluntness in speech, immodesty, playfulness and creativity. The celebration of these traits led in turn to their increase in progressive adult society.
This progressive belief in the nobility of childhood led to a higher regard for the positive attributes of childhood: innocence, unrestrained emotion, bluntness in speech, immodesty, playfulness and creativity. The celebration of these traits led in turn to their increase in progressive adult society. Who can deny these childish trends in modern America? The striving for adult innocence helped produce the Beat character archetype typified by the hippies and the new agers. Unrestrained emotion is ubiquitous: it’s the hallmark of punk rockers, leftist activists and almost everyone on television. Compare the refined speech of a century ago with today’s discourse and you’ll see a serious encroachment of potty mouth in the public square. Today’s PG-13 rating would have been X-rated in our grandparents’ time – had they any need for such ratings. The increased playfulness and creativity of modern society are positive, but are often sabotaged by narcissism.
Meanwhile, a lower regard for the traditionally positive adult traits of politeness, modesty, patience and dependability – the difficult and boring aspects of maturity that children must learn to become adults – has led to their decline in progressive America. What used to be called common courtesy is becoming quaint and scarce. Modern Americans not only seek but get instant gratification; they use credit cards to buy things with money that is yet to be earned. Today’s hooray-for-me celebrations in the end zone would have embarrassed football players a couple of generations ago. Yet the quiet heroism of parents showing up for work day after day after day is forgotten.
From a traditional perspective, the positive attributes of childhood are wonderful in children. A modicum of them may be pleasant in adults; a blunt and forthright manner tempered by a good heart can be endearing. But grownups with the traits of children? – not a good thing.
Not coincidentally, negative attributes of childhood like narcissism and reflexive rebelliousness characterize progressive culture.
Not coincidentally, negative attributes of childhood like narcissism and reflexive rebelliousness characterize progressive culture. Narcissism flowers under newthink. The progressive motto seems to be, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but why it hasn’t done more.” Progressives are always rebelling against something; it’s in their cognitive DNA. As we will see, rebellion is a fundamental feature of newthink: its society metaphor defines society as a battlefield and social interaction as war. But newthinkers are also prone to rebellion because of their affinity to childishness. They are rebels perpetually in search of a cause.
America has not yet widely assimilated some of newthink’s unconscious beliefs. However, they logically exist as branches of the newthink worldview tree and therefore can be treated as predictions of the future direction of progressivism. For instance, the sub-beliefs, “Adults should have no special authority” and “Adults are arrogant to think they are wiser than children,” are just little buds on a branch. But buds have a tendency to grow. For example, some hippies tended to abdicate parental authority while raising their children. It’s a trend that may increase in progressive society.
The rise of modern America’s youth culture correlates with the rise of this unconscious belief in childhood nobility. Newthinking youth tends to reject the authority of adults. As yippie Jerry Rubin said in the 1960s, “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.”