Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Devil Made Me Lose It

Welfare states have existed for long periods of time without the development of a modern underclass. The missing factor was ideas.

Human behavior cannot be explained without referring to the meaning and intentions people give to what they do and do not do. Everyone has a world view, whether they realize it or not.

And their ideas are the source of their misery.

Their ideas are revealed in the language they use, in the frequent remarks of passivity, for example. An alcoholic, explaining their conduct while drunk, will say, "The beer went crazy." A heroin addict, explaining their resort to the needle, will say, "Heroin's everywhere." The beer drank the alcoholic and the heroin injected the addict.

Other remarks serve an exculpatory function and reveal a denial of agency and therefore of personal responsibility. The murderer claims the knife went in or the gun went off. The person who attacks their sexual consort claims that they "went into a rage" or "lost it", as if they were the victim of a kind of epilepsy of which it is the doctor's duty to cure them. Until the cure, they can continue to abuse their consort, for such abuse has advantages for them, safe in the knowledge that they, not their consort, are the true victim.

from Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass, by Theodore Dalrymple