Saturday, May 26

Gay elite leftist (faux conservative) says the opioid crisis is essentially your fault



Andrew Sullivan describes himself as a "gay Catholic conservative."  Conservative?  Not even close. He's written for Time, The Atlantic and then The Daily Beast, and is one of the thousands of fake conservatives who keep the label to get paying jobs with liberal publications who want to prove that they're really ever-so-reasonable and unbiased.  He's a left-wing fruit-loop, married to a man, but has a huge body of published work, almost certainly due to the faux-conservative-working-for-liberal-rags position just explained.

Sullivan is certainly a good writer, great imagery.  My objection is to his lack of intellectual rigor.  In other words, his reasoning sucks.  I'll point out specific examples below.

Last February Sullivan wrote a piece for New York Magazine on the "opioid crisis."

There's no question that opioid overdose is killing far too many people--estimates are that opioids of all types will kill 52,000 Americans this year .  But Sullivan's position--which seems to echo the position of liberals and Democrats nationwide--is that the deaths are the fault of a) capitalism; b) layoffs; c) lack of face-to-face human interaction; d) giant corporations in general; e) big Pharma in particular; f) overworked doctors trying to see too many patients; g) greedy doctors becoming "pill merchants"; you get the idea.

In fact, these overdose deaths are the fault of...wait for it... everyone except the people who're using the stuff.  Hmmm, who could have guessed that?  Free will has nothing to do with anything.  We're all pawns, mere cogs in a cruel, all-powerful machine.
The scale and darkness of this phenomenon is a sign of a civilization in a more acute crisis than we knew, a nation overwhelmed by a warp-speed, postindustrial world, a culture yearning to give up, indifferent to life and death, enraptured by withdrawal and nothingness. America, having pioneered the modern way of life, is now in the midst of trying to escape it.
Now I'll readily admit that America almost certainly looks far, far different to a fit, healthy former jet pilot living in a low-stress, low-traffic college town in flyover country than to some poor whiny 20-something who refuses to get a job (or start, say, his own lawnmowing biz).  But wow..."a culture yearning to give up"??  "Indifferent to life and death"?  "Enraptured by...nothingness"??  WTF??

Gosh, project much, there, buddy?

He finds it significant
...that the drugs now conquering America are downers: They are not the means to engage in life more vividly but to seek a respite from its ordeals.
Ah, we may yet have some common ground.  If someone is in chronic physical pain, I can readily understand why any relief would be welcome--even death.  So is that what he means by "seek a respite from its ordeals"?  No.  And in the very next sentence he elaborates:
The alkaloids that opioids contain have a large effect on the human brain because they tap into our natural “mu-opioid” receptors. The oxytocin we experience from love or friendship or orgasm is chemically replicated by the molecules derived from the poppy plant. It’s a shortcut — and an instant intensification — of the happiness we might ordinarily experience in a good and fruitful communal life. It ends not just physical pain but psychological, emotional, even existential pain.
Ah...an "instant intensification of the happiness we might ordinarily experience in a good and fruitful communal life."  But wait--didn't he just say in the immediately preceding sentence that opoiods "are NOT the means to engage in life more vividly...."?  Gosh, it doesn't seem like "instant intensification of the happiness we might ordinarily experience in a good and fruitful communal life" is the same thing at all, eh?

That's what I meant by goofy reasoning.  First of many.

One of the many things Sullivan blames for drug addiction is industrialization.
As small armies of human beings were lured from their accustomed rural environments, with traditions and seasons and community, and thrown into vast new industrialized cities, the psychic stress gave opium an allure not even alcohol could match.
But wait--in the very next 'graf he says DEindustrialization is to blame:
If industrialization caused an opium epidemic, deindustrialization is no small part of what’s fueling our opioid surge.
Gosh, which is it, Andy?  It almost sounds like anything and everything caused this plague.  Well, everything except personal choices.  See, we're all just pawns...

He eventually throws in--without qualifiers--"Stable family life has collapsed."  Yeah, I don't doubt that in the northeast or Chicago or Atlanta or Memphis that's probably a real problem.  Here in flyover country that hasn't hit so much yet.  Hard to say why.

Oh wait, this may be it:
Meaning — once effortlessly provided by a more unified and often religious culture— is harder to find, and the proportion of Americans who identify as [having] no religious affiliation, has risen to record levels.
He notes that "a sense of...spiritual emptiness has become widespread."

So if one of the causes of the opioid epidemic is lack of meaning--wait, he didn't say "lack," just that it's harder to find-- could that possibly, possibly have any connection to the fact that the nation has fewer religious ties than ever?  Naw, surely there can't be a connection.

If you're not yet convinced that the problem is intrinsic to American society, try this: "The American project always left an empty center of collective meaning."

Yes, yes, I see it now:  "The American project" always left "an empty center."  That accounts for our longstanding lethargy, and explains why foreigners always head for China or Russia or Cuba, but so rarely try to come here.  They sense the same problem Sullivan so deftly identifies.

Another of Sullivan's observations: "The core habit of bourgeois life — deferred gratification — has lost its grip on the American soul."  You may well think "deferred gratification" is a good thing, since it's the logic that spurs people to work harder today instead of playing video games or getting high, in the belief that working now--delaying gratification--will pay off down the road. 

This just shows how unsophisticated you are, citizen!  You need to understand that in the clever code of the "elites," "bourgeois" is a subtle insult.  As Marx saw it, those in that class needed to be killed when the glorious revolution came.

But wait--in the sentence just before this he says "Addiction...to work...is all around us."  But if the old virtue of "deferred gratification has lost its grip on the American soul" it's clear that at least those people aren't all that addicted to work, eh?  So which is it?   Doesn't matter--Sullivan wants to condemn America for both alleged faults.  Cover all the bases, so to speak.

So yeah, as an unsophisticated resident of flyover country, I don't see the same America Sullivan does.  Certainly I know people here who've been so depressed and others who've been addicted to damn near everything.  But it also seems to me that some percentage of people commit suicide every year anyway, whether by handgun or running the car in the garage or...drugs.  And when someone is determined to commit suicide, I don't see how you can prevent it.

If a drug addict won't stop for parents or siblings or other family, what makes anyone think they'll give it up for someone unrelated?  It seems so unlikely. 

Finally, ignoring whether it's possible to get more than one percent of addicts to quit before they otherwise would, is there a fix for the easy availability of heroin and fentanyl?  I think so.  But no one in this country wants to do it.  So guess we'll just be treated to an endless parade of guys like Sullivan telling us it's all America's fault.

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