In response to Are we breeding a generation of deluded narcissists?:
David, it’s interesting you should mention narcissism as a prominent factor in the mindset of the current generation. It would seem to conflict with the entitlement and victim mentalities you also mentioned, but they’re all blended together into a spirit of collective narcissism, leavened with doses of paranoia and despair. I think it goes something like this:
1. We are all special butterflies who deserve everything.
2. Making stern demands of people is cruel.
3. Good people should never suffer from random misfortune – ranging from illness to job loss, or even the failure of entrepreneurial risk.
4. Special interests are so powerful that even the biggest government in the history of the world remains the underdog in battle against them. What chance do individuals have against something like that?
5. Therefore, our self-regard can only be expressed collectively – we must support even larger, more powerful, and more virtuous government with all of our hearts, because we see our own noble spirit reflected within it. And, as a happy side benefit, when the State does everything of consequence, it’s easier to be indolent without guilt.
I’ve often wondered how much the Nineties Cult of Self-Esteem contributed to all this, as it aggressively pushed the notion that respect (and the attendant material benefits) are deserved, rather than earned. You don’t hear gregarious Renaissance men wasting a lot of time bleating about what they “deserve.”