Insights from Quadrant

The luxury of delusion

American writer, columnist and psychologist Rob Henderson is the chap who coined the term “luxury beliefs“, which he explains in a few words as the ruinous, status-related abstractions arising from “new-fangled ideas that are often born in elite universities and inculcated throughout the world”. Think here of men can be women if they say so, wind turbines will keep the world running, and anyone white has enjoyed enormous privilege from the moment of conception.

The decidedly unprivileged Henderson, who is of Asian descent and was abused and abandoned as a small child to foster homes and state care, has just published a coming of age memoir, Troubled, which is drawing some interesting reviews.  Here are a couple of paragraphs from an appreciative Substack blogger who goes by name of Holly MathNerd:

…I haven’t been able to stop thinking about one aspect of this book: the extent to which dishonesty is entirely normalized in our society among the elite. The luxury classes people pretend to believe that marriage doesn’t matter, but very few of them have children out of wedlock. They pretend to believe that fat-shaming is a serious moral affront, while they spend a fortune on organic food and personal trainers to keep themselves fit and trim. They pretend to believe many things that their lives betray they don’t actually believe at all. It’s easy to think that most of them are just going along with the crowd and don’t realize they’re lying, but the truth is that most of them do know…

…Dishonesty is so normalized that this kind of performative fragmentation—signaling that one believes certain things while acting as if one believes other things—may eventually be recognized as a marker of intelligence and proper preparation for class climbing (or class maintenance, if one starts off in that class).

Adds Australia’s Helen Dale at Law & Liberty:

[Troubled] captures the extent to which the activist output of universities is not, in any useful sense, about making things work. It pretends to be at some grandiose moral level but is nothing of the sort. Instead, clever people who’ve never had a difficult day in their lives get to parade their piety, while the Rob Hendersons … are left to sink out of sight.

Except Henderson didn’t sink, defying both the unfortunate circumstances of his childhood and the smug expectations of the elite. If any Quadrant readers are seeking a good book for idle hours and the comfy chair, Troubled fits the bill very well indeed.

— roger franklin.

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