Friday, January 01, 2016

The problem of individualistic parents

The drama over Ethan Couch, the Texas teen whose drunken driving accident killed several people parked in a disabled SUV by the side of the road, began when the Herd found out that he had used an "affluenza" defense in court. His attorneys argued that his parents had induced in him a sense of irresponsibility through wealth.

The big media and talking heads have turned this story into a revenge narrative of anti-affluence bigotry, but underneath the many layers, some interesting material emerges. Ethan Couch had a troubled upbringing because his parents were individualists. Like Baby Boomers tend to be (his father was born in 1965 and his mother 1967) they were individualists, or people for whom there was no higher obligation than the self, and their jobs/shopping, of course.

When Fred and Tonya Couch divorced in 2006, the court ordered psychological evaluations of both parents and Ethan, their only child.

You can tell a news story will be non-stop lugubrious when it launches into such a narrative. It no longer squares with the Narrative, which started back in 1789 when illiterate French peasants decided that their problem was not their own incompetence, but that their leaders had not saved them from themselves. That Narrative continues today because most people are still incompetent, and still want someone to blame for their own dysfunction. Ethan's parents blamed each other. This is a symptom of the classic case of narcissism that currently blights the West, brought on by the legalized individualism of 1789.

He said that his wife, now 48, was addicted to Vicodin and had given the painkiller to their son about five times. She also kept his bed in her room and considered him to be her "protector."

Tonya Couch said the marriage ended because her husband had been verbally and physically abusive. She said there was daily name-calling, that he often grabbed her by the hair and that he once "threw her into a fireplace."

Ethan Couch said his parents had always "yelled at each other a lot," and he wished that they "wouldn't put him in the middle."

They put him in the middle. Every Generation X kid can identify with this situation: your parents are both selfish, narcissistic and withdrawn because of their individualism; to them, others exist for the pleasure of the parent. That includes spouses and children. As a result, they cannot achieve anything resembling love and instead live through a series of dependency relationships.

The social worker for Ethan Couch wrote that his parents had "adultified" Ethan by forcing him to become involved in adult issues and decisions. This is also typical of Baby Boomers: instead of raising children, they controlled them, and the biggest method of that control was to, instead of offering parental advice, ask their children what they wanted. How does a child answer the question "If me and your Mom split, and I hate her, where do you want to live?" -- the answer is that he probably wants to fucking die.

Ethan Couch undoubtedly became a horror. His parents made this horror, but what made the parents? Individualism, the consequence of The Enlightenment.™ When you tell people that they are responsible to themselves alone, and that social order builds around that fundamentally divisive idea, they stop caring about the consequences of their acts. They become non-accountable and irresponsible, and if given money, they are even more abusive.

This makes the real "affluenza" story not so much about the affluence, but the psychological dysfunction that has become "normal" in the West since liberalism fully took over in 1968. Narcissistic parents make desperate, suicidal and drugged zombies out of their children. While all the morons are busy hating the rich, the real story here is how much we hate ourselves.

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