Home / General / More on Douthat and “Decadence”

More on Douthat and “Decadence”


To supplememt djw, see Carmon, Mr. Bogg, Filipovic, and Bouie.

…and let us not forget Mssrs. Riley and Edroso.

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  • I always feel bad about getting riled up by Douthat — he’s clearly just fucking trolling liberals — but I do. This may not be his worst column evArone, but it may be his douche-iest.

    In short: Fuck him.

  • Don’t forget Doghouse Riley

    APOLOGIES for treading ground that Roy has already stomped much more efficiently, but yesterday, when my neighbor tossed the Times over the back fence it landed with such a resounding thud I knew I had to check out Douthat first thing.

    Reader, is there any question that the whole right-wing “birthrate” thing is the Anti-Fluoridationalism of the 21st century? The most hopelessly bent, the most recursively insane, the signature folly of a parade of fools? They can’t keep race out of it, the way their intellectual forebears couldn’t keep backwoods theology out of dental hygiene. They can’t keep Catholic theology out of it, even though most of ’em aren’t Catholic.

    They can’t quit talking about it. Which, y’know, to each his own kink

    • This.

      I assume that the proprietors assume that I already read Mr Riley regularly.

      “Don’t forget Doghouse Riley” is generally just good advice.

  • LosGatosCA

    Who will tire first? The morons in the Village that write such ridiculous trash or the DFH’s morally compelled to respond to their willful ignorance and inexhaustible stupidity?

    I’ll wait to see the half-time adjustments on star date 5943.7 before I can place my bet

  • STH

    Jebus protect us from these damn Catholics–if you’re having fun, you’re doing it wrong! Get down here and suffer with the rest of us like God intended! You must PAY–PAY I tell you!–for your nookie!

    So, Douthat must have the required 12 children by now, right? Surely he hasn’t been corrupted by this DECADENCE?!?

  • c u n d gulag

    To mock him, Ben & Jerry ought to introduce an ice-cream flavor named “Chunky Whitherspoon.”

    Only it’s be chunks of stuff and ice – but no cream.

    • c u n d gulag

      No, not “it’s” – ‘it’ll.’

      Haven’t finished that first cup of coffee yet.

      Y kent oui haz “Edit” pleeze?

  • bradP

    This second blog post convinced me there might be at least something interesting to read in the Doohat column.

    There wasn’t.

    How did you manage to generate 140 comments with that?

    • Murc

      You don’t find the window into the mind of right-wing theocrats who are trying to masquerade as worldly sophisticates interesting?

      Because I find it very interesting indeed, given how many of them there are.

      • DrDick

        Interesting? No. Amusing? Very.

    • rea

      Because it’s about sex?

    • JKTHs

      I just find it funny to read Brooks and Douthat for their mindless bullshit even if it’s not interesting.

  • tt

    Douthat has a tendency to bring out weird responses from progressives, but this response is weird even by that standard, given that I suspect zero of the five people mentioned in the OP disagree with any of the concrete policies Douthat endorses in his article. Douthat believes crazy shit! Catholicism is full of crazy shit! If they use it to justify banning abortion or contraception or gay marriage, do whatever is necessary to destroy them.

    If they use it to fight against the central goal of the modern conservative movement–redistribution of wealth upwards–not sure why progressives should get in the way.

    • Walt

      Because people take offense whey they are insulted? Is this news to you?

    • Take your pick, all of which are discussed thoroughly in the links:

      1. Douthat’s premise is blinkered, since the most obvious, efficient and beneficial policy response to the situation he bemoans is liberalizing immigration laws, which for some reason he does not mention.

      2. The framework Douthat uses to analyze the issue is surprise surprise incredibly misogynistic in that it treats the economic and reproductive agency of women as problematically “decadent”.

      3. The barely-mentioned policy proposals are ones that have been in political discourse since the 50s, and when Republicans don’t outright oppose them they use them as part of the politics of instilling economic and racial fear in the middle class. It’s an ollllld con.

      • tt

        Douthat is wrong about everything and the point of my comment was obviously not that he was right or that anything said by anyone at any of the links is wrong.

        But why jump in front of someone supporting good policies for bad reasons? There are lots of misogynists, racists, and people with absurd religious views in the US. Very few of them benefit from upward wealth redistribution. It is good for our politics to have them express their misogyny, racism, and religion in a way other than supporting upward wealth redistribution.

        • Uncle Kvetch

          But why jump in front of someone supporting good policies for bad reasons?

          As any number of people have pointed out, he’s not “supporting” those policies — he grudgingly acknowledges their existence and then waves them away so he can get to the real crux of the matter: “values,” and the lack thereof among the lower orders.

          If he really wanted to break with conservative orthodoxy and come out in support of Scandinavian-style family policies, what on earth would be the point of all that recycled Alan Bloom crap about “decadence” and “moral exhaustion”?

          Nodding in the direction of Sweden does nothing but show that he’s a Serious Thinker, not a doctrinaire wingnut…just like Brooks, he’s not like the crazies, he’s “one of the reasonable ones.” Faking left before veering right is straight out of the reasonable conservative playbook.

          Oh, and as long as I’m here…the totally gratuitous aside about gay marriage (one more manifestation of that ol’ moral exhaustion, we can only surmise) was a first class dickhead move. And that’s where Brooks and Douthat part company in my mind: the former is merely a pseudo-intellectual con artist and courtier to the elites who’s occasionally good for a laugh (especially when Charlie Pierce is doing the laughing). The latter is a loathsome prick.

          • tt

            If he really wanted to break with conservative orthodoxy and come out in support of Scandinavian-style family policies, what on earth would be the point of all that recycled Alan Bloom crap about “decadence” and “moral exhaustion”?

            The point is that he really believes it?

            And even if he doesn’t–if he’s playing a con–what is the con, exactly? That French/Swedish family policy will serve as a gateway drug luring lefty NYT readers to conservative Catholicism?

            I agree that Douthat’s role at the NYT is “Serious Thinker” social conservative, and that explains why he, and Brooks, occasionally talk about about inequality or European policies they favor. What I don’t get is why this is a bad thing. Given Douthat’s influence (i.e., zero with social liberals), making social conservative arguments for downward redistribution legitimizes redistributory social policy more than it advances social conservatism.

            • djw

              I simply can’t accept the premise that we should refrain from mocking lazy, creepy morons with the most prominent sinecure in the country for being lazy, creepy morons, because they occasionally half-heartedly endorse non-odious policies in some areas. That’s some serious soft bigotry of low expectations.

              • That’s some serious soft bigotry of low expectations.

                AKA a chunky spoon, withered.

            • STH

              Well, I don’t think that he does actually favor any family-friendly European policies. Can you imagine the screeching if we proposed something like paid leave for new fathers in the U.S.? Feminization of men! Subverting God-given gender roles! He just wants an excuse to be holier-than-thou about all us fornicatin’ non-Catholics.

  • TBP

    He’s certainly taking his lumps on this one, and deservedly so. Googling “Ross Douthat more babies” comes up with dozens of posts and articles about is editorial. Virtually none of them is positive; not even conservative sites.

    I’m sure he’ll manage to think of himself as the lone voice crying the wilderness, and not the lone crackpot outlier he really is.

    I know this question has been asked over and over, but how in the world did this guy get a column in the NYfreakin’Times, for Cthulhu’s sake?

    • Tyto

      Nepotism (yes, really).

  • Random

    “It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be.”

    Douthat just gave a decent definition of ‘social conservativism’ but labeled it ‘hedonism’. I guarantee that, no matter what, you could never shake him of the belief that centuries of maintaining the exact same inflexible social orders constitutes ‘innovation’. That he genuinely believes in this inversion, and that you could never argue him out of that belief, is probably the core defining feature of a social conservative.

  • synykyl

    The Times should be embarrassed for employing that buffoon.

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