Sunday, September 4, 2011

Margaret Mead Dismissed

    Margaret Mead's analysis of the American family belongs to that category of social criticism which attacks arrangements already on the wane, disguising as independent, somewhat cantankerous and unpopular judgments what in many ways amounts to an apology for the emerging order. Such criticism boldly defends views that have become acceptable to everyone except the most hardened reactionaries. Mead's attack on jealousy and passion gave support to one of the strongest currents in modern society. Her plea for sexual realism—for what has recently been referred to as "cool sex"—represented not so much a demand for change as the description of a change in attitudes that had already come into being. As for her indictment of Momism and of the excessive influence of parents, the collapse of parental influence has rendered such "criticism" innocuous—indeed, has created a considerable demand for it in a country where defense of an emerging status quo usually takes the form of urgent calls for sweeping reform.
Christopher Lasch, from Haven in a Heartless World.

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