New Yorker writer finds the Cajun Navy troubling

As most of the nation celebrates the volunteerism so evident in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a sense of disquiet seems to be afoot among fans of Big Government.  People who spontaneously organize impressive responses might make the public feel as though government doesn't have all the answers, and that self-reliance beats waiting for the government to solve their problems.  Why, that's troubling.

Something like this mental process must have prompted New Yorker editor David Remnick to greenlight this article, titled "Why does American need the Cajun Navy?"  Benjamin Wallace-Wells (you already guessed the author would have a hyphenated last name, didn't you?) writes:

[T]he stories of the storm are consolidating, much as they did following the floods last year in Baton Rouge, around the failures of the government's preparations and response to the disaster, and the successes of private individuals' rescue efforts. 

It's just not fair for government to be the butt of criticism.  Especially because:

Behind everything, escalating the stakes, is the willful ignorance of climate change that many local and national political leaders still cling to. In contrast to this, the actions of the Cajun Navy and other groups are celebrated. The heroism of the boaters is so vivid and so moving that it obscures the most important question about them: Why are they so needed in the first place?

I am sure readers have already guessed the answer to that question: mean old conservatives and Republicans have prevented the government from protecting us.

In the worldview of the New Yorker, government is the natural default source of protection:

There is a cyclic pattern to the erosion of faith in government, in which politics saps the state's capacity to protect people, and so people put their trust in other institutions (churches; self-organizing volunteer navies), and are more inclined to support anti-government politics. The stories of the storm and the navies exist on a libertarian skeleton. Through them, a particular idea of how society might be organized is coming into view.

It is evidently a bad thing that people put their trust in churches and the volunteer enterprises like the Cajun Navy, because they sap resources and trust that naturally belongs to The State.  It doesn't sound as though Mr. Wallace-Wells or his editors are very fond of that "particular idea of society" in which autonomous citizens make their own decisions and take care of themselves without state intervention in their lives.  It's the "Libertarian Skeleton," and it's here in time for Halloween. 

As most of the nation celebrates the volunteerism so evident in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, a sense of disquiet seems to be afoot among fans of Big Government.  People who spontaneously organize impressive responses might make the public feel as though government doesn't have all the answers, and that self-reliance beats waiting for the government to solve their problems.  Why, that's troubling.

Something like this mental process must have prompted New Yorker editor David Remnick to greenlight this article, titled "Why does American need the Cajun Navy?"  Benjamin Wallace-Wells (you already guessed the author would have a hyphenated last name, didn't you?) writes:

[T]he stories of the storm are consolidating, much as they did following the floods last year in Baton Rouge, around the failures of the government's preparations and response to the disaster, and the successes of private individuals' rescue efforts. 

It's just not fair for government to be the butt of criticism.  Especially because:

Behind everything, escalating the stakes, is the willful ignorance of climate change that many local and national political leaders still cling to. In contrast to this, the actions of the Cajun Navy and other groups are celebrated. The heroism of the boaters is so vivid and so moving that it obscures the most important question about them: Why are they so needed in the first place?

I am sure readers have already guessed the answer to that question: mean old conservatives and Republicans have prevented the government from protecting us.

In the worldview of the New Yorker, government is the natural default source of protection:

There is a cyclic pattern to the erosion of faith in government, in which politics saps the state's capacity to protect people, and so people put their trust in other institutions (churches; self-organizing volunteer navies), and are more inclined to support anti-government politics. The stories of the storm and the navies exist on a libertarian skeleton. Through them, a particular idea of how society might be organized is coming into view.

It is evidently a bad thing that people put their trust in churches and the volunteer enterprises like the Cajun Navy, because they sap resources and trust that naturally belongs to The State.  It doesn't sound as though Mr. Wallace-Wells or his editors are very fond of that "particular idea of society" in which autonomous citizens make their own decisions and take care of themselves without state intervention in their lives.  It's the "Libertarian Skeleton," and it's here in time for Halloween. 

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