Andrew O’Hehir dons the persona of the college Marxist to write a perceptive piece on the link between the demise of adulthood and our economic condition.
This fundamental confusion and ambivalence reflects a deep-seated blind spot, I would argue, one that’s endemic to the culture-vulture trade. Scott carefully anatomizes the trees but misses the forest, or to speak more precisely ignores the condition of the soil. There really is something beneath his “death of adulthood” premise, whether or not you like the prejudicial phrase. But to coin a phrase: It’s the economy, stupid. Scott’s essay appears to treat “culture” as a sealed and self-referential system, one that shapes and reflects human consciousness but has only an incidental relationship with economic, political and social factors that lie outside its purview. We have moved so far from the old Marxist view of culture as an ideological “superstructure” erected upon the economic base of society that we now pretend it’s an entirely autonomous force, or a mystical-cum-psychological shadow play that gives “human shape to our collective anxieties and aspirations,” in Scott’s phrase.