Does This Philosopher's 30-Year-Old Observation Explain the Current Social Upheaval?

Annie Holmquist | January 19, 2017

Does This Philosopher's 30-Year-Old Observation Explain the Current Social Upheaval?

The last couple of years have been marked by numerous outbreaks of violence, demands and protests, and in general, great social unrest and upheaval.


For those who have watched life unravel around them, such unrest can be confusing, causing many to sit back and wonder why we continue to experience such troublesome explosions.


There are certainly many factors contributing to this problem, but one in particular struck me with great force while reading Professor Allan Bloom’s explanation of what went on in the 1960s. Although the sixties were known for upheavals of all kinds, one in particular sticks out and is known today as “the sexual revolution.”


But as Bloom goes on to note, unlike previous revolutions, the sexual revolution had a new component which kept it firing on all cylinders: 


“The practices of the late Roman empire were promoted with the moral fervor of early Christianity and the political idealism of Robespierre. Such a combination is, of course, impossible. It is playacting, a role, and the students knew it. But that haunting sentiment was assuaged by the fact that this was the first revolution made for TV. They were real because they could see themselves on television. All the world had become a stage, and they were playing leads.


If the sexual revolution was indeed propped up by the presence of television, then what must we think of today when we cannot only see ourselves on “TV,” but have the power to actually place ourselves on it through the use of our smartphones and handy little tools like YouTube and Facebook Live?


Has such power helped fuel the revolutionary tendencies and social unrest which we see breaking out every few weeks across the country?


Is it possible that a major driving factor of the upheaval—perhaps the primary factor—is the little device in our pockets, which can be used to draw attention to one’s self (or cause), affirming one’s sense of purpose and meaning?



Image Credit: Nathan Keirn http://bit.ly/1jxQJMa



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