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A Culture of Howling Brats: “There Is Nothing Uglier than an Old Infant”

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I recently picked up a second-hand copy of Theodore Dalrymple’s Spoiled Rotten. Like almost anything by the good doctor, it is as disheartening as it is a ripping read. Drawing, as he so often does, on his experience dealing with the refuse of Britain’s criminal and welfare systems (often a tautology), Dalrymple explores how a culture of infantilism and toxic sentimentality has become entrenched in British — indeed, Western — public life. Stephen Fry agrees, arguing that “deep infantilism” cripples’ public discourse.

We need only consider the fetishising of Greta Thunberg and the “climate kids”. Especially Thunberg’s signature diatribes, in which one of the most indulged, privileged people in human history scowls and stamps her feet. Anyone who’s ever dealt with a spoiled brat recognises Thunberg’s, and her army of privileged children’s, tantrums for exactly what they are.
Narcissists with a persecution complex always blame others for their own grievances. As Stephen Fry, hardly a ranting right-winger, notes: “It’s so simple to imagine that one is hard done by, that things are unfair, and that one is underappreciated”

How can anyone read that and not immediately think of Thunberg’s petulant whining? “How dare you! You have stolen my dreams and my childhood.” That nearly every child who isn’t a spoiled, immature offspring of Swedish multi-millionaires could only dream of the kind of life she has never occurs to her.

Thunberg is a literal child, who has been lionised by the world’s media and politicians for shouting, crying, and demanding simplistic solutions to what is an exceedingly complex problem.

She clearly is incapable of understanding the astounding social, political, and economic implications of her demands. Like all adolescents, she thinks she knows everything when she in fact knows almost nothing of the real, adult world.

That anyone, let alone politicians, popes, and pundits, takes the slightest notice of a scowling child metaphorically slamming her bedroom door and shouting, “It’s not fair!”, over and over again, should normally surprise us. But these are not normal times. As Dalrymple’s book exhaustingly demonstrates, we live in an infantilised culture, where imaginary victimhood is the ultimate currency.

Grievance is the gold standard of the times. Immature cultures, like immature people, have an almost reflexive tendency to resort to self-pity. But, as Fry says, “self-pity is the worst possible emotion anyone can have, and the most destructive. It stifles personal growth and permanently retards societies.

Children like Thunberg tend to possess a strong sense of entitlement. They make demands on their parents, and the adult world in general, without having done anything to earn what they desire.

In our current culture, this manifests in the grim sight of armies of middle-class children, marching in expensive private school blazers and snapping rivers of selfies with the latest iPhones, collectively stamping their feet, and throwing tantrums because they haven’t been instantly granted the environmental paradise their teachers have told them is their right.

Don’t expect the kids to grow out of it, though, when their teachers and thought leaders remain government-supported “kidults” all their lives.

People who refuse or are prevented from growing up make toxic personalities. “People who don’t grow up don’t find the sort of meaning that sustains them through difficult times,” says clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson. Permanently aggrieved that the world consistently fails to instantly gratify their every whim, they are left bitter and resentful. “Without purpose and adrift and hostile,” says Peterson. “Vengeful and arrogant and deceitful and of no use to themselves and of no use to anyone else… there is nothing uglier than an old infant.”

We only have to look at the sad old Boomers trying to re-live the 60s by dressing up in silly costumes and making geriatric fools of themselves at an Extinction Rebellion protest. Or the Nosey-Nannas, long past their usefully fertile or working age, wobbling their flabby upper arms and varicose-veined legs at a “refugee” protest.

Or, indeed, the hideously ugly aged infants posing as our “leaders.”

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