I’m amazed by the soothsayers: Ayn Rand, for instance, who warned us fifty years ago of the risk of dictatorship or civil war if collectivism persisted. Or economist Friedrich Hayek, who wrote in the 1940s that we’ll become serfs if we move toward big government.
However, what feels most prophetic lately is an obscure movie from the l970s called Little Murders. The writer, Pulitzer-Prize-winning cartoonist Jules Feiffer, predicted that the ’60s would unleash a feral, primitive society.
The movie has a checkered history. It started out as a play on Broadway in the mid-’60s that was such a bomb, it closed after seven performances.
Audiences were shocked and horrified by the apocalyptic world presented. At the time, New York’s elite were celebrating the sexual revolution and the loosening of social mores. In contrast, Feiffer envisioned an eventual train wreck — a nihilistic world of little and big murders of the soul.
The failed play was relocated to England, where it became a big hit. It was produced for the big screen in 1971, starring some fledgling young actors, such as Elliot Gould, Donald Sutherland, and Alan Arkin. A dark comedy, Little Murders depicts a society gone mad, replete with frequent homicides and crushing insults to the spirit. The film’s moral compass is Patsy, a young woman who still bubbles over with optimism and love amidst the madness.
(Warning: I’m going to spoil the ending.)
By the end of the film, when Patsy is killed, her family finally cracks. They, like so many others, degenerate into a violent, ape-like state.
I’ve been thinking about the movie this week and the nightmare-world Feiffer forecast after learning of a horrendous crime near me in Richmond, CA.
There’s so much crime out here that most of the time, the residents are numb. We have waves of takeover restaurant robberies and you barely hear a peep.
And when a teacher was beaten and stoned a few months ago during her class at Portola Middle School in El Cerrito (minutes from Berkeley) a small article was buried in the local paper. Many in the leftist community defended the youths as victims of white privilege, and some even blamed the teacher.
But then, last weekend, there was a crime so evil that no one could brush it off.
At a homecoming dance at Richmond High School (in the same district as the middle school stoning), a fifteen-year-old girl was beaten and gang-raped for over two hours while a crowd from the dance watched, laughed, and photographed the scene. No one called the cops.
The girl was left unconscious, dumped under a bench. She had to be airlifted to a specialty hospital.
The so-called experts fault the usual suspects: absentee parents, indigence, drug-infested schools, and herd behavior. One teacher indicts the media’s sexual exploitation of women. A parent of one of the arrested youths blames racism. But there was hardship, alcoholism, bad parents, sexism, and teenagers fifty years ago without such mayhem.
And many other countries have worse poverty, but lower crime rates. It’s easier to blame society than face the deep, dark truth: we’ve created a nation filled to the brim with sociopaths (also known as antisocial personalities).
I recently read a book called The Narcissism Epidemic. It reports the high number of narcissists among the young and contends that their condition is aided and abetted by self-esteem training.
True, but the theory feels a bit dated. The biggest danger now is a sociopathic epidemic.
While narcissists are selfish, annoying people, their humanity is still in place. They possess a conscience and can feel guilt and shame. Many people in power have some degree of narcissism.
Sociopaths are a different breed entirely. Here are some common features: callous disregard for others, superficial charm, pathological self-centeredness, lying and manipulation, irritability and aggression, lack of remorse or guilt, cruelty, ingratitude, and antisocial behavior.
How did this happen, the metastasizing of an antisocial tumor?
Feiffer’s Little Murders offered some clues over forty years ago, such as self-worshiping, moral relativism, and rejecting God and religion.
The movie also sounded an alarm about the resurgence of the Left. The film’s most prescient moment is when Patsy’s husband, played by Elliot Gould, recalls being a college radical who has a change of heart.
In a darkened room, he gravely says to Patsy, “You shouldn’t destroy institutions until you know what will take their place. You might find that you will miss them when they’re gone.” Seconds later, Patsy is shot.
The Left has destroyed the structures uniting this country since its founding. Now, the rules of morality that kept people’s base impulses in check have gone AWOL. Cruelty is the new normal, while the sacred is mocked.
What has been unleashed? A quasi-autocracy where dissidents are silenced and the Constitution is trashed. A government that loves animals, the earth, and endangered birds, but not humans.
Everywhere we look, from the ghettos to the corporations to the pristine halls of the government, we can see people whose hearts and souls are empty. Their antisocial behavior is enabled by a codependent society that gives aggrieved groups the green light to pillage and plunder.
Sociopathy will not wane unless we create a nation of grown-ups. A country where people are expected to take responsibility for their actions. No exceptions.
As long as sociopaths have carte blanche, the U.S. will no longer be a beacon of hope to the world. We won’t regain our standing until our lawmakers start following the law and our teachers can teach without being pummeled…
…and a fifteen-year-old girl can attend her big homecoming dance and not have her life destroyed in the process.