The Culture of Entitlement

Posted on February 28, 2010


You heard it on TV.  You’re entitled to it.  You’ve earned it.  Treat yourself.  Buy it now.  History will say it was the culture made you do it.

Everybody thinks the Ancient Greeks were better.  They thought so too.  That means they were entitled to pirate the Mediterranean, and make it tough for anyone unwise enough to inhabit the eastern shores of that wine dark sea.  Even other Greeks.

But because they did so many cool things so long ago—and because all the cool things done by the peoples they enslaved and oppressed have long ago been suppressed, forgotten or successfully plagiarized—we forgive them.  And the historians tell us they were people of their times.  That makes it all right then.

And it’s especially good because we’re living in times too, and being people, we are helpless to resist the spirit of the age.

The spirit of entitlement.

We like the glory that was Greece, the glory that was Rome, the glory that was Columbus.  (Did Columbus commit genocide?  Only a little bit.  And it all worked out so well in the end.)

The glory of literature.  The glory of science.  The glory of (European) progress.

Don’t we own progress?  Doesn’t that make us better?  Doesn’t that entitle us to take what belongs to inferior peoples and divide it up among ourselves?  And besides, aren’t we people of our times?  We were taught to be racist.  We couldn’t help ourselves.  And as to helping ourselves to lives and property that belonged to others (we see now that they are almost as human as us, o dear) we were merely the victims of the times.  You see, we just felt entitled.  Everybody told us we deserved it.

You deserve it too.  You deserve to keep up with the Joneses.  You deserve it all.

And when it all passes.  When your consumerism eats the world.  When the deserts creep over the landscape.  When the plants die in the heat.  When corpses are so plentiful under the murderous sun that they lie uneaten.  When the world of your entitlement consumes itself.  Remember.

You have an excuse.

I was a victim of the times.  I thought I was entitled.  The culture made me do it.  I saw it on TV.  (And Simple Sam, crackpot denier man, he made such a good argument.)

We’ll see if your grandchildren forgive you.