Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sharad Karkhanis Book Fund

John Drobnicki sent me the following announcement:

The Office of College Advancement at Kingsborough Community College has established the Prof. Sharad Karkhanis Fund in memory of its namesake, Sharad Karkhanis, who was a library faculty member there from 1964 until his retirement in 2003.  He passed away on March 28, 2013 in Boca Raton, Florida at the age of 78. Dr. Karkhanis, who also taught Political Science classes, was President of the Library Association of the City University of New York (LACUNY) from 1967-1969.  He was also one of the founders of APALA, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, serving as that organization's very first President from 1980-1982.

Contributors should make their checks payable to the Prof. Sharad Karkhanis Fund and send to:
Office for College Advancement
Kingsborough  Community College Foundation, Inc.
2001 Oriental Boulevard
Brooklyn, NY 11235-9978

Dr. Sharad Karkhanis, Professor Emeritus at Kingsborough Community College/CUNY, who served as President of the Library Association of the City University of New York (LACUNY) from 1967-1969, passed away on March 28, 2013 in Boca Raton, Florida at the age of 78.  Sharad was born in Khopoli, India, on March 8, 1935, and came to the US in 1959.  He worked as a librarian trainee in NJ while attending Rutgers (MLS, 1962), and then worked briefly at Brooklyn College/CUNY (1963-64) before being hired in 1964 by Kingsborough, where he remained as a librarian until his retirement in 2003.  Aside from his duties as a librarian, Karkhanis also taught political science classes at Kingsborough, holding both an M.A. in Political Science & International Relations (Brooklyn College/CUNY, 1967) and a Ph.D. in Political Science & American Government (NYU, 1978).  He was one of the founders of APALA, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association, and was that organization's first president from 1980-1982.

Karkhanis was the author/editor of:  New Directions for the City University Libraries (LACUNY, 1968); A New College Student: The Challenge to City University Libraries (LACUNY, 1969); Open Admissions: A Bibliography, 1968-1973 (CUNY, 1974); Indian Politics and the Role of the Press (Asia Book Corp., 1981); A Select Bibliography on Retention (CUNY, 1981); Jewish Heritage in America: An Annotated Bibliography (Garland, 1988); How to Avoid Dead End in Your Career, an Asian American Perspective; and, Library Services for the Asian American Community: Papers of the 1987 Program of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, June 1987, San Francisco, California (APALA, 1988); and Educational Excellence of Asian Americans, Myth or Reality?: Papers of the 1988 Program of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association, July 1988, New Orleans, Louisiana (APALA, 1989).  Karkhanis served for many years as a university-wide officer in the CUNY faculty union, the Professional Staff Congress, when Irwin Polishook was President.  Much of his time in his later years was devoted to publishing a newsletter, first in print and then online - called The Patriot Returns.  In 2008, Karkhanis was honored as the Educator of the Year by the Queens Village Republican Club.

Narcissism and the Barack Obama Show

In 2009 Jeane M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell wrote an important, useful, and interesting book on narcissism,  Living in the Age of Entitlement: The Narcissism Epidemic (The Free Press, 2009)The book veers into discussions of popular culture (for instance, the personalities of rock stars and actors) that increase the book's marketability, but the statistical information presented in the early part of the book is especially useful.

In 2008 many bloggers noticed Barack Obama's narcissism.  The book inadvertently clarifies his wide and continuing appeal:  America has become a nation of narcissists.  It is not a long step from Survivor, American Idol, and the Jerry Springer Show to the Barack Obama Show.  The American left's moral exhibitionism, its claim that its self-serving political views reflect its morally superior "conscience," the conscience of specially trained intellects, is itself a version of narcissism, and the narcissistic political correctness in which the academic left and the education establishment have indoctrinated America's young came to flower in 2008.  (Arguably, George W. Bush is equally narcissistic, and I do not doubt that the conservative movement led by celebrities like Rush Limbaugh is so.)  

I have two points of difference with Twenge and Campbell.  First, as psychologists they see economic phenomena as symptomatic of psychological phenomena.  It is the reverse.  Narcissism came to flower following the expansion of government regulation in the 1960s and the concomitant abolition of the gold standard in 1971.  Christopher Lasch wrote The Culture of Narcissism in 1979.  The phenomena that Twenge and Campbell  describe cannot thrive in a free economy because someone must pay the bill for large homes, self-esteem-based education systems, and self-indulgent debt. The Fed's monetary creation powers allow the public to defer choices by borrowing; borrowing to build big houses, which the authors see as a key symptom of narcissism, is impossible without the Fed's counterfeit powers.  Construction of school systems that do not educate is too.  Free America depended on a gold standard, a rigid monetary system to allocate resources.  The inflationary Federal Reserve system allows unending misallocation of resources and indulgence of selfish fantasies. Eventually the system will crumble, leaving future generations worse off.

Second, the authors do not place the kind of phenomena they describe into historical context. Have there been other eras when narcissism took hold?  I would answer yes, and they have all been periods of monetary expansion.  Post-republican Rome in the times of Caesar,  Diocletian, and later,  post-Columbian Spain, Tulipmania in Holland, the Mississippi Bubble in France, the South Sea Bubble in England, and Weimar Germany also may have been associated with narcissism.

Narcissism began to increase in America before the 1970s, the era that the authors emphasize.  The Roaring Twenties, for example, were more narcissistic than any earlier era in American history;  the crash of the 1930s led to a two-decade decline, but the 1950s and 1960s saw the advent of suburban living, Playboy, and hysteria over rock stars like Elvis Presley and movie stars like Marilyn Monroe.   Easy money and narcissism go hand in hand; as well, the decline of religion in the face of Progressivism and progressive education, which paralleled monetary expansion (Progressivism resulted in both monetary expansion and the decline in religious faith) were antecedents to narcissism.

The authors seem to advocate a superficial, collectivist political viewpoint, but the process of making the American culture more narcissistic paralleled its increasing emphasis on collectivism from the Mugwump period onward.  The Mugwumps may have been the first narcissistic political movement. The authors get it right when, at several points in the book, they empahsize the sober freedom and democracy that the Founding Fathers advocated and the sharp difference between America's 19th century political ideology, which still resides in many Americans today, and narcissism.