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A Civilisation in Decline
Degeneracy is the order of the day
A few days ago, I got to thinking again about this article from ten years (appearing in HuffPo, of all places, back before they went full redditard) which proposes that human intelligence (at least in the Western world) is lower than it was in the Victorian Era. Looking at modern day America, I can find little that would argue with this proposition – after all, ours is the voting public that gave us such elder statesmen as Joe Biden, John Fetterman, and Jamaal Bowman. That alone ought to be considered as empirical evidence for such a decline (something which is connected to the increased third world immigration into our country, which I’ve written about before). Yet, it strikes me that the declension of modern America (as well as the rest of the West, to be honest) is not related to mere intellect or raw g-power alone. There are many factors that have worked – and still are at work – to reduce the American people, and Westerners in general, to a mere shadow of the greatness of our forefathers who forged nations, explored the far reaches of the globe, built the edifice of modern science and technology, and founded and propagated the most advanced and powerful civilization the world has yet seen.
The decline of the West is systematic and endemic. It involves not just raw intellectual capacities, but also deterioration of our moral character, courage, and good sense. In many ways, these are interrelated – the decline of one means the fall of the others. As I observe the direction in which the West is moving, I can't help but sense a disturbing demoralization, a loss of drive, initiative, and the will to thrive and grow that seemed to characterize earlier generations in our civilization, the end result of decades of decadence and malfeasance. If I may be permitted a quote from Horace, I believe he spoke to our generation as much as to his own,
"Time corrupts all. What has it not made worse?
Our grandfathers sired feebler children; theirs
Were weaker still – ourselves; and now our curse
Must be to breed even more degenerate heirs." (Odes, Book III, No. 6)
How did we get to where we're at?
To begin with, recent generations fundamentally changed the way they viewed the individual person, and in doing so, also altered the way they understood the relationship between the individual and greater society.
If you were to ask people what they believe defines “western civilisation,” most of them would likely answer with something along the lines of our individualism, that “we make it possible for anyone to be whatever they want to be.” Now, this answer is pretty simplistic for obvious reasons. But it does speak to the fact that even in ancient times, the concept of individuality in western cultures such as those of Greece and Rome was generally held in higher esteem than was seen in most other world civilisations. In the West, a balance was struck between the demands of society as a collective and the rights and responsibilities of the individual person and his family – between the res publica and the res privata of Cicero, an ideal expressed in Rome at its height, but never fully realized. While it was recognized that each individual owed legitimate duties to the society in which he lived, there was nevertheless a large portion of his life into which society – and the governments it institutes – had no business intruding.
Therein lies a major part of the problem with the modern West, however. For most of western history, this balance that was struck was maintained by a combination of reasonable communitarianism and the social application of religion in the public realm. However, both of these constraining factors began to erode, beginning with the Renaissance but accelerating with the so-called “Enlightenment.” Because of this, individualism in the West developed into an increasingly metastasised pathology that replaced reasonable, constrained individual agency with atomised individualism, with all the destruction of social cohesion that comes with it. When you remove religion, tradition, and custom as restraining elements in society, they will be replaced with socially destructive hedonism and atomistic selfishness.
The rise of the welfare state, as a result of socialist agitations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, upset the balance completely. Consequently, the individual no longer had to look to himself, his family, his religion for strength, but could throw off his responsibilities and place them on the backs of all his fellow citizens. This is an enfeebling state of affairs. A man who will not take responsibility for himself, who will not sink or swim on his own as a result of the consequences of his actions and decisions, is a man who barely (if at all) rises above the level of a slave whose master feeds and cares for him. An able-bodied man who makes other men in his polity care for him, who picks their pockets because his own laziness or poor decision-making keeps him from filling his own, is a social degenerate. Yet, it is exactly this that Western governments have been encouraging, in many cases for over a century.
The great irony in this is that while most people (especially normiecons) assume that this means that the individual is being subsumed back into “collectivism,” the reality is actually that this socialistic impulse is just another outlet for social atomisation. The aim of communism is to remove the individual from all traditional, cohesion-building social ties (family, religion, nation, etc.) and to reconstruct him as part of an abstract “class system” which is comprised of rootless hyper-individuals orbiting around the ruling Party while they live in their pods, owning nothing and happily consooooming. A consequence of this is the transfer of ever more far-reaching areas of life from the private realm into the public - when traditional social safety nets are destroyed, they are then replaced with reliance on the Regime and its managerial apparatus. As individual atomisation increases, the desire to be controlled does as well. Libertarian types who mistakenly view traditional society as “collectivist” end up stupidly destroying that traditional society and replacing it with actual totalitarianism.
Dynamiting the deeper but intangible truths of traditional society and replacing them with a materialist, economic mindset destroys social unity and replaces it with class envy (which is really just a cover for the individual envy of others). As Hazlitt noted,
"The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are. Never under any circumstances admit that his success may be due to his own efforts, to the productive contribution he has made to the whole community."
Every time some blunder-headed fool blames "the rich" for all his woes or demands that somebody "contribute" more than he's already having taken from him, you see a moral degenerate who hates those who have done more than himself. You see envy and greed talking. Instead of recognizing that each individual should seek to better himself, and thereby better the society he lives in as a natural consequence of this, the socially atomised hyper-individual wants him to be reduced and brought under the power of globalist, transnationalists seeking to destroy the traditional bonds of human society.
Concomitant with this is that the foundational desires of Western man have changed. It used to be that the desire was for liberty. Even if Western man has not always and in all places had the same definition of this term as we have today, it nevertheless has been his desire, one which I tend to believe is a distant holdover from our steppe-riding Indo-European ancestors. Even among those who were not in the ruling castes, the Western man has had a certain nobility and freedom that simply was not shared by the non-westerner in a similar position. This drive for liberty and the sense of nobility drove the western man to explore, colonise, and conquer.
But today's western man? Too many look to the welfare check to keep them solvent, and the police state to keep them safe. Without a sense of responsibility, there is also no sense of self-respect. It doesn't end there, though. Too many expect the government to solve their every problem – and government encourages this, while at the same time actively discouraging those who would solve their own problems. Government hates people who would defend themselves from criminals instead of becoming victims in need of police protection. Government despises those who simply want to be left in peace to enjoy their lives and property instead of "needing" to be needled, hectored, and badgered by a host of regulatory minutiae designed to save us from ourselves. We cannot be trusted to simply settle our differences like adults outside of judicial intervention. America is a nation that has to provide printed instructions with a pair of socks, just in case someone decides to sue the manufacturer.
There are consequences to this enfeeblement. We in the West have no more grand dreams, no more bigger-than-life projects that challenge and expand our capabilities and horizons. Just look at what we used to build. Gustav Eiffel built a tower in 1889, just to show off the cultural and technological capabilities of his native France. We built Hoover Dam out of almost 3.5 million cubic meters of concrete and 582 miles of steel cooling pipe. Now we can barely build a tree house in our back yards without going through mountains of red tape to get a permit. The really tall buildings today are being built in Dubai and Shanghai. China's Three Gorges Dam is the new engineering marvel of the modern age. Meanwhile, our people seem to only dream of being able to fulfill their immediate (and often base) desires. Americans care more about their vacation time and satellite TV than they do about dreaming big dreams. Europeans would rather go to the nudie beaches in the Riviera than plan and build and learn and excel.
Coupled with this is the marked frivolity of Western civilization today. There is little in the way of seriousness – not in thought, not in religion, not in principles. Ours is an age in which Jon Stewart and the Daily Show are taken seriously as sources of information; where Wikipedia is the gold standard for knowledge; where the average person cannot comfortably read more than three paragraphs (congratulations to you if you've gotten this far in this essay!) without their attention span giving out. This is a consequence of the other things we've seen above. Who needs to think for themselves, when the government and the media (increasingly the same thing) will do it for you? When television is designed to break programs up into five minute segments, who is going to have the mental fortitude to plow through a 500 page book on some historical or philosophical subject? When you have no grand dreams to occupy your thoughts, then any and every little old thing will do so instead.
One result of this is that the public education system, from kindergarten to graduate school, is failing in its duty to actually educate its charges. In many places, schools are just long-term holding pens to keep the kids off the streets until they can no longer legally be held. In many others, schools simply teach political correctness and the social theories du jour. We wonder why kids can't read well, can barely do math, are woefully ignorant of seemingly obvious facts about science or history. Is it any wonder, when the education establishment is often staffed by people who think math is racist and that history is just the story of crusty old white men that nobody needs to listen to anymore?
What a far cry from where education used to be back when children knew more Greek and Latin than most adults do today. When Western civilization was robust and vigorous, it was also well-educated. It was exceedingly common in the British Parliament of the Victorian Era for an argument to be clenched or an analogy be forcefully drawn by appeal to some obscure passage from Virgil, Ovid, or Thucydides – yet obscure as it was, every man there knew it, and every other man who was following the debate in the papers afterward would also. Back then, education – real education, not merely having a piece of paper that proved your ability to show up to most class periods for four (or more) years – was a key component in the character of a great and good man. Today, this type of education is treated disdainfully as "old-fashioned." There was a rhyme about Benjamin Jowett, a British scholar and polymath of the 19th century, that went as follows,
"Here come I, my name is Jowett.
All there is to know I know it.
I am Master of this College,
What I don't know isn't knowledge!"
Surprising to the modern reader, however, is that this ditty composed by his undergraduate students at Balliol was not intended to be insulting, as many moderns would likely interpret it. Indeed, it really and truly was intended as a tribute to Jowett's tremendous erudition and his ability to work with and create powerful ideas. Can anyone imagine the run of modern Americans or Europeans honoring someone with Jowett's breadth of knowledge and ability today? Can anyone imagine most modern Americans or Europeans even understanding what Jowett would be talking about on any given subject?
Going right along with this is the willingness of many in our civilization to believe in any fool thing, so long as an "expert" tells them to. This is the reason why, despite there being little to nothing in the way of actual, genuine proof for it, most people if asked would still profess to be absolutely sure that man-made global warming is both reality and a grave, world-threatening danger. People believe all kinds of things just because the news media talking heads tell them to. For instance, many people think violent crime is increasing in America and it's because we don't have enough gun control – when actually violent crime is decreasing and the decrease correlates well with the loosening of gun laws. People believe all kinds of things that are frankly untrue. But the problem isn't just that people believe wrongly, but that they do so because someone simply told them to, and they don't take the time or use the energy to find out for themselves what really is and isn't.
This frivolity, this enfeeblement, this loss of nerve and courage – they all come together into a confluence of cultural movements that disable us from even being able to defend ourselves.
I'm sure many people ask themselves, "How can these BLM and antifa terrorists get away with what they do?" Why were they allowed to burn down multiple city centres and cause billions of dollars in damage? Why were people who tried to defend their own property the ones who were prosecuted and jailed? Why is our government allowing millions of illegals, and among them thousands of military-aged males, unrestricted access across our borders? Why would it take the German government 80 years to deport 50,000 hostile foreigners?
How far has a civilization degenerated when large chunks of its people no longer have the will to oppose the mortal enemies who are actively seeking to kill them and who have said as much time and time again? I can't help but think that if these things were going on even 50 years ago, our Western countries would have been emptying the banlieus and barrios and sending the interlopers and their supporters back home to their countries of origin. Of course, 50 years ago, we would not have been fool enough to let them into our countries in the first place. But now, our nations grant refuge to millions of aliens who do not intend to assimilate, but instead merely want to draw welfare checks paid for by our own people. In many cases (despite the “hard-working immigrant!” gaslighting), their only contribution is to our crime rate.
So what do we do? That is a good question, and it's one that I'm not sure I can answer satisfactorily. Yet, we can take heart in is the fact that the criticisms leveled above do not apply uniformly to every Westerner. There are many of us who still see something worth saving in our cultures and who have not given ourselves over to civilisational suicide. One thing is certain – those of us who are still willing to fight for our Western heritage are going to have to do a lot of heavy lifting in the years and decades to come. From the education of our children to the preservation of our traditions and cultures – by armed force if necessary – we have to be prepared for what lies ahead. We will need to be the torchbearers as the future of the West grows darker and darker.
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