The Degradation of the American People
There's been a palpable decline in spirit, soul, and body
Any student of recent history knows that there has been a noticeable decline in the…quality…of the American people over the past several decades. There are a number of theories as to why this is that exist on /ourside/ of the internet, most of which are probably at least partly true. But whether the cause(s) are hereditary, dietary, environmental, or some combination of these and other things, the effects on modern Homo Americanus can be clearly seen (though I’m given to understand that this is also the case, to one degree or another, in other first world countries as well).
This decline tracks pretty closely with the decay in American public life, civil society, and our social systems in general. I don’t find this too surprising, though. I am rather fond of a perspective in anthropology known as anthropological holism. This frame of reference for approaching the study of mankind involves the understanding that individuals (viewed as spirit, mind, and body), environments, social systems, and cultural artifices interpenetrate and define each other. As holistic complex systems, the sum of the whole is greater than the individual parts in a human society and each part must be taken in relation to the whole, rather than simply being subjected to isolated analysis apart from the rest of the social framework. As a result, what affects one part has an effect on the whole system, shared and evolving cultural experience impacts social and political artifices and vice versa.
Typically, people who think about anthropology at all are used to thinking of the discipline in terms of studying “primitive tribes” in some backwater jungle somewhere on an underdeveloped continent, trying to discover the reason why the ancestral spirits told them to wear bones through their noses. But approaching “modern” societies through the lens of anthropological concepts should be just as or even more relevant. Given the increased complexity in “modern” societies, approaching them from an anthropologically holistic perspective makes a great deal of sense. Certainly, we should see that modern American society - and the state of the American people - involves a complex interplay of recent cultural and social changes, religious and environmental inputs, and even our diet and physical infrastructure.
And who can credibly deny that Americans have, broadly speaking, degenerated from where our ancestors were?
Spiritually, the turn from the faith of our fathers has created a condition of profligacy and degeneracy. Modern Americans can whine and moan about “Pharisees” and “hypocrites” all they want, but the fact is that the irreligious in this country are often the most unfit and degraded among us. The idea that the God-haters are intelligent critics of organised religion is laughable and this is shown whenever you deal with their arguments for more than a few minutes. Essentially, their rejection of faith amounts to an effort to justify their degenerate behaviour. But is there really any kind of reasonable justification for drug abuse, sexual profligacy, abortion, homosexuality, and the myriad of other ills that have risen to prominence in inverse proportion to the influence of Christianity in this country? It’s little wonder that these same folks who exhibit these diseases of the spirit are also the ones most afflicted by various mental illnesses and who need SSRIs and other psychotropic drugs to keep themselves stable.
The degeneration of the soul and mind (the psyche) also afflicts this nation, and this is shown in the nearly complete destruction of actual, genuine intellectual curiosity and competence. A few years ago, I was quite disconcerted - but not really surprised - to learn that the average American reads one book a year. This already troubling statistic is compounded by the fact that most of those books that are being read are trashy romance novels or things like Harry Potter (seriously, the “read another book” meme is entirely real). This deficit in knowledge dovetails with a deficit in reasoning skills, which explains the quality of most public discourse that we see in the media and on social media. Even in the seemingly intellectual realms that remain, such as science, we find that there is much less independent thinking and much more gatekeeping and attempts to stifle non-approved information that runs counter to official narratives.
It wasn’t always this way. Back in the day - where “higher education” was much less prevalent - it seems like there was a much wider knowledge base among our population. I mean, you had farmboys in the Civil War who would write home and quote Virgil in Latin. Well into the middle of the 20th century we had a robust intellectual climate that fostered intelligent thinking about important issues of the day. Part of what originally made American republicanism plausible was that while the population at large may not have been widely “educated” in a formal sense, there was an intellectual curiosity that created the conditions in which common sense and self-education produced a population capable of reasonably approaching public debate. Nowadays, I doubt there are 5 million people in this country (out of a population of 330 million) who are really capable of such a thing.
Even in the purely material and physical realm there has been a marked decline in the American condition. In terms of health and physical fitness, we’re in terrible shape. This has led to skyrocketing rates of lifestyle-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and many others. But instead of doing something constructive about this, our country focuses on complaining about “fat-shaming” and “affirming” people in their destructive lifestyle choices. We’ve gone from fitter families to fatter families in the space of about three generations.
I imagine that most people reading this will likely agree with me as to the facts of American decadence, so I won’t belabour this point any longer. But I’d like to circle back to what I was saying earlier about anthropological holism. Concomitant with the degradation of the American person has been the decline of American culture, government, institutions, and civil society. This is not coincidental. These parallel debasements have fed upon each other synergistically. Each part of the complex system of American society - people and things alike - exist in reinforcing feedback loops that serve to accelerate the decline.
Now the thing is, many Americans (and others) recognise this problem, but still think that there is some simple, one-size-fits-all answer to it. Yet, there is no magic bullet that’s going to fix all of this. Ultimately, even the coming collapse that I keep talking about, in and of itself, isn’t going to solve everything because while collapse may clear away some of the current institutions and such, the human materiel and the tendencies it leads to would still be around.
The holistic system I’ve been describing, being a complex system, brooks no simplistic solutions. Simply increasing education funding or encouraging civic-mindedness or whatever isn’t going to turn things around. Even the solution provided by many spiritually-minded people, which is revival and returning America to being an actual Christian nation, will not necessarily serve to restore America. Fixing the spiritual problems may reduce the outward prevalence of sin and even effect a genuine increase in godliness in the nation, but there will still be a whole complex of other problems that will need to be addressed that are interconnected and will, if not corrected, undermine the good done through spiritual revival. This is because of the holistic interconnection of spirit, soul, and body described by Scripture itself,
“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:23)
Without a commitment to bodily self-control and intellectual improvement, spiritual revival really will only do so much and will be prone to erosion rather quickly. People can get right with God and stop taking drugs or fornicating or whatever, but if they don’t correct and improve themselves in the other areas of human entirety, there will still be severe deficiencies that will continue to feed the degeneracy in our society. Until people, even Christians, stop trying to take apart and treat separately the interdependent elements within the human whole, there won’t be a real restoration of our culture, society, and civilisation.
Rather, there’s going to have to be a system-wide effort on the part of /ourguys/ to keep influencing from within and trying to induce some feedback looping in the other direction with relation to the entire holistic extent of human existence. Before there can be any accepting power or ruling, there has to be some becoming worthy. But becoming worthy can’t merely be just a neoreactionary project. It’s something that is going to have to become a goal for at least a significant plurality within our society. Spiritual sensitivity, intellectual growth, physical fitness - these need to once again become priorities for the many, not just the few. Somehow or another - and figuring out how to do this is the blueprint moving forward which I’m not even going to pretend to settle here in this blogpost - we’ve got to start reversing the degradation and encouraging a reinvigouration of the American spirit, soul, and body.