Thursday, October 27, 2011


"Good thing America is coming to save us. But it's funny she doesn't want to save herself!"

A while back, frequent commenter and sometime contributor Eric sent me an article about culture and barbarism by Rod Dreher of Crunchy Conservatism fame. Dreher notes:
For now, let me mention that Bellah demonstrates how religion has to be embedded within a community to teach morals (and indeed we learn morality from the stories our communities tell and the practices they enact; “practice is prior to belief and … belief is best understood as an expression of practice,” he writes. A religion that becomes disembodied from a community and its ritual practices become a philosophy, at best.
This — and you knew I was going to get to this — is the testimony of the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, whose book “After Virtue” argued that we are now living in a time of moral incoherence. The old stories and symbols no longer work, but we have replaced them with nothing. Every man is his own pope, which means anarchy. We are coasting on the accumulated moral habits of countless generations past, but this cannot hold indefinitely. If right and wrong are seen by society as being simply a matter of personal opinion — a stance MacIntyre calls “emotivist” — then society has arrived at a state of barbarism. The condition of barbarism, at least seen philosophically, is one of anarchy and rootlessness, in which one has no direction because one does not know where one comes from, and one does not perceive that there is any particular place to go.
Which is basically true; Christianity has been abandoned as the basis for ethical decisions and cultural framework in the west. Without that basic system of ethics, worldview, and law, western culture has been cut adrift in relativism and without foundation. There has been an attempt to replace the foundation of civilization with relativist leftist ideology, but it has no strength its self, like replacing someone's bones with Jell-O. Its very flexible and allows you to bend however you choose, but cannot hold up a civilization.

You would think this lack would only lead to a corrosion of basic shared ethical concerns - and it has - or that it would merely lead to the breakdown of law abiding behavior - and it has - but the truth is, this collapse of a shared worldview has had much more significant consequences. To illustrate this, I'll share a few stories I've collected over the last months.

Helen Pow writes in The Australian about the loss of traditional women's skills:
Just as more modern men are unable to complete traditional male tasks, new research shows Generation Y women can't do the chores their mothers and grandmothers did daily, reported The Courier-Mail.

Only 51 per cent of women aged under 30 can cook a roast compared with 82 per cent of baby boomers.
Meaningless? Even cause for celebration as women are liberated from their previous drudgery? Not exactly. It would be less of a problem if someone else was stepping up to fill that gap, but while men are learning to cook more, in general men are essentially lazy and irresponsible and tend to just not bother.

Yet these women aren't abandoning these skills out of a sense of liberation so much as a sense of not wanting to bother. In the rush to make a culture where women are more like men, feminists have succeeded with incredible totality. The problem is, what they've made women like is all the bad aspects of men. Irresponsibility, selfishness, laziness, and moral corruption that women used to be a force to correct and shape just as men's strengths helped shape and correct womens' weaknesses. No more. And especially women have picked up immature and irresponsible men's attitudes toward sex, as this article from Your Tango by Amanda Chantel illustrates:
A new study found that more than 25 percent of women are putting out within the first week of dating someone. So if you squeeze three dates into a week, then you're still on track; however, not many have the time or energy to go out on that many dates within a seven-day period. (See AskMen's "Women Are Easier Than Ever" for more details; the title should say it all.)

Whereas in the past men had to woo and pay for dinner after dinner to get some action, those days seem to be long gone. Men are doing very little to get the sexual gratification that decades ago would have cost them time and money. These days it's a completely different game all together. Researchers found that 30 percent of young men's relationships don't even involve an ounce of romance—no courting, no Sade, no candles, no standing outside of windows with boom boxes—just sex!
Disney Girl SlutWhy? Because instead of becoming more free, women just became less responsible and more ethically corrupt to match the worst aspects of men. Instead of demanding men be better, women demanded that they could be just as bad, or worse. And the age at which girls begin to act that way has been dropping more every year. What was once too young has become "well I was like her at that age, who am I to judge?" What was once an age considered unready and too unwise to engage in certain activity is now more permitted, shrugged at, and accepted. Jennifer Moses writes in the Wall Street Journal:
Dressed in minidresses, perilously high heels, and glittery, dangling earrings, their eyes heavily shadowed in black-pearl and jade, they look like a flock of tropical birds. A few minutes later, they return to the dance floor, where they shake everything they've got under the party lights.

But for the most part, there isn't all that much to shake. This particular group of party-goers consists of 12- and 13-year-old girls.
In recent years, of course, promiscuity has hit new heights (it always does!), with "sexting" among preteens, "hooking up" among teens and college students, and a constant stream of semi-pornography from just about every media outlet. Varied sexual experiences?the more the better?are the current social norm.
ProstitotAnd as she points out, often their moms are helping out. They want their daughter to be pretty, to be liked, to be attractive to boys, so they're proud of their little skank. Which is likely why padded training bras for 7 year olds and bikinis for girls barely able to walk are a real, selling product. But its not just among women, and not just sexual mores where society is corroding.

It has become such a standard presumption that every child must go to college that the rest of education and life is beginning to be lost. A Golfpundit writes (courtesy Instapundit):
As a public school teacher, I’ve been saying for some time that the entire “No Child Left Behind – Every Kid Has To Go To College” mentality would have just this sort of negative, and unintended consequence. Public High school used to have big shop departments—woodshop, auto repair, plumbing, welding, etc. Now, the government’s emphasis on high-stakes academic tests in measuring school quality has resulted in reduction or elimination of non-academic classes. Students are being told that college is their only hope.

It all makes sense from the school’s point of view. Schools need students to buy into the college mentality so they will concentrate on the sort of knowledge and skills that will help them score well on standardized academic tests (in Michigan, that’s the ACT for high school students). Students scores on standardized tests determine whether a school is deemed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) or is failing. Failing schools suffer a number of sanctions, none of which are pleasant for administrators or teachers.

College prep classes help schools meet AYP and avoid sanctions. Shop classes do not. So the shop classes have to go.
The result is that there's becoming a greater and greater shortage of electricians, carpenters, welders, machinists, and so on. The pay is fine, the kids are just pushed into other fields and their education in these areas is cut off. The presumption is that these areas of work are not good enough for our kids, that some work is improper and unwanted.

As this basic core culture of labor and production is lost, in its place we get another culture, of entertainment and amusements. Alicia Colon writes in the Irish Examiner:
Back in the sixties, a new phrase came into vogue- generation gap. It meant that my generation was so far removed from the previous one of our parents that there remained only a large fissure in our cultural styles. What it has actually come to mean is that my generation has a deficit of elegance and class and we've spawned a generation with lowbrow tastes.

How else to explain the celebrity of the denizens of cable programming such as The Jersey Shore or The Obnoxious Real Housewives of Various Cities? Are Bridezillas really that incredibly appalling and how did they ever get a man to propose?
She laments the corrosion of folk culture and its replacement with pop culture, where we idolize entertainers rather than people of accomplishment and sacrifice, where we replace tradition with what's deemed popular, and we replace class and style with crass and filthy. Lacking any foundation as a culture, we're trying to replace it with the trash and offal of others because its bright and varied and captures the senses, even if by stench and offense.

This tendency toward pop culture entertainment has gone beyond New Year's Day celebrations, and into what was once the highest and most respected offices of our society. Orrin Kerr writes at Volokh Conspiracy about how judges are starting to drop movie references into the footnotes and even body of decisions. This was once the place where the Bible and classic Greek writings were referred to. Now we get Forrest Gump and Billy Madison. This reflects a further corrosion of culture and education. I used to think judges were brilliant, well-educated men far better off than I was in their teaching. Now I realize the got the same crappy education I did.

In the process, adults are becoming so selfish, so self-focused, and so interested in their comfort, ease, wealth, and health that they are having fewer - or no - children. So far, America is still producing enough kids to grow the population, but the rate is slowing like Europe has (and now is dying out). Some areas, the rate is slowing faster than others, and it will come as no surprise that San Francisco is one.

Peggy Noonan recently wrote an article about someone coming to America without any previous knowledge of the place, looking around and seeing the culture as it stands, from Jersey Shore to New York City's 40%+ abortion rate and unwed childbirth rate. She points out that any objective observer would conclude that something is basically wrong with the country, something has gone horribly wrong.

And that something is the lack of traditional Judeo-Christian culture. Losing that has left the culture adrift, destroyed its maturity, and has us all slouching off to our own, selfish directions seeking amusements and distractions rather than facing the world around us. Hard decisions are, by definition, hard and without some ethical and objective - external - reason to make those decisions, people will tend not to. The modern leftist relativist ethic gives people no reason to make those hard decisions, and even supports avoiding them.

This isn't just the "safety net" which keeps growing larger and larger until its a smothering spiderweb of strands. That's bad enough by removing any incentive to produce or excel, by rewarding sloth and selfishness. It goes deeper than the welfare state, which is only a symptom of the real problem.

You can see the contrast by heading to any part of the nation - the bulk of the geography, but the minority of population - which is still mostly informed by that foundation of traditional ethics and virtues. The rural and small town parts of America still tend to have strong Christian ethics, strong traditional values, and a strong skeleton to build a society around. And in these places, you'll find people tend to not have the same tendencies as the big cities who have in their enlightenment abandoned their bones.

Each place is infected by original sin, but that corruption is kept in check only by a strong, objective, absolute set of standards which guide and shape decisions, growth, and culture. Lose those bones, and the culture loses its protection against infection and corruption of our basest natures.

In the place of sin and salvation, people are offered mistakes and government protections. Generation after generation now has been taught that there are only two real sins: hypocrisy and racism. And while hypocrisy is bad, avoiding all sense of it leads to destructive extremes. Consider the ad with the kid who is caught smoking pot, and yells "I learned it from you dad!!!" The presumption is that because the father is smoking pot, he cannot tell his son not to. To do so would be hypocritical, therefore it cannot be done.

Those moms who raise their girls to be little sluts engaged in that activity when they were young too, but kept it more private and secret. Now that little Meadow is growing up and wants to act out, mom thinks she can't say anything or she'd be... you guessed it. Kids engaging in self-destructive, wrong behavior are defended by people who when they were young did it too, and who are they to judge? I had long hair and a tattoo, branding yourself and getting metal lumps implanted in your forehead is just acting out, they're rebelling.

Old HippieThat's why, as you used to be able to trust women to be a moral foundation to steer men better, you used to be able to trust older people for their wisdom and learning to help avoid mistakes... and you can't any more. Those old people with white hair were hippies and hipsters in the past. They rejected all the things previous generation's elders learned and could pass on. They did all the things modern kids are doing and cannot bring themselves to judge.

So each successive generation hastens the decay and slide of the next. And there's no way out of this short of a total change of worldview, a revolution the likes of which we have rarely seen. A change in culture and ideas that would turn the world upside down. The 1960s started a head first rush down this slope, but we were on our way down it already by that point.

The shift in worldviews, of overall presumed and unquestioned philosophy, began in the late 1800s with thinkers such as Freud and Darwin who wanted to generate a structure for thought and understanding the world around us without needing God and faith. They failed, giving us new gods and faiths in their place, but they did succeed in slowly destroying the heritage and worldview which has built civilization over a thousand years of history.

That Judeo-Christian heritage did more than send people to church on Sundays and create blue laws. It gave society a structure from which to build everything and a reason behind all we did and why. Work was honorable and just regardless of its perceived menial or lofty character because it was service to God and our fellow man. Modesty protected young people and marriage both, creating a society which was focused less on sex and pleasure and more on productivity, honor, and truth.

In short, the worldview which has been abandoned for being restrictive, traditional, old fashioned and "like, a bummer, man" gave people a reason to do something other than what pleased and benefited them in the short term. It focused us outside ourselves and toward the future rather than inside and the now.

How does this get reversed? Only by a strong, absolute, external structure of truth, justice, beauty, and goodness which we generally agree upon or live our lives based upon without realizing it. Europe appears to be headed toward an Islamic one, with Muslims outbreeding native Europeans at a significant rate and Europe caving in constantly to appease these Muslims in the name of multiculturalism and fearing charges of Racism, the second big modern sin.

And that's what it will take. Modern man is stupid enough to pretend that a culture can exist without a shared set of moral concepts - a religion. That you can have any sort of society without a basic foundation of agreed upon structures to build it around. And that is simply not the case, it is impossible; it is chaos.

The Roman Empire was invaded repeatedly, finally falling apart completely in the end after Lombards, Huns, Vandals and several other barbarian forces tore it to pieces. Yet the collapse started long before that when Rome lost its virtue, its shared set of presuppositions that gave it strength and cohesion. It took Rome centuries to finally collapse. It will take far less time for America to do so; we're watching it happen before our eyes. Empires tend to collapse from within like a rotted tree whose core becomes so worthless the mighty redwood finally topples under its own unsustainable weight.

There's only one way to stop this, one way to reverse the collapse, but to even suggest it makes people think you're some kind of zealot, a crusader who'll burn witches and massacre unbelievers. The only change can come from within, as each person is individually transformed and begins to live for something and someone other than themselves.


Anonymous said...


Miss Carnivorous said...

Jaysus! Only one comment??? You are a brilliant thinker and you deserve a wider audience.