Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Demoralized America

The other day I remarked in a comment that the heritage of the 60's is a quite literally 'demoralized' America. Meaning, that the official civic religion of America is a sort of mushy Libertarianism that holds that, since no person can claim to know the truth of things--least of all of human nature--the only rule of conduct for society as a whole is to refrain from harming others. There are no other positive values that society should seek to advance and, indeed, to claim that there are is to be anti-social and somehow anti-American in 21st century America. It's not the kind of thing that many people regard as worth fighting for. We have relied on a general societal willingness to live more or less off the cultural and Western civilizational capital of the past, but that has largely been used up.

What we see now is that a debased intellectual currency has rapidly driven true intellectualism, true history, true knowledge of human nature, out of the public discourse. It has been driven out of our educational institutions--not just the government schools but most private schools as well, as the intellectual rot has become all pervading and the rising generation has been deprived of a knowledge of Western civilization. And that intellectual rot is now reflected in our everyday experience and in our public institutions: in the MSM, in our laws and law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and in our interpretation of our constitutional order.

We see the results in an America that appears largely paralyzed as, decade by decades, generation by generation, the Countercultural Left has pushed the intellectual envelope ever further into the realm of denial of all recognizably human morality. With our highest value now simple personal comfort, many Americans have been exposed as intellectually (and, thus, practically) defenseless in the face of those who deny objective human nature with more emotional urgency than many Americans feel about almost anything. Sensing this, the Left seems now to believe that they can use a staged crisis to push their drive for Power to a final conclusion.

Star Parker sums up the impact of this demoralization on the most vulnerable in our society--African Americans--in an article from which I draw some (edited) excerpts. Note that as normal human sexuality and the family have come under concerted political, legal, and cultural attack by our elites over the decades since the 60's--with more or less total acquiescence from organized religious institutions--so too have we experienced an ever more rapid drift of the younger generation to the Left.

The only 'systemic racism' is due to big-government liberals
If blacks are a victim of anything, it's pervading moral relativism
As more of our political elite join the mobs in the streets to conflate the death of George Floyd with a general indictment of America as a racist and evil nation, black Americans, more than anyone, will suffer.

If there is a racism that accounts for these persistent disparities, it is the racism of big-government liberals. Now we see some Republicans, many business leaders and even some black conservative leaders signing on to this. It is a racism that says black Americans cannot adhere to the same eternal truths, to the same law, as everyone else and take personal responsibility for their lives.
Let's recall the observation attributed to George Orwell that says, "In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." All Americans today sorely need to hear the truth amidst the deceit that is now rampant.

Listen to Dr. James Heckman,
professor of economics and director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago, and winner of the Nobel Prize in economics. 
"It is politically incorrect to express the truth and go to the source of problems. Public discourse, such as it is, cannot speak honestly about matters of culture, race, and gender. Powerful censorship is at play across the entire society. …
"The family is the source of life and growth. Families build values, encourage (or discourage) their children in school and out. Families – far more than schools – create or inhibit life opportunities."
If black Americans are victims of anything, it is that they live in a country that has become a wasteland of moral relativism.

I've discussed the historical and philosophical background to this collapse of America's classical liberal public religion in the past, especially with reference to writers such as Brad Gregory and Patrick Deneen. I urge those who aren't familiar with Deneen's thinking to follow the link at his name. Here I quote what I wrote less than a year ago, which now seems a long time. It's worth considering seriously in light of current events:

Deneen's overall thesis is that all liberalism contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction--progressive liberalism may get to the bottom of the slippery slope faster, but classical liberalism or libertarianism will get to the bottom just as surely because their fundamental principles are the same. Indeed, in a notable quote (see below) Deneen states with regard to the historical ignorance of his students: 
     The pervasive ignorance of our students ... is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. 
The civilization he speaks of, of course, is that of Western liberalism.

Deneen approaches the question of liberalism's death-wish from a philosophical and historical perspective but, before dismissing this as arcane theorizing, be advised that Deneen--writing in 2018--is keenly aware of current political realities. He writes with Trump--and "populism" generally--very much at the front of his mind.


  1. I believe that the agenda imposed on the rest of us by the Left is a religious system of dogma and doctrine, even though many of those imposing said system, claim to be atheist.

    We're not helped by Catholic leaders such as "Pope" Francis and "Archbishop" Wilton Gregory. They are clanging gongs.

    1. “Clanging gongs”? I prefer “whited sepulchers.”

  2. The worst form of racism is to hold blacks to a lower standard of behavior, achievement, etc. That tells me that someone who holds those views thinks that blacks are inferior and can't be expected to achieve much.

    As far as Black Lives Matter, if you are a black man who basically served as a sperm donor for a black woman to bear children, can you honestly say that black lives matter? If you're not being a father to your children, you are failing at one of the most basic responsibilities to which God had called you.

    I pray for the family. The Holy Family is the standard to which all families should aspire.

  3. Based upon recent events, one could rightly conclude that our society is undergoing a bout of (hopefully) temporary insanity. And this insanity seems to be spreading at high speed and growing in intensity.

    This post points to one of the underlying phenomena that has brought us to this point of crisis. The cancer of extreme Liberalism is indeed a long festering pathology that has now reached a critical mass of infection and debilitation. In the parlance of the medical profession, it is likely at late Stage 3, where remedy is both urgent and less probable. Worse, it appears that there is no doctor in the house.

    I would add one more dimension to the panoply of potential underlying causes. We have been an extremely affluent society for nearly half a century now and only our most senior citizens have any recollection or knowledge of the Depression Era hard-times. As such, most of our youth have become pampered and spoiled by an excess of every type of convenience imaginable, and few have experienced anything resembling the hardship endured by our pioneer forebears.

    And what has this wrought? A sense of entitlement to all manner of creature comforts and a government supplied safety net for everything else. Need to eat, there is an EBT card. Need housing, there is Section 8. Need education, public school is free, and University is just a student loan away. Health care free to the indigent. Heck, need a cell phone, the Obama Administration gave those out free as well. Still need one today, that's what looting is for.

    Our youth are desperately in need of a sense of self-worth, which can only come from proving self-reliance in the first person. We have stripped them of every opportunity to experience hardship and know of joy of overcoming those challenges. As such, we are killing their spirit in slow motion, and those chickens have come home to roost.

    1. Whatever the diagnosis of the body politic, it is anything but temporary. An iceberg is probably the better metaphor--the visible tip is but a small fraction of the total problem.

      Liberalism is, in part, a dogmatic philosophy of incrementalism. It creeps along extending itself into more and more aspects of life--government & private institutions, community and neighborhood organizations, religion, family, schools. It distorts thinking, perspective, morality, incrementally at points of decision-making trade-off, because it has no limits, and no limiting principles.

      Effectively, it shuns personal responsibility while deeming the individual the sole source of all meaning and purpose in life--rejecting all constraints on the individual as impermissible inhibitions on one's freedom.

      The challenge of incrementalism is that it's not apparent the return path is possible were it even known, as destructive aspects and outcomes are just part of the landscape--like everything else passively adopted by the incrementalism of mutual acquiescence and inertia.

      We're conforming social animals who cherish approval by going along with the latest fads and fashions. Those who don't fit in with the crowd (the mob) are usually cast aside as weirdos--or worse. The contradictions are massive, but don't expect anyone to notice--unless you want to be cast aside as the weirdo.

      Life is high school writ large.

    2. Christianity is the "limiting" force. Only Christianity says, "Yes, you can think, but that only makes you responsible, not God." That is why the Socialists must not only destroy it, but erase it from human memory. Socialism, and its many offspring, is only functional under the premise that man can be God.
      Tom S.

    3. Maybe that's why Blue governors are so anxious to keep churches locked down.

    4. " 'Only Christianity says, "Yes, you can think, but that only makes you responsible, not God.' "
      Not quite.
      So do various other religions, e.g. Judaism.
      It was no accident, that de Blasio teed off on an Ortho funeral procession.
      He'd have also teed off on a few other religions, if they'd been available (in NYC) for him to virtue-signal about, in the name of "public health".
      Somehow, he got no photo-op shot at the Confucians.

    5. I'll concede the point ref Judaism. One is the foundation of the other; however, any other entrants had better bring an argument, not just a secret handshake. ;-)
      Tom S.

  4. My response to Unknown June 10, 2020 at 4:21 PM

    Amen to everything you said.

    My father grew up poor. He was born in 1931. My grandpa put cardboard in the bottom of his shoes to cover the holes in his soles. My grandma made dresses for my aunts out of flower sacks.

    Supper wasn't often watery oatmeal. My grandpa grew a garden and they made preserves, jelly, etc.

    My dad and his siblings never rioted or stole. They had God in their lives. Dad was a very quiet man but he didn't waste things, especially money.

  5. I sometimes report from the People's Republic of Madison, Wisconsin. Madison's mayor got caught doing the unthinkable. She actually had the gaul to thank the police for their help during covid-19 and the riots and has been forced to apologize for her wrong-think.

    If this incident does not sink her, she will be raked over the coals into supporting the most extreme reaction to the protests. This incident will have zero effect on Madison politics where elections are contested between the Democrats and even more left wing Progressive Danes, but it might galvanize conservatives in the rest of the state to turn out the vote in the Fall. And in this state, as we saw with left wing crazy after Walker's union policies, that could make it another GOP state win in the presidential election.

    1. I do hope you are correct. I enjoy your posts!