by Fabius Maximus
Summary: Every day brings stranger news about America. These stories tell us a lot about how we are changing, and why. There are several levels to this problem, but there are solutions.
“A society does not ever die ‘from natural causes’, but always dies from suicide or murder — and nearly always from the former….”
? Arnold Joseph Toynbee’s A Study of History.
“I would rather be governed by the first two thousand people in the Boston telephone directory than by the two thousand people on the faculty of Harvard University.”
— William Buckley Jr.
Our intelligentsia have gone bonkers. The signs of their decay are all around us, and wash over us in the daily news. Debauchery is common among elites, as usual, but this is different. They have the stench of decay because they have been rotting slowly for decades. Their madness is for America like the death of a canary in a coal mine. The most delicate are affected first, giving a warning to the others.
“The Intellectual Sex Fetish” by Anneli Rufus at the Daily Beast – “It’s S&M for Ph.D.s: Cuckolding, in which men watch their wives have sex with other guys, is catching on among people with high IQs who revel in the psychological agony.” She wrote two books exploring our decayed society: Party of One: The Loners’ Manifesto, and the Nautilus Award-winning Stuck: Why We Can’t (or Won’t) Move On.
“It’s time to reconsider polygamy” by Mark Goldfeder, an op-ed at CNN — “Polygamy is back in the headlines.”
“Cuckolding can be positive for some couples, study says” by Ian Kerner, a Health and Parenting article at CNN.
“Tough day at work? Get the toys out” by Andrew Ellson at The Times — “The spirit of Peter Pan lives on in modern Britain with adults buying toys in record numbers, Such is the determination of grown-ups to relive their youth that almost one in five children’s building sets and action figures are bought by over-18s for their personal use.”
These are snippets. See other examples of weirdness in the news and at our universities. For a daily dose of madness by intellectuals, see Alternet, Slate, Salon, and any of the host of Libertarian websites.
Another perspective from someone bearish on humanity
Bill Bonner writes about finance at The Daily Reckoning (and is a founder of the conservative phenomenon The Agora; see this great article about it). He is a doomster and perma-bear, but has an interesting perspective on our situation. From “Corrections”, March 2001…
“Men do stupid things regularly and mad things occasionally. And sometimes, the impulse to self-destruction is so overwhelming it overtakes an entire nation. …The best a person can hope for when he goes mad is that he runs into a brick wall quickly …before he has a chance to build up speed. That is why success, in war and investing, is often a greater menace than failure.
“…people seem to make such obvious and moronic errors that it seems as if they were driven to it by some instinct of self-destruction — like lemmings periodically exterminating themselves in a march off the cliffs. What’s more, this diabolical instinct seems to report for duty at the very moment when the future seems the brightest — that is, when it is most needed! Just when men are most proud, most confident, most expansive in their ambitions and hopes …that is when they make the most lunkheaded judgments.”
True but superficial. Now let’s look deeper
“The owl of Minerva takes its flight only when the shades of night are gathering.”
— Hegel in Philosophy of Right (1821).
Western civilization and the American Republic were built on illusions. Modern science and the progress of rational thought have shattered these without providing substitutes.
Men strived to accumulate wealth to build a family tradition and patrimony. But that is just an imaginary construct about future generations that might not know or care about us. We gloried in our wonderful history, which we now know was stained by acts of extreme evil. We boasted about our land of equal opportunity, which we now is a myth.
Our criminal and civil courts work on the basis of sworn testimony — meaningless in a land where holy words are uttered by most people only as profanity. We marry with promises of “until death do us part” with full awareness of easy divorce — and roughly half press that ejection button.
The big problem
Most important of all is the death of god in our hearts. Our behavioral codes assume that most people will be good even in the night (i.e., when unobserved). That earned a place in Heaven an eternity of mild pleasure; misbehavior brought an eternity of torment. Without heaven and hell the incentives to be good are weak.
Society rests on people’s willingness to respect the prisoner’s dilemma. The bad guys are richly rewarded (so long as they are not caught), until there are too many and the system crashes. Then mutual trust and social cohesion radically decline, and social disorder destroys much of our wealth. — This process has already begun.
We can accelerate that day by bringing in hordes of migrants who consider our ideas to be stupid.
The world has been disenchanted
We know such much more than previous generations did. But much of this knowledge shatters the foundations of society — disorienting us and plunging America into the crazy years. This has happened before. For example, when the flowing of Athenian philosophy — the sophists and Socrates — did the same thing to the polis. It did not end well for them.
The Mandarin characters for “crisis” do not mean “danger” and “opportunity”. But that’s a powerful and optimistic way to see a crisis, like the one I believe has begun.
The Republic has had such moments before and come out stronger than it began. If we try, it can again. We can dream new dreams and create new values. America has everything working for it, except time.
I have faith in all you — in us — so that more citizen involvement will make a better and stronger America. I suspect we cannot imagine the eventually result. Perhaps a better Second Republic (founded on the Constitution). Perhaps a Third Republic.
I do not ask you to share that faith. I ask you only to have faith in yourself, and see us as the crew of America — not its passengers. Pitch in and help. For ideas what to do, see Reforming America: Steps to New Politics.