Looking Forward as the West Declines
Germany’s defeat in World War II was accelerated by Hitler’s unwillingness to accept reports at odds with his increasingly fantastical view of reality. His self-deceptions were believed with such firmness that, by mid-1944, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel concluded that the Führer was living in a Wolkenkuckucksheim (“cloud cuckoo land”).
The same diagnosis applies to the establishment Right, both in Europe and the U.S., which still assert that we live in an imperfect yet improvable world in which the West is dominant and has the energy to reinvent itself. The luminaries at Heritage Foundation, their Euro-doubles, and assorted believers in civic nationalism reject all evidence that the Western world is declining vis-à-vis its global competitors, still advocating legislative solutions to civilizational challenges. For Conservative Inc., any warning that Western power is but a façade which conceals rot and weakness is paleo-reactionary propaganda and unpatriotic defeatism.
On the other hand, for over a century—at least since Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West was published in 1918—there have been warnings by philosophers, political scientists, theologians and others, mainly disbelievers in “progress” and the improvability of man, that our civilization is in peril. They make use of a massive body of evidence to point out that we live in abnormal times, characterized by the collapse of moral norms and civilizational standards on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. The malaise is strikingly augmented in our own time by the metastatic growth of Weiningerian self-hatred throughout the Western world.
Over the past year the U.S. sociopolitical system’s crisis has acquired a mature form, with increasingly frequent outbursts of acute dysfunctionality. The process is manifested primarily in the legitimization of violence, debasement of the “democratic process,” imposition of crude forms of censorship, and criminalization of words and actions unacceptable to the Beltway regime and its cohorts in the media, Big Tech, the academe, and Hollywood.
A horrid new order is being set up. For a brief while it may yet resemble the Old Republic, but only as Count Dracula resembles a living person.
Europe and Anti-Europe
On the eastern side of the Atlantic, much of Europe is being transformed culturally and demographically into a gross caricature of its former self. Its southern maritime border is as porous as the U.S. border with Mexico. Europe’s “secular theocracy” (to borrow Paul Gottfried’s pertinent term) is focused on reforming and reshaping its subjects’ conscience to accept multicultural self-annihilation as an attitude, a set of beliefs, and mandatory policy.
As a result, the Old Continent is increasingly populated by aliens physically residing in Berlin, Toulon, or Leeds, but spiritually in Anatolia, Punjab, or the Maghreb. They are often desperate to get to Europe, but once established there they want to replicate the cultural environments of their unpleasant native lands in their new abode. Full of scorn for the hosts’ cultural Marxist professions of “tolerance” and “diversity,” their disdain is unappeased by groveling concessions.
Today’s “United Europe” is light years away from the civilized and, on the whole, decent community of nations which existed before 1914. The EU does not create social and civilizational commonalities, except on the basis of wholesale denial of authentically European standards and values. The result is dreary cultural sameness of anti-discriminationism and anti-Christian veneration of Otherness.
Nor have the controllers of the EU machine given up on their Superstate project after Brexit. In the loss of diversity of social evolution that goes alongside the diminishing diversity of nature, they seek the obliteration of the identity of European nations, their special color and uniqueness. They see national elections (e.g. in Hungary or Poland) as a nuisance which throws reactionary sovereigntist spanners into their works, such as imposing mandatory quotas of Muslim immigrants on each member country. Their obsessions, which but two generations ago would have been deemed eccentric or insane, now dominate the Western mainstream.
The Treason of the Elite
Almost a century ago Julien Benda published his diatribe against the intellectual corruption of his times, The Treason of the Intellectuals. The “Treason” happened when the intellectual elite gave up promoting lasting civilizational values and allowed short-term political preferences to distort their understanding of the intellectual vocation as such. In 1920s Europe, intellectuals started discarding their regard for traditional philosophical and scholarly ideals, venerating particularisms and moral relativism instead.
Half a century later Christopher Lasch diagnosedthe mature form of Benda’s “treason.” Alluding to José Ortega y Gasset’s Revolt of the Masses, Lasch called his collection of essays The Revolt of the Elites. The phenomenon’s key feature is the detachment of the new professional-managerial elites—lawyers, media commentators, academic experts, think-tank analysts, financial planners, etc.—from traditional, naturally emerging communities. This new elite exists in the abstract world of manipulating information inputs and figures. It generates a new, strongly ideological form of political discourse which is based on secularism, moral and cultural relativism, and its members’ rejection of any sense of attachment to the wider community.
To wit, at the White House Conference on the Industrial World Ahead in February 1972, Carl Gerstacker, Chairman of Dow Chemical, outlined his vision of the “anational” corporation of the near future. “I have long dreamed of buying an island owned by no nation,” he said, and of establishing the Dow world headquarters there, “beholden to no nation or society.”
Two years later, Richard Gardner enthusiastically asserted in Foreign Affairs that the “house of world order” will have to be built from the bottom up rather than from the top down: “an end run around national sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old-fashioned frontal assault.” This was clearly a variation of the Gramscian theme of the long march through the institutions. For his vision and efforts Gardner was subsequently rewarded by Jimmy Carter with ambassadorships to Spain and Italy.
In the same spirit, Bill Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott declared shortly after leaving office that the United States won’t exist “in its current form” in the 21st century because the concept of nationhood itself will become obsolete. Talbott stated in 1992, and reiterated in his 2008 book, The Great Experiment, that in the 21st century “nationhood as we know it will be obsolete; all states will recognize a single, global authority and that all countries are basically social arrangements, accommodations to changing circumstances. No matter how permanent and even sacred they may seem at any one time, in fact they are all artificial and temporary.”
In short, members of the Western elite class know no loyalty to country or nation. They seek a peculiar end of history in the transformation of deracinated and brainwashed hoi polloi into a postmodern sociotechnological system regulated by themselves. Their edifice rests on the dictum that countries do not belong to the people who have inhabited them for generations, but to all who happen to be within their boundaries at a given moment. Enlightened persons must not feel a bond for any group except for allegedly underprivileged minorities. Accordingly, they actively promote self-destruction and encourage self-hate of Caucasians and demonize all white male heterosexuals. They seek the final blending of races, genders, and the burgeoning array of sexual preferences into a pliable melange ruled by Dr. Talbott’s Single Global Authority.
Hope and Resistance
The Founding Fathers overthrew the colonial government for offenses far lighter than these. It is possible that a reversal will happen even at this late stage. The model for recovery probably requires a catastrophic event: a rapidly spreading global crisis perhaps, combining financial meltdown and a truly deadly pandemic. The predictable failure of the regime to manage such a calamity would force millions of people to reconsider their lives and beliefs.
The first victim would be the notion of “progress.” The changeover from the insidious notion of “the right side of history” to the upholding of tradition, from the obsessive becoming back to being, this is the key change to our recovery. The normal, “nuclear” family would be rebuilt as the essential survival unit. Amidst collapsing political structures and lost faith in politics, the current ideological obsessions of our rulers will be rejected as absurd. People bonded by blood, memory, culture and faith will regroup to stay alive and pray to one God. In this respect an additional challenge is presented by ongoing treachery within organized Christianity, the infiltration of the elite class’s fifth columnists to very high ecclesiastic positions.
When contemplating the political theory of Christian resistance, it is important to stress the abyss between the ruling classes’ promise of freedom from things (haters, police violence, offensive speech, white privilege, patriarchy, racism, discrimination etc.), and the opposite kind of liberty, the one that espouses a freedom for things which make life worth living. This framework may offer a consensual platform for various Christian traditions. They must hang together, now, or else they will certainly hang separately.
As they face their regime’s wanton brutality, normal Americans should not despair. The game is not up because nothing in history is “inevitable.” In 1996, a terrible time for the Russian people, I met the famous mathematician and conservative thinker Igor Shafarevich in Moscow and asked him if there was any hope for Russia’s recovery. He answered: “As a mathematician I can’t offer an empirically viable model of recovery; but as an Orthodox Christian, I believe that the benevolent effect of the Holy Spirit is possible, therefore likely, ergo imminent.”
Unnatural, evil ideologies and regimes lack the capacity for permanence. Real people are still endowed with feelings and reason, with the awareness of who they are. Their struggle against the misnamed elites now in power is just. The outcome is uncertain. In the meantime, real Westerners nevertheless can and should hold on to beauty, truth, and faith, and try to enjoy life.