Everyone once and awhile, however, I'll run across something that, while short, is so significant, that it deserves more than a a "random snippet" comment, maybe. The risk in commenting on something like this is that a person, in trying to unpack the comment, can actually do it damage. I hope that I don't do that.
I'll also note that one of the real risks of having a blog like this is that sooner or later people really begin to get a clue on how you think. . . which can be dangerous. But then, maybe people have a duty to be honest.
Anyhow, this is a quote from English historian Christopher Dawson, form the blog-site dedicated to him. His writing are always interesting, but this one is really prophetic.
The peoples who allow the natural bases of society to be destroyed by the artificial conditions of the new urban civilisation will gradually disappear and their place will be taken by those populations which live under simpler conditions and preserve the traditional forms of the family.
Christoper Dawson, from his History of Religion and Culture.
This is somewhat related, I'll note, to a quote from Belloc from a blog run by the same fellow, that being:
Cultures spring from religions; ultimately the vital force which maintains any culture is its philosophy, its attitude toward the universe; the decay of religion involves the decay of the culture corresponding to it—we see that most clearly in the breakdown of Christendom today.
Belloc, Dawson and Chesterton, who all had statements of this type, are all now dead. It's easy, therefore, for the critics of this line of thinking to dismiss there statements. "We haven't collapsed yet" is the pat reply.
Well, maybe not so fast on that.
Indeed, these statements are downright prophetic.
I've long worried that in our struggle with Islamic extremism we were missing certain points that they have, and as we miss them, we can't, and we won't, address them. Indeed, in a battle of ideas and philosophies, you can't win, if you don't have any ideas and your philosophy is that any philosophy is as good as another. I think a lot of people, frankly, realize that to some extent, but because the prevailing small "l" liberal elites truly believe the opposite and shout down anyone who maintains this, we aren't hearing much about it. Chesterton, Belloc and Dawson, when they were writing, saw the manifestations of it, at a time at which it was already very highly developed amongst the elite classes but at a time at which it had not yet seeped down to the middle classes and lower classes. Now it has. They weren't wrong, they were just early and still had an audience that understood what they were saying. Now that audience is very small, and the bulk of the population may have a difficult time grasping the argument. And as the argument is, in some ways, as essential feature of an argument we are having with Islam, that really matters.
In other words, we may be loosing the war. Not on the front. But on the battlefield of ideas. As we don't really have any. Or not many. Or maybe many, and many good ones, but we lack an understanding of what they are pinned on, and if without a solid foundation, they're on pretty shaky ground.
I know that we say we have deep ideals. We say we're for "freedom" or maybe "democracy", but those words don't mean much if they aren't formed in a rational context. Freedom doesn't actually mean absolute license. That's anarchy, which isn't free, as everyone is then slave to everyone else's personal whims. Nor does freedom mean that everyone is free to define their own values as that would attempt a freedom so radical that it would free a person from nature itself, which is impossible, exceedingly narcissistic, and warped. But that's actually the definition of freedom and "values" which our highly liberal society has basically adopted. And it's pretty darned shallow. Values have to be absolutes or aim at absolutes, if they are to mean anything.
That our currently prevailing concept of values is exceedingly shallow is pretty obvious to other cultures, whether they are grounded in Western values or not. African cultures which were once colonized by the West and which adopted Western values now legitimately look askance at us as having become rather debased. Middle Eastern cultures, which are not Westernized, often view us as wholly corrupt.
And that's' the problem. We can hardly argue for free will, a cultural aspect that is Western, if we do not also acknowledge that free will means that a person can freely opt to yield to their own imperfections, or at least that imperfections exist. That is, without acknowledging that can and and does exist as a state of nature, we appear to be lying to ourselves and everyone else. The fellow in the gutter can claim to be sitting on a thrown, but at the point at which we all must pretend he's on a thrown, we all look pretty messed up. A genius can opt to work as a convenience clerk, or not at all, but the point at which we must pretend that lives up to his potential we are all living below ours. A person can live with their own imperfections, struggle to overcome them, or simply yield to them, but a person can't argue that imperfections which are contrary to obvious nature are to be celebrated or that others have a moral duty to pretend that no imperfections exist.
But that's pretty much the point we are at right now.
This past week, as an example, the Federal government declared that those who are in one gender and switch by surgical means to another must be accepted in the Army in that condition. This isn't tolerance, its in contravention to nature. Indeed, even the DSM still defines people in this condition as having a mental illness, although it no doubt will take that out once the people who define what is and isn't an illness operate to take this out, as they undoubtedly will, demonstrating how little science goes into psychology. A person can't change genders any more than they can change species. It's impossible. There are only two. That's nature. Surgery to change that is deeply debased and indeed one of the pioneering US operations that did that has stopped due to the high risks of suicide it was found to entail. That society would now pretend its okay shows that we have a pretty debased society.
We didn't get here all at once, to be sure. And it is not as if we have not always had our problems. But the pace of this descent is accelerating markedly. At some point after the Second World War we lost track of a concept that the dignity of work was largely in providing for a person's family, and not an exercise in self accumulation. That really turned the focus on ourselves over anyone else. In the 1960s this grew more pronounced, to be aided by a pharmaceutical development in the early 1970s, so that even those acts that were personal to couples and associated with keeping the species around became mere entertainment for the self. That naturally developed to what we have now, where entire bodies of law are actually devoted to nothing other than a person's basest biological urges and how they can manipulate it for temporary satisfaction. The concept that a person would even be defined, or self define, based on that is a stunning decline in seriousness. When Justice Kennedy gave voice to a judicial coup this past year, trampling on any legal and sane reading of the U.S. Constitution, it ushered in the full era of obsession with gender being defined by the self as being , essentially, the defining characteristic of the Western World as viewed from the outside.
It isn't as it hasn't been notice, and reacted to. Early in our struggle with Al Queda analysis into what drove western born Muslims into the arms of extremists found that they were generally horrified by the personal conduct of westerners in this area, which in their view demonstrated that the west was corrupt and meant that the expression of high ideals by the west was largely a sham. And indeed cultures that can think of nothing better to stand for than absolute license in the bedroom really don't stand for anything worth standing for.
Some remnant of the earlier standards do exist, although there is little to thank some of the supposed standard bearers for in regards to that. And indeed its oddly been noticed by some of the same demographic. In Europe it's been recently noted that there's an increasing waive of conversion to the old Christian churches by Muslim immigrants, and in the Middle East itself its apparently a huge underground movement as well. The irony of this is that these people, who have been exposed to the horror of the Islamic sanction of violence and have lost their faith in Islam, do indeed recognized what it was that made the West a decent society with strong ideals in the first place, Christianity.
It wasn't the Socialist theorist like Marx, or the supposedly enlightened figures of late 18th Century France, who brought into Europe, an thence to the Western Hemisphere, and thence around the globe, high minded concepts like democracy, rights for women, respect for the poor, equality of the races, and the like. That was Christianity. Nearly anything decent and honorable in European and European influenced cultures originates there. And nearly anything that stands in contrast with traditional Christian moral concepts tends to have a disturbing origin in our society.
Where all of this leads in the end nobody can be sure. But in a giant struggle of the "West" v Islamic extremism, Islam, right now, has an advantage in that they it at least credits a standard of nature, even if it looks at through warped lenses from our prospective. We stand, right now, mostly for mush. It will be hard to beat a determined enemy with a concrete concept of theology and metaphysics if we stand nothing more for how far we can push the envelope in an area which used to mostly be the deep property of married persons. If we don't reform that, we likely won't win. Perhaps hopefully, while we self obsess on what makes us "personally fulfilled", and while Justice Kennedy and his fellow travelers reduce the Constitution to the song lyrics from an episode of Ren and Stimpy, those who have come in more recently sometimes understand our old ideals, and what they stem from, better than we seemingly do.