Sunday, May 10, 2009

A velvet revolution, or a concrete one?

In a recent post, "Paddington" compared us with our forefathers, to our detriment. Now, Jeffrey R. Nyquist does the same:

We think that we are more sophisticated than our grandfathers. But we are less sophisticated, by far. Our descent into darkness is best demonstrated by listing old artists beside new artists; by listing old statesmen beside new statesmen; by comparing the lives of our grandparents to our own. The sociologist notices that more children are born outside of marriage, that epidemic cheating has taken our schools by the throat, that we have incompetence in business and government, that we find banality and ignorance on all sides. What conclusion can he draw? The powers and advantages of modern life haven’t made us worthy. They merely serve to amplify and accelerate our unworthiness.

I am amazed by those who think the U.S. economy is going to recover, that global peace is attainable, that American liberties are going to survive American barbarism. Look at our culture today: men are no longer men, and women are no longer women; capitalists no longer uphold free market principles; constitutional government no longer adheres to the Constitution; enemies are treated as friends. Nobody reads the signs. Nobody sees what is coming. Look at the birthrate among Europeans. Look at the abandonment of European culture. Look at the Muslim birthrate. Europe will be Islamic in fifty years. Long before that, the Russians and Chinese will achieve nuclear dominance of the globe. What do you think the investment climate will be in 2059?

Again and again, we are reminded that the issues are much bigger than mere money. I think that we could be on the verge of a social and political revolution, especially if whoever next takes on our nations' problems fails as signally as the present administration. To be clear, I don't welcome revolution, and don't expect its aftermath to be better than the state of affairs that preceded it. There must be effective reform, soon.

9 comments:

AntiCitizenOne said...

I think you are suffering from a terrible survivor bias.

Sackerson said...

Bit too gnomic, that, ACO; can you expand, please?

hatfield girl said...

When our children were at school in Florence there friends were called Cosimo, Lorenzo, Elena, Neri, Beatrice, Ginevra, ...

In England the names of classmates were unintelligible. And very hard to spell, even for their owners, so that they enjoyed a fluidity their owners' identities must have found unnerving.

This wasn't a class thing. It was a dislocation of cultural identity. Or rather, the expression of another cultural priority. One proof of this was in the names of the children of sub-continental descent, which were clearly loaded with links to family and home culture.

It's not European culture that's been abandoned, its 'high' culture, and traditional practice. High culture other than European is being lost too, though traditional is resisting better than is our own. High culture is difficult to access; it's hard to understand and technically difficult to express for anyone who wishes to be a practioner. It costs a lot of time and money to train people into its enjoyment, let alone to be able to develop it and add to it. A painter, musician, poet, philosopher, mathematician will need decades of training beginning very young, and many will fail. Both traditional and, even more, high culture, impose inequalities, hierarchies, distinctions - all rejected by our current sociopolitical ethos.

Add that to the irreversible impoverishment of the advanced capitalist countries and yes, we will be joining the Sumerians shortly.

Paddington said...

I think that part of the problem may be that the West has enjoyed a long period of wealth and peace - bascially since 1945 or so. It enabled a lot of less than stellar people to gain the positions of power in our governments and culture.

Sackerson said...

HG, thanks for your illuminated comment.

P: think you're right, esp. in recent decades.

wildgoose said...

I suspect that a lot of the problem is down to the disparagement of any kind of culture and achievement, it merely being sniffily dismissed as the work of "Dead White European Males".

Sackerson said...

I don't get the objection - if they were dead they couldn't have done it - after all, it's a sufficient defence in law.

Paddington said...

wildgoose - that goes along with what I said. The proliferation and influence of such intellectuals as 'feminist scholars' is a sign of too much wealth, and not enough concentration on quality.

AntiCitizenOne said...

Nah, "Feminist Scholars" is a sign of too much extortion in education.

Also it's "High Culture" I-know-best-for-you types that have got the rest of us into this mess in the first place.

People haven't changed in the last 50,000 years, but the burden of government has.