American Decline

The Age of Anomie

A US study of social breakdown due to the wrong kinds of development and ‘progress’, with Ireland its ‘lab rat’, vindicates warnings in my 1997 book, ‘An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Modern Ireland’.

Reaping the Whirlwind of  ‘Progress’ 

When we hear talk of ‘the culture wars’, even those of us who take what is called the ‘conservative’ side tend to think purely of factional disagreements that have more to do with ideological attachment, religious affiliation and personal disposition than any objective context in reality. We think of the ‘sides’ — ‘liberals’, ’progressives’, ‘leftists’, versus ‘conservatives’, ‘right-wingers’, ‘traditionalists’ — and reflexively tend to see these descriptions as badges of alliance to something closer to tribes than to different analyses of future possibilities for human society. In part, this has to do with the orchestrated constriction of public debate and discussion over the past decade in particular — i.e. since social media tightened its grip and caused the eruption of Wokeism into every aspect and crevice of public (and increasingly private) life.

For this and other reasons, we rarely any longer remember, in these contexts, that what we are talking about is the very future of the human species — that behind the labels there are real differences of outlook that relate primarily to different options for values and action, each one having enormous implications for the future quality of life on Earth, and the effective running of our societies. The ‘war’ part of ‘culture war’ has become dominant, with the ‘game’ concerning which side is to be the ultimate winner tending to be seen in terms that elevate personal outlooks — ‘tolerance’ and ‘openness’, opposed to ‘xenophobia’ and ‘insularism’, for example — rather than sensible questions about what works and what does not work, what imposes gratuitous damage on society and what objectively improves it, or at least minimises the possibility of lasting damage. Reflectiveness and good sense, even arguing the relative benefits and risks of various options, are no longer part of the process of discussion; they have been eliminated in favour of zealotry and personal animus, and it is easy to see that this has all been part of some kind of plan. When we look to the other side of the battle lines, we see various indicators, emblems and dispositions by which we identify members of our ‘opponents’, whom we have been programmed to resist and attack; but we rarely any longer see the issues at the heart of our mutual disagreement for what they really are: different perspectives on the way human freedom acts to benefit or damage human existence in communities.


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