Skip to comments.A Tale of Two Declines: Even if the economy were to fix itself, we'd still face cultural challenges
Posted on 09/03/2011 7:05:38 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
was on a very long flight the other day and, to get me through it, I had two books: the new bestseller Of Thee I Zing by Laura Ingraham, and a book I last read twenty years ago, The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth. The former is the latest hit from one of Americas most popular talk radio hosts; the latter is an Austrian novel from 1932 by a fellow who drank himself to death just before the Second World War, which, if youre planning on drinking yourself to death, is a better pretext than most. Dont worry, Ill save the Germanic alcoholic guy for a couple of paragraphs, although the two books are oddly related.
Of Thee I Zings subtitle is Americas Cultural Decline: From Muffin Tops To Body Shots. If you are sufficiently culturally aware to know what a muffin top and a body shot are (and incidentally, if you dont have time to master all these exciting new trends, these two can be combined into one convenient muffin shot), you may not think them the most pressing concerns as the Republic sinks beneath its multitrillion-dollar debt burden. But, as Miss Ingraham says, Even if our economic and national security challenges disappeared overnight, wed still have to climb out of the cultural abyss into which weve tumbled.
Actually, I think Id go a little further than the author on that. Im a great believer that culture trumps economics. Every time the government in Athens calls up the Germans and says, okay, weve burned through the last bailout, time for the next one, Angela Merkel understands all too well that the real problem in Greece is not the Greek finances but the Greek people. Even somnolent liberal columnists grasp this: a recent Thomas Friedman column in the New York Times was headlined, Can Greeks Become Germans? I think we all know the answer to that. Any society eventually winds up with the finances youd expect. So think of our culture as one almighty muffin shot, with America as a giant navel filled with the cheap tequila of our rising debt and# #no, wait, this metaphors getting way out of hand.
These are difficult issues for social conservatives to write about. When we venture into this terrain, were invariably dismissed as uptight squares who cant get any action. That happens to be true in my case, but Laura Ingraham has the advantage of being a pretty girl, as disgraced Congressman Charlie Rangel made the mistake of calling her on TV the other day in an interview that went hilariously downhill thereafter. So, she has a little more credibility on this turf than I would. She opens with a lurid account of a recent visit to a north Virginia mall zombie teens texting, a thirtysomething metrosexual having his eyebrows threaded, a fiftysomething cougar spilling out of her tube top, grade-schoolers in the latest prostitot fashions and then embarks on a lively tour of American cultural levers, from schools to social media to churches to Hollywood. If there is a common theme in the various rubble of cultural ruin, its the urge to enter adolescence ever earlier and leave it later and later, if at all. So we have skanky tweens dry humping at middle-school dances, and an ever greater proportion of men in their thirties living at home with their parents.
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“The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.”
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
As our senator, he was quite a liberal and a elitist snob.
The Neal Boortz libertarians are crowing about the importance of focusing solely on economics and the dangers of raising social issues in the upcoming election year. It’s not hard to see why. Even among self-styled conservatives, the social issues hit way too close to home. Just bring up the topic of pornography on this site, and the roaches come out of the woodwork to defend their cherished freedom to masturbate to whatever turns them on. But Steyn is precisely right: a culture in decline will keep on declining, no matter how sensible the economic policies its leaders manage to put down on paper.
Why does it take foreigners like Tocqueville and Steyn to remind us what America is all about? It’s very discouraging when you see Canadians across the border in some ways becoming more conservative and America wanting to become more to like Europe.
Heck, even Cuba started cutting government spending.
A truly “conservative” (in the sense of modern “conservatism”) society doesn’t need to be changed to save it from itself. Moynihan was wrong. The actions of politics in changing our society has left it bereft of those values that are noble and ennobling, yielding a crass, cynical, hard and corrupt society dominated by selfishness and self-seeking.
Truth! and good thoughts.
Well aware of that fact, but that does not render him unquotable nor diminish the honesty of his comment which suggests the obvious fallacy of liberalism.
My point exactly. I was just trying to point out the differences with an emphasis on the impracticality of the liberal perspective.
Well done, Mr. Steyn.
Just prepare now for the violence and shortages on the horizon.
Twenty years ago people were complaining about kids killing for a pair of 'cool' tennis shoes or an athletic jacket...think about what these same people will do when they're hungry and there are no Big Macs to be had.
...Boortz, et all, get my ear, for a while, if just for entertainment. And, that’s all they really are. Agree sometimes, dis-agree sometimes, pissed off at the lot either way most times...
The defining characteristic of the liberal mind is naivete. The economy is crap because the culture has imploded. Fix the culture and the economy follows suit. Get rid of the rats, the muzzies, and the anarchists for starters.
I believe Lincoln said something like "You are born with the face that God gave you, at 45 you have the face that you deserve."
We could paraphrase that to "You start with the society that your ancestors gave you. You end up with the society that you deserve."
Daniel Patrick Moynihan is an interesting study of cognitive dissonance.
He clearly diagnoses the problem, knows the right solution to the problem, then goes on and supports the solutions that excacerbate the problem.
I call him the problem diagnoser, not the problem solver.
It is the sinking realization that no democracy has lasted very long. Even well run Republics go into decline, and eventually are replaced. So far, we haven't yet lasted as long as the Venetian Republic!
So, the real questions are, "What's next?" Perhaps more important, "When and how?"
...Yea, the Republic is overdue for a revolution. Ideologies and outright sophists are lining up against each other. It's going to be ugly, but, maybe it's time to get rid of the bad blood...