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...
Ahh, ‘tis a comma-n disorder with which I am quite familiar. I too suffer from this malady—a disorder which leads to, disorder. :)
You are so right about the roaches. I have seen them come out of the woodwork countless times, every time there is an article posted about porn. they come swarming!
“As our senator, he was quite a liberal and a elitist snob.”
He was also one of the few Democrats who both:
Called the disintegration of the black family what it turned out to be.
Supported Israel 100% and served as well at UN Ambassador as Jean Kirkpatrick did
Financially he was a liberal but culturally was the type of Democrat that party needs pretty badly today. I was also one of his constituents and I still remember today his speech in my hometown of Merrick in 1973 after the start of the Yom Kippur War.
We could use more Democrats like him, the country would be far better off than it is today with this group of incompetent, race-baiting, anti-religous (particularly against the Judeo-Christian ethos) clowns.
Nicely done. Exactly. He recommended to nixon a book about disraeli. Hard to figure moynihan out.
People need to realize that ideas lead to actions (culture) and actions lead to consequences. This works both ways...if you start with a good idea it will lead to good actions and good consequences. But as a culture we are starting with a lot of bad ideas...when you remove God as the starting point of your thinking you will have a lot of bad ideas...this has lead to bad actions (culture) and that has lead to bad consequences...porn, abortion, gay marriage, divorce, humanism, etc....
This is probably stated best here...
Galatians 5:19-21 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So if we start with the idea that man is most important (Humanism) we will feed this sinful nature (also called the flesh)...this leads to our actions as listed above and sounding very much like the culture we live in...and these actions lead to a consequence...separation from God and instead living in the mess we find ourselves in...including our economic and political mess.
Most do not see this because they have been trained to think like a humanist...
“The coming of Humanism is so great a change in religion that its significance will be apparent only as people become aware of its implications, probably a generation hence.”
“Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday schools, meeting for an hour once a week, and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?”
“So very humanistic is modern education that no religion has a future unless it be Humanism.”
The above three quotes are all from the book, “Humanism A New Religion” written by Charles Francis Potter in 1930. And he was building on ideas that I can trace back to at least 1897.
We have been trained to work from this idea (man is most important) instead of God being most important. This has lead us to act like animals...as described above, and we are now suffering the consequences.
To change this we need to start from the correct point with the correct idea.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
With out this beginning point we will not see good change...
The Alinsky theory (I think it was Alinsky) is to cause so much economic chaos that people will got for a dictator to straighten everything out.
But I think that’s true of cultural chaos as well. Hitler straightened out the extremely permissive Wiemar Republic decadence. All of a sudden everybody was wearing ledeerhosen and drindle skirts with buttoned-to-the-neck blouses.
Big change.People got utterly sick of the crawling cultural rot of Germany in the 20’s. That might of been part of the reason they went for Hitler.
“We could paraphrase that to “You start with the society that your ancestors gave you. You end up with the society that you deserve.”
The Decline and Fall of The Roman Empire, the UK and now the USA - all brought about by moral decline within. We can argue about how long the Romans took, but the UK decline was caused by the British Labour Party on the left over 13 years, and the boy king barry has almost accomplished it for the USA in two and a half years. Isn't progress wonderful?
Never heard that term before - will use it from here out. As others have mentioned, just look at what's on display in the malls.
You know this but worth repeating: Our founders rejected democracy in its purest form of one man, one vote for the very reason that Democracy's flaw gave the mob access to the treasury among other things. Hence a Constitutional Republic.
America has been on an economic roller coaster ride ever since its inception. We have always managed to pull through the bad times.
The one thing that has not been on a roller coaster ride is the social issues. They have been steadily declining over the past several decades. More recently, that decline has been accelerating at an alarming rate. No amount of 'good' economic news will reverse that. The social fabric of America will certainly determine it's fate at least as much as (and quite possibly more than) economics.
Good use of historical lessons that unfortunately most voters would never consider not knowing anything about pre-WWII Germany, much less what it teaches us. I have always said that when a light bulb goes off in the heads of an American majority...watch out because a dictator will seem sane. We know empty slogans work on Americans regardless of the reality they lack.
You know what they say: “Never get between a libertarian and his hookers and blow.”
Here ya go:
While honest introspection does a person (or in this case, a nation) good, sometimes an outside critic is even better.
We went to a high school football game last night. Haven't been to one in many years.
What a bunch of kids. Girls walking hand in hand, rump rangers, girls that had to be no older than 13-15 dressed in the minimum shorts.
Quite an education.
Somebody already beat you to it. He/she pm’d a different recommendation that I had to confess was more grammatically correct.
Yet....Ingraham hangs up on anyone calling in about Obama’s non-natural born status, and Steyn calls Article II, Section I, of the **Constitution**, a “technicality” . (We can't have rioting over a mere “technicality, you see.)
Culture?, morality?, truth? forgery? identity theft? social security fraud? I guess that doesn't count as “culture” ....When it really mattered Steyn and Ingraham were DOA ( Dead on Arrival)
“We know empty slogans work on Americans regardless of the reality they lack.”
It certainly worked during the last Presidential campaign.
You missed a Steyn ping.
Mark Steyn ping.
You may also compare the similarity of the Soviet and Chinese Communist dictatorships with the predecessor dictatorships--very similar.
Our culture came from a merge of Greek and Roman democracy, leavened by Christian equality, love and mercy. Take out the Christianity and you're left with Roman emperors.
Speaking of which, >
Thanks for the ping.
I can’t help but wonder if our economic & cultural declines have the same root: our vast welfare state.
It’s more than just taking care of the feeble, poor, etc. It’s enabling a whole mindset that has no idea how to build or work together for a larger or greater good. It’s all about “my needs right now”.
We’ve spoiled the child.
...He may be right this time. Unlike other talkers, slash, "I was a republican before, but it pays better to be a conservative" they've been crowing this since Reagan left office. So what choices did we get? McCain the last time. And now, the SOS all over again. The Tea party movement was the right step to take, but, I fear it maybe too late...
...I've been riding on wagon with rusty wheels for a while. Maybe it is time to jump on the Good Old Politician wagon. But, I think it's too soon. Better to just get off the one I'm on and wait for a better one to come along. And if another never shows up, I guess I'll do the same as I've done before. Just walk by myself and make the best of it...
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