Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Perpetuating Moral Childhood and the Decline of the West
The West is losing its religion, and, perhaps, there’s no greater indication of it than the clamor for “my rights!”
“My right” to off my offspring.
“My right” to off myself.
“My right” to marry whomever (and how many, coming soon) I want, no matter how it violates the natural order of family and marriage.
“My right” to protest the flag and anthem of the country that made my abundantly privileged American life possible.
The rights-ethic western civilization has developed is the photo-negative of the Christian Gospel (with a loving hat-tip to our Jewish brothers), which is briefly summarized in St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:5-8):
…Jesus Christ, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
What is being conveyed here? The highest form of being (God Himself – the Great I Am) is one of self-donation in service to the good of others. It is self-abnegation – the very opposite of grubby humans grasping at “rights” or anything else.
This post was inspired by a recent series of articles I’ve read recounting and explaining the moral and cultural degradation of the West, which was affirmed in a homily given by Bishop Robert Barron, titled, “You Are Not Your Own.” In it, Bishop Barron refers to the work of Fr. Richard Rohr on the initiation rituals of primitive peoples, and how their aim is to introduce adolescents to adulthood by making apparent the adult facts of life, and, ultimately, by bringing the youngsters into contact with the sacred:
- Life is hard,
- You are not that important,
- You are not in control,
- You’re going to die,
- Your life is not about you.
Nearly every child not already living in hardship and dysfunction believes the complete opposite of these things. All her needs are met and then some. Her helicopter parents lead her to believe she is the center of the universe. She controls everyone around her with the slightest frown or wrinkle of her nose indicating her disappointment. Dying is what old people do. And, by all appearances, her life is completely and utterly about her desires being met and any suffering (or natural consequences) being avoided. This might be reasonable thinking in a six-year-old. But, lately, we’re seeing it in 20-, 30-, and 46-year-olds. What gives?
I believe it is a worthwhile effort to connect the dots between this series of articles on complex issues about which I have only a superficial understanding. Bear with me.
Let’s begin in late 18th-century Germany (it’s always the Germans, isn’t it? I’m allowed to say that given my extensive German ancestry) via Robert Curry’s brief and excellent article explaining “What’s the Matter with Germany.” Curry’s article helped me understand our inclusion of Germany as part of “the West” is in error. Germany is the ideological home of the counter-Enlightenment (Romanticism) and the postmodernism which afflicts the West, most profoundly and with genocidal effects in the two world wars of the 20th century. Curry cites the work of Gertrude Himmelfarb (The Roads to Modernity: The British, French, and American Enlightenments), Stephen Hicks (Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault), and quotes directly Isaiah Berlin (The Roots of Romanticism):
…common sense, moderation, was very far from their thoughts … there was a great turning towards emotionalism … an outbreak of craving for the infinite … admiration of wild genius, outlaws, heroes, aestheticism, self-destruction.
Sound familiar? Berlin again:
This is the beginning of … the Nietzschean figure who wishes to raze to the ground a society whose system of values is such that a superior person … cannot operate in terms of it, and therefore prefers to destroy it … [who] prefers self-destruction, suicide…
Curry uses this to explain Angela Merkel’s apparent death-wish-by-Islamists. She stubbornly insists on accepting Muslim “refugees” despite the objective harm they are causing her people and their culture. It’s irrational, but it suits her romantic ideals.
But, wait. It gets worse. Even prior to Germans attempting to destroy other nations (WWI and WWII) and destroying themselves (under Merkel), one of them discovered perhaps the most insidious and humanly irresistible ways to the self-destruction of any human society ever conceived: the sexual revolution.
It was through J. Douglas Johnson’s article, “An Explanation for the Bewildered,” I was introduced to Wilhelm Reich, Sigmund Freud’s colleague, a self-described Freudo-Marxist, and the man who coined the term, “sexual revolution.” But, despite our contemporary notion of the sexual revolution as simply sexual liberality, Reich conceived the idea with malice aforethought. From Johnson’s article:
Karl Marx taught that the “first requisite for the happiness of the people is the abolition of religion,” which in Europe and Russia meant Judaism and Christianity. Reich believed that his sexual revolution would eradicate the Jewish and Christian faith. Pay attention closely now, it is necessary to connect the dots.
Wilhelm Reich understood that religious faith is sustained and passed down through the natural family. And so he concluded that the natural family must be dethroned, disrupted, and ultimately redefined to cut off this contagion of faith. Fatherless homes aren’t church-going homes, which is why the officially atheist Soviet Union abolished the term “illegitimate children” as one of its first decrees, followed by the streamlining of Russian divorce laws.
But Reich knew the brute forces of the Soviet government would never work in Europe and America. There, he said, the family would have to destroy itself from within. And so he formulated a plan to do just that. And once his plan was underway, Reich said, no power on earth would be able to stop it.
Reich correctly surmised that the way to knock the props out from underneath the American family would be to condition Western man to see contraception, fornication, adultery, pornography, sodomy, etc. as perfectly normal and not unhealthy things. And he saw sex education in schools as the best way to “divest parents of their moral authority.” The late Italian philosopher Augusto Del Noce described Reich’s book The Sexual Revolution as “the Mein Kampf of permissivism.”
“The Mein Kampf of permissivism” seems worth repeating. It’s only a short step from “that which is not prohibited is permitted” to “that which is permitted is my right.” This is especially true in a society which has come to believe (term used ironically) that rights descend from government (its laws and their enforcement) rather than Nature (natural rights) and Nature’s God, a la Chuck Todd.
Where does that leave us? I’ll get back to the destructive sexual consequences shortly, but first, let’s revisit the NFL protest. Bill Kilgore (a pseudonym for a writer currently serving in the US military) deftly weaves together the problem of rights versus obligations and right versus wrong in “Trump, Football, and Natural Right(s).” It isn’t that NFL players don’t have a “right” to exercise the First Amendment on the field during the national anthem. It’s that they’re wrong to do it. They may think they’re signaling their social justice virtue, but what they’re really showing us is their ignorance of and ingratitude for their cultural heritage (thanks, postmodern public school system!).
If you look at the present state of children in any society, we will see the future that our world can expect tomorrow. Show me your civic lessons of today and I will show you your civic leaders of tomorrow. Show me your history lessons of today and I will show you your political leaders of tomorrow. Show me the loving bonds between your families today and I will show you the patriotism and moral clarity of your nation tomorrow. Our choices on how we raise and educate our children will in fact provide the blueprint for the next generation.
These words were spoken by Melania Trump in a little-publicized speech to the United Nations (surprise!). She is speaking the language of Lincoln’s civic religion (“the solemn pride … to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom”), which has been virtually eliminated in this country’s schools, with the exception of little outposts of western civilization in small towns and a couple colleges unreachable by the leftist-infected government. It isn’t just Judaism and Christianity the West is losing … I’d like to see the NFL players protest the loss of patriotism!
Finally, the destructive rights-ethics, postmodern concepts originating in Germany and spreading like syphilis in a whorehouse throughout the West aren’t just destroying society and families; they’re destroying individuals. Jennifer Roback Morse makes the case that Harvey Weinstein’s victims are the fallout from the sexual revolution and the feminist sexual entitlement mentality in her article, “Toxic Ideas Enabled Harvey Weinstein’s Enablers.” I believe it. And Ben Shapiro argues that the next step down the slope is the normalization of pedophilia in “Hollywood Star Embraces Incest.” I’ll believe that, too, as soon as we learn Kevin Spacey’s fate.
There’s an answer to this. It’s in the authentic virtues inculcated and reinforced every weekend in your local church and synagogue. It’s summarized in Christ’s answer to the question, “Which is the greatest commandment?”
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
And also in his words, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” It’s not about what you’re owed – it’s about what you owe. It starts with parents forming their own consciences and then doing their part to raise their children to be virtuous adults and good citizens.
If you wish to save western civilization, you’ll get thy rear ends back in the pew this weekend and stop sending thy kids to public schools and paying university leftists’ salaries.Published in