Hard Times Create Strong Men…

 

I saw this on Facebook this morning. I thought it might be oversimplified or exaggerated — I went to ask a Roman what he thought, but I couldn’t find any.  So I’ll ask my friends on Ricochet — do you think this is true? If so, is it inevitable? How can this be avoided?

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  1. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    Of course it’s true but the mechanism is complicated.

    • #1
  2. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I don’t know that it works any differently now than it did in the Book of Judges.

    • #2
  3. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    It reminds me of this:

    “From bondage to spiritual faith;
    From spiritual faith to great courage;
    From courage to liberty;
    From liberty to abundance;
    From abundance to complacency;
    From complacency to apathy;
    From apathy to dependence;
    From dependence back into bondage.”

     

     

    • #3
  4. Umbra of Nex, Fractus Inactive
    Umbra of Nex, Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    Dr. Bastiat:

    I saw this on Facebook this morning. I thought it might be over-simplified or exaggerated – I went to ask a Roman what he thought, but I couldn’t find any. So I’ll ask my friends on Ricochet – do you think this is true? If so, is it inevitable? How can this be avoided?

    True? Yes. Inevitable? No.

    How do we avoid it? I think Jonah Goldberg has the right idea; gratitude is the key. It’s been said that one of the differences between Conservatives and Progressives is that Conservatives look at what came before (not to mention the rest of the world) and are grateful for how far we’ve come while Progressives look at an imagined future and are bitter that we’re not there yet. So, I guess you could say that it’s not an issue of  strong men vs. weak men so much as grateful men vs. entitled men.

    • #4
  5. AltarGirl Member
    AltarGirl
    @CM

    Dr. Bastiat: So I’ll ask my friends on Ricochet – do you think this is true? If so, is it inevitable? How can this be avoided?

    True: yes. Inevitable: Mixed, but likely. Avoided: Jesus comes back.

    The inevitability of it is repeated over and over in the Old Testament. This is Israel’s story.

    I think it can be significantly slowed by elevating tradition over rapid change, wisdom and respect for elders, and a pride and love for what your ancestors have accomplished – enough to want to guard your inheritance and make it continue to flourish.

    I don’t think it stops it entirely. There will always be those who flaunt the past, but with fewer added each generation, the slower it goes.

    • #5
  6. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    I agree with several others here: True? Yes. Inevitable? Not necessarily.

    It’s interesting how it “rhymes” with “creative destruction/market forces”. While there are always strong and capable citizens, there are also weak, entitled and irresponsible ones. It seems that when power (and societal losses) are centralized and when success & prosperity are stifled & retarded, that’s where the real trouble & decline starts.

    More federalism – 50 experiments. Let California & Illinois fail. The other 48 will work to not follow their lead.

    • #6
  7. Jim Beck Inactive
    Jim Beck
    @JimBeck

    Morning Umbra,

    Following that other Hoosier, The Reticulator, concerning the history of gratitude, I point to Number 11:5-6:  “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the onions, and the garlic:  But now our soul is dried away; there is nothing at all beside the manna, before our eyes.”

    So from the beginning of  first man, Eden was not enough and gratitude is not easily cultivated and is even harder to maintain.  So Jonah says all we need is gratitude; this observation is among the least helpful observations one can make.  The question is:  how do cultures preserve the beliefs, habits and behaviors, which are essential to its survival and essential to the success of the culture’s individuals.  When Jonah tells us how cultures transmit those essential values to its members and to the next generation, then he will have offered us information of great usefulness. 

    • #7
  8. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Umbra of Nex, Fractus (View Comment):

    Dr. Bastiat:

    I saw this on Facebook this morning. I thought it might be over-simplified or exaggerated – I went to ask a Roman what he thought, but I couldn’t find any. So I’ll ask my friends on Ricochet – do you think this is true? If so, is it inevitable? How can this be avoided?

    True? Yes. Inevitable? No.

    How do we avoid it? I think Jonah Goldberg has the right idea; gratitude is the key. It’s been said that one of the differences between Conservatives and Progressives is that Conservatives look at what came before (not to mention the rest of the world) and are grateful for how far we’ve come while Progressives look at an imagined future and are bitter that we’re not there yet. So, I guess you could say that it’s not an issue of strong men vs. weak men so much as grateful men vs. entitled men.

    Exactly right.  Mr. She has long said that in a land of entitlement, the scarce resource is gratitude.  Glad Jonah Goldberg, at least, has finally caught up with him.  Will have to read up on that.

     

    • #8
  9. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    I echo others here: faith and gratitude are the only things that save us from decadent weakness and decline.

    Gratitude is not only the aspect of conservatism, it is the constant refrain of organized traditional Judaism and Christianity. I say “organized” because it is through rituals and regular times for prayer and reflection that a person changes themselves and learns to keep perspective. 

    There is a reason why America is alone in the West in maintaining a nativeborn population: we are the most religious of all Western nations. Having babies and raising young men and women is the ultimate form of investing in the future, avoiding sloth and wasted lives.

    • #9
  10. AltarGirl Member
    AltarGirl
    @CM

    Jim Beck (View Comment):
    The question is: how do cultures preserve the beliefs, habits and behaviors, which are essential to its survival and essential to the success of the culture’s individuals.

    I think learning how to go without is the most crucial element in preserving those habits. If you are used to having access to all you want or need at all times, it’s hard to be satisfied in freedom that requires doing without. It could be misplaced gratitude only serves to keep us enslaved.

    This is where Orthodoxy succeeds where most fail.
     

    • #10
  11. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Except that the “strong men” of the past saddled us with their ponzi schemes, and worthless government programs. They gave us both the good times and the bad times. Plus the 60’s and 70’s were far worse a time especially the 70’s than we have today in terms of violence poverty etc. So I reject the insinuation against Millennials completely. The WWII generation affirmed and solidified the progressive welfare state in the United States, and their legal theories have done great damage to the Constitution.  

     

     

    • #11
  12. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    There is an old saying, shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.  Or as the Scottish say, “The Scottish say “The father buys, the son builds, the grandchild sells, and his son begs.”

    It is not inevitable in a family, but there is a long history of it happening.  On a national scale, I think it is almost impossible to avoid. Every dominant country eventually becomes the victim of its own success.  America is not immune from the tides of history.  

    I know, I’m a pessimist. 

    • #12
  13. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they seemed to become with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for them, perhaps, it was easier for them to see that something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow. When the world was in darkness and wretchedness, it could believe in perfection and yearn for it. But when the world became bright with reason and riches, it began to sense the narrowness of the needle’s eye, and that rankled for a world no longer willing to believe or yearn. Well, they were going to destroy it again, were they ‘ this garden Earth, civilized and knowing, to be torn apart again that man might hope again in wretched darkness

    –Walter Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz

    • #13
  14. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Also:

    To minimize suffering and to maximize security were natural and proper ends of society and Caesar. But then they became the only ends, somehow, and the only basis of law—a perversion. Inevitably, then, in seeking only them, we found only their opposites: maximum suffering and minimum security.

    Same source as above

    • #14
  15. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    It’s pretty much the whole thesis of The Fourth Turning:

    • #15
  16. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    David Foster (View Comment):
    The closer men came to perfecting for themselves a paradise, the more impatient they seemed to become with it, and with themselves as well. They made a garden of pleasure, and became progressively more miserable with it as it grew in richness and power and beauty; for them, perhaps, it was easier for them to see that something was missing in the garden, some tree or shrub that would not grow.

    Ok, yeah, but has it not always been thus?  People have always been disillusioned by progress, and yet progress continues to occur.  This suggests that disillusionment isn’t a progress-killer.

    • #16
  17. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    One problem with the meme: It would be more powerful if they’d used an example of hard times making strong men that didn’t require state intervention.

    In the first panel, the men became strong because states went to war.

    In the final panel, the times are hard because of localized economic collapse.

    So, does that mean there has to be a World War in order for the cycle to continue?

    (Note: Of the six men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, at least three were conscripts. They were made strong against their will.)

    • #17
  18. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Except that the “strong men” of the past saddled us with their ponzi schemes, and worthless government programs. They gave us both the good times and the bad times. Plus the 60’s and 70’s were far worse a time especially the 70’s than we have today in terms of violence poverty etc. So I reject the insinuation against Millennials completely. The WWII generation affirmed and solidified the progressive welfare state in the United States, and their legal theories have done great damage to the Constitution.

    I guess I really don’t see the insinuation about millenials.  At age 60 I see plenty of people my age and older exhibit the worst of the traits in the OP.  I know that if I try to have a discussion about social security with other boomers the response is usually incoherent rage.

     

    • #18
  19. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Another point: In the second panel, one could argue that a big reason the times were good was because North America’s industrial competitors had been bombed flat, and not because the men were strong.

    On the other hand, one could counter-argue that during those good times North American industry (and, indeed, society) was being led by men who had learned how to be leaders by serving as officers in wartime.

    It’s tricky.

    (To be clear: I like the meme.  I’m just sayin’ that the design isn’t unassailable.  It might work better without any images.)

    • #19
  20. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    Another point: In the second panel, one could argue that a big reason the times were good was because North America’s industrial competitors had been bombed flat, and not because the men were strong.

    I’ve always said, there’s nothing wrong with the American economy that a sustained 6-year conventional bombing campaign against the rest of the industrialized world can’t solve.

    • #20
  21. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    One problem with the meme: It would be more powerful if they’d used an example of hard times making great men that didn’t require state intervention.

    In the first panel, the men became great because states went to war.

    In the final panel, the times are hard because of localized economic collapse.

    So, does that mean there has to be a World War in order for the cycle to continue?

    Yes, and massive Kensian economics. People are over romanticizing the past. I loved my grandparents too, and it is both right and proper to admire them and what they did. But the 50’s were not a better time than the present. The world was far more dangerous, lives were shorter, people were poorer, work was harder, and I could go on. The scorn of the present in view of a once golden era is delusional. 

     

    • #21
  22. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):
    Another point: In the second panel, one could argue that a big reason the times were good was because North America’s industrial competitors had been bombed flat, and not because the men were strong.

    I’ve always said, there’s nothing wrong with the American economy that a sustained 6-year conventional bombing campaign against the rest of the industrialized world can’t solve.

    That’s North America’s problem.  It keeps wasting resources bombing poor countries.

    • #22
  23. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    iWe (View Comment):

    I echo others here: faith and gratitude are the only things that save us from decadent weakness and decline.

    Gratitude is not only the aspect of conservatism, it is the constant refrain of organized traditional Judaism and Christianity. I say “organized” because it is through rituals and regular times for prayer and reflection that a person changes themselves and learns to keep perspective.

    There is a reason why America is alone in the West in maintaining a nativeborn population: we are the most religious of all Western nations. Having babies and raising young men and women is the ultimate form of investing in the future, avoiding sloth and wasted lives.

    “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”

    Forget that, and you may as well forget the rest of everything.

    • #23
  24. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    But the 50’s were not a better time than the present.

    Yabbut, they sure did produce some pretty-looking automobiles.
     

    • #24
  25. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    iWe (View Comment):
    There is a reason why America is alone in the West in maintaining a nativeborn population: we are the most religious of all Western nations. Having babies and raising young men and women is the ultimate form of investing in the future, avoiding sloth and wasted lives.

    The US fertility rate has been below replacement level since 1979.  It just seems like the US is maintaining a nativeborn population by comparison to Europe.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_fertility_rate#United_States

    • #25
  26. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    One problem with the meme: It would be more powerful if they’d used an example of hard times making great men that didn’t require state intervention.

    In the first panel, the men became great because states went to war.

    In the final panel, the times are hard because of localized economic collapse.

    So, does that mean there has to be a World War in order for the cycle to continue?

    Yes, and massive Kensian economics. People are over romanticizing the past. I loved my grandparents too, and it is both right and proper to admire them and what they did. But the 50’s were not a better time than the present. The world was far more dangerous, lives were shorter, people were poorer, work was harder, and I could go on. The scorn of the present in view of a once golden era is delusional.

    I think the fifties may have been some sort of halcyon period. In fact, I think it was probably the most wonderful time to be alive in a century.

    The joy of that era had nothing to do with any of the things you’ve mentioned.

    The war was over.

    I did not realize how strong the impact of that one event–the war being over–was until I watched An American in Paris a few years ago. The movie does a really great job portraying the mind and mood of postwar Americans.

    Not only was the war over, but we owned the world. We were not as devastated by it as the rest of the world was. We entered the war at the end, and then we ended it. In Americans’ minds, that how it sounded.

    The exuberant emotions circulating in the fifties were very much the result of the war’s ending. And people remember their emotions, their feeling happy at that time. The clouds had parted and the sun came out. They got busy. They didn’t notice anything wrong around them.

    People who had survived the Depression and World War II were filled with relief and hope. To them, the new possibilities were endless.

    • #26
  27. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    MarciN (View Comment):
    The war was over.

    Except for the occupation of Europe and Japan, the wars in Korea and Vietnam (first US troops arrived in Vietnam in 1955), the Suez Crisis, the Lebanon Crisis, etc.

    MarciN (View Comment):
    People who had survived the Depression and World War II were filled with relief and hope.

    a) [Citation needed.]

    b) Economically, the US did well in the 1950s.  No doubt.  Culturally, the films and television shows produced during that period tended towards smiley-happy stories, to be sure.

    On the other hand, the 1950s produced On The Road, and Rebel Without A Cause, and The Day The Earth Stood Still, and The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit, and The Catcher In The Rye, and Fahrenheit 451, and Red Alert, and Atlas Shrugged, and On The Beach, and The Manchurian Candidate, and The Twilight Zone, and nuclear paranoia, and the attempted assassination of Harry Truman, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955), and the Red Scare, and Juvenile Delinquency hysteria, and the “Rock n’ Roll Is The Devil’s Music” hysteria, etc., etc.

    There was plenty of social anxiety in the 1950s.

    • #27
  28. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending (View Comment):

    MarciN (View Comment):
    The war was over.

    Except for the occupation of Europe and Japan, the wars in Korea and Vietnam (first US troops arrived in Vietnam in 1955), the Suez Crisis, the Lebanon Crisis, etc.

    MarciN (View Comment):
    People who had survived the Depression and World War II were filled with relief and hope.

    [Citation needed.]

    Economically, the US did well in the 1950s. No doubt. Culturally, the films and television shows produced during that period tended towards smiley-happy stories, to be sure.

    On the other hand, the 1950s produced On The Road, and Rebel Without A Cause, and The Day The Earth Stood Still, and The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit, and The Catcher In The Rye, and Fahrenheit 451, and Atlas Shrugged, and nuclear paranoia, and the attempted assassination of Harry Truman, and the Red Scare, and Juvenile Delinquency hysteria, etc., etc.

    There was plenty of social anxiety in the 1950s.

    Yes, in the literary world. Yes, in the academic world. Yes, in the newspaper world.

    But not for the “man on the street.”

    That joy of simply being alive is largely why the baby boom happened. People were pretty happy.

     

    • #28
  29. Misthiocracy, Joke Pending Member
    Misthiocracy, Joke Pending
    @Misthiocracy

    MarciN (View Comment):
    But not for the “man on the street.”

    a) [Citation needed.]

    b) Somebody was buying those books, reading those newspapers, and watching those movies.

    • #29
  30. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    I’ve thought a lot about this time period, partly because we completely ignored what Stalin and Mao were doing.

    Our war was over, but the war continued. It really bothers me that we think of that period as “postwar” when in fact the war the Communists were conducting was ongoing.

    Of course, Americans are United States centric. As they should be.

    But the one good thing that came out of that 1950s period for the world was people could see that life could be good for people. Daily life doesn’t have to look like the bleak daily life in Communist China and Russia.

    Our postwar prosperity was far greater than anything the Communists could ever achieve, and eventually capitalism in some, albeit weak, form prevailed.

    • #30

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