The Canadian Red Ensign
Friday, July 17, 2020
The Existential Crisis of the West – Redux
The prescient have seen it coming for a century now. In 1918 and 1922, the two volumes of Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West
were first published. In his magnus opus Spengler examined the
civilizations or cultures – he used the latter term but the way the two
terms were used and distinguished in the German thought of his day was
very different from how they are used and distinguished in English today
– of human history, and identified a super-organic life cycle that they
each passed through, of which, he maintained, the modern West with its
“Faustian” spirit of empirical exploration – the spirit exemplified by the Ulysses of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s eponymously titled poem – was entering into its final season.
In 1964, James Burnham’s The Suicide of the West: An Essay On the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism was published for the first time. This book is probably best understood as the third in a trilogy, the first of which was The Managerial Revolution, written immediately after Burnham’s break with his Trotskyite youth and the Socialist Workers Party and published in 1941, arguing that the capitalist world was evolving into something that would not be the socialist worker’s paradise predicted by Marxism, but rather the rule of a new class of technocratic corporate managers and government bureaucrats. The second was The Machiavellians: Defenders of Freedom, published two years later, in which Burnham gave an overview of a Realpolitik theory regarding the inevitability of elites and the nature of political power that he traced from the writings of Florentine Renaissance political scientist Niccolò Machiavelli through the nineteenth to early twentieth century writings of Robert Michels, Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, the philosophical framework that he had turned to after abandoning Marxism. By the time he wrote The Suicide of the West, Burnham had become one of the original members of William F. Buckley Jr.’s editorial team at National Review and the magazine’s principal analyst of geopolitical events. In The Suicide of The West he discussed liberalism as being the ideology of Western suicide. A familiarity with the first two books is helpful in understanding what he meant by this, for he did not mean that liberalism was formulated to bring about the end of Western Civilization, but rather that it was an ex post facto rationalization on the part of the governing elites for Western Civilization’s self-imposed collapse. Although this was written at the height of the Cold War – the Cuban Missile Crisis had taken place two years prior to the book’s release – the “suicide” Burnham was talking about was not merely what he perceived to be a losing strategy against the Soviet Union in the “Struggle for the World” (1) but also included internal moral, cultural, and social decay, into which category he put the immediate historical antecedents in his own day of the “woke” race revolutionaries of our own.
In 2002, Patrick J. Buchanan, syndicated columnist, speechwriter and advisor to Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and Reform Party nominee for the 2000 American Presidential Election, released his The Death of the West: How Dying Populations and Immigration Invasions Imperil Our Country and Civilization. The subtitle pretty much sums up the thesis. As Christendom through secularization became Western Civilization, it lost not just its faith in God but its faith in itself. Since this process was more or less complete by the end of World War II, the period since has seen a radical and sustained fall in fertility throughout the Western world. To prevent the economic disaster that this threat to Western population size poses, and for other reasons, the governments of the liberal West have been admitting unprecedented numbers of immigrants from outside the West, and specifically the Third World. This combination, which adds up to a massive and rapid demographic transformation, spells disaster for the survival of Western Civilization in any recognizable form, and in the meantime, a far left ideology that is hostile to Western survival – Cultural Marxism – has captured the major cultural institutions of the West, from the schools to the media, and has been promoting an agenda of pushing the West’s loss of faith in God and its own civilization and its embrace of the suicidal combination of domestic anti-natalism, mass immigration, and radical multiculturalism ever further and further.
As their Cassandra like predictions of doom progressed from decline to suicide to death, Spengler, Burnham, and Buchanan each provided valuable insights into the phenomenon that four years ago I described as “The Existential Crisis of the West.” Today, I rather regret having used up that title so early. At the time we were seeing Europe inundated with migrants, whom the media represented as being asylum seekers from the Syrian Civil War despite abundant evidence that the majority came from outside the region affected by the conflict, and many of whom clearly displayed hostile intent towards the countries they were entering, as the plot of the late Jean Raspail’s The Camp of the Saints materialized before our very eyes. Today, the news and entertainment media, academic institutions, big tech companies and other corporations, and bureaucrats and politicians of every stripe have united in insisting that no dissent be allowed to the Marxist Critical Theorists’ indictment of our civilization as being built upon racism and so thoroughly permeated by it that all white people are collectively guilty of it even if they have never had a conscious racist thought. This has been accompanied by a large scale campaign of intimidation on the part of far left activist groups such as Black Lives Matter and Antifa. The chaos has evolved from the familiar pattern of previous race riots – inner city arson, vandalism, looting, and violence – to the Maoist assault on figures of the past – to the current wave of vandalism and arson targeting Churches.
A question I have frequently encountered from those who are fed up with this sort of thing is “what do we do about it?”
The answer which people who ask this question are inevitably looking for is a practical answer, that is to say, one that would resemble a “How to” manual. How to stop Cultural Marxism in ten easy steps, or something along those lines.
I do not have such an answer, and, frankly, I have my doubts as to whether one even exists. The left devoted a century to capturing our cultural institutions and turning them into vehicles for disseminating its hatred of our civilization before making this aggressively totalitarian move and that preparation unquestionably is a major factor in their effectiveness today. We do not have that sort of time to prepare a counter-attack which is required immediately.
This much, however, I will say, and that is that unless we recognize this crisis as the threat to the very existence of our civilization that it is are prepared to deal with it as such, we have already lost. This means no more apologies for our history. No more apologies for being white. No more apologies for believing the Christian faith and practicing the Christian religion. No more wasting our time trying to persuade those who are determined to “cancel” anyone and everyone whom they condemn with one of their ever-growing list of –ists and –phobes that they are in violation of the canons of liberal thought because they don’t care.
When we are all in agreement on that, then maybe we can find a practical strategy for finally defeating this Marxism and saving what is left of our civilization.
(1) This is the title of another of Burnham’s books, the first of a trilogy that addressed the Cold War. It came out in 1947.
Posted by Gerry T. Neal at 7:43 AM Labels: Alfred Lord Tennyson, Gaetano Mosca, James Burnham, Jean Raspail, Niccolò Machiavelli, Oswald Spengler, Patrick Buchanan, Richard Nixon, Robert Michels, Ronald Reagan, Vilfredo Pareto, William F. Buckley