Monday, May 09, 2005

Degeneration Part IV

In part one of this series I stated and attempted to prove that mankind has deteriorated in mental abilities. In part two I discussed the possibility that we have deteriorated physically. I began a discussion of societal and governmental deterioration ion part three. I left off in that discussion when the question of the existence of right and wrong arose.

I have arrived in my argument at the point it would seem that it is impossible for me to proceed without quantifying the idea that there are indeed universal morals, that there is such a thing as good and bad.

As I stated previously in this series I am not speaking of values or morals as viewed through mere contemporary eyes. This is and always will be a mistake. What we may consider wrong today may have been a necessity in days past. It is also conceivable that some of the things we find morally offensive now may again come into common usage at some point in the future. The world changes, situations change and our idea of temporal right and wrong changes with the times.

What does not change however are universal truths. There are, I believe, things within us that we know to be correct. We might call this human nature but that is of course an inaccurate description. That would seem to indicate that humans are bound to follow their nature. We are not bound to follow the voice inside of us that tells us right from wrong. So human nature does not suffice as a terms to describe what I am referring to.

C.S. Lewis does as fine a job as can be done in his little work Mere Christianity of describing the universal truth of right and wrong. It is clear to any thinking man, whether he agrees that there is a God or not and whether if he accepts a god for his own at all that there must be right and wrong. We simply could not agree or disagree if such a thing did not exist. We base our most pressing disagreements on the notion of something being right and something else being wrong.

Lewis proves rather simply that even evil men that claim no knowledge of good or evil must know it exists. How else could a man, any man, ever claim to have been done wrong or cheated if there does not exist a baseline of commonality regarding right and wrong?

I will not attempt to restate what Lewis states so adequately already. If you doubt my assertion that good and evil, right and wrong truly exist in the universe read Mere Christianity and we can debate the points you find fault with. I shall proceed under the confident knowledge that no intellectually honest man can dispute said arguments.

Obviously there still remains a great gulf between acknowledging that good and evil exists and accepting the particular brand of theology that I hold dear. I shall not attempt to persuade you on these points at this juncture. I think that with the acceptance that good and evil exists as universal principles and are not subject to temporal interpretation we might progress to an examination of my claim that society is degenerating morally.

Consider our current consumer society. Many describe us as post-industrial and this is true in general terms but for the sake of my discussion I will describe our current culture as one based on industrialism, consumerism and progress.

I would venture to guess that most Americans, trained in public schools and taught to yearn for the American Dream would consider the three attributes I described above and claim that those are in fact good traits. This is after all what we have been taught to believe.

At the very core of what we have come to believe we might consider the following:

In our society/culture (general American Culture)

More stuff is considered success in life. We work to acquire more, new and better things when often the things we have might actually serve us just fine. Our insatiable taste for consumerism affects the entire economy, creating inflation and making the things we actually need more expensive. We buy things on credit that we do not need, binding ourselves to financial obligations that strip us of our freedom. As a result we are forced to work longer and harder.

Community, family (extended and nuclear) is of little real importance. We happily move from location to location in search of higher paying jobs. Our communities consist of the hodge-podge of fellow transients living in subdivisions that hardly reflect any real sense of community.

We live essentially to work. Little time remains for intellectual leisure and the limited time we have available for such pursuits is seldom spent doing things that make us better, more enlightened people.

Our economy is dominated by corporations that have the rights of humans but lack the soul and conscience of a human. Whether our taste for consumerism was a result of industrialization that produced an over abundance of goods and therefore required and entire sector of the economy to generate need and create sales matter little, which came first is not the issue. The result is an economy based upon profit, and consumers willing to trade their economic freedom for the latest and greatest gadget. Corporations of enormous scale and size have developed as a result. These corporations cross state and national boundaries. They are protected as legal entities but are not governed by the basic sense of right and wrong inherent in a real person. These corporations and their vast financial resources influence much of our daily lives. They contribute to political causes and candidates; they champion causes and influence the nature and direction of society to a degree that no mere individual citizen might ever hope to.

My description above is but a small list of examples of our societal demise. These items, however, encompass the primary areas that have given rise to all other ills. I would contend that every other problem we have in our current culture arises from this shift in focus to a society of greed. (of course this does not answer the question how we arrived at that point, to that question in time)

Many might claim the answer to fixing all of our ills is merely putting God back in the schools or electing the right sort of politicians. These are mere band-aids applied to a gaping arterial wound. Such measure simply will not correct the course of societal demise.

The core of the problem is that in our modern age of progress and prosperity life is less worth living. The individual man and the family are less valued for the uniqueness of spirit we each possess. We are instead a collective of producers and consumers, nothing more really than cogs in a gigantic machine that has as its chief purpose the perpetration of the machine itself.

Consider if you will how it is possible that a society degenerates to the point that life of the elderly, infirmed and the unborn no longer have real value. Many fine folks spend much of their life attempting to stop or curb the advance of the culture of death. Their fight is one they will eventually loose. We lost the war in this regard when the society in general began to view community and familial links as less important than the pursuit of consumer goods and fancy gadgets.

Others bemoan the abysmally high divorce rates. Some believe that if the family might be strengthened it would be possible to correct the course of society. Again, this is the wrong battle fought too late in the war. We lost any hope of saving the family once we denigrated the noble role of wife, mother and guardian of home and hearth and forced our ladies out of the home in pursuit of material gain. Even those that did not early on succumb to materialism have found themselves faced with the almost inescapable requirement to generate two incomes just to survive. No, simply saving the family by attempting to re-instill simple family values is not the answer nor is the destruction of the family the cause of our troubles it is merely a symptom of the greater sickness and a minor proof that society is deteriorating.

Many good and decent people believe that the problem is that we have simply forgotten, either through apathy or poor education the principles of good government. They believe that the work of the Constitution Party and others in raising issues and educating the populace is the answer. Again, the demise of a solid foundation of civics education and the rise of apathy among voters is not the cause of our ills. This too is merely a symptom of our greater trouble.

There are many among us that would claim disagree with all of the above. We might call these sorts liberals or progressives. They would see the symptoms discussed above as mere social changes; all part and parcel of progress. Progress became such a powerful word in the 20th Century. In reality this became a powerful word in the 19th Century.

Progress, unchecked by a sense of what is right and wrong (in universal and unchanging terms) is a dangerous concept. It was progress that allowed the destruction of the plains Indian, the removal of these people from their lands and the practice of outright genocide.

Progress is the very thing that made greedy industrialist, financers and speculators feel so good about the illegal and immoral annexation of Hawaii and the deposing of the rightful sovereign of that land. I assure you the events surrounding the loss of Hawaiian freedom and self-rule were far from being honest and just.

Progress is the concept that allowed greedy industrialist to pollute the land. This very same progress is the idea that now allows extremist environmentalist to impose radical legislation that tramples the property rights of individuals.

Progress is born of the idea that the end justifies the means. It is based upon situational morality and lacks a foundation in universal truths. To the progressive things such as the Constitution, laws and traditions are mere stumbling blocks that can and are ignored when they get in the way of progress. Many folks cry foul when we in the Southern Movement point out the fact that Lincoln violated the Constitution or that George Bush has recently done so. To the right mind government de jure (of law) ought to always hold sway over temporary needs and wants. Progress is not progress if it destroys the fabric of the nation and the social contract that gave birth to the government.

I agree with many that raise a hue and cry over specific instances of degeneration. I consider the long list of ailments but symptoms pointing back to a greater ill; that being the degeneration of culture from one that respects the individual, the community, the land, family and God.

It is easy to demonstrate the degeneration of society in this regard and therefore add yet another justification of degeneration in general. The only question I have yet to answer is why I believe this degeneration has occurred. I shall address that in my next post on this topic.

Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem
El Cid

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