Suicide of the West? 1

In a New Criterion article titled Meditations at the crossroads, Allen C. Guelzo and James Hankins write:

[W]e have often had occasion to quote the observation by the political philosopher James Burnham that “Suicide is probably more frequent than murder as the end phase of a civilization.” … [I]t is part of the pathology that Burnham describes that … objections to the West are “most often made most hotly by Westerners who hate their own civilization, readily excuse or even praise blows struck against it, and themselves lend a willing hand, frequently enough, to pulling it down.

Almost everywhere one looks, standards of taste, intelligence, and moral discrimination trace a course of perilous decline.

Education? Study after study shows that our public schools are a disaster. A shocking number of high school students are unable to read, write, or calculate effectively. They are furthermore impoverished by a breathtaking lack of general historical knowledge. … [M]ost of our colleges and universities have become repugnant scenes of political grievance-mongering, polysyllabic posturing, and tenured irresponsibility.

It is the same with popular culture. Every season, movies, television, pop music, and other forms of mass entertainment get a little cruder, a little dumber, a little more mindless. The occasional bright spots only illuminate the depressing morass that surrounds us.

The arts? Wedded to a bankrupt conception of the avant-garde, many of our most conspicuous arts institutions seem to have given up on aesthetic excellence in order to pursue the inanities of “progressive” gestures.

Public manners and morals? Forget it. Even to ask the question is to answer it

Add to all this the widespread ignorance of our own political traditions and institutions—even of the fundamental tenets of our constitutional democracy—and one arrives at a recipe for cultural catastrophe.

Do you agree?

If so, do you see any way the “perilous decline” can be arrested, or even reversed?

Posted under Culture by Jillian Becker on Thursday, November 4, 2021

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