I confess that I sometimes feel like popular Norwegian crime writer Jo Nesbø’s protagonist Harry Hole, disillusioned, down on his luck, aware that justice is just ice and that nothing is ever really going to work out satisfactorily, if at all. Cases may be solved, but things invariably go from bad to worse. I go on writing, however—pursuing “the case”—out of habit, reflex, need, and the enjoyment of rotating sentences on a rhetorical lathe—in other words, out of self-indulgence, qualified, be it said, by an overlay of sobriety. I think of John Jay Chapman’s 1900 commencement address at Hobart College: “Never take a course that will silence you. Refuse to learn anything that implies collusion, whether it be a clerkship or a curacy, a legal fee or a post in a university. Retain the power of speech no matter what other power you may lose.…Speak out always.” I insist on retaining the power of speech but I have no illusions about the ultimate effect or influence of speaking out always. In fact, I have now come to feel profoundly that Western civilization is not worth saving; it has signed its own death warrant with a proud flourish. If I may paraphrase from Terry Brooks’ adventure/fantasy series The Heritage of Shannara, the elves have gone from Westland for good and we are at the mercy of the demons of Morrowindl.
For one thing, governments in the West are growing ever more tyrannical and unresponsive to the needs of their constituents: remark an EU Borg-like bureaucracy that flouts the wishes of European voters, and the administration of Barack Obama for whom the Constitution is a mere annoyance to be shrugged off and decisions not approved by Congress are carried out by executive fiat. And the growing number of parasites, hangers on, sycophants and political illiterates—barnacles clinging to the listing ship of state—approaching a near majority of once independent and industrious citizens effectively seals the deal.
For another, the rise of totalitarian Islam, abetted by the media, the academy, the courts, and internationally appeasing and domestically autocratic Western administrations, appears unstoppable, leading to the installation and spread of a monstrosity known as Eurabia and the coming disaster that Daniel Greenfield calls “Islamerica.” We are intent on following the various “Muslim multicultural roadmaps to national suicide,” says Greenfield, which have infected many, if not most, of our cultural and political institutions.
We now find ourselves in the embarrassing position of being told home truths from the most implausible of sources, the Russian demagogue Vladimir Putin, who, in a September 19, 2013 speech at the Valdai forum, pointed to the self-defeating weaknesses and moral failures of Western culture as perils that his own nation must seek to avert: Western states rejecting their own roots and denying or relativizing their traditional identity, unravelling the traditional marriage bond, succumbing to political correctness, losing their reproductive function, and diluting the rights of the majority in favor of minority grievances, by which he obviously means the Western surrender to the forces of Islamic supremacism. “Russia doesn’t conduct negotiations with terrorists,” he informs a supine West, “it destroys them.” His fear of a U.S. dominated unipolar world is, naturally, mere fustian; he knows full well that under the stewardship of Obama, the U.S, has become an international laughing stock feared by no one except sentient Americans. Russia is manifestly no ideal or example to follow—its birthrate is also falling and its economic future is dire—but Putin’s analysis of the cultural pellagra that ails the West is accurate.