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Declining Fortunes: Home Thoughts from Within

This is only one instance, among a staggering multiplicity of such instances, of the enormous failure of intelligence that has brought the contemporary university into disrepute; for a comprehensive account of its intellectual degradation, one need only consult Bruce Bawer’s recent The Victims’ Revolution. The Academy has plainly become a “home” for the useless and the dysfunctional -- in effect, for those who would be unemployable in the real world. Academics in the literature, social science, and “culture studies” departments (aka the Humanities), facilitated by the current crop of administrators, have turned the liberal university into a shelter for flunkies, sycophants, political children, misnamed “progressivists,” and committed fantasists. But it is not just a question of a degenerate Academy.

Indeed, a culture that makes room, or a “home,” for such flaccid imbecilities as we have just noted is a culture unmistakably heading for the exit. Culture, of course, is the lived expression of a civilization, and a civilization has two related priorities: to survive and to prosper. But a civilization that is preoccupied with such luxurious inessentials as we find in the labyrinthine corridors of higher education -- and just about everywhere else in its “social space” -- while its internal foundations are wavering and it is surrounded by implacable enemies bent on its destruction is, to cite Spengler again, “wishing itself…into the darkness.”

It is time to face the truth. A civilization that has given up on genuine knowledge; whose intellectual class argues that there is no such thing as “truth,” only “interpretation"; whose populace is increasingly prey to the illusion of society as a fiscal womb and relies on a placental attachment to unsustainable entitlements; that has deconstructed the traditional definition of marriage; whose political echelon adamantly refuses to acknowledge the forces and gradients of the real world and settles instead for selective inaction, mollifying narratives, and elaborate evasions, especially in regard to the Iranian nuclear threat, Palestinian recidivism, and international terror networks; and that considers attitudes, temptations and desires as constituting a disease -- for example, obesity and drug-addiction -- for which the individual is not responsible and which must be treated by different forms of legislation or by politically correct repressions of obvious recognition: this is a civilization that does not inspire confidence in its future. Individual will and initiative are now at a discount. The source of our malaise, whatever form it might adopt, is regarded as emanating from without. We need no longer take personal responsibility for whatever may afflict us. We are all victims. And far too many of us are now takers.

Has Western Civ become Victor Davis Hanson’s California, with its pockets of insulated wealth and privilege amidst a vast terrain of deteriorating infrastructure, bankrupt administrations, gorging bureaucracies, ecofascists gone wild, official multiculturalism tearing away at the fabric of the heritage culture, rootless citizens, and welfare parasites? The signs and symptoms of civilizational decay proliferate in every sector of social, political, economic, and cultural life, from the most trivial to the undeniably catastrophic -- from filing a successful suit against a restaurant chain for one’s having spilled hot coffee on one’s own lap to the welcomed infiltration of an anti-Western Islamic cohort into the highest offices of state.

There are a seemingly infinite number of such episodes, events, news items, improprieties, hot button issues -- what journalists call “red meat” -- which fill the media outlets and are endlessly debated by panels of “experts,” editors, columnists, pundits, and ordinary folk as well. But these are only manifestations and auspices of a far more significant concern. Life as we have known it is suffering its own version of a subprime mortgage crisis, the house about to be foreclosed as the value of its securities plummets.