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Nine Signs of the Impending American Collapse

George Washington's face from a dollar bill

Cahn contends that the harbingers apply not only to ancient Israel but to contemporary America, which was founded on principles that formally established it as a second Israel and a nation consecrated to God. He has in mind the words of dedication from George Washington’s first presidential address: “there is no truth more thoroughly established, than that…the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.” Food for thought.

The literal conditions of observance may have changed, but the recognition of grace and benediction, the belief that the nation has been consecrated, remains binding. Should the nation turn away from its origins and betray its hallowed commitment, it will begin to break apart. “As did ancient Israel,” Cahn writes, “so now America began removing God from its national life, from its culture, its government, and its public squares.” Cahn’s narrative surrogate in The Harbinger pronounces his own judgment on America: “America must now face the magnitude of its moral and spiritual descent, the degrading of its culture…and the altars covered with the blood of the innocent.”  For among the multitude of its sins, we come to understand, America is sacrificing its unborn in record numbers. “Barbarity has seeped into the culture so completely,” writes conservative author Fay Voshell, “that its toxicity has poisoned nearly every institution, every court of law, every educational institution and very nearly every family.”

This is the burden of Cahn’s argument. America has sunk into the swamp of corruption and venality and is ripe for chastisement and retribution. As a result, the nine prophetic signs of judgment have now come to pass, which Cahn charts with mathematical and graphic precision, making his warnings hard to dismiss as the hallucination of yet one more cracked soothsayer. The biblical template has been followed to the letter.

Like Israel at the time of the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions, Cahn warns, America is set to founder, militarily, financially and economically. Although I am a skeptic by nature, I readily confess that I cannot simply wish away the many strands of evidence Cahn presents. Each one by itself may be regarded as problematic, but taken in their entirety the tapestry he has woven is quite terrifying in its individual features, completeness, vividness and uniformity. The authors of an American Vision pamphlet take issue with some of Cahn’s fiscal data regarding market disarray, but do not effectively succeed in scuttling his general thesis. In short, his accounting is unlike the fanciful prognostications of the general run of catastrophists, whose predictions always fail to be realized. Cahn is on to something and should be read with an open mind.

What Cahn sees as a biblical prophecy, I see as a perfect storm, a levy of forces, events and developments coming to bear upon America—and the West—at approximately the same historical moment and working eerily in unison. Before I had opened Cahn’s pages, I was drafting a series of notes toward an essay on the subject of America’s decline, in which I had compiled, oddly enough, nine signs or harbingers of my own, which I called “portents” and “heralds” presaging a coming collapse. True, these auspices were not based upon a biblical pattern and they did not march in the systematic order of Cahn’s harbingers, nor were they plotted on a temporal graph or affixed to the calendar. But taken in their aggregate, they seem incontestable in their collective momentum and persuasiveness.

I have no way of knowing if this strange alignment of nines is the result of serendipity or mere accident. However that may be, these were for me unmistakable heralds of cultural dissolution. Each of the issues I examine has been treated extensively in a plethora of books and articles over the years, as well as in my own essays, so they need not be amplified here. I list them in no particular order from the notes I had assembled, pre-Cahn.

Education. American pre-university education, with its inbred pedagogical and curricular decrepitude, has been further compromised by the entrenching of the Common Core program, characterized by coercive federal intrusion and string-attached funding, monopoly publishing and testing, elimination of pivotal American figures and historical events, a leftist disposition, and a powerful pro-Muslim bias.

Higher education is in no better shape. There can be no doubt that the university has been in free fall since the radical takeover of its mission in the festering 1960s, though its decline can be traced back to the “progressive,” child-centered pedagogy of John Dewey in the early 20th century. Standards have been lowered to admit those who are unfit for the rigors of post-secondary education; the curriculum has been both diluted and politicized; the campus has become a hotbed of revolutionary sentiment and activism; debate, argument and the free exchange of ideas are no longer part of its intellectual currency as a left consensus has shut down the expression of contrary views; feminist orthodoxy has exerted a castrating effect on university teaching and policy; trigger warnings prioritize feelings over knowledge, infantilizing a student body that must be spared the slightest twitch of emotional discomfort; and draconian language laws meant to combat expressions of “micro-aggression,” no matter how vanilla, have prohibited statements like “America is the land of opportunity” or “I believe the most qualified person should get the job.” In short, the utopian ideal of “social justice” has snookered the pursuit of truth and the formation of inquiring minds.

In the language of Jack Cashill’s recent Scarlet Letters, a critique of the cult of liberal intolerance, the university has been commandeered by an “inquisitorial” and “neo-puritanical” camarilla of administrators, professors and students. Analogously, academic fascism, writes Walter Williams, “pose[s] a far greater threat to our way of life than any terrorist organization or rogue nation.”

In effect, the liberal arts have ceased to exist.

By the same token, the professional and technical disciplines have also been corrupted by the race, class and gender shibboleths on affirmative admission policies that typify the modern academy. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “four in 10 U.S. college students graduate without the complex reasoning skills to manage white-collar work.” The university now graduates in ever increasing volume a class of sanctimonious and indoctrinated incompetents—a recipe for social calamity.

Gender Theory.  Gender has come increasingly to be regarded not as a biological fact but as a social construct, and ultimately as an expression of one’s “inner feelings” (as if there were any other kind) and affect-laden sense of sexual or personal identity. A man is a woman is a trans is a tiger is a wolf—in other words, an idiosyncratic caricature of a normal human being. This absurd and self-indulgent deformation of nature—living and thinking A Rebours, to cite Joris-Karl Huysman’s early analysis of cultural degeneracy—has produced a society—or its patrician echelon—in process of losing its bearings, unmoored from the traditional usages that served to keep it intact. The trend toward gross disfigurement and mutilation analyzed in J. Robert Smith’s incisive article “Trans isn’t Just for You” is merely another sign of the rampaging decadence of a culture on the skids. Putting the stamp of legitimacy on the farce-in-progress, Obama has just signaled his approval of gender dysfunction in appointing the freakish transgender aspirant Raffi Freedman-Gurspan as director of outreach and recruitment for the White House personnel office. It is not only a random group of misfits and weirdos engaged in a fringe exhibition that should concern us; it is an entire culture that is mutating away from itself.

Such aberrations follow from and go hand in hand with a longstanding, aggressive and doctrinaire feminism that has infected every important social and professional institution, leading to the legal and societal deprivileging and even the feminization of men, who must not only endure institutional inequities but must continually apologize for their existence—another recipe for social and cultural catastrophe. Janice Fiamengo’s new video series The Fiamengo File is devoted to a wide-ranging analysis of this sociocultural and academic travesty and repays consulting.

Immigration. Open-door immigration, a consequence of programmatic multiculturalism conceived as a social good and justified by the contentless mantra of “diversity,” is a surefire source of disorder, tension and sporadic episodes of violence. Indeed, the incursion of Islam into the West is nothing less than the latest installment of the millennial campaign to subvert and conquer the liberal democracies of the developed world. The Islamic doctrine of hijra or migration, emulating Mohammad’s journeys to Medina (originally Yathrib) and Abyssinia, is being re-enacted before our noses. The evidence is all around us and is so convincing that only the deluded, the cowed or the complicit can deny or cosmeticize or facilitate its progress.

Europe is disintegrating before our eyes, the Commonwealth nations are gradually being destabilized, and the United States now finds itself saddled not only with a growing and restive Islamic community but with dubious Muslim officials embedded in the highest levels of its administration and a president who has modified the oath of allegiance so that immigrants [read: Muslims] need not “bear arms on behalf of the United States.”

Add to this the unstanchable deluge of illegal migrants pouring across the southern border, abetted by the current government, swollen by anchor baby, “birth tourism,” and antiquated chain migration law, and encouraged by the existence of so-called sanctuary cities. As a result, we have a country losing its national character and exposing itself to mounting domestic turbulence.

Religion. No less than Nature, the human spirit abhors a vacuum. The empty pews of the mainstream Christian churches and, to a lesser degree, the reformist adulteration of the Jewish communion are obvious signs of cultural desuetude and the evisceration of moral principle, betokening the decoupling of Judeo-Christian civilization from its sustaining origins. Human beings, however, cannot live without faith in some aspect of transcendence, irrespective of how tarnished, brittle or artificial. The vacuum is ineluctably filled by pretenders to the throne, whether a belief in some secular ideology, political cause or a competing theology such as Islam qualified by emotional fervor, self-assurance and communal solidarity (which the 14th century Tunisian scholar Ibn Khaldun in his monumental book The Muqaddimah called asabiyyah, the “bond of cohesion”). One becomes a social justice warrior or a warrior for Islam or some other substitute for what has been relinquished. As G.K. Chesterton is reputed to have said, “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

The problem is that what has been lost tends to remain lost. The customary and immemorial groundwork of values and virtues that unifies a people undergoes a tectonic shift and issues in a ubiquitous sense of social anomie, defined by the French sociologist Émile Durkheim as a condition of anxiety and disequilibrium caused by the wasting away of standard purposes and ethical ideals. Aside from the robust evangelical community, the U.S., like Europe, is turning away from its religious foundations, with the attendant loss of civil coherence. From one, many.

Replacement Ratio. When a nation ceases to reproduce itself, the prognosis for long-term survival is patently negative. Every liberal democracy, with the exception of Israel, has fallen dramatically beneath the replacement ratio of 2.1, including the United States (reaching an historic low in 2013, according to Forbes ). This is a palpable sign of impending ruination that cannot be ignored.

As Western cultures grow increasingly hedonistic , concentrating on pleasure and entertainment rather than living productive and reproductive lives—Iain Bamforth remarks in A Doctor’s Dictionary how “hedonism has turned into a kind of militancy”— as marriage becomes a failing social institution, and as pro-choice abortion is now virtually unlimited, it is only a matter of time before the regenerative mortgage forecloses. The subprime market of childbearing appears here to stay. Immigration may partially replenish the census, but the upshot is that the liberal democracies, and especially America with its double influx, will forfeit their civilizational patrimony, shrivel and decay.

Anti-Semitism.  Although anti-Semitism and its cognate, anti-Zionism, are by no means a significant social depravity in the U.S., they flourish in three major constituencies: the elite leftist segment of the population, the Democratic Party, and, most tellingly, the administration of Barack Obama, whose foreign policy is demonstrably anti-Israel and pro-Muslim, in particular pro-Iranian. Throwing his support behind the Muslim Brotherhood while playing Doctor Faustus to a diabolical ayatollah, he has, in fact, surrendered the Middle East to prolonged Muslim insurgency, thus endangering the survival of Israel, America’s traditional and loyal ally. Former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren’s recent book Ally, despite its measured tones, makes this act of treachery amply clear. Similarly, “if Obama has his way,” observes James Lewis in a short but compendious article for American Thinker, “Israel will be the first national victim.”

Domestically, Obama’s relation to the Jews is wily and perfidious, favoring ostensible Jewish organizations like J Street and various rabbinical conclaves (Rabbis for Obama, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, Rabbis for Human Rights, etc.) that work against the welfare of the Jewish state. It is fair to say that a form of institutional anti-Zionism, the modern instance and deceptive guise of age-old anti-Semitism, has taken root in the U.S.

Anti-Semitism is an historically validated sign that a host nation is working against its own best interests. Julien Bauer points out in a recent article, accentuating the unintended irony of self-destructive vengefulness: “The West is, most probably without being conscious of it, encouraging Israel, and its high-technology sector, to be increasingly linked with Asian countries, accelerating the rise of Asia in the world. In that way, the West's enduring anti-Semitism, consciously or not, is helping bring about the end of Western political, cultural, [and] economic…domination of the world.” The anti-Zionism pervading the American government is another illustration of its approaching plummet.

Race. Race relations in the U.S. have markedly deteriorated under the suzerainty of the present administration, in some places resembling guerilla warfare as black-on-white violence proliferates and race riots are becoming an almost regular occurrence. Victor Davis Hanson in an article for PJ Media aptly titled “The Tragic and Complete Collapse of Racial Relations” indicates that “a small cohort of urban African-American males under fifty—no more than 3-4% of the general population—is responsible for about 50% of many of the violent crimes committed.” The racial divide is widening rather than closing and the prospect for civil upheaval metastasizes alarmingly.

The irony is undeniable. The two-term election of a black president and the installation of two successive black attorneys-general—Hanson remarks that the prestigious roster includes “the secretary of Transportation, the secretary of Homeland Security, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the head of NASA,” not counting overt disproportion in favor of African-Americans in government service and sports management positions—should have signified to most doubters that America is clearly putting to rest a troubled history. Instead, a great opportunity to further the work of the civil rights movement has been squandered—apparently by design. Civil disorder is radical community organizer Saul Alinsky’s formula for revolutionary triumph, and his handbook Rules for Radicals  is the Democratic Party’s bible. Alinsky was the subject of Hillary Clinton’s senior thesis at Wellesley College and Obama’s teaching at Chicago University Law School.