Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Logical Dead End of the Nanny State

The Western world, as I recently noted (“The Abolition of America,” 7/4/11) is in the process of rejecting the natural tradition of objective right and wrong. One of the sad consequences has been a cultural and moral decay that has infected the greater part of old Europe. Now, only a month or so later, we have witnessed riots in the streets of London and throughout England. Many observers of the British scene have commented on the root causes of the senseless destruction. Three of my favorites - Mark Steyn, Theodore Dalrymple, Ann Coulter - plus Prime Minister David Cameron -- contributed their wisdom to the following analysis.
Lord, please forgive my plagiarizing.

There are many lessons for us from London in flames, as gangs of feral youths trashed and looted their own neighborhoods. There is a saying in Britain for people who undermine their own living quarters – they call it “shitting on your own doorstep.” And this rioting suggests that the welfare state has given rise to a generation perfectly happy to do that.

The London rioters are the children of dependency, the progeny of Big Government: they have been marinated in stimulus their entire lives. One-fifth of children are raised in homes in which no adult works – in which the weekday ritual of rising, dressing and leaving for gainful employment is entirely unknown. One-tenth of the adult population has done not a day's work since Tony Blair took office on May 1, 1997.

The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and if it does not receive that high standard, that is a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived, even though each one has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor, quite likely, any member of his family made much of a contribution. Indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude.

And consigning the violence to rage over reduced job opportunities and welfare doesn’t quite wash. A large number of the vandals and looters are teenagers on their school vacations rather than desperate twenty- or thirty-year olds recently out of a job and with a family to support. As written in the Daily Telegraph, the rioters hardly represented a beleaguered minority neglected by the state:
So far, those arrested and charged include an 11-year-old girl, a 31-year-old primary school teacher and the 19-year-old daughter of a company director who is currently at Exeter University. The participation of those from relatively affluent backgrounds, either in full-time education or full-time employment, makes nonsense of the knee-jerk response of blaming cuts to the Education Maintenance Allowance, among other things.

A more plausible “root cause” is the parlous state of British inner-city state education, which has turned out a generation of unemployable youth, who are understandably angry at their dim prospects and their miserable state-provided living environments. This introduces a different, and altogether more damning, diagnosis: the failure of the policies of post-war social democratic orthodoxy, and the cumulative growth of the welfare state, to address the problems of urban poverty and the integration of marginalized classes into wider society – indeed, the state’s role in destroying the integrity of families, in discouraging bourgeois aspiration, and in uprooting traditional community values which historically served to harmonize and reconcile society to itself.

Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to address the “moral collapse” that led to the widespread looting and violence. He has pledged to “review every aspect of our work to mend our broken society: schools, welfare, families, parenting, addiction,… to the twisting and misrepresenting of human rights that has undermined personal responsibility.

“These riots were not about race,” Cameron said. “These riots were not about government cuts ... And these riots were not about poverty.”

“No, this was about behavior ... people showing indifference to right and wrong; people with a twisted moral code; people with a complete absence of self-restraint.”

He listed irresponsibility, selfishness, fatherless children, reward without effort, crime without punishment and behaving as if one’s choices have no consequences as some of the problems contributing to a “slow-motion moral collapse.”

“What last week has shown is that this moral neutrality, this relativism – it’s not going to cut it anymore,” he stressed.

And the “social fightback” starts with families. “If we want to have any hope of mending our broken society, family and parenting is where we’ve got to start.”

When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the British welfare regime in 1942, his goal was the "abolition of want" to be accomplished by "co-operation between the State and the individual." In attempting to insulate the citizenry from life's vicissitudes, Sir William succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Today want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity.

For Americans, the quickest way to understand modern Britain is to look at what LBJ's Great Society did to the black family and imagine it applied to the general population. Here is America, the Democrats' real achievement has been in destroying the family, thereby creating an endless supply of potential rioters. When blacks were only four generations out of slavery, their illegitimacy rate was about 23 percent (lower than the white illegitimacy rate is now). Then Democrats decided to help them!

It is barely two generations since LBJ's Great Society programs began and the rate of black illegitimacy has tripled to 72 percent. Meanwhile, the white illegitimacy rate has exploded from 4 percent to 29 percent. Instead of a “War on Poverty,” it should have been called a “War on the Family.”

The vast and permanent underclass created by the welfare state is a great success story for the Democratic Party, which now has a loyal constituency of deadbeats who automatically vote for the Democrats to keep their “benefits” flowing.

It's the Democrat Party “heroin dealer” model of government.

The Abolition of America July 4. 2011

As Americans celebrate our Independence, it behooves us to heed the warning of a man who did not live in freedom. “To destroy a people, you must first sever their roots,” said Alexander Solzhenitzyn. You sever a people’s roots by destroying the memory of their historical past. Today, too many Americans, particularly young people, are ignorant of our past, or believe a distorted version of it.

Jesus said “I am the Truth,” and without truth there can be no freedom. In the past century, British author C.S. Lewis wrote eloquently on the subjects of truth and identity. Clive Staples Lewis (“Jack” to his friends) wrote everything from children’s fiction to philosophy and theology, from The Chronicles of Narnia to Mere Christianity. The Abolition of Man was his classic defense of truth (the natural law) and his goal was nothing short of an attempt to salvage Western civilization. Lewis believed that the Western world was in the process of rejecting the tradition of objective right and wrong, and he saw this rejection of truth being taught in the school systems of his day. Fifty years later, with the advent of post-modernity, the question of “Truth” is, indeed, the question of our time.

Lewis would be appalled to find that the “debunking” program he described in The Abolition of Man has done so much damage to the Britain he knew. As Lewis feared, the cultural demolition was deliberate. The self-anointed reformers admitted as much: “We recognize that the British people love the old ways, and that there is no popular clamour for change. Nevertheless, change we must.” Sadly, this change has led to a cultural and moral decline that has infected the greater part of old Europe. The last two Roman Catholic popes have written with passion on the dangers of a “dictatorship of relativism” in Europe. But how did this cultural sea change come about? Was the root cause intellectual or material? And to what degree has America been infected?

The radical idea that truth is a state constructed by the mind is at the root of a cultural infection. With reason as the sole guide, each reasoning person could (should) construct his own private version of truth (subjectivism). What inevitably follows is relativism -- that each individual’s conception of truth is as valid as any other individual’s. When applied to society, there are no objective truths, only prevailing versions disseminated by ruling social groups. When applied to virtue, moral relativism is the result. Each society creates its own ethics. The ideology of relativism holds that all cultures, ethnic groups, sexual preference or special interest group are equally valid, deserve communal support and mandated representation. This is “multiculturalism” today.

Radical thought in America has a long history but it entered the mainstream in the 1930’s and marinated through the 60’s. Intellectuals in fields such as education and psychology had been infected by Radical Enlightenment philosophy and Marxism. Scholars taught the tactics of “Critical Theory:” destructive criticism of all the main elements of Western culture, including Christianity, morality, the family, sexual restraint, capitalism, patriotism and conservatism. Their strategy was psychological conditioning: “America’s children could be conditioned at school to reject their parent’s social and moral beliefs as racist, sexist and homophobic, and conditioned to embrace a new morality.”

Now the radicals of the 1960’s have become professors of philosophy, sociology, literature, black studies, feminine studies, GLBT studies,… and, most ominously, professors at the education schools of nearly all colleges and universities in America. In the Ed. schools they are able to indoctrinate the future teachers of America in all manner of radical thought including relativism, multiculturalism, gender equality and hateful criticism of Western culture, America in particular.
Their first step is the deconstruction and reinvention of history. Lying about our history has now become commonplace. Take, for example, the National History Standards published by UCLA in 1994. This curriculum promoted multiculturalism by minimizing the achievements of Europeans and their descendents in America in order to focus attention on blacks and American Indians. Students were told they need to “Analyze the Declaration of Independence (mentioned only once) from the perspective of men and women, and people of Native American, European, and African descent.” The US Senate denounced the UCLA farce by a vote of 99-1.
But that did not stop the revisionists.

In 2005 the California State Board of Education approved the eighth-grade history text, Creating America. Produced by Houghton Mifflin, Creating America identifies ten representative American heroes: Abigail Adams, Crispus Attucks, Andrew Jackson, Queen Liluokalanai, Abraham Lincoln, Juan Sequin, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, George Washington, Ida B. Wells and Zitkala-Sa. In fact, this highly unrepresentative American history rather vaguely resembles a “Soviet-style history” cobbled together from representative national heroes that conforms to multicultural ideology.

One of the most popular American history texts at the high school level is Howard Zinn’s People’s History. Reflecting postmodern revisionist ideology, Zinn declares that “there is no such thing as pure fact.” The theory of history offered by Marx --“The history of all hitherto existing societies is the history of class struggle”-- is relied upon by Zinn to explain all of American history, which is portrayed as a continuous chain of immoral colonialism, imperialism and exploitation of minorities and the laboring underclass. Predictably, Zinn draws a moral equivalence between America and the 9/11 terrorists. Yet nowhere in his book will the student learn about Washington's Farewell Address, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address or Reagan's speech at the Brandenburg Gate.

More recently, the state of CA passed a bill that would require teaching the contributions of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. The textbooks will need to be modified accordingly. Is it actually a fact that GLBT contributions have been systematically excluded from the texts? Of course, facts mean nothing when you are pursuing an agenda, in this case the abolition of the centuries old tradition of heterosexual marriage.

So what is left of our culture? Was the redefinition of the words “is” and “sex” by President Clinton an aberration? In one of the founding texts of sociology, The Rules of Sociological Method (1895), Emile Durkheim wrote that by defining what is “deviant,” we are enabled to know what is not, and hence to live by shared standards. In 1993, New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan authored a now-famous essay, “Defining Deviancy Down.” In it, he argued that social scientists, the courts, politicians, and some in the general public had been busy redefining deviancy down, so much so “as to exempt much conduct previously stigmatized, (while) also quietly raising the ‘normal’ level in categories where behavior is now abnormal by any earlier standard.”

How far have we regressed since then? “This is the Brave New World that mindless tolerance, diversity and lawsuits on their behalf have wrought. The decline of American civilization since the 1960s has been so fast and so dramatic that it takes one's breath away,” said my friend Dennis Prager. As Dostoyevsky prophesized many years ago, “If there is no God, everything is permitted.”

I’m confident that Jack would agree.