It’s Christmas, but I have to express a concern I’ve felt over the past few years and especially this last year in the political realm. With President Obama in office, the tone truly has changed in the daily discourse in the news and blogs.
Two years ago everybody was talking about how incompetent Bush was. Now he’s off the table, more or less forgotten it seems.
And the tone, from what I’ve read and seen, has been an unleashing. This is my way of putting it:
Those who are opposed to our cultural tradition and want to use the institutions in place to bring about radical change are energized and empowered in a way they were not previously. If they were, they were much more quiet about it or I was not as aware of it.
They’ve always been there, of course, with their journals, newspapers, and blogs. They’ve been using the schools for 60 or more years now. Rolling Stone magazine continues to promote the pop-culture side of it.
But now it seems like more and more outspoken radicalism is making its voice heard and more and more tightening laws are being passed.
The internal contradiction of radicalism has always been its need to use the State to achieve its ends. That leads to an almost anarchic approach to life, like the hippies of the 60’s and 70’s, that promotes more and more State control over our lives.
Thus in North Carolina a new law was recently passed that placed on a standard on charter schools that doesn’t apply to the “regular” schools. Why do they fear charter schools and magnet schools and private schools?
In a word: parents. The more involved parents are in what happens in the school, the more they want the children to get an education and not be formed by the latest public school visionary.
The great enemy of Radicalism (by which I mean the drive to overthrow the cultural traditions) has always been parents. They love their children more than abstract ideas. Their love is practical rather than idealistic. They are inclined to love and honor their parents, which leads to a respect for the traditions they received from them. They are usually quite humble in the daunting task for raising children, so they don’t think rational speculation or romantic imagining will save the world. They know it takes hard work, personal, concrete, intelligent acts of wisdom and virtuous love.
So the radicals have always and will always want them out of the way.
Ironically, this is one of the great political dangers of the car, but I’ll leave that for now.
This is why radicalism focuses so much energy on sex and sexual relations. Frankly, civilization rises and falls on the respect accorded the marital relation. So radicals typically begin by removing parents from oversight of courtship.
In the 1930’s and 40’s, George Kennan was serving as a diplomat in Germany. In his journals (highly recommended) he described the difference between German and Swiss girls. I wish I had the text in front of me, but the gist was as follows:
In Germany, in the 1920’s, German parents were gradually removed from the courtship of their children. (Aside: part of this may have had to do with mobility. Certainly children who go to college and find spouses there are free from their parents influence, which may be one of the reasons why colleges tend to be radical politically – it always comes back to marriage and sex). In the 1930’s in Switzerland this was not the case.
What stays in my memory from Kennan’s journal was his description of the way they dressed. Because German girls were left to their own resources to find a husband, they used what they found most effective to get the available men: seduction. He said that the girls in Berlin tended to dress much like the prostitutes did: short skirts, tight clothes, showing off their physical qualities precisely because that is what attracts young men who get to choose based on their own appetites, with little to no regard for the values of the community. In other words, the young are turned into radicals so they can find a spouse or have easier sex.
The Swiss girls of the 20’s and 30’s would, no doubt, earn our pity or at least sympathy. The poor girls were not allowed to walk the streets and bars to look for a husband. They were expected to work together with their parents and with the parents of the potential suitors to find a suitable partner. They were expected to form a mini-community that would sustain and nourish the traditions they received so they could hand them on to their children in turn.
Oh, the cruelty.
And of course, what do you expect. Few of them went to college where they learned that Kant had shown that you can’t know anything and that Nietzsche had proven that Christianity was a religion for slaves. Sure they could run a household with consummate skill, raise and discipline children to function in the world they knew, fulfill a vow at all costs, fix the machinery and tools they needed for day to work, and sing like angels in the community gatherings.
They were utterly incapable of sitting in front of a videogame for endless hours, to be numbered among the most educated society in the history of mankind. They would be hopeless even to find an I-tune, much less download it. And were they ever hopelessly uncool.
On the other hand, I have held in my hands the fine stitching of a swiss dress, the eyelets perfectly placed around the puffy sleeves, the apron and smock perfectly fashioned to sing the beauty of the Swiss Alps, her people, and the work they had done for 1000 years.
It’s pretty cool. Our educated elite seem unable to perceive its beauty and why it ought to be sustained, but a world without Swiss dresses will be a world that has lost something more important than a species of beetle.
But because the Swiss girls saw marriage as the means to continue something bigger than themselves and their invidivualized marriages, those marriages had a meaning that kept them from both divorce and from radicalism.
When the dogs of sex were unleashed in our culture, through the shift from courting to dating, the placing of children in schools for most of the day, the widespread requirement for a college degree, the raising of the marriage expectation, the invention of new forms of birth control, the spread of infanticide, the Hollywood obsession with sexuality and sexual behavior, and the many, many other direct and indirect assaults on the institutions of marriage, we became, as surely as explosions follow the ignition of gunpowder, a slave people.
Because the sexual revolution is a tool by the radicals. When marriage is weakened, everything that marriage sustains is weakened. That is why there was a visceral, non-philosophic reaction to rock and roll music and especially Elvis in the 50’s and another one to the Beatles and the hippies in the 60’s and another one to the Sex Pistols in the 70’s and another one to Madonna in the 80’s and yet another one to whoever – oh wait, by the 90’s people were so beat up by not understanding why they were frightened by the sexual revolution that they fell into despair and said, “Well, then, go to it.”
And oh my, have we done so.
Jesse Jackson once got the students at Stanford University chanting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Cultures gotta go,” thus demonstrating how our best educated students function rationally in tight spots.
Jesse, it’s gone. Congratulations. I hope you like this new version of freedom; it won’t last long. The state that you have helped expand will not always be friendly to those who make demands of it.