Restoring Civilization

SellwynThumbby Selwyn Duke12/23/18
We Can’t MAGA Unless We MAMA  •  They can sense it. They can feel it. Something is seriously wrong in our civilization, and many people know it. This is why despite the relatively good economic times, most Americans polled say our country is on the “wrong track.” Yet many are like a gravely ill man who knows he’s not well but can’t precisely identify his ailment. Most often, Americans have only a vague sense of cultural malaise, or they “self-diagnose” wrongly.

Years ago I had a brief “state of the nation” discussion with a very fine, older country gentleman. While no philosopher, he did offer the following diagnosis. Struggling for words and gesticulating a bit, he said, “There’s…there’s no morality.”

Most believe morality is important both personally and nationally. We generally agree that an immoral man treads a dangerous path; of course, it’s likewise for two immoral men, five, 53 or 1,053 — or a whole nation-full.

Echoing many Founders, George Washington noted that “morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” The famous apocryphal saying goes, “America is great because America is good, and if she ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” For sure, we can’t MAGA unless we MAMA — Make America Moral Again.

Yet if immorality is the diagnosis and restoring morality the cure, we must know what this thing called “morality” is. Ah, that’s where agreement can end.

Talk to most people today — especially the people who study people, sociologists and anthropologists — and they’ll “identify morality with social code,” as Sociology Guide puts it. They’ll essentially say what sociologists Durkheim and Sumner do, “that things are good or bad if they are so considered by society or public opinion,” the site continues. “Durkheim stated that we do not disapprove of an action because it is a crime but it is a crime because we disapprove of it.” Yet true or not, would the majority really view an action as a crime, in the all-important moral sense, if they came to believe it was true?

Consider a man I knew who once proclaimed, “Murder isn’t wrong; it’s just that society says it is.” Clearly, “public opinion” isn’t swaying him much.

Yet how do you argue with him? Barring reference to something outside of man (i.e., God) dictating murder’s “immorality,” you’re left with a striking reality:

Society is all there is to say anything.

Then “Man is the measure of all things,” as Greek philosopher Protagoras put it.

Yet acceptance of the “society says” thesis presents a problem: Now you must convince others to equate “public opinion” with credible, binding “morality.” This is mostly fruitless because, frankly, it’s stupid.

Man’s opinion is just that — opinion. If the term “morality” is essentially synonymous, it’s a risible redundancy. If we’re acting as slick marketers, trying to elevate “opinion” via assignment of an impressive-sounding title, it’s false advertising. So if that is all we’re really talking about — “opinion” or “societal considerations” — let’s drop the pretense and just say what we mean:

We sentient organic robots (soulless entities comprising chemicals and water) have preferences for how others should behave (subject to change with or without notice). No, we can’t call these tastes “morality” — but, hey, we can punish the heck out of you for defying our collective will (see North Korea et al.).

To cement the point, consider my patent explanation. Who or what determines what this thing we call morality is?

Only two possibilities exist: Either man or something outside of him does. If the latter, something vastly superior and inerrant (i.e., God), then we really can say morality exists, apart from man. It’s real. Yet what are the man-as-measure implications?

Well, imagine the vast majority of the world loved chocolate but hated vanilla. Would this make vanilla “wrong” or “evil”? It’s just a matter of preference, of whatever flavor works for you.

Okay, but is it any more logical saying murder is “bad” or “wrong” if we only do so because the vast majority of the world prefers we not kill others in a manner the vast majority considers “unjust”? If it’s all just consensus “opinion,” it then occupies the same category as flavors: preference.

This is the matter’s stark reality, boiled down. It’s why serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s darkness-enabling attitude was, as his father related in a 1996 interview (video below; relevant portion at 40:26), “If it [life] all happens naturalistically, what’s the need for a God? Can’t I set my own rules?” It’s why occultist Aleister Crowley, branded “the wickedest man in the world,” succinctly stated, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” (Preference Über Alles 101).

[Please insert:]

This perspective engenders what’s often called “moral relativism,” the notion that “Truth” (absolute by definition) is illusion and what’s called “morality” changes with the time and people. But saying all is preference is actually moral nihilism, the belief that “morality” (properly understood) doesn’t actually exist — because, again, “opinion” isn’t morality.

Of course, few think matters through as thoroughly as a Dahmer or Crowley. (In fact, a possible reason sociopaths may possess above-average intelligence is that they’re smart enough to grasp the “morality” question’s two possibilities — either morality exists as something divinely-authored, something transcendent, or there is no morality — but draw the wrong conclusion.) Yet moral relativism/nihilism has swept Western civilization. And hell has followed with it.

How relativistic/nihilistic are we? A Barna Group study found that in 2002 already, most Americans did not believe in (absolute) Truth, in morality; in fact, only six percent of teens did. Thus are they most likely to base what once were called “moral decisions” on…wait for it…feelings. Surprise, surprise.

Such prevailing philosophical/moral rot collapses civilization. For anything can be justified. Rape, kill, steal, violate the Constitution as a judge, commit vote fraud? Why not? Who’s to say it’s wrong? Don’t impose values on me, dude.

To analogize it, imagine we fell victim to “dietary relativism/nihilism” and fancied the rules of nutrition nonexistent. With only taste left to govern dietary choices, most would indulge junk food; nutritional disorder would reign and health deteriorate. Moreover, considering one man’s poison another’s pleasure, we might sample those pretty red berries the birds gobble down. Hey, if it tastes good, eat it.

This reflects what’s befalling our “If it feels good, do it” Western civilization. Considering the rules of any system non-existent or irrelevant brings movement toward disorder — and a point where those who can impose their preferences restore order, a tyrannical one.

Having said this, discussing “Truth” and God evokes complaints, as the morally relativistic/nihilistic world view influences even many conservatives, and secularists find faith-oriented talk unsettling.

So let’s focus here on not faith but fact. As to this and the world’s Dahmers, Crowleys and the murder-skeptic man I knew, call them names, but don’t call them illogical. Within their universe of “data”— that “God doesn’t exist” and thus only organic robots can be the measure — they’re right: Murder’s status isn’t “wrong,” just “unpreferred.”

Note that moral principles cannot be proven scientifically any more than God’s existence; you can’t see a moral under a microscope or a principle in a Petri dish. Science only tells us what we can do, not what we should. Finding guidance on “should” necessitates transcending the physical and venturing into the metaphysical. It requires, pure logic informs, taking a leap of faith.

Something else not a matter of faith but fact is man’s psychology: People operate by certain principles. Like it or not, believing as Dahmer did (when young) about God leads to believing as he did about morality. “If man is all there is to make up rules, why can’t I just make up my own?”

As I put it in 2013, “Just as people wouldn’t abide by the ‘laws’ of physics if they didn’t believe they existed (the idea of jumping off a building and flying sounds like fun), and there weren’t obvious and immediate consequences for their violation (splat!), they won’t be likely to abide by morality if they believe its laws don’t exist.”

Of course, this rarely leads to serial killing. But it always — at population level — leads to serial immorality. This is an immutable rule of man.

So how should we combat our time’s moral relativism/nihilism? First, realize that from the Greek philosophers to the early/medieval Christians to the Founding Fathers, Western civilization was not forged by relativists/nihilists. It won’t be maintained by them, either. “If it feels good, do it” yields a healthy society even less than “If it tastes good, eat it” does a healthy body.

Thus, one needn’t have faith to understand that belief in Truth is utilitarian. As George Washington warned, “[R]eason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

Second, know that moral relativism/nihilism’s appeal is that it’s the ultimate get-out-of-sin free card. After all, my sins can’t be sins if there are no such things as sins, only “lifestyle choices.” Yet also know that we can have this seemingly eternal but illusory absolution — or we can have civilization. We can’t have both.

So act as if Truth exists; seek it, speak it, love it, for it will set you free. Realize also that relativism is juvenile pseudo-philosophy. For if everything were relative, what you believed would be relative, too, and thus meaningless. So let’s talk about what’s meaningful.

The alternative? Well, it was expressed nicely by an old New Yorker cartoon. It featured the Devil addressing a large group of arrivals in Hell and saying, reassuringly, “You’ll find there’s no right or wrong here. Just what works for you.”

It’s an alluring idea — and a powerful one. It creates Hell on Earth, too.

Note: This article is the second in a series on exposing modern (liberal) lies, explaining the disordered leftist mind and restoring civilization. The first is here. The “American’t” essay, which illustrates our problems, is here.

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10 Responses to Restoring Civilization

  1. Steve Lancaster says:

    Was there morality before Moses? Did Neanderthal have a conception of right and wrong? Most animals care for their young and will defend them from predators, even of their own species. Is that a moral act, or just one of preservation?

    When we start talking about morality the issue gets fuzzy pretty quick. That is one reason that Moses came down with 10 good suggestions and 3000 thousand years later our founders came up with 10 pretty good ideas to make Moses laws work better. Before Moses there is the code of Hammurabi, and various Hindu religions had similar laws and rules.

    It is not possible to sepárate the rule of law and morality, although, that seems to be what has been happening for the last 30 years, or more. Modern political leaders of both parties have surrendered to the concept of autocratic rule and I fear that the road back if ever taken will require a lot of bloodshed, perhaps making the war of Northern invasion look like a nice day in spring. For the idea that you can avoid violence by compromising with evil/immorality doesn’t avoid the violence, it only postpones it for a while and increases when it happens.

    George Carlin, once said that tyranny won’t come to America in the form of a Nazi, but with a happy face. 🙂

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Most animals care for their young and will defend them from predators, even of their own species. Is that a moral act, or just one of preservation?

      Are there standards that exist outside both the human propensity to rationalize one’s behavior and the despot’s need to control people?

      Having laws is no big deal. Even having morality is no big deal. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao had lots of laws and their own sort of morality. Being a “moral” person has never been much a big deal either. Usually even the worst of criminals don’t think bad about themselves. As Dennis Prager notes, the prisons are full of people with higher-than-average self esteem.

      How does one judge morality by other than what is good for me, good for my tribe, or good for my ability to control and manipulate others?

      Dennis Prager notes in The Rational Bible: Exodus that the Ten Commandments present many completely unique and astonishing concepts. There is a universalism to the laws beyond mere self-interest. He says the laws are so astonishing they could have come only from God.

      We’re always going to wrestle with such notions of God-given laws and morality if only because people run religions. The institutions of man always veer toward the wordily, if not outright corruption. Even if true, we add so much doubt because of our perfidy. We can besmirch anything holy. We have found an easy out today. We revel in crude vulgarity as a substitute for belief, for one can be sure of low standards.

      The wisdom of the ages concerning discerning the higher standards has been one part scholarship, one part prayer and contemplation, and one part humility. We seek the light through the cracks of our own mortal limitations and shortcomings. Honest seeking is rare but I do believe it bares fruits. Merry Christmas, Steve, and Happy Hanukkah.

  2. Rosalys says:

    “It is not possible to separate the rule of law and morality…”

    Which is why, increasingly, rule of law is disappearing.

    Of course there was morality before Moses. He didn’t invent the 10 commandments; he was given them by God to give to the people. The standard for morality, obey God, was established in the Garden of Eden. The fact that Eve, and then Adam, chose to disobey the only law they were given at the time, doesn’t nullify the standard. They had an entire garden to enjoy, but they just had to try the one thing forbidden.

    We are a sorry lot we humans. The Good News (Gospel) is that despite our disobedience, God loves us anyway and provided for our redemption, which cost Him everything and ourselves nothing, except for our pride.

    A blessed Christmas to all of you in the ST family and any visitors who happen to wander in.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      As a practical matter, there were undoubtedly other laws. If Adam and Eve had stayed in the Garden in Eden (the Tabriz area in the opinion of David Rohl, a revisionist ancient historian), they presumably would still have born children, and if Cain had still murdered Abel, it would probably have been just as much a crime as it actually was. (He actually got off lightly, being merely exiled to the land of Nod to the east.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      We are a sorry lot we humans. The Good News (Gospel) is that despite our disobedience, God loves us anyway and provided for our redemption, which cost Him everything and ourselves nothing, except for our pride.

      What an excellent way of expressing it, Rosalys. I knew there had to be something more to Christmas than listening to Paul McCartney blurt out the insanely trite “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmas Time.” Yikes. Nothing takes me out of whatever Christmas Spirit I have than when that song comes on the radio.

      But I digress. A very Merry Christmas to you and your family. And as we may acknowledge a spiritual and a material aspect to living, thank goodness their can be a musical redeemer. For every McCartney there is (or should be) a Bing. Merry Christmas, Bing. I’m sure you made the cut.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Even though it has been become something that is very different from its origins, I think it is good that the West still remembers and celebrates Christmas. (Much of the East does so too) At least there is a seed of the memory as to what the holiday is meant to celebrate. It gives hope that Western Civilization may yet survive.

    I wish a very Merry Christmas to all.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      As long as people sing Christmas carols, they’ll receive reminders of what the holiday (a word that comes from “holy day”) originally meant. Many of them are secular, but many are clearly religious or at least hint at the proper meaning. Of course, it helps that by music collection has a huge amount of Christmas music from several people’s collections. I’ve been playing them since Thanksgiving, along with my usual music rotation.

      And a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all reading this. Glory to God in the highest, and peace on Earth to men (and women) of good will.

      • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

        I have decided to start my New Years Eve celebrations early. I have poured myself a small eggnog with a splash of bourbon. It is very delicious. Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas.

  4. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    We have had this discussion before. While the development of cultures and societies is extremely complex, I think the basic question of morals can be summed up in a relative concise manner.

    Simply put, as societies/cultures grow and develop they take note of human actions which tend to be advantageous and those which are detrimental to the society in general. Over time, as observation confirms which actions are which, the society decides that in order to maintain order and protect the society certain rules must be imposed. These are more than biological rules, they are value rules.

    What would happen without such rules? Anarchy would quickly arise and nobody would have security, including the strong. This means that a society’s efforts would be spent in unproductive work, which would not only waste time, but keep a society from progressing materially and spiritually.

    Thus I take our moral code to be “wisdom of the ages” which has been developed over time. And to my mind, a society has the perfect right to develop and impose its moral code on those who are members of that society. If the society believes the moral code is based on divine revelation, all the better. In fact, I believe that a culture must believe something like this in order to make, even common sense morals stick.

    People like Dalmer and Crowley are likely either mentally disturbed and/or little Nietszchean egomaniacs. Both would be quickly disposed of in a less moral society.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I would see Jeffrey Dahmer as a genuine bad seed. Most of the worst criminals in some degree are probably sociopaths — i.e., without conscience, without empathy, without integrity. (Sounds like a typical leftist. Fortunately, most sociopaths aren’t interested in murder for fun.) Crowley would be more like a Nietzschean egomaniac. (I suspect that Count Manzeppi from a pair of Wild, Wild West episodes, was inspired by Crowley, and could be considered the monster Crowley wished he was.)

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