Can Only a God Save Us Now?

Look Up! The Spiritual Reason Why Churches Have Domes
July 24, 2017
July 25, 2017

Western civilization has been gutted from within. At the core of this moral bankruptcy is a watered-down Christianity that lacks the conviction to defend itself…

By Pedro Gonzalez, The Imaginative Conservative, July 25, 2017

Pedro Gonzalez

Today mankind enjoys unprecedented technology, but lacks the wisdom to regard technology as a tool in the service of life, and not an end in itself. The difference between the two is particularly important in post-modernity. Technology that affirms life is an appendage of man’s zest to know. This is a form of applied science that is consistent with existential reflection on human necessity. On the other hand, technology that is embraced as an end in itself gradually veils and curtails free will.

Many people in the media, as well as radical ideologues in democratic societies, for whom technology is an end in itself, use technology as an effective weapon of social-political propaganda and disinformation. For them, technology merely serves as the handmaiden of social-political public opinion formation. The abuse of technology has contributed to the erosion of Western man’s prudence and ability to discern between appearance and reality. Prudence and moderation are the purview of responsible individuals who understand the fragility of liberty. The erosion of prudence puts in doubt the staying-power of truth over modish deception. This condition poses a serious threat to the stability of democratic nations. It is not for lack of knowledge that the post-modern world, circa 2017, resembles a rudderless ship—drifting aimlessly, without statesmen of conviction and moral authority to steer its course.

Western man’s moral turpitude has opened up a brave new world of sinister possibilities for the defamers of Western civilization, especially through the clever use of disinformation. Disinformation can be traced to ancient times. The Art of War, a 5th-century B.C. work by the Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, makes it clear that in war, psychological warfare is as important as physical combat. In modern times, this condition dates back to at least the time of the Russian Revolution, when the Bolsheviks perfected techniques of terror and disinformation, which they used systematically to destabilize the morale of their non-Communist foes.

Disinformation must be distinguished from misinformation. The latter merely means mistakes in information gathering, distribution, and the clear-headed ability necessary to decipher truth from appearance. Disinformation is effective because it places carefully-selected and damaging lies in the hands of unsuspecting people and institutions that propagate it at will. Disinformation works because it creates a web of deception that debilitates man’s capacity for inference and perception. With disinformation, truth no longer corresponds to what you see, but to what the official censor makes you believe. The power of disinformation is that it is consciousness-altering. Add to this the fact that disinformation has a long and corrosive shelf life. Once disinformation is put in motion, it subsequently creates a vacuum in the ability of people and institutions to discern the origin and source of news and information. This vacuum is filled by propelling moral relativism into prominence, making disinformation a potent source of instability, while giving people the illusion of empowerment. This is why V.I. Lenin’s Bolshevik Revolution promoted the notion that “a lie told often enough becomes the truth.” What can appear more democratic than a milieu that promises the right to our own customized truth, while before we were only granted the right to opinions? Disinformation tactics are fine-tuned by taking the pulse of Western man’s moral-spiritual convictions. The latter is a strong predictor of man’s future choices and behavior. In disinformation, Bolshevism and its many subsequent variants discovered a tool that is effective in undermining Western man’s morals and morale, but which few would ever come to suspect.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution, technology and the free press became useful pawns—participants in the implementation of the techniques of the new-fangled science of totalitarianism. Mankind has always known despotism, but not totalitarianism. The dialectical malice of disinformation dawned on communist despots in the twentieth century. For instance, the 1940s Venona Project decrypts demonstrate the efficacy and power of Soviet disinformation in penetrating the highest strata of power in democratic governments.

Democracy offers people the opportunity to attain dignified personhood through the exercise of free will and sacrifice. The distinguishing mark of an open and democratic society, in contradistinction to Saudi Arabia, North Korea, or Cuba, for instance, has to do with the ability and desire of citizens in democracies to disseminate freely information and knowledge. On the other hand, democracies are weakened by the confusion of people who no longer understand or respect human contingency.

The current social-engineering project that Western democracies are undergoing aims to distort human reality, to pretend that human existence can be made easy, tailor-made to the specs of our caprice. Part of this has come about by creating self-doubting, even self-loathing, individuals who fail to understand the fragile nature of human liberty. This moral vacuum must be filled, somehow.

Marxism’s cultural warfare has made spontaneous living in the post-modern age impossible. The politicization of human life in the West means having an eye turned to two fronts: the perpetual re-naming of human reality by radical ideologue-elites; and the execution of the values deemed useful to the creation of a one-world, one-people utopia to be operated by these same bureaucrat-elites. These elites are banking on the appeal and allure of creating a world in which people naively believe they can foment their own truth(s). This is a testament to the power of demoralization. The degree of stealth involved in this program of re-education of Western man is unprecedented. The golden prize of re-education is the destruction of man’s capacity for inward self-reflection. The first casualty of this utopia is self-respecting individuals who are willing to embrace difficult tasks and sacrifice. The enemies of the West—from outside and within—have helped to speed up the moral-spiritual malaise that threatens the continued stability of Western societies.

Contemporary philosophers pay next to no attention to the role that Marxist and neo-Marxist disinformation plays in democratic countries. One of several reasons for this has to do with the naive belief that social-political philosophy is the domain of theoretical abstraction. The latter makes it easy for disinformation to destroy truth, while abetting the morality of totalitarian power-grab. Disinformation exploits the reality that human existence is ultimately ruled by insecurity.

Man exchanges goods and labor because of an instinctual desire to survive. Man confronts danger when necessary, yet prefers to avoid it through perspicuity. We cannot pretend to know in full what life was like in pre-history. However, a little imagination tells us that this was a brutal existence. Settlement and agriculture are two human responses to this brutality. Early on, man discovered that resources are limited and that they require tremendous effort, both physical and existential, to harness. We have good reason to believe that civilization is founded on principles of barter, trade, buying, and selling. This is the manner in which people gather or attain the resources they need for daily living. Archeological records show this to be the case in pre-historical societies from Ҫatal Hüyük to the pre-Colombian Anasazi of the American Southwest.

Human civilization is the result of man’s struggle to grapple with difficulty. This means the execution of free will. Fetching water, the curing of food, building permanent shelters, and safeguarding oneself from an abundance of perpetual dangers all point to the reality that man is an existential, inwardly-reflective being first and foremost. This is the essential staple of personhood. Existential self-reflection is a concrete, practical form of thought that enables man to remain rooted in and address demands made by human contingency. This is manifested in man’s internalization of danger. The celestial observations of man in pre-history enabled them to better understand seasonal changes, and thus predict the harvest. Even sympathetic magic is a form of self-reflection, regardless of its outcome. To pretend that the aforementioned human difficulties have been conquered once and for all—in this age—is perilous wishful thinking. This is where post-modern moral-spiritual complacency best showcases its arrogance and ignorance.

Mankind has an innate capacity to come to terms with survival. Man fears danger and the unknown, just as man can perceive the effects of passing time, which sooner or later, we must come to respect. Each person intuits the insecurity that is human existence according to his own ability. Our inborn capacity to act on this basic tenet of existence determines our success or failure as persons. Most importantly, our success in enjoying momentary happiness or attaining lasting contentment has much to do with our worldview. For this reason, metaphysics is the fundamental characteristic of personhood, which enables man to enjoy free will. On this point, everyone must go at it alone—though this inborn ability is a major source of envy and resentment. The extent of the latter, no social-political program can predict or abolish. The qualitative discrepancy among people’s perspicuity is what Bolshevik terror systematically continues to exploit. Bolshevism attempts to deconstruct free will by referring to it as being either an illusion altogether, or a burden on social-political organization.

Western civilization has traditionally allowed man to be awed by the belief that a personal God is a necessary force responsible for the creation of the cosmos. Western man is ennobled by personal responsibility and virtue, not chance. Theologically, Western man is inspired by the belief that the human soul is not a commodity to be manipulated by the state. This informs part of the Christian legacy of the West. Hatred of Christianity is an essential motivator of the internal enemies of the West. This is why they find solace in befriending the foes of Western civilization.

Of equal historical significance, ancient Greek philosophers argued that the Kosmos—the universe—is ruled by form and order, and that reason can know some of the essences that inform objective reality. From early on in Western civilization, wonder enabled man to reflect on the ontological mystery. This is an inherent aspect of man’s capacity to engage in existential reflection. This spark of reflective imagination has been articulated in Western philosophy, art, and science.

What is at stake today in the culture war is man’s fundamental conception of human reality. Western civilization offers a reasonable account of human reality, its objective, unchanging principles, and how these place a stamp of limitation and possibility on free will. There is a battle for man’s soul in post-modernity. This struggle is between forces that, on one side, slander human reality—a stupefying reverence for appearance over reality that is motivated by blind personal whim and opportunism—and another, which seeks the measured acceptance of the limitations of human reality, while reveling in its beauty and mystery.

Metaphysically speaking, positivism has mortgaged human existence on the vagaries of the here-and-now. Positivism, we ought not to forget, is a form of philosophical materialism. At a social-political level, positivists believe that man’s struggle is always with the Other. This view of reality is conditioned by an asphyxiating radical ideology that pits people against each other. This serves as the justification for perpetual class, economic, and cultural warfare.

On the other hand, for the vast majority of humanity, man’s strife is not with other people but keeping the integral essence of the human person from becoming objectified by dehumanizing and materializing forces. In the absence of the Other, people must still contend with natural forces that continually threaten our well-being. Nature, disease, and the passage of time are three such forces. Entropy and decay accompany these. There is inherent danger in being a person. Man knows this because, existentially speaking, consciousness, which is capable of self-reflection concerning its own essence, remains a mystery to itself. It is from reflection on the nature of the self, as this exists in space and erodes through time, that man can begin to make sense of all other subsequent realities, including social-political necessity. Human existence is a singular and solitary task which man must confront, and he must come to terms with the essence of human differentiation. This is the core of the ontological mystery.

Hence, any civilization that is attuned to and which is mindful of ontological mystery recognizes the struggle for existence that all people must face. This means paying heed to essential aspects of human life. A life of reflection undoubtedly separates the wheat from the chaff. Democracies afford man this privilege. In healthy democracies, citizens confront the human condition with honesty and sobriety, not with an eye turned to fashionable social-political ideologies that are bent on hiding the fact that human existence is difficult. Human life is a solitary trek that requires courage and magnanimity. Contented people simply let life come to them; they are happy to let life be.

The Cold War is a good case in point. This was an ideological contest of attrition that Western democracies were ill-equipped to win, given the internationalist fervor of malcontent true believers from within. Earnest Hemingway, borrowing the phrase from Emilio Mola y Vidal during the Spanish Civil War, called attention to the reality of fifth columnists—even though, the American author did so in another context. However, Winston Churchill referred to fifth columnists as a growing challenge to Christian civilization. In the West, fifth columnists prey on the hand that feeds them because they can afford to do so. This is consistent with V.I. Lenin’s notion that the only worthwhile morality is one that furthers the interests of Bolshevism. How has this form of relativism come to inform the morality of Western man? This is a question that is rife for contemporary philosophers to ponder.

For radical ideologues, the great strain on human existence is always other people. Jean-Paul Sartre is a fine example of this cynical affirmation. He informs us in No Exit that “hell is other people.” This is a veiled form of self-loathing, for it is the logical outcome of embracing nihilism. People like Sartre believe that class and cultural warfare is a perpetual and necessary rite of passage for the establishment of utopia: the temporal kingdom of man. They believe that if man can engineer the right sort of people, human reality and history will be tamed—once and for all. George Orwell was on to this. He reminds us in Animal Farm that some animals are more equal than others. People like Sartre can’t let life be. This is a unique phenomenon of the age of ideology.

For such people, all aspects of human existence, e.g., culture, music, religion, and sexuality must be turned into a political will to power. Was this not the motivation of the Marxist gurus of the Frankfurt School? This, they believe, is the only way to propel a meaningless, arbitrary personal existence into messianic meaning and purpose. For these hapless souls, there is no other dimension to human existence than the here-and-now. Naturally, this offers them carte blanche to reduce human existence to a social-political bare minimum. For them, life does not evoke mystery and wonder. Far from it. Instead, life is conducive to frustration and anger because of life’s limitations. Their strategy is: How can man attempt to change the limitations set by objective reality, ad infinitum? This is the stuff of malcontented Western teenagers, youngsters who never mature into sound adults. The failure of the latter keeps people from achieving lasting inward peace. The moral-spiritual bankruptcy of malcontents fuels ideological radicalism. The strength and appeal of cultural Marxism is the perpetual re-packaging of the lie. Yet Western man ought not to undermine the false consciousness and double-morality of Marxist sentimentality. Even Madison Avenue has much to learn from the wicked dialectical twists and turns of Marxist theory and its chameleon-like variants.

In his 1951 book The True Believer, the longshoreman and autodidact intellectual, Eric Hoffer, aptly diagnosed the problem of the radicalization of true believers and mass movements in the twentieth-century. Before him, the Spanish philosopher, Jose Ortega y Gasset, wrote in The Revolt of the Masses that mass man—a resentful type of individual who has no genuine convictions because he believes all values to be relative—had become demoralized.

There is tremendous sadness in this realization, for we can no longer attribute the problem of radicalization in the twentieth-first century to ignorance, alienation, class struggle, poverty, lack of education, or the other worn-out clichés that serve as the stable of Marxist critical theory. Even Marxists recognize this, so they must continually update their song-and-dance routine in order to siphon power from the status quo of Western civilization. Like fading pop culture icons, Marxism struggles to remain relevant.

Western man possesses vast knowledge of the formation and history of Western civilization. At a fundamental level, radicalization is the logical outcome of at least two basic factors. One of these is envy and resentment. Envy and resentment often serve as the motivating factor in the life of people who meander hopelessly through the labyrinth of meaning and purpose, without rhyme or reason. This condition is irrespective of class, race, or gender. This is hardly new. What is new is the conversion of envy and resentment by radical ideologues into social-political hatred. Another factor of radicalization today is the systematic rebuke of teaching Western civilization and civics, which serve to locate human existence in a broader perspective than the social-political. Both of these factors serve the denizens of disinformation to a tee. Undoubtedly, the dumbing down of Western man empowers the enemies of Western civilization. This is where the free media and technology play a pivotal role and must be held accountable. Historical knowledge and the use of critical reason are two of the biggest casualties in the current state of Western man’s demoralization. These two factors are essential tools that contented people utilize in order to make sense of human reality on a day-to-day basis.

The assault on Western civilization is encountered on many fronts. This is why the attack on Western culture has proven so effective since the 1960s. We witness this numbing moral-spiritual infirmity in our self-indulgent, life-negating art and literature, the proliferation of what is essentially a death-of-God Christianity, and modish, self-mutilating atheism. Western man is being choked by nihilistic sexuality and the compulsion to abuse liberty in democratic societies.

The enemies of Western civilization have revved up their antics. They have become emboldened by the realization that the ideological hegemony of cultural Marxism is paying great dividends. Theirs is a win-win game of opportunism. Patience and persistence pay great dividends in the culture war. The enemies of Western civilization are cynical debasers of democracy from within, which democracy is gracious enough to accommodate, a condition which, as modern history shows, makes democracy a willing participant of her own demise. This is one reason why people who have lived in communist countries are amazed at the insipid, self-destructive complacency of Western man.

So, if reason, logic and science are pegged by cultural Marxists as being the residue of the European enlightenment, and Christian values as another of the ways in which Western civilization exploits its peons, what else can Western democracies do but place human aspirations in the service of mother state? This is the nihilistic trap that has been set for Western man.

Martin Heidegger

Martin Heidegger

In a post-modern world, how many people are still capable of humility and hubris? How many are moved by the beauty of the human person, and existence itself as the highest value? Reflecting on the nature and truth displayed by the ineffable, the German philosopher, Martin Heidegger, evoked this somber sentiment in a 1966 Der Spiegel interview, which was published five days after the thinker’s death, in 1976. When the interviewer for the German news weekly asked him about mankind’s future, Heidegger answered, “only a God can save us now” (Nur noch ein Gott kann uns retten). The one-time Catholic seminarian worried that neither philosophy nor human reflection was any longer equipped to bring about change in the debased moral-spiritual state of Western civilization. Man’s capacity for self-reflection, Heidegger suggests, has become subsumed by this debasement. Heidegger was concerned with the erosion of the sense for life that poetic sensibility instills in man. World War II was not successful in bringing about the destruction of the totalitarian impulse, the staple of the age of radical ideology.

There is profound anguish felt by people who, like George Santayana, understand that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This means that history is riddled with wasted possibilities, knowledge, and wisdom. The future of man cannot be about class and cultural warfare, but rather the practice of good will. But how can good will be safeguarded from the ravages of social-political re-education—what Marxist praxis refers to as “framing”? In what is known as “political correctness,” framing acts to discredit individuals and institutions in the eyes of the masses. Political efficiency makes it necessary for cultural Marxism to destroy spontaneity, which is a prerequisite of good will in the pursuit of truth.

The murder of a French priest on July 26, 2016, while serving Mass in Rouen, France epitomizes the strategic ends of the cultural war that the Marxist theorist, Antonio Gramsci, fomented in his Prison Notebooks in the 1930s. Attacked in the sanctity of a Catholic Church, murdered, eighty-five-year-old Rev. Jacques Hamel is a vivid symbol of all that has been lost in Western culture and of what yet remains to be destroyed. Horrific as this savage crime was, this should not come as a surprise to sentient Westerners who understand the long-term strategy of cultural Marxism, in the guise of multiculturalism. We must ask: Where is the outcry from liberal Christians and progressive humanists?

Undoubtedly, one of the culprits of the current morass of Western civilization is the destruction of moral-spiritual conviction. This is the legacy of true believers, people who simply cannot let life be. Western man is wallowing in an ominous quagmire of intellectualized abstractions that dictate popular causes and fashionable ethics on demand. This does not allow for spontaneity of thought and existential reflection on the nature of the human person in society. Conscience and virtue mold sound morality, not ad nauseam talk of situational ethics. This is something that Marxist cultural theorists fail to comprehend. Yet this has never been their game in the first place.

Why the increased barbarity today? The dismantling of Western civilization by culture-war zealots has destroyed the resolve of Western man to defend himself. Western civilization has been gutted from within. At the core of this moral bankruptcy is a watered-down Christianity that lacks the conviction to defend itself, given its post-modern moral-spiritual duplicity. No doubt, radical Islam is abetted by post-modern deconstruction of Western culture and values. Radical Islam and communism—then and now—are ideologies that present the enemies of the West with alleged, viable alternatives to Western values.

Western civilization, circa 2017, will live in infamy. This is not due to a lack of warning. Today, Western civilization boasts a repository of libraries and declassified information that is unprecedented in human history. Many visionary writers and thinkers have warned Western man of the danger of a progressive trickle of apocalypse for a long time. Plato’s Laws warn us about the consequences of youthful irreligiousness, and what this means to the human psyche. Most recently, novels like Lord of the World and The Camp of the Saints offer a literary vision of the disintegration of Christendom. The French author, Michel Houellebecq, echoes this sentiment about the future of France in his novel Submission.

William Butler Yeats also alerts us to what happens when the center no longer holds—when, “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

In more recent times, Alexander Solzhenitsyn ruffled the feathers of post-modern intellectuals and cultural war Marxists when he published Warning to the West in 1975, and gave his “A World Split Apart” commencement speech at Harvard University in 1978. In the latter, the Russian émigré writer cautions that truth eludes man, when man no longer pursues it. Yet Shakespeare is unquestionably right in asserting that, “Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides.” It is undeniable that time is the ultimate guardian of truth, for the dialectic of falsehood harbors the seed of its own destruction. Thus, we must continue to hope.

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AUTHOR – Pedro Blas González is a professor of philosophy at Barry University in Florida. He earned a BA degree from the University of Alabama in 1987, MA from DePaul University in 1989, and PhD from DePaul in 1995. His published books are Human Existence as Radical Reality: Ortega’s Philosophy of SubjectivityFragments: Essays in Subjectivity, Individuality and AutonomyOrtega’s ‘The Revolt of the Masses’ and the Triumph of the New ManUnamuno: A Lyrical EssayPhilosophical Perspectives on World CinemaDreaming in the Cathedral, and Fantasia.