Many moons ago I endured a course entitled “Western Civilization.” The class was way “woke” before anyone knew of the word as a staple of PC discourse. That was because the professor was down on Western Civilization and did his utmost to ensure that us callow Western youth were imbued with a debilitating guilt complex. Apparently, our kind had a monopoly on evildoing. One dared not contest that narrative, as the good professor did the grading, which was especially important to grad school aspirants.
However, one assignment was most intriguing, and the prof beat it to death: When did the Modern Era begin? Was it the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Age of Exploration, Jewish Emancipation, the Enlightenment, the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution? The Modern Age and Modernity were lionized while the pathologisation of traditional Western values, customs, mores, and allegiances was a constant refrain.
I only wish Louise Perry had been in our class. Who is Ms. Perry? She’s a gifted British journalist (UnHerd, Daily Mail) and crusader for the good. Check her out. More on Ms. Perry in a bit.
My Western Civ course was permeated with the utopian Idea of Progress, a key tenet of Modernism, the notion that things are continually moving onward and upward. From one of my recent MercatorNet posts:
The Idea of Progress, the belief that history ineluctably proceeds towards material well-being and a better life, took hold and superseded religious faith. This belief emerged from Enlightenment empiricism. Mankind had come to believe in itself: Master of the Universe. Modernism was born.
Modernism was inextricably linked with progress. What great things humanity can do! How could anyone possibly argue with that?
Modernism is defined by the Oxford dictionary:
A tendency in theology to accommodate traditional religious teaching to contemporary thought and especially to devalue supernatural elements.
According to Merriam-Webster it is:
a movement toward modifying traditional beliefs in accordance with modern ideas, especially in the Roman Catholic Church in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Note the words “accommodate” and “modifying.” It’s not rocket science – religious faith, traditional values and common sense were subordinated to “modern” notions of “liberty, equality and fraternity.” In the West that eventually morphed into “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI).
The Western Civ class also included nonstop prattle about new “rights” that were coming on stream: civil rights were conflated with reproductive rights, sexual freedom (including “open marriage”), recognition of all manner of “alternative” lifestyles and much else. Women were being “liberated” from hearth, home, and children. Amidst the nonstop twaddle about rights, there was scant mention of responsibilities. Had Louise Perry been in the class, perhaps the good professor would have trimmed his sails a bit. Maybe.
I say that because Ms. Perry recently posted an essay at The Spectator that cuts to the chase and lays bare the nub of the demographic crisis. The headline spells it out: “Modernity is making you sterile: Rage against our demographic doom.” Her post deserves to be quoted at length:
[W]hat we are now discovering is that, at the population level, modernity selects systematically against itself. The key features of modernity – urbanism, affluence, secularism, the blurring of gender distinctions, and more time spent with strangers than with kin – all of these factors in combination shred fertility. Which means that progressivism, the political ideology that urges on the acceleration of modernisation, can best be understood as a sterility meme. When people first become modern, they have fewer children; when they adopt progressive ideology, they accelerate the process of modernisation and so have even fewer.
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We look at stagnant growth and we blame government mismanagement. We look at recruitment problems in the care sector and we blame the work-shy young. We look at lengthening hospital waiting lists and we blame chronic under-investment. We look at inter-ethnic conflict and we blame a failure of assimilation efforts. Very few people piece all of these political problems together and recognise that they are in fact the same problem. Put bluntly, there are not enough babies being born and the sticking plaster of mass migration is not going to hold for much longer. This is the most urgent political problem of our times and almost no one is talking about it.
In fact, even pointing out that there is a problem is extraordinarily counter-cultural. Most schools of feminism cheer on the dwindling of our species, having observed – correctly – that motherhood is tiring, painful, time-consuming, and restricts women’s career opportunities. If we assume that the goal of feminism is to maximise women’s freedom, then motherhood clearly does not serve that project.
Wow. Modernization a sterility meme! Does the lady nail it or what? Discussing the demographic crisis without considering Modernism is like treating cancer with no thought of carcinogens.
Yes, the utopian Idea of Progress, with all manner of modern mechanisms such as globalism, debt financing, mammon worship and political correctness, is slowly but surely putting humanity out of business. It all boils down to priorities, which reflect how people think. The bulk of humanity has been enticed aboard the produce-and-consume treadmill. We acquire creature comforts and believe this is “getting ahead.” Now we are captives of it to the extent that we sacrifice even family life, our future generations, for a toehold in this modern, thoroughly secularized deleterious dominion. No species breeds well in captivity.
As Goethe told us, “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who believe they are free.”
Yet the powers that be, those entities collectively calling the shots, benefit mightily from Modernism and its accoutrements. Every major development seems to further line their pockets and extend top-down control: the Covid lockdowns – where big business did well overall while mom and pops and churches were closed, the endless wars for filthy lucre, cheap labour immigration where elites privatize the profit and socialize the costs, and outsourcing that boosts share prices while gutting the middle class.
Any wonder why wokeness is promoted by those very powers that be? Divide et impera.
The foremost casualty in this slow motion omnicide is the family. As Ms. Perry points out: “The effects of fertility decline will not become evident until the last above-replacement generation dies.” Our unfolding mammon-worshiping anti-family dystopia is a revolt against nature. It may be a tad trite to say, but you can’t fool Mother Nature. Makes me wonder sometimes if civilization itself, which has been with humanity for just a tiny fraction of our existence, could possibly be some historical aberration.
Traditionalists are countercultural at this point. It is time for a spiritual rebirth, or at least a counterrevolution. Our future depends on it.