We live among the ruins of the once-great Western Civilization.
What we think of as “our civilization” is in fact an impostor, a parasite living on the wealth and innovation of the past. It appears to be the same, but really they played the old shell game with us, and switched out the cup that had the penny under it by baffling our eyes with quick hand movements.
Instead of having a funeral, we should have a baby shower. From the ruins of the Old West, our Ersatz West was born, and from the ruins of that, we can raise up a New West which has the potential for countless years of greatness.
But people want to know where we went wrong, and there is nothing but a surplus of broken opinions that blame symptoms or details of the process and fail to see the root.
For example, the venerable Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn lunges in the wrong direction by blaming atheism:
But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous Revolution that swallowed up some sixty million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.
What is more, the events of the Russian Revolution can only be understood now, at the end of the century, against the background of what has since occurred in the rest of the world. What emerges here is a process of universal significance. And if I were called upon to identify briefly the principal trait of the entire twentieth century, here too, I would be unable to find anything more precise and pithy than to repeat once again: Men have forgotten God.
The failings of human consciousness, deprived of its divine dimension, have been a determining factor in all the major crimes of this century. The first of these was World War I, and much of our present predicament can be traced back to it. It was a war (the memory of which seems to be fading) when Europe, bursting with health and abundance, fell into a rage of self-mutilation which could not but sap its strength for a century or more, and perhaps forever. The only possible explanation for this war is a mental eclipse among the leaders of Europe due to their lost awareness of a Supreme Power above them. Only a godless embitterment could have moved ostensibly Christian states to employ poison gas, a weapon so obviously beyond the limits of humanity.
Let us instead apply some realism: every effect has a cause, and so if men lost God, there was a cause for this loss, as Fred Nietzsche famously pointed out. We cannot literally kill God, but we can kill our ability to be receptive to Him. And if men have forgotten God, it was because another god took His place.
Some would argue that this nu-god is science. Others would say money. I contend that it is something far older: control. People want to feel a sense of having control over their lives, and this becomes addictive, and soon extends to how they work with others. That then forms a social standard. At that point, people no longer trust intangibles like God or doing the right thing; they want that sensation of power over others, which is different from leadership because it serves only itself, and not a goal innate to civilization like attempting to lead it.
In order to see God, and to want to be realistic, we must first want to be good. There are two directions in life: either we aspire to what is good, or we do what is convenient and rationalize it as good. This is true of all goals; we either realize them, or we fail and then rationalize our failure as someone else’s fault, the task as not worth doing, the rain as having tripped us up, and other excuses and justifications. This is the nature of humanity: we either stay honest, which is a narrow thorny path, or we allow ourselves to rationalize and so, corrupt our thinking.
From Plato we see a powerful metaphor:
When discord arose, then the two races were drawn different ways: the iron and brass fell to acquiring money and land and houses and gold and silver; but the gold and silver races, not wanting money but having the true riches in their own nature, inclined towards virtue and the ancient order of things. There was a battle between them, and at last they agreed to distribute their land and houses among individual owners; and they enslaved their friends and maintainers, whom they had formerly protected in the condition of freemen, and made of them subjects and servants; and they themselves were engaged in war and in keeping a watch against them.
Once society was geared toward “virtue” and the “ancient order,” meaning a type of natural order hierarchy in which balance was maintained between unequal parts. Then, having achieved money, the group no longer could share a purpose, and so they “agreed to disagree” and separated into middle class bourgeois style people who each built up their own pile of money and used civilization as a means to that end.
When civilization goes bad, the first thing that happens is that words change their meanings to reflect how they are commonly used. This usually means reversing that meaning entirely so that the original intent, which requires more than convenience from people, is not brought up in polite conversation. Through this method, society inverts its own values.
Even if we educate everyone in God, Patriotism and Working Hard, these terms will become inverted; this is exactly what we have seen happen to religion over the past centuries. Man forgot God because man forgot how to locate God, because man forgot how to appreciate God, because man forgot that the good has the greatest utility and value of all.