I have often suggested that moral decadence need not be a decrease in morality. I understand it also to refer to a kind of cancerous growth of hyper-morality. I could just call it that, but I use the word “decadence” to differentiate what I mean from the fanatical zealotry in an individual resulting from some psychological quirk, like neurotic hyper-scrupulosity, a moral version of Obsessive Compulsion Disorder. I use the word “decadence” to denote a dangerous cultural senescence or senility in which a civilization loses perspective and begins to embrace fanciful sentimentalism as a moral code. This is especially dangerous when there are serious, real-world issues that demand attention but get neglected because of this ethical fiddling while Rome burns.
A few examples may help. I regard it as decadent, cancerously mutated, morality when people crusade for Animal Rights. (Don’t worry; I do not want to paint vegetarianism with the same brush. That is a separate and eminently defensible point, though I am far from a vegetarian.) There is a foolish confusion here. We humans have the duty to treat animals kindly, not to be cruel to them. But rights belong uniquely to human beings because we are located in a framework of social relations, even if we are pre- or post-rational (babies and the senile and comatose). Animals are not. Is it murder for a lion to kill and eat an antelope? Is the lion violating the rights of the antelope? Can they sue one another over grazing territory or prey-poaching? Do they talk and say, “What’s up, Doc?” But look at the antics of PETA activists. Somewhere along the line they have made a wrong toin in Alba-quoi-que.
It’s even worse when Animal Rights zealots are happily pro-abortion when it comes to human beings. But it’s not exactly inconsistent. Both positions stem from an “Earth First” anti-humanism. Leftists have a neurotic (and dangerously decadent) hatred for their own country. Like a freshman Anthropology student, they espouse value-free cultural relativism—except for America. It is a reverse “American exceptionalism” whereby one hates America as uniquely evil and despicable. One has to, like Noam Chomsky and Saul Alinsky, fabricate libels and myths of “Amerika” to justify this hatred. The sins of Muslim terrorists and Socialist Totalitarians can be forgiven or explained away, but not only are America’s sins excoriated, but her many virtues must be denied.
“Internationalism” and “World Citizenship” are foolishly and even nefariously naïve, imagining that the “collective” opinion of all nations should be our lodestar, when in fact international bodies tend to be tools manipulated by the Anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist, economy-destroying states that dominate them.
Well, the PETA fanatic hates his own species in precisely the same way. Some go so far as to say the earth would be better off without humans, and that we are a plague on the world which should be wiped out, though few go so far as to advocate any action toward that end (like the red-haired scientist in the movie Twelve Monkeys). But the tendency is in that direction, something you need to point out in order to show how wrong-headed some things are. Animal Rights believers are in effect saying that biological Darwinism is just as reprehensible as Social Darwinism and, come to think of it, is actually the same thing.
Hyper-moral decadents live in a world of paper games and official statements. When the disastrous results of that kind of economic and foreign policies become tragically evident, there will be more vacuous idealistic bluster to shift the blame and to make lemons into NutraSweet Lemonade. As Freud said of religion (of which hyper-moral decadence is a certainly a variety), “Progressivism” is an exercise in projecting a wish world onto the real world. This is cultural senile dementia.
Another symptom of hyper-moral decadence is to always make the exception into the rule: the tiny minority rules. Everything must be changed for them. In my view, groups like the ACLU and the Freedom from Religion Foundation are busy pulling on the loopholes of the social order in order to unravel it. Criminals have more rights than their victims. Separation of Church and State is interpreted as restricting any public display of religious symbolism, implying that tolerating it and promoting it are the same thing. Military combatants must be read “their” Miranda Rights.
Because a microscopically tiny group of self-described Transgender kids feel they are in the wrong body (why isn’t that considered Body Dysmorphic Disorder?), adolescent boys and girls must have Unisex showers. I suspect that whole condition is like “Recovered Memory Syndrome.” I wonder how many kids would become gender-confused if school counselors, promoting certain ideologies, did not lead them into thinking so. I’m not a mind-reader or a medical man. I don’t pretend to know.
But I do know this: many will automatically denounce my question as definitive proof that I’m a bigot. Thus, they highlight another aspect of today’s hyper-morality (and in this case, I’d call it “post-morality”): an impatience with rational debate, an attitude I am used to encountering with unreasoning and ax-grinding religionists. Silence the bigot! Shout down any non-“progressive” heresy! “We already know we’re right!” This is the essence of Fascism, but the unbelievable historical amnesia of today’s youth forbids them from learning the lessons of history. If they’ve ever even heard his name, they probably think Santayana lives at the North Pole.
Yet another symptom of today’s cultural dementia is the abandonment of logic as a tool of Dead White Male oppression. Radical Feminists have explicitly argued that, since Aristotle was a male who lived in a patriarchal culture, formal logic can be dismissed as oppressive. How convenient! Using the genetic fallacy as the excuse to topple a system of logic that would have shown you how abysmally stupid the genetic fallacy is! Just the other day I heard Geraldo Rivera brushing off the evidence marshaled against Hillary Clinton because it was presented by a “Right-wing” organization. In other words, because I don’t like their results I can simply assume they fudged the whole thing. Oh, I know that, as my beloved ultra-Leftist history professor Robert Beckwith taught me years ago, “Figures don’t lie, but liars sure figure!” But you have to examine the evidence no matter who marshaled it or why.
Another very chic logical fallacy is that of hasty generalization. The whole Black Lies Matter movement, founded upon debunked falsehoods about police murdering black youths (“Hands up don’t shoot!”), is based on vilifying policemen in general because of the actions of a tiny minority, the logic being that if any black youths are killed by police, this must mean that all cops are at war with black youth simply for being black. In practice, according to this ideology, there can by definition be no black criminals because to accuse one is to accuse all, and that would be racist. Any criticism of any blacks becomes racism. Since it would be racist to suggest that the disproportion of blacks in prison is due to the fact of disproportionate black crime would be racist, too, since we know that is impossible. Crime rates must be equal for all ethnicities. If you suggest that, no, there really is a disproportionate crime rate among blacks but that the reason for it, far from the absurd claim that blacks are genetically predisposed to crime, is the decay of the African-American family because of disastrous government welfare policies, even that will be condemned as racist. Merely pointing out a difficulty in the black community is racist, implying blacks can do no wrong. And the resulting Politically Correct hatred of the police, leading to their refusal to fight crime lest they be pilloried and even arrested for it, shows how absurd things have become. Just as absurd as W.B. Yeats saw that they would.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
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.
Ever notice that muggers and burglars on TV are almost always white? This is, obviously, because the depiction of a black criminal would supposedly implicate all blacks as criminals. That in itself would be a ludicrous hasty generalization. But the “solution” is to imply that the reverse is true: criminals must never be depicted as black. Either all of them are, runs the murky logic, or none are.
In the same way, hyper-morality decrees that no one criticize Muslim terrorists because to do so would be to vilify all Muslims. Of course, it would not, but the PC cries of “Islamophobia!” imply (unwittingly and falsely) that all Muslims are terrorists. If to condemn some Muslims is to implicate all Muslims, which we must not do, then to defend all Muslims even if some are terrorists, is to imply all Muslims are exonerated. If we say any are evil, we are saying all are, and since that is obviously false, then all Muslims must be innocent, right?
Our multicultural hyper-sensitivity functions as a Trojan horse for the open society to be subverted by its enemies. Decadent, naïve societies, engaged as they are in a Mad Hatter’s tea party, are inviting and facilitating their own demise. They are spreading their own blood on the water: “Come and get us! We’re ripe!”
“What if they gave a war and nobody came?” You may not show up, but rest assured, they will.
So says Zarathustra.
Patronize me! Please!
As several of you have advised me to do, Qarol and I have set up a Patreon account. This is a wonderful way of bringing into the 21st century the venerable tradition of patronage: donors supporting artists, philosophers, and scholars, leaving them free to devote more time to their valuable work. In the past, it was only wealthy aristocrats who patronized creators, but Patreon democratizes patronage, inviting interested supporters to contribute whatever they can each month. As Father Guido Sarducci said about those “thirty-five cent sins,” “they mount up!” As you know, I am busy at (too) many things: this blog, my many book projects, the Bible Geek podcast, debating and speaking, and editing fiction anthologies (plus writing my own stories). I have no teaching position because my well-known writings have made me notorious, but I still must share what I know, share it with you.
It would be a very great help to me and my family if we could receive enough support on a regular basis to pay our bills and to allow Carol to leave her (low-paying) job to become my partner and administrative assistant. I would also love to pay my volunteer Bible Geek producers for their heroic efforts on my behalf and yours. Also, Qarol and I would like to share our Heretics Anonymous discussion groups with you, on-line and in person. Your generosity will help us cover our current projects and enable us to expand our efforts. I hope you will consider it! Thanks! https://www.patreon.com/robertmprice