It has long seemed abundantly clear to me that I was born into a dying, if not already dead, civilisation, whose literature was part of the general decomposition; a heap of rubble scavenged by scrawny Eng.Lit. vultures, and echoing with the hyena cries of Freudians looking for their Marx and Marxists looking for their Freud. This, despite Adam’s apples quivering over winged collars to extol it, and money, money, money, printed off and stuffed into briefcases to finance it. At the beginning of a civilisation, the role of the artist is priestly; at the end, harlequinade. From St Augustine to St Ezra Pound, from Plainsong to the Rolling Stones, from El Greco to Picasso, from Chartres to the Empire State Building, from Benvenuto Cellini to Henry Miller, from Pascal’s Pensées to Robinson’s Honest to God. A Gadarene descent down which we all must slide, finishing up in the same slough.Malcolm Muggeridge, Chronicles of Wasted Time
Clown World Will Not Last Forever
It is the same with all their machines. Their labour-saving devices multiply drudgery; their aphrodisiacs make them impotent: their amusements bore them: their rapid production of food leaves half of them starving, and their devices for saving time have banished leisure from their country. There will be no radical change. And as for permanence—consider how quickly all machines are broken and obliterated. The black solitudes will some day be green again, and of all cities that I have seen these iron cities will break most suddenly.CS Lewis, The Pilgrim’s Regress: An Allegorical Apology for Christianity, Reason and Romanticism
And even if Clown World survives materially, it certainly will not survive spiritually. Of course, it thinks it will, and prides itself on its inevitability—on being on the “right side of history”:
The new age, the new art, the new ethic and thought,
And fools crying, Because it has begun
It will continue as it has begun!
The wheel runs fast, therefore the wheel will run
Faster for ever. The old age is done,
We have new lights and see without the sun.
(Though they lay flat the mountains and dry up the sea,
Wilt thou yet change, as though God were a god?)
But already, before our eyes, it is wasting away. As it must, for it is suicidal:
Liberalism is the ideology of Western suicide. When once this initial and final sentence is understood, everything about liberalism—the beliefs, emotions and values associated with it, the nature of its enchantment, its practical record, its future—falls into place.James Burnham, Suicide of the West: An Essay on the Meaning and Destiny of Liberalism
Not that Clown World will ever admit to as much:
[T]he ideology of modern liberalism must be understood as itself one of the expressions of the Western contraction and decline; a kind of epiphenomenon or haze accompanying the march of history; a swan song, a spiritual solace of the same order as the murmuring of a mother to a child who is gravely ill. … It is as if a man, struck with a mortal disease, were able to say and to believe, as the flush of the fever spread over his face, “Ah, the glow of health returning!”; as his flesh wasted away, “At least I am able to trim down that paunch the doctor always warned me about!”; as a finger dropped off with gangrene or leprosy, “Now I won’t have that bothersome job of trimming those nails every week!” Liberalism permits Western civilization to be reconciled to dissolution; and this function its formulas will enable it to serve right through to the very end, if matters turn out that way: for even if Western civilization is wholly vanquished or altogether collapses, we or our children will be able to see that ending, by the light of the principles of liberalism, not as a final defeat, but as the transition to a new and higher order in which Mankind as a whole joins in a universal civilization that has risen above the parochial distinctions, divisions and discriminations of the past.
Now, however (and ironically), the masks are off. There is no Kumbaya, no Revolution, no “social justice,” no universal civilization, just an insecure neoliberal Establishment on its last legs.
Clown World will not last forever. Its fake government, fake money, fake food, fake art, fake genders, fake sex, fake outrage, fake justice, and of course fake news will not last forever. The only question is when they will die—and what will come next.
Hopefully things will get better. They may yet get worse. Be not afraid! Eat meat, HODL Bitcoin, read old books, lift, and pray.
When You Are No Longer There
So long as you go and come in your native land, you imagine that those streets are a matter of indifference to you; that those windows, those roofs, and those doors are nothing to you; that those walls are strangers to you; that those trees are merely the first encountered haphazard; that those houses, which you do not enter, are useless to you; that the pavements which you tread are merely stones. Later on, when you are no longer there, you perceive that the streets are dear to you; that you miss those roofs, those doors; and that those walls are necessary to you, those trees are well beloved by you; that you entered those houses which you never entered, every day, and that you have left a part of your heart, of your blood, of your soul, in those pavements. All those places which you no longer behold, which you may never behold again, perchance, and whose memory you have cherished, take on a melancholy charm, recur to your mind with the melancholy of an apparition, make the holy land visible to you, and are, so to speak, the very form of France, and you love them; and you call them up as they are, as they were, and you persist in this, and you will submit to no change: for you are attached to the figure of your fatherland as to the face of your mother.Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Men That Had Understanding of the Times
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.1 Chronicles 12.32
“Men that had understanding of the times”—in their case, political and military understanding of the times, understanding of the conflict between David and King Saul.
It is no sin (necessarily) to misunderstand the times. But Israel would not have survived without men who had understanding of the times and who knew what Israel ought to do. And likewise the Church cannot survive without such men who have the wisdom to understand the times.
Most Christians do not—partly excusably, partly without excuse. The Church suffers as a result. The Church falters without men and leaders who understand the times.
“[S]kepticism in religion,” as William Phelps observed, “is, in nine cases out of ten, followed by skepticism in morals.” The progressives were generally less interested in the churches than the traditionalists … partly because it was precisely the progressive-liberal reform of the churches which had apparently undermined religion.”Paula Fass, The Damned and the Beautiful: American Youth in the 1920s
Nothing new under the sun.
You Can’t Trust the Experts: “Cut Medicine in Half”
[O]ur main problem in health policy is a huge overemphasis on medicine. The U.S. spends one sixth of national income on medicine, more than on all manufacturing. But … we see at best only weak aggregate relations between health and medicine…. Cutting half of medical spending would seem to cost little in health, and yet would free up vast resources for other health and utility gains. To their shame, health experts have not said this loudly and clearly enough. … [M]edicine has played at best a minor role in our increased lifespans over the centuries.… [W]e could cut U.S. medical spending in half without substantial net health costs.… This would give us the equivalent of an 8% pay raise.Robin Hanson, “Cut Medicine in Half”
Universal health and universal health care have hardly anything to do with each other. Eat, sleep, and exercise accordingly.
Chambers on the 20th Century
[The 20th century] is the first century since life began when a decisive part of the most articulate section of mankind has not merely ceased to believe in God, but has deliberately rejected God. And it is the century in which this religious rejection has taken a specifically political form, so that the characteristic experience of the mind in this age is a political experience. At every point, religion and politics interlace, and must do so more acutely as the conflict between the two great camps of men—those who reject and those who worship God—becomes irrepressible.Whittaker Chambers, Witness
You may not be interested in politics. But politics is interested in you.
Politics Is Interested in You
[S]ocialism is precisely the religion that must kill Christianity. … [I]t has replaced the transcendental God of the Catholics in consciences with trust in man and in his best efforts as the only spiritual reality. Our gospel is modern philosophy … that which does without the hypothesis of God in the vision of the universe.Antonio Gramsci
How is socialism supposed to kill Christianity? Gramsci again:
In the new order, socialism will triumph first and foremost by capturing the culture through the infiltration of schools, universities, churches and the media, transforming the consciousness of society.
Gramsci, by the way, died in 1937. A man ahead of his time.
You, dear Christian reader, may not be interested in politics. But politics is interested in you.
I Smell a (Democ)Rat
This report studies 8,954 individual updates to the vote totals in all 50 states and finds that four individual updates … are profoundly anomalous…. [I]f these updates were only more extreme than 99% of all updates nationally … Joe Biden may very well have lost the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia…. [H]is margin of victory in these three states relies on four [of the] most anomalous vote updates identified by the metric developed in this report.“Anomalies in Vote Counts and Their Effects on Election 2020”
(And forgive the terrible pun in the title of this post.)
(Update: This thread summarizes the main findings of the article above in layman’s terms.)
Carlyle on the New Millennium
All the Millenniums I ever heard of heretofore were to be preceded by a “chaining of the Devil for a thousand years,”—laying him up, tied neck and heels, and put beyond stirring, as the preliminary. You too have been taking preliminary steps, with more and more ardour, for a thirty years back; but they seem to be all in the opposite direction: a cutting asunder of straps and ties, wherever you might find them; pretty indiscriminate of choice in the matter: a general repeal of old regulations, fetters, and restrictions (restrictions on the Devil originally, I believe, for most part, but now fallen slack and ineffectual), which had become unpleasant to many of you,—with loud shouting from the multitude, as strap after strap was cut, “Glory, glory, another strap is gone!”—this, I think, has mainly been the sublime legislative industry of Parliament since it became “Reform Parliament;” victoriously successful, and thought sublime and beneficent by some. So that now hardly any limb of the Devil has a thrum, or tatter of rope or leather left upon it:—there needs almost superhuman heroism in you to “whip” a garotter; no Fenian taken with the reddest hand is to be meddled with, under penalties; hardly a murderer, never so detestable and hideous, but you find him “insane,” and board him at the public expense, a very peculiar British Prytaneum of these days! And in fact, the Devil (he, verily, if you will consider the sense of words) is likewise become an Emancipated Gentleman; lithe of limb as in Adam and Eve’s time, and scarcely a toe or finger of him tied any more. And you, my astonishing friends, you are certainly getting into a millennium, such as never was before,—hardly even in the dreams of Bedlam.