They say that the child is father to the man. But what becomes of the man when the child never grows up? That is the unfortunate question that civilization as we know it, is confronted by. That is the question it will have to answer if it wants to survive.
The journey from child to man occurs in three stages. ADULATION. REBELLION. INTEGRATION. The child adulates the parent. Then as the adolescent is forced to begin transitioning into the adult role, he responds with rebellion. When he takes on into his adult role, integration occurs.
Generally speaking, this cycle occurs individually within families, but it also occurs on a generational level, as a generational rebellion gives way to its integration into the larger cycle of a nation, a group and their history. And just as the rebellion of the adolescent helps him discover his talents and leads to his integration, a generational rebellion helps define a generation’s ability to join with and contribute to their country. What happens however when this cycle is aborted at the Rebellion stage, is a perpetual adolescence or a case of arrested development, in which there is a constant rebellion driven by a compulsion to see the world in childish ways in order to maintain the constants of childhood.
Welcome to the world today. But not just today. We are living in a First World that is in a state of arrested development. We are surrounded by a culture that is a product of arrested development. We are surrounded by the politics of arrested development. To read the newspapers, to turn on the television and to look at the level of debate in society after society today, is to see the effects of generations that are in a state of perpetual adolescence, producing children who are born into a culture where that is the default state. While there are still plenty of adults around, the loci of cultural and political impact centers around those trapped in the Rebellion stage, and sizable numbers of the population in every First World country carry on their worldview.
Let’s take a closer look now at what the Rebellion stage looks like. This is vitally important, because we’re living in it now
The Rebellion stage is the transition between childhood and adulthood. It’s a reaction to the child being forced to discover what the adult world is really like, and to begin taking on adult responsibilities. (The Mid-life crisis is a somewhat similar event.) The Rebellion stage is marked by the aggressive imposition of a childish worldview on the adult world in order to maintain childhood’s premises for those who are no longer children.
The Rebellion stage often features the embrace of idealistic politics that are short on realistic plans, but emphasize idealistic global solutions. (Seeing the world’s problems as a child sees it.) The Rebellion stage often sees a rejection of conventional adult authority and rules, in favor of alternative systems that are either anarchic or benevolently totalitarian. (By rejecting conventional authority, the child also rejects the possibility of taking on an adult role, and instead searches for maximum freedom from responsibility through either a complete lack of rules, or a complete lack of rules backed by the security of a nanny state.)
At the Rebellion stage, cultural value is placed not on achievement, but on creativity itself. Art is detached from actual artistic accomplishment, but valued as an internal expression of self. (To a child, finger painting is important for the joy of creating, not necessarily for the objective value of the results) Film, theater and novels are valued purely for their shock value, which means breaking taboos becomes the highest form of drama or comedy. (The child has a short attention span and is captivated by that which startles him and thereby gains his attention.)
In the Rebellion stages, there is no grand system of ideas, only contextual values. Morality is relative, because objective rules are too confining and seem to lack empathy and space for the expression of individual impulses. (To the child, rules are emotional, not rational. Contextual, not eternal.) The Rebellion stage results in the romanticizing of one’s own emotions of confusion, oppression and disenfranchisement, and projecting them on the outsider, who is considered “closer” than members of one’s own group because he too is an outsider. The outsider comes to seem like a pathway to a form of natural vitality, both physical and spiritual, that has been denied to him by his own “conformist” upbringing. (The child yearns for the natural order and the natural impulse as a defense against the artificial and abstract rules of the world.)
It’s easy enough to see all of these elements around us, in our institutions, in our culture and our politics. To actually see the flash frozen Rebellion stage worldview in action, consider the cultural stereotypes in the United States of the contrast between the 50’s and the 60’s. Reduce them to their most cliched. The oppressive workplace vs the open air concert. Working for the man vs Doing your own thing. Being passionate about the world vs. Believing what everyone else does. The three piece suit vs The free spirit. These stereotypes even at their most negative embody a very simple contrast, between Civilization and its Discontented.
Just as the adolescent rebels against having to take on adult roles, by trying to return to childhood. Generationally speaking, those who reject taking on the adult roles of a civilization, instead try to drag that civilization back to a juvenile stage. And juvenile in terms of civilization, is just another word for primitive or savage.
To romanticize the primitive and the backward, whether it’s hanging up Jackson Pollocks in place of Rembrandts, cheering on whatever bunch of Third World thugs wants to destroy us this era or rejecting monogamy and marriage, or arguing that we need to restrict technology in order to protect the environment– all stem from the same hostility of civilization’s children… to the civilization that gave birth to them.
Let’s take a look at Hollywood for a moment, which switched from serving up celluloid fantasies in which the forces of order slaughter the representations of primitivism to celluloid fantasies in which the forces of primitivism slaughter the forces of order. While critics label the former as jingoistic, and the latter as safely politically correct, both are cultural expressions of a struggle between civilization and primitivism. The shift marks the cultural ascendancy of those whose sympathies are wholeheartedly against civilization and to whom the emotional resonance of a return to a simpler and more primitive way of life is stronger, than the emotional resonance of protecting civilization. These films represent the rebellion against civilization by those who see it to be poisonous and threatening to their “natural impulses”, in its implicit demand that they stop acting like children and grow up.
This of course brings us to the Noble Savage. To the rebellious children of civilization, he points the way back to a simpler and more natural way of life. While former generations wanted to justify their way of life by “civilizing the savage”, their angry children wanted the “savage” to justify their way of life by teaching them to be savage too. Both approaches are of course racist and ignorant, but only one is safely politically correct.
The romanticization of the “Other” as the “Noble Savage”, who in this stereotype is closer to nature, impulsive, generous, pleasure seeking, innately vital and spiritual– has allowed emotionally adolescent First Worlders to transform numerous minorities into “avatars” for their own arrested development. And in always being on the lookout for someone to play Jim to their Huck Finn, for their own adventure down the river, and into a perpetual childhood away from the challenges and demands of adult civilization. Who will teach them how to find the “savage” in themselves, by showing them to discard civilization and become more generous, spiritual and natural.
In the process, they’ve practiced a racism just as pernicious as anything they’ve campaigned against, but it is a racism that they cannot let go of, because it is also the only reason that they are against racism in the first place. And in the process it will also destroy them, because their worst miscalculation has been to adopt the Muslim as the latest in their line of “Noble Savages”. And the rising amount of Muslim violence only makes them cling harder to the newfound “savages” whom they hope will show them how to take care of that pesky civilization thing once and for all. Which indeed given time and power they will. However at the other end of civilization will not be some lost primitive eden, but slavery, oppression and death.
Let us look now at the birth rates. The birth rate has dropped drastically in just about every civilized country. But that is not surprising because adolescents are not particularly interested in having children. It is generally the more traditional sectors of a country that maintain the childbirth rate, and incoming immigrants. Meanwhile in the cultural centers, couples marry later and give birth to children much later, and in smaller numbers, if they bother with that at all. Children after all require parents to take on an adult role. Many First World couples instead decide to focus on themselves. As one European couple explained in an article, they could either have a car and an annual vacation or children. And so they made their choice. And so have so many others, without the newspaper headlines.
Arrested development means delayed maturity. The educational system has expanded to accommodate that, with larger numbers of young people maintaining their higher education as late as their late twenties. Lowered sexual mores also means delayed marriages or no marriages at all. A Me First culture also helps insure a higher divorce rate. Together all these help keep the birth rate down. But the overriding factor is the escape from adult roles by instead focusing on self-fulfillment and pleasure seeking, over taking on adult responsibilities. That means a Rebellion culture is also a low birth rate culture (an ironic contrast to the Noble Savage whom they strive to emulate.)
Adulthood requires transcending the self. By contrast perpetual adolescence never does. Instead it makes the self, the focus of everything. Politics, art, culture, institutions and the whole world become nothing more than projections of the self. Politics is reduced to reduced to supporting politicians who mirror your anger or promise to take care of you. Art is reduced to self-fulfilling creativity without actual creative accomplishment. Institutions operate by either making rules for everything or having no rules at all. Moral relativism and anecdotal evidence dominate public rhetoric. There is a great deal of wealth, but it is spent as fast as it appears. Such a culture cannot survive for very long, because what it builds cannot hold its own weight.
Generational rebellion, like adolescent rebellion, plays a very important role in regenerating a culture. A brief period of rebellion uses a child’s viewpoint to shake up a culture and introduce new ideas and perspectives. Some of these new ideas and perspectives are then integrated into the existing system to enrich and strengthen it. This cycle can help take a civilization to new levels and heights.
However when this cycle is aborted, the rebellion stage never ends. Instead it stagnates. New ideas become old, but there is nothing to replace them, because the ideas have never become integrated into anything greater than themselves. Instead the next generation, which has nothing to rebel against but rebellion itself, rebels by finding new extremes to go to. Politics becomes increasingly more abrasive, even as it becomes more devoid of actual content. High culture transforms into random trends of the moment. Low culture simply panders shamelessly to shock value and spectacle.
The cult of youth dominates the culture, which makes Carpe Diem the only moral law, as social and economic activity becomes centered around everyone scurrying to deny the march of time by fulfilling their own selfish needs. Religion collapses, except for cults and mystery religions which offer secret ways to be immortal. The birth rate drops sharply and family life, the center of any civilization, collapses as well. Industry dies away and is replaced by personal services. No one wants to do the dirty work, and in any case a falling birth has created numerous openings at the bottom, and so migration brings in a new lower class, which a bored upper class sees as exotic and exciting. The worship of the Noble Savage eventually ends with the sack of civilization.
We have gone down this road before, and it always leads to the same place. The failure by a civilization to continue the cycle by integrating into adulthood, will mean its destruction… if left unchecked. Just as a man, who insists on remaining a child cannot survive on his own… so too a civilization that insists on running away from itself, will perish in the flames of its own making.
The Rebellion stage transitions into the adulthood stage through Integration. With Integration, the adolescent models and accepts the adult role and the responsibilities that come with it. Through Integration, the student comes to see himself as the teacher, the son as the father, the daughter as the mother, the worker as the manager… and a generation takes the next step in the history of its people. The creativity and new ideas it brings with it, becomes integrated in constructive ways and forms the next chapter of the great story of their civilization.
However the modern day educational system helps take the child in the Adulation stage, when he still looks up to and respect adult roles, and its teachers and professors who idolize the Rebellion stage, teach him that this form of arrested development is the highest wisdom. Integration is then delayed or aborted, and the modern intellectual dialogue becomes centered around Rebellion stage ideas.
Adult role models are of course key to that integration. The decline of the family, both in personal and public life, makes integration much more difficult. Particularly if the culture insists on degrading adult role models, and presenting negative models instead. A culture’s myths and stories help guide the adolescent into adulthood. As do the tasks he has to perform. When a culture’s stories become rebellion stage oriented and the tasks involve participating in an indefinite educational program, this too makes the transition to an adult role that much more difficult. Overlay all this with a nanny state that is itself the symptom of a Rebellion culture looking to create substitute parents to take care of them– and it becomes harder for the next generation to become adults.
Adulthood means transforming the Resistive Creativity of the Rebellion Stage into the Constructive Creativity of the Integration stage. Resistive Creativity is creativity that exists in defiance to some form of restriction. Where Resistive Creativity was once a symptom of youthful rebellion or bohemian attitudes, it has become ubiquitous in the First World today. By contrast Constructive Creativity, which is additive creativity that focuses on craftsmanship and creating a final product that benefits people, rather than simply expressing a resistance to rules, has become harder to find. As a result of this, America has begun suffering a decline in non-theoretical sciences, as well as in its culture. And we are burdened with politicians who are creative in terms of being able to come up with all sorts of big ideas, but not constructive in terms of being able to see them through.
Socialism. Dhimmism. Low birth rates. The breakup of the family. The decline of the West. The rise of the Nanny State and the fall of human freedoms. The adoration of anyone willing to upend civilization– all have a common denominator. And this is it.
The adolescent rebels against adulthood by trying to function as a child, living without fear or consequences, embracing idealism rather than ideas, and self-fulfillment over responsibility. A culture rebelling against civilization tries to function as they think primitives do, by trying to be children again. And the results are all around us.
The Rebellion stage cannot continue indefinitely. It has long ago become stale. Yet by failing to move on, it has trapped generation after generation in its broken cycle. And the only way out for the First World is to put aside childish things and make the decision to at last grow up. If we cannot do that in the face of the Jihad… we may never do it at all. In the aftermath of 9/11, there was a flash in which a culture that had been taught to forget adulthood, suddenly experienced what it was like to be adults. Some reverted back again. But many did not. Year after year, the knife is moving closer to our throats. Technology alone cannot turn it back. Only the adult mind, the adult determination and the adult will to defend ourselves at any cost can do that. And by finally taking on that long neglected adult role, the First World’s perpetual adolescent cultures may finally become adults again.
Identification is at the core of human allegiances. We identify with a family, a community and a nation. We identify with ideas and beliefs, with groups that share those beliefs. And we uphold the fusion of belief and community, idea and nation.
Through this innate form of identification allegiance, nations and ideas, including our own nations and ideas, thrive and survive. The increasing failure of this process is also what’s killing the First World.
Much of the problem lies in the fact that the First World and its ideas and belief systems no longer has anything but the thinnest of identities. And without an identity, identification fails as the individual has nothing to grasp on to, and identify with.
Most of the West has become “diversity oriented” with diversity no longer emphasized simply to promote tolerance, but as a goal in and of itself. Goal oriented diversity exists for no reason except to promote diversity as the ultimate good. Like a biological mechanism turned cancerous, diversity reproduces itself for no purpose except to have more diversity. And while some diversity is a good, unlimited diversity is as destructive as any virus because it breaks down all substance, leaving behind nothing behind but the worship of itself.
Multiculturalism has increasingly diverged from promoting diversity in order to focus unity within a nation, to promoting diversity of nations within a nation. The Eurabia problem is the result of abandoning any limitations on diversity, and exposing a culture that believes in diversity to one that does not. The results are ugly and inevitable from both a biological and a sociological standpoint.
And identification loses its hold when diversity has thinned down national identity and culture to the point that there is no longer anything to identify with– that is except the outsider culture. Multicultural diversity promotes outsider culture and identity at the expense of national culture and identity, which has to make way for it, or be eradicated outright for standing in the way of the multicultural approach.
Little wonder then that the development of the youth finds them identifying with the outsider culture. It is of course a normal part of the maturation process for youth to identify with an outsider culture, this can manifest itself in the children of the upper class seeking out the lower class, in music, culture and politics that is violent or revolutionary. As Churchill said, “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.” The evolution from one to the other is not merely a matter of common sense or reason, but the more practical one that comes from maturing to identify with your adult role in life. (Much the same as children who identify closest with a cross-gender parent, realign their identification when they begin to actually fill a male or female role.)
But to actually complete the identification process, there needs to be an adult role to fill within a nation that projects a strong sense of its own identity and interests. The failure of the First World to provide both these things has led to delayed adolescence and maturity, to the rise of 30 something and even 40 and 50 something old ‘children’ who have never grown up. And it has of course greatly increased the number of ‘twenty-five year old liberals’ who failed to grow a brain, even when they’re sixty-five.
The two problems are intertwined with each other, and they have helped create a constellation of other destructive cultural pathogens feeding off each other. The delayed maturity has created a youth centered culture, so that First World nations have cultures that are oriented not toward the wisdom of age, but the flashy impulses of youth… the new, the trendy and the loud and furious. Obama’s victory was the product of a culture that had warped itself to worship youth, in which style and fashion were far more decisive than experience and knowledge. Such a culture is of course absurdly easy to manipulate if you have the leverage and the organization.
A youth oriented culture is a Carpe Diem culture, it does not plan or think ahead… it simply does. Its identifications are shallow and fleeting, though often passionate… because it is still looking for something to identify with. The value of a thing is indicated by its stylishness and fashionability. Cutting edge matters more than reliability.
The maturation process is one in which the total identification of the child often gives way to the rebelliousness disidentification with family and society, an individuation technique that causes identification to drift until it localizes itself back on the family and the nation, as the now developed individual takes on an adult role in his society.
Revolutionary movements throughout history have understood that gap quite well and exploited it, most successfully by the left wing movements of the 19th and 20th centuries which turned revolution into a science. The second half of the 20th century however saw the culmination of their triumph in America and Europe. (The 1980’s in the case of Israel.) Using the youth as leverage, the counter-culture became simply culture, both in the general and the political sense. The nature of the “adult role” in the First World changed dramatically, the family imploded, and every generation thereafter was in turn the product of a society whose elders were no longer true adults and whose societies had traded their national ideals for progressive liberal filler.
What are the consequences of all that?
When the maturation process is interrupted, the identification with the adult role does not occur. Like a rope without an anchor, such a person is untethered from any long term allegiances, guided only by emotion and frustration with his limitations. For such a person “outsider identification” becomes the norm, a way to channel his own rejection of an adult role and authority. On a societal scale, what happens looks a good deal like Stockholm Syndrome… but it is an identification driven not by fear, but by immaturity.
For “outsider identification” to be a serious factor, the outsider culture must be stronger and more durable than his own culture. This of course is a natural product of shortchanging a national culture as being reactionary, racist or nationalistic… in order to make way for the diversity of a multicultural society. When a native culture is displaced to make way for an outside culture or cultures, the natives begin to identify with the last culture standing, or the one that appears stronger, more vital and more defined.
The same process that occurred in the Third World, in Africa and Asia and the Middle East… has now reversed and is taking place in the First World, in countries such as Europe and America instead. Outsider identification is not unusual for oppressed minorities. For example the Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court case relied on the Clark doll test in which black children identified black dolls as ugly and white dolls as appealing. And in counterpoint, Larry King’s daughter wishing she was black in the aftermath of Obama’s election demonstrated a reversal of the Clark doll test.
But Americans and Europeans are not oppressed minorities, they are successful majorities. They have not been segregated, shunned, enslaved or discriminated against for a long time. Until now.
The cultures of the First World are no longer thriving, they are dying. It’s a slow death and it’s an ugly one, much like a man who year after year consumes contaminated food that he knows will kill him.
The black children in the Clark doll experiment identified with white dolls because they had learned implicitly that being black was bad and white was good. American, European, Australian, Israel and many other children from the First World have been taught for over two generations now that their nations, their cultures, their way of life and their ideals are bad. Their nations and cultures are only good to the extent that they identify with the outsider.
Is there any wonder that we’re living in nations which have swerved destructively to the left? It would be a miracle if we weren’t. Nor is it remarkable that we’re living in societies run and stocked with children who have never grown up. To grow up you have to take an adult role in your society. With nations held in contempt, society transformed into a multicultural comparison chart and the family despised… it would be a miracle if we weren’t overrun with overgrown children everywhere we looked.
The identity crisis of the First World, of the civilized nations of the world, is at the heart of our problems. It isn’t simply a matter of what is taught in the schools, because the focus on identifying with the outside culture is a message projected in every form of popular culture, it is echoed by truisms and advice columns, by movies and TV, by music and literature. There is no escaping it and no way to insulate yourself defensively from it.
That is the problem we face and our challenge. To survive we need to promote a positive national identity that is not based on diversity or outsider culture, and we need to channel it into resisting outsider culture where it is inappropriate or a threat to our own nations or cultures. That does not mean intolerance for the sake of intolerance, but an identification with our own way of life.
The Islamic threat is a terroristic one, but also a demographic and a cultural one. Yet it is often the cultural threat that is most decisive, for to conquer a nation you must first destroy its culture, its sense of self and the method by which a nation’s youth identify its future as their own.
To survive and to win, we must have more than strong militaries, we must have strong cultures. Patriotism, nationalism and faith attached to vital and specific identities can form a generation capable of standing off the tyranny of Islam. It can help transform First World nations from childishness to maturity, as the aftermath of 9/11 temporarily did for so many Americans. That atrocity was the wake up call for many who realized not just the evils of our enemies, but the virtues of our nation. It faded, like most awakenings based on the shock of an individual event will. What we need is more than just a wake up call, but national awakenings built on a revival of national values and culture to show us who we were and who we can be again.
The modern day liberal is autocratic. His beliefs are the product of an aristocracy which rejected rule by a hereditary aristocracy, in favor of rule by an ideological aristocracy. They called this process by which one elite winnowed itself down, revolution, but such purges were not true revolutions, they were the transition of power from people who ruled because of their blood, to people who ruled because of their revolutionary consciousness. These people too generally came from the upper to middle classes. The only difference was they believed in a new kind of aristocracy. An aristocracy built on the right of those who knew better to rule in order to improve the lives of those who did not know better. That boiled down, is the essence of the left.
Democracy is not idealistic, it is realistic. It must be realistic because it disperses its decision making among the people who rule it. Those people have natural human failings. Rule by democracy means playing the odds. It means not investing too much in any particular wave, but having confidence that the combined waves will eventually carry the ship home. Centralization is alien to democracy, because it means investing in systems at the expense of the people. The increasing centralization of a government also means a reduction in the extent to which the people participate in its decisions.
In a democracy, individuals do the long term planning, while governments do the short term planning, because all long term planning is subject to revision, when the government is subject to revision. This is its weakness as it combines a wise people with a government that has difficulty thinking more than a few years ahead. When central planning becomes the focus however, individuals do only short term planning, while governments do all the long term planning for them. This is a far more devastating weakness in the long run, because it combines a foolish people with an arrogant government.
Liberal aristocracy is not realistic, it is idealistic. It does not follow workable policies, but policies that it believes must work, because they accord with their ideological view of the world, or simply the will of their leader. Where democracy suffers from ‘spot fallibility’, the centralized systems of the left suffer from ‘total fallibility’. This resembles a unit with several internal serviceable parts that can be swapped out and replaced, as opposed to a sealed single integrated unit that cannot be serviced. The former can have parts that will fail and be replaced, and still go on working. The latter will simply fail and take everything down with it.
Movements which claim to be revolutionary and liberationist, which instead are quickly revealed to oppressive and elitist, reveal a fundamental hypocrisy. And grand hypocrisy in the ideals of a movement demonstrate its unworkability, just as a product whose description differs fundamentally from its actual functionality will never do what its buyers expect it to do. In a political movement, hypocrisy may be similarly described as a divergence between words and actions. When words and actions dramatically diverge, it means that the stated purpose of a movement is not its real purpose.
Ideological autocracies that are revolutionary require a constant revolution to maintain their vigor. This means fighting internal and external enemies. Since political autocracy is institutional, liberal autocrats thrive on tearing down existing institutions and replacing them with their own institutions. Habitually distrustful of natural institutions such as the family. they insist on replacing them with artificial institutions of their own making. Once overlaid with laws and given large responsibilities, these institutions quickly devolve into bureaucracies. The more control is exercised over them, the more centralized they become. Each modification only adds another layer of bureaucracy. Reform of the bureaucracy then itself becomes an exercise in expanding the size and scope of the bureaucracy.
Bureaucracies also make for a wonderful cover for hypocrisy as they appear to be governed by wholly objective rules. This of course ignores the underlying bias at the heart of bureaucracy. The bias of the system. Human laws are those laws which protect human beings from each other and the system. Inhuman laws are those laws which protect systems from human beings. Bureaucracy thrives on inhuman laws, because by equating human welfare with its workings, it acquires a superhuman status. Bureaucracy becomes next to godliness.
Centralization requires a constant expansion of the size of government in order to accommodate larger responsibilities. This process can rapidly transform a democracy into a bureaucracy, as such a system cannot be run by the people. Instead it is run by a series of internal laws, overseen by managers who outlast virtually all politicians. While politicians may try to dictate to bureaucracies, their ability to interfere in the internal workings of the bureaucracy is limited by the same process that makes it impossible to people to manage those bureaucracies. Size.
Where businesses expand through revenues, bureaucracies expand through the scope of their responsibilities. Since all institutions seek to expand, yet businesses are limited in the scope of their expansion by their revenues, while bureaucracies are only limited by the scope of their responsibilities– bureaucracies are able to expand well beyond businesses. And they are not bound by resources, as those resources are derived from the winners in the economy. Unlike businesses who have to bet on the right horse to win, bureaucracies win no matter which horse comes in first. Because they are built on resources taken from the businesses who won the bet.
Bureaucracy is the perfect pair to liberal aristocracy, because both of them are undemocratic. Bureaucracy eventually swallows revolutionary impulses, making them into another aspect of the system. A system that is wholly corrupt, because it wields power without oversight. Thus bureaucracy becomes the ultimate expression of that fundamental hypocrisy at the heart of the revolutionary impulse by aristocrats promising freedom to the people they would rule over. It reaffirms their rule, drowns their opponents in regulations and fosters secret systems of loyalties and affinities within the bureaucracy that can be used for internal feuds and rewards.
When power is invested in a system, the system itself becomes the expression of that power, wholly apart from any goals that it was originally meant to serve. When an ideology invests power in a system, the system comes to represent the meaning of that ideology. Bureaucracy is the terminus of all ideologies that steal power from the people. It is an expression of their belief in the system over the people. Those who would rule in the name of the people, must either give up power to the people, or cease to deny the hypocrisy at the root of their ideology.
Bureaucracy is institutionalized hypocrisy, it is the product of rulers who believe in systems rather than in people. It consumes what the people produce, and its consumption has no limit beyond its ability to draw those resources from the people. Like every parasitic system, it is ultimately undone by its own parasitism, in that it will either weaken the people too severely for them to defend it when the time comes, or outrage them sufficiently so that they will overthrow it. Either way it is a dead end. And so are the ideologies that invest their energy in them.
The Soviet Union used wheat as one of its national symbols, but despite being a vast agricultural empire, had gone billions into debt to buy Western wheat. Even as the Warsaw Pact nations were talking about destroying capitalism– by 1986 they had racked up 138 billion dollars in debt to Western banks to pay for basic subsistence level imported goods.
What went wrong? There was one easy clue. Altogether Soviet farmers used less than 5 percent of the land for private farming, they produced a third of the agricultural produce. Meanwhile the massive system of collectivization at the heart of Communism couldn’t even feed its own people. But all the while agricultural officials went on reporting record harvests each year.
The system was completely broken but only the people at the bottom had any inkling why. And there was no way for them to communicate that up the chain of command. Even if they had been able to, their only reward would have been a jail sentence. Those at the top could not concede that the system was broken, let alone why. Instead they put the country deeper into debt to pay for the consequences of their disastrous economic program.
This is not just history. It’s the present. It’s us.
Think about a country with a 15 trillion dollar debt whose leaders and media insist that everything is going swimmingly. A government which goes into debt for grandiose projects every year– and none of them ever amount to anything. A new year and a new trillion dollar budget, packed full of projects that are dead ends. Grand ideas that make the politicians feel good about themselves, but can never work. We beat the Soviet Union– but these days we look a lot like it. A repressive bureaucracy, an out of touch political class, mounting debt, failing industries and an angry populace caught between government benefits and enforced poverty.
North Korea has been building a 105 story hotel since 1987– and we still haven’t even managed to construct a much smaller replacement for the World Trade Center. But during the Great Depression, New York city and state governments built the Empire State Building in a single year from blueprints that were done in two weeks. Why can’t do we do in 2011 what we did in 1931? How is it that 80 years later, with space age technology, computer modeling and instantaneous data access– we’re less competent than our ancestors were?
What changed is our society. We have gone from a pragmatic goal-oriented society to a political society governed by ideology. The emphasis has shifted from the results, to how you get them. 90 percent of the effort is directed at the methodology and 10 percent at actually getting it done. Everything is politicized and nothing is accomplished. A project used to begin with a vision and end with a structure. Today it begins with diversity and ends with a bailout.
We’re losing our competence, the same way that the Russians lost theirs. The same way that people living under every ideological tyranny does.
A pragmatic society sets goals and relies on methodologies that are based on the real world. An ideological society however develops its goals and methodologies in relation to its ideology. Imagine two people who are expected to fix a car. Both are given a manual. The pragmatist’s manual has the schematics of an internal combustion engine. The ideologue’s manual is a thousand pages and explores the political implications of the internal combustion engine. After a few hours the pragmatist drives away and the ideologue decides that the car should stay broken until someone designs an ideal engine with no negative political implications. Scale this up, and it’s how we do everything today.
An ideologue believes that the feasibility of a project derives from his ideology. That is why liberals will argue that wars they don’t believe in are unwinnable, but wars they do believe in are winnable. A stimulus package they disagree with is hopeless, but one that meets their political criteria is the only thing standing between us and the abyss. Where people are supposed to reality-test, they have an ideology-test. If it passes political muster– then it must work. If it doesn’t– then it can’t. If a politically approved idea fails, then either it didn’t follow the party line closely enough or it was sabotaged. If a politically disapproved idea succeeds– then it’s a menace and it must be shut down because failure is still imminent.
A Chinese engineer during the 60’s and 70’s was expected to use Mao’s Little Red Book to develop his methodology. A Soviet scientist was supposed to do his research based on general principles laid out by political appointees. There was no reality testing. When ideology finally collided with reality, it was either hushed up or blamed on foreign spies. The United States stayed ahead because its society was less shielded from reality testing. Grandiose failures could still happen, but they were the fault of individuals or groups– not of the central ideology. When the Soviet Union finally became big enough to fail– it collapsed. The United States kept on going. But now we’re caught in the collapse of a liberal ideology that has overtaken the country.
Ideology creates a reality gap as its proponents try to use it as a guideline for getting things done. Some ideologies have bigger reality gaps than others. The more utopian an ideology is– the more the gap yawns. As the gap increases, the proponents go down the rabbit hole and lose touch with reality. They don’t go insane, what they do is begin treating the real world like a puzzle they can solve if they can just get all the pieces to fit. That mindset makes them extremely manipulative and ruthless in pursuit of their goals, but absolutely incapable of understanding why those goals fail.
When given power, they address every setback by trying to expand their sphere of control. If a welfare program is bankrupted by high food prices, then they impose price controls, if the supply of food dries up, they nationalize the agricultural sector, if the harvests fail then they collectivize farmers. Each failure is blamed on outside factors which they strive to control. Once they control all the major internal factors, then they settle down into a vast bureaucracy in which officials report only good news up the ladder. That way there may be no food, but the reports going to the top say that food is plentiful. Eventually hunger or food riots set in and the state collapses.
Policy detached from reality is guaranteed failure. Ideological policies are certain to fail in the long run, and ideological tyrannies insulate themselves from knowledge of those failures. Measuring all success or failure only in light of compliance with the tenets of the ideology makes corrections very hard to apply. How do you fix a problem with broken tools? You can’t. Politicization creates a broken methodology. Ideological methods used to fix problems create more problems– because the real problem is the ideology.
We don’t lack abilities or resources. The damage is cultural. A society overseen by an elite that believes “Everything is Political”, that the ideological compliance of a product or a deed is of primary concern, is hobbled by that way of thinking. An ideological society bleeds wasted energy. Its rulers are more concerned that everyone only do things their way, than that anything actually get done. Multiple overlays of regulations and procedures breed apathy, corruption and defeatism. People and businesses either go rogue or stop trying to anything at all and just hold their hand out and get on the dole.
These conditions create a large number of human sheep and a growing number of human wolves. The society implodes, along with whatever law and order it provided, and the wolves take over. From Utopia to the Jungle in one easy step. Peel away the propaganda and a surprising number of our enemies look exactly like this. And we’re going down the same road. Clinton and Obama are low marks in American history. What follows after them may be worse.
As the society’s morals and codes break down– the human wolves come out to feed. Revolutions are begun by idealists, but completed by tyrants. Brutality and ruthlessness in the name of an ideal are delegated to those who practice it for its own sake. As the Russian Revolution paved the way for Stalin– the chaotic mix of idealism and brutality practiced by liberal elites may open the door for our own monster. The man of vicious cunning that desperate liberals will turn to save their failing system in their darkest hour. The wolf among the fold whose brutality they will mistake for competence, and whose disdain for the individual will be taken for the mark of the true believer. That dark hour has not yet come, but if American liberals are faced with the prospect of absolute failure in the face of economic collapse– there is no telling who may rise in such a desperate moment. Liberals elevated Obama to stop the War on Terror. Whom they would elevate if Wisconsin goes national can only be imagined.
We are at a dangerous intersection now, committed to a course we cannot sustain in any way, shape or form– but one we also cannot break from politically. The elites have warped everything from economics to foreign policy into unreal forms to sustain the illusion of momentum. We are crashing, but they pretend that we are soaring to the skies. The ability to communicate their peril to the general public and devise workable solutions will determine whether we will remain strapped in our seats during the crash or whether we will learn to fly again. Everything from the economy to the Islamic threat hinges on being able to communicate the peril to the public so that the ideological blinders fall away and we become a pragmatic society again, capable of making the decisions we need to survive.