Sometime during the last half-century, someone stole our culture.
I was born in 1965… but I was born late into a family rooted in the older, more traditional values and ways of life. My parents were both members of the “Greatest Generation”; my father a decorated combat veteran of World War Two, my mother a Methodist minister’s daughter, both of them survivors of the Great Depression. Both my brothers were born in the early 1950s.
When I was born, the population of the planet was only around 2 billion; we were locked in a Cold War with the Soviet Union, but Vietnam still looked hopeful; the ironically-named “Summer of Love” had not yet happened; and feminism was still mostly concerned with equal pay for equal work. Racial strife existed, but it was something you heard about at a distance – in part because the U.S. was still about 90% European.
My father worked long, hard hours, but the flip-side was that he made enough that my mother did not have to work at all, and could be a full-time wife and mother; we lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. We were not rich, but we never lacked anything essential, either, and could go on nice vacations and get nice gifts on birthdays and at Christmas. We were raised with sold, traditional, Christian values; and most of those I came into contact with were much the same.
Unfortunately, my life ever since has been a witness to a long downhill slide… perhaps, though I hope not, a death-spiral:
“Sometime during the last half-century, someone stole our culture. Just 50 years ago, in the 1950s, America was a great place. It was safe. It was decent. Children got good educations in the public schools. Even blue-collar fathers brought home middle-class incomes, so moms could stay home with the kids. Television shows reflected sound, traditional values.
“Where did it all go? How did that America become the sleazy, decadent place we live in today – so different that those who grew up prior to the ’60s feel like it’s a foreign country? Did it just “happen”? […]
“What happened, in short, is that America’s traditional culture, which had grown up over generations from our Western, Judeo-Christian roots, was swept aside by an ideology. We know that ideology best as “political correctness” or “multi-culturalism.” It really is cultural Marxism, Marxism translated from economic into cultural terms in an effort that goes back not to the 1960s, but to World War I. Incredible as it may seem, just as the old economic Marxism of the Soviet Union has faded away, a new cultural Marxism has become the ruling ideology of America’s elites. The No. 1 goal of that cultural Marxism, since its creation, has been the destruction of Western culture and the Christian religion.”
This essay is a long but detailed exploration of how that sad situation came to be. Anyone who doubts that there is such a thing as “cultural Marxism,” or who wants to know how it managed to gain such dominance, owes it to themselves to read this! Even if you don’t need convincing, it’s still helpful to know the history.
But William S. Lind, author of this piece, doesn’t just leave it there, fortunately. While he does not go into the detail the subject deserves (and about which, admittedly, books could be written), he does suggest appropriate countermeasures:
“We can choose between two strategies. The first is to try to retake the existing institutions – the public schools, the universities, the media, the entertainment industry and most of the mainline churches – from the cultural Marxists. They expect us to try to do that, they are ready for it, and we would find ourselves, with but small voice and few resources compared to theirs, making a frontal assault against prepared defensive positions. Any soldier can tell you what that almost always leads to: defeat.
“There is another, more promising strategy. We can separate ourselves and our families from the institutions the cultural Marxists control and build new institutions for ourselves, institutions that reflect and will help us recover our traditional Western culture.”
I am reminded of the strategy of Celtic monastics in the early Middle Ages, as they began to venture forth from their monasteries in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales into lands that had either been taken over by non-Christian barbarians at the fall of Rome, or in some cases had never known Christianity:
They would come into an area and build a small community, a small monastery. Not much: just a small chapel, surrounded by huts for the monks to live in. And then they would go about their lives – neither consciously seeking to proselytize, nor yet to separate themselves from the larger community. They just lived a Christian life, modeling their faith in the way they lived their lives.
And sooner or later, people started to get interested. To ask questions, to engage with the monks. And in many cases, to end up deciding that they were onto something, that they had something worth emulating… and they emulated it, becoming Christians themselves.
And this is how, in the words of author and historian Thomas Cahill, the Irish saved civilization. Call it, not the “Benedict option,” necessarily – though that approach has much to commend it – but the “Columba option,” the “Cuthbert option,” the “Aidan option”: the Celtic option.
Can we do the same? Can we emulate these monks, and their patience, dedication, and persistence?
Can we afford not to?