Odds and Ends

No podcast this week. I have been taking care of a sick child. I know people seem to say this every year, but it feels like the cold and flu are extra bad this season. In any case, please listen and subscribe to the first three episodes on iTunes. I’ll have episode 4 ready next week.

I have acquired some reading material to prepare for the next few posts and podcasts, however:

IMG_5693

Something to watch: The Missouri legislature is looking to pass a law that would prevent enforcement of federal gun control laws that are deemed unconstitutional by Missouri. This is an interesting step in the decline and fall of America – states reclaiming their sovereign powers from an out-of-control federal bureaucracy. Progressive states are already doing this with sanctuary cities for illegal aliens as well as marijuana legalization. Now conservatives are getting into the game. In my former home state of Washington, rural county sheriffs are standing up against the progressive state government’s attempts to regulate guns out of existence. This is a good sign. If states can reclaim their sovereignty then we might well pull off a peaceful separation. I’ll have more to say on this in a future post.

The Jussie Smollett affair is a case study in American decline. A black homosexual actor who is friends with the Obama family is able to fake a hate crime, receive support from celebrities and politicians, be indicted, and then walk away Scot free. This is the sort of thing that is commonplace in third-world countries. Justice is not blind, but depends on who you know. One of the hallmarks of the English common law was the fact that nobody, not even the king, stood above the law. Yet in America today politically-connected people get away with high crimes while your average Joe is prosecuted with prejudice for lesser things. Rule of law is replaced by anarcho-tyranny.

Quotes from Submission

I wrote about Michel Houellebecq’s satirical novel “Submission” in my last post. I clipped some quotes from the book that I thought illustrated the decline of Christendom and western civilization quite well.

On secularism:

“The fact is, most people live their lives without worrying too much about these supposedly philosophical questions. They think about them only when they’re facing some kind of tragedy – a serious illness, the death of a loved one. At least, that’s how it is in the West; in the rest of the world people die and kill in the name of these very questions, they wage bloody wars over them, and they have since the dawn of time. These metaphysical questions are exactly what men fight over, not market shares or who gets to hunt where. Even in the West, atheism has no solid basis.”

On the post-Christian west:

“Without Christianity, the European nations had become bodies without souls – zombies. The question was, could Christianity be revived? I thought so. I thought so for several years – with growing doubts. As time went on, I subscribed more and more to Toynbee’s idea that civilizations die not by murder but by suicide.”

On the way secular progressivism attacked the Church:

“Thanks to the simpering seductions and the lewd enticements of the progressives, the Church had lost its ability to oppose moral decadence, to renounce homosexual marriage, abortion rights, and women in the workplace. The facts were plain: Europe had reached a point of such putrid decomposition that it could no longer save itself, any more than fifth-century Rome could have done.”

Finally, on where to go now that western civilization has been broken:

“There is no Israel for me.”

Read the book. You won’t regret it. Let it be a reminder of what we have lost and a warning of where we are headed if we don’t begin rebuilding today.

The Ennui of a Dying Civilization

Yesterday there was a terrorist attack on a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. The perpetrator, according to his own manifesto, was a white nationalist, possibly socialist, maybe even an eco-terrorist, depending on how much of the manifesto is true and how much is simply ironic meming. As usual, the media is following its normal playbook of attacking white people, Christians, and guns in response to the shooting. When Muslim terrorists attack, the playbook is instead to focus on backlash, mental illness, and how the attacker was a “lone wolf” with no connection to any group or ideology. It is always so predictable.

This week I quickly read “Submission,” Michel Houellebecq’s novel about a peaceful Islamic takeover of France in 2022. Written in 2015, the book makes several interesting predictions about the direction of French and European society. At one point early in the novel, characters fear that the most extreme elements of the National Front are trying to instigate a civil war, confident that victory is more likely the sooner the war begins. As I read the news about the New Zealand mosque shooter and his manifesto I could not help but be reminded of this. It seems like extremists on both sides of the national issue are eager for war with the other, as well as for the opportunity to destroy the moderates on their own sides.

In the novel, the Islamic takeover itself does not happen through force, but through politics. A moderate Muslim party narrowly takes second place in the primary elections, behind Marine le Pen’s National Front, and fear of a nationalist victory leads the Socialists and moderate conservatives to support the Muslims, leading them to victory. Polygamy and hijabs are encouraged while Middle Eastern princes pour millions of dollars into the newly-islamized national universities. Elite bureaucrats convert to Islam in order to enjoy the benefits of the new regime. Houellebecq does a great job of presenting early 21st century Europe as a dying culture, ripe for assimilation into a superior Islamic one.

The main character is a microcosm of the decline of European Christendom. Having devoted his life to a study of the 19th century French author J.K. Huysmans, Francois finds himself absolutely bored with life. Unmarried, he goes from one unfulfilling relationship to another, with his only satisfaction being food and drink. He has no friends, is estranged from his family, and has nothing to live for. Several times throughout the novel he contemplates suicide. He thinks about his hero, Huysmans, and how he converted to Catholicism near the end of his life after a religious experience at a monastery. Francois attempts to replicate the experience himself, but fails, unable to grasp the fleeting sensation of the mystical and the eternal. In the end, he chooses to follow the crowd and convert to Islam. Conversion promises him a fulfilling job in the only field he knows, as well beautiful young wives without having to worry about any of the nihilist modern dating rituals.

I believe that Houellebecq accurately identifies the sickness that has infected western civilization. Once secular rationalism banished Christianity from the public square there was nothing to replace it. Humanism and atheism are not ideologies that make life worth living; rather they are the absence of life. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the successor to Christianity will not be an atheist utopia like Star Trek but either anarchic paganism or militant Islam.

There was a time when Christians were confident in their beliefs and their culture. Explorers and missionaries traveled the world with support from the Christian kingdoms of Europe, spreading the gospel and western civilization across the farthest seas. Craftsmen and their wealthy patrons spent time and money on cathedrals and other monuments to the glory of God. Today, however, churches are being torn down, or converted for secular uses. The great cathedrals of Europe are little more than tourist attractions. The home church of George Washington, the father of our country, is now run by lesbian ministers who find his biography “problematic”.

Islam, on the other hand, is expanding, as it has been for nearly fifteen hundred years. It was defeated by Charles Martel at Tours, and stopped at the gates of Vienna, but it never gave up. New mosques are being built in France, Britain, the US, and apparently New Zealand, even in a city called “Christchurch”. Saudi Arabia uses its massive oil profits to fund Islamic propaganda and education throughout the west. International organizations such as CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood advance the cause of Islam in Europe and America. One cannot necessarily blame them for doing so, however. It is up to the Christian West to defend itself, as it did at Tours, Vienna, and countless other places. If western civilization is lost in the end, it will have been through suicide.

There is an old saying that a liberal is someone so open-minded that he won’t take his own side in an argument. Western civilization has become so open-minded that it cannot conceive of defending itself against invasion, subversion, and destruction. Media, academia, and politics are all united in proclaiming that diversity is our strength, that we must become more multi-cultural, and that the diminishing of Christianity and western tradition is a good thing. Questioning this propaganda gets you labeled a racist bigot, shamed, and even censored. We do not have the confidence in our beliefs and traditions to defend them from destruction.

What are we doing instead? We spend countless hours watching TV, sports, and playing games. Christian parents send their children to public schools assuming they will turn out just fine despite thirteen years of constant propaganda. We are not building or expanding like we once did. Megachurches look more like prisons than cathedrals, as modern architecture seems designed to instill despair rather than awe. Houellbecq’s portrait of aimless people doing things that bring them no lasting pleasure for no real reason is spot on. Christendom is not dying in a blaze of glory, but in a long protracted spell of ennui.

Where is the Charles Martel who will fight to keep Islam from overrunning our lands? Where is the Johann Sebastian Bach or the Michelangelo who will create great music and art for the glory of God? Where is the Christopher Columbus who will sail into the unknown carrying the banner of western civilization? Where is the George Whitefield, the Jonathan Edwards, or even the Billy Graham who will fearlessly proclaim the Gospel of Christ? Take a look around you and see a dying civilization for what it is. Stop pretending that everything will simply be ok and begin taking the necessary steps for rebuilding civilization, starting with yourself and your family. The Reconquest of Spain began with the tiny Kingdom of Asturias against the mighty Muslim Umayyads. The spread of Christianity itself began with twelve men hiding in Jerusalem. As long as the knowledge and traditions of Christendom exist in the hearts of men then it can be reclaimed. As long as the Great Books of western civilization are on a shelf for your children to read then it can be rebuilt.

The decline and fall of the United States seems inevitable, but it need not be the end of our culture. Don’t let the heritage of your fathers sink further into the swamp of ennui. You are the heir of the greatest civilization that the world has ever seen; live in such a way that your great-grandchildren can inherit it too.

Episode 1: The Last Days of the American Republic

I am proud to present the first episode of this blog’s companion podcast. I still had a slightly stuffy nose but I think it came out all right. In this episode I go over the basics of why I believe that the US is in its decline phase. In future episodes I will look at more specific topics that I have broached on the blog.

You can find new episodes here at declineandfall.blog as well as on iTunes. If you enjoy the podcast, please leave a review on iTunes.

Learning from History: The Fall of the Hapsburgs

While not as historically glamorous as its sequel, the First World War marks an important time in world history. Five great European empires entered the war, each one believing that the war would leave them stronger. When the dust settled, four were wiped off the map. We can draw many lessons about the decline and fall of great civilizations from this period, but today I would like to look specifically at the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Austria-Hungary was the final evolution of a political structure that had existed for nearly a thousand years. In 962, German King Otto was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope, creating a new empire that drew upon the ancient authority and majesty of Rome. Unlike most empires, however, the Holy Roman Empire was more of a loose confederation of German kingdoms than a single united government, hence Voltaire’s quip that it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. In the early 1400s the imperial crown was in the hands of the Hapsburg family of Austria, who would continue to hold it with a few short breaks until the dissolution of the Empire by Napoleon in 1806. By that time, the Hapsburgs had added the kingdoms of Bohemia, Hungary, Serbia, and Croatia to their holdings, as well as other non-German territory in eastern Europe. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved, a new Austrian Empire took its place, with its center of gravity closer to the Balkans than to Germany. The Kingdom of Hungary achieved equal status in 1867, hence the dual title.

The Hapsburg family now ruled a large multi-ethnic empire from their court in Vienna. Of the empires that took part in World War I, Austria-Hungary shares the most similarities with the current United States. The German Empire, for example, was created by Otto van Bismarck in the late 1800s to be a unified German state that represented all the German-speaking peoples of Europe (Austria excepted). On the other hand, Austria-Hungary was a union of several different ethnic groups, each with their own cultures, traditions, faiths, languages, and laws. 18-year-old Franz Joseph came to power in the wake of the revolutions of 1848 ruling over Germans, Italians, Slavs, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, and more. The autocratic emperor had his hands full balancing the conflicting demands of off these distinct nationalities.

Ruling a multi-ethnic empire is difficult. Despite what modern globalists like to say, people are different. Different ethnic groups have different histories, traditions, languages, beliefs, and desires. This is the basis of self-determination: that different people who wish to live in different ways should rule themselves. That is the entire point of having separate countries. Modern globalists, however, see people not as individuals that are part of unique cultures, but as interchangeable cogs in a great machine. They seek to erase borders and countries, ruling the world from an ivory tower. The fate of the Hapsburg Empire is a lesson in why this simply does not work. The increasing diversity of the United States today is an order of magnitude greater than that of the Hapsburg Empire. If there are differences between Slavs, Germans, Hungarians, and Czechs, then what of Americans who are descended from Britain, Africa, and China? It was the 20th century conceit that immigrants assimilate into a single American culture, but the existence of identity politics today belies that assertion. Each minority ethnic group seeks to direct the government in order to benefit their own people. When the desires of different ethnic groups conflict, then resentment grows.

Austria-Hungary was the primary instigator of World War I. The heir to the imperial throne had been assassinated by a Serbian terrorist and Austria decided to use the incident as an opportunity to gain concessions from Serbia. Franz Joseph was still emperor, but now he was an old man, and was perhaps unaware of how much the world had changed since his accession in 1848. His court seemed to believe that a quick war was possible in which Serbia would be forced to give up territory and rights, and perhaps even be annexed into the Empire. Yet this was not to be. The entangling alliances of Europe caused a chain reaction which led to the world war, while the new technology of the 20th century ensured that the war would kill many millions of people. The Austro-Hungarian army found itself overmatched in technology, tactics, and leadership. As subjects of the Empire, many ethnic Slavs were forced to fight their Serbian cousins, as well as various Slavic peoples in service of the Russian army. Desertion and defection were problems on this front. Patriotism has more to do with blood and heritage than we might like to think.

What was once the Empire has been divided numerous times over the last century. In the aftermath of World War I, the victorious powers preached self-determination as a guiding factor in how they drew the new maps of Europe. This was partially a way of ensuring that the defeated empires would never again grow powerful enough to challenge the world order. Many of the different ethnic groups of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were allowed to have their own nation-states. (This is not to say that the British and French were entirely altruistic in their support of self-determination, as the way they drew new maps of the Middle East demonstrates.) Adolf Hitler tried to reverse this partition, at least with regards to the German-speaking peoples now split between various countries, but the redrawing of maps continued after World War II. The process of self-determination gained even more steam when the Soviet Union (itself a large multi-ethnic empire) fell in 1991.

The early 1990s saw a flurry of new countries being created in the land of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. Czechoslovakia, which had been ruled by the Hapsburgs as part of the Kingdom of Bohemia, split into Czechia and Slovakia, giving self-rule to both of those nations. Yugoslavia broke apart into Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia, and the autonomous region of Kosovo. The Balkan region has always been a flashpoint for ethnic tension, having been ruled over the last thousand years by the Greek-speaking Byzantines, the Muslim Turks, and the German-speaking Hapsburgs, not to mention the Nazis and Soviets in the 20th century. The story of the last two decades has been the realization of these various ethnic groups that are better off ruling themselves than being subject to a single government. Even as borders are redrawn, ethnic tension continues to erupt in violence. Should ethnic Bosnians who live within Croatian borders be allowed self-rule, or must they pack up their belongings and move to Bosnia? What about ethnic Serbs who live in Bosnian territory? The issues we face today have their roots in many centuries of history.

Is Balkanization the fate that awaits the United States of America? Our country was already culturally diverse before the migration explosion of the last fifty years. The cultural and economic differences that led to the US Civil War are dwarfed by the growing divergence in our society today. When we have some regions that are majority African-American, others a majority Hispanic, and still others a majority Muslim, then how do we run the country? We have reached a point where minority groups no longer see any reason to live under white leadership – see the current crop of Democrats planning to run for president next year as evidence of that. Because of the massive expansion of the federal government, it is rational for each group to try and control the government from the top. The only workable way forward would be the sort of extreme federalism that characterized the country at its founding, but I fear we are past the point of no return.

Some cultures have contradictory and incompatible values. The Muslims of Saudi Arabia desire to order their society in a very different way than the Christians of Hungary, and both are different than Communist China, whose collectivist nature can be seen in the philosophy of Confucius more than two thousand years ago. It was hard enough to force together diverse cultures underneath the autocratic Hapsburgs. It is even more difficult to force diverse cultures together in a democratic republic where the people ostensibly have a direct hand in their own governance. Under the absolute rule of the Hapsburgs, Bohemians, Slavs, Hungarians, Croats, Poles, and the rest were equally subject to their German overlords. The idea of one of these groups replacing the emperor in Austria with their one of their own was simply not possible. Yet in a democratic republic, it is not only possible but encouraged. If the Somali community in Minnesota is numerous enough, they can elect a Somali representative to Congress. If the Hispanic population of California and Texas grows large enough, then we might see a Hispanic president soon. This is not to say that there is anything inherently wrong with each ethnic group being represented by their own, simply that it would be foolish to assume that they have the same values and traditions as the posterity of America’s founding fathers. If, as globalist media declares, it is impossible for a white man to properly represent a constituency of African-Americans, does that not imply that the reverse is also true?

Globalist media repeats the mantra “Diversity is our strength” over and over in a drumbeat of propaganda. Children are taught this phrase from preschool, and by the time they are grown they have completely internalized it without really understanding why it is or is not true. Questioning this phrase gets you labeled a racist bigot, with the deplatforming and blacklisting that follows. Yet history shows that diversity is not a strength. We can appreciate diversity, enjoying the art, music, traditions, and heritage of different cultures in different countries. But trying to create a single state out of many nations is doomed to failure, as the fall of Hapsburg Austria shows. When incompatible cultures are forced together the result is mistrust and misunderstanding. While a centralized world government might be in the interest of the globalists, it is not the best way to preserve unique cultures. The fate of the Hapsburgs is the fate of all globalist leaders who try to erase national borders, and it will likely be the fate of the United States of America as well.