Civilization Is Ending
Commentary by Joe Boudreault
One of the major patterns of history is that civilizations rise and then fall. Whether they take a century or several centuries to do this is irrelevant: great periods of human history are destined to decline after a golden age. In the 21st century, all the signs are pointing to a rapid decline in current civilization. In spite of all the shouts of praise about how modern and progressive man is, and about how quickly we are advancing into this new millennium, we are on a certain downfall. Signs of this decline are all around for anybody who cares to look. The sad thing is, not many people care enough to notice, which in itself is one sign of a descent back into barbarism.
It is perhaps useful to offer up a definition of just what a civilization is in the first place. It can be most simply thought of as the highest peak which human endeavor can reach in a collective sense. The smallest collection of people is the single family unit, which could be three or four persons: the parents and one child, or more. Several families would be a clan or tribe, several similar groups of those become a society, a grouping of like-minded societies could be a nation, and a melding together of many nations could be a commonwealth or a civilization. But not any collectivization of groups, no matter how similar, need be identified as a civilization. The general term of civilization comes from the root civil, and that refers to something common or universal to the groups of those societies. There may be thirty or more nations in Europe, for example, but their close proximity to each other does not designate a civilization.
Generally speaking, civilized peoples are those who are enlightened, sophisticated or cultured in a way different from those surrounding them. They are, in a very real way, a super culture. A very intelligent person can do better than a not-so-intelligent person, but the intelligence that results from a civilized society is far higher than even the brightest person in it. It would be a super-intelligence that creates the super culture, as it were. This all derives itself from both a higher moral judgment of things, and a rule of law. From primitivism and disparity to organization and unity. In the religious sense, this would be represented by a theocratic realm. In the political and secular sense, this would be represented by an empire. And while one may derive its existence from a priest or system of sacred doctrines and the other from a superbly good political leader, the result is a cohesion that binds all the scattered elements of all the societies involved. A civilization is more a melting pot of common goods than it is a mosaic of diverse anomalies. Spain had an empire, and the next-door nations of Portugal and France also had empires, but these three nations did not comprise a single civilization. On the other hand, Rome did. The difference was in how the Romans (or the Greeks, Egyptians or Sumerians) held together their subjugated kingdoms and managed them for centuries.
It can be safely asserted that no people can survive for long without some sort of guideline for the running of society. A dictatorship does this by terror and intimidation. A king does this by the general assent of the populace in giving him the power to rule. If such a king were to behave wisely, like a benevolent dictator, things turn out okay. If a religious ruler has the guidance of an accepted doctrine, things also turn out okay. Civilization results, but it all depends a great deal on the source of the wisdom and the central doctrine. The Greeks used a lot of intellectual reasoning. The Sumerians and Egyptians had a form of benevolence that stemmed from the hand of rulers who thought themselves divine but had a relatively good mixture of decent behavior and fair play. The Romans (and more recently the British and the Americans) had refined the rule of law by exercising military force within weaker societies for their mutual protection. Might makes right. But from where did the morals of such a system come from?
There is a natural law that is common to everyone. A universal perception of right and wrong exists within every being, and the drive for decent civic behavior and the desire of a home, of peace, and of a higher order of things is a familiar face of every society that ever existed. The origin of this natural law is God. It cannot come from evolution for that is a greatly flawed theory. The basis for morality is implanted into each person by God and it is the sole responsibility of the individual to respond to it. First we must recognize God as the supreme lawgiver, and in fact as the only lawgiver. If God is singular and supreme, there can be no wrong with such laws or morality.
Nothing in the world is purely arbitrary. There is design in everything around us and a divine purpose for it. Civilization does not spring out of happenstance and chaos without a reason. Our very nature tells us that there is cause behind the action, and behind the Natural Law that motivates and inspires it there is a divine lawgiver. When it comes together in large measure, we get civilization in one form or another. And when the divine lawgiver is ignored, that same civilization declines.
There are those who argue, of course, that mankind never did become truly civilized; that he merely tuned his barbaric actions in a way that concentrated his desires into a different method of gaining control and power over others. But power is a trademark of civilization and a form of control is needed to maintain it. If a concentration of power makes for a better life for those under the control of that power, then it is worth noting that the exercise of authority makes for civilization, and that civilization is therefore good for us. Law and order is what we all want, and it is what we function best under, and that is the color of civilization. The more common the law is, the greater is the civilizing affect. But there must be room for flexibility. Boredom is the death of society and opportunity for change is the life of it. This is in effect a point of common law to hold the parts together and a counterpoint of innovation to improve them. Think of it like this: a group of people wear similar clothing because they must wear some protection against the elements, but the clothing has different colors and textures because tastes are different. The laws that govern should be minimal in order to guarantee the greatest freedoms and progress to the largest number of peoples.
In the 21st century the fabric of societies is being torn apart everywhere. The finer points of culture and civility are being replaced by militancy, immorality and hedonism. The make-ups of modern cultures are shattering because they are discarding God. I do not mean for a moment that there is no religion, but a cursory look at the world at large shows just how fractured the perception of God is in the eyes of mankind. Man (so he thinks) will evolve and advance by himself. He will reason his way through the future without any deity to guide him. This is strange behavior, because the very reasoning that places man in this godless scenario is the reasoning given to him by his Creator. And when God is thrown out of the picture, the result can only be pandemonium and ruin.
The shattering of the stuff of civilization is easily observed. First goes the respect for the authority that holds it together. Respect (and even belief in) God evaporates. That alone changes the formula to one of failure and eventual doom. As law and order erodes, so does the quality and purpose of life. Those qualities and purposes had their finest realizations when man acknowledged and worshiped God and enjoyed the divine providence that was available and which provided for a healthy, vibrant and balanced existence. We were never designed to live apart from God’s providence, but rebelliousness and wrong-headedness has sidetracked humanity into disaster. There is no respect for the proven guidance of God in our affairs.
Next we see the idea that man is quite okay on his own. However, he has had eight or ten thousand years to prove that he isn’t quite okay. If God is tossed out the door the natural law gets little attention from man and therefore there is no guarantee of societal success. There is secular gain and a modicum of progress but there is no continuing civilization.
Finally, as mankind struggles along in an atheistic atmosphere full of relativistic morals, a sort of world-wide anarchy and confusion becomes the pattern of affairs worldwide. Where family was once the nucleus of harmony in society, individual selfishness is prevalent. Where nationhood at least gave some security, international violence escalates. Where spiritual ideals and morals guided people, now there is only an infuriating kind of secular humanism.
A problem with modern history it that it portrays this past two centuries as the highlight in human accomplishments, and it describes past centuries as either Dark Ages or feudalism. The truth of the matter is that we are no better off in a social way than were those Greeks or Egyptians, and in a spiritual way we are far worse off. Churches and places of worship have only a minimal sway over a tiny portion (if any) of our lives. Governments are all-pervasive and controlling and immorality has been globalized. We are surrounding ourselves by the dazzling equipment of high technology, entertainment, and information, but are killing ourselves with insane lifestyles.
For example, there is rarely any favorable comparison between the values of past civilizations and our own. When high-culture gives a society such things as public works and arts they inspire and engage the populace towards greater things that reflect the uniqueness of our race. Past cultures celebrated greatness in literature, theater, architecture, food and dress, communal thought, music and oratory, medicine and health, and racial fairness. Today we are witnesses to a poor imitation of most of these things. In fact, we seem to look back in awe at the wisdom of Socrates and Galen, of Bacon and Columbus and Shakespeare, of Donne and Schweitzer and Gandhi. Why is it that we seem to be going in reverse while claiming to be so forward-thinking?
Looking at the steady decay of greatness from a Western perspective, it is plain to see that every angle of human life is becoming warped and perverse. The family unit is no longer unified. Humans have finally convinced themselves that single parent households are okay, and further, that same-sex couples are not only acceptable but are professed to be better. Marriage is laughed at or scorned as being too permanent. Clothing is not practical, but cosmetically bizarre. Food is deadly and unimaginable in comparison to the natural products of the good earth. Music is no longer from the mind and spirit but from the groin, a monotonous porridge of abasement and carnal gratuity. Literature is the same, and has lost most of its originality and poetry and has become a subculture of distress and boredom and cheap formulas. Television is a smaller rendition of the aural and visual arts which copy the perversity and dull madness of life, and cinema is a grand scale of both of these combined. Fiction is no longer imaginary or believable. When was the last time you viewed a celebrated piece of art in a museum? It is not worth the visit anymore. With satellites, television, computers, and recording and playing devices of every kind, the in-gathering of human knowledge has reached fever pitch and offered amazingly gigantic volumes of free information, yet we are intellectually bankrupt. The abominations of past centuries are now thought of as enlightened pursuits. Good is bad and bad is good in this dispensation where the handbook of God, the Bible, will soon be thought of as hate literature.
Some specific examples, again from a Western perspective, are needed here, for those of you who think that this is unrealistic pessimism. There was a time when Paradise Lost and Pilgrim’s Progress were considered to be classic morality plays with a lot to teach us. Today, Harry Potter and Highlander and South Park have replaced them. Vivaldi, Mozart and Beethoven gave us the pure genius of stirring music for the whole body, but today’s noise which passes for music is the putrid fare of country music, rap and hip-hop, and anguished pop filled with darkness, lawlessness, and the repetitive aimlessness of lust and rebellion. Painters and sculptors of ages past gave renditions of the human condition that awed us (“a picture is worth a thousand words”), but modern art is more often a messy splatter of indecipherable strokes or lumps (ie Picasso, Salvador Dali, Alexander Calder) and words are unable to express the futility of it all. Diets are overwhelmed by messy globs of fats, salts and sugars, with their associated diseases. Sports such as the ancient Olympic Games, team sports of the earlier 20th century, and individual physical acrobatics all gave us shining examples of healthy youth and strength and fellowship, where practical activities like running, swimming, and work were put to the test. Now, extreme sports (Survivor, Fear Factor, The Amazing Race) strain the credibility and the mental faculties of a spectator for want of any sense of application and plain good taste. The media of film has gone from the hypnotizing power of accurate portraiture into the numbing caricature of obscenely expensive cartoons. Culture was once something that was sophisticated and poignant, as in a Tennyson poem; now we see our degeneracy reflected in the paling face of a Michael Jackson, cheered on by fans just as translucent. Intelligence is being replaced by pleasure seeking and self-indulgence. The very perception of this decline is going out the window with the decline itself because now the blind are leading the blind.
This can all be said to be an outward working of personal expression versus personal restraint. Hedonism destroyed the Greek civilization; amorality and selfish greed are likewise destroying what we have. Children once looked up to parents and elders; now, the older generation defers to the angst of the younger set. The fable of The Road Warrior and Blade Runner is becoming a reality all too soon.
Healthy foods are being replaced by drugs and religious morals are being replaced by the occult. Occult means shaded or darkened, and if you live mostly in the dark, I suppose you would eagerly grasp for things that promise supernatural aids, even if that ‘aid’ is devilish. The devil cares not what you think of him, or even if you don’t believe in him, for he is the Great Deceiver and that is the greatest deceit of them all, that he ‘doesn’t exist’. The Magics are not unnecessarily false; our own wishful thinking can poison our views of reality. Think about the popularity of UFOs, the paranormal, spirit channeling, and ghosts of every denomination.
Clear and proper language usage is being replaced by “politically correct” expression. If ever there was something incorrect, it is this fable. A salesman or spokesman or foreman can no longer be tolerated, they say. It is person, not a gender-correct term that must be accepted. But this idiocy of political correctness goes even further: every day I see terrorists referred to as insurgents, and sexual deviants referred to as homosexuals. They are more acceptable and tolerable (though nonetheless aberrant) in those ‘correct’ terms! It is all a creepy fulfillment of George Orwell’s newspeak. But then, imagery is overtaking words in our society; pictures appeal to emotions, but mere words appeal to intellect and reason. Orwell himself lamented the decline of language in his 1946 essay “Politics and the English Language”. And as Australian writer Philip Atkinson correctly pointed out (re Orwell) there is an increase in the use of phrases that are not needed in communication, a “deliberate use of more words than are necessary. Such as invoking at this moment in time instead of now, or the state of the art instead of latest, and the addition of surplus words such as converting a riot into a riot situation and opportunity into a window of opportunity”. This fancy extra verbiage may sound correct but is in fact a decline in clear reasoning.
Regarding the fact that the success of the family unit is critical to the success of any civilization, one has to ask whether any other means is possible to replace the failing family unit. The fact is that man has tried just about everything else possible in regards to this, and all efforts have so far been dismal. If there is a way to do this (rescue the family again) that we don’t know about, perhaps it’s in our future and we will find it. But it’s also possible that no other way can be found.
The perfect unit of human living has already been created, tried, and proven, and it is the father/mother/child unit. That institute was given to us by God. There are, of course, those critics who question why such a God (and not man himself) might have the only way that is perfect or that works at all. Such questioning represents a serious doubt in the trustworthiness God, but that is a doubt which is easily put to rest. You only have to look at any Bible prophecy which has come to pass to see that God knows what He is about and what is yet to happen. The Old Testament has numerous prophecies which have been filled and a few more just now being fulfilled. Their accuracy is always one hundred percent, a score only God can attain. So the God of the Bible is the true God.
The family unit which God created was the only unit that could succeed. And that unit was a patriarchal one, not a matriarchal one. That is, it was the family in which the man was the dominant leader which gave rise to all of the improvements that brought humanity out of tribalism and primitive societies into modern civilization. Improvements such as agriculture, mining, domestic animal husbandry, cities and all the forms of technology we are familiar with. By comparison, matriarchal societies remained in a Stone Age. Thus it is that sociologist Charles E. Corry argues that the erosion of patriarchal families, not just any family unit, is the main cause that is leading us into the fall (once again) of civilization. In agreeing with him, I do not mean that females are inferior, but that each has a unique ability: the male to build, provide for, and protect the family, the woman to bear children and care for them. Allow me to quote the famous line by Camille Paglia who said that “if we had waited for women to invent civilization we should still be living in grass huts.” On the flipside it should be further observed, however, as Kenneth Minogue quips, that if we had waited for men (rather than women) to make life comfortable we should still be living in pigsties.
Because civilizations decline with a communal memory loss, nothing can be done to stop the reversal of morality. I was once taught about negative feedback when I studied electronics. This is a loop of energy which causes a downward swing in empathy in the system. The very same phenomenon occurs in declining civilizations. Those of us who notice the changes taking place can only hang on to our morals and try to draw as many as we can into our relatively better sphere of influence, and try and enjoy what is left of civilization.
But make no mistake; the new barbarians are now at the gates of western civilization. Multiculturalism in the West has opened the doors for them, and the growing hordes within are waiting with open arms for them. It is more than just the West; the global texture that civilization came so near to achieving is rapidly fracturing everywhere. It is not too difficult to see that the priorities, habits, preferences and desires of moral chaos are bridging the gaps across those gates. September 11, 2001 was not exactly a broken gate but it was a significant sign of the barbarians resolve.