What’s Wrong with the World

The men signed of the cross of Christ go gaily in the dark.


What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Happy Independence? Day

O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

It is somewhat ironic that in this bicentennial year of the start of the War of 1812, upon whose conclusion the U.S. finally could claim a safe and secure independence from Great Britain, we face a future that seems to creep ever closer to the socialist, petty tyranny that exists in Britain now. My neighborhood Independence Day parade kicks off this morning with the theme of “Let Freedom Ring” – I don’t think it is an exaggeration to wonder if the bells of freedom will ring just a bit softer today after last week’s Supreme Court ruling or even to wonder, as Francis Scott Key did 200 years ago after the Battle of Fort McHenry, if the star-spangled banner still waves over the land of the free and brave. Only time will tell.

Comments (20)

Jeff, that's a very good question. I would follow it up with a couple more.

Many of us here are proud to be American, and are proud of what our country represents. But if things continue with the trends of the past 4 years, with Obamacare and the onslaught against the consciences of religious Americans, how long will it be before those who want to be proud of America will no longer be able to? How many ways does it take for America to abandon right order, truth, justice, and common sense before those whom we naturally expect to be her most forthright defenders become, instead, apologetic, sorry, embarrassed, and ashamed of America? And if that happens, is there any reasonable hope that America can be kept from an outright tyranny, despotism, or anarchy? If those who are the bedrock mainstays of order and principled preservation of America's root strengths give up, how long will it take for those who care nothing for America to turn her into Robespierre's reign of terror?

It's still flying over the grave of my next-door neighbor, who served with honor in our nation's second world war.

Just to be a little controversial, it's my considered opinion that it's partly because we honor in America what it was meant to be and things like the genius of its intended structure and freedoms that our patriotism continues. Now one may understandably call that a reconstructive patriotism or a nostalgic patriotism or a counterrevolutionary patriotism. But it's patriotism nonetheless. And it is partly constituted by a love of ideas and ideals.

As a former Marine but now an armchair classicist knowing how the so-called "Enlightenment" screwed everything up, I hate this country with a passion. Any traditional Catholic has to uphold the Old Order and can't abide with any of this nihilistic Novus Ordo garbage.

The Pope did not go far enough in condemning Americanism. Americanism is a product of Judeo-Masonic-Bolshevism and needs to be on the trash heap of history. No Catholic can uphold a Masonic creation nor anything of the so-called "Enlightenment", almost all of the thinkers were Atheists, the rest deists that denied the truth of the Trinity.

America is Sodom and Gomorrah redux. It is a vulgar, vain, cesspool.

Well, let's just be thankful that commentator P.A. is only an armchair classicist. The classics need actual academics with those ideas like a hole in the head.

Please Anon,

I'm going to have to disagree with you in the strongest terms possible. America, as it was conceived and throughout its wonderful history, has much that traditional Catholics can love and be proud of. Many so-called Catholic countries boast all sorts of social ills and evils that are even worse than America's.

Indeed, Maryland's Catholics have a illustrious and long history that attests to their strong roots in this country. It is also silly to lump the Masons in with "Judeo-Bolshevism", whatever that may be, given it didn't exist until the 19th Century.

I was hoping for more comments on my post but not of this variety!

No need to resort to schemes of human depravity. This was all a predictable response to the successes of medicine. Problem is, it isn't as successful as we think. It's all a failure of the "blue model" Walter Russell Mead speaks of, though I don't recall that he included our medical professionals. But the AMA doesn't have our interests in mind. Not least because they are highly invested in medicalizing many or most behaviors. The church should have a stronger view on this since it cuts to the core of the Christian understanding of the world and man.



I hope we win this one, but the truth is it would be far better if more people took a critical eye towards medicine instead of letting doctors tell us what is good for us. They aren't unbiased.

America isn't Sodom and Gomorrah redux. Far from it; but like every other part of Western civilization, it's suffering from a decay (if not a collapse) of moral standards.

To escape from the criminal folly, political corruption, and licentiousness which has undermined British society for many years, I used to think about emigrating. But now that every place, at least in the English speaking world, is virtually the same, where could I go?

Alex: Why don't you look into the history of the phenomenon you describe? If not how do you know your sentiments are a symptom of a moral decline? You don't. You can't. Continual vague and unsupported assertions just like this drive me to study it. Here's an interesting book that might whet your appetite for what happened, or what is often thought to have happened, in England. "The Unquiet Western Front: Britain's Role in Literature and History". Iikewise in the 16th century people thought nature itself was in decline, and that was the dark side to the idea that "we stand on the shoulders of giants". It was a reverse evolutionary scheme that Bloom hinted at in his popular books and may have grounded his anti-bourgeois understandings.

Mark: You're right. The sentiments I expressed above are vague if not banal. However, to post a detailed description and reasoned discussion of 'What's wrong with Britain' would require a substantial essay - which nobody here would read. And why should they?

Within the limitations of a brief blog comment, all I can say is that within my lifetime Britain has changed fundamentally. Public institutions once renowned for their probity are mocked for their inefficiency and scandalous management. The moral authority of the established church, never very influential among the multitude, is now virtually non-existent. At the level of popular culture, these islands are entertained by relentless meretricious and vulgar pantomimes. (Tune into BBC radio and/or television and discover how long you can endure them without switching off in disgust.)

I've travelled widely in Europe and visited the United States three times (but not since 9/11), and much of what I see and hear about are the same phenomena that appall me at home. That's why I feel there's nowhere I could emigrate to - even if I had the opportunity. Superficially everything looks different abroad, but beneath the surface of Western societies the same rot has set in.

I wasn't questioning whether Britain has changed. It clearly has and or for the better in my opinion for reasons we'd likely agree on. Nor would I argue against the idea that the US shows signs of heading down the same path. It clearly does (I read articles wriiten by onservative Brits saying the same all the time), though I am not persuaded yet we will continue to do so for reasons I won't get into here. But my most recent comment above was not about any of that. It was about the how and why of the decline in Britain, or in the US to the extent that one believe it true or soon to be true. My point is that without a reasonably informed view on that, right or wrong, it isn't at all clear to me that the conservative critique is actually helpful at all. The fact is that there have been worrisome trends in the US for decades. What is the old saying that "professionals talk logistics"? The devil is in the details.

But in the context of this thread, my sense is that there are great signs of resistance in America, and there are signs that revolutionary changes are beginning to erode the force of these trends.
The Democrats themselves said while trying to pass Obamacare that it was "now or never". That was exactly right. If they didn't do it then it would never have happened in the future because time is not on their side. This isn't 40s Britain, nor an earlier world. We are witnessing a world where the power of middlemen to make big deals among themselves and hand out the scraps to the actual consumers is crumbling in almost every area of life. We are in a period of great hange not unlike past times. Obamacare was the last chance to maintain and expand a failing system. The attempt will fail. And in the face of the aforementioned changes our government has attempted a scheme of a complexity and scale never before attempted in history. Im always amused by the fact that people are unaware that US has 11 times the population of Canada (and growing) and they seem shocked when I point out why a system that works as well as Canada has no prayer of working here, and Americas for all there faults won't accept this failure.

It was about the how and why of the decline in Britain, or in the US to the extent that one believe it true or soon to be true.

What's wrong in contemporary Britain (and arguably everywhere else in the Western world) could be traced back to an empirical evaluation of the universe which we associate with the agenda of thinkers during the Age of Enlightenment. So there's a period of over two hundred years of intellectual history which we need to study and understand before making generalisations about the present decay of our civilization. Most people of a conservative disposition, including me, tend to deplore this decline (and assume the truth of it) rather than try to explain it.

You appear to be optimistic about America's future, and believe that so-called Obamacare is in some sense a last throw of the dice. Maybe in the ruling of Justice Roberts a turning point has been reached in the United States and resistance to what Americans call 'liberalism' will grow. I hope you're right.

Over here, I see no grounds for such optimism.

It is my judgement that one's optimism or pessimism (assuming political agreement such as in an intramural Conservative debate on it) turns in large measure on views of the past. If you read the book on Britain and WWI I referenced above you'll find it interesting that the whole narrative of the causes of the decline of Britain has no actual currency among credible scholars. It is a romantic thing entirely. Now Britaon did decline, but not then or for the reason widely believed. We have romantic views on this side of the pond too.

The other major factor is ones view on how changes come about. As in military history, many times it isn't the will of mankind that was decisive in certain events. Voluntarism corrupts the analysis. At the end of the day my optimism isn't based on Amy idea that the American character is any better than the Brits or anyone else. If we make it past the hurdles that Britain didn't it will be because of God's providence. If we do it will be because God is still smiling on us. We dont deserve it but we never did. Like i daid, voluntarism is deadly. Anyway, the great changes in the business world we are seeing are part of the means of God's providence.

You could be right in the end. I'm not presuming God's favor, just seeing how little we've deserved it in the past and seeing hopeful signs. But my optimism that the yanks will correct for past excesses is shared by the British historian Paul Johnson FWIW. For exactly the same reasons I'd imagine. If you really want to know the source of my optimism, you could probaby find the reasons explained via Johnson.

But my optimism that the yanks will correct for past excesses is shared by the British historian Paul Johnson.
I have read Paul Johnson's excellent book, A History of the American People. As you no doubt know, Johnson is pro-American, an advocate of capitalism, and a Christian - all of which tend to cancel his credibility in the minds of British intellectuals.

Johnson's appreciation of the American genius and values which have guided the nation through many vicissitudes is summed up in the book's final paragraph, from which I quote:

"It is appropriate to end this history of the American people on a note of success, because the story of America is essentially one of difficulties being overcome by intelligence and skill, by faith and strength of purpose, and by courage and persistence. America today with its 260 million people, its splendid cities, its vast wealth, and its unrivaled power, is a human achievement without parallel. That achievement - the transformation of a mostly uninhabited wilderness into the supreme national artifact of history - did not come without heroic sacrifice and great sufferings stoically endured, many costly failures, huge disappointments, defeats and tragedies......But Americans do not believe that anything in this world is beyond human capacity to soar to and dominate. They will not give up."

Those quite noble sentences were first published in 1997.

The question now is whether the problem solving capacities and virtues of the American people can pull the republic out of an apparent decline - which is largely a moral condition whatever the complexity of its causes. Were he to revise his history, I imagine that Johnson might give many 'unromantic' reasons for continuing to be optimistic about the future of the United States.

"his anti-bourgeois understandings"

Is it not possible that some elements of bourgeois society ARE open to criticism, and that it is those elements, not "middle class values" as a whole, that are being rejected by conservative critics? Seems to me that the bourgeois mentality is a decidedly mixed bag, and if one shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater, neither should we swallow the entire animal without checking for bones first. The fact that some Leftist critics and some conservative critics reject the same elements of bourgeois culture does not mean that that particular aspect of their respective critiques is some sort of universal ideological "tie that binds."

Sure. The devil is always in the details. That's why I tend to reject arguments like this that don't invoke specifics. I can be as harsh a critic as anyone of modernity in the right context. Make a specific case about the failings of modernity and I'll interested and would likely agree on much. My understanding of memory itself is premodern because I regard that view correct and superior. Compare and contrast and I'm game, otherwise I'll probably be dismissive.

A different description of what I've said above on what will happen to Obamacare has to do with the unnoticed democratic revolutions in the business world that are accelerating quite rapidly. If I'm right what will save us is individualism and consumerism. That's right, the two boogeymen on many accounts. We're seeing large dealing among middlemen fall by the wayside and the millions of individuals making independent decisions. This leads to the basis for competition changing and previously successful companies fail as it turns out they never considered the individual their customer, but rather the dealmakers in the middle. They deserve to fail. I often know more than the doctor on my health plan, and in any case there is no good reason left for my employer to negotiate a deal with a large "healthcare" organization on my behalf without my input. We are no longer in a culture where the disparity of knowledge is great enough that I can't interact with medical professionals directly. Nor is there any longer a good reason to combine health insurance (a financial matter) with health care (a technical matter). That is why there is no cost transparency and massive corruption and inefficiency Unless "healthcare" is some sacred cow that defies the societal and business currents that are accelerating all around us neither Obamacare nor anything like it will survive in America on such a larger scale than in Canada or Europe. We have no tradition for this either and attempting to start now was sheer desperation by the libs. I already get my best medical work and advice by paying cash off-plan. Fee for service is the most efficient way, and the current system masks large payments for treatments of dubious efficacy. The only thing government can legitimately do here is the social safety-net aspect of it, thoigh an important part.

"If I'm right what will save us is individualism and consumerism. That's right, the two boogeymen on many accounts."

If this is the case the cure may be worse than the disease, at least in the long term.

Yeah, because moralism, legalism, rejectionism, and various anti-whathaveyouisms are so much preferred. I'm out on this one, but I wish you knew the key features of cultures that were replaced by "individualistic" ones. You don't, but few others do either despite the fact that is very well written about by some of the best writers America has produced, though these cultures were not uniquely American but simply the old-world. I could name them with a single word. A label and category that communicates something descriptive, concrete, and real. It gives context to the question about the role of indoviduals. But lacking that specificity we can't have a discussion about the pros and cons nor what Christianity might say about each. You can't compare something with nothing and I have no more time for vague generalities. Your pleasure is in condemnation, and I shouldn't be so cruel as to try to take that from you even if I could.

Let's hear the single word.

I'm convinced that the modernist notion of individualism is inherently anti-Christian, as it has its root in Enlightenment freethought. We conservatives continually need to remind ourselves just how anti-Christian, and more specifically anti-Catholic, the Enlightenment was.

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