America: “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

America: “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

I first learned about the progress of Marxist philosophy in America when I read Robert Bork’s powerful presentation of these historical developments in his book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline (1996).

It was in 1985 as a professor of psychology also maintaining a limited private practice that I became increasingly aware of the decline in the quality of America’s populations’ behavior. I have since worked to describe the psychological/social/cultural and other science based reasons for this decline. It was clear to me that these population behavior problems were early indications of general sociocultural decline.

Therefore, when I encountered Judge Bork’s book a little over a decade later. A very large piece of the puzzle fell into place. Of course I was aware of the massive cultural upheavals of the 1960, as that was the era when I came of age, participating in the Cold War in the submarine service and gaining my education in three different institutions of higher learning. Indeed I was immersed in this period of tectonic shifts in America’s socioculture. Yet, some very important components of the “big picture” had eluded me.

Bork’s own words about his own book, Slouching Towards Gomorrah: will best convey this picture.

This is a book about American decline. Since American culture is a variant of the culture of all Western industrialized democracies, it may even, inadvertently, be a c book about Western decline. In the United States, at least, that decline and the mounting resistance to it have produced what we now call a culture war. It is impossible to say what the outcome will be, but for the moment our trajectory continues downward. This is not to deny that much in our culture remains healthy, that many families are intact and continue to raise children with strong moral values. American culture is complex and resilient. But it is also not to be denied that there are aspects of almost every branch of our culture that are worse than ever before and that the rot is spreading.

Culture”, as used here, refers to all human behavior and institutions, including popular entertainment, art, religion, education, scholarship, economic activity, science, technology, law, and morality. Of that list, only science, technology and the economy may be said to be healthy today, and it is problematical how long that will last. Improbable as it may seem, science and technology themselves are increasingly under attack, and it seems highly unlikely that a vigorous economy can be sustained in an enfeebled, hedonistic culture, particularly when that culture distorts incentives by increasingly rejecting personal achievement as the criterion for the distribution of rewards” (p.2).

Bork went on to explain that the enemy was “modern liberalism” which he defined as a form of “radical egalitarianism“. He noted that egalitarianism placed the emphasis on equal outcomes instead of opportunities. Bork also included “radical individualism” as a characteristic of radical liberalism. In his view radical individualism runs in opposition to traditional morality and radical egalitarianism leads to “collectivism because a powerful state is required to suppress the differences that freedom produces” (p. 5).

Bork predicted the future as he clearly identified trends that have only become more deeply entrenched and powerful over the more than twenty years since he published his book.

Modern Liberalism is powerful because it has enlisted our cultural elites, those who man the institutions that manufacture, manipulate, and disseminate ideas, attitudes and symbols–universities, churches, Hollywood, the national press (print and electronic), foundation staffs, the ‘public interest’ organizations, much of the congressional Democratic Party and some congressional Republicans as well, and large sections of the judiciary, including, all too often, a majority of the Supreme Court” (p. 7).

Bork’s analysis is very detailed and voluminous. Therefore I will only summarize some of his main points that I find central to his thesis. First he notes coldly, but I believe accurately “that every new generation constitutes a wave of savages who must by civilized by families, schools and churches”. He further notes that the post-war “baby boomer” generation was so large as to overwhelm America’s ability to fully acculturate many of them. Universities expanded dramatically after WWII, and leftist liberal professors began to join their faculties in increasing numbers. Bork notes that when students of the 1960’s left their homes to attend our Universities, that a great number of radical leftist professors were waiting to teach them their Marxist/socialist political philosophy. The professors were often the children of communist party members and radical left parents from the generation before. Bork cites Midge Decter’s (1975) book: Liberal Parents, Radical Children. Here the offspring of liberal parents were referred to as “red diaper babies”. An important main idea is that teens, often rebellious by nature, were easily propagandized and channeled by their radical professors.

In a section on “The Sacking Of The Universities”, Bork documented the riots and take-overs of Chancellor’s offices, classrooms and other school properties by radical students and of course, the Kent State tragedy and much more.

Over time the radicalized students graduated and the rebellious spirit of the times appeared to moderate following in the 1970’s. In fact some commentators concluded that the radicalism of the 1960’s had died out.

But, in fact, that radicalism had not died out. Instead, following graduation, the radical students traded their tie-died shirts and long hair for suits and ties and they entered our institutions to more quietly shape radical liberal attitudes, values, laws, and political outcomes that changed the ethos of our socioculture. They became our teachers, professors, lawyers, media workers, social organizers and politicians, etc.. A more peaceful and surreptitious phase of the radical Liberal transformation of America had begun.

Slouching Towards Gomorrah is, in my view, a very powerful, well-documented and detailed analysis of how an increasingly pervasive Marxist/socialist influence has contaged its way through the traditional value systems of America. But of course, that which “infected” America was not germs; they were ideas, a system of ideas, a philosophical political ideology that was always present in small in scattered spattering’s, that suddenly began to “metastasize” at escalating rates of occurrence until this day.

Again, it is widely accepted that all forms of socioculture carry with them the seeds of their own destruction. One theory of cancer is that we commonly carry cancer cells within our bodies, but our healthy immune system kills them off. It is only when our immune systems become impaired and weakened that the cancer cells began to rapidly multiply until they destroy their host. Another theory is that individuals may be exposed to cancer causing toxins in great enough doses that they cause cancer cells to grow at such a high rate as to overcome a healthy immune system.

By rough analogy the decline of America’s socioculture with its dramatic increase in spiritual, social, economic, and political pathologies have weakened our formerly healthy culture sustaining institutions. As a result, they are now failing to protect us from destructive ideologies, rule changes and behavioral outcomes that are rapidly growing in our midst. It appears that America has suffered increased doses of incompatible ideologies, rule changes and behavioral outcomes that are toxic and debilitating to the effectiveness of our formerly more healthy essential institutions. In sociocultural evolution it is often very difficult to tell causes from effects and they frequently form very destructive negative feed-back loops that escalate rapidly. So it is, I believe, with our American decline.

In any event, Bork does not see this growth of radical liberal ideals and values in America, leading to its decline, as resulting from a planned conspiracy. If fact he warns against this conclusion.

This is my only disagreement with Robert Bork’s assertions and conclusions in his great book.

Much as the endless horror shows so popular in theaters and increasingly on television do, conspiracy theories of all sorts abound and they appear popular because they titillate and stimulate fear and anxiety in the beholder. People may be attracted to conspiracy theories for similar reasons.

But, what if acting upon a particular conspiracy theory could prevent the further decline and ultimate transformation of American’s socioculture into something akin to its death. What if acting upon a conspiracy theory and attacking the source of the deadly transformation (breaking negative feedback cycles) could actually lead to America’s increased health and viability? What do we make of the historical evidence of planned human actions, rule changes and outcomes accruing in Western Cultures  that are displaying similar predictable damaging effects as those now unfolding in our own? In other words what if the conspiracy theory of a modified Marxist/socialist assault upon the whole of Western Culture is true?

Under these conditions, it would be adaptive to accept that particular conspiracy theory, to work diligently to find antidotes for its contagious influences, and to experimentally analyze the unfolding results in a continuing quest for survival in world hostile to America’s socioculture.

There is more to come on this and similar matters.

VTM, 12/2/13

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