The movement of modern life is still evidently toward the “left”: toward hedonism, rationalism, egalitarianism, technocracy, making man the measure, eradication of any sense of the transcendent, and all the other things we have come to know so well. Seems bad, if you happen to be an antimodernist and right-winger.
Still, overall formulations leave things out. Big words don’t tell you everything. That’s true of one’s own theories, but also of the way things are formulated in public discussion. You can’t trust what you read in the papers. Life includes everything, even the things that aren’t what we talk about.
So what else is there? Some possibilities:
- Everyday life. People are still born and die, and must deal with whatever is part of of that. They can not in fact live or believe like the people on TV. That came out in the response to 9/11—people were much more religious and patriotic than advertised. And even people who don’t realize it may be “anonymous Christians” or something of the sort. The official formulation of their attitudes, beliefs and habits may be quite misleading; a more traditional formulation might be less so. Time may dissipate the confusion, and bring traditional formulations back into fashion.
- Still, TV and the rest of it have their effects. An international survey of religious beliefs shows the consequences of indoctrination in the controlled societies of Europe. The figures for the formerly communist countries, where indoctination was heaviest, are of particular interest. While the indoctrination was mostly effective, Poland is an anomaly. The apparent reason is that there was something unusual in the relation between society and regime there. After all, Poland is where the collapse of communism began. The similarity to Ireland and to some extent Italy, and to the comparatively libertarian United States, suggests that trust in God is an alternative to trust in the regime. For a government to put “In God We Trust” on its currency is truly an act of self-limitation. So one possibility is that with the failure of the state as God—the failure of the self-sufficient rational organization of human capacity and desire as the ultimate ethical reality—men will regain the sense that they depend on things that transcend them. The examples of Russia and East Germany suggest that may not happen immediately, however
- Darwin’s revenge: what works survives, what doesn’t disappears. It is Europe that has moved farthest to the Left, and Europe can’t come close to reproducing itself. After all, what does comfortable individual hedonism have to do with raising children? The Europeans expect their continent to become a comfortable retirement village dutifully supported by Muslim immigrants. How likely is that? A system of unreality can’t last, whatever prestige it may have for a while, and it’s no wonder they’re so easily frightened.
None of these grand possibilities tells us what to do now, apart from live well and try to be as clear and truthful about things as possible. The Left is doomed by its nature and will be replaced; what will replace it, when and how can’t be predicted. Still, there’s plenty to say and plenty to work for, and for that we should be grateful!