From Churchill’s Parrot blog

“Imagine there’s no countries/it isn’t hard to do/nothing to kill or die for/and no religion too/imagine all the people/living life in peace.”

-John Lennon, Imagine

With the American Democratic Party’s formal consummation of its dalliance with the Fresh Prince of Thin Air, we had anticipated at least some airing of the lamentations of regret typically following such ill-advised intercourse. Hearing little to none, we are compelled to re-examine the cultural circumstances which make it possible for a farce such as this to come to pass.    

Though much discussed, the Obama ascendancy still baffles: the party of Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy has turned the keys over to a very junior Senator whose scant voting record is the furthest left of any in the Senate.  Really?  It has been called “the audacity of hope.”  We call it merely, audacity; that strain of defiant, reckless, irresponsible audacity one expects from a sixteen year old, not from a national institution that – at one time anyway – was of significant weight and consequence. 

We ought not be surprised. 

By inertia alone has the DNC produced candidates over the past four decades possessing at least the requisite resume for the job of American head of state.  The real work over these years has been that of the New Left steadily inculcating its Fifth Column dogma into the party’s ethos. Clearly the Democratic Party has suffered for it, yet remains, somehow, undead. Zombified in this fashion, the party has afforded its representatives nothing in the way of new ideas to promote.  Since the mid-Sixties they have spewed and re-spewed the very same socialistic Great Society pap about defending the poor, minorities, and the oppressed, rhetoric exposed daily as empty, insincere, misleading, and counter-productive. It only follows then that this hollowed-out party produce and endorse a candidate as insubstantial as its rhetoric – window dressing for the empty store.  But why are people buying it?

Because Obama resonates profoundly with the prevailing cultural influence of our time, what we call fashionable nihilism. In a universe without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value; form reigns supreme over content; style over substance; aesthetic over actuality; the subjective is enshrined and the objective demonized; relativism is embraced and absolutism rejected; perception is reality.  These are the bylaws of contemporary popular culture and the parameters of acceptable modern thought.  In the political realm, there may be no more perfect embodiment of them than the young, handsome, golden-voiced, and virgin – Barrack Hussein Obama.

Fashionable nihilism has been sometime in the making. No less than Friedrich Nietzsche heralded its rise and warned of its disastrous potential as far back as the late 1800’s.  In his classic The Will to Power, Nietzsche warned that European culture was moving “as toward catastrophe: restlessly, violently, headlong, like a river that wants to reach the end, that no longer reflects, that is afraid to reflect.” He predicted that in “the history of the next two centuries …what is coming, what can no longer come differently: the advent of nihilism.”

At midpoint now between “the next two centuries,” it seems Freddy may have been onto something. We do not here refer merely to the rise of sociopath monsters such as Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, but also the popular movements which supported them, and – perhaps most importantly – the mind set that rationalized reluctance and timidity amongst those who ought stop them.    

In his April 24, 1933 address at the Royal Society of St. George, Sir Winston Churchill aptly diagnosed the condition and its effect on his contemporaries.

“The worst difficulties from which we suffer do not come from without. They come from within. They do not come from the cottages of the wage-earners. They come from a peculiar type of brainy people always found in our country, who, if they add something to its culture, take much from its strength. Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have been cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals. They come from the acceptance of defeatist doctrines by a large proportion of our politicians….Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told.”

Nonetheless, for the next seven years England continued to drag her feet and avert her eyes until landing herself in the weakest possible position, resulting in the near extinction of Christian civilization. Ultimately, Britain did save herself, due largely to the leadership and state craft of Sir Winston Churchill whom she voted out of power the moment she was returned to safety.  The body was safe.  The soul is another question.  Fashionable nihilism, temporarily suspended, had retained its hold. 

This trend was not mainstreamed, however, until the 1960’s.  What with the perfect storm of an unprecedented surge of young people, unprecedented wealth, and unprecedented mass communication technology – not to mention an elder generation too weary and few to counter it – an ersatz cultural revolution took place. Principles which had guided Western civilization through the storm of history to her present sanctuary –moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue – were cast off in favor of the values and world view of adolescence: the rash, the titillating, the intoxicating, the immediate, the audacious. The faith that our story was part of a larger more permanent Truth requiring of its actors courage, integrity, perseverance, and self-control in order to be told, was discredited as mere chauvinism and bigotry. This time, relativism was the Serpent’s apple, and the brave new world sunk its teeth into it with relish. Henceforth, Western minds have been narrowing while believing themselves to be opening. 

The New Left seeing this for what it was – the hollowing out of free market democracy from its core – shrewdly seized upon this development. Marketers, entertainers, and opportunistic politicians, pursuing trends with all the discretion of bucks in rut, followed suit. Today, the sweet nothings of fashionable nihilism – ever-sexy, ever-youthful, ever-enticing, never delivering – are omni-present, penetrating Western minds and hearts from every possible angle and coloring every aspect of modern society.

In his new book, Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy,  author Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident and political prisoner as well as a member of the Israeli cabinet, argues against the modern consensus that traditional concepts such as nationalism and religion are antithetical to freedom. Discussing his book at a recent Heritage Foundation lecture, Sharansky began by citing John Lennon’s Imagine (the lyric which prefaces this post) as iconic of this consensus.

“Imagine the world without God and without hell, without borders and without nations, the world where there is nothing to die for, the brotherhood of man,” Sharansky paraphrases. “He (Lennon) believes that real freedom is when people stop being divided into nations, into religion, and when there is nothing to die for. It’s such a good life you don’t have to die for anything.”

Sharansky then explained that, in his own experience and that of other dissidents he met in Soviet gulags as well as through his work since, it was the exact opposite belief that empowered them to defy and prevail against oppression.  The faith that there is something permanent, something bigger than one’s own life and well-being, that there are things truly worth dying for; things like God and country, quaint old-fashioned notions that make extraordinary heroes out of ordinary men, this was the faith that sustained them.  Those without it capitulated. What else could they do? What is the use of resisting tyranny when none of this nation and religion business matters anyway?     

Yet even with the collapse of the Soviet Union Sharansky notes, the Lennon sentiment thrives throughout the West today. Should it continue to do so, Sharansky warns, it will mean our doom.  For – seeking to disavow ourselves of our very selves as we are – what resistance could we possibly put up against a force so focused, so furious, so intense as say … Islam?  

“We have two societies,” Sharansky explains. “One has a strong identity and no obligations toward freedom.  And the other has a strong belief in freedom but no identity, no roots, no desire to die for anything.  This society has no chance.” 

Sobering words from one who knows.

The rise of Islam in the modern world is an indictment of the West’s self-induced enfeeblement.  Frankly, it is laughable that a cult of 7th century cave-dwelling suicidal miscreants could possibly present any actual concern to the 21st century world.  Yet it does, because we have allowed it.  Like a drunken gardener who too long neglected the simple tasks of tending his plot and is now in danger of losing it to weeds and pests normally of little consequence, so the free world today is poised to be overrun by goons of yore as a result of its own fecklessness.  

And now we see that instead of rooting out that fecklessness, far too large a portion of the American people are evidently eager to let it lead them in voting a preposterously under-qualified man to the most powerful office in the free world. 

“Oh whatever,” they rebut.  “It’s time for a change.  Besides it’ll be neat to have a black president.”  Behold the rigorous logic of fashionable nihilism.

And Britain and Europe, oblivious to their own lost cause, cheer them on from the sidelines.  

For nigh on half a century, the Free World has lounged in the spa of fashionable nihilism,  bathing in its pretty songs, its feel-good policies, its pie-in-the-sky promises; sweet nothings seducing us to our undoing. In this context, the Obama campaign is indeed a referendum.  Not a referendum on “race in America,” for what then of the rancorous debate around Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell etc.?  This is a referendum on how America understands herself.  Does she still take seriously her role as the last best hope of mankind and all which that requires?  Or does she concur with her critics that she is too proud, too strong, too rich and must therefore humble herself before the court of world opinion, electing their preference for president being the first big step of many in that direction?

We shall see.  This referendum on America is for American’s to decide.  It they decide unwisely, the next one may not be.  For once sovereignty is given over – be it in the name of peace, or reparation, or empty-headed stupidity – it may never be regained; just ask the Britons and Europeans. 

At this point in history, these are the stakes, the bleak dividends of fashionable nihilism: sweet nothings more nothing than sweet.   

And as Sir Winston forewarned at another such point in history,

“If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told.”



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