The Clash of the Last Man

I understand, I have figured out, sufficiently enough for my mind at least, how to describe the state of ideas and dialogue in our age. It may well be that I will use some imprecise language in my thoughts here. It is also an absolute certainty that people that operate under the framework that I am about to describe will disagree with my assessments. The reasons for those disagreements will become self-evident in my explanation below. In fact, someone that operates under the framework that I describe would have to agree with me on my central theme – we cannot communicate about ideas because we approach almost all subjects with different foundational definitions of words and understandings of context.

 

---skip to the tear line if you wonder why I am convinced all the ‘experts’ get the Ukraine and Russia situation so wrong--

 

I am not referencing only vast and obvious differences in worldview. I do not mean simply to deal with why someone on the far left cannot communicate with someone on the far right. Reaction and counter-reaction to the core ideology of our age have created profound shifts in the way we define words resulting in a situation where a person that speaks or thinks in a pre-1940s way cannot communicate with either extreme or with the vast majority between them.

 

Ludicrous is the retort, moronic, idiocy from a simpleton.  “Nobody thinks in a pre-1940s” way we would be told, or perhaps someone would leverage a strawman and claim one holding such a view wants a return to something bad from that period. Yes, of course, no one thinks this way, purely, untouched by subsequent ideas. But there are some that hold parts of this to be true. There are some that reject the idea that scholarship after 1945 was superior to, or even equal to that after.  Some see a moment, the last moment, where wise men collected the wisdom of the ages, looked around them and saw trends, and rightly assessed what was and what was to be. And some read those words, through their postmodern eyes and do not understand. [1]

 

I am one such person, a man that believes there was more wisdom at the end of the last age than might be found in this transitory period. I am, insofar as I am able, a modern man in an increasingly postmodern world. If I am a reformer, I would reform modernity to excise the absurdity that entered into the world of ideas beginning three hundred years ago. My fight is not with the great-grandchildren of those ideas, but with the source. That is the problem, it is my problem.

 

Consider how this marks the current Ukraine and Russia crisis and the analysis surrounding it.

 

------tear line-----

Why do we find that nearly nobody that speaks or writes of the current situation related to Ukraine and Russia assesses events from the perspective of asking what Putin says about Russian culture and what he believes his role is in bolstering and defending it? Why does none of the analysis recognize the very real efforts that Western powers have engaged in along Russia’s borders and then compared those ideologically inspired activities to what Putin claims to be the foundational tenets of Russian cultural interest?

 

One could neatly template Francis Fukuyama’s [2] vision against that of Samuel Huntington [3] to deduce a clear fault line along the Dnieper River. On the left bank, the West has exported ideology and groups that spread that as a form of soft power – an expansion of Fukuyama’s idea, ‘freeing those bound by tyranny with democracy.’ On the right bank, and particularly in Donbas, we find many cultural Russians, and geography that played a key role in the history of the Russian people. If we consider that Putin believes his words about defending his culture against a decadent west then we come to better understand the real fault line.

 

That understanding requires a grasp of what Huntington actually meant by civilizational culture. Most in the west, under a certain age or perhaps having grown up in major urban areas, have never seen anything of Western Civilizational culture; nothing other than some of the living remnant found in pockets here and there and of things in museums and libraries. But culture, true culture of the sort Huntington wrote about cannot exist in pockets, and it cannot be understood in a book. A culture is either alive and present, producing the aesthetics, art, literature, and knowledge unique to that culture, items that comport with the permanent things of that culture, or it is dead. Western civilization is for all practical purposes dead, replaced by art, knowledge, and aesthetics that are not only anathema to traditional permanent things but destructive to them. [4][5]

 

This all might be attributed to a ‘matter of subjective opinion’, but it does not negate the fact that Putin says he believes that the Russian civilizational culture must be protected from the spread of the ideology that has captured the West. A person might disagree with the premises presented about culture, and perhaps not even truly understand what the word means in a Huntington sense, but that does not disallow room that others believe it, Putin included. If we understand the potential motivators and the actions over previous years that created friction points around those motivators we might more honestly understand the conflict.

 

War may occur around friction points that ‘experts’ are unwilling to acknowledge, resulting from decades-long actions that minds captured by the prevailing ideology are e ill-equipped to understand the ramifications of. A war cheered on by those that confuse patriotism with war, people who are also ill-equipped to dissect effect from cause.

------tear line-----

 

Words have different definitions depending upon where one begins their inquiry into meaning. This divide is much more profound than mere political thought. The entire spectrum has been impacted by the prevailing worldview ideology. When the alkalinity of the water we all swim in changes, everything is affected.[6]

 

I have pondered and seriously reflected on the fact that almost every conversation I have had over the last two years, those with people of goodwill, not necessarily the nonsensical quips that comprise the bulk of social media, almost all of these conversations center on this divide. In almost all cases, I leave, not understanding how the other party can honestly hold their position, and I suspect they leave thinking something about me perhaps similar to the ‘ludicrous’ descriptions above; perhaps something worse.

 

I speak with many sorts of people, and have had these conversations with dedicated scientific socialists, ANTIFA supporters, BLM followers, Qanon people, MAGA adherents, Reformed theologians, Catholic Integralists, Trads, Progs, Groypers, Federalist, Democrats, Methodists, Republicans, lawyers, landscapers, and a dog catcher. In each of those real examples, the difference of opinion, our real disagreement was never unearthed. We never moved past the definition of terms. Some have embraced the extreme postmodern position that makes it impossible to define words according to a traditional view. Others have retrenched into dogma, in response to the change around them, not fully realizing how much that change has actually affected their ability to parse words.

 

I posit that the Second World War marked the beginning of the end of the modern age. The march toward something that will become post-modern indeed began with ideas called postmodern but that alone was not enough.  The Third Industrial Revolution was a minor revolution, compared to all previous, but it had all the same hallmarks, including a change in culture, an awakening (dual awakenings), and wars resulting from the emotivism of awakening. When I refer to the postmodern I do not merely mean postmodern philosophy or methodological approach and praxis. Those items are but one element. The awakenings, the development of philosophy that radically diverged from the traditional, the rejection of old ideas, rather than a progressive elaboration on them – these were culture-killing events. In that death and the destruction and abandonment of the old, came a new way to understand words. We can read the old words now and not understand them as written. Nobody is immune to this change.

 

The complete and final death of Western Civilization will not occur until the next industrial revolution and its aftermath. It is inconceivable that that aftermath will include a rejection of the deviation since the Second World War, it is possible, but it seems unlikely. It seems more likely the aftermath will merely pivot from what will by then be observed as absurdity, but the foundational truths that might drive and guide that pivot will be nowhere available.[7]

 

We are at a point, where even most that seek to understand the world cannot because they are using the very definitions developed in the destructive period, this transitory time between the modern and postmodern. In this period where we sit on the precipice of another industrial revolution but are without tools to help us understand any of it, we are defenseless. We threw out the men and ideas from the older age that thought about these things beginning from a place of traditional truth. And some of us that believe we cling to the old have become such dogmatic Pharisees we are incapable of searching for answers or even framing the problem.

 

But the old men knew, so did those from an age of thinkers that have now mostly passed the great veil, they knew.[8]


 

[1] I'll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (Library of Southern Civilization)

[2] The End of History and the Last Man

[3] The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order

[4] Roots of American Order

[5] Enemies of the Permanent Things: Observations of Abnormity in Literature and Politics

[6] The Rise of Absurdity in Western Philosophical and Political Views

[7] Authentic Christianity and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

[8] Manifesto of Old Men and Simple Preachers