Artwork by Marco Battaglini
I came across an interesting comment on the Facebook page Traditionalist Western Art (I don’t agree with their overall philosophy, I follow it for the artworks), which was made in response to a shared article entitled “The Individualism of the Herd”. The title of the article reads like an oxymoron, and the article itself aims to convince you that the past has been abandoned, and that previously condemned transgressions of social norms are the new orthodoxy. It’s one of those articles that preaches to an audience that may already agree with the author. The comment I found on Facebook asked what exactly the author stood for, but it’s this quote that had me thinking:
“Culture and the individual should by no means be at odds: A healthy culture generates a healthy individual, who supports a healthy culture. You cannot have a healthy culture without healthy individuals. An individual, however, may thrive despite an unhealthy culture; though the unhealthy culture does all it can to thwart this.”
This had me thinking. What constitutes a healthy culture? What constitutes an unhealthy culture? Then I considered the kind of society we inhabit today, and I consider it to be the most obvious example of a very unhealthy culture. Why? Well I think it’s obvious to all that the culture we inhabit has gone to the doghouse. Everybody knows it deep down, but they’re afraid to say it because when they speak out about the state of our current culture, they’re quickly dismissed as reactionary old fogeys. But to explain how, let’s look at the signs.
The first sign I can see is the enshrinement of narcissism. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have already facilitated an environment in which we broadcast ourselves to the world, but on those sites many of us cultivate a fabrication of ourselves. We broadcast the views, thoughts, and aspects of our lives that we believe everyone will approve. It’s a quest for recognition and validation that arguably stems from the daycare craze, when the mainstream media pushed the narrative that kids are fine if you deposit them in daycare, where they are deprived of the parental attention they so desperately need in order to develop into functioning adults.
I also believe that many of the mass shooters of modern history were deeply depressed narcissists. For example, the recent Weis Market Massacre, the perpetrator of which, one Randy Stair, left behind a disturbing series of videos hinting that he was going to go on a killing spree. The way I see it, Stair was basically a disturbed individual convinced of his lack of self-worth, who desperately wanted to make his mark on the world. His explanation also convinces me of his narcissistic tendencies. After all, how self-centered must you be for you to see yourself as the “last soul alive”? And he’s not alone. What people like Randy Stair, Elliot Rodger, Seung-hui Cho and the Columbine killers had in common was not just their profound hatred of the world around them, but that their rage was fuelled by their rampant narcissism, which leads them to blame society for their own failings. Of course, every time this happens the left uses this to push for tighter gun control regulations, but guns aren’t the problem. For the gun control argument to make sense, there would have to be record of the kind of mass shooting problem we have today existing prior to the 1950’s, or even as far back as the revolutionary era. The problem is that these killers were raised in a culture that coddles them into thinking that they are the centre of the universe, all because some thirty or forty-odd years ago, parents decided that the effective method of parenting was “too harsh”, and flocked to television’s pop parenting experts for guidance. These are the generation of parents who helped to create this phenomenon. Gun control advocacy is merely a convenient way for progressives and liberals alike to avoid the difficult questions of the culture they helped to create.
The next sign I can think of is a general antipathy towards the value of hard work (which I will likely touch upon in a later post). We used to teach our kids that if we work hard we can achieve anything. Whether or not that was entirely true, we taught them that because we wanted them to work hard and earn a good living. But apparently that’s a lie now. Why even bother working when the government can look after you? That appears to be the prevailing attitude now, at least in the West. Thanks to generous welfare handouts, we’re in a situation where you practically make more money on welfare than you would make if you actually got a job. It’s the same in Britain. Indeed, in my country, the Conservatives are usually condemned by the mainstream chattering class because they have the temerity to make welfare cuts. I agree that austerity cuts are the wrong way to reduce spending, but it seems like in my country there is a zeitgeist in mainstream culture that is in favour of increased spending, and preserving and/or expanding the welfare state. This is one of the biggest reasons that a Marxist could likely become Prime Minister in the next election. Young people in particular grew attached to Jeremy Corbyn (and Bernie Sanders in America) because he is offering them free stuff. This antipathy for hard work and sensible economics, and the exaltation of mindless indulgence, can best be summed up as “most people just want the easy way out”.
Speaking of indulgence, I feel that personal responsibility is something that is looked down upon these days. Instead of allowing people to make their own choices and take responsibility for them, we try to make a society wherein you can’t choose at all. I saw this all the time when it comes to so-called junk food, alcohol and smoking. Instead of encouraging the state to ban or restrict our ability to consume things that are bad for them, why don’t we simply let people make unhealthy choices and face the consequences themselves. If people want to screw up their own bodies it’s not the state’s business, or at least it wouldn’t be were it not for the existence of state-run healthcare. More to the point, marriage, the ultimate contract of responsible adults, is now frowned upon. Marriage is regularly vilified in Hollywood films and TV shows, and has been for a long time. We’re told that marriage is a prison where we “lose our personal freedom” (translation: we have to be responsible adults, therefore marriage sucks), when in reality, there is proof that married couples are actually happier than people who are single. If marriage is such a bad deal, what’s supposed to be the alternative? The reigning culture instead not only recommends promiscuous casual sex, a message expounded by today’s pop musicians (e.g. Katy Perry and Ariana Grande), but also somehow manages to make sex itself meaningless. Small wonder that when young people follow the message of pop starlets, they end up being more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. As imperfect and difficult as marriage can be for a lot of people, I believe that the alternative that popular culture is suggesting is far worse in the long run, and the embrace of the alternative can only lead to ruin.
The final sign that comes to my mind is the demand for conformity. It would make sense that in a healthy culture, people would embrace said culture voluntarily, and would defend it if the time came. An unhealthy culture has no real value, and so people won’t really care for it, and can’t think of an argument in its defence. Hence, an unhealthy culture requires conformity in order to survive. Consider the rise of the social justice warriors which began a few years ago, and the people who try to get conservatives fired from their jobs. Consider the recent push for increased censorship by Western governments, with Germany wanting to censor social media, Britain’s Prime Minister wanting to regulate the Internet, and American pundits attempting and failing to use the “fake news” narrative to try and get alternative media outlets shut down. This would probably be what the poster meant when he suggested that the unhealthy culture does all it can to thwart the development of the individual.
So with that in mind, it is no wonder why I consider today’s culture to be extremely unhealthy. It has abandoned the very principles upon which it was founded, and we are already witnessing the deterioration of society as a whole. It may yet be possible that we will enter a point where the culture itself is a hinderance to the individual. The culture and the individual would be at odds with one another because the culture would be hostile to the individual. When the culture is hostile to individual expression, there can be no liberty, and if we get to that point, the path towards self-destruction is sealed.