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How the Twentieth Century Eroded American and Western Values

The British rose to power in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, then steadily fell. Is America doomed to the same fate? Using a number of ideas and historical events, it is clear that just as the enlightenment brought about America and a brighter future for humanity, the twentieth century shattered and reversed all of those ideals and hopes. It is hard to believe that Western civilization could survive two world wars, the loss of individual liberty, and introduction of socialism and post-modernism. But the truth is, it hasn’t. Some of these events put American ideals and western civilization into a coffin, while the rest were just nails in it. These ideas and issues will be discussed briefly, to show how they ended the greatest era in humanity, and are weakening the most free super power ever to exist.

PART ONE: Post-Modernism
One of these killers of American principles and Western Civilization actually has roots going farther back, though it has come to full fruition during the twentieth century. That is: post-modernism. Robert Struble Jr defined it: “The postmodernist worldview dismisses all forms of absolutism from eras past, especially Judeo-Christian faith and morals; yet the postmodernists idolize absolutely their new secular trinity of tolerance–diversity–choice.” So, if you ever wonder where we got our new-racist affirmative action, the anti-first amendment “hate speech”, and “political correctness”, all three forms of mini-tyranny in their own right, now you know who to thank. This form of thought has replaced enlightenment ideals almost completely in Europe and Canada and is making advances into America.

One of the sides in the brutal culture war being fought in twenty-first century America over tolerance, religion, morals, not offending anyone, and immigration, has basis in this theology that rose during the twentieth century. Why immigration? Because apologists in America and Europe are too hell bent on promoting the “secular trinity” to care about the consequences (or the rule of law for that matter). There is nothing inherently wrong with other people moving somewhere else. Open borders advocates will be quick to call you racist (for daring to defy their holy commandments of tolerance and diversity), when they are the racists. Someone from country A has moved to America, while their daughter, a medical doctor, has been waiting six years to enter legally. Meanwhile, any undocumented person can just walk across the border within days, or even hours. It’s about their illegality and their lack of assimilation in the long run.

These are also the “you killed the Indians” crew. As if Columbus was supposed to step off his ship, somehow know about the theory of germs, and then get back on his ship and go home, so Europeans could come at a later date with millions of vaccinations. Anyone who has discussed foreign policy with me knows I dislike imperialist practices, but post-modernists take it to new levels by not only being apologists, but also denouncing their own nations, in their dislike of what happened generations ago. Giving money to ancestors of slaves, or passing resolutions apologizing to people decades (or even centuries) after the fact, are more examples of post-modernism at work. See: Australia apologizes to Aborigines, Lawmakers to Push for U.S. apology for Slavery)

“We’ve seen states step forward on this,” says Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, citing the resolutions of Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Alabama and New Jersey. “I’m really shocked, just shocked” that the federal government hasn’t apologized. “It’s time to do so.” Poor Tom Harkin is shocked, that we haven’t made a useless resolution apologizing for slavery, when no one alive today was responsible. No slaveholder or slave is alive to today. Take note Tom Harkin is a Democrat — liberal leaning, they live and breathe this nonsense.

You can get in trouble now for saying things that offend others. What hate speech exactly is, is subjective and left to the post-modernist grovelers to decide. But of course, illegal immigrants walking into the street, desecrating American flags, and holding signs that say “whites go back to Europe”, is just part of the beautiful wonderland of diversity and tolerance.

This also has lead to a new European past-time: accommodating everyone’s religion, except Christianity. In the UK “Muslim passengers may not be touched by sniffer dogs of the British Transport Police” after complaints that the practice is against Islam. According to the religion, dogs are deemed to be spiritually “unclean”. I guess everyone is subjected to the national security state .. except if you’re a non-Christian and it’s “unclean”.

Post-modernism is also considered “counter-enlightenment”. “Counter-Enlightenment is a term used to refer to a movement that arose in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries in opposition to the eighteenth century Enlightenment.” Or to put in short, since America was created via enlightenment and classical liberal ideals, post-modernism is fundamentally anti-American, and this is seen by the vast hatred and disgust toward America, particularly in European countries. Anti-Americanism is based heavily in post-modernist thought.

Critics of the enlightenment try to make bizarre ties between it, totalitarianism and evil, when it was actually the abandonment of the enlightenment that led to these things:

Counter-Enlightenment literature blames the eighteenth century faith in reason for twentieth century totalitarianism. The locus classicus of this view is Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s “Dialectic of Enlightenment” (1947), which traces the degeneration of the general concept of enlightenment from ancient Greece (epitomized by the cunning ‘bourgeois’ hero Odysseus) to twentieth century fascism. (Tellingly, they say nothing about communism, which is, for many liberal critics of the Enlightenment like Berlin and Jacob Talmon, directly descended from the rationalism of the philosophes).

What this all has given us is a dumbed down Europe, and partially America, full of apologists, embracing the overflow of third world immigrants under the banner of tolerance and diversity. These immigrants feel no need to assimilate under such an atmosphere, and so they don’t. Why assimilate when you are accommodated? This separatism is the new racism we face, ironically supported by those claiming to be fighting racism themselves–and those who oppose their ideas are the racists. It has also given us other lovely inventions, such as “identity politics“: “Identity politics is political action to advance the interests of members of a group supposed to be oppressed by virtue of a shared and marginalized identity (such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or neurological wiring). The term has been used principally in United States politics since the 1970s.”

PART TWO: The Fall of Individual Rights

I’m going to leave this section up to the man who knows more about individual rights than me, and that is (of course) Ron Paul, in his 1988 book “Freedom Under Siege”. In the below passage he describes the changes in our conception of “rights” during the 20th century, while showing off some of his strong conservative principles, which were overshadowed in the campaign because the press, and some of his own supporters, decided to turn his candidacy into a circus. Passages like this bring a tear to the eye (for me at least), knowing we won’t have, and possibly never will have, a president like this:

There is a serious lack of concern for the individual rights today. The concept of rights has been distorted to such a degree that the authors of the Constitution would not recognize what is today referred to as a “right”. Demands for unearned wealth, based on needs and desires, are now casually accepted as rights. We see little value placed on the traditional concept of equal rights.

The change in the general attitude regarding rights is the most significant event of the twentieth century. It has literally torn us away from the constitutional guidelines given to us by the Founding Fathers two-hundred years ago. The media, the Congress, the courts, and the President reflect the prevailing philosophy of our thought leaders — especially those in our teaching institutions. Without an understanding of the nature of rights, a solution to today’s political problems is impossible. The gimmicks won’t work, only philosophy works.

People must once again believe that it is in their best interest to support individual rights, just as they now believe it’s their best interest to vote for those who provide food stamps for the poor, corporate bailouts for the rich, and bankers aid for the powerful.

The purpose of government is now dramatically different than that which the eighteenth century writers of the Constitution intended. Government is now broader in scope and bigger in size with a corresponding reduction in individual liberty. A precise definition of individual rights, strictly adhered to, is required to prevent the continued erosion and complete destruction of our once-free society.

Paul goes on to state:

It is commonplace for politicians and those desiring special privileges to refer to black rights, Hispanic rights, handicap rights, gay rights, children’s rights, Asian-American rights, women’s rights, employee rights, student rights, minority rights, poverty rights, homeless rights, etc. Until all these terms are dropped and we recognize that only an individual has rights, the solution to the mess in which we find ourselves will not be found.

Every year new groups organize to demand their “rights”. White people who organize and expect the same attention as other groups are quickly and viciously condemned as dangerous bigots. Hispanic, black, and Jewish caucuses can exist in the U.S. Congress, but not a white caucus, demonstrating the absurdity of this approach for achieving rights for everyone.

Many academics and thought leaders hold super-liberal views. They have accepted identity politics, and the rise of the “collective” over the individual. It is no wonder why this change has occurred. To me, the full connections between part one and part two are fairly clear, and I’ll leave the implications for the reader to think about.

PART THREE: The Rise of the U.S. and U.K. Welfare States

The Labour Party in Great Britain surpassed the Liberal Party as the main opposition to the Conservatives in the early 20th Century, the “progressive-era” as this time period was termed in America. This progressive era was damaging to the free market and for freedom in general. It was part one out of two during the twentieth century, to be followed by a continuation of it in the 1930-1950′s time period in both nations. Is it coincidence that both of these harmful eras took place in close association with world wars? The Labour Party bases itself on socialist principles, believing in bringing about socialism via peaceful change, rather than a Marxist violent revolution. Ramsay MacDonald was their first PM in 1924, who accomplished little on the socialist agenda besides some housing legislation. “Traditionally, the party was in favor of socialist policies such as public ownership of key industries, government intervention in the economy, redistribution of wealth, increased rights for workers and trade unions, and a belief in the welfare state and publicly funded healthcare and education.”

The most radical British government came after 1945, with the loss of Churchill and victory for Clement Attlee and the Labour Party. Major industries such as the Bank of England, coal mining, steel, electricity, gas, telephones, and inland transportation were all nationalized. Liberal economist William Beveridge’s concept of a “cradle to grave” welfare state came to fruition. Britain’s publicly funded National Health Service was created in 1948. Most changes during this time were even accepted by the conservatives.

Times of war, such as World War I and World War II saw major intervention into the economy by the British government, setting the tone for future intervention.

The closest example we have in America is FDR’s New Deal prior to the outbreak of World War II. The first half of the twentieth century introduced the precedent that the federal government could solve financial problems. Unlike in Britain, opposition was much greater, some of FDR’s programs were even ruled unconstitutional. The biggest welfare spending program, and the possible future destruction of America, was introduced here with the Social Security Act.

A larger welfare state continues to be fought for in America, with a push for nationalized health care, and control of the oil industry. Did I mention that paranoia over corporations began in the late nineteenth century, into the early twentieth century? To liberals, corporations do all wrong, and yet government can do no wrong. When in fact, they both do wrong, mainly because they are always holding hands. Any major advance of the welfare state will seal our nations financial doom in future generations.

The twentieth century’s shift in America from individualism to collectivism is the chief culprit in the switch from free market and liberty, to socialism and restriction. It is no coincidence that the first major communist revolution, the birth of the Labour Party as a dominant force in British politics, and increased government intervention in the economy in America, all occurred in the stretch between 1900-1930. Individualism vs. Collectivism can be seen as another opposing point between postmodernism and the enlightenment.

The twentieth century has been characterized by the diminishing importance of the individual and the rising importance of the collective. – Ron Paul

PART FOUR: 1913 As America’s Worst Year

As a nation we’ve been through revolution, expansion, a brutal civil war, two world wars, economic depression, a cold war, terrorist attacks, and an uncertain future. Compared with those things, one might think the year 1913 is peanuts. When in fact, the changes of 1913 were one of the biggest hits to American principles in the twentieth century. It’s all about unintended consequences. On paper, something looks like reform, or even a good moral decision, but reality has time and time again, shown otherwise:

The Law of Unintended Consequences states that there will be unintended results for every human action. It doesn’t take much to see this law’s effects. Prohibition is a great example. A law designed to improve the morality of the country instead made us a country of law breakers; the increasing disrespect for law and order that we’ve seen over the last century can be traced to this event. Giving welfare checks to unwed mothers has produced more children to more unwed mothers, making the problem worse. The examples are endless.

During this time our nation saw the election of Woodrow Wilson, an academic, and a very poor president by most accounts. He was a southern racist Democrat, who screened “Birth of a Nation” at the White House, an early film portraying the Ku Klux Klan as heroes against the barbaric black man. He was also responsible for signing the Federal Reserve into law, creating the “make the world safe for democracy” foreign policy, and pushed for America to be in the League of Nations. Or as I like to say, one of history’s great losers.

Although all three of those mentioned have been complete disasters to date, I will focus mainly on the Federal Reserve Bank, since it has most to do with the subject at hand.

Here’s how we got saddled with this monstrosity: In the early 1900s – during the so-called Progressive Era – the U.S. Government began a radical program of intervention into the economy. Pundits hailed this as fostering a new “spirit of cooperation” between business and government. In fact, the new system was a precursor of socialism and fascism.

This was the era when the U.S free market received a beating, and for lovers of liberty, its effect was much worse than the New Deal’s. In the free market, opportunity is granted to all and privilege to none. Laws affect all equally, businesses seek to meet the needs of the people, and the consumer is king. But in a system of government intervention, industries are no longer accountable to the needs of the people. They receive special privilege from the state.

Academics, as is still the case, provided intellectual cover for these crimes. Thornton Cooke, writing in the pro-big government American Economic Review in 1911 explained why banking needs to be centralized: “American banking has made little use of the principle of cooperation, yet for a generation that principle has been the greatest single factor in American economics.” The railroads have their ‘community of interest arrangements’, so now, he said, it’s time to consolidate banking.

Cooke was arguing for a government-enforced banking cartel, similar to the railroad industry’s. The new “collective spirit” of the American economy naturally leads to centralizing money and credit to argue for bank cartelization.
-Ron Paul, Freedom Under Siege

Instead of explaining the history of American banking, I’ll just get right to the part about the drafting and creation of the Federal Reserve. A commission met at a luxury resort, the only debate was between partial or complete centralization of banking. The report the commission would release would later be the Federal Reserve Act. The members of this group (you’ll notice they’re all connected to the business rich of the time, or banks, or both) included:

  • Senator Nelson W. Aldrich (Rockefeller in-law)
  • Henry P. Davidson (Morgan Partner)
  • Paul M. Warburg (Kuhn Loeb & Co.)
  • Frank A. Vanderlip (VP of Rockefeller’s National City Bank)
  • Charles D. Norton (President of Morgan’s First National Bank of New York)

The result of this meeting was the Commission’s bill, the Aldrich Plan, the basis of the Federal Reserve Act. The only disagreement was on the issue of partial or total centralization. All wanted total centralization, but some were more politically astute than others and knew that Congress would never approve of a totally banker-controlled central bank.

Senator Aldrich, who strangely did not understand why centralization could not be presented outright, was overridden by the more politically astute Warburg, who endorsed the Morawetz version of regional banking centers under the cover of decentralization. The board of directors in the original Aldrich plan was to be chosen solely by bankers, but that was later changed in the spirit of decentralization to make half of them appointed by the President of the United States.

A group of wealthy bankers came together, already knowing what their interests and goals were, and only discussed how to do it without suspicion. Arguments in support of it were made based off of the new “collective spirit”. From there, they used guises, gimmicks and Congressional corruption to get the Federal Reserve Act through. Which to this day, remains the engine behind big government, and the welfare/warfare state.

CONCLUSION

There are plenty more subareas that can be covered when discussing such a giant topic as this. But to put it in short, a number of ideological shifts that took hold in the twentieth century, has brought down numerous American and Western principles, mainly the attacks against the Enlightenment and classical liberal ideals. Christian principles are also a target in the modern world, the evidence of this is quite obvious. The Enlightenment was defined by optimism and reason, which influenced the American revolution, the creation of the most free superpower in history. This attitude then led into rugged individualism and the American dream, that any person can rise to the occasion and better themselves in a free society and a free market. This bright optimism has been replaced with pessimism and bitterness that has taken hold of the West. America, child of the enlightenment, must be portrayed as bad. All the actions of America and Europe in the past, must be labeled bad. Christian principles are bad.

Here I will also admit that the term “postmodernism” itself is a tricky thing to define. It has expressions in a number of realms, including art, social science, philosophy, and even architecture. To avoid a bunch of unneeded jargon, it will just be left said that I use the term here broadly, to include bits and pieces from all of them, but mostly to describe a number of shifts in ideas and perception in the twentieth century, and a critique of Enlightenment values. These shifts, I believe, have been for the worse. These attitudes are still very real and very recognizable today. While the attitudes articulated here remain dominant, there will be no solution to immigration, terrorism, race relations, economics, the third world, and the scope of government. Not to say solutions won’t be put forward, but they will be the wrong ones. In the spirit of optimism, it can be said that just as dominant ideas and attitudes changed in the past, they can change again. One can only hope they will be in the direction of a brighter and optimistic future.

Post-modernism is arguably the most depressing philosophy ever to spring from the western mind. It is difficult to talk about post-modernism because nobody really understands it. It’s allusive to the point of being impossible to articulate. But what this philosophy basically says is that we’ve reached an endpoint in human history. That the modernist tradition of progress and ceaseless extension of the frontiers of innovation are now dead. Originality is dead. The avant-garde artistic tradition is dead. All religions and utopian visions are dead and resistance to the status quo is impossible because revolution too is now dead. Like it or not, we humans are stuck in a permanent crisis of meaning, a dark room from which we can never escape.
-Kalle Lasn, “A Malignant Sadness”

4 Responses

  1. I think you would like this article.

    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080714/doctorow

  2. [...] Obama: A Damaging Post-Modernist Posted on July 23, 2008 by fooser I have gone over before, my thoughts about the current direct of the United States during the 1900’s. In that [...]

  3. [...] prosperous places. This is no different for the United States and Europe. Unfortunately, through postmodernism (aka the left’s endless guilt about colonialism), political correctness, and [...]

  4. [...] this fight is unknown. I will attempt to merge two different ideas into one — my belief that postmodernism is the ideology of the ruling class, one that hasn’t ended well for America — and Angelo [...]

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