I was intrigued to read an article with this title in Taki's Magazine. Here's an excerpt.
The cause of civilizational decline is dirt-simple: lack of contact with objective reality. The great banker-journalist (and founder of the original National Review) Walter Bagehot said it well almost 150 years ago:
History is strewn with the wrecks of nations which have gained a little progressiveness at the cost of a great deal of hard manliness, and have thus prepared themselves for destruction as soon as the movements of the world gave a chance for it.
Every great civilization reaches a point of prosperity where it is possible to live your entire life as a pacifist without any serious consequences. Many civilizations have come to the state of devolution represented by modern Berkeley folkways, from wife-swapping to vegetarianism. These ideas don’t come from a hardscrabble existence in contact with nature’s elemental forces; they are the inevitable consequence of being an effete urban twit removed from meaningful contact with reality. The over-civilized will try to portray their decadence as something “highly evolved” and worthy of emulation because it can only exist in the hothouse of highly civilized urban centers, much like influenza epidemics. Somehow these twittering blockheads missed out on what the word “evolution” means. Evolution involves brutal and often violent natural selection, and these people have not been exposed to brutal evolutionary forces any more than a typical urban poodle.
. . .
Men who have fought know how difficult it is to stand against the crowd and that civilization is fragile and important. A man who has experienced violence knows that, at its core, civilization is an agreement between men to behave well. That agreement can be broken at any moment; it’s part of manhood to be ready when it is. Men who have been in fights know about something that is rarely spoken of without snickering these days: honor. Men who have been in fights know that, on some level, words are just words: At some point, words must be backed up by deeds.
. . .
Modern “civilized” males don’t get in fistfights. They don’t play violent sports. They play video games and, at best, watch TV sports. Modern males are physical and emotional weaklings. The ideal male isn’t John Wayne or James Bond or Jimmy Stewart anymore. It’s some crying tit that goes to a therapist, a sort of agreeable lesbian with a dick who calls the police (whom he hates in theory) when there is trouble.
There's more at the link.
I'm not sure that I altogether agree with the author. My own life experience has shown me that one doesn't have to be a rootin' tootin' fist-fightin' man to be strong. Examples:
- The missionary priest in Africa who faced down a mob of armed guerillas intent on committing murder, rape and robbery upon his flock. He shamed them by standing in the middle of the road in his priestly robes, calling the ones he knew by name, reminding them of their naughtiness as little children in his Catechism classes, and asking them whether they really wanted to harm their younger brothers and sisters. They decided they didn't, and slunk off with their metaphorical tails between their legs.
- Two sisters who were gang-raped while trying to help the victims of violence in an African township. They returned to the same township as soon as they had recovered from their injuries. When the locals couldn't believe that they'd be so foolish as to risk the same treatment again, they said simply that God had commanded them to forgive those who persecuted them; so they had done so, and would not report them to the police, but would continue to help those who needed them. This so shamed the thugs who'd raped them that they had to leave town. They didn't dare show their faces there again.
- Courage takes many forms. Consider the courage shown by Sabra and Erik in the birth and death of their latest child, about which I wrote on Saturday. If that's not courage of a very high order indeed, I don't know what is . . .
On the other hand, I do agree with the author that 'civilizational decline', as he puts it, tends to be associated with a 'wussification' of that civilization. Conscription was the first sign of this; there were not enough volunteers to defend a nation, so its citizens had to be coerced. Later, that developed into the much smaller volunteer armies we see today. They are no longer representative of the vast majority of their fellow citizens, many of whom would rather flee across the border than face up to military service. As Robert Heinlein famously put it in his 'Notebooks of Lazarus Long':
No state has an inherent right to survive through conscript troops and, in the long run, no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons: “Come back with your shield, or on it.” Later on this custom declined. So did Rome.
I've noticed the difference in my own friends and acquaintances. Those who've willingly put their lives on the line for their countries, or to defend their loved ones in dangerous situations, have a different way of looking at the world than those who haven't. That's not to condemn the latter at all, you understand. It's just that once one's had to face up to the reality of 'kill or be killed', to quote the old aphorism, it changes you. You're never the same person again.
What do you think, readers? What counter-arguments would you offer, if any? Read the whole article, then let us know in Comments.