Americanthinker says it like it is…FACT

Did  you happen to catch the end of civilization on TV last week?

The  2012 U.S. election will likely be judged by men thousands of years hence as a  world historical event, on a par with the Peloponnesian War, the assassination  of Julius Caesar, the Copernican Revolution or the Battle of Waterloo. If this  seems hyperbolic to you, that is probably because we have never seen an  epoch-making moment quite like this one. For this is perhaps the first time history has been “fundamentally transformed,” if you will, by an  electoral majority.

Consider,  first of all that although democracy, in any recognizable sense, began in Greece  2500 years ago, it also died in Greece 2300 years ago. Subsequently, it existed  only rarely and in very limited forms throughout most of the centuries prior to  the modern era. General elections of the modern sort, then, in which governing  bodies and policies are broadly chosen or altered by public vote, actually have  a very short cumulative history.

Furthermore,  consider that we usually judge the ultimate significance of elections in  retrospect, rather than in anticipation. We speculate, for example, on how  different America, and consequently the world, might have been had Abraham Lincoln not been elected in 1860, or Ronald Reagan  in 1980. Events that unfolded after the  election cause us to wax philosophical about things that might have been, just  as we can wonder how the modern world might have evolved had Shakespeare never  taken up writing. But rarely if ever has the election itself, rather than its  aftermath, been the historically defining moment.

In  addition, most democratic elections are limited in their primary significance to  the nation that is voting. The election of Margaret Thatcher and the  Conservative Party, for example, had international ramifications of great  import, but these were nevertheless merely byproducts of Thatcher’s significance  as the melody of Britain’s swan song, a once-great nation’s last dalliance with  reason and righteousness.

In  general, even the most important elections in the histories of nations have  lacked the defining characteristics of those temporal events that we normally  regard as being of world historical relevance. Such events may be seen, at least  with benefit of hindsight, as having essentially altered the trajectory of  civilization (for better or worse), which is to say that the times that followed  cannot properly be understood at all independently of those monumental,  redirecting moments. Once again, actions taken in the aftermath of democratic  elections have occasionally had this kind of importance; elections themselves  have not.

The  election of November 6, 2012 was different. It was, as I haveargued, a referendum on the principles of modern  civilization itself, and a referendum which, for very concrete reasons, was a  world event.

At  the core of modern civilization is, or was, the project of practical freedom —  the effort to build societies consistent with the principle of ethical  individualism. From the Platonic-Aristotelian conception of the individual  rational soul, to the Gnostic divine spark, to the Christian emphasis on  individual salvation, to Thomas Aquinas’ injunction that human law must respect man’s spiritual need for  earthly freedom to choose virtue, to Locke’s natural rights — from all of this,  and more, evolved a central theme of modern civilization, the effort to  establish a society fully respectful of the dignity of the individual human  being.

This  was modernity, and America was the highest practical manifestation of its  spirit. Flaws, blind spots, missteps, and squandered opportunities  notwithstanding, America came closest to realizing the specifically modern hope  of a society rooted in the rights of man. What it may have sacrificed in the  appreciation of legitimate distinctions of merit among human types, it gained in  the humane principle that, in practical political terms, no man ought to be  regarded as essentially subject to the will of any other.

Contrary  to the reactionary snobbery of contemporary European fops, this trade-off was  not evidence of America’s inferiority, but rather the deliberate fulfillment of  the project of the greatest modern minds, and their greatest Renaissance  forerunners (all Europeans, by the way), namely the project of building a civil  society in a firm foundation of practical reason. In this society, by intention,  there would be room for the theoretical and spiritual life, but not at the  expense of the freedom of all men to pursue the means to their own  practical well-being.

All  of which brings us back with a crash to November 6. For decades now, the  remainder of the Western world has forsaken that great modern project. The basic  idea of individual liberty, meaning the combined notions of natural rights,  self-determination, individualism, and the pursuit of earthly happiness, is no  longer an animating principle in the governing processes of any other nation on  Earth. Whatever practical freedom remains in other countries is tolerated merely  as a matter of pragmatic economic policy (it creates wealth), or as a ploy to  palliate civil unrest. (This latter goal is made explicit in the UN’s “World  Happiness Report,” which blithely opines that the masses can be quelled by maintaining  institutions which promulgate the “feeling of freedom” — regardless of whether  they actually produce the real thing.)

Only  in America, then, has individual freedom remained an explicit founding  principle, and a moral ground of society. What this means, in historical terms,  is that the entire thrust of modernity, from its pre-modern roots to its  defining achievements, has evaporated from every political corner of the planet  (though still residing, of course, in the hearts of some men) with one glorious,  desperate exception. America’s increasing cultural isolation in recent decades  is directly attributable to this: the rest of Western civilization has turned  away from modernity’s noble heritage, and has long been striding “forward” into  a new Dark Age — not into a more ancient conception of man, but into a  prehistoric one. To state the intended outcome, we may assign a suitable name:  brutalism.

The  forces of this late modern brutalism have been at work in America for a long  time, and have, of course, scored many victories small and large. The beast has  slowly eaten away most of the meat of America’s educational establishment,  artistic vision, material treasure and moral virtue, leaving little but an  insubstantial fare of fat and gristle.

This  gradual devouring of America, against the brave resistance of an intransigent  conservative minority, brought her to a climactic moment. At last, all the cards  were on the table. In 2008, the nation had, for the first time, elected as its  president a man whose calls to join the anti-modern drive  “forward” were explicit and unequivocal. His ideas were Marxist in origin; his  mentors — childhood, adult, and professional — were communists, Islamists, anti-Semites,  racists, sexual deviants, terrorists, and plain kooks. All attempts to explain  2008 away as a mere mistake, a pitiful self-inflicted wound deriving from a  twisted desire to overcome residual collective guilt, rested on the next  presidential election, the election of 2012.

Obama  repeatedly and consistently enjoined Americans to reject their most cherished  notions, and their moral traditions: the self-made man, he argued, was a lie and  a moral outrage (“You didn’t build that”); the wealthy have no logical claim to  the product of their achievement (“shared prosperity”), and ought to be seen as  the enemy of the people, refusing to “pay the same tax rate as their  secretaries”; freedom of religion, he demanded, must be sacrificed to the new  goal of subsidized sexual promiscuity; and the most primal premise of America’s  and modernity’s political project, the right to self-preservation, must be  renounced in the name of egalitarian healthcare.

All  of this was placed before the American voting public in the fall of 2012. None  of it was concealed by the leftist media — this was, in fact, the official,  media-assisted platform of the Democrats and their dear leader during the  election campaign. Class warfare, anti-individualism (“you didn’t get there on  your own”), redistributive justice, and the devaluation of human life — the  policy essence of European post-Marxist socialism — was on trial in the land of  the free, the land of milk and honey, the land of immigrants from impoverished  and oppressed nations who came seeking refuge and opportunity.

For  the first time in America’s history, a major party had been bold enough to make  its challenge to the basic premise of America herself — freedom — the central  issue in the election. It should not have been close.

And  it was not close: Obama’s invitation to complete the dismantling of America won  the day by a landslide. It was not just the sixty million who voted for him. It  was also the even larger number of eligible voters who did not vote at all.  Whether by active vote or passive consent, more than two thirds of eligible U.S.  adults chose to join the march to nothingness.

But  in light of the fact that America was the last nation standing in modernity’s  long struggle to achieve practical political freedom for mankind, those  Americans were speaking for all of us, everywhere. They were choosing, not only  for their own future, but for all those whose nations no longer give them a  voice on the question of liberty. The question in this grand, final referendum  was, in short, “Will mankind continue to keep one candle burning for  modernity?”

Thus,  we can say, without a scintilla of hyperbole, that on November 6, 2012, America  elected to end modern civilization. Not all Americans chose it, to be sure. But  such is the nature of democratic elections, once they have become unmoored from  limiting principles. Once America put aside (small-r) republican considerations  of constitutionality in government, and set out on the long march to mob rule —  call it the welfare state, socialism, or what have you — this moment was almost  preordained. It was bound to come to this.

The  stakes could not have been higher or more straightforward: freedom or coercion,  individualism or collectivism, modern civilization or uncivilized brutalism.  America, meaning her voting and abstaining majority, chose the latter option in  each case.

In  simple terms, on November 6, America joined the rest of the lost world in  declaring once and for all that private property is an illusion. The product of  a man’s labor does not rightfully belong to him, which means his labor itself —  his time and effort — does not belong to him, which means his life does not  belong to him. Modernity’s project is nullified. Milton, Locke, Swift, Diderot,  Montesquieu, Jefferson and all the rest — obliterated at the ballot  box.

What  comes next remains to be seen, and to be fought for by the minority of us who  are unwilling to accede to this mindless rush to barbarism. But for now, as of  November 6, self-ownership, also known as individual sovereignty, is dead on  this planet. Men are not free.

No  election can rescind that truth, until the conditions that brought the world to  this sad outcome have begun to be undone. We have a lot of work to do, and the  clock is ticking, because victorious oppression has a way of accelerating  exponentially with each little triumph.

Brutalism’s  political empire is now, for the first time in many centuries, universal — and  the chief brutalists know it. They will not tarry in forging ahead with  long-delayed measures to suffocate the last twitches of hope out of those who  see what has happened, and refuse to surrender to it.

With  perfect, nearly poetic irony, modern civilization was ended by popular vote. If  you cannot accept this — if you are like the Republican Party establishment,  the Washington pundits, and all others in whom the balm of incrementalism has  produced the intellectual and moral paralysis of disbelief — then you are of no  use to us now. Get out of our way.

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