The dysfunctional nature of modern popular culture (and therefore, society) has been an open secret for decades, even while the process accelerates. (It is perhaps more correct to say the process is accelerated.) It is less and less hidden, and the more publicly proclaimed (and accepted), the more the warped and twisted nature is hailed as the desired state of society.
A serious accusation, and one which should definitely be challenged, you say? I completely agree.
Let’s dig in.
America has never lived up to our ideals, even though there are times we came close. And there have always been very deeply dark threads in society. People today do not recall the deep evil of the Alien and Sedition Acts and how John Adams both changed and then betrayed his own personal actions. In other words, he was corrupted. (And we can point out exactly the same thing about the deified George Washington, and his actions in the Whiskey Rebellion. Or the sainted Thomas Jefferson’s quasi-constitutional actions in acquiring Louisiana.)
The litany could continue, including the aborted (in more than one way) invasion of Upper Canada in the 1812-1815 war, the betrayal and forced deportation of the Cherokee and other southeastern tribes, and the events in New Mexico during the US occupation prior to purchase and annexation. All well before the tragic behavior of the War between the States.
I do not want to dwell on the errors, the sins, of the past. Americans as a people have often missed the mark. But we generally have tried to live up to our ideals. Even though we sometimes deluded ourselves as to what those ideals were, and why what we did (or wanted to do) furthered our efforts to achieve them.
Americans actually refined their ideals as time went on – most of us today do not comprehend the national debate over the treatment of the Plains and Western tribes between 1865 and 1900. Nor the bitter debate over Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Taking place at the same time as the growing power of collective bargaining was being refined (before being warped by the consolidation of unions in response to the Fedgov-sponsored cartels and monopolies), American ideals of freedom, liberty, and equality of opportunity enlarged to accomplish more.
Even as the American understanding and application of the paleo-liberal ideals of liberty and freedom grew, certain elements of American society and government actually opposed those with greater efforts. But more importantly, they began to corrupt those ideals. Although it is common to attribute the so-called moral decay of American society to the 1920s (and therefore blame the Great War), it is fairly simple to trace that corruption to the 1890s – and even to the post-War domination of the GOP in the North – and the effects in the South. It was this culture that produced Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and many other lesser-known “Progressives.”
We cannot go into depth on that subject, so I will make the unsupported claim that this stream of infection in both political and social spheres goes back to the ‘48ers who escaped from Europe’s failed socialist revolutions and established the Republican Party. The rejection of various fundamentals of American morality, economics, and social interaction followed: by the effective end of WW1, the planted seeds were all sprouted. More and more people in these States rejected traditional freedoms and liberties, for more and more superstitions, especially related to government and democracy, and leading to socialism. And liberty was twisted into license by these “pushers” of these ideas.
Although this is definitely in need of further discussion, let me briefly summarize the last century. In the aftermath of the Great War and the 1918-1919 Pandemic, society became rapidly more and more dysfunctional. This was interrupted (in some ways) by the Great Depression – in large part caused by a dysfunctional society and the manipulations and actions of the pushers. And further disrupted by the six years of WW2 (again, as much a result of conspiracy and manipulation as of stupidity: just like WW1). But at the same time, the wars furthered the negative impacts on society and massively aided the power of government and other institutions. The decline of society picked up pace because of and after the war. There are many causes.
The real turning point came in the 1960s with the coming to power of the war orphans (people who had no fathers at home for 4-5 years or longer) and coming of age of the baby-boomers. All mentored by second or third generation of pushers, now controlling education and media. Attacks on morality and self-discipline and self-sufficiency ramped up. These are all key elements of individual human liberty. And of a free society.
Since then, there has been a steady decline in the ability of our society, our system, to function – resulting in massive loss of freedoms for all of us. Yes, there have been a few (very few) bright spots. But many of these are necessary from the point of view of the pushers: to push their ideas and poison community, they recognize (at least temporarily) some “expansion” of human rights. Even when people use those liberties to resist. (Temporary: in the last twenty years and especially in the last two the iron gauntlets are more and more visible.)
The result? A society in which there is less liberty, less responsibility, less real education (practical or conceptual), less civility, less cohesion, less trust. A society in which there is more abuse, more crime (reported less – after all, why bother?), more apathy, and more despair. Not everywhere – but overall, in the Fifty States, the deterioration is obvious.
The solution? Teach liberty and live it: teach your children and grandchildren, and live like free people. And prepare for the collapse of the present system, for it will not survive its own success.