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And yet, despite the distinct advantages and technological marvels with which we are blessed, we have sunk so deeply into a morass of ignorance, caprice, nihilism, self-reference and moral relativism that we have come to resemble poet Seamus Heaney’s bog people, perfectly preserved, humanly recognizable—and mentally inert. Which is only another way of saying that we have become, or at any rate, far too many of us have become, useful (as well as useless) idiots, fossilized in a viscous parti pris and proficient in nothing so much as the propagation and reception of utter nonsense.
The sag and collapse is to be seen everywhere we turn our gaze—in the partisan and unprincipled media, our defective political institutions, the entitlement industry, electoral superficiality visible in the excrescences we too often tend to put into power, the proliferation of social “movements” lobbying for ethnic prerogatives at the expense of the common weal, the debased and obsolete feminist sorority, the increasingly compromised university and, to top it off, the Global Warming scam, perhaps the greatest hoax of the modern era to delude a gullible public—the list goes on.
The state of ignorance and self-deception from which the West now suffers may lead, in short historical order, to its terminal subsidence. In the volatile and explosive world we live in today, our lack of scrupulous attention and dearth of wisdomly awareness promises a sinister eschatology. While we fiddle in our broken universities, regard our so-called “leading minds” with misplaced respect and get our knowledge of current events from venal journalists and shallow late-show comedians, a determined, Hydra-headed enemy, whether in the form of a secular autocracy or a theological imperium, advances a tyrannical agenda. And we are letting it happen.
Fortunately, there is a small but growing class of genuine thinkers and scholars, chiefly of a conservative bent, who have signposted the way forward. Acknowledging where we have arrived and the predicament we have gotten ourselves into is a first step, but we cannot stop there. Following the example of our intellectual cicerones, we need rather desperately to apply ourselves regardless of the constraints of everyday life, to re-learn patience and to invest time, to stop lying to ourselves, to familiarize ourselves with our history rather than to spuriously narrativize it, and to study works that have been honestly and amply researched and whose findings, with a little persistence, we can verify for ourselves. For we have the instruments of confirmation at our disposal.
Chameleons, trimmers, ideologues, dogmatists, schemers, cowards, scamps, bloviators, nitwits and nincompoops are par for the course in the Age of Dissimulation. They swarm in unprecedented numbers. This is so conspicuously the case that it remains a wonder how we manage to pretend otherwise. But sooner rather than later, we must learn to see the camarilla of “progressive” editors, pundits, politicians, clerics, humanities profs and university bred “experts” as the buffoons so many of them are. Indeed, they are rather like the exhibit of Rhodesian Man we meet in Martin Cruz Smith’s Gorky Park, “trying to concentrate without a forehead.” This is not a nice thing to say but that doesn’t make it any less true.
The truth is that there is such a thing as truth. And, unpalatable as it may sometimes appear to us, we must find the courage to recognize it, honor it, and ultimately to tell it.
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