Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
Western civilization depends on the existence of objective truths. And not just any objective truths. All societies believe in something, but our civilization is unique in forming intellectual systems for discovering truths, objectively determining their validity, and building institutions around them.
That is the genius of western civilization.
America took this genius to its apex with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence, taking government out of the realm of mysticism, away from specialists, and turning it over to the people, guided not by class and title, but by pursuing their own interests with character and virtue.
Today, American government is almost wholly run by specialists, a massive administrative state whose employees are virtually impossible to fire, and an elected class of officials with near universal law degrees, without character or virtue, for the sake of the collective good. As they understand it.
Our institutions are useless and mistrust is universal because we have run out of objective truths. Institutions and intellectual systems don’t function without objective truths. Neither do people.
The Left began its civilizational assault by spreading mistrust in the independence of the individual and the worth of institutions through conspiracy theories about class, gender and then race. It undermined confidence in meritocracy and individual initiative to build support for a takeover of institutions through violent revolution and political agitation so that those institutions would pursue its political goals.
The Declaration of Independence was not just a name. It asserted the independence of nations and individuals within the nation as the best means of assuring their happiness and their interests. The Left is its antithesis, agitating for the collectivization of individuals and nations, the sacrifice of personal interests and individual life, to the greater good of all of humanity, through institutional takeovers.
The politicization of institutions of ideas, especially academic and cultural, poisoned the well of ideas at the source. Unable to challenge our objective truths on their own terms, they went high or low, attacking the structure of reality or demanding that all ideas reflect the problems of society. Often, they did both, arguing, for example, that science is invalid because it’s the work of white men, attacking objective truth through social criticism, insisting that reality is subjective, and therefore unknowable.
Science has since been reinvented as a social criticism conspiracy theory to focus on the environmental apocalypses supposedly caused by capitalism and industry. The same ideological movement that attacks scientific truths for having sprung from insufficiently diverse sources, accuses those who question its politicized advocacy of environmental causes of not believing in science. But if scientific truths are only as valid as the personal makeup of their practitioners, then there is no reason for anyone to accept claims made by those who don’t share their worldview. Truths are either objective. Or they aren’t.
The measure of objectivity is that facts and truths can be verified regardless of worldview. The Left denies the validity of an apolitical objectivity while insisting that its beliefs are objectively true.
The media traded objective journalism for political narratives, and yet insists that any objective person would recognize that its narratives are true. It is convinced of this because of the truth of its beliefs. But embedding your worldview in all institutions, educational, cultural, economic, and political, while using it as the absolute measure of truth, is the antithesis of what made western civilization so successful.
And yet that is what leftist movements have done to America.
Societies require objective truths, objective standards, and objective institutions to function. When these are politicized, no one believes in the truth, standards of conduct collapse, and the institutions that keep a society going are no longer trusted. The politicization of the objective is a virus that spreads mistrust and destroys common ground. Every institution it travels through becomes a factional zombie, using its power, not for the public good, but for a partisan agenda, and destroying trust in its function.
Politicized universities cease educating, and begin indoctrinating, leading to massive mistrust and hostility that cuts off academia from the country at large. Cultural industries exchange the assertion of common values for their own political values. And much of the public tunes out the entertainment industry leading to the collapse of a common culture. Radicals elected to higher office pursue their agendas without regard to the law until the structure of the administrative state becomes the enemy.
Politics is meant to operate within the framework of objective truths, standards, and institutions. When it becomes the truth, the standard, and the institution, then a period of total warfare commences. Politicizing institutions is bad. But when those zombie institutions politicize people, then the zombie apocalypse in which all human values and standards are reduced to a political outcome is upon us.
That zombie apocalypse arrived in the sixties. America has been increasingly overrun by it since.
Our politicized institutions don’t work.
The schools and colleges don’t actually educate anyone. As the rot moves outward from the cultural studies to the scientific ones, our medical and technological prowess will collapse along with the rest. The modern tech pioneers are already often college dropouts. Our last burst of technological progress was built by defectors from academia even as it was being incubated in its universities.
Does anyone seriously believe that the diversity assault on STEM and objective scientific methodology will lead to any future technological revolutions emerging from the universities?
The only parts of government that work to any degree are those where heroic individualism is still possible, the military, emergency services, and some elected offices, because of individuals risking everything to do the right thing. The system, the leadership, and the daily protocols in all these areas are hopelessly broken and in the case of a serious disaster pose an existential threat to our survival.
Just like Communist China, the system is incapable of quickly recognizing a crisis and strategizing to meet it on its own terms, instead of resorting to its hodgepodge of brutality and protocols, filtering the problem through its worldview, dismissing it until it’s no longer able to do so, and then botching it.
Natural disasters, warfare, crime, homelessness, drugs, or diseases: it’s all the same failing cycle.
Major corporations with broken business models and shaky monopolies are going ‘woke’ because they have run out of ideas. And once you’ve run out of ideas, there’s nothing left to do but to go ‘woke’.
The cure begins with recognizing that ‘wokeness’ is the poison in the country’s veins. It’s not just companies. As America goes ‘woke’, we go broke, economically, culturally, and personally. The real ‘brokeness’ is not just financial, though the economic devastation of leftist policies is incalculable, but a cultural bankruptcy, deep institutional failures, and a civilizational collapse of values and standards.
The Left bet our entire civilization on its vision of how things should be. Like the USSR and other Communist countries, not to mention Bernie’s democratic socialist nations, nothing works as it should. The plans, as Elizabeth Warren could tell you after her defeat, never go according to plan. The more the system controls everyday life through its institutions, the fewer people trust the system and its institutions. Individuals become untrustworthy, communities collapse into neighborhoods of suspicious strangers, and the very notions of truth, honesty, and integrity become laughably naïve delusions.
This is, in one form or another, how life is lived in much of the world. America was better. It can be again. The virtuous society has fallen leaving pockets of virtuous communities and individuals.
Changing that requires faith and truth.
The Left is what people believe in when they no longer believe in anything else. It swallows up everything, our society, our beliefs, and our institutions, with nothing to offer beyond its promises. Once there is no longer anything external to struggle against because it controls everything, it cycles through purges, and slowly rots in its own corruption until an internal rebellion or external attack kills it.
Like every virus, leftist politics cease to have any meaning once the host is dead. But once the host is dead, the death of the zombie is no longer enough to bring the country and its society back to life.
Conservatives fight to conserve, not because we can turn back the clock to 1950, 1889, or any other past that has passed, but to conserve the form, the values and the truth of a society worth living in. Only a society worth living is a society is worth fighting for. And the only such society is one of free people.
Our fundamental difference with the political enemies of America is their belief that a society makes people good, whereas we know that people make a society good. Their every experiment at building utopia by seizing control of society has produced the same miserable results that prove that truth.
The Left wrecked America by trying to control its institutions and use them to brainwash its people. The ultimate defeat of that movement will only come when institutions no longer control people, but people once again control institutions, and when the ideas those institutions controlled are set free.
Only free people can reclaim objective truths, and celebrate beauty and virtue once more.