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Christopher Jolliffe explores the profound sense of decline permeating the West — from the dismantling of society’s active virtues to the unrealistic hopes pinned on posthumanism.

“The active virtues of society were dismantled,” said Gibbon on the decline of Western Rome. He continued,

Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the cause of the destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and, as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight.

Our own sense of decline is tangible, wherever in the West you might live. You feel it when you wake up in the morning; you sense it in the demeanour of the people you meet. This is not a society that enjoys a sure future. All our greatness is behind us, and we are not even permitted to love that. The past is wicked; the present revolutionary; the future frightening. Few are confident. The “stupendous fabric” is crashing under its own weight, but none of those pillars were removed by accident.

One panacea to palpable decline is the vague promise of posthumanism, something unattainable yet attractive to a generation who feel severed from everything. Brian Johnson, a tech-billionaire who imbibes blood to stay young, declares that the future will have no norms, that a multi-ethnic generation will head into a future without a past. Such fantasies are not serious. Time continues in linear fashion. From Soviet Man to the Metaverse, all attempts to reengineer the human condition end in failure. These failures sometimes lead to mountains of corpses, but this rarely dampens enthusiasm for the next experiment. The Boomer generation were detached from historical imperatives by the success of the American Dream, the ultimate liberal fantasy; an unwary Zoomer generation will have their detachment completed by technological promises like those made by Mephistopheles to Faust.

This might be a mere reflection on the passage of time in Gibbon’s take, our age being one of unrelenting technological rapidity that unmoors everything as surely as a riptide. But it is made existential by the ticking timebombs imported into Western countries, a decision deliberately made. These dangers are not only forthright terrorism or crime, though nobody fancies being blown up or mugged. The dangers are psychic before they are physical.

The example of propositional American civic nationalism without historic Americans is Liberia, where General Butt Naked commanded levies of drug-addled children who ate the flesh of their enemies.

The other panacea is a political one. To compensate for the decline of the traditional nation-state — an entity no longer wed to nation — elites in the postmodern West push toward a deracinated globalised consumer culture that threatens to create beings hardly human, one that must be manifested in every Western state. But humanity is not elastic. Constructivists overestimate their power and existentialists the limits of human imagination. That we argue about human nature at all indicates we have forgotten ourselves. Into this amnesia a new sort of being, the project of every modern, is imagined.

At this the predictable people cheer. For them the past is trampling horsemen and hateful rulers and enserfed masses. Their prime mover is a quasi-spiritual pride that would make Lucifer blush. They have the right and obligation to remake man and the world in which he lives. Despite this desire to make everything one and the same, they suspect that the Monad is not really possible, that people will retain some identity, some point of reference prior to themselves. To sustain this multi-everything world of total pluralism, the truth can find no hearing; all must be relative to validate the peculiarities of the divided masses, whether to secure electoral blocks or to prevent civil strife. If this alone was the price of multiculturalism, it would still be too steep a cost. Those who rang the alarm, before the banners ever looked as though they would be raised, saw precisely this.

More corporeally, we have no firm basis for nationhood or citizenship any longer, and our countries reflect all the emergent difficulties of anti-kultur. The example of propositional American civic nationalism without historic Americans is Liberia, where General Butt Naked commanded levies of drug-addled children who ate the flesh of their enemies. The Great Gatsby immortalised The Rise of the Colored Empires (in fact, The Rising Tide of Color by Lothrop Stoddard) by placing its words in the mouth of the villain Tom Buchanan. To an extent, this is a travelled road. Governments in the United States and Australia saw unrestrained immigration as a mortal threat and applied the brakes in the 1920s. There is no sense of such stewardship today. Mortal threats are welcome to sweep away the old.

To compensate for the collapse of identities once organic and naturally formed, our nations require reinvention, something already well underway. What this reinvention entails, once the Boomer has gone, the Millennial middle-aged, and the Zoomer attaining maturity, is unlikely to be good for the descendants of the generation who inherited a West at its high-water mark. The electoral numbers will see to that. At best they will be disprivileged; at worst they will be pogromed.

Those who arrived here in the last seventy years were willing to place their fates and futures into the hands of Western countries, which ultimately means white people. Whatever else they say about the evilness of white people, they’d rather live here than elsewhere; they trusted themselves to our systems of government, of law, of social organisation and civil society. They can make arguments about colonialism despoiling their homes and whatever else they like — or perhaps merely view us as easy rubes — but the truth is in the thing. They are here. They trust us, and the societies we built.

What will happen when this is reversed, and historical nations find themselves in the hands of foreign peoples in their own countries? The data is skewed by the Boomers, who are on the way out, and the millions arriving annually across the West are their replacements. The Boomer, by his vote, has sealed this with his approval. He’d rather leave his country to strangers than his own descendants. This is the price of uncritical liberal universalism. Is such trust likely to be reciprocated?

Sceptics note that our metic classes remain friendly only while they need to be. Read the rhetoric; vanguard elements, the element that matters, have been saying what they think for a decade or more. Criminal elements enjoy the largesse of sympathetic legal systems; more upstanding individuals are uninvested either way. Others are sympathetic to the West, and view themselves as Westerners; for them this may be a tragedy almost as great. It may be their own half-integrated compatriots, rather than the hypothetical Nazis we’re always hearing about, who declare that this can never be so. For those of any shade who reject this postmodern formulation, but do not share the same ethnos, an understanding may be reached.

Historically, this understanding was bound by fidelity to a King, an Emperor, or to God. These pillars no longer exist. The flabby alternatives proposed to solidify national cohesion have changed unrecognisably in the last two decades. They cannot hold firm to anything because they are entirely invented and prone to sudden reinvention. The America of 2000 is a different beast to the America of 2024; the pillars shapeshifted, most rapidly under the Obama administration.

A consensus of reaction, possible because the truth is available to everyone, might suffice. But reactionaries are always a minority, and our soggy multiculturalism is unlikely to encourage this. Instead the rhetoric will become shriller in tandem with its ineffectiveness. We will further acquiesce to lies about observable reality, something we’ve already accepted as normal.

Many will see that in the avoidance of one sort of catastrophe — one premise of Boomer multiculturalism to begin with — its repeat has been made inevitable. Those same sorts, otherwise very reasonable, may be disinterested in societal negotiation, no matter how positive their personal relations with people with unpronounceable surnames. Friendships that cross ethnic lines will become strained and difficult, as they have always been in many places. Westerners might belatedly recognise the benefits of home and hearth and the folly of unlimited hospitality.

This will be a sad time. Those of goodwill, on any side, will find themselves pulled in directions they are unlikely to enjoy. The sons and daughters of migrants must square an impossible circle, one not of their own making and bracketed by genuine resentment, rather than the imagined sort we read about today. Into this uncertainty will emerge fresh promises of racial revolution, promises some will find intoxicating.

This will be hastened by a freshly multipolar world skirmishing in earnest. The loyalties of the Chinese and Indian diasporas are uncertain. Human nature being what it is, many will back the stronger horse. The civic nationalism of our times is anaemic and adversarial to any show of genuine nation pride — the sort of pride that might convince the uncertain — lest it derail the project into which today’s man is expected to step. We cannot love the flag or God because they are reminders of the old. Each individual must decide which horse to back when the great liberal project proves obviously false.

…deep down Westerners still believe themselves colonials, who can laugh about restless natives, even when they live next door.

The stronger horse is not the present iteration of white identity, if we even concede such a thing exists. It is weepy and feminised and self-denying. It pretends to a broader universal identity, entirely propositional and based on Enlightenment principles, and not even skin deep. “It’s entirely ideational,” they cry, whether classical liberal or avowed progressive, scandalised by any notion of blood and soil. Anybody can be us; thus we are nobody. We might have forgotten who we are, but others have not.

This unlovable post-national propositional identity is under siege and unlikely to demonstrate much further fortitude. Among its most fervent attackers is the white intelligentsia itself. Such types are fifth-columns who double as pillars of hubris. They feel so secure in their position they campaign against it, which makes them hypocrites as well as fools. The complacent Westerner who watches on might get a little outraged, but only a little, because like those half-serious fifth-columns he still believes the societal consensus he grew up with can survive anything.

He doesn’t realise things are closer to the Rhodesian 1960s than the American 1960s. In the wake of a year of anarcho-tyrannic rapine and pillage, majority-white America voted for Joe Biden, a man who declared white supremacy the greatest threat to the country. The institutions are firmly anti-white, in a time when whites compose that majority. What then when whites do not?

Today many treat this very real possibility with complacency, because deep down Westerners still believe themselves colonials, who can laugh about restless natives, even when they live next door. Indulging white guilt seemed mild enough when the burden was easy and the yoke was light. More than anything else it is a failure of imagination and a disregard for history, two things the liberal mind has perfected. The age of Aquarius is always on the verge of arrival. And the Boomer, who wants to keep his real estate portfolio growing until he expires, thinks no further than those numbers.

Sociologically we can look forward to the total collapse of our remaining societal cohesion and further descent into the post-competency, post-merit world we already see emerging. Likely it will be civil conflict, manifesting as internal cold war with moments of violent flare, as groups manoeuvre for advantage as increasingly oppressive and dysfunctional state apparatuses neurotically try to keep a lid on things. Less cynical architects hope that such conflict will be a non-event, because Kant’s World Republic will arrive and everybody will define themselves by consumer choices and pronouns and bands they like and we’ll all hold hands together and sing Taylor Swift. What remains of national sentiment will be expressed only in the safe arena of international sport.

I doubt it, and so do they. A confident ruling class does not build bunkers on remote islands. Unscrupulous people will see power and leverage; they already do. This is the world that emerged while the Boomers were asleep, and from this world the dominance of the West, which has held for five hundred years, will continue to slide beneath the waves. Our state of spiritual drudgery will further degenerate, and anything that uplifts the soul or seeks God will find such existence anathema. Into this world we must prepare to contend.

To prepare one must gird mind and body. He must exercise and read old books to marinate himself in that which preceded him. This will provide the means to push against the disconnection that colours everything else, one that feeds on the mental and physical apathy the current ethos encourages. He must lift his eyes skyward and resist the easy traps that our culture lays everywhere, including those that privilege the satiation of appetite above all else. He must seek out family and like-minds in the flesh, and avoid the isolation that the simulacrum of the online world creates. It is impossible to predict what exactly this world will demand of him, other than that it will demand a lot. Eventually he will need to act, but he will also need to think. Most importantly, he will need to think before he acts.

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Christopher Jolliffe

Christopher Jolliffe resides in Australia, where he teaches philosophy. He writes for various publications, including mainstream conservative journals and magazines, who believe they are not liberal.

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