The West’s Descent Into Madness

If it is possible to watch a society — an entire civilization — go insane, we are watching that phenomenon in real time. Across all forms of media, the headlines bring fresh evidence daily.

Western civilization — that aggregation of cultural, political, social and religious traditions that has formed the basis for European societies and those of their current and former colonies and territories — is committing suicide, using every weapon — philosophical, legal, political — at its disposal.

The fundamental principles of Western civilization are drawn from a variety of sources, including Judeo-Christianity, Greek philosophy, Roman government and British legal theory. Among these principles are a belief in the existence of truth and the ability to discern it; the pursuit of scientific inquiry to elevate man’s understanding of himself and the world; the existence of the nation-state and the rights and duties of citizens; the rule of law and the importance of private property; the value of honesty and integrity; the need for punishment of crime and protection of the innocent, especially children; the primacy of family and the role of parents in the upbringing of children; and — at least in the United States — the balance of liberty and individual responsibility as a necessary precursor to limited government.

Each of these pillars of Western civilization is being undermined, corrupted and hacked down.

Where we once had a society that held science in the highest esteem, we now hear men can become women and vice versa by sheer force of will (whether or not assisted by drugs or surgery). But this is impossible as a matter of chromosomal biology. We once believed women needed distinct, safe spaces for themselves and that they deserved equal opportunities in sports. Now biological males who “identify” as female are permitted to expose themselves to girls and women in bathrooms and locker rooms, and are taking women’s places and awards in sporting events. Anyone who dares raise objections rooted in biology or basic fairness is denounced as a “hater” or a “transphobe.”

We once aspired to the Aristotelian notion of the “city” as a civilizing influence on humanity, a place that “exists for the purpose of living well.” Now our cities are cesspools, literally, with puddles of urine and piles of feces on the sidewalks. Hundreds of thousands of homeless people — many suffering from addiction and mental illness — live in garbage-ridden clusters of ramshackle “tents,” if they have any shelter at all. Citizens who object to the filth, the crime or the public use of drugs are told homeless people have the “right” to live where and as they do, or even that it is more “compassionate” to leave them to their fate.

Criminals, too, are now released back onto the streets without even the need to post bail, where they are free to continue victimizing others, while citizens who defend themselves or others find themselves arrested and prosecuted.

Both private property and the rule of law are under attack. Shoplifting cost retailers more than $100 billion in 2022, and corporations are closing stores in crime-prone areas. The New York Post reported this week that a woman was arrested for changing the locks on a home she inherited from her parents, because “squatters” had moved in more than 30 days prior. And the myriad cases being brought against Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump are shocking examples of conflicts of interest, abuse of process and arguably unconstitutional double standards of selective prosecution by corrupt and partisan attorneys and judges.

Where there was once a societal consensus to protect children from sexually explicit content, schools now include books with pornographic content in their libraries and curricula; teachers discuss their sexual identities and preferences with students; children are encouraged to question or change their “gender identities” without the knowledge or consent of their parents; health care professionals funnel troubled young people into “gender transition” programs, including experimental drugs and irreversible surgeries.

Our federal government does not protect the integrity of our borders or the citizens residing within; it allows millions of people to pour into the country illegally and even sues border states trying to enforce immigration law. Despite the number of American citizens victimized by crimes committed by illegal aliens, the government does nothing.

Worse than all of these — indeed, at the root of all of these — is the abandonment of truth . Without truth, all arguments collapse like sandcastles. But for many of today’s most visible and vocal intellectuals, academic theorists and thought leaders, there is no such thing as objective truth; there is “my truth” and “your truth”; or “power” and “patriarchy” and “class warfare” and “systemic racism” and “heterosexism” and “ableism” and other “isms” that replicate like bacteria.

It took hundreds — if not thousands — of years to create the (largely) safe, civilized, highly technical Western society we presently inhabit. The advancements we enjoy — including peace and prosperity — aren’t “inherent” or inborn; they’re not “human nature” and cannot exist where even a significant minority of people do not know them or subscribe to the values that make them possible. Outsiders can certainly be required to assimilate and conform their behavior to societal standards. But a society browbeaten into self-loathing won’t do that.

Without the pillars to support it, the entire edifice of what we consider Western civilization will collapse, taking every one of its achievements and attributes with it. Those keen to “burn it all down” promise utopia when they are done. But survivors will find themselves instead grubbing through the ashes in brutal and barbaric conditions they thought had been left behind centuries ago for good.

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Laura Hollis

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is a native of Champaign, Illinois. She received her undergraduate degree in English and her law degree from the University of Notre Dame. Hollis' career as an attorney has spanned 28 years, the past 23 of which have been in higher education. She has taught law at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and has nearly 15 years' experience in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship courses, seminars and workshops for multiple audiences. Her scholarly interests include entrepreneurship and public policy, economic development, technology commercialization and general business law. In addition to her legal publications, Hollis has been a freelance political writer since 1993, writing for The Detroit News, HOUR Detroit magazine, and the Christian Post, on matters of politics and culture. She is a frequent public speaker. Hollis has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education. She is married to Jess Hollis, a musician, voiceover artist and audio engineer, and they live in Indiana with their two children, Alistair and Celeste.

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