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Counter Culture Has Failed; Can We Try Culture Yet?

May 16, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

Both Fr. James Schall, SJ, and our very own Christopher Manion have written about the concept of America’s impending revolution (The Wanderer, May 10, p. 1) — in short, the prospects of a leftist revolution right here at home.
I am saddened to report that the revolution has already occurred. Not only have we lost, but we lost in tremendous numbers with generations of casualties.
Some might say it began with the 1968 counterculture movement, but in truth we all know it began far earlier than this. Veterans returning home from post-Second World War Europe, perhaps? The rise of beatnik culture, the advent of existentialism in the works of thinkers such as Derrida, Camus, and Foucault, and last but certainly not least the prospect of nuclear annihilation at any chosen moment without warning. Nihilism — this idea that nothing matters — crept in to our culture at the precise same time that dialectical materialism had conquered Eastern Europe and began infecting sociology and economics departments throughout the West.
True, there were some rearguard actions. Richard Weaver and the Southern agrarians tried, but industrialization and the New South were by then far too dominant. Russell Kirk attempted to remind us that for all our economy, our souls demanded our first attentions. William F. Buckley Jr. staked out an intellectual homestead at National Review. Patrick J. Buchanan was perhaps the last of the desperados — his admonishment of republicanism over imperialism fell on deaf ears as the so-called end of history ushered in the Pax Americana. We stood athwart history yelling stop, and the train of the revolution rolled right over top of us.
More than anywhere else, the institutions that kept us free were either whittled away or entirely conquered as the occupational forces of bureaucrats and left-wing intolerance crept in. As liberal demands for free speech transformed into progressive demands for “good speech,” the institutions surrendered one by one. Press, schools, the military, churches, local governments, unions, and diplomats all yielded to the Fabian operators.
How successful was this operation? Take a sane culture and fast forward to now. Abortion on demand. Marriage redefined by the state and the Christian position defined as hate speech. College campuses rejecting the principle of free speech and free inquiry. Catholic priests and bishops refusing to defend family and life for fear of losing government funding. Parents denied the right to educate their children (as we have seen in California).
Since 1973, an estimated 55 million babies have been exterminated in no small part by a eugenics operation — Planned Parenthood — that not only celebrates its victories but sell the body parts of little babies on the open market as a butcher would have done in a bygone era.
Worse still, the children that survive the gauntlet that has become their own mother’s womb discover very quickly that totalitarianism doesn’t come through Orwell’s Big Brother, but from the tiny doses of soma that Huxley warned about — if such books are read as warnings rather than as manuals today.
Rather than control, we choose to mindlessly entertain ourselves to death much like rats who feed themselves drugs rather than feed their children. Public schools and cable television raise our children. Those who do not conform are medicated. Those who don’t quite fit are institutionalized, imprisoned, or have their jobs shipped overseas. Those who do conform go to a university, test well, and then are shocked to learn that the economy doesn’t need more “queer studies” majors — so they protest the system that created them by demanding bigger and better nurseries.
In short, we gave up.
I have long argued that if we as conservatives — that is, those of us who seek to conserve the good, beautiful, and true — believed what we believe as much as the petty tyrants and adolescent libertines believe what they believe, the last 50 years would be a moot point.
And so the revolution is over. The socialist left has won; all else is a mop-up operation. Family — that last refuge of Popes and priests — is quickly being surrendered and abrogated to accommodate the Church of the cult of now; a more fashionable and approachable institution rather than the Catholicism that stands upon the Rock of St. Peter.
Yet much as happened with our friends in Eastern Europe, the socialist operators could only keep the plates spinning for so long. There is a reason why government is the “god that fails” — and when the left creates even bigger failures through excessive spending or screams bloody murder as they are kicked out of their high church (see: Trump), they only multiply their fatal flaw.
The left doesn’t need a revolution. As the politics of left and right yield to the politics of black (space and technology) and green (agrarianism and localism), within that crux remains the confidence that human beings, though shaped by environments both artificial and natural, remain true to the God-given DNA of thousands of years. Tradition, that great democracy of the dead that Chesterton spoke so highly of, continues to confirm the true, beautiful, and good.
For one, the haze of counterculture is reaching its final act, and it truly is as silly as it appears. When the curtains close and the lights turn back on, it will remain to those of us who are not trapped by the spectacle of the world to pass on in small ways the seeds of tradition and culture. Whether that is found in liturgy, poetry, prose or just plain old good habits is for us to discern.
But especially for those of us who are grandparents — not that I am one or even close, but because I gained such a great deal from my own despite the counterculture — those of us who remember reality can still pass forward a better way of living. The counterculture has caught a case of stupid; let it diminish and let an authentic faith take its place.

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On May 25, the Republic of Ireland (the free part, anyhow) will be voting on a referendum to repeal the constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which specifically bans abortion and protects the right of children. Planned Parenthood has paid to send dozens of Antifa goons and agitators under a deafening media blackout that is presenting the defeat of the amendment as a sine qua non.
As terrifying as the conspiracy to kill is, we have an ally far more powerful and terrifying to the enemy than all their worldly machinations: Our Lady.
Please dedicate at least one Hail Mary (right now?) to Our Lady of Knock for the success of the #VoteNo campaign, as the polls indicate that the results will be razor thin indeed. Love them both; Save the Eighth!

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Of course, I am succeeding (but not replacing) the inestimable Mr. James K. Fitzpatrick for the First Teachers column. Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.edu.

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