Surviving Modern Times

It has been said (by one Rod Dreher) , “The culture of modernity, at least of modern America, can absorb anything.”

It can absorb criticism (trenchant and mordant as Bill Buckley used to say) and shrug it off.

It can tolerate self-ghettoizing groups and erect barricades to their influence on the culture without losing its ability to infiltrate those ghettoes.

It will even subsidize dissent and rebellion as a way of draining off energies which might otherwise explode on its all-pervading control.

It, Modern Culture, is pretty much run by those who gain wealth, power, and privilege from its operation. Any and all threats must be neutralized or absorbed, from Occupy to the Tea Party, and from Disney and the Avengers franchise through drugs and hardcore porn.

The only thing it cannot survive is itself.

Neither Benedict (live in a ghetto far from the troubles)  nor Jeremiah (live in society but keep separate)  are realistic Options, since the worst thing about learning “lessons from history” is assuming they can be applied to different times and places. History may evince apparent patterns of social dynamic, but never repeats itself. Clio does not stutter.

Some new, unknown solution will arrive to preserve sanity (if you believe God ultimately directs history), or we will collapse into sludge (if you don’t believe in an interventionist God.)

In general, the criticism of today’s society is, I believe, mostly correct. The Enlightenment has exhausted itself and all the craziness is running to its inevitable conclusions.

New solutions may come from Global South, but I would not expect them to be apparent yet. The Global North, while on its last legs, is yet powerful enough to snuff out (militarily) anything which appears dangerous to the wealth, power, and privilege of the Patrician Ruling Class.

Personally, being a product of 2500 years of Western Culture, I do not expect to survive its demise.

On the other hand, there is always hope of “A Canticle for Leibowitz” — but only after the deluge of fire.