I have developed a keen interest in persuading sensible people that Western civilization is an a dire state, that they should take a personal interest in this, and that they can, and should, do something about it.
For my purposes, “sensible people” are Aristotelians (whether they know it or not). In brief, this means that they reason inductively. Nothing is more real or more authoritative to them than the evidence of their own senses. It also means that they reason logically: they recognize that contradictions do not exist in reality, and that, therefore, apparent contradictions are always indicative of cognitive error. In approaching any question in any field, Aristotelians first identify the basic facts in that field. They then integrate these facts into a non-contradictory cognitive whole. Then they do something useful with this whole, whether communicating it to others, or using it more directly to produce values. To be an Aristotelian is to follow this method. It is not essentially a matter of education, and has nothing to do with whether or not one has ever read Aristotle.
If Western civilization collapses, which is the current trend, all sensible people will sorely miss it. But nothing they are doing now is likely to alter this trend. Insensible people are getting to have their way.
Because a sufficient minority of the sensible have not recognized these facts, and acted accordingly:
- Western civilization is collapsing.
- Collapse is probable within our lifetimes.
- There’s no limit to how bad the collapse could be, and no benefit in idly hoping for the best.
- The collapse can be prevented.
- No effort currently underway will prevent it.
- Preventing it can be fun and profitable, in short and the long run both.
Most sensible people would agree with at least the first point. I won’t try to persuade the insensible majority of anything, but I would very much like to convince even forty Aristotelians that all six of these facts are facts. Given the nature of Aristotelians, and given the nature of facts, one would think this shouldn’t be too hard. But I think it will be hard. Here’s why:
What do attentive Aristotelians think about the state of the world? They don’t like it. What are they doing about it? Certainly not nothing. Aristotelians are action-oriented thinkers. If most of them can recognize that Western civilization is collapsing, then they must be doing something about it. What, then?
One or more of these, I think:
- Supporting “libertarian” policies through the political process
- Trying to persuade others to support “libertarian” policies through the political process
- Trying to persuade more people to become “libertarians”
- Trying to teach more people to be sensible
- Trying to increase “libertarian” influence in the academic world or other key institutions
- Promoting or conducting research in the special sciences that supports “libertarian” policies
- Building capital
- Building a self-sufficient or partly self-sufficient farm, cabin, compound, or other dwelling
- Preparing for social and economic collapse by gathering knowledge, resources, and weapons
- Purposefully setting the problem aside and going about business as usual, on the principle that there’s nothing that can be done about it anyway
In essence, these responses to the impending collapse of Western civilization can be reduced to three basic strategies:
- Mass persuasion
Sensible people have assayed the state of the world by their own lights, they’ve made their own sense of it, and they’ve already settled on their own strategies for dealing with it. I will argue — briefly here, and at length later — that all three of these strategies, in every extant variation, are ill-considered.
Mass persuasion will take longer than we have. Civilization will collapse long before the Ayn Rand Institute’s associates are tenured at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. The Libertarian Party will never win the presidency. The mass of men do not yearn to be free, and they will not learn to be free, either.
Escape is probably impossible. And if it is possible, it is probably not worthwhile. Your compound in the woods will be overrun by the mob, or else taxed and regulated out of existence. (But I repeat myself.) Your bank accounts and bitcoins will be seized, your gold coins taken at gunpoint. There is nowhere to run to. Your resistance will fail.
Surrender, however, is premature. It is contemptible to surrender unnecessarily. Western civilization can be saved.
Contradictions do not exist. If these strategies are ill-considered, then those who devised them — you, when you devised yours — must have missed something. Missed one or more of six somethings, conveniently enumerated above, I think.
Now, this has all been rather slapdash, and the topic deserves more serious treatment. But I am eager to get to work, and some prefatory remarks were needed. These will have to do for now. I want to begin to show, as unequivocally as I can, that:
- If you think Western civilization isn’t collapsing, you’re confusing friezes for foundations.
- If you assume the collapse is far off, you assume too much.
- If you think the collapse can’t destroy everything you hold dear, your reach exceeds your grasp.
- If you think it’s inevitable, you have surrendered prematurely.
- If you think Objectivists, Libertarians, Free-Staters, Silicon Valley, floating cities, crypto-currencies, or anything else out there will save you, you don’t realize what you’re up against.
- If you think the only way to fight it is by sacrificing your happiness to some grim struggle, by breaking your body on the barricades, or by joining the charge of the light brigade, you haven’t studied your enemies’ victories.
I want to focus, straight away, on point 5. Too many sensible people, because they have not realized how dire the state of the world is, believe that someone, somewhere is doing good work, work that can turn this thing around. But no one, nowhere is. Not yet.