Polemics & Exchanges

On the Culture War

I wish respectfully to raise a strong objection to Clyde Wilson’s analysis of the culture war in his July View: “The culture war is not of our choosing.  We did not seek it or declare it.  We really only wanted to be left alone to live by our patrimony in the normal human way.”

This self-defeating desire to be “left alone” goes a long way in explaining why our heritage of European-derived Christian and classical civilization lies in virtual ruins.  Invalids want to be left alone.  Heroes rise to fight another day—striving out of an ineradicable sense of life’s obligations and mutuality.

Western man’s sickness may be, in part, the result of the loss of an aristocracy and the decline of heroic virtues of obligation and self-sacrifice.  But that doesn’t say enough.  The heroic virtues perished at Appomattox—or Ilium—if not the Garden of Eden.  But what meaning do they have now?  What is the translation of the heroic virtues in a society such as we have today—the proletarianized unisex masscult?

The real failure of Western man is the failure to think through all of the forces assaulting him—the failure to be loyal to thinking for its own sake.  It is, above all, a failure of imagination and feeling, but it has...

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