Mandeville, LA –This Clip of The Day was originally aired and published on Jul 30,2013 and is part of the Founders Pass Flashback Collection.
Exclusive Audio and Transcript – I want to read something to you. My good friend Dr. Brad Birzer, professor in history at the Hillsdale College and a gentleman and a scholar in his own right, one of the good guys out there in [r]epublicanism and in conservatism, posts at one of our favorite online blogs The Imaginative Conservative, under the title “A New Dark Age.” He’s writing about T.S. Eliot, who in 1948 assumed that Western civilization was moving inexorably toward a new dark age. Check out today’s Daily Clip and transcript for more…
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Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: I want to read something to you. My good friend Dr. Brad Birzer, professor in history at the Hillsdale College and a gentleman and a scholar in his own right, one of the good guys out there in [r]epublicanism and in conservatism, posts at one of our favorite online blogs The Imaginative Conservative, under the title “A New Dark Age.” He’s writing about T.S. Eliot, who in 1948 assumed that Western civilization was moving inexorably toward a new dark age. This is just part of Brad’s essay.
As we look back over western history, we know that every government falls. Just imagine what the world looked like in 410, hordes infiltrating the remnants of civilization. Or, imagine the time of the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. Not a single political body of that day has remained. Only two things have in western civilization in the last two thousand years–1) the Jewish people; and 2) the Catholic/Orthodox Church. Do we imagine the U.S. will last forever? If so, we are fools.
Mike: Again, I don’t think Birzer is being radical or provocative. I think he’s stating an historical imperative. The sooner that you wrap your mind around it and get to the process of executing it, the more smooth and orderly the transition will be. Otherwise, yeah, it’s a dark day in deed, and a dark path. Back to the piece:
Do we imagine the U.S. will last forever? If so, we are fools. It’s quite possible the U.S. has been done since the second administration of Jefferson. As Gordon Wood effectively argued in his Radicalism of the American Revolution, not a single founder thought the Republic still existed in any real form–or perhaps more accurately, with any real soul–at the time of his respective death. [Mike: So put that in your “I love my founders” pipe and smoke it. They all died thinking, [mocking] “It’s over. These idiots are just gonna, ha, we screwed up.”]
What if the founding of America was the highpoint of western civilization? What if it served as the end of an era, the culmination of all that came before it, rather than the beginning of a new era? In our understandable American patriotism, we call it a “founding.” What if it’s really an “ending.” [Mike: This is really provocative stuff, Brad. Kudos, my friend. You got me thinking now. Maybe they’re not founding fathers; maybe they’re ending fathers. That’s my editorial.]
For the sake of argument, let’s take Eliot’s claim seriously. If we are in a period of decline, our role as members of western civilization, as advocates of order, dignity, and liberty, changes dramatically from what it is if we’re in a time of cultural ascension. [Mike: Let me just say to you, Brad, we are not in a time of cultural ascension. Unless Snoop Dogg and Lady Gaga are ascendency, we ain’t ascending anywhere; we’re descending into hell.]
If we are falling, we who reject ideology need to prepare the world for it–to create a foundation not just for the survival of our children but for a revival, a renaissance of some kind, twenty generations hence. If we believe in western civilization, the contract of eternal society, the communion of saints, we might have a profound duty to preserve, not just a right to exist. What if Eliot was right? I see little beyond a bleak twilight. I see no justice in our federal government. I see only poison, corruption, and darkness. I see that our economy is tenuous and shaky at best. I see a national debt that is insoluble. I see an education system that is almost totally utilitarian and without redeeming value, a grand babysitting scheme to keep potential hoodlums off the streets and competition out of the labor pool. [Mike: Boy, isn’t that the truth!]
Our position abroad is without direction, and I would guess with only slight trepidation that more people outside of our borders hate us than did on September 10, 2001. Where is the light? Where do we see hope? There are cracks here and there, but the barriers and obstructions continue to mount, crowding in upon us, forcing us ever closer to the whirligig of the abyss. Still, as St. Paul reminded us, there is always hope. We have autonomous communities, especially in education, forming–but they are decentralized. We have blistering fast technology and technological improvements. But, where else? Where? I ask with all sincerity. Where else?
Mike: Well, Brad, that is the where, the reemergence of republicanism is where it’s at. It’s all the rage. That’s what all the cool kids with the pumped up kicks ought to be talking about. That’s why we made the t-shirt and the bumper sticker, why we promote it here on the show. As a matter of fact, I have this piece from Gordon Wood that I was going to get into today. Maybe I will. I don’t know. Maybe you people want to talk about decline.
I don’t believe people are generally, though, especially in our arrogant day and age, able to admit with enough humility sovereign mistakes, meaning that you can’t blame the political class. They didn’t elect themselves; we elected them. They didn’t just spend that money; we let them spend it. They’re not just continuing to spend the money; we let them continue to spend it. If we just understood how it is that the proper relationship of man to state is to form and then is to be managed, we could avoid all this, we really could. Because we don’t and we can’t, and many of us won’t because we are so poisoned with our arrogance and conceit, wrapping our minds around the mythology that is modern-day liberalism or modern-day conservatism, it’s a joke. Ladies and gentlemen, it is a joke.
I don’t want to throw cold water on those of you, [mocking] “Come on, Mike, hope springs eternal.” Well, it does spring eternal, but it springs eternal in those little pockets where you find that resistance and where people are saying, “My friends and neighbors, let’s take this government back. Let’s kick these bums out of office and disempower them as a good start.” That’s where you are to find the hope, ladies and gentlemen. That’s where the hope lies.
End Mike Church Show Transcript