Western Self Doubt


Why is our culture so corrupted?

When we are compelled to think about the news, which is a parlous matter altogether, it is useful to consider what is not there. It is easy to be entrained, like the clock of Christian Huygens, to harmonise with the tumult of the news cycle. Have a look at the cycle path. What it omits is sometimes more telling than what it includes.

Why is it not news that our culture is degrading? Why is it not important that our society is debauched? There is no attempt to explain the darkness creeping over the West. This winter, that darkness may well be literalised. We are facing power cuts which may prove to be permanent, so long as we cannot change our course.

This post is an attempt to discuss the centripetal current of our social reality, which flings all things to the perimeter, to the extreme. It is an examination of the limits of desire, and of the price exacted by chasing its horizons. What does it mean to base your culture on this chase?

What caused the corruption which envenoms our lives?

1. The flight from the fine

The fine has been abandoned – spiritually, morally, aesthetically. In every case what is fine, namely God, goodness and beauty, have been demonised as tools of oppression. Everything fine has been befouled. Everything you held dear has been defiled.

2. The loss that is liberty

The maximalist pursuit of absolute personal freedom is an exercise limited to the derestriction of desire. The horizons of appetite are chased but corralled in a curious paradox. There is no freedom of conscience, of speech or of opinion to accompany this liberty of the libertine. It is because the limits of freedom are the self. We are trapped in ourselves by this process, limited by our delimited desires. The world beyond us has vanished, become ephemeral, as we pass through it like non playable characters in a video game. The history we leave is that of credit, but not of merit.

3. The Self the basic unit

What is the modern self? It is the measure of the world, which thereby shrinks the world to the individual scale. The self is a chorus of wants these days, a gallery of gaping mouths gasping to be stopped up with something, for a while. They voice our desires, these pipe holes on the hollow flute of man, who has been fashioned into an instrument of insufficiency. The more he feels less, the more he feels want. He has been made empty and is starved of love. The heart has aged in him. What taught him to seek the fine has been choked with trash. The modern self is insatiable by design.

4. Never enough

The restless heart of man can never find contentment in the satisfaction of desire. A hollow man can be made to sound a plangent note when struck – by a manufactured lack. Incompleteness is the recipe for sales. A person who is tutored to seek their realisation in the gleaming avenues of shopping malls, in the perpetual special offers of the internet outlet, is ideally like a shucked oyster, where only the shell remains. The pearl of great price is of no value to this world, as it cannot be sold.

Such is the fruit of the freedom of the West – to make its people empty. Their sound is an echo. They are primed to feel keenly the absence of that one precious thing that may complete them, finally and once and for all. It never will, of course, though they exhaust themselves in searching. The point of the process is to tantalise until death.

5. Increasing instability

People’s lives explode without warning. They break down, they break up, they break away. Breaking becomes a lifestyle. First the habits of family are broken, then those of the wider family – the national culture. Finally, it comes down to the only thing left – you.

The pursuit of complete personal indulgence is an engine of entropy. Yoked to the liberating myth the self eventually has nothing else from which to be free. This explains the crazy appeal of gender transitioning. It is the pinnacle of personal consumer choice. It breaks the final barrier, that of ‘me’.

Of course, all these ‘barriers’ to liberty, all these obstacles in the way of the supremacy of personal desire can be seen from another point of view. They are not barriers, nor bars to some cage. They are the silt of centuries of wisdom, they are the just, the good and the true. Ultimately the glorification of the self is a negation of God. To choose this kind of liberation is to free yourself from nourishment and from beauty. This is an impulse which can only destroy. It is inherently unstable and undermines its own foundations.

6. Reflections in the pond

We see this wrecking power reflected in the death cult of our politics. How long can any culture hope to survive which asserts that the pinnacle of feminine liberation is to murder your own offspring? Can our Western regime survive any further attempts at ‘Liberal intervention’? The latest attempt to export the mad cult of the self by force has wrecked the economies of Britain and of the European Union.

The West is modelled economically and politically on a kind of mass-produced narcissism, where we see only our own reflection in the world and look only for that. We wish to see the values we are told are ‘ours’, we are livid if people like us are secretly unlike us. In the West there are stringent expectations of native Westerners, and only of them. We are expected to despise our own traditions, to spit on the Christianity which gave us justice and compassion, and which bejewels our language with the poetic idioms of its wisdom.

7. A shadow culture

Of course, this is the battle of ideology and experience. It is the contradiction of lies and truth, of two-faced dissembling and of facts. The modern self is a civil war which is won by a ghost. A spectral force displaces everything genuine and good, hollowing out the host until it is full only of hunger. What we see in truth is not strictly a cult of the self at all, but its sacrifice to the demon of desire.

Our culture has reached its zenith and its motif is self-destruction. It is de-moralised, and its function is to replace every something with nothing.

Frank Wright has emigrated to England from London. You can read more of his one star reviews of reality on SubStack.