The protests and riots that convulsed America in the last few weeks and our reaction to these events revealed something that many of us would prefer not to hear: our society is in the throes of profound existential crisis. Evening after evening we watched as the marauding mobs laid waste to urban areas. Looting, pillage, arson, theft, beatings and killings took place on a scale not seen in generations. Downtowns of dozens of American cities were ripped apart by violence and parts of them burned and ravaged beyond recognition. Even as this brazen violence and criminal destruction were taking place in plain sight, the law enforcement was kept from doing its job. The police were forced to stand by and watch even while they
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The protests and riots that convulsed America in the last few weeks and our reaction to these events revealed something that many of us would prefer not to hear: our society is in the throes of profound existential crisis.
Evening after evening we watched as the marauding mobs laid waste to urban areas. Looting, pillage, arson, theft, beatings and killings took place on a scale not seen in generations. Downtowns of dozens of American cities were ripped apart by violence and parts of them burned and ravaged beyond recognition. Even as this brazen violence and criminal destruction were taking place in plain sight, the law enforcement was kept from doing its job. The police were forced to stand by and watch even while they themselves became targets of vicious attacks by the rioters. The destruction and damage wrought by the mayhemists will run into hundreds of billions of dollars, not to mention the psychological and moral trauma of many ruined lives. Sadly, most perpetrators will never be apprehended or punished for their crimes.
Perhaps more than anything, the riots revealed the dysfunctional state of our political system. One of our two major political parties openly encouraged and actively abetted the mayhem. Difficult as it may be to believe, the Democrats on all levels defended and excused the perpetrators from the very outset. In a masterstroke of demagoguery, they managed to successfully shift the blame from the pillaging throngs onto the law enforcement and our society at large. They pulled this off by claiming that America a country where systemic racism reigns supreme. What an irony. Of the many problems that plague our nation today systemic racism is certainly not one of them. Quite to the contrary, the complete eradication of institutional racism is one of America’s great achievements. In no other country in the world do black people enjoy more freedoms and opportunities than in the United States. No other nation in history has invested more money and resources into its black population and done more for black people in terms of legal and institutional protections and support of various kinds than the US.
While the Democrats were busy plying their agitprop and sanctioning the vandalization of our country, the Republicans responded by doing exactly nothing. Rather than standing up for law and order in the face of violence and brazen lies, they meekly went along and silently conceded to most of the looters’ and democrats’ demands. Spineless and morally hollowed out, the Republicans completely ceded the moral ground to the criminal mobs and their abettors in the Democratic Party. Unwilling to defend the truth, justice, law enforcement and law-obeying citizens, they let the Left rule the day. It is a striking testimony to the depth of our crisis that not a single political leader of national stature – except for the president – had the moral fortitude to condemn the evil that was unfolding right before our eyes. And even the president did so only haltingly and inconsistently.
But the dereliction of our political establishment and the paralysis of America’s law enforcement are only the most visible symptoms of the endemic institutional crisis in which we find ourselves today. Wherever we turn we encounter decline and pathologies with nearly all of our institutions either underperforming or outright malfunctioning. And as our troubled institutions belabor under the morass of their insufficiency, they keep generating more problems and pain.
Our public-school system, for example, is to a large degree educationally defunct. Even after spending close to 20,000 dollars a year per student in some cities a quarter of US high school graduates are functionally illiterate. Unbelievably, in some parts the illiteracy rate runs close to 50 percent. Think about it: After being schooled for more than a decade to the tune of some two hundred thousand dollars, many American eighteen-year olds cannot even get through a book. And most of those who can read, leave school without any solid understanding of mathematics, economics, geography or history. On the other hand, many of them seem to be quite well-steeped in racist and gender studies and can speak for hours about various sexual deviancies most normal people have never heard of.
Our healthcare system is faring no better. Today we are sicker than ever with sixty percent of Americans suffering from at least one chronic disease. Instead of addressing the underlying issues that drive these disturbing trends, the usual approach of the medical community is to prescribe cocktails of pills which more often than not produce adverse side effects that exacerbate our health problems further. At the same time, a visit to the doctor for a simple ailment can easily end up costing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. As if this was not bad enough, close to thirty thousand Americans die every year from overdose of prescriptions opioids. These deadly drugs are pushed and marketed by pharmaceutical companies and generously prescribed by doctors who are well aware of their deadly toll. Some experts have argued that these actions by the medical establishment should be classified as “mass homicide.” (As an aside, far more Americans die of medical malfeasance than of police action and yet we do not see protests calling for defunding the medical establishment.)
As far as America’s military establishment is concerned, in the last two decades we launched several wars and large-scale operations whose stated purpose was to us to keep safe from terrorism and to bring the light of democracy to some dark corners of the world. The effort cost well over six trillion dollars and thousands of American lives. It also resulted in the deaths of several million people (directly and indirectly) in the countries whose territories we invaded. Regrettably, instead of installing democracy we mostly left behind chaos and confusion. As for making the world safer from terrorism, our actions turned large regions of the Middle East into lawless territories where various terrorist and extremist groups now operate freely.
Our national finances are in complete shambles. Our federal debt has exploded to 130 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and – given the unfolding economic devastation from the misguided COVID-19 lockdowns – it cannot but keep rising sharply in the months ahead. This unbridled and irresponsible spending puts the US in the banana republic league. And we have not even mentioned the unfunded liabilities whose amounts are truly astronomical in scale. According to one Forbes writer, they amount to some $210 trillion dollars. Other observers think such estimates are too conservative and the liabilities are actually higher still. Be that as it may, the fact is that today America stands as the world’s greatest debtor and is probably the most debt-ridden nation in history. Given the numbers, we can say with complete certainty that our government will never be able to honestly pay its debts or meet its obligations. The only reason why the dollar has not yet collapsed is because it happens to be the world’s reserve currency, and as of now there is no suitable alternative. It is, however, only a question of time before the dollar implodes. When this happens, all hell will break loose and, if we do not prepare, the upheaval we witnessed in the last few weeks may well seem like a Sunday stroll in a park.
Our decline can indeed be seen at every turn. Apart from the question of whether it constitutes a justifiable expenditure of public funds, the fact that for the first time in many decades the NASA does not have a vehicle capable of carrying a human into space is another indication of our waning power. If the US government wants to send American astronauts into orbit, it has to ask Russia or some billionaire to take them there.
Our mainstream media have long shed any pretenses to objective reporting or truth finding. Operating as the de facto PR organ of the Democrat Party, their main goal in the last three years has been to subvert and terminate the tenure of a duly elected US president. They have shown the willingness to use any lie, rumor or conspiracy theory – no matter how absurd or far-fetched – to achieve that objective. Frustrated with their failed attempts, they now, along with the Democrats, foment the vandalization of our society, believing that this is their best chance of getting their candidate of choice into the White House.
Like the mainstream media, our popular culture has also completely lost its moral bearings. Psycho-sexual pathologies are held up and celebrated as if they were marks of distinction or even enlightenment. Homosexuality runs rampant and is brazenly taunted in the public square. Men are now declaring themselves to be women and women are declaring themselves to be men. Teenagers have their sexual organs amputated and those of the opposite sex attached. The fact that the life expectancy of those who adopt such misguided and self-destructive lifestyles is often decades below their normal counterparts is not mentioned. Similarly, it is a taboo to point out that those who pursue this way of life almost invariably suffer from persistent physical pain, disease and depression. In many cases this harrowing process culminates in complete mental disintegration. Where are the adults on this, one wonders.
As far as our public discourse goes, political correctness rules the day and rational discussion is virtually impossible. Truth, reason and facts just do not matter anymore. We have seen this in the last few weeks many times when all kinds of accusations of institutional and societal racism were made, none which is borne out by facts, numbers or statistics. But this in way dampened the self-righteous fervor of those levelling the false claims. Those who want to appeal to facts, on the other hand, are promptly censored, cancelled, shut down, and fired. Chicanery, shouting and anger is how the Left makes its case and, sadly, this form of “argumentation” is what prevails these days.
The fact that today as a society we are incapable of making any real headway or fixing any of the many problems that beset us is an indication of the depths of our trouble. The moment we try to address an issue, acidic arguments and accusations ensue. When action is finally taken, it is almost always enormously expensive, and it usually makes the problem only worse while creating a new set of problems to boot. Nearly every facet of our societal existence is marked by seemingly intractable pathologies and contradictions. The weakening of our national fabric is palpable everywhere. To get the feel for it just think back to America at the height of Reagan’s presidency. Although we were not a perfect country then, we were certainly a much healthier and stronger country than we are now. What a difference three and half decades make.
All this should make it clear that the pervasive exigencies and ills we witness all around us are not some incidental flukes, but symptoms of a profound crisis that we are undergoing as a society at this time. This crisis took many years to develop and has its roots in policies and trends that run many decades deep. Some of them must run their course, and because of this things will have to get worse before they get better.
This, however, is decidedly not a time to give up, turn fatalistic or succumb to depression. Quite to the contrary, every crisis also presents a unique opportunity for laying a foundation to make things better in the future. But to seize the opportunity, we must face and handle the crisis properly. But about that we will speak next time.