How did we go from a movement that sought to create a cleaner, safer environment for human beings to one that fantasizes about their extinction? A starting point for understanding is the observation that the trajectory of environmentalism fits a pattern. That is, many of the the people (perhaps a plurality) who inhabit Western Civilization have been convinced in general that their civilization’s sins are so heinous that it deserves to die. And, that they, as beneficiaries of that civilization bear those sins in their persons as unearned, even stolen privilege. Therefore their very lives and those of their fellows are not worth valuing or defending.
Look, for example, at the Open Borders movement. What these people are literally saying is that the seven-billion people who live outside of the United States and European Union have the innate, absolute right to not only immigrate here, but also to be socially and financially supported by those already here. This position is nothing other than a civilizational death wish made practical by immigration policies.
Of course this idea doesn’t envision our actual deaths, but rather our nation’s and culture’s death. However, there is plenty of the murderous that will occur as our nation collapses into chaos. This certainty causes not the slightest concern in our moral betters who demand this path be taken, as they imagine that they will sit atop this new world, thus living as well or better than they do now. For those who suffer the consequences, well, they’re just finally getting what they richly deserve.
The underlying psychological cause of this guilt in the general population was brilliantly summarized in an essay titled “The Strange Persistence of Guilt,” by Dr. Wilfred M. McClay in The Hedgehog Review.
What makes the situation dangerous for us, as Fredriksen observes, is not only the fact that we have lost the ability to make conscious use of the concept of sin but that we have also lost any semblance of a “coherent idea of redemption,” the idea that has always been required to accompany the concept of sin in the past and tame its harsh and punitive potential. The presence of vast amounts of unacknowledged sin in a culture, a culture full to the brim with its own hubristic sense of world-conquering power and agency but lacking any effectual means of achieving redemption for all the unacknowledged sin that accompanies such power: This is surely a moral crisis in the making—a kind of moral-transactional analogue to the debt crisis that threatens the world’s fiscal and monetary health. The rituals of scapegoating, of public humiliation and shaming, of multiplying morally impermissible utterances and sentiments and punishing them with disproportionate severity, are visibly on the increase in our public life. They are not merely signs of intolerance or incivility, but of a deeper moral disorder, an Unbehagen that cannot be willed away by the psychoanalytic trick of pretending that it does not exist.
This is the description of a culture in which the affected members feel guilt-ridden about every possible ill that exists in this fallen world because they have been convinced that it all can somehow be traced back to them as the prime cause. Therefore, they have no right to defend their right to exist.
But we can’t leave uncommented upon the misanthropy of the elite Progressive class that uses these ideologies of self-destruction to obtain and hold power. Victor Davis Hanson, in an article titled “A License to Hate,” provided a dozen specific examples of elite hatred of and invective against a plurality of their fellow citizens. He concluded with these thoughts.
What does all this hate speech signify?
One, there is terrible frustration among both the progressive Left (and the Never Trump Right whose luminaries have mused about replacing a supposed spent white working class with purportedly more energetic immigrants). So far Trump has not been stopped. His foreign and domestic agendas often find success and resonate with about 40-45 percent of the American people. Much of the uncouthness, then, reflects their own frustrations and sense of alienation that millions of Americans have tuned them out.
Second, most of the slurs are voiced by elites, especially politicos, journalists, and celebrities. Perhaps their angst is driven by class—as in how can their own superior logic and reasoning fail to resonate with 63 million voters? Answer: Trump voters are hopelessly obtuse to the point that they cannot even take care of their own personal hygiene or are now descending into simian status.
Third, cowardice plays a role. Those who slander the deplorables and irredeemables assume that they can say almost anything and expect no pushback, given the white working classes lack the romance of the poor and the supposed panache of the elite. A race to the bottom develops in which the more the hatred, the more the clicks and the media exposure. Minority critics expect their own identity politics affiliations to shield them from criticism. Wealthy white elites virtue-signal their disgust for those without privilege as a way of ensuring that those like themselves, who most certainly enjoy privilege, are rewarded with ideological exemptions for it.
Finally, we are learning that the entire idea of political correctness was never much about universal ideas of tolerance of the other, or insistence that language and protocols must not stigmatize individuals by lumping them into stereotyped and dehumanized collective groups. What we are witnessing, instead, is that it is fine to demonize millions, from their appearance to their purported hygiene and smell to affinities with feces and apes—if it serves political or cultural agendas.
In sum, cultural progressivism is about raw power, not principle.
How large of a step is it between visceral, dehumanizing hatred of fellow Americans and concluding that the world would be a much better place without their evil influence? Let’s hope that we are not on our way to finding out.