From the Mouths of Despots...
So now Russian strongman, Vladimir Putin, chides the West for "moral bankruptcy." Putin was joined in his appraisal by none other than the Russian Orthodox Church's Patriarch Kirill I. Not that despotism lacks moral challenges. Not that Putin, for internal political reasons, has aligned himself with the Russian Orthodox Church to counter pro-western elements in Russia, as explains the Washington Times.
Aside from Putin's cynicism and sly political calculations, the former KGB thug (generously granted) makes a serious point, as does the Patriarch.
Proclaimed Vlad the Despot, per the Times:
"Many Euro-Atlantic countries have moved away from their roots, including Christian values," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a recent keynote speech. "Policies are being pursued that place on the same level a multi-child family and a same-sex partnership, a faith in God and a belief in Satan. This is the path to degradation."
Then this observation from Kirill I:
"The general political direction of the [Western political] elite bears, without doubt, an anti-Christian and anti-religious character," the patriarch said in comments aired on state-controlled television.
Of course, not all among the West's elites are heathens and enemies of faith. But as the Patriarch asserts, the West's ascendant elite fit both categories.
Yet, in one regard, Putin and Kirill I might be jumping the gun. The West isn't morally bankrupt. America and Western Europe haven't reached a terminus yet in their moral decline. The better explanation is that the process of moral bankruptcy has been underway in the West for decades now.
World War I (it started one hundred years ago in August) wasn't the cause of the West's descent, but it was a powerful catalyst. Today we're witnessing an acceleration of that long decline.
In the race to the bottom, Western Europe is further down slope than the U.S. Yet we Americans still have some pluck, so our libertines, 60s-inspired "If it feels good, do it" crowd, artistes, academics, chattering classes, and America's homegrown America haters (mostly leftists) will put shoulders behind the U.S.'s Boulder of Moral Decadence and push harder. Western Europe won't beat us into civilization's bog.
And the result of Western Europe and America landing in the swamp? Goodbye to both. You think politics abhors a vacuum? So does time-tested morality, which vivifies culture and provides the glue that keeps societies together.
Western Europeans have long been the trendsetters for moral withering and decline. Europeans aren't making enough babies and haven't for the better part of a century. Europe is in a demographic dive, Russia included. So is Western-influenced Japan. China killed its babies with its one-child edict. Europe imports Muslims.
Europe won't be conquered by the Prophet's legions as much as filling the joint with Muslims after the vacancy signs go up all over. Muslim-dominated Europe will practice morality, all right -- morality that's strictly enforced in Islam's darker precincts now (homosexuals, feminists, and artistes take particular note). Why? Because fundamentalism is the trend among Muslims.
Europeans, in the main, consider the Old World's fate with shrugs. They're in the grips of hedonism. "No tomorrow" for Europe isn't on the radar, because tomorrow those who have degraded Europe will be stone-cold dead.
Nihilism has a firmer grip on Europeans than socialism. It's got a pretty firm grip on America's elites too. What else can be said about the attacks on traditional America since the 1960s?
The nihilists underlying argument is thus: The West is the epicenter of the world's woes and must pay -- and pay again -- for colonialism, neocolonialism, environmental degradation, racism, militarism, capitalism's rapine, and every and any degradation of the nonwhite, unchristian world -- real or abundantly imagined. Traditional morality is stilted and phony. Decline and collapse are justified.
The mentality among Europe's and America's decadent is not unlike the morality as depicted in the powerful movie Downfall, which starred the marvelous German actor, Bruno Ganz. As Germany fell to the invading Russian and Allied armies, as Russian rockets and artillery pounded Berlin into rubble, what remained of the Nazi elite in Berlin indulged in bacchanals, drunken sex orgies. Today, though, the West's pounding is self-inflicted; the hedonism is, as it was then, elective.
The West is sliding into the abyss by means of unctuous rationalizations for immorality; by sophistic deconstruction of Western values and beliefs. It's insidious and, frankly, evil. Throughout the West, the bad guys are at the controls. They pose as champions of all flavors of "liberation" or assert that all licenses are liberty. With ingratiating smiles, bland assurances, and faux-righteous indignation they peddle decadence.
Counters the critics: That which you describe as moral decline is simply moral evolution. Marriage and family are being redefined beneficially, not destroyed. An evolving death culture, you say? Nonsense. Abortion takes no human life, because life doesn't begin until birth (or until the mother chooses birth for a fetus). Euthanasia humanely ends lives lived in pain or that are no longer productive, particularly among the old. Self-fulfillment isn't hedonistic. Sex is an expression; don't constrict it. Drugs can be harmless recreation and mind-expanding. And who are you to judge -- you living your smug, comfortable lives while injustice abounds?
Continue the critics: Religion is unnecessarily inhibiting and exclusionary; it hampers expressions of ourselves as we decide who to be. It makes "sins" of some practices, which only stigmatizes and injures the practitioners. God is a myth, after all. The soul is a fancy. Don't impose on us (though we'll impose on you).
The nihilists are the problem. What's the solution? That's not an easy answer. Decadence has momentum. Facing hard reality is tough, but must be done.
Churches and synagogues (and we ain't talking the "progressive" breeds) need to do more than proclaim God's truth; they need to imitate the Old Testament prophets, who feared God more than they feared man, challenging the decadence and destructive orthodoxies of their times... and the leaders and high priests who enabled such. Jeremiah's example is instructive.
Believers need to be militants for faith and its open practice. Parents must have zero tolerance for squalid pop culture and an ethos that urges "anything goes." Patriots need to be unabashed in their patriotism. We all must, in our ways, become apostles and evangelists for the good. We mustn't be cowed.
Another 476 A.D. lurks for Europe and the U.S. The decadent welcome dissolution. The rest of us should dread it. When a cad like Putin calls us out, we should take heed. God may not be picky about his herald.