In human society, there are many elements of behavior and philosophy that contrast with one another. In this essay, the subject is an element I refer to as "faith in the future". That is not to say specifically faith in God, or faith in a philosophy, but faith in general.
In this context, faith can be defined as a belief that there is something bigger, more important in the world than one's self, and that the future is something we should strive to make better. A lack of faith, therefore, is a belief that one is powerless and that things won't get better, no matter what one does.
In the advanced Western societies, the proportion of people with faith in the future is declining. I believe this growing loss of faith is caused by a philosophy which has overgrown its practical limitations and robbed people of their ability to have dreams that involve anything more than personal success and money. I call this philosophy Liberal Fundamentalism. It is, most specifically, a belief that mankind can control society positively with bureaucracy alone.
In practical terms, Liberal Fundamentalism has replaced all forms of faith with the idea that society should be run according to rules set down by a vaguely defined group of supposedly intellectually superior people whom I shall refer to as the Liberal Fundamentalists. Please take note that my tongue is in my cheek. These people are not elected, not constrained by any written text and are free to change their philosophy at any time. They make up a small part of society, but are basically socialists in political perspective.
They strongly reject religion, as should be expected, because religion is in direct competition with their goals; indeed, religion is their direct opposite in every important way, since religion has a more defined structure and written text as a basis for that structure. They are true socialists, in that their philosophy allows no other. They embrace capitalism only because it's a way through which to control society.
The Liberal Fundamentalists have a noble goal, which is to make the world a better place. They do not, however, understand the real concept of faith. They believe that they KNOW the truth, they have reasoned it out, and therefore they expect people to have faith in them -- something that is impossible, as you cannot have faith in an undefined philosophy by an undefined group.
Societies in Balance
In Western Europe, we can see from history that the concept of democracy that began in Greece has flourished best when it operated in conjunction with capitalism, religion and freedom in a society in balance (hereafter referred to as Western Civilization). In Western Europe, this reached a level of success that was truly world-changing. The contrasting socialist dictatorship in the USSR simply could not compete or achieve the same levels of accomplishment. In the US, this reached a high level of success, and it was transplanted into Japan after World War II. The success of Japan with its own version of this balance is a truly amazing chapter in human history.
Now this success is eroding. Western Europe was the first to begin this decline, which is best seen in the creation of the European Community, the design of which has removed much of the effect of religion in society and created a socialist, and basically non-democratic, bureaucratic form of government - call it Social Capitalism, run by Liberal Fundamentalists.
They removed religion's influence in the EC by eroding its foundations, and then replacing its functions and finally its daily influence. Through both the media and the school systems, the citizenry now are taught to believe that it's the government's job to create a stable society, correct imbalances, fix problems, help the poor, teach the children and make all decisions regarding the difference between right and wrong in all areas of human life. The government should have the power to redistribute the earnings of the more successful. When this fails, it is the fault of either one particular leader, or perhaps a party, but never the system.
The citizenry are taught to distrust capitalism, distrust business, distrust successful people (except Liberal Fundamentalists), distrust religion and to place all responsibility for control of their lives in the government. The intellectually elite Liberal Fundamentalists control the government, as they largely control the media and the bureaucracy, but they remain aloof. They assign blame when things do not go right. They are never wrong, and technically they don't exist as an entity. Their ranks change with the wind. There are no elections.
It's Happening Here, Too
In the US, this process is gaining momentum. It is most easily seen in the concept of "Politically Correct" - a term that's astonishing in its honesty. PC is more strict than religion and much, much more powerful. It has no basis in anything. It changes with the weather. If you go against it, you are punished more severely than if you break an actual law, and there is no trial. Your only defense is to blame childhood abuse or drug addiction and go into rehabilitation. I do not mean that as a joke.
Because most people don't see the process for what it is, they are not organized to resist it. Liberal Fundamentalism is a basic philosophy, not an organization. It is in the ACLU. It is in Hillary's "Village" vision. It is in our schools and slowly it is taking root in society. The media has largely succumbed to the concept, because it is so easy to think that government should make things right. They do not see that by giving over too much power to the government, freedom is lost, as is our faith in the future.
The subject of right and wrong is worth exploring in this context. Today we consider people whose behavior is abominable to be "victims." (Just think of the unending spectacles provided by the likes of Paris Hilton and Brittany Spears. We are coming to believe that dirt is news, rather than events and changes in society.) But when we don't hold people responsible for their behavior we lose our own faith. If one sees no penalty for a behavior, one is likely to do it regardless of the injury it may cause another. In the past, religion placed boundaries on our behavior - and with it, faith that if we behaved better, society would be better. Liberal Fundamentalism has been unable to provide such boundaries, except with political correctness. It's a sad state of affairs.
Perhaps the problem can be best seen in young Blacks. The disproportionate number who are unskilled, poorly educated and unambitious is not due to anything genetic. It stems from a lack of faith in the future due entirely to a widely held belief that their future is desperate and they can't do anything to make it better. One Black man commented to me: "It is embarrassing to see blacks come here from the Caribbean and Africa and work hard, save their money and become successful in a generation, with so many of my fellow American blacks not making the effort."
The Liberal Fundamentalists have made it clear: this problem is due to slavery 150 years ago and to prejudiced Whites today. But while slavery can easily be seen as the root so long ago, and prejudice had a powerful effect in the more recent past, the rest of their perspective is completely wrong. If a young Black works hard today, he or she can succeed just as any other member of society can. The challenge is a bit greater, but he or she can succeed.
In the 1960s the Liberal Fundamentalists came up with a "solution" called welfare. I once heard a Black man on television refer to welfare are one of the most poorly thought-out government programs of all time, as it took away self-respect. He went on to say that Affirmative Action was the worst program of all. That's because it caused people to achieve positions they were not due, and took away their pride of accomplishment. He also added that it caused every successful Black to acquire a stain, the question being whether the success he or she had achieved was deserved or not.
What is "Faith"?
My friend, a Methodist minister, once told me a response he's developed to religious questions from people who doubt their faith. He asks: "Do you admire people you see as better people than yourself? Do you have a set of rules you follow regarding the way you treat others? Do you try to live a better life, to be a better person? Do you believe that there are things, be it country, right and wrong, or society, more important than you in this world? If you do, you have a faith. It may not be religion, but you have faith."
Consider the issue of falling birth-rates: Why are populations shrinking throughout Western civilization? Some will say the pressures of a two-career household result in fewer children. Some say women who want "careers like men have" are at fault. Some say it is due to economic pressures. In my opinion, it's a combination of factors -- but one we cannot ignore is faith. When you have little faith in the future being better, you have little interest in bringing children into it.
For a society to maintain its population levels, the average birth rate per woman should be between two and three children. This allows for death, infertility and those who choose to not have children.
If you look at liberal leaders in this country, how many have even two children? How many have three or more? The Clintons are a perfect example. With Hillary's "village" philosophy, we must wonder if she spent a lot of time raising her own daughter.
In contrast, birth rates are much higher than ours in societies with strong religious beliefs. For example, if current trends continue Moslems will be in the majority in France, England, and indeed throughout much of Western Europe. The population of India, and of other countries with strong religious beliefs, is growing while Western civilization is shrinking. They look to the future; we live in the present.
Most importantly, they believe in a higher spirit, while our society has largely fallen into a belief that we are just a bunch of molecules, formed at random. That nothing really matters. "I might as will live for today, for my own personal pleasure. Why bring children into this rotten world?"
Faith requires we NOT accept the idea that people are not responsible for their actions --except corporate executives, politicians and generals. Faith requires that we believe things can get better. Faith requires that we take responsibility for our own actions, and hold others accountable for theirs.
We must honor those members of our society who are productive and strong, and encourage our young to admire them. Finally, rather than intellectualizing about the future - as the Liberal Fundamentalists are always doing - we must learn from what has worked so well in the past. Experiments are fine, but success is truth.
James H. Gammon is president of a small but world-leading US manufacturer of aviation fuel quality-control equipment. An engineer and mechanical designer who holds several international patents. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org