We already know the solution: democracy. But what really is the problem?

While the Big Tech giants are busy trying to remove from the internet all references to a stolen election in 2020, I believe that the key to understanding what is really the problem here is to view this as part of the age-old struggle between civilization and barbarism.

Yes, the election was stolen.  Yes, ballot-rigging did take place.  Yes, mail-in voting and other invitations to fraud allowed millions of phantom voters to place millions of fake votes.  The people doing all this seemed to know in advance they'd get away with it, so brazen were they as they went about their assigned tasks.  And they turned out to be right.

In 2020, the barbarians won, by disregarding and then manipulating the legal process.  For now, they occupy the White House and control both houses of Congress.  They will seek to undermine the Constitution by claiming that it is a "living" thing.  This means nothing less than undermining it to suit their agenda, which is to attain absolute, unaccountable power.

The Constitution itself is the product of a process of human development ― the long and difficult journey away from barbarism ― and of growing political awareness over many centuries.  The result ― a democratic constitutional republic with inbuilt checks and balances to prevent the development of tyranny ― is what enabled America to become, through the enterprise of its ordinary citizens, the beacon of the free world and the stimulus to unprecedented global prosperity, peace, and international humanitarianism.

But there are always some people willing to use politics for their own advantage at the expense of others, undermining democracy itself.  These people we can properly term "barbarians" because it is they who seek a return to the old way of doing things in which every possible means is used to dominate others and take advantage of every weakness.

The term "barbarian" was coined in classical Greece (to the Greeks, foreign languages sounded like "ba-ba").  It meant a foreigner who was not only uncivilized, but hostile and destructive toward civilization.  But today, in the West, the barbarians work from within and have risen to the top of the structures of political and institutional power, as José Ortega y Gasset predicted in his 1930 book The Revolt of the Masses (the phrase he used was "the vertical invasion of the barbarians").

Barbarians early on acquired a reputation for seeking to destroy everything they could not control or understand.  Civilizations, in contrast, use order to build and conserve what is best in their cultures, fostering a vision of humanity that promotes excellence of being and supporting endeavors aimed at perpetuating the good while inhibiting those motivations that enable the bad to predominate.

Early ordered societies, which historians later called civilizations, were not averse to barbaric practices.  The long climb out of barbarism really started when the best features of classical Greek culture were absorbed into early Western civilization, which was itself given its defining characteristics by Jewish and Christian theology and philosophy.

The ideals, values, and principles that motivated Western civilization to become what it is today derive from these sources.  Without them, we would not enjoy political liberty, universal suffrage, and representative democratically accountable government; we would not have checks and balances to prevent tyranny and the arbitrary exercise of official authority; and we would not enjoy the benefit the state protecting our inalienable human rights protected.

To these we could add equality before the law, an independent judiciary, jury trials, habeas corpus, legal protection of personal property rights, and the secularization of that great achievement of Christian pastoral ethics, the moral obligation to provide care for the sick, the old, the vulnerable, and those otherwise unable to care for themselves.  (Whether this care is best provided by personal goodwill, or by charitable institutions, or by the state is another matter, but someone should be providing it.)

No other civilization in history has provided all these benefits and that, to me, makes Western civilization not only exceptional, but unique.  Only barbarians would try to destroy this achievement.  But ― with the institution of the secular pluralist liberal state as a means of guaranteeing freedom of religion ― the liberal Achilles' heel has proven to be its willingness to tolerate conduct undermining the ideals, values, and principles of Western civilization.

The secular pluralist liberal state was intended to enable people of different religions and opinions to live together in peace and harmony, working as one for the good of all: "out of many, one."  It is always likely that any political arrangement will produce malcontents and disaffection, but democracy ― if it is working as intended ― should defuse any resentments through the exercise of the right to freedom of expression and the protection of minorities from the majority's tendency to tyranny (this latter being a key component of the protection provided by the Electoral College system).

The turning point for the West came when post-modernism emerged as a cultural outlook and moral realism was rejected in favor of moral (and thus cultural) relativism.

But whereas post-modernism can accommodate a process of rational discourse and appeal to moral principles ― however relativistic ― to find common ground from which at least to accommodate differing points of view, its successor, which is the currently dominant cultural outlook, is not so accommodating. With woke progressivism, there is no longer any possibility of finding common ground because it demands total conformity to its ideology.

Woke progressivism rejects entirely any recourse to rational discussion and logical argument in favor of shrill demands and direct action. And when Western civilization's supporters are confronted with demands that they give up their ideals, values, and principles, and subordinate themselves to people who make no secret of their intention to destroy Western civilization, then submission or conflict are the only two possible options.

Thus, the relativism of post-modernism, and the uneasy truce it engendered, has ― with the rise of woke progressivism ― given way to the confrontation of incompatible world views. Woke progressivism versus Western civilization.

The uncompromising authoritarian moral perfectionism of the woke progressivists tends towards only one outcome: a long painful journey of self-destruction towards the age-old default position of barbarism, the struggle of all against all for survival and supremacy with no holds barred and all cruelties permitted.

The barbarians now in charge of America exploit the ideology of woke progressivism for their own ends. Above all, they desire status, wealth, and power, and all the privileges that go with these. And they do not much care who or what they destroy along the way.

As regards attempts by the barbarians to dismantle Western civilization, this process began long ago, and its recent intensification is the latest phase in the unrelenting assault of the worst of human nature on the best.

This is because the barbarians never really went away, they just got a whole lot smarter.

Image: Karl Bryullov's Vandals Sacking Rome.  Public Domain.

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