One of the biggest mysteries that plagues the world of neoconservatism is the question of why the end of history – that final triumph of liberal democracy and consumer capitalism – hasn’t occurred yet. All around the world in many different cultures and nations there is a strenuous reaction against these very things. Indeed, even in the western core – Western Europe and the Anglosphere – there is increasing skepticism about these tenets of the Enlightenment.
The question which the neoconservatives ask is, “Why do they hate us?” This question increasingly applies to pretty much everybody all over the world, but most especially to the Muslim world. Instead of seeing Fukuyama’s end of history, we’re seeing Samuel Huntington’s clash of civilisations. It seems to many of the neocons that the Muslim world is simply being obstinately ungrateful in refusing to recognize the blessings of democracy, secularism, and hedonism being imposed upon them by the force of Western military might.
Now, far be it from me to defend Islam itself or to defend the terroristic tactics which Muslims use. Certainly, I find Islam to be a false religion and Muslims to be primitive barbarians for the most part. However, my attitude toward them tends to be one of desiring to neither invade them nor invite them. I’m perfectly happy to let them do what they want in their own lands and to run their own countries as they see fit, so long as their barbarism is not imported into our Western countries.
Part 1 – The Suburbs
One of the most corrosive trends in modern America is that of generationalism. By this term, I mean the tendency to divide up the body of the American people into different generations – Millennials, Generation Xers, Baby Boomers, etc. – which are then set against each other or otherwise encouraged to isolate themselves from those of different ages and experiences than themselves. Typically this involves encouraging people of one generation to despise – usually for superficial reasons – those in other generations. The older generations look at the millennials and think they’re all a bunch of lazy whiners living in Mom’s basement. Millennials look at the older folks and see helpless dinosaurs who couldn’t use an iPhone if it meant saving their own lives.
Obviously, there has always been the interplay of youth versus old age for as long as man has walked this earth. The aged have often been mystified by the willingness of youth to disregard experience and good sense, while the young have often been exasperated by the strictures placed upon them by their elders. This is a fact of human existence that we can find all the way back in Old Testament times and even earlier – archaeologists have found Sumerian clay tablets detailing just this strife between a father and his son.
However, modernism’s encouragement of generationalism is a different creature from this earlier human experience. For most of human history and throughout traditional societies, whether Western or otherwise, there was still a fundamental unity between the young and the old. It was always assumed that while the young would sow their wild oats (formalised, for example, in the Amish Rumspringa), they would eventually then settle down to learn from the experiences of their elders, who would pass on the torch of civilisation to the up-and-comers who would successfully take that torch and pass it on when they grew old themselves. People were aware of different and successive generations, but these were not matched against each other. Quite the opposite – each generation was taught to follow that which came before, taking on the responsibilities of manhood and civilisation when their time came. In medieval Europe, a 15 year old young man was already apprenticing to learn a trade or working on the farm. He was not viewed as someone who was to be treated differently than his elders. Indeed, he was already pretty much an adult. Our forebearers had no time or patience for teenage angst, and nobody would have gotten away with acting like a very special snowflake.