Civilization seems to be taking it on the chin lately, with anti-civilizational forces in various forms scoring victories against the civilized world. The Taliban’s rapid reconquista of Afghanistan following America’s hasty, disorganized withdrawal suggests that a group of motivated cavemen can topple a well-trained, well-equipped, but artificial regime in a brisk weekend.
Within the gates of the civilized world, we’re going in a decidedly Babylonian route, indulging in wildly hedonistic displays of decadence, while ignoring the fundamentals that keep civilization going. Even the gates are largely symbolic, as we’re allowing in every paleontological throwback, handing them government bennies and free housing in the process.
All that said, I think civilization is worth preserving. I’ll write about that in a future post. For now, here are some of my past scribblings on the topic for this mildly gloomy edition of Lazy Sunday:
“Civilization is Worth It” – Here is my initial case for civilization. I think this line sums it up best: “Ultimately, I’d much rather live in a world that produced J.S. Bach than a Stone Age pit full of atonal grunting. It says something about the state of our civilization that the atonal grunts are back in vogue.”
“What is Civilization” – This post was based on a discussion between Milo Yiannopoulos and “groypers” Steven Franssen and Vincent James. The groypers argued that folks should abandon the cities and head to the country. Milo argued that cities are the heart of civilization, and should be defended. Both sides make compelling points, though I tend to side with Franssen and James on this one.
Thanks to Audre Myers of Nebraska Energy Observer I have a new commenter on the blog, 39 Pontiac Dream, a proper English gent of the old school (or so I gather). He very kindly shared some links with me from The Conservative Woman (or TWC as it is styled on its website), a site both Audre and Neo have recommended to me many times. One of those links was to an intriguing piece by Stuart Wavell, “The next civilisation.”
Our culture has an obsession with apocalyptic scenarios: massive plagues (a bit too relevant at the moment); zombie uprisings (always a popular one); massive meteor impacts (a bit retro—a favorite of the 1990s). Perhaps it’s a sign of a moribund and decadent culture that we fantasize about most of human life ending and starting the whole thing over from scratch.
When we indulge in these celluloid and literary fantasies, I suspect the inherent assumption is similar to those who want to restore absolute monarchies: we assume that we will survive the collapse, just as the would-be monarchists assume they will be king (or at least some important member of the nobility).
Chances are, most of us (yours portly included) would die quite quickly, either from the cataclysm itself, or from the bands of marauding raiders that would inevitably rise up in the wake of such a collapse. If those didn’t get us, it would be starvation, disease, or our own inability to assess danger that would do us in.
Wavell makes a similar point, with an interesting caveat: while those of us softened and doughy by the abundance of civilization would find ourselves in the pickle brine, the isolated, self-sufficient hunter-gatherers of the world—and they are still out there!—would be just fine, as they have been for millennia.
In 2014, Hobby Lobby purchased a tablet containing an excerpt from the Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest epic work of literature in Western Civilization. The tablet is 3500-years old, and Hobby Lobby won the tablet in a Christie’s auction, paying $1.6 million for it. Hobby Lobby displayed the tablet in its Museum of the Bible, which houses a number of rare and ancient artifacts.
Now, Hobby Lobby has forfeited the tablet to the US Department of Justice due to it shady provenance. It seems that the original seller falsified a letter of provenance to show that the tablet had entered the United States before laws against importing rare artifacts were enacted.
To make matters worse, Christie’s apparently knew that the letter was questionable, but withheld that information.
Unfortunately, that means Hobby Lobby took one on the chin financially. I’m not sure what the fate of the original smuggler is, but I imagine he’s long gone and living the sweet life.
The bigger question, though, is what should be done with such artifacts? Current US policy seems to be to return them to their country of origin. While that might seem to the be simplest policy, is it really best for the preservation of the artifacts—and our cultural heritage?
It’s another weekend full of questions here at The Portly Politico, as we continue our review of posts that pose a question in their titles. Each of this Sunday’s posts were written during the heady, violent days of Summer 2020, when the nation was aflame with lawlessness and disorder. Naturally, they reflect the fears and anxieties of those days, when it seemed like everything was coming apart at the seams:
“SubscribeStar Saturday: Civil War?” (post on SubscribeStar) – Perhaps one of my most powerful essays (if it’s not too much to give myself such accolades), “Civil War?” spells out the irreconcilable differences at the heart of the United States today. I wrote it at a time when local governments in progressive urban centers refused to put a stop to the looting and rioting, and instead tacitly encouraged the destruction. That mental and physical divide between progressives and conservatives is so profound and deep, I expressed pessimism of any kind of peaceful resolution—though I continue to pray I am wrong.
“Law and Order?” – Just as urban progressive mayors failed to address the violence in their cities, so President Trump—who I love as a president—dropped the ball on quelling riots and the ridiculous CHAZ/CHOP experiment. As I wrote at the time, it seemed that his strategy was wise—give the Left rope with which to hang themselves, allowing CHAZ to fizzle out under the weight of its own insane contradictions—but also undermined the legitimacy and authority of the government, and Trump’s own calls for “law and order.” Here was a moment where President Trump could have acted decisively with a legitimate display of power, and give proof to his claims to want law and order. That only comes with the firm smack of power.
“What is Civilization?” – As progressive mobs continued to burn cities, Milo Yiannopoulos argued “that by abandoning our cities, we are, essentially, abandoning our greatest cultural products.” Milo was engaged in a discussion with Steven Franssen and Vincent James, who countered that Americans who fled the cities were not abandoning their civilization, but something that had become alien and foreign. I tend to favor the latter argument, but the post is worth reading as my summary of the discussion between such intriguing thinkers.
That’s all for this weekend. Here’s hoping everyone is doing well and staying safe. Christmas is almost here!
This morning while getting ready for work I listened to a fascinating discussion between Milo Yiannopoulos and “groypers” Steven Franssen and Vincent James. I don’t know much about Franssen and James, other than that they are fairly prominent figures on the Dissident Right, but the discussion (which is available at Censored.TV to subscribers—I highly recommend forking over the $10 a month for a subscription) covered a broad range of topics, from 9/11 to the future of America and traditionalism.
Out of that far-ranging discussion came a brief debate between Milo and his guests near the end of the exchange. The gist of it boiled down to the question “what is civilization?” Milo’s contention—an interesting one—is that by abandoning our cities, we are, essentially, abandoning our greatest cultural products: our art, our architecture, our institutions. These cultural artifacts took the blood, sweat, toil, and ingenuity of the American people to build, so we’re capitulating to the Leftist mobs when we flee our cities instead of fighting for them.
In true Milo fashion, it’s a compellingly contrarian argument: why surrender what we fought so hard to build? I am a big advocate of normal, decent folks abandoning the cities in search of a better life in the country (to the point I think we should consider subsidizing families in rural areas), but makes a strong case. If we want to preserve our heritage, we shouldn’t hand it over to looters.
Yesterday morning over at the blog Nebraska Energy Observer, NEO’s in-house guest writer, Audre Meyers, wrote a short, fun piece about prepping, “The Neo made me do it!,” in which she extolled the virtues of preparing ahead of time for disasters, rather then getting caught up in the frenzied mobs of panicked shoppers. She wrote about some various and sundry items she needed to top off, including the increasingly-precious toilet paper, because “there are some things I simply refuse to do without!”
With the obligatory hat-tips squared away, let’s dive into this early 1970s TP shortage—one that mirrors our own mania for clean bums. What is it about toilet paper—and the threat that it will disappear—that drives Americans to hysterics?
Following yesterday’s post on the galaxy, blogger buddy Bette Cox—who was also my predecessor as Secretary of the Florence County (SC) GOP—shot me an e-mail with links to some of her own writings on astronomy, the galaxy, and faith. I wanted to share a few of those pieces with you today.
Bette is a prolific writer, and maintains a dizzying array of blogs. She contacted me with some excellent feedback on my first Nehemiah essay, which prompted a follow-up incorporating her remarks. She writes beautifully about faith at Esther’s Petition, and about the fulfillment of end-times prophecy at Tapister.
What I did not realize, until yesterday, is that Bette writes extensively about space—one of my favorite topics—at another blog Speaking of Heaven(her main blog, Bette Cox, is also dedicated to space). Her writings about the intersection of space exploration and faith are particularly thought-provoking.
Today is Columbus Day in the United States, the day that commemorates Columbus’s voyage to the Americas in 1492. It’s one of the most significant events in human history—as I tell my American History students, “we wouldn’t be here if Columbus hadn’t made his voyages”—yet the social justice, Cultural Marxist revisionist scolds want to do away with the holiday entirely, replacing it instead with “Indigenous People’s Day.”
The thrust of the proposed (or, as is the way with SJWs, demanded) name change is that Columbus was a genocidal, white male meanie who defrauded and murdered peace-loving Native Americans (who had the gall to mislabel Indians!), so instead we should celebrate the contributions of Stone Agecannibals.