For those that follow my Periscopes and Twitter, you have likely heard me refer to what I call “Cultural Depression.” I’ve talked about it a bit and done a lot of research, so now I feel is an excellent time to put it down in writing.
In the 1920’s up until about 1941, we had The Great Depression. The Great Depression was economic, as markets and GDP numbers around the world tanked. It took the Second World War and a lot of economic shuffling to bring it to an end. I believe we are currently in another, much longer depression of spirit. Take a look at any negative statistic. It almost doesn’t even matter which. Suicide, Mass Shootings, drugs, Single Parent family, Divorce, all of them. Let’s take a good look at when we start to see the negative statistics skyrocket.
Even though the Great Depression only lasted 12 years or so, I argue we are in a Great Cultural Depression that’s been going on for over 40 years. Let’s take a look at a few metrics:
Drug Overdose Deaths:
Single Parent Family:
As you can see, they all start getting bad right around the same time: Late 1960’s. What’s happened since the 1960s, that would cause a rise in these types of statistics? I argue cultural decline brought about by cultural Marxism and critical theory. The cultural decline comes in many forms. It can be something as obvious as pornography, or as subtle as architecture. The very idea that Western Civilization could be undermined was unthinkable 50 years ago. The doctrines of the family unit raised on Judeo-Christian values in a sovereign nation-state were unassailable. The rise of Communism and cultural Marxism in the 60’s started to undermine the very foundations of civilization. For those unaware, the beginnings of modern progressivism can be traced to the Frankfurt School and Critical Theory. The Communist ideas of bourgeoisie vs. proletariat were insufficient to drive change. Critical Theory teaches that instead of class warfare, it is simpler to force change through oppressed vs. oppressor, leveraging perceived victimhood and challenging every single principle Western values achieved.
We got a brief reprieve in the 80’s with Reagan, as he waged the culture war against the insurgency of cultural Marxism. Post Reagan, the culture war intensified on all fronts. Liberals continued their 60’s era dominance over film, music, academia, and media. Pornography and prostitution continued rotting away the core. Architecture, which used to be an inspirational sign of an advanced civilization, retreated into postmodern and brutalist concrete monoliths, devoid of any style or soul, and modern art became an abomination. Critical Theory philosophy began eroding the very concept and values of Western Civilization. Religion became a battlefield, with a sort of militant atheism coming into vogue in the 2000s.
I started thinking of this concept of cultural depression in the wake of the Texas Church mass shooting. Once the information about the shooter began coming out, I recognized a lot of the characteristics of the militant atheism of the 2000s. In a situation like this, we always want simple solutions, on one side it’s gun laws, on the other is mental health. The truth is far more challenging to process. The fact is a decaying culture and system created Devin Kelley. No one thing over the course of his 27 years made him take that gun into that church. He was created by a culture that is desensitized to violence, over-medicated, and absolved of personal responsibility. With no attachment to identity, as a nonreligious, apolitical white guy, he found the group that he needed to feel attached to something, the atheists. Now, I don't believe atheists are inherently violent, as most aren't. But you take these kids, pump them up full of drugs, give them no ideal or identity to aspire to, show them a bunch of violent media or games, then give them a misanthropic or nihilistic view of the world there's going to be problems. Maybe they don't shoot up a church; perhaps they commit suicide or overdose on an opioid. One way or another, this cultural rot will ruin a lot of lives.
I would argue a significant reason Donald Trump is in the White House is the cultural decay that's taken place. All of this cultural degradation is relatively recent, so a lot of us remember a time when things were different. For example, I remember Columbine. Back then in the 90s, school and church shootings were infinitesimal. I remember how blown away everyone was as a result of Columbine, and how everyone struggled and tried to find a reason for it. I was 22 at the time, so I was old enough to process it. Think of Devin Kelley. He was 27 when he shot up that church, that means he was nine years old during Columbine. He had never existed in a world without significant mass shootings, and he grew up in a world where they were commonplace. This is why it's difficult to talk to young progressives about these issues. They don't even remember a world where this sort of thing wasn't prevalent. I'm only 40, and I've noticed the massive cultural decline, to say nothing of someone older like my mom.
Now, I've painted a bleak picture. How can we possibly dig out of a cultural depression over 40 years in the making? It's not all negative, we have incredible technology, so communication and networking are far superior to what it was then. We have access to the entirety of human knowledge at our fingertips. Despite the bleak picture I've painted, we are surprisingly close to pulling out of it. Keep in mind that "culture" is a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies. If we think things are awful, then they are likely to get worse. However, I think we are going in the right direction. We have to ignite nationalism, to give people that higher ideal to strive for, which is exactly what Trump is doing. The economy is roaring, and getting ready to ramp up considerably. Fortunately, all but the most fringe players do have a desire for everyone to come together. That desire counts for a lot, as the will of the country as a whole. The only ones that want conflict are the 1% on both sides of the fringes.
In this article, I identified what's plaguing us as a society, in the next series, I’ll address how we can beat back the cultural decay.
It’s Culture War 2.0. Are you doing your part?
Be sure to read the sequel: Are Video Games to Blame? The Cultural Depression 2
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Steve is the author of Forging the Iron Mind, and is the founder and CEO of Americana Prime.