by Bodwyn Wook
[The following was written by the gentleman in response to a friend & men’s rights advocate concerned about a Hilary Clinton presidential bid, and the possibility of the demonisation of men by certain elements of the American left, on the slangier levels of the campaign & its slogans — ed]
The habit of thinking historically can certainly be annoying & I apologize for that, Mr N.
However, from that same perspective it is helpful over & over, I think so anyway & in all our woes, to ask what is REALLY going on?
In this sort of thing I follow the lead of Hungarian-American historian-emeritus & self-described “reactionary,” John Lukacs (b Budapest, 31 January 1924 of a Jewish mother & Roman Catholic father & still living). Lukacs helped me to frame an understanding that flooded over me initially emotionally & at fourteen at the killing of President Kennedy:
It was the feeling of being sunk in the sure knowledge that this event marked the beginning of the end of the United States that would then start to take place & has been happening since & all throughout our suicidally too-comfortable & self-absorbed generation.
Mind you, I did not come upon Lukacs until in my forties, when I first read several of his books on the problems of American democracy; and, others by him on the larger problem of the end of the Late Modern age. However, Lukacs’s insights provided the framework I had been seeking as an amateur historian for good long time, above all in which to locate & to understand a certain element of futility in all of History.
My root question as one who lifelong has thought historically, and always has done as I now think of it, had been this & ever since a brief incomplete fling as an undergrad History major:
Why & in spite of the grand events of the century now ending, of the flowering of the Old Atlantic West & in which my father’s family had played their parts, did everything in the World seem if, not “worse,” then at least loggerheaded & stymied everywhere?
This feeling had been growing on me since 1963, and the generationally-decreed collapse in 1980 of the Liberal Project of President Woodrow Wilson & his heirs confirmed that, if there are no “final” solutions in History as to any sort of moral theme, then there certainly aren’t even any particularly durable ad hoc arrangements, least of all in politics & still less in an historical end-period.
THREE AGES ENDING
For — and here I am taking directly from Dr Lukacs — you must bear in mind that in the West we are now at three endings, conflated & avalanching on top of one another:
1) There is first of all the end of the Late Modern Age of the nation-state that lasted from 1865 in America & 1871 in Europe, down to the pulling down of the wall in Berlin at the end of 1989.
2) Now, in turn, that Late Modern period is but the closing scene of the Renaissance civilization that bore from the Early Modern Age beginning in the late fifteenth century & running right down until just a scant generation ago.
3) And, the whole Modern Age was simply the culmination in the World psychologically & mythologically of the entire Christian aeon of over two millenia.
As perhaps one now may begin to feel, it is no small thing to look over the canyon wall and see how long & how far the West now may indeed be about to fall!
And, regardless of our soft assured solipses hissed in one another’s waxy ears in our now-irreparable system of “peer-reviewed” “higher education,” while other cultures in the World ALL ALONG have been living out their own time lines, however momentarily suppressed; and, while other cultural centers will in time emerge & command the World; there is in the near- & midterm future, of possibly as much as the next five hundred years, an extended period of barbarism awaiting.
Again, “barbarism” is not all bad — the last period marked great technological breakthroughs in Europe in such things as hydrology, irrigation & drainage — and there will continue to be a minority in the World, for example, who are Christian & another that are scientists….
But, the World now & abruptly as these things go in History is already (!) haring off in a whole new direction, and thus far even our best attempts to frame & to try to control the Future by imposing our dead models on it are simply & I should think rather obviously wide of the mark, when not actually just plain wrong:
This goes equally I should say as to “global warming,” the United Nations, a “free market” & all of the rest of the sacred jabbered incantations.
NEEDED : AN HISTORICAL PRESIDENT
This sort of thing is what I, for one, look for any would-be President to give even a small inkle of & if only to one side as it may be; of knowing about; or, of even having just thought a bit about,….
So, in this perspective — you will do me the justice of admitting its greater breadth, I trust, Mr N? — you may be able to take consolation to realize that Mrs Clinton is simply not that much “better” or “worse” than any of the other contenders of any party or stripe:
ALL are what I have termed elsewhere “era-personalities,” and neither can they sow anything at all more in the World of any good & nor of course shall they ever reap their just portion of the mess now laid up for our descendants.
These poor souls who aspire to lead us from out of their befuddlement, the best & flashiest of our ambiguous 1946-64 lot by the way & like it or not, are only the ghostly remnants of an outlook formed in the 1960s, about the World of the 1970s and that crashed for good & all already in the ending up of the 1980s, at the bona fide end, indeed, of an Age.
[all rights revert to holders
[20 June 2013]