Disorientation Or Disoccidentation?

     The United States of America rose to world dominance for reasons that the bien pensants of academia would like to obscure and efface. Rather simply, it was the ideal of individual freedom, which unleashed the creative and productive energies of men as never before, coupled to Christianity and its ethic, which restrained men’s predatory impulses better than any previously known moral system. (Cue the carping voices from the back benches whining about slavery and protesting that “it was never perfect.” Then cue the ushers with the shillelaghs and the rolls of extra-wide duct tape.) With those two conceptions in the lead, there was nothing that could stop us.

     With those two conceptions being tossed on the trash heap today, there’s nothing that can save us.


     There’s a writer in Blogdom whom I know only by his Internet moniker “Baron Bodissey.” He borrowed that moniker from science-fiction novelist Jack Vance, who employs Unspiek, Baron Bodissey, as an important but never directly portrayed background figure. The good Baron is filled with valuable insights on things both historical and contemporary. And as one might expect from a thinker who gets it right when others persist in wandering in the intellectual desert, the Baron has a lot of detractors.

     I don’t know whether our contemporary Baron has any great number of detractors. I would guess that he has some; it’s the pattern of intellectual history that men disposed to see clearly, think logically, and speak plainly are widely disliked. As Heinlein has told us, “Being right too soon is socially unacceptable.” The habit can seriously impede one’s social life.

     It seems that the Baron and I share both an advanced age and a sense of fatigue:

     We’ll be coming up on the twentieth anniversary of Gates of Vienna later this year, and the process of preparing for an anniversary post has induced a sort of reverie in me as I contemplate the events of the past two decades.
     Things have changed a lot, both externally and internally. I often feel like I’m too old to be doing this sort of thing. I’m over seventy now, and should be relaxing somewhere pleasant, enjoying the time that remains to me before I shuffle off this mortal coil.
     And I sometimes feel like I’m close to burning out — I’ve just seen too way much information, most of it horrible. I wish I could return to the naïve, idealistic state of mind that I had when I started this job, but, alas, that’s not an option. Once you walk through the door of greater awareness, there’s no turning back. And, worst of all, I don’t think I’ve reached the limit of ghastly understanding. It seems likely that the worst is yet to come.

     [Emphasis added by FWP.]

     A bit later today, I’m going to add the emphasized sentence to the header of this site. It expresses my own sentiments perfectly.


     Ponder the following from journalist / columnist Emerald Robinson:

     That, Gentle Reader, is the epitome of the Zoroastrian ideal: to speak truth and shoot the arrow straight. It’s enough to fill with shame anyone who’s sat with folded hands and watched our degradation without even emitting a whimper. But who, of the millions who’ve refrained from even raising a voice in protest against the destruction of all that’s valuable in our society, feels that shame today? Have we not, in the main, simply closed our eyes to it – or run from it?

     Early in The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis observes that men of an earlier era responded to ideas rather more definitely than do we:

     At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning.

     Let that sink in for a moment. Then ponder this: given the incredible weight of evidence to the effect that:

  • Men are free by natural right;
  • The Christian ethic is superior to all other models for interpersonal relations;

     …do you, Gentle Reader, regard either of those propositions as dubious? If so, why? And if not: what aspects of your life have you altered in recognition of those truths?

     No, I’m not here to make anyone feel guilty. That’s just a side effect. I’m really here to talk about economics.


     There are more voices than just the Baron’s and mine raised about this stuff. You’d think, given the eloquence and force the best of us possess, we should have made some progress in combatting the tide. But it is not so, and one of the greatest of us has told us why:

     If it were just terrorists bombing buildings and public transit, it would be easier; even the feeblest Eurowimp jurisdiction is obliged to act when the street is piled with corpses. But there’s an old technique well understood by the smarter bullies. If you want to break a man, don’t attack him head on, don’t brutalize him; pain and torture can awaken a stubborn resistance in all but the weakest. But just make him slightly uncomfortable, disrupt his life at the margin, and he’ll look for the easiest path to re-normalization. There are fellows rampaging through the streets because of some cartoons? Why, surely the most painless solution would be if we all agreed not to publish such cartoons. [From Mark Steyn’s America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It ]

     That embeds the core study of economics: how we respond to incentives and disincentives. We tend, as individuals, to look for ways to get what we want – or to avert what we don’t want – at acceptable price. Moreover, if we see the same good available at two different prices, we gravitate toward the lower one. All other things being equal, of course.

     We have a latent capacity for thinking in aggregates – groups; tribes; societies; nations – that we occasionally invoke for “public” purposes. Douglas Hofstadter called it “superrationality.” Martin Gardner renamed it “renormalized rationality,” which I find more attractive. However, that capacity isn’t nearly as strong as our tendency to ask “What’s in it for me, and at what price?”

     Today, that individualization of our responses to events utterly dominates our behavior. Rather than confront the fomenters of evil and chaos, we avert or escape them. We move away, implicitly ceding the streets, and the field, to them. We seldom oppose them even with words. Mark Steyn told us so in connection with the rapidly metastasizing cancer of Islam, but it applies far more broadly than that.


     I choose my neologisms carefully. The one in the title of this piece is no exception. If you, Gentle Reader, feel disoriented because of the chaos spreading among us, it may be because we are being disoccidented. We are being transformed, with or without our consent, into men our ancestors might not have recognized and would not have approved.

     Not all of us, of course. Many, especially in locales distant from the big cities and the coasts, retain the spirit of independence, self-reliance, and self-restraint that was common among earlier American men. A regime of individual freedom and Christian ethics selects for such men. Women recognize their quality and seek them as mates. The rest fall by the wayside: they don’t prosper or procreate sufficiently to have a large impact upon the future.

     I’ve written about this subject before, of course. This essay, and this one, and this other one were especially pointed. Yet they’ve had little impact. I seldom hear about them from our readers or anyone else.

     I fear what is to come. Along with the Baron, I don’t expect I’ll live to see the final blackout. I rather hope I won’t.


     Apologies for depressing you, Gentle Reader. The Baron’s piece struck a chord with me, and I had to write it out of my head. But there you have it: the plaint of a weary old man who sees what he loves being brought to ruin, while others who love it just as much – or claim to, anyway – stand by and watch. And all of it in conformance with the laws of economics, at that.

     Have a nice day.


    • Sam on April 22, 2024 at 8:55 AM

    “Stop coddling these demons.”

    That reminded me of a short article by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn where he attempted to answer the question, “But what can we do to stop it? We haven’t the strength.”
    Live Not By Lies:https://www.solzhenitsyncenter.org/live-not-by-lies

    • Drumwaster on April 22, 2024 at 11:01 AM

    I recall from my time in Uncle Sam’s Canoe Club that it was standard procedure in the arriving/departure from the Med to make a southerly diversion into Libya’s Gulf of Sidra, for no other reason than to “show the flag” in making legal travel through internationally recognized open waters, with Libya’s impotent shouts about “territorial integrity” being summarily dismissed by anyone who got suckered into listening. (More than one potentially hostile acts were taken against US forces, with unpleasant outcomes for Gaddafi and Assoc.)
    NYPD beat cops had patrols who were designed to do much the same – to show the flag and establish the precedent for anyone who wanted to stroll around on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. But that, too, has fallen by the wayside, with most New Yorkers apparently believing that it is the presence of cops that causes the crime, not the other way around.
    “In small towns as well as large, good people outnumber bad people by 100 to 1. In big towns the 100 are nervous. But in small towns, it’s the one.” — Paul Harvey

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