A Culture of Death
My mother sat there weeping silent tears, as I thought about those twenty families who’ll never again be able to celebrate Christmas.
26 dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School; 25 murders and 1 suicide at the hands of Adam Lanza.
“One of your Facebook friends,” she said, wiping her eyes, “said that you ought to write something about it.”
“I should,” I replied; except hpx83 over at Save Capitalism had already beat me to it:
What is ghastly about this events is not the number of dead. Hurricane Katrina was ghastly too, but not in the same way. The reason that these kinds of crimes feels like they are an attack on society itself is because they are – or rather they are an attack on civilized society. In a barbaric society, it would just be another pointless round of murders. The key to understanding how profoundly deranged and devolving US society has become is by looking at the victims.
Had the shooter opted to go into a police station and open fire it would have been different. Had he gone down to the worst neighbourhood in a bad city and opened fire among criminals it would have been different. Had he attacked an army base, or gone to a shooting range it would have been different. He did none of these things, because his goal was that the victims should be
- Symbolic of those needing protection
The group best fulfilling these criteria are children not under the direct supervision of their parents, left in a vulnerable state under the supervision of teachers. Why do these shooters choose this particular group of victims when they decide to spread death? Because their enemy is not only themselves, it is society at large. More specifically, it is civilized society which rests on the assumption that people do not commit random acts of violence. If we were all constantly prepared for random violence, we would all be prepared to defend ourselves. We would also live in the stone-ages, or even worse, because any working society is dependant on the assumption that people can co-operate without the constant threat of violence and death.
Hpx83 nails it, you can read the rest here; I have very little to add. Instead, I’m going to explain what exactly is meant by the term “Culture of Death.” On the surface it sounds like poetic license, like an exaggeration, or medieval-style thinking. If only it were so.
I’m afraid it points to a very concrete Memetic.
As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been discussing quite a bit of Theology on my YouTube Channel of late; some have mistaken it for exclusively Christian thought, but there’s a great deal of Taoist, Confucian, Buddhist, Bushidist, and even some Hindu thought in there as well. It’s not that I’ve suddenly found Jesus in my old age, it’s that religious thought is the most profound and well-mapped philosophy we have of Good, Evil, and the human soul.
There’s a paucity to the modern, materialistic philosophies of ethics; they’re built on a flattened world, free of flying buttresses, where the Infinite becomes a mere mathematical curiosity, rather than a profound beauty of reality. They’re infected by the Leftist dogma – equality, blank-slatism, mediocrity, mundaneity – and their outright rejection of the profound prevents them from ever growing beyond ‘enlightened’ hedonism.
Note that I’m not talking about God, the afterlife, magic, or divine intervention; I’m talking about a view of humanity and the Universe which includes an acceptance of the infinite. I’m talking about high-level mathematical realities which we can only just glimpse at, which make grand statements about the nature of these self-aware meat machines wandering the planet.
Atheistkult is unable to raise its eyes above the hedonic. They are blind to any grand purpose, to any natural cycles of the soul, the best they can hope to achieve is a complex, overly-rational(ized) system for increasing hedons, and decreasing dolors. Their most perfect misunderstanding is the Torture vs. Dust Specks Dilemma.
What’s the least bad, bad thing that can happen? Well, suppose a dust speck floated into your eye and irritated it just a little, for a fraction of a second, barely enough to make you notice before you blink and wipe away the dust speck.
Would you prefer that one person be horribly tortured for fifty years without hope or rest, or that 3^^^3 people get dust specks in their eyes?
I think the answer is obvious. How about you?
In a Universe with nothing but hedons and dolors, the answer is obvious; no matter which way you try to parse the mathematics, at some point a sufficient number of people receiving a minimal quantity of pain is worse than a single person receiving the maximum amount of pain. It’s no different than saying that two people suffering a broken leg is more bad than one. Based upon these premises, Eliezer Yudkowsky is correct.
But he’s missing one of the premises – namely that needless torture is always wrong.
Over the past century we’ve seen the Churches, the schools, and the culture degenerate to the lowest common denominator. The Churches in particular – which used to provide a demanding moral standard for your average prole – have become so desperate for donations that they’ve become echo-chambers of self-congratulatory behaviour. As a young man what always stood out to me was how Christians seemed to think that the “fact” that they were Saved meant that they could treat their fellow man like dirt. The Church’s absorption of Feminist “Women can do no wrong” nonsense is part of this mercenary desperation as well.
It’s no wonder, then, that we have such a great misunderstanding of what Good actually is.
Good does not mean nice.
Middle English (in the sense ‘stupid’): from Old French, from Latin nescius ‘ignorant’, from nescire ‘not know’. Other early senses included ‘coy, reserved’, giving rise to ‘fastidious, scrupulous’: this led both to the sense ‘fine, subtle’ (regarded by some as the ‘correct’ sense), and to the main current senses
Certainly a large number of pleasant things are Good – a loving family, a healthy meal, a warm home – but it doesn’t take much thinking to come up with pleasant things that are bad – unhealthy emotional validation, sugary foods, and needless, consumerist purchases. A bit of further thought and you start to notice things that are unpleasant which still manage to be Good: disciplining oneself to eat responsibly, study,and spend money wisely; pain and suffering which lead to wisdom; mistakes and bad choices being punished by their natural consequences, whether this be a company going bankrupt, or an individual suffering due to their poor decisions in life.
“…remember that all worlds draw to an end and that noble death is a treasure which no one is too poor to buy.”
~C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
Without Good and Evil – without the infinite and transcendent – all you’re left with is nice and bad. While there are plenty of post-hoc justifications for turning “nice and bad” into something resembling a coherent ethical discipline, that’s not the natural riverbed for this stream of thought. The natural trend is towards Marxist Socialism. For instance, take the following situations:
- A woman enjoying extreme sexual hedonism during her beautiful years, and suffering deprivation and loneliness in her old age,
- A wire-head stimulating the regions of his brain which contain the emotions “happiness,” “pride of acomplishment,” and “sense of self-worth” instead of achieving anything concrete,
- Redistributive income which prevents the extreme suffering of those who make bad choices, while only slightly reducing the happiness of those who are already happy from their good life choices.
From a purely hedons vs. dolors perspective, each of these situations tilts the ledger from red into black; and yet anyone on the alt-right can instantly see the moral hazard within them. Ignoring the Tao leads to suffering. If all one sees is the Ledger of Happiness, the only imaginable solution is to double-down on the redistribution; more equality, more hammering on the nail which sticks up, more of Orwell’s boot on the face of humanity.
Call it Natural Law, call it Bushido, or call it the stark moral mathematics of the right; by any name, we ignore it at our own peril.
What it all boils down to is rebellion against nature; a desire to live in an incongruent fantasy land where choices don’t have consequence.
We are part of the natural world, and we can no more live outside the consequences of our own decisions than we can live outside of an atmosphere.
The natural world dictates the Four Ages of Man – Child, Young Adult, Maturity, Old Age – and the Three Ages of Woman – Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Accept this as part of yourself and you age gracefully, achieving wisdom, honour, and respect as your life nears its end. Rebel against it and you have the modern world of perpetual teenager-dom – grown men wearing baseball caps, forty year old women slutting about like Sex in the City rejects, a life wasted on stimulating the pleasure centres of the brain and nothing more.
Heck, even some of the Transhumanists have noticed that death – or at least, a Doctor Who-style reboot – is both necessary and Good.
The natural world dictates hierarchy and competition; with Monarchy you have a group leading society who recognizes that “to rule is to serve,” and that should they fail in their tasks they will be held accountable by the guillotine. With Democracy you have the blind leading the blind, the separation of power and responsibility, and the degradation to the Lowest Common Denominator
When we talk about a Culture of Death we’re talking about a society that’s forgotten its purpose. Instead of learning, loving, growing, and building, we’re a society which lives for the moment. We institute welfare programs which cause the poor to breed themselves into misery; we ignore transcendent sexuality and turn it into a bowel movement; we measure everything by hedons and dolors, mistake wealth for success, and prevent the great from achieving.
The result is atomized, broken individuals. Instead of a culture they have a sub-culture which they purchased at Hot Topic. Instead of becoming educated and responsible political actors, they’re part of a “Lifestyle group” which the political parties market to accordingly. Instead of building something with their life – starting a business, starting a family, creating a great work of art, or a great invention – they become lifelong consumers, working for a wage, never showing ambition, and behaving at the age of 40 the same as they behaved at the age of 20. Instead of marriage, and sacrifice, and lifelong commitment they have a series of hook-ups, mistaking infatuation for love.
They live vicariously through Hollywood prevarications; they never truly live at all.
So when we see something like this school shooting-
On an even deeper level, what these murderers target are any kind of human values. They are looking to prove that Nietsche was not only right – that God is dead – but that we are ALL dead. That no bonds between people can or should exist, and that the only thing anyone should ever have in their lives is the fear of death. If these people had a nuclear bomb, they would detonate it over the most densely populated area they could find. They want everyone to feel as dead as they are inside, and they want to make themselves more evil than Satan – because as they are no longer able to feel anything positive at all, they want to force us all to share their painful death. In all of these murders, the shooter either commits suicide by his own gun, or suicide-by-cop. They not only want to see the world burn, but they do so with a passion for death and evil. They are not human.
It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.
The media is already abuzz with arguments for gun-control, for greater surveillance, for one-hundred-and-one different plans that will do nothing but assure that more tragedies lie in our future.
When seconds count, the police are just minutes away.
Photo by Jessica Hill, AP
Our society has become the equivalent of a heroin junky shooting up with a dirty needle: the obsession with youth, the empty-calorie sexuality, the money-makes-you-happy consumerism, socialism, and economic manipulation; the equality of snowflakes, the “your vote counts, you need to have a voice” democracy; the “freedom” of license, from marital obligations, of choosing infatuation over love. Ostensibly it’s all a pursuit of pleasure, a flight from the bad, but what it truly worships is Death.
Being terrified of dying is the surest way to never Live.
This is not a metaphor, this is not magical thinking, it is an apt description of the world we’re building. Murder – Suicide – Extinction – the Annihilation of the Self – this is where we’re headed.
Adam Lanza wasn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. So long as we choose What’s Pleasurable over What’s Right, we are marching towards our own destruction.
My novel, As I Walk These Broken Roads