Restructuring a Collapsing Culture
W. Cleon Skousen. Restructuring a Collapsing Culture. [From Law & Order, January 1972]
“Is there a cure for America’s cultural crisis?”
There certainly is if the patient wants to be cured. After all, the trauma of the present is merely a shock wave of the past which has finally caught up with us.
In some ways a sick society is like an alcoholic or a drug addict. It has to choose between the excruciating withdrawal pains on the one hand or the seductive euphoria of its own death-wish on the other.
Some of us are old enough to remember the last cultural crisis — the one that hit during the roaring twenties. The iconoclastic climate of that period was one of sex, booze, speculation, cynicism and crime. Washington became riddled with scandals. Bombs were sent to top officials through the mails. Wild speculation in stocks, real estate and get-rich-quick schemes was rampant. The wild college kids took on life as though it were some extravagant orchestration of gin, raccoon coats, rumble scats and whoopee parties. Divorce rates skyrocketed. So did crime. Organized hoodlumism became a national industry. In New York and Chicago fraternizing with big-time gangsters was a social status symbol.
How We Learned Our Lesson the Last Time
Then came the crash, the depression and the war. Americans found themselves on their knees. First, there were the bankruptcies and forced sales. Then there were the bread lines, the empty stores, the rusting rails and the smokeless smokestacks. After that came Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo. At first there was frustration, a feeling of defeat and bitter hopelessness, then people hit rock bottom and came smack up against the stark reality of the need to survive.
America’s worst depression and the threat of an apocalyptic war soon began having a purging effect. Hedonism began subsiding as a way of life. Many people (not all to be sure, but many) got down to the gut realities of personal responsibility, hard work, acquiring earned self-confidence, and acknowledging the desperate need for a revitalized moral discipline. Slowly, things began to shape up.
After Pearl Harbor the trend seemed to surge upward sharply, and during the next four years, a struggling, sweating nation of angry Americans invented, designed and out-produced the rest of the world in food, tanks, guns, ships, planes, bombs and all the other paraphernalia of war. It brought about a large part of what became the final victory. It was a great chapter in human history.
The Old Cultural Sickness Returns
But that was the peak. Nearly twenty-five years later we find the country once more slipping back down to a new low. Riding on a bubble of synthetic prosperity, America finds herself more deeply in debt than all the other nations of the earth combined. Much of that debt resulted from generous gifts to needy nations, but in the United Nations, America is boisterously voted down by some of those she helped the most. Her once proud American dollar which was the paragon of fiscal stability for three decades finds itself sinking into an abyss of “floating” commodity market value with neither gold nor silver to support it.
American diplomatic leadership finds itself shattered on the reef-rocks of a new policy of political capitulation which requires the President to go hat in hand to plead for peace and understanding with some of the most vicious mentalities of the Communist world hierarchy.
Government documents from the Pentagon are stolen and published to disclose the fact that politicians have been secretly plotting wars while publicly promising peace.
In a time of prosperity and military withdrawal, the American people suddenly find their President declaring a national emergency and invoking powers ordinarily reserved for times of war. Federal controls on wages and prices are imposed with rationing and restrictions on profits waiting close behind. This is done, it is said, to curb inflation, but only a year earlier the head of the nation had confessed that inflation was really caused by governmental deficit spending which dumps billions of dollars of new printing-press money into the channels of commerce. The bloated money market pushes up prices and these pull up wages.
Still, the head of the nation admits that he is not going to balance budgets as he promised in 1968 but expects his deficit spending for the years 1971 and 1972 to total 40 billion. He also admits that he is a disciple of Keynesian economics which means that the latest governmental edicts are not to control inflation but to control people.
Most Americans don’t yet realize it, but they are in a whole new ball game.
What About the People?
Of course, the hope of America has never been its politicians, but the common sense of the people. How serious is the cultural sickness on that level?
Well, the prognosis is far from hopeless, but the patient is definitely suffering from multiple social sclerosis. For several million Americans, street crime and white collar crime have once more become a way of life. For another several million, the willingness to live permanently on charity-welfare has become their way of life. In yet another large segment of America there is the old sickness of profligate hedonism — perverted sex, pornography, hard-core commercial obscenity, drug addiction, alcoholism, broken homes, broken spirits, abandoned goals. A lot of this taint is reflected in the schools, in the movies, on radio and television. Even in many of the churches.
On top of all this there has developed a tremendous credibility gap between the public and the media so that people aren’t sure what they can believe any more. There is also a widespread feeling of distrust between the people and their elected representatives. This is reflected in the decay of public institutions. The courts are flagrantly insulted by screaming defendants on the inside and marching mobs on the outside. Police officers are brazenly hunted down and murdered with two and three trials sometimes being required before prosecutors can get past all the technicalities imposed by Supreme Court edicts and secure a final conviction.
The Current Rash of Quack Doctors and Phony Cures
The problem is further complicated by the fact that cultural crises are like epidemics — they always produce a flock of quack practitioners anxious to peddle their phony cures.
These are coming from the community of American intellectuals who seem to be suffering from a panic seizure of paranoia and fear. From their ivory towers they broadcast a constant stream of vilification against practically everything which made America great in the past. They advocate abandonment of the Constitution (this has been subtly suggested in several Presidential speeches), the repudiation of America’s built-in code of Judaic-Christian morality (Washington said we couldn’t survive without it), the scrapping of America’s competitive free-enterprise system (which gave us the highest standard of living in the world), and the elimination of private property as a source of security and independence (the newly proposed “Property Act” would make the government owner of all land with private citizens having to lease it!).
Of course, the brainy jet-set claim our society is now too complex for the “luxuries” of fundamental principles which we used in the past. Yet the more these mental giants meddle with our system the more complex and impossible it becomes. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Men With Ambitions To Take Over the Country
One large group of strange American mentalities gravitates around the think tank complex at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Santa Barbara, California. There, a leading proponent for the overthrow of the U.S. Constitution, is a well known luminary, Rexford Guy Tugwell, who wrote back in 1931 that the only hope for Americans is in adopting the pattern of institutions set up by the Soviet Union. Last year he came up with a new “model” constitution written along totalitarian lines. It is being hailed on many university campuses as the future hope of the U.S.A. It is actually the blueprint for a dictatorial police state (as we have already seen in previous chapters).
Another group of intellectual social engineers have branched out from the Center at Santa Barbara and are spending literally millions of dollars trying to promote an organization called, “Common Cause.” This is led by the former president of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation, John W. Gardner. These foundations are the very same centers of the dynastic rich who organized and financed the Council On Foreign Relations and the Institute of Pacific Relations. These, in turn, are the agencies which were exposed by Congressional investigations with having guided American foreign policy into the loss of China, the debacle in Cuba, and the surrender of a dozen free nations in eastern Europe. They are now determined to amalgamate the economy and culture of the United States with that of the Soviet Union (as indicated in the notorious Phoenix Papers). These foundations are also interrelated with other foundations which were discovered financing the Black Panthers, SDS, the Weathermen, and similar revolutionary groups.
Leading intellectuals from several of these groups have already held a number of secret meetings to probe the possibility of creating a new political party for the purpose of taking over the country. The more they get their way and the more complicated our society becomes, the more likely it will be that these strange mentalities may succeed. There is one thing in which they are world-champions — making promises. And uninformed, confused Americans are wide open when it comes to rosy promises. That is the real danger.
But deep down in their hearts the majority of the American people know what is needed. That is why the politicians keep promising it to them. Then, when they get in power, they often do the very opposite.
That is what happened in 1932. The Democratic Party came up with such a fine platform that Americans from both parties got behind it. It contained America’s basic formula for success — eliminating inflationary deficit spending, providing balanced Federal budgets, getting the government out of private business, reducing the weight of unnecessary bureaucracy, reducing wasteful Federal programs, etc. The people bought it. But by 1936, Al Smith (former head of the Democratic Party in 1932 and candidate for president in 1928) told the party rank-and-file that the 1932 Democratic platform had been betrayed by Rexford Guy Tugwell and other brain-trusters who had been advising the President. (If you want a copy of Al Smith’s speech and a comprehensive rundown on how we arrived where we are, see Appendix A of The Naked Capitalist.)
In 1968, the Republican platform contained the same basic formula as the Democratic platform of 1932. Once again the majority of the American people in both parties agreed that this was what was needed and got behind it. Now someone has to tell them that they have been betrayed again. The White House is loaded with men from the top echelon of the Council On Foreign Relations together with academic intellectuals who studied under the brain-trusters of the ’30s. It is the same old routine only more so.
Resurrecting America’s “Lost Formula”
But Americans don’t have to take this.
What Americans have to realize is the fact that they once had a truly great thing going for them and a hodgepodge of political, sociological and economic theorists are trying to rob them of it. What these men are promoting is what many other nations are trying to unload. It just has not worked. And these straitjacket remedies are not easy to unload. As a repentant collectivist in Sweden said, “How do you unscramble an egg?” It took the United States nearly ten generations to demonstrate that the freedom route is the only satisfying, pleasant and prosperous route. Now a few affluent radicals want to wipe it all out in a single generation.
We need to admit that we are morally sick and start teaching and practicing the standards of honesty, morality and integrity, which make us into decent parents, responsible citizens, trusted employees and a people worthy of survival. The founding fathers said an immoral nation would produce a rotting civilization. This is happening. It has to be stopped. Drugs have to be stopped. Drunken drivers weaving down our freeways have to be stopped. Crime, violence and riots must be made totally unprofitable. The deterioration of churches into philosophical brothels must be stopped. The whole degenerate, immoral, profligate and permissive era must come to a halt.
The inevitable question of “how” has to be answered, of course. And the answer is rather simple. We do precisely what circumstances forced us to do the last time we had a cultural crisis. Hopefully, we will do it without waiting for a nuclear war or a cataclysmic depression to force us to our knees. We need to get down to the basic realities of hard work, personal responsibility, purposeful living, and a functioning application of Judaic-Christian moral principles in our individual lives.
This isn’t the first time America has been confronted with drugs, crime, riots, and violence. We have stopped them before. We did it by generating enough moral indignation to start enforcing the law. And educating our citizens to honor and sustain the law. The American culture will get a bright new face lifting just as soon as we develop enough intestinal fortitude to openly declare war on the venal sources of social cancer which have produced these problems.
We also need to admit that we are economically bankrupt and get rid of the policies and politicians which made this bankruptcy inevitable. We start out by compelling our government to live within its means. And do the same ourselves. Already we have borrowed most of the next generations inheritance — at least four hundred billion dollars worth. It’s time we figured out a way to balance our books.
It is also time we recognized that our apathy toward foreign and domestic political problems has allowed a faction of high-powered manipulators to take over both of our major parties and spin us off into a dizzy orbital space journey which is intended to eventually make us merely a province of a one-world socialist state. We need to start developing a breed of men who can fill public office without being totally discredited every time a congressional investigating committee brings to light the manner in which they have been conducting the people’s business.
Finally, we need to recognize that many of our neighborhoods are suffering from an aggravated form of environmental pollution. We need to move in on our schools, our theaters, the newsstands and other places where gutter mentalities have been working night and day to corrupt the young and frustrate the work of dedicated teachers, theater managers, reporters and public officials who have deplored what has been happening but have needed a lot of grassroots support to stem the tide. It can be done and it must be done. We have been living in a fool’s paradise long enough.
This, then, brings us to the conclusion of a series of 23 articles on the American cultural crisis. It was written in the hope that fellow law enforcement officers would recognize that the fantastically difficult period through which we are passing is considerably more than an accident. It was planned, promoted, financed, and carefully implemented. And it will continue to follow the same course unless those in each community who love law and order and the traditional pattern of American life, band themselves together and provide the muscle to resist these debilitating forces on every front where we find them operating.
I recognize, of course, that the vast majority of Americans are almost totally unaware of what is being done to them. A Pearl Harbor would awaken them but in a nuclear age that would be too late. We must rely, therefore, on the sturdy few who have been doing their homework and hope that they can reach enough to turn the tide in time.
Otherwise, articles like those in this series will provide interesting but tragic reading in 1984 and beyond.