Saturday, December 10, 2011

What happened to progress?

There's a new film out in Australia called Decadence: The Decline of the Western World. It has been made by someone of Sri Lankan descent named Pria Viswalingam. He remembers a time when Asia was in awe of the West, but he now believes that Western civilisation might be on the way out:

Viswalingam is a former SBS TV presenter whose credits include Fork in the Road and Class. Having devoted a career to analysing culture and society, he says the symptoms of decay and decadence are unmistakeable.

Those symptoms include soaring suicide rates and the west's addiction to anti-depressants. They include rampant individualism, emptying churches and disintegrating families. And they include the west's obsessive devotion to money as the only true measure of worth.

The good thing about this is that Viswalingam is asking the right questions. He is concerned about what holds a society together and what allows it to continue as a tradition into the future. Liberals are relatively indifferent to this. They don't identify much with communal traditions and are more likely to worry about meeting the political aims of liberalism itself.

So a liberal might think of the West as progressing because it is becoming, say, more multicultural (i.e. more liberal), even whilst someone like Viswalingam sees signs of decadence that threaten the future of the West.

What's interesting is that we seem to have reached a point at which some intellectuals are beginning to look outside of the liberal framework and recognise that it's not just a question of progress toward liberalism. I've noticed that even in solidly liberal papers like the Melbourne Age, that the rise of China has started to focus some minds on the possibility of Western decline.

Some of the reviews of Viswalingam's film have also been surprisingly positive. The review in the Melbourne Age was even titled "Society is past its use by date" and included the following quote from Alexander McCall Smith:

"People have been talking about the 'broken society' for some time now," Smith wrote in a complementary article. "[The British] riots demonstrated just how broken. The broken society is a consequence partly of social change and cultural change.

"The social change is familiar: the destruction of the family as the fundamental social unit would be fine if we had replaced it with something. We have not. [And] it’s a culture in which we seem to have abandoned many of the values on which we based our civilisation.

"We don’t know what we believe in and are busy bringing up children who share our confusion ... We have created a strange culture perpetuated by television and other media that rejoices in and celebrates dysfunction, violence and anti-social behaviour."

It's even significant that Viswalingam pinpoints 1969 as the turning point. I think he's wrong here - the problems go back much further than 1969. But the fact that Western intellectuals are starting to talk about the 1960s as a source of decline shows how things can change. The 1960s were once held up by the left as a golden age of political radicalism.

And that's an important lesson to draw from this. There are some people who are sympathetic to traditionalism but who are too defeatist. They believe that things will just go on as before with a rock solid liberal orthodoxy. It discourages them from a more active participation in a traditionalist movement.

But politics can change. It's possible that there will be more favourable conditions for us to build a movement and to argue our politics amongst the intellectual/political class. We need to keep trying to push ourselves forward.

Finally, although many of the talking heads in the film come from the left, I was pleased to see that Professor John Carroll also has a role. He is the writer of "Humanism: The Wreck of Western Culture" - one of the best of the recent books that could broadly be described as traditionalist.

So we have a major documentary film which actually has a traditionalist-leaning academic featured in it. That is not a common occurrence in the Australian film industry. It's enough to make me want to find time to go and see the film in the cinemas.

24 comments:

  1. The question is to what extent are conservative/traditionalists willing to team up with leftists to promote their objectives? There is precedent for it, for instance in the realm of pornography where Christian and feminist groups work together to restrict access. One has to wonder a or little though whether Pria Viswalingam is interested in reversing the decline or is instead bragging about the rise of Asia. Leftists for instance in the Soviet Union loved using the decadence line in attacks on the West.

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  2. One has to wonder a or little though whether Pria Viswalingam is interested in reversing the decline or is instead bragging about the rise of Asia.

    Pria Viswalingam did a series a few years back called Decadence: the Meaningless of Modern Life. I'm not sure if this is the same series? But in any case he's very very pro-western.

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  3. Is this movie, here on youtube?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEmwLAAmyZA&feature=related

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  4. Tim, that's the earlier TV series referred to by dfordoom.

    Jesse, I agree that we have to consider the agenda of those leftists who are recognising decline.

    Even so, the message doesn't fit easily into the usual left-liberal politics.

    Instead of the idea that family breakdown represents a liberation from oppressive norms, it is being recognised as a symptom of decline. Similarly, the 60s aren't being lionised as symbolising leftist idealism, but rather as lurching the West into a downward spiral.

    And, as I mentioned in the post, it means that the right questions are being asked. The frame suits us better.

    But I really need to see the film before I know to what extent it represent a break from normal programming.

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  5. I saw a documentary 20 years ago made by this fellow on SBS. Back then he talked about the rise of Asia and how Australians (read white Australians)would struggle to "...keep up with the Wangs".

    That phrase - in particular - stuck in my mind as it occured to me back then that he had a chip on his shoulder against whitey. Apparently nothing has changed in the 20 years since.

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  6. The majority opinion of Desi (subcontinent) people is that Australia should be ethnically cleansed of Whites and repopulated with Desi.
    This is the view held by their nationalist majority.
    Funny story about the word Desi I once asked a Desi do you have a word for all the people from the subcontinent area. He replied that no there is no such word implying that they aren't racist like whites.
    Well what a big fat lie there is a word they use and it is DESI.
    Typical deceitful indians.

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  7. My fear is that this is a non-white person making the film.

    So is this going to be more white bashing?

    Is this a warning or a celebration?

    Sometimes I think the "Death of the West" articles/movies fit best under the "Surrender Dorothy" meme that Vanishing American talks about.

    Things are pretty simple to fix in the West. But having non-whites write movies about how we are all stuffed up, only gives more ammo to the bad guys. "Look it takes a non-white guy to point out the white man's flaws"

    Anyways...just my opinion

    [MR: small edit to remove the f-bomb]

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  8. Aye Aye to the last two anonymous comments...

    I too have had the experience of having Indians get all "high and mighty" on me...by a person who loved to brag about partaking of the slave labor caste system

    I don't trust the lot of 'em

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  9. It is irritating when Leftists and non-whites are the only people given permission to cite obvious common sense.

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  10. I think people are being a little unfair on Pria Viswalingam. He's someone who grew up seeing the west as a beacon of hope, someone who saw western civilisation as an inspiration.

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  11. "The social change is familiar: the destruction of the family as the fundamental social unit would be fine if we had replaced it with something. We have not. [And] it’s a culture in which we seem to have abandoned many of the values on which we based our civilisation.

    Once liberal, forever liberal. Delusion never dies.

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  12. What on earth would you replace the family with? The barracks? The breeding chamber? The pepetual boarding school? Please no more easy solutions to societal problems.

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  13. the destruction of the family as the fundamental social unit would be fine if we had replaced it with something

    Anon, well spotted. I'd missed that.

    I too have had the experience of having Indians get all "high and mighty" on me

    Maybe this relates to the caste system in these countries. I know someone from a high caste background in Sri Lanka. She looks down on low caste Sri Lankans, but seems to treat Western teachers as high caste.

    But she seemed a lot more focused on maintaining her position within the Sri Lankan immigrant community than with lording it over white Australians.

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  14. Here's an interview with Pria Viswalingam about the film:

    Is Western civilisation in decay?

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  15. Well I wanted to believe Pria was one of those rare non-Europeans who valued every aspect of European civilisation. It isn't the case.
    Hes very pro-western thats true but as a consumer he loves all the trappings of the west he states however the best things about the west are the things that are actually destroying it. Multiculturalism, feminism and all the other 'progressive' movements.
    So in the end he is simple stating the obvious but is allowed to state the obvious because he is brown. Which is a sad example of western decay in itself.
    Stating the obvious for an indigenous European is criminal (ie Emma west)

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  16. he states however the best things about the west are the things that are actually destroying it. Multiculturalism, feminism and all the other 'progressive' movements.

    That's the problem of course when liberals start to realise that civilisation is collapsing. They can't face up to the truth that they're the ones responsible for the mess and that fixing the problem will require them to abandon their liberal ideologies.

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  17. What on earth would you replace the family with? The barracks? The breeding chamber? The pepetual boarding school?

    One point that is being overlooked is that the destruction of the family is not just threatening social breakdown, it's much worse than that. The west is going to experience catastrophic, accelerating and possibly unstoppable population decline. Most European countries will cease to exist as European countries. That's the legacy of liberalism and especially of feminism.

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  18. "That's the problem of course when liberals start to realise that civilisation is collapsing. "

    They revel in it. Its what they want total and utter collapse. Actually across the political spectrum people want a collapse so their can be a rebirth.
    Its funny though that the reason why people want a collapse is because there is no political freedom in the west which is caused by the left itself. It is inhibiting nature and encouraging an unatural surrender of the west.
    But why does the Left/liberals want a collapse? It seems their end goal is to flood the west with foreign cultures and transform the west into a non-european civilsation that somehow inherits the advantages of the European civilisation minus the Europeans.

    When people like Pria are saying the best things about the west are the things that are actually destroying it. They mean that it is slowly defeating the traditional European west and turning it into an environment suited to them. That is why he loves it that is why he will never stop supporting it and in the end his documentaries are mockumentaries.

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  19. so there can be a rebirth
    I swear i edited that.
    Oh well apologises for my poor grammar etc but i'm not writing a paper.

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  20. Also with indians or desi their racism against Australians has nothing to do with their caste system. We do not fit into their caste system.

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  21. But why does the Left/liberals want a collapse? It seems their end goal is to flood the west with foreign cultures and transform the west into a non-european civilsation that somehow inherits the advantages of the European civilisation minus the Europeans.

    One of the many things leftists haven't figured out is than an Islamic Europe is going to be very very hostile to leftists! They have this incredible blind spot when it comes to Islam.

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  22. Many good comments above to MR's blog post.

    It may be a few white 'Liberals' are reluctantly waking up to the fact that the monster they have created will eventually end up consuming the white liberal.

    But in the meantime there seems to be much gloating among academics, politicians and media types, that the West is going the way of all flesh. The Anglo world especially has been corrupted by anti-Christian forces.

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  23. There is no hope for the white liberals.
    Just now facebook showed me the friends of an aquaintances young blonde daughter who is underage and the friends ive been shown are predominately muslim and black adults.
    One of her 'friends' is particularly troubling some sort of muslim with group connection to warriors of allah and other islamic supremacy fan groups displaying black flags of jihad etc.

    What hope is there for the west especially when parents are too stupid to protect their children from becoming involved with Islamic extremists.
    Whats more why does facebook allow such groups.
    It would be ironic if Facebook HQ got hit by an islamic terrorist.

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  24. "Destroy the family, you destroy the country!" - Vladimir Lenin.

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