Why The West Has No Backbone

The West lost its backbone for a very simple reason: It lost its meta-narrative: its overarching story for what we believe and do.

The people of the West have no why for what they’re doing, save to fill their bellies and beds. Even their greatest dogma, Democracy, is an empty shell. Nothing could have made that point better than the past two years, when the world was turned upside down by edicts from potentates – precisely the thing democracy was supposed to prevent – while the belly-fillers of the West made not a peep.

The Mongols had a meta-narrative. It was a terribly ugly one, but it organized their energies and efforts, allowing them to overrun most of the known world. (Meta-narratives aren’t always nice.) The Romans had a meta-narrative too; not the best, but definitely not the worst.

Early Europe had a grand meta-narrative: Bringing the world into the light of Christ. By it they became the first civilization in history to eliminate slavery from an entire continent, and to keep it out, century after century. (Among other successes.)

America had a wonderful meta-narrative: We were proving to the world that individual liberty was better than servitude. We went about to prove it and we did prove it. From where, after all, did railroads, electricity, telephones, radio, the electric light, television, cars, airplanes, and a dozen other wonders arise? Sure, several of those had European precursors (smart and creative people aren’t unique to any location), but they rooted and developed in America, because that’s where they were able to root and develop… because we had the meta-narrative for it.

That is no longer true. American universities teach our children that having a meta-narrative makes them a primitive fool. (Though they are permitted outrage, which somehow makes them enlightened.) Whole disciplines are devoted to destroying meta-narratives, half-destroying young minds along with them. There are necessary discussions to be had about the quality and the openness of meta-narratives, but to blindly trash them is almost literally to throw the baby out with the bathwater. These academics are not demonstrating intelligence; they’re demonstrating avarice, coupled with arrogance and ultimately with malice.

Americans retained a few meta-narratives, even through the 1960s. Millions of us were deeply committed to getting mankind into space, and we were doing it, until the rug was pulled out from under us. We also had the hippie movement. Regardless of their errors, the hippies, especially the early ones, really were seeking enlightenment and the expansion of consciousness. Unsurprisingly, 18 year olds took things too far, but the initial drive, at least in my corner of it, was legitimate.

The point is that we were doing something big, something grand… something that mattered on the species level. And it’s precisely that kind of mission that opens you up, gives you a backbone and makes you truly alive.

Alas, those are also lost. Bitcoiners and homeschoolers – people willing to suffer for what they believe – have purpose in their lives, but the mainstream narrative, which millions imbibe via TV and social media – seeks to overwhelm such ideas, drowning out any serious consideration.

So, I’m going to tell you how this happened, because I think it will help a certain number of people. If you want references and precision, go to our subscription letter; this is more of a bar stool rant… but it’s not wrong.

Here’s what happened:

    • Europe was devastated by two World Wars. Two consecutive generations of young men were more than decimated. Millions of women lost the men in their lives, and learned, instead, to lean on the state. That’s a massive generalization, of course, but there’s a whole lot of truth in it.
    • The Enlightenment took a bad turn and threw off a new class of intellectuals who sought, by any means available, to ensconce themselves in positions of power. As always, it bred corruption.
    • The culture of the West has been directly attacked for quite some time. (And yes, the Soviets funded a lot of it during their dark reign.) One by one, the pillars of Western civilization have been misrepresented, ridiculed and removed.
    • Money created without cost (fiat currency) has allowed rulers to substantially replace the parents of the West, and especially fathers, who are consistently portrayed as dullards and oafs in popular entertainments. Got a problem? Run to daddy government; they have a program for you. At some point the free money game will end, but it has made personal virtues irrelevant since 1971.

So, there you have the crux of it. Once we had a meta-narrative; with it we accomplished great things and felt legitimately good about ourselves. Now we don’t, and the West has no cohesion, no direction, no reason for excellence and no pride in itself.


Paul Rosenberg


9 thoughts on “Why The West Has No Backbone”

  1. Interesting to take in some of the larger socio political events that influenced where we are today. Corruption is like rust. If your values and integrity are like cheap metal, you will be corrupt in no time. To avoid corruption, you must put in place foundational values that are enacted and protected. The United States stated its foundational values, but in many cases never enacted them, and certainly did no protect them. Case in point, slavery. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Sounds great, but not for black people. Our institutions were designed to do quite the opposite. Case in point. If you fund education with property taxes, you are institutionalizing unequal education, and specifically targeting black people. We have long been a racist country and one that specifically protects the whites and shuns other cultures. The Chinese built our railroads and we promised them citizenship or at least a place in our country when it was done. When it was done, we kicked them out. The American Indians, well, we all know that story. My point is that we have good values but we’ve never lived them. If we just take our constitution for what it says and add some teeth to it to enact and protect those values, we can make the turn and become a great country that others will admire again. There is a reason that the average lifespan of civilizations is around 250 years. That is how long it takes for corruption to set in, on average. A good constitution is a good start. Living it and protecting its values is the only way to avoid the rust that inevitably kills every nation.

    1. Corruption: Certainly a problem, but corruption itself doesn’t bring down civilizations.
      Slavery: The US Constitution, or at least the convention, included a plan for getting rid of slavery. The slave trade was given twenty years to pack itself up and then it would be closed. And it was closed, right on time. Thinking that slavery could be ended with a wave of the hand, or a pen, is a modern arrogance; it couldn’t. More or less all the American founders knew slavery was morally unacceptable (check Jefferson’s first draft of the Declaration), but the problem was a hard one. Ultimately it was religious and lawbreaking Christians who brought it to its end, not politicians.
      Chinese, Indians: Not nearly as stark as portrayed. Like slavery, it makes a nice punching bag, but the reality was never so simple.
      Living values: Many millions of Americans HAVE lived their values and DO live their values.

      1. So slavery failed because Christians couldn’t find Bible verses justifying it. It is hard to believe this explanation because I know Christians who have Bible verses for anything. Slavery, genocide of indians, persecutions of catholics are a huge problem in USA mythology.

        1. First of all, not all Christians of all times spent their lives arguing about hidden secrets of interpretations: Christianity had no book for a couple of centuries, minimum. Many Christians have acted rather than quarreled.
          And, yes, it was Christians who ended slavery in the US (and elsewhere). While the US guv was passing Fugitive Slave laws, more than a few Christians were saying things like this:

          I never would obey [the Fugitive Slave Act]. I had assisted thirty slaves to escape to Canada during the last month. If the United States authorities wanted any thing of me, my residence was at 39 Onondaga Street. I would admit that they could take me and lock me up in the Penitentiary on the hill; but if they did such a foolish thing as that I had friends enough on Onondaga County to level it with the ground before the next morning.
          — Rev. Luther Lee, pastor of the Wesleyan Methodist Church of Syracuse, New York

        2. And, FWIW, the article wasn’t referencing slavery in the US, but in early Europe. Christian Europe inherited massive slavery from Rome. Maybe one third of the populace was enslaved. Over the following centuries, slavery was eliminated from Europe, for moral and theological reasons. And it has never returned.

  2. Paul,

    Have you ever read : The Discovery Of Freedom, by Rose Wilder Lane? If so, what is your opinion of the book?

    1. I have, and I got a lot out of it. Now, that was a long time ago, and I know I could find some quibbles with it now, but it was a blessing to me, and in it’s time (1943), it was groundbreaking. It’s still on my shelf. 🙂

  3. democracy and freedom are difficult masters and get infinitely more complicated when there are 300 million people.

    It’s not that we have no direction it’s that we have no common direction and are no longer unified.
    We fear big government and want states to rule but how does one govt manage 50 radically different subordinate govt and guarantee the same representations and freedoms across the country?

  4. The Mongols had a narrative: freedom. It was removed from history books. They believed that humans should be free. Non locked in a city.

    This is in the opposition with Atlantis -> Babylon -> EU-> Borg plan for humanity.

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