I firmly believe that it is safe to say that most everyone realizes that there has been significant and ongoing moral decay in the West during the last half century or so, especially in America where people had further to fall. While there is great disagreement over the nature and cause of this erosion of character, all the camps seem to agree that the degeneration of our cultures’ ethical and moral character has occurred and continues to do so.
But, if one boils the issue down to purified essence, the root cause of the erosion of character, ethics, and morals is simply that our society has been twisted in such a way that many people receive that which they need and/or want without needing to earn it or feeling that they have truly earned it.
Much, though not all, of this can be directly traced to the neo-Socialist entitlement society and the resultant Nanny State that has grown like a cancerous fibroid tumor within the body of Western culture.
Send In The Proles
Liberalism’s neo-Socialist entitlement society is based on equality of result, irrespective of labor or merit and this can only be achieved by bigger and more intrusive government. The problem with that is the bigger and more intrusive the government, the less the citizens do for themselves and one another.
If the state will take care of me and my neighbors from birth to grave, why should I or they? You can’t appeal to our better angels when you’ve excised them.
Essentially the proles are getting something for nothing and the only thing erodes character in an individual more inevitably than getting something for nothing is when the system in question has been setup to promulgate the idea that the recipients are entitled to this largess instead of accepting that this is charity.
If possible, even worse is the Nanny State that has to develop in the wake of Liberalism’s entitlement. The economics of this system require that the state manage the proles much as a farmer manages his livestock. The state, if it not to go broke sooner rather than later, must enact laws to remove basic liberties from the proles and force or coerce them into behaviors that limit the costs of their upkeep.
Oh yes! Laws should protect us from each other, not ourselves. But, if your failure harms or costs us all, the state must prevent you from failing. You cannot be free enough to fail.
Such a loss of liberty results in a loss of both choice and responsibility. It creates a stratum of near-children that never have to learn responsibility or how to control themselves because the state makes all those decisions for them from birth to grave. In point of fact, it creates a population group that is prevented from learning responsibility or how to control themselves.
The combination creates large groups of people with no incentive to build character since they are trained to believe that they inherently deserve a certain level of success irregardless of any merit or effort on their parts and who are actively prevented from doing much at all to grow their own characters since they are forbidden from making many simple choices.
It Beats Working
If one looks further up the social-economic ladder one finds a similar problem – the “something for nothing” perception – but often for different reasons. That reason often being the way that people in Western society, especially in America, equate work with physical effort. The oft said and only partially joking phrase, “It’s beats working for living” is indicative of this societal perception that one is something getting off easy or cheating somehow if one earns their living doing something other than some form of manual labor.
And yes; I catch myself doing this as well. I’m a high-priced “technical executive” these days and often make the same almost-joke about how my career beats working for living.
The growth of one’s character is based more upon one’s perception of one’s circumstances than in their reality. With so many believing deep down that, since they work with their minds instead of their muscles and that the fruits of their labor are less immediately apparent, it is to be expected that they too would fall into the trap of believing that they’re getting something for nothing.
That feeling of having already somehow cheated the system often leads to the same sort of erosion of character as that which is experienced by Western society’s lower echelons.
As long as society equates mental labor as somehow less than manual labor in terms of work many people are going to believe that society is already rewarding them for bad behavior and this sets up a paradigm where it is all too easy to lose one’s moral compass.
Coming Full Circle
Oddly, but only if one doesn’t think too deeply about it, the very top of the social-economic ladder suffers from much the same deterioration of character, ethics, and morality as do the proles, and for quite similar reasons. The people running the major corporations and investment and banking firms are considered “too big to fail” and have been repeatedly empirically proven to be safe from the consequences of their malfeasance and/or stupidity.
Because of the effects upon others their failures of ethics or skill cause these financial elites end up receiving the same sort of largess from the taxpayers’ coffers as the proles, though at an astronomically higher scale, and they have to deal with the same sort of restrictions upon their choices as the proles do.
This must engender the same sort of erosion of character – further augmented by the “It beats working for a living” attitude – that the lower echelons suffer from. The difference being the level of damage that these financial elites can cause by their ethical degeneration.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is not in any way, shape, or form a profound or particularly insightful treatise. It’s remedial life, society, and economics 101.
That it continues to be needful to reiterate these basic points is immensely frustrating and bodes ill for there being any chance of the continued existence of Western society.