Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sex and Economics: The Engame of the Cultural Revolution of the 60s

Of course sexual immorality was not invented in the 60s. What happened was that the promiscuity hitherto expressed mainly among the "upper" classes and the "intellectuals" was packaged for mass consumption, glorified, and sold to the middle and working classes as "liberation."

In the 60s the theological liberalism of the mainline Protestant churches, which had hollowed out Christian belief for over half a century, began to have wider cultural consequences. If there is no God, or if God is a remote Deity who is uninvolved in this world, then I am "free" to act as I please. And what pleases me? Only those who had already discarded the venerable Christian doctrine of original sin could be surprised when the answer was: "Vice rather than virtue."

The Spirit of 68 is the rejection of virtue and the embrace of vice in the name of human liberation. Naturally, one expression of this was sexual promiscuity. This has been the same pattern throughout human history; the throwing off of the restraints of morality and law was old hat to the writers of the New Testament. By Paul's day it was an age old pattern of behavior repeated in empire after empire and occurring again in his own day in the Roman empire, as he makes clear in his letters to the Romans and to the Corinthians.

But when a post-Christian worldview, whether in a Darwinian, a Freudian or a Marxian form, began to be preached openly to the masses as a guide to everyday behavior, the main take-away was the mainstreaming of lust: "Lust is good, lust is fun!" Lust is of course expressed through our sexual organs, but not only in that way. The other main way it is expressed is through our acquisitive nature - the drive to acquire wealth or luxuries. Lust can be seen as much in our use of our credit cards as in our use of our sex organs. The inordinate desire for sexual pleasure is closely related to the inordinate desire for material luxuries and both represent an attempt to transgress the limits life places on our desires.

If this life is all there is, then we may as well grab for all we can get during the few years of our consciousness between birth and death. The post-Christian worldview restricts our vision to the here and now and the material world. It demeans all visions of eternity and scoffs at the idea of this world as a preparation for the next. It bids us focus on getting a bit more pleasure out of this life than we would be entitled to if we stuck by some absolute standard of morality. In fact, this becomes the standard of success; have we managed to outwit Fate to snatch a few, fleeting pleasures that don't belong to us by right out of the pool before the lights go out?

So the lust for material possessions and luxuries causes us to reject the limitations of virtue and law and to strive to get as much as we can. In a curious moral inversion, the apologists for socialism have attempted to make this kind of greed into a flaw of capitalism, even though socialism is the ideology that encourages and legitimizes greed, envy and covetousness, whereas capitalism preaches hard work and refraining from coveting what is belongs to your neighbor.

Socialism is built on greed. It tells the ordinary man: "If your neighbor is richer than you are, this is unjust. You have as much right to luxuries as he. The revolution will help you take what is rightfully yours. Laws against coveting are just a tool of the rich to keep the poor down." Thus, socialism attacks the Tenth Commandment in particular and Divine Revelation in general.

Socialism is right in its belief that the institution of private property must be undermined if its message of covetousness and greed is to succeed and it is right in its belief that religion and the family must be overturned as well. Engels knew that the family, private property and the state stand in the way of socialist revolution since all three institutions are intertwined. And he and Marx both understood that God, the Bible and the Ten Commandments stand in the way of socialism.

Socialism appeals to the basest aspects of human nature: the lust for possessions and luxury. It basically tells us that all of us have equal rights to enjoy wealth regardless of how hard we work or how smart we work. This is appealing to many, especially if they have weak character in general.

But socialism, in legitimating lust for possessions and luxury is really legitimating lust in general and so it is perfectly understandable that the sexual revolution and the socialist revolution should proceed hand in hand. Breaking down the family is essential to magnifying the power of the State on the political level and breaking down moral inhibitions against coveting and fornicating is essential on the personal level.

What this means is that the sexual revolution, which swept the Western world in the 60s, must inevitably be followed by an economic crisis. We now see this inevitable economic crisis unfolding before our eyes and we need to understand its provenance.

Europe is undergoing a sovereign debt crisis. The Euro is threatened by the high national debt run up by various countries, especially Greece, Spain, Ireland and Portugal, with Italy close behind. The Northern European countries are still benefiting from an old Protestant work ethic left over from when they were Christian and they, especially Germany, are prosperous. But the southern countries have fully embraced the cultural revolution and have surrendered to their lusts both in sexual and financial matters.

In the social democracies of the European Union, the socialist ideals that everyone has an equal right to money has been institutionalized along with the idea that everyone has an equal right to sexual gratification. The problem comes down to this: material goods and services are limited but human lusts are not. Just as the unlimited gratification of sexual lust leads to the destruction of the family, so the unlimited gratification of financial lusts leads to the destruction of the State.

The European Union is threatened by the reluctance of workers and voters in countries that are living within their means (principally Germany) to forever subsidize Greeks in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. For decades now, political parties have been bribing voters with their own money by promising more and more goodies - earlier retirement ages, more vacations, higher wages, the government paying for health care, etc. - and now they can't get elected without constantly promising more and more.

The problem is that taxes are already so high they are choking economic growth and the national debt is also so high that a greater and greater portion of government revenues are going just to pay the debt. At a certain point, the debt becomes unmanageable - as has already happened in Greece, Ireland and Portugal. When the cost of further government borrowing becomes too high, the debt balloons and cannot be brought under control. Then the government either has to devalue the currency and accept high inflation and high unemployment or be bailed out by other countries. Since one country in an economic union cannot devalue its currency (the Euro), bailouts are the only option. The problem is that voters in Germany are showing signs of voting out any government that bails out Greece. German workers, who retire at 65 are naturally rebelling against the idea of sending money to bail out Greeks who retire at 55. When bailouts become impossible, the next stage is for Greece to pull out of the Euro, restore the Drachma and let inflation take its course. The last time this happened in Europe was during the days of the Weimer Republic in Germany during the 1920s and 30s and we know how that movie ended.

So Europe faces economic collapse. My point is that this is not some sort of unforeseeable and uncaused natural disaster that came out of no where. It is an entirely predictable, even inevitable, result of rejecting morality and virtue, embracing libertinism and vice, and trying to be post-Christian. The endgame of the cultural revolution of the 60s is economic collapse, social chaos and ultimately somebody grabbing totalitarian power in order to restore order. What is lost is ordered liberty. Only a self-restrained people can be a free people: both in sex and economics.


Peter Leavitt said...

Hedonistic life has been alluring for millennia, going back to Cravaka in India, and the the Cyrenaic and Epicurean schools in Greece. Life is short; enjoy it materially and sexually to the fullest including assorted perverted forms.

Actually, the people who are really free and enjoy life to the fullest are such disciplined saints as Mother Theresa and Bonhoeffer, both of whom were true disciples of Christ, however much their sufferings on earth.

These breathless sixties types are really old hat.

Peter Leavitt said...

I should add to the above that Craig is right, excessive hedonism leads to a certain economic and international relations softness that is deleterious to the West's interests.