Civilization is not automatic. It is fragile, and can wither easily, and even die. There is a decay among us, a failure of civilization, a breakdown of the social structure essential to what we most consider our humanity.
It is not widespread, but neither is it rare. Like a disease it spreads through the social body, infecting and sickening and moving on to taint the healthy.
Civilization can be different things, depending on time and place and people. But any civilization must include certain traits to propagate and protect itself. If it lacks them, it fails. These traits are easily identifiable:
The ability to bear and rear children in a stable family environment.
The ability of individuals to support themselves.
The social ability to establish and sustain order.
The recognition of personal property.
The tendency to promote the general good.
Those things are civilization’s essential components. And for a growing number of Americans, in pockets of microculture, they do not exist.
If we don’t stop the spread of the social pathogen they represent, we will collapse as have other great societies.
Rome stopped being Rome primarily because its civilization frayed and tore, giving way to an anti-civilization, a backward savagery that brought it to its knees.
American anti-civilization is most common in our inner-cities and rural communities. From there it spreads into the vast American middle-class, happily snoozing in suburbia.
The symptoms? The failure of marriage. Not in individual divorce, but as a social institution of choice. Forty percent of children born in the United States today are born outside marriage. They never have the opportunity to truly belong to a family.
Most of their situations are flawed and even failed. They are not reared successfully, giving rise to further social pathology and destruction.
Increasingly, a class of people is flourishing which, under other circumstances, would starve to death. The dependent class, unable or unwilling to support itself materially, would naturally be self-limiting. But empowered by responsibility-deadening welfare checks, it is exploding.
The danger to civilization cannot be overstated. People disconnected from their own sustenance have lives built upon a fundamentally false premise. They are, in effect, raiders — a lifestyle that always has tended toward tribalism, not civilization.
Civilization is the subjugation of the individual or group to the interest of the civil entity or imperative. Civilized people belong to a whole, the interests of which they see as somehow both essential to themselves and yet greater than themselves.
We are breeding people in America who see the civil as their enemy, whose lifestyles are predicated upon putting something over on the larger society and its structures.
Many them have an infantile view of property. Whatever they can put their hands on becomes theirs. Thievery is one manifestation, so too is callous disregard for the property of others. Rented apartments are trashed, public places and structures are vandalized, things are broken just for the thrill of breaking them.
Finally, the general good — that which will benefit the most — is not considered. The personal good or desire is paramount in all circumstances.
Civilization in America, in those regards, truly is decaying. The infection will grow geometrically. It must be fought and stopped now.
How? Through the children and through an almost missionary like preaching of a better way.
The specific weaknesses of the growing discivilization must be explained. People must be graciously and respectfully shown the weakness of their lifestyles. Those weaknesses must not be accepted in the mistaken cause of tolerance. Society also must more quickly remove children from situations that will ruin them.
Our civilization is weakening primarily because families are dissolving or never truly forming. Children must be spared that.
Will we as a society do anything about the decay beginning to engulf us? Probably not. And our very civilization is in great jeopardy as a result.
Commentator and talk show host. See boblonsberry.com.