Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Luckiest Generation - With apologies to my children

This has to be the most pessimistic essay I've read to date. I'm not sure whether this is the end of European civilization, but it is definitely the end of an era. And yes, we will face some very troubling times for several decades until a new era can begin:

The Luckiest Generation - With apologies to my children

Born between VE Day and VJ Day, I missed all the greatest horrors of the 20th century. If granted a normal lifespan**, I shall miss the horrors of the 21st, too. If my parents' generation was the greatest, mine has been the luckiest. For that, in this Thanksgiving season, I give sincere and heartfelt thanks. Government is hopelessly broken. Though far larger now than in 1957, it does less, and it does that less very badly. Its most elementary functions — defending our borders, keeping a thrifty eye on the national wealth, apprising us of what our enemies are up to — are no longer performed to any effect. These failures themselves are only symptoms of some more profound civilizational sickness. Western — let us be blunt about it: white-European — civilization is on its way out. If you make a study of any aspect of cultural history — I have just finished a book on one such topic — you are struck by the towering achievements of Europeans and their offspring cultures during the 19th century (which lasted from 1815 to 1914). What went before was mere prologue; what came after were futile, frustrated attempts to re-heat the soufflé. There is of course a sense in which the horrors of 1914-1945 were themselves a product of19th-century overconfidence. Once we had got all that out of our system, though, and found the point of balance, the later 20th century was set to be a garden of delights for those of us in free nations. So much was this so, we did not notice that we were romping through that garden in a deepening twilight.

If I compare my own life to the lives of my parents, and to the prospects for my children, I am struck by my immense good fortune in having been born when and where I was. I was actually born early on a Sunday morning, in a nursing home behind St. Matthew's church in Northampton, England, three weeks after VE Day. I was fit and ready. Lucky! Lucky! Lucky! I can't believe my kids will have that kind of luck. The welfare state, which provided my education, no longer works — not for them, not for anybody. (I sometimes marvel at how well it did work to lift up the deserving poor in the years after WWII. Don't laugh; it really did.) I shall have to beggar myself to put the little Derbs through college, and they will likely still end up with huge debts. There will be no 9-to-5 jobs for them to go to after graduation, quite possibly no jobs at all other than in government work. To my kids I should like to say: I am sorry to have brought you into this mess. There were no bells ringing, no bands playing, at either of your births, and it would have been a travesty if there had been. Even the wisest of us — people like your Dad, I mean — live in part by instinct, and there is no instinct stronger than the one that prompts us to continue the species; so here you are. I am sorry, sorry. There was the Greatest Generation. Then there was ours, the Luckiest. Yours will be the Saddest. Quite possibly — so far as this civilization is concerned, at any rate — it will be the Last. I shall continue to do my best for you as long as I can, but... après moi le Deluge.


At November 30, 2005 3:19 AM, Blogger Heloise said...

The luckiest generation,
yes that is an appropriate title
for many of us. But we must not give up yet, the dark night of our soul will break into the dawn of a better day as our rising consciousness will see with clear eyes and speak the truth and act with courage.

At November 30, 2005 4:03 AM, Blogger John Sobieski said...

It is revolting to look at the leaders we have today, lying to us, lying to themselves. Certainly makes you pessimistic as they busily dig a hole we cannot escape.

At November 30, 2005 4:11 AM, Blogger bordergal said...

Oh for crying out loud. Of course the future will be crappy if you roll over and play dead!!!

Where is your spirit, your courage?

Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers!

I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart from me.

A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day!

An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down, but it is not this day!

This day we fight!

By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!

A man with children should be a LOT less self pitying and a LOT more proactive.

The enemy in this case will win ONLY IF YOU LET THEM.

At November 30, 2005 6:59 AM, Blogger brenda said...

I'll admit to having some pessimistic thoughts about the future, but always come back to the average Americans I know who have put their lives on the line to save the nation. They give me hope.

I guess Derb doesn't wake up every morning thinking how he can save America.

At November 30, 2005 7:49 PM, Blogger Don Miguel said...

I guess like the author I'm a member of the 'luckiest' generation and my parents were from the 'greatest’ generation, but I am thankful every day that my son and some members of his generation are at this moment fighting Islamic fascism. I just wish more members of all generations would realize the threat it imposes on western civilization.

At November 30, 2005 9:05 PM, Blogger Ole said...

To bordergal,
You tell'em Tex. I'm with you 100%. The fight has just begun. Let's not lose courage so early in the game.

At December 01, 2005 8:32 AM, Blogger Daffersd said...

This article encapsulates exactly how I feel when I look at my two children.

What can we do, our leaders are walking in complete naivity, this conference with the Arab world should have wroken them up, it was a huge success in their eyes, yet its worth absolutely nothing, those that understand the threat know that.

Just think what state Rohan was before Gandalf arrived, spies everywhere sapping the strength and the will to fight, being under-mined and weakened on all fronts by enemies aborad and inside, well I can't see a Gandalf on the horizen and let alone an Eomer.

At December 01, 2005 2:49 PM, Blogger NN said...

Yes, I believe it was also said in The Lord of the Rings something to the effect that we do not choose the times we are born in, that we must face the burdens laid upon us to the best of our ability. Funny how a good and evil can so eagerly be embraced in art, but as soon as we are in reality, multiculti grayness is everywhere. Perhaps that's why.

I stumbled across a beautiful poem on Mark Steyn's site that a commenter there quoted:

The out spake brave Horatius
The captain of the gate
To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his Fathers
And the Temples of his gods?

I think we shall need a little more of that attitude in the near future.

At December 01, 2005 7:47 PM, Blogger Don Miguel said...


I don't know how old your children are, but I made sure my children were exposed to history and geography way beyond what they were taught in school and saw in the MSM. After 9/11 it was no surprise to me that my son said that he was going to postpone college and enlist, because he understood what the stakes were and are.

At December 02, 2005 6:41 AM, Blogger bordergal said...


Of course parents worry about their children and their future! I have three children of my own.

But anyone who looks at this as the worst of times has no historical perspective.

We are also not walking into this conflict blind, without friends, and without resources. There are many in the world with fewer assets who are suffering much more under the whip of Islamism. What about Darfur?

Even my peaceful childhood was overshadowed by bomb shelters and the threat of global thermonuclear war with Russia. My parents had to contend with the Great Depression, WWII, as well as the communist threat.

The best thing you can do is speak out honestly about the problems we face, and raise your children to be strong.


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