The Reasons for Optimism, Part 5

The Reasons for Optimism, Part 5

Geoffrey Botkin
December 22, 2012

As we brace for a new year of challenges, do we have any cause for concern? Plenty. The disastrous 20th century ended like a set-up for the most dangerous century of all time. But I believe the 21st century could be the most exciting in history, so far. 2013 should be a very good year. In this five-part series I introduce five dynamic trends that can completely reverse the oppressive and pessimistic direction of the 20th Century. There is a new lucidity of mind and heart, an exploding intellectual liberty, a new attitude in science, and a yearning for long-lost civilization.

In this final installment of the series I explore the origin of the pessimism that killed 20th Century opportunity, and look at history-changing force that will turn cynicism to soaring, accelerating optimism in the Century that lies ahead. Reason number five for the historic turnaround is this:

Real culture can replace counterfeit culture in the 21st Century

What is culture? One of the most insightful definitions I’ve seen got right down to an Adam-and-Eve kind of simplicity. “Culture,” the author said, “is what we build to impress our girlfriends.”

What this man understood was that women are impressed by real men who are going about doing what men were created to do: taking dominion of the earth by cultivating it to make it as orderly as possible. This is the most basic meaning of “culture.” Men were created to work intelligently to construct a dependable framework of safety and order that protects the weak and helpless from an otherwise ugly, dangerous and out-of-control world. Women are not impressed with chaos, danger, weakness, uncertainty, brutishness and lawlessness. They are always the first casualties in any counter-cultural revolution. They are always the first to be relieved when men rise up to give them protective culture. Geneva, Switzerland was once a licentious and deadly place for women until a dedicated minority of reformers, serious about deliberate cultural leadership, replaced a counterculture with real culture. The city-state became known as a “paradise of women.”

Women do not want to live in cheap, ugly houses that can be burned down. They want strong, protective places to live. They are impressed with strong, protective men who know how and why to build. Culture is what men build for women to prosper in, and for families to perpetuate. The work families do together cultivates order at every level of society. So, yes, culture is something women were created to be impressed with.

But the definition of culture should begin at an even more basic level. Culture is what we build because God commanded us to build it. Culture is what we build because that’s how God wants his creation stewarded.1 In Genesis 1 God said to Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.” In Genesis 2 the story continues. “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”2 Man’s mission is to bring cultivated order to everything from the ground to the nations. Cultivate the earth. Culture is the command behind the dominion mandate.3

The most basic rules of the universe start with the Creator. He made the creation by himself, out of nothing. He created people to take care of that creation. God therefore creates culture through people. But people who hate these rules fight against God and try to take dominion over the earth with counterfeit culture. There is a dominion purpose to counterfeit culture: to destroy culture and get away from anything to do with the will of God.

It is important to understand that counterfeit culture is not legitimate culture. It is a rival, illegal, counterfeit regime. Picasso paintings might hang in Spain because Picasso was a wealthy Spanish artist, but Picasso contributed nothing to Spanish “culture.” Picasso was dedicated to building a counterfeit culture. He hated “everything outside man, against every emotion of belonging in creation, against nature, human nature, and the God who created it all. ‘Obviously,’ he said, ‘nature has to exist so that we may rape it!’"4 Picasso’s hatred and pessimism led directly to his out-of-control dissipation, a love of disorder, the brutal oppression of mistresses and prostitutes, then madness, and finally a miserable death.

Have you ever wondered how the strongest, freest nation became so pessimistic? There was a brief season after WWII when 20th century America was enthused with optimism. An ugly war was over. Evil men had been soundly defeated by good guys. The American economy was booming. People were working. However, much of the optimism in the US was centered on a materialistic American dream of personal affluence, personal peace and personal consumption. The optimism did not last. The 20th Century became the most pessimistic century in history. It gave birth to the most pessimistic counterculture in history. Why?

Historians now know why the 20th century became so pessimistic. There is a rather mathematical pattern to social decadence.

When social disorder doubles, pessimism triples.

In 1923, someone supercharged this equation, and left us with a lesson we can never forget: Men who know how to build or destroy culture change history. As R.J. Rushdoony put it: “History has never been dominated by majorities, but only by dedicated minorities who stand unconditionally on their faith.”

The change agent in this case was Georg Lukacs, the architect of global accelerated pessimism. He was a dedicated minority of one, and he dominates the history of the 20th Century. He never wavered in his faith that Christianity had to be destroyed and Western Civilization annihilated. He recruited hot-headed allies with the slogan, “Who will save us from Western Civilization?” Working out of Germany,5 they developed specific doctrines of Kulturpessimismus [cultural pessimism]6 in order to create a world that would appear to be abandoned by God and incapable of supporting personal freedom or creativity. Within a decade they had made a university department world famous for offering the 20th Century the solution to the challenges of the day. They enlarged their staff and moved to America. They schmoozed with education colleges and Hollywood producers. By the late 1930s, their ideas had made it into America’s national school curricula and Hollywood society. Other nations then began copying American schools and American movies. This is how they “organized” pessimism7 into a force that choked the moral foundations, the moral certainty and the moral courage out of every Western nation.8 Men from London to Los Angeles became passive, fearful, and paralyzed by pessimism. The more men retreated into decadent escapism, the more disorderly society became, driving the pessimism to greater depths with each passing year.

However, there is an inverse to the Pessimism Equation. The Optimism Equation can also be appropriated for society by dedicated minorities.

When social order doubles, optimism triples.

Strong, intact, productive families are the mightiest civilizing power in all of society. Even the smallest, youngest families have great potential to bring cultural order to suffering societies like America’s. This is beginning to happen in several nations of the world, and those small minorities have the ability to accelerate optimism and defeat pessimism with culture. In some places, culture will replace counterfeit culture.

Georg Lukacs taught millions that “the world has been abandoned by God.” God has not abandoned anything, and he is not a careless or unjust Landlord. He created the earth, and He keeps a close eye on pessimistic nations who destroy culture with disorder. Ungrateful tenants who burn things down out of contempt for the Landlord’s authority are evicted.9 This is the hard historical reality. Counterfeit cultures perish.

Here’s one 21st Century example: The three nations of the Axis powers10 (the bad guys of WWII) created religious counter-cultures and used those to accelerate worldwide disorder through war. They surrendered to the allies before they were annihilated. But counterfeit culture continues to harm these nations. Dismal materialism, out-of-control statism and child pornography have greatly damaged the family. With little optimism to speak of, they have no need for children because they see no need for a future. Each of these nations is rapidly approaching the 1.3 fecundity (birth) rate. History show that once they hit that mark, they will not be able to sustain their populations and will fade away to nothing. Russia and America are not far behind.

Culture war is serious business, especially when Almighty God intervenes in a specific situation. Countercultures always fall. The meek inherit the earth when bullies despoil it. One of the most joyful, optimistic women of history thanked God for these truths: God routinely scatters the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He brings down rulers from their thrones and exalts those who are humble.11

The biggest question in the culture wars is this: how strong will the new culture be? Will it be relatively cheap and ugly, or strong, useful, handsome and permanent? How firmly will it stand on the cultural foundations designed by God? Strong, intact, productive families are the mightiest civilizing power in all of society. Even the smallest, youngest families have great potential to bring cultural order to societies in transition. One of the most dramatic transitions in history is happening right now. Debilitating pessimism is giving way to productive optimism. What an exhilarating time to be alive.

Isaiah 58:12 "Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.

  • 1. Genesis 1:28
  • 2. Genesis 2:15
  • 3. Here are two famous definitions of culture by the theologian Henry Van Til: “The activity of man, the image bearer of God by which he fulfills the creation mandate to cultivate the earth to have dominion over it and to subdue it.” “Culture is the renewal of the whole man and the restoration of all of the works of God.”
  • 4. Arianna Stossinopoulos Huffington, Picasso, Creator and Destroyer. New York: First Avon Books Printing, October 1989, (p.91 )
  • 5. Lukacs operated out of educational academia. Colleagues at the Institute for Social Research played their roles and were brilliantly radical and outspoken for decades. Their publications were not vague about their aims to demoralize the West. Walter Benjamin threw out the concept of good and evil and defended Satanism and “the cult of evil as beneficial tools for subverting traditional culture. He advised, “Do not build on the good old days, but on the bad new ones.”
  • 6. “The key to the entire Frankfurt School program,” writes researcher Michael Minicino, “from originator Lukacs on, is the "liberation" of Aristotelian eros, to make individual feeling states psychologically primary. When the Institute for Social Research (the Frankfurt School) leaders arrived in the United States in the mid-1930's, they exulted that here was a place which had no adequate philosophical defenses against their brand of Kulturpessimismus [cultural pessimism].”
  • 7. Lukacs’ colleague Walter Benjamin announced proudly: “To organize pessimism means nothing other than to expel the moral metaphor.”
  • 8. Originally called the Institute for the Study of Marxism, their name was altered to a more circumspect Institute for Social Research. Known popularly as The Frankfurt School, they published scores of “scientific” papers on such topics as why Christian morality was evil. These published initiatives were meant to disorder Western society and they worked to get their ideas into Hollywood scripts, film scores, radio broadcasts, and school curricula. B.K. Eakman calls the Frankfurt School “far and away the most successful psychological warfare operation ever launched against the West.”
  • 9. Matthew 21: 33-41
  • 10. Japan, Germany, and Italy.
  • 11. Luke 1: 51,52

About the Author

Geoffrey Botkin is a cultural analyst, political consultant, veteran filmmaker, husband, and father. He currently serves as a senior consultant to the Western Conservatory of the Arts & Sciences.


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