Globalism, climate-change alarmism and cultural self-annihilation have all come under serious challenge.
The new moral order our secularist elites have been busy constructing since the end of the Cold War is collapsing around them.
Over the past 30 years, the values of Judeo-Christian belief that had inspired and sustained Western civilization and culture for centuries have been steadily replaced in a moral, cultural and political revolution of the postmodern ascendancy. But the contradictions and implausibilities inherent in this successor creed have been increasingly exposed, and its failure to supply the needs of the people is discrediting it in the popular mind.
This new edifice has been built around three principal pillars: First, the ethical primacy of global obligation over national self-interest, in economic and geopolitical terms, but most directly and consequentially in a rejection of the morality of national borders and an embrace of something like open-door immigration. Second, a quasi-biblical belief in climate catastrophism, in which man’s essential energy-consuming sinfulness can be expiated only by massive sacrifice of economic progress. Third, a wholesale cultural self-cancellation in which the virtues, values and historic achievements of traditional civilization are rejected and replaced by a cultural hierarchy that inverts old prejudices and obliges the class of white, male heterosexuals to acknowledge their history of exploitation and submit to comprehensive social and economic reparation.
This fall, throughout the West, on three continents, each of these three pillars is crumbling.
In Lampedusa, the Italian island midway between Europe and Africa, and at Eagle Pass, Texas, and elsewhere along the visible and increasingly invisible frontiers that separate the global North from the South, the idea of permissive migration in an economically unequal world is being tested to destruction. Lampedusa was inundated last week with another surge of migrants from Africa, larger than the population of the island itself. In Texas, the influx across the border with Mexico became a torrent.
The demographic tsunami from the global South as the North’s population shrinks is in its early stages, and most people can see clearly what happens when leaders insist on a moral code that suggests our obligations to indigent foreigners are as great as those to our own citizens. It won’t survive the political backlash now under way in both Europe and America, as even U.S. Democrats and Brussels Eurocrats are slowly starting to grasp.
The second pillar, the moral imperative of self-abasing action to combat climate change, is falling too—most interestingly again in Europe and the U.K., where it has long been the official religion of the secularist priesthood.
Last week, Britain’s notionally Conservative government took a small but symbolically important step in climate apostasy, announcing some sensible tweaks to a program of regulatory decarbonization mandates, such as pushing back by a few years the phasing out of new gasoline-powered cars. The move was precipitated by the high and rising costs to ordinary citizens of these measures and didn’t actually involve—yet—a formal retreat from the ambitious goal of making the country “carbon neutral” by 2050. But the howls from almost the entire establishment were an encouraging sign that the priesthood knows its days are numbered.
There is an air of surrealism around the climate-change debate in Britain and in much of Europe. The U.K. has dramatically reduced carbon emissions over the past 30 years, thanks in significant part to technological innovation. Its emissions per capita are now down to where they were in the mid-19th century. The British government could mandate tomorrow the elimination of all carbon emissions and a return to agrarian subsistence, and, given the massive and rapidly rising levels of emissions from China, India and elsewhere, it wouldn’t make the slightest difference to the climate.
This realization of the folly and immorality of the moral imperative is gradually seeping through elsewhere in Europe. Other governments are confronting the disastrous consequences of their monomaniacal pursuit of carbon elimination and embracing elements of the modern heresy.
The third pillar—cultural self-annihilation—is also wobbling.
The most interesting evidence of this is an electoral debate under way in Australia. The left-wing government there, eager to impress the world with its moral bona fides, has called for a reform to the constitution designed to redress the grievances of the Aboriginal population. Called the Voice to Parliament, the measures would create a constitutional body that Parliament would be required to consult on all legislative and other matters relating to indigenous peoples.
The referendum that was expected to approve this change takes place next month, but the campaign has run into fierce opposition. The most recent polls suggest Australians will reject the move by a large majority. It seems they—like many of us in the rest of the West—have had enough of leaders’ insistence on dividing us by race and other attributes rather than uniting us around our common national identity.
The pillars are crumbling. The fight will go on. We don’t know what will replace this new moral order. But we can at least hope for a restoration of the traditional values that, ironically, through economic and cultural enrichment and political and civil liberation, permitted the West to indulge in this orgy of self-immolation in the first place.
Copyright ©2023 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Appeared in the September 26, 2023, print edition as ‘The New Moral Order Is Already Crumbling’.