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What happened to America

May 13, 2016

But his basic question, “What is the philosophy of the West?” such that it knows what it is defending and knows what it is organized to do, is a perennial one. What happens to a wealthy giant without purpose and meaning? Chambers takes his direct glance at a prosperous postwar America content to shed its salutary ethical foundation that would give shape to its action in history. We might recall here Leo Strauss’s argument in Natural Right and History that the crisis of the West must be answered by the natural right principles of the Declaration of Independence. Strauss opens the book by quoting from the Declaration’s second paragraph, followed with this statement:

The nation dedicated to this proposition has now become, no doubt partly as a consequence of this dedication, the most powerful and prosperous of the nations of the earth. Does this nation in its maturity still cherish the faith in which it was conceived and raised? Does it still hold those “truths to be self-evident”?

Many of our most important thinkers are gloomy on the prospect. From crisis to crisis, I suppose. Of significance is Charles Murray, who has written at length on the decline of our white working class. He even recently seemed to apologize for overlooking how mass immigration has impacted the working class: “Until the last few months, it didn’t hit home to me the degree to which the immigration policy that I, as one of the elites, find good is good only because I don’t pay any of the price for it.” Murray concludes “That the ruling class in this country is governing in its own self-interest, and ignoring the legitimate complaints of the working class and, for that matter, of the middle class.”

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