Infantilism and the Fall of the West
By Bree A. Dail, MDY
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But, when I became a man, I put away the things of a child—1Cor13:11
The Wheel of History, Repeated
There are many historical factors for the fall of the Roman Empire: Overextension of Resources and Military Power; Failure to Impose Roman Cultural Hegemony; Corruption of the Emperors. There is even a claim of scientific proof that lead poisoning from the aqueducts impacted the population, making them physically and mentally weak against the barbarian hordes. There were many factors, but one must also account that towards the end of the Empire, a cultural schism had formed. On one side, you had the growing Christian population, which encouraged the integration of all men and women, in every class and culture. The other side maintained the grasp of the pagan practices of state worship, and with it, increased moral depravity. As the chasm between both grew, Emperors chose sides…and in the end, the side that won, by its very nature, integrated all, nullifying the deification of the state-that-was. During the Crusades, as well, a uniting of different kingdoms under the banner of one faith (whether Christianity or Islam), with the additional promotion of propagation of either faith through family and masculinity was apparent on both sides. Obviously, tactics were different, but both sides understood the necessity that when men went to war, it was to conquer utterly. When they returned, it was to build up the next generation…to continue their legacy. Throughout history, in fact, one can break down the rise and fall of kingdoms through three tiers—strength of purpose (such as faith), strength of arms and strength of legacy.
The Generation of Lost Boys
“I suppose it's like the ticking crocodile, isn't it? Time is chasing after all of us.” ― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
There have been innumerable articles penned in the last few years, lamenting the epidemic of emasculation (see Ben Shapiro’s "The Toxic Masculinity Smear", for example) that is plaguing Western Culture, all while witnessing the growth of violent extremism in the Middle and Far East. Most rightly decry where once there were strong warriors to meet these threats, now men kowtow to policies of PC emotionalism—even if these offend their intellectual reasoning. Couple this with young men now fully engrossed in immediate gratification with the advance of technological accessibility, and disaster looms in intemperance. The answer to the problem, however, has been lacking. Indeed, laments are written. Beards are grown in protest. Bacon consumed in large quantities in half-hearted rebellious answer to this emasculation. The source of the continued spiral that, historically, led to conquering of peoples and lands by stronger hordes, has seemed to evade the general population.
Where are the men to answer this threat? The term “Peter Pan Syndrome” was coined by Author and Psychologist, Dr Dan Kiley, to describe the pattern of social immaturity that has been plaguing Western male population since the Boomer Generation. Infantilism, by definition, is the same—however; there is an underlying imposition or expectation from those in authority, to keep those being formed under them from maturing. Interestingly, both are intrinsically connected to unfettered, hedonistic indulgence in sexual promiscuity, and especially within the homosexual lifestyle. There is a saying,” as goes the Church, so goes the world”, one need only look to the current state of the Roman Catholic Church to see both the societal division and the moral breakdown reflected in Western Culture. In fact, one can look to most of what has been propagated as “modernization” in the Church as an actual time-stop within the 1960’s. Burlap, guitars, sappy music, the laissez faire attitude of individual definition of morality would drive any masculine man from considering returning. In fact, the numbers prove it has. This “hippy” time-warp, which has overtaken much of Western Roman Catholicism, has origin in more than just coincidence.
According to psychologist, author and Catholic Exorcist, Fr Chad Ripperger, the hippy movement of the 1960’s can be fully attributed to a formation of material and moral indulgence—Infantilism—of their generation by the “Greatest Generation.” Of course, in each generation there are exceptions, but most of the “Greatest Generation” endured a formation that lacked critical formative communication from their parents. They were expected to endure hardship, and they did—but they were rarely taught to appropriate that hardship to increase virtue.
“That generation grew up during the Great Depression, but they did not appropriate their suffering while going through it. They did not embrace their cross in the manner that their parents did. They fought the Second World War, but they came back determined that “this would never happen again.” (Note here: “Peace no matter the cost”. The Truman Doctrine and “New World Order” was the exact result of this formation.) Underlying their great deeds was a spirit that was unwilling to suffer. They could deny themselves, even with ease when necessary, but they did not like it. Their generational spirit was a lack of mortification, an inappropriation of suffering.
They indulged their children, as we shall discuss in the next generation, to the degree that they could within the confines of decency, but indulged them nonetheless. They indulged them by giving them things which prior generations would have warned against, and they indulged them by removing any obstacle to their indulgence.”
This turn towards materialism and rejection of traditional virtue, Fr Ripperger would later argue in his talk on this subject, effected both men and women of this generation. The men were unfettered by virtue, and this was apparent within the full brothels of France during the war. When they returned, they found women resistant to return to a life that prioritized raising children. (Take note, this does not emphasize that woman cannot or should not contribute to the home—this has never been tradition, as woman were often equal producers and contributors to family businesses, farms, etc, Rather, due to the war effort, woman found themselves placing priority of work in necessity, over the raising of children.) The resulting financial freedom, and ambition was heavily stifled when men returned from war. Instead of recommitting to virtue, many women of this generation resented the loss of “headship”, and purposely devalued the role of mother. Introduce the communist feminist movement—discussed in the next section—and the recipe for dysfunction was fully made). It is interesting to note that, due to the resentment many women of this generation had towards their men, marriages of this generation have a pattern of open embitterment from the women, and total capitulation (all they wanted was peace, at any cost) by the men.
The take away from this should be twofold. First, a foundation block to the cycle of social immaturity, especially amongst men, has a pattern. It started with inappropriation of virtue and an embrace of intemperance (especially sexual intemperance). This led towards effeminacy—whose Thomistic definition is “an unwillingness to put aside one’s pleasure in order to pursue what is arduous or difficult.” This effeminacy has led to the usurping of the role of the masculine in society. In fact, this is so bad, now, that good men are left to blindly combat effeminacy as women engage in usurping their roles—often not because they want to, but because they are now expected by Western society to be fully independent. Unless the cycle is broken by concerted and arduous efforts—the wheel of History will repeat itself in this free-fall amoral spiral. This time, however, the West will fall.
The Catalysts of Effeminacy
The Rise of Communist Feminism: Yes, you read that correctly. As briefly mentioned in the first part of this article, the modern version of feminism was tactically introduced in a time of social instability, shortly after World War II. This modern version of feminism (also known as “Second Wave”), despite their desire to claim otherwise, did not originate from the mainstream Suffragettes, but was quickly adopted by the Communists during the same period of the Industrial Revolution. The rapidity of societal change, brought about by the Industrial Revolution, allowed for the confusion between equality of Dignity and the utilitarian to meld into the cesspool of pre-revolution communist thinkers. Look no further than communist leader Clara Zetkin’s interview with Vladimir Lenin on “"The Woman Question", later to be expounded upon by the Frankfurt School (see excellent and pithy article, here), to prove this point.
Indeed, the radical feminism that takes issue with any differences between sexes was one that was built upon Zetkin and the Frankfurt School, and modernized in the 1960’s by individuals like Betty Friedan. The result: value is derived, not from dignity, but from usefulness. If gender does not exist, all persons are equally useful to the state. If genders do, then deference must be given to the woman, whose role in raising children is essential to the propagation of civilized society. The sacrifice of this, however, is self-denial, and such virtue was repugnant to the communist…and, evidently, to the modern feminist. In fact, the very basis of the “sexual revolution” with the propagation (and later promotion) of chemical contraception targeted women in order to “free” them from the “burden” of motherhood, while allowing for unfettered intemperance. Indeed, one may even find the current trend of self-defining, “polygenderism” with a root in the feminist movement.
At the beginning of this article, I mentioned that throughout history, one can break down the rise and fall of kingdoms through three tiers—strength of purpose (such as faith), strength of arms and strength of legacy. We are living in what many call the “post-Christian era”--where Judeo-Christian ethics were once embraced, society now edges out “objective truth” to make way for individual relativism. This makes it quite difficult to maintain a “strength of purpose” when one man’s “truth” is directly countered by another. In fact, with this relativism, the degeneration of “strength of legacy” follows. For when the focus is on the pleasurable “now” of relative truth, the “tomorrow” is put off for another day. Why sacrifice one’s time, finances, physical beauty to raise children—indeed, what does one “get” out of that?
How can society begin to counter narcissism to such a degree? Finding a foundation for it, in the formation of the generations, may give a clue to how to reverse—or even break—this spiraling wheel of Western decline.
In his article (and subsequent talks) on “The Sixth Generation”, Rev. Chad Ripperger lays out—in an almost scientific way—the most prevalent demonic influences on each generation, from the “Lost Generation” to the generation of children being born, today. In the last article, the generational spirit of the “Greatest Generation” was revealed to be a “lack of mortification and inappropriation of suffering.” Although this article will not attempt to engage in a detailed study of generational demonology, it will endeavor to highlight the “Generational Spirits” for their main attributes. Understanding that each subsequent generation had these compounded, one upon the other, will begin to give a sense of what society must do to counteract them.
Fr Ripperger points to the beginning of degeneration of the West (particularly in the United States) with the inability of the “Lost Generation”—or the generation born between the First and Second World Wars—to communicate to their offspring how to suffer for virtue’s sake. At face value, this idea of suffering for virtue may seem wholly Christian, but a glimpse at Marcus Aurelius’’ “Stoicism” would easily prove otherwise. In fact, it was during the height of the Roman Empire--where stoicism was embraced as a philosophical religious observance—those within the elite praetorian were reputed to endure extreme hardship, pain and suffering with the endurance of the best stoic. This same culture has inundated the ethos of elite warfighters of the US Military, the same communities that value the height of masculine strength. Unfortunately, for the generation to follow, the lack of communication on endurance and the benefits of such endurance for the sake of something higher than self, led to resentment and regret. Thus, the 6th Generation passed on a “Spirit of Incommunication”.
With the WWII Generation addressed, in the first part of this article, we move forward to the Baby Boomer Generation. The Boomers are the offspring of those who returned from World War II, and span the birth years of around 1946-1967. With the generational spirits of “Incommunication” and “innapropriation of suffering/lack of mortification for virtue’s sake”, and the added formation bent on material indulgence, it is hardly surprising that the hippy movement, sexual revolution and radical feminism developed within this generation. According to Fr. Ripperger, this generation acquired the generational spirit of “indocility due to intemperance”. Boomers have a reputation of an iron-fisted adherence to counter-culture rebellion. Although their formation included, very likely, religion, many in this generation openly resented being “forced” into “mainstream faith systems”. It is interesting to note that, within this generation, unconventional, non-denomination Christian worship and an obsession with the occult and Eastern “mysticism” exploded. Perhaps due to their unconventional leanings, however, many within the Boomer Generation became successful for invention and entrepreneurship. They inherited a strong work ethic from their parents, but their drive originated from a desire to acquire material goods and personal success, for the sake of the esteem of their peers.
Generations X (and sub-generation Y) inherited the generational spirits of Incommunication, Innapropriation of Suffering, Lack of Mortification, and Indocility due to Intemperance. This generation was born, roughly, between 1965-1982, with a few “sub generations” before the big “millennial” boom of the mid-1980’s. These individuals were formed with an innate materialistic ethos and an added access to technology that none of their predecessors had. The desire for immediate gratification—and the consequent lack of endurance/work ethic—was a trait that began to develop in this generation. It didn’t fully develop, however, as a recession in the economy and a threat of the Cold War was still quite prevalent, did not allow for full indulgence. Of this generation, Fr Ripperger writes:
“The generational spirit of Generation X (and Generation Y) is a spirit of amorality or the absence of religiosity. The members of this generation are often hallmarked by nice personalities, somewhat easy to get along with, and are not mean spirited. They are not “immoral” in the sense which we will see with the next generation. They are unlikely to steal another’s property, hurt others, or argue with others. They tend not to see the point of religion and this is the generation that was first allowed “to choose which religion” it would follow.”
Interestingly enough, one may now see the pattern of moral/spiritual degeneration of which each subsequent generation has fallen, when naming the “layers” or “characteristic roots” of what Fr. Ripperger calls “generational spirits”. Each compounds the next; each forming the next within the context and consequences of the former. With the increase of immediate access to technology, the increase of material wealth towards the mid-1990’s, the amoral context that let loose the “chains” of whatever was left of the temperance of their parents, and an innate rebellion against social “norms”-- Generation X laid the foundation of the infamous narcissism that has identified the “Millennial Generation”.
We now come to the current generation. There hasn’t been an identified “end point” to the Millennials, but their starting point begins towards the end of the 1980’s. Fully immersed and engaged in technology, most Millennials do not remember a time when they haven’t had immediate access—whether in their education or in their formation. They are marked with an innate need for immediate gratification, a lack of endurance. This lack of endurance has moved many towards hyper-emotional narcissism. The narcissism that has characterized this generation is one that is not easily seen by those within it, and being called to task on this quality causes many to react with extreme resentment. Many Millennials cannot comprehend the reason why they are not rewarded and promoted for work they do, and are noted to change careers often for this reason. They are intellectually and spiritually restless. These qualities, however, are just characteristics of their “generational spirit” identified by Fr Ripperger—theirs is a generational spirit of depravity. This may seem a harsh term, but knowing the amorality of their parents, and the immediate gratification they seek, one quickly can identify the lengths to which this generation has gone to obtain it. Pornography, although accessible and somewhat accepted by their predecessors, has become a norm in both entertainment and reality. Sexual promiscuity was not simply enough. Alternatives, more public and more extreme, have been produced. Social media exposure in order to exploit have been applauded. With the hyper-emotionalism of this Generation, hopelessness abounds. Bullying, trolling, violence, drug addiction and suicide has been a hallmark result of this depravity.
Stop Blaming the Men, Start Countering the Cause
One may identify the causation (or roots) of the downward spiral of generational degeneration, but simply identifying them will not result in ending their cycle. Thomistic Philosophy--having built upon and “baptized” classical Aristotelian philosophy—suggests that Virtues (and their inversions, Vices) are habits that are acquired through, often, arduous effort. When considering how difficult a habit is to break (or good habit to form, in the case of exercise or dieting), one must consider the incredible challenge facing current generations—especially in light of their generational spirits. The efforts of those seeking to “break the cycle”, and restore civility to civilization will be enormous. Generation X and the Millennials will have to counter the six generational spirits with the Virtues that are their inversion if they are to succeed in changing the course of the future before them. Incommunication and innappropriation must be countered by efforts to communicate—not only amongst themselves, but to their offspring—a fully willed intent and effort to embrace suffering for the sake of virtue (or “the other”—the best “Other” being for love of God). The Moral Virtues, here, are Prudence, Fortitude and Justice. Indocility is countered by docility (the ability to be lead and take counsel from others) —a “daughter” of the Moral Virtue, Prudence, but specifically in light of Temperance. From Temperance, all the other vices are countered: amorality and depravity are countered by all the “daughters” of Temperance. Those in the current generation will have to stave their appetites, focus on simplicity, self-control and humility. They will have to endure great efforts at overcoming bad habits—instilled in formation—if they are to succeed in breaking the cycle. Blaming men of the past, or the women who usurped their roles will not result in success, overcoming their failures. Instead, training—as elite athletes do—in the Virtues opposed will be a deliberate, and possibly painful, act of the will for both sexes.
Can The West Be Reclaimed?
With so many challenges facing current generations, the outlook may seem dim. Indeed, with the increase of uncivilized behavior, the lower faculties of the emotions and passions continue to run wild over reason and morality—resulting in the social upheaval, unrest and general chaos being witnessed in most western nations. Yet, there are signs of a “change of current” within the younger generations. Most may have engaged in what society has to offer, but many are now recognizing the severe lacking and disquiet these life choices have wrought. Interest has risen in living agrarian lifestyles, embracing simplicity (think the “tiny house” trend), off the grid. Many are making efforts to disconnect from techno Want to add a caption to this image? Click the Settings icon. logy, and reconnect with nature and humane causes. As Mike Rowe identified, an increase of interest among Millennials in tradecraft has grown, and with it, entrepreneurship. In addition, although the majority of Millennials still identify as “spiritual, but not religious”, there has been an increase of young men and women returning to Traditional religious roots—most preferring traditional liturgical practices. In this minority, a return to marriage and embrace of larger families is occurring. Even certain Western nations—such as France--have recognized this new trend as being beneficial, even in a purely economic way. They have gone so far as to pass tax breaks and incentives to support larger families.
Are these micro-clusters of society the glimmer of hope we need, for the restoration of the West? Time will tell—but one thing is for certain, the schism grows ever deeper between those seeking to restore and those who have embraced the tired humanism that was.