[Alasdair MacIntyre’s]…minatory warning was: “The barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time.” That was a scary thing to hear from one of the world’s great philosophers. I soon began to hear it from other leading intellectuals also, such as Philip Rieff, Christopher Lasch and Robert Bellah. That is what I heard in the echoes of 9/11: that all great civilisations eventually decline, and when they begin to do so they are vulnerable. That is what Osama bin Laden believed about the West and so did some of the West’s own greatest minds.
If so, then 9/11 belongs to a wider series of phenomena affecting the West: the disintegration of the family, the demise of authority, the build-up of personal debt, the collapse of financial institutions, the downgrading of the American economy, the continuing failure of some European economies, the loss of a sense of honour, loyalty and integrity that has brought once esteemed groups into disrepute, the waning throughout the West of a sense of national identity; even last month’s riots.
These are all signs of the arteriosclerosis of a culture, a civilisation grown old. Whenever Me takes precedence over We, and pleasure today over viability tomorrow, a society is in trouble. If so, then the enemy is not radical Islam, it is us and our by now unsustainable self-indulgence.
Read it all.