It isn’t often that human excrement brings clarity.
It isn’t often that human excrement brings clarity, unless you’re a diagnostician. And yet a story from Fox Sports, “Soccer Fans Banned for 3 Years,” put everything into perspective for me:
German soccer club FC Cologne announced Thursday three fans accused of throwing urine and feces during a German league game have been handed a three-year nationwide ban from all German stadiums.
The three fans reportedly threw cups filled with urine and feces onto a group of Schalke fans during Cologne’s 5-1 away loss in Gelsenkirchen.
We’ve been reading reports of rioting in Europe, most recently in England, for a while. Experts struggle to generate a comprehensible explanation for all the anger and violence. The people are angry, some say, because benefits (for which others generally pay) are being cut back. Or they’re angry because they have no hope of advancement in a society where advancement is considered somewhat vulgar. They’re angry because of white racism, or brown racism. They’re just angry.
But the feces-throwing puts it in perspective. Because feces-throwing is the natural behavior of hominids in the wild.
Now let me pause here to make clear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying anything at all about race or ethnicity. From all reports, the European rioters were a glorious rainbow of vibrant diversities. I’m not suggesting that the poo-throwing instinct is distinctive to some ethnic group. I’m saying that it’s universally human but rarely observed among humans, for reasons which are in dispute (I’ll get to that later).
It’s not hard to imagine the Tories and Royalists of centuries past saying, “See? We told you this democracy experiment would end this way. The common people are beasts. They require guidance and discipline administered by their betters. For their own safety, if for no other reason.”
This was the kind of objection early liberals had to fight. They framed their own arguments, by and large, in one of two main ways, Christian or secular. It should surprise no one who has studied history that the Christian argument was based on revelation plus practical experience, while the secular one was based on revelation plus wishful thinking. The Christian argument said that humanity was a special creation of God, fallen and flawed but capable of sanctification. The secular argument was that humans were just highly developed apes, who were capable of higher things… for some reason.
The experience of Norway, the European country I know best, is instructive. A Christian revival, sparked by the work of the lay preacher Hans Nielsen Hauge, brought about a profound cultural change that shook the establishment. Common people who had learned to read the Bible were now reading more generally, forming opinions and expressing them. Some of them proved — to the surprise of many — to be sensible people. It grew harder and harder, and finally impossible, to deny them a voice in government. The party that spoke for them was known as the Venstre (the Left), and its leadership was overwhelmingly Haugean. Its chief concern was moral and spiritual improvement in the nation. As Christians, these Leftists recognized the essential depravity of man, but they believed they had a means, in the Bible and the church, to elevate human nature.
But in time the Venstre Party passed into the hands of what was called the “Pure” Left (Rene Venstre), acolytes of Rousseau and Marx. These new leftists were in some ways, at first, almost indistinguishable from the Haugeans. They believed in stern duty, and called on the people to sacrifice for the common good. But they were operating on pure cultural habit. In fact they believed that people were just apes, and their assumption of inevitable progress was faith-based. They recall to me an agnostic I once did business with who used to say, “When it comes down to it, we’re all just poo-flingers.” The irony was that he was a man of tremendous integrity and decency. He didn’t live like a poo-flinger at all.
The democracy experiment worked. In a way, it worked too well. At this point I need to veer off from Norway and address Europe as a whole. Norway has not seen the great riots — yet. What put Norway in the news recently was an atrocity committed by a man who was not a leftist. But while it would be a lie to suggest that an act like his (I won’t do him the courtesy naming him) couldn’t be committed by a Christian, it might be noted that he expressly denies personal Christian faith. He shares with his political enemies the basic belief that he’s essentially a poo-flinger with no higher Tribunal to which he must answer.
As prosperity and freedom increased in Europe, politicians found it easier (and far more popular) to promise more to the people and expect less from them. Where the Christian leaders and old Socialists once called on the populace to suppress their lower instincts, the new leaders told them “There’s nothing wrong with you except that you’re not getting enough government money.” The people liked this, and the politicians liked it too, because it wasn’t their money. This was a win-win strategy for everybody except… everybody.
And so the people, bereft of any cultural brakes, either legal or internal, end up rioting and throwing feces. This is because, Rousseau to the contrary, man was born in chains and is everywhere being pandered to.
You’re probably expecting me to conclude with a prediction that Europe is about to become a great monkey colony, an anarchy where jungle law prevails.
But that’s not what’s going to happen.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online