“Higher Values” exploited to Justify Convenient Inaction.
While growing-up in the happy realm of the Soviet Union’s “outer empire”, one was harangued that “western decadence” guarantees “final victory”. That trait was attributed to capitalism, which was condemned to death by its “internal contradictions” confirmed by Marxist “science”. We kids regarded the claim as one of “their” lies. A proof of living a lie was a good marching song. It alleged, “There is no richer and more beautiful land than this one / All people feel that they are free”.
Survival despite the regime, was followed by a wished-for life in the “depraved West”. It took decades of a second life in America to reach an admission. “They” were wrong in everything, yet, in one matter they had a partial truth that held some water.
Yes, there is decadence in our realm. Even if the National Socialists and the Communists have pretended that, even if their teaching crashed when logic - and not loaded guns - was the yardstick, we have a problem with decadence.
What is meant here by “decadence”? It is a conglomerate of attitudes and patterns of behavior. Not believing in your country’s cause “because it is my country” is one of these. This is no plea for fact defying belief, which demands unthinking consent, as in “right or wrong, it is my country”. Ones country, -even assuming that its people can determine its course - can be wrong. This comes about in singular cases because policies rested on faulty information or an erroneous evaluation of options.
Another symptom is the over-appreciation of enemies. The decadent praises his antagonist to justify retreats motivated by convenience. The misjudgment, as in “we have seen the future and it works” rises with the foe’s claim to destroy its “great Satan”. In this, the 1:1 acceptance of transparent pretensions becomes a trait. Take a recent matter. A great sportsman undertakes a pilgrimage to the tyrant of a criminal system. This tells that, contrary to racists, decadence is not a condition determined by genes. Rather it is something that flows from a dislocation of values and from the expulsion of reason.
The case depicts personal decadence. However, its acceptance reflects the context’s condition. The reception of the pilgrimage of a celebrated ball-artist to adulate a psychiatric case that hijacked a country is a proof of general decadence. As we face a “repeat performance”, the kowtow tells of ignorance amplified by stupidity. So not the action, but its reception, moves the needle on the gauge.
The followers of strange ideas, the adherents of improbable theories, the fans of the absurd, are likely to be ill equipped intellectually to render sound judgments. We get decadence when such people receive more than a hearing but are also extended acceptance for their loud persistence. When idiocy is accepted by the sane –because everybody has a right to his opinion- then we have decadence.
The decadent can embrace the political criminals of their time. They always find a split hair to suspend upon it doubts that excuse the perpetrator. “They shot down an airliner? But why was it crossing the path of that innocent missile”?
In this, a fantasy is lived out. The decadent –they are as cowardly as they are fools convinced of their immunity- wish to run from the challenging present into the safety of a projection. In that utopia, all can pose as moral without bearing obligations. In this retreat from reality, regardless of the proudly worn moral labels, the decadent are not tolerant but only permissive. Thus, they are submissive if evil is assertive and powerful: it is safer to kick a French poodle than a Great Dane. The flexible “understanding” behind this comportment that glorifies caving in, flies on a hope: good behavior will mellow the evil so that will “go away”.
This crisis management by retreat is completed to the tune of a chest thumping, that can encounter a hurdle. In the case of Europe, it is America. It happens when her homegrown depraved that practice self-humiliation, are not in charge. America’s role in protecting an alliance that underperforms in the service of its own security is an object of a moralizing. US allies love to complain about being junior partners. Yet, secretly, most of that five hundred million love that condition. Converting a bemoaned dependency into equivalence is, due to size and economic power, not a question of inability but of lacking will. Oddly, dependence brings advantages; it caters to the wish to remain neutral in one’s own defense.
If you follow complaints about inequality and discrimination you know a gene located near the one of envy. Dependency excuses failures, it removes the need to act, and lets the carper condemn others. The savored dependence brings automatic excuses. At the same time, the whine creates good will among the perpetrators. At any rate, one can claim “innocence” in case the defense causes damage to the tort’s insulted source. Meanwhile, inaction is justified, while the nagger’s self-assigned victim status creates a moral pedestal at the price of doing nothing.
China, Russia, to name only two, are assertive as they pick fruit accessed through swinging their club. Is the ailment of instinctive retreat is a byproduct of the democratic order? No, Britain in 1940 and Israel today, are hardly reacting to threats to their existence by apologizing as they back away.
The management of the MH17’s case tells a frightening tale that is scarier than the original banditry. After some hesitation that sends a signal of irresolution, we are stammering about punitive actions. Reducing the worth of these is that the same sources have signaled that retaliation must be cognizant of common interests, such as energy dependency. A real commitment would be a statement that, if we must, “we are willing to eat grass”. Whatever the hesitantly imposed sanctions might be, it is likely that they will try to avoid hardship.
It seems that deep inside, “we” do not want incontrovertible proof that blames the Kremlin. As long as a “shadow of a doubt” can be maintained, measures that imply traces of “blood, sweat, and tears” will be diluted. Welcome are the “separatists’” actions that delay that “objective” international “investigation” by physically threatening the experts. The tampered evidence will end in a survey that is, due to shaky “facts”, meaningless. The purpose: the international community can duck responsibility and benefit from face-saving doubts.
In the Ukraine, and elsewhere, what we do not want to discover is the confirmation of what we know. Ultimately, there will be gratitude for Putin’s statesmanlike call for an “open quest”. Appreciation will be given to his principle that, the country on whose territory an atrocity occurs is responsible for it. Never mind that not Kiev, but through proxies, Moscow is in control of the ground from which the missile was fired and where the plane crashed. In time, we will be told to lean back feeling justified by the confirmation of our aloofness’ moral quality. Resting on excuses, we will, to improve the “climate”, then push again that “reset” button. As we do so, we will wait for the next act of thuggery whose challenge will be to find an excuse to overlook it.