By Wayne Allensworth
“MAGA,” if one means by that the restoration of an earlier version of America, has always been a delusion. The old country is dead and gone and has been for a long time. At present, the best long-term plan for the American Remnant, especially serious Christians, is probably something like Rod Dreher’s “Benedict Option” of a strategic withdrawal from a toxic anti-culture that, instead of nurturing the community, as an authentic culture should do, erodes its foundations as society’s coherence is dissolved by “liquid modernity” and its siren call of godlike individual autonomy. Our people must carve out enclaves for themselves to try and preserve what was good about the country we so fondly remember.
We can’t elect ourselves out of a situation in which, as Dreher has noted on his blog, a recent Gallup survey indicated that just 41 percent of self-identified conservatives agreed that couples with children should legally marry — a staggering decline from 62 percent in 2006. Only 45 percent of weekly churchgoers (!) believed that. The number from all age groups and categories who affirmed that couples with children should marry is a mere 28.5 percent.
Traditional morality is vanishing, even among self-proclaimed Christians, and our society is steadily becoming more secular.
The loss of religious faith is linked to the decline of marriage and falling birth rates, and in a snowball effect, religion declines as marriage collapses. The family and religious faith are bound in what Mary Eberstadt, author of How the West Really Lost God, calls a “double helix” with each needing the other to flourish. Without intact families, we get exactly what one would expect: atomization, social anomie, and increasing chaos. This is no great mystery. Village elders have known it for millennia, and if you must have a study to confirm a self-evident truth, here’s one.
The American Remnant can’t get anywhere without acknowledging just how dire the situation is. We can’t count on a civic religion that has failed. “Politics” as we have understood that term have all but vanished. When a shared culture and sense of identity has evaporated, and “we” cannot even agree on who is male and female, the limits of political procedure are obvious.
Voting is, at best, a limited tactical move. In my lifetime, from Eisenhower to Biden, the leftward march has continued no matter who was in office. There wasn’t any “morning in America” in the 80s. We were lulled into complacency by election results that, with the passing years, look increasingly ineffectual.
The “great sort” is in full swing, as millions of people are leaving the ruins of once great cities and states to seek a more hospitable living space for themselves and their loved ones. We should recall that the exodus actually started decades ago. “White flight” inaugurated the abandonment of American inner cities by the country’s core population in the 60s and 70s.
I lament what has happened to my country, yet “her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity.” We can weep for what has been lost, but we will have to sing our song in a strange land if anything is to survive.
Wayne Allensworth is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel Field of Blood.