This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

NOTICE:
This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

The presence of anti-state ideology

What created the American ‘individual’ as distinct from people embedded in the various Europeans traditions? This was mostly a result of factors already discussed: the availability of a ‘frontier’ in the non-European sense, the mentality of ‘take what you will’, the absence of any prior political tradition, not to mention a fairly clean slate in terms of religious roots, since in Europe it was never possible to really leave behind the influence of Catholicism, while in the New World the Church had no pre-existing cultural infrastructure. America really was a mass of individuals who could and did proceed outward from a handful of settled areas to claim new lands on a regular basis without oversight or aid. Thus, while it may have been odd to speak of ‘individual rights’ in Europe, it seemed much less so in America.

As for political attitudes, we can say that an anti-state ideology was present from the start, not so much as a reaction to a corrupt state but rather as a fact of life. The Revolution, which was directed against the crown, and therefore against a state, was in fact a result of this anti-state ideology rather than being the explanation for it. Those who say that Americans distrust the state due to their experience with monarchy are putting the cart before the horse.

Americans have never been in a position to appreciate social authority as a good. The state, for European peoples, was (at one time at least) a force for order and prosperity, whatever the abuses of which it might have been guilty. The European states were, and therefore were experienced as, the organic culmination of a cultural lifecycle, and in this sense they ‘belonged’ and had their role to play. They were not perceived as intrinsically alien and oppressive, although capable of oppression. In America, the perception was different. Since the only apparent state was the distant British one—distant and for the most part unnecessary for the colonial individual—such an authority could only be experienced as a parasitic body of distant meddlers.

The Revolution was merely the occasion of the expression of what was already a reality. The Americans were a people destined to perceive any kind of state as an enemy to human flourishing.

America may have been right to think that it did not have need of the British government in order to prosper, but it was self-destructive to move from this idea to the idea that all government is necessarily oppressive. One bite of rotten fruit is not good reason to abstain from it for the rest of one’s life, and to do so is to invite disease. Likewise, a healthy appreciation for government authority and the capacity to feel kinship with that authority is the sign of a thriving culture, and cultural disease is the consequence of a nation’s inability to grow into a familial hierarchy.

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