The West lost its backbone for a very simple reason: It lost its meta-narrative: its overarching story for what we believe and do.
The people of the West have no why for what they're doing, save to fill their bellies and beds. Even their greatest dogma, Democracy, is an empty shell. Nothing could have made that point better than the past two years, when the world was turned upside down by edicts from potentates – precisely the thing democracy was supposed to prevent – while the belly-fillers of the West made not a peep.
The Mongols had a meta-narrative. It was a terribly ugly one, but it organized their energies and efforts, allowing them to overrun most of the known world. (Meta-narratives aren't always nice.) The Romans had a meta-narrative too; not the best, but definitely not the worst.
Early Europe had a grand meta-narrative: Bringing the world into the light of Christ. By it they became the first civilization in history to eliminate slavery from an entire continent, and to keep it out, century after century. (Among other successes.)
America had a wonderful meta-narrative: We were proving to the world that individual liberty was better than servitude. We went about to prove it and we did prove it. From where, after all, did railroads, electricity, telephones, radio, the electric light, television, cars, airplanes, and a dozen other wonders arise? Sure, several of those had European precursors (smart and creative people aren't unique to any location), but they rooted and developed in America, because that's where they were able to root and develop… because we had the meta-narrative for it.
That is no longer true. American universities teach our children that having a meta-narrative makes them a primitive fool. (Though they are permitted outrage, which somehow makes them enlightened.) Whole disciplines are devoted to destroying meta-narratives, half-destroying young minds along with them. There are necessary discussions to be had about the quality and the openness of meta-narratives, but to blindly trash them is almost literally to throw the baby out with the bathwater. These academics are not demonstrating intelligence; they're demonstrating avarice, coupled with arrogance and ultimately with malice.
American retained a few meta-narratives, even through the 1960s. Millions of us were deeply committed to getting mankind into space, and we were doing it, until the rug was pulled out from under us. We also had the hippie movement. Regardless of their errors, the hippies, especially the early ones, really were seeking enlightenment and the expansion of consciousness. Unsurprisingly, 18 year olds took things too far, but the initial drive, at least in my corner of it, was legitimate.
The point is that we were doing something big, something grand… something that mattered on the species level. And it's precisely that kind of mission that opens you up, gives you a backbone and makes you truly alive.
Alas, those are also lost. Bitcoiners and homeschoolers – people willing to suffer for what they believe – have purpose in their lives, but the mainstream narrative, which millions imbibe via TV and social media – seeks to overwhelm such ideas, drowning out any serious consideration.
So, I'm going to tell you how this happened, because I think it will help a certain number of people. If you want references and precision, go to our subscription letter; this is more of a bar stool rant… but it's not wrong.
Here's what happened:
Europe was devastated by two World Wars. Two consecutive generations of young men were more than decimated. Millions of women lost the men in their lives, and learned, instead, to lean on the state. That's a massive generalization, of course, but there's a whole lot of truth in it.
The Enlightenment took a bad turn and threw off a new class of intellectuals who sought, by any means available, to ensconce themselves in positions of power. As always, it bred corruption.
The culture of the West has been directly attacked for quite some time. (And yes, the Soviets funded a lot of it during their dark reign.) One by one, the pillars of Western civilization have been misrepresented, ridiculed and removed.
Money created without cost (fiat currency) has allowed rulers to substantially replace the parents of the West, and especially fathers, who are consistently portrayed as dullards and oafs in popular entertainments. Got a problem? Run to daddy government; they have a program for you. At some point the free money game will end, but it has made personal virtues irrelevant since 1971.
So, there you have the crux of it. Once we had a meta-narrative; with it we accomplished great things and felt legitimately good about ourselves. Now we don't, and the West has no cohesion, no direction, no reason for excellence and no pride in itself.