Feb 27, 2016

February 26, 2016: The Monk of Clairvaux, Depth of Decline, Know Not How to Govern

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) (1) in a letter to his disciple Eugenius had this to say about the vices and Tumults of Rome:

“Who is ignorant”, says the monk of Clairvaux, “of the vanity and the arrogance of the Romans? A nation nursed in sedition, cruel, untractable, and scorning to obey, unless they are too feeble to resist.  When they promise to serve, they aspire to reign; if they swear allegiance, they watch the opportunity of revolt; yet they vent their discontent in loud clamors, if your doors or your counsels are shut against them.  Dexterous in mischief, they have never learned the science of doing good.  Odious to earth and heaven, impious to God, seditious among themselves, jealous of their neighbours, inhuman to strangers, they love no one, by no one are they loved; and while they wish to inspire fear, they live in base and continual apprehension.  They will not submit; they know not how to govern; faithless to their superiors, intolerable to their equals, ungrateful to their benefactors, and alike impudent in their demands and their refusals.  Lofty in promise, poor in execution: adulation and calumny, perfidy and treason, are familiar arts of their policy.” (2)

This account of the sorry state into which the once proud Romans had degenerated by the 12th century could easily describe contemporary America and the malaise currently gripping the American psyche.  Nothing, better describes attitudes and behaviors of the contemporary United States currently in the grip of the narcissistic Boomers, the ‘Generation of Swine”; and nowhere is this malignancy more manifest than in the mischief presently perpetrated by the knuckle-dragging conservative movement which releasing itself from the bonds of reason has proceeded to make a mockery of not only public policy but the very legitimacy of governance itself.  History, it appears, has run its course on the American Empire as the cancer that is the American Conservative movement works its way through the body politic.

Across this land one hears a constant chorus of ‘it can’t be done’.  We can’t afford health insurance; we can’t afford to invest in infrastructure; we can’t afford to invest in our people and our labor force; we can’t afford the new technologies necessary to save ourselves, and perhaps the planet, from the devastating demands being imposed upon mother nature by modern civilization. This has become the Mantra of the Swine.

This isn’t a recent development.  It began precisely at that junction when the “Boomers” came, politically speaking, ‘of age’.  Just as the ‘Can-Do’ attitudes of our fathers put a man on the moon the “Boomers”, having chased a President from office and about to vote for the first time, added to their critique of war and peace the questioning of our investments in the space program.  The argument, so it went, was that we couldn’t afford the program.  And so Nixon, always with his ear to the ground, cut the funding for NASA eliminating at least two more moon missions and relegating the space program for decades to the continual circling of the earth in low space orbit.  The era of “Can’t-Do” had arrived.

And so began the not-so-slow downward spiral as one program after another suffered budget cuts and America began a serial disinvestment in its future and in itself.  The “Boomers”, embracing a conservative and libertarian creed, have by degrees hollowed out not only the industrial economy of a once great nation but it’s very soul; to the very point where we now “know not how to govern” and, indeed question the very legitimacy of governance itself.   
(2). Gibbon, Edward “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”.  Methuen & Co

            London 1914. Volume VII, page 228

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