The following is author and journalist Ted Byfield’s Foreword to Jonathon Van Maren’s recent book, The Culture War. It can be purchased here.
The value of this book, for those of us now departing what the old Anglican liturgy calls “this fleeting world,” is hard to overstate. It describes a convulsive revolution that we watched happen around us over the last fifty or so years. The operative word here is “watched.” For though it undermined and largely destroyed some of the most hallowed and critically essential principles upon which our whole society is founded, the appalling truth is that few in my generation (I’m now 87) did anything substantial to resist it.
Yes, we questioned, whined, wondered and occasionally deplored what we saw happening, but the revolutionaries scoffed. They knew we would not man the barricades to defend the old order, bequeathed to us by our ancestors and paid for over many generations with a great deal of blood. And they were right. They won because we let them win.
But it seemed to happen so suddenly. One day we woke up to discover the world had astonishingly changed. Sexual strictures we had once considered unshakeable had been shaken out of existence. Deeds once prohibited by the criminal code had now become not just legal, but unassailable. Sacred, one might say, insofar as anything remained sacred.
To even criticize the new lifestyles and “freedoms” had become an act of “hate,” punishable by fine or imprisonment. Meanwhile, the authority of the family was gradually being usurped by the state. In many jurisdictions, for example, parents caught spanking their children, something parents have been doing since the dawn of humanity, were now subject to criminal prosecution. The public school system, once a strong bulwark of support for faith and family, now worked diligently to undermine both. The old “values” must go; the child must become more “advanced” than the parent. Such was officialdom’s thinking.
And who were these revolutionaries? The brute fact is that they were our own children, many of them now in their sixties and accurately described as “the Boomers”—accurately, because in the main they have lived their entire lives in boom times. In fact, they were the most affluent, comfortable, economically secure, physically healthy, and painless society yet known to man. They are also the most pampered, under-challenged, and over-valued generation, which has largely paid its way on borrowed government money. Its unfortunate heirs and descendants will somehow have to pay back.
Being a member of these ill-starred heirs of the Boomers, Van Maren is understandably aggrieved at what they have done to our society. He depicts it in clinical detail—the abortion business, the baby body-parts business, the porn business, the sex slave business, the gradually establishing euthanasia business. He doesn’t go into the business of drugs and drug-related crime, another endowment to humanity bestowed upon us by the Boomers. But everything else is here, phase by phase, horror by horror, as it transpired year by year, decade by decade.
Many will find it an uneasy book to read. He knows this. But he also knows how our reluctance to face reality led to our defeat. As each new outrage succeeded the former outrage, we soon became inured to outrage itself. We found ourselves quietly acquiescing to forms of behaviour we would once have regarded as utterly abominable, even unmentionable. So we gave up reading about it and let things happen. But Van Maren won’t let us get away with this. In effect, he is saying: Like it or not, to ignore these things is to accept them. So yes, read it. Become disgusted, sickened, and then act.
But act how? Is the war not over? Is it not already lost? He certainly does not think so. But he also warns that before it gets better it may well become worse, that the present attack on Christian morality will soon become a war against Christianity itself. However, of two further realities he is himself both aware and at work.
First, he knows that their history will not be written by the Boomers, but by his own generation. And they, burdened as they will be by the inevitable consequences of the assorted insanities heaped upon them by their forebears, will not see the Boomers as they see themselves–founders of a shining era of new liberties, rights, tolerance, reason and “choice.” Instead, what they will see is a squalid return to animal barbarism and the dominance of “me” over every thing and everybody else, all being paid for by the luckless lot they left behind. This book, that is, may well be a forerunner of a great many more that take up the same theme. That makes it a must-read for many people.
Second, he realizes that the winner of the Culture War will not be determined by judges, politicians and academics, but by the workings of what the Christians call “judgment.” That is, by the natural consequences of the changes made. If they turn out good, they will help create a better society. If they turn out bad, they will destroy the society we have. As this book so graphically discloses, all the results to date are in the negative. Our enemies, the revolutionaries, do not appear to realize this. They have deluded themselves into thinking that now that officialdom has spoken, all will be well. They’re wrong, and as we see things crumbling around us, we should be sure to call this to their attention. Van Maren certainly has.