“If human life is (as secular modernity asserts) ultimately about gratification (about maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering) then it will always seem tempting to take the short-term choice leading to immediate and certain happiness and avoid immediate and certain suffering; and to ignore the long-term consequences of these choices on the basis that the future cannot be known with certainty, and we might be dead anyway before the future arrives.
The resulting mentality is characteristic of the modern secular elite, but has spread to encompass much of contemporary life. Charles Murray has encapsulated this modern ‘sophisticated’ attitude very well: “Human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.”
My point is that a society which regards the purpose of life as being to while away the time between birth and death as pleasantly as possible is a society which cannot make tough decisions. It is a society which will always take the easy way out, will pursue short-termist and certain benefits, and which will therefore always submit to its enemies – because to resist enemies makes life less pleasant than to appease them.
Even to recognize the reality of threats and enemies is unpleasant, distressing, generative of negative emotions such as fear and anger – better if we can pretend that threats and enemies are harmless or benign, really; and the only truly nasty people are those who make us feel bad about ourselves, here and now…
So a society that values nothing higher than a pleasant life and which will seek the pleasant life wherever and whenever possible will be morally flaccid in face of opposition, will appease rather than resist, will submit rather than fight, and will therefore end-up being ruled by its most relentless and long-termist enemies – and by having an extremely unpleasant life.
This is why secular modernity cannot survive: because it enshrines the worldly enlightened self-interest of submissive flaccidity as its ultimate form of rational, sensitive moral behaviour.”
Excerpted from Bruce Charlton’s “Decline of the West Explained”