Late last year, I had the opportunity of speaking
to the Conservative Leadership Conference on the state of the conservative
movement. I’ve given similar talks in the past, and usually they have focused
on the most recent election or our situation in Congress or something similar.
This time, the thoughts I offered were very different, and frankly rather
radical. The strong, positive response they brought forth—which came as
something of a surprise to me—has led me to think that I should share them
more widely. That is the purpose of this letter.
What many of us have been trying to do for many years
has been based upon a couple of premises. First of all, we have assumed
that a majority of Americans basically agrees with our point of view. That
has been the premise upon which we have tried to build any number of institutions,
and indeed our whole strategy. It is I who suggested to Jerry Falwell that
he call his organization the "Moral Majority." The second premise has been
that if we could just elect enough conservatives, we could get our people
in as Congressional leaders and they would fight to implement our agenda.
In looking at the long history of conservative politics,
from the defeat of Robert Taft in 1952, to the nomination of Barry Goldwater,
to the takeover of the Republican Party in 1994, I think it is fair to
say that conservatives have learned to succeed in politics. That is, we
got our people elected.
But that did not result in the adoption of our agenda.
The reason, I think, is that politics itself has failed. And politics has
failed because of the collapse of the culture. The culture we are living
in becomes an ever-wider sewer. In truth, I think we are caught up in a
cultural collapse of historic proportions, a collapse so great that it
simply overwhelms politics.
That’s why I am in the process of rethinking what
it is that we, who still believe in our traditional, Western, Judeo-Christian
culture, can and should do under the circumstances. Please understand that
I am not quarreling with anybody who pursues politics, because it is important
to pursue politics, to be involved in government. It is also important
to try, as many people have, to re-take the cultural institutions that
have been captured by the other side.
But it is impossible to ignore the fact that the
United States is becoming an ideological state. The ideology of Political
Correctness, which openly calls for the destruction of our traditional
culture, has so gripped the body politic, has so gripped our institutions,
that it is even affecting the Church. It has completely taken over the
academic community. It is now pervasive in the entertainment industry,
and it threatens to control literally every aspect of our lives.
Those who came up with Political Correctness, which
we more accurately call "Cultural Marxism," did so in a deliberate fashion.
I’m not going to go into the whole history of the Frankfurt School and
Herbert Marcuse and the other people responsible for this. Suffice it to
say that the United States is very close to becoming a state totally dominated
by an alien ideology, an ideology bitterly hostile to Western culture.
Even now, for the first time in their lives, people have to be afraid of
what they say. This has never been true in the history of our country.
Yet today, if you say the "wrong thing," you suddenly have legal problems,
political problems, you might even lose your job or be expelled from college.
Certain topics are forbidden. You can’t approach the truth about a lot
of different subjects. If you do, you are immediately branded as "racist,"
"sexist," "homophobic," "insensitive," or "judgmental."
Cultural Marxism is succeeding in its war against
our culture. The question becomes, if we are unable to escape the cultural
disintegration that is gripping society, then what hope can we have? Let
me be perfectly frank about it. If there really were a moral majority out
there, Bill Clinton would have been driven out of office months ago. It
is not only the lack of political will on the part of Republicans, although
that is part of the problem. More powerful is the fact that what Americans
would have found absolutely intolerable only a few years ago, a majority
now not only tolerates but celebrates. Americans have adopted, in large
measure, the MTV culture that we so valiantly opposed just a few years
ago, and it has permeated the thinking of all but those who have separated
themselves from the contemporary culture.
If in Washington State and Colorado, after we have
spent years talking about partial birth abortion, we can’t by referendum
pass a ban on it, we have to face some unpleasant facts. I no longer believe
that there is a moral majority. I do not believe that a majority of Americans
actually shares our values.
So, I have contemplated the question of what we should
do. If you saw my predictions on the elections, you know that my views
are far from infallible. Therefore, I do not represent this as any sort
of final truth. It is merely my deduction based on a number of observations
and a good deal of soul-searching.
I believe that we probably have lost the culture
war. That doesn’t mean the war is not going to continue, and that it isn’t
going to be fought on other fronts. But in terms of society in general,
we have lost. This is why, even when we win in politics, our victories
fail to translate into the kind of policies we believe are important.
Therefore, what seems to me a legitimate strategy
for us to follow is to look at ways to separate ourselves from the institutions
that have been captured by the ideology of Political Correctness, or by
other enemies of our traditional culture. I would point out to you that
the word "holy" means "set apart," and that it is not against our tradition
to be, in fact, "set apart." You can look in the Old Testament, you can
look at Christian history. You will see that there were times when those
who had our beliefs were definitely in the minority and it was a band of
hardy monks who preserved the culture while the surrounding society disintegrated.
What I mean by separation is, for example, what the
homeschoolers have done. Faced with public school systems that no longer
educate but instead "condition" students with the attitudes demanded by
Political Correctness, they have seceded. They have separated themselves
from public schools and have created new institutions, new schools, in
The same thing is happening in other areas. Some
people are getting rid of their televisions. Others are setting up private
courts, where they can hope to find justice instead of ideology and greed.
I think that we have to look at a whole series of
possibilities for bypassing the institutions that are controlled by the
enemy. If we expend our energies on fighting on the "turf" they already
control, we will probably not accomplish what we hope, and we may spend
ourselves to the point of exhaustion. The promising thing about a strategy
of separation is that it has more to do with who we are, and what we become,
than it does with what the other side is doing and what we are going to
do about it.
For example, the Southern Baptists, Dr. Dobson and
some other people started a boycott of Disney. We may regard this boycott
in two ways. We might say, "Well, look at how much higher Disney stock
is than before. The company made record profits, therefore the boycott
has failed." But the strategy I’m suggesting would see it differently.
Because of that boycott, lots of people who otherwise would have been poisoned
by the kind of viciously anti-religious, and specifically anti-Christian,
entertainment that Disney is spewing out these days have been spared contact
with it. They separated themselves from some of the cultural rot, and to
that extent we succeeded.
I am very concerned, as I go around the country and
speak and talk to young people, when I find how much of the decadent culture
they have absorbed without even understanding that they are a part of it.
And while I’m not suggesting that we all become Amish or move to Idaho,
I do think that we have to look at what we can do to separate ourselves
from this hostile culture. What steps can we take to make sure that we
and our children are not infected? We need some sort of quarantine.
It is not only political conservatives who are troubled
by the disintegration of the culture. I gave a speech not long ago in which
I was very critical of what was on television. Several people who described
themselves as liberals came up to me and said "Well, I know I don’t agree
with your politics, but you are absolutely correct on this and we don’t
allow our children to watch television any more."
Don’t be mislead by politicians who say that everything
is great, that we are on the verge of this wonderful, new era thanks to
technology or the stock market or whatever. These are lies. We are not
in the dawn of a new civilization, but the twilight of an old one. We will
be lucky if we escape with any remnants of the great Judeo-Christian civilization
that we have known down through the ages.
The radicals of the 1960s had three slogans: turn
on, tune in, drop out. I suggest that we adopt a modified version. First,
turn off. Turn off the television and video games and some of the garbage
that’s on the computers. Turn off the means by which you and your family
are being infected with cultural decadence.
Tune out. Create a little stillness. I was very struck
by the fact that when I traveled in the former Soviet Union, I couldn’t
go to a restaurant or any place else without hearing this incessant Western
rock music pounding away. There was no escape from it. No wonder some Russians
are anti-American. When they think of the United States, they think of
the culture that we exported to them.
Finally, we need to drop out of this culture, and
find places, even if it is where we physically are right now, where we
can live godly, righteous and sober lives.
Again, I don’t have all the answers or even all the
questions. But I know that what we have been doing for thirty years hasn’t
worked, that while we have been fighting and winning in politics, our culture
has decayed into something approaching barbarism. We need to take another
tack, find a different strategy. If you agree, and are willing to help
wrestle with what that strategy should be, let me know. If enough people
are willing to do something different, we will call a roundtable meeting
here at Free Congress this year to discuss it. I hope I will see you there.
Paul M. Weyrich
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