From the Establishment, a news flash. The greatest threat today, writes Andrew A. Michta, dean of the College of International and Security Studies at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, is “the self-induced deconstruction of the West.”
In a complementary column headlined “The Crisis of Western Civ,” the New York Times‘ David Brooks identifies the driver of self-deconstruction thus: “Starting decades ago, many people, especially in the universities, lost faith in the Western civilization narrative. They stopped teaching it, and the great cultural transmission belt broke.”
What is immediately stunning about these observations is the implication that this breakdown all around and inside “the West” or its “narrative” was some spontaneous thing.
Brooks writes: “It’s amazing what far-reaching effects this has had. It is as if a prevailing wind, which powered all the ships at sea, had suddenly ceased to blow.”
It certainly would be amazing if what both men describe was the natural phenomenon they make it out to be. But history (not “court history”) tells us everything we need to know about exactly how this breakdown took place. For starters, there was nothing natural about it. Underway long before, for almost three-quarters of a century, Marxism-Leninism was openly at war with the West, its general staff in Moscow and other Communist capitals, its officers and foot soldiers everywhere, especially non-Communist capitals. This war was waged by veritable armies of secret Soviet police and military networks, complete with controllers, agents, agents of influence, pro-Communist “fellow travelers” and dupes, who, amid their more conventional military, diplomatic and industrial espionage, seized, occupied and also colonized vast swathes of the Western mind, some of which was already quite hospitable. Remember “boring from within”? Michta and Brooks don’t.
It turns out that one of the more brilliant communist strokes was to make Moscow’s agents of subversion disappear from collective memory. Is that what accounts for their absence in the recountings of Michta and Brooks? The latter seems unaware he has committed the perfect Leninist slip in lamenting the interrupted passage of Western ideals from one generation to the next as a breakdown in the “transmission belt” — Lenin’s name for the mechanism Bolsheviks use to convey the party line to “the masses.”
Such telltales indicate Marxism’s conquest of the West has become invisible, indeed. It is as if the colleges and universities across this nation that “won” the Cold War, for example, just automatically became outposts of Marx; “loss of faith” to follow. Remember (or, rather, don’t) what Comintern chief Georgi Dimitrov is supposed to have said: “A university professor, who, without being a party member, lends himself to the interests of the Soviet Union, is worth more than a hundred men with party cards.” Meanwhile, according to detailed, methodical state and federal investigations of the middle of the last century — all completely forgotten/dismissed — there were plenty of card-carrying Communists covertly “Bolshevizing” American classrooms and labs decades before “the 1960s” ever began. According to the mythology (fake history), the 1960s is where the Western unraveling spontaneously is supposed to have begun. This same kind of conventional wisdom has it that it is just more manifest destiny that American medicine will end up being controlled by the state.
Michta does perk up to notice “the wake of group identity politics”; also “elite narratives substituting shame for pride”; however, he sees no historical connections between ginned-up division or campaigns of demoralization and long-term communist strategy.
It’s as if one thing does not and cannot lead to another. To wit: “After decades of Gramsci’s proverbial `long march’ through the educational and cultural institutions,” Michta writes, “Western societies have been changed in ways that make social mobilization around the shared idea of a nation increasingly problematic. True, if oblique. Nonetheless, the dean concludes the resulting breakdown is “self-induced.”
There does come a time when breakdown, loss of faith and all the rest are “self-induced”; self-perpetuating, surely — when the ideological rot is systemic. We have long past this state of crisis. Now, the point of entry and the course of the disease are simply forgotten.
Then again, I do think that they and I are talking about two completely different notions of “the West” at risk.