Last week, I shared two prescient speeches delivered at Harvard by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (in 1978) and Charlton Heston (in 1999), while America was giving birth to the millennial generation.
America was first beginning its “sliding into oblivion” with respect to an undermining of our faith and allegiance to God and country, our culture, institutions, and history. Today, let’s consider the effect on our progeny of our having ignored the words of these two modern day prophets.
I recently interviewed Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University in Atlanta, who has written two books on the millennial generation.
The first was “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future” (2008). The sequel is “The Dumbest Generation Grows Up: From Stupified Youth to Dangerous Adults” (2022). In a nutshell, everything that Solzhenitsyn and Heston warned has come to pass.
Dr. Bauerlein writes that the generation that spent their childhoods staring into a screen are lonely and purposeless, unfulfilled at work and at home. Many of them are even suicidal. They have been shielded from failure and reality.
Lacking skills, knowledge, religion and a cultural frame of reference, these aliterate millennials are anxiously looking for something to fill the void. Knowing nothing about history, they are convinced that it is merely a catalogue of oppression, inequality and hatred.
Why, they wonder, has the human race not ended all this injustice before now? And from the depths of their ignorance rises the answer: Because they are the first ones to care! All that is needed is to tear down our inherited civilization and replace it with utopian aspirations. Their mentors have failed them.
Unfortunately, they have turned to politics to plug the hole in their soul.
Rod Dreher wrote a book in 2020, “Live Not by Lies,” which closes the circle on these conversations. The title of his book is borrowed from the final message Mr. Solzhenitsyn delivered to his fellow Russians before he was exiled to the West. What did it mean to live by lies? Accepting without protest all the falsehoods and propaganda that the state compelled its citizens to affirm — or at least not oppose; which means the populace accepts powerlessness to an ideology whose entire power base is built on subjugating people to live by lies.
Mr. Dreher quotes Hannah Arendt, a scholar of totalitarianism, who describes the ideology “as one that seeks to displace all prior traditions and institutions with the goal of bringing all aspects of society under its control. A totalitarian state is one that aspires to nothing less than defining and controlling reality. Truth is whatever the rulers decide it is. Wherever it has ruled, it has begun to destroy the essence of man.”
Mr. Dreher warns us of the alarming similarities between today’s social justice warriors and the Bolsheviks in pre-revolutionary Russia.
“SJW ranks are full of middle class, secular, educated young people wracked by guilt and anxiety over their own privilege, alienated from their own traditions, and desperate to identify with something, or someone, to give them a sense of wholeness and purpose. For them, the ideology of social justice — as defined not by church teaching but by critical theorists in the academy — functions as a pseudo religion …. Unlike their Bolshevik predecessors, they don’t want to seize the means of economic production but rather the means of cultural production.
“They believe that after humanity is freed from the chains that bind us — whiteness, patriarchy, marriage, the gender binary, and so on — we will experience a radically new and improved form of life.”
In other words, the millennials are engulfed in nothing less than a religious cult disguised as a utopian political movement based on lies, just like the prophets said it would be.
Andy Caldwell is the COLAB executive director and host of “The Andy Caldwell Show,” airing 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays on KZSB AM 1290, the News-Press radio station.