Fairy tales, folk tales, legends, and ancient mythology all contain lessons for those who have ears willing to listen. Many of these lessons are warnings. Man as an individual is often inexperienced, especially while young, but humanity as a whole has been around long enough to learn a thing or two, and some of these things that our ancestors learned have been passed on to us in the form of story. The inherited wisdom of Western man can be found in these stories if one is willing to look.
One such story is that of Icarus. Icarus was the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, the man who built the Labyrinth. For helping the killer of the Minotaur, Theseus, Daedalus and his son were imprisoned by King Minos. Daedalus, being a master craftsman, fashioned two pairs of wings out of feathers and wax for himself and Icarus. Before taking flight for the island of Crete, Daedalus warned his son to fly neither too low nor too high. Icarus, so close to freedom, failed to heed his father's words, and soared too close to the sun. The heat burned away the wings, and Icarus plummeted into the sea.
The Greeks used this story to warn of excessive pride and defiance towards the Gods, a vice they called hubris, a fault they considered to be very serious. The Church Fathers likewise considered pride to be one of the seven deadly sins of mankind.
Excessive pride is a sin because it is so dangerous; believing that oneself is greater than is true will lead to downfall. Overestimating your own ability and worth leads to an inability to properly face your enemies or find your place in the world. Like Icarus, if you fly higher than you are meant to, you will fall.
The opposite of hubris is the Roman concept of pietas. Pietas is the virtue of knowing how to act properly towards the father, the children, the state, the Gods, and the fatherland. Pietas is essentially knowing one's place in the cosmic order.
This a lesson that has been completely disregarded by mainstream political discourse in the United States, on both sides of the aisle.
I know that Western civilization is great, and that it has and continues to produce much that is great. I also personally believe that Western civilization is the greatest civilization that has ever existed. It has made mistakes, and some truly astounding errors, but our accomplishments are in many aspects unrivaled.
For all this, I do no go to the same lengths as mainstream rightists and leftists do in their worship of the West.
Both sides believe that the entirety of the world not only wants to become a part of the West, but that they can do so (I'm talking here about the sincere ideologues on both sides, not cynics gaming the system). Although they might recoil at the crudeness of the statement, every conservative and liberal believes what the Colonel in Full Metal Jacket tells Private Joker: "Inside every gook is an American trying to get out"!
Despite the hatred and anger the two sides of the American polity through at each other, they are more similar than dissimilar in their ideological foundation. Both receive their basics from thinkers from the intellectual movement that called itself the Enlightenment - thinkers such as Locke. They both profess that all men are created equal, that freedom is a good in and of itself, that we ought to hold the individual as the only measure of man, and that man is a blank slate.
They have taken slightly different interpretation of this centuries-old worldview. Conservatives will tell you that the classical liberals had it right, and we ought to just cut the chains put on man and let him run wild. End the restrictions and all else will follow. Equality of opportunity is equality. The progressives will tell you that we can only free man if we overcome past injustice, and equality will only be achieved by raising up the "disadvantaged".
The issue of Black underachievement in America illustrates this well. Both agree that the White-Black gaps in educational achievement, yearly income, arrest rates etc. are not caused by any inherent differences between Whites and Blacks, despite the fact that these differences have been present for as long as we have measured them and they hold true across countries and continents. Both agree that it is simply an unjust environment that has lead to this.
To progressives, the fault is White American racism coming from conservatives, who have betrayed American (Enlightenment) values, especially equality.
To conservatives, the fault is on the progressives who have tricked their poor melanin-rich fellow citizens into welfare dependency, who have betrayed American (Enlightenment) values.
"Really, though, they're just like us, and they're in the end on our side, not theirs."
When California's Proposition 8 was put to the vote in 2008, liberals around the country were shocked when the referendum passed, in part because 70% of Blacks voted "yes". Confusion followed this result. How could it have happened? 90% of Blacks vote for the Democrats, but the vast majority of them voted against gay marriage?
Among some conservatives the cry of "LOOK! they're on our side!" went up. Blacks had "family values" (despite 75% of them growing up in single-parent households) and were on the verge of coming over to the conservative cause, according to some.
Both Democrats and Republicans revealed a rather shocking misunderstanding of Blacks and their voting patterns. Both the conservatives and progressives are half-right. The Democrats are right about the fact that Blacks aren't about to jump ship, and the Republicans are right about Blacks not really being liberals.
Blacks vote for the Democratic party out of ethnic solidarity. On the issues close to leftist hearts, Blacks are either indifferent or opposed to the agenda. Homosexual rights, tranny bathrooms, fighting Islamophobia ... ain't nobody got time for dat! The Democratic party is the party of welfare handouts, and affirmative action, so it's the closest thing to an African party they're going to get in a two-party system. The Hillary/Bernie divide that we are witnessing in the Democratic party is a revelation of the divide between the White SWPLs and non-White members of the party.
Bernie Bros have been exasperated with American Blacks for voting for Hillary instead of Bernie. "Don't they know that Hillary is corrupt and Bernie is the real progressive?", they ask. The truth is that Blacks don't care. They aren't in the party because they are ideologically liberal; most are actually fundamentally tribal rather than universal in their politics.
The conservatives likewise fail to realize that the center of Black politics is identity, and no amount of LGBT nonsense will bring Blacks into the GOP. The same can be said of Asians and Mestizos. These groups may not be ideologically liberal, but they aren't going to become fighters for the conservation of a nation that isn't theirs. The Democratic party is the party that they will use to advance their interests against ours.
Conservatives and progressives were so hubristic that they thought that liberal democracy and free markets (plus or minus limited government) was the greatest thing ever invented. Not only was this culmination of Enlightenment values that they championed the pinnacle of our civilization, it was the pinnacle of all civilizations. Their pride was so great that they declared that Western civilization's path was the only path, and that history had ended; it was only a matter of time before the rest of the world progressed to the point that we had reached. Democracy, liberty, the market—these were all universal ideas that we had discovered. They hadn't discovered one of many optional ways forward, oh no! They had discovered the only way forward. Their ideas were so great that they could and would recreate the entirety of mankind in their image. These are the types who laugh when more sober minds warn them of White displacement, because they don't believe that Whites can even be displaced.
We disregarded nature and heredity and reduced the other peoples of the planet to mere clay that we could mould into whatever we wished.
The truth is that most of the planet has taken our technical knowledge and some forms of our government, but left the ideology behind. Spengler identified civilizations as organisms, and rightly rejected the Eurocentrism that dominated the study of world history. Just as humans are shaped as much by their blood as by their circumstances, civilizations as collections of genetically similar human beings have their own internal life-force that can only be bent so far. The non-White country that has come closest to being "Westernized" in a mental rather than purely technological sense is Japan. We nuked them and occupied them for several years, forced our form of government on them, and the result 70 years on is that they are still a decidedly Eastern civilization. Our attempts to bring the West to Iraq in recent years looks laughable in hindsight, even to mainstream pundits.
This hubris that makes the Bernie Bros and the Glenn Becks believe that we are so great that we can change everything, and, more importantly, everyone, to fit into our civilization will be the end of modern liberalism, in both its "left-wing" and "right-wing" incarnations. Conservatives want America circa 1950, and progressives want to turn the entirety of America into Portland, but the reality of the ongoing replacement of the children of the West means we are going to get neither. America's future isn't Portland. America's future is Detroit and California, with all the accompanying corruption, ethnic pandering, crime rates and low trust. Enlightenment values aren't practiced by Blacks in the Congo, or by Mestizos in Mexico, and they won't be replicated by them here.
Even the Bernie supporters who cheer at the Democrat-voting Third World coming into the country are experiencing a Pyrrhic victory. The ongoing Great Replacement is going to destroy both versions of America, because neither side will admit that its values and forms of organisation aren't the revealed secrets of the universe that transcend all national, ethnic, and racial boundaries. The American Icarus flies too high, and the sun is melting the wax holding his wings together.
I chose Bruegel's Landscape with the Fall of Icarus as the painting for this article because of the unique portrayal of the mythological event. Most painters show the tragedy in a dramatic and personal fashion, either depicting Icarus after his death or mid-fall with his father reaching out to him. Bruegel's painting does not have Icarus as the focal point. Despite the tragedy of his death, the farmer ploughs his field, the ship goes on its course, and Icarus is hardly noticed. Life must go on.
Many may not be able to imagine life without McWorld, but that doesn't mean that life won't be possible without it. When the paradigm that guides events today is eroded by the pride of those who think themselves and their system invincible, history won't stop. Something new will have to emerge, and we will move past the tragicomedy of modern America's demise. Let's be there when Icarus falls.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
—Percy Shelley, Ozymandias (1818)