Whoever argues for a restoration of values is sooner or later met with the objection that one cannot return, or as the phrase is likely to be, ‘you can’t turn the clock back.’ By thus assuming that we are prisoners of the moment, the objection well reveals the philosophic position of modernism.

Richard M. Weaver

Richard M. Weaver was born on March 3, 1910 and died on April 1, 1963. He was a scholar and author whose work remains relevant today. Had he lived to the end of the Cold War, he would not have congratulated America on its supposed victory. Communism, he knew, was part of a deeper problem; that is, a philosophical and moral problem. The West was sliding into decadence. It was spiritually disintegrating. “Every man participating in a culture has three levels of conscious reflection,” noted Weaver: “his specific ideas about things, his general beliefs or convictions, and his metaphysical dream of the world.”

Western man has lost his metaphysical dream of the world. According to Weaver, our intuitive feeling about the nature of reality is the key. As he explained, “this is the sanction to which both ideas and beliefs are ultimately referred to for verification.” And as we are about to find out in the midst of a disputed election, “Without [this] metaphysical dream it is impossible to think of men living together harmoniously over an extent of time.” The dream binds us into a spiritual community. It orients us to the world and each other. But now, as recent events indicate, there is no “metaphysical dream of the world.” There appears in its place the serial stupidities of ideology.

I am, of course, drawing quotes from a disturbing little book, written by Weaver in 1948, titled Ideas Have Consequences. The book offers dark prophecies supported by metaphysical arguments (like the one above). The West, Weaver predicted, would attempt to win the Cold War by living more comfortably than the East. The communists, he noted, believe in struggle. Therefore, Weaver hinted, communism was likely to prevail. All our economic and technological advantages would prove irrelevant in stopping communism. In fact, these advantages would bind us in a cocoon of illusion.

Even those conservatives who praise Weaver today, who echo many of his insights, are bound by this cocoon of illusion. For example, Roger Kimball’s foreword to the new expanded edition of Weaver’s book is a case in point. While praising Weaver as one of our “half-forgotten conservative sages,” Kimball remains evasively dubious with regard to Weaver’s anti-modernism. Weaver, after all, held that equality between the sexes was “decadent.” He thought modern technology was stupefying and degrading. Kimball dares not affirm these points. He does not think, as Weaver, that modernity is damned. Science, says Kimball, has shaped our world. Kimball then asks: Is it not hubris, on Weaver’s part, to “think we could dispense with that world in an effort to live ‘strenuously, or romantically’?”

But Weaver is not arguing that we should “dispense with that world.” He is saying that world will dispense with itself. Ideas, after all, have consequences. Therefore, Kimball misses the point of Weaver’s disturbing little book. Modernity’s “spiritual disintegration” is not occurring in some remote madhouse. It is all around us, in politics and the marketplace. It permeates everything and its destructive effects are inescapable. Weaver says that a decadent civilization may appear to prosper, but we shouldn’t be fooled by appearances. Civilization is going away.

Weaver knows that modernity is going to implode. We are going to be forced to live strenuously whether we want to or not. It is not a question of volunteering to give up our distracting technologies, our decadence, and the comfortable lies that rule over us. In the long run, we will have no choice. We will have to give it up.

At the same time, no political program could have arrested the moral and cultural decline of the last seven decades. Ours is a culture that denies its decadence. Look at the chicanery on every side. For every problem we have a false solution. Stewed in lies as we are, the rule of law is breaking down. We are now passing from an era of prosperity based on borrowed money to an era of outright spoliation.

Weaver’s little book is disturbing because he knew all this was coming. He foresaw that all our pundits, our political fixit men, would be deadenders. We lack the grit to confront our problems. Inevitably, however, our problems will force us back to the truth. Weaver knew that a culture built on false notions must collapse. After all, we have been organizing our own collapse for many years. Yet, even so, there will be survivors. There will be a future. And in that future, men will live more strenuously.

It is odd, is it not, that those who deny the permanent things – who deny the primacy of spirit – should imagine that the world of science and technology is permanent. But nothing here, in the material world, is permanent. And as modernity is based on the most material of all material conceptions of existence, it is the least permanent thing of all. To say, as Kimball does, that Weaver’s imagined world is “an uninhabitable domicile” is therefore an odd inversion; for Kimball’s “world shaped by science” is a runaway train, going faster and faster – either jumping the tracks or smashing up at the end of the line.  

Weaver introduces Ideas of Have Consequences with the following sentence: “This is another book about the dissolution of the West.” We are inclined to pass over the word “dissolution” because we don’t want to go there. We cannot imagine that this world of ours, “made by science” as Kimball says, is doomed to fail. We believe too fondly in modern man’s “successes.” Yet a spiritual collapse has already occurred. We are already going backward, blunder by blunder – and we are likely to go all the way back to the Middle Ages if not to the Dark Ages.   

Why are we going back? Because civilization is an ethical proposition and moral nihilism has overtaken us. Our problem, says Weaver “is getting men to distinguish between better and worse.” This is not a problem we can solve with smartphones. We cannot fix it through social media. These technologies would hardly impress Weaver, who wrote, “There is ground for declaring that modern man has become a moral idiot.”

How did this come to pass? Weaver has a remarkably concise answer. Around the late fourteenth century Western Man abandoned belief in the existence of transcendentals; that is, we abandoned our belief in truth, beauty and goodness. This came about through a “seemingly innocent form of attack upon universals.” The result was a creeping subjectivism that would lead us to moral anarchy. At the same time, a process of de-spiritualization began. Finally, during the last century, man turned to politics for salvation by way of liberalism, communism and National Socialism. But there is no salvation in political ideologies.

According to Weaver, the denial of universals leads to the cult of empiricism. It leads to the denial of truth and to a general intellectual breakdown. Our intellectuals, in fact, are incredibly corrupt. Even science has been corrupted by them; for science is now the province of political hacks who do not know what the word “science” means. Worse yet, language itself has begun to break down.

“The practical result,” argued Weaver, “is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses. With this change in the affirmation of what is real, the whole orientation of culture takes a turn….” Goodbye truth, Beauty and goodness. Everything that is “higher,” everything that is noble, is debunked.

After this fashion modern man was reduced to an abysmal state. And that is where we are today. Man craves truth, noted Weaver, yet he is told to live “experimentally” (without a moral compass). This has led us to “a long series of abdications.” Here is the acme of our decadence, attended by denials and self-congratulations — with lies on top of lies. “To establish the fact of decadence,” wrote Weaver, “is the most pressing duty of our time because, until we have demonstrated that cultural decline is a historical fact … we cannot combat those who have fallen prey to hysterical optimism.”

Hysterical optimism? Do you want to convince me that things are getting better, not worse? Consider how ready we are to blot out the truth: (1) by denouncing truth as “pessimism”; or (2) by denouncing the truth as “impractical”; or (3) by dismissing the truth because it doesn’t do that kissy-kissy thing that tickles your ego.

What Weaver is saying, in the end, is that truth is our only source of salvation, though we are ready to revolt against it. The most important truths come as warnings. “It is when the first faint warnings come that one has the best chance to save himself,” noted Weaver. If we miss the chance then presented, our self-imposed blindness will paralyze us. “Thus in the face of the enormous brutality of our age we [will] seem unable to make appropriate response to perversions of truth and acts of bestiality.”

Look at what is happening in our country. We have seen illegalities ignored, lies embraced as truth, criminals rewarded and the righteous denounced. An election has been stolen. The Constitution is no longer the Supreme Law of the Land. Civilization, noted Weaver, “has been an intermittent phenomenon; to this truth we have allowed ourselves to be blinded by the insolence of material success.”

Weaver’s disturbing little book can be read in a few hours. It offers us a more realistic glimpse at our situation. It challenges our false optimism. It points to our philosophical mistakes. Here is an intellectual corrective. Here is medicine for the soul. Here is clarity.

28 thoughts on “A Disturbing Little Book

    1. It is a very good audio book. I first read the book thirty years ago and bought the audio version last month and have listened to it five times.

    2. AMBGUN, I’m looking at Amazon and I don’t see it free for Prime members. I see that it’s free with an Audible trial. Is that what you mean?

  1. It reduces to a sin problem, which is the obvious conclusion to be drawn from this article.

    Man prefers comforting lies to unpleasant truths because he loves sin. This is why man replaced God’s Bible with Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, divesting himself of the Moral Absolute and “freeing” himself to follow the Satanic doctrine of “Do what thou wilt, shall be the whole of the law”.

    So, no Moral Absolute in the West has led to decadence and distraction from what would otherwise be a very clear danger. I only hope that the Lord in His wrath will remember mercy and that where sins abounds, grace doth much more abound, because only He can rescue the situation now.

    1. Jay, did you happen to catch any of the hearing today in Gettysburg? Senator Marciano’s words at the end were so incredible! They really encouraged my heart. His bio is amazing, too! US Army Colonel, retired, he has four master’s degrees, which include: Military Operations, Strategic Intelligence, Airpower and Strategy.

      Forward to the 3:40 mark and listen to his closing remarks:

      1. No, never saw it, but Mastriano spoke very well. America is the last hope for liberty in the world; I’m a Brit but our country is gone. My biggest regret is not moving there to be among conservative people, when I was younger and had the chance.

    2. The 10 Commandments and 2,500 years of Western Civilization was replaced in the 1960s with “…if it feels good, do it…”
      Too many bought into that simpleton thought, and now we are on the brink of the abyss.
      Will Durant once said, “A nation is born stoic, and dies epicurean”. I would say that we are in our 6th decade of epicureanism, and are now ready for the slaughter.
      Another will Durant quote, I think sums up our situation only to well:
      “The greatest question of our time is not communism vs. individualism, not Europe vs. America, not even the East vs. the West; it is whether men can bear to live without God.”
      I believe the answer is, no we cannot bear to live without God, as it leaves us with only Communism and slavery, which should be unacceptable to anyone.

  2. Once they make you wear a mask, there will be no end to the virus. Until people reopen their small businesses, they will never be allowed to. We started out afraid of the virus – now we’re afraid of the police. Give me Liberty or give me death

    1. CD: the fear was directly exported from China upon a fearful western world. would think that the CCP could use fear as an assymetrical weapon. it costs very little, a few hundred chinese TV actors and videos snippets, a few leaked videos and cooperative communists to spread lies, exaggerations and fear. CCP analysts who know America and the west know that we are very prone to fear since 911 because A) we have been bathed in fear constantly by our media and academia over the last 10-20 years; B) as a nation we do not know how to handle the removal of good times and having to deal with uncertainity for longer and longer amounts of time.

  3. Donald Trump’s words in Pennsylvania today were inspiring to me: “Don’t be intimidated by these people. They don’t love our country!”. I am Canadian and two of my ancestors fought in your revolution for the British. I feel like I love America more than many Americans! We have been told to hate ourselves for so long in the west. Don’t give up! Hopefully the lawsuits being launched in the next few days will bring the truth to light. I suspect the truth will take on a life of it’s own once it is set free.

  4. Men cannot distinguish between better and worse because men deny that there is a better and a worse. Before the moral problem there is the metaphysical problem. My sex, for example, is a mental construct that has no objective reality but merely inheres in my preferences.

    As for truth, beauty, and goodness, I’m afraid that they have been hijacked, becoming a mantra embraced as a form of virtue signalling in certain quarters where self-appointed meritocrats have arrogated to themselves the task of “elevating” humanity. Statecraft as soulcraft, to quote the title of a recent publication. All of it having more than a whiff of social engineering for “the common good.”

    Before ideals, a people needs principles. Before aspirations to truth, beauty and goodness, men need courage.

  5. One Sage’s explanation of what the writer of Hebrews called “the deceitfulness of sin”, where sin is not simply individual acts of a particular person, but rather the nature of Sin itself as it sets itself up against God and permeates the entire world and all cultures with it. cf. Hebrews 3:12-13. My old pastor of long ago had a colorful way of saying it; “whatever God does not weave into the warp and woof of the soul of the culture will be completely shaken out.” This is also what the Apostle John warned when he said, “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” 1John 5:21. NASB

    Mr. Jeff Nyquist is a rare find among moderns. I am regularly astounded by the breadth of reading he has done; and can recall so much of it in a meaningful way.

    Is there any way I can be alerted to a schedule of interviews he might have? I would love to be able to listen and watch any interviews he makes.
    Kind regards,

    1. I’ve been reading Jeff’s work since his much earlier website when it had a discussion forum as well (he had to shut the forum down because of loony leftist wacko trolls), and I have as yet to see anything that was not worth the time to read.

      Jeff is good about keeping his readers informed about interviews and either embeds them as he did on another post, or gives a link to the interview.

  6. “Weaver, after all, held that equality between the sexes was “decadent.””

    The Christian Jesus holds them equal (in Christ there is no male or female); but they have different parts in the play. Men represent Christ, while women represent the church. An important difference.

    The root of our American problem is that we have abandoned God. Fix this and the rest will follow.

    1. Lori: yes, that is mostly correct but the church has been praying for revival for decades but no fruit to build on. The repentance has been small and local–I think it seems like the Lord has been seeking something like a national sense of sobreity and seriousness over our fate. We are there.

      The church has seen the potential by being taken to the edge of the abyss to wake up the church to the imminent end of American liberty and thus the loss of real and substantial freedoms for Christians and the church. if America can survive this test of its resolve, its essential that we must take the take the kingdom of Christ to our workplace and neighbors, family and friends. its going to be painful but this is the only way to bring America back from the brink of communism and even then it still might take patriots doing what Alexander Hamilton instructed us about the tree of liberty to deliver us from this peril.

      1. It’s interesting what you wrote, given what some commentators in previous centuries said about the coming Kingdom of Heaven on earth, and what may be its relationship to America, which I’ll come to below.

        To begin with, however, John Gill (who was pastor at C.H. Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle in London in the 1700s) suggested, in his verse-by-verse commentary on Revelation, that the restoration of Christ’s two witnesses would begin in the UK, a view shared in the next century by Alexander Hislop in The Red Republic, although both writers thought the time for that to happen was much closer to their era than history now shows possible. Both authors invoked what was, in their time, the relatively high degree of affection for the Gospel in the UK compared to the other nations as a reason and Hislop also produced biblical arguments for the UK as recovery point from the strength of its navy, which up until WW2, remained the world’s largest.

        However, it is plain that only America today possesses a relatively large volume of godly conservative people and, incidentally, is the world’s pre-eminent naval power (if indeed that is demonstrably relevant), and further, on account of its sheer size, might also fit the “broad place” reference to the two witnesses’ recovery in Revelation 11. If I am right in this line of thought, then America must be the cradle of the coming Golden Age and thus a prime target for Satanic attack now, including a war against its white, Anglo, Christian males.

        It’s a difficult subject and one I’m only starting to get to grips with, but in the meantime Christians everywhere must continue to witness against the national sins while we’re still at liberty to do so, but also warn against Satan’s instruments of war against us, including this great, resurgent Marxist assault.

  7. Jeff, not sure if you can comment, here is a recent video from Professor Valentina Zharkova of the University of Northumbria where she talks about the Grand Solar Minimum, she is saying Solar Cycle 25 will be weaker than Solar Cycle 24. She is also confirming that the Jet Stream in the Northern and Southern Hemisphere has become erratic and she is warning that it could be a repeat of the Maunder Minimum:

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