St. Patrick’s day celebrations a threat to West
This time of year I hear an extraordinary amount of discussion about getting drunk on St. Patrick’s Day — not exactly an appropriate way to celebrate a saint’s feast.
The best way to characterize this cultural response to St. Patrick’s feast is as signifying a return to paganism — a new paganism threatening Western civilization.
When I speak of paganism I do not necessarily mean polytheism, which is the worship of many gods.
Though I am tempted to define paganism, like Hilaire Belloc, as “an absence of the Christian revelation,” a more complete description is offered by Richard M. Weaver. Weaver saw paganism as revelling in sin and, like Belloc, ignoring transcendent truths and eternity in favour of superficiality and concern only with the here-and-now.
It is easy to see how the student culture’s treatment of St. Patrick’s Day is pagan.
The culture is certainly not Christian, for commemorating a saint by getting drunk is contrary to Christian morals. It reflects more the veneration of Dionysus by the ancient Greeks with their festivals of debauchery.
The culture revels in its sins (not merely enjoying them, but celebrating them) rather than seeking virtue.
Before proceeding to explain the connection between this culture and the decline of western civilization, I clarify that I am not saying that people getting drunk on St. Patrick’s Day is the end of the West.
I am arguing that it reflects a prevailing paganism that cannot sustain a civilized society. The Dionysian celebration of St. Patrick’s Day is merely its high feast.
Paganism denies transcendental moral law in a way that is similar to ethical relativism, the belief that there are no universal or absolute moral truths; morality depends on the individual.
A public example of this relativism is when Liberal MP Justin Trudeau stood in the House of Commons last year and denied that honour killings are barbaric. He later retracted his comment but the question remains as to whether Trudeau was being momentarily moronic, or if he is a relativist opposed to absolute moral claims.
A 2008 study of American youth by sociologist Christian Smith found that many youth are relativists, thinking that the individual determines morality. Two-thirds of the subjects could not even name an actual moral dilemma they encountered.
They disturbingly deny that there is a universal moral code for us all.
A universal moral code, Edmund Burke believed, preserves order in society, since it prescribes duties that individuals have toward one another.
Without it, as Weaver diagnosed, the West has become egoistic — individuals are concerned with their own enjoyment, without any absolute obligation to anyone. The sense of entitlement inherent to egoism has become apparent in the U.S., where Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke testified to a Congressional committee that she wants Georgetown to comply with universal health care and buy contraception for students.
I believe this sense of having a right to contraception at the expense of others is not founded on reason, but an idea that we are entitled to enjoy ourselves always, regardless of others.
The St. Patrick’s Day phenomenon is similar — people want to get drunk regardless of any classes they have (in past years, it has fallen on weekdays). There is no sense of responsibility or moderation — just a self-centred pagan festival.
This egoistic hedonism has planted itself deeply into Western culture, as shown by low fertility rates. Each married couple must bear at least two children for self-sustained population growth. Western societies that have embraced contraception and abortion, viewing sex as something for individual pleasure rather than procreation, have greatly diminished fertility rates.
To save society from economic collapse (which is to be expected, since a smaller population will be supporting a larger older one), western nations must have more babies or stop caring for the elderly .
The second option is too cruel, meaning that we must have more babies, but to do that, the culture must abandon the individualistic hedonism that shows its face on St. Patrick’s Day.
In his critique of liberal modernity, After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre proposes that we need a new St. Benedict to reconstruct ethics.
Since St. Patrick brought the Gospel to pagans, I think we could use another St. Patrick as well.