The Twilight of the USA and the Way Forward

The summer sun is fading as the year grows old,
And darker days are drawing near,
The winter winds will be much colder,
Now you’re not 
here…

It’s mid-September, and the sun already seems to be setting lower in a sky of lengthening shadows.  The temperatures have noticeably dropped off.  Autumn, such as it is in this part of the country, appears to already have begun settling in, like an early and unexpected guest.

I was walking along a sidewalk in my neighborhood a few nights ago.  During the summer months, I often stop by a large fig tree whose thick branches hang over a neighbor’s fence and pick a few of the sweet figs. 

It’s September, though, and the figs have already passed on. 

As I pass by the familiar branches, I reach out and feel the coarseness of the dark green leaves, and I happen to find one remaining fig, lonely and small and hard.  The last one?  It snaps off without my exerting any pressure and I walk on.

Summer’s gone.  It came and went so quickly.  What had been a regular evening ritual seems somehow sad and final. 

I’ve been feeling a lot like that lately, but I can usually shake it off and go about the daily business of life that continues, unconcerned, amid what seems to me like a nightmare, an episode of one of those old TV shows like The Twilight Zone.  Part of me keeps expecting to wake up and find it was all something that sprang out of a shadowy corner of my mind.

But it’s real and there is no going back on it.

Remembrance of things past

I leave the fig tree behind, turn the corner, and finish my walk, then climb the stairs to my home office. 

I’ve been cleaning up, re-arranging things, sorting through old pictures, some of which I want to frame and place on the walls of a hopefully soon-to-be orderly space.

One of them is a family portrait, a picture I particularly cherish.  Dating from about 1964, it’s strangely akin to a time capsule in itself.  It seems much older than that.

First is the sepia tone of the portrait, like an old 19th century picture. Then there is that serious quality about the looks on our faces that seems itself a rejection of the more recent insistence that everyone crack a wide, false, and servile smile at every opportunity.  The only color is at the margins.  My father’s blue eyes.  My mother’s lipstick.  The light tone of my little brother’s hair.

The world I knew then, and recall with such fondness, is irretrievably gone.  My neighborhood and the surrounding areas were like a warm cocoon, a web of interlocking relationships, of cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, neighbors, all who shared their lives with an easy working class charm.

I seem to have found myself in a weird, autumnal world, a forever autumn in which so many of us know very well what has been lost, but remain stubbornly reluctant to face that.  Ozzy and Harriet aren’t coming to save us.  They’ve been cancelled.

How to explain the sense of loss, the longing I feel to my children, now grown?  They don’t remember that world.  They can’t.  All they have is me and their mother and older relatives to counteract the propaganda they have been bombarded with, try as we might to protect them, all their lives.

My America was no hellhole of oppression. Imperfect as she was, the old America looks all the better in retrospect.   An old friend.  A reassuring elder.  Something personal and real, not an abstraction in any sense.

I miss her.

Facing a harsh reality

What’s happening right now is more terrible than any imagined war of the worlds, as the battle lines are not clearly drawn, the front invisible.  It’s partly a war of people, partly a war of ideas, partly a war of information and disinformation, a strange hybrid war it is.

We’ll have to keep our heads about us.  The worst is undoubtedly yet to come.  Our enemies are planning for the disorder that will surely follow the election in November, and the resistance—the real resistance of the American remnant—has yet to fully find itself.

What to do?  All of us who are aware of the crisis and what it means are taking steps to ready ourselves, and are trying to warn others of what lies ahead. 

It seems I’ve been doing that for a long time.  The warnings have often been unwelcome.  I’ve been told, for instance, that what I’m describing is a worst case scenario.  My answer: What we are seeing now is the worst case scenario unfolding.

Old habits die hard, and the hardest habit of all has proven to be flyover country’s deep attachment to the old America, a good thing in itself that can become dangerous.  Dangerous, that is, if we fail to recognize and accept certain realities.

The rout of our civilization began a long time ago.  1914?  Earlier?  What we call “the 60s” was but one phase in a longer crisis that has not yet played itself out, but may be reaching its culmination.  The reluctance to acknowledge that the old America is gone, along with the cultural norms we took for granted, has become a weight we can no longer bear.  We have to rid ourselves of such illusions in order to see clearly what we are faced with, and then, attempt to formulate a strategy to fight back. 

This is far from the counsel of despair, but is, rather, a necessary prerequisite to building something new that can realistically serve the interests of our people.  The American core, Middle Americans, Legacy Americans, Heritage Americans, whichever of those we may finally settle on as a name for ourselves, existed prior to the Constitution, now largely ignored, or the United States of America, and it can survive the decline of both of them.  

What we can hope for is the eventual gelling of a currently inchoate Middle American resistance, opening the door for an authentic right to replace the false one that misled us for so long.  And that will mean scrapping the entire edifice of “conservative” boilerplate, and engaging in a re-evaluation of what and who we are, where we came from, and what we stand for.

To hell with the “new normal”

The “new normal” of riots (AKA “mostly peaceful protests”) protected and encouraged by state officials, school and church shootings, government imposed lockdowns, sexual license and perversity, the weird transvaluation of all values—patriotism is bad, loyalty a curse, attachment something to be jettisoned—and the disorienting fragmentation, the loss of decent manners, the slovenly disregard of any sense of decorum, are dreadful phenomena we all take for granted now.  We pretend that it’s all somewhere out there, but not here and now.  That’s how the nihilists win.

To hell with all of it.

I can try and explain that to my young relations, and will, however much an uphill climb it may be.  Correcting the distorted view of “history” taught by the “educators” of Year Zero is a good beginning. Then maybe we begin explaining some things that once didn’t need explaining—like the differences between the sexes (spare me the “gender” thing), or that you can have absolute equality or you can have freedom, but you can’t have both, or that our people are a nation like any other, not simply placeholders in an “experiment.”

My grown children, and lots of others besides, don’t have long to get ready. 

The answers to the questions of who we are, what the stakes are, and whose side one is on are unfolding on our streets right now.  I fully expect the presidential election to disintegrate into chaos.  The enemies of “deplorable” Middle Americans are even now preparing to take measures to win come what may, even to stage a coup.

As Trotsky once supposedly said, you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you. 

Wayne Allensworth is a Corresponding Editor of Chronicles magazine. He is the author of The Russian Question: Nationalism, Modernization, and Post-Communist Russia, and a novel, Field of Blood.

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