The brilliant Mark Steyn – author, columnist, pundit, radio and TV fill-in host, humorist, musicologist, and the world’s most-read conservative Canadian citizen – understands the way the world works. In a recent National Review back-page “Happy Warrior” column, Steyn uses the venerable far-left folk musician Pete Seeger’s recent repudiation of his former hero, Joseph Stalin, to expose a universal truth:
Explaining how Stalin had “put an end to the dreams” of a Communist utopia, Seeger told Ron Radosh that he’d underestimated “how the majority of the human race has faith in violence.” But that isn’t true, is it? Very few of us are violent. Those who order the killings are few in number, and those who carry them out aren’t significantly numerous. But those willing to string along and those too fainthearted to object and those who just want to keep their heads down and wait for things to blow over are numbered in the millions. And so are those many miles away in the plump prosperous Western democracies who don’t see why this or that dictator is their problem. One can perhaps understand the great shrug of indifference to distant monsters. It’s harder, though, to forgive the contemporary urge to celebrate it as a form of “idealism.”
Yes, this pretty much jives with my view of the world – throughout most of history in most places, the most amoral, egotistical, uninhibited, and psychopathological rise to the top. This tiny group of thugs reach the highest levels of power by coming to the understanding that the vast majority of their countrymen will sit idly by in fear, or actively enable out of self-preservation. It was only through the impetus of Judeo-Christian monotheism – which taught the world that fighting against injustice and oppression in the name of a higher, unknowable power, is our moral duty – that the world was able to break the cycle of psychosis, and create civil societies in at least part of the world, for at least some period of time.
Steyn’s observation leads to both optimism and despair: hope, because the tiny speck of humanity that creates most of the violence could, if confronted and not appeased, be easily dealt with; despair, because the natural inclination of men not influenced by traditional Judeo-Christian morality is to satisfice away all thoughts of resistance. And, as traditional Judeo-Christian morality dwindles in influence, especially amongst the West’s educated elite, the thugs will simply press further and further ahead in their ego-driven quests to satisfy their unquenchable thirsts.