The Culture War:
Have We Entered a New Phase?
William Adair Bonner
William Adair Bonner, Esquire, practices law in suburban Philadelphia. He is an Allied Attorney with Alliance Defending Freedom, and he is former Northeastern Regional Director for The Rutherford Institute. He hosts a weekly radio program entitled “It’s Your Law, Legal Intelligence for Civic Engagement,” on WVCH 740 on the AM dial.
America is beset by ideological agendas and controversies that make the former political fighting between Democrats and Republicans seem tame in comparison. Understanding politics today requires far greater study and investigation than in the past decades, and also requires a willingness to evaluate matters, events, and agendas that have never been so complex and challenging to grasp. This is because old certainties, and established and customary principles of our democratic republic, are so severely undermined.
Professor James Davison Hunter, in his 1991 book Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America, described life in the early ’90s in terms of “political and social hostility rooted in different systems of moral understanding.” He raised our consciousness to the fact that the centuries-old acceptance of moral truth as universal, permanent, and divinely revealed was challenged by liberal and progressive ideologies which were evolutionary and contextualized in secular society. After the Vietnam War, generations of old truths about the character and nature of America came under intensifying attack, accompanied by assaults from different segments of society. that attempted to capture political power.
Since American liberalism and progressivism is, according to many scholars, intellectually exhausted from a lack of sound academic and economic foundations, many have raised the question whether these political agendas will now implode, or whether they will radicalize. It would appear presently that radicalization is predominant.
The “Great Reset” is a concept originating with Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, which meets in Davos, Switzerland. The Forum’s website declares: “In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”
The aims of American liberalism and progressivism are in a late phase of development. Many of the Democrats social agendas were enacted in the crisis of the economic disaster of the 1930s. In a time of mass unemployment, modern liberalism responded by throwing-much needed money into the hands of citizens through employment in public works projects. The problem is that these giveaways have never ceased. They have grown larger and larger, and a huge portion of the government’s budget is based on entitlement spending, and requires the continuing expansion of the public debt. Making new law provides the ultimate end-game solution, since Congress is able to enact annual legislation permitting the raising of the debt limit. While the country might not collapse, both present and future citizens must inevitably become captives enslaved to the tax system.
The political term “The Great Reset,” the theme of the World Economic Form meeting in June 2020 in Davos, Switzerland, is a deceptive label applied to the reality that the same old liberal policies are finally hitting the wall and, in coded terms, something must be done to protect the global system and the wealth of those qualified to gain entrance to the annual meetings in Davos. You will hear reference to ESG metrics (meaning “environmental, social, governance” metrics) in the media, but their implementation will be profoundly more difficult in America than in many of our competitors like China and India. According to Justin Haskins, Editorial Director and Research Fellow at the Heartland Institute, author of Socialism is Evil: The Moral Case Against Marx’s Radical Dream:
“The framework of the plan is clear: by combining many of the money-printing strategies endorsed by Modern Monetary Theory economists with global Green New Deal-like policies and corporate cronyism, the elites at the World Economic Forum can effectively control economic activity on a scale that has never been achieved.”
The extraordinary hatred of President Trump expressed in the media has actually been in response to his America First policy, which stood firmly against the political agenda for global governance through economic controls.
We have yet to see whether President Biden’s proposed $4 billion income tax increase will create massive political backlash during the next midterm elections, or whether federalization of election law under HR-1 will gut two-party competition. As President Biden stated at his first press conference on March 25, “I have no idea if there will be a Republican Party. Do you?” One-party rule, so dominant globally, would be the ultimate outcome of the acquiescence of Americans to cultural Marxism in America.
The role of the law in carrying out this new politics is central. The rule of law in previous generations was rooted in experience, precedent, and gradual change in response to the will of the people expressed in their voting results. However, the election of 2020 has produced alarming evidence that causes countless highly trained security experts to cast profound doubt upon the integrity of the voting process. An essential failure of the 2020 election was the refusal of the judiciary to hear arguments on the evidence, as they disclaimed responsibility under a longstanding practice of seeking to avoid adjudicating political questions.
There are new economic and political pressures. Environmentalism focuses on American sacrifice, but demands little from the world’s greatest polluters, and it is promoted by the educators. At the same time, Marxist, Critical Race Theory inaccurately addresses how to strengthen race relations and effectively solve the disparities of income and opportunity in our society. Many leftists now admire billionaires with previously unimagined concentrations of wealth because their money supports the Left’s attainment of political power.
The most destructive agenda to the fabric of society is, however, the blatant effort to define a segment of society as having acquired “enlightenment” or clear understanding about all the complex issues besetting our lives today. These high priests of understanding are those who are “Woke.” Mere virtue signaling is not enough for its adherents. Contrary to Christian sanctification, “Woke” theology actually preaches hostility to those who are not claiming or accepting the Woke’s views of political matters.
According to the March 31, 2021, edition of The Epoch Times, there is pending legislation amounting to $6 billion where the new rule of law will “supercharge civics education” with Woke-friendly curriculum to provide revisionist history and civics from the perspective of the dominant agendas of the current federal government.
When talking about the rule of law in 2021, it is difficult not to be alarmed that America has, with the election of 2020, entered into an entirely new phase of its legal history. The processes of the judicial system are slow-moving and driven by technical decisions, while at the same time today the legislative branch appears crippled by gridlock and by an absence of statesmanship. Government by executive order at the federal and state level appears to have rushed in to fill a power vacuum left by the other branches. Executive orders create expansive new areas of total chaos. For example, the current illegal migration of massive numbers of people into the United States creates immediate social problems for which we have made no preparation.
The February edition of Imprimis, published by Hillsdale College, contains an article by Senior Fellow Scott W. Atlas of the Hoover Institution, entitled “Science, Politics, and COVID: Will Truth Prevail?”
Professor Atlas states:
“First, I have been shocked at the unprecedented exertion of power by the government since last March (2020) — issuing unilateral decrees ordering the closure of businesses, churches and schools, restricting personal movement, mandating behavior, and suspending indefinitely basic freedoms.”
“Second, I was and remain stunned — almost frightened — at the acquiescence of the American people to such destructive, arbitrary, and wholly unscientific rules, restrictions, and mandates.”
While these two assertions from Professor Atlas may simply speak the obvious, the implication of bigger and greatly more empowered government rulings over a society with a largely passive citizenry is and should be considered “frightening,” as Dr. Atlas states. Contemporary censorship dressed up as “political correctness” and “cancel culture,” as well as antagonism to the expression of contrary opinions and open hostility to religious values, are the first and most profound impediments to a return to normalcy.
The overarching question is whether America’s rule of law will rebalance and return to its prior state or, alternatively, whether so much chaos and disorder has been imposed upon citizens that they will find it even more threatening to assert their civil rights in the exercise of individual freedom and liberty.
The answer does not lie simply in our relationship to government. Rather, in the brave new world of 2021, citizens are assaulted by political and ideological forces outside and inside government which enforce censorship, political correctness, cancel culture, conformity, and acquiescence to the most aggressive forces seeking to dominate society. [These intimidating forces include Cultural Marxism and Marxist Critical Race Theory; Anti-Americanism; the drive for one-party national rule; and for global governance, socialism, open hostility to academic freedom, and unabashed hostility to religious values and the traditional family.
My earliest awakening to what has now become the American legal- and social-culture war was upon my discovery of the book by psychiatrist Carl Menninger entitled Whatever Became of Sin? This classic book, published in 1973, documented how the reference to and consideration of sin was passing out of our very language. The developing social sciences were providing a social-science explanation for behavior, concurrently suppressing any reference to the role of theology in guiding our personal conduct. Many forces participate in taking Americans off course as a religious people.
We must accurately understand our enemies’ goals and methods. We should also observe that those they seek to influence and educate are simply misinformed or deceived. Engagement with society, or with our families, will present significant challenges and risks. It remains our responsibility to act, be necessarily informed, and prepared to speak the truth with love.