The fact that genocidal Nazism had arisen in Germany, the very heartland of high European culture, dealt a shattering blow to the West’s conception of itself as enlightened. At the same time, Britain became demoralised as a result of its post-war bankruptcy and loss of empire.Go to the link for the whole thing, which is excerpted from a longer (paid access) piece in The Times.
Such fundamental loss of self-belief made the West vulnerable to the idea spread by Marxist intellectuals that it was rotten at its core. A new culture was planned that would eradicate division, bigotry and war.
The ideas at the heart of this can be traced back to the 17th century Enlightenment and its great fallacy: the worship of reason that certain powerful European thinkers of the time placed in opposition to Christianity.
Today’s most influential secularists are squarely in that tradition. ...
We need nothing less than a new Enlightenment which conserves and builds rather than destroys.
I won't get into the whole "good Enlightenment / bad Enlightenment" debate that is being argued by people much smarter and more knowledgeable than I am, but I do think this piece nails the central weakness of contemporary Western society: a loss of core values, and a self-destructive fear of making any intellectual or moral judgements at all.
Related: Here is Joseph Loconte on the need for a revival of Lockean Liberalism.
Locke’s critics have blinded themselves to the bracing nature of his democratic vision: “But those whose doctrine is peaceable, and whose manners are pure and blameless, ought to be upon equal terms with their fellow-subjects.” Here is the only tenable solution to the challenge of religious diversity: equal justice under the law for people of all faith traditions.
No political doctrine has been more integral to the success of the United States, for no nation has been so determined to regard religious pluralism as a source of cultural strength. America’s experiment in human liberty and equality is profoundly Lockean. It is also, in some important respects, deeply Christian. Locke believed that the gospel message of divine mercy — intended for all — implied political liberalism. The founder of Christianity, he wrote, “opened the kingdom of heaven to all equally, who believed in him, without any the least distinction of nation, blood, profession, or religion.”