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Decadence and transcendence of democratic politics



Ballot box, symbol of elections. The Texas voter ID law will stop people from stuffing this, and hopefully other kinds of voter fraud. If Donald Trump doesn't insist on this kind of backup, he'll likely lose the election.

Ross Douthat calls the rise of Donald Trump as a “Revolt against Decadence”; the decadence magnified by post-American President Barack Obama (Jerusalem Post, February 3, 2016).

Decadence in America and Israel

Decadence is also evident in post-Zionist Israel. This decadence was made official in the Oslo or Israel-PLO Agreement of 1993, and it has been sanctified by the politically decadent Government of Benjamin Netanyahu who, in effect, genuflects to Saint Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

Netanyahu thereby facilitated the mission of Pope Francis, who genuflected, as it were, to Abbas, the respected leader of Muslim terrorists. Indeed, by so doing, the Pope, justified Barack Obama’s refusal to apply the term “Islamic terrorism” to describe the vile acts perpetrated hither and yon by the present-day disciples of Muhammad.

Pardon my use of provocative language vis-à-vis the unholy alliance between the Palestinian Authority and the Vatican. It helps convey the moral sensibilities that have made Sir Donald Trump the band leader of American presidential politics.

You may conclude that the world is going to hell, but this indicates that things can only get better, and that perhaps saint Donald will make America great again. As for the Vatican…, let others address this delicate matter.

Returning to Ross Douthat’s timely article, the decadence that has propelled Donald Trump to the top of American politics may signify the end of democratic politics, which has become nothing more than media events conducted by half-educated journalists, the 24/7 opinion makers that have replaced the statesmen who once quoted Shakespeare and the Bible.

This decadence is manifested at all levels of education in the West. It is all the more appalling when you consider that the elimination of this pedagogy is necessary for the preservation of Western civilization, or of what’s left of it, and this is beyond the purview of democratic politics. Allow me to recall a prediction of the great French novelist Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880):

The world of today and existence in general weigh heavily and horribly on my shoulders. I am so disgusted with everything… It is a world in itself, the world as it exists in the dreams of radical democrats, and as I shall never live to see it, thank God. The things that will hold the center of the stage during the next two or three hundred years are enough to make a man of taste vomit.

A remedy?

The Ramchal might point the way out of the decadence overtaking America and Israel both.

Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, the Ramchal. Wall painting discovered in Akko (Acre), Israel. Artist: unknown. Faithful photograph by User Yuval Y on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License

As I look back on history, however, I see a theoretical remedy, a revival of Hebraic civilization with the cooperation of Christian Hebraists. A clue to this appears in Deuteronomy 4:6, which indicates that mankind will eventually perceive that science, the modern paradigm of truth, is hidden in the Torah. Mankind will then acknowledge the verse in Deuteronomy, “This great nation [Israel] is surely a wise and understanding people.”

The clue is in the words I have underscored. In Hebrew, the former signifies received knowledge, i.e., Torah. The latter signifies knowledge produced by the application of logical reasoning to empirical facts, i.e., science. Their convergence has been occurring in recent decades, and has prompted some astrophysicists to consult rabbis!

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