The withered fir-tree which stands on the mound,
neither bark nor needles protect it;
so it is with the man whom no one loves and loves no one,
why should he live for long?
—The Poetic Edda, Havamal
I was recently reading the Poetic Edda, an ancient set of Germanic Pagan poems, and came across this stanza. It immediately struck an emotional chord with me. It’s a hauntingly beautiful description of Man, set adrift from one another, alone and without meaning in the world. The more I dwelt on the words, the more I began to reflect on them in relation to our own modern way of life. How do the words of an ancient pagan text reflect upon the state of modern human belonging?
As industrialization occurred, creating a pull factor towards the cities, and transportation opportunities took on a scale never before seen, the world has become a much smaller place than the world of our ancestors. The confluence of technological advancement and urbanization has resulted in us becoming a highly mobile people. We’ve become more and more willing to move great distances for greener economic pastures, and more willing to leave behind the places and people of our youth. This tendency towards geographical and familial displacement acts as a physical reflection of the moral and spiritual displacement many of us feel deep in our bones – we have become strangers in a familiar land. This willingness to leave behind those places, people, and communities that have shaped who we are is just one reason why I tend to think of us as the Rootless Age.
Many of the people I talk to, once we become close and move past the more superficial conversations, all seem to exhibit similar feelings. They wake up one day to find themselves afloat, being tossed to and fro, within the larger cultural and economic forces that push and pull the political tides. Those of my own age (mid 20’s) have largely never had a healthy sense of personal identity that wasn’t built on a bedrock of Consumerism and Materialism. We are largely products of Marketing and propaganda, flaunting our individualistic lifestyles while ignoring that many others also bought those same “unique” clothes, accessories, media, and personality in an attempt to assert their own “individuality”; the paradox of mass consumption-based individualism can be seen in the unintentional homogeneity of those looking for their own unique style, who then try to achieve that by shopping at places like Hot Topic. Most of us in the civilized world attach meaning to our lives via the clothes we wear, the music we listen to, the movies we like; the very way we think of our personal identity is built on a foundation of purchases. Even when we move from the physical to the ideological and spiritual, many people adopt the ready-made, state-sponsored ideology of secular Liberalism (or an even further Left stance) and then act like they’re rebelling against a tyrannical system, despite adopting the very views that tyrannical system prefers. The best way to convince someone of something is to let them think it was their idea.
Traditional forms of personal identity and community have been the target of a widespread deconstruction campaign by the Academic Left, with significant assistance by journalists and media figures who have a prescriptive, rather than descriptive, style. Religiosity in America, while being practiced at a higher rate than in Europe, is quickly dropping in adherents. Amongst those who retain their religiosity, the primacy and importance of religion in their lives and the strength of their convictions are tempered by the soft and Liberalized society in which we live. What does it mean to be a Christian in the West? A weekly showing at a church to keep up appearances, and the ability to feign imagined moral righteousness seems to be the extent to which it is practiced and lived by most. Religion has lost its luster as a force for identity, and subsequently, for building any significant number of strong communities based around it. Of course there exists exceptions to the rule, but we are speaking in generalities.
Beyond religion, Cultural Marxism and its child ideology of Feminism have moved the needle even further by working towards the deconstruction and delegitimization of fundamental aspects of not only the familial unit, but also of the self. Repeated and consistent attacks on the traditional family unit coupled with the devolution of marriage from being between a single male and female into a generic civil contract between any persons has helped to normalize dysgenic lifesttyles such as homosexuality and transgenderism (and we know the slippery slope won’t stop there, as publications like Salon are already normalizing pedophilia). Taking away the supernatural has allowed the unnatural to become more prominent. The traditional family unit holds a unique place within the world; it is considered by many to be one of the very foundations of successful nations. It creates and nurtures healthy conceptions about relationships and sex. It produces offspring, and that helps to perpetuate society, something that non-traditional families cannot do. Additionally, studies have repeatedly shown that children have better outcomes when reared under a traditional family structure. The role of the Father and Mother are different, but complementary; when you remove one, you create an imbalance in the life experience and guidance that a child receives as they grow during their formative years. The breakdown of the traditional family into single-parent (overwhelmingly single-mother, due to the massively unjust legal system) and non-traditional families means that far more citizens have now grown up without the positive benefits of having a normal home life. I suspect the cumulative effects of this is far more damaging than we currently know.
In addition to the breakdown of two of the most important institutions in society, the GOP economic orthodoxy of free trade (and the free movement of labor that it necessitates) coupled with trickle-down economics have wreaked absolute havoc on worker salaries, benefits, and both rates & quality of employment. Salaries have been largely stagnant for decades now, resulting in a reduction in real income due to the rising cost of living and massive increases in costs such as healthcare & overcoming entry barriers to labor markets (training/licensing fees, University costs). The US has seen a massive outflow of manufacturing to foreign countries where labor costs are a tiny fraction of that commanded by US workers. Many will suggest that we’ve seen those jobs that have left be replaced by an even higher number of new open positions, but they neglect to discuss the nature of the new job openings being part-time, low-skill, and ultimately low-pay service style roles. Substantive work, for most, have left the building; we’re mostly paper-pushers and food preparation workers now. Not only have we checked out of our work, we’ve plugged into technology as an escape mechanism. We spend our lives on social media, completely disappearing into a constant stream of news and near useless commentary, generating lots of noise but no signal.
Lastly, we cannot overlook the effects of the changing demography of America on decreasing community involvement. The results are in: despite the wave of Cathedral/Synagogue propaganda, we can conclusively say that diversity is inherently divisive. As a community increases the amount of diversity within it, that results in significant reductions in social capital, contributes to the breakdown of community cohesion, and causes an increase in feelings of social ostracism. As more and more of America becomes ethnically heterogeneous, this community disengagement has been a well-documented phenomenon.
Can we really be surprised that people, particularly White men and women, are committing suicide as massively increased rates? Can we really be surprised that hard drug addictions, particularly in White communities that have been hit hard by the factors I mentioned above, have skyrocketed? Can we be surprised that Black teenagers are now en masse looking to gang members and the fantasy peddled by rap videos for guidance on appropriate behaviors when they’ve never seen a real life proper family to emulate?
How do we form a community when those within the community are vastly different from one another? Can a healthy sense of community and belonging be made when no real forms of identity are shared? Can real, meaningful bonds form over superficial similarities? Taking risks, shared struggles, and the fight for life have bound men together in stronger ways than nearly any other, but our society has shed itself of these things. Religious belief in the West means nearly nothing. Most Christian churches today are just simply the Church of Progressivism with accompanying choirs. The racial and ethnic identity of White Americans has been demonized, attacked, and deconstructed by the Marxist intelligentsia to the point where they are the only group where ethnic group identity is actively suppressed. What remains? Allegiances to sports teams (my general region is better than your general region!)? Can you create a meaningful existence and deep brotherhood from cheering for the same corporation? Can you really bond over your love of black lip gloss, wallet chains, and posters of My Chemical Romance? Proximity to others vastly different from you is not a community, it’s just a geographical area in which you happen to reside. Without addressing these issues, we will remain in a state of social isolation; no communal bonds, no shared identity with those around you, and estranged from a normal, healthy family life. Without these, we will remain rootless, with neither bark nor needles to protect us…why should we live for long?