For more than a century, writers have said, with Nietzsche, “never has the world been so lacking in love.” Of course, there are many kinds of love.
It was once though that no love is higher than the love of God. But as Nietzsche had Zarathustra say, “God is dead.” Today, atheism flourishes in the book market. One can even hear politicians in “Christian” America spout atheism—all the more so among politicians in post-Christian Europe.
Notice that democratic societies experience high rates of divorce, suicide, mental disorders, crime, and law suits. This occurs primarily in commercial democracies, where the love of wealth or materialism preoccupies the human heart.
Some have said the death of God heralds the death of man. It could be said, however, that the love of God has been replaced by the love of man—humanism. But to love humanity more than one’s neighbor renders love impersonal or empties love of passion. Humanism flourishes only in democracies. The same may be said of pacifism.
What about philosophy, the passionate love of truth, which recalls Socrates’ courageous quest for knowledge, especially of how man should live? But philosophy is dead, reduced to linguistic analysis, the preoccupation of academic philosophers. Imagine such academics drinking hemlock rather than forsake linguistic analysis!
Truth has slipped through the cracks of philosophy: there are no truths concerning how man should live. A paltry moral relativism has made nonsense of what Plato said at the death of Socrates: “of all the men of his time whom I have known, he was the wisest and justest and the best.”
In this democratic era, where all men are equal, where there is neither justice nor injustice, neither good nor evil, where “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” nothing is worth dying for. Heroic love is a delusion in the absence of truth.
And so, democracies substitute tolerance for truth as well as for love. But tolerance may be nothing more than indifference, the indifference underlying democracy’s vaunted pluralism. We have come full circle, for pluralism, by definition, denies the existence of universal truth.
Pluralism engenders multiculturalism, which leads to internationalism on the one hand, and the decline of patriotism or love of country on the other. But this merely reflects the leveling tendency of today’s humanitarianism. Contrast Abraham, the personification of Hesed, of loving kindness. Hesed transcends humanitarianism. The father of nations was not given to multiculturalism and pacifism.
Democracies degrade love by clamoring for rights vis-à-vis obligations. Whereas love involves giving, rights involve taking. What many individuals or groups call their rights are nothing more than demands made on other individuals or groups. There can be no rights without obligations.
But by constantly stressing rights, democracies spawn consumers of rights—individuals who, independently of any effort or merit on their part, insist on their entitlement to virtually all the goods or values of society. Not the right to pursue happiness, but happiness itself has become a right in the all-consuming welfare state.
Turning to another level of the subject, I have not spoken of how nudity or immodesty, so conspicuous in democratic societies, degrades love. Nudity signifies superficiality; it therefore undermines genuine love, which is intimately private.
Nudity fosters pornography, the graphic display of sexual activity, making public what is inherently private and inviting the viewer to wallow in it in the absence of love. Pornography reduces the human to the merely biological: love becomes indistinguishable from lust. Where there is genuine love, the lover cares for the beloved. Otherwise, love is nothing more than the copulation of animals.
Pornography also fosters obscene language. Foul language modulates the movies and television. Democracies flaunt obscenity and thereby degrade speech, the distinctively human. And, by sanctifying unfettered freedom of expression, democracy’s judicial elites contribute to the degradation of love.
Children are the primary victims. The mysteries of sex have long disappeared from the life of children. For this we may thank not only television but also sex education in the public schools. Stripped of romance, of chivalry and self-sacrifice, of Romeo and Juliet, children learn that love is nothing more than biological desire.
Without love, what is Democratic Man if not an ensemble of desires—none noble, none base?