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Robert H. Bork_Slouching Towards Gomorrah

 

Robert H. Bork, Slouching Towards Gomorrah: Modern Liberalism and American Decline (1996; ReganBooks/Harper Collins, New York), 154-156.

 

‘The United States has surely never before experienced the social chaos and the accompanying personal tragedies that have become routine today: high rates of crime and low rates of punishment, high rates of illegitimate births subsidized by welfare, and high rates of family dissolution through no-fault divorce. These pathologies are recent, and it is now widely accepted that they are related to one another.

 

‘The proximate cause of these pathologies is the infatuation of modern liberalism with the individual’s right to self-gratification along with the kind of egalitarianism, largely based on guilt, that inhibits judgment and reform. These pathologies were easy to fall into and will be very difficult to climb out of. There is, in fact, no agreement about how to cure them. It may be, in fact, that a democratic nation will be unable to take the measures necessary, once we know what those measures are.

 

‘If radical individualism and egalitarianism are the causes, we should expect to see their various effects produced at about the same time as one another. And this is what we do see. During the same years that popular culture was becoming ever more sordid, the pathologies of divorce, illegitimacy, and crime exploded. . . . Rates of illegitimate births and the commission of serious crimes began rising together and did so at the same time in both the United States and England. . . . Crime and illegitimacy began rising rising in 1960. The men and women (or boys and girls) responsible must have been born not much later than 1945, and the culture that influenced them was that of the Forties and Fifties. The moral chaos of the universities did not become manifest until the mid-1960s. That chaos and the rhetoric and violence that went with it surely contributed to the social breakdown the crime and illegitimacy figures reflect, but they could not have caused it. This suggests further that rising crime, illegitimacy, and student rebellion had a common cause. While the middle-class student radicals turned to dreams of revolution and the destruction of institutions, some of the lower classes turned to crime and sexual license, and probably for the same reasons. That fact bodes ill because it suggests a long-developing weakening of cultural constraints, constraints it will be very hard to put back in place.’

 

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