550. The family (XI)
I often praise the Daily Mail and rap music because both have a raw barbarian tinge that shocks and appals civilised people who have become decadent. The Daily Mail covers the primal interests: house prices, grotesque crimes, and sex scandals. Rap music covers sex, violence, and money—similar ground—in an even more brutal and direct way. Yet tabloid journalism and rap are still decadent, both are concerned with pure quantity: more hoes, more houses, more emotional stimulation—more envy and jealousy.
However, it is possible to use this particular decadence against more severe decadence. Tabloid journalism and rap are definitely more real than, say, a Guardian article about how everyone should be a vegan to fight climate change. The Daily Mail and rap offer fewer opportunities to virtue-signal and, in fact, appal decadent Guardian readers who want to piously pretend they are distressed by Ukrainians orphans and would never be so materialistic as to earnestly worry about house prices. So it is fun to turn decadence against decadence; and the Guardian is by far worse for people in general than any Daily Mail article or rap track; and it is worse precisely because it comes with soft intellectual lights and the suggestion that what it says is very clever.
Rap and the Daily Mail are somewhat akin to the “second childhood” Spengler said that late civilisations experience. For Spengler, the second childhood referred to religion: in its vigorous and barbaric stage a culture has a naïve faith in its religion—just think about European Christianity in the 1200s; as it matures into a civilisation, a culture loses its naïve faith through reason—in the end it returns to a “second childhood” of religion; it imitates its old religiosity, except what was once naïve faith has become more like senile gullibility—in Western terms, this is the path from saints and miracles to relationship horoscopes and hipster tarot card readings; in the West’s period of high civilisation, around 1790, tarot and horoscopes were rationalised away along with formal Christian religion—the aged civilisation returns to its youthful pastimes, except its “second childhood” is suffused with half-belief.
Rap music and the Daily Mail represent the West’s “second childhood” of barbarism. Although rap is primal and so contradicts many progressive nostrums it is also only possible due to decadence. If the black American family had not been undermined by the welfare state and social liberalism, rap music would not exist. Rap is barbaric; it is about life stripped to its pure biological state: sex, violence, and material acquisition—except it is barbarism without masculine restraint; it is more like the gladiatorial spectacles in late Rome, an attempt to recapture masculine virtue in an artificial way.
Rap represents the way America’s blacks have been debased by the system; it has international appeal because it comes from a deracinated social group, slave descendants, who have been further debased to pure biological life—not everyone in the world can connect to Gospel music, but an Arab street kid and a South Korean billionaire can both “get” rap; it speaks to the lowest common denominators, sex and violence. This is a “second childhood” of barbarism: it parodies true vitality, per Cortéz and Drake, and offers a brutality that has been cultivated by decadence.
The same can be said for the Daily Mail; although its crime stories and updates on house prices do cut to what matters at base, the Daily Mail also encourages avarice and envy; it almost parodies what was once Victorian respectability—for the answer to its lurid crime stories is really to bring back capital punishment, a measure the Mail never calls for; and its obsession with material acquisition stokes the envy that eventually supports socialism and caesarism. So while both the Mail and rap offer a rebuke to the smug progressive liberal who lives in splendid isolation from nature, from biological reality, both do so in a way that represents a lesser decadence—though it is decadence nonetheless.